A Chaos Terminator is a Chaos Space Marine who wears a suit of Tactical Dreadnought Armour (Terminator Armour) and serves as one of the Traitor Legions' most powerful infantry shock troops. Sundered and cast out from the Imperium of Man, having turned their backs on the Emperor of Mankind, the Chaos Space Marines of the Traitor Legions know that there can be no peace for them, no forgiveness nor absolution. They are wholly committed to the path of damnation that they have trod for 10,000 standard years, for good or ill. These genetically-enhanced super-warriors have all the strengths and skills of their Imperial counterparts, to which are added the power of Chaos and a brutal devotion to their patron Chaos Gods. The armament of the Chaos Space Marines differs little from that of the Loyalist Space Marines. They possess the same primary weapons: Bolter, Bolt Pistol, various heavy weapons, knife, sword or axe; but some also possess thousands of standard years of combat experience, which turn these warriors into nigh-unstoppable killing machines. The Chaos Space Marines also possess the dreaded and rightly feared Terminator Armour first deployed into the hands of the Space Marine Legions at the end of the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium. These highly coveted and rare suits of Power Armour are usually only worn by Veteran Chaos Space Marines or an Aspiring Champion of Chaos. Since the time of the Horus Heresy the Chaos Terminators' brutal reputation as fearsome, unrepentant killers has spread throughout the galaxy.
The development of Terminator Armour, as Tactical Dreadnought Armour eventually became known, was well underway by the time the Horus Heresy erupted in the early centuries of the 31st Millennium. These heavily armoured suits of Power Armour had become widely available by the time the Traitor Warmaster Horus struck. According to fragmented records of the Adeptus Mechanicus, Terminator Armour was originally designed to become the ultimate Space Marine Power Armour, and was originally envisioned to replace the older suits. However, as the Horus Heresy drained the resources of the Imperium, Terminator exo-suits became increasingly rare, for they were exceptionally difficult to create and maintain. In addition, during most battle their bulk became a disadvantage against the lighter power-armoured warriors who easily outmanoeuvred them. These suits were highly sought-after, as Terminator Armour proved adept at bloody short-ranged battles waged in cramped conditions such as boarding actions and ship-to-ship engagements, hive cities and tunnel fighting.
After the Traitor Legions were driven from the realms of Mankind into the Eye of Terror, suits of Terminator Armour became even rarer. As each Legion of Chaos Space Marines fought one another for dominance in the endless internecine struggles for dominance or favour of their patron Chaos Gods, many of their most prized relics and artefacts of technology were lost due to attrition. As the Chaos Space Marines succumbed to powers of the Warp, much of the organisation and structure of their former Astartes Legion or Chapter has disappeared. Therefore, suits of Terminator Armour have become their most prized wargear - carefully maintained and guarded jealously by those fortunate few who have been in possession of these rare examples of advanced technology from a bygone era.
The wargear of Chaos Terminators varies dramatically, including weapons taken as trophies from slain foes, and arcane equipment carefully maintained since the Horus Heresy. Chaos Terminators usually use ranged weapons, typically a combi-weapon of some type, and a Chainaxe, Shock Mace, Power Claw or other powerful close combat weapon. This deadly combination of devastating anti-personnel firepower and clout in close quarters fighting makes a Chaos Terminator a deadly and highly-feared opponent. Some of these Chaos Space Marines carry heavier and more powerful weapons such as the double-barrelled Reaper Autocannon and the terrifying Heavy Flamer to provide supporting fire for their comrades. Other Chaos Terminators enhance their abilities in close combat and wield a pair of Lightning Claws with which to carve up an enemy, or use a Chainfist for cutting through armoured vehicles and starship bulkheads.
A Chaos Space Marine wearing Terminator Armour can move and operate with remarkable freedom and agility considering the sheer mass of the actual armour, which provides as much protection as an armoured tank hull. Chaos Terminators are not the swiftest of troops when it comes to reaching the enemy's battle lines. To counter this, they often employ the use of a Chaos Land Raider as a transport vehicle. Alternatively, they can be teleported into battle, either through the use of ancient arcane technology dating back to the days of the Great Crusade or Chaotic sorcerous power. This allows the Chaos Terminators to arrive in the midst of the foe.
The armour of the Traitor Legions reflect the turbulent times of the Horus Heresy when older marks of Power Armour were used to replace losses, as well as scavenging and cannibalising armour from the battlefields. Often times they feature distinctive studded and riveted plasteel plates rather than the smoother ceramite armour of later designs. Many Chaos Space Marines individualise their armour with crests, horns, skulls and chains. Quite often a Chaos Space Marine's armour will have been changed by long exposure to the Warp -- possibly sprouting spines or bony ridges, become covered in a layer of scales, or flicker with coruscating Warp energy. Competition for new or replacement armour parts is especially fierce when it comes to Terminator Armour.
Chaos Terminators stand in great favour with the leader of their warband. Many of them are Aspiring Champions of Chaos who have left their brethren to elevate themselves in the eyes of the Ruinous Powers. The scarcity of Terminator Armour is such that sometimes an Aspiring Champion can only claim a suit for himself by killing the current wearer through ritual combat or by more devious means.
Chaos Terminators are often employed as the elite personal guard of an esteemed Chaos Champion. Within the Chaos Space Marine warband they are the ones who enforce the will of their leader and are granted the pick of the spoils of victory. They are egotistical, brutish men, who use their physical prowess and the Champion's favour to intimidate other members of the warband.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), p. 40
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition)