That’s right, we’re doing it. And by we, I mean me. And by ‘it’ I mean covering Warhammer 40K on the site, fortnightly. To be honest, the clue to all that was in the title, but we’ll just leave that bombshell alone.
To break it down, I, an avid, if not, sometimes obsessed, Warhammer 40K lore nut. Will, every two weeks, be bringing you some Warhammer 40K lore in the form of written word. That’s right, strap in, make your peace with the God Emperor and prepare to delve into the dark, distant future, where their is only war.
I think it only fair to start at the beginning, no, not Warhammer fantasy beginning, we’re not going THAT far back. I mean, the introduction of The Emperor himself. The mighty ‘God’ Emperor of the Imperium of man. Although, as you’ll come to learn, he’s not as ‘godlike’ as most would have you believe.
The actual emperor’s origin is still shrouded in mystery. Sources varying from story to story. So it’s hard to pin down an exact source of his origin. So, for sake of content, I’ll be covering my personal favourite version of his origin.
This can get quite full on, so I’m going to simplify it as much as I can, without insulting your intelligence. Deep breath, here goes. Since the beginning of time, their has always been the forces of evil, manifested, in a parallel dimension, known as the forces of chaos. Around the time of the Emperor’s appearance, the forces of chaos had yet take the form of the four god’s we’ll come to know throughout 40K lore. However, their presence was known by mankind by those referred to as ‘Psykers’ a term you’ll see crop up a lot, when reading various pieces of lore. These ‘Psykers’ were what you and me would refer to as physics or clairvoyants. However, the Warhammer variants were, and are still are in 40K, capable of communing with the Chaos realm. This sensitivity to Chaos allowed them various ‘powers’. Such as telepathy, telekinesis and even premonition. Theses Psykers were referred to as Sharman and due to their knowledge of the Warp, basically guided mankind from all the way back to the Neolithic times. Trying to stop it from being corrupted. As time went on, these Sharman were becoming more scarce. In the early times of their existence they were capable of reincarnation. However as time marched on, their souls were being gobbled up by the forces of chaos. As their numbers dwindled due to lack of being able to reincarnate, they realised they would soon become extinct and there would be no one left to steer mankind away from the corruption of Chaos, they came up with the idea to basically commit mass suicide (smart idea for a nearly extinct group) and have their souls all reincarnate into a single body, giving that person all their powers combined. So they did. Their combined souls, entering the warp at once, caused a major stir and hundreds of thousands of demons within the warp were killed by what’s referred to as a ‘cleansing fire’. A year later, a baby was born to two normal human farmers, to family with brothers and sisters. However, whilst in the womb, this child’s connection to the warp and psychic powers, altered him to become an immortal, removing the need for reincarnation and rendering his soul, untouchable to the demons of the warp.
So, big win for overall really. Mankind now had an immortal, powerful, psychic that could lead them and steer then away from the corruption of the still forming chaos powers. Now came the long game. For a staggering thirty eight thousand years, this immortal would basically wander around earth, helping out and taking the guise of great leaders in history to advance mankind, his true nature a secret.
However this backseat driving wasn’t enough. As mankind became prosperous and advanced technologically, their extreme nature was feeding the Warp. Things like greed, anger and corruption fed the Warp with powers. These extreme emotions eventually lead to wars. The man that would become the Emperor tried to quell these wars, but to no avail. And, as typical with humans, we fucked up. Our constant wars and cruelty actually birthed the first of the Chaos God’s; Khorne, the god of war. Take a bow humanity. War swept through mankind like a wildfire, shortly after his birth. As life began to develop throughout the universe, more Chaos God’s were born. It was at this point, in the middle ages three of the Chaos God’s had been birthed. And to put it bluntly, man was screwed. All this time more and more people were born as ‘Psykers’, genetic mutants with the ability to tap into the powers of the warp. Some mastered these powers and became powerful beings, dedicated to help man. Others, however, are unable to control these powers, and either end up killing hundreds of innocent people in, quite frankly, horrific ways (think, brains boiling in skulls and you get the picture). Or, and surprisingly this is the worst case, they become corrupted by Chaos and even become hosts to demons from the warp.
Shortly after the Aeldari (we’ll cover them at some point in the future) screw up and birth the final God, Slaanesh, the Emperor decided to step up and reveal himself to mankind. Vowing to lead them and protect them from the gods. And this leads to the title of Emperor of Mankind.
To combat the Chaos God’s, The Emperor comes up with a plan to combat the demons, and sets about creating his ‘Primarchs’. We’ll cover the creation of the Primachs in the future, but for now, we’ll just say that The Emperor creates a bunch of sons from his own DNA that will lead his armies. Needless to say, as is a theme in 40K, it doesn’t go exactly to plan.
His sons are created, and one son, Horus grows up to be The Emperor’s war master, leading his armies and other sons on a crusade through the universe, basically as a tyrant, claiming worlds under the flag of the Imperium and wiping out anyone that resisted. All in an effort to fight back Chaos, or so it’s claimed. Theirs serious xenophobic tones at times.
Anyhoo, Horus ends up being seduced by Chaos and is fed a load of lies, making him believe that his dear old dad is lying about wanting the best for man. So, he turns traitor, manages to convince a bunch of his brothers and he leads an assault on Earth. He ends up in a scrap with his dad, resulting in his own death, but seriously wounding The Emperor. Mankind freaks out. They place the basically dying Emperor in a stasis field, built into a throne. Something that eventually gets dubbed ‘The Golden Throne of Terra’. Upon his ‘death’ the powers of Chaos run riot. Warp storms open in space and engulf star ships and even whole planets. Travel in space becomes almost impossible due to storms causing havoc with navigation. However, due to the Emperor’s immense Psychic power, even in near death, his abilities manifest itself as a beacon to other Psykers. Effectively becoming a ‘north star’ for spaceships to plot course from.
For ten thousand years, the Emperor has remaind, sat on his throne, basically rotting away. His existence now evolved into a religion. He’s referred to as the God Emperor of Mankind and is worshipped as such. Many disagree with this concept, however those that do, including alien/xenos races are seen as heretics and are hunted and exterminated by the zealots of mankind. All “In the name of the Emperor!!”
And there it is. The history of the Emperor. Where he came from (despite various contradictory sources) and where he is now. I hope this helped give you an insight into the rich lore of Warhammer 40K.
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