The Vorpal Swords is a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of unknown Founding and origin. Almost nothing is known about this Chapter in Imperial records other than its participation in the Abyssal Crusade and the Gheistos Cataclysm.
Following the Ecclesiarchal Purges of 321.M37, a dozen star systems were engulfed by Warp Storm Dionys, its echoes rippling along the spiral arms of the galaxy as it raged through the Empyrean. Records of mutation and Chaos Cultist activity quadrupled overnight. Worse yet, it was not only the citizens who were affected by the sudden influx of Chaos. Many of the Space Marine Chapters with homeworlds affected by the Warp Storm found that the secret imperfections in their gene-seed were writ large upon their new recruits, giving rise to a wave of disturbing manifestations both physical and psychological. The Vorpal Swords was one such Loyalist Chapter of Astartes that had been affected by these Warp Storms.
When the Ecclesiarchy heard of this sinister turn of events, Saint Basillius the Elder demanded that all those Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes whose homeworlds had been touched by the Warp Storm be rendered unto his judgement. Such was the elder's influence with the High Lords of Terra that within a standard year this had come to pass. After a series of stringent tests and prognostications, hundreds of Chapters were deemed unaffected by the Warp Storm. No less than thirty were found wanting. The Judged, as these fallen Chapters came to be known, volunteered for a redemptive Penitent Crusade. The most militant of their number demanded the right to purify their tainted flesh in the fires of battle, to make a noble end from tragic misfortune. To the surprise of his closest advisors, Saint Basillius agreed to this proposal. He saw it fitting to send the accused into the Eye of Terror, taking the fight for the Imperium's future to the Daemon Worlds inhabited by the Traitor Marines.
A representative from each of the doomed Chapters held an emergency Council of Dismay to discuss the proposed Crusade. After scant solar hours of debate, they acquiesced to Basillius' demands, for they believed that martyrdom was preferable to an existence of suspicion and doubt. The last few days of 321.M37 saw a solemn procession of Strike Cruisers and Battle Barges pass through the Cadian Gate into the Eye of Terror, relay systems dormant and heraldic colours obscured by black mag-plates. One by one, the Chapters of The Judged disappeared into the iridescent dust nebulae that surrounded the Eye. As the massive Space Marine flotilla entered the Eye of Terror, they were set upon by a great Chaos Warfleet. The resultant battle was so fierce that the voidships of The Judged were forced to retreat and were scattered to the furthest corners of the Eye.
Chapter after Chapter fell to the perils of the Eye, for the Abyssal Crusade had entered a hell from which very few emerge unchanged. Most of the tales of the Chapters of The Judged ended in tragedy and sorrow. Not so that of the Vorpal Swords. Having purged more than 400 worlds within the Eye of Terror, the survivors of the Abyssal Crusade returned to Imperial space in 112.M38. Without pausing to claim the honours due for such a successful and protracted Imperial Crusade, Chapter Master Konvak Lann of the Vorpal Swords declared the now ancient Saint Basillius a false idol and adoration of him tantamount to betrayal. In less than a standard year, every known sepulchre and shrine dedicated to the false saint was destroyed. After his execution, his bones, along with countless relics, books of doctrine and thousands of living worshippers were placed on a derelict bulk-freighter and launched directly into a nearby star.
- Abyssal Crusade (321.M37) - The Abyssal Crusade was a massive campaign undertaken in 321.M37 by the forces of the Imperium of Man into the hellish realm known as the Eye of Terror located in the Segmentum Obscurus. The man later canonised by the Ecclesiarchy as Saint Basillius passed judgement and 30 Space Marine Chapters, including the Vorpal Swords, were found wanting. The guilty, designated The Judged, were given a choice between instant death or embarking upon a Penitent Crusade into the Eye of Terror. The accused all chose the latter course. They succeeded in battling the Forces of Chaos across 400 worlds within the Eye, but suffered horrendous casualties. Thousands of Astartes were slain or corrupted by Chaos. In the aftermath of the Abyssal Crusade, the number of raids conducted by Chaos Space Marines on worlds in Imperial space increased dramatically.
