God-Emperor of Mankind
We believe in one Lord, the Emperor, the Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Emperor of Mankind, the only Lord of creation, eternally begotten of Humanity, Human from Human, Light from Light, true Lord from true Lord, begotten, not made, of one Being with Humanity; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and came among us. For our sake he has faced down Chaos; he withstood death and was enthroned. To this day he lives on in accordance with the Scriptures; he resides upon Mother Terra and is seated upon the throne of Humanity. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Emperor, the giver of life, who proceeds from Humanity and from Terra, who with Humanity and upon Terra is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy true and divinely guided Ecclesiarchy. We acknowledge one path for the defense against Chaos. We look for the justice for our dead, and the life of the worlds to come.-- the Creed of the Mankind's Council of Nicene of Holy Terra (Most Christian elegan/tg/entleman will recognize it as a bastardized version of The Apostle's Creed)
++ Ayhmen ++
"Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please."
— Niccoló Machiavelli
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
- Proverbs 16:18
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
One cannot reign innocently: the insanity of doing so is evident. Every king is a rebel and a usurper.
- Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
The Emperor loves no one man. He cannot afford affection - that is the honest practical for the impossible task that faces the Master of Mankind. He did not love His sons, He does not love men, but He does love mankind.
- Roboute Guilliman
The God-Emperor of Mankind, also known as The Emprah, Emps, Big E, E-Money, Augustus Imperator, Deus-Imperator, Primogenitor, Him on Earth, All-Father, Master of Mankind, The Immortal Emperor, The Empinator, The Fresh Emperor of Humanity, Space Jesus, or if you are of different inclinations, called The Anathema, The Carrion Lord, The False Emperor, The Corpse Emperor, That Twat with the Chair, That Loony Shaman-Chassis, Space Lenin, giant crunchy psychic sandwich or The Corpse on the Throne is the figurehead ruler of the Imperium of Man in the Warhammer 40k universe and is the only sustaining Hope for Humanity as Faster than Light Travel is entirely dependent on Him. The Administratum He established, continues to govern the Imperium in His name, but it is generally accepted that the absence of the Emperor's proper guidance is what has turned the Imperium into the hellish mess that it is. In the Imperium, questioning whatever your superior yells at you, is "moronic" and heretical, and is typically punished by euthanasia (at least in the material realm). He created the 20 Primarchs, who viewed him as their "father". However, he saw them more as tools, and instead of names, referred to them by numbers. It goes without saying that would The Emperor be up and about in the 41st millennium He would be very disappointed. Most fa/tg/uys expect Him to speak in a generic deep, stentorian voice. Though many also would expect him to speak more like another immortal who wishes to guide humanity to the path of Ascension, who may as well be one of his past guises. Clearly the cult of the extragalactic alien self replicating space rock thing didn't work out in the end so he had to try another approach. It would explain why he's so fond of impractically large tanks, walkers, mecha, incredibly unaerodynamic VTOLs and bling though.
Also wrote Pinocchio, which would make Carlo Collodi one of his aliases, He also began life as a two-bit undertaker in an obscure Middle-Eastern village.
- 1 The Entire History of the Emprah
- 2 The Emprah Himself
- 3 ADB on the Emperor in Master of Mankind
- 4 Worship of the Emperor
- 5 The possible death of the Emperor
- 6 Gallery
- 7 See Also
The Entire History of the Emprah
The Emperor is a Perpetual; an immortal psyker with countless lifetimes' worth of knowledge and power and the ambition to use it. According to the fluff, the being that would eventually become known as The Emperor was born in 8000 BC in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) on the banks of the Sakarya river to a tribe of proto-Hittites. From his own account, his path towards greatness was spurred on when his uncle (the biblical Cain) murdered his father (Abel); so kid-Emps did the responsible thing and gave his uncle a myocardial infarction. Kid-Emps then realised that humans needed laws, and good laws needed to be given by good leaders (which he defined to refer to himself specifically): setting him on the (xeno/geno)cidal path of self-righteousness and conquest that would continue for the next 38,000 years.
Allegedly, (according to 1st & 2nd edition fluff), his birth was the result of hundreds of human shamans committing ritual suicide to be reborn as a single individual capable of protecting humanity from the Chaos Gods. However, the validity of this fluff is frequently questioned, given it hasn't been "official" since second edition. However, this theory seems unlikely, especially given that other Perpetuals are known to exist, some of which may be even older than the Emperor, and they don't have godlike powers. The Chaos Gods apparently view the Emperor as an equal/rival due to his acquisition of powers at a later point (see below). Yet other fluff tidbits imply that he is some sort of flesh-construct from the Dark Age of Technology run amok and aping human affectation. This one seems to have some level of truth to it, as Constantin Valdor neither confirmed nor denied it when a shit-kicking Nord Afrikan minister mentioned it to him.
Lore also mentions that He guided humanity throughout history under a number of guises, and many of the probable identities of the Emperor in World History may include but are not limited to Hammurabi (the first man to invent the concept of Law), Alexander the Great (the most fabulous conqueror in all of History, with the philosopher Aristotle serving as his Right Hand Man), Julius Caesar (guess why the Imperium spoke Latin), Jesus (as demonstration that He will sacrifice Himself for the progress of Humanity; which is a symbolic idea, as pre-retcon the lore leaned towards the Emperor being one of Jesus' disciples), Napoleon Bonaparte (to dismantle the old stagnating monarchies of Europe and replace them with Revolutionary ideals), and Abraham Lincoln (to bitchslap some racist slaveowners into knowing that blacks are Humans too) And, it has to be assumed, Conan the Barbarian (Yup, he used to be an asshole. A handsome, musclebound asshole. At least before he got wiser) (It is also possible that He was the Russian emperor Peter I, purely based on the fact that imperial Russia's symbol was the two-headed eagle, and Peter I was considered huge (or great, depending on translation), and Stalin given that and the anti-religious agenda)
Sometime around the 11th or 12th century, He battled a shard of the Void Dragon in modern-day Libya. He eventually defeated it and locked it on Mars, allowing the Adeptus Mechanicus to control machines... eventually. Of course, it's not entirely clear whether this is true or not -- it's entirely possible that ALL of the Emperor's history is a lazily-crafted lie He throws around because no one can debunk it. Although given how Awesome it sounds, we're going to say it is. Either that, or it's just another example of how Geedubs can't be bothered to keep their stories consistent even about the most important parts of the setting.
Whatever his actual origins might have been, for the most part He more or less stayed out of the way of humanity's progress during the next 30,000 years of history, including the Dark Age of Technology, though hot-off-the-press fluff indicates He might have been traversing outer space in old-style NASA rockets with the other Perpetuals, to eventually coming to find the planet Molech, where He passed through a gateway that led directly to the fortresses of the four Chaos Gods. Here He either challenged, bargained, or stole portions of power from a source claimed by the gods as their own. This would earn Him the ire of the duped/defeated Ruinous Powers, who consider him as some sort of usurper or that he reneged on some kind of undisclosed deal we haven't been made aware of yet.
He returned to Terra at the closing years of the Age of Strife. With Terra cut off from the rest of the Human empire and Terra itself ruled by warring "techno-barbarians", in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, E-money decided to reveal Himself, using His mastery of genetic engineering to create the Custodians and cheaper, easier to make Thunder Warriors (the predecessors of the Space Marines). Using "join-me-or-die" tactics, He managed to conquer the entirety of Terra during the event called Unification Wars. Then, He made contact with the Mechanicum of Mars and calling Himself the Omnissiah, convinced them to build Him weapons and space-ships. Around this time, He also created a doctrine, the Imperial Truth, which states that religion, faith, and superstition must be all banned, because they have never succeeded in unifying the human race during all of Emp's lifetime. Simply put: the whole "Peace, Love, and Religion" mumbo-jumbo has never worked and now must be eradicated (ignoring or forgetting what happened to real-life societies that tried to throw faith and religion under the bus).
Exception where's He's not a perfect badass? The Last Church. It is permissible to substitute the voice of whatever angry militant atheist appeals to you most/least for the duration of this one (short) story. Also, according to that same story, this asshole wiped out Scandinavia, right when Scandinavia was getting fun again. According to the Horus Heresy books that mention the Unification Wars, He burned down a lot of things on a partially recovering Terra.
