- "I am vengeance. I am retribution. Fear me, heretic, for I am your death."
- — Dreadnought Brother Zakiel at the Battle of Shadowmarch
A Dreadnought is a cybernetic combat walker of intermediate size used by the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes as heavy infantry support for their Space Marine companies. The most common form of Dreadnought deployed in the late 41st Millennium is officially designated a Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought.
Even the superhuman Space Marines are still mortal and can fall in battle despite legends to the contrary amongst the common people of the Imperium of Man. Dreadnoughts are war incarnate, towering machines that advance forwards with thunderous strides, fiery death roaring from the myriad of heavy weapons mounted on their hulls. They are terrifying foes, fighting with all the skill and ferocity of a Space Marine, but combined with the durability and firepower of a battle tank. Dreadnoughts are often mistaken by mortal observers for huge suits of battle armour or robots; they are similar to both and yet neither. Dreadnoughts are a combination of armoured walker and cybernetic life-support system; their pilots are neurally linked straight into the Dreadnought's cybernetic systems, and are able to use the walker as if it were their own body, although they are permanently entombed within its Ceramite skin until they are destroyed.
When the greatest of the Astartes are crippled in combat the Battle-Brother's body will be repaired and transferred into an armoured cyborganic sarcophagus outfitted with extensive life support systems. This sarcophagus is then interred within the heart of the armoured body of a Dreadnought if there is even a spark of life left. The pilot himself survives only as a tightly curled and shrivelled organic component deep inside the Dreadnought, which is at once his reborn body and his tomb. Sustained and kept alive within the sarcophagus, the link between his physical being and the Dreadnought's systems is absolute and for the remainder of his life. The Space Marine within the sarcophagus will control the robotic body of the walker and experience the outside world through a web of cyborganic neural links and sensors implanted within his life support systems.
The sepulchre that contains a Chapter's Dreadnoughts is a holy shrine, and the Techmarines tend to their charges with great care, fastidiously applying sacred oils and unguents while chanting the Litanies of Preservation. To honour these courageous warriors, the fallen heroes are allowed to sleep away the centuries, until need calls them to war once more.
The Space Marines encased within Dreadnoughts are often thousands of Terran years old. As a result of their great age, many Dreadnoughts, known as Venerable Dreadnoughts, are not only approached by their Battle-Brothers for support in combat, but also as advisors in the governance of their Chapter. The oldest Dreadnought in the Imperium, Bjorn the Fell-Handed of the Space Wolves, was a member of the Primarch Leman Russ' retinue and fought in the Horus Heresy when he was still whole of body, making him well over 10,000 standard Terran years old. When the Dreadnoughts are not in use by their Chapter, they are placed back into the Chapter's Chapel in its fortress-monastery to sleep away the centuries in a form of suspended animation until they are needed once more.
Dreadnoughts have their roots far back in the Dark Age of Technology, and have endured in idiosyncratic forms both on Mars and with the techno-barbaric warlords of Terra as well as scattered human realms throughout the Age of Strife. Some of these individual relics were still in service during the Great Crusade and early years of the Horus Heresy -- although many times re-tenanted over the millennia. Brought together under the banner of the Imperium, many patterns of Dreadnoughts existed and it was in latter-day conjunction with the superhuman physiology of the Space Marines that this technology had reached its zenith. By the 41st Millennium, the art of their construction has long since been lost, the arcane knowledge required passing into ritualised mythology, and each Chapter's Dreadnoughts are treasured relics. They are a living embodiment of the Machine God, representing the ultimate fusion of the biological and the mechanical, as each one contains a living, sentient being. The pilots encased in the shell of a Dreadnought often have memories stretching back for millennia, and these ancient warriors are a tangible link to their Chapter's past and heritage.
In the 41st Millennium there exist few examples of Dreadnought patterns beyond the Castraferrum pattern, with the more advanced Contemptor Pattern Dreadnoughts being an extremely rare sight. Other patterns, such as the Deredeo Pattern Dreadnought and Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought are even rarer, with very few examples known to still exist, only to be removed from a Chapter's armoury during the times of greatest desperation.
Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnoughts
The Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought is the most common pattern of Dreadnought used by the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes in the 41st Millennium. The following section detail all known information on the Castraferrum Dreadnought.
The majority of Dreadnoughts in use by the Adeptus Astartes conform to the pattern known as the Castraferrum, of which the Mars Castraferrum Pattern Mark IV and Mark V are the most common. In appearance, the Castraferrum is very different from other types, very few of which exist outside of the stasis-sealed reliquary chambers of the Adeptus Astartes. It is not as tall as such venerated relics as the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought and its armour is said to be configured far more to the fore than the unhallowed Lucifer Pattern Dreadnought. Some claim that the older Unification classes of proto-Dreadnoughts dating back to the time of the Unification Wars could be piloted by non-Astartes warriors, but the Castraferrum can only be fully controlled by a Space Marine, thanks to his unique physiology and mental conditioning. Ancient and incomplete archival fragments suggest that the Castraferrum Pattern was introduced in order to meet a range of tactical challenges. It is configured for direct assaults, the Ironclad Dreadnought being the ultimate expression of this role. It also excels in Zone Mortalis missions such as starship boarding actions, tunnel fights and combat deep inside densely built hive cities. Here, its lower profile allows the Castraferrum to negotiate low-ceilinged passageways that the taller Contemptor Pattern would be unable to pass along. The true reason, however, that the Castraferrum remains in common use while the Contemptor and other patterns are rarely seen lies with the technology utilised within its many systems. Instead of the ill-understood Atomantic Arc Reactors and Helical Targeting Arrays of the Contemptor Pattern, the Castraferrum uses an adaptable thermic reactor and other such technological systems already found within a wide range of current Adeptus Astartes war machines.
- 1-3 Dreadnoughts
The standard Castraferrum Pattern Mark IV or Mark V Dreadnought carries a heavy ranged weapon on its right arm and the left arm is equipped with a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon. The latter is usually a Dreadnought Power Fist or Power Claw with either a Storm Bolter or Heavy Flamer fitted below the forearm, or in the case of the Mark IV fitted to the side of its main chassis. Though the Dreadnought's Power Fist shares the same name, it is not at all similar to the melee weapons also called Power Fists used by other armed forces of the Imperium. Unrestricted by size or weight, Dreadnought Power Fists are vastly more powerful than ones carried by Imperial infantrymen, even Space Marine Terminators. The Dreadnought's Power Fist is (like the unwieldy infantry-borne Power Fist and Chainfist) strikingly effective against heavy armour. This, combined with the Dreadnought's own impressive unmodified strength makes the fist deadly to all, even heavily armoured foes like a Space Marine Chapter Master. Also, the Dreadnought's heavy vehicle armour means that even those that survive the initial assault can do little more than wait for the inevitable. The ranged weapons used by standard Castraferrum Dreadnoughts include Assault Cannons, Multi-meltas, twin-linked Lascannons, twin-linked Autocannons, twin-linked Heavy Bolters, twin-linked Heavy Flamers, Missile Launchers, or a Plasma Cannon. Castraferrum Dreadnoughts are also able to be outfitted with Extra Armour Plating, a Searchlight and Smoke Launchers.
A standard Mark IV or Mark V Castraferrum Dreadnought is armed and equipped with:
- One Multi-Melta
- One Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with in-built Storm Bolter
- Smoke Launchers
Any Mark IV or Mark V Castraferrum Dreadnought may replace their Multi-Melta with any of these options:
- A second Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with a built-in Storm Bolter (This is not a standard loadout as it removes the Dreadnought's ability to engage targets at range.)
- A Plasma Cannon
- An Assault Cannon
- One set of twin-linked Autocannons
- One set of twin-linked Heavy Bolters
- One set of twin-linked Lascannons
- One set of twin-linked Heavy Flamers
Any Mark IV or Mark V Castraferrum Dreadnought may replace its Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with built-in Storm Bolter with any of these options:
Any Mark IV or Mark V Castraferrum Dreadnought may replace the in-built Storm Bolter from their Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon(s) with any of these options:
- A Heavy Flamer
Castraferrum Dreadnoughts may also have a variety of vehicle equipment such as:
Horus Heresy Era Armament
A standard Legion Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought is armed and equipped with:
- One set of twin-linked Heavy Bolters
- One Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with a built-in twin-linked Bolter
- Smoke Launchers
Any Legion Castraferrum Dreadnought may replace their twin-linked Heavy Bolters with any of these options:
- A second Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with in-built twin-linked]] Bolters
- A Multi-Melta
- A set of twin-linked Missile Launchers (Either Frag or Krak Missiles)
- A Plasma Cannon
- A Flamestorm Cannon
- A Volkite Culverin
- An Assault Cannon
- One set of twin-linked Autocannons
- One set of twin-linked Heavy Bolters
- One set of twin-linked Lascannons
- One set of twin-linked Heavy Flamers
Any Legion Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought may replace its Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with built-in Storm Bolter with any of these options:
- A set of twin-linked Heavy Bolters
- A Dreadnought Chainfist with in-built twin-linked Bolters
- A Siege Wrecker with in-built twin-linked Bolters
- A Volkite Culverin
- A set of twin-linked Missile Launchers (Either Frag or Krak Missiles)
- A twin-linked Autocannon
Any Legion Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought may replace the built-in twin-linked Bolters from their Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon(s) with any of these options:
Castraferrum pattern Dreadnoughts may also have a variety of vehicle equipment such as:
- Extra Armour Plating
- Armoured Ceramite Plating
- Frag Assault Launchers
- Up to two Hunter-Killer Missile Launchers
- A Havoc Missile Launcher
The Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought can be equipped with a wide variety of weapons and equipment other than its standard load-outs. Many times these load-outs have their own designation and are intended for different battlefield roles. All known variants of the Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought are as follows:
- The Assault Dreadnought replaces the standard Dreadnought's ranged weapon with another Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon. These Dreadnought variants are an uncommon sight within many Space Marine Chapters due to the fact that removing the Dreadnought's ranged weapon arm means it forfeits its ability to engage ranged targets. This, when combined with the Dreadnought's relatively low ground speed means the Dreadnought will be very vulnerable to enemy ranged fire. These types of Dreadnoughts are used by Space Marine Chapters that favour Drop Pod assaults, such as the Blood Ravens Chapter, dropping the Dreadnought directly into the enemy's position where they can do the most damage. The term Assault Dreadnought is not a common name, instead most Assault Dreadnoughts have no special designation.
