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Characters / Warhammer 40,000: Astartes

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"While the enemies of the Emperor still draw breath, there can be no peace."

They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns shall they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe will best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the terror. They are the defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines... and they shall know no fear.
The Emperor of Mankind

The Adeptus Astartes, or Space Marines, are the iconic faction of Warhammer 40,000, power-armored, genetically-engineered super soldiers created to be humanity's ultimate warriors.

Recruited from the Imperium's most warlike cultures, those who would be Space Marines are subjected to a brutal crucible of physical training, biological enhancement, and psychological indoctrination. Those who survive the process know no fear or doubt, will never surrender, and will never tire in their endless battle against the Imperium's numerous foes. Their armament is the finest mankind can provide, and their tactics can defeat any foe. They are the Adeptus Astartes, the vanguard of the Imperium's invasion forces and its most resolute defenders. They are the Angels of Death, figures of religious awe to the rest of mankind, and objects of terror for its foes. Though there are fewer Space Marines than there are worlds in the Imperium, they number enough for the task at hand.

The Space Marines were created by the Emperor ten thousand years ago as he led his Great Crusade to reunite the galaxy. Each of these original twenty legions was led by a Primarch, one of the Emperor's clone-sons, and every legionnaire shared his Primarch's genetic template; thus, each Legion inherited their commander's strengths, tactics, culture, and in some cases flaws. Following the disaster of the Horus Heresy, the loyalist Astartes legions were broken down into chapters of roughly a thousand warriors, so that no single man could ever command such an awesome force. Most Space Marine chapters claim a single world as their fief, ruling and recruiting from it, while others are fleet-bound forces that replenish their numbers when and where they can. Recognizing no authority other than the Emperor himself, Space Marines either lead their own crusades to fight the enemies of mankind, or answer petitions for assistance. They stand apart from the Imperium despite serving it, just as they protect humanity despite transcending it.

On the tabletop, standard Space Marines are a well-rounded and forgiving force, and a very popular starting army. The average Space Marine is about as effective as other factions' elite soldiers in both ranged and close combat, while elite Space Marines are some of the most dangerous units on the tabletop. This makes Space Marines expensive in terms of point cost, and therefore (relatively) inexpensive when it comes to collecting an army. As a consequence, Space Marines are almost always outnumbered by their opponents, not that this should worry them—as Rogal Dorn said, "Give me a hundred Space Marines, or failing that, a thousand other troops."

The standard Space Marines 9th Edition codex was released in October 2020.

NOTE: This page is for the general tropes relating to the Space Marines and specific roles. For tropes relating to specific chapters, see here, while tropes for the mightiest heroes can be found here. Tropes specific to the Primaris Marines meanwhile can be found here.

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General tropes:

