(Version 1.0. With apologies to Shroud for any unintentional butchering of his chosen battle brothers.)
LEGIO XII “WORLD EATERS”
Status: EXCOMMVINICATE TRAITORIS
As might be expected of one of the most important Legions during the Great Crusade, and subsequently, the Heresy, we know a great deal about the World Eaters, at least from an external point of view. Unfortunately, only one short account has been published from inside the Legion, published in the Tales of Heresy compilation, so the view of the World Eaters that we have must be tempered with the understanding that much of what we know of them is taken from secondary sources.
Angron, primarch of the World Eaters, had the singular misfortune to land on a world (not identified in any official texts) that practiced a particularly cruel form of classical slavery, in which the upper class of the planet ruled, while the vast majority of the population, in the lower classes, were held in slavery, and the middle class toiled somewhere in ambiguity in between. In order to keep the middle classes from revolting, the upper class distracted them with daily gladiatorial games of a size and spectacle that would be considered egregious even by the standards of the Western Roman empire at its most decadent. In these games, human beings were pitted against each other, and against vicious beasts, in contests that were frequently “to the death” affairs.
Angron’s unconscious form was discovered badly beaten by a gang of slavers.
Fluff varies somewhat about this point – some sources say that Angron was attacked by a Xenos species, others that he had been wounded by some “vicious beast.” Irregardless, Angron was inert, injured, and helpless, when the slavers found him. Finding him to be a promising physical specimen, the slavers took the young primarch and sold him to a local gladiatorial school (or Ludus) where he was administered to and then trained to fight in the games, while alternately being beaten and psychologically scarred. While Angron was stronger in mind and body than the average man, even a Primarch could only take so much abuse in his formative years, and this early experience left a lasting effect upon his personality, engendering a lifelong distrust of authority almost before he had reached maturity.
As he grew, Angron was found to have unusually prodigious abilities as a combatant in the arena. Over the years, his victories mounted, and the Primarch-come-gladiator had become a local spectacle with the population of his adopted homeworld. Despite the glory and approbation of his fans, Angron’s consciousness could not long abide the terrible condition in which his fellow slaves were kept and so, at the apex of his power, Angron cunningly engineered an escape from the arena which in turn lead to a full scale planetary revolt. Each attempt by the ruling classes to defeat Angron and his band of armed slaves was defeated by wont of Angron’s tactical brilliance and his charismatic leadership abilities. Army after army went marching into the hills and mountains that Angron’s band of fugitives called home, and few returned. Angron’s success was so great that his rebels were able, from time to time, to pillage local settlements to procure supplies and weapons for his supporters. Their rapacious attacks soon earned them the nickname of “City Eaters,” a title which Angron bore with great pride.
Inevitably, however, Angron’s revolt could not succeed. With sheer weight of technology and numbers, the government forces on the planet soon began to zero in on Angron’s rebels. A final confrontation was looming on the horizon when the Emperor first revealed himself to Angron. We do not know how long the Emperor watched Angron, only that he arrived with precious little time. His message of introduction was brief; the ruler of mankind warned his long lost son that he had forseen a great loss of life as a result of the battle, including the Angron’s own. He urged Angron to come with him before it was too late.
Angron acknowledged his father and thanked him for the warning, but steadfastly refused to accompany the Emperor, explaining that his first loyalty was to the band of slaves and refugees who had sworn their allegiance to him. He would stand with them and die, if necessary, rather than abandon them to the mercies of the encroaching government forces.
The next morning, at the height of preparations for the coming slaughter, Angron was teleported, against his will, aboard the Imperial flagship. Without their leader, the rebels lost heart, and every man, woman, and child who had supported Angron was slaughtered during the battle and the recriminations that followed. Angron felt each loss keenly, and was humiliated and greatly dishonored by his extrication from the battlefield. He raged for weeks before being calmed, slaughtering several XII Legion equerries that were sent to make contact, before eventually accepting the Legion as his own, and making peace with the Emperor. Privately, however, we are told that Angron never forgave his father for this outrage. An excellent portrait of Angron’s state of mind in this early period can be found in the Tales of Heresy collection.
Angron’s first official act as Primarch of XII Legion was to rename the formation, then known as the “War Hounds” in honor of his former comrades. “You, little brothers, will be my Eaters of Worlds.” Legio XII was already well regarded for its actions during the Unification Wars and the earlier portions of the Great Crusade – it soon became legendary, if not infamous, under Angron’s tutlieage. As a tactician, Angron showed remarkable skill for assessing a theatre of war and determining the most brutal, direct means of simultaneously defeating an opponent and breaking his will to fight on. Often, however, Angron would lose patience with operations that he felt wasted too much time, and more than one carefully planned attack was turned into a bloody mess when the Primarch allowed his headstrong nature to take control of his senses.