- The Hellfire Dreadnought replaces the standard Dreadnought's Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with a Missile Launcher, trading its close combat ability for long-range, anti-vehicle firepower. The advantage of the Dreadnought's Missile Launcher over its Space Marine equivalent is that it is capable of moving at full speed whilst still laying down a barrage of missiles. Hellfire Dreadnoughts are usually referred to as Fire Support Dreadnoughts, or in many cases are given no special designation. The Hellfire Dreadnought's Missile Launcher carries up to 8 Krak Missiles that are capable of causing severe damage to enemy vehicles, and unlike the Missile Launchers carried by Space Marine infantry, the Dreadnought is fully capable of firing accurately whilst moving. The Hellfire Dreadnought is capable of replacing the twin-linked Autocannon with most Dreadnought ranged weapons, such as a set of twin-linked Lascannons. A sub-variant of the Hellfire Dreadnought, known as the Firewind Dreadnought is armed with a set of twin-linked Heavy Bolters.
- The Siege Dreadnought is designed exclusively for assaults against fortified positions. Some Space Marine Chapters have equipped their armoured Dreadnought Battle-Brothers to siege fortresses and lead their assaults upon other fortified enemy emplacements. They are equipped with either an Inferno Cannon or a Flamestorm Cannon for clearing out enemy infantry from bunkers and an Assault Drill arm for grinding through Ferrocrete in only a matter of seconds. This arm also usually includes a built-in Heavy Flamer so that once a hole has been drilled, the Dreadnought can pour super-heated Promethium into a bunker or pill box complex. Siege Dreadnoughts are specialised units and are only deployed when a Chapter needs to break through a stubborn static defence line or during close quarters street-to-street fighting within a city or town. A Siege Dreadnought's standard weapons loadout includes an Inferno Cannon, an Assault Drill with built-in Heavy Flamer, Smoke Launchers, a Searchlight and reinforced Ceramite Armour. In some cases the Inferno Cannon can be replaced with a Multi-melta, and two Hunter-Killer Missile Launchers can be attached using external sponsons to the Dreadnought's carapace.
- The Ironclad Dreadnought is a standard Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought that has been optimised specifically for close combat. It possesses reinforced Ceramite plating on the front of its shell and can be equipped with multiple different weapons intended to aid in melee combat. Ironclad Dreadnoughts are usually armed with a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon with an under-slung Storm Bolter, Heavy Flamer, or Meltagun, and a Seismic Hammer. These Dreadnoughts can also be armed with a Hurricane Bolter or a Dreadnought Chainfist which is nothing less than a Dreadnought-sized Chainfist. They can also be equipped with up to two Hunter-Killer Missile Launchers and the specialised Ironclad Assault Launcher that fires different types of grenades. These Dreadnoughts are used by many Astartes Chapters for close-combat situations and during sieges, although it is not as effective as the Siege Dreadnought.
- The Mortis Dreadnought is a variant of the standard Imperial Dreadnought and is most commonly found the armouries of the Dark Angels Chapter and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters. The Mortis Pattern differs from all other Dreadnought variants, except for the Hellfire Dreadnought, that makes use of two long-range weapon arms. These Dreadnoughts make use of two sets of long-range weapons that are always the same, these weapons include sets of twin-linked Lascannons, twin-linked Autocannons, twin-linked Heavy Bolters, or two Missile Launchers. The Mortis Dreadnought is capable of laying down a tremendous amount of firepower upon a target, and since the Dreadnought's body is such a stable firing platform it can continue moving while firing accurately.
Chapter-Specific Dreadnought Variants
There are several Castraferrum Dreadnought variants that are used exclusively by certain Chapters, and these Dreadnoughts are used only by these Chapters and any Successor Chapters they may have. The known Chapter-Specific Castraferrum Dreadnought variants are as follows:
- The Furioso Dreadnought is a variant of the standard Castraferrum Dreadnought and is used almost exclusively by the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters. The Furioso Dreadnought replaces the single long-range weapon carried by standard Dreadnoughts with a second Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon. True Furioso Dreadnoughts used by the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters use special Dreadnought weapons known as Bloodfists and Blood Talons. These Dreadnoughts can also be armed with two specialised weapons used only by the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters known as the Magna-Grapple and the Frag Cannon, these weapons make the Furioso Dreadnought more effective in medium-ranged combat. The Furioso Dreadnought has two further specialised variants that are found in use amongst the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters, including the:
- Death Company Dreadnought - Blood Angels Dreadnoughts are not immune to the effects of the Black Rage that plagues the Sons of Sanguinius. When a Blood Angels Dreadnought falls to the Black Rage, it becomes nearly impossible for the Chapter to restrain him, and as such he may rage out of control for days until the Chapter's Techmarines can rig a device to disable him. The Chapter's Sanguinary Priests can then judge whether or not the Dreadnought's Astartes occupant should be sedated until the next battle or relieved of his life so that another may take his place. If the occupant of the Dreadnought is still sane enough to follow direction, he will be moved to the Chapter's Death Company, where his Dreadnought body will be able to withstand tremendous amounts of punishment and his unending rage will result in the deaths of many foes.
- Librarian Dreadnought - When a Blood Angels Librarian is critically wounded in combat, they can also be placed inside of the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. These Dreadnoughts, known as Librarian Dreadnoughts, are outfitted with built-in Psychic Hoods and are equipped with a Force Weapon, usually a Force Halberd, in place of one of the Furioso's Bloodfists. These Dreadnoughts are still capable of unleashing their powerful psyker abilities, and are protected by the Dreadnought's thick hull. Librarian Dreadnoughts are extremely rare amongst the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters, and even rarer amongst the ranks of other Astartes Chapters.
- The Doomglaive Dreadnought is one of the rarest and most advanced Dreadnought variants in Imperial service and is used exclusively by the Grey Knights Chapter, the secret Chapter of Space Marine psykers that serves as the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus. The Doomglaive Dreadnought, like all Grey Knights Astartes, makes use of the Aegis, a complex network of protective prayers, runes and other wards which are inscribed into the chassis of an Doomglaive Dreadnought and psychically charged to provide better protection from the sorcerous powers of daemons and the other servants of Chaos. While an Doomglaive Dreadnought is a fearsome opponent to face on the battlefield, the Doomglaive Dreadnought can provide more than just fire support to his Battle-Brothers, he is also able to support them with enhanced psychic defences. This is possible as a result of the psyber-circuitry that is incorporated into the Doomglaive Dreadnought's sarcophagus and which can link its own Aegis field to the psychic defences deployed by nearby Grey Knights Battle-Brothers, thus creating a series of reinforced psychic wards that is much stronger than what individual Grey Knights can project on their own.
- The Deathwatch Dreadnought is a lethal war machine containing the remains of a venerated Space Marine who had been seconded to the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant or the Ordo Xenos. The rarity of a member of a Kill-team being interred within the Adamantium sarcophagus of one of these towering war engines of destruction is almost unheard of, as such an honour means that this Astartes will remain forevermore in the service of the Long Watch rather than returning to his Chapter. Preserved within his armoured coffin the Space Marine hero is reborn as one of the Old Ones; a living holy relic who will fight on against the xenos nightmares that assail the realms of Mankind for centuries or even millennia to come. Deathwatch Dreadnoughts can be armed with all the same weapons as a standard Castraferrum Dreadnought.
- The Space Wolves' Dreadnought is a variant of the Castraferrum Dreadnought used only by the Space Wolves Chapter. Within each Space Wolves' Dreadnought’s Adamantium shell lie the remains of an honoured hero of the Chapter, broken in body but not in mind. Many of the Space Wolves’ Dreadnoughts contain venerable heroes of legend, warriors who have taken to the field of battle in Russ’ name for thousands of years, their wisdom as deep as the ocean and their intuition as sharp as a kraken’s teeth. Regardless of his history, each warrior entombed in a Dreadnought is determined to wage war against the enemies of the Primarch until Morkai finally claims his due. The Dreadnoughts of the Space Wolves are sometimes armed with strange and fantastical weapons used only by the Wolves of Fenris, such as Helfrost Cannons, Blizzard Shields and Fenrisian Great Axes.
Older Dreadnoughts are referred to by Space Marine Chapters as Venerable Dreadnoughts or more simply as their "Ancients". Having earned many millennia worth of combat experience, Venerable Dreadnoughts are even harder to destroy than their younger counterparts. However, as a trade-off for their knowledge, they are armed with older, more volatile and usually less effective weaponry. Venerable Dreadnoughts often are a drain on their Chapter's resources, for their millenia-old pilot becomes harder and harder to rouse with the passing of time, and their even more ancient chassis are prone to malfunction, with the parts needed to update them no longer available. A sizeable portion of a Master of the Forge's attentions is spent caring for his Chapter's Ancients, with the ever-lurking risk of the Venerable Dreadnought simply not waking again. Yet no Chapter would ever consider granting the Emperor's Peace to its Ancients, for they are the wardens of a Chapter's history and traditions, for only they can still remember first-hand what now only resides in the mouldering tomes of the Chapter's Librarium. Some of these ancient behemoths no longer resemble the current mass production Mars Pattern Mark V Dreadnoughts and are bulky and cumbersome. Others stand towering over their foes like elegantly-crafted statues ready to smite their enemies.