    A - H 
  • Abnormal Ammo: As well as the regular mass-reactive, explosive bolt rounds used by all Imperial forces, the Astartes have access to hellfire shells. Instead of the usual explosive charge, these specially adapted bolts consist of a brittle ceramic case that contains a powerful mutagenic acid that can liquefy any organic compound. Although hellfire shells have been developed for all sizes of bolt weapon, the heavy bolter-sized hellfire shells are the most commonly available. In-game, those editions that include hellfire shells typically give them a greater ability to damage living targets, while the 8th Edition rules include them as an Astartes Stratagem that can cause multiple mortal wounds against the target.
  • Absurdly Exclusive Recruiting Standards: The Space Marines generally have very exacting standards, and it's noted that with some Chapters, only a small handful of selected applicants actually become full-fledged members. Part of this is due to the surgical augmentations used to develop them into "proper" Space Marines, which occasionally results in an applicant rejecting their new organs (often fatally). The rest of it is due to the selection process itself, which might include things like live fire tests or proving themselves by killing a dangerous target or enemy. In-universe, these exacting standards are sometimes criticized as being so time-consuming that it's comparatively easy for a small Chapter to just die out because they can't replenish their ranks.
  • Ammunition Backpack: Battle-brothers equipped with heavy weapons typically carry the ammunition for their massive weaponry in specially adapted versions of the standard power armour backpack power unit.
  • Angst? What Angst?: invoked All Astartes have this trait to some extent, as part of their enhancement includes making their brains more resistant to post-traumatic stress.
  • Anti-Air:
    • The primary anti-aircraft tanks utilised by the Adeptus Astartes are the Hunter Multi-Launcher and its variant the Stalker Air Defence Vehicle. The Hunter is equipped with a sophisticated skyspear missile launcher that fires servitor piloted munitions that will remorselessly track enemy aircraft until they hit or are destroyed. The Stalker meanwhile relies on an icarus stormcannon array that will fill the sky with countless rounds of ammunition and can track multiple targets at the same time. The exact rules for these weapons vary depending on the addition but always give them an advantage against flying opponents. The 8th Edition rules, for example, give both weapons a bonus to their hit roles that councils out the penalty from the Hard to Hit ability that most aircraft have.
    • One of the ammunition types usable by Astartes equipped with missile launchers in some editions is the flakk missile that gives the Astartes model has a greater chance of hitting flying targets. In some editions this missile has to be bought during army creation while the 8th Edition rules represent it with the Flakk Missile Stratagem instead.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier:
    • The Land Raider, overlapping with Tank Goodness. The highest vehicle armor in the game, weapon options that can obliterate tanks or reduce infantry to ashes or chunky salsa, a "machine spirit" that can assist with shooting or take over for the driver, and it can still carry a squad of Terminators into the thick of combat.
    • The Rhino: Giving your 10-man squads of superhuman armoured badasses a taxi ride to their next ass-whipping session since 1987.
  • Badass Army:
  • Badass Boast: "And we shall know no fear!" is one of the most well known, but every chapter is replete with them.
  • Badass Creed: Each chapter has a Catechism of Battle, a war cry that invokes their Primarch and/or the Emperor in battle.
  • Badass Crew: Every Company, whether it's a Veteran, Battle, Reserve, or Scout Company, will be made of up to one hundred Badasses. Every squad, whether it's composed of Assault, Devastator, or Tactical Marines, will be composed of up to ten Badasses.
  • Badass Long Robe: Astartes frequently wear robes when out of their Power Armour. Some chapters wear their robes over their armor.
  • Barbarian Tribe: A good portion of Chapters are derived from this kind of culture, including the Space Wolves, White Scars, and later on the Dark Angels. Justified since every Astarte initiate Had to Be Sharp.
  • Bayonet Ya: While not commonly seen on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium many patterns of bolt weaponry, particularly those that date from the era of the Great Crusade, have bayonet attachments that some of the more aggressive Chapters still utilise. The style of blade used as a bayonet varies and can range from monomolecular combat blades to small chainblades.
  • Berserk Button: Two common ones are badmouthing the Emperor or the chapter's Primarch within earshot, or threatening the chapter's gene-seed. Even "nice" chapters can become decidedly unfriendly in these cases.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Some chapters have reputations for humility or looking after noncombatants, but make no mistake, they're still some of the most dangerous forces in the setting.
  • Beware the Superman: One thing loyalist Marines agree with Horus about is that they refuse to be under the authority of the High Lords of Terra. This makes them seem untrustworthy since their way of protecting humanity sometimes clashes with conventional Imperial forces.
  • BFG: Most humans can barely hold an Astartes bolter, let alone fire one without shattering their wrists. Weapons classified as Heavy, such as lascannons and missile launchers, are even larger, almost the size of an armored Space Marine in and of themselves.
  • BFS: Power swords, chainswords, force swords—basically any blade a Space Marine wields will be large enough that a regular human could barely pick it up, much less wield it. Even the combat knives used by Scouts are almost the size of claymores in comparison.
  • Big Book of War: The Codex Astartes, which not only prescribes a chapter's force organization and markings, but includes battle tactics and strategies.
  • Big Brother Instinct: The nicer chapters towards non-combatants and the Imperial Guard, if they're pulling their weight.
  • Big Eater: Due to their genetic engineering and resulting hyper-metabolism, Astartes can, and usually do, eat thrice the amount of food of a normal human. Also, because food is one of the few mortal comforts Astartes can enjoy, feasts are very important to them on a spiritual level. As such, when not on a battlefield, dinner is usually a grand feast by human standards, while holidays will be marked by vast, day-long banquets considered a feast by Astartes standards.
  • Bio-Augmentation: No single implant elevates them to Super-Soldier status, but the entire process combined elevates Space Marines into gods of war even without their armor. Note that for various reasons, some chapters have lost an implant or two or have oddities in an organ or two, but all have the most essential: the Progenoids and the Black Carapace.
  • Bizarre Human Biology: As a result of the aforementioned bio-augmentation, many use the term "posthuman" to describe Astartes.
  • Black Swords Are Better: The ancient chainsword known as the Teeth of Terra has teeth made of night-black obsidian and, when wielded by a Hero of the Imperium, is able to tear through the flesh, bone and armour of most foes. The 8th Edition rules for this relic weapon represent this by giving it superior Strength, Armour Penetration and Damage compared to a basic chainsword.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Space Marine weaponry can be as elaborately and ornately decorated as their armor.
  • Bling of War: Varies by chapter, but purity seals, prayer inscriptions, shiny battle honors, animal pelts, or even solid gold plating are fairly common decorations, especially among commanders.
  • Boarding Pod: The Astartes utilize a number of specialist vehicles to deliver squads of Marines straight into an enemy ship. The most common of these are the single-use boarding torpedoes that bore into a ship's hull and lodge there but other craft, such as the Caestus Assault Ram, can both deliver a squad and retrieve them once their mission is complete.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The ubiquitous Rhino personnel carrier. It's not particularly well-armed or -armored, but it's based on a tractor template that can run off almost anything, including wood or corpses, and its design is so well-made and practical that all of the Astartes' tanks aside from the Land Raider are variants on its design. In-game, the Rhino's weapon options are limited to a storm bolter or hunter-seeker missile, but it can carry up to 10 standard Marines, and it's the only transport with the ability to gain back wounds.
    • The Predator, the main line battle tank used by the Adeptus Astartes, may lack the massively powerful weaponry or special rules that the armoured vehicles of other factions receive, but it's a relatively cost-effective way of including multiple heavy weapons such as lascannons and heavy bolters into an army. During a game they are so unremarkable that an inexperienced opponent will often ignore them in favor of something more immediately or apparently threatening, something that savvy players will use to get the most out of their Predators.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: The Black Carapace, one of the final augmentations a Marine receives, functions as one. It consists of semi-organic sheets implanted under the skin which take root and grow connections to his central nervous system. Ports on the outside of the Carapace stick out through the skin and form attachment points for control jacks in his Powered Armor, allowing him to control the armor as an extension of his own body. In this way Space Marines can move with much more dexterity than would be expected of such hulking armored warriors.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: The "nicer" chapters will refuse to abandon civilians to the enemy and can respect non-Astartes warriors they serve with.
  • Bulletproof Fashion Plate: Justified in that the majority of Marines have entire teams of serfs and servitors dedicated to scrubbing down and cleaning their armor after a deployment - they have heraldry to display, after all. The official Citadel tank painting guide recommends that weathering on Space Marine tanks be kept very slight to reflect this.
  • The Cavalry: For many of the Imperium's battles, the turning point came when the Space Marines arrived from orbit.
  • Chainsaw Good: While Space Marines have much more access to power and force weaponsnote  than other Imperial factions, they're still mainly provided to higher-ranking Marines such as Sergeants and Captains. Thus, chainswords are a common melee weapon, as well as the less common chainfistnote  and chainaxe note , favored by Flesh Tearers or more archaic chapters. Their monomolecularly-edged adamantium teeth make short work of enemy armor.
  • Child Soldiers: Since the bioagumentations necessary to become an Astartes have an extremely low success rate if implanted after puberty begins, most Space Marine aspirants are recruited as young as 10 years old. It's common for those recruits to already be experienced in combat or survival in extreme situations before that point, which is why they were chosen for recruitment in the first place.
  • Church Militant: There's a good deal of variation regarding to what extent the Space Marines consider the Emperor a deity, but the more fanatical chapters such as the Black Templars and White Consuls are true to this trope.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Though certain chapters excel at it more than others, in general Space Marines are made for shock assaults and vicious close-ranged firefights. Even their artillery is short-ranged compared to the batteries of the Imperial Guard, while the Space Marines' navy is geared toward boarding actions and planetary bombardment rather than long-ranged duels.
  • A Commander Is You: Generalist/Elitist. There is nowhere in particular the standard Astartes are lacking - they have accurate and powerful fire, but aren't half-bad in close either, their infantry have a lot of staying power and are generously equipped as well. This quality however comes at a hefty points price however. Their tanks are generally not as great as the Astra Militarum, but they are reliable and get the job done.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: A Space Marine's hypno-indoctrination removes their sense of Primal Fear, replacing their sense of recoiling revulsion with contempt. There are still situations where a Space Marine can be overwhelmed with fear or despair, but that usually requires extremely powerful psionic influence.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • A lot of their Bio-Augmentation makes sense, like the secondary heart and ultra-fast clotting blood. But being able to darken your skin to resist radiation, go into suspended animation to survive near-mortal wounds, or spit a corrosive acid?
    • In terms of tactics, the Eldar in Dawn of War remind us that "you cannot ambush a Space Marine, they expect treachery at every turn. The most you can do is confirm their suspicions."
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Sometimes Scouts, Assault Marines or Devastators find themselves unable to transition to other roles and thus stay in that roles for their entire career.
  • Cultured Badass: While some chapters care about nothing but battle, others encourage their Marines to take up some form of hobby to relieve stress in their rare periods of downtime, usually through some form of the arts or crafting. This is usually motivated by practicality rather than kindness: having a bunch of stressed out Astartes in one location with nothing better to do tends to result in violent infighting as they try to blow off steam by taking their aggression out on the serfs, allied forces, or each other.
  • Cyborg: All Space Marines due to the aforementioned Black Carapace. Beyond that, it's not uncommon for injured Astartes to have augmetic eyes or Artificial Limbs, while Techmarines usually return from their pilgrimage to Mars with various cybernetic attachments and the Iron Hands chapter makes becoming more and more mechanical a goal. This is reflected in the miniatures: unhelmeted heads w/augmetics, mechanical arms, even an upgrade kit that allows Iron Hands players to give their Marines lots of different augmetics.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Many Space Marine chapters, such as the Raven Guard, Black Templars, and especially the Legion of the Damned and the Deathwatch, have dark-colored or black armor but are not at all "evil" by 40K setting standards. Chaplains also typically have solid black armor no matter what chapter they're in.
  • Death from Above: Space Marines arrive from orbit in Drop Ships or Drop Pods, and favor a mobile form of warfare that makes frequent use of airborne soldiers or Jet Packs.
  • Depopulation Bomb: Like the Thunder Warriors before them, the Emperor had a secret failsafe made to wipe out the Astartes if it ever became necessary, known as the Terminus Decree. If the Astartes were ever to become a danger to the Imperium and could not be salvaged, the Grey Knights are authorized to unleash a virus engineered to target only Astartes and destroy their gene-seeds to ensure that no others could ever be created again. He considered this an absolute last resort given the necessity of the Astartes to the Imperium's military. To date, the one time enacting the Decree was ever seriously considered was when the traitor forces were marching on the Imperial Palace itself at the peak of the Horus Heresy.
  • Destructive Savior: The Space Marines can win nearly any battle they fight, but will often leave whole cities devastated in the process.
  • Determinator: "A fortress will not stop the Space Marines, although it may slow them down."
  • Divergent Character Evolution:
    • The original First Founding Legions were initially quite similar in tactics and organisation. Their gradual shift into their unique natures came with being reunited with their Primarchs, as their new commanders had free reign to recreate their Legions as they saw fit and would normally integrate aspects of their own personality and adopted home world's culture into their particular Legion's tactics, rites and organisation.
    • When founded, all Astartes Chapters begin as relatively generic and closely follow the Codex Astartes (or their predecessor Chapter's doctrine, if they're based on a noncompliant Chapter). As times goes on however, the Chapters tend to take on cultural influences and idiosyncrasies from the populations they draw their recruits from.
  • Drop Pod: Putting Marines in drop pods to launch them from orbit directly at the heart of an enemy is a signature tactic. Using drop pods allows the Space Marines to perform surgical surprise attacks, using their battle prowess as efficiently as possible. The Space Marines use several variants of drop pods, one which can carry one squad of Tactical Marines, one which can carry a Dreadnought, and one which deploys automated guns to offer fire support.
  • Drop Ship:
    • The Thunderhawk gunship, equally capable of space combat, air support, Gunship Rescues, or unleashing hell upon a target before unloading its Space Marine passengers.
    • The Stormraven is a smaller but no less capable gunship, loaded to the gills with weapons and capable of delivering both a full squad of Marines and a Dreadnought into battle.
  • Due to the Dead: The rites and rituals vary by chapter, but all at least are fanatical about recovering fallen battle-brothers' gene-seed. It gets more complicated with Dreadnoughts, which get a ritual listing their pre-interment accomplishments when reawakened, as well as a "second funeral" in the event one is destroyed. It's a little more awkward given the size of the deceased's remains and the issue of differentiating between when he was alive and when he was dead etc...
  • Earthquake Machine: One of the specialist types of shells available to Thunderfire Cannons are tremor shells. These shells are designed to detonate beneath the earth to cause localised tremors that knock enemies from their feet and disrupt their advance. How this is represented in-game varies depending on the edition but normally involve reducing the distance the target can move in their following turn.
  • Elite Army: The 1st Company Task Force and Strike Force Ultra Formations from the 7th edition rules allowed a player to field an army composed entirely of Marines drawn from the Chapter's Veterans.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Space Marines as a whole resemble the ancient Roman army. They increasingly recruited from barbarian planets and often became more loyal to their commanders than to some distant Emperor.
  • Fearless Fool: To live up to the "And they shall know no fear" boast, Astartes' mental conditioning removes the "flight" aspect of their "fight or flight" response; they technically still experience fear on an intellectual level, but they aren't impaired by it. That said, they're not stupid and will withdraw from combat if it's tactically prudent to do so. In-game, prior to the 8th edition rules, Space Marines had the "Combat Tactics" rule that allowed them to choose to fail a morale test and fall back and regroup.
  • Feudal Future: Chapter Masters are given lordship over their Chapter's home world and all its human or material resources, and are exempt from the Administratum's tithes but are obligated to serve the Imperium as warriors. A veritable army of human serfs perform the day-to-day tasks of food production and maintenance of the Space Marines' fortress monastery, and can be said to be better off than other planetary populations, especially since they're living on one of the most well-defended worlds in the Imperium. On the other hand, many Space Marine chapter home worlds are deliberately kept at a feudal or even Stone Age technology level in order to breed better warriors to recruit.
  • Fictional Flag: All Chapters have traditional symbols with some meaning to them — a wolf's head on grey for the Space Wolves, a black dragon's head on green for the Salamanders, and so on — which are traditionally displayed on their pauldrons, vehicles, and assorted paraphernalia.
  • Flaming Sword: The Astartes relic known as the Burning Blade is a large and ancient weapon that burns with a fire capable of melting even the thickest armour. The 8th Edition rules for the Burning Blade represent this by giving the weapon the best Armour Penetration value of any weapon in the arsenal of the Adeptus Astartes.
  • Genetic Memory: This is the function of the Omophagea implant, allowing Space Marines to pick up memories and experiences from something by consuming its flesh.
  • Genius Bruiser: Most Space Marines study a Big Book of War that tries to anticipate any combat situation ever, and the mainstay of any chapter is the adaptable and fluid Tactical Squad. Commanders from Sergeant rank and higher are even better, while Librarians are potent battle psykers as well as record-keepers and tactical advisers.
  • Giant's Knife; Human's Greatsword: Space Marines are larger and stronger than baseline humans due to their Bio-Augmentation. This, combined with their Powered Armor, means that their guns and melee weapons are much larger and heavier than the ones used by normal humans. For instance, an Astartes combat knife would be roughly the size of a broadsword to a Guardsman, and even if a Guardsman could lift an Astartes-issue boltgun, its recoil would break his arms if he tried to fire it. The one notable exception in the lore is the Catachan gunnery sergeant "Stonetooth" Harker, who is able to lift and wield a heavy bolter by himself (normally a tripod-mounted weapon used by a two-man heavy weapons team in the Guard).
  • Glory Seeker: Although their indoctrination should have them feel that simply being a Space Marine is already glorious in itself, a fair number are out to make names for themselves, at least in the eyes of their Battle-Brothers. More than that, Space Marines willingly plunge into the most dangerous of missions, so that in joint operations with other Imperial forces the Astartes can come across as glory-hogs.
  • Good is Not Nice: Remember, even the "good" chapters are ultimately working for the xenocidal fascist state that is the Imperium at large. To quote Blood Ravens Devastator Sargent Avitus (one of aforementioned "good guys"), "We are the Emperor's angels of death, not his angels of mercy."
  • Gravity Master: Graviton weapons are an option for a Marine's armament, increasing the local gravity around the target and crushing it under its own weight. In-game, grav weapons deal more damage to targets with a 2+ or 3+ armor save, reflecting the weapon's effects on the target's heavier armor.
  • Hand Cannon: The standard-issue Space Marine sidearm is the bolt pistol, which is essentially a boltgun with a shorter range.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Although Averted in the background material, where the helmets of officers are often depicted as having extra systems to keep track of the battlefield conditions and the men under their command, the artwork and models for Astartes sergeants or other commanders often depicted them without their helmets. The initial multipart plastic kits for Mk.VIII Errant Power Armournote  even enforced this as the helmeted heads wouldn't fit with the armour's high collar, something later kits corrected.
  • Heroic Build:
  • Heroic Willpower: All Astartes have this in spades.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Invoked; most chapters will use their home world's tongue as a battle-cant so even other Imperial forces, which will speak some variant of Gothic, won't be able to eavesdrop on sensitive transmissions.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: Even the more restrained chapters may still sport a striking color scheme on their armor. Rather than attempting to disguise his position through camouflage, "a Space Marine’s armour is bright with heraldry that proclaims his devotion to his Chapter and the beloved Emperor of Mankind. [...]what the enemy can see, he will soon learn to fear...". This is slightly more justified than most examples, as in older Editions the Space Marine's armor was explicitly tough enough to be a substitute for tank armor, and sitting in a Rhino with only Marines would mean that the Rhino is no longer open-topped.
  • Historical In-Joke: Space Marine Chapters have suspiciously similar organization to British line infantry battalions of the Napoleonic War—10 Companies, with an elite 1st company and a 10th company of skirmishers.
  • Honor Before Reason: Space Marines take pride in their chapter colors, and the overwhelming majority of them refuse to wear camouflage. This results in scouts of the Imperial Fists chapter trying to sneak through terrain in bright yellow armor.
  • Hope Bringer: If a member planet of the Imperium is under attack by xenos or Chaos, every citizen will pray with fervor to the Emperor to be saved, and their prayers will be answered once the Space Marines arrive. This is especially true of the more humane chapters, like the Space Wolves, the Salamanders, the Blood Angels, the Raven Guard, and the Ultramarines.
  • Human Subspecies: Space Marines functionally become a subspecies due to the extensive changes they go through.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Astartes are supposed to be the pinnacle of human bio-engineering, but they are still fundamentally human and thus subject to the same psychological and personality flaws as baseline humans. This has, among other things, caused many to fall to Chaos or otherwise misread the Emperor's goal for the human race.
  • Human Weapon: This is how the T'au Empire views them. Space Marines are one of the few aliens with which the T'au will not attempt diplomacy but will instead exterminate on sight. In their eyes, after the sheer amount of psychic conditioning an Astartes goes through they are no longer people, but merely machines of war, no different from Orks or Tyranids.

