This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
The secret of the Warhammer 40,000 setting’s broad appeal is the vast, dizzying diversity of it. It’s crammed full of stuff, far more than you’d have ever thought would have been required for the background to a miniatures wargame and various spin-off games, to the extent that it takes vast, groaning wikis to document it all (and the Lexicanum isn’t even slightly comprehensive).
Perhaps that’s why the 40K universe keeps attracting talents superior to those who sup at the cesstrough of the various Dungeons & Dragons tie-in franchises – for a tie-in series policed by a corporate editorial policy you get a strange amount of freedom to write about the sort of stuff you’re actually interested in. In the space of a 300 page book you can write stories about mysterious Inquisitorial investigations, or cutthroat low-life squabbles, or epic space battles, or good old-fashioned gunplay in exotic alien environments, or brutal political intrigues in the court of a Chaos warlord, or even a tale from the point of view of the more well-rounded alien races like the Eldar (and that’s just a small cross-section of the sort of story the universe can support).