Vulkan was one of the twenty Primarchs created by the Emperor of Mankind to lead his Great Crusade and reunite the scattered peoples of humanity. His Space Marine Legion was re-named the Salamanders in his honour. As with all the Primarchs, Vulkan inherited an aspect of his father. However for him this was the unique ability of being a perpetual, making him essentially immortal. Vulkan was able to regenerate fully from any injury, including a death that would vaporize him completely. This ability was unknown to him until the Horus Heresy, and during the Great Crusade he gained a reputation for his empathy towards average humans as well as his craftsmanship abilities.
When the Primarchs were scattered from the Emperor's laboratory, Vulkan arrived on the planet Nocturne during the Time of Trial as an infant and was soon taken in by the blacksmith, N'bel. N'bel raised Vulkan, and the young Primarch considered him his father. The people of his home town were astounded by this child, for within the space of three years, he was stronger and bigger than any man in his town. In addition to his massive physical size, he was the quickest mind, and the greatest blacksmith anyone knew of. Indeed, it was not long before Vulkan himself was teaching forging techniques to the people that had not yet been discovered.[Needs Citation]
The people of Nocturne were frequently raided by Dark Eldar. They were so used to this common occurrence, that each person in town had developed their own hiding place to avoid capture. When the Dark Eldar raided again in Vulkan's fourth year on Nocturne, the Primarch refused to hide and instead stood out in the centre of the settlement, his two smithing hammers crossed over his shoulders. The people of Vulkan's town were so inspired by his example that they joined him and prepared to defend their town. With a Primarch leading the defense, the people of the town decisively defeated the Dark Eldar. Within weeks the leaders of the seven largest towns on Nocturne had traveled to meet Vulkan, and they soon swore never again to hide from the raiders.[Needs Citation]
In celebration of the Primarch's victory over the Eldar raiders, a tournament was decided to be held. Unexpectedly, a stranger arrived in the middle of the festivities. Of pale complexion and wearing outlandish clothing, the stranger asked only to be allowed to compete. When he announced that he could best anyone in the town, the people laughed at this outlander. Who could possibly beat Vulkan in any feat of intellect, strength, craftsmanship or endurance? Nonetheless, Vulkan and the stranger wagered that whoever lost the tournament would forever serve the victor. Lasting 8 days, the contest included many tests of strength and endurance such as the anvil lift (in which the two held anvils above their heads for a half day before the contest was called a tie). The number of contests is unimportant, however, for by the end of day 8, Vulkan and the stranger were tied.[Needs Citation]
In the final event, both contestants were given 24 hours to construct a weapon, before using said weapon to hunt down and slay the largest salamander they could find. Climbing a high mountain, the two each went out to find a drake. Vulkan quickly found and killed a very large Fire Drake. However, on his way back, the mountain he was standing on - which coincidentally was a volcano - erupted, casting Vulkan over a cliff. Hanging for dear life over the precipice, Vulkan was determined to hang on to his massive Salamander. Thus, he found himself hanging by one hand from a cliff with his other hand clutching the tail of his drake.[Needs Citation]
Hanging there for hours, Vulkan's strength eventually ebbed away until he knew he must decide between the drake and his life. At that moment however, the stranger arrived, carrying his own drake. Even from the edge of the cliff, the Primarch could tell that the outlander's drake was indeed bigger. Seeing Vulkan in distress, the stranger acted quickly, tossing his drake into a lava flow that separated them and using it as a bridge to cross to the Primarch. After hoisting Vulkan out of his mortal predicament, the stranger walked with him back to town, leaving his own drake to burn in the river of molten rock.[Needs Citation]
Though the Outlander's Drake had been superior in size, he had thrown it away to save Vulkan, and when he returned to town with the Primarch empty-handed, Vulkan was declared the victor. To the amazement of his people however, Vulkan kneeled before the stranger and said that any man who would value life over pride was worthy of his service. At this moment, the Outlander cast off his illusionary disguise and revealed himself to be the Holy Emperor of humanity. Thus it was that the Primarch, Vulkan and his Emperor were reunited.[Needs Citation]
It is believed that at first Vulkan did not become unified with his own Legion for some years after his rediscovery, instead staying alongside the Emperor under his tutelage and fighting by his side. When Vulkan was eventually reunited with his Legion, it was at the head of a fleet of 3,000 new recruits which saved his forces from a massive Ork horde.
