"Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
- – Vishnu, Hindu god of sustenance, in the Bhagavad Gita
" Sic semper tyrannis."
- – Old Latin saying which Morty embodied before his fall.
"Disease gets a bad rep, don't you think? For being filthy, chaotic. Uh, but, really, that just describes people who get sick. Disease itself... very... pure. Single-minded. Bacteria have one purpose: divide and conquer. That's why, in the end... it always wins."
- – Horseman of Pestilence, Supernatural
Also known as the Death Lord, the Pale King, Morty, and the Prince of Decay, after he got sick of Daddy's shit, Mortarion is the Primarch of the Death Guard (XIV), a particularly gross legion of Chaos Space Marines. Had an absolute hatred of psykers, is a staunch believer of the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest", has some serious beef with the new and improved Robert Gilligan and is Grandpappy Nurgle's big special boy. At least until he trapped Big Blue into Nurgle's Garden to gank him with a mega-virus, then got Uno-reversed and Guilliman burned a chunk of the Garden with the Emperor's Sword. Currently, ol' Morty is now on the Naughty List of Nurgle. Has the unique honor of being one of the few fictional characters who wields a scythe that actually holds it properly.
Mortarion was left on the plague planet Barbarus by
the Chaos gods his mother. He was found by Necare, the overlord of Barbarus, who adopted infant Morty as his own. For years Necare was known only as something that was less human than Mortarion, but newer fluff basically confirms him as some unknown xenos race. The Overlord, naming the child Mortarion, (meaning "Child of Death") took the infant Primarch, and after caging the child on a mountain top to acclimatize to the poisonous atmosphere, raised him, teaching him the arts of combat and warfare.
Eventually, Mortarion's curiosity led him to leave home and set up shop in one of the human villages in a less plague-filled valley. At first he was happy to finally be amongst his own kind, despite being treated with much suspicion. Eventually he grew to be part of the community, where he simply helped with the harvest. When the village was attacked by a marauding warlord, Mortarion charged into the fray, defending his new home with his scythe. During this battle, Mortarion's resistance to the toxic clouds of the planet allowed him to personally slay the warlord, following him into the mist where the xenos believed he was safe. After the battle was won, Mortarion began teaching the villagers and other humans on Barbarus the same lessons of warfare he had learned from his adoptive father.
Word of his exploits spread, and many others made the perilous journey to learn. Slowly, villages became strongpoints, and the villagers were more effective defenders. Eventually, Mortarion went amongst the people, travelling from settlement to settlement, teaching, building and, when occasion demanded, defending them. Always, however, his ultimate justice was denied; the dark powers could always retreat into the impregnable bulwark of their poisonous mists where Mortarion alone could venture. His people could only fight in defense. That had to change.
Mortarion recruited the toughest, most resilient of Barbarus' population, forming them into small units which he drilled himself, teaching them not only defense but also attack. He turned blacksmiths from toolworking to weaponssmithing when time allowed, and crafters to the shaping of armour. And, with the best artificers he could find, he bent his formidable intellect to the problem of the poisonous air.
Inquisitor Mendikoff's monograph, Cataphract of Death, relates the now-famous result. When next a warlord descended from above, and the villagers mounted a defense successful enough to drive his unholy army back, Mortarion and his retinue of warriors, masked with crude filtering hoses and breathing gear, advanced into the fog after them. For the first time in living memory the prey brought death into the realm of death, killing the warlord and massacring his army. Mortarion continually improved his warrior's breathing apparatus, and he and his Death Guard, as his retinue came to be known, campaigned ever higher into the dark powers' domain, encountering ever more virulent pestilence. The constant exposure to ever higher doses of toxins toughened his warriors, traits which proved transferable to each new iteration of the Death Guard, growing tougher as though emulating their champion himself.
Eventually, Morty and his Death Guard had defeated each warlord of Barbarus until only the Overlord himself remained. Around this time, the Big E showed up in a modest robe, as he feels like doing sometimes, and challenged Mortarion to slay Necare alone or swear loyalty to Him.
Mortarion wasted no time and went to kill his adoptive father, but he was too weak and succumbed to the poisonous upper atmosphere. Cue the Emperor clapping Necare with a one hit kill. Mortarion resented this as a trivialization of his struggles against the warlords and this resentment was one of the factors that eventually caused his fall to Chaos (rather stupid, since he chose to accept the deal and lost fair and square).
He was discovered 130 years into the Great Crusade and was taken to Terra, like all his other brothers were, to learn the ways of the Imperium. Unusually he was held for a bit longer on Terra than his brothers were, on the reasoning that they would get the poisons and toxins out of his system, though this would obviously hit a snag since he got his armour customized to supply him with the Barbarus gases on demand (maybe he was dependent on them? Or maybe they just got him high?). Naturally all this waiting around got him a bit frustrated and annoyed.
Mortarion managed to sneak his way through the Imperial Palace and to the construction site of the future Golden Throne (yeah, despite being similar in size and smell to a small garbage truck, he was an excellent Ninja, also evidenced by his rules below). When he asked Malcador what it was, he wouldn't accept the regent's excuses that it was nothing to concern himself over, since Mortarion knew warp-tech when he saw it. He considered the Emperor and Malcador big giant hypocrites for ostensibly rejecting the Warp while experimenting with it on the sly. (He had the same attitude with his three brothers who set up the Librarius - and he didn't get on that well with any of the others. Apart from maybe the Khan, Mortarion had the least central role in the Crusade of all the Primarchs.)
To placate him, Malcador revealed him part the Emperor's greater plan, which was to remove the reliance on psykers and warp travel entirely; they were already planning the Council of Nikaea in advance and that Mortarion would be the one to make the case for reining it in. Mortarion took note and calmed down but this whole situation was another nail in his coffin, festering in his mind and fouling his relationships with basically everyone else. Apparently, being promised a political slam dunk while being shown a glimpse of the future he wanted wasn't enough for the spiteful cunt.
Nevertheless, Mortarion got his own legion, known as the Dusk Raiders, and swore allegiance to the Emprah. Weirdly, for all his dad and Malcador's worries about him, they didn't see fit to keep him fighting alongside the Emperor like (clearly sane and well-adjusted) Vulkan. Regardless, he wasted little time in transforming the Dusk Raiders into the Death Guard, and proved himself one of the Great Crusade's best frontline generals. Despite his skill and ambition, however, he found himself at the margins of the war. Combined with the genetic heritage of Barbarus, Mortarion's gene-seed produced insanely tough Astartes, which made them the obvious choice for pursuing campaigns in the most inhospitable climates.
As a result of their toughness and the hostile environments they found themselves in, the Death Guard also doubled down on their use of alchemical weapons - seriously nasty shit like Phosphex, vortex weaponry, and radioactive weapons, stuff that most Legions would only entrust to their Destroyer units, were all commonly used by their frontline troops. This was largely because these sorts of weapons had long term health consequences for even most Astartes, and required specialized training in order to mitigate these effects. Since the Death Guard were so biologically resilient, these side effects were of far less concern, and thus basically any old grunt could wield them safely. Consequently the Death Guard found themselves somewhat ostracized and ever further away from the centre of the action. Mortarion was certainly bothered by this lack of renown; the Khan even noted that they were both made to be outriders, but Jaghatai loved his role while Mortarion chafed at it. In fact, when Jaghatai claimed he craved such dominance and acclaim, Mortarion retorted that he deserved it. Unlike Perturabo, though, he wasn't as passive-aggressive-every-word-out-of-your-mouth-bitter about it; he generally just seethed, muttered a snide comment about soft weaklings, then went on to do his job.
