"Zarathusa....had taught his people to regard life as a continuous struggle between Ahriman and Ormuzd, the Gods of Evil and Good."
- – Hendrik van Loon, A Story of Mankind
"All is not yet dust."
- – Ahzek Ahriman
"Man errs till he ceases to strive."
- – The Lord; Faust, Part 1
Ahzek Ahriman (a.k.a. The Sorcerer of the Red Cyclops) is a powerful Chaos Space Marine of the Thousand Sons. He is one of the mightiest psykers in the whole galaxy. He is also noted for pissing off Magnus the Red to the point where Magnus kicked his ass out of the Thousand Sons after Ahriman simultaneously saved/damned his legion with the 'Rubric of Ahriman'. On the tabletop, he is known for two things: costing as much as a Land Raider (the only special character in the CSM codex that costs more than him is Abaddon) and dropping a Touhou-esque level of mind-bullet dakka each round he's on the table. Although being a Thousand Son should make him a space Persian, his major quote in the fluff, "the only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance", makes him Socrates in space, since Socrates said that in real life. The man was quite a bro before the Horus Heresy; he noticed all the flaws of the Imperium even during the Great Crusade. This was evidenced during the fall of Prospero, when he fought for the future of mankind rather than the Emperor, which, ironically, puts him in the same league as Roboute Guilliman.
Ahriman was born among the wealthy tribes of the Achaemenid Empire, whose kings had allied with the Emperor during the Unification Wars. His name and birth region indicate that he is Iranian. He was then inducted to join the Adeptus Astartes along with his twin brother, Ohrmuzd (who later died of severe mutations, making this a clear reference to Ahriman and Ormuzd, the two Zoroastrian deities of light and dark—guess which one Ahriman is). His brother's death traumatized him and motivated him to seek a cure against the flesh-change for himself and the Legion. He quickly rose through the ranks and became both Captain of the First Company and Chief Librarian of the Corvidae (the most powerful cult of the Thousand Sons).
During the Heresy
Like all Astartes, Ahriman assisted his Primarch during the Great Crusade. Unlike most Astartes, he served as Magnus the Red's second-in-command and advisor. Perhaps he was not as close to Magnus as the Primarch's foster father Amon, but he nevertheless was entrusted with guardianship of the Book of Magnus. Considering said book was a compilation of the most important secrets and powerful spells Magnus acquired from all over the galaxy, it gives an idea of the esteem he held Ahriman in that he would let him both watch over and read from said book. (And how unhappy he must have been when Ahriman misused it to cast his Rubric, more on that below.) Ahriman was present during the time when Horus became Warmaster. He was also present during Magnus' trial on Nikaea - but blacked out due to Magnus' overwhelming aura when it came time for Mortarion to speak against psykers. (Magnus got mightily pissed off, and forgot to tone it down for people who aren't him).
When the Space Wolves attacked Prospero (under orders from Horus), Ahriman led the Thousand Sons Cults to battle, defying Magnus' orders to accept their fates under the belief that their only redemption would be in death. Despite this, the Sons were already near total annihilation until Magnus finally decided that enough was enough. Magnus battled Leman Russ, but Russ got super raggy with a blind shot into Magnus' eye of epicness and was about to slay him. Magnus then swore allegiance to Tzeentch in a desperate move to save his legion, and so Tzeentch teleported Magnus, Ahriman, and the Sons to the Planet of the Sorcerers.
Rubric of Ahriman
Seeing as to how the Thousand Sons were quickly succumbing to the flesh-change, since Tzeentch is the God of Change and all, Ahriman attempted to permanently cure them of their mutations. (Yes, he actually tried to use the energy of change to stop change. Tzeentch is still chortling ten millenia later.) Without Magnus' consent, he, along with a cabal of other sorcerers, cast the spell known as the Rubric of Ahriman. On the upside, all the psychics in the legion stopped mutating and became more powerful than they had been before. On the downside, everyone else in the legion who wasn't a psyker was cursed to be turned into dust and sealed in their armor for all eternity, turning them into soulless automatons who are unable to think for themselves. At first, Ahriman was satisfied with the results of his spell since it did prevent a certain troll to have some chaotic and messy fun with his fellow Thousand Sons. However, once he realized all the implications of what he'd done, Ahriman went derp.
