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"The universe has many horrors yet to throw at us. This is not the end of our struggle. This is just the beginning of our crusade to save Humanity. Be faithful! Be strong! Be vigilant!"
The Divine God-Emperor of Mankind
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In Warhammer 40,000, the prehistory of the Imperium of Man is best noted by the following figures.


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    The God-Emperor of Mankind 
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A nice enough chap, but very dour.
Botchulaz, Greater Daemon of Nurgle

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

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

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


  • Age Without Youth: The Golden Throne has kept the Emperor alive for ten thousand years, but he's gone from a mortally wounded man to a shriveled, mummified husk.
  • And I Must Scream: The Emperor is trapped mere inches from death, and has been that way for ten thousand years, his once-glorious physique withering into nothing more than a skeletal carcass intricately intermeshed in a mountainous machine-throne, his psyche locked within his skull and unable to communicate with the outside world (except for very rare one-on-one conversations). He is said to be shedding microscopic tears for each man who dies in his service. The Custodes collect them in tiny vials.
  • Anti-Hero: What point on the scale depends on the individual, but the Emperor was equal parts wonderfully heroic and terribly flawed.
  • Anti-Magic: Daemons call him "anathema" for very good reason as his powers are the very bane of their existence. This was demonstrated during the Plague Wars when a girl, who the Emperor was heavily implied to be possessing, caused nearly every Daemon on the battlefield to spontaneously combust.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: His appearance and even his way of speaking differs depending on who is interacting with him. When a Magos of the Mechanicum saw him he saw an all-knowing scientist, and when the Sisters of Silence look at him they see just a man (though that is probably also due to their nature as Blanks). When interacting with the Custodes he would refer to the Primarchs by their numbers (likely because the Custodes see them as just tools he created) while other characters heard him refer to them by name, because that they themselves think of the Primarchs as actual individuals. This keeps how the Emperor actually thinks of them ambiguous. To most people, the Emperor appears to be a gigantic man in glorious powered armor. However, there are hints that this itself is just a projection into the minds of those looking upon him. Blanks, who are immune to psychic effects, are not impacted by this and see a much smaller physical form underneath, like a normal human being.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Depending on the edition and depiction, the Emperor has either already ascended, has partially ascended, will ascend when he finally dies or will never ascend. This ambiguity has been written into some background material with various organisations, sects and philosophies within the Imperial Cult and Inquisition each holding one or more of these beliefs.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Emperor became Emperor because he had the mightiest armies, and he acquired many of those armies as a result of his own incredible physical and psychic strength.
  • Badass Boast: Many, but the creation of the Space Marines deserves a mention.
    They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest gun shall they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe will best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the terror. They are the defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines... and they shall know no fear.
  • Badass Cape: In his prime he often wore a huge, red cloak along with his elaborate, shiny armour.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The Emperor believed this, in part because he believed that all gods were ultimately tied to Chaos, and ruthlessly pushed a secular worldview on the budding Imperium in hopes that it would starve the Chaos Gods. This did not work, because the Chaos Gods are empowered by emotions as well as belief, and humanity isn't the only game in town. Also he might have created a god of atheism, though that's probably not canon. We don't know for sure.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: The Emperor was the mightiest human psyker ever born, outstripping even the Eldar who are renowned for birthing powerful psykers, terrifying the daemonic denizens of the Warp (some of whom were incredibly powerful in their own right) and inspiring fear even in the Chaos Gods. He, among other things, was considered the greatest psyker of all time, capable of bending the fabric of reality, destroying suns and entire planets and seeing into the future (though the Chaos Gods clouded his insights to the future during the Horus Heresy). His power was considered godlike, despite his insistence otherwise.
  • Big Good: The Imperium has always viewed him as this, but the game use him to make this a Deconstructed Trope; while he most likely was the Big Good during the Horus Heresy, nowadays, he's basically been rendered as little more than a shriveled-up husk, only serving as little more than a symbolic figurehead, meant to keep the Imperium from fully collapsing in morale and structure, and the primary icon of religious worship by his subjects, to counter the corruptive daemonology of the Chaos gods. And even before that, he also happened to have the biggest body count of any given human dictator in history. Depending on how you view it, the number has only grown to the point that we'd save time by using scientific notation. At best, he's a case of Good Is Not Nice; tough to be called a good guy when you order whole intelligent races be made extinct, and he tends to care more about humanity as a whole (or as a concept) than any given human individual.
  • Bling of War: All images of the Emperor in battle show him wearing Powered Armour of shining gold (or bronze, depending on the book), decorated with intricate double-headed eagle designs and studded with precious gems.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: He is far more powerful than his guards. Though they're not so much bodyguards as companions (similar to Alexander the Great's companion cavalry), an elite cadre that can be committed at a critical time and place.
  • Break the Haughty: There's a quote about the formation of the Grey Knights attributed to him which heavily implies that seeing the Imperium put to the torch by his own sons, led by his favorite of all, cast into stark relief what terrible mistakes he'd made and the horrific consequences they ultimately had for humanity.
    One unbreakable shield against the coming darkness
    One last blade forged in defiance of fate
    Let them be my legacy to the galaxy I conquered
    And my final gift to the species I failed.
  • Broken Ace: The Emperor was a peerless warrior and general, the mightiest human psyker who ever lived, and a scientist brilliant beyond compare. He was also an arrogant man who permitted no dissent, a father with questionable parenting skills (though, the Primarchs were all grown men by the time he found them with strongly held beliefs and ideals, so trying to parent them all would have been incredibly difficult to say the least) and ultimately failed to protect the human race during the Horus Heresy, only managing to preserve them at the cost of being trapped in the rotting ruins of his corpse.
  • Broken Angel: The horror of his current existence is even greater because of the stark contrast to his former state: From golden-armored superhuman to a rotting living corpse.
  • Broken Pedestal: He became this to many of the original Chaos Space Marines, and disillusionment with him or the Imperium as a whole is a common cause of defection to the other side. It's common for Chaos Marines to call him the False Emperor to show their contempt for him. As of Dark Imperium, he has also become this to none other than Roboute Guilliman, though unlike the Chaos Space Marines and Traitor Primarchs, he still remains loyal to the Imperium and the ideals that he fought for during the Great Crusade.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • The original Chaos sourcebooks for Warhammer and 40K, "Slaves to Darkness" and "The Lost And The Damned", gave the Emperor an origin as the gestalt embodiment of a thousand powerful human psykers who had existed before the coming of the Chaos Gods, who realised that the dawning gods were consuming or corrupting all of their fellow Shamans and so ritually sacrificed themselves to create a single mighty Warp entity in human flesh that would be able to protect against and eventually defeat the Chaos Gods. This has been subtly Retconned out with the passing of the editions, most notably the recent emphasis that Chaos came into existence during the war between the C'tan and the Slann, making all of the Gods (bar Slaanesh) older by far than the human race. Presumably the intention is to make the Emperor even more enigmatic, unknowable and alien.
    • The same sourcebooks also introduced the concept of the Star Child — in essence a nascent God created when the Emperor was struck down by Horus and comprised of his positive attributes: compassion, love, tolerance, understanding, etc. Closely interlinked with this were the Illuminati, a secret cabal of daemonhosts who had been freed from their possession but retained incredible psychic powers and an immunity to all subsequent daemonic possession, and the Sensei, mutant offspring fathered unknowingly by the Emperor during his years amongst humanity, who were immortal, sterile, untouchable by Chaos and invisible to their father. The Illuminati were gathering the Sensei together, planning to sacrifice them in order to fuel the birth of the Star Child into a fully-fledged God to lead humanity to safety and glory once again. In the third edition corebook, the Star Child and its attendant Illuminati and Sensei was stricken from the setting, In-Universe, by noting that the "Star Child Cult" was a minor Tzeentchian cult that was hunted down and destroyed utterly by the Inquisition. The concept of the Sensei as ultra-pure anti-Chaos warriors with a bond to the Emperor even stronger than that possessed by the Space Marines may, however, have eventually inspired the creation of the Grey Knights as an Imperial sub-faction in later editions.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Emperor's cruel and arrogant treatment of several of the Primarchs (especially Lorgar and Magnus) is what pushed them to turn to Chaos.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: May have even associated with the real Jesus. He even looks a little like a combination of a roid-raging Jesus and a Native American, though he was allegedly born in central Anatolia around 8000 BC, so he's probably a member of one of the extremely ancient ethnic groups from that area (one of which built Çatalhöyük, an incredibly advanced society for its time).
  • Cultured Badass: The Emperor wasn't just out to save the human race, but also its historical and technological achievements (to an extent). The Imperial Palace had a massive museum dedicated to housing various bits of historically important machinery and artifacts, ranging from ancient pottery to parts of the first Warp-capable engine. That said, in The Last Church, while he appreciates the beautiful religious iconography in the church, he orders it burned because the faith it represents offends him.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: The first time was because the Chaos Gods had the Primarchs scattered to the stars when they were infants. The second time was when he left the Great Crusade to begin working on an Imperial Webway. If he had bothered to tell the Primarchs this, he might have avoided (or at least delayed) the Horus Heresy.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Though he's a force for good, he's stuck in the Golden Throne, a life support machine that is fed the souls of a thousand psykers every day, so that he may never truly die...and it's developing problems the Mechanicus has no idea how to fix.
  • Dark Messiah: For all his good intentions, even during the Great Crusade, the Emperor racked up a greater body count then every one of Earth's dictators combined and multiplied by several thousand, at the very least.
  • Deal with the Devil: In Graham Macneill's story Vengeful Spirit, the Emperor is revealed to have gone through a Warp Gate on the Knight World of Molech, made a bargain with the dark gods and came back with new powers (including the ability to create the Primarchs). Horus's actions on Molech is just following his "father"'s footsteps. However, Alivia Sureka, a Perpetual and the Emperor's comrade, reveals that he actually stole these powers and left her to guard the entrance to the Warp on Molech.
  • Deity of Human Origin: He himself stated A God I Am Not, but after he "ascended" to the Golden Throne, he wound up being worshiped by trillions for ten thousand years. Given the nature of the Warp...
  • The Dreaded: The Chaos Gods themselves refer to him as "The Anathema". To them obviously, but they also claim that he is anathema to their vision of humanity. Even by the time of the forty-second millennium, ten thousand years after his near-death and interment, mighty daemons like Ku'gath quail at the mere prospect of facing his power.
    "Not only the sword, but the Anathema Himself? It cannot be! We cannot face that sort of foe and live."
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In Rogue Trader, the first edition of the game, concepts like the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy hadn't been invented yet. Originally, nobody knew anything about the Emperor's past aside from propaganda fables spread by the Ecclesiarchy. All that was known about him was that he was an immortal hero with powerful psychic abilities who was fatally wounded during some "long forgotten war" and now powered the Astronomicon from the life sustaining Golden Throne, which resembled a Cronnenberg like device rather than an ornate seat.
  • The Emperor: The supreme ruler of mankind with an empire spanning an untold number of planets, most gained through conquest. Yep, he more than qualifies for this trope.
  • Emperor Scientist: Was a genius, as the creation of the Primarchs, Space Marines, Astronomican, the Webway project, and other things can attest. The Adeptus Mechanicus reveres him as the mortal avatar of the Omnissiah and publicly worships him for show for the greater Imperium. When the Adeptus Mechanicus explored one of the Emperor's labs, they were astounded by the sheer scale and depth of his research and understanding, especially the science involved in the creation of the Primarchs. Magos who had spent their entire lives studying biology and genetics admit that much of the Emperor's discoveries would take years just to reverse engineer, and even Cawl—a Magos alive since before the Heresy—needed millennia with the Emperor's data and notes to engineer improvements on the Astartes.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Emperor is fairly blatantly this as well, for all that his physical appearance once highly resembled a human (and, later, loosely resembled a human, and post-Heresy vaguely evokes a human if you kinda look at it sideways). He's a living violation of physics so powerful and blatant that he serves as a navigation beacon in the warp... which doesn't have directions through which one can navigate. Figure that one out. Expanded by the Horus Heresy series. Not everybody sees the same thing when you look at the Emperor. Lorgar sees a tall, black-haired man with a ponytail. Argus sees a ten foot tall demigod surrounded by burning wheels of eyes. Horus sees an aging man with glowing eyes. Fascinatingly, Corax sees more than one thing: first he sees the glowing demigod, then he sees the black-haired man. Only blanks, people who are immune to psychic powers because they have no presence in the Warp (such as the Sisters of Silence), can see his true appearance: A normal man whose appearance is remarkably unremarkable. His divine appearance is nothing but a Glamour. It's implied that this effect even continues with his appearance 10,000 years after the Heresy, with the Emperor's appearance on the Golden Throne varying depending on the eye of the beholder.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Well, morally-ambiguous godlike autocrats, anyway. The Emperor's ability to empathize was mostly pretty suspect, but he regardless had extreme capacity for positive emotions beyond what is rational, with him having been mortally-injured in his fight with Horus from holding back due to failing to understand how far Horus was gone until it was too late (to say nothing of how Horus was long completely beloved by him) and forfeited his pride to throw his larger Salamander into a lava flow to save Vulkan's life, losing the contest for it (especially considering the Emperor's usual immense arrogance).
  • Expy: He's more or less a Jerkass-y rehash of Sigmar, playing the same role as human hero (or "hero" in the Emperor's case)-turned-ruler-turned god of the Empire/Imperium of Man.
  • The Extremist Was Right: It's true that during his life he killed a ton of people, and made highly objectionable decisions, exterminated entire intelligent races (something that would become a habit for the Imperium later on) but the Imperium he left behind is the only place Chaos can't completely defilenote , allows trillions to live unmolested, and even allows for something resembling a heaven of sorts. So yes, the Imperium worked. However, without the Emperor to oversee the Imperium, it worked in the absolute worst way possible.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Emperor absolutely despised alien races for their actions during the Age of Strife, with many Xenos preying upon the weakened human race, enslaving or killing billions of people and entire colonies.
  • Fatal Flaw: The Emperor's near-divine nature led him to be immensely arrogant and convinced of the rightness of his actions, with an outright inability to consider that his personal opinions might be mistaken. He never felt the need to explain himself, and assumed that no one would betray or disobey him regardless of what he did. He also couldn't comprehend people's seeming need to believe in a higher power, and thus never believed that his own anti-religious actions would eventually lead to his people worshiping him, as the priest in The Last Church rightly observed. For example, had he fully explained to his sons the dangers of the Warp and the Chaos Gods, and told them of his plan to protect humanity from these threats via the Imperial Webway project, Mangus' accidental destruction of the Imperial Webway (forcing the Emperor onto the Golden Throne permanently) and even the Horus Heresey itself might have been averted.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Subverted with the Thunder Warriors, the forebears of the later Adeptus Astartes Legions and the very soldiers the Emperor created in order to aid him in his unification of Earth. Despite their great strength and abilities, the Thunder Warriors were a bunch of psychopaths, murderers and hardened criminals even before the augmentation surgeries that decreased their already low moral inhibitions and increased their aggression levels, the Emperor decided that their violent tendencies and bloody past made rendered them unfit to be the Paragons of Humanity that he desired his warriors to be. Thus, he had all of them slaughtered to a man, aside from a few survivors who have managed to work around the quick expiration date.
    • Also subverted with Guilliman and the other Primarchs — when he meets with his father on Terra, he noted that the Emperor treated him less like his son and more like a favorite tool.
    • More or less played straight with the rest of the rest of Humanity, or at least the ones who are still loyal to him. Although it's less about unconditional love and more about loving the idea of what Humanity could become.
  • Final Battle: According to the older editions, the Emperor is prophesied to rise up once again and lead humanity in one last great Ragnarok scenario ending with him stalemating all four Chaos Gods and leaving humanity finally free from the threat of Chaos and xenos races forever.
  • Flaming Sword: Shown as having one in the Horus Heresy artwork he appears in, though it may be a force sword he's powering with his psychic powers. The Gathering Storm reveals he had more than one. The Plague Wars series also reveals that besides looking cool, it can permanently kill daemons.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Which is why the Emperor is the single most important human to have ever lived.
  • Four-Star Badass: He didn't just win his battles by overwhelming force.
  • Freudian Excuse: Allied alien races betrayed Mankind during the Age of Strife, conquering, enslaving, destroying and killing entire human planets when the Golden Age of Technology collapsed because of the fall of the Eldar. The Emperor remembers this all too well and is willing to exterminate entire species in his quest to make the galaxy safe for Mankind once more.
  • Genius Bruiser: An insanely powerful warrior who was also a technological and scientific genius.
  • God-Emperor: Tried to deny this during the Great Crusade, but cults deifying him were constantly springing up during that time. After the Horus Heresy, the Imperium became a theocracy with him as its god-figure.
  • A God I Am Not: The Emperor insisted that he was not a deity, only the pinnacle of what mankind could achieve. He spread militant atheism throughout the budding Imperium during the Great Crusade as a way to potentially starve out the Chaos Gods by depriving them of worship, and censured anyone who actively worshipped him. This didn't stop the spread of people believing he was a god, however, and after being confined to the Golden Throne, the worship of the God-Emperor grew to such an extent that he religion became one of the major powers within the Imperium.
  • God Is Good: To an extent. While he was still alive, his goal was to keep humanity from destroying itself in the same way that the Eldar empire did. His methods were what was morally questionable. He's still at least much more benevolent than the Chaos Gods, though generally weaker in most ways.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Emperor was/is probably the closest thing to a Big Good in the setting (from a human perspective), considering his lofty goals. However, he sought to create a utopia entirely on his own terms and would not hesitate to crush anyone who stood in the way of his plans, whether they were evil or not.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: From the perspective of the Imperium of Man. He spent centuries influencing humanity before revealing himself following the Age of Strife, but is currently stuck on the Golden Throne using the souls of sacrificed psykers to stay alive, after he was mortally wounded by his rebellious son Horus.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: According to The Outcast Dead, the Emperor went into the duel with Horus well aware that he was going to die.
  • Heroic Willpower: The Emperor's body is all but dead, and he's more than ready to die. The only thing keeping him alive? His own determination and love of humanity... and being fed one thousand psykers a day from his life support chair. Mostly the thousand psykers and chair, but the willpower helps.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: The Primarch Vulkan was, among his fellow Primarchs, a representation of the Emperor's compassion for humanity. This fact is... just about the only way that aspect has been portrayed.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Nearly all of the events that led to the start of the Horus Heresy were directly or indirectly the result of his own actions.
    • His public humiliation of Lorgar and the Word Bearers for spreading the idea that he is a god deserving of worship led to Lorgar having a crisis of faith and seeking out gods that actually wanted to be worshipped, causing the Word Bearers to be he first to fall to Chaos.
    • His staunch policy of hiding all knowledge of Chaos (as sentient god-like beings), led to his forces (especially the Primarchs) being woefully unprepared to deal with their influence. This led to half his forces being corrupted and turning against him.
    • His refusal to explain to his sons why he left command of the Great Crusade to Horus (he left to finish his Webway project), eventually led to Horus turning against him, and Magnus unknowingly destroying said Webway project (then being attacked by the Space Wolves, forcing him to rebel as well).
    • His mistreatment of Perturabo, one of his most capable and loyal sons, eventually led to Perturabo turning against his father.
    • He refused to let Angron fight (and possibly die) alongside the slave rebellion upon Angron's homeworld, essentially kidnapping him and making him break the oaths of loyalty that Angron had made. This, alone with the Butcher's Nails in his brain, led to Angron being one of the first to turn against the Emperor. The fact that he did absolutely nothing to save Angron's rebellion only makes things a million times worse.
    • His refusal to let the Mechanicum open the vault of Moriveth, without explaining precisely why, basically did nothing but pique the interest of Mechanicum's leader, Kalbor Hal. This allowed him to be easily tricked and corrupted by Horus and created the Dark Mechanicum, greatly harming the Imperium's manufacturing/supply capabilities by roughly half, as well as losing them half of their Titan legions.
    • His stipulation in the Treaty of Mars that the Mechanicum was forbidden from pursuing certain lines of research eventually evolved into the later Adeptus Mechanicus distrusting to outright being hostile against almost any advancement or research, causing the Imperium's technology to stagnate at best, and slowly start to decline at worst.
    • His decree against the use of psychic powers (to protect the developing Webway gate on Terra) led to the Inquisition deciding that any unsanctioned psykers should be rounded up and executed or sacrificed to power the Golden Throne. This continues to severely hinder humanity's evolution into a truly psychic race on par with the Eldar, one of the Emperor's original main goals.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: While the Emperor sometimes provided most of a push towards it, ultimately, he was perfectly willing to recruit and fight alongside many individuals who not only went on to sell themselves to Chaos, but were such utter psychopaths that the Dark Gods made them immortal in reward for being so insane.
  • Humanoid Abomination: John Grammaticus once made psychic contact with the Emperor and had a panic attack just thinking about the experience two centuries later.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The Emperor is one of the few beings that the forces of chaos are genuinely afraid of. This is best demonstrated in Dark Imperium Plague War, where its shown that Greater Daemons are afraid to even mention his name and are horrified at the thought that after 10,000 years he may once again be aiding the forces of the Imperium.
