- "The left shoulder plate of a suit of Terminator Armour always carries the large solid stone icon known as the Crux Terminatus. This doubles as a tactical symbol and as a revered honour badge. Each Crux is reputed to have bound within its core a tiny fragment of the battle armour worn by the Emperor during his epic duel with Horus the Arch-Traitor ten thousand years ago. The design of this ancient badge can vary considerably, even within a single unit or Chapter. Sergeants' and Officers' Crux tend to be more elaborate and finely detailed than those worn by normal Battle-Brothers, but all are venerated equally. To lose even a single Crux in battle is to betray the Emperor's trust and bring great shame down on the entire Chapter."
- — A treatise on Tactical Dreadnought Armour
Terminators are Space Marine Veterans who have earned the right to wear Tactical Dreadnought Armour, better known as Terminator Armour, and serve as their Chapter's greatest infantry assets, each essentially serving as a walking tank. Tactical Dreadnought Armor combines the technological developments of Power Armour with the sealed environmental suits designed for starship crews that work in highly unstable or corrosive environments such as inside the high pressure casings of plasma reactor shields. It can even withstand the colossal impact of high speed orbital micro debris. Terminators are always members of the elite 1st Company of a Codex Astartes-compliant Space Marine Chapter. All suits of Terminator Armour have built-in teleportation devices which allow them to deploy anywhere via deep strike, although more often they are deployed using Land Raiders. Terminator Squads consist of a Terminator Sergeant and between 4 and 9 Terminators.
All Space Marine Chapters maintain a number of suits of revered Tactical Dreadnought Armour, or Terminator Armour as it is commonly known. Terminator suits are the pinnacle of armoured protection available to a Space Marine. Each is all but impervious to small arms fire and can even withstand the merciless onslaught of anti-tank weaponry or the titanic pressures of teleportation. Terminator Armour, created just before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, is incredibly rare. Space Marines hold it a great honour to be permitted to wear such a suit in battle, and it is only to members of the Chapter's elite 1st Company that this honour is granted. It requires rigorous years of extra training to fight in Terminator Armour. Each warrior so armoured is expected to act as an example to the rest of his brethren by fighting in the most difficult of missions and performing beyond even the lofty standards of the Adeptus Astartes. Once trained in the use of Terminator Armour, a Space Marine is counted first among his brothers and is expected to conduct the most difficult of missions and to perform beyond even the lofty standards of the Adeptus Astartes. Boarding Tyranid-infested Space Hulks, launching teleport attacks, assaulting enemy Titans and spearheading combat actions upon Death Worlds; these are the missions undertaken by Space Marine Terminators. Terminators are truly amongst the greatest heroes of Mankind, bold warriors in whom the indefatigable heroism of a Space Marine is combined with the terrible weaponry and indomitable mass of Tactical Dreadnought Armour. No foe is safe from a Terminator assault, not a horde of Orks, Adamantium fortress or colossal Chaos Titan. Terminators are invincible, they are unstoppable and they never yield. Terminators combine centuries of experience with some of the best armour and weapons in the Imperium. Terminators often spearhead the Space Marines' attacks, blowing apart the enemy at range, before getting in close and crushing them in a final, ruthless assault.
Space Marine Power Armour has a long and glorious history, its origins dating back to the long-forgotten Dark Age of Technology before the Emperor of Mankind's Unification of Terra. Nothing is now known of this time, but it is speculated that suits of powered armour were worn by the techno-barbarians that fought alongside the Emperor as he battled to bring Terra under his rule in the 30th Millennium. Over time, these suits were refined and improved, becoming the earliest incarnations of fully enclosed Power Armour.
The first suits of Space Marine Power Armour were developed from this armour and were said to have been worn by the first Astartes of the early Space Marine Legions as they fought to unite the planets of the Sol System under the Emperor's control. Legend tells that once the Terran system was secure, and the process of rebuilding firmly in hand, the galactic conquest of the Great Crusade began. Faded techno-arcana of the Adeptus Mechanicus tell that even before the Age of Strife had ended, the Emperor had started to make provisions for his Great Crusade to reunify Mankind.
A major portion of the prepartions for the Great Crusade included the re-equipping of the Space Marine Legions with a far more sophisticated suit of Power Armour that Imperial historians have dubbed Mark II "Crusade" or "Crusader" Pattern Power Armour. Alongside these developments, the Emperor initiated a program to develop a a new suit of Power Armour that would provide even greater protection than that offered by the standard marks of Power Armour for Space Marines. Anecdotal evidence of the adaptability and willingness to embrace this new weapon of warfare can be found in the Primarch Horus' vocal backing of the Tactical Dreadnought Armour project that was undertaken by the Mechanicum of Mars, with the result that his XVIth Legion, the Luna Wolves, was one of the first and most widely equipped with the early prototypes of Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour and stood at the forefront of the development of tactics for its use in starship and planetary assaults.
The standard suit of Crusader Pattern Power Armour provided excellent protection against small arms fire but not against heavier weapons, while the massive cybernetic Astartes combat walkers known as Dreadnoughts were unable to operate in certain environments, such as dense urban landscapes and heavily forested terrain, due to their sheer size and bulk. Some had expected that Tactical Dreadnought Armour could replace Power Armour outright, although it soon became apparent that Space Marines encased within Tactical Dreadnought Armour were at a disadvantage in battle, since the warriors using the armour would be quickly outmaneuvered by more lightly-armoured forces, and because they could not be transported in standard Space Marine armoured vehicles such as Rhinos and Razorbacks. However, Terminator Armour ultimately proved its worth in certain situations. Cramped conditions, like the inside of hive cities, tunnels, and starship corridors showed that in these situations, Terminator Armour's durability outweighed the need for maneuverability.
