Imperium of Man (Founders, Adeptus Astartes [Chapters, Characters, Primaris Marines], Astra Militarum, Adepta Sororitas, Inquisition, Mechanicus, Other factions)
Forces of Chaos (Chaos Gods, Chaos Primarchs, Heretic Astartes) | Xeno Races | Aeldari (Asuryani, Drukhari) | Necrons | Orks | T'au Empire | Tyranids
Chapters of the First Founding
The Dark Angels were originally the First Legion. Their Primarch is Lion El'Jonson and their current Supreme Grand Master is Azrael. They are based on the massive space-fortress Angelicasta (The Tower of Angels), more commonly known as the Rock, built from the remains of their destroyed home world Caliban.
As the first Space Marine Legion founded, the Dark Angels are blessed with advanced plasma and anti-grav devices in their armory, technological relics from the Great Crusade. However, the chapter is better known for its secrecy, and for pursuing an agenda it keeps hidden from Imperial authorities. It is rumored this is related to the destruction of their home world at the end of the Horus Heresy, the small role the Legion played during that conflict, as well as why they and their successor chapters refer to themselves as the Unforgiven.
The Dark Angels have been present in the Warhammer 40,000 game since its 1st Edition with the Deathwing being the subject of one of the first short stories that Games Workshop published for the game. During 2nd Edition the Chapter was detailed in Codex: Angels of Death alongside the Blood Angels while 3rd Edition saw them receive an expansion codex for Codex: Space Marines. The Dark Angels received their first full solo codex in 2007 during the 4th Edition of the game. The Dark Angels were the protagonists of the Storm of Vengeance campaign set for 2nd Editionnote and were the Imperial half of the Dark Crusade starter for the 6th and 7th Edition rules. The 8th Edition rules for the Dark Angels can be found in Codex Adeptus Astartes: Dark Angels released December 2017 while additional rules were included in the January 2020 supplement Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned.
- Ace Pilot: The greatest pilots of the Dark Angels are awarded with the Order of the Silver Talon and have their names engraved onto the Gate of Angels, the entrance to the Rock's largest launch bay. Only those pilots who have performed nearly impossible feats are awarded this honour, such as the lone Nephilim pilot who fought off wave after wave of Necron Doom Scythes for six hours.
- The Alcatraz: The Rock has an extensive network of dungeons. One cell accessible only to the Grand Master contains Luther, the heretic who led the Fallen into treason. In another chamber, known only to the Emperor and the silent Watchers in the Dark, is the slumbering form of the Dark Angels' Primarch, Lion El'Jonson.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Soon after the opening of the Great Rift, an army of Daemons invade the Rock while most of the Chapter was away. The fight between Dark Angels and Daemons takes up every dock, the most sacred halls and the deepest dungeon but soon the forces of Chaos disappear. The majority of Dark Angels celebrate it as a hard-fought victory that saved their base, but in the aftermath Grand Master Azrael learns that the true purpose of the attack was to free the traitor Luther.
- Aloof Ally: The Dark Angels have gained a reputation for being capricious allies, arriving in a battlezone and assisting those Imperial forces present before disappearing again with no warning or explanation, whether victory has been assured or not. In many cases, unless involved in particularly important campaigns, the Dark Angels won't even openly communicate with their supposed allies, let alone coordinate on joint operations.
- Anti-Magic: The Watchers in the Dark exhibit a mysterious ability to counter the powers of daemons and enemy psykers. In the Legacy of Russ series of short stories the presence of a single Watcher was enough to force the Changeling to give up its plans to free those imprisoned in the bowels of the Rock while in the 8th Edition of the game some Deathwing Squads can be accompanied by a Watcher who gives the squad the once per battle ability to stop an enemy power from effecting themnote .
- The Atoner: It's pretty much taken for granted that the Dark Angels are an entire chapter of these, but what (or whose) actions they're trying to redeem themselves for is, like pretty much everything about these guys, a closely guarded secret.
- Badass Long Robe:
- Dark Angels veterans and members of the Inner Circle stand out for wearing bone-colored robes over their power armor, often with large hoods. This is said to represent their shame over the actions of the Fallen.
- The Dark Angel Relic known as the Shroud of Heroes is a sombre robe created from the death shrouds of some of the greatest heroes of the Chapter. Those who wear this revered robe claim that the spirits of these heroes protect the wearer from harm, something the 8th Edition rules represent with a negative hit modifier against any attacks targeted at the bearer.
- Berserk Button: Any other Imperial forces investigating the Fallen, or even coming into contact with them, is known to extort extreme reactions from the Dark Angels. In one instance a Dark Angels fleet even went so far as to briefly engage a Black Templars Strike Cruiser who had captured the mysterious Voice of the Emperor.note
- Black Swords Are Better: The Heavenfall blades borne by highest-ranked leaders of the Dark Angels are master-crafted power swords that are some of the Chapter's most prized relics. Each has a blade cut from a block of obsidian said to have been part of an asteroid that struck the Tower of Angels shortly after the destruction of Caliban.
- BrainComputer Interface: The Master of the Rock is the most honoured Techmarine of the Dark Angels and it is his duty to maintain the ancient technology of the Chapter's fortress monastery. To do this the Master of the Rock is permanently wired into the Rock's control nave where his mind merges with the machine spirits of the Tower of Angels.
- A Commander Is You: Elitist/Unit Specialist. The Dark Angels have a preferance for units in Terminator armour and on bikes, making them powerful and flexible. However they lack certain standard Astartes units and have a subpar aerial game.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: The Horus Heresy novels have shown that there were members of other loyalist legions that sided with Horus and the Great Scouring purge of all Chaos aligned marines following the Heresy is implied to have targeted these traitors alongside the traitor legions. One Fallen rebuked his Dark Angel captors by pointing out they could have simply outed their own traitors and joined the hunt, but instead they chose to try and cover it all up, leading to their current difficulties.
- Dark Secret: The Dark Angels and their successors have engaged in a ten-thousand-year effort to conceal the fact that a faction of their Legion rebelled out of confusion or jealousy, causing the loyalists to destroy their own home world in a fury. A warp rift scattered these Fallen Angels across time and space, and the Dark Angels are obsessed with capturing them, both to hide their shame and to grant the Fallen absolution through vicious torture, thereby restoring the chapter's honor. Ironically, there are a few tantalizing indications that the Inquisition or the Grey Knights knows about the Fallen, and simply don't blame the Dark Angels for their forebears' shortcomings. This would imply that those within the Inquisition who might be on the know are less concerned with the Dark Angels' secrets than they are about the Angels' actions to avoid their secrets from getting out (which are rather concerning).
- Electronic Eyes: The Eye of the Unseen is an ancient relic of the Dark Angels that is bequeathed to heroes of the Chapter by the mysterious Watchers in the Dark. Those fitted with this bionic eye are able to fix their opponent with a malevolent gaze so unnerving that they can do nothing except drop to their knees and confess their sins.
- Fantastic Racism: In older editions the Dark Angels were known to be extremely intolerant of non-humans, even by Imperial standards, and were one of the few Imperial fractions who couldn't ally with the Squats or the Eldar. Later editions have downplayed this.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
- Caliban (while it lasted) had a similar culture to medieval Europe during the height of chivalry, with the local population living in cities fortified with stone walls and protected by orders of knight-like warriors against the hostile beasts that lived in the wilderness and forests.
- After Caliban's destruction, the Dark Angels went about recruiting from other worlds, including a feral world populated with Badass Natives who had a culture resembling the first nations of the great plains of North America. After repelling a genestealer invasion of that world, the Dark Angels' Deathwing company took to adopting some of their rituals and iconography, coloring their Terminator armor after ash and decorating it with crafts. This was actually dropped from later editions, opting to focus on the Dark Angels as Knights.
- Honor Before Reason: The pursuit of the Fallen trumps virtually all else in the Inner Circle's eyes, and thus they will regularly abandon campaigns and other objectives to hunt them down, along with performing arguably more dishonorable acts in the pursuit of retribution. This fact isn't lost on their current chapter master Azrael, who admits that what they're doing is wrong, but that they have a millennia-old oath to fulfill.
- Humble Hero: While other chapters parade around in Bling of War and speak proudly of their deeds, the Dark Angels shun such ostentatious and grandiose armor and prefer to let their actions speak for themselves.
- Irony: The Dark Angels will go to extreme length to prevent Imperial authorities from discovering the truth about the fracturing of their Legion at the end of the Horus Heresy, yet some material suggests that the Grey Knights (and therefore presumably others in the highest levels of the Inquisition and Imperial government) know about the Fallen but don't care as long as the rest remain loyal to the Emperor. This lead to a common joke that the Dark Angels overtly and flimsily profess their loyalty and codex compliancy while denying the existence of the Fallen, which are basically an Open Secret.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: Much of the Dark Angels' actions are questionable, potentially treasonous even. Their obsessive need to keep the secret of the Fallen from getting out is at the root of all of it, and the few Dark Angels who know the truth are heavily burdened by it.
- Knight Templar: Obsessed with hunting the Fallen above all else, and have been known to abandon their allies or even whole planets if it means recovering a priority target.
- Lies to Children: While the truth of the Fallen is kept concealed until one earns the trust of the Inner Circle, the Dark Angels prepare their brothers so that when the truth is revealed, it is not as devastating as it might be. The teachers, chaplains, and heroes of the chapter tell stories to the more junior members filled with allegory about how important loyalty is, how reprehensible disloyalty is, and how important it is to bring traitors to atonement. The higher they raise in esteem, the more detailed the stories become, describing how a great host was betrayed by traitors they came home to, and how they must strive not to let that happen in the future. By the time a Dark Angel finally learns the truth, they will have been indoctrinated thoroughly against revealing it.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Anyone the Inner Circle deems unable to keep its secrets will never rise to join its ranks, no matter how skilled or experienced he may be. Entire units and companies may be held back just to avoid exposing anyone deemed untrustworthy to the Fallen. These brothers who are perceived to have divided loyalties, such as the Techmarines with their secondary allegiance to the Mechanicus or the Primaris Marines who many within the Inner Circle perceive as outsider, are also routinely kept in the dark about the true history of the Dark Angels. Any regular battle-brother who somehow learns of Chapter's hidden past will be made to join the Deathwing or Ravenwing immediately, mind wiped or simply killed depending on how they take the revelation.
- Loophole Abuse: The Dark Angels follow the Codex pretty closely, keeping to Chapter-level strength. However, they maintain close links with their successor Chapters, often go on coordinated campaigns with them, and the Supreme Grand Masters of all the successor Chapters acknowledge the Dark Angels' Supreme Grand Master as their leader. This is so they can more efficiently hunt the Fallen, but it's drawn the Inquisition's gaze because it looks like they're subtly trying to build a Legion.
- Lost Technology: The Dark Angels' armoury contains archaeotech that is unavailable to other Chapters and even the Adeptus Mechanicus. These relics of past ages include a wide variety of plasma weaponry, unique patterns of Land Speeder and aircraft, and enough Terminator armour to equip their entire 1st Company.
- Meaningful Name: In keeping with the chapter name being a play on the poem "The Dark Angel", many characters' names are based on angels and demons from Judeo-Christian lore.
- Mind Rape: The Mind Worm psychic power essentially turns the target into a shambling, drooling idiot. In-game, a unit targeted by this power takes a mortal wound and is forced to be the last unit chosen to fight until the end of the turn.
- Mystery Cult: Whereas other chapters are proud of their history, the Dark Angels parcel out information about themselves as their members rise through the ranks. It isn't until a member joins either the Deathwing or the Ravenwing's special Black Knights that they learn of Luther's betrayal and the Fallen Angels, and even then there are several more levels of trust to go through until they're told the entire story.
- Named Weapon:
- Foe-Smiter is a highly ornate storm bolter forged during the Great Crusade and was wielded by the first Grand Master of the Deathwing. The weapon is considered to be the finest master-crafted weapon created by the Martian weaponsmith Fedorovich the Great with a rate of fire comparable to that of an assault cannon.
- The Lion's Roar is a master-crafted combi-plasma gun that got its name from the distinctive sound it creates when fired. The Lion's Roar is traditionally gifted to those Dark Angels leading assaults on fortified positions or boarding actions due to its superior ability to be fired on the move.
- The Mace of Redemption was specifically crafted to be the bane of the Fallen. Former Supreme Grand Master Raphael once used this sacred power maul to capture a Fallen Daemon Prince who ruled over the Daemon World of New Caliban.
