"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
- – Noël Coward
"If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it."
- – Marcus Tullius Cicero
"Transmutemini de lapidibus mortuis in vivos lapides philosophicos - Changed from dead stones into living philosophical stones."
- – Gerhard Dorn
"I feel physical fucking pain whenever you speak, and I barely even have a nervous system."
Rogal Dorn, otherwise known as The Vigliant, Praetorian of Terra, Blade of the Emperor, Lord of the Phalanx, Castellan of Inwit, Best Treehouse Architect in the Galaxy, Crusader of Useless Exposition, Lord Adorable, The Unyielding One and Primarch and Sire of the Imperial Fists Chapter, which was a Legion before FUCKING HORUS fucked everything up. He is also regarded as being kind of an asshole towards his siblings and known for shouting "Castles! I like Castles!" in a Matt Damon way. He was reliably reliable. Except for that one time he got almost his entire legion slaughtered, on purpose.
The Imperial Fists are quite famous for fortifying the shit out of everything and INTENSE CAMPING which pisses off every other race. They are highly likely the reason that the Emprah didn't get raped by Horus during a certain (totally awesome) siege. His evil "twin" is Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors, who turned to Chaos because of his eternal envy of Dorn; Rogal and Perturabo had an intense rivalry which led to old Petty Perturabo hating him. Fulgrim asked Dorn if he could build a castle which Perturabo couldn't crack, and Dorn, being brutally honest, just said, "Yes." Well, that royally pissed off Pert, though despite what lovers of Perturabo say, Dorn wasn't boastful - the only fluff that says this is either from Pert's point of view, or coming from the mouth of someone who's being a kiss-ass to him. That being said, when it came to practice Perturabo DID crack the defenses of the Imperial palace Dorn built (to be fair at the time demons were NOT within calculations).
He also had problems with most of his other brothers as well; among the exceptions were Lion, Sanguinius, Fulgrim, Vulkan, Horus, Leman and Guilliman. Alpharius in particular resented him and Guilliman for being a pair of giant assholes that resembled the brutal, primitive, militant side of the Imperium that no one ever really liked (also Dorn killed Alpharius, so it's fair to assume that he's not on Omegon's Christmas card list either).
Primarchs are transcendent beings, holding a portion of the sublime and unknowable in their nature. All the qualities which seem strong in a warrior of a Legion exist more strongly, more deeply and with greater subtlety in a Primarch. Though spun from the seed of humanity, the Primarchs are not human. This nature often seems to enhance and focus the qualities gifted to a Legion by their gene-seed. So it is that at the moment at which Primarch and Legion unite, there is often a point at which a Legion's character may seem to shift. In the case of the Imperial Fists, the discovery of their Primarch, and the planet which had raised him, only strengthened the character the Imperial Fists had shown since their creation. When the 20 genetically-engineered nascent Primarchs were stolen from the Emperor's labs on Terra by the Ruinous Powers and cast into the Warp, they were scattered throughout the galaxy upon different worlds, which would shape the nature of each Primarch and later their individual Legions created from their genome. When the Primarch Rogal Dorn was restored to the Imperium, it was to be on the Ice World of Inwit located in the Inwit Cluster. Inwit was, and is, a world of death and cold. Its star is old and withered, bleeding the last of its heat as cold, red light. Tidally locked against its dying star, perpetual darkness soaks one side of the planet, faded sunlight the other. Crevasse mazes, frozen mountain ranges and plains of frost dunes cover the planet's dark side -- this is the Splintered Land, the beast-stalked wilderness which shapes the bodies and beliefs of the human population that clings to life here. Under the ice crust, thick seas flow in sluggish tides and pale and sightless creatures swim the waters, hunting by vibration and a preternatural taste for blood. Far above this desolation, great and ancient space stations and shipyards look down on the cold-shrouded worlds through perpetual auroras -- created in a lost past, these citadels of the void have looked down on Inwit since before any records or tales can recall. Whilst on the planet, the light side of Inwit offers little more comfort than the dark, being a land of drift-crusted saline seas and sparse bare rock under the unblinking gaze of the red sun.
There is little of value on Inwit; its seas are buried or lifeless, its mountain bare of riches and its native species vicious. There is, however, one thing that this harsh world produces that led it to conquer a star cluster and endure as an island empire of order in the Age of Strife: its people. Though they are barbaric, they are far from unsophisticated. The warriors of Inwit are raised to endure and survive. The world that bears them teaches them to never relent and that the price of weakness is death, for them and the rest of their kin. Death comes in many forms on Inwit; in the ice storms that can freeze and cover a man in seconds, at the claws of the predators that roam the Splintered Lands, and in the lapse in concentration that allows the cold to penetrate the warmth-seals of a hold. These factors make a certain kind of people: strong, grim and dedicated to the survival of the whole rather than the individual. Much of the world's population is nomadic, moving between the subterranean ice hives to trade in weapons, fuel and technology. Conflict between the roaming clans is common and young warriors learn how to defend against their clan's enemies as early as they learn how to endure the death touch of Inwit's merciless chill. They are incredibly quick learners and have an innate sense of an object's functional value and, most importantly, they have the strength and intelligence to conquer those who possess knowledge they do not.
