Salamanders: A Comprehensive History

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Salamanders: A Comprehensive History

"Into the Fires of Battle, Unto the Anvil of War!"

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The Legion

The XVIII or 18th Legion of the Adeptus Astartes, the Salamanders, has a legendary history throughout the Imperium dating back to the days of the Great Crusade when the Emperor himself strode across the stars. For ten thousand years the Salamanders have defended the Imperium with their flesh and blood, the Sons of Nocturne have fought in furious battles all across the Emperor's domain. Despite this honorable history the Salamanders chapter has known both glory and tragedy, dating back to the horror of the Horus Heresy itself.


Vulkan, Primarch of the Salamanders, is one of the better known of the mighty leaders of the Adeptus Astartes. The ancient texts of the people of Nocturne known as the 'Promethean Opus' tells of the coming of Vulkan. The legends of Nocturne tell of a fiery commet that blazed across the sky. Whether this was actually the arriving Primarch, or simply a sign of his coming is not known. What Promethean Opus tells Imperial historians is that Vulkan was discovered one morning by the blacksmith N'bel, who took the infant child before the ruling council of Nocturne. Recognising the infant as the possible saviour of their visions, and with no one willing to take the child as their own, the Elders decreed that N'bel should raise the young child as his own son. N'bel accepted and named the boy Vulkan, after the first king of the mighty Salamander lizards that roam Nocturne's volcanic wastes.
Vulkan's growth was unbelievable, within three years Vulkan was larger than any Nocturne adult and his skill had surpased even his father's renowned skill. Soon Vulkan began to teach the people of Nocturne the deepest secrets of metal working, alloys, folded steel and other advanced methods, improving the already considerable abilities of the Nocturne artificers.

However in Vulkan's fourth year on Nocturne the Eldar came once more to his father's settlement, intent on raiding and pillaging. The towns folk had long since learned to hide in ingenious ways from the Eldar, but Vulkan declared that he would hide from no one. Standing in the center of the village with a mighty smith's hammer in each hand held across his chest he stood defiant. Emboldened by Vulkan's courage the men of the village rose from their hiding places to join the mighty Primarch. At the forefront of the fighting Vulkan is said to have slain more than a hundred Eldar raiders that day, throwing the invaders back, the sadistic and decadent Dark Eldar fleeing before the Primarch's wrath.

News of this stunning victory spread quickly across Nocturne and soon the head men of the seven most important villages came to pay homage to Vulkan. Going so far as to declare a mighty feast featuring tests of arms and skill in honor of the Primarch's achievement. It was at the start of this festival that the Emperor appeared. Known only as the Outlander, pale of skin and garbed in strange things the people of Nocturne nevertheless allowed the stranger to join in their festivities.

The Emperor declared that he could best any man at any test, to which the people of Nocturne laughed, believing none could be keener of mind or body than their super human leader. Nevertheless Vulkan agreed and for eight days the Primarch and the Emperor competed in many tasks, neither able to best the other by much, both fairly well matched in prowess and endurance, until finally they came to the last challenge, the salamander slaying.

Each contestant had a day and a night to forge the best weapon they could, and then they would go out and bring back the largest Salamander they could find. For a full day and night Vulkan and the Emperor worked, neither slowing or pausing to rest, Vulkan forging a mighty hammer, the Emperor a keen edged blade. When their weapons were forged Vulkan declared that he would climb mount Deathfire, the volcanic mountain where the largest firedrakes could be found. The Emperor declared he would go wherever Vulkan did. Both set off, climbing the mountain with astonishing speed and soon lost to sight. Yet soon the sounds of battle came down the mountainside and the flames of the salamanders could be seen licking the sky.

Vulkan was first to find a mighty Salamander, cleaving it's head from it's body with a single sweep of his gleaming hammer. The Emperor however spied an even greater drake further up the mountainside and set off after the salamander. Vulkan however took his prize and started down the mountain though ill fate quickly befell him. Mount Deathfire came alive with a tremendous erruption, throwing Vulkan over a precepice where he held on one handed for hours, grimly determined not to lose his prize even if it mean his life.

As Vulkan's grip began to slip the Emperor appeared on the other side of a laval flow, carying a salamander that was indeed greater than that which Vulkan had felled. Vulkan was too proud to call for help but the Emperor realised the Primarch's peril, and throwing his prize into the lava as a bridge the Emperor rushed to Vulkan's aid, pulling the Primarch to safety even as his kill was consumed by the torrent of molten rock and metal.

Upon the pair's return to the settlement the judges declared Vulkan the winner, for the stranger had no prize at all, yet Vulkan silenced his people and bent knee to the Emperor, swearing that any man who valued life over pride was indeed worthy of his service. It was then that the Emperor revealed his true form and the people of Nocturne fell to their knees. Since that day Nocturne has been the home of the Salamanders Legion in honor of the mighty beasts.

The Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy

Vulkan led the Salamanders in many successfull campaigns during the Great Crusade, winning a great deal of honor through the Legion's many accomplishments. Nevertheless the shock of Horus' to Vulkan and his legion. Reacting immediately the entire Salamanders Legion joined up with the Raven Guard and Iron Hands to strike at the traitors on the planet of Istvaan V. The three legions would be the first in two waves, to be backed up by the Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Word Bearers and Alpha Legions upon their arrival as a second wave. So it was that the three loyalist legions brought the fight to Horus, smashing into his defences with brutal power and driving the traitors back. Nevertheless all three legions suffered significant cassualties in the opening of the fighting, and upon the second wave's arrival the Raven Guard and Salamanders pulled back to allow their brother legions a chance to fight. Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands refused to fall back and pressed the attack. But it was at that moment that Horus' brilliant trap was revealed. As the Raven Guard and Salamanders approached the drop site the second wave revealed their treachery, opening fire on their brothers to devastating effect. At the same time the apparent route of the Sons of Horus, the World Eaters, Death Guard and Emperor's Children suddenly halted and the traitors pressed their attack. The Iron Hands were cut off and slaughtered to a man, the veteran Morlocks cut down and the Primarch Ferrus Manus beheaded by Fulgrim.

The Salamanders and Raven Guard could do nothing to help the Iron Hands, forced to make a costly break out with precious few of their forces. Those Thunderhawk and Storm Bird gunships that lifted off and escaped Istvaan V were far fewer than those that had landed. Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard was badly wounded and Vulkan's fate was unknown for some time. The remainder of the Iron Hand's legion arrived to find their veterans and Primarch dead and the Salamanders and Raven Guard had been reduced to a fraction of their full strength, both legions nearly wiped out. There was nothing more either could do and both Legions returned home to rebuild as fast as they could in the hopes of returning to the fight. So it was that Vulkan and his Salamanders returned to Nocturne in defeat, steeled to rebuild and take revenge on Horus and his traitors.

Homeworld- Nocturne

The homeworld of the Salamanders is the volcanic planet of Nocturne. A devastated and hostile planet, valuable only for it's rich mineral resources, Nocturne is a harsh home for humanity. Yet the people of Nocturne are a hardy and honorable folk, living a semi-nomadic existence to stay alive in the ever changing landscape of Nocturne. This is caused by the erratic orbit of Nocturne's giant moon, causing gravitational forces that cause extreme tectonic activity on Nocturne, leaving the planet in a state of constant change, covered in flows of molten lava.

Once every Nocturne year (approximately fifteen Terran years) the moon and the planet orbit each other so closely that the planet is thrown into an era known as the "Time of Trial" lasting a quarter Nocturne year long. Ash blankets the sky and tidal waves wrack the harsh oceans. The planet is thrown into a deep cold winter and endless earthquakes that level villages and kill many of the population and most of the live stock that can normally survive on the planet.

Despite these mad conditions the Time of Trials is a great boon to the people of Nocturne. The shifting planet causes new veins of ore to open up and allows the people of Nocturne access to immensely rich bounties of precious gems, gas and metal ore that can be traded off world for what resources the planet needs. In particular this mineral wealth is a huge bargaining chip and trade good for relations with the Adeptus Mechanicus and with this wealth the Salamanders purchase what little equipment they cannot produce themselves. It is in this way that the people of the volcanic planet are able to flourish in such a harsh land.

Ever since the discovery of Vulkan, Nocturne has been the home of the Salamanders Legion, yet the world is not suitable for a fortress monastary. So the Salamanders built their mighty bastion on the airless rock of Nocturne's giant moon, Prometheus. The Fortress is for the most part a massive star port with a linked orbital dock where the Chapter's fleet can repair and restock. Nevertheless the Astartes of the Salamanders spend little time in their fortress, when not fighting the Chapter's marines live and train on Nocturne, living amongst their people. This makes the Salamanders one of the few Chapters in the Imperium to live so closely with non astartes.

Combat Doctrine and Beliefs

The Salamanders operate largely as a codex chapter, however they have a few notable preferences. The Salamanders focus on close ranged fire fights, and use a greater number of flamer and melta weapons to burn their foes, blasting through the enemy and frying whole swaths of infantry. Also the emphasis on craftsmanship on Nocturne means the Salamanders can create and maintain a significant number of advanced technologies and the chapter has access to a great many suits of Terminator and Artificer Armor, Thunder Hammers and Master Crafted weapons, made possible by their skill at artifice and their rich mineral resources and it is this capability that gives the Salamanders a great deal of trading power with the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Primary among the Salamanders is the Promethean Cult, which places a great deal of emphasis on being self sufficient, self sacrificing and loyal and who's primary images are the flames of the forge and the smiths hammer. It is the qualities of the Promethean cult that are valued so highly in smiths and which go hand in hand with the Cult's teachings and is a prime reason for the Cult's prominence in the Salamander's Chapter. Contests in the Chapter often involve walking over coals and carying red hot metal. Ritual scarring is also commonplace and usually involves branding or burning the flesh.


