|Battle Cry||"Into the fires of battle, unto the anvil of war!", "For the Emperor and His people!", and "VULKAN LIVES *stomp* *stomp*"|
|Original Name||Dragon Warriors|
|Successor Chapters||Black Dragons, Black Vipers, Covenant of Fire, Dragonspears, and Dark Krakens are confirmed. Storm Giants and Fire Lords are suspected.|
|Strength||940 (1 Veteran Company, 6 Battle Companies, 1 Scout Company)* confirmed in novel "Rebirth"|
|Specialty||Flamers and Meltas, bitch slapping the Marines Malevolent|
|Allegiance||Imperium of Man|
|Colours||Green, black, gold|
Not to be confused with the Salamander, a mythical beast. Nor real world Amphibians of the clade Urodela.
"I define manhood simply: Men should be tough, fair and courageous, never petty. Never looking for a fight but never backing from one either."
- – John Wayne
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."
- – GK. Chesterton
"I fell into a burnin' ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire"
- – Johnny Cash, summing up the Salamander's thoughts during battle
The Salamanders are one of the First Founding Space Marine Chapters in Warhammer 40,000. They are a very notable and fairly-popular chapter for two chief reasons: first, they're known for their love of flamer and melta weapons, preferences for brutal close-quarters combat, and their pitch-black skin color as a testament of their volcanic homeworld, Nocturne. Secondly, and arguably more profoundly, they're some of the closest things this fucked-up galaxy has to heroes: on top of having a complete unwillingness to retreat or surrender, they are well-known for being fairly nice guys with a code of honor, especially by space marine standards. Matters are definitely helped by the existence of their Primarch, Vulkan, who presents a 93.6% mathematical chance he'll be the the coolest son-of-a-bitch you're ever going to meet. Sadly, and in no short part due to Our Spiritual Liege himself, they are arguably the most shit-upon Chapter fluff-wise, besides the Lamenters of course. The chapter is named after the mythological fire-lizard of the same name.
The Early Crusade
The XVIIIth legion were one of three legions, the others being the VIth and the XXth, that were established separate from the other legions. The reason they were kept in separation is currently unknown, and the mystery behind the separation led to the distrust of each one. It's implied that all three were supposed to specialize in something. However, while the Space Wolves went on to function as the Internal Affairs legion of the Astartes, and the Alpha Legion its Black Ops, the Salamanders never really acquired any particular niche. Unless it was that they were deliberately designed to be the Bros of the Astartes, in which case they function spectacularly.
Whatever the cause of separation, the first publicly known deployment of the XVIIIth was near the end of the Unification Wars to destroy the Tempest Galleries of the Ethnarchy. As a foreshadowing of things to come, the XVIIIth legion's force of 20000 was reduced to 1000, but they still achieved a victory against seemingly impossible odds. This earned them much glory and renown amongst their cousins, but their severely depleted numbers saw them sit out most of the Solar Reclamation. As their heavy losses delayed their deployment to the Great Crusade, they didn't get their own expeditionary fleet. Instead, they were deployed in small groups to reinforce different expeditions and battle groups. They were especially noted for dealing with emergencies behind the Imperial borders, like the sudden appearance of space hulks, or eldar raiders. They were also left in area thought compliant to function as a rearguard in case of recidivism. The sudden nature of these emergencies meant that the XVIIIth were often the only marines available, so they had to cooperate closely with humans, and typically bore the brunt of whatever engagement they were embroiled in.
The XVIIIth would develop a weird reputation. On one hand, they were saviors. On another hand, if a bunch of the XVIIIth were coming, it probably meant things were seriously going to shit. Eventually, Imperial observers began to notice that the marines of the legion seemed to have an obsession with facing impossible odds. They would fight on even when it seemed more reasonable to fall back, and on more than one incident, their stubborness earned criticism. The XVIIIth's suicidal tendencies, coupled with their high battlefield losses, led some Imperials, particularly the Ultramarines, to start wondering if the XVIII was simply going to wipe itself out.