Long ago, before the coming of the Emperor was even a dream on night-shrouded Terra, the people of Inwit began to create their own realm in the stars. On every world they took, they assimilated, realigned and reinforced. With each conquest their culture and learning grew, but Inwit itself remained unchanged even as it became the centre of a stellar empire. The ice hives and clan disputes remained and while their world birthed starships and ringed its orbits with weapon stations, its rulers kept to the old ways, the ways that had created their strength, the warlords and matriarchs who commanded armies amongst the living stars have it somewhat easier than their vassals. So it was, and so it is now.
It was as part of this burgeoning empire that Rogal Dorn grew to manhood, and then to rule its domains as emperor. Much of his early years remains unknown, or at least little talked about. It is, however, for certain that in the cold and darkness of Inwit, a boy named Rogal by his adoped kin, rose to lead the House of Dorn also known as the Ice Caste, and then to the rule of the Inwit Cluster. The patriarch of the clan that raised Dorn became an adoptive grandfather to him, and taught him much of tactics, strategy, and diplomacy. Even after he discovered he was not blood-related to his "grandfather," Dorn held his memory in high value; he kept a fur-edged robe that had belonged to the man and slept with it on his bed every night. His qualities married perfectly with those of Inwit, and he pushed their empire further than any other. Rogal led and trained its armies, and fashioned spacecraft the like of which had not been seen before. Side note: the Inwit system is probably the most underused cool subculture in the whole Imperium. Given that they had a fully functioning star empire, it's bizarre that we don't hear or see more about them.
The Coming of the Emperor
"Do not look to us for kindness. Do not look to us for hope. We are not the kind children of this new age. We are the rocks of its foundation. If you wish hope then look to what we make. If you wish kindness then look to those who will come after us."
- – Rogal Dorn, address to the Three Hundred Magistrates of Terra
Forty standard years after his grandfather's death, the outlying Imperial starships of the Great Crusade finally reached the Ice Hives of Inwit. When the true Emperor was reunited with Rogal Dorn, He regained not only a lost son, but the strength of a star spanning society already forged into a tool of war. Dorn greeted the Emperor at the helm of the enormous starship constructed during the Dark Age of Technology called the Phalanx, which the Emperor had discovered within Inwit's region of space. Dorn is the seventh of the twenty Primarchs who had been found by their father. The Emperor welcomed Dorn as his long-lost son, and returned the Phalanx to his care, transforming it into the mobile fortress-monastery of the VII Space Marine Legion which was also turned over by the Emperor to be led by Dorn, since all of its Astartes had been created using Dorn's own genetic template. Dorn himself was fiercely loyal to the Emperor from the first moment that they met on the bridge of the Phalanx, where they celebrated and ate turkey tacos, and he never once sought any favour from his father.
Dorn embodied the human quest for truth and could never tell a lie, even if it would have aided his cause. He was inflexible and brutally honest in all things, an exemplar of what humanity could aspire to under the guidance of the Emperor. Dorn's statue stands as one of only four ever erected on Macragge, next to that of Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. Dorn commanded the VII Legion and Expeditionary Fleets with peerless devotion and military genius. It was said that he possessed one of the finest military minds amongst the Primarchs, ordered and disciplined but still inclined to flashes of zeal and inspiration. The one person who could truly be considered his friend was the remembrancer Solomon Voss, who was one of the only people who could elicit a vague humour response from the Primarch (this came back to bite Dorn when Horus sent back a mentally broken Voss to make Dorn depressed when the Heresy started).
But since he was so loyal, he simply couldn't countenance anything even whiffing of disloyalty to Big.E and said inflexibility came back to bite him in the ass more than once. His relation with Malcador was rocky and needlessly conflictual because Malcador was willing to go lengths Dorn refused to countenance in order to protect the Emperor and Dorn just couldn't leave it alone. Perturabo's all-consuming hatred of him could have been lessened if Dorn's (otherwise correct!) assessments of him had been delivered with more subtlety than a punch to the face. His fight with Konrad Curze could have been avoided if he'd tried to reason with him rather than outright accusing him. When Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard told the primarch about Horus' betrayal, the thought of such a monumental betrayal to the Emperor broke Dorn's stoic facade, driving him to the brink of slaughtering the captain, despite the truth of his words.
After Horus was made Warmaster, Dorn and his Legion were ordered to head back to Terra and fortify the shit out of the place while the Emprah went about his Big Project. Before taking off, Dorn made some efforts to keep the other Primarchs on side and helped engineer Garviel Loken's appointment to the Mournival. He reasoned that Horus needed a "naysmith" or two to stop the position going to his head. Sadly this wasn't quite enough.
After being warned of the Heresy by Garro, Dorn and the majority of his legion began to fortify the Sol System. He did however send a huge part of his fleet in order to help at Istvaan, but due to unforeseen circumstances the fleet never reached Istvaan.
Despite being isolated from most the great battles of the Heresy, things were hardly peaceful for Dorn and the VII. Mars erupted into civil war, resulting in a regular stream of attacks from the surface in the form of interplanetary missiles, raiding fleets, and mountain sized shells shot into orbit. As the Heresy dragged on, raiding fleets from the outside probed the edges of the Sol System's defenses. Covert infiltrators gained access onto Terra, testing the security of the planet as well as preparing the way for Horus's inevitable attack. Even Alpharius himself led an attack on the system, whereupon Dorn (definitely) ultra-killed him with Storm's Teeth. Alpharius is actually DEAD. Omegon, half the galaxy away, sensed it and decided to adopt Alpharius's identity permanently, the rest is history. Or isn't, because Dorn had the whole affair covered up.
