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Warhammer 40k Lore The War In Heaven: A Cosmic Struggle

War In Heaven
War In Heaven

The War in Heaven stands as an ancient and cataclysmic conflict that pre-dates the rise of humanity by countless millennia. This epic struggle involved three mighty races - the Necrons, the Old Ones, and the C’tan - and the consequences of their war would reverberate through the ages, shaping the galaxy and its inhabitants in ways that are still felt in the grim and dark future.

The Ancient Universe

The War in Heaven took place in a galaxy vastly different from the one inhabited by the Imperium of Man and the myriad other races in the 41st millennium. It was an era when powerful and god-like entities roamed the cosmos, and the laws of physics and reality were more malleable and mystical than they are in the present.

The Old Ones

At the heart of the War in Heaven were the Old Ones, a race of supremely advanced and enigmatic beings. They were ancient even during the War in Heaven, having traversed the cosmos long before the rise of other sentient races. The Old Ones were known for their mastery of genetic engineering and their ability to manipulate the fundamental forces of the universe.

They were responsible for creating and nurturing various lifeforms throughout the galaxy. Some of their creations included the Eldar, the Jokaero, and the lizard-like K’nib. They were responsible for establishing the Webway, an intricate network of inter-dimensional tunnels that allowed rapid and safe travel throughout the galaxy.

The C’tan

In stark contrast to the Old Ones were the C’tan, star god-like entities composed of pure energy. They were the embodiment of cosmic hunger and had a ravenous appetite for the life essence of sentient beings. To sate their hunger, the C’tan devoured stars and absorbed the souls of entire civilisations. Their insatiable appetite led them to become a malevolent force in the galaxy.

The Necrons

The Necrons, once a mortal and technologically advanced civilisation, played a pivotal role in the War in Heaven. Under the guidance of the C’tan, the Necrontyr, an envious and short-lived race, had their consciousness transferred into metallic bodies, becoming the undying Necrons. They became the foot soldiers and instruments of the C’tan’s desires.

The Necron technology, based on living metal, was advanced and highly destructive. Their powerful weaponry, including gauss technology, and their mastery of time manipulation, allowed them to be formidable adversaries. The Necrons sought to rid the galaxy of the Old Ones, who they blamed for their race’s suffering, and to serve the C’tan’s insatiable hunger.

The Prelude To War

As the War in Heaven unfolded, the Necrons waged a brutal campaign against the Old Ones and their creations. The C’tan provided the Necrons with powerful technology and enslaved them to their will. The conflict between the Necrons and the Old Ones set the stage for an immense and apocalyptic war.

The Old Ones, with their mastery of genetic engineering, created new lifeforms to combat the Necrons and the C’tan. Among these creations were the Eldar, who would go on to become one of the most influential races in the galaxy.

The War Unfolds

The War in Heaven was a war on an epic and cosmic scale. The Old Ones’ armies, composed of their creations, clashed with the Necron legions, which had been twisted and reshaped by the C’tan. Battles raged across the galaxy as the two sides vied for control of key worlds and territories.

The conflict was brutal, with advanced technology, unimaginable destruction, and manipulation of the fundamental forces of reality. The Old Ones used the Webway to wage lightning-fast and unpredictable strikes against the Necrons. Meanwhile, the C’tan unleashed their god-like powers to reshape the battlefield.

C’tan Betrayal

As the war raged on, the C’tan revealed their true intentions. They betrayed the Necrons, viewing them as nothing more than tools to be discarded. The C’tan began consuming the life energy of the Necrons themselves, leading to a rebellion within the Necron ranks.

The Silent King, leader of the Necrons, realised the C’tan’s betrayal and saw the devastation the War in Heaven was causing. In an act of defiance, he ordered the Necrons to enter a long and self-imposed hibernation. This action preserved the remaining Necron civilisation but left them dormant for millions of years.

The Fall Of The Old Ones

The Old Ones, deprived of their creations and allies, eventually fell to the combined might of the Necrons and the C’tan. The Old Ones were annihilated, and their once-proud civilisation crumbled. The few survivors, such as the Eldar, retreated to the Webway and other hidden refuges.


The War in Heaven had lasting consequences for the galaxy. The C’tan were shattered into shards, and the Necrons entered hibernation, waiting for the right moment to awaken and reclaim their lost power. The Eldar, descendants of the Old Ones’ creations, emerged as a prominent race in the galaxy.

The War in Heaven also left a void, leading to the rise of new races and powers in the galaxy. It set the stage for the birth of the Chaos Gods and the ensuing conflict between the forces of Order and Chaos.

Legacy & Relevance

Although the War in Heaven occurred millions of years before the events of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, its impact is still felt in the present. The Necrons have reawakened, seeking to restore their empire and retake the galaxy. The Eldar, having faced their own tragedies, continue to play a pivotal role in the ongoing events of the galaxy.

The shattered C’tan shards remain as powerful entities, often sought after by those who would wield their immense power.

In the grim and dark future of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the echoes of the War in Heaven continue to reverberate, shaping the course of history and the fate of countless races. It stands as a testament to the ancient and cosmic scale of conflicts that have unfolded in the vast expanse of the galaxy.