Next month, I'll be returning to Warhammer World to continue the on-going series of linked games aboard the Arkke/Yggdrassilium. The photographs of those games are the most viewed article on this blog, and as I get myself back into the setting whilst I prepare my forces again, I thought I'd write a little more as to just what that setting is, and my take on some topics that relate to it.
The space hulk is one of the most enigmatic and tragic concepts of 40k lore: a series of horrendously fused space-ships, long-dead craft and interstellar flotsam, amalgamated by accident and fate, like a Frankenstein's monster of calcified metallic shit cursed to drift hopelessly alone. Some hulks are so vast they command their own atmosphere and gravitational pull, frequently drawing yet more appendages into their vast, pathetic bulk, like a Siren calling a sea-faring vessel to it's doom. Larger than planets, and defying all the architectural logic or aesthetic consideration of man or xenos, they are as a great cancerous cell, adrift in space.
More treacherous still than it's physical composition, though, is the hulk's tenuous grip on reality: shifting in and out of the warp, these vast forms appear and disappear at random into the immaterium, often spilling into reality with devastating effect on those celestial bodies, or space-faring craft, that the hulk emerges adjacent to, or worse, in the very same physical space as. Planets are ripped off axes by the sudden emergence of an enormous gravitational pull; worlds are torn asunder by, and fused with, hulks materialising into their very being; ships find their course suddenly blocked by an impassable and un-navigable mass. The hulks themselves drift unknown or forgotten in the impossibility of the warp, enormous ghost vessels adrift beyond space, time or comprehension - disappearing from reality to re-emerge in a space long since dead, or yet to be born.
Smaller hulks will have a different effect on celestial bodies as the two move through the immaterium: all planets cast a shadow in the warp, a dark mirror of their own physicality. Unguided by navigators or seers, the hulks pass through these shadows, causing ripples in the actuality of the lived planet. Similarly, these planet-shadows spill through the corridors, rooms and caverns of the hulks, printing themselves on the floors, walls and surfaces like chiaroscuro patterns from invisible structures, long since passed. As light takes minutes to arrive from one star to another body, these shadows are cast long after the two forms slip through one another, either side of a thin veil of reality. Sometimes these shadows fuse, and darkened passages become black pits in which this veil of reality is disrupted - a tunnel in a cavern, a forgotten cupboard on an Imperial ship, a darkened wood, the depths of an ocean - leading into vast, impossible, ruins on a hulk adrift countless millions of miles away.
And what of those unfortunates cast adrift on these vast craft? What of the crew of the ships fused into one another, or those souls on a planet cut into the same physical space as a hulk, only to be dragged away into the warp? What of those fools that board these haunted phantoms, either to purge, to hide, to flee, through naivete or through misadventure?
This is the tiny corner of 40k lore that the Yggdrassilium campaign grows from and develops within: the wretched, the forgotten and the hopeless aboard such a vast craft, adrift in time and space. A space so huge and so fractured, many of it's inhabitants will have no recollection of who their ancestors are, their forefathers, their original destiny, the Imperium at large, or even that they are adrift in space at all. The last survivors of generations of inbreeding, fratricide and gang warfare. These are our forgotten few. These are the gangs of the Yggdrassilum.