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The 4th Edition Space Marine sourcebook (codex) cover

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000 created by Games Workshop, Space Marines are genetically modified superhuman soldiers, the elite warriors of the Imperium of Man. The Space Marines are the most popular playable army[1] for the table-top miniature wargame based in the setting. Space Marines have been one of the starter armies in every box edition of Warhammer 40,000, Space Hulk, and Epic. They also feature heavily in other Games Workshop products, such as books, films, and video games.

Space Marine appearances

Space Marines are featured in:

Tabletop games

File:Space Marine Army.jpg

A fully painted set of Space Marine miniatures.

Space Marines are a playable army in the tabletop miniatures game.[2] Because they are individually so powerful, their armies tend to be small, thus a player can buy and assemble a functional army for relatively little money and effort. In terms of playing style, they are a versatile army that neither excels nor fails at any particular tactic, though certain Chapters do have variant rules. Individual units are typically not strongly specialised and can substitute in other roles, meaning mistakes and setbacks are easy to compensate for. Their tough armour means that they do not have to be manoeuvred as carefully as units of other armies (such as the frail Eldar). These qualities make them ideal for beginners.[3]

Space Marines are featured in the following games

  • Rogue Trader (first appearance)
  • Warhammer 40,000.
  • Space Marine.
  • Space Crusade (1992) and its sequel, Advanced Space Crusade.
  • Space Hulk.
  • Talisman in the Timescape expansion.
  • Battlefleet Gothic in the Armada expansion.
  • Inquisitor.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay in Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader and Death Watch.

Video games

Space Marines are the most common protagonists in Warhammer 40,000 related videogames.

  • Space Hulk (MS-DOS 3.3 or higher, Amiga, PC-98) (1993) (Terminator-armoured Space Marines).
  • Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels (PC, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 3DO)(1996) (sequel to Space Hulk).
  • Final Liberation: Warhammer Epic 40,000 (Microsoft Windows) (1997).
  • Chaos Gate (Microsoft Windows) (1998).
  • Rites of War (Microsoft Windows) (1999).
  • Fire Warrior (PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows) (2003).
  • Dawn of War (2004) and its expansion packs Winter Assault (2005), Dark Crusade (2006), and Soulstorm (2008).
  • Squad Command (2007).
  • Dawn of War II (2009) and its expansion packs Chaos Rising (2010) and Retribution (2011).
  • Space Marine (2011).
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online (TBA).


  • Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie


Space Marines are featured in numerous fantasy novels, predominantly published by Black Library, a division of Games Workshop.

Trademark controversy

In December 2012, Games Workshop claimed the use of the phrase "space marine" infringed on their trademark of the term and requested that online retailer Amazon remove the e-book Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth.[4] The row received a lot of publicity during February 2013, with authors such as Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, and John Scalzi supporting Hogarth. Amazon restored the e-book for sale.[5][6]

Fictional characteristics

Space Marines are warrior-monks. From the time of their initiation to their deaths, they spend their entire lives praying and fighting. They have been physically enhanced with organ implants that ultimately derive from the Emperor's own flesh. Because of these, they are seen as the Emperor's holiest warriors, his Angels of Death. In principle, they answer only to the Emperor of Mankind, and since the Emperor is unresponsive they are in practice autonomous and are almost a law unto themselves (only the Inquisition can censure them).


In the distant future, the Emperor of Mankind creates the twenty Primarchs: genetically engineered superhumans possessing immense physical and psychic power. Each Primarch's genome serves as a template for a Legion of Space Marines. During the late 30th millennium AD, the Emperor uses the Space Marine Legions to conquer the human-inhabited worlds of the galaxy, uniting them into the Imperium of Man. As the campaign draws to a close, a number of Primarchs and their Legions convert to the worship of the Chaos Gods and rebel against the Emperor. The rebels are ultimately defeated and banished, though they continue to harass the Imperium as Chaos Space Marines. The Emperor is critically wounded in battle and placed on permanent life-support. The Legions of Space Marines who remained loyal to him are restructured into smaller units called "Chapters" to make a future mass rebellion unlikely. For a full list see the Loyalist Legions below.

Creation of a Space Marine

Recruits are chosen from the best warriors among humanity. This makes Death Worlds and Feral Worlds prized recruiting grounds, as such harsh and primal conditions produce the best warriors. Some Hive Worlds are also considered ideal sources of potential recruits, as the population of lower habitation levels contain some of the most murderous characters in the Imperium; hive world gangs are frequently hunted down and captured for recruitment. Among the most valued traits in a recruit are aggression and killer instinct. Civilised worlds are more rarely recruited from.


