"Death to the False Emperor! Death to the weakling Imperium of Mankind!"
- — Oath of the Traitor Legions
Chaos Space Marines, also sometimes called Traitor Marines, Renegade Marines, or Heretic Astartes, are former Loyalist Space Marines of the Imperium of Man who have chosen to abandon the service of the Emperor of Mankind and dedicate themselves to the service of Chaos to achieve their own ends.
Such corrupt Astartes normally belong to one of the nine original Traitor Legions that betrayed the Emperor during the ancient civil war called the Horus Heresy more than 10,000 standard years ago, while others come from Space Marine Chapters created long after the Heresy ended that have turned Renegade. Chaos can corrupt Astartes of any time and place just as its siren call leads many lesser men and women to their damnation.
During the Horus Heresy, the terrible Imperial civil war that pitted the Battle-Brothers of the 18 known Space Marine Legions against one another, there were two factions. These were the Loyalist Space Marines who continued to serve the Imperium and the Emperor of Mankind and the Chaos Space Marines of the Traitor Legions who betrayed the Emperor and pledged their souls to the service of the four Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
Some Traitor Marines pledged their service to all four of the Dark Gods, a malevolent force known as Chaos Undivided, whilst others preferred to dedicate themselves to the worship of only one of the Ruinous Powers. The Traitor Legions were led by the Warmaster Horus, once a Primarch of the Imperium and the Emperor's most trusted friend, son, and adviser before he was corrupted by the promises and lies of the Dark Gods and his own inner flaws and ambition.
The Traitor Legions were the most powerful component of the forces of Chaos which fought during the Heresy, which also included the myriad daemons of the Warp, human Traitors from the Imperial Army, the potent infantry and combat walker forces of the Dark Mechanicum and Chaos Cultists drawn from across the galaxy.
The flesh and Power Armour of Chaos Space Marines often warps and twists into new, darker and inhuman forms under the influence of the Warp energies they are exposed to as their shapes morph to embody the corrupted Astartes' new allegiance.
Chaos Space Marines fight for everything they were once forbidden to indulge in as the ascetic servants of the Emperor and the selfless guardians of Mankind. Pleasure, wealth, mayhem, but above all else, the power to rule their fellow humans in the name of the Chaos Gods is the driving ambition and goal of every Chaos Space Marine.
All Heretic Astartes are ultimately united by this sheer hunger for power. At first, this desire is focused towards specific goals, but as time passes, it becomes a bone-deep obsession. Though the Dark Gods are given to rewarding their mortal followers for acts of carnage that further their divine cause, the gifts they bestow upon their favoured are fickle indeed.
A particularly extravagant slaughter might be rewarded with a blood-red aura that invigorates the supplicant, but it is just as likely the champion will find his arms being reshaped as axes of bone, or that he has the face of a slavering hound.
Eventually, the Chaos Space Marine seeks immortality, to ascend to such lofty heights of favour that he is remade as a Daemon Prince. But for every successful aspirant there are hundreds of failures, mutated beyond recognition into mewling abominations known as Chaos Spawn.
The Traitor Legions of the Chaos Space Marines represent 9 of the 20 original First Founding Legions of Space Marines who were created by the Emperor of Mankind from the genomes of his 20 Primarchs in the late 30th Millennium to fight the Great Crusade that forged the Imperium of Man.
At this time Horus, the Warmaster of the Imperial forces and Primarch of the XVI Legion, the Luna Wolves, (which the Emperor allowed him to rename the Sons of Horus in his honour before the onset of the Horus Heresy to demonstrate his status as first-among-equals among the other Primarchs), was corrupted by Chaos. The Warmaster then instigated the galaxy-wide Imperial civil war known as the Horus Heresy in his determination to replace the rule of the Emperor with his own.
After the death of Horus at the hands of the Emperor aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, during the Battle of Terra that saw the conclusion of the Horus Heresy, the remnants of the nine Traitor Legions fled, along with the other Traitor Imperial forces that now served Chaos, into an area of the galaxy where the Warp bled into realspace, creating the permanent Warp Storm known as the Eye of Terror.
Due to the nature of Chaos, and the temporal instability of the Warp, many of the very same Chaos Space Marines who revolted against the Emperor more than 10 millennia ago continue to fight against the Imperium today, having effectively been granted a tortured immortality by the will of the Ruinous Powers.
The Traitor Legions have kept their old names, with the exception of the Sons of Horus who were renamed the Black Legion by their new leader, Abaddon the Despoiler, once Horus' chief lieutenant and the First Captain of the Luna Wolves before he followed Horus into damnation. Besides Horus, two other Traitor Primarchs were killed during or shortly after the Heresy (Alpharius of the Alpha Legion and Konrad Curze of the Night Lords).
The six surviving Traitor Primarchs have since been transformed into Daemon Princes by the Chaos Gods. These daemonic Primarchs rarely took part in the affairs of their Legions before the birth of the Great Rift. Four of the Traitor Legions have pledged a singular loyalty to one of the great Chaos Gods, while the others serve the interests of Chaos as a whole in the form of Chaos Undivided.
Due to the nature of Chaos and those who choose to serve it, not long after the end of the Heresy the Traitor Legions, save for the Word Bearers, largely stopped operating as unified military organisations and instead devolved into a series of separate and often competing smaller units called "warbands." The Traitor Marines who command these warbands, all potent Chaos Champions, seek their own personal glorification and the eventual opportunity to become Daemon Princes in their own right by earning victories in the cause of Chaos.
Due to the fractious nature of the Dark Gods, the warbands in service to a particular Ruinous Power often view other Traitor Marine warbands who serve its patron's rival deity as even more appropriate targets for their wrath than the servants of the Emperor. With such an attitude prevailing among the corrupted Astartes, it has often proven impossible for the Traitor Legions to present a united front against the Imperium since the death of Horus, which is one reason why they have never enjoyed a similar series of military successes over the past ten millennia.
The closest thing to unity that has appeared amongst the Traitor Legions and other Chaos Space Marines is when Abaddon the Despoiler, the Warmaster of Chaos and leader of the Black Legion, launches one of his periodic Black Crusades into Imperial space under the banner of Chaos Undivided. These were temporary periods of unity amongst all the forces of Chaos when they seek to overwhelm the Imperium's defences surrounding the Eye of Terror and drive on Terra once more.
Abaddon is the only Champion of Chaos since Horus himself who is able to command, however begrudgingly and briefly, the loyalty of all nine Traitor Legions, and he has led twelve Black Crusades out of the Eye of Terror against the Imperium of Man.
The latest, the 13th Black Crusade, was launched in 999.M41 and proved the most successful for the forces of Chaos since the Horus Heresy. The Chaos troops managed to destroy the Fortress World of Cadia, at last cracking open the Cadian Gate. Shortly afterwards, the Great Rift was born, as the strains wrought upon reality by the 13th Black Crusade caused realspace to crack along a line running from the Eye of Terror in the galactic west to the Hadex Anomaly in the east. The forces of Chaos are now on the march as never before, though the defenders of the Imperium have also found themselves reinvigorated by the resurrection of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman.
Yet the Emperor's servants find themselves pressed as never before from all sides by Chaos and other xenos factions. Abaddon believes it will not be much longer before the Black Legion and the other servants of the Ruinous Powers will once more stand upon the soil of Terra. Then the galaxy will tremble as the servants of the Dark Gods rip the Corpse Emperor from His Golden Throne and claim the souls of Mankind for their own.
The Long War - The Woeful Blasphemies of the Chaos Space Marines
The Long War has raged for ten thousand standard years. The bitterness and spite of the Chaos Space Marines has spread throughout the galaxy, spilling from the Warp and bleeding back again for time immemorial. Though the Inquisition takes great pains to quell reports of Chaos incursions in order to spare the common populace of the Imperium from unconventional thought that might lead to a replication of the heresy, the legends and records persist across the galaxy, handed down through the generations by the foolish and the brave.
This is a woeful record of recorded blasphemies committed by the Heretic Astartes, compiled from the sealed archives of the Conclave of Kratos, by order of the Herald of the Convocation Senatorum Imperialis, as ratified by Order-in-Camera KKL/706404-4334/X8044. Pursuant to the Declaration of Reunification of the Heresy and Recidivism in each and all of its manifold manifestations with reference to the Sealed Addenda to the 7th Grand Census Armourial.
M30-M31, Age of Betrayal
- The Great Crusade (ca. 800.M30 - 005.M31) - The Emperor rises from the anarchy of sundered Terra during the Age of Strife and creates the Primarchs. The first Space Marines are created in turn near the end of the Unification Wars. With the Warp Storms that isolated Terra during the Age of Strife finally dissipated, the Emperor goes forth into the galaxy. Over the course of campaigns unnumbered, the Emperor's Space Marine Legions unite Mankind. The Imperium of Man is born.
- The Horus Heresy (ca. 005.M31 - 014.M31) - The galaxy is torn by bitter rebellion and civil war. Horus and his nine Traitor Primarchs lay waste to the remaining nine Loyalist Legiones Astartes and all but overthrow the Emperor of Mankind. The forces of Chaos are eventually hurled back from Terra and most are driven into the Eye of Terror during the campaigns of the Great Scouring.
- Fall of Guilliman at Thessala (131.M31) - Fulgrim, the Daemon Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion, leads his hedonistic armies in a spiteful strike against the Ultramarines during the Battle of Thessala. Amongst the swirling pink mists of Slaanesh's favour, Fulgrim hunts down his brother Primarch Roboute Guilliman and fights him in single combat. Though Guilliman is mighty indeed, his opponent is a serpentine giant swollen with daemonic power, each of his four arms wielding a poisoned blade. Guilliman is struck down by a slash across his throat. He is spirited away by his Space Marines and placed in a stasis field before Fulgrim's poisons can kill him outright. For ten long millennia, Guilliman lingers on the very threshold of death in the Temple of Correction within the Ultramarines' Fortress of Hera, their fortress-monastery on Macragge.
- The Legion War (ca. M31) - The banished Traitor Astartes fight among themselves within the Eye of Terror in a war for resources and slaves which further fractures the already broken Traitor Legions. In the culmination of the war, the Emperor's Children attack the Daemon World of Maeleum and raze the Sons of Horus' fortress, stealing the body of their Primarch Horus and vanishing into the Warp.
- The Long War Begins (ca. Early M31) - Thirsty for revenge, the Chaos Space Marines strike out against the Imperium from the depths of the Eye of Terror. The Adepts of the Administratum are horrified to find that the number of their invasions consistently increases with every passing solar decade.
M32-M39, Age of Retribution
- The Black Legion Rises (ca. Unknown Date.M31) - Ascending to dominion of the Sons of Horus, Abaddon embarks on a quest to slay the clones Fabius Bile has crafted from Horus' remains. Destroying the Primogenitor's hidden laboratories and the abominations he created, Abaddon leaves behind no trace of his gene-father. With the final and utter destruction of Horus, Abaddon renames his Legion the Black Legion.
- The 1st Black Crusade of Warmaster Abaddon (781.M31) - The new Warmaster of Chaos, Abaddon the Despoiler of the Black Legion, makes many bloody pacts with the Dark Powers. On Uralan, Abaddon recovers the Daemon Sword Drach'nyen after battling his way through the haunted labyrinth to the great inner chamber where the blade has languished in stasis for many Terran centuries. The howling blade contains the bound essence of a dangerous Warp entity who has the power to rend reality apart wherever the weapon strikes. After the recovery of the malefic sword, Abaddon's power swells to inhuman proportions.
- The Tormented Mine (027.M32) - Faenroc the Forgotten of the Black Legion discovers a world formed from Warp-infused iron ore. He constructs a vast mine to harvest its wealth for Abaddon, the Warmaster of Chaos. Slaves prove too fragile to work the mine as the ore mutates them uncontrollably, while some mine shafts secrete fluids that dissolve the workers within. Faenroc remedies this problem by binding daemonic entities to his mining machines in a ritual that involves the mass sacrifice of the entire mortal workforce.
- Vengeance from the Void (ca. M32) – Across a hundred scattered systems in the western marches of the Segmentum Solar, cult uprisings led by a core of Chaos Space Marine warbands drawn from the Iron Warriors, Night Lords and World Eaters Traitor Legions bring entire planetary governments to their knees in a year of blood and anarchy. With whole sections on the brink of collapse, events take a dramatic turn when a combined force of the Adeptus Astartes emerges from the black depths beyond the spiral arm and launches a sudden and overwhelming attack directly upon the uprising's command. Though many Space Marines fall in glory, the warlords of the Traitor factions are slain and the uprising fractures into a thousand localized rebellions which are soon put down by local forces. Subsequent Inquisitorial studies claim that these Space Marines are drawn from several Chapters, including the Minotaurs, Carcharodons, Death Eagles and Angels of Absolution. Other evidence however, including their estimated Founding and projected deployment dates, contradict these assertions, consigning the entire event to conjecture.
- Perturabo's Plague (ca. 400.M32) - The Daemon Primarch Perturabo perverts the eight rituals of possession, turning them against his enemies. Invoking Nurgle, Perturabo imbues his curse with extreme contagion and releases it into the mechanical systems of Toil, a vassal Forge World of the Mechanicum. The raw Chaos spreads through the machines, and the hidden manufactoria begin to change. On the eighth solar day, giant cables burst from the earth, daemonic machines hunt the living, and many-legged cathedrals of industry prowl the wastes. The planet is ultimately scoured of all native flesh.
- The 2nd Black Crusade (597.M32) - Abaddon places a death-curse upon the worlds of the Belis Corona Sector, infusing them with the touch of the Warp. His fleet attacks the sector's shipyards, destroying dozens of Imperial Cruisers under construction or repair. The Imperium, focusing on the war in space, musters a naval force to fight back. Entrusting his flagship to his Sorcerers, the Despoiler then teleports to the Inquisitorial stronghold of Nemesis Tessera. He topples its hexagrammic "Eldritch Needles," ravaging the black stone with sustained Melta fire before withdrawing. The Inquisition later find that a critical vault cell has been opened and its daemonic prisoner -- the legendary nemesis for which the planet is named -- is missing.
