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"Death to the False Emperor!"

We fight the long war, not through vain notions of duty and honour, but through a far purer purpose: hatred. At the height of our glory we were betrayed and cast out by our kin... It is this hatred that has sustained me through the long millennia. I tend it with bitterness. I nurture it with the deaths of my former brothers. For I know that when the end is upon us and Horus is returned, then the False Emperor shall be cast down from his sepulchral Golden Throne, and we shall take our rightful place at the side of Horus, the true Emperor of Mankind.
Ferrous Ironclaw, Warsmith of the Iron Warriors 2nd Grand Company.
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Chaos Space Marines are the Evil Counterpart to Warhammer 40,000's iconic faction, superhuman soldiers who have pledged themselves to the Dark Gods in pursuit of greater power.

The life of the Adeptus Astartes is one of discipline, endless service and self-denial, but they are not immune to temptation. Some warriors chafe under their restrictions and seek to use their skill at arms to further their own ambitions. Some become disillusioned with the Imperial cause. Some make choices that see them banished by their peers or declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Inquisition. Whatever the case may be, these renegades and traitors find new patrons in the Chaos Gods, who offer tangible rewards for shedding their fealty to the Emperor. Chaos Space Marines' already formidable wargear is enhanced by the powers of the Warp, and their very bodies are twisted into more deadly, if hideous, forms. The road of a champion of Chaos is long and bloody, and many die forgotten, or devolve into gibbering monsters as their minds collapse and their bodies mutate beyond recognition. But the ultimate prize, immortality as a mighty Daemon Prince, continues to tempt Space Marines into damnation.

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The most infamous Chaos Space Marines belong to the nine Traitor Legions that went renegade during the Horus Heresy, who nearly succeeded in destroying the Imperium in its infancy before being driven into the Eye of Terror to lick their wounds and plan their vengeance. Ten thousand years later, many of these veterans continue to wage war against the Emperor's forces, granted unnaturally long life as a reward for their service, or perhaps as punishment for their failure. They are joined by new generations of Space Marines—individuals, squads, or even whole chapters who have spat on their oaths and bartered their souls for power. They were once the Imperium's greatest heroes, but now they want nothing more than to see the galaxy burn.

The tabletop Chaos Space Marines army plays very similarly to conventional Space Marines, for obvious reasons, sharing most of the their strengths and weaknesses. But while the Space Marines are an army of generalists, Chaos Space Marines have access to units dedicated to the powers of the Warp, giving them fantastic assault troops in the form of Khorne Berzerkers or deadly ranged units such as Slaaneshi Noise Marines. Likewise, any discrepancies between the two armies' vehicle pools are made up for by the horrifying daemon engines available to the forces of Chaos, and the Dark Gods' favor makes Chaos warlords some of the most fearsome opponents in the game. This power comes at a price, so a Chaos Space Marine army will likely field fewer models than even loyalist Space Marines. On the whole, Chaos Space Marines tend to be geared more towards offense than their counterparts, and lack some of the special rules that render certain units for them less useful than loyalist Marines.

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The Chaos Space Marines have received rules since the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000, where they shared a pair of sourcebooks with the forces of Chaos from Warhammer. 2nd Edition saw the Chaos Marines receive a codex sourcebook note  and have received rules in every edition since with some versions including supplemental rules for individual Traitor Legions, such as during 7th Edition when they received the Codex Supplement: Traitor Legions sourcebook to collate the various updated Legion rules. The 8th Edition rules for the majority of the Traitor Legionsnote , as well as later Renegade Astartes Chapters, can be found in the Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines book released in August 2017.


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General Chaos Space Marine tropes include:

    # - I 
  • 24-Hour Armor: One of the more common mutations that Heretic Astartes are blessed with is to have their power armour fuse with their flesh so that it can never be removed.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The lightning claws melded to the hands of a Warp Talon are described as being spirit-sharp. These claws are so sharp that they are even capable of slicing through the veil between the Immaterium and the physical universe.
  • Arm Cannon: Obliterators are Chaos Marines with a daemonic virus that fuses their bodies and armor, but also lets them "grow" whatever weapons they want.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Chaos Space Marines who win favor with their patron God have the chance to ascend to become Daemon Princes. All surviving Traitor Primarchs (with the possible exception of Alpharius/Omegon, whichever one Guilliman/Rogal didn't kill) have ascended as Daemon Princes. Fortunately for the Imperium, they seem content to just hang out on their homeworlds, with only 5 known instances of them directly attacking in the Materium since the Horus Heresy — namely Magnus, Perturabo, Mortarion and Angron (twice).
  • Axe-Crazy: Even more powerful than loyalist Astartes, with none of the sanity.
  • Badass Army: A strong contender for the most badass of all Badass Armies in the setting. Chaos Space Marines wield the same armaments as their loyalist counterparts and are far more powerful hand-to-hand combatants individually due to their 'blessings' and experience. This is represented in the tabletop by them having one extra attack over loyalist Marines for all their unitsnote , thus making them much better in a close-range assault. However, they don't have the same discipline and cohesion as loyalist Marines, and thus lack their Combat Tactics and And They Shall Know No Fear rules. Nevertheless, the Chaos Space Marines are just about the only force in the galaxy who can take on the loyalist Astartes 1-on-1 head on and expect to win.
  • Badass Bandolier: Chaos Havoc models have these, in contrast to their loyalist counterparts. Justified, as they don't really have the same sophistication of technology.
  • Badass Biker: They have bikes too, usually adorned with skulls and spikes, and occasionally with bound daemons.
  • Badass Boast: They've made a few. Of note from Lord Zhufor the Impaler;
    The gates that stand between the mortal world and immortal realms of Chaos lie open before us. That we will die having glimpsed eternity is better than never having stirred from the cold furrow of mortal life. We embrace death without regret, as we embrace life without fear.
  • Badass Bookworm: Sorcerers, particularly those of the Thousand Sons as it was one of the most scholarly legions in pre-Heresy days.
  • Badass Cape: And more generally, cloaks made of human skin are all the rage among Chaos Marines.
  • Badass Crew: Your average Chaos warband will be the most Badass group on any planet they set foot on. Granted, that's mostly because they killed everyone else on the planet, but they were still Badass before they arrived.
  • Blade on a Stick: Many Lords Discordant are armed with an impaler chainglaive. These long polearms are fitted with a brutal chainblade that is capable of cleaving through a vehicle's armour to expose its vulnerable workings. The 8th Edition rules represent this with a boost to the wielder's Strength characteristic, especially when the wielder charges into combat.
  • Blood Knight: Some Traitor Marines, particularly those devoted to Khorne, maintain a Space Marine's martial pride and seek to prove themselves in the eyes of their god by besting challenging foes.
  • Body Horror:
    • Many due to mutations, but especially Obliterators. These men have a virus that forces them to meld with all technology they use. This ends with them essentially having their flesh interwoven with their armor and large lumps containing weapons, many of which poke out.
    • Helbrutes seem to have their occupants fused to the machine...organically. The mechanical shell's limbs seem to have turned fleshy as a result.
    • Spawndom is the result of someone who can't take the body horror. The transformations drive them mad until they devolve into mindless beasts. Spawns can rage from daemon-esque monsters to walking piles of eyeballs, or simply a mass of flesh, bone and sinew that has no right to move under its own power.
    • Generic Chaos Mutations can be pretty horrifying as well. The most common is a mutant tentacle but you can also have your face split into two literal halves (joined by what can only be described as a bad photoshop smudge), a massive mutant arm with eyeballs, a maw forming on your torso and other pleasantries. Daemonic Possession also does the same, except such mutations occur pretty much every other second.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Most followers of Nurgle are like this, although in the twisted kind of way only the forces of Chaos can make them.
  • Broken Pedestal: Disillusionment with the Emperor of Mankind, their chapter's cause or the Imperium at large is common among their ranks and a prime cause of defection to their cause among loyalists.
  • Butt-Monkey: A long-time Running Gag involves a character called M'Kar the Reborn. Despite being a Daemon Prince (and therefore approximately 25 feet tall and made partially of magic), he has a long history of getting beaten up by absolutely everybody. This was somewhat undone by the recent Grey Knights codex, in which he is taken slightly more seriously.
  • Cain and Abel: The Primarchs versus the Traitor Primarchs, Loyalist Marines vs Chaos Marines.
  • Cannon Fodder: Chaos Cultists are nothing more than a mass of expendable bodies, but they're dirt cheap and a good "hiding spot" for characters.
  • Catchphrase: A few, which have been used for the past ten thousand years.
    • "Let the galaxy burn! Let the heavens bleed!"
    • "Death to the False Emperor!"
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The Drop Site Massacre when four of the seven legions brought to bring the Sons of Horus to justice turned against the other three.
  • The Chessmaster: Tzeentch's followers have some degree of foresight on their side.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It's not called Chaos for nothing. One short essay/story by a Black Library writer paints life in the Warp as one of constant uncertainty, changing alliances, and betrayal from just about every direction.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Make no mistake, close assault is the Chaos Space Marines' bread and butter. Chaos Space Marines even get an extra attack in close combat compared to their loyalist counterparts (who are more balanced).
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: Wargear touched by Chaos has a (further) negative effect on the user's mind.
  • A Commander Is You: Each of the nine legions.
    • Black Legion: Balanced/Generalist. One of the more well-rounded legions, the Black Legion can and will field just about any Chaos unit (with potential for lots of Terminators) while mix-and-matching Chaos Marks. You also get Abaddon, a close combat monster who costs as much as a Land Raider but practically has an "Instant Death" Radius for regular troops in arms reach and the ability to solo almost any infantry type unit in the game that is not a god, demigod, or the ruler of a vast empire. In Horus Heresy, the Sons of Horus are actually Elitist/Brute instead, with a multitude of close assault troops with superior stats and a high degree of customisation, as well as the ability to reliably bring in reserves.
    • Thousand Sons: Elitist/Technical. Expensive points-wise, but they pack a hefty psychic punch and lots of armour-killing weaponry. Limited to Mark of Tzeentch.
    • Iron Warriors: Balanced/Ranger. Uniquely for Chaos Marines, the Iron Warriors put priority on long-range shooting over close assaults, and gain bonuses against vehicles and fortifications; they're also slightly tougher than normal Chaos Marines with their Feel No Pain. In Horus Heresy, the Iron Warriors are not much different, but they have aspects of Loyal with the ability to ignore casualties with widespread Fearless and Stubborn.
    • Alpha Legion: Spammer/Guerrilla. Sneaky Chaos Marines with tons of infiltration, unconventional tactics and other special rules to frustrate your opponent. Cultists are a cornerstone of the force, but infiltrating Chosen troops all decked out with special weapons will also let you quickly take out troublesome targets early on. In Horus Heresy, the Alpha Legion are a flexible Balanced/Technical force again favouring infantry, with more special rules involving screwing with enemy reserves and using units from other legions.
    • World Eaters: Elitist/Brute. Ruthless, fearless and absolutely brutal in close combat, the legion that needs no introduction. Bring your Berserkers as troops and rip up the board with your Fearless, Adamantium Willed, Furious Charging army. Limited to Mark of Khorne, and no psykers allowed. Not much change in Horus Heresy: "up close and personal" still defines the army, with devastating chainsaw attacks and the ability to take a lot of knocks.
    • Emperor's Children: Elitist/Gimmick. Very fast and surprisingly durable marines with plenty of cover-ignoring weapons and Noise Marines as troops choices. Limited to Mark of Slaanesh. In Horus Heresy, the Emperor's Children are certainly melee Rangers; fast-moving, great initiative and a few alternative deployment options, but ranged combat is rather generic and their highly specialised unique units need a little planning to use.
    • Death Guard: Elitist/Generalist. The Mighty Glacier legion, the Death Guard are slow-moving but next to impossible to kill, and fearless to boot. Limited to Mark of Nurgle. In Horus Heresy the character of the army changes to a slow-moving, hard-hitting shooty army with the most Terminators of any of the legions, plus a rare ready availability to Fear immunity. Elitist/Ranger/Loyal.
    • Night Lords: Spammer/Ranger. Very mobile close combat-oriented legion with a lot of Raptors and Fear coming out of their ears. In Horus Heresy, this hasn't changed much, but they do boast access to deep-striking Terminators, highly-customisable veterans, and significant capitalisation of the Night Fight rules letting them dominate the early parts of the battle.
    • Word Bearers: Spammer/Technical. Trading raw power for versatility, the Word Bearers are potent at daemon summoning and psychic powers, with access to all Chaos Marks and their Warlord traits changing the army's playstyle greatly. Horus Heresy presents more of the same, but their new-found access to invulnerable saves make them a bit tougher, and their ability to turn many HQ choices into Sorcerers makes them second only to the Thousand Sons when it comes to psychic powers.
  • The Corruption: "The filth of their visage is as nothing to the filth in their hearts."
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: After ten thousand years, some members of the Traitor Legions have forgotten why they rebelled in the first place, which doesn't dampen their hate in the slightest.
  • Demonic Possession: Some Traitor Marines volunteer to act as daemonhosts, gaining supernatural powers at a terrible price.
  • Demon of Human Origin: All of the surviving Primarchs of the Traitor Legions; after fleeing into the Eye of Terror (Hell on Earth... in Space) they were "promoted" to Daemon Princes.
  • Determinator:
    • On the one hand, Chaos' champions tend to have Villainous Willpower in spades as they risk everything for their ambitions. But unlike loyalist Space Marines, who have the "And They Shall Know No Fear" rule that lets them initiate a Tactical Withdrawal and automatically regroup, it's possible to rout Chaos Space Marines from the table.
    • Cult Marines, on the other hand, universally have Fearless, which means that it's impossible to budge them from whatever place they're camped on other than utterly wiping out every member of the squad.
    • Chaos Space Marines aspiring to become Daemon Princes require this to master their god's gifts, otherwise they will devolve into a Chaos Spawn due to the insanity brought on by the mutations.
  • Drop Pod: The corrupted Dreadclaws and Kharybdis Assault Claws used by Traitor Legionary forces combine the role of Drop Pod with that of a Boarding Pod, being equally capable of deploying traitor forces to a planet's surface as they are latching onto the hull of an enemy ship and cutting an entry point to deploy their passengers.
  • Enemy Civil War: Fortunately for the rest of the galaxy, the Traitor Legions have their own rivalries and grudges going nearly as far back to the Horus Heresy.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Chaos Marines of all stripes usually add blasphemous symbols and icons to their Powered Armor. Additionally, many instituted Legion- or Chapter-wide changes to their color schemes to symbolize their change in allegiance. The only Traitor Legions to maintain their pre-Heresy color schemes are the Iron Warriors and the Night Lords.
  • Evil Counterpart: In general, Chaos Marines are this to loyalist Astartes, with certain factions applying this to specific Loyalist chapters (see the folders below). Other ways this applies:
    • Raptors and Warp Talons are this to Assault squads, with jump packs mounted on their armor for flight and aerial combat. They also tend to pack a lot of nasty spikes and hooks on their armor to make crashing down on their victims that much messier. Raptors are closer to the standard Assault squads, while Warp Talons, being much more elite and better-armed, are closer to Vanguard Veterans.
    • Havocs are this to Devastator squads, packing the heaviest man-portable firepower available.
    • Warpsmiths are this to Techmarines, forcing technologies to serve them and infusing them with daemonic corruption if need be.
    • Dark Apostles are this to Chaplains and fulfill a similar role in buffing your models with Zealot, but it's much more useful in the Chaos army as they lack the Loyalist special rule and are much more close combat focused.
    • Sorcerors are this to Librarians, but have access to a different set of disciplines and can learn ones from one of the three gods that have their own spells, with an appropriate mark of course. The four Chaos Space Marine-exclusive discplines (Ectomancy, Geomortis, Heretech and Sinistrum) are this to the four loyalist Marine disciplines (Fulmination, Geokinesis, Technomancy and Librarius), being completely identical except with spikes glued on them.
    • Mutilators and Obliterators are this to Space Marine Centurions. Oddly however, Obliterators were there since the third edition Chaos Space Marine codex, while Mutilators and Centurions were added much later.
    • While both Loyalist and Chaos armies have access to Dreadnoughts, since 6th edition the Chaos Dreadnought has changed into the Helbrute, a more biomechanical take on the concept.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Many Heretic Astartes are depicted in the background material and fiction as becoming increasingly loud and overly dramatic as they walk further down the path of damnation.
  • Evil Overlord: Chaos Lords. None more so than Abaddon.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Chaos Sorcerers, naturally enough.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the same manner as their Primarchs. Some went to Chaos eagerly, some were essentially railroaded.
  • Familiar: Many Chaos Marine Sorcerers are accompanied by small daemonic beasts that constantly whisper the secrets of the warp to their master, allowing the Sorcerer to manifest even greater power. How this is represented in the game itself varies depending on the edition with some giving the familiar its own model and statistics, while 8th Edition makes them a Stratagem that gives the Sorcerer greater adaptability.
  • Fallen Hero: Most Chaos Space Marines either defected during the Horus Heresy or joined up afterwards.
  • Fatal Flaw: Their Undying Loyalty to their Primarchs. Even before the Heresy, the unhealthy habits of some like Angron's cerebral implants spread through his legion because none dare question him.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being interred inside a Chaos dreadnought is the worst punishment a Lord can give a subordinate. A sharp contrast to the reverence given to loyalist dreadnoughts.
  • Flaming Sword: The sheer hatred and bitterness of some Chaos Lords is so powerful that it manifests as spectral flames that surround their weapons. The 8th Edition Warlord Trait "Flames of Spite" represents this by giving these fire wreathed weapons a chance of inflicting mortal wounds.
  • Four-Star Badass: More ambitious Chaos Lords, meaning those who lead Black Crusades. Yeah, Abaddon isn't the only one. There have been many others beside the big 13. They tend to be much more successful, if smaller in scale.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • As brutal and hellish as they are, daemon worlds claimed by the Traitor Legions are actually meritocratic. Even the lowliest slave can, if they prove themselves, rise up and become a part of the Legion, even coming to dominate their own warband if they prove worthy. That said, vanishingly few survive long enough to get anywhere near that goal.
    • Many champions of Chaos start out this way; many of them started out as simple folk trying to eke out an existence on some backwater planet, only to fall to Chaos out of necessity, due to either persecution by the Imperium or some other mortal danger. It's not long before they turn into one of the most terrifying warlords in the galaxy. The most notable example of this outside of the traitor legions are the survivors of the Badab War.
  • Game Face: Possessed Chaos Marines are known for having a half-human, half-daemonic appearance as they tear across the battlefield to rend their foes. Some of the literature though states that this is only their "battle form" and that the daemon is kept bottled inside when not in combat, making them look more like a normal (if that word is even applicable) Chaos Space Marine most of the time.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Chaos Cultists the Chaos Marines use as hordes of expendable fodder are represented as these by their models. Presumably they use them for the anonymity.
  • Haunted Technology: Chaos is capable of possessing or warping weapons, armor, even vehicles.
  • Headdesk: In one White Dwarf battle report, a Chaos Warlord banged his armored forehead against the inner wall of a bunker in response to his units' abysmal accuracy.
  • Hearing Voices: Just as with other followers of Chaos, it's fairly common for them to hear daemonic whisperings and murmurings. More than one entire chapter turned to Chaos because of this.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: The Heretic Astartes relic weapon known as the Black Mace has been cursed by each of the Daemon Primarchs so that, when it kills its target, their comrades will also fall. How this is represented in game changes depending on the edition with the 6th Edition rules forcing all enemy models within 3" of a killed model to take a Toughness test or suffer damage, while the 8th Edition rules see the unit of a killed model suffering a mortal wound.
  • Heroic Willpower: Subverted in the worst possible way. The Space Marine legions were engineered to resist The Corruption of Chaos by force of will, but it turns out that when Astartes do fall and go renegade, that same willpower makes them better able to weather the sanity-blasting forces they now find themselves entwined with. Most of those who dabble in Chaos hoping to control it are controlled by it instead, but when Space Marines do it they maintain much more of their sense of self and control while being just as corrupt. This only makes them more dangerous.
  • Horns of Villainy:
    • Sported on the helm of many a Chaos Marine, especially those of the Crimson Slaughter. The model kits even have some helmets with skulls mounted between the horns.
    • Chaos Terminators sometimes like to emphasize the elephant skull-like appearance of their helms by adding tusk-like horns to them.
  • Hungry Weapon: Daemon Shells are bolt shells infused with the energy of the warp by tainted Tech-Priests of the Dark Mechanicum that hunger for the soul of their target, and will turn on their firer if they are unable to get what they want. An 8th Edition Stratagem, Daemon Shells cause mortal wounds to their target if they hit but do the same damage to the firer if they miss.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Most Chaos Marines are fused into their power armor, which recycles the Space Marine's waste into a bland, tasteless nutrient paste. Admittedly, many of them don't need food any more, or feed off bloodshed.

