The title Coryphaus is a specialist position unique to the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. Each Host of the Word Bearers Legion includes one Coryphaus, a symbolic title granted to the most trusted and capable warrior, war leader and strategos of the Host. In times of war, the Coryphaus serves as the senior war captain to his Host's commanding Dark Apostle, and is tasked with ensuring the military objectives envisioned by the Apostle are met. In time of prayer to the Dark Gods, the Coryphaus is the voice of the congregation. The mood and opinion of the Host is delivered to the Dark Apostle through him, and it is his duty to lead the chanted responses and antiphons from the gathered Host in religious ceremonies and rituals.
Even before their fall to Chaos during the Great Crusade, the Word Bearers Legion was always very devout, and it was not rare for War Captains of the Legion to be chosen for that exalted rank due to their piety and oratory prowess. The War Captains, in turn, saw the merit of keeping one or more Battle-Brothers with a more pragmatic approach and keen eye for tactics close at hand in order to prosecute battles as efficiently as possible.
After the Horus Heresy and the Traitor Legions' retreat to the Eye of Terror, the Word Bearers Legion claimed for themselves the Daemon World of Sicarus. When the Word Bearers' Primarch Lorgar isolated himself in seclusion, effective command of the XVIIth Legion fell upon a body known as the Dark Council, composed of the most senior Dark Apostles of the Legion. They commanded that the Legion be divided into multiple War Hosts, each commanded by a Dark Apostle. Each Apostle would in turn appoint from within his Host a First Acolyte (assistant and heir should woe befall the Apostle) and a Coryphaus or war-captain.
This extra layer in the chain-of-command allows the Dark Apostle to become a figure of religious veneration to his Host. The Dark Apostle demands worship from his Host as a Chosen of the Dark Gods and exalted follower of Lorgar, in order to fill them with faith, as faithful warriors always fight as hard as they can. However, in order to instill such heights of devotion, the Apostle must remain aloof and above his warriors, and not a part of their dark fellowship. This is why the Apostle appoints a Coryphaus as war-leader, an intermediary who fights and bleeds alongside the regular Battle-Brothers, and serves as the vector through which the will of the Apostle is enabled. With the Coryphaus dealing with tactical matters and the day-to-day nuisances of leading the Host, it allows the Apostle to only appear before his Host either when leading the religious ceremonies or during battle, whipping their devotion and faith to the greatest heights.
- Kol Badar - Kol Badar was the Coryphaus of the 34th War Host of the Word Bearers. A blunt individual with a keen military mind, he was appointed Coryphaus by the Host's first Dark Apostle, The Warmonger, and kept serving his two successors, Jarulek and Marduk, as such. Despite a visceral mutual hatred, Marduk and Kol Badar managed to reach something of an understanding, with both aware that he needed the other alive in order to hold and effectively utilise their respective positions.
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Disciple (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds