The Night Lords were the VIII Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch was Konrad Curze, also called the Night Haunter. The Legion turned traitor during the Horus Heresy, after which it fought its way across Imperial space in a bloody campaign that culminated with the death of Konrad Curze at the hands of an Imperial Assassin. Since the loss of their primarch the Night Lords have based themselves in the Eye of Terror and now operate as a somewhat fragmented terror force who seem to go to war only to slaughter or acquire material possessions.[1a]
While most certainly Chaos Space Marines, the Night Lords scorn all forms of faith and respect only temporal and material power[1a]; indeed, many of them consider themselves free of the taint of Chaos and despise those they deem to be so corrupted.
|Marine||Basic Data||Current Symbol|
The homeworld of the Night Lords was Nostramo, a world of perpetual night.[1a] Plagued by both systematic corruption and endemic violence, Nostraman society was radically altered and pacified by the actions of the Night Haunter, at least for a time. Eventually however, conditions on the planet backslid to the point that the VIII legion primarch ordered its destruction.[1a] Nostramo has not existed as a world for ten thousand years, although traces of its once presence can still be found by those who know where to look.[2a]
Originally known as the VIIIth Legion, the Night Lords first recruits were from the stinking ancient prisons of Terra. Here the children of prisoners were raised in the dark and among death, and these pale "Night's Children" made perfect Astartes recruits. The Legion saw its first use when the Emperor deployed them against the Terran Saragorn Enclave, who despite having surrendered to the Imperium during the Unification Wars still continued banned psy-breeding experiments. The Emperor's retribution on the Enclave was viciously carried out by the VIIIth Legion.
The Lord of the Night
After his discovery by the Emperor, Konrad Curze underwent a period of training under the tutelage of Fulgrim, primarch of the Emperor's Children, who introduced him to not only wider military strategems, but also Imperial culture, specifically that of Terra itself. Following this period, Curze was placed at the head of his legion, who are known to have adapted to his philosophies quickly and with diligence, as well as intelligently transforming the primarch's beliefs into military tactics. Curze's experiences upon Nostramo in his self-appointed role as the Night Haunter had instilled in him the philosophy of terror, whereby he had inspired obedience to the law by fear of extreme punishment. This societal philosophy translated into the military tactics of swift, sudden and decisive strikes often carried out to excess, as well as making sure the enemy knew who had hit them. The Night Lords therefore developed a practice of regularly using excessive force to defeat their enemies, as well as publicising these actions so that other potential transgressors would be well aware of what could happen to them should they break faith with the Imperium.[1a]
This approach made the Night Lords well-suited for dealing with worlds brought into the Imperium during the Crusade who were subsequently lax in achieving full compliance, or who even threatened to rebel. They were heavily utilized as a force that solidifed the Imperium's grip after initial pacification was achieved; as this sort of endeavor mirrored what Curze did as the Night Haunter on Nostramo, the Night Lords excelled at reinforcing the Emperor's will - through fear. To increase their effectiveness in this regard, Curze encouraged the Night Lords to decorate their power armour with death imagery. The legion soon gained a tremendously terrifying reputation, one that would cause many planetary rulers to immediately make good any outstanding tithes, make sure Imperial laws were being followed and sometimes would entirely stop an incipient rebellion at the mere rumour of Night Lord retaliation.[1a].
As the Great Crusade wore on and the Night Lords began to slowly receive replacement Marines from Nostramo (which had meantime fallen back to its pre-Night Haunter ways), the criminal element of Nostraman society, including murderers and rapists, began to fill the ranks[1a]. This, in addition to Curze's probable insanity, initiated a downward spiral for the Legion.