    J - R 
  • Joke Character: Chaos Spawn, in both the fluff and on the tabletop. Chaos Marines tend to keep their devolved former comrades around as, at best, pets, while in the game these units were basically meatshields or distractions. They were slow, stupid, and overall pretty useless. They were later upgraded to a Lethal Joke Character, in which they were upgraded to moderately effective shock troops, but they would still end up as meatshields or distractions since they would usually be shot down before reaching the enemy.
  • Killed Off for Real: Chaos Space Marines can sometimes avert this if they impress their patron God or daemon.
  • Klingon Promotion: Advancement opportunities in Chaos seem to come solely by killing your predecessor or superior, either directly or indirectly. Nobody becomes a Chaos Lord or Daemon Prince without having killed many people also vying for that same ascension.
  • Last-Name Basis: It seems to be the norm for important Chaos Space marines to be known by their surname and sometimes also adopting a sinister-sounding appelation. Ezekyle Abaddon became Abaddon the Despoiler, Lufgt Huron became Huron Blackheart, Torquil Eliphas became Eliphas the Inheritor, et cetera.
  • Mad Scientist: A lot of Warpsmiths are closer to Mad Engineers, but they'd have to qualify. You have to be a little bit loony to conclude that making a robotic dinosaur, fitting a plasma cannon to its head, and infusing a daemon into it is in any way a good idea.
  • Mildly Military: Compared to their Loyalist brethren, who tend to be ritualistic and regimental in how they live, Traitor legionaries are much more cavalier in their structure and time for having shaken off the rules forced upon them. This does leave them with less organizational discipline than the Loyalists, but thanks to their long experience and gifts of the Warp, they tend to be individually slightly more powerful.
  • Morph Weapon: Chaos Marines infected with the Obliterator Virus eventually fuse with their weapons and armor, absorb additional weapons into themselves, and can form and reform them at-will out of their mass of mutated flesh.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: At least some of the Chaos Space Marines betrayed the Imperium not necessarily because they believed it was corrupt or desired revenge for wrongs done against their legion, but because they were just just that loyal to their Primarch's choice. Of course, 10,000 years of service to Chaos tends to erode away at reasoning.
  • Names To Run Away From Very Fast: Well seeing as how two of the most famous Chaos Space Marines are Abaddon the Despoiler and Khârn the Betrayer, yeah. As stated in The Magnificent, if a Chaos Marine is important enough to have his own name, he's likely going to have one of these.
  • Obviously Evil: No, seriously. Except for some followers of Tzeentch. And the Alpha Legion.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter:
    • Ten thousand years later, the Traitor Legions have yet to run out of boltgun rounds. Justified with Chaos-aligned forge worlds producing equipment, Imperial supplies falling into Chaos' hands from defections and raiding actions, and the fact that the Warp sneers at concepts such as "causality" and "logic" which means it's likely that weapons and ammo can just be summoned whenever the forces of Chaos want them.
    • Obliterators, owing to the fact that they're part daemon, probably has one of these inside them to help manufacture the shells needed for their guns. Or their guns in general. In earlier versions, where it was a virus, one of the first signs of infection was that you could - if you had a very high pain tolerance - produce magazines of ammunition from your skin.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Fluff-wise, Chaos Space Marines are just as powerful as their loyalist counterparts, and are also as powerful as they are on the tabletop, while having better offensive power. Daemon Princes, as you may imagine, are much worse.
    • A few Chaos Space Marine characters can go toe-to-toe with entire armies and come out without a scratch. Abaddon is widely considered one of the best close combat characters in the game alongside Lysander and The Swarm Lord, while Khârn can statistically kill a Knight Titan in a single round of combat (most people dedicate entire armies to fighting off a Knight). And then there's Be'Lakor and his knowledge of all Telepathy.
  • One-Winged Angel: Chaos Lords have two possible fates. The strong-willed and successful leaders collect enough daemonic gifts from their patrons to eventually ascend as Daemon Princes themselves. The others' physical forms collapse from the mutations being bestowed upon them and revert to mindless, mewling Chaos Spawn.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Daemon Primarchs, to varying degrees. While some are still very much in the thick of things, Lorgar, Magnus the Red, and Fulgrim have spent most of their post-Heresy time respectively in mediation, sulking, and faffing around. Many in their legions, particularly their favored sons, have called them out for their indolence and struck off on their own. That said, Guilliman's revival has provoked several of them into getting off their duffs.
  • Painful Transformation: Possessed Marines go through weeks of ceremonial preparation to host daemons within their own bodies. During their possession, the daemon will reshape their form to be more to its liking and they are aware of every bone-cracking, tendon stretching, re-knitting moment of it. Many later describe it as a joyous experience. The Obliterators' ability to sprout guns on a whim is also noted in some material to be exceptionally painful.
  • Paint the Town Red: A common result of Chaos attacks, and considered to be the only acceptable result by the worshipers of Khorne.
  • Powered Armor: Festooned with spikes and trophies, and sometimes daemonically-possessed to boot.
  • Praetorian Guard: Chaos Warlords often have squads of powerful Chosen act as their bodyguards both on and off the battlefield.
  • Proud Warrior Race: They have all the warrior pride of their loyalist counterparts, and worshippers of Khorne in general take it to massive extremes that even both Traitor and Loyalists are in awe of.
  • The Purge: The start of the Horus Heresy was the battle for Istvaan III, when the Sons of Horus, Death Guard, World Eaters, and Emperor's Children made sure that the loyalist elements of their forces were on-planet before the virus bombing began.
  • Rage Helm: Which is often made scarier by giving it horns and/or tusks.
  • Rain of Blood: The skies above a Maelstrom of Gore formation of Khorne Berzerkers are filled with crimson thunderheads that crackle with the power of the Blood God. As the Berzerker's fury reaches its height these clouds burst, unleashing a downpour of blood that drives Khorne's followers to even greater heights of madness and slaughter.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Traitor Legions and many of their splintered warbands frequently conduct raids on Imperial worlds in the material realm, with different focuses on the raping, pillaging, and burning depending on the group in question.
  • Religion Is Magic: The 8th Edition Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Ablaze campaign book introduced Prayers to the Dark Gods, divine abilities that a Dark Apostle can use by calling on the Chaos Gods for aid, represent be various status buffs for the Apostle and his allies.
  • The Remnant: Most Chaos Marine legions have either lost their cohesion or their home planets, instead wandering around as warbands or at best temporary allied legions.

    S - Z 
  • Sense Loss Sadness: While the Slaaneshis may be the most famous, this is ultimately why Chaos Space Marines hate to become Chaos Dreadnoughts, or Helbrutes. Deprived of the sensations of battle, Helbrutes succumb to built-up psychosis (more than the average follower of Chaos will display) and attack both friend and foe in a blind rage. To keep them from destroying their Warband, most Helbrutes are restrained in chains (which have been blessed by the Chaos Gods to prevent them from being broken.) In battle, they are difficult to control, and will often charge the enemy regardless of orders, so eager are they to either vent their fury or be given the release they long for. For a Chaos Dreadnought to retain a sense of sanity is a major act of willpower on their part.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Chaos Obliterators combine this with Arm Cannon in an interesting way.
  • Space Pirates: Some of the Traitor Legions turn to piracy as a way to acquire vital supplies and/or cause mayhem.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The power armor and vehicles of several legions are covered in these to one degree or another.
  • Stealth Expert: During the 2nd Edition of the game, Chaos Space Marine Veteransnote  were renowned for their ability to use cover and launch ambushes against their enemies, using these skills to take up forward positions on the battlefield. In-game this was represented by Chaos Space Marine Veterans having the Infiltration and Dispersed Formation special rules, the signature rules for scout-type units in the edition.
  • Super Senses: Masters of Executions use arcane rituals to enhance their senses with the powers of the warp. These warp-attuned senses allow a Master of Executions to track their target with pinpoint accuracy across even the most chaotic of battlefields, with some even able to hunt across time and space. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Warp-sighted Butcher ability that allows the Master of Executions to quickly close with his opponent by performing a Heroic Intervention move at double the normal distance at the end of a round of combat.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Some favoured Lords of Chaos are surrounded by an aura of despair that cause their enemies to believe they are fighting a creature from their darkest nightmares, striking terror into their hearts. This is represented in the 8th Edition of the game by the Warlord Trait 'Lord of Terror' that makes it more likely for the character's enemies to fail Morale checks and flee from combat.
  • Tank Goodness: Nearly every tank available to the Space Marines is similarly available to their traitorous brethren. In many cases, their already formidable potency has been enhanced by daemonic possession.
  • Time Abyss: Many of the Chaos Space Marines encountered today were present at the Siege of the Emperor's Palace ten thousand years ago. Thanks to the Warp's bizarre effects on time, it often seems like much less to them.
  • Time Master: Some Sorcerers have been granted the ability to manipulate time in their immediate vicinity. In-game this is represented by the "Warptime" Psychic Power that, in the 8th Edition version of the rules, allows the Sorcerer or a nearby unit to move twice in a turn as the time surrounding them is altered.
  • Tin Tyrant: It is hard to find a Chaos Lord who does not fit this trope, considering that Chaos Space Marines eventually grow fused into their armor, and that armor twists and grows more wicked as they rise in esteem of the Ruinous Powers. The ones with particularly long and "blessed" careers fit right up there. When they ascend to the position of Daemon Prince, it's no longer possible to tell where the armor ends and where the Marine/daemon begins.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Space Marines are supposed to be the Emperor's most fanatically loyal warriors, yet they are still human and whether by Chaos' designs or their own flaws they can still turn against the Imperium.
  • The Unfettered: For all their superhuman power, Space Marines live in strict self-denial. When one goes renegade and gives in to his selfish, baser urges, the results can be terrifying.
  • Ur-Example: In-universe, the Word Bearers were the first Astartes to fall to Chaos, while the World Eaters, Death Guard, Thousand Sons, and Emperor's Children were the first Legions to dedicate themselves to a specific Chaos God. Thus, tropes associated with Khorne Berzerkers, Plague Marines, Rubric Marines and Noise Marines can be found under those respective entries.
  • Walking Techbane: The Lords Discordant of the Heretic Astartes are surrounded by an aura of chaotic power that can cause circuits to fry and machine-spirits to be tormented by scrap-code. Only machines possessed by warp entities have any protection from the Lord Discordant's malevolent presence; instead, they are invigorated by his aura. This is represented in the 8th Edition rules by the Aura of Discord ability that penalises enemy vehicles close to a Lord Discordant, while boosting the abilities of friendly daemon engines.
  • Willing Channeler: Possessed Marines, who allow daemons to inhabit their bodies so they might be more dangerous in combat. In contrast to some of the other methods of Demonic Possession in the franchisenote  this is done out of mutual consent. The Chaos Marine gains frightful power by sharing their body with a daemon, and the daemon gets a mortal host to anchor it to the material plane, and both parties are the greater for it.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: "Sanity is for the weak!" Note that one of daemonkind's favorite tortures is to reverse the insanity of Chaos just long enough for the now-horrified follower to understand the true nature of what they've done.
  • Wolverine Claws: They have access to lightning claws, much like the loyalists. The Warp Talons have a particularly impressive line in it, with every single one of them having a lightning claw fused to each hand.
  • The Worf Effect: Not as often as the loyalists, but it's a given that an Imperial army's codex will depict them as beating Chaos Space Marines. The Ultramarines movie takes this to an extreme, with a 5-man Loyalist squad gunning down almost a hundred Chaos Marines.

The nine Traitor Legions:

    Emperor's Children 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/emperorschildren_618.png
"Children of the Emperor! Death to his foes!"

Perfect ecstasy, boundless cacophony, excessive agony. I must have more!

As the Third Legion, the Emperor's Children were once considered the embodiment of what it meant to be Astartes, an elite warrior brotherhood that strove ever towards perfection under their Primarch Fulgrim. This vanity and obsession led them to be corrupted by Slaanesh, perverting the Emperor's Children into egotistical hedonists who committed unspeakable atrocities upon the population of Holy Terra during the Siege for the Emperor's Palace. Many of the former legion have become Noise Marines, engaging in ever more extreme acts of violence in order to titillate their jaded senses. Their pre-Heresy homeworld was Chemos; they are currently based in the Eye of Terror.


  • Battlecry: "Children of the Emperor! Death to his foes!"
  • Bling of War: While as a whole Traitor Marines have less bling (but more spikes) than Loyalist Marines, the Emperor's Children have much, much more. Their emphasis on beauty and excess drives many of them to gild their armor in all manner of garish and eye-popping ways, set off with a number of bright and confusing colors. The clashing and decorative overkill is the entire point for them.
  • Critical Status Buff: Many favoured members of the Emperor's Children thrive on the pain they suffer, their wounds driving them to great heights of pleasure and encouraging them to fight even harder to prolong the experience. The Emperor's Children's 8th Edition Legion Warlord Trait represents this by boosting their Attacks characteristic whenever they are wounded.
  • Cultured Badass: How the Emperor's Children view themselves. At this point though, their activities place more emphasis on the Bad than the "Cultured".
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Blood Angels. Both are handsome, cultured and artistic forces who are damned by some flaw; the difference is that Sanguinius's children fight against theirs, while the Emperor's Children stopped fighting a long time ago.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Unfortunately, when said understanding is of These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, this can have sanity-affecting consequences. Not that they care.
  • Human Resources: They have developed a way to liquefy living humans to render them into drugs. They actually take more captives than is typical for Chaos raids precisely for this purpose.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Their fixation on beauty and elegance has been so warped that they modify (or in many cases mutate) their armor to fit some twisted aesthetic that only appeals to them (because no proper devotee of Slaanesh cares what anyone else thinks).
  • Ironic Name: Invoked. While the Emperor's Children were originally named that because of their dedication to the Emperor, post-Heresy they decided to keep the name to mock their loyalist brethren.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Some Noise Marines use the Doom Siren, a shoulder-mounted weapon connected to their helms that magnifies their screams and war cries into destructive sonic blasts.
  • Musical Assassin:
    • The original models for Noise Marines' Sonic Blasters and Blastmasters very much resembled electric guitars, but the contemporary design is less silly.
    • The kakophoni weapons (precursor to the Blastmasters) resemble weaponized brass instruments (specifically a combination of an Amp and a Tuba).
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Emperor's Children are known for spending more time ravaging the civilian populations of worlds than they do fighting to take them in the first place. They do this partly because they enjoy it, partly to take as many captives as possible for their perverted rituals and to render their vital fluids into drugs.
  • Sex Is Violence: While the Emperor's Children would take offense at the idea that they are as bloodthirsty as Khorne's followers, they do take an almost sexual joy in engaging in combat. To them, war is like a beautiful symphony, a heart-rending ballad, and a stirring validation of themselves, and see it as one of the highest pleasures that they can experience.
  • Wicked Cultured: Pre-Heresy, the Emperor's Children were taught that things like art, literature, poetry, and music represented the height of humanity's excellence, and to safeguard them was to safeguard what was best in humanity. Post-Heresy, their ideas of what constitutes beauty, truth, and brilliance have become so warped that no one else would recognize what they appreciate as "culture".
  • Your Soul Is Mine: The 7th Edition Chaos Artefact known as the Soulsnare Lash is an unsettling artefact of the Emperor's Children, a fleshy whip that burns the soul from its victim's body before sending it to the realm of Slaanesh where it will suffer an eternity of torment and pleasure.

Fabius Bile, the Primogenitor

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/fabiusbile_8280.png

The Dark Gods and their slaves have nothing to offer me now, but I have far more to offer them.

The former Chief Apothecary of the Emperor's Children, Fabius helped alter the brain chemistry of his brothers but did not follow them into the worship of Slaanesh, as he was more interested in the Space Marine creation process. His obsession with the secrets of genetic engineering has led him to commit countless crimes against nature, such as his "New Men," raving psychopaths who are even stronger than normal Astartes. Fabius has not pledged himself to any Traitor Legion in particular, as he claims the Chaos Gods have nothing to offer him. Thus, he brokers alliances with each in turn, creating new warriors for his patrons in exchange for their protection and resources for his twisted experiments.


  • Agony Beam: Bile's skull topped cane, known as the Rod of Torment, is a horrific device capable of amplifying the pain it causes to its victim so that even those that suffer even the slightest cut will be incapacitated with agony. How this is represented varies depending on the edition with some forcing a model to be removed from the battlefield after suffering a single wound while the 8th Edition rules has the Rod doing a random number of wounds against non-vehicles.
  • Badass Longcoat: We are contractually obligated to remind you that his lab coat is made of human skin.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Fabius Bile novel series delve into the Promogenitor's mind and he's... not easy to fathom. He's shockingly cruel and cunning, even to the point of disgusting other Heretic Astartes and becoming a pariah from his own Legion. At the same time, he states repeatedly and with no hint of deception that his ultimate goal is to help mankind. Not the Imperium, not his Legion, not the Chaos Gods, but ensuring that humanity as a species is ready for the horrors of the galaxy. If doing that means his Gland-Hounds have to replace every other human in the galaxy, so be it.
  • Body Horror: Fabius Bile has this as his hat. Being a Dr. Frankenstein expy, his special rules allow him to "modify" any unit of Chaos Marines into monsters. Every single edition of the book reminds you that this is usually temporary, if only because the Marines die violently from chemical imbalances afterward.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: It's implied that this is the only reason why Abaddon didn't have him killed for cloning Horus; the Black Legion are seemingly not too proud to make use of his knowledge.
  • Colonel Badass: Held the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the Emperor's Children Legion.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In his second novel Clonelord, Fabius exhibits this at a gathering of senior Emperor's Children, pointing out that the Traitor Legions are more than happy to take advantage of his knowledge and skills when it suits them, then scapegoat him when things go wrong.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: His Gland Hounds, genetically modified warriors made with a less potent but more reliable version of Space Marine implants, can be made from either men or women. In his own books he mentions to one offhandedly that he has no idea what the Emperor was thinking when he made the originals to be only compatible with male physiology. This is purely Pragmatic Villainy; once he has enough of them made it allows them to reproduce in the traditional manner without him having to modify them one by one (and what surgeries they still require he teaches them).
  • Evilutionary Biologist: He's a diehard adherent to the idea of entropy being the true enemy of existence, and so his constant experimenting and modifications to himself, his Legion, and humanity at large are the best means to ensure they all advance into an uncertain future. He genuinely believes that his work is in Mankind's best interests, to the point that he accepts the fact he won't be there to see it come to fruition.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: During the early years of his damnation (depicted in his own novels), Fabius clung to a twisted version of the Imperial Truth, refusing to believe that daemons or the Chaos Gods were self-aware creatures. Some background material indicates that, by the 41st millennium however he has come to accept their existence, even if he still sees no need for their patronage. A few of his more devout followers have expressed amusement at this, since in actual practice he's one of the most useful servants for all four and technically a minor god in his own right thanks to all those creations of his that worship him.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes; For all that the Traitor Legions are willing to make use of Bile's skills and knowledge to improve or bolster their forces, he's universally hated by all of them and most of them want him dead for one betrayal or another, or just because he has no loyalty to anyone in the Eye but himself. The Black Legion want him dead for multiple grievances, the cloning of Horus being just the most egregious, and Abaddon has personally ordered any and all of Bile's creations (the New Men, the Gland Hounds, etc) are to be killed on sight, seeing them as a threat to his plans. The leadership of the Word Bearers, Alpha Legion and World Eaters have all sent assassins after Bile at one time or another, and even members of the Emperor's Children, his own former Legion want him either killed off for good, or at least at their personal beck and call. Even Fulgrim is said to have put a price on Fabius's head.
  • Karma Houdini: For all the things he's done (which even other Chaos Space Marines find disgusting), Fabius has yet to face any comeuppance for his actions. There is no record of him having faced any consequences for the whole "cloning Horus" thing at Abaddon's hands; about the closest Fabius has come to getting his is a note in an old Chaos Codex which states he narrowly managed to escape justice at the hands of the Salamanders in the Arden system.
  • Mad Scientist: Fabius has earned appellations such as the "Clone-Master" for his work providing the Traitor Legions with new recruits. When he's not making loyalist Space Marines' entry criteria look tame, he enjoys creating his breed of "new men" through gene-therapy, most of which turn out into homicidal maniacs he gleefully looses onto the Imperium.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Chirurgeon, a sinister part-daemonic apparatus attached to Fabius' armour, incorporates four segmented limbs tipped with various syringes and surgical instruments. Fabius uses this device in his experiments but it is equally useful in dissecting his enemies during battle.
  • Names to Run Away From: Bile
  • No Place for Me There: One of the biggest indicators that Bile is not a two-dimensional cackling villain, but a complex character with perverted-but-noble intentions, is this exchange from Clonelord between himself and his favored Gland-Hound, after he outlines his dream for a stronger, smarter Mankind, created from his "New Men":
    'And where will you be?' she asked softly.
    Fabius stepped back. 'I imagine I will be first among the foundations, my dear.' He smiled thinly. 'There will be no place for me in the paradise to come.'
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Bile also likes to tinker on himself to the extent that in early Chaos codices his stats were determined by dice rolls.
  • The Spartan Way: He boasts that while loyalist Astartes recruitment methods leave one in a hundred aspirants to fully become a Space Marine, his methods select one from a thousand, and he's looking to make the odds even longer. This is largely due to necessity; his stocks of geneseed are sharply limited and of lower quality than what Imperials have to work with, and the incidence of prohibitive mutations among Chaos recruitment worlds is much higher.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: Fabius switched from brain transplants to uploading his memory into later clones not long after the Heresy. As far as he's concerned he's not the original and he doesn't think it matters, but warp beings disagree and he experiences continuity of consciousness while he's "dead".
  • Villain Has a Point: For all of his depravity, one statement that he makes about the God-Emperor and how he would react to the decay of the Imperium is disturbingly accurate.
    Bile: Unlike you, whelp, I once walked the same ground as your idol. I breathed the same air as him. And I tell you this, without lie or artifice. He never wanted to become what you have made him. He did not wish to be your God-thing. He abhorred such ideals! The slavery of your crippled, blind Imperium would sicken him, if he had eyes to see it.
  • Visionary Villain: For all that Bile is a hideously immoral, obsessed and unstable monster who has laid waste to entire sectors of the Imperium with his unimaginable experiments and demented mutants, the Fabius Bile novel series depicts him as having noble intentions...albeit in the most twisted way possible. Best summarized here:
    The day will come, my dear, when your children's children stride the galactic rim as the kings and queens of all they survey. But first, you — we — must teach them how to survive, until that moment. In your generation, there were five hundred. Of them all, I kept only you and your closest siblings. The rest are scattered across the galaxy, burrowed into the flesh of a dying empire, so that they might best guide it to its well-deserved and long overdue grave. They, and their children, carry on my teachings into the dark. Generation upon generation, their strength breeding true. As mankind dies, so it nurtures its own replacement, all unknowing. But you are different. You and your kin are to be my hand on the throat of the future. For my brothers will not surrender to fate with dignity. Those who remain, after that final hour, will fight one another for the right to rule the ashes. And in that moment, you and yours shall assert yourselves, for the first time and the last. You will hunt angels, in the days to come, and make a new kingdom from their bones.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: Fabius was at one time taken prisoner by the Dark Eldar and taken back to Commorragh as a captive; however in his time there, he so impressed the Dark Eldar with his knowledge of flesh manipulation and torture that the Coven of the Thirteen Scars tutored him in further such skills. That's right, Fabius impressed the Dark Eldar, a race of jaded, cruel cynics who thrive on torture! It is noted in the background that this is the first and only time the Dark Eldar have ever honoured a member of the "lesser races" in such a manner.
    • Ultimately subverted, as the Drukhari were less than pleased to discover Fabius was tutoring others in the skills they'd taught him, and promptly tracked down Fabius and surgically removed the information from his head.

Lucius the Eternal, Blade of Aeons

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/luciustheeternal_8222.png

Brothers! Welcome to the feast! Tell me, which among you will be the first course?

The greatest duelist of his legion, Captain Lucius remained undefeated for years until meeting his end in a gladiatorial bout. However, thanks to Slaanesh's favor, Lucius' killer gradually warped and twisted until Lucius' own features returned, with his killer trapped as a screaming visage decorating his armor. Since that day Lucius has become immortal, for anyone who slays him and feels even a glimmer of pride in the act is doomed to become him.


  • Arch-Enemy: To Saul Tarvitz.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Lucius hates it when someone is thought to be better than him in swordplay.
  • Broken Ace: Lucius could master any talent but alongside this is a serious inferiority complex. He was also a Pretty Boy who resented his good looks and wanted to be recognized for his skills.
  • The Champion: Slaanesh's greatest mortal champion.
  • Combat Aestheticist: Lucius is only interested in Worthy Opponents. His Duelist's Pride rule means that he fights exactly as well as his foes, growing bored when mowing through hapless Cannon Fodder but rising to the challenge of a unit champion or commander.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: At some point even before falling to Slaanesh, Lucius began to equate pain with success.
  • Covered in Scars: Not all of them were inflicted by the enemy.
  • Fantastic Drug: Fabius Bile gifted Lucius with a stimm-rack of Dark Eldar combat drugs mounted on his armor, the implants feeding the drugs into him.
  • Master Swordsman: Lucius is one of the most gifted swordsmen in the galaxy.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Often noted that his ability and behavior made him get rid of numerous Chaos and xenos warlords vastly more capable than himself, both in terms of strategic skill and combat ability.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: During the Horus Heresy, he was extremely childish, selfish and petulant, as well as lacking in anything resembling empathy or humility. His motivation for betraying the Loyalists at the last stand on Isstvan III was that the other Marines respected Saul Tarvitz more than they did him.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Lucius earned his moniker of "the Eternal" due to a unique blessing from his patron. Should Lucius' killer take even a moment's joy or satisfaction in their victory then they will slow transform into Lucius, ultimately resulting in the profane swordsman's soul taking control of his killer's transmogrified body. The 2017 short story Lucius: Pride and Fall indicates that Lucius' gift even works without a person directly killing him with the Chaos Lord resurrecting from the factory worker that built the landmine that killed him`.
  • Whip It Good: Wields the Lash of Torment, a sentient weapon that entangles opponents, along with his blade.