  • Humans Are White: Averted, artwork shows him as noticeably tan. He was born in ancient Turkey, in fact.
  • Hypocrite: In The Last Church, he claims that religion is evil because deeply held beliefs lead to violence, citing certain historical examples such as the Crusades to argue the point. He has no qualms with leading a genocidal campaign of destruction based on the belief that Humanity Is Superior, though and called said campaign 'the Great Crusade'. Bonus points in that he was called out on it in the same story.
    Uriah: Didn't you just tell me about the bloodshed perpetrated by the Crusades? Doesn't that you make you no better than the holy men you were telling me about?
    The Emperor: The difference is that I am right.
    Uriah: Spoken like a true autocrat.
    • Later, in The Master of Mankind, he shows a past memory of his to a Custodian. There, the Emperor has a former enemy, a priest, executed. The Emperor explains how the priest was initially a good man, but then, driven by a sense of necessity, starting doing terrible things and making horrible sacrifices to keep himself and his people alive. The Emperor blames the priest's actions on his beliefs. Ironically, in the same book, the Emperor orders the mass kidnapping of a thousand psykers. These men, women, and children would then be forcibly sacrificed to the Golden Throne, their lives slowly and painfully leached away to keep the Golden Throne running. This would allow the Emperor to leave the Golden Throne temporarily to aid his forces in the Webway. The Emperor excuses this action by saying that it was a necessity to preserve his vision for humanity.
    • He condemned alien races for attacking and conquering human worlds, leading to a campaign where he and his forces 1) committed genocide on countless alien races, whether or not they had anything to do with the actual betrayals, and 2) attacked and conquered a great many human worlds.
    • The Imperial Truth is itself a religion in all but name, especially in its talk about the exceptionalism of humanity and its Manifest Destiny to exterminate all other sapient life (even those who think, look, and act similarly to humans). The only difference is that it dogmatically ascribes supreme spiritual importance to an arbitrarily specific number of protein chains (to the point of only considering beings with those arbitrary combinations to be worthy of life), rather than to philosophical or supernatural concepts.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: His general justification for some of his more questionable actions.
  • Idiot Ball: Many of the Emperor's decisions were so obviously wrong it's hard to imagine how a sensible human being could have made them, never mind a supposedly perfect being. Take, as a perfect example, the situation with the rescue of Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters Legion. The Emperor discovers Angron in the final stages of a Spartacus scenario, poised to be wiped out by a vastly superior number of forces. Having approached Angron in secret, Angron refuses to abandon his comrades and is willing to die with them. The Emperor's options include summoning his own forces to reinforce Angron's, whisking all of Angron's army aboard his massive spaceships, or unleashing an orbital barrage to at least devastate the enemy army so that Angron's force can win. Instead, as Roboute Guilliman had already brought the other side into the Imperium, he chooses to whisk Angron away from the battlefield at the last moment and leave Angron's friends and followers to be utterly wiped out, leaving Angron bitter, resentful, hating the Emperor, and full of rage — in other words, a perfect candidate to swear allegiance to Khorne in order to take revenge.
  • I Have Many Names: While his birth name is unknown, he is variously known as the Master of Mankind, the Outlander to the Salamanders and people of Nocturne, and the Allfather to the people of Fenris. The Mechanicus occasionally calls him the Omnissiah, at least officially. Followers of Chaos refer to him as the False Emperor and the Corpse-God, while Daemons call him the Anathema. In addition it's implied that he was several notable historical figures from our time, including possibly Jesus and St. George, though his 'dragon' was the Void Dragon.
  • Intelligence = Isolation: Despite the Emperor's charisma making him, well, the Emperor of Mankind, there's very little said about him actually having friends, and his Lack of Empathy no doubt explained this. The only two characters that have been stated to be close friends with the Emperor are the closest things he had to peers outside of the Primarchs in Malcador the Sigillite and Constantin Valdor...and said Lack of Empathy causes many fans to doubt his relationship with those two resembled exactly what a regular person would expect of a friendship.
  • Irony: Installed state atheism... and wound up being treated as a living god by countless cultures, the largest of which is a hardcore, prayer-heavy, fundamentalist pseudo-Catholic empire.
  • Jerkass: The Emperor was not always the nicest of people. To be blunt, many of the Primarchs who turned to Chaos did so because the Emperor had done considerable wrongs to them in the first place, which is hinted at in the game canon and usually shown in a more detailed fashion in the Horus Heresy novels.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Admittedly, for all of the shit that he pulled, the Emperor did everything for the good of mankind. Trying to act diplomatically to some of the xenos races helps too, though never to the point of outright tolerance.
  • Kick the Dog: Abducting Angron by teleporting him away against his will right before his fellow gladiators were about to begin their Last Stand is kind of a dick move.
  • King on His Deathbed: The state of the Emperor for the last ten thousand years is basically in a state mere seconds (maybe microseconds) away from death, still technically alive, only "surviving" (in a liberal use of the term) by the Golden Throne. Since 5th edition it has been established that the Golden Throne is developing problems that the Adeptus Mechanicus has no knowledge of how to fix, so the Emperor could fully die sometime in the 42nd millennium. As of Dark Imperium, it appears that he's fine for the time being. Not only is the Emperor still alive, he is also fully capable of communication.
  • Lack of Empathy: Noted both in and out of universe is that while the Emperor was certainly brilliant in terms of intelligence, he was rather lacking in his ability to empathize with others, even his own Primarchs. Many of the problems he had with them likely could have been solved or at least mitigated had he actually took the time out of his day to just listen to their issues.
  • Large and in Charge: In his heyday, the Emperor was about two or three times the size of a human being, and almost as broad across the shoulders as he was tall. Bear in mind, we've usually only seen him in Terminator armor.
  • Light Is Good: His light is like the rays of the sun to humanity, warm and life giving. He single-handedly saved Mankind, united them, developed a lasting empire, and rediscovered many of Humanity's lost sciences.
  • Light Is Not Good: His light is like the rays of the sun to xenos and chaos-worshipers, leaving them scorched earth. He killed billions (if not trillions) of people (humans and aliens) in the name of the defense of humanity.
  • Man in the Machine: The Emperor was entombed in an incredibly elaborate life-support system known as the Golden Throne after he became mortally wounded slaying Horus, which has kept his soul anchored in the Materium ever since. This allows him to stay connected to the Warp and thus power the Astronomican and close off the Warp rift created by his failed Webway project. However, the Throne has not maintained his body perfectly for 10,000 years, and thus he has slowly decayed into the skeletal husk he's known as in the current setting.
  • Mercy Kill: Part of the reason The Emperor made Horus Deader Than Dead was to make sure that his favourite son would be permanently put out of his mind-controlled misery.
  • Merger of Souls: He is sometimes said to be the reincarnation of thousands of prehistoric shamans' souls, merged into a singular being.
  • Moral Myopia: He railed against aliens enslaving humans, but during his Great Crusade he sometimes forced other races to accept humanity as their overlords, when he wasn't wiping them out wholesale. Also see Hypocrite above.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: There are several possible stories of the Emperor's origin; none have been confirmed as canon, although at least one has been decisively stamped out in the fluff.
  • Nay-Theist: While he attempted to build a Flat-Earth Atheist empire, he knew full well that the Chaos Gods were real. The Emperor just didn't believe that psychic warp constructs embodying much of everything wrong with mortals deserved to be treated as gods (and apparently didn't believe in any other gods). He pushed atheism in the belief that depriving the "gods" of worship would kill them or at least weaken to the point that they could no longer affect the material universe.
  • Necessarily Evil: He claimed that a number of his more morally ambiguous actions were these. Which ones were and how necessary they were is up to the reader/player to decide.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Several Traitor Primarchs got their Start of Darkness because the Emperor was such a Jerkass to them. One of the more significant examples: the Word Bearers became the first Legion to turn to Chaos, and thus were significantly involved in corrupting the rest, because the Emperor was furious that Lorgar had created and was spreading a faith dedicated to Emperor worship while ensuring that every last of the hundreds of the planets they conquered was practicing said faith, actions that ran directly contrary to the atheistic and scientific empire he was trying to create. In response the Emperor had the Ultramarines raze Monarchia, the capital city of a world dear to the Word Bearers and a location they considered the perfect city. Then publicly reprimanded all of them for their failures to him and the Great Crusade, while using his immense power to force them all to kneel before him. The result? Lorgar ends up in a Crisis of Faith and then eagerly turns to gods that accept they are gods and expect worship — the Dark Gods of Chaos.
    • For that matter, his idea of handling Chaos in the first place was somewhat limited in hindsight. The Emperor strove to keep his followers as ignorant of the realities of Warp-space as possible, including that there really are beings out there that feed on human worship but have no benevolent intentions for humanity. (Though the people that knew and he informed about the dangers of the Warp such as Magus proceeded to ignore his warnings and damned themselves.) Result? Half of the Primarchs are corrupted, many of them unwillingly, and they took their Legions with them. The first Horus Heresy novel implicitly contrasts this to an empire called the Interex, who are open about the existence and dangers of Chaos (though they spell it Kaos) and strive to educate their populace about its dangers, making them enemies of Chaos because they know what it is and what it wants... which resulted in them getting wiped out by the Imperium when the Chaos-tainted Erebus manipulated both sides to war.
      • Not to mention how the "remove religion to starve Chaos" plan backfired because abolishing the existing religions (which were starving the Chaos Gods) opened up a window of opportunity for the Chaos Gods (not to mention the Emperor's violent means of abolishing religion would've been right up the Chaos God Khorne's alley).
    • His foreign policy on aliens, what with planning to build his empire with Absolute Xenophobia as a cornerstone. While there was some justification in him not wanting to let humanity be enslaved or betrayed by aliens again, he took it way too far in the opposite direction and let the actions of a few nonhuman species define his view of all of them, failing to appreciate the benefits of interspecies alliances and the insights nonhuman cultures might have to offer (notably he ignored Eldrad Ulthuan's warning about Horus merely because he was an Eldar). He made it standard policy to kill most alien races they came across, including those who had not achieved space flight and posed no threat to humanity, while the more useful ones were enslaved, setting the tone for Human-Nonhuman relations for the next 10,000 years. In doing this, he not only ensured that damn near everyone in the Imperium would hate anything not human beyond reason, but also that aliens in turn would hate and fear humanity and not want to cooperate with them precisely because they were so racist and because of what they did to other species.
  • No Name Given: The Emperor's true name has been lost to time. It's said that the only person who knew was Malcador the Sigilite.
  • Not Helping Your Case: He hated religion with a passion and refused to be worshiped as a deity. Despite this, he happily positioned himself as the central figure of the Imperium and declared himself savior of humanity. He also initiated a campaign of violent and murderous suppression of any culture or belief that didn't align with his Imperial Truth, something that was no different from the religious extremists he hated so much. He also chose to maintain an appearance of a glowing giant in golden armor who wielded a sword made out of fire and flew around in a battleship designed to look like a golden cathedral.
  • Not Quite Dead: So close to it that if you didn't know his soul was still around, you'd think he'd been gone for millennia.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Sure acted like he had one. In his eyes, there was no amount of death and suffering that wasn't worth securing an eternal Golden Age for humanity.
  • Our Gods Are Different: Specifically for the Imperium, our God is on life support, insisted that he was never a god, and may in fact be dead, but he's still greater.
  • Parental Favoritism: After Horus, the Emperor's favorite Primarchs were (in no particular order) Sanguinius, Rogal Dorn, Leman Russ and Fulgrim. It's deconstructed in that the whole reason Horus was able to do so much damage to the Emperor, is because He didn't want to hurt His favourite son. It was only after seeing how far Horus was gone that He decided to blow Horus to pieces, which He did very quickly.
  • Parents as People: He most definitely could have served as a better authority figure to the Primarchs and tried to remove some of their primitive, conflicting and disruptive ideology. He is also directly to blame for putting several of them on the path to darkness because of his seeming inability to treat them as people rather than tools. While many things about the Emperor are hotly debated, one thing most fans agree upon is that he was a great leader, but a lousy father.
  • The Patriarch: The Imperium portrays the Emperor as the spiritual father of humanity, as he rather invoked this image during the Great Crusade.
  • Pet the Dog: The Emperor recruited Vulkan by entering a series of contest against Vulkan where the winner would swear to serve the other. The two were tied for the final event of killing the largest Salamander they could and returning with its corpse. Vulkan taking his kill back was interrupted by the mountain he was standing on turning out to be a volcano and erupting, causing him to stuck in a Literal Cliffhanger over a lava flow, holding his Salamander with one hand preventing him from climbing back up. The Emperor found Vulkan and threw his (larger) Salamander into the lava flow as a bridge for Vulkan to walk on. The Emperor was declared the loser with nothing to show for the contest, but Vulkan swore fealty to the Emperor anyway, considering a man who favored life over pride worthy of service.
  • Physical God: The Emperor's psychic power was unmatched, and he had truly god-like abilities as a result.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: From a Real Life perspectivenote , the Emperor's Absolute Xenophobe creed and his attempt to kill Eldritch Abominations that feed on belief and emotion through violently enforced state atheism make him a bigoted monster, even though he had no known intolerance towards gender, sexuality and human race issues.
  • Poor Communication Kills: One of the Emperor's greatest failings. He wanted to starve the Chaos Gods of worshipers, so he tried to push everyone to a secular worldview of "there are no gods" instead of saying "what you think of as gods and demons are actually psychic-energy-creatures that want to eat your soul so DON'T DEAL WITH THEM", so people dealt with them anyway because (sometimes at least) they didn't know better. He wanted to return to Terra to finish work on establishing a permanent link to the Webway, and thus free humanity from terribly dangerous Warp travel, but he said nothing of this to any of his Primarch sons, simply leaving the Crusade after placing Horus in charge. The Chaos Gods then manipulated the already-fragile status of the Primarchs and started the Horus Heresy.
  • Possession Burnout: The Emperor has shown the ability to possess certain individuals in order to carry out his will from across the galaxy. Unfortunately, there are few individuals who can withstand his immense psychic powers for very long, meaning that these hosts burn out fairly quickly.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In order to keep the Emperor alive, exactly one thousand psykers (those deemed unfit to be trained to resist Demonic Possession and made otherwise useful) are fed to the Golden Throne daily, being sacrificed so that their souls can power its psychic connection with the Astronomican, the warp-beacon that allows Imperial ships to navigate galaxy-spanning distances through the otherwise shrouded and swirling Empyrean. Should this connection ever go down, long-range interstellar travel would become impossible for humanity and the Imperium would fall apart in the same way that human civilization did during the Age of Strife.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: He's a peerless genius and warrior, whose many creations and accomplishments would take millions or billions of years if normal humans tried replicating them. He's also one of the mightiest psykers to ever exist, to the point where he's regarded by many as a godlike being; even the Chaos Gods and their daemonic minions, champions, and Princes feared facing his power should he get motivated to fight them directly. But he's also wholly dedicated to the protection and success of humanity, and is willing to do anything for them. It's ultimately deconstructed as his transhuman nature meant that he had trouble relating to not just ordinary humans but the near-godlike Primarchs, and his focus on pro-human specifically led to his attempts to support humanity manifesting as a genocidal war waged against nearly every alien race his forces encountered.
  • Psychic Powers: The most powerful psyker in human history, to the extent that even the Eldar and the Daemons of Chaos were afraid of what he might do if he got... motivated.
  • Really 700 Years Old: During the Horus Heresy, he was between 400 and 40,000 years old, depending on your interpretation of his Self-Proclaimed Liar statusnote , but merely looked as if he was in his mid- to late forties. His modern incarnation definitely looks 50,000 years old, though.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • The topic of the God-Emperor of Mankind actually being, well, a God-Emperor. Prior to the Horus Heresy, he insisted he wasn't a god and was just the pinnacle of human potential. While the majority of the Space Marines continue with this stance, a variety of powerful human psykers also give the stance some credence, and that hundreds of psykers must be used (and eventually wither away) to help the Emperor power the Astronomicon imply he has limitations that must be treated with something resembling sustenance like a mortal, the vast majority of the Imperium now actively worships him, and the fact he's survived and has performed unmatched psychic deeds for centuries without any explanation to why he can unlike his Primarchs and Space Marines who were created by being based off of him practically makes whatever stance you have on the topic of the Emperor's divinity irrelevant as he is clearly nonetheless godlike. Occasional hints in the fluff that he was in fact some sort of historical or religious figure in earlier human history still don't clear up the matter concretely.
    • Most scenes involving him are shown from another person's perspective, meaning one can only speculate his rationale for the many seemingly shortsighted decisions he made.
    • The few times someone in the lore is granted an audience before the Golden Throne, their meeting with the Emperor is never detailed for the reader. Alicia Dominica, leader of the Brides of the Emperor and Goge Vandire's biggest supporter, refused to believe she was fighting for evil until she was invited to the meet with the Emperor. What took place at the meeting is unknown, only that Alicia exited angry and ashamed at her actions and immediately executed Vandire as a traitor. His reunion with Roboute Guilliman is also not shown to the reader, with Guilliman himself refusing to talk about what the Emperor told him aside from giving him "enlightenment."
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Personally led the Great Crusade for centuries. His departure and retirement to the Imperial Palace actually caused a great deal of discontent.
  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • He seemingly chose to ignore the obvious flaws and instabilities in the Primarchs, particularly Curze, Angron, Lorgar and Perturabo, believing that advantages of having the Primarchs outweighed their negative aspects.
    • He knew that Lorgar and his followers were worshiping him and telling people he was a god a full century before shutting them down with extreme prejudice and chose to not keep a close eye on them afterwards to make sure that they didn't turn against him.
  • Shadow Dictator: The forces of Chaos insist that the Emperor is long dead, that the various functions he fulfills are purely mechanical, and that he can do nothing to help the people of the Imperium, say, enjoy an afterlife. On the other hand, they're not very reliable and want people to lose faith in the God Emperor and the Imperium.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: And he enforced that decree, with extreme prejudice. This is indirectly the cause of the Horus Heresy, also, since those worshippers (Lorgar and the Word Bearers) decided they'd turn their worship to gods who accepted it and just so happened to want the Imperium a smouldering husk.
    Bjorn the Fell-Handed: God-Emperor? Calling him a god was how all this mess started.
    • Note that only actual worship was the problem. He didn't object to, for example, people ritualistically calling him "the Emperor, beloved by all", to the point where you can make a Drinking Game out of it in the Horus Heresy series. He also expected people to give up all their hopes, dreams and deeply held beliefs in favor doing whatever he wanted because he wanted it. It was just that he didn't want prayers, he wanted people to build weapons and kill xenos.
  • Strong Empire, Shriveled Emperor: He is — or was, to be technical — the leader of the Imperium, which controls the majority of the galaxy and commands armies and navies of staggering size, but he has spent the past ten millennia on life support while his body has decayed to a skeleton, and though he has immense psychic power, most of it is used on maintaining humanity's FTL Travel.
  • Super Intelligence: ... which makes it really hard to believe that someone that intelligent could make so many bad decisions. However, high IQ doesn't necessarily mean high EQ, and the Emperor's was terrible. Most of his decisions make sense within an intellectual perimeter; he just never understood how they would affect the emotional well-being of his Primarchs, as well as his subjects.
  • Take Up My Sword: He more or less does this to Guilliman after the latter is resurrected. Quite literally, since Guilliman now wields his father's sword.
  • Tautological Templar: His thinking, by the end, is that no matter what happens, the decisions he makes are automatically good because they're ultimately for the betterment of humanity. So therefore, he is right, while anyone who says otherwise are wrong. It led to many terrible problems.
  • Time Abyss: Sources indicate that the Emperor was born in 8,000 B.C., making him nearly fifty thousand years and more by the time of the game's setting. Compare him to Ollanius Pius who was born in 15,000 B.C. in the city of Nineveh and who kept his faith in the Catholic/Catheric religion and acts like a normal, albeit scared, veteran.
    • It shows in his actions, with Logar being a serious example. He told Lorgar to stop worshiping him once and assumed he would listen. Lorgar assumed that the Emperor was just being modest. Lorgar continued and then suddenly the Emperor attacks him without further warning a century later. This trope is discussed by a few of the rank-and-file Word Bearers.
  • Tragic Hero: By the setting's standard, he did a lot of good for humanity at great moral cost. The result of his efforts included him coming to overestimate his wisdom, rely too much on his divination skills and failing to rein in the Primarchs. The result is half their numbers falling to Chaos and him interned upon the Golden Throne, helpless to intervene as humanity and everything he strived for becomes slowly corrupted and decays into everything he wished to prevent.
  • Tragic Mistake: While he made many that set it all up before that, everything went downhill for the Imperium when the Emperor appointed Horus as Warmaster while he went back to Holy Terra.
  • Truly Single Parent: The Primarchs were partially created using the Emperor's own DNA.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Oh yes. In a setting where the "good guys" are almost always WIEs, the Emperor goes Up to Eleven for both values of "well-intentioned" and "extremist", taking both far beyond any scale of those measures that had come before or has come since. Though others in his time believed that he was after lordship of the galaxy, the Horus Heresy books have shown that the what the Emperor does, he is doing because he believes they are necessary for the continued survival, safety and eventual betterment of the Human race.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: In some depictions, mortals could not gaze upon the Emperor without going blind at the sight of his full glory. Even those beings who could - Space Marines, Primarchs, or humans with a particularly strong will - couldn't truly understand what they were seeing and, as a result, his features seemed to shift and change even while they were staring at him. Possibly meant as a Hand Wave to explain differing visual depictions of the Emperor. A few Horus Heresy stories show his true form: a normal man whose appearance is remarkably unremarkable. His divine appearance is nothing but a Glamour.

