“Daemonic fury, bound into the shell of a metal beast and set loose upon the galaxy. Tell me, mortal – have you ever seen such a glorious sight?”
Warpsmith Vhostokh, Scourge of Diesos
Many dangers await those who plow through the Koronus Expanse. One of the worst of these are the spawn of Chaos, and even among them Daemon Engines do stand out.
Daemon Engines are gigantic battle machines that prowl on mighty piston-driven limbs. To compare a Daemon Engine to an ordinary vehicle is folly, for each of these beasts has its own malevolent sentience rather than a crew. Bound within the battle-scarred metal of each Daemon Engine is the essence of a raging warp entity, imprisoned in a physically indomitable body and weaponised in order to better serve the forces of Chaos.
The Imperium has little concept of how these affronts to sanity came into being. Even amongst the servants of Chaos there are few who understand how these monsters are created. Beyond the soul forges of the immaterium, creatures of the warp are bound in nooses of rope woven from the hair of murderers or with chains fashioned of scrimshawed bone. These captive Daemons are dragged screaming into the flame-hearted citadels of the Dark Mechanicum. In the molten heat of the forges, Warpsmiths trap these Daemons within the rune-bound hulls of the giant metal abominations they have created. The screaming fiends must then be bludgeoned into submission until the time of battle is at hand. Dozens of machine-thralls are lost with the creation of each beast – a minor setback given the raw power these monsters provide.
Like monstrous hunting beasts, the Daemon Engines lope across the battlefield to tear apart their master’s prey. Whether lash-tentacled Maulerfiends or lumbering, gun-mawed Forgefiends, these prized pets of the Warpsmith obey his every command with instant ferocity. Such daemonic war engines are not cast into battle lightly, for they are valuable assets. Most commonly a Warpsmith will send his bestial servants to seize some vital artefact whose power he desires, or to annihilate a foe or rival whose continued existence can no longer be tolerated. Given the soul-scent of their luckless victim, the Daemon Engines prowl out across the battlefield with single-minded determination, not stopping in their hunt until their victim is strewn in bloody tatters across the field of war.
Forgefiends & Maulerfiends
The Forgefiend was originally devised to sow death amongst enemy forces from afar. Roughly centauroid in form, the torso of this Daemon Engine boasts twin weapon-mounts that carry hell-forged parodies of Imperial armaments. The most common Forgefiends are created with pairs of hades autocannons in place of their primary limbs, rotary gun-clusters that allow them to scythe down masses of enemy troops and even lightly armoured vehicles with contemptuous ease.
When a Daemon Engine is forged in the citadels of the warp, part of the fire that burns there is transferred into the heart of the engine itself. It is this brimstone-scented furnace that powers the engine's mechanical motion, but also that provides the baleful energies it pours into the ranks of its foe. It is not normal bullets that fly from the muzzles of the Forgefiend’s guns. Instead, it spits out red-hot phosphor shells that are extruded from the twisting, convoluted cables that churn and writhe inside. Hidden intestinal tracts feed steaming, large-bore ammunition into each autocannon’s chambers, each projectile bearing the taint of daemonic flame. Forgefiends can devour metal just as easily as flesh; when well fed, they can maintain a glowing salvo of shells for several minutes before stopping to gorge-load more raw materials into their interior feed-hoppers.
The pulsing energies of a Forgefiend’s furnace are not always employed to produce solid ammunition. Some sport flex-sheathed plasma weapons of ancient design, weapons so large they would look more at home on a light aircraft than a land-bound walker. Those Daemon-beasts the Imperium have nicknamed Cerberites bear no less than three of these ectoplasma cannons, one mounted on each weapon-limb and one jutting out from their maws. These cannons were once prized artefacts, dating back to before the Heresy, but the Warpsmiths have perverted them into something far worse. Gargoyle-mouthed and drizzling balefire, the searing energies these devastating weapons hurl outwards are a hybrid of plasma and burning ectoplasm channeled straight from the Forgefiend’s tainted heart.
The Daemon Engines known as Maulerfiends thunder towards the foe like monstrous attack dogs loosed from the leash. Their eyes glow with balefire as ectoplasmic drool drizzles from their fanged maws. Their thick front limbs end in articulated claws powerful enough to tear a Dreadnought limb from limb. Should they catch a squad of infantry, they will scissor them apart or crush them into paste with a flex of their massive talons.
