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Warhammer 40K: Perturabo, Iron Within, Iron Without

12 Minute Read
Aug 31 2020

Today we speak of the Emperor’s son who laid siege to the Imperial Palace itself.

Perturabo is the Primarch of the Iron Warriors, one of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Bitter and feeling marginalized by the Imperium, he sided with Horus during the Horus Heresy and has since ascended to Daemonhood. He, like his Iron Warriors, had a natural affinity towards technology and cold logic but lacked the strength of faith.

Olympia, to the east of the Maelstrom in the Ultima Segmentum.

Youth on Olympia

According to Perturabo himself, he is estimated to have been born around 792.M30. When the primarchs were scattered to the ends of the galaxy, Perturabo landed on a planet named Olympia. For at least a year, he was alone in the rural regions of Olympia and became a famed wanderer that would slay legendary beasts.

However, he was first discovered climbing the mountains below the city-state of Lochos with no memory of anything prior. The guards, having realized this was no normal child, brought him before the Dammekos, the Tyrant of Lochos. Dammekos was intrigued by the child and brought him into his house and treated him like family. Dammekos noticed the boys overwhelming intellect and skill with everything from architecture to the arts to political debate to combat, and he became a wonder with which Lochos secured alliances with other city-states. The young Perturabo, though he knew he was not of this world and was made by design as opposed to nature, was disgusted by the religious Olympians and believed in the cold logic of science and reason.

Supposedly, Perturabo never trusted the Olympians and refused to return any affection given by Dammekos. Dammekos spent plenty of time with his new son, but never got anything in return. Perturabo shunned his siblings Herakon and Andos and only enjoyed the company of his foster sister Calliphone. Many saw Perturabo as a cold and brooding child, but when considered that he had been thrown onto a world with no idea of his origins or purpose, this is perhaps a little harsh. Nonetheless, Perturabo took the name not of venerated Olympian heroes as was expected of nobility but rather an ancient title for those with prodigious ability.

Perturabo waged wars against rivals for his adopted father, and due to the many warring city-states of Olympia gathered enormous experience in siege warfare. Overseeing the construction of many siege engines once thought technologically impossible on the planet, Perturabo soon scored victory after victory and became known as a merciless bloody-handed warlord. Throughout his life, Perturabo was haunted by visions and feelings of a Great Malestrom, though he told none of it as he feared it would be seen as a sign of weakness.

The Arrival of the Emperor

When the Emperor arrived, Perturabo immediately submitted himself to the Emperor’s mercy and ousted the Tyrant of Lochus. Dammekos is said to have spent his remaining few years gathering forces to attempt to retake his power. He failed but created a current of unrest which would be used later. Perturabo spent many times with his brother Magnus on Terra in his early days in the fledgling Imperium, attempting to discover the many secrets of humankind’s past and became particularly interested in the works of famous inventors. It became said that of all the Emperor’s sons, Perturabo had the rawest scientific and technological knowledge.


Upon taking command of his Legion, Perturabo reviewed the war record of his new forces. After heavily analyzing their record, effectiveness, doctrines, and practices, Perturabo found them wanting. His punishment was decimation. By lottery, one in every ten Legionaries was chosen to be beaten to death by his comrades. Such would be Perturabo’s reign: brutal and unforgiving. Perturabo went on to lead his new Iron Warriors on a lightning crusade against the planet of Justice Rock and its heretical Black Judges.

Great Crusade

Perturabo established himself as efficient and highly capable, but also brutal, bitter, and envious. It is widely acclaimed that Perturabo was envious of Rogal Dorn. He was annoyed by his constant reminders of the perfection of the defenses on Terra. The other primarchs also kept Perturabo at a distance. This might have been because of his supreme command of technology, far in advance of anything the other primarchs could do. He is referred to as the ‘comrade’ who devised the best plan to avoid the defenses of Overdogg Mashogg, an Ork Warboss under attack by Leman Russ, leader of the Space Wolves, and Jaghatai Khan, Khan of the White Scars.

The Iron Warriors went on to create citadels throughout the regions they fought in. Small numbers of Iron Warriors were left behind at these outposts, but Perturabo resented being forced to split his army. As time went on, they were stereotyped as being the best army for sieges and garrisons, but eventually, the Iron Warriors were so worn out that they simply began to enjoy the killing they had to do after the trenches were dug.

A particularly vicious campaign was against the Hrud in the Sak’trada Deeps, a region that Perturabo saw as strategically useless. Nonetheless, he dutifully oversaw the purging of the Hrud despite his legion’s heavy casualties, as it was ordered by the War Council. At the climax of the campaign, as his fleet lay devastated by a Hrud temporal shockwave, Perturabo could only blame the Emperor’s vanity for the damage done to his sons on this useless campaign. It might well have been Horus who kept the legion on this role, allowing him to more easily sway the mind of Perturabo towards Chaos.

Campaigns against the Hrud sorely tested the Iron Warriors.

