- "Discipline. Duty. Unyielding Will. These are the measures by which every warrior is judged. Unarmed, a warrior with these qualities will still find victory, no matter how long or arduous the path. When girded with the sacred armaments of the Adeptus Astartes, such a warrior becomes truly indomitable."
Rogal Dorn was the Primarch of the Imperial Fists Space Marine Legion and one of the greatest heroes in the history of the Imperium of Man. Dorn constructed the defences of the Imperial Palace in the Himalayan Mountains on Terra that would be sorely tested by the Forces of Chaos during the climax of the Horus Heresy in the terrible Battle of Terra. Rogal Dorn allegedly died fighting onboard a Chaos Space Marine starship in the late 31st Millennium, after attacking the 1st Black Crusade's warfleet with a vastly outnumbered Imperial force. Seeing the importance of attacking the enemy fleet while they were still preparing to invade Imperial space, he relied on hit-and-run attacks until his reinforcements could arrive. Dorn was supposedly slain on board the Chaos Despoiler-class Battleship Sword of Sacrilege after leading a desperate attack on its bridge, but in fact the Imperial Fists and their Successor Chapters believe that Dorn is still alive somewhere and may yet return when the Imperium needs him most.
Very little is known about Rogal Dorn's youth. It is believed that he was raised on the frigid Ice World of Inwit in the Inwit Cluster star system by a tribal ice-caste native to the ice-hives of the world. The patriarch of the clan that raised Dorn became an adoptive grandfather to him, and taught him much of tactics, strategy, and diplomacy. Even after he discovered he was not blood-related to his "grandfather," Dorn held his memory in high value; he kept a fur-edged robe that had belonged to the man and slept with it on his bed every night. Eventually, Rogal Dorn became the leader not only of his clan but of the whole world and then the surrounding region of space, ruling the Inwit Cluster as the first Emperor of the House of Dorn.
The Coming of the Emperor
Forty standard years after his grandfather's death, the outlying Imperial starships of the Great Crusade finally reached the Ice Hives of Inwit. Dorn greeted the Emperor at the helm of the enormous starship constructed during the Dark Age of Technology called the Phalanx that he had discovered within Inwit's region of space. Dorn became the seventh of the twenty Primarchs who had been found by their father. The Emperor welcomed Dorn as his long-lost son, and returned the Phalanx to his care, transforming it into the mobile fortress-monastery of the VII Space Marine Legion that was also turned over by the Emperor to Dorn to lead, since all of its Astartes had been created using Dorn's own genetic template.
Dorn himself was fiercely loyal to the Emperor from the first moment that they met on the bridge of the Phalanx, and he never once sought any favour from his father. Dorn embodied the human quest for truth, and could never tell a lie, even if it would have aided his cause. Because of this quality, Dorn's statue stands as one of only four ever erected on Macragge, next to that of Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines.
Dorn commanded the VII Legion and Expeditionary Fleets with peerless devotion and military genius. It was said that he possessed one of the finest military minds amongst the Primarchs, ordered and disciplined but still inclined to flashes of zeal and inspiration. His record of achievements for the Imperium during the Great Crusade were innumerable, and indeed the Warmaster Horus said that he esteemed Dorn and the Imperial Fists so highly that he reckoned if the Fists, noted masters of defence, were to hold a fortress against he and his Luna Wolves, noted masters of assault, the resultant conflict would spiral into a never-ending stalemate.
Triumph of Ullanor
The greatest of the nascent Imperium's victories during the Great Crusade came in the form of the defeat of the largest Ork empire ever encountered in the late 30th Millennium. The Ullanor Crusade was a vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk. The capital world of this Greenskin stellar empire, and the site of the final assault by the Space Marine Legions, lay in the central Ullanor System of the galaxy's Ullanor Sector. The Crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel. The Ullanor Crusade marked the high point of the Great Crusade's vast effort to reunite the scattered colony worlds of humanity.
The Orks of Ullanor represented the largest concentration of Greenskins ever defeated by the military forces of the Imperium of Man before the Third War for Armageddon began during the late 41st Millennium. Following the defeat of the Orks of Ullanor, the Emperor of Mankind returned to Terra to begin work on his vast project to open up the Eldar Webway for Mankind's use. In his place to command the vast forces of the Great Crusade he left Horus. In the aftermath of this Ullanor Crusade, Horus was granted the newly-created title of "Warmaster," the commander-in-chief of all the Emperor’s armies who possessed command authority over all of the other Primarchs and every Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade.
