Setting:Brighthammer 40,000/1st edition
There's some delightful hypocrisy worthy of Disney in the Tau section.
- 1 Background
- 2 The Gods of Order
- 3 The Imperium
- 4 Xenos
- 5 Persons of note
- 6 Gameplay
- 7 Artwork
In the Noble Brightness of the 41st millennium, there is only HIGH ADVENTURE!
Beginning after the ascension of the Eldar that created the Order God of Love Slaanesh some 10,000 years ago, the Emperor of Mankind appeared to ensure the noble rule of humanity as the galaxy began to make a turn for the better. In an act of supreme devotion, his most favored son Horus and several of the Emperor's noble princes, or primarchs, sacrificed their mortal form to become princes of Order within the Warp.
Since then the Emperor has ruled for 10,000 years from the Golden Throne on Terra, bringing peace, enlightenment, and joy to all mankind. There is clearly no better time to be alive.
Now the last vestiges of the Eldar go forth to ensure the joy and prosperity of other races before the last of them finally ascend, lead valiantly by the Bright Eldar. Opposing them are the dark forces of Eldrad, and these the Eldar found too impure to ascend. To this day Eldrad's convoluted schemes are a constant source of pain and discontent for the people of the Imperium of Mankind.
Across the galaxy the noble green-skinned Orks are being brutally oppressed through a volatile combination of misunderstanding and a failure to communicate.
In the distance the battle cry "For the Lesser Evil!" echoes through the lands of the eastern galaxy. The dark and chaotic empire called the Tau have formed a brutal fascist empire utilizing mind control, genocide, and cannibalistic troops just as the norm. Despite the amoral and often savage methods used to expand their domain, the Emperor believes they can be redeemed.
Hidden beneath the surface of countless worlds, the immortal Necrontyr awaken to spread the knowledge of ancient technologies to man. They spread the unheard of message that prosperity is possible without the Lords of Order, yet wherever they are found, entire worlds spring to life as if into a new genesis.
The Tyranids, the most visible member being the Zoats, parlay with the Squat homeworlds, a civilization of noble miners and proud warriors. Though negotiations take many years, the Squats eventually accept the offer of assimilation and join with the hivemind, and both groups leave the galaxy.
In the Warp, the Lords of Order are the gods of hope and compassion, Nurgle, who loves even the smallest of creatures, Tzeentch, god of knowledge and the magic of wonder, Khorne, the noble warrior king, who is the newest form of the former god of the Eldar, the savage Khaine. He is a warrior without bloodlust, sitting upon his throne of helms. Finally, the newest and for now most powerful of the gods, Slaanesh, god of love, art and joy.
Across the Imperium not all is well, however. It is a vast empire, and planets fall out of the sight of the Emperor. Corrupt politicians seek to subvert the Democratic order and ways of the Imperium. Dark tyrants seek to rise up and rebel, oppressing their people brutally. Though the Lords and Princes of Order work with the Emperor to bring civilization to all mankind, the universe remains a strange and beautiful place, filled with HIGH ADVENTURE!
The Gods of Order
Papa Nurgle is the god of compassion; he cares for all creatures, no matter how small. He is still a god of sickness and disease, but he chooses to cure, rather than inflict. Nurgle is a lord of stability, even among the other lords of Order. If he has a weakness, it is that he is unchanged and forever unchanging. He helps to build civilizations, and is a bringer of law, order, and stability. However, he is not adaptive, and some find his embrace stifling. He is not necessarily a good guy; his followers sometimes are highly oppressive.
He is the noble lord of war. He is still a war god, but a god of honorable combat. He sits upon the Throne of Relics, a throne made of captured artifacts from challengers against him, awaiting war. Khorne favors the strong above all else, and blesses those who are already mighty warriors. He does not, however, have much compassion for the weak, and does not believe in helping those who cannot help themselves. He has little mercy for those he sees as beneath his notice, but those who impress him can gain great power, and perhaps a powerful relic, taken from his throne.
This god is the most changing and adaptive of the Lords of Order, and is a god of powerful warp sorcery and knowledge. His ways are often dangerous, with a "leap before you look" sort of mentality. He is known for his cunning plans and endless schemes. Because he is the most chaotic of the lords of Order, however, he is also one of the weakest. It is his cunning plans that keep him in power.
