"Man must become stronger, more profound and more evil."
- – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None
"According to the word of God, the meek would someday inherit the earth. Someday. But God never accounted for the mighty."
- – Norman McCay, Kingdom Come
"There is but one good, and that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to him and bad when it turns from him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels. It's not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but out of bad archangels."
- – C.S. Lewis
The Primarchs were the twenty (-one) genetically-engineered sons of The Emperor and the female Perpetual Erda. Using both His and Her DNA in their creation, the Primarchs were designed to be far superior to even
Space Marines the Adeptus Custodes: they were taller, stronger, faster and more intelligent. Artificial Perpetuals, to replace the Perpetuals that left His great plan throughout history. Certainly faster and stronger, but the intelligence they display, especially in the Horus Heresy books, seem to be limited to their own specialities, making them oddly normal in some cases and fatally underdeveloped in other areas. They were also incredibly charismatic and were well suited to their role as the generals and leaders of the Imperium of Man.
Problem was, despite all that they were only human, and ultimately their sibling rivalries (and Chaos corruption, in the case of several of them) boiled over and ultimately developed into the Horus Heresy.
- 1 History
- 2 Primarchs and Legions
- 3 Their Eventual Fates
- 4 Two Missing Primarchs | The Forgotten & The Purged
- 5 The Angel | The Prototype Primarch
- 6 Rules on the Tabletop
- 7 Douchebagginess
- 8 See Also
- 9 Miniatures
- 10 Gallery
The Primarchs began as a continuation of the Emperor’s Thunder Warrior legions and were successors to the Angel. Each of the 20 proto-legions were led by a general analogue called a Primarch. Unlike the later leaders of the Legiones Astartes, the thunder warrior Primarchs were the same as the troops they led and were hand picked by the Emperor for their skill and command ability. The instability (both physical, genetic, and mental) of the thunder warriors led the Emperor to try and find more stable and powerful generals to lead his armies. It can be safely assumed that the original Primarchs were killed in the line of duty or purged before history could record them thoroughly. The only one named thus far was Ushotan of the 4th Legio Cataegis - then known as the Iron Lords. Valdor considered him almost an equal in terms of his martial and command ability but was disturbed by his innate bloodlust and susceptibility to the then nascent effects of Chaos.
The modern Primarchs were created in a secret underground laboratory on what used to be the Himalayas, under the tightest security. All of them were derived from a subset of both the perpetual Erda and the Emperor's DNA that served as a template, which was altered differently for each of the Primarchs; it is also thought that he engineered them spiritually as well using long-forgotten psychic techniques. As the Raven Guard discovered after the Emperor granted them access to the original data from the Primarchs' creation, many of the Primarchs' gene-samples were wildly divergent from the original template- some had long gene sequences deleted, while others had non-human DNA spliced into them for reasons only known to the Emperor. (A particularly intriguing discovery was one sample labeled "Subject VI", which had extensive amounts of canine DNA added to it.)
The Emperor's original plan was to have His superhuman creations mature safely in His lab and guide them from 'birth' toward the role He'd foreseen for them. However, Erda did not want for her sons what the Emperor had planned for them and herself, caused the Scattering. Much to the delight of Chaos and in spite of the safeguards the Emperor had set up, the Ruinous Powers were able to spirit the Primarchs away from the laboratory right before they would emerge from their pods and scatter them across the universe (Conveniently, the canine sample get scattered to a wolf-planet) Just as planned. For whatever reason (though it is likely that he divined the future before the Age of Strife and figured out the Horus Heresy and him ending up on the Golden Throne and creating an eternal stalemate was best outcome, so it might have been Just as Planned on his part), the Emperor did not punish Erda and she was allowed to live out her immortal life in seclusion, in the remnants of Africa. She would always love her sons. Somehow, the Emperor knew his sons were still alive but had no clue to where they could be nor any immediate way to search for them. So he took it in stride, shrugged it off as a minor setback (unknowingly, this would come to bite him back in the ass nastily later on) and went ahead with the second part of his plan: his Space Marine project. Using DNA samples from each Primarch before they were abducted, the Emperor created twenty legions of Space Marines, in what would later be called the First Founding. They would form the core of the armies He needed to conquer the galaxy, and the absence of the Primarchs leading those would only serve as a motivation for the warriors to search for them.
One consequence of the abduction, however was that each of the young Primarchs were forced to adapt to the lifestyle on their new homeworld, something which would influence and mold them throughout their lives. The Primarchs rapidly grew to adulthood and quickly rose to power, often becoming the leaders of their world. As the Emperor crusaded to unify the galaxy he would occasionally stumble upon another long-lost son. When this happened, the Emperor would hold a celebration in honor of this discovery, give the Primarch their Legion to command, then tell them to fuck off and start conquering worlds while he fapped to his favoured offspring. The Emperor was a dick like that. (Or rather, he never saw the Primarchs as 'sons', just as carefully crafted tools to enforce his will and vision so he in essence made them get at it on the double to catch up with His schedule. Which is actually even more Dickish.)
The first Primarch the Emperor discovered was Horus, who would become the Emperor's favoured son. The majority of Primarchs somehow recognized the Emperor on sight, immediately pledging their allegiance to their father. A few (such as Leman Russ and Vulkan) only swore allegiance after being bested in a contest. The only exception is Angron, who outright refused to follow the Emperor as he preferred to die in battle along with his rebels brothers and sisters in their fight against the oppressive Not-Romans. The Emperor simply shrugged and abducted his son, leaving Angron's followers to get slaughtered. Angron never really got over that dick move.
Primarch discovery order:
- 2.Leman Russ
- 3.DELETED FROM IMPERIAL RECORDS, DAMNATIO MEMORIAE IN PERPETUAM
- 4.Ferrus Manus
- 7.Rogal Dorn
- 8.Roboute Guilliman
- 9.Magnus the Red
- 11.Lion El'Jonson
- 15.Jaghatai Khan
- 16.Konrad Curze
- 18.DELETED FROM IMPERIAL RECORDS, DAMNATIO MEMORIAE IN PERPETUAM
- 20.Alpharius Omegon
At the end of the period known as the Great Crusade, Horus, who had recently been promoted to the title of Warmaster, fell to Chaos and rebelled. It didn't take long for eight other of his fellow Primarchs to join his side against the Emperor, resulting in a full-scale civil war known as the Horus Heresy. Funnily enough, most of the Primarchs who sided with Horus were those who felt that the Emperor had taken a giant, steaming dump on them. So while the Emperor is the greatest tactician, biologist, warlord, and leader in the history of mankind, he's worse than a crack-addled transient junkie as a father.
As mentioned above, the Emperor's attitude toward his Primarchs was also heavily divergent to that of the greater Imperium. Whilst he indulged them in the idea that they were his "sons", privately, he didn't view the Primarchs as his literal children, analogising himself as Gepetto to 20 (21) different Pinocchio's. The Emperor even referred to Angron as "The Twelfth" rather than refer to him by name. Although this seems like typical Emperor douchebaggery, he may have behaved in this way because the Primarchs themselves prompted that dynamic, and it was easier to just go along with it. Leman Russ once boasted to Constantin Valdor that the Custodians would never understand the Emperor like the Primarchs could because they weren't "family", even calling the Custodians the "instruments" to be tossed aside when He cared to; Valdor's response was "there are so many errors there, I do not even know where to start".
Malcador also claimed that the Primarchs were but a means to an end; designed to be "conqueror's tools and nothing more", built to dominate and compete with each other, eventually intended to challenge each other and eventually confront the Emperor himself, he further claimed that the Primarchs had no free will and that a civil war like the Horus Heresy had always been part of the Emperor's design, although he later admits that he had to lie to spare his servant sorrow on her deathbed, so it is probable that the Primarchs were simply beyond expected control (the lie that Malc was referring to likely related to him assuring her that when she died the Emperor would protect her soul, essentially perpetuating the idea that the Emperor was a "god", than claiming that the Emperor had promised him that this wouldn't happen). In a separate instance: Valdor claimed "we turned on one another, driven by pride and human resentment" which assumes some measure of responsibility for the Heresy rather than completely blaming the Primarchs, and after that point he wasn't prepared to challenge Rogal Dorn over decisions regarding the fate of the Custodes, even though he believes he had the capacity to challenge Dorn on the matter, calling the Primarchs "creatures of power, built to dominate"; all hinting that while they may have had an original function, they probably turned out quite differently from expected and the final result might not necessarily have been them turning on each other and fucking up the human webway. Although Valdor did once angrily claim that the entire debacle could have been avoided if the Custodians had just intervened at the Primarch's births.
