How Were the Death Guard Before the Heresy? LORE

By Juan Lopez | July 8th, 2017 | Categories: Death Guard, Lore, Warhammer 40k

death guard nurgle chaos hor

The Death Guard, once servants of the Emperor, survived the harsh realities of their world and took pride in their resistance to poisons and diseases.

Via our good friends at Lexicanum

The Death Guard, formerly known as the Dusk Raiders, were the XIV Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Mortarion, who relocated their base to his homeworld of Barbarus after his discovery by the Emperor. During the Horus Heresy, Mortarion and the majority of the Legion swore allegiance to Horus, becoming one of the nine Traitor Legions who betrayed the Emperor. After Barbarus was destroyed during the Heresy, they relocated to the Plague Planet inside the Eye of Terror. Because of Barbarus’s toxic environment, the Death Guard took great pride in their resistance to poisons, disease, and mortality in general. This fascination led them to worship the Chaos God Nurgle and in return he infests their armor with pestilence and disease, and elevated Mortarion to a Daemon Prince.

mortarion primarch lore

The base gene-seed stock of the Dusk Raiders, originally known as the XIVth Legion, came from Terra or more specifically the warlike and tough clans of Albia. In the Unification Wars the XIVth Legion quickly developed the use of tactics and methods of warfare that their ironside fore-bearers would have found familiar. Operating in the role of heavy infantry, they were experts at survival, endurance, and stubborn defense. Their grey Power Armour began to carry battle decorations as well as the modified imagery of Albia.


As the Unification Wars came to an end and the Great Crusade began, the Emperor gave them the title of the Dusk Raiders, a nod to their use of the ancient Albian tactic of conducting major ground attacks at twilight when the shift of light confused an enemy’s watch and gathering shadow would advance across open ground. The Dusk Raiders’ armor was originally unpainted, but with their right arm and both shoulders colored crimson. This was done with the intent to show their enemies that they were the Emperor’s red right hand, relentless and unstoppable.

Many enemies simply threw down their weapons at nightfall so they didn’t have to fight the terrifying Dusk Raiders. For more then eight decades the Dusk Raiders fought across the Galaxy in the Great Crusade, earning a fierce reputation by failing to reunite with their Primarch.

Death Guard

When Mortarion was found by the Emperor upon the troubled world of Barbarus, he was swiftly given control of his Legion. Upon first seeing them he told them, “You are my unbroken blades. You are the Death Guard.” The Legion’s name was then changed in accordance with this decree, and Mortarion’s words engraved above the airlock door of the Battle Barge Reaper’s Scythe in honor of the moment. Mortarion based the new Death Guard on his armored toxin-resistant fighters of the same name that had fought beside him on Barbarus.

Their armor’s colour was changed, and whilst their main armor remained unpainted, the trim color became dark green. Mortarion’s veterans of Barbarus formed the core of his new Legion.

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