And finally, the god(dess) of love, created by the Eldar to assist them with their ascendancy to the warp. This does not mean he/she is all pink hearts and kindness, however. Slaanesh is the lord of excess, of passion, and volatile emotion. People fall in and out of favor with Slaanesh on mere whims, and those who get his/her attentions and refuse them do not end well. Like Aphrodite, Slaanesh is not kind to those who stand in his/her way. Slaanesh is vain, ill tempered, and very easily offended. When thinking of Slaanesh, remember the story of Eros and Psyche. Love does not mean good or nice.
The Imperium of Brighthammer is what the Imperium of 40k could have been if the emperor had won his war against Chaos. In this setting, that war never happened, and the Warp is calmer and more friendly. It is in a golden age, and many of the primarchs remain to assist in his rule. As one might expect of any empire its size, there are still many problems. Militarily it is held together by the space marine legions and the Imperial Guard. However, there are other problems of a different type and scale, such as corrupt imperial governors, seditious rebels, and rogue psykers. Often these are solved by the secret agents of the emperor, the Inquisition. Other times, these problems are solved by professional adventurers, the Brighthammer equivalent of rogue traders. Across the Imperium many worlds remain in a feudal state or at varying levels of technology, as unfortunate remnants of the war against the Iron Men at the end of the Dark Age of Technology. The Imperium seeks to bring these worlds into the fold, but many are ruled by tyrants or for many reasons the Imperium will not invade directly. Therefore small groups of agents may go to these worlds and guide them until they are ready to join the Imperium.
Space Marines are the noble knights of the Imperium, and as such serve as examples of order to the Imperium at large. Far apart from merely being a powerful military faction, they are also instrumental in keeping the Imperium together and functioning.
Angry Marines are something special. On some previously corrupted worlds, some people speak in awe about marines of red and yellow that fell from the skies aboard their rhinos, to brutally and noisily destroy the source of the evil on the planet. The Angry Marines Chapter is quite a puzzling one, as their behavior differs so much from what you usually expect from noble knights. They seem to be sent in when the threat to the people of a planet is extremely serious, and no other solution can be found at the moment. Their methods are rude, their temper short, and they allow no innocent civilian loss during their missions. EVER.
Order Marines are a splinter group of Space Marines that were created during the Horus Migration. After communication with the Order Gods, Warmaster Horus and several other Primarchs decided to travel into the Eye of Harmony to better communicate with their new allies. Since then, they have occasionally reappeared in order to help beleaguered worlds. The five largest Marine Legions are sighted across the galaxy, and their assistance has been invaluable to the Imperium. Mortarion's Legion, the Death Guard, are some of the finest battlefield medics that the Imperium has seen, while Angron's World Eaters serve as protectors of the weak and innocent. The Emperor's Children, led by Fulgrim, are often sighted alongside the Iron Warriors, helping to repair and rebuild cities after a battle. Despite being potent sorcerers on the battlefield, the Thousand Sons of Magnus take after their ally Tzeentch and help to coordinate battlefield tactics. Most respected of all is the White Legion, currently led by Abaddon the Rebuilder. This Legion is a coalition of many, and a single detachments have the ability to repel enemy attacks and rebuild cities.
Quiet Marines an Order Marine Chapter devoted to Slannesh Quiet Marines are an monastic marine order which prefer the quiet solitude of peace, stillness, and silence of the natural universe. The majority of Quiet Marine fortress-chapels are usually located in the remote empty regions of interplanetary space due to their natural lack of any sound. Upon enterimg service into every Quiet Marine takes an absolute vow of lifetime silence in order to hear Slannesh's words of wisdom and lyrical poems of love and passion much easier. However this is to the exaserbation of many a ork warlord due to their inability to quickly communicate and shout orders to troops while on the battlefield.
Pretty Marines Led by their Chapter Master David Tennant. The Purty Marines as they are also jokingly known by many Orks try to further the Imperium of Man's ideal of aesthetic and physical beauty throughout the galaxy.
Reasonable Marines A military offshoot of the Ordos Explorates. Just as their name states, the Reasonable Marines are sent to various high in tension but moderate in conflict situations that require a more calm and reasonable solution. They are also sent by the Explorates to various uncharted xeno inhabited planets that at time require a military escort that must negotiate with the planets alien natives in a "reasonable" manner.
Female Space Marines Because we have the mental maturity of 12-year-olds. (Actually it is possible that Emps could have figured out how to make FSM if he hadn't been, you known, stuck on the Golden Toilet for ten fucking millennia,and also if there weren't more pressing matters like a little skirmish called the Horus Heresy.)
