- "Only the strongest shall arise to lead the Black Crusade."
- — The Prophecy of Ruin
A Black Crusade is a military campaign unleashed upon the Milky Way Galaxy when the Forces of Chaos manage to unite under the leadership of a powerful Champion of Chaos. They then proceed to launch a massive offensive from their base within the great Warp rift called the Eye of Terror against the worlds of the Imperium of Man.
The term can also sometimes be used for other incursions by the mortal and daemonic servants of Chaos out of the smaller Warp rifts that exist across the galaxy. Commanding one of these campaigns is often considered the greatest reward that can be bestowed upon a mortal servant of the Chaos Gods. Successfully achieving the stated objective of one of these lesser Black Crusades can result in the ultimate reward: ascension to the rank of Daemon Prince.
The most devastating Black Crusades have been led by the Warmaster of Chaos and commander of the Black Legion, Abaddon the Despoiler, the self-proclaimed heir of Horus, who has led multiple Black Crusades against the Imperium. The most recent of these campaigns was the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, the largest and most successful of them all.
The 1st Black Crusade occurred in the late 31st Millennium, five standard centuries after the end of the Horus Heresy. Utilising the region of calm space around the Eye of Terror known as the Cadian Gate, Abaddon led the combined forces of the Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions against scores of Imperial worlds, and was responsible for millions of deaths in the first solar week alone.
Multiple worlds were lost before the Imperium could launch an effective counterassault, and although the Black Crusade was ultimately defeated, the Imperium was forced to heavily fortify the surrounding Cadian Sector, transforming Cadia itself into a Fortress World.
Over the course of the intervening ten thousand standard years, the forces of Chaos have launched a further twelve Black Crusades. Millions of other attacks have been made on the worlds of the Cadian Gate by Daemon Princes and lesser Chaos warlords, but the title of Black Crusade is reserved for the times when Abaddon or another powerful Chaos Lord is able to unite all of the Forces of Chaos located within the Eye of Terror in the pursuit of one goal -- the destruction of the Imperium of Man, the greatest bastion of Order in the galaxy.
The 41st Millennium saw two major Black Crusades. The 12th Black Crusade, also known as the Gothic War, began in 139.M41 and lasted until 160.M41. It represented Abaddon's attempt to capture the ancient xenos artefacts called the Talismans of Vaul by the Aeldari, but known to the Imperium as the six Blackstone Fortresses. The Aeldari allied themselves with the Imperium to defeat the Chaos forces, and were successful, although Abaddon escaped with at least two of the Blackstone Fortresses.
The 13th Black Crusade began in 999.M41, and resulted in the largest mobilisation of both Imperial and Chaos forces seen since the Horus Heresy. Despite the valiant defence of millions of Astra Militarum soldiers, Space Marines and the Sisters of Battle of the Adepta Sororitas, it was not enough.
The Fortress World of Cadia fell after Abaddon's Black Fleet unleashed a massive assault. Though the Blackstone Fortress Will of Eternity was deactivated through a combined assault of a Space Wolves fleet and an attack by the Imperial Fists' mobile fortress-monastery Phalanx, Horus used the Blackstone Fortress as a makeshift missile, sending it careening into Cadia's surface. The tectonic upheaval of this kinetic strike shattered the forces of the remaining Imperial defenders, leading them to abandon the world.
The fall of Cadia also destroyed the Necron-built Cadian Pylons that had long held the Warp rift of the Eye of Terror in check. This, combined with the growing instability of the Immaterium as the power of the Dark Gods waxed, led to the eruption of the Cicatrix Maledictum, the Great Rift, in 999.M41. It divided the territory of the Imperium in half and dimmed the light of the Astronomican on the side of the rift cut off from Terra known as the "Dark Imperium."
In response to the assault on Cadia, the Imperium had stripped the garrisons along its far Eastern Fringe to reinforce the Cadian Gate, which resulted in a full retreat of the forces of Chaos from the Cadian Sector and produced the current stalemate.
However, this weakening of Imperial defences hastened the onslaught of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan and the latest expansion of the T'au Empire until it was brought to a halt in the Zeist Campaign. At the present time Abaddon's forces are preparing their next major line of attack in the wake of the birth of the Great Rift and the division of Imperial space between the Imperium Nihilus and the Imperium Sanctus.
