Dark Future 40,000 – a sudden realisation about futures past

White Dwarf 102 - Dark FutureThe above picture is taken from an article in White Dwarf 102 (June 1988) presenting Games Workshop’s then new Mad Max Headroom game, Dark Future.

Originally set in the (dark) future of the 1990s, it involved freelance sanctioned ops in their armed and armored interceptors trying to wrest control of highways from biker gangs of cannibalistic mutant murder cultists across the post-apocalyptic American desert landscape,
while in the fortress cities the masses cheered to these road duels on prime time three dee pay teevee brought to them by their shadowy decadent corporate overlords (who of course had absolutely nothing to do with financing any sort of cannibalistic mutant murder cults).

Dark Future is, by the way, slated to be made into a digital game this year – much to my surprise.

But that is not what this is about.

This is about the scanned image at the top of the page.

While idly thumbing through stacks of old White Dwarf magazines, I could not help but notice something about Dark Future which I never consciously realised before, or rather – because it is glaringly obvious and so I probably did realise it previously – something which I never put into quite the perspective I am taking now:

The weapons of the Dark Future cars use the same designs as their Warhammer 40,000 contemporaries.

The light laser is a vintage plastic lasgun.
The heavy laser an old plastic lascannon.
The grenade launcher (not pictured on this particular page) is an (upside down) heavy bolter.

These are the same weapons!

And all of a sudden, I am stuck with the imagination that what later publications would call the Wars of Unification preceding the Emperor’s Great Crusade and the founding of the Warhammer 40,000 Imperium were indeed a series of highway duels with the Emperor and his techno-barbarian proto-Space Marines riding dune buggies and motorcycles and tanker rigs festooned with makeshift battlements through the desert battling rival road warlords in leathers and facemasks.

Now, I am sure others were a lot quicker on the uptake than me. But still, this has indeed just changed my entire outlook on the Warhammer 40,000 future history for good or ill. It is one of these things I will now forever be unable to unsee.

The Emperor of Mankind – Road Warrior.

I wonder whether the Golden Throne has wheels…

Or whether the Emperor’s old ride is at least incorporated in it somewhere…

Maybe the engine.


  1. Irgendwie kommt da nichts, wenn ich auf “Englisch” klicke. Ist die Wahrheit zu schrecklich, um offenbart zu werden?


    1. Vielen Dank! Ist gefixt. (Peinlich, peinlich.)


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