Matters were not helped by his disagreements with Malcador the Sigillite over the latter's methods of protecting Terra, which on more than one occasion led to direct conflicts between the forces they commanded. (To give you an idea, Big.E in person had to come in and make everyone fall in line when Dorn and Malcador got in a bit of a pickle about the existence and use of the Officio Assassinorum.)
It's also important to realize that Praetorian wasn't just a pretty title. During the Heresy, Dorn was in overall command of the Primarchs and the loyal Legions, at least in theory. In practice Russ, Corax, Sanguinius (when he finally arrived) and Jagathai Khan (only grudgingly) were the only ones who did what he said. The others were too busy being missing or dead, building their own empires, or pursuing vendettas. Dorn got the Fists of the Retribution Fleet and the White Scars back to Terra while directing the Space Wolves and Raven Guard to harass the Traitors on their way to the Throneworld and had tactical authority during the Siege of Terra. His decision making about the flow of resources, when to hold fast, and when to counterattack allowed the Palace to hold for as long as it did.
Though all of the stress did catch up to him. When Vulkan finally made it to Terra, Dorn confides in him that this is all too much and that he is having difficulties keeping it together. Vulkan, being the great bro that he is, gave him a hug!
During the Siege of Terra, Dorn was under a lot of stress, like a metric fuck ton. During The Solar War, he had to fight the Daemon Samus, while also having the Phalanx crippled and boarded by Daemons as he fought mostly alone, protecting a human Admiral and unlocking his Librarians. He also had to try and keep Jaghatai in the Palace. But when The Khan sallied out, he got real pissed off, but was thankful for the information which the Khan had brought them. He also bought time for forces to flee the Lion's Gate Space Port, whilst trolling Perturabo. His relationship with Sigismund got better over time. During the battle over the Saturnine Wall, they both beat up Fulgrim and a bunch of Fulgrim's Champions, including Eidolon. Dorn also had to save Sigismund before that, though it gave him an excuse to make an epic entrance.
During the Siege of Terra, Rogal went with the Emprah and Sanguinius to Horus's battle barge to face the traitor. When the Emprah totally fucked up Horus, Rogal "seemingly" came out of nowhere and saved his ass, then got all pissy about it because he was only a few seconds short, and found Sanguinius dead and the Emprah dying. Surprisingly, he did not turn into an Angry Marine, but still couldn't let go of his emotions, which Corax purportedly found painfully ironic. Once Guilliman arrived, Dorn transferred power to him in order to go all Black Templar on the collective asses of the Traitor Legions.
When Roboute Guilliman showed off the Codex Astartes and demanded that the Space Marine Legions break up into Chapters, Dorn led the opposition against it. He had not taken his inability to protect the Emperor well, and saw Bobby's announcement as a thinly veiled denouncement of his failure. He only submitted after the Ultramarines threatened to open fire on his fleet, deciding that tradition really wasn't worth starting another civil war over and that he couldn't afford to let himself wallow in his own grief.
Right before the Second Founding and after accepting to split up his Legion, Dorn declared to everyone that he'd capture his nemesis, Perturabo, and bring him back to Terra inside an iron cage. This would be the Imperial Fist's Legion swan song and the stepstone to the future. Pert then trolled Dorn by setting up the "Eternal Fortress", which was fortification after fortification that led into a fortress that Perturabo was residing in. It took the Imperial Fists three weeks to wade through the shit Perturabo set up. When his Imperial Fists strike force reached the actual fortress, it was actually empty - a giant, centrally-open kill-zone with virtually no cover - and with the Iron Warriors waiting in ambush. Suffice to say, the Imperial Fists then got their asses handed to them, and wound up having to use their fallen brethren for cover up until the Ultrasmurfs came in and rescued them. To their credit, they still managed to give the Iron Warriors so much trouble that wiping the Fists out completely would have required them to sacrifice most of their own legion, including Perturabo himself, but by the time they escaped the planet, the casualties that the Fists had taken were enormous.
Who actually claimed victory that day (if anyone) has been the subject of much discussion: To the Iron Warriors, the entire point of the Iron Cage trolling was to humiliate Dorn and his legion. Perturabo hated Dorn with a passion and wanted to see him broken down on his knees... Except that Dorn (in a sense) already was there, blaming himself for not being at the Emperor's side when he confronted Horus and failing Him; and nothing Perturabo ever could do to him could be worse than that. Dorn's actions after the Heresy were one of a man seeking atonement in death (conflict with Guilliman and taking of Pert's bait hook line and sinker)... except you don't find atonement by dying, but by setting whatever you fucked up right again the best you can. Perturabo got a consolation prize in the form of some Fist's gene-seed after the battle to bolster his Legion with and ascension to daemonhood but was denied his real desire of seeing Dorn broken. Dorn ironically emerged from the battle mentally stronger than he entered, at the cost of the lives of many of his sons right at the time where Chaos still needed some ass-kicking. Yeah, the whole Iron Cage thing kinda was one big clusterfuck like that. Two rocks crashing into each other, remaining mostly undamaged but crushing everything between them. The only one that could rightfully claim any form of 'victory' that day was Guilliman, for he prevented the Imperial Fists from dying to the last man and got Dorn to actively collaborate with him after that.
The surviving Fists then re-organized into Chapters, with the most zealous of their number going on their own under First Captain Sigismund as the Black Templars and the others (mostly) following Blue Boy's guidelines. Dorn himself kept on leading the Imperial Fists for the next couple of centuries.
