It's like an expensive badge. One of the most expensive, book shaped, badges of the whole Oldhammer 'movement'. It's one of these ebay items that makes you sweat through your eyeballs at the thought of pressing 'buy now'. The chaos that ensues when one comes up for auction is worse than the most sharp elbowed, old woman at the church jumble sale.
Don't get me wrong, it's a great book. As an example of the levels of madness that Brian's ego reached then it is a fantastic resource but as a book to play games with? You can manage without it.
A lot of the warband stuff is repeated from the first book and cleaned up a little. The Tzeentch and Nurgle lists are in different formats to lists in the first book. The Beastman and Minotaur stuff is interesting but not hugely ground breaking and there is some neat stuff about creating your own chaos gods and daemons. The painting pages are nice but not as nicely presented as in StoD.
So what is so good about it then? Well it has a really good quick reference sheet for 3rd ed but that's not worth a hundred quid. It does have the first description of the Emperor's early life and his creation of the Primarch's and then Horus Heresy leading to his battle with Horus and his entombment in the golden throne.
No one is going to deny that's important. To be fair, it's not the only place the clusterfuck that for the Horus Heresy was mentioned. Something was hinted at in RT and there was more detail in Slaves to Darkness and in Adeptus Titanicus but as a detailed examination of the whole story of the Emperors life, who he was, how he came to be and how his life, the section in Lost and the Damned is actually the closest in detail that we had until GW started exploring the Heresy in detail 10 years ago. The center piece is the above image of the final confrontation between the Emperor and his wayward son as well as a prose piece describing the battle which hasn't been explored in any detail since.
As a primer for the whole Heresy story combined with the short pieces about Magnus and Mortarion it was pretty much the piece of information about the Emperor and the Primarch's for a long period of time. In a way the whole of the 30K phenomenon has it's roots in this first detail exploration of the man behind the Imperium of man. In fact, I may be ignorant of some pieces somewhere else but, this is the most in depth exploration of the creation and growth of the Emperor to date.
It's therefore doubly interesting that the section following this should explore another aspect of the Emperor that has barely been mentioned since.
LatD discusses that the Starchild imbues it's champions with small parts of it's eternal power, gifting it's champions some special powers and abilities. This acts like a mirror and a balance to the gifts the Dark gods gift their champions, and in game terms, allows you to field a warband full of goodies rather than a Chaos warband. What is intriguing about these champions of the Starchild is that they have no idea that is who they are. They are simply freedom fighters, fighting the good fight on behalf of the common man against evil and chaos in all its forms. They do all have two things in common though. They are all descendants of the Emperor and they are all immortal. Ooooohhhh!! If you've been reading along with the Heresy at bedtime book and CD collections then you'll know that there are several immortal characters popping up in the story. Referred to as 'Perpetuals', people like Oll Perrson and Damon Prytanis have interesting and complex lives that have links with various important historical events throughout human history. It is inferred, for instance, that Oll was one of the Argonauts and fought during world war one.
What isn't discussed in the Heresy novels is where these Perpetuals come from (or at least some of them. A couple are created by the cabal and at least one was created by the Emperor). In LatD it's made pretty explicit. All the immortal champions of the Starchild are in fact descended from the Emperor himself and have part of his genetic make-up within them. In the 38,000 years between his birth and his taking over as the big cheese, LatD makes the assumption that the Emperor had some dalliances with the fairer sex and that at least some of these (probably the majority in the 10,000 years before the introduction of contraception - but then he's the Emperor, maybe his sperm pays no attention to contraception?) resulted in babies. These grew up as immortal beings known as Sensei. Now the book does say descendants, so we are free to assume that the children of the children of the children of the Emperors children are as equally immortal as each other so even assuming that the emperor only got randy once every 10 years and that only a proportion of those ever produced offspring and that a proportion of those survived long enough to produce offspring of their own etc. We could be looking a several thousand immortals wandering around fighting their own fight for their own reasons within the Imperium. Obviously hidden in amongst the teeming trillions of humanity this is a fairly small number but as a character type they introduce an intriguing possibility.
If we mix and match the overlapping bits of fluff we can write ourselves some interesting games involving Immortals, pursuing Inquisitors, vengeful chaos types, meddling xenos and all manner of other bits and bobs.
Add to this Illuminati and we've got even more craziness to contend with. The Illuminati are only briefly mentioned in LatD but are covered in more depth in StD but essentially they are survivors of possession. At some point in their lives they have been used as a vessel by a daemon of some sort and through extreme power of will have managed to defeat the evil being and have banished it from their body. This obviously leaves a fairly indelible mark on someones soul and through the knowledge that they have shared with the entity they know a hell of a lot more about the nature of the universe, chaos and the Emperor himself. The illuminati's plan is to ensure that at the moment of the Emperors death all the portions of his soul can be reunited by simultaneously sacrificing all the Sensei that they can catch. Unless you've read the inquisition series of books where all that is just Tzeentch messing about.
So, fed up playing Battle at the Farm? You could do a lot worse than delving into a bit of pseudo-fluff quackery and picking and choosing the parts that nearly make sense. Build a campaign around that kind of universe ending subterfuge. Play it as RT, Inq28, Inquisimunda, tiddlywinks, whatever, but use your imagination to scoop out the guts of 40K and have a good root around. There is still plenty waiting to be explored. And now you don't have to spend £100+ to do it. Cheers.