The Imperial Guard are normal men and women serving in the galactic military of the Imperium. They are expertly trained and the absolute best soldiers of any world they are taken from. They are largely similar to the Imperial Guard of regular Warhammer 40k, but are better trained and equipped; closer to stormtroopers than regular guardsmen. Commissars are carefully trained in the arts of war and serve to keep up morale and advise officers in its arts. Because war is relatively rare in Brighthammer 40k, they serve to keep the Guard in good working order. They always lead the charge, and are the last to retreat. In times where their units fail, Commissars have been known to take their own lives rather than face the shame of defeat, knowing it was they who were supposed to keep the unit battle ready.
His Imperial Majesty's Secret Service
When dark forces rise, the Secret Service is there to cut them out, quietly and stealthily. They are the secret agents of the Emperor, acting on his authority when all peaceful measures fail. When mad psykers arise, they are there to take them out. When corrupt governors starve their people, the Special Agents are ready to remove them. Notably, they are not as extreme as their Warhammer 40k counterparts (the Inquisition) and are mostly focused on more James Bond-like secret agent action.
The Secret Service makes use of several different specially trained operatives, apart from general Special Agents. These individuals are drawn from the elite of the elite and trained at specialized combat schools.
Callidus School is still dedicated to infiltration tactics, scouting, information gathering.
Eversor School is for assault, designed to take on even the strongest foes in single combat, and receive a number of physical, mental, and cybernetic enhancements.
Vindicare School is dedicated to the mastery of long-range, sniper-type weapons. The noble fallen knight LIVII belonged to this organization.
Culexus School trains specialized individuals who are capable of uplifting morale to immense levels and can increase the performance and natural healing abilities of their companions, despite lacking psyker capabilities. AKA, the reverse of the Pariah trait. These individuals are incredibly rare, but make highly effective team leaders.
All are recruited from existing special forces and receive the Inquisition's best training in general operations before proceeding on to their permanent combat school, in which they receive training in their specialized area.
After training at their respective schools, they go on to a third phase of training, a cross-disciplinary school for team building and mutual advancement that teaches them to recognize and use each other's strengths, thus eliminating all their individual weaknesses. After graduation, they are known as Imperial Special Forces, second only to the Astartes in terms of sheer effectiveness.
Under the command of the Grey Knights, the Adeptus Telepathica is an elite corps of the strongest and most trustworthy psykers in the Imperium. Each is first trained by the inquisition, recruited upon the Inquisitions White Ships and learning to fully harness their abilities, channeling the forces of Order for the good of mankind. Each makes a trip to Terra, where they are partially infused with the power of the Emperor, a blessing which strikes many blind. However, despite this loss, the increase in power more than makes up for it. Many are sent to serve in the Imperial Guard or as Navigators on ships that they might traverse the warp. Only the most elite, strongest in power and will are allowed to join the Adeptus Telepathica. They brave the mysteries of the warp and gain great power, using it for the good of mankind. Some psykers still go rogue, desiring to bring about ruin and destruction. It is often the Adeptus Telepathica that is tasked with their removal.
Far beyond the inner planets of the Imperium, there lay the far worlds, backwards, some advanced, some not, full of strange xenos, ancient ruins, and forgotten things. It is here the Imperium's Ordo Explorates do their work, cataloging worlds and xenos, bringing them into the fold of the Imperium.
Aided in their Expedition by the Imperial Volunteer Corps and the Witch Repentors they seek to bring order and justice to the universe, guided only by the principles written in the Codex Explorates by the wise hand of Prince Guilliman. Together they march with their solemn vow, "None Shall Know Fear," beating in their hearts.
Sisters of Rock
The Adepta Sororitas is an organization composed of the once unruly children found populating Slaaneshi monasteries, where they learn to channel their passion through art. Following graduation, the women who choose to enter the Adepta Sororitas chose to express themselves in the form of ROCK MUSIC.
Traveling between concerts and battlefields, the Sisters of Rock work tirelessly to spread the word of the Emperor and the Gods of Order in spectacular shows. In battle, they use special personal weapons such as bolt-guitars and chainguitars, and have a penchant for using sonic weaponry.
They seek Nfol; the bringer of darkness - spawn of the fallen noble warrior LIVII, former Vindicare Knight, and the dark Wych Taldeer, among the vilest of Eldrad's twisted daughters.
Agrarium of Mars
The Agrarium of Mars constantly delves into deep texts and papers on the heritage of galactic flora. They seek, revere and worship the promise of rebirth from within the deep terraformed forests of Mars. Together with the Ordo Explorates they bring life to dead planets, aid archaic populations in agriculture; their sole mission is to bring life in all it's glory to the wake of the High Adventure.