Fortunately, Vulkan was found, and after rescuing his Terran sons from what would have been a devastating ork attack, would temper his sons, so they would become more reasonable and less suicidal. Rather like Sanguinius, he introduced cultural and strategic reforms into the Salamanders which saw them keep their humanitarian tendencies, but become a far more effective fighting force. Gone were the suicidal last stands and stubborn rearguard actions. From Vulkan's introduction on, they would fight more intelligently and more flexibly, but would still never leave a civilian or brother behind.
The Salamanders are a Space Marine chapter based on the Death World Nocturne. Nocturne is a volcanic planet with some truly ridiculous shifting gravity. As such, its people developed a slow, methodical approach to life, coupled with a healthy
fetish respect for fire. Salamanders have somewhat slower reaction time compared to other Astartes (but still blindingly fast compared to humans). In the fluff, this is said to be a result of Salamanders being almost universally cautious and methodical in their thinking, rather than a geneseed malfunction. The planet's only other reason for continued settlement is its rich mineral deposits, making metalworking an important profession to the point of bordering on a priesthood as well as a hotly-contested supply world. These traits carried over to the Salamanders, who are known amongst other things for fielding tough, hard-to-break units and for giving every man and his servo-skull a flamer or melta gun.(Put a couple of C'tan with the Lord of Fire power in your Necron army for the lulz.) They are also well known for making almost all of their own equipment personally, with each man held responsible for making and maintaining his own wargear. They import the few things they cannot manufacture on their home world directly from the Adeptus Mechanicus, who likes them more than the ungrateful dicks who keep using up all their ammunition on drills and "practice fights". The rest of their wargear is made by the Chapter artificers and Techmarines and they produce some of the best armor and weapons of any marine chapter, because they're not busy repairing every scratch on the armor of the other 940 (1 Veteran Company, 6 Battle Companies, 1 Scout Company). The result is that each marine is equipped with practically master-crafted weapons and wears near-artificer level armor. For comparison, Artificer armor is basically equal to terminator armor in capabilities. Their entire chapter is like that.
Despite the relative stability and purity of their gene-seed the Salamanders have no confirmed Successors. Two Chapters - the Storm Giants and Black Dragons - are rumored to be descendants, but these are merely rumors, and the Salamanders themselves claim kinship with no other Chapter, probably because they wish to avoid payin' dat muhfuggen child supp-*FWOOM* Ahem, this is probably because the Salamanders didn't take part in the Second Founding. They never were a very big legion, and were even less so after Istvaan and the Heresy. When old Rowboat decided to split the legions, the Salamanders were exempted from splitting into chapters (so, technically, the Salamanders are still a Legion, they didn't even change their organization much), and in subsequent foundings were either simply passed over in favor of chapters with more plentiful gene-seed to go around, or descendant chapters (like the Storm Giants and Black Dragons) were made later, just without the knowledge or involvement of the Salamanders themselves.
Or maybe the Salamanders and Vulkan are so trusted that they’ve been allowed to rebuild as a legion and operate as such with tens or hundreds of thousands of Space Marines but are so noble and beloved that even the High Lords of Terra can’t bring themselves to be bothered by it. Their exemption to splitting into Chapters never ended, after all. Heck, maybe they don’t even solely recruit from Nocturne as all legions are allowed to recruit from Terra but the Imperial Fists are the only Chapter that does so. Chapter, but the Salamanders are still a legion as they never separated and surely having a bunch of Terran Marines (who usually remained loyal even in the Traitor Legions) among them would ease the politicians’ concerns.
