Or… What in the Universe has happened for the last two editions?
The universe of Warhammer 40,000 teetered on the brink of annihilation for years. While we would get tiny bumps forward in time, the universe stayed largely status quo. Bad guys everywhere… humanity stretched too thin… no hope… only war…
As 7th Edition closes…
Basically the universe stayed this way until the end of Seventh Edition. As the end of 7th edition drew near we saw a distinct rise in the casualty rates of our favorite space marine chapters. Blood Angels and their successors (even the chaos tainted ones) returned to Baal to fight off the Tyranids. The White Scars and Raven Guard fought the Tau to a standstill on the Eastern Fringe. And the Space Wolves are brought to the brink as Magnus the Red returns with his Thousand Sons to wreak havoc across the entire system. Magnus and his daemon allies are eventually defeated but not before they have caused devastating casualties to the Space Wolves, Dark Angels, and Grey Knights chapters and Magnus was able to tear open the warp and rip the Planet of Sorcerers into real space. The clock clearly moved closer to midnight and with it the strength of major space marine chapters are cut down to a few hundred marines at best.
Fall of Cadia – Cadia has stood against the forces of chaos forever. But the planet is broken by Abaddon the Despoiler. Saint Celestine, Belasarius Cawl, and Inquisitor Greyfax lead the forces against Abaddon, but even though Cadia continues to defy the chaos forces, a planet cannot survive a Blackstone Fortress being slammed into it. The destruction of Cadia and its pylons controlling the Eye of Terror are destroyed (and we learn that Abaddon has been destroying the Blackstone pylons across the universe that held back the warp) allowing the warp to rip into the galaxy. The Cicatrix Maledictum is the name for the galaxy wide warp rift and it blocks the light of the Astronomicon to half of the galaxy.
Rebirth of Roboute Guilliman – But wait! There is still hope! Cawl, Celestine, Inquisitor Greyfax and the newly formed Eldari Yvraine (Eldar Goddess of Death) seek out the body of Primarch Roboute Guilliman on a besieged Ultramar! Using a combination of Cawl’s advanced technologies and Yvraine’s death magic Roboute is reborn! Guilliman returns to an ungrateful universe in the midst of battle and smacks a bunch of chaos space marines around. Kicking butt and taking names after only a being awake for a millisecond. Roboute gathers his forces in order to go to Terra and literally all hell breaks loose. The Primarch basically fights through space, fights through the warp, and fights through the webway to finally land on the moon…. Where he faces Magnus the Red… who is only defeated by the timely arrival of the Custodes and Sisters of Silence.
Roboute chats with the Emperor on Terra and discovers Belasarius Cawl has secretly built an entirely new type of space marine… A better space marine… and of course because no one told Cawl to let them out to fight, Cawl has kept them in stasis for ten thousand years. But Roboute is happy to have new forces to reinforce the Imperium and decides to set out on a crusade with his new Primaris forces… which brings us to 8th edition.
8th edition – Before Guilliman had been laid low by his brother, Fulgrum, he had asked a young Techpriest to find a way to improve Space Marines. After the fall of Guilliman, Cawl never stopped producing improved marines. Ultimately the Primaris numbered into the hundreds of thousands and were a drastic improvement over traditional space marines. With the primaris released from stasis, they led the Indomitus Crusade that spread the new Primaris out to rebuild and rearm as many space marine chapters as possible. Especially since most space marine chapters were decimated by the end of 7th edition. The fleets of the crusade are joined by all aspects of Imperial Forces. Admech, Custodes, Sisters of Silence, Sisters of Battle, Space Marines, Imperial Navy, Imperial Guard, Imperial Knights… If there is an Imperial Force it was mustered, organized and sent out into the universe to reclaim and reinforce existing chapters. The Primaris Space Marines would first fight their way across the Galaxy in the crusade forces and then join Torchbearer battle groups in order to reinforce or rebuild Space Marine chapters. Guilliman for his part fought his way back to the Ultramarine’s home worlds and found his chapter fighting for survival against the forces of Mortarion and the Death Guard. Ultimately, Guilliman fights his brother and the Mortarion needs to fall back as other chaos forces are moving to claim the places his forces have vacated while they attacked Ultramar.
Vigilus – The world of Vigilus stood as a fortress holding one end of a stable passage through the Cicatrix Maledictum. The planet became a gathering place for Orks looking for a fight and cult uprising as generations of Genestealer Cults rose to the surface during times of strife. Marneus Calgar is sent by Guilliman to wrest control of the planet back into the hands of the Imperum… but even in Calgar’s super new Primaris body he is not ready to face Abaddon in single combat. Chaos comes to Vigilus and only through trickery and bold, bloody tactics do the Imperial Forces save the burning planet. Chaos forces pull back, but with the damage they caused there is nothing preventing them from pushing past the Vigilus system into one of the only stable passages of the Cicatrix Maledictum.