    I - P 
  • Iconic Item: Iconic chapters such as Space Wolves and Dark Angels often have unique equipment outside of the realm of the Adeptus Mechanicus's standard issue offerings, such as Space Wolves's Helfrost weapons and the Dark Angels's maces and flails for their Deathwing Knights.
  • I Gave My Word: Many chapters are oath-bound to protect or serve various worlds or agencies, and most consider keeping their word to be quite important.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Omophagea implant allows a Space Marine to absorb memories from the flesh they eat. The brain is generally considered the best source for this, but in some sources even drops of blood can trigger some memories. Mutations in it can give chapters an unnatural craving for blood or flesh. Ironically, most Space Marine chapters consider cannibalism depraved, since it's usually a sign of Chaos corruption, and any Marine who has to engage the Omophagea will be under scrutiny for several days by the Chaplains and Apothecaries in case something happens.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Space Marines are the most long-lived humans in existence short of the Custodes or outright perpetuals. They are immune to most diseases and can survive the most grievous of injuries. In exchange, their biochemical composition has been modified to make them barren so they channel all their impulses into waging war.
  • In Harm's Way: Once the battle's done, the Marines are off to the next warzone. They're often portrayed as restless when not on campaign, and garrison duties at the fortress monastery are often considered boring.
  • Interservice Rivalry:
    • Unfortunately, Space Marines can be just as prideful as mere humans, and some chapters have developed grudges with or prejudices toward their brothers. The Ultramarines look down on those that don't embrace the Codex Astartes, while the Hammers of Dorn look down on the Ultramarines for not following the Codex strictly enough. The Red Thirst and Black Rage have given the Blood Angels and their successor chapters a dangerous reputation. Chapters of the 21st Founding are considered cursed due to ill fortunes that befell many of them. Nobody likes the Marines Malevolent. The most famous rivalry is between the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves, a grudge both chapters have maintained since their Primarchs began the feud. Older material mentions the chapters going to war on eleven occasions over objectives such as the gemstone mines of the moons of Magdalan, but nowadays it's settled by champions engaging in a (usually) non-fatal duel. Other rivalries or feuds include: White Scars vs. Raven Guardnote , White Scars vs. Space Wolvesnote , and Iron Hands vs. Raven Guard and Salamandersnote .
    • Also bleeds into how some chapters treat other organisations in the Imperium. The Guard are a useful ally but ultimately replaceable, and are fortunate if the Astartes' goals happen to coincide with theirs. The Inquisition technically has the ability to unconditionally requisition any Astartes for whatever purpose they wish but both groups generally distrust the other's independence. The Navy dislikes the fact that they operate their own separate fleets. The Ecclesiarchy (and attached military forces) don't like the fact that (most) Astartes don't view the Emperor as a God (or even deny it) but can't really do much about it. The Mechanicus are distrusted because they usually pursue their own agendas, with active members of the Titan Legions being almost the only people who equal or exceed a Marine's individual value.
  • Irony: The Space Marines are supposed to be the pinnacle of human brilliance and held up as such by the Imperium. They're made excellent by cybernetic and genetic enhancement Body Horror so thorough that they can barely be considered humans anymore, and they possess a wealth of decidedly inhuman abilities like being able to absorb memories by eating brain matter and being able to fight unimpeded after having half their faces melted off by a plasma shot. They also lack many of the emotional connections that other humans have, such as affection and love. Even the Adeptus Mechanicus, many of whom can turn their emotions on or off, are often considered to be more human than an Astartes.
  • Jack of All Trades: Both Space Marines individually and their army as a whole are good at practically everything with no particular deficiencies when it comes to combat and warfare, translating into their stats being generally balanced across the board in gameplay terms. They are often seen as the best army for beginners as a result, as there is no one area where they are notably weak, other than (arguably) their lack of numbers (ameliorated somewhat by their high toughness and good armour save).
  • The Juggernaut: Land Raiders are exceptionally tough and are the hardiest tanks the Astartes have in their armories. In-game, all Land Raider variants have 16 wounds and are the only Astartes tanks with a 2+ armor save.
  • Long-Lived: Space Marines are designed to age far slower than a normal human and remain in top combat shape the entire time. It's not known exactly what their maximum "natural" lifespan is (nearly all Astartes die in combat within a "mere" few centuries of service), but a few extraordinary cases indicate that a Space Marine could theoretically still be fighting well after their 3000th birthday.
  • Medieval Stasis: Many Chapters ensure that the worlds they recruit from have a limited level of technology, often with a tribal culture, as the conflict within such societies produce ideal recruits.
  • Mysterious Past: Some chapters have lost (or hidden) the records of their founding, and aren't sure which Primarch they're descended from. Some are implied to either use traitor gene-seed or be chimeric in nature.
  • Neural Implanting: Astartes chapters typically make heavy use of hypno-indoctrination, implanting knowledge into Marines during meditation-induced fugues.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Astartes will fight viciously to recover their fallen brothers' progenoid glands, which contain the stem cells for the implants necessary for creating the next generation of Space Marines.
  • One-Gender Race: There are only male Space Marines. While some of their implants can be and are used to enhance women in combat, the most important one, the gene-seed, cannot. The gene-seed is an artificial organ designed to cause a body to develop mutations that bring it closer to the one it was based on, making it the defining characteristic of a Space Marine. Since all gene-seeds are based on the DNA of the male-only Primarchs, the changes they're meant to cause are incompatible with female bodies, making it impossible to transform women into Astartes.
  • One-Man Army: In the background it's said that a single Space Marine could, given adequate time and resources, conquer a planet by himself. The tabletop is a different story.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Space Marines are sometimes referred to as the God-Emperor's own "Angels of Death", an army of nigh-invincible superhuman warriors coming down from the heavens to protect humanity in their greatest time of need. Sometimes they recruit the mightiest warriors and heroes from feral and feudal worlds, these individuals "leaving" the world of mortals to fight for the Emperor forever. And then there's what they go through to become that way...
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The Space Marines venerate the Emperor, build cathedrals and monasteries in his name, and pray to him for intercession on the battlefield, but as a father figure to be emulated rather than a god, with a handful of exceptions. This can cause friction between the Astartes and the Ecclesiarchy, but in the best cases the two agree to disagree, so that the Ministorum does not excommunicate the Space Marines as heathens, and the Astartes don't use their legacy as the Emperor's descendants to usurp spiritual leadership. In the worst cases, well...
  • Pet the Dog: In numerous instances, the Astartes treat the local Imperial Guard and PDF as more than just Cannon Fodder and genuinely care about minimizing theirs and civilian casualties. A good example is Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, in which Captain Titus of the Ultramarines has nothing but respect for the Imperial defenders, who in turn show nothing but admiration to their saviors.
  • Photographic Memory: The Bio-Augmentation done to the Space Marines leaves their memories as close to eidetic as possible, so they can recall potentially vital information in after-action debriefings. As a side effect, this means that they can carry grudges far longer than one would reasonably expect, as none of them can forget a slight to their Chapter's honor.
  • Powered Armor: A standard Space Marine has better protection than other races' elite troops, while Terminators wear Tactical Dreadnought Armor that can carry miniguns one-handed and survive being stepped on by Titans, though actually getting out of the ground afterwards without help is a different story.
  • Power Fist: The Trope Namer is a large gauntlet with an energy field running through it that makes it easily able to shatter enemy armor a wargear is an option for most characters.
  • The Power of Blood: Many chapters have blood-mingling rituals, which may involve imbibing the blood of their fellow Marines—this is possibly the result of their Omophagea implant, which allows them to process genetic memories of biological material they consume. In this manner, the Marines share traces of memory with each other, further solidifying their bond with each other, and the blood of the fallen will be consumed that the living might better remember them. For some gene-seed strains, mutations in the Omophagea implant give them a greater thirst for blood, and their blood ceremonies are more frequent; the Blood Angels and their successors are the best known of these.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: In a general sense, all Space Marines fight on behalf of Mankind despite no longer belonging to it, while the "nice" chapters show concern for the fates of the normal humans they are sworn to defend.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: As an analogue of medieval knightly orders, Space Marines possess a chivalry of sorts. They don't let this get in the way of genocide or xenocide, however.