This was probably because of a few different factors: pride in his own stoic endurance (like Pert's stage-managed 'dutiful man of iron' image), the fact that he earned an actual reputation as a ruthless asshole to be feared which he relished (as opposed to 'that unnamed comrade who pushes his troops into meat grinder sieges'), and perhaps even the fact that as bleak and pitiless as he was, even Mortarion had things to believe in which stiffened his resolve. He zealously believed every traitor, Xenos, and psyker-ridden planet on the periphery of the Crusade he turned into a toxic charnel heap deserved what they got, which probably gave him some job satisfaction. Plus, for all his faults, he legitimately valued his sons, and knew how to (grimly) honour their efforts and sacrifices, seeing as he made it a practice to share a cup (of Astartes-crippling poisons) with the MVP of every battle. And of course, the fact that he was (mostly) content to be feared rather than loved might have helped make him (slightly) less salty by comparison. Perty wanted to be as beloved and esteemed as the likes of Horus, Fulgrim, and Sanguinius while doing absolutely nothing to warrant it; Morty, on the other hand, just wanted to be the toughest bastard on the block because might makes right and the biggest guy gets to make the rules. The problem was that he already knew it, but the pitiful mortals and bureaucrats back home didn't and were running the show.
While you would think that wanting to be the toughest bastards in the galaxy would be good for a giant spacefaring warrior band, Mortarion's attitude was actually somewhat detrimental to his legion. Where a legion like the Iron Hands or the Space Wolves might encourage healthy rivalries between various members of its command cadre, the Death Guard's seven senior captains actually grew to quite dislike each other as the Crusade progressed. With combat performance being the only thing that Mortarion valued, the Captains would go to significant extremes to improve the performance of their particular Great Company. This resulted in a lot of infighting and political jockeying within the legion, much of which could be subtly detrimental to its fighting effectiveness. For instance, one Great Company officer might "forget" to provide timely artillery fire to another Great Company formation upon request in order to make them look bad. These problems were made worse due to the fact that there were only seven Great Companies. In other legions, seven Company captains disliking each other would hardly matter as they would be comparatively unimportant. But in the Death Guard, the seven Company captains were essentially generals, which made the fact that they all hated each other significantly more problematic. However, for obvious reasons these acts of sabotage were always performed under the radar, and so it was only of marginal significance to the Death Guard's capabilities. The bigger problem was with regard to legion morale. Mortarion was not the most chivalrous of Primarchs, and he had taken over command of a legion that had prided itself on having certain "honorable" tendencies, such as accepting surrenders. As such, Mortarion's "Exterminatus first ask questions later... maybe" mentality sat poorly with many of the Terran legionnaires. When combined with the constant political maneuvering of various legion officers and Mortarion's clear preference for his Barbaran recruits over the Terrans, the Death Guard's legionaries quickly became downright fractious whenever out of Mortarion's earshot.
After a few years of raping and pillaging those filthy xenos, Morty became best buds with Horus and that creepy pseudo-batman. He wasn't that bad of a guy, but he resented pretty much everyone whose upbringing hadn't been as awful as his, except Horus. There's a flashback in the novel Scars where he bitches and moans at Sanguinius, Jaghatai and Fulgrim about how they had it easy before snapping at the Khan that he doesn't resent it. Hmm. Though it might be more accurate to say that he looked down on those who had it easy rather than resenting them since he had, as mentioned earlier, a serious obsession with the concept of Darwinian fitness, but more on that later.
As such, he thought that his crappy upbringing had made him stronger than the more pampered of his brothers. He was also described by Alpharius as being "bleakness personified". He was also probably the strongest of the Primarchs in raw strength and endurance (beaten only by Ferrus Manus in raw strength, according to Jaghatai Khan); In a primarch-on-primarch duel he just absorbed damage, tiring his opponent out. This was in spite of the fact that Mortarion was an almost comically skinny bastard, appearing somewhat like a Primarch scarecrow when you combined his gangly appearance with how dirty and smelly he tended to be.
"Forget no insult, my sons, as I have never forgotten those of my father, of the Emperor, nor those of Horus. Forgive no slight or grievance. Hold your bitterness deep within, and there let it fester. Let it roil and squirm and churn, until you are filled with bile so poisonous that all you touch falls to ruin. Thus shall you serve Nurgle best. Thus shall you spread his virulent gifts across the false Imperium, and watch its final rotting…"
- – Mortarion, being a whiny bitch
For the longest time, we didn't actually quite know why Mortarion joined the Traitors since there weren't many books with him as the protagonist. It was generally presumed as being for ideological reasons rather than being outright corrupted, broken or bat-shit insane since we knew he already considered the Emperor and the Imperial Truth to be hypocritical and had never forgiven the Emperor for being the one to kill his foster "father" instead of him.
Now to many, that second issue might sound petty to the point of outright ridiculousness. They would be entirely correct. He had, after all, accepted the Emperor's challenge, lost, and had then honored his bargain. For all intents and purposes the whole situation should have been over and done with, and for practically any other Primarch (except maybe the similarly Darwinian Ferrus), it would have been. But Mortarion was not simply bitter at having been denied his revenge by the Emperor; his problem ran faaar deeper than that. For you see, his whole Darwinian fitness schtick, which was the axis around which his world turned, had been suffering from a major problem ever since the Emperor had saved him. Mortarion had always been of the opinion that if you could not do something for yourself, then you were weak, and as such did not deserve whatever it was that you'd failed to achieve. Such was simply the way of Barbarus. On a planet that crappy, anyone who was weak just fucking died.
What was even worse in Mortarion's mind than simply not being strong enough to achieve something on one's own, was the concept of achieving something with help. Yet this was precisely what the Emperor had done for Mortarion. He had been too weak to kill his foster father and the Emperor, who was strong, had stepped in and done it for him. To top it all off, the Emperor had done it with contemptuous ease; the Overlord had been as nothing to him, and had been felled in a single blow. Both the resentment and the feelings of inadequacy caused by the Golden Giga-chad's casual display of might had been festering inside Mortarion throughout the whole of the Crusade, causing his desire for greater strength to grow into a Fulgrim-level obsession. He also felt that the whole goal of the Imperium was idiotic. To Mortarion, the Emperor's intention to build an Imperium of Man essentially meant building an empire of, and for, the weak. Worse yet, it was those who were strong, the Primarchs and Astartes, who were building it for them. It seemed to Mortarion like this Imperium of Man would have the strong serving the weak, and that was a complete inversion of what he believed to be proper. As time had ground on and his internalization of his failure upon Barbarus continued to gnaw at him, his opinion of the weak became ever more contemptuous. He would go from simply dismissing the weak to outright despising them, and believing that they did not deserve to live as anything other than fodder for the strong. And again, to be fair to him, this was simply the way of Barbarus. You had to pull your own weight at the very least; there was simply no other option.