- The Traitorous Eye (Unknown Date.M32) - Drecarth the Sightless forms the Sons of the Eye out of those Sons of Horus who refused to join Abaddon after the Heresy. In the Battle of the Keening Deep, the Sons defeat Voslok and his World Eaters, claiming their fortress and hurling their skulls into the soulfires that rage beneath the planet's crust. Drecarth personally wrests Voslok's daemonic axe from his grip during the battle, turning the weapon upon its former owner.
- 3rd Black Crusade (909.M32) - The Despoiler sends the Daemon Prince Tallomin against the Cadian Gate in a reckless frontal assault. The daemonic horde that follows in Tallomin's wake accounts for millions of lives and draws in Imperial Guard regiments and Space Marine Chapters from across the Segmentum Obscurus. Eventually, the Space Wolves manage to banish Tallomin back to the Warp. Under the cover provided by the attack, Abaddon leads a strike force to desecrate the Shrine World of Gerstahl, breaking the ancient seals on the eponymous Imperial Saint's tomb and destroying his remains while the Imperium's attention is directed elsewhere. This act of supreme violation banishes the saint's spirit, thwarting the prophecy that he would one day rise again as a Living Saint whilst weakening the planet's psychic defences.
- Zaraphiston's Penance (Unknown Date.M32) - The Thousand Sons Sorcerer Zaraphiston travels deep into the heart of the Eye of Terror at the behest of Tzeentch, where he is granted the power of prophecy. Gifted with a profound understanding of the millennia to come, Zaraphiston pledges his loyalty to Abaddon the Despoiler.
- The Feral War (ca. 112.M33) - Whilst mining the Feral World of Aggaros, the Adeptus Mechanicus engage in what at first seems like an embarrassingly one-sided battle -- that is until the primitives bring their flame-tongued shamans into the fray. The armies of the Adeptus Mechanicus find themselves burnt from the inside or crushed flat by invisible forces. The retreating Tech-priests call in an old debt from the Relictors in order to renew the attack. Four solar days later, the Relictors' 3rd Company fights its way through psychic pyrotechnics of bewildering force to reach the hidden city of the primitive tribes. Lining every road are dust-caked statues of the Thousand Sons, each facing a colossal effigy of Ahriman atop a pyramid of obsidian. Captain Excorius orders the statue of Ahriman torn down. As it topples, every one of the Thousand Sons comes to life, shrugging off the dust of centuries and opening fire on the Relictors with a hail of corruscating bolts. Not one of the Adeptus Mechanicus, nor their Relictors allies, survive.
- The Hellion War (ca. 870.M33) – In the wake of the anarchy that followed the murderous internecine conflict of the War of the False Primarch and its aftermath, the Hellion Sector declares its secession from the troubled Imperium. Bloodily attacking its neighbours, it becomes quickly apparent that the sector's rulers had fallen then to the worship of Chaos, and its millions of men-under-arms were corrupted and given over to darkness, while its mass manufactora were turned to churning forth twisted war machines consecrated to the dark gods. The ever widening war swells to ravage more than eighty inhabited systems and uncounted billions die in the fighting. By the dawning of M35, the Hellion Sector and its environs are reduced to little more than a waste zone of barren worlds and dead hive cities.
- 4th Black Crusade (001.M34) - During the El'Phanor War, the Black Legion besiege the Citadel of the Kromarch upon the world of El'Phanor. Abaddon leads the charge against the gates of the fortress, but so great is the firepower of the citadel that only a handful of his Chaos Space Marines make it past the kill zones of the Imperial defenders to the fortification's walls. With a single blow from Drach'nyen, the Warmaster of Chaos sunders the towering doors of the fortress. In the process he shatters not just a portal of immense strength, but an ancient empyric barrier, for the citadel's gates incorporated ancient monoliths that had kept a potent Warp node sealed. The Black Legion and their daemonic allies fall upon the Kromarch and his kin, conquering the citadel and extinguishing their ancient line.
- The Sin of Pride (498-601.M34) – Over a dozen campaigns, the Adeptus Astartes Shining Blades Chapter wins a string of victories that ultimately become known as the Beritha Massacres. When the Chapter's methods are questioned they attack their erstwhile allies and the Red Scorpions Chapter appear unheralded to bring them to justice. Much blood is shed in the ensuing war and the Shining Blades Chapter’s true allegiance is revealed as they transform into the servants of the Chaos God Slaanesh. In an act of overweening pride, the Shining Blades declare themselves the "Flawless Host," a sin of hubris for which the Red Scorpions vow to exact punishment.
- The Dispute of Iron (ca. 600-730.M34) – Its cause hidden to the eyes of the Imperium, a vast civil war erupts on the Daemon World of Medrengard and rapidly spreads to the other domains of the Iron Warriors. Ancient pacts of fealty and alliance are called upon and scores of Chaos Space Marine warbands, Daemons and Traitor Titan Legions are drawn into the maelstrom of relentless battle. This bitter feud is accredited at creating several sub-factions of Iron Warriors still active to the present day, such as the Steel Brethren, while utterly destroying others such as the Shattered Tower. As abruptly as it was begun the war suddenly ended, leading some to believe that the official conflict had been carried out according to the Daemon-Primarch Perturabo's design in order to weed out the weak and the unworthy from his scions.
- The Shattering (764.M34) - Craftworld Lugganath comes under vicious attack from a psychically-shielded fleet of Emperor's Children. The Eldar vessels destroy the first wave of fighters, but the sheer number of Chaos Space Marine dropships forces a breach in the Craftworld's defences. After a bitterly-fought boarding action, a teleport relay is established in the Plaza of Reflection and the Emperor's Children begin to deploy en masse. The Eldar seal off the breach with surgical precision, but they realise their foe's true intent too late. At the heart of the plaza, several hundred Noise Marines combine their Sonic Weapons into a psychic explosion that thrums louder and louder throughout Lugganath's psychoplastic architecture until the air fills with screams. Cracks appear across the Craftworld's sweeping arches, and the thin spires crumble down onto the raging battle below. Seeing the devastation wrought by the terrible weapons of the Chaos Space Marines, the Autarchs of Lugganath authorise the use of Hemlock Wraithfighters. The Emperor's Children eventually retreat before the resultant barrage of necromantic energy, abandoning their dead and pursued every step of the way by vengeful Harlequins and unflinching, tireless Ghost Warriors.
- The Red Dawn of Iriad IV (435.M35) - Iriad IV, a fortified Industrial World on the cusp of the Eye of Terror, is invaded by a tide of World Eaters. Captain Revellion, of the Ebon Knights Chapter, leads his men against his Traitor cousins in a bitterly fought war that sees the corpse count rise spectacularly quickly. The battle tears across the planet until less than a company of warriors remains on either side. Whilst the World Eaters do not care that so many of their number have fallen, Captain Revellion is driven to desperation by the loss of so many of his men and mutters a prayer into the night. Solar hours later, covered head to toe in blood, Revellion stalks out from the shadows with a dripping Chainsword in either hand. His men shout in fierce joy as the last of the World Eaters falls, though their victory soon turns to ashes. Unstoppable, Captain Revellion hacks a swathe through the remaining Ebon Knights. He does not stop there. The rampaging Captain attacks anything that moves, including his own reflection. District after district is depopulated as Revellion's pact with Khorne bears slow but terrible fruit. Iriad IV's remaining population is evacuated and the planet is declared Perditas.
- The Grief of Herodin (973.M35) – A terrible wave of bloodshed and insanity descends from the Nightmare Rifts. Chaos Space Marines, massed cult-hordes and waves of Daemons falling upon the Imperium in an orgy of death later termed not an invasion, but a genocide. Amongst the numberless hosts of the Great Enemy is spotted the Decimator, a towering construct fuelled by the powers of the Warp and bearing the weapons of hybrid xenos manufacture. The war machine is later linked to the heretek Spektraal Cult, thought banished during the Scouring.
- The Green Death (437.M36) - The infected Ork warbands invading the Ecclesiarchy Shrine World of Sanctia evince a terrible new barbarism. They fall upon the planet's defenders and consume them bodily, devouring the living and the dead alike, as if compelled by a daemonic hunger. Bloating and swelling, the Orks become obese monstrosities that can move only at a snail's pace. Puzzled by this strange reprieve, the Adepta Sororitas systematically purge the Orks with Flamer and Bolter. It is then that Mortarion and his Death Guard make planetfall. The skeletally thin Daemon Primarch looms over the bodies of the Orks as he stalks to the front lines. At his passing, each Ork bursts apart in a shower of foul fluids, and dozens of Nurglings spill out from their remains to follow their master. Sanctia falls to the Green Death within twenty solar hours of Mortarion's arrival, and the plague spreads across the Ecclesiarchy-held system at an unstoppable pace.
- The 5th Black Crusade (723.M36) - Abaddon scours the Elysia Sector, ordering the destruction of specific cities, shrines and temples across dozens of its worlds. Each act of violation shatters the Warp-seals that had held psychic mutation stable in that region of space. On Tarinth, the Despoiler lures the Warhawks and Venerators Chapters into the ruins of Kasyr Lutien where he traps them between the daemonic hordes of Khorne and the Black Legion. In a bitter last stand, both Loyalist Chapters are completely destroyed, their skulls taken by the Daemon Prince Doombreed to be mounted upon Khorne's throne.
- The Great Degeneration (836.M36) - After the unremitting violence of the xenocidal Quietus Campaign, the Annihilators Chapter finally succumbs to blood psychosis. Those of the Chapter still able to act rationally gather at their fortress-monastery in the hope of finding absolution. Instead of redeeming their sins, however, their corrupted Chaplains lead them in an ancient ritual, leaving their souls wide open to daemonic influence. Every member of the Chapter is possessed over the course of a single moonlit night, shifting forms and devolving into armoured half-daemon monstrosities. Calling themselves the Beasts of Annihilation, the brethren go to war again, though this time it is the Imperium that feels their wrath.
- The 6th Black Crusade (901.M36) -The Warmaster of Chaos visits his wrath upon Drecarth the Sightless. Abaddon aids the Sons of the Eye in an assault on the Forge World of Arkreath, fighting with them side by side until the planet's Adeptus Mechanicus defenders are finally crushed and its complex durasteel ziggurats battered to shapeless lumps of metal that no longer fulfil their function as sophisticated flux-cages. As the two leaders address their respective forces in the war's aftermath, Abaddon strikes Drecarth down, forcing him to watch the arrayed Sons of the Eye kneel before slaying him in a ritual display of violence.
- The Tournament of Blood (Unknown Date.M37) - Displeased with his Chosen, Abaddon pits them against each other. For eight solar days, the Chosen fight in the gore-spattered holds of the Vengeful Spirit until only one of them remains. Impaling the victor on the Talon of Horus, Abaddon seals a pact with Khorne, gaining a powerful daemonic ally in the form of the Bloodthirster Hakk'an'graah.
- The Abyssal Crusade (321.M37 - 112.M38) - Warp Storm Dionys ripples across the galaxy, its ghastly energies polluting a wide swathe of star systems. In addition to billions of Imperial citizens, no less than thirty Space Marine Chapters are judged by the charismatic Saint Basillius to be tainted. The Ecclesiarchal lord gives a choice to those so judged -- seek redemption in the Eye of Terror or be exterminated. Without exception, the condemned Chapters -- known as the Judged -- choose to embark upon a redemptive Crusade aimed at purging the Daemon Worlds of the Eye of Terror. Within that great Warp rift, some of the Chapters are lost forever or destroyed, and a few turn Renegade in order to survive. The most resolute return to the Imperium nearly 800 standard years later, and discover that their accuser, Saint Basillius himself, is a servant of Chaos. The corrupted Imperial Saint's demise is swift and bloody.
- The Martyred Sons (416.M37) – Inquisitor-Lord Antonius Coil of the Ordo Malleus discovers the current location of the nomadic Hell-Forge of Sarum while conducting an Exterminatus against the warp-tainted Hive Worlds of Goleonda IX, and moves to see it destroyed at last. Along with warships committed from Battlefleet Reductus and several Militarum Tempestus regiments, he mobilized the aid of three Space Marine Chapters, the Brazen Claws, the Sons of the Raven and the Celestial Guard, to strike deep into the perilous Golgotha Wastes against this nightmarish thorn in the Imperium's side. Within sight of the baleful world, the Imperial fleet is ambushed on all sides by the pale warships of the Warp Ghosts and Black Wings Chaos Space Marines and the horrific daemon-engines of their Dark Mechanicum allies of Sarum. In the brutal seventeen hour void battle which follows, the Imperial fleet is encircled and slowly torn to pieces both from without and from within as Daemons rip open passages into realspace deep onboard the stalwart vessels. Only the Chapter fleet of the Brazen Claws breaks free from the trap without crippling losses, while the human contingent of the Imperium's strike forces is annihilated to the last. The ravaged Celestial Guard Chapter will take nearly a century to rebuild from its grievous losses from its stores of gene-seed, swearing bitter vengeance against the Warp Ghosts. The fleet-based Sons of the Raven Chapter, not one of whom escaped the deadly trap, are declared martyred and the great Bell of Lost Souls in the Tower of Heroes on Terra tolls to mourn their passing. Eighteen standard years later, a corrupted Warspite-class Battle-Barge, believed once to have been the Seraphina Carricus of the Sons of the Raven Chapter, is encountered transporting a Warp Ghosts raiding force off Mezoa XV, the withered face of Jo'sun Hernezu the martyred Chapter's last master worn by its revenant captain.
- Molochai's Folly (772.M37) - Lured by promises of power, Sevastos Molochai, the power-hungry Planetary Governor of Urskas Sol Tetra, makes long-range contact with a coven of Word Bearers Chaos Space Marines. Within eight solar weeks, his planet is turned from a thriving Industrial World into a daemon-infested nightmare.
- The 7th Black Crusade of Warmaster Abaddon (811.M37) - During the course of the Ghost War, the Blood Angels join in battle against Abaddon's horde upon the world of Mackan. The Despoiler mercilessly singles out the Sons of Sanguinius, personally leading a band of Khornate Berzerkers in a gore-spattered assault against the Blood Angels' Devastator Marine positions. Though only a handful of the Traitors survive the teeth of the Loyalists' guns, the Blood Angels' Assault Marine troops are unable to reclaim the bodies of their fallen brothers which have been desecrated by the Despoiler's frenzied warband.
