Characters: Warhammer 40000 Imperial Founders

In Warhammer 40,000, the prehistory of the Imperium of Man is best noted by the following figures.

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    The God-Emperor of Mankind 

At the center of the Imperium of Man is a figure known only as the Emperor of Mankind, now worshiped as the God-Emperor by the great masses of humanity. An immortal being of incredible scientific knowledge, psychic might, military prowess and charisma, the Emperor watched humanity's development over the course of human history, at times guiding it from the shadows, at other moments taking a more active role and serving as a prophet, general or sage as needed.

When galactic civilization collapsed following the Age of Strife, the Emperor fully revealed himself. With an army of gene-modded soldiers he won the Unification Wars for Terra, brokered an alliance with the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars, and led a Great Crusade to reconquer and reunite the galaxy. In this he was aided by the twenty Primarchs, his clone-sons, and the Space Marine Legions formed from their genetic templates. When humanity's triumph seemed inevitable, the Emperor retired to Terra to continue his next great work, leaving the Great Crusade in the hands of his favorite son Horus.

But the Warmaster betrayed his father, falling to the whispered seductions of the Chaos Gods and leading half of his brother Primarchs in a cataclysmic civil war known as the Horus Heresy. The Emperor was forced to kill Horus but was mortally wounded in the battle, and his last acts were to give instructions to complete the Golden Throne. Ten thousand years later, this life-support system sustains the Emperor's ruined husk, while his psychic might guides the Imperium even as it shudders closer to collapse.

Notable tropes:

  • Age Without Youth: The Golden Throne has kept the Emperor alive for ten thousand years, but he's gone from a mortally wounded man to a shriveled, mummified husk.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: invoked As the most mysterious and enigmatic, and yet vitally important figure, to the setting, he invites a lot of this. Was he a Physical God? An emissary from the future intended to lead humanity to a golden age? A unique mutant who further obscured the truth through his incredible psychic powers and mastery of lost technology? A gestalt embodiment of every human psyker to have existed before the birth of the Chaos Gods?note 
Even after the Emperor's entombment in the Golden Throne, these questions still persist. Is he still watching over the Imperium to this day, casting his mind into the warp to defend human souls from damnation as the mainline Ecclesiarchy dogma claims? Or did he "die" centuries ago and the Golden Throne is only maintaining the appearance that he has some semblance of life? Does the Golden Throne empower him in ways he could not be while he walked among men? Or is it limiting his potential by keeping him shackled to his mortal shell instead of ascending to true godhood?
On a more terrestrial level, it is conversed whether or not the Emperor was truly the messianic figure he claimed to be, or was rather a deranged dictator with delusions of grandeur and desired power for its own sake. Angron, before his fall to Chaos, reflected it was probably the latter due to the fact the 'choice' the Emperor gave (join me, accept my beliefs and serve me unreservedly or DIE) wasn't much of a choice at all, and also of how the Emperor just as often ordered the deaths of those who didn't agree with him as much as he did the deaths of actual tyrants who deserved what they got.
  • And I Must Scream: The Emperor is trapped mere inches from death, and has been that way for ten thousand years, his once-glorious physique withering into nothing more then a skeletal carcass intricately intermeshed in a mountainous machine-throne, his psyche locked within his skull and unable to communicate with the outside world. If fate was merciful, he would be oblivious to everything going on in the outer world. As this is Warhammer 40000, he's more likely perfectly aware that the Imperium has descended into a nightmarish techno-barbaric theocracy... and all of its madness and evil is done in his name.
    • He is said to be shedding microscopic tears for each man who dies in his service. The Custodes collect them in tiny vials.
  • Anti-Hero: What point on the scale depends on the individual, but the Emperor was equal parts wonderfully heroic and terribly flawed.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Emperor became Emperor because he had the mightiest armies, and he acquired many of those armies because of his own incredible physical and psychic strength.
  • Badass Boast: Many, but the creation of the Space Marines deserves a mention.
    They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest gun shall they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe will best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the terror. They are the defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines... and they shall know no fear.
  • Badass Bookworm: Almost 50 thousand years will make one this.
  • Badass Cape: A long red one.
  • Badass Grandpa: Around 38 thousand years old by the time of the Horus Heresy making him older than a Chaos God.
  • Badass In Charge: "Emperor of Mankind" kind of says it all.
  • Cultured Badass: The Emperor wasn't just out to save the human race, but also its historical and technological achievements (to an extent). The Imperial Palace had a massive museum dedicated to housing various bits of historically important machinery and artifacts, ranging from ancient pottery to parts of the first Warp-capable engine.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The Emperor believed this, in part because he knew that all gods were ultimately tied to Chaos, and ruthlessly pushed a secular worldview on the budding Imperium in hopes that it would starve the Chaos Gods. This might have worked in the long run if anything hadn't gone to hell. Or it might have failed epically, since the Chaos Gods are empowered by emotions as well as belief, and humanity isn't the only game in town. We don't know for sure.
  • Big Good: The Imperium has always viewed him as this. At best, though, he's a case of Good Is Not Nice; tough to be a good guy when you order whole intelligent races be made extinct. Justified in that many alien species would gladly do the same to humanity and Mankind's former alien allies immediately turned against them during the Age of Strife
  • Bling of War: His armor during the Great Crusade was golden Artificer armor
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: He is far more powerful than his guards. Though they're not so much bodyguards as companions (similar to Alexander the Great's companion cavalry), an elite cadre that can be committed at a critical time and place.
  • Break the Haughty: There's a quote about the formation of the Grey Knights attributed to him which heavily implies that seeing the Imperium put to the torch by his own sons, led by his favorite of all, cast into stark relief what terrible mistakes he'd made and the horrific consequences they ultimately had for humanity.
    One unbreakable shield against the coming darkness
    One last blade forged in defiance of fate
    Let them be my legacy to the galaxy I conquered
    And my final gift to the species I failed.
  • Broken Ace: The Emperor was a peerless warrior and general, the mightiest human psyker who ever lived, and a scientist brilliant beyond compare. He was also an arrogant man who permitted no dissent, father with questionable parenting skills (Though, the Primarchs were all grown men by the time he found them with strongly held beliefs and ideals, so trying to parent them all would have been incredibly difficult to say the least) and ultimately failed to protect the Human race during the Horus Heresy, only managing to preserve them at the cost of being trapped in the rotting ruins of his decomposing corpse while he feels every single cells die inch by inch.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • The original Chaos sourcebooks for Warhammer and 40K, "Slaves to Darkness" and "The Lost And The Damned", gave the Emperor an origin as the gestalt embodiment of a thousand powerful human psykers who had existed before the coming of the Chaos Gods, who realised that the dawning gods were consuming or corrupting all of their fellow Shamans and so ritually sacrificed themselves to create a single mighty Warp entity in human flesh that would be able to protect against and eventually defeat the Chaos Gods. This has been subtly Retconned out with the passing of the editions, most notably the recent emphasis that Chaos came into existence during the war between the C'tan and the Slann, making all of the Gods (bar Slaanesh) older by far than the human race. Presumably the intention is to make the Emperor even more enigmatic, unknowable and alien.
    • The same sourcebooks also introduced the concept of the Star Child — in essence a nascent God created when the Emperor was struck down by Horus and comprised of his positive attributes; compassion, love, tolerance, understanding, etc. Closely interlinked with this were the Illuminati, a secret cabal of daemonhosts who had been freed from their possession but retained incredible psychic powers and an immunity to all subsequent daemonic possession, and the Sensei, mutant offspring fathered unknowingly by the Emperor during his years amongst humanity, who were immortal, sterile, untouchable by Chaos and invisible to their father. The Illuminati were gathering the Sensei together, planning to sacrifice them in order to fuel the birth of the Star Child into a fully-fledged God to lead humanity to safety and glory once again. In the third edition corebook, the Star Child and its attendant Illuminati and Sensei was stricken from the setting, In-Universe, by noting that the "Star Child Cult" was a minor Tzeentchian cult that was hunted down and destroyed utterly by the Inquisition. The concept of the Sensei as ultra-pure anti-Chaos warriors with a bond to the Emperor even stronger than that possessed by the Space Marines may, however, have eventually inspired the creation of the Grey Knights as an Imperial sub-faction in later editions.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Emperor's cruel and arrogant treatment of several of the Primarchs (especially Lorgar and Magnus) is what pushed them to turn to Chaos.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: May have been the historical Jesus, so definitely. He even looks a little like a combination of a roid-raging Jesus and a Native American, though he was allegedly born in central Anatolia around 8000 BC, so he's probably a member of one of the extremely ancient ethnic groups from that area (one of which built Çatalhöyük, an incredibly advanced society for its time).
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: The first time was because the Chaos Gods had the Primarchs scattered to the stars. The second time was when he left the Great Crusade to begin working on an Imperial Webway. If he had bothered to tell the Primarchs this, he might have avoided (or at least delayed) the Horus Heresy.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Though he's a force for good, he's stuck in the Golden Throne, a life support machine that is fed the souls of a thousand psykers every day, so that he may never truly die.
  • Dark Messiah: For all his good intentions, even during the Great Crusade, the Emperor racked up a greater bodycount then every one of Earth's dictators combined and multiplied by several thousand, at the very least.
  • The Dreaded: The Chaos Gods themselves refer to him as "The Anathema".
  • The Emperor: Obviously.
  • Emperor Scientist: Was a genius, as the Astronomican, the Primarchs' creation, Space Marines, the Webway project, and a whole bunch of stuff can attest. The Adeptus Mechanicus reveres him for being the mortal avatar of the Omnissiah and publicly worships him for show for the greater Imperium.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Well, morally-ambiguous godlike autocrats, anyway. The Emperor's ability to empathize was mostly pretty suspect, but he regardless had extreme capacity for positive emotions beyond what is rational, with him having been mortally-injured in his fight with Horus from holding back due to failing to understand how far Horus was gone until it was too late (to say nothing of how Horus was long completely beloved by him) and forfeited his pride to throw his larger Salamander into a lava flow to save Vulkan's life, losing the contest for it (especially considering the Emperor's usual immense arrogance).
  • Expy: He's more or less a Jerkass-y rehash of Sigmar, and is also a rehash of Leto II Atreides.
  • The Extremist Was Right: It's true that during his life he killed a ton of people, and made highly objectionable decisions, exterminated entire intelligent races (something that would become a habit for the Imperium later on) but the Imperium he left behind is the only place Chaos can't completely defilenote , allows trillions to live unmolested, and even allows for something resembling a heaven of sorts. So yes, the Imperium worked. However, without the Emperor to oversee the Imperium, it worked in the absolute worst way possible.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Emperor absolutely despises Alien races for their actions during the Age of Strife, with many Xenos preying upon the weakened Human race, enslaving or killing billions of people and entire colonies. Though surprisingly he allowed some alien races to live if they submitted to the Imperium's authority and never left their home planet.
  • Fatal Flaw: Mainly arrogance. He was the pinnacle of humanity and he knew it. This caused him to never feel the need to explain himself, and assume that no one would betray or disobey him regardless of what he did.
    • He was a being of impossible power. Almost divine in nature. As more divine a man becomes, just as well his humanity fades. It is not unfeasible to believe that he was disconnected from humanity in such a way that he did not expect certain things anymore, like his sons' disloyalty. Furthermore, being right about almost everything left him with an outright inability to consider that his personal opinions might be mistaken.
    • The Priest in The Last Church realized this to be the Emperor's fatal flaw: that he simply could not comprehend other people's' (i.e. everyone else) desire to to believe in Godlike beings and that his own anti-religious actions would eventually lead to his people worshiping him.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Subverted with the Thunder Warriors, the forebears of the later Adeptus Astartes Legions and the very soldiers the Emperor created in order to aid him in his unification of Earth. Despite their great strength and abilities, the Thunder Warriors were a bunch of psychopaths, murderers and hardened criminals even before the augmentation surgeries that decreased their already low moral inhibitions and increased their aggression levels, the Emperor decided that their violent tendencies and bloody past made rendered them unfit to be the Paragons of Humanity that he desired his warriors to be. Thus, he had all of them slaughtered to a man, aside from a few survivors who have managed to work around the quick expiration date.
    • More or less played straight with the rest of the humanity. As long as they aren't corrupted by Chaos, that is...
  • Final Battle: According to the older editions, the Emperor is prophesied to rise up once again and lead Humanity in one last great Ragnarok scenario ending with him stalemating all four Chaos Gods and leaving Humanity finally free from the threat of Chaos and xenos races forever.
  • Flaming Sword: Shown as having one in the Horus Heresy artwork he appears in, though it may be a force sword he's powering with his psychic powers.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Which is why The Emperor is the single most important human to have ever lived.
  • Four-Star Badass: He didn't just win his battles by overwhelming force.
  • Freudian Excuse: Allied alien races betrayed Mankind during the Age of Strife, conquering, enslaving, destroying and killing entire human planets when the Golden Age of Technology collapsed because of the fall of the Eldar. The Emperor remembers this all too well and is willing to exterminate entire species in his quest to make the galaxy safe for Mankind once more
  • God Emperor: Tried to deny this during the Great Crusade, but cults deifying him were constantly springing up during that time. After the Horus Heresy, the Imperium became a theocracy with him as its god-figure.
  • A God I Am Not: Insisted that he was not a god, and did his best to crush any such worship that he found. This backfired on him spectacularly, as it was his censure of Lorgar and the Word Bearers that sowed the seeds of the Horus Heresy. As shown in the Wham Line below, he even knew that Horus was going to kill him. Unfortunately, after being confined to the Golden Throne, people began worshiping him as one anyway for the next ten thousand years.
  • God Is Good: To an extent. While he was still alive, his goal was to keep humanity from destroying itself in the same way that the Eldar empire did. His methods were what was morally questionable. He's still at least much more benevolent than the Chaos Gods, though generally weaker in most ways.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Emperor was/is probably the closest thing to a Big Good in the setting from a human perspective, considering his lofty goals. However, he sought to create a utopia entirely on his own terms and would not hesitate to crush anyone who stood in the way of his plans, even if they weren't necessarily directly opposing him (though especially if they were).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: According to The Outcast Dead, the Emperor went into the duel with Horus well aware that he was going to die.
  • Heroic Willpower: The Emperor's body is all but dead, and he's more than ready to die. The only thing keeping him alive? His own determination and love of humanity... and being fed one thousand psykers a day from his life support chair. Mostly the thousand psykers and chair, but the willpower helps.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: The Primarch Vulkan was, among his fellow primarchs, a representation of the Emperor's compassion for humanity. This fact is... just about the only way that aspect has been portrayed.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: While the Emperor sometimes provided most of a push towards it, ultimately, he was perfectly willing to recruit and fight alongside many individuals who not only went on to sell themselves to Chaos, but were such utter psychopaths that the Dark Gods made them immortal in reward for being so insane.
  • Humanoid Abomination: John Grammaticus once made psychic contact with the Emperor and had a panic attack just thinking about the experience two centuries later.
  • Humans Are White: Averted, artwork shows him as noticeably tan. He was born in Ancient Turkey, in fact.
  • Hypocrite: In The Last Church, he claims that religion is evil because deeply held beliefs lead to violence, citing certain historical examples such as the Crusades to argue the point. He has no qualms with leading a genocidal campaign of destruction based on the belief that Humanity Is Superior, though and called said campaign 'the Great Crusade'. Bonus points in that he was called out on it in the same story.
    Uriah: Didn't you just tell me about the bloodshed perpetrated by the Crusades? Doesn't that you make you no better than the holy men you were telling me about?
    The Emperor: The difference is that I am right.
    Uriah: Spoken like a true autocrat.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: A possible interpretation for some of his more questionable actions, no matter how many good intentions were behind them.
  • Idiot Ball: Many of the Emperor's decisions were so obviously wrong it's hard to imagine how a sensible human being could have made them, never mind a supposedly perfect being. Take, as a perfect example, the situation with the rescue of Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters Legion. The Emperor discovers Angron in the final stages of a Spartacus scenario, poised to be wiped out by a vastly superior number of forces. Having approached Angron in secret, Angron refuses to abandon his comrades and is willing to die with them. The Emperor's options include summoning his own forces to reinforce Angron's, whisking all of Angron's army aboard his massive spaceships, or unleashing an orbital barrage to at least devastate the enemy army so that Angron's force can win. Instead, as Roboute Guilliman had already brought the other side into the Imperium, he chooses to whisk Angron away from the battlefield at the last moment and leave Angron's friends and followers to be utterly wiped out, leaving Angron bitter, resentful, hating the Emperor, and full of rage — in other words, a perfect candidate to swear allegiance to Khorne in order to take revenge.
  • I Have Many Names: While his birth name is unknown, he is variously known as the Master of Mankind, the Outlander to the Salamanders and people of Nocturne, and the Allfather to the people of Fenris. The Mechanicus occasionally calls him the Omnissiah, at least officially. Followers of Chaos refer to him as the False Emperor and the Corpse-God, while Daemons call him the Anathema. In addition it's implied that he was several notable historical figures from our time, including possibly Jesus and St. George, though his 'dragon' was the Void Dragon.
  • Irony: Installed state atheism... and wound up being treated as a living god by countless cultures, the largest of which is a hardcore, prayer-heavy, fundamentalist pseudo-Catholic empire.
  • Jerkass: The Emperor was not always the nicest of people. To be blunt, many of the Primarchs who turned to Chaos did so because the Emperor had done considerable wrongs to them in the first place, which is hinted at in the game canon and usually shown in a more detailed fashion in the Horus Heresy novels.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Admittedly, for all of the shit that he pulled, the Emperor did everything for the good of mankind. Trying to act diplomatically to some of the xenos races helps too, though never to the point of outright tolerance.
  • Kick the Dog: Abducting Angron by teleporting him away against his will right before his fellow gladiators were about to begin their Last Stand is kind of a dick move.
  • King on His Deathbed: The state of the Emperor for the last ten thousand years is basically in a state mere seconds (maybe microseconds) away from death, only "surviving" (in a liberal use of the term) by the Golden Throne. Since 5th edition it has been established that the Golden Throne is developing problems that the Adeptus Mechanicus has no knowledge of how to fix, so the Emperor could fully die sometime in the 42nd millennium. But since that would require moving the story along, he looks safe for the time being.
  • Large and in Charge: In his heyday, the Emperor was about two or three times the size of a human being, and almost as broad across the shoulders as he was tall. Bear in mind, we've usually only seen him in Terminator armor.
    • Fan art exists of him without it. He looks to be rather standard in height. This makes sense, actually, since the Emperor apparently lived many thousands of years on Earth incognito, prodding humanity in the right-ish direction. For this to be possible, he would have had to be of relatively ordinary proportions.
    • On the other hand, it is also possible that he remained normally-proportioned until he revealed himself, at which point he used his godlike power to quintuple in size.
  • Light Is Good: He single-handedly saved Mankind, united them, developed a lasting empire, and rediscovered many of Humanity's lost sciences...
  • Light Is Not Good: ... but he killed billions (if not trillions) of people (humans and aliens) in the process.
  • Manifest Destiny: His credo was that humanity had one to rule the galaxy.
  • Man in the Machine: The Emperor was entombed in an incredibly elaborate life-support system known as the Golden Throne after he became mortally wounded slaying Horus. He has remained there ever since, existing in a vegetable-like state, unresponsive and uncommunicative, throughout the Imperium's history. His frame has atrophied to the point that he is almost skeletal, a wrecked shell of the man he once was.
  • Merger of Souls: He is sometimes said to be the reincarnation of thousands of prehistoric shamans' souls, merged into a singular being.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: There are several possible stories of the Emperor's origin; none have been confirmed as canon, although at least one has been decisively stamped out in the fluff.
  • Naytheist: While he attempted to build a Flat Earth Atheist empire, he knew full well that the Chaos Gods were real. The Emperor just didn't believe that psychic warp constructs embodying much of everything wrong with mortals deserved to be treated as gods. He pushed atheism in the belief that depriving the "gods" of worship would kill them or at least weaken to the point that they could no longer affect the Material Universe.
  • Necessarily Evil: He claimed that a number of his more morally ambiguous actions were these. Which ones were and how necessary they were is up to the reader/player to decide.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Several Traitor Primarchs got their Start of Darkness because the Emperor was such a Jerkass. One of the more significant examples; the Word Bearers became the first Legion to turn to Chaos, and thus were significantly involved in corrupting the rest, because the Emperor was furious that Lorgar had created and was spreading a faith dedicated to Emperor worship while ensuring that every last of the hundreds of the planets they conquered was practicing said faith, actions that ran directly contrary to the atheistic and scientific empire he was trying to create. In response the Emperor had the Ultramarines raze Monarchia, the capital city of a world dear to the Word Bearers and a location they considered perfect city. Then publicly reprimanded all of them for their failures to him and the Great Crusade, while using his immense power to force them all to kneel before him. The result? Lorgar ends up in a Crisis of Faith and then eagerly turns to gods that accept they are gods and expect worship — the Dark Gods of Chaos.
    • For that matter, his idea of handling Chaos in the first place was somewhat limited in hindsight. The Emperor strove to keep his followers as ignorant of the realities of Warp-space as possible, including that there really are beings out there that feed on human worship but have no benevolent intentions for humanity. (Though the people that knew and he informed about the dangers of the Warp such as Magus proceeded to ignore his warnings and damned themselves.) Result? Half of the Primarchs are corrupted, many of them unwillingly, and they took their Legions with them. The first Horus Heresy novel implicitly contrasts this to an empire called the Interex, who are open about the existence and dangers of Chaos (though they spell it Kaos) and strive to educate their populace about its dangers, making them enemies of Chaos because they know what it is and what it wants. Which resulted in them getting wiped out by the Imperium when the Chaos tainted Erebus manupilated both sides to war.
  • No Name Given: The Emperor's true name has been lost to time. It's said that the only person who knew was Malcador the Sigilite.
  • Not Quite Dead: ... but not quite alive, either.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Sure acted like he had one.
  • Our Founder
  • Our Gods Are Greater: Specifically for the Imperium, our God is on life support, insisted that he was never a god, and may in fact be dead, but he's still greater.
  • Parental Favoritism: After Horus, the Emperor's favorite Primarchs were (in no particular order) Sanguinius, Roboute Guilliman, Rogal Dorn, and Fulgrim.
  • Parents as People: He most definitely could have served as a better authority figure to the Primarchs and tried to remove some of their primitive, conflicting and disruptive ideology. But it is [[Understatement rather difficult]] to teach a crowd of superhuman that their lifelong and strongly held opinions are wrong and needs to be put aside. Much less attempting to serve as a parental figure to a bunch of centuries old adults who've already had parents.
  • The Patriarch: The Imperium portrays the Emperor as the spiritual father of humanity, as he rather invoked this image during the Great Crusade.
  • Pet the Dog: The Emperor recruited Vulkan by entering a series of contest against Vulkan where the winner would swear to serve the other. The two were tied for the final event of killing the largest Salamander they could and returning with its corpse. Vulkan taking his kill back was interrupted by the mountain he was standing on turning out to be a volcano and erupting, causing him to stuck in a Literal Cliffhanger over a lava flow, holding his Salamander with one hand preventing him from climbing back up. The Emperor found Vulkan and threw his (larger) Salamander into the lava flow as a bridge for Vulkan to walk on. The Emperor was declared the loser with nothing to show for the contest, but Vulkan swore fealty to the Emperor anyway, considering a man who favored life over pride worthy of service.
  • Physical God
  • Poor Communication Kills: One of the Emperor's greatest failings. He wanted to starve the Chaos Gods of worshipers, so he tried to push everyone to a secular worldview of "there are no gods"; instead of saying "what you think of as gods and demons are actually psychic-energy-creatures that want to eat your soul so DON'T DEAL WITH THEM", so people dealt with them anyway because (sometimes at least) they didn't know better. He wanted to return to Terra to finish work on establishing a permanent link to the Webway, and thus free humanity from terribly dangerous Warp travel; he said nothing of this to any of his Primarch sons, he simply left the Crusade after placing Horus in charge, then the Chaos Gods manipulated the already fragile status of the Primarchs and started the Horus Heresy.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In order to keep the Emperor alive, exactly one thousand psykers (those deemed unfit to be trained to resist Demonic Possession and made otherwise useful) are fed to the Golden Throne daily, being sacrificed so that their souls can power its psychic connection with the Astronomican, the warp-beacon that allows Imperial ships to navigate galaxy-spanning distances through the otherwise shrouded and swirling Empyrean. Should this connection ever go down, long-range interstellar travel would become impossible for humanity and the Imperium would fall apart and become easy prey to the multitudes of inhuman monsters they combat
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Equal parts trans and pro.
  • Psychic Powers: The most powerful psyker in human history, to the extent that even the Eldar and the Daemons of Chaos were afraid of what he might do if he got... motivated.
  • Really 700 Years Old: During the Horus Heresy, he was between 400 and 40,000 years old, depending on your interpretation of his Self-Proclaimed Liar statusnote , but merely looked as if he was in his mid- to late forties. His modern incarnation definitely looks 50,000 years old, though.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Personally lead the Great Crusade for centuries. His departure and retirement to the Imperial Palace actually caused a great deal of discontent.
  • Shadow Dictator: The forces of Chaos insist that the Emperor is long dead, that the various functions he fulfills are purely mechanical, and that he can do nothing to help the people of the Imperium, say, enjoy an afterlife. On the other hand, they're not very reliable and want people to lose faith in the God Emperor and the Imperium
  • Sorcerer King: The Emperor was the mightiest Human psyker ever born, out stripping even the Eldar, terrifying the daemonic denizens (some of whom were incredibly powerful in their own right) of the Warp and inspiring fear even in the Chaos Gods. He, among other things, was considered the greatest psyker (the franchise's term for psychics and sorcerers) of all time, capable of bending the fabric of reality, destroying suns and entire planets and seeing into the future (though the Chaos Gods clouded his insights to the future during the Horus Heresy). His power was considered godlike, despite his insistence otherwise.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: And he enforced that decree, with extreme prejudice. This is indirectly the cause of the Horus Heresy, also.
    Bjorn the Fell-Handed: God-Emperor? Calling him a god was how all this mess started.
  • Super Intelligence: ... which makes it really hard to believe that someone that intelligent could make so many bad decisions. However, high IQ doesn't necessarily mean high EQ, and the Emperor's was terrible. Most of his decisions make sense within an intellectual perimeter; he just never understood how they would affect the emotional well-being of his Primarchs, as well as his subjects.
  • Tautological Templar: His thinking, by the end. It led to many terrible problems.
  • Time Abyss: Sources indicate that the Emperor was born in 8,000 B.C., making him nearly fifty thousand years and more by the time of the game's setting.
  • Tragic Hero: By the settings standard, he did a lot of good for humanity at great moral cost. The result of his efforts included him coming to overestimate his wisdom, rely too much on his divination skills and failed to rein in the Primarchs. The result is half their numbers falling to Chaos and him interned upon the Golden Throne and helpless to intervene as humanity and everything he strived for becomes slowly corrupted and decay decay into everything he wished to prevent.
  • Tragic Mistake: Everything went downhill for the Imperium when The Emperor appointed Horus as Warmaster while he went back to Holy Terra.
  • Truly Single Parent: The Primarchs were partially created using the Emperor's own DNA.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Oh yes. In a setting where the "good guys" are almost always WIEs, the Emperor goes Up to Eleven for both values of "well-intentioned" and "extremist", taking both far beyond any scale of those measures that had come before or has come since. Though others in his time believed that he was after lordship of the galaxy, the Horus Heresy books have shown that the what the Emperor does, he is doing because he believes they are necessary for the continued survival, safety and eventual betterment of the Human race.
  • Wham Line: One particular line of his from the Horus Heresy series completely changes how you see him:
    Kai Zulane: But you're going to die.
    The Emperor: I know.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: In some depictions, mortals could not gaze upon the Emperor without going blind at the sight of his full glory. Even those beings who could - Space Marines, Primarchs, or humans with a particularly strong will - couldn't truly understand what they were seeing and, as a result, his features seemed to shift and change even while they were staring at him. Possibly meant as a Hand Wave to explain differing visual depictions of the Emperor.