Unfortunately, because Nick Kyme won't let anyone else touch them, and hasn't done anything further with them himself, the 40k fluff of the Salamanders has effectively been stuck in limbo for several years now. Outside of the Salamanders books (which, judging from recent codices, may not even be fully canon anymore), we know next to nothing of what exactly the Salamanders have been up to in the 41st Millennium, and they haven't been involved with any recent fluff events or campaigns. The one chapter that we'd really like to see fighting the good fight and keeping hope alive during the 13 Black Crusade is the one that we hear nothing from while the galaxy goes to hell. Fuck.
The Salamanders themselves are perhaps the most bro-tier of all Space Marine chapters, the Lamenters, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, and Celestial Lions coming in behind them in that order. Unlike most other chapters, Salamanders maintain close ties with their original families, giving them a very human connection with the non-augmented people they are charged with protecting. Strong ties as in often living with their families like normal, real life Marines would when off-duty. They regularly act in thankless rearguard or civilian defense actions, as seen on Armageddon, and rather than spend their free time in their super-awesome orbital fortress monastery, they hang out on the planet's surface chilling with the locals, many actually living 'normal' lives among the people as chieftains, teachers, guardians (basically following in the footsteps of their Primarch), or simply wandering the planet as hermits when not on active combat duty.
In terms of tactics, the Salamanders are one of the simpler chapters: "Wait for it...", "Burn that shit", and "Never say die" are about the sum of their tactics. The number of heat-based weapons they can field is truly alarming, as is a certain special character of theirs who can make them all twin-linked, and another that makes all Melta tagged guns mastercrafted. The fact that each man repairs and maintains his own armor ensures that their chapter Artificers can be free to make truly awesome stuff. They field almost exclusively treaded vehicles, as the gravitic antics of Nocturne's moon Prometheus (really more of a planet) tend to cause anti-grav plating to freak the fuck out.
Of course, if you ask a fa/tg/uy what comes to mind first when they hear the word "Salamanders," there's a good chance you'll get a quip involving African-Americans in some way, ranging from the shenanigans recorded below to quotes from folks like Samuel L. Jackson or Shaft. This is because, due to their Melanchromic Organ becoming hyperactive in response to the ludicrous amounts of background radiation on Nocturne, all Salamanders are black. We're not talking coal black or African-descent black (though before receiving their geneseed the warriors of Nocturne are dark-skinned), we're talking blackhole pitch black, hexadecimal code #000000, the missing word in the phrase "...as the void of space." That kind of black, with glowing red eyes. There were some issues due to miscommunication (like the painter for the Eye of Terror campaign making them a nice chocolatey brown when GW asked for "black" Salamanders) but by the 5th Edition Space Marine codex things had pretty much settled down, many pictures of Salamanders are now with Caucasian facial features with just the skin being black, and eyes fiery red just like it was supposed to be. People still make the blaxploitation jokes because, well, it's an easy joke to make and the Salamanders don't really have a cultural motif of their own that it could clash with. And let's face it, the idea of Samuel L. Jackson as a Space Marine burninating shit or unloading a bolter sideways is just too cool to pass up. Contrast with the Celestial Lions, who are a chapter of black people in space but don't get the same treatment because they have an established cultural motif, namely being cool space Africans and having a fiddly paint scheme. This does beg the question though: if the Salamanders aren't supposed to be space Africans, why does GW have African-sounding voices for the Salamanders in audiobooks and official videos? The answer is laziness.
The 8th Edition supplement also brings up that those red eyes have their own perk: Limited heat sensing! Being the bunch of pyromaniacs, the chapter then decided to decorate their gear so that it emits heat in such ways that their eyes can pick it up, but not be visible to the unaugmented eye. What this doesn't account for is something like, say, a xenos predator with a honed ability to sense heat.
In addition to those mutations, their geneseed also gives them an abnormally hardy constitution, even for a space marine. The Salamanders are much more resistant to radiation and cellular damage than other space marine chapters. This is likely a perk of having a perpetual Primarch, though it may just be one of the quirks coded into their gene-seed by the Emperor.