After Magnus learned of this, he really wasn't happy and confronted Ahriman. Believing he'd succeeded in saving his fellow Thousand Sons, Ahriman flipped him off, with the result of Magnus flying into a nerd rage so great that even an Angry Marine would take pause to admire it. Magnus was about to kill Ahriman, but Tzeentch himself (who had been rolling on every non-euclidal geometrical floor at the same time with laughter from the beginning) intervened, told Magnus that everything was just as planned, and so the Cyclops kicked Ahriman's ass off of the Planet of Sorcerers instead.
Ahriman was initially remorseful and went incognito for a few centuries until
his emo phase had ended his former brothers tried to capture him so he could undo the Rubric. With the help of some renegade Marines, Ahriman came out on top, got rid of his rivals, donned the bitchingly horned helmet he wears to this day, and began his "War Against Fate". Since that day, he made a second Rubric spell, which failed in trying to restore the Rubricae to flesh (with the exception of one named Helio Isidorus) but managed to heal Magnus from the soul-splitting effect he suffered from teleporting everyone to Prospero (despite Magnus kicking him off his lawn earlier; shows how much of a bro' he is) and he also managed to turn one of his Rubric Marines back to normal. It is revealed during these events that Ahriman believed he had to sacrifice his own life to make the Rubric work as he intended, and he went on perfecting it anyway. I repeat, here is a Chaos Space Marine who is still willing to die for his brothers, also, there was a part of him who still wanted to serve the Imperium despite all what had happened, although in the book Ahriman: Unchanged this fragment of his mind is supposedly destroyed by another part of his mind this speaks volumes of what a bro he was in his earlier centuries and how far he has fallen by the 41st millenium *sniff*.
Just to show that it takes A LOT more than a simple Rubric to change Tzeentch's plans, Khayon had this to say about Ahriman´s Rubric in the latest novel about his vacation with the Inquisitors and his tales about his time in the Black Legion:
"Ahriman´s Rubric banished mutation from the Thousand Sons, yes, but only amongst them who had little in the form of psychic talent and only by destroying their physical forms. The rest of us are as prone to the whims of the Warp and our own sins, just as any other being dwelling inside the Eye. If you believe my former brother Ahzek is entirely unchanged beneath his Eye-touched armour, you are as dangerously naive as he was when he unmade our Legion. Ahriman believe he is perfectly unaltered, hmm, did you know that? Yet I have seen the void that screams where his face used to be."
Seems like Tzeentch just LOVES to mess with poor little Ahriman as much as GW likes to change their fluff.
Unlike most other Sorcerer Lords of the Thousand Sons, Ahriman's war band, the Prodigal Sons (GW hope you notice the
(potential) completely canon foreshadowing of that name), have no ties left with the Planet of Sorcerers and its resources (not to mention Magnus's ability to resurrect fallen sorcerers), but they make up for it by mixing in non-Thousand Son Marines and mortals, as well as using their own stashes of magical artifacts (which they have a lot of). Pretty much like the Thousand Sons legion as a whole, Ahriman's band is split into tiny covens most of the time, only gathering together for particularly important battles.
Unlike Kharn, Lucius and Typhus, Ahriman is NOT a devoted servant of his Chaos god, and in fact does not even consider himself Tzeenchian, instead pursuing his own goal of becoming a god himself (He aspires to become a God of sorcery, ambition, and fate!... Creative?). The Architect of Fate, however, still thinks of Ahriman as his greatest champion, as he does not concern himself with the faith of his servants, but with their actions and hopes. In a way, Ahriman's rebellion against his patron god and his quest to overthrow him makes him even more Tzeenchian.
In order to further his divine aspirations, Ahriman is constantly trying to gain entrance into a particular Eldar library. And not just any library, where he can nerd out like most other geeks, but the mystical Black Library where he can nerd out mystically and become a new major chaos god (Which would tear reality yet another great big asshole like the Eye of Terror, though this is probably just one of Tzeentch's plans to be personally summoned into the material world. Let's be honest about it, convincing a follower to go on an epic quest to attain 'the power of a god' for 9999 years only to be a worthy sacrifice is basically what Tzeentch is all about.). And he is constantly failing at that task because villains can't win. To be fair though, the Library is hidden in the ass end of the Webway. It's also protected by the Harlequins, who are really good at getting their shit done, and the Eldar Laughing God, who still has the full measure of his god-like power and is a master of just as planned (to the point that he can play this dreadfully complicated game on a fairly equal level with The Deceiver, Tzeentch, and the Emperor), and is capable of challenging Slaanesh for the souls for the Harlequin Solitaires—and winning.