Tactical Dreadnought Armour, regardless of whether it is of the more common Indomitus or the ancient Cataphractii Pattern, is a complete exo-skeleton constructed from heavy-gauge plasteel plating, covered in thick sheets of plasteel and ceramite. Movement is made possible through the complex synthetic fiber-bundle muscles of the armour, which allow a properly-trained warrior to fight with deadly strength and skill in cramped, close quarter conditions, where this armour excels at providing protection and resiliency. Fully independent power supplies and life-support systems are incorporated into the suit, while various augers and auspex devices grant the wearer a full understanding of the situation he is in. Integrated threat sensors and targeting computers allow a Space Marine to track his target with great accuracy. A squad of warriors in Terminator Armour can be "networked" together to share visual and tactical data, although to limit confusion this is rarely done; networking is used in special circumstances such as combat operations aboard a Space Hulk where the Terminator Squad is often separated among different corridors trying to cordon off a Genestealer attack.
Tactical Dreadnought Armour is incredibly rare -- any given Space Marine Chapter would be lucky to possess a hundred suits, which would be enough to fully equip the Chapter's First Company. New suits of Terminator Armour can be manufactured by the Mechanicum, but although the Adeptus Mechanicus possesses the knowledge and skill, they can only be produced at an extremely slow rate. Newly-formed Space Marine Chapters often have difficulty obtaining large numbers of suits of this armour, especially because older, more prestigious Chapters have greater priority. Each suit of Terminator Armour bears the Crux Terminatus on its left shoulder plate. This is a great honour amongst the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, as each Crux Terminatus symbol is said to have been made using fragments from the Emperor's personal armour worn at the height of the Horus Heresy during his final battle against Horus on the Arch-Traitor's Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit at the climax of the Battle of Terra. Some Space Marines who have earned the right to wear Terminator Armour choose to stay in their regular Space Marine Power Armour, due to its advantages in maneuverability, but they are allowed to wear the Crux Terminatus on their shoulder as an honour badge and a symbol of their place amongst the elite Veterans of the 1st Company.
Terminator Assault Squad
Terminator Assault Squads are deployed to crush the enemy in merciless hand-to-hand combats. Instead of ranged armaments, these squads are exclusively equipped with devastating melee weaponry, able to rupture even the thickest of personal armour. These fearsome squads are most often employed in boarding actions or where the fighting is sure to be close and bloody, such as breaching enemy fortifications or combats through urban battle zones. In such environs, there are few foes that can withstand the brutal onslaught of a unit of Assault Terminators, and many wars have been won by the sudden arrival of these deadly fighters.
Terminators are able to carry a variety of weapons into combat. The synthetic fiber-bundle muscles of Tactical Dreadnought Armour allow Astartes to carry much heavier loads than even their mighty physiques can manage and so heavy support weapons can be carried with ease. As their armour enables them to withstand heavy firepower, Terminators often operate in the front lines, closer to the enemy than most Space Marines in Power Armour, and so much of their weaponry is specialised for medium to close range engagements.
The standard armament for a Terminator is the Storm Bolter and Powerfist (sometimes called a Power Glove). The Storm Bolter can lay down twice the firepower of a standard Bolter at medium to close range, while the Powerfist is a good all-round melee weapon with its strength enabling the wearer to kill most types of infantry and damage even armoured vehicles. The Chainfist offers increased effectiveness against even the most heavily armoured tanks, though it is not as good against infantry. The Chainfist is crucial when Terminators are deployed to explore Space Hulks, where it is needed to cut through locked doors and bulkheads. Both the Powerfist and Chainfist suffer from their bulk, which forces them to "strike last" in melee situations, though the squad-leader (commonly a Sergeant) is granted the use of the swifter Power Sword.
Depending on the Space Marine Chapter, up to two members of a Terminator Squad can carry heavy support weapons -- an Assault Cannon, Heavy Flamer, or the Cyclone Missile Launcher -- none of which can be carried by Astartes in standard Power Armour. Assault Cannons have a high rate of fire and excellent infantry and light-vehicle armour penetration at medium to close range; Terminators are the only infantry in the Imperium of Man that are able to carry these weapons. Heavy Flamers can destroy Genestealers and burn out groups of enemy units in a single searing blast before the Terminators charge in. The Cyclone Missile Launcher is unique to Terminators, being the only truly long-range weapon in their arsenal, and it is the only Terminator weapon specifically for open battlefield use (though it cannot be used in Space Hulks or during starship boarding operations); it can unleash a volley of Frag or Krak Missiles for anti-infantry or anti-vehicle use. The weapon is a twin six-cell launcher mounted on top of the Tactical Dreadnought Armour, so the Astartes can also retain the use of the standard Storm Bolter. In addition, a special targeting sensor is built into the armour, thus allowing the user to accurately fire the Cyclone Missiles while simultaneously firing the Storm Bolter.
Assault Terminator Squads are outfitted for all-out close combat ability. The Storm Bolter and Powerfist are given up for either a pair of Lightning Claws or the Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield. Lightning Claws are a form of Powerfist with the matter disruption field focused around long, finger-like blades instead of the glove itself, so these are most effectively used against enemy troops. The Thunder Hammer delivers a powerful blast of gravitic energy when it strikes, which can be used to great effect to stun enemy vehicle crews, and the Storm Shield emits a gravitic energy field which the bearer can use to deflect attacks, making such Terminators more generalised all-round melee combatants. Having no ranged weapons, Terminators with these close combat weapons need to get close to the enemy as fast as possible, so they are usually transported by Land Raiders or teleported directly into the enemy's battle lines.
