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Warhammer Fantasy, also known as Warhammer Fantasy Battles or just Warhammer, is a fantasy tabletop war game and fictional fantasy universe created by Games Workshop and first published in 1983. Games Workshop later published Warhammer 40,000 in 1987 using many of the same concepts and defining characteristics of Warhammer Fantasy, though in a far-future science fiction universe rather than a dark medieval fantasy setting. The original Warhammer game is similar to the Warhammer 40,000 universe in many ways. Like Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Battles (abbreviated WFB) is a fully-immersive hobby rather than just a single game, and contains elements of strategic war gaming, painting, model-building and reading and creating fictional stories set in the mythical Warhammer World.
The Warhammer World and the Warhammer 40,000 Universe
In earlier editions of both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000, there were many indications that the Warhammer World, the planet that is the primary setting for Warhammer Fantasy, was located in the same universe as Warhammer 40,000. In later editions of both games, Games Workshop moved to create more of a separation between the two fictional universes, although they have also never completely denied the earlier connections between the two settings. It is likely that the Warhammer World does exist in the same universe as Warhammer 40,000 as the Warhammer World is known to have been terraformed and reshaped by beings known as the Old Ones, the same alien entities as the Old Ones of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The Warhammer World's continents are arranged very similarly to those of Earth and may be an indicator that the Old Ones also played some role in shaping the Earth and affecting the development of mankind in general several million years ago, after their supposed disappearance from the galaxy. Other worlds in the Warhammer 40,000 universe have been discovered by the Imperium of Man that also have been terraformed into a shape reminiscent of Earth's distinctive continents. It is possible that the humans of the Warhammer World are settlers who first arrived on the planet many millennia ago during the Dark Age of Technology and then reverted to a primitive state as so many human populations did across the galaxy during the Age of Strife, while the Elf and Dwarf populations are beings shaped by the Old Ones from Eldar and Squat stock, respectively. Finally, the Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins) of the Warhammer World are clearly a type of feral Ork. The Forces of Chaos are even more active on the Warhammer World than they are on many other planets of the galaxy because of the collapsed Warp Gates the Old Ones built on the planet, devices that are very similar in function to the Eldar's Webway technology, which was itself derived from the Old Ones' knowledge of the Immaterium. These damaged Warp portals have allowed the Warp to manifest fully at the north and south poles of the Warhammer World, essentially creating two small Warp rifts at both ends of the planet similar to the Eye of Terror which spew Chaos energies directly into the physical universe, creating what the inhabitants of the Warhammer World call the "Winds of Magic." Because Chaos can manifest its forces directly on this world, its Elf, Dwarf and human defenders of Order are slowly but inexorably losing their battle with the Ruinous Powers.
Many of the armies and factions in Warhammer 40,000 can be originally traced back to the same concepts in Warhammer Fantasy. The most obvious examples are the Ork and Forces of Chaos armies that are almost unchanged in their primary characteristics from their fantasy counterparts, and Warhammer hobbyists often switch models and parts between the two game systems. The Imperial Guard are very similar to the Empire's forces due to the new figures using Imperial Guard parts, while the Eldar and Dark Eldar are similar to the Warhammer World's High and Dark Elves, respectively. The Necron share many similarities with the Undead Tomb Kings of Nehekara. The Lizardmen of Lustria are somewhat similar in their savageness and reliance on reptilian creatures as war machines to the Tyranids.
Other Warhammer Fantasy Games
Warhammer Fantasy Battles is the main game using the Warhammer Fantasy mythology today, but Games Workshop has made several other games for the Warhammer World, including:
- Warmaster - Warmaster used smaller models than the primary Warhammer Fantasy line, focusing on huge, epic battles rather than the smaller unit operations of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.
- Mordheim - A small-scale tactical game that focuses on small bands of warriors fighting in a great, ruined city of the Empire of Man while seeking treasure.
- Blood Bowl - Blood Bowl was a humourous game very similar to American Football or Rugby, but with plenty of bloodshed and magic and usually played by teams of Orcs and other Greenskins.
- Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition)
- Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (1988)
- Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1990)
- Warhammer Wiki