- The Prison of Madness (Unknown Date.M37) - Abaddon conducts experiments on captured Loyalist Space Marines, torturing them with repeated visions of a future in which the Imperium falls to Chaos. Despite the psycho-indoctrinated mental resilience of the Adeptus Astartes, such is the ring of truth in these prophecies that those who do not take their own lives are left as soul-blasted husks that eventually swear allegiance to the Despoiler.
- Purging of Azoth (999.M37) – At one time known as a firebrand Puritan by whose hand both guilty and innocent had burned on the pyre, Inquisitor Jhovus Theon himself turns renegade when he falls under the influence of the denizens of the Warp and in league with Dark Apostles of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion and triggers a full scale daemonic incursion on the planet Azoth. Theon’s former peers petition the Adeptus Astartes Revilers Chapter for aid, and while victory is theirs, the subsequent Azoth Drop costs the Chapter dearly. Having slain the fallen Inquisitor and purged the cursed planet, the surviving battle-brothers are subjected to mnemonic purgation so that Inquisitor Theon's sins may be expunged for all time from the annals of the Imperium.
- The 8th Black Crusade (999.M37) - On worlds throughout the Segmentum Obscurus, Abaddon's forces cull precise numbers of Imperial citizens in the name of Tzeentch. The living-metal monoliths beneath the crater-cities of Teekus glow brighter with each ritual slaughter until, at the culmination of the ninth, the structures begin to melt. By the time agents of the Inquisition identify a pattern in the Black Legion's actions, Abaddon has already achieved his aims.
- The Rise of the Impaler (347.M38) – A warband of the World Eaters Traitor Legion descends on the outlying worlds of Paramar, the Storm Lords Chapter mounting a bold defence even in the face of overwhelming odds. The Storm Lords are defeated, a wounded sergeant captured and subjected to brutal cerebral surgery. At length, the sergeant's spirit is broken and he assumes the name and title "Zhufor the Impaler," going on to gain control of the berserker warband known as the Skulltakers. Much later, Zhufor would earn yet another title -- the Butcher of Vraks.
- The Ark of Damnation (Unknown Date.M38) - Flesh Tearers Terminators board the Space Hulk Soul of Damnation as it drifts dangerously close to the core worlds of the Scelus Sub-sector. In the depths of the hulk, they uncover a stasis chamber containing a single casket. Inside is an ancient warrior of the Luna Wolves. When told of his Legion's fate, the ancient Space Marine is filled with rage and takes one of the Flesh Tearers' craft before disappearing into the void.
- The 9th Black Crusade (537.M38) - As part of a wider strategy to disable the naval fortress Cancephalus, Abaddon leads his 9th Black Crusade against the heaving population of nearby Antecanis. The seat of the world's Imperial Commander, Monarchive, is besieged by Abaddon's vanguard. Black Legionaries butcher their way through the lower levels of the hive, whilst the Despoiler himself storms its inner sanctums. By the time Astra Militarum from Cancephalus arrive to reinforce the surviving defenders, Abaddon and his forces have already left the planet's surface. As a gesture of contempt, the Black Legion drop a dozen cyclonic warheads onto the ruins of Monarchive. The seventeen-year war that ensues eventually robs both Antecanis and Cancephalus of their most precious resource -- manpower. Without the fleets of the naval fortress to stop him, Abaddon is able to ravage the sector at will, and his Sorcerers are free to conduct the rituals required to weaken the walls of reality in that region of space with impunity.
- The Anshur Summoning (892.M38) – A rebellion led by devotees of the heretical Charnel Cult engulfs the isolated hive world of Anshur, until elements of the Metamarines Chapter of Space Marines are despatched at the request of the Administratum to reclaim Anshur's industrial output for the Imperium. In a meticulously planned campaign of surgical strikes and scorched earth assaults, the Metamarines decimate the cult’s ranks, and in sheer desperation the cult’s leaders invoke the name of dread An'ggrath, summoning forth the Daemon Lord, who annihilates every living thing on the world of Anshur in a seven year long orgy of violence and death.
- 1st Scouring of Coriolanthe (948.M38) – For three months a warband of the Night Lords Traitor Legion preys upon the gleaming marble cities of Coriolanthe, turning the white-flagged streets crimson with the blood of their victims and decorating the rearing stone towers with looped viscera and severed body parts. At length, the population rises in a maddened frenzy of terror plunging the planet into anarchy. When a Grey Knights Purgation Force, under the mandate of Inquisitor-Lord Baum, arrives to challenge the renegades and restore order, they are confronted not just by the Night Lords, but a force of Traitor Titans. Coriolanthe is reduced to ruins in the ensuing carnage, and the Inquisitor-Lord and all but a handful of Grey Knights are slain.
- The 10th Black Crusade (001.M39) - Abaddon's armies and Perturabo's Iron Warriors invade the Helican Sub-sector. While the Black Legion assault the capital world, Thracian Primaris, the Iron Warriors focus their attack against the Iron Hands Chapter, seeking to settle an old blood debt. The Iron Warriors lay waste to the worlds of the Medusa System and push the Iron Hands to the brink of extinction. Only when the Loyalist Chapter receives heavy reinforcement do Abaddon and the Iron Warriors disengage, taking with them valuable intelligence concerning Medusa's defences.
- The 11th Black Crusade (301.M39) - The Despoiler's fleet becomes lost in the Warp, finally returning to realspace in the path of WAAAGH! Murgor. In the ruins of Relorria, the Black Legion bring the Greenskins to battle. After solar months of fighting, Abaddon orders the Black Legion to leave Relorria to its fate and return to the Eye of Terror -- but not before the Warmaster of Chaos fills the holds of his fleet with captured Ork Weirdboyz. In conjunction with a coven of his most powerful Sorcerers, he uses the volatile psychic energies of the Greenskin abductees in a daemonic hybridisation ritual that weakens the fabric of reality across the Relorrian System.
- The Cruach Mhorn Massacre (304.M39) – After a twelve year campaign to eradicate rebellious factions within the population of the hive world of Cruach Mhorn, the 3rd Company of the Shadow Hawks is censured for the widespread culling of the population that marks the end of the campaign and leaves the world unable to fulfil production quotas owed to the Administratum. Rather than accept the dishonor of exile on a penitent Crusade, Captain Mahaur leads the survivors of 3rd Company in a series of raids on Imperial fleets and outposts in the Cruach system before vanishing into the lightless void of the Halo Stars.
- False Flags (799.M39) – An Imperial Navy deep void way station comes under heavy assault by a Space Marine force later identified by their singular heraldry as belonging to the Celebrants Chapter. Objections are lodged at the highest possible levels of the Imperial hierarchy, the Celebrants Chapter Master dismissing the accusations as false and threatening reprisals if they are not retracted. The discord reaches a climax when the Celebrants withdraw from joint anti-pirate operations in the Arataen Deeps, leading ultimately to the loss of three entire sub-sectors. Subsequent Ordo Hereticus investigations determine that the original attack was carried out by the Night Lords in a typically cunning ploy to sow terror amongst the defenders of the Imperium.
- Relief of Rael's World (814.M39) – With the aid of a cabal of Alpha Legion warleaders, a renegade Dark Angel by the name of Vhalagar conquers the prison planet of Rael's World, installing himself as a pitiless tyrant and subjecting the millions of penal inmates to a bloody regime of inexplicable cruelty. At length, Vhalagar's reign of terror is brought to an abrupt end as a strike force of his former Chapter launches a devastating surgical strike on his strato-keep lair. It is notable that by the time the Dark Angels force their way into the primary penal facility, not a single Alpha Legionary is encountered, leaving Vhalagar to confront his erstwhile brethren alone. Only when he is captured by the Dark Angels and consigned to a transport vessel back to the Chapter fleet is it revealed that his is host to a potent Daemon. Soon after, the vessel is lost to the Warp along with over a dozen brethren of the Dark Angels 1st and 2nd Companies.
M40-M41, Age of Apotheosis
- Double-Edged Swords (198-485.M40) - For more than a dozen generations, agents of the Alpha Legion infiltrate the hive city slums of Ghorstangrad, homeworld of the Emperor's Swords. Through subtle manipulation of the dominant sects and gangs, the Alpha Legion seed potential future Space Marines with all manner of deviant philosophies and subconscious triggers. Though many of these brainwashed youths are rejected by Librarians and Chaplains, some are recruited into the Chapter nonetheless -- a lurking threat unknown even to the recruits themselves. Almost three standard centuries later, the Alpha Legion mounts a full-scale invasion of Ghorstangrad. They are met in open battle by the Emperor's Swords. The Alpha Legion employ hypnotic and disorientating psychic attacks, releasing the nascent personalities of their unknowing infiltrators amongst the defending Battle-Brothers. Within solar hours, the Chapter disintegrates into a morass of battling factions, some of which join forces with the invaders. The Loyalist Emperor's Swords are entirely destroyed, Ghorstangrad is razed and the gene-seed stores of the Chapter are stolen. The Alpha Legion withdraws to the Eastern Fringe, its numbers swollen with new Renegades still covered in the blood of their brethren.
- Garanhir Rebellion (649.M40) – A World Eaters warband, under the command of the notorious murderer Dhalahk, launches a mass incursion against the world of Garanhir, intent upon spilling the blood of the faithful in an unprecedented act of veneration of the Blood God. Expecting to find Garanhir unprepared for attack and ripe for the slaughter, what the Berserkers actually encounter as they charge from the assault ramps of their drop craft is a world already claimed by war, the populace armed and led by the famously militant Inquisitor Malphas Kroh and bolstered by a force of Grey Knights Space Marines. Battle is joined without delay, and while the warriors of Dhalahk make a lethal account of themselves, they are ultimately slain, the entire warband cut down by the defenders.
- Torment of Sherilax (703.M40) – The population of the pilgrim world of Sherilax falls prey to the fell temptations of the Dark God Slaanesh. Nihilistic pleasure cults on the planet take such sadistic delight in slaughtering the planetary governor’s militia in an intense outbreak of violence, they summon the Bringer of Torments, the Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, Zarakynel.
- The Death of the Witching Moon (013.M41) – The Forge Moon of Keziah, in the strategically vital Agathon System, falls into an unnatural eclipse which its population is driven to murder and madness in an endless night of horror. The dread forces of The Tenebrae and Company of Misery reign as dark kings amid the nightmare, and the baleful light of the "Witching Moon" that Keziah has become spreads calamity and warp-tainted phenomena wherever it now falls, threatening the entire star system. The first Imperial attacks by the Astra Militarum, squadrons from Battlefleet Ultima and the Inquisition are hurled back in tatters by the madness of the black light and the warp-fuelled savagery of the defenders. It is only by the unexpected arrival of the Charnel Guard Chapter, accompanied by a sacred band of Adepta Sororitas Order of the Black Sepulchre bearing the holy relic known as the Book of Tears before them, that the imminent loss of tens of billions of lives on Agathon Prime is prevented, and the insanity-inducing radiance of the Witching Moon is held back. The Charnel Guard lead a fresh assault as further Adeptus Astartes, including the Iron Hands, Storm Lords and Angels Porphyr, and Adeptus Mechanicus reinforcements arrive, fighting a brutal battle of tank and gunship clashes across the soaring metal canyons which raze the moon's surface and chamber-by-chamber Zone Mortalis actions to purge Keziah of the shadow that has befallen it. The Chaos Astartes inflict fearful losses on their besiegers before they are driven into the deeper darkness of the Warp. In the wake of their retreat, all life is purged from Keziah before it is given back to the hands of the Machine Cult for tech-exorcism and eventual reclamation.
- The 12th Black Crusade of Warmaster Abaddon (ca. 139-160.M41) - Abaddon leads his great fleet into the Gothic Sector during what becomes known in the Imperium as the Gothic War, capturing two of the prehistoric star forts known as the Blackstone Fortresses. Under Abaddon's control, the might of the Blackstone Fortresses is used to destroy entire worlds. 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 in 999.M41.
- The Iron Labyrinth (Unknown Date.M41) - A Chaos fleet spearheaded by the Black Legion cuts a path into the worlds of the Cadian System. With the aid of the Imperial Fists, the Astra Militarum manage to break the Chaos forces at the Battle of the Iron Labyrinth, driving them back to the Eye of Terror. However, what their enemy's seemingly reckless thrust so far in-system achieved remains a mystery to the Imperial commanders.
- The First War for Armageddon (444.M41) - Imperial forces upon the strategically vital Hive World of Armageddon struggle to contain an armed rebellion that spontaneously breaks out across both the sub-continents of Armageddon Prime and Armageddon Secundus. At the height of the civil war, a Space Hulk enters the system and disgorges a horde from the Daemon Worlds of the Eye of Terror, led by Angron and accompanied by massed warbands of World Eaters. Angron and his daemon armies carve a red path across Armageddon Prime and the conquest of the planet appears inevitable until the Daemon Primarch is delayed drawing Chaotic energy to the planet. During the reprieve, the Imperial forces are reinforced not only by Space Wolves from nearby Fenris, but also by a company of one hundred Grey Knights Terminators. Though it costs the lives of all but a handful of the Grey Knights, Angron and his honour guard of Bloodthirsters are finally driven back into the Warp.
- The Kynbaex Genocides (709.M41) – Adharon's Reavers, a Renegade warband under the former Sons of Guilliman Captain Adharon, instigates a series of bloody uprisings and mutinies across a dozen worlds of the Kynbaex Nebula in an effort to topple the already tenuous and overstretched Imperial presence in the region. Unknown to Adharon, however, the celebrated Rogue Trader Joff Zuckerman and his arch-militant Thor Malkin, later Inquisitor Malkin, are present in the region forging trade routes to outlying systems. Zuckerman responds by ordering an immediate and bloody reprisal, crushing the uprisings with his own fleet and ground forces, led by Thor Malkin, in what became known as the Kynbaex Genocides. Adharon's Reavers are believed to have fled the region rather than face such a massive reprisal and do not appear again in mandated Imperial histories until their involvement in the Siege of Vraks over a century later.