Soon after this, Rogal got in a big-ass ship and got killed by Chaos Space Marines in one of the early Black Crusades. During this battle, Rogal boarded one of the ships and was swarmed and killed by an unholy amount of traitor marines. So the story goes anyway.
Fun fact: Black Watch RPG rulebook have a quote of Rogal Dorn, dating M40. Is this a typo, or did golden boy just fake his death and now rule Custodes operations, like some rumors claim?
The whole 'died in a zerg rush of World Eaters' doesn't make much sense anyway. If it was supposed to be Angron who killed Dorn, maybe that'd make sense. But just a pack of Marines? That's... Less likely, if only because it's unlikely that there actually were enough World Eaters left to pose any real threat to a Primarch. Before Istvaan there was something like 150,000 World Eaters, but they took big casualties, first on Istvaan III in their unsupported attacks on the loyalists, and losses again on Istvaan V, then AGAIN on Nuceria and one last time outside Big E's pimp crib, where Sanguinius was regrettably forced to choke a bitch en masse for a few days. Point is, if Dorn died (as he lived) beating the shit out of people less manly than him, then it was because he wanted to die. Or maybe Kharn was somewhere in that zerg rush, in which case anything could happen, because he is a pretty swell guy.
Is it really all that implausible though? After all, Russ' "lesson" to Angron relied on the premise that a bunch of bog-standard Astartes could take a Primarch down. Corvus was apparently nearly done in by the Night Lords on Isstvan V, and an Alpha Legion kill team came close to assassinating Guilliman in his own study on Macragge. Dorn's attackers would've been full Khornate Berserkers, possibly aided by Daemons. As for circumstances, Dorn had already led a bunch of hit-and-run attacks, so he was probably somewhat worn down already, and he was fighting in cramped spaces where his sheer size would have caused him problems. An Astartes can be killed by a lucky human with a pointy stick, so Dorn's death is sadly quite plausible. Tactically though, a cramped space also means only few enemies can attack you at any given moment, and World Eaters are not exactly known for using ranged weapons, so who knows...
But just to add fuel to the fire, in The Hunt For Vulkan in The Beast Arises, just before Vulkan jumps out a high flying Thunderhawk and beats gravity weapons and void shields with nothing but his manliness (and a hammer), he says this to Slaughter Koorland: "You fight well, Son of Dorn. You honour his name. I will tell him this." It's worth noting that throughout that book Vulkan is a little...off. But, assuming Vulkan isn't just confused, that could mean that Dorn is still alive and kicking, and that he has made contact with his fellow Primarchs, then we know that the Primarchs know where each other are. Of course it could also have been Vulkan's way of saying he expected to die on that mission and would speak to his dead brothers in the afterlife. Does this mean that because a certain spiritual liege has returned that all Primarchs will come back and kick ass?
Also, we have another "never found the corpse" case, which is the literal textbook example of a writer hinting that a character is just fine and is gunna come back into the story later. What really happened was his Magic Pain Glove told him to hide in the Imperial Palace, disguised as a Centurion until the time was right, or someone mentions the Space Wolves around Magnus.
(There is written evidence in the Horus Heresy Primarchs novel 'Konrad Curze' that Dorn is dead, and was ripped to pieces. Pg 34, however this is not to be trusted since the skeleton recovered from the incident has been revealed to be fake...meaning that it was likely a member of the Alpha Legion in disguise)
Who is Dorn?
From the B&C forums
I like the Imperial Fists and Rogal Dorn, although they haven't gotten much attention from the Heresy books. But, I like the idea of Dorn and his Legion. I like what I've read about them, and the image I have in my mind.
There was a post in the thread that said the Fists were boring, and Dorn was a jerk. It's not an uncommon sentiment and, while everyone is entitled to their reasons, I'd like to talk about mine. Been wanting to write something like this for a while, and this seems like a good excuse.
I guess you could say the Imperial Fists are boring. They're boring in the same way that a family man who works a 9-5 salary job every day is boring. He gets up early and goes to work like clockwork, and while he's there he works hard. A quiet worker. You don't hear much from him, unless it's related to something you need his help with or vice-versa. He puts in a lot of hours, he doesn't take many sick days or vacation days, and he never complains. He doesn't demand a raise, but he takes one when offered if he feels he earned it. He accepts gratitude and acknowledges it, but he does not expect it. He likes the work he does, he enjoys it, it gives him purpose. To his coworkers, he comes off as cold and distant. You never see him shooting the breeze at the water cooler, he's not on the company softball team, he doesn't come to the after-work parties. But he's not aloof, he doesn't think he's better than anyone. He's just busy. The boss gives him a lot of work to do, and he keeps at it until it's done. And he's doing work for others, too, because he has an unbreakable will to complete his projects. Where others throw up their hands in surrender, where others say it can't be done, he finds a way. It's not always a pretty solution, or an elegant one, but he will get it done because that's what he does.
When he goes home, he spends time with his family. He loves his sons. He works as hard with them as he does for his boss. He teaches them how to be good men, how to succeed in life, to never stop trying until you find a way to get it done. Never give in, never surrender, never stop fighting for what you believe in. As cold as he is at work, he opens up when he's with his sons. Not too much, because they crave an authority figure, but he cares deeply for them. He helps them how he can, imparts all his wisdom. He has high expectations of them, but he doesn't need to point out their failures. His sons know full well their weaknesses, and they are harder on themselves than he could ever be. They're just like him, in that way. Then he gets up the next morning, and does it all again.
