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Warhammer 40K: The Galaxy’s Greatest Warp Storms

7 Minute Read
Sep 14 2023

From the Great Rift, to the Eye of Terror and more, examine the greatest warp-storms that vex a troubled galaxy.

The galaxy is beset by all manner of warp storms that are a constant source of danger to space travel. But most of these come and og over time and are limited in scope. Some warpstorms are seemingly stable, eternal and enormous in scope, acting as permanant obstacles to galactic travel that only the most foolhardy wound enter voluntarily.

The Great Rift

The Great Rift, known to the Imperium as the Cicatrix Maledictum, is a new chain of catastrophic Warp Rifts that has divided much of the Galaxy.

This new tear in reality was created at the end of the 41st Millennium during the Thirteenth Black Crusade following the destruction of Cadia. The origins of the Great Rift remain a mystery, with theories ranging from it forming due to the destruction of the Cadian Pylons at the end of the 13th Black Crusade, to sorcery used by Magnus the Red during the Siege of the Fenris System, to the awakening of Ynnead, mass bloodshed in the Damocles Gulf, and the reaction of the Ruinous Powers to the rebirth of Roboute Guilliman. Guilliman speculates that the Rift formed after Abaddon strategically destroyed worlds rich in Blackstone over ten thousand years, with the destruction of Cadia as its trigger. All that is truly known is that its emergence was a literal galaxy-shattering event that divided the Imperium in half and ushered in new wars across nearly every world in the Emperor‘s Empire. In a catastrophic event known as The Blackness, many worlds of the Imperium were cut off and overwhelmed by the Forces of Chaos as Warp Travel and Astropathic communication were rendered nigh-impossible.

The Fall of Cadia was linked to the creation of The Great Rift.

So powerful and far reaching was this Warp Storm, that the very laws of physics have begun to fray and the inconsistencies of time fluctuations, once largely localised to larger storms such as the Eye of Terror, have spread across the entire known galaxy. Since the Great Rift’s creation, some worlds have felt centuries go by in an instant, while others have been all but frozen in time and still others have suffered constant temporal shifts.

The Great Rift is variously known by the cultures of the galaxy as the Crimson Path, the Mouth of Ruin, the Warpscar, the Dathedian, Gork‘s Grin and a thousand other names besides. Space Wolves and folks of Fenris named Great Rift as Everdusk. To the Tau, the Great Rift is known as the Mont’yhe’va or “Devourer of Hope”, for its stellar storms killed millions of Tau and left many colonies devastated. To the Imperium though, it is the Cicatrix Maledictum, and it appears to those on the western side of Segmentum Solar as a tainted scar across the sky. To those unfortunates on the eastern side of the Segmentum, however, now known as the Dark Imperium, it is far worse.


In response to this new catastrophe, the Primarch Roboute Guilliman, now Lord Commander of the Imperium’s armies, has launched the Indomitus Crusade. Its aim is to liberate those Imperial worlds that now find themselves embattled by the forces of Chaos, following the Great Rift’s creation. The Indomitus Crusade was able to exploit at least one passage through the Great Rift, located near the Eye of Terror in the Nachmund Gauntlet. Inside the Rift itself, the Gods of Chaos have embarked in an extension of the Great Game, battling one another for supremacy in what has become known as the War in the Rift.

The Eye of Terror

The Eye of Terror (Ocularis Terribus, Anathema Nonplus Ultra (Ordo Malleus)) is a massive Warp rift, where the Warp co-exists with real space, the largest and most well-known in the galaxy. It is located at the edge of the galaxy, to the north and west of Terra, in the Segmentum Obscurus.

The Eye of Terror is an area of the galaxy where the Warp and realspace overlap. A ship can enter the Warp without a Warp drive simply by crossing its border. The area used to be the domain of the old Eldar empire. When Slaanesh was born, the energy of her birth permanently breached the veil between realspace and the Warp, so now all the planets and stars that existed in that area are now within the Warp. These worlds have become daemon worlds. At the very center of the Eye lies the “byssos”, a hole in the fabric of reality through which raw Chaos energy pours out.

Imperial ships avoid the area around the Eye for thousands of light-years. Ships traveling too close to the Eye can be thrown far off course – they can also be caught in temporal whirlpools which carry them backward or forwards in time, or which trap them in limbo forever.

Origin of The Eye


The Eye of Terror is not a natural phenomenon. The Eye was created by the psychic shock wave that accompanied the birth of the fourth Chaos God, Slaanesh, during the Fall of the Eldar.

The shock of the birth was so great it could not wholly be contained within the Warp, but spilled out into reality through the minds of the Eldar. Consequently, the Eye covers most of the region of the former Eldar Empire. Other zones of overlap were created, but the Eye is the most significant.

Some time at the dawn of the Imperium but before the Horus Heresy, the Eye of Terror was discovered by Imperial explorers in what was presumably a fairly remote region of the galaxy, and Imperial scholars named it Cygnus X-1.

A Chaotic Refuge

The Eye offers a sanctuary to the worst forms of traitors and heretics forced to flee from Imperial justice.

For the Traitor Legions, the Eye of Terror has been their exile, sanctuary, and safe haven for ten thousand years, from which they strike out at opportune, seemingly random moments. The Eye is also a sanctuary for the most heretical renegades, fugitives of Imperial justice, and traitors throughout the galaxy, and all are welcomed as fellow enemies of the Emperor and the Imperium.

The Maelstrom

Second only to the Eye of Terror in size, scope, and intensity, The Maelstrom is a massive Warp Storm and spatial vortex that lies near the center of the Galaxy. A place where the material universe and the Warp overlap, the laws of physics do not apply and it is infested with all kinds of cosmic horrors, such as Daemons and hordes of Chaos Mutants. Off limits to the Imperium, it has served as a refuge for pirates, brigands, outcasts, and Chaos Space Marines.


A volatile region to live in, the Imperium struggles to retain control over the regions of space surrounding the Maelstrom Zone. The whole region itself is plagued by unpredictable spatial phenomena such as ionic reefs, null zones, and nomadic singularities. Warp travel is also highly unpredictable and hazardous, and this perhaps more than any other factor is responsible for the fact that the Maelstrom Zone has remained untamed by the Adeptus Terra.

Regions of the Maelstrom were the site of the infamous Badab War in late M41. After his defeat at the end of the Badab War, Lufgt Huron, master of the Astral Claws escaped into the Maelstrom. Currently the Maelstrom is the home of the Red Corsairs on the world of New Badab.

During the Thirteenth Black Crusade, the Maelstrom became a part of the Great Rift which spans the Imperium from one side to the other.

Storm of the Emperor’s Wrath lies due north of the Maelstrom, and east of the Eye of Terror.

Storm of the Emperor’s Wrath

The Storm of the Emperor’s Wrath is a warp storm that appeared in M36, during the Age of Apostasy, soon after Sebastian Thor openly rebelled against Goge Vandire. The storm’s strength and persistence are enough that, millennia later, it still rages to this day enveloping the Clax system and isolating it from the rest of the Imperium.

Saint Sebastian Thor

To crush Thor and his rebellion, Vandire sent a great Imperial Naval fleet, carrying the armies of the Frateris Templar. As the fleet attempted to cross through warp space to Dimmamar, the storm engulfed the region, destroying the entire fleet. The storm was considered the Emperor’s will incarnate, a sign taken by Thor that Vandire had to be overthrown and the Imperium reorganized.

Learn More of Warp Storms



Author: Larry Vela
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