- Magdelon Incursion (712.M41) – The renegade Bleak Brotherhood makes a compact with a daemonic power for aid in coming wars, the price the entity demands being the casting down of the Crystal City of Magdelon. The renegades enact their pact of the fell bargain, and in so doing attract the attention of the Space Wolves. The ensuing battle amidst the shattered ruins of the Crystal City is so pleasing to the denizens of the Warp that a major daemonic incursion is triggered.
- The Constantinus Iconoclasm (746.M41) - The Sons of Guilliman free Nova Terra from a Tyranid attack. Afterwards, Squad Constantinus hunts down remnants of the Hive Fleet, finding Genestealer Cults within the noble families of the capital. The entire ruling class is executed. The outraged population rises up against their Space Marine liberators. His patience gone, Sergeant Constantinus blames the Imperium for making him a monstrous killer and denounces the Emperor. Constantinus swears to lead Nova Terra's populace to a better future, and his conviction is infectious. As his oratory takes hold amongst the anarchy, his agenda of martial discipline is beaten into the fabric of the Nova Terran civilisation. The old order is thrown down and statues of Constantinus the Liberator are raised in their place. Other servants of the Ruinous Powers soon arrive, drawn by the anarchy and bloodshed. The rebel sergeant's megalomania escalates until it plunges the whole sector into war. The rebellion ends only when Constantinus is killed by agents of the Officio Assassinorum.
- The Plague That Walks (757.M41) - The first recorded outbreak of the Zombie Plague occurs on Hydra Minoris after Typhus, and his Death Guard foot soldiers, penetrate to the heart of its capital hive city. As the living begin to fall prey to the painful disease, its true horror is revealed; the dead victims begin to rise up and attack the living. The resultant Imperial quarantine traps 23 billion uninfected citizens alongside a rising tide of the hungry undead.
- Legacy of the Luxor Uprisings (812.M41) – A coalition of Alpha Legion warbands foments an uprising on the Munitorum provender world of Luxor, threatening the supply of war material to war zones across the northern marches of the Ultima Segmentum. The rebellion is put down by the Ultramarines, but the population is so embittered by the Chapter's actions that insurrection and rebellion flares on numerous occasions over the next century. Some strategio-savants even ascribe the fall of the entire Aradme Cluster some eight decades later to chronic under-supply in the aftermath of the 812.M41 uprising.
- The Skull of Kern'gar (Unknown Date.M41) - Abaddon travels to the Maiden World of Ildanira, seeking the Skull of Ker'ngar. Though initially confounded on the planet's surface by Eldar snipers from Craftworld Alaitoc, he orders all cover around his position to be levelled by orbital bombardment. Eldar reinforcements react swiftly to drive the Despoiler back, but not before he secures his prize.
- The Pilgrimage of Dark Lament (Unknown Date.M41) - Struck by a vision of Abaddon, millions of Imperial pilgrims abandon their worship of the God-Emperor and turn their voidships toward the Eye of Terror. After a long and perilous journey in which thousands perish, the pilgrims finally reach worlds held by the Black Legion, where they are immediately enslaved. Even as they fall beneath the lash of their new masters, the pilgrims give thanks to the Warmaster of Chaos.
- The Badab War (901-912.M41) - Lugft Huron, Chapter Master of the Astral Claws, declares himself the Tyrant of Badab and secedes from the Imperium. Eleven standard years of inter-system war follows, embroiling more than a dozen Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes in one of the largest fratricidal conflicts between the Astartes since the Horus Heresy itself. Huron's reign is eventually brought to an end, but despite suffering grievous wounds, he escapes into the Maelstrom with his followers vowing revenge, now calling himself Huron Blackheart.
- The Skull Harvest (913.M41) – An Administratum tithe-fleet arrives at the three worlds of the Hreidmal Cluster, seeking the tally of lives and produce due the Imperium, only to find each world laid waste. The headless corpses of each world's inhabitants lie abandoned, not slain in battle but carefully harvested and their skulls piled in great towering obelisks. Attempts to demolish these foul monuments bring the Slaughterkin warband down upon the Imperial forces, led by Warlord Mahaur the Harvester, and soon the skulls of the Administratum factors and regiments assigned to their protection are offered in sacrifice to Khorne atop the rebuilt obelisks.
- Wars of the Paraxial Succession (917.M41) – When the Adeptus Terra praefect of the Medea Cluster, Lord Sector Parax, is discovered to be harbouring deviant mutation and accused of being in league with the Ruinous Powers, he is executed before a court of his peers without trial. With no successor however, the Adeptus Arbites Lord Marshal takes direct control of the Cluster, his rule so brutal that a dozen uprisings flare up within the year. The entire Cluster erupts into anarchy as the Wars of the Paraxial Succesion draw in Space Marines, both loyal and renegade, from far and wide.
- Steel Unbound (919.M41) – Following their alliance with Lufgt Huron during the Badab War and their subsequent voluntary internment under license to the Salamanders Chapter, the Executioners are released to begin their standard century-long penitent Crusade. In the first decade of the Crusade, a dozen recidivist cults are purged from the Telamon Cloud and three minor xenos strains infesting the Garya Rifts are exterminated. The most glorious of many action fought during the opening years of the Crusade is against a previously unknown pocket empire deep within the galactic core, entirely in the sway of the Ruinous Powers and maintaining pacts with at least three Traitor Legion warbands and one Traitor Titan Legion. The Executioners earn countless honours far from the glaze of the Imperium, the only witnesses the agents dispatched by the High Lords of Terra to track the penitent Chapter's progress through the lawless void.
- The Blood Tide (920.M41) - The T'au Empire expands into uncharted territory, hoping to bring new populations into their fold. The Tau diplomats forge an uneasy peace upon the planet of Ur-Clemait, a world that has been consumed with civil war for many Terran centuries, simply by supplying one side of the warring factions with hi-technology Pulse Weapons. Though most of the remaining population seems content with the Tau's enforced pacification, the elders and priests of the Old Faith are distraught, insisting that the Blood Tithe must continue to be met. While most of the wizened priests try to incite rebellion against the xenos, several attack the Tau directly, clawing feebly at their Battlesuits or even taking their own lives in messy displays of martyrdom. The puzzled Tau continue their mission of absorption and assimilation, but before the standard year is out, the Word Bearers arrive to enforce the neglected Blood Tithe. They attack the newly prosperous world of Ur-Clemait in terrible force, chanting prayers of appeasement to the Dark Gods as they cut down human and xenos alike. The Tau Fire Caste meet the invasion head-on, and the world is plunged into an ongoing war far more terrible than the ritual struggles of old that had once provided payment to keep the Heretic Astartes at bay.
- The Vaxhallian Genocides (926.M41) - The vile Chaos Renegades known as The Purge seek to vent their hatred of all living things, and choose the verdant Imperial world of Vaxhallia as their victim. The planet's surface is soon riddled with consumptive disease and crippling famine. Over the course of a single solar month, The Purge engineer the destruction of no fewer than fourteen billion Imperial citizens.
- The Scourging of Kerrack (932.M41) – The Agri-World of Kerrack has long exported the processed root of the Cholam trees that cover most of its surface to feed the Astra Militarum regiments prosecuting the Katbargo Crusades. When the primitive harvester clans turn their hand-scythes against their Imperial overseers, the world falls to anarchy and war. Warlord Malfaur the Harvester and his Khorne-worshipping Slaughterkin are found to be behind the Charnel Cults that spring up across Kerrack. The ensuing war is fought on foot beneath the dense canopy and air-to-air in the skies above, large numbers of the native defence militia turning traitor and falling to the worship of the dark gods. Deliverance only comes when the 5th Company of the Adeptus Astartes Star Phantoms arrive in-system to resupply, and launch an immediate and devastating attack upon the rebel stronghold of Calder's Ark, slaying the Harvester and driving the Slaughterkin from Kerrack.
- The Wolf at Bay (937.M41) - Mustering five companies of Space Wolves, as well as the Cadian 301st and the Tallarn 14th Regiments of the Astra Militarum, the decorated Inquisitor Pranix attempts to reclaim the nine Hollow Worlds of Lastrati from the traitorous Red Corsairs. The Drop Pods of the Space Wolves crash straight through the Hollow Worlds' algae-crusted surface, and war soon rages throughout the catacombs beneath. The Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart collapses preselected portions of his tunnel networks with cold precision and timing, isolating and destroying much of the Imperial army sent against him. The invading forces are forced to withdraw in disarray.
- The Damnation Cache (959-961.M41) - The Despoiler invades the Pandorax System with an alliance of Traitor Legions. Sweeping aside Imperial resistance, Abaddon breaks into the vaults below the world and opens the Damnation Cache, an ancient portal to the Warp. A combined force of Dark Angels and Grey Knights come to Pandorax's aid in an attempt to stop a daemonic incursion from engulfing the sector, and eventually succeed in closing the portal. Unbeknownst to the Imperium, however, the Despoiler has already left Pandorax, taking with him a rogue psyker of prodigious strength.
- The Terminus Est (969.M41) - The plagueship Terminus Est is sighted in the Cando System. It disappears soon after, but it is already too late. The Zombie Plague ravages all of the planets in the system over the following solar months, exposing the worst in human nature as brother turns against brother in their desperation to survive.
- The Promethean War (980.M41) - The Salamanders fight an urban war against the Black Legion on Heletine. The Order of the Ebon Chalice arrives to reinforce the Space Marines, and together they push forward, but their advance is halted by the Daemon Prince Gralastyx. Saint Celestine appears suddenly, storming through the Chaos hordes and slaying Gralastyx, before vanishing once more.
- The Constantinus Iconoclasm Redux (981.M41) – The Adeptus Astartes Night Reapers are heavily censured after they abandon the Shrine World of Salvation-Gamma to the massed Chaos Space Marine and mutant forces closing in upon it during the Constantinus Iconoclasm, turning the guns of their gathered war fleet on the planet in order to grant the population what they consider a merciful end. The Ecclesiarchy lodges such vociferous objections with the Senatorum Imperialis that the Night Reapers are declared to have committed a gross dereliction of duty and, as punishment, are consigned to duty along the outer fringes of the Laanah Rifts. Within a solar decade, contact with the Chapter is almost entirely lost.
- The Perun Cross Incident (989.M41) – Having been conclusively linked to the destruction of the fleet of the Rogue Trader Baron Stross Yuen, the Night Reapers Chapter is declared Excommunicate Traitoris. The Minotaurs and Red Templars Chapters are despatched to track them down in the depths of the Laanah Rifts and bring them to the Emperor's justice. The harrowing of the Night Reapers drags on for three years, with evidence of the renegades harnessing numerous forms of xenos technology amassing throughout. At length, the Night Reapers are cornered onboard a vast, pre-human void construct known as the Perun Cross as they attempt to mine some unknown but no doubt blasphemously potent weapon from its core. In the final assault, a Grey Knights strike force arrives and boards the Perun Cross, but events take a drastic turn as the construct, the entire Grey Knights force and a large number of Minotaurs squads are consumed together in atomic fire. It is assumed that the Night Reapers Chapter is no more, though Imperial forces stationed along the Laanah Rift remain vigilant for signs that any of the fallen brethren survived the Perun Cross incident.
- Skulls for the Skull Throne (992.M41) - Having long ago amassed more human skulls than he knew what to do with, Roghrax Bloodhand, of the World Eaters, swears to collect a skull from every warrior species in the galaxy and offer them up for the throne of his master, Khorne. Bloodhand's masterwork takes a dramatic new turn with the coming of the Tyranid fleets into the galaxy. Making haste fur the Eastern Fringe, the maniacal trophy-collector leads his fleet directly into the path of Hive Fleet Kraken. Delighted at the prospect of collecting such large and impressive skulls, he reaps a grisly bounty from the Tyranids, which become more varied after every battle.
- The Night of the Steel Daemon (995.M41) - Unbeknownst to the settlers that make their home upon its crust, the dormant volcanic planet of Abheilung is honeycombed with subterranean forge-vaults where the Dark Mechanicum lurk. As protein farms and hab-blocks are established high above, the Warpsmiths below use the livid heat of the planet's core to bind daemons into their allies' strange machines. The surface settlers continue to expand, until one night, all the volcanoes across Abheilung erupt spectacularly, incinerating millions in an immense pyroclastic cloud. Out from the molten depths climb great hosts of Daemon Engines, magma-clad horrors that spill like insects from each volcano's caldera. The mechanical horde depopulates Abheilung in less than a solar month.
- The Tyrant and the Wolf (995.M41) - Huron Blackheart stages a counterassault upon Parenxes, a world defended by the Death Hawks and Space Wolves. During the engagement, a series of Red Corsairs strike forces manage to board, disable and capture the Space Wolf Strike Cruiser, Wolf of Fenris.
- The Fall of Forgefane (997.M41) – The Iron Warriors bastion world of Forgefane is overrun by the uncountable warrior organisms of Hive Fleet Leviathan. The Iron Warriors and their million-strong armies of slave-troops mount a masterful but ultimately doomed defence, the scale of which has not been witnessed for many centuries.
- Ke'lshan Besieged (998.M41) – The Purge warband lays siege to the beleaguered Tau Sept world of Ke'lshan, which is recovering after a series of invasions by both the Imperium and Hive Fleet Gorgon. Their attempt to corrupt the world’s atmosphere, turning it into a corrosive soup that would cleanse the planet of life, are foiled at great cost by Fio'O Sho'Aun, renowned Tau artificer and weaponsmith, whose experimental Remoal throne-fighters duel with airborne Blight Drones for control of the skies of Ke'lshan.
- The Reapers at Bay (999.M41) – A reclamator fleet of the Renegade Night Reapers Chapter, thought destroyed, is cornered by Inquisitor Celaeno of the Ordo Malleus in the bleak expanse of the Caligulan Nebula. With a full company of the Red Hunters Chapter at his command, spearheaded by the ancient Fellblade Tellum Veritatis, Celaeno forces a confrontation on one of the many barren worlds found in the nebula and is met by the warp-tainted armoured vehicles of the Night Reapers. As the Tellum Veritatis duels with the Daemon-touched Typhon Heavy Siege Tank Nidhoggr amid a plain strewn with the broken remains of battle tanks, Celaeno is slammed by an errant shell and the Red Hunters retreat, carving oaths of vengeance into the armoured flanks of Tellum Veritatis.