- The Monster Slayer of Caliban is an ancient power blade once gifted to the greatest warrior of the Order. Unfortunately, the weapon has become incredibly unreliable over millennia of use, its power systems having degraded beyond the ability of the Chapter's Techmarines to fix. In-game the battlefield effectiveness of the Monster Slayer of Caliban is determined randomly each turn.
- Ominous Floating Castle: The Rock, an asteroid bearing the Dark Angels' fortress monastery, is a type II. It was the only part of Caliban tough enough to survive the planet's destruction, so the Dark Angels hardened their fortress for void travel and added engines. Unlike a lot of other examples, it qualifies as Dark Is Not Evil... mostly.
- The Order: The Inner Circle is this within the chapter, recruiting those who show promise in tracking down the Fallen.
- Plasma Cannon: One of the Dark Angels' specialties is arming themselves with ancient weaponry from the dawn of the Imperium, especially plasma weapons. To represent this the Dark Angels had a number of unique plasma weapons added to their arsenal during the 6th Edition of the game, while 8th Edition includes the 'Weapons from the Dark Age' unique Stratagem that increases the power of a unit's plasma weapons for a phase.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The Dark Angels defeated the Fallen but destroyed their home world in the process, and the Fallen escaped through a warpstorm that occurred right as their home world was destroyed, making sure the Dark Angels would have to work long and hard at making sure their old shame never got out.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Dark Angels will go to great, sometimes objectionable, lengths to hide the existence of the Fallen but it's been hinted the Inquisition already knows and doesn't even care.
- Significant Wardrobe Shift: After the battle with their traitorous brothers, destruction of Caliban and the apparent death of their Primarch in the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels changed their colors from black to green, with only the Deathwing and Ravenwing retaining the original black. The Dark Angels are the only loyalist first founding chapter to have changed their colors.
- The Spook: The Watchers in the Dark are diminutive, perpetually-robed-and-hooded figures who never speak and are immune to psychic probing. It's hypothesized that they might be aliens or even non-daemonic natives of the Warp, all that's certain about them is their almost guaranteed to not be human. All that is known about them is that they aid certain Dark Angels as weapon bearers, but never directly contribute in battle. They also keep watch over Lion El'Jonson as he slumbers in the depths of the Rock.
- The Stoic: Even among Astartes, the Dark Angels have a reputation for being stern and grim. Most units in their army get the Stubborn special rule, but can never voluntarily fall back either.
- The Strategist: Lion El'Jonson was a brilliant strategist and had one of the highest victory tallies of any of the Primarchs. Many of the Lion's gene-sons have inherited a measure of the Primarch's strategic genius, something represented in-game by the Brilliant Strategist Warlord trait that, in the 8th Edition rules, grants the Dark Angels player a once per battle re-roll and the chance of paining additional Command Points.
- Supernatural Fear Inducer: In 8th Edition, one of the Dark Angels Psychic Powers is 'Engulfing Fear'note where the Librarian heightens the fears of his enemies to make it more likely for them to fail a Morale test.
- Telepathy: To assist with the interrogation of the Fallen, the Librarians of the Unforgiven have developed their own unique form of telepathy, Interomancy. This sinister mental discipline sees a Librarian insidiously invade their victim's mind to weaken their psyche, manipulate their fears and exploit the gaps opened in their mental defences. In all the versions of the game where the discipline is included, the Psychic Powers available to those proficient in Interomancy focus mostly on inflicting penalties to the opponent's abilities in addition to, or instead of, causing direct damage.
- Treachery Cover Up: The Dark Angels have gone to extreme lengths to hide the treachery of the Fallen, mercilessly hunting down their former brothers and taking radical measures to ensure that the wider Imperium knows nothing of their ancient shame. Another theory suggests that the "loyal" Dark Angels were also traitors, in that they reportedly sat out the Horus Heresy to see who would win.
The Deathwing are the Dark Angels' First Company. Clad exclusively in bone-white Terminator Armor, they have the distinction of not only being the chapter's most elite veterans, but the key to admittance to the Inner Circle and thus becoming fully aware of the Dark Angels' most hidden secrets, including knowledge of the Fallen.
- Badass Long Robe: Deathwing Knights, the company's most elite members, wear hooded green robes over their armor.
- Carry a Big Stick: The traditional weapon of the highly experienced Deathwing Knights is the mace of absolution. This highly ornate power mace has a censor built into its head that emits an eerie mist and is said to increase in power when in the presence of heretics. Some editions of the game represented this by giving the mace a bonus when used against Heretic Astartes.
- Difficult, but Awesome: It's possible for a Dark Angel player to field an all Deathwing army. Such an army is difficult to play because its small size means it can't afford to take many losses, but it's very impressive when used right.
- Elite Army: Due to the secrecy surrounding the hunt for the Fallen, the Deathwing are far more likely to operate independently than the veterans of other Chapters. In some editions of the game this was represented by special army selection rules specific to the Deathwing that allowed a player to take an entire strike force of elite choices while in 8th Edition the Vanguard Detachment, one of the default Detachments available to all armies, allows the player to do the same.
- Epic Flail: Deathwing Knight Masters are equipped with a flail of the Unforgiven, multiheaded, barbed flails that are capable of stripping both armour and flesh from the bodies of the Master's foes. In game these weapons increase the wielder's Strength characteristic and can cut through all but the thickest armour. Additionally, in the 8th Edition rules, the wounds caused by the flail are able to affect multiple models in the target unit as the Master attacks with great sweeping swings.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Deathwing Knights are trained to link their storm shields together to form an impenetrable wall against their enemies' attacks. In previous editions of the game, this was represented by a special rule that boosted the Knight's Toughness characteristic while in base contact with other members of their squad. The 8th Edition rules meanwhile has the 'Fortress of Shields' Dark Angels Stratagem that makes it more difficult for enemy attacks to wound a Deathwing squad equipped with storm shields, something Deathwing Knights are equipped with as standard.
- More Dakka: Deathwing Terminators are trained to take maximum advantage of the surprise of their arrival when deploying via teleporter by unleashing a massive storm of firepower against their foe.
- Reforged Blade: The Halberd of Caliban, wielded by the Company Champion of the Deathwing, was created from one of the Blades of Calibannote that was shattered many years ago. The Halberd is inscribed with the names of every Champion to wield it and incorporates a censer that burns the ground finger bones of the Fallen.
- Token Minority: In some versions of the background material, the Deathwing will be the sole Native American-themed company of the Dark Angels, even though their actual members still have the appearance to the European monks they're based off of. Contrast with the Raven Guard who have the theme AND look the part (aside from chalk white skin).
- Uniqueness Decay: Being able to field an all Terminator army was initially something unique to the Dark Angels, but as new editions came on, other Space Marine armies gained the ability to field an all Terminator army as well, the Grey Knights being infamous for having Terminators as troops as a standard without requiring any special characters to unlock them.
- Wrecked Weapon: Invoked with the Deathwing's company badge, which is a red variant of the Dark Angels' symbol with the sword's blade broken to symbolize the fracturing of the Legion.
The Ravenwing are the Dark Angels' Second Company, specializing in mobile warfare revolving around bikes and unique versions of planes and Land Speeders. Their true purpose is to hunt the Fallen, working in tandem with the Deathwing.
- Badass Biker: The bike mounted battle-brothers that make up the majority of the Ravenwing are incredibly highly trained assault troops who use their speed and skill to tear the heart out of an enemy force and then fall back before their foe can retaliate.
- Born in the Saddle: Ravenwing outriders are known for leaving the saddle of their bikes only when they need to use the latrine or to participate in chapter rituals. They otherwise spend virtually all their time there, either fighting, hunting the Fallen, or training to do those things.
- Death from Above: The Dark Talon and the Nephilim Jetfighter are jet planes unique to the Ravenwing that are used for targeting ground-based and airborne enemies, respectively. The Dark Talon is also equipped with a stasis crypt which is used to transport captured Fallen back to the Rock.
- Drop the Hammer: The most elite members of the Ravenwing, the merciless Black Knights, wield heavy spiked hammers known as corvus hammers. These brutal weapons were designed in imitation of the monster-slaying weapons of knights of pre-Imperial Caliban, and are capable of smashing bone and crushing heads with a single swing.
- Magitek: The Ravenwing Darkshroud is equipped with statues from the Rock that have become enchanted through exposure to the Warp. The Dark Angels found that they can weaponize the statues by mounting them on land speeders and connecting cables that siphon the magical energies from them.
- Still Wearing the Old Colors: The Ravenwing is the only company in the Dark Angels that has retained the Legion's original black armor scheme to the present day, as the Deathwing changed from black to their current bone white at some point after the other companies went to their current green.
- Symbolic Wings: Ravenwing bikers typically sport one or two ornamental wings attached to their saddles, giving them a visual appearance similar to the historical Polish Winged Hussars. These wings often incorporate the biker's teleport homer so that they can call in the Deathwing once their quarry has been run to ground.
- Target Spotter: Introduced in the 8th Edition of the game, Talonmasters are the Ravenwing's version of a Lieutenant and ride in specially adapted Land Speeders outfitted with advanced auspex scanners and vox-links. The Talonmasters use these targeting mechanisms to direct the fire of his fellows, ensuring that there is nowhere for the Ranvenwing's quarry to hide. In game terms the Talonmaster increases the accuracy of nearby Dark Angels and allows Ravenwing to ignore any cover their targets are sheltering behind.
- Time Stands Still: In order to take their prey alive, the Ravenwing use a number of stasis weapons, such as the stasis bombs dropped by Dark Talon aircraft and the stasis shells fired by Ravenwing Grenade Launchers, that freeze time in the area that they hit. How this works in game depends on the edition with the 7th Edition rules reducing the close combat abilities of units hit (representing them being briefly frozen in time) while the 8th Edition rules deal mortal wounds to represent the model being frozen for the rest of the battle.
The White Scars, originally known as the Star Hunters in some sources, were Fifth Astartes Legion and their Primarch is Jaghatai Khan. The Chapter's home world is Chogoris, known as Mundus Planus to the Administratum, and their fortress monastery is the mountain fastness of Quan Zhou. At the dawning of the Era Indomitus, the Chapter Master of the White Scars, known as the Great Khan, is Jubal, a once great warrior now confined to a life support cradle in his inner sanctum due to the injuries inflicted upon him by the Red Corsairs.
The White Scars draw their recruits from the fierce steppe horsemen of their home world, and have adapted their traditional method of mounted warfare to a modern mechanised army. The Chapter is famous for their use of bikes, aircraft and armoured transports to perform lightning-fast offensives that leave the foe outmanoeuvred and striking at shadows, while the White Scars pick them apart at range or crush them in decisive close combat. The barbaric look and brutal tribal traditions of the White scars have resulted in many in the Imperial bureaucracy and military considering them to be nothing but savages but those who have fought alongside the Chapter greatly respect them for their ruthlessly methodical style of warfare and their noble spirit.
Immediately prior to the opening of the Great Rift, the Yasan Sector came under massive attack from a massive Red Corsairs armada with the White Scars' Chapter Planet itself being invaded. After much bloodshed, the piratical renegades and their daemonic allies were driven from Chogoris, but not without the Chapter suffering horrendous casualties. After being reinforced by Primaris Marines brought to them by an Indomitus Crusade Fleet, the White Scars have made it their mission to purge the Yasan Sector of the heretical forces that infest it and they will stop at nothing until they have succeeded in this task.
The White Scars have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 games since 1st Edition where they received rules in the Warhammer 40,000 Chapter Approved - The Book of the Astronomican sourcebook. From 2nd Edition onward the White Scars were mainly counted as a regular Astartes Chapter with a focus on bikers but have receive supplemental rules in a number of editions, such as in 3rd Edition's Index Astartes I and 7th Edition's Codex Supplement: Angels of Death. The Chapter also played a large role in 7th Edition's War Zone Damocles campaign books against the T'au Empire. In 8th Edition, the White Scars use the basic Astartes rules printed in Codex: Space Marines, released in August 2019, alongside the Chapter specific rules in Codex Supplement: White Scars released at the same time.
- Abnormal Ammo: Designed to kill the monstrous predators of the mountains of Chogoris, the rare stormwrath bolts used by the White Scars and their Successor Chapters are unique bolt shells that are laced with the electrified fulgurite. When such a bolt penetrates its target, the shell releases the energy of Chogoris' lightning storms within the target itself. The 8th Edition rules represent this by allowing the model with these bolts to upgrade a bolt weapon to have superior Strength and Armour Penetration. The bolts also give the weapon a greater Damage characteristic when used against Monsters.
- Amplifier Artifact: The Mantle of the Stormsteer is a relic of the White Scars' Librarius. This ancient psychic hood is able to channel storm spirits that enhance the Stormseer's psychic abilities, represented in the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars rules by giving the wearer a bonus when attempting to manifest a psychic ability.