It is now nearly impossible for most Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes to construct new Dreadnought chassis from scratch, as the technology and know-how is no longer available to the Imperium. This is made obvious by the existence of such Chapters as the Iron Hands, who lost the majority of their Dreadnoughts early in the Horus Heresy at the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. Now the Chapter maintains relatively few Dreadnoughts relative to other Astartes formations, since they were unable to replace these losses. As such, Venerable Dreadnoughts are a scarce resource for their Chapters, since any damage they suffer must be replaced by using stockpiles of ancient parts or cannibalising already extant Dreadnought chassis of a similar pattern and make.
One of the more notable examples of a Venerable Dreadnought is the Space Wolves' Bjorn the Fell-Handed. He is the oldest Dreadnought currently in service in the Imperium and was once a member of the Primarch Leman Russ' personal retinue. He fought in the Horus Heresy and served as the Space Wolves' first Great Wolf when he was still whole of body. The most esteemed member of the Space Wolves, Bjorn is the only being the current Great Wolf will listen to and if necessary defer to, and is reverently woken once in each standard century. At that time, all the Space Wolves present, from the Great Wolf to the youngest Blood Claw, raptly and silently gather around the Ancient to hear him speak of their Primarch Leman Russ, and keep the Space Wolves' ancient oral tradition alive.
Oddly, the Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought released by Games Workshop is similar in design to the standard Mark V Dreadnought (save for the Space Wolves tokens and possessing a metal blister instead of plastic), while the "generic" Venerable Dreadnought is an ornately decorated war machine.
Other Dreadnought Patterns
The following is a list of all known Dreadnought patterns other than the Castraferrum Pattern:
The term "Proto-Dreadnought" encompasses the myriad Dreadnought patterns that that have been used by humanity since the Dark Age of Technology. These Dreadnoughts, which were capable of being piloted by unenhanced humans, have endured in many idiosyncratic forms both on Mars and with the techno-barbaric warlords of Terra as well as in the many scattered human realms throughout the Age of Strife. With the coming of the Imperium of Man during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium, these Dreadnoughts have been brought together under the banner of the Emperor of Mankind. There exist many patterns of Dreadnought and it is in latter-day conjunction with the superhuman physiology of the Space Marines that this technology has reached its zenith.
Furibundus Pattern Dreadnought
The Furibundus Pattern Dreadnought was one of the earliest patterns of Dreadnought that was used by the Legiones Astartes. There exists little information on this pattern within current Imperial records. The Furibundus Dreadnought was similar in stature to the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought, with a more rounded and squat chassis and legs.
Lucifer Pattern Dreadnought
The unhallowed and dreaded Lucifer Pattern Dreadnought is one of the oldest patterns of Dreadnought known to current Imperial savants. There exists little information on the Lucifer Pattern, with only vague descriptions implying that the armour configuration of the Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnought is far more to the fore than the Lucifer.
Deredeo Pattern Dreadnought
During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, the Deredeo Pattern Dreadnought was a dedicated heavy support Dreadnought frame, though it shared many core components and systems with the more general assault-based Contemptor Pattern. Initially deployed in limited numbers to each of the Space Marine Legions due to difficulties in its manufacture, its durability and firepower saw demand for the Deredeo Pattern dramatically increase after the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. One of the primary weapon systems the Deredeo could mount was the twin-linked Anvilus Autocannon Battery, a fearsome development of the existing Autocannon pattern that could engage and destroy armoured targets with a punishing salvo of fire. The carapace of the Deredeo could also mount additional weapons and support systems, including twin-linked Heavy Bolters or Heavy Flamers for close-in defence as well as the advanced Aiolos Missile Launcher which, with its sophisticated targetting system, could track targets independently of the primary weapons system and regardless of intervening terrain.
Contemptor Pattern Dreadnoughts
The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought is an ancient Imperial cybernetic combat walker used by the Space Marines in the days of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, 10,000 Terran years before the present day. Like the current patterns of Dreadnoughts now in service, the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought served as a cybernetic sarcophagus for an Astartes who had been so badly wounded in battle that his only chance for continued service to the Emperor lay in being interred within the cybernetic sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought, like much of the technology developed at the dawn of the Imperium of Man, is larger and more powerful than its standard pattern counterparts and was once a key part of the earliest Space Marine Legion forces raised on Terra in the 31st Millennium to initiate the Great Crusade. Such relics are sometimes recovered as archeotech by the Imperium in the 41st Millennium and then used to supplement the forces of the present-day Space Marine Chapters.
The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought was once a staple of the armoured might of the Space Marine Legions first raised on Terra following the end of the Unification Wars. Evidence of their ancient origins exist in the forms of sacred Chapter memento mori and other ancient Imperial monuments raised on worlds such as Necromunda and Lorin Alpha. This suggests that the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought played an integral part in the earliest Astartes forces raised on Terra for the Great Crusade.
A more powerful combat walker than the current patterns of Dreadnought in service with the Adeptus Astartes, the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought featured many technological systems that found a parallel in the combat robots of the ancient Legio Cybernetica, including such fabled techno-arcana as Atomantic Field Generator technology that would later be refined and incorporated into the Storm Shields used by Space Marine Terminators and other now-lost secrets from the Dark Age of Technology that were meshed with the Contemptor's basic systems.
During the height of the Great Crusade, the Contemptor served alongside the standard Mars Pattern Mark IV and Mark V Dreadnoughts as a spearhead unit for the Legiones Astartes. During the Horus Heresy and the wars that followed in its wake like the Great Scouring, they bore the brunt of the fighting by Dreadnoughts in every theater and as a result suffered the heaviest losses. Like so many of the Imperium's most advanced and sophisticated war-fighting technologies, the ability to manufacture and maintain the Contemptor Dreadnought was essentially lost in the chaotic aftermath of the Heresy. The few of these relics that remain in service in the 41st Millennium are incredibly rare pieces of archeotech even in comparison to their fellow Dreadnoughts. But when they take to the field, it is as a living reminder of the Golden Age of the Imperium when the Emperor still walked amongst Mankind, and the foes of humanity tremble at the sight of its ancient glory.
The standard Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought is outfitted with a Twin-linked Heavy Bolter attached to one arm and a massive Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon on the other with a built-in Storm Bolter. Smoke Launchers complete the standard weapons load-out. A Contemptor's standard weapons complement can be replaced with a number of different weapons to suit different tactical needs, including a Multi-melta, a Twin-linked Heavy Flamer, a Twin-linked Autocannon, a Plasma Cannon, a Kheres Pattern Assault Cannon, a Twin-linked Lascannon, a power-leeching Heavy Conversion Beamer, and a Chainfist with a built-in Storm Bolter. A Contemptor can replace its built-in Storm Bolter with a Heavy Flamer, a compact, Dreadnought-sized Plasma Blaster or an ancient Graviton Gun. It can be outfitted with extra Ceramite Armour Plating, a Searchlight, a carapace-mounted Cyclone Missile Launcher and an advanced Targeting Augury cogitator system to increase the accuracy of its ranged weapons arrays. All Contemptor Dreadnoughts are protected by advanced Atomantic Shielding which generates a protective gravitic shield around the walker using an advanced Atomantic power core and which provides greater protection from both ranged and melee attacks for the walker. However, when damaged, the Atomantic power generator can overload and result in a devastating miniature atomic explosion which can badly damage nearby allied units.
Some rare examples of Contemptor Pattern Dreadnoughts have been known to carry strange and singular weapons that find their origins in the Dark Age of Technology such as the Kheres Pattern Assault Cannon, which is considered by some Imperial savants of the techno-arcane to be the forerunner of the Terminators' Assault Cannon, compact Plasma Blasters capable of being fitted to the carapace of a Dreadnought and Gravity Flux Weapons like the Graviton Gun whose secrets were ultimately lost during the civil war between the sects of the Adeptus Mechanicus known as the Schism of Mars at the outset of the Horus Heresy.
The Redemptor Dreadnought is a new pattern of Adeptus Astartes Dreadnought specifically created to serve alongside the Primaris Space Marines. It, like the standard pattern Castraferrum Dreadnought, is intended to provide mortally wounded Primaris Astartes with another chance to continue to serve the Emperor.
Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnoughts
Created in limited numbers in the latter days of the Great Crusade, the Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought was developed in secret on Terra, away from the pervasive oculars of the Mechanicum. Its massive frame incorporates hybridised technologies, some dating back into the dim past of humanity. Towering over later Imperial walker patterns, this heavily armoured dreadnought is savagely powerful. It was designed for siege warfare and primarily armed with close combat and support weaponry that can rend buildings, vehicles and flesh alike; though it is no less effective when armed with the powerful and esoteric short ranged weaponry uniquely developed for it. The Leviathan's oversized reactor allows it to bear weapons more powerful than other classes of dreadnought, and also powers reinforced energy fields that surpass those developed for the Contemptor class. Power has its cost though, and the systems of the Leviathan place a lethal level of strain on the minds its occupants. Those few examples that survive in the armouries of Space Marine Chapters into the 41st Millennium are reserved for the direst of circumstances. Marines who find themselves interred within a Leviathan will pay a heavy toll; either with their life, or their reason.
Legio Custodes Telemon Pattern Heavy Dreadnought
The Telemon Pattern Heavy Dreadnought was a massive Dreadnought variant that was used during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras by the Emperor of Mankind's personal bodyguard, the Legio Custodes. The Telemon Pattern Heavy Dreadnought towers over even a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought, with a bulk comparable to that of the Leviathan Pattern, but in an Artificer-wrought hull. The Telemon Heavy Dreadnought bears a striking resemblance to the Aquilon Terminator Armour worn by the elites of the Custodes.
The following is a list of notable Dreadnoughts in the service of the Imperium:
- Aega - Aega is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Ultramarines Chapter.
- Ancient Aeneas - Aeneas is a former Grand Master of the Grey Knights Chapter. Aeneas led the Chapter for 55 standard years during the 37th Millennium, until being mortally wounded in combat against Ahriman the Arch-Sorcerer, and interred within an Aegis Dreadnought.