Jealousies and Rivalries
Following his promotion to Warmaster, Horus had solicited the opinions and advice of all his brother Primarchs on the subject since the honour had been bestowed upon him. Being named Warmaster set him abruptly apart from them, and raised him up above his brothers, and there had been some stifled objections and discontent, especially from those Primarchs who felt the title should have been theirs. The Primarchs were as prone to sibling rivalry and petty competition as any group of brothers. Guided by the shrewd political hand, it was likely, of his Equerry Maloghurst, Horus had courted his brothers, stilling fears, calming doubts, reaffirming pacts and generally securing their cooperation. He wanted none to feel slighted, or overlooked. He wanted none to think they were no longer listened to. Some, like Sanguinius, Lorgar and Fulgrim, had acclaimed Horus' election from the outset. Others, like Angron and Perturabo, had raged biliously at the new order, and it had taken masterful diplomacy on the Warmaster's part to placate their choler and jealousy. A few, like Leman Russ and Lion El'Jonson, had been cynically resolved, unsurprised by the turn of events.
But others, like Roboute Guilliman, Jaghatai Khan and Dorn had simply taken it in their stride, accepting the Emperor’s decree as the right and obvious choice. Horus had ever been the brightest, the first and the favourite. They did not doubt his fitness for the role, for none of the Primarchs had ever matched Horus’ achievements, nor the intimacy of his bond with the Emperor. It was to these solid, resolved brothers that Horus turned in particular for counsel. Dorn and Guilliman both embodied the staunchest and most dedicated Imperial qualities, commanding their Legions' expeditions with peerless devotion and military genius. Horus desired their approval as a young man might seek the quiescence of older, more accomplished brothers.
Following his promotion, Primarch Dorn had come to the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet at Horus' behest, so that the two of them might discuss in detail the obligations and remit of the role of Warmaster. Rogal Dorn possessed perhaps the finest military mind of all the Primarchs. It was as ordered and disciplined as Roboute Guilliman's, as courageous as the Lion’s, yet still supple enough to allow for the flash of inspiration, the flash of battle zeal that had won the likes of Leman Russ and the Khan so many victory wreaths. Dorn's record in the Crusade was second only to Horus', but he was resolute where Horus was flamboyant, reserved where Horus was charismatic, and that was why Horus had been the obvious choice for the position of Imperial Warmaster. In keeping with his patient, stony character, Dorn's Legion had become renowned for siegecraft and defensive strategies. The Warmaster had once joked that where he could storm a fortress like no other, Rogal Dorn could hold it. "If I ever laid assault to a bastion possessed by you," Horus had quipped at a recent banquet, "then the war would last for all eternity, the best in attack matched by the best in defence." The Imperial Fists were an immovable object to the Luna Wolves’ unstoppable force.
Fortifying the Imperial Palace
When the Emperor returned to Terra to build a capital world worthy of ruling a million planets, Dorn went as well, commanded by the Emperor to return to the Imperial homeworld and establish a guard around Him there. The Imperial Fists Legion had been chosen as the Emperor's Praetorians. Having always excelled in the construction of fortresses, Dorn was tasked with designing the defences for the Imperial Palace. These would prove to be magnificent, and would be well-tested in the following years as the storm of the Horus Heresy broke over the Imperium. The Primarch Fulgrim once asked if Rogal Dorn thought the Imperial Palace could withstand an assault by the Iron Warriors Legion. Dorn's truthful answer, that it could, infuriated the Iron Warriors' Primarch Perturabo to such a degree that they would almost destroy each other in battle years later during the Heresy. Dorn and the entire Imperial Fists Legion were later recalled to Terra by the Emperor to take up garrison duty there near the end of the Great Crusade. Once the Horus Heresy began, this garrison duty would transform into responsibility for preparing the defences of Terra and the Imperial Palace for the coming invasion of Horus and his Traitor Legions.
