The God-Emperor of Mankind

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"I have come to eradicate Religion as it is the bane of Man, warped in superstition, ignorance and fear!"
– The Emperor before the Treason of Horus, while dressed in gold, surrounded by a halo of light, brandishing a giant flaming sword and calling his soldiers his "angels of death"
Conquering the galaxy is one thing, but He was so powerful He never once stopped looking fabulous while doing it. At least until the whole 'Horus' thing, anyway. *BLAM*

"Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please."

– Niccoló Machiavelli

"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 Emperor battles daily with forces beyond understanding, yet you expect him to retain a mortal sympathy? He walks the paths of eternity; be thankful he is able to converse with you at all."

– Malcador to Jaghatai Khan on why Big-E tends to be so inscrutable. Not an unreasonable point, frankly, but really sucks when it's about your dad.

His Imperial Majesty the Immortal God Man-Emperor, Master of Mankind is the figurehead of the Imperium of Man in the Warhammer 40k universe and has been enthroned on (or rather in) a life-sustaining device known as the Golden Throne for the last ten millennia. He is nigh-on unable to communicate or influence things directly, so day-to-day ruling is done without (and too often in spite of) Him. He is the only sustaining hope for Humanity as faith in him is the only way humans can counter the insidious whispers of Ruin, and the treacherous ways of the Xenos. Furthermore, He powers humanity's only means for safe Faster than Light Travel through the Astronomican.

The Administratum He ordered to be 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 treason and heresy, typically punished by euthanasia (at least in the material realm). He created the 20 Primarchs, who viewed him as their father. However, this has been complicated thanks to a lot of retcons, with some of the more notorious instances saying he saw them more as tools, sometimes referring to them by number, rather than by name (albeit usually while speaking to his aloof bodyguards or with senior-level members of a faction of cog-worshipping tech nerds who value the excision of emotion and venerate him as an aspect of their god). Yet when speaking to his right-hand man, or the chief of his bodyguards, or a handful of other confidants, he does refer to them as his sons and by name. Furthermore, more recent fluff even saw him declare this to the Chaos Gods themselves during the Siege of Terra. The release of the first volume of the final book in the Siege Of Terra series, The End And The Death Volume 1, pretty solidly puts the kibosh on any notion that Big-E did not love the Primarchs or view them as his sons, and without wishing to spoil, it actually gives a decent and straightforward, if somewhat banal explanation as to why he could sometimes be distant.

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. Possibly into fishing.

The Entire History of the Emprah[edit]

Early life[edit]

Big-E gets all the bitches.

The Emperor is a powerful psyker and (heavily implied to be) (Confirmed by GW) a Perpetual; an immortal 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, possibly in Göbekli Tepe. His appearance was unassuming. From his own account, his path towards greatness was spurred on when his uncle murdered his father so kid-Emps did the responsible thing and gave his uncle a myocardial infarction, or as it's known on the street, a "fucking massive heart attack". 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. Considering that the Imperium's two-headed symbol was used by Hittites, Games Workshop, for all its flaws and pricing policies, can be given credit for doing its history homework. After that, he headed to the first cities of mankind in Sumeria to guide the start of human civilization.

Neoth and Erda back in the ancient days of Chaldea, it all makes so much sense now.

According to Saturnine, one of the Emperor's earliest names was Neoth, in the time shortly after leaving His home and tribe. In the "time of the First Cities" Neoth had become a warlord and king. There He met Erda, a perpetual like Himself, who became one of His closest companions throughout history, by His side up until she caused the Scattering of the Primarchs (so is this a retcon from the story portrayed in "The First Heretic"). Neoth and Erda, father and mother of Primarchs... which begs the question why not all Primarchs were born as perpetuals, considering that both "mother" and "father" were (perhaps it's got to do with dominant and recessive alleles? Like when two brown-eyed parents produce a blue-eyed baby?).

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. On the other hand, they also wouldn't have had the memories and soul-stuff of all those shamans telling them what to do. (This theory would go a long way to explaining the seemingly contradictory behaviors of the Emperor - all those shamans have disagreements and Big-E has to listen to it all. It's similar to the concept of Abominations in Dune: pre-born children with prescient powers due to being born to a melange ingesting mother - they can access all their genetic ancestors' memories but risk being driven insane without the learned discipline of an adult unless they're like Emperor Leto Atreides or his sister.) That, and how Erda commented that while each Perpetual was immortal and had special abilities, everyone considered the Emperor's powers to be on a completely different scale. The Chaos Gods apparently view the Emperor as an equal/rival due to beating them at warp poker to steal the power he needed to create the Primarchs (so he would not need to use his own)(see below) and name him Anathema. Yet other fluff titbits (including a C'Tan who dismissively described him as a "weapon" rather than a God) imply that he is some sort of flesh-construct from the Dark Age of Technology run amok and aping human affectation (similar to the Eldar's Gods originating as warp constructed weapons made by the Eldar under the guidance of the Old Ones during the War in Heaven).

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 Written Law), Alexander the Great (the most fabulous conqueror in all of History, with the philosopher Aristotle as his teacher), Julius Caesar (guess why the Imperium spoke Latin), Jesus (as demonstration of his supernatural God-like status and abilities and His sacrifice of 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, 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) and HE-MAN.

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. Just remember to take stuff with a grain of salt, since, you know.

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.

Unification Wars[edit]

"‘You…’ repeated Uriah, the pain in his bones no match for the pain in his heart. ‘You are the… the… Emperor…’ ‘I am, and it is time to go, Uriah,’ said the Emperor. Uriah looked around at his now gleaming and brightly lit church. ‘Go? Go where? There is nowhere else for me in this godless world of yours.’"

The Last Church

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 (the predecessors to) Space Marines). Using the classic "join-me-or-die" strategy, he managed to conquer the entirety of Terra during the event called Unification Wars. He also created sort of proto-primarch called the Angel with the warriors to seal the Daemon Prince Pharaa'gueotla, who had been pulling strings wrecking Terra since prehistoric times. The Angel was also sealed off being an extremist. Then He made contact with Luna and the Mechanicum of Mars. When dealing with Mars, He called Himself the Omnissiah and convinced them to build Him weapons and space-ships. Around this time, He also created a useful philosophy, 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 Emps' lifetime. Simply put, the whole "Peace, Love, and Religion" mumbo-jumbo never worked before and now must be eradicated, ignoring or forgetting what happened to real-life societies that tried to throw faith and religion under the bus without molding the society towards abandoning religion willingly. He constructed this philosophy because he believed that belief in such things was feeding the Powers; it turns out he had it backwards, and that such belief, being dedicated specifically to something other than said gods, was in fact starving them. Since Neoth is now a bona fide Warp entity in his own right, he has very likely realized his mistake. But religion isn't a universal truth anywhere, neither in 40k or real life. No need to get deep, but religion is as only real as you think it is: are they gods because they call themselves gods, or are they extradimensional consciousnesses of such mind-bending scope as to be beyond accurate understanding?

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 well well well, considering what they did to the other setting no one here is gonna miss them any time soon. According to the Horus Heresy books that mention the Unification Wars, He burned down a lot of things on a partially recovering Terra.

Great Crusade[edit]

Now that he was in control the Emperor had a relatively short to-do list: he wanted to 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; and most importantly, prevent another calamity like the Age of Strife or the Fall of the Eldar.

In order to achieve this He had to shelter and protect humanity from the fell hand of Chaos, reclaim every single human inhabited world, spacecraft or station, and eliminate anyone who threatened his vision of humanity in any way.

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 supposedly acquired from the Chaos Gods (Or so the treacherous space cancers claim, though since the Chaos Gods view all the energy of the Warp as their property, they're probably just pissed that Big-E yoinked about 20 daemon princes' worth of soulstuff without the proper rituals) 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 that sink in: each primarch is basically a unique quasi-daemonic (angelic?) soul bound to a super awesomely tough material body.

Each of these 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 shield (somehow) and 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.

It was a good plan for building an intergalactic empire. But the Imperium was only one half of the Plan; the other was the Webway, allowing nigh-instantaneous travel and communication and limiting Mankind's reliance on the warp to almost nothing in the form of Warp travel, thus protecting them against the influence of Chaos. This would also allow Mankind to evolve in relative safety and security under the direct guidance and control of the Emperor. When Mankind was 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 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.