- Agies - Agies is a Hellfire Dreadnought of the Ultramarines Chapter, and a former Captain of the Ultramarines 2nd Company. Agies is interned inside of a Mars Pattern Mark V Dreadnought chassis.
- Brother Agnathio - Agnathio is a Dreadnought of the Ultramarines 2nd Company and was interred within Dreadnought armour in 141.M36 after the Fall of Chundrabad.
- Brother Amiel - Brother Amiel is a Mortis Dreadnought of the Angels of Absolution Chapter. Brother Amiel fought against the Forces of Chaos during the Siege of Vraks.
- Venerable Astramael - Venerable Astramael is a Furioso Pattern Venerable Dreadnought of the Blood Angels Chapter. Astramael personally led all 41 of the Chapter's Dreadnoughts in the defence of Baal during the Battle of Iron, which marked the end of the invasion of Baal by the Ork WAAAGH! of the Warboss Big Skorcha in 789.M41.
- Autolochus - Autolochus is a Dreadnought of the Iron Snakes Chapter.
- Bannus - Bannus was a high-ranking member of the Iron Hands Chapter. Having since become entombed in the armoured chassis of a Venerable Dreadnought, he has become a Clan Leader of Clan Company Kaargul and has a place on the Chapter's Clan Council.
- Barkus - Barkus was a Venerable Dreadnought of the Ultramarines Chapter. Barkus sacrificed himself during the Ork invasion of Espandor in the late 41st Millennium so that the rest of the Ultramarines forces could safely retreat.
- Bjorn the Fell-Handed - Bjorn the Fell-Handed is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Space Wolves Chapter. Bjorn is the oldest living Space Marine still in the service of the Imperium of Man, having fought during both the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, making Bjorn over ten thousand standard years old. Bjorn is only awakened once every thousand Terran years, or when his Chapter has need of his skills and wisdom. He is also awakened at the dawn of each new century to hold court at the Great Feast, where he recounts elements from his own saga to his Battle-Brothers. He represents the Chapter's link to its past, and is revered by the Space Wolves as a hero almost as great as Leman Russ.
- Bray'Arth Ashmantle - Sokhar Bray'Arth Ashmantle, also known simply as Bray'arth Ashmantle, is a Venerable Ironclad Dreadnought of the Salamanders Chapter. Sokhar is the current occupant of the Iron Dragon Ironclad Dreadnought chassis, which is believed by the Salamanders to be the very first Ironclad Dreadnought chassis ever constructed, and that it was made by their Primarch Vulkan himself.
- Daenyathos - Daenyathos of the Soul Drinkers Chapter was a Venerable Mark IV Dreadnought. Before Daenyathos was entombed within the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought he was considered a philosopher-soldier, and he penned the Catechisms Martial, the standard text which inspired all Soul Drinkers. Unfortunately, Daenyathos would become corrupted by Chaos and eventually lead the Soul Drinkers into damnation. Daenyathos was destroyed in the late 41st Millennium by Sarpedon, the final Chapter Master and Chief Librarian of the Soul Drinkers. Sarpedon and the final two survivors of the nearly extinct Soul Drinkers Chapter ultimately disappeared into the Warp after saving the Imperial Fists' massive mobile fortress-monastery Phalanx from a daemonic incursion, dragging the barely living remains of Daenyathos with them.
- Brother Daeres - Brother Daeres is a Siege Dreadnought who is part of the Red Scorpions Chapter's 6th Company. Brother Daeres took part in the fighting during the Siege of Vraks, where his Assault Drill proved to be a valuable asset to the attacking Imperial forces.
- Lord Daggan - Lord Daggan is a former Chapter Master of the Blood Swords Chapter. Chapter Master Daggan fell in combat defending the remains of his Primarch Sanguinius on the Blood Angels' homeworld of Baal during the Scions of Sanguinius Conclave in 999.M41.
- Brother Damos - Damos is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Angels Porphyr Chapter who has served for more than 3,000 standard years. Damos was a former Captain of the Chapter's 9th Company, and under his command the 9th was considered a model of the Devastator doctrine. Unfortunately, during the Scouring of Hume, a surprise air attack on his position at Hill 236 caught Damos out in the open as he moved about the position's bunkers. Enemy Marauder Bombers bombarded his position for several hours. Eventually Damos' body was recovered by the Chapter after the battle but was declared shattered beyond the skill of the Chapter's Apothecaries to repair. Damos' body was placed in stasis and transferred to the Chapter's fortress-monastery where it was laid to rest in the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.
- Davian Thule - Davian Thule is the former Captain of the Blood Ravens' 4th Company. Thule was mortally wounded while fighting against the Tyranids on the planet of Typhon Primaris and placed in the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. He would later be lauded as a Venerable Dreadnought for his long, dedicated service to his Chapter.
- Deis - Deis is a Hellfire Dreadnought of the Dark Angels Chapter. Deis was mortally wounded during the Third Tranquility Campaign and interred inside of a Mark IV Dreadnought chassis.
- Eiohlem Diocleatius - Eiohlem Diocleatius, also known as the Ravager of the Whites Tithes, is a Furioso Dreadnought of the Lamenters Chapter. Diocleatius earned his title at the Invasion of Sagan during the Badab War.
- Enosh - Enosh is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Blood Angels Chapter. It is known that Enosh is part of the Chapter's Death Company as a Death Company Dreadnought.
- Ephesios - Ephesios is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Minotaurs Chapter.
- Brother Faustus - Brother Faustus is a Furioso Dreadnought of the Blood Angels Chapter. Before being interred into the armoured sarcophagus at the heart of a Dreadnought Faustus was a Veteran Assault Marine.
- Brother Fidelis - Brother Fidelis is a Mark V Aegis Hellfire Dreadnought and former Grey Knights' 5th Brotherhood Captain. Fidelis was mortally wounded in combat with Vexcarnel the Blue, also known as "The Beast of Barac."
- Furor - Furor is a Hellfire Dreadnought of the Ultramarines Chapter.
- Brother Galtus - Brother Galtus is a Siege Dreadnought of the Red Scorpions Chapter.
- Goremann the Elder - Goremann the Elder is a Furioso Pattern Deathwatch Dreadnought of the Crimson Fists Chapter, currently serving with the Deathwatch at Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach.
- Ancient Herulian - Ancient Herulian is a Siege Dreadnought of the Novamarines Chapter. Ancient Herulian fought against the Secessionists during the Badab War.
- Huron-Fal - Huron-Fal was a Contemptor Dreadnought of the Death Guard Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. Huron-Fal did not side with his Legion and his Primarch and was destroyed during the Istvaan III Atrocity.
- Jarold - Jarold is a Dreadnought of the Black Templars Chapter.
- Kallas - Kallas is a Hellfire Dreadnought of the Dark Hands Chapter. Kallas was one of two Dark Hands Dreadnoughts that supported the 1st Company during the Chinchare Hrud Infestation. Kallas is interred inside of a Mark IV Dreadnought combat chassis.
- Brother Kargat - Brother Kargat is a Mortis Pattern Dreadnought of the Red Scorpions Chapter who was destroyed while taking part in the Bale Raid during the Badab War.
- Kleitor - Kleitor was the former Captain of the Astral Claws' 5th Company prior to his internment into a Mark IV Dreadnought chassis. It is unknown if Kleitor survived the Badab War, when his Chapter turned against the Imperium.
- Kraai - Kraai is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Raven Guard Chapter, who has served his brethren for over 4,000 standard years.
- Laskho - Laskho is a Hellfire Dreadnought of the Executioners Chapter who fought during the Badab War. Laskho is contained within a Mark V Dreadnought combat chassis.
- Brother Malach - Brother Malach is a Mortis Dreadnought of the Angels of Absolution Chapter's 6th Company.
- Ancient Marcellus - Ancient Marcellus was a Deredo Class Dreadnought who served in the Ultramarines Legion's Heavy Support Echelon, 117th Company. A former Consul-Centurion with three decades service and numerous citations for valour, Captain Marcellus fell at the First Portresh Compliance when recidivist forces unleashed a bio-psionic weapon of forbidden provenance. During the Battle of Calth, Marcellus stood against the traitorous Calaq War Host at Macro-Gamma, his heavy weaponry cutting down scores of Traitors. He was last recorded battling against the wave of summoned warp entities that slaughtered almost the entirety of the Loyalist forces mustered in that region, and while his remains were never located, his name was added to the roll of honour of the many thousands who fell during the Battle of Calth.
- Brother Mordechai - Brother Mordechai is a Mark IV Aegis Dreadnought of the Grey Knights Chapter. Mordechai served as part of Captain Arvann Stern's strike force during the Siege of Vraks.
- Moriar the Chosen - Moriar the Chosen is a Death Company Dreadnought of the Blood Angels Chapter. Once known as Morleo Moriar, a Blood Angels Company Captain, he fell in battle on the planet of Clamorga, yet so great were Morleo's deeds that he was stabilised by the Blood Angel's Sanguinary Priests and placed within the shell of a Furioso Dreadnought. Unfortunately, almost immediately after being awakened, he began to experience the visions of Sanguinius during the Horus Heresy and succumbed to the Black Rage. However, Moriar survived the mental brutality of the curse and now fights alongside the Blood Angels as a Death Company Dreadnought known as Moriar the Chosen. It is rumoured that in his new form, Moriar has been claimed by the Red Thirst and that the Blood Angel armourers have modified his Dreadnought chassis so that he can quench his thirst for blood. Thus, Moriar became the Death Company's only Dreadnought -- an almost unstoppable force in battle.
- Murderfang the Curseborn - The metal-skinned monster of the Curseborn Prophecy must once have had a name, for it resembles a Space Wolves Dreadnought. Yet the identity of the once-noble hero within its sarcophagus is long lost, consumed by the bestial thing that now leers from its facade. Named Murderfang by the Space Wolves, it is a force of complete destruction. In times of great need, the beast-machine is released from its glacial prison deep within The Fang and set upon the enemy, clawing and stomping and biting until nothing is left but ruin.