To his coworkers, to his neighbors, to you he is boring and dull. To his boss, he's the man you can count on, rely on, depend upon to do any job you ask him. Even if he doesn't know how, he'll figure it out. To his sons, he's an inspiration, a loving father, an immovable foundation for their lives. To them, he's anything but boring.
It's unfortunate that the Imperial Fists are known only for their siege warfare, because they were good at so many other things. They were just as fierce in close combat, boarding actions, armor assaults and drop pod formations as anyone else. But not all combat can be glorious. War sometimes requires dirty, grueling work. The other Legions thought it beneath them that it should be left to lesser beings. But Dorn would never ask someone to do something he, himself, would not. So when the siege work and grinding urban warfare came to him, as it inevitably did, he accepted it. Dorn was happy to do whatever his father, the Emperor, and the Imperium needed him to do. He was just happy to do his father's work, as were the Imperial Fists. They would have been content to mop floors and wash windows, if that's what was needed of them. They welcomed the burden of duty.
There was another Legion that was similar, of course. Perturabo and the Iron Warriors were also known as siege specialists and urban combatants. They, too, willingly fed themselves into that vicious meatgrinder where others would not. But Perturabo did not do it for duty, or for loyalty; he did it searching for glory. He thought that taking the jobs no one else would do would bring him glory and favor. But when it didn't come, his heart grew bitter. Unlike his brother, he expected gratitude. He felt ignored, cheated, denied, forgotten. This was why he and Dorn bickered. For while Dorn may not have often smiled, nor did he frown. He simply did what was asked, with his jaw set to the task, unable to smile and laugh in the most recent victory because his mind was already turned to the things that needed to be done and those things that could have been done better. Dorn thought his brother should have been happy to serve the Emperor's will, as was Dorn himself. He did not understand why Perturabo felt he needed more.
Dorn was many things, but a glib speaker was not one of them. He loved his brothers dearly, and the only thing he loved more than his brothers were the Emperor and the Imperium. Rogal was the sort of man that knows what he wants to say, but has difficulties expressing his thoughts the way he wants to. He always admired Horus and Sanguinius for their speaking ability and charisma. It was this inability to express himself, and a perspective that was stubbornly rooted in his own place, that caused friction amongst his fellow Primarchs, as well as ruling him out as a potential Warmaster. He never meant to quarrel with Perturabo, for there was a deep kinship there, but Dorn could not understand that, for some, duty was just not enough. When he said the Imperial Palace could withstand an Iron Warrior attack, he meant it as a general who was defending a structure he, himself, had built. Dorn would have greater insight than Perturabo into the layout, its strengths, its weaknesses. If Perturabo had built it, Dorn would have said he could not take it for the same reasons. But his brother had already taken insult, and it cut deeply that Dorn had inadvertently hurt his brother so.
He had a similar problem with Konrad. Dorn knew his brother had led a difficult life prior to being found by the Emperor, and he knew the Night Haunter was deeply troubled. Rogal did not pity him, because pity is reserved for those things seen as lesser than yourself and Dorn did not see himself as superior to anyone--especially not his brothers. But he did care for Konrad in his own way, and hoped his brother would find peace for his troubled mind. When Fulgrim shared Konrad's disturbing vision, he did not intend to fight with him. Dorn was wounded that Konrad would think so little of the Emperor, who was the only being Dorn loved more than his brothers (Konrad included). He only wanted to remind Konrad that the Emperor loved them, that He would never do such things. Dorn wanted to say he was sure Konrad's visions were horrifying, but that did not make them true and the Haunter should know the difference. But, Dorn could not express himself that way. He came across as accusatory, aggressive, hateful. It came as a complete shock when Konrad attacked him and, as with Perturabo, Dorn would look back at his words and actions with a heart full of regret. If only he had his brothers' way with words, he would have known the right thing to say.
But, Dorn was a soldier first, foremost and always. While his brothers pursued other things like art, governing, crafting, magic, religion, Dorn focused on being a warrior and a general. In his mind, that was what the Emperor needed them to be at that time. Books, politicking, forges and statues would not reconquer the galaxy. This was a sticking point between himself and Guilliman, though the two otherwise got along well. Guilliman liked to argue they could not be soldiers forever. When peace came, they would have to be leaders. What Dorn saw was his brother putting his cart before the horse. Peace had not yet been won. Humans still existed in darkness beyond the Imperium's light. Aliens continued to defy Mankind's destiny. There would come a time for Astartes to do other things, to be other things, but this was not that time. Now they needed to go forth and conquer, with minds free of other pursuits that would only cloud their judgment. As much as anything else, fixating on the need to conquer and secure the Galaxy kept Dorn free from troublesome questions about his nature and potential; questions that frightened him, although he's only known to have admitted this to Garviel Loken. It was a problem with Lorgar as well. Dorn understood Aurelian's love and devotion to the Emperor, for he shared it as deeply, but Lorgar's worship went contrary to their father's wishes. And Dorn put his father's wishes above everyone's. Including his brothers'. Including his own.
I've talked a lot about Dorn's good sides, but he wasn't perfect and he would have been the first to admit it. He had his pride, his honor, his narrow focus, his stubborn nature, his serious demeanor that put distance between him and his brothers. Rogal knew these things for he was more aware of his faults than anyone else. That was why he made the Pain Glove, to purge the weakness from him even when that weakness was imagined.
