White Scars: A Comprehensive History

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The Apocrypha of Skaros proves unconclusive as to the origins of the White Scars, most of the accounts are colored somewhat as they come from the White Scars themselves. One tale even asserts that Jaghatai Khan left Terra of his own volition to see the galaxy for himself. Most scholars do however accept that one way or another the infant Primarch arrived on the planet designated by Imperial Cartographers as Mundus Planus, or by the inhabitants as Chogoris. To this day Chogoris is a lush and fertile world, of crystal blue seas and soaring mountains. Imperial records state that the planet had reached a black powder state of technology by the arrival of the young Primarch.

At the time an aristocratic empire had conquered most of the planet through use of heavily armored cavalry and dense ranks of highly disciplined infantry, defeating every enemy they faced and ruled by a man known as the Palatine.

The history of the White Scars begins with Jaghatai Khan, who is widely accepted as one of the greatest strategists of all time. The best account of Jaghatai Khan's life is the work "The Great Khan of Quon Zhou" which is believed to have been written by one of the Khan's generals named Ogedei. The White Scars themselves have a significant number of accounts concerning Jaghatai Khan's exploits but these are mostly exaggerated tales.

To begin with the lands to the west of the Palatine's empire known as the Empty Quarter were wide desolate grassland steppes, populated by nomadic tribes, following a seasonal migration from summer ancestral plains, to sheltered valleys in the Khum Karta Mountains during winter. The Palatine's armies had not bothered invading the steppes as the desolate lands were of little value, though nobles would lead raids into the steppes to take whole tribes as slaves, or capture individuals to hunt for sport. Ogedei writes at length of the atrocities the Palatine's people committed, to the extent that some Imperial scholars have even postulated that the Palatine's empire may have been dedicated to worshipping one of the Dark Gods.

Nevertheless the tales tell that Ong Khan, the leader of the Talskars, discovered the young Primarch near the Quonon River. Believing the glowing child to be a gift from the gods Ong took the child into his family and gifted the Primarch with the name Jaghatai. From his discovery the tribesmen often said that Jaghatai "had a fire in his eyes" which was their saying for an individual marked out as a great warrior. Other tribes are said to have hated Jaghatai for his farseeing wisdom, even early in life.

In "The Great Khan" a passage known as "The Blooding" tells of how a rival tribe known as the Kurayed ambushed the Talskars, slaying many of their warriors and even killing Ong Khan. Jaghatai, already a proven warrior of the tribe, led a counter attack that annihilated the entire Kurayed tribe down to every man, woman, and child in a vicious, frenzied bloodbath. The crimson soaked Jaghatai even took the Kurayed Chieftan's head to mount over his tent. It was this event that set the tone of the Primarch's life, representing his ruthlessness, and devotion to honor and loyalty. Following the victory over the Kurayed tribe Jaghatai swore that he would bring an end to the futile internecine warfare of the steppe tribes, to bring an end to brother killing brother.

Upon his victorious return Jaghatai became Khan of the Talskars and led a campaign of conquest and submission over the steppes. Every tribe defeated in battle was brought into the Talskars, and as the Khan's army grew it became known as the "irresistible force" or Mathuli in the language of the Talskars. Jaghatai made military service mandatory and forced men of different tribes to serve in mixed units to remove tribal loyalties. He promoted loyalty to the army and by extension to himself above tribe, promoting men not by tribal status but on ability alone until his army became a driven, powerful force of a united purpose.

Ten years after the defeat of the Kurayed, Jaghatai and dozens of tribesmen were thrown from a sheer cliff face in a freak avalanche. Lamenting but unbowed the Mathuli continued into the mountain valleys. However Jaghatai survived where the tribesmen died.

Unfortunately however a raiding party led by the Palatine's son encountered a wounded tribesmen in the mountains and began to hunt him through the frozen valley's. While Jaghatai never spoke of what happened during that time, what is known is that a single mutilated rider returned to the Palatine with the head of his son hanging from the rider's neck, and a message from Jaghatai reading "the people of the steppes are yours no longer." The Palatine was furious and immediately following the spring melt he dispatched an army to wreak revenge on the people of the steppes.

In the Valley of the Khans on the Lon-Suen plain the armies of the Palatine met the forces of Jaghatai Khan. Though greatly outnumbered the far more mobile horsemen of the tribes circled the clumsy armored troops of the Palatine, slaughtering them with relentless bowfire. Jaghatai out-thought, out-maneuvered, and out-fought the armies of the Palatine, and though the battle lasted a day and a night only the Palatine and his personal bodyguard were able to break out and flee to the Capitol. The rest of the Palatine's army was slaughtered to a man and the field of battle was described as being filled with an ocean of blood at the fights end.

Following the great victory the Stormseers and Tribal Leaders gathered and proclaimed Jaghatai the Great Khan, Ruler of all Within the Lands. Following the proclamation Jaghatai launched an invasion of the Palatine's empire. Spearheaded by three armies of the Mathuli that attacked the outskirts of the enemies domain to draw out the Palatine's forces. The tales say that Jaghatai led an army through the Kuzil Quan desert that was believed to be impassable. Falling on the unsuspecting garrison at the city of Kushaba and slaughtering them. Other cities fell in short order, fields burned, bodies littered the streets and the few survivors spared from death prayed for deliverance from the Khan's unstoppable fury.

In the years to follow Jaghatai conquered the Palatine's lands, city by city, each facing the choice of surrender or total destruction, until only Cophasta remained, the stronghold of the Palatine's crumbling empire that lay on the eastern coast. Jaghatai Khan arrayed his army before the city and demanded that its inhabitants bring him the Palatine's head or he would destroy the city utterly and leave no stone standing upon another. Within the hour a group of nobles emerged from the city bearing the Palatine's head on a spear. Finally Jaghatai's influence stretched from sea to sea. The people of the Palatine's empire saw the savage tribesmen as daemons punishing them for their sins, and perhaps that was the case.

However while Jaghatai's armies had conquered the largest empire the planet had ever known, they were poorly equipped to rule it. The tribes were now organized extremely well militarily, but had not developed properly to settle and rule the lands they had conquered. The historian known as Carnipus, author of the history on the Great Crusade titled the Spectrum Historiale, notes that while Jaghatai's conquests had been completed in less than twenty years, they ended a remarkable six months before the Emperor reached Chogoris. When Jaghatai met the Emperor he knew he had met a man who embodied his dream and his ideals, who had the desire and the ambition to unite the stars. In his palace at Quan Zhou the Primarch dropped to one knee before all his generals and swore eternal fealty to the Emperor.

Jaghatai was given command of the 5th Legion, who became known as the White Scars and adopted the long facial scars of the Talskar tribesmen that extended from forehead to chin. While many of the Mathuli warriors joined the 5th Legion, Jaghatai passed Khanship to his general Ogedei.

The Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy

The White Scars adopted the tactics of the Talskar tribesmen, that were just as effective on horrific battlefields across distant stars as they were on the steppes of Chogoris. Many great victories were won and the White Scars fought alongside their loyal brothers in the defense of the Emperor's Palace. Jaghatai himself led a massive breakout through the traitor forces to seize one of the polar star ports allowing fresh troops and supplies to reach the beleaguered defenders.

However roughly seventy years after the Horus Heresy Jaghatai Khan and many of his Veteran warriors were lost near the Maelstrom, chasing Eldar reavers. The Dark Eldar plagued Chogoris while the White Scars had been away during the Great Crusade and had taken many captives. The Chapter legends say that Jaghatai was drawn into the infernal realm of the webway while fighting the leader of one of the Eldar Cabals to fight the xenos for all time. While some scholars believe this account to be simple myth and assert that Jaghatai and his ship were most likely lost in the warp, some scholars and Inquisitors better versed with the methods of the Dark Eldar have hypothesized that perhaps Jaghatai and his warriors were taken prisoner to be used as gladiatorial slaves. Such an occurrence is not unusual, there are some who believe Captain Cortez of the Crimson Fists suffered a similar fate. However such would mean that Jaghatai has been fighting gladiatorial contests for ten thousand years and not managed to escape. If the Primarch could not do so, or has gone mad, it is not a fate that bodes well for the Imperium.


While Jaghatai passed Khanship to Ogedei, the general was not a Primarch and soon the tribes returned to the steppes and to their warring ways. After a few years Chogoris had returned to much the same state that it had been before Jaghatai's arrival. Many scholars suggest that Jaghatai must have anticipated this and done so on purpose to keep his people strong and to provide future recruits for the Legion. Certainly this seems to have become the case. The Fortress Monastary of the White Scars is the palace of Quon Zhou atop the tallest and most inaccessible of the Khum Karta Mountains, which translates roughly to "The Mountains that Scrape the Stars." The marble fortress and its savage beauty are famed throughout the Segmentum though few outsiders have ever been permitted within its walls. Some accounts say that rivers and forests are contained within the palace filled with game for the Chapter Master to hunt.

To this day the Chapter Master of the White Scars is known as the Great Khan, and traditionally resides within the palace of Quon Zhou. Every ten years the Stormseers of the Chapter travel down to the steppes to observe the tribes at war and pick the most able candidates for initiation into the Chapter. For young tribesmen the pyre-tombs of fallen White Scars that dot the Khum Karta mountains are sites of great pilgrimage and it is a sign of great courage for any youth brave and strong enough to make such a pilgrimage and return.

