So how is it, in my opinion? Variable, like you'd expect. It has very good stuff and some not so good stuff. On the whole, I'd say that plot and arc wise it did a better job than its Star Wars equivalents have, and many of the books in the series are pretty good. And even some of the worst books (like Battle for the Abyss) can still be pretty fun as a popcorn read if nothing else (although its clearly filler.)
Some of the good things about the series are the way they have expanded on the historical past of the Horus heresy, filling out that time, giving us a glimpse into that mythic time. Of course, that has drawbacks too, since if you de-mythify stuff it loses some of its impact. The Series has tried to fix that too, I think - things like the Perpetuals, the nature of the Warp and 'Saint Keelor', The Watchers on Caliban, the Cabal, etc. Whether or not they keep the 'mystry' is up for debate, as they are still seting things up, but I know in reading it I have questions. The contrasts between the 'old' and the 'new' with the Imperium, how the Emperor influences things, and whether or not the Imperium really is the Great Place of Rationality it makes itself out to be is handled well, and many authors have done a good job of putting a sympathetic angle on the 'Heresy' side of things (although Chaos still mucks it up something fierce.)
We're still mostly inundated with a shit-ton of Space Marine crap despite that, although the Primarch stuff moderates that and excuses it, but I find myself wanting more novels like Mechanicum and Nemesis, where we deal with parts of the Imperium SEPARATE from Space Marines. Indeed novels like Legion almost feel like the Space Marines are tacked on - they feel more like an IG novel.
I understand that some people tend to have objections to the portrayals of Primarchs and Space MArines in this series (esp Abnett) - to which I can only say, I have no problems. If someone wants to vent why they do, I'd be happy to hear it in this thread.
I'll be starting off the series with Horus Heresy the Collected Visions, which we could think of as being the sort of 'framework' for the entire HH series - it lays down alot of the ground for what is to come, although it doesn't correspond 100% (which is not a bad thing) and there is still lots of that 'sandbox' atmosphere that 40K amanges in its fiction and STar Wars never quite seemed to grasp.
So here we go. I figure two updates for HHCV and then we'll actually start on the series proper. I have LOTS of catching up to do!
Triumphs are raised on a million worlds to record the epic deeds of his most powerful and deadly warriors
Million world Imperium.
The Space Marines are the mightiest human warriors the galaxy has ever known. Each one is capable of besting a hundred normal men in combat.
Space marines can beat 100 men in combat. Whether this is all at once or in sequence (or osmthing in between) we dont know.
Organised into vast armies of tens of thousands called legions, the Space Marines and their Primarch leaders now rule the galaxy in the name of the Emperor.
One definition for Legion size. The series puts a different spin on it later on though.
He is the Warmaster, the commander-in-chief of all the Emperor's miiitary might, the subjugator of a thousand thousand worlds and conqueror of the galaxy
thousand thousand worlds = 1 million.
It was the Emperor who unlocked the potential of the Navigators and enabled humanity to travel vast distances through the warp without peril.
Interesting comment considering other sources have noted Navigators existed since the DAoT or earlier. It is possible "unlocking the potential" means setting up the Astronomican and other standardized means of navigating (various devices) to make it faster safer and more accurate.
His precognitive powers are fading; the pressure to maintain the galaxy-wide signal of the Astronomican grows daily; the future has become clouded and dark.
One possible reason for the Empy's failure to predict the consquences of his actions or the Heresy.. the AStronomican was either a distraction or a weakenning influence.. although how he could be doing everything he did in general in addition to the Astronomican is poorly understood (or inconsistnetly applied.)
Now is the time for him to order the fabrication of the psy-Engines and Occullum Test Stations; the devices that will search out the latent psyker genes within the populace.
Technologies used to hunt down psykers. I dont know if there is just one device that scours the galaxy on its own, or if such devices are spread throughout the Imperium to be used by its agents to hunt down psykers. Test stations at least seem to be the latter, some osrt of physical examination. Psyk engines could be like that Scientology "testing" Mandatory testing could be part of Imperial law.
From out of this doom a powerful leader emerged. He was the Emperor and his power lay in his rationality and foresight. Few suspected him of being the mutant he was. The Emperor conquered great swathes of the Earth and instituted many social changes. Out went fear and blind faith, in came practicality and rationality. The Emperor started to experiment with genetics to stabilise the population and to recreate the race of mankind as it was before the radiation storms.
He's a "mutant" in the sense he's a psyker, an abnormally powerful one, but psykers are still often considered a mutation of sorts.
