A Brief Background of the Warhammer 40K Universe

“Have we exhausted all possible ways to divine the future? How many scribes must toil to scratch their visions onto ancient parchments so that we might catch a glimpse of hope? Or are we to suffer only the pangs of despair as yet more horror is let loose on our dreams? Or does the seeking itself give birth to more insanity than man can cope? The Dark Future Beckons! Fear the Unknown!”

It is the 41st Millennium by human reckoning. Mankind has risen to the stars and collapsed into barbarism multiple times. At the end of one such time of collapse at at the beginning of the 31st Millennium, a man arose on Earth (now called Terra) who is known to history only as The Emperor. The Emperor united the warring tribes of humans on Earth and set in motion a technological and cultural renaissance along with a massive effort to seek out and reunify the scattered remnants of human civilization on far-flung worlds. This he called his Great Crusade.

For two centuries the Emperor guided humanity personally, welcoming lost planets back into the fold and scattering the foes of man before him. Because of his deeds and his legend, many sought to worship him as a god, but the Emperor abhorred such adoration and insisted that he was but a man. At the height of the Great Crusade, just as humanity reached a pinnacle of glory unseen for millennia, tragedy struck. Beset by lies and whispers from the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, Horus, the Emperor’s first and most beloved son, turned against his father and began to worship the gods of destruction, decay, desire, and ambition. His corruption would spell the end of the Great Crusade and the beginning of a cataclysmic civil war in the fledgling Imperium known as the Horus Heresy.

After a long and bloody war, Horus and his traitorous forces marshaled in the skies above Terra itself, poised to strike down the Imperium and destroy all the Emperor had sought to build. And so the Emperor himself met Horus in battle and slew him, but not before he himself was wounded unto death. As his life ebbed from him, the Emperor had his servants inter him within a great artifact of a bygone human civilization: The Golden Throne. This massive device would sustain his body and prevent him from truly dying. From the Throne, he could guide his people in spirit, if not in fact. And so for ten thousand years the slowly dying Emperor of Man has sat on his throne as the Imperium he built decays.

Today, ten thousand years later, the Imperium is a shell of its former self. Ironically, the man who insisted so fiercely that he was no god is now worshiped as the one and only god of mankind: The God-Emperor. In his stead, the rulers of the Imperium have imposed a brutal regime where the needs of the many are the only needs considered. Individual humans are naught but tools to keep the last lights of humanity from fading and dying. Threats on all sides have made fear and suspicion ways of life and even the knowledge of technology is all but lost. Where once reason and truth guided the Imperium now fear and dogma chart its course.

Amongst this broken society there remain but a few people who know the great and terrible truths of the universe. Most men and women live in ignorance, seldom leaving the planets of their births and concerned with little beyond day to day life. In fact most of these people could not handle the burden of knowing just how tenuously humanity hangs on to existence. Instead that burden falls to the servants of the Inquisition, tasked to root out and destroy the foes of man wherever they hide. It is here that you, the players, will take your part. Your characters will stand as the bulwark against the dark and the only reason most humans can sleep at all at night. Are you prepared to face these threats?

A Brief Background of the Warhammer 40K Universe

We Have Not The Luxury To Count The Cost Agentshades