    Malcador the Sigillite 
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

Serving the Emperor at the civilian level was Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra and first Master of the Administratum, Grand Master of Assassins, and First Lord of the Council of Terra. Affecting the simple robes of a regular Terran Administrator, Malcador was the Emperor's right hand man. While the Emperor managed the military and technological innovation that made the Imperium, Malcador crafted the bureaucracy that would one day be the Adeptus Terra. A powerful psyker, Malcador was also the founder of the Inquisition and the Grey Knights. During the Siege of Terra, Malcador took the Emperor's place on the Golden Throne, but the strain of the effort wore him out, causing him to turn to dust as soon as he was disconnected.

Malcador was first mentioned in early background materials, but has become a major character in the Horus Heresy series, appearing across multiple books.

Notable tropes:

  • Almighty Janitor: Even after becoming the Emperor's right-hand confidant, he still wears the simple robes of a Terran Administrator.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: It's suggested in the lore that he belonged to a secret order that has tried to guide humanity over the millennia, probably the Illuminati.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: He may be the founder of the Administratum, but he himself worked to get things moving along well enough, and was powerful enough to knock out Angron with a touch!
  • Cassandra Truth: He tried to convince the Emperor that the larger-than-life public persona he was using would inevitably lead to worship, which the Emperor dismissed.
  • The Chessmaster: Malcador plotted on a level that would make Lord Vetinari jealous.
  • Cool Old Guy: You can see why.
  • Collector of the Strange: His most treasured possessions were the Mona Lisa and Sunflowers. He funded archeologists when he could.
  • Fan of the Past: Related to the above, it's hinted at that he was a very avid fan of history. One who was far more knowledgeable of the past than many of his own contemporaries, if his comments on Shakespeare were anything to go by.
  • First Name Basis: With the Primarchs. Both Space Marines and regular Adepts were somewhat surprised by the informality between them.
  • The Good Chancellor: Read the Horus Heresy books and you learn that he had his shit down.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Taking up the reins of the Golden Throne, which allowed the Emperor to go and confront Horus, but ultimately killed him. Even then, he still kept a small sliver of psychic strength and gave it to the Emperor, allowing him to speak again before permanently falling silent.
  • Honest Advisor: He didn't mince words or hesitate to comment on (and criticize) the Emperor's actions. And not only did he get away with it, but the Emperor appreciated it.
  • In the Hood: A non-villainous example.
  • The Magnificent: The Sigillite ("bearer of the seal"), and after taking on the Golden Throne, the Emperor decreed he would be known as Malcador the Hero.
  • No Body Left Behind: Turned to dust after being disconnected from the Golden Throne.
  • Number Two: To the Emperor.
  • Old Retainer: He had been the Emperor's chief assistant and only confidant for centuries when the Great Crusade began.
  • Our Founder: To the Administratum, the Officio Assassinorum, and the Inquisition. Considering that these three organizations have been keeping humanity in a repressive hellhole for ten thousand years, it may be an example of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Psychic Powers: Third most powerful psyker in the Imperium, surpassed only by the the Emperor and Magnus.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He did a pretty fine job keeping the Imperium in working order. He also got away with criticizing the Emperor if there was any need to.
  • Staff of Authority: And it's on fire. Why? It looks cool.

The Primarchs

    In General 
From the left (click for full size): Sanguinius, Mortarion, Magnus the Red, Angron, Jaghatai Khan, Lorgar Aurelian, Rogal Dorn, Horus Lupercal, and Fulgrim.

Each of us carries part of our father within us, whether it is his hunger for battle, his psychic talent or his determination to succeed.

In the process of creating the Space Marine Legions, the Emperor created twenty clone-sons from his own DNA to serve as templates for the legions. They were scattered across the galaxy by the Chaos Gods in their infancy, to be recovered by the Emperor as the Great Crusade progressed. These posthuman demigods rose to dominate the worlds they landed upon, and were given command of the Space Marine legion based off their DNA. For a time they stood as humanity's ultimate warriors, but when the Horus Heresy erupted half of them became mankind's greatest foes. In the 41st Millennium they have passed into legend, as the mythic founders of the Imperium and the forefathers of the loyalist First Founding Space Marine chapters.

For more about the Primarchs' legions, see the Space Marines and Chaos Marines character pages.

