Magnus the Red
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief."
- – Ecclesiastes 1:18
"The fatal flaw in every plan is the assumption that you know more than your enemy."
- – Volrath
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."
- – Woody Allen
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
- – Ancient Terran Proverb
"I'm the bad guy? How'd that happen?"
Magnus the Red, "Master of Prospero" (a.k.a The Crimson King, the Sorcerer-King, Cyclopean Magnus, or the Red Cyclops, My Special Magny Magic) is the primarch of the Thousand Sons and rules over the Planet of the Sorcerers, and formerly Prospero. He is directly after the Emperor the mightiest Psyker/Sorcerer in the whole Warhammer 40k Universe. He is notable for having an enormously variable physical form with a few common themes he keeps to most of the time (red skin and hair, one eye, etc) and being enormously, staggeringly, almost unbelievably arrogant, and with his shifting physical form and his hubris he's a real chip off the old block. Because of this there is debate over if he had a big ol' red eye in the middle of his forehead, or had normal eyes but one socket was empty. Either way he was a cyclops (The colour of his single eye is also described as constantly changing). He is also the Primarch of the Blood Ravens (maybe), which would explain their color scheme, high percentage of psykers, and that they steal everything that isn’t nailed down. Of all the Primarchs, with the exception of Vulkan, Sanguinius and Jaghatai Khan, Magnus was one of the most open minded and compassionate to the discriminated, being a psyker and all.
He, along with old Morty, are among the few traitor Primarchs who actually hate/despise their respective Chaos Gods. Mortarion for his general disdain for all things psychic in nature, and Magnus for being humiliated and played like a damn fiddle by Tzeentch. Then again, being a Daemon Prince does make even the idea of doing so impossible by definition, so instead he's chosen to blame the Imperium for pushing him to the side of the traitors.
The Great Crusade
Magnus landed on the planet of Prospero, a planet whose ancient civilization was composed predominantly of psykers, who had fled there because they were persecuted by humanity at large for being psykers. As Magnus was himself such a being, he formed a kinship with the people of Prospero in short order. Taken in by Prospero's people, he absorbed knowledge like a sponge, and became crazy powerful, and in time far exceeded the power and control of all of his teachers. After a while, he became the single most powerful thing on the fucking planet, and he led a campaign to eradicate a race of predators on Prospero known as the Psychneuein, which had overrun many of Prospero's early cities, and had an unhealthy fondness for laying their eggs in unsuspecting psykers' brains. Which was probably why the beasts had destroyed the entire population of Prospero, save for its capital city, Tizca. One by one, bit by bit, Magnus' forces retook the planet, putting the Psychneuein to the sword, and within a year, Magnus had mostly reclaimed the entire world (except for the Desolation of Prospero, which was everything except for Tizca).
Once the campaign on the Psychneuein was complete, Magnus became the planetary leader by popular demand. Magnus decided to be fucking awesome, and rebuilt the cities (or mostly just Tizca). Like a somehow perfectly stable fortress lasting some 50 years in Dwarf Fortress, Tizca became arguably the most beautiful city in Imperial space, with crystalline spires and pyramids, long marble roads, and psychically-resonant crystals in key locations; designed to calm the turbulent minds of younger psykers and help them control their burgeoning psionic potential. The city quickly became known as a shining jewel of humanity, and one that showed proudly how far its citizens had come from the brink of near-extinction. Prospero also had one of the most technically advanced defensive networks in the Imperium, all of which was hilariously wasted except for the shields when Magnus, in a fit of Primarch-scale angst over his "I screwed everything Dad was doing and failed my purpose entirely in the process" whoopsy-daisy, decided that the Space Wolves should get the rabbit punch.
All this time, Magnus continued to codify and systematize everything he could about the 'Great Ocean' - the name the Prosperans had given the Warp. Huge libraries filled with knowledge about psychic powers and the warp were established, and Magnus himself used his powers to peer into the Empyrean itself, claiming many of its secrets, though at terrible risk to himself. While this was exceptionally dangerous, much of what the Imperium's Inquisition currently knows about the Warp came directly from several of his manuscripts that survived.
With such a powerful mind heading into the warp, it was inevitable that the Emprah (who happened to be out and about the galaxy looking for his lost sons) would eventually take notice. So he eventually came to Prospero, and he and Magnus psychically brofisted before talking for several days. The Emperor taught him even more about psychic powers, but cautioned Magnus to be slow and purposeful, since foul horrors lurked in the warp and liked nothing better than forcibly sodomizing an unprepared Psyker's soul. Magnus took much of this to heart - but what the Emperor did not know was why - Magnus' forays into the warp had already come at a price - his right eye, sacrificed ala Odin when he had consorted with warp-entities whose nature he did not understand until the Emperor explained shit.
Magnus was put in charge of the Thousand Sons, but would not immediately embark on the Great Crusade - since many of his Legion were psykers, and there had been so many small mutations that a number of them couldn't survive the gene-seeding process. Even worse, during combat, psykers ran the risk of losing control of their powers and underwent "Flesh Change", where their body mutated rampantly out of control at all the Warp energy running through them (we call them something else, but won't speak its name as... wait, I didn't say it's naSHHTLSUROHSONTOOLS!)
Magnus was aware of the mutations his Astartes were suffering, and entered the Warp to seek answers about the cause of this and if a cure existed, though he didn't know that he had consorted with Tzeentch by doing so, and the god of Just as planned saw a lot of potential in this one. In return for knowledge and a way to stop the flesh-change, Magnus lost his eye so hard that he never saw it coming (ah-ha-ha-ha!!).
In any case, because of the setbacks that had befallen the Thousand Sons, the selfless efforts of Magnus to save them, their shared psychic talents, and the continuing distrust and persecution of many Imperial agencies and other Space Marine Legions towards the Thousand Sons' use of psychic abilities and the rampant mutations present in their gene-seed, the Primarch and his Astartes developed an extremely close emotional and psychic bond. One of the strongest among all Primarchs and their Space Marine Legions, exceeding even the Luna Wolves' dedication to Horus.