Despite all this, the Emperor still refers to the Primarchs as his "sons" in private revelations with Malcador, though in the same instance while playing out the strategy of the Horus Heresy using their destinies he is absolutely aware that in order to win the game against Chaos they need to be played against each other: sacrificed or manipulated in order to get the best possible outcome. Malcador does point out that there are different ways to play the game and realizes that destinies can unfold in different ways and that the Emperor is forced to make certain decisions in order to avoid losing outright, so the battle unfolds the same way no matter what strategies are used. Only the final outcome was kept from Malcador until it became clear that the only way to win was for his piece ("the Fool") to switch places with the Emperor in the final move, quite possibly at an absolute cost to his immortal soul and leave the "Uncrowned King" piece to play "Salvation". So seems that the Emperor manipulated everybody, but only did so to achieve the best outcome for humanity based on the plays available to him. Of course, whether or not this was as the Emperor planned, or just him being forced into these decisions by the more subtle actions of Chaos taken while he was busy attempting to stop the Ork doom counter of becoming too powerful and rebuilding to Krork without a sufficiently militarized galactic superpower to hold them in check for eternity, is up for debate.
Primarchs and Legions
|Legion Number||Name||Homeworld||Name of the Legion||Allegiance||Description/Current Status||30k/40k|
|I||Lion El'Jonson||Caliban||Dark Angels||ULTRA LOYAL, maybe even more than Rogal Dorn.||
|VI||Leman Russ||Fenris||Space Wolves||Loyal||
|VII||Rogal Dorn||Inwit||Imperial Fists||MEGA DUPER Loyal||
|VIII||Konrad Curze||Nostramo||Night Lords||Traitor||
|X||Ferrus Manus||Medusa||Iron Hands||Extremely Loyal||
|XIII||Roboute Guilliman||Macragge||Ultramarines||Loyal, barring that one episode he doesn't like to talk about||
|XV||Magnus the Red||Prospero||Thousand Sons||Traitor, though he never planned this||
|XVI||Horus Lupercal||Cthonia||Luna Wolves/ Sons of Horus/ Black Legion||DOUBLE TRAITOR link dead :(||
|XVII||Lorgar Aurelian||Colchis||Word Bearers||Traitor Prime||
|XIX||Corvus Corax||Deliverance||Raven Guard||Loyal||
|XX||Alpharius Omegon||They're not telling||Alpha Legion||Alpharius: sort-of loyal. Omegon: even Tzeentch can't keep track.||
Their Eventual Fates
- General downside to those who became Daemon Princes is that the further they go from the Eye of Terror, the more their power wanes. Also most of them spend most of their time in the Great Game (eternal war in the Warp), growing increasingly distant from the real world affairs.
- Horus was killed by the Emperor during the Siege of Terra, who utterly destroyed his soul. His legion enshrined his corpse until the Emperor's Children stole it. Fabius Bile managed to successfully clone him, but Abaddon killed the clone to cement his position as his successor as Warmaster of Chaos. While "Horus" is supposedly very dead, which was his fault for being a fuckwit, shards of his soul which were broken off in the Warp remain. Including one in the realm of Khorne...
- Angron is a Daemon Prince of Khorne. Still gets shit done, but did get his arse handed to him by the Grey Knights on Armageddon.
- Mortarion is a fucktwit who rarely does anything of interest (still sulking over his eternal existence as the thing he hates the most), but is a Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Apparently now holds the largest domain in the Eye of Terror, rather than just one planet he had in the old fluff. Got some open heart surgery, courtesy of Draigo/Ward. Created zombie plague from one of the artifacts Abbaddon used in his XII crusade. He invaded Ultramar after hearing news that Guilliman's finally awake, though he ultimately had to go back to the Scourge Stars due to his poor fortunes in the war as well as being summoned back by his patron God.
- Fulgrim's soul was trapped in a painting while his body was possessed by a daemon for a brief time before swapping places with the daemon and taking its powers (or so he claims). The first Primarch to become a Daemon Prince, although he aimed at achieving (demi)godhood instead (by sacrificing Perturabo). Abandoned what remained of his legion to rule his pleasure daemon world, and didn't tell them how to get there (yet Abaddon somehow manages to contact him anyways).
- Lorgar is a lazy fucknut who does nothing since they fled to the Eye of Terror, and handed the rule over his legion to the council of Dark Apostles, but still a Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided. Taught Abaddon how to summon daemons. Lost a duel with a powered-up Corax during sometime after the Heresy.
- Magnus the Red got broken into several pieces during his fight with Leman Russ, with several of them actually believing they were the real Magnus and going their own way. Some pieces were eventually put back together to form "the Crimson King", the Daemon Primarch form of Magnus who joined Horus in his rebellion. This sometimes also gets shit done, leading armies to the Space Wolves' planet and screwing with the Imperium, keeping his big red trollface on all the time until he gets his ass tossed back into the Warp. Other fragments seem to be floating around throughout history, appearing to have their own agenda, pretending to be daemons or helping the Imperium from time to time. By the time of the Gathering Storm and the 42nd Millennium the disparate fragments have mostly recombined to the Crimson King (leaving out a few key elements, namely the ones who embodied his best qualities; for example, the part of Magnus that embodied his love for his Legion chose to fade into nonexistence instead of being reabsorbed into the Crimson King) making him as whole as he can be.
- Perturabo becomes irrelevant after he goes on to drop largely out of post-Heresy fluff, but is still a Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided. Rules the most stable planet in the Eye of Terror, where he does nothing but watching his sons sieging each other. Helps Failbaddon in a couple of Black Crusades by giving him some Daemon Engines. It doesn't really help, but it's more than Lorgar's done for Chaos Undivided. He is also leading his Legion after the 13th Black Crusade in their new offensive against the Imperium.
- Konrad Curze allowed a Callidus assassin to infiltrate his lair and kill him, either because he himself became the thing he hated the most, or to justify to himself that every atrocity he has done in the name of justice was a necessary act. Except...there was that crown he always wore, the one with a stone in it that looked oddly similar to a soulstone...
- The Alpha Legion's story is a bit complex:
- Alpharius was slain by Rogal Dorn in combat during the Battle of Pluto. He is very much dead as he did not bargain with the Dark Gods and had his head split open by a fellow Primarch's chainsword. Conspiracy theorists will speculate that it wasn't really Alpharius, though the death is strongly corroborated by Omegon's response. So unless Alpharius used a body double to trick Rogal Dorn AND his own twin into thinking he was dead and allowed Omegon to take his place and identity permanently; there isn't any hard evidence to suggest that the dead "Alpharius" was anything other than the actual Primarch, but knowing the Alpha Legion that doesn't mean too much without definitive proof.
- Omegon reluctantly took Alpharius' identity after he sensed he was dead, and his legion a bee-line for Ultramar after the Horus Heresy, where he met his end after dueling Big Bobby G. However, because the rest of the Alpha Legionaries did not break even after the death of their primarch (in fact they managed to beat the Ultramarines in the conflict altogether); nobody could truly confirm if they did indeed kill the real deal, or if it was a body double.
- While it's been established that a decent amount of Alpha Legionnaires were surgically altered to resemble their Primarch and even believe they were Primarchs themselves; that and the figurehead role of "Alpharius" has been largely interchangable between both the twins and their sons, which makes sense for a legion whose MO is flexible leadership. While we can be reasonably certain that at least one of the twins is dead, whatever "Omegon-Alpharius" or at least whichever person who thinks he's Alpharius have been up to following the Heresy is a matter of fierce debate and speculation.
- One warband of the Alpha Legion believes that Omegon is still alive in the 42nd millennium and somehow certain elements of the Necron knows where he is. And there is that one big guy in scaled armor trapped in Trayzn's toybox...
- It is believed by Mortarion that they are now returning to realspace.
- Ferrus Manus was killed by Fulgrim during the Drop Site Massacre. His body was not recovered, so some Iron Hands think he might still be alive, and for a time it seemed like he did survive. However, Vulkan later exposed the "Ferrus Manus" leading the remaining Iron Hands as a marionette-like machine with one of the Primarch's hands attached to it, destroying the fake soon afterwards. The fact that Ferrus was decapitated by Fulgrim after being defeated and had his head delivered to Horus makes this claim fairly dubious. Just don't say that to the Iron Hands, though. Unless you want free open-heart surgery from a ceramite and steel power fist. Fulgrim did try to clone him (several times) in the hope one of them would join the traitors, but every clone so far has refused and been subsequently killed by him. An apparition of an iron handed giant - the 10th son - was seen leading the charge in an army of human souls against an army of daemons when the Emperor entered the Webway).
- Sanguinius was killed by Horus. His body was recovered, and he's the only Primarch who doesn't have any legends about returning, though there are some theories on the identity of the Sanguinor which were later proven
incorrecthalf correct (he is able to manifest Sanguinius to Dante during the events of the Dark Imperium). Sanguinius foresaw his death and accepted it as a necessary sacrifice for the future of the Imperium, in no small part because his visions also warned him that he would only survive the Horus Heresy by becoming corrupted himself. The trauma of his death by the Talon of Horus left a psychic manifestation of him still on the Vengeful Spirit. As of late it turns out his soul has been wandering the warp ever since, only deciding to make himself known to revive Commander Dante when he ended up as Swarmlord-shishkabob after stomping that bug.