Unfortunately things went off to a rocky start before he even began: since the Primarch's power was apparently stolen, The Big Four would inevitably and continually be pissed at Him for using their power for His own ends, so they 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. Conversely, most recent fluff from the novel Saturnine brings another female perpetual by the name of Erda into play in the creation of the primarchs (because like any biological being a human requires a father and a mother). She also claims to have been involved in the scattering of the primarchs. Whether that is a retcon from the previously canon time travel hacks described in "The First Heretic" is not entirely clear. Erda says she allowed the Chaos Gods to snatch the baby primarchs so each could forge their own destinies, as if the story was not confusing enough already. Either way, luckily for the Emperor, some genetic samples were 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.

As He found each Primarch, He assigned them command of their respective Legions 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 may have been 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 rebelled 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. Something seems to have gone wrong though, as the Golden Throne didn't manage to do its job and the Emperor managed to die sometime between the Horus Heresy and M41, although whatever's left of him still sticks around his corpse (quite a feat since he is a confirmed perpetual, so no matter how dead he may look he certainly still is alive after a fashion). (Are we sure on this last point? Indomitus confirms he never died, and that’s hardly a retcon since there doesn’t seem to be evidence to the contrary).

"Modern" Day[edit]

Ten 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 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".

In the last year of M41, tech-priests discovered that the Golden Throne is failing and if nothing was done... presumably the Emperor would be deader? In any case nobody wants to find out! As the Golden Throne is breaking apart the Mechanicus and certain elements at the top of the Imperium try 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. The cheeky psycho doctor had absolutely no intention of repairing the thing but wanted to instead marvel upon the largest and greatest psychic pain machine ever constructed, one that made even a Haemonculus stand in utter awe, and look the cadaver buried within right in the eye sockets before both it and the machine ultimately died.

Spoiler.gifThis article contains spoilers! You have been warned.

"This is a warning. The warp and the materium were once in balance. For too long, you have tipped the scales. Understand that it is not only the warp that is capable of pushing back. This realm is not real. Only will is real. And none may outmatch my will.."

– The Emperor is done being subtle or open to maybe-maybe-not.

However, with the introduction of Godblight, several nuclear-sized bombshells was dropped. Turns out, the massive vaginal axe wound originally created as Chaos' biggest victory during the fall of Cadia was changed into being an Imperial victory in the end. With the barrier between the Warp and Realspace further weakening, it created a psychic boost to the Empra's power a thousand fold. Oh yeah, and the worship of trillions being supercharged because of the Great Rift is making E-Money actually physically move. Holy shit boys! IT'S HAPPENING! We're in the endgame now!

Anyways, other bombshells include Golden Big Dick Energy suggesting that the Daemon Primarchs could still be redeemed, which kind of kicks Chaos corruption in the dick. Moreover, there is also the fact that the Emperor kicked Grandpappy Nurgle in his STD-ridden nuts where he possessed a dying Grandpa Smurf during the Plague Wars on Iax and set the whole fucking Garden of Nurgle on holy fire, thereby wounding Nurgle and kicking the Chaos Gods several levels down the curb.

As you can imagine, though well-received by many, and especially by Imperium fans, this revelation did not go well with fans of Chaos, as the perceived nerfing of Chaos being the main threat and Big-E literally giving Papa Smurf Plot armor was a tad-bit too much.

Alternatively, rather than a nerfing of the Ruinous Powers, it could just as easily be argued to be a display of the might of the gods of the Warp other than those of Chaos which has been said to be growing of late, in this case, a demonstration of Big-E's increase in power, in particular.

Furthermore, Godblight is far from the first contemporary novel to establish that the power of the Emperor has been growing, but while previously it had been only hinted at, or shown as more minor asides, this is just the first time an overt, overwhelming display was made. It therefore stands to reason that such a powerful blow would be unleashed by Big-E, as this has been building up consistently for years (in and out of universe), and has been a long time coming both thematically and narratively, so take that as you will. Moreover, lest any Chaos fans forget, the ruinous powers regarded the Emperor as an existential threat before the Horus Heresy and feared his power and intentions even then; so much so that they even agreed to work together to fight him. Chaos, pretty much by definition HATES working together, and The Four hate each other to a ludicrous degree and typically wish for nothing more than the demise of each other. A group like that doesn't work together unless there is absolutely no other choice. That was before Big-E became a god, and it's not as though he's gotten weaker in the 10,000 years since.

On top of this, it can be argued that Chaos hasn't been nerfed at all. Nurgle, who had held reign in ten thousand years of stasis, is now returning to a lower place as a great change has come. Tzeentch, Khorne and Slaanesh are certainly stronger than ever. The difference now is that The Emperor has become powerful enough to hit back at the Chaos Gods hard enough to inflict truly substantive damage. Whether or not that will actually occur remains to be seen however, especially as the Chief Deity would never let one side truly gain the upper hand, for fear of something interesting happening, but with the field levelled now, the potential to do so exists.

Oh, he might be frequently psychically communicating to this random psyker on Atoma Prime that was abruptly rescued and recruited into an Inquisitor's warband as they go on missions to fight to cleanse and retake the world, according to Warhammer 40K: Darktide...but that psyker's probably just crazy/has daemons talking to them...probably... Then again, some of the tidbits the psyker(s) get are awfully nuanced and insightful (not to mention fucking funny), so probably beyond the repertoire of what a daemon might say, especially about Big-E.

The State of His Gear[edit]

Of course, since the Big-E has been chairbound for millennia now, His gear had also been left in various states of repair and with the return of multiple Primarchs, it leaves one to question their states.

  • Armour: Likely damaged and disassembled in some state, since various things from the Crux Terminatus of every suit of Terminator armor to certain Sororitas relics all claim to house shards of the Emperor's armor. There's no clue how much of it still remains, or how possible it would be to repair it to any state of functionality without Him.
  • The Burning Blade: Showed up as a relic in the 6E and 7E Marines Codex, but eventually would be bequeathed to Guilliman after he returned to Terra for his heart-to-heart with Daddy.
  • The Emperor's Shield: While we have no clue when he used one, if he ever did, it managed to end up in Mirror-Caliban, where it was discovered by the Lion as part of his recovery quest before returning to the Imperium.
  • The Emperor's Talon: Uncertain. Ideally, Corax might have it, but we have no clue for sure.

The Emprah Himself[edit]

A typical father-and-son chat between Empy and Horus.

"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.

"I'm here to conquer the galaxy and raise children, and I'm all out of fathering skills"

– Montu Plays

"I am no God, nor shall ever be. You cannot condemn me, I am punished enough. How dare you presume to understand what I have done, and what sacrifices I have made, and what I now must suffer. You will never know the depths of my pain, for which I am...grateful."

– The Emperor (maybe) to Konrad Curze

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.

It is common knowledge that the Emperor is the most powerful psyker alive around, humbling even the Eldar. The Emperor is said to be so powerful that He could destroy suns with ease, though He has never actually done so (However, he 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 "The Anathema", as in the polar opposite to Chaos. Their fear of him cannot be overstated: during a discussion between Ku'Gath and Mortarion, you'd think Ku'Gath was referencing Morgoth. The idea of his gathering strength terrified Ku'Gath to the point he feels they're dead if he's active and won't even say his name; whatever Emps is, Chaos is THAT scared of him. 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.

It is also suggested that He has guided humanity in a guise of people like Julius Caesar, Conan the Barbarian, Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee, Tommy Wiseau, Keanu Reeves, and Jesus.

Overall the Emperor has always had a strong desire to protect and shepherd humanity, even if his methods are a bit... unorthodox. His desire to guide and protect humanity in addition to his power and foresight 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 at the time 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), originally loved the Primarchs as his sons (and then retconned into a confusing mess suggesting he cares little for the Primarchs being His actual sons. In "The Outcast Dead" he even implies that he sacrificed Ferrus Manus because he knew he could not win the war and that the most he could hope for was a stalemate, i.e. prevent Chaos from winning. However, this theme has varied greatly from novel to novel and is hard to pin down), 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".