    Iron Warriors 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/newironwarrrior.png
"Iron within, iron without!"

From iron cometh strength! From strength cometh will! From will cometh faith! From faith cometh honour! From honour cometh iron! This is the Unbreakable Litany, and may it forever be so!

During the Great Crusade, the Astartes of the Fourth Legion, the Iron Warriors, gained a well-deserved reputation as the Emperor's greatest siege experts, capable of tearing down the fortifications of any alien despot or human civilisation too stubborn to accept the Imperial Truth. This speciality led to the Iron Warriors becoming scattered across the galaxy, with small squads expected to serve as garrisons for entire worlds while the Imperial Fists, who were similarly adept at siege warfare, were lauded and granted great honours. After brutally putting down a rebellion on their home world, the Iron Warriors willingly sided with Horus when he launched his rebellion, taking great satisfaction in destroying the defences of their loyalist counterparts. After defeat at the Siege of Terra, the Iron Warriors almost destroyed the Imperial Fists at the Iron Cage before retreating with the rest of the traitors to the Eye of Terror.

The original home world of the Iron Warriors was the mountainous world of Olympia, but they are now based on the daemon world of Medrengard, a world turned into a single, impregnable fortress of impossible architecture.

Since the opening of the Great Rift the Iron Warriors, following the intimately planned strategies of the Daemon Primarch Perturabo, have begun a blockade of the galaxy as a whole, launching attacks on some of the most heavily defended Imperial systems to prove that no world is safe from their vengeance.

See also Iron Warriors.


  • Arch-Enemy: The Iron Warriors share a mutual hatred with the Imperial Fists that dates back to before the Heresy. Despite having similar specialities, Iron Warriors felt that the Imperial Fists got all the glory while they were left to suffer demeaning garrisoning duties and it was this treatment that drove the Legion to turn traitor. During the Heresy, and in the millennia since, the Iron Warriors have attempted to attack and humiliate the Imperial Fists and their successors at every opportunity.
  • Battlecry: A monotone chant of "Iron Within, Iron Without."
  • Body Horror: Like any legion operating out of the Eye of Terror, the Iron Warriors are prone to mutations. Unlike other Chaos Space Marines, who often bear their "gifts" proudly, their pragmatic response is to lop off the affected body parts and replace them with augmetics.
  • City Planet: After the destruction of Olympia, the Iron Warriors seized the planet Medrengard in the Eye of Terror, converting its surface into a gigantic fortress.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The first rule of siege warfare is "whatever works, works" and the Iron Warriors have taken this to heart. Infiltration, cannon fodder, secret passages, tunnels, taking advantage of traitors, and bringing in the big guns whenever they can are just a few of the myriad unpleasant ways the Iron Warriors will crack open a fortress and kill everyone inside.
  • Cyborg: Much like the Iron Hands, the Iron Warriors are very fond of souping themselves up with augmetics, the difference being that theirs are usually daemon-possessed. They also like to use Obliterators more than most Chaos factions.
  • The Engineer: On a faction level. The Iron Warriors make much more use of machinery and construction than other Legions.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Iron Warriors are experts in siege warfare like the Imperial Fists, and also have a similar technological bent to the Iron Hands.
  • Fantastic Racism: Due to living in...well, Hell ever since the Iron Cage incident, their gene-seed has deteriorated to the point that they need the gene-seeds of the Loyalist Space Marines (such as their rivals', the Imperial Fists) in order to create new Iron Warriors. The resulting "half-breeds" are subject to mockery, scorn, and ineligibility for promotions from their pureblooded cousins.
  • Gradual Grinder: As a doctrinal matter, Iron Warriors are more likely to dig in and construct fortifications that the enemy might waste themselves against while reducing their power through sustained barrages of artillery.
  • Haunted Technology: They have a particular aptitude with forcing daemons into constructed devices, with large numbers of daemon weapons and daemon engines coming from their forges. They obviously employ plenty of these in battle themselves, but many other Traitor Legions will trade favors and services to them to get their hands on Iron-forged daemonic constructs. Some sources even indicate that instead of the merger of daemonic and organic flesh that forms the usual Possessed units, the Iron Warriors use bionics as an intermediary between the daemons and the wielders.
  • Healing Factor: The fleshmetal exoskeleton is a prized artefact of the Iron Warriors that bonds with the wearer, turning their anatomy into a profane hybrid of metal and flesh. Should any attack manage to wound its wearer, the warp-tainted exoskeleton will quickly repair itself, rebuilding itself and its wearer's body to be as strong as before. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by the wearer of the fleshmetal exoskeleton healing a lost wound at the start of each of their turns.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Iron Warriors' mindset views everything as a resource to be expended in the pursuit of victory. The human element is basically nonexistent.
  • Mad Scientist: The Warpsmiths fit into this trope almost by default, and are responsible for some of the most effective (and horrific) of the equipment and daemonic engines available to Chaos.
  • Metallic Motifs: The Iron Warriors combine the qualities of their namesake element with the typical qualities of steel. The armour of the legion is predominantly a gun-metal colour, and in outlook its members are coldly pragmatic, employing overwhelming strength and durability in battle rather than speed and skill. Like their Primarch, many members of the legion also exhibit a great amount of technical skill, making great use of infernal technology in their fight against the Imperium.
  • Mighty Glacier: Older versions of the list allowed them to sacrifice two Fast Attack slots for one Heavy Support, meaning they forfeited swift units (such as bikers or Raptors) in favour of slower, but more destructive, units such as Predators or Vindicators.
  • No Respect Guy: A major part of their fall was that everyone began treating them as semi-expendable workhorses who didn't need to be treated well or shown basic respect, with their dependability and refusal to ever admit defeat leading to them being taken for granted by basically the entire early Imperium.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Iron Warriors were the least respected legion. The Eternal Fortress/Iron Cage smartly cured everyone of that.
  • Not So Stoic: They do have a tendency towards rage. In older editions, the only aligned specialist units they could field were Khorne Berserkers, since they'd learned to view the orgy of bloodletting at the end of a siege as cathartic.
  • The Siege: Their preferred way of dealing with any given opponent.
  • The Stoic: Iron Warriors are known for having a rather dour disposition, finding excessive displays of emotion to often be a sign of weakness. They're one of the few Traitor Legions that consider maniacal laughter beneath them.
  • Stone Wall: Tactically speaking, as fortification specialists.
  • Straw Nihilist: What years and years of bitter siege warfare and being treated as the Imperium's battered workhorse turned them into. To the Iron Warriors, there's no glory in war at all and victory is the only thing that matters, no matter how dirty it has to be won or how many have to die to get it.
  • Tank Goodness: The Iron Warriors' typical battle plan starts with softening up their target(s) through massive artillery barrages, and thus they are very fond of tanks, moreso than many other Chaos armies.
  • Trap Master: They have an aptitude for it, with the "Iron Cage" incident in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy being the biggest and best known instance. Generally it involves luring the enemy to them with careful baiting, only to get them caught in a well-setup crossfire or in range of remote detonated explosives.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: The Warpsmiths of the Iron Warriors are some of the most feared and respected engineers affiliated with Chaos, creating artifacts that are flatly impossible without their literal Reality Warper forging abilities.
  • We Have Reserves: To the point where during the Great Crusade the Imperium had to officially suppress the nickname "Corpse Grinders" and Horus gave a specific order that the Iron Warriors could only be trusted with units deemed to be very expendable. Falling to Chaos made them worse — herding captives and slaves into sacrificial trucks and using them to test the range of the enemy's artillery is common practice.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: The Iron Warriors dealt their homeworld of Olympia two cataclysmic blows. The first was the massacre of the rebellious population that led the Legion to turn traitor. The second was the detonation of their own stockpiles of nuclear weapons at the end of a 10-year battle with Imperial Fists, leaving the planet an irradiated wasteland.

    Night Lords 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/newnightlord.png
"We have come for you!"

Kill a thousand men and they will hate you. Kill a million men and they will queue to face you. But kill a single man and they will see monsters and devils in every shadow. Kill a dozen men and they will scream and wail in the night, and they shall feel not hatred, but fear.
Konrad Curze, Primarch of the Night Lords

During the Great Crusade, the Eighth Legion gained a reputation for brutal and sadistic violence, using excessive force and terror to force worlds into compliance. The Night Lords' callous disregard for human life and the brutal atrocities they committed were so extreme that the Emperor was on the verge of recalling the Legion to answer for their crimes, only for the Horus Heresy to break out before he could do so. Willingly joining with the rebellious Warmaster, the Night Lords were free to indulge their sadistic impulses, performing increasingly horrific acts with little to no strategic goals beyond spreading terror.

Originally based on the night-shrouded and crime-ridden world of Nostramo, the Night Lords operated out of a base on the Eastern Fringe during the Horus Heresy. After the assassination of their Primarch Konrad Curze, they splintered into a number of murderous warbands that spread terror across the galaxy.

Since the launching of the 13th Black Crusade and the opening of the Great Rift, the Night Lords have become increasingly active, launching raids and spreading terror amongst the populations of worlds within the Imperium Nihilus.

See also Night Lords.


  • Army of Thieves and Whores: After Curze left Nostramo with the Emperor, its civilization sank back into lawlessness, and the dregs of its population served as the recruitment pool for the Night Lords, which made their terror tactics and sadism all too easy to accomplish.
  • Battlecry: "We have come for you!" or "Ave Dominus Nox!"
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Night Lords have solid black eyes, enhancing their overall creepiness.
  • Brown Note: Fond of overriding communication networks with audio recordings of torture sessions, ominous whispers, or unnerving static as a way of eroding their victims' morale.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Night Lords abhor a fair fight, and will only choose open battle as a last resort. Deconstructed because they lack the conviction and valour of the more fanatical legions, giving them tendencies of Dirty Coward.
  • Dark Is Evil: Pretty much invoked.
  • Death from Above: The Night Lords are very fond of using Raptors, descending on their victims like horrific birds or dragons.
  • The Dreaded: Very much so. Whole worlds have surrendered in a futile attempt to avoid the Night Lords' predations, and in one case 14% of a planet's population died from total nervous failure as a result of the Chaos Marines' weeks-long campaign of psychological warfare.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: The Night Lords' symbol is a winged daemonic skull, and a common decoration on their armor (especially their helms) is sinister bat-like wings.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Night Lords can be just as stealthy and precise as the Raven Guard, but are much less professional about it.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Night Lords are masters of quick raids with Raptors and jump troops, but do poorly in stand-up fights or battles of attrition, especially with fellow Space Marines or those who the Night Lord's terror tactics have no effect upon.
  • Innate Night Vision: Night Lords can not only see with perfect clarity in pitch darkness, they can see into the infrared, which they call "preysight".
  • Irony: For all their dreaded reputation, the Night Lords' tactical emphasis on terror and guerrilla tactics and usage of overwhelming force makes them basically bullies who prefer weak or defenseless foes, and tend not to fare well in an even fight or if their terror campaigns are ineffective. This can make fighting loyalist Space Marines, who famously "know no fear", problematic for them.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout:
    • Night Lords can emit deafening shrieks to disorient their foes and make them easy prey.
    • Several sources have mentions of Night Lords managing to kill people by screaming. This is through cranking their helm's Vox-units Up to Eleven, inhaling and filling their three lungs and letting loose. Though, this has had the unfortunate side-effect of sometimes temporarily deafening the Night Lord in question.
  • Nay-Theist: The Night Lords are Chaos Marines and know full well about the Chaos gods and daemons, but they are contemptuous of anything relating to religion or faith, and their association with Chaos is only as a means for slaughter and carnage.
  • Psycho Electro: For some reason, Night Lords' armor is covered in lighting-like electrical discharges, even during pre-Heresy times. While not actually weaponized, they use this imagery to enhance their fearsome appearance.
  • Seers: Some Night Lords share their Primarch's cursed gift of precognition. These individuals use their foresight to rise to lead Warbands of their fellow Night Lords and the 8th Edition rules represent this with the Warlord Trait "Night Hunter's Curse" that gives the model a once per turn re-roll.
  • Stealth Expert: All the better to maximize the shock when they reveal themselves.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Among the legions. The Night Lords' renegade behavior earned them summary destruction even before the Heresy.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: One of the Night Lords' first actions when they went renegade was to destroy Nostramo through an orbital bombardment.

    World Eaters 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/newworldeater.png
"Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!"

Monuments are dust, tales merely words, soon forgotten, but blood - blood is forever.
Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters

The Twelfth Legion was already an army of notorious berserkers before their fall to Chaos, as they had voluntarily mutilated their minds in imitation of the implants within their Primarch Angron, so all the Horus Heresy changed was in whose name they slaughtered. With Khorne's favor they ran headlong into the worst conflicts of the rebellion, leading the attack on the Imperial Palace and then rampaging their way to the Eye of Terror once the Siege of Terra failed. Though the World Eaters flocked to their Primarch's banner in the thousands during the First War for Armageddon, the Legion itself has been shattered into countless warbands following the Battle of Skalathrax.


  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Khârn's quote below pretty much sums up the mentality of his legion and others who devote themselves to Khorne.
  • An Axe to Grind: The chainaxe is a signature weapon for the World Eaters; after all, why just smash someone's head in when you can turn him into chunky salsa at the same time?
  • Battlecry: "Blood for the Blood God!", usually followed by "Skulls for the Skull Throne!"
  • The Berserker: Pretty much every World Eater is this by nature, with the Khorne Berzerkers as the epitome.
  • Blood Knight: It should go without saying. To a World Eater, killing is a self-justifying act.
  • Blood Is the New Black: One short story concerned a slave stuck cleaning a World Eater's armor, who discovered under its red "paint" its original blue and white color scheme.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: During Angron's days amongst humanity, he was well known for personally leading his legion in vicious frontal assaults which obsessively emphasized melee combat; this practice lead to his public image fulfilling this trope as one of his more infamous attributes, earning him the epithet "the Red Angel". With his white and blue-trim armor, he was often told he should just repaint it red, and his legion's colors did eventually change to red and brass. Some in the 40k-verse say they never actually repainted their armor, but just stopped cleaning the blood off of it.note 
  • Close-Range Combatant: Even before falling to the worship of the Blood God, the World Eaters specialised in brutal close assault and the introduction of the aggression boosting Butcher's Nails only increased this tendency. Since turning traitor, the Legion has dedicated itself fully to close combat for the greater glory of Khorne with reckless fury. Almost all editions of the game have represented this by giving the World Eaters special rules and equipment most suited for hand-to-hand combat, with the 8th Edition rules allowing squads of World Eaters to make extra attacks when charging, for example.
  • Does Not Like Magic: In keeping with Khorne's hate of sorcery, the World Eaters have no psykers. Along with most of their number dying from the Butcher's Nails, the few Librarians that remained to the final stages of the Heresy were slaughtered by Angron when he became a daemon prince, as a sacrifice to Khorne.
  • Evil Counterpart: The World Eaters are similar to the Emperor's "attack dogs" who have no other function than to destroy, the Space Wolves.
  • Friend or Foe: The World Eaters don't much care which side you are on, once they start fighting.
  • Gladiator Games: After being reunited with their Primarch Angron, the former slave-gladiator introduced gladiatorial pit-fighting as part of the Legion's training regime, as well as a means of stress relief and entertainment for his overly aggressive men. Initially, these pit-fights were often highly ritualised with rules and traditions. As the Legion became more corrupted over the course of the Horus Heresy, however, these rules were broken with increasing frequency, becoming increasingly brutal and bloody.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Every World Eater is "upgraded" with a knockoff of the Butcher's Nails implant used by Angron, imparting savage killing urges while destroying all parts of their brains that give them satisfaction from anything aside from killing, driving them to ever-increasing acts of horrific violence. They also react very poorly to the brains of psykers, causing most of the Legion's Librarians to die gruesomely after being implanted.
  • The Horde: As their name indicates, the World Eaters only purpose is the ravage of planets.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Black Feast, a World Eaters splinter cult, are infamous for devouring the remains of those they slay during battle. They see this act as the greatest insult they can give to their foe and as a punishment for their weakness.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The World Eaters have had this reputation since before going traitor. During the Great Crusade allied forces frequently had their stratagems derailed by the World Eaters' aggression, and on Isstvan III they led a drop pod assault against loyalist Astartes that made further planetary bombardment impossible, much to Horus' fury.
  • Meaningful Rename: After hearing that their Primarch had called his army of gladiators the "eaters of cities," the War Hounds legion offered to become his "eaters of worlds." Angron approved.
  • Non-Indicative Name: In his rare lucid moments, Angron noted how his former War Hounds were more savage and wolf-like than the Space Wolves, who he considered the Emperor's dutiful attack dogs. This is also a Genius Bonus; the Space Wolves fight like an interdependent wolf pack, but the World Eaters attack in a disorganized mob like feral dogs.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The most intense about this among all Space Marine factions, and possibly the most intense about it in the entire setting also.
  • Rage Helm: World Eater helmets are often designed to resemble terrifying, snarling faces, and commonly have horn-like extensions resembling the symbol of Khorne.
  • Red Is Violent: During the Heresy the World Eaters switched their color scheme to blood red to symbolize their embrace of Khorne and violence for its own sake.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Their normal state of mind. Considering that they're under the service of Khorne, it's a given.
  • Weapon of Choice: The World Eaters prefer chain weapons for their ability to rend flesh and spill blood, and chainaxes in particular because the axes is a favored weapon of both their primarch and of Khorne.

Khârn, the Betrayer, Curse of Skalathrax

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_kharnthebetrayer.png

'Attack' is the only order worth remembering.

The greatest of Khorne's mortal champions, Khârn has cut a bloody swathe through the galaxy ever since the battles of the Great Crusade. Khârn earned his epithet during the Battle for Skalathrax, a conflict between the World Eaters and Emperor's Children that stalled due to unnatural blizzards, forcing both sides to cease the battle as they sought refuge from the storm. Howling his rage and frustration, Khârn proceeded to torch every shelter he could and slaughter their occupants regardless of faction, causing the World Eaters and Emperor's Children to compete for the remaining cover in an orgy of fratricidal bloodletting. Khârn's bloodlust is such that he is as much a danger to his allies as his enemies, but there are no shortage of berserkers willing to follow him into battle regardless.


  • An Axe to Grind: Wields Gorechild, a massive chainaxe Angron wrecked and discarded shortly before his ascension to Daemon Princedom, which Khârn had repaired and resized for his own use.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Khârn is admired by Khorne Berserkers of the World Eaters and Khornate worshipers in general, but is feared and loathed by all others. He probably thinks that's better than being admired.
  • Anti-Magic: Prior to the 8th edition rules, Khârn was considered blessed by Khorne himself so that no psychic powers can directly harm him and his rules reflected that.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Even by World Eater standards, Khârn is a vicious berserker whose main approach to every obstacle is to charge it and chop it to pieces.
  • Bash Brothers: Had this dynamic with Argel Tal during the Horus Heresy, and it was his death that helped start his Sanity Slippage.
  • Blood Knight: He took it as a personal offense that the other World Eaters preferred to seek shelter from subzero temperatures rather than keep fighting, taking a flamer to them and the enemy both, singlehandedly destroying both Legions' effectiveness as anything other than wandering warbands.
  • Body-Count Competition: A short story reveals that Khârn's helmet contains a kill counter, and he amuses himself by trying to beat his personal best score. 5,000 kills in a day is considered "quite good." One short story mentions that during the Siege of Terra, he racked up over a million kills during the anarchy and confusion of that particular battle.
  • The Champion: Khorne's greatest mortal champion.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Like many heavily close combat orientated characters, Khârn may be able to cause serious damage to anything short of a Primarch or heavy vehicle, but he has little else to offer on the tabletop with, except a ranged attack with a 1 in 6 chance of wounding himself and a the ability to grant re-rolls to World Eaters close enough to get killed by Khârn when he loses control.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: His name when translated is basically "Betrayer the Betrayer".
  • Devil's Job Offer: Legend has it that Khârn died Atop a Mountain of Corpses during the Siege of Terra, but Khorne was so impressed with his body count that he sent him back to the mortal realm to continue the slaughter.
  • Dissonant Serenity: An audiodrama about him shows that he's disconcertingly calm and understated out of combat, much like he had been during the Horus Heresy. When it was time to fight, he puts his helmet back on and he becomes the Khârn we're familiar with.
    • On the other hand, we hear from his perspective several times in the story; he only gets through it by constantly fantasizing about killing everyone. The first few are a Daydream Surprise, and it cuts back to another viewpoint character he'd just "killed" wondering why he's staring into space. When he actually does cut loose and murder everyone it fakes us out again by being presented exactly the same way as the fantasies.
  • The Dreaded: Paragon of the Blood God or not, one of the few things capable of breaking through a Khorne Berserker's bloodlust and making them feel a glimmer of doubt is the knowledge that Khârn is coming for them.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Outside fanon he is usually depicted as a brutal Team Killer who barely keeps himself from brutally murdering his own allies only by fantasising about it. On the tabletop, Khârn has a 1-in-6 chance of inflicting Unfriendly Fire if he's joined to a unit during a melee brawl — exactly the sort of thing you'd expect during a bloody and confusing mashing-up of bodies.
  • Heel Realization: Experiences it momentarily in the present day, amazingly, when the World Eaters return to Ghenna, an Imperial shrine world, ten thousand years after they wiped out the original population. Just as he's about to slaughter yet another victim, his eyes fall upon a statue depicting Mago, an old friend of Khârn who was the Centurion of the World Eaters 18th Company during the Great Crusade and the Legion's leading opponent to the idea of implanting the Butcher's Nails onto the Legion. It is the sight of the statue of his friend (whom he beheaded) that forces Khârn to remember what happened on Ghenna, and how low he and his Legion have fallen.
    Clawing up a mountain, desperate to reach the pinnacle - a father's acknowledgement, if never respect - only to be dashed down its slopes again and again. Mutilating ourselves, twisted into broken savages by the Nails. Betraying everything, only to trade one uncaring master for another. Never free. Always a slave.
  • Husky Russkie: According to background information, he is Siberian. Though it's unclear whether that should be taken to mean 'Slav who just lives in Eastern Russia' or 'Actual Siberian Tatar'. His name is Arabic, which possibly implies indigenous Siberian descent (meaning Tatar) seeing as how the indigenous inhabitants of Siberia are Muslims.
  • Irony: He used to be considered the most calm and friendly of the World Eaters; he was the only captain able to talk to Angron without being violently crushed. Nowadays he has a much different demeanor, to put it lightly.
  • Lightning Bruiser: On the tabletop, his stats are powerful enough to bring down an Imperial Knight in a single round of combat... before the Knight gets to react. Doing so is not recommended, as the Knight will explode and take Khârn with it.
  • Madness Mantra: "KILL! MAIM! BURN! KILL! MAIM! BURN!"
  • Master Swordsman: Whatever his opponent, Khârn will hit it on a two or greater on a six-sided dice. If he's in a mixed combat, he never misses — which isn't to say that he will always hit the enemy.
  • Meaningful Name: It's Arabic for "betrayer."
  • Odd Friendship: With Argel Tal. It was strange how a warrior like Khârn and a self-hating, possessed, and fanatical Word Bearer Like Argel Tal got along, but they did.
    • Other than Argel Tal, Khârn was well regarded among the Legions, counting Sisigmund of the Imperial Fists, founder of the Black Templars, and Amit of the Blood Angels, the Flesh Tearer, as close friends or at least respected acquaintences.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: When the fighting starts, Khârn stops caring whose side you're on.
  • One-Man Army: Khârn is one of the most formidable combatants of all Chaos forces, who singlehandedly shattered not one but two Traitor Legions.
  • Only Sane Man: Used to be this for the World Eaters. Now he's even crazier than the rest of them.
  • Psycho for Hire: Occasionally poses as one for other Chaos warlords. Then he inevitably gets bored and betrays them.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Along with Ahriman, Khârn is one of the oldest Space Marines alive, being born during the Unification Wars.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Missing the armor on his left arm, displaying the bulge of his massive bicep.
  • Start of Darkness: Khârn was an adviser to Angron and a calming influence on his Primarch. Ten thousand years of service to the Blood God made him the Omnicidal Maniac he is today.
  • Team Killer: Infamous for this, which was the source of his epithet.
  • Unfriendly Fire: If he's in a unit and rolls a 1 on to-hit rolls, he'll hit his mates instead.
  • Villainous BSoD: Khârn has been in one for ten thousand years following a Loyalist's failed attempt to redeem him. His boundless rage and his penchant for killing fellow Traitor Marines is born from his inability to escape the truth that was forced upon him: that siding with Horus was wrong and that he could have turned away from Chaos of his own free will.