- Lion El'Jonson returned to Caliban only to discover
that his friend Luther had stabbed him in the back.THAT LUTHER HAD A PLANET-WIDE PARTY AND EVENTUALLY PASSED OUT INTO A COMA AFTER DRINKING 200 TANKARDS OF SPACE WOLF-GRADE ALCOHOL. He sleeps deep within the Rock, originally on life support and now fully-healed (but none of the Dark Angels seem to know this). Perhaps this is a sign of a coming advancement of the storyline, DUN DUN DUN!
- Jaghatai Khan disappeared into the Webway after chasing a group of Dark Eldar. The White Scars think he will return someday, and when you consider the fact that time is just as weird there as it is in the rest of the Warp, there is a small possibility he's still around.
- Leman Russ disappeared into the Eye of Terror but promised the Space Wolves that he would return for the Final Battle. Magnus appears to know where he is now, but he sure as hell isn't telling the Space Wolves. Reports during the Thirteenth Black Crusade claim that a figure matching Russ's description was seen leading the 13th Great Company have surfaced, but were never verified. Numerous crusades by the Space Wolves to find Russ have resulted in failure, although they did find
his armor in a shrine of Khorne in the Eyean armor believed to be his in the Temple of Horus on Rudra - so either he succumbed to Chaos, was killed by a Khorne champion, devolved into wulfen, or is currently pillaging The Warp as a muscle-bound, half-naked barbarian hero.
- Rogal Dorn disappeared during a Black Crusade in a desperate ship boarding action. Only his severed hand was recovered and its skeleton enshrined. Debate rages about whether the Zerg rush of World Eaters killed him, or whether he's still out there, murdering his way through traitors with an Astartes-pattern shotgun and a chainsword grafted where his hand used to be. Original 40K novels stated his entire skeleton was on display on Terra, but it's been retconned to only his hands. Still, a Primarch without a skeleton would be bad-ass, if not a little amusing.
- Roboute Guilliman was formerly preserved in a stasis field, seconds from death after he was poisoned by Fulgrim. Fast-forward a few thousand years and some Eldar flubdubbery, however, and Big Bobby G is back in action, and he's mad at the current state of the Imperium. After a private meeting with the Emperor, he assumed direct command of the Imperium itself as Lord Commander of the Imperium. When he isn't curb-stomping traitors to death or otherwise trying to keep the Imperium afloat, Guilliman is busy re-vamping the Imperium with numerous reforms in an attempt to realize his father's dream for humanity. Needless to say; a lot of people are unhappy about this, but they can't exactly tell off one of the Emperor's actual sons and expect not to be on the business end of a Custodes guardian spear. He's also taken the time to rewrite the Codex Astartes as well.
- Vulkan got the shit kicked out of him during the Drop Site Massacre, whereupon his fluff gets a bit hazy:
- The old Codex: Space Marines states that his body was never found, only a book containing only the names of nine powerful relics and a bunch of annoying riddles as to where they might be found, penned by Vulkan himself. In the 41st millennium, the Salamanders believe that he is still alive and that collecting the nine relics - they've found five so far - will reveal his location.
- In the Black Library novels, starting with Vulkan Lives the big V had to be dragged into a Thunderhawk in bloody tatters. Kurze captured him and tortured him to death... repeatedly; as a Perpetual, Vulkan would not stay dead. After an indeterminate amount of time and deaths, Vulkan managed to escape by teleporting himself into orbit around Macragge and reentering its atmosphere. When he recovered and learned that Kurze was planetside, he flipped out and went after him. A well-meaning Perpetual stabbed him with a fulgurite (a spearhead-shaped piece of stone that contains a bit of the Emperor's power), hoping to either cure his madness or kill him for good. Now apparently dead, Vulkan was put in a stasis capsule inscribed with the words "Unbound Flame," with an honor guard of Salamanders until his remains could be returned to Nocturne. As of the end of Deathfire, he somehow managed to return to life again, although there's no indication as to whether or not he's still a Perpetual. As of the War of the Beast, he's still alive in M.32, after the wounding of Guilliman. He's apparently been wandering the Imperium for a millennium fulfilling his own oaths, but returns to Terra to take command and reclaim Ullanor from the united Ork race. Even with one of the greatest forces assembled since the Horus Heresy, with the remnants of the VII Legion Chapters, the fight devolved to Vulkan facing off with The Beast one-on-one, and sacrificing himself in The Beasts temple-gargant's core detonating it with both himself and The Beast inside it. Whether both of them died is highly unlikely. He hints that Dorn is also alive, meaning he is either privy to some secret information, doesn't know of his brother's death, or is going insane.
- The 8th Edition Codex reconcile these stories somewhat, by claiming that sources within the Salamanders themselves believe Vulkan led them for three millennia (which accounts for his appearance during the War of the Beast), sometimes falling in battle but apparently always returning (also accounting for his perpetual status). He eventually disappeared on some final undocumented mission, not without leaving his Tome of Fire and bequeathing his personal artefacts to the chapter but not actually saying where they were, giving rise to the legend that if they are all found he will then return.
- Corvus Corax disappeared into the Eye of Terror as an atonement for putting down the mutant hordes he created in trying to create Space Marines out of desperation. Quoth the Raven: "Nevermore." Beyond the Imperium's eyes, his wraith-slip powers began to mutate and he became a shadowy shapeshifter hellbent on killing all his traitor brothers. Corax was last seen beating Lorgar's ass so hard that the useless fuckwit had to run with his tail between his legs. Yeah, he beat a Daemon Primarch (who had Chaos Marine and likely daemon backup) into up and running, while Corax himself was on his own. Basically the battle between Guilliman and Magnus on Luna, in reverse. Eat it, Papa Smurf.
Two Missing Primarchs | The Forgotten & The Purged
Who are the two missing Primarchs, you ask? Sigmar Heldenhammer and Archaon (depending on how WHFB fits in with 40K, if it does). Or maybe (per /tg/ canon) Rachnus Rageous and Tialoc Ekans. Samus and Guts are also contenders, and many Bolter and Chainsword regulars consider Icarion and his Lightning Bearers to be their headcanon II Legion.
The Legions in question are the Legio II (Second Legion) and the Legio XI (Eleventh Legion).
What, you wanted a serious answer?
Okay, fine. Nobody really knows. It is very intentional that no lore exists about these two legions, making them completely unknown. References to their existence are common in canon, but no details are ever explicitly mentioned. This is a feature of the lore, an intentionally kept mystery. What has been established is that they got killed for some reason and the existence of their Legions was wiped from record by the Emperor. Malcador the Sigillite claims that the Primarchs had been manipulated from the start, and were to be maneuvered into their proper roles prior to the Horus Heresy and those which would not be manipulated would be removed. Although Malcador's own testimony is tainted by the fact that he later admits he had to lie, though many of his statements do mirror what we have seen from the Emperor's own statements.
Games Workshop have mentioned Primarchs besides the eighteen above on other occasions, but they backtracked since. Back in the first edition of Warhammer 40,000, all twenty First Founding Chapters were known, as were their Primarchs (though, at the time, the Primarch was just the first Chapter Master). Of these, the Valedictors and Rainbow Warriors were declared in a later White Dwarf to have been founded after the Second Founding.
Later, in the short story Hell in a Bottle from the novel Into the Maelstrom, a chapter known as the Iron Hearts get fucked over by a Chaos Lord. The short story also mentions that the Chapter has a Primarch known as Rubinek. Of course, this was just a huge cock-up on the author's part, who himself admitted that he meant Chapter Master.
The [REDACTED] Event
- The First Heretic shows that by the Razing of Monarchia (43 years before the Isstvan V Drop Site Massacre of 006.M31), the II and XI Legions had already been stricken from the records. It also states that the remaining Primarchs had to swear an oath never to speak of their missing brothers and that the missing Primarchs' corresponding legions were personally purged by the Emperor, so it had to have been something extraordinarily bad. However, Lorgar still remembers something about them, saying "I still remember how they-", before Magnus cut him off. Lastly, it is revealed that the Emperor had considered purging Lorgar and the Word Bearers (making them the third legion to be purged) for starting a religion around him, but Russ had talked him out of it. #BlameLemanRuss
- In The Lightning Tower Rogal Dorn says that the lost Primarchs' disappearances were "separate tragedies", so it seems like they disappeared in two different incidents.
- In Descent of Angels, which takes place as of the time Lion El'Jonson had been rediscoverd, Chief Librarian Israfael tells the then initiate, Zahariel El'Zurias, that the Lion has 19 brothers; indicating that as of that time they had not committed whatever atrocity lead to their demise.
