The Setting


‘The Great Crusade is finished; the Legions are gone; its warriors, leaders and followers consigned to the annals of history.’

IT IS THE 34TH MILLENNIUM. In the wake of the Great Heresy and the subsequent Scouring, mankind exists in a fragile state of comparative stability. The pillars of Imperial state, headed by the Senatorum Imperalis – the High Lords of Terra, the Voces Imperatoris, masters of the Adeptus Terra – and through them, the whole of the Imperium of Man, stand sure-footed. 

Stability has been hard-won, and remains unsure. Wars continues to wrack the human galaxy; smouldering embers of greater conflicts – most notably the War of the Beast – continually threaten to combine and burst once more into greater threats. The cobweb-thin lines of communication across humanity’s dominion are ever attentuated and strained; and many of its armies gaunt and spent. Even now, thousands of psykers are consumed daily by the deathless Lord of the Imperium; stoking the beacon of the Astronomican. Across the galaxy, the Imperium’s borders are maintained only by the constant sacrifice of millions of women, men and machines.

Nevertheless, it can be reckoned a Golden Age for the Imperium. Headed by the Adeptus Astartes, the Imperial Guard stand ever-ready to face the threats posed by traitors, heretics and aliens. After centuries of intermittent dispute, the Adeptus Mechanicus marches in lock-step with their Terran allies. Likewise, the Astropathic Clades of the Astra Telepathica and the Navigator houses and stand shoulder to shoulder with baseline humanity, guiding and piloting its warriors, merchants and diplomats. For every soldier, sellsword and mercenary in the Imperium’s employ, there are ten thousand bureaucrats, battling against entropy itself through the movement of pen, parchment and dataslate. They have built strata of knowledge; a geology of facts, beneath which the legends and myths of old are smothered. 

Romanticism has no place in the modern Imperium. The Great Crusade is finished; the Legions are gone; its leaders consigned to the annals of history. Seldom have the High Lords been so united; nor has their grip over the Emperor's domains been so firm.

For all the petty wars that rage across the Corpus Imperium, then, the High Lords of Terra are at last assured of a level of stability. The Emperor’s Will, so long in coming, has been made eminently manifest across His domain. The soil of mankind’s domain is ripe for planting. Against this backdrop, disruption is not allowed. The flame of rebellion; of dissent; of visions of another path, are forbidden and brutally repressed. 

Imagine, if you will, the appearance of a figure against this backdrop. A figure of myth, stepping forth from the pages of a forgotten history and offering another path. This is the tale of those times:

The War of the False Primarch




+ Guidance and suggestions +

That you want to be involved in this project is qualification enough. You are welcome to contribute in any way you wish; or simply to sit back and enjoy.

This article takes a closer look at the setting to help you take your first steps on this sister setting to the main Warhammer 40,000 setting of the GW studio. If you haven't read it, an overall outline of the project can be found in this article here

Akin to the Age of Darkness, in which you are invited to explore a particular historical period, in Some Things Are Best Left Forgotten, you are invited to explore an eighty-year period in the Imperium's early history. Much that is familiar to you from the 41st Millennium exists here, but there are some stark differences. These are outlined below, to help guide you.

A proviso, before you explore. This project takes as its central themes the nature of truth, lies and memory – and as a result there are no certainties. This makes the setting peculiarly well-suited to contradictions, mistakes and misdirection. Bear in mind, as you plan, that everything you have been told is a lie

[//Agents of the Pentarchy: Red Talon – the Chapter's disposition led to their leading role in the Latter Jiam Clearances towards the closing stages of the War. +]

+ The state of the Imperium +

The Time of Rebirth – the era that followed the Emperor's internment in the Golden Throne – has long passed. We find ourselves in the Time of Forging:

'Known to latter-day Imperial historians as the Golden Age of the Imperium, this period saw the Adeptus Terra bring the most important human-settled star systems of the galaxy that had not been reached by the Great Crusade under Imperial control and expanded the interstellar borders of the Imperium. Internal stability was gained with the establishment of Astropath Choirs on countless worlds, with major hubs established on the best-garrisoned Imperial worlds, including Armageddon, Bakka and Macragge. This allowed a reliable network of interstellar superluminal communication to function using the power of an Astropath's telepathy to send and receive messages across light years.

'The Emperor, always an object of veneration, only increased his devoted following of worshippers after being joined to the Golden Throne. The centralised religious body known as the Ecclesiarchy, has been the official state religion of the Imperium and the title of Adeptus Ministorum. The seat reserved for the Ecclesiarch has recently been made permanent within the ranks of the Senatorum Imperialis.'

Against this galactic backdrop, we go closer; to a section of the Segmentum Pacificus. Owing to its sheer size, the Imperium of Man defies easy comparison to modern maps – political structures do not neatly match the events unfolding.

However, the High Lords' astrocartography is still useful, if only as a metaphor. This relict-map of a portion of the Segmentum Pacificus – rimwards and to the galactic north-east of the Segmentum fleet base of Hydraphur – reveals the two principal sectors that we are examining.