- The Sons of the Maelstrom (980.999.M41) - A massive Chaos Space Marine fleet emerges from the Maelstrom with three dozen daemon-infested Space Hulks. The massed fleet brings the Chogoris, Kaelas and Sessec Systems to their knees, establishing a stranglehold over their space lanes.
- The Great Awakening (982.999.M41) - A ripple of psychic activity passes through the Imperium awakening the dormant powers of latent psykers across the galaxy. The resultant backlash creates innumerable Warp rifts, and countless worlds are lost to daemonic incursions. The Thousand Sons are seen in unprecedented numbers as the psychic apocalypse runs its course.
- The Night of a Thousand Rebellions (992.999.M41) - Carefully seeded rebellions sown across the Segmentum Pacificus all bear their bloody fruit upon the same solar night. Uprisings and discord strike at the heart of hundreds of worlds, including the supposedly secure Imperial strongholds of Enceladus, Darkhold and Minisotira. Contact is lost with large swathes of the Segmentum as the Chaos Space Marines move in, revealing themselves as the orchestrators of the insurrection.
- The Fall of Vilamus (994.999.M41) - After a series of daring raids leaves the titanic fortress-monastery of the Marines Errant garrisoned only by a single company of Space Marines, Huron Blackheart sends his Night Lords allies to infiltrate the fastness and bring down its Power Shields and Defence Lasers. Teleporting in from low orbit, Chaos Terminators launch a sledgehammer assault upon the fortress' apothecarion as Huron Blackheart simultaneously moves in to steal the Chapter's relics. Caught in the horns of a dilemma, the outnumbered and outmanoeuvred Space Marines fail to repel the invasion. The Red Corsairs withdraw with nearly all of the Chapter's gene-seed, dooming the Marines Errant to a slow demise.
- The Cage is Cracked (999.M41) - Lord Xorphas of the Black Legion invades the planet Amethal alongside the World Eaters of Khârn the Betrayer and the Crimson Slaughter. An alliance of the Blood Angels and the Adeptus Mechanicus repels the invaders, but as the planet is consumed in a rising tide of carnage, the ancient "daemon cage" that forms the planet's interior has its structural integrity breached. The Chaos invaders are driven off, but the damage has been done. Within the solar year, a nearby Warp Storm breaks the daemon cage entirely, plunging the system into Warp-haunted mayhem and adding to the empyric tempest raging across the galaxy.
- The Wrath of Magnus (999.M41) - With the aid of the Tzeentchian trickster known as the Changeling, the Daemon Primarch of the Thousand Sons, Magnus the Red, gathers his Sorcerers and, at the head of several war sects of Rubricae, visits his revenge upon the beleaguered world of Fenris, homeworld of the Space Wolves, during what is known as the Siege of the Fenris System. Soon after, the Thousand Sons Daemon World of Sortiarius, the Planet of the Sorcerers, returns to realspace from the Eye of Terror directly above their lost Legion homeworld of Prospero.
- The 13th Black Crusade of Warmaster Abaddon (995.999.M41) - The armies of Chaos invade Cadia and its many surrounding worlds. The forces of the Dark Gods read like a roll call from epic battles of the ages. Always in the vanguard are the Black Legion, followed by the Death Guard, World Eaters, Alpha Legion, Thousand Sons, Night Lords and other Traitor Legions from the annals of the blackest days. Renegade Space Marine Chapters long thought extinct renew their assaults on the Imperium of Man. Before them run scabrous Chaos Cultists, deranged mutants and traitorous scum in numbers too great to count. Behind them march daemons of all the Ruinous Powers, the nightmares of mortals made real, led by their infernal overlords. After a gruelling campaign with a death toll that spirals into the trillions, Abaddon the Despoiler succeeds in tearing down the strange pylons that for millions of standard years had held the Cadian Gate as a stable region of space. Cadia falls soon thereafter, and a wave of Warp Storms roars into being across the length of the galaxy. Astropaths everywhere fear to open their minds to receive or broadcast messages, for the Immaterium rings with mind-splitting peals, possibly the sound of the myriad tears ripping open in the barrier between the material universe and the Warp, or perhaps the laughter of the Dark Gods...
- Guilliman Awakes (ca. 999.M41) - Strange events, the appearance of the ancient Archmagos Belisarius Cawl and a cryptic alliance with a mysterious Aeldari faction known as the Ynnari conspire to awaken the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman from his millennia-long slumber in a stasis chamber during the Ultramar Campaign of the 13th Black Crusade. The Primarch is immediately embroiled in battle as a Chaos assault by the Black Legion as Abaddon attempts to prevent his return.
- The Great Rift Opens (ca. 999.M41) - Reality tears itself apart from the Hadex Anomaly at the core of the Jericho Reach in the Eastern Fringe, to the furthest star system of the Segmentum Obscurus. From that hole come Warp Storms not seen since the Age of Strife, cutting off the galactic north from Terra. The initial period, known as the Noctis Aeterna -- or the Blackness -- is terrible indeed. For a time, all Warp travel is impossible and the far-spread planets of the Imperium are isolated, with no travel or astropathic communication between them. Worlds in their hundreds fall before the ensuing Chaos onslaught. The pulsing Cicatrix Maledictum spreads like an impenetrable curtain, robbing entire systems of the holy light of Terra. A chain reaction of Warp cataclysms rips across the Imperium, plunging its worlds into disaster and awakening the dormant powers of latent psykers across the galaxy. Countless civilisations are lost to daemonic incursions as the galaxy burns.
- Indomitus (ca. 999.M41 - ca. 111.M42) - In a hundred war zones of the Indomitus Crusade, untested strike forces of Primaris Space Marines are unleashed into battle against the forces of the Ruinous Powers. They acquit themselves well, and by the artifice of Belisarius Cawl and the strategic genius of Guilliman they prove themselves worthy inheritors of the title Adeptus Astartes.
- To Shield the Shrine Worlds (Unknown Date.M42) - The Shrine Worlds of the Imperial Cult are targeted with especial malice by daemons and the Traitor Legions, most prominent amongst them the Word Bearers. In an attempt to break the sieges that hold dozens of Shrine Worlds hostage across Segmentums Solar and Pacificus, the Black Templars launch Crusade after Crusade. In their bloody endeavours they are assisted by the Iron Hands and a score of other Space Marine Chapters, along with all the forces the Adeptus Ministorum can muster.
- Crippling Terror (Unknown Date.M42) - Thousands of Imperial planets lying along the edge of the Great Rift are evacuated as the tapestry of Warp Storms threatens to consume them. On the Forge World Raeddon, the Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-priests gather their most sacred manufacturing relics in preparation of shipping them off-world. But before the frigates are loaded and launched, an armada of Black Legion warships emerges from the Warp, forming an impenetrable blockade around the planet. Before long, hordes of Chaos Space Marine shock troops descend upon the forge world. The bulk of its Skitarii defenders are deployed to guard the basilica logisticum where the Mechanicus have stored their invaluable archeotech. However, the Chaos forces do not even attempt to lay siege to this complex. Instead, they conduct a series of devastating orbital bombardments on the planet's spaceports, obliterating their static Lascannon arrays before sending in waves of ground troops to mop up the remaining Skitarii. With Raeddon stripped of its transport capabilities, the Black Legion armada recedes, leaving the Tech-priests and their precious relics untouched as the Warp Storms envelop them.
- Blacker Pastures (Unknown Date.M42) - The rampant advance of the Hounds of Abaddon through the Bellicose Stars comes to a grinding halt when they are met by the Imperial Fists on Gandor's Providence. The sons of Dorn deploy numerous squads of Primaris Astartes Intercessors, creating a series of heavily defended redoubts across the surface of the Agri-world. Rather than allowing themselves to become bogged down in a prolonged siege, the Hounds of Abaddon withdraw to wreak destruction elsewhere.
- Gods from the Warp (Unknown Date.M42) - After a solar-months-long battle in the Aralest System, the Imperial Navy are all but wiped out by a massive war fleet comprising several Black Legion warbands. The few remaining Imperial forces retreat to Everwatch Stanchion, the heavily fortified orbital docking platform above Aralest VII, to consolidate their strength. Meanwhile, on the planet's surface, Governor Melachron Indis marshals his Planetary Defence Forces and prepares for invasion. As the Black Legion warships approach, dozens of Chaos Cults emerge from amongst the indentured populace of Aralest VII. These deluded fanatics do not see the Chaos Space Marines as invaders, but rather as saviours who have emerged from the Great Rift that burns across the sky day and night. Indis is forced to expend his troops in bloody fights deep inside the hive cities to prevent the planet from falling to the savage cultists before the Black Legion even arrive. These battles do not go in the governor's favour, for with each passing solar hour, more and more members of the citizenry join in the anarchic uprising. Indis and the remaining fragments of his armies barricade themselves inside the spire of Aralest VII's capital hive and pray to the Emperor that the naval garrison on Everwatch will soon be able to send them aid. Their prayers are not answered. The Black Legion, having captured Everwatch Stanchion several solar days earlier, dislodge the platform from its orbit and send it plummeting down to the planet's surface, directly towards the capital hive. The explosion created by the colossal impact leaves only a crater where the hive city once stood, and the ensuing quake is felt across the planet. This display of raw power is the final proof the Chaos Cults need. No one on Aralest VII now doubts that the warriors of the Black Legion are gods.
The Adeptus Astartes were created as the Emperor's ultimate fighting force. Implanted with the gene-seed of the Primarchs, the Space Marines stand seven Terran feet tall, with thickened bones, two hearts, hyper-dense muscles and all manner of special organs that allow them to survive and fight in the most hostile conditions. They feel little pain and heal wounds at a remarkable rate.
Their will is hardened by constant training and fighting, and they battle with dedication and zeal, brooking no hesitation, mercy or cowardice. All of these things combine with the best weaponry and armour in the galaxy to make the Space Marines the most fearsome warriors of the Imperium.
The Chaos Space Marines have all of these strengths and skills as well, to which are added the power of Chaos and a brutal devotion to the Dark Gods. Ever since the Horus Heresy, Space Marines of every Legion and Chapter have been tempted by the path of Chaos, whether for selfish reasons or great ideals.
Sundered from the Imperium, having turned their backs on the Emperor, these warriors know that there can be no peace for them, neither forgiveness nor absolution. They are wholly committed to the path they now tread, for good or ill, and they can expect no quarter from former Battle-Brothers.
The armament of the current Chaos Space Marines differs little from that of their Loyalist counterparts, for the weapons of the Adeptus Astartes are built to last. Boltguns, in various marks dating back ten thousand standard years, are their primary weapon, though squads that glorify close assaults and personal combat often favour Bolt Pistols and ritual knives, Chainswords or Chainaxes. There is little uniformity between squads; much of the organisation and structure of the force's former Legion or Chapter falls by the wayside as they turn to the path of Chaos.
In place of appointed Sergeants, the Chaos Space Marines follow the strongest, boldest and most merciless of their brothers. These blood-soaked soldiers seek to become the favoured of the gods and eventually become mighty Chaos Champions themselves and so are known as Aspiring Champions.
Their wargear varies dramatically and may include weapons taken as trophies from slain foes as well as arcane equipment carefully maintained since the Horus Heresy. It is the Aspiring Champions of these units that strive the hardest to gain recognition amongst the ranks of the Chaos Space Marines, spilling the blood of mighty foes in single combat in order to draw the gaze of the gods. A composition of a squad of standard Heretic Astartes is as follows:
- 4-19 Chaos Space Marines
- 1 Aspiring Champion
Whether he be a Traitor from the prehistory of the Imperium or a Renegade turncoat from a more recent conflict, a Chaos Space Marine will find himself slowly reshaped by the eldritch powers he worships into a form that better echoes the darkness in his soul. The energies of the Warp will cause an Astartes warrior's flesh and blood to meld with his armour over time until they become one and the same, just as it conjoins his consciousness with the once-pure Machine Spirits of his wargear.
As the years pass, a Heretic Astartes grown obsessed with death may find his helm transforming into a flayed skull that is fused to his own features, whilst one who seeks to glut himself on flesh finds his intestines mingling with the recycler cables of his Power Armour until he is a living engine of consumption.
Often, these perverted anatomies echo the shapes and hues of the daemon servants of the Ruinous Powers, marking the Chaos Space Marine as the property of his divine patron, body and soul. A Heretic Astartes commonly wields, but is not limited to, the following wargear:
- Power Armour (Any pattern)
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Chainsword (Optional replacement for Boltgun or for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol)
- Autocannon (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Heavy Bolter (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Lascannon (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Missile Launcher (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Flamer (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Meltagun (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Plasma Gun (Optional replacement for one Traitor Marine's Boltgun or for 2 Traitor Marines if unit numbers more than 10 Heretic Astartes)
- Chainaxe (Optional replacement for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol)
- Lightning Claw (Optional replacement for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol)
- Plasma Pistol (Optional replacement for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol, or for one Traitor Marine's Bolt Pistol)
- Power Fist (Optional replacement for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol)
- Power Maul (Optional replacement for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol)
- Power Sword (Optional replacement for Aspiring Champion's Boltgun or Bolt Pistol)
Chaos and Loyalist Space Marine Differences
"Rejoice brothers! Your slavery to the False Emperor ends today!"
All men of power can choose to devote their lives to the pursuit of great good or great harm to others, and the Space Marines are no different from other mortals in this respect. Genetically engineered as an adolescent to be a transhuman warrior, and armed and armoured with the Imperium's most advanced technology, a Space Marine is intended to serve as the ultimate defender of Mankind.
Not only is his body protected against the weapons of his foes, but his mind has been toughened through the use of potent psycho-conditioning and indoctrination methods to expunge all fear, pain and temptation. To become an Astartes is to surrender one's own life and aspirations to the service of the Emperor and Mankind, and to wholly dedicate oneself to this singular purpose forever more.