    Malcador the Sigillite 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_the_sigillite_clean_1168.jpg
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

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

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


  • Almighty Janitor: Even after becoming the Emperor's right-hand confidant, he still wears the simple robes of a Terran Administrator. He was also able to force-choke Horus and would have killed him if the primarch had continued in his errant ways.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: It's suggested in the lore that he belonged to a secret order that has tried to guide humanity over the millennia, probably the Illuminati.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: He may be the founder of the Administratum, but he himself worked to get things moving along well enough, and was powerful enough to knock out Angron with a touch.
  • Cassandra Truth: He tried to convince the Emperor that the larger-than-life public persona he was using would inevitably lead to worship, which the Emperor dismissed.
  • The Chessmaster: Malcador plotted on a level that would make Lord Vetinari jealous.
  • Cool Old Guy: You can see why.
  • Collector of the Strange: His most treasured possessions were the Mona Lisa and Sunflowers. He funded archaeologists when he could.
  • Fan of the Past: Related to the above, it's hinted at that he was a very avid fan of history, and was far more knowledgeable of the past than many of his own contemporaries, if his comments on Shakespeare were anything to go by.
  • First-Name Basis: With the Primarchs. Both Space Marines and regular Adepts were somewhat surprised by the informality between them.
  • The Good Chancellor: He was the Emperor's chief advisor, his regent, made most of the institutions that govern the Imperium in 40k, was one of the few people who could keep the primarchs in control and was willing and able to make grand sacrifices for the good of all.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Taking up the reins of the Golden Throne, which allowed the Emperor to go and confront Horus, but ultimately killed him. Even then, he still kept a small sliver of psychic strength and gave it to the Emperor, allowing him to speak again before permanently falling silent.
  • Honest Advisor: He didn't mince words or hesitate to comment on (and criticize) the Emperor's actions. Not only did he get away with it, but the Emperor appreciated it; it is implied this stems from the events described in The Last Church, where a humble old Christian preacher deconstructed the Emperor's galactic ambitions with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and he promptly dropped the Smug Super attitude and to listen to the words of the ordinary humans he was supposedly ruling in the interests of.
  • Honorary Uncle: How he comes across to several primarchs, especially Leman Russ and Sanguinius. Sanguinius even calls him this.
  • In the Hood: A non-villainous example.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: He is second only to the Emperor (and later Magnus) in psychic power, and was already the Emperor's trusted advisor and administrator when he first began the unification of Terra before falling at the end of the Heresy centuries later. He has been given no explanation or backstory whatsoever.
  • The Magnificent: The Sigillite ("bearer of the seal"), and after taking on the Golden Throne, the Emperor decreed he would be known as Malcador the Hero.
  • No Body Left Behind: Turned to dust after being disconnected from the Golden Throne.
  • Number Two: As the Emperor's oldest and most trusted companion Malcador was second in authority only to the Master of Mankind himself and did much to develop the government of the Imperium.
  • Old Retainer: He had been the Emperor's chief assistant and only confidant for centuries when the Great Crusade began.
  • Psychic Powers: Third most powerful psyker in the Imperium, surpassed only by the Emperor and Magnus. So powerful, in fact, that he nearly killed Horus by himself when he tried to mention the name of one of the Missing Primarchs.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He did a pretty fine job keeping the Imperium in working order. He also got away with criticizing the Emperor if there was any need to.
  • Staff of Authority: And it's on fire. Why? It looks cool AND IT SHOOTS NUCLEAR FIRE!

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The Primarchs

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_primarchs_small_7214.jpg
From the left (click for full size): Sanguinius, Mortarion, Magnus the Red, Angron, Jaghatai Khan, Lorgar Aurelian, Rogal Dorn, Horus Lupercal, and Fulgrim.