- Of all the xenos they have fought, the White Scars have a particular loathing for the Aeldari raiders known as Drukhari. This enmity dates back to the Drukhari slave raids that plagued Chogoris and the Yasan Sector while the majority of the Legion was away fighting in the Great Crusade, the Horus Heresy and the Scouring. In addition to this, the role that the Drukhari played in the disappearance of the Primarch Jaghatai Khan inflamed the White Scars' hatred of the xenos breed even further.
- Since their invasion of Chogoris and the surrounding systems at the end of the 41st Millennium, the White Scars have harboured a cold hatred for the Red Corsairs, and their leader Huron Blackheart. Those warriors recruited in the aftermath of the invasion are particularly eager to fight the piratical raiders and enact vengeance for the despoilment of their home world.
- Badass Biker: The White Scars have combined the savagery and tactics of their home world's barbarian Horse Archers with the discipline, technology and superhuman abilities of the Adeptus Astartes to become the some of the most talented bike-mounted troops in the Imperium. Their 8th Edition rules reflect this by giving them a number of different abilities, Stratagems and Tactical Objectives that are particularly useful for, if not exclusive too, bike mounted units.
- Badass Mustache: The artwork for the White Scars, as well as a number of the heads in their upgrade set, show many of their battle-brothers sporting long, droopy Fu Manchu-style moustaches to fit with their Mongol horseman theme.
- Battle Trophy: The White Scars continue the tradition of taking trophies from defeated enemies that they originally learned as members of the barbaric tribes of Chogoris. Severed heads are a particularly prized trophy and the roads to their fortress monastery are lined with the silver covered heads of the Chapters greatest enemies. The 8th Edition rules represent the practice of trophy taking with the Headtaker's Trophies Special-Issue Wargear, a trophy rack of grisly trophies that reduces the Leadership characteristic of nearby enemies.
- Blade on a Stick: The White Scars employ a unique type of power weapon known as a power lance, khan's spear or guan daonote . Modelled after the weapons used by the tribesmen of Chogoris, these polearms are wielded with great skill by the Chapter's Khans and are particularly powerful when charging into combat. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars rules for the weapon gives them a superior stat line to the more traditional power sword, with an additional bonus when charging.
- Born in the Saddle: The native tribes of Chogoris, which the White Scars draw their recruits from, are nomadic horsemen with a strong Mongol theme. As with many Chapters, the White Scars have inherited many elements of their home world's culture including a preference for mobile warfare, only replacing horses with bikes and transport vehicles.
- Car Fu: The White Scars are masters of using their bike's weight and momentum to cause damage to their enemy when they charge into combat. How this is represented in-game depends on the edition with those rule sets that use the Hammer of Wrath rule often giving the White Scars bonuses when using that rule, while the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars includes the Chogorian Thunderbolts white Scars Stratagem that gives White Scars Bikers a chance of causing mortal wounds against an enemy when they charge.
- The Chooser of The One: The Librarians of the White Scars, known as Stormseers, are responsible for overseeing the recruitment of each new generation of aspirants from the hardy Chogorian tribes. Every ten years these warrior-mystics observe the battles of the nomadic tribesmen, choosing those who show exceptional skill and bravery and taking them to the fortress monetary of Quan Zhou where that are given the chance to join the Chapter. In addition to this, the Stormseers also choose who shall serve as Chapter Master after the death of the previous Great Khan, putting those who wish to take on the role through a series of mysterious challenges that few survive.
- Cool Bike: The unique Space Marine Bike Wrath of the Heavens is a relic of the White Scars created for the former Master of the Hunt Khantak Khan. Faster than any other Bike in the Chapter's Armoury, Wrath of the Heavens is fitted with grav-impellers that allow it to make short gravitic hops across the battlefield. In all editions of the game, wrath of Heaven has superior speed to a regular bike and special rules that allow it to cross terrain, and other models, with ease.
- Covered with Scars: The White Scars have inherited a culture of scarification from the nomadic horsemen that they draw their recruits from and have numerous rituals, rites and customs that leave numerous scars upon their bodies. The Chapter's members also wear the scars they receive in battle, and during duels with their battle-brothers with pride, seeing them as honour scars and signs of bravery.
- Cultured Badass: Despite their reputation as barbaric Horse Archers, the nomads of Chogoris have a deep and rich culture that includes beautiful craftsmanship, poetry and calligraphy, and even after they join the Chapter, White Scars battle-brothers continue such pursuits. The White Scars' fortress monastery of Quan Zhou is a good example of the Chapter's dual nature. A city-sized fortress of beautifully wrought marble that contains forests filled with game, glistening streams and vast libraries of lore, Quan Zhou still sports near impregnable armour, immense weapons batteries and its approaches are lined with the severed heads of the Chapter's greatest foes.
- Electronic Eyes: One of the White Scars' relics is the Hunter's Eye, a highly advanced bionic eye constructed in honour of the horse archers of Chogoris, which allows its wearer to pinpoint the weak spots in his enemy's defences. The 8th Edition rules for the Eye represent this by allowing the wearer to direct the fire of a nearby model so that their ranged attacks ignore enemy cover.
- Fast as Lightning: The White Scars are famous for their speed and Lightning Bruiser style of warfare. The Chapter is also closely associated with lightning by incorporating a lightning bolt into their iconography, having lightning-based psychic abilities and Special-Issue Wargear, and lightning named Stratagems.
- Fate Worse than Death:
- Many White Scars consider the idea of being interred within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought to be truly horrific due to their wish to remain free, to feel the wind as they hunt and to travel in the afterlife when it is their time. At best the fate is considered to be a noble self-sacrifice, while at worst a living hell. As such the White Scars field far fewer Dreadnoughts than many other Chapters. This was taken to the extreme during the 3rd Edition of the game where the Chapter's Index Astartes: Lightning Attack rules barred White Scars armies from taking Dreadnoughts entirely.
- Since his capture and torture at the hands of the Red Corsairs Jubal, the Chapter's Great Khan, has been confined to a life-support cradle within the inner sanctum of his quarters. While Jubal continues to command the Chapter with his prodigious intelligence and tactical skill, many White Scars believe that it would have been better for the Great Khan to have succumbed to his wounds as even those confined within the shell of a Dreadnoughts, a fate many within the Chapter are loathed to experience, are still able to experience the thrill of battle.
- Fictionary: The White Scars speak Korchin, the language of Chogoris, a language consisting of various words taken from Chinese, and other Asian languages, with the addition of a number of vaguely East Asian sounding words. No full sentence structure or syntax for Korchin has been revealed, just a few words to add to the White Scar's East Asian/Mongolian theme.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: While in lore the White Scars are vaunted masters of bike combat, matched only by the Dark Angels Ravenwing reconnaissance company, some editions of the rules fail to represent this on the tabletop, with their early 8th Edition rules actually benefit their Jump Pack infantry the most. The Codex Supplement: White Scars sourcebook attempted to rectify this by giving the Chapter a number of Stratagems and a Warlord Trait specifically intended for Bike mounted troops.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: The White Scars are masters of mobile warfare, striking with vicious, lightning quick attacks and then withdrawing before the enemy can retaliate. How this is represented in-game varies depending on the edition with their 3rd Edition Index Astartes: Lightning Assault rules allowing White Scars Bikers to choose to retreat from combat (something that wasn't allowed normally at the time), while the second version of their 8th Edition Codex: Space Marine rules, and their supplement, gives them the means to Fall Back and still charge or shoot respectively.
- Initiation Ceremony: The 2nd Company of the White Scars, the Firefist Brotherhood, get their name from their initiation ritual that involves a prospective battle-brother descending, unarmoured, into the crater of the burning pit known as the Mouth of Fire to retrieve a pearl of molten crystal with their bare hands. The ritual inevitably leaves the battle-brother with a permanent scar that marks them as a Firefist for the rest of their lives.
- Lightning Bruiser: The White Scars preferred battle doctrine focuses on speed, fluidity and lightning assaults that hit the enemy as quickly and as hard as possible. Unlike some forces that focus on speed, however, the White Scars are no more fragile than any other Chapter of Astartes as their equipment, enhanced physiques and natural ferocity make them as tough as their more conventional brethren. The White Scars focus on this style of warfare is one of the reasons that they adopted the lightning bolt as their Chapter symbol. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars rules represent this by giving the Chapter a number of unique Stratagems that revolve around movement.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Some Khans go into battle carrying a small buckler. Not as large as the more common combat shields and storm shields, those skilled in the use of a buckler can, nonetheless, use it to deflect enemy melee attacks. The 8th Edition represents these small shields by giving those equipped with them a bonus to their armour save while fighting in close combat.
- Master Swordsman: The lore for the Chapter mentions that the warriors of the Tulwar Brotherhood, the White Scars' 4th Company, are renowned for their skills with the traditional Chogorian blades after which they are named, with their leader, Joghaten Khan, being one of the greatest swordsmen in the entire Chapter. Despite being a combined-arms Battle Company, the brotherhood prefers rapid and bloody assaults that allow them to utilise their combat prowess to the fullest. This isn't reflected in the rules, however, where the 4th Company is no different from any other White Scars force.
- More Dakka: The Equis-patter bolt pistols are a variant of the standard bolt pistol created by the Techmarines of the White Scars and their Successor Chapters. These pistols have had their rate-of-fire dramatically increased so that they can unleash a flurry of bolts at the enemy. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars represents these pieces of Special-Issue Wargear by giving them one of the highest rates-of-fire of any Pistol type weapon used by the Adeptus Astartes.
- Multinational Team: The people of Chogoris live in separate tribes that regularly war against each other for resources and honour. While this high level of conflict produces ideal recruits for the Chapter, old grievances and tribal enmity can linger, even after the modifications and indoctrination that Astartes initiates go through. To combat this, the White Scars attempt to organise their squads so that individuals from many different tribes serve together as brothers once they become full-blooded Marines.
- My Horse Is a Motorbike: As modern motorised Mongols, the White Scars' traditional method of warfare and visual style can be described as motorbike-riding Horse Archers, using their speed and manoeuvrability to surround and wear down their enemy, before charging in to deliver the killing blow.
- Named Weapon:
- The power lance known as the Glaive of Vengeance is an ancient relic of the White Scars once wielded by the Great Khan Kyublai. Many within the Chapter believe that the former Chapter Master's spirit still resides within the weapon, enhancing its power with his desire for vengeance against the enemies of the Imperium. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars rules represent this mighty spear by giving allowing it to use the Strength, that a normal khan's spear gives only when charging, to all its attacks
- Forged in the style of the tulwars used by Chogorian tribesmen, the Scimitar of the Great Khan is said to be the greatest power sword ever created by the Chapter's artisans and was blessed by the Primarch himself during the Purging of Daikeos. In-game, the 8th Edition rules, the Scimitar a superior profile to a regular power sword and gives the wielder a chance to cause double Damage.
- Space Romans: The White Scars draw primarily on the look, history and culture of the Mongol Hordes from the East, with some additional influences from other historic East Asian cultures. Their Primarch was even named Jaghatainote , while he and all subsequent leaders hold the title of Great Khan while Captains are known as Khans.
- Straight for the Commander: A favoured tactic of the White Scars is to take out enemy commanders and champions to destroy their foes' morale and strategic coordination. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars rules encourages this on the tabletop with the Claim Their Heads White Scars Tactical Objective that gives the player bonus victory points when they take out enemy Characters.
- The Strategist: Although the current Great Khan is no longer able to take to the field of battle himself due to his injuries, Jubal is still a masterful general with great tactical skill, issuing commands to the Chapter through his closest battle-brothers. Some amongst the Chapter even believe that Jubal's strategic abilities have been enhanced by his confinement to his quarters as, now that he is freed from the distraction of personally leading warriors in the field, he is able to plan campaigns on a Segmentum-wide level.
- Target Spotter: The Cyber-Eagle Helms used by the White Scars and their Successor Chapters links its wearer to a cybernetic hunting bird that circles high above the battlefield. Fitted with advanced auspex scanners, the bird transmits everything it sees back to the Helm where it is projected onto the wearers field of vision, giving them enhanced targeting data that can be past onto their battle-brothers. In the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars rules for this piece of Special-Issue Wargear, this extra targeting data allows a unit close to the wearer a greater chance of hitting when firing Overwatch at a charging enemy.
- Token Minority: With their Mongol Horde theme, the White Scars are the only one of the nine loyalist First Founding Legions not to be strongly based on a European culture.