Psychic Awakening Series – this series was meant as an update to the lore surrounding armies and to move the timeline toward 9th edition. Each existing force had some sort of addition during the Psychic Awakening series. Below is a summary of each book and the basics within each book.
Phoenix Rising/Blood of the Phoenix – The Psychic Awakening series began with the Eldar. Both Craftworlds and Drukari received reenforcements in the form of updated plastic kits and updated heroes in the Blood of the Phoenix box. Jain Zhar and the Howling Banshees fought against Drazhar and the updated Incubi. But the story goes back further… back to a 7th edition boxed set titled Death Masque. Here the famed Farseer Eldrad Uthuan attempted to enact a ritual that would likely save the Eldar race… he was thwarted by Captain Artemis and his Deathwatch forces… but Eldrad’s ritual would begin to ignite the fires that would end with Yvraine. Eldrad had stirred the God of Death and that stirring allowed the Ynnari to become a faction within the Eldar race. After Yvraine had brought Roboute Guilliman back to life, she traveled and preached to the Eldar Craftworlds about the God of Death and the path to salvation for the Eldar. She was ambushed on Saim-Hann by Drazhar. The timely arrival of Jain Zhar saved Yvraine… but Jain Zhar would not be so lucky. As Jain Zhar’s forces gave chase to the Dark Eldar… she was bisected at the waist by Drazhar. The God of Death would not let this be the end of so capable an Aspect Warrior and Jain Zhar was reborn and in a cruel twist of fate killed Drazhar. But the spirits of powerful warriors never disappear… and at the very end of the last mission in Blood of the Phoenix a new Incubi takes up the mantle of Drazhar.
The Psychic Awakening Phoenix Rising book centers on Slaanesh’s attempts to hunt down the Yvraine and torment the Eldar. Functionally, there are 3 new narrative missions and a little bit of lore, but the focus is just on delivering a handful of rules for the new units and characters. Ultimately, this book doesn’t do much to move the existing lore forward. The rules in this book are a solid update for most of the Eldar factions (sorry Harlequins… you get a White Dwarf Article later) Dark Eldar/Drukhari get Obsessions and Eldar/Aeldari gain Attributes, while the Ynnari get a minicodex style rewrite.
Faith and Fury centers around the space marines, both loyalists and their heretic brethren as they fight for the Talledus system. Talledus was a shrine world of the Ecclesiarchy and a shining beacon for the Faithful. The infamous Kor Phaeron decided this world should fall and set the seeds to ensure it would happen. The Word Bearers planted seeds of corruption and build sub-cults throughout the system and played a long game to slowly pull the disenchanted towards chaos. When the time was ripe, Kor Phaeron called on old debts and favors and build a force of Night Lords, Iron Warriors, Chaos Knights, and his own forces of Word Bearers to go to war with him. The attack on Talledus was flawless. Chaos forces unleashed terror upon the cardinal world and even the Salamanders who arrived to aid the system could do little to stop the chaos victory… But the Cicatrix Maledictum brought for miracles as well as nightmares. The last line of Sisters fought with such fervor that a wall of Holy Light blocked Kor Phaeron’s attack and dispelled his daemonic allies. The other attacks across the system found similar results, while the Iron Warriors let loose their daemon engines, they found themselves fighting Black Templars and The Night Lords discovered that they had been shadowed by a force of White Scars in a desperate void battle of lures and ambushes… The Talledus System was functionally shifted from a cardinal planet of faith into a perpetual warzone. The Faith and Fury book brings a couple more missions and theatres of war as well as a host of additional rules for Chaos and Loyal Space Marines. The Masters of the Chapter allow loyalist chapters to use Masters of Sanctity, Master of the Forge, Chief Librarian, Chief Apothecary, Chapter Ancient, and Chapter Champion as Warlords with unique benefits for each character. Additionally, this books updates Black Templar characters and gives the option for the Crusader squad of old. For Chaos Marines, Faith and Fury gives updates for Word Bearers, Night Lords, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors, Emperor’s Children, and World Eaters.
