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 8th Edition codex was released in August 2019.
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.
- 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.
- 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?: All Astartes have this trait to some extent, as part of their enhancement includes making their brains more resistant to post-traumatic stress.
- Art Major Biology: The only possible way (besides the ever-present Rule of Cool) that the physiological changes and organ implants that go into creating a Space Marine could ever be made to work.
- Asexuality: By the time a Space Marine is done with training, they have few impulses beyond fighting and killing in the name of the Emperor, and thus have no interest in sex.
- 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: Every Astartes Strike Force consists of multiple squads of some of the best warriors that humanity has ever produced, each equipped with powerful weapons and wargear. Even the lowest ranked Astartes is able to take on many times their number of regular troops and an entire army of them can consist of dozens of such Super Soldiers.
- Badass Baritone: Space Marines are frequently described as having deep baritone or basso voices as a result of their large sizes, though in adaptations it of course depends on the voice actors.
- 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.
- Blood Brothers: 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.
- 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.
- BrainComputer 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: Astartes are recruited as young as 10 years old.
- 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.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: A Space Marine's hypno-indoctrination removes their sense of Primal Fear, replacing their sense of recoiling revulsion with contempt.
- 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.
- 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 making frequent use of airborne soldiers or Jet Packs.
- 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: A signature Marine tactic, as few foes can recover from a surprise attack that instantly puts dozens of Marines in the middle of your base camp.
- 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.
- Drop the Hammer: Thunder Hammers are ginormous mallets wrapped in an electrical field that stuns whatever they don't pulverize.
- 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...
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Justified, as Space Marines' Bio-Augmentation enhances their physique to super-human levels, and their daily training keeps it in top form, so they can hardly have any other build but a heroic one.
- Averted in First Edition. The Rogue Trader Marines were kind of paunchy in a lot of illustrations, since they were portrayed more as bumbling, doughnut-munching Space Police than the super elite warrior monks we all know and love today.
- 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 Marines 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.
- 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 Tau Empire views them. Space Marines are one of the few aliens with which the Tau will not attempt diplomacy but will instead exterminate on sight. This is because, 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 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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: The implants don't work on women, alright] Though if they did, given the Marines' grotesque musculature and armor it'd be hard to tell the difference.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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-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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- An Axe to Grind: The 2013 8th Company Captain model wields a large double-headed power axe to represent his traditional role of Lord Executioner of a Chapter.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: 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).
- 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.
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 Chapters gene-seed, as well as overseeing the procedures required to transform a neophyte into a full Marine.
- Chainsaw Good: Some nartheciums have a chainsaw added to it mostly used to open up their deceased's power armour and get 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.
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 Chapters holiest relics. The highest ranked Chaplain in a Chapter is the Master of Sanctuary who acts as one of the Chapter Masters 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 Weapon of Choice 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.
- Death from Above: Chaplains sometimes join Assault squads, using jump packs for aerial attacks.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 Imperiums 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.
- An Axe to Grind: As members of the Adeptus Mechanicus Techmarines share the Martian Priesthood's Weapon of Choice, the power axe. Although the exact style of axe varies, these power axes typically sport a cog-toothed blade and bear the emblem of the Adeptus Mechanicus, allowing it to pull double duty as a symbol of the Techmarine's rank.
- Cargo Cult: Like the rest of the Adeptus Mechanicus, they literally worship technology that they dont 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.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Due to the aforementioned Artificial Limbs.
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.
See the Primaris Space Marine Character Page.
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 forces offensive, using their speed and manoeuvrability to strike at the weakest points of an enemys 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.
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.
See the Primaris Marine Character Page.
See the Primaris Marine Character Page.
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.
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.
See the Primaris Marine Character Page.
See the Primaris Marine Character Page.
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 Chapters 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.
Once an initiate has reached a certain point in their biological development and martial training, he will become a Scout and join their elder battle-brothers on campaign, so that they can 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.
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 didnt 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 Cool 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.
- 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"
- Drop the Hammer: Some Terminators carry Thunderhammers, power weapons whose power field, instead of being spread out along a blade, is concentrated on the hammers head and energizes on contact in a devastating concussive blast. Regular, armored Marines need two hands to wield these things, but Terminators swing them about one-handed.
- 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 Patern 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.
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.
- Creepy Cool Crosses: Although they rarely have them moulded onto their armour, all veterans were the Crux Terminatus as a symbol of their status.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Well...more of a feared and revered machine, but standing above other Dreadnought variants is the Leviathan Dreadnought. Much bigger and stronger than any other Dreadnought pattern, these were 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We Can Rebuild Him: The whole point of Dreadnoughts is to turn broken men into literal fighting machines.