Launching a Black Crusade
A Heretic's steps on the path to glory are inevitably shaped by their attitude towards the Chaos Gods, and especially their patron (or lack thereof). This is as true when their footsteps shake the galaxy as it was when they first set out in service of the Ruinous Powers. A Warmaster serving Khorne does so by bringing about a Black Crusade that drowns the galaxy in the blood of open war, while one serving Tzeentch advances his forces according to an inscrutable agenda that can no more be opposed than it can be understood. Each of the Chaos powers directs their servants towards a unique path of conquest fitted to the particular gifts and stratagems they favour. No less deadly are the campaigns plotted by the unaligned, for anyone who can claim the title of Warmaster without a Dark God’s backing must be a power in their own right.
Dedicating the Crusade
Much like a Compact, a Black Crusade can be dedicated to one of the four Chaos Gods. However, the Dark Gods are jealously protective of the work of their champions. As such, a Black Crusade can only be dedicated to the Chaos God to which the Warmaster (if it has one leader) or the majority of the heretics (if they share leadership) are aligned. If the Warmaster is unaligned or the heretics do not have a common alignment across the majority of their group, then the Black Crusade cannot be dedicated to a specific god. A Black Crusade need not be dedicated to one god in particular, but an aligned Warmaster risks slighting his dark patron by failing to glorify it through his dread works:
- Tide of Blood (Khorne) - A Black Crusade dedicated to Khorne is a brutal campaign of slaughter across countless worlds, leaving little behind but gore-soaked soil and mountains of piled skulls.
- Campaign of Subversion (Slaanesh) - A Black Crusade dedicated to Slaanesh barely resembles a traditional war at all. Although planets fall before the invading presence of the Warmaster’s hosts, they do so thanks to the subversive influence of cultist networks and the allure of witch-spoken words rather than marching armies and fired bombardments.
- Advance the Inevitable (Tzeentch) - A Black Crusade dedicated to Tzeentch appears to pick its targets at random, as the Architect of Fate allows his champions to strike not only at current strongholds of his enemies, but at their futures as well. Seemingly insignificant targets become lynchpins in a battle plan spanning time as well as space.
- Triumph of Decay (Nurgle) - A Black Crusade dedicated to Nurgle fights not only with weapons and armies, but with one of the most basic principles of the universe -- entropy. The vanguard of such a war effort is not soldiers or ships, but plague, despair, and decay. The warhosts of Nurgle play the long game in battle, knowing that all things crumble in time. With a little help from plagueships, and some judicious sabotage, the enemies of the Fly Lord starve in their fortresses as they find their supply lines become a vector for new corruption.
The Dread Host Gathers
Although the favour of the gods is important to a Black Crusade, no Warmaster can hope to do battle in the material realm without armies and fleets. The heretics might have been able to assemble such resources over the campaign, or they might need to call in debts and leverage their reputations to gather them. Even if the Warmaster already commands armies and fleets thanks to the heretics’ previous adventures, it is possible to bolster his Black Crusade further before its onset. Forces for a Black Crusade are handled abstractly. For example, planetary battles are won using hosts, which can represent anything from warbands of Traitor Legionnaires or regiments of renegade Imperial Guard to teeming hordes of barbarians from a world such as Xurunt in the Screaming Vortex. Guidelines on acquiring these abstracted forces (collectively referred to as Crusade Forces) are presented below, whether in terms of representing existing assets or acquiring them through aggressive recruitment for the Black Crusade:
- Fleets and Landing Fleets - Fleets are used for one of two purposes -- to wage Naval Conflicts and to deploy forces to new territories. Existing naval assets controlled by the heretics can potentially grant them fleets at the start of a Black Crusade. A fleet typically consists of at least one powerful capital ship and a small number of frigates or destroyers to escort it. Landing Fleets have fewer warships and may lack capital ships entirely, but require bulk transport vessels to ferry troops and munitions.
- Hosts - The meat and drink of a Black Crusade are the mighty warrior-hosts used to wage planetary war. They may be elite forces of Chaos Space Marines or ravening barbarian tribes, but they all share an appetite for blood and destruction. Existing military assets controlled by the heretics can potentially grant them Hosts at the start of a Black Crusade. Some particularly powerful assets may count as multiple Hosts. In general, a Host can be a few veteran squads of Traitor Legionnaires, several hundred disciplined and well-equipped soldiers such as renegade Guardsmen, or a thousands-strong rabble armed only with improvised weapons and unholy zeal. A small group of armoured fighting vehicles or even Daemon Engines could also count as a Host .