And if that wasn't enough, the ally matrix in Forge World's Horus Heresy spin-off demonstrates that the Salamanders were the most liked of all the legions. Seriously, the only factions rivaling them for good ties are the Imperial army and the Mechanicum (who everyone kisses up to anyway). Hilariously, one of the 3 chapters they dislike (though not enough to put them on red terms with anyone) are the Ultramarines. They weren't fans of the Word Bearers either, even before the whole Heresy and ritual murder-torture thing.
According to the Salamander's legends, Vulkan left
legendary loot nine relics scattered across the galaxy as a sort of scavenger hunt for his sons. If you believe the stories, when the Salamanders find all nine horcruxes, their Primarch will return to lead them into a glorious future, the enemies of Mankind will be slain, the children of Nocturne will find flamers and meltas under their pillows, the Imperium will return to glory, blah blah, we've all heard the "Primarch Returns to Kick Ass" story. Of the nine relics, the Salamanders have found five. The first three are carried into battle by the Forgefather: the Spear of Vulkan (a master crafted relic flaming spear that can burn through ceramite or adamantium), Kesare's Mantle (a cloak of adamantium and scales that offers the same protection as a storm shield), the Gauntlet of the Forge (a bitchin glove that can spew fire better than a heavy flamer. Not to mention having a digital gun like those of the Jokaero in each finger). The last two stay at home: the Eye of Vulcan, an almost comically large laser defense array that can one shot a battle barge, and the Forge Ship, Chalice of Fire, whose industrial output can supply the Salamander's entire chapter(!) and then some. The remaining four relics are only named, not described, and they are: the Engine of Woes; the Obsidian Chariot; the Unbound Flame (Which some believe to be Vulkan himself - that was the codename the Salamanders called him during the Great Crusade); and the Song of Entropy.
The full story, as revealed by the novel "Sons of the Forge", was that the first Forgefather, T’kell, was tasked with destroying all weapons created by Vulkan save for seven of the nine aforementioned relics. The planet which they originally planned to store these relics was overrun by Sons of Horus and the Dark Mechanicum. The Salamanders escaped with the relics, but the Shattered Legion warband who saved them from the Traitors also wanted to use the relics to attempt assassinating Horus, which was contrary to Vulkan's wish. The Salamanders fought against their Loyalist brothers and ran away. What happened after, saved for the Chalice of Fire being attacked, was unknown. When Vulkan He'stan found the ship, he discovered that the relics carried inside had all gone away.
The moral of the story is that when you invent things like this, share it with the rest of the Imperium. Unlike Vulkan.
Unlike many followers of the Codex Astartes, the Salamanders have actually adopted a different organization for their army: the Salamanders organize themselves in Great Companies rather than the typical codex companies, with 6 companies of 120+ warriors each in addition to a smaller scout "company" of roughly 60 men and their officers. Of the six companies, the first is a veteran company, the second through fourth are battle companies, and the fifth and sixth are reserve companies. The reason they do so is because these seven companies represent the seven ruling houses of Nocturne, a manner akin to the Iron Hands naming each company after the ten founding clans of Medusa.
Unlike other Space Marines, the Salamanders' method of recruitment is almost as Noblebright as it gets - befitting their slow and methodical approach to life, Salamander aspirants start their training at around the age of six or seven as an apprentice to a full Salamander. They won't have to do life-and-death tests like how other Space Marine aspirants start out, no siree, they will spend their time smithing - clearly reinforcing the Salamanders' sympathies for the common people (since they worked like one and recruit by literally teaching children) and predilection for creating wargear (because they actually smithed, duh). As we don't know the criteria by which the aspirants are chosen (and there's probably not a lot of metrics by which seven-year-olds can be clearly distinguished from one another anyway), we can only assume the Salamanders are perfectly open to accepting awestruck boys who've said they want to be like the Salamanders when they grow up to give them a chance to achieve their dreams or let them serve their heroes as Chapter Serfs even if they fail. This also probably means that any Salamander who has trained an apprentice is a better parental figure than The Emperor.