In addition to this, he has the shards of a consecrated silver bolt shell constantly moving towards his hearts, only being repulsed by his powers reinforcing the flesh around it(So, Iron-Man), adding more motivation for him to find the black library and ascend to godhood. However, during the casting of the Second Rubric, Ahriman allowed these shards to finally reach his heart and kill him under the assumption his sacrifice would restore the Rubricae to flesh and blood. A myriad of assholes intervened and Ahriman ended up with his body restored instead.
In spite of this, he is one of the most awesomely powerful psykers in the galaxy. His miniature can psychic power spam like no one else can, as he is able to throw seven powers per turn, three of which are the same witchfire, which means that he can kill pretty much anything dead with just a mean look. Nerd rage abounds as to whether the Doom of Malan'tai, Varro Tigurius, Eldrad Ulthran, Ahriman, or Mephiston is the most powerful psyker alive who is not balls to the wall insane or a daemon.
(Pretty much answered: at least in terms of crunchy psychic power, Eldrad's got powerful anti-psyker and Perils of the Warp-bypassing stuff that Ahriman doesn't, though Ahriman can manifest more psychic powers per turn with enough allied sorcerers around to rob them of their charges. They are now both boosted to Mastery Level 4 in the 6th edition codices, so a psychic duel between them can go either way. Other mortal contenders though are not even near the god-like power level of these two.)
And he may well still be a loyalist. Or at least, he may still think he is a loyalist… wait a second…
Let us clarify this point: the main reason Ahriman wants to enter the Black Library is his hope that this will allow him to achieve enough power to reverse the state of the Rubric Marines and rebuild Prospero (among other things), which was supposed to be the first city populated solely by psionically attuned humans, without having to go through all the grimdark soul-binding processes which are common in the Imperium at present. Want to know how cool Prospero was? Medics of Prospero could cure cancer with their mind powers, and that was an average procedure. In Horus Heresy, a Thousand Sons Sorcerer claimed that he could undo the damage done by Butcher's Nails on MOTHERFUCKING KHARN OF ALL PEOPLE. (Kharn beat the sorcerer to death moments later.) So yeah, no need for Emprah-miracles. Too bad Ahriman is currently not above using torture, genocide and daemonology to get the work done (then again, it isn't like the Imperium doesn't do the same thing here and there).
Basically, he's merciless Persian Wizard Space Marine reeking of JUST AS PLANNED and good intentions (well at least his end-game is good, his methods... not so much). His origin also puts him in a rough tie for oldest human (excluding the Emprah) with a certain pretty fun guy to be around.
By the way, Ahriman has his own series of novels and stories and is also one of the main characters of the A Thousand Sons novel, and is the main antagonist in Atlas Infernal. You can compare how crazy he has gone by reading the Horus Heresy book first, his increasing moral slide in Exile and Sorcerer, his justification for his actions in Unchanged, and the unmitigated villain in Atlas Infernal. Grimdark indeed.
Just before the Siege on the Fenris System, he managed to break into the Black Library and steal an undetermined amount of lore. That lore includes The Tome Labyrinthus, which is a map that includes a large number of secrets doors, passages and gates to the Webway. He more or less handed a lot of the Webway secrets to the rest of his legion, so they could attack from it.
In Gathering Storm, he got into a fight with the Ynnari in the Webway and caused a lot of damage, but ultimately lost the war. Began with Ahriman ambushing the then ragtag army of outcasts within the Webway which included Harlequins, Craftworlders, Drukhari, a Wraithknight and a number of Phoenix Lords (some of which were Asurmen and Mugen-Ra), against Ahriman's horde of Rubrics, Sorcerers, Daemons and a couple of Lords of Change. Yvraine showed Ahriman that she could reverse the rubric by demonstrating her ability on three Rubricae, restoring them, in order to get away. Ahriman, overcome with emotion, agreed to let Yvraine and her pals go as part of the deal. In typical Eldar fashion however Yvraine screws him over and kills the restored Thousand Sons, something that even fucking Eldrad would have called a dick move, and it's earned Yvraine and her cronies the everlasting, planet-destroying hatred of a ripshit pissed Ahriman. Whether this is going to bite her on her elfy behind is unsure, but considering she just screwed with one of the most powerful sorcerers in the universe on a whole new level; you can bet Ahriman's going to find a way to get even (and he should probably consult with Honsou for ideas. That man knows how to send a "don't fuck with me" message). Besides, Yvraine knows how to reliably reverse the Rubric. Squeezing that secret out of her would be a huge leap for Ahriman's ambitions.