- Cults - Cults within the Imperium can be used to weaken the defenders through sabotage and corruption. They prey on supply lines and weaken the resolve of planetary populations.
- Cabals - The strength at arms of a Warmaster’s forces may be supplemented by the powers of the Warp if he has access to Cabals with which to call them down. Cabals are groups of sorcerers, wyrds, and ritualists who wield the power of Chaos to assist the battles of the Warmaster’s Hosts.
- Lieutenants - While the Warmaster’s will binds his forces together with a common goal, he cannot inspire, terrorise, and maintain discipline across every battlefield. For that, the Warmaster requires Lieutenants. Lieutenants are subordinate champions of Chaos who have sworn service to the Warmaster in exchange for a share of the plunder and the glory of his Black Crusade.
Letting The Galaxy Burn
Even the greatest Warmasters cannot assault the whole of the Imperium at once. The crumbling edifices of the Corpse-Emperor sprawl across the entire galaxy, protected against total destruction as much by the vastness of space as by any efforts of their deluded guardians. Most Black Crusades begin as assaults against a single sector -- even the infamous wars launched by Abaddon the Despoiler typically started by besieging the region of space known as the Cadian Gate.
Shadow War: The Calixis Sector
To the eyes of many among the Screaming Vortex’s most ambitious leaders, the Calixis Sector is a fruit ripe for plucking. Its military resources are tied up between a distant war in the Jericho Reach and a civil war in the region now known as the Spinward Front. The Sector is the birthplace of an Imperial Saint, but has far fewer able defenders than its status might otherwise provide due its remote location and difficult current situation. However, the most canny warlords are also aware of two assets available to the Imperium in this region that could tip the balance of any conflict -- the Calixian Conclave of Inquisitors and the Storm Wardens Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Neither force is suited to protracted warfare, especially with much of the Storm Wardens’ strength on Crusade in the Jericho Reach. However, Inquisitorial or Space Marine strike forces are capable of precisely targeted raids with devastating effects.
The Dark Beyond: The Koronus Expanse
Those who pass for ambitious among the followers of the Corpse-Emperor see the Koronus Expanse as a priceless gem, but its value is considerably less to the followers of the Dark Gods. Where Rogue Traders and missionaries see the region’s untapped worlds as a great bounty, most warlords in the Screaming Vortex are more interested in toppling empires and seizing plunder than claiming an uncontested prize. Still, thwarting the Imperium’s expansion is a worthy goal, and the Expanse also hosts many xenos species known to provide excellent sport or whose death pleases the Ruinous Powers. Between Rogue Traders, Orks, Eldar, and the mysteries of the galactic halo, there are enough challenges in the Koronus Expanse to temper even a Black Crusade.
A Clash of Crusades: The Jericho Reach
By passing through the twisting passages of Warp-scarred space, it is possible to travel from the Screaming Vortex to the distant Jericho Reach and emerge in the Chaotic vortex of the Hadex Anomaly. Here, countless lives are lost attempting to reclaim the fallen might of the once-great Jericho Sector. The Imperium has deployed the mighty Achilus Crusade to retake the region, which some Warmasters might take as a challenge to match with a crusade of their own. Kill-teams of Deathwatch Space Marines, Tau colonists, and a swarming Tyranid Hive Fleet combine with the teeming ranks of the Imperial Guard and elite detachments from the Adeptus Astartes to make the Jericho Reach an almost impossible target—but the followers of Chaos know that the greater the opposition, the greater the glory there is to be had in conquest.
List of Black Crusades
- 1st Black Crusade (781.M31) - Abaddon the Despoiler made many blood pacts with the Dark Gods in the wake of Horus' defeat during the Horus Heresy. In 781.M31, Abaddon made his first attempt to launch a new offensive against the Imperium of Man following the Horus Heresy and initiated the 1st Black Crusade, also known as the First Battle of Cadia. The 1st Black Crusade marked the first assault by the Forces of Chaos upon that Fortress World. Following the relative success of this deadly incursion across the Segmentum Obscurus, the Ruinous Powers grant Abaddon the means to further increase his already formidable power. On the world of Uralan, by the will of the Dark Gods, Abaddon recovered the Daemonsword Drach'nyen after battling his way through a haunted labyrinth to the great inner chamber where the blade had languished in stasis for millennia. The howling sword contained the bound essence of a dangerous Warp entity who had the power to rend reality apart wherever the weapon strikes. After the recovery of the malefic sword, Abaddon's power swelled to inhuman proportions and he was recognised as Horus Lupercal's true successor amongst the Traitor Legions, the new Warmaster of Chaos Undivided.
