A place to discuss all Warhammer-related background and products not explicitly connected to the Black Library.


Postby Xisor » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:45 pm

So, with the Great Rift, apparently Guilliman decreed along the following lines:

(Aside: I say "Guilliman" - I've a suspicion Guilliman is just the catspaw-allegory for someone in GW who dislikes putting dates on timelines, who I am incidentally & absolutely am sure is [surely!] the same person who vehemently disliked catering to 'people who like maps' in AoS - I would love to pick folks' brains & hear outlooks on that sort of thing, even though I also like to mump and moan about it. I'm a fan of creatively resolving perceived inconsistencies, even if at first the vex me!)


After the opening of the Great
Rift, near every active Imperial
war zone had to devise and
reinforce its own chronological
system. Even had the Imperium
of Man not been split in half,
the sheer interstellar distances it
covered prohibited any accurate
reflection of time and space.
Despite the flexibility of the ‘check
number’ system of old, where
the first digit of each timestamp
indicated its veracity, it became
easy for dates and times to lose all
meaning between star systems.
It was Guilliman, Lord
Commander of the Imperium,
who made steps to resolve this
after a long conference with his
Historitors and the mysterious
organisation of the Ordo Chronos.
He decreed that a single logic
could no longer be applied to time
and space within the Imperium.
Through the High Lords of Terra
he made his theory and resultant
process into law. There could be
no unified calendar with so much
temporal distortion occurring.
Even though the rift’s warping
effects might not have reached the
furthest spinward planets at the
galaxy’s fringes, its psychic echoes –
and the lack of the Astronomican
that resulted – were still felt
profoundly on those worlds.
Therefore, each sub-section of the
Imperium would have to look to
its own chronology, and use the
coming of the Great Rift in that
sector as its reference point. The
Cicatrix Maledictum became the
defining point of the new era.

Now, I have a bit of a problem with this.

The only "difference" that the Great Rift makes to the old calendar system is that:
1- A lot more things are 'experiencing' Warp travel.

That's effectively what's happened. The Rift hasn't just cut off Imperium Nihilus from the rest of the Imperium, it's cut it adrift in space and time.

Just like ships travelling in the warp.

Now, because some nincompoop at GW cavalierly represented the sundering of all-reality as a simple big wall in space cutting across the face of the galaxy, in an anarchic fashion (and insists on referring to it largely as such, even in prose - it's a big rip that's responsible for MISCHIEF, not half of the galaxy going missing behind a big mystery hole-wall made of raw warp), we're continually trying to deal with a pretty basic bit of geometric foolishness.

Think about it.

If the Imperium Nihilus is blanketed and divorced from the Astronomican, and also surrounded in its own little pocket reality because warp-storms render it impossible to leave, then that pocket of reality is effectively a Void Ship travelling in the void which has lost the astronomican.

In short, it's analogous to being trapped inside the Eye of Terror, but (if you're lucky) without all of reality completely dissolving/warping around you.

Sundering into lots of unstable bubbles, rather than "merely" being trapped behind a single gargantuan wall with some SPOOKY STUFF going on. (Though you are also behind a SPACE WALL and there is indeed SPOOKY STUFF afoot.)

Much of the Imperium Nihilus has "re-appeared'. Or at least, it has had a life-line delivered to it by Guilliman & pals. It might still be trapped underwater (err, deep in the abyssal reaches of the raging oceans of unreality), but it's got a reference point.

And I think that's basically the problem.

If you've got a reference to Terra, then you don't need your own calendar.

If you've not got a reference to Terra, then your own calendar will have existed AS IT ALWAYS did - ships, systems, worlds, space stations, individuals, telomeres... they all record the passage of time. And it's all relative, because there's no universal agreement on contemporaneity (thanks, Einstein!), even without the warp!

But with the Warp, the problem isn't that everyone has to have their own calendar, it's that the calendars will not only not agree, but individual calendars cannot be consistent: there'll be discontinuities.

What Happens In Nihilus...

So, with that in mind, the initial excerpt is surely foolish - or not the whole story. At least, it's not actually a rubbishing of the Imperial Calendar, certainly not as it seems to want to imply.