But, before He set out to conquer the stars with the newly-formed Imperial Army (which contained both ground forces and space-borne fleets), He decided to create the twenty Primarchs, using Himself as the genetic template, while splitting the additional power He stole from the Gods into 20 portions, infusing each piece with a fragment of His own personality, to allow them, in turn, to congeal and gestate (just like how daemons are born!) into the indomitable souls of His future Primarchs. Then, He bound each such vessel/soul to their godlike bodies/shells as they formed in their gestation capsules. Let this sink in: each primarch is basically a unique daemonic soul, bound to a super awesomely tough material body. Though with this power apparently stolen, The Big Four will inevitably and continually be pissed at Him for using their power for His own ends. So the Chaos Gods snatched the primarchs away (via time-travel-as-a-vision shenanigans, don't even try to explain it here, just read The First Heretic), inside their incubator pods and all, from the secret lab underneath the Himalayas, to scatter them away across the galaxy. Luckily for the Emperor, some genetic code was left over from each primarch, so from that He created 20 Legions to serve as the elites of His army: The SPEHSS MEHREENS. So, with His armies and space-ships complete (minus the Primarchs, which He hoped to find), He embarked upon the Great Crusade, to restore mankind to its rightful place as rulers of the galaxy.
However, the Emperor himself states to Arkhan Land (the guy who discovered Land Speeders/Raiders) that he never considered the Primarchs to be his literal sons and saw them as well-crafted tools so he could get his work done. Likening himself to Geppetto (from 'Pinocchio') in that it is only natural for 20 wooden boys to think of their creator as "Father". Whether He felt any kinship between all of them or only some of them is not entirely known. But it seems like He was all like, "Yall think I'm a bad dad, but look, shit I just made these kids in a lab! I'm not really their dad!". Then again He puts on personas for every occasion (during the meeting, Land saw him as not as a gold armoured god, but as an utterly logical scientist and the Emperor had the whole shtick of people interpreting his words in the manner that made the most sense to them personally) who really knows when He's being genuine or not or how He feels.
On that note, Aaron Demski-Bowden has insisted that nothing the Emperor says in Master of Mankind should be taken at face value. Moreover, the Emperor is consistent in how He describes the Primarchs. While He uses numbers and "it" when talking to Ra and Land, at the end of a book He's referring to Horus by name and as a "he", not an "it". AD-B has doggedly refused to clarify, because he enjoys watching the arguments he's kicked off.
As He found each Primarch, He assigned them command of their respective Legions and to act as His generals, warlords and pantheon of heroes that humanity were meant to emulate, in the quest to unify humanity in the Great Crusade (although, at some point, one of them was executed and the other disappeared, leaving only 18 Primarchs and Legions after 100 years of the Great Crusade).
A military campaign of a grand scale, this is also when the SPESS MEHREENS were most awesome and at their peak. Just when things seemed to be going well, the Horus Heresy took place, where 8.5 of the Primarchs and their respective legions rebel against the Emprah. In the end, the Emperor fought and slew Horus (who was daddy's favourite) but at a great cost. The Emperor was mortally wounded to the point that He had to be put permanently on a life support system known as the Golden Throne. On that day, an untold amount of manly tears was shed.
Subsequently, 10 thousand years later, without the Emperor's leadership, the Imperium eventually degraded into the theocratic, grimdark empire we all know and love today, in the 41st millennium. In the 500th year of the 41st Millennium (the exact middle of the millennium), which is a few centuries before the Time of Ending began, visions and signs reach out to all walks of life and social status to the Imperium of the Emperor crying, whether it's to lowly denizens of an underhive having dreams about it, to respected sanctioned psykers reading it from the Imperial Tarot, to shamans on feral planets instinctively knowing that the extra rain pouring down lately are tears of sadness from their "sky god".
While interred on the Golden Throne, the Emperor's psychic-essence prevents daemon kind from directly assailing Terra, while additionally sustaining the psychic-beacon known as the Astronomican, that makes warp travel within 50,000 light years around Terra possible.
A question remained unanswered is that, is the above thing the only thing he is capable of doing these days? Or can he communicate with others? It was said that the newly revived Guilliman had an audience with him for a whole day, so presumably he can. But then, what is he waiting for before waking the sleepy beauty up?
It is common knowledge, that the Emperor is the most powerful psyker alive, humbling even the Eldar. It is also suggested that He has guided humanity in a guise of people like Julius Caesar, Conan the Barbarian, Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee and Jesus. It is uncertain as to whether or not His internment on the Golden Throne is a good thing. Some believe that if He were to die, the Imperium would truly fall into darkness, whereas others believe that if allowed to finally die, He would reincarnate and return to unify the galaxy once more, stronger than ever. Whatever the truth, Games Workshop are probably never going to advance the story, so speculation has little worth. Unless you take Warhammer Fantasy as an example, where the time-line ended. Badly.
As the Golden Throne is breaking apart, the Mechanicus and certain elements at the top of the Imperium tries to contact the Dark Eldar for knowledge on how to repair the thing. The Carrion Throne reveals that a Haemonculus did make it to Terra, he is hunted down by the Inquisitor and the Custodes. So yeah, a secret war is possibly about to happen for disagreement over how to save him.
The Emprah Himself
- "The Emperor was a brilliant scientist, a powerful warrior, and great psyker, but he was a terrible father..."
- - Roboute Guilliman, giving a short, yet accurate biography of the Emperor. Though on the other hand, he would learn that the Emperor never saw himself as their father.
After He shaved his goatee, His chin radiated a brilliant light through the Warp. The Imperial Navy uses this light as a beacon to guide them through that beautifully terrible place. He is sometimes referred to as the Emprah, a joke derived from the voice acting in the Dawn of War game, Soulstorm, specifically Indrick Boreale's final speeches.
The Emperor is said to be so powerful that He could destroy suns with ease, though He has never actually done so (he however, made a golden sun which he put in the middle of his broken Webway gate to prevent daemons from spilling through, albeit needing to concentrate on powering it for the next ten thousand years. This would indicate that the Emperor does indeed have the power to destroy stars.). The Chaos Gods are scared as fuck of the guy, calling him respectively "The Anathema", as in the polar opposite to Chaos. The Eldar fear that if the Emperor were to die, a new Eye of Terror would pop out with Terra at its center and possibly a new Chaos God would be born.
He was also capable of summoning what can only be called an army of human souls (including every soldier who had died for him, Ferrus Manus included) to fight for him; an ability utterly unseen in the 40k universe and suggesting that he has some fundamental connection to human souls in the afterlife - a comforting thought compared to dissolving into the Warp to be eaten by daemons and giving some credence to the 40k era theory that when the Time of Ending...ends..the Emperor and all loyal human souls will join in one final battle against Chaos.
After He was nearly killed by His son, He was placed upon the Golden Throne and hasn't moved for the past 10 millennia. Most of the fluff maintains that His existence on a day-to-day basis since then is a living hell (by comparison, the torture astropaths go through when becoming one, would be like a trip to the dentist). It's the mother/father/uncle/2nd Cousin of all mindfucks, so bad that even an Inquisitor would likely go insane as a result (or anybody else for that matter) and yet He carries on. Why? He may be the universe's most powerful vegetable, but that doesn't mean that He will just take a sit and die. Oh no, it's exactly the opposite. It gives Him a fuckton of work to do, and along with being THE lighthouse in the Warp, guiding the Imperial Navy, He also needs to make the aforementioned astropaths, as well as keeping all the nasties of the Warp where they're supposed to be (i.e. not invading realspace to make the lives of all living things miserable). He also does it for the good of humanity (sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?). In the last year of M41, tech-priests discovered that the Golden Throne is failing and the Emperor is dying. There is a chance of the Emperor returning to life, as well as the risk that He will die forever. If the latter would be the case, then everyone in the galaxy will become a Chaos sex toy/punching bag/plague vector/science experiment. Note that if the Emperor recovers, He'd be several hundred times more powerful. Emps was born of a group of psykers combining their might and souls in one ritual act. Maybe. Since then, Empy has probably gained about 365 gigafucktrillion souls (or about half the worlds' current pop.) since he got put on that Throne (see: leveling in Dark Souls), as he is the afterlife now, provided one excludes the veritable Hell that is the Warp. And all that stuff the Eldar get up to.