We also learn that the Emperor did a fair bit of genetic engineering on the human races post war, either to correct certain flaws or damages, or possibly to nehance things (like he did with Thunder Warriors.) The Chiliad might be an example of this.
Worlds infected with warp creatures were cleansed with powerful virus bombs and Vortex missiles in apocalyptic orbital barrages.
This has been mentioned before in Tales of Heresy, although not that vortex weapons were used (warp weapons to destroy warp creatures.. lol) Maybe they reference psycho-electric or wahtever those weapons from Descent of angels were. Vortex missiles might banish or destroy warp creatures whilst virus bombs destroy the physical matter - a one-two punch.
PAge 12 - Emperor's Children lascannon.. shoulder mounted seems to have a backpack power source.
The Great Crusade was a mammoth operation involving millions of troops and thousands of ships Imperial armies fought campaigns across the broad sweep of the galaxy. Tens of thousands of human worlds needed to be saved.
The Imperial military of this time comprised the entire force of Space Marine legions, hundreds of auxilary regiments drarwn from the freshly reconqured worlds, gigantic war machines supplied by the Mechanicum and their Forge Worlds....
Scope of the Great Crusade. Sufficed to say its an under-statement unless itw as something like "hundreds of legions per fleet or legion"
Interesting is that the Mechanicum is implied to have some forge worlds other than Mars at this time, and they contributed equipment and supplies to the war effort, despite the fact some sources say Mars alone carried the burden.
The Emperor sat at the head of the [War] Council; at his right hand was Malcador. Each of the Primarchs had a seat on the Council, as did the chief custodian. When the Emperor made his alliance with Mars the fabricator-general of the Mechanicum was offered a seat. Supporting the council was a team of astropaths who provided communication between the members since it became increasingly impractical for the group to physically assemble given the size of the growing Imperium and the inherent difficulties of travel through the warp.
The War council. Primarily military forces, except for the Fabricator General and MAlcador. The astorpathic contingent suggested realtime or near-realtime communication across the galaxy for "meetings" but that is largely conjecture.
Malcador was an exception. He was not a warrior but a man of learning with the bearing of a priest. From the early years of the Battle of Unification he was ever present at the Emperor's side. His origins were unknown to all save perhaps the Emperor. He wore the hooded robes of a simple Terran administrator.
Malcador was appointed to run the Emperor's Palace and through it he managed the administration of newly conquered Terra. As the Crusade progressed Malcador's power and influence grew as he became overseer of the Imperial Tithe and chief of the Imperial Adminstration
Blessed with unnaturally long life there were many rumors about the true nature of this enigmatic figure. Some say he was a psyker, the first to have undergone the soul-binding ritual. Other rumours say that he was distantly related to the Emperor.
Malcador the Sigillite. For better or worse, the Emperor's right hand man, especially on the nonmilitary side of things. As we learn he ran the administration as well as the assassin side of things. While its doubftul he ever did anything without the knowledge or consent of the Emperor to some degree, its quite possible that Empy's reliance on him did create some problems, since much of the conflict the Primarchs felt stemmed from the administrative side of things, especially as his influence grew.
Page 15 - Emperor's Children jetbikes.
The early Space Marines were organised into regiments, each comprising no more than a few hundred warriors. The Emperor named each one of the twenty regiments.
By the time Earth was totally under the Emperor's control each of the legions could muster several thousand warriors.
The Growth of space marines from regiments into legions, from hundreds to thousands.
Page 23 - Another Devastator group, with lascannon except these seem to be hand-carried rather than shoulder mounted (sort of like na oversized lasgun.) Again backpack-mounted power pack.
During Earth's isolation in the Age of Strife the Emperor was already planning ahead. ln preparation for the reconquest of the galaxy he conceived of and created the twenty Primarchs. These extraordinary chatacters were to be his generals - great leaders who would conquer millions of worlds in his name. Each Primarch would have powers and skills beyond those of any other human, possibly rivalling those of the Emperor himself.
PRimarchs only potentially rivalled the Emperor. given that Primarchs in the HH series are depicted as reflecting various aspects of the Emperor (EG Magnus his psychic power) it's likely the Primarchs matched the Emperor only in certain areas, and were weaker elsewhere - except for MAgnus none of them were really psykers.
Also they conquered "millions" of worlds in his name
A strange warp vortex snatched the still foetal Primarchs from the Emperor's laboratory and cast them across the galaxy. Each Primarch was cast onto separate worlds whrere they matured.
The scattering of the primarchs. as we know this was Chaos' doing.
