Thunder Warriors were the soldiers that marched with the Emperor to conquer Terra in the Wars of Unification. The engineering that the Emperor used to create the Thunder Warriors was not as efficient as what he would use later to create the Space Marines, nor was the technology as advanced or the geneticists as entirely willing.
These proto-Astartes were organized in twenty regiments of no more than a few hundred warriors, each named by the Emperor himself.
Thunder Warriors were large, easily the size of a Space Marine, and in some cases even larger. Even the few that survived the end of the Unification Wars were more than a match for an Astartes in single combat. They were made highly resistant to psychic attack, perhaps because of the sorcery they would regularly face during the Age of Strife. They had tremendous upper body strength that, when coupled with their early model of power armor, made them virtually unbeatable in close combat.
Imperial history records that the Thunder Warriors had all died by the end of the Unification Wars and the Legiones Astartes were created to replace them.
Early in the Great Crusade, a group of Thunder Warriors calling themselves the Dait’Tar were among the renegades of the Cerberus Insurrection. The Emperor dispatched the XII Legion (the “War Hounds”) to quell the uprising and punish the traitors. The Thunder Warriors managed to kill four to five times their number in Astartes, but the insurrection was slaughtered in roughly five hours.
At least one Thunder Warrior survived to the time of the Horus Heresy: Arik Taranis, who had taken many names in the interim, including Babu Dhakal. Taranis had learned some of the techniques the Emperor had used to create him and tried to make his own army. He believed that the Emperor had deliberately engineered his kind with a limited lifespan; Thunder Warriors that did not die in battle suffered from cellular degeneration or mental instability.
I always try to include a single Mk.1 model in my Astartes armies, usually in a Command Squad, or my “most badass Vet Sergeant” in honor of the Thunder Warriors. You can too.
Dad, Gamer, Publisher, Pilot, Texan. All games all the time since junior-high.
I started BoLS Interactive in 2006. I’m a lifelong tabletop & RPG gaming enthusiast, and internet publisher working to entertain and inform my readers every day.
I've been playing RPGs and Tabletop Games since the 1970s. I'm been playing and covering Warhammer and Warhammer 40K for over 35 years.