The Gigantic Universe of Warhammer 40k- Humans aka The Imperium of Man


Evan Nguyen, Contributor

This is a Custodian “Allarus Terminator”

Where do I begin with the universe of Warhammer 40k. It gets its name from its setting. It is a representation of our universe 40,000 years in the future, hence 40k. It has a very large and wide set of lore which we will delve into today. We will only cover the basics, because we can’t go over everything. There are over 500 books made for this universe that further delve into and expand the lore. I have been into this universe for a year already, and I warn you, it is not, by any means light reading. However, we will take our first plunge with its history. This whole universe did not start out like other sci-fi universes. It does not come from a book, TV show, or movie, but in fact it comes from a humble tabletop dice game. I myself have the actual models and play the game. Let me tell you it is NOT a cheap hobby to get into. But, if you wish to spend the time and effort into buying and painting them, it is a fun game. Even if you do not want to play, you can still paint the models. I actually own and play with the model that the picture above is portraying. What this universe does is instead of making the Humans naive, young and willing to explore like other universes, they have made Humanity a battle-hardened elder race, which already knows all that it needs to know to survive.

This is a space marine of the, Ultramarines chapter
This is a Space Marine of the Ultramarines chapter

One thing that will be apparent very quickly will be the theme and atmosphere. It is much darker and grim than other sci-fi universes like Star Wars and Star Trek which is coined by the phrase “grimdark.” It is also a lot more powerful and overpowered than say Star Wars. Planets are destroyed and many others  exterminated in the billions every day, for the sake of human survival. The poster boy for 40k is The space marine as seen in the picture above. They are the Emperor’s grandsons and are Humans with EXTENSIVE genetic modifications. For example, 3 lungs, 2 hearts, and an extra kidney. They are 8.5 ft tall and have powerful boltguns, chainswords, plasma guns, and more. One can probably take on a spartan from Halo and most likely win, because space marines have all that spartans have but better.

The Emperor before the Horus Heresy

The Imperium of Man is one of the main major powers in the universe. Its armies are countless and their resources are limitless. However, it is besieged on all sides by chaos, and aliens or “Xenos,” as they are called in universe. Billions of humans are sacrificed every day to preserve the species. One of the most important figures of the Universe is The Emperor of Mankind. He came from the stone age and is immortal, wise and was with humanity since its beginning. Humanity progressed as it normally does and rose the “Dark Age of Technology” or the peak of human science. However, humanity would fall hard as technology turned against them or “Psykers” emerged.

There is this parallel dimension called the Warp which is a hellish dimension of all thoughts and emotions. Psykers can use it to cast spells and stuff. However, the malignant powers of the Chaos Gods make the warp dangerous. Psykers can go crazy, because of the warp and get possessed or summon daemons. That is why most are exterminated. This fall was called “The Sge of Strife.” The Emperor is the most powerful psyker. He is called the “anathema” by the chaos gods, because he was against all they stood for (There are 4 chaos gods Tzeench, Slannesh, Khorne, Nurgle who represent schemes and plots, pleasure and excess, rage and slaughter, pestilence and disease respectively). The Emperor arose form the shadows to become the ruler of humanity and lead the reunification of earth or “terra,” as it is split between different warlords.  To do this he created the Adeptus Custodes and the Thunder legions. The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s personal bodyguards and true firstborn sons, they predate all others and are better than the entire species in every way save for the Emperor himself and the Primarchs. The Thunder Warriors are the prototypes predecessors to the Space Marines and helped Terra reunite. However, due to the crude nature they were made, they went crazy and did not last long. So the Emperor ordered The Adeptus Custodes to put them down. The Space Marines, or  Astartes, soon followed to replace them. The Emperor then created his 18 sons to lead the great crusade and their legions of space marines. Each space marine has a gene seed which is derived from their primarch- making them into the primarch’s sons. However, the Chaos gods grabbed the primarch babies and scattered them across the galaxy. The Emperor had to retrieve all of his sons, and only then, could they start the GREAT CRUSADE to reclaim humanities’ lost worlds.

The Emperor on the Golden Throne

Everything was going great until the Emperor’s favorite son Horus betrayed him and turned to chaos taking half of his brothers with him in what is known as the HORUS HERESY. When the Emperor finally confronted Horus, he could not take the life of his favorite son. Horus hammered and kept wounding the Emperor until a regular human jumped in front of Horus to save the Emperor’s life. As the person was obliterated, the Emperor saw that he had no choice and used is overwhelming psychic power to completely erase him from existence. However, the Emperor was Mortally wounded and had to be placed upon a life support system called the Golden Throne. He powers are something called the Astromomicon which allows space ships to know where they are going. FTL (Faster Than Light Travel) is managed through the warp in which you need a navigator to use the Astonomicon to get where they need to go.

A priest inspiring the soldiers and spreading the word of the Emperor.

Ever since the Emperor’s downfall, the imperium that he has created has declined significantly. They are highly religious as they worship the Emperor as a god which the Emperor does not like. They have fallen into ignorance as tech is being lost and no progress is being made. People are labeled heretics. They have become super hateful as they have come to, ” Beware the Mutant, the Alien, The Heretic.” If you have thoughts that do not align with the Imperium, they will kill you as a heretic. There is no tolerance for anyone. Even to their own people. There is no free speech or rights at any given time. Human life is thrown away at a whim. The his Imperium has become the embodiment of the things he hates most.

The whole universe can be summed up in this excerpt, “To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.”

Representation of me after recalling so much lore knowledge.

THIS IS JUST THE BASIC OVERVIEW OF THE HUMANS. We have not even gotten into the EXTENSIVE lore on the other races like the Eldar, Orks, Necrons, Tau, and more. Sadly, we cannot get into them now or else it would be WAY too long. This is just surface knowledge of the Humans. I could not delve into specifics or this article will be 10 pages long. Look out for a part 2 where we will go into the Alien races.