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A while back I bumped into a guy who told me some of the early fluff about The Emperor and how he made the Primarch's. It was something about how when a Shaman die's two more are born. They knew mankind would need a strong leader soon so 10,000 of them committed suicide so that The Emperor would be born. He also told me the full saying for what "And They Shall Know No Fear" came from, but I can't remenber it. If any one could point me the right way to get all this info I'll love you forever, or not your choice. :sinister:
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You should check out www.lexicanum.com its a really great site and has alot of info gathered from a variety of sources. Not sure if it specifically has what you are after, but its where I would start to look.
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The codex and the rulebook both have buckets and buckets of background fluff on the Emperor, the Primarchs, the creation process, and so on. Lexicanum is a good site to get obscure factoids that have gone out of print - it catalogues a lot of the old Rogue Trader and 2nd edition stuff, like the Star Child and, as your friend told you, the whole the-Emperor-is-the-souls-of-forty-thousand-shamans thing. But I find that since it's a wiki with not a lot of moderation, a lot of fanon tends to slip in, which can confuse you...so don't take it at face value.
The gist of it is that the Emperor (or at least his physical body) was an ancient human psyker, way before human civilisation ever got going on Earth, who - along with tens of thousands of other psykers - foresaw the dangers humanity would face from the Warp and decided that the race would need a strong leader to guide it. So, all those shamans sacrificed themselves and bound all their souls together into the one body, creating one immortal, omnipotent demigod with a severe identity crisis. It's no wonder he calls himself The Emperor; he's probably got like forty thousand people living in his head and finds it a lot simpler to live without a name.
Anyway, the Emperor guides humanity behind the scenes for several thousand years - it's implied that he actually delayed humanity's psychic development until they were ready, explaining why we don't have daemons and psykers running around today - until about 30,000AD, when he decides that he needs to control things directly, unites Earth, and creates the Space Marines, kicking off the Crusade Era. This fails catastrophically, since half the space marines turn evil and the Emperor is rendered comatose and placed into the Golden Throne, unable to control his Imperium but unable to leave his half-dead mortal shell, which he doesn't even really need.
So now I guess he's just chilling it as his empire descends into ever-deeper levels of depravity and brutality even as it is attacked by basically everything ever. Which would kind of suck, but it's not called the grim darkness of the far future because it has a happy ending.
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If you havn't already read the Horus Heresy, this has a ton of info on all the primarchs and the emporor. Also you will want to read "false gods" I think that has info on how the primarchs are made (during Horus's dream).
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