Eventually it was decided that Vulkan's legion of Space Marines would henceforth be known as the Salamanders, in honour of the beast that had united him with his father. The Primarch continued to serve loyally throughout the Great Crusade.[Needs Citation] At some point during the Great Crusade, Vulkan and his Legion participated in reconquest of a world designated One-Five-Four-Six (locally known as Kharaatan) together with the Night Lords led by their Primarch, Konrad Curze, and Mechanicum Titan Legion Legio Ignis and several Imperial Army regiments. During this campaign, Vulkan became enraged by how Curze and his Legion waged war after he found out that the Night Lords had killed the inhabitants of a whole city in order to seed fear amongst the population. This confrontation between Vulkan and Curze resulted in a brief but fierce argument between the two primarchs. After conclusion of this campaign, Vulkan reported Curze's behaviour and actions to Warmaster Horus and primarch Dorn of the Imperial Fists. However during the battle against Kharaatan's ruling Eldar coven, Vulkan flew into a rage when the Remembrancer Seriph was killed and killed a surrendering Eldar child. This incident would haunt the Primarch deeply.
On the world of One-Five-Four Four Vulkan and his army came into contact with tribes of primitive humans living alongside Exodite Eldar. Surprisingly, the humans did not welcome the Imperial invaders. Vulkan was guided by a mysterious Remembrancer (later discovered to be a psychic projection of the Emperor) to a Webway Portal. After a vicious battle the Portal, Vulkan came across human tribals preparing to sacrifice a Dark Eldar woman. The Humans had learned to fear the Dark Eldar raiders, and sought to sacrifice her to ward off their return now that the Exodites had been defeated. Moreover, Vulkan realized that the Dark Eldar woman was from the raiding parties that terrorized Nocturne in his youth, and these humans were descendants of Nocturne captives liberated by the Eldar. Vulkan realized the Emperor had guided him here and understand that these humans would never accept the Imperium over their Eldar liberators, ordered the planet cleansed. He sought to erase any trace of Human-Xenos coexistence.
Vulkan was present alongside Ferrus Manus and Corax at the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre. During the battle the majority of the Salamanders Legion was killed by nuclear missiles fired from the Iron Warriors. Due to his Perpetual regeneration abilities, Vulkan survived the explosion but found himself surrounded by hundreds of warriors from the Iron Warriors and Night Lords. Fighting to what he thought was his death, Vulkan was stabbed, shot and bludgeoned in unconsciousness. Seeing a chance to torment his brother, Konrad Curze took Vulkan prisoner. The Primarch of the Night Lords spent the next several months trying to both break Vulkan's spirit and trying to kill him. Curze personally cut Vulkan's head off, ripped out his throat with a fork, stabbed him through the chest and tore him limb from limb. Separately he had Vulkan eviscerated, shot with hundreds of bolters at close range, left in the venting shaft of a starship's engine and even thrown in empty space completely naked. Each time Vulkan died his body would regenerate completely, leaving Curze furious. Eventually, frusterated and bored with his inability to kill Vulkan, Curze decided to get Vulkan to admit he was no less a monster than himself. Curze had several Davinite Priests ensnare Vulkan's mind and run him through trial after trial, ensuring he failed each time and innocents died. When Vulkan would not break, Curze decided to end things in a duel. He made Vulkan navigate a maze designed by Perturabo, at the center of which lay Dawnbringer, Vulkan's personal hammer, as well as the corpses of several of his comrades. When Vulkan retrieved his hammer he managed to overpower Curze and activated a teleporter built into the head of the hammer. Vulkan was transported across the Galaxy into the upper atmosphere of Macragge and burnt up during reentry, confident he would wake up in the care of the Ultramarines
His charred body was later recovered by the Ultramarines, who at first were unable to identify the corpse as anything more than a grotesque statue - all living matter having burned up on reentry. Over a series of days Vulkan's body began to regenerate, eventually returning to life and shocking the Ultramarines Apothecaries he had been entrusted to. Realizing who it was, the apothecaries summoned their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, who was at first furious that no one could give him any answers as to how or why Vulkan had suddenly fallen from the skies. To Guilliman's horror he found that Vulkan was broken mentally; violent and incoherent, attacking anything and everything he could. 