Notable Terminator Formations
Alpha Legion Lernaean
A designation utilised by the Alpha Legion, again deriven from ancient Terran myth, was the "Lernaean". This cognomen appears to have been given to the XXth Legion's most expert shock assault troops, particularly to dedicated Terminator companies and, in some instances, Legion Breacher Siege Squads and Dreadnoughts. Few knew of the Lernaean Terminator Squads, though not because the Alpha Legion sought to obscure their existence, but rather because they rarely left behind any witnesses of their deeds. Clad in Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour chased with baroque finery and armed with Volkite Chargers, Lernaean Terminators were fearsome close assault and vanguard spearhead units against which few enemies could stand. In particular, battle recordings of certain Lernaean Terminator units mark them as being equipped with advanced teleportation assault capacity and specialised heavy weaponry, such as compact Conversion Beam weapons and phase-field generator gear. The foremost task of the Lernaean was to swiftly isolate and destroy the most powerful enemy frontline troops and any potent battlefield assets a foe possessed, and to do so in such an emphatic and bloody manner that not only was a potential threat to the Alpha Legion's attack eroded, but the psychological shock of their attack would further damage enemy morale. Such was the calculated cruelty and cold brutality employed by the Lernaean Terminators that their reputation quickly spread beyond the Alpha Legion itself.
Death Guard Deathshroud
The Deathshroud were the elite Space Marines of the Death Guard Legion who served as the Primarch Mortarion's mute Honour Guard during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. Great secrecy surrounded this elite cadre. Their numbers were chosen from amongst the ranks of the Death Guard Legion and each member was singled out and personally selected by their Primarch for the bravery and valour they had displayed in combat. Once chosen, the selected Battle-Brother would foreswear his former life as a common rank-and-file Astartes of the XIVth Legion, and would swear binding oaths of secrecy as a new member of the secretive Deathshroud. Each member of the Deathshroud would be listed as killed in action to allay any suspicions as to their true identity, and they would forever conceal their faces behind heavy enclosed helmets, masks or hoods. Each Deathshroud Astartes' identity was known only to their Primarch himself, even after their deaths. The Deathshroud wore Artificer-crafted Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour of the highest quality, which presented a foreboding appearance. Like their Primarch, each member of the Deathshroud wielded a large Power Scythe known as a Manreaper. It was the Deathshroud's sacred duty to never stray more than forty-nine paces from Mortarion. Two Deathshroud guardians customarily escorted the Primarch at any given time, though there may have been more hidden in the shadows. These stoic warriors' presence was quite intimidating as when not in motion they would stand uniformly at attention, still as statues. But in battle they were equally frightening, for whatever the odds, they always moved inexorably towards their target, as unerring as the automated killing machines employed by the Legio Cybernetica. Their fate after the end of the Horus Heresy remains unknown.
Emperor's Children Phoenix Guard
The Phoenix Guard was the elite unit of Space Marines from the Emperor's Children Legion who served as the Primarch Fulgrim's Honour Guard during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. The members of the Phoenix Guard followed their beloved Phoenician wherever he went as part of their duties, even when he was travelling within the relative safety of the starships of the Imperial Army and the vessels of the other Space Marine Legions. During the battle to conquer the Xenos world of Laeran, the Phoenix Guard took part in the final extermination of the serpentine Laer species. The entire unit was slain on the world of Tarsus in the Perdus Region of the galaxy after Fulgrim, already under the influence of Chaos through the Laer Daemonsword he had captured on Laeran, took offence at the Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran's warning about Horus' corruption by Chaos, and proceeded to open fire on the Farseer and his troops from Craftworld Ulthwe. A new Phoenix Guard was then recruited. They accompanied Fulgrim during both his fateful meeting with Horus where he finally embraced Chaos, and in his abortive attempt to recruit Ferrus Manus to the Traitors' cause aboard Ferrus' own flagship, where they successfully slaughtered the Morlocks Terminators who served as Ferrus' own bodyguard unit. While the Phoenix Guard served Fulgrim through the Battle of Terra, it is unknown if the unit still exists and serves as the Daemon Prince's bodyguard on the unknown Daemon World he now calls home.
Iron Hands Morlocks
The Morlocks were the veteran Space Marine Battle-Brothers of the Iron Hands Legion who served as Primarch Ferrus Manus' personal Honour Guard. These elite Veterans of the Iron Hands' 1st Company of the Avernii Clan were so-named for the fearsome visage they presented like the vengeful predators of the same name that howled across the frozen tundras of their Legion homeworld of Medusa. The Morlocks were all members of the Iron Hands' Clan Company Avernii. The Morlocks were the deadliest and most experienced warriors of the Xth Legion, and whatever force was arrayed against these black-coloured Terminators could not hope to survive their wrath. The Morlocks were the bloody tip of the spear that drove hard into the vitals of the Xth Legion's foes. During the Dropsite Massacre of Istvaan V, the Morlock Terminators, led by The Gorgon, formed the centre of the Loyalists' assault as the Primarch of the Xth Legion sought out his fallen brother Fulgrim. When the forces of the Emperor’s Children and the Morlocks came together in a riot of bloodshed and death, the Morlocks' superior armour and experience gave them an advantage over the rank and file Astartes of the Emperor’s Children, but they were greatly outnumbered. While Ferrus Manus and Fulgrim clashed in a final confrontation, the Traitors' revealed their trap as the second wave of the Loyalist assault, composed of the Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors, Night Lords and Word Bearers, revealed their true allegiance to Chaos. Fulgrim's own honour guard, the Phoenix Guard, answered with a terrible war cry and leapt to meet the Morlocks in a searing clash of blades. Surrounded on all sides by Traitors after the second wave had revealed their treachery, in the midst of cries of pain and roaring savage glee, the Morlocks of Ferrus Manus were slain to a man. It is unknown whether the Morlocks were reconstituted by the Iron Hands Chapter after the events of the Horus Heresy.