Recruits must be fairly young, because implants often do not become fully functional if the recipient has reached a certain level of physical maturity. They must be male because the zygotes are keyed to male hormones and tissue types. Only a small percentage of people are compatible to receive the implants and hypno-conditioning to turn them into Space Marines. Before the process of implantation begins, the potential recruit is tested for tissue and mental compatibility and subjected to psychological screening. If he proves successful in these tests, the recruit becomes a Neophyte. After the organ implantation process he becomes an Initiate. Throughout the implantation process, Space Marines must undergo various forms of conditioning in order for the implanted organs to activate, develop and become part of his physiology. Most recruits join the ranks as a Brother between the age of 16–18 years.

The 19 implanted organs are complicated, and because several of them only function in the presence of other implants, the removal, mutation, or failure of one organ can affect the functionality of others. Because of this, and the fact that each Chapter's gene-seed belongs to that Chapter alone, different Chapters display different characteristics and use different sets of implants and methods of implantation. For example, "Blood of Sanguinius" is administered to the Blood Angels only; and the Space Wolves are the only Space Marines with Canis Helix implants.

After these genetically engineered organs are implanted into the potential Space Marine, he undergoes years of indoctrination and harsh psychical and mental training to burn out any source of weakness.


The following implants are used:

Phase Procedure name Effects
1 Secondary heart This simplest and most self-sufficient of implants allows a Space Marine to survive his other heart being damaged or destroyed, and to survive in low oxygen environments. Not just a back-up, the secondary heart can boost the blood-flow around the Space Marine's body.
2 Ossmodula A small, complex, tubular organ, the ossmodula secretes hormones that both affect the ossification of the skeleton and encourages the forming bone growths to absorb ceramic-based chemicals that are laced into the Space Marine's diet. This drastically alters the way a Space Marine's bones grow and develop. Two years after this implant is first put in the subject's long bones will have increased in size and strength (along with most other bones), and the rib cage will have been fused into a solid mass of bulletproof, interlocking plates.
3 Biscopea This small, circular organ is inserted into the chest cavity and releases hormones that vastly increase muscle growth throughout the Space Marine's body. It also serves to form the hormonal basis for many of the later implants.
4 Haemastamen Implanted into the main circulatory system, this tiny implant not only increases the haemoglobin content of the subjects blood, making it more efficient at carrying oxygen around the body and making the subject's blood a bright red, it also serves to monitor and control the actions of the phase 2 and phase 3 implants.
5 Larraman's organ A liver-shaped organ about the size of a golf-ball, this implant is placed within the chest cavity and connected to the circulatory system. It generates and controls 'Larraman cells' which are released into the blood stream if the recipient is wounded. They attach themselves to leucocytes in the blood and are carried to the site of the wound, where upon contact with air they form a near instant patch of scar tissue, sealing any wounds the Space Marine may suffer.
6 Catalepsean node Implanted into the back of the brain, this pea-sized organ influences the circadian rhythms of sleep and the body's response to sleep deprivation. If deprived of sleep, the catalepsean node cuts in. The node allows a Space Marine to sleep and remain awake at the same time by switching off areas of his brain sequentially. This process cannot replace sleep entirely, but increases the Space Marine's survivability by allowing perception of the environment while resting. This means that a Space Marine needs no more than 4 hours of sleep a day, and can potentially go for 2 weeks without any sleep at all.
7 Preomnor This is essentially a pre-stomach that can neutralise otherwise poisonous or indigestible food. No actual digestion takes place in the preomnor, as it acts as a decontamination chamber placed before the natural stomach in the body's system and can be isolated from the rest of the digestive tract in order to contain particularly troublesome intake.
8 Omophagea This implant allows a Space Marine to 'learn by eating'. It is situated in the spinal cord but is actually part of the brain. Four nerve bundles are implanted connecting the spine and the stomach wall. Able to 'read' or absorb genetic material consumed by the Space Marine, the omophagea transmits the gained information to the Space Marine's brain as a set of memories or experiences. It is the presence of this organ which has led to the various flesh-eating and blood-drinking rituals for which the Astartes are famous, as well as giving names to chapters such as the Blood Drinkers or Flesh Tearers, both Chapters born from the Blood Angels. Over time, mutations in this implant have given some Chapters an unnatural craving for blood or flesh.
9 Multi-lung This additional lung activates when a Space Marine needs to breathe in low-oxygen or poisoned atmospheres, and even water. The natural lungs are closed off by a sphincter muscle associated with the multi-lung and the implanted organ takes over breathing operations. It has highly efficient toxin dispersal systems.
10 Occulobe This implant sits at the base of the brain, and provides hormonal and genetic stimuli which enable a Space Marine's eyes to respond to optic-therapy. This in turn allows the Apothecaries to make adjustments to the growth patterns of the eye and the light-receptive retinal cells - the result being that Space Marines have far superior vision to normal humans, and can see in low-light conditions almost as well as in daylight.
11 Lyman's ear Not only does this implant make a Space Marine immune from dizziness or motion sickness but also allows Space Marines to consciously filter out and enhance certain sounds. The Lyman's Ear completely replaces a Space Marine's original ear. It is externally indistinguishable from a normal human ear.
12 Sus-an membrane Initially implanted above the brain, this membrane eventually merges with the recipient's entire brain. Ineffective without follow-up chemical therapy and training, but with sufficient training a Space Marine can use this implant to enter a state of suspended animation, consciously or as an automatic reaction to extreme trauma, keeping the Space Marine alive for years, even if he has suffered otherwise mortal wounds. Only the appropriate chemical therapy or auto-suggestion can revive a Space Marine from this state. The longest recorded period spent in suspended animation was undertaken by Brother Silas Err of the Dark Angels, who was revived after 567 years.
13 Melanchromic organ This implant controls the amount of melanin in a Space Marine's skin. Exposure to high levels of sunlight will result in the Space Marine's skin darkening to compensate. It also protects the Space Marine from other forms of radiation.
14 Oolitic kidney In conjunction with the secondary heart this implant allows a Space Marine to filter his blood very quickly, rendering him immune to most poisons. This action comes at a price, however, as this emergency detoxification usually renders the Space Marine unconscious while his blood is circulated at high speed. The organ's everyday function is to monitor the entire circulatory system and allow other organs to function effectively.
15 Neuroglottis This enhances a Space Marine's sense of taste to such a high degree that he can identify many common chemicals by taste alone. A Space Marine can even track down his target by taste.
16 Mucranoid This implant allows a Space Marine to sweat a substance that coats the skin and offers resistance to extreme heat and cold and can even provide some protection for the marine in a vacuum. This can only be activated by outside treatment, and is common when Space Marines are expected to be fighting in vacuum.
17 Betcher's gland Consists of two identical glands, implanted either into the lower lip, alongside the salivary glands or into the hard palette. The gland works in a similar way to the poison gland of venomous reptiles by synthesizing and storing deadly poison, which the Space Marines themselves are immune to due to the gland's presence. This allows a Space Marine to spit a blinding contact poison. The poison is also corrosive and can even burn away strong metals given sufficient time.
18 Progenoids There are two of these glands, one situated in the neck and the other within the chest cavity. These glands are vitally important and represent the future of the Chapter, as the only way new gene-seed can be produced is by reproducing it within the bodies of the Space Marines themselves. This is the implant's only purpose. The glands absorb genetic material from the other implanted organs. When they have matured each gland will have developed a single gene-seed corresponding to each of the zygotes which have been implanted into the Space Marine.