Finally, about midway into the Great Crusade (100 Terran years after it had begun), the now "stable" Thousand Sons Legion (although numbering only 10,000 soldiers), with Magnus leading them on the field, were permitted to take part in the campaign as part of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet. And it was glorious. When they were deployed, the Sons were a sight to behold, flinging psychic storms to consume their enemies and striking bolts with precision and prescience, using their abilities to ascertain enemies' weak-points. Magnus was unique among the Primarchs in that he would always try diplomatic routes first, however - in this way, the Thousand Sons won many battles without so much as a shot fired. This did not sit well with Rogal Dorn or Girlyman, who viewed this approach "unmanly". Likewise, Magnus drew constant distrust from Mortarion and Leman Russ, who distrusted the Sons' sorcerous ways and were somewhat concerned of a trait the Sons had picked up: after conquering or annexing a world, they would take huge amounts of knowledge: books, scrolls about forgotten /forbidden lore, and ancient artifacts, back to Prospero for study, analysis and codification. And this doesn't sound like the Blood Ravens, you say? Nicking everything shiny that's not nailed down? Point is: nobody looted so prolifically as The Thousand Sons. The White Scars and Blood Angels aligned themselves with them to rig the Librarium. What that did was to actually impose some restraint on psykers, that made everyone a bit more accepting towards them. Their worries only intensified when it was discovered that the Sons had little warp critters (familiars) called "tutelaries" buzzing around them and acting as warp power-packs.
When diplomacy didn't work, The Sons were known to fuck entire armies with lightning, fireballs, mass mind-control, precognition of enemy strikes and counter them with precision strikes, dealing so much devastation with only some few squads of Marines. Magnus himself once fought Ork gargants by himself, and despite being able to zap, melt or transmute their hulls with just the power of his mind, he instead scaled himself to the size of a Warlord-class Titan, and beat the shit out of them with his bare hands.
A very important event called "Council of Nikaea" or "The Prosecution of Magnus the Red", took place about 50 years before the Horus Heresy, where Magnus was called by his brothers and the Emperor to answer for abusing his powers and to install some form of control of psykers used in battle across the galaxy. The fact that the Sons obsessed with preserving valuable knowledge (whatever the source), was another factor that pissed a bunch of Primarchs off. The Thousand Sons' political opponents among other Astartes Legions found hoarding xenos' artifacts useless and counter-productive to the goals of the Great Crusade (which actually more or less sought to eradicate all alien life in the galaxy). Finally, the Emperor stepped in, bitch-slapped everyone for acting like a fucking child (irony!), and pointed out that whilst dangerous, psychic powers were still necessary to the Imperium as a whole So psykers were now to abstain from using their powers in battle. The ever fabulous Jaghatai Khan facepalmed his high forehead, whilst groaning, that this is exactly what he'd warned Magnus about. Magnus was ticked off, but calmed down a bit a little later and continued the Crusade with the new restrictions in place (actually, they carried out their arcane ways in secret).
When Magnus learned that Horus intended to betray the Emperor and slaughter like half the galaxy, he resolved to use any method possible to warn the Emperor. With few other options, he made a deal with Tzeentch again, to combine their powers and smash the psychic seal The Emperor had installed to protect the Webway from the warp (Magnus simply did not bother to walk around the Wall through one of the entrances that the Webway has) and enter the Imperial Palace all the way from Prospero. Unfortunately, this deed majorily fucked up the Webway project the Emperor had been working on for over 9000 years, which would have made the dangerous warp-travel obsolete and would unify the Imperium of Man using a human-engineered version of the Eldar Webway gate. Big E called Magnus out and banished him back for breaking the law and using sorcery to get through the Webway. The dick didn't even listen to Magnus about Horus's betrayal and declared Magnus a DOUBLE HERETIC. Magnus realized that the Imperium is comprehensively fucked and that he needed to do all he could to protect it and Prospero. Emps should probably have told his super-psychic son about his psychically-sensitive all-important project THAT MAGNUS WAS DESTINED TO OPERATE, but that would make nobody happy, wouldn't it?
When Horus learned of this, he was quietly amused. The Emperor ordered Horus to have Russ bring Magnus back to Terra to stand trial for what he had done, and Horus being a dick, quietly altered Russ' orders to lay waste to Prospero instead and slaughter the Thousand Sons. As Magnus was already officially a (slightly tolerated) heretic, Russ stoically accepted the order to bring a third of his brothers down. (Seriously, Constantin Valdor is way more out for Magnus' blood than Russ himself is.) Russ took his whole Legion to the party, and accompanying the Space Wolves were a full contingent of Adeptus Custodes (led by aforementioned Valdor), millions of Imperial Army troops and an elite anti-psyker unit: the Sisters of Silence (think a unit of Culexus Assassins and you get the general idea). Barring a last-ditch attempt to Skype Magnus through Kasper Hawser, an agent that had been brainwashed to visit Fenris and spy on the wolves that Magnus was not connected to(because reasons).
Interestingly Russ actually attempted to contact Magnus and his legion several times in an attempt to get them to explain their actions, and even when he was directly above the planet he kept sending Magnus calls to try and get him to just talk to him, but Magnus had put the planet on lockdown and kept denying any contact with the fleet, which royally pissed off Russ. A shame too, if he said fucking anything he probably could have stopped his people from getting fucked.