Like Horus, Mortarion also hated the influence that civilians had begun to wield post-Ullanor, seeing them as unworthy and, well, weak. Horus' rebellion promised an order based on Might Is Right, and if the Warmaster died in the process of overthrowing the Emprah, then Mortarion might get a shot at the top job. So he was probably like "Yeah I won't worship Chaos, but I'll follow you anyway!" with Horus. Then again, a flashback with Malcador tells us that between the jailkeeper relationship with his adoptive dad, wanting to kill said foster parent, failing and watching his real dad kill said evil dad and finally finding out that his real dad was also a psyker (basically everything that he hated) that dabbled with the Warp behind everyone's back; Mortarion might have had mental scars of similar significance to Curze's and Angron's. He may simply have been better at hiding them. If his own statements are to be believed, then he, like Angron, was also not a fan of people he considered to be tyrants (like his necro-daddy) and as far as he was concerned, the Emperor fit that description to a T.
If he was telling Jaghatai the truth, in Horus he saw a leader who could give the strong freedom to dominate the galaxy, driving out the weak and impure. At the same time, Horus might not keep the throne once he got it; there would be "room to rise" when the war was over-- specifically, room for Mortarion to take Horus's place. However, that wasn't as easy as he thought, especially when he saw just how many despised psykers, witches, and sorcerers were running around all over the place. As a last-ditch attempt to change the balance, he tried to recruit Jaghatai Khan on Prospero, using the Warrior Lodges to subvert the White Scars. Being an architect of the Librarius and a generally cool guy, the Khan told Mortarion he was an idiot and went to town on the Death Lord. Mortarion gave Jaghatai the fight of his life, but eventually ran away to take his butthurt out on the rest of the Prosperine system, all the while brooding over the Khan's taunts. He'd thrown his lot in with the thing he hated the most and now that he'd run out of allies, it was going to claim him.
All of this makes for a fairly interesting look into Mortarion's psyche in that his reasons for turning appeared to have been unusually self-serving for a Traitor Primarch. For example, Horus seemed to have actually convinced himself that he was the good guy in the Heresy, Fulgrim basically just got addicted to space opioids, Angron hated the Emperor for letting all his bros die (and had significant brain damage to boot), Curze was a raving lunatic with a split personality, Lorgar's god fixation simply found a new target, who knows with Alpharius/Omegon, Magnus did
nothing everything wrong, and Perturabo, despite being an absolute child, thought that he had been used and abused by Daddy E. Mortarion on the other hand appears mostly to have just gotten fed up with the way the Imperium was being run and wanted more power for himself. Kinda based in all honesty...
The Scars novel kinda retcons the start of Mortarion's descent here -- the Khan thinks that Mortarion's "power" has grown (probably psychically) and that the guy's face looks discoloured around his rebreather. Despite this, he still insisted on claiming he was the only "pure" Primarch.
After failing to convert the Khan to the dark side, the two of them proceeded to duel. At first, it seemed like Mortarion was totally out of his depth; the Khan scored far more hits on Mortarion than he took in turn, and generally seemed to be dancing around his comparatively slow, clumsy brother. As the duel wore on however, the Khan noted that though he was winning in terms of damage dealt, it didn't seem to matter. Mortarion was just tanking what should have been debilitating injuries and the Khan, for the first time in his life, was getting tired. As the Khan lost stamina, he was forced to block more and more of Mortarion's attacks rather than dodge them. He quickly found that though Mortarion could not match him for speed, he could not match Mortarion for strength, and he realized that a battle of attrition was not going to end in his favor. The only path to victory was if he could manage to decisively overwhelm his brother. As such, the Khan decided to launch one final, all-out offensive against Mortarion before he became too tired to fight. Before he could make the attempt however, Mortarion backed off and teleported back up to his fleet in orbit. This gave the Khan the opportunity to do the same, and thus began a nearly seven year long game of cat-and-also-cat between the Death Guard and the White Scars as the Traitors advanced on Terra.
Just after getting into that scrap with the Khan, he travelled to a library world that once belonged to the Thousand Sons and set about purging it to find a particular person possessed by a daemon. This would prove a turning point, as he kept the daemon in order to extract knowledge on how to defeat daemons, but ended up getting goaded into using sorcerous powers to blast the creature into a mushy pulp and declaring that he would learn all he could about his enemy in order to learn how to better eradicate it - which the daemon had foreseen as the beginning of Mortarion's descent into Nurgle's Pocket.
The retcon continues here, as Mortarion's claims to "purity" are mocked to his face and we're told that a Chaos God has already staked a claim on him. It's also pretty clear that Mortarion's close to going nuts even before this push, as his quarters are littered with Scientific Anti-Warp Devices (AKA shit tons of charms, incantations and numerical codes which do hurt Daemons... once he starts using the Warp). Oh yeah, and he makes speeches about how destroying worlds is good for the soul.
Following this he went on a psychic binge on Molech, using the daemon prince who his old captain Ignatius Grulgor had become to wipe out entire cities. He also took a blast from a Stormhammer cannon in the face, stayed on his feet, and destroyed the goddamn superheavy tank.
Apparently the tank shell was loaded with a rare substance known as "common sense" (and his regular author was back) so Mortarion retreated from the Warp again, smashed up his trinkets, locked Grulgor away, banned sorcery again (although that only applied to his own Legion and he was more lenient on his allies) and generally treated the whole thing as some kind of lost weekend/failed experiment. His paranoia only got worse when First Captain Typhon disappeared, and then Horus assigned him the task of destroying the White Scars. Mortarion was so suspicious that he accused Horus of trying to get him killed, not appreciating that he was the only one Horus could trust to Get Shit Done in this scenario until Horus explained that the other Primarchs had fucked off, were uncontrollable, disillusioned, not really fans in the first place or were too busy pursuing personal vendettas.
To that end Mortarion worked alongside Eidolon of the Emperor's Children, and despite Eidolon being a glory-whore who was all for using Chaos to modify himself wherever he could while also employing sorcerers (while Mortarion is the polar opposite), the two got along really well (mostly because Mortarion made it clear Eidolon was working with him and not for him). Surprisingly, Mortarion arguably treated Eidolon better than Eidolon's own Primarch, given how Mortarion was supportive and didn't cut Eidolon's head off.
The mission would have gone swimmingly, if the Scars' head psyker hadn't opened up a Webway gate. Still, Mortarion was able to break open the Khan's flagship and teleported aboard with three hundred Terminators... only to find the ship empty, with the Khan and co evacuated to another ship (admittedly Jaghatai hated doing it, feeling like he was a coward for running away). Next thing he knew, the shields came back and his force was zerg rushed by the last of the Sagyar Mazan death squads formed from disgraced (cuz they attempted to usurp the Khan) White Scars. So he watched as his nemesis escaped and the warriors he'd once hoped would force the Khan to join them redeemed themselves by delaying him. And worst of all? They did it while laughing.
And all the while, all his ships were getting grimier and the mortals were getting sicker...
Eventually Mortarion got fed up with Typhon fucking around the galaxy on his own and tried to use Eidolon's sorcerers to locate him, but his first captain didn't turn up again until the very last stage of the Heresy. He rejoined the fleet and convinced Mortarion to lead the assault on Terra from his ship, Terminus Est. After they entered the Warp, Typhon ordered all the Navigators killed, claiming they were secretly loyalists, and convinced Mortarion that he and his other psykers could get them safely to Terra.