These take time (5 years in the first case, 10 in the latter) to mature into gene-seed. The gene-seed can then be extracted and used to create more Space Marines.

19 Black carapace The most distinctive implant, it resembles a film of black plastic that is implanted directly beneath the skin of the Space Marine's torso in sheets. It hardens on the outside and sends invasive neural bundles into the Space Marine's body. After the organ has matured the recipient is then fitted with neural sensors and interface points cut into the carapace's surface. This allows a Space Marine to interface directly with his Power Armour.
  • Phases 1-3 can be introduced at the same time, ideally between 10 and 14 years of age.
  • Phases 4 and 5 can be introduced at the same time, ideally between 12 and 14 years of age.
  • Hypnotherapy normally begins at phase 6, ideally sometime between 14 and 17 years of age.
  • Phases 7 to 9 are normally introduced simultaneously, ideally at a point between 14 and 16 years old. The following series of organs are also ideally implanted between the ages of 14 and 16.
  • Phases 14 and 15 may be introduced at the same time, ideally between 15 and 16 years of age. The remaining series of implants are then ideally introduced to the recipient between the ages of 16 and 18.


  • Chemical Treatment. Until his initiation, a Space Marine must submit to constant tests and examinations. The newly implanted organs must be monitored very carefully, imbalances corrected, and any sign of maldevelopment treated. This chemical treatment is reduced after completion of the initiation process, but it never ends. Space Marines undergo periodic treatment for the rest of their lives in order to maintain a stable metabolism. Marine power armour suits contain monitoring equipment and drug dispensers to aid in this.
  • Hypnotherapy. As the super-enhanced body grows, the recipient must learn how to use his new abilities. Some of the implants, specifically the phase 6 and 10 implants, can only function once correct hypnotherapy has been administered. Hypnotherapy is not always as effective as chemical treatment, but it can have substantial results. If a Space Marine can be taught how to control his own metabolism, his dependence on drugs is lessened. The process is undertaken in a machine called a Hypnomat. Space Marines are placed in a state of hypnosis and subjected to visual and aural stimuli in order to awaken their minds to their unconscious metabolic processes.
  • Training. Physical training stimulates the implants and allows them to be tested for effectiveness.
  • Indoctrination. Just as their bodies receive 19 separate implants, so their minds are altered to release the latent powers within. These mental powers are, if anything, more extraordinary than even the physical powers described above. For example, a Space Marine can control his senses and nervous system to a remarkable degree, and can consequently endure pain that would kill an ordinary man. A Space Marine can also think and react at lightning speeds. Memory training is an important part of the indoctrination too. Some Space Marines develop eidetic memories. Obviously, Space Marines vary in intelligence as do other men, and their individual mental abilities vary in degree.