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

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

For information on the Traitor Primarchs, see the Chaos Primarchs character page

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


    General Tropes 
  • 100% Adoration Rating: Generally, at least as far as their own legions were concerned, the Primarchs were adored and borderline-worshipped. They weren't just commanders - they were fathers. Their word was absolute and their orders were infallible. Even the highest commanders of the legion tended to Squee! (in a tough, manly way) at the thought of being talked to by their Primarch. There were a handful of aversions - most strikingly Angron and Curze - but most of the Primarchs were considered the heart and soul of their legions.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Primarchs were made to be superlative warriors and generals so that in time they would lead their Space Marine legions to conquer the galaxy.
  • Badass Cape: Horus, Rogal Dorn, Fulgrim, Lion El'Jonnson, Konrad Curze and Leman Russ... most of the Primarchs would wear capes, which were already badass for their sheer size.
  • Battle Trophy: Most had some sort of collection of various trophies during the Great Crusade. Fulgrim presented Ferrus Manus' head to Horus during the Heresy and (during 5th Edition) it was implied that Trazyn the Infinite has a primarch in stasis as part of his collection (it wasn't).
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Sanguinius was perhaps the noblest of the Primarchs, firmly believing that humanity should be ruled by its hopes and dreams. He also regularly tore apart Greater Daemons of Chaos.
    • Vulkan's compassion for civilians led him to place his own Salamanders in more risk to protect the humans. He could send Predators and Land Raiders flying through the air with a single swing of his Thunder Hammer.
    • Corax strongly believed in the Space Marines being the liberators of humankind, not enslavers. During the Drop Site Massacre he tore through Daemon-possessed Space Marines like they were paper.
    • Roboute Guilliman set up the most functional government of the post-Heresy Imperium due to his beliefs in the Astartes serving humanity. During the Battle of Calth he decapitated fully-armed Word Bearers by punching their heads off.
    • Lorgar hated fighting and wanted nothing more than have philosophical discussions with his brothers, yet was the first one to turn to Chaos and started the Heresy to begin with.
  • Beware the Superman: The Primarchs didn't want their Space Marine legions to be subordinated to the imperial bureaucracy. Roboute Guiliman claimed Astartes protect humanity, not rule it. Horus simply didn't like the idea of taking orders from ordinary humans. In response, the bureaucracy distrusted the legions.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The reason Horus had to challenge the Emperor to personal combat was because he knew the Ultramarines, Space Wolves and Dark Angels were all rushing to the relief of Terra, and extremely hacked off. If the Emperor had known this, he may have decided to wait the attackers out rather than making a desperate counter-attack, but he didn't and the rest is history.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Primarchs were 19 brothers who not only were rivals in terms of conquests, but also had violently opposite philosophies such as the place of psychic powers for mankind, how to best serve the Imperium, how much worth was mankind compared to them and so on. A few of them could also be called unstable, such as Konrad Curze or Angron, and their father the Emperor was ,at best, distant but could also be cruel and callous to them.
  • Bling of War: Standard battle dress for the Primarchs was solid gold power armour, ranging from Artificer to Terminator armour. Mortarion was actually notable for not having excessive bling.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: The Primarchs' standard arms were master-crafted power and chain weapons. Ferrus Manus was notable for not having blinged-out weaponry.
  • Body Motifs:
    • Eyes: The eye of Horus. One-eyed Magnus.
    • Hands: The disembodied hands of Rogal Dorn. Ferrus Manus' iron hands. The Talon of Horus.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: They had bodyguards of mere Space Marines. Lampshaded by Corax after he dissolves his honour guard during the Drop Site Massacre:
    That was for appearance. Do you think I actually need a bodyguard?
  • Broken Ace: The Primarchs were humanity's greatest heroes and leaders, but they had some issues. The Traitor Primarchs take it Up to Eleven, particularly Angron.
  • Cain and Abel: All the resentment the Primarchs harbored toward each other exploded in violence during the Horus Heresy, resulting in several Primarchs killing their brothers, or at least trying really hard to.
    • Most prominently, Fulgrim killed Ferrus Manus, and Horus killed Sanguinius during the Siege of Terra.
    • Leman Russ hated Magnus so much he didn't think twice when he received orders to exterminate the Thousand Sons along with their leader, and the two battled to the death. Nonetheless both Leman and Magnus survived the battle of Prospero.
    • Konrad Curze killed Vulkan multiple times when he imprisoned the latter, but Vulkan can resurrect.
    • Perturabo and his Iron Warriors goaded Rogal Dorn and his Imperial Fists into besieging a massive fortress of their creation during the "Iron Cage" incident, partially to challenge Dorn's claim that he could tear down any fortification with the proper resources, even one of Perturabo's. Dorn and his sons did in fact break through, but suffered massive casualties and would have been wiped out in Perturabo's final trap within the fortress had Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines not arrived to bail them out.
    • During the Great Scouring, Fulgrim fatally wounded Guilliman during the Battle of Thessala, leading to Guilliman being placed in stasis for the following 10,000+ years.
    • In the 41st millennium, after Guilliman is ressurrected, Magnus hunted Guilliman down and almost killed him on Luna.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: The Horus Heresy in a nutshell. Half of them jumped ship because they wanted to tell Daddy Emperor that he's an asshole.
  • Captain Ersatz: Prior to their first meeting with the Emperor, you had Konrad Curze as a Darker and Edgier version of Batman, Angron as a cyber-augmented Spartacus, and Jaghatai Khan as Genghis Khan.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: All of the Primarchs found themselves on worlds where their skills allowed them to improve the lives of the fellows. Konrad Curze went insane from it.
  • Cultured Badass: The Primarchs were made to be warriors and generals, but some had upbringings that developed more scholarly tastes. Lion El'Jonson, Roboute Guilliman, Lorgar, and Magnus the Red were all very scholarly in their own ways. Lorgar in particular was fond of philosophy while Magnus simply liked all knowledge with an affinity for Warp-related things and made efforts to hoard all kinds of tomes and data. For his part, Fulgrim was an art amateur. These aspirations usually put the more scholarly Primarchs at odds with their war-like siblings: for instance Ferrus Manus, who was a master blacksmith himself, called Lorgar a weakling since his philosophy couldn't be applied to war. Ironically, Ferrus got along wonderfully with the artistic Fulgrim.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Roboute Guilliman's body is a pilgrimage site , or at least it was until it was revealed he was not quite dead. Rogal Dorn's hands are a relic of the Imperial Fists. The rest of his body was never found, leading to the theory that he's still alive somewhere. Lion El'Jonson would be on display, if anyone other than the Watchers in the Dark knew where his body is. Horus' corpse was a thing of reverence for Chaos Marines until the Black Legion destroyed it.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Chaos Gods insist that the Emperor had to cut one with them in order to make the Primarchs, not that Chaos is reliable.
  • Drop the Hammer: Thunder Hammers are popular weapons for Primarchs. Ferrus Manus's is called Forgebreaker (which is given to Perturabo after Ferrus Manus became shorter by a head). Vulkan, being a master smith and craftsman, has several, one called Thunderhead and another called Dawnbreaker. Horus also has a Power Maul called Worldbreaker.
  • The Dutiful Son: Horus (pre-heresy), Rogal Dorn, Sangiunius, and Roboute Guilliman.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Corvus Corax and Konrad Curze.
  • Fiery Red Head: Leman Russ, Magnus the Red, and Angron.
  • Four-Star Badass: What they were designed to be.
  • Genius Bruiser: Their size and brawn make it clear that the Primarchs are great warriors, but they also are military geniuses who could think up the best strategy to conquer a planet, and some of them had knowledge genetically implanted in them.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Envy seemed to be a pretty common problem for Primarchs.
    • Both Guilliman and El'Jonson envied Horus his position as a Warmaster, though they didn't really act on it in any way.
    • Alpharius was jealous of other Primarchs' - especially Guilliman's - numerous victories, as he was rediscovered by the time the Great Crusade was reaching its end and had no opportunity to achieve as much as his brothers.
    • Perturabo was extremely envious of Rogal Dorn and his Legion. He felt like he was being constantly marginalized as his Astartes were often being left behind to build defenses instead of fighting on the frontlines and their contributions were being overlooked in favour of Imperial Fists. This has contributed to his eventual betrayal.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • The downfall of Corvus Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard. After his chapter suffered terrible losses in the Horus Heresy, he turned to highly dangerous growth acceleration techniques to boost its numbers. This resulted in a nightmarish horde of misshapen monsters, most of who couldn't even hold a boltgun, and which had to be herded into battle. When the Heresy was over, Corax locked himself in his tower for a year and a day, finally emerging to personally give each one of his creations "the Emperor's peace" before leaving for parts unknown, his last word being "Nevermore."
    • Rogal Dorn after the Emperor died. He went from being the beloved son to an avenging angel dressed in black, and nearly went full-on Death Seeker.
    • Horus's BSOD was so epic, it ended up destroying the galaxy-wide empire he'd fought so hard to build in the first place.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Not on the level of the Emperor, but the Horus Heresy books show unaugmented humans suffering Brown Notes upon seeing the Primarchs. It's described as sensory overload.
  • Hypocrite: Angron loves to talk about how the Butcher's Nails ruined him, only to use them on his own legion.
  • In-Series Nickname: Overlaps with Red Baron. All the Primarchs bear multiple nicknames, generally meant to convey their status as the Emperor's best generals and warriors, or celebrating a glorious deed.
    • Horus is nicknamed "Lupercal" by his legion (to the point it becomes his surname) and is otherwise known as The Breaker of Tyrants, The Favoured Son or The Eye of Terra.
    • Angron: The Red Angel (he hates that one), Slaughterer of Nations, The Undefeated, Lord of the Red Sands.
    • Fulgrim: The Phoenician (alluding to the same bird as he put his legion back into shape when he came as they were on the brink of annihiliation).
    • Ferrus Manus: The Gorgon, Wyrmslayer, The Bane of Asirnoth.
    • Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter (it even becomes the name of his split personality), The Last Judge, The King of Terrors.
    • Vulkan: The Promethean Fire, The Hammer of Salvation.
    • Lorgar: Aurelian, The Golden, The Voice of Truth, Urizen.
    • Perturabo: The Lord of Iron, The Breaker, The Hammer of Olympia.
    • Rogal Dorn: The Vigilant, The Blade of The Emperor, The Unyielding One.
    • Corvus Corax: The Liberator, Chooser of the Slain, The Shadowed Lord.
    • Roboute Guilliman: The Victorious, Ruler of Hosts, The Blade of Unity.
    • Magnus: The Red, The Sorceror of Prospero, The Crimson King, The Logos Maxima, The Cyclopean Giant.
    • Leman Russ: The Lord of Winter and Ruin, The Wolf King of Fenris.
    • Lion El'Jonson: The First, The Lion.
    • Mortarion: The Pale King, The Traveller, Dread Liberator of Barbarus, Death Lord.
    • Alpharius: The Hydra, The Threefold Serpent.
    • Sanguinius: The Great Angel, The Brightest One.
    • Jaghatai Khan: The Great Khan, The Warhawk.
  • King in the Mountain:
    • The Ultramarines have the poisoned body of Roboute Guilliman in stasis, and some members of the chapter insist that he is slowly healing himself and will someday reawaken. As of The Gathering Storm, turns out they were right.
    • Some Dark Angels similarly believe that Lion El'Jonson is somewhere deep within their traveling asteroid base, The Rock. He is, on life support.
    • The Salamanders, Space Wolves, White Scars, Raven Guard and Imperial Fists' (according to some accounts) Primarchs left their chapters behind and disappeared into myth, many saying they would return for the final battle. Someone who could be Leman Russ was spotted in unconfirmed reports during the thirteenth Black Crusade, leading the long lost Thirteenth Company.
    • The Iron Hands have stories about Ferrus Manus returning, although his head was cut off and presented to Horus.
    • The only one who is explicitly stated to not have any legends of returning is Sanguinius, but there are some theories about who exactly the Sanguinor is, and several Blood Angels have claimed to be Sanguinius reborn, which got ugly quickly.
  • Large and in Charge: The Primarchs were quite large. Fulgrim wearing only a robe is remarked to be a head taller than his own First Captain in Terminator Armour. Even Alpharius and Omegon, the smallest of the Primarchs, were a head taller than the average Space Marine. Magnus was an absolute giant. To give a sense of scale, the average Space Marine stands a little above 2.1 meters (7 feet) tall. Lion El'Jonson, unarmored, is said to be a little over three meters tall. Magnus? Stands a full 5 meters, almost two meters taller than the Lion, and three taller than a Space Marine! Later sources somewhat scale him down to about 3.7 meters. Then again, he can control his size, like the time he made himself Titan-sized to fight one such machine. In-game, Magnus' Daemon Prince model is about as big as an Imperial Knight.
  • The Mothership: Each of the Primarchs had Gloriana-class battleships for a flagship. These ships were enormous as the smallest of them was twenty kilometers long, could fit a whole expeditionary corps and of course had so many guns and shields that they were beyond compare within the fleets of the Imperium. Each of the Gloriana-class battleships were also tailored to the specifications of each Primarch, and as such also reflected them like the Legions reflected their gene-sires. Some of the most known Gloriana-class battleships are the Vengeful Spirit, which was Horus' flagship and the place where Horus battled his father, or the Maccrage's Honour which serves as Roboute Guilliman's flagship after his comeback.
  • Parental Issues: A possible explanation for some of the Primarchs' falls from grace. All were scattered by the Chaos gods across the galaxy as infants, leaving some of them to effectively raise themselves. Horus was the first Primarch recovered and always his favorite, and some of the later Primarchs barely spent any time with their father at all, especially the last one to be found, Alpharius of the Alpha Legion.
  • The Patriarch: Many Space Marines see their Primarchs this way, and the Emperor as that to their Primarchs. Given that all Space Marines are implanted with geneseeds descended from their Primarchs, and the Primarchs themselves were engineered with genes from the Emperor, this is almost literally the case. They have many rituals revering both Primarch and Emperor, resembling almost a form of filial piety and ancestor-worship, compared to the more distant and divine worship common to the rest of the Imperium.
  • Pretty Boy: Sanguinius and Fulgrim are noted to be extraordinarily beautiful in a boyishly youthful way.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • Magnus was the second most powerful psyker in human history, surpassed only by the Emperor. Appropriately, he embodied his father's psychic powers.
    • Sanguinius, Leman Russ, Konrad Curze, Lorgar, Lion el'Jonson, and most if not all of the rest of the Primarchs had at least rudimentary psychic abilities, mostly manifesting in prophetic visions of the future.
    • Lorgar was able to ward off Magnus's psychic projection. Sure, Magnus was light years away, but it is still a feat far beyond any alpha plus psyker of 40k.
  • Punny Name: Lion El'Jonson, Angron, Ferrus Manus.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Horus versus the Emperor.
  • Raised by Natives: Most of the Primarchs.
  • Raised by Wolves: Lion El'Jonnson, Konrad Curze, and Leman Russ (quite literally). Well, after he crawled out of the volcano he made planetfall in...
  • Rebel Leader: Lorgar, Angron, Corvus Corax, and Mortarion.
  • Religious Bruiser: Lorgar, with terrible consequences. Also, in a shamanistic variant, Leman Russ.
  • The Resenter:
    • Perturabo towards Rogal Dorn.
    • Horus suspected that Roboute Guilliman and Lion El'Jonnson resented not being chosen as Warmaster.
    • Alpharius in general, though especially towards Guilliman, for not being able to match his victory tally due to his late discovery (though this trope has been downplayed in much of the more recent lore).
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Since they're considered the Emperor's sons, they're technically royalty. Ultimately subverted however, in that he never intended them to rule the Imperium, fearing that such a trend would lead instead to humanity being ruled by a genetically enhanced ruling class (ironic, considering that the Emperor was barely human himself), instead of by its own. Forcing them to be beholden to their inferiors who did nothing to help establish the Imperium also helped contribute to the Horus Heresy.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Imperium actively suppresses knowledge of the Heresy and of Chaos and refuses to acknowledge that the any of the Emperor's children were flawed in any way. The vast majority of the Imperium only know a fabricated legend where the Emperor created the nine Primarchs to fight against nine devils. After handily defeating the devils, the nine Primarchs, all still alive and accounted for, went to sleep until the Imperium needed them again.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Present and accounted for. Since there's twenty of said siblings, elaborating would certainly get verbose.
  • The Strategist: Horus, Roboute Guilliman, Rogal Dorn, and Perturabo. Some lore has stated that Corax was a better tactician than Horus, and that many of Horus' most acclaimed victories were actually Horus taking credit for Corax's work. This doesn't seem likely, given how late in the Crusade Corax was recovered, and the amateur mistakes he made after Isstvan, however.
  • Super Prototype: The Primarchs were the most perfect biogenically engendered beings created by the Emperor and his scientists. Each Primarch was then used as a genetic basis to the less powerful, but far more numerous, Astartes who made-up the bulk of the armed force the Emperor used to launch the Great Crusade.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Mortarion and Vulkan.
    • Perturabo, minus the peaceful.
  • Uncertain Doom: The fate of the Primarchs has become mythic in its uncertainty.
    • Ferrus Manus, Fulgrim and Alpharius are all thought to be dead, but some say He's Just Hiding!. The real Alpharius was killed by Rogal Dorn in a battle at Pluto during the early stages of Horus' drive for Terra, prompting Omegon to take on his twin's identity.
    • Vulkan disappeared without a trace. Earlier fluff implied he's held captive by a Necron; he was last seen during the second invasion of Ullanor, sacrificing himself to kill The Beast... and failing.
    • Jaghatai Khan, Leman Russ and Corax were Put on a Bus into the Eye of Terror.
    • Rogal Dorn vanished in battle. All that's left of him is one of his disembodied hands.
    • Lion and Guilliman are in a coma. No one knew if they would ever wake up, though at least the latter has and there are rumors that Cypher of the Fallen has something to say about the former...
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Leman Russ and Lion El'Jonson had a violent altercation over a Kill Steal by the latter; though it worsened relations between them, they still considered themselves brothers, and Russ himself had eventually realized the foolishness of the fight... though his self-deprecating outburst of laughter was misinterpreted by El'Jonson as mockery, earning Russ a punch that knocked him out cold for hours. That said, the confrontation became the basis for a bitter feud between their legions, though recent events imply that they have reconciled.
  • Warrior Prince: By the time the Emperor found the Primarchs, most of them had united their homeworlds or overthrown its corrupt rulers.
  • Weapon of Choice: All of the Primarchs had unique and powerful weapons, detailed below.
    • Fitting his brutal nature, Angron originally wielded a massive two-handed chainaxe called Widowmaker that was destroyed during the Night of the Wolf (an altercation between the Space Wolves and World Eaters). He then replaced it with another massive two-handed chainaxe he named Brazentooth. To cement the alliance between the World Eaters and the Word Bearers during the Heresy, Angron presented Brazentooth to Lorgar as a gift. It was then lost after the Word Bearer ship it was on blew up. Angron then wielded a pair of chainaxes named Gorefather and Gorechild. Though they were damaged during the Battle of Amatura, Khârn would later have Gorechild repaired for his personal use. Similarly, Leman Russ wielded a powerful axe named the Axe of Helwinter.
    • The second of Horus's two weapons was Worldbreaker, a Power Maul gifted to him by the Emperor that acted as both a weapon and a symbol of his authority as the Warmaster. Lorgar's signature weapon was the Illuminarum, a power maul that was forged for him by Ferrus Manus and which could easily send Guilliman flying.
    • Lion El'Jonson had one called the Lion Sword. Leman Russ also had a Cool Sword of his own called Mjalnar, a sword lined with the teeth of a Fenrisian Kraken. Rogal Dorn had a massive chainsword called Storm's Teeth; he also had another one that he shattered after the Siege of Terra, its shards forged into the Sword of the High Marshal and replaced by the Sword of Sebastus. Fulgrim had Fireblade, made for him by Ferrus Manus. Roboute Guilliman had the Gladius Incandor. For their part, Sanguinius wielded the Blade Encarmine. Jaghatai Khan had the White Tiger Dao.
    • Sanguinius also wielded the Spear of Telesto and Alpharius the Pale Spear.
    • Vulkan used Dawnbringer, a war-hammer too heavy for any but a Primarch to wield that also contained a personal teleportation device. Ferrus Manus favoured Forgebreaker, forged for him by Fulgrim, which was later wielded by Perturabo.
    • Roboute Guilliman's Hand of Dominion, which combined with his strength could bring down Titans.
    • Mortarion's is a huge Sinister Scythe called Manreaper Silence, which completed his Grim Reaper look.
    • The first of Horus's two weapons was The Talon of Horus, a Lightning Claw that was later used by Abaddon. Corvus Corax wielded the Panoply of the Raven Lord, which included a pair of Lightning Claws along with an energised whip. Konrad Curze preferred a pair of comparatively smaller, wrist-mounted Lightning Claws named Mercy and Forgiveness.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • It shows up the most clearly in the Horus Heresy series with at least half of the 18 Primarchs with Konrad Curze feeling like he's becoming evil for the Emperor and Fulgrim, when Horus tells him that the Emperor will become a god and dispose of them, responds that he has longed for the Emperor's love and respect.

    The Lost Primarchs 

Primarchs II and XI

[ALL RECORDS EXPUNGED FROM LIBRARY - ORDER ORIGINATION UNKNOWN]


  • Adventure-Friendly World: These unknown Primarchs are another facet in the vast variance of the Warhammer 40,000 universe that lets players simply fill it in however they want.
  • Empty Chair Memorial: The closest thing they'll get to acknowledgement. Roboute at one point has a table set out with chairs for ''all' the Primarchs, II and XI's included, unadorned and with the acknowledgement that they're never going to show up. He maintains the places must be kept anyhow.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Word of God says there's no intention of ever resolving this mystery, though we have been given some hints to work with.
    • The Space Wolves acquired the sobriquet "The Emperor's Executioners," for having fought other Space Marines even before the Horus Heresy (the conflicts with the World Eaters and Dark Angels also being called the most infamous). It should be noted that it's rumored they nominated themselves, and is believed that they are trying to justify why there is a Legion such as the Space Wolves amongst the Astartes (taking the role, rather than being designed for it).
    • In the Regimental Standard (an in-universe (though satirical) military publication, similar to the real world Army Times), a copy of The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer 's section of medical treatment of a lasgun wound was mistakenly replaced with a concise history of the Rangdan Xenocides, including direct mention of the unknown Legions fighting alongside the Solar Auxilia during the campaign. Likewise, in The Horus Heresy Book Seven, it is hinted that one or perhaps both of the missing Legions were lost during the Rangdan Xenocides. It should be noted that the Space Wolves legion also took part in the Rangdan Xenocides.
    • Sanguinius worries in Fear to Tread that his legion will be marked as genetically compromised and become "a third empty plinth beneath the roof of the Hegemon" on Terra.
    • There's some in-universe speculation that the Ultramarines received a large influx of recruits during the Great Crusade, perhaps from a legion that no longer officially exists. This would also explain the deviation amongst some of the Ultramarines' successor chapters.
    • There is also mention that the Adepta Sororitas were ordered to destroy a great amount of Space Marines quickly at some point; it is entirely possible that these were the members of one of the missing Legions. This also implies that said Legion was Chaos-aligned since the Sororitas specialise in fighting heretics. Later subject to Retcon since the Sororitas were only founded thousands of years later.
    • It's also worth noting that an official illustration of Malcador shows his throne as being adorned with a pair of skulls labeled with the numbers of the two missing legions, suggesting that he had some kind of involvement in their disappearance.
    • Clonelord mentions that one of the two lost Primarchs visited a Necron Monolith at one point, prior to his execution. It is unknown if this had any connection to his death.
    • There are hints that the Lost Primarchs may have been killed during or after a war known as the Rangdan Xenocides, which was so terrible it cost many Expeditionary Fleets and dozens of Titan Legions, and required the Emperor to open the Noctis Labyrinthus on Mars.
    • The Chamber at the End of Memory gives a few hints as to what happened. Dorn was involved, and when he learns just a partial bit of the truth, trying to find out why he gave the order, what he sees scares him, and makes the Horus Heresy look light and fluffy by comparison, and that the Imperium would already be a wreck if they hadn't been scoured.
  • Un-person: The Primarchs of the II and XI legions were at some point completely expunged from Imperium record, and the reasons why are completely unknown. They are alluded to a couple of times in the Horus Heresy books, but whenever they are the person who brought them up is very quickly reminded not to talk about it.
  • You Have Failed Me: Roboute Guilliman explained to an Ecclesiarchy priest that the two Primarchs "failed" in some way, which led to whatever happened to them.

Loyalist Primarchs

    Lion El'Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/imageedit_19_5011867779.png
Lion El'Jonson was scattered to the planet Caliban, a verdant world near the Eye of Terror where a knighthood called the Order battled against mutated monsters. A knight named Luther found this wild child in the jungles and brought him back to his fortress-monastery, where El'Jonson quickly assimilated Caliban's culture and climbed the ranks of the Order. Soon he was its Supreme Grand Master and the Lion had cleansed Caliban of beasts, while jealousy grew in his friend Luther.