Some say that the Primarchs were created from the Emperor's own genetic stock, each engineered to be a leader of men, a warrior and a hero, each a mighty warlord whose martial prowess is only matched by his charisma and mental prowess, each with special powers that set them apart from normal men.
We never get strong clarification of these "powers", aside from the strength and durability and charisma, but they all seemed to have that to varying degrees. Some were obvious (sanguinius flight nad prophecy, Curze having prophecy... Magnus being psychic, etc.) Others aren't so obvious.
What was the mysterious force that scattered the infant Primarchs across the galaxy? The few records that exist of this event are vague and unclear. Tradition has it that it was a warp vortex - a swirling maelstrom that opens a portal or doorway between distant planets.
It was Chaos.
The Space Marines are not the only super-warriors created by the Emperor. The first group of genetically and psychologically modified troops he created were his own personal bodyguard - the Custodian Guard. Their duty was simply to ensure the safety of the Emperor at all times.
Stronger than a Space Marine, the Custodian is a fearsome warrior and has an unbreakable devotion to the Emperor. They are his most loyal and trusted servants. A detachment of the Guard always accompanies the Emperor, even when he retires to his private chambers.
Technically the Thunder warriors were first, but I imagine the Custodians were second. Then the AStartes. The whole "is a Custodian better than a Space Marine" is up in the air depending on source or author.. sometimes the difference is obvious, sometimes it isn't. May depend on gear, Custodian, etc.
The Custodian Guard is organised in a simiIar fashion to the Space Marines. The main difference between the Guard and a Marine Legion is the size of the formation, the Custodians numbering but a thousand warriors.
The Custodians have access to all of the myriad types of weaponry and wargear that are used by the Space Marines, including transport and fighting vehicles. They also have access to the Emperor's personal transports and battleships so that they can always be at his side.
In addition to the Marines' wargear the Custodian Guard also has access to a variety of weapons only they can use. An example is the Guardian Speara, combination of bolt gun and power axe, which is the standard armament for a Custodian Guard squad.
There are (supposedly) only a thousand Custodians now. Rather a shrinkage since, IIRC there were 10,000+ Custodians back when. Custodians also get some very neat shit.. like hover versions of Rhinos. The Emperor himself also seems to have personal transports and battleships (as do the Custodes.) though we rarely see them.. we've seen the Emperor's personal starship a few times (Mechanicum, Descent of Angels, etc.)
The galaxy is a big place and travel through the warp is at best unpredictable. Time flows strangely in the Immaterium and communications are the biggest problem of the fledgling Imperium. As the Great Crusade progressed a new class of human psyker was slowly introduced to the reconquered worlds - the astropath. Even so, messages transmitted by them through the warp are not certain to arrive at their destination, nor are they sure to be correctly interpreted if they do. There was no practical way to institute galactic-wide rule of the human worlds.
Astrootelepathy. And there is no practical way to govern or administer the Imperiunm - as laways they just muddle along as best they can.
Newly conquered worlds are therefore handed to the rule of the Imperial Commanders. Some of these new leaders are military men rewarded for their service by being given a planet to rule in the Emperor's name. Others are the indigenous rulers of worlds who now swear allegiance to the Emperor
Imperlal Commanders have important responsibilities They are expected to pay tithes to the Emperor by way of supplying troops and materials. They must provide shelter and succour for his armies and fleets They must cleanse their population of mutation, specifically psykers. They are told to expect great black ships to visit them and transport their psykers to Earth. This is the Imperial Tithe.
Origins and responsibilities of Imperial commanders. Not much different from modern times, although in the Crusade ERa they were just starting to set up the tithing/taxation scheme at the start of the series.
Daemons were not recognised at this time but it is doubtful if any could make the distinction between a daemon, an alien or a monstrously mutated human in any case.
Which only begs the question fo why knowledge of Daemons was suppressed, since ignorance was what best served their purposes.
Some worlds immediately venerated the Emperor. This was especially true on the many worlds that had developed myths and prophesies that spoke o ftheir deliverance from evil by the 'Emperor of the Stars'. The demagogues of Terra were quick to fan the religious flames. The stronger the Emperor denied his divinity the more strident were their demands that he should embrace it.
The origins of Imperial religion. One has to wonder at the origins of those myths and prophecies. Did they have roots in pre-Imperium terra in some distant past? Psychic divination?
Page 33 - Emperor's Children with hand flamers.
The Warp is a separate or parallel dimension of energy that co-exists with the material world. Every point in space and time in the material world or true space has an analogous reference point in the complex energy pattern of the Warp.
