There is a single phrase that is repeated again and again amongst the upper echelons of the Imperium:
“Blessed are the Ignorant.”
The majority of Imperial citizens are not well educated about the universe they live in, knowledge about daemons, about Imperial history, about anything that the Imperium does not explicitly believe they need to know, is not easily accessed. Between the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition and the other branches of the Imperium there is massive collaboration to destroy or hide all knowledge that contradicts the established narrative that the Imperium wants its citizens to believe in. Much of the early history of the Imperium is thusly obscured, transformed into religious myths of the Imperial cult, and heavily embellished to ensure faith in the structures of the Imperium that now exist, rather than those that did exist before.
Of course the challenge of this creates massive contradictions, there are always books and timelines that slip through the crack that show events or versions of them that contradict the current narrative of the Imperium – even events in living memory are changed to favour the Imperial narrative and preserve civilian morale, and even warriors that served in a battle in recent days might well be rigorously pressured into believing events they never witnessed were the truth.
To this end, this section serves as an OOC guide to what your character should not know, have seen, or have done in their history before becoming involved in the events of the Death Unto Darkness story.
WHAT WE KNOW – ABOUT THE IMPERIUM
The following bullet points provide a rough summary of what the average Imperial citizen knows about the Imperium, its history, and it’s government, this is a summarised form for characters wanting to be specifically base-level uneducated, the knowledge on the other public lore pages represents information an educated character might know.
- The Imperium was founded by the God-Emperor of Mankind, he was always a God, though in the early years He walked amongst mankind. He begat Nine Children, the Primarchs, who were His Holy Generals – and they led for him his Great Crusade, and brought about the Golden Age of Humanity.
- The Great Crusade ended because of the Heresy, where the daemon (sometimes confusingly referred to as Arch-Traitor) Horus and eight Daemons opposed the Emperor and his loyal Primarchs – this culminated in the Battle of Terra, where the God-Emperor’s physical form was wounded by Horus, and he ascended unto Godhood to watch over Mankind from the Golden Throne.
- The High Lords of Terra (The Senatorum Imperialis) are the rightful rulers of His Mortal Domain as appointed by the sacred order of His Son the Primarch Guilliman. Obedience to them, and the Imperial Nobility and the Adeptus who stem from them, is what the Emperor commands of all His citizens.
- The Holy Ordo’s of the Inquisition are the ever-watchful eyes of the Emperor, they are His Sacred Servants and strike down those who stray from His path. Imperial citizens should fear them, for they are always watching you.
- The Imperial Cult is the one true faith and all other faiths are falsehood and heresy, there are no Gods other than the God-Emperor and to suggest otherwise is heresy. You should show respect to Priests, for they will judge you if you break the holy laws.
- The Machine Cult is an extension of the God-Emperor who give worship to Him through their own unique practices and must be respected for they know how the ancient arcane technologies that preserve the Imperium work.
- The Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, are the Emperor’s Angels of Death, they are monstrous holy warriors created by the God-Emperor to strike down his foes, and are apart from mankind and closer to Him.
- The Adeptus Arbites are the will of the law, they should be respected, those who do not respect them will suffer for they are the law, and they deserve your respect and utter compliance.
- The Imperium is as the Emperor wished it to be, it has never changed in shape or form since the Emperor ascended the Throne and his Son Guiliman laid down the strictures for humanity to be governed in the absence of his material form.
WHAT WE KNOW – ABOUT TECHNOLOGY
In the years humanity has spent under the thrall of cults and desperately hanging onto past glories, it has largely forgotten how much of its advanced technologies truly operate and even the most knowledgeable technologists, the Machine Cult, know very little. The following is a brief understanding of how Imperial technology works:
- Every piece of technology has a ‘Machine Spirit’ that embodies it’s nature, maintenance is as much a ritual of placating this animist ‘spirit’ as it is about material repair – most individuals do not differentiate and treat mechanical maintenance and operation as a religious ritual, if not for fear of angering the Machine Cult that oversees most technology.