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, after greeting a join-or-die overture by the Word Bearers with gunfire), 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 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 brothers 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 since his goal was for humanity to be governed by humanity (as he clearly said to Lorgar in "The First Heretic", "This is not my Imperium, it is humanitys". Primarchs like say, Guilliman, though perfect as administrators, were better suited and needed as generals for the Great Crusade. Stil the whole theory that the Emperor wanted to dispose of the Primarchs once they ceased being useful is utter horseshit, for why would he have created living rooms for all of his sons in the Emperor's palace? And why create 20, functionally immortal tools if he had no plans for them following the crusade? Either way, 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 (no matter how bad that idea played out in practice).

After Big-E was nearly killed by his favourite son / tool, He was placed upon the Golden Throne and hasn't moved for the past 10 millennia, presumably because he later died (why he hasn't come back to life despite being a perpetual is a highly debated topic). Most of the fluff maintains that His mere existence since then has been 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 sit there and remain dead. Oh no, it's exactly the opposite and death's not the handicap it used to be, because it gives Him a fuckton of work to do. 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?).

That being said, his love of humanity doesn't exactly extend to his sons. In older lore it did; however, in the retconned lore the Emperor himself states to Arkhan Land (the guy who discovered Land's 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, "Y'all 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. There must have been a reason why he prevented Vulkan from going completely batshit insane when he was killed over and over by his brother Konrad Kurze after all... but to say it in Guilliman's own words (from memory) "our father never loved us, but he certainly does love humanity". Also Guilliman reflects that Big-E could not have afforded deep affection for any of his sons, so let's see how the final confrontation between Horus on roid rage and Big-E will play out in the end - as in older fluff Big-E held back because he couldn't bring it upon himself to snuff out his most favoured son (and it did not read as in "my most favoured screwdriver" kind of way). But in the end, despite being the most powerful psyker to have ever lived he may still have been "human" after all, and every living being has emotions. So maybe his biggest "flaw" (if you want to call it such) may have been that he might not have been able to separate himself from his sons (err I mean toolbox) as he would have hoped for.

  • 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 inconsistent 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 noted in "Valdor: Birth of the Imperium" by Cris Wraight, it was noted by Valdor and Malcador that they were both surprised by the Emperor referring to the Primarchs, his planned generals, as sons. Valdor noted that the Emperor's emotions "are ebbing still" with Malcador saying all three predicted this and that victory had a price.
  • However, in Laurie Goulding's audiobook: Malcador First Lord of the Imperium; Malcador pretty much spells out exactly the same thing, saying that the primarchs were designed to be "conqueror's tools and nothing more", and had been manipulated into conflict with each other from the very start so that they would eventually destroy each other and pave the way for a "human" civilisation, rather than a "transhuman" one and that the Horus Heresy was always part of the plan. He does later have a minor breakdown and admit that he was forced to lie though, but is not clear on what elements. As a result, it is entirely possible (and in fact more likely) that there was no such plan to have the Primarchs destroy each other and that Malcador was merely trying to hide the fact that things had gone off the rails. This is confirmed in The Board Is Set short story by Gav Thorpe, which seemingly reconfirms Malcador's admission as the the Big-E and His bestie play a game of cards with each Primarch represented (heavily implied). In such a game, Mal takes the role of "Warmaster" (symbolically representing Chaos) whilst Big-E played the position of the "Emperor". The two play out the entire events of the Horus Heresy and even hypothetical scenarios had they played each Primarch differently against the others, though they still get caught off guard from time to time as the rules change unexpectedly. Though Malcador only belated understands that considering this was a symbolic game of "what if?" rather than simply a means of devising strategy. So, while Emps and Mal were partly responsible for the current state of everything; if Malcador's "lie" was that it was all planned and that everything was under control, then the truth would be an acknowledgement that their opponents (the Chaos Gods) actually existed which was something they had been denying for centuries. Now they were backed into a corner and desperately scrambling to find a solution that didn't fuck everything.

While interred on the Golden Throne, the Emperor's psychic-essence prevents daemonkind from directly assailing Terra through the broken remains of the Imperial Webway (in the form of a golden sun), while additionally sustaining and managing the psychic-beacon known as the Astronomican, that makes warp travel within 50,000 light years around Terra possible.

An interesting theory is that if Emps was born of a group of psykers combining their might and souls in one ritual act then maybe Empy has gained all human souls 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).

A question that remained unanswered for a long time is that, is the above thing the only thing he is capable of doing these days? Or can he communicate with others? In the past few supplicants were allowed an audience with the Emperor though the fluff's always been iffy on whether or not they talked, or if it was more a spiritual visit to a shrine. The recent advance in the timeline revealed that the newly revived Guilliman had an audience with him for a whole day in which they did talk (and he still seems to have some sort of connection to the Custodes), so yes, he can. But then, what is he waiting for before waking the sleepy beauty up? It could be that he literally couldn't talk to anyone before that, considering that even Guilliman shuddered at the thought of the mental sandblasting that was speaking with the Emperor. It's possible the same communion might destroy a mortal, or kill the comatose Lion by accident. Perhaps the only thing stopping the Emperor from direct governance of the Imperium is his psychic voice delivering the equivalent of an Ordinatus blast every time he uses it, so he cannot chastise the incompetence of the High Lords for fear of killing them outright.

Speaking of talking to him, when Roboute was revived from stasis and finally got to Terra to talk to dad, Roboute noted the Emperor regarded him with the interest one would regard a tool. He also reflects on how he 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. However, following the Plague Wars Guilliman has considered the possibility that his ascension may have been a plan B for humanity following the failure of the Imperial Truth, and both Mortarion and Ku'Gath believe the Emperor is gathering energy to create what they call an "Unliving Legion".

"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

In contrast to the above quote, the Emperor (and the Imperium as a byproduct) fucking hates aliens, though not without reason. 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, or possessed a planet influenced human culture at all). Ever since His ascension, the Imperium mostly 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 possess 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 bear 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 later 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 was 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 off as the Emperor... and 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.

On His Strengths and Flaws[edit]

The Emperor was a firm believer that the ends justified the means and was a hardline utilitarian, but He was also a man whose vision was so long-sighted, so singular, that literally no one else around Him could comprehend either His motives, His lack of patience, His ambition, or His lack of tolerance; even those who had stuck with Him throughout the millennia saw him as being (rather ironically) inhuman. His own son, His closest and most cared for progeny, the Primarch Horus Lupercal, ends up rebelling because of this destructive character flaw that constantly shows up.