Blood Of Baal continues the battle between the Blood Angels and the Tyranids. This book gives us the reborn Primaris Mephiston and Death Company Intercessors. The Blood Angels found themselves right in the path of Hive Fleet Leviathan and were well on their way to losing everything when the Cicatrix Maledictum tore through the galaxy and seemed to wipe out the Tyranid bioships that were attacking Baal. As the Blood Angels renewed their attacks to clear the planet of the Tyranids left behind, support came in the force of Primaris. With the aid of the Indomitus Crusade’s reinforcements, the Blood Angels were able to clear enough Tyranids in order to formally accept the gift of Primaris (and Mephiston decided he wanted to be Primaris too). Dante was given the title of Regent of Imperial Nihilus and set to retake the entirety of the Baal System and then strike out to support the dark side of the Imperium. Many battles were fought throughout Baal and though descriptive and unique… in conclusion the system of Baal became a perpetual Warzone… But Blood Angels got a new Primaris Character in Mephiston and updated rules for Death Company Intercessors and the ability to include all Primaris Space Marine units into their army. Tyranids did walk away with some cool new items as well; adaptations, bio-artifacts, hive fleet psychic powers…
Ritual of the Damned brought together the Dark Angels and Grey Knights to thwart a Thousand Sons ritual. Leading up to this book were several short stories on the Warhammer Community website which described Imperial Citizens who fled the Black Ships to find safety with the “One Eyed King.” While the Grey Knights and Dark Angels have rarely been on good terms, the relationship between the two forces has improved since the Space Wolves were almost wiped out in Prophecy of the Wolf. The Grey Knights assisted the Dark Angels in rooting out The Changling who had tricked the Dark Angels into bombing Fenris. Plus, few knew about the Grey Knights and fewer still were left alive after knowing about the Grey Knights… thus the Grey Knights knew the Dark Angels would be a good pairing to hunt down and stop Magnus’s rituals. The Dark Angels send the 5th Company, under command of the Primaris Captain Lazarus, to work with the Grey Knights. The combined forces attack Magnus’s strongholds on Prospero and the Planet of the Sorcerers. The attacks are initially stalled and twisted by the deceptions of Tzeentch, but ultimately the two forces seem to sacrifice enough of their numbers (and use an orbital bombardment at a key time) in order to prevent the full ritual from coming to fruition. Nevertheless, Magnus had done a great deal of reuniting the fractured parts of his legion and furthering the psychic manifestations across the galaxy. This books gives the Dark Angels the full Primaris treatment and updates the Grey Knights (but not with Primaris). The Thousand Sons get Cults that tie them back to their Heresy era counterparts with unique rules and psychic abilities. Overall, this book has a more substantial story than the previous Psychic Awakening books, specifically if fell like it had a sense of closure.
The Greater Good features Tau, Genestealer Cults, and Imperial Guard. The book starts with an examination of how the Tau deal with the horrors of the warp. After the remains of the 4th sphere expansion are discovered the Tau launch a 5th Sphere Expansion to reunite the Tau forces and expand their territory. The survivors of the 4th Sphere are darker and prone to violence (and strangely without any auxiliaries). These survivors had seen what the psychic potential did to their human allies and eventually eliminated the auxiliaries themselves… but after they were brought into the 5th Sphere, they continued their merciless elimination of humans (whether hostages or current allies). Many Tau were censured for their overuse of force, but the remenants of the 4th Sphere expansion felt they were doing the right thing. The 5th Sphere expansion continues into Imperial Nihlus and the Tau are forced to fight for planet after planet, and not just from the Imperial Forces. The Insidious Genestealer Cults have been secretly building their forces for generations and find themselves forced to move early on their plans. The resulting battles have the three forces (Tau, Genestealer Cult, and Imperial Guard) battling each other. This book’s lore section ends with gains for each faction, but there is a distinct feeling that the battles are half finished. The rules section of this Psychic Awakening book is a gem. Tau get Sept Tenents, a new Shadowsun, updated rules for The Eight, and Farsight Conclaves updates, and Prototype Weapon Systems. Imperial Guard see Regimental Doctrines, Tank Aces, and Tempestus updates. Genestealer Cults get Cult Creeds, a Cult Ambush errata, and Cult Psychic Powers. Overall, The Greater Good is one of the better Psychic Awakening books.
Saga of the Beast/Prophecy of the Wolf – The battle between Ghazghkull Thraka and Ragnar Blackmane takes place on the ruins of Krongar. Ragnar and his elite forces charge headlong into the planet and engage in a swift hunt of the Ork warlord. There really is not much to this story… Ragnar and Ghaz basically rip each other to bits and functionally kill each other. The hand of fate for Ragnar is the ability to be reborn as a Primaris and Ghaz has his head sewed back on his body in a much larger and more impressive set of Mega Armor. Orks get a couple old units returned to them (hurray for Meks with Kustom Force Fields) and Space Wolves get the primaris updates that all the other chapters have received.
