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Anti-Matter 40k


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I play 40k with my family at home (the only good thing about quarantine was that we got most of our minis painted), and we’re using a heavily homebrewed 3rd-5th pastiche that allows us to create narrative campaigns without anyone feeling cheated because of a broken list. We also play 1st edition Space Hulk and Advanced Space Crusade with rule streamlining, so that’s the kind of family we are. When we were playing once, she commented that our game was an alternate universe 40k, like the anti-matter universe in Justice League.


And that got me thinking.


Now that the ideas are in some kind of order, I thought I’d share them.


OK, so the idea behind the Chaos Marines is that they are sort of the dark mirrors of the loyalists already (SoH vs. Ultramarines, Blood Angels vs. Night Lords, Iron Warriors vs. Imperial Fists, and so on) with some deviations to keep the parallel from being too direct. But that’s not what an antimatter universe is. It’s not that the bad guys are twisted versions of yourself, it’s literally “evil twin” syndrome.


That the idea that struck me as interesting – kind of like the Dornian Heresy this site did earlier. An alternate universe where all the details were backwards.




  • The Emperor is still a powerful psychic, but his plan was to psychically consume all the Chaos Gods and become the One and Only God of All Things.
  • Unification Wars. During his conquest of Terra, he discovered that his Thunder Warriors were being improved upon by the techno-barbarian warlords in the form of the Primarchs. Enraged, he led an attack on the clone labs where they were being grown and used the power of the Chaos Gods to scatter them across the galaxy.
  • The Great Crusade. The Primarchs built small Dominions of their own, becoming powerful warlords. When the Emperor’s armies reached their borders, each one of them was reunited with their would-be assassin, and swore vengeance. The Emperor had teeming hordes of slave armies and Thunder Warriors corrupted (enhanced?) by the powers of Chaos. Each of the Primarchs creates a clone army from their genetic code, who come to be collectively known as Space Marines. At first, there were legions of them, but as they conquered regions further away, they became fragmented and independent. Soon, war has broken out in every region of the galaxy. 


Heresy Era


  • The Horus Heresy. The War Against the Emperor was as much a galactic war with at least twenty sides at any given time – the only thing each of the Primarchs had in common was desire to keep or expand their own power base. Alliances rose and fell, the power of Chaos expanded and contracted, as whole parts of the galaxy were consumed and reconquered over and over again. The war took 20 years, during which time genetic instabilities in the Primarchs either begin to kill them or turn them into horrible mutations.
  • The Siege on Terra. Eventually, a loose coalition of Marine Legions invades Terra (which by now is a full-fledged Daemon World), overthrows The Emperor and wires him into the Astronomicon on Mars so they can use him to navigate through the Warp. The remaining Thunder Warriors were given Mars to rule as long as they kept the Emperor imprisoned there and kept the Astronomicon working. Terra becomes a prison planet, where humans are exiled when they want you to die, but they want it to take a long time and be horrible.
  • The next few millennia are spent with every planetary Dominion fighting against each other as each of them tries to conquer as much of the galaxy as it can, as well as reconquer the warp-infested regions of the galaxy.


Modern Times

  • The Galaxy is a massive patchwork of interstellar Dominions, ruled by Space Marine Tyrants (normal and Chaos varieties), insane political cults, Technocracies, military dictatorships, Daemon Lords, Genestealer-led cults, and alien civilizations. It’s a Machiavellian nightmare where Social Darwinism rules supreme.
  • The galaxy has no memory – the past is usually ignored in favor of the present. What is known about the past is fragmented and passed along informally. People just aren’t interested.
  • The major alien threats are the Kroot, the Hrud (Space Skaven), the Squats, and The Laer (basically Tyranids, but allied with Slanessh).
  • Chaos is seen as a sort of semi-sentient energy, essentially a side-effect of Psychic power, and an occupational hazard. It can become dangerous, but it’s value seems to be greater than it’s threat (think nuclear power in our own world).
  • There are no Tyranids – Genestealers are a species all their own that parasitically infect every other species like DNA locusts.
  • The Ork race is under the control of the Brainboyz (highly intelligent runts) who direct their worker/ soldier slaves in an ordered society that might be the stable Dominion in the galaxy.
  • The Eldar are basically pirates using the Harlequin rules. No greater civilization. 