Combat Doctrine

The Combat Doctrine of the White Scars has changed not at all since the days of the Talskar tribesmen. Lightning swift assault units strike in hit and run maneuvers, withdrawing before the enemy can react and never allowing their opponents to catch them in a pitched battle. Enemies who think they are engaging the White Scars head on find themselves flanked and assaulted from the rear by swift Scout Bikers and Assault Marines descending from the sky on jets of flame, their fearsome, ritually scared faces terrifying the foe. The White Scars practice ultra rapid deployment and combat styles, their forces entirely mobile, often on Space Marine Bikes, but also deploying via transports and drop pods, or equipped as Assault Squads. Initiates invariably born in the saddle are often deployed as Scout Bikers to keep up with their battle brothers. The White Scars form a far more mobile force than most chapters.


The primary organizational unit of the steppe people is the tribe, while fierce tribal loyalties and frequent internecine warfare equip aspiring youths with the skills they need to be chosen by the Stormseers, once a warrior is inducted into the chapter all tribal loyalties are replaced with loyalty to the Great Khan and to the Emperor. Men from different tribes are placed together in units to further dissolve former tribal affiliations and these squads are formed into units known as Brotherhoods. A Brotherhood is roughly equivalent to a Codex Company in size, though often they tend to be a bit smaller in actuality.

The White Scars do have some noted differences from a Codex Chapter. The Chapter fields no Devastators or Dreadnaughts, the rapid style of warfare the White Scars employ does not favor heavy weaponry, and the beliefs of the steppe people are horrified by the eternal confinement represented by the cold steel sarcophagi of the Dreadnaughts, the White Scars believe a fallen warrior's soul should be free to wander in the afterlife. Additionally few vehicles are fast enough for the White Scars, those they do employ tend to be stripped down versions modified to be able to keep pace with the rest of the army and traditionally the White Scars employ a significantly higher number of Bikes and Land Speeders than a normal codex chapter.

An interresting note is that the White Scars scouts do not wear the full chapter badge. They wear only the Lightning Bolt, the gold bar the bolt bissects in the Chapter badge is added after attaining the rank of full battle brother.


The White Scars share the beliefs of their Primarch, venerating the Emperor as the Ultimate Uniter, but not as a god. It is the White Scars belief that one day the Emperor will rise from the Golden Throne to begin a new Great Crusade and Jaghatai will return to lead the Chapter once more.

To the White Scars the lightning bolt is a potent and important symbol, representing their style of war and echoing their facial tattoos and the powers of the Stormseers. The Chapter believes that as long as the powers of air and land heed the call of the Stormseers the White Scars will never falter on the field of battle.


Originally the Gene-Seed of the White Scars showed no aberrations or mutations whatsoever and appeared pure. However with the introduction of the steppe tribesmen's genetic material the Gene-Seed appears to have taken on the tribal savagery of the Chogorians. Despite the discipline instilled in the marines by the Chapter tribal feuds have been known to occur between squad members, and occasionally the White Scars will go violently beyond their mission objectives such as with the infamous "Red Highway Massacre."

While the Adeptus Mechanicus does not know the source of this feral tendancy, whether it was a flaw in the gene-seed or a result of the tribesmen's genetic material, the White Scars successor chapters the Rampagers, Marauders, Destroyers and the Storm Lords are all equally as ferocious as their primogenitors and display the tactics and teachings of Jaghatai Khan just as the White Scars themselves do.

Famous Campaigns

Defense of the Emperor's Palace

The White Scars were one of the three loyalist Legions present during the Defense of the Emperor's Palace, alongside the Blood Angels and the Imperial Fists. However they did not participate in the teleport assault against Horus' flagship. Before that the White Scars launched a massive counter attack to break through the encircling siege of the traitor legions and capture one of the primary starports of Terra from enemy hands, this allowed the loyalists to receive fresh troops and supplies and stymied the morale of the defenders. While others attempted a similar assault on the second major starport the attack failed, lacking the brilliance of Jaghatai Khan's leadership and the White Scars mobile proficiency.


During the 3rd War for Armageddon the White Scars deployed several Brotherhoods in the region known as the Deadlands, an area of freezing ice wastes. In the Deadlands the White Scars proved highly capable of responding to the attacks of the Ork Speed Kults.

The Orks had planned to cut off Armageddon's supply of Oil and fresh water by destroying the pipelines from the processing and trilling stations in the freezing wastes. Due to the shifting ice terrain the pipes were made of flexible armored segments supported on pylons to shift with the moving ice flows. The White Scars were determined that the Orks would not succeed and the Battle of Dante's Canyon in the opening days of the war proved the effectiveness of the White Scars combat doctrine.