- Trial by Combat: While rare, the fiery passions of the White Scars can lead to bitter arguments between battle-brothers. When such instances happen, some background material indicated that the White Scars involved may petition their Khan to be allowed to duel with ritual tulwar combat blades in order to settle the dispute.
- Weather Manipulation: The shamanic Librarians of the White Scars are known as Stormseers and use their psychic abilities to manipulate the elemental forces of nature and alter the weather itself. While most editions of the game treat Stormseers the same as the Librarians of any other Chapter, the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: White Scars sourcebook allows them to take powers from the Stormspeaking Psychic Discipline so that they can invoke a windstorm to slow down their enemies, strike foes with lightning or even surround himself with the fury of a hurricane.
The Space Wolves were originally the Sixth Legion. Their Primarch is Leman Russ, their Chapter Master, known as the Great Wolf, at the time of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade is the long-serving Logan Grimnar, and their home world is the death world of Fenris.
The Space Wolves (also known as Sky Warriors to the natives of Fenris and, in some background information, the Vlka FenrykaTranslation ) are a prideful and anti-authoritarian chapter that has always refused to adopt the tenets of the Codex Astartes, stubbornly maintaining the customs and force organization instituted by their Primarch. Highly aggressive warriors and cunning hunters, the Space Wolves fight like heroes of legend to defend humanity and to add to their own epic saga. Despite their barbaric appearance, the Space Wolves also maintain a highly developed code of honour, leading them to reject the methods of the more uncompromising Imperial organisations such as the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy. Towards the end of the 41st Millennium, the Space Wolves suffered both joy and sorrow in equal measure, with the return of the lost brothers of their 13th Great Company being quickly followed by an all-out invasion of Fenris by the hated Thousand Sons that caused massive death and destruction. Despite their losses, the Space Wolves remain unbowed and remain some of the fiercest and most loyal warriors in the Imperium.
The Space Wolves have been a part of Warhammer 40,000 since the 1st Edition of the game and in 1994 they were the first ever faction to receive a codex sourcebook. In 2016, the Chapter were the focus of the War Zone Fenrisnote campaign as part of the material that advanced the setting's background considerably in the lead up to the release of the game's 8th Edition. The 8th Edition rules for the Space Wolves can be found in Codex Adeptus Astartes: Space Wolves released in August 2018, with additional rules published in March 2020's Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast.
For the Black Library series of novels, see the Space Wolf page.
- 13 Is Unlucky: The Space Wolves' 13th Great Company had a disproportionate number of warriors suffering from the Curse of the Wulfen, and disappeared at the end of the Horus Heresy when they pursued the fleeing traitors into the Eye of Terror. They were considered lost and became a taboo topic among the Space Wolves, only to make a surprise reappearance hounding the heels of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Chapter Relic known as the Krakenbone Sword is a mighty blade carved from the sternum of a great aquatic monster by Fenrisian tribesmen and reforged by Arjac Rockfist. The weapon has never required sharpening an is able to carve through armour as easily as a multi-melta.
- Arch-Enemy: The Thousand Sons legion, a grudge dating back to the Horus Heresy and the Space Wolves' sacking of Prospero.
- An Axe to Grind: The Space Wolves really love their power axes, and can even equip their Dreadnoughts with a Fenrisian Great Axe and Blizzard Shield as of 7th ed.
- Anti-Magic: The talismans and charms worn by the warriors of the Space Wolves are said to ward against the Evil Eye and protect their bearers from malign sorcery. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Talismanic Shield' Space Wolves Stratagem that give a Space Wolf Character a chance to stop enemy Psychic Powers.
- Awesome McCoolname: The Wolves have the highest concentration of characters with awesome/scary sounding names.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: Space Wolf Librarians or Rune Priests believe their power comes from Fenris because anyone who draws their power from the Warp is bad.
- Wrath of Magnus confirms that they were right. The powers of the Rune Priest comes from the spirit of Fenris itself, remaining somehow independent of the Warp.
- Barbarian Hero: The Space Wolves' are basically Horny Vikings IN SPACE! But aside from that, despite having a few moments of hypocrisy, they're also one of the few heroic characters in the entire setting, considering things like shooting civilians and needless cruelty a no-go. A very big no-go.
- Beard of Barbarism: The Space Wolves are one of the few chapters where facial hair is commonplace, usually as full beards which can get quite long. They owe it to their Fenrisian heritage, as a full beard provides another protection against the cold on the planet and the Space Wolves tend to keep their beards long and thick out of habit.
- Berserk Button:
- Suggest shaving or haircuts, or, if you're an Inquisitor, declare Exterminatus within earshot. Much like the Salamanders, murdering innocent civilians is a huge no-no for the Space Wolves, as chapter master Seth of the Flesh Tearers found out the hard way. Treachery and breaking oaths will also enrage them, as chapter master Joros of the Grey Knights found out in an even harder way.
- There is a Chaos Space Marine warband called Skyrar's Dark Wolves that is rumoured throughout the Imperium to be traitor Space Wolves. As you'd expect, if a Space Wolf hears anyone mention Skyrar and his warriors, they're liable to go hunting.
- The Berserker: Some Space Wolves fight with a bestial fury, tearing apart their enemies like a Fenrisian Wolf ripping apart its prey. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Saga of the Savage Warlord Trait for the Space Wolves Stalker Pack Specialist Detachmentnote that increases the Warlords Attacks characteristic and gives him a chance of increasing the Attacks of nearby Space Wolves.
- Blood Knight: There are two reasons why the Space Wolves will ignore an Exterminatus order: one such reason is that it would deprive them of a chance to fight an enemy strong enough to justify such an extreme order.
- Body-Count Competition: Space Wolves will often compete with the other members of their pack see who can score the most kills in a particular battle.
- Boisterous Bruiser: As Belial of the Dark Angels put it, "Fenris breeds heroes like a bar breeds drunks - loud, proud and spoiling for a fight."
- Braids of Barbarism: Whether it's by choice or a side effect of their geneseed, the Space Wolves generally have very long hair, which is often partially or fully braided. Their 7th edition codex◊ gave a good depiction.
- Canis Major: The Fenrisian Wolves that accompany some Space Wolves into battle are the size of tigers, while the ones that serve as Thunderwolf cavalry are even larger.
- A Commander Is You: Elitist/Brute. The Space Wolves hhave access to powerful HQ choices, unique wargear that no other Astartes chapter can use, and fast and powerful Thunderwolf Cavalry, deadly in close assault.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: During the Great Crusade, the Space Wolves were used when the Emperor generally wanted something completely crushed. They (and especially Leman Russ) were so good at this that the Legion became known as "the Rout."Thar Ariak Hraldir, Wolf Priest: We were made to destroy. Our whole being is destruction. Such was the will of the Allfather. He made us not to construct empires, but to murder them. We were bred to perform the tasks that no other Legion could, to fight with such extravagance that even our brother warriors would shrink from treachery in the knowledge of what we, the Rout, would do to them.
- Death Seeker: Lone Wolves are the Sole Survivors of their packs, and hurl themselves at the most formidable of foes in an attempt to either redeem themselves or join their brothers in death. The ones who survive are generally elevated to the Wolf Guard.
- Death World: Fenris is a world that is exclusively Grim Up North, with a very elliptical orbit that takes twice as long as Terran standard. Its long winters freeze almost the entire planet, while its summers bring lava flows and tidal waves. The land is constantly changing, making permanent settlement impossible, and its resources are so meager that its population must war amongst itself to survive. Other claims to fame include kraken, dragons, and wolves the size of tanks. The Space Wolves are quite proud of their home world's lethality and warlike population.
- Depending on the Writer: One of the most egregious non-retcon examples in the setting. The authors at Games Workshop can't seem to decide if the Space Wolves are a chapter of headstrong Boisterous Bruisers who love fighting, particularly against worthy opponents or a chapter of grim, battle-hardened warriors who look at fighting and protecting the weak as their solemn, sworn duty. The Horus Heresy books have thrown yet another layer of confusion into the mix by painting the Space Wolves as the Emperor's executioners, to be dispatched to kill off anyone who needs killing, regardless of whether they are ally or friend (which seemingly goes against the Space Wolves' long-established love of honesty and honourable fighting). Different sources also either paint the Space Wolves as fanatically loyal to the Imperium, or as having little tolerance for the Imperium as an entity, but still believing in their duty to humanity. Also, in the novels they tend to be honorable barbarians with Nordic titles that happen to use Wolf totems a lot in their heraldry; in their codexes and campaign books they use the word wolf in the names of absolutely everything and lead packs of wolves into combat while riding bigger wolves.
- Drop the Hammer: Iron Priests traditionally wield large, two-handed hammersnote instead of the axes used by the Techmarines of other Chapters. This difference gives the Iron Priest a look closer to that of a techno-blacksmith rather than an engineer.
- Dying Race: With their civilian population ravaged by the combined attack of Magnus and purging by the Grey Knights, the Wolves have almost no recruitment base anymore. They may very well go extinct.
- Early Installment Weirdness: During 3rd Editions the Space Wolves were able to take Leman Russ Exterminators as Heavy Support Choices, explained as being in honour of their Primarch who the tank was named after. These vehicles never really fitted with the rest of the Space Wolves armoury and were dropped for later editions.
- Fangs Are Evil: Subverted, despite their borderline bestial appearance.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Werewolf Horny Vikings. Early on there were attempts to bring in other European barbarians like the Celts, but nowadays the Wolves are pretty Norse.
- Freeze Ray: Their 7th edition codex introduced Helfrost weapons, powerful lasers focused through a rare glimmerfrost crystal that instantly freezes the target area to near absolute zero.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the 5th Edition, despite being a chapter noted in lore for close combat, the Space Wolves functioned better as a shooting army due to their cheaper source of special and heavy weapons than vanilla Space Marines.
- Glory Seeker: Blood Claws are reckless young warriors out to make a name for themself through feats of battlefield daring. In-game, unless a Wolf Guard squad leader or other character is around to keep them in line, they're obligated to charge any foes they can reach, and get so excited that they can't shoot in the Shooting Phase beforehand.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Space Wolves avoid wearing their helmets whenever they can, partly because their hair and/or beards make it awkward and partly because the helmets muck with their senses, especially smell and hearing. If a Space Wolf is wearing his helmet, you can bet he's grousing about it.
- Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: In the novels, Space Wolves have a habit of talking amongst themselves in Fenrisian, even while amongst other Imperium members. Most of the time it's for planning and/or discussing chapter secrets, other times it's to insult incompetent allies.
- Hot-Blooded: The aptly-named Blood Claws, the youngest of the full Marines who are bounding with aggressive energy, eager to earn their place among the chapter. They are almost all full on enthusiasm and light on discipline.
- An odd case regarding psykers. The Space Wolves supported the banning of librarians at Nikaea, but kept their own afterwards. Their Rune Priests insist that they are not psykers at all, and instead of seeing their powers as coming from the Warp, they hold that their powers come from the world spirit of Fenris. This is a painfully thin excuse (when Ahriman observes a Rune Priest he sees no difference between him and a librarian) and in the face of the battle with the Thousand Sons, a few Rune Priests admitted to each other that they were psykers and little different from the Sons. The Battle of the Fang revealed that the world spirit of Fenris does actually exist all along, making the truth about the Rune Priests' claim ambiguous.
- The modern Wolves are fiercely opposed to the harming of civilians, nearly getting into a war with the Inquisition over the matter, but they actively keep their home world of Fenris in a state of constant tribal warfare, where plenty of innocents will inevitably be killed in the battles meant to produce skilled recruits for the Wolves.
- The Wolves were disgusted at the Thousand Sons' Flesh Change mutations, with the bad blood between legions only really kicking off after Russ ruthlessly gunned down one afflicted Son for mutancy and nearly coming to blows with Magnus over it. The Wolves have an extremely mutation-prone geneseed, with the "Wulfen Curse" crippling any attempts at producing successors.
- An Ice Person: The Rune Priests' Tempestas psychic discipline utilises a psychic ice effect and mixes that with a bit of Telekinesis to spin that ice around or shape it into giant killer wolves.
- Just Following Orders: The Heresy era Wolves were not only willing, but prided themselves on how they would do anything the Emperor told them too. And then Horus changed an order from the Emperor to apprehend the Thousand Sons to one that said to annihilate them instead and things went to hell quickly.
- King in the Mountain: The Wolves believe that Leman Russ will return to them for an apocalyptic final battle - after all, he promised as much.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Horus Heresy Book VII - Inferno states that the Space Wolves use psycho-memetic obliteration on their own battle brothers to keep their own history shrouded in myth and legend (they despise remembrancers, so nobody else gets to record their history), keep secrets from their own rank and file, and preserve their sanity from the really nasty stuff they've seen and done.
