40K Op-Ed: Yet Another Attempt to Redefine Slaanesh
Guest Writer Steven C. Plagman is back with another idea on how to ‘fix’ Slaanesh for Mass Appeal. And it really could work!
Yet Another Attempt to Redefine Slaanesh
“Your Chocolate is in My Peanut Butter!”
By Steven C. Plagman
Sex sells. Ask any advertising agency on the planet, and they’ll tell you the same thing. Unfortunately, those same ad agencies will tell you that while “sex sells” is a fine rule of thumb for people over a certain age, applying that rule to people of a younger age might not be the best idea. Which brings us to the problem of Slaanesh.
You know you’re living in a messed-up world when the idea of a god of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll is somehow more offensive than a god of bloodshed, murder, and wanton slaughter, but that’s where we are. Thanks to the decades-old decision to introduce Slaanesh to their universe, Games Workshop is stuck having to find a way to navigate their corporate ship between the twin terrors of Scylla and Charybdis—which in this case are overprotective parents on one side, and Games Workshop’s customer base on the other. Offend the parents, and they’ll do whatever it takes to devour the sick individuals who dared to introduce their children to “perversion”. Offend the other, and the entire corporate ship could be destroyed by the very fans who keep it afloat, as they make their displeasure known by taking their money elsewhere.
Games Workshop has already risked the wrath of Charybdis once by launching Age of Sigmar and rewriting everything from the ground up. Luckily, it seems to have worked out, and in the process they were able to solve the problem of the Prince of Pleasure by simply writing Slaanesh out of the story (editor’s note: …for now). She’s still there (suspended in a xenon mist), but through heavy-handed storytelling she’s been stuffed into a corner where she can’t harm any innocent children with her perverted ways.
Unfortunately, the same thing most likely won’t work for Warhammer 40K. Slaanesh is simply too tied up in the fluff of the 40K universe. What would the Aeldari (in all of their incarnations) be without She Who Thirsts? Never mind the Emperor’s Children and its legions. And trying to pull an AoS reboot with the moneymaking juggernaut that is 40k is courting financial disaster. So, the question becomes, “is there a way to fix Slaanesh in the fluff, without upsetting the apple cart too much?”
A potential answer can be found in one of Slaanesh’s many titles, specifically the Prince of Excess. For years, GW has focused on the pleasure aspect of the Great Enemy’s desires. Daemonettes and noise marines are S&M monstrosities, both in plastic and in the fluff. But pleasure is only one aspect of her nature. Slaanesh hungers for everything, not just sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Her desires are endless. All-consuming. Much like the Tyranids and the Great Devourer, but with a bit more flair thrown into the mix. That’s why the Aeldari call her “She who thirsts”.
Besides the Tyranids, there is one other entity in the Warhammer universe who shares a similar bent—the Great Maw of the Ogre Kingdoms (now called the Ogors). In the lore, the Great Maw is a ravenous deity in the form of a bottomless fanged pit that consumes anything and everything it can. When it arrived from space as a comet that laid waste to the Ogre Kingdoms, it not only wiped out two-thirds of their population, it also infected the ogres themselves with a ravenous hunger that can never be sated. It also forced the surviving Ogres into committing such barbaric acts as cannibalism in a vain attempt to stave off hunger.
If Games Workshop were to consider combining parts of the two ranges and emphasize the all-encompassing hunger of Slaanesh rather than just her lust for physical sensation, something interesting might come from it, hopefully solving the problem of the corruption of impressionable young minds and allowing GW to thread the needle between Scylla and Charybdis. After all, as far as parenting groups are concerned, a cannibalistic god is far preferable to an S&M god. Because boobies are bad.
What do you think? Could GW focus on the other aspects of ‘excess’ that Slaanesh represents and relaunch the Dark Prince as something new?