A small but well-established warband of renegade Astartes, the Dragon Warriors are known for their terrifying skill at close-range firefights. The sight of a Dragon Warrior's flame-red armour is often the last thing an unfortunate enemy will witness before their vision erupts into an inferno of promethium and warpfire. Though sometimes found acting as a mercenary vanguard for a greater Chaos incursion, patterns established by Imperial observers suggest that the Dragon Warriors most often target specific installations and convoys in search of relics, sealed lore, or unsanctioned psykers, the latter for sacrifice or recruitment. Such prizes frequently bring these traitors into direct conflict with the Inquisition, but the Dragon Warriors have earned another, far more bitter foe within the Imperium: the Salamanders Chapter of the First Founding.
This rivalry is unsurprising, for the Dragon Warriors' core membership is drawn almost exclusively from subverted Salamanders and those few Chapters thought to be their successors, including the Black Dragons, Basilisks, and Storm Giants. Such uniform recruitment is a baffling anomaly, causing some within the Ordo Hereticus to speculate that a common tenet of the Salamanders' Chapter Cult might be at the root. They do so quietly, for the Salamanders are among the most respected of the Imperium's defenders, but they are not far from the truth. The Dragon Warriors began with Chaplain Ushorak of the Black Dragons, who saw the changes wrought on his brothers by their mutant Ossmodula as a blessing, a gift that would allow them to transcend as far beyond the Astartes as the Astartes were from humanity. Banished from the Chapter for his extreme views, Ushorak came to reinterpret the Promethean philosophy as an edict to reforge humanity itself, testing it in fire until its weaknesses and limitations were wholly cleansed.
Taking on the name of the Legion that had preceded the Salamanders, Ushorak rebranded himself The Dragon Warrior, clad in flame-red armour marked with fine ceramite scales, its trim a glossy near-black green. His words attracted many among his former Chapter, as well as other extremists in the Promethean Cult, and under happier circumstances the Dragon Warriors might have eventually been legitimized in a Special Founding to resolve the doctrinal dispute. Alas, it had become clear to Ushorak that Chaos was the perfect forge in which to test mortal mettle. Reports reached the Imperium of vile evolutionary furnaces, of Promethean rituals perverted by warpfire, and of possessed Astartes shedding their mortal impurities, and the Dragon Warriors were branded Excommunicate Traitoris.
Though Ushorak himself is dead, burned alive by the Salamanders in the pits of Moribar, his work continues, and his successor has only led the Dragon Warriors to more destructive extremes. A former Salamanders Librarian, the Sorcerer Nihilan led an attack on Nocturne itself not two decades ago, using daemonic allies and alien mercenaries to penetrate the most sacred vaults of the Salamanders. The full scope of what he sought is unknown, but his powers of transformation and resurrection grow with every appearance in the field. The Dragon Warriors now field possessed Dragon Claws that fight like a whirlwind of shifting bone and fiery screams, alongside whole squads of resurrected Promethean Marines whose burning spirits ignite their bolter shells and hollow armour alike. Nihilan's works are a foul perversion of the Promethean philosophy, one that he believes will save the galaxy, and that his former brothers regard as a blasphemy without compare.
Fires of Conflict
The Dragon Warriors specialize in close-range firefights, bathing in the flames of battle. Thus shall the cosmos be reborn, purified of all that was weak.
A unit with this trait can fire Assault and Grenade weapons while it is within 1" of the enemy. If it does so, it must target the closest enemy unit, even if friendly units are within 1" of that unit. A model that does so cannot attack in the Fight phase for that turn. In addition, when a unit with this trait shoots an enemy unit that is within 8", the Armour Penetration characteristic of that weapon's attack is improved by 1 (i.e. an Armour Penetration characteristic of '0' becomes '-1', etc).
This warlord keeps a cruel grip on the capricious fires of Chaos, lest they some day consume him.
You can roll an additional dice and discard the lowest result when determining the number of attacks made by a model in a DRAGON WARRIORS or DAEMON unit within 6" of your Warlord (e.g. a Chaos Spawn or a model firing a flamer). If the lowest and highest result are the same, add 1 to the Strength characteristic of those attacks.
From the Ashes (2 CP)
Igniting the battlefield, the Dragon Warriors advance under cover of smoke and burning flesh.
Use this Stratagem in your Movement phase. Select a terrain feature within 3" of a DRAGON WARRIORS unit. Until the start of your next turn, that terrain feature does not provide the benefits of cover, and your opponent must subtract 1 from any hit rolls while shooting at DRAGON WARRIORS units that were within 3" of the terrain feature when you used this Stratagem.
Tome Of Balefire
A copy of the legendary Tome Of Fire, stolen from the depths of Nocturne itself and annotated with burning truths by the Sorcerer Nihilan.
DRAGON WARRIORS PSYKER only. At the start of any Psychic phase, the bearer can stoke the fires of the warp. Until the end of that phase, when any unit within 18" of the bearer rolls one or more dice in the Psychic phase, it treats a dice roll of 1 as a dice roll of 6. This can cause Perils of the Warp.
Summation: I have yet to read Nick Kyme's Salamanders books, but I liked the Dragon Warriors from the moment they showed up in 4e, and I always thought they'd make for a cool Tzeentch warband what with the ouroborous-dragon and the flame motif. I like Chaos worshippers that don't just look and act like a clone of the appropriate Traitor Legion, and a focus on flame and rebirth seemed a good way to get at that. So I've appropriated what background material I could from the wiki, but otherwise it's all made up; I'm not hugely bothered if there are inaccuracies compared to the books.
In mechanical terms, I wanted to represent a warband that focused on close-range firefights, and also do what the Vigilus Renegades largely didn't: encourage the Dragon Warriors to actually fight as a Tzeentch warband. They even have an excuse to field their own Rubric Marines! Weird Chaos rituals fuelled by pseudo-Perpetual fire magic are a hell of a drug, y'all.
The Renegade Trait has two parts.
- First, it gives Dragon Warriors the Solar Fury code from the Necrons... but at only 8" away, rather than "half range". In other words, it's a boost for flamers and flamer-adjacent models.
- Second, it lets Dragon Warriors fire those flamers in melee, in exchange for not attacking. On a vanilla Chaos Marine, you're trading 2-3 S4 attacks for a single meltagun or flamer shot; which is good, but not OP. It's mainly there so that you don't have to worry too much about getting close to an assault army and getting only one flamer shot off before they charge in. Now you can flame all day!
The Stratagem is a tool to get your flamers into close range without being shot to pieces by a shooty army. Compared to the Night Lords or Speed Freeks equivalent, it costs an extra CP and requires you to start near a piece of cover... but it can affect multiple units if you're clever about it (and you should be), allowing you to start in cover, burn it like Cortez burning his ships, and Advance full speed toward the enemy under a -1 to hit smokescreen. If you're really clever, you can also use it when assaulting enemies in cover: get within 3", trigger the Stratagem, and you can ignore cover when firing at the bunkered-up targets, and also get that tasty -1 to hit if he has any pistols in his Shooting phase (or if you'd rather not charge).
Lastly, the Artefact of Chaos is a weird one. Originally it was a close-range Smite boost, but this was more fun and unique; when you use it, you're boosting the average psychic roll for any psyker within 18" from 7 to 8... but you're also boosting the odds of a Perils attack from 5% to 14%. The same goes for your opponent; are you going to make his head blow up, or just boost his psykers? The primary use, of course, is to double the chances of triggering an Icon of Fire, and your Horrors couldn't care less about the extra Perils chance. See? Reasons to play them as Tzeentch.