Magnus, sensing this and realizing that this had been Just as planned by Tzeentch and that it has done this to completely destroy both the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves, decided to counter-dick-move the Lord of All Fate. Instead of calling Russ back and peacefully working out what had happened (which would have solved everything), he decided to accept the destruction of everything that he had worked for, so that Tzeentch's ultimate goal would only be half-fulfilled, because letting your enemy accomplish half of what they want and making the Imperium far more vulnerable to Horus is better than making them fail and giving your traitor brother a harder time. Tzeentch was richly amused by this. As Prospero burned, Tzeentch and Magnus engaged in act after act of dickery and counter-dickery; with Magnus finally pushed into a towering rage and taking to the battlefield at his capital: crushing his enemies with volleys of MIND BULLETS (forgetting the whole reason he refused to talk to Russ), before he engaged Leman Russ himself in close-combat. The two fought fiercely and Magnus managed to Falcon pawnch Russ so hard, his breastplate shattered and one of his hearts punctured. Russ got lucky and took out Magnus' second eye, and then performed a back-breaker on him that ended the fight. Tzeentch was greatly amused by all of this because it's rare for anyone, let alone a mortal, to predict and out-manipulate the plans of the Architect of Fate himself. He thus made Magnus an offer: Become Tzeentch's servant and preserve what was left of his Legion and homeworld or watch it all burn in a pool of his own blood...
...For Magnus though, it never really was a choice. The response of Magnus' new patron was immediate: for once, Tzeentch was true to his word. The City of Light was transported into the Eye of Terror onto a Daemon World. Prospero was destroyed that day, but Magnus and his Legion survived. It is unclear when they ended up on the Planet of the Sorcerers; before or after the Siege of Terra, but Magnus the Red had been so damaged by his battle with Russ and the psychic effort of teleporting to Sortiarius that his soul had fragmented across time and space. The shards respresented different aspects of Magnus's personality, all tied to various places and people in the galaxy (one existed in the past many decades before the Heresy) and all had different motives. One shard helped the Salamanders resurrect Vulkan, whilst another had gone full daemon and tried to kill as many knight-errants as possible. Ahriman and co gathered several of the more powerful shards back together and managed to perform a Rubric to bond them back together into a stable form. Magnus was saved from fading away but effectively become a daemon prince and the most powerful of all Tzeentch's servants. One of the shards, representing Magnus's good side was bound into the dying Revuel Arvida, becoming Janus. Magnus originally planned to join the assault on Terra purely to get this part of his soul back but seeing as Janus appeared later in The Beast Arises series, we can assume this didn't go to plan. Magnus had never served Tzeentch willingly, but now had no choice - exactly as Tzeentch HAD PLANNED from the very beginning (we might think), and now he was committed to the very cause he had tried to foil.
Some head-scratching does arise at to why Magnus didn't: a) simply tell his Legion to lay down their weapons and try and talk Russ out of obliterating the entire world, (especially since Russ was willing to listen), b) take the hara-kiri option, which would have at least brought everything to an end a little earlier or c) try to confront Russ elsewhere where there wouldn't be a large amount of civilian/auxilia deaths and the vast repository of knowledge the Thousand Sons had wouldn't be lost. The common consensus is that Magnus was too proud (or stupid) to consider the idea of negotiating (especially with the brother he had always considered to be an ignorant savage), and while he was at first resigned to his end he ultimately could not accept the idea that all the lore and knowledge the Thousand Sons had worked to collect would be lost with his death. We also know that Magnus fully understood how bad the Emperor's millenia long plan was fucked up by his intervention on Terra, so the destruction of everything he had built and loved was a way to share his father's despair.
And so, the Horus Heresy came and went. The Siege of Terra occurred, Horus had fought the Emperor and (SPOILER WARNING) failed, and the Traitor Legions were driven to the Eye of Terror. However, the Thousand Sons now had to deal with more immediate problems: with their serving of Tzeentch, the Flesh Change returned with a vengeance. Magnus made efforts to stop this, but being a servant of the God of Mutation has its drawbacks and before long Magnus seemed to have given up. Growing desperate, Ahzek Ahriman, the Chief Librarian and First Captain, took matters into his own hands. Having lost his brother to the Flesh Change before they found Prospero, Ahriman gathered a cabal of other sorcerers, the Book of Magnus, and performed the Rubric of Ahriman in an attempt to stop the Flesh Change.
The results were not what Ahriman expected: while it stopped the Flesh Change and further empowered all psychic Thousand Sons, all non-psyker Thousand Sons had their bodies turned to dust and sealed within their Power Armour, becoming little more than robots needing guidance from a Thousand Son sorcerer.
Confronting Ahriman, once his most favored son, Magnus angrily demanded an explanation. Ahriman basically telling him to shut it did not help and Magnus was about to kill Ahriman when Tzeentch spoke to him: "Magnus, why do you seek to kill my pawn?" Once again, Magnus realized he'd had been used. Disgusted, broken (and still really angry but unable to do anything about it) Magnus simply exiled Ahriman from the Planet of Sorcerers. For the last ten thousand years, Magnus and Ahriman both have labored to restore the Sons' bodies to their original forms, with Tzeentch ensuring they fail all the while.
Fragments of Magnus
Unknown to everyone save perhaps Tzeentch himself and Magnus' inner circle, the teleportation of Magnus to the Planet of the Sorcerers at Prospero had the side effect of splitting the Primarch's soul into a large number of lesser fragments, many of which might not have even been aware of the split and believed that they truly were Magnus the Red. The actual number of fragments is not known exactly, but an allegorical representation of them showed a broken statue of a bird, with some fragments being as small as grains of dirt though the largest piece was definitely recognisable as a bird.
- The fragment that traveled to the Planet of Sorcerers was the greatest shard of Magnus' soul, although upon its arrival it was nothing like the Primarch or the daemon-prince Magnus that are well known to the 40k universe. Although it appeared to be Magnus the Red, it has the mindset of a senile old man who was dying. This Magnus barely knew where or when he was at the best of times and was constantly forgetting who his companions were or what Leman Russ had done to him or his Legion. This shard of Magnus spent centuries (of warptime, so practically no time at all in realspace) fleeing his memories through the warp while being chased by his equerry Amon who was trying to bring him back. In a moment of lucidity he was the first to reveal that his soul had been shattered, but only by reliving the battle of Prospero did the Thousand Sons have an idea of where the largest shards went to, so Ahriman led a quest to reclaim them and restore his Primarch, gathering enough to amalgamate the Crimson King.
