BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

40K Lore: When the Emperor Dies…

3 Minute Read
Sep 30 2014

The Golden Throne is failing, the Emperor’s body a long-dormant husk.  When the end comes, what will become of the Master of Mankind?

A lore piece from BoLS sister-site Lexicanum 

The clock is always 5 minutes till midnight in the Grimdark, but then again the Warhammer Fantasy world was trapped in amber for decades – until it wasn’t.

It’s only a matter of time until the Emperor of Mankind passes from the material world, probably due to the failure of the Golden Throne.  Remember how it’s failing and the Mechanicus can’t fix it?

Here is what the various factions believe will happen once he dies:


Various theories have been put forward concerning the possible rebirth of the Emperor. Note that at worst these theories could be considered complete fabrication brought about by Tzeentchian Cultists and the lies of Chaos, as the Inquisition has decreed.

The Star Child

A controversial belief amongst Imperial scholars, the Star Child Theory has two aspects: the first is that the Emperor’s soul is currently forming as a new entity (the Star Child) in the Warp and that he will be reborn – a theory not dissimilar to the belief surrounding the potential Eldar god Ynnead– and the second is that the Emperor had children.


After the defeat of Horus, most of the Emperor’s soul is said to have dispersed from his body, merging into the warp in much the same way as that of the shamans, so many millenia before. It is believed that the Emperor – while apparently designed and empowered by the shamans to live forever – also possesses their ability to reincarnate, and that this would be his eventual goal. Avoiding discovery by the Chaos powers, it is believed that the Emperor was able to plant the seed of his reincarnation, a potential new soul awaiting birth: The Star Child. However, it is also believed that this new soul cannot be born while the Emperor is still tied to the Golden Throne, no matter how tenuously.

Along with this, the Emperor is said to have had children. Although a man of unparalleled, god-like powers, the Emperor was still a man, and throughout the many millennia of his life on Terra had fathered many children. A few of their descendants had inherited some of the Emperor’s power, including agelessness, and survive into the Age of the Imperium. They are known as Sensei. Sensei have a unique nature and relationship with the Warp which makes them invisible to psychic senses – even to those of the Emperor. The ultimate goal of the Sensei is to attain Apotheosis with the Star Child.

The Sensei-Emperor

There is a another possibility given for the Emperor’s resurrection/rebirth. A hidden group that call themselves the Illuminati have learned from the Eldar’s Black Library many truths of Chaos, as well as about the Sensei and the Fall of the Eldar. They realise the Emperor cannot survive in his current state forever, and eventually he will fail, and without the Emperor, Mankind will fall to Chaos like the Eldar. Such an event would create a fifth God of Chaos and create another Eye of Terror, one which would span the entire Imperium. They seek to prevent this by bringing about the rebirth of the Emperor.

This involves gathering together the Sensei, protecting them from the Inquisition, preparing them for what they claim is “the final war with Chaos.” In truth they ultimately plan to sacrifice the Sensei to the Emperor, in the same way so many psykers have been consumed by the Emperor. The Emperor will be renewed, reborn as the Sensei-Emperor to again lead his race in person.

The God Incarnate

The God Incarnate is a philosophy closely connected to Thorianism that maintains that the Emperor’s essence in the Warp may be transferred to a physical vessel, one deemed a Divine Avatar.

Which do you believe in? Whichever theory you choose, followers of the other two will mark you a heretic and hunt you day and night!


  • 40K: Removing Named Characters is DANGEROUS!