Notable tropes:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Generally, at least as far as their own legions were concerned, the Primarchs were adored and borderline-worshipped. They weren't just commanders - they were fathers. Their word was absolute and their orders were infallible. Even the highest commanders of the legion tended to Squee (in a tough, manly way) at the thought of being talked to by their Primarch. There were a handful of aversions - most strikingly Angron and Curze - but most of the Primarchs were considered the heart and soul of their legions.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: The surviving Traitor Primarchs have ascended to Daemon Prince status.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: They kicked ass before they became Legion Masters.
  • Badass Baritone: When speaking in the Horus Heresy books the Primarch are frequently described as "rumbling".
  • Badass Bookworm: Lion El'Jonson, Roboute Guilliman, Lorgar, and Magnus the Red.
  • Badass Cape: Rogal Dorn, Fulgrim, Lion El'Jonnson, and Leman Russ.
  • Badass In Charge: Many were leaders in one form or another prior to being found by the Emperor, and each led a Space Marine Legion.
  • Bald of Awesome: Vulkan. Horus, Mortarion, and Perturabo as well, before they became the other variety.
  • Battle Trophy: Most had some sort of collection of various trophies during the Great Crusade. Fulgrim presented Ferrus Manus' head to Horus during the Heresy and it is implied that Trazyn the Infinite has a primarch in stasis as part of his collection, likely Vulkan.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted by Fulgrim, played straight by Sanguinius.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Sanguinius was perhaps the noblest of the Primarchs, firmly believing that humanity should be ruled by its hopes and dreams. He sliced through Greater Daemons of Chaos like they were nothing.
    • Vulkan's compassion for civilians lead him to placing his own Salamanders in more risk to protect the humans. He could send Predators and Land Raiders flying through the air with a single swing of his Thunder Hammer.
    • Corax strongly believed in the Space Marines being the liberators of humankind, not enslavers. During the Drop Site Massacre he tore through Daemon-possessed Space Marines like they were paper.
    • Roboute Guilliman set up the most functional government of the post-Heresy Imperium due to his beliefs in the Astartes serving humanity. During the Battle of Calth he decapitated fully-armed Word Bearers by punching their heads off.
    • Lorgar is probably the Most Triumphant Example in the series considering that he was a guy who hated fighting and wanted nothing more than have philisophical discussions with his brothers, yet was the first one to turn to Chaos and started the Heresy to begin with.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The reason Horus had to challenge the Emperor to personal combat was because he knew the Ultramarines, Space Wolves and Dark Angels were all rushing to the relief of Terra, and extremely hacked off. If the Emperor had known this, he may have decided to wait the attackers out rather than making a desperate counter-attack, but he didn't and the rest is history.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Lets just say it ended in tears.
  • Bling of War: Standard battle dress for the Primarchs was solid gold power armour, ranging from Artificer to Terminator armour. Mortarion was actually notable for not have excessive bling.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: The Primarchs' standard arms were master-crafted power and chain weapons. Ferrus Manus was notable for not having blinged-out weaponry.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: They had bodyguards of mere Space Marines. Lampshaded by Corax after he dissolves his honour guard during the Drop Site Massacre:
    "That was for appearance. Do you think I actually need a bodyguard?"
  • Broken Ace: The Primarchs were humanity's greatest heroes and leaders, but they had some issues. The Traitor Primarchs take it Up to Eleven, particularly Angron.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: The Horus Heresy in a nutshell. Half of them jumped ship because they wanted to tell Daddy Emperor that he's an asshole.
  • Captain Ersatz: Prior to their first meeting with the Emperor, you had Konrad Curze as a Darker and Edgier version of Batman, Angron as a cyber-augmented Spartacus, and Jaghatai Khan as Genghis Khan.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: All of the Primarchs found themselves on worlds where their skills allowed them to improve the lives of the fellows. Konrad Curze went insane from it.
  • Cultured Badass: Fulgrim, Magnus, and Sanguinius.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Roboute Guilliman and Rogal Dorn. Horus' corpse was a thing of reference for Chaos Marines until the Black Legion destroyed it.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Chaos Gods insist that the Emperor had to cut one with them in order to make the Primarchs, not that Chaos is reliable.
  • The Dutiful Son: Horus (pre-heresy), Rogal Dorn, Sangiunius, and Roboute Guilliman.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Corvus Corax and Konrad Curze.
  • Evil Former Friend: Horus for Sanguinius, Fulgrim for Ferrus Manus.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Had anyone known about the damage they would have done in the future, many of the traitor Primarchs would have been left to die as children.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • For the Traitor Primarchs:
      • Lorgar's need to be devoted to a higher power.
      • Night Haunter's need to enforce justice by whatever means necessary.
      • Horus' obsession with getting glory for himself and his legion.
      • Alpharius' need to prove he was the cleverest in the room. As a result, he may have become loyal once more after the Heresy, or he might never have truly turned in the first place, just to mess with everybody.
      • Angron's obsession with avenging his comrades.
      • Mortarion's lack of self-confidence which leads him to seek guidance from the wrong people.
      • Fulgrim's mistrust of the other Primarchs.
      • Magnus' reckless use of Chaos magic resulting from arrogance.
      • Perturabo's hated of being typecast as a siege specialist.
    • For the loyal Primarchs:
      • Leman Russ's need to be in service to another.
      • Roboute Guilliman's obsessive need for orthodoxy.
      • Lion El'Jonson's inability to read or relate to others.
  • Fiery Red Head: Leman Russ, Magnus the Red, and Angron.
  • Four-Star Badass: What they were designed to be.
  • Freudian Excuse: Many of the most blatant flaws among the Primarchs can be easily tracked from their backgrounds (such as Horus' pride stemming from the Emperor having always liked him best, or Mortarion's lack of self-confidence being born out of failing to kill his foster-father and only surviving from the Emperor's intervention).
  • Generation Xerox
    • Lion El'Johnson was betrayed the same way Horus betrayed the Emperor.
    • Ferrus Manus' teachings against cybernetics is now ignored the same way The Emperor's claim that he is not God is now considered heresy.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • The downfall of Corvus Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard. After his chapter suffered terrible losses in the Horus Heresy, he turned to highly dangerous growth acceleration techniques to boost its numbers. This resulted in a nightmarish horde of misshapen monsters, most of which couldn't even hold a boltgun, and who had to be herded into battle. When the Heresy was over, Corax locked himself in his tower for a year and a day, finally emerging to personally give each one of his creations "the Emperor's peace" before leaving for parts unknown, his last word being "Nevermore."
    • Rogal Dorn after the Emperor died. He went from being the beloved son to an avenging angel dressed in black.
    • Horus's BSOD was so epic, it ended up destroying the galaxy-wide empire he'd fought so hard to build in the first place.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Not on the level of the Emperor, but the Horus Heresy books show unaugmented humans suffering Brown Notes upon seeing the Primarchs. It's described as sensory overload.
  • Hypocrite:
    • When Roboute Guilliman denounced Alpharius' tactics, he pointed to his legion's admittedly illustrious record to prove that he was right, essentially telling Alpharius that he would never be able to top that. Never mind the fact that this massive, illustrious record came, not from any kind of tactical doctrine, but rather from having a 200 year headstart over Alpharius. Averted somewhat with Guilliman's point of view, he was trying to show Alpharius the record after the battle; while Alpharius tactics were effective during battles they resulted in mass unrest compare to Guilliman's swift recovery and integration into the Imperium.
    • Angron loves to talk about how the Butcher's Nails ruined him only to use them on his own legion.
  • In the Blood: The Horus Heresy has established that each of the Primarchs represented an aspect of the Emperor's personality:
    • Horus Lupercal represented his ambition.
    • Roboute Guilliman represented his strategic genius and statesmanship.
    • Rogal Dorn represented his determination.
    • Vulkan represented his compassion for humanity.
    • Angron represented his wrath.
    • Lion El'Jonson represented his secretive nature.
    • Lorgar Aurelian represented his ability to inspire.
    • Magnus represented his psychic powers.
    • Leman Russ represented his ruthlessness.
    • Alpharius and Omegon represented his mysteriousness.
    • Corvus Corax represented his cleverness and tactical insight.
    • Perturabo represented his scientific and technological brilliance.
    • Mortarion represented his resilience.
    • Fulgrim represented his drive for perfection.
    • Konrad Curze represented his terrifying nature.
    • Ferrus Manus represented his desire to make himself stronger.
    • Jaghatai Khan represented his love of battle.
    • Sanguinius represented all of him.
  • The Juggernaut: Angron and Leman Russ. You could not beat them, nor could you outrun them.
  • King in the Mountain:
    • The Ultramarines have the poisoned body of Roboute Guilliman in stasis, and some members of the chapter insist that he is slowly healing himself and will someday reawaken.
    • Some Dark Angels similarly believe that Lion El'Jonson is somewhere deep within their traveling asteroid base, The Rock. He is, on life support.
    • The Salamanders, Space Wolves, White Scars, Raven Guard and Imperial Fists' (according to some accounts) Primarchs left their chapters behind and disappeared into myth, many saying they would return for the final battle. Someone who could be Leman Russ was spotted in unconfirmed reports during the thirteenth Black Crusade, leading the long lost Thirteenth Company.
    • The Iron Hands have stories about Ferrus Manus returning, although his head was cut off and presented to Horus.
    • The only one who is explicitly stated to not have any legends of returning is Sanguinius, but there are some theories about who exactly the Sanguinor is, and several Blood Angels have claimed to be Sanguinius reborn, which got ugly quickly.
  • Large and in Charge: The Primarchs were quite large. Fulgrim wearing nothing but a robe is remarked to be a head taller than his own First Captain in Terminator Armour. Even Alpharius and Omegon, the smallest of the Primarchs, were a head taller than the average Space Marine. Magnus was an absolute giant.
    • To give a sense of scale, the average Space Marine stands a little above 2.1 meters (7 feet) tall. Lion El'Jonson, unarmored, is said to be a little over three meters tall. Magnus? Stands a full 5 meters, almost two meters taller than the Lion, and three taller than a Space Marine!
  • Orcus on His Throne: Of the surviving Traitor Primarchs, only Angron of the World Eaters has actually left his Daemon World to wage war on the Imperium. Magnus joined the Thousand Sons on Fenris for a full-scale assault on the Space Wolves, but that ended with the Sons being routed and Magnus defeated in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Our Founder: Of the Space Marine legions. Rogal Dorn has 3 chapters bearing his name.
  • Parental Issues: A possible explanation for some of the Primarch's falls from grace. All were scattered by the Chaos gods across the galaxy as infants, leaving some of them to effectively raise themselves. Horus was the first Primarch recovered and always his favorite, and some of the later Primarchs barely spent any time with their father at all, especially the last one to be found, Alpharius of the Alpha Legion.
  • The Patriarch: Many Space Marines see their Primarchs this way, and the Emperor as that to their Primarchs. Given that all Space Marines are implanted with geneseeds descended from their Primarchs, and the Primarchs themselves were engineered with genes from the Emperor, this is almost literally the case. They have many rituals revering both Primarch and Emperor, resembling almost a form of filial piety and ancestor-worship, compared to the more distant and divine worship common to the rest of the Imperium.
  • The Perfectionist: Ferrus Manus and Fulgrim. They became friends in what was basically a perfectionism fight - who could craft the best weapon. Manus made a sword, Fulgrim made a hammer. They both inspected each other's works; neither could find a flaw, and they traded. Cue bifflehood. During a duel aboard Ferrus Manus's ship when he refused Fulgrim's offer of joining Chaos, the weapons were traded back (the sword was broken and discarded, and Fulgrim stole the hammer). At the battle of Istvaan, where Fulgrim is on the verge of accepting his new demonic nature, he and Manus go down in a duel to the death using the weapons they made.
  • Pretty Boy: Sanguinius and Fulgrim are noted to be extraordinarily beautiful in a boyishly youthful way.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • Magnus was the second most powerful psyker in human history, surpassed only by the Emperor.
    • Sanguinius, Leman Russ, Konrad Curze, Lorgar, Lion el'Jonson, and most if not all of the rest of the Primarchs had at least rudimentary psychic abilities, mostly manifesting in prophetic visions of the future.
    • Lorgar was able to ward off Magnus's psychic projection. Sure, Magnus was light years away, but it is still a feat far beyond any alpha plus psyker of 40k.
  • Punny Name: Lion El'Jonson, Angron, Ferrus Manus.
  • Put on a Bus: Many of the loyalist Primarchs are either dead, disappeared, or in a King in the Mountain situation.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Horus versus the Emperor, underhanded Alpharius against honourable Roboute Gulliman of the Ultramarines, siege expert Perturabo of the Iron Warriors versus fortifications expert Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists.
  • Raised by Natives: Most of the Primarchs.
  • Raised by Wolves: Lion El'Jonnson, Konrad Curze, and Leman Russ (quite literally). Well, after he crawled out of the volcano he made planetfall in...
  • Rebel Leader: Angron, Corvus Corax, and Mortarion.
  • Religious Bruiser: Lorgar, with terrible consequences. Also, in a shamanistic variant, Leman Russ.
  • The Resenter:
    • Perturabo towards Rogal Dorn.
    • Horus suspected that Roboute Guilliman and Lion El'Jonnson resented not being chosen as Warmaster.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • Upon being introduced to his Legion and seeing that there were only two hundred Marines who had survived the augmentations, Fulgrim gave such a rousing speech that the Emperor was so moved that he renamed them the Emperor's Children.
    • Lorgar was able to give such inspiring speeches that he could turn whole worlds to the Imperial cause.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Since they're considered the Emperor's sons, they're technically royalty. Ultimately subverted however, in that he never intended them to rule the Imperium, fearing that such a trend would lead to humanity instead being ruled by a genetically enhanced ruling class (ironic, considering that the Emperor was barely human himself) instead of by its own. Forcing them to be beholden to their inferiors who did nothing to help establish the Imperium also helped contribute to the Horus Heresy.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Present and accounted for. Since there's twenty of said siblings, elaborating would certainly get verbose.
  • Start of Darkness: The copious backstory provides explanations for why the Traitor Primarchs went rebel, often stemming from a sympathetic Freudian Excuse or other Parental Issues:
    • Horus was the first to be discovered by the Emperor, and enjoyed many years of being his only child. He remained the favored son afterward, but upon appointment to Warmaster he began to crack under the immense pressure, and was stung by the Emperor taking credit for Horus' hard-fought victories. Pride did the rest, along with some subtle pushing from his advisors and getting saved from a mortal wound using Chaos techniques.
    • Angron was discovered in the midst of making a Last Stand after leading a Gladiator Revolt. Instead of coming to the rescue, the Emperor teleported Angron off the battlefield, leaving the Primarch to watch helplessly from orbit as his men were butchered. Angron never forgave him.
    • Magnus the Red used his foresight to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery, but used forbidden magicks to send the message, inadvertantly damaging the Emperor's work on a Webway Gate. The Emperor refused to believe him and sicced the Space Wolves on the silver spires of Magnus' homeworld. Having been cast out despite the best intentions, Magnus sided with Horus.
    • Mortarion joined Horus after being promised a new order in which the strong would rule the weak. Also, he began to see the Emperor as a tyrant similar to the one from his homeworld.
    • Fulgrim was a perfectionist and aesthete who became corrupted by a daemon sword, allowing Horus to convince him that the Emperor was preventing humanity from reaching its full potential.
    • Lorgar was one of the first to view the Emperor as a divine being, but was chastized after spending more time building cathedrals than conquering new worlds. The Chaos Gods provided a new focus for worship.
    • Perturabo gained such a reputation for siegecraft that he fell victim to typecasting and had his legion regulated almost entirely to garrison duty, in some cases with a single squad of Iron Warriors expected to keep order over millions. To add insult to injury his homeworld revolted, leading the Primarch and his legion to vent their frustrations in an act of genocide that sealed their fate as murderous rebels.
    • Konrad Curze was plagued by visions of a dark future and his death at the Emperor's orders. During the Great Crusade his Night Lords were used to terrify worlds into compliance, even as the Emperor rebuked them for their brutal tactics.
    • Alpharius/Omegon was the last Primarch to be rediscovered and barely spent any time with the Emperor at all. There's considerable debate over if he even turned to Chaos at all, or what his motives in doing so might be.
  • The Strategist: Horus, Roboute Guilliman, Rogal Dorn, and Perturabo. Some lore has stated that Corax was a better tactician than Horus, and that many of Horus' most acclaimed victories were actually Horus taking credit for Corax's work.
  • Super Prototype: To the Space Marines.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Mortarion and Vulkan.
    • Perturabo, minus the peaceful.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Leman Russ and Lion El'Jonson.
  • Warrior Poet: Magnus the Red and Lorgar. Lorgar in particular leaned so heavily on the side of the poet that he detested being a warrior, and many of his brothers did not consider him one. Magnus on the other hand was proud to consider himself a warrior, and thought it was his duty as a general to acquire the knowledge of annexed or destroyed civilizations, in the hopes of bringing enlightenment to humanity, mostly in the form of mastery of the Warp.
  • Warrior Prince: By the time the Emperor found the Primarchs, most of them had united their homeworlds or overthrown its corrupt rulers.
  • Weapon of Choice: All of the Primarchs had unique and powerful weapons, detailed below.
    • Drop the Hammer: Thunder Hammers were popular. Ferrus Manus's was called Forgebreaker. Vulkan, being a master smith and craftsman, had several, one called Thunderhead and another called Dawnbreaker. Perturabo also had one. Horus also had a Power Maul called Worldbreaker.
    • Heroes Prefer Swords: Lion El'Jonson had one called the Lion Sword, Leman Russ named his Mjalnar, Rogal Dorn had a Chainsword which he shattered after the Siege of Terra; part of it was used to make the Sword of the High Marshals, and his second sword was the Sword of Sebastus. Fulgrim had one called Fireblade. Alpharius, Sanguinius, and Jaghatai Khan were also known to use swords.
  • Windows of the Soul: No one could hold the gaze of a Primarch for long except for the Emperor, another Primarch, the Eldar, or daemons, as the intensity in their eyes was so great that even Space Marines looked away.

Loyalist Primarchs

     Lion El'Jonson 

Lion El'Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels

Lion El'Jonson was scattered to the planet Caliban, a verdant world near the Eye of Terror where a knighthood called the Order battled against mutated monsters. A knight named Luther found this wild child in the jungles and brought him back to his fortress-monastery, where El'Jonson quickly assimilated Caliban's culture and climbed the ranks of the Order. Soon he was its Supreme Grand Master and the Lion had cleansed Caliban of beasts, while jealousy grew in his friend Luther.

When the Emperor found El'Jonson, he was appointed Primarch of the First Legion, which became the Dark Angels. The Lion brought many from the Order into its ranks, but while they fought in the Great Crusade, Luther and others were sent back to serve as Caliban's garrison. The Dark Angels campaigned against the Night Lords but otherwise played only a marginal role in the Horus Heresy, and El'Jonson arrived at Terra too late to save the Emperor. In the aftermath, he and his fleet returned to Caliban, only to be fired upon by Luther and the Dark Angels who remained there.

Enraged beyond rational thought, the Lion dueled his former mentor while the Dark Angels blew apart their homeworld in an orbital bombardment. In the end, Caliban was destroyed, the rebellious Fallen Angels were scattered across space and time by a Warp rift, and the Primarch disappeared. Unbeknownst to his followers, El'Jonson was taken by the Watchers in the Dark, and slumbers in a hidden chamber deep within the Dark Angels' fortress-monastery, making him the only loyalist Primarch known for certain to still be alive.

  • Horrible Judge of Character: Acknowledged to be one in-universe. For all his tactical brilliance, El'Jonson was horrible at reading people and discerning if they could be trusted or not. He relied on Luther to make those judgements for him until Luther was "exiled" back to Caliban.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Both in backstory and deed—El'Jonson's code of personal honor meant that he was the only Primarch that Guilliman said he could look up to, who similarly thought that the Lion was the only possible contender for Warmaster than Horus.
  • Master Swordsman: The Lion could draw and strike with his blade faster than Konrad Curze could react.
  • Meaningful Name: Translates to "The Lion, Son of the Forest."
  • The Quiet One: One of the most reclusive Primarchs, preferring to let his adopted brother/best friend Luther do all the socializing.
  • Red Baron: The Lion of Caliban.
  • The Rival/Vitriolic Best Buds: To Leman Russ. The two butted heads frequently, especially over a particular incident that led to a nearly two-day-long brawl between them that ended with Lion cold-cocking Russ, which became the basis of the honor duels that the Dark Angels and Space Wolves still fight. Despite their friction, they both agreed that the Emperor naming Horus as Warmaster was confirmation of his being the favorite son.
  • Shout-Out: To Lionel Johnson (a gay poet who authored The Dark Angel). Similarly, the Dark Angels' base, The Rock, was apparently named for a gay bar near Games Workshop headquarters.
  • Sudden Name Change: Used to be named Lyyn Elgonsen. This was changed fairly early.
  • Tranquil Fury: In direct contrast to Leman Russ. It wasn't easy to get Jonson riled up, but it was even harder to calm him back down.
  • Wild Child: By all rights that jungle should have killed him. The jungle failed.

     Jaghatai Khan 

Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars

Jaghatai Khan grew up on the planet Mundus Planus, or Chogoris in its natives' language. He was taken in by the nomadic clans in the grasslands beyond the world's dominant empire, and grew into a fearsome warrior. After his adopted father was slain by a rival clan leader, Jaghatai exacted a horrible revenge, united the others tribes under his rule, and went on to conquer his homeworld.

When the Emperor arrived six months later, Jaghatai recognized a ruler fit to unite the galaxy and took command of the Vth Legion, which became the White Scars. Aside from adopting the scarification rituals of Chogoris, the legion adapted the tactics of its horsemen to become a powerful, highly-mobile army. The Khan was also instrumental, along with Sanguinius and Magnus the Red, in founding the Space Marine Legions' Librarius program, which caused friction with Leman Russ, Mortarion and eventually the Emperor. As such, Jaghatai and the White Scars kept to themselves, waging their own campaigns against xenos threats during the Great Crusade.

During the Horus Heresy, many were unsure which side the Khan would join, but Jaghatai rushed back to Terra to fight alongside the Emperor. The White Scars led many sallies from the Imperial Palace during the Siege of Terra, and pursued the traitors to the Eye of Terror when the siege failed. Jaghatai Khan and his First Brotherhood disappeared some seventy years after the Heresy while pursuing Dark Eldar reavers into the Webway, but the White Scars believe that their Primarch will one day return to them.

  • Badass Biker: Although he was also known to fight from atop a Razorback during the Siege of Terra.
  • Badass Moustache: Of epic Mongol proportions.
  • Blood Knight: Jaghatai Khan's piece of the Emperor in him was his love of battle. In particular, he joined the Emperor to unite all of the stars into one empire; unlike other Primarchs, after succeeding in conquering his homeworld, he had no interest in actually ruling it.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Fulgrim: I heard from a contact on Mars, Jaghatai, that you do strange things to your ships.
    Jaghtai Khan: I heard you do strange things to your warriors.
  • Expy: Pretty obviously like Genghis Khan in his background.
  • Master Swordsman: He and Fulgrim were described to be amongst the best duelists and swordfighters of the galaxy. Jaghatai's ability combined both his incredible speed and technique.
  • The Philosopher: Despite his barbarian background, the Khan believed that warriors should do more than just train their bodies for war. From caligraphy to poetry to Go, he instilled the belief in his Astartes to develop their minds in such a way that they would always try to see combat in a bigger picture.
  • The Quiet One: He was one of the more reclusive Primarchs. While he wasn't rude and was very polite, he was very private and eschewed bragging. His love of battle over statesmanship led him to be far more independent from the rest of the Imperium, and far less engaged in the political controversy, intrigue and turmoil that went on prior to and during the Horus Heresy. He was also a man who liked to hold his cards close to his chest and rarely revealed his secrets to others. This caused many people to overlook him and the White Scars, which allowed the White Scars a great deal of independence (which is what they preferred anyway).
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In other legions, the Warriors Lodges had to operate in secrecy, and were disliked by most Primarchs since they were thought to transmit disparate thoughts from the interests of the Imperium. As for Jaghatai,
    I let them meet. I am not a tyrant.
  • Red Baron: The Great Khan, the Warhawk.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Or at least smart. He recognized the value of psykers, and quietly campaigned for their acceptance in the Imperium as a whole. When the Emperor basically banned the use of Librarians through the Edict of Nikaea, Khan ordered his legion to ignore the ban and continue using psykers. This meant they were better prepared to face daemonic threats during the Horus Heresy.
  • Victory Is Boring: The Khan conquered Chogoris mainly for revenge against his enemies, and had no interest in actually ruling his empire. Once he left to join the White Scars, his domain broke into warring nations; scholars speculate that Jaghatai knew this would happen but wanted his people to remain strong to provide future recruits for his legion.
  • Wild Card: For the early part of the Heresy, no one was sure about the Khan's intentions or who he would side with - the loyalists didn't truly trust him, Horus thought he'd be the easiest Primarch to win over, and Mortarion tried to recruit him to the rebels' cause.

     Leman Russ 

Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves

My enemies should know what's coming to greet them. It fixes them in the right mental place to be annihilated. I don't like to hide my strengths or my approach. I'd rather my foe knows the full, unimaginable fury that is about to descend upon him.

Leman Russ was raised by a she-wolf in the frozen wastes of Fenris, but was brought to civilization when a raiding party killed most of his pack and captured him. He grew to be garrulous and boisterous among his friends but a terrifying foe on the battlefield, and was eventually raised to the throne of Fenris. The Emperor, hearing tales of this mighty ruler, recognized him as a Primarch and traveled to Fenris, only to have Russ engage him in three contests - eating, drinking, and combat. Russ actually won the first two but was felled in the third, and swore fealty to the Emperor.

Under Russ' leadership the VI Legion, the Space Wolves, became known as "the Rout," a force that utterly devastated any foe that stood in their way. Despite his well-deserved reputation for berserker behaviour, Russ was a shrewd and cunning leader, someone Roboute Guilliman counted among the "dauntless few" Primarchs who could be the most counted upon to serve the Emperor's will. Russ' relationship with other Primarchs was more strained: he feuded with Lion El'Jonson, battled against Angron, and despised psykers such as Magnus the Red.

