In sixth edition 40K some factions can only ally come an apocalypse. Trouble is, a 41st millennium apocalypse might just end up being moar of everything available, rather than something suitably eschatological and worthy of the game that gave us Realm of Chaos.
But then a lot of apocalypses can seem fairly samey. In an effort to help I thought I'd run a series with a few slightly lesser-spotted ideas, but not for any one system or setting.
The first theme I've had in mind a few weeks, but a comment at BoLS recently prompted me to post. The context was the idea that the new Horus Heresy releases mean people start playing what is effectively a new game - Warhammer 30,000 - just space marine on space marine. The commenter joked there could be a Warhammer 50K of Tyranids only.
In case this is all new to you, and don't feel bad about that, the Tyranids are a biological, self-evolving, nomadic civilisation from the intergalactic gulfs or beyond, directed by their psychic hive mind. They consume pretty much everything and evolve around problems.
That was a pretty freaky idea once, but today, for me - and without the infiltration of the genestealer cults especially - they're just a more colourful, general purpose armed force.
So how to get the horror back, but without the cult body horror? It could be by homing in on the broader existential aspects, and going for a more save-or-die cosmological tone.
What if the aliens didn't come in a fleet, land their armies on your planet and kill you in a way you more or less kill the other lifeforms on the planet and elsewhere, and only then eat the earth and suck up the seas? What if they just swallowed you whole, in the pitch black, then digested everything you know, sarlacc-style. Crawling over you in the dark?
In-game, they might do it with a huge humpback anglerfish-like creature, or a worm - a kind of Jörmungandr - which they developed up from swallowing stations and asteroids, through moons, to large planets. It may not be a creature that's recognisably a creature. Why not just a portal to a digestive sac in the warp, spread across a ductile membrane?
Maybe this is old news. Maybe in some distant galactic cluster some long-lost cousins of the Tyranids have already evolved a sac large enough to swallow a galaxy whole? And it's been on the way for aeons. It will just slip over and close. How long would that take?
Moving beyond 40K, this could be an explanation for a fantasy world sky: the world was swallowed long ago, and the sun, moon and stars are the perforations made by lucky escapees in the distant past. Or maybe orifices leading to different inner chambers?
That kind of escape could be the basis for an unusual campaign. How to get that high? How to break through? Is the outside actually that way? Does anyone know? Especially if there's no light, or alternative energy source, and the world's starving, and going crazy.
And then the gut flora start to arrive...
If the creature were multidimensional, in the physical sense, it might be able to emerge inside the world and eat it from within. If it couldn't reach the surface, because its footing was too far off say, you'd get a fine lower level for a megadungeon, hive or not, especially if the creature stayed close by ready to lunge up those thousands of leagues. Assuming the inhabitants survived the loss of gravity of course, and the atmosphere just drifting off.
Anyway, that's just the tip of the iceberg for this theme, let alone all the others that are waiting. Looked at like that, with so many options, it's almost surprising we're still here.