While it may be possible that the Emperor tacitly or even secretly authorized the Night Lords' excessive tactics, the legion was eventually questioned over its increasingly extreme sanctioning of Imperial citizenry, especially by some of the other primarchs, a brotherhood that Curze had never felt a part of. Apart, that was, from Fulgrim. When his brothers began to turn on him, Curze turned to his tutor and supposed friend for counsel and confession. A sufferer of prophetic visions apparently all of his life, Curze told Fulgrim of his own great fear; that he had forseen the Emperor killing him and that the Legiones Astartes would endlessly battle each other in a perpetual civil war. Fulgrim, shocked and worried by Curze's behaviour and mental state, informed their brother Rogal Dorn (who was present in the same warzone as Curze and Fulgrim at the time) of these visions and claims. Dorn then confronted Curze over what he saw as this dishonourable besmirchment of the Emperor's name; the conversation came to blows, with Curze beating his brother bloody. Subsequently accepting being placed under arrest for this action, Curze entered confinement to await the judgement of the other Primarchs.[1a]
Such a verdict was never made, as before a conclave of the primarchs could be made, Konrad Curze decided to refuse the entire process and escaped from detention, slaying members of the Imperial Fists and Emperor's Children in the process. He swiftly rejoined his legion and took his fleet to Nostramo, the planet that had betrayed him, where he ordered all the ships in his fleet to fire upon the single weakness in the planet's adamantium crust, causing it to be destroyed.[1a]
Although the Night Lords had gone rogue, the Horus Heresy erupted before anything could be done about it.
The Horus Heresy
Despite having gone rogue, the Night Lords were one of the seven Legions dispatched to destroy the gathered Sons of Horus, World Eaters, Death Guard, and Emperor's Children at the Isstvan system. While records do not clearly explain why an apparent rogue legion was tasked to join the loyalist Astartes force charged with exterminating the traitors, at least one account puts forth the view that the Imperial justice system was both so slow and so unsure of how to deal with the Night Lords that the Imperial military commanders issued the order anyway, in their hurry to assemble a powerful force with which to crush Horus.[1a]
Upon Isstvan V, the Night Lords, alongside the Word Bearers, Iron Warriors, and the Alpha Legion, turned on the loyalist Legions who had arrived earlier and took part in the Dropsite Massacre.[1a] Upon decimating the Raven Guard, Iron Hands, and the Salamanders, the Night Lords returned to the galactic east and began an apparently unfocused genocidal campaign; most likely this was designed to stop any support from this area reaching Terra.[1a] Eventually however the Night Lords fleet was ambushed and badly mauled by the Dark Angels at the climax of the Thramas Crusade, with one fifth of the Legion confirmed destroyed. Worse still for the Night Lords, Curze himself had been badly injured and rendered comatose by Lion El'Jonson during the debacle, forcing Sevatar to take command of the Legion and organize a regrouping. Sevatar would divide the fleet into six parts and order their commanders to scatter. Fortunately for the Night Lords, Curze would eventually recover.
Horus Heresy Aftermath
Upon Horus's defeat, the Night Lords continued their bloody pogrom upon the Galactic East. While nearly every other Legion had been decimated in the fighting and all the other traitor Legions had begun retreating to the Eye of Terror, the Night Lords legion remained unified and retained the bulk of their pre-Heresy numbers. This heavily concerned the High Lords of Terra, who debated what could be done to cease their predations.[1a]
This eventually led to Konrad Curze being assassinated by a Callidus Assassin. Curze had visions of this event all his life and therefore chose to allow the assassin to kill him on the world of Tsagualsa, where the Night Lords had built a fortress of living flesh. Curze felt that this assassination vindicated his philosophy of life and every action he had taken in enacting it.[1a] Before his death, Curze left strict orders that the assassin was to be allowed to carry out her mission and escape, as well as apparently passing leadership to the Talonmaster Zso Sahaal, First Captain of the legion. These orders were not fully carried out.
Refusing to allow the assassin to escape, the Night Lord named the Soul Hunter, an apothecary of the 10th Company, pursued her with intent to kill; a solo pursuit that was joined by a significant portion of the legion's senior officers when it transpired that the assassin had also looted several of Curze's possessions believed bequeathed by him to legion's command cadre. Chief amongst these officers was the heir-apparent Zso Sahaal, who succeeded in boarding the assassin's vessel and retrieving the Corona Nox; a symbol of Curze's authority he believed was now to be his. However, Sahaal's own ship was attacked by Eldar raiders almost immediately he returned to it and vanished into the Warp, not to be seen again for almost ten thousand years. As for the Soul Hunter, he slew the assassin in the manner of the Night Lords.
In Midnight Clad
The Night Lords have operated as raiding forces ever since, conducting terror raids in much the same style as they did whilst under the Imperial banner, only now fueled by the hate and desperation brought on by the Long War, as well as the malign influences of Chaos. While the warband of Krieg Acerbus is noted to be the largest and most chaotic in operation, many of the other warbands adhere more rigourously to the example set by their primarch, deploying as organised Legiones Astartes and often with specific military goals.