The smithing practice continues until they reach the age to begin the gene-seed implantation process, after which they are judged by Chaplains and Apothecaries as to whether they are worthy to become Space Marines and, as an obvious show of care from the Salamanders, whether they would actually survive the gene-seed implantation. After being cleared at this point, the aspirants will have succeed at a number of trials based on what The Emperor and Vulkan did in their contests before Vulkan swore loyalty to him (which are mostly presumed to be far less lethal to the washouts than other prospective Marines from what we know about the two's competition), until eventually they are required to climb up Cindara Plateau as well as go to Mount Deathfire and slay a Fire Drake (these ones are obviously lethally dangerous).
The Dark Imperium and 8th Edition
The Chapter organization was tweaked slightly (or given more detail, depending on who you ask) with the coming of 8th Edition. Each Company now patterns itself after the seven warrior Houses of the original Salamanders Legion, which were in turn influenced by the great settlements of Nocturne.
The First Company (or Great House now) is still composed of the Chapter Veterans and led by their Chapter Master, while the seventh is still primarily composed of neophytes, but the second to sixth Great Houses are now all considered "battle" or "line" companies, each featuring their own complement of battleline and fire support squads. Only the second to fourth Great Houses have close-support squads though. The total manpower of each Great House is no longer mentioned, but one can assume that if totaled together, the number of Marines would still approximate the size of a "codex" chapter (meaning 1000 marines plus auxiliaries and officers). This means the Salamanders accidentally applied common sense and didn't get executed for it. Because they now don't have reserves sitting oh say a few months or years away while only half their Chapter is doing anything in the galaxy. ~~And yes, that means that by and large, only half of the Space Marines in the galaxy are actually deployed on missions while the rest do nothing but wait for someone to die in a battle company.~~ Except squads from the reserve companies are often seconded out as needed and attached to other strike forces for other conflicts.
The other peculiarity is that the position of Master of the Forge is jointly shared between three Techmarines. It's unknown why this is, but it's possible the three have different roles.
As part of the revisions done by Roboute Guilliman to the Codex Astartes upon his return, the Salamanders now feature Lieutenants, whose role in the Chapter (aside from commanding demi-companies) is to serve as bodyguards to their Company Captain. One now wonders why said Captains don't have their Command Squads for that role instead...
- Vulkan: Primarch of the Salamanders, the Promethean Fire, Lord of Drakes, the Unbound Flame, and living proof that just because you're a transhuman demigod doesn't mean you need to be a dick about it. Was a humble blacksmith on his homeworld Nocturne and didn't want to become one of the Emperor's generals, though the Emperor ultimately convinced him to take up the post. Remained incredibly bro-tier by Imperial standards, including banning radium and phosphex weapons in his legion. Got the shit kicked out of him at the Drop Site Massacre and was taken prisoner by Konrad Curze, who tried to torturefuckmurder him to death, only for Vulkan to be revealed as a Perpetual, which drove Curze crazier. He apparently got permakilled on Macragge, only to be resurrected again on Nocturne. Spent the Siege of Terra guarding the Golden Throne with his finger on the trigger of a dead-man switch that would destroy the planet before Horus won, then disappeared into the mists of history until the War of the Beast, when he died again while fighting the Beast himself. But since he's a Perpetual, odds are he's still out there.
- Artellus Numeon: First Captain of the Salamanders during the Great Crusade, Vulkan's equerry, and de facto master of what was left of the legion after Istvaan V. Coined the catchphrase "Vulkan Lives!" and went kind of nuts because he expected it to come true. Ultimately sacrificed himself to Mount Deathfire, which brought Vulkan back.
- Cassian Vaughn/Cassian Dracos: Legion Master of the Salamanders prior to Vulkan's rediscovery. Wound up in a master-crafted Dreadnought and went on to kick ass and take names during the Heresy, even converting an entire grand battalion of Iron Warriors back to Team Imperium at the Battle of Mezoa.