Though you might expect Mortation to flip his shit over his First Captain revealing himself as a psyker and offing dozens of others who were at least grudgingly tolerated by Morty, there is an explanation: according to The Buried Dagger, Typhon planted some evidence that showed the Navigators were scheming to drive the fleet into a supermassive black hole on orders from Malcador, then executed them all before Mortarion could stop him. Morty was pissed, but recognized that he had no other choice but to trust Typhon. It also turns out that Typhon was literally the first normal human Mortarion ever interacted with on Barbarus and was one of the first recruits for his original Death Guard, so Mortarion trusted him probably as much as he trusted anyone anymore.
Of course this bit him on the ass, since his big ol' fleet got caught in a Warp Storm on its way to Terra, where they had to suffer diseases which would kill anyone else. The Death Guard's legendary endurance was turned against them, holding them just on the edge of death, suffering so hard that it makes a Dark Eldar torture feel like a tender massage (no, really).
What would be the best way to stop the disease? Start the worship of the God of the Diseases, of course!
To be fair, Typhon was already doing that -- in fact, he was the one who arranged for them to be caught in the warp storm in the first place. Mortarion realized this and killed him but being an acolyte of Nurgle already, and being on a ship flooded with Grandpappy's warp contagions, he just got right back up. Then Mortarion killed him again, only this time he used Grulgor to try to do it. He basically just tossed the monster into a room with Typhon and expected Grulgor to do as monsters typically do.
Evidently however, Mortarion had forgotten that they were on a ship in the middle of a warp storm and full of Nurgle's own power, so this ultimately had just about the exact opposite effect as Mortarion wanted. As Grulgor was already a walking Nurgle bioweapon, he and Typhon simply combined into a significantly worse Nurgle bioweapon known as Typhus, all while laughing at Mortarion. Unable to endure the suffering any longer, Mortarion gave in and pledged himself and his Legion to Nurgle.
Nurgle was of course very pleased by this and he ended their suffering, buuuut with the slight caveat of turning them all into walking sacks of rotting meat that simply won't die; better known as our beloved Plague Marines. Mortarion himself... actually didn't change all that much. Aside from getting a rather scabby face and a fuckhueg pair of moth wings, he looks near-identical to his pre-Chaos self. Rather ironically, his armor actually looks significantly cleaner now than it did before he turned into the foremost Daemon Prince of pus and rot. When he transformed, for whatever reason the armor changed in color from an off-white covered in rust stains to a sort of dull radioactive green. Though it is highly doubtful that Mortarion cleans his new suit any more often than his old one (ie never), the green seems to take far more aesthetically to grime than his white armor did.
This act of "swearing loyalty" takes on a different context when you realize that Mortarion utterly despised the Ruinous Powers (even if he may have been getting some assistance from them towards the end of the Heresy, if the events of Scars are to be believed) and only submitted to Nurgle because he physically couldn't suffer any longer or watch his sons do the same. Certain fluff sources literally state that as Mortarion lay in agony he pictured himself once again defeated atop his surrogate father's lair, too weak to fight on in the face of certain death, only this time he knew the Emperor wasn't going to save him from his fate (when you consider the importance he placed on strength and the refusal to surrender, this becomes an even bigger nightmare).
And so, after a lifetime of striving to become the toughest, grimmest, most unstoppable motherfucker in the galaxy, he crumbled when the stakes were highest, and lost his soul to Chaos, becoming everything he hated most. Now that is Grimdark.
"My endurance is… superior."
- – Jaghatai Khan refusing to let Morty's new Daemon status get in the way of the sick burns.
Despite being held up by his faustian bargain to the point of not participating in the Solar War at all, Horus let Mortarion's Death Guard be the first to set their swollen, stinky feet on Terra as promised. During the meeting that facilitated this, it's explicitly stated that Morty's stench was bad enough to make TRAITOR MARINES convulse. Holy shit.
Morty oversaw the sieges on the western regions of the Imperial Palace, spreading all manner of disease and bad times wherever he appeared. Notably, he didn't bother trying to get rid of Big E's psychic shield. He did however mock Perturabo for not fully embracing Chaos during a war council. This is weird considering Mortarion never did so by choice and had earlier railed against the corruption he now found himself utilizing. Nevertheless, he let Typhus work with Perty to enact a ritual against Empy's psychic shields. Following this meeting, he met with Magnus to discuss an attack on the Colossi Gate under orders by Perturabo. Yes, Perty's ability to read people is so bad he ordered Mortarion and Magnus to cooperate on an assault.
Magnus sent Ahriman to gauge Morty's demeanor prior to the two primarchs' encounter. Ahriman makes note of how much pain Morty's in, as well as the eternal decay he'd now suffer from. While Ahriman was taken aback by how Morty could ever continue to endure such unimaginable torment, he takes delight in seeing him suffer anyway. He pays special attention to what is by now abundantly clear: despite railing against sorcerers he has become one, like a drunkard preaching temperance despite failing to stay sober. To put salt in the festering wound, Mortarion was the first and biggest anti-witch instigator but the only one of them who couldn't keep his principles. After being the root cause of Prospero's demise, seeing Mortarion have nothing to show for his false strength except a legacy of failure and hypocrisy was a revenge most delicious to Ahriman.
This is exactly the information Magnus needs so that when he and Mortarion speak again, Magnus can manipulate the Pale King to his own ends. Magnus chose to enter the room with style, followed by adopting a physical form that makes himself look meek and deferential. Much to Magnus' pleasure, Morty is unsettled by this. He supposedly forgives Morty, placating him and giving assurance that Morty's submission to Nurgle and current pain was empowering. Magnus didn't hold a grudge or ill will, and eased some of Morty's suffering with some psychic power to prove it. This gave Morty a quick pick-me-up. Of course this was all a ruse; Magnus needed Morty buttered up and 100% so that the assault would give him the opening he needed to enter the Imperial Palace and continue his quest.
Reinvigorated, Morty organized an attack on the Colossi Gate. The assault was particularly vicious, facing a 300-man jetbike counterattack that devastated the Death Guard. Demons were summoned and morale-sapping spells were cast, but White Scars Stormseers were able to hold the line. Magnus used the whole thing as a screen to infiltrate the Imperial Dungeon, unbeknownst to Morty. At some point during the Siege, Mortarion was casting a giant depression spell that afflicted the defenders and even tested Rogal's resolve.
After Perty chose to stop carrying the traitors and throw what could've been the biggest W for Chaos in history, Mortarion and his men took up Perty's former positions. His new base would be the Lion's Gate Spaceport, given by Horus. Not one to sit around, Jaghatai Khan had other ideas like making sure the loyalist reinforcements had a place to dock when they arrived. The fight for the spaceport was massive, and eventually the Death Lord would be challenged by The Warhawk of Chogoris. Mortarion was able to thrash around Jaghatai with ease, thanks to his newfound demonic power. But Morty found that vicious insults from an old foe could cut quite deep. He was told he had a horrific stench, wasn't truly in charge of the legion unlike Typhon, and was an unworthy foe compared to the Legion Master. Mortarion beat down Jaghatai so much that it made Morty TIRED. When a confused Morty asked why Jaghatai just took his beating, the response was earth-shattering. Morty was told by Jaghatai that by absorbing the punishment he had superior endurance to someone who gave up to Nurgle's demands. The realization that everyone thought he was a weakling instead of someone who made the ultimate sacrifice for the strength of himself and his sons made Mortarion snap with rage.
