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In the table-top wargame Warhammer 40,000, the Chaos Space Marines or Chaos Marines, are Space Marines who serve the Chaos Gods. They are also referred to as the Traitor Legions, primarily in background material written from the perspective of the Imperium.


The background shown in both Codex: Space Marines (Haines and McNeill, 2004) and Codex: Chaos Space Marines (Chambers et al., 2002) states that the Chaos Marine Legions were nine of the twenty original "First Founding" Legions of Space Marines who fought in the Great Crusade for the Imperium of Man. At this time the Primarch Horus and the Luna Wolves were corrupted by Chaos and instigated the galaxy-wide civil war known as the Horus Heresy.

Further background to the Chaos Space Marines is explored in detail in the 'Horus Heresy' series. After the death of Horus and the end of the Heresy, the remnants of the nine Legions along with the other Imperial forces that had joined Horus escaped into an area of the galaxy known as the Eye of Terror. Due to the nature of Chaos, and the temporal instability of the Warp, the very same Chaos Marines who revolted against the Emperor continue to fight against the Imperium.

The 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. Besides Horus, two other Chaos Primarchs were believed to have been killed during or shortly after the Heresy (Konrad Curze of the Night Lords and Alpharius of the Alpha Legion though Alpharius is believed to still be alive, possibly through his Twin Brother, Omegon) The six surviving Primarchs have since become Daemon Princes. These daemonic Primarchs rarely take part in the affairs of their Legions or any part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Angron however, led an invasion force which was to become the First War of Armageddon, where he was banished for 100 years by a group of 100 Grey Knights lead by Brother-Captain Aurellian. Some of the Legions have pledged a particular loyalty to one of the four Great Chaos powers. The closest thing to a leader that has appeared among them is Abaddon the Despoiler. Abaddon is the only Chaos Marine since Horus to be able to command the loyalty of all nine Traitor Legions, and has led thirteen Black Crusades against the Imperium of Man.

Gods of Chaos

Tzeentch: Tzeentch is described as the Chaos god of Change, Ambition, Knowledge, Hope and Sorcery. His titles include the Changer of Ways, the Architect of Fate and the Great Sorceror. Tzeentch excels in subtle machinations and is patron to schemers and conspirators of all sorts and he favours the clever over the strong. Plotters and schemers are often drawn to Tzeentch wanting magical powers to achieve their goals.

Khorne: Khorne is the Chaos God of blood, war, and martial valour. He acts outwardly by seeking the deaths of others, preferring close combat over ranged weaponry, and the only things he respects are strength and martial prowess. He is both the eldest and most powerful Chaos God. Khorne's followers are always ferocious warriors. Men turn to Khorn for power and to conquer.

Slaanesh: Slaanesh is the Chaos god of desire, of the pursuit of pleasure and satisfaction and the need of and for sensations. A sensuous, androgynous deity associated with hedonism and decadence, he is known by many colourful names such as The Dark Prince and The Prince of Excess. Slaanesh is said to be both the youngest and weakest of the 4 Chaos Gods, though in its early life it was far stronger, capable of murdering nearly the entire Eldar pantheon. Mortals whom seek charisma and fellowship follow Slaanesh, for his gifts make one popular and inspiring.

Nurgle: Nurgle is the Chaos god of death and destruction, personified by stagnation, entropy, disease and decay. His power is said to come from the mortal races' reaction to the inevitability of death and disease. The power in the acceptance of what is. He is a warm and welcoming god who prides himself on the achievements of his followers, gifting them with hideous deceases while sheltering them from death and pain. His followers are mortals who would sacrifice their mortal souls for a chance at preserving their physical well being.

Forces of the Chaos Space Marines

Each of the Chaos Space Marine Legions fights using a different style of warfare; also, four of the nine are dedicated to one of the four major Chaos Gods. Codex: Chaos Space Marines (Thorpe, Cavatore et al., 2007) includes the current rules for fielding a Chaos Space Marine army in a game of Warhammer 40,000, 4th or 5th Edition. The previous Codex, published in 2003 for 3rd Edition, also includes rules for fielding the troops of the specific legions, but this Codex was designed for 3rd Edition and cannot be used with 5th Edition.

The nine Chaos Marine Legions are (in order of founding):

  • Emperor's Children, devoted to the Chaos god Slaanesh
  • Iron Warriors, specialists in siege warfare
  • Night Lords, specialists in fast strikes and terror tactics
  • World Eaters, close combat specialists, devoted to the Chaos god Khorne
  • Death Guard, devoted to the Chaos god Nurgle
  • Thousand Sons, containing many sorcerers, devoted to the Chaos god Tzeentch
  • Black Legion, formerly the Luna Wolves and later Sons of Horus, now led by Horus' lieutenant Abaddon the Despoiler
  • Word Bearers, fanatical Chaos cultists who make extensive use of summoned daemons
  • Alpha Legion, specialists in infiltration and subterfuge

The legions are often featured in short stories and novels. For example, The Night Lords appeared in the short story Chains of Command and also "Lord of the Night", a story that follows the Raptor lord Zso Sahaal in his struggle to regain his dead Primarch's stolen legacy, adding an entirely different view and depth to a legion that had previously little attention. Another appearance is made in the Space Wolves story "Sons of Fenris", where a group of Night Lords are fighting against Wolf Lord Ragnar Blackmane and his cadre of Wolfguard. They also appeared in the Eldar stronghold mission of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade (it is said that they were lured by the Eldar as a distraction). The Iron Warriors have appeared in the novel Storm of Iron and favour siege warfare.

