1) The two games are on the same timeline, with WFB in the past and WH40K in the future.
2) The two games are on the same timeline, but this time WH40K happens before WFB.
3) There is no relationship. The game systems are separate and distinct.
4) The two systems occupy parallel/alternate universes.
5) The WFB world is located somewhere within the WH40K universe.
6) Sigmar is a character from WH40K, probably one of the unknown Primarchs.
|Warhammer editions from the early eighties to late nineties|
It's impossible to know if Games Workshop has any of these in mind, so no-one can really be sure what the definitive answer is. Or, if you've looked this subject up on the internet, you might have noticed that some people feel completely sure, they just can't offer real, incontrovertible proof. This is because for every official source cited to contain the definitive answer, there will be something else that seemingly contradicts it. And I think this is how Games Workshop like it. You can pick and choose which clues shout loudest to you and you can believe what you want to believe. It's a cunning, if not necessarily premeditated, strategy for Games Workshop. People will talk, hype will build, no-one is alienated, everyone can have what they want.
So with that in mind I'd like to share my own thoughts on the subject, and offer a single combination of the above theories that I like to think not only contains quite reasonable elements, but is also a masterful example of sitting on the fence.
But be warned, we are now going deep into conjecture-land.
|Warhammer boxsets since the turn of the millennium|
|And the same editions as their rulebook only releases|
I suspect the truth about the two games' relationship is a combination of elements from most of the theories. There's a nugget of truth in each of them. The two games have been on a journey, and I think they started out as distinct from each other, but with a general feeling of WFB being in the past and WH40K being in the future. Then, as more writers, designers and developers got on board, producing material in the rule books, codices, army lists, novels, White Dwarf articles, Forge World publications, specialist games, CCGs and all those other myriad points of contact, the two systems started to grow together - both as a conscious effort and as the simple cross-pollination of ideas. The mythologies that formed the bedrock of each universe started to converge. So both systems ended up with the race of Old Ones playing a significant, historical role; both systems have the Chaos Gods (more on that in a later post); WFB gained access to guns, flamethrowers, power packs, warpstone and other more advanced technology; and more recently the Warhammer world was given the Realmgates, much like WH40K's Warp gates and Webway portals.
I think at some point there may even have been a mandate to place WFB within WH40K, but my guess is this was canned when someone realised it would upset areas of the fanbase. One game is the merest footnote to the other game might not go down so well with everyone, and angry players may not be healthy for GW's bottom line. So it was decided to back off on the relationship stuff and keep it as indeterminate as possible, at least until such time that they might be able to use it to their advantage. I'm not cynically suggesting it all comes down to money, but GW does have shareholders to appease. So maybe I am cynically suggesting that.
And perhaps GW have already worked out a way to turn a profit from this, and still keep people happy.
With the End Times and the coming of the Age of Sigmar, the Warhammer world has changed dramatically. GW have made a big statement. But could there be a bigger one to come?
|Nearly three decades of Warhammer 40,000|
What if GW has revised it's earlier stance, put a few heads together and come up with another plan? What if the change of statue outside GW's head office, from Space Marine to Stormcast Eternal is an echo of a flip happening within their timelines?
This is where the second theory comes into play. It's the one where WH40K predates WFB on the same timeline. So the Imperium collapses, the universe degrades, and humanity is left battling for survival on a single, ruined world. The Warhammer Fantasy Battle world. The world is then destroyed by Chaos, the survivors scattered to the Mortal Realms, only to be saved by Sigmar. Now the sixth theory where Sigmar turns out to be one of the missing Primarchs, mysteriously thrown across time and space, appearing just when humanity needs him most.
It would mean that Warhammer 40,000 is the origin story to Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Age of Sigmar. It would also mean that the Emperor was never the hero of the galaxy, instead, in a Skywalkeresque twist, it would be his lost son, the missing Primarch, who grew up without his influence, avoided ever being embroiled in the Horus Heresy, and went on to save humanity.
Unlikely? Never say never.