    Q - Z 
  • Rage Helm: The design of the respirator vox grill for the Mark V, Mark VII and Mark VIII helms gives them a look similar to that of a snarling face.
  • Recursive Ammo: The original version of the Castellan pattern whirlwind missile, from the 4th Edition of the game, was an area-denial weapon that scattered hundreds of sub-munitions across the target area that acted as mines with an in-game chance of causing a high strength hit on any model moving through the enemy.
  • Recycled In Space: The Space Marines of the original edition were transparent adaptations of the orders of Imperial knights from Warhammer Fantasy Battles (as most armies in that era were sci-fi adaptations of those fantasy armies.) However, they fairly quickly distinguished themselves as editions crept on, and have been given a great deal more characterization than their fantasy equivalents as the settings diverged.
  • Sapient Tank: A Land Raider's machine spirit is powerful and advanced enough to be able to take control of the tank if necessary, although its overall function is limited.
  • Secretly Earmarked for Greatness: Certain Space Marine chapters keep an eye on feral worlds to spot promising natives that have the potential to survive being made an Astartes. The Fenrisians in particular know that Wolf Priests will sometimes appear unannounced to take away warriors, who are never seen again.
  • Sergeant Rock: Any Brother-Sergeant.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Those iconic huge pauldrons, proudly displaying their chapter symbol and squad markings, or the Prime Helix badge for Apothecaries. Please note that they're auto-reactive shoulder guards that can swivel as needed so not to obstruct sight or arm movement. For Terminators they're even more important, as the Crux Terminatus on their left shoulder is said to contain a sliver of the Emperor's personal armor.
  • Sigil Spam: Aside from their left pauldrons, Space Marines will slap their chapter's symbol on anything they can. The knees and cuirasses of their power armor are often decorated thusly, along with robes and tabards, banners, vehicles, and some weapons. The Ultramarines, Blood Angels, and Black Templars are especially known for this.
  • Smug Super: Some Chapters openly despise normal humans for their weakness; others are less directly smug, but are very aware of how poorly normal people measure up to an Astartes.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Sometimes, writers play up how little experience Astartes have when it comes to actually interacting with anyone outside of a military context. An unstoppable warrior on the battlefield might find himself seriously telling a baby how small they are, for example.
  • Space Marine: The Adeptus Astartes are one of the more recognisable instances of the space marine in fiction, with the term being the common name for them (Games Workshop even attempted to have it trademarked). The Super-Soldier Astartes are one of the most elite armed forces of humanity, specialising in boarding actions, planetary assault and rapid strikes but they also excel in almost every form of warfare imaginable.
  • The Spartan Way: Take a bunch of adolescents or pre-teens, run them through a few Death Courses, with maybe some Gladiator Games at the end. Subject the survivors to mental, physical and spiritual tests that could kill them or drive them insane. Implant them with a series of Bio Augmentations that might kill them or mutate them beyond recognition. Before their training is complete, have them serve as commandos and skirmishers in the Scout Company. All said, about one in a hundred aspirants survives to don his power armor as a full Space Marine.
  • The Stoic: Many Space Marines, and some chapters more than others.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Most Astartes legions abhor assassinations, sabotage and espionage, and such work gets left to Scouts. However, every Marine starts as a Scout, and so the proudest Marine is knowledgeable of these less honorable aspects of warfare and might even have been an expert at them.
  • Super-Intelligence: Astartes have had their brains modified to process and retain information far better than any un-augmented human. They're capable of analyzing situations in fractions of seconds and executing extremely complex battle maneuvers that would baffle most strategists. It's part of why the Codex Astartes was so effective for them, but useless for almost anyone else: the Codex is such a gargantuan text that a normal person would require a supercomputer to process enough battlefield information to obtain a useful answer from it over several hours, but an Astartes would have the entire thing memorized and ready to be applied at a moment's notice.
  • Super-Persistent Missile: The servitor-guided skyspear missiles fired by the Hunter pattern Whirlwind will doggedly pursue enemy aircraft until they are either destroyed or hit their target. During the 6th and 7th Editions of the game, this was represented by the "Savant Lock" special rule that allowed the weapon to have a second attempt at hitting the target in the following Shooting phase if its initial attack missed.
  • Super-Soldier: Eight feet tall, a lifespan measured in centuries, every waking moment spent either in battle or training for it... and those are your basic Space Marines. Now consider their veterans, or commanders.
  • Super Spit: Weaponized with the Betcher's Gland, which turns a Space Marine's saliva into a blinding, corrosive poison.
  • Super Supremacist: Some Astartes get into this mindset via Might Makes Right, being vastly superior to standard humans in every way and thus asking why they should fight and die for them. Falling to Chaos is not the inevitable outcome, but it's a common fate.
  • Super-Toughness: As a result of their Bio Augmentations. Most armies' standard weapons only have a 50% chance at best of wounding a Space Marine.
  • Superior Successor: They're a distinct improvement to the Thunder Warriors, the Emperor's original mass-produced super-soldiers. The Thunder Warriors were a powerful force of superhuman warriors, but the Emperor designed them hastily as he needed pure muscle to serve as a blunt instrument to batter down the tech-barbarians of Terra. They were easy to produce and exceptionally powerful, but terribly flawed brutes prone to crippling, often lethal, physical and psychological defects. The Space Marines, however, were designed with far more care as their purpose was to face a much more complicated and longer-term task in the Great Crusade. They're physically weaker than their predecessors, but capable of excelling in almost any human pursuit on and off the battlefield.
  • Sword and Gun: A paired bolt, grav, or plasma pistol and chainsword is a very common baseline weapons kit for Space Marines, especially Assault Marines. In-game, an Astartes armed with a Pistol weapon and a chainsword gets one extra attack in the combat phase.
  • Take Up My Sword: Space Marine equipment is so well-built and lovingly-maintained that many pieces have been passed down from Battle-Brother to Battle-Brother for centuries, if not millennia. There are often elaborate rites and rituals surrounding this practice, which can involve engraving the accomplishments of the previous bearer of a piece of kit, or adding decorative reliefs. As each piece is further passed down, these become increasingly elaborate and valuable to the chapter.
  • Taking You with Me: Astartes will fight to the very last, striking out at their enemies even as they fall. The 8th Edition of the game represents this by giving Astartes Infantry killed near an Astartes Banner a 50% chance of making one final attack. There is also the Space Marine Stratagem 'Only In Death Does Duty End' that allows an Astartes Character to make an attack automatically when killed.
  • Tank Goodness: The Land Raider again, eclipsing the Predator dedicated battle tank, which tends to look a little underpowered when compared to the Imperial Guard's vehicle pool.
  • Terrifying Rescuer: Depends on which chapter comes to save the day. The Salamanders look scary but are very much good guys, while God-Emperor help you if the Flesh Tearers or Marines Malevolent are the ones to try and help.
  • Thunderbird: Invoked with several Space Marine ships like the iconic Thunderhawk, a powerful transport/ground attack craft (and variants like the Stormbird, Storm Eagle, et cetera) and the Stormraven, a Lightning Bruiser fighter.
  • Thunder Hammer: Thunder Hammers are power weapons whose power field, instead of being spread out along a blade, is concentrated on the hammer’s head and energizes on contact in a devastating concussive blast. Regular, armored Marines need two hands to wield these things, althought Terminators swing them about one-handed.
  • Training from Hell: Most Space Marine chapters demand that new recruits prove their worth by going through grueling training exercises and making them undertake life threatening trials, tasks and rituals before being implanted with gene-seed. While this does have some benefits, the high attrition rate of these procedures is also a Senseless Sacrifice since Space Marines are so physically different from the normal humans they started out as that it's irrelevant how strong or weak they were before implantation.
  • Transhuman: Of the genetic and biological variety; the process for creating a Space Marine involves the careful implantation of the gene-seed, a compliment of nineteen genetically engineered organs derived from the genome of that chapter's Primarch that confers upon them their superhuman physique, abilities, and the capacity to create new gene-seed within themselves so that the chapter can continue to recruit new members. To whit:
    • The Secondary Heart, an additional heart that activates in periods of high physical stress to get blood and oxygen flowing faster through the Marine's bodynote 
    • The Ossmodula, an extra endocrine gland that secretes hormones that, when combined with micro-ceramics laced in the Marine's food, cause their skeleton to grow and harden in ways that render the Marine a 7.5 foot tall giant with a bulletproof rib cage made of interlocking plates for additional organ protection.
    • The Biscopea, a small spherical hormone-producing organ in the chest that causes the Marine's muscles to grow larger and denser, greatly increasing the Marine's physical strength.
    • The Haemastamen, an organ that changes the blood's biochemical makeup to allow it to both carry oxygen and nutrients more effectively as well as regulating the new hormones flowing through the Marine's blood. It also turns the blood a brighter shade of red that a standard human's.
    • The Larraman's Organ, a golf-ball sized organ that creates Larraman's Cells, super-platelets that can clot and seal a wound over in scar tissue in minutes, even from severe gunshots, and that gives Marines their fabled imperviousness to mortal harm.
    • The Catalepsean Node, a brain stem-based organ that regulates the Marine's sleep cycle, allowing them to remain awake for potentially weeks on end and get fully rested from as little as four hours of sleep at a time. It's also integral in the hypno-indoctrination that all Marines go through the ensure their loyalty to the chapter and the Imperium.
    • The Preomnor, an organ akin to a bird's crop that acts as a pre-stomach that can analyze and neutralize toxic or poisonous substances entering a Marine's digestive system. In older lore, Neophytes would stress test this organ by eating increasingly foul things until one of them finally vomited from it.
    • The Omophagea, an additional nervous connection between the stomach and the brain that allows a Marine to absorb experiences and memories from creatures they consume. This organ is the reason for the blood drinking and flesh eating rituals performed by certain chapters, such as the Blood Drinkers and the Flesh Eaters.
    • The Multi-Lung, an extra lung that can be used to absorb oxygen from oxygen-poor environments, as well as cutting off air flow to the other two lungs when in toxic environments so that it can filter out any hazardous gases that are inhaled.
    • The Occulobe, an addition to the optic nerves that allows the chapter's Apothecaries to control the growth of the Marine's eyes in such a way that they gain enhanced visual acuity and the ability to see in pitch darkness almost as well as in a brightly-lit room.
    • The Lyman's Ear, an artificial ear that makes a Marine immune to motion sickness and dizziness, as well as allowing them to manually adjust their hearing so that they can pick out certain sounds from a din or lower it so as not to damage their ears in the chaos of battle.
    • The Sus-An Membrane, short for "suspended animation", is a neurally integrated part of the brain that allows a catastrophically injured Marine to enter a state of biological stasis until they can be found, healed, and revived by chemical and hypnotic techniques by their chapter's Apothecaries.This is the reason that your special characters don't have to be replaced every time they get shot or sliced off of the tabletop, though the chapters descended from Rogal Dorn's gene-seed do not have this organ (making the Imperial Fists' usage of attritional warfare a serious double-edged sword).note 
    • The Melanochrome, an addition to the lymphatic system that turns the Marine's skin into transitional lenses, naturally darkening in the presence of high UV radiation as well as providing protection from other forms of electromagnetic radiation. Mutations in this organ can cause unnatural skin, eye, and hair colors, from the universal Raven Hair, Ivory Skin of the Raven Guard to the infamous coal black skin and flaming red eyes of the Salamanders.
    • The Oolitic Kidney, an addition to the excretory system that acts as an emergency detoxifier in the event that something too hazardous for even a Marine's immune system manages to get into them, as well as including a suite of endocrine organs that manages and regulates the Marine's general biochemistry and organs, both natural and implanted. The activation of the Oolitic Kidney for detoxifying can cause a Marine to fall into a metabolic coma while the organ burns off the toxin, and the Space Wolves' famous beverage Mjöd is designed to paralyze this organ so that even a Space Marine can get absolutely plastered.
    • The Neuroglottis, a bundle of nerves in the upper nasal passages that allow a Marine to biochemically analyze a substance for both toxicity and nutritional content before ingesting it, as well as heightening their overall senses of taste and smell, to the point that they can track things with these senses in addition to their sight and hearing. This organ is especially effective in the Space Wolves, leading to their general distaste for wearing helmets as it can obstruct their usage of this organ.
    • The Mucranoid, a central nervous enhancement that allows a Marine to produce a waxy protein from their sweat glands on command that can provide an extra layer of protection from harsh environments while out of their Power Armor and seal their skin from the vacuum of space for periods of time. The Mucranoid also activates automatically when a Marine enters sus-an to help stabilize them and protect them for however long it takes for them to be recovered and revived.
    • The Betcher's Gland, a pair of organs added to the salivary glands as well as the general interior surfaces of the mouth that turns the Marine's saliva into a corrosive acid that can degrade metal, help the Marine break down particularly indigestible substances, and blind or outright kill an enemy by hocking up a noxious acid loogie on them. Some chapters see the use of this organ in combat as dishonorable, and certain gene-seed lineages (like that of Rogal Dorn) have lost the ability to use or create this organ entirely.
    • The Progenoid Glands, easily the most important organs out of the entire gene-seed as these are the ones that create the genetic cocktail of stem cells that allow a new complement of gene-seed to be created. Without these paired organs, one in the neck and one in the chest, Space Marines would not be able to create more of themselves and every chapter would eventually die out due to sheer attrition. An Apothecary's primary duties on the battlefield are to retrieve these organs from fallen brothers, safeguard them until the battle is ended, and then return them to their chapter's Apothecarion so that they can be incubated and grow new gene-seed. Of note, the term "gene-seed" is sometimes used to refer to specifically these organs in works of the setting.
    • The Black Carapace, only given to Neophytes who have proven their worth after surviving ten years in the Scout Company or equivalent training force of their chapter, is an organic fibrous sheath that's implanted directly under the skin with ports cut into the Marine's skin across his torso, arms, legs, and the base of the skull. The sheath bonds with the nervous system and allows Power Armor to connect to the ports in the Marine's skin, creating a direct neural link between the Marine and his war-plate that allows for a greater degree of control and fluidity of movement compared to normal humans in Power Armor without a Black Carapace. The Black Carapace also further toughens a Marine's skin to the point that they can take a stubber or lasgun shot to the chest without serious injury. The implantation of this organ is generally seen as the end of a Marine's training and induction, and from this moment forward they are considered a full battle-brother of the chapter.
    • The Canis Helix, a unique bevy of hormones that is only utilized by the Space Wolves and their successor chapter the Wolfspear. This is required to successfully implant the gene-seed of Leman Russ, and results in some of the more wolfish qualities of the Space Wolves, such as their elongated canines, superior sense of smell, excess of body hair compared to most Space Marines, as well as the so-called "Curse of the Wulfen" that can cause Marines to degenerate into feral lupine monsters during periods of intense battle-lust.
  • True Companions: For all the setting's moral ambiguity, this is one virtue that the Space Marines generally espouse and embrace. From day one of training, they are taught the value of working with their Battle-Brothers, and due to sharing the blood of the same Primarch and growing up together during training, this is the closest to family the Astartes have. Personality clashes, rivalries, and other sources of friction happen just like in any other group of people, but in general the need for the companionship of fellow Astartes is one of the few psychological weaknesses Space Marines have.
  • Unbreakable Bones: The Astartes' bones contain ceramite due to a combination of the Ossmodula's function and their food being laced with ceramite-based chemicals, making them far, far harder to break than normal.
  • Undying Loyalty: To their Primarchs. This is sometimes a Fatal Flaw, even to the loyalist legions like the Space Wolves.
  • Undying Warrior: Incredibly resilient, immune to most diseases, and long-lived to the point of being virtually immortal thanks to their modifications; as such, they can and will spend centuries on end waging war in the name of the Emperor. For good measure, their lives are so violent that nobody's certain if they can die of old age. That said, both Astartes and Primarchs do "age" in the sense that they can grow visibly older, though much, much, much more slowly than an ordinary human does.
  • Warrior Monk: Super soldiers who train and dwell in fortress monasteries, holding nigh-unshakeable faith in their role as the Emperor's favored champions, although most of them, in spite of their zeal and devotion, do not regard him as a god.
  • Weirdness Coupon: Many chapters don't consider the Emperor a god, have rituals and traditions that would be considered heretical by the Ecclesiarchy, or exhibit genetic deviancy beyond what is normal for Astartes, but are nevertheless tolerated by Imperial authorities due to the Space Marines' necessity. The First Founding chapters and their older direct descendants (especially the Second Founding ones) tend to be given more leeway than younger chapters, of course.
  • Wolverine Claws: Lightning claws are power weapons with three or four claws attached to a Power Fist. A favoured weapon of many close assault specialists, such as Assault Terminators and Vanguard Veterans, a pair of lightning claws allow their wielder to attack far faster than other more powerful but cumbersome power weapons such as thunder hammers and power fists.
  • The Worf Effect: Due to the Astartes' toughness, new threats are often expressed in terms of how many Space Marines they killed. The Tyranids, for example, are introduced by wiping out the Ultramarines' 1st company and nearly overrunning their homeworld, while the Necrons are shown coring Land Raiders with their Gauss weapons.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Many chapters would prefer not to; others aren't concerned with notions of collateral damage. Others seem actively spiteful of normal humans and would kill them without a second thought just for being in the way.
  • Xeno Nucleic Acid: Space Marines are made by implanting them with vat-grown organs derived from the genetic material of their superhuman Primarch, which greatly increases the growth of muscle and bone, along with other abilities like spitting acid and being immune to poisons. When an Astartes dies, the Chapter's top priority is to retrieve the progenoid gland (the organ that creates all others, and hosts the genetic memory) from their bodies, both to use them to make more Marines and to prevent them from falling into the hands of Chaos.


Astartes Command


"A Captain leads from the front. By his example shall his men know what it is to be of the Adeptus Astartes, and from his teachings shall they learn the trade of battle in the Emperor's name. No ordinary man can a Captain be, for many are the paths to victory and he must be master of them all. His very being shall be an extension of the Emperor's work. With every strike of his sword, with every word of his speech, does he reaffirm the ideals of our honored master. He will vanquish darkness and heresy with every thought, word, and deed. So shall his coming be a sign of deliverance to the dutiful, and a herald of dismay to all traitors. No living man shall stay his wrath."
Roboute Guilliman, from the Apocrypha of Skaros

The Chapter Masters, Captains and Lieutenants who command the Angels of Death are some of the greatest heroes of the Imperium. Not only are these mighty individuals skilled warriors, they are also brilliant strategists with centuries of experience fighting the enemies of the Imperium.

Chapter Masters are the most senior officers in a Chapter and are often considered to be the physical embodiment of their honoured Primarch. These gifted military leaders are given the authority to act as they see fit outside the Imperial chain of command and often double as the Planetary-Governor of their Chapter's home world.