- 2nd Black Crusade (597.M32) - Abaddon places a terrible curse upon the worlds of the Belis Corona Sector, infusing them with the touch of the Warp. Meanwhile, his fleet attacks the sector's Imperial shipyards, destroying dozens of Imperial Cruisers being constructed or repaired. Before the Imperium can muster its strength to fight back, the Despoiler retreats into the Eye of Terror, his works complete.
- 3rd Black Crusade (909.M32) - The Despoiler sends the Daemon Prince Tallomin against the Cadian Gate in a reckless and bloody frontal assault. The daemonic horde that follows in Tallomin's wake accounts for the destruction of millions of lives and draws in Imperial Guard regiments and Space Marine Chapters from across the Segmentum Obscurus. Eventually, warriors of the Space Wolves manage to send Tallomin howling back into the Warp. Under the cover of the attack, Abaddon leads a dedicated strike force to desecrate the Shrine World of Gerstahl, breaking the ancient seal on the Imperial saint's tomb and utterly destroying his remains whilst the Imperium's attention is elsewhere.
- 4th Black Crusade (001.M34) - Also known as the El'Phanor War, during this Black Crusade the Black Legion besieges the great Citadel of Kromarch. Abaddon leads the charge against the adamantium gates of the famously unbreachable citadel upon the world of El'Phanor. Only one in ten of Abaddon's spearhead reach the gates before they are trapped by Heavy Bolter fire. Utilising his Daemon Sword Drach'nyen, the gates of the citadel prove harder than diamond, but they split apart like cordwood before Abaddon's dolorous blow. In an orgy of violence, the Traitor Legions and their daemonic allies fall upon Kromarch and his kin, extinguishing their ancient line forever.
- 5th Black Crusade (723.M36) - Abaddon scours the Elysia Sector, raiding hundreds of worlds and causing untold death and destruction. On Tarinth, the Despoiler lures the Warhawks and Venerators Chapters into the ruins of Kasyr Lutein where he traps them between the daemonic hordes of Khorne and the forces of the Black Legion. In a bitter last stand, both Loyalist Chapters are utterly destroyed, their skulls taken by the ancient Daemon Prince Doombreed, whose existence precedes that of the Imperium itself, to be mounted upon the mighty throne of Khorne.
- 6th Black Crusade (901.M36) - The Sons of the Eye were a splinter warband of the Black Legion, founded and commanded by the infamous Chaos Lord Drecarth the Sightless, the Blind Butcher of Irridous VII. Drecarth was a former Battle-Brother of the Sons of Horus who had fought alongside Abaddon during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy that followed. Always jealous of the Primarch Horus' favour for the Despoiler, the Sons of the Eye considered Abaddon a usurper. During the 6th Black Crusade launched in 901.M36, Abaddon visited his wrath upon Drecarth the Sightless and his treacherous warband. Abaddon aided the Sons of the Eye in an assault on the Forge World of Arkreach, fighting side-by-side with them until the Adeptus Mechanicus defenders were finally crushed. The triumphant Abaddon then slowly killed Drecarth, impaling him with the Talon of Horus, even as the Despoiler made him watch every member of the Sons of the Eye bow before their new master.