When the latter defied the Edict of Nikaea, the Space Wolves were sent to punish the Thousand Sons for their sorcerous ways and Russ broke Magnus the Red in personal combat. This campaign left the Space Wolves isolated from the great battles of the Horus Heresy, and to Russ' shame he was unable to return to Terra in time to save the Emperor. Two hundred years after the Heresy, Leman Russ abruptly departed for the Eye of Terror along with nearly all his Wolf Guard, promising that he would return to lead his chapter in its greatest and final conflict.

  • The Alcoholic: He and his legion are pretty much the only Space Marines to consume alcohol (though they have to imbibe it in quantities that would kill a normal human several times over in order to overcome their superhuman constitution). Notable in that when the Emperor first came to Fenris, Russ challenged him to a drinking contest and won!
  • Big Eater: As well as Big Drinker. Quite often, when the Emperor came incognito to one of his missing son's homeworld, he'd challenge them in different forms of duels, but these end in either draw or victory for the Emperor. Russ was the only one who beat the Emperor, although that was on eating and drinking. The Emperor then called Russ a glutton and a drunkard, which incensed Russ enough to challenge him in combat. The Emperor won handily enough.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Spear of Russ. Russ never really used it, but successive Space Wolf heroes have developed a tendency to throw the thing into the eye of Magnus the Red.
  • Blood Knight: A heroic example - he loves a good scrap.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He is one, but he tends to inflate this concept to help create the 'barbarian king' persona to others. There is some speculation that it's a coping mechanism to deal with some of the orders his Wolves have executed.
  • Canis Major: He was raised by these as a child. His army later started to use these in battle.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Leman Russ earned such a brutal reputation during the Great Crusade that the Space Wolves were nicknamed "the Rout".
    • Leman himself was on the receiving end of one at the hands of Angron in a duel...which was exactly what Russ wanted: he would lose, but his warriors would kill Angron in return. Lorgar was baffled that Angron never understood the lesson Russ was trying to teach.
  • Death World: His home of Fenris.
  • Does Not Like Magic: One of the most outspoken anti-psyker Primarchs, rivaled only by Mortarion. He insisted that his Rune Priests were completely different and channeled the natural forces of Fenris, even though they were functionally identical to the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons.
  • Drinking Contest: A significant part of the legend of Russ and the Emperor's first meeting, followed by...
  • Eating Contest: By this point the Emperor got annoyed, and accused Russ of proving only that the Wolf-King was the greater glutton.
  • Famous Last Words: "Listen closely Brothers, for my life's breath is all but spent. There shall come a time far from now when our Chapter itself is dying, even as I am now dying, and our foes shall gather to destroy us. Then my children, I shall listen for your call in whatever realm of death holds me, and come I shall, no matter what the laws of life and death forbid. At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime."
  • Fiery Redhead: Well, he's described as such in the books. Other times he's described as blond. And the artwork doesn't help either.
  • Find the Cure: Disappeared searching for a way to heal the Emperor of his wounds.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Mjalnar.
  • Horny Vikings: Leads an entire army of these guys.
  • Jerk Ass: Russ had an extremely combative personality and of all the Primarchs only Angron was more prone to starting fights amongst his brothers. To wit, he fought with Magnus (over his use of sorcerers), Jaghati Khan (over his founding of the Librarius program), Guilliman (over being asked to split up his legion), Angron (over his bloodthirsty way of waging war), and El'Jonson (see the Kill Steal entry below).
  • Kill Steal: The heart of the feud between Russ and Lion El'Jonson. The leader of the planet Dulan had insulted Russ, who fought his way to the enemy's throne room just in time to see El'Jonson behead him. Russ socked El'Jonson in the jaw, leading to a protracted battle that abruptly ended when Russ started laughing at his own immaturity. El'Jonson responded by knocking Russ cold and leaving with his Dark Angels in a huff.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: He doesn't care if he is ordered to kill an entire chapter of Space Marines, even if they are led by his own brothers. If the Emperor says it, he will do it without question.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or, more precisely, Viking Werewolf Space Marine Demigod.
  • Raised by Wolves: Gigantic space wolves, as it turns out.
  • Red Baron: The Wolf-King, the Great Wolf.
  • Wild Child: He was one of these when the people of Fenris found him.

     Rogal Dorn 

Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists

There is no enemy. The foe on the battlefield is merely the manifestation of that which we must overcome. He is doubt, and fear, and despair, Every battle is fought within. Conquer the battlefield that lies inside you, and the enemy disappears like the illusion that he is.

Rogal Dorn was adopted into one of the clans inhabiting the icy world of Inwit, and eventually came to rule the entire planet and the surrounding region of space. 40 years after the death of his adopted grandfather, he was found by the Emperor, greeting him aboard his starship, the Phalanx. The Emperor welcomed Dorn and entrusted the Phalanx to Dorn's care as the fortress-monastery of the Imperial Fists.

As a Primarch, Dorn was known for his unswerving loyalty to the Emperor, his absolute refusal of falsehood, and his military genius, especially in fortification and defense. He was very highly regarded by Roboute Guilliman, and Horus himself reckoned that if the Luna Wolves and Imperial Fists were ever to fight each other, their respective mastery of offense and defense would turn the battle into an endless stalemate. But despite their shared specialty in siege warfare, or perhaps because of it, there was a deep divide between Dorn and Perturabo, who resented the Emperor's apparent favoritism towards the Imperial Fists' Primarch.

During the darkest hours of the Horus Heresy, Dorn and the Imperial Fists were instrumental in the defense of the Imperial Palace. He was separated from his brother and father during the counter-attack against Horus' flagship, and was the one to carry the Emperor's dying body to Terra for interment within the Golden Throne. Afterward Dorn crusaded against the traitors with vigor, and initially resisted Roboute Guilliman's attempt to break down the Space Marine Legions as an insult to his loyalty, before relenting in order to avoid a second civil war. He met his end repelling a Black Crusade against Cadia, and was last seen mounting a counter-attack against an enemy vessel - all that was found of Rogal Dorn was his skeletal hand, which remains the Imperial Fists' holiest relic.

  • The Atoner: Dorn was plagued by guilt over his perceived failure of the Emperor at the close of the Heresy and the near-civil war that followed soon after, and sought penance through a crusade and the battle against the Iron Warriors that became the Iron Cage incident.
  • Badass Mustache: Maybe. GW can't seem to make up their minds if he has one or not.
  • Blade on a Stick: He's rarely depicted with one, but one Imperial Fists successor chapter, the Soul Drinkers, believe that Dorn used one called the Soulspear.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Dorn would not lie under any circumstances, even if it helped his cause. The most famous case was when Horus asked whether the Imperial Palace could withstand an assault by the Iron Warriors, and Dorn concluded that yes, if properly defended his fortifications were impenetrable. This drove Perturabo into a snarling rage.
  • Determinator: Said to have inherited the Emperor's iron will.
  • Four-Star Badass: Dorn was one of the greatest military minds of the Crusade; while his particular specialty was in defense and fortification, he had a broad overall skillset and was considered exemplary by both Guilliman and Horus.
  • Praetorian Guard: Before the creation of the Adeptus Custodes, Dorn and his Fists spent so much time as the Emperor's vanguard that they earned a reputation as the Emperor's Praetorians.
  • Red Baron: The Emperor's Champion, the Emperor's Praetorian.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The "Iron Cage" incident. Dorn declared that he'd put Perturabo into an iron cage, only for the Iron Warriors' Primarch to more or less throw down the gauntlet and challenge him to take his "Eternal Fortress." Dorn skipped his usual planning phase in his rush to bring the traitor to justice, but when his Fists fought their way to the central keep, they found it empty and themselves now in the kill-zone of twenty square miles of bunkers and razorwire. The Iron Warriors were able to pick the Imperial Fists apart while Dorn's men had to use their battle-brothers' corpses as cover, and it was only thanks to the arrival of the Ultramarines that they weren't all killed.
  • Self-Harm: Dorn invented the Pain Glove as a tool for his meditation after the Emperor's fall, and the entire Legion felt its touch in order to be symbolically reborn. Since then, use of the Pain Glove has become a fundamental part of the Imperial Fists' philosophy.


Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels

The Blood Angels will be ready. The flaw in us is not something that can be dismissed or defeated with ease. It is the inner enemy, the reflection of the conflict without! Aye, it is part of what we are. Our gift and our curse. And we will master it, if we are to win this war, the war of brothers against brothers, for the Imperium and its future.

The infant Sanguinius was found on the planet Baal, a radioactive wasteland where a handful of primitive pure-blooded humans battled against hordes of degenerate mutants. The winged youth was adopted by a tribe called the Blood and grew to become their hero, an angelic warrior who represented human perfection. After the planet was cleansed of mutants the Emperor arrived at Baal, and Sanguinius immediately bent his knee and pledged his loyalty to his true father.

The worthiest of Baal's warriors followed Sanguinius to join the IXth Legion, the Blood Angels. The legion quickly became known for excelling in close combat, but it also bore a terrible secret, a flaw in its gene-seed that drove some of its warriors into berserk rages. When the Horus Heresy erupted the traitors hoped to exploit this weakness and tempt Sanguinius and his warriors into damnation, but the Primarch resisted and rushed to his father's side.

The Blood Angels were one of the three legions to defend the Imperial Palace during the Siege of Terra, where Sanguinius held the Eternity Gate alone against a tide of horrors and broke a Greater Daemon of Khorne over his knee. In the battle's final hour, Sanguinius joined the Emperor's assault upon Horus' flagship, and was the first to confront the Arch-Heretic. Even then he tried to redeem Horus, only to be forced into battle and killed by his brother. The savagery of Sanguinius' martyrdom cursed the Blood Angels with the Black Rage, the blood-memory of their Primarch's death.

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Sanguinius was probably the single-most adored Primarch, even above Horus. He was considered a trusted ally by virtually all of his brothers and was well known for his ability to smooth out disputes between them. Horus suggested Sanguinius should have been Warmaster instead of him, and Guilliman indicated he should be named Emperor of the Imperium should anything happen to the actual Emperor.
  • Angelic Beauty: He is said to be rather attractive.
  • The Ace: The Primarchs are all impossibly strong and capable of learning among human beings, but even so Sanguinius was The Ace above all of them - as a result, absolutely everyone liked and respected him, Horus felt it was Sanguinius who truly should have been Warmaster when he was at risk of dying, and when Guilliman feared the Emperor dead he chose Sanguinius to lead his Imperium Secondus.
  • Badass: Don't let his good looks fool you, Sanguinius could literally tear apart Greater Daemons in combat and fought Horus on even terms, despite the latter being marked by all four Gods of Chaos.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness
  • Blade on a Stick: The Spear of Telesto. It was lost during the Horus Heresy, only to be recovered in the Blood Angels novels.
  • Cain and Abel: With Horus. Each thought the other was the best pick for Warmaster, Sanguinius shared the secret of the Flaw with Horus, and Horus was willing to confide his doubts and misgivings about the future in return.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Though he died in battle against Horus, he managed to damage his armor enough for the Emperor to exploit this weakness during the final battle.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: He's called The Pure One for a reason.
  • In the Blood: Sanguinius stands out for inheriting not just a particular aspect of the Emperor, but all of him to some extent. Or perhaps only the best parts.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Sanguinius had long blond hair and was the most handsome of the Primarchs, with Fulgrim being the only of his brothers who could compare.
  • Messianic Archetype: Played surprisingly straight.
  • Nice Guy: Quite possibly the only unambiguously heroic character in all of 40k.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Well, for starters, he's probably the most badass one out there.
  • Red Baron: The Great Angel, Lord of Angels, The Pure One and All-Beloved.
  • Seer: Sanguinius had a limited ability to catch glimpses of the future, which may be why he immediately knelt before the Emperor. It's likely he knew how his confrontation with Horus would end, which only makes his sacrifice all the nobler.
  • Winged Humanoid: He had a pair of huge white wings and could use them to fly. Whether this was a mutation or some strange expression of the Emperor's genes is unknown.

     Ferrus Manus 

Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands

Rest? We were not made to rest; we go on, unflinching, unstoppable, unwavering in our strength. The Emperor did not make us for such mortal concerns as hearth and home; we are his engines of war, his hammers, beating out the fabric of existence into a vessel fit for Mankind to inhabit.

Ferrus Manus was scattered to the planet Medusa, a dark post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by primitive nomadic tribes. No record exists of his childhood, but there are many legends telling of a wanderer who visited each clan in turn, exhibiting his incredible endurance as well as sharing new technologies he invented or found on his journeys. The most famous story is of how Ferrus drowned a silver wyrm in a lava flow, until the beast was gone and its skin of living metal was bound to his hands. Soon the people of Medusa prospered as never before, though the Primarch remained neutral in the wars between the tribes, viewing such conflict as a healthy way to strengthen the survivors.

When the Emperor arrived on Medusa, he and his lost son left to compete in many feats of strength, until they returned bound by mutual respect. Ferrus Manus was given command of the Xth Legion, which became his Iron Hands. The Primarch and his warriors soon garnered a reputation as highly-effective but ruthless warriors with no tolerance of weakness, and their technological affinity led to close ties with the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Ferrus was disgusted by Horus' betrayal, and came to blows with his close friend Fulgrim when he tried to tempt Ferrus to join the traitors' cause. In his haste to bring the renegades to justice, Ferrus took his veterans and fastest ships and hurried ahead of the rest of the Iron Hands, which spared them when he was betrayed again during the Drop Site Massacres. Ferrus Manus was slain by Fulgrim in that battle, though the Iron Hands maintain that he somehow escaped death and will return to them someday.

  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Ferrus Manus was known to use his titular iron hands as lethal weapons in their own right. He preferred his hammer, though.
  • Cain and Abel: Ferrus was quite close to Fulgrim and shared his pursuit of perfection, which was why Fulgrim tried to recruit him for Horus before ultimately having to kill him.
  • Flesh Versus Steel: Ironically, Ferrus Manus is on the former's side, reasoning that while the cybernetics do make the Marines stronger, it also weakens their willpower. He planned to get the famous metal off his hands and abolish the practice of cybernization after the Great Crusade was finished, but then Fulgrim cut his head off.
  • Just Ignore It: He actually received visions from the Eldar during the Great Crusade about his fate at the hands of Fulgrim, but being filthy xenos, he rejected them out of distrust. Sure bit him in the ass.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: What ultimately killed him. So enraged was he by the betrayal of his brothers, especially Fulgrim, that he threw caution to winds and set out with his best men and fastest ships to meet the traitors head on, leaving the rest of his brothers and even the remainder of his own Legion behind. As such, his troops were out-maneuvered and out-gunned by traitor reinforcements, and he lost his head to Fulgrim.
  • Made of Iron: Well, duh.
  • Meaningful Name: His name means Iron Hand in Latin. Along with his Space Marine chapter, the consequent repetition of this meaningfulness gets a bit silly.
  • Off with His Head!: Suffered this fate at the hands of Fulgrim.
  • Red Baron: The Gorgon; the nickname was given to him as a good-natured jab by Fulgrim back when they were still friends.
  • Social Darwinist: Believed in the idea of "survival of the fittest", saw conflict as the perfect way to hone one's abilities, and despised weakness in the human race. His desire to always better himself was what formed the base for his friendship with Fulgrim.
  • To Be a Master: Ferrus Manus' life goal was to never stop improving himself, trying to share the same goal with all of humanity. Unlike what you'd expect, especially considering the setting, he never quite approached Evilutionary Biologist or Cybernetics Eat Your Soul-levels from this.

     Roboute Guilliman 

Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines

They shall be pure of heart and strong of body, untainted by doubt and unsullied by self-aggrandisement. They will be bright stars on the firmament of battle, Angels of Death whose shining wings bring swift annihilation to the enemies of Man. So shall it be for a thousand times for a thousand years, unto the very end of eternity and the extinction of mortal flesh.
— Opening to the Codex Astartes

Roboute Guilliman was found on the rocky world of Macragge by one of the two consuls who ruled its militaristic government. As was custom on his world he was sent to a barracks at the age of six, and within two years had mastered everything his tutors could teach him. While the young Primarch campaigned to pacify the barbarians of Macragge's northlands, the rival consul usurped power and murdered his father, a rebellion Guilliman ruthlessly crushed. As the new Battle-King of Macragge, Guilliman ushered in an era of prosperity, advancement and expansion, so that when the Great Crusade reached the Eastern Fringes, the Emperor found not only a lost son but a model for human civilization.

Given the command of the XIIIth legion, the Ultramarines, Guilliman pushed the Imperium's borders ever outward. Though he was adept in all arenas of warfare, Roboute's greatest talent lay in organization, and each world he conquered suffered minimal damage and quickly became a functioning part of the Imperium. Soon Macragge was the center of a five-hundred-world realm known as Ultramar, which supplied enough recruits to make the Ultramarines the most numerous legion. It is therefore no surprise that when Warmaster Horus turned traitor, he ensured that Guilliman and his forces were isolated far to the galactic south when the renegades marched on Terra.

Guilliman arrived too late to save his father or play any great role in the Horus Heresy, but he was instrumental in holding the Imperium together in the war's aftermath, and his Ultramarines comprised nearly half of the Imperium's manpower in those dark days. This influence allowed Guilliman to implement his Codex Astartes, which broke down the Space Marine Legions into thousand-man chapters so that no one renegade could command such an awesome force. Guilliman met his end battling the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim on the world of Thessalia, and after being fatally poisoned was placed inside a stasis field for transport to Ultramar. His body was put on display on Macragge, and some Ultramarines believe that their Primarch is slowly healing.

