HalloWarhammer: Horror in the World of Warhammer 40k

So as most know I’m a huge fan of Games Workshop’s fictional world.  One of the best aspects of this world is it can essentially house every kind of genre imaginable.  There are Ciaphas Cain comedies, Ultramarine traditional war stories, Last Chancers underdog guerilla stories, and even a few romances thrown in for good measure.

One genre that really lends itself to the world of daemons, monsters, and heroes is horror.  The Warhammer world has its fair share of horror stories (if you go into Fantasy Battles that’s even more true what with vampires, zombies, and Hammer Horror atmosphere everywhere) but I thought I’d share a couple of my favorites!

Old Soldiers Never Die (Sandy Mitchell) – Ciaphas Cain and his Valhallan 597th end up on the planet of Lentonia to assist in the quashing of a recent rebellion.  During their time there a host of plague zombies arise and the put-upon commissar is forced to deal with a near spot-on Romero zombie uprising and a chaos cult.  Even driving his command vehicle through the streets running them down.  It’s a great little story and a perfect Halloween zombie fix for fans of 40k and the hero of the imperium.  For even more Ciaphas Cain zombie fun also check out Dead in the Water, a great audio drama about Cain on his own Apocalypse Now adventure.

Waiting Death (Steve Lyons) – The galaxy’s quintessential tough-guy Colonel “Iron Hand” Straken and his Catachans are stationed on Borealis Four.  During a long march his unit stumbles across a mysterious village where the regiment comes under siege by shadowy monsters who appear from nowhere, assault the wily jungle fighters, and vanish again.  The description of the monsters is horrific and the tension voiced marvelously by Toby Longworth causes a wonderfully suspenseful narrative.  It has a bit of a twist to it and the final monster is downright frightening.  Not really “gothic” horror as such but its reminiscent of 80s action horror.

Alone (Joe Parrino) – This is the one that inspired me to write this article.  Raven Guard Librarian Ithkos Jevel is lost on his own in an abandoned imperial ship.  As he attempts to contact his battle brothers he is accosted by a presence who mocks him over the vox.  The voice acting by Gareth Armstrong, Robin Bowerman, and Jonathan Keeble is amazing.  Especially the eerie, shrill voice of the mocking daemonic presence that continuously torments Ithkos during his journey down the dark corridors, often imitating the voice of one of Ithkos’ fallen comrades.  Especially the evil reading of the line “You walk in dark places!”  The imagery provided in the audio drama is equally frightening.  The lifeless eyes of statuary truly has the feel of an Exorcist or Omen film.  One scene in particular stays with me as true horror.  One of the statues of saints comes to life and assaults Ithkos.  The statue described as moving in a horrific, spider-like manner reminds me of something out of Silent Hill.  This audio drama more than any of the others makes me realize just how effective horror radio shows must have been during the heyday of the serial radio program.  If you’re looking for something thematic to paint or build your armies this season it doesn’t get much better than this!

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