Those who live secure behind the shield of valour created by the Space Marines can never truly understand the enormity of the sacrifice that the Astartes have made for their fellow men and women -- for they have sacrificed their own humanity in the service of those they have sworn to protect.
When an Astartes falls from grace, he will fall further than other mortals. A lifetime dedicated to self-deprivation and selflessness is simply thrown aside and the Space Marine indulges his newfound independence in thought and deed to its fullest extent. Freed from the constraints of the discipline, traditions and responsibilities that define the Adeptus Astartes, a Chaos Space Marine can exercise his every whim, whether it be for bloodshed, mayhem, sensual pleasures long denied, ambition, love or simple vengeance.
Given full reign to his long-suppressed personal desires, his incredible physical powers and mental strength can be turned to the pursuit of the most malevolent acts, untrammeled by any sense of either mercy or guilt. When an Astartes' will finally breaks, the result is catastrophic as the whole edifice of his purpose and psyche tumble into an often violent maelstrom of unleashed and pent-up desire.
Having been created for combat, most Chaos Space Marines first turn to the only thing they have ever known -- the pursuit of war. Though their ideals and goals may have been cast aside, their superhuman bodies and tactical and strategic skills remain intact.
Released from the confines of the need to follow orders and pursue missions prescribed by others, a Chaos Space Marine can become a cold and psychopathic killer without morals or restraint. He pursues this bloody life to its fullest extent, glorifying in the power of his genetically enhanced body and the ability it renders him to unleash death and misery upon those he once served.
Some Chaos Space Marines never grow past this point and remain bloodthirsty Renegades, corsairs and pirates for the rest of their long lives. Others, now free to explore the temptations of the galaxy all around them, reach out in all direction to widen their mental horizons and experiences. Once a subservient cog within their Legion or Chapter's machinery dedicated to the service of a distant Emperor, a Heretic Astartes may come to relish the chance to be a master rather than a servant, enslaving nations and whole worlds into the service of himself and the Ruinous Powers.
Others prefer to pursue different avenues, such as the study of once-illicit texts or a passion for technical or sorcerous knowledge forbidden to the servants of the Imperium. Some Chaos Space Marines prefer to inflict pleasure and pain upon themselves, pushing their bodies and minds to the limits of what they can withstand and beyond, desperate for a sensual reward that mortals, even Astartes, were never intended to experience.
To be a Chaos Space Marine is ultimately to feel a near god-like power over other beings, particularly one's fellow humans. Having been freed for solar decades, if not centuries, from the experience of fear and now released from responsibility, a Chaos Space Marine does not dread either retribution or punishment for his deeds.
For most Chaos Space Marines, all memories of their heroic pasts are soon lost amidst the rivers of blood and the ecstacies of new sensation, and any thoughts of the future are but half-imagined cravings for more...more power, more killing, more pleasure, more pain.
By dedicating himself body and soul to the Dark Gods, an Astartes not only finds a patron who approves and encourages his new life, but who will actually reward him the further down that path he walks. For one whose sole existence was once defined by the necessity of self-denial and utter obedience, the euphoria of this realisation of true freedom can be an even more potent intoxicant than the pride he once felt at being accepted as one of the Emperor's Space Marines.
It is this temptation that constantly beckons to all Loyalist Space Marines. They cannot claim to be ignorant of its existence, as the teachings of their Chapter and its Chaplains remind them daily of both their purpose and their duties. No Space Marine casually walks away from these once-welcome bonds, no matter what might occur in his life.
For an Astartes to turn to the service of Chaos he must consciously make the choice to walk a radically different path, to choose profane freedom over righteous service. Once made, it is a decision that can never be recanted, for from the moment that a Space Marine renounces his service to the Emperor, he is truly lost and irrevocably damned.
The Chaos Space Marines have the same genetic origins as the Space Marines in the gene-seed created by the Emperor from the genomes of the 20 Primarchs, and thus have the same physical abilities as their uncorrupted counterparts. Due to their allegiance to Chaos, Veteran Chaos Space Marines often suffer from extreme mutations (or Chaos "gifts" depending on the point of view). Traitor Marines are virtually immortal due to their sojourns within the Warp, and their Terran millennia of experience afford them levels of tactical mastery and advanced battlefield skills that the much younger Loyalist Space Marines have not yet earned.
Many Chaos Space Marines are still equipped with the ancient patterns of Power Armour and weapons they had when they initially betrayed the Imperium at the start of the Horus Heresy, which are broadly the same as those used by the current Loyalist Space Marines (although some differences now exist with regard to Jump Packs, Power Armour appearance, etc). At present in the late 41st Millennium, some 10,000 standard years after the Horus Heresy, the Imperium of Man has made a few, mostly minuscule technological advancements, due to the recovery of certain Standard Template Construct (STC) technologies from the interstellar human civilisation that existed during the Dark Age of Technology.
In most ways the Imperium has either completely stagnated or even regressed from the technological level prevalent across the human-settled galaxy during the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium, though the recent efforts of Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl following the introduction of the Primaris Space Marines have seen fit to try and reverse this fear of innovation. Whether this proves to be too little, too late, remains to be seen.
Chaos Space Marines have far more limited access to the handful of new inventions that have appeared on the galactic scene in the last 10,000 years. In general, anything developed since the Heresy is unavailable to the Traitor Marines unless it has been captured or was already deployed among Space Marines who went Renegade in more recent centuries; for example, the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion is well-known for capturing and using more modern patterns of Imperial tanks and armoured vehicles.
While Chaos Space Marines may possess older technology than their Loyalist counterparts, they compensate for this weakness through the ability to summon daemons from the Immaterium and make use of daemonic technology like Daemon Engines, as well as the unbridled power of arcane psychic sorcery drawn from the Warp without fears of limitation or corruption.
Because the Chaos Space Marines have all dedicated their souls to Chaos, they are extremely fearful of death, knowing that their souls will ultimately be consumed by the Ruinous Powers, unless they can earn the rare promotion to become Daemon Princes in their own right. The Chaos Gods do not truly care for their Chaos Space Marine servants, any more than they do for any mortals who serve them.
The Dark Gods would gladly see their mortal servants'souls tortured for all eternity within their realms in the Immaterium simply for their own pleasure. Worshipers of Khorne are cursed to feel eternal rage but denied the ability to slaughter, the children of Nurgle are forever consumed by despair and the wracking pains of a hideous death, those who serve Slaanesh as their patron will be tortured for the sheer pleasure of the Prince of Chaos until the end of time, and the servants of Tzeentch know only endless insanity as their souls constantly change in form and the knowledge of the universe they crave is forever placed just out of their reach. In theory, those souls who choose to serve Chaos Undivided rather than any individual Chaos God are either shared or fought over by the Chaos Gods in the afterlife of the Immaterium.
Only the promise of eternal life as a Daemon Prince, a dubious honour earned through unbridled success in the service of Chaos, reassures those mortals who pledge their lives and souls to the Ruinous Powers. This fear of death, however, does nothing to slow or halt the vicious might of the Chaos Space Marines, who are quite sure that the power they have received from the Chaos Gods in return for their souls will ultimately provide them with rule over their fellows, as they believe is the right of every Astartes. It will also provide the opportunity to earn the necessary glories required to appease the Dark Gods and claim the daemonic immortality they offer as ultimate reward.
Champions of Chaos
In the Immaterium, similar thoughts and emotions of the sentient beings of the galaxy join together like rivulets of water running down a cliffside. They form streams and flows of anguish and desire, pools of hatred and oceans of pride. For billions of standard years these tides and waves of psychic energy have flowed unceasingly through the Warp and such is their power that they eventually formed creatures hewed from the energy of the Empyrean.
These instinctual, formless entities eventually gained rudimentary consciousness and the Chaos Gods were born -- great psychic presences composed of the best dreams and worst nightmares of the galaxy's mortals. As the sentient races of the galaxy prospered and grew, their hopes and dreams, their rage and conflicts and their loves and hatreds, all fed the growth of the Chaos Gods and nurtured their power. Eventually, the gods reached into the dreams of mortals to demand both their praise and their service.
A Chaos God can only increase its power through the collective actions and thoughts of the galaxy's mortals, regardless of their species of origin. Those who worship a Chaos God and behave in a way that feeds its psychic nature are rewarded with strange gifts, mutations, extraordinary psychic powers and potentially the greatest reward -- ascension as an immortal Daemon Prince.
As the Chaos Gods battle one another within the Warp and the Realm of Chaos, so too, do their followers wage war upon one another in the material universe. The victors of these battles earn more power for their masters, although the machinations and natures of the Chaos Gods are such that often a victory is unnecessary, merely the acts of sacrifice and battle in and of themselves.
When the devotees of Chaos die, their psychic energy, their souls in the Warp, do not fade away to an unknown destination, are not destroyed and are not devoured by daemons like the souls of others. Instead their souls are swallowed by the collective power of the gods, sustaining them and increasing the eternal power of Chaos.
Although untold billions of sentients worship the Chaos Gods under a myriad of different guises, names and aspects, for the majority of those who serve Chaos, the Dark Gods offer simply the chance for more power and wealth in a universe where such things are rarely easily attained. But there are those few men and women who dedicate their lives to becoming true warriors of the Chaos Gods. For these devotees, the allure of Chaos is even stronger. The Champions of Chaos have a deep, fervent belief in the Ruinous Powers and their commitment is total: they swear themselves body and soul, in this life and beyond, to Chaos.
Those who dedicate themselves to the service of Chaos are doomed to an all-or-nothing existence as Chaos Champions in the service of one of the Dark Gods, or even of Chaos Undivided. The reward for those who please their god is ultimate power; for those who fail, it is only eternal oblivion.
To achieve greatness in the eyes of their god, Chaos Champions will perform any act, no matter how immoral, insane or vile. A Champion of Chaos does not simply praise and venerate the Chaos Gods, he swears his life and soul to their service, bargaining away his own essence in exchange for power and the rewards of their patronage.
Granted the forbidden knowledge and strength of Chaos, a Champion can lead armies, conquer whole worlds and achieve greatness and ultimately, immortality. At the same time, the gods who choose to favour this Champion can bring their influence to bear upon him, so that even as he furthers his own ambitions, he also furthers the dominance and plots of his patrons.
Chaos Champions are the leaders of the forces of Chaos and the majority of them are Chaos Space Marines, though some have far more mundane origins. It is a great irony that the same abilities that make Space Marines the greatest defenders of the Imperium are also extraordinary assets for those who would become the most potent warriors of the Chaos Gods.
The genetic alterations that create a Space Marine also make Astartes more resistant to the mutational affects of exposure to the energies of the Warp, which allows a Chaos Space Marine to better survive the attentions of his often-capricious new patrons. Just as their bodies benefit from the changes wrought upon them by the ancient technologies pioneered by the Emperor, so too are the minds of Space Marines honed to an incredible focus and possessed of a potent force of will.
These are qualities that stand a man in great stead if he wishes to become a Chaos Champion. Those who lack a certain clarity of thought, the mental steel required to be successful, will soon be engulfed and lost in the constant anarchy of service to Chaos or will be swiftly overthrown and slain by more ambitious and ruthless subordinates and comrades. Chaos cares little for loyalty -- power is given to those strong enough to claim its rewards.
Chaos Space Marine Warbands
Save for a few Champions dedicated to the most pure service of Khorne, Chaos Champions do not live and fight alone. Other followers of Chaos are drawn to them, either through the will of the gods or through the draw of a Champion's own glory and reputation.
These groups form the warbands of Chaos and they can vary in size from a handful of individuals to massive hosts that rival an Astra Militarum regiment in size and power. The most successful Chaos Champions command vast armies of devoted warriors.
For Chaos Space Marines these warbands are mostly composed of comrades they fought alongside in their Traitor Legions or their Renegade Chapter. Yet it is not uncommon for Renegades with very different histories to find a common cause in their service to the Ruinous Powers, as Chaos recognises neither hierarchy nor structure, only results.
These warbands compete with each other as much as they fight against xenos and the forces of the Imperium. Resources are precious and hard-won in the Eye of Terror and the Maelstrom and control of cities, continents and worlds is vital to the maintenance of power. Most valued over all other things is the favour of the Chaos Gods. Champions and their warbands must constantly prove their continued dedication to their patrons. The Chaos Gods are embodiments of the question "What have you done for me lately?"
Champions earn rewards from their gods by destroying their patron's enemies and succeeding on obscure missions and quests. On the Daemon Worlds in the Eye of Terror, hundreds of warbands struggle in battle to best each other for possession of daemonic artefacts, ancient knowledge, weapons and war machines left over from the days of the Horus Heresy and from before the Fall of the Aeldari.
They are pitched into eternal conflict as sacrifices to their gods and to earn the power to summon daemons to their cause. When not battling one another, the warbands of Chaos Space Marines are a roving threat, for they are wandering bands of nomadic warriors intent only on slaughter and loot.
From bases hidden in asteroid fields, upon the surfaces of deserted moons, and aboard painstakingly maintained starships that date back to the Great Crusade, they watch and wait for their prey to appear, gathering strength wherever a new blow can be struck against the despised Imperium of Man and its hated Corpse Emperor.
In the end, every Chaos Champion faces one of three fates. A life of constant warfare is a dangerous one and most will die upon the field of battle, forgotten by their god as just another failure but immortalised in legend by their remaining followers and comrades. These Champions are nothing more than blood-soaked sacrifices to Chaos, their goals and ambitions forever unfulfilled.
A Chaos Champion who survives the constant battles will slowly gain more and more favour from his chosen god. These rewards come in different forms. Some Champions may be "sent" more followers. Those with a taste for such things might learn potent spells of psychic sorcery, while all Champions will eventually exhibit strange, inhuman powers. Most of the "gifts" offered by the Chaos Gods take the form of physical and genetic changes -- mutations. Some mutations are beneficial, some harmless -- others downright debilitating.
Though such changes can make a Chaos Champion a fearsome warrior, he risks receiving so many such "gifts" and becoming so mutated that he loses all control of himself and degenerates into the hideous creature known as a Chaos Spawn. Even the superhuman, genetically-engineered body of an Astartes can only withstand so much genetic corruption and contain only so much unnatural power.