- Military Maverick: There are a lot of Chapters that don't completely abide by the Codex Astartes. Then there are the Space Wolves, who won't even use it for toilet paper. They do things the Space Wolf way, and to hell with anyone else's rules.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: It's suspected that the Wolves play up their "boisterous barbarian" image when convenient. There's a reason Logan Grimnar ends up running most of the wars he's involved in, even from the sidelines.
- Old Shame: In-universe, the Wolf Brothers, their ill-fated attempt to found a successor chapter.
- One-Hit Kill: For each unsaved wound taken from a Helfrost weapon, the target has to pass a Strength test or be removed from play, even if he has Eternal Warrior. Their potential to screw blobs and armoured targets alike is all but certain to make them a considerable threat, especially to units reliant on multi-wound models.
- Spanner in the Works: Every time the Thousand Sons try to hatch a grand scheme, the Space Wolves find a way to wreck it.
- Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Skyclaws are Blood Claws who are too reckless even for Blood Claws, or who survive their expected Leeroy Jenkins phase without learning the discipline needed to be Grey Hunters. They're reassigned to a Skyclaw pack, given jetpacks and used for suicide missions like "drop in on the enemy leader and take his head," and they wouldn't have it any other way.
- Token Minority: The background material for the Great Company known as the Seawolves notes that its Wolf Lord, Engir Krakendoom, and his men are primarily recruited from the dark-skinned inhabitants of Fenris southern islands, adding some diversity to the otherwise northern European look of the Chapter.
- Took a Level in Kindness: The Horus Heresy novels reveal that in their early incarnation, the Vlka Fenryka prided themselves as being absolutely unfettered executioners willing to do anything the Emperor commanded. Ten thousand years of Character Development later and the Space Wolves are Chaotic Good warriors willing to fight the Administratum for ordering the same brutal actions they used to execute.
- True Companions: Unless he is promoted to the Wolf Guard or laterally-promoted to the Swiftclaws or Skyclaws, a Space Wolf typically spends his entire life in the same pack. Unlike other chapters, in which Marines are assigned to different squads as their abilities dictate, a Space Wolf pack evolves from an impetuous Blood Claw assault squad to an even-tempered Grey Hunter squad to a veteran Long Fang fire support team. This pack will shrink as casualties accrue over the centuries, which helps explain Long Fangs' typical grim and dour demeanor.
- Wolverine Claws: The Space Wolves use a unique pattern of lightning claw known as wolf claws. Often designed in imitation of the claws of the Fenrisian Wolf, cutting power of these power weapons is enhanced by the addition of powerful mystic runes. In-game this enhances the strength stat of a model wielding the wolf claws.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Nowadays they are very much against it. It's the second reason why they are against Exterminatus; it would kill all of the civilians on the planet. Their hatred of the Flesh Tearers was provoked by the murder of civilians at Honour's End. When they were a legion they were decidedly not this, doing things like bombing Prospero from orbit, reducing everything that wasn't shielded by Thousand Son fortifications to ash and rubble. Angron even compared the Wolves to his World Eaters in terms of indiscriminate destruction.
The gene-seed of the Space Wolves contains a unique gene sequence nown as the Canis Helix, a dangerous and powerful enhancement that causes those who receive it to transform into an animalistic monster. Through the long and perilous Test of Morkai, an aspirant must learn to tame this primal state, or he will become one of the Wulfen, feral beasts that are left to roam the snowfields of Asaheim or captured and released in battle by their former brothers. Those aspirants who overcome the Test of Morkai receive treatment to stabilize the Canis Helix and continue their training to become Space Wolves, but even these warriors can slip into a bestial state while under great stress, something known as the Curse of the Wulfen.
In the closing years of the 41st Millennium, mysterious feral warriors, wearing the remains of archaic armour in the colours of the Space Wolves, were discovered fighting in warzones threatened by the forces of Chaos. Investigations by the Chapter discovered that these monstrous beings were Space Wolves of the 13th Great Company who had been consumed by the Canis Helix and lost to the galaxy since the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. Despite suspicion from other Imperial organisations, these Wulfen have been reintegrated into the Chapter where they have fought with loyal savagery.
- The Berserker: As stated above, they are in a constant state of animalistic rage.
- Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Though they lack almost any ranged weapons, they sure know how to rip, tear, and smash anything they can get close to.
- Godzilla Threshold: Because of the threat they pose to allies, they are only ever let out in the most extreme circumstances, such as invasions against Fenris itself. Even then, the Space Wolves are reluctant to do so. In Battle of the Fang, the Wulfen are kept in isolation within the Fang, the Wolves' fortress.
- Infectious Insanity: It's bad enough that the Curse of the Wulfen is hanging over every Space Wolf's head, but it got worse with the fluff changes to the Wulfen in the campaign book that introduced them to the game proper, as they can now accelerate the chance of the Curse afflicting Space Wolves around them. In-game, Wulfen models have the Curse of the Wulfen rule which affects Space Wolf models within certain distances of a squad of Wulfen, giving them special bonuses determined by die rolls.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: The Wulfen are slavering, bestial monsters reminiscent of the Wolfman.
- Taking You with Me: When mortally wounded the Wulfen tend to go into a frenzy as they try to bring down their attackers before they fall. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Death Frenzy' ability that allows a Wulfen model to attack before being removed.
- Unstoppable Rage: The only thing that can seem to calm them down is death itself.
The Imperial Fists were originally the Seventh Legion. Their Primarch is Rogal Dorn, their current Chapter Master is Vorn Hagen, and their official home world is Terranote but they are based on the space-fortress Phalanx.
The greatest siege experts in the Imperium, the Imperial Fists are functionally fleet-based, but can claim Holy Terra itself as their home world in honor of their defense of the Imperial Palace during the Horus Heresy. Stoic and self-disciplined, the Imperial Fists' drive to conquer pain and their culture of self-sacrifice allow them to fight on through the worst of trials, even when other chapters would consider retreat.
Although they have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe since the game's 1st Edition, as a strict Codex Chapter the Imperial Fists are generally treated as regular Imperial Fists with a focus on stubbornness and siege warfare. The Imperial Fists were the focus of the Ian Watson 1993 novel Space Marine, one of the first full length novels ever released by Games Workshop that is still counted as the source for some of the Chapter's background. During 6th Edition the Chapter received the Codex Supplement: Sentinels of Terra sourcebook, the rules for which were later updated and reprinted in 7th Edition's Codex Supplement: Angels of Death. In 8th Edition, the Chapter uses the basic Astartes rules from the August 2019 release of Codex: Space Marines with additional Chapter specific rules released in October 2019's Codex Supplement: Imperial Fists.
- Arch-Enemy: The Iron Warriors, their Evil Counterpart siege experts. The two Legions had always had a bitter rivalry that only intensified during the Horus Heresy as the Iron Warriors took revenge against the Imperial Fists for the perceived slights they had suffered over the years. For their part, the Imperial Fists didn't start to truly hate the Iron Warriors until the Battle of the Iron Cage that took place during the aftermath of the Heresy, where the Iron Warriors caused overwhelming casualties to the Seventh Legion over the course of a brutal four week conflict.
- Berserk Button: Along with their hate of the Iron Warriors, mentioning the Soul Drinkers near any of the other Imperial Fists' successors will at best earn you a session with a Pain Glove.
- Determinator: The Imperial Fists have a genetic predisposition towards stubbornness and self-sacrifice that causes them to fight on in situations where other Chapters would disengage and regroup.
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Imperial Fist Librarians practice geokinesis, a psychic discipline specialized in affecting stone and metal. Thanks to geokinesis, Librarians can cause localized earthquakes by punching the ground, superheat metallic objects with a thought, or create chasms on the battlefield.
- Due to the Dead: Imperial Fists who distinguish themselves are honored with the bones, particularly the skeletal hands, of their fallen battle-brothers, which are then meticulously scrimshawed and worn as ornamentation. This has been viewed as both a cultural practice and as a pathological compulsion resulting from the Fists' gene-seed; Ian Watson's 40K novels feature one Imperial Fist who stripped his own hand to the bone so he could scrimshaw the names of his fallen squadmates into his fist.
- Enemy Scan: The Eye of Hypnothnote is an advanced auspex array that can detect the weaknesses in any enemy armour or fortification. In-game terms, the Eye allows a Siegebreaker Cohort unit close to the bearer a chance to re-roll to wound rolls.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Imperial Fists follow the "Junker model of behavior" and continue Terra's "ancient Prussic codes."
- Fatal Flaw: The Imperial Fists' stubbornness can cause the Chapter trouble when they've refused to back out of a losing battle. One such example is the Iron Cage Incident, where the entire Imperial Fists Legion deployed in order an attempt to capture the Iron Warriors' Primarch Perturabo on the highly fortified world of Sebastus IV. The Imperial Fists soon discovered that the entire battlefield was an intricately designed trap and suffered extremely heavy casualties as they refused to retreat until they had completed their impossible goal. After three weeks of constant fighting the Imperial Fists were only saved by the intervention of the Ultramarines.
- Friendly Rivalry: After the Second Founding Rogal Dorn established The Feast of Blades, a tournament between the Company Champions of the Imperial Fists and its successors for the right to possess the Dornsblade, a simple adamantine blade used by the Primarch during the Battle of the Iron Cage. Dorn established this tournament to strengthen the bonds of honour and brotherhood between the now scattered Chapters of the former Legion.
- Gang Bangers: After saving the planet from an Ork Waaagh!, the Imperial Fists have maintained a Chapter Fortress on Necromunda that they use as a base for recruitment. The Chapter has found that with the right training and indoctrination, members of the planets' many gangs prove to be high quality recruits.
- Honor Before Reason: Though almost all Space Marine Chapters disdain things like camouflage and stealth, the Fists are noteworthy for also viewing retreating as an unacceptable act of cowardice. Thankfully, they are somewhat self aware of this following the Iron Cage incident and most marines that rise to leadership positions have learned to curb this impulse.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Their modern color scheme gives them ice blue lenses for their eyepieces, which match well with their stern and stubborn personality.
- In-Series Nickname: Due to their actions during the Horus Heresy, the Imperial Fists have gained the title Defenders of Terra.
- Macho Masochism: Genetic degradation has amplified the Imperial Fists' determination and drive for self-sacrifice into something masochistic, hence their appreciation for dueling scars as well as the Pain Glove device detailed below.
- More Dakka: In game more than in the background. The Imperial Fists' special rules make taking a high number of rapid-firing bolt weapons very advantageous, resulting in their armies being able to put out a very high volume of fire.
- Order Reborn: The Imperial Fists suffered terrible casualties during The War of the Beast, finally being driven to extinction during the second invasion of Ullanor. In an attempt to prevent knowledge of this event from devastating the morale of the war-ravaged Imperium, Chapter Master Maximus Thane of the Fists Exemplar convinced the Imperial Fists' Successors to secretly rebuild their parent Chapter with members of their own brotherhoods. In a Call-Back to one of the earliest pieces of Imperial Fists fluff (the 1993 novel Space Marine), the Successor Chapters unanimously chose Thane to lead the refounded Chapter.
- The Perfectionist: Imperial Fists have a strong tendency toward fastidiousness with detail in almost everything they do, and are harshly self-critical of any failure.
- Planet Spaceship: The Imperial Fists' headquarters is the Phalanx, a mobile space fortress the size of a small moon. It's so large that its interior spaces have distinct ecosystems and biologists can track the evolution of its unique animal lifeforms.
- Praetorian Guard: During the Great Crusade, the Imperial Fists fulfilled this role, alongside the Legio Custodes, and were known as the Emperor's personal praetorians accompanying him everywhere and being used to strike the decisive blow against his enemies.
- Sacrificial Lion: Vladimir Pugh had been listed as the Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists since 1st Edition, having appeared in Ian Watson's novel Space Marine, one of the first two full length novels Games Workshop ever released. The 6th Edition codex supplement Sentinels of Terra however saw Chapter Master Pugh killed battling the Tyranids and replaced with Vorn Hagan. This was the first instance of a Chapter Master from a well-known Chapter being killed during the game's contemporary timeline and was an indication of the company's change in policy regarding the setting's Status Quo Is God.