- The Crimson King, the Daemon-Primarch of Tzeentch as he exists in the present, was the recombination of several shards as the Horus Heresy went on and by far the most powerful of the Magnus-fragments. His first act was to declare that he would join Horus' rebellion and lay siege to Terra to reclaim his greatest fragment (Janus). He would exile Ahriman for the first failed Rubric, would later instigate the Battle of the Fang and then spend the next ten thousand years being a dick, eventually fouling up Ahriman's second Rubric but achieving near-complete unification of all the shards. Unsurprisingly, the only parts that weren't reunited with The Crimson King were all the ones which embodied Magnus' noblest, most selfless qualities.
- "Magnus" (as the father of the Thousand Sons and author of the Book of Magnus) was the portion of Magnus that seemed to care the most about his legionaries and of his son Ahriman in particular. Much diminished, he remained behind the scenes for centuries attempting to subvert the Daemon-Primarch and guide his son Ahriman (and by extension the Legion) back to greatness and presumably (at a push) back onto the path the Emperor intended for them. It was he who inspired Ahriman to attempt the original Rubric in the first instance since it was actually his own spell. "Magnus" (the father) knew that it would fail, but the flesh-change was overcoming the legion anyway, and the failed attempt would provide Ahriman with both the time and the conviction to eventually complete his great work and attempt a second rubric by pooling his own resources with knowledge gleaned from various other fragments, including the Athenaeum of Kallimakus. It was also he who infuenced Amon's dreams to seek out Ahriman to kill him and undo the Rubric and end their brothers' agony. While this shard of Magnus admitted he sacrificed Amon to re-motivate Ahriman to do the second Rubric, he believed it was the proper course of action to save their legion and make Magnus whole without the Crimson King's infuence. The end result may have actually cured his legion & father by reuniting the broken primarch and reversing the flesh-change, and allow the personality of "Magnus" (the father) to assert control over the united fragments and redeem himself. However, even if it had worked the interference of the Crimson King would have caused it to destroy the fragments instead. Ultimately, it faded into oblivion rather than allow the Crimson King to reabsorb it.
- The great library of knowledge: the Athenaeum of Kallimakus actually was a fragment of sorts, but not able to act independently, only providing a link to the stream of consciousness of the original Magnus the Red. However the Athenaeum was corrupted after being discovered by the Crimson King, who attempted to insinuate his own mind into the thought-stream and attempt to assert control over Ahriman's second rubric result. His dipping in and out of the stream introduced flaws into the spell which would still have allowed the Thousand Sons to regain their flesh but would have destroyed all the fragments of Magnus in the process.
- A separate lesser shard was hidden within the ashes of Mahavastus Kallimakus himself, that was carried around in an urn for years yet was completely oblivious to the Sisters of Silence, the Thousand Sons and one of the Knights-Errant, beneath whom the urn had passed almost completely unnoticed. It was only when proximity to the shard of Aghoru that it awakened, although its motivations are largely unknown because it seemed to be operating under the orders of the other shard until it fused with it.
- One fragment remained on Prospero, representing his acceptance of the Emperor's judgement against him, this Magnus was stuck in limbo and meditation for a while, until Jaghatai Khan rocked up to Prospero to find out what had happened. This fragment served up a nice big info-dump and urged him to pick a side in the war, and in return Jaghatai banished him from Prospero.
- Another became a daemon of vengeance that was unwittingly passed from host to host (It was thought to be a normal daemon, no-one realised it was a actually a shard of Magnus). It eventually came to inhabit the body of a renegade space marine called Astraeos. This shard saw the Crimson King as a usurper but was eventually consumed after a very quick battle with the Crimson King following the failed second Rubric.
- One returned to Nikaea and represented the part inside of Magnus that died when the Emperor made his pronouncement against him. This shard was literally a corpse being clawed at by daemonic hands.
- One represented his warrior aspect and was found on the planet Aghoru seemingly waiting to duel whoever showed up. It held off a Knight-Errant, a Rune Priest, a small squad of space wolves, a bunch of cyber automata and a freaking Samurai at the same time without any overt use of psychic power until it was bound into the body of a mortal. Interestingly, this shard had no intention of reuniting with the greater because Magnus was not actually known for his battle-prowess, so this fragment would rather have remained and made a name for himself equal to Angron or the Lion, nonetheless it later absorbed the shard of Kallimakus into itself and was absorbed in turn into the Crimson King anyway.
- Another fragment representing Magnus' desire to seek knowledge for the sake of its acquisition. It was thrust into Terra's past and inhabited the body of King Kadmus, one of the Emperor's enemies, requiring Ahriman to time-travel in order to reclaim it.
- One fragment remained on Terra and was fused by Malcador to Revuel Arvida, inadvertently creating an entity known as Ianius (Janus). Yes, likely the same Janus that would become the first Supreme Grand Master of the Grey Knights.
- From the Prologue and Epilogue there may very well have been a second fragment of Magnus that resided on Terra and was known to Malcador and Rogal Dorn. But where Revuel Arvida housed a shard in his flesh and became Ianius who remained ostensibly Astartes, this shard was fully formed (an oversized giant with crimson skin) and housed within a villa hidden deep beneath the crust of Terra from where he narrates the novel Crimson King. This fragment took upon himself the role of archivist of the Horus Heresy, and pinned his hopes for future on some an all-seeing device in the warp called The Orrery. Perhaps building it with the help of his equerry Amon while he was chasing a different shard of his emotional father through time and space via the warp, or by completing his own orrery separately, or simply referring to the one the Crimson King made. It could then be this shard of Magnus who rescued the ship carrying the body of Vulkan and guided it back to Nocturne so his brother could be resurrected.
- It may also yet be Janus speaking from an earlier time period before his binding, who knows? The warp is confusing enough without it being inhabited by multiple aspects of the same guy over different time periods.
- Regardless of whether it is Janus or an entirely separate fragment, one of the Terran shards was believed by the Crimson King to be the first and greatest fragment of the Soul of Magnus and so he was willing to lay siege to Terra to reclaim it, even going so far as name it his sole reason for joining Horus's side of the war.