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

Enraged beyond rational thought, the Lion dueled his former mentor while the Dark Angels blew apart their homeworld in an orbital bombardment. In the end, Caliban was destroyed, the rebellious Fallen Angels were scattered across space and time by a Warp rift, and the Primarch disappeared. Unbeknownst to his followers, El'Jonson was taken by the Watchers in the Dark, and slumbers in a hidden chamber deep within the Dark Angels' fortress-monastery, making him one of the two loyalist Primarchs known for certain to still be alive, alongside Roboute Guilliman.
  • Aloof Leader, Affable Subordinate: Lion's poor social skills meant that he had to rely on the more sociable Luther to handle interpersonal matters.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Some of the Fallen accuse Lion of having waited out the Heresy to see who would win. He didn't. He was fighting Konrad Curze and helping Sanguinius and Guilliman rebuild Ultramar.
  • Archenemy: Konrad Curze. It all started when Curze slandered El'Jonson, leading to a brawl that had Curze almost strangling The Lion to death. Out of all the Traitor Primarchs, El'Jonson hated Curze the most.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Among the quietest primarchs, he is also among the top 3 primarchs in number of military victories (rivaled only by Dorn and only surpassed by Horus), he broke Curze's back, unleashed holy hell on the traitors within his legion, made sure the traitor legions had no place to call home after the Siege of Terra and unnerves even other primarchs.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Lion stabbed Konrad Curze through the gut with his sword during the meeting on the planet Tsagualsa where Konrad invited him to parley. This was after Konrad Curze made the slight of insulting the Dark Angels by calling their future loyalty into question.
  • Fatal Flaw: Due to spending his childhood alone in the deadly forests of Caliban, Jonson had trouble reading people and found it difficult to relate to others.
  • Honor Before Reason: While he was very much a Combat Pragmatist, when Lion felt his honor was besmirched or he was sufficiently enraged he would throw tactics aside to fight alone when he would better be served fighting alongside allies. When Konrad Curze was rampaging through the lower decks of his ship during the Heresy when the Dark Angels were heading to Ultramar, the Lion ordered the decks sealed and went hunting himself instead of preparing kill teams to find the traitor, and later would grow obsessed with hunting down Konrad on Ultramar when he escaped.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Acknowledged to be one in-universe. For all his tactical brilliance, El'Jonson was horrible at reading people and discerning if they could be trusted or not. He relied on Luther to make those judgments for him until Luther was "exiled" back to Caliban.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Both in backstory and deed — El'Jonson's code of personal honor meant that he was the only Primarch that Guilliman said he could look up to, who similarly thought that the Lion was the only possible contender for Warmaster other than Horus.
  • Lonely at the Top: Lion held himself to an incredibly high standard that few people could meet, even amongst his fellow Primarchs. This large-than-life sensation he typically gave off tended to isolate him from others and prevent him from being able to relate to anyone. It was implied by Lion himself that he carries immense feelings of loneliness because of how singular he believes he is.
  • Master Swordsman: The Lion could draw and strike with his blade faster than Konrad Curze could react.
  • Meaningful Name: Translates to "The Lion, Son of the Forest."
  • The Quiet One: The most reclusive primarch, preferring to let his adopted brother/best friend Luther do all the socializing.
  • No Social Skills: Without Luther by his side, he was socially hopeless. He didn't understand people and they didn't understand him.
  • Pragmatic Hero: He was by far the most ruthless primarch on the loyalist side. He was also more brutal than most (if not all) traitor Primarchs. He was willing to blow up planets, innocent people and all, if it meant that he would destroy his enemies. The fact that Mortarion admitted to admiring him in Lords of Silence speaks volumes. In regards to the Imperium Secundus trinity, Guilliman and Sanguinius were the heroes, while the Lion did the dirty work. Lord of the First makes it clear that he is the emperor's true executioner, whereas Leman Russ is simply the deterrent to scare enemies into compliance. The Lion was specifically made to perform the most ruthless, genocidal and planet-exterminating tasks, without a hint of hesitation, pity or remorse.
  • The Rival: To Leman Russ. The two butted heads frequently, especially over a particular incident that led to a nearly two-day-long brawl between them that ended with Lion cold-cocking Russ, which became the basis of the honor duels that the Dark Angels and Space Wolves still fight. Despite their friction, they both agreed that the Emperor naming Horus as Warmaster was confirmation of his being the favorite son.
  • Social Climber: Lion was very ambitious and wanted to be Warmaster. He got his wish when Guilliman made him Lord Protector of Imperium Secundus. On the other hand, he didn't care for any kind of recognition or praise, it was all just about the position.
  • The Stoic: He wasn't a very emotional person.
  • The Strategist: He was an extremely good tactician, to the point that some people consider him to have been better than Horus himself.
  • Sudden Name Change: Used to be named Lyyn Elgonsen. This was changed fairly early.
  • Tranquil Fury: In direct contrast to Leman Russ. It wasn't easy to get Jonson riled up, but it was even harder to calm him back down.
  • Undying Loyalty: Many primarchs questioned his loyalty to the Emperor, but in the end he turned out to be maybe the most loyal primarch of all. The ruinous powers couldn't tempt him with anything. As he tells Curze "loyalty is its own reward."
  • Wild Child: By all rights that jungle should have killed him. The jungle failed.

    Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/0bcaaebd5874e972772d8e68b55c4b31.jpg
"Focus upon the foes you see before you, but be mindful always that the open plain can conceal an army. Guard your flanks, watch the horizon and remain mobile. In this way you will ever be the hunter and never the prey."
Barutai Khan, reading from the writings of Jagatai Khan

The capsule carrying Jaghatai came to rest on the planet of Chogoris where he was taken in by the chief of a nomadic tribe living in the Empty Quarter, the steppes beyond the world's dominant empire. After his adopted father was slain by a rival tribe, Jaghatai exacted a horrible revenge against them before going on to unite all the other tribes under his rule and leading them in an assault against their more civilised neighbours that razed their cities and saw Jaghatai recognised as the Khan of Khans.

When the Emperor arrived six months later, Jaghatai recognised a ruler fit to unite humanity and took command of the V Legion, which he renamed the White Scars after the traditional facial scars of his adopted people. In addition to adopting the rituals and culture of Chogoris, the Legion also incorporated the tactics of Jaghatai's mounted warriors to become a powerful, highly-mobile army. The Great Khan was also instrumental, along with Sanguinius and Magnus the Red, in founding the Space Marine Legions' Librarius program, something that caused friction with several of his brothers, and eventually the Emperor. As such, Jaghatai and the White Scars kept to themselves, waging their own campaigns against xenos threats during the Great Crusade.

Records are sparse about the actions undertaken by the White Scars during the initial stages of the Horus Heresy, with some unconfirmed, and strenuously denied, reports of infighting within the Legion itself. What records do survive, however, indicate that Jaghatai rushed back to Terra in order to fight alongside the Emperor, leading the White Scars in many sallies from into Horus’ lines during the Siege of Terra, and pursued the traitors to the Eye of Terror when the siege failed. Jaghatai Khan led The White Scars for seventy years following the Heresy until the fateful Battle of Corusil V, where the Warhawk and his 1st Brotherhood disappeared while pursuing a Drukhari lord into the Webway.


  • Badass Biker: Raised amongst the horse mounted tribes of Chogoris, once reunited with the Emperor, Jaghatai successfully adapted his people's traditional method of warfare to Imperial technology. Fighting from the back of a prototype Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike, Jaghatai gained a fierce reputation as a mighty warrior who, during the Siege of Terra, once personally slew 40 Death Guard Marines in a single engagement.
  • Badass Moustache: As with many of his Chapter, Jaghatai is always depicted with a Fu Manchu-style moustache to fit his Mongol appearance, with some older artwork showing it stretching down to his chest.
  • Blood Knight: It was said that the piece of the Emperor that Jaghatai inherited was his love of battle, and this was further nurtured by his upbringing amongst the warlike Chogorian tribes. Unlike many of his brothers, while he succeeded in in conquering his home world, Jaghatai had no interest in actually ruling it and, when he was reunited with the Emperor, the Warhawk willingly joined the great crusade so that he could help conquer the galaxy for his father to rule.
  • The Chains of Commanding: A solitary individual at heart, Jaghatai cared for nothing more than the thrill of the hunt and the freedom of riding across the steppes, refusing to personally rule the empire he conquered before being reunited with the Emperor. This has led to some White Scars believing that their Primarch intentionally allowed himself to disappear into the webway, so that he could be free of his responsibilities and hunt eternally through a whole new dimension.
  • Cultured Badass: Like the native tribes that raised him, Jaghatai mixed a barbaric love of battle with cultural pursuits such as calligraphy, poetry and strategy games. The Khan of Khans was a strong believer that warriors should do more than just train their bodies for war and encouraged his Astartes to develop their minds as well so that they could see the bigger picture of a battle beyond personal combat.
  • Fatal Flaw: Highly independent, Jaghatai was a loner who interacted little with his brothers except Magnus (himself distrusted by many Legions). As a result of this attitude, when the Horus Heresy erupted nobody really trusted him, as they were unsure which side he would eventually join.
  • Hover Bike: One of Jaghatai's favoured mounts is the prototype Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike. Capable of true flight for a limited time and able to operate in space, the Voidbike was technically classed as a fighter craft and was far in advance of those ridden by rank-and-file Astartes.
  • King in the Mountain: Shortly after the conclusion of the Horus Heresy, Jaghatai Khan and the entirety of the White Scars' 1st Brotherhood vanished into an Aeldari portal in pursuit of the leader of a Drukhari raiding force. While some members of the Chapter think that Jaghatai did this deliberately so that he could be free of his responsibilities to the Imperium, the majority of White Scars believe that the Khan of Khans is still fighting somewhere within the labyrinthine dimension of the webway, and will one day return to lead the Chapter once again.
  • The Kirk: To Rogal Dorn's Spock and Sanguinius' Mccoy. Jaghatai saw it as his duty to save the people of Terra, numbers game be damned, but he was far less reluctant to sacrifice his men than Sanguinius was.
  • Master Swordsman: Jaghatai was considered to be one of the three greatest blade masters of all the Primarchs, with only Lion El'Johnosn and Fulgrim matching him in skill. In battle, Jaghatai fought with both speed and skill, and was equally effective whether he was fighting on foot or from the saddle of his voidbike.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: With his Mongolian appearance and his backstory involving uniting desperate tribes of horsemen to conquer a more advanced, city-based civilization, Jaghatai is based on the leaders of the historical Mongol Empire, particularly Genghis Khan and his family. His name is even an alternate spelling of Chagatai Khan, the hot-headed second son of Genghis Khan.
  • Only Sane Man: Although the Khan and his legion had a reputation for being savages, he may very well have been the most levelheaded primarch. He saw the flaws in the Emperor's logic in regards to his Great Crusade, understood precisely why Magnus should not have been so reckless with the warp, gave Fulgrim a dressing-down in regards to his flaws and insecurities and correctly pointed out how Mortarion (the primarch who hated psykers and sorcerers the most) was both directly and indirectly responsible for there being more psykers and sorcerers than ever before.
  • The Quiet One: Due to being raised on the wide-open steppes of Chogoris, Jaghatai was known to be one of the more reclusive and independently minded Primarchs. While he wasn't rude and was very polite, he was very private and eschewed bragging, preferring to keep his cards close to his chest and rarely revealed his secrets to others. His love of battle over statesmanship also led to him becoming less engaged in the political controversy, intrigue and turmoil that went on prior to and during the Horus Heresy.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Due to his own independent spirit, and his battles against the tyrannical civilisation that attempted to oppress his people on Chogoris, Jaghatai promoted his warriors on merit alone and was a lot more open to independent thought than some of his brothers, so long as they remained loyal to him. When returning to Chogoris after the Heresy, for example, many of his officers thought the garrison that had been left to guard the home world should have been punished for sending troops to defend neighbouring systems and therefore allow Drukhari raiders to enslave many of their own planet's tribesmen. Jaghatai refused, recognising that the garrison had done the best they could with their limited numbers and actually applauded their independent spirit for doing as well as they had.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jaghatai's background material mentions that, after his adopted father, Ong, was killed by a rival tribe, the young Primarch led the retaliatory assault against their village that resulted in the death of every man, woman and child in the enemy tribe so that he could bathe in their blood. This incident led to Jaghatai being known as a man of both honour and ruthlessness and set him on the path to uniting the disparate tribes of Chogoris.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Due to exposure to the shamanic superstitions of the tribesmen that raised him, Jaghatai recognized the value of those with psychic abilities to humanity and quietly campaigned for their acceptance in the Imperium as a whole. When the Emperor basically banned the use of Librarians through the Edict of Nikaea, the pragmatic Jaghatai ordered his Legion to ignore the prohibition and continue using to use psykers. As a result of this, the Legion was far better prepared to face daemonic threats during the Horus Heresy than many others.
  • Victory Is Boring: The Warhawk loved fighting more than winning and conquered his home world of Chogoris mainly for revenge against his enemies, not because he had any interest in creating an empire. Once he left to join the White Scars he let his domain fall back into warring nations.
  • Wild Card: Due to none of his brothers truly understanding him, nobody was entirely sure who Jaghatai would side with when the Horus Heresy broke out. In the end, despite Horus thinking he would be one of the easiest Primarchs to win over and Mortarion attempting to recruit him to the rebel side, the Warhawk stayed true to his oaths by joining the loyalists and fighting to protect the Imperium at the Siege of Terra.

    Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_1leman2.png

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

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

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

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


  • The Alcoholic: He and his legion are pretty much the only Space Marines to consume alcohol (though they have to imbibe it in quantities that would kill a normal human several times over in order to overcome their superhuman constitution). Notable in that when the Emperor first came to Fenris, Russ challenged him to a drinking contest and won!
  • Anti-Magic: Leman's body and mind has a rather strong resistance towards the effects of The Warp and psychic Powers, more so than most of his brothers. However, he was not fully aware of this resistance until his battle against Magnus The Red during the Sacking of Prospero, where he was able to shrug off magical blows that would have injured or even killed some of the other Primarchs.
  • Attack Animal: Russ was often accompanied into battle by Freki and Geri, the Wolf-kin of Russ, who would tear and bite at their brother's enemies with their razor-sharp teeth and claws. These two mighty Fenrisian wolves were the last of the pack that raised the young Primarch after his arrival on Fenris.
  • Big Eater: As well as Big Drinker. Quite often, when the Emperor came incognito to one of his missing sons' homeworlds, he'd challenge them in different forms of duels, but these end in either draw or victory for the Emperor. Russ was the only one who beat the Emperor, although that was on eating and drinking. The Emperor then called Russ a glutton and a drunkard, which incensed Russ enough to challenge him in combat. The Emperor won handily enough.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Spear of Russ. Russ never really used it, but successive Space Wolf heroes have developed a tendency to throw the thing into the eye of Magnus the Red.
  • Blood Knight: A heroic example — he loves a good scrap.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He is one, but he tends to inflate this concept to help create the 'barbarian king' persona to others. There is some speculation that it's a coping mechanism to deal with some of the orders his Wolves have executed.
  • Brutal Honesty: While perhaps not to the extent of Rogal Dorn, Russ was not known for his tact in conversation and tended to wear his emotions on his sleeve. If he didn't like something about you, he likely wouldn't hesitate to say it to your face.
  • Character Development: He admits that he was tricked into attacking Magnus, and even goes so far as to say that the fact Chaos went that far shows that sorcerers DO have a place. He still feels that the way Magnus went about it was phenomenally reckless.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Leman Russ earned such a brutal reputation during the Great Crusade that the Space Wolves were nicknamed "the Rout".
    • Leman himself was on the receiving end of one at the hands of Angron in a duel... which was exactly what Russ wanted: he would lose, but his warriors would kill Angron in return. Lorgar was baffled that Angron never understood the lesson Russ was trying to teach.
    • This even extends to the tabletop game where he massacres any other Primarch that gets in his way, even Horus and transfigured Lorgar. An example of Gameplay and Story Integration, since he and his Space Wolves were the Emperor's designated "Primarch and Space Marine" killers.
  • Death World: His home of Fenris.
  • Depending on the Artist: If he's a Fiery Redhead or blond and if he's clean-shaven or has a Badass Beard are the two most common back-and-forths regarding his appearance. Since Forge World's army book and model showcase present him as blonde and clean-shaven (as depicted in the pic above), it can be assumed there's finally a canonical answer to this.
  • Does Not Like Magic: One of the most outspoken anti-psyker Primarchs, rivaled only by Mortarion. He insisted that his Rune Priests were completely different and channeled the natural forces of Fenris, even though they were functionally identical to the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons. And then it turns out that he was right. The "Spirit of Fenris" is real, and not daemonic. Played with in that during the Horus Heresy he admits that Chaos's attempts to trick him prove that psykers do have a place; his problem is that Magnus was incredibly reckless with it.
  • Drinking Contest: A significant part of the legend of Russ and the Emperor's first meeting, followed by an Eating Contest.
  • Dual Wielding: The model and rules for Leman Russ in the Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness game, have the Wolf-King fighting with a pair of weapons, the Frostaxe Helwinter and Mjalnar, the sword of Balenight.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first edition of the game, before the concept of Primarchs was introduced, Leman Russ was merely a commander of a Space Wolves. This also means that he is technically the first Primarch to be introduced in the franchise.
  • Eating Contest: By this point the Emperor got annoyed, and accused Russ of proving only that the Wolf-King was the greater glutton.
  • Famous Last Words: "Listen closely Brothers, for my life's breath is all but spent. There shall come a time far from now when our Chapter itself is dying, even as I am now dying, and our foes shall gather to destroy us. Then my children, I shall listen for your call in whatever realm of death holds me, and come I shall, no matter what the laws of life and death forbid. At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime."
  • Fatal Flaw: His Undying Loyalty meant he never questioned his orders, which left him very easy to manipulate. Also, his lack of tact and understanding for others meant he was unpopular among his brothers.
  • Fiery Redhead: Well, he's described as such in the books. Other times he's described as blond. The artwork doesn't help either.
  • Find the Cure!: One of the theories put forward by the Space Wolves over the years for the reason he disappeared is that Russ is searching for the mythical Tree of Life to heal the Emperor of his wounds.
  • Jerkass: Russ had an extremely combative personality and of all the Primarchs only Angron was more prone to starting fights amongst his brothers. To wit, he fought with Magnus (over his use of sorcerers), Jaghatai Khan (over his founding of the Librarius program), Guilliman (over being asked to split up his legion), Angron (over his bloodthirsty way of waging war), and El'Jonson (see the Kill Steal entry below).
  • Hypocrite: While he hated psychic powers, he allowed Rune Priests to exist, which he justified with the reason that the magic they channeled is completely different. He was right.
  • Kill Steal: The heart of the feud between Russ and Lion El'Jonson. The leader of the planet Dulan had insulted Russ, who fought his way to the enemy's throne room just in time to see El'Jonson behead him. Russ socked El'Jonson in the jaw, leading to a protracted battle that abruptly ended when Russ started laughing at his own immaturity. El'Jonson responded by knocking Russ cold and leaving with his Dark Angels in a huff.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: In both battle and personal interactions (usually moreso the latter), Russ had a habit of just rushing forward and doing things his way rather than taking time to think things through. His feuds with Magnus, Angron, and Lion El'Jonson (in fact, the latter two were incredibly similar to himself in many ways) probably could have been handled much better if he tried to go about his interactions with them with a bit more consideration and less hot-headed anger.
  • Mage Killer: Due to his great resistance towards psychic powers as well as his great hatred towards psykers, he's pretty darn effective at taking out spellslingers.
  • Military Maverick: According to legend, Leman Russ refused to take any shit from anyone, up to and including the Emperor. He certainly wasn't going to take any from Roboute Guilliman, friend or not, and he nearly started a civil war to maintain the independence of the Space Wolves Legion.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: He doesn't care if he is ordered to kill an entire chapter of Space Marines, even if they are led by his own brothers. If the Emperor says it, he will do it without question. This bit the Imperium in the ass since he didn't see anything wrong with Horus telling him that the Emperor wanted Magnus and the Thousand Sons dead, unaware that the Emperor merely wanted Magnus detained and brought back to Terra alive to answer for damaging the Webway Project and that Horus had gone traitor by this point. The fact it was Magnus probably didn't help matters either, and the end result was the loss of an entire Legion to Chaos.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or, more precisely, Viking Werewolf Space Marine Demigod.
  • Odd Friendship: Against all odds, with Lorgar. In Betrayer, Russ actually compliments one of Lorgar's written works, and in The First Heretic, Magnus tells Lorgar that Russ argued for preserving Lorgar's place in the Great Crusade and sparing him excommunication when the Emperor was pondering just that. Lorgar even once managed to stop the two of them from duking it out simply by telling them to stop.
  • Raised by Wolves: The infant Russ was first discovered by a mother Thunderwolf who, sensing his feral spirit, adopted the young Primarch and raised him as one of her own cubs.
  • Wild Child: He was one of these when the people of Fenris found him.

    Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_rogaldorn.png

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

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

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

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


  • The Atoner: Dorn was plagued by guilt over his perceived failure of the Emperor at the close of the Heresy and the near-civil war that followed soon after, and sought penance through a crusade and the battle against the Iron Warriors that became the Iron Cage incident. He was willing to get every one of his men killed in order to capture Perturabo.
  • Beneath the Mask: Dorn feared his own divinity.
  • Blade on a Stick: He's rarely depicted with one, but one Imperial Fists successor chapter, the Soul Drinkers, believe that Dorn used one called the Soulspear.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Rogal Dorn kept a fur robe from his adoptive father and treasured his memory of him so much that he slept with it every night. This means the Primarch who was so resolute that it could be considered his biggest flaw also kinda slept with a security blanket. His Undying Loyalty and sense of duty were also arguable manifestations that he went about his work fastidiously for the benefit of his fellows.
  • Brutally Honest: Rogal Dorn did not mince words even when he really probably should have - an example was when he replied to Fulgrim asking if Dorn thought that he would be able to make a fortress that Perturbo wouldn't be able to breach. While Dorn was not boastful in simply replying that he could, Perturbo having constantly smarted over a lack of respect while also being jealous that Dorn was building and fortifying on Terra as he would have liked to been left him furious.
  • Cool Sword: Wielded a massive chainsword named Storm's Teeth.
  • Determinator: Said to have inherited the Emperor's iron will.
  • The Dutiful Son: Dorn had no interest in renown or recognition, and fortified Terra uncomplainingly when he was ordered to while his brothers went on with the glory of expanding the Imperium. He was outright dutiful to the point of Undying Loyalty, and the Traitor Primarchs never believed for a second that they could ever hope to sway Dorn over to them.
  • Fatal Flaw: Dorn's Determinator tendencies often unfortunately translated into Attack! Attack! Attack! on the battlefield. The most famous instance of this was the Iron Cage Incident, where his legion were led into a trap and consequently massacred and humiliated by the Iron Warriors.
  • Four-Star Badass: Dorn was one of the greatest military minds of the Crusade; while his particular speciality was in defense and fortification, he had a broad overall skillset and was considered exemplary by both Guilliman and Horus.
  • Frontline General: While he preferred to lead from a strategic command center as to keep oversight over a battle, Dorn has no trouble entering a fight and throwing down, for example at the Battle of Pluto where he slew his traitor brother Alpharius.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: Firmly on the discipline side, which is precisely why Malcador doesn't tell him about the warp as Dorn would have tried to master it, which would lead to disaster.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dorn really didn't take the deaths of Sanguinius and Horus (more the former than the latter, but Horus was close to him once upon a time) and the entombment of the Emperor on the Golden Throne well at all. He blamed himself for all of it, especially not being by the Emperor's and Sanguinius's sides in their darkest hour, and threw himself and his Legion into hunting down the Traitor Legions with a zeal unmatched by any other loyalist. By the time of the "Iron Cage" incident, Dorn was verging on Death Seeker and threw himself and his sons into the fray with no help, no reinforcements, and no battle plan more complicated than "break the daemonic fortress down and drag Perturabo back to Terra".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He once remarked that he could breach any fortification given the right resources, including one built and designed by Perturabo; he made those remarks within earshot of the latter. After falling to Chaos, Perturabo paid him back for that during the Iron Cage incident wherein Dorn did indeed get to penetrate a fortress Perturabo designed and built... and lost a countless number of his sons as a result.
  • Never Found the Body: Although early background material claims that Dorn’s entire body was recovered after his death, later versions of the story state that only one of his hands was ever found.
  • Not So Different: Much is made of Perturabo's petulance and pettiness. Dorn's rival is shown to have almost (or no) moral boundary he won't cross, and desired Dorn's humiliation at all costs. A classic villain, and a stark foil to Dorn before the Heresy. However, by the time of the Iron Cage incident, Dorn's grief had twisted him into someone quite similar to Perturabo. While Perturabo didn't get the victory he wanted, he did show the galaxy how monstrous Dorn had become, as Dorn forced almost his entire legion to die to "atone" for his own perceived sin.
  • Praetorian Guard: Dorn and his Fists spent so much time as the Emperor's vanguard that they earned a reputation as the Emperor's Praetorians, just as much as the Emperor's actual Praetorian Guard, the Custodes.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Dorn never fully accepted Guillman's Codex Astartes reforms, and secretly made contingency plans for all descendants of the Seventh Legion to unite under a quasi-legionary structure in times of grave crisis. Known as the Last Wall protocol, this had been invoked once thus far, in M32 during the massive Ork WAAAGH! led by The Beast, which saw Terra under siege for the first time since the Heresy.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The "Iron Cage" incident. Dorn declared that he'd put Perturabo into an iron cage, only for the Iron Warriors' Primarch to more or less throw down the gauntlet and challenge him to take his "Eternal Fortress." Dorn skipped his usual planning phase in his rush to bring the traitor to justice, but when his Fists fought their way to the central keep, they found it empty and themselves now in the kill-zone of twenty square miles of bunkers and razorwire. The Iron Warriors were able to pick the Imperial Fists apart while Dorn's men had to use their battle-brothers' corpses as cover, and it was only thanks to the arrival of the Ultramarines that they weren't all killed.
  • Self-Harm: Dorn invented the Pain Glove as a tool for his meditation after the Emperor's fall, and the entire Legion felt its touch in order to be symbolically reborn. Since then, use of the Pain Glove has become a fundamental part of the Imperial Fists' philosophy.
  • The Spock: To Sanguinius' Mccoy and Jaghatai Khan's Kirk, during the Siege of Terra. Dorn saw the defense of Terra as a cold and brutal numbers game.
  • Undying Loyalty: Dorn is the only Loyalist Primarch that Horus and the other Traitor Primarchs didn't even pretend or suggest had a chance of joining their side because he was loyal to the Emperor to an absolute fault, such that even his own flaws wouldn't sway him from his side.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Dorn would not lie under any circumstances, even if it helped his cause. The most famous case was when Horus asked whether the Imperial Palace could withstand an assault by the Iron Warriors, and Dorn concluded that yes, if properly defended his fortifications were impenetrable. This drove Perturabo into a snarling rage and set their long rivalry in motion.
  • You Are in Command Now: Was made acting Lord-Commander of the Imperium while his father secluded himself in the Imperial Webway fixing the damage Magnus had done, with Dorn ruling the Loyalist worlds still accessible through the Ruinstorm.

    Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sanguinius2.png

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

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

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

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


  • 100% Adoration Rating: Sanguinius was probably the single-most adored Primarch, even above Horus. He was considered a trusted ally by virtually all of his brothers and was well known for his ability to smooth out disputes between them. Horus suggested Sanguinius should have been Warmaster instead of him, and Guilliman indicated he should be named Emperor of the Imperium should anything happen to the actual Emperor.
  • Angelic Beauty: He's the only Primarch to sport white wings, and is said to be rather attractive.
  • The Ace: The Primarchs are all impossibly strong and capable of learning among human beings, but even so Sanguinius was The Ace above all of them — as a result, absolutely everyone liked and respected him, Horus felt it was Sanguinius who truly should have been Warmaster when he was at risk of dying, and when Guilliman feared the Emperor dead he chose Sanguinius to lead his Imperium Secondus.
  • Beauty = Goodness: He is both the most handsome primarch and the most unambiguously good.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Spear of Telesto. It was lost during the Horus Heresy, only to be recovered in the Blood Angels novels.
  • Blood Lust: After killing a rogue and vampiric legionnaire, Sanguinius admitted to Horus he had a dark thirst for the blood of the living that sometimes revealed itself during the heat of combat, which he kept secret out of fear that his entire Blood Angel legion would be exterminated.
  • Cain and Abel: With Horus. Each thought the other was the best pick for Warmaster, Sanguinius shared the secret of the Flaw with Horus, and Horus was willing to confide his doubts and misgivings about the future in return. Even at the end and during their final battle, Sanguinius still tried to reach some remnant of his brother and Horus in the grip of Chaos still offered Sanguinius a chance to stand by his side...but tragically, it all ended with Horus impaling and killing Sanguinius.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Sanguinius is undeniably the noblest among the Primarchs, but he is still gene-forged demigod made for war and conquest, and as 'Ruinstorm' showed with how he dealt with his brother Konrad Curze, even his kindness and compassion has limits.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He's blond and one of the most heroic and noble Primarchs, in contrast to his brothers who are (to varying degrees) pretty much Broken Aces.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Though he died in battle against Horus, he managed to damage his armor enough for the Emperor to exploit this weakness during the final battle.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: He's called The Pure One for a reason.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Sanguinius had long blond hair and was the most handsome of the Primarchs, with Fulgrim being the only one of his brothers who could compare.
  • The Mccoy: Served as this during the Siege of Terra, in comparison to Dorn's Spock and Jaghatai Khan's Kirk. Sanguinius was the most reluctant to sacrifice his soldiers' lives and was just as focused on preserving them as he was on slowing down Horus.
  • Messianic Archetype: Played surprisingly straight. If the Emperor is the closest thing Humanity has to a God, then Sanguinius of all the Primarchs was his Jesus.
  • Nice Guy: Quite possibly the only unambiguously heroic character in all of 40k.
  • Not So Stoic: In all the battles he fought, the enemies he faced, the aliens he purged, he never once knew fear. But The Emperor driven to silence over the Battle of Terra? That terrifies Sanguinius.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Well, for starters, he's probably the most badass one out there.
  • Seers: Sanguinius had a limited ability to catch glimpses of the future, which may be why he immediately knelt before the Emperor. As indicated in the Horus Heresy novel Angels of Caliban, he knew how his confrontation with Horus would end, which only makes his sacrifice all the nobler.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Particularly tragic since he fell trying to convince Horus to redeem along with being one of the nicest characters in a crapsack world like Warhammer 40,000. To make matters worse, his death caused a psychic backlash that caused the much maligned Black Rage and Red Thirst among The Blood Angels and their successors.
  • Undying Loyalty: It is made pretty clear he has this to the Emperor.
  • Winged Humanoid: He had a pair of huge white wings and could use them to fly. Whether this was a mutation or some strange expression of the Emperor's genes is unknown.
  • Worf Had the Flu: At peak strength, his technical prowess in battle would have been an easy match to Horus. But the exhaustion from the Battle of Terra, combined with Horus being essentially a conduit of the Ruinous Powers, meant that Sanguinius never stood a chance.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: It is made clear at the end of Angels of Caliban that Sanguinius is informed and now fully aware that he will die if he faces Horus in battle, to which he states "To die at Horus's hand is a fate I gladly accept if it means that the Emperor yet lives and fights for mankind. I would speed to this confrontation on the swiftest wings if it means the enduring reign of the Emperor".

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

Ferrus Manus was scattered to the planet Medusa, a dark post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by primitive nomadic tribes. No records exist of Ferrus' life before he left the wastelands surrounding the Karaashi, the icy mountain where his capsule landed, but there are many legends telling of a wanderer who visited each clan in turn, exhibiting his incredible endurance as well as sharing new technologies he invented or found on his journeys. Many of these stories are apocryphal but many have a core of truth to them, such as the famous story of how Ferrus drowned Asirnoth, the Great Silver Wyrm, in a lava flow until the beast was gone and its skin of living metal was bound to his hands. Becoming known as the Gorgon, Ferrus soon rose to become the god-king of the Medusan clans, yet he always endeavoured to stay neutral in the wars between the tribes, viewing such conflict as a healthy way to strengthen the survivors.

When the Emperor arrived on Medusa, he and his lost son left to compete in many feats of strength, until they returned bound by mutual respect. Ferrus Manus was given command of the X Legion, which became his Iron Hands. Already renowned for their discipline, the Primarch bound his Legion's aggression with logic and soon his warriors had garnered a reputation as highly-effective but ruthless warriors with no tolerance of weakness or failure. Sharing a passion for technology, the Primarch and his gene-sons soon forged close ties with the Adeptus Mechanicus.

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


  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Before switching to a mighty thunder hammer, Ferrus Manus was highly proficient fighting unarmed, using his metal-coated hands as highly lethal weapons.
  • Blinded by Rage: Ferrus was so enraged by the betrayal of his brothers, especially his closest friend, Fulgrim, that he threw caution to the wind and set out with his best men and fastest ships to meet the traitors head on, leaving the remainder of his own Legion behind. During the battle on Isstvan V itself, Manus' rage led him to forge far in advance of his Salamander and Raven Guard allies, resulting in his troops being out-manoeuvred and out-gunned by the Traitors and with the ultimate result that the Gorgon fell to at the hands of Fulgrim.
  • Cain and Abel: Ferrus was closer to Fulgrim, the Primarch of the Emperor's Children, than he was to any of his other brothers due to their shared pursuit of perfection. After his corruption by Horus and the Laeran daemon, Fulgrim attempted to recruit Ferus to the traitor’s cause, an attempt that failed and led to Ferrus being killed by the one who he considered his only true friend.
  • Cursed With Awesome: While he was well aware of the advantages his living metal hands gave him, Manus always felt that they weren't his true hands and that this meant that anything he accomplished with them wasn't truly his own, something that offended the Gorgon's belief in self-reliance. The reverence his Legion held for him and his hands distressed the Primarch even more, especially when they began to voluntarily replace their own hands with cybernetics in imitation of their gene-father.
    They are not my hands. This fact is forgotten by my brothers — inexplicably, it has always seemed to me. The hands are strong, to be sure, and have created great things for us all, but they are not mine. [...] Already my Legion's warriors replace their shield hands with metal in my honour, and so they too are learning to doubt the natural strength of their bodies. They must be weaned off this practice before it becomes a mania for them. Hatred of what is natural, of what is human, is the first and greatest of the corruptions.
    Ferrus Manus, Wrath of Iron
  • Drop the Hammer: During the Great Crusade, Ferrus favoured the mighty thunder hammer Forgebreaker that was forged for him by Fulgrim, the closest of his brothers. Thematically the hammer fits with the Ferrus' engineer/blacksmith role and his blunt personality.
  • Flesh Versus Steel: Although his Legion are most famous for their belief that steel and technology is stronger than flesh, Ferrus himself was a great believer in the power of flesh. This belief came from his self-reliant nature that led him to consider over-reliance on technology a weakness that stopped humanity reaching its true potential. The Gorgon had even planned to remove the metal from his iron hands and abolish the practice of cyberization had he lived.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The nomadic Medusan clans have many legends that tell of Manus slaying numerous beasts and monsters in the northern wastes after he arrived on the planet, with the most famous being Asirnoth, the Great Silver Wyrm, whose living metal skin bonded to his hands and forearms after Manus drowned it in magma.
  • Irony:
    • There is some situational irony in how Ferrus Manus died. In life, the Primarch of the Iron Hands espoused a Social Darwinist, "survival of the fittest" philosophy, despising personal weakness and believed in methodological and disciplined warfare. It was his lack of control after giving into his own emotions that eventually led to the Gorgon becoming the first Primarch to die.
    • He was ever striving for strength, efficiency and perfection, something that led to his Legion embracing the use of cybernetic augmentation in an effort to emulate the cold logical perfection of the machine. In an example of situational irony, however, the Primarch believed that perfection should be achieved within the realm of human potential and, not only did he disapprove of his Legion’s of voluntary cybernetics but was also planning to put an end to the practice and remove the metal on his hands, something he was unable to implement due to his death at the hands of his brother Fulgrim.
  • King in the Mountain: Despite the fact that he is one of the few loyalist Primarchs to have been confirmed as dead, many amongst the Iron Hands believe that their gene-father will return when his sons most need him. Clan Company Kaargul in particular are staunch followers of this belief and have held visual over the Karaashi, the icy mountain where Ferrus Manus first arrived on Medusa, for the past ten millennia to watch for his return.
  • Meaningful Name: In keeping with the often overly literal Imperial naming convention, Ferrus Manus' name means "Iron Hand" in Latin, the name he gave to his Legion after he was rediscovered. The name became even more meaningful, and literal, after his background was expanded during 3rd Edition to include his hands becoming permanently covered in living metal.
  • Off with His Head!: Ferrus was decapitated by his beloved brother Fulgrim during their fateful duel on Isstvan V at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Ferrus had always felt that he should have been made Warmaster rather than Horus and, although it was deeply buried, felt some resentment that their father hadn't granted him the honour of leading the Great Crusade. Some have even suggested that this resentment contributed to the Gorgon's lack of caution when he was given command of the force intended to bring the traitorous Warmaster to heel.
  • Social Darwinist: Ferrus was a great believer in self-reliance and the idea of "survival of the fittest", seeing conflict as the perfect way to hone one's abilities to their fullest potential. His desire to always better himself was what formed the base for his close friendship with his brother Fulgrim.
  • Wrench Whack: Early artwork of Ferrus Manus often depicted him wielding a massive pipe wrench instead of the mighty thunder hammer that is his Weapon of Choice in more contemporary lore.