  • 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 may 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, how its colossal military forces would be scaled down, or how such a feat could even be achieved. Though there were signs that change was in the air as the Emperor quit the Great Crusade and the Council of Terra was formed to officially begin transition of the Imperium from its permanent war footing to a civilian government. Recent lore has made it clear that Emps and Malcador wanted to rehabilitate all the Primarchs and the legions for peacetime, but that would clearly be easier for some than others. A likely outcome would've been a gradual drawing down of forces during the final stages of the conquest of the Webway, by simply reducing recruitment and using remaining forces to clean up isolated threats such as the occasional Ork WAAAGH or human rebellion, which is exactly what happened in the years between the Scouring and the War of the Beast.
  • 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 are also infinitely individualized. In His mind, He alone knew what was good for humanity's survival and anything short of total submission to the Imperium was grounds for destruction. In effect, all his efforts were performed in the name of an abstraction that arguably never existed in the first place. To His credit, a great many of His predictions did come to pass, and arguably when the man set His mind to a task, He got it done no matter what, but He failed to take into account that the species He so loves cannot see the future like He sees it. So that even if He was right, assuming His foresight was impeccable (and it wasn't), He's an immortal being with infinite knowledge making plans for very flawed short-sighted mortals who each act independently and have very different ideas from him about what they actually want in life. That's always going to be an impossible task to foolproof, and even if it was possible it would end up shackling people's needs, wants, and desires to a "collective good" with little to no connection to the people it allegedly represents.
  • He made a critical mistake in trying to erase religion. 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, and when your day-to-day existence is shit then religion becomes far more appealing than any sort of secular ideology. The Imperial Truth tried to do this, but was ultimately doomed to fail because it offered no comfort to people struggling just to survive (and for all the good things the Great Crusade did, that still described the vast majority of the Imperium's inhabitants). What good are abstract concepts like "reason", "logic", and "humanism" when you can't feed yourself or your family, when your world is obliterated and you now live in a slum, when you're liberated from alien oppressors only to be press-ganged into manual labor, when your existence is just as tiny and insignificant as it was before you became part of the Imperium, if not even more so? What good is secularism when the super soldiers who are supposed to defend you think of you as idiotic sheep? What good was the Imperial Truth when it failed to teach about the extra-dimensional alien entities that assume the form of old superstitions and wield so much power that they might as well be gods? The fact that the Imperial Cult took off so quickly after the Emperor's interment 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 life. The latter is more probable, as the Khan recounts scrambling to even converse with the Emperor and the Custodes have an internal school to try figure out out what exactly he meant in his orders and how it applies to the modern day. Yes, his Companions have what are basically rabbis Talmudically mulling over every syllable the Emperor ever uttered.
    • In either case, all the Imperial Truth 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, which left them and their Legions vulnerable to Chaotic corruption. 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 worshiping a belief only to have ol' Emps turn up and just say "No" without a word of explanation beyond "it's bad". To his credit, His strength here was that He pushed Mankind to embrace secularism hoping that not only would it combat Chaos, but that it would propel us forward with greater scientific endeavors and understanding...but the way he chose to do so was still ultimately based on a lie which blew up in his face the moment it turned out that gods and daemons were very real.
  • 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 a bit of 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. A stretch, but not a far-fetched one. Without a doubt, this could have been a very distant backup plan. However, it may be unlikely, as the Emperor admits to his Custodian Dio that he has no idea what to do anymore after the Webway Project fails.
    • 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 no psychic material could be replicated, produced or reinvented to fix, repair and expand the Webway. We'd like to hope that the Emperor would not have undertaken the Webway's conquest without a plan to unlock its secret. Ambitious plan is an understatement, ambitious but very very fragile and dangerously lacking in any kind of backup in case something went wrong. And it went very wrong, thanks to Magnus.
    • 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.
    • The humiliation of Lorgar was the ultimate catalyst for the Horus Heresy, and is probably the most colossal failure the Emperor has ever produced. This event is what showed the future "heretics" (and us) that when the Emperor says He isn't a god, you better believe it. Lorgar was so enthralled with his father and the religious extremism he was raised amongst that he not only worshipped him as a god, but made it his life's goal to convince others to do so as well. He built gleaming monuments and cities in His name. He brain-washed an entire legion to glorify their "perfect and benevolent" father. Suddenly, the Ultramarines descend and obliterate the greatest of Lorgar's cities and the Emperor himself forces Lorgar's entire legion to kneel before the invaders. The Emperor tells his most admiring son that he, alone of all his brothers, has failed. It would be as if God descended from the heavens, set Vatican City on fire, kicked the pope over, put out the fire by covering him in dog shit, and then told him to quit being such a fucking pussy. The main thing this incident says about Lorgar is that he's such a tough motherfucker that he didn't break down completely forever or kill himself upon the revelation that the most powerful and perfect being he can even imagine hates him personally. The Emperor took the leader of the most powerful religious organization in the galaxy, one that could have easily been one of the greatest forces for its unification, and kicked him straight into the hands of power-hungry sociopathic narcissists in his two closest "friends". However, the biggest irony is that the Ecclesiarchy used religion to battle Chaos for several millennia using the very book that Lorgar wrote and ultimately proved to be better at it than the so-called Imperial Truth. (Unless it really WAS a test as the Anchorite believes). What might be completely inexcusable was how someone as drenched in corruption like Kor Phaeron, or someone as darkly anointed as Erebus, could have escaped the Emperor's attention on Monarchia.
    • 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 just warping him away and earning Angron's undying hatred. Instead he could have earned Angron's undying love, furious loyalty and in the worst case, a martyr Primarch who'd die from the Nails and be gotten rid of. Was one fucked up dusty planet's short term compliance worth the whole shit roller coaster? We will never know. Why a man superman Primarch (god damn it!) who knew only killing (not even war, just murdering people because of the MURDER NAILS JAMMED IN HIS BRAIN), and is traumatized to ETERNALLY HATE HIS LORD should be controlling 100,000+ Space Marines is something only the Emperor and his divine ass can fathom. There's no strength here, the Emperor was simply a callous dick who treated the son that could've been the most empathic with a complete lack thereof for no good reason.
    • Fulgrim's road to damnation started because he decided to loot a Slaaneshi-possessed 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.
    • The Emperor, being the wisest and most powerful human psyker in the galaxy, 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 being comprised of sociopaths and criminals, one must really question his quality control. Or maybe he just totally relied on his large huge brain capacity to manage things, and simply dismissed things that couldn't fit in.
    • Even with the Webway fuck-up, Magnus might have remained a loyalist if the Emperor had him stationed on Terra along with Dorn. Why not bring the most crucial piece of the building project to the construction site to keep it safe? Instead, he brings a fortress builder home with Him, whilst He secludes Himself away to work on a project that Magnus was critical to achieving, all the while He was just confronted with evidence that said son was already teetering close to the same powers he was trying to defeat. Then he sends Russ to apprehend Magnus (the one Primarch who most wanted Magnus dead). And with the door already broken, he could have simply psy-phoned Magnus to clear it all up instead of jumping to conclusions. Then again, Magnus wouldn't even comply to his demand to stop practicing sorcery...
    • 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. Which in all fairness, wasn't wrong- if Ollanius Pius' experiences with the Emperor as his first Warmaster are any indication, it's not even the first time He's tried to pull off such a stunt.
    • He completely ignored 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 tools and less his children, in retrospect it was obvious that there was plenty of favoritism going on. Seriously, why can't the Big-E act like a spiritual psychiatrist for ONE FUCKING MOMENT?
    • 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 or the ideals that the Emperor represented (Guilliman and his Imperium Secundus come to mind here), by recognizing the other side as an even greater evil (like Jaghatai), or only because the Imperium is on the winning side (The Lion if Curze's trolling was true, which it probably isn't 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 the 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 *BLAM!* HERESY!, common 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 look forward on the endless road of the future, so 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 and his hatred of 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 Warriors 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 deathmatch. For example, he probably could see Angron and Curze eventually becoming unstable enough that they and their Legions 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 creator a flaw in his design. If it is true that he had always intended the Primarchs' rivalries to grow to the point that they would begin fighting each other, all of the above is even more damning since it means he had made them flawed on purpose and yet failed to see how Chaos would gladly exploit said flaws at the first opportunity it got.

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. Strangely, the final novel of the trilogy, Godblight, makes the whole thing even more confusing, as it's revealed Guilliman's meeting with the Emperor was what can only be described as fractally confusing in nature. You see, when referring to Guilliman, Emps uses all sort of descriptions, from "my son" "my last hope" to "betrayer" and "failure"- all in the same exchange, making it impossible to tell what, if anything, the Emperor actually feels towards him. In every single novel of the Horus Heresy we see E-Money seen differently through the eyes of different characters. To the Adeptus Mechanicus he acts like the epitome of passionless logic to the point of seeing his own offspring as disposable tools. A similar thing happens with the Custodes, where they see him as their king, with them being His favorites above the Primarchs. On the other hand to Malcador he acts like an old friend who he can confide with, and we don't even need to begin with the Primarchs and the Space Marines, being a father-figure and patriarch to them, or the citizens of the Imperium, whenever he appears to one of them he looks like what they want him to look like, a glorious superb leader, a kind if stern master (Uriah Olathaire, Kai Zulane, etc), the incarnation of all that is good in mankind.

A god you say?

