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Why Warhammmer 40K fans keep arguing about the Emperor’s terrible sons

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warhammer 40,000 stands apart largely because of its sheer scale. Billions of people pile up in hive cities, trillions of people sign up for the Imperial Guard (and die horribly in the process), and quadrilaterals of humans are spread across the galaxy. That’s without mentioning the various alien races known as Xenos – terrifying space bugs, ferocious orks, awe-inspiring space elves, and immortal robotic skeletons.

But this is not what fan conversation focuses on. if you check out warhammer 40k fan space and content channels, you’ll find that most of the conversation centers around Twenty Terrible Boys and all the bad decisions they make. what’s up with that?

The God-Emperor of Mankind is the man who founded the Empire of Man, powers the lighthouse that all Imperium ships use to travel, and keeps an endless horde of demons from invading Terra and exploding the planet prevents. The God-Emperor maintained an Auchi 10,000 years ago, meaning he is confined to the Kursi, a Rot God who consumes a thousand souls a day. And it’s all because of his terrible sons – the princes – and their nonsense.

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Robot Guilliman looking at the tactical map as shown in the Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition trailer

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Image: Games Workshop

The Primarchs and their exploits began as obscure myths and legends, half-baked from a lost age. These characters existed very early in history, and had no real bearing on contemporary gameplay – and their stories were not explicitly told. Prior to Black Library, Games Workshop’s prolific book publishing arm had begun putting out books about these boys. There are now dozens of books in the Horus Heresy series, detailing the adventures of each Primarch.

Various writers at Black Library pulled it off by writing the Horus Heresy series with particularly bad WWE-style fights, or a soap opera with constant gunfights and walking tanks. Many of the primes either look ridiculous, or they blend together in a haze of big men and space battles. Each Primarch also has his own supporting cast of Space Marines, transhuman biosoldiers created from their Primarch’s gene-seed. The Space Marines are the poster boys of the setting, and one of the most iconic parts of 40K, and each army has its own role and function.

If you’re not deep on the lore of the Space Marines and Primarchs, though, this subtlety can be easily lost on the reader. Imperial Fists, Iron Hands and Iron Warriors, for example, each have their own niche – but if you’re interested in reading about the Eldari or Nekron, they all seem like Space Marine palette swaps. (Though if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, there are good resources to help break it down.)

The two sons of the God-Emperor were removed from the record – we don’t know what happened to them, and we’ll never learn, thanks to a series of memory wipes and document burnings – leaving behind eighteen boys to start the Great Crusade Leaving, the Emperor attempts to reunite humanity and take over the entire galaxy. Each of the boys has a gaggle of Space Marine sons, which leads to a recurring spiral of bad father/son relationships. The Emperor went into the basement to work on his projects for a few decades, only appearing once in a while (and making things worse in the process).

But even princes themselves may feel over-represented in the setting. The problem is that a vicious cycle ensues where people love the Primarchs, so more Primarch books are written, which helps build a fan base for the Primarchs. If you’ve been following the stories about the other factions and you’re not a fan of the Space Marines, it can be depressing to realize that every corner of the universe is inundated with the crap of these big sons.

Personally, I used to fall in this camp. I’m still not into the Space Marines as much as they are shown in 40K. But I found myself enthralled, the first time I picked up memories and bits of knowledge about these people – did you know that Fulgrim, the chief of the Emperor’s children, is a giant snake monster whose spirit lingers in the painting for a while. was stuck? Or that Big Bobby G of the Ultramarines once fought twelve hours in space without a helmet, fueled by rage over a brother’s betrayal? — and then delve into the actual stories depicted in print.

Warhammer 40,000: The Demon Primarch Angron stands, arms raised, as his World Eater Chaos Space Marines battle around him.

Image: Games Workshop

In the modern day of 40K, only two loyal sheriffs have returned – Lion L’Jonson and Robot Guilliman. Guilliman’s return in 2017 was a big deal that turned the whole setting upside down, but as time went on, he became less of a hero and more of a garnish on top of the nightmarish pasta that There is the Imperium of Man. Traitor Primarchs make great bosses and great tabletop models, but they’ve already been defeated. They were lost 10,000 years ago, and this means that characters like Angron are more like environmental influences than actual characters.

These characters are prone to overwhelming the setting due to their sheer popularity, but they work best as background figures who make things worse (or at the very least, more complicated) for everyone around them. . They’re also a reminder not to take the setting Very seriously. When characters like the Raven Guard’s Corvus Corex are running around, it’s a charming relic of the old days of 40K, where not everything was so carefully and carefully sanded-down to be cool. I love my Garbage Boys just as they are, heretics and all.

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