After these implantations and alterations to their bodies body, it is questionable whether Space Marines remain human.

Chapter structure

A typical Space Marine Chapter consists of about a thousand Space Marines, plus an unspecific number of Initiates and support staff. Each Chapter is led by a Chapter Master. Subordinate to him are Captains who command Companies of 100 Space Marines, which in turn are divided into Squads of 10 Space Marines led by Sergeants. Though small, each Space Marine Chapter is a fully integrated military machine, boasting naval and ground forces and a homeworld from which to draw supplies and recruits. Because they are seen as the chosen warriors of the Emperor, Space Marine Chapters are given a great deal of autonomy and legal dispensation. If a Chapter grows too large and powerful for the Imperium's liking, the government may order it fragmented into smaller Chapters.

Name Fictional biography Gamemplay mechanics
Ultramarines The Ultramarines are the archetypical Space Marine Chapter. They follow the Codex Astartes faithfully (their Primarch wrote it, after all). Their gene-seed pool is complete and does not carry any mutations. The Ultramarines use the standard rules as laid out in Codex: Space Marines.
Blood Ravens This Chapter features prominently in the Dawn of War series of computer strategy games. They have an unusually high number of Librarians, who have occasionally served as Chapter Master. They do not know who their Primarch and parent Legion were, and the Chapter is hinted to have sinister origins. The Blood Ravens were created specifically for the videogames and have no published variant rules for the tabletop game.
Black Templars The Black Templars categorically reject the Codex Astartes. They are much larger than other Chapters. They do not have a homeworld, but instead travel constantly on a fleet of ships. They hate psykers so much that they have no Librarians and will not fight alongside psykers other than Grey Knights. They excel at close combat.
Blood Angels The Blood Angels have a mutated gene-seed that gives them an extreme bloodlust that can eventually become uncontrollable. The Blood Angels are highly mobile and oriented to close combat. They have a special squad called Death Company, which consists of crazed Space Marines who are more powerful but recklessly aggressive. Blood Angel fight under their own codex, Codex: Blood Angels, instead of Codex: Space Marines used by other chapters.
Grey Knights This is a very secretive Chapter known only to the Inquisition and the Space Marine Chapter Masters. They deal exclusively with daemonic threats. All Grey Knights are psykers. Grey Knights rely heavily on psychic powers to augment their attacks and those of their comrades. They can also field large numbers of terminator squads, and make use of daemonic weapons. They have a unique walker vehicle: the Nemesis Dreadknight. Grey Knights using their own codex, Codex: Grey Knight, in battle.
Salamanders The Salamanders have a mutated gene-seed that makes their skin pitch black and their eyes blood red. They are one of the most sociable and compassionate Chapters, maintaining close contact with their families and communities. They have a strong preference for flame-based weapons.
Imperial Fists Heavily oriented towards defense.
White Scars Greatly inspired by the Mongols. Make heavy use of motorcycles for mobility.

Loyalist Legions

Nine Legions remained loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy. Following the Horus Heresy, they were divided into the many smaller successor Chapters:

Name No. Primarch Homeworld Current base of operations Fictional characteristics Factual roots
Dark Angels I Lion El'Jonson (The Lion).

Status: Missing, presumed dead. Actually sleeping in a hidden chamber beneath the Dark Angels' fortress monastery - a secret known only to the Emperor and the Watchers in the Dark

Caliban (Destroyed by the Dark Angels in a civil war after the Horus Heresy) The Rock (mobile asteroid base) Recruitment varies from generation to generation as depicted in the novel Angels of Darkness. The Dark Angels' combat doctrine is centred around a tactically versatile force favouring the use of heavy plasma-based weapons and the usual space marine weapon the bolter. They also maintain two specialised Companies, one of Terminator-armoured veterans named the Deathwing, and one of fast-attack, vehicular bike raiders known as the Ravenwing. The fictional depiction of the Dark Angels is heavily based upon the Knights Templar and the poem The Dark Angel by Lionel Jonson. However, the novella Deathwing bases them upon Native American tribes.
White Scars V Jaghatai Khan.