I hear a lot of people talk about Dorn being "emo", and it's difficult for people who haven't punished themselves to understand. Those with a history of self-harm, I think, can relate well to Dorn's mentality (I want to pause long enough to say you should not harm yourself. You are a way cool person. If you feel the need to hurt yourself, talk to someone about it. This is going to sound like glorifying the act, which I am, but in the context of understanding a fictional character. Don't self-harm, please). Pain can be a purifying thing, a tool to focus the mind, to strengthen the spirit and a way to ensure you won't make the same mistake again. Cultures today are filled with these ideas. We spank children because pain is the ultimate teacher. We say things like "No pain, no gain" and "Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving the body". Movies glorify characters who are shot, stabbed, break bones and dislocate joints yet grit their teeth and carry on to save the day. We brag about having a high pain tolerance and, like alcohol tolerance, there is only one way to build it. You must drink deep, and often.
Besides, how else could Dorn and his Fists punish themselves? They are Astartes, they own no possessions to take away. They have no privileges to revoke. You can't ground them from fighting because that's the entire reason they were made. You can't kill them because that's wasting the Emperor's resources. You can't physically wound them because they must be in peak condition to wage war. But Dorn found a way to inflict pain without damage, because an Astartes or Primarch damaging their flesh is spitting in the face of the Emperor to whom their body belongs.
Think about this: Imperial Fists willingly go into the Pain Glove for every mistake they make, real or imagined. The Pain Glove is said to feel like your entire body is submerged in liquid fire. And they do this to themselves, for minutes at a time, up to an hour. Can you imagine wearing napalm for an hour, willingly? Can you imagine doing it for a minute? Ten seconds? That's why the Imperial Fists are impossible to break, because there is no pain you can inflict upon them that is greater than that which they inflict upon themselves. As the Joker says in Dark Knight, "You have nothing to threaten me with."
One more thing I'd like to discuss, and then I'll be finished with this lengthy monologue.
The Iron Cage is something you hear a lot about, if you're a fan of Dorn or the Imperial Fists. It will inevitably be discussed. "Dorn was being an emo jerk", "The Ultramarines saved their butts", "The Iron Warriors tricked them because the center was a shooting gallery", "The Imperial Fists and Dorn would have been wiped out if Perturabo wasn't too busy gloating", "Dorn went crazy and forced his Legion into a meatgrinder they never recovered from".
I hope I've helped explain who Rogal Dorn was, because to understand why the Iron Cage happened you have to understand Dorn. It wasn't a pleasant time in his life. It was his absolute lowest point. He alone saw what Horus became in the he end, and lived to tell of it - he understood better than anyone how far the Imperium's greatest hero had fallen. Half his brothers had betrayed the Imperium, and it was Dorn that retrieved fallen Sanguinius, a brother he loved and admired, and the mortally wounded Emperor. His father, who he loved most. It was Dorn that heard his last words, who carried out his final wishes. Dorn, who loved the Emperor more than any other Primarch, had to carry the burden of his father's shattered body to the tomb of the Golden Throne. And with it, he knew, he was entombing his father's vision of the Imperium. It weighed heavily upon him, and Dorn blamed himself for it. Even though it wasn't his fault, even though there was nothing he could have done to prevent it, even though no one could have changed the outcome, he blamed himself. He took that burden upon himself, because he was used to carrying burdens. Dorn's shoulders were broad, and the Imperium rested well upon them. That raised eagle above his armor was far more than decoration; in his mind, he and his Legion shouldered the responsibility of fulfilling the Emperor's vision. He carried the Imperium on his shoulders, as did the Imperial Fists, and they could only blame themselves as they began to pick up the pieces.
Dorn knew what the Iron Cage was because, while he had faults, being stupid was not one of them. He knew it was a trap; that it was a battle that could not be won--it could only be endured. It was a Pain Glove for himself and the Fists. You don't go into the Glove to win. It's not something you can beat. It is an act of atonement, of purification.
It can only be endured.
Guilliman had convinced the High Lords that the Legions must be broken, that Chapters must be formed from their remains, but the Imperial Fists did not want to separate. It would mean leaving their father, who had been a constant presence in their lives. It would mean throwing the last handful of dirt upon the memory of the Great Crusade. Yet they were given no choice. The Navy had fired upon them. Guilliman had called them traitors. Guilliman, who did not bleed to defend the Imperial Palace. Guilliman, who did not carry the body of the Emperor from that cursed ship. Guilliman, who did not hear the last words of the Emperor and they said nothing of Chapters. Guilliman, who had finally become the politician he yearned to be.
With no other recourse, the Imperial Fists did the only thing they could. They would rather die as Legionnaires than live as something lesser, in their minds, than what the Emperor intended. They went to the Iron Cage without planning, for winning was never the goal of it. Sure, Dorn had said he would bring Perturabo to Terra in an iron cage, but he couldn't make his brothers understand the true reasons. He would have brought Perturabo back if events had transpired that way, but it wasn't why he went.
The Ultramarines didn't save them from anything. The Imperial Fists wanted to suffer, to bleed, to atone for their perceived failure, to die as their beloved Emperor had died. But, the Iron Warriors weren't up to the task. Whether out of fear of the price required, whether out of perverse satisfaction of watching the last battle of their hated Legion rivals (A hatred that was never reciprocated), they could not go through with it. They would have fled before being forced to spend the last of their lives, which would have robbed them of the glory they so desperately wanted, or they would have gotten bored and left. There was no way the Imperial Fists could have won the Iron Cage but, for the same reason, there was no way for them to be beaten. No matter what else you hear, believe this: the Imperial Fists and Dorn were not broken that day. They were reborn, in the way only being submerged in liquid fire for minutes on end can give a man new life. They forgave themselves for the Heresy, and set their minds to new tasks. They readied themselves for new burdens.
For the shoulders of the Imperial Fists are broad, and the Imperium rests well upon them.
Once, I didn't care about Dorn and his Legion. I thought they were dull and boring. But, now, they're my favorite Primarch and Legion. I hope, even if you don't agree, you will understand my reasons.
Additional notes: Dorn was similar to Mortarion in that he tended to keep a lid on his emotions. The only time we see him get angry is when Nathaniel Garro and Iacton Qruze deliver the Heresy news (admittedly he does punch Garro across the room and almost splits him down the middle with his chainsword), and although he vents hard after seeing the proof, it happens in private. There's a nice bit of contrast when he's faced with recordings of Horus' atrocities and left rather shell-shocked.
Soul Drinkers and other Adopted Marines
It is revealed during the Heresy that it was Dorn's idea to wipe everyone's mind of the memories of the Two Missing Primarchs and divide their Legions up between the Fists and Ultramarines. One Chapter, the Soul Drinkers, was discovered to not possess Dorn's geneseed.
The Emperor's Praetorian allows all Imperial Fists to use his Ld for morale and pinning tests, while also granting a +d3 bonus to the outcome of assault results for himself and his Legion as long as he's in play. In addition to that, he also makes Phalanx Breacher Squads and Legion Terminator Squads Troop choices and he (along with his squad) has the Crusader and Furious Charge special rules. Sundering Blow acts like a powered-up Smash, halving Dorn's attacks to boost his strength by 2 and giving Instant Death, while Unshakable Defense allows you to pick three fortifications to enhance; these fortifications will allow units hiding in them to reroll pinning tests and cover saves of 1. This makes him good in a defensive army with fortifications, which is 80% of what the Fists are about, but Rogal himself is a melee powerhouse fit to go with a squad of Templars or Storm Shield Terminators, which is the other 20% of the Fists.
Dorn gets the following wargear: Auric Armor, that gives him a 2+/4++, and no attack can wound Rogal Dorn on a roll better than a 3+, regardless of any special rules it has. (This doesn't apply to Strength D weapons). Storm's Teeth is an AP2 melee weapon with Shred and Rampage, which previously was Unwieldy for no discernible reason, but now makes Dorn suffer -1 initiative in close combat, but he gains +1 attack provided someone is in base contact with him and The Voice of Terra is a S5 AP4 gun with Salvo 3/5 (so no shooting and assaulting) and Rending. Lastly, he gets access to his own pimped ride, the Aetos Dios, a modified Thunderhawk usable in games of 3000+ points as a dedicated transport. The Aetos Dios is armed with a Turbolaser and also has a single void shield, IWND, and a 4+ invulnerable save against all missile attacks. Like Perturabo's Tormentor, it doesn't take up a Lord of War slot. Finally, as of the latest FAQ he has a Teleportation Transponder, so he can deep strike in with said Storm Shield Terminators.
He's in the top 2 or 3 Primarchs for his points. He's reasonably tanky, and even with only 4 base attacks, Reaping Blow and Rampage make him one of the harder Primarchs to tarpit. Furthermore, the combat resolution bonus is very powerful in 30k, as is Ld10 for Morale. These combine to make the Fists considerably more resilient in melee, while Unshakable Defense is good for Tank Hunter Heavy Support Squads. However, several of his special rules provide anti-pinning bonuses, but Fists are immune to pinning while in cover now (though he'll still benefit allies, such as Blood Angels and White Scars with his buffed up terrain). That's not to say this makes him bad; his morale rules are comparable to Lorgar or Fulgrim, and his Phalanx Warders are good troops choices. All this means that he's somewhat undercosted, though his comparatively low mobility and few base attacks mean he isn't straight-up broken.
Rogal Dorn VS other Primarchs:
Primarch fighting, while fun to see, isn't a very competitive thing to do as it'll usually tie up both Primarchs for the entire game without either of them dying. With that in mind this section is about how Rogal Dorn fares against other Primarchs Mathhammer wise. Please note that all the various abilities are taken into accounts when possible and the match-ups assume the Primarchs are the only ones involved in the fighting, so various abilities like Angron's "The Butcher's Nails" and Rampage do not provide any bonuses. In essence, the fights are supposed to happen in a "Vacuum" for simplicity, but notes are added to make things clearer in particular instances. Also, all of the Primarchs use their most powerful weapons (because why have a contest if you don't do your best?). Note: Dorn doesn't use Sundering Blow because against Primarchs it would be weaker than his normal attacks. (an additional note: since this is only statistical analysis in a vacuum, it fails to take into consideration special rules that Rogal Dorn would get if he charges and is outnumbered. These special rules given under said circumstances would actually result in Rogal Dorn being able to beat many more Primarchs)
- Rogal Dorn VS Horus
- Horus hits 3 times (Talon), wounds 2.667 times, 1.333 after saves and IWND will take that down to 1 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2 times and wounds 1.5 times, 0.5 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.222 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- As always, Horus takes down the challenger without problems.