Horus Heresy

Shortly after the Sak’trada Deeps Campaign Perturabo learned that his homeworld, Olympia, was in rebellion. Dammekos was dead and in his absence, the politicking and bickering of the city-states had resumed. Perturabo demanded the Olympians themselves enact decimation, killing one in every ten of their own or face extermination and enslavement. Many refused, and Perturabo purged Olympia city by city, overrunning the fortresses he had built and sparing no one. Iron Warriors that refused to take part in the genocide suffered the same fate. By the time the massacre was over, five million Olympians had been killed, and the rest put into slavery.


While storming Lochos‘ palace, Perturabo came across his old foster sister Calliphone and strangled her to death after a furious argument where she blamed the Primarch for what had befallen their world. As Olympia died, Perturabo looked on in cold silence. After the pyres were burning, the Iron Warriors realized what they had done. They were no more the saviors of the Imperium, destroying the Hrud one moment and the next they were committing genocide. Perturabo realized the Emperor could never forgive him for what he had done. Horus, on the other hand, commended Perturabo for his decisive action and the Lord of Iron swore an oath of loyalty to the Warmaster. Horus made the most of the opportunity by presenting Perturabo with a hammer named Forgebreaker, the gift symbolic of a signing of a pact between them

Pertubabo swears fealty to the Warmaster

It was in that time that disturbing news of the Horus Heresy and new orders came from Terra. Leman Russ and the Space Wolves had attacked Magnus and his Thousand Sons on Prospero. Horus had turned renegade with his legion the Sons of Horusbesides some other legions. The whole of the Imperium was on the brink of a civil-war. The new orders were to join with six other legions and then to face Horus and his forces on Isstvan V.

The result of the following battle was that the Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Word Bearers and Alpha Legion all joined Horus and almost destroyed the three remaining loyal legions on the Drop Site Massacre. After that, the Iron Warriors were let loose, and Perturabo relished the opportunity to fight in a way that did not rely on massive sieges and trench warfare. Because of their massive deployment throughout the galaxy, dozens of Warsmiths took over planets and demanded tithes to support the heresy.

Perturabo showed his colors during the Dropsite Massacre

After the First Siege of Hydra Cordatus Perturabo was approached by Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor’s Children, who promised the Lord of Iron near unlimited power. The two embarked on a quest to tip the balance of the rebellion in Horus’ favor by journeying into the Eye of Terror and retrieve a weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus. After Fulgrim achieved Daemonhood, Perturabo ordered his fleet sail deep into the Eye of Terror.

Perturabo and the Iron Warriors next found themselves trapped by the singularity in the heart of the Eye of Terror. Perturabo gambled in his attempt to escape, diving straight into the Black Hole at its heart. Perhaps by sheer blind luck, they were transported far across the warp to the Tallarn System. Once arriving at Tallarn, Perturabo was made aware of the Black Oculus hidden beneath the planet, and he immediately drew up plans to invade. Eventually, the Iron Warriors search for the Black Oculus was exposed, and they were forced to withdraw from the planet.

Perturabo grew ever more weary and bitter during the Heresy.

Following Tallarn, the Iron Warriors were ordered by Horus to man a defensive line of worlds to hold off the Ultramarines, which with the death of the Ruinstorm were advancing towards the traitors rear. Perturabo dutifully oversaw these vicious, bitter sieges. Overstretched and under-equipped, the Iron Warriors once again bled for worlds far from the center of the war without thanks. Perturabo by this point had grown weary and darker, both from the effects of Fulgrim’s treachery and the corrupting effects of the Black Oculus.


Perturabo received orders from Horus to find Angron and bring both of their Legions for the muster at Ullanor in preparation for the drive on Terra. Despite having to abandon much of his forces as well as worlds he had fought so bitterly for, Perturabo obeyed the Warmaster and journeyed to Sarum with a small fleet in search of information of Angron’s whereabouts. Perturabo then traveled to Deluge, where he confronted the vicious and corrupted Daemon Primarch Angron.  After a hard duel with his Daemonic brother, both were ambushed by an Ultramarines fleet forcing Angron to create a Warp Storm the Iron Warriors and World Eaters fleets used to escape.

Siege of Terra

Perturabo proved to be a pivotal and primary traitor commander during the Solar War. During the campaign to capture the Sol System, he oversaw the capture of both the Uranus and Jupiter defensive spheres from the Imperial Fists. During the early stages of the Siege of Terra, Perturabo was not allowed to lead the siege of the Imperial Palace but instead fortify the Sol System against Guilliman‘s expected arrival, something that embittered him greatly. Nonetheless, the Lord of Iron was able to review bombardment data and surmise a weakness in the Palace’s Void Shield network.

Horus later met with Perturabo personally aboard the Vengeful Spirit, where while still compelled to obey Horus he now saw the Warmaster as little more to a slave to the Ruinous Powers. Perturabo studied all Warp lore he saw aboard the damned flagship, pledging to master the Empyrean and achieve powers similar to that of a god. Horus attempted to appeal to Perturabo’s pride, emphasizing how much he appreciated the Lord of Iron’s contributions and how he was the only Primarch he could still trust. Perturabo was however still denied the coveted duty of besieging the Palace, instead being ordered to clear landing zones for the traitor Titan‘s.