Status: Missing. Vanished after the Horus Heresy while pursuing Dark Eldar into the Webway.

Mundus Planus Mundus Planus The Chapter follows a fast-attack doctrine, and makes extensive use of hit and run tactics using Space Marine bikes. The Chapter organisation of the White Scars reflects their home world's tribal culture. White Scars recruit from a single planet, Mundus Planus. The steppes of the world are inhabited by feuding tribes, from which are chosen the best and most promising young warriors, regardless of tribe. Once a warrior becomes a White Scar, loyalty to his tribe is replaced by loyalty to the Chapter and the Emperor.

As their Primarch does during his campaign to unite the steppes, recruits from different tribes are mixed together in squads. Each squad becomes part of a Brotherhood, roughly equivalent to a standard Company.

The fictional depiction of the White Scars is based upon medieval Mongolian culture.
Space Wolves VI Leman Russ (The Wolf King).

Status: Missing. Left Fenris with his Wolfguard after the Horus Heresy, vowing to return "no matter what the laws of life and death, for the last battle, for the wolftime".

Fenris Fenris (The Fang) The Space Wolves are fierce warriors with an organisation that differs strongly from other Chapters. They are known for their fierce independence, and are the only loyal Chapter never to adopt the Codex Astartes.

The Space Wolves are noted for their hyper-acute senses caused by the implantation of the Canis Helix, which, as well as enhanced senses, causes elongated canines, leathery and hardened skin, making the Space Wolves literally wolf-like; but unless a marine can control his feral side he risks becoming a savage monster.

It is hinted in Prospero Burns and A Thousand Sons that the Space Wolves were viewed as the Emperor's executioners during the Great Crusade, and that the unleashing of the Wolves upon another legion was the Emperor's ultimate sanction, and was used not only to destroy the Thousand Sons but also the two legions missing from the Imperial archives.

The fictional depiction of the Space Wolf behaviour and culture is based upon the Vikings and werewolf mythology.
Imperial Fists VII Rogal Dorn.

Status: Missing, assumed dead. As one of the last remaining Primarchs, Dorn was urged by some to become Emperor. Last seen boarding a Chaos warship, it is speculated that he may have faked his own death and secretly leads the Emperor's Custodia guards, as only a hand was recovered.

Holy Terra Phalanx (space-borne fortress ship) The Imperial Fists are known for their skills in siege warfare. They have a rivalry with the Iron Warriors since prior to the Horus Heresy as they both are exceptional at siege warfare. They are one of the most loyal chapters in the Imperium and second only to the Ultramarines in Codex adherence. They manned the walls of the Imperial Palace during the defence of Terra, where their siege skills contributed greatly to the battle, bringing an end to the Horus Heresy, and allowing them to survive a brutal trap set for them by their traitorous rivals, the Iron Warriors. The fictional depiction of Imperial Fists duels follows the Prussian Junker system, with honour duelling depicted in the novel Space Marine. It has been acknowledegd that a few original Terran recruits introduced the Junker system into the Legion during the Great Crusade.
Blood Angels IX Sanguinius.

Status: Dead. Killed by Horus during the Battle of Terra, his body is kept in the Blood Angel fortress monastery.

Baal Secundus Baal The Blood Angels and their successor Chapters suffer from various genetic flaws, primarily the 'Red Thirst' and 'Black Rage' (also 'Red Fury'), referring to a constant drive to shed blood and a psychological state of rage. Those who begin to suffer the 'Black Rage' strive to attain death in battle; 'Black Rage' is caused by suffering the psychic echo of the death of their Primarch, Sanguinius, at the hands of Horus during the Battle of Terra. The appearance and abilities of the Blood Angels are heavily inspired by vampire mythology and angels in Judeo-Christian scriptures.
Iron Hands X Ferrus Manus.

Status: Dead. Beheaded by Fulgrim during the battle of Isstvan V. As the body was not recovered, it is rumoured that it may have been taken to Mars by the Mechanicum. Hinted on several occasions in more recent Black Library books that he may have somehow survived his decapitation.

Medusa Medusa The warriors of the Iron Hands display a high incidence of cybernetic modifications to their bodies; as their motto proclaims, "The flesh is weak!". All recruits have their left hand removed and substituted with a cybernetic replacement. Their combat doctrine is conventional but extremely brutal, making extensive use of powerful war machines (with special reverence for Terminators and Dreadnoughts as machines which replace or radically augment the human body), while their Chapter philosophy emphasises the importance of unremitting trials and struggle. The need for constant self-perfection and purification is tied to their predilection for bionic modification. The Iron hands appear to simply represent modern technology and armies, with their heavy use machinery, tanks, vehicles and prosthetics.
Ultramarines XIII Roboute Guilliman.