Unknown to everyone, a bond of sorts had formed between Curze and Vulkan, the later being able to sense when the Night Haunter was nearby. Curze was indeed on Macragge, having been trapped aboard the Invincible Reason but eventually breaking out of the Dark Angels flagship and stealing a drop pod to the surface. Vulkan broke free of his bonds and pillaged Guilliman's private armory before setting off to hunt Curze. The two fought across an entire city, Vulkan finally realizing his regenerative abilities and using them to his advantage; by focusing his will, he could regenerate much quicker. At one point Curze shot Vulkan's head off, causing the primarch to fall from a cliff. Vulkan was back alive before he hit the ground.[6a]
Their rolling duel was eventually stopped by the perpetual, John Grammaticus, who had been charge by the Cabal to permanently kill Vulkan with the Fulgurite, a petrified bolt of the Emperor's own psychic abilities. The Cabal had ordered Grammaticus to give the Fulgurite to Cruze, as only a Primarch could kill another Primarch. But before he could complete his mission, Eldrad Ulthran appeared to Grammaticus, convincing him that if he himself used the Fulgurite to kill Vulkan, he would give up his perpetrual nature forever, but in exchange completely restore Vulkan's mind. The presences and abilities of another Primarch in the Emperor's armies would tip the balance against Horus. Grammaticus stabbed Vulkan through the heart, killing both of them in a psychic explosion. Grammaticus regenerated, as he always did, but was aware this would be his last life. Vulkan never recovered. [6b]
Later, Vulkan's corpse was reclaimed by the Primarchs Guilliman, Lion El'Jonson and Sanguinius. Vulkan was placed in a stasis-capsule, hand-crafted by Guilliman himself, with the words Unbound Flame carved into the side. The few remaining Salamanders who had made it to Macragge were allowed to stand guard over their fallen Primarch until such time as he could be returned to Nocturne. During their vigil, the Salamanders thought they heard a heartbeat coming from the casket, but dismissed it.[6c] Convinced he could be resurrected, an expedition back to Nocturne led by Artellus Numeon eventually was able to bring Vulkan's body back to Nocturne and with Numeon as the final sacrifice, Vulkan was restored from the Unbound Flame at Mount Deathfire.
Little is known about him after this point. There are very few records - if any - of him fighting in the heresy after this point. It is also claimed he was one of the Primarchs to oppose the Codex Astartes. This however, would not be for lack of courage or loyalty, however, but due to the crippling losses sustained at Isstvan V, where his Legion was cut down in size to but a few. Following the heresy, Vulkan chose to leave the Salamanders, claiming that, like Space Wolves Primarch Leman Russ, he would return in the End Times. That is the last anyone saw of Vulkan for the next 1,500 years.
War of the Beast
1,500 years later, during the War of the Beast, Vulkan reappeared, single-handedly defending the Imperial world of Caldera from a massive Ork invasion. Though he died many times against the Greenskins, he would regenerate and appear again at the forefront. Vulkan's one-man-war on Caldera was unveiled by the Inquisition, and Lord Commander of the Imperium Koorland led an expedition to the world to recruit him for a counteroffensive against the mighty Warboss known as The Beast. Vulkan was eventually discovered by the expedition but refused to lead it until Caldera was saved, citing a vow long ago he made to the world to never again let it fall to flame. With the aid of the Imperial forces, Vulkan was able to save Caldera from destruction by destroying the Attack Moon construction generator.
After saving Caldera, Vulkan returned to Terra with Koorland. He took command of the frantic Imperium, scolding the High Lords for their squabblings and inefficiency but stating he would not purge them for the sake of unity. He then proclaimed that he would lead the might of the Imperium to Ullanor, the homeworld of The Beast. Vulkan made clear that his return was temporary, for he was destined to reappear for another war in another time.
Vulkan officially led the subsequent crusade to Ullanor to find and slay the Beast once and for all, but in truth left most of the details to Koorland who he gave his full support to. Instead, Vulkan tinkered with Doomtremor and remained isolated in his chambers aboard the Fists Exemplars Battle Barge Alcazar Remembered. Though this discouraged many at first, Vulkan lept into the fray of battle directly when the Imperial forces reached the "capital" city of Ullanor, Gorkogrod. Vulkan eventually led the final charge into the Beast's massive temple-Gargant and confronted the Warboss directly. Realizing that Vulkan had always intended to fight the Beast alone and knowing he could do little in the fight, Koorland ordered an evacuation from the temple as the two giants clashed. The ten meter-high Warboss revealed he spoke perfect Imperial Gothic, gloating that humanity was on its knees and he would be its end. Vulkan tackled the Warboss and they both fell into the temple-gargants power generator, where the Primarch became imbued with massive amounts of Waaagh! energies. Rather than be consumed by the energies as so many other men had, Vulkan used his primal and savage essence to become one with it and launch one last attack. He slammed Doomtremor into The Beast's face and detonated the generator, causing a chain reaction that shattered the temple-gargant and seemingly obliterating them both.