- Self-Harm: The Imperial Fists believe that pain is both a penance and a philosophy. To this end, they make frequent use of the Pain Glove, a bodysuit-like device that stimulates pain nerves without actually causing damage. This is both to strengthen their self discipline and, through mediation on Rogal Dorn, help them become more closely attuned to their Primarch.Pain is...a lesson that the universe teaches us. Pain is the preserver from injury. Pain perpetuates our lives. It is the healing, purifying scalpel of our souls. Pain is the wine of communion with heroes. It is the quicksilver panacea for weakness - the quintessence of a dedicated existence. Pain is the philosophic vitriol which transmutes mere moral into immortal. It is the Sublime, the golden astral fire!
- Storming the Castle: Siege warfare is a specialty of the Imperial Fists, whether it is holding a strongpoint for an indefinite time against great odds, or penetrating hardened installations the Chapter will carry out the action with meticulous care, skill and precision.
The Blood Angels were originally the Ninth Legion. Their Primarch is Sanguinius and their Chapter Master at the end of the 41st Millennium is Luis Dante. The Chapter's fortress monastery, Arx Angelicum, is on the world of Baal and their new recruits are drawn from the planets two moons Baal Primus and Baal Secundus.
Though the Blood Angels have inherited the nobility of their angelic Primarch, they also bear a terrible curse. A flaw in their gene-seed drives them to seek blood in the carnage of close combat, and in the worst cases can consume a Blood Angel's mind. Despite this, the Blood Angels maintain their founder's idealism, and the knowledge of their defects gives them unusual humility for Astartes. The Chapter has fought in defence of the Imperium through many important campaigns, including the War of the Beast, and both Second and Third Armageddon Wars. As the 41st Millennium drew to a close, the Blood Angels suffered one of the worst crises in their history as the Baal System came under attack from a tendril of Hive Fleet Leviathan. Despite the help of their Successor Chapters, the Sons of Sanguinius would have been overrun by the Tyranid hordes if not for the opening of the Great Rift that scattered the Hive Fleet and unleashed a legion of Daemons who massacred the extra-galactic xenos. The arrival of Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade struck the final blow against the Tyranids and the new Primaris Marines that accompanied the Crusade were welcome reinforcements for the much depleted Chapter.
The Blood Angels have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 game since its 1st Edition, appearing on the cover of two of that edition's sourcebooksnote . In 2nd Edition the Chapter were the Space Marine forces included in the starter set and their rules were included in Codex: Angels of Death alongside the Dark Angels. The 3rd Edition of the game saw the Chapter receive a codex supplement for Codex: Space Marines while their 4th Edition rules were released as official Chapter Approved rules in White Dwarf. During 7th Edition the Blood Angels were the Imperial forces involved in two campaign supplementsnote that expanded on their codex rules. The 8th Edition rules for the Blood Angels are included in the Codex Adeptus Astartes: Blood Angels book released in December 2017 with additional rules published in the November 2019 sourcebook Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal.
For more about the Sons of Sanguinius, see the the Blood Angels novels.
- Amplifier Artifact: The Biomantic Sarcophagusnote is a relic fitted with psychically sensitive filaments and crystal wafers that enhance the psychic abilities of a Librarian confined to the shell of a Dreadnought, allowing the Librarian to project his powers at a far greater range and make it easier for him to Deny enemy powers.
- Arch-Enemy: The Blood Angels reserve a great hatred for the Black Legion, due to Horus killing Sanguinius at the end of the Horus Heresy.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Blood Angels are very aggressive, their strategies typically involve getting into close combat as soon as possible, and on the battlefield their forces are frequently pulled forward by their Assault Squads, keeping their tactical initiative going by never giving their opposition a chance to regroup. They can be just as tactically flexible as any chapter when they need to, but playing offense offsets the damage done if any Blood Angel falls prey to the Red Thirst.
- Beneath the Mask: Generally, few outside the sons of Sanguinius know of their flaw, and they like to keep it that way. The air of sophistication they cultivate, while genuine, is also a facade they use to help keep their inner rage under the appearance of control.
- Bling of War: The Blood Angels believe that their wargear should be both deadly and beautiful, ornamented with gold and exquisite designs that are the equal to many works of art. The armour of many Blood Angels officers in particular is often highly ornate, incorporating Sculpted Physiques, gilded angelic halos, and gemstones carved into the shapes of blood drops. Early editions of the game also always depicted all Blood Angels Captains wearing armour of shining gold.
- Bloody Murder: Some Blood Angel Librarians are able to boil the blood in their enemy's veins and cause it to explosively burst from their pores. In-game this is represented by the Sanguinary Discipline Psychic Power Blood Boil that could instantly kill the targetnote or cause multiple mortal woundsnote .
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Rather than use the traditional symbols ascribed by the Codex Astartes for squad designation, the Blood Angels and many of their successors use a system of colour-coded helmets with red representing battleline units, yellow for close support, blue for fire support and gold for veterans.
- Combat Clairvoyance: Some Blood Angels inherit a small portion of their gene-father's prophetic gifts, receiving visions of the immediate future that allow them to avoid or deflect enemy's attacks. The 8th Edition Warlord Trait 'Gift of Foresight' represents this in the game, giving the Blood Angels Warlord a chance to ignore wounds they have received.
- A Commander Is You: Brute. These are the blitzkreig Astartes. They are fast and slightly reckless, fearless and deadly in the melee, especially their dreaded Death Company.
- Cultured Badass: The Blood Angels enjoy long lifespans by Astartes standards, allowing them the time to practice and master art as well as war. Combined with their refined aesthetic, this sharply contrasts their more...iconic image.
- Death World: The Blood Angels' home world of Baal, as well as its two inhabited moons Baal Prime and Baal Secundus, are irradiated, mutant-infested, post-apocalyptic hellholes, making them perfect recruiting worlds for the Adeptus Astartes.
- Due to the Dead: The background material for Blood Angel Primaris Hellblaster Squads states that, after a Hellblaster martyrs themselves by overloading their plasma incinerator, the Chapter's Techmarines will recover their weapon and inscribe their name upon it in microscopic lettering to honour their ultimate sacrifice.
- Dynamic Entry: Something of a Blood Angel specialty with a number of their unique Formations allowing their elite assault troops to engage the enemy on the same turn that they arrive on the battlefield.
- Elite Army: Although they usually support other Blood Angel forces in small numbers, the veterans of the Blood Angels' 1st Company, known as the Archangels, will sometimes form together in order undertake the most dangerous and important missions. This was represented in the 7th edition rules by a number of unique Formationsnote that allowed a player to field an entire army drawn from the Blood Angels elite.
- Fangs Are Evil: The Blood Angels' geneseed causes their upper canines to lengthen and sharpen into the classic "vampire fangs" appearance. Whether or not the trope itself is subverted depends on whether a particular Blood Angel is in the grips of the Red Thirst or not.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Blood Angels have notable Renaissance Italy influences, as most members of the chapter/Legion have Italian names common to that time and their officers and leaders make use of Power Armor that is molded to look like sculpted muscles.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Blood Angels are well-known for using flame weapons, rivaling the Salamanders in this aspect. In-game, along with the standard flamer, Blood Angels are the only chapter whose Tactical Squads can take heavy flamers as a heavy weapon option and which can take hand flamers as a replacement option for bolt pistols. Also, Baal Predators can be equipped with flamestorm cannons as their main turret weapon and heavy flamers as their sponson weapons.
- Flaying Alive: Invoked by the armor of certain characters (Mephiston and Astaroth in particular) and the Chaplains who lead the Death Company, whose armor is sculpted and painted to resemble a completely flayed body with exposed musculature on their chest, arms and legs.
- Genetic Memory: The Blood Angels bear what is sometimes called the Curse of Horus, the blood-memory of their Primarch's death at the Arch-Heretic's hands. Those lost to the Black Rage will forget their own identity and hallucinate Sanguinius' final moments.
- Growing Wings: The Blood Angels psychic power Wings of Sanguinius creates a pair of blood-red wings of psychic energy that allow a Librarian to move and fly as if he was wearing a jump pack.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: The nomadic scavenger tribes of Baal generally suffer from cankers, lesions, and melanoma as the outward symptoms of the harshness of their existence. If they are inducted into the Blood Angels and survive their year of wakeless sleep in a life-support sarcophagus, they emerge transformed into perfect-bodied beings with a trace of Sanguinius' own beauty, purified of both their literal and metaphorical humanly imperfections.
- Horror Hunger: The Blood Angels and their successors are afflicted with a vampire-like craving for blood called the Red Thirst, which can grow stronger as they age, to the point that it drives them to a level of madness comparable to the Black Rage.
- It's Raining Men: The Blood Angels are masters of high altitude and orbital deployment of jump pack-equipped troops. In the 7th edition rules this was represented by the "Descent of Angels" Warlord Trait, while the special rules for the some of the Blood Angels' unique Formations made such tactics easier to perform and/or more effective. Older editions even allowed the airdropping of Land Raiders directly into battlezones.
- Jump Jet Pack: The Angel's Wing is an ornate jump pack that is a relic of the Bloodblades, the Blood Angels' 8th Company. This ancient jump pack incorporates multiple collision-avoidance devices and counter-ballistic systems that allow the wearer a greater chance of avoiding enemy fire while travelling at full speed. In the 8th Edition rules, the Angel's Wing allows its wearer to avoid all Overwatch fire as well as giving him a greater chance of making it into combat.
- Lightning Bruiser: They are a Chapter with a heavy focus on mobility and hitting really hard in close combat.
- Magic Staff: The Blood Angels Relic Gallian's Staff is a powerful force staff created by the famous Librarian to control his Red Thirst. The staff is able to absorb the fury of the Flaw and channel it to enhance the wielder's psychic abilities, represented in the 8th Edition of the rules by granting a bonus to a Librarian attempting to use the 'Smite' Psychic Power.
- While they still use standard Dreadnought patterns, the Blood Angels are particularly known for the Chapter-exclusive Furioso Dreadnought, a close assault variant of the most common Castraferrum-pattern Dreadnought that can take a number of unique weapons, such as blood talons and frag cannons.
- The Blood Angels are known to be one of the few chapters to have dreadnoughts piloted by Librarians. These Librarian Dreadnoughts are a variant of the Chapter's Furioso Dreadnoughts that allows the pilot to continue to channel their Psychic Powers and mounts a force weapon alongside one of the Furioso's more traditional armament.
- More Dakka: They are known for the Baal Predator which steps up the total amount of firepower from a normal Predator by being able to take a twin assault cannon on its main turret rather than a single autocannon or twin lascannon.
- Nerf: Got hit with this after the 5th Edition due to criticisms that they were an overpowered army. One of the most notable were the Blood Talons, weapons for Furioso Dreadnoughts that, while they lacked the punch against vehicles a Dreadnought's normal fists did, could generate new attacks every time they scored a wound. This allowed a Dreadnought equipped with them to wipe out entire units.
- An Odd Place to Sleep: In keeping with their vampire theme, Blood Angel battle-brothers have a habit of periodically resting in the sarcophagus used for their creation. One of the reason they do this is because it is actually a kind of Auto Doc, extracting their blood, subjecting it to osmosis, and re-integrating it into the body. Through this ritual they purify their blood in the hope of keeping the Flaw at bay. The older a Blood Angel gets, the longer and more frequent such purification sleep tends to be.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The Blood Angels make extensive use of blood in religious ceremonies, and as part of their transformation process spend a year in a blood-filled life-support sarcophagus. They commonly fly (with jump packs), are eternally youthful, drink blood, and sleep in coffins. They are also noted for naturally living longer on average than the Marines of any other chapter. Older fluff used to give them all pale skin, red eyes, and black hair, but nowadays they better resemble their fair-haired, angelic founder. Their successor chapters, especially the Blood Drinkers, take up the slack.
- The Pollyanna: A all-male example on a factional level; despite the darkness of the Black Rage and Red Thirst that perpetually hangs over them, they are also one of the most optimistic chapters. The Blood Angels have inherited Sanguinius's idealism, and the belief that no matter how bad things are, they can always get better. The knowledge of their own flawed nature allows them to regard themselves with a certain humbleness unusual in Astartes, allowing this belief to flourish despite the kind of universe they inhabit.
- Pretty Boy: Sanguinius, who was known as the Angel in life, was the most physically beautiful of the Primarchs and the Blood Angels have inherited his good looks.
- Ray Gun: The Blood Angels have access to inferno pistols, a pistol version of the meltagun.
- Red Is Heroic: By the standards of the setting, the red armoured Blood Angels are known to be one of the Astartes Chapters in existence, willing to go to great lengths to protect the Imperium.
- Red Is Violent: Despite their otherwise noble nature, the influence of the Flaw has led to the Chapter becoming renowned for their ultra-violent assaults.