- 7th Black Crusade (811.M37) - The 7th Black Crusade was launched by Abaddon in 811.M37. At this time, the Forces of Chaos spewed forth from the great Warp rift past Cadia and then disappeared. This event is what earned this conflict its informal name of the Ghost War. The following years saw a game of hide-and-seek played between the Forces of Chaos and the Imperium of Man which spread confusion, paranoia, disinformation and deceit across the galaxy. Raids became commonplace in far-flung areas but eventually the servants of the Dark Gods returned to the Eye of Terror, having caused great difficulty for the Emperor's Loyalists but having proven unable to significantly degrade Imperial defensive capabilities at that time. During this conflict, when the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter battled against the Forces of Chaos at Mackan, Abaddon singled them out with implacable fury. He led a band of Khornate Berserkers into the teeth of the Blood Angels' Devastator positions. Even the Blood Angels' own Assault troops could not dislodge the frenzied warband and recapture the bodies of their comrades. But there is an obscure reference to the Blood Angels being saved by an unidentified Space Marine Chapter of mysterious origin. Written within the The Canticle of Cassandria Lev - Vol. CVI, the eponymous Sainted Sisters' highly mythologised and oblique account of the wars of the 7th Black Crusade, is found mention of a "grey-clad" Space Marines Chapter who came from "The outer night" to aid the Imperium, and whose "Jagged maw did swallow the stars ... and whose ... black gaze did mirror the void of oblivion." In the course of the canticle this Chapter's ships set upon Abaddon's forces following the disastrous defeat and routing of the Blood Angels at Midian and attacked the pursuing forces as Saint Lev writes: "...fell upon the servants of the skulled-one with great fury from the darkness, unseen as the beast that lurks beneath the black waters, death for death, blood for blood...thus were the Sons of Sanguinius bought respite, and did turn back upon their pursuers and so were the damned traitors of the false gods driven unto their ruin." Images of these events can be found upon the walls of the Cemetery World of Hypasitis created to house the honoured dead of that war, depicted in repeated fresco and bar relief. Curiously, the faces of the intervening Space Marines depicted there are obscured with featureless disks of black obsidian. Given the largely unknown history of the star-faring Carcharodons Chapter, accounts of their activities can only be constructed from recorded historical incidents and fragmentary records that are believed to have involved the Carcharodons on balance of evidence. This notable engagement is listed by Imperial savants as a "[Special] Probable Encounter/Recorded Sighting" of this notorious and mysterious Space Marine Chapter. After their rescue at Midian, the full might of the Blood Angels Chapter fell upon a vast Black Legion warband on the world of Mackan. Although the conflict ultimately ends in the near-extinction of the Blood Angels at the hands of Abaddon the Despoiler and his primary lieutenants -- the Sorcerer-Lord Iskandar Khayon and the swordmaster Telemachon Lyras -- the Blood Angels Reclusiarch Thalastian Jorus becomes one of the few Imperial heroes to ever land a blow against the Warmaster of Chaos. With his Chapter devastated, the Chaplain endures weeks of hardship in the wilderness and the constant trials of keeping his crazed warriors undetected on Mackan. When the time is right, Jorus leads his Death Company in a lightning raid behind enemy lines, butchering the unprepared sworn warriors of the Despoiler’s honour guard, and allowing the Reclusiarch to lock blades with Abaddon himself. It is said the Chaos Warmaster still bears the scars of that battle, even three standard millennia later. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is known that the Despoiler honoured Jorus once the war was over -- perhaps in mockery, or perhaps with nothing but sincerity. After Mackan, thousands of Blood Angels corpses were desecrated, their gene-seed ruined beyond recovery. Of all the Chapter, only a handful of bodies were left undefiled: Reclusiarch Jorus and his Death Company, clad in their battered and broken black ceramite, seated in makeshift thrones made from the armour of those Black Legion warriors they had killed on that fateful night.
- 8th Black Crusade (999.M37) - Abaddon the Despoiler completes a complex ritual of death in the name of Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways. On worlds throughout the Segmentum Obscurus, Imperial citizens are slaughtered in precise numbers and esoteric rituals. Only when the Inquisition finally breaks the code of damnation is the Imperium able to bring an end to the Black Legion's rampage across the Segmentum in time with these mysterious attacks, but not before countless worlds have been saturated in death.
- 9th Black Crusade (537.M38) - The 9th Black Crusade was launched by Abaddon in 537.M38. Intending to bring about the demise of the naval fortress of Cancephalus, Abaddon lead his forces against the heaving populations of the nearby world of Antecanis. Monarchhive, the hive city that served as the seat of Antecanis' Imperial Commander, was besieged by Abaddon's vanguard. The Black Legionaries burned and butchered their way through the lower levels, whilst Abaddon himself stormed its inner sanctums. The hive populations were slowly destroyed by the slaughter. By the time the forces of the Imperial Guard arrived from Cancephalus to reinforce the desperate survivors, Abaddon and his favoured Legionaries had already left orbit, dropping a dozen Cyclonic Warheads onto the ruins of Monarchhive in a last gesture of contempt. The seventeen-year-long war that ensued robbed both Antecanis and Cancephalus of their most precious resource -- manpower. Without the fleets of Cancephalus to stop him, Abaddon is able to ravage the rest of the sector at will. During this time, the Lamenters Chapter is recalled along with a number of other Crusading Chapters by the High Lords of Terra to help deal with the rising threat of incursions from the Eye of Terror. But the Lamenters' fell reputation for suffering bitter reversals and dark turns of fate worked against them during their defence of the Hive World of Corillia from a Chaotic attack. The superstition-bound Mortifactors Chapter refused to fight alongside the Lamenters, abandoning the planet rather than serve besides fellow Astartes they consider cursed. Unwilling to desert the Hive World's population, the Lamenters held out alone against the Black Legion's onslaught for six standard weeks, suffering horrendous losses until the Ultramarines and White Scars led a battle group that broke though the Chaos warfleet to relieve Corillia. Reduced to barely 200 surviving Battle-Brothers by their sacrifice, the Lamenters were deemed lost when their fleet disappeared into a Warp Storm soon afterwards, only to reappear more than a standard century later on the edge of the Segmentum Solar, having slowly battled their way back from the outer void.