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

Historic

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After his incubation capsule came to rest on the mountainous world of Macragge, Roboute Guilliman was found and adopted by Konor, one of the two consuls who ruled the world's militaristic government. As was customary on Macragge, at the age of six the young Primarch began his military training and within two years had mastered everything his tutors could teach him and took his place within the world's military. While Guilliman campaigned to pacify the barbarians of Macragge's northlands, his father's rival consul led a coup that saw Konor assassinated. Returning to find his father slain, Guilliman ruthlessly crushed the forces of his father's betrayer, restored order to the planetary capital and was crowned Battle King of Macragge by popular acclaim. Guilliman ushered in an era of prosperity, advancement and expansion, so that when the Great Crusade reached the Eastern Fringes, the Emperor found not only a lost son but a model for human civilization.

Given the command of the XIII Legion of Astartes, Guilliman and his Ultramarines pushed the Imperium's borders ever outward, his tactical and logistical brilliance ensuring that the worlds he reclaimed for the Imperium suffered minimal damage and quickly became a functioning part of the Imperium. Soon Macragge was the centre of a five-hundred world realm known as Ultramar that became an exemplar of what human civilisation could become. When the Warmaster Horus turned against the Emperor, sent the Word Bearers Legion to assault Ultramar before summoning the massive warp anomaly known as the Runestorm to isolated Guilliman in the galactic south when so that the renegades could marched on Terra without interference from the largest of all the Legions.

Although Guilliman arrived too late to save his father or play any great role in the Horus Heresy, he was instrumental in holding the Imperium together in the war's aftermath, and his Ultramarines comprised nearly half of the Imperium's manpower in those dark days. Assuming the title of Lord Commander of the Imperium, Guilliman reorganised humanities armed forces and implemented his Codex Astartes, which broke down the Space Marine Legions into thousand-man chapters so that no one renegade could command such an awesome force. Guilliman led the armies of Mankind for a time until Fulgrim, transformed into a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, slit his throat with a poisoned sword. The wound being fatal and incurable, Guilliman was put in stasis and enthroned in the Shrine of the Primarch within the Fortress of Hera for thousands of years.
  • The Ace: Guilliman is the logistical and strategic Ace of the Primarchs with a peerless grasp of both battlefield tactics and civilian government. Where many of his brothers had risen to be the dominant force on their home worlds when they were reunited with the Emperor, Guilliman had become the ruler of the entire star system and went on to create a stellar empire of over five-hundred worlds that was a model for the wider Imperium. Guilliman's battle record also showed his skills in this field, with the number of worlds reclaimed for humanity second only to that of the Warmaster Horus himself. In the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, Guilliman's skills helped hold the battered Imperium together, reorganising its military and government while lending his tactical knowledge to help hold off opportunistic Xenos raiders and putting down the remnants of rebellion amongst the remaining loyalist worlds.
  • Adopted into Royalty: Unlike most of the Primarchs who, at best, were adopted by local tribal chieftains before rising to great power, Guilliman was adopted by one of the planetary rulers of Macragge and therefore was brought-up in a privileged position.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Guilliman's ability to process information and apply it quickly served him well both on and off the battlefield. While he can sometimes be caught off-guard when facing an unknown foe, or those using unconventional tactics he hasn't encountered, he is able to learn from his experiences very quickly to avoid being caught off-guard again. This ability was aptly displayed when his brother, Corvus Corax, challenged him to a series of simulated battles. Guilliman lost the first three rounds completely due to Corax' unconventional guerrilla warfare tactics but, once he learned from his defeats, Guilliman crushed the Primarch of the Raven Guard every single time.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: While the Ultramarines themselves claim it is Alpha Legion misinformation, there are reports that Guilliman was forced to break his own strict rules of operation and lead a reckless, unsupported assault against Alpharius' command centre so that he could take the Alpha Legion Primarch off-guard and slay him.
  • Crazy-Prepared: One of Guilliman's strengths was his attention to detail, making him gifted in statesmanship and logistics, and he always believed in making contingency plans for almost every eventuality. Unfortunately, many of his fellow Primarchs interpreted this tendency as Guilliman being an overly ambitious micromanager. An example of this was his plan for how to deal with the death of the Emperor, which entailed preserving as much of the Imperium as possible and re-organizing the remnants into the "Imperium Secundus", centred around his own realm of Ultramar.
  • Dead Guy on Display: After being mortally wounded by his daemonic brother Fulgrim, Guilliman was held in stasis, mere moments from death, and set on display in Shrine of the Primarch within the Fortress of Hera's Temple of Correction, until his resurrection at the outbreak of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade.
  • Fatal Flaw: Guilliman's obsessive need for control and orthodoxy, along with his dissemination of his battle strategies, meant his thinking was often predictable and inflexible as it took him time to adapt to unknown situations. It was this predictability that enabled the Fulgrim to ambush his brother’s fleet at the Battle of Thessala, leading to their fateful duel.
  • Foil: Guilliman and Lorgar, the Primarch of the Word Bearers had very similar principles and desires. Both brothers desired to raise the Imperium, they weren't conquerors but builders who believed that Astartes could be something else than warriors, and they both valued an introspective view of life. The difference between the two was the methods they used, with Lorgar using faith while Guilliman preferred a more secular, meritocratic method to unite humanity and make it the best it could be.
  • Genius Bruiser: As well as being a superb tactician ad statesman, Guilliman was also a superbly talented warrior. Of the four brothers he fought before his confinement to a stasis field in the Fortress of Hera, he only lost to two of them, the rage-filled Angron (who had help from one of his other brothers) and Fulgrim after his apotheosis.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Guilliman's unique trademark ability isn't mighty psychic powers, skill in the creation of powerful artefacts and new technologies, or a natural affinity for a certain style of warfare but being able to absorb and process information at an astonishing rate and an accompanying skill at logistics. Far from relegating him to an administrator role (although he excels in such roles), he uses it to become The Ace through Awesomeness by Analysis and being Crazy-Prepared for every eventuality.
  • Insufferable Genius: Guilliman's supreme strategic skill often led to him stating that he could improve upon the tactics and methods of his brothers, something few of the strong willed Primarchs appreciated. As a result, he wasn't particularly close to many of his brothers, with even some of those that he liked and respected not returning the sentiment.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Unlike many of his brother Primarchs, Guilliman did not dedicate himself to a single style of warfare, preferring to practice a wide variety of tactical options so that his Legion could deal with any possible foe and adapt to any battlefield situation.
  • Jerkass: Guilliman didn't get along with many of his brother Primarchs, making it pretty clear he considered them to be untrustworthy. In addition to this, his Insufferable Genius tendencies led him to ignore others' feelings, most notably when he enforced the splitting of the Legiones Astartes into 1000-Marine Chapters under the Codex Astartes, which almost caused a second civil war amongst the remaining Loyalist Primarch. Subverted in that many of Guilliman's traits and actions were often misinterpreted or exaggerated in the minds of his brothers (Lorgar thought for years that Roboute despised him, even though the only thing the Ultramarines' Primarch did was follow the orders of his father when his forces destroyed Monarchia), something Guilliman himself was aware of, saying that he didn't want the Throne because of how people often thought that he was so ambitious to the point of opportunism and he felt that he should stop being an overachiever because others were feeling inadequate.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Guilliman never did anything without a reason and even his most provocative moments had logic behind them. Splitting up the legions may have riled his brothers, but Guilliman was absolutely correct in pointing out that if Horus could fall, any of them could, and it was therefore dangerous to leave one man with so much power. Likewise, while his criticism of Alpharius's covert tactics was interpreted by some as an obsession with orthodoxy was actually a good point as his brother's way of war, while effective, prolonged the conflict and often caused months of unrest in the planets conquered.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Imperial Secundus, Guilliman's attempt to restore some modicum of order to the Imperium while the Horus Heresy was still ongoing, was the biggest mistake he made during the period. The endeavour not only diverted crucial troops and resources away from Terra during when they were most needed, his attempt to find a substitute for the Astronomican attracted the Tyranids to the galaxy in the first place according to the Horus Heresy novel Pharos.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Unlike a number of his brothers, who could be indifferent if not hostile to regular Imperial citizens, Guilliman treated average individuals with respect and attempted to make their lives better by establishing working governments and defences after bringing their worlds into compliance rather than leave such things to less talented administrators.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: As a general on a world heavily based on Ancient Rome, who first came to power after the assassination of his adopted father, greatly expanded an empire, as well as introducing military and governmental reforms, Guilliman was based on the Roman Emperor Augustus.
  • No One Could Survive That!: During the Battle of Calth he was ejected into space without a helmet after a daemon attacked his flagship. His Legion feared the worst until they found him ten hours later, punching Word Bearers to death on the hull of the ship. Not even his Primarch biology can fully explain how he spent ten hours fighting in a vaccum without oxygen.
  • Parental Substitute: The young Roboute was raised by Konor Guilliman, one of the two ruling consuls of Macragge, and his seneschal Tarasha Eutennote . The pair had a great influence on the young Primarch's beliefs and outlook, with the meritocratic society that Roboute creating after becoming sole consul being the ideal that Konor had always strived for.
  • Power Fist: In battle, Guilliman fights with the Hand of Dominion, a masterwork powered gauntlet that incorporates a powerful bolter and was considered a symbol of the Primarch's might. Older lore indicated that Guilliman also fought the with the paired power fists of the Gauntlets of Ultramar but this has rarely been depicted in the background material and has never had in-game rules.
  • The Proud Elite: Adopted by a planetary ruler, Guilliman often came off as cold and overly analytical to his brothers and, thanks to his insistence he could improve upon their own tactics if he put his mind to it, many of them considered him an Insufferable Genius. Despite this, he really did care and wasn't as arrogant as he appeared, though only a few people got to see that side of him.
  • Revenge Before Reason: His decision to engage Fulgrim in a duel was strategically unnecessary. Unfortunately Guilliman's usual strategic foresight was clouded by his desire to bring his traitorous brother to justice and he ended up playing right into Fulgrim's hands.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The account of the battle against the Alpha Legion that saw Guilliman killing Alpharius ends with the Ultramarines' Primarch ordering his troops to disengage, claiming that he had "had no interest fighting a righteous battle against such dishonourable" after the traitors continued their resistance despite the death of the lord. The Ultramarines, however, claim this this battle never happened and that the record is misinformation.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: An in-universe accountnote  of the duel between Guilliman and the Alpha Legion Primarch Alpharius depicts it as a single-stroke battle, only without the traditional rush past each other. The account states that the two brothers approached each other on the battlefield, stared one another down, then attacked simultaneously with a lightning quick slice. A few seconds later, Alpharius crumpled over, dead.
  • The Smart Guy: While still being a mighty warrior like the other Primarchs, Guilliman's greatest talents lay in statecraft and logistics. Some even claim that the Ultramarines' Primarch inherited the Emperor's capacity for planning and statesmanship.
  • The Strategist: Although talented in close combat, Guilliman's greatest asset was his calculating mind, that enabled him to mastermind brilliant campaigns and battles that resulted his Legion brining more Worlds into compliance than almost any other. Some even said that his mind was so sharp that it surpassed even the thinking-engines of the Mechanicum.

Current

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At the end of the 41st Millennium, the Aeldari mystic Yvraine of the Ynnari and Archmagos Belisarius Cawl of the Adeptus Mechanicus combined arcane technology and xenos magics to revive the mortally wounded Guilliman. Despite only just emerging from millennia suspended between life and death, Guilliman was immediately forced to lead the defense of Ultramar from the ravages of the forces of Chaos before traveling to Terra to consult with his father, having to fight his daemonic brother Magnus along the way. After an audience alone with the Emperor, and defending the Imperial Palace from a daemonic incursion, Guilliman reclaimed his title as Lord Commander of the Imperium and declared the dawning of the Era Indomitus, launching a mighty crusade to restore order to the galaxy.