- Red Ones Go Faster: The Blood Angels' focus on getting to the enemy as quickly as possible has led them to develop the overcharged Lucifer-pattern engine resulting in their armoured vehicles being significantly faster than those used by other Chapters.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The rank of Lieutenantnote has been incorporated into the Blood Angels' order of battle in a unique way, with each of a Company's two Lieutenants taking on a different role; one highly aggressive, the other more strategic and cool-headed. One Lieutenant, known as the Sword of Sanguinius, is charged with leading the most dangerous assaults and vital missions, lending his strength to that of his battle-brothers and normally being one of the first of the Company's warriors into battle. The second Lieutenant is known as the Warden of the Blood and it is his role to take command of the Company should the Captain be lost to the Chapter's Flaw. The position of Warden of the Blood requires great strategic abilities and a calm mind.
- Religious Vampire: Having a defect like the Red Thirst doesn't prevent them from being one of the Imperium's paragons and its in fact their faith that keeps them in check. In addition, their Primarch whom they deeply honor also has some Jesus-like traits himself.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Every Blood Angel, to some degree, even the less experienced ones. This is due to bearing the Genetic Memory of their Primarch's death, and battle can trigger involuntary flashbacks to it. The ones who succumb to "the Black Rage" are those whose symptoms have overcome them so thoroughly that they can no longer distinguish between Sanguinius' memories and the reality around them.
- Supernatural Fear Inducer: It is said that the crozius arcanum known as Figure of Death has become infused by the fearful aura of its first wielder, and that it passes on this fear to those it strikes. The late 8th Edition rules for the Figure of Death force any unit struck to take a negative modifier to their Leadership characteristic.
- Super Reflexes: Some Blood Angels have inherited a small measure of their Primarch's combat abilities, exhibiting speed and reflexes faster than even the enhanced abilities of their fellow Astartes. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Speed of the Primarch' Blood Angels Warlord Trait that allows the Warlord to always strike first in close combat.
- Super Speed: The Sanguinary Discipline Psychic Power, 'Quickening', sees a Blood Angels Librarian enhance their speed, or that of an ally, with the in-game effectnote of increasing the model's Movement and combat speed considerably.
- Tragic Hero: As the above quote describes, the Blood Angels are a pack of bloodthirsty (literally) berserkers who slaughter everything around them...or rather, they would be, were it not for their steadfast refusal to give in to their dark compulsions and insistence on remaining masters of themselves, even as the inevitable twin curses of the Red Thirst and Black Rage weigh on them.
- Trick Bullet: Quake bolts are rare bolt rounds utilised by the Blood Angels and their successors that create a pulse shock wave when they hit, knocking their target to the ground, and making their vulnerable to a follow up assault. Rather than damage a target, the 8th Edition rules makes units hit by quake bolts easier to hit in close combat.
- Unstoppable Rage: Two different levels of this affect the Blood Angels and their successors:
- The Black Rage, a curse that can transform them into frothing berserkers. Even after ten thousand years, the Blood Angels have no idea what triggers it.
- The Red Thirst, while much less severe than the Black Rage, is bad enough that it still forces anyone affected by it, even those not suited to close combat, to charge into the fray and rend the enemy to pieces.
The Sanguinary Guard
Originally founded as the personal bodyguard of the Primarch Sanguinius, the Sanguinary Guard are a corps of highly elite veterans fielded by the Blood Angels and their successors. Each guardian wears beautifully crafted armour dating from the times of the Great Crusade and carries a mighty blade that crackles with crimson lightning. Equipped with winged jump packs and wearing sculpted death masks, the Sanguinary Guard embody the spirit of their lost Primarch, inspiring their battle-brothers and striking fear into the enemies of the Imperium.
- Abnormal Ammo: The Angelus-pattern bolters used by the Sanguinary Guard are loaded with bloodshard shells, specially designed bolt shells that contain razor-filament capable of cutting through all but the strongest armour with ease.
- Arm Cannon: The Angelus-pattern boltgun is a wrist-mounted bolter issued to the Sanguinary Guard that allows them to wield their glaives encarmine with both hands.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: During the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, the Sanguinary Guard acted as the personal guard of the Primarch Sanguinius, a mighty warrior himself who could face countless foes alone and break the back of a Greater Daemon of Khorne with his bare hands.
- Mask of Power: The Death Masks worn by the Sanguinary Guard serve to both honor their fallen brothers and strike terror in their foes. In-game, Death Masks cause a -1 penalty to the morale of nearby enemy units.
- Sword and Gun: The typical weapons loadout for the Sanguinary Guard is the Angelus-pattern bolter and the Glaive Encarmine, an exceptionally well-crafted two-handed power weapon which can either be a sword or an axe.
- Symbolic Wings: The jump packs worn by the Sanguinary Guard are decorated with large angelic wings in imitation of the mighty pinions of their Primarch, the Great Angel Sanguinius. The angelic image that these wings give the Sanguinary Guard greatly boosts the moral of their allies and strikes fear in the heart of their enemies.
The Death Company
On the eve of battle, those of Sanguinius' lineage who fall to their gene-curse and are overcome by the Black Rage are taken by the Chapters Chaplains and segregated from their brethren. As they can never be released from their curse, their armour is repainted in black and red, and they are gathered together into a fighting force called the Death Company. These berserk shock troops are sent into the teeth of the heat of battle to win final glory and honour by bringing horrifyingly brutal death to the enemies of the Imperium. Should a Death Company brother survive their final battle, they are typically granted the Emperor's Peace as death is the only release from their curse.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Guardian's Blade is a powerful glaive encarmine that became a relic of the Death Company after its wielder fell to the Black Rage. The Blade is famed throughout the Chapter for having a blade so sharp that no armour in the galaxy can protect from its razor-sharp edge. In the 7th Edition rules, the exceptional blade's sharpness was represented by it having the high Armour Penetration characteristic and the Armourbane special rule, allowing it to cleave through both personal and vehicle armour.
- The Berserker: The Black Rage causes Blood Angels to degenerate into blood-crazed lunatics who are overcome by the Genetic Memory of Sanguinius' death, and grouping them into the Death Company allows their squads to vent their fury on the Emperor's enemies rather than their comrades. When unleashed, the Death Company brutally tear their opponents apart in close combat, ignoring wounds that would incapacitate other Astartes. In some editions, the Red Thirstnote would temporarily turn a Blood Angel into a berserker, forcing even their support units to engage the enemy in brutal close combat.
- Death Seeker: Only one Blood Angel has ever recovered from the Black Rage and to leave them in that state is considered a fate worse than death. As such these Death Company brothers are sent into the worst fighting in search of a merciful end in combat, with any who survive given the Emperor's Peace after the battle.
- Evil Me Scares Me: The Blood Angels won't hesitate to charge Tyranids or even Daemons in close combat, and indeed relish the opportunity. What truly gives them pause is the prospect of falling to the Black Rage and joining the Death Company.
- Mini-Mecha: The mortally wounded Blood Angels who pilot the Chapter's Dreadnoughts are just as susceptible to falling to the Black Rage as their living brothers, and such tragic individuals are also initiated into the Death Company. They are installed into Furioso Dreadnoughts ornamented with the Company's macabre imagery, and unleashed as living battering rams against the foe. Unlike their flesh and blood brothers, Death Company Dreadnoughts often survive their battles and the sheer power and effectiveness of these weapons is such that, rather than being granted the the Emperor's Peace, they are restrained and kept in stasis for deployment in future battle.
- Onrushing Army: While a typical Blood Angel deployment moves forward swiftly and aggressively, it is done with the tight discipline expected of Astartes (even if that discipline can sometimes become strained). However, when the Death Company advances, no such discipline is possible; the Marines in it are Death Seekers to a man and only interested in a Self-Destructive Charge, and are too far consumed by the Black Rage to even contemplate any other approach.
- Power Born of Madness: Those gripped by the Black Rage become superhumanly brutal in combat and feel no pain, so that nothing short of death will stop them.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The Reliquary Armour, a relic of the Death Company from 7th Edition, is an ornate suit of artificer armour decorated with the bones of more than thirty Blood Angels heroes who fell to the Black Rage before their death. The armour is a grim reminder that even the greatest of the Chapter can become lost to the Flaw, stoking an extreme desire for vengeance within the heart of the wearer. In the rules this determination was represented by the wearer gaining special rules that allow them a better chance of resisting enemy psychic powers and the ability to get into close combat quicker.
Formerly the Tenth Legion of Astartes, the Iron Hands were once known as the Stormwalkers and their Primarch is Ferrus Manus. The Chapter is ruled by the Iron Council, with the temporary elected position of Voice of the Council acting as the de facto Chapter Master. The Voice of the Council at the beginning of the Era Indomitus is Kardan Stronos. The Chapter doesn't maintain a single fortress monastery upon their home world of Medusa. Instead, each individual Clan Company has its own mobile Hall of Conquest, with the only permanent structures on the planet being the Eye of Medusa, where the Iron Council meets, and the Gorgons Forge, where the Chapters greatest relics are kept.
The Iron Hands believe that the death of their Primarch during the Horus Heresy was caused by giving in to emotion, and have since become obsessed with cold logic and the purity of the machine. Technologically adept beyond the knowledge of most other Chapters, the Iron Hands ritualistically replace their organic components with cybernetics, and have forged close ties with the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Despite their tireless defence of the Imperium, the Iron Hands' hatred of weakness and lack of mercy have led to friction with other Imperial forces. Since the opening of the Great Rift and the dawning of the Era Indomitus, the Iron Hands have striven to find a greater balance between emotion and logic, and have launched the Iron Crusade to free the Stygius Sector from the grip of Chaos, despite the official Imperial retreat from the War Zone.
While the Chapter has been part of the Warhammer 40,000 game since its 1st Edition, the Iron Hands are generally treated as a stubborn, mechanically focused Codex compliant Chapter. The Iron Hands first received Chapter specific supplemental rules during 3rd Edition in their Index Astartes article published in White Dwarf and later republished in the Index Astartes III background book. During 6th Edition, Codex Supplement: Clan Raukaan introduced some new background information and rules for the Chapter that were later updated and reprinted in 7th Edition's Codex Supplement: Angels of Death. In 8th Edition, the Chapter uses the basic Astartes rules from the August 2019 release of Codex: Space Marines with additional Chapter specific rulesnote released in September 2019's Codex Supplement: Iron Hands.
- 24-Hour Armor: Some sources indicate that some the hatred that some Iron Hands hold for their weak flesh has led to them becoming permanently bound within their armour.
- Abnormal Ammo: The Iron Hands and their Successor Chapter make use of haywire bolts, rare bolt shells crafted from sagatellum ore minded on Medusa itself. An item of Special-Issue Wargear, introduced during 8th Edition, these sophisticated bolt rounds unleash a crackling burst of electricity that burns out the circuitry of enemy vehicles and banishes their machine spirit. In-game this is represented by haywire shells having the chance to cause mortal wounds against any Vehicle units they hit.
- Amplifier Artifact: The Mindforge is a web of psycho-active circuitry that improves the connection between a Librarian and his weapon. Assisted by the Mindforge's machine-spirit, the Librarian is able to enhance and optimise the psychic energy that they channel into their weapon. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Iron Hands rules represent this by giving the force weapon wielded by the Librarian a superior stat line compared to its regular version.
- Arch-Enemy: The Iron Hands have a particular hatred for the Traitor Legions that betrayed their Primarch during the Drop Site Massacre on Isstvan V and will fight all the harder against those they see as responsible for their gene-father's death. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Iron Hands rules represent this with the Vengeance for Isstvan V Iron Hands Stratagem (granting them a re-roll against World Bearers, Iron Warriors, Night Lords and Alpha Legion units they are fighting in melee) and The Gorgon's Rage Iron Hands Stratagem (granting them bonuses when fighting Emperor's Children in melee, along with other benefits).
- Artificial Limbs: Their obsession with the superiority of the machine over flesh often leads to Iron Hands acquiring more bionics whenever they get the opportunity, often going so far as replacing perfectly healthy limbs with mechanical replacements should the opportunity arise. This obsession with augmetics has even been adopted into the rituals of the Chapter with all Iron Hands undergoing the Rite of Severance when they complete their training. The Rite involves the new battle-brother having their left hand removed and replaced with a bionic version in imitation of their Primarch's own metallic fists. Should a battle-brother advance to Veteran status, they will often replace their right hand with a second augmetic fist.
- Base on Wheels: Due to the unstable geography of Medusa making such a thing impractical, the Iron Hands do not maintain a single stationary fortress monastery. Instead, each of the Iron Hands' Clan Companies operates its own mobile factory-barracks known as a Hall of Conquest that roves the surface of their home world in a manner similar to that of the planet's nomadic tribes. These fully automated marvels of technology are maintained by armies of servitors and were created for the Iron Hands in the distant past by the Adeptus Mechanicus to seal the alliance between the two organisations.