  • The Ace: Guilliman had some pretty impressive accomplishments to his name:
    • He not only conquered his homeworld and turned it into a prosperous and productive planet, by the time the Emperor reached him he had already begun integrating the surrounding worlds into a larger alliance and trade network, essentially founding the realm of Ultramar. Whenever the Emperor found one of his lost sons, he usually found them as leader of a planet; Guilliman he found running an entire star system.
    • He was well known for an almost peerless grasp of tactics, allowing him to excel in virtually every area of warfare and earning the Ultramarines the Jack-of-All-Trades reputation that they continued to embody millenia after Guilliman's demise.
    • A rarity for a Primarch, Guilliman included diplomacy and negotiating in his bids for conquest, and factored post-occupation construction and pacification into his plans. Unlike many of his brothers - such as Angron or Russ, who frequently left the worlds behind them in ruins and relied on other Imperial forces to turn them into productive worlds - planets conquered by the Ultramarines were frequently left in better shape than when they had first arrived.
    • Likely as a result of his Crazy-Prepared planning, Guilliman's legion had an exceptionally low casualty rate which, combined with a well-oiled recruitment and training program, gave him command of the single largest of the pre-Heresy legions. Said legion was one of the few that made it through the Horus Heresy relatively unscathed and, in the aftermath, accounted for over half of the Imperium's fighting forces. Accordingly, he also had one of the highest victory counts of any Primarch not named Horus.
    • Guilliman basically ran the Imperium in the immediate aftermath of the Emperor's death, committing his Ultramarines to holding off opportunistic Xenos raiders and putting down the remnants of rebellion amongst the remaining loyalist worlds.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: The way he defeated Alpharius at Eskrador. Guilliman's work disseminating his Codex Astartes meant that Alpharius more or less knew exactly what he would do in any given situation. It was only after Guilliman broke his own rules of operation and led a reckless, unsupported offensive right into the enemy command center that he was able to catch Alpharius off-guard and kill(?) him.
  • Blue Blood: Unlike most of the Primarchs, who rose to positions of power over time, Guilliman more or less started in one after being found and adopted by one of the reigning regents of Macragge.
  • Crazy-Prepared: One of Guilliman's strengths was his attention to detail, making him gifted in statesmanship and logistics, and he always believed in making contingency plans. Unfortunately, many of his fellow Primarchs interpreted this to mean he was an ambitious, anal-retentive control freak.
    • An example was his plan for the "Imperium Secundus". Basically, if the Emperor died, then he would enact to preserve as much of the Imperium as possible, and re-organize the remnants into the "Imperium Secundus", centred around his realm of Ultramar.
  • Diagonal Cut: How Guilliman killed Alpharius. The two approached on the battlefield, stared one another down, then drew their blades and each made a single slice. A few seconds later, Alpharius crumpled over, dead.
  • Genius Bruiser: Perhaps surprisingly, given that Guilliman's reputed strengths were in statesmanship and strategy, he was also one of the more talented Primarchs in combat as well. To date, he's faced four Primarchs in combat note  and lost only once (to Angron, who had Lorgar backing him up, although his fight with Fulgrim wound up with both of them mortally wounded/banished).
    • In a bit of Gameplay and Story Integration, Guilliman is one of the strongest Primarchs in one-on-one combat in the tabletop game and will statistically win a fight against any Primarch other than Horus. The reason is very much part of being a Genius Bruiser—every turn he analyzes his opponent's skills and techniques, and will improve his Weapon Skil as the combat goes on.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Implied. Guilliman's final battle was against his brother, Fulgrim, who was now a daemon prince of Slaanesh. Thick, cloying clouds prevented the Ultramarines from interfering in the battle (and from seeing what happened), but when the clouds cleared, Fulgrim and his minions were gone and Guilliman lay mortally wounded, suggesting that the Ultramarines' Primarch had managed to banish Fulgrim, albeit at the cost of his own life. Oddly, Fulgrim has not been seen since and even his own legion is unsure of where he wound up, suggesting that Guilliman may have somehow found a way to destroy Fulgrim outright rather than just banishing him.
  • Humble Hero: Well, as humble as one could get while still being a genetically-engineered semi-divine posthuman superman. For instance, he kept his old nanny around as his counselor, and to tell him the things he didn't want to hear. Another instance was when he thought the Emperor was dead and the Imperium on the verge of collapsing; rather than take control himself, he elected to name another Primarch as the Emperor's successor, and eventually settled on Sanguinius.
  • Insufferable Genius: Came off as this to many of his brothers, due to his oft-stated belief that he could improve upon their tactics and methods if he put his mind to it. As a result, his only friends amongst his brother Primarchs were Horus, Sanguinus, Ferrus Manus, and Rogal Dorn (he also held Jaghatai Khan and Leman Russ in high esteem, though they did not appear to return the sentiment).
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Unlike many of his brother Primarchs, Guilliman did not dedicate himself to a single style of warfare; as such, the Ultramarines were generally seen as a very universal force, able to be inserted into nearly any situation and perform with aplomb.
  • Jerk Ass: He didn't get along with many of his other Primarchs, making it pretty clear he considered said Primarchs untrustworthy. His anal-retentive tendencies led to him to ignore others' feelings, most notably his mandating the Primarchs split their legions into 1000-Marine Chapters under the Codex Astartes, which angered some of his fellow Primarchs, probably both for demanding them to split their brothers-in-arms up and openly airing paranoia toward his brothers in the tumultuous times just after the Horus Heresy (limiting Space Marine organizations to 1000-man Chapters would prevent a single treasonous uprising from corrupting as large of a Space Marine force as easily again).
    • Not forgetting that some of his Jerk Ass tendencies were often seen as this by people who imagined it so. Lorgar thought for years that Roboute despised him, even though the only thing the Ultramarines' Primarch did was follow the orders of his father when his forces destroyed Monarchia. In the Heresy novels he even said that he didn't want the Throne because of how people often thought that he was so ambitious to the point of opportunism. Not only that, but he felt that he should stop being an overachiever because others were feeling inadaquate.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Guilliman never did anything without reason and even his most provocative moments had logic behind them. Splitting up the legions may have riled his brothers, but Guilliman was absolutely correct in pointing out that if Horus could fall, any of them could, and it was therefore dangerous to leave one man with so much power (vindicated by the many successor chapters who fell to Chaos in the following millenia). With Alpharius, what many thought was him being prone to orthodoxy was actually a good point: his brother's way of war, while effective, often caused months of unrest in the planets conquered.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Roboute Guilliman was an ass but he actually cared about people and believed that anyone can rise to greatness through merit regardless of class. His efforts led the Ultramarines' mini-empire to becoming one of the least corrupt (and nicest) places to live in the Imperium.
  • Lawful Stupid: He had issues with resorting to less conventional tactics in warfare. That being said, the man did not play it entirely straight and the Age of Darkness book in the Horus Heresy series has him state that he is entirely certain the Codex Astartes is imperfect and not a holy writ to adhere to.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Treated average individuals perfectly respectfully and clearly cared about them in his decisions of statecraft.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Guilliman starred in not one, but two post-Heresy Primarch-vs.-Primarch battles, both of which turned out to be duds. His fight with Alpharius was just both of them making a quick slash at one another, before Alpharius suddenly toppled over, dead. His fight with Fulgrim was probably a lot more awesome... not that we ever got to read about it, thanks to the cloying, soporific clouds that prevented the Ultramarines (and the narrator) from interfering with, or witnessing, the battle. When said clouds finally cleared, the duel was over, Guilliman was mortally wounded, and Fulgrim and his minions had mysteriously disappeared.
    • It's heavily implied he fought Necrons during the Heresy, namely Trazyn the Infinite. In one story in an issue of White Dwarf, Trazyn mentions to Sicarius that he had met Guilliman and was considering swiping his corpse off Macragge to add to his collection.
  • Parental Substitute: Played straight with Konor, Guilliman's foster father on Macragge, but surprisingly averted with Guilliman's relationship to the Emperor. Guilliman was one of the only loyalist Primarchs not to think of the Emperor as his father (in the sense of affection and awe) and he also commented that for all the Emperor's strengths, he was a terrible parent to the the Primarchs.
  • Pet the Dog: Guilliman was humble and kind to normal people. His infamous rudeness was to individuals he considered chaotic or not proven worthy of their station.
  • Power Fist: The Gauntlets of Ultramar.
  • The Proud Elite: Fits the trope to a T. Man of elite status? Check. A well-respected leader? Check. Fit and good-looking? Check. Sophisticated? Intelligent? Double check. Comes off as cold, arrogant, and uncaring? Values rationality and logic? Opens up to only a few trusted confidantes? Check, check, and check.
  • Red Baron: The Battle King, the Avenging Son.
  • The Rival: To Lorgar. This appears to have mostly been one way, with Guilliman pitying Lorgar and the shaming the Emperor gave him, until Lorgar turned traitor and ambushed the Ultramarines at Calth.
    • What is also interesting is that they have very similar principles and desires, but very different methods. Gulliman and Lorgar both desired to raise the Imperium, they weren't conquerors per se, but as said in The First Heretic, they are builders. They believed that Astartes could be something else than warriors, and they both valued an introspective view of life. Perhaps if they spent more time with the other (like some of their sons that actually found friendship) they could have become close friends.
  • The Smart Guy: Outside of the man's requisite Bad Ass-ery like the other Primarchs, Guilliman's talents laid in statecraft and logistics. He's thought to have inherited the Emperor's capacity for planning and statesmanship.
  • The Strategist: Though no slouch in close combat, Guilliman's greatest asset was his calculating mind, said to surpass a Mechanicus thinking-engine.


Vulkan, Primarch of the Salamanders

It is in our nature to create things that will outlast us. So we strive; we craft, we build, we make, we fight and do not yield. For within each frail human body is the will to grasp the stars and walk a path into eternity itself.
The Book of Vulcan

Vulkan was scattered to the volcanic world of Nocturne, where he was raised as a blacksmith and quickly surpassed his masters in expertise and skill. When Dark Eldar raiders came during his fourth year, the Primarch refused to flee, took up his hammers, and inspired his people to stand against the invaders. During the celebrations that followed, a pale-skinned stranger appeared and challenged Vulkan to feats of strength and skill. While trying to bring back a trophy fire drake, the outlander gave up his own chance at victory to save Vulkan's life. Vulkan was declared the winner but bent his knee and swore that any man who valued life over pride was worthy of his service.

The outlander was of course the Emperor, who placed Vulkan in command of the XVIIIth Legion, soon to be renamed the Salamanders in honor of the beasts of Nocturne. Vulkan's legion became known for facing down overwhelming odds, ferocious short-ranged firefights, and its stubborn defense of humanity. This led to friction between Vulkan and more callous Primarchs, and he and Conrad Kurze came to blows over the Night Lords' tactics during a joint operation, which Vulkan reported to Horus and Rogal Dorn.

Vulkan's fate is uncertain - it is known that he was present at the Drop Site Massacres, and that he survived that battle only to be captured and tortured by the Night Haunter. He disappeared at some point after the Horus Heresy, but the Salamanders' subsequent Chapter Masters consider their position that of regent. To this day, the chapter's Forgefathers search the galaxy for relics Vulkan created, so that once all are collected their Primarch can return to them.

  • Badass in Distress: Vulkan is hinted to be the man in baroque armor kept by Trazyn the Infinite.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: The most awesome one of all!
  • Continuity Snarl: The Horus Heresy retcons. In older fluff, Vulkan is said to have argued with Guilliman over breaking down the Legions, and is said to have vanished about a thousand years after the Heresy. New material has him going insane at Kurze's hands before being permanently(?) killed well before that.
  • Death by Materialism: Nearly fell victim to it during the end of his competition with the Outlander. Vulkan tumbled over a cliff and hung there for hours by one hand, unwilling to drop the fire drake he was holding in his other and therefore concede the contest. Luckily the Emperor found him and dropped his own drake corpse to make a bridge across the lava.
  • Drop the Hammer: Dawnbreaker, with which Vulkan could send battle tanks flying, or make a Shockwave Stomp to knock over groups of infantry.
  • Gentle Giant: He's probably the nicest guy out of all the Primarchs. It's said that Vulkan embodied the Emperor's (at times hidden) compassion for humanity.
  • Just the First Citizen: Despite being a Primarch, he discouraged his soldiers' shows of deference and insisted that his legion was one of equals.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Vulkan made his debut reinforcing companies of Salamanders who had been trying to save planetary populations from a vast horde of Orks. The Space Marines knelt before their Primarch, who immediately told them to rise and then knelt before them in honor of their sacrifices.
  • Meaningful Name: Vulcan was the Roman god of the forge.
  • Nemean Skinning: Wears Kesare's Mantle, a fire drake skin that gives him an invulnerable save and additional protection against melta or flamer weapons.
  • Red Baron: The Lord of Drakes, the Unbound Flame.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Like his father, Vulkan is a Perpetual able to regenerate From a Single Cell. In the wake of the Drop Site Massacres, Vulkan was captured by the Night Lords and tortured by the Night Haunter himself, who killed Vulkan multiple times in extravagantly violent and torturous ways but was frustrated by his returning to life every time.
  • Scary Black Man: At least when Dark Eldar are involved. To everyone else, he's instead the nicest Primarch by miles.
  • Screw You, Elves!: To the Dark Eldar. He fought back an entire planetary invasion army of these guys with nothing but a pair of blacksmith hammers. And this was BEFORE he even knew that he was a Primarch!
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: The weapons and relics that he created are amongst the most powerful and sought after that the Imperium has ever had.

     Corvus Corax 

Corvus Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard

The First Axiom of Victory is to be other than where the enemy desires you to be.
The First Axiom of Stealth is to be other than where the enemy believes you to be.
The First Axiom of Freedom is that justice without force is powerless; force without justice is tyranny.

Corvus Corax was adopted by the miners of Lycaeus, the resource-rich moon of the planet Kiavahr. The Tech-Guilds of Kiavahr had long subjugated the people of Lycaeus, and Corax was raised to be his people's liberator. After years of instruction and preparation, Corax led a campaign of psychological warfare, sabotage and insurrection that expelled the Kiavahr slavedrivers. Shortly after the moon was renamed Deliverance, the Emperor arrived, and Corax agreed to join the Great Crusade only if his father would bring peace to the now-anarchic Kiavahr.

The XIXth Space Marine Legion became the Raven Guard, and adopted Corax's tactics of stealth, covert operations and asymmetrical warfare. Corax was able to quickly study a planet's power structure and determine where to exert pressure to make it crumble, allowing his legion to make conquests without deploying its full force. The Raven Guard was initially part of the Warmaster's vanguard, so that some claim that many of the Luna Wolves' victories should be properly credited to the Raven Guard's undercover actions, but the two Primarchs had a falling out. When they met again, it would be at the Isstvan V Drop Site Massacres, where Corax was betrayed while trying to bring the renegade Warmaster to justice.

Though Corax was able to escape, his legion was all but annihilated. The Raven Guard played what role it could in the Horus Heresy, but to bolster its numbers Corax turned to ancient genetic manipulation techniques that could be used to accelerate the Space Marine creation process, if at considerable risk. The results were monsters that gave even the Space Wolves pause, only one in ten of which could even hold a boltgun. When the Heresy was ended and the Raven Guard was reorganized into successor chapters, Corax personally executed the abominations he had created, and locked himself in his chambers, praying for forgiveness. He emerged after a year and a day, and set a course for the Eye of Terror, never to return.

  • BFG: For ranged combat he wielded a Heavy Bolter as easily as mortal troops used a lasrifle.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He wasn't afraid to use assassination and other dirty tricks to win wars, and considered his legion's conquests more important than the specifics of how he made them.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: "We strike from the darkness, but we are not of the night. Though born in darkness, we seek only the light."
  • Dynamic Entry: Started an open rebellion on his planet with a sudden attack and kept that rebellion free with sabotage and ambushes against the forces trying to suppress them. His preference for lighting attacks was spread to his Raven Guard Legion.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Known for his snow-white skin and dark hair.
  • Extremity Extremist: Corax one-upped the usual version of this trope and bladed the feathery wings attached to his jetpack to lethal effect.
  • Famous Last Words: "Never more."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He nearly came to blows with Horus, who Corax considered overly-boastful and manipulative, and ultimately removed his legion from the Warmaster's command. Not the best behavior for a Primarch, but it turns out he was spot-on about Horus' character.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reason for his year-long Heroic BSOD.
  • Perception Filter: He hid this ability even from his own legion, but Corax had a psychic talent for removing himself from living creatures' consciousness. This didn't work on automated sensors, obviously.
  • The Quiet One: Only to be expected after a youth spent hiding from guards while training and preparing for rebellion.
  • Rebel Leader: His role on Lycaeus.
  • Red Baron: The Raven-Lord.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Corax was known to use his jetpack's exhaust this way.
  • Whip It Good: When he wasn't tearing enemies apart with his bare hands, Corax used a three-headed power whip, a reminder of his past overthrowing tyrants.
  • Wolverine Claws: Said whip was supplemented with a pair of lightning claws.

Traitor Primarchs

     Horus Lupercal 

Horus Lupercal, Primarch of the Luna Wolves and The Sons of Horus

Some call me Traitor and Heretic, but it is my destiny to rule the stars in the name of Humanity. Am I not the greatest of the Primarchs? The Emperor's first and most favoured son? Am I not therefore his chosen one? It is my right to rule, by natural law of succession, and by right of arms earned on a thousand battlefields.

Horus Lupercal was the first Primarch to be recovered, and for many years enjoyed a privileged position as the Emperor's only son. The two forged a close bond on the battlefields of the Great Crusade, and though other Primarchs were eventually found and Horus rejoiced each time he was reunited with a brother, he always strove to remain the Emperor's favored servant.

The glorious accomplishments of his Luna Wolves during the Ullanor Crusade earned them the right to be renamed the Sons of Horus, and their Primarch was elevated to Warmaster and given command of the Great Crusade while the Emperor returned to Terra. Horus was a tactical prodigy, master diplomat, and strategic genius, employing other Space Marine Legions the way lesser commanders would deploy squads, utilizing the Primarchs' skills to the fullest and even encouraging their rivalries so they would try to outdo each other. Perhaps Horus secretly quaked under this awesome authority, or his power may have led to dangerous hubris. Maybe Horus resented the way the Emperor claimed credit for his victories, or was worried about the fate of the Space Marines after the Great Crusade was over.

After the unthinkable occurred and Horus was gravely wounded on the world of Davin, the Primarch was taken to a primitive warrior-lodge for healing rites that were in fact a Chaos ritual. When the ordeal was over, Horus emerged changed by the visions he had experienced, and incorporated such lodges into his own legion, spreading the taint even further. Horus revealed his true intentions in the Isstvan system, first virus-bombing a rebelling planet and purging the loyalist elements from the legions he commanded, then setting a trap for the Imperial forces sent to bring him to justice. Horus was able to lure fully half of the Space Marine Legions and large elements of the Imperial Army and Adeptus Mechanicus to his cause, thus setting into motion the Horus Heresy, the most terrible conflict in galactic history.

In the end, Horus and his followers marched on Terra and laid siege to the Imperial Palace, but with loyalist reinforcements en route, Horus risked all in one last gamble. He lowered the shields on his flagship, daring the Emperor to teleport over and face him in battle. He slew his brother Sanguinius and mortally wounded his father, only to regain enough clarity to realize what he had done, begging the Emperor to destroy him once and for all. With his death, the traitors fled in disarray, the Heresy was ended, and the Imperium's grim fate was sealed.