    Death Guard 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/newdeathguard2.png
"We... are death... and decay."

Sickness, disease, plague and pox, suffering and the slow, living rot. Such wondrous gifts does Nurgle seek to bestow upon the unworthy human cattle of the Imperium. We are merely the vectors by which his virulent beneficence may be spread to the undeserving masses.
Urgloth Rotheart, Plague Champion of the Death Guard

Originally known as the Dusk Raiders, a stoic-minded force known for dusk-time attacks, the Fourteenth Legion was renamed the Death Guard by their Primarch Mortarion and reforged into a relentless, implacable force that would crush their opponents through slow, methodical infantry assaults. Mortarion's close friendship with Horus quickly brought the Death Guard over to the Warmaster's side when he turned against the Emperor but their final fall didn’t come until later when, while stranded in the Warp and overtaken by the plagues of Nurgle, Mortarion was forced to pledge himself and his Legion to Nurgle's service in order to save them from annihilation.

Since their corruption, the Death Guard have become an army of bloated and festering Plague Marines. Based on the daemon world known as the Plague Planet, the Death Guard send out their diseased Plague Fleets to spread Nurgle's blessings across the galaxy. Unlike some of their fellow traitors, the Death Guard have retained much of their organisation and with the opening of the great rift, the foul Legion has launched an all-out assault on the material universe, conquering a number of worlds to the galactic north of Ultramar and transforming them into the festering Scourge Stars, a rancid foothold to launch assaults against the Ultramarines and their returned Primarch.

The Death Guard have been part of the Warhammer 40,000 game since 1st Edition where they received an army list in the Realms of Chaos: Lost and the Damned sourcebook. From 2nd Edition, the Death Guard were included in the various Codex: Chaos Space Marines books where they generally counted as a regular Chaos Marine army with a Nurgle focus. The exceptions to this were the second 3rd Edition Codex: Chaos Space Marines and the late 7th Edition Codex Supplement: Traitor Legions, both of which included extra rules for theming a Chaos Marine army around one of the original Traitor Legions. In 8th Edition, the Death Guard form the Chaos half of the Dark Imperium starter set and they received their first ever standalone codex rulebook in September 2017.


  • Affably Evil: Much like Nurgle and his daemons, the Death Guard are downright jovial at times.
  • And I Must Scream: Those who succumb to the Poxwalker strain of zombie plague remain conscious, unable to do anything but watch, as their deceased body reanimates and marches to war alongside the forces of the Death Guard.
  • Arbitrary Minimum Range: The drawback of the Plagueburst Crawler is its inability to fire at targets that are closer than its minimum range.
  • Arc Number: 7 is the (un)holy number of Nurgle and, as his most devout mortal followers, the Death Guard have taken this to heart, by making battle plans that involve 7 assaults for example. The Legion is also organised into 7 Plague Companies of 7 Sepsis Cohorts consisting of 7 Colonies, each of which includes 7 squads. This is also reflected in the 8th Edition rules as many of the aura abilities of the Death Guard unique units have a range of 7”.
  • Arm Cannon: Before their corruption, the Deathshorud Terminators of the Death Guard had chemically enhanced hand flamers attached to the back of their gauntlets so that they could still use their two-handed scythes. After millennia of dedication to the Plague God, these flamers have become heavily corrupted, turning into plaguespurt gauntlets that unleash highly poisonous bile and slime over their targets.
  • An Axe to Grind: The plaguereapers wielded by many Lords of Contagion are massive, two-handed axes that often incorporate a trio of buzz saws into their blades in imitation of the triple-circle symbol of Nurgle. In the 8th Edition rules these fetid axes boost the Strength of the wielder and do a reasonable amount of Damage with each hit.
  • Battlecry:
    • Averted with the Death Guard as a whole who, unlike many of their fellow Traitor Legions, do not have a general battle cry or motto as disease kills without a word.
    • The Tainted Sons vectorium use "All Will Rot" as a war cry, gurgling the words as they reap the lives of their foes.
  • Brown Note:
    • The warped sound of the hell-forged bells known as Tocsins of Misery bring misery and despair to all who hear it. The discordant peals of these cause the blessings of Nurgle to run rampant, spreading rot and disease through the enemy's ranks while their very faith and will to fight is eroded by the unclean sound. The 8th Edition game rules for the Tocsin of Misery represent this by causing all nearby enemy units to suffer a penalty to their Leadership characteristic. The sound of the Tocsin will also cause more damage in combat than the disease-ridden combat blades carried by Plague Marines.
    • The endless chattering of the Poxwalkers can actually spread the Walking Pox disease through mere sound, meaning that survivors barricaded behind thick walls often end up turning without ever coming into contact with the poxwalkers. The only defense is faith, but fortunately for the plague god (and unfortunately for any survivors) there is always that one or two who wavers in their faith. And faith only protects against the sound, not a physical bite...
  • Carry a Big Stick: One of the plague infused weapons used by the Death Guard are maces of contagion, heavy, club-like weapons with a head that resembles a censor. Rather than incense however, the mace of contagion exudes tainted bile that will infect the enemy so that, like many other Death Guard weapons in the 8th Edition of the game, they have a greater chance of scoring a wound.
  • Deadly Gas: The specialist Death Guard Sorcerers known as Malignant Plaguecasters are living links to the Garden of Nurgle. Every breath that the Plaguecaster takes fills the air with the noxious gasses of the Plague God's blighted realm. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Pestilential Fallout ability that will cause mortal wounds on any enemy close to the Malignant Plaguecaster whenever he successfully manifests a psychic power.
  • Death World: Both Barbarus, whose higher altitudes were covered in a miasma of toxic gases that even Mortarion found difficult to breathe, and the Plague Planet which the Death Guard took over after the Horus Heresy and made into their base of operations.
  • Does Not Like Magic: Because of Mortarion's hate of psykers (due to the horrors of his childhood on Barbarus), the Death Guard did away with its Librarians shortly after he joined the Legion.
  • Dual Wielding: Many close combat-orientated Plague Marines of the Death Guard replace their boltguns with a pair of disease-encrusted melee weapons such as bubotic axes, maces of contagion or plague knives. Doing so in the 8th Edition rules increases the number of times the Plague Marine can attack in close combat.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Tabletop wise, these guys are highly survivable just like the Iron Hands thanks to the latter's Disgustingly Resilient rule. The Iron Hands, however, get their toughness from mechanical augmentations whereas the Death Guard's augmentations are organic.
    • Plague Surgeons are twisted, vile versions of loyalist Apothecaries, bringing disease and rot to anyone unfortunate enough to feel the touch of their equipment. In one of GW's introductory videos for the 2017 Death Guard model line, the art shows a Plague Surgeon apparently about to vivisect a Primaris Marine.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Plague Marines are often depicted with their guts hanging out of their bellies, and sport all kinds of pustules, rot, and bloat, making them incredibly disgusting. Some of the most intricate and creatively customized models are Plague Marines or associated models simply because Nurgle opens a very wide door for things that can make them even more disgusting and horrifying.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Biologus Putrifiers have lidless eyes that grow concealed beneath their flesh.
  • Fantastic Racism: Mortarion's reshaping of the Dusk Raiders into the Death Guard shifted all aspects of the Legion's operations from Terra to Barbarus, which gradually did away with its Terran influences and led to prejudice against Terra-born Marines. These Marines were increasingly suspected of harboring loyalist tendencies, and were ruthlessly purged during the scouring of Istvaan III, along with similar elements in other traitor Legions.
  • Fat Bastard: Many of them have grown quite pudgy due to their bodies being bloated from rot and disease.
  • Feel No Pain: Plague Marines are so inured to the constant pain from the putrescence of their bodies that they barely notice injuries in battle, and can shrug off pretty much anything that doesn't completely destroy them. In-game, all Plague Marines have the Disgustingly Resilient rule which gives them an additional roll to negate wounds.
  • Flies Equals Evil: Not only the swarms of flies that surround them and accompany the plagues and pestilence they spread, but a stylized fly is used as frequently as a symbol for the Death Guard as the three circles/skulls.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: A Noxious Blightbringer carries a cursed bell that tolls with the death knell of victims.
  • Formulaic Magic: Like the daemonic minions of Nurgle from whom they take their name, the Tallymen of the Death Guard continuously count and record everything from expended shells to the number of flies in the air, to the number of defeats their forces suffer. Unlike their daemonic counterparts however, by continually counting these things in groups of seven and chanting them to a sevenfold crescendo, the Tallymen are able to invoke the power of Nurgle to heal and strengthen his followers. In the 8th Edition this is represented by the 'Seven-fold Chant' ability that gives Death Guard players a chance to refund used Command Points.
  • Future Copter: The Blight Drone and the larger Foetid Bloat-Drone Daemon Engines that often accompany the Death Guard, and some other favoured forces of Nurgle, are hideous amalgams of diseased flesh and rusted metal held aloft by multiple engine fans that allow them to hover across the battlefield in imitation of the bloated flies that are the sacred animal of the Plague God.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Since before the Heresy, the Death Guard have specialised in fighting in environments hostile even to the enhanced physiology of an Astartes and would often modify the helms of their power armour to incorporate extra filter and respiration equipment. Since the Legion's corruption, this trend has continued but now the substances pumped through these respirators are far more noxious than the environments they fight in and are swimming with Nurgle's blessings. All these extra pipes and arcane equipment gives the helms of the Plague Marines an appearance similar to that of a corrupted First World War gasmask.
  • Healing Factor: The bodies of some particularly blessed Death Guard Champions knit themselves back together as fast as they are injured. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Warlord Trait "Tainted Regeneration" that automatically heals a wound every turn.
  • Irony:
    • The Death Guard has become the very thing the Emperor said would never happen to the original Space Marines: They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them.
    • Before the coming of the Emperor, Mortarion lived among the human slaves of Barbarus and fought against the mutant overlords that could live in the toxic clouds above. Following his ascension to Daemonhood, Mortarion rules from a world choked by poisonous clouds, below which countless human slaves toil...
    • The Death Guard are the only Chaos Marines to have retained their Apothecaries, only they've twisted into the Plague Surgeons.
  • Living Ship: Terminus Est, an ancient battleship which has served as the Legion's flagship since the time of the Great Crusade and which has now taken on a daemonic life of its own, as corrupted with disease and pestilence as the Death Guard itself.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • The Foul Blightspawn and Biologus Putrifiers are unique positions within the Death Guard that work together to develop, refine and spread the pestilent gifts of Grandfather Nurgle. Working in the disease factories of the Plague Planet, the Blightspawn use their foul alchemical knowledge to brew raw diseased slime that the Putrifiers then distil to create new and hideously potent forms of blight grenade.
    • Nauseous Rotbone is the most accomplished of all the Legion's Plague Surgeons and the personal physician of the Primarch Mortarion. When not administering to the diseases that infest the Death Lord's body, Rotbone can be found in the surgical dungeons within the Primarch's fortress, tinkering and experimenting with the Legion's stock of tainted and stolen gene-seed.
  • Made of Iron: In two ways:
    • In the lore, Space Marines in general are noted to shrug off and survive wounds that would instantly kill a normal human. The Death Guard, even before being corrupted by Chaos, were noted to be amongst the most durable and resistant to chemical and radiation attacks. After being corrupted by Nurgle? Let's just say in the novels its mentioned the best way to deal with Plague Marines is with anti-tank weaponry. As in, major anti-tank weaponry.
    • On the Tabletop: Death Guard models tend to have excellent Toughness on average, and most of the army has Disgustingly Resilientnote , including the vehicles. In fact, to explain it simply: Death Guard Plague Marines in a Chaos Rhino are MORE durable than the tank they're riding in due to Disgustingly Resilient. The Plague Surgeon also allows Death Guard units to reroll Disgustingly Resilient rolls of 1, and their Warlord can have Revoltingly Resilient which adds +1 to the roll of Disgustingly Resilient on non-Mortal Wounds on himself. Yeah.
  • Necromancer: Necrosius the Undying, leader of the breakaway Death Guard warband known as the Taintednote  has a particular affinity for the various strains of the Zombie Virus, able to invigorate the walking dead victims of this dreadful plague. In game terms Necrosius' Master of the Dead ability boosts the abilities of nearby Poxwalkersnote  and Plague Zombiesnote .
  • Only Sane Man: For a given value of sane, obviously, but of all the Traitor Legions they were the only ones to fall back from Terra in good order rather than in a panicked rout, have retained their cohesion the best, have maintained the overall structure of the pre-Heresy Legion, and have mostly avoided splintering into uncoordinated warbands.
  • The Pig Pen: Plague Marines' armor and weapons are saturated in filth and corrosion. This is reflected in the models both by their design and how they're painted; painting guides for Plague Marines involve tips on how to make shiny pustules and exposed organs, or achieve a proper filth-encrusted look through layers of washes and inks.
  • Plaguemaster: The Death Guard Legion in a nutshell, as all of its Marines are vessels for Nurgle's diseases.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: The Death Guard weapon known as blight launchers fire armour-piercing shells that contain a corrosive contagion known as ironblight that dissolves both flesh and metal. In the 8th Edition of the game, these blight launchers have a more powerful profile than krak grenades fired from an Imperial grenade launcher with the addition to being as heavily diseased as all other Death Guard weapons.
  • The Quiet One: The Deathshroud Terminators only ever speak when they are passing on the commands of their Primarch. Even in the heat of battle the Deathshrouds fight in complete, unnerving silence becoming the perfect embodiment of the silent onset of inevitable death.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: The baleswords carried by Plague Surgeons sport viciously serrated blades that give them the appearance of primitive, oversized bone saws to fit with their corrupted doctor visual theme.
  • Sinister Scythe: The scythe is one of the favoured weapons of Nurgle and many veteran and favoured members of the Death Guard wield one, most commonly a dreaded manreaper. These ancient power scythes are also the signature weapon of Mortarion's bodyguards, the Deathshrouds, and in the centuries since the Horus Heresy have become filth-encrusted horrors that are said to have been dipped into Nurgle's own stew of diseases and filth.
  • Spell Blade: The 'Blades of Putrefaction' psychic power, from the Death Guard's Contagion Discipline, enhances the melee weapons of the psyker's allies with putrid blessing of Nurgle. In game terms, the 8th Edition rules represent this with a bonus to their to wound rolls and a chance of causing mortal wounds.
  • Stout Strength: Plague Marines' bodies are bloated with corruption, but they're just as strong and even tougher than normal Astartes.
  • Super Senses: To assist them in their mission to refine and develop the infectious blessings of Nurgle, the Biologus Putrifiers have a unique mutation to their occulobes. These lidless, milky-white eyes are capable of seeing through an opponent's armour and flesh, allowing the Putrifier to perceive the spread and development of disease their latest concoction in minute detail.
  • Taking the Bullet: Deathshroud Terminators, serving the role of bodyguards for Death Guard characters, are capable of intercepting hits targeted at them, even in close combat.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Blight grenades are one of the signature weapons of the Death Guard, a hideous form of grenade created from the head of a defeated enemy that mixes explosives with virulent toxins and viruses that can reduce living tissue to mush. The Foul Blightspawn are particularly obsessed with these diseased explosives, becoming obsessed with attempting to great the perfect blight grenade to unleash on their enemies. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the Blightspawn a special form of blight grenade that they can use once per battle that is twice as effective as a normal blight grenade.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The 8th Edition background material for the Legion mentions the seven Books of Woe, filth covered profane scripture that are sometimes bestowed upon a favoured champion of the Death Guard. The knowledge within these diseased tomes allow the champion to tear reality asunder to summon entire legions of Nurgle's daemons or to recreate a portion of the Plague God's garden within the mortal universe.
  • Voice of the Legion: Fugaris' Helm, an abominable relic of the Death Guard in 8th Edition, attracts a massive swarm of daemon flies to the wearer. These flies swirl around the wearer of the helm, repeating his words as the voice of the swarm. In-game, this helm increases the range of the wearers aura abilities to represent this loud, multitudinous voice carrying over the din of battle.
  • Walking Wasteland: Blightlord Terminators are so saturated with corruption and entropy that their mere presence can cause metal to rust, flesh to rot and even the sturdiest of fortified structures to crumble to dust. The 8th Edition rules represent this by improving the Armour Penetration value of the Blightlord's melee weapons as this Aura of Rust corrodes their enemy's armour.
  • You Have Failed Me: One of the duties of Mortarion's Deathshroud bodyguard is to watch over the various Lords who command the Death Guard and dispose of those who fail in their duty to the Primarch.

Typhus the Traveler, Herald of Nurgle

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/newtyphus.png

Look upon me and know that I can slay you at will. You have no defense save one: to look into the darkness at the back of your own mind. There, you will find Father Nurgle waiting to offer you life in return for your submission. Deny him, and you are mine.

Calas Typhon was First Captain of the Death Guard Legion. While he was always a formidable fighter, he kept his psychic gift suppressed due of the Legion's disdain of sorcery before finally developing his abilities following his corruption. After falling under the sway of Chaos, he was instrumental in bringing the Legion under Nurgle's control and was rewarded by being transformed into the host for the Destroyer Hive, one of the Plague Father's greatest diseases. Now known as Typhus, the Herald of Nurgle is the most blessed of the Plague God's mortal champions and leads the 1st Plague Company of the Death Guard, the Harbingers, who are host to the various strains of zombie plague. Since the opening of the Great Rift, Typhus and the Harbingers have been spreading their contagions across the Imperium, concentrating many of their assaults against the systems surrounding the ruined Cadian Gate.


  • Bastard Bastard: He's the son of a human woman and a mutant Overlord of Barbarus, and a vile traitor who tricked his childhood friend and entire Legion into eternal damnation.
  • Body Horror: As he has become host to the Destroyer Hive, his body is fused to his armor Big Daddy style. Because of this, he can no longer take off his helmet or remove any parts of his armor, not that he would want to.
  • Bullying the Dragon: Has mouthed off to Mortarion, a being who could pull Typhus apart like a green Mr. Potato Head, on multiple occasions. That he's still alive is a testament to his favor with Nurgle, and a deliberate decision by Mortarion to not repeat his father's mistakes.
  • The Champion: Nurgle's greatest living champion.
  • Childhood Friends: He was among the first humans Mortarion ever rescued in his rebellion and the two grew up together. This only made his betrayal hurt that much more.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: While his mother was a human woman, some background material reveals that Typhon's father was one of the Overlords of Barbarus, a mysterious species that, according to legend, used to be human before being transformed into something hideously alien through a pact with a dark power.
  • Magic Knight: Typhus isn't just a mighty fighter, capable of taking on loyalist Astartes Chapter Masters in close combat and coming out the victor but is also a powerful sorcerer of the Plague God with formidable psychic powers. In the 8th Edition rules, this is represented by the Herald of Nurgle combining the characteristics and abilities of a Lord of Corruption with the psychic powers of a Death Guard Sorcerer.
  • Meaningful Rename: He was previously First Captain Calas Typhon, but now that he isn't loyal to the Death Guard as much as he is to Nurgle, he became Typhus the Traveler.
  • Plaguemaster: Even more so than normal Death Guard, for his body is a host for the Destroyer Hive, wasp-like daemons which are vectors for the Destroyer Plague.
  • Plague Zombie: Typhus' Plague Company, the Harbingers, are hosts for the countless strains of zombie plague created by Grandfather Nurgle. Due to this, Typhus and his company are always accompanied by hordes of plague zombies and Poxwalkers and their assaults almost inevitably result in a Zombie Apocalypse. To represent this, the 6th and 7th Editions of the game allowed Chaos Cultists to be replaced by plague zombies when the Chaos Marine army was led by Typhus, while the 8th Edition rules see Typhus boost the abilities of nearby Poxwalkers.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Typhus's relationship with Mortarion was strained even before the Death Guard fell to Chaos: Mortarion hated psykers, so Typhus repressed and kept his talents secret; Typhus was secretly a Chaos worshiper, while Mortarion was determined to keep his Legion secular. Fast forward to present day, Typhus considers Mortarion a failure to Nurgle's cause for not being more proactive about spreading rot and ruin throughout the Imperium.
  • Sinister Scythe: Typhus wields a master-crafted manreaper, a powerful and profane weapon second only in power to Mortarion’s mighty scythe Silence itself.
  • Start of Darkness: Typhon was corrupted by Erebus, becoming convinced that his psyker abilities could be a blessing for the Legion. Typhon eventually fell under the sway of Nurgle, and convinced Mortarion that he could safely guide the Death Guard's fleet through the Warp toward Terra to join Horus, having organized the deaths of all their Navigators behind the scenes. Instead, the fleet became trapped in the Warp and overrun by Nurgle's plagues.
  • Technopath: Typhus has a symbiotic relationship with the Terminus Est; when in its command chair he and the giant plague ship are essentially one being.
  • Treacherous Advisor: He betrayed Mortarion's trust and his own Legion by leading them into Nurgle's embrace. It didn't entirely destroy their relationships, and many Death Guard would thank him for it now, but it was a major point that marked a change in Typhus's loyalties.
  • Walking the Earth: Typhus is determined to travel far and wide, spreading Nurgle's plagues wherever he goes.

    Thousand Sons 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1000sons_new.png
"All is dust."

The minds of gods are not for mortals to know, or to judge. Accept that Tzeentch has a place for all of us in his grand scheme, and be happy in the part you have to play.
— Proclamation of Magnus the Red

The Fifteenth Astartes Legion, the instability of the Thousand Sons' gene-seed meant that they were always small in number but were possessed of incredible psychic power, with their Primarch Magnus the Red being the most psychically gifted of his brothers. Unfortunately, Magnus' desire for knowledge resulted in him defying the Emperor's edict banning the study of sorcery, and a disastrous attempt to warn his father of Horus' treachery resulted in Magnus and his Legions being forced to turn to Chaos for salvation.

Dedication to Tzeentch, the God of Magic and Knowledge, brought the Legion great power, but at a great cost. The already unstable gene-seed of the Thousand Sons deteriorated further under the influence of the God of Mutation, and an attempt by Chief Librarian Ahriman to halt the corruption resulted in the majority of the Legion’s warriors transformed into near-mindless souls sealed within their armour.