- Nalr - Nalr is a Chaplain Dreadnought of the Red Scorpions Chapter, who fought alongside his Chapter during the Siege of Vraks.
- Orias - Orias is a former Grand Master of the secret Grey Knights Chapter. Orias fell in combat battling the Daemon Prince Herperitus. While he was being treated by the Chapter's Chief Apothecary, the entire Chapter assembled to await his death with all ten of the Grey Knight's Brother-Captains watching over him until his soul would join with the Emperor. Orias' shattered body remained unmoving for three days and nights and it appeared as if he had died, but in the end the Grand Master simply gave a single nod of his head. The Brother-Captains debated and ultimately agreed that Orias had signalled his permission to be placed within an Aegis Dreadnought with his remaining strength. The simple nod was consent for his continued service, which led to him being placed in a sarcophagus upon which the ritual of internment in an Aegis Dreadnought chassis began.
- Pawel - Pawel is a Mark IV Venerable Dreadnought of the Red Scorpions Chapter who fought alongside his Chapter during the Siege of Vraks.
- Rhodomanus - Rhodomanus is a Dreadnought of the Crimson Fists Chapter.
- Ancient Rylanor - Ancient Rylanor was a Contemptor Dreadnought of the Emperor's Children Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. Ancient Rylanor was the Ancient of Rites of the IIIrd Legion, and he held the responsibility of overseeing the progression of new Legion recruits from novice to one of Fulgrim's Chosen, and was also said to be able to perceive a lie the moment it was told. He was normally stationed aboard the Emperor's Children vessel Andronius, where Rylanor maintained the Hall of Rites located there. Rylanor was wounded in combat against the Eldar several decades before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, yet still fulfilled his duties as the Ancient of Rites. Ancient Rylanor did not side with his Legion and Primarch in their rebellion against the Emperor, and fought against his own Legion during the Istvaan III Atrocity, where it is presumed that he fell in combat.
- Rzasa - Rzasa is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Red Scorpions Chapter.
- Secarssa - Secarssa, also known as the Bow of Ma'dan, was a Venerable Hellfire Dreadnought of the Mantis Warriors Chapter who was destroyed in combat during the Siege of Endymion Prime at the time of the Badab War.
- Brother Severus - Brother Severus is a Dreadnought of the Ultramarines Chapter's elite 1st Company. Severus' list of battle honours over the succeeding three centuries grew too long to be listed, culminating in his eventual return to Corinth during the seven year Corinthian Crusade. Brother Severus also participated in the Damocles Crusade against the Tau Empire, but urgent new orders sent his company back to Macragge to defend it from the advance of Hive Fleet Behemoth. In the aftermath it fell to Captain Fabian's 3rd Company to recapture the northern polar defence fortress on Macragge itself. Tyranid swarms had penetrated the orbital defences and overrun the sprawling complex of laser silos and bastions. Captain Fabian summoned three Dreadnoughts -- brothers Severus, Agrippa and Diocletian -- to assist his troops in clearing the forbidding underground tunnels. It was Severus who led the 3rd Company's advance into Silo 8, and it was Severus who time and again held the line from the Tyranids relentless onslaught. When a fearsome Hive Tyrant thundered into the Ultramarines, it was Severus who charged into the beast. A terrible struggle ensued, though grievously damaged, Severus bought Captian Fabian the time to get through the foul beast's defences, as the Space Marine commander blasted the Hive Tyrant in the head with his Plasma Pistol, killing it. The 3rd Company was saved and went on to cleanse the polar fortress in its entirety. After the battle, Severus was restored and continues to serve with the 3rd Company to this day. Amongst the long list of honorifics he has accumulated, the Battle of Macragge remains the proudest, as he shared in the first ever accredited kill of a Tyranid Hive Tyrant in close combat.
- Sura'kan Foehammer - Sura'kan Foehammer is a Siege Dreadnought of the Salamanders Chapter. He fought against Secessionist forces during the Badab War.
- Sybra - Sybra was a former Venerable Dreadnought in service to the Exorcists Chapter. Sybra heroically sacrificed himself during the Aschen War in order to weaken the Daemon Prince known as the Horned God enough for the Chapter Librarian Malachite to banish the creature back to the Warp.
- Brother Szobczak - Szobczak is an ancient and cantankerous Deathwatch Dreadnought formerly of the Imperial Fists' 5th Company. In the early 35th Millennium, Brother Szobczak was seconded to the Deathwatch at a long-lost Watch Station in the galactic east of the Ultima Segmentum. At the end of his vigil, he petitioned to be allowed another, feeling that his work was far from complete. He was granted his request and completed three more vigils, acting as an infiltrator and sapper, until he was grievously wounded in a campaign supporting the Imperial Guard against an Ork WAAAGH! His wisdom and unique skill-set were deemed too valuable to waste, and so, the Deathwatch honoured him by interring him within the Adamantium sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. Though he can remember his early days with the Imperial Fists and his first Vigils with the Deathwatch, he remembers little to nothing about his time as a Dreadnought. Records at Watch Fortress Erioch mention no Imperial Fists matching his name or description, nor is he listed amongst the Battle-Brothers slumbering in the Watch Fortress's Chamber of Elders where the few Dreadnoughts officially attached to the Deathwatch are kept.
- Tankred - Tankred, born as Raclaw, a member of the Drumkil tribe on the primitive world of Kilhaven, was taken by the Black Templars and selected for initiation into their Chapter, where under the tutelage of Brother Brunner he became known as Gerhart. Gerhart achieved the rank of Sword Brethren within the Black Templars before he was struck down in battle and placed within the chassis of a Dreadnought, later becoming known as Tankred.
- Targas - Targas is a Venerable Dreadnought of the Executioners Chapter.
- Titus - Titus was a Venerable Chaplain Dreadnought of the Howling Griffons Chapter. Titus fought alongside his Chapter during the Badab War where he was destroyed by the forces of the Executioners Chapter. The Howling Griffons found that the Executioners had honoured the Venerable Chaplain Dreadnought's sacrifice by laying the wreck of his sarcophagus in a ring of broken weapons, and placing one of their own shattered standards in the warmachine's lifeless grasp.
- Ancient Tyrennius - Ancient Tyrennius was a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought of the Ultramarines Legion's 8th Chapter. He was born a Terra and was inducted from the Midafrik Hive levies towards the end of the Emperor's campaign to bring Unification to Terra in preparation for the Great Crusade. He served in the earliest decades of the Great Crusade before being appointed to command his Legion's commitment to the First Magellan Expedition. Tyrennius was amongst the few to return from that doomed endeavour, though he had sustained such terrible wounds that only interment within the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought saved him from death. The Calth Configuration was to be Tyrennius' first campaign for over a decade, having been held in stasis for many years. Having been restored to full potency a mere ten hours before the Word Bearers' betrayal, he fought with bitter resolve throughout the Battle of Calth and was instrumental in the defeat of a large Word Bearers force assaulting the gates of Arcology XVk.
- Brother Ultracius - Ultracius is a Dreadnought of the Ultramarines 2nd Company and was interred inside the shell of a Dreadnought after the Pyra Crusades in 453.M39.
- Brother Uphur - Brother Uphur is a Mark IV Aegis Dreadnought and former Grey Knights Justicar. Uphur was the sole survivor of the Kasdeya Incursion, although heavily wounded himself.
- Brother Valafar - Brother Valafar was a Mark IV Aegis Dreadnought and former Captain of the Grey Knights' 7th Brotherhood. Brother Valafar and his Aegis Dreadnought body were destroyed fighting against the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler.
- Brother Voral - Brother Voral was a Siege Dreadnought of the Astral Claws Chapter. He was destroyed while fighting the Loyalist forces during the Invasion of Pireaus in the Badab War.
The following is a list of all known Chaos Dreadnought patterns and variants:
Ferrum Infernus Chaos Dreadnought
Chaos Ferrum Infernus Dreadnoughts are Dreadnoughts that belong to the various Traitor Legion and Renegade Space Marine Chapters and are very similar to their Loyalist counterparts. The body of a mortally wounded but feared member of a Renegade or Traitor Legion warband is placed within a sarcophagus that contains multiple life support technologies and this sarcophagus is then placed within the armoured form of a combat walker that the sarcophagus' inhabitant can control using neural impulses. However, most Chaos Space Marines, unlike their Loyalist counterparts, do not see this fate as an honour but as a destiny to be avoid at all costs. This is because being trapped within the armoured shell of a Dreadnought while suffused with the power of Chaos drives the Chaos Space Marine insane and transforms the resulting Dreadnought into an unstoppable and incredibly blood-thirsty killing machine. As a result, far from being revered for their wisdom or experience like their Imperial counterparts, Chaos Dreadnoughts are shackled securely when not in combat because the crippled Chaos Space Marine within has been driven insane by millennia of being trapped within the cold cybernetic sarcophagus as the power of Chaos warped his mind and spirit. They are used as insane behemoths to trample the enemy and are regarded with caution, as the madman within the Dreadnought can turn his wrath upon his comrades if there are no enemy units within range. It is exactly this unreliability that led Abaddon the Despoiler to call for the creation of the Defiler as a replacement for the Traitor Legions' Dreadnoughts. Chaos Dreadnoughts' weapons are configured in the same way as Imperial Dreadnoughts of the same pattern and variant but have no specific designations. As they are not wise or even reliable by any standard, Chaos Dreadnoughts are usually designated as fire support or frontal close combat assault units rather than elite warriors like their Loyalist Space Marine counterparts. Chaos Dreadnoughts could also once be configured into more powerful versions of their Imperial counterparts by the use of special Marks dedicated to one of the Chaos Gods, imbuing them with unholy sorcerous powers. This practice is now rarely seen amongst the warbands of Astartes that serve the Dark Gods.