The Servitors of the Agrarium, the most revered and respected of their ranks, are summoned from only the most noble of casts for only the most pure are worthy of the ultimate gift to the Emperor. Initiate Servitors are taken by the Agrarium of Mars and infused the the Life Seed to join them with Botanigod. In their new form Servitors act as fountains of life, following the Agrarium to new worlds colonized by the High Adventure, restoring flora where it was lost and acting as a channel for the Botanigod.
But because the universe is not yet a completely safe place, they have also a military side. The Agrarium of Mars cultivates vast armies of techno-organic soldiers and machines made of flesh, vine and iron for the Imperium. Enormous treant walkers march alongside the Ordo Explorates, their watchful eyes keeping guard against those who would abuse and waste the life essence. The Agrarium ships orbit over dead and hostile planets and release their seed-bombs to spawn immediately into the Agrarium's foot soldiers and release neurotoxic spores, wreaking havoc on those who harm the Empire.
Medizin Korps of Krieg
The Medizin Korps of Krieg hail from a planet of doctors, nurses and apothecaries. They go wherever they are needed and are always the first to set foot into plague zones armed with their labs, vaccines and adept physiological perception. A team from the Medizin Korps is always on hand when visiting a xenos world, ready to study and analyze any new species with the least invasive means possible to protect life even from the microscopic enemies that plague it. Together with the Agrarium of Mars they are the life bringers, the architects of societal and ecological health and well being.
Most of the races of Brighthammer are identical to their normal Warhammer 40k counterparts, except that wherever possible they are generally bright, noble, and generally nicer. This does not mean they are pushovers, however; the technological and warfaring capabilities of these races are equal to regular 40k, if less used.
If anything, ironically, the lack of constant warfare and the general prevalence of good sense, reason, and rationality means that the races of Brighthammer are, if anything, even tougher than their normal Warhammer 40k counterparts; they know how to make their technology rather than assuming it's some ancient ritual, they've had years of peace in which to build up their forces, and are not being constantly drained of fighting-capable soldiers by endless warfare. The only thing normal Warhammer 40k has on the races of Brighthammer 40k are the numbers of experienced soldiers and sheer vile ruthlessness- but also unlike Warhammer 40k, these races would be more likely to pull their shit together if threatened, while those of Warhammer would still be infighting (depending on the threat, of course).
The Eldar are divided into two groups. The Eldar were originally an incredibly advanced society that succeeded in ascending and creating a warp god; the god of love, Slaanesh. Those that wished to remain behind to instruct other races on how to grow, change, and ascend to godhood. These are the Bright Eldar. A second faction consists of those who were too impure to rise to godhood. These chaotic Eldar are lead by Eldrad, and his schemes and machinations are a constant source of strife for everyone.
Watching over the remaining Eldar who stayed behind is the God of Guardians of Peace Kaela Mensha Khaine. Khaine's spirit resides in his various avatar statues that are scattered across the cosmos on the Craftworld vessels of the remaining Eldar
Avatars of Kaela Mensha Khaine
Legend has it that when Slaanesh, the great order God of Love and Compassion was born, Kaela Mensha Khaine was the one who stood guard over the event to keep him safe from harm and to champion his cause throughout the heavens.
When most of the Eldar ascended upon Slaanesh's birth in "The storm of great enlightenment" (Now called "The Eye of Harmony" by the empire due to the peaceful radiance filling this region of space) Khaine chose to scatter his divine essence among those who remained behind and safeguard their existence till they too joined their brothers and sisters in Order.
On each craftworld vessel you will find a room dedicated to the worship of Khaine and his sheltering hand. In each such hall stands a single bright white and gold statue of Kaine, his upraised arm holding "The Song of Hope", a great sword that is said to be the first of the 99 swords of Vaul.
While the god of Love and Compassion's influence all of the Eldar, some feel that they are too good for Slaanesh's Love and Compassion, living the city of Carnal Pleasures known as Commoragh, they bring Human and Tau over where wine, exotic Eldar dancers and song were only the tip of the iceberg. Mental carnal fantasies satiated the minds of psykers seeking forbidden knowledge or a good bloody argument or debate or things that the human body cannot imagine. About the only thing that is truly considered taboo among Slaaneshi Eldar is murder; with the punishment being eternal banishment. Few beings have ever left the city and its hedonistic ways of living.
To settle the seeds of discontent amongst those who would follow neither Eldrad or the promises of godhood, they have wandered the galaxy to find a race capable of manipulating and dominating over. The Exodite Eldar find themselves affable to the evil Tau as they planted several Ethereal members to control the Tau society to a unified movement of evil. However the most peaceful world of Biel-Tan still wishes to bring them back to the ways of the god of love and peace.
Some of the best-looking things to come out of the Human/Eldar alliance besides spacecraft are Half-Eldar or 'Peace Children'. Lynn Mínwen, the daughter of Drazhar and Celestian Miriya, is a particularly famous idol singer (while her mom is the lead guitar in the Sisters of Rock band "Emperor's Goatee"). Her music is so inspiring that it has ended wars throughout the galaxy. Her chief nemesis is Nfol, the vile spawn of the Wych Taldeer and LIVII.
Orks while are brutish-looking aliens with green skin, hulking forms, and a crude, guttural language. This belies their gentle and reclusive nature – like gorillas of Terra, Orks are physically-powerful but gentle, and mainly wish to live in peace. Lacking the sheer numbers of humanity, Orks are scattered across the galaxy on pristine, wild worlds, which they are willing to fiercely defend against unwanted interlopers such as human renegades or Exodite Eldar. This has resulted in occasional clashes with Imperial colonists, though once both sides calm down and start talking a peaceful resolution doesn’t take long.
Best described as “noble savages,” the Orks' society initially appears anachronistic and primitive, as Orks prefer to dwell in small villages rather than the gleaming spires of a human Hive World. However, Orks are capable of constructing crude-looking but deceptively advanced functional technology or “tek” that allows them to thrive on even the harshest of worlds, an ability that is partially suspected to be linked to the Orks’ inherent connection with Order.
However in reality it was later discovered that a smaller subspecies known somewhat affectionately by the Orks as "Snotlings". It is thru these Snotlings that Ork society exists at all. The Snotlings cultivate a rare type of fungus heavy in protein and various alien nutrients that rapidly develop Ork neural capacity at a near alarming rate.
In reality it is the Snotlings who are the primary political force of Ork society, they are the secret guiding hand over all Ork technological, organizational and military structure. And while Orks are the public face of their species in actuality they are only a noble warrior caste bred for the extremities of war and the occasional harshness of the outer galaxy.
And while the Snotlings produce this fungus primarily for themselves, they also realize that times and political and social structures may change, so it also is given to another slightly less advanced subspecies known as "Grotz". Termed by other Orks as "Brainboyz" they essentialy exist as middle management between the Ork and Snotling "culturz" providing services such as civic and social management to more direct command over entire Ork platoons acting as the direct hand/voice of Snotling authority.
Life in an Ork settlement is simple and harmonious, as the burly Orks spend their time hunting or protecting a smaller subspecies, the Grotz or “Brainboyz,” who are physically weak but quite intelligent and run Orkish society as benevolent leaders.
Occasionally, if an Ork settlement grows too large or the population just feels the need for a change of view, a "Waaagh!" will be launched, a combination of a militarized mass migration and a journey of self-discovery that sends the Orks out to find a new world to colonize. Typically Orks migrate to planetary regions termed by the Imperium as "Death Systems" places that would be suicidal for any avarage Human colony to go.
However for Orks the more dangerous and rugged the better. These expeditions are as much about the Orks proving their toughness and self worth as they are relocations, and Orks will frequently choose worlds deemed uninhabitable by humans, from icy moons orbiting gas giants to minuscule planetoids with caustic atmospheres to planets rife with the most dangerous sentient and non sentient xenos species imaginable.
These Waaaghs sometimes lead the Orks into Imperial space and therefore conflict with the Imperial Navy, though a few warning shots are usually enough to cause the Orks to turn around after sending a transmission amounting to “sorry boss, we’s gonna go build fings somewhere else den.”
If a Waaagh! lands on an inhabited world by accident, the result is more of a blessing than a curse, as the miners of Hephaestus IV found when they were unexpectedly rescued from a cave-in by Orkish workers. The Orks’ protective natures quickly extend to their “’oomie” neighbors and they will treat their new friends as honorary members of the tribe, gladly sharing food or resources and even defending them from external threats.
A planet inhabited by Orks will never lack for militia, mechanics, gourmet chefs or brewers, and indeed Ork fungus-beer and gourmet Juicy Squig with fine Ork sauces is some of the prime exports of some worlds (both xenos and imperial). Also many foodies from quadrants all around the imperium come from parcecs around to sample various forms of delicacies from the finest Gretchin gourmets around.