In the service of the Emperor, the World Eaters were consummate practicioners of the art of close assault, and while they did not eschew the virtues of ranged combat, Angron taught them that it was best to see an enemy eye to eye before delivering the final death blow. The tactics of the World Eaters were as effective as they were brutal, and on more than one occasion, blood lust often made a massacre of an enemy who might otherwise have surrendered.
During his time as a gladiator, Angron and several of his fellow slaves had been altered with arcane means of psycho-surgery, in attempts to increase their adrenalin and make them ferocious fighters in the arena. If he had initially revolted against such inhumane methods, the carnal houses of the Great Crusade convinced Angron that such technology might be utilized in the service of the Emperor, and not long before the outbreak of the Heresy several members of the Legion were modified, using crude attempts to copy the same psycho-surgery that had been used on him. After a notorious incident in which a company of modified “beserkers” slaughtered the entire population of a planet in a single day and night, the Emperor censured Angron and ordered that all such surgeries cease. Such modifications continued in secret, however.
Already embittered regarding his first encounter with the Emperor, we are told that Angron was greatly upset by the Emperor’s withdrawl from the front lines of the Great Crusade following Ullanor, seeing it as a “second betrayal.” It was not hard, then, for the Warmaster to turn his bitter, headstrong brother against the Imperium. It was a decision that he may occasionally have had cause to regret.
Several thousand of the World Eaters refused to join in the Heresy. This so angered Angron that he launched a pre-emptive strike against the survivors of the Istvaan III bombardment, ruining the Warmaster’s timetable and turning that planet into a bloody quagmire. In the Old Chronology, it was surviving force of loyalists lead by a company of World Eaters who seized the Eisenstein and warned the Emperor of the heresy; in the New Chronology, events have been altered, but we know that at least some World Eaters loyalists did survive. Unfortunately, their fate, along with the fate of most other loyalists, is not known at the present time.
In the service of the War Master, the World Eaters were a useful, if somewhat unstable tool, and they were responsible for winning several victories for Horus. In fact, the World Eaters had penetrated farthest into the Imperial Palace when the death of Horus forced the retreat of the Traitor Legions. The survivors fled with Angron into the Eye of Terror, where their Primarch soon obtained Daemon Prince status. This “ascension” seems to have broken the Legion asunder, and many of those same traitors continue to lead fragmentary warbands of so-called “Chaos Marines” in the timeframe of the 41st millineum.
Power Armor Variants
There are numerous depictions of the World Eaters in the artwork of the Horus Heresy. Most of these Astartes are depicted in an assault role, equipped with chainsword and bolter-pistol, but that should not be seen as a reason for exclusive use of close-combat forces by an aspiring World Eaters player.
The majority of power armor in these depictions is either Mk.III “Iron”, Mk.IV “Maximus” armor, or a hybrid of the two. A minority of depictions show the World Eaters in Mk.II “Crusade” and Mk.V”Heresy” type power armor, though the latter is more common than the former. At least a handful of World Eater Astartes in Collected Visions appear to be wearing the knee-less greaves usually associated with Mk.VI “Corvus” style power armor, but there are no official depictions of World Eaters clad exclusively in this rare armor type.
The World Eaters seem to have made frequent use of a Legionary helmet variant, the so-called “screaming” helmet, which can best be imagined as the “Bunny Eared” Khorne Helmets worn by Khorne Berserkers in the post-Heresy setting, minus the “bunny ears.” Some second-party sources also manufacture and sell various takes on the design.
Oddly enough, the World Eaters depicted in artwork don’t make significant use of personal trophies. The blood of an enemy was probably sufficient.
As “World Eaters”, the legionary device of XII Legio depicted a pair of jaws clamped around a blue planetoid. The legionary device of the “War Hounds” is as yet unknown. By the time they had completely dedicated themselves to Khorne, the iconography of the Legion was frequently joined with one of the traditional symbols associated with that deity.
The official livery of the World Eaters was White, with Dark Blue shoulderpads, backpacks, and belts, with gunmetal grey or silver chest wiring. The legionary device was often repeated on the lower left greave, just above the foot. Many painters choose to play up the close-combat skill (or obsession, if you like) of the World Eaters by decorating their armor with blood spray, usually achieved with the flick of a toothbrush soaked in an appropriately colored paint. This style is not widely repeated in the artwork, but has been done so much that World Eaters without blood are almost a rarity in pre-Heresy gaming circles these days!
At some point, the World Eaters abandoned their White and Dark Blue color scheme in favor of blood red, an homage to their worship of the Blood God, Khorne. However, with current evidence it would appear that the World Eaters did not adopt such a color scheme until after the death of Horus and the end of the Heresy. It is probably fair to say that this color scheme would have appeared around the time of the Scouring (the last death throes of the Heresy) at the very earliest.
As for specialist troops, World Eater Librarians are certainly not unknown, but they appear to have been eliminated to a man by the end of the Heresy. Chaplains among the World Eaters are not attested to.
The World Eaters had a large number of armored vehicles, if the Collected Visions are any indication. These vehicles were usually painted in the colors of the legion – White and Dark Blue, sometimes covered with dirt.
The World Eaters are sometimes credited with a turbo-engined, open topped version of the Rhino known as the “Thunder Rhino.” This is not supported by current sources, however, and may in fact have originated in the misinterpretation of an illustration in Collected Visions.
Prominent Astartes of the World Eaters
Notable World Eaters
*Angron - Sometimes called the Red Angel, Angron is the violent and deadly Primarch of the XII Legion of Chaos Space Marines known as the World Eaters. He fell to the Ruinous Powers, particularly to the influence of the Blood God Khorne, during the Horus Heresy. Afterwards, Angron earned his place as a powerful Daemon Prince of the Blood God.
*Ibram Ghreer (Deceased) - Ibram Ghreer, a Terran-borne Astartes, was a respected general who commanded the XII Legion for nearly three standard decades until he disappeared without explanation from any record of the time and no explanation was given by his taciturn Legion for his absence. In truth, he was killed by Angron so that the Primarch could assert his rightful command over the XII Legion whose Astartes had been created from his own genetic material.
Kunnar (Deceased) - Champion of the 1st Company, killed by Angron after he assumed control of the XII Legion.
*Shinnargen (Deceased) - Captain of the 2nd Company, killed by Angron after he assumed control of the XII Legion.
*Khârn the Betrayer - Khârn was once the Captain of the XII Legion's 8th Assault Company. He became a Chaos Champion of Khorne soon after the World Eaters turned to the service of the Chaos Gods. Khârn stood in the forefront of the World Eaters' assault of the Imperial Palace at the Battle of Terra during the closing days of the Horus Heresy and was killed during the vicious, hand-to-hand fighting before the Palace's Eternity Gate. His battered body was discovered laying atop a large mound of Loyalist corpses. When the assault was broken by the defeat of Horus at the hands of the Emperor, his fellow World Eaters found Khârn's body and carried it away. Soon after, they found that Khârn had apparently been resurrected by his patron God, Khorne. After the World Eaters had been driven into the Eye of Terror the entire Legion was ultimately consumed by the bloodlust of Khorne and became his most potent mortal servants, often fighting his eternal battles against his hated rival Slaanesh and the Prince of Pleasure's favoured mortal servants, the Emperor's Children Legion. The Daemon World of Skalathrax in the Eye of Terror was one of the places contested by both Traitor Legions shortly after the end of the Horus Heresy in the 31st Millennium. After a full day of vicious fighting, the terribly frigid Skalathrax night began. Horrified, Emperor's Children and World Eaters alike ran to their shelters, for the freezing night would kill even a Chaos Space Marine in a matter of moments. Khârn raged over being delayed from slaughter for even a single night. Filled with anger when he saw that his brother Chaos Marines were creeping back to the shelters, he took up a flamer and burned them down, slaying with his Chain Axe Gorechild any who tried to stop him. The night was filled with the screams of the dying and the freezing as Khârn strode the streets of the dead city of black stone, killing Emperor's Children and World Eaters alike, burning any shelters he found. The night was lit by flames as the Emperor's Children and the World Eaters fought each other and themselves for the few remaining shelters. By morning, most of the World Eaters were dead, the survivors split into small warbands, the shattered remnants of the once great Companies of the XII Legion. The Legion would never reunite and would remain scattered in warbands for the next ten millennia.
*Dreagher - Dreagher was the Terran-born World Eaters Astartes who served as Captain of the XII Legion's 9th Company during the early days of the Great Crusade. After meeting his Primarch for the first time, he promised Angron that under his leadership the War Hounds Legion would become "...the eater of worlds." In this way, Dreagher inadvertently inspired Angron to rename the XII Legion the World Eaters.