Or at least, if it is, it's for Guilliman, his Historitor's, or the Ordo Chronos' reasons - not the ones stated. (And if it is for the ones stated, they're very great fools.)


Because, regardless, when all is said and done - the various pockets of the Imperium Nihilus, will still have a reference back to the original Imperial Calendar. Principally, this will involve a lot of checksum digits of value 9, but that's to be expected when all hell has actually, literally, not-metaphorically (but metaphorically too, though that's secondary to it genuinely having) broken loose.

So, say we look at the events on Vigilus.

The chronology of Vigilus, as denoted in records
of the War of Beasts, uses as its anchor point the
opening of the Great Rift above the planet. This was
an event of such incredible magnitude it rewired the
planet’s temporal logic altogether, much as it did a
thousand other war zones across the Imperium.
The first element of Vigilus’ timestamp is the annual
designator. It starts with the number of years either
before or after the rift opened, and then a number
of chronosegments within that year as the second
element. Imperial days are broken down into
chronosegments of eight hours. After this is a third
element – either ‘previo’ if the events occurred before
the opening of the Great Rift, or ‘post’ if after it. This
third element is sometimes denoted as a minus sign
or a plus sign.
The fourth element of the Vigilus timestamp is the
system’s designator initials; in essence, the initials
of the system to which it refers. For Vigilus, this is
VCM which stands for ‘Vigilus Cicatrix Maledictum’.
For its neighbouring planet, Omis-Prion, the
designator initials would be OPCM.
By way of a full example, if the time of an event
in the Vigilus System was three days (nine
chronosegments) before the opening of the Great
Rift, the timestamp would be ‘0.9 previo VCM.M41’,
also expressed as ‘0.9 previo’ or ‘0.9–’.
This translates as ‘0 years and 9 chronosegments
(three days) previous to the Vigilus System’s
first instance of the Cicatrix Maledictum in the
41st Millennium.’
If it was one year and eight hours after, the
timestamp would be ‘1.1 post VCM.M41’, also
expressed as ‘1.1 post’ or ‘1.1+’.


This presents as radical, but surely the inverse is true: it demonstrates deep orthodoxy.

The existing calendar format must (by nature of the Warp, and all of the Imperium relying on an unreliable system), have meant that local calendars[/b] would be forever being updated and revised.

There's no escaping this.

Principally, the Vigilus system is being ravaged by DAEMONS and a hulking great WARP STORM.

There is no doubt in my mind that upon Vigilus itself the measurement of days and years is itself inconsistent and unreliable.

Every single date recorded is going to be out of kilter and badly unrepresentative.

BUT there's still going to be an element of... crowdsourcing.

E.g. assume the Imperium wins, the Great Rift is defeated and three millennia of peace and prosperity demonstrate that, when all is said and done, you measure the alignment of the stars and compare it to some records that survived on Terra of a baseline for Vigilus.

Option 1: Just work that out to be the new local date. But you will definitely have missing days. Years and centuries, maybe.

Because your system was isolated by the warp!

Option 2: As above, you reset your date to the mean date agreed by arriving ships. You'll still lose/gain time. Possibly millennia. Because the Warp.

Option 3: JUST PICK A DATE. Check in what you believe to be a month's time. Re-check with your (surviving) peers. If you all agree, reference that to Terra standard and use that date as per the old calendar. (You'll still lose, or gain, time. See leap-seconds, but let's call them CICATRIX seconds.)

Now, I think you'll see what I'm getting at - the problem isn't that the old system was bad, it's that it wasn't understood by the writers. And if they did understand it, that wasn't especially clear to me in their writing (which may well be intentional, but it didn't come across that way to me). If it had been clear, and had been made clear - I'm unconvinced.


Because this new system, see the above "CHRONOLOGY OF A DARK AGE" is still deeply vulnerable to these problems.

Actually, it's worse, because it assumes there is linearity to the whole thing.

But we know that there isn't. Either the writing is correct (e.g. the rift is visible, as per THE SCAR IN THE NIGHT SKY - this would imply that people looking up at the rift see the rift as a big scar - but that's foolish. When I look at mud beneath my feet, I don't see Carl Sagan's PALE BLUE DOT, I see mud. When I look at the night sky, I don't see a SPIRAL IN THE NIGHT SKY, I see a dispersal of stars that's only partly clustered in a single band - it certainly doesn't look like a common depiction of a spiral galaxy, looked at from far away from that galaxy!)