- "He's been up to all sorts of things, our beloved father. Consorting with Xenos, resurrecting ancient technology. Don't believe that he is blameless in this...
- - Magnus the Red
His desire to guide and protect humanity, in addition to His power, made the Emperor as close to a farseer as humanity was ever going to get. He declared humanity to be superior to all Xenos which was fair enough considering the collapse of the Eldar, planned to destroy every shard of religion by force of arms if needed in order to protect them from the whispers of Chaos (though he got the whole thing backwards, since said religions were starving the Chaos gods), planned to reunite humanity under His rule no matter what anyone else wanted/thought of that (again by force of arms if needed), cared little for the Primarchs being His actual sons (thinking of them as generals and tools rather than biological offspring, and screwing over several of them in His efforts to recruit them / making them follow orders (hence causing some of their later betrayals)), carried out many unorthodox, morally questionable experiments and much much more... All because this was the only way He could foresee humanity surviving the threats to come. Also known as the "Golden Path". Any other action He ever partook in, no matter how unorthodox or morally questionable or just outright horrific was secondary to the one and only goal: survival. For a being that's lived millennia, having foreseen as much as is possible to do so whilst not being an actual god, His way was the only way lest we all face extinction. Those were the options with the context of the universe He found Himself in. Time was against Him, and expediency was the order of the day; secure the physical safety of Mankind in the galaxy then safeguard their minds and souls. Everything else was a tool to be utilized in pursuit of that single purpose. It didn't matter how the godlike princelings felt, or how they were raised; it only mattered that they performed their allocated tasks as swiftly and efficiently as possible so that He could move on to the next phase of His Great Work.
His reign eventually killed more humans (not even counting those who were innocent) than the entire total of all of humanity's dictators in history (ironically that may have been past personas of the Emperor). Even during the Unification Wars, several Terran cultures were wiped out completely (Orioc on Antarctica, for example, was razed to the ground for being religious, just to make a point, even after its forces were defeated and its people ready to surrender), while simultaneously being pretty terrible at incorporating non-Terran elements. Because THAT is just how damn important and dire the circumstances were. An entire galaxy spanning empire needed to be constructed in little under two centuries when the cataclysm was foreseen to occur and ain't no one got time to fart arse about with treating people the way they deserve if the species won't survive.
Contrary to popular belief, he really did think the post-Ullanor phase through to some degree, Horus was the right choice as Warmaster for no other could command the respect of nearly all his brother better than Lupercal the First. And Dorn as Praetorian was as correct a decision as was possible to make considering that his talents were put to good use throughout the Heresy that followed. There was no need to put a Primarch in charge of the Council of Terra for the Primarchs were not made to rule, but to serve as generals in retaking the galaxy. Humanity was to be governed by humanity. Primarchs like say, Guilliman, though perfect as an administrator, was better suited and needed as a general for the Great Crusade. Honestly, it's bewildering that no one in the military saw the need for human administration. Having godlike Primarchs in charge at the top only serves to increase superstition in a secular galaxy when the idea was to rid humanity of religion and superstition in order to better protect it from warp predation.
To be fair, the whole reason humanity (and the Emperor) hates aliens is because during the Age of Strife numerous Xenos races exploited humanity's trust and either raided, lollygagged, looted or all of the above and were generally a nuisance the entire time. Then the Emperor comes along and decides that the best way to stop all that from happening again is to wipe out all Xenos that might even think to pose a threat to the fledgling Imperium. However, those few Xenos species that did not pose an immediate threat to humanity were usually made protectorates similar to the Tau government (unless they resisted, were in the way, possessed a planet, influenced human culture at all, or were intelligent at all, in which case the results were predictable). Ever since His ascension, the Imperium forgot about the part where harmless aliens could be tolerated. But on the other hand, the most common xenos are massive dicks and aren't exactly willing to buddy up with the Imperium themselves. Plus, at least according to Horus Rising, the idea of letting Xenos exist and then eventually grow stronger is wrong on every level to the Imperium (hence the whole mess with the Interex/Diasporex.
To be even more fair (and meta), the triumvirate of Horus Heresy authors tend to have their own interpretation of the Big E. Graham McNeill generally portrays Him as competent and benevolent (if flawed), Dan Abnett portrays Him as competent but bloodthirsty, while Aaron Dembski-Bowden portrays Him as a vicious, needlessly cruel imbecile (and even this is counterbalanced by his portrayal in Master of Mankind, where he's interestingly a mixture of all the previous portrayals at once - which is kinda of appropriate really). Chris Wraight, as far as he has portrayed Him, has done so through the eyes of Jaghatai Khan, showing Him as deeply flawed and distant from His own sons, but also countering that He was working towards goals even the Primarchs couldn't fully grasp. Even in Path of Heaven, where the Khan gets close to learning the secrets of the Webway project, he's shown to not have all the cards (the Emperor's knowledge that humanity is evolving into a psychic race, for example).
On another note, long before the Horus Heresy novel series, there were hidden gems Noobs are not aware of, such as a text describing the fight between Horus and the Emperor (although it wasn't written especially well), or Conspiracy Theories. One of them was actually the possibility that the Emperor was already dead when Rogal Dorn managed to reach him; however, in the aforementioned text, Horus had realised that he had been wronged and deceived by the Chaos Gods, who immediately ceased to possessed the Warmaster and fled before the Emperor's final Force attack bring woe to both of them. What if the Emperor had spared him or if the Warmaster survived somehow ? In Olden Fluff, all Primarchs were Psykers and originally supposed to be shining examplars of Human free from the taint of the Empyrean which they failed to bare true potential due to their early contact with the Warp, via the Dark Gods abducting them pedobear style.
This in turn was what caused their mutations and unique characteristics and diversity which was more of a metaphor that each Primarch was an image of humanity themselves; in fact, much of the powers of the Primarchs, like the Emperor, would have come from their psychic abilities. It is known that Sensei's powers include health, regeneration, greater athletic prowess and overpowering their Strength stat when they try to attack something, thus it would not be surprising if it was also the case for Primarchs (baby Sanguinius was super healthy and immune to Baal's radiations, Curze crawled out of his molten drop-pod and crater while screaming in pain and fled immediately, instinctively, into the darkness, and latter his body was fully healed) prior to the new fluff messing everything up, 'cause BL writers have trouble getting their shit together.
But back to where we are; the notion that the Emperor is dead forebodes a terrible possibility, in which the corpse that Rogal Dorn took back on Terra's Imperial Palace was not Big E but of Horus being passed as the Emperor... and was worshipped as such for Ten Thousand Years. While this has become highly unlikely, it would both be a great and GRIMDARK plot twist and an immense source of Lulz especially when you mix in the events of Gathering Storm 3 with Roboute Guilliman. While this would explain why some Fluff versions mentions that no one save for the Adeptus Custodes' Companions have entered the Throne Room, and keep maximum security all the time (to be fair, other sources mentioned exceptions everywhere, such as the psykers being needed as sacrifice for the Golden Throne, Grey Knights companies granted audience or certain high ranked Inquisitors such as their High Lord and Hector Rex), this theory has since been disproven.
The truth is outright revealed in Dark Imperium - the first novel set after the Gathering Storm. Roboute Guilliman reflects upon his meeting with the Emperor, saying that he entered the Throne Room expecting to find the Emperor dead. The Emperor was a wizened corpse surrounded by banks of groaning machinery... but the Emperor was still alive and talked to him. Guilliman feels that the Emperor's psychic might has grown since his death, but that his humanity has gone as well, to the point that Guilliman thinks that even if he is a god he doesn't deserve to be worshiped. Nonetheless, in some impossible fashion, something of the Emperor has survived to M42.
His Goals and Flaws
- Lead and shape Mankind into a psychic race and surpass the Eldar by learning from their mistakes.
- Unite Humanity under one aegis and allow for instant communication and travel across all human inhabited worlds, thereby uniting the species in a way that it had never been before.
- Most importantly, prevent another calamity like the Age of Strife or Fall of the Eldar.