Where the material world is a place with familiar physical laws and the steady march of time, the Warp is a place of anarchic, random energy. This energy swirls and oozes and is subject to eddies, currents and tides. The energy of the Warp is distorted by massive shocks that reverberate through the Warp - these are commonly referred to as Warp-storms. Time flows strangely in the Warp if it flows at all.
Human scientists discovered that a spacecraft could enter the Warp from one point in true space and after a few days travel leave it at another point, light-years distant from the first. By using the Warp in such a way a vessel can traverse the galaxy, journeys that at sub-light speed would take generations to complete can be accomplished in a few months.
The warp defined, with its usual analogies. Depending on where the "points in space" begins and ends, you might get only a few hundred c (a few LY) to hundreds of thousands of c (a few thousand LY). The second one is implied to be a bit more better, as it suggests travelling across the galaxy in a few months, which is consistent with speeds we get in most of the HH novels (100-120K LY in 2-3 months is between 400,000 and 700,000c)
Ships in Warp space do not navigate as such, but move from one energy stream to another, cruising the flow of energy until they reach their jump point back into true space. Short trips through the Warp, whilst by no means safe, can be made with a degree of reliability and precision. Longer jumps are unpredictable and very dangerous.
The tides of the Warp move in complex and inconsistent patterns; ships attempting long journeys often end up wildly off course or are lost permanently within its complex weave. Furthermore, such vessels may suffer bizarre time shifts. It is not unknown for ships to arrive years after or even years before, they had originally planned.
Warp-storms and other disturbances within the Ether can block navigation completely. Ships must simply avoid such regions or be lost forever or be destroyed by the rampant energy of the maelstrom. This means that it is impossible to reach some points in the material world through the Warp. A world may be cut off for days, weeks or centuries. During the Age of Strife, massive Warp-storms shook the entire Immaterium, preventing any inter-stellar navigation for the best part of five millennia.
Travel through the warp. I gather the energy "streams" are the currents that push through, and that it means that starships are pushed along by the currents (or victim to, precisely). The danger and unpredictability however become there are often numerous, different and even conflicting currents of varying strength, all acting on the craft randomly. Couple that with the way the distortion of time and space can vary in the warp, and it's easy to understand why it is so hard to navigate. The warp storm bit is pretty self-explanatory.
It is widely recognised that there is a link between the Warp and psychic powers. Psykers have a special affinity to the Warp and can interpret some of its energies. These revelations most often take the form of visions and dreams. Few realise that the energy of the Warp is the well from whlch all psykers draw their powers.
It is also widely known that the Warp is home to predatory monsters collectively referred to as Warp-creatures. These ravening beasts prey on the unwary psykers who commune with the Warp too frequently and on those whose Warp-ships are becalmed within the energy weave.
Psychic powers and the connection to the warp. Precog in 40K involves "reading" the currents basically. Since the Warp is the nexus of all thoughts, emotions, actions, etc. of people, and because it can transcend time and space, it is possible to "read" either the past or the present - the Eldar novels explain it better with farseeing and the 'skein', but for now it's sufficient to note that the accuracy of precog depends on the ability of the psyker to read and interpret the dreams correctly, which can be distorted by the same factors that affect everything else with the warp (psychic powers, warp travel, astrotelepathy, etc.)
Also warp creatures are a general category - which seems to include both warp based xenos like enslavers a well as daemons. You have to wonder why the Emperor hid this knowledge at all if that was just the case.
Many of these people possess only minor, apparently harmless, talents such as preternatural luck with games of chance or the ability to see moments ahead in time. Such skills are for the most part benign but there are other more dangerous talents enjoyed by human psykers. The ability to move objects with the mind, to create fires, to call down lightning from the sky or to dominate other human minds are just a few of the many skills these people can use.
Some psykers are driven mad by precognitive dreams and visions. Others find their talents uncontrollable and wreak terrible damage on themselves and the people around them. Because of this many psykers are treated as witches and executed or banished into exile.
It's probably a good thing that most humans have onyl minor psychic talents, since it keeps one from going crazy. I wonder if this majority is included in the usual human-psyker ratios? Probably. It might mean (for example) that the 1 per 1 million is truly useful psykers, while the 1-2 per 100,000 (from Faith and Fire) is for psykers in general. Which means that 9 out of 10 psykers have no significant power.
Unfortunately the warp is home to terrible creatures, unfathomable horrors who desire only to corrupt and destroy. Psykers accessing the warp through their talents inevitably attract the attention of these beasts. The greater the energy being channelled the gteater the attraction is.