So, unless the Great Rift is itself a strangely fractal, glitchingly-rendered 2D sprite being projected into the eyes of all who view it (which is a perfectly viable - and indeed: endearing! - resolution to the problem of the SCAR IN THE NIGHT SKY), then when viewed from Vigilus it's not like [i]looking
at a wall that's separating you from the other half of your civilisation, it's like looking at a wall that you're stuck inside. So it might look like being minute and surrounded by a colossal brick, or maybe stuck in some mortar, but it won't look like a nice drawing of a wall.

You'd probably not describe, in prose, how you sit down to tend to the OUTER CRUST OF A ROCK INNER PLANET as a relaxing thing to do on an afternoon. You'd probably say you relax by doing some gardening. It'd be an interesting twist and turn of phrase, but it might evoke the wrong idea.

So, we know that there isn't linearity to the passage of time.

How? We know that the warp is involved. It's the... reason for the season.

We know that even when reality doesn't have the Warp, that universal alignment of time isn't easy. There's no universal frame of reference. But you can still designate one, it'll just be a bit useless when a more useful local frame would do.

However, if someone reviewing your notes is trying to align your timeline to somewhere else, they might know the calculations and reference points to help re-order things. Or at least to allow a coherent set of references.

If the Grey Knights, the Adeptus Custodes, the Deathwatch and the Sisters of Silence, survived 10,000 years and coordinated well - even when in the warp, in warp rifts, on daemonworlds and whatnot, then they probably know well the limits of the Imperial Calendar.

And if - if! - their workaround just happened to be "use whatever calendar is useful when you're stuck in a warp rift" - then that's totally cool. It might be exactly what's covered in these excerpts.

Except that that isn't the case. As Guilliman decreed:
There could be
no unified calendar with so much
temporal distortion occurring.

So if he's right, he's wrong. There was: because there was before, and it applied "just fine" (HUGE amounts of handwavium, but that was explicitly part of the plan as per CHECKSUM 9).

That might bring us back to the idea of it being a problem from a political or scholastic perspective - hooray.

But the text doesn't present that. The text presents a problem with the old system, and a solution provided by Guilliman.

Yet: Guilliman's solution only exacerbates the problem with the old system, and provides none of the benefits.

In short: if we take it at face value, the text presents Guilliman as some sort of reforming genius, but the specific explications make his idea to be riddled with nonsense.

So I think we have to infer two things.
1- It's a political/factional thing, or perhaps evocative of a great foolishness on the Administratum's part (e.g. there's a big story in how the DESIGN of the calendar was NEVER IMPLEMENTED properly, and in the few places it was, it was never used efficiently or reliably). Effectively: the text presented is to be treated as a pretty misleading bit of PROPAGANDA, a version of events utterly brazen in its inconsistency because it doesn't care for completeness or consistency, and that it should be understood that a sensible thing underlies it. (Alternative assumptions exist, but I think this is the more fun.)

2- The calendar as described for VIGILUS is itself PROPAGANDA too, but with the intent of seeming PROACTIVE and a FIGHT BACK AGAINST CHAOS by BEING EVEN MORE RATIONAL. (Blithely ignoring the fact it's more susceptible to chaos, and irrational.)


There's also a footnote I'd be keen to add, which is that: I would love it if the lore authors would write the visualising of the CICATRIX MALEDICTUM as a glitchy 2D sprite, hence why it appears as a SCAR IN THE SKY (even from inside it!), not as an all-consuming incomprehensible bubble that utterly encapsulates all of reality...

E.g. my 'basic' interpretation (not a scar in the sky) would have the exterior reality from Vigilus' system replaced by the Cicatrix - it would replace the blackness of space, and the stars themselves. Only things WITHIN the Vigilus system would be safe to look at. Hence why the night sky would be PROBLEMATIC - it's mostly monstrous colours from hell itself, no longer 'safe' black space between the stars.
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