For their part, the Orks have little they want from humanity besides peace and respect…although the human game of chess has become extremely popular with the aliens, to the extent that the past five galactic champions have been Orks. Additionally, some Orks are fascinated with humanity’s musical instruments, resulting in the birth of “Goff Rock” and several Orkish musical groups currently on tour throughout the Imperium.
An automated Imperial survey probe discovered the Tau roughly six thousand years ago, and found a race of plains-dwelling aliens who had just mastered fire and lived in simple, hunter-gatherer societies. An expedition was sent to offer the xenos the Imperium's friendship, but a sudden and unexplained interstellar storm of immense power enveloped the sector, cutting it off from the rest of the galaxy. These storms have recently abated, and a follow-up survey has shocked the Imperium - in only six millennia, the Tau had been transformed from a peaceful but primitive civilization to a fascist, expansionist, star-spanning empire possessing advanced technology and insatiable bloodlust, making them one of the greatest threats facing the galaxy.
Somehow, the Exodite Eldar had come across the young Tau and proceeded to manipulate and mold the Tau into creatures more like themselves. For centuries the Exodites set various petty Tau kingdoms and city-states against each other, plunging their world into chaos which nearly wiped out the race. But then the Exodites capriciously changed their minds, and decided to unite the Tau under one order. Using blasphemous bio-engineering, the Exodites bred a subspecies of Tau that possessed the pheromone glands of an insectoid alien race, granting them absolute control over other Tau. These "Ethereals" became the Exodites' mouthpieces in Tau society, and with the help of Eldar technology quickly built a brutal world government before spreading into nearby star systems.
Tau society is strictly divided into a caste system, supposedly a society of equals, in reality a strict hierarchy. The Earth Caste are the lowliest Tau, slaving away in terrible conditions to keep the empire supplied with the wargear and supplies that fuel its aggressive expansion. The luckiest of the Earth Caste get to work on miserable farms and live in hopeless drudgery; the unlucky ones are sent to hellish factories, where maimed workers are thrown out in the streets to die.
The Water Caste are derided as conniving and untrustworthy schemers, merchants and diplomats who cheat and swindle those they come across. They mostly prey on too-trusting human societies bordering the Tau Empire, selling malfunctioning and downright dangerous equipment for outrageous prices, then laughing when their customers are killed or crippled after their purchases blow up in their faces. Worse, the Water Caste also attempts to convince human worlds to renounce the Emperor’s benevolent rule for the empty promises of Tau society, bringing in new worlds of unwitting slaves for the Tau Empire. For this reason, the Imperium has forbidden its citizens from dealing with the Tau, and dispatched Special Agents to borderworlds in order to protect people from these charlatans.
The Tau’s Air Caste are haughty and cowardly, preferring to rain destruction from far above their enemies rather than engage in a fair fight. They provide pilots and crews for the Tau’s navies and build the starships that allow the empire to expand, but the rest of the Tau view them with distrust at best. The Air Caste are notorious for launching unprovoked and unannounced orbital bombardments on defenseless worlds, laying waste to entire continents for the perverse glee they find in destroying a helpless foe.
The Fire Caste are near the top of the Tau’s social hierarchy. These short-tempered and burly creatures are ostensibly the defenders of the empire, but in reality serve as the backbone of the Tau police state. They spend much of their lives training for combat in vicious live-fire exercises that frequently result in deaths, or else spend their free time bullying the other subraces of Tau. In combat they howl with barely-contained bloodlust, and are known for using prisoners-of-war as target practice, if they bother to take prisoners at all.
But all Tau live in constant terror of the Ethereal Caste, so-named because they appear to be both everywhere and nowhere, an intangible and all-encompassing presence in Tau society. These Tau devote their lives to preserving the order of the Tau Empire, by operating extensive surveillance networks that keep every Tau watching what they say, even when they think they’re alone. If an Ethereal suspects a Tau of treason – or is simply feeling bored – they will order that Tau to kill himself, an order that is instantly obeyed. A paranoid and suspicious group, the Ethereals have a grim, dark view of the universe, and believe that the Tau are surrounded by hostile aliens and beset from within by treacherous segments of their population. They hold that there are no good actions possible in such a galaxy, and instead take the “Lesser Evil” needed for survival. This Imperium has noted with considerable alarm that this philosophy has begun to spread through parts of its own population, driving cynics and nihilists to commit atrocities that they claim are justified by the grim(noble), dark(bright) world they live in. (Lulz, contradiction.)