- Nomus Rhy'tan: Lord Chaplain during the Heresy. Helped create the modern-day Promethean cult as a merging of Imperial Truth and Vulkan's teachings.
- Tu'Shan: Current Chapter Master of the Salamanders. Megaton-bitchslapped a Marines Malevolent captain during the Third War for Armageddon, immediately making him incredibly popular in-universe and out. Was named a Hero of the Imperium for this deed (and for protecting an entire hive city).
- Vulkan He'stan: Current Forgefather of the Salamanders. Totes around three of Vulkan's relics as a sign of his position and badassery and knows how to speak Dark Eldar fluently enough that it caught a Haemonculus off guard.
- Bray'arth Ashmantle: Former captain of the Fourth Company before suffering severe injuries on Ymgarl while fighting the Genestealers there. He would be interred in the legendary Dreadnought chassis originally used by Cassian Dracos above. He went on to take part in the Badab War, being awakened by captain Pellas Mir'san.
- Adrax Agatone: Captain of the 3rd Company and the Salamanders' Primaris poster-boy. He takes the blacksmith motif to its logical extreme by using a thunder hammer and flamer in battle and carrying a huge flaming brazier on his backpack.
Daily Rituals of a Salamander
The daily rituals of the Salamanders take noticeably longer than other Chapters due to Nocturnean pragmatism...and the times are due to...well...you know...
- 12:00: "Morning" Prayer: The Salamanders are roused to begin the day with a few litanies from the Promethean Cult. All battle brothers worship only by the pilot lights of their flamers.
- 13:00: "Morning" Firing Rituals: The Salamanders practice their firing skills. Usually using flamers or meltaguns instead of bolters. The Chapter serfs often have to put out the fires that the Salamanders inadvertently and inevitably cause.
- 15:00: Battle practice: The Salamanders descend to the practice cages. Cages have usually been repaired from all the burn damage from the previous day by that point. Any Tyranids who happen to be a part of this battle practice will usually be part of the next meal.
- 18:00: Hammer time: The Salamanders take to the maintenance of their wargear while also forging new weapons and armor. The Adeptus Mechanicus often drools, wishing they could be anywhere near as good.
- 20:00: "Midday" meal: A light meal prepared by the chapter serfs is consumed. Carolina Reaper peppers are usually a component of the meal. Ghost peppers are employed for occasions when the Salamanders have esteemed guests from outside the chapter. If for any reason, a battle brother suffers indigestion, the Apothecary will administer the ancient Terran compound "Peptobismol" to remedy it.
- 21:00: Pimping of the Rides: The Rhinos, Land Raiders, and Predators are pimped out with sufficient bling, preferably flame like components, as that attracts girls.
- 22:00: "Afternoon" Firing Rituals: The Salamanders again take to practicing their firing skills, again using flamers and meltaguns instead of bolters. This time, they are more careful, so that they do not cause the civilians more work than necessary.
- 00:00: "Evening" meal: A feast prepared by the Chapter serfs is consumed. The meal usually consists of an ancient Terran fruit called a "Watermelon" and a helping of a flightless, avian animal, fried to a crisp according to a legendary ritual dating back to the Dark Age of Technology. Beverages usually consist of an ancient Terran form of malt liquor called "Old English" or just "Ol' E". On special occasions they may even break out an ancient carbonated drink referred to as "Cristal".
- 01:00: Free time: The Salamanders are given free time from their duties. Some reflect on their duty to the Emperor. Others go and commune with the folks in the Sanctuary Cities on Nocturne, often partaking in an ancient Terran game commonly referred to as "hoops", or compulsively forge new suits of artificer armor.
- 04:00: Lights out: The Salamanders retire for the "evening". Before they go to bed, they shed a manly tear for the Lamenters.
Sometimes even 'Eavy Metal gets it wrong.
Oooh lawdy lawd, is dat sum HERESY?!