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Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?
Author MessageUltimate Grimdark Concepts?
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Post: #1
Question  Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?Admiral 08-10-2018

Games Workshop's worlds of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40'000 have long since had a reputation for sheer utter cruelty, mind-boggling malice and harshness built into the worlds themselves. Small wonder, given how both are based they on real human history, and how they are both inspired by heavy metal rock album covers, Dune and so on, refined by various learned minds and talented hands, not least John Blanche with his distinctive style. Age of Sigmar started out with a hopeful note in the background story, yet grim darkness seems to be on the rise there as well at the moment.

A harsh world of conflicts and unforgiving hatred makes for a great backdrop scene for stories to play out on, allbeit when taken overboard it also limits the stories that can be told by shutting out subtleties with barriers of bottomless animosity (e.g. the watertight barriers between uncorrupted Dwarfs and Chaos Dwarfs in WHFB which makes any interaction other than violence most unlikely).

Loved and loathed, whether hailed as exquisite narrative settings or exaggerated to the point of "grimderp", the grimdark is a strong feature of Warhammer settings' backstories.

Do you have any favourite concepts of grimdark? It could be moments of stories or bizarre artwork or models, and they certainly need not be from Games Workshop settings. If pictures are involved, then please share! Happy

What made me post this was my brother coming up with a 40k-ish RPG character idea yesterday, of a cyborg who had died in his robotic harness, yet whose exoskeleton steams on with dead weight strapped inside it. That jokingly-intended zomborg must come close to the top of most grimdark concepts I've ever stumbled across. In official background, the Daemonforged Hellcannon with ammunition of mortal souls ranks in the very top, and that concept continues to inspire many Chaos Dwarf stories to this very day (it's got fantastic and inspiring narrative reverberations).

And likewise for 40k with its Golden Age of Technology human civilization's most advanced and psyker-tolerating worlds being the most ripe targets for Daemonic forces through Psykers, while only superstitiously backward and witch-hunting colonies survived: The grim darkness is written into the very structure of that universe.

As to artwork, these two pieces spring to mind, among a host of others:

And a random Blanche artwork, because mention of grimdark wouldn't be complete without his lifework of art:

And outside GW, an honourable mention goes to Disciples of Lughar in the Ninth Age, i.e. Daemonically possessed Infernal Dwarf berzerkers on fire, here illustrated as a K'daai Cultist with glowing runes carved into his flesh, by Helblindi. Lovely over-the-top grimdark idea and visual:


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This post was last modified: 08-10-2018 09:24 AM by Admiral.

08-10-2018 09:23 AM
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RE: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?Skink 08-10-2018

I like to have my grimdark pushed to the very edge, where humanity is either on the brink of extinction, or where people get (really) crazy. Either way, if I am in the mood for such stories, i tend to like lots of gore and splatter.

-In terms of comics I like Berserk. A guy living in the Middle Ages swinging an impossibly huge sword and turning everything into a fine red paste? Count me in. Ah, the comic also sports plenty of fantasy elements, and a huuuuuuuuge amount of insanity on display.

-In terms of sci-fi, does anyone remember a veeeery old novel from the early 90s? Called "I have no mouth and I must scream"? Boy, was that a masterpiece (albeit REALLY messed up).

-Grimdark settings can also be nice, cute, cuddly, and painted in lovely pastel colors (no seriously). If you never checked out Minna Sundberg's work then google "stand still, stay silent", a completely free webcomic. In this reality the world has fallen to a weird illness that transforms all living creatures in amorphous horrors, and the only survivors are Scandinavians, who all went back to their viking days (with guns!).

-Video games? Dark Souls. Or Silent Hill.

-In term of movies I was positively impressed by "the road" with Viggo Montersen. If you feel really happy, in an extremely good mood, full of hope for your future, and you really hate yourself because of this, then watch this movie. It can get hearthbreaking if you have kids though.

Now, do you think that there is such a thing as "too much" Grimdark? I believe so. Has any of you ever read "Crossed"? Yish. Like, the f**k?

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This post was last modified: 01-11-2019 06:03 AM by Skink.

08-10-2018 10:59 AM
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RE: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?Dînadan 08-11-2018

One of my favourite bits of Grimdark is in one of the Ciaphas Cain novels it’s mentioned that in the Imperium a popular children’s song is “The tracks in the Land Raider Crush the Heretics...” (ie a 40k version of “The Wheels on the Bus...”).  

Another is a hilarious example of Ork mentality - the fluff bit of an Ork Warlord who accidentally travelled back in time so tracked down and killed his past self just so he could have two copies of his favourite gun.  And then the resulting paradox gave his Waagh! such a headache that it just dispersed rather than destroying the space time continuum.

I also like the defunct WHFB fluff about the Gods of Order who instead of being good guys were just as bad as the Chaos Gods.  And speaking of defunct Warhammer gods, there’s the Chaos God of Atheism who gets weaker the more followers he has instead of getting more powerful and is more liable to smite anyone who prays to him rather than bless them.

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08-11-2018 07:28 PM
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RE: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?Grimstonefire 08-14-2018

I have to say that the Emperor is pretty much grimdark personified.

Tens of thousands of years old, decaying, regenerating..., worshiped by billions, fed by the souls of untold thousands of innocents and still strong enough to project his will across the universe.

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08-14-2018 12:14 PM
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Chaos Dwarf Hero

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RE: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?boyfights 08-14-2018

My favourite example still has to be in Planescape: Torment when the full extent of what your character has done to Dak'kon in revealed (not sure I need to avoid spoiling a 20 year old game but you never know!). The player character's other atrocities certainly rate as well, but that one always stood out to me as exceptionally dark.

08-14-2018 01:28 PM
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RE: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?Forgefire 08-15-2018

Hmm. Id say i like the time spent in Moria in lotr. Just as i like the dwarfs in warhammer for their constant struggle against the darkness and all expeditions to lost holds! Im a bit sad there isnt many books on the subject!

08-15-2018 07:41 AM
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