In the grim darkness of the far future, there is always Hope.
Dave here again. A few people over on Instagram and Twitter have been asking about the fiction and gaming purpose of my last few pieces. I thought I’d write up a little intro to my world-building attempt.
Hope is a planet hidden from the larger galaxy. Its original inhabitants were human, colonists from the early days of human expansion. Over thousands of years, they developed, warred, regressed, and eventually settled into an agrarian society.
Three thousand years ago, two badly damaged vessels emerged from the warp above the planet and plunged through the atmosphere, crashing on opposite hemispheres. The first ship’s reactor drive detonated catastrophically, igniting its weapons payload. The resulting firestorm plunged the planet into a nuclear winter that lasted a hundred years.
The second ship came apart in the atmosphere. It’s occupants survived the crash, only to be confronted by a world on fire.
Over the next thousand years, the planet began to recover. Technology and alien biology from the ship crash integrated into recovering ecosystems and culture. The result was a mish-mash of human, xenos and machine; mankind, technology and nature creating amazing and bizarre new forms. Pockets of human civilization have grown up, some small, some great; from shanty-towns and small outposts to mighty city-states and airborne metropolises. Religions and cultures are many and varied. Strange creatures, machine and flesh, dominate the wilderness, shaped into oddly familiar forms by unknown forces.
There is no way to leave the planet. Over the years there have been attempts; some bright individual builds a ship, and takes off into the void. Every single attempt has met with destruction. As soon as any object leaves the atmosphere, it is destroyed in a blaze of fire. Likewise Astropathic communication simply does not work; human psykers for the most part are only thinly connected to the warp, their powers diminished. The same does not seem to be true for the myriad creatures of the planet. Magic and nature are connected on a deep level on Hope.
So Hope is cut off from the rest of the galaxy. It’s a natural wilderness much like the Pacific Northwest of our Earth; great forests, lakes and mountain ranges cover much of its surface. One great ocean covers fully half the surface of the world. And scattered across land and sea, humanity survives. Unaware of the existence of the Imperium, Xenos races or the Chaos Gods, the great Recovery rolls on.
Hope is a project that has really taken on a life of its own. Over the past couple of years of hobby, I’ve begun to think of all the disparate bits of work I’ve done as part of a shared narrative. They definitely didn’t start out that way! It was around the time that the Dark Millenium boxset dropped that I began to invent the idea of a planet cut off from the rest of the Imperium where I could explore some ideas that didn’t have to fit into the larger “grimdark” narrative of the 40K universe. Relentless bleakness has it’s charms, but I sense in some of the new narrative around Guilleman that there could exist a sense of optimism in 40K and felt inspired to pursue that; though I have no doubt that Guilleman’s idealism is only there in order to be crushed in a later story arc. Plus I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is a big influence on me and she’s now at an age where she’s making up her own stories about ‘dad’s little guys’ that are completely out of left field, and fire my imagination to no end. Her inventiveness and directness in storytelling is how Hope got named.
The tone of the project is different from 40K. It’s still pulpy, but Hope has a much more “80s kids adventure movie” vibe, with a healthy dose of the weird mixed in. I didn’t want to take the universe quite so seriously and honestly, I get to play with the pieces, and not worry about any of the existing lore. I can ignore the galactic-scale conflict, and pretty much anything else I need to. I keep it connected to the existing universe so I can work in some obscure references and acknowledge the debt my work has to the incredible creative legacy of GW.
If I had to summarize the primary influences they’d be roughly these:
- Goonies/Indiana Jones/80s adventure movies
- TV shows like Adventure Time/Gravity Falls/X-Files/Twin Peaks/Eureka/Eerie, Indiana
- The landscape of the Pacific Northwest, for it’s beauty, wildness and ability to hide all manner of strangeness in its forests and small towns.
- Cryptids and folk/urban legends (mothman, sasquatch, black-eyed children, etc)
- Fallout 4 for mood, sense of humor and vision of humans surviving a hostile world in a myriad of ways.
- Old school Rogue Trader purely for it’s weirdness!
I should mention that I have no gameplay ambitions for the work at the moment. I just don’t have time to play, and I’ve mentioned many times before that the gaming side of the hobby just doesn’t really interest me all that much. So nothing’s going to be a ‘counts as’ by design. I still like basing the pieces on GW standard bases, but that’s more of a stylistic choice than anything. I just like the way they look.
I have a ton more writing done already, a load of ideas for characters, organizations, monsters, and places. I have the seeds of a story I’d like to tell, about an explorer called Sura Mead, her sentient flying boat and their adventures across Hope. From the skyborne heliopolis of the Sunrise Collective through Hollowland to the Farwood, meeting with the Divers in the Martenne Lakes and racing witchbirds to the soundtrack of Radio New Xerxes, I’m excited to develop this weird little idea and see where it leads.