Iron Warriors Tyrant Siege Terminators
Tyrant Siege Terminator squads were an elite formation utilised exclusively by the Iron Warriors Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras during the 30th and 31st Millennia. The vanguard of any Iron Warriors siege breakers formation, these warriors were clad in thick Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour and armed with deadly carapace-mounted Cyclone Missile Launchers. These implacable warriors were fortress-breakers of unparalleled skill. The bleak spectacle of these warriors wading through storms of lasfire and shell, stoically smashing apart any obstacle before them with Chainfist and krak blast, became synonymous with Primarch Perturabo's wrath unleashed. Recruited from amongst the most battle-hardened Iron Warriors, Tyrant Siege Terminators were expected to brave the most ferocious enemy fire without regard for their own survival -- even more so than others of their grim brotherhood, they understood the mathematics of war and were ever ready to make a sacrifice in blood to secure victory. Most often these veteran warriors were found among the ranks of the Stor-Bezashk, the elite siege masters of the IVth Legion, and deployed to other Grand Battalions as needed to support siege and assault actions. Tyrant Siege Terminators were often at the forefront of the most cataclysmic battles of the Great Crusade.
Night Lords Atramentar
The Atramentar were the elite Terminator-armoured unit of Battle-Brothers from the VIIIth Legion's formidable 1st Company led by the infamous First Captain Sevatar. This elite cadre's numbers were chosen from amongst the standard ranks of the Night Lords Legion from Astartes who had been singled out and personally selected by their Primarch Night Haunter for their ferocity and cruelty. Each member was known by name and reputation within and without the Night Lords Legion. Following the death of the Night Haunter at the hands of the Imperial Assassin M'Shen, the Atramentar scattered with the rest of the Legion and, by the time of the late 41st Millennium, often served as bodyguards to the powerful Chaos Lords who commanded the various Night Lords warbands. The 1st Company had largely dissolved mostly because its Astartes felt that no one could live up the dark reputation of their former First Captain, who died during the epic final battle of the Horus Heresy, the Battle of Terra. The Atramentar served no other leader after Sevatar died; he had made them into what they were, a brotherhood that could not be broken any other way. In the same way, the members of the VIIIth Legion would serve no single Captain after their Primarch died. It was not their way, just as most of the Traitor Legions ultimately fragmented into hundreds of different warbands. Allegiance to Chaos ultimately always bred division and fractious internecine conflict no matter how powerful its worshipers proved to be.
Raven Guard Deliverers & Shadow Wardens
Despite the favour shown to the Tactical Dreadnought Armour project by Horus himself, who acted as patron to the XIXth Legion in the absence of their Primarch, many of the warriors of the then-unnamed Raven Guard Legion were ill-disposed towards the slow and bulky Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour. Some did adopt their use, mainly those Chapters of the XIXth Legion who had long served in the shadow of the Luna Wolves siege and heavy assault companies, becoming adept at close range and shock assaults from both mutual support and teleport deployment. The Legionaries of the XIXth Legion came to refer to these detachments as Deliverers. In the wake of Corvus Corax's return, the Deliverers were rarely called upon by the Primarch. Most were assigned to distant Crusade fleets and those who remained at Corax's side became the avatars of his carefully controlled anger, loosed only when an enemy proved itself worthy only of utter destruction.
When he was their leader during the slave uprisings on Lycaeus, Corax's peers insisted he be watched over by a bodyguard lest the slave overlords or some other rogue element attempt to assassinate him. While he resented this, Corax allowed it, as much for his followers' peace of mind as for his own safety. Having joined his Legion, the bodyguard followed, being formed into an Honour Guard of Terminator-armoured elite formation, known informally as the Shadow Wardens. It was said that they were ever present, though often unseen when their Primarch went to war, and that none could avoid their gaze. Indeed, only one individual was ever able to do so, and that was Corax himself, giving credence to the stories that Corax was able to slip his own shadow should he choose to do so.
Sons of Horus Justaerin
The Justaerin were one of two distinct sub-formations within the elite 1st Company of the Luna Wolves and later the Sons of Horus Legion. Led by the Legion's First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon, the Justaerin were the pride of the XVIth Legion, sporting their signature black armour, which denoted their specialisation in harrowing actions, shock assaults and strategic decapitation strikes. Tasked with forming the "point of the spear" for the XVIth Legion, they went where the fighting was thickest, their attack directed usually at destroying the heart of an opposing target or conducting the decapitation strike of an enemy force. Early proponents of the use of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, many Justaerin entered combat as Terminators, relying on the resilience this gave them to smash aside any resistance and close in for the kill.
Fulentarus Terminator Strike Squads were an elite heavy support formation of Terminators that was utilised exclusively by the Ultramarines Legion during the 30th and 31st Millennium. The Fulmentarus Terminator Strike Squads could be seen as one of the many examples of the genius of the XIIIth Legion's Primarch Roboute Guilliman. Having observed his brother Primarch Perturabo, the master of the Iron Warriors Legion, field his Tyrant Siege Terminator squads in battle, Guilliman judged the tactic worthy of refinement. He immediately ordered the creation of a number of similar units in his own Legion so that he might study and improve upon Perturabo's innovation, proving himself once again the master of all of the myriad disciplines of war. The warriors of the Fulmentarus are equipped with Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour, enhanced to carry an array of targeting systems that make it possible for each to combine their fire in a highly coordinated fashion. When combined with a heavy weapons system such as a Reaper Autocannon, or the Cyclone Missile Launcher first uitilised by the Tyrant Siege Terminators, these sensors make the Fulmentarus a fearsome heavy assault unit and one that, were it not for the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, might one day have entered service across the Legiones Astartes.