Also known as Stalkers or Scalers, Maulerfiends have strength and agility enough to climb sheer surfaces – nowhere is safe from these Daemon Engines once they have the scent of their prey in their olfactory vents. If even a single Maulerfiend makes it to the walls of an enemy emplacement, it will clamber across the vertical faces, tapping with its claw-pincers until it finds a weak point before peeling open a large section and forcing its way inside. Because of their utility in siege warfare, Maulerfiends are used extensively by the Warpsmiths of the Iron Warriors. Even the most redoubtable Imperial strongholds will fall into deathly silence once a Maulerfiend has breached the walls and set upon the fleshy bounty within.
Helbrutes are twisted mockeries of the Space Marine Dreadnoughts they used to be, combining the firepower of a small tank with the mind of a frenzied maniac. Each Helbrute holds a living creature within its plated metal chest – a Chaos Space Marine driven over the edge of madness by a never-ending cycle of war.
A Helbrute is piloted by a warrior who has suffered extreme damage on the field of battle. The critically injured warrior is then bound into an amniotic sarcophagus at the walker’s heart connected by nervous system implants and mind impulse units to the controls of the battle engine. However, while loyalist members of the Adeptus Astartes consider it an honour to serve their Chapter for eternity as a Dreadnought, Chaos Space Marines consider such a fate to be little more than a living death – a torturous, mocking punishment from the Dark Gods. They abhor the thought of such a miserable half-life locked away in a dank and imprisoning womb, where they can no longer drink in the sights of battle with their own eyes or feel the kick of a boltgun in their fist. For them, it would be better to die and find final release in the maelstrom of the warp than to spend eternity locked in an adamantium shell.
As a result, most Helbrutes are completely psychotic, even before the warp melds the metal of their prison with the flesh inside. A creeping insanity, mingled with desperation and fury, eats away at them over the long millennia. Between battles, the sarcophagus containing the pilot is disconnected and dragged clear of its armoured shell to lie inert and seething in the darkness. The Helbrute is chained like a beast when it is not actually fighting, for fear that some residue of the pilot’s soul may send it into a berserk rampage. As the ships of a Chaos Space Marine fleet approach their prey, the Helbrute’s heavy weapons are prepared and loaded, its power scourges and hammerlike fists are daubed in fresh blood, and its sarcophagus is installed. The madness of the Chaos Space Marine within burns ever fiercer as he rises from his dormancy. Once the fleet’s warriors have landed, the Helbrute is unleashed, a lunatic beast of flesh and metal intent upon venting its rage on everything in his path.
Defilers are truly massive beasts of war, twice the size of most other Daemon Engines and with a temperament to match. The ground shivers and melts as they stalk towards their foes on six massive, segmented legs, their great pincer-arms twitching and snipping with an impatient need to slice through warm flesh. The Defiler’s crab-like body supports a daemonic torso that carries an array of deadly weaponry, ranging from reaper autocannons to racks of highly explosive missiles. It is the battle cannon mounted in its chest turret, however, that is undoubtedly its most potent armament. Each hell-forged shell that thunders out from its growling muzzle is capable of crippling a squad of Space Marines in a single earth-shaking blast.
Those foes fortunate enough to survive a Defiler’s barrage of shells must then face its full fury at close quarters. Built with piston- driven claws to grab and crush the enemy, and boasting whirring blades or whip-like flails mounted on articulated limbs, the Defiler charges into the foe, crushing and grinding as it smashes aside all opposition. Its mechanical growls drown out the cries of the wounded and dying; trampled corpses and severed limbs are left scattered in a red path behind it as the Defiler rampages through the enemy’s ranks.
Like many of the Warpsmiths’ creations, a Defiler’s animus is provided by a bound Daemon of Chaos. When the immortal ire of this imprisoned entity is raised, the Defiler powers forwards on its clanking legs, spewing death with its guns. The Defiler rejoices in battle, for only then can it enjoy the blissful release of slaughter – once the feeble warriors of the Corpse God have been crushed, the Defiler will once more be bound in runic chains by its masters and dragged hissing back to the forges until it is needed once more.
The mere names of these malevolent machines alone inspire horror and disgust in the hearts of humans. We foresee, Lord Captain, that you too shall face these Chaos abominations. And prevail against them… hopefully.