Engine War brings Imperial Knights and Admech into conflict with Chaos Knights and Daemons. The Imperial forces are led by Magos Xu Kroll, who is really a terrible commander. While one would think he would function on the logic of data… he is increasingly focused on his own interests and compulsions… Kroll essentially leads the Imperial forces to their doom in the Mundus Malefica. An old forge world, long abandoned, that was reclaimed by Dark Mechanicum and Chaos Knights Mundus Malefica (formerly Ordex-Thaag) had become a fortress for the warp fueled daemon engines and eldritch power. Kroll sought to experiment with the Varlian Device, which was purported to extinguish sorcery and the power of the warp with a pulse of null-energy. Kroll sacrificed almost the entirety of his forces (as well as Knight Households who followed him in good faith) to activate the device and the resulting effect was to free the Exalted Daemons that were trapped in the planet. What was left of the Adeptus Mechanicus fleet fled. This book updates the Adeptus Mechanicus with a host of new model rules and new Forge World Dogmas. Imperial Knights got household traditions, while Chaos Knights received Households of Infamy rules to create more unique forces. Daemons received rules that allow Greater Daemons to become Exalted (which give them additional powers in exchange for Command Points) and brings the forces of Slaanesh up to date for Warhammer 40,000.
War of the Spider – Fabius Bile has stolen a Nurgle artifact from Typhus and flees to the Cadia system. Enroute he bumps into the ruminants of the fallen Brazen Drakes chapter, who he recruits to his aid with promises of improvements. With the Death Guard hunting Bile and Shield Captain Atal Tyvar (the Custodes leading the torch bearer fleet with Brazen Drakes Primaris – which were eliminated) hunting the renegade Brazen Drakes… the stage was set for multiple battles. Bile first sets and ambush for the Death Guard and Typhus walks straight in, but the Death Guard slowly gain the upper hand and Bile and his forces flee… but not until an assassin attempts to eliminate the Brazen Drakes former chapter master tipping off all of the forces to the additional assets in play. Multiple battles commence, with the Custodes fighting both the Death Guard and the renegades. Ultimately, Fabius Bile escapes with the Death Guard’s relic and Typhus decides not to risk his own life against the forces of the Custodes and leaves vowing vengeance upon Bile. Ultimately, the execution force sent to eliminate the renegade leader of the Brazen Drakes is successful… but only after the Evesor explodes… The rules in War of the Spider bring a new Fabius Bile and the ability for Bile to customize a chaos force, plus Shield Hosts for Custodes and Cadres for Sisters of Silence. Imperial Assassins get updated rules and Death Guard receives rules for Plague Companies.
Pariah is the last of the Psychic Awakening books and leads Warhammer 40,000 directly into the new edition. Pariah follows the Primus Crusade Fleet as they venture into the Pariah Nexus (an area of space where everything has gone silent). Battle Group Kallides ventured inside the Nexus and discovered that humans had simply vanished. It was not long before the warriors of the battle group began to feel the effects of the Pariah Nexus and began to grow lethargic and unresponsive. This “Stilling” affected almost all of the humans in the fleet and even had an effect on the great Adeptus Astartes… though there seemed little impact to the Sisters of Battle. The Necrons had reacted to the Cicitrix Maladictum by renewing their research into Blackstone. They re-tuned the Blackstone in order to create a psychic null which not only controlled the warp, but also caused the “stilling” of minds affected by the warp. Humans found themselves unable to find the will to keep going. The warriors of Battle Group Kallides engage the Necrons on multiple fronts in an attempt to destroy the Blackstone Pylons that have been erected throughout the Nexus. With the faith of the Sisters of Battle leading the way, the Imperial Forces were able to push in and attack a valuable Necron location. Inquisitor Draxus, Ephreal Stern, the rogue Harlequin Kyganil bring the fight directly to the Necrons. The force was able to release a C’Tan shard and use the distraction to gather valuable information before making their escape. Ultimately, very little lore was expanded in this book outside of the establishment that the Necrons are making a solid push to claim major sections of the galaxy. The rules in this book updated the entire Inquistion force, brought Ephreal Stern and Kyganil into the ruleset, and established the new look and new rules for Necron Illuminator Szeras. This book also brought together a multitude of Theatres of War for folks who are looking to expand the battlefield rules.
There is certainly much more hidden away in the Psychic Awakening and Campaign books. There are always blurbs of lore that are intriguing and unique… especially the Echoes of Awakening sections… but I wanted to provide a basic overview of what had happened in the universe before 9th edition launched. I would encourage everyone who has interest in some of the more in depth lore to read the Psychic Awakening books for themselves.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything? What was your favorite part of the 8th edition lore?