Thousand Sons Sekhmet
The specialist unit known as the Scarab Occult were also sometimes called the Sekhmet or Magnus' Veterans. They were made up of the best and brightest of the the Thousand Sons Legion and equipped with crimson-coloured Tactical Dreadnought Armour. The Sekhmet were active throughout the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. The Scarab Occult were all members of the elite 1st Fellowship, under the command of 1st Fellowship Captain Ahzek Ahriman. These proud and extremely devoted warriors were both combat Veterans and highly-ranked members of the psychic mastery cult system of the Thousand Sons. None of the Sekhmet were below the Cult grade of Philosophus, the final Cult rank a warrior could hold before facing the Dominus Liminus. Each warrior was able to mentally transcend their physical and emotional weaknesses; achieving a form of emotional purity that resulted in warriors who were both fearless and willing to follow orders immediately and unquestioningly. This extraordinary level of discipline was commented on by some of the other Primarchs who witnessed the Sekhmet in action during the Great Crusade. The Great Khan of the White Scars Legion, Jaghatai Khan, commented that they were no better than automata, whilst, in a similar vein, Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands Legion likened them to robots, though some within the Thousand Sons suspected that knowing the Iron Hands' affinity for technology, this comment may have been meant as a form of compliment. Leman Russ, the Great Wolf of the Space Wolves Legion, showed disdain for what he perceived as the Sekhmet's perceived "lack" of fighting spirit and espirit d'corps due to their taciturn natures. The Sekhmet's status following the Thousand Sons Legion's transformation into a Chaotic Traitor Legion devoted to Tzeentch and the enactment of the Rubric of Ahriman is unknown.
White Scars Keshig
The Keshig were the personal Honour Guard of Primarch Jaghatai Khan and his subordinate commanders of the White Scars Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. The Keshig were an elite cadre of warriors made up of the most veteran and skilled Legionaries to be found in the Vth Legion who all served as the Legion's elite Terminators. The Keshig was once described as "a whole phalanx of giants in bone-white Terminator plate.
World Eaters Devourers & Red Butchers
The Devourers were the premier cadre within the World Eaters Legion that served as a dedicated bodyguard unit for their Primarch Angron during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy eras of the late 30th and early 31st Millenniums. In battle the Devourers fought encased in Terminator Armour and carried the most savage weapons the XIIth Legion possessed. This warrior band had only twelve members, and access to its ranks was only attained by defeating another Devourer in single combat to the death or, should one of its number fall in battle against an enemy, a successor was selected by a contest open to all of the Astartes in the World Eaters Legion, only one of whom would survive. Once considered a great honour, over time a position within this cadre was barely acknowledged by the Primarch, as the neural implants known as the Butcher's Nails slowly ravaged Angron's mind, eroded his mental stability and slowly damaged his capacity to reason. Over a standard century after Angron's return to his Legion, by the time of the Horus Heresy, the Devourers constantly lurked behind their lord, their Primarch hardly sparing them a glance. To be one of Angron’s bodyguards was no longer considered an honour within the XIIth Legion, despite how fiercely the World Eaters’ champions had fought for it in those first, optimistic years. Angron ignored them no matter where they went, never once fighting alongside them in battle. Armoured in their bulky Terminator battle-plate, they never managed to keep up with their liege lord, and they were as prone to losing control to their own Butcher's Nails cortical implants as any other World Eater, meaning any hope of them fighting as an organised unit was a forlorn hope at best. These warriors, who had spent an entire standard century learning to swallow their pride, pretended that they were not actually ignored by the Primarch they were supposed to protect.
The Red Butchers were a specialised shock-assault unit of the World Eaters Legion during the Horus Heresy. These ferocious warriors were the precursor of the Khornate Berserkers of the later Age of the Imperium. The psycho-sugery inflicted upon the Red Butchers by the so-called Butcher's Nails cybernetic implants hammered into their skulls and the awakening taint within the World Eaters Legion combined to create a superhuman killing machine without reason or restraint. The Red Butchers were controlled only through the use of brutal shock implants and the prison of their specially constructed Terminator Armour into which they had been fused by the XIIth Legion's Techmarines. In between battles the Red Butchers were hung in chains in the holds of the World Eaters' warships, foaming and screaming in impotent rage, until such time that they were released once again against the Loyalist forces of the Imperium or upon the innocent.
Post-Heresy Terminator Formations
Dark Angles Deathwing
The Deathwing is the elite 1st Company of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. While most other Chapters allow their 1st Company squads to take to the field in a variety of configurations as befits the tactical situation, the entire 1st Company of the Dark Angels Chapter consists of dedicated squads of Terminator Armour-clad veterans. This specialty formation is also found amongst those Space Marine Chapters who are Successors of the original Ist Legion, which are collectively known as the Unforgiven. The Deathwing's mission takes precedence over all others, even though they may be called upon to fight a wide range of foes. Members of the Deathwing are indoctrinated into the outermost tiers of the Unforgiven's Inner Circle, and party to the some of the terrible secrets surrounding the existence and nature of the Fallen. Some members of the Deathwing may know the identity of those they fight, while others are unaware they were once loyal Dark Angels, but all members of the Dark Angels 1st Company, and indeed the 1st Company of every Unforgiven Chapter, know that the Fallen are the vilest of heretics and must be persecuted above all others.
The Firedrakes are those elite Astartes of the Salamanders Space Marine Chapter's 1st Company, chosen not simply for their martial skill, but also because of their mental resilience, discipline and self-sacrifice. Created during the Great Crusade by their Primarch Vulkan, the Firedrakes were so-named for the greatest of the salamander saurids said to originate beneath the stones of Mount Deathfire. They were the finest and most experienced warriors of the XVIIIth Legion. To be afforded this exalted status, mere skill-at-arms was not enough alone, and the warrior would have to have been proven of faultless bravery and just as importantly, faultless self-control. Amongst these, the greatest formed the Pyre Guard; the Primarch's own loyal retainers. The Firedrakes were present during the tragic Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, where the Salamanders Legion, alongside the Raven Guard and the Iron Hands, were all but annihilated. Through their tenacity, sheer determination and extraordinary valour, some of these elite warriors managed to survive the slaughter committed against them by the Traitor Legions. These surviving Firedrake Legionaries would live to fight on for the remainder of the Horus Heresy, and help to hunt down the remnants of the Traitor Legions following their defeat after the Battle of Terra during the subsequent Great Scouring. Following the sundering of the Space Marine Legions into smaller autonomous units known as Chapters, and the subsequent Second Founding, the Firedrakes also managed to survive, for Vulkan made certain that their legacy was maintained.