  • Ancestral Weapon: Guilliman wields the sword his father used in battle, a weapon that doubles as his badge of office as Lord Commander of the Imperium. Known simply as the Emperor's Sword, the weapon is a Flaming Sword as tall as an armoured Space Marine that is said to still hold a portion of the Emperor's power but, as powerful as the weapon is, Guilliman believes that only his father can unleash its full power.
  • Back from the Dead: According to Yvraine Guilliman's resurrection was a literal one, with him dying the moment they cut the power to his stasis field. However, Ynnead's power and the Armor of Fate immediately revived him.
  • Big Good: Since his return, Guilliman has turned his strategic and administrative prowess to bringing order to the galaxy, attempting to lead humanity to a future as close as possible to the one his father envisioned. In addition to this, as the clone-son of the God-Emperor himself, Guilliman has become a rallying figure for a beleaguered Imperium, a demi-god that can keep humanity fighting even through the darkest of times.
  • Break the Believer: As a staunch believer in his father’s claims that there are no gods and that he is just a man, the revived Guilliman is disgusted to discover that the he and the Emperor are now considered to be divine beings by the population of the Imperium. However, as time goes on, Guilliman finds it harder and harder to reconcile the Emperor's abilities and achievements with his claims, and becomes increasingly concerned that Lorgar might have been right all along.
  • Broken Ace: Since his return from the brink of death, Guilliman has been horrified by the state of the Imperium and has begun to wonder whether the price required to save Humanity may be too high to bear even with his strategic and logistical brilliance.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Dark Imperium novel indicates that, following his resurrection, Guilliman's faith in his father was broken after he met him face to face again and realised that the Emperor never saw him or his brother Primarchs as anything but tools. He now fights for the Emperor's ideals and the Imperium, and not for the Emperor himself.
  • Came Back Strong: Stat wise Guilliman is noticeably stronger than he was during the Horus Heresy due to the Armor of Fate and Emperor's Sword boosting his combat potential.
  • Doom Magnet: As the linchpin keeping the Imperium together, and one of the most powerful beings fighting for humanity, Guilliman is a primary target for the forces of Chaos and they have caused untold misery and destruction to the citizens of Ultramar, and the wider Imperium, in their attempts to kill the Avenging Son.
  • The Dreaded: Guilliman has become a figure of fear amongst daemonkind due to the fact that his resurrection wasn't foreseen by Tzeentch until it was almost too late and because the sword he inherited from his father can permanently kill daemonic entities.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: After spending so long in stasis, Guilliman has 10,000 years of history to catch up on, and to say he's angry about how the Imperium he fought for during the Great Crusade has been succeeded by an ignorant and corrupt theocracy would be a severe understatement. He constantly notes how everything, from art to administration, technology, and even the mindset of the Imperium's inhabitants has regressed.
  • Flaming Sword: Guilliman took up his father's flaming sword after being named Lord Commander of the Imperium in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy and still wields it after his resurrection. The weapon is incredibly powerful, with a stat line equivalent to the melee weapons used by Dreadnoughts with the additional chance of causing multiple mortal wounds.
  • Four-Star Badass: Guilliman is as capable a fighter as he is a general. Right after he's revived, he cleared the Shrine of invading Chaos Marines, killing one with each slash of his sword. But his real strength lies in his tactical genius, as his directing the battlefield immediately turns every skirmish into a Curb-Stomp Battle for the loyalists.
  • Generation Xerox: Since his resurrection, Guilliman has found himself behaving more and more like his father once did; launching a massive crusade to reunite humanity with the aid of a new breed of superhuman warriors.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Gains a pretty epic one during his duel with Magnus on Luna. Despite being heavily injured and buried under tons of metal he manages to will himself back on his feet, determined to not let one of his traitorous brothers keep him from his duty yet again.
  • He's Back: A variation. Guilliman was fatally wounded by Fulgrim and placed in a stasis field at the verge of death. He stayed that way for a good 10,000+ years, but the events of The Gathering Storm has brought him back to save the day.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: Dark Imperium hints that Guilliman may actually be a psyker. He has kept his powers hidden because of what happened to Magnus.
  • Humble Hero: Well, as humble as one could get while still being a genetically-engineered semi-divine posthuman superman. For instance, he kept his old nanny around as his counselor, and to tell him the things he didn't want to hear. Another instance was when he thought the Emperor was dead and the Imperium on the verge of collapsing; rather than take control himself, he elected to name another Primarch as the Emperor's successor, and eventually settled on Sanguinius. Upon his return in the 41st millennium, he formally requests the right to assume command of the Ultramarines from Chapter Master Calgar.
  • I Lied: In exchange for Cypher's aid in escaping captivity by the forces of Chaos in the Maelstrom, he swore to bring Cypher to meet with the Emperor himself. Upon arriving at the entrance to the Golden Throne, he ordered to Custodes to arrest the rogue Dark Angel instead, believing the sword Cypher carried to be an ill omen and Cypher too dangerous to allow near the Emperor. For Guilliman to break his word so blatantly to a man who had saved both his life and those of his men is not something he would have done lightly, but the safety of the Emperor and therefore the Imperium itself was far too much to risk for Cypher's ambiguous aims.
  • Irony: Guilliman's originally broke up the Space Marine Legions to ensure that no man ever held the same amount of power that Horus did, while also trying to keep the Imperium's military and civilian leadership separate. The ironic part is that in his current position as Imperial Regent and Lord Commander of the Imperium, Guilliman now holds more power than Horus ever did. He himself acknowledges that saving the Imperium may require him to become the very kind of tyrant he once feared.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The Trauma Conga Line he's endured after being freed from the stasis field has left him understandably very bitter. He perseveres anyway for the sake of humanity.
  • Last of His Kind: While he is not the last Loyalist Primarch still living (Lion El'Jonson is secretly kept alive and in permanent sleep deep in The Rock, unknown even to his Dark Angels, Vulkan is almost certainly still kicking somewhere due to being unable to die, and Corax is in the Eye of Terror), he's the only one alive, awake, accounted for, and still actively fighting for the Imperial cause in the modern day.
  • Living Legend: For the people of the present day Imperium, Guilliman is a literal example of this trope; a mythical figure from legend who has returned to aid the Imperium in its darkest hour.
  • Lonely at the Top: Being the only active Loyalist Primarch in the 42nd Millennium has really done a number on poor Roboute, as he lacks anyone who he can truly confide in. This, coupled with the realization that his father never really cared about him or his brothers, has left him feeling rather depressed.
  • Man in the Machine: It was heavily implied during Rise of the Primarch that the Armor of Fate was the only thing keeping Guilliman alive, and that he shouldn't take it off. However, later stories show that Guilliman is perfectly fine in casual or formal clothing merely a few weeks after he arrived on Terra.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Guilliman's ancient Power Fist, the Hand of Dominion, incorporates a powerful, underslung heavy bolter. The weapon has been incorporated into the Primarch’s Armour of Fate, allowing him to unleash powerful attacks at both range and in combat.
  • My Greatest Failure: Not being there to save The Emperor and Sanguinius really did a number on him.
    • Many of the Imperium's current problems can be traced back to his foolish decision to engage Fulgrim at Thessala.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Hoo boy. Compared to every other Primarch, Robby's got the one that's the hardest to pronounce by reading, causing the many snowclone fan nicknames for him (Rawbutt/Robot Girlyman etc.). Thankfully, the Gathering Storm video series finally gives an official pronunciation for him: "Rob-oot-ey Gill-ee-man".
  • Not So Different: In Dark Imperium he discovers the Emperor never saw him or the rest of the Primarchs as sons, only tools. The same book reveals that he is similarly dismissive and contemptuous of the very Primaris Marines he had Cawl create, describing them as "Cawl's blasphemous hordes".
  • Odd Friendship: "Friendship" is pushing it, but it is revealed in the novella Armour of Fate that Guilliman is acquainted with Eldrad Ulthran of the Aeldari, trusting him enough to ask for advice about whether or not he should take off his life-support armour, a potentially fatal decision by the time he asked.
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: Double dose of it. First and most obvious is the Emperor's Flaming Sword. Second is on his left arm. Recognize that belt-feed mechanism? That's the same mechanism used in Heavy Bolters, because the Hand of Dominion has a wrist-mounted Heavy Bolter.
  • One-Man Army: Like any Primarch he's a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. This was best demonstrated in the immediate aftermath of his resurrection where he turned the seemingly hopeless Last Stand of the Loyalists defending his shrine into an utter annihilation of the attacking Black Legion forces.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Since his resurrection Guilliman has become more prone to intense bouts of rage, mostly due to the sheer frustration of trying to run the backwards present day Imperium. A Custodian was notably concerned by this, as this was not a trait Guilliman was known for previously.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: One of the first quotes from him revealed after his revival? It's not a happy one. Also doubles as an Armor-Piercing Question.
    Why do I still live? What more do you want from me? I gave everything I had to you, to them. Look what they've done to our dream. This bloated, rotting carcass of an empire is not driven by reason and hope, but by fear, hate and ignorance. Better that we all burned in the fires of Horus' ambition than lived to see this.
  • Resurrection Sickness: After being ressurected, he feels a "deep, gnawing ache" constantly. He suspects that this pain will never leave him.
  • Scars Are Forever: Guilliman still sports the scar on his neck from where Fulgrim nearly killed him.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Guilliman was not too happy to learn that he and his brothers are now worshiped alongside their father in the present day Imperium.
  • Take Up My Sword: Due to the Emperor's continued confinement to the Golden Throne, Guilliman now serves as the de facto leader of the Imperium. For added symbolism he has also literally taken up his father's sword to fight the enemies of mankind.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • With Cawl. Guilliman relies on Cawl's genius and innovation but balks at his rather blatant and shameless borderline-heretical ideas. This is why Guilliman has so far refused to grant Cawl's request to promote him to Fabricator-General. Guilliman's reforms are also putting him increasingly at odds with the more traditionalist parts of the Imperium. Elements of the Inquisition are particularly wary of him.
    • This is also the case with the High Lords of Terra. The High Lords have enjoyed absolute power for millennia now, much of which is due to their own corruption and Guilliman aims to take that away. However, none of them are willing to openly defy Guilliman as, due to him being the direct gene-son of the Emperor himself and being appointed Lord Commander of the Imperium, each of the High Lords risk losing the support of all those under him on a bad gamble. Similarly, Guilliman would very much like to get rid of them, but also risks the same supporters remaining loyal with the High Lords. The massive bureaucracy of the Imperium also means that, corrupt as they are, the High Lords are the only ones who can keep the Imperium functioning. So the two are just barely tolerating each other so not everything falls completely apart.
  • Trauma Conga Line: By the Throne... this list is going to be long.
    • His adoptive father, Konor Guilliman, who instilled many aspects of Roboute's better nature and sense of noble obligation to the common people, was assassinated by an uprising and betrayal of his fellow Consul and nobles of Macragge, upset at Konor and Roboute's reforms weakening their power.
    • During the Horus Heresy, as warp storms and several diversion actions from the traitor forces isolated Ultramar from Terra, Roboute heard rumors that Terra and the Emperor had fallen. With such info being potentially credible, Roboute decided to form the Imperium Secundus. While it certainly proved useful as a rally point for the various scattered Loyalist forces, it didn't exactly endear Guilliman to a number of his fellow loyalists, with some wondering if he was making his own power play to usurp the Emperor, despite him trying to prove that view wrong.
    • Upon hearing that in reality, the Imperium, Terra, and the Emperor were still standing, but under siege, Guilliman mustered all loyalist forces possible from the Ultramar region to make haste and provide assistance. Unfortunately, by the time the Ultramarines themselves managed to arrive, the damage was already done: his brother Sanguinius was dead, the Emperor was dying, the traitors had fled, and the Imperium was reeling in the aftermath of the events. This failure in particular haunted Guilliman forever more, and in turn he issued his order that an Ultramarine Auxilary unit be posted at Cadia to try and make amends.
    • The shock of being revived millennia in the future and learning what's happened to the Imperium since he fell is unimaginable. He puts on a strong face and hides it to avoid demoralizing the men. Seeing Terra itself is even worse.
    • To even get to Terra after his revival, due to the galaxy-wide warp storm outbreak since Cadia's fall, involved a literal trip through hell. Magnus The Red cast a spell that flung Roboute's Terran Crusade fleet into the notorious warpstorm known as the Maelstrom, trapping the fleet in there for months, with the Demons of Chaos doing what they could to exact an extreme mental toll on everyone. At one point, by using Guilliman's own built-up negative emotions of grief, despair, and anger, several forces of Tzeentch managed to use a spell that bound Guilliman and captured his forces. By the time his forces managed to reach Luna, all 100+ ships of the fleet that launched from Ultramar were either scattered somewhere in the galaxy, lost in the warp, destroyed, or captured, with all crew captured or killed, and only a few thousand Marines, Celestine's Sisters of Battle, and Techmagos Cawl's Skitarii remained.
    • When he finally makes it to the Sanctum Imperialis and meets his father the Emperor? As revealed in Dark Imperium, he learns that his father never saw him and his brothers as his sons, but merely as tools and weapons to be used. Guilliman is understandably embittered by this revelation as he leaves the Sanctum Imperialis.
    • After that, just when the Indomitus Crusade started winding down, his own beloved home system of Ultramar was attacked by the forces of Nurgle. Guilliman just cannot catch a break.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Was subjected to this during the thousands of years he was in stasis, with the historical records of his deeds and battles getting distorted into conflicting myths and legend. The Battle of Thessala, where he was fatally wounded by Fulgrim, is a prime example of this, as earlier depictions of the battle had the two primarchs fight each other on the surface of the planet, with the Ultramarines arriving at the scene to find Guilliman unconscious, with Fulgrim nowhere to be seen. Dark Imperium reveals this version to be false, with the duel occurring onboard Fulgrim's flagship above Thessala, which is revealed to be a gas giant. After his revivification, he discovers no less than twenty-six divergent versions of the event in the Ultramarines' librariums alone.
    • On the other hand, Roboute has actively tried to defy this convention personally by writing a detailed history of the Empire in the 41st Millennium devoid of misinformation, lies, and propaganda. He then makes it freely available to every citizen of the Imperium so that they can better know the truth.
  • Unwanted Revival: Is less than enthusiastic about the galaxy he has woken up to.

    Vulkan, Primarch of the Salamanders 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/3bb04daf141a3b8b36eacaf2a1c83e05.png

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

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

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

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


  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: The most awesome one of all!
  • Continuity Snarl: Sweet Emperor...
    • In older fluff, Vulkan is said to have argued with Guilliman over breaking down the Legions, and is said to have vanished about a thousand years after the Heresy.
    • The Horus Heresy retcons this, and has him going insane at Kurze's hands before being permanently(?) killed well before that.
    • 5th Edition THEN dropped hints that he was part of Trazyn the Infinite's collection. The Fall of Cadia then proved that to not be the case.
    • All of the previous stories were published over about a decade. During that decade, the Codex: Space Marines rulebook was reprinted 3 times, and presents its own unchanging story: Vulkan dropped a book of riddles at Istvaan V, and vanished without further trace.
    • While all of the stories are mutually exclusive, the Codex one and the Horus Heresy one get special mention for conflicting one another directly (in Codex, Vulkan's book of riddles orders the Salamanders to find an artifact called The Unbound Flame, which they search for to this day; in Horus Heresy, The Unbound Flame is Vulkan's coffin, christened after he died, and has been owned by the Salamanders for nine thousand years).
    • The Beast Arises cleaned up some while adding some. Vulkan was the last active loyalist Primarch; however he has been in self-imposed exile. He still thought Dorn was alive and had no clue about the Second Founding. He later becomes somehow suffused with the energies of the WAAAGH! and attempts to kill The Beast at the cost of his life... and fails.
    • A big part of the problem is that he has Resurrective Immortality. So just because he's dead at the end of a story doesn't mean he didn't pop up again before the next one. He's also been resurrected from stuff even a Perpetual can't recover from on-screen at least once.
  • Death by Materialism: Nearly fell victim to it during the end of his competition with the Outlander. Vulkan tumbled over a cliff and hung there for hours by one hand, unwilling to drop the fire drake he was holding in his other and therefore concede the contest. Luckily the Emperor found him and dropped his own drake corpse to make a bridge across the lava.
  • Drop the Hammer: Dawnbreaker, with which Vulkan could send battle tanks flying, or make a Shockwave Stomp to knock over groups of infantry. By M32 he was using Doomtremor, which can absorb and redirect incoming energy attacks, and was so heavy that it took a squad of Terminator-armored Astartes to lift it off the ground.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While he and his Legion did favor the Kill It with Fire approach, Vulkan rejected the use of weapons like rad and phosphex, believing such things should stay in the Dark Age. Indeed, in the novel Old Earth, the Emperor tells Vulkan that he specifically engineered the Primarch to reject the use of extreme weaponry specifically because he only trusted a Primarch with empathy and morality to be able to build and then judge whether or not to use such weaponry.
  • Gentle Giant: He's probably the nicest guy out of all the Primarchs as well as the largest (unless Magnus uses his power to change size). It's said that Vulkan embodied the Emperor's (at times hidden) compassion for humanity. This ties in with his mastery of the forge, as the Emperor engineered him to have both traits so that only Vulkan could forge the mightiest weapons of the Dark Age of Technology and have the moral fiber and compassion to reject or destroy those same weapons if they were too terrible.
  • Irony: He was made to be compassionate by the Emperor so he would recognize which weaponry would be too powerful or horrific to ever use...while his chapter specializes in making and using weapons that burns their enemies alive. The stuff he nixed must have really been quite something!
  • Just the First Citizen: Despite being a Primarch, he discouraged his soldiers' shows of deference and insisted that his legion was one of equals.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Vulkan made his debut reinforcing companies of Salamanders who had been trying to save planetary populations from a vast horde of Orks. The Space Marines knelt before their Primarch, who immediately told them to rise and then knelt before them in honor of their sacrifices.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Vulcan was the Roman god of the forge.
    • Vulkan created the Promethean creed. Prometheus was a Greek deity who gave fire to humanity, knowing it would cause him torment. Vulkan's legion is especially known for safeguarding and helping humanity, even if it means losing their lives.
  • Nemean Skinning: Wears Kesare's Mantle, a fire drake skin that gives him an invulnerable save and additional protection against melta or flamer weapons.
  • Nice Guy: Fearsome appearance aside, Vulkan was one of the two kindest primarchs, by far. The other being Sanguinius.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Like his father, Vulkan is a Perpetual able to regenerate From a Single Cell. In the wake of the Drop Site Massacres, Vulkan was captured by the Night Lords and tortured by the Night Haunter himself, who killed Vulkan multiple times in extravagantly violent and torturous ways but was frustrated by his returning to life every time.
  • Scary Black Man: Vulkan is the tallest, largest, and one of the physically strongest of the Primarchs, not to mention his obsidian black skin and fire red eyes, and as such his figure presents him as a great and intimidating man; despite his appearance, Vulkan is at the top of the Primarchs regarding caring, niceness, and kindness. When the Dark Eldar are involved though, Vulkan become an unstoppable engine of destruction.
  • Screw You, Elves!: To the Dark Eldar. He fought back an entire planetary invasion army of these guys with nothing but a pair of blacksmith hammers. And this was BEFORE he even knew that he was a Primarch!
  • Superpower Lottery: Sure, all the primarchs are blessed in some way, but Vulkan was made to be the strongest, creates the best weapons AND he is a perpetual on top of that.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: The weapons and relics that he created are amongst the most powerful and sought after that the Imperium has ever had. The reason why Vulkan hid or destroyed so many of them was because the Emperor engineered him to be compassionate, so he could recognize which weapons were too powerful or horrific and never use them.

    Corvus Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_newcorax.png

The First Axiom of Victory is to be other than where the enemy desires you to be.
The First Axiom of Stealth is to be other than where the enemy believes you to be.
The First Axiom of Freedom is that justice without force is powerless; force without justice is tyranny.
Corvus Corax, from Axioms of the Legiones Astartes, Raven Guard Legion

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

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

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


  • The Ace: His Perception Filter alone means he can kill multiple squads of Astartes before they even realize what's happening. Plus, the fact that he basically has the powers of a Living Saint and can become a being of pure energy (most users of the power can only separate their soul from their body and act with their psychic powers while their bodies remain a helpless target) means he is unkillable except by the most powerful of psychic powers. In a straight fight, he would lose to some of his brothers, but Corvus never did fight fair...
  • BFG: For ranged combat he wielded a Heavy Bolter as easily as mortal troops used a lasrifle.
  • Child Prodigy: Upon crashing in Lycaeus, Corvus had already a vast reserve of technical knowledge, knew dozens of languages and could already kill an armed guard. The prisoners of Lycaeus then worked to fill in the gaps in Corvus' mind such as social skills, the history of the planet, and taught him their ideals of liberty and his patience.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He wasn't afraid to use assassination and other dirty tricks to win wars, and considered his legion's conquests more important than the specifics of how he made them.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: "We strike from the darkness, but we are not of the night. Though born in darkness, we seek only the light."
  • Dynamic Entry: Started an open rebellion on his planet with a sudden attack and kept that rebellion free with sabotage and ambushes against the forces trying to suppress them. His preference for lighting attacks was spread to his Raven Guard Legion.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Known for his snow-white skin and dark hair.
  • Extremity Extremist: Corax one-upped the usual version of this trope and bladed the feathery wings attached to his jetpack to lethal effect.
  • Famous Last Words: "Never more." Though it turned out he has yet to die from when he said that...
  • Guns Akimbo: Wielded two archaeotech pistols prior to the Dropsite Massacre. Also qualifies as a pair of hand cannons, as they are stronger than a Heavy Bolter and can easily punch through Space Marine armor.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He nearly came to blows with Horus, who Corax considered overly-boastful and manipulative, and ultimately removed his legion from the Warmaster's command. Not the best behavior for a Primarch, but it turns out he was spot-on about Horus' character.
  • Meaningful Name: "Corvus Corax" is the scientific name of the common raven.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reason for his year-long Heroic BSoD.
  • One-Winged Angel: He is revealed to have accomplished this after journeying into the Eye of Terror. As a being of pure shadowy Warp energy (though he can assume his material form at will) he completely decimates an entire company of Word Bearers before utterly crushing the now-daemonic Lorgar one on one. The Daemon Primarch and his sons wind up fleeing the planet.
  • Perception Filter: He hid this ability even from his own legion, but Corax had a psychic talent for removing himself from living creatures' consciousness. This didn't work on automated sensors, obviously.
  • The Quiet One: Only to be expected after a youth spent hiding from guards while training and preparing for rebellion.
  • Rebel Leader: His role on Lycaeus.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Corax was known to use his jetpack's exhaust this way.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Although the Imperium was already using child soldiers by turning teens into Space Marines, Corvus went even further after his Legion was nearly wiped out and he had to rebuild it rapidly to stall Horus' alliance. Claiming genetic samples from the Emperor's work on the Primarchs, Corvus didn't hesitate to use ten years old boys as guinea pigs and turn them into full-fledged Space Marines with improved geneseeds.
  • Whip It Good: When he wasn't tearing enemies apart with his bare hands, Corax used a three-headed power whip, a reminder of his past overthrowing tyrants.
  • Wolverine Claws: Along with his whip, Corax wielded a pair of artificer-quality lightning claws called the Raven's Talons.


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