After weeks of fighting, the traitor war effort stalled in the face of the walls of the Palace and the Daemon Primarch‘s proved aloof and unreliable. Horus thus relied on Perturabo to conduct the main offensive push into the Lion’s Gate Spaceport. Hoping to overcome Dorn’s traps with bluntness, Perturabo put Kroeger in charge of the ground offensive while inserting Forrix and a unit of Iron Warriors behind enemy lines to seize key bridges into the Spaceport. However the attack stalled in the face of the Emperor’s psychic shield of the Palace, forcing Perturabo to rely on the Immaterium by having Zardu Layak and Typhus summon Cor’bax Utterblight to subvert the Imperial Palace’s population.[16a] During the main assault on the Lion’s Gate Spaceport, Perturabo revealed that Forrix and his men had been sacrificed as a ruse in order to draw away Imperial Fists defenses in order to allow the Iron Blood to dock with the Spaceport’s main spire. As Perturabo set down, Rogal Dorn met him on the field of battle. However Perturabo refused to be goaded into a battle by Dorn’s taunts, knowing the Imperial Fists Primarch simply intended to buy time for his troops to withdraw. Perturabo instead promised that only after he had tore down the Palace would he kill Dorn.

Following the fall of Lion’s Gate, Perturabo landed on Terra’s surface and set up a command center to direct the siege. With Horus increasingly losing touch with the Materium, it fell to Perturabo to command the war effort and he became the face of the enemy to the defenders of Terra. With the blessing of the Warmaster, Perturabo controlled his allies through a command staff that consisted of Abaddon and the Mournival, Ahriman, Typhus, Eidolon, and Krostovok. Perturabo directly connected himself to the traitor data network, absorbing enormous quantities of data and directing every facet of the siege with his own mind. In this state, commanding the greatest siege in history, Abaddon suspected that Perturabo was finally happy. In an uncharacteristically good mood, Perturabo praised Abaddon when he noticed the same flaw in the Saturnine Gate that he recently had also discovered. However Perturabo was worried that Dorn also knew of the flaw, and exploiting it would be a trap by his brother. As a result, he allowed Abaddon and the Emperor’s Children to attack Saturnine and suffer the losses and humiliation that would come with it should the assault fail. Sure enough, Dorn had known of the flaw and ambushed the traitors as they attacked.

Perturabo avenged himself against Rogal Dorn at the “Iron Cage”

Post Heresy

After fleeing Terra following Horus’ death, Perturabo took the opportunity to take vengeance on the Imperial Fists with a trap on Sebastus IV. The trap was known as the Eternal Fortress, a keep centered within twenty square miles of bunkers, towers, minefields, trenches, tank traps, and redoubts. Upon hearing of this, Rogal Dorn publicly declared that he “would dig Perturabo out of his hole and bring him back to Terra in an iron cage.”

Rogal Dorn expected an honorable battle, but this was not to be. Beginning by isolating the four Companies of the Imperial Fists from their orbital support, Perturabo began to carefully divide his enemy and destroy them piecemeal. Some Imperial Fists managed to penetrate the defenses and reach the center of the Eternal Fortress, only to find there was no central keep – simply an open space watched by yet more defenses. The fortress was a decoy of no real value, surrounded by twenty miles of killing ground. By the sixth day of the siege, Imperial Fists Space Marines were fighting individually, without support, using the bodies of their own battle brothers for cover.

The siege of the Eternal Fortress (later referred to as the “Iron Cage Incident”) lasted for a further three weeks. Relief came in the form of Roboute Guilliman and the Ultramarines, who drove off the Iron Warriors, but the siege left Rogal Dorn a broken man and rendered the Imperial Fists Chapter unable to fight for nineteen years. The gene-seed of over 400 Imperial Fists was sacrificed to the Dark Gods, and Perturabo was elevated to the rank of Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided.


Following this victory, the Iron Warriors fled to the Eye of Terror with and secured a new Daemon world named Medrengard, crafting a terrible fortress world where his soldiers ruled in vast towers. Perturabo’s stronghold, Fortress of Hate, is said to be the most redoubtable of Fortress worlds. Today, the Iron Warriors give their greatest loyalty to Peturabo for saving them from sacrifice in the name of the Emperor.

Appearance and Wargear

Perturabo’s primary weapon during the Heresy was the Thunder Hammer Forgebreaker, a weapon that had previously belonged to Ferrus Manus before being given to him as a gift by Fulgrim. For protection, Perturabo wore a highly modified suit of Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour known as The Logos. One of the most advanced suits of its age, it was equipped with a wide variety of support systems as well as a Teleport beacon. The Logos was also equipped with a pair of four-barreled wrist-mounted cannons.

Learn More of the Iron Warriors


~Pray adepts that such a fallen monster never sets sight on the Imperial Palace again.

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