- In Dark Imperium, Roboute Guilliman declares "I was one of twenty. Two failed. Half the rest turned on my Father." This suggests that the downfall of the two lost primarchs was not a result of them betraying the Emperor. Instead their demise was a result of them "failing" their purpose as primarchs and being terminated as a result. Interestingly this line also seems to imply that it is no longer forbidden to speak of the two missing primarchs in the 42nd milenium, as Guilliman casually references them to make a point about primarchs being fallible.
- The Chamber at the End of Memory has Rogal Dorn note that he was one of the few Primarchs who ever met with the II and XI Primarchs. It also reveals that not only was the entire Imperium forbidden to speak of the missing Primarchs' existence, but every non-Primarch save for Malcador who had ever interacted with them was mind-wiped so they would remember nothing about them - including their own gene-sons, presumably other than the fact that they were purged from all record and be left unable to speak even about that. Even the other Primarchs had their memories altered so they couldn't recall much more about their lost brothers beyond the fact that they existed - Dorn is dumbstruck by this discovery, and even more so when Malcador tells him that it was his own idea (and Roboute Guilliman's) to have his fellow Primarchs' memories altered. Malcador also states that whatever it was that the II and XI Primarchs did, it was against the very ideals of the Great Crusade and would have ruined everything the the Great Crusade had accomplished to that point. Their old living quarters in the Imperial Palace are protected by extremely powerful psychic wards, and when Malcador briefly restores Rogal Dorn's memories of them he realizes the hateful truth. That the entire Horus Heresy up to the Siege of Terra was not so awful or threatening to the Imperium as what had happened to the Missing Primarchs; in fact, if they were still alive, the Imperium would have long since fallen.
- Deliverance Lost suggests that whatever happened to the missing Primarchs occurred sometime before the Emperor found Corvus Corax, as Corax asked the Emperor why there were only sixteen other Primarchs waiting for him if he was the nineteenth (it's unsure whether this was referring to him being the Primarch of the nineteenth Legion, or him being the nineteenth found); the Emperor avoided the question, claiming that "it would be a discussion for another day". This is no longer the case, somehow, as he is now the third-to-last primarch found, right before the second missing primarch.
- In Prospero Burns, Leman Russ mentions that the Space Wolves had fought other Space Marines before the attack on Prospero, which may have something to do with the purge. A senior Space Wolf describes Russ' "wyrd" as being "the Emperor's executioner". Several books since have backed this up, though ADB denies this.
- In Scars there's a reference to rumours and "whispers of past atrocities" that only a Primarch could kill another Primarch. Russ also turns up and talks a bit about fighting Magnus, and the resulting "shame". So if he's responsible for offing one or two of his brothers, they must've done something pretty fucking heinous.
- In The Dark King, when asked if he will report the Night Lords for censure, Dorn remarks that he feared to add another empty statue to the Emperor's palace, implying that the missing legions were exterminated for committing severe atrocities.
- In The Last Council Malcador states that one of the missing Primarchs was fallen and disgraced. Alpharius mentions that one of the primarchs had died. While the lost Primarchs and their Legions were wiped before he was rediscovered, its Alpharius....you can't keep info like that from him.
Name of one of the missing Primarchs
- In The Last Council, Horus (who had been outraged by the erasure of his brothers from Imperial records) struggles to mutter the name of one of the lost Primarchs while Malcador is using his psyker powers to seize his nerves so as to prevent him from saying it. Horus managed to say"M-Mal...al..." (Malal), which pissed Malcador off to the point that it required Alpharius and the Khan to convince Malcador not to kill him outright. Some have claimed that Horus was begging Malcador to stop by saying Malcador's name. However, this makes no sense when in context of the story as Horus was still resisting Malcador's control, and saying the name "Malal" made Malcador remember something that stirred up a spiteful hate (Malice's primary emotional aspect). Given that Malice's sacred Number is 11, and the Roman numeral for "2" can be seen as two "1's," there may be some circumstantial connection to the Anti-Chaos God. Additionally, given how 11 was claimed to be "innocent and pure" in The First Heretic, it implies he could have been untouched by the warp, despite being contained within it. It is therefore, not outside of the question he might be a psychic blank, which are traditionally associated with Malice as the God who wishes to destroy chaos and disrupt the plans of the Gods. Food for thought to further potential connections, though nothing concrete. Others contend that Horus was trying to say "Har har harder...."
- The 2nd Primarch was the third primarch rediscovered. After Leman Russ, but before Ferrus Manus.
- Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix mentions that the 2nd Legion's "normally contemplative", "quiet" and "humorless" Primarch had accused Fulgrim of arrogance for boasting he would bring a world under compliance with only eight total Astartes (& that Fulgrim considered the remark high hypocrisy, even bringing to mind the old adage of pots and kettles), which means that at least one missing Primarch was found early enough to have some kind of interaction with his brothers and make a contribution to the Great Crusade (being 3rd in line after Horus and Russ, actually).
- In Fabius Bile: Clonelord, Flavius Alkenex mentions that Fulgrim once described one of the two (likely the 2nd since the 11th was almost last to be recovered) having made a pilgrimage to the Attila System of Ultima Segmentum to make an archaeological expedition inside the Ymga Monolith for unknown reasons during the earliest days of the Great Crusade.
- The 11th Primarch was nineteenth primarch rediscovered. After Corax, but before Alpharius Omegon.
- In The First Heretic, when Argel Tal and the other Word Bearers are in the Emperor's gene-labs, they find the 11th's gestation pod. It is mentioned that the 11th was still "innocent and pure" prior to the Primarchs being scattered.
The Lost Legions
- The Regimental Standard article Field Dressing a Lasgun Wound makes reference to the II and XI legions taking part in the Rangdan Xenocides, but cuts off before their names are given (though given the amount of whitespace between the word "the" and the end of the page, this would suggest at least one of them had a particularly long word in their name). Given it references the rank of "Warmaster", it means this was during the tail end of the war.
- The First Heretic specifies that the missing Legions were purged at least 43 years before the Drop Site Massacre, so we can conclude that neither one took part in the Horus Heresy. At the same time, members of the Word Bearers Seventh Company travelling through time with Ingethel the Ascended reveal rumors that the surviving members of the lost Legions were folded into the Ultramarines (their Chaplain thinks the rumor is a load of grox-shit, but their Captain does note that the Ultramarines are on record as receiving an increase in troops however it should be noted that Ingethel is a Daemon Princess and could easily have been bullshitting herself).
- In The Chamber at the End of Memory, Malcador stated that when both the Primarchs were purged, it left their legions leaderless. Indicating that the the II and XI legions were around when both Primarchs did the thing. And that Dorn and Guilliman had spoken up to convince him that just purging the two lost legions completely would be a waste of good soldiers. Instead, Dorn and Guilliman created the plan to wipe the Legions' memories and integrate them into their own legions, possibly confirming the fanon explanation of the Rainbow Warriors and Valedictors existence.
- In Fear To Tread, Sanguinius admits to Horus that he had not told the Emperor about the Red Thirst because he feared that the Emperor would purge the Blood Angels in the same way as the missing Legions, indicating that some form of gene-seed flaw caused at least one of the Legions to be purged.
- Visions of Heresy - Book One has a pictographic list of all the original legions. Interestingly, the II Legion pict-capture is labeled "-ERROR #CDIV- file not found", while the XI Legion pict-capture is labeled "-CENSORED- by Imperial decree". This seems to indicate that the XI Legion was merely censored, while the records of the II Legion were wiped entirely.
- 792.M30, the Primarchs were created . The 11th is still "innocent and pure". The Primarchs are scattered.
- 798.M30, The Great Crusade began.
- The 2nd Primarch is found and reunited. He is the 3rd Primarch found, after Horus and Russ.
- Sometime during the early years of the Great Crusade, the 2nd Primarch leads and expedition to the Ymga Monolith in the Attila System of the Ultima Segmentum.
- After the discovery of Guilliman, the (then) 8 found Primarchs all met up. The 2nd accused Fulgrim of hubris. Fulgrim feels the 2nd was guilty of the same and called him out on hypocrisy.
- Magnus is found and all (then) 9 found Primarchs meet up.
- Around the time Lion El Johnson (11th to be found) was discovered, the the two lost Primarchs had not yet done whatever made them get un-personed.
- Between the 890s.M30 - 930s.M30, both the 2nd and 11th Legions were deployed along with the Solar Auxillia to the Rangdan Xenocides. This is the last recorded action of either Legion. Something happened to them during this war. An Alpharius (who may or may not be THE Alpharius) met Lion and offered to manage the mess here in his stead. Clearly any non-Primarch person can just march in to meet Lion and ask to take away his job!
- approx. 898.M30 Corax, the 18th Primarch discovered, is found "around a century" after the start of the Great Crusade.
- Between 898.M30 - 963.M30, the 11th Primarch is discovered. At some point he is reunited with his legion.