By the novel Ahriman Unchanged, Ahriman would complete his second Rubric and attempt to cast it on Sortiarius. Unfortunately the Rubric was not completed as Ahriman was interrupted by a member of the Thousand Sons who knew that the outcome would result in Magnus's annihilation and wanted to avoid it, so he seized control of the magical energy before Ahriman could finish the spell and obliterate their father. This resulted in several of the fragments reuniting into the Daemon Primarch Crimson King and increasing his share of power to a state indistinguishable from that which he possessed as a complete being. The aspect of vengeance: Astraeos would be the Crimson King's first victim and be absorbed almost immediately, while Magnus (the father) would fade away into nothing after having hung on for so many centuries only to fail in his objectives to lay claim to the soul of Magnus or heal his Legion- all it could do was deny the Crimson King what little power it still possessed.
- Although he might have actually succeeded, in by failing to complete the second Rubric, as a side effect Ahriman was uncoupled from his destiny and now "free" from divine manipulations, something that Magnus (the Father) had wished for all of his sons. But even then Ahriman ultimately continued to serve Tzeentch of his own will, so how much of a victory this may have been is up for debate.
This means that while Daemon-Primarch Magnus at the turn of the 41st millennium is in his most complete state and the various schemes of the separated fragments have been put to rest, Magnus is still not "whole" and likely will never return to his original state due to the loss of significant fragments; in particular, the evaporated essence of the compassionate father figure who set the rubric in motion, and probably the missing nobility of Janus, who died centuries earlier in service to the Grey Knights. At this point it can be assumed that Tzeentch filled in the remaining parts with himself, cementing Magnus's state as a Daemon Prince and eliminating any chance of his redemption.
Battle for The Fang: The unified Magnus the Red: The Crimson King, later showed up on FENRIS ITSELF and became the second Daemon Primarch after Angron to get shit done, rampaging through imperial lines and laying waste to everything in his path with MIND BULLETS and RAW PHYSICAL POWER until the Space Wolves responded and after an extremely hard fight Magnus phased himself out and teleported all his marines out of the Fang after having his back broken once again, this time by Bjorn. While he succeeded in sabotaging an experimental (seemingly successful) Space Wolf geneseed mutation cure and killing an entire Great Company HQ, The Great Wolf (turns out wolfing a Wolf Lord's wolf means warping your hands inside him and ripping his hearts out) and almost killing Bjorn the Fell-Handed himself, he did not finish the Space Wolves once and for all. Of course, Magnus claimed it was not his goal in the first place.
Funny how two out of two Daemon Primarchs to have gotten shit done ended up being repelled by the actions of the Space Wolves. On the other hand, the Wolfies were pushed to their very limits trying to repel the chosen of Tzeentch, and they only got off easy once he fucked off after his main objective was finished.
Of all the Daemon Primarchs so far seen in the fluff, he seems to be the most collected and coherent, as far as Chaos goes; in the trailer of Wrath of Magnus he actually sounded quite composed and at odds with Angron's "BLUDFUTEBLUDGUD!" or Mortarion's "IHAVESPESSASHMA"; he told the Thousand Sons in a strong but civilized way to put their differences aside to focus on the goal of destroying the Space Puppies, and remarked how all of them were his sons, even Ahriman or any other wayward sorcerer who had gone his own way through the ages and that despite the millennia long pass, he still holds Prospero in high regards and consistently fights for his homeworld's memory and people; what a cool guy.
During the campaign, Magnus' goal was never to destroy Fenris (though it would have been a satisfying bonus), but instead to make the Wolves suffer as he and his sons did during the Burning of Prospero: with the Wulfen and their genetic flaw revealed, they would be regarded with suspicion and mistrust. Because the people of Fenris have seen first-hand the horrors of the Warp, the Inquisition ordered a massive purge that saw most of the population of Fenris exterminated. Midgardia basically got destroyed, Fenris became a partly irradiated wasteland, and Magnus pulled Sortiarius into the materium (as the whole invasion of Fenris also turned out to be a massive ritual for which the Grey Knights killing the populace helped a lot, yes Grey Knights dun fucked up). Interestingly, while Magnus is lauded for his vast intellect he seems to have neglected the insignificant detail of *knowing* that the Space Wolves were tricked by Horus into annihilating the Thousand Sons instead of detaining them in order to take them to Terra as the Emperor had decreed. This order was slightly "re-interpreted" by Horus and then passed on to Leman Russ with the known consequences (the traitor legions refer to them as "the betrayed" for that very reason). There goes split personality for ya!
Notably, during the above campaign, Magnus got Mortarion's aid in exchange for the latter taking over Midgardia and transforming it into a plague infested planet. However, Magnus proceeded to back-stab Mortarion by arranging Midgardia to undergo exterminatus before the latter succeeded in claiming it. Magnus likely did this out of vengeance for Mortarion's role during that little Council of Nikaea thing, something something best served cold...
Gathering Storm Book III:
Magnus and the Thousand Sons are found to be lurking in the webway after the resurrected Roboute Guilliman and his allies have escaped from the Red Corsairs. Guilliman, realizing that Magnus is hoping to use him to sneak into the Imperial Palace via the webway gate, instead detours to a dormant gate on Luna. A huge battle between Guilliman's forces and the Thousand Sons ensues, whilst the two Primarchs go mano-a-mano. In a rare example of the blue bastards not getting their way and the whole "Daemon Primarch" thing actually making a difference, Magnus' super-psyker abilities bring the G-man within a gnat's testicle of actually getting killed before the loyalist cavalry arrives in the form of the Imperial Fists, the Adeptus Custodes, and the Sisters of Silence. The Sisters nullify Magnus' powers long enough for Guilliman to turn him into a kebab. This somehow causes Magnus to unleash a psychic shockwave that blows him back through the gate, after which some Harlequins who'd tagged along with Guilliman seal it off, stranding him in the webway. Since then, Magnus has been involved in many other major attacks on the Imperium at the behest of Tzeentch, such as the invasion of the Stygius Sector.