Each Captain typically commands an entire Company of Astartes, leading his battle-brothers into battle with skill and bravery. In addition to his battlefield duties, each Captain will often bear honorific titles that carry additional responsibilities extending to the entire chapter. Some of these titles are commonly used across all Space Marine Chapters, while others are unique products of a single Chapter's history and creed.

After his return, Roboute Guilliman's rewritten Codex Astartes added the rank of Lieutenant to the Astartes Order of Battle. Each Company includes a pair of Lieutenants, each of whom take command of a Demi-Company so that the Captain can concentrate on overseeing the entire battlefield.

  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The leaders of Space Marine companies and typically their best fighters, and the Chapter Masters are usually the best fighters in their entire chapter, with some exceptions.
  • Badass Cape: Capes are often attached to the armour of Astartes commanders as part of their Bling of War. These capes are depicted in the artwork and on the models as swirling dramatically around the wearer in the heat of battle, with the exact style depending on the visual theme of the Chapter.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Space Marine Commanders are highly skilled combatants yet are often accompanied to the battlefield by squads of bodyguards of Company Veterans or Honour Guards.
  • The Captain: Each company is lead by a Brother-Captain, who also usually holds some sort of logistical position within the Chapter (such as Master of the Arsenal, Fleet, Recruits, etc).
  • Deflector Shield: Awarded to those who have shown great bravery and wisdom, the iron halo is a powerful personal energy shield that can protect its wearer from almost any attack. Typically built into the owner’s backpack decorations, or the gorget of their armour, an iron halo gives its wearer a 50% chance of avoiding almost any wound they suffer during a game.
  • Frontline General: While they may often take command of entire war zones, a Space Marine Commander will still lead the most important missions personally, inspiring his battle-brothers with his presence.
  • Four-Star Badass: Those who command Astartes on the battlefield typically possess centuries of experience fighting the Emperor's foes.
  • The Leader: Captains are the senior-most leadership of an Astartes chapter, with only the Chapter Master ranking higher.
  • Number Two:
    • A Chapter Master's second-in-command is usually the the Captain of the Chapter's First Company. As leader of the Chapter's elite forces, the First Captain is normally the most experienced commander in the Chapter and is often the designated successor for the Chapter Master should they fall in battle.
    • Before the resurrected Roboute Guilliman updated the Codex Astartes, the Sergeant in charge of a Company's 1st Squad would often act as their Captain's second in command. The rewritten Codex, however, introduced the rank of Lieutenant to the roster of each Company within a Chapter, a pair of more formal seconds-in-command who share the burden of battlefield command across multiple engagements.
  • Orbital Bombardment: In previous editions of the game, a Chapter Master could call down an Orbital Strike attack, dropping a powerful large blast shot representing a shot from one of the massive gun emplacements on the Chapter's ships in orbit around the planet. In 8th Edition, this ability is a Stratagem available to all Space Marine armies from a Codex-compliant Chapter, no matter who commands them.



"Death or healing, I care not which you seek!"
— An Apothecary in Dawn of War

Experts in biology and medicine, Apothecaries are Astartes medics who treat their wounded battle-brothers in the heat of combat and are able to return all but the most severely wounded to fighting fitness. In addition to this, Apothecaries are responsible for collecting and preserving the gene-seed of the fallen so that they can use it to create the next generation of Astartes warriors. It is this role that makes Apothecaries one of the most important specialists in a Chapter as, without its gene-seed, a Chapter would be unable to replace their losses and eventually face extinction.

Apothecaries normally incorporate the traditional white of the medical profession into their armour's colour scheme and wear the prime helix insignia that represents the sacred gene-seed of the Chapter. While each Company is assigned an Apothecary for battlefield triage, many more serve in the Apothecarion, under the Chief Apothecary, where they ensure the purity of the Chapter’s gene-seed, as well as overseeing the procedures required to transform a neophyte into a full Marine.

  • Chainsaw Good: Some nartheciums feature a short chainsaw, mostly used to open up deceased Astartes' power armour to recover their geneseed. They also do a good job of ripping open the flesh, armour and power armour of their enemies.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Apothecary armor is at the very least white on the right pauldron, and is sometimes completely white, with the prime helix in red.
  • Combat Medic: The battlefields of the 41st Millennium are no place for pacifist medics, and Apothecaries are just as capable in combat as any other Astartes. They don't actually get to do that much battlefield medicine, since a Space Marine's physiology means that almost any injury sustained in field that would take a Marine out of combat for very long is likely to be fatal, so the Apothecary simply makes the process less painful. The Apothecary's more important duty is ripping open his fallen brothers to harvest their gene-seed.
  • Meat Grinder Surgery: The robust physiology of Astartes means that, in the heat of combat far from the advanced equipment of an Apothecarion, Apothecaries are able to perform far quicker and cruder medical procedures than a regular human would be able to survive.
  • Mercy Kill: "The Emperor's peace", usually delivered via a bolt round to the skull or the Carnifex device in the narthecium.
  • This Is a Drill: Nartheciums are typically equipped with drills that are used to open a deceased battle-brother's power armour in order to gather his geneseed. These drills also prove to be effective weapons, along with the chainblades that some nartheciums mount. The Hagan Pattern Narthecium takes this to an absurd degree, as it is meant to be used on Terminator armor as well as standard power armor.


At battle's end, speak the Liturgy in a clear voice. Respect the bravery of the living. Give the Rite of Passage to the fallen. Honour the battle gear of the dead. To do all this with reverence, even when exhausted by battle and weary from the field, is the duty of a Chaplain. It is his burden and satisfaction.

The spiritual of a Chapter, the Chaplains of the Adeptus Astartes are warrior-priests who lead their battle-brothers into combat bellowing the liturgies of battle. Clad in black power armour decorated with symbols of mortality, Chaplains appear as fearsome to their enemies as they are inspiring to their brethren. Outside of battle, Chaplains minister to the spiritual needs of their brothers, perform the ancient rituals of their Chapter and maintain the Reclusiam, the most sacred place in a fortress monastery that contains the Chapter’s holiest relics. The highest ranked Chaplain in a Chapter is the Master of Sanctuary who acts as one of the Chapter Master’s most trusted advisers.

  • Ancestral Weapon: The power armor suits worn by Chaplains are considered holy in themselves. Often they are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.
  • Carry a Big Stick: The weapons of the Chaplains is the Crozius Arcanum, essentially a scepter that is as much a badge of office as it is a power weapon for bashing heads in.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Black is the traditional colour associated with Chaplains as dictated by the Codex Astartes, although how much of the colour a Chaplain displays depends on the traditions of their Chapter. Older background material indicates that this is to show that they serve the Emperor directly and to mark the Chaplain out in His sight. Contemporary background material states that the colour is a reference to the original colours of the Word Bearers, the Legion to fist introduce such individuals.
  • Cool Helmet: The Emperor's Judgementnote  is an expertly crafted, skull-shaped helm that was created in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy that has been worn by many Masters of Sanctity throughout the millennia. Said to have been anointed with the blood of the God-Emperor, the golden helmet strikes fear into the hearts of the enemy, represented on the tabletop by penalties to enemy attacks and Morale tests.
  • Deflector Shield: The rosarius amulets carried by most Astartes Chaplains incorporates a powerful conversion field generator that is capable of transforming the energy of any attack directed at its wearer into a flash of pure white light. In some editions of the game, attacks that were stopped by this field could blind unprotected models nearby but all versions of the rules give the wearer a good level of protection against almost any wounds they may suffer.
  • High Priest: The Master of Sanctity or High Chaplain is the head of the Chaplaincy in an Adeptus Astartes Chapter and head of the Chapter Cult.
  • Large Ham: Considering their specialty is giving rousing speeches, they can end up Chewing the Scenery.
  • The Mentor: Chaplains are present in a Marine's life from the moment he is chosen as a neophyte, presiding over their indoctrination as they progress toward becoming full battle-brothers.
  • The Political Officer: Downplayed, in that the Chaplain doesn't conform to the image of one but they do fulfill the role of one. Rather than ensuring that a government's ideology is followed, they ensure that the chapter's cult and creed is adhered to, and that all the Astartes whose souls they safeguard have motives and thinking that is pure by the standards of the chapter.
  • Rousing Speech: A Chaplain's specialty is to rouse a chapter to battle using only their words.
  • Skull for a Head: The skull is the traditional symbol of the Chaplain and most will wear a helm modelled in the form of a bleached skull giving them a macabre and intimidating appearance.
  • Staff of Authority: The Crozius Arcanum serves as a Chaplain's sacred staff of office.


"And within each company, the mightiest warrior shall be anointed as Champion. He shall bear arms and armour of great craftsmanship, and he shall protect his Captain from all harm, though it cost him his life. Great honour shall be bestowed upon him in life and in death, and he shall be lauded with great praise."
Roboute Guilliman, from the Apocrypha of Skaros

Champions are supremely talented warriors who are responsible for defending the honour of their Chapter and their battle-brothers. Each Company has its own Champion, normally the Company's greatest warrior, whose role is to protect their Captain by seeking out and slaying enemy champions before they can threaten their commander. The most talented Champion is the Chapter Champion. These mighty Astartes often lead the Honour Guard of their Chapter Master, dedicating their lives to the protection of their commander.

  • Armour Piercing Attack: The wielder of the Blade of Triumph, a relic power sword available to Chapter Champions created using the rules from the 8th Edition Psychic Awakening: Faith & Fury supplement, is able to supercharge the weapon's power field so that it is capable of cleaving through any armour as if it wasn't there and has an Armour Penetration characteristic equivalent to many anti-tank weapons.
  • The Champion: Champions are tasked with defeating the most skilled enemy on the battlefield and take part in ritual duels with those who have dishonoured their Company or Chapter.
  • Cool Helmet: Almost every Company Champion has a similar but pretty cool Knight-like helmet.
  • Dual Wielding: Chapter Champions typically wield a pair of power weapons, giving him extra attacks when fighting his enemies in melee.
  • Duel to the Death: Champions are willing to lay down their lives in defence of their brothers and in battle they are ready to face the challenges of any enemy in single combat with all their training focused on this singular duty.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: To a certain extent of hero (especially depending on the Chapter) they usually carry Power Swords.
  • Knightly Sword and Shield: They wear knightly helmets and are usually armed with power swords and combat shields. The knight-like aspects are more exaggerated depending on which chapter they hail from.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Alongside their power sword and bolt pistol they usually carry Astartes Combat Shields in battle.
  • Master Swordsman: Champions are often the greatest swordsmen of their Company with the greatest amongst them being the Chapter Champion.
  • Sword and Gun: A Company Champion's typical weapons loadout is a power sword and bolt pistol, with a combat shield on his gun arm.


"I can pulp your flesh and snap your bones in less than a second, and without so much as lifting a finger. What is the power of technology compared to that?"
Vel'cona, Salamanders Chief Librarian

Those Astartes who exhibit psychic abilities are separated from their battle-brothers and trained as Librarians, powerful battle psykers who stride into battle wearing highly ornate azure-coloured armour and carrying arcane equipment to enhance and focus their powers. In addition to their role of warrior-mystic, Librarians also fulfil a number of other important roles such as lore keepers and telepathic communication officers.

Most Librarians are identified during their initial training, but it is not unheard of for a fully-fledged battle-brother to suddenly manifest psychic powers, resulting in a transfer to the Chapter's Librarius. Due to the Imperium's suspicion of psykers, Astartes Librarians have had a chequered past and even by the end of the 41st Millennium a small number of Chapters still refuse to utilise them.