- The information of the lost Primarchs and their Legions is wiped, leaving Alpharius as the only non-lost Primarch to not see all others at least once (if the Rangda's Alpharius is someone else entirely) .
- 981.M30 Alpharius Omegon is discovered and (or at least) given leadership of the XX Legion (the at least is because Horus found him/them first and took a while to tell others this).
- Between 981.M30 - 000.M31 Horus confronts Malcador about the destruction of the lost Primarch's statutes in the Reliquary. Says that one of them is "Malal" or was trying to beg Malcador from force choking him.
- 000.M31, Magnus mentions its the first time since [REDACTED] 9 Primarchs have met up in one place. Its likely that Magnus wanted to say something like "Since the 2nd was with us.".
Lion El'Jonson wouldn't lead the fight against the Rangdan xenos until 890s.M30, and not until the 6th year of his involvement did the title of "Warmaster" get thrown around. Adding this to the document in "Field Dressing a Lasgun Wound", means that the 11th Legion's participation in the Rangdan Xenocides didn't happen until at least 8 years after Lion El'Jonson took the helm. The Xenocide would end by 930s.M30, meaning the 11th only participated in the war for a possible 32 to 42 years. The Horus Heresy didn't begin until 005.M31, and the 2nd and 11th had been expunged and condemned 43 years before the Dropsite Massacre which occurred at 006.M31, disproving the dates 965.M30 & 969.M30 as being the period where they were exterminated by the Space Wolves. By the time the Rangdan Xenocides ended, there would have been a possible 23 to 33 year gap between 930s.M30, the end of the Xenocides, and 963.M30 for them to have committed whatever atrocity called for damnatio memoriae, assuming it didn't occur during the Xenocides.
Considering that the 2nd was around for at least a century with no issues before the 11th showed up and they both got expunged three decades after the end of the Rangdan Xenocide, it's a strong possibility that the 11th was the ring leader of the two & dragged the 2nd Primarch down with him.
Out of universe, Rick Priestley admitted that the unknown legions were supposed to be a reference to the three Roman legions wiped out in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, whose numbers were never reused after they were slain to a man by Germanic barbarians. The intention was to let fans design their own Legions to fill in the gaps for themselves, though the implications that this would have on the setting clearly weren't thought through. Nowadays, it doesn't even really let people do much with homebrew fluff since the setting has developed in such a way that it's almost impossible for someone to connect a homebrew chapter to the missing primarchs without getting laughed out of their Local Game Store. If you play in the privacy of your own home, however, there's nothing stopping you and your friends from nailing it down and having your Self-Insert Primarchs show up and give the Imperium a Noblebright/even GRIMDARKER (Delete as appropriate) kick in the ass.
It seems likely, given the frequent references to betrayal relating to these two Primarchs, that the Lost Primarchs did something rebellion-related or perhaps tried to carve out their own empires. Perhaps they realized that there could be peaceful coexistance with the Xenos (as was the case of the Interex), and ended up thinking the Imperium was Evil. Either way, they did something massively damaging (or nearly pulled something off) that would have crippled the Imperium for its myriad enemies to finish off. A possible hint at the cause of their descent is mentioned in Extermination in the section regarding the Alpha Legion of all groups. Three incidents, all [REDACTED] in name, tell us that one Legion had a problematic source for its recruitment. Specifically, a potentially tainted source. Although not said in sequential order, one Legion was deemed to have failed the qualification to be a Legion since it did not have enough marines to be combat effective. Lastly, a place "Labryk Polaris" and another redacted incident point at attempts to replicate or even supersede the Emperor's gene-craft. Combining all of these cases, its is clear that one Legion had severe issues with its gene seed and its primary recruitment world. This lead to that Legion failing the basic test that all Legions go through. From there, the Primarch in question must have done a few experiments in how to create more marines. Whatever was made, if anything was made, the Emperor clearly did not like it.
The one concert name we have regarding the two legions is "Malal" (or, Horus couldn't get the full name out while being force choked? (or was trying to say "MAL-cador" while being strangled by said psyker, but that's not as fun)) which brings to mind a host of warhammer related meanings, the important one being 'a rogue Chaos God who wants to destroy the Four Malal', made even more likely by the fact that Malal's holy number happens to be 11 so it's
likely totally the 11th Primarch. Worshiping chaos itself would be perhaps the biggest no-no one could do as far as the Emperor was concerned and the unpersoning the legions got is not unprecedented when it comes how the Imperium (at least in the 41st) deals with chaos, namely burying the information that it even exists so deeply that nobody it can find it. So it's possible another explanation is similar to what happened during the First War of Armageddon were all participating guardsmen and civilians were to be 'liquidated' almost literally, and the wolves mind wiped, only the Emperor went one step further and just erased both legions, even if only one fell to chaos. But again 'Malal' again, is the chaos god who fights other chaos gods, so it may not have been that clear cut.
It should further be noted that, in the 42nd Millenium, when asked why there were 11 symbolic chairs rather than 9 for the Primarchs, Guilliman replies something along the lines of "Of the 20, two failed and half the rest turned on my father.", explicitly distinguishing this "failure" from heresy/treason and keeps ceremonial seat for them out of honor. Come to think of it, of the 20 Primarch plints on Terra, 9 were destroyed but 2 were covered up. So it might be that they weren't traitors, but went TOO FAR.
Where Are The Lost Legions Now?
With the confirmation that the survivors of the II and XI legions were mind-wiped and assimilated into the Imperial Fists and Ultramarines in The Chamber at the End of Memory, it raises the question of where, if anywhere, the descendants of the two legions are now. Given that the Ultramarines are the progenitors of the majority of Space Marine chapters in the galaxy, that leaves a lot of options. Even having the founder of the chapter appear in the Horus Heresy series is no guarantee that the chapter isn't descended from one of the lost legions, since the members of the chapter wouldn’t even know themselves. By the end of the Horus Heresy the only person who knew which marines were and weren't descended from the Lost Legions is Rogal Dorn, and it looks like he took the secret to...wherever he went.
The obvious place to start looking for successor chapters of the lost legions is any chapter that seems to deviate a bit too far from the behavior of their supposed primarch and First Founding chapter. The Mortifactors and Doom Eagles are two such candidates, given that they don’t behave anything like Roboute Guilliman and the Ultramarines. Especially given that the II Primarch was described by Fulgrim as “normally contemplative”, “quiet”, and “humorless”. It would also explain why the Soul Drinkers believed themselves to be descendants of the Imperial Fists despite later being shown to not have Dorn’s geneseed, despite having a weapon gene-coded to the Soul Drinkers. The fact that the Soul Drinkers rejected the authority of the High Lords of Terra and fought for the common good of humanity rather than the Imperium itself also fits well with fan theories of one of the lost primarchs being a humanitarian who either believed coexistence with xenos was possible or rejected the Imperium for being just another tyrannical regime.
Then, of course, there is the elephant in the room, the red-headed stepchild of the Imperial Fists, Sigismund and the Black Templars. The Black Templars are about as un-Imperial Fist-like as it is possible to be, Imperial Fists being siege specialists who tend towards stoicism and prefer to dig in and defend until the last man, whereas the Black Templars are hyper-aggressive, always crusading, rarely if ever man any fortifications (they don't even have a homeworld, just maintaining a chapter keep on every world they liberate), and are known for their hatred of psykers and extreme piousness, something that is not really seen in the other Imperial Fist descendants. Though Dorn has been shown to have quite the well of rage himself. And, of course, they do not have "fist" in their name. A lot of attention is paid on Sigismund obsessive desire for Dorn's paternal favor, and there is a brief moment of attention paid to the fact that Sigismund offered to personally tear down the statues of the II and XI primarchs on Terra, sayng they are traitors and did not deserve to be remembered. Dramatic irony perhaps? There's also parallels to Sigismund's IRL namesake, whose father died when he was young, was basically adopted by King Louis the Great of Hungary and Poland, and ended up becoming king of Hungary. Dorn even says in a moment of anger that Sigismund is “not his son, and never will be”. Regrettable statement made in a moment of anger? Or a subconscious Freudian slip?
The Angel | The Prototype Primarch
A page covering the Primarchs as a whole can't be complete without covering their predecessor, the Angel, who was created during the Unification Wars & is implied to be the template from which all 20 Primarchs were modeled after, thus the colloquial names hes given such as "Primarch Zero" or the "Prototype Primarch". For one thing, of all the sons of the Emperor, the Angel's DNA is the least adulterated (save for the literal angel wings), making him more or less a direct clone of the Emperor himself; he's an immensely potent psyker that looks almost exactly like Him but younger and he even wields a flaming sword with blue flames instead of the orange flames of his Father. He even had a blindingly beautiful aura just like the Emperor. Whether or not Erda had a hand in creating the Angel is unknown.
