Arguably the most powerful creatures in the WH40k universe are called Perpetuals - they are basically immortal, because they either rapidly regenerate their wounds or immediately reincarnate.

Possibly the most famous example is Vulkan, who was shot, tossed out of airlock, thrown into the exhaust of a rocket engine and finally fell down from the stratosphere without parachute, just (to the annoyance of Konrad Curze) to "get better" in a matter of minutes.

Now apparently he received this trait from his father, the Emperor of Mankind. But has the Emperor ever been (even briefly) killed to prove that he is indeed perpetual?

He has been alive (more or less) more almost 50 thousand years (he was "born" about 8000 BC) and he is the most powerful psyker that ever existed, but that is still not a real proof: Eldar, Primarchs and even regular Marines can have very long life and can have inhuman regeneration skills but are not immortal.

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    Hope you don't mind the edits Yasskier. A question can be a little easier to read if it's broken out into separate paragraphs. And references for characters or places can be helpful as well.
    – Daft
    Aug 25, 2015 at 14:59
  • The point is is that it is debateable even within the 40k universe. The game inquisitor wasn't the greatest but the background in the first 20 pages or so was the best GW has ever done. In it they describe how certain sects of the inquisition are actively trying to turn off the golden throne so that the emperor can properly die and then come back to lead mankind. Others want to use the elder avatar technology to capture the emperors spirit when he dies and re energise it into an avatar. Look it up. - ---Everything you have been told is a lie. ---
    – user54667
    Oct 21, 2015 at 23:45
  • I mean, the wiki article on Perpetuals that you link has the Emperor listed as a known Perpetual, but I don't know how canonical that is.
    – Paul
    Mar 26, 2017 at 16:16

2 Answers 2


Answer: Unknown, because the Emperor and Perpetuals are two of the vaguest things in 40k.

It is not certain if the Emperor was aware that he gave Vulkan Perpetuality (not an official term). Because if he could, such a trait would be rather dandy to have on all of his generals, no? Everything regarding the Perpetuals is vague, and when mixed with the vagueness of the Emperor you get something that is double vague.

Given the small number of known Perpetuals (only a handful amongst the vast trillions of humans) it is safe to say that Perpetuals are extremely rare. It is not known where Perpetuality comes from: is it genetic? A plot by the Old Ones/Cegorach/Tzeentch/C'tan/whatever? Or something else? We don't know. We don't entirely know how Perpetuality works either: if it only kicks in after "death", or that a severe injury is enough to trigger regeneration. The Emperor was mangled pretty badly by Horus but still alive, so either Perpetuality only kicks in upon death or the Emperor isn't one.

So with that said, is the Emperor a Perpetual? Perhaps. There are conflicting reports on the Emperor's origin: one that he was born in Central Anatolia in 8000 BC as the amalgamation of the consciousnesses of a group of shamans. Another is that he was a Perpetual who traveled alongside fellow Perpetual Alivia Sureka to the planet of Molech using a primitive spaceship, where there was a gate that the Emperor stepped through to enter the Realm of Chaos where he obtained supreme power and emerged as we all know him now.

The latter story is more recent (described in the May 2014 novel Vengeful Spirit) while the former is a story that is not really talked about anymore (canon through lack of an update) so if you go solely by that the answer is Yes, the Emperor is a Perpetual, but if you ask if he has ever displayed the regeneration that characterizes the Perpetuals the answer is No, the Emperor is not a Perpetual. If you want to use Vulkan's Perpetuality as a basis to proof things on, I'd say Inconclusive, because we don't know how Perpetuality works.


He probably is. But we just don't know for sure.

This is a tricky one as, to my knowledge, GW has never officially stated whether or not he is or is not a Perpetual.

If Vulkan is a Perpetual, then you would assume his father could very well be one also. It's hard to know for sure though, for as long as the Emperor is hooked up to the Golden Throne, he will never die, so we don't know if he'll regenerate.

In The Unremembered Empire, we're told that a Perpetual's energy can be depleted. The battle with Horus and his time on the Golden Throne could very well have sapped the Emperor's immortality. We're also told that each Perpetual is inherently different.

If the Emperor is a Perpetual and died tomorrow, only to resurrect himself a few minutes later, the resulting loss of life would be gigantic. If he were to die, even for a second, Terra would be beset by hordes of demons from the warp, and the Astronomican would vanish. So on top of Terra very likely being wiped out, anyone travelling in the warp becomes lost for all time.

So it's likely GW won't explore this particular storyline for some time.

Another possible explanation for Vulkan's Perpetual-ness could be as a result of his time spent in the warp as a child:

However, the Gods of Chaos somehow managed to spirit them away just prior to their maturation with a great Warp vortex and it is speculated that they also managed to tamper with the infant Primarchs. source

  • The emperor is pretty powerful. Is his power something attained from being a perpetual? I thought he was like 12 shamans in one body or something Aug 25, 2015 at 18:28
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    @TomSterkenburg I'm not sure on the source of his powers. His wiki page has a section called Conflicting Origins, so it seems no one is really 100% sure yet. I think it will probably remain that way for some time. He's one of the great mysteries of 40k.
    – Daft
    Aug 25, 2015 at 18:30

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