Night Haunter (what an embarrassingly juvenile affectation) betrayed everything he supposedly stood for himself when he joined Horus's rebellion, and then committed suicide by imperial assassin in a useless attempt to reclaim a moral high ground that never existed. That's the problem with all of the primarchs, and why none of them are or ever were suitable warmasters in the crusade against the Imperium. For each and every one of them, the rebellion was a personal matter, a family squabble over sibling rivalries, adolescent demigods battling for their father's approval and then against that father when they thought they weren't getting it, not because they thought he or his vision were wrong, but because that vision, wrong or not, didn't happen to sufficiently pamper them.
Horus was weak, Horus was a fool, but he wasn't the only one. The emperor spoiled his children. He gave them everything, and it made every one of them weak and petty and selfish. The primarchs were, and the surviving ones still are, too high and holy. Too close to the divine, to the point that they, like their father, were blinded by the light of their own halos. It was inevitable, really. When the fate of the universe really does revolve around you, you lose the capacity to envision a cause bigger than yourself. Hubris becomes a black hole, your thoughts incapable of escaping the gravitational weight of your own ego.
If the so-called Emperor is a false god, then so by necessity were his children false demigods. Unworthy of their legions. Unworthy of the galaxy those legions conquered through their own strength and sacrifice.
But if we're going to get into Night Lords in particular, we should consider the survivors of Curze's legion, rather than their meaninglessly dead and rightfully forgotten primarch, as they provide an excellent example. ADB's much lauded trilogy highlights exactly the natural fate of all chaos-rejecting chaos marines - inevitable decline and death. The overt lesson of the most iconic Night Lords narrative in the setting is that Talos, and by extension Curze, was *wrong*, and that the supposedly degenerate, chaos-embracing elements of not just the 8th legion but the heretic astartes in general were actually right all along, finding strength and vitality where the nostalgia obsessed, ironically backwards-facing seer in his hubris only managed to lead his own warband from failure to failure down a path to near extinction.
Embracing the power of the warp does not necessarily mean submitting to the worship of one specific god, but it does mean consorting with daemonic allies where other allies do not exist, experimenting with arcane energy sources where other energy sources cannot be found, exploiting the strength of possession and mutation where other sources of strength have failed, and thinking in terms of symbolism where purely literal thought has buckled under the weight of insanity - with symbols ranging from runes of power daubed in blood to weapons and armor that grow physical horns and teeth and claws because they are the tools of a predator and in a reality defined by the wild fancies of the communal subconscious 'seeming' and 'being' are one and the same.
For those who, for so long, lived within the overlapping warp and realspace of the Eye of Terror, personal belief or worship had nothing to do with any of this, it is simply the fundamental rules of the reality they found themselves in, and a traitor marine who refused to accept that fact is as hopelessly doomed as if they had decided to wage war on the very air they breathed. Acting in self interest is not what prevents the Iron Warriors or the Red Corsairs or any other Chaos Marine faction from embracing the power of the warp, it's what *demands* it.
When you don't have access to the resources of a galaxy spanning empire, regular ships rust and corrode and fail for lack of maintenance and material and fuel, while possessed ships can be sustained on sacrificial flesh or draw energy from the warp itself, and can repair damage organically as a living creature might heal its wounds. The puritan traitor marine's autocannon runs dry of ammo and stutters to a stop, while the empowered chaos marine's continues to fire arcane shells of its wielder's consolidated hatred. The close-minded tech's incurious designs fail in the unnatural environment of the eye, or else require tools that he simply no longer has the capacity to maintain. The enlightened Warpsmith bends impossible materials into inconceivable shapes, wires them to the undying psychic legacies of unimaginably ancient atrocities, and then steps back as the nightmare factory they've created gives birth to an endless line of daemonic war engines that even they could never have contemplated.
In short, this:
Is not only what Iron Warriors look like in 40k now, it's what the *always should* have looked like in 40k, and the 3.5 era fluff and fiction that tried to pretend this or *any* legion not only did but *even could* remain unchanged and ideologically free from the influence of chaos after turning from the Emperor's path and taking refuge from the imperium's vengeance in the dubious shelter of permanent warpstorms like the Eye or the Maelstrom was always a failure to apply basic elements of the setting's core concept.
The warp changes those exposed to it. It warps them. Its influence cannot be willed away any more than the forces of nature. Like a tree caught in a hurricane, you bend with the wind, or it breaks you. 3.5's version of the chaos legions, where they mostly entered the Eye fully formed and never changed in all the time since, completely undercuts the power and presence of the warp in 40k.
At least, imo.
I am, after all, a Black Legion player, so I would see things this way.
Edited by malisteen, 23 March 2019 - 12:52 PM.