Tuesday, 26 January 2010
So what's with all the love for the Necron concept?
For actual 40K gaming, the Necrons are like the Dark Eldar (aka Fetish Elves) - an interesting germ of a little idea that sadly lacks legs when attempts are made to spin their background out to provide a fully-fleshed out army. There's not enough there to provide an interesting and flexible army and everyone paints them boring silver so as a wargames army they are just dull, dull dull. It's no wonder that GW have sort of forgotten them and not bothered to update their Codex since they were first released.
But for our purposes there's just something fantastically awe-inspiring about the background. It's awful in the old-fashioned, Old Testament pretty damn good way.
Reasons for this
- They are impossibly ancient. Shockingly so. This is a race that waged a war of extermination for which the Old Ones essentially bred every other sentient species in the galaxy from primitive forebears and still hadn't really finished messing with the inoffensive arboreal primate species from a dull blue/green Galactic backwater floating third out from it's parent sun when it all went titsup.
(Next time you read some pulp horror and science fiction, note how often things are not just old, but anciently old and how shocking and disturbing this is for the protagonists. It happens all the time, it's virtually a trope. It could of course just be because most of it is written by Americans - as is often said, a Englishman regards 100 miles as a long distance, an American regards 100 years as a long time.)
Impossibly ancient is good. It puts them on a par with the Antarctic city of the Elder Things and the Australian cities of the Great Race.
- It's not that the Necrons want to NOM NOM NOM you, they are just the ancient race that are going to round you up for their God to NOM NOM NOM you. This is Grimdark.
What's more Grimdark is that their Gods are so ravenously hungry that after they've eaten everything else in the Universe, their all-encompassing hunger for energy sources will probably drive them to starting eating their own feet. There is no logical outcome to the activities of the C'tan other than for them to consume every energy source in creation until only one is left having eaten all the others and only has itself left to consume at which point it starts gnawing on it's toes and the universe probably vanishes through a plughole in the fabric of spacetime.
It's one thing to be Grimdark cattle for a NOM NOM NOM God race, it's quite another when the farmer can't even stop himself from eating the lot in one mighty assault of gluttony and in doing so will ultimately and inevitably destroy himself. That's Grimdark Plus.
- You can shoe-horn it into any background and it will fit like a glove. One day, somebody discovers a Necron tomb, next thing you know metal Space Undead are pouring out of tombs, killing all who resist and rounding the rest of humanity up just to provide one infinitesimal amount of a C'tan's required daily calorific intake because all this unpleasantness was planned back when the PC's ancestors were little rodents hiding under leaves.
Cthulhu? Do-able. D&D? Do-able. WFRP? Do-able and very apt. Star Wars? Do-able. Mouseguard? Perhaps not, unless you envisage an ancient race of mouse-sized anthropomorphic Space Undead just waiting to re-emerge into the long-forgotten sunlight. (They could look like little metal fat, mice with mice skull heads - this actually could work bloody well - where's my copy of RISUS gone?)
It's one of the best Cthulhu backgrounds I've seen that doesn't have a single Cthulhu Mythos element to it.
The 40K rumour mill has it that a new Necron codex is due for release. If that happens the old codexes (codecii?) will start appearing on eBay for pennies. Snap one up. Ignore the rules and the army lists, the background will be heavily inspirational for anyone with a love of all things HPL and Mythos.