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Horus was well-liked and had a natural talent for leadership. His brother Primarchs generally considered him first among equals and while a few, such as Guilliman and El'Johnson, were quietly jealous of his station, none could deny his talent and all considered him a worth leader.
  • The Ace: He was charismatic, a military genius, a genuine people-person, and the only one who could get along with all the other Primarchs. He was the first Primarch to be discovered, and was the Emperor's favourite. Many called him the Heir to the Emperor, and he had the most experience out of all the Primarchs. Being named Warmaster only fed his massive ego, at the same time that the Emperor's perceived abandonment wounded it. All the Chaos Gods had to do was convince Horus that he was the only one who could save the galaxy from the Emperor's tyranny.
  • Ambition Is Evil: He is said to have inherited the Emperor's ambition, and Horus was driven to be the best and most successful Primarch. After his fall, his ambition became to destroy the Emperor.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Horus' greatest fear was that his achievements will be forgotten. Now no one ever will.
  • Beware the Superman: Horus didn't want to give up the Primarch's authority to the Terran High Lords who he regarded as inferior because they were normal. He wanted to guide and protect humanity but didn't want to be beholden or accountable to it.
  • Big Bad: Of the traitor Primarchs.
  • Butt Monkey: The Chaos Gods tricked Horus into betrayal and led his to his death. His body and soul were destroyed. His name is forbidden to be spoken and when it is, it's used as a curse. He has 0% Approval Rating, he's getting no love from anyone.
  • Deader Than Dead: Horus is gone. The Emperor didn't just kill his physical body, he destroyed Horus' mind and soul, preventing the Chaos Gods from resurrecting him. The closest anyone's come to doing so was when Fabius Bile cloned Horus' corpse, but Abaddon put an end to that.
  • Death Glare: Horus killed Ollanius Pius with one.
  • Face-Heel Turn: The brightest hope of all humanity since the Emperor, beloved by all of mankind, a peerless warrior and sublime statesman. Then when on the verge of death, he's shown a grim, dark future where his father is worshiped as a god and he and his fellow Primarchs are nowhere to be found. This, combined with his pride and ambitions, leads Horus to rebel against his father, plunge the galaxy into a horrific war, and ultimately bring about exactly the future that he saw.
  • Faceless Eye: The Eye of Horus.
  • Famous Last Words: "I have been... a fool. I was so wrong... everything is ruined. I have betrayed you... my father. I do not ask for forgiveness... end my torment... kill me now! I am too weak to resist them... they call to me... please end this."
  • Fantastic Racism: Horus didn't want to be Demoted to Dragon, under the charge of the Terran High Lords, whom he considered inferior because they were just normal humans.
  • Glory Seeker: Horus lived for glory and hated sharing credit with other Primarchs. Soon he hated sharing credit with The Emperor.
  • Heel-Face Door Slam: Just before his death, the Chaos Powers abandoned Horus and he returned to sanity and realised what he had done. The Emperor is said to have recognized this, but proceeded to kill him anyways to be absolutely certain the taint of Chaos would be destroyed. It's also said that Horus wanted this and welcomed it.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Skilled at playing people, both mortals and even his fellow Primarchs. A good example is in Horus Rising when he has his Mournival harshly criticize an Imperial commander so he can take the guy's side, vicariously expressing his own displeasure and winning the general over at the same time.
    • Horus was able to personally talk over three Primarchs to his cause, playing to Fulgrim's perfectionism, Mortarion's hatred of tyrants and psykers, and Angron's old grudge.
    • It's thought that Horus spread Perturabo's legion so thin just to put stress on him, so that when Horus told him about a rebellion on his homeworld, Perturabo would snap and have no choice but to side with the traitors.
    • In some accounts, Horus tweaked the Emperor's orders to the Space Wolves from "apprehend the Thousand Sons" to "destroy the Thousand Sons," in order to drive Magnus the Red into the traitors' camp.
  • Motive Decay: Started out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist out to save humankind from a future as an uncaring corpse-emperor's slaves, but by the time he reached Terra he was out to tear down the galaxy.
  • Nemean Skinning: Horus wore a wolf pelt over his armor.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Ironically, Horus thought the real Paragon was Sanguinius.
  • Physical God: Horus practically became this after entering a warp gate in Vengeful Spirit. He could have become a god in the Warp but he came back to the material world with his new powers.
  • Power Fist: The Talon of Horus, a power claw with integrated combi-bolter. After his death, Abaddon tore it from his body and used it himself.
  • Red Baron: The First Primarch, the Warmaster.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Horus' armor was called "The Serpent's Scales". Appropriate for someone who shed his skin.
  • Satanic Archetype: Favored son of the God-Emperor, got jealous and evil, turned a third of his hosts against his divine father.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Horus rebelled against the Emperor because he had a vision of a dystopic future where the Emperor is venerated as a god while he and other Primarchs were expunged from history. His rebellion resulted exactly in that.
  • Straight for the Commander: A favored tactic by Horus.
  • Tragic Villain: It's easy to forget that Horus was tricked into turning against The Imperium.
  • Un-Person: Attempted. It's no surprise that the Imperium would like to bury all accounts of the Arch-Heretic, though it hasn't been successful. Commanders still use the title Warmaster but are aware of its sordid history, the Ciaphas Cain books use expressions like "deader than Horus" and "Horus take the hindmost," and in Damnatus Wodan asks "where the Horus are we now?"
    • Ironically, the former Sons of Horus have embraced this as well. One of Abaddon the Despoiler's first acts when he took command was to destroy the Warmaster's corpse and stop its near-worship, then rename the force the Black Legion.
  • You Are in Command Now: The Emperor making Horus Warmaster would prove a terrible mistake.

     Lorgar Aurelian 

Lorgar Aurelian, Primarch of the Word Bearers

The difference between gods and daemons largely depends upon where one is standing at the time.

Young Lorgar grew up on the feudal world of Colchis, a once-advanced culture that had regressed following the Age of Strife, until it was dominated by a priesthood called the Covenant that prophesied how a great leader would one day redeem them. Lorgar became a fiery preacher for the Covenant, but when he had visions of a golden savior coming to his world, he sparked a bloody schism by declaring that the old prophecy would soon be fulfilled. He was proven right a year after winning this holy war, when the Emperor arrived to accept Lorgar's oaths of service.

Lorgar was given command of the XVIIth Legion, the Word Bearers, and joined the Great Crusade with zeal. He rooted out every trace of heresy on the worlds he conquered, taught their populations to venerate the Emperor of Mankind, and constructed grand cathedrals in his glory. These conquests were complete but slow, and the Emperor harshly rebuked the Word Bearers for their unwanted worship, destroying the temple-city of Monarchia, forcing Lorgar and his soldiers to kneel in its ashes, and ordering them to follow the Ultramarines' more secular example. His faith shattered, Lorgar sent his legion on a pilgrimage to Cadia, then entered the Eye of Terror in search of a meaning to his existence.

When he emerged, Lorgar preached a new faith, the Primordial Truth of the gods of Chaos. For four decades the Word Bearers hid their new allegiance while subjugating worlds to the Dark Gods and spreading the taint of Chaos throughout the other Space Marine Legions. Once the Warmaster declared his rebellion and the Horus Heresy erupted, Lorgar took particular pleasure in ravaging the realm of Ultramar. After retreating to the Eye of Terror at the Heresy's end, Lorgar ascended to daemonhood, and it is said that his psychic birth-scream was one of triumphant vindication. He is content to contemplate the Primordial Truth from the daemon world of Sicarus, while his Word Bearers continue to preach the Word of Chaos and tear down the icons of the False Emperor.

  • Badass Preacher: During the Great Crusade, he converted whole worlds to the worship of the Emperor. During the Horus Heresy, he did the same for the gods of Chaos. He also created the rank of Chaplain among the Space Marines.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Lorgar's crozius, Illuminarium. Aside from a chaplain's badge of office, it made a perfectly serviceable bludgeoning weapon.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After discovering and embracing the Primordial Truth, Lorgar could be disturbingly blasé about the horrors of Chaos.
    Angron: Why did you steal [my ship's astropathic] choir? What happened to yours?
    Lorgar: They died.
    Angron: How did they die?
    Lorgar: Screaming.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He seems to have genuinely cared for Angron, and was probably the only Primarch that Angron considered to be anything resembling a friend.
    Angron: If what you say is true, why save me?
    Lorgar: Why is that a question every one of our bloodline must ask in a disbelieving snarl? You are my brother. I would spare you any pain I can, and protect you from harm if I'm able.
  • Failure Gambit: The attack on Calth was designed to be one. While Lorgar had the opportunity to potentially kill Guilliman, leaving him alive would cause him to draw the Ultramarines back to Ultramar and away from the fighting at Terra.
  • Faith Heel Turn: Being rebuked by the Emperor for his worship pretty much showed Lorgar that everything he'd believed in was a lie. Kor Phaeron and Erebus introduced him to some entities that not only welcomed such devotion, but rewarded it.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Lorgar considered himself a priest and intellectual more than a warrior; the other Primarchs agreed and even talked behind his back about having him and his legion censured, possibly even removed. His only real friend was the similarly-intellectual and philosophical Magnus. This extended even after the Horus Heresy started, and the other traitor Primarchs were suspicious of his wholehearted embrace of Chaos.
  • The Fundamentalist: First for the Emperor, then for the Chaos Gods.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Lorgar was reputed to be the weakest of the Primarchs before his turn to Chaos. This is reflected in-game by his model's pre-corruption form stats being weak enough that he statistically comes out on the losing end against his brothers (those that have rules, so far) by a wide margin, with the sole exception of Alpharius.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: On the other hand, if you play him in his post-corruption form (Lorgar Transfigured), he suddenly turns into an absolute nightmare in close combat, able to easily dispatch the mightiest of his brethren (Angron and Fulgrim, generally accepted to be two of the most ferocious close quarters fighters amongst the Primarchs, get taken apart by Lorgar and even Horus falls fairly easily).
  • Irony: He's actually the forefather of the modern Imperial Cult, and during the Great Crusade penned the Lectitio Divinitus that argued the Emperor's divinity. Then he ended up working to corrupt his brothers into the worship of the Dark Gods, making him responsible for the faiths of both sides of the Horus Heresy.
  • The Mole: For Chaos.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Since ascending to daemonhood, Lorgar hasn't done much besides meditate and preach.
  • The Philosopher: He was raised as a priest, and he was apparently very gifted at philosophy and was not afraid to ask questions. This lead him to unusual and unorthodox (for his time) beliefs and practices. This did not endear him to the very warlike and militant Primarchs.
    • Also THE philosopher for the Ecclesiarchy. His book, the Lectitio Divinitatus, is still used in the 41st millenium to justify the Emperor's divinity.
  • Psychotic Manchild: As another Primarch explains:
    Roboute Guilliman: He is so... changeable. He is so prone to extremes. Eager to please, so quick to take offence. He's so keen to be your best friend, and then, at the slightest hint of an insult, he's angry with you. Furious. Offended. Like a child.
  • Red Baron: The Urizen.
  • Rousing Speech: Though not the greatest warrior among the Primarchs, his fiery oratory could convert worlds to the Imperial (or heretic) cause better than any of his brothers.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: He did not have the raw psychic power of Magnus, but he was a master of Ritual magic. His in-depth knowledge and devotion to the Warp and the powers of Chaos made him far more able to wield the powers of Chaos in a profitable way without being totally screwed over (unlike Magnus).
  • Smart Guy: Of the philosophical variety. There is a reason why his books are still used after so many millennia.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Lorgar was probably the weakest Primarch, until he embraced his psyker powers at the Drop Site Massacres and became someone able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Corax or Guilliman. Similarly, his tabletop stats aren't too impressive (again, compared to other Primarchs), but he can be upgraded to Lorgar Transfigured, allowing him to abuse the Invisibility psychic power and become more or less unkillable.
  • Troll: An exchange during the Battle for Calth.
    Lorgar: Have you lost your temper, Roboute?
    Guilliman: I am going to gut you.
    Lorgar: You have lost your temper.
  • Unknown Rival: Guilliman had no idea just how badly Lorgar took the rebuke at Monarchia, and how far he would go to repay Roboute for this "insult."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lorgar believes Chaos is the only thing that can save Mankind from falling like the Eldar.


Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children

That which causes us trials shall yield us triumph, and that which makes our hearts ache shall fill us with gladness. For the only true happiness is to learn, to advance and to improve. None of this could happen without rejecting error, ignorance and imperfection. We must pass out of the darkness to reach the light.

The infant Fulgrim was deposited on the decaying world of Chemos, where most orphaned children were put to death as a waste of resources. His rescuers saw something in the child that made them defy that tradition, and as Fulgrim quickly grew he was able to contribute to the world's industrial production. His improvements in technology and efficiency reversed Chemos' decline so that it finally produced more than it consumed, allowing a renaissance of arts and culture.

When the Emperor and a force of battle-scarred yet civilized warriors came to Chemos, Fulgrim knelt and offered his sword without a single word. Though an accident had reduced the Third Legion to a mere two hundred warriors, Fulgrim gave such an inspiring speech to his soldiers that the Emperor immediately renamed them the Emperor's Children and gave them the unique honor of bearing the Imperial aquila on their armor. Fulgrim believed that his legion should embody the perfection of not just warfare but Imperial culture, and formed a strong friendship with both Ferrus Manus and Horus during the Great Crusade.

While cleansing the alien Laer, Fulgrim recovered a sword from its Slaanesh-worshipping population that contained a greater daemon, which subtly began to corrupt him. He ignored Eldrad Ulthran's warnings about the weapon and Horus, and encouraged his legion to turn to forbidden methods to improve themselves until the Emperor's Children became just as devoted to the God of Excess. Fulgrim sided with Horus against the Emperor and killed his friend Ferrus Manus during the Drop Site Massacres, an act that broke Fulgrim's mind and allowed the daemon in his sword to possess him fully. Fulgrim soon recovered and embraced Chaos, and mortally wounded Rouboute Guilliman in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy before being driven into the Eye of Terror.

  • Agent Peacock: Definitely running for the most "beautiful" Primarch with the exception of Sanguinius, and stands as the only traitor Primarch aside from Horus himself to have slain a loyalist Primarch in battle.
  • And I Must Scream: Spent some time trapped in his body, forced to watch while a daemon acted in his stead. But then he got better - well, worse...
  • Animal Motifs: The Phoenix, due to his homeworld's miraculous rebirth. Fulgrim's bodyguard was known as the Phoenix Guard. Perhaps also Foreshadowing his eventual rebirth as a Daemon Prince.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Silver Blade of Laer, which contained a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh. Its corruptive influence perverted Fulgrim's desire for perfection into hedonism, caused him to attack Eldrad Ulthran when the Farseer tried to tell Fulgrim about Horus' turn to Chaos, and made it easier for Horus to turn Fulgrim against the Emperor. The daemon would later take complete control of Fulgrim, although he later wrested control back through unknown means.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Fulgrim is now a daemon prince, thanks to conning Perturabo into activating powerful Eldar artifacts on a Crone World and then allowing him to destroy Fulgrim's body in retaliation.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the workers who found Fulgrim carried a book which he presumed was just full of fairy tales. In fact, they were a depiction of Fulgrim's life (illustrated most clearly when the worker in question flips to a page depicting a multi-armed serpent fighting a blue-armoured giant; years later, Fulgrim - by then a daemon prince with a serpentine body and numerous arms - mortally wounded Roboute Guilliman in personal combat).
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Fulgrim had long, flowing white hair and was one of the most handsome of the Primarchs. His model sadly doesn't really show his handsomeness, but this is fairly common with the model line in general.
  • Meaningful Name: Fulgrim was the name of Chemos' mythic god of creation.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Fulgrim's daemon form has four arms.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Fulgrim was shocked back to his senses after killing Ferrus Manus, and was so overcome with remorse that he agreed to let the daemon in his sword escape. It promptly took over his body and trapped his soul inside a painting in his mind.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Legend has it that Fulgrim rules over a pleasure planet of Slaanesh somewhere in the Eye of Terror, but any who find it never return. In any case, he hasn't been seen since the Heresy.
  • The Perfectionist: Always strove to epitomize what it meant to be an Astartes. His Start of Darkness was when he went even further.
  • Red Baron: The Phoenician.
  • Snake People: Became a rather hideous one after becomming a Daemon Prince
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: During his final spiral into the arms of Slaanesh, Fulgrim tried his hand at stage makeup, with grotesque results.
  • Uncertain Doom: He hasn't been seen since fighting Roboutte Guilliman and not even his own legion knows what happened to him. It's rumoured he is now ruler of a daemon world, but numerous inquisitors and devotees of Slaanesh have searched for it, but come up empty. Though unlikely, it's possible Guilliman somehow found a way to destroy Fulgrim rather than just banishing him; whatever the case, the fight on Thessala remains his last appearance to date, without even so much as an indirect mention occurring afterwards.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Poor Fulgrim had no idea what Slaanesh had planned for him in the end.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Double Subverted, originally Fulgrim was a genuinely nice guy, if a bit eccentric. Eventually, Fulgrim ended up falling to Chaos though by getting daemonically possessed.


Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors

Tell them ruin has come to their world, death, despair and red war. Tell them their hopes and pride have come to nothing. Tell them their empty whispers fall upon deaf ears - their gods are dead, human logic has killed them. Tell them the Angels of Death have come. Tell them that nothing can save them now.

Perturabo's youth was spent on the planet Olympia as the ward of Dammekos, the Tyrant of Lochos. A cold and solitary child, he rejected all attempts by Dammekos to bond with him while devouring all manner of scholarly learning. Perturabo mastered the siegecraft that Olympia's warring city-states used against each other and soon became Dammekos' most valuable asset, a fearsome force on the battlefield and a potent source of innovation and invention in all manner of technical crafts.

After being discovered by the Emperor, Perturabo was given command of the IVth Legion, and forged these Iron Warriors into an uncompromising force that brutally crushed its opponents through attrition. His expertise in siege warfare meant that he was expected to endure some of the worst campaigns of the Horus Heresy, only to have his legion split up and assigned garrison duty on the worlds he conquered. Pertuarbo's sanity was eroded by the combination of the stress on his legion and a lack of respect from his fellow Primarchs, especially a bitter rivalry with Rogal Dorn, and when the unthinkable happened and Olympia rose in rebellion, he snapped.

The Iron Warriors put down the revolt, massacring millions, and in the aftermath Perturabo realized the Emperor would never forgive him. He threw in his lot with Horus, and the Iron Warriors took a grim satisfaction in dismantling the Imperial Fists' defenses during the Siege of Terra. After getting his revenge upon Rogal Dorn in the Iron Cage incident, Perturabo ascended to daemonhood, and currently rules over the fortress-planet Medrengard within the Eye of Terror.

  • Ace Custom: Perturabo's armor, The Logos. A Cataphractii pattern suit of artificer-quality Terminator armor, it incorporated many advanced features such as a teleport homer, and could link Perturabo to all his forces in the field, acting as a mobile command center.
  • Arm Cannon: The Logos had two belt-fed combi-bolters, one mounted on each wrist, which fired specialized bolts that caused the target to explode into flame and were designed to punch through Astartes armor.
  • Bad Boss: One of his first acts upon assuming command of his legion was ordering its soldiers to decimate themselves (i.e. every tenth man was beaten to death by the other nine). This was not for any specific failure, but for failing to live up to Perturabo's expectations.
  • Being Watched: Perturabo never told anyone, but he had an uncanny connection with the Eye of Terror, and could sense it from anywhere in the galaxy. He felt like it was always watching him, judging him. Incidentally, he's the one who gave it its current name.
  • Butt Monkey: The other Primarchs and their Legions rarely respected Perturabo and his Legion with their well-worn use being breaking sieges with time and blood... and then his Legion later was relegated to garrison duty. In one novel, a Son of Horus shoveling up earthworks at the Drop Site Massacres asks one of the Emperor's Children why the Iron Warriors aren't doing this sort of drudge work.
  • The Dog Bites Back: There's a long list of reasons why Perturabo was angry and turned to Chaos and the Horus Heresy. The biggest bite was probably the "Iron Cage" incident in which the Imperial Fists were drawn into attacking a heavily-fortified Iron Warrior fortress that was trap upon trap. It bled the Imperial Fists such that they were unfit for combat for nineteen years.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: Perturabo's achievements in the Great Crusade were often overlooked or downplayed, something that bothered him deeply.
    • When he overcame the orbital defences of the Ork Warlord Overdog Mashogg, which had stymied attacks by both the Space Wolves and the White Scars, he was credited by historians only as a nameless "comrade-in-arms".
    • During a campaign involving the Iron Warriors, the Imperial Fists, and the Blood Angels, Dorn was widely lauded in the aftermath of the conflict and presented with a medal, while Perturabo was offered nothing. When a master painter produced a painting of the campaign that prominently featured the Imperial Fists, while the Iron Warriors only appeared in the background, Perturabo requested the painting and, as soon as the artist handed it over, burned it to cinders while explaining that if his legion was not properly honoured in the aftermath of a victory, he would prefer they not be remembered at all. Dorn was furious at the action and tried to convince the painter to redo the work, but said painter seemed to have got the message and declined to do so.
  • The Engineer: Perturabo was actually quite brilliant at this, but he never got the chance to express it in any meaningful way.
  • Mood-Swinger: Has been described as "mercurial," perhaps as a way to explain his Depending on the Writer treatment in the Horus Heresy books - sometimes he's a cold schemer, sometimes he's a resentful would-be intellectual with an oddly human and humane side, at others he's just an almost-cartoonish Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Odd Friendship: This humorless siege expert got along well with arch-sorcerer Magnus the Red, as both had a love of learning and study.
  • Plunder: After Fulgrim killed Ferrus Manus, Horus gifted Perturabo with Manus' warhammer Forgebreaker.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Perturabo's hatred of Dorn went back a long way, but one of the defining incidents that truly set the stage for their feud occurred during a meeting between the Primarchs. While in earshot of Perturabo, Fulgrim asked Dorn if he thought he could build a fortress that Perturabo would be unable to crack, to which Dorn answered yes. Perturabo took this as a grave insult, confronted Dorn in a rage, then promptly stormed out. The two regarded one another with disdain afterwards, which eventually progressed to open hostility.
  • Red Baron: The Lord of Iron.
  • The Resenter: Hated being stuck with the worst, most grinding sieges of the Great Crusade. Hated having his legion split up and assigned to garrison duty. Hated having to always tear things down instead of getting a chance to build something. Hated that nobody noticed or cared how miserable he was.
    Perturabo: (to Fulgrim) You don't know the things I dream. No one does, no one ever cared enough to find out.
  • The Rival: Perturabo hated Rogal Dorn, who got the privilege of being asked to design the Emperor's Palace while Perturabo and his legion were pigeon-holed into destroying such things and who often got the glory and credit that Perturabo either deserved at least a share of or felt he did in some campaigns.
  • The Stoic: Although Perturabo hated the gruelling sieges and horrific campaigns he and his legion were forced into, his sense of duty meant that he mostly accepted his lot without complaint.
    • Not So Stoic: ...until he finally snapped around the time his own homeworld rose up in rebellion. He vented his fury upon the planet, slaughtering millions, before finally deciding he'd had enough and throwing in his lot with Horus.

