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Warhammer 40K: The Emperor’s Webway Project Makes No Sense

6 Minute Read
Mar 02
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Let’s talk about why the Emperor’s grand plan wasn’t very well thought out.

At the height of the Great Crusade, with total galactic conquest in sight, the Emperor left the frontlines and returned to Terra. After around 200 years of commanding the Crusade in person, He suddenly found He had better things to do, leaving behind His son Horus to command the war effort. On his return to Terra the Emperor would soon be consumed by the His Webway Project. Carried out from the Imperial Dungeons, this was supposedly the key to His master plan. Thanks to the machinations of the Ruinous Powers it failed, but even before their intervention the plan made little sense. Let’s take a look at why.

The Plan

According to the Emperor Himself the plan was fairly simple, if staggering in scope. With the galaxy firmly under His control as a result of the Great Crusade, the Imperium would take control of the Eldar Webway. The starting point for this was a Webway portal located under the Imperial Palace on Terra. This gate does not seem to be a regular Webway gate as it did not directly connect to the rest of the Webway, but had to be connected. The gate was controlled and tied into the Golden Throne. Once the Webway was under human control the Emperor would use it to replace warp travel, and would be able to suppress psykers across the galaxy. In this way He would sever humanity from the warp, denying the Dark Gods the source of their power, and shepherd humankind into a fully evolved psychic race. The plan however has some flaws.

A Lack of Gates

The first major flaw we have in the plan is that there likely aren’t enough Webway gates out there. While plenty of worlds do have gates, it’s likely that many, if not most, human populated worlds and systems don’t have gates.  Terra for instance doesn’t seem to have a regular gate. Nor is a fake gate easy to make, the Terran gate requires the use of the Golden Throne, a so-far unique object, and an incredibly powerful pysker. Indeed so far as we know, there is only being powerful enough to keep the gate open or closed. The Emperor, though it is theorized Magnus might have been able to do it. Regardless there just isn’t a way that the Imperium could have built many, if any, additional gates. This means either a lot of planets would have been out of connection, and thus the plan would have failed, or the Emperor would have destroy or relocate a significant amount of human settled worlds.

He Got Off To A Premature Start

Even assuming the gate network would do what He wanted, the Emperor really jumped the gun on the plan. In order for His plan to work, the Imperium had to completely dominate the galaxy, it was only in this way that they could fully cut off humankind from the warp. However, the Emperor returned to Terra to throw Himself into the project well before the galaxy was dominated. Sure Ullanor marked something of a turning point, but it wasn’t the end, or even close to it. Not to mention that there remained a large number of other races for the Chaos gods to feed on, out there using the warp. The Emperor should have finished step 1 before moving to step 2.

He Kept It Secret For No Reason

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The Emperor kept His plan a secret from everyone, not even telling the most loyal of His sons the plan. Even the Custodian Guards who fought and died in the Webway did not know why they were there. It is likely indeed that only Malcador and the Emperor, and perhaps Constantin Valdor knew the plan (at least until He told Ra Endymion). However, this level of secrecy doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Emperor states he kept the plan a secret to prevent an uprising from the Navigator Guilds. Since the Webway would render them useless they would lose their power and status, and He worried they rise up. Now maybe keeping it from the Navigators makes sense, but why the Primarchs? Why the Custodian Guard? None of them were going to go running to the Guilds. This explanation makes no sense, and if He would lie about why He kept it secret, He would lie about other aspects.

It Wouldn’t Do What He Wanted

In the Emperor’s plan, the Webway Project wasn’t the end goal, it was a tool to get there. Ultimately the Emperor’s goal is to shepherd Humanity into a psychic race, along the lines of the Eldar. The Webway was just a way to cut humanity off from the warp while this happened. Yet there are two problems with this. Firstly, how can humanity develop psychic powers without contact with the Warp? These powers come from the Warp. That’s why psykers are dangerous. The second issue is even greater. According to Erda, the Emperor’s oldest companion, His goal isn’t just for Humanity to transform into a psychic race, that would happen naturally, but to speed up the processes so that it would happen in tens of thousands of years rather than millions. Given that goal, it’s hard to see how the Webway Project is the ultimate capstone of His plan. Sure it would protect humanity from the warp, if it worked, but it would do nothing to speed things up.

So What Was The Point?

So if the Webway Project doesn’t make sense, and couldn’t work, what was the point? Was the Emperor just a fool chasing made dreams? Well, I don’t think so. Indeed it seems like the Webway Project was important to Him, but that what He has told people about it was a lie. There seem to be three main possible reasons He actually cared about the Webway project:

  1. It was a red herring. He knew the Chaos Gods would find out about it and used it to draw their attention, hiding His real plan.
  2. It was a trap. We know from the Molech trap that the Emperor will put massive time and effort into a setting a trap, maybe the Webway Project was some sort of trap, it did eat up massive amounts of Traitor forces. Or maybe it was meant to make Him seem preoccupied, so that the Chaos gods would make their move.
  3. He was after something in the Webway that would actually help out His real goal. In this case, it seems quite likely He might have been after the Black Library itself as this seems like a likely place to find how to advance humanity.

Any of these could be true, but seems obvious is that His plan, as He told it to Ra, makes no sense.

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Let us know what you think of the Webway Project, down in the comments!

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