A particular goal of the Night Lords ever since the death of their primarch at the hands of the assassin M'Shen has been the recovery of her pict-log of the assassination. The investigations of the Soul Hunter, then an important member of the Exalted's warband, led to the discovery of a copy of this recording, which allowed the Night Lords legion to witness their primarch - to all intents and purposes, their father - for the first time in ten millenia. A copy of it was ordered disseminated throughout the legion.
The Great Crusade
- Vhnori Resurgence - Pacification action.
- Battle of Velekshar - Anti-Ork fleet action.
- Cheraut - Pacification action. The location where Konrad Curze struck Rogal Dorn and surrendered to Imperial judgement, before rejecting it and taking his legion rogue.
- The Winnowing - Pacification action.
- Nostramo - Exterminatus action; the legion destroyed their own homeworld with concentrated lance firepower, shattering it apart.
The Horus Heresy
- Isstvan V - The Drop Site Massacre.
- The Thramas Crusade and Eastern Fringe Genocide- Diversionary campaign; continuing even after the defeat of Horus, though suffering a severe defeat at the hands of the Dark Angels, the Night Lords were only stopped by the assassination of Konrad Curze.
- The Aschen War - Several warbands of Night Lords fall under the control of the Daemon Prince known as the Horned God.
- The Te'Oran Scouring - Systematic extermination of the planetary populace by Virus Bombing.
- The Orpheus Revolt
- The Culling of Grendel's World - Systematic extermination of the entire planetary populace.
- The Fall of Vilamus - The Night Lords warband of the Exalted aid the Red Corsairs in sacking the fortress-monastery of the Marines Errant Adeptus Astartes. Combat breaks out between the Night Lords and the Red Corsairs in the aftermath.
- The Khai-Zhan Uprising - The Nightlords aid the planets populous in revolting against the Imperium, eventually becoming embroiled in one of the most bitter urban battles in recent memory.
- Scound's Fall - The Night Lords raid an Imperial world a mere one hundred light years from Terra itself.
- 13th Black Crusade - The Night Lords fighting alongside Abaddon the Despoiler unleash great terror upon the people of the Cadian Sector.[10b]
The geneseed of the Night Lords apparently remains surprisingly pure, especially for a legion that has turned from service to the Emperor. It has been theorised that the Night Lords' avoidance of overt Chaos worship has spared their gene-seed from degradation, but even leaving this aside, the stability of it is notable even when compared to that of the loyalist First Founding Chapters.
Having said that, Curze's genetic legacy does have particular effects on those so altered. Firstly, all Night Lords sport jet black eyes and very pale skin (although quite how much of this comes from geneseed and how much from having a Nostraman background in those Night Lords from the doomed night-planet is unclear). Secondly, some of the Night Lords can sport varying degrees of Konrad Curze's precognition ability. In most, these are only momentary (or even subconscious) glimpses or intuitions about the future that can result in paranoid behaviour - for Curze and his children seem more inclined to forsee negative outcomes than any other type - but in the rare few full precogs amongst the Night Lords, these visions appear as painful, violent seizures that can last for many hours. These prophetic seizures can be quite detailed, as well as show many possible futures, allowing certain Night Lords warbands to pick and choose their next moves with advance information...although Imperial scholars hope that, like their gene-sire, the Night Lords precognitives are driven to choose to self-fulfill the negative futures they see due to the believed inherent mental instability possessed by the Curze line. The most notable Night Lords precog is the aforementioned Soul Hunter, also known amongst his warband as The Prophet.
The Night Lords were and largely still are, skeptics. Possessed of no (un)holy crusade, no unifying belief, martial creed or even bonds of honour, they exist merely to reap the spoils of their actions and terrify those they despise. Most of them (though far from all) have little to no interest in Chaos itself and shun the company of those that do. Their use of terror tactics and fondness for piracy and salvage operations are the only common themes found amongst them.