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Zig-zagged. Astartes are taught to hate the deviant and abnormal, particularly mutants and those with psychic powers. Thus, for most chapters the well-deserved respect and loyalty Librarians receive from their battle brothers is mixed with, at best, wariness and mistrust. However, some chapters greatly revere their Librarians, such as the Blood Ravens and Silver Skulls, and the Blood Angels seem to respect their Librarians enough to allow them to be interred in their unique Furioso Dreadnought chassis.
  • Anti-Magic: A Librarian's armor incorporates a Psychic Hood, a device containing psychically-nullifying crystals which provide defence against enemy psychic attacks. In-game, a psychic hood gives a Librarian +1 to his Deny the Witch tests.
  • The Archmage: A chapter's Chief Librarian is the most skilled and battle-hardened Librarian in a chapter, the head of the chapter's Librarium, and one of the Chapter Master's closest advisers.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Among the skills Librarians learn is writing and evaluating battle reports. This makes them excellent strategists.
  • Badass Bookworm: Librarians are generally the most scholarly and well-read members of a Chapter, and often serve in both research and teaching functions alongside their record-keeping role.
  • Blessed with Suck: While a Librarian's psyker ability has many benefits for himself and for the chapter as a whole, it also creates a gulf between he and his fellow Astartes, and touching the Warp is never a pleasant experience.
    Chief Librarian Tigurius: It cannot be considered a gift, to peer into the Warp and unravel the possibilities of the future that are, that might be, and that must be prevented. Nor can the burden of a weapon, that each of my brothers looks upon with girded revulsion, be called a gift. No, Master, I do not think my psychic prowess a gift...but a tool. Whether by a quirk of fate, or the will of the Emperor, I possess a weapon the like of which can turn the tide, not just in a battle but in the course of history. To withhold it, to flinch from its use or deny it would not just be counter-productive, it would be heresy. But if it is a gift, it is a cruel one.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Codex Astartes dictates that the armor of Librarians is blue with gold and yellow highlights, regardless of chapter colors, along with a gold or yellow tabard. Good luck getting a Space Wolf Rune Priest to pay attention to that, though.
  • Communications Officer: Off the battlefield they are responsible for interstellar psychic communications. More commonly, their abilities are used over shorter distances, coordinating attacks and battle orders.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: The Geokinesis discipline involves, among other things, manipulating the ground and earth itself.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: While they are no less likely to wear helmets than any other Astartes officer in the background material, the majority of modern Librarian models are bareheaded in order to differentiate them from the rank and file Marines, and to show the cranial interface with their armour's psychic hood.
  • Magic Staff: Most Librarians opt to carry force staves that tend to be elaborately decorated and may also confer other bonuses, such as acting as a psychic focus.
  • Military Mage: Fitting for their role as the Magic Knight, Librarians have a variety of ways to use their powers in combat, either to give boosts to themselves or units around them or to smite or hamper the enemy.
  • Order Reborn: The Emperor disbanded the corps of Librarians but they were kept out of necessity when the Horus Heresy broke out. Without him to enforce things, the Librarians have become standard part of Astartes hierarchy ever since.
  • Shock and Awe: The Fulmination psychic discipline from the 7th edition rules, developed by Space Marine Librarians, was based on Biomancy that focused solely on the lightning.
  • Spell Blade: Librarians use force weapons for melee combat, which can be imbued with Warp energy to make them even more dangerous in battle. While staves are commonly used, force swords and axes are another popular option.
  • Sphere of Destruction: Implied in-game by Nova psychic powers from the 6th and 7th edition rules, which potentially affected everything within a certain distance of the Librarian.
  • Subspace Ansible: Some background information states that Epistolary ranked Librarians are responsible for the Chapter's interstellar communication, telepathically transmitting and receiving messages through the Warp in a manner similar to the astropaths of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica.
  • Unpredictable Results: Although Librarians have immensely strong wills and great skill in manipulating the Warp, they're still mortal and failure is still possible, which can lead to horrible results if it goes badly enough. In-game, this is represented by psychic powers needing to meet or beat their casting cost on 2D6 to be successfully cast, and by the Perils of the Warp rule, which occurs if the player's roll to cast a power is a 2 or a 12. Perils causes the psyker to immediately suffer D3 mortal wounds, and if this kills the psyker, all units within 6" suffer D3 mortal wounds.
  • Wizarding School: Librarian aspirants are trained at a Librarium.


"Yours is to heed the machine as others heed their kin. Tend to the war spirits all about, but do so in the knowledge that you do the Emperor’s duty. Without your ministrations, no bolt may be fired, and no enemy slain."
— Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse III, Chapter CIV

Equal parts priests and mechanics, Techmarines are one of the most important specialists within a Chapter as they are the ones responsible for the maintenance of the technology their battle-brothers require to persecute the Imperium’s wars. To become a Techmarine, those Astartes who demonstrate an affinity with machines are sent to Mars, where they spend many years learning the arcane mysteries of the Machine Cult from the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus. After completing their studies, Techmarines return to their Chapters as full members of the Cult Mechanicus, and take up a position within the Armoury. The highest-ranking Techmarine in a Chapter is known as the Master of the Forge and his knowledge of Imperial technology is second only to that of the Tech-Priests of Mars.

As with other members of the Cult Mechanicus, Techmarines often sport numerous cybernetic implants and are accompanied by multiple Servitors that assist him with his duty. In accordance with the dictates of the Codex Astartes, Techmarines also decorate their heavy armour with the red of Mars but always retain the heraldry and colours of their Chapter on at least one pauldron.

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Techmarines get this from both sides of the fence.
    • Their fellow Astartes tend to show them the same mix of respect and distrust that Librarians get, although in their case, it's usually due to personality and behavior changes caused by their augmetics and their loyalties being divided between the chapter and the Mechanicus. On the other hand, the more augmetics-focused chapters, such as the Iron Hands and their successors, greatly revere their Techmarines.
    • While Techmarines are fully indoctrinated into the Machine Cult, many tech-priests look down on them, at best seeing them as lowly cogs in the Mechanicus' overall operations and at worst treating them as Hereteks who pervert the machine spirits of their mechanical charges to wage war.
  • Artificial Limbs: Their armor is modified to include these, including both standard mechadendrites and large servo arms with multiple tools (and weapons) attached.
  • Cargo Cult: Like the rest of the Adeptus Mechanicus, they literally worship technology that they don’t fully understand.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In most chapters, Techmarines display their additional ties to the Mechanicus by wearing dark red armor bearing the distinctive black-and-white skull cog icon of the Machine Cult. Some chapters' Techmarines wear completely red armor, similar to Librarians, while some simply have red accents and Mechanicus iconography alongside the usual chapter heraldry.
  • Combat Tentacles: The servo-arms on a Techmarine's servo-harness often bear weapons, allowing them to contribute in frontline combat while working to keep tanks and artillery repaired. In-game, the standard Techmarine can be upgraded to have a servo-harness that comes with a flamer and plasma cutter (a pistol-range plasma weapon), while the Techmarine that accompanies a Thunderfire Cannon bears a flamer, plasma cutter, and servo-arms holding shells for the Thunderfire Cannon on his servo-harness.
  • Cyborg: The Techmarines' most distinguishing features are their numerous augmetics and mechanical limbs, many of which they obtain during their training on Mars.
  • Electronic Eyes: Even more common among the Techmarines than in the Imperium at large, due to the Mechanicus doctrine of “improving” oneself.
  • Machine Empathy: Techmarines are expected to be able to “feel” what is wrong with any given machine, and how to fix/heal it.
  • Mr. Fixit: This is the ideal to which Techmarines hold themselves: to be able to fix any problem in any machine in any situation. They tend to come pretty darn close to it, too.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: The revered power axe known as Mortis Machinanote  is able to cut through the very soul of a vehicle, its machine-spirit, so that even the shallowest of strikes can reduce any machine to useless scrap. In-game, this ability to attack the machine-spirit directly means that the Mortis Machina has the change of inflicting mortal wounds against vehicles.


    Battleline Squads 
The bulk of the fighting forces that make up a Codex Space Marine Chapter consist of battleline squads with such units making up the majority of the Chapter's four Battle Companies, and the entirety of two of the four Reserve Companies. These squads are incredibly versatile units, capable of both offensive and defensive actions at a variety of ranges. A Chapter's battleline squads typically consist of Astartes Tactical Squads and Primaris Intercessor Squads.

Tactical Marines
"Of the Tactical Space Marine, bedrock of his Chapter and paragon to his brothers, I shall tell thee. He shall be steeped in the lore of battle and schooled in all manner of weapon and strategy. With combat blade, boltgun and grenade he shall assail the foe. But these are mere tools: a Tactical Marine's true weapons are his courage, his wits, and his dedication to his brothers. He will bring his foe to battle in a manner and time of his choosing, never himself caught unready or ill-prepared for the task at hand. In defence he shall be stalwart as the mountain, a bulwark stood firm against the enemies of Man. In attack he shall strike with the wrath of the Immortal Emperor, felling the foe without mercy, remorse or fear."
Roboute Guilliman, from the Apocrypha of Skaros

The majority of a Chapter's regular battle-brothers serve in Tactical Squads where they form the solid backbone of most Astartes strike forces. Led by highly experienced Sergeants and equipped with a variety of weapons, Tactical Squads are highly flexible units, able to fulfil almost any battlefield role, from providing fire support to purging the enemy in close combat.

  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: A full squad consists of 10 Marines, with the option to split the squad into two 5-man Combat Squads. While all Marine types can do this, it's most commonly done by Tactical Marines, especially for means of delivering a heavy weapon such as a lascannon or missile launcher to a spot where that Combat Squad can provide fire support while the other Combat Squad ranges on for more mobile fighting.
  • Master of All: Tactical Marines are known for their mastery of war, having served in both Devastator and Assault squads prior.
  • Series Mascot: When people think Space Marines, they are thinking of the Tactical Squads, as they are by far the most commonly depicted.

Intercessor Squads

See the Primaris Space Marine Character Page.

    Close Support Squads 
Fast and aggressive units, close support squads are tasked with shattering enemy battlelines with highly coordinated and vicious assaults. Close support squads typically make up a quarter of the units in a Chapter's Battle Company while the entirety of the 8th Reserve Company consists of such squads. Assault squads and Assault Centurions are the most common types of close support squads along with light vehicles such as Bikes and Land Speeders. Primaris close support units consist of Inceptor and Reiver Squads.

Assault Marines

"And of the Assault Marine so do I decree: He shall descend upon the perfidious foe as an Angel of Judgment from on high. Let the jump pack be his wings, and the roar of its engines a hymn of retribution. Let the chainsword be his sceptre of decree, its harsh voice singing joyfully with each and every blow. With it shall the Assault Marine bring bloody retribution to the heretic, the traitor, and all alien aggressors who trespass on the Emperor's domain. So will the Assault Marine be the hunter of warlords and the slayer of kings. His armour shall run slick with the life-blood of the vanquished, and all shall honour his name."
Roboute Guilliman, from the Apocrypha of Skaros

Assault Squads are one of the primary close combat units fielded by the Adeptus Astartes. Marines are commonly assigned to Assault Squads after they have proved their reliability and skill while serving as a Devastator. Either mounted in a transport or equipped with jump packs, Assault Squads typically take part in the first wave of a strike force’s offensive, using their speed and manoeuvrability to strike at the weakest points of an enemy’s battle line. When not leading an attack, Assault Squads are often deployed as heavily armed reconnaissance units, or as a mobile reserve to stymie an enemy assault.

  • Close-Range Combatant: Assault Squads are equipped solely for close combat, usually with pistols and chainswords.
  • Dual Wielding: In some editions of the rules, such as 2nd and 8th, Assault Sergeants can choose to forego a ranged option and dual wield melee weapons.
  • Dynamic Entry: Assault Marines often find that hundreds of pounds of armored Astartes is an effective weapon in itself. Even when they're not leaping on foes from on high, Assault Marines will trigger their boosters to smash into enemies when charging across open ground.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Assault squads have an advantage over Tactical squads in that they can take two flamers instead of just one, which can be very problematic for lightly armored foes.
  • Hot-Blooded: Assault Marines lust for battle after years or even decades of avoiding close combat in Scout or Devastator squads.
  • Jet Pack: Assault Marines are notable for wearing jump packs to deliver Death from Above.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Big armored men with jump packs who can storm in, kill everything and make their getaway before anyone knows what hit them.


The Astartes deploy squads of bike mounted Marines for fast-attack operations, using speed, manoeuvrability and the element of surprise to engage enemy formations before withdrawing while foe is still reeling from their sudden assault. All Marines receive training in the use of the rugged and powerful Space Marine Bike during their time as a Scout and, even after becoming a full battle-brother, Assault Marines and the entirety of a Codex Chapter's 6th Reserve Company continue to train for mounted combat so that they can be fielded as Bike squads should the need arise. When a greater degree of firepower is required, Bike squads will often be accompanied by Attack Bikes, specially modified, two-person Bikes that mount a formidable heavy weapon in addition to the traditional twin bolters that all Space Marine Bikes are armed with.

  • Badass Biker: Space Marine Bikes are just as overbuilt and tough as their riders, described as navigating concrete walls by crashing through them.
  • Car Fu: Space Marine Bikers are known to use the speed, weight and momentum of their heavily reinforced mounts to pulp the flesh of their enemy when they assault their foe. In some editions this is represented by the Biker gaining a special attack on the turn that they charge.
  • Cool Sidecar: Attack Bikes are Space Marine Bikes fitted with a sturdy sidecar that sports a heavy weapon such as a heavy bolter or multi-melta, turning the Bike into a capable mobile weapons platform.

Land Speeders

Fast and agile anti-grav vehicles, Land Speeders are able to fulfil a number of different battlefield roles, from armed reconnaissance to seek-and-destroy missions, depending on their configuration. All Astartes receive training in how to crew a Land Speeder, with the most talented battle-brothers able to perform spectacular, high-speed manoeuvres at dangerously low altitudes. There are a number of different Land Speeder patterns in use by the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, including the Land Speeder Storm light transport, the long-ranged Land Speeder Typhoon, and the more heavily armoured, single-seater Land Speeder Tempest.