Vulkan was presumed dead by the Imperium and Koorland stated that his sacrifice would be forever remembered. However, the Salamanders still hunt him in the 41st Millennium. They believe that he will return to them after they have found all nine of the Artefacts of Vulkan
Like his brother Primarchs, Vulkan has a characteristic that sets him apart: his patience and humanity. Though possibly gene-bred into his temperament, this was also likely influenced by his upbringing in a small village. He demonstrates this characteristic many times on One-Five-Four-Four. Vulkan constantly gives commands in the heat of battle that cause the least amount of casualties to the native population against the advise of Ferrus Manus and even his own men. It is spoken of among his brothers that Vulkan is the most suited to their Father's vision of a peaceful Imperium.
Vulkan is the largest and physically strongest of all the primarchs. He is said to be as tall in his power armor as Horus is in his own, much larger Terminator armor, and is capable of overturning Space Marine battle tanks with his bare hands. During sparring matches with his brother Primarchs, Vulkan deliberately held back out of fear of hurting them.
Words of Vulkan
During his lifetime, Vulkan left prodigious philosophical writings, particularly those recorded in the Tome of Fire, a vast series of writings that, amongst other more mundane teachings, are said to hold glimpses of the future and prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Yet even the more mundane of his writings held profound lessons, many of which have gone on to become key tenets of the Promethean Creed.
‘Ours is a violent calling, but as adherants of the Promethean Creed we believe in the Circle of Fire. None can come back as they once were, but in death we are returned to the ash from whence we came to be born anew, our blood and bone bonded with the earth. Through fire are our remains made protean, through fire and the reunion with earth do we experience rebirth. After death, after our duty is ended, we give ourselves to these elements and in so doing become a part of them. This is the nature of the Circle of Fire.’ – Words of Vulkan.
Vulkan was equipped with many finely crafted weapons built by his own hands. Most notable of these was the massive Thunder Hammer Dawnbringer and the Plasma Pistol The Furnace's Heart. Before forging Dawnbringer (originally intended as a gift for Horus), Vulkan used the Hammer Thunderhead. For protection he wore the Baroque Power Armour known as The Draken Scale, which included the Gauntlet of the Forge and Kesare's Mantle. 1,500 years later during the War of the Beast, Vulkan wielded the hammer Doomtremor.
He forged thousands of unique and dangerous artefacts in his lifetime, but charged the first Forgefather, T'kell, with destroying them as he departed for Isstvan V. He conceded to allow T'kell to spare seven, which were to be locked away in the Wrought if Vulkan fell at Isstvan. These seven, along with the Gauntlet of the Forge and Kesare's Mantle worn by Vulkan at Isstvan, survived to become known as the nine Artefacts of Vulkan, and are still sought out today.
The name Vulkan is derived from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, volcanoes and smithing.
|I - Lion El'Jonson · II - Unknown · III - Fulgrim · IV - Perturabo · V - Jaghatai Khan · VI - Leman Russ · VII - Rogal Dorn · VIII - Konrad Curze · IX - Sanguinius · X - Ferrus Manus · XI - Unknown · XII - Angron · XIII - Roboute Guilliman · XIV - Mortarion · XV - Magnus · XVI - Horus · XVII - Lorgar · XVIII - Vulkan · XIX - Corvus Corax · XX - Alpharius Omegon|
- 1: Index Astartes IV, [Needs Citation]
- 2: Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 93
- 3: Promethean Sun (Novella) by Nick Kyme, [Needs Citation]
- 4: Vulkan Lives by Nick Kyme, [Needs Citation]
- 5: The Horus Heresy Book Two - Massacre pg.117
- 6: The Unremembered Empire by Dan Abnett[Needs Citation]
- 7: Forge World Video Feed - Genesis of a Primarch: Vulkan (site accessed 2014.09.03)
- 8: Scorched Earth (Novella) by Nick Kyme[Needs Citation]
- 9: Rebirth by Nick Kyme[Needs Citation]
- 10: Deathfire (Novel)
- 11: The Hunt for Vulkan (Novel) Chapters 5-9
- 12: The Beast Must Die (Novel) Chapter 18-Epilogue
- 13: Promethean Sun (Novella)
- 14: Artefacts (Short Story)
- 15: Sons of the Forge (Novella), Chapter Three