- Imperial Ships operate using Warp Engines which open tears in reality into a other dimensional space where distances are shorter allowing for vast distances to be crossed in far shorter time then travelling at relativistic speeds. Within this realm referred to as the Sea of Souls or simply The Warp there are other dimensional energies that can play tricks on the mind or alter and damage the human body, so ships must be protected by special Gellar Fields to keep them out.
WHAT WE KNOW – ABOUT THE THREATS TO THE IMPERIUM
The following bullet points represent the limited education that most Imperial Citizens have about the Foes that the Imperium faces, focusing upon those relevant to the Prosperitas Sector rather than the entire Imperium, it goes without saying that most characters will have little experience with any threat not local to it:
Despite thousands of years of advancement and the near-conquest of the Milky Way Galaxy, humanities greatest enemy is still itsself. While bigotry based on race, gender and sexuality are long-since faded, humankind has found new conflicts and kept alight some old ones – the Imperium is beholden to a single creed and a single God-Emperor, and all other religions are considered heresy, and its hatred of the unknown has grown. Human evolution has been stunted by years of prejudice against deviation from the standard genetic template of man that first conquered Earth, mutations are treated with contempt at best. The Imperium itsself is opressive and controlling, democratic planetary governments are abhorrent and largely outlawed, and more often than not Imperial forces are fighting not against some distant foe, but fellow Imperial subjects who have dared rebel against Imperial laws and demands for their planets resources.
- The Archenemy or Chaos is the ultimate foe of the Imperium, it is a false religion shared by a myriad of foul heretics, mutants and seditionists, all treachery against the Imperium from humans is due to the foul work of this heretical threat, for no enemy would rise up against the Imperium for any reason other than foul mind-warping heretical religions. Daemons are mythological things, and not something real.
- The Rising Flame and other terrorist and seditionist organisations are humans twisted against the Imperium by the machinations of the foul Archenemy even if they believe themselves not to be, there is no other reason anyone would turn against the Imperium.
- Mutants are blighted, twisted creatures touched by the foulness of the Archenemy, they are best put down to save what scraps of a soul they have left, the genetically impure have no place in the Imperium.
- Psykers (people with psychic powers) are the only type of mutants that are tolerated, as long as they have been branded. A brand indicates they have been tested and approved by Terran Authorities. It doesn’t give them the same rights as humans (they are still seen with huge amounts of suspicion) as they are seen as property, but they are still allowed to live. Unbranded psykers are known as “witches” and should not be suffered to live (unless they accept being trained and branded).
- Navigators are, theoretically, also mutants, but due to them all being nobles, and their usefulness as the only humans who can navigate ships through the Warp (thus making the fleets of humanity completely dependant on them), that fact is VERY conveniently forgotten, and Navigators are both respected and feared.
The Warhammer 40k setting is full of alien races, but humanity deliberately refuses to have truck with them, and indeed actively exterminates sentient aliens where it finds them. If an alien is not on this list or not in any of the lore pages your character has access to, please be aware that you have no idea of their name, or that in fact they even exist. Be aware that in the timeline that we are running this game, the Necrons, Tyranids and Tau have not been encountered in any significant manner that would stand out to most Imperials. Orks have specific relevance to the Imperium because they are the default choice of example of Xenos for most Imperial anti-Xenos propaganda, and Eldar have specific relevance to the local mythology of the Prosperitas Sector where they have mythological significance similar to Fae on 21st Centaury Earth
- The term Xenos refers to all species that are not human (or acceptably proven to be close enough to baseline human form) – it is an accepted fact that all sentient alien life is a proven threat to the Imperium and must be destroyed, no debased non-humans are permitted to survive.
- The Orks are large, foul and piggish green-skinned creatures that are unintelligent and obsessed with destroying things, they are uncivilised beasts that raid human space. They are nothing but a barbarian species, and not a true threat to the Imperium.