Chaos Dreadnoughts are armed similarly to their Loyalist counterparts with potent ranged and close combat weapons. These include Dreadnought Close Combat Weapons such as claws or energy-infused whips and flails, or twin-linked Autocannons, Lascannons and Heavy Bolters. Chaos Dreadnoughts are also sometimes outfitted with a Multi-melta or a Plasma Cannon to provide enhanced armour-piercing abilities. A Chaos Dreadnought's close combat weapons often have a built-in Bolter or Heavy Flamer and one or both arms can be replaced with a Missile Launcher to provide added ranged fire support. Chaos Dreadnoughts often prove erratic or unstable in combat and as a result few Chaos Space Marine warbands will make use of them unless there is little other choice and will prefer to unleash other, more reliable daemon engines upon their foes.
A Sonic Dreadnought is a variant of the Chaos Dreadnought. The Sonic Dreadnought is used almost exclusively by the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion and their many fragmented warbands. The Sonic Dreadnought differs from other Chaos Dreadnoughts in its main armament and various other upgrades. The Sonic Dreadnought is armed with Sonic Weaponry, usually a set of twin-linked Sonic Blasters or a Blastmaster along with a Dreadnought Chainfist. This variant of Chaos Dreadnought is also usually equipped with Dirge Casters and a Doom Siren. During combat the Sonic Dreadnought moves across the battlefield continusously broadcasting discordant howling and screams of ecstasy and madness, rupturing their enemies' sanity or even worse, taking their lives, another glorious experience for the Chaos Dreadnought's pilot in the name of Slaanesh, the Dark Prince of Pleasure.
A Helbrute is a variant of Chaos Dreadnought that is a twisted mockery of the Space Marine Dreadnought he used to be, combining the firepower of a small main battle tank with the mind of a frenzied psychopath. Each Helbrute holds a living Astartes within its plated metal chest -- a Chaos Space Marine driven over the edge of madness by the never-ending cycle of battle that defines the Long War.
A Helbrute is piloted by a warrior who, like his Loyalist Dreadnought counterparts, has suffered extreme bodily damage in combat. The critically injured Astartes is then bound into an amniotic sarcophagus at the walker's heart, connected by cybernetic nervous system implants and a Mind Impulse Unit to the controls of the war machine. However, while Loyalist Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes consider it an honour to serve their Chapter for eternity as a Dreadnought, Chaos Space Marines consider such a fate to be little more than a living death -- a torturous, mocking punishment from the Ruinous Powers. They abhor the thought of such a miserable half-life locked away in a dank and imprisoning cybernetic womb, where they can no longer drink in the sights of battle with their own eyes or feel the kick of a Bolter in the own hands. For Chaos Space Marines, it would be better to die and find final release in the maelstrom of the Warp than to spend eternity locked in a hard, adamantium shell.
As a result, most Helbrutes are completely psychotic, even before the Warp melds the metal of their hated prison with the flesh within. A creeping insanity, mingled with desperation and fury, eats away at them over the long passage of the millennia. Between battles, the sarcophagus containing the Helbrute's pilot is disconnected and dragged clear of its armoured shell to lie inert and seething in the darkness. The Helbruute is chained like a beast when it is not actually fighting, for fear that some residue of the pilot's soul may send it into a berserk rampage. As the ships of a Chaos warfleet approach their prey, the Helbrute's heavy weapons are prepared and loaded, its power scourges and hammer-like fists are daubed with fresh blood and its sarcophagus is installed, The madness of the Chaos Space Marine within burns ever fiercer as he rises from the depths of his dormancy. Once the warfleet's warriors have landed at their target, the Helbrute is unleashed, a lunatic beast of flesh and metal intent upon venting its rage on everything in its path, friend and foe alike.
Chaos Contemptor Pattern DreadnoughtsIn the aftermath of the galaxy-wide conflict known as the Horus Heresy and the subsequent Great Scouring, the Traitor Legions were pursued by the vengeful Imperium and cast into disorder and retreat. They were eventually driven into the shadow of the greatest Warp Storm in the galaxy, known as the Eye of Terror. During their flight from their persecutors, the Traitors lost much of their cherished and sacred wargear or it became corrupted and scavenged. Much of the more advanced techno-arcana was cast aside in favour of arms more readily manufactured and maintained by the hell-spat forges of the Dark Mechanicus. But even during these dark times for the servants of the Ruinous Powers, the rare few Contemptor Pattern Dreadnoughts were always held as a most precious resource by those Chaos Space Marine warbands fortunate enough to possess them. The nightmarish intellects of the warsmiths of the Traitor Legions fashioned daemonic replacements for those technological systems of the Contemptor Dreadnoughts that they no longer possessed the skills or the materiel to replicate.
Unable to maintain the Contemptor's original arcane armaments in exile, the Dark Magos replaced them with occult weapons of diabolical design, forged in blood and suffused by daemonic force, such as the Soul Burner which unleashes explosive blasts of daemonic force that devours the souls of its victims, and the Butcher Cannon, a heavy calibre rotary gun whose shells are bound with daemonic runes of anathema and bloodletting to increase their penetrating power and murderous toll. Another notable piece of forbidden Chaotic technology incorporated within a Chaos Contemptor is the replacement of its standard Atomantic power generator with a Warp-infused Hellfire Reactor that charges its armoured carapace to provide a preternatural resilience and also serves as a hungry vortex for the soul-stuff of those it has killed. Enemy psykers are particularly vulnerable to its relentless hunger. The cost for this boon, however, is the lost of the advanced Atomantic Shielding used by the original Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought.
Though few in number, these ancient relics have changed hands over the millennia many times and carried out countless dark deeds in their wake. Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought chassis have always been preserved for the interment of powerful Chaos Lords, Dark Magos Hereteks and sometimes even worse. As a result of their exalted nature and favour with the Dark Gods the occupants of these Dreadnoughts have avoided the inevitable madness that normally consumes other Chaos Dreadnoughts. These walkers fuse together the power of Mankind's lost technological might with the diabolic forces of the Warp to create killing machines that are more than a match for any fielded by the forces of the Corpse Emperor.
Chaos Contemptor Dreadnoughts are normally dedicated to one of the four major Chaos Gods, which provides the following sorcerous boons in combat:
- Dedication of Khorne: The Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought can be consumed by a Khornate Berserker rage that increases the speed and velocity of its attacks when it engages in close combat.
- Dedication of Slaanesh: The Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought is outfitted with sonic weaponry that mimics the effect and usage of grenades and allows it to often gain the drop on the enemy in ranged combat.
- Dedication of Nurgle: The Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought is afflicted with the decay and pestilence of the Plague Lord and finds itself more resistant to external damage as a result.
- Dedication of Tzeentch: The Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought finds its effectiveness, damage and ability to target the foe with Bolter and Flamer weapons to be dramatically increased as a result of the arcane blessing of the Lord of Change.
Mhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought
First encountered during the Battle of Ithraca amidst the catastrophe on Calth during the opening years of the Horus Heresy, the twisted form of the Mhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought was terrifying in both its aspect and its unearthly power. The first Mhara Gal is believed to have been created from the barely living remains of a Gal Vorbak Dark Brethren and a battle-shattered Contemptor Dreadnought chassis, both recovered from the blood-soaked ground of Istvaan V. Fused together by unholy practices, they were then corrupted by a warp-borne power, giving birth to a new monstrosity -- a living engine of war and hatred. The Word Bearers Mhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought is a fearsome opponent in battle. Wielding a warpfire plasma cannon and tainted power claw, it is formidable both at range and in close combat, its blows slicing through armour and energy fields alike. Its warp-twisted reactor and the daemonic powers gifted to it by dark forces make it all the more deadly, even breaking the bonds of reality around the Mhara Gal to allow it to walk through obstacles as if they were not there at all.
Thousand Sons Osiron Pattern Dreadnought
The Osiron Pattern Dreadnought was a variant of the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought that was used by the Thousand Sons Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. For many solar decades the arts by which the power of an Astartes psyker could be maintained medically within the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought eluded the Thousand Sons and any other Space Marine Legion that tried, with the occupant experiencing a lingering death, madness or malign psychic phenomena. The Osiron Pattern Dreadnought came about as the result of Magnus the Red himself applying his brilliant mind to solve the problem, resulting in the creation of a device known as the Osiron. This device takes the form of a crown of psychometric barrier lattice encasing the occupant's living brain. The Osiron device was difficult to construct and was barely understood by even the most learned psi-arcanists, though this did not stop the Thousand Sons from outfitting it to their Contemptor Pattern Dreadnoughts, with startlingly powerful results. Imperial records indicate that Magnus the Red, before the Council of Nikaea, gave the schematics of the Osiron device to all of the other Space Marine Legions, though it is most likely that most spurned this gift entirely. It is unknown if the Osiron Pattern Dreadnought is still used by the Thousand Sons, or if any other Astartes Legions or their descendants made use of the Osiron.
Notable Chaos Dreadnoughts
- Amurael the Corrupted (Black Legion) - Amurael was the Chaos Champion who led a warband of the Black Legion until he was literally cut in two by a Khornate daemon. His shattered body was kept alive in a life support sarcophagus that was then implanted within a Dreadnought shell.
- Warsmith Berossus (Iron Warriors) - Berrosus was an Iron Warriors Warsmith of the 2nd Grand Battalion. During the Battle of Phall he had the misfortune of bringing ill-favoured news to Perturabo, whose volatile moods had steadily worsened since the slaughters of Istvaan V. He had hoped his position as a Warsmith would keep him from harm, but it was to be a fool's hope, for Perturabo's rages fell on high kings and holy fools alike. On the orders of his Primarch, Berossus was eventually encased within the shell of a Chaos Dreadnought to be tormented across the centuries. Unlike most Chaos Dreadnoughts, Berossus is able to exercise his command because he has not been driven insane by his interment within a Dreadnought's armoured body. By the late 41st Millennium, on the Daemon World of Medrengard, Berrosus and his fellow Warsmith Toramino were angered over Warsmith Honsou's refusal to share the Imperial Fists gene-seed that was stolen from Hydra Cordatus during the 13th Black Crusade, and so declared war against him. The aggressive Berrosus had his Grand Company lay siege to Honsou's citadel, and though losses proved high (one thousand Astartes) he succeeded in breaching the citadel's walls. Facing Honsou in close-combat, Berrosus nearly killed Honsou with a siege drill. Unfortunately, victory was torn from his grasp when Honsou's life was saved by his daemonic life-ward Onyx, who managed to breech Berrosus' Dreadnought carapace. Honsou then reached inside the Dreadnought shell and ripped out its Mind Impulse Unit and pulped Berrosus' head before all to see. Berrosus' warband then defected to the service of Honsou shortly thereafter.
