Rogue Trader: Pride and Profit
(This introduction to the Warhammer 40k universe was written by my friend teh_Bunneh as a variation to the “grim and dark” canon version. The creates the more heroic and less pessimistic portrayal of the 41st Millennium setting.)
Thirty thousand years from now, mankind spreads out across the galaxy, colonizing planets large and small. Because travel between the stars is extremely dangerous, each planet is isolated from the others and each one is vulnerable to extermination by any number of disasters at any time.
Then came the Emperor. A man of vast psionic power and great physical ability, he first tamed the warring nations of Earth, then set out across the galaxy to reconquer the myriad barbaric peoples that humanity had become. Accompanied by the Space Marines, an army of genetically-engineered super soldiers, he fought a 1000-year war to retake the galaxy.
Then, at the height of his power he was betrayed by his most trusted general, Horus, who had become corrupted by the sweet whispered promises of the dark gods of Chaos. Horus took half of the Emperor’s mighty army and staged a civil war. Humanity once again seemed doomed, but the Emperor managed to finally slay Horus in single combat.
However, he was mortally wounded. His loyal soldiers brought his dying body back to earth, where he was placed into suspended animation — not quite alive, but neither dead. The Golden Age of mankind was over, and the promises of glory that the Emperor made were lost to history.
Now, ten thousand years later, mankind is struggling not to slide slowly back into barbarism. There are few rays of hope, but those few blaze with the intensity of a supernova. The Space Marines still stand as symbols of hope, honor, loyalty, pride, and dedication. The Sisters of Battle demonstrate the indefatigable power of faith, charity, and courage. The soldiers of the Imperial Guard show that even the common man can fight for what he believes in. Priests and pilgrims keep alive the memory of the Emperor (now elevated to god-like status in the hearts of his people), and the great things he once accomplished.
These brave souls are the only thing that stands between mankind and the ever-encroaching tide of Chaos. The Traitor Legions (those Marines who sided with Horus) are still out there, serving their dark gods and hoping to someday drag humanity screaming into the black void. The gods and Daemons of Chaos continue work their wicked plans, corrupting the minds, souls, and bodies of people both great and humble; their cults springing up like poisonous weeds and choking out the good that humanity is still capable of.
The power of Chaos isn’t the only thing that menaces mankind. This universe is filled with alien races, both wondrous and horrifying. Brutal and savage Orks, who live only for battle, pillage the space lanes and raid with impunity. The alien Tyranids, insect-like creatures who drift from solar system to solar system, devour all that they encounter. The beautiful and mysterious Eldar, who once ruled an empire nearly as great as humanity’s but are now all but extinct, are humanity’s enemies as often as they are its allies (for reasons as inscrutable as the rest of their culture). And there may still be other, undiscovered alien peoples out there as well.
The Imperium has stood strong for millennia, but now history teeters on a pivotal point. Will the Universe enter a new golden age of learning, expansion, and discovery, or will it tip over and spill into a dark era of pandemonium, bloodshed, and decay? Powerful forces are aligning: good or evil, preservation or destruction, law or Chaos, and whatever happens, nothing will ever be the same.
Which side will you be on?