We may consider the following: every single human group has a tendency to see the aspects they feel most appealing in their deities; the Emperor can make people do exactly that, and unlike Belisarius Cawl who needs to upload the specific personality in his databanks for the specific situation the Emperor's glamour automatically makes most people see what they wish in him. Simultaneously, back to Guilliman's pointing out what's going on, Emps is simply trying to be cool with everyone, even if that means falling to each specific group's personal antipathies and prejudices, since he has to be the god... like ruler of mankind of course he had to do this; he is playing the politician, the manager, the candidate, the family guy, the not-priest of the congregation, and while he may still have some personal preferences and quirks TTS-style back in 30k he had to put them aside (loves no man), and by 40k it seems there is barely anything left of his original personality when occupied with his main task (loves mankind, and mankind needs him to be their god). It may be that even back during the Great Crusade this attitude is what ended up allowing the followers of the Lectitio Divinitatus to pull the miracles they did; He just provided the psychic equivalent of earthing for mankind to start creating a real god out of him and ultimately it may be he ended up running along with not really many options left. But then this leads us down the theological and philosophical debate that's raged in the Dark Imperium series: what makes a god a god? Is worship all that's required? Is power and worship? Is it just power? Is it results, power, and worship? Is it none of it? When the man says he isn't a god, is he still a god? If Mankind has forgotten that he is just a man and has worshipped him for longer than civilization has existed in real life, does that make him a god nonetheless? If he is a god, he's an incredibly flawed god, hardly benevolent, arrogant and cruel, and couldn't make a divine plan to save himself. If he's not a god, then he's a tragically complicated almost unknowable person that had plans that exceeded his considerable ability, and a man of such vast power and near incalculable knowledge as to be far removed from anything remotely human. Is he a god or is he not a god? That decision is ultimately yours to decide.

tl;dr He was a horribly flawed but still well-meaning OCD workaholic with a "The needs of the many" outlook on life meaning he couldn't afford to show trust, love or compassion to anything but mankind as a whole (and even that in only the most abstract sense), not even his "sons". Ultimately his inhuman perspective prevented him from understanding the human condition, and his inhumanity was a large contributor to the Horus Heresy being as terrible as it was. If you have experience in pedagogy, he is your typical working dad who can't spare time to raise sons and makes *very* bad, fatigue influenced decisions, and after they grow up, wonders why they grow to hate him/be distant. Add the lack of a loving mother figure for the kids, and well... Though to be fair to Big E, that previous bit was not his fault, and having no mother figure for the Primarchs was way, waaaaay better than the alternative.

Planning for the Horus Heresy[edit]

To throw a spanner into the works when considering whatever the Emperor's "goals" might have been: a very interesting claim was made by Malcador himself to his dying confidante Sibel Niasta that the Heresy was all part of the plan, that the Primarchs were designed as "conquering tools and nothing more", set on course to fight for dominance and eventually turn on each other and challenge the Emperor directly. This is corroborated by what we already "knew" from Master of Mankind and the Emperor's own attitudes towards the Primarchs (which admittedly has constantly been shown to be shifting. As has been frequently pointed out the final confrontation between Horus and the Emperor - as we currently know it - would not make any sense if he merely considered them to be disposable tools anyway. Why "hold back" then to start out with?). The Primarchs were manipulated against each other with unequal favour, jealousies stoked in order to achieve this, and he also claims that those who would not be manipulated would never reach the end game. What is not certain is whether he was speaking the whole truth since he does later admit privately just after the conversation that he had to lie to mortals to spare their sorrow, so what parts he "lied" about are uncertain (he could've made the whole "just as planned" story up, it could've all been true and he was regretting manipulating the Primarchs and their legions, it could even refer to a single sentence where he implies that the Emperor will save her soul after death); he also admits that the outcome had been altered by the great enemy who had emboldened their champions and started the battle early so he did not know with absolute certainty how it was going to turn out. Also, if all of the above is true, Malcador's statement "if we could have saved just one of them I wish it would have been Lorgar" makes even less sense.

However, as shown from "The Board is Set" or the novel "The Outcast Dead" Malcador and the Emperor were certainly shown to have considerable amounts of foreknowledge regarding the Horus Heresy and certainly did play the Primarchs against each other in order to attempt to counter the manipulations of Chaos. However in the Board is Set, Malcador is shown that the Primarchs' destinies were not necessarily fixed and could have been played in different ways; some Primarchs were sacrificed for greater goals, like you would remove a figure from the board to give you a better edge. Whilst the Emperor had the knowledge that certain others were crucial to final victory. Malcador is also shown to not have been aware of the full plan or the flow of destinies; he is unaware of how certain seeming "winning" strategies are left unplayed because they have unexpected knock-on effects, or that certain moves played early or late could have had disastrous consequences.

  • Such as why the "Invincible Bastion" is not used to take the "Lord of Hearts" early on in the war, since it would force both of the "Twin" pieces to switch sides to the Warmaster and be able move on the Emperor's home space and cause the game to be lost. This is also significant because it shows that whichever side the Primarch had joined could have been variable, and did not automatically mean that it was working towards the same goal as its leaders.
  • Malcador was also surprised to find out that the game could be changed by factors they might be unaware of, such as the "Corruption" of the Lord of Clouds in the mid-game when they had expected him to resist like he had in their previous playthroughs. The Emperor appeared genuinely saddened by this change, hinting that he either still cared about them even when they had already turned against him, or that some Primarchs could have potentially been recovered and returned to the fold after the conflict had ended. Malcador was also shocked to think that the Emperor could be blind-sided by such an alteration; with Malcador only beginning to see the game for what it truly might have been, rather than simply a means of testing strategy.
  • It is important to note that from the beginning of the game, the "Primarch" pieces were essentially blank slates, and only gained their unique shapes and identities as part of their first activations after the Scattering, possibly indicating that the Primarchs could have potentially switched roles with one another depending on the first few moves. (Perhaps Sanguinius could have become the Lord of Hearts? or Perturabo become the Invincible Bastion?)
  • Before the first move takes place, the pieces were arranged ten per side, which was more than available Primarchs at the time. The Emperor had his own golden piece but the "Lord of Hearts" began the game in blue and became switched in the first move (giving the Warmaster eleven pieces after the first move) while the "Twins" would not be divided until the second move, providing twenty-one pieces on the board. Ignoring the additional piece "the Fool" that Malcador had never seen before, means that there must have been one other significant player somewhere that we are not aware about. That and the division of units under the control of the "Emperor" and "Warmaster" in the game would have been very different from the apparent division of Loyalist/Traitor Primarchs in the actual conflict, meaning that the roles they played and were expected to play did change drastically as the game progressed.

Taking several factors into account, it is absolutely certain that Malcador and the Emperor had enough foreknowledge to know that the Horus Heresy was going to happen from the point of the Scattering onward. To say that it was all part of his "Grand Plan" would be a stretch, that many of the Primarchs had municipal gifts (Perturabo's architectural mastery, Fulgrim's artistry etc) with purposes suited to the Emperor's grand plan for a post-human society (Magnus' and the Webway, Mortarion as a witchseeker) and he definitely created one of them "different" from the rest with the explicit purpose of teaching the others how to settle down after a lifetime of war shows that the Emperor probably did have a plan for his Primarchs that didn't involve losing half of them and then chaining himself to the Golden Throne. Otherwise why make twenty Primarchs with gifts related to your post-battle plans in the first place if you knew you were going to lose half of them? People who claim that this outcome was all part of the Emperor's plan have either missed or forgotten the fact that his opponent in the "game" was Chaos, and not Malcador (Malcador and Emps switched places several times in their playthroughs which Malcador thought was just a means of testing strategy until it finally dawned on him that there was more to it) and that the Chaos Gods had their own plans for the Primarchs too and were fully capable of changing the rules whenever it suited them. Not to mention the Cabals of alien psykers manipulating humanity for their own outcome, immortal humans that interfere with predictions of the future, and extradimensional beings trying to stop the primordial annihilator from manifesting all by making their own moves and causing more complications.

If anything; The Board is Set goes a long way in explaining why the Emperor couldn't do any more with his advanced notice of impending conflict as any wrong move he made could have immediately spelled disaster for humanity. Plus the Emperor's foresight was not perfect and it did not necessarily marry up with his practical knowledge; even though the game he played with Malcador showed the Double Edged Sword, The Uncrowned Monarch and The Angel spending most of the game off to the side, the Emperor had no idea what they were actually doing until Malcador relayed the message from Leman Russ. His psychic foresight seems to have been shrouded in allegory and symbolism, rather than concrete certainty.