For now, the Imperium has reluctantly steeled itself for war with the Tau, and has prepared its worlds on the Eastern Fringe for wave after wave of frothing Fire Warriors. But the Emperor holds out hope that the Tau can be redeemed – indeed, one Fire Caste commander has seen the Ethereals for the manipulative tyrants they truly are and has revolted, taking a few Tau colonies with him. This commander, named “Farsight” by his adoring troops, has opened diplomatic ties with the Imperium, and has been promised support for the inevitable counter-attack from his misguided kin.
The story of the Necrontyr is also that of the terrible Great Old Ones from a time before the rise of Humanity. Once, before the birth of the Gods of Order, the Warp was not the peaceful, structured paradise it is today. Instead, it was the plaything of the Great Old Ones, abominable, xenophobic creatures hell-bent on the destruction of all life apart from themselves. The peaceful Necrontyr, which had been blessed with immortality by the life-giving rays of their sun, were one of the first races to fall afoul of their attention. The first skirmishes between the Necrontyr and the Great Old Ones went poorly for the Necrontyr, unused to war as they were, were quickly pushed back to their home world.
While desperate to find some means of defending themselves against the Great Old Ones, the Necrontyr scientists realized on comparing data with the returning refugees that the calm, unchanging surface of their own star was unusual within the galaxy. On investigating, they discovered that the reason for this was that their system had been chosen as the stewardship of one of the great shepherds of life, the C'tan that would later become known as the Daybringer. Upon explaining to the Daybringer the horrors that were being visited upon the galaxy by the Great Old Ones, the Daybringer quickly rallied its fellows to the aid of the Necrontyr.
Driven into disarray by the counterattack of the C'tan and the resurgent Necrontyr, the desperate Great Old Ones turned from genocide to genetic slavery, engineering warrior slaves from the biospheres of countless worlds, including the ancestors of the Eldar and the Orks, and granted these thralls the ability to use the Warp as weapons against their foes, resulting in the deaths of nearly all of the C'tan over the course of the war. However, despite the attempts of the wicked Great Old Ones tried to twist these races into their image they proved more open to the ideals of peace and brotherhood championed by the Necrontyr, and one by one they turned on their oppressors, and with them, the Warp also began to change, robbing the Great Old Ones of much of their power as the warp entities that would later grow become the Gods of Order and their servants began to refuse to be responsible for the destruction that the Great Old Ones called on them to wreak.
In the end, however, the threat of the Great Old Ones had to be ended permanently, and to spare the other races from having to bear the guilt of this deed, the Necrontyr and C'tan took the burden upon themselves of removing the Great Old Ones from the galaxy. Wracked with remorse at having destroyed another sapient species, regardless of the necessity of the deed to the peace of the galaxy, the Necrontyr and C'tan sealed themselves in meditation within monasteries beneath the surfaces of worlds spread across the galaxy, awaiting a time when they might be able to redeem themselves of the crime they were forced to commit.
Hailing from a remote world perhaps not even located in the Milky Way Galaxy, the Tyranids were first encountered on the Imperial world of Tyran, thus earning their namesake. The Imperium's initial contact with the Tyranids was relatively peaceful, though Imperial diplomats were somewhat unnerved by the aliens' bizarre appearance and oddly-designed ships, and communication proved difficult even with the aid of a psyker translator. The Tyranids seemed to sense this unease and very politely requested to take DNA samples from the lifeforms of Tyran in order to further their research. After some negotiation, the humans agreed, and the Tyranids promptly left, seeming to disappear from the galaxy without a trace.
Nearly 200 years later, the Tyranids returned in the form of a "Genesis Fleet," a large convoy of living starships that seeded barren worlds with bizarre and beautiful forms of life. Wherever this Genesis Fleet went, dozens of meticulously crafted biospheres were left behind, each largely hospitable to humanoids and full of fascinating wildlife and ecosystems. The Tyranids left a trail of "Eden Worlds" behind it, each more exotic and fascinating than the last, until the Genesis Fleet finally met with Imperial diplomats once again. Taking new human-like forms, the Tyranids' diplomats explained that they were a race of bioengineers and terraformers seeking to study the life-forms of the universe and use their genetic data to create the perfect planet, and that the Eden Worlds were attempts that didn't quite meet their exacting specification. After additional negotiation, the Tyranids were granted the right to populate select desolate worlds on the outskirts of Imperial territory however they saw fit.