- BrainComputer Interface:
- Some background material mentions that the crew of the Iron Hands' many war machines often use their bionic implants to bond directly with their vehicles, essentially becoming one with its machine spirit.
- The Fortis-pattern data spike is a piece of Special-Issue Wargear available to Iron Hands Techmarines in the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Iron Hands sourcebook. The data spike allows a Techmarine to instantly commune with the machine-spirit of any Iron Hands vehicle, allowing them to diagnose the cause and location of any damage the vehicle may have suffered with great ease. In-game, this is represented by a Techmarine with a Fortis-pattern data spike having a greater chance of restoring multiple wounds to the damaged vehicle.
- Brain Uploading: When the Clan Company Kaargul Iron Father Paullian Blantar fell in battle his brain, all that was left of his biological body, was installed into a Dreadnought body so that he could continue to serve. Some amongst the Clan Company, however, believe that the great Iron Father actually had his soul uploaded into his new body, transcending flesh entirely and becoming a great inspiration to the Kaargul.
- Cavalry Refusal: Even after their re-evaluation of their reliance on logic, the Iron Hands belief in "only the strong are worthy of surviving" often results in them refusing to come to the aid of besieged planets if they calculate that doing so will incur a high cost to the Chapter. This belief has also led them to abandon their allies when they needed help the most, such as during the Battle for Columnus, where their refusal to alter their battle plans and assist their allies led to the loss of two Titans and the complete destruction of an entire Raven Guard strike force.
- Chainsaw Good: The Teeth of Mars are a set of blessed chainswords with cog-toothed blades that are gifted by the Adeptus Mechanicus to those of Ferrus Manus' lineage who show exceptional affinity with machines. Said to be blessed by the Machine God, the Teeth are particularly effective against the machines of heretics and xenos. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Iron Hands rules represent this by giving the Teeth of Mars increased Armour Penetration and Damage characteristics compared to a regular chainsword, as well as an ability that boots their Strength characteristic when used against vehicles.
- Continuity Drift: When first introduced, in the 3rd Edition Index Astartes article focusing on the Iron Hands, Iron Fathers were a unique unit that combined the roles of Techmarine and Chaplain. Over the years a number of characters that didn't fulfil this role were given the title of Iron Father until, in the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Iron Hands, it was officially stated the title is an honorary one that can be granted to any Iron Hand from the lowest battle-brother to the oldest of Dreadnoughts.
- Cyborg: The Iron Hands' belief in the strength of machines over the weakness of flesh has led to many of the Chapter's battle-brothers replacing their biological limbs and organs with bionic replacements, even when they are undamaged, and therefore have a higher proportion of cybernetically enhanced warriors than Chapters not of Ferrus Manus' lineage. It is even rumoured that some of the oldest members of the Chapter have little organic matter left except for their brain and the progenoid glands required to create the next generation of Astartes. In most editions of the game, this heavy degree of mechanisation leads to the Iron Hands being very durable on the battlefield as their bionic parts are far more durable than those of flesh.
- Death World: The Iron Hands' home world of Medusa is plagued by extreme tectonic activity that almost constantly throws volcanic ash into the air, and where Hostile Weather fronts that can strip flesh from bone roll across the surface. The population of the planet live in nomadic clans that traverse the planet's broken plains in large caravans of tracked vehicles. The realities of their lifestyle mean that weakness in the population cannot be afforded, with those too wounded or sick to continue are expected to leave their fellows so as not to strain the already thin resources their kin need. The Iron Hands recruit from these clans and share many of their values.
- Deflector Shields:
- The Gorgon's Chain is a symbiotic relic of the Iron Hands Chapter that can be fitted to a warrior's armour. Drawing power from the battle-brother's heart, the Gorgon's Chain is able to produce a powerful defence shield that reduces the energy of enemy attacks. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the bearer of the Gorgon's Chain an invulnerable save and reduces the chance that enemy ranged attacks will wound.
- In the 3rd Edition Index Astartes: Hand of Justice Iron Hands rules, Iron Fathers (then a Chaplain-Techmarine combined character) wear a Mechanicus Protectiva in place of the rosarius worn by the Chaplains of other Chapters. These arcane devices fit onto the power armour of the Iron Father, generating a small force field that was just as effective at stopping attacks as a rosariusnote
- Demonic Possession: During the Gaudinian Heresy, the Iron Hands' obsession with the perfection and purity of the machine led them to fall for a trap set by the Sapphire King, a powerful daemonic entity dedicated to Slaanesh that is obsessed with corrupting the Iron Hands. The incident resulted in a number of battle-brothers, including a full third of the Iron Council itself, becoming possessed by the Sapphire King's daemonic minions until Kardan Stronos realised that unleashing the repressed emotions of his warriors was the key to resisting the corruption. It was this incident that led to the Iron Hands re-evaluating their beliefs on the weakness of emotions.
- Devil's Advocate: When the Iron Hands integrated aspects of Roboute Guilliman's new Codex Astartes into their order-of-battle, they gave Lieutenants the role of Naysmith. In this role, it is the duty of a Lieutenant to criticise and question the plans of their Iron Captain until only a perfect, logical plan remains.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: The Iron Hands believe that the living metal hands of their Primarch were a physical embodiment of his doctrines of efficiency and strength above all things, something that has led to the Chapter's Rite of Severance where a newly initiated battle-brother has their left hand replaced with a mechanical one. Ferrus himself, however, never saw his hands as a sign of strength, for all the great works he accomplished with them he was painfully aware they weren't his real hands and it amazed him that no one else saw it that way too. He saw the hands as a sign of his weakness, a crutch he relied on instead of being strong in his own right.
- Epiphany Therapy: In the aftermath of the Gaudinian Heresy, where the Chapters preference following cold logic and emotional repression led to rampant daemonic possession, the Iron Hands were forced to re-evaluate their some of their core philosophies. While a the majority of the Chapter still hold to their belief that logic is superior to emotion, an increasing number, particularly amongst the battle-brothers of Clan Company Raukaan, are coming to the realisation that emotions tempered and controlled by logic can forge a strength greater than either in isolation.
- Healing Factor: The highly sophisticated Auto-Medicae Bionics, Special-Issue Wargear introduced during 8th Edition, incorporate automatic systems that can heal the biological components of those they are fitted to. In-game, these rare bionics heal the model they are attached to every turn.
- Jerkass: Due to their hatred of weakness and their reliance on cold logic when forming their battle plans, the Iron Hands have gained a reputation for ruthlessness, with some outsiders believing that they do not fight to protect the Imperium, simply to destroy the Imperium's foes. At best, this attitude can lead to Iron Hands being disdainful and dismissive of allied forces and refusing calls for aid if they do not believe they are worth their time. At worst, this hatred of weakness can lead to events such as the Purging of Contqual, where Clan Company Raukaan executed one in every three Imperial citizens within the Sub-Sector as they claimed that they could find very little evidence of innocence within the population.
- Knight Templar: The Iron Hands have absolutely no tolerance of weakness, both within themselves and in normal human populations they are meant to protect. The Chapter's high standards and ruthlessly applied logic often leads them to callously leave allies to die if it is tactically advantageous to do so and, during the Purging of Contqual, they executed two-thirds of the sub-sector's population as they believed that letting the Slaaneshi corruption take root on their worlds was a sign of guilt and weakness.
- Machine Empathy: Due to their close affinity with machines, and additional training from the Adeptus Mechanicus, Iron Hands Techmarines are some of the most talented engineers of any Space Marine Chapter, appearing to be able to instinctively diagnose what is troubling any machine-spirit. In-game this some editions of the rules make Iron Hands' vehicles tougher and easier to repair than those of other Chapters. The 8th Edition rules meanwhile represents this with the Machine Empathy Iron Hands Stratagem that allows Techmarines to repair vehicles twice in one turn.
- Machine Worship: The Iron Hands' reverence for the mechanical has led many amongst the Chapter to share some of the beliefs and practices of the Cult Mechanicus. Whether this idealisation borders on full veneration of the Omnissiah alongside the Emperor and their Primarch tends to very with edition and source material with the 3rd Edition rules making Iron Fathers combined Techmarine-Chaplains while other background indicates a looser relationship with the religious practices of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
- Man in the Machine: The Iron Hands consider being placed into the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought to be one of the greatest honours that the Chapter can bestow and there are even rumours that some battle-brothers undergo the procedure voluntarily, without being mortally wounded. Iron Fathers in particular are often granted the honour of transcending their weak flesh and becoming a Dreadnought, something that the 8th Edition rules represent with the March of the Ancients Iron Hands Stratagem that allows a Dreadnought to be upgraded to a Character with a superior stat line.
- Mobile Factory: The volatile geology of Medusa makes it impractical for the Iron Hands to maintain a single permanent fortress monastery in the manner of other Astartes Chapters. Instead, each of the Chapter's Clan Companies maintains a Hall of Conquest, a massive mobile armoury and barracks that produce the majority of the ammunition and equipment used by a Clan Company as they traverse the Medusan plains in imitation of the planet's native clans.
- My Greatest Failure: The battle-brothers of Clan Company Avernii, the Iron Hands' 1st Company, still blame themselves for allowing Ferrus Manus to die during the Drop Site Massacre at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. This failure has driven the warriors of the Clan Company to take even more drastic measures to purge themselves of emotion through the near constant use of simulus chambers until it is said that the Avernii feel nothing except the guilt of their predecessor's failure, driving them to fight all the harder against the Imperium's foes.
- Named Weapon: The unique combi-melta Betrayer's Bane is a sophisticated weapon with an enhanced rate of fire for its meltagun halfnote . The weapon is used to destroy the warriors of the Emperor's Children and has been engraved with the name of every battle where it has slain one of that most hated of Legions.
- Neural Implanting: The Iron Hands make extensive use of simulus chambers, controversial neural interfaces that allow a battle-brother to inload or exload a vast amount of data directly into their brain. The Iron Hands use these devices to instantly analyse data, conduct combat simulations and insert subconscious strategic protocols that prepare the recipient of any conservable battlefield scenario. The 8th Edition rules represent the pre-programmed firing solutions inserted into a battle-brothers brain with the Methodical Firepower Iron Hands Stratagem that improves their ranged attacks.
- Not So Stoic: Despite their hatred of emotions and their desire for nothing except pure logic, when hard pressed the Iron Hands have been noted to lose control of their rage and hatred, unleashing their repressed emotions in fury. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Gorgon's Rage Iron Hands Stratagem that gives them a bonus when in melee combat, particularly when fighting against the Emperor's Children.
- Rage Against the Mentor: One of the root causes of the Iron Hands' mistrust of emotion is their belief that their Primarch let himself be blinded by his rage at Isstvan V, leading to his irrational charge and ultimate death. In the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, the survivors embraced cold logic to the point of obsession, utterly rejecting their gene-father's more human qualities for the next ten thousand years.
- Rite of Passage: When an Iron Hands recruit is promoted to the rank of full battle-brother they undergo the Rite of Severance to mark the moment they become a true son of Ferrus Manus. The rite involves the removal of the initiate's right hand by the Chapter's most senior Iron Father, and its replacement with a bionic fist in honour of their gene-father's famous, living metal hands.
- Self-Harm: Some older background material mentions that the Iron Hands' hatred for their weak flesh often drives them to scourge their organic parts, so that the pain will remind them of how weak that flesh is and that, as a result, the remaining flesh of older Iron Hand is usually Covered in Scars. The 8th Edition background material meanwhile focuses on the ritual replacement of organic body-parts with Artificial Limbs.
- Thanatos Gambit: In the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, during the council known as the Tempering that was convened to discuss the future of the Iron Hands, Iron Father Arnok Kraan of Clan Company Garrsak was brutally assassinated by a mysterious assailant despite the extreme defensive measures in place. In the wake of his death, the council made the decision to stick to the dispassionate logic that Kraan had espoused, rather than fall to emotion as their gene-father did. A number of scholars have theorised that this outcome was exactly what Kraan had wished for, and he arranged his own death to make it a reality.
- Shock and Awe: One of the powers of the Iron Hands' 8th Edition Technomancy Psychic Discipline is Fury of Medusa, a psychic ability that allows a Librarian to unleash an electrical spirit against the enemy that can do multiple mortal wounds against multiple enemy units.
- The Stoic: The Iron Hands' are famous for their machine-like stoicism, rarely showing emotion and relying on cold logic to persecute their missions. This stoicism comