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Twisting Path: The Awesome Ever-changing Warhammer 40k Background

4 Minute Read
Sep 14 2018

Black Blow Fly here to discuss two of my favorite hobby topics. The dynamic ever shifting background of the game – and the Imperial Fists.


The background or as it’s most commonly referred to as the FLUFF is the real hook that draws most of us into the hobby and the Warhammer 40k universe is quite rich indeed. Canon is official and serves as a source for stories and background material such as what appears in codices.

Retcons Happen

The last time I discussed background in detail the main topic was focused on the RETCONS which are stark changes in canon wherein a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation of previously described official events and is typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift. A retcon can be quite drastic.  For example the Horus Heresy novel First Heretic which chronicles the epic fall of the ever villainous Word Bearers depicts the opening scene with the Emperor chastising Lorgar for worshipping him by razing one of his most cherished home worlds with an army composed of Custodes and Ultramarines plus Malcador as his personal entourage.

Originally the Emperor simply chastised Lorgar behind closed doors – there was no open warfare or wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians… Lorgar was and is always truly the epitome of the archetypical back stabbing jerk… his own Marines often back stab each other as if it were normal. To me this type of retcon is the author is drastically changing previous lore to suit their own narrative purpose. In terms of both traitor and Chaos Space Marines all of the older sources are quite clear they have no redeeming values whatsoever. They are rebels but do not have good intentions.

On the other hand a good useful purpose for retcons is to iron out any original inconsistency. Often I see erroneous discussion following the recent novel Master of Mankind that the Emperor intended to kill off the Primarchs following the Great Crusades which could easily be due to a misleading implication – as far as I know no one can provide any concrete evidence to support the claim.

Onto the Imperial Fists

I am now going to discuss the VII Legion since there’s quite a bit of misinformation regarding them. This is one of my favorite loyalist Space Marine Chapters. The Imperial Fists are rich in ancient tradition, and some of their tradition dates far back. Sigismund, first Captain, went on to found the Black Templars and Polux, another famous Captain, founded the Crimson Fists. Their strong Templar element can be traced all the way back to the War of the Howling Gyre which was a catastrophic battle fought by the Imperial Fists Legion during the Great Crusade. They adopted black armor to denote the tragedy.

The Templar Brethren, or Templars, were the elite of the VII Legion. They were the Guardians of the Temple of Oaths aboard the fortress-ship Phalanx, and the Legion’s most highly accomplished warriors. Though their duty bound them to the Temple of Oaths, they were found wherever the Imperial Fists carried the Emperor’s Great Crusade. The Templars were responsible for guarding the Temple of Oaths aboard the Phalanx.


It cannot be denied Imperial Fists are a dominant force to be reckoned with however there was a period of time when some of the game developers chose to depict them as silly buffoons. Pete Haines and Graham McNeil are both big fans of the treacherous Iron Warriors whom are the mortal enemies of the Imperial Fists. In the novel Storm of Iron by McNeil a small elite force of Imperial Fists are easily swept aside by the Iron Warriors, offering no resistance whatsoever, whom pilfer the geneseed stored on Hydra Cordatus.

Dan Abnett wrote a short story in which an Imperial Fist drop pod force is utterly annihilated and completely consumed by a Tyranid splinter force within a mere matter of moments immediately following their very arrival. Fortunately the Horus Heresy novels has lifted the Imperial Fists back up again… I highly recommend the novel Praetorian of Dorn by John French if you are a fan of this Legion or would like to learn more about them.

The Dueling Tales of Rogal Dorn

If you ever visit the Lexicanum there are two versions of the history presented for Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists. One version is told through the eyes of the infernal powers which shows Dorn in a poor light and it is the more popular version. There is also the Imperial version which is probably more accurate and reveals all the things you never knew.

And in the end, that is what is best about the lore of Warhammer 40,000 – you have to choose which lie to believe.

~What is your favorite part of the 40K lore that is twisted with multiple unclear truths?


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