Also note that "destiny" is different from what the Primarchs were "designed" for (case in point: Magnus being designed to operate the Golden Throne, but also being destined to damage it). While the Emperor had designed all of his Primarchs for specific tasks, he would not have been able to identify the destined role that each Primarch was meant to play until events had already been set into motion and pulled them onto certain paths. He might been able to guess that Magnus was "the Library" or that Dorn was the "Invincible Bastion" but could not have been certain until the first moves of the game had been made. So until then he could only treat the Primarchs according to their gifts; hailing them as heroes, building them statues and trying to steer them away from obvious sources of corruption such as sorcery or religion. Even if the Emperor had suspected which ones would turn against him and tried to eliminate them before they became problems, their destinies could have unfolded in a completely different way, potentially causing a similar conflict to happen albeit with a different combination of playing pieces on the board, or alternatively sacrificing any control he might have actually had over the Primarchs and still have ended up with a disaster on his hands. Also bearing in mind that he still needed to complete the Great Crusade and his Webway project; to put those plans on hold until the issue with Primarchs had sorted themselves out would probably have done him no good either because like the Emperor himself, Chaos is capable of playing the long game.

Lorgar is an interesting issue: Malcador once claimed that if he could have saved just one of the traitor Primarchs, it would have been Lorgar. However, from The Board is Set, the Emperor points out that game doesn't start with any piece other than the "Chosen", strongly hinted to represent Lorgar with his initial swaying of Horus and thus beginning the Heresy. This implies that no matter what moves are planned for, or what Primarchs ended up on either side; Chaos will always have a "Chosen" piece to start the game with. If Horus had been protected, Lorgar might have simply started the conflict with someone else, making Chosen/Lorgar perhaps the more crucial piece. Though keep in mind that Malcador speaks with the benefit of hindsight, and as mentioned previously, the Emperor was not omniscient, it is possible that neither of them were to fully realise that Lorgar was the Chosen until the first move of the game had already been made. What is most tragic is that Lorgar really wanted the love and approval of his father and was probably the most fanatically loyal to him in the early days, so turning him into Chaos' most pivotal piece is a cruel irony. If it were possible to have actually saved Lorgar before the conflict started, it would have probably unbalanced the game as Chaos would have been forced to find a different Primarch to fill the role of "Chosen", potentially upending the game altogether.

Until the end of the Heresy, Malcador was not actually aware of how the final conflict actually played out; having seen himself only as an advisor, he was ignorant of his own role. The Emperor showed him in the final days that his piece, "The Fool", would switch places with the Emperor to snatch victory and allow the "Uncrowned Monarch" to play his "Salvation" strategy and win the game against Chaos by tearing the throat out of the serpent. Malcador's "lie" to his servant was most likely to provide the illusion of control; when in fact the Emperor and Malcador were desperately seeking to find an alternate solution that would not doom everyone. But pretty much like the Emperor stated in The Outcast Dead: "Sometimes the only victory possible is to keep your opponent from winning.".

But what does all that mean for The Duel?[edit]

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 favorite son prevented him from going all out, and Emps gets his ass kicked. It takes an extraordinarily callous killing by Horus, traditionally Olianius but that character has changed a couple times, to finally convince the Emperor that Horus is completely 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 repeatedly assert that he never had, either then or in the 41st millennium. For example, the Emperor put down his Thunder Warriors as soon as they served their purpose, and he didn't even pretend to care about Angron and his Butchers nails, asserting that he would keep him as long as he had a use for him, and so on. Anyway, without compassion the duel 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 least) 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 actually happened? 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.

One possible explanation for why Emps' couldn't immediately obliterate Horus is perhaps due to divided attention and strength. During the fight, Malcador was being taxed to the core and maybe the Emps was lending his power to buy Malcador some more time and thus was not able to actually unleash his full strength on Horus. However, Malcador had already received the same speech about being used as a disposable pawn by the Emperor for the sake of the overall goal, and knew he was going to die anyway as the Throne-switcharoo had been planned before the traitors had even arrived at Terra, so the Emperor would have no reason to stall just to save one man, even if they were genuinely friends. The Emperor also knew in advance that the outcome would be his entombment on the Throne; when he found out about this he claimed that it was more than he expected but went so far as to tell his Custodians that his dream for the future of humanity was pretty much dead. Without the support of Magnus (who was always intended to sit on the Throne) unless someone came around with the knowledge to fix the Throne he would be trapped there until it it failed but according to his discussions with Malcador there was room for "Salvation" to come later. One other possible suggestion for why the Emperor might have stalled is perhaps his prescience glimpsed some preferable alternative to simply pasting Horus then and there, but until that gets resolved it can only be speculation. The meeting between Alpharius Omegon and The Cabal in the novel "Legion" implies that if either side decisively won the Horus Heresy, then humanity would die out shortly after; either murder-fucked to extinction by Horus, or doomed to follow the Eldar's fate after a few millennia under the Emperor's rule. This reveal gives the possibility that Emps purposefully drew out the duel to clear the board for Guilliman to be able to swoop in for the win later. The scariest option might be that Horus really was a match for the Emperor after being supercharged by the Chaos gods and it was only the intervention, however small, of Ollanius or someone else to give the Emperor just enough of a lead to defeat Horus. This is implied in The First Wall and onwards with several speeches about small forces making the difference at a key moment. It's relevant to the moment at hand but could easily be foreshadowing for the final showdown.

On a rather related note, one can assume E-Money knew the tragic cases of Magnus, Curze & Angron and all of his sons through premonitions. Given that the future can be changed (as in the case of the Lion who feared the future of Curze) though not necessarily changed for the better or come without consequences (such as knowing that Rogal Dorn could have defeated Horus early in the war, but Alpharius would have assaulted Terra and resulted in a Chaos win anyway) the only options available to E-Money were to salvage the best he could from a shit situation.

Anyway, he is now stuck on the Throne guiding his subjects in the few ways available to him in his current state as an all-powerful vegetable.

Perhaps, or perhaps not, to have hesitated out of love for a son, the final weakness during the last test to save mankind, would have shown why the Emperor couldn't afford to love anyone, not even his own sons, and turned him into what he is now. More recent fluff shows him to have always been more pragmatic than that, though. While he did seemingly care for his "sons", his foresight had shown him that half of them would turn to Chaos and move against him (whether or not you believe Malcador's statement that it was planned from the start). Perhaps he even saw that there would always be half the Primarchs turning to Chaos and all the Emperor could do was choose which ones and try to plan for them (which would explain why he was such a massive prick to some of his sons and somewhat decent to others). Maybe the two missing Primarchs were dealt with just to try and reduce the number of Primarchs and Legions involved without crippling the Great Crusade. (As of The Chamber at the End of Memory we now know that the Two Unknown Primarchs were erased because whatever they did was somehow worse than the Heresy.) Though even with this foreknowledge, the Emperor was on the back foot and many of the actions of the Horus Heresy involved playing the Primarchs against each other to prevent an overall Chaos victory rather than achieving an Imperial win.

However, recent lore has revealed that the Emperor alone would have never defeated Horus and that the intervention and sacrifice of Oll Persson/Ollanius is the only thing standing between victory or defeat. This gives a lot of credence to the speculation that Horus was indeed much more powerful that Emps by the time of the duel, oh shit.

It is implied that Euphrati Keeler, Amon the Custodian, and a virus designed to kill Horus would all play a part in his defeat, further cementing Ascended Horus as more powerful than the Emperor.

Worship of the Emperor[edit]

What the Emperor looked like before Horus decided to bitchslap Him so hard he ended up spending the next 10,000 years on the Golden Throne as a rotting corpse. Notice the giant skull. How did that skull get so big? Is it a plastic faux-skull, or is it an mutant or even an alien skull? (What He doesn't want you to know is that The E is actually a midget, the armor is a mech and that that's a regular-sized skull) *BLAM!* Anyway, back to the topic at hand. You don't get to see the Emperor out of armor very often. But he still looks fabulous without his armor.

"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.

++ Ayhmen ++"

– the Creed of the Mankind's Council of Nicene of Holy Terra (Most Christian elegan/tg/entlemen will recognize it as a bastardized version of The Apostle's Creed)

"Did Horus not say that you sought godhood? He built a rebellion upon that claim. How he would gloat and laugh to see the Imperium now."

Roboute Guilliman

"Worship me."
"I said no to Him. And He might even have been worth it."

