Deus Ex Machina
Note: This is a brief synopsis of the most important info for the players of Deus Ex Machina, and is by no means complete and exhaustive. Those wishing to learn more are encouraged to view the Warhammer 40,000 wiki, Lexicanum.
Space Marine- Known in the High Gothic language as the Adeptus Astartes (or colloquially as the Angels of Death), the space marines are the pinnacle of the Emperor’s genetic manipulation. Created from normal men, implanted with additional organs to increase their toughness, physical appearance, speed, dexterity and so on, they are indoctrinated into their home chapters’ ethos, and utterly and totally loyal to the Emperor of Mankind to a fault. They are equipped with the best armor, weapons and technology at the disposal of the Imperium. Each chapter of space marines draws its unique geneseed from its Primarch- the original, genetic masterpiece created by the Emperor himself nearly 10,000 years ago. Because of this, each chapter’s members exhibit the mentality, features, and sometimes flaws inherent in the geneseed.
The Deathwatch- Overseen by the Inquisition, the Deathwatch is the militant arm of the Ordo Xenos. Aliens are an affront to the divinity of the immortal God-Emperor, and as such should be irradicated. Each Space Marine chapter is required to submit to the Inquisition, and in the case of the Deathwatch, is obligated to send members of their Chapter to supplement the Deathwatch’s fighting force. Each Deathwatch marine’s armor is painted entirely black, save for the right shoulder, which bears the marine’s home chapter insignia. To paint over this would be an affront the war-spirit of the armor.
The Inquisition- Without a doubt, the Inquisition is the most feared and revered branch of the Imperium. Beholden to no one, and paranoid of heretics, mutations and xenos to the point where they are suspicious of everyone, they can call upon the aid of any citizen of the Imperium for their assistance, or render their judgement. Their judgment is law, and whole planets have faced the threat of Exterminatus if a zealous Inquisitor deems that it cannot be redeemed.
The Emperor of Mankind- The Emperor of Mankind, blessed is his name, has been among humanity since the beginning, refusing to take part in the development of the species. However, in the 31st Millenium, he came forth to reunite the scattered human race into the Imperium under his rule. Disavowing any diety, his secular rule lasted until his chosen Warmaster- Horus, Primarch of the Lunar Wolves, discovered the Gods of Chaos and was corrupted by their powers. At the end of the Horus Heresy (see below), the Emperor slew Horus, but was mortally wounded in the process. Now, he is enshrined in the Golden Throne, contained within a stasis field to keep his body alive. Daily, thousands of psykers are sacrificed to the Emperor to sustain his immortal divinity. Worshipers flock to Holy Terra to view the God-Emperor.
The Horus Heresy- During the Emperor’s Great Crusade to reunite humanity among the stars, the great Warmaster Horus of the Lunar Wolves (later renamed the Sons of Horus) was injured in combat. Seeking to save him, one of the chaplains of the Word Bearers introduced Horus to the God of Chaos. Upon recovering, Horus perceived that the Emperor was lying to humanity about the nonexistence of supernatural beings- or gods. Feeling betrayed, and accepting the gifts of the Gods of Chaos, Horus led half of the Space Marine legions in revolt against the Emperor and his loyalist legions. Only above Terra did the Heresy come to an end with Horus’s death and the Emperor’s mortal wounding. The traitor legions fled the Imperium for the Eye of Terror, where the continue to worship the Gods of Chaos, and raid into the Imperium to this day.
The Warp- Running parallel to the material universe is the Warp. Also known as the Immaterium, or Empyrian this is the most dangerous place in existence. While it allows for faster-than-light travel, it is also home to the Gods of Chaos and their Daemon legions. Psykers draw their powers from Warp energy, and its because of this they are more susceptible to its corruption, and potential possession by an entity from the Warp.
Chaos- Chaos is the overarching term used to describe the malevolent entities residing in the Warp. Individually, the four Gods of Chaos are: Nurgle, Lord of Pestilence, Decay, Rot and Death; Tzeench (Zeen-ch)- Lord of Change, Magic, Thought and Ambition; Slaanesh- Prince of Pleasure, Decadence, and Debauchery; Khorne- The Blood God, Lord of Slaughter, Collector of Skulls, Warlord.
Traitor Legions- During the Horus Heresy, half of the Space Marine Legions joined Horus in his rebellion. They are the Black Legion (formerly the Sons of Horus/Lunar Wolves), Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Word Bearers, Emperor’s Children, World Eaters, Thousand Sons, Death Guard, and the Alpha Legion. Today, ten thousand years after the Heresy, they still wage war on the Imperium from the Eye of Terror.
Orks- The most abundant and fastest-spreading xenos threat to the Imperium is the Ork. Green-skinned, and totally violent, and possessing a rudimentary cunning/intelligence they are the divided into warbands throughout the galaxy. Led by the biggest and strongest warboss and his “nobz”(lieutenants, until some upstart decides to kill him and claim his rule), they are held together only by the threat of death within their own ranks, or by a common enemy. Without a doubt, they are the most psychic race in existence, and their Waaaaghs (think “crusade”, only not as elegant) feed their psykers (known as “weirdboyz”). Once a Waaagh! sets down on a planet, every Imperial unit is called in within Warp jump distance.
Eldar- The oldest civilization in the galaxy, the Eldar are lithe, graceful beings that are facing extinction. Their decadent past caused the birth of the fourth God of Chaos, Slaanesh, and destroyed their homeworlds. Travelling the galaxy on immense vessels known as Craftworlds, they travel via the Webway (closed circuit portals contained within the Warp) between destinations. Often manipulation other races to further their ends, they will still take up arms and fight to accomplish their unfathomable goals. While often considered an enemy, and always distrusted and hated by the Imperium, there have been times when the Eldar have fought alongside Imperial forces against a common threat such as Chaos, Orks or Tyranids.
Tyranids- Entering the Milky Way from outside the edge of the galaxy, the Tyranids are second only to Chaos in the threat they pose to the Imperium. Hive fleets spread like locusts across the galaxy, bent only consuming everything in their path. They have one goal- consume biomass and grow. Made up of various creatures, but all conjoined to a single Hive Mind, they fight as a fearless, cohesive unit- from the smallest termagant to the most fearsome hive tyrant or carnifex, they are specialized killing machines. Rarely has the Imperium managed to stop their progress.
Tau- The “new kid” on the galactic stage is the Tau. They are a caste-based society, and have some of the most impressive and unique tech the Imperium has faced. While not much is known about them, they have no psychic ability, and thus have to “reflection” in the Warp. They are however on a crusade of sorts “for the greater good” of the galaxy- which is why their often ill-conceived designs on a world must be halted promptly. Tau technology centers around gauss weapons and anti-grav units. They are a very mobile force, able to bring heavy firepower to bear very quickly, and should never be underestimated.