In order to achieve this He had to:
- Reclaim every single human inhabited world, spacecraft or station;
- Purge all humans that had deviated from the normal strain of humanity (because they would not evolve into the predicted psychic species and threatened the Plan with their deviancy);
- Remove alien influence or control from human worlds;
- Eliminate external Xenos threats throughout the galaxy that might challenge or become a threat to Mankind's supremacy.
- Shelter and protect Humanity from the fell hand of Chaos.
To achieve those secondary goals He had to:
- Create superhuman generals to bestride the galaxy and lead men to innumerable victories;
- Create superhuman soldiers powerful enough to retake the galaxy beneath the banners of said generals from any enemy;
- Remove the influence of religion from the collective psyche of the human species in order to protect them from the insidious whispers of Chaos (often mistaken for something supernatural and hence a gateway to disaster).
So in the pursuit of those tertiary goals, the Emperor undertook the Great Crusade. Once it was over, all the Primarchs were to have their place: Lorgar was to be the Emperor's Herald and shelter mankind from superstition through enlightenment so that if ever they heard whispers in the dark; they knew it was not natural and to be feared by it, thus denying its embrace. Magnus was to assist the Emperor in sitting on the Golden Throne of earth, thus powering the human Webway (somehow), becoming a key figure in Humanity's ascension. Horus was to protect Mankind from external physical threats throughout the Galaxy as Humanity's general. Konrad was to be the enforcer of the Emperor's Laws. Mortarion, His watchguard of wayward deviancy etc.
But the Imperium was only one half of the Plan. The other was the Webway, allowing nigh-instantaneous travel and communication, limiting Mankind's reliance on the warp to almost nothing in the form of Warp travel and thus protecting them against the influence of Chaos. Therefore allowing Mankind to evolve in relative safety and security under the direct guidance and control of the Emperor. When Mankind would be ready, we'd be protected from the warp naturally. That was the final crowning achievement that would bring all the Emperor's plans to fruition and pull all the wayward goals into one singular perfect Great Work. All the sacrifice, all the death, all the heartache, the glory, the battles, the trials and tribulation, 48,000 years of history was culminating into that one Plan. And it all would've been worth it because Mankind would've been saved for all time. Worth any price, where the ends justified the means, or so he claimed.
And yet at the same time, it was this very same pragmatism that ultimately led to his downfall:
- Though his pragmatism made him a superb ruler in wartime, the ultra-militarized society He had created was entirely dependent on the Imperium being constantly at war. Even if the Great Crusade had proceeded exactly as the Emperor expected, it still would have run out of enemies eventually. And when you have a few trillion newly unemployed soldiers with no other skills beyond killing on your hands and no other purpose in life beyond said killing...well, they tend to get rowdy. He should have realized this already when he had to mop up the surviving Thunder Warriors. It remains unknown how the Imperium would have continued to look after the Great Crusade was completed and how the large military would be scaled down- or if such a feat could even be possible with a civilization he designed to work only in the presence of a steady stream of conquests. Sure, some of the primarchs and legions had other skills like Guilliman's political organization, but the rank-and-file? Or the likes of the World Eaters?
- The Emperor's concern for humanity as a whole belied his refusal to acknowledge that humanity was not just a species, but also a group of individuals with infinite variety and whose goals did not necessarily support His own. The fact that other human civilizations such as the Interex had already found ways to fight against Chaos on their own and were just as advanced as the Imperium (if not more so) meant nothing to him (or at least, to his Plan). In his mind, he alone knew what was good for humanity and anything short of total submission to the Imperium was grounds for destruction even (or especially) if they were doing a better job than he was. In effect, all his efforts were performed in the name of an abstraction that arguably never existed in the first place.
- He made a critical mistake in that trying to erase religion without replacing it with secular ideals that had the same degree of universal appeal. Lacking the immortality and inhumanly grand perspective of the Emperor, it's a basic part of human nature to look for meaning and purpose in a cause greater than oneself, especially in the harsh and grimdark universe that was the Old Night. The Imperial Truth tried to do this, but it didn't take into account that "reason", "logic", and "humanism" were by definition too mundane to be suited for the replacement of the old religions, as they were poor substitutes for finding individual meaning. The fact that the Imperial Cult took off so quickly after the Emperor's internment on the Golden Throne (and is arguably the only thing keeping the Imperium a remotely unified entity in the present) is proof that the Emperor was once again either too stubborn for his own good or too divorced from the "normal" human condition to understand the value of belief. In either case, all it accomplished was giving all four of the Ruinous Powers a reason to get rid of him, while also giving them an invaluable tool to do so in the form of Lorgar. And all while he was telling the Primarchs that daemons were just another Xenos race in an ill-advised attempt to dispense with their mythological appearance and obvious possession of supernatural powers. This attempt left them vulnerable for Chaotic corruption among themselves or their Legions. Yes, He gave them incredibly vague warnings, but those were not even close to the amount of information He needed to give them. Or, for those of us who think this sounds just a little bit religious for our tastes and don't want to get into a philosophical debate over the importance of belief, imagine the trillions of citizens who had gone their whole lives worshipping a belief only to have ol' Emps turn up and just say "No".
- For a guy who says he's trying to avoid the same mistakes the Eldar made, his obsession with human supremacy and the supposed "purity" of the human form (as defined by what, his own opinion?) are almost indistinguishable from the pre-Fall Eldar's certainty that they were the rightful rulers of the galaxy. Even if humanity did become a purely psychic race, nothing would stop it from making another Chaos God by accident. It's not a stretch to hypothesize that this was itself a ploy for him to use the collective psychic power of humanity to elevate himself to the status of godhood, where he could truly rule with infinite power.
- The only beings who knew how to create new parts of the Webway were the Old Ones, and they're all dead. At best, the Webway project would've delayed the inevitable before the fact that nobody can figure out how to keep it working became obvious. And since the Warp already bleeds into the Webway at the best of times...well, the whole thing would've been rendered pointless if or when the Warp completely breaks through into the Webway.
- The so-called mistakes and subsequent "Fall" of the Eldar may have been foreseen and apparently planned for. By the close of the 41st Millennium, the psychic gestalt of the conscious-dead Eldar have formed the new god Ynnead, quite probably proving that willpower eventually counters desire and completing the Eldar's psychic ascension as a species. The Emperor may not have been aware of this and humanity's own psychic awakening may not have been as tragic, but to give him credit, his own endgame is somewhat similar in wanting to nurture mankind's psychic ascension but without the catastrophe. He is possibly positioning himself to become the focus for humanity's willpower rather than needing enough souls to die before they gestalt together, becoming a guiding will rather than a collective one.
- Most damningly of all, his total disregard for the possibility that the Primarchs might actually have their own thoughts and feelings ended up being one of the key reasons why so many of the Legions ended up falling to Chaos in the first place:
- Lorgar's case (and the entirety of the Horus Heresy, at that matter) would have been entirely avoidable if the Emperor acted like a genuine father figure for once in his lifetime and explained to Lorgar why his Emperor worship had to stop (which the Emperor, with all his undeniable charisma could have achieved). Instead, he had to act like a total dick and utterly humiliate his son by having his grandest city utterly ransacked and ruined, all to prove a point (and just to be an even bigger dick; he had one of Lorgar's own brothers do his dirty work.). Yes the point was VERY important to make to Lorgar, but when you say "THIS WORSHIP WILL DESTROY US" without actually going into depth how bad shit can actually get, you leave a fanatic with an excuse to continue being a fanatic and a very good reason to hate you on a personal level.
- Angron's case is self-explanatory; honestly, if it weren't for Emps sending him into battle so often he would have rebelled sooner. Sure, he couldn't just let one of his Primarchs get himself killed in a slave revolt, but you'd think he'd send down some of the War Hounds or something instead of warping him away and earning Angron's undying hatred. Why a
man supermanPrimarch (god damn it!) who knew only killing (not even war, just murdering people) should be controlling 100,000+ Space Marines is something only the Emperor and his divine ass can fathom.
- Fulgrim's road to damnation started because he decided to loot a Slaaneshi-possesed sword. Knowing nothing about Chaos, Fulgrim had no idea he was using an incredibly dangerous warp artifact that that would lead to untold consequences. It didn't help that his strict xenophobic teachings prevented Fulgrim from taking Eldrad's advice about the Laer Blade into account.