On the tabletop
As a son of the Emperor
With his decent statline, Magnus has the Primarch rule in all of its goodness, Arch Sorcerer (ML 5 psyker that harnesses on a 3+, needs 3 6's to roll perils and re-rolls 1's if he does) plus he randomly generates his powers from any of the 5 main disciplines plus Sanctic (E.G. 2 biomancy, 2 telepathy, 1 divination). now think about rolling all 5 on biomancy! with The Eye of the Crimson King, which gives him line of sight to anything in range while also giving his powers Ignores Cover. Phantasmal Aura makes him harder to hit by forcing anyone in melee or shooting at him (and the infantry unit he joined) -1 to hit while also forcing Barrage weapons aimed at him to add +1 Scatter. Mind Wrath means he can double the range of any witchfire and add 2d6 strength (or Destroyer if this makes Strength go 11 or beyond) to that power he cast at the cost of needing two more warp charges to cast it (WC1 life leech becomes WC3 etc); Statistically, Magnus is going to roll a 7 on the 2D6 extra strength, meaning that if you roll average S4 Witchfires will be Strength D.(think about smite for a second: 36" range SD, AP2 assault 4 ignores cover and Magnus has LoS to anyone in that range!) (think about any nova, where every unit in 18" takes, on average, 7 S:D hits (but novas usually have shitty AP, so marines would totally get their 3+ if 6 is not rolled on the Destroyer table) making Magnus one of the more broken and overpowered models in any incarnation of the rules. He's also a decent army buffer, boosting his legions leadership, making his attached unit fearless (even though the Primarch rule already did that), allowing Sehkmet Terminators as troops and letting you re-roll reserves.
- The Horned Raiment is your standard 2+ 4++ armour made of warp energy that lowers the number of wounds taken from the D by 1
- Psyfire Serpenta is an S8 AP2 Assault d3 gun with Soulblaze(that could be argued to be a plasma weapon and thus weakened by the sallies)
- The Blade of Ahn-Nunura is an S+2 AP1 two handed force blade.
Being the second most expensive Primarch he is really good (broken as fuck) and his psychic powers are understandably incredible.
Biomancy so far seems to be the most powerful for him to roll on, as Iron Arm makes him an unkillable juggernaut of S10 T9, Warp Speed let him out-dance Fulgrim and out-rape Angron at 7 attacks on I9, with both combined allowing him to take on Horus or even Russ in a challenge, Enfeeble and Endurance being generally great powers in any situations, Smite (you always get as a Primaris) will become 36" Assault4 with D-strength 56% you fire it when boosted (and likely S8-10 other times) for sniping Primarchs and Fellblades from the distance, and Life Leech would let Magnus heal himself and/or get Destroyer strength much more reliable, if at lower volume of fire. Haemorrage sadly continues to be useless, though, and five times out of six you'd roll it instead of some useful power.
Hilariously Biomancy-powered Strawberry can mindbullet most Primarchs from distance in just 2 or 3 turns. Angron, Fulgrim and Corax could even go down in one turn with some luck. Although Lorgar's superior deny and Horus's armor of "fuck your psychic powers on a 3+" may pose a problem, and them hiding in a transport or a unit (probably both) counters this tactic completely - then again forcing your enemy's Primarch to hide just by deploying yours is a victory on it's own (unless it's Alpharius, who's straight up designed to hide in a unit).
You can go for support monster with Divination or supercheese with Telepathy, but those disciplines lack boostable witchfires (Psychic Scream while awesome on its own don't have strength value). Pyromancy is on the other end of the spectrum, with all the witchfires all the time everywhere, potentially with re-rolls to wound from fiery form, but it can't increase his survivability or close combat prowess.
ACTUALLY, Pyromancy is the far and away best table for ol' cyclops to roll on, because of his ability to boost witchfire powers to Strength D (Novas are a subtype of witchfire and thus count for the strength boosting). Iron Arm can't compare to dropping 2d6 S:D shots on your opponents' Warlord Titan (and everything else even remotely close to you that belongs to your opponent). Oh, and did I mention it ignores cover too?
Magnus is THE straight-up best Primarch for his points. The reason for this is his sheer flexibility. While you may not be able to choose your psychic powers, you can tailor him to different roles at the start of any game just by picking a discipline. Up against a melee Legion and need a buffer for your gunline? Divination, motherfucker. Enemy brought a Warhound/Spartan/Primarch who isn't Horus or Russ? Biomancy to fly up and smash it. Up against Admech with those 4+ armor MCs? Say hi to Pyromancy. If there were only a few psychic powers that Magnus' rules could turn into OP nastiness it'd be okay, but with Biomancy in particular, there are an absurd number of such powers. Pray to the Emprah Forgeworld nerfs him.
Just keep him away from sisters of silence... even they might struggle tbh
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 all about how Magnus fares against other Primarchs mathhammer wise. Please note that all the various abilities, with the exception of Blind, are taken into account (Blind is ignored because it is just too random and unreliable to come into play) 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. As with Lorgar, psychic powers are not accounted for, which is a slightly false choice given that if you're sending Magnus in for a Primarch duel you probably will buff him but a necessary one if this is to be doable and fair.
- Magnus vs Angron
- Angron first round: hits 4.5 times, wounds 3.75 times and 1.875 after saves which IWND will take down to 1.542 at the start of next turn
- Angron second round: hits 3 times, wounds 2.5 times and 1.25 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.917 at the start of next turn
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.833 after saves which FNP and IWND will take down to 0.5 at the start of next turn
- Unsurprisingly Magnus loses this one pretty badly
- Magnus vs Fulgrim
- Fulgrim (Fireblade): hits 3.5 times, wounds 2.333 times and 1.167 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.834 at the start of next turn
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.222 at the start of next turn
- Again unsurprisingly Fulgrim wins comfortably even without taking into account Child of Terra or Mastercrafted
- Magnus vs Mortarion
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.833 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.278 at the start of next turn
- Mortarion: hits 1.667 times, wounds 1.111 times and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.222 at the start of next turn
- Magnus actually out-endures Mortarion as his negative modifier to hit balances out Mortarion's superior regen and extra wound. Not that it matters because it will take several lifetimes before either of them actually die.