After the blunder in the Webway, Ahriman decided to head to Commorragh, having seen Yvraine's ability to reverse the Rubric.
On the Tabletop
Ignore the fact that Ahriman's stat line is no better than that of an average Space Marine Commander; it's not what you're paying for with 230 points. What you're paying for is the following: Mastery Level 4, a trait he shares only with the likes of Eldrad Ulthran and Kairos Fateweaver; the Black Staff of Ahriman, a S+2, AP4 Force weapon that allows him to cast the same witchfire power up to THREE TIMES in a single turn; and psychic powers generated from Telepathy, Telekinesis, Daemonology (Malefic), Divination, Biomancy, Pyromancy, Ectomancy, Geomortis, Heretech, Sinistrum, Tzeentch, and the kitchen sink. No other psyker in the game besides Magnus himself has Ahriman's potential for sheer volume and variety of psychic damage output.
He also has Fearless, Mark of Tzeentch, Aura of Dark Glory, Champion of Chaos, and Veterans of the Long War. The combination of Mark of Tzeentch and Aura of Dark Glory give him a 4++ invulnerable save, which is always nice. However, Mark of Tzeentch can be problematic as it also forces him to generate at least one power from the Tzeentch discipline, and a couple of the powers from that table, including the Primaris, are lame sauce (keep in mind he still has three more power slots, though). But even Tzeentch's Firestorm, if you're forced to settle for it, can attain to a semblance of utility with Ahriman's ability to cast it three times in one turn. And if you get Doombolt or Baleful Devolution, put your troll face on. Ahriman's biggest problem, though, is he doesn't have Eternal Warrior anymore and can be instakilled; rest assured your opponent will try immediately to do that, and those 230 points will have gone down the toilet.
You can have him ride around on a Disc of Tzeentch to up his Toughness to 5 and increase his mobility, which is highly recommended. When on Disc he can also do the "Gunship Sorcerer" trick where he runs alone, fires his witchfires on the guys you want to royally fuck up and then turbo-boosts 24" away, preferably behind a solid LoS in the shooting phase like a Jet-packing Tau Battlesuit on steroids. Be aware that it only works if the enemy have no super-fast units, deepstrikes or barrage weapons, but then nothing stops you from hiding him in a nice tough unit until all reserves are out and flyers are down, your hiding place is not observed by artillery spotters and it's safe to enter gunship mode. If you roll on Biomancy for Iron Arm/Warp Speed the Disc would also allow Ahriman to reach melee faster and be bolter-proof and generally a bitch to kill (T8) while doing so and also kill shit faster when he's in melee due to +1A that would really matter when your attacks hit like a lascannon.
3 powers and 3 denies with +1 to both rolls. Average in combat (he has still forgotten a power weapon equivalent) and his disc no longer provides him with extra toughness and, funnily, instead gives him an extra weakness and benefit by handing Ahriman the 'Daemon' key word (thus making him a tasty pastry to GK's and possibly Nurgle daemons but also able to be affected by the auras and spells of daemons of tzeentch). Also, the Black Staff now apparently adds nothing to his psychic potential. All in all, he's not what he was (and is far more a support psyker than an attack character, contrary to his entire history of having rules) but he also lost 100+pts from his cost to make up for it. Relative to his peers, GW's approach has not left him weaker but relative to other units in the game and the current bastardisation of psykers, Ahriman is a much weaker unit as a whole. He has a bubble effect, lending to the idea that a better tactic for Ahriman now may be to stick him just behind the advancing gun line in order to ward off anything too nasty with his ability to throw out some mortal wounds and to use warp time for effective counter attacks.
|Famous members of the Traitor Legions|
| Originating from
| Abaddon - Ahzek Ahriman - Argel Tal - Cypher - Doomrider - Eidolon |
Erebus - Fabius Bile - Honsou - Iskandar Khayon - Kharn - Kor Phaeron
Lheorvine Ukris - Lucius - Lugft Huron - Luther - Necrosius the Undying
Sevatar - Shon'tu - Svane Vulfbad - Talos - Typhus - Ygethmor - Zhufor
| Originating from
| Araghast the Pillager - Azariah Kyras - Bale - Crull - Eliphas The Inheritor |
Firaeveus Carron - Kain - Nemeroth - Neroth - Sindri Myr - Varius