Status: Mortally Wounded, in stasis. Guilliman's throat was cut by Fulgrim with a poisoned blade. The Ultramarines' apothecaries placed him in stasis an instant before his death. While technically alive, the Imperium has no way of treating his injury, thus he is in practice a beautifully-preserved corpse.

Macragge Fortress of Hera, Macragge The Ultramarines are one of the most well known Chapters of the Space Marines. They have had seen countless battles, mainly due to the glory-lust nature of their Primarch Guilliman, who is also the creator of the Codex Astartes. The most famous of the battles that they won is the Battle for Macragge where they prevailed over Hive Fleet Behemoth, becoming the first Space Marine Chapter to defeat the Tyranids. They carry a boltgun and a short sword (Gladius).They are well known for their heavy weaponry and heavy support including dreadnaughts and lascannons. The Honour Guard of the Ultramarines carry very powerful close combat weapons known as Axes of Ultramar. The fictional depiction of the Ultramarines is based upon ancient Rome, though imagery relating to Classical Greece is also utilised.
Salamanders XVIII Vulkan.

Status: Missing. He vanished during the battle of Isstvan V, but his chapter believe he may still return.

Nocturne Prometheus (moon of Nocturne) The Salamanders are technically adept warriors with a preference for short-ranged combat, particularly with flame- and heat-based weaponry. The Salamanders have thick, coal-black skin and red eyes as a protective adaptation to the high levels of deleterious radiation on Nocturne. This chapter associates with their home planet's people (and civilians in general) more than any other chapter, and are trading partners with the Adeptus Mechanicus, trading weapons for the natural resources on Nocturne. Their name and background is based on the legendary salamander.
Raven Guard XIX Corax.

Status: Missing. Vanished into the Eye of Terror one year after the Battle of Terra.

Deliverance (Moon - previously named Lycaeus) Ravenspire Tower, Deliverance The Raven Guard specialise in hit-and-run attacks on high priority targets to maximise their ability to cripple a larger enemy force. Guerrilla warfare using jump packs and extensive use of Scout Marines is common. Due to a genetic defect, their skin fades to pure white while their hair and eyes turn night black. Their fictional basis and depiction draws upon elements of Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven.

Traitor Legions

Nine Legions sided with Horus and the forces of Chaos during the Horus Heresy. After their defeat they fled into the Eye of Terror, becoming the Chaos Space Marines:

Name No. Primarch Primarch's world Current base of operations Fictional characteristics Factual roots
Emperor's Children III Fulgrim.

Status: Demon Prince, elevated after killing Ferrus Manus at Isstvan V. In his despair Fulgrim allowed the demon in his sword to take over his body.

Chemos (Unknown status, presumed destroyed) Eye of Terror (Unknown planet) Initially striving to be the most loyal, steadfast and perfect of the Chapters, honoured by bearing the Emperor's personal insignia, the Emperor's Children become hedonistic devotees of Slaanesh, deranged maniacs craving pleasure from the most extreme actions and sensations. Their forces feature many of the infamous Noise Marines - Chaos Space Marines armed with powerful and exotic sonic weaponry. Fulgrim, the Legion's Primarch, is banished into his own mind after being forced to kill his closest brother, Ferrus Manus, by a daemon that takes control of his body. Much to the daemon's perverse delight, Fulgrim's essence is then imprisoned into a portrait of the Primarch aboard his flagship, condemned to witness the heinous acts perpetrated by his corrupted Legion. The eventual fate of Fulgrim has similarities with Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. The legion's drive for perfection also has echoes in Dorian's vanity and eventual descent into hedonism.
Iron Warriors IV Perturabo

Status: Demon Prince in the Eye of Terror, elevated after inflicting a major defeat on the Imperial Fists after the Horus Heresy.

Olympia (Destroyed) Medrengard (Eye of Terror) The Iron Warriors are siege and trench warfare specialists. They favour heavy weaponry, fortifications, powerful war machinery, and the calculated use of careful undermining followed by overwhelming force to utterly destroy an enemy, never giving quarter. During the Great Crusade, the Iron Warriors and the Imperial Fists were engaged in an increasingly bitter rivalry, owing to their similar military specialities and Primarch Perturabo's perception that Rogal Dorn was favoured by the Emperor. The Iron Warriors are known to be manipulative, methodical, and ruthless in their pursuit of objectives, and ultimately rally to Horus' cause, not because of any particular conviction for the Chaos Gods or the Warmaster's righteousness, but through a lack of faith in the righteousness and favour of the cause of the Emperor, seeing themselves as slaves bound to fight never-ending sieges whose prize goes only to the Emperor. In the aftermath of the disastrous Siege of Terra, the Iron Warriors were among the only Traitor Legions to successfully execute a controlled, disciplined retreat, masterminding the infamous 'Iron Cage Incident', a trap for Dorn and his Imperial Fists, ultimately claiming over 4000 Imperial Fists and Ultramarines who come to their aid, a massacre that grants Perturabo the title and powers of a Daemon Prince. The Legion's Primarch draws his name from the magical motto of occultist and mountaineer Aleister Crowley. During his time with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Crowley used the name Perdurabo, meaning 'I will endure to the end.'
Night Lords VIII Konrad Curze/Night Haunter.