Before the Imperial Fists could arrive at Terra in full complement, the events of the Horus Heresy overtook them. Stranded for some considerable time by severe Warp storms, the Imperial Fists fleet eventually discovered the badly damaged Loyalist Death Guard frigate Eisenstein, and so learned of Horus' betrayal. However, at first Dorn did not believe Captain Nathaniel Garro and nearly killed him when Garro said that his Brother-Primarch Horus was a traitor to the Imperium and the Emperor. Rogal Dorn was eventually convinced by several members of the Eisenstein survivors of the Istvaan III Massacre, notably Captain Garro, Iacton Qruze of the Luna Wolves and Remembrancer (later Imperial Saint) Euphrati Keeler, that his brothers the Primarchs Horus, Fulgrim, Mortarion, and Angron were staging a full-scale rebellion against the Emperor's rule. Dorn therefore dispatched the bulk of his Legion to the Istvaan System on a war-footing. He himself returned to Terra with his veteran Space Marine companies to bring word of the terrible events personally to the Emperor of Mankind.
Defence of the Imperial Palace
Dorn was subsequently charged with bolstering the defences of the Imperial Palace even further against the coming storm of the Traitor Marines, and oversaw the construction himself. Dorn constructed great bastions armed with millions of artillery cannons, and added steel plating to the towers and walls of the Palace. He felt he was marring the perfection and beauty of the existing structure in doing so, and regretted it, even though it was necessary. His Legion also struck out to Mars, securing vital weapons, armour and munitions from the Loyalist Adeptus Mechanicus, even as the planet fell to the Chaos-tainted Dark Mechanicum, though the Imperial Fists Space Marine force under Captain Camba-Diez took terrible casualties in the raid to secure the critical supplies. This materiel would later prove essential in holding off the siege of the Imperial Palace by the Traitor Marines.
What forces of his Legion Dorn had taken with him would fight in the Siege of Terra, manning the Palace defences with the Blood Angels Legion. When Horus dropped the shielding on his flagship, Dorn and his most trusted veterans, clad in the few remaining suits of Terminator Armour, would teleport directly into battle with Horus on that ship. Unfortunately, Dorn and his chosen Marines would land farthest from Horus, and had to fight their way across almost the entire length of the battle barge. This meant that they would arrive too late to participate in the battle with Horus himself. Dorn would be the one to find the bodies of the Emperor, the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius and Horus. He was also the one to take notes from the fatally crippled Emperor on how to rebuild the Imperium, and personally carried his shattered father's body to his resting place in the Golden Throne of the Imperial Palace, where he would lie, neither alive nor dead, for the next ten millennia.
After the internment of the Emperor in the Golden Throne, Dorn was stricken with grief. He felt the Emperor's near-demise to be his fault and led his Legion on a crusade of penitence across the Imperium. He was summoned back to Terra when Roboute Guilliman announced the adoption of his Codex Astartes, turning the large Space Marine Legions into the much smaller 1,000-man Space Marine Chapters. Dorn was initially outraged at this proposal, feeling that the Imperium blamed him (and rightly so, he thought) for the fall of his Brother Marines. However, realizing what damage another internal conflict could do to the fragile peace of the Imperium, Dorn finally relented and agreed to the Second Founding. This was a dark period in Rogal Dorn's life; he had both failed the Emperor and his Legion now faltered without the guiding light of the Master of Mankind.
Dorn was shaken to the core, shocked that the Imperium no longer trusted him or his Legion and that now after the loss of the Emperor and the failure of the Great Crusade the brotherhood of the Legion would be sundered as well. Without battle to focus them the Imperial Fists hovered on the brink, unsure of their future, Dorn despairing that he had not seen the Imperium changing while he hunted down the traitors. Dorn, Leman Russ of the Space Wolves and Vulkan of the Salamanders all refused the dictates of the Codex, and the Imperium seemed poised to tear itself apart in civil war again. The Imperial Fists Strike Cruiser The Terrible Angel was even fired upon by the Imperial Navy for the Fists' supposed heresies. It was at this time that the Iron Warriors issued a clear challenge that Dorn could not refuse by building an immense fortress and daring the Imperial Fists to attack it.