He made an exaggerated show of finishing off Jaghatai, but it was a ruse. This left Morty vulnerable to a sudden resurgence by Jaghatai which proved just about overwhelming. With very little left in the tank, he could barely do anything more than get a beating in return. Though Mortarion was taken off guard, both he and Jaghatai knew it would not be enough; even tired, Mortarion was still a Daemon. However, Mortarion's exhaustion had finally slowed him down and his rage had made him comparatively sloppy (heh). The Khan, realizing this and having counted on it to a degree, positioned himself to get impaled by the edge of the Death Lord's scythe Silence. With Mortarion's weapon momentarily stuck in the Khan, he was unable to block Jaghatai's decapitating stroke. And thus, Mortarion was banished to the warp via a massive explosion reminiscent of vortex weapons. Mortarion's men would be disoriented by the banishment of their lord and forced out from the spaceport.
Mortarion's suffering does not end here, however...
After recovering from his French haircut at the hands of the Khan, Mortarion made epic formations, and marched his ships (yes, marched them!) to the Eye of Terror; as a reward for his service and his ability to keep his Legion from disintegrating on the way to the Eye, Nurgle gave him a nice new home, known as the Plague Planet, which they started decorating and uhh... "cleaning". Yes, seriously. Mortarion changed the Plague Planet to resemble Barbarus which caused Typhus to abandon him in disgust of the sentimentality (not to mention he was more interested in getting shit done). Nurgle on the other hand, likes good gardeners and wholly approved of the whole venture. Nurgle is also a tremendous fan of grimy couch potatoes, so Mortarion sitting around doing nothing for about 10,000 years also drew Nurgle's approval. Though Mortarion was somewhat displeased with Typhus' insubordination, he allowed Typhus to leave rather than trying to control his former Captain as the Emperor sought to control him.
Incidentally, did we mention that he built his fortress atop the high mountains shrouded in toxic miasma and rules over billions of slaves? You know, exactly like the Overlord of Barbarus all those millennia ago?
Ever since getting the Plague Planet Mortarion hasn't done all that much (though he's far from being the laziest Primarch in the setting). The whole enslavement and broken-by-plague thing has probably hurt Mortarion's motivation a little bit, whereas Fulgrim, Angron and Magnus all get to have some fun with their Chaos abilities, Mortarion is just stuck in a morass of self-hatred. He's basically ended up like his adoptive father, punishing all his subjects for being too weak to rebel against him-- by proxy, punishing himself for his own weakness. In those moments he was not completely consumed with self-loathing, though, he got creative and designed toys for his sons to play with like the Plagueburst Crawler.
To his credit, he did make himself useful in the Fall of Sanctia in 437.M36 by sending an army of diseased Orks to soften the planet up, then made their corpses explode into a massive horde of Nurglings when he and the Death Guard landed, wiping out all life in less than a day. It's also emerged that he helped Typhus concoct the Plague of Unbelief, which helped raise the curtain on Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade. More recently, he led the Death Guard's invasion of Ultramar to kick off the Plague Wars.
Apparently at some point in time after his ascension Mortarion spent a millennium tracking down the soul of his foster "father", which he now keeps in a clockwork thing on his flagship. Said device now plagues the former Overlord with unimaginably awful diseases and poisons... and he's promised him that after the Imperium falls the real torture will begin. You know what they say, better late than never.
The Draigo Incident
TL;DR: he got his ass handed to him by Kaldor Draigo who carved the name of the previous SUPREME GRAND MASTER, Geronitan, into one of Mortarion's hearts.
The longer story, as told by the Audio Drama Mortarion's Heart: Geronitan more or less baited Mortarion and allowed whole sectors to die under the Primarch's massive force (every Nurgle cult and warband within 100 sectors) until he showed up at Kornovin, which was one of the few places the Grey Knights could perform the ritual to bind his soul and kill him for good. It failed due to the fact that Geronitan forgot to wear a helmet so Mortarion just Plague Winded him to death and laughed as the entire Grey Knights Chapter cried (yes, this happened). But when you think that just a Hive-World has between 10 billion and 500 billion humans on it, and that one sector will probably have dozens of these types of planets (plus Shrine Worlds, at the very least one or two Forge Worlds, at least one Astartes Chapter, Knight Worlds, etc.), this retarded death was probably the Emperor' punishment for his massive failures.
Afterwards, Kaldor got elected, mostly because he's the most expendable Grand Master who's also skilled enough to fight the Death Lord. Grand Master Crom gave Kaldor a potent weapon, the true name The Emperor gave to Mortarion.
After a laughably short and one sided fight, which was really just Mortarion punching Kaldor in the face over and over again, Kaldor was able to light Mortarion's cape on fire when Mortarion eventually got a hand cramp. Mortarion paused for a second because that was his VERY favorite cape and became distracted enough to allow Kaldor to slip Mortarion's true name into the Death Lord's mind, which caused him to FUCKING EXPLODE somehow. Usually this would result in the demon being immobilized at most (e.g Azrael versus a DP of Tzeentch in "Trials of Azrael), but Morty's True Name came from Big E himself so that would fuck Morty up BIG TIME. Kaldor then crawled over to a helpless, nearly broken in half Mortarion and wrote Geronitan's name on Mortarion's heart in magic marker.
He is still incredibly bitter about his loss. More so than usual, anyway. It came to a head in Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate - Daemonhunters, where ol' Morty boy orchestrated a plague some time post-Cicatrix called the Bloom of Nurgle that would potentially threaten Terra, which was really just a trap in attempt to get even with the upstart who humiliated him and vandalized his heart. Draigo and 4 other Grey Knights (along with 4 others doing a rearguard to block off reinforcements) would stop this plan and defeat Morty in Nurgle's OWN BACKYARD.
Amazingly, Matt Ward had nothing to do with any of this- it was Aaron Dembski-Bowden of all people, the guy who spent most of his own Grey Knights book jacking off over the Space Wolves.
Mortarion was sulking in a pile of slime as usual when the winds of the Warp whispered that his brother Roboute Guilliman had finally been pulled off life-support and took the position of Lord-Commander of the Imperium. Morty was not pleased that Rowboat got a second chance at life while he remained in Grandpa Nurgle's clutches, so the Death Lord decided to finally get off his ass and start acting like a Daemon Primarch for once!
He brought the Death Guard to real space after Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade succeeded in expanding the Eye of Terror (and nothing else). Magnus failed to kill Guilliman when he had the chance so, prepared to get shit done, Morty Boy planned out a massive campaign called the Plague Wars to meticulously rot and plague every single planet in Ultramar. He released many different plagues, including several variations of Typhus' Zombie Plague: Shoot the zombies and you only make it worse since they explode into a swarm of full-grown Nurglings. For a guy who spent 10,000 years sitting on his ass and getting beat up by Mary Sues, he proved surprisingly effective at penetrating deep into Ultramar before Gorillaman was able to halt his advance. Nurgle's little scythe boy managed to carve out 3 whole star systems for the Death Guard to use as their base of operations in real space: The Scourge Stars.
Alas, Mortarion's big Ultramar come-back tour was bound to end eventually. Guilliman's waifu Yvraine headed into the Warp and retrieved an eldar artifact called the Rose of Isha, which let the Ynnari take back the Hand of Darkness and slow the spread of the Death Guard's plagues, leading to the Ultrasmurfs pushing the rotting bastards back. Mortarion and Guilliman clashed personally on the hospital world of Iax. Unlike his duel with Magnus, Robby G didn't have the Adeptus Custodes or Sisters of Silence backing him up, so the two were at a complete stalemate, Mortarion's strength and resilience vs. Guilliman's tactical genius. However, as revealed in Godblight, Ku'Gath concocted super-AIDs named...well...Godblight, which could kill even Primarchs and Greater Daemons.
