Due to 40K lacking any description of its ‘science' (and quite rightly so) it can be quite difficult to understand how technology works and why characters in 40K act the way they do towards technology. In our modern technological age it often seems ridiculous the way some characters in 40K view and treat technology, where we see it as a mundane and basic (essential) tool. This can lead to the idea that those in the Imperium are backwards and lack intelligence: this I think should be viewed as a mistake as it limits creative thought as how such bizarre views of technology can come about. It is this creativity to make the image seem reasonable, and therefore less likely to be dismissed off hand, that I strive for.
Philhammer is unofficial fan fiction
Birth of Philhammer
In posting on forums I have often argued that the image of 40K is not as outlandish are many suppose. In order to illustrate my concepts I present examples and hypotheses. It's in the hot forge of forum debate that these concepts have been tested: the weak break and are discarded and the strong survive. Over time the strong concepts were systematically stuck together with crazy-glue thread by thread, and woven in such a way as to support each other in the great web. I have been doing this for so long that now many recognise these interconnecting concepts and consider them to be consistent, so consistent that other fans eventually christened the whole concept-web 'Philhammer' (also Philverse, but I now use that term for all stuff made up be me).
Over time, and I'm not sure when, I stopped pointing out that my views on how 40K works was 'Philhammer' because it was all Philhammer! Even the official published material is, to me, a sub-set of Philhammer.
Philhammer primarily concerns itself with the hidden science of 40K, which I use as a base to understand in broad terms the principles of archeotech design ethos, and to divine how artefacts created with Dark Age Technology work. This in turn affects how I see the motivations and actions of the characters within 40K (in my own head) so that they make sense and feel more three dimensional (to me).
The pseudo-science of Philhammer is of my own devising, and though it's assertions are only indirectly backed up by canon material, it is designed to fit in with the vast majority of the 40K background image (slips through the gaps of what is not said – i.e. science). Philhammer reinforces the image 40K, and stops moderate sci-fi concepts from creeping in to my own personal brain-space.
I use Philhammer as a basis when working up designs. It is much easier to design an object for artwork if you know how it works (in principle), what it needs to work, and how it is used. In many ways Philhammer is also a concept prototyping system: the forum debate hones the concept until I can hammer it into the background with a mallet until flat and seamless. In doing this any design I create has a wealth of background and concept debate behind it, and this allows me to think outside the box and create designs starting with 40K Philhammer and exploring higher ground, rather than designing from real world mundane stimulus and then shoehorning mediocrity into 40K.
Though the concepts can never become canon (as 40K science is never touched), the 'footprints in the sand' that my concepts leave on my artwork may well be. Much like the image humans imprint onto the warp with their emotions 😉
Any posts of mine that are based on ‘Philhammer' will be tagged as such. While they may not be at odds with the published background it should be understood that they are not canon in any way shape or form.
When designing these concepts, and while arguing their merit on the forums, I always bore in mind that I wanted them all to interlink and have great internal continuity. Each concept takes the official background (all editions), and each of my other concepts into account. This great web of interlinked concepts has been christened 'Philhammer'; originally by Kage2020 on the Anargo forums, and it stuck.
I do not see 'Philhammer' as an alternative to 40K, aside from the more radical Eldar, Tau and Orc concepts (which can be ignored), I see it more as filling in the gaps in the background. The concepts drop into the background cracks, kinda like 'background polyfilla', and smooth it all over to present a united front. My aim was to introduce a reasoned, and where possible scientific, premise with these concepts to illustrate the structure of the universe. In doing so, I also hope to reinforce the image, and horror, of the setting by making it harder to dismiss. I wanted the extreme nature of 40K to seem 'reasonable', even possible or go so far as to engender the feeling it could be probable. More can be found in my old forum signature disclaimer.
Hybrid sci-fi/ fantasy
I see 40K (Philhammer) not so much as a traditional sci-fi or sci-fantasy setting, but instead it is a hybrid of sci-fi and fantasy. It may seem obvious that a hybrid of science and fantasy would be 'sci-fantasy', but the reason I do not think of Philhammer 40K as 'sci-fantasy', is because the science and fantasy is not mixed together, it is not a blend, and each remains separate. It's more sci-fi/ fantasy. A little pernickety, but the distinction is important;
To illustrate the point, the science I use in some of my explanations of technology actually work (like the Ecopolis) with other areas being probable future science (fusion reactors to power the Ecopolis) which can be replaced with convention technologies like wind turbines to power the Ecopolis. These are all real, or soon to be, science or at least theoretically possible science. At the other end of the scale, areas like the warp drive designs and descriptions are complete fantasy and has no basis in science reality at all (more akin to Cthulhu arcane mysticism is a science wrapper). Although not science reality, I push the fantasy aspect into religious or onto spiritual grounds (as many believe), in order to muddy the waters of what 'reality' truly is.
I separate my concepts like this because I really like science, and I hate the fact that science is often misrepresented or presented in such a way that it is rendered as fantasy all the while purporting to be possible science or worse: real science. I like keeping the fantasy and science separate, but I am quite happy to explain fantasy in a science sounding way, if I make it clear in my writing that the fantasy elements really are 'fantasy'. The other reason is, 40K has the warp, so why not drop all the 'fantasy' elements into a head space where science has no power - the realm of the Immaterium? Hence creating a 'science' around warp technologies, like phase tech, but it's still obvious it's not real science.
The Philhammer Index, and the pages it links to, are a current 'snap shot' of the concepts. Much like the Linux world, the pages are the latest 'build'. None of this is set in stone, rather this is an ongoing WIP (work in progress) and I'm open to persuasion. Over time I'll add in new concepts and continue to work up the ones already up. Most of my concepts were inspired while browsing the forums (see home page for the forums I frequent), and I never know when inspiration will strike. New concepts pop into existence all the time.
If you liked this, and would like to leave a comment on my guestbook, or catch up on all the recent comments, please visit my connect page. While there, you can also subscribe to email notifications, so you never miss a new post, along with my RSS feed as a backup. If you are feeling generous, and I know times are hard, you may support my site through Patreon (exclusive behind the scenes content), PayPal or Bitcoin! Lastly, there is a confidential contact form for any secret messages you wish to pass to me. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say :)
Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!
To support my work: Connect