- Ancient Carrow, "The Reaper of Noval V" (Night Lords) - Ancient Carrow was a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought who served in the 17th Company ("Lords of Tempest"). He was known to have favoured a brutal form of ritualised close combat inherited from the shredder-cults of Nostramo. He took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, gleefully reaping a heavy toll upon the Loyalist forces. It is not known if he survived into the modern 41st Millennium.
- Commander Demetrius (Violators) - Demetrius was a Chaos Dreadnought who led a large warband of Chaos Space Marines dedicated to Slaanesh under the banner of the Chaos Lord named Lady Charybdia, the Princess of Slaanesh, on the Daemon World of Torvendis.
- Eduhkar of the Annunake (Word Bearers) - During the Great Crusade, Eduhkar was widely lauded in Imperial battlegroup records for his heroism during the Sarapis Compliance against the monstrous Fra'al. As a result of irreparable wounds taken in the battles there, he was interred into a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought frame. He willingly followed his Primarch into their descent into heresy and the worship of the Ruinous Powers. In the aftermath of the massacre on Istvaan V, Eduhkar's flame-scorched sarcophagus was found amongst the foothills of the Urgall Mountains, on the edge of the fighting where a small force of Salamanders had attempted to break through the encircling Traitors. His broken Dreadnought body was still locked in his final struggle with the ruins of a Salamanders Dreadnought, identified only by the legend "Dragon of Saraphis".
- Ancient Lhorgath (Death Guard) - Ancient Lhorgath was once the commander of the 14th Chapter, 2nd Great Company of the Death Guard Legion, a rank he reluctantly set aside upon being mortally wounded battling the Fane-Kings of Narbasi during an Imperial Compliance action. At the Istvaan V Drop Site Massacre, Ancient Lhorgath led his Dreadnought Talon in a fearsome counter-charge into the midst of the Salamanders Legion in the battle's bloody final hour; it is claimed Lhorgath was struck down by Vulkan himself in the desperate fighting. Lhorgath's Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought chassis was an exemplar of the prototypes of the type delivered to the Death Guard Legion's armouries which were subjected to numerous repairs and modifications by the Legion's Artificers.
- Magog the Damned (World Eaters) - Magog the Damned is a Chaos Dreadnought of the World Eaters Traitor Legion. Magog took part in the Battle of Ironholm during the 12th Black Crusade (Gothic War) of Abaddon the Despoiler.
- Captain Malcharion (Night Lords) - Malcharion was once the Captain of the Night Lords' 10th Company and was known to his fellow Astartes as the War-Sage. Malcharion sustained serious injuries and was entombed within a Dreadnought sarcophagus. He was awakened from his sleep by Talos the Soul Hunter to aid the 10th Company (now known as the warband of The Exalted) in a plot hatched by Abaddon the Despoiler of the Black Legion. Malcharion was later knocked back into hibernation while in combat with Raguel the Sufferer. Yet Raguel proved unable to slay Malcharion, and was ultimately killed by Talos. Malcharion could have still been brought back, but Talos ordered his fellow Night Lords to let him remain in dreamless hibernation as a boon, for he had done his duty. One of the Terminator veterans ordered Malcharion preserved, and he was reawakened months later to advise and participate in fending off the Eldar strike on Tsagualsa. Malcharion outlived the majority of his fellow Night Lords and all the Eldar ground forces, but suffered enough damage to vital parts that he would return to sleep shortly after the battle, as he wished to do.
- Mortis Metalikus (Crimson Slaughter) - Mortis Metalikus is the name given to a Helbrute of the Crimson Slaughter warband of Chaos Space Marines. Formerly known as Sevarion Kranon, he was the birth brother of Sevastus Kranon, the Chapter Master of the Crimson Sabres. Refusing to give into the bloodthirst that possessed his fellow Battle-Brothers during the massacre of Umidia, Sevarion was imprisoned by his brother for his disobedience. However the curse his entire Chapter came under from Khorne eventually drove this once noble soul completely mad during his confinement. Eventually, Sevarion was imprisoned within the cold cybernetic shell of a Helbrute. He is now consumed by murderous rage and grotesquely corrupted by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
- Ancient Reeve, "The Heedless" (Night Lords) - Ancient Reeve was once a Talon-master of the 8th Company of the Night Lords Legion, which at the time of the Drop Site Masscre on Istvaan V was known as the "Circle of Inclemency". Known originally as Klemen, he fell in battle against Eldar raiders, but through sheer bloody-mindedness survived even though his entire central nervous system had been disassembled before his very eyes. Having been interred within the armoured sarcophagus of a Contemptor Dreadnought, Reeve disavowed his command rank and devoted himself solely to the glory of battle. It is not known if he survived into the modern 41st Millennium.
- Ancient Sarancos (Emperor's Children) - Sarancos was a former champion of the 9th Millennial of the IIIrd Legion before being interred within the adamantium shell of a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought. Sarancos was a part of Lord Commander Eidolon's Traitor command, and he is thought to have survived the Istvaan III Atrocity, although he became mentally unstable owing to a combination of battle damage and trauma.
- Ancient Skorrvall "Bitterblood" (Death Guard) - Skorrvall was the commander of the Death Guard's 7th Dreadnought Talon. Skorrvall was a native of Barbarus from that world's intake into the Death Guard Legion and was known as a darkly-tempered warrior and a survivor against the odds. Rising to the honoured rank of Standard Bearer of the 19th Chapter of the Death Guard Legion's 1st Great Company, he was mortally wounded in battle with the Eldar at Neverlight and interred in a Dreadnought frame. Fighting with the Traitors in Mortarion's Vanguard at Istvaan III, he killed indiscriminately during the "Veil of Grief" incident and was badly damaged by cannon-fire but survived to later take part in the Drop Site Massacre at Istvaan V. It is not known if he survived beyond the tragic events of the Horus Heresy.
- Styvath the Berzerker (World Eaters) - Styvath was a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought of the World Eaters Legion who was barely controllable and subject to indiscriminate and savage bouts of rage thanks to the unpredictable interaction between his psycho-surgical implants and the Dreadnought's cybernetic control systems. Styvath was kept in a deep coma between battles. At Istvaan III he was unleashed by Drop Pod and rampaged across the battlefield, caring not who he killed. Beyond the tragic events of the Horus Hereys, it is not known if he survived into the late 41st Millennium.
- The Warmonger (Word Bearers) - The Warmonger was originally a Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers Legion named Sor Talgron who commanded the 34th Grand Company of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. Talgron fought with his Legion during the Battle of Terra and laid siege to the Imperial Palace at the climax of the Horus Heresy, where he suffered the wounds that crippled him and required his interment within the armoured shell of a Chaos Dreadnought. As a result of the formidable willpower he developed as a Dark Apostle, The Warmonger also managed to retain at least a portion of his sanity following his internment within his Dreadnought's shell, but during combat he sometimes forgot where and when he was and began to relive moments from the siege of the Imperial Palace. The Warmonger was slain during the Battle of Boros Prime when he successfully killed the Necron Lord known as The Undying One, though the explosion following the Necron's death also finished off the already-wounded Dreadnought. The Warmonger's shell next housed the broken form of the daemonically-possessed Word Bearer named Burias Drak'Shal.
The following is a list of xenos combat walkers that are the equivilent to Imperial and Chaos Dreadnoughts:
OrksThe Orks also have noticed the usefulness of Dreadnoughts in battle, particularly their "shooty" and "stompy" aspects. Orkish Dreadnoughts, or "Deff Dreds" as they are called, are a crude parody of their Imperial namesake. Ork Dreds are armed with massive numbers of claws and guns. Due to the fact that Ork Meks have less understanding of technology than the Adeptus Mechanicus, most Orkish Dreds are simply robotic-controlled war machines with an array of buttons and levers to be used by the Gretchin pilot rather than the pilot being cybernetically interfaced with the machine. Smaller variants of Ork Dreds, named Killa Kanz, also exist. These cousins of the Deff Dreds are often fielded in squadrons of 3 and are just as devastating in combat as their larger cousins, except they have less armour. This is due to the nature of the Killa Kan's pilot who, being merely a Gretchin, still retains a healthy fear of being shot at.
EldarThe Eldar also use large robotic walkers in combat called Wraithlords that are their equivalent of Space Marine Dreadnoughts. A Wraithlord contains no living warrior; rather, it is merely a robotic shell, a repository for the animating soul of a dead Eldar hero. Wraithlords are graceful but mighty giants that dwarf their Wraithguard cousins. These massive constructs are extremely precious to their Eldar Craftworlds and have a supernatural toughness due to being made from the psychically-active substance called Wraithbone. Summoned into being by the necromantic processes and sorcery of the Eldar Spiritseers, only a true hero of the Eldar race has psychic power enough to animate the gigantic wraithbone shell of a Wraithlord.
An Eldar soul is drawn from the Infinity Circuit of a Craftworld and resides within the wraithbone construct until such time as its power begins to fade and it can no longer function or it is destroyed. The Eldar Wraithlords stand significantly taller than a man, carry an array of weaponry and are a terrifying sight on the battlefield. Wraithlords have incredible strength in any case, but also sometimes carry a wraithsword for close-combat.