- Rogal Dorn VS Angron
- Angron Round 1: hits 5.333 times, wounds 3.556 times, 1.778 after saves, and IWND take it down to 1.444.
- Angron Round 2 and thereafter: hits 4 times, wounds 2.667 times, 1.333 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 1 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.625 wounds after saves and FNP and IWND will take that down to 0.291 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses.
- Rogal Dorn vs Mortarion
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666, 0.833 wounds after saves and 0.5 wounds after IWND.
- Dorn hits 2.666 times, wounds 1.48 times, 0.74 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.185 wounds at the start of the next turn
- Dorn loses.
- Rogal Dorn vs Fulgrim
- Fulgrim hits 4.5 times, wounds 3, 1.5 wounds after saves and 1.167 wounds after IWND.
- Dorn hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.5 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.167 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses again.
- Rogal Dorn vs Ferrus Manus
- Ferrus hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.667 times, 0.833 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.5 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2.667 times, wounds 1.481 times, 0.494 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.16 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses.
- Rogal Dorn VS Vulkan
- Vulkan hits 2 times, wounds 1.333 times, 0.667 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.333 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2.667 times, wounds 1.481 times, 0.494 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses.
- Rogal Dorn VS Lorgar
- Lorgar hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.833 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.5 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Rogal Dorn Round 1: hits 2.37 times , wounds 1.579 times, 0.789 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.456 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Rogal Dorn Round 2: hits 2.666 times, wounds 2 times, 1 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.667 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn wins this fight.
- Note: as always, no psychic powers.
- Rogal Dorn VS Perturabo
- Perturabo hits 2 times, wounds 1.333 times, 0.667 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.333 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.5 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.167 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses. The rivalry continues...
- Rogal Dorn vs Konrad Curze
- Curze hits 3 times, wounds 2.25 times, 1.125 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.792 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.75 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.417 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses.
- Rogal Dorn vs Alpharius
- Alpharius hits 2.92 times and wounds 1.701 times, 0.851 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.517 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2.667 times, wounds 2 times, 1 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.667 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn actually wins, just like in the fluff.
- Rogal Dorn VS Corvus Corax
- Corvus hits 4 times (Scourge)/3 times (Shadow-walk), wounds 3 times (Scourge)/2.25 times (Shadow-walk), 1.5 wounds (Scourge)/1.125 wounds (Shadow-walk) after saves and IWND will take that down to 1.167/0.792 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn hits 2.667/2 times and wounds 2/1.5 times, 1.333/1 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 1/0.667 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Even without factoring in Hit & Run bonus, Dorn still loses, even if not by much.
- Rogal Dorn VS Roboute Guilliman
- Guilliman Round 1/2: hits 2.5 times, wounds 2.222 times, 1.111 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.778 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Guilliman Round 3 and thereafter: hits 3.333 times, wounds 2.963 times, 1.482 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 1.148 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn Round 1: hits 2.666 times, wounds 2 times, 0.5 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.167 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn Round 2 and thereafter: hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.375 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.042 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses badly.
- Rogal Dorn VS Leman Russ
- Russ hits 4 times, wounds 3 times, 1.5 time after saves, plus 0.583 wounds from Sever Life for a whole 2.083 wounds and IWND will take that down to 1.75 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn round 1: hits 1.333 times, wounds 1 times, 0.50 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.177.
- Dorn Round 2 and thereafter: hits 0.667 times, wounds 0.5 times, 0.25 times after saves and IWND will take that down to -0.083.
- Dorn loses hard.
- Rogal Dorn VS Jaghatai Khan
- Jaghatai hits 4 times, wounds 2 times, 1 wound after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.666
- Dorn hits 2.667 times, wounds 1.481 times, 0.494 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.16 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Khan beats Dorn.
- Rogal Dorn VS Sanguinius
- Dorn hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.75 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.417 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Sanguinius (Encarmine Blade) Round 1: hits 4.667 times, wounds 4.148 times, 2.074 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 1.741 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Sanguinius on the charge: hits 5.333 times, wounds 5.407 times (HoW affected by Auric Armour), 2.704 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 2.37 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Sanguinius Round 2+: hits 4 times, wounds 3.556 times, 1.778 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 1.444 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Dorn loses badly.
- TLDR version: Seriously, it depresses me to no end to see the Praetorian in such a sorry state. Statistically, he would lose to any other Primarch barring Alpharius and Lorgar (without powers), even those whose entire gimmick in lore is "great at asymmetrical warfare but gets fucked up in a direct confrontation" like Corax and Curze, meaning he is actually one of the weakest Primarchs. He doesn't lose really badly in most fights, meaning he isn't easily put down during a normal game. Even though he is not strong in Primarch vs Primarch duels, he is still very lethal against anything else (he has special rules which don't affect the duel like furious charge and Rampage which means he can get 9 strength 7 attacks on the charge if outnumbered) and is the third cheapest Primarch who also gives a lot to his Legion, so in the end it all balances itself pretty well.
|The Primarchs of the Space Marine Legions|
| Loyalist |
Corvus Corax - Ferrus Manus - Jaghatai Khan
Leman Russ - Lion El'Jonson - Roboute Guilliman
Rogal Dorn - Sanguinius - Vulkan
| Traitor |
Alpharius/Omegon - Angron - Fulgrim -
Horus - Konrad Curze/Night Haunter - Lorgar
Magnus the Red - Mortarion - Perturabo