     Konrad Curze 

Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter, Primarch of the Night Lords

The Space Marines fear no evil, for we are fear incarnate.

The infant Konrad Curze crashed into the night world of Nostramo, an industrial hell wracked with pollution and lawlessness where an affluent ruling class exploited and repressed the rest of the population. No family fostered the young Primarch, who matured as a wild thing preying on the animals that haunted the outskirts of Nostramo's hive cities. At some point he switched targets to lawbreakers and corrupt officials, leaving their mutilated bodies as a warning to others. A year after his arrival, Nostramo was crime-free, its population united in mortal terror of the Night Haunter, a king who ruled from the shadows and personally butchered any who defied him.

Curze was eventually reunited with the Emperor, who gave him command of the VIIIth Space Marine Legion, his Night Lords. Under the tutelage of Fulgrim, Konrad Curze quickly learned the ways of battle, and while he was never able to comprehend diplomacy or negotiation, the Night Haunter was adept at the ways of sowing terror. His legion's horrific reputation was able to quell worlds into obedience without a single shot, but the Night Lords' violent excesses, exacerbated by the sociopaths and criminals that made up its ranks, caused grave concern among other Primarchs. After a violent confrontation with Rogal Dorn, Curze fled before his brothers could render judgment, and ordered the Night Lords fleet to return to Nostramo and detonate the world's core.

Any attempt to bring the Night Lords to justice was derailed when the Horus Heresy erupted, and Konrad Curze sided with the traitors, leading his legion on a campaign of genocide and sickening violence. After Horus' defeat, the increasingly unhinged Night Haunter battled on against overwhelming odds until he was tracked down by a Callidus agent on the world of Tsagualsa. Rather than fighting back, the Night Haunter seems to have accepted his fate, and is the only Primarch to have been assassinated. His death had little effect on his legion, however, and the Night Lords continue to prey upon the Imperium without cause nor mercy.

  • All the Other Reindeer: While the other Primarchs were renowned for their martial prowess and great intellect, The Night Haunter was feared.
  • Ax-Crazy: Had occasional bouts of psychosis, which grew more and more frequent after the Siege of Terra. His actions towards the end of the Great Crusade became increasingly done with no real goal in mind beyond sowing terror.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Once he realized that he had gone a bit too far off the deep end, he allowed an assassin from the Inquisition to kill him.
  • The Cowl: Once again, GW took a page from Batman.
  • Death Seeker: Posted no guards at his palace, allowing M'Shen to infiltrate all the way into his sanctum. By this point he was suicidal and saw his death as the ultimate vindication for his actions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: His modus operandi. He saw himself as a punisher instead of a conqueror, meaning he rarely took prisoners and any crime, no matter how slight, was grounds for a horrific death.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: For ranged combat, Curze preferred his Widowmakers, Nostraman throwing knives he was scarily-skilled with. In gameplay turns he can throw them as far as a pistol can shoot, and has a chance of ignoring not just his target's armor save, but Invulnerable save as well.
  • The Dreaded: He was pretty damn good with Terror Tactics.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: A dark variant. He had prophetic dreams that showed him the worst possible futures. Constantly pressed by visions of doom and gloom, he developed a cynical and nihilistic attitude and came to believe that there was no hope.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Curze was good at one thing only and that was killing in a terrifying fashion. Unlike most of his brethren, he had no grasp of diplomacy or statesmanship. He attempted to force his brother Vulkan into various depravities to prove that he was Not So Different, but Vulkan resisted, much to Curze's distress.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Corax - both were stealth experts who favoured jump troops and guerrilla tactics, but Corax was raised by civilised people while Curze was left to his own private hell.
  • Famous Last Words: "Your presence does not surprise me, Assassin. I have known of you ever since your craft entered the Eastern Fringes. Why did I not have you killed? Because your mission and the act you are about to commit proves the truth of all I have ever said or done. I merely punished those who had wronged, just as your false Emperor now seeks to punish me. Death is nothing compared to vindication."
  • The Fatalist: His dark dreams, and his never-ending, seemingly unwinnable struggle against his violent urges, caused him to develop a fatalistic attitude.
  • Friendless Background: Curze was the only Primarch who was not raised by someone (or, in Russ's case, some wolf) on his home planet. Even when he joined the Imperium proper, he typically kept to himself and was distant from both his brother Primarchs and the officers of his legion.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Even compared to other "outcast" Primarchs like Magnus or Perturabo, Curze was mistrusted and disliked by virtually all of his brothers and even elements of his own legion.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: He despised corruption and criminals. So, he resorted to violent, murderous terror tactics to punish criminals and deter corruption. In the end, he became one of the very monsters he so despised. His unyielding sense of right and wrong, his constant visions of the worst possible outcomes, combined with his inability and/or unwillingness to use anything else besides terror tactics and brutal psychological warfare, led him to become one of the very monsters he so despised.
  • Knight Templar: Curze had an extremely strong sense of justice and saw himself as a divine punishment to be wielded upon the unworthy. He terrified his homeworld into becoming a prosperous, crime-free planet (by horrifically butchering anyone who dared commit crimes) and was noted for being one of the most ruthless and merciless of the Primarchs when it came to punishing recalcitrant worlds. In a rather sad irony, as the Great Crusade progressed Curze became the head of a legion of butchers and criminals (Nostramo having slipped back into crime and tyranny after he wasn't around to Scare 'Em Straight) and turned into one of the monsters he so hated. Curze is notable as the only Primarch who came to despise his legion (and himself) and his death was more or less suicide-by-assassin.
  • Leave No Survivors: Played with. Curze saw himself not as an army, but as a punishment; as such, he typically turned down surrenders and pleas for mercy. He would occasionally leave survivors, but only so they could spread stories of the horrors he had inflicted and sow panic amongst the enemy.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Does not even begin to cover it...
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Averted. Oh, it worked damn good when he was around!
  • Never Found the Body: The recording of M'Shen assassinating Curze cuts off right before M'Shen's killing blow, leading some to suspect that Curze is not dead at all. This appears to be a subversion as, unlike most other instances of this trope, Curze is still generally accepted both in the official lore and in the fandom as dead (making him the only Chaos Primarch other than Horus - and maybe Alpharius - to be killed off).
  • Not So Different: Claimed that he and his actions were merely a reflection of the Imperium's barbarism. Given what the Imperium would eventually become, he may have been onto something...
    • In Vulkan Lives, Curze attempted to prove that the other Primarchs were capable of just as much brutality as him once he stripped them of their morality. To this end, he attempted to force a captive Vulkan into various barbarities, without success. The fact that the other Primarchs weren't like him seemed to be profoundly distressing to Curze.
    • Corax came to this realisation in Deliverance Lost - if he'd been left to his own devices while growing up like Curze was, it could have been the Raven Guard who swore themselves to Horus's side.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: His modus operandi in his loyalist days. Often overlapped with Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin
  • Red Baron: The Lord of the Night. Whether "Night Haunter" was an epithet or a completely separate personality is subject to much speculation.
  • Sanity Slippage: As the Great Crusade wore on, Curze's actions became less and less defensible and he increasingly slipped into psychosis. Soon even his own legion began to see him as crazy.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Literally. While he was a loyalist, the mere mention of Curze and the Night Lords would cause rebellious worlds to become compliant, as his intervention was seen as a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: The Night Haunter preyed on the criminals of Nostromo until none were left.
  • Shout-Out: To Heart of Darkness, a book by Joseph Conrad about a murderous tyrant named Kurtz. The name of Curze's killer, the assassin M'Shen, is in turn a Shout-Out to Martin Sheen, who played Kurtz's killer in Apocalypse Now.
  • Split Personality: One common theory to explain his actions is that he had one, with Konrad Curze being the just and idealistic leader of men and the Night Haunter being a psychopathic vigilante. Part of his fall to Chaos came when the Night Haunter, rather than Curze, became the dominant personality as a result of the Crusade.
  • Straw Nihilist: The constant dark visions, and his own cynicism and despair and fatalism, left him without any hope, and caused him to gradually abandon all claims of justice or morality.
  • Terror Hero: What he used to be before falling to Chaos.
  • Vigilante Man: Taken to its logical and horrific extreme.
  • Wolverine Claws: A set of master-crafted lightning claws the Night Lords referred to as Mercy and Forgiveness. What their actual wielder called them is unknown.
  • You Are What You Hate: By the time he realized he had become one of the monsters he despised, he was a broken, self-loathing, and suicidal man.


Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters

I am told to bathe my Legion in the blood of innocents and sinners alike, and I do it, because it is all that's left for me in this life. I do these things, and I enjoy them, not because we are moral, or right - or loving souls seeking to enlighten a dark universe - but because all I feel are the Butcher's Nails hammered into my brain.

The infant Angron was discovered by a slaver on the world of Nuceria, surrounded by the corpses of alien attackers. Impressed with the child's ferocity, the slaver implanted Angron's cerebral cortex with archeotech devices that enhanced his aggression, and raised him as a gladiator. After years of bloodshed in the arena, Angron led his fellow slaves in a revolt, escaping to the mountains and throwing back repeated attempts to bring them to heel. Just when his brothers and sisters were preparing for their final stand, the Emperor arrived to claim Angron as his son.

Angron refused, and would have died alongside his comrades had the Emperor not taken him by force. Without their leader the gladiators lost all morale and were annihilated, and an embittered Angron only reluctantly took command of the XIIth Legion, which became his World Eaters. He ordered his Apothecaries to duplicate his implants and subject his legion to the same mental mutilation, and the World Eaters soon earned a reputation as an army of remorseless berserkers. Angron was criticized for his practices and came to blows with Leman Russ and the Space Wolves, but before the Emperor could take further action the Horus Heresy erupted.

It took little convincing from Horus for Angron to side with the traitors against the Emperor, and the World Eaters fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the Horus Heresy, now claiming skulls for the Blood God. Angron was the first through the breach of the walls of the Imperial Palace, and the last Primarch to leave when the Siege of Terra failed. His World Eaters rampaged their way to the Eye of Terror, where they fractured into multiple psychopathic warbands. Angron is one of the few Daemon Primarchs to have launched major campaigns after the Horus Heresy, most infamously leading a horde of berserkers at the First War for Armageddon.

  • 0% Approval Rating: Angron was hated by virtually everyone, including his own legion. When he first arrived as little more than a frothing madman, several of the officers insisted to the Emperor that there had to be some kind of mistake, since there was no way the thing before them was their Primarch. In Betrayer, a mortally wounded World Eater demands to be allowed to die rather than being forced to continue to serve Angron and his last words are a bitter chuckle and the phrase "Piss on Angron's grave when he dies."
  • An Axe to Grind: Angron had a matched pair of massive chainaxes, Gorefather and Gorechild. They were wrecked and discarded during the Horus Heresy, and since his ascension to Daemon Prince, Angron favors enormous two-handed axes or greatswords.
  • At Least I Admit It: Before going renegade, Angron disdained his brothers' talk about bringing worlds into "compliance" and asking for "tithes," and was brutally frank about how his World Eaters were fighting for a tyrant and killing any who resisted.
  • Ax-Crazy: He wasn't really all there even before the Butcher's Nails implants, which made him worse. His bloodlust and murderous rage was so much that Khorne himself took an interest, and eventually turned him into a daemon prince.
  • Band of Brothers: His relationship with his fellow gladiators. Angron's legion, the War Hounds (which he renamed the World Eaters) tried to form a close bond with him, but Angron was too wrapped up in his hatred, madness and grief to reciprocate. The War Hounds were like this with each other, until Angron had Butcher's Nails installed in all of them.
  • Berserk Button: Don't imply that he abandoned his brothers or ran from the last stand at Desh'ea.
  • The Berserker: One of the many reasons how he became the Daemon Primarch of Khorne.
  • The Big Guy: Angron had little more to his skills than blood-raging force of arms compared to his other brothers. He did not lax in it.
  • Big Red Devil: Became one of these after falling to Chaos.
  • Black Sheep: The only Primarch to fail to conquer his homeworld.
  • Blood Knight: Even more so than the other Primarchs. The Butcher's Nails warped and damaged his brain so that the only sense of peace and contentment he can achieve is by fighting and killing. When he became a Daemon Prince, he got worse.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: While he was possibly the greatest warrior amongst the company of the Primarchs, Angron also showed himself in Betrayer to be a gifted philosopher and debater when arguing the Emperor's immorality. Unfortunately, due to the Butcher's Nails essentially ripping his brain apart with killing urges and preventing him from even sleeping, he can't really capitalize on any of his talents not directly related to killing. The fact that he is, however, easily one of the best warriors out of a group of actual gods does speak for itself of his power.
  • Broken Angel: One of his nicknames was the Broken One, and even his World Eaters were aware that their Primarch was irreparably damaged and deranged, a drooling, ranting beast that was barely cogent outside of battle. Only his ascension to daemonhood saved Angron from an early death from mental degradation.
  • The Brute: Known only for his violence.
  • The Corrupter: Before Angron, the 12th legion, then known as the War Hounds, were renowned for the fierce loyalty with each other. When Angron took command, he renamed them World Eaters, and he had Butcher's Nails installed in all of his soldiers, driving them insane with bloodlust. Afterward, the World Eaters were so renowned for their bloodlust, butchery and insanity that other Imperial forces wanted nothing to do with them.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He's a contender for having the darkest of all the Primarchs. When he first arrived on his homeworld of Nuceria, he was forced to fight an army of aliens, hinted to be Eldar trying to assassinate him before he could become what he did. He grew up as a slave and a gladiator, and he had the Butcher's Nails hammered into his head, driving him mad. When he finally managed to escape, his army faced years of starvation and constant attacks by his former captors. When the Emperor arrived, he forced Angron to join the Great Crusade, and left Angron's army to be annihilated. Angron never really recovered.
  • Death Seeker: Straddles between this and Not Afraid to Die. Angron believed that he should have died (and, symbolically, did die) with his gladiator kin on Nuceria and that the Emperor robbed him of his rightful demise. He leads the World Eaters, but with no particular zeal for his station; instead, he simply kills because that is what the Butcher's Nails force him to do.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Angron insisted that he won the Night of the Wolf, when his legion and the Space Wolves came to blows. In the battle itself, Angron bested Leman Russ in close combat, but while doing so was surrounded by the Wolf Guard as the rest of the World Eaters fought on, too crazed to notice their Primarch's danger. It took Lorgar to explain that Leman Russ had only spared Angron in hopes that he learned something from the debacle.
  • The Dreaded: Even Leman Russ knew not to get on his bad side. He only got worse after falling to Chaos.
  • Enfant Terrible: When Angron landed on his adopted homeworld of Nuceria, he was attacked by what Imperial authorities believe were Eldar intent on stopping the rise of the future Daemon Prince. When humans finally found him, he was surrounded by their bodies.
  • The Gadfly: In Betrayer we see him get his jollies by insulting Argel Tal and his "Blessed Lady" until the Word Bearer attacks him.
  • Gladiator Revolt: Angron's backstory has him leading one, and he was found by the Emperor the day they were going to make their Last Stand. Instead of joining his father, Angron decided to fight and die with his comrades. The Emperor departed... then teleported Angron away right as they were about to be slaughtered. Angron had issues with that.
  • Macho Masochism: Angron has a "triumph rope", a ring of scars on his torso denoting his victories in battle. A loss would be signified by putting dirt on the "rope", turning it black. Angron has no black scars.
  • Meaningful Name: Angron's name is very similar to Anger.
  • Never My Fault: Quick to blame the Emperor, his upbringing, or the Nails for his problems.
    Guilliman: You're still a slave, Angron. Enslaved by your past, blind to the future. Too hateful to learn. Too spiteful to prosper.
  • Not Afraid to Die: The Butcher's Nails drove all fear of death from Angron and his legion, albeit at tremendous cost.
  • Not So Different: When confronted by Leman Russ regarding his legion's brutality and barbarity, Angron explains that he is just as loyal as Russ to the ideals of the Imperium; he is simply more honest about the true nature of those ideals.
  • Paint the Town Red: During his days amongst humanity, Angron's pearly white armor got completely covered in red so often that it earned him the name "the Red Angel", and he often was told he should just paint it red. After the Heresy, the World Eaters did just that.
  • Red Baron: The Red Angel.
  • Refusal of the Call: Angron refused to go with the Emperor's summons to join him, preferring to fight and die alongside his comrades. The Emperor made him answer.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The man destroyed entire planetary sectors when he left the Warp in order to kick the crap out of the Imperium of Man, still wanting his revenge against them.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Besides Magnus, he's one of the few traitor Primarchs who actually goes outside of the Warp in order to kick some major ass. In the words of 1d4chan: "He Gets Shit Done!"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gave a brutal one to Guilliman:
    What would you know of struggle, Perfect Son? When have you fought against the mutilation of your mind? When have you had to do anything more than tally compliances and polish your armour? [...] The people of your world named you Great One. The people of mine called me Slave. Which one of us landed on a paradise of civilization to be raised by a foster father, Roboute? Which one of us was given armies to lead after training in the halls of the Macraggian high-riders? Which one of us inherited a strong, cultured kingdom? And which one of us had to rise up against a kingdom with nothing but a horde of starving slaves? Which one of us was a child enslaved on a world of monsters, with his brain cut up by carving knives? Listen to your blue-clad wretches yelling of courage and honour, courage and honour, courage and honour. Do you even know the meaning of those words? Courage is fighting the kingdom which enslaves you, no matter that their armies outnumber yours by ten-thousand to one. You know nothing of courage. Honour is resisting a tyrant when all others suckle and grow fat on the hypocrisy he feeds them. You know nothing of honour.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: To wit, after the Emperor abducted him and had him put in control of a Space Marine Legion, he was simply furious and uninterested. The Emperor had the Legion's Captains talk him down without laying a hand on Angron... until Kharn succeeded, Angron simply killed the unfortunate Captains that tried to talk to him.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Angron was the only Primarchs to openly despise The Emperor.
  • Unstoppable Rage: To put things into perspective, Kharn the Betrayer, the bloodthirsty warrior who destroyed two Chaos Marine legions when they stopped fighting, was once considered to be Angron's Blue Oni in comparison.