Space Wolves Wolf Guard
The Wolf Guard are the most elite Veterans of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter, comparable to a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter's Sternguard Veterans. They are the bravest warriors of each of the Chapter's Great Companies, hand-selected by their Great Company's Wolf Lord to serve as his chosen protectors and the vanguard of his forces. Within the Space Wolves Chapter, battlefield promotion is extremely common, for Wolf Lords are men of conviction and instinct. There is no specific criteria for elevation to the ranks of the Wolf Guard. The surest way is to save the life of a Wolf Lord in the heat of battle. Each Battle-Brother that serves in this elite unit has earned their place by some exceptional feat of arms that marked them out amongst their brethren, for a Wolf Guard is chosen based on his heroic deeds, rather than his age or time served with the Chapter. Therefore, the Wolf Guard maintains a mix of hot-blooded young warriors and stalwart veterans amongst its ranks. It is the sacred duty of the Wolf Guard to be the sword and shield of their lord. These chosen brethren are favoured by their Wolf Lord with the best weapons he has at his disposal -- antique weapons of immense potency and ornate artefacts of ancient origin. Few can stand before these heroic warriors, equipped as they are with the best wargear in the company’s Armoury, making them virtually unstoppable in close combat. Each Wolf Guard is expected to fight in the style at which he excels, for their lord cares little for their former roles in their former Packs. Few can turn down the lure and raw power afforded by a rare and powerful suit of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, and so a Wolf Lord is often accompanied into battle by a brotherhood of hulking, nigh-indestructible champions, each ready to dispense his own particular brand of death and, if necessary, give their life for their lord.
A Deathwatch 1st Company Veteran is one of the most heroic, brave and trusted Battle-Brothers in the entirety of the Deathwatch, having proved his mettle in hundreds of conflicts from squad-level raids to full-blown Imperial Crusades. Entrusted with many precious mysteries hidden from other Battle-Brothers, and holy artefacts of incomparable value, these Veteran warriors bear the honour of the Deathwatch before all others, guiding their junior Battle-Brothers in times of doubt and confusion. 1st Company Veterans found in the ranks of the Deathwatch are expert warriors who have come to perform their Vigil and have brought their considerable prowess to the service of the Long Watch. More rarely, when a Space Marine wins such renown within the Deathwatch that he is accorded the rank and privileges of a 1st Company Veteran in recognition for his zeal and purity during his Vigil. When the Battle-Brother returns to his Chapter, it is rare for his Chapter Master not to acknowledge this honour, inducting him into the 1st Company, or that Chapter's equivalent, at the first opportunity. Chapter legends are littered with examples of a handful of 1st Company Veterans expunging a stain on the Chapter's honour despite the risks, or selflessly sacrificing themselves in the cause of victory. Most importantly, only 1st Company Veterans can take on the role of serving as Terminators.
Grey Knights Terminators
Grey Knights Terminators are superlative warrior whose status as an elite amongst the elite forms the heart of the Grey Knights Space Marine Chapter's forces. A Grey Knights Terminator's primary armament is a Nemesis Force Weapon of some kind, selected from the Chapter's Armoury according to the skills and preferences of its wielder. As there is no doctrinal restriction on the types and numbers of weapons carried, it is rare for two Terminator Squads to bear exactly the same weapons combination -- the Grey Knights have always favoured brutal efficiency over organisational mandate. Some prefer the crushing force of a Nemesis Daemon Hammer, others the flurry of attacks granted by a matched pair of Nemesis Falchions. Complementing this fearsome close quarter armament, each Terminator will also carry a Storm Bolter, typically mounted upon his left vambrace, thus leaving his left hand free for a double-handed grip on his Force Weapon, or to access the supply of grenades belted at his waist. Terminator Squads rarely operate a standard line of battle, for it seems that the Grey Knights are always outnumbered by their daemonic foes. Thus, they must concentrate their attacks, picking their targets individually for full effect. As a result, Terminators often choose to teleport straight into the heart of battle, the better to catch the foe unaware in a storm of firepower and vengeful blades. Indeed, sometimes the only warning that an enemy will receive is the momentary flash of light and stink of ozone that precedes a teleport beam -- by which time it is far, far too late.
Because of the rarity of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, only the members of the elite 1st Company of a Chapter may wear them though Force Commanders, Chaplains and Librarians may also equip such armour. These Space Marines are the best of the best, each one a hero in his own right. They must be deployed in carefully-planned situations where the armour's inherent toughness and destructive weapons can be unleashed to wreak havoc upon the enemy.
Squads of Terminators are most often employed during spacecraft boarding actions, and although the Terminators' armaments can be modified for longer-range combats, it is brutal assault for which Terminator Armour was made. Because of their bulk and slow speed, various methods have been developed to make the greatest use of these warriors. Primary amongst these is to deploy the Terminators straight into the thick of battle via teleportation through the Warp. Although inaccurate and potentially dangerous, it is often the best way to ensure that Terminators get into combat quickly. Nonetheless, teleportation is an ancient, barely understood technology that involves close contact with the Warp, and many Space Marine Chapters rightly distrust it.
Chapters can also deploy Terminator Squads via Land Raiders (5 Terminators or one squad), Land Raider Crusaders (8 Terminators), Drop Pods (each carrying 1 Terminator), and Thunderhawk gunships (up to 15 Terminators or 3 squads). Due to their bulk, Terminators are not transported in standard Astartes vehicles such as Rhinos, or Razorbacks. However, Inquisitors wearing Terminator Armour can be transported in Chimera transports, albeit they will take up a lot of space in the vehicle.
A standard Terminator Squad consists of a Veteran Sergeant and up to nine Veteran Brother-Marines. The Sergeant is normally equipped with a Power Sword and Storm Bolter, the Brother-Marines with Power Fists and Storm Bolters. The squad also has access to Chainfists, Assault Cannons, Heavy Flamers and Cyclone Missile Launchers.