- The Eldar are a capricious, cruel, race with sharp features and pointed ears that come and steal children from their beds and unwary void-travellers from their ships should they not be properly aware. They lurk behind veils waiting to pounce upon the unwary.
- There are other Xenos that lurk in the Rimward Marches of the Prosperitas Sector, but few know their names, and even fewer care, for soon they will all be swept away beneath the glorious tide of the Prosperitas Crusade.
WHAT WE KNOW – ABOUT THE PROSPERITAS SECTOR
The following bullet points represent the sum total of education most Imperial citizens born in the Prosperitas Sector get about the history of the Prosperitas Sector, this information is largely suppressed, but more widely available than most because of the strong oral traditions of the Northern Prosperitas Sector that has preserved some accounts of the past that would be otherwise easier to suppress in written form:
- Before the coming of the Imperium, the sector was occupied by foul servants of the Daemon Horus and the Archenemy called the Regency. The Regency marched under a banner of the unblinking eye of the Daemon Horus, and were destroyed by the glorious forces of the Prosperitas Crusade. These foul debauched heretics kept the people prisoner and denied them the right of all humans to be ruled by the God-Emperor.
- The Prosperitas Crusade is a religious and righteous war that has been ongoing for nearly six hundred years, it was called by the High Lords of Terra and all citizens are expected to do their best to support the effort.
- The founder of the Prosperitas Crusade, and the First Warmaster, was Jacinta Durovera, a grand and talented commander who fought with the blessing of the Emperor and carved out the Sector as we know it; for this reason, House Durovera has the divine right to rule the Prosperitas Sector.
- There are some fifty or thereabouts major planets and colonies within the Prosperitas Sector but many more are being discovered with every step taken by the forces of the Prosperitas Crusade.
- There are ancient myths that talk of times before the Regency, but these have been actively suppressed, and the speaking of the old tongues that they were recorded in (Hindi (North-East) and Welsh/Celtic (North-West) for linguistic reference) has been outlawed in the favour of Imperial Low Gothic. These are deliberately not publically available to all characters.
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
Unless it appears on this page, or any of the open or password restricted lore pages you have access to, you shouldn’t know anything else ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE WARP.
WHAT YOU’VE NEVER SEEN OR DONE
In order to police (to some extent) character background submissions, please note the following events that no character would have ever really seen in their lifetimes, at least before they encounter them in the course of the campaign:
- You have never seen a Daemon. Full manifestations of Daemons are mercifully rare, at a push a void-born or Imperial Navy character may have witnessed minor warp manifestations like Ghosts and Phantoms, but never a true daemon. If they had they would have been irrevocably scarred by the experience, or killed. The Imperium, and the Holy Ordo’s specifically, go out of their way to suppress all knowledge of the existence of Daemons. Daemons express auras of palpable fear that make it hard for humans to stand against them easily, as it is instinctive dread of the impossible creatures that they are.
- You have never seen a Space Marine (or a Chaos Space Marine). The Transhuman Genetically-Engineered Warriors of the Adeptus Astartes are an increasingly rare breed in the 41st Millennium and most are dedicated to wars far far away from the Prosperitas Sector. A human might be lucky to see one once in their entire life if they are particularly well travelled – this goes doubly so for the foul Traitor Astartes (of which the Imperium denies the existence of) who are even rarer than their loyal bretheren. The experience of encountering an Astartes is mind-altering as their unnaturally enhanced forms have a psychological effect known as ‘Transhuman Dread’ on most humans, generating a natural fear response.
- You have never been to Terra. Even for the rich and powerful, access to Holy Terra, the Throneworld of Mankind, is next to impossible, and enough to bankrupt a Noble House simply paying the permits to approach it. A pilgrimage there can take generations of a commoner family – as a result, no character may have visited Terra, with the notable exception of Psykers who are processed and sanctioned there and some religious characters who may have trained at the vast Temples to the God-Emperor and the Convent Prioris.