This is one of those things that I tried on 'ole Port—sorry, Warseer—a while back. Given some of the threads over on the old FFG boards that talk about then nature of the Emperor, I thought that I would bring it back as a means of spring-boarding discussion on the metaphysics and theology of the 40k universe and the Imperium, respectively. The original goal was a bit simple, since I was going to create some RPG statistics for the various incarnations of the Emperor, drawing from the approach in Amber: DRPG, which had different interpretations/power levels for the various eldar Amberites that appear in Zelazny's Amber Chronicle books.
Of course, the thread could also die the death without any discussion! Who knows...
Okay, the original thread divided the interpretations of the Emperor into two sections: pre-Heresy and post-Heresy. First, the pre-Heresy Emperor.
I threw up three alternative versions:
- The God. This is the Walking God approach to the Emperor. A phenomenal psychic power house, he is also physically powerful and more than a match for the Primarchs. This Emperor would focus on physical and psychic abilities.
- The Scientist. Although a powerful psyker tied into the "harmonious" parts of the warp, he is primarily a carer and nurturer. It is his knowledge that provides the research behind the early Imperium, and without it there is little more than technological regression. This version of the Emperor would be less powerful in terms of physical abilities, but would concentrate more on scientific skills, diplomacy, politics, etc.
- The Trickster. The Emperor, while still a powerful psyker, rises to ascendancy through sheer manipulation, either psychic or political. This version of the Emperor is likewise not as physically powerful, and his psychic powers focus on manipulation of perceptions, illusion, etc.
You'll probably find elements of your interpretation of the Emperor in all three, but are there other approaches that you favour that aren't just the lumping together of God, Scientist, and Trickster?
This is where it gets a bit more complex since I personally do see the Emperor as all three, but singular versions are also a possibility.
- The Corpse. Sitting shackled to the Golden Throne, the Emperor rages impotently, forced as He is to feast on the souls of the very humans that he was created to engender and protect in humanity. Separated from his soul, he uses this energy to create a pseudo-soul. Alternately, all that remains on the Throne is the Shaman Synergy, gradually fragmenting into the Many Mind, but still raging at the lost of the "keystone" soul that is the Emperor. (Personally I prefer the Many Mind option, but there we go.)
- The Child. The Emperor's soul – his psychic energy – hides in the harmonious parts of the warp and, after millennia, begins to make dream-like attempts at influence the matterium to engender his rebirth in the matterium as a new New Man. All that resides on the Golden Throne is a dead corpse.
- The Twin. Growing in the warp after ten millennia of worship focused around the teachings of the Imperial Cult, the Twin grows as a symbol of the oppression, hatred, and fear that is spread by the Adeptus Ministorum, the Inquisition, and the many institutions of the Imperium. This is the dark god that will be born from Humanity—god of pain and suffering, of oppression. In many ways, the Twin is Malal reborn—a Chaos God opposed to the others.
Again, what others do you see other than an amalgamation (which I use anyway, so that's kind of hypocritical, but you get the point)?
The other reason that I brought this up is because of the idea that the "Emperor," whatever that might mean (see above) acquires all the energy of humanity from the collective worship. Yet is that necessarily the case? I mean, does the Star Child get everything by proxy and, if so, what does that mean about what sits on the Golden Throne. How relevant are the conspiracies of the Illuminati in this scenario?
Anyway, just a not-so-random thought. Basically it was to look at the variation in the universe and see how this might impact upon the setting as written for Calixis.