- 10th Black Crusade (001.M39) - This Black Crusade is also known as the Conflict of Helica, and was a joint campaign carried out by Abaddon and the Daemon Primarch Perturabo. Both the Black Legion and the Iron Warriors struck against the worlds of the Scarus Sector's Helican Sub-sector. While the Black Legion attacked the capital world of the sub-sector, the Hive World of Thracian Primaris, the Iron Warriors focused their own assault against the Iron Hands Chapter to fulfil an old blood debt. In a series of bitter sieges, the Iron Warriors burned the Medusa System's outlying worlds and pushed the Iron Hands to the brink of destruction. Only when the Loyalist Chapter received heavy Imperial reinforcements did Abaddon and the Iron Warriors retreat back to the Eye of Terror, taking with them valuable information about Medusa's defences for use at a later date.
- 11th Black Crusade (301.M39) - In 301.M39, Abaddon the Despoiler launched his 11th Black Crusade out of the Eye of Terror. In an attempt to break through the cordon of Warp Storms surrounding the Eye into Imperial space, he employed a captured daemon to navigate. The effort proved fruitless, and instead the daemon warped the Black Fleet directly into the path of the Orks of WAAAGH! Murgor. In the ruins of the Cardinal World of Relorria, the Black Legion brought the Orks to battle, Bolter rounds and Chainswords tearing into the green-skinned xenos. After months of bloody warfare, Abaddon decided to leave Relorria to its fate and the Black Legion returned to the nightmare realm of the Eye of Terror -- but not before the Warmaster of Chaos filled the holds of his Black Fleet with a multitude of captured Orkoid specimens for later experimentation.
- 12th Black Crusade (139.M41) - Better known as the Gothic War, this Black Crusade was fought for control of the Gothic Sector in the Segmentum Obscurus between the Chaotic forces of Abaddon the Despoiler and the defenders of the Imperium. Abaddon lead his great fleet into the Gothic Sector, capturing two of the prehistoric xenos-built star forts known as the Blackstone Fortresses. Under Abaddon's control, the might of the Blackstone Fortresses is used to destroy entire worlds in the Gothic Sector during this campaign. The Despoiler's fleet is driven back at great cost, though Abaddon escapes with the Blackstone Fortresses into the Eye of Terror. The vast engines of destruction emerge once more into the material universe during Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade over eight hundred standard years later.