While most prefer to travel with the Genesis Fleet, a few Tyranids have settled in the Imperium, taking forms more familiar to humanity by mixing its DNA with their own. These Tyranids find great success in serving as botanists, naturalists, or ecologists, but some make use of their race's mastery of the double helix. These so-called "Gene Merchants" collect genetic data from plants, animals, and citizens, using their bio-wizardry to cure diseases and maintain the balance of local ecosystems, making them natural allies of the Agrarium of Mars. Some Gene Merchants have reportedly ensconced themselves in Space Hulks, cultivating gardens and aviaries while fighting off space pirates and hostile aliens as they try to modify the derelict spaceships to provide aid to stranded or wayward travelers.
Sadly, the time of the Tyranids may be ending. The Genesis Fleet will soon complete its journey across the galaxy, and unless some incredible new life-form is added to their genetic banks, the aliens will likely begin the long, silent voyage to another galaxy as they continue their never-ending quest to build the perfect world. The Tyranids will leave behind hundreds of miraculous Eden Worlds as their legacy and gift to this galaxy, as well as those of their race that have chosen to live among humanity.
Persons of note
Sir Robin Fitzgerald
A Imperial Guardsman, a Captain in the Praetorian 115th Regiment. He is a renown sportsman who enjoys a good game of Chess, along side his Man-Servant, Archibald. His primary chess opponents are the Brutish, but misunderstood, Orks. Often, his Man-Servant will play a game of Chess (or if he must, Checkers! Oh how uncivilized!) with Grots whilst his master and the Orks have a jolly good time at chess.
His other favorite spot of fun, would be in wild life hunting. Specifically, the barbaric Kroot. All his hunting lances and lasguns are set to not kill their prey, so as the hunt may continue another day. Indeed! Life with Robin is a jolly good show.
A rogue Tau mad scientist, Fum'aan Shu'u is a menace to everyone in the galaxy, including his own race. With his numerous and loyal henchmen, scattered all across Tau and Imperium Space, he works on diabolical plans to rule the universe.
Some say he could even have opened, in some hidden facility, an artificial warp gate to another dimension, where the Order Gods are evil parodies of themselves...And that he tries to create a bizarre army of corrupted human space marines and demons, all of them the results of "chaos" twisted powers.
Sister Sinai lives together with her Vindicare husband in a town, after having been granted a honorable discharge after having stopped a corrupted Special Agent from doing the bidding of the Tau Empire. She has been given technology to help her continue on with her life, after the accident which ended up showing why the Vindicare are some of the most valuable servants of humanity and all their allies. While she still spends much of her time thinking about religion, that still doesn't mean that she is as obsessed with it as some parody works tend to depict religious people.
At least once a week, the two of them, Sinai and her Vindicare, go out and have a dinner, talking about anything they feel like and generally having a good time.
The God-Emperor of Man
The guy so awesome the entire galaxy bows to him. Created in the distant past by countless warp shamans coming together to form a single being, that he might be able to guide all mankind to a brighter tomorrow from the shadows. After the disastrous war with the Iron Men during the Dark Age of Technology, the Emperor lead his newly created force of noble, genetically enhanced knights known as the Space Marines on a crusade to rebuild the galaxy. In battle, he is a warrior without peer, a psyker powerful enough to create supernova, and a tactician beyond measure. In battle he wields a mighty Hammer of Light; which channels his formidable powers as a psyker into pure destructive energy with each blow. He has been known to loan out this hammer to the mightiest adventurers on their direst missions, and it has been at the forefront of many victories at the hands of Mankind. He personally started the tradition of showing rank by wearing giant hats (unwittingly) due to his habit of wearing a giant golden Sombrero. The Sombrero has two life-sized golden eagles that shoot plasma bolts from their eyes, and the weight of it is such that it would instantly snap the neck of any other who tried to wear it. He is largely similar to the Warhammer 40k Emperor, but never battled Horus, with his son instead peacefully ascending to a higher plane. Instead, he rules the galaxy from the golden throne. Also, he has a goatee, which makes him the coolest human alive.
An Eldar Farseer. Eldrad's daughter, and a brilliant strategist that assures any war that breaks out is quick and resolved immediately with the help of her sister and partner, Taldeer. She is also known to be rather emotional and sleeps with quite literally anything that catches her eye, although her true love is the Emperor, whom she is engaged to, and will marry someday.
This is a setting best adapted for Dark Heresy games and for Kill-Team scenarios in regular tabletop 40k, due to its emphasis on adventure and heroics.