Operating from the Planet of Sorcerers, the Thousand Sons have enacted their intricate schemes against the forces of the Imperium for the past ten thousand years, all the while searching the galaxy for forbidden knowledge and arcane power. As the 41st Millennium came to an end, Magnus and his Legion enacted a great ritual that transported the Planet of Sorcerers into the material universe. From this new position, the cults and sects of the Thousand Sons have redoubled the intensity of their campaigns and plots, striking at every Segmentum of the Imperium.

Like the other Traitor Legions, the Thousand Sons have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 game since 1st Edition where they received an army list in the Realm of Chaos: Lost and the Damned sourcebook. Between the 2nd and 6th Editions of the game the Legion were a part of the main Chaos Marine army list, often with supplemental rules to represent their particular background and style of warfare. In 7th Edition the Thousand Sons were the major antagonist in the War Zone Fenris campaign books and received a considerable expansion of their rules and range of models alongside the second book War Zone Fenris: Wrath of Magnus, which also saw the return of their Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red to the tabletop game for the first time since the 2nd Edition of the Epic version of the game. The 8th Edition of the game saw the release of Codex Heretic Astartes: Thousand Sons in February 2018, the first standalone Sourcebook for the Legion.

See also Thousand Sons


  • Abnormal Ammo: Rubric Marines are armed with boltguns loaded with Inferno bolts which kill an enemy's soul.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The Athenaean Scrolls are all that remains of the knowledge contained within the once great Magical Library known as the Athenaeum of Kallimakus. Anyone who possesses one of the Athenaean Scrolls can use the knowledge within to boost the power of their psychic abilities. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving a psychic power cast by a model equipped with the Athenaean Scrolls a chance of becoming unstoppable.
  • Animated Armor: Rubric Marines are nothing more than empty suits of power armor containing a bit of dust and the trapped souls of their wearers.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Space Wolves, due to their obliteration of Prospero. This vendetta has led the Thousand Sons to make several attempts at revenge, and though they haven't wiped out their old foe, they did manage to forever alter the Wolves' destiny by both destroying a cure for the Wulfen curse and later unleashing a full assault with the aid of daemons on Fenris during the Gathering Storm storyline that led to the Grey Knights and Inquisition slaughtering most, if not all, of the native population due to learning about the Wulfen and seeing daemons firsthand with the Space Wolves too understaffed to stop them, essentially pulling a reverse-Prospero on them.
  • The Archmage: An Exalted Sorcerer who leads one of the Sects of the Thousand Sons, known as an Arch Magister, is said to be dark exemplar of arcane might, able to bend the forces of the warp to his will with a mere thought. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'High Magister' Warlord Trait that gives the Thousand Sons Warlord a bonus when casting Psychic Powers.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The basic weapon of the Thousand Sons, the inferno bolter, uses Fireballs as ammunition. In-game, this translates into AP -2, meaning that light armour (such as the one worn by Guardsmen) offers no protection against its fire whatsoever, while Power Armor will only protect you as well as the aforementioned light armour would against ordinary bolters. Their heavier weapons like soulreaper cannons have even better AP, and even Tzaangors have swords with some armour-piercing capabilities.
  • Anti-Armor: This is their speciality in the tabletop game. If the enemy uses conventional armour, it can be dealt with using the army's many armour-piercing weapons. Invulnerable saves, such as Deflector Shields or psychic barriers, can be disabled with the psychic power Death Hex. And if all that fails, the Thousand Sons is one of the few armies that can spam the psychic power Smite, which ignores all saves.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Thousand Sons of the Cult of Mutation are obsessed with transfiguration and transformation, fully embracing the Master of Mutation aspect of Tzeentch. The Cult is dedicated to spreading mutation through the material universe, mutating entire planetary populations into grotesque abominations and transforming the planets themselves into sanity blasting Daemon Worlds.
  • Battlecry: A ghostly whisper of "All is dust." May double as a Madness Mantra.
  • Bird People: The Thousand Sons are often accompanied into battle by units of Tzaangors, horned avian Beastmen who are the native inhabitants of the Planet of Sorcerers and are employed as guards and foot soldiers to make up for the Legion's lack of manpower.
  • Body Horror:
    • The Thousand Sons suffered from two extremes of this, so to speak. First, their incredible psychic powers led to widespread mutation, then the Rubric of Ahriman reduced most of the chapter to a handful of dust.
    • The Exalted Sorcerers willingly became like this, seeing the mutations they got from Tzeentch as blessings and signs of their increased mastery of the arcane. But considering Tzeentch's greatest sorcerer, Ahriman, is far beyond them in mastery and lacks any such mutations, it may simply be a perspective born from their own arrogance.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The background material for the Defilers of the Thousand Sons mentions that their shells have minor Tzeentchian daemons bound to them. Once expended these daemons are forcibly drawn back to the ammo racks of Defiler where they are reformed into another shell so that the Daemon Engine is never without ammunition. This has no effect on their in-game rules however.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: One of the Thousand Sons' many nods to Ancient Egypt were the pyramids and obelisks on Prospero.
  • Came Back Strong: They were thought to be annihilated as a Legion, with only minor warbands here and there with the majority killed during the Burning of Prospero. Wrath of Magnus showed that this was clearly not the case anymore, with them deploying in Legion strength once more, having been built up in the many years since the Heresy.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Mutalith Vortex Beast became part of the Thousand Sons army list in their 2018 codex, five years after its introduction as a Warriors of Chaos unit in Warhammer.
  • The Chessmaster: As followers of the god of plots and intrigue, the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons devote themselves to the planning and execution of complex, long reaching plans on a galactic scale to undermine their enemies before a single bolt is fired. Members of the cults of Manipulation and Scheming in particular are renowned for their insidious, convoluted and deceptive plots.
  • Close-Range Combatant: The background material for the sub-sect of the Cult of Mutation known as the Heretic Blades mentions that they contain a far higher proportion of close-combat troops than other Thousand Sons forces. This focus on close assault allows the warriors of the sub-sect to easily capture their opponents for use in their insane arcane experiments. This speciality isn't represented in the tabletop rules however: melee is almost exclusively reserved for Tzaangors.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Sorcerers and Exalted Sorcerers of the Thousand Sons often cast complex spells of precognition during combat so that they can perceive their enemy's movements and attacks before they happen and take countermeasures to avoid damage. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Fortune of Tzeentch' ability that grants Sorcerers and Exalted Sorcerers an invulnerable save.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Mutalith Vortex Beast uses the multiple tendrils of warp-putrefied flesh that extend from its hideous maw to rip its victims apart and draw their remains down its gullet.
  • Consummate Liar: While all followers of the Lord of Lies are accomplished liars, the members of the Thousand Son's Cult of Duplicity are some of the greatest deceivers in the entire Legion, able to hide the truth of their actions to such an extent that only the Daemon Primarch Magnus himself has any idea of their ultimate goals.
  • Cool Helmet: As part of their Ancient Egyptian visual theme, the helms of the Thousand Sons often incorporate a large, elaborate crest that resembles an inverted version of the nemes headcloth worn by Egyptian pharaohs, or the Shuti hieroglyph.
  • Defeat Means Explosion: The Sorcerers of the Thousand Sons have so much tainted power flowing through their veins that they can become a flaming sacrifice to the glory of Tzeentch when their blood is spilled. In-game this is represented by the 8th Edition Thousand Sons Stratagem 'Soul Flare' that causes a slain low level Thousand Sons Sorcerer to explode with a chance of dealing mortal wounds to nearby units.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: The Thousand Sons relic, the Prismatic Staff is able to create illusionary doubles of its wielder to confuse and misdirect the enemy. The confusion this causes is represented in the 8th Edition rules by allowing the Staff's wielder to Fall Back from combat and attack again in the same turn.
  • Evil Counterpart: Inverted, as the Imperial counterparts to the Thousand Sons have appeared after the Horus Heresy, and there are two of them:
    • Thematically, the Blood Ravens. Not only do they have more Librarians than perhaps any other loyalist Chapter, to the point that almost all of their Chapter Masters have also been Chief Librarians, there's also their red and bone colour scheme, eerily similar to the pre-Heresy armour of the Thousand Sons.
    • Gameplay-wise, the Grey Knights are the only other faction which can spam Smite, and much like the Thousand Sons, they have psychic line troops.
  • The Exile: The Crimson Sons Thousand Sons warband consists of those brethren who assisted Ahriman in the casting of his Rubric and were exiled from the Legion along with the Arch-Sorcerer. The warband is counted as a member of the Cult of Duplicity however and so their actions still benefit Magnus, even if they themselves are unaware of this fact.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Borrow heavily from Egyptian and Mesopotamian Mythology. They were doing it before the Necrons made it cool.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Thousand Sons make extensive use of Warpflame weapons, arcane flamethrowers that spew transmorphic fire at their enemies with all those touched by this Warpflame suffering from horrendous mutations. In the 8th Edition version of the rules, Warpflame weapons have the same stat line as more normal flamers but with better armour penetration to represent the profane fire mutating both the flesh and armour of the target.
  • Flying Books: One of the parts for the plastic Exalted Sorcerer modelnote  is a flying Spell Book chained to the front of their Disc of Tzeentch, adding to the image that they are steeped in magical power.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: While their Primarch did get along with a few of his other brothers (namely Lorgar, Jaghatai Khan, and surprisingly Perturabo) the Thousand Sons as a Legion were treated with suspicion and avoided by the others. This was mainly due to their unrestrained usage of sorcery on the battlefield and their obsession with acquiring knowledge, which brought them disdain for various reasons and led to them being seen as outcasts in a way. This is why a key part of their vengeance on the Space Wolves in Warzone: Fenris involves the Wulfen. They want the sons of Russ to feel the same way they did, being considering pariahs amongst their brothers.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: Before the events of the Heresy, the Thousand Sons were taught that knowledge was to be revered, collected, and understood, no matter how profane, heretical or forbidden that knowledge was. The pyramids of their home world were filled with great libraries in which they stored all the knowledge they could glean through their conquest during the Great Crusade, and it was the destruction of this knowledge that was their Start of Darkness.
  • Mage Tower: Some of the most favoured Thousand Sons Sorcerers reside in Silver Towers of Tzeentch. These daemonic floating fortifications are home to covens of Thrall-wizards and were once structures on the Legion's homeworld of Prospero that were transported to the Planet of Sorcerers along with the rest of the Thousand Sons when Magnus made his pact with the Architect of Fate.
  • Magical Library:
    • The Thousand Sons maintain numerous libraries of arcane and profane lore within their Silver Towers and beneath the metamorphic towers of the Planet of Sorcerers. The power of the knowledge contained within these librariums causes their walls to pulsate and their halls echo with the wailing of captured daemonic beings.
    • The magical libraries of other races and factions are a popular target of Thousand Sons raids, particularly by those sects and thrallbands aligned with the Cult of Knowledge. Even during the Siege of the Emperor's Palace at the climax of the Horus Heresy, the Legion took little part in the main battle, instead targeting the Emperor's own libraries where they stole countless hidden secrets.
  • Mighty Glacier: Rubric Marines are hard to kill and use weapons that can shred any infantry up to other Space Marines. However, they are largely incapable of any other tactic other than "walk forward and shoot", which admittedly they are fairly good at. They need Sorcerers around to guide them in more sophisticated maneuvers.
  • Mooks: The Prospero Spireguards were formerly the local Imperial Army that guarded Prospero during the Great Crusade, and after Prospero's sacking were drawn into the Warp with the rest of the Thousand Sons, where they now serve as the Legion's personal Traitor Guard regiments and extra manpower on Sortiarius. That said, they're much more respected and cohesive a fighting force than most Traitor Guard thanks to Magnus the Red's nostalgia.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Some particularly favoured Thousand Sons Sorcerers have been gifted with a body almost totally immune to harm, having been transmuted into living stone or crystal. In-game this is represented by the 8th Edition Thousand Sons Warlord Trait 'Undying Form' that gives the Warlord a bonus to their Wounds characteristic.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The Silver Towers of Tzeentch float across the surface of a planet, held aloft by the power of its sorcerous residents and the energies of enslaved daemons. While they don't float far above the ground during a battle, they are spaceworthy and are often used as starships and Drop Ships.
  • Ouroboros: In yet another nod to Ancient Egypt, after the Horus Heresy and their fall to Chaos, the symbol of the Thousand Sons was changed to a fiery ouroboros.
  • Prophecy Twist: In the background material for the 8th Edition Codex, the Thousand Sons Magister Hasophet received a vision from Tzeentch where he achieved apotheosis after completing nine hundred and ninety-nine sacred rites. Upon completion of the final ritual, however, Hasophet was transformed into a mindless Mutalith Vortex Beast rather than the Daemon Prince he thought he would become.
  • Seers: While many followers of Tzeentch are gifted with the ability to predict the future, the Thousand Sons of the Cult of Prophesy are masters of divination, their entire existence dedicated to foreseeing the future and twisting it to their own ends.
  • Shoulder Cannon: Some Scarab Occult Terminators are equipped with hellfire missile racks. These ornate, rapid-fire missile launchers are fitted to the shoulders of the Scarab Occult's Terminator armour and explode in a burst of mystical light, doing only slightly less damage than a regular krak missile in the 8th Edition rules.
  • Space Master: Some powerful Thousand Sons have mastered the ability to fold the very fabric of reality, allowing them to travel leagues, if not from planet to planet, with a single step. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by the 'Aetherstride' Thousand Sons Warlord Trait that gives the Warlord bonuses to their movement that allow them to enter combat quicker.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Essentially how they see things in the current setting. Back in the days of the Great Crusade they dealt with their brothers' alienation of them the best they could, defying the label of "sorcerers" and doing what they could to prove their worth to humanity. Since being forced into the grasp of Chaos, they've accepted their current role and have gone all in with Chaos and the goal of destroying the Imperium.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Beyond being the victim of Tzeentch's machinations, in some accounts it was Horus who tweaked the Emperor's orders from sending the Wolves to apprehend Magnus to sending the Wolves to lay waste to Prospero, but Magnus ended up siding with Horus anyway.
  • Witch Species: By Space Marine standards. They have always been known for their large number of psykers. Sorcerers take the place of Aspiring Champions as the sergeant in Rubric Marine squads.

Ahzek Ahriman, Arch-Sorcerer of Tzeentch

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_ahriman02.png

All is not yet dust.

Formerly the Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons Legion, Ahzek Ahriman is second only to the Daemon Primarch Magnus himself in psychic might. It was Ahriman who was responsible for transforming the warriors of the Legion into their current state, his Rubric of Ahriman turning them into mindless automata. Exiled for his actions, Ahriman and his warband of Prodigal Sons wandered the galaxy for ten thousand years, plundering treasure troves of arcane lore in their quest for ultimate understanding. Obsessed with the acquisition of knowledge, Ahriman has spent millennia attempting to gain access to the fabled Black Library of the Aeldari and, although he has yet to physically enter the hidden craftworld, he has managed to astrally project his soul past its guardians, where he was able to transcribe the Tomb Labyrinthus, the most complete record of the webway's hidden pathways. As the forces of Chaos began to gather their forces for Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade, Magnus agreed to end the Arch-Sorcerer's exile and, while the two have yet to fully reconcile, Ahriman has agreed to aid his gene-father in his plans.


  • Arch-Enemy: Considered to be this by a lot of people, but the Eldar Harlequins don't appreciate his attempts at breaking into the Black Library.
  • The Archmage: Ahriman is one of the most powerful psykers in the game. He is one of only five psyker characters (Ahriman, Magnus, Eldrad, Kairos Fateweaver and Aetaos'rau'keres) whose psychic Mastery Level is 4 or more, and his Black Staff allows him to use a particular spell three times, potentially giving him seven chances to use psychic powers per psychic phase if the Warp Charge rolls are good enough. In story he's even more powerful, and is widely acknowledged as Tzeentch's greatest mortal sorcerer.
  • The Atoner: One of his primary motivations for his actions throughout the Ahriman novels is to make up for his mistake with the first Rubric. It is also implied that he feels a great deal of guilt for becoming a traitor, and part of him wishes he were still serving the Imperium.
  • Berserk Button: While he won't exactly go into World Eater levels of rage, he really doesn't take being called a pawn very well. Even if it is coming from his Primarch.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • He's lost much of the respect he once had for his Primarch, never quite being able to forgive him for initially giving them up to the Wolves.
    • Is also considered one by his brothers in the Legion, with some still very bitter about the Rubric, while others just not having respect for one they consider a traitor.
  • The Champion: He's Tzeentch's greatest mortal champion, though he himself would deny it.
  • The Chessmaster: If you meet the guy he probably already knows about you, and everything you have done and will be doing, because he probably planned it all out a hundred years before you were even born.
  • Cool Helmet: Ahriman wears a highly ornate helmet that sports three pairs of twisted horns and a third eye design on the forehead. The Arch-Sorcerer took the helm from Amon, a Thousand Sons sorcerer who was once a member of Ahriman's coven but turned against his comrade after their exile.
  • A Day in the Limelight: He has a novel trilogy dedicated to his new life right after the Rubric.
  • Death Seeker: In the third novel it is revealed that he plans to sacrifice himself in exchange for saving the Legion, in an effort to atone for his mistakes.
  • Dramatic Irony: The players are all well aware that Ahriman is Tzeentch's favorite pawn and that the God of Change considers him his greatest champion (with the Wrath of Magnus book even labelling him the "Arch Sorcerer of Tzeentch"). However the man himself firmly believes that he serves no God, and that his every action is done via his own power and will. Ironically, this makes him an even better servant of Tzeentch, since the God favors the ambitious and those who cling to hope so dearly like Ahriman; his belief that he doesn't serve is what makes him embody all the values of the God of Change.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: A notable aversion. Ahriman has somehow been untouched by the warp, for all the time he spent in the Eye and with how much he mucks about with sorcery. It could be his utter rejection of Tzeentch has been that he's been given the gift of normality as an "anti"-mutation. On the other hand, Black Legionnaire and former Thousand Son, Iskandar Khayon mentions Ahriman has a "screaming void" where his face once was despite Ahriman's own belief that he was unchanged. The Mind Screw is pretty deliberate, and it's possible that Ahriman is somehow blind to his own mutation, or that it comes in the form of appearing differently based on the viewer's preconceptions, much like Magnus and the Emperor before him.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The de facto example in the current setting.
  • Evil Virtues: His is hope of all things. Ahriman's constant belief that things can be changed for the better is what drives his every atrocity.
  • The Exile: Magnus was convinced to spare Ahriman's life by the Changer of the Ways himself but gave his wayward son the Impossible Task of achieving full understanding of Tzeentch before being allowed to return to the Planet of Sorcerers. With the Legion's assault on the Space Wolves' homeworld of Fenris, Magnus has softened Ahriman's exile somewhat with the two working together once again for the greater glory of Tzeentch and the Thousand Sons but their relationship remains strained and the Arch-Sorcerer has yet to be fully reintegrated into the Legion.
  • Fatal Flaw: Ahriman does not know when to give up and is always convinced that he can fix his mistakes and change the world for the better. This frequently gets him into trouble.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ahriman feared that the entire Legion would be destroyed by the same mutations that killed his brother.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Rubric did succeed in halting the mutations tearing the Legion apart, but at the cost of turning all the non-psyker Thousand Sons into the Rubric Marines.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Often remarked on in John French's Ahriman novels. They match the colour of his armor.
  • Kill the God: Is out to overthrow Tzeentch if possible.
  • Magic Staff: Ahriman wields The Black Staff, a powerful and ornate force staff that can sunder reality and enhances the Arch-Sorcerer's already considerable psychic abilities. How this is represented in the game changes depending on the edition with some having the Staff give Ahriman bonuses to his psychic abilities while in the 8th Edition rules it is merely a force stave with enhanced combat abilities with its psychic bolstering nature being incorporated into Ahriman's basic rules.
  • Meaningful Name: Ahriman is the Persian name for Angra Mainyu, the god of evil in Zoroastrianism.
  • Motive Decay: Used to seek knowledge for the sake of bettering humanity and helping his brothers cure themselves of the Flesh Change, now only obsessed with using it to gain power—though he'd still tell you that he aims to better the world.
    • However, he did chase after Thousand Sons Marines that Yvraine resurrected (and subsequently kicked into the Warp) in an attempt to save them as opposed to continue his attempts to capture Yvraine, suggesting that at the very least, his desire to save his Legion and his brothers is still genuine.
  • Pride: Ahriman's belief that he can fix all that he has done and outplot Tzeentch himself is at the core of his motivation. Many have called him out on his hubris, but it never stands.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Really does not like the idea of serving the Chaos Gods, which is a shame because one of them considers him their favorite servant.
  • Rage Against the Mentor:
    • During the sacking of Prospero, Magnus actually disabled much of his planet's defenses and told his men to stand down in acceptance of their fate. Ahriman called him out on this and led the defense of Tizca himself.
    • Ahriman severely overstepped his bounds in designing and casting the Rubric, even before he realized made a terrible mistake and the consequences are not going to be what he intended. Afterwards, Magnus is ready to destroy him with Ahriman ready to accept his fate to atone, but Tzeentch himself intercedes on Ahriman's behalf. Accepting the inevitable, Magnus spares Ahriman but exiles him instead.
    • Before the Siege of Fenris, Magnus and Ahriman reconciled, reaccepting one another as family, and uniting in purpose for the coming war.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Competing with Kharn for being the oldest Space Marine alive.
  • Seer: During the Great Crusade his specialty was seeing into the future. In the current setting he basically has mastery in all of the psychic arts.
  • Survivor Guilt: Hates the fact that he survived the Flesh Change, while his blood brother did not.
  • Tragic Villain: Word of God sees him in this light, noting that his desire to make things right is what makes him the character most willing to do the most horrific of things.
  • Unwitting Pawn: No matter how much he tries not to be one, in the end he ends up furthering the plans of Tzeentch one way or another.
  • Villain Protagonist: Of Exile, Sorcerer, and Unchanged, the novels of John French's Ahriman trilogy.
  • Walking the Earth: During his exile, he wandered the Eye and the galaxy at large to build up knowledge as well as his own power.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Ironic for the chosen champion of the god of fate, and he knows it.
  • You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: In a strange twist this trope is played out in a Pet the Dog sort of manner by Tzeentch of all beings. Claiming that Ahriman has done well serving as a pawn, he orders the Changeling to give Ahriman a gift that he has given no other: oblivion. Now while that may sound pretty terrible, considering this is a setting where you'll likely be serving as the plaything for the Chaos Gods even after you die, complete destruction of your existence is actually a really kind thing for the God of Change to offer. Though he later changes his mind.

    Black Legion 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blnew.png
"Let the galaxy burn!"

Who pledged his Loyalty? The Warmaster
Whom did we serve in Faith? The Warmaster
From whom did we take our name? The Warmaster
Who was denied us? The Warmaster
But whom shall we remake? The Warmaster
And who shall lead us to victory? The Warmaster
— Catechism of the Black Legion

Known as the Luna Wolves during much of the Great Crusade, the Sixteenth Legion were renamed the Sons of Horus in honour of the Primarch's victories. Fanatically loyal to their gene-father, the Legion willingly followed Horus Lupercal into damnation at the onset of the Horus Heresy and were always forefront in the fighting against the loyalist forces. Although they were almost shattered by their defeat at Terra, and the wars between the Traitor Legions within the Eye of Terror, Abaddon the Despoiler has since reforged them into the Black Legion, the largest and most powerful of the Traitor Legions.