Only the very strong willed are able to resist the attentions of the creatures of the warp and even then only for a short time, only the Emperor himself appears immune. Eventually the warp entities will be able to secure a foothold in true space, usually at the expense of the pysker's life. For a brief time the warp cteature is able to survive in true space by possessing the pysker's body. Dreadful physical changes usually accompany this possession as the creature tries to mold the flesh into something that parodies its form in the warp.
These vile monstrosities have only a short time before the body they possess is leached of all of its life force. During this time they will invariably embark on an orgy of destruction. Some creatures of the warp are more cunning and will inveigle themselves into human society keeping secret their true nature for as long as possible. Usually they are seeking to nurture other psykers so that they can simply possess each in turn and maintain a presence in true space.
The most powerful and dangerous of all of the denizens ofthe warp are the daemons of Chaos. Only a handful of people, if any, are aware of their existence. If the Emperor knows he thinks it better to keep such dangerous knowledge to himself. He would understand that knowledge of such creatures would drive humanity to madness and anarchy.
The Chaos daemons are intelligent, cunning and malicious in the extreme. They are cruel reflections of the baser human emotions and so are expert at manipulating weak-minded psykers. They promise great power and riches but typically any pact agreed with a daemon serves only them. Unlike the other denizens of the warp the daemons have a greater purpose, each is in thrall to a more powerful daemon and all daemons pay homage to one of the four Great Powers - the Chaos Gods Nurgle, Khorne, Tzeentch and Slaanesh.
The risks of possession - the baisc inverse relationship between tapping psychic power and drawing the attention of a warp creature, and the limits of possession.
The really interesting thing about the quote is that it suggests the defining trait that sets daemons apart from other warp creatures is the way they are psychic "gestalts" - eg thralls to more powerful warp creatures (EG the Chaos gods).
This special corps of interstellar communicators was created by the Emperor during the final months of the conquest of Earth.
For the most part the Emperor did not favour the use of psychic talents, even in the early days he was aware of the dangers they held for those using them and for humanity at large. However, he was able to identify those pyskers strong enough to withstand the temptations of the warp and so with some prudence certain psykers were employed in a variety of special roles.
An astropath is an astro-telepath, an individual capable of communicating with others of his kind over vast interstellar distances. This is an essential talent in a time when worlds are light years apart and the only practical way for the Imperium to maintain any semblance of unitly
The Emperor's role and need for psykers.
All astropaths undergo a special process that moulds their powers and at the same time strengthens them against psychic danger. This is called the soul-binding ritual and only the Emperor is able to perform it.
The soul-binding takes place in the Imperial Palace, where psykers are led before the Emperor one hundred at a time. Knelt before the Emperor they must endure terrible agony whilst the Emperor uses his power to reshape theit minds - mingling an infinitesimal portion of his own power with theirs.
Unfortunately, the Emperor's mind is so powerful that not all of the candidates survive this ritual. Some are driven insane, and all have their personalities altered to some degree. The raw energy of the Emperor's will also has another effect, so powerful are the forces involved that many of the more delicate nerves can be damaged, especially the optic nerves. Consequently, all astropaths are blind, while many also lack a sense of smell, touch or hearing.
Soul binding. It's not *quite* true that only the Emperor can do this - any powerful warp creature can. What soul binding is, after all, is just creating a permanant psychic connection between two entities, enabling power to be shared (usually one way, but it probably does go both ways.) In the case of the Emperor, he is bestowing a fraction of his power onto an astropath to bolster his own power, as well as a portion of his resilience against the warp. It's actually just a variation on sorcery, which is when daemons give a human with or without psychic powers a "safe" channel for using the warp through themselves. Expressing it in those terms, of course, woudl be heretical, but its still accurate.
You have to wonder where the Emperor found all the time to soul bind astropaths. Assuming he could only do it once every hour he'd only have bound a few million over the centuries. Even once per minute wouldn't change it that much. He'd have to be binding 100 or so every second... well you get the idea... and this still requires centuries to pull it off.
There must be more to it, and he must be able to do it whilst doing other things. The Emperor - psychic multitasker!
Before expanding the Great Crusade to the stars beyond Sol, the Emperor ordered the construction of the Astronomican on Earth. Huge numbers of techpriests were brought from Mars to oversee the project and the majority of the Terran population were drafted to construct the towering machinebuilding.
The Astronomican was built by Mars.
The psychic navigational beam from the Astronomican cuts through the warp and those attuned to its unique frequencies and modulations, the Navigators, are able to use it as a point of reference when calculating journeys therein. Using this beacon they can plot a course that lasts days rather than weeks or months rather than years.