The Dante's Canyon oil-drilling platform was located between the St. Capeline water processing plants and the Lemaire Channel, and was built on a fragile shelf of ice in the side of a sheer canyon. Suspensor fields and anchor lines held the platform just over the edge of the ice so that it could drill the oil fields below in relative safety. The thin ice proved deadly to the initial Ork assault that saw Ork trukks and dreadnaughts fall through the ice to their deaths in the frigid water.

Learning form their predecessors mistakes the White Lightning Speed Kult created customized trukks and buggies mounted on skis to traverse the ice fields, however the White Scars were prepared for this and the Tulwar Brotherhood lead by Suboden Khan launched a counter attack of lightly armored bikers and attack bikes. The swirling vehicle battle lasted into the night until the ice fields became too treacherous to traverse and both sides were forced to disengage.

The next morning the Orks attempted to attack the platform across the ice and with stormboyz from the cliffs above. Charges laid on the ice field the night before plunged the overland assault into the freezing waters and disciplined fire from Tactical Squads repulsed the airborn attack. When the Orks attempted to cut the securing cables above White Scars Assault Squads led by Suboden Khan himself attacked them from behind. Suboden personally beheaded the Ork leader and threw his corpse from the cliff face, to be followed by the remaining Orks shortly, their bodies swept away in the currents of the Tempest Ocean.

The 13th Black Crusade

During the 13th Black Crusade the first of the White Scars Brotherhoods to reach the Cadian Gate was the Brotherhood of Khajog Khan, a hero of Armageddon and many other campaigns. Khajog set about launching a series of devastatingly successful hit and run attacks across the bleak moors of Cadia. The attacks were so successful that the White Scars soon became a significant threat to Abaddon's plans and the sieges of Kasr Myrak, Soliq and Rantik were lifted as the forces of the Great Despoiler redeployed to hunt down the elusive White Scars.

Khajog's Brotherhood proved literally too effective, as their actions earned the direct attention of Abaddon, who ordered the Brotherhood immediately hunted down and exterminated by a full force deployment. Dispatching no less than the first company of the Black Legion along with massive hordes of cultists and slaves Abaddon began the hunt through the bleak moors.

Uknown to Khajog, Abaddon's chief sorcerer Zaraphiston located the White Scars through his divinations, and Khajog's forces were ambushed as they attempted to assault a slave train west of Lake Terror. The first four bike squads that hit the slave train found themselves charging directly into the guns of Abaddon's Chosen. Realizing they were beaten the White Scars continued their charge nonetheless, selling their lives as dearly as possible to give their brethren time to break away. Reluctantly Khajog retreated to regroup, swearing to return and wreak vengeance on Abaddon's forces.

However that was not to be, Khajog did not get an opportunity to return in the manner of his choosing, for every exit was blocked by the uncountable hordes of the despoiler's forces. Instead of trying to retreat further Khajog determined to make a last stand at the base of a Pylon on the shores of the Caducades Sea.

The White Scars crashed into the innumerable ranks of the traitor forces, dragged from their saddles one by one until at last only Khajog remained. Khajog Khan was the last to fall that day, finally dragged down by the sheer weight of numbers arrayed against him. The Stormseers of the Chapter say that to this day Khajog's spirit roams the bleak moors of Cadia, unwilling to return until vengeance is meted out to those who slew him.

The Sabbat Worlds Crusades

The White Scars fought in both Crusades through the Sabbat worlds, first at the side of Saint Sabbat, and  later with the forces of Warmasters Slaydo and later Macaroth to retake the Sabbat Worlds from chaos. The Chapter fought in many warzones and many battles throughout the Sabbat Worlds during both Crusades, and an honor guard of eight White Scars Space Marines were the ones who carried Saint Sabbat's fallen body back to her homeworld and her final resting place. The shrine of Saint Sabbat contains eight ritual niches each filled with a life sized holographic projection of a White Scars Space Marine.

Color Scheme

The White Scars Color Scheme is pure white with red shoulder pad trims. However the armor of many White Scars marines is covered in ritual red lightning bolt and scar markings on their arms, legs, and helmets. The White Scars represent great achievements on the battlefield through ritual facial scarring, and thus veteran White Scars marines will often paint representations of their facial scars on their helmets as an outward symbol of their greatest victories and honors.


"For the Khan and the Emperor!"


Index Astartes: White Scars
Index Astartes: Emperor's Shield
Index Astartes: The Eye of the Storm
Armageddon Campaign Official Website
The Saint Omnibus
Horus Heresy Artbook Series
Index Astartes: Scouts

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