When this limit is finally breached, the Space Marine or other Champion will be lost forever, transformed into a gibbering and mindless Chaos Spawn. Driven insane, Chaos Spawn are nothing more than mindless, howling monsters of tortured, mutated flesh. Most die quickly and painfully, their bodies ripped apart by cascading and uncontrollable mutations as the power of Chaos is made wholly manifest within them.
Of those who do not die instantly upon surpassing the limit of the Chaos power that their bodies can withstand, some are abandoned by their warbands to wander the Daemon Worlds until they are slain, while others are kept as pets and war beasts by those who were once their followers.
But the third fate of a Chaos Champion is the reward to which all devotees of Chaos dedicate themselves: ascension to daemonhood. The Champion's ultimate reward is ascension to become a Daemon Prince of his patron god. His flesh is transformed into the immaterial substance of the Warp and his mortal life is entirely cast aside.
A follower of Chaos who ascends to become a Daemon Prince is an immortal and all-powerful warrior who will serve his god for all eternity and never know death or fear again. Some Daemon Princes leave their mortal followers behind and join the nightmare hosts of the daemons of Chaos to plague worlds across the gulfs of space and time as embodiments of the power of their gods. Others choose to remain the leaders of their warband, now granted an eternity to bask in the adoration of their minions and, perhaps, earn even greater, unimaginable power from the Dark Gods they serve so well.
The Fickle Aegis of the Warp
Much like the daemonic entities made from the essences of the Ruinous Powers, those wholly claimed by Chaos have a kind of esoteric protection that can protect them from physical blows. A Chaos Space Marine who has sworn his soul to one of the Dark Gods may find an incoming bolt transmuted into scarlet liquid at the last moment, or see a volley of incoming bullets hit home as a shower of writhing grubs.
A Lascannon beam -- potent enough to punch through the hull of a tank -- might simply pass through a Warp-claimed Champion as if he was no more substantial than a phantasm. Similarly a plasma bolt might be caught in an outstretched gauntlet, twisted into a ball of fire, and then consumed by the target without harm.
Truly it is said that the favoured of the Ruinous Powers are part daemon, for they are supernatural terrors to a man. However, it is just as likely that the empyric forces which protect them from the vagaries of fate will do precisely nothing at a critical moment, especially if the recipient has come to take them for granted. In such contradictions do the Chaos Gods find humour and justice alike.
The Traitor Legions and Renegade Space Marine Chapters
Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions
Each of the 9 Astartes Traitor Legions fights using a different style of warfare that is defined by their Legion's culture and nature; also, 4 of the 9 -- the Emperor's Children, the World Eaters, the Thousand Sons and the Death Guard -- are dedicated specifically to the service of one of the four major Chaos Gods, Slaanesh, Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle, respectively. The other five Traitor Legions essentially serve the interests of all of the Ruinous Powers collectively in the form of Chaos Undivided.
The 9 Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions who joined the rebellion of the Warmaster Horus against the Emperor, fully one half of the Space Marine Legions created during the First Founding are (in order of their Founding):
|Legion Number||Primarch||Legion||Loyalty||Primarch Status|
|III||Fulgrim||Emperor's Children||Traitor (Slaanesh)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|IV||Perturabo||Iron Warriors||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|VIII||Konrad Curze (Night Haunter)||Night Lords||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Dead|
|XII||Angron||World Eaters||Traitor (Khorne)||Alive (Daemon Prince) Currently banished to the Warp|
|XIV||Mortarion||Death Guard||Traitor (Nurgle)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|XV||Magnus the Red||Thousand Sons||Traitor (Tzeentch)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|XVI||Horus||Black Legion||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Dead|
|XVII||Lorgar||Word Bearers||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|XX||Alpharius Omegon||Alpha Legion||Traitor (Chaos Undivided), possibly still Loyalist||Unknown|
The Emperor's Children
The Emperor's Children were one of the earliest of the Space Marine Legions to declare itself for Horus and his Traitors, fighting at his side against its own Loyalists during the Istvaan III Atrocity and against the Loyalist Legions during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
The IIIrd Legion and its Primarch Fulgrim had been corrupted following its encounter with the Slaanesh-worshipping xenos race known as the Laer and their world of Laeran late in the Great Crusade. The rot spread quickly through the Legion, and the Emperor's Children embraced Chaos, particularly the Prince of Pleasure, in all its depravity.
Little trace can now be seen of the original armour and equipment of the Emperor's Children, covered as it is by skins of iridescent fur or scales, jewels, or the fantastical renderings of screaming faces or rutting beasts. The Emperor's Children fight for sensation and sensory overload, bringing a clashing cacophony of sound, colour, and energy to the battlefield.
The Iron Warriors
The Iron Warriors once formed the Emperor's legion of siege troops. They fought on a hundred worlds in the Great Crusade, laying siege to alien citadels and the palaces of Renegades with equal gusto. The Iron Warrior's Primarch, Perturabo, excelled in the arts of siege and trench warfare above all else, and his treatise on fortifications and their reduction formed the basis of several sections of the Tactica Imperialis.
The Iron Warriors betrayed the Emperor on Istvaan V, their mazes of bunkers and razor wire becoming a death trap for their Loyalist brethren instead of the sanctuary they promised to be. The Iron Warriors wear relatively unadorned armour that is commonly pieced together from the older marks for its heavier frontal protection.
They favour heavy weaponry like Lascannons or Missile Launchers for long-range engagements, although well-equipped Iron Warriors Assault Squads are also rightly feared. The Iron Warriors also possess the highest number of Obliterators amongst the Traitor Legions.
The Night Lords
Led by their saturnine Primarch, Konrad Curze (also known as the "Night Haunter") the Night Lords were greatly feared even before the Heresy. Curze believed in the use of terror as a weapon and his foes quickly learned to fear the night.
The Night Lords were one of the first Legions to join Horus' rebellion, turning on what they saw as a weak-willed Emperor incapable of the strength required to lead and govern the galaxy effectively. Even after the Warmaster's defeat, the Night Lords have continued to wage an unremitting campaign of terror against the Imperium.
The Night Lords refuse to follow any of the Chaos Gods, and have become cynical, hard-bitten, and frighteningly ruthless warriors. They fight for the pleasure of it, and for the material rewards it can bring, and not for the worship of some deity. They look down upon their more dedicated brethren, whether they are fanatical Chaos Space Marines like the World Eaters, or zealous Loyalist Space Marines like the Dark Angels.
The World Eaters
Under the Primarch Angron, the World Eaters underwent psycho-surgery that transformed an already fierce legion into bloodthirsty berserkers through the use of cortical implants known as the Butcher's Nails pioneered on their Primarch's homeworld of Nuceria.
When they betrayed the Imperium, it was of little surprise that the vast majority dedicated themselves to Khorne. The XIIth Legion fractured after the Heresy, scattering into many small warbands across the galaxy that frequently serve as mercenaries to other Chaos commanders.
As is fitting to their patron god, the World Eaters wear armour as red as arterial blood, edged with brass and decorated with skulls and symbols of Khorne. Most disdain long-ranged warfare, preferring to close with the enemy to kill them with Chainaxe, Power Sword, and (if need be) Bolt Pistols.
The Death Guard
The Death Guard's sense of loyalty to the Warmaster and their Primarch Mortarion triumphed over their duty to the Emperor on distant Terra, and so, they unknowingly followed both into damnation. The rebel Death Guard Legion was marooned in the Warp during the long journey to Terra to join the attack on the Imperial Palace.
A mysterious, unstoppable contagion spread through the trapped fleet, putrefying all it touched. Mortarion himself became infected and in his delirium he called upon the Powers of Chaos to aid his Space Marines. Mortarion's fevered ravings were answered by Nurgle, and Mortarion became Nurgle's foremost Daemon Prince.
The Death Guard survived but they continue to bear the marks of Nurgle's first blessings upon them. Their once-white armour became stained and cracked where the bubbling foulness of their mortal bodies had erupted to the surface. They bear the three-lobed mark of Nurgle rendered as flies or rotting heads upon banners and shoulder guards.
Their Bolters and Chainswords are caked with filth and rust but are no less deadly. The Death Guard favour the use of heavy infantry, particularly Plague Marines, and are notorious for their brutality. Plague and contagion have become the Death Guard's primary weapons and they can be found anywhere in the galaxy spreading Nurgle's foul blessings.
The Thousand Sons
The path to damnation for the Thousand Sons Legion of Space Marines was longer than most, but its final plunge more complete than any. Even before the Horus Heresy the Thousand Sons' cyclopean Primarch Magnus the Red led his sons in the study of arcane lore and the practice of sorcery despite the Emperor's disapproval and the outright ban on such practices at the Council of Nikaea.
When Horus gathered his forces the Thousand Sons tried to use their occult powers to warn the Emperor of the Warmaster's betrayal. The Emperor did not trust Magnus' warnings, disbelieving that Horus would betray Him, and seeing that Magnus had disobeyed him by using sorcery, He ordered the Thousand Sons' Primarch to be taken captive and brought in chains to Terra to answer for his disobedience.
Leman Russ and the Space Wolves Legion were sent to escort the Thousand Sons' Primarch to Terra, but their mission was altered by Horus' scheming, which saw the destruction of the Thousand Sons' homeworld of Prospero. To survive and protect their accumulated wisdom, the Thousand Sons sought the patronage of the god Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways, greatest master of magic among the Chaos Gods.
During the terrible battle known as the Burning of Prospero, Tzeentch transported Magnus and his surviving sons to the Daemon World in the Eye of Terror called the Planet of the Sorcerers. The surviving Thousand Sons have since been split by internal schisms, their pursuit of occult knowledge estranging them from each other and even their cyclopean Daemon Primarch.
A cabal of renegade Sorcerers led by their once-Chief Librarian Ahriman unleashed a great sorcerous spell, known as the Rubric of Ahriman upon the Legion in order to prevent further mutation and corruption of its members by Chaos. This mighty spell reduced most of the Thousand Sons to soulless suits of animated armour known as Rubric Marines, but left the surviving Sorcerers unmatched in power.
The Black Legion
In the First Founding the XVIth Legion was created as the Luna Wolves. The Emperor subsequently allowed His favoured son Horus to rename the Legion "the Sons of Horus" in recognition of his accomplishments in the Ullanor Crusade and in honour of its Primarch, who had been made the first among the Primarchs by his promotion to the rank of Warmaster.
The Sons of Horus willingly followed their beloved Primarch and Warmaster into rebellion, fighting at the very forefront of his most important campaigns. The Sons of Horus stood out as the elite of the Chaos armies, with a very aggressive and efficient method of war -- the fielding of elite and specialised units to destroy enemy command and isolate divisions from one another -- methods upheld by the Legion still in the age of the Dark Imperium. During the Heresy massive recruitment of new Astartes from Cthonia occurred, giving the Legion numerical superiority to most other Space Marine Legions as well.
When Horus was slain by the Emperor at the Battle of Terra, the Legion's morale and pride was shattered. After their defeat, the Black Legion and their fellow Traitor Legions were driven into the hellish realm of the Eye of Terror by the vengeful Imperial forces. Soon, the Sons of Horus lost their primacy as the preeminent Legion, as the Legion Wars ensued. This conflict marked the final collapse of unity between the Chaos-corrupted Space Marine Legions that had fought together under the banner of Horus Lupercal during the Horus Heresy.
In their despair the Sons of Horus gave themselves to the worship of one Chaos Power after another, and lost many of their number through possession and madness. The Legion as a whole broke up after the events on Maeleum and now is largely fleet-based, with several bastions within the Eye.
The Black Legion as it is known at present was formed shortly afterwards under the strong leadership of Abaddon the Despoiler, the former First Captain of the Sons of Horus originally known as Ezekyle Abaddon, who claimed Horus' mantle as the Warmaster of Chaos. Now all the leaders of the Black Legion warbands will, in varying degrees, answer to the Despoiler.
As the Black Legion, the former Sons of Horus repainted their Legion colours to black in memory and permanent mourning of their fallen Primarch. The Black Legion is also known to recruit members from other Legions, bully them into alliances, demand tithes, and absorb renegades from newly formed Chaos warbands.
In this way, the Black Legion has become the largest ilk of Chaos Space Marines, and has reclaimed is status of primacy among them. Daemonkin, Chaos Terminators, and Chosen have a strong presence in the Legion, corroborating their elite disposition. Its hardened survivors lead warbands against the Imperium to this day, eager to expunge the bitter memory of Horus' defeat.
The Word Bearers
Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers Legion, was a scrupulous and dedicated follower of the Imperial Cult, and in many ways was the founder of the religion of Emperor-worship called the Lectitio Divinitatus that would one day become the Adeptus Ministorum.
He led his XVIIth Legion in the building of vast monuments and immense rituals during the Great Crusade to secure the faith of those that were conquered in the God-Emperor. The Emperor rejected Lorgar's efforts however, telling him that He needed His Space Marines to fight, not worship, and to serve the secular ideology of the Imperial Truth which disdained all religion and superstition.
Lorgar's disillusionment with the Emperor's impiety drove him to worship of the Chaos Powers during the Pilgrimage of Lorgar undertaken some 43 standard years before the start of the Horus Heresy, entities that truly demanded worship and sacrifice from their followers.
When Horus raised his banner the Word Bearers, who had largely driven Horus into corruption by Chaos from behind the scenes through his schemes over the decades, eagerly followed him into rebellion along with a thousand hidden Chaos Cults they had established on the worlds they had brought into Imperial Compliance in the last days of the Great Crusade.
The Word Bearers' fanatical zealotry has become dedicated to the worship of Chaos in its purest form, unadulterated by the veneration of any particular Chaos God over the others. In battle the Word Bearers are known to summon daemons en masse, using them as a horde of deadly effective infantry troops while their Chaos Space Marines execute specific objectives.
They are the only Traitor Legion that still maintains the rank of Chaplain, the darkly twisted individuals holding this office now known as Dark Apostles, and leading their brethren in heretical prayers and insane catechisms. Immense cathedrals and rune-etched monuments still rise in the wake of the Word Bearer's conquests, but now they are blasphemous dedications to the glory that is Chaos.