After Abaddon rose to leadership, the Black Legion began accepting recruits from almost any origin, taking in Astartes from any Traitor Legion or Renegade Chapter as long as they declare unquestioning loyalty to the Warmaster. Originally based on the mining world of Cthonia, the Black Legion no-longer have a single home world, operating from a number of bases and fleets scattered in and around the Eye of Terror.

When Abaddon launched his thirteenth and greatest Black Crusade against the Imperium, the Black Legion once again fought at the forefront during the conflicts opening engagements. Since the destruction of the Cadia and the opening of the Great Rift, the Black Legion has appeared in countless warzones, following the designs and strategies of their Warmaster as he sets his sights on Terra itself.

See also Black Legion.


  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: The background material for the 6th and 7th Edition Black Legion Artefact, the Crucible of Lies, states that it is impossible to accurately describe it, as it appears in a different form for each person. Whether it appears as a flowing cloak or as a flame wreathed amulet, the Crucible's power remains the same, distorting reality to protect its holder from enemy blows, represented in the game as a re-roll for invulnerable saves.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Blood Angels bear a particularly strong hatred for the traitors whose leader murdered their Primarch.
  • Battlecry: Initially "For the Warmaster!", now "We are returned! Death to the False Emperor!"
  • Battle Trophy:
    • The Cloak of Conquest is a relic of the Black Legion, put together from the banners, uniforms and ornamental cloaks of those the wearer has slain in combat. The pride the wearer feels at his accomplishments will drive them to even greater feats of martial skill with each new addition, something the 8th Edition represents by granting the wearer a bonus to their Strength, Attacks and Leadership characteristics.
    • The Trophies of Slaughter are an elaborate trophy rack that the wearer has filled with the results of his victories, inspiring his followers and filling his enemies with dread. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving nearby friendly units a bonus to their Leadership, while giving their opponents a penalty to their leadership.
  • Black Knight: Not all members of the Black Legion are former Sons of Horus; some have joined from other renegade Space Marines and renounced their old loyalties, repainting their armor black to show their new allegiance.
  • City Planet: Their homeworld, Cthonia, was a hive world. It was destroyed at some point after the conclusion of the Heresy, either by Imperial forces wanting to expunge any reminder of Horus' treachery or by collapsing in on itself due to over-mining.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Black Legion, the main force of Chaos. As you may have guess, their armor is painted black and they're probably the worst of the Forces of Chaos.
  • Decapitated Army: After losing their Primarch at the climax of the Siege of Terra, the Sons of Horus immediately led the retreat, though victory may still have been possible. This became a Never Live It Down moment to the other Traitor Legions, and one of the things Abaddon's rebranding attempted to address.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Thrice-Cursed Traitors are warbands of the Black Legion who refuse to serve Abaddon the Despoiler, either forsaking all masters or remaining true to Horus alone. They disappeared into the Eye of Terror, but some have returned to either fight Abaddon for leadership or to rejoin the Black Legion. The Black Legion themselves are host to many Chaos Marines of other legions - especially the four cult legions - who wanted something more than endless slave wars in the Eye of Terror.
  • Elite Army: The Black Legion are the personal army of the Warmaster of Chaos and are unequalled amongst the mortal forces of the Dark Gods. The 6th and 7th Edition represented this with the Legion specific rule 'First Amongst Traitors' that allowed Black Legion armies to take elite units of Chosen as rank-and-file Troop choices.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Twice—first a downplayed instance when they became the Sons of Horus and switched their Legion colors from white to sea-green shortly before the Horus Heresy, and then again when Abaddon consolidated them into the Black Legion (the latter in imitation of what until then had been the iconic colors of Abaddon and his Justaerin terminators).
  • Evil Counterpart: The Black Legion has the same sort of generally elite leadership status as the Ultramarines. Also, much like the Ultramarines are the basic template for the vanilla Space Marine Codex, the Black Legion is essentially the baseline for the Chaos Space Marine Codex until 6th edition, where they gained their own supplement.
  • Extra Eyes: The artwork for Ygethmor the Deceivernote  depict the Sorcerer Lord as having two pairs of eyes on his mutated face.
  • Faceless Eye: The Eye of Horus, their symbol, against the eight-pointed star of Chaos Undivided.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Mournival (a council of four senior Captains) was designed with this in mind: Abaddon is choleric, Aximand is melancholic, Torgaddon is sanguine, Loken is phlegmatic. The Mournival later becomes unbalanced when Torgaddon and Loken are replaced by Falkus Kibre and the daemonically-possessed Grael Noctua, symbolising the Sons of Horus's fall to Chaos.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Who would have thought a bunch of hive gangers would become the most dangerous force of the 41st millennium?
  • Gang of Hats: True to their gang origins, the Black Legion is composed of different warbands with specific specialties.
    • Hounds of Abaddon - Khorne
    • Children of Torment - Slaanesh (non-affiliated with the Emperor's Children)
    • Bringers of Decay - Nurgle
    • Sons of the Cyclops - Tzeentch
    • The Tormented - Demonic Possession
    • The Oath-Broken - Cyborgs
    • Sarissan Iron Pact - Tank Goodness
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Like the Ultramarines, the Black Legion is the "baseline" army presented in their codex.
  • Meaningful Rename: The Luna Wolves were renamed the Sons of Horus when Horus was promoted to Warmaster. After the Heresy and Horus' death, Abaddon renamed the remnants to the Black Legion in order to distance themselves even further from their pre-Heresy roots, as the Luna Wolves' armor was originally white. Abaddon considers the Sons of Horus legion to be completely dead, and the Black Legion as a completely separate entity rather than a simple rebranding.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: The trial Black Legion army list for Epic: Armageddonnote  introduced the Death Wheel, a monowheel war engine designed to smash through the walls of enemy fortifications before unleashing its formidable weaponry to slaughter the troops within.
  • Not So Different: After the Horus Heresy, the Sons of Horus fell into worshipping the preserved corpse of their former godlike leader, falling into prolonged stagnation and decay. Sound familiar? Granted, unlike the Imperium they actually got out of their funk, courtesy of their new leader destroying said corpse and reorganizing them into the Black Legion, but the Imperium probably wouldn't end up so well if they applied that strategy.
  • Out of Focus: In recent days, the Black Legion has been phased out of the boxart for miniature kits in favor of the Crimson Slaughter, who had debuted with the the 6th edition starter kit and even got a supplementary codex. The Black Legion soon got a codex of their own, but the Slaughter remains the current 'example' color scheme.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • The Dark Gods are known to grant some favoured Black Legion Champions the ability to unleash sheets of Warp-fire against their enemies. The 6th and 7th Editions represented this with the Black Legion Warlord Trait 'Gift of Balefire' that gave the Warlord a flamer attack that could continue to burn in future turns.
    • The Black Legion Artefact, the Last Memory of the Yuranthos, is a small crystal that contains the essence of an alien race wiped out by uncontrolled psychic fire. In the 6th and 7th Edition rules, Chaos Sorcerers were able to tap into the crystal to unleash these flames of extermination as an extra psychic attack.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Bringers of Despair are an elite unit of Chosen Terminators who are fanatically dedicated to protecting Abaddon.
  • The Remnant: The Black Legion in particular prides itself as the heirs to Horus' rebellion.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Sons of the Eye, The True Sons and the Wolves of Horus, collectively called The Thrice-Cursed Traitors, are Black Legion warbands that went rogue due to differences in doctrine.
  • Scarred Equipment: The Oath-Broken are a Black Legion warband consisting of Heretic Astartes who have failed the Warmaster in some way, but not enough to incur Abaddon's full wrath. Due to their fall from favour, the warriors of the warband make do with battle-damaged and scavenged equipment as they fight to redeem themselves.
  • Seers: The Sons of the Cyclops are a small but influential Black Legion warband. Consisting of numerous former Thousand Sons sorcerers, the warband includes many talented diviners and seers who use their precognitive abilities to advise Abaddon so that he can unleash his forces at the right place at the most portentous time.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: The Black Legion relic Ghorisvex's Teeth is a daemon-possessed chainsword that rips apart the soul of its target, as well as their flesh. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the chainsword a chance of inflicting mortal wounds as well as its normal damage.
  • Straight for the Commander: Horus' trademark tactic was an overwhelming strike against the enemy command structure, which his legion continues to use.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: One unique quirk of the Luna Wolves' gene seed is the higher percentage of resembling Horus. "Little Horus" Aximand was the most notable example.
  • We Have Reserves: Unlike other Traitor Legions, the Black Legion actually has growing numbers, as many Space Marines defect to the Black Legion for power and advancement. In Dark Creed it's mentioned that the Black Legion outnumber the Word Bearers nearly ten to one.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: When they were the Luna Wolves, one of their specialties was minimizing civilian casualties. Following their fall to Chaos, they frequently and gleefully avert this trope.

Ezekyle Abaddon, the Despoiler, Warmaster of Chaos

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/40kabaddon_mar5_abaddon7tyerhvfsh.jpg

Horus was weak. Horus was a fool. He had the whole galaxy in his grasp and he let it slip away.

The former captain of the First Company of the 16th Legion, Ezekyle Abaddon was once one of Warmaster Horus' most trusted commanders. After Horus' death, Abaddon recovered the Warmaster's body and led his Legion in retreat into the Eye of Terror. After a period of self-imposed exile, Abaddon returned to his broken Legion, reforging them into a mighty military force and, proclaiming himself the its new Warmaster, led the renamed Black Legion in a campaign of terror that saw him become the mightiest of all the mortal champions of Chaos. As the Warmaster of Chaos, Abaddon commanders the mightiest force of traitors, heretics and daemons in the galaxy, and after ten millennia of planning, preparations and destruction he has begun his greatest assault upon the Imperium, leading his 13th Black Crusade in the destruction of the Fortress World of Cadia and splitting the Imperium in half with the Great Rift.


  • All Your Powers Combined: Uniquely bears the Mark of Chaos Ascendant, giving him the benefits of all four Chaos Gods' patronage at once.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: How does one man keep the Legions of Hell, infamous for in-fighting and backstabbing, in line? Simple: leadership, charisma, and stomping anything that dares challenge you into the dirt until the rest are too terrified to try the same. Abaddon won the right to be the champion of Chaos Undivided by slaying 3 other Chaos Champion aspirants and making it abundantly clear that he is in charge.
  • Bad Boss: Even apart from his well-known and merciless intolerance for failure, Abaddon is this. He once ordered the entirety of his Chosen retinue to fight to the death in a massive eight-day tournament, then personally murdered the winner all to seal a pact with a Bloodthirster.
  • BFS: The daemon sword Drach'nyen, which Abaddon wields one-handed.
  • Broken Pedestal: During the Great Crusade and the Heresy, Abaddon was one of Horus' greatest supporters, loving his gene-father with a fervour that bordered on worship. With the death of the Arch-Traitor however, Abaddon's anger turned his veneration into hatred at the failure of the one he so loved.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Abaddon is considered the strongest close combat character in the game, but has little else to his name. If he can make it into combat, he's guaranteed to wipe out anything he touches, but unlike other close combat monsters, he does not have any sort of movement modifiers of his own and the only one he can buy (a Land Raider) pretty much doubles his already high cost. He also lacks force multiplier skills like other special characters, and only has a twin-linked bolter to shoot with (which renders his high ballistic skill moot). 8th Edition rectified this, as Abaddon now gives nearby friendly Black Legion units rerolls to hit and immunity to morale checks, and changes to how twin-linked weapons work have upped his firepower considerably.
  • Declining Promotion: It's been speculated by Imperial sages that Abaddon has earned his ascension to daemonhood many times over, but continues to battle in the mortal realm, either because he enjoys slaughtering loyalists, or because he feels that he is the only one who can get Chaos to get it together. Aaron Dembski-Bowden once wrote in his blog that while Abaddon relies on the Chaos Gods for his own ends, he really feels no true loyalty to them after seeing what being over-reliant on Chaos did to Horus, and other sources suggest that Abaddon either wants to become a god, or carve out his own Imperium and rule it as a human.
  • Dimensional Cutter: Abaddon's Daemon Sword Drach'nyen is so powerful that it is capable of cutting through reality itself.
  • The Dreaded: If the title applies to anyone in the galaxy, it is Abaddon. His sword Drach'nyen also has this reputation with even Daemons fearing to face it.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Abaddon has a deep voice. In his brief cameo in the Dawn of War series, he's voiced by Patrick Seitz with a very deep voice and is a Guttural Growler.
  • A Father to His Men: Many in the Black Legion view him in this way, at least when it was first founded, many were drawn in by his natural charisma.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Abaddon can be quite civil, polite, and even charming when he wants to be, but cross or fail him in any way and you'll find out just what a nice guy he isn't.
  • Hero Killer: Has quite the record, but most notably he is the one who killed Sigismund, the first High Marshal of Black Templars and one of the greatest warriors in the setting. The Gathering Storm adds Creed's Colour Sergeant Kell to the list.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Despoiler has a legendary temper.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Despite being awesomely powerful in his own right, and more than willing to resort to Authority Equals Asskicking when needed (or if he's in a bad mood, or if it's a day that ends with a Y), Abaddon is overshadowed by the raw power of the daemon primarchs. However, Abaddon made himself the undisputed Warmaster because he alone has the vision, drive, and sheer willpower needed to weld the traitor legions together and take them to war against the Imperium.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Abaddon is a hilariously destructive force on the tabletop. Between his Daemon Sword, Drachn'yen, combined Marks, and Talon of Horus, there are very few units in the game which can go toe-to-toe with Abaddon and hope to come out on top. If Abaddon gets near something, that something is going to disappear in a matter of seconds.
  • Large and in Charge: Abaddon is an immense man. Some say he is larger than his own Terminator armor, and the Luna Wolves used to joke that he wore Terminator Armor because his Artificer Armor was too small.
  • Long Game: Abaddon spent ten millennia gathering materiel and setting the stage for one big push. It was eventually revealed that he was planning something called the "Crimson Path." According to the plan, destroying Cadia's pylon system would allow the eye to grow, and causing enough carnage in the Materium would allow the Eye of Terror to expand enough to engulf even Holy Terra. After the Fall of Cadia, the plan kind of worked, effectively splitting the galaxy and the Imperium in two, though Terra is still relatively safe. He's still got his work cut out for him.
  • Meaningful Name: Abaddon is a Hebrew term which appears in The Bible as a place of destruction, and in the tanakh, abaddon often appears alongside the place שאול (sheol), meaning the realm of the dead. In the New Testament Book of Revelation, an angel called Abaddon is described as the king of an army of locusts; his name is first transcribed in Greek (Revelation 9:11—"whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, The Angel of Death." (Ἀβαδδὼν), and then translated ("which in Greek means the Destroyer" (Ἀπολλύων, Apollyon))).
  • Mighty Glacier: In any edition he's in, Abaddon can annihilate almost anything in close combat and is ridiculously tough to kill thanks to all the special rules he gets. That being said, he needs to get to close combat first, and he has no movement modifiers. Being in Terminator armor doesn't help, as he needs a Land Raider to transport him; without one, even an Imperial Guardsman can outrun him. His ranged options vary but are never exceptional either.
  • Morph Weapon: The daemon sword Drach'nyen is said to be able to take on the appearance of any weapon the wielder wishes. The dread blade's current form as a great two-handed sword is the result of Abaddon's prodigious will.
  • The Mothership: Abaddon's personal vessel is the Vengeful Spirit, his legion's flagship since the Great Crusade, but his flagship is usually the Planet Killer.
  • Nemean Skinning: Abaddon wears a wolf pelt over his armor.
  • One-Hit Kill: Abaddon usually gets one attack with that daemon sword, but it's a doozy.
  • One-Man Army: Say what you will Abaddon's strategic abilities, but in hand to hand combat, he is the most dangerous thing in the entire game. Whole squads will be thrown at him and all they do is merely slow him down. The few things that are arguably stronger than Abby are Primarchs, Greater Daemons, Transcendent C'tan Shards, various forms of Titansnote  and one very, very specific and notorious Space Marine Chapter Master buildnote .
  • Patricide: Abaddon killed his real father in a "disastrous coming-of-age ritual". In a way he does it a second time, killing the clone of Horus after saying to him, "I'm not your son."
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Abaddon despises his former mentor Horus, and has sought to one-up the original archtraitor ever since the Heresy.
  • Start of Darkness: Ezekyle Abaddon saw Horus as a God and chose to follow him where ever he went. After succeeding Horus as Warmaster of Chaos, Abaddon now hates his former mentor.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Abaddon disappeared for awhile after the Heresy but came back when the Emperor's Children stirred up trouble.
  • There Can Be Only One: Abaddon killed 3 prospective Chaos champions to become undisputed Warmaster of the Black Legion.
  • Villain Respect:
    • It's acknowledged that Sigismund could have beaten him in their final duel, and it was probably only the Black Templar's advanced age that gave him an edge. More than that, he keeps the scar from the fight as a mark of respect, and ensures Sigismund's body gets back home... all the way to Holy Terra. Considering what Heretics and Traitor Marines usually do to the corpses of their enemies, this is rather exceptional.
    • Several Black Crusades prior (the Seventh, to be specific), Abaddon and his forces battled against the Blood Angels on the world of Mackan. The Black Legion roundly trounced the Blood Angels, but as he pressed on Abaddon was ambushed by Reclusiarch Thalastian Jorus and his Death Company, the Reclusiarch even managing to land a lasting wound on the Warmaster before being cut down. When the battle was over, the Black Legion desecrated all the Blood Angel corpses save Jorus and his Death Company, with Abaddon building them makeshift thrones out of the armor of those Black Legionnaires they killed before leaving.
    • Just before teleporting off the surface of Cadia, he saluted its defenders one last time. Immediately thereafter, he blew it up.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React:
    • After the Horus Heresy, the traitor forces have been holed up in the Eye, with the Imperium heavily fortifying the chokepoint of the one stable exit. This stalemate had been the status quo for nearly ten millennia, interrupted only when Abaddon has some means of getting out of the Eye and causing war to flare up when he and the Imperium clash.
    • Most recently, to keep Chaos from from overrunning real space, some Eldar desperately tried to awaken Ynnead, which sort of worked. They then and used the resulting entity's power, along with teaming up with the Adeptus Mechanicus, to resurrect Roboute Guilliman, which worked to great effect.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Coalition warfare is difficult enough even when your side doesn't have mercurial gods, egotistical nigh-invincible demigods, and rank and file troops that are almost all psychopathic lunatics who hate each other nearly as much as the enemy. Knocking heads together, and placating the ones he can't beat up, is 90% of Abaddon's job.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Talon of Horus, a power claw torn from the Warmaster's body that sports an integrated combi-bolter. It is one of the most deadly and infamous weapons in the lore as it not only killed Sanguinius but also almost killed the Emperor. Most imperial soldiers dread the Talon, with the exception of the Blood Angels, who fight even harder against the bearer of the weapon that killed their Primarch.
  • You Cloned Hitler!: Even during the days before the heresy, Abaddon was rumored to be a clone of Horus, though even those rumors paint him more as a son rather than as a duplicate. The physical and psychological differences between the two could be taken as evidence of that particular interpretation of that rumor. Regardless, it would be rather odd, considering that humans in this setting consider cloning technology as taboo, even as Chaos Marines. Abaddon himself had this reaction when he found that Fabius Bile was planning on cloning Horus shortly after the close of the Horus Heresy. Bile had already succeeded, and Clone!Horus and Abaddon were remarkably similar in appearance. Perhaps as a nod to his tabletop skills, while Horus is practically a god in close combat, Abaddon still kills Clone!Horus rather unceremoniously.
  • You Have Failed Me: Abaddon's temper is so notorious that his underlings have been known to prefer suicide to bring him bad news. Abaddon’s habit of violently showing his displeasure was even represented in his rules for the Gaiden Game Battlefleet Gothic where his ship would fire on any vessel in his fleet that used his Command Reroll and failed. If his own ship failed a reroll then it would take damage as Abaddon ordered his bodyguard to purge the ship of incompetent underlings.

Haarken Worldclaimer, Herald of the Apocalypse

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/haakan_worldclaimer.jpg
"This planet is claimed in the name of Abaddon, Despoiler of Worlds. Know that you will kneel before him, or you will burn."

One of the greatest lords of the Black Legion's Raptor Hosts, Haarken Worldclaimer is the herald of Abaddon the Despoiler who announces the doom of those worlds the Warmaster of Chaos has taken a personal interest in. Possessed of a malicious intelligence, Haarken revels in driving fear into the heart of a target world's population before personally engaging in wanton acts of bloodshed.


  • Blade on a Stick: His signature Helspear, which he plunges into the surface of a target planet to announce the coming of the Black Legion. It also is pretty handy for regular stabbing of people.
  • Javelin Thrower: The Helspear is Haarken's primary ranged weapon, the Lord of Raptors casting the daemon-touched weapon at his foes with enough force to penetrate power armour and doing as much damage as a krak grenade.
  • Meaningful Name: It's probably not a coincidence that the Herald of the Apocalypse goes by Haarken Worldclaimer.
  • Mouth of Sauron: While Abaddon is certainly capable of speaking for himself, he relies on Haarken to put planets on notice that his Legion is going to arrive in full force.
  • Stealth Expert: He is able to infiltrate the heavily guarded world of Vigilus and carry out a surprise attack against the upper spires and their nobility, even with Marneus Calgar himself commanding the defenses.
  • Voice of the Legion: As a herald, he has many tricks to pull this off, including transmitting through the speakers of his Raptors and Heldrakes, broadcasting speeches across every vox network, and just plain telepathically projecting his words into the minds of everyone on the planet.
  • Wicked Cultured: Is something of a connoisseur of terror tactics, having spent a great deal of time reading such delightful tomes as the Grimoire Nostromo by Konrad Curze, the Clotted Scrolls detailing Angron's threats, and even the Book of Magnus. The latter cost him quite a bit of sanity.

Obsidius Mallex

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/obsidius_mallex_5.jpg

The Lord of the Servants of the Abyss warband of the Black Legion, Obsidius Mallex was leading his forces against the Imperial Fleet during the opening conflict of the 13th Black Crusade until the destruction of Cadia threw his ship uncontrollably through the Warp. When his ship returned to the material universe, it reappeared within a lost Blackstone Fortress, becoming permanently melded with the xenos craft. Now Mallex leads his remaining followers in a mission to learn the secrets of the Fortress and to gain control of its immense power.


  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The leader of the enemy forces in his game, and by the far the most proficient personal combatant among them.
  • Big Bad: Mallex is the primary antagonist for the Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress Gaiden Game. While the Fortress itself is mostly automated and just trying to defend itself, he's actively out for the blood of the explorers.
  • Drop the Hammer: His main weapon is a Chaos-corrupted Thunder Hammer.
  • The Remnant: His warband's ship, the Impaler, actually crashed into the Blackstone Fortress where he dwells many years ago, and attrition from the fortress's own defenses picked off many of the survivors. By the time the game is set, the Servants of the Abyss have been reduced to just a handful of Chaos Marines forming Mallex's honor guard, with traitor guardsmen and beastmen forming the bulk of its forces.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Since his ship was crippled and merged with the Blackstone Fortress, he can't actually get out without either finding the fortress's own secrets or stealing an unlucky explorer's ship. Not that he necessarily wants to.