If the animating soul within the Wraithlord specialized in close infantry assault when it was alive, it will seek to tear apart its enemies with great energized fists or cleave several apart with a swing from its massive sword, known as a Wraithblade. If the animating Eldar soul specialized in combat support during life, the ghostly warrior's energy core will instead be rerouted to power a devastating array of heavy weaponry such as a shuriken cannon. Either way, a single Wraithlord can turn the tide of battle for the Eldar; the legends of the fallen heroes within the construct continuing to grow even after death.
As with Space Marine Power Armour there are different "Marks" (iterative versions) of Dreadnoughts. The most common version is the Mark V, a design that has been used since the introduction of the 2nd Edition of Warhammer 40,000 in 1993. Made of plastic, this is a generic model which can be used by any Space Marine Chapter. The right arm can either be armed with an Assault Cannon or twin-linked Lascannon, while the left side can either be a Powerfist (with either a Storm Bolter or Heavy Flamer underneath) or Missile Launcher, allowing the player to build either a standard or fire-support (Hellfire) Dreadnought. Chapter-specific Dreadnoughts such as the Blood Angels' Furioso and the Dark Angels' Mortis also exist; these use the standard Mark V design.
There are also metal models for Venerable Dreadnoughts. The "generic" Venerable Dreadnought is an ornately-decorated war machine armed with an Assault Cannon and Powerfist. Interestingly, the Space Wolves' Venerable Dreadnought is similar in design to the standard Mark V Dreadnought, save for the Space Wolves badges and iconography and the unique Lightning Claw/Heavy Flamer on the left side. The Space Wolves also possess standard shells for their Venerable Dreadnoughts.
Forge World makes a (resin) Mark IV model. The style of the Mark IV is close to that of the Epic scale Dreadnought when first released - it predates the current 25mm scale design.
Metal Mark V Dreadnoughts were released for Epic 40,000 and were carried over for the succeeding Epic: Armageddon game. There is some variation in the sarcophagi design, and the Missile Launcher consisted of eight "tubes" instead of the cells of the Warhammer 40,000 scale. Weapons include the Twin-Lascannon, Assault Cannon, and Multi-melta for the right arm, and Powerfist, Lightning Claw, and Missile Launcher for the left side. Dreadnoughts had a unique blend of firepower and assault strength, making them useful for defending objectives. However, their slow speed otherwise proved a major hindrance on the vast Epic battlefield, though the introduction of transports able to carry Dreadnoughts, such as the Thunderhawk Transporter, should compensate for this.
The first Dreadnought models produced were for the Space Marines and Imperial Guard armies. These were the Furibundus, Deredo and Contemptor patterns which each had a different weapons configuration. There were a selection of arms (single or double Bolter, Lascannon or Missile Launcher) which fitted to the body, "wide" or "narrow" which in turn could have either long or short legs.
In Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition, various bipedal, heavily armoured fighting machines belonging to numerous factions of the game were collectively called Dreadnoughts. Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks and the Eldar all fielded a Dreadnought of their own design, generally carrying at least one Heavy Weapon and having armour and survivability characteristics roughly equivalent to a tank (in fact, even under the current rules Dreadnoughts are so heavily armoured they could be classified as medium armour rather than light armour, even when compared to vehicles such as the Chimera and Leman Russ tank). Dreadnoughts were important support units in the game due to their prowess in close combat, being far more capable of defending themselves at close quarters than tanks or other vehicles, while being much harder to damage than infantry. A corresponding disadvantage was their size as tabletop models; this made them highly visible and particularly in the game's early days where large tank models were less common, Dreadnoughts were highly vulnerable to being sighted from long distance and destroyed before they could retaliate.
A cardboard cut-out of an Ork Dreadnought was included in the 2nd Edition boxed introductory game as a stand-in for new players to be able to play all the included introductory scenarios, as the metal Ork Dreadnought model was a fairly expensive purchase at the time of publication. In the 2nd Edition, the four Dreadnought patterns released by Games Workshop were metal models of the Mark V design, distinguished by their weaponry and Chapter-specific banners and decals. They included an Ultramarines Dreadnought with an Assault Cannon and Powerfist/Stormbolter, the Dark Angels Dreadnought with a twin-linked Lascannon and Missile Launcher (now known as the fire-support or Hellfire Dreadnought), the Blood Angels Dreadnought Furioso with a Multi-Melta and Powerfist/Stormbolter, and the Space Wolves' Bjorn the Fell-Handed Venerable Dreadnought with an Assault Cannon and Lightning Claw/Heavy Flamer. Bjorn the Fell-Handed is unique as he is fielded as a special character and his Space Wolves tokens made him specific to that Chapter. The model is still in release at the present but has since been renamed the Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought since the 3rd Edition and now lacks the banner. The other themed Dreadnoughts can be used by other Chapters.
Following the release of Warhammer 40,000's 3rd Edition, Games Workshop publications generally ceased the generic use of the word "Dreadnought", instead referring only to the types of walkers fielded by the Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and occasionally the Orks by that name. Eldar Dreadnoughts were now known as Wraithlords and the Orks, except for the appropriate army list entries, colloquially referred to their versions simply as Dreds or Killa Kanz, a name also given to smaller Orkish Dreadnought-style vehicles that they fielded. It was also in the 3rd Edition that variant Dreadnoughts such as the fire-support Hellfire, Mortis, and the Furioso were released.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 82-83, 163
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 17, 35, 49
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 14, 29, 74, 85, 89, 94
- Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition), pg. 7
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 56, 87, 97
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 40, 75, 80, 87, 95
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 35
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pp. 18, 35, 41, 44, 47
- Codex: Daemon Hunters (3rd Edition), pp. 19, 32, 42
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 43, 76, 99
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 30, 65, 82
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pp. 35, 54, 71, 88, 94
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition), pp. 47, 51, 57, 71, 87, 103-104, 124, 139, 173, 185, 200, 325-330
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 91, 171
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 65, 119, 137
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 32
- Codex: Space Wolves (7th Edition)
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 48-49, 83, 87
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), pp. 7, 18, 24
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pg. 54
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley, Chapter 21
- Dark Millennium (2nd Edition), pp. 32-33
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 39-40
- Deathwatch: Rising Tempest (RPG), pp. 79, 132
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 110-113, 235-236
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 131-138, 141-142, 191, 215-218
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 164-181
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 23, 28-29, 32, 54, 317
- Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project, pp. 68, 123
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pp. 56-57, 147
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, pp. 87, 128-132, 168
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pp. 4, 52, 73, 94, 97
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid On Kastorel-Novem, pp. 57, 105
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 9, 28, 53, 64-65, 87,111, 122, 134, 158-159, 172-173 , 185, 191
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 26-27, 42, 71, 82, 86, 126, 144-146, 172, 188, 208
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse, pp. 29, 33
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse II, pp. 30, 35, 76
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse (Second Edition), pp. 24-30, 34-35, 107
- Imperial Armour Aeronautica, pg. 38
- Imperial Armour (Update 2006), pg. 11
- Index Astartes I, "Warriors of Old - Space Marine Dreadnoughts" by Graham McNeill, Pete Haines & Andy Chambers
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 6, 57, 76, 79, 99, 115, 134, 165, 170, 174, 177-178, 180-181, 199-200, 205, 228-230, 241, 255, 260-261, 263, 288
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 33, 37, 78-79, 96-97, 119, 133, 153-154, 170, 182, 193-195, 204, 224-226, 252, 256
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 51, 58, 64-65, 75, 93, 113, 145, 171, 187, 194, 197,
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 46, 161, 163
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 47, 83, 155, 214-215, 233, 240, 244-245
- The Horus Heresy - Collected Visions (Background Book), pp. 23, 30, 45, 57-58, 65, 77, 91, 101, 174, 176, 180, 228, 238, 258, 276, 296, 298, 302, 306, 333, 355
- Primaris Space Marines FAQ
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 155-156, 168-169
- Warhammer 40,000: Compendium, "Chapter Approved: Dreadnoughts", pp. 56-64
- Warhammer 40,000: Index Astartes - Dreadnoughts (Digital Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 245-246, 249, 251, 336
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (3rd Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (2nd Edition)
- White Dwarf 331 (UK), "Blood Angels Official Codex: Part II", pg. 19
- White Dwarf 330 (UK), "Blood Angels Official Codex: Part I", pp. 2,12
- White Dwarf 262 (UK), pp. 64-71
- White Dwarf 255 (UK), "Index Astartes: Warriors of Old - Space Marine Dreadnoughts" by Graham McNeill, Pete Haines & Andy Chambers, pp. 12-18
- White Dwarf 146 (UK), "Dreadnoughts!" by Andy Chambers & Rick Priestley, pp. 50-71
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 216, 389, 452, 489-491, 511, 517-520
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pg. 133
- Defenders of Ultramar (Graphic Novel) by Graham McNeill, Kevin Hopgood, and Tony Parker
- Damnation Crusade (Graphic Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Blood and Thunder (Graphic Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Phalanx (Novel) by Ben Counter
- Red Fury (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 121, 244
- Dead Sky, Black Sun (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Daemon World (Novel) by Ben Counter
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Torment (Short Story) by Anthony Reynolds
- Soul Hunter (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Void Stalker (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Masters, Bidding (Short Story) by Matthew Farrer
- The Relic (Short Story) by Jonathan Green - Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), pp. 157-207
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command (Game)
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Game)
- Dawn of War (PC Game)
- Dawn of War - Dark Crusade (PC Game)
- Dawn of War - Soulstorm (PC Game)
- Dawn of War II (PC Game)
- Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (PC Game)
- Dawn of War II - Retribution (PC Game)
- Forge World - Chaos Sonic Dreadnought
- Forge World - Deredo Pattern Dreadnought
- Forge World - Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought
- Forge World - Leviathan Pattern Dreadnought with Siege Claw & Siege Drill
- Forge World - Leviathan Pattern Dreadnought with Storm Cannon & Grav Flux Bombard