- Judgement of Basillius (112.M38) - Having purged more than 400 worlds within the Eye of Terror, the survivors of the Abyssal Crusade returned to Imperial space in 112.M38. Without pausing to claim the honours due for such a successful and protracted Imperial Crusade, Chapter Master Konvak Lann of the Vorpal Swords declared the now ancient Saint Basillius a false idol and adoration of him tantamount to betrayal. In less than a year, every known sepulchre and shrine dedicated to the false saint was destroyed. After his execution, his bones, along with countless relics, books of doctrine and thousands of living worshippers were placed on a derelict bulk-freighter and launched directly into a nearby star.
- Gheistos Cataclysm (Unknown Date.M41) - The Vorpal Swords Chapter came to the aid of the beleaguered Imperial world of Gheistos, which was beset by a major Warp incursion in the form of a daemon army. The Astartes of the Vorpal Swords deployed in an orbital strike across the globe, engaging multiple target zones. In one orbital assault, a Vorpal Swords detachment attempted to relieve the Planetary Governor's fortress which was attacked by a Greater Daemon, the infamous Bloodthirster Skarbrand the Exiled One. At another engagement zone, the Vorpal Swords faced the infected population of Gheistos' capital city, which had become hosts to a number of Plague Daemons and Nurglings which cavorted through the streets alongside the dead and the dying. In a major victory, a Vorpal Swords Drop Pod assault surrounded a daemonic force at the Devlan Space Port. Fighting through the hordes of daemons they managed to successfully close a major Warp rift. Despite both the heroism of the Vorpal Swords and the unrelenting fury of the daemonic host, neither side could gain the advantage or a final, clear-cut victory and the world was ultimately consumed by an Exterminatus order.
Notable Vorpal Swords
- Chapter Master Konvak Lann - Konvak Lann was the Chapter Master of the Vorpal Swords at the time of the Abyssal Crusade in the 37th Millennium. Almost 800 standard years after the Abyssal Crusade began, the remnants of some of The Judged returned from the Warp in 112.M38, having purged more than 400 worlds within the Eye of Terror. They could barely contain their fury when they were detained by agents of the Inquisition and tested for the taint of Chaos. As they passed every test, a horrible truth came to light. Saint Basillius still lived, and the testimony of Konvak Lann, the Master of the Vorpal Swords Chapter, revealed him as a false idol, guilty of sending innocents into the jaws of damnation in the service of the Dark Gods. The Vorpal Swords led the other survivors of the Crusade, blazing with righteous anger, to penetrate the defences of Basillius' palace. They found the unaccountably ancient saint and finally revealed Basillius' true nature as an apostle of Chaos. In less than a year, every known sepulchre and shrine dedicated to the false saint was destroyed. After his execution by the Inquisition, an Edict of Obliteration was carried out. The Heretic Saint's bones, along with countless relics, books of doctrine and thousands of living worshippers were placed on a derelict bulk-freighter and launched directly into a nearby star, purging all taint of Basillius as if he had never existed. Even so, the full extent of his corruption and the reach of his influence has never been fully discovered in the millennia since.
The Vorpal Swords primarily wear light green Power Armour. The power pack and shoulder plates are black. The open-faced, white squad specialty symbol -- Tactical, Devastator, Assault or Veteran -- is located on the right shoulder plate. A white Roman numeral is stenciled in the centre of the squad specialty symbol, indicating squad number. The colour of the Aquila or Imperialis on the chest guard indicates company number in accordance with the Codex Astartes -- i.e. White (1st Company), Yellow (2nd Company), Red (3rd Company), Green (4th Company), etc.
The Vorpal Swords' Chapter badge is a pair of crossed gladius swords, their tips pointed upwards, on a field of black. A white stylised skull is centred above the pair of gladii.
The term "Vorpal Sword" originated in Lewis Carrol's nonsense poem, Jabberwocky, which was included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet)
- Battle Missions, pg. 17
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 19
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 170-171