- Even with the Webway fuck-up (which itself could have been prevented had the Emperor not kept it a secret from the most important people in his plans) Magnus might have remained a loyalist if the Emperor had brought Magnus to the Great Work earlier, or had him stationed on Terra along with Dorn, or even just listened to his warning that Horus had turned traitor. Instead, he totally disregarded Magnus's entirely correct warning in favor of allowing Russ (the one Primarch who most wanted Magnus dead) to arrest him because he didn't like the way said warning was delivered. And with the door already broken, he could have simply psy-phoned Magnus to clear it all up instead of jumping to conclusions.
- Similarly to Angron, Mortarion always resented the Emperor for not letting him get to kill his adoptive father, and when the Emperor refused to give him an answer about the obvious piece of Warp-tech that was the Golden Throne he concluded that the Emperor was a hypocrite and the Imperial Truth was bullshit.
- The Emperor, being the wisest and most powerful human psyker in the galaxy of all people, should have been able to see that Konrad Curze was an unstable psyker who was on the fast road to devolving into insanity due to his uncontrolled talents. And if he already was aware of it, then at best he was being incredibly careless. And what with the whole Night Lords comprise of criminals, one must really question his divine quality control. Or maybe he is just totally rely on his
largehuge brain capacity to manage things, and simply dismiss things that can't fit in.
- Completely ignoring that Perturabo needlessly had one in ten men in his legion killed by decimation under flimsy pretenses. Coupled with the fact that Perturabo was originally a peaceful, diplomatic soul; these two should have triggered some alarm bells about his mental stability. While it was said that the Emperor considers the Primarchs more of tools and less of his children, in retrospect it was obvious that there was plenty of favoritism going on.
- Horus himself was only pushed to fall because the Chaos Gods played on his worries that he wasn't fit to be Warmaster combined with the unrealized, greater fear that the Emperor never cared for him as a person and that he, the other Primarchs, and the Astartes as a whole would have no place in the Imperium after the Great Crusade's conclusion. (Horus likely being aware of what happened to the Thunder Warriors when they outlived their usefulness at the end of the Unification Wars probably stoked that particular fire nicely.) You'd have thought the Emperor's most beloved 'son' would at least have been shown the special rooms in the Imperial Palace the Emperor made specifically for the Primarchs to live in after the Great Crusade ended, or at least discussed what he had planned for them when they weren't needed as generals any longer, but no.
- Perhaps the biggest kicker to this is that if we're going to take all of Black Library into account, the Emperor never truly cared for the Primarchs at all (loyalist and traitor included), viewing them as nothing more than powerful but ultimately expendable tools to further the ambitions of Humanity's survival and ascendancy. As determined by the Emperor, of course.
- Although one can always argue that the remaining Primarchs stayed loyal either because they believed in his vision for humanity or were too loyal to be turned, there's no telling exactly how long that might have gone on after the Great Crusade's end - some of them showed signs of disloyalty to the Emperor even during the Heresy, only staying on his side either out of loyalty to Mankind as a whole (Guilliman and his Imperium Secundus come to mind here), by recognizing the other side as an even greater evil (like Jagatai), or only because the Imperium is on the winning side (if Curze's trolling was true; The Lion, which probably isn't true considering he stabbed him in the next paragraph and told Curze that he didn't care and that he was balls-to-the-wall loyal).
- To clarify the above point, after Guilliman's meeting with the Emperor following the Primarch's revival, he noted that while he loved humanity as a whole, the Emperor was practically incapable of caring about individual people, even his own Primarchs. Everything and everyone was just a tool to him. While some might interpret this as the Emperor simply being a dick, you have to understand his situation; he's an immortal superhuman with a plan to uplift humanity. The fact he's immortal means he would be unable to form any meaningful relationships with mortals, because he'll always outlast them in one way or another. His plan also involved tons of sacrifices for the greater good, when you're forced to sacrifice anything to continue your plans; you can't afford to be too attached to someone you might have to throw into the fire in a split second. The Emprah is cursed to always looking forward to the endless road of the future, he can never live in nor understand the concept of the present. As a result his plans failed to account for the fact others might not just meekly go along with his plans without question and became further detached from the real human condition.
- Overall, and quite ironically, the main reason why the Emperor's plan was doomed to fail in time was because while the Emperor understood the path on what humanity must take for a brighter future, he himself was either unable or unwilling to understand humanity. Instead, he chose to remain distant from them and act like he was above their understanding, and that they should just simply follow him because he's the Emperor and he alone knows what's best for humanity, because shut up or be on the receiving end of a boltgun. (Even more ironically, this was how the majority of the gods that humanity originally believed in acted as well, and at least they had the excuse that they really were divine. For all his efforts to remove religion, the Emperor played the part of a god hilariously well.). Lastly maybe the Emperor understood that his Primarchs were unstable and unreliable. Given the issues with the Thunder Warrior's he had to know all of this was coming eventually just from past experience. But it's possible he just didn't expect it to be in the form of a team death match. He could see Kurze being unstable enough eventually that he and his Legion would need to be removed but expected it to be individual Legions and Primarchs that would need censure but couldn't foresee his own flaws causing enough gulfs with each of his Primarchs that they would have a reason to band together. If that was the case he was a poor father and a poor leader not to see his own arrogance as a flaw in his design.
On another note, the fact his ossified self has managed to shed tears and there was an incident where everyone across the Imperium saw statues of the Emperor weeping tears of blood due the incoming disasters of the End Times may mean that he has finally started to realize how horribly he fucked up on every possible level. Or maybe it's hurting even more than ever to stay sit at the Golden Throne.
The latter is far more likely; according to Roboute Guilliman, when he met with the Emperor after his revival, He treated Guilliman as a mere tool without showing even the faintest display of affection or care for him as a person. One can only assume that 10,000 years on the Golden Throne has done absolutely nothing to make the Emperor be less of an asshole; in fact, he's described as being human in name alone, and Guilliman believes that even if he is a god he doesn't deserve to be worshipped.
But what does all that mean for The Duel?
Yeah...about that. Regarding the Emperor's duel with Horus, we're all reasonably sure we know the old story. The Emperor faces down Horus, and had the power to roflstomp him, but his love for his favourite son prevented him from going all out, which leads to Emps getting his ass kicked. It takes an extraordinarily callous killing by Horus to finally convince the Emperor that Horus is beyond saving, and Emps blasts him full power to put an end to the Horus Heresy. The rising problem here is that this version of events heavily relies on the Emperor's compassion (particularly towards his sons), compassion that the Horus Heresy books and Dark Imperium assert that he never had, either then or in the 41st millennium. The Emperor for example put down his Thunder Warriors as soon as they stopped being useful, or safe for work, he did not even pretend to caring about Angron and his Butchers nails, asserting that he would keep him as long as he had a use for him, and so on. Without that, the scene in its current form simply does not work. After all Horus had done in the years before, in a room with the maimed corpse of Sanguinius, a loyal and beloved (as far as it goes with Big E, at last) son of his, there is really no way he would have gone all fatherly love on Horus and not just blasted him, or at least tried to. (Maybe the current form is Imperial propaganda trying to conceal the fact that Horus simply kicked his shiny golden ass for some reason?) So what the hell will happen? A very good question, at this point. Laurie Goulding has implied that when the Heresy books finally get to it, the final duel may play out very differently from how we think we know it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time it's been retconned.
Perhaps, or perhaps not, to have hesitated out of love for a son, the final weakness during the last test to save mankind, that would have shown why the Emperor couldn't afford to love anyone, not even his own sons, so yeah, perhaps now, finally, we have the complete picture of the Master of Mankind.
tl;dr He was a horribly flawed but well intended asshole with a "The needs of the many" outlook on life meaning he couldn't afford to show love or compassion to anything but mankind as a whole, not even his "sons."
ADB on the Emperor in Master of Mankind
In response to criticisms on his portrayal of the Emperor, ADB posted this:
That's true, and I definitely wanted to bring out a better understanding of his vision and what he was up against, but that's also lore I'd wager anyone with a deep knowledge of the setting already had a handle on to some degree, whether explicitly or not. What I wanted to avoid was too much "new" stuff. You have to put in something new, and thankfully what little newness I do introduce in my work is seemingly well-regarded, but I've always said our job (as I see it) is to illustrate the setting and show what it's like to live there, not to set it in stone. As much as the fandom adores "advancing the storyline", it's not something that interests me, by and large. I try my best to show things from the perspectives of characters on the ground level, bring a few perceptions of the setting through the lens of my own imagination and the insight I'm lucky enough to get endlessly talking about the setting with its creators and inheritors, and then get out. Most of my books are, to some extent, not definitive. They're about Some Guy, not the entire faction.
Grimaldus in Helsreach has no bond to the wider war on Armageddon and hates that he's been left behind by the Black Templars, but he's (hopefully) a good example of what it feels like to be a Black Templar, and to think like one, and - crucially - what it feels like to be a human around them. Talos and the other characters of First Claw spend a trilogy unable to decide what the Night Lords Legion really was, and each of them remembers their glory days differently. I didn't want to speak for the whole Legion. Hyperion in The Emperor's Gift is a largely generic Grey Knight present in dire circumstances. HH-wise, I didn't want to show all of the Word Bearers and base a book around the expectations of Kor Phaeron, Lorgar, and Erebus, so I focused on the Serrated Sun in the middle of the changes taking place across the galaxy. Savage Weapons is largely about Corswain, not about Curze and the Lion. The Master of Mankind is about Ra, Zephon, Jaya, and Land in the heart of the Emperor's plans for the species, not about the Emperor himself. As much as I wrote about Angron and Lorgar, they get significantly less in-their-heads screen time than most other primarchs in most other books.
It's harder to do that with the Heresy, but - again - I do my best to present individual experiences and mindsets in characters like Khârn, Argel Tal, and Ra, rather than definitive looks at the entire Chapter/Legion/faction and setting its events in stone. I try to present a feel for how it is to live inside that culture and be part of the experiences they go through; it's about immersion into the Chapter or Legion, presenting them as believable and real, not definitively saying "All of Chapter X are like Y." So: I'm reluctant to talk about TMoM and the Emperor's perception in that book in any real detail, partly because the book is still new and there's a lot individual readers would do better discovering for themselves without my thoughts in public, and partly because everything I'd say is ultimately in the book. Anything I say will be taken out of context or weaponised one way or another somewhere, and used in a way that makes me sigh, cringe, or a dramatic melange of both that shall hereafter be called the sigh-cringe. (Plus, most of all, I have faith in readers. They don't need me defining anything, even if it might be interesting for a few peeps.)
So, I'll just say this. The Master of Mankind is entirely from the perspectives of people that meet the Emperor in pretty specific circumstances. There are, obviously, other circumstances to come. Nothing in it is definitive, even less so than my usual work. Any definitive statement you can make about how the Emperor sees something or does something is almost always contradicted in the book itself. That's not an escape clause or an excuse. It's the point. Writing him definitively would've been the easiest and most disappointing thing in the world. (And on that note, remember, everyone views 40K differently. What Person X is absolutely certain is the truth of the Emperor and the best way to present him would be laughed off by Persons A, B, and C. The flip side to that is that not every perspective is founded in fact or understanding. The earliest "I've not read this yet, but..." criticisms and misunderstandings of TMoM in, ah, certain reddit/chan-style locations was regarded by GW IP folks as, I quote: "These angry people seem to be beholden to a version of 40K that has never existed...") But in all seriousness, I don't want to delve too deeply into explaining the ways the Emperor's contradictions matter or don't matter. They're there, and they're definitely formative - totally agree - if not exactly definitive. With the Emperor, a lot of interaction is about getting out what you put in. You get what you give. Your perceptions and expectations are reflected back on you because that's how the human brain perceives everything (a fact that cannot be overstated; the science behind it is fascinating and all-important), especially when you're talking about someone who exists on that plane of power. At one point the Emperor makes mention of the notion that he's not even speaking, that being near to him allows the conveyance of meaning through psychic osmosis, and communication telepathically. He's not even talking. It's raw understanding filtering through a mind, or just the way the mortal mind comprehends the aura of what the Emperor intends, or, or, or... That's what I mean. TMoM is littered with that stuff. Does he only address the primarchs by number instead of name? Some characters will swear he does that, and doesn't that just perfectly match their perspectives of the primarchs as either emotionally-compromised "too-human" things that think they're sons (Ra), or genetic masterworks that have become galaxy-damning screw-ups that have literally let the galaxy burn and brought the Imperium to its knees, leading people to be exiled from their homeworlds (Land). Do you think Sanguinius will agree? Or care that's what mortals think? The Emperor's portrayal on that isn't even consistent between Ra and Diocletian, two of his Custodians - and on PAGE ONE, the only time he interacts with a primarch himself, and the one and only thing he says to Magnus the Red is...? "Magnus."
Like... that's a pretty strong indication that the interactions which follow are playing by different rules. Ra sees the Warlord of Humanity, just a man, but a great mean, weary and defiant, burdened by responsibility. Daemons see their annihilation, and go insane in his presence. One of the Knights, as they're marching through the Throne Room, is caught in religious rapture, unable to do anything but stare at the glorious halo of the Emperor of Mankind on the Golden Throne. One of the Sisters of Silence, in the same room, literally just sees a man in a chair. Another character, not Imperial, asks a Custodian if the Emperor even breathes. She believes he's a weapon left out of its box from the Dark Age of Technology. (With thanks to Alan Bligh for that one, he adores that theory.) So I don't think it's exactly a spoiler to say that if and when I get to write a character like Sanguinius in the Emperor's presence, or Malcador, they'd have entirely different experiences than Ra and Land. I'd loved to have had that in TMoM, but as much as it would've given wider context, these aren't rulebooks and essays; it would've been self-indulgent for the sake of 'hoping people get it', and cheapened the story being told, which was ultimately in a very narrow and confined set of circumstances. Breaking out of that narrative would be offering a sense of scope and freedom I was specifically trying to avoid in a claustrophobic siege story. Because theme and atmosphere is a thing.
tl;dr: Everyone whom speaks to the Emperor hears something different so nothing he says should be taken at face value.
Worship of the Emperor
- "Did Horus not say that you sought godhood? He built a rebellion upon that claim. How he would gloat, to see the Imperium now"
- - Roboute Guilliman
The Imperium advocates worship the Emperor as the one true God through the Imperial Creed. This creed is propagated and its adherence is enforced by the Adeptus Ministorum and the Inquisition. All citizens and fighters of the Imperium have little-to-no say about their choice in faith (or lack thereof); they must worship the Emperor through the various Ministorum-approved faiths throughout the galaxy (due to varying cultures, many planets have their own way of worshiping the Emperor. Although these are heavily regulated by the Ministorum to weed out any heretical influences.), there is no middle road or compromise that doesn't involve the apostate being on the receiving end of a state-sponsored public lynching. Anyone who defies or deviates from the teachings of the Imperial Creed (or even is just perceived to defy it), whether willingly or unwillingly (after all, incompetence is inexcusable in the eyes of the Emperor), is condemned as a heretic and is executed (whether its going to be fast or excruciatingly slow is dependent on the person judging the condemned). Even if someone hasn't disobeyed the Imperial Creed but is deemed to have will be treated as if they broke the Creed. Forgiveness for one's sins is possible, although these cases are exorbitantly rare (at least the ones that doesn't end with the accused being condemned to a glorious death, and it usually is extremely painful.). It doesn't help that some of the members of the Ecclesiarchy and Inquisition are so batshit insane that they are killing countless innocent followers of the Imperial Creed for no reason.
Now, the only reason the Imperium worships the Emperor is that after His fight with Horus and His internment into the Golden Throne, they pretty much forgot what the Emperor taught them when He preached the Imperial Truth. Ol' Empy did not actually tell anyone of the Chaos Gods, withholding the information even from the Primarchs in hopes of protecting them from corruption by hoping that ignorance is bliss. Unfortunately, this became part of why the Horus Heresy happened in the first place. Some saw that the Emperor lied to them by holding the truth hidden, some did not know how to handle the temptation the Gods conveyed, some did not even know that they were manipulated all this time and by whom, some would try to seek out something to place their faith upon, not realizing what would needed to be done to become chosen in the eyes of the Gods. Plus, it's pretty damn hard to fight against something if you don't know that it exists. The Horus Heresy novels also mentioned the Interex, another atheist empire who understood that threat of Chaos, but treated that information secularly and scientifically: they told every citizen everything that was known about "Kaos", and thus resisted the taint altogether (which basically shows how ineffective the Imperial Truth really was and how much the Emperor has screwed up.)