*Shabran Darr - Centurion Shabran Darr, known as "White Eyes," hailed from the Death World of Cuth'vasti. He was marked out as different from his fellow Astartes, possessing sallow stone-grey skin and the white-on-white eyes of its near-Abhuman natives. He was a relatively young World Eaters officer who had risen quickly in his Legions' ranks and distinguished himself in battle many times, earning himself a place in the 11th Assault Company and willingly accepted the Legion's Apothecaries' psycho-surgery to enhance his aggression. It is not known why such a loyal officer was selected for death on Istvaan III, but whatever the reason, Darr took part in the initial assault upon the planet's surface. When it became evident that he had been betrayed by his brothers he became almost insane with hatred, but managed to focus this into a cold, killing rage that allowed him to keep his wits. He was determined to live to kill his enemies rather than die in a blaze of violence as so many other of his Legion had. Darr soon became a leader of a Loyalist World Eaters guerrilla force that made the warren north of the Precentor's Palace in the Choral City their killing ground and there they fought to the bitterest end.
*Ehrlen (Deceased) - Ehrlen was a Loyalist Captain of the World Eaters who took part in the attack on Istvaan III. He led a division of World Eaters Loyalists towards the Precentor's Palace in the Choral City, meeting thousands of civilians who tried to stop them, and with his fellow World Eaters, slaughtered all of them. Ehrlen was encountered by the Emperor's Children Captain Saul Tarvitz, who warned the World Eaters to take cover as the Warmaster Horus was about to virus-bomb the planet. However, Tarvitz's warning came too late, as many World Eaters were too far away from bunkers or other air-tight shelters and were unable to survive the massive bombardment by biological weapons. Captain Ehrlen led the World Eaters' counter-attack on the forces of their Primarch Angron and their traitorous fellow Battle-Brothers, where he is believed to have died at the hands of his Traitor brethren. However, at the end of the fight, a few World Eaters managed to survive and link up with the remainign Loyalist forces on the planet, where they helped drag out the battle against the Traitor forces for a further three months before Horus finally unleashed an orbital bombardment that ended all Loyalist resistance.
*Kharad Huygan - Huygan was an Assault Legionary and a Terran Veteran of long-standing, deployed with the first wave sent to reconquer Istvaan III. He is recorded as being part of the assault force sent to take possession of a northern sector communications relay. His fate following the firestorm after the initial bombardment by the Life-eater virus remains unknown.
*Juljak Nul (Deceased) - Juljak Nul, known as "The Storm Walker," was a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought of the World Eaters Legion. Nul had the dual distinctions of being the first Master of Ordnance of the XII Legion -- later known as the War Hounds -- and being one of the first of the Legion's officers interned within a Dreadnought frame after being horribly mutilated by Slaugth murder-minds at Rangda. An Imperial Loyalist, he was betrayed to his death at Istvaan III and was finally destroyed during the great battle between his Legion's two factions following Angron's landing, carrying many of his former brothers with him into death's embrace.
*Mica Vulkov (Deceased) - Vulkov was a section leader for a World Eaters Tactical Squad attached to the first wave on Istvaan III, and he managed to survive the virus bombardment by virtue of being engaged against Istvaanian rebels in the depths of a manufactory unit during the initial attack. Incensed to the point of madness by his Legion's betrayal, he fought relentlessly against them, finally falling alongside Loyalist Death Guard forces in the northern zone of the Choral City.
*Skraal - Skraal was a Loyalist Captain of the World Eaters who was most notable for his participation in the hunt for the traitorous Word Bearers' unique Battleship, the Furious Abyss. When the Ultramarines vessel Fist of Macragge was destroyed under mysterious circumstances, the Ultramarines Fleet Commander Lysimachus Cestus assembled an ad hoc strike force to investigate the warship's destruction. Skraal and his World Eaters worked alongside Battle-Brothers from the Space Wolves, Thousand Sons and the Ultramarines. Skraal led his World Eaters in a bold raid on the starport of Bakka Triumveron in an attempt to board the Word Bearers' vessel called the Wrathful. On that vessel the World Eaters valiantly fought against daemonic boarders. Those few World Eaters that survived were then led by Captain Skraal and an Ultramarines officer named Antiges during a daring sabotage mission aboard the Furious Abyss. Once on-board, the mission nearly ended in disaster when the Loyalist strike force was all but annihilated with the exception of Skraal. The World Eaters Captain managed to successfully avoid capture or being killed for several weeks, until he was finally able to link up with another Loyalist strike force under the command of Captain Cestus. Skraal willingly sacrificed himself to buy both Cestus and the Wolf Lord Brynngar Sturmdreng time to sabotage and destroy the Furious Abyss. The volatile World Eater savagely cleaved his way through the bodyguard of the Dark Apostle Zadkiel, suffering a score of mortal wounds until he was finally halted by a point-blank Bolt Pistol shot. Before collapsing from his wounds, Skraal managed one final fateful swing, cleaving Zadkiel's Bolt Pistol and hand. Enraged, the Dark Apostle impaled the World Eater Captain through the head with his Dark Crozius, killing him.