Some controversy exists about the next event in Rogal Dorn's life. What is clear is that the Imperial Fists could not be as easily divided into Chapters as, for example, the Ultramarines could. The total commitment to the entire Legion was bred into each Marine and many didn't wish to form their own Successor Chapters. Dorn found the answer to this problem in meditation through self-inflicted pain, using a device known as the Pain Glove. The pain-induced vision revealed that his Legion had to be redeemed in the eyes of the Emperor, and that the way to salvation was through pain and self-sacrifice. Dorn meditated for seven full days in the pain glove until he saw a vision of the Emperor. Realizing that the Emperor was not dead and gone and the He still watched over them from the Golden Throne. Decreeing that the Imperial Fists would all enter the pain glove as a Legion, and emerge as a Chapter, symbolically reborn, Dorn led his die-hard warriors in an assault on the Iron Warriors fortress. The 'collective pain' needed to cleanse the Chapter was decided by Dorn to be the siege of an Iron Warriors' fortress, the Iron Cage. The battle known as the Iron Cage has gone down in history as one of great tragedy and remorse for the Imperial Fists. For not only was it a disaster, it also signaled the end of the Legion.
The battle known only as the Iron Cage has gone down in history as one of great tragedy and remorse for the Imperial Fists. Some however suspect that Dorn knew the outcome when he threw himself and his Legion into the assault. Some believe Dorn knew that many of his zealous warriors would never accept the dissolution of the Legion as the adoption of the Codex Astartes required, and that by throwing themselves into the suicidal assault on the Iron Cage they would at least be granted an honourable death, for that is exactly what many of them got.
The Iron Cage was actually a defensive trap set by the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion on the world of Sebastus IV that was known as the Eternal Fortress and which was a besieging force's nightmare straight from the depths of hell. The Iron Warriors were masters of siege and defence and Perturabo’s writings on the subject had even been retained by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman in the Codex Astartes. But Dorn was Perturabo’s equal, and furious at the defiance of the Traitors, the Imperial Fists launched an all-out assault straight into the heart of the Iron Warriors defenses within the Eternal Fortress, enraged that the enemy had dared raise their heretical banners over another Imperial world. Without any planning or strategy the Fists fought with zeal, endurance, and sheer grit determination, breaking out of every trap, fighting through every ambush and breaching every defense that got in their way. Dorn led the attack, a colossus who threw back every assault. While the battle should have favored the Iron Warriors in their network of trenches and redoubts the Imperial Fists matched the Iron Warriors guile with cold fury. Brother fought brother in half flooded trenches, tearing at each other with knives and chainswords when all ammunition was expended, neither giving nor expecting any quarter.
The Iron Warriors' Daemon Primarch Perturabo had built the massive fortifications to mock the Imperial Fists, and Dorn led his most die-hard followers in a siege that would last for several weeks. The Iron Warriors, now twisted Chaos Space Marines, claim that the Imperial Fists suffered a crushing defeat, and that Dorn and his Legion would have been wiped out if Perturabo hadn't prolonged Dorn's suffering so long that the Ultramarines managed to intervene. Imperial records of the battle indicate otherwise. The Imperial Fists had always been masters of siege craft, and even unprepared and at a disadvantage they fought like lions. Dorn stood as a giant in their midst, his mind clear with purpose after years of doubt and guilt.
Eventually it became obvious that though the Imperial Fists had suffered horrible losses and that the Iron Warriors could not finish them off, lacking the faith to make the ultimate sacrifice to achieve victory. During a pause in the fighting Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines intervened in the struggle, extracting the battered Imperial Fists and letting the Iron Warriors escape. Guilliman had decided that the destruction of the Iron Warriors was not worth the death of Rogal Dorn and so, he had come with the entirety of his Ultramarines to break up the brutal fight and drive the Iron Warriors off.
With their cleansing in the fires of battle at the Iron Cage over the Imperial Fists withdrew into seclusion, letting their successor Chapters take to the field in their stead. For two decades the Imperial Fists re-organized, under the direction of Dorn the Chapter absorbed the tenets of the Codex Astartes and by the time they reappeared on the battlefields of the Imperium their adherence to the Codex was second only to the Ultramarines themselves.