So what does everyone think? I like it for the modelling opportunities, but the setting itself seems like it has some promise. Right now, I’m playing Omega Marines, and have started an Index Astartes article for fun. If anyone is interested, I’ll post it when I’m done. If not, I’ll keep this idea to myself... or inflict it on my long-suffering family.


Comments welcome, and thanks for taking the time!

Edited by Camillo
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Thanks, that was a favorite of mine too. It solved so many problems  – like Him being imprisoned and continuously sacrificed, and the Thunder Warriors (Custodes) being wardens instead of bodyguards. I was thinking about the idea that The Emperor, far from being a desiccated husk, is a desperate, imprisoned Daemon Prince, and the “Golden Throne” is leeching away his Chaotic energy to power the psychic beacon. He keeps trying to escape his confinement but has been thwarted so far by the Custodes.


One of the things about the Marines I was thinking about is that rather than being effectively immortal, they are in a state of constant decline – the cloning process creates as many problems as it solves. Some Marine groups have turned to implanting the organs into human hosts, who act as incubators for the genetic process. This works a little better, but is far from ideal for the host, many of whom die as the implanted organs reject and devour them. Only the strongest in will and physicality survive the process. 


This means that from the moment you get the implants, you are under the gun. If battle doesn’t kill you, your own organs will. You have a brief, chaotic time to make your mark on the galaxy before you die and are forgotten. There are things that can be done to extend your lifespan (bionics, sacrifices to the Chaos Gods, cannibalism...), but there is no “cure.” This makes Marines more interested in using their might to achieve short-term things; they don’t expect to be around for long. Being a Space Marine is a death sentence. 


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I was a bit sceptical, when I started reading your post, but I really like it. The more I read through the Horus Heresy Novels, the more I think that it was merely pure chance which Legion turned chaos and which stayed loyal. Not to mention the fact, that virtually everyone in the canon Imperium is a convinced fascist, and by no means anything that even comes in the proximity of "good". So … having all the Primarchs and Legions fight against each other and the Emperor is in many ways more fitting aaand … more grimdark (if that's possible at all).


I would consider putting dark and bright sides in all Legions / Chapters. Blood Angels and Space Wolves are currently the most obvious ones with very dark sides. But finding more dark sides for the normally good Legion / Chapters ist quite fun (did that for the Raven Guard myself). And looking for good things in the canon-traiter Legions / Chapters might be even more fun. (Alpha Legion and Iron Warrior instantly come to mind.)


The only thing I don't like about your idea is the absence of the Tyranids. They are a threat like no other in the Galaxy and – more importantly – they are the ultimate enemy, but I wrote down all my reasons, why I like the Nids alread here … maaaybe it's changes your mind a bit.

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Neat, if somewhat complicated. "Everything backwards" is always a complicated concept, of course, because of where to draw the line on what is to be reversed. 




I'd have the Primarchs be created by the Emperor from Chaos magic - he seeks to rule Chaos, after all. Then they turn on him because his Warmaster is convinced of the wisdom of Malal. Or atheism. Or an alien coalition, seeking to use the forces of humanity to wipe Chaos from the galaxy. Or all three, even. One can even argue that each Primarch represents a different facet of Chaos. 


There are several reasons to do this, but most prominently is it keeps them much more unified conceptually and related to each other. If they were really scattered across the galaxy, their armies would all be wildly different and probably not Space Marines (and clones of Primarches =/= Space Marines). If they all start from the single source, it simplifies things, and you still get your Emperor-as-Daemon-Prince and Chaos-as-tool options. Also, if the creation of a Space Marine involves Chaos magic, there is an obvious source for corruption etc, yet also a reason for Chaos to be being approached in a systemic-as-a-tool fashion. 


I'd lean toward the alien council idea, or possibly having some of the more looks/efficiency/whatever-obsessed Primarchs become disgusted with the Chaos corruption the Emperor is pushing. 


If the Orks are orderly and regimented, it is hard to explain how incredibly disciplined and intelligent fungus-spore-men don't literally own the galaxy. 


Also, the Laer should definitely be pro-Emperor somehow. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

If the Orks are orderly and regimented, it is hard to explain how incredibly disciplined and intelligent fungus-spore-men don't literally own the galaxy.



Perhaps whatever quirk makes them intelligent/disciplined could also largely neutralise their numerical advantage somehow?


Or maybe have The Emperor do some vile ritual at Ullanor that casts down the Orks' greatest hero and renders the Orks a slowly dying race in the process through Chaos Magic?


It's a fun idea, all the same.

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