- 13th Black Crusade (999.M41) - The 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler that began in 999.M41 resulted in the largest clash between Imperial and Chaos forces seen in the Milky Way Galaxy since the Horus Heresy ten thousand Terran years before. Abaddon raised the greatest army in service to the Chaos Gods since the time of Horus, and intended to bring an end to the Long War by driving on Terra, slaying the Emperor of Mankind upon His Golden Throne and at last completing the task the Traitor Legions had begun millennia before. The campaign began with a massive assault by the Forces of Chaos out of the Eye of Terror into the sectors of the Segmentum Obscurus directly adjacent to the Cadian Gate. Fighting erupted on dozens, if not hundreds, of worlds within this region of the galaxy, with the ultimate objective of Chaos the seizure of the Cadia System and the Fortress World of Cadia at its heart. This victory would remove the last major bastion preventing Abaddon from unleashing his full force upon the Imperium of Man's defences and assaulting Terra for the second time in ten thousand standard years. The forward elements of the Black Fleet of Abaddon were ultimately forced to retreat from the Cadia System by the combined forces of the Imperial Navy and the Necrons. With the withdrawal of the Chaos warfleet, the Imperial defenders of Cadia, led by its new Lord Castellan, Ursarkar E. Creed, were able to defeat the remaining servants of the Ruinous Powers who had made planetfall in the initial assault on the Fortress World. But this victory proved to be no more than a brief respite. Abaddon launched a second, far larger assault on the Cadian Gate that unleashed the full daemonic fury of the Eye of Terror directly upon an already-battered Cadia. Though the arrival of some unexpected Imperial reinforcements prevented Abaddon from personally sealing his victory by crushing Cadia's defenders, and led to the destruction of the Blackstone Fortress Will of Eternity, the Despoiler unleashed a brutal contingency plan. He had the massive fragments of the Will of Eternity hurled from orbit like an artificial asteroid onto the surface of Cadia. The strike destroyed what remained of Cadia's faltering defences and the network of Necron-built Cadian Pylons that had long prevented the Eye of Terror from naturally expanding into the Cadian Gate. Within only solar hours, most of Cadia was in the process of being consumed by the Immaterium when the tectonic instability caused by the impact of the Blackstone Fortress finally caused Cadia to tear itself apart. By that time, the few surviving Imperial forces had evacuated the planet, harried by the ships of the Black Fleet. The 13th Black Crusade had been a triumph for the servants of the Dark Gods, and the Eye of Terror began to slowly expand without limit, opening Abaddon the Despoiler's coveted Crimson Path to Terra and creating the Great Rift. Yet a handful of Imperial heroes had successfully escaped the fall of Cadia with the aid of the newborn Eldar faction known as the Ynnari through a Webway gate found on the ice moon of Klaisus in the Cadian System. Together, these Imperials -- the so-called Celestinian Crusade -- would forge an uneasy alliance with the xenos that would offer a new hope for the servants of the Emperor in their fight against the waxing power of the Archenemy -- the resurrection of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman.
- Black Crusade of Jihar the Lacerator - This Black Crusade was launched in 599.M37, shortly before the 7th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler. It was led by the Chaos Lord of Slaanesh named Jihar the Lacerator, a member of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion. His Black Crusade encompassed a small fleet of heretic Astartes who managed to slip through the Imperial defences of the Cadian Gate unnoticed to spread discontent and instigate revolts through the region of thirty Imperial planets known as the Gloom Worlds to the galactic southwest of the Eye of Terror. He was ultimately slain on the world of Hyrik V by the efforts of the 13th Mordant Regiment of the Astra Militarum. Without his leadership, his Black Crusade swiftly collapsed into infighting and ultimately was destroyed by Imperial forces.
- Black Crusade of Von Mallas - This was a Black Crusade fought between 113.M38 and 955.M39 in the Segmentum Tempestus and Segmentum Pacificus. Launched by the Heretic Chaos Lord known as Von Mallas, his Chaos Cults took advantage of the local discontent with Imperial authorities in the region as a result of the massive military expenditures constantly demanded by the Segmentum Command to unleash a series of major rebellions and uprisings against Imperial rule. The Imperium brutally put down the rebellions, but Von Mallas' own Black Crusade managed to cause further bloodletting throughout the region. The Heretic's call for rebellion against Imperial tyranny eventually made it all the way to the Orpheus Sector, and resulted in the outbreak of major revolts on the Orphean worlds of Colkasth and Epirus. Though the rebels were eventually defeated, their actions reduced the Agri-world of Epirus to a wasteland, causing famine throughout the planets of the sector in the days before the start of the Orphean War.
- Battlefleet Gothic: "The Galaxy"
- Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook (Blue Book), pp. 92-103
- Black Legion - A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement (Digital Edition), pp. 31-54, 65-76, 78
- Black Crusade: Tome of Decay (RPG), pp. 74-78
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 22-23, 25
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 24, 46
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition)
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 106, 108
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pg. 118
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 29
- Index Astartes - Death Company (Digital Edition), pg. 10
- Liber Chaotica: Khorne
- Tactica Imperialis (Background Book), pp. 72-90
- The 13th Black Crusade (Background Book), pg. 73
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 177, 230-231
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 148
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (4th Edition), pg.136
- Warpstorm (Rulebook), "Incident at Stranivar," "Wolf Pack," "Slayer of Worlds: History of the Planet Killer"
- White Dwarf 286 (UK), "The Eye of Terror," pp. 69-70
- White Dwarf 246 (US), "The Powers That Be," (by Jonathan Green)
- Cain's Last Stand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Execution Hour (Novel) by Gordon Rennie
- Shadow Point (Novel) by Gordon Rennie