The Death Guard eventually had to retreat, as Khorne and Tzeentch had grown jealous of Nurgle's fledgling empire and were sending forces to take it for themselves while the Death Guard was away. But Morty was too much of a stuck-up bitch to listen to Typhus to get his ass back home or else Nurgle is forced to slap a bitch and continued his personal clash with Grandpa Smurf, complaining that he won't be a slave to either the Emprah or Nurgle. In the end, Morty got the upper hand and injected Roboute with said super-AIDS, killing him a second time.
The Big Blue suddenly turned a slightly different shade of blue before unkilling himself with the aid of a literal Deus ex Machina. The Emprah promptly possessed Grandpa Smurf, told Morty he can still be redeemed which shocked him and proceeded to do to Nurgle what Kaldor Draigo did to Mortarion. This time with more fire and less sword. Nurgle was wounded. BIG TIME and it is implied to be permanent too as the Gardens of Nurgle went up in flames and his precious Cauldron got cracked opened a new one. Suffice to say, if Papa Nurgle hasn't pulled a Neckbeard rage, he is now. Looks like someone is gonna get his ass smacked back home.
Having his boy pucci molested next to Isha.
Also at one point after the Great Rift appeared to fuck shit up, Perturabo led the Iron Warriors to attack a temple planet. However, the Death Guard had the same idea too and were attacking. What's more was that they were led by Mortarion. As to be expected the two Primarchs had a grand old family reunion (a big fight resulting in heavy losses on both sides with Titans being destroyed). The duel lasted for seven hours but Mortarion managed to beat Perturabo and drive him off. Being the salty Primarch he is, Perturabo detonated a series of explosives before he left.
During a talk with one of his Chaos Lords, Mortarion states that he has no desire to go back to Terra or wreck havoc on the Imperium on such a scale as the Heresy. He said that the damage inflicted on Terra was beyond horrific and would never heal (considering just how downtrodden the Imperium is he is definitely right) and he also states that his fellow Brother-Primarchs ARE RETURNING TO REALSPACE! (Holy Shit, Mortarion vs Khan ROUND
After Magnus the Red got a Daemon Primarch model, rumor was that either Mort or Angron would receive one next. In early 2017, an image of Daemon Mortarion started floating around the internet. A recent video on Warhammer TV confirmed that he will have a model, as well as plastic Plague Marines. He came out in force to help the first ever Death Guard codex as the third 40k Primarch release.
Mortarion is a tough opponent: with the Primarch rule, T/W 7, flat dice wounds like poisoned and fleshbane wound on 6's, rerollable IWND and Toughness tests, 2+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save, he's basically a Gargantuan Creature for all intents and purposes. He negates Maledictions affecting him or his unit on a 4+, (which isn't a Deny the Witch, so Adamantium Will doesn't help and you get his 5+ DtW after, though it works out to being exactly the same as nullifying them on a 3+ anyway), Death Guard gain Stubborn and Poisoned (4+) on all frag grenades and missiles which is pretty sickening. For weapons he has the Lantern pistol which is almost a pistol meltagun, phosfex bombs (an unlimited supply of them, and he can throw them at double the range!), frag grenades and Silence, a S7 AP 2 no longer unwieldy power scythe with sweep attacks that causes Instant Death and reroll failed penetration rolls. Great for getting rid of that annoying Praetor or captain. Notably, he's also one of the only characters in fiction who knows how the hell you're supposed to hold a scythe! Take that, Poldark!
They also gave him the Shadow Of The Reaper rule. It makes enemy units take a fear check at -1 leadership. By itself in normal 40k rules, it's situationally great, making it pretty mediocre on the whole, but in the pre-ATSKNF 30k setting, it's much more useful. But much more importantly, it gives him a special move in the shooting phase: if Mortarion isn't locked in combat or embarked and doesn't shoot or run, he can take a leadership test and teleport 10 inches away from his current position. It does not count as moving, does not scatter, and does not prevent him from charging (But he does count as making a disordered charge. Not that big of a problem, seriously). There are some other caveats, but he effectively has a minimum 18" charge range without factoring in his base size, and he is fleet to boot. Because he's fucking terrifying.
Mortarion is among the top 3 best Primarchs for his points, as SotR lets him reach combat by turn 2 unless you fail your Ld test. Furthermore, Stubborn is an absolute game-changer in 30k, as it drastically reduces your odds of breaking in Assault and Poisoned allows you to functionally ignore certain legions Toughness shenanigans (and it makes it easier to hurt Mechanicus). He doesn't really need a transport or retinue, giving you more points to put towards dakka, and provided you're smart enough to avoid concentrated AP2 you're very likely to see the end of the game. He can't fight Land Raiders, but with 5 S7 Sunder attacks you shouldn't underestimate his ability to fuck up Dreadnoughts. Ultimately, his biggest strength is that unlike Angron or Vulkan he is an effective force multiplier who gives a lot to his army while needing almost no support in return.
His model is equally as badass as his rules, if you can get past the fact that he doesn't have a rebreather (it's a part of his armor's chest piece now, which still begs the question, why not just give him a rebreather and shut fa/tg/uys up on the subject?). Although the designer probably thought that he didn't really need to breathe, and he's probably immune to anything poisonous anyway (on Prospero the Khan had to go in totally suited up, whereas the Death Lord just strolled in dressed just the same as normal, and Girlyman established that Primarchs can breathe in an incredibly thin atmosphere - he can apparently fight in near-vacuum for hours on end without a helmet, because fuck physics). (Even in-universe, Guilliman's ability to fight in the void without a helmet and little oxygen has Imperial scholars going "WTF?")
Mortarion 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 (especially with Mortarion who can mathematically always go the entire game in a Primarch duel), with that in mind this section is how Mortarion 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 never changes the outcome of the fights, the winner is still the winner with or without it) 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.
- Mortarion VS Horus
- Horus will use Worldbreaker (as wounding on 2's is better than re-rolling to wound) and hits 3.999 times, wounds 3.332 times, 1.666 after saves and IWND will take that down to 1.111 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.555 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.222.
- Mortarion loses this fight.
- Mortarion VS Angron
- Round 1: Angron has Hatred, so on the first turn he will instead hits 5.333 times, wounds 3.555 times, 1.777 after saves, and IWND take it down to 1.222.
- Round 2: Angron hits 4 times, wounds 2.666 times, 1.333 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.778 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion 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.
- Mortarion just barely loses this fight by one turn as his extra wound almost allows him to outlast Angron.
- Mortarion VS Fulgrim
- Fulgrim hits 5.333 times, wounds 2.666 times (Fireblade)/1.777 times (Laer Blade), 1.333 times (Fireblade)/0.888 times (Laer Blade) after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.778/0.333 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.555 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.222.
- Mortarion loses this fight either by a little or a lot depending on whether or not Fulgrim has Fireblade or not.