In the Emperor's long game, he knew that humanity was evolving into a psychic species with even more potential than the Eldar, and look what happened to them? E-money wanted mankind to be a utopia of science and reason, by eliminating religion (and thus preventing the temptations of daemons), controlling psykers (and thus preventing random daemonic possessions), and eliminating warp travel by creating the Human Webway (and thus eliminating all human contact with Chaos when traveling through the Warp). He wanted to isolate humanity from the Chaos Gods, cause who gives a shit about the Ruinous Powers if they're stuck in the Warp with no way of getting out?
Regarding the religion angle: the Emperor very much realized that Chaos runs off emotion, all everyday emotion, and not just worship; the stronger the emotions, the stronger the Gods get, and the stronger the Gods get, the easier it is to corrupt others. The problem with religion is that it allows too many avenues for Daemons to exploit: a whisper here and a miracle there, then you get people praying to them without even realizing it, then shortly afterwards you get a planet turned inside out by daemons. His plan was not to starve the chaos gods of sustenance and ultimately defeat them, he knew it was impossible, his plan was just to prevent them from touching humanity ever again.
However, He made a critical mistake in disregarding the human need to believe in something greater than oneself, and despite His best efforts, nothing was enough to fill the place of religion in human society. Ironically, the best solution would be not to suppress faith but to redirect it towards something else, but because of his natural awesomeness, unmatched psychic powers and enigmatic nature, that "something else" ended up being the Emperor himself. After He went off being the most powerful psychic cucumber in the universe, and lost direct control of the Imperium, belief in Him sort of helped the Imperium stand together against all odds, even if it basically dropped 99.9% of humanity's IQ in the process. With the Warp being what it is, the act of worshiping the Emperor supercharged His power in the Immaterium to the point of being truly godlike, even while His body is still stuck in it's current physical state of near-death. The Imperium's faith in the Emperor is basically their biggest anchor of bravery and perseverance in a universe where humanity is constantly beset by:
- Unimaginably massive swarms of voracious space locust who exist only to feed and multiply it's biomass...
- Older-than-Chaos-itself zombie-terminator robots set on culling all life from the galaxy...
- Diabolical celestial beings literally as old as the stars, whose single desire is harvesting all living souls...
- A race of nigh-unkillable barbarians, genetically engineered to have pastimes, ambitions, job skills, and dreams only be about rip and tear...
- Technologically superior space communists wanting to assimilate everyone in their quasi heirarchical-Communist empire and who take after Billy Mays...
- Humanoid wingless bird men cannibals who absorb traits from what they eat
- Humanoid insects with claws capable of ripping through the toughest armour
- Snooty and uncaring space elves that can read minds and who eat, sleep, and to have Heterosexual Sex in the Missionary Position in planet-sized battle cruisers...
- Psychotic, hedonistic space elves who routinely torture others to the point of death for sheer amusement before grinding their remains into refined cocaine...
- Fanatical zealots that knowingly devote themselves to all that is insane...
- Nightmare horrors made real who will rape and eat, usually simultaneously, any sentient being they get their goat-hooves on...
- Deformed, demented traitors clad in power armor and aided by the evilest forms of weaponry and sorcery ever conceived...
- Homicidal alien, lizard, insect, cyborg type monster-pirates that horribly kill you for fun (and who may be the puppets of an older and even more malignant civilization)...
- Giant Swarms of Worms in cloaks who might be older than The Old Ones who are more sadistic that the Dark Eldar and More Manipulative than regular Eldar and Feed on Humans in the Most Disgusting and Painful way imaginable (Hint it Involves Maggots.)...
- Massive insectoid hive mind filled to the brim with heavy firepower and has a slow but growing empire that is one of the largest in the galaxy, dwarfing the Tau several hundred times over and is seen as the next successor of galactic domination after humanities potential fall...
- Humanoid Rats that cause anything thing, living or not, to rapidly decay through touch...
- Malignant, omnipotent intelligence from beyond the cosmos, exerting all the power at their disposal to prevent any faction from breaking the stalemate or upsetting the dreadful status quo...
- And fuck knows who the guy in the cardboard box is...
Without their faith in the Emperor after His internment into the Golden Throne, the fragments of the Imperium would have fought against each other again like in the pre-Great Crusade days and subsequently devolved into what they were before the Emperor revealed Himself. So yes, much like IRL religion, it gives them hope and courage to fight on and survive in a universe that leaves the grimdark faucet running everyday and night.
It's worth noting that good ol' Empy wouldn't have had nearly as much of a problem with all this unwanted worship if He hadn't, just as a quick example, insisted on wearing horrifyingly ornate solid gold armour and a big glowy halo at all times. Or on carrying a flaming sword of righteousness. Or on building continent-sized monuments to His vanity. Or on decking all His personal troops and favored genetic experiments in as much bling as they could possibly carry. Or on being eleven fucking feet tall. Or on creating a functional pantheon of genetically engineered demigods, one of whom looked like and was referred to as a literal Angel. If you look like space-Jesus and act like space-Jesus, people are going to take those observations to their extreme conclusions, like what Lorgar did when he wrote the Lectitio Divinitatus, which can be summarized as "Ordinary men can't blow up suns and carry big glowy halos at all times, only a God can, therefore the Emprah is God." This is made even more relevant given that the fluff very strongly implies that the Emperor was Jesus.
That said, to Games Workshop's credit His being buttfucked by His own hubris and disregard for the humanity He claimed to be guiding in this manner was probably intentional as a classic tale of Greek Tragedy.
The possible death of the Emperor
With the Golden Throne being consistently worn out, and the Tech-priests too power-armor-on-head rebooted to do anything about it, it is certainly possible that the Emperor may die one day, which will obviously result in all of the Imperial worlds and factions to cry tears of disappointment and subsequently devolve into chaos (maybe even with a capital "C"). There are however, 3 possible outcomes of what can happen if the Emperor eventually dies:
Conventional wisdom and the Eldar, says that in the event that the Emperor dies, a new Eye of Terror will be created with Terra at it's center, plunging Holy Terra and all nearby planets/systems(?) into the Warp. The current main rulebook says that all of reality will be plunged into the warp if the Emperor dies. Even the Ecclesiarchy agrees that if the Emperor were ever to die, humanity would be FUCKED at the barest minimum.
This is supported by the fact that the Golden Throne (itself a portal to the Webway) was broken by Magnus, causing a warp tear to open on Terra, which the Emperor has had to spend every second for the last 10,000 years concentrating on to keep from getting any bigger (while the Adeptus Custodes have spent the same amount of time chopping up daemons that slip through the crack). They will not be able to stop a full daemonic invasion if the rift would open fully.
Additionally, a new Chaos God could be created (just like with the Eye of Terror and the Eldar), which will most certainly be a God of all the Grimdarkness in the galaxy, ensuring that it would eclipse all of the powers of the other Gods, as the Emperor would finally be the God of all. This is especially true, since nearly everything that is grimdark stems from Chaos and the entire WH40K setting is itself a massive pile of it... That or Malal would burst back into existence, which does have some possibility of happening, since Malal was/is the Chaos god of Atheism, which was the "truth"-part of the Emperor's "Imperial Truth" doctrine.
Some also fear that a fifth Chaos God's presence would just crush reality by merging the Materium (reality) and the Warp into a singular dimension. But that's unlikely, since the birth of the latest Chaos God, Slaanesh, did not destroy reality and he/she/it/xe was fueled by the near extinction of a race far more psychically powerful than humanity. On the other hand, Slaanesh was forced to battle Khorne and most of the Eldar Gods during it's first birth moments. That would not be the case if the 5th Chaos God would be born.