*Styvath the Berserker - Styvath was a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought of the World Eaters Legion who was barely controllable and subject to indiscriminate and savage bouts of rage thanks to the unpredictable interaction between his psycho-surgical implants and the Dreadnought's cybernetic control systems. Styvath was kept in a deep coma between battles. At Istvaan III he was unleashed by Drop Pod and rampaged across the battlefield, caring not who he killed.
*Macer Varren - A Captain of the World Eaters Legion, Varren remained steadfastly loyal to the Emperor of Mankind when his Legion became corrupted by Chaos and threw in its lot with the Warmaster Horus during the Horus Heresy. Like his fellow World Eaters, Varren possessed a short-temper and was always eager to prove himself in battle, though he possessed a strong code of martial honour. Unlike his traitorous brethren who spat on their oaths of fealty, Varren remained steadfastly loyal to the Emperor even after the majority of his Legion joined the rebellion of the Warmaster Horus. The lord of the XII Legion, the gladiator Primarch Angron, sent his personal guard known as the Devourers to kill Varren for his refusal to join the World Eaters in their sedition. Varren barely escaped this assassination attempt with his life, though he became embittered by the betrayal of his former Battle-Brothers. He would later be recruited in the early 31st Millennium by Nathaniel Garro, a former Death Guard Battle-Captain, to become one of the seven Astartes who would help form the core of what eventually evolved into the Grey Knights Space Marine Chapter. According to some legends, Varren was originally thought to have played a part in the seizing of the Death Guard Frigate Eisenstein during the virus bombing of Istvaan III, which was used by Garro to carry warning to the Emperor of the Warmaster Horus' betrayal.
*Lord Crull - Crull was a Chaos Lord of Khorne who led a warband of World Eaters named the Blood Legion of Khorne during the battle for Lorn V.
*The Headsman - "The Headsman" is one of the most brutal of all of the World Eaters Chaos Space Marines known to be active in the Jericho Reach. This individual, whose true name is unknown, has earned the dire moniker "The Headsman" by the countless bloody deeds he has perpetrated across a hundred battlefields and more. First witnessed on the world of Khazant, The Headsman has been encountered leading a warband of his fellow Khornate Berserkers. Of all the bloodthirsty murderers fuelled by the savage essence of Khorne, The Headsman is feared as the most savage and unrelenting. He wields a mighty two-handed Chainaxe with which he beheads his foes, often a dozen with a single sweep. His features are obscured by an executioner’s hood, with little more than his baleful eyes visible. However, it is not just his appearance that has earned The Headsman his title, and it has been noted that his deeds are neither mindless nor random. Rather, The Headsman announces to his followers and all who will listen who his next target will be, and then sets out to slay them at any cost. Such targets are often the leaders or champions of the Imperium’s armies in the Reach, though on occasion they have been spiritual leaders or even high administrators or nobles. None can discern any pattern in The Headsman’s choice of target, but once the name is announced the victim’s doom is all but sealed. To date, The Headsman has announced the name of, and subsequently slain, three Space Marine Company Champions, a Chaplain, seven Imperial Guard Colonels, two Adeptus Titanicus Princeps, a Cardinal-Aquilus, and a Commissar-General.
*Kossolax the Foresworn - Kossolax was a Chaos Lord who supported the 13th Black Crusade and lead a large Khornate warband known as the Foresworn. One particular Chaos Rhino, belonging to the World Eaters Legion, was reportedly present at the Battle of Terra during the Siege of the Imperial Palace, and has been identified on numerous occasions over the millennia since as being the vehicle of Kossolax the Foresworn. The vehicle, identified as Barbarus by its nameplate, is covered in iron spikes, each adorned with the severed head of an Imperial warrior. The records of the Ordo Malleus state that Barbarus belonged to the squad of Sergeant Solax of the World Eaters' 3rd Assault Company before the Horus Heresy, and this individual is thought to be the beast now known as Kossolax the Foresworn. If this is indeed the case, Sergeant Solax has risen to the command of an entire company of Khornate Berserkers in the form of the Foresworn, and Barbarus has served with him and his warband across 10,000 standard years.
*Lord Zhufor - Zhufor, also called Zhufor the Impaler and the Butcher of Vraks, is an infamous Chaos Lord of Khorne who led a mighty warband of the World Eaters known as the Skulltakers during the Siege of Vraks. Millennia ago, he was known as Balzach, a former Sergeant of the Storm Lords Chapter. During the sacking of the hive cities of Paramar, Sergeant Balzach was severely wounded and taken captive by the Traitor Marines of the World Eaters Legion. Balzach was then drugged and subjected to torture and psycho-corrective surgery to alter his brainwave patterns in order to break his Imperial indoctrination. He was turned into a raging psychopathic killer, tall and muscular beyond even his normal Space Marine physique, and reborn as Zhufor.
*Apothecary Fabrikus - Fabrikus is an infamous Apothecary of the World Eaters Traitor Legion. Fabrikus' name is a dark legend in the Apothecarion of every Space Marine Chapter. A brilliant man, he served with the elite 1st Company of the World Eaters, gaining distinction as a warrior and as a surgeon, before following his Primarch Angron into the service of the Ruinous Powers. In the centuries since the Horus Heresy, his name has become a byword for perverse experimentation. Some said he was even behind many of the mutations undergone by the Chaos Space Marines: the fusion of flesh to armour of the World Eaters, the hellish combination of near-dead warrior and implacable war machine that was a Chaos Dreadnought. His masters required more Space Marines, more than could be provided by the harvest of the gene-seed from those already serving their unholy purpose. Fabrikus had spent the centuries experimenting with the other intelligent races available to him, but the gene-seed refused to take, or else it produced mutations that were unhelpful. Therefore, he had decided to return to take up his earlier role as an Apothecary and harvest the Progenoid Glands from a more pure source, unaffected by the energies of the Warp -- that of captured Space Marines loyal to the Emperor. In this way, these new measures would help ensure his success in the creation of new types of Astartes loyal to the Ruinous Powers of the Warp and unstoppable in battle.
*Akraghar, Berzerker Champion - It was Akraghar, Berzerker Champion of the World Eaters, who first harnessed a Defiler and bound it to his savage will. During the war for Eclipsion Prime, Akraghar leapt from the flames of a burning hivespire onto the legendary Defiler known as "Slaughterfiend" and forced the daemon within the hell engine to submit to his will. He rode the daemon-machine through the shattered hive city like a dark knight upon a hellish stallion, descending upon his foes in a vengeful maelstrom of fire and blade. To the present day, the most reckless Chaos Space Marine Berserkers will attempt to emulate Akraghar's deed and capture a Defiler and ride their own Slaughterfiend to war.
*Roghrax Bloodhand - This formidable Khornate Berserker has amassed more human skulls than he knows what to do with. He has sworn to collect a skull from every warrior species in the galaxy and offer them up to the Skull Throne of his master, Khorne. Bloodhand's masterwork took a dramatic turn when he was presented with a new opportunity to test his martial skills in 992.M41, with the coming of the Tyranid fleets. Hastening to the Eastern Fringe, the maniacal trophy collector led his Chaos warfleet directly into the path of Hive Fleet Kraken. Bloodhand is delighted at the prospect of collecting such large and impressive xenos skulls, and soon reaped a grisly bounty from the foul aliens.
*Scyrak the Slaughterer - During the Horus Heresy, Librarians in the other Space Marine Legions that dedicated themselves to the Ruinous Powers were granted new psychic abilities and malefic powers. The only exception were the Librarians of the World Eaters. As part of a bloody sacrifice to their new master, the Librarians of the World Eaters were hunted down and slaughtered by their brother Astartes, as Khorne despises all practitioners of the sorcerous arts. The killing came to a head when the World Eaters hero Scyrak the Slaughterer slew the Legion's Chief Librarian, thus removing the last obstacle to the Legion's bloody fall to the Eightfold-Path and their service to the Skull Throne.
Legion Beliefs & Traditions
When they were reunited with their Primarch, the War Hounds were soon influenced by Angron's cultural beliefs and blood rites that would become an important part of the World Eaters' core beliefs as the culture within the XII Legion shifted to ever more violent and bloodthirsty mores and values. These became quickly echoed in the shifting skein of the Legion's own rites and ceremonies, and the martial traditions of Old Terra, never strong in the War Hounds who had prided themselves on their fury and courage above all else, disappeared altogether and were replaced by Angron's own red code of butchery and savage competition:
*Triumph Rope - Like their fellow Astartes Legions, the XII Legion would often take an oath of moment, a final last act before embarking for combat. Each Legionnaire prepares their vows to their fellow brothers in the Legion. What they will do for their Emperor, their Legion and themselves. They witness one another's oaths. Some Legions write them and then decorate themselves with the written oaths on fluttering paper on their Power Armour. But with the coming of Angron, the Primarch introduced to his gene-sons the tradition of the "Triumph Rope." This was something that was shown to Captain Kharn by his Primarch. Angron explained that before a battle one would carve a line in one's body, and after said battle you would either let it heal normally, to show that you were victorious or you would rub some of the dirt from the battlefield into the wound, to show you were defeated. This would cause the scar to appear to be a "red twist" if victorious, or a "black twist" if defeated.