  • Fragile Speedster: While the Land Speeder has the highest speed of any Astartes vehicle that isn't an aircraft they also have the lowest Toughness and Wounds characteristics of the Space Marine vehicle pool.
  • Hover Tank: Land Speeders are the most common form of armoured anti-grav vehicle utilised by the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The grav-drives of a Land Speeder aren't powerful enough for high altitude operations but they are capable of lifting the vehicle over most terrain and obstacles while still retaining a high degree of manoeuvrability.
  • Target Spotter: Land Speeders often act as spotters for Whirlwinds and other artillery units, using their speed and manoeuvrability to scout out enemy positions before relaying their positions to their allies. During 7th Edition this was represented by the Suppression Force Formation that teamed a Land Speeder with a pair of Whirlwinds, while 8th Edition has the Datalink Telemetry Stratagem that increases the accuracy of Whirlwinds firing at targets visible to a nearby Land Speeder.

Inceptor Squads

See the Primaris Marine Character Page.

Reiver Squads

See the Primaris Marine Character Page.

    Fire Support Squads 

Fire Support squads provide covering fire for their battle-brothers, engaging the enemy at range to suppress infantry and to take out priority targets such as commanders or heavy armour. Roughly a quarter of a Battle Company's fighting strength will be made up of fire support squads while the 9th Reserve Company is made up entirely of such units. The fire support squads utilised by the Adeptus Astartes are generally fielded as Devastator and Devastator Centurion squads while the Primaris Marines are formed into Hellblaster and Aggressor fire support squads.


"A Devastator's reach shall be without limit and his touch without mercy. Fire shall roar from his fingertips, but it shall consume him not. Thunder will roar when he calls, yet it will swallow him not. Let the Devastator squad be thy blazing wrath, bringing the light of the Emperor's justice to the darkest corners of the battlefield. Wherever he stands, that shall be his fortress of righteousness. He shall hold in his gift the fate of all who pass before his unblinking gaze. All shall fear him, and he shall fear no one."
Roboute Guilliman, from the Apocrypha of Skaros

The primary Astartes fire support unit, Devastators specialise in providing long-ranged covering fire to their battle-brothers, as well as engaging enemy armoured vehicles and other priority targets. Service with a Chapter's Devastator squads is often the first position a regular Astartes will fill after promotion from the Scout Company, allowing the newly inducted warrior to gain battlefield experience without the risks of front-line combat. Devastator squads are typically equipped with a range of weapons, from regular bolters to high powered lascannons and plasma cannons, with the more lightly armed Astartes acting as spotters and close support for the more heavily armed brethren.

  • The Big Guy: While most Space Marines are of the same size, experienced Devastator Marines usually act as these due to being equipped with the biggest guns even by space marine Standards.
  • BFG: Using these in battle is a Devastator Squad's main purpose. They commonly wield heavy bolters, lascannons, plasma cannons, multi-meltas, grav cannons, heavy flamers and missile launchers, long-ranged and powerful weapons which are utilized easily enough from an entrenched location but are not easily man-portable and would hamper the movement of a Tactical squad to tote around. In-game, this is reflected by such weapons having the Heavy stat, meaning that the bearer takes a -1 penalty to his Ballistic Skill if he moves before firing.
  • Long-Range Fighter: Devastator Marines are equipped with heavy weapons to act as long ranged battlefield support for their brethren.

Hellblaster Squads

See the Primaris Marine Character Page.

Aggressor Squads

See the Primaris Marine Character Page.

    Multirole Squads 


"Hear me out. A Space Marine...inside...of a Space Marine!"
Games Workshop CEO, Inside Games Workshop

Developed from an STC design found in the wake of the Age of Apostasy, Centurion warsuits incorporate heavy ablative armour that provides an Astartes increased protection from enemy attacks, as well as firing aids and recoil dampeners that allow the wearer to fire heavy weapons on the move with increased accuracy. Due to their relative lack of speed, Centurion warsuits are typically fielded in close terrain and for siege warfare. Those who pilot Centurion warsuits are drawn from a Chapter’s Battle and Reserve Companies and can be equipped for either close support or fire support depending on the specialisation of the pilot.

  • Arm Cannon: The primary weapons wielded by Centurion Devastators are mounted on the underside of their forearms, keeping their hands free so that they can still fight effectively despite carrying a pair of heavy weapons.
  • Chest Blaster: Both types of Centurion Armor have weapons built into their chests for even more attacking power. Hurricane bolters are a standard option, but Assault Centurions can opt for grenade launchers to take care of enemy infantry and Devastator Centurions can take missile launchers for a longer range attack.
  • Meta Mecha: Centurion armor is essentially a huge, unwieldy suit of Power Armor wrapped around the pilot's normal Power Armor and loaded down with either terrifying amounts of firepower or tank- and building-shredding drills with built-in flamethrowers or meltaguns.
  • Mighty Glacier: Devastator Centurions are deployed for missions that require Space Marines to bring exceptional levels of firepower, such as siege warfare or bringing the firepower of a tank into confined quarters. Their only real weakness is their lack of speed, and they are easily outpaced by fast-moving foes. Thus, they are primarily employed to besiege defended enemy positions or to defend their own fortifications, or used as mobile firebases to strengthen the advancing battle line.
  • Siege Engines: Centurions are brutal specialist weapons tactically deployed as line breakers and besiegers, where haste is less important than durability.
  • This Is a Drill: Assault Centurions have large grinding drills on their arms to tear into enemy fortifications.


"Forget all your preconceptions of war, of battle-lines clashing in the churned ground. Your mission is to attack before the foe even realises that the war has begun, to strike hard at those vital weaknesses that all armies possess, but that no commander will admit to. Under my tutelage you will learn how to seek out such fragilities and smite them with every weapon at your disposal. Master these duties and I will have nothing more to teach, and you will truly be a Space Marine."
Sergeant Torias Telion, Ultramarines 10th Company

Once an initiate has reached a certain point in their biological development and martial training, he will become a Scout and join his elder battle-brothers on campaign to gain real combat experience and master his enhanced physiology. The Codex Astartes stipulates that the 10th Company of a chapter be a dedicated Scout Company, and it is here that a Chapter's Scouts are organised, armed, and trained by sergeant instructors under the command of the Master of the Recruits.

As Scouts do not have the full complement of enhanced organs (most specifically the Black Carapace that allows an Astartes to interface with their trademark power armour), they wear lighter carapace armour, and often wield less powerful weaponry, geared more towards stealth than strength. On the battlefield, Scouts are typically fielded as infiltrators and assassins, gathering intelligence, sabotaging enemy positions, sniping leaders, and generally causing as much chaos and disruption as possible. Once a Scout has proven themselves worthy, they will be implanted with the remaining Astartes organs and join the ranks of the Chapter as a fully-fledged warrior.

  • Badass Normal: Scouts are this in comparison to Astartes, as they haven't received the full regimen of organs that creates a Marine, and their Scout-type carapace armor isn't as strong as normal power armor. Still, they are deadly opponents and can more than hold their own in combat. Averted by some Chapters on principle and other chapters by circumstance. The Space Wolves only put their experienced veterans into the scouts, whilst other chapters pragmatically deploy their most talented marines into the scout companies to train a dedicated covert force.
  • Booby Trap: Space Marine Scouts mounted on bikes are often equipped with cluster mines, advanced anti-personnel explosives that the Scouts deploy behind enemy lines to disrupt movement and to cover their retreat. In some editions of the game, these mines allowed a Scout Bike squad to booby trap terrain pieces, turning them into dangerous terrain that had a chance of wounding enemy models that moved through them. In 8th Edition, however, Cluster Mines are a Space Marine Stratagem that has a chance of causing mortal wounds when a Scout Bike squad Falls Back.
  • Cold Sniper: Scouts are the only ones who get armed with a Sniper Rifle for long distance strikes against enemy commanders and other important targets. For a full fledged Brother to do this would be considered dishonorable.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Scouts are responsible for the Chapter's covert operations.
  • Jack of All Trades: Scouts perform all sorts of battle support but they're not as flexible as Tactical marines, as good in close combat as Assault marines or as precise with heavy weapons as Devastators.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Scouts could give Delta Force or Seal Team Six a run for their money. Alas, it is their armored brothers that get all the press.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Some Scouts are equipped with Astartes shotguns, sometimes known as Astartes assault or combat shotguns, that are more powerful than the shotguns used by other Imperial forcesnote . The high rate of fire and the ability to fire on the move make these short-ranged weapons highly useful to Scout squads operating in dense terrain.
  • Stealth Expert: Scouts frequently wear an Invisibility Cloak made of a material called cameoline which mimics the surroundings.


Top: Ultramarines Terminator with power fist and storm bolter.
Bottom: Blood Angels Assault Terminator with dual lightning claws.

"Within dark and forgotten places hide the enemies of the Emperor. You have been chosen to enter such places and, protected by the best armour the Adeptus Mechanicus can provide, cleanse it. Take with you weapons, a valiant heart and the Emperor's blessing, and engage the enemy where it makes its lair. Acknowledge death as it approaches, but do not succumb to its touch, for your purpose is great. You have proved yourselves to be worthy of the status you now hold. Every one of you standing here, all of whom have declared allegiance to the Emperor and take his will as your guide, have shown courage and have been rewarded for it. Those that stand before me, I charge you now, go forth and vanquish the foe."
— Extract from the Pax Terminatum

Those promoted to the honoured 1st Company of a Chapter have proven themselves worthy of being armed with some of the most powerful equipment available to the Astartes and the rare and powerful suits of Tactical Dreadnought armour, more commonly known as Terminator armour, is one of the most iconic of these. Considered to some of the best personal armour available to the forces of humanity, Terminator armour is capable of shrugging off all but the most devastating of attacks and wield powerful weapons that even a regular Astartes would struggle to lift with incredible ease. While the Indomitus pattern is the most commonly seen form of Terminator armour other, even rare and more powerful, patterns are sometimes worn by a Chapter's greatest warriors.