The Salamander's Gene Seed appears to be pure and no known corruption is evident. Some point to the slightly slower reflexes of the chapter but it is unknown whether the cause is a defect in the gene seed or whether it is due to the Chapter's dogma or Nocturne's high gravity. It is also known that the Chapter was the smallest Legion during the Great Crusade and no known second founding chapters exist. It is debated whether any later founding chapters were created from Salamanders stock and some point to the Storm Giants and Black Dragons, especially the defects and mutations evident in the Black Dragons. Though those who have tried to scrutinise the Salamander's gene-seed have been openly ridiculed given the prowess and honor of the Salamanders and their mighty deeds in the service of the Imperium and the Emperor.

Famous Campaigns

The Second and Third Wars for Armageddon

The Salamanders were one of the many Chapters that fought in the Third War for Armageddon, but the Salamanders were one of the most legendary, their feats on the field of battle against the orks only matched by the zealous Black Templars of Rogal Dorn. Vulkan's sons fought with honor and distinction despite the fact that the Salamanders primarily fought rear guard actions, defending supply convoys and escorting refugees. Despite the lackluster duty of such tasks the Salamanders performed relentlessly, holding back every attacking Ork Horde and defending tens of thousands of refugees, the honor of the Salamanders earned the admiration and respect of thousands of Imperial Guardsmen and Imperial Citizens and gave the chapter a legendary reputation amongst the people of the Imperium as stalwart and honorable allies, a trait not common in many of the more unpredictable chapters.

When Gazkull waged his second war on Armageddon the Salamanders brought most of their Chapter to the fray including Chapter Master Tu'Shan and his Firedrakes, taking the fight to the Orks in their crashed Rokk fortresses, killing untold thousands of orks and destroying fully three of these massive fortifications. The Orks have been made to pay for their invasion by the Sons of Nocturne.

The 13th Black Crusade

While it is fairly certain that the Salamanders fought during the 13th Black Crusade, the exact details of their actions are not known, but it is unthinkable that the wrath of the Salamanders was not added to the defence of the Imperium. Perhaps in time the tale of the Salamanders participation in that mighty war will be known.

The Badab Uprising

The Salamander's were one of the chapters that participated in the Badab Uprising, serving the Imperium by destroying the Astral Claws and their wayward allies.

Cleansing of the Ymgarl Genestealers

The Salamander's aided in the discovery and destruction of the Ymgarl Genestealers, who were later found to be a race of Tyranid bio forms who had reverted to a feral state so far seperated from the Hive Mind.

Chapter Organization

The Salamanders Chapter comprises only 7 Companies. The 1st Company is of course the Veteran Company, comprised of the elite of the Chapter known as the Firedrakes. The 2nd through 4th Companies are the battle companies, which are composed of 7 tactical, 2 assault and three devestator squads, and the 5th and 6th Companies are the reserve companies. The 5th company has 8 tactical and 4 devestator squads, while the 6th company has 4 tactical and 8 devestator squads. The 7th Company is the scout company and generally comprises only 60 Scouts, while all 6 of the other companies include an average of 120 marines at any given time.

Fleet Composition

2 Battle Barges
10 Strike Cruisers
5 Rapid Strike Cruisers
220 Thunderhawks

Notable Characters

Primarch Vulkan- Primarch of the Salamanders, dissapeared following the Horus Heresy.

Chapter Master Tu'Shan- Current Chapter Master of the Salamanders, personally participated in the 3rd War for Armageddon.

Captain Mulceber - Captain of the 5th Company
Captain Nubean- Captain featured in the Short Story "Know Thy Enemy".
Captain T'sen

Chaplain Xavier- Special Character from 3rd Edition Space Marines codex. Carries Vulkan's Sigil into battle, an ancient relic of the chapter.
Chaplain Hasdrubael- Supported Chaplain Xavier's acceptance into the chapter.
Chaplain Ramesis- Chaplain featured in the short story "Know Thy Enemy".

Dreadnought Amadeus - Quoted in the 3rd Edition Space Marines codex.
Dreadnought Su'Matr - Dreadnought, former Master of the Forge

"Nocturne's Hammer"- The oldest Rhino in existance, belongs to the Salamanders.
"Vulcanus" - Vindicator
"Fire Drake" - Land Raider Crusader of the 3rd Company

Notable Wargear

Salamander Hide Mantle
Earliest Imperial Records of durable cloaks worn for protection come from Nocturne in the form of the Salamander Hide Mantles. Cloaks constructed from the tough hide of the mighty Salamander's that roam Nocturne, the cloak provides it's wearer with amazing protection from all manner of dangers. Later this technology spread in the form of Adamantine Mantles to many other Chapters.

Vulkan's Sigil
A symbol of office supposedly carried by Vulkan himself into battle, the sigil is a holy relic of the Salamander's and is carried into battle in recent times by Chaplain Xavier, a legendary figure of the Salamander's chapter.

List of References

Index Astartes- First Founding- Salamanders
Index Astartes- First Founding- Salamanders
Codex: Armageddon
Codex: Space Marines- 3rd Edition- Chaplain Xavier
Horus Heresy Art Books
Let the Galaxy Burn: "Know Thy Enemy"
WD #269
WD #248
WD #249 AU
Imperial Armour Volume 2

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