Warriors could then keep track of their battle honours and gauge each others prowess. Angron had the longest 'Triumph Rope' within the Legion. A ridge of scar tissue began at the base of Angron’s spine. It traveled up his backbone, then veered to the left and around his body, riding over his hip and curving around to his front. The length of his continuous scar seemed to expand and thin again, ploughing and gouging the skin, in some places vanishing entirely where the Primarch’s healing powers had overcome it. The scar looped around and around Angron’s body, spiraling up over his belly, around his ribs, towards his chest. A little past the right of his sternum, it abruptly stopped. Angron, it was said, had no black twists. When the Emperor spirited Angron away from his world on the eve of battle where he was ready to give his life fighting side-by-side with his fellow slaves, he was denied the right to return to his world. He couldn't pick up the soil to make a black twist. Unable to wear his failure, he was bitter with the Emperor that he couldn't fight alongside them and even more so that he couldn't even commemorate them properly.
*Warrior Marks - Such few honours that the XII Legion believed in were warrior-marks of brotherhood and the scars of battle, for these things transcended rank and spoke to the worth of the Space Marine beneath the armour. The sundered chains of one who had fought overwhelming odds and lived, an allusion that spoke to Angron's own bleak history, and the bloody handprint over the face or heart bestowed by a battle leader for a warrior whose fury had transcended that of his brothers, to the World Eaters these meant more than any mere bauble, title or trinket. Examples of such warrior-marks included:
1. The use of several versions of the Legion badge of the fanged maw adorning an individual Space Marine's armour, which denoted long service.
2. Red striations on a helm could be a personal decoration that echoed the psycho-surgical cortex implantation.
3. Red "tears" (more likely blood drops) painted beneath the eye lenses on a helm were thought to denote an Astartes' ritual scarification.
4. Kill tally marks were often incised into a vambrace or a warrior's individual weapon. A "crossed-chain" decoration on a vambrace accorded an individual warrior status as having killed a fellow World Eater of higher rank in a sanctioned arena duel.
*Wearing Chains to Bind Weapons - Before the Horus Heresy, the World Eaters' originally wore white Power Armour that was unadorned, save for the chains binding their weapon to their arms. The chains were a personal tradition of the XII Legion that had spread even amongst the other Legions from the fighting pits of the World Eaters where the practice had originated. Sigismund, the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion, had taken to the custom with his usual zeal, binding his weapons to his wrists on dense black chains. He made an impressive name for himself when he served with the World Eaters within the bowels of The Conqueror, dueling with the XII Legion’s finest warriors late in the Great Crusade. The "Black Knight" they had called him, in honour of his prowess, his nobility and his personal heraldry. Ammit, a Captain of the Blood Angels Legion known as the "Flesh Tearer," was another Astartes who earned great glory in the World Eaters’ pits in the days before the Horus Heresy, for he fought with the same savagery and brutality as his hosts, a trait that would later be passed on to the Flesh Tearers Chapter he led after the Heresy.
*Head Taking - One of the more bloody traditions of the World Eaters were gruesome contests of head-taking between members of individual squad members, various squads, and the Chapters, Companies and Captains. This may just have been a easy way to confirm kills, but it has been surmised by Imperial scholars that the World Eaters saw the head of a foe to be important. It is unknown if the totals of collected heads were kept for just single battles, wars, or the warrior's career.
When Khârn the Betrayer was but a Neophyte still training upon the War Hounds' vassal world of Bodt, he was introduced to "The Contest," an ancient and already well-established tradition of the XII Legion. All War Hounds were expected to compete in "The Contest" and the rules were simple: the first Astartes to reach 1,000 skulls won. When one of Khârn's fellow Neophytes inquired about the prize, Gruner merely shrugged his shoulders in response, for he did not know. No one had ever come close. By the time of the Battle of Terra at the climatic conclusion of the Horus Heresy, Khârn easily achieved this feat, collecting his bloody prize of over one thousand "Loyalists" heads during the Siege of the Imperial Palace, a feat which has never been duplicated.