No, not the Doctor Who kind. The Horus Heresy novel 'Vulkan Lives', heavily implies that the Emperor is a Perpetual, just like John Grammaticus, Vulkan, Oll Persson, Alivia Sureka and Anval Thawn, all of who were able to survive multiple deaths that completely obliterated their bodies in the process. So all He simply needs to do is for his current material body to die normally, and wait a couple of hours/days and He'd be reborn again (in the "get up off the ground and dust Himself off" sense (Though one has to wonder why the Emperor would have had Himself interred in the Golden Throne in the first place if He thought He'd heal. Probably to power the Astronomican?)). All of this is still speculation (duh). Vulkan, for instance, was driven mad by the torturous experiences he had endured thanks to Night Haunter, and they were child's play, compared to sitting in unthinkable agony, unable to move or speak for ten thousand years while feeling Himself rotting away. And don't you forget that nose itch. However, a more commonly held belief is that He will get up, re-establish the Imperial Truth, and just be a cool guy.
In fact, a whole faction of the Inquisition: Thorianism exists to investigate this possibility; looking for possible signs that the Emperor's consciousness can be transferred elsewhere, allowing Him to walk among his children once more. (That said, they don't know about the existence of Perpetuals and would rather look for a new body to place the Emperor's soul into.) That being said: This may be the best option if they can keep the Emperor powering the Astronomican with one body while having his mind in a different body wandering around.
Opponents to Thorianism generally see that encouraging this is a terrible idea, as having the Emperor rise in a physical form would only cause a schism in the Imperium, as many people would not believe it to be true, having been ruled and brainwashed by the Ecclesiarchy over thousands of years, which would lead to another major civil war.
But think about it: when Malcador took up the Throne so that the Emperor could fight Horus, the device consumed his vitality; and Malcador was not as blessed as the Emps with regen abilities to recover. Now imagine a weakened, crippled being, who's top priority immediately after killing His son is to stop the Webway gate from spilling forth. You don't have time (and nor does the galaxy) to recover from your wounds. So you sit upon the Throne and it consumes you slowly from that point onwards. The chair is stopping any sort of healing factor.
The Star Child
Although years of GW-marketing and fluff "upgrades" have made the third claim rather dubious, many fa/tg/uys and optimists still hold out on the theory stating that when the Emperor screwed Horus's soul to the wall, part of the Emperor's soul was also cast into the Warp. This Soul Fragment is called the Star Child, a god waiting to be reborn, or perhaps be reincarnated back into a human body (anyone call for one scout Mkvenner). If the remains of the Emperor were ever to die, the tiny spark of soul left in his body would re-unite with the greater whole within the Warp, and according to prophecy, for the four Chaos Gods into stalemate, while the races of the galaxy would be left to battle it out in one last great Ragnarök scenario (called the End Times).
This theory is tied closely to the Illuminati, a group of either supremely enlightened individuals or dangerous mutant heretics (depending on which side of the Inquisition you're on). The Illuminati plan to catch all of the Sensei and sacrifice them upon the Golden Throne at the moment of Emperor's death.
In a bizarre fusion of new and old fluff, it has been revealed that the Illuminati were a minor Tzeentch cult and the Sensei were effectively brainwashed soon-to-be sacrifices in an attempt to bring Tzeentch to the materium. Needless to say, they have been purged by the Inquisition. The fluff in the Jac Draco books revealed that the Ordo Hydra (a small splinter faction of the Illuminati who seek to turn humanity into a psychic hive-mind) is a Tzeentch cult, but that the general Illuminati population - including many Ordo Malleus Inquisitors and the Exorcists Chapter (as well as their unknown successor chapters) are genuinely incorruptible by Chaos and are freely permitted to access the Black Library along with Harlequin Solitaires. Ultimately, all this would be rendered irrelevant as the Inquisition Trilogy was retconned away. It's just like that frustrating moment you experience when you don't know if the Squats have been nommed by Tyranids or have never existed in the first place.
Beyond the Emperor
As stated in The Master of Mankind, the Emperor himself considers he already lost the game to save Mankind's from consuming itself into the Warp while attempting to give the evolutionary jump, with the loss of the Webway he seems to have concluded the only thing that remains is a long decline and there is nothing else to do but to wage an ever losing war. Or is it? The Emperor himself recognized He isn't omniscient, His foresight can't reach all.
During recent years the writers of Games Workshop have been hinting at a few facts, let us consider the following:
- The future is not absolutely written, and this comes from Chaos itself; even Tzeentch can't predict everything perfectly.
- The fall of the Imperium may be inevitable, mankind may live on. Given the sheer scope of the human exodus, it's perfectly likely that some remnant of the Dark Age of Technology has continued unchanged from its original height.
- The Cadian Pylons, while destroyed, were developed by beings that still exist. The fact the Necrons are still around opens the possibility that they may yet be capable of building replacements, and thanks to Trazyn we know they are capable of closing of warp storms. Oh, and it seems like Uncle Cawl is working on that.
- The Akashic Records truly exist and are somehow linked to Ark Mechanicus ships such as Speranza, this simple fact means all already existing knowledge is never lost forever, but merely incredibly hard to acquire.
- Creating humans immune to Chaos is a reality, both the Exorcists and the Grey Knights are evidence to this, and while the process is excruciatingly slow, highly prone to failure and prohibitive in resources it means Mankind can achieve through artificial means a sort of new evolutionary step.
- Not all Eldar died during the Fall, even if we are talking about 1 percent of the race it's still a great deal of individuals, and the fact they have managed to kick-start an anti-Chaos god is something no one, not even the Emperor managed to foresee. Eldrad has ultimately demonstrated there are other ways to fight Chaos.
- And thanks to Eldrad waking Ynnead up early (if only barely), Roboute Guilliman was awakened from stasis. Now he is preparing a new generation of Super Space Marines along with some awesome new gear to help take down chaos. Plus some of the other loyalist Primarchs are still out there, and there is a possibility that they could return to help lead the Imperium fight it's many enemies.
- And for that matter, Eldrad declared by the end of The War of The Beast that the futures of Mankind and the Eldar are irrevocably interlinked. Add to that the fact the necrons too have given the Imperium a hand a few times and you suddenly notice there are more parties than the Emperor interested in not letting the human race fall. Despite the Imperium's hatred of xenos, they may be mankind's best chance of survival.
- Nobody saw the Tyranids coming because they hadn't even noticed the Galaxy was inhabited until the whole mess with the Pharos device. Not the Chaos Gods, not the Emperor, not the Eldar (though Orikan saw them coming), and the Tyranids are both an outside context issue for the galaxy (being the only faction with galactic pull that is completely and unambiguously disconnected from the War in Heaven or the Horus Heresy that serves as everyone else's origin stories) ties and a wild card in the fate of the Galaxy.
- Finally, there is humanity itself. While He failed to take into account the fact that humanity is a mass of individuals rather than an abstraction, He also underestimated how this could work for good as well as evil. For every traitor and heretic, there is an equally devoted believer in the inherent goodness of mankind willing to stand against the Ruinous Powers, and it is on the individual level that the struggle between the Ruinous Powers and humanity is ultimately fought and decided upon.
- And one last thing, there is a chance that if the Emperor dies, he might just resurrect or incarnate (and Ynnead is still out there) so he might still have a second chance.
Yes, the Emperor failed to avoid mankind's inherent flaws to hinder His Great Work (ironically, because He was guilty of several of them as well), but He also failed to see a lot of the good things mankind can bring in. In yet another twist of irony, his incapability to predict us may even thwart his own prediction of humanity's doom.
Indeed, this is Warhammer 40,000, a cautionary tale about the End of Empires, but so was Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and, although we won't like the AoS-ification of the setting, there may still be more than just a complete failure for the future of Mankind and the Emperor.
Emperor Rule 63! NO EXCEPTIONS!
Not actually the God-Emperor; besides it is Heresy to believe that The Immortal God Emperor looks like Cher. *BLAM* HERESY!, no make that extra Hersey
Perhaps with a better armor design (or if he actually cared about him), The Big E might not have been late for all of Horus's after school soccer games and things might have turned out a lot differently.
The Emperor has just discovered Rule 34.
- The Imperium, for the empire he founded.
- Malcador the Sigillite, the Emperors best bro.
- The Primarchs, the Emperors "sons".
- Sigmar Unbroken, his Warhammer Fantasy Battles counterpart.
- Emperor's To-Do List
- This thread which makes the Emperor even cooler.
- A series on Youtube, it shows what would happen if the Emperor had a Text to Speech device.
- If the Emperor had a Text-to-Speech Device
- Heresy from the Emprah’s point of view
- His reaction to the "God Emperor Trump" forced meme"