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Meet Warhammer 40k’s Khârn the Betrayer

Check out the lore, datasheets, and models for Warhammer 40k’s Khârn the Betrayer, and cut a bloody swathe through the worshippers of the false Emperor

Games Workshop art of Warhammer 40k Kharn the Betrayer

Few mortals have piled as many skulls at the base of Khorne’s brazen throne as Warhammer 40k character Khârn the Betrayer. For over 10,000 years he has plundered the galaxy, riding the tides of war and following the scent of blood among the stars. Unlike many of the Heretic Astartes, Khârn the Betrayer fights neither for vengeance nor for power. He fights because he is violence incarnate.

Back when the World Eaters fought under the Emperor’s banner at the forefront of the Great Crusade, Khârn was the first World Eater to survive the implantation of the Butcher’s Nails. Copied from the pain implants that were hammered into the Primarch Angron’s brain during his youth in the gladiatorial pits of Nuceria, these psycho-surgical implants inflict every World Eater with agonising pain that can only be relieved by frenzied, hand-to-hand slaughter. In the millennia since Khârn’s fall to Chaos, the agony of the Butcher’s Nails has only grown, and Khârn’s bloodlust can never be sated.

On the tabletop, Khârn is a living weapon. Wielding the mighty axe Gorechild, a weapon built for the ferocious Primarch Angron when he was still mortal, Khârn can blend through Eldar, Orks, and Space Marines like a combine harvester through a badly-sited family picnic.

Here’s everything you need to know about Warhammer 40k’s Khârn the Betrayer:

Games Workshop art of Warhammer 40k Kharn the Betrayer posing triumphantly with an axe

A history written in blood

Khârn was the eighth captain of the World Eaters and, if Angron truly had any affection for any of his legion, his gene-father’s only trusted son. He followed his father into rebellion against the Emperor. Khârn slaughtered his loyalist brothers on Istvaan Three and reaped a bloody path across the galaxy throughout the Heresy, massacring the Ultramarine’s armoury-world of Armatura and slaughtering the population of Ultramar as the World Eaters descended into madness and the worship of the Blood God Khorne.

Khârn fought at the forefront of the siege for the Emperor’s palace until he was ultimately slain by Sigismund of the Imperial Fists. In an act of unusual dignity, Khârn’s battle-brother’s bore away his corpse and took it with them when they fled the Sol system after Horus’ defeat. By a dark miracle Khârn still lived. The Blood God was not finished with him.

Games Workshop art of Warhammer 40k Kharn the Betrayer during the Horus Heresy

The name Betrayer was granted to Khârn much later, and not by the lap dogs of the corpse-Emperor. After their flight to the Eye of Terror, the traitor warhosts fell on one another in the disastrous internecine conflict known as the Legion Wars.

On the daemon world of Skalathrax, the World Eaters and Emperor’s Children fought for bloody dominion. Skalathrax was so bitterly cold that at night even the superhuman Astartes would freeze to death, and both forces retreated into shelter. To Khârn this was insufferable cowardice.

Wielding a flamer that would later be named the Burning Brand of Skalathrax, Khârn turned on his own legion, burning them from shelter and forcing both sides back into combat between blazing cities and bone-cracking cold. This act finally shattered the World Eaters legion into myriad marauding warbands.

Only a madman would trust Khârn, for he is wrath and frenzy, but many still follow him. He is an avatar of the Blood God’s will, and wherever he leads a warrior is certain to find magnificent slaughter. 

Games Workshop photo of Warhammer 40k Kharn the Betrayer 1996 model

Khârn the Betrayer Model

The first Khârn the betrayer model was sculpted by Jez Goodwin and released in 1996. That venerable model saw two decades of service before it was replaced with its new plastic incarnation in 2016, accompanying the Traitor’s Hate campaign supplement.

Khârn is an iconic model, and all the features in the current design were present in Jez Goodwin’s concept sketches and the first version of his miniature. Most obvious, Khârn has no armour on the arm he uses to wield Gorechild, instead wrapping a tangle of chains around his huge biceps. But there are also fantastic minor details, from the fur talismans hanging from his helmet power cables, the skulls hanging from chains at his waist, or even the plackart armour over his stomach that looks like a heavyweight championship belt with a screaming skull embossed on it. 

Games Workshop miniatures photo showing Warhammer 40k Kharn the Betrayer attacking Krieg

Khârn the Betrayer Datasheet

While World Eaters players snarl in fury as they wait for their Codex, updated rules for Khârn have been printed in White Dwarf 477. Khârn is a blender in heretic form. When he charges, Khârn makes seven attacks that always hit on two plus, at Strength seven, AP minus four, damage two.

His devotion to the blood God is so extreme that he can pile in and fight twice in each combat phase, adding yet more skulls to the tally. If he’s stuck battering a frustratingly skull-less vehicle, the Stoke the Nails stratagem will push his Strength up to eight.

But no gift from the lord of murder is given freely. As a Lord of Chaos Khârn inspires his fellow legionnaires with rerolls on to-hit rolls of one. Any supplicants who dare linger near Khârn do so at risk of their life. At the end of your movement phase, on a two plus Khârn will inflict two mortal wounds on a unit within three inches as he claims another skull for his master’s throne.