Some more notes to add to the Notitia Astartum: World Eaters:
At its creation, the XII Legion, like almost all the Space Marine Legions of the time, followed the so-called "Terran Pattern" of organisation as formulated by the Imperial Officio Militaris at the outset of the Great Crusade, but even in this earliest period the Legion's procurement and outfitting showed a considerable bias towards direct assault and operations within the close and deadly confines of the kinds of battlefields designated as "Zone Mortalis" in Imperial strategic doctrine. During Angron's transition of command, this would continue, and the Legion's organisational structures were kept largely intact but often further streamlined, with its echelons being biased in make-up towards line infantry formations.
These formations were a hybrid of tactical/close assault troops for the main part, supported by dedicated heavy assault units such as Terminators and specialised units such as Land Speeder squadrons. This organisation lent itself well to a highly aggressive strategic posture and belligerent tactics, which while extremely costly in terms of casualties, were also highly effective. The rank structure of the World Eaters under Angron remained simple and direct, the Primarch having little but scorn for the trappings of elites and pointless accolades and titles. It is said that Angron refused even to be addressed as "Lord" by his Astartes, but he did see the virtue of a reliable and transparent chain-of-command in war.
The War Hounds Legion was also known for its harsh enforcement of internal discipline and the hot-blooded temper of its Legionaries. Command within the Legion was gained through a mixture of martial prowess on the battlefield and displays of leadership on the front line, with specialists singled out by aptitude early on. No rank or role within the Legion was exempt from the expectation that they would fight as hard as the rest, however, nor was the desire to grapple with the foe and cut them down by blade-stroke discouraged if the opportunity arose, be the Space Marine in question an Apothecary or Artillerist rather than a frontline fighter. Compared to many of the other Astartes Legions, order and discipline did not come as naturally to those of this gene-seedas might be expected. Tempers often seethed, slights perceived or real were met with anger and more often than not violence would result should a World Eater's sense of honour be impugned.
Any officer of the Legion knew they were expected to back up their authority by force if needed, and the punishment of infractors by an officer's own hands was the Legion's way. To disobey an officer's order in battle was a death sentence to be carried out without delay. Trial by combat soon became the Legion's preferred route for settling disagreements within its ranks, and bloodletting by warriors in open discord was an honourable thing both in Angron's eyes and that of his Legion. Here also could one of higher rank be challenged for the right of command, although such rare contests were always to the death. At the time of the Istvaan III Atrocity, a precise estimate of the World Eaters' fighting strength and disposition was impossible to make. Best estimates of their observed strength were around 150,000 Space Marines, placing the World Eaters in the middle to high levels of comparative strength amongst its contemporary Legions. The World Eaters were also well-supplied and supported by the Legio Audax (Ember Wolves) Titan Legion and a fleet of at least sixty capital class vessels.
Specialist Ranks & Formations
* Devourers - The Devourers were the premier cadre within the World Eaters Legion that served as a dedicated bodyguard unit for their Primarch (whether he needed one is another matter). In battle they fought encased in Terminator Armour and carried the most savage weapons the XII Legion possessed. This warrior band had only twelve members, and access to its ranks was only attained by defeating a 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 Astartes in the Legion, only one of which would survive.
*Rampager Squads - Rampager Squads were near-berserker assault units composed of the most savage and bloodthirsty World Eaters Legionaries who had undergone the dangerous psycho-surgical procedure of having a cortical implant inserted within their brains and who were deemed too unstable to serve in a regular line unit. Within these units, a small minority of those Legionaries that were too far gone to be anything but restrained by force between battles became known as the Caedere or the "Butchers." Others focused their desire for berserk slaughter through martial discipline, mastering a variety of macabre and savage weapons patterned from those used by Angron's fellow arena gladiators and found on the Feral Worlds from which the XII Legion primarily drew its recruits during the Great Crusade.
*Destroyer Squads - Considered dishonourable by some Legions who made little use of them or eschewed them altogether, the Destroyers were equipped with and expert in the use of otherwise proscribed and forbidden weaponry. Alongside certain factions of the Mechanicus, only Destroyer cadres had the license to use these weapons in the forces of the Imperium by the Emperor's command. Rad-weapons, bio-alchem munitions and the crawl-burning horror of Phospex were among the Destroyer Squads' dark arsenal, weapons which irrevocably tainted the ground upon which they were used. Marked by their fire-blackened and chem-scalded armour, Destroyers were often shunned and deemed somehow tainted by their Battle-Brothers in many Legions and were considered at best a necessary evil, although the effectiveness of their relic-weapons in cracking especially difficult enemy defences could not be denied.