Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dwarves…
So as has been foretold, 8th edition for 40K is around the corner. The official announcement’s hit, followed quickly by a FAQ that provides helpful answers to all life’s burning questions. It’ll be a new edition with new rules, new organizations, and almost certainly, new models.
And sure, Games Workshop spells out very clearly in that FAQ of theirs that they aren’t blowing up the setting, nor are they invalidating whole faction’s worth of models whole cloth. So it doesn’t seem like they’re going to go full Age of Sigmar on this new edition….BUT… I do think we’re going to see some new minis–and the new grouping of factions into Imperial, Chaos, and Xenos has me wondering if we’ll see anything new (or at least a return to/revision of some old favorites).
8th Edition…all Hrud all the time…
And while we can’t say for sure, I think after the recent release of the Kharadron Overlords, it’d be really neat to see how they reinterpret one of the classic factions. It could be just the shot in the arm one of the flagging factions needs–after all, the Kharadron Overlords breathed new life into the Dwarves.
That faction didn’t just change what they were called, or how they look–they changed the way the faction played out. Where before the dwarves were a sort of big clunky gunline, the Overlords are a lot more mobile.
Their fluff has clearly been through the wringer as well. But what’s come out has been one of the most original takes on Dwarves that I’ve seen in quite some time. I mean compare them to other dwarves:
Arguably the classic ur-example (well, okay not really, for that we have to get super mythological, but I’m not sure how far I want to lean in to Wagnerian operas and germanic/nordic folklore for semantic accuracy). These dwarves are the ones you’re almost certainly picturing right now because you came across the word Dwarf.
They live under the ground (or in big mountain halls) and they dig for treasure and are great at metalcrafting. At least, they have giant forges and make Mithril, so that’s pretty indicative of smithing aptitude.
These guys are basically the same as Tolkien Dwarves, only with their dials turned up to 11. You tend to have a few different varieties of D&D Dwarves, including hill and mountain dwarves, which are either stronger or hardier, depending.
But even with the extra embellishments that came from the RPG, they very much resemble the ur-text above. Their society and culture are almost exactly the same–they’re great underground or working with stone. Wheee.
Dragon Age Dwarves
Here we start to see some difference. Sure, they still mostly live underground–but their vaguely Scottish accents have been traded for cruder, brusquer dialects. Much more like if Americans were to tackle the material in Game of Thrones–these Dwarves are scheming, multiplicitous, and, owing to their shared ancestor, they are obsessed with treasure or tradition (depending on how much of the former they have because of the latter).
I like this version–they’re different. They have a little more personality. Plus any species that claims responsibility for Varric is basically given a free pass to do whatever they want forever.
Grudges and Guns and g…runecrafting. This variety of dwarves is similarly bound by tradition (and also by the need for revenge), and they prefer to keep to themselves in their secretive mountain halls with chambers buried deep beneath the earth where they continue to perfect their crafts, scribing new runes and grudges as need dictates.
But then coming back to the latest iteration we see some pretty wild differences. The biggest one is that they’re not super isolationist anymore. They’re merchants and explorers, who set sail amid the skies of a tattered, broken realm. They are still great craftsmen, but their societies have a little bit more than just “build things, hold grudges, shoot stuff.” There’s a Kharadron Code (well, really more like guidelines) and they live in massive, moving skyships that frequently bring them into contact with other people.
That’s a big part of the appeal here. These dwarves are vastly different from the others. They wear space suits (basically), they fly around in airships. They’re just cool. And I think that there are a few factions in 40K that could benefit from a revitalizing shot in the arm, like the Kharadron Overlords.
My money’d be on seeing something like a new Xenos (maybe just a severe reimagining of a current one) to try it out. I mean imagine what the Necrons might look like if their fluff were given a little of an overhaul, and a new subfaction of like Tomb Spiders or something kind of just re-envisioning everything you thought you knew about Necrons.
Which, sure, sounds like change for the sake of change–but looking at how much the Kharadron Overlords have pumped up the general idea of “dwarves” and how they’ve helped make that faction cool again/in the first place and I can’t help but see a lot of potential.
What do you think, how would you overhaul/reimagine one of the extant 40K factions for 8th Edition?