It is the 41st Millennium. For more than a hundred centuries The Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the Master of Mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.
Yet even in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of the Warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor's will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds. Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary defence forces, the ever vigilant Inquisition and the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants - and worse.
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. note
— The standard intro to every Imperium-centered written work from the 40K universe, first spoken by Vulkan, Primarch of the XVIII Legiones Astartes "Salamanders"
It is a time of legend.
The galaxy is in flames. The Emperor's glorious vision for humanity is in ruins. His favoured son, Horus, has turned from his father's light and embraced Chaos.
His armies, the mighty and redoubtable Space Marines, are locked in a brutal civil war. Once, these ultimate warriors fought side by side as brothers, protecting the galaxy and bringing mankind back into the Emperor's light. Now they are divided.
Some remain loyal to the Emperor, whilst others have sided with the Warmaster. Pre-eminent amongst them, the leaders of their thousands-strong Legions are the primarchs. Magnificent, superhuman beings, they are the crowning achievement of the Emperor's genetic science. Thrust into battle against one another, victory is uncertain for either side.
Worlds are burning. At Isstvan V, Horus dealt a vicious blow and three loyal Legions were all but destroyed. War has begun, a conflict that will engulf mankind in fire. Treachery and betrayal have usurped honour and nobility. Assassins lurk in every shadow. Armies are gathering. All must choose a side or die.
Horus musters his armada, Terra itself the object of his wrath. Seated upon the Golden Throne, the Emperor waits for his wayward son to return. But the true enemy is Chaos, a primordial force that seeks to enslave mankind to its capricious whims.
The screams of the innocent, the pleas of the righteous resound to the cruel laughter of Dark Gods. Suffering and damnation await should the Emperor fail and the war be lost.
The age of knowledge and enlightenment has ended.
The Age of Darkness has begun.
— The intro of The Horus Heresy: Betrayal At Calth guidebook
For more quotes from within the WH40K universe, see The Lexicanum Quotes Index. And we mean more.
"An example is the best way to explain it. There's a god of hope, and the god of freaking hope is evil." "See, if you take the 40K universe too seriously, you're really missing the point. Sure, you can take it at face value and see the dystopian galaxy where everyone is doomed to oblivion by too many different forces to list here, or you can take it as deliberately over-the-top, designed to deliver whatever is the most awesome. The second way I find more fun."
Gabe: Well, isn't the enemy of your enemy, like, your friend? Or whatever? Can't they team up?
Tycho: Not exactly. In this setting, the enemy of your enemy is still a floating, greasy, armored brain.
Gabe: Well, what about his enemy? Maybe you could be friends with him.
: No, because that
guy is a mechanical horror in an undying battle shell. He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope
Ethan: So we both have a bunch of little plastic men, right? And we move them. Manually. Then, when we fight, we roll dice and then do math to figure out who hits who. But there are no actual battles or explosions. We use our imaginations, like a couple of savages. It sounds almost as fun as chewing used medical syringes.
Lucas: These guys here have chainsaw swords.
: This is the coolest game ever
"Run like frak!"
provides the best advice for self-assurance in the 40K setting in history.
"Catholic Space Nazis sound like awesome villains, how can they be the heroes?"
"All I know is that it ends very badly. For one side."
"This is WH40K. It's very badly for all sides, and it never ends."
The IoM is kinda what you get when you cross the Dark Ages, Religious Fanaticism, Xenophobia, the ability to defy physics, a arsenal that makes the most advanced firearms of our reality look like pop-guns (The kind that use those little red plastic caps) and finally slather it all with heaping helpings of general badassness and the attitude that if the Universe is out to kill you, your going to goddamn kill it first.
Which in all its twisted Fu*ked-upness, it is awesome.
The Imperium of Man is a malfunctioning machine that runs on blood, sweat and tears.
—The definition of Imperium of Man in a single sentence.
"God exists, and so does the Devil, only it's really more like twenty Devils, and they all want to see you suffer, and God is paralyzed for life and has to eat souls to keep breathing, but you still worship him because he eats less souls than any of the Devils, and Jesus decided to betray God and his clone still goes around killing people."
"Warhammer Fantasy is Lord Of The Rings on a cocktail of steroids and GBH. And Warhammer 40000 is the above on a cocktail of every drug known to man and genuine lunar dust, stuck in a blender with Alien, Mechwarrior, Starship Troopers and Star Wars, bathed in blood, turned up to eleventy billion, set on fire, and catapulted off into space screaming WAAAGH! and waving a chainsaw sword." "In the grim darkness of the grimdark future, there is only grim darkness, dark grimness, and STALEMATE." "The Imperium is like a man hanging from a cliff with one arm and without the strength to pull himself back up. He could use his other hand to hold on just a little longer, but he's busy using it to give the finger to all the bastards watching him dangle."
. The website is in general NSFW.
"If ever was there a game that was made of 100% pure mansauce, Warhammer would be that game." "God Himself could not sink this game!" "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only awesome." "Space Jesus Saves. Until Space Judas. Hilarity Ensues. Thus, War. Forever." "Warhammer 40k can make women grow chest hair."
—Darth Lampshade in DOW2 Retribution General Chat
"Basically, life sucks, there is only war, and you're probably going to be eaten by Tyranids. Have fun." 40k - where the genocidal, xenocidal, fascist, ultraconservative zealots with a morbid fear of technology and an unhealthy fondness for burning things... are the good guys.
—A forum signature.
The noble ideal of meeting the xeno, observing it in its native habitat, then murdering it with a chainsword and carrying out an Exterminatus on their world. Smells like Warhammer.
—Another forum signature.
Warhammer 40k: Where tactical nukes are used as anti-personnel landmines, personal weapons are fully automatic 20mm gyrojet grenade launchers, escort ships are capable of crippling planets by ramming them at full speed (I actually did the math one snowy day), billions die due to rounding errors in the Imperial Bureaucracy, where FTL involves jumping into hell, navigating by the beacon lit by souls, and jumping out before the daemons catch you...
Space Marines think "I'm a superman; FOR THE EMPEROR! It's my job." Renegade Marines think "I'm a freaking SUPERMAN! HELL YEAH!"
"What makes this universe so brilliant and different is its ability to create a universe so full of death, destruction and a feeling of utter helplessness to portray the sum of our fears. Yet the more you read about the characters and the lore you realize there is hope."
40K - Where the psychotic living weapons with a morbid fear of peace and an unhealthy fondness for eviscerating humans... are the comic relief.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!
—Innumerable followers of Khorne and players with Khornate armies
"This is reality; this is the era we live in, there is only war, Adelana. There may not have been war on Omnartus, nor most worlds in the Calixis sector but it is always somewhere. It has found you; I'm sorry to say, as it had found me, as it has found countless of others. Trillions before us and more to come."
"If you played with toys and action figures, you may have known about, or played with, "That Kid." You never wanted to play with That Kid. Nobody did. That Kid always had to be the best, and he'd make up rules to do so. [A regular kid would say,] "My Iron Man is coming to fight you!" [However, That Kid would counter with,] "Nuh-uh, because my John Cena has an Iron Man force field." This child grew up to work at Games Workshop. An entire school bus of These Kids did, and they made their own factions for the setting. These kids were kept in check by an entity that I'm gonna call the "Supreme Kid". The Supreme Kid will somewhat balance the other factions, but make sure that his favoritest is the most important. He will smite down or devour the creations of lesser kids who challenge him. In the end, only he will remain. That should sum up why this setting is so ridiculous. I figure that most people watching this know, at bare minimum, that 40k is Grimdark and Sci-Fi. Or maybe "space fantasy" would be a better description. If you know nothing about the setting, just picture this: Hulk Hogan is in a cathedral, and he's fighting the Devil. Hogan is wearing about 50 trucks worth of metal. Also, the cathedral is the size of Rhode Island. And in space. Hulk Hogan is the Imperium of Man. They're the humans in this setting, and probably the most popular faction for that reason. At this time, the setting didn't really have good guys, just lesser shades of evil. The Imperium is a bunch of fascist fanatics, but, if you are human, they're your best chance for being alive for a while. When the Tau released in 2001, they were the "good" faction. Non-Tau Players tended to dislike them for this among other reasons."