- Magnus vs Ferrus Manus
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 time and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.222 at the start of next turn
- Ferrus: hits 1.333 times with Forgbreaker and 0.333 times with his Servo Arm, wounds 1.111 times and 0.278 respectively which after saves becomes a total of 0.695 wounds after saves which IWND will take down to 0.362 wounds at the start of next turn
- Another ridiculously long fight but Ferrus' Servo Arm and better invulnerable save just tip the fight in his favour
- Magnus vs Konrad Curze
- Konrad: hits 3 times, wounds 2.25 times and 1.125 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.792 at the start of next turn
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.833 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.5 at the start of next turn
- Konrad wins this one without having to use his hit and run + HOW combo which turns this into a bloodbath
- Magnus vs Vulkan
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0 wounds at the start of next turn
- Vulkan: hits 1.333 times, wounds 1.111 times and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.222 wounds at the start of next turn
- Vulkan wins because Magnus can't hurt him
- Magnus vs Lorgar
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.37 wounds at the start of next turn
- Lorgar: hits 1.667 times, wounds 1.389 times and 0.694 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.462 wounds at the start of the next turn
- Lorgar's save is increased to 3++ against attacks from Force Weapons, allowing him to win this one, and that's even without him forcing Magnus re-roll 5 and 6 for one turn.
- Magnus vs Perturabo
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.556 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.222 wounds at the start of next turn
- Magnus (Blinded): hits 1.333 times, wounds 1.111 times and 0.37 after saves which IWND takes down 0.037 wounds at the start of next turn
- Perturabo: hits 1.333 times with both, wounds 0.889 times with his hands and 1.111 times with Forgebreaker and 0.444 and 0.556 times after saves respectively, which becomes 0.111/0.222 wounds at the start of next turn
- Perturabo (with Magnus Blinded): hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.833 times after saves
- Another victory for Magnus comes when Perturabo doesn't have Forgebreaker. When he does this becomes a walkover in the other direction as Magnus won't kill him before he becomes blinded and then he becomes essentially unable to hurt Perturabo
- Magnus vs Alpharius
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.667 times and 0.833 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.5 wounds at the start of the next turn
- Alpharius: hits 1.944 times, wounds 1.512 times and 0.756 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.423 at the start of next turn
- As usual, Alpharius loses
- Magnus vs Rogal Dorn
- Magnus: hits 2 times, wounds 1.33 times (Dorn cannot be wounded on more than 3+ thanks to his armour) and 0.67 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.44 wounds at the start of the next turn
- Dorn: hits 2 times, wounds 1.5 times and 0.75 after saves which IWND will take down to 0.417 wounds at the start of the next turn
- Magnus loses this one
- Magnus vs Corvus Corax
- Corax: hits 2.667 times (Scourge)/ 2 times (Shadow-walk), wounds 2 times (Scourge)/ 1.5 times (Shadow-walk) and once or 0.75 times respectively after saves which IWND will take down to 0.667/0.417 at the start of next turn
- Magnus: hits 2 times (Scourge)/ 1.333 times (Shadow-walk), wounds 1.667 times (Scourge)/ 1.111 times (Shadow-walk) and 1.111/0.741 times after saves which IWND will take down to 0.778/0.408 wounds at the start of next turn
- Corax's superior initiative means that if he uses Shadow-walk he can kill Magnus just before he can strike on turn 15. If he uses Scourge he loses, however. As usual Blind and Hit and Run could turn the fight more in his favour
As a Daemon Primarch
Rules-wise, he's a beast with 7s across the board barring strength (8) attacks (6) and ld (10). He rocks a 4++ and can re-roll ones (so yeah, throw in the grimoire of names to have a 2++ re-rollable and guy becomes unkillable when combined with the fact that he's an FMC with EW), as well as Daemon of Tzeentch, Deep Strike, VotLW, Fearless, Fleet, IWND, and the WT Lord of Flux: Enemy units within 12″ of your Warlord treat all terrain, even open ground, as difficult terrain; any enemy units that run, turbo-boost, move flat out, or charge within that radius must take dangerous terrain tests. He has what is by far the best psychic output in the game: Mastery level 5, AW (so he DTWs on 3+ against everyone), manifests his WCs on a 2+, has LoS to all units on the table for the purposes of using his powers, and never suffers Perils of the Warp. He knows every spell in the Tzeentch and Change disciplines. With the expansions brought in the new rulebook, this means Magnus can bring to the table 2 D attacks (One of which is an 18" Beam?!) per psychic phase with relative ease, all while still being able to murderize anything that he comes across, and in melee he uses a sword that uses his strength, AP2, Soulblaze, Force, and Transmogrify (a 6 to wound causes Instant death and turns the slain model into a Chaos Sp... you know this stupid gaOHGODWHYBLAGRABAH). As it stands, Magnus just craps on his furry Gary Stu brother. He's 650pts, so use him wisely.
Model-wise, he appears to take minor inspiration from his EPIC monkey form (which is a good thing.) He has multiple head options, including a cyclops head, which is incredibly fluffy as his face has been described as constantly changing. His armor appears to be to have changed from golden to silver (but it still has its nipple horns. Sexy, sexy nipple horns), and the motif of a bird skull appears everywhere. He has bird wings, and is posed on a Space Wolf Dreadnought arm. Ah, and he's so FUCKHUEG that he rivals an Imperial Knight.
