"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
The Primarchs were the twenty (-one) genetically-engineered "sons" of the Emperor. Using his own DNA in their creation, the Primarchs were designed to be far superior to even Space Marines: they were taller, stronger, faster and more intelligent. They were also incredibly charismatic and were well suited to their role as the generals and leaders of the Imperium of Man. Such a pity then that they ended up being bunch of squabbling siblings who were responsible for plunging the Imperium into its current messed up state. Even the loyalist primarchs contributed to screwing things up good and proper, by either disappearing, getting killed or failing to keep the Imperium along their father's vision.
The 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 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.) However, due to insidious dickery and in spite of the safeguards the Emperor had set up, the forces of Chaos were able to spirit the Primarchs away from the laboratory and scatter them across the universe (Conveniently, the canine sample get scattered to a wolf-planet) Just as planned. Somehow, the Emperor knew his sons were still alive, but had no clue to where they could be, so he decided to go ahead with 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.
Each of the young Primarchs were forced to adapt to the lifestyle on their new homeworld, something which would influence and mould 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.
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. Angron outright refused to follow the Emperor, preferring to die in battle along with his rebels 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
- 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
- 20.Alpharius Omegon
The Emperor's attitude to 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 Pinnochios. He even referred to Angron as "The Twelth" rather than refer to him by name. Although this seems like typical Emperor douchebaggery, he behaved in this way because the Primarchs themselves prompted that dynamic, and it was easier to just go along with it.
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.
Primarchs and Legions
|Legion Number||Name||Homeworld||Name of the Legion||Allegiance||Description/Current Status||Portrait||30k/40k|
|I||Lion El'Jonson||Caliban||Dark Angels||
|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||Loyal||
|XI||+++Records expunged (Possibly Malal?)+++|
|XIII||Roboute Guilliman||Macragge||Ultramarines||Loyal to the Imperium, not so much to the Emperor.||
|XV||Magnus the Red||Prospero||Thousand Sons||
|XVI||Horus Lupercal||Cthonia||Luna Wolves/ Sons of Horus/ Black Legion||DOUBLE TRAITOR||
|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. Horus is very dead, but that was his fault for being a fuckwit.
- 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, and also the last Daemon Primarch to bow to the Despoiler during the Legion war. Got some open heart surgery, courtesy of Draigo/Ward. Created zombie plague from one of the artifacts Abbaddon used in his XII crusade. He's currently invading Ultramar after hearing news that Guilliman's finally awake, although it isn't going as well as he hoped.
- 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.
- 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.
- Konrad Curze allowed a Callidus assassin to infiltrate his lair and kill him, apparently wanting to die after becoming the very thing he fought against.
- 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 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.
- 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. But the fact that he 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.
- 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. For what it's worth, Fear to Tread shows that the Sanguinor is indistinguishable from Sanguinius himself and had enough power to appear in the mind of an Apothecary shortly before the Blood Angels were deployed to the Signus system.
- 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 Eye - 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 ret-conned 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 about 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 boltgun. 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 oldCodex: 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 Vulkan Lives the big V had to be dragged into a Thunderhawk in bloody tatters. Kurze captured him and tortured him to death... repeatedly; 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. And then as of The Hunt for Vulkan, 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 of the counterattack on The Beast. 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.
- In The Beast Must Die Vulkan led Imperial forces to reclaim Ullanor from The Beast and 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.
- 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 Time 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.
- 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." He is probably derping around in the Eye like this.
Two Missing Primarchs
Who are the two missing Primarchs, you ask? Sigmar 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. It is also highly possible that the XI Legion Primarch has now become Malal and the Sons of Malice Chaos Space Marine warband are the remnants of the 11th Legion (Possible, because Malal's sacred number is 11 and the two unknown legions are the II and the XI) ...
Okay, fine. Nobody really knows. 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.
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 Horus Heresy novels fill in some of the blanks, but they still leave a lot of questions open. 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. 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. 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). Finally, it also adds 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. Leman Russ mentions in Prospero Burns 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. 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. Gene-seed flaws might have played a major part- 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. 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.