The desire to cause fear is central to what philosophy the Night Lords have. This has become ritualised, to the extent that each Night Lord goes out of their way to affect a terrifying appearance, having their armour heavily artificed with symbols and imagery of death and nightmare such as skulls, skeletons, winged maws, lighting etc. Any edge gained over an opponent - including psychological ones - is important to the Night Lords. As a result, it is not uncommon for Night Lords to own a variety of personal weapons (some ornate, ancient and very deadly) and to prize them highly.[1,2] A development of the Night Lords terror-tactics is that of dominance; the Night Lords believe in theoretically achieving it before beginning a combat action in the first place, and will go out of their way to gain a superior position over the enemy, using psychological warfare for some time before the attack, or stealth-tactics in order to infiltrate the battlefield or set up in ambush. Night Lords, while not averse to enjoying the slaughter they cause, do not simply engage in battle for the enjoyment in brings; they only fight when they intend to win, and win easily and well. A Night Lord will attempt every underhanded trick he knows before engaging in a straightforward, stand-up fight.
It is known that the Night Lords recruit through a variety of methods. One such method is collecting children-survivors of worlds they attack.
Another is to pick up other Chaos Marines from other Warbands. However, they can also lose numbers the same way.[6,2]
Night Lords have also been known to abduct infants to help replace fallen Astartes and choose recruits from conquered worlds.[8,18]
Noted Elements of the Night Lords
- The Corona Nox
- Nightfall - Glorianna-pattern battleship, flagship of Konrad Curze.
- Umbrea Insidior - Battle Barge, assigned to the 1st Company 
- Hunter's Premonition - Battle Barge of Halasker's warband.
- Terrorclaw - Battle Barge, assaulted by The Sanguinor
- Covenant of Blood - 10th Company/The Exalted's warband.
- Echo of Damnation - Talos' warband.
- Excoriator - Sister ship to the Covenant of Blood
- Faithless Song - Endeavour Class Cruiser
- Serpent of the Black Sea
- Lies of Dawn
- Konrad Curze (Night Haunter) - Primarch of the Night Lords
- Jago "Sevatar" Sevatarion - First Captain
- Zso Sahaal (Talonmaster) - First Captain
- Krieg Acerbus (Axemaster) - Captain
- Halasker - 3rd Company Captain
- Malcharion (The War-Sage) - 10th Company, Captain
- Vandred Anrathi - Sergeant, 10th Company, First Claw
- Talos Valcoran (Soul Hunter) - Apothecary, 10th Company, First Claw
- Orrin Valzen - Chief Apothecary
- Mawdrym Llansahai - Flaymaster
- Krieg Acerbus (Axemaster) - Warband leader
- Halasker - Warband leader
- The Exalted - Warband leader
- Tarraq Darkblood - Warband leader[10a]
- Talos (Soul Hunter/The Prophet) - Warband leader
- Hodir - Warband leader
- Zso Sahaal - Exile
- Lucoryphus - Leader of the Bleeding Eyes
- Hemek - Warband leader[11b]
- Malcharion - Chaos Dreadnought, known as the War Sage
|Loyalist||I - Dark Angels · V - White Scars
VI- Space Wolves · VII- Imperial Fists
IX- Blood Angels · X- Iron Hands
XIII- Ultramarines · XVIII- Salamanders
XIX- Raven Guard
|Traitor||III- Emperor's Children · IV- Iron Warriors|
VIII- Night Lords · XII- World Eaters
XIV- Death Guard · XV- Thousand Sons
XVI- Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus · XVII- Word Bearers
XX- Alpha Legion
- 1: Index Astartes II
- 1a: pp. 20–27
- 2: Soul Hunter (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 3: Lord of the Night (Novel) by Simon Spurrier
- 4: The Dark King (Short Story) by Graham McNeill
- 5: Throne of Lies (Audio Book) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 6: The Core (Short Story) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 7: The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 8: Blood Reaver (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 9: Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), p. 42
- 10: Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition):
- 11: Void Stalker (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 11b: p. 438
- 12: Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition) p. 51
- 13: Imperial Armour Volume Ten p. 126
- 14: Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition) p. 23
- 15: The Masters, Bidding (Short Story) by Matthew Farrer
- 16: Prince of Crows (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 17: Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition) p. 12
- 18: Nightfall by Peter Fehervari
- 19: The Horus Heresy Book Two - Massacre p. 92
- 20: Index Astartes: Death Company, pp. 9–10
- 21: Honours (Short Story), pg. 3