The astronomican has "frequencies" and modulations which Navigators are especially sensitive to. This probably could account for why other psykers could still "sort of" see it (like astropaths or Librarians. Or Gabriel Angelos) - it would just mean they couldn't see it nearly as well as the Navigators themselves. Of course one then asks "well why not use a frequency all psykers could read" to simplify navigation?" My best guess would be that the frequencies of the warp "stuff" affect its ability to penetrate the warp - much as the frequencies of a laser can affect its ability to penetrate matter (EG x-rays or gamma rays penetrating much better than IR or UV rays) - the Emperor would logically want the best "penetration" of the Warp he could get, and it would be only Navigators (or perhaps sorcerors) who have the right psychic equipment to detect the warp. Other psykers (astropaths, Librarians, etc.) can still be used to navigate, of course.
Likely this is what astropathic relays and beacons mentioned in BFG are meant to do as well - they project smaller "beacons" duplicating the Astronomican, but perhaps on different frequencies and with considerably less range. Hell there's lots of ways you could do this (EG the Eisenstein detonating its warp drive could provide similar.) We know the Tyranids use something similar to home in on target worlds (Genestealers or other vanguard forms). You probably could make portable beacons (as hinted at in the Dawn of War novels) but thier use would be limited by their stationary nature (EG as a reference point and something to fix on.)
For those of you who are bored by what I said the simple version is: FTL works similar to the Honorverse or age of sail travel (eg routes, currents, waves/tides which helps explain the predictability chartist captains use to navigate without navigators) but with some submarine/naval analogues like sonar and shit.
also the approximate difference between Navigator and non-navigator travel seems to be within an order of magnitude or two (days instead of weeks, months instead of years) depending on interpretation. That fits with my rough ideas (hundreds to thousands of c for inter sector travel, especially by Charitsts, whilst travel between sectors or segmentums can be tens or hundreds of thousands of c easily.)
The Astronomican shines through the warp, a beacon of energy that the Navigators can see and thence use as a guide as they chart their journeys across the galaxy. The beam is powered by the psychic energies of the Emperor himself, though few are aware of this. Despite this it is often referred to as his Divine Light or Light of the Emperor.
The Astronomican is mainly a reference point (as are the astropathic beacons, warp signatures of inhabited planets, and the like) for figuring out location and orientation in the warp and (hopefully) offset the disrupting effects of time/space dilation/contraction and currents.
An interesting implication of the past two quotes can explain a recent odditiy I uncovered in reading the ADB Night Lords books - it wsa noted that the Astronomican's use can be "detected" - the Night Lords avoid using it because it would give away their presence - which could be explained as anyone attmepting to absorb or tap into that beacon to navigate would "bounce" some of that psychic energy off themselves, which could be picked up and detected (psychic radar.) Heck, we know that the astronomican could be tapped that way in Mecahnicum. You probably could even tap the beacon to "bounce" the AStronomican (or other psychic) signals around to pierce the gloom in a radar (or sonar) like fashion - see what it reflects off of. I love those ocean/naval analogies.
The current Astronomican is powered by thousands (tens of thousands) of lesser psykers, giving us an idea of the Emperor's power. I guess Empy's warp connection was cut off in that way, or something.
The Astronomican is not the sole means of navigating great distances through the warp. If he desires, the Emperor, with some effort, is able to project a signal into the Ether that the Navigators or other attuned psykers can perceive. A journey that would otherwise take many months to complete can be accomplished in days or hours if directed in such a fashion.
In a similar way the Emperor is able to shut down the Astronomican or interrupt the beam. Only a handful of individuals know that the great signal is powered by the Emperor's psychic powers. They live in fear that should he be disabled or killed, the galaxy would be plunged tnto a new Age of Strife.
Good old Empy has final control over aspects of the beam. To use the radar/radio analogy, this is a directed "pulse" which I suspect fixes a specific location. Telemetry sort of - the Emperor knows where the ship (or fleet) has to go, and uses his powers to help them directly stay on course. It's more active than the passive "lighthouse beacon" of the AStronomican though, so it probably has more limits and tradeoffs (can only handle a limited number of ships at one time, can't maintain it for long, etc.)