Rogal Dorn is believed to have "died" in 781.M31 whilst fighting a Chaos Fleet during the 1st Black Crusade that had emerged from the Eye of Terror under the command of the returned Abaddon the Despoiler, with a vastly outnumbered Imperial force. Seeing the importance of attacking the enemy fleet while they were still preparing to invade Imperial space, Dorn relied on hit-and-run attacks until his reinforcements could arrive. Dorn "died" onboard the Chaotic Despoiler-class Battleship Sword of Sacrilege after leading a desperate attack on its bridge. The only trace of the missing Primarch uncovered by the Imperial Fists' subsequent searching was a single fist. Dorn's skeletal hand was returned to the Phalanx where, over the years, it has been scrimshawed, the bones intricately engraved with the heraldry of all the Imperial Fists Chapter's previous Chapter Masters. Only the current Imperial Fists Chapter Master has the right to engrave his name upon the bones. Even with minuscule script, ten thousand standard years of history have left the bones covered with names, giving a list of the Imperium's greatest heroes. Each bone corresponds to former commanders of the Chapter. For instance, the left hand first metacarpal contains the names of Chapter Masters Bronwin Abermort, Maximus Thane, Kalman Flodensbog and many others, while the first phalanx of the thumb bears the name Ambrosian Spactor, and so forth. The Hand of Dorn is the Imperial Fists' holiest icon and it serves as a reminder of sacrifice and commitment. So it is that, throughout the Imperial Fists’ history, from the Ork Onslaughts of the 32nd Millennium to the 13th Black Crusade, they have drawn inspiration from their Primarch's remains and resolved to defeat their foes or die in the attempt. Whether the fist actually belongs to Rogal Dorn or his remains lie elsewhere, is unknown. It is even possible that Dorn survived the assault upon the Sword of Sacrilege; whatever his fate, its truth is known only to the Emperor at present.
According to Ian Watson's novel Space Marine, which is now considered an apocryphal tale, Dorn's skeleton, without its hands, is encased in clear amber, which is formed in the shape of the Primarch's body. Dorn's skeletal fists are kept within two shrines on the Phalanx, the bones intricately engraved with the heraldry of all the Imperial Fists Chapter's previous Masters. Only the current Chapter Master has the right to engrave his name upon the bones. Even with minuscule script, ten thousand years of history have left the bones covered with names, giving a list of the Imperium's greatest heroes.
Commonly dressed in Power Armour of burnished copper and gold, Dorn also wore a red velvet cloak and unfurled eagle-wing motif was heavily present on most parts of his gear, most notably on a decorative section of his armour that rose above his shoulders. He had a stern and naturally unsmiling face, topped with an unruly shock of short, bone-white hair.
In the Index Astartes II article "Emperor's Fist - The Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter," Dorn's death is said to have taken place soon after the disappearance of his brother Primarch, Corvus Corax of the Raven Guard. That would mean Rogal Dorn died not long after the Great Scouring began in the early 31st Millennium following the end of the Horus Heresy. Official Imperial records also state that Dorn died leading an Imperial Fists assault on a Chaos Despoiler-class Battleship, the Sword of Sacrilege. As this type of Battleship was not first built until the mid-36th Millennium, this would not be possible, as Rogal Dorn had already been long dead.
- Battlefleet Gothic: Rulebook (RPG), pg. 117
- Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition), pg. 16
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 8, 35, 40, 42, 46-47, 73, 127
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 38-39,
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 54-56, 104
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 113, 127, 143, 188, 226, 247, 249, 252, 254, 260, 322, 334, 338, 341-342, 344-345, 352, 354, 358-360, 364, 366, 369
- Index Astartes II, "Emperor's Fist - The Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter", pp. 15-16
- Horus Heresy Chapterbook (Anthology)
- Space Marine (1st Edition) (Background Book) by Jervis Johnson and Graeme Davis, pg. 23
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pp. 37, 108-109, 112-113
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 253, 256, 260, 264-265, 273, 286, 317
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 286, 290
- Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 50, 155, 384, 389-390
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, "Blood Games" by Dan Abnett, pg. 35
- The Dark King - The Lightning Tower (Audio Book), by Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe, pp. 94, 110, 138
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 10-11, 17, 24, 39, 99-100
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, 'The Last Remembrancer' by John French, pp. 82-87, 89-91, 172
- Space Marine (Novel) by Ian Watson
- Sons of Dorn (Novel) by Chris Roberson
- Legion of the Damned (Novel) by Rob Sanders
|Horus • Leman Russ • Lost Primarchs • Ferrus Manus • Fulgrim • Vulkan • Rogal Dorn • Roboute Guilliman • Magnus the Red • Sanguinius • Lion El'Jonson • Perturabo • Mortarion • Lorgar • Jaghatai Khan • Konrad Curze • Angron • Corvus Corax • Alpharius Omegon|