Status: Dead, killed by an imperial assassin.

Nostramo (Destroyed) Eye of Terror The Night Lords specialise in raids and terror tactics, taking special interest in psychological warfare. Considered one of the most disturbed and brutal Chapters even before the Heresy, their Primarch could foretell events yet to come, not only having visions of the fall of Horus and the disastrous Heresy, but also of his own death. He allowed himself to be killed by an Imperial Callidus Assassin, demonstrating that even the Emperor will commit terror and brutality upon his enemies, just as the Night Lords do. He summed this up with his last words; "Death is nothing when compared to vindication." The name of the Primarch, Konrad Curze, is a combination of Joseph Conrad and his famous work Heart of Darkness, of which Kurtz is a central character. The Night Lords' homeworld of Nostramo is also named after another of Conrad's books, Nostromo.
Warhounds/ World Eaters XII Angron.

Status: Demon Prince, dwelling in the Eye of Terror

Unknown Eye of Terror The World Eaters were, even by pre-Heresy standards, bloody. Angron was the only Primarch to refuse the Emperor's offer to lead a Legion, bent upon dying with his gladiator brethren, but instead was forced to abandon them and witness their slaughter. This, coupled with his never-ending thirst for battle and insatiable blood-lust, made him and his Legion notorious for being brutal, mind-altered, close-combat specialists; easy prey for Horus and the forces of Chaos. They became the chosen of Khorne, the god of war, blood and carnage, using the war cry, "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!" Angron is a slave-warrior whose mind is tampered with so as to increase aggression and anger, and who leads a revolt of fellow gladiators - events loosely based upon those of Spartacus.
Dusk Raiders/Death Guard XIV Mortarion.

Status: Demon Prince, commands his legion from the Eye of Terror

Barbarus (Destroyed) Plague Planet (Eye of Terror) The Death Guard, previously disciplined and notably resistant to even the most noxious war zones, became plague-ridden devotees of Nurgle, driven to spread plague and pestilence across the galaxy to please their god. They are amongst the most organised of the Chaos Space Marines, still adhering to their pre-Heresy military doctrine, and also one of the most resilient, given the incredible resistance granted to them by their status as living decomposing corpses infested with the most heinous maladies the galaxy has to offer. The theme of the Legion is decay and malady, an army of plagued, rotting and infected Marines, whose symbolism can be linked to the Grim Reaper such as the use of scythes as elite weapons, and their daemonic Primarch Mortarion, the 'Death Lord', physically similar to the Reaper himself.
Thousand Sons XV Magnus the Red (The Crimson King).

Status: Demon Prince

Prospero (Devastated during the Horus Heresy by the Space Wolves, but apparently not destroyed) Planet of the Sorcerers (Eye of Terror) The Primarch of the Thousand Sons became fascinated by sorcery and during one of his rites, despite already having been forbidden to practice them, had a vision of Horus' betrayal. Having no other means of sending a warning to the Emperor, Magnus the Red used his sorcery to bypass the Warp storms and send word to Terra. The Emperor ignored his warning and condemned his use of forbidden sorcery, banned during the Council of Nikea, sending the Space Wolves, the Sisters of Silence (warrior women who carried the gene that made them immune to psychic attacks), and Adeptus Custodes to bring Magnus back to Terra to answer for what he had done. Before Leman Russ and his Space Wolves could reach Prospero, Horus contacted Russ and convinced him to destroy Magnus and the Thousand Sons. After intense fighting, Magnus and the Thousand Sons managed to escape the assault on Prospero despite Magnus' defeat in single combat with Russ, in which Magnus' spine was broken, it is also stated that the casting of the spell which allowed the Thousand Sons to escape destroyed Magnus' original physical body, and sided with Chaos to ensure their survival. The Thousand Sons are favoured by Tzeentch, are bitter rivals of the Space Wolves, and value knowledge above all else. The battle brothers of the Legion are rendered to dust, trapped inside their armour by a powerful spell cast by a cabal that was supposed to stop rampant physical mutation, with only the Legion's Sorcerers spared to lead their brethren. The fictional depiction of the Thousand Sons is based upon Ancient Egypt, with their blades (power weapons, force weapons, etc.) being in the shape of Khopesh swords, as well as the names, traditions, phrases and iconography.
Luna Wolves / Sons of Horus / Black Legion XVI Horus (Warmaster).