The Angel is effectively the answer to the question of "What if the Primarchs were never scattered & remained pure?" & like the traitor Primarchs, the Angel was obedient at first, but quickly went on a rogue rampage on a planet of humans (not Terra, thankfully) because he could sense they all had very, very minor amounts of chaotic taint and thus deemed them unworthy of the Emperor's love & fully worthy of extermination. The Emperor had to put the kibosh on this genocidal maniac from doing any further damage by sealing him in a sarcophagus with an enchantment that would put the Angel into stasis until his casket was abducted in transit to Terra, rediscovered by the Inquisition, then set loose on a daemon prince before being lured back into the sarcophagus again where he now remains in stasis.
Rules on the Tabletop
Thanks to Forge World, not only do we have models for the Primarchs, but rules as well. As you can guess, they are ungodly death machines who can easily win their points back and more. That's not to say they're invincible, though; they can still be killed if you screw up badly enough. Do be sure to see Primarchs in 8th Edition and the google drive link on that page as well, should you want to play 30k using the modern rule set. All currently released Primarchs have the following statlines:
|Fulgrim||8||6||6||6||6||8||5||10||2+||5++/3++ in CC||380|
|Ferrus Manus||7||6||7||7||6||5||4+1||10||2+||3++||455 or steal his hammer for 415|
|Lorgar||6||6||6||6||5||6||4+1||10||2+||4++||2 or 3||375 or Chaosify him for 450|
|Perturabo||8||6||7||6||6||5||4||10||2+||3++||455 or give him Forgebreaker for 490|
|Corvus Corax||7||6||6||6||6/5||7||6/5||10||2+/3+||5++||450 or fuck him over for 350|
|Alpharius||7||7||6||6||6||6||5||10||2+||4++||415.... or is it?|
|Roboute Guilliman (40k, 7e)||9||6||6||6||6||6||6||10||2+||3++||350|
|Magnus the Red||7||5||7||6||6||6||4||10||2+||4++||5||495 or charge up for 670|
|Magnus the Red (Daemon, 40k 7e)||7||7||8||7||7||7||6||10||4+||4++||5||650|
|Jaghatai Khan||7||6||6||6||6||8||6+1||10||2+||5++/3++ in CC||385 or give him a bike for 460|
- Special Rules (not counting the ones specific for each Primarch)
- Adamantium Will
- Independent Character
- Eternal Warrior
- It Will Not Die
- Master of the Legion
- Precision Shots
- Precision Strikes
- Sire of the [Legion]
As of 8th edition (special rules not included):
|Magnus the Red||16||2+||2+||8||7||18||7||10||3+/4++||445/21|
Each of them have one or two close-combat weapons, all of which are AP2 or 1, backed by some decent gun to lay some dakka down while they run to the glorious melee. Their Primarch rule acts like a big bundle of USRs wrapped up together in one package, and as ICs they can join squads as well (though most of the Primarchs are better run solo). Each of them have a page worth of special rules and unique wargear, both of which can be stupidly powerful to the point of broken, but that's OK since even the cheapest of the Primarchs costs no less than 350 points and eats an extremely valuable Lord of War slot that might otherwise be spent on a Thunderhawk or a Fellblade.
Also worth mentioning, that Perturabo and Rogal Dorn are special enough to get their own personal special/unique vehicle, other primarchs may get their own vehicles in the future (who knows?). However, rules dictate that neither vehicle can be taken in games under 3000 points. Meaning you can only use it in 3000+ matches.
- Perturabo gets to ride in The Tormentor, a Shadowsword with the Command Tank upgrade. Not only that, but Perturabo is so awesome, he managed to somehow give it 15 troop capacity, meaning it can take 12 Power Armoured dudes + himself, or 6 Terminators for his bodyguard. But, it doesn't stop there! It also has a single Void Shield! It costs 25pts more than a normal Shadowsword with the same upgrades, but following FAQs it also has BS4, free sponsons, and gains Tank Hunters/Monster Hunters any time it fires all its guns at one target.
- Dorn, on the other hand, gets a customised Thunderhawk Gunship, the Ætos Dios. This ship has Turbo Laser as standard, plus a single Void Shield to protect it, it also has It Will Not Die so can regenerate some of its hull points and finally it ALSO has a 4+ invulnerable save against missiles, all on top of being a flyer which means you can only snap-shot at it, all for the bargain cost of 600 points - which is actually 175 points CHEAPER than a normal Legion Thunderhawk with a Turbo-Laser, though you obviously still have to pay for Rogal.
- Khan gets his own bitching jetbike: the Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike. I has two master crafted heavy bolters, ups his toughness to 7 and lets him do d3 hammer of wrath attacks.
It is well known that most of the primarchs were douchebags to varying degrees.
From least to most douchebag. Note, the scale really drops off into fucking douchebag after Jaghatai, and straight-up villain after Fulgrim and FUCKING CUNT after Lorgar. Also, depending on what they did, the Lost Primarchs may be even worse than all actions depicted here. Generally speaking, we'll be grading these guys on their personalities, treatment of their legion and others, and their motives and reasons for their actions. Also, we'll be adding more weight to their actions during the Great Crusade rather than the Heresy, not many Primarchs had a clear head during the Age of Darkness. Keep in mind that, as charismatic and badass as they may be, the Primarchs are responsible for a level of warmongering and genocide that would appall even the worst of Earth's dictators. How they feel about these atrocities, and why they did it (is it grim necessity, standard Imperial procedure or baseless sadism?) is what separates the "good" from the "bad".
- The Nice Guys
- Vulkan - The least douchebaggy primarch by far. Vulkan routinely put the life of him and his men on the line for the sake of the Imperial citizens. Vulkan would throw himself to the defence of a no name human tribe with the same ferocity and zeal as he would Terra itself. A total bro. Also was the largest, strongest Primarch (Ferrus' metal arms were determined as cheating) and held back in sparring for fear of hurting his brothers. His only real fault was that, despite his strong distaste for terror weapons, he had a thing for setting people on fire. The only times he was an asshole were when he forgot who he was due to Curze's torture driving him mad. Of course, he's still a Primarch and a fiery general, and he will leave you a pile of ash if you end up on his shitlist.
- Sanguinius - Despite some... unorthodox tendencies, he is reported as being the most charismatic of the Primarchs, perhaps second only to Horus. He taught his men humility and nobility, and put the well-being of humanity above any personal glory. A pretty all-round nice guy (except for that little aforementioned bloodlust problem). And he can also lapse a bit, as seen in his treatment of Curze by denying him a chance of changing his fate & earning forgiveness, and he regrettably had to kill many of his Red-Thirsted men when they got too batshit even for him. Like Vulkan though, he can still be a ferocious force if riled up, he once beat the shit out of guy for daring to imply the Signus III campaign was a trap (it was, but he had no reason to suspect Horus at that point).
- Magnus the Red - For his faults, Magnus was one of the nicest Primarchs right up there with Vulkan and Sanguinius. Before the whole Prospero thing, this guy's MO was all about the advancement of humanity: always trying the diplomatic approach to preserve what could be preserved, using shock and awe tactics to limit damage when fighting, happily taking remembrancers along his legion (Although all remembrancers amongst the fellowship were psykers to some degree). Magnus was a friendly and open-minded idealist, which makes it all the more tragic when he gets deceived, framed, backstabbed and then coaxed into selling his soul to the Cuttlefish of Keikaku. He is easily the most sympathetic of the traitors, considering he only joined them after being backed into a corner; had Jaghatai been at his side during and after Nikaea things might have turned out differently. He was also the only traitor Primarch who actually cared about his men, even after ascending to daemonhood. The novel Deathfire also ups his bro-ness quite a bit, as he proved himself the only traitor-aligned Primarch to sincerely do something very helpful for one of his loyalist brothers after the Horus Heresy was already in full swing. This "special favour" is made all the more striking given how it took place after Magnus had his adoptive homeworld burned out from under him. Perhaps his skin was red not only because of mutation, but because it also showed the greatness of his heart? On the other hand, this was done by one of the fragments of Magnus that embodied his love for his gene-sons and fellow Primarchs (which ultimately self-destructed to keep the Crimson King from absorbing its power), so any hope that he kept that good heart died after Ahriman's failure at his Second Rubric on Prospero. While his soul was still in one piece, Magnus's main character flaw was his arrogance. While he wasn't an in-your-face type like Fulgrim, Magnus and his Legion were still entirely convinced that they knew the Warp better than anyone else, which led to them disregarding many warnings and red flags that could've been avoided, leading almost directly to their awful, awful fates. Also, Magnus wasn't ENTIRELY innocent as he had implanted sleeper agents and spies throughout the Imperium, ruining the lives of those brainwashed while betraying the trust of his brothers. Why he did this isn't exactly clear (it's very unlikely to be Chaos related) though it's most likely an attempt to obtain information and records his brother might otherwise destroy.