In addition, since the Horus Heresy, several Space Marine Chapters have been corrupted in one way or another by Chaos. No specific rules exist for renegade chapters, allowing players to adapt other rules to represent their forces. According to the records of the Ordo Malleus (the body responsible for protecting the Imperium from Chaos and daemons), approximately 50 chapters have turned renegade after the Horus Heresy; however, the accuracy of this number is doubtful. Examples of given Space Marine chapters include the Sons of Malice, the Damned Company of Lord Caustos, the Violators, the Steel Cobras, the Thunder Barons, and most notably the Astral Claws (known as the Red Corsairs since their rebellion). Their numbers are even harder to gauge, as usually when a chapter succumbs to Chaos there will be marines who remain loyal to the Emperor. One example is the Battle-Captain of the Death Guard's 7th Company, Nathaniel Garro, who rallied his company and escaped with other surviving loyalists from Istvaan III, returning to Terra and warning them of Horus's betrayal. Another example is Iacton Qruze, the only member of the Sons of Horus to remain loyal to the Emperor and survive the Horus Heresy (both of these Marines are rumoured to have formed the core of what would become the Imperial Inquisition). These loyalist survivors are rare, as they are usually outnumbered and slaughtered by their corrupted brethren. However, the few loyalists that do survive when a chapter falls are amongst the most skilled warriors in the Imperium.

Differences between Chaos Space Marines and Space Marines

The Chaos Space Marines have the same origins as the Space Marines. Due to their allegiance to Chaos, Chaos Marines can be mutated or willingly possessed, thus making themselves into monsters, faster or otherwise superior to the Space Marines and other inhabitants of the Warhammer 40k universe. Chaos Marines have extended lifespans due to the time-warping effects of the Eye of Terror, and their millennia of experience gives them levels of mastery with more advanced skills and tactics that Loyalist Space Marines do not have. Regular Chaos Marines have also lost the "and they shall know no fear" ability. However, Regular Chaos Marines are still extremely hard to break due to their newfound loyalty in the pantheon of chaos, and some of the more veteran or bloodthirsty Chaos Marines are more fearless than their loyalist brethren.

They are equipped with the power armour and weapons they had when they initially betrayed the Imperium, which are broadly the same as those used by Space Marines (although differences now exist with jump packs etc). The current setting of the Warhammer 40,000 game is about 10,000 years after the Horus Heresy, and, while the Imperium has made some technological advancements, Chaos Marines have far more limited access to the handful of new inventions that have appeared on the galactic scene. In general, anything developed since the Heresy is unavailable to them unless it has been captured; for example, Iron Warriors are known for capturing and using Imperial tanks. This is not a strong differentiating factor though, as the Imperium merely replicates technology designed during the 'Golden Age of Technology' and has very little understanding of it; thus there have been very few developments during the last 10,000 years. While Chaos Space Marines have mostly older technology, they compensate for this by having access to daemons and daemonic technology.

Chaos Space Marine Units

Chaos Space Marines are blessed with glorious gifts by the powers of the warp and the gods of Chaos. The following article lists the units that make up a chaos space marine army.


  • Abaddon the Despoiler; The leader of the bloodthirsty Black Legion. He is rumoured to be the clone-progeny of Warmaster Horus, and at one time his most favoured son among the Space Marines of the Sons of Horus Legion.
  • Fabius Bile; Once the head apothecary of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion.
  • Huron Blackheart; Chapter Master of the Astral Claws. Huron Blackheart ultimately turned to Chaos and corrupted his Chapter as well.
  • Typhus; Typhus, know as the Traveller, Herald of Nurgle and the Host of the Destroyer Hive, is a Chaos Space Marine and a Captain of the Death Guard Legion.
  • Khârn the Betrayer; A member of the World Eaters Legion of Chaos Space Marines, and the greatest Champion of Khorne after the World Eaters Daemon Primarch Angron himself.
  • Ahriman; Ahriman, Sorcerer of the Red Cyclops, was the Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons Legion, and - after his Primarch, Magnus the Red - the most powerful of all Chaos sorcerers.
  • Lucius the Eternal; Lucius the Eternal is the champion of the Chaos god Slaanesh and a Lord Commander of the Emperor's Children Legion.
  • Daemon Princes; Daemon Princes are the formerly human Champions of Chaos who have been elevated to daemonhood by the Chaos Gods or by the will of Chaos Undivided. They have bartered their humanity for unearthly power and immortality.

Other tie-ins

  • The death metal band Debauchery released several tracks/albums with references to the World Eaters. Most notable is the track "KILL MAIM BURN!".
  • The British death metal band Bolt Thrower released a song titled "World Eater" on their album Realm of Chaos. The entire album is, in fact, themed around the Warhammer 40,000 concept of Chaos, as evidenced by the Games Workshop-produced artwork of the original printing, and song titles such as "Plague Bearer", "Dark Millennium", and "Through The Eye Of Terror".

See also


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{{ Navbox | name = Warhammer 40,000 | title = Warhammer 40,000

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| group6 = Role-playing games | list6 = Dark Heresy · Rogue Trader · Deathwatch · Black Crusade

| group7 = Film | list7 = Ultramarines: The Movie |}

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