– Erebus and Erda

The Imperium advocates worship of 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, the religion that Lorgar founded on the Emperor had already begun to run amok before the Heresy had even ended. Without the Emperor to specifically demand it be rooted out, and with the unifying effect it appeared to have on the population of the galaxy who rallied behind its banner of salvation, the Imperial Truth slowly lost its foothold for secularism. The Imperial Truth kept on teaching that there were no other gods (for modern Imperial citizens are forbidden from knowing of the Chaos Gods even existence) and was corrupted to espouse that there is only the God-Emperor. 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 (though this is an example of what's possible on the micro scale, unlikely to have worked on the macro scale considering Chaos was already waiting for the Emperor on Colchis in the form of Erebus and Kor Phaerom who'd have found a way to fuck things up one way or another). Unfortunately this still made them targets and the Imperium was used by Chaos as a cats-paw to wipe them out.

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?

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, left without supervision, faith has proven to be an effective shield against Chaos. 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. 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 shut down and died. 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:

Without their faith in the Emperor after His internment into the Golden Throne, the fragments of the Imperium would inevitably sought to change the mechanisms the Emperor set in place that keep the Imperium running to this day, not to mention the inevitable conflict that would've erupted over a militant athiest empire allied to a very religious technocracy. Much like IRL religion, whilst it can give hope and courage to fight on and survive in a universe that leaves the grimdark faucet running everyday and night, it also causes as much harm to the everyday mans lot through intolerance, having atrophied any possibility for change.

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 shapeshifting 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. But you could also argue that when a man says I'm not a god, and I'm as close to one as you'll ever meet, you gotta admit how stupid mankind has got to be to ignore his advice entirely. Mankind is such that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck even after being told scientifically that it is human fecal matter, when he's hungry enough he is willing to tell himself it is a duck and will taste like one.

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 or in an absolute grimdark alternative him having the foresight to see there really was no other option but an eternal stalemate. If ever there was a greater example of the man being just a man and not a god, you couldn't find it anywhere else than here.

Emperor: Endgame[edit]

Son, I am disappoint.

The Emperor's body might be broken and destroyed, and while he's dead by every clinical definition of death, there is sufficiently enough of his consciousness sticking around to still be relevant and extremely powerful. This is at odds with his status as a confirmed Perpetual, but his body has been dead for longer than he's been a perpetual so chalk this up to GW not bothering to account for it properly. Very few people are ever allowed to enter the Throne Room, and accounts differ on what they actually witnessed while in there.

What is perhaps more important is the Golden Throne itself and what the Emperor expected to achieve by maintaining his silent vigil on it for the last ten thousand years. It is known that the Throne started out as an important part of his Webway project and sits on a long sealed portal to the human portion of it; it also supposedly directs the beacon of the Astronomican. It might also be somehow enhancing or maintaing his psychic abilities through its connection to his desiccated body, which would be lost when it gives out. It also still requires a constant source of Psyker fuel to keep running, and that has only increased in demand more recently. What it actually does do now that the Emperor's body is dead and desiccated is up in the air.

With the mechanism being consistently worn out, and the Tech-priests too power-armour-on-head rebooted to do anything about it (at least until they finish studying Malcador's staff, provided GW doesn't forget that plot point), it is certainly possible that the Golden Throne may stop working entirely. It's also possible nothing would change, seeing as how parts of it keep giving out yet nothing happens.

Suffice to say, no one knows exactly what might happen should the Golden Throne give out, and no one really wants to find out.

The Nuclear Option[edit]

Ultimately, if the Golden Throne fails (assuming it's actually doing something), it is possible that Holy Terra might be plunged into the Warp. This is supported by the fact that the Throne was built as a part of a portal to the Webway and was a significant part of the Emperor's ultimate plan for humanity. Unfortunately the psychic wards for the webway were later broken by Magnus, causing a warp tear to open on Terra and creating a whole secret war in the Webway at the same time as the Horus Heresy. Although the portal was eventually sealed with the direct intervention of the Emperor himself, the fact remains that it still sits on top of a closed doorway with an infinite multitude of daemons on the other side, though it's not been elaborated on as being a part of keeping that door shut.

According to the Old Earth novel, the Golden Throne has a Vulkan-forged device called Talisman of Seven Hammers that acts as a dead man's switch: it supposedly will destroy all of Terra if the Throne finally kicks it. The Talisman has never been referred to in previous fluff, though the fullest implications of the Throne failing have never been explored either. The effect of Vulkan's talisman is a wildcard, as it was shown to have the capability to annihilate (not merely banish) a Greater Daemon even before it was connected to the Throne, and earlier in the same section the residual energy left over in the Emperor's fulgurite was sufficient to make an army of Bloodletters simply not be there any more. Connecting the talisman to the Throne magnifies its power to the point that the Emperor believes it would not merely deny Chaos their victory on Terra, but can strike a blow against them "the likes of which they will never recover from".

Additionally, the Grey Knights have a set of instructions called the Terminus Decree with icons that match that of the Throne itself, and these instructions could either destroy the Imperium, or bring it salvation in its darkest hour, one could speculate that the two outcomes could be linked.

Chaos may still get their chance to destroy Terra and bring down control of the Imperium, but may be burned badly by the Emperor's final "fuck you".


As mentioned, 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. The question becomes why he hasn't picked himself up and dusted himself off and regenerated yet after long millennia of inactivity.

In any case, if the Golden Throne fails. regardless of whether Terra gets nuked - the two outcomes are not mutually exclusive, whatever remains of the Emperor likely will have the freedom to recover and lead humanity once again.

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. Too bad the Warp rift and the Astronomican don't have time to wait for him to do so.

A whole faction of the Inquisition, Thorianism, exists to investigate the possibility of regeneration; looking for possible signs that the Emperor's consciousness can be transferred elsewhere, allowing Him to walk among his children once more. (They don't know about the existence of Perpetuals and would rather look for a new body to place the Emperor's soul into.) 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.

A final outcome might be that the Emperor is so far gone that there would be no regeneration for him. He could you know, just be "dead" the same way that Malcador died after his stint on the Throne, though Malcador didn't get to stick around. They were both perpetuals; although the Emperor is orders of magnitude more powerful, Malcador never got up after what might have only been a few hours or days when the Emperor has been sitting there for Millennia. This would also mean the Imperium is absolutely out of luck with the failure of the Astronomican AND the aforementioned warp nuke centered on Terra and their seat of government.

Alternatively it could also be that his connection to the Throne might be the last thing preventing him from achieving true Godhood after ten-thousand years of worship. The destruction of the Throne might by the catalyst of everything that the traitors called him a hypocrite for desiring, ironically causing it to happen with their rebellion and his entombment.

This however is just speculation, so the outcome remains unknown. However, it is confirmed that Perpetuals can still die for real and Chaos does have the ability to do so. Malcador learned this the hard way.

Beyond the Emperor[edit]

As stated in The Master of Mankind, the Emperor himself believes 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. When Guilliman shows up, the Emperor is amazed that humanity has still managed to survive and the Imperium is still alive.

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, requiring him to ask his insane bird-oracle to clarify on these events.
  • The fall of the Imperium may be inevitable, but mankind may live on. Given the sheer scope of the human exodus, it's not outside the realm of possibility that some remnant of the Dark Age of Technology has continued unchanged from its original height, though it's very unlikely. For this to be the case it would somehow have to avoid nearly all xenos, chaos influence/worshipers, have its own way of dealing with latent psykers so that they don't be used by Daemons or worse and never have met any of the other traders, explorators and travelers in general that make up how the current Imperium discovers new planets.
  • 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 of 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 managed to kick-start an anti-Chaos god is something no one, not even the Emperor managed to foresee (assuming he did not know that is what the Infinity Circuits were for, which he no doubt did considering how old he is). Eldrad has ultimately demonstrated there are other ways to fight Chaos (by being a dick).
    • 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 its 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. But he did nothing to build on that, the dumbass. 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 completely justified hatred of xenos, they may be mankind's best chance of survival. That said, we still do have to remember that both the Eldar and Necrons want the Imperium and each other out of the way eventually in order to rebuild their empires, and the Imperium isn't keen on relying too heavily on the entities who will turn on them in a tip of the hat. On the other hand, desperate times call for desperate measures and who knows what the future could bring? Well, at least the Eldar to have more or less accepted their empire will never return and that sticking with the Imperium is their best bet for survival and power in the universe from now on. Which broke the balance and caused plot progression.
  • 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). 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) and a wild card in the fate of the Galaxy.
  • If the Emperor wasn't a god to begin with, millennia of worship and countless psyker souls empowering him means that he's almost certainly a god now- and he knows it. Even when wielded by a "mere" Primarch his sword alone is capable of permanently destroying Greater Daemons (keep in mind that during Great Crusade and before he seems not to be able to do that), and given enough time his power might eclipse that of Chaos itself. (Though one could argue that Chaos powers up much faster than the Emperor due to having more sources to feed one and possibly having more worshippers)
  • 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

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. At the very least, humanity accomplished more and survived longer than anyone expected, even the Emperor. (Is this true? The Emperor predicted Mankind to at least endure for 10,000 years, and the Emperor set into motion an empire who mechanisms could function even without His direct assistance in such a way that it continued to function admirably (the measure of success being survival) for millennia in spite of the galaxy constantly seeking to end it.)

Indeed, this is Warhammer 40,000, a cautionary tale about the End of Empires, but so was Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and, although we may not 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's nicknames[edit]

Like Roboute, his central status in 40k has spawned a plethora of nicknames:

The Emprah, Emps, Big Daddy Emps, The Motherfucking Emperor, Big-E, Mr. Xeno Destroyer, Chaos Fister, Golden Daddy, E-Money, The Chad-Emperor of Chadkind, The Bling-Emperor of Mankind, Chad Thundercock, Augustus Imperator, Deus-Imperator, Him Upon the Throne, Primogenitor, The Outlander, Him on Earth, All-Father, Rangu, Imperator Mortifex, Master of Mankind, Revelation, Neoth, The Immortal Emperor, The Golden King, The Omnissiah, The Cartomancer, The Empinator, Jimmy Space, The Fresh Emperor of Sacred Terra, That guy with the bigger gun than you, Golden Boy, Space Jesus, /tg/, The Man-Emperor of Mankind, Glorious Overlord, Lord of Bling, My Manly Man-peror, Lord Sovereign of the Imperium, Starman, Mega Dick Daddy , Ya Boi, The King of Terra, Boney-Em, Carl Sagan, Alex, George, and James Workshop, or if you are of different inclinations, The Carrion Lord, The False Emperor, The Corpse Emperor, The Corpse God, Oathbreaker, That Twat with the Chair, Space Hitler, Space Stalin, That Loony Shaman-Chassis, giant crunchy psychic sandwich, the Anathema, Dat Big Shinny Git, Professor Utonium, Doctor Fate, The Immortal, Leto Atreides, Vandal Savage, Manji, Shigeo Kageyama, Tetsuo, Conan The Cimmerian, Maximilian Zelevas, Gilad Anni-Padda, Henry Cavill, Great-Grandpapa Smurf, M. Bison, Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and many more.

And now for some tabletop rules...[edit]

These are rules I thought of. They are not meant to actually be used, and they will put the Emperor at a position where He can easily shit on any Primarch. Like, seriously. These rules will make the destroyer of fluff's rules look mega-balanced in comparison.

The Emperor of Mankind is a single model equipped with: The Emperor's Sword, the Imperialis Bolter, psychic focusing prism. Your army can only include one The Emperor of Mankind model. If this model is part of your army, you may not take any models with the Primarch keyword.

Name M WS BS S T W A Ld Sv Cost
The Emperor of Mankind 16" 2+ 2+ 8 8 20 7 10 2+ 1000 pts.


Name Range Type S AP D Abilities
The Imperialis Bolter 36" Rapid Fire 6 5 -3 D3+1
Psychic focusing prism 50" Assault 14 4 0 1 Whenever an attack with this weapon is allocated to a Psyker unit, the Damage characteristic of that attack is changed to D3. In addition, if a Psyker unit is not destroyed by an attack from this weapon, that unit immediately suffers Perils of the Warp.
The Emperor's Sword Melee Melee +2 -4 3 Any unmodified hit rolls of 6 deal d3 mortal wounds in addition to any other damage.

Other Wargear:[edit]

Aegis of the Emperor: This model has a 3+ invulnerable save.

Relic Teleport Homer: This model has the Judgement has Come ability.


The Master of Mankind: If your army is battle-forged, this model must be your Warlord. If this model is your Warlord, then gain 3 CP. While this model is on the battlefield, any units with the Imperium keyword gain +1 to their Move, BS, WS, and A characteristics. They also gain +5 to their Ld characteristic. Any units with the Adeptus Custodes and Anathema Psykana keywords, in addition to these benefits, can reroll all failed rolls, can ignore mortal wounds on a roll of 5+ and become Fearless.

The Anathema: While this model is on the battlefield, any units with the Chaos keyword get -3 to their Ld.

God of the Immaterium: Add 3 to Psychic tests and Deny the Witch tests taken by this model. This model never suffers Perils of the Warp. Whenever this model manifests Smite, it does 7 mortal wounds instead of d3.

Master of the Blade: This model may make two hit rolls per attack made with the Emperor's Sword if the target has the Daemonic keyword.

Master of the Bolter: This model may triple the number of shots it makes with the Imperialis Bolter if the target is within half range.

A God made Manifest: The first time this model is slain, roll a d6. On a 1, this model releases a psychic shockwave before returning to the Imperial Palace. If this shockwave is released, then every unit within 12" takes d6 mortal wounds. On any other result, set this model up anywhere on the battlefield that is 10" away from any enemy models. The next time this model is slain, this model releases the psychic shockwave and leaves.

Perpetual Healing: At the beginning of each of your Command phases, this model regains d3 lost wounds.

Graceful Movement: Add 2 to armour saves taken by this model on a turn in which it moved more than 10".

Judgement has Come: This model can start the battle in a teleportarium chamber in the Inner Palace. If it does, then in any of your latter four Movement phases, this model can teleport anywhere on the battlefield that is at least 5" away from enemy models.

Psychic Dome: Any units wholly within 6" of this model have a 5+ invulnerable save against ranged attacks.


Thought for the day: "The man who has nothing can still have faith."


PROMOTIONS-small.png This section contains PROMOTIONS! Don't say we didn't warn you.

See Also[edit]

This thread which makes the Emperor even cooler.

Imperial Eagle.png Institutes within the Imperium of Man Imperial Eagle.png
Adeptus Terra: Adeptus Administratum - Adeptus Astra Telepathica
Adeptus Astronomica - Senatorum Imperialis
Adeptus Mechanicus: Adeptus Titanicus - Explorator Fleet - Legio Cybernetica - Skitarii
Armed Forces: Adeptus Arbites - Adeptus Custodes - Planetary Defense Force - Sisters of Silence
Imperial Army: Afriel Strain - Adeptus Astartes - Gland War Veteran
Imperial Guard - Imperial Navy - Imperial Knights - Militarum Tempestus
Imperial Cult: Adeptus Ministorum - Adepta Sororitas - Death Cults - Schola Progenium
Inquisition: Ordo Astartes - Ordo Astra - Ordo Calixis - Ordo Chronos - Ordo Hereticus
Ordo Machinum - Ordo Malleus - Ordo Militarum - Ordo Necros - Ordo Sepulturum
Ordo Sicarius - Ordo Xenos
Officio Assassinorum: Adamus - Callidus - Culexus - Eversor - Maerorus - Vanus - Venenum - Vindicare
Great Crusade: Corps of Iterators - Legiones Astartes - Remembrancer Order - Solar Auxilia
Unification Wars: Legio Cataegis
Other: League of Black Ships - Logos Historica Verita
Navis Nobilite - Rogue Traders - Ambassador Imperialis
Abhumans & Denizens: Beastmen - Caryatids - Felinids - Humans - Nightsiders - Troths - Neandors
Ogryns - Ratlings - Scalies - Scavvies - Squats - Subs - Pelagers - Longshanks
Notable Members: God-Emperor of Mankind - Malcador the Sigillite
The Perpetuals - The Primarchs - Sebastian Thor
Erda - Ollanius Pius