Mortarion, Primarch of the Death Guard

Pain is an illusion of the senses, fear an illusion of the mind, beyond these only death waits in silent judgment o'er all.

Mortarion was cast to the world of Barbarus, a planet of high mountains swathed in clouds of poison, ruled by monstrous overlords who preyed upon the humans huddling in the livable valleys below. One of these tyrants fostered Mortarion, raising the child in a keep at the limits of the Primarch's toxin tolerance, but the youth eventually rebelled and left to aid his fellow man. With the hardiest soldiers and crude breathing apparatuses, Mortarion took the fight to the alien overlords, until only the stronghold of his former master remained.

On the eve of his final triumph, a stranger appeared and offered his assistance, but Mortarion stubbornly insisted that he needed no help, and marched into the poisonous heights. The last thing he saw before collapsing was the stranger cutting down Mortarion's foster parent with a single stroke. Afterward, Mortarion swore to serve the Emperor, and took command of the XIVth Legion, the Death Guard. Mortarion passed on his values of fortitude and relentlessness, but the grim Primarch never bonded with his brothers, with the exception of Horus Lupercal and Konrad Curze. Other Primarchs warned the Emperor of the closeness between Mortarion and Horus, fears that were justified when the Warmaster turned renegade and the Death Guard joined him.

After fighting alongside the other traitors in the battles for the Isstvan system, the Death Guard departed for Terra, only to fall victim to a horrific warpstorm and a daemonic plague. Wracked by pain and festering with corruption, Mortarion's superhuman resilience left him unable to die, and in agony he promised his legion's soul to any who would deliver him. The Death Guard emerged from the Warp devoted to Nurgle, and became the first Plague Marines. After the Siege of Terra failed, Mortarion led his forces into the Eye of Terror and was rewarded for his service with elevation to daemonhood, ruling over a plague world he shaped into a miserable mockery of Barbarus.

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: His already superhuman toughness was enhanced from growing up in Barbarus' poisonous atmosphere, and Mortarion kept a cocktail of such toxins in his armor's rebreather systems so he'd stay sharp.
  • Deal with the Devil: His desperate plea to Nurgle to make the pain stop.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Got rid of pyskers in the Legions, only to join the side that encouraged them to use their powers.
  • Does Not Like Magic: In fact, the biggest opposer to the Librarian program.
  • The Grim Reaper: He sure loves this look.
  • Plaguemaster:
  • Made of Iron: Notably the toughest of the Primarchs.
  • Meaningful Name: According to the monstrous tyrant who raised him, it means "child of death."
  • Orcus on His Throne: Typhus in particular is disgusted by how little Mortarion has done since becoming a Daemon Primarch, and views the imitation Barbarus he created as a sickening bit of sentimentality.
  • Red Baron: The Death Lord.
  • Sinister Scythe: Mortarion's weapon of choice, a Manreaper called Silence.

     Magnus the Red 

Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons.

The Thousand Sons alone of all the Legions have seen the light beyond the gates of the empyrean. That light will free us from the shackles of our mundane perceptions of reality and allow the human race to stand as masters of the galaxy.

Magnus had the good fortune to land on the world of Prospero, whose psychically-gifted population accepted the cyclopean, red-skinned child rather than slaying him for his mutations. Among these scholars the young Primarch quickly mastered his psyker powers, surpassing his teachers and peering into the depths of the Empyrean, growing in mental strength even as his body developed into a giant. When the Emperor reached Prospero to collect his lost son, there was such familiarity between the two that it is suspected that they had been in psychic contact for some time prior to meeting in the flesh.

The new Primarch was given command of the XVth Legion, whose numbers had been depleted following outbreaks of mutation and psyker abilities. Magnus declared that they were his Thousand Sons, and went about instructing them in the ways of safely harnessing their powers, so that even his comparatively small Legion could achieve mighty victories during the Great Crusade. However, other Imperial forces were leery of the dangers of such mutations, which culminated in the Edict of Nikea, where the Emperor disbanded the legions' Librarius programs and forbade the use of psychic sorcery.

Stung and humiliated by this command, Magnus nevertheless continued delving into forbidden knowledge, until his scryings revealed a terrible vision: Horus' betrayal and a galactic civil war. Magnus sent a psychic warning to the Emperor that was intended to vindicate the use of his powers, only for his father to reject it and unleash the Space Wolves upon Prospero to destroy the Thousand Sons for their treachery. After being broken in personal combat with Leman Russ, Magnus called upon the dark god Tzeentch for succor, and he and his legion were drawn into the Warp. The Thousand Sons supported the other renegades during the Horus Heresy and continue to strike back at the Imperium that cast them out, while the now-Daemon Primarch has nursed a ten-thousand-year vendetta against the Space Wolves.

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: He's called "The Red" for a reason.
  • Anti-Villain: Though he went against the Emperor's command, he never meant to betray him.
  • The Big Guy: Some depictions have him as tall as 5 metres, which is more than twice the size of a normal Space Marine (and this is BEFORE his turn to Chaos). Recent material seems to have him sized much closer to his peers.
  • The Cassandra: Magnus' visions were almost never wrong, and almost never believed. If the Horus Heresy books are anything to go by, the galaxy could have avoided a great deal of trouble if the Emperor and other Primarchs had heeded Magnus' advice more often.
  • Cyclops: Played with. Magnus only has one eye. Early depictions of him claimed he was born this way, while more recent lore explains that he originally had two eyes and lost one, because he gave it to Tzeentch in return for a stop to the rampant mutations of his legion.
  • Deal with the Devil: It's hinted that Magnus made some sort of bargain with the Chaos Gods that gave him access to, or control over, his incredible psychic powers.
    • He did this with Tzeentch; the price was the eye and the (supposed) inevitability of the Space Wolves and his Legion killing each other.
  • The Dreaded: It doesn't come up often, but Magnus and his Legion provoked suspicion and fear even among fellow Astartes for their power and mastery of sorcery. Sanguinius acknowledges this in Fear to Tread when asked if there are any devils among the Primarchs, remarking they should meet his brother Magnus. This superstition directly led to the Council of Nikaea, an informal sanction of the Thousand Sons.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Not to the level of Angron or Curze, but Magnus was generally seen as untrustworthy by many of his fellow Primarchs, due to the fact that he and his legion openly wielded their psychic powers with impunity. The Primarchs who hated psykers, especially Leman Russ and Mortarion, looked down on and despised Magnus.
  • Genius Bruiser: All of the Primarchs were superhumanly strong and intelligent, but Magnus was particularly fond of intellectual and cultural pursuits. He was also easily the largest of his brothers with strength lauded as rivaling Leman Russ'.
  • Kaleidoscope Eye: Magnus's remaining eye constantly changed colours, depending on his mood. Some of those colours don't exist in the mortal universe, having been drawn from the Warp...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Magnus encountered unexpected resistance when sending his psychic warning to the Emperor, but pushed on until he broke through... and realized that he had just shattered the wards protecting the Imperial Palace and the Emperor's prototype Webway gate from a daemonic invasion.
  • Odd Friendship: Magnus is perhaps one of the few that truly connected with three Primarchs that were known for not being the most beloved: Jaghatai, Lorgar, and Perturabo.
    • Jaghatai and Magnus liked each other specially for the mutual respect that each showed to the other; the White Scar was not afraid of psykers and was willing to help the formation of the Librarius (alongside Sanguinius), while Magnus actively tried to understand the sons of Chogoris instead of treating them like simple barbarians (which is one of the main reasons the White Scars stay away from the Imperium).
    • Lorgar was the most pious of the Primarchs, and showed some contempt for war in general. Magnus took pride in his warcraft and he eternally sought knowledge. What is interesting is that though Magnus himself did not believe in gods, the fact that he tried to understand cultures and also answer the questions of the universe only helped Lorgar become fond of him, since both of them sought the same thing, but their answers came from different places. They would spend time together discussing philosphy after their first meeting.
    • Magnus was one of the few Primarchs who actually treated Perturabo with respect and the two shared a love of learning and esoteric lore. Magnus was one of the only Primarchs who knew of, and admired, Perturabo's talents for engineering, as most others simply thought of him as a master of siegecraft.
  • Out-Gambitted: Trying to out-scheme the universe's greatest Chess Master is generally a bad idea, as Magnus eventually finds out.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: All of the Primarchs could slaughter countless Space Marines in combat and even take on vehicles and win. Magnus could incinerate enormous Titans with psyflame, raze the surface of planets, and bring nightmares to entire worlds as a side-effect of his power.
  • Psychic Powers: He was an enormously powerful psyker, second only to the Emperor.
  • Red Baron: The Crimson King, the Red Cyclopes.
  • The Rival: To Leman Russ.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Tzeentch and Horus played him like a fiddle.
  • Warrior Poet: His ultimate ambition was to bring intellectual enlightenment to the galaxy through military conquest.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: In Betrayer, is said to have inherited this trait from the Emperor, where his features constantly shift and change to whoever is looking at him.
  • Your Size May Vary: In A Thousand Sons his size constantly changes, from normal to Titan-sized.


Alpharius/Omegon, Primarch(s?) of the Alpha Legion

Alpharius, Omegon, or one of their body doubles?

The wise commander utilises his enemy's weakness even more than he utilises his own strength.
— Introit to the Principia Belicosa

The last of the Primarchs recovered, (suspect) sources claim that Alpharius was encountered near the end of the Great Crusade, leading a swarm of fighters and small attack craft that managed to entrap and board a Luna Wolves cruiser. Warmaster Horus led a relief effort, only to have his command ship similarly infiltrated, but a battle for its bridge ended the minute Horus and the invaders' leader got a good look at each other. Alpharius bonded with Horus over the coming months, and eventually was sent back to Terra to be formally received by the Emperor, but the two spent little time with each other before Alpharius was deployed to lead the XXth Legion.

Aloof, secretive and subtle, Alpharius never revealed his homeworld (to say nothing of the existence of his twin brother Omegon), and had little interaction with other Imperial forces. He trained his Alpha Legion to be both tactically flexible and capable of using every advantage possible to achieve victory, and soon earned a reputation for leading intricate and unorthodox campaigns - tactics that clashed with Roboute Guilliman's efforts to codify "proper" warfare. It is thought that Alpharius' old bond with Horus is what influenced him to side with the traitors during the Horus Heresy, though as always Alpharius' true motives are shrouded in mystery. The Alpha Legion fought alongside the traitors at many key battles, but for the most part Alpharius pursued his own objectives, and seems to have gone out of his way to test his skills against other Space Marines.

After Horus' defeat, Alpharius was cornered on Eskrador by Guilliman and the Ultramarines. Though the loyalists were initially outmaneuvered at every turn, Guilliman eventually led a dangerous attack on the Alpha Legion's command center, where he allegedly struck down Alpharius in single combat. This had no effect on the Alpha Legion's performance, however, and the Ultramarines endured a week of guerrilla attacks and ambushes until they evacuated the battlefield and resorted to an orbital bombardment. The Alpha Legion continues to operate from cells hidden across the galaxy, and whether these forces are still following Alpharius' original objective is as much of a mystery as what that objective was.

Of course, all of this could be nothing more than Alpha Legion propaganda and misinformation...

  • Always Someone Better: Alpharius seems to have felt this way about Roboute Guilliman. Guilliman's boast of having more victories than Alpharius would ever be able to achieve appeared to rankle Alpharius's pride.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Pale Spear, a strange double-bladed weapon older even than the Eldar. It could pass through armor effortlessly and turn flesh into oily smoke.
  • Can't Catch Up: Encountered almost 200 years after the start of the Great Crusade, Alpharius soon found that he could never hope to match the victory tally of some of his more accomplished brothers like Horus, Guilliman, or El'Johnson. Given that the Great Crusade was running out of planets to conquer, it seemed unlikely the Alpha Legion would ever match the accomplishments of the other legions.
  • Chessmaster: Alpharius has shades of this in that he likes elaborate planning with lots of nuance to it.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Alpharius preferred subtlety and flexibility to his strategies and tactics, and believed in seizing every advantage possible so that his victory was inevitable.
  • Complexity Addiction: After Alpharius' combat doctrine was displayed to his brothers, and after Guilliman dismissed it, Alpharius gave the world of Tesstra Prime a full week to fortify and prepare for invasion, only to inflict 90% casualties upon the enemy after days of masterful ambushes and subversive tactics. When asked why he didn't simply take the world's capital at the start of the conflict, Alpharius reportedly said "it would have been too easy." Guilliman called the whole campaign "a huge waste of time, effort, and the Emperor's bolt shells."
  • Continuity Snarl: Perhaps fitting, given his/their penchant for screwing with people's heads, Alpharius became the subject of a number of these when Legion significantly rewrote his backstory, motivations, and gave him a twin in the form of Omegon.
  • Diagonal Cut: Fell victim to one of these during his fight with Roboute Guilliman. It is said that the two approached one another and paused, saying nothing and seemingly communing silently. Then they both drew their blades and made a single cut; Alpharius fell a few moments later. Of course, the whole thing may have been made up by the Alpha Legion to sow misdirection, but it still makes for a cool story.
  • Failure Gambit: A weird version of this. Alpharius defects to Chaos, though still secretly works against them as a Reverse Mole, because he is told that the Emperor's defeat would save the universe, whereas the Emperor's victory would ultimately hand the galaxy over to Chaos.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Alpharius's choice of tactics earned him no small amount of scorn. Guilliman famously called them "a waste of time, effort, and the Emperor's bolt shells"; Dorn decried them as "unmanly" and claimed that the Alpha Legion were not fit to bear the Emperor's mark; Mortarion, Leman Russ, Magnus the Red, and even Konrad Curze similarly looked down on the Alpha Legion. Basically the only Primarch who didn't spurn Alpharius was Horus.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Though in many cases Alpharius would disguise himself as an ordinary Legionnaire, at times he took to the field in an elaborate suit of mastercrafted armor known as the Pythian Scales. Or rather, someone took to the field in the armor...
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Alpharius and his legion are driven by a constant need to prove themselves to his brother Primarchs. Famously, Alpharius occasionally made missions more challenging by giving up tactical advantages (such as the element of surprise) in order to make his eventual victory that much more impressive. In a typical twist of fate for this universe, Alpharius' tactics only alienated his brothers further, especially Guilliman, who pointed out that those methods were needlessly complex uses of manpower and resources.
  • Inferred Survival: Possibly. Imperial records indicate that Guilliman killed Alpharius, but given the latter's skill at deception and pulling off Twin Switches, this seems unlikely. And even if Alpharius was killed, this still leaves Omegon unaccounted for. To compound matters, Imperial historians - including the Ultramarines themselves - note that the records surrounding the event in question are suspicious, leading some to question whether it ever happened at all.
  • The Men in Black: Omegon and his Stealth units wear black power armor and act very much like this. He also has a suit of unpainted power armor worn by Malacador's Knight-Errant.
  • Mysterious Past: Alpharius was discovered attacking Horus' flagship as a pirate. All else of his past is unknown as he refused to ever talk about it.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Relative to the other Primarchs at least. Whereas the "average" Primarch was roughly twice the size of a normal Space Marine, Alpharius and Omegon were only nominally larger, to the point where they could pass for normal Marines (and have larger members of their legion pass for them).
  • Red Baron: The Last Primarch to the Imperium, the Twin Primarchs to the Alpha Legion.
  • Reverse Mole: Alpharius is supposedly one of these, having joined Chaos because he believed Horus's victory would doom humanity and save the rest of the universe, whereas the Emperor's victory would keep humanity around longer, but also allow Chaos to grow in power to the point of it consuming everything. Why the Alpha Legion is still pledged to Chaos after Horus's ultimate failure and death is anyone's guess.
    • It's heavily implied Omegon abandoned this plan and began to aid Imperial forces while Alpharius was corrupted by Chaos.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The only really concrete thing known about Alpharius and Omegon are their combat doctrine - everything else, including their whereabouts and whether or not either of them is still alive, is up for debate.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Everyone who knows about them considers them this, including each other, but ultimately subverted as the Horus Heresy went on.
  • Space Pirate: What Alpharius was before Horus found them. In The First Heretic, his pod is shown to have possibly ended up on a ship (it was too dark in the vision to tell). Whether he even has a homeworld or not is unknown, but his Legion was quickly bolstered from somewhere. In The Primarchs, Omegon had memories of "scheming their way to supremacy" on their distant homeworld, (probably) confirming that they did have one.
  • Twin Switch: With each other and their entire Legion.
  • Uncertain Doom: Roboute Guilliman killed him in a duel. Maybe. He hasn't been seen since at any rate. Then again, Alpharius was known for pulling off Twin Switches with various members of his legion, so it's unclear if he was actually the one that died (and the Imperium seems to assume he hasn't, just in case). And just to make things really confusing, the modern day Ultramarines have no record of this confrontation in their archives and some doubt that it even happened at all, indicating the whole thing might have been made up by the Alpha Legion and planted in Imperial records just to cause confusion.
    • Also, this piece of lore was written before Alpharius was given a twin in the form of Omegon. What, if anything, happened to Omegon is still not known.
  • The Unfavorite: Alpharius was often perceived this way, due to being the last Primarch to be found (and, thus, having to measure up to his 19 "older brothers"). Horus took advantage of this by personally training him and, thus, earning Alpharius's loyalty.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Justified in Alpharius' case. His Complexity Addiction led him to forfeit advantages and avoid the easy options for victory, deliberately making monolithic, intricate strategies to make his eventual victory all the more impressive.

The Lost Primarchs

     The Lost Primarchs 

Primarchs II and XI


  • Adventure-Friendly World: These unknown Primarchs are another facet in the vast variance of the Warhammer 40,000 universe that lets players simply fill it in however they want.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Word of God says there's no intention of ever resolving this mystery, though we have been given some hints to work with.
    • The Space Wolves acquired the sobriquet "The Emperor's Executioners," have fought other Space Marines even before the Horus Heresy (the conflicts with the World Eaters and Dark Angels the most infamous). It should be noted that it's rumored they nominated themselves, and is believed that they are trying to justify why there is such a Legion amongst the Astartes.
    • Sanguinius worries in Fear to Tread that his legion will be marked as genetically compromised and become "a third empty plinth beneath the roof of the Hegemon" on Terra.
    • There's some in-universe speculation that the Ultramarines received a large influx of recruits during the Great Crusade, perhaps a legion that no longer officially exists. This would also explain the deviation amongst some of the Ultramarines' successor chapters.
    • There is also mention that the Adeptus Sororitas were ordered to destroy a great amount of Space Marines quickly at some point; it is entirely possible that these were the members of one of the missing Legions. This also implies that said Legion was Chaos-aligned since the Sororitas specialise in fighting heretics.
  • Un-Person: The primarchs of the II and XI legions were at some point completely expunged from Imperium record, and the reasons why are completely unknown. They are alluded to a couple of times in the Horus Heresy books, but whenever they are the person who brought them up is very quickly reminded not to talk about it.