Status: Dead, killed by the Emperor in the Battle of Terra. His body was destroyed by the Black Legion after attempts were made to clone it.

Cthonia (Destroyed) Eye of Terror The Luna Wolves were renamed Sons of Horus in honour of Warmaster Horus before the Horus Heresy erupted. After Horus’ death, Abaddon the Despoiler, the first to assume Horus's rank of Warmaster after millennia of leaderless existence, renamed them the Black Legion, renouncing Horus as a failure and marking their shame at their defeat on Terra. Prior to Horus' betrayal, the Sons of Horus were the most favoured of all the Legions. The Sons of Horus employ the Eye of Horus as their symbol, combining the symbolism of the Eye of Providence (representing a deity) with the eight-pointed star of the powers of Chaos.
Word Bearers XVII Lorgar.

Status: Demon Prince, ruling worlds within the Maelstrom warp storm.

Colchis (Destroyed by the Ultramarines after the Horus Heresy) Sicarus (Eye of Terror), Ghalmek (Maelstrom) The Word Bearers are strongly religious, worshipping the Gods of Chaos as a pantheon. They were the first of the Legions to fall to Chaos when their religious zeal and devotion was condemned, an offence which prompted them to search for other gods to worship. They are also the only Traitor Legion to maintain the use of Chaplains, which the Word Bearers refer to as 'Dark Apostles'. They are known for never retreating, even when facing certain destruction, particularly when facing the hated Ultramarines chapter. The Word Bearers are feared for their frequent use of daemonic allies in their strike forces. While their Primarch, Lorgar, mainly through his advisor Kor Phaeron, was the primary source of the religious fanaticism of the Legion and, thus, their analogous zeal in worshipping Chaos, it is their First Chaplain, Erebus, that orchestrated from the shadows the events that lead Horus to turn to Chaos and to rebel against the Emperor. The Word Bearers appear to represent groups who use religion to further their own goals or as a political tool, such as the House of Borgia
Alpha Legion XX Alpharius & Omegon.

Status: One of the twins was killed in combat by Roboute Guilliman after the Horus Heresy, but which is unknown.

Unknown Unknown Subtlety and covert operations are this Legion's forte, using minimal but devastating force against their enemies. Alpharius is revealed to have had an identical twin named Omegon who could serve as Primarch in Alpharius' stead. The brothers are described as being "one soul in two bodies" in an encounter with a Xenos group called the Cabal. The Cabal also instructs them to side with Horus for the Galaxy's sake, as for the Galaxy to survive and to be free from Chaos forever, humanity must be sacrificed. The Cabal has foreseen that if Horus wins the war, he will exterminate humanity in a few generations of further civil war, hating himself for the atrocities he committed. In the novel Legion, Alpharius says that "What I do ... from this moment on, I will do for the Emperor." This suggests that even though his Legion turns, he remains loyal to the Emperor. It has also been suggested that the Alpha Legion may in fact be manipulating Chaos so it becomes more vulnerable to the loyalist Space Marines. The Alpha Legion often use the hydra as a motif and it is often used to describe fighting them. They are also likely based on Johnny and Luther Htoo, leaders of the God's Army militant group, who like the Alpha legion were also users of guerrilla warfare.

'Lost' Legions and Primarchs

Fictional works also depict two additional unnamed and undescribed First Founding Legions, Legions II and XI. In some literature the missing Primarchs and their Legions are listed as being "deleted from Imperial records". In The First Heretic, Magnus, Primarch of the Thousands Sons, rebukes Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, for attempting to bring them up in conversation, reminding him that they (the Emperor and brother Primarchs) have all taken an oath not to discuss what happened. These chapters are also referenced in A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns wherein it is revealed that the two "deleted" legions were destroyed by the Space Wolves under orders from the Emperor in much the same way as the Wolves were ordered to destroy the Thousand Sons.[7][8]

The only information Games Workshop has ever released that directly addresses them can be found in False Gods, Mechanicum, The First Heretic, A Thousand Sons, Prospero Burns and The Lightning Tower (Dan Abnett).



  • Chambers, Andy (1998). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Space Marines. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-28-X. 
  • Haines, Pete; and McNeill, Graham (2004). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Space Marines (4th ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-526-0. 
  • Johnson, Jervis (2004). Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84154-506-6. 
  • Priestly, Rick, Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader, Games Workshop, Nottingham, 1987, ISBN 1-869893-23-9
  • Warhammer 40,000 5th edition rule book, Games Workshop, Nottingham 2008
  • Priestly, Rick (February 1988). "Chapter Approved: The Origin of the Legiones Astartes". White Dwarf (Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop) (98): 12–17. 

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