The benefit of this is greatly increased warp speed - tens at least, if not hundreds or even thousands of times faster warp travel - I guess navigation is one of the main limiting factors on travel speed, which makes sense. For context - "Months" long journeys are the one that cover segmentum distances usually (2nd edition IG codex, HH series, RT RPG - eg 10,000+c) or a good chunk of the whole galaxy. I like this because it helps explain certain otherwise "outlier" calcs (EG Gabriel angelos crossing a segmentum in only a few days - given his "episodes" seeing the Astronomican we could chalk it up to him being blessed or favored by Empy for some reason.
I would also speculate that Astropaths can probably pull this off too, to a lesser degree. We know they can "track" people through the warp by placing part of themselves in them (beacons), and we know they can scry/observe events from far away. If Astropath relays can act as weaker, more local "beacons" then I expect they might also perform the "active" function to similer, albeit lesser, degrees. In theory, at least.
The Navigators are an ancient strain of human. They have lived amongst humans since the days even before the Age of Strife. It is not known how the Navigators first came into existence though some suspect the hand of the Emperor. Navigators are a special form of human variation or mutant. They must intermarry to breed true and each one is a member of a large interrelated family or House.
Navigators bear a special gene that allows them to see through the warp and hence guide a vessel as it attempts to plot a course in that otherworldly dimension. A human ship without a Navigator to guide it would be quickly lost in the maelstrom of currents never to return. Even so their natural ability only enables them to chart relatively short journeys through the warp with any degree of certainty.
However, Navigators are attuned to the special frequencies and modulation of the Astronomican. Navigators can perceive the beam across huge tracts of warpspace. This 'fixed point' allows them to calculate journeys in the warp with much greater accuracy and so enable them to guide vessels on much longer journeys than they would otherwise be able to do.
Simple version: Navigators are so special because their eye gives them the ability to "see" through the warp the best of any psyker (like having eyes that can pierce the dark or fog, or see in IR or UV.) Some predictive/precognitive ability, and the ability to make out other possible landmarks (stars, inhabited systmes., etc - all things which for some reason or antoher have a
relfection on the warp) through the haze of the warp also explain this.
Again the modulation thing. I suspect there may be artificial means of doing this - FFG material mentions DAoT artificial devices which greatly extended warp travels in a way similar to navigators, which the Navigators themselves try to suppress to maintain their own importance.
As the Great Crusade unfolded there were psykers, in addition to the astropaths and the Navigators, who were deemed strong enough to be allowed to operate freely within the Imperium. Great black ships had been ordered to visit each human world and return to earth with their cargo of psykers. Stringent testing ensured that the weak-willed or insane psykers could be isolated and dealt with. These were generally lobotomised and set to work as menials.
The more stable and strong-willed of the psykers were then apportioned to various Imperium organisations. The majority was sent to the Emperor's Palace to undergo the soul-binding ritual that would render them astropaths. Others were enlisted by the Space Marine legions to be trained in their new Iibrarius departments. Some psykers found themselves in the employ of other more secret Imperial organisations.
Lobotomised psykers. not the first time we've heard of this (the novel Blind, for example as well as various other sources I've mentioned in the past.) I wonder if they did mundane tasks or they had some special psychci roles?
The black ships were operated by the Astro-Telepathica, the Imperial organisation that tested psykers. The vast majority of pyskers who were transported back to Terra were destined to undergo the soul-binding ritual. The lucky few that survived this would be enlisted in the corps of astropaths.
Amongst the crews of the black ships were the mysterious warrior-investigators known as the Sisters of Silence. The Sisters were recruited from the ranks of the Untouchables - rare human variants who are psychic blanks. The Untouchables are anathema to psykers, who find it difficult to be close to them. Their presence disrupts psychic abilities and they are apparently immune to telepathy and the like. The Sisters are able to identify hidden psykers and have the means to fight and contain them if necessary.
Untouchables - the Silent Sisters. One wonders what happened to male untouchables. We learn that they can detect as well as disrupt psykers (As we saw in Tales of Heresy.) I have to wonder if the Sisterhood works under the auspices of the Astro-Telepathica too? If they do, they probably represented his wildcard against betrayal from that avenue, given their absolute loyalty to Big E.
For thousands of years the planet of Mars has been ruled by the strange caste of tech-priests known as the Mechanicum or the Cult Mechanicus, worshippers of the mysterious Machine God. This religious sect rose to dominance on Mars during the early centuries of the Age of Strife. The entire planet became devoted to the study and manufacture of machines of every conceivable type and function.
To this end theu periodically dispatched great vessels into the warp in hope that some clues would be found. These were the Explorator fleets of Mars. Over the centuries thousands of such expeditions left Mars, many founded new colonies that were to become the Forge Worlds, others were simply lost for all time.