Terminator Assault Squad
A Terminator Assault Squad consists of Terminators whose armament is oriented towards close combat. To maximise their effectiveness, they swap their standard armament of Storm Bolters and Power Fists for a pair of Lightning Claws, or a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield. They often battle in close quarters, such as during starship boarding actions or in the lower levels of a hive city.
Terminators were first introduced to the Warhammer 40,000 universe during the late 1980's, via the miniature boardgame Space Hulk. The Terminators were pitted against Genestealers aboard a Space Hulk. The cover art for the 1st and 2nd editions of the game displayed Blood Angels Terminators; a Dark Angels Deathwing Terminator was shown in the expansion pack. Deathwing Terminators also featured in the cover art for the earlier game Tyranid Attack, where they were shown battling Tyranid Warriors and Termagants, but the game miniatures themselves were Space Marine Scouts.
Popular demand eventually caused Games Workshop to provide Terminators for the main Warhammer 40,000 tabletop war game, and a set of rules was published in White Dwarf Magazine 109. Although the potency of a Terminator Squad has been toned down since then, they are still considered a formidable part of any Space Marine army. At the time, the shoulder armour of the Terminators was bulkier and there were checkerboard patterns on its Storm Bolters and Assault Cannons.
The Terminator model was revamped during the mid-1990's and again in 2004, but the current design is still very similar to the previous one. Releases during the 2nd Edition of Warhammer 40,000 included a generic (Ultramarines or Blood Angels) plastic box set of a 5-man Terminator Squad, consisting of three Terminators with the regular Storm Bolter and Powerfists, one with a Heavy Flamer and a Powerfist, and the Sergeant with Storm Bolter and Powersword. There was also the Dark Angels Deathwing metal box set (replaced one Powerglove with a Chainfist, also had Deathwing ornaments), and the Space Wolves Wolf Guard metal box set (replaced two Powergloves with Chainfists, replaced one Storm Bolter with Assault Cannon, also had Wolf Guard ornaments). There were also metal blister packs for individual Terminators as well, not only for specialised weapons (Lightning Claw, Thunder Hammer, Cyclone Missile Launcher, Chainfist, Assault Cannon) or Chapter-themed weapons (Deathwing, Wolf Guard), but also for generic Terminators (duplicating the plastic models).
In the 3rd through 5th Editions of Warhammer 40,000, Terminators have been released as five-man plastic boxed sets which are not specific to any Chapter, with some minor changes from the previous version. There is either the standard squad (containing extra parts for the Assault Cannon, Cyclone Missile Launcher, Heavy Flamer, and Chainfist) or assault squad (contains enough parts to equip Terminators with either all claws or all hammer/shield). Deathwing and Wolf Guard Terminators are no longer sold in most stores though they are still available from the online store. However, the Dark Angels Veterans box set and the Black Templars Upgrade pack both contain plastic replacement parts for Terminators to make them Chapter-specific. Forgeworld also sells a line of Conversion Sets (usually just a set of resin shoulder plates, but sometimes entire torsos) for several different Chapters.
Terminators also appear in Relic's line of real time strategy games for the PC, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, as heavy assault infantry. There are two variations, standard and Assault Terminators, and they are acquired through the 3rd tier of the Stronghold, after placing an Orbital Relay on the field. They are then purchased at the Chapel Barracks and delivered via teleport at any point on the map the player can see.
In the sequel, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, several suits of ancient Terminator armor belonging to the Chapter can be recovered by the player during the single player campaign, whereupon some or all members of the small strike force can equip it, and accordingly be armed with Terminator-specific wargear. In the multiplayer game, Terminators are a top-tier Space Marine super heavy infantry unit that requires heavy expenditure of all types of resources to field (including Global Resource), but are extremely deadly and difficult to kill, able to mow down enemy infantry at range, or effectively destroy any type of opponent in melee. They are called in by the Space Marine player's HQ unit, and deployed to the battlefield directly through Deep Strike. Choosing a Force Commander as the army's leader also grants access to the Terminator Assault squad, that exclusively uses melee weapons. The Force Commander HQ character himself can also choose to upgrade to Terminator armor, improving his resilience and changing his available wargear options.
Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour
Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour was originally a prototype for the later patterns of Terminator Armour that was first used by the Space Marine Legions and the warriors of the Legio Custodes throughout the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. Whilst similar in many respects to the standard Indomitus Pattern Terminator Armour used by the Adeptus Astartes of the late 41st Millennium, it was set apart by a number of features such as the large, layered pauldrons, the pteruges protecting the elbow and thigh joints, and a helmet that resembled that used by the Mark III Iron Pattern suit of Power Armour. Although the use of the Cataphractii Pattern was rare before the Horus Heresy, some Legions, such as the Sons of Horus and the Iron Hands, possessed a large number of these suits. The Iron Hands Legion passed on these suits to their Successor Chapters during the Second Founding.
The current design, which Games Workshop introduced in the mid-1990's. This older pattern of Terminator Armour usually sported a Storm Bolter in one hand and a Power Axe in the other, and the lower half of the helm was concealed by a wedge akin to an upside-down cowcatcher that afforded greater protection to the neck area. Many deviations in the design of this armour were seen, such as that worn by some Thousand Sons Space Marines, and the Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour worn by the Legio Custodes, the latter possessing armour more akin to the modern Terminator variant in that they wielded a Power Fist and a Storm Bolter whose barrels were aligned vertically instead of horizontally. Custodes Terminator Armour also bore lightning bolt designs and were primarily coloured gold.
Dark Angels Deathwing Army
In the 3rd Edition and 4th Edition of Warhammer 40,000, the Dark Angels are unique amongst the Space Marine Chapters as they can field an all-Terminator army. The entire army is composed of Terminators and Dreadnoughts, with Land Raiders and Land Raider Crusaders being used for transport. As well, the army also has access to standard characters such as the Chaplain, Force Commander, and Librarian. This is because the army is drawn from the ranks of the Deathwing Company of the Dark Angels and is unique among Marine Chapter First Companies in that the Deathwing is an all-Terminator company. Other first/veteran companies typically have a mix of Terminators and Marines in Power Armour.