Naturally, Magnus was some of the small slither of cheese that Chaos had access to in 7th, so GW casually nerfed him to ensure their precious space marines didn't have too hard a time (if this was hard to see, don't look at what has become of poor Ahriman). Don't let this hit fool you too much though as Magnus is still a force to be reckoned with. Gone is the all seeing eye, immunity to perils and ease of power casting. In its place we still get the best psyker (still significantly weaker than before as he has now forgotten most of his spells and how to give people the big old D). With 18 wounds, he can take more hits than a Land Raider and Bloodthirster and with 7 strength 8 attacks (*16 with his X2 S blade*), he can still bend over most things in the game with his fancy blade. His new force multiplier effects make him a more balanced command unit but unless you want him to sit at the back as a big fire magnet and hope his measly 3 powers can make up for his enormous cost over his combat hitting power, a Thousand Sons army isn't going to benefit from these too much. Apparently, Magnus has changed his devotion to Khorne judging by the obvious strategy GW have currently geared him to.
Oh, and don't let Thunder Hammer/Stormshield Terminators charge him. They obliterate him, even with Weaver of Fates up to give him a 3++R1; besides, you easily have the maneuverability to ensure they virtually never manage to pull this off.
- In all truth while his insane strength and 7 attacks are brutal, especially when adding prescience you probably want to stay away from anything with an invulnerable save higher than a 4, use him with warptime for mass hit and run and bolstering or intimidating important areas. Smite anything rocking Stormshields or other intimidating saves, and hope he rolls an overall 10, for a juicy 2d6 mortal wounds.
- Obviously Mortarion was not better enough when compared to Big Red, so GW fixed that by nerfing the cyclops (and boy did they hit him hard). No more invul rerolls, 2D6 mortal wound Smite only goes off on 12+ now, transmogrify from his blade is still not free, if you manage to even pull it off (funnily most characters hide from Magnus) all for 30 MORE points. On the plus side he allows rerolls of 1 for both him and his sons within 9" when making a psychic test, he adds his psychic phase bonus to DtW tests now, he also gets full access to 3 psychic disciplines for a total of 18 spells to chose from and he ignores any mortal wounds caused by perils on a 2+. He's less tanky than he used to be, but he is much more psychically focused than before.
Magnus' Terrible Weakness
Unfortunately not everything is awesome for the Daemon Prince, aside from getting his ass kicked by the Space Wolves and Grey Knights (though he's hardly alone in that regard), Magnus has a terrible weakness in the form of three completely normal humans carrying Thunder Hammers.
Seriously, three Inquisitors (all of which have 3's and 4's where Magnus has 7's and 8's) can kick his ass. One of them just needs to be carrying a Null Rod and Thunder Hammer, another carries the Grimoire of True Names, Empyrean Brain Mines, and a Nemesis Daemon Hammer, while the third also carries Empyrean Brain Mines and a Nemesis Daemon Hammer. All of this makes for a combination that Magnus simply cannot win against. He is incapable of targeting the unit with his sorcery; while he can and should hit the unit with Wrath of Magnus on the approach if possible, as Beams do not target, this won't help him in melee, where he is reduced to using Boon of Flame to summon support (which will not be able to charge on summon turn) and Boon of Mutation, which is extremely unlikely to help in any meaningful way. If they charged him, the Psyk-Out grenades mean he's I1 for testing against the Mines; if they didn't, why didn't Magnus just get the hell out of there instead of getting into close combat with these guys? On subsequent Inquisitor turns, the bearer of the Grimoire will challenge him; Brain Mines and Challenges happen at the same time, so per the sequencing rules, the Inquisitors can choose to use the Mines second. Magnus must now take an I test on I2 (typically two tests, of course), so with odds at best 1/3 (at worst, 1/9) he can still swing - otherwise, he can't swing at all. If he does swing, it's at WS 2 (so he hits on 5s and is hit on 3s). Mathwise the three Inquisitors beat him to death in 3 rounds (another Triumvirate of the Imperium?). Even if it wasn't for dropping his Leadership down to 5 for Daemonbane tests, the second the Inquisitors Wound him he's Concussed, meaning it's even easier for them to paralyze him with the Mines and spend the second round wailing on him. If you really wanted to fuck him over then you could also ally in a Culexus Assassin, as they (simply by standing near him and not actually getting into the fistfight) combine with the Grimoire to drop his Leadership to 2, making him incredibly likely to die if a Nemesis Daemon Hammer rolls a 6 to wound. That all said, remember that Magnus does not have the Daemonic Instability special rule, so he's not going to take a bajillion extra wounds after losing combat with nerfed Leadership. You could also add to the hilarity with an Inquisitor with Rad and Psychotroke grenades (the Psychotroke grenades especially have a 1/3 chance of either reducing Magnus to I1 or LD 2 for the phase, which will make all of the other effects in the unit even worse for him).
Of course this relies on them actually getting into combat with Magnus, and so long as the player's smart (and your opponent doesn't load up his Inquisitors in something ridiculous like a Corvus Blackstar) you should be able to get around the board without having them ever get into combat with him. The Lord of Flux WT helps in this respect by messing up charges.
Funnily enough too his 30k incarnation is incredibly weak to the Sisters of Battle, mainly because they can load up on combi-crossbows and two squads armed with these things will kill him in a single shooting phase while being either more annoying to kill thanks to Adamantium Will, or impossible to hurt with his Psychic powers if they're joined by a Hereticus Inquisitor carrying a Null rod (as they should be). Obviously the solution here is just to make him invisible and take them on in combat, but there's still the rare chance you won't get it (especially if you want other powers for bigger threats).
- If you translate his name into latin, you get Magnus Rubricatus, meaning "red is great". Also it has "rubric" in it. Sly GW strikes again!
- He plays a r/u deck.
- A video chronicling Magnus' fall to Chaos. It is less conniving than originally imagined.
- Daddy (not the Emperor, Magnus) addressing his children for the visit to the pet shop.
|The Primarchs of the Space Marine Legions|
| Loyalist |
Corvus Corax - Ferrus Manus - Jaghatai Khan
Lion El'Jonson - Leman Russ - Roboute Guilliman
Rogal Dorn - Sanguinius - Vulkan
| Traitor |
Alpharius/Omegon - Angron - Fulgrim
Horus - Konrad Curze/Night Haunter - Lorgar
Magnus the Red - Mortarion - Perturabo