- Corax - Even after being raised under the tyranny of the Kiavahrans, he refused to take after their tyrannous ways, wanted to make things right, and asked the Emperor to end the civil war he started while liberating his homeworld of Lycaeus. Seeing the ruthless tendencies the Terran members of his legion had, he quietly shipped them way the fuck away from the rest of the Great Crusade to go fight xenos or had them all slaughtered during the Battle of Gate 42. One of the only primarchs to readily admit his own mistakes, which were many and sometimes tragic. Developed a brutal habit of folding Chaos Space Marines into pretzels when shapeshifting into a tangible shadow during his hunt against his Daemon brothers Post-Heresy but left the slaves alone.
- Jaghatai Khan - Despite him being modeled after the guy who holds the high score on raping and pillaging, Jaghatai was actually very reasonable and a pretty fun guy to be around. His main hobbies included raiding and jetbikes, but he had an appreciation for the fine arts as well. He was very good friends with Magnus and very pro-psyker. However he also kept his distance from pretty much everyone else, save Horus, not wanting to deal with other people's bullshit, unless they were really worth the effort - as the result very few people knew and trusted him (especially once his only bros turned traitor). While the Khan didn't seem to care too much about the whole Great Crusade thing and spent most of his time doing his own thing, he never turned his back on the Imperium and sincerely believed in the idea of an Empire in the starry skies. And this was despite being the one of the few Primarchs to understand how bunked the whole Imperial Truth secular atheist propaganda really was (remember that the Chogorisian had Shamans, who also are the ones who select the White Scars' Chapter Master through mysterious initiatic trials); and of the Emperor himself he declared that he was "neither a monster nor a simpleton", mostly because he knew that Chaos was far worse (of course). So, the Emperor knew all along that the Khagan had his priorities right and would therefore not betray him, even when Malcador brought up the topic; and this was in spite of the personal relationship of father and son being explicitly awkward.
- The In-between
- Guilliman - R.G. is a jerk with a (or rather two) heart(s) of gold or a nice guy with a nasty mean streak, depending on how you look at him. Some people might say this dude was a statesman in the same vein as Augustus Caesar- he was great at building states and making life generally better for people, but only if you ignore the deported and murdered people who didn't agree 100% with the new regime. For somebody more reasonable, Guilliman was perhaps one of the most responsible and human among his brothers. He cared about the common man, personally planned post-war reconstruction and political integration into the Imperium of the planets he conquered and (unofficially) tolerated moderate presence of religion in Ultramar. But for sure the guy had a big ego, as he constantly spoke and behaved like he knew what was best for everyone, at least until proven wrong (multiple times). And you better not get on his shit list, although to be fair he was mostly a complete jerk with people he considers being psycho mass murderers with no respect for their own sons or civilian populations. And despite what some people would have you believe, he knew he couldn't plan for every situation and expected people to use their own judgment rather than blindly follow his codex. Like Jaghatai Khan, we know Guilliman recognized that the Emperor was a horrible father (likely since he's one of the few among his brothers to have had actual decent adoptive parents) and that the ideals the Emperor espoused were far more important than the Emperor himself ever was, and after learning that his whole Imperium Secundus plan was based on bad assumptions he's been beating himself up about it all the way into the 42nd millennium. While he's grown more cynical since his revival and subsequent realization of how badly the Imperium had devolved in his absence, he has refused to abandon his noble ideals or his faith in humanity as a whole and has privately considered the possibility that in retrospect he had been overly dismissive of Lorgar's ideas about the Emperor's divinity. He also seems to be a bit more irritable than he used to be, but given his current situation it would be more surprising if that wasn't the case. Also, may have actually imprisonned Cypher and the Fallen so that the Emperor wouldn't discover who broke Lion El'Jonson's best sword, ultimately causing him to die in battle in Emprah's mini-me's own pseudo Horus Heresy.
- The Douches
- Horus - Pre-Heresy he was a surprisingly chill dude, except if you crossed his sensibilities. Got along well with the regular people and his brothers, but he gradually started treating some of them like shit after becoming Warmaster and resented the idea that he and his brothers would not be able to rule over the planets that they had conquered. His insecurities may have also made him vulnerable to the Dark Gods' lies when he received a vision of the Imperium 10,000 years into the future where the Emperor was worshiped as a god, he and many of his brothers were forgotten, and everything was Grimdark--a future that, unbeknownst to him, he would be directly responsible for creating specifically as a result of his own attempts to avert it. The whole Heresy thing just sort-of kills his position on the list. After going full Chaos, he rapidly became a much, much bigger dick.
- Rogal Dorn - Although one hell of a masochist, and at times thick-headed, he did see the idea behind the Imperium, and actually agreed with it. Honest and dependable, while Rogal didn't make for interesting conversation, he would always do his job without complaint. Had as much empathy and subtlety as one of his fortresses and ended up hurting a lot of people (mostly emotionally, but sometimes physically too) with his over-the-top brutal honesty. The prime example was when he betrayed Fulgrim's trust after they had a discussion regarding Konrad's visions, and provoked Curze into slashing him across the face. However, he could occasionally get quite philosophical, and is perhaps the only Primarch to admit that his own nature and power unsettled him.
- Leman Russ - Nowhere near as much of a dick as butthurt Magnus fanboys would have you believe. He was indeed savage and brutal, but ultimately always keeping the larger goal of betterment of humanity in sight and having good reasons for that myopia. Prone to picking fights with his brothers and destroyed Prospero under questionable circumstances. That said, he used the culture of his homeworld to give his Legion control over its savagery, and made the Space Wolves focus on protecting people from monsters instead of just butchering civilians. He did use terror tactics, mass killings, and the destruction of knowledge, but he did so out of loyalty to humanity and the Emperor, not just because he felt like it. Bottom line: Russ certainly had his fair share of flaws, but as belligerent and myopic as he could be he always tried to make the galaxy safe for humanity in the longer run.
- Lion El'Jonson - The Lion was complex, to say the least. He had an arrogance that matched Fulgrim or Horus's worst moments combined with a difficult early life fighting Chaos beasts on Caliban. This "do-or-die" attitude spilled over into his interpersonal skills, hard. Too hard. Put simply, you had one chance with Johnson and if he ever decided you wasted it, then it was over and you went on his shitlist forever. The end result was a Primarch who was aloof and taciturn, whose poor communication skills made him unsuited to lead the Primarchs but whose ego made it impossible for him to accept the seniority of Horus or Russ. At the same time, there was a competitive, spiteful, and self-centered side to the Lion, which led him to execute one of his own Dark Angels over a conflict of authority and nearly kill Russ over an argument about kill-stealing. There's been speculation in-universe and out of it that he wasn't wholly loyal to the Emperor, but he made it clear to Curze that he sees loyalty as "its own reward". The only reason he's below Russ is that Russ at least admitted his own faults and tried to interact with people, while the Lion was too stubborn to admit when he was wrong and came off as distant at the best of times.
- Ferrus Manus - A big dude with a penchant for bursts of choleric anger. Between his resting bitch face and his Social Darwinist ideals, he seems at first glance to be a natural candidate for a traitor. However, his honesty and loyalty to the Emperor mean he certainly wasn't as bad as Perturabo or Mortarion, and he did sincerely believe that weakness would cause the Imperium to collapse. He was... really a pain to deal with, however. Unlike, let's say, Dorn, who was only really mean when you made it on his shitlist, Ferrus was only nice to people who made it on his friendslist. Anyone else could, as far as he was concerned, either stay out of his way or get introduced to his fists. Most of the Loyalists and even some Traitors (at first) viewed the protection of the innocent as their goal, while Ferrus encouraged tactics that led to massive civilian casualties, and where Primarchs like Curze or Angron took Legions that were bad about mortal deaths and kept up such practices, Manus took a Legion that had tried to minimize mortal deaths and made them worse about it. All this said, he was loyal unto death to the Emperor's ideals and he also understood that his sons' fetish for cybernetics was beyond unhealthy and wanted to help them overcome it. His death ensured that last part would never happen, and indeed made them double down on their hatred of the flesh.
- Alpharius Omegon - Damned if anyone knows. You just can't trust that/those guy(s), which does make him/them a pretty big dick by default. The fallout from some of the Alpha Legion's Crusade-era shenanigans suggests a certain inclination to showing off at the expense of civilian lives, probably due to an enormous inferiority-superiority complex. Still, they rebelled under perhaps the best intentions among all the traitors with Alpharius at least recognising Chaos had to be defeated (we think- it's still ambiguous as to their end goals) Omegon is possibly a bit better, in that he wasn't willing to sacrifice all of mankind to do so (maybe). After Alpharius's probable death by Dorn at Pluto and Omegon taking his mantle to (allegedly) die at Guilliman's hands, the legion debatably turned into a schizophrenic monster, though this is better than what Fulgrim's actions turned his legion into by far.