The Deathwing is also unique among Terminator Squads in that they are able to field mixed squads containing both support weapons and assault weapons. For instance, a squad may contain three Lightning Claw-armed Terminators and two armed with Assault Cannons. Other Chapters' Terminator Squads are either assault (all Lightning Claws and Thunder Hammers/Storm Shields) or tactical (Storm Bolters, Power Fists/Chainfists, and two support weapons).
Previously, in the 3rd Edition, Deathwing armies had to forgo the other options of the Chapter such as Scout and Ravenwing squads. With the new, stand-alone 4th Edition Dark Angels Codex, Deathwing armies are allowed to include more than just Land Raiders, Terminators and Dreadnoughts. With the correct troops one can even make a mixed army, with one half as Deathwing and the other half as Ravenwing.
Dreadnoughts somewhat makeup for the lack of variety in ranged weaponry, while Land Raiders and their Crusader variants fill the transport gap (though they are expensive). Though the new version of the Deathwing Company is more flexible than in its previous edition, it is still just as challenging as before. This is mostly due to the army being made up of slow, heavily armoured troops. The size of the army can also be frustrating for some, as Deathwing armies are usually half the size of another army of the same point cost.
- Terminator Armour (multiple patterns available)
- Storm Bolter
- Power Fist
- Power Sword (Terminator Sergeant only)
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Chainfist (as replacement for Power Fist)
- Assault Cannon (as replacement for Storm Bolter, only one Terminator in five in a squad may take this heavy weapon)
- Heavy Flamer (as replacement for Storm Bolter, only one Terminator in five in a squad may take this heavy weapon)
- Cyclone Missile Launcher (as replacement for Storm Bolter, only one Terminator in five in a squad may take this heavy weapon)
- Terminator Armour (multiple patterns available)
- 2 Lightning Claws
- Choice of Close Combat Weapon (Power Fist, Power Sword, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield, Lightning Claws or Chainfist) (as replacement for Lightning Claws)
- Chapter Approved 2001: Second Book of the Astronomican, "Crux Terminatus" & "Cult Terminators", pp. 55, 58-59
- Citadel Journal 36, "Talons of Death: New Wargear", pp. 64-71
- Citadel Journal 45, "Space Marine Archive: Terminators", pp. 10-15
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), "Chaos Space Marine Terminators" & "Terminator Weapons", pp. 30, 73
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), "Chaos Terminators" & "Armour", p. 28, 86
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), "Chaos Terminators", p. 10
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), p. 63
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 90, 172
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), p. 64
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 25, 31
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), p. 8
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), p. 61
- Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pp. 71, 134
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), p. 164
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pp. 70, 196
- Planetstrike (5th Edition), pg. 13
- Index Astartes IV, "Deep Strike - Tactical Dreadnought Armour"
- The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Artbook), pp. 33, 45, 52, 61-62, 65, 67, 78, 111-112, 138, 176, 189, 229, 235, 239-240, 243, 262-263, 274-275, 303, 352, 367
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, by Alan Bligh, pp. 70, 196
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, by Alan Bligh, pg. 49, 53, 57, 61, 75, 77, 102, 123, 144, 228, 232, 249
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination, by Alan Bligh, pp. 70-71, 92, 97, 119, 144, 252, 261
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest, by Alan Bligh, pp. 148, 154
- Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (2nd Edition), pp. 11-18
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), p. 68
- Warhammer 40,000: Index Astartes - Tactical Dreadnought Armour (Digital Edition)
- White Dwarf 305 (UK), "Crux Terminatus"
- White Dwarf 304 (US), "Rise of the Terminators"
- White Dwarf 304 (AUS), "Rise of the Marines: A Brief History of Terminators" and "Deep Strike"
- White Dwarf 303 (US), "Index Astartes: Deep Strike", "Crux Terminatus" & "Rise of the Marinies", pp. 18-23, 24-29, 30-35
- White Dwarf 181 (US), "Space Marine Terminators: Tactical Dreadnought Armour", pp. 37-39
- White Dwarf 161 (US), "Deathwing Terminators", pp. 4-7
- White Dwarf 158 (US), "Return to Kalidus: Campaign for The Wolf Guard, Space Wolf Terminators", pp. 30-35
- White Dwarf 142 (US), "Questions and Answers: Aegis Suit", pp. 12-19
- White Dwarf 134 (US), "Space Crusade: Terminators", pp. 4-11
- White Dwarf 122 (US), "Traitor Terminators: Part 2 - Chaos Terminators", pp. 26-35
- White Dwarf 121 (US), "Traitor Terminators: Part 1 - Chaos Terminators", pp. 27-33
- White Dwarf 117 (US), "Close Assault: Terminator Close Combat Weapons", pp. 65-69
- White Dwarf 115 (US), "Command Units: Space Hulk 1st Ed.", pp. 20-31
- White Dwarf 114 (US), "Grey Knight Terminator Squads" & "Cyclone; Terminator Missile Launcher", pp. 11-15
- White Dwarf 113 (US), "Space Hulk: 1st Ed. Preview", pp. 34-39
- White Dwarf 112 (US), "Terminator: Space Marine Tactical Dreadnought Armour", pp. 11-20
- White Dwarf 109 (US), "Terminator Squads", pp. 32-33
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett, p. 161
- Forge World - Death Guard Deathshroud Terminators
- Forge World - Tartaros Pattern Terminator Armour
- Forge World - Iron Hands Legion Gorgon Terminators
- Forge World Salamanders Legion Firedrakes
- Forge World - Sons of Horus Justaerin Terminators
- Forge World - World Eaters Legion Red Butchers