The Alpha Legion
The Alpha Legion was the twentieth and final Space Marine Legion created in the First Founding. During the Great Crusade the XXth Legion earned renown for its strict discipline and organisation. The Alpha Legion strove hard to outshine its brethren in all things and prove their worthiness to be among the older Legions.
The war-lust of the Alpha Legion easily led them into heresy when Horus declared himself against the Emperor, though some legends say that the Alpha Legion secretly remains loyal to the Emperor in perhaps the greatest of the many deceptions and ploys it has worked. Here at last was their chance to prove themselves against opponents just as tough, as battle hardened, and ferocious as themselves.
The Alpha Legion did much to ravage the Eastern Fringe during the Heresy, pursuing their own set of objectives far from Terra. In the ten millennia since they have continued to strike from bases hidden all over the galaxy. Unusually the Alpha Legion actively cultivates Chaos Cultists and rebels, multiplying their impact many times over. The Inquisition holds a special loathing for the Alpha Legion for their part in spreading Chaos Cults and fanning the embers of heresy into the raging fires of outright rebellion.
Renegade Space Marine Chapters
The Traitor Legions are not the only Space Marines to fall to Chaos. Through the passing of the Terran centuries since the Horus Heresy, the forces of Chaos have been further swelled by those Space Marines from the later Foundings who have turned from service to the Emperor of Mankind to pursue their own agendas. With each new millennium, dozens of disillusioned or power-hungry Chapters defect, just as Horus did. Only the High Lords of Terra and the Inquisition have any idea of how deep the rot goes. Nonetheless, some Renegades have achieved such notoriety that their legends resonate throughout entire sectors.
According to the current records of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus, approximately 50 Loyalist Chapters or elements of Loyalist Chapters have turned Renegade in the ten millennia since the Horus Heresy. Examples include the Sons of Malice, the Damned Company of Lord Caustos, the Violators, the Thunder Barons, and the Astral Claws (known as the Red Corsairs since their rebellion against the Imperium during the Badab War). A more complete list can be found here.
As they explore their new freedom from the discipline and strict purpose of the Adeptus Astartes, these Space Marines inevitably turn at some point to the Chaos Gods to gain more power to do as they will, or for protection, since prolonged independence will jeopardize them if the bloodthirsty Traitor Legions were to become aware of their existence.
From this point on, they are fated to walk the path of the Chaos Champion. These Renegades are hunted men -- loathed by all the other Space Marine Chapters, who consider it their foremost duty before the Emperor to destroy any Renegade Astartes lest their vile shame and dishonour leave a black stain upon all the Loyalist Space Marines who have never turned their face from the light of the Emperor or their duty to Mankind for their own selfish gain.
Though never equal in size or power to the original Astartes Legions, a modern Space Marine Chapter is a potent military force in its own right and when an entire Chapter turns Renegade, it presents a grave threat to the Imperium. With all the resources of a Space Marine Chapter at their disposal, the Renegades of Chaos destroy Imperial armies, conquer Imperial worlds and despoil whole sectors of the Imperium.
This is rare however, as most Chapters usually operate within a number of theatres simultaneously. Therefore, it is usually separate companies or detachments that will turn Renegade, and will abandon or turn on their Loyalist brethren. It is perhaps the greatest test of faith for a Space Marine to fight another Astartes, and these internecine conflicts often have a terrible effect on other nearby Chapters.
In these circumstances, such inter-Chapter wars tend to escalate quickly, engulfing many worlds with bloodshed. Other Chapters are then employed to suppress the rebellion, but those forces sent to deal with the Renegade Chapter may actually end up, in whole or in part, becoming corrupted and joining with those they were sent to destroy, just as occurred to many amongst the Traitor Legions so long ago.
An example of just such an outcome infamously took place in the 34th Millennium during the Obscuran Uprisings. During the course of 400 Terran years of anarchic separatist rebellions that shook much of the Segmentum Obscurus, at least 7 Loyalist Space Marine Chapters broke their oaths to the Emperor and took part in the looting and pillaging of hundreds of these Imperial worlds. Of these Chapters, 2 of them, the Sons of Vengeance and the Silver Guards -- had at first fought on the side of the Imperium but turned Renegade after their actions against the Chaos-corrupted Free Council of Hannedra II.
Artefacts of Chaos
Amongst the myriad warbands of the Chaos Space Marines there exist tools of murder whose very names inspire terror. Some of these Chaos artefacts date back to before the Horus Heresy, before their bearers were corrupted by the whispers of the Dark Gods. Others are Daemon Weapons forged using the essences of daemons, and exist only to sow destruction throughout the galaxy.
- Axe of Blind Fury - Bound within this fabled Power Axe is the essence of a Greater Daemon. It rages against its eternity of servitude, resulting in grievous violence against the enemy and, sometimes, its owner or his allies.
- The Black Mace - This malefic mace is said to have been cursed by each of the Daemon Primarchs. One who is struck by it instantly collapses into a mouldering pile of bones, while the curse spreads in a deadly shock wave to all those foes of the Dark Gods in the vicinity.
- Blade of the Hydra - Long ago, this oversized Chainsword was of purely ceremonial use. Since the Daemon Prince Gharual of the Nine Sundered Souls was bound inside it, however, the blade has been a fiendish tool of destruction. Those with a will strong enough to control its multiple thirsting mindsets can cause the sawtoothed blade to shimmer into not one, but several swords that gnaw and gnash with an immortal hunger. These extra blades are insubstantial when the wielder wills it, and razor-sharp when the flesh of his enemies is near. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the Alpha Legion.
- Blissgiver - This long-tongued whip or slender blade can render those who feel its sting insensible with indescribable pleasure. Even those who put aside gratification for a greater duty find their oaths and promises forgotten, washed away in a tide of sensation that drowns the mind completely. So it is to feel the kiss of Slaanesh. Though their lives are cruelly torn away almost immediately afterwards, for a few short moments, they truly know ecstasy and agony entwined. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the Emperor's Children.
- Brass Collar of Bhorgaster - This collar of heavy brass is the bane of Sorcerers, for bound within it is a Greater Daemon of Khorne that despises magic. A psyker with the temerity to unleash eldritch power near this relic finds his mind screaming with pain. Moments later, the empyric energies he has conjured into being are turned back upon him in a raging inferno of white-hot flame. Those who succumb are immediately sucked into Khorne's realm, there to die a thousand times over. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the World Eaters.
- Claws of the Black Hunt - These vicious hooked talons have spilt the blood of thousands of victims since their creation in the soul forges. Worn by the master of the Black Hunt, a vicious ritual that precedes the greatest of Night Lords invasions, they are so encrusted with gore they are almost black. This congealed fluid is so thick it cannot even be seared away by the vicious energy field that runs about each claw. This is seen by some as a clear sign of a gory blessing from destructive gods. Even when the wielder swipes the air near a foe, not quite making contact, the victim's armour and flesh still mysteriously part as if slashed open by a fierce and invisible beast. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the Night Lords.
- The Cursed Crozius - This artefact was once the rod of office for a founding member of Lorgar's Chaplains, one of the first of his kind to be sent into the Legiones Astartes in order to watch for signs of sedition. In truth, it has always been the weapon of an Archtraitor. First used in anger to bludgeon a Praetor of the White Scars to death, it still bears the indelible stains of that first treacherous kill to this day. The wielder of the Cursed Crozius is instilled with all the knowledge they need to slay the Loyalist thralls of the Corpse-God. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the Word Bearers.
- Eye of Night - One of the artefacts used by Abaddon to take command of the dreaded Blackstone Fortresses during the Gothic War, the Eye of Night is a multifaceted obsidian crystal of unknown origin. The slightest caress of the ebon beam it can unleash causes machines to suffer massive power failure or catastrophic internal damage. Not even the thickest armour can resist its malignant touch. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the Black Legion.
- Eye of Tzeentch - The Eye of Tzeentch is a relic that has been exposed to wild psychic energies for ten Terran millennia. Sorcerers who stare into the artefact's unblinking depths can glean the secrets of the Warp, and use such knowledge to focus their own eldritch powers, enhancing their scope and potency.
- Fleshmetal Exoskeleton - The Fleshmetal Exoskeleton so prized by the Eye of Terror's Warpsmiths bonds with the wearer's wargear and anatomy alike, so that they embody the maxim "Iron Within, Iron Without" in a quite literal sense. A blade that manages to penetrate his armour will blunt itself on the hardened flesh beneath, and those enemies that somehow deal the warrior significant damage will see their adversary's cabled muscles reknit in a frenzy of silvered fibres until they are rebuilt as strong as ever. This artefact is only available to the Heretic Astartes of the Iron Warriors.
- G'holl'ax, Fist of Decay - The very essence of pestilence exudes from the fingertips of this malign artefact. Said to have been gifted by the Lord of Decay himself, the mortal that bears this symbolic weapon is a herald of contagion and a physical example that none can resist the inescapable grip of decay. The Fist of Decay is a Power Fist that can only be used by a servant of Nurgle.
- Intoxicating Elixir - This dispenser is filled with a self-replenishing liquid that is pumped into the bearer's bloodstream by the pint. Some say the liquid, which grants those that partake of it with unholy physical power, is a nectar distilled from Slaanesh's own pleasure gardens in the Realm of Chaos.
- Puscleaver - This blade bears the infamous Gurgling Doom contagion. One struck by the blade typically has only a few agonising solar seconds left to live before they finally realise the glory of Nurgle's generosity and keel over gurgling phlegm. Only servants of the Plague God may wield this artefact.
- Q'o'ak, the Boundless - The daemon Q'o'ak drew Tzeentch's ire for ceaselessly tinkering with the plans of his Lords of Change, and thus was bound within this sword to stop its tireless meddling. Yet when the weapon crosses blades with the bearer's enemies, a new victim falls foul of Q'o'ak 's temporal tampering. How Q'o'ak can traverse time whilst bound within its physical prison is unknown, yet for each soul Q'o'ak pulls from the path of fate, a fresh plume materialises from the sword's hilt. Q'o'ak is the equivalent of a Power Sword, a hellforged sword used by daemons or a Force Sword.
- Talisman of Burning Blood - This talisman constantly drips with thick, bubbling gore. The air around it is so heavy with the charnel stench of the slaughterhouse that it imbues the bearer's limbs with a supernatural swiftness to match their eagerness to butcher the foe.
- Thaa'ris and Rhi'ol, the Rapacious Talons - Thaa'ris and Rhi'ol were two rival daemons who endlessly performed at the court of a great Daemon Prince. They drew their patron's displeasure when their competitive rivalry became the prime focus of their performances, neglecting the court and its lord. They were bound within two Daemon Weapons, paired claws forever destined to dance at the behest of their bearer. These relics replace Lightning Claws or malefic talons and can only be used by the servants of Slaanesh.
- The Murder Sword - So deadly are the wounds from this blade that some believe it is actually the Anathame -- the legendary cursed weapon suspected to have laid low the Warmaster Horus within the swamps of Davin's Plague Moon. The sword is undoubtedly of eldritch provenance, for with a sacrificial ritual it can become the bane of a certain foe above all others.
- Ul'o'cca, the Black Axe - This axe was found on a Daemon World resting in a cavern marked with diabolical wards. Thousands of corpses lay at its feet, sacrificial offerings from an unknown warden to appease its hunger. One brave soul now seeks to feed the daemon by other means. Ul'o'cca replaces a Power Axe, Force Axe or a daemonic axe.
- Zaall, the Wrathful - Only Khorne's most incensed warriors can wield this sword. A daemon of such unrestrained anger, Zaall was bound within this blade to give a purpose to the daemon's endless fury. Now the daemon's anger ebbs and flows like a tide of gore synced to the wrath of its wielder. This relic can be used as a Power Sword or a hellforged sword used by daemons.
Forces of the Chaos Space Marines
The Forces of Chaos
The "forces of Chaos" is an all-encompassing term that includes the Chaos Space Marines and all the other beings and entities who serve the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and make war upon the Imperium of Man and the many other intelligent races of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Among their number are included the Traitor Legions and Renegade Space Marines, human, mutant and alien Chaos Cultists, Traitor Imperial Guard, Traitor Titan Legions, Renegade Knights, the Tech-priests of the Dark Mechanicum, Chaos Spawn cannon fodder, and daemons of every shape and level of power as well as countless other foul beings too horrific to be mentioned here.
All of these forces can be led into battle by the Chaos Space Marines, who are collectively the most powerful mortal servants of the Ruinous Powers who have ever lived.
The Lost and the Damned
There are also many normal humans and mutants who serve the Ruinous Powers as Chaos Cultists or belong to ancient Traitor regiments of the Imperial Army, Traitor regiments of the Astra Militarum, or the Dark Mechanicum.
These groups joined Horus in his rebellion and then fled with the Traitor Legions into the Eye of Terror 10 millennia ago after Horus' defeat or were converted to the service of the Dark Gods in the long millennia since. These groups are often used by the Chaos Space Marines to bolster their ranks.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 27-29
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 18-19, 62, 128
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 5-20, 22-25, 28-64
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 6-22, 25-58
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pp. 2-12, 21-38
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition) (Revised Codex), pp. 6-16, 18-25, 62, 128
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 12-16, 20-21, 22-25, 67, 162-163
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition), pp. 4-16
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 5-50
- Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (PC Game)
- Deathwatch: First Founding, pp. 76-94
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pp. 10-30, 64-120
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 48-60, 92-113, 136-155
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination by Alan Bligh, pp. 78-129
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest by Alan Bligh, pp. 104-115
- Index Astartes I, pp. 24-39
- Index Astartes II, pp. 20-29
- Index Astartes III, "Chosen of Khorne: The World Eaters Space Marine Legion," "The Lost and the Damned: The Death Guard Space Marine Legion," "Sons of Horus - The Black Legion Space Marine Chapter"
- Index Astartes IV, "The Enemy Within: The Alpha Legion Space Marines Legion," "The Dark Apostles: Word Bearers Space Marine Legion"
- Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (1st Edition), pp. 209-276
- Realms of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1st Edition), pp. 161-184
- Eisenhorn by Dan Abnett (Novel)
- Dead Sky, Black Sun (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Psychic Awakening - Faith & Fury (8th Edition), pg. 59