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Originally, Terminator armor was meant to replace the regular kind as the legions’ main battle plate due to its better armor, firepower, and usefulness in the shock-and-awe tactics the Space Marines favor. This didn’t happen, due to Terminator armor being very heavy and unwieldy, extremely maintenance-intensive and expensive to make, and vulnerable against Marines in regular, more nimble armor.
  • Backpack Cannon:
    • The Cyclone Missile launcher can be mounted on a Terminator's back.
    • In 8th Edition, some Tartaros pattern Terminators are equipped with grenade harnesses, ancient grenade launchers mounted on their backs that fire frag grenades to increase their squad's anti-personnel firepower. This is also a nod towards the Terminator Auto-Launchers Wargear Card from 2nd Edition that could fire either frag or blind grenades.
  • Blinded by the Light: The Photon Beam Searchlight was a rare piece of wargear from previous editions of the game that consisted of a high-powered searchlight that, when triggered, would flash in short, intense bursts to blind the enemy. The 2nd Edition rules for is wargear treated it like a directed photon flash flarenote  with a 50% chance of blinding any opponent under its template.
  • Boarding Party: Terminators are often tasked to board and investigate space hulks, their teleporters and chainfists allowing them to move about as needed and their suits and weapons being able to take on whatever might be lurking around, from Orks to Genestealers to daemons.
  • Creepy Crosses: The Crux Terminatus, a cross-shaped icon with a skull motif, often with crossed bones behind the skull. Worn by Veterans in general, it's mounted on the left pauldron of Terminator armor and sometimes on one knee as well. It's one of the most revered icons in a Space Marine chapter, partly because of the significance of having the honor of wearing it and partly because the Cruxes worn by Terminator Captains are rumored to contain a tiny sliver of the Emperor's personal armor. The loss or destruction of a Crux is seen as deeply shameful.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Terminators are very limited in the arsenal they can carry. While most of what they have is typically more powerful than the weapons of a normal squad, for examples the storm bolter and power fist compared to bolter and combat knife, they lack the armor-busting capacity of energy weapons like lascannons and multi-meltas. The gaiden game Deathwatch offers the reason for this, Tactical Dreadnought armor has very specific circuitry and the power system is already heavily taxed so they could only put so much.
  • Deflector Shield: The rare and heavy Cataphractii pattern of Terminator armour incorporates powerful, personal shield generators that offer greater protection than regular Indomitus pattern Terminator armour but at the cost of mobility. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving Cataphractii Terminators an improved invulnerable save at the cost of a reduced Advance move. They also only have a base movement of 4" as opposed to the Indominus Pattern's 5"
  • Dungeon Bypass: Terminators are specifically designed for such tactics (primarily space boarding actions) — they have teleporters to get past the enemy lines, the heaviest armor to keep them alive when away from support, and power fists and chainfists to make their own door whenever needed.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Terminators taking part in boarding actions, or operating in dense terrain, will often have one of their members equipped with a heavy flamer so that they can fill corridors and enemy held cover with burning promethium.
  • Gatling Good: Assault cannons (multi-barrelled rotary autocannons normally mounted on tanks, flyers, and Dreadnoughts), can be one-handed by Terminators as a heavy weapons option.
  • The Juggernaut:
    • Terminators are Nigh-Invulnerable thanks to their heavy armor, which though relatively cumbersome allows them to stroll through firefights that would give even normal Power Armor pause. In-game, Terminator armor gives a 2+ armor save and the Crux Terminatus adds a 5+ invulnerable save, much better than a normal Marine's sole 3+ armor save.
    • Terminators in assault squads armed with a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield take this even further, as the Storm Shield bumps their invul save to 3+ invulnerable save. This combo gives them a level of protection virtually unrivaled by any non-character model anywhere else in the game (as a reference, these guys get the same save against armour-piercing anti-tank lasers as a normal Space Marine gets against small arms fire). Accordingly, they are considered one of the best, if not the best close combat units in the game.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Terminators in the rare Tartaros Pattern Armor enjoy higher mobility without the loss in protection. In the 8th Edition rules this is represented by giving them a base movement of 6", same as the Marines in standard power armor.
  • Lost Technology: Many patterns of Terminator Armour can no longer be produced. The Adeptus Mechanicus still have the STC for the Indomitus Pattern, but even then, the technology is effectively almost-lost because of the sheer difficulty and expense of making new suits.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Most of the time the Storm Shields of the assault squads will protect them. It gives them a 3+ invulnerable save against everything, so the only reliable way to kill a squad using them is direct a massive amount of gunfire at them so their saves eventually fail.
  • Mighty Glacier: Terminator armor is much slower and more cumbersome than the regular variety. On the other hand, it carries much heavier weaponry and is so durable that a Marine wearing it can survive being stepped on by a Titan.
  • More Dakka: In comparison to normal Astartes. Not only can Terminators field assault cannons and Cyclone Missile launchers, a storm bolter is their standard sidearm, essentially doubling their default firepower. In-game, storm bolters put out two shots to a normal boltgun's one shot.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: The regular Terminator squads don't see much use because most players will use the Assault Squads for the save granted by their Storm Shields.
  • Praetorian Guard: In previous editions it was possible to take Terminator Command Squads, either as upgrades to a regular Terminator Squad or as a separate choice entirely, to represent the Command Squad of the 1st Company. In 2016 a Terminator Command Squad model kit was released.
  • Power Fist: The power fist is the standard Terminator close combat weapon. Surrounded by a matter destabilizing energy field, Terminators use these power gloves to rip apart their enemies and to batter their way through obstacles they may encounter during a boarding action.
  • Teleportation: The protection provided by Terminator armour is so great that it even allows those wearing it to survive brief exposure to the energies of the warp. As a result of this, Terminators are far more likely to be deployed via teleportation than their less protected brethren, the arcane technology of their ship's teleportarium shifting them momentarily into the immaterium so that they can deploy directly into a battle. In-game, this allows Terminator units that aren't in transports to enter play while the game is underway rather than deploying with the rest of the army at the beginning of the game.

    Sternguard & Vanguard Veterans

As few Chapters have the resources to equip all their Veterans with suits of Terminator armour, the majority of their 1st Company will take to the battlefield wearing more traditional Power Armour. These squads of veterans are less strictly organised than other Astartes units, equipped to take on specific foes and missions as needed, and are typically formed into squads depending on their speciality. Those veterans who excel at ranged combat are formed into Sternguard Squads, tasked with supporting their less experienced battle brothers with pinpoint fire and superior weaponry, as well as providing covering fire when a Chapter is forced into a fighting retreat. Those veterans who make up the Chapter's Vanguard squads, on the other hand, specialise in close combat and can be found in the thick of the fighting, using the speed of their jump packs and transports to exert the maximum pressure at the point in an opponent's battle-line where their skill and ferocity will be most effective.

  • Abnormal Ammo: Sternguard Veterans can upgrade their bolt weapons with Special Issue Ammunition, a variety of specialized bolt rounds such as the long range Kraken bolts or the armour piercing but highly unstable Vengeance rounds.
  • BFS: Vanguard Veteran Sergeants are sometimes honoured with a relic blade, a two-handed power weapon of masterful craftsmanship.
  • Continuity Nod: Two of the bare heads from the Sternguard Veterans (specifically these two) are clearly based on Captain Titus and Sergeant Sidonus from the Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine video game.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Sternguard Veterans are known for being icy calm in the heat of battle.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: There was originally only a single generic "Veteran" unit that could take a variety of upgrades. Later editions split Veterans into the close combat-focused Vanguard and ranged-focused Sternguard.
  • Dynamic Entry: In previous editions, Vangaurd Veterans were one of the few units able to launch an assault on the turn that they arrived via Deep Strike.
  • Elite Mooks: Both Veteran units are upgraded versions of Tactical and Assault squads.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Due to their opposing methods of fighting. Both squads strive to outdo each other and compete for more dangerous battlefield roles. Its usually kept civil, but no matter how mean they are to each other they're still no less comrades than anyone else.
  • Jet Pack: As with Assault Marines, Vanguard Veterans often wear jump packs for greater speed and maneuverability.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: One of a Sternguard Veteran's primary roles is to cover a fighting retreat by the rest of a Space Marine force, holding the enemy at bay.

A Castaferrum pattern Dreadnought with twin lascannons and a missile launcher.

We pray for our brethren who pilot the Dreadnoughts. Though they take new form, their souls, and their weapon mounts, remain pure.
Marneus Calgar

Dreadnoughts are large combat walkers that stand between two and three times the height of an Astartes battle-brother and sport an array of powerful weaponry. Fitted with arcane life-support systems, Dreadnoughts are piloted by mortally wounded Astartes warriors and allow these honoured heroes to continue to serve the Emperor and their Chapter far beyond their normal span. When not needed in battle, these living relics are allowed to sleep in stasis within their Chapter's fortress monastery. The most common form of Dreadnought in use at the end of the 41st Millennium is the Mark V Castraferrum pattern Dreadnought, but numerous other patterns of Dreadnought see service within the armouries of the Adeptus Astartes.

  • And I Must Scream: Despite the high esteem most Dreadnoughts are placed in and being revered as sources of great wisdom and knowledge, being inside the thing is a whole different matter. The Space Marine inside a Dreadnought has to be so horribly wounded (i.e. having damage that would kill a normal person ten times over) that the only way to save him is to seal him forever in a life-support sarcophagus. This neither erases the pain the wounded veteran feels nor gives them comfort, and for the rest of his life, his entire existence is either sleeping in a deathless trance or rampaging around the battlefield in a walking tank.
  • Artifact of Death: Above other Dreadnought variants is the Leviathan Dreadnought. Much bigger and stronger than any other Dreadnought pattern, this artifact of Lost Technology was made on Terra instead of Mars and were designed to have force fields and tremendous amounts of firepower, including guns unique to them. However, they are rarely used as their systems take a dangerously high toll on the entombed Astartes' mind and body, spurring them to horrible violence and driving them to the brink of insanity, if not beyond. A Space Marine can live for centuries normally and are virtually immortal inside a standard Dreadnought, but only have a lifespan of a few years if they're encased in a Leviathan. The Redemptor Dreadnought pattern of the Primaris Marines also have this issue of often killing its inhabitant over time.
  • Chest Blaster: Both the Leviathan and Redemptor patterns have guns built into its torso to make these two the Walking Arsenal of the bunch.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: In gameplay, using a Dreadnought in a melee configuration the way lore depicts usually doesn't end well, special versions from other chapters notwithstanding. Even if Dreadnoughts can get into melee, at best they typically kill one or two models a round.
  • Deflector Shield: One of the advanced systems fitted to the ancient and rare Contemptor, Deredeo and Leviathan pattern Dreadnoughts is the atomic field generator. This piece of techno-arcana produces a powerful energy field that can deflect the energy of almost any attack, represented in the 8th Edition rules by a 4+ invulnerable save.
  • The Dreaded: Leviathans are regarded in awe and terror in equal measure, and spoken of only in hushed tones. It takes nothing less than the full authority of a Chapter Master to deploy one, and they are never seen until the Godzilla Threshold has been crossed.
  • Emergency Transformation: A Space Marine who survives crippling injuries can be interred within a life-support sarcophagus, which is connected to the Dreadnought's motive and fire control systems and allows him to pilot the machine.
  • Famed In-Story: Dreadnoughts are universally renowned within their chapter, especially Venerable ones. Most players can name Bjorn The Fell-Handed, Tancred, and Davian Thule.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Dreadnoughts are surprisingly agile, able to walk and balance with the ease of a living creature.
  • Lost Technology: Because the art of constructing them has been almost lost, Dreadnoughts are revered as rare machines. This especially goes for the Contemptor, Deredeo, and Leviathan patterns which originated during the time of the Great Crusade.
  • Man in the Machine: Marines interred in a Dreadnought continue fighting even though their original flesh bodies are broken beyond repair (keep in mind that "beyond repair" for an 8' tall super soldier with advanced strength and healing would involve injuries that would kill a normal human ten times over).
  • Mini-Mecha: Dreadnoughts are bulky, bipedal walkers, three times as tall as a man, and piloted by a mortally wounded Astartes hero. Armed with massive weapons such as Assault cannons, Plasma Cannons or lascannons, as well as Power Fists and more exotic weapons for the Ironclad variant such as Seismic Hammers. While most patterns of Dreadnought have a humanoid appearance (especially those of the Contemptor-pattern), those outfitted purely for ranged firepower, such as the Mortis-pattern, can resemble Walking Tanks.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Unlike later patterns of Dreadnought, which typically have the auxiliary ranged weapon slung under their close combat weapon, Contemptor Dreadnoughts often incorporate their combi-bolters into the power fist itself, the antique weapon firing from within the palm of the weapon.
  • More Dakka:
    • As far as dreadnoughts go, the Mortis-pattern versions of the various Dreadnought classes have far superior firepower and rate of fire. In place of the typical heavy gun and dreadnought close combat weapon, Mortis dreadnoughts can take multiple rapid-fire ranged weapons such as heavy bolters or autocannons.
    • The Relic Deredeo Dreadnought is equipped with multiple weapon batteries that can put out an extreme amount of firepower. Combined with a rare and sophisticated targeting array, the Deredeo uses its massive firepower to target enemy aircraft.
  • Old Master: Once interred within a Dreadnought's sarcophagus, the Marine inside cannot leave and is destined for a life of endless battle until destroyed. Some are so ancient their memories may extend back to the founding of their chapter and its earliest history. For this reason they are revered not just as powerful warriors but also as ageless forebears and living embodiments of battles fought long ago. Venerable Dreadnoughts are especially ancient and renowned.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Dreadnoughts tend to spend much of their downtime resting, with many chapters believing that the marine so honored to be interred in one has earned a measure the repose otherwise denied to him. Such dreadnoughts remain in stasis and can remain so indefinitely until the appropriate rites of reawakening are performed to summon them to a battle that demands their skills or the chapter needs them to share their stories. The older a dreadnought becomes, the more difficult they become to rouse, so the eldest are only woken when the situation is desperate.
  • Secret Weapon: Dreadnoughts are summoned only during times of great battle, where victory cannot be achieved through the valor of mortal men alone.
  • Siege Engines: Ironclad Dreadnoughts are designed for close quarters combat and breaching attacks, with exceptionally heavy armor and striking weapons used to smash enemy fortifications and tanks. Their projectile weaponry is also mostly designed for closer fighting than other Dreadnoughts.
  • Time Abyss: The occupants of many Dreadnoughts, particularly Venerable Dreadnoughts, are ancient even by Astartes standards. It is not unusual for some of the oldest Dreadnought pilots to have witnessed the founding of their Chapter while some 1st and 2nd Founding Chapters can field Venerable Dreadnoughts whose pilots fought during the Scouring. This great age is represented in the 8th Edition rules by the Wisdom of the Ancients Stratagem that allows nearby squads to benefit from the Dreadnought's experience to improve their firing.
  • Undying Warrior: Interred in huge walking life-support tanks and allowed to sleep, sometimes for centuries, until they're needed in battle again.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: The whole point of Dreadnoughts is to turn broken men into literal fighting machines.

The enemies of the Imperium fear many things, they fear discovery, defeat and death. But most of all they fear the wrath of the Space Marines!