- Mortarion VS Ferrus
- Ferrus with Forgebreaker: hits 2 times and 0.5 with his servo arm, wounds 1.666 times with Forgebreaker and 0.333 with his Servo-Arm (1.999 total), 0.999 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.444 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Ferrus with Bare Hands: hits 2 times and 0.5 with his servo arm, wounds 1 time with his hands and 0.333 with his Servo-Arm (1.333 total), 0.666 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.111 times at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.25 times, 0.416 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.083.
- Even though Mortarion is tough in the end Ferrus wins pretty easily thanks to his superior save and damage.
- Mortarion VS Konrad Curze
- Curze hits 4 times, wounds 2.221 times, 1.11 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.555 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.833 wounds after saves and 0.5 wounds after IWND.
- Mortarion wins as even though he does less damage he'll outlast Curze.
- Note: If Curze Hit & Runs Mortarion loses. With +1 attack on the charge, HoW and his knives, Curze kills Mortarion in 9 rounds while Mortarion would need 11 (counting Overwatch).
- Mortarion VS Vulkan
- Vulkan hits 2 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.833 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.278 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.25 times, 0.415 wounds after saves and 0 wounds after IWND.
- Mortarion loses as mathematically he's incapable of harming Vulkan.
- Mortarion VS Lorgar
- Lorgar hits Mortarion 2.5 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.833 after saves and IWND will take that to 0.278 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Round 1: Mortarion hits 2.961 times, wounds 1.752 times, 0.876 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.543 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Round 2: Mortarion hits 3.333 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.
- Even with forcing Mortarion to re-roll 5's and 6's for the first round Mortarion still beats Lorgar. He also loses to invisible Lorgar Transfigured just like every other Primarch (mathematically he causes 0 wounds to him).
- Mortarion VS Perturabo
- Perturabo hits 2.666 times (both types), wounds 1.333 times (Normal)/2.221 times (Forgebreaker), 0.666 wounds (Normal)/1.11 wounds (Forgebreaker) after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.111/0.555 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666 times, 0.555 wounds after saves and 0.222 wounds after IWND.
- Mortarion wins but only if Perturabo doesn't bring Forgebreaker.
- Mortarion VS Alpharius
- Alpharius hits 2.92 times and wounds 1.136 times, 0.568 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.0124 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.667 times, 0.833 wounds after saves and 0.5 wounds after IWND.
- Mortarion wins
- Mortarion VS Rogal Dorn
- Dorn hits 2.666 times (Normal)/1.333 times (Sundering Blow), wounds 1.48 times (normal)/1.183 times (Sundering Blow), 0.74/0.59 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.185/0.035 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666, 0.833 wounds after saves and 0.5 wounds after IWND.
- Mortarion wins in 12 turns as Dorn does a lot less damage in return.
- Mortarion VS Corvus Corax
- Corvus hits 4 times (Scourge)/3 times (Shadow-walk), wounds 2.221 times (Scourge)/1.666 times (Shadow-walk), 1.11 wounds (Scourge)/0.833 wounds (Shadow-walk) after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.556/0.278 wounds at the start of the next turn.
- Mortarion hits 2.5/1.666 times, wounds 1.666/1.11 times, 1.11/0.74 wounds after saves and 0.777/0.407 wounds after IWND.
- Mortarion wins either way in this fight, he causes more overall damage, has more wounds, and regenerates faster. In addition even if Corax runs away Mortarion's ability to teleport will mean he'd catch Corax very quickly after he re-appears so he cannot run away to heal which would render this a stalemate.
- Note: Corax could attempt to "cheat" his way to victory thanks to his special rules, especially Sire of the Raven Guard (which grants him Super-Furious Charge) and Hit & Run. With this he could disengage at the end of Mortarion's assault phase, in order to charge him again during his turn. Using this tactic he would Shoot with his pistols for 1.9444 hits, 0.648 wounds, 0.108 wounds after saves, then charge in with Hammer of Wrath gaining 0.333 wounds, and 0.0555 wounds after saves, then attack with the Panoply which hits 4.5 times (scourge), wounds 3.375 times, 1.6875 after saves and 1.132 with IWND for a total of 1.296 Wounds. This, combined with Shadow-walk during Mortarion's assault phase in order to mitigate his retaliation barely lets Corax win if he goes charging scourge in round 7, then scourge again in round 8 as he strikes before Mortarion, compared to 8 rounds needed for Mortarion to kill Corvus (this is including Overwatch with The Lantern).
- Though this looks like a close fight at first glance, this tactic relies completely on Hit and Run (which is more akin to Corvus's fighting style), as well as assumes the Charging always works out in Corvus's favour and so the strategy will mathematically fail over the eight rounds needed to kill Mortarion (as there's mathematically one turn that either Hit and Run or Charging will fail when Mortarion consolidates away from Corvus's consolidation) giving the victory to Mortarion again. But that's actually the same chance of Corax Blinding Mortarion (Not included in the fights), so the odds are still the same.
- Mortarion VS Roboute Guilliman
- Round 1: Guilliman hits 2.5 times, wounds 2.083 times (With Hand of Dominion), 1.042 after saves, and IWND take it down to 0.486.
- Round 2 and after: Guilliman hits 3.333 times (Thanks to Preternatura Strategy), wounds 2.777 times, 1.388 times after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.833.
- Mortarion hits 2.5 times, wounds 1.666, 0,833 after saves, 0.417 wounds after Armor of Reason, and after IWND they become 0.083 wounds.
- Guilliman wins in 8 turns as Mortarion's damage is almost irrelevant.
- Mortarion vs. Leman Russ
- Mortarion: Hits 1.66 times, wounds 1.1 times, Leman's invul save brings it down to 0.55 and IWND brings it down to 0.363.
- Leman Hits 4 times, wounds 2.64 times (with his Axe), Invul save brings it down to 1.32 and IWND brings it down to 0.8712.
- Not even a contest, as usual with the Space Wolves Primarch. It will take Leman just over 8 rounds to drop Mortation (8.03 to be precise) while it will take Mortation over 16 rounds to kill Leman, so even without the Sword (and Sever Life) Mortation is a goner. Leman is the executioner Primarch, so all the Primarch lose to him.
- Mortarion vs Jaghatai Khan
- Jaghatai hits 4 times, wounds 1.333 times, 0.666 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.111.
- Mortarion hits 3 times, wounds 1.5 times, 0.5 wounds after saves and IWND will take that down to 0.166.
- Mortarion wins after several ice ages.
- Jaghatai could probably bag this fight if he hits-and-runs, but it'll stick take a loooooong time.
- TLDR version: Mortarion's good against Vanilla Lorgar, Hammerless Perturabo, Alpharius, Rogal Dorn, Corvus Corax and bad against Horus, Angron, Fulgrim, Ferrus, Lorgar Transfigured, Vulkan, Curze, Perturabo with Hammer and Guilliman, putting him quite in the middle of the road for Primarch duelling.
- Dirty Trick: Use Morturg and put Endurance on Mortarion, if you do this Mortarion can beat everyone (including Lorgar Transfigured) except Horus, Fulgrim (with Fireblade) and Vulkan as his damage output will exceed theirs or his extra wound will allow him to outlast them and/or they will be unable to hurt him at all mathematically. The reason Horus Vulkan and Fulgrim still win is because Mortarion will eventually be unable to hurt Horus thanks to Disabling Strike, Fulgrim just causes too much damage (and some of his attacks ignore FnP) and Vulkan's Instant Death hammer ignores FnP.