Sectors Heliopolis and Morqub are in themselves vast regions, each encompassing many hundreds of inhabited systems. We will investigate those more closely in future articles. For the moment, however, it is enough to know that it is from these, and neighbouring sectors, that rumours have surfaced of a being claiming to be a Primarch – one of the near-mythological generals and gene-sons of the Emperor himself. 

Such a fact is not unusual. False messiahs and apocalyptic hoaxes are commonplace across the Imperium. What is unusual is the fact that such rumours show no sign of stopping; that increasing numbers of reports, from increasingly senior staff, are finding their way to the twelve High Lords themselves. These dread missives report that alongside substantial portions of Sector shipping and planetary populaces; more than a hundred Imperial Commanders – and most fearfully of all – four previously-loyal Chapters of the Imperium have pledged themselves to this being's service.


[//Unidentified Battle Psyker in combat with posit:ID 'Astartes: Silver Stars'.+]
[//Vid-captlink embed: Choreopsis Theatre. Current whereabouts unknown+]


+ The structure of the Imperium, and how it affects you +

Broadly speaking, you're free to produce whatever you want. So stunted and reactionary is the Imperium of the 41st Millennium that most political groupings – Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Astropaths, the Adeptus Mechanicus – extant then exist in some form. 

Conversely some groups, like the Solar Auxilia, that are extinct by M41, might still be around in some changed form in this period.

The fun is in the details, however, so here are a few notes that might help you make some decisions:

Adeptus Ministorum

  • With a millennium of history behind it, the Ecclesiarchy is well-established. However, it is only relatively recently that the Adeptus Ministorum has secured a permanent position on the Senatorum Imperialis, so the High Lord him or herself might well be keen to flex his or her power.
  • With Goge Vandire lying some time in the future, the Order Passive has not yet been signed. The Adepta Sororitas thus do not yet exist, but the Frateris Templars are a rich source of inspiration.

Imperial Guard and Navy

  • These are as varied and individual in M34 as in any other period. You can happily explore the Guard as you wish; simply substituting the Aquila standard for the partisan forces' Caputmori symbol.
  • Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of regiments were shipped in as part of the High Lords' Extinction Forces.
  • The Solar Auxilia still nominally represent the High Lords, but have slowly but surely been finding themselves sidelined and relegated in favour of the relatively new Tempestus Scions.

Space Marines

  • The Adeptus Astartes have gone through at least Four Foundings; and the Eighth founding lies in the future. Marks V, VI and VII armour are the most common.
  • The Partisan Chapters – the eleven mentioned in GW's original background for the War of the False Primarch – for this project have been selected and named; but that doesn't mean you can't have your marines following the Returned Primarch as part of the Partisan movement. Segmentum Pacificus makes up a fifth of the Imperium, so there's likely circa two hundred Chapters represented there. A few ideas for how you might integrate them:
    • Smaller groups of otherwise Orthodox Chapters have decided to side with the Reformed Imperium of the Partisans.
    • Individual marines have broken from their Chapters, joining the Primarch's forces
    • Your Chapter sided with the Primarch; upon destruction, their colours and name were re-used in the future by an otherwise unrelated Chapter.
    • Or simply your Chapter was stricken from the records more thoroughly than the others!
  • Orthodox marines – those that follow the High Lords and stability – are much easier to include; as part of the Vigilants, a short-lived Militant Order of the Inquisition's Ordo Astartes. Operating like the recently-founded Deathwatch, the Vigilants will receive a future article. If you're champing at the bit to build one, then they are marked out simply by an element of their armour – usually the helm – being painted red, with a yellow and black band running down the centre.

The Inquisition

  • The ideal of restoring the Emperor to the Imperium in mortal form was at the heart of the Inquisition's formation, but by this point that aim has long since been subsumed under a thousand thousand warring philosophies.
  • The Ordos familiar to the 41st Millennium do not necessarily exist in the same form. The Ordo Hereticus was explicitly formed later, for example, and so while there are likely anti-heretic Inquisitors, they do not enjoy the same tacit official support.
  • The Ordo Astartes – those Inquisitors tasked with monitoring the Space Marines – are a powerful force at this period, when the wounds of the Heresy are still relatively fresh. The Ordo Astartes seek to mollify and moderate the influence of the Astartes over humanity, preventing events like the Beheading and avoiding explicit Astartes intervention in events like those of M32.646, when Agnathio of the Ultramarines convened fifty Chapters to restructure the High Lords.

[//posit:ID 'Astartes: Argent Heralds'.+]
[//Vid-captlink embed: Shield-world of Myrea.+]


These examples merely scratch the surface. If you want to explore the setting from the point of view a slime farmer on a backwater station on Cmit Black; or gather a force of opportunistic ork mercenaries from the Heliopolian Void, it can all fit in.

More such ideas will doubtless emerge during the course of the project, so please do leave notes in the comments if you have a great idea or want to add your thoughts. Otherwise, best of luck, and look forward to seeing your work.

[//Thought for the day: The loyal slave learns to love the lash+]