We know in modern times there are forge worlds.. this certainly implies there were potentialyl thousands of Forge worlds. At the time of the Crusade, they had founded (or discovered) only a small number of these - indeed, the Fabricator General was rather miffed at Big E because of this slow progress - he wanted to reclaim Mars great empire.
When the Emperor rose to power on Earth the tech-priests of Mars recognised a kindred spirit. The Emperor was to them a man of science who valued the machine and technological advancement. As word filtered back to Mars some tech-priests even began to equate the Emperor with their own Machine God in fufillment of ancient prophesies.
The Emperor forged an alliance with the Mechanicum. ln return for supplying materials for his armies and building a mighty warfleet for his crusade to the stars, the Emperor promised to protect the tech-priests and respect the sovereignty of their Forge Worlds. Furthermore the Emperor gave to the service of the Mechanicum six of the Houses of the Navigators, to replace their long dead thrall Navigators so that their ships might once again travel safely through the warp.
A bit more complicated than that, if we believe the FAbricator Generla in Mechanicum. He saw it as a mutual alliance, and believed or expected Big E to provide him aid in reclaiming the AdMech Empire in return for industrial and technological aid. This seems to imply a more optimistic intepretation (willing vassals and acolytes). This may be revisionist, but Kelbor-Hal is hardly an unbiased observer either.
We also know tht the Emperor was not universeally hailed as the Omnissiah reborn - AdMech still debated over that even up to the point of the Heresy, again according to Mechanicum. It even created resentment as the deal/restrictions on the Mechanicum did.
The navigator bits are interesting.. they have six navigator houses tied directly to them. Did this mean they had their own slave navigators before, or were they some sort of servitor analogue (one term I recall used for servitors is thrall, but its also been used for slave, as has servitor for slave/servant.)
Sigma-Phi 19 Plasma projector
Theta-Mu 24 Photon Thruster
Cult Mechanicus weapons. Also the plasm aprojector shows what looks like A power armored cyborg with an arm mounted gun. Maybe combat servitor or tech priest.
Zeta-Pi 7 Eviscerator Engine
Not sure if this is a Dreadnought, Robot, Servitor, or what.
Also Mechanicum protecotrs seem to predate the Skitarii.
As the Great crusade drew to a close, fully two million human worlds had been repatriated by the Emperor and his mighty armies.
An (approximate) indicator of the number of worlds in the Imperium pre heresy. It does fit millions, although it could be larger. It almost certianly grew over time, since the modern Imperium is larger than the Crusade-era Imperium.
To this end the Emperor convened the first Council of Terra. Unlike the War Council, of which Horus was now leader, the Council of Terra would attend to the matters of state and the establishment and maintenance of Imperial law across the myriad worlds of the Imperium. In particular the Council of Terra was to administrate the Imperial Tithe. Under its auspices would fall all the civil government of the lmperium.
It also lead to a conflict between the War council and the Council of Terra over power and authority, which the latter seemed to be winning, judging by the early HH novels. Here, though, it suggests a more division and balance of powers - a military arm and a civilian arm, which work together but remain separate. That actually would make sense. Even though the Crusade has reached the limits of the galaxy (for the most part) in all directions, it still had (and still has) lots of territory within that scope to explore and colonize and conquer. The Astartes and Primarchs would have been busy quite awhile going back over old territory and scouring out potential threats and setting up new colonies.
The Dark Gods had whispered in his ear. "We desire only the Emperor. His psychic might is destroying our realm. Even now he retires to his dungeon to work his selfish plot. He cares not for you or your warriors. He will put weak men above you. If the Emperor were to be sacrificed to us we would have no interest in your worlds. You would be a just and rightful ruler of the galaxy. We give you the gift of mankind to do with as you will."
Which is hinted at in Galaxy in Flames I believe. Again the interesting thing is that it isn't so much an outright lie as a half-truth.. there are elements believable enough, that the rest can be distorted to suit Chaos' purposes (Eg the "weak men above you" bit seems true to Horus, but it gives Chaos an opening to poison the Primarch against his Father.)
Page 61 - Space Wolf support squad.. again hand flamers.
However, some of their Marines would not be so easily swayed. These were the Marines for whom the Emperor was like a god, many of them men of Earth, the original recruits into the ranks of the Space Marines whose loyalty to the Emperor predated that to their Primarch.
Seems like the Terran-born marines were more prone to belief in the Emperor's divinity, although the novel series never showed this overtly.
Page 62 - Death Guard heavy support squad, appear to be using multimeltas, both a shoulder mounted and arm-carried (rifle like) variety.