Morty remains a very hardy opponent in the new edition, with 7s in Movement, WS, S, and T. On top of the many benefits being a Primarch provides, he also gets a 4+ IWND roll, a 3++ Adamantium Will save and Hatred (Psykers). Preternatural Resilience makes him even harder to hit, as he forces any Fleshbane, Rending or Poisoned weapons to hit on a 6+, stripping a lot of advantages from plenty of weapons, though Breaching weapons like Plasma remain a threat.
His Warlord Trait Sire of the Death Guard seriously helps his forces, as it grants his troops immunity to Fear and Shell Shock and they no longer suffer penalties for Leadership due to casualties in melee. All of this ensures that his legion is always standing fast, and stacked with the Legion Trait, it means they will flinch at practically nothing as they march down the board, blasting away with their biggest guns. Adding to this is an extra reaction in the enemy assault phase.
While Shadow of the Reaper doesn't cause Morale issues (That's left to him having Fear (2) now), he remains capable of teleporting at will as he no longer needs to take a Leadership check to do so. The one holdback is that he now is unable to ditch any command squad or deathshroud he accompanies, which will force you to think twice about who you attach him to, if you have him accompanied at all.
For weapons, he retains Silence as his chief weapon, a massive Two-Handed S+1 AP2 power weapon with Sunder, Instant Death, and Reaping Blow (2). This means that he can easily carve apart any mobs he comes across. The Lantern also remains, a short-ranged S8 AP2 plasma pistol with Sunder so it doesn't need to worry about overheating or Breaching. He also carries 7 phosphex bombs, all for the sake of committing less terrifying warcrimes.
This is Mortarion's stat line in 40k:
His movement/attacks are based on his wounds remaining.
|Wounds||Move||Attacks||Host of Plagues|
Toxic Presence: Enemy models with 7" must subtract 1 from their Toughness characteristic.
Host of Plagues: Depending on Morty's remaining wounds, roll a die for each enemy unit within 7"; on a success, the unit takes D3 mortal wounds.
So what do we get? With 18 wounds, a 4++ save, and Grandaddy's trademark Disgustingly Resilient rule, he will prove quite hard to bring down, and his survivability can be boosted further with Nurgle's stratagems. He has the best (at the moment) anti-horde weapon in the game, his huge scythe Silence. It can dish out Ax3 (18 base!!!) S:U AP:-2 D1 Plague Weapon attacks per phase of combat (and incidentally, his WT lets him and everyone near him using a Plague Weapon reroll all failed to wound rolls), which will annihilate tarpits like there's no tomorrow. To deal with anything requiring more killing, Silence has a second profile being S:x2 AP:-4 D:1d6 Plague Weapon. His 'command aura' affects every enemy unit standing within 7" of him, giving them -1 toughness and they will receive 1d3 mortal wounds on a roll of 4+ (scaling down as he takes wounds, alas). He still carries his old Lantern pistol that can cause quite a bit of damage to lined units for it hits automatically every unit in a straight line between him and the one he aims for, but only once per shot. He still carries his phosphex bombs that deal 2D6 S5 AP-1 hits (They're not Plague Weapons, though), and he can perform a bunch of weaker attacks on top of his normal ones thanks to his retinue of Nurgling helpers. Cherry on top, he's now a psyker. (Yeah, the very thing he hated back in the days but, hush. No more tears, only Nurgle's happiness now!) He knows 3 powers from the Contagion discipline, he's able to cast two and deny three every turn. All this is in addition to the fact that he is the fastest piece in the army, moving 12" with FLY. And as ultimate finger flip, if he does somehow go down he explodes like a vehicle for a few parting mortal wounds. All in all a really, REALLY strong big daddy.
Unlike Magnus, Mortarion's command aura doesn't boost his sons but weaken his enemies so there's no reason whatsoever to hold him back. Do note however that while he's tanky he's far from invulnerable and always keep in mind that he is a massive fire magnet. Just like in 30k, you'll need supporting units and a plan to get the most of ole Morty. Deathshroud Terminators are a shoe-in for that role, of course, especially if Mortarion buffs them up first.
All of that being said, it should be remembered that Mortarion is much weaker than he would have been in older editions. Apotheosis as a Dæmon Prince gets Toughness +1; a gift consisting in having a larger, monstrous build and supernatural endurance granted Toughness +1; and the Mark of Nurgle granted Toughness +1... in other words, Mortarion could have been Toughness 10, without the possibility to cancel the bonuses through Deny the Witch and assimilated (Collars of Khorne, Null Maidens, Cullexus, Psychic Hoods...), allowing him to shrug even missiles, thunder hammers and las-canon. All of this while attacking at a relatively high initiative (at least 3, and more like 5 or 6), having Feel No Pain 4+++ (5+++ as a Primarch, improved by Nurgle's gifts & mutations) or better and Invulnerable Save 4++ or better... meaning even a charging full squad of Assault Terminators with Chaplain would be in a world of pain. This kind of extremely impressive feats would have explained in full why some Primarchs fell to temptation of Chaos, much like indeed the arrogance and vanity of Lucifer in Theology which caused him to seek perfection in himself while rejecting reliance on what is outside of his own self, an arrogance reflected by an high cost in points causing him to show up with less legionaries and bodyguards than he would have otherwise, and making Kaldor Draigo's feat of defeating him and carving Geronitan's name upon his heart actually really impressive.
With the coming of the New Codex, Mortarion has received a massive update.
His movement/attacks are based on his wounds remaining.
Toxic Presence: This model counts the battle round as being number 4 for the purpose of determining the contagion range of the contagion abilities.
Host of Plagues: Pick A Plague Company warlord trait. Stacks With other Warlord traits this model has, can not take the same trait as another model in this army.
With the new codex Mortarion is one of the toughest, if not the toughest model in the game. He gets an astounding 3 warlord traits (The traits he gets are Arch Contaminator (re-rolls to wound on plague weapons), Revoltingly Resilient (5+ to ignore wounds), and Living Plague (enemy units within 3” can’t be affected by aura abilities from the opposing army), and a Plague Company trait. However he's not just nigh unkillable he is also one of the scariest melee combatants in the game. His scythe Silence went from S:x2 AP:-4 D:1d6 Plague Weapon, to S:x2 AP:-4 D:3+d3 Plague Weapon. Giving his re roll buff to himself he will kill anything. A full squad of terminators, dead, Smashcaptian, obliterated, Guilliman, he kills him in one round of combat. He also can manifest two powers, knows three, and can deny three. He is now the Angel of death he should have been in 8th.
He's now a pretty decent leader choice for buffing your units, but as stated above he is meant to Rip and Tear anything and everything that gets in his way. Throw him all the way up into the front lines of your enemy, watch as their entire force does 3 wounds to him and then charge them and murder everything in sight. You'll end up on top eventually. He's very much so worth the points cost, in fact you can throw him into chaos soup and he'd still be frighteningly good.
Durability test: Mortarion is one of the toughest models in the game, here's just a reference for how tough he is. Assuming that all of these are hitting with a ballistic score of 3+ this is how many shots he can take from each weapon on average. Bolter shots: 729, Heavy Bolter shots: 243, Melta weapons: 58, Lascannons: 43, and 34 Melta shots in Melta range. WARNING do not, DO NOT, send him into the Nightbringer, he will get killed but hopefully you already knew that.
|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