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 German 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.
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 rape 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. All currently released Primarchs have the following statlines (the "Minimum" Primarch is also listed for convenience, if you want a baseline to homebrew your own):
|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)||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|
|Magnus the Red (Daemon)||7||7||8||7||7||7||6||10||4+||4++||5||650|
- Special Rules
- 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: Like most things in the 8th edition its beginning to look like most of the Chaos aligned Primarchs will have almost identical stat lines to each other.
|Magnus the Red||16||2+||2+||8||7||18||7||10||3+/4++||495/21|
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 grants them the combined benefits of Fleet, Fearless, Fear, IWND, Eternal Warior, and Adamantium Will, 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, some of which is stupidly powerful to the point of broken, but that's OK since even the cheapest of the Primarchs costs more than 350 pts. 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 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 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 strictly speaking it does NOT have BS4 unless you take the targeter sponsons as the Legion Crew upgrade is not mentioned (the command tank upgrade is), but it's so awesome, who cares? It's called the Tormentor.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 aforehinted bloodlust problem).
- 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 (especially considering he knew about the Webway project), 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?
- 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.
- Jaghatai Khan - Despite him being modeled after the guy who holds the high score on raping and pillaging, Jaghatai was actually very reasonably 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, despite being one of the two Primarchs to fully recognize how flawed the Emperor was; he declared that Big E was "neither a monster nor a simpleton", mostly because he knew that Chaos was even worse.
- 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. This dude was a statesman. 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 didn't get on his shit list, for 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 and that the ideals the Emperor espoused were far more important than the Emperor himself ever was. While he's grown more cynical since his revival and subsequent realization of how badly the Imperium has devolved in his absence, he has refused to abandon his noble ideals or his faith in humanity as a whole.
- 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. He may have also been tricked into joining Chaos 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. Also a dick to some remembrancers.
- Rogal Dorn - Although one hell of a masochist, and at times thick-headed, he did see the idea behind the Imperium, and actually somewhat 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 a brick 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, brutal, and myopic (being as violent as Angron and using psykers like Magnus while shunning both for those traits); but ultimately always keeping the larger goal of betterment of humanity in sight. 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 once 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 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 while the Lion was too narrow-minded to even recognise his.
- 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 better 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 onto 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.
- 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.
- Fulgrim - Not as much a dick as some other primarchs. Still a dick to humans and marines who didn't match his ridiculous 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 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.
- 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. Then Nurgle made him his plague-ridden bitch.
- 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. 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, although he never really wanted one to begin with. The action that places him so low on this list is the fact that he forced everyone in his Legion to get Butcher's Nails into their skulls, despite his hatred of the damn things; which is a pretty fucked up thing for him to condone.
- Perturabo - Underwent an extreme shift some time before the heresy. 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 (he killed 10% of his legion when he assumed command, simply because they weren't the very best) 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 an upbringing to justify his shitty personality. 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. Any ideas of mercy or decency he may have harbored had been long buried under a massive pile of flayed guts. Actively despised his own Legion long before the Horus Heresy ever started. He did finally admit that what he had done was wrong, but instead of trying to atone for his atrocities, he just let himself get killed. Lame.
- Lorgar - The dude who brought this whole fucking mess into fruition. If only he had strangled Erebus at the first mention of Chaos. Instead he decided he was going to ruin everything for everybody because nobody was on board with his kooky cult shit. Lorgar is why we can't have nice things.
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 Primarchs of the Space Marine Legions|
| Loyalist |
Corvus Corax - Ferrus Manus - Jaghatai Khan
Lion El'Jonson - Leman Russ - Roboute Guilliman
Rogal Dorn - Sanguinius - Vulkan
| Traitor |
Alpharius/Omegon - Angron - Fulgrim
Horus - Konrad Curze/Night Haunter - Lorgar
Magnus the Red - Mortarion - Perturabo