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I've been pondering a question and I decided it was worth the effort to ask the community about it. The Chaos Gods have influenced all species for millennia within the Materium. Though they seldom went by their current names (Khorne, Nurgle, ect, ect), but rather through all kinds of avatars or aspects (eerily similar to how the Imperial Creed promotes worship of the Emperor). Once instance of this is on Molech where they use to worship the Serpent Gods which turned out to be an aspect of Slaaneshi worship.

So my question is -- what if the Emperor never embarked on his Great Crusade? The galaxy is shaped because of this action on his part -- his creation of the Astartes and Primarchs. Without them there would be no Heresy, there wouldn't be as massive a Chaos threat as there is now. Yes during Old Night there are tales of the daemons, psykers, and all sorts of nasty things but I never heard of Black Crusades pouring out of the Eye of Terror (or rather any type of Chaos crusade).

If the Emperor decided to never commit to the Great Crusade, the Unity Wars, the creation of the Imperium -- would Chaos be as big a threat as it is now?
 

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Herald of The Warp
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would Chaos be as big a threat as it is now?
I'm not that much of a theory-crafter in the lore of the 40k universe as I don't know enough details to really be there. So this might all be a huge sack of bollocks. However, the way I read it humanity in general would be much more succumbed to Chaos, if the Emperor hadn't been there.

So it depends on how you look at it. In the case of Humanity, the threat wouldn't be so great as there most likely wouldn't be a opposition to the chaos influence and many, if not all, would have succumbed already. For Chaos to be a threat, there has to be something battling it, otherwise it's just a complete takeover. If the Imperium didn't exist, I'm pretty sure that Humanity would simply be created purely out of Chaos cults; I'm thinking Mad Max with a hint of Chaos.

Against other races, the threat would most likely be greater, as the Daemons would most likely be looking elsewhere for even more souls, now that they have Humanity. Then again, the only race the Daemons seem interested in beyond Humanity, seems to be the Eldar
 

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In Fulgrim and other HH novels when they portray the pre-Heresey battles against Chaos-infested Xenos, I don't get the impressions it's all spikey bits, blood-soaked altars, and blasted demon-infested landscape everywhere. The Laer that the Emperor's Children took over were even described as beautiful with soaring/floating cities, much like Isstvan III with their singers.

Without the Imperium, I think Chaos would be more prevalent throughout the galaxy as all the emerging human psykers opened up the gateways, but I'm not sure it would be the general gruesome horror that comes vomiting out of the EOT through the Black Crusades.
 

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Bane of Empires
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If the Emperor decided to never commit to the Great Crusade, the Unity Wars, the creation of the Imperium -- would Chaos be as big a threat as it is now?
It is true that after Slaanesh's birth the Warp Storms of the Age of Strife calmed, which then allowed the Emperor to launch his fleets from Terra and begin the Great Crusade. However, if the Emperor had simply remained on the sidelines and not risen to be the pre-eminent warlord on Terra, the galaxy would have been at the mercy of Chaos. Who else could have challenged the gods?

Chaos had just consumed one of the greatest (if not the greatest) mortal civilisation(s) of all time (the Eldar). Without a unifying factor, or without the direct protection that the Emperor provided, Mankind (as it precariously evolved towards its psychic potential) would have been easy prey for the Chaos Gods. Humans are easily corruptible and provide an unmatched resource for the Chaos Gods, their downfall would have been as good as inevitable. This quote from Codex: Chaos Daemons sums it up perfectly: "...for without the Emperor's protection, Mankind would be scattered and alone in the darkness, utterly helpless before the dark temptations of Chaos. Humanity's damnation would bring about the victory of the Dark Gods and the Realm of Chaos would engulf the galaxy."

In Fulgrim and other HH novels when they portray the pre-Heresey battles against Chaos-infested Xenos, I don't get the impressions it's all spikey bits, blood-soaked altars, and blasted demon-infested landscape everywhere. The Laer that the Emperor's Children took over were even described as beautiful with soaring/floating cities, much like Isstvan III with their singers.
Take into account that the Laer were Slaanesh-devotees. Their cities and civilisation may have appeared beautiful but they were wholly corrupted by the Dark Prince. Spikey bits and blood-soaked altars is not always how Slaanesh works (nor how most warp corruption works, it's a slippery slope to that point), but the Laer were very fucked up in other ways - and would have continued to become more so fucked up (perhaps with spikey bits and blood-soaked altars) as they were further altered by the whims of Slaanesh and continued down the path of corruption.

It's also entirely plausable (very likely in my opinion) that the Laer were corrupted for the sole intention of passing certain elements of depravity (and the sword) on to the Emperor's Children. So their corruption (or at least what the Emperor's Children would have perceived as the the negative elements of it) may have been intentionally hidden from Fulgrim and his Legion.
 
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