- Fulgrim - Not as much a dick as some other Primarchs. Still a dick to humans and Marines who didn't match his ridiculously high standards. He also can't keep a secret, betraying Konrad Curze's trust and causing him to go nuts on Dorn's face. Other than Horus and Sanguinius, was the only Primarch to really get along with all his brothers (save Jagatai, but that's his fault. Oh, Mortarion thought he was a prancing idiot. And Fulgrim considered Russ a dumb hick. And he didn't seem to like the Second very much), and was BFFs with Ferrus Manus, of all people. That is, until he chopped his head off. Rude. Also took pride to the extremity of arrogance, hence his fall to Slaanesh. Interestingly, his bizarre fixation on friendship with Ferrus never left him, constantly cloning him with help of Fabius Bile and trying to win him over his side. Needless to say, he's failed thus far.
- The Self-righteous Jerk
- Lorgar - The dude who brought this whole fucking mess into fruition. If only he had strangled Erebus and Kor Phaeron at the first mention of Chaos. Instead he decided he was going to ruin everything for everybody because his daddy was a NAYtheist and none of the brothers really supported him. He started off as a well-intentioned idealist who sought to use what he knew best to uplift humanity, religion, before the Emperor's actions on Monarchia destroyed his psyche, allowing Erebus and Kor Phaeron to let him know about the other gods who would appreciate his worship. While it's true he shouldn't have been treated so harshly by the Emperor (even Malcador and Guilliman privately said as much), and even though he believed Chaos was necessary for humanity to survive and continue existence, the fact that Chaos & the Horus Heresy caused the 10,000 year old Imperium to become the grimdark, bloody, corpse-littered cesspool we all know and love would normally outweighs all of the slivers of sympathy that he might have had. And yet, there are people far, far worse than him. To be honest, he was one of the nicest primarchs before the destruction of Monarchia, comparable to Magnus before the Burning of Prospero. He tried to befriend everyone and was one of the primarchs that mostly conquered planets by words and faith, instead of by fire and sword and along Dorn and Guilliman, was one of the rarer ones that wouldnt leave conquered worlds as utter shitholes, instead rebuilding them and integrating its population. All this make his downfall even more sad and tragic, and even after his fall, he seemed to be generally concerned about his brother Angron's (of all people) life, which was a primary reason that he was in a hurry transforming him. Also, confrontation with Corax shows that he genuinely cares for his son's lives, putting him above the disgusting fucktards below. Then again, he was completely blasé about the horrific fates the Forces of Chaos inflicted on people (see the Gal Vorbak for reference), regardless of whether they wanted it or not. Also, he's arguably the only Primarch who is completely unrepentant about his crimes towards the Imperium (even Horus acknowledged what a piece of shit he himself had become, and Fulgrim sometimes expressed regret when the pink haze wasn't clouding his mind). In sum, Lorgar is why we can't have nice things.
- The FUCKING CUNTS
- Mortarion - Rubbed everyone the wrong way. EVERYONE, excluding Eidolon who he actually got along with somehow. Downright bigoted against psykers. He resented pretty much everyone who he felt had it easier than him. He was also notorious for using chemical and radiological terror weapons and generally not giving a fuck about who got killed by them. However, his reputation is slightly misleading. Mortarion was the Primarch who was the most driven to slay monsters and bring down tyrants, and would rather go kill more monsters than rebuild the planet. He and his Legion were almost always deployed in the most hellish and war-torn locations, so their use of chemical weapons didn't do as much damage as Morty's detractors would have you believe. Maybe not, but he'd still deploy them in almost any theatre as a matter of course. Over time, he became more and more disgusted with people's acceptance of tyrants and psykers, and became much more likely to kill everything in the vicinity of what he considered evil. Interestingly he did care deeply for his own people, which is why he was so driven to take down both monsters and tyrants after witnessing the rule of his foster father oppressed the populace, though he didn't exactly do much, if anything to show it. Then Nurgle made him his plague-ridden bitch, at which point he decided to just take his bitterness out on everyone lacking the Plaguefather's "gifts".
- Angron - Loved killing people and not much else. Most of the casualties within his legion were a result of him being a team-killing psycho because quite frankly he didn't care what he got to kill as long as he got to kill it. That said, Angron at least had an excuse for being such a rampaging dick all the time. The Butcher's Nails had effectively turned him into a half-mindless killing machine, as it actually has not just remapped but replaced parts of his brain, effectively removing from him any emotions other than pain, hatred and battle-lust, which arguably means he doesn't even have any Moral Agency (that's Philosopher-speak for saying that he can't be held ethically accountable for his actions any more than a toaster can for burning your fingers). One may wonder what sort of guy he would have been without the implants, maybe someone more akin to Conan the Barbarian? Just consider even with the nails biting at his mind he became life bros with the other gladiators of Nuceria and stopped himself from killing worthy adversaries back during his life as a slave, such an act must have meant getting brain-roasted by the Butcher's Nails. But he stick to his guns despite the suffering. On top of that, he got fucked over pretty hard by Big E when they first met, so it's no wonder he went traitor the moment Horus made him an offer, we may even credit him for enduring years fighting for the Imperium instead of just getting himself killed in any of the battles. At the end of the day, Angron was probably the primarch who gave least fucks about his legion and was content to let it run itself without his leadership, although he never really wanted one to begin with. As a result, many of the saner parts of his legion loathed him, to say nothing about his general reputation (Isstvaan III wasn't the first time...). The action that places him so low on this list is the fact that he allowed the spread of Butcher's Nails throughout his Legion, despite his own hatred of the damn things and the fact they cause him so many issues, not least going psycho rage-monster most of the time; which is a pretty fucked up thing for him to condone. Then again, many of his sons accepted the mini-Nails to get closer to their Primarch, psykers, however, died horribly, not that Angron gave a shit. Perhaps he allowed it because seeing his sons with Butcher's Nails reminded him of his fallen gladiator brothers and sisters on Nuceria, but then again he blew up the planet along with all of the people he once fought to liberate just because they were bad-mouthing him. He really wasn't all that great of a guy even during his moments of lucidity, and he was one the few Primarchs to willingly kill his own men during the Great Crusade, an act even Horus thought was unthinkable.
- Perturabo - Initially, Pert was a fairly relaxed architect, swapping lore with Magnus and dreaming up untold wonders (we get a look at this more reasonable side during Angel Exterminatus). During the crusade, though, he and his legion were given the very shittiest jobs and the least recognition, going so far as to have the Iron Warriors' credit in a campaign handed to other legions swiped least a few times. Understandably pissed, Perturabo spiraled from a not-very-high start to rock bottom, caring even less about the life of his legionaries and civilians than Mortarion. Unlike other Primarchs like Angron and Mortarion, Perturabo didn't really have that tragic of an upbringing to justify his shitty personality. And while he did have a sympathetic foster sister, Calliphone, who tried to help him cope with his dreams being belittled and court politics plaguing him in his childhood, any sympathy went out the window when he choked her to death for pointing out his flaws and foolishness causing the planet's rebellion after he devastated Olympia (even though he did cry afterwards). Like Angron, Perturabo was one the few Primarchs who willingly killed his own men. Unlike Angron, who usually did it in a spur of rage and madness, Perturabo's decimation of IVth Legion was cold, calculated, and entirely deliberate. It is this act, along with many others, that led to the Iron Warriors being a top candidate for the title of "evilest motherfuckers in the setting". Angron at least had the flimsy justification of the nails. Perturabo simply fell to his emotions. By the end we was just an envious, petty bastard who was always complaining whenever things didn't go his way (which was always).
- Konrad Curze - Arguably the most sadistic of all primarchs, Konrad really got off to torturing people and manipulating the masses through fear. Warped as it may have been, he did at least have a sense of justice. Unfortunately, his desire to protect the innocent was eviscerated and left to die in a gutter by his desire to punish the guilty. Nostramo was a grade A five star bona fide shithole and it shows in the actions of the King of the Night. The man who was supposed to be the ultimate harbinger of justice ended up as an unholy combination of Batman and Joker. Any ideas of mercy or decency he may have harbored had been long buried under a massive pile of flayed guts. Angron may have not really cared about his Legion, but Curze actively despised his own long before the Horus Heresy ever started. He did admit that what he had done was wrong, but instead of trying to atone for his atrocities, he used that fact he was going to be assassinated as validation of his actions. In fact, the only two things that genuinely seemed to scare him were the possibilities that the Emperor wouldn't order his death (and render his life choices meaningless) -- or even worse, be forgiven for his behavior. The fact that he refused to turn back to heroism at so many opportunities because he felt himself a puppet of fate makes one unable to decide whether he is contemptible or pathetic. Curze skirts this foul line.
A little side note, if you want an awesome look at the Primarchs in all their Crusadey goodness, go look at Aerion the Faithful's Libris Primaris project. http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/topic/152862-artwork-libris-primaris/
- The official 30K miniatures are produced by Forge World
- Hitechminiatures has good alternative models
- Wargame Exclusive also has very good alternative models but a smaller selection - yet.
- Cadwallon has Chibi Primes
|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