    Word Bearers 
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"Witness the glory of Chaos!"

All I ever wanted was the truth. Remember those words as you read the ones that follow. I never set out to topple my father's kingdom of lies from a sense of misplaced pride. I never wanted to bleed the species to its marrow, reaving half the galaxy clean of human life in this bitter crusade. I never desired any of this, though I know the reasons for which it must be done. But all I ever wanted was the truth..
— The opening lines of the Book of Lorgar

The pious Word Bearers of the Seventeenth Legion were the first Astartes to fall to Chaos, when the Emperor's rebuke of their primarch Lorgar Aurelian led to a crisis of faith. The Chaos Gods provided a new focus for their worship, and so the Word Bearers subtly corrupted their fellow Legionnaires, sowing the seeds of the Horus Heresy. The Word Bearers worship the Ruinous Powers as a pantheon, and their Dark Apostles subjugate world after world to build hideous monuments to the glory of Chaos in a twisted parody of the Imperial faith. Their pre-Heresy homeworld was Colchis, and currently they are based both on the Daemon World of Sicarius in the Eye of Terror and the Forge World of Ghalmek in the Maelstrom.

See also Word Bearers.


  • Arch-Enemy: The Ultramarines. Lorgar was always jealous of the Emperor's praise of Guilliman's achievements, and the Word Bearers' campaign against the Ultramarines during the Heresy has never been forgiven.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Fond of quoting Lorgar's writings, and they often inscribe passages from it on their armor.
  • Battlecry: They like to scream passages from the Book of Lorgar as they charge into combat.
  • Carry a Big Stick: The Word Bearer relic, the Cursed Crozius, was one of the first crozius arcanum to be created and was also the first to be used to kill a loyalist Chaplain. In the 8th Edition rules, this profane weapon is far more powerful than the power mauls wielded by regular Dark Apostles as it grants the bearer the knowledge of how best to slay those still loyal to the Emperor.
  • Church Militant: Extreme examples of both "church" and "militant".
  • Cult: Word Bearers are often found as individuals detached to minister to mobs of Chaos cultists, who serve as both congregation and Cannon Fodder at the same time.
  • Evil Counterpart: While not related to a founding legion, the Word Bearers' zeal is matched only by that of the Black Templars.
  • Irony:
    • They and their Primarch were among the Emperor's most zealous servants, champions of the Imperial Cult of the God Emperor and the first to have Chaplains in their ranks. And yet, they were also the first to fall to Chaos — partially because of the man they so revered.
    • By the Imperium's modern standards, the Word Bearers would be models of faith and piety, admirable followers of the Imperial Cult and stalwart worshippers of the Emperor's divinity. These same traits were what drove them apart from the Emperor to begin with and caused their fall to Chaos, hence the Imperium now considering them heretics of the worst sort despite them having fallen for believing the exact same things modern Imperials do.
    • Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, wrote the Lectitio Divinitatus before his fall to Chaos. The book postulated the worship of the Emperor of Mankind as a divine being, and eventually became the holy book of the Imperium of Man's state religion. The fact that the holy book of the Imperium of Man being originally written down by an arch-heretic is lost to the modern Imperium.
  • Kneel Before Zod: During the Great Crusade, Lorgar had the Word Bearers tear down the idols of planets they conquered for the nascent Imperium, forcing the denizens to erect symbols of the Emperor instead and pledge themselves to him. After the Emperor put a stop to the practice, the Word Bearers continued to force conquered planets to tear down their idols... and erect icons to Chaos instead. They continue this practice into the present day.
  • Religion of Evil: While most Chaos Marines worship the Ruinous Powers, the Word Bearers are much more organized in the manner they practice it and much more enthusiastic about spreading that devotion to others.
  • Sacred Scripture: The Word Bearers consider the Book of Lorgar to be the most sacred text of their profane faith with their Dark Apostle leaders reading passages from the Book before and during battle to inspire the warriors of the Legion. Every Word Bearer is expected to have read the multiple volumes of the Book of Lorgar with many copying passages from it onto their armour or skin.
  • Summon Magic: As the Legion with the most experience with the magics of the Warp, the Word Bearers have become experts in the summoning of daemons into the Material Universe. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Dark Pact' Stratagem that gives a Word Bearer character using a 'Daemonic Ritual' to summon daemons a re-roll to their summoning dice and allows them to ignore the risks associated with the attempt.
  • Warrior Monk: While many of the Traitor Legions discarded the monk-like practices of the Loyalist marines, the Word Bearers continue to do so, only dedicated to supplication of the Ruinous Powers rather than veneration of the God-Emperor.

    Alpha Legion 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/newalphalegion.png
"For the Emperor!"

They know where you are. They know your every strength and weakness. They prepare for your actions before you even conceive of them. How can you ever hope to stop them?
— Excerpt from the interrogation of a posthumously convicted member of a subversive group

The last of the twenty original Space Marine Legions, the Alpha Legion is by far the most mysterious, so that not even its original homeworld is known. Its primarchs Alpharius and Omegon created a highly insular force that operated as much as a paramilitary organization as an army, disciplined enough to withstand any decapitation attempt and able to lead simultaneous multifaceted assaults like the mythical hydra of old. The Alpha Legion's motive for siding with Horus remains unclear, and they do not show the same dedication to Chaos as other renegades.


  • Aloof Ally: Was this to the other Legions during the Great Crusade and continued this trend during the Horus Heresy. Nobody could understand what they were thinking, with every attempt at controlling their action failing.
  • Ambiguous Situation: There are Chaos traitors, normal Rogue traitors, loyalists to the Emperor, and loyalists to the Imperium as a whole among their ranks. Each band plays by its own rules and beliefs and no one outside the Legion know which bands serve who. It's unknown if even individual bands know which of their members are corrupted or not. Many of the loyalist elements don't reveal that they're loyalist leading them to be universally be considered traitors.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Alpha Legion enjoy pitting their unorthodox tactics against the Ultramarines' Codex Astartes, but are more an arch-foe of the Inquisition than any conventional force.
  • Attention Whore: Their one Fatal Flaw that ends up compromising many of their plans and schemes is the need to be recognized and feared and make their enemies aware it was them who were behind it all.
  • Battlecry: "For the Emperor!" and other Imperial slogans. The Imperials themselves believe this to be done as mockery and attempting to get Imperial forces to hesitate before the attack, but given their ambiguous loyalties, the possibility exists that the cry is genuine.
  • Catchphrase: "I am Alpharius."
  • The Chessmaster: The Alpha Legion is known for elaborate covert campaigns, misdirection, and propaganda.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Alpha Legion only commit to open battle after they've made sure the deck is stacked. They like using spies, double agents and False Flag Operations to screw with their opponents' heads. They will train cultist cells years in advance and direct them to sabotage defences or divert military resources before they strike. They will even mimic their opponents' war-cries to get them to hesitate, with often fatal results for the unfortunate foes. Most other Astartes will beat the Alphas if they catch them in the open, but of course, the Alphas scheme to make sure this possibility is minimal, and they can still tie up their loose ends and walk away without big losses if they fail anyway. During the Horus Heresy, the Ultramarines' clashes with the Alphas on Eskrador led them to inflict a string of crushing and frustrating defeats on Guilliman's legion, inflicting little damage but distracting them from the battle on Terra and eventually causing them to Rage Quit... with an orbital bombardment of the planet. "I have no interest in battling so dishonourable a foe", indeed.
    • The Alpha Legion are unique among both loyalist and heretic Astartes in that their initiation rites are passed by squads as opposed to by individual aspirants. This is not the legion for foolhardy heroics and battle-brother rivalries: you either learn to fight as a team or you don't get to fight at all.
    • The Alpha Legion also fight with something rather resembling modern fireteam tactics, uniquely among the Astartes, along with more conventional tactics derived from The Thirty-Six Stratagems in conjunction with stealth and the unique abilities of the Astartes (their superhuman strength, speed, stamina and senses).
  • Confusion Fu: Like the Night Lords, the Alpha Legion understands the value of psychological warfare. Unlike the Night Lords, they are not so much focused on spreading terror as simply keeping the enemy perpetually off-balance, confused, and unable to anticipate or coordinate effectively.
  • Covert Group: They prefer to operate clandestinely, without those targeted even aware they were behind it, and will rally underground Chaos cults and Unwitting Pawns to this purpose.
  • Cult: The Alpha Legion makes extensive use of cultists as part of their guerrilla war against the Imperium. Many other Chaos Space Marines also do this, but the Alpha Legion is special for actually training their cultists, rather than employing them as cannon fodder.
  • Decapitated Army: Defied. The way Alpha Legion works, each Marine is a capable soldier and leader, and losing their commander, even their Primarch (if he actually died) is considered nothing. The Ultramarines found out the hard way, and were beaten so hard that Guilliman had to Rage Quit. Fittingly, their symbol is a Hydra; cut off one head, and another will take its place.
  • Depending on the Artist: The color scheme of the Alpha Legion tends to vary from codex to codex, and has been been blue, purple, green, or some mixture of the above. This has been noted in the fluff, with various groups utterly confused since there is no indication of why the Legion has such diverse appearances.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: The Alphas are known for using disguise and double agents, sometimes to mind-bending extremes.
    • On a larger level, this also describes their position in the wider fluff. More than a few Chaos Marines are suspicious of their real motives and a few encounters with them have led to beneficial results for the Imperium, albeit unexpectedly. Some novels — notably Sons of the Hydra — have shown Alpha Legion warbands who are actually still loyal to the Emperor (if not the Imperium He left behind), and interpret their attacks on the Imperium as "tests" to see if its defenders are worthy to serve His will.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Alpha Legion have been known to, at times, pose as loyalist Astartes. Either this is to gain the confidence of some other local Imperial institution for gathering intelligence or feeding them bad data, an attempt to get resources meant for others diverted to them, or to conduct a False Flag Operation. The Alpha Legion will milk this trope for every dirty trick they can.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Their Coils of the Hydra Rite of War gives the Alpha Legion the ability to use any other Legion's non-unique special units. They keep all equipment and special rules, but switch out their parent Legion's special rules for the Alpha Legion's rules. You get your choice of trolling: Tank Hunter Tyrant Siege Terminators, Counter Attack Grave Wardens, Infiltrating Pyroclasts. All possible.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Are they irredeemably corrupted? Or secretly The Mole for the Imperium? Where do they keep their forces between the Black Crusades? Why don't they operate from the Eye of Terror? Is their Primarch still alive, or not? There are a LOT of unknowns with regards to the Alpha Legion.
    • Sons of the Hydra and Shroud of Night hint that some sort of breakdown has happened in-between the Horus Heresy and after, and that each warband is really just doing their own thing, all the while paying lip service to a nebulous big "plan" laid out by their Primarch. This is why we see out-and-out nutjobs as portrayed in Dawn of War, but at the same time there are also non-corrupted Alpha Legion warbands out there. However due to their cell organization, how one warband interprets their Legion's mission doesn't necessarily align with that of another Alpha Legion cell, even within the same sector.
  • Evil Counterpart: Their secrecy, especially the question if they are even corrupted after all, is quite similar to that of the Dark Angels.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Both the Imperium and Horus found out that the Alpha Legion were not something that they could order around. Horus especially regretted giving them as much free reign as he did, since they were essentially completely out of his control by the time he noticed how much they were doing without his knowledge.
  • Expy: The Alpha Legion are the MACV-SOG meets Anonymous.
  • Fake Defector / Reverse Mole: In the most twisted way possible... maybe.
  • Field Promotion: If the Warlord of an Alpha Legion army is slain, another character can immediately take his place, and this can be done as long as there are characters to do it with. No Slay the Warlord Victory Points for the opponent until every last sergeant on the board is dead.
  • I Am Spartacus:
    • The Alpha Legion's members shape their appearance to that of their Primarch and adopt his identity. This combined with the fact that Alpharius secretly had an identical twin brother casts doubts on the Imperium's claims of killing him. Nobody, not even anybody in the Alpha Legion itself, really knows who the real Alpharius is; it's even possible that the entire legion all believe that they are Alpharius.
    • There is a short story focused on an Inquisitor Lord hunting down an Alpha Legionaire named Phocron who had organized cults and double agents to do some catastrophic damage to their part of the Imperium over a century or so. Turns out, Phocron was just an alias shared by a whole warband's worth of Space Marines. And it was all part of a plot designed to take the Inquisitor Lord's identity from the start.
    • The Legion is able to do this because Alpharius and Omegon were both very short for Primarchs; while their brothers are often twice the height of even normal astartes (especially Magnus), Alpharius and Omegon were barely a head taller than the marines they led. This meant that the taller of the legionnaires could pass for their Primarch without any additional assistance.
    • The novel Shroud Of Night shows that the Legion's infamous warcry is just another of their attempts at misdirection. For instance, Kassar declares himself to be Alpharius whenever he wishes to get the attention of a particular warrior.
  • Master of All: Even among the Astartes. Every Alpha Legion marine is taught how to use all Astartes equipment, instead of picking out specialists; every Alpha Legion marine is fully capable in assault, heavy weapons, fast attack, trained in the use of Terminator armour, master of stealth and psychology and most crucially, a capable leader - this makes them immune to the old Decapitated Army trope.
  • The Mole: Regardless of whether or not the Alpha Legion is a Reverse Mole for the Imperium, they do commonly use moles as part of their modus operandi of cult operation and misdirection. With proper training and careful manipulation by very discrete and well-organized cults in Imperial society, the Alpha Legion often gets people loyal to their cause well positioned in Imperial administrations. By this method, they can carefully subvert Imperial operations for far longer than the Inquisition would normally take to root them out, doing long term damage all the while.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Aside from the obvious Christian symbolism, In-Universe the name Alpha means that the Legion actually has no name, since Alpha was simply a designation for the testing group of a Legion's first 1000 implanted soldiers.
    • Before their official joining of the Emperor's forces, they were referred to as the "Ghost Legion" since members were active under disguise as other Legion soldiers or with unmarked armor.
    • Being the 20th Legion (officially designated using the Roman numeral XX) makes the "double cross" pretty evocative of their purpose and doctrine, though being "just" a double cross doesn't quite measure up. It also serves as a Historical In-Joke, as British intelligence used a similarly designated system during World War II to produce double agents.
  • The Men in Black: The Alpha Legion served as wet work Astartes during the Great Crusade, created in secrecy for missions that involved things like assassination, abduction, espionage, sabotage and artifact recovery. They often wore black power armour devoid of legion markings or wearing those of other legions. Yes, even the Alpha Legion had their own black ops division.
  • Motive Decay: After ten thousand years, and combined with the legion's cell structure, there's no guarantee that whatever original agenda the legion had is still being followed by all of it. It is strengthened by the appearances of Lord Bale and Firaeveus Carron in the Dawn of War video games. Both of them use very generic and unsophisticated Chaos tactics and appear to be even more insane than other Chaos Lords.
  • Mysterious Past: Going back to the Great Crusade, nobody knows where they come from, and as far as anybody knows all of a sudden an entire Legion popped out of nowhere. Due to the Emperor actively suppressing any information on them and evidence indicating that they were active well before officially appearing has led to much speculation as to what their true purpose was.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Alpha Legion is ultra secretive, has a mysterious MO, operates in multiple worlds, answers to an invisible leadership and anyone could be a member.
  • Noble Demon: Appeared to secretly be this to the Loyalists during the Horus Heresy. Since they were secretly aiding the Loyalists and some of their actions seemed to be random acts of mercy to the Emperor's forces.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Alpha Legion holds as a doctrine that resources should always be used to their fullest potential. They tend to avoid the We Have Reserves tactics with the sycophantic Chaos Cultists that other Traitor Legions are prone to, if only because that would be extremely wasteful and they can find better uses for them as guerrilla fighters and agents. That said, victory is ultimately the most important thing, and they will sacrifice pawns if the value of the objective clearly outweighs that of the asset.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: The Inquisition has declared the Alpha Legion wiped out on three separate occasions.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Alpha Legion Marines' armor is commonly marked with reptilian scale patterns, in keeping with the symbology of the hydra that forms their Legion symbol.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Roughly anything about them besides general knowledge. Though this is both a natural trope and an Enforced Trope, since their flavor heavily relies on secrecy and misinformation.
  • The Spy Master: The Alpha Legion holds knowledge and intelligence gathering as one of its principle tenants. To facilitate this, they create vast spy networks using both cults and indoctrinated agents to find whatever secrets and information.
  • Spy Speak: The Legion uses a coded form of communication called "Serpenta" which mixes feigned conversation and body language, allowing legionnaires to talk secretly among themselves while under surveillance.
  • Stealth Expert: The highly deceitful warriors of the Alpha Legion are experts at misdirection, covert operations and deception. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Hidden in Plain Sight' Legion Trait (that makes Alpha Legion models harder to hit) and the 'Forward Operatives' Alpha Legion Stratagem (which allows Alpha Legion units to infiltrate the battlefield during deployment).
  • Strategy Versus Tactics: Alpha Legion doctrine heavily emphasises the former, giving its individual squads leeway to take initiative or break with battle doctrine if a greater overall objective can be obtained. They also almost never give battle without a thorough ground-game in place.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Much of what is currently known about the Alpha Legion came from an Inquisitor Kravin, who disappeared after being accused of consorting with heretics by a colleague. If he was indeed an Alpha Legion infiltrator, this raises the question of what information about them, if any, is still reliable.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The Alpha Legion trained their Marines to be able to take initiative and improvise in the field if a plan begun falling apart, and to disregard command structures if necessary. The doctrine went that flexibility beat structure and that as long as the overall objective was still being pursued the minutiae were disposable.

Other notable Heretic Astartes warbands:

    Fallen Angels 
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"You stand before this brotherhood as a renegade and a traitor. Your actions have brought shame on the Primarch and on the Unforgiven. Your suffering shall be but a beginning to your penance and your screams shall be the harbinger of your contrition."
— Dark Angels Interrogator-Chaplain Uzrael to an unnamed member of the Fallen

The Fallen Angels, often known simply as the Fallen, are elements of the Dark Angels who followed Luther, the Legion's corrupted second-in-command, into treachery. The battle between the Loyalist and Traitor Dark Angels resulted in the destruction of their home world of Caliban by a massive warp rift that also scattered the surviving Fallen Dark Angels across time and space. In the millennia since the destruction of Caliban, the Fallen have developed into a diverse group with the most corrupted forming cult cells or warbands that attempt to carve out empires, while others sincerely believe that it was the Dark Angels who are the real traitors. Many others sell their services as amoral mercenaries or have simply retreated into the most secluded corners of the to live out their lives away from persecution. Whatever their attitude may be, the Dark Angels have made it their mission to scour the galaxy for their former kin, seeking to hide their shame and restore the honour of their Legion.

The first rules for the Fallen were included in the appendix of the 2nd Edition Codex: Chaos. Since their introduction, the Fallen have received rules a number of times, usually based on Chaos Space Marine Veteran/Chosen squads, most notably in the digital only Dataslate: Cypher for 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000. Gathering Storm III: Rise of the Primarch, the final sourcebook released for 7th Edition, saw the Fallen officially become the Fallen Angels sub-factionnote . The 8th Edition rules for Cypher and the Fallen are included in Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines where they have both the Imperium and Chaos Faction Keywords.


  • Ambiguously Evil: Are The Fallen irredeemably corrupt? Atoners who work to redeem themselves in secret? Unwitting Pawns of Chaos? Or just disorganized wanderers who each have their own motivations and agendas?
  • Ambiguous Situation: Like the Alpha Legion, there are Chaos corrupted traitors, normal uncorrupted traitors, loyalists to the Emperor's original intentions, and loyalists to the Imperium as a whole within their ranks. Many members, whether loyalist or traitor, are also vastly uninformed or misinformed about what happened when Luther betrayed the Imperium with many other members intentionally lying about what happened. This has led to the Dark Angels as a whole just declaring them all heretics because it's easier for them to rationalize.
  • Arch-Enemy: To the Dark Angels, and the feeling is very much reciprocated.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Dark Angels, and quite literally, as they are the result of the original Dark Angels Legion fracturing. It is one of the Dark Angels' greatest shames.
  • No, You: Some Fallen have turned the Dark Angels' accusation of treason right back around, arguing that the rest of the legion had dragged its feet when responding to the Horus Heresy, almost as though Lion El'Jonson was stalling to see who would win it.
  • Non-Human Head: The Fallen Daemon Prince Marbas sports the head of a lion of Caliban. The Unforgiven view this mutation as a mockery of their lost homeworld and their missing Primarch.
  • Palette Swap: The most common way for players to represent the Fallen on the tabletop is to use regular Dark Angel and/or Chaos Marine models painted in the pre-Heresy colour scheme of the Dark Angels, with even the Fallen models released in 2017 simply being the Dark Angels veteran squad painted black instead of dark green. Some players Subvert this however by combining Dark Angel, Chaos Marine and Forge World Horus Heresy era model parts to create their own bespoke Fallen models.
  • Retcon: The Fallen were originally said to have turned to Chaos, yet recent stories have shown that not all of them did so.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: A few Fallen want nothing to do with the secret war within the Dark Angels, and simply try to survive on their own as best they can as mercenaries, community leaders or hermits. To the loyalist Dark Angels, this isn't an option.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Literally. The Fallen use the Dark Angels' original black color scheme, and those who haven't fallen to Chaos still use the chapter's insignia and other Imperial symbolism.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Everything related to them is ambiguous at best, contradictory at worst.

Luther

Once a member of the feudal knights known as the Order, it was Luther who found Lion El'Jonson and taught him the ways of humanity. The two mighty warriors became fast friends but there was always a seed of jealousy within Luther, and this was nurtured further when Jonson was named Supreme Grand Master of the Order. After the Emperor came to Caliban and gave Jonson command of the 1st Legion of Astartes, Luther was partially augmented and became Lion's second in command but was relegated to garrison duty on Caliban. Luther became increasingly resentful of his friend and would eventually lead his men into corruption and rebellion. When the two finally faced each other in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, Luther and Lion fought as their world was torn apart around them. When the Dark Angels finally landed on what was left of Calaban, they found Luther an insane wreck and imprisoned him in a stasis-cell deep within what would become known as the Rock. Luther languished in his cell for ten millennia until, after the opening of the Great Rift and the assault of the Fallen Daemon Prince Marbas on the Rock, the cell was found to be empty.


  • Green-Eyed Monster: Luther gradually became jealous of Lion El'Jonson outpacing him in everything he did and overshadowing him in the Order, and this only got worse after they became Dark Angels.
  • Mad Oracle: Each Grand Master of the Dark Angels consults Luther for intelligence, as amid the broken man's ravings are occasional moments of lucidity, descriptions of events in the past and future that have led the Dark Angels to recover artifacts or the Fallen. He is even referred to as the Dark Oracle.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After striking down Lion, Luther realized the extent of his betrayal and collapsed in tears.
  • Start of Darkness: The exact detail of Luther's fall is unknown, but it seems that it was due to feeling betrayed by Lion El'Jonson as he was left on Caliban while the Lion got all the glory of the Great Crusade, and also due to corruption from some tomes of eldritch lore he read.

Cypher, Lord of the Fallen

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Flame, hammer, and blood - so is meteoric iron worked, so were the Heavenfall Blades tempered. So too shall I test the Unforgiven.

The most notorious of the Fallen, the individual known only as Cypher is one of the most wanted men in the galaxy, the Dark Angels and their successors hunting him with a burning hatred. Named after a highly respected position within the Order of pre-Imperial Caliban, little is known for certain about the mysterious Cypher, rumours of his presence stretch from one side of the galaxy to another and, although he rarely instigates violence himself, anarchy and bloodshed are said to follow in his wake. Cypher has fought for both the forces of Chaos and the Imperium many times over the millennia, and even accompanied the reborn Primarch Roboute Guilliman on his Terran Crusade, but his true motives and ultimate goal remain a mystery to all, even the other Fallen. The forces of the Unforgiven have captured Cypher on several occasions in their efforts to halt his inscrutable agenda, but the man has displayed a supernatural ability to vanish from confinement, forcing the hunt to begin again.


  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Before the Necrons got their first proper codex, Cypher wielded a C'tan phase blade in close combat. Once it was revealed that the C'tan were the Necrons' dread masters, the knife disappeared, with the explanation that Cypher tried using it against one only to have the blade be absorbed into the C'tan's "skin."
  • Berserk Button: Cypher is the most hated of the Fallen, and any sighting of him will bring the Deathwing and Ravenwing in full force to try to apphrehend him.
  • The Dreaded: As much as the Dark Angels would like to deny it, their hate of Cypher is matched by their fear of him, mainly because they have no idea whether his long-term plan is to try to redeem the chapter or destroy it and whether or not he's going to reveal the chapter's dark secrets. They dearly want to kill him before he gets the chance to do anything.
  • Doom Magnet: Wherever Cypher shows up, a bloody, violent conflict will soon follow, whether it be members of the Fallen, other agents of Chaos, or even Imperial or xenos forces.
  • Escape Artist: Cypher has an almost supernatural knack for eluding capture, and has slipped through the fingers of both Dark Angels and other Imperial forces on multiple occasions. In-game, he has a special rule that basically says "if he's removed as a casualty, he's either been captured alive or escaped" depending on the circumstances.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: Cypher constantly bounces back and forth between adversary and ally to Imperial forces in pursuit of whatever overall agenda he's after. In-game, Cypher can play as an HQ choice for multiple Imperial factions (except the Dark Angels) or Chaos Space Marines, but can only take a formation given in his specific rules if he's played with Chaos.
  • Follow the Leader: In-universe there's no shortage of gunslingers who put on a cowl, declare themselves Cypher, and try to stir up trouble for Imperial authorities.
  • Good All Along: There's nothing decisive, but it's worth noting that of all the characters and factions on this page, only Cypher and the squads of Fallen Angels he leads share the "And They Shall Know No Fear" special rule with loyalist Space Marines. Gathering Storm possibly confirms this, as he and some other Fallen have joined up with Roboute Guillimannote  and pledged to fight alongside him in the 13th Black Crusade.
  • Guns Akimbo: Cypher uses a bolt pistol and plasma pistol, both of ancient design.
  • The Gunslinger: Cypher's skill with his pistols is legendary, with one of his more renowned feats being gunning down one of Abaddon's Terminator bodyguards before the Warmaster could even register what had happened. In all the editions of the game that he has appeared in, Cypher has had the maximum possible Ballistic Skill and often received special rules and abilities that further increased his firepower.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Supremely so. At the close of the 41st millennium, the most the Dark Angels can say is that Cypher is moving in on Holy Terra, and the Fallen believe that their long purgatory is coming to an end.
  • I Need You Stronger: As theorized by the Grand Master of the Angels of Vengeance:
    I know not why, but I believe Cypher is testing us, seeking always to take our measure, to push us beyond our boundaries. Those found wanting do not live long.
  • In the Hood: Cypher always wears a hood that hides his features and protects his identity. Some background material mentions that this dates back to the pre-Heresy position of Lord Cypher, which was a high ranking position within the Order of Caliban who would enforce the traditions of the warrior brotherhood. When taking up the position, each new Lord Cypher renounced his former name and position to remain anonymous so that he could embody the laws and customs of the Order.
  • Not So Stoic: Cypher loses his composure when Guilliman orders his arrest right before he is able to bring his sword into the Emperor's chambers.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Lord Cypher" is actually a title given to the keeper of secrets from the days of The Order, a council of knights on Caliban that pre-dates the formation of the Dark Angels legion.
  • Ornamental Weapon: He carries a large sword that is certainly significant to the Dark Angels, but has never been seen using it. His rules specifically say that he can't use the sword in the assault phase, but it does grant him special rules. As of Gathering Storm Pt. 3, it's noted that while a revived Guilliman does not know much about Cypher, besides the fact that he's wearing the Dark Angels original colors, he does recognize the sword as an ill omen, and immediately orders Cypher and the Fallen's arrest by the Imperial Custodes upon arriving at the entrance to the Emperor's chambers rather than let Cypher approach the Emperor with the sword.
  • Rebel Leader: The Dark Angels strongly suspect that Cypher is the "Voice of the Emperor" that stirred up sedition prior to the 13th Black Crusade, as well as a member of the Ur-Council of Nova Terra when the Imperium was split in two during the 35th millennium.
  • Start of Darkness: If the details of Luther's fall are unknown, the mystery surrounding Cypher's fall and motives goes Up to Eleven. Confusing the matter even further is that Cypher occasionally acts to the Dark Angels' benefit.
  • Wild Card: Massively so. Cypher's so ridiculously enigmatic that in-canon, for every story of him aiding Chaos to destroy an Imperial world, there's others where he's the savior.

    Crimson Slaughter 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_01.png

Scour the planet, brothers! Cleanse it with the blood of men!

The Crimson Sabres were once considered to be exceptional examples of loyalist Astartes, but after their purge of a cult on the jungle planet of Umidia turned into the genocide of the entire population, the Chapter became haunted by the ghosts and voices of those they had murdered. Driven to paranoid madness, the Chapter continued their butchery on nearby worlds, discovering in the process that their torment was temporarily eased during acts of carnage. While they initially tried to limit their slaughter to the enemies of the Imperium, the increasing difficulty of this led to the Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon leading his forces into the Eye of Terror so that they could either drown the voices in the blood of traitors or die a glorious death. When the Chapter emerged from that tainted region of space, however, they had been reborn as the Crimson Slaughter and had fully embraced the Dark Gods.

As a Chapter of the mysterious Thirteenth Founding, also known as the Dark Founding, the Primarch of the Crimson Sabres is unknown. The Chapter was originally based on the world of Rhoghon until it was destroyed during a daemonic incursion. Since they embraced the Chaos Gods, they have been based on the space hulk Lost Hope.

Introduced for the 6th Edition of Warhammer 40,000, the Crimson Slaughter were included in the Dark Vengeance box set that served as the starter set for both the 6th and 7th Editions of the game. The warband received their own codex supplement during 6th Editionnote  that expanded their rules and background. The Crimson Slaughter also served as the antagonists 2015 board game Assassinorum: Execution Force. In 8th Edition, the Crimson Slaughter no longer have their own warband specific rules, instead using the rules for generic Renegade Chapters in the Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines book, with extra rules released in the Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Ablaze campaign book.


  • All of the Other Reindeer: Towards the end of their existence, the Crimson Sabres had become rather unpopular with the Imperium for their zealotry and self-isolation. When the Sabres joined the fateful 'battle' at Umidia, every other Astartes chapter involved immediately withdrew their support, refusing to fight alongside them.
  • Arch-Enemy: They have a particular enmity for the Dark Angels that predates the Crimson Sabres' fall from grace.
  • Battlecry: "Take from them everything. Leave behind only corpses."
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: When the Crimson Sabres arrived at the world of Umidia, they found what they assumed was a cult pervading the planet. There wasn't one; the chapter's perceptions were being altered by a Lord of Change, and they purged the entire planet before they realized what had happened. They started Hearing Voices not long after that, and their search for the 'real' cult led to them also slaughtering the population of Udimia's neighboring planet, Demetra. By that point, the Imperium had declared them Excommunicate Traitoris.
  • The Dreaded: The Crimson Slaughter has become this in their own codex. While they're really no worse than any other Chaos army, what separates them is that the Slaughter are truly haunted and this haunting leads to poltergeist effects in their vicinity, which scares the hell out of their enemies.
  • Hearing Voices: The screams of their past victims echo endlessly in their heads, but can be temporarily silenced through acts of wanton butchery.
  • Loners Are Freaks: The Crimson Sabres were antisocial to a fault, which made them unpopular with Imperial forces they fought beside.
  • Meaningful Rename: Upon their return from the Eye of Terror, the Crimson Sabres had rebranded themselves as the Crimson Slaughter.
  • Poltergeist: During battle, the voices that haunt the Crimson Slaughter cause malevolent poltergeist activity amongst the enemy ranks, filling vox-channels with ominous whispers and causing inanimate objects to ooze blood or float around as if manipulated by invisible hands.
  • Retcon: Their supplement both expanded upon and altered the Crimson Sabres' backstory, turning a relatively recent curse by the blood god into a tale of daemonic manipulation spanning thousands of years, seemingly lifted straight from the Soul Drinkers novels.
  • Seers: The 6th and 7th Edition Crimson Slaughter Codex Supplement included the artefact known as the Balestar of Mannon. This powerful relic granted the Chaos Sorcerer who wore it visions of the future so that he could guide his fellows along the twisted paths of Chaos. In-game the Balestar gave the wearer a Divination psychic power in addition to his normal powers.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Not long after the Crimson Slaughter's debut in the 6th edition starter set, they got their own supplementary codex, and the Black Legion found itself getting phased out of the boxart in favor of the newcomers.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: The Sabres' initial atrocities were the result of daemonic manipulation, but the Imperium declared them Excommunicate Traitoris regardless. The chapter's attempt to invoke Death Equals Redemption by entering the Eye of Terror on a suicidal penance-crusade instead led to despair, resentment and corruption.
  • Third Eye: Draznicht, Kranon's most trusted lieutenant and champion of the Chosen unit known as the Ravagers, has a third eye in the centre of his forehead that grants him limited prophetic abilities.

Kranon the Relentless

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kranon_4658.png

I see fear in their eyes, right before they die. I see shock as they realise too late what it is to pit their pitiful strength against true power.

When Sevastus Kranon led the bloodstained and excommunicated Crimson Sabres into the Eye of Terror, he intended for the Chapter to martyr themselves as penance for their sins. However, the relentless violence of their crusade and the corrupting effect of the Eye led to the Chapter Master and many of his men accepting their fall and inevitable corruption. Now known as Kranon the Relentless, he leads the Crimson Slaughter in devastating assaults against innocent worlds, both to silence the voices that drive him and his Chapter to madness and to seek out the key to finally ending their curse once and for all. While he resents the use of his forces as cannon fodder during the Diamor Campaign, Kranon still fights at the forefront of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade and fought on Cadia before its fall.


  • BFS: Kranon's Warp-enchanted weapon, the Blade of the Relentless, is longer than he is tall.
  • Cain and Abel: His biological brother, Sevarion, was one of the Crimson Sabres who spoke out against the chapter's fall from grace. Instead of killing him, Sevastus locked him in a cell until the curse destroyed his sanity, and then interred him inside a Helbrute dreadnought.
  • Evolving Weapon: The Blade of the Relentless feeds upon the blood and souls of those it kills during battle. At the beginning of a battle the Blade is no more powerful than any other power sword but if enough foes fall before its might, it is capable of cutting through any armour and killing with the slightest scratch.
  • Find the Cure!: Kranon continually seeks the Hellfire Stone, a daemonic altar which, when anointed with the blood of a Human Sacrifice, will unleash a Khornate daemon into realspace and also permanently silence the voices tormenting the Crimson Slaughter. The death and destruction his warband and their allies cause during this search is just part of the process.
  • Horn Attack: Kranon uses The Slaughterer's Horns on his helmet to gore his opponents as he charges into combat. In-game, the Horns give him the Furious Charge, Rage, and Hammer of Wrath special rules.
  • Motive Decay: Went to the Eye of Terror to prevent the deaths of innocent and die fighting the forces of Chaos, but instead became obsessed with living and became a renegade without care of who he kills.
  • Start of Darkness: Sevastus Kranon led the Crimson Sabres into the Eye of Terror in a self-imposed penance crusade for the crimes committed by the chapter while under daemonic influence. Decades later, Kranon the Relentless led the Crimson Slaughter back out.

    Red Corsairs 
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The strong are strongest alone.

The Astral Claws were once a highly honoured Chapter who fell to heresy after the tyrannical Lufgt Huron became Chapter Master. After withholding their gene-seed tithe, and destroying the Imperial fleet sent to investigate the Chapter, the Astral Claws attempted to secede from the Imperium, sparking the bloody Badab War that saw a number of other Astartes Chapters deceived into joining the Astral Claws in rebellion. After a decade of savage fighting, the rebel forces were defeated and the remains of the Astral Claws retreated into the Maelstrom warp rift where they have dedicated themselves fully to the powers of Chaos, renaming themselves the Red Corsairs. One of the largest and most powerful groups of piratical renegades in the galaxy, the Red Corsairs have allied with the forces of Abaddon the Despoiler, providing the Warmaster of Chaos with a force of expert raiders for his 13th Black Crusade and with the opening of the Great Rift they can now strike against Imperial worlds across the galaxy.

Due to the destruction of all records referencing the Astral Claws in the aftermath of their rebellion, the Primarch of the Red Corsairs is unknown. Originally a fleet-based Chapter, the Astral Claws adopted Badab Primaris as their home world, and since their defeat at the Siege of Badab, the Red Corsairs have begun operating from New Badab in the Maelstrom as well as a number of highly fortified pirate bases, including a mighty Blackstone Fortress.

The Astral Claws and the Badab War appeared in the background material for the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000. The 2nd Edition of the game introduced Huron Blackheart as a special character with rules for using the Red Corsairs alongside him by mixing equipment and vehicles from Codex: Chaos and Codex: Ultramarines. From 3rd Edition onwards the Red Corsairs were counted as generic Chaos Space Marines with Blackheart sometimes included as a character to lead them. During 5th Edition Games Workshop's Forge World department released a pair of books focusing on the Badab War that provided rules and expanded background for the pre-Red Corsair Astral Claws. In 8th Edition, the Red Corsairs are treated as a generic Renegade Chapter warband led by Huron Blackheart with their rules included in Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines while rules for the Badab War era Astral Claws characters can be found in Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes.


  • And I Must Scream: In the 1999 short story Into the Maelstrom by Chris Pramas, a rebel Red Corsairs Sorcerer is punished for his disloyalty by being interred into the sarcophagus of a Helbrutenote  without it being hooked up to an actual body. Technically he can scream, but that's all he can do, and there's no one around him to help.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Instead of a Battlecry the Red Corsairs simply bombard their opponents' vox-caster frequencies with threats, curses and expletives.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Formerly loyal Astartes who join the Red Corsairs modify their power armour to show their new allegiances. This change can be as minor as painting red marks over their old Imperial insignia to taking on the full red and black colours of the Corsairs.
  • Mad Scientist: Garreon, Apothecary Lord of the Red Corsairs and right-hand man to Huron Blackheart, believes that the future of the Adeptus Astartes lies in greater understanding of genetic manipulation and xenobiology and to this end performed dissections and experiments on dead and dying Space Marines, both friends and foe alike. Garreon gained the infamous appellation the "Corpsemaster", not because he can raise the dead (he leaves that to the Red Corsairs' Librarians)) but because of his obsession with the biology of the dying and his skill in keeping people from the point of the death, often in terrible agony.
  • Meaningful Rename: The Astral Claws were the Red Corsairs due to the colours they used to obliterate their original iconography and to separate themselves from their former Chapter.
  • Named Weapon:
    • Blood Biter is a highly ornate chainsword once wielded by Carnac Commodus, a bloodthirsty officer of the Astral Claws. The chainsword was captured from heretek forces within the Maelstrom and is far more powerful than a regular chainblade.
    • The Chimeric Talons are a pair of ancient Lightning Claws, wreathed in a disruption field so powerful that it can cleave through any form of protection, be it armour, power fields or the unnatural flesh of a daemon.
    • Maelstrom's Bite is a combi-melta created by mixing Imperial technology with daemonic energy to produce a weapon of incredible power. In-game, the 8th Edition rules for Maelstrom's Bit increases the rate of fire and Damage of the bolter part of the weapon while increasing the Strength of the melta half.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Before their descent into piracy and Chaos worship, the Astral Claws had an excellent service record and unimpeachable honour with their actions during the Fifth Black Crusade being particularly legendary. In fact, the Astral Claws were so well regarded that they were given overall command of the Maelstrom Wardens, an alliance of Space Marine Chapters charged with the defence of the worlds surrounding the Maelstrom Warp Rift.
  • The Remnant: As the Astral Claws, the Red Corsairs once ruled a veritable empire until they were defeated during the Badab War. Although they lost their former realm, the Corsairs have not disintegrated and have founded a new piratical empire within the Maelstrom.
  • Space Pirates: The Red Corsairs are one of the largest and most infamous bands of pirates in the galaxy, raiding shipping lanes and attacking Imperial outposts in the sectors surrounding the Maelstrom. The military strength of the Red Corsairs is so great that they are even capable of capturing a strike cruiser from the Space Wolves.

Huron Blackheart, the Tyrant of Badab

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/huronhamadrya_7225.png

The Imperium is a weak old man, ready and waiting to be broken apart by his vengeful sons.

A talented but brutal commander who lacked dedication towards humanity, Chapter Master Lufgt Huron of the Astral Claws started the Badab War, one of the most infamous conflicts between Astartes Chapters since the Horus Heresy, after seizing direct control of the Badab Sector and declaring independence from the Imperium. Although ultimately defeated, and heavily wounded during the Fall of Badab Huron survived, although much of his body had to be replaced with bionics. Swearing vengeance against the Imperium Huron Blackheart, as he came to be known, built a new piratical domain within the Maelstrom.


  • Arm Cannon: Huron's custom bionic arm, known as the Tyrant's Claw, incorporates a heavy flamer alongside its bladed figures. While early artwork for Huron depicted the weapon on the back on the Claw, his model mounts the heavy flamer's nozzle on his palm instead.
  • Battle Trophy: Huron's wargear incorporates many trophies taken from defeated enemies. The talons on the Tyrant's Claw are made from the armor of fallen Space Marines, his axe handle's bindings are made from the skin of the astropathic choir of Torison VII, and the iron halo of a Captain of the Carcharadons Chapter is mounted on the back of the axe head.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder:
  • Covered with Scars: Huron suffered terrible injuries at the end of the Badab War and what little of his body that hasn't been replaced with bionics is covered with hideous scars with his tabletop model itself having one of the most heavily scarred headsnote  of any in the game.
  • Familiar: The Hamadrya is a strange daemonic entity that stays near Huron at all times. It doesn't seem to participate directly in combat, but possesses useful psychic abilities that Huron is able to tap into.
  • Handicapped Badass: Although he has had much of his ravaged body replaced with a augmetics, Huron is still suffers from constant pain and requires frequent medical treatment to manage his injuries. Despite this, he is still one of the most powerful and feared Chaos Lords in the galaxy.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Huron was able to use his close ties with other Space Marines in the Maelstrom region, as well as playing to fears of the Imperial establishment infringing upon Astartes autonomy, to bring the Executioners, Lamenters, and Mantis Warriors chapters onto his side. In the Badab War's aftermath, the survivors from these chapters were sentenced to a hundred-year penitent crusade.
  • Start of Darkness: Lufgt Huron was nearly killed when his rebellion (against the Imperial government, but not humanity) failed and had to pledge the Astral Claws (later to become the Red Corsairs) to Chaos to survive. Now, Huron Blackheart takes pride in raiding the worlds he once defended.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Huron has acquired many titles over his years of rebellion and piracy including; Tyrant of Badab, the Blackheart, Master of the Red Corsairs, Lord of the Maelstrom and the Blood Reaver.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: After suffering near mortal wounds from a melta-blast during the battle for the Palace of Thorns near the end of the Badab War, Huron was fitted with extensive augmetics across the right side of his body.

    Other Renegades 

There are numerous minor bands of Traitor Astartes that plague the galaxy, ranging from those exiled from the larger and more well-known Traitor forces to newly turned Chapters just starting on the road to damnation. Ranging in size from a single Chaos Lord and his retinue to hundreds strong strike forces, these warbands of damned Astartes are often little known to the galaxy at large but can prove just as much a threat as the more infamous Heretic Astartes.


  • Alien Blood: The Cleaved are infamous for their high pain tolerance and the oil-like ooze that leaks from their armor's joints or ruptures. More generally, Chaos Space Marines are often mutated under their armour and can have corrosive or acidic blood depending on the blessings of their particular patron gods.
  • Animal Motif: Mixed with Religionof Evil for the Steel Cobras, who were declared Excommunicate Tratoris by a particularly bombastic Cardinal of the Ecclesiarchy who took offence at their worship of the Emperor as an animal totem. They were driven off their homeworld by a puritanical crusade and forced to take refuge in a Underwater Base beneath the ammonia seas of Tukaroe VII, where nothing short of a full-scale invasion by another Chapter or an Exterminatus of the planet is going to dislodge them.
  • Badass Beard: As a corrupted Wolf Lord of the Space Wolves, Svane Wulfbad, the Chaos Lord who leads the Blood Wolves Warband of Khorne, sports a thick beard in the same style popular amongst his former comrades.
  • Badass Cape: The Flawless Cloak, a relic of the Flawless Host Chaos warband, is a fabulously extravagant cloak that never stains and instantly repairs any damage caused to it. These who wear the Cloak appear to be the very embodiment of perfection, represented in the 8th Edition rules with a bonus to their Attacks characteristics and the range of their abilities.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Seekers of Truth were a chapter that, due to working closely with the Inquisition, executed many innocents. When their chapter master prayed for some way to know when someone was lying, Tzeentch granted the entire chapter the ability to hear every lie spoken in the galaxy. Within days they went mad and renamed themselves the Scourged.
  • The Dreaded: The Wrath are an army dedicated to Khorne and are so awful in their atrocities that their name is whispered in awe by the Dark Eldar and an Ork warband fled from them in horror.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: The Sons of Malice famously target other Chaos warbands as much as they fight with Imperial forces, as they worship a lesser-known Chaos God who represents Chaos' penchant for opposing itself.
  • Maddened Into Misanthropy: After thousands of years of the worst postings in the galaxy, including Death Worlds, space hulks, and quarantined areas, the Desolate Brotherhood renamed themselves the Company of Misery and went for some payback.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Purge is a Nurgle-aligned warband that wants nothing less than to kill all life in the galaxy, and most famously perpetuated the Vaxhallian genocides that claimed over 14 billion lives.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The Chaos warband known as the Punishers Invoke this image by painting a black skeleton over their bone coloured armour.
  • Tautological Templar: The Shining Blades believed themselves immaculately pure and incapable of error, and after perpetuating several massacres they attacked Imperial agents who dared question them. They are currently known as the Flawless Host, a Slaaneshi warband.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil:
  • Trial by Friendly Fire: The Purge are so dedicated to their crusade to exterminate all life in the galaxy that they are more than willing to fire at enemies engaging their allies in close combat. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the All Life is Worthless Purge Stratagem that allows Purge units to fire into combat, something usually banned by the core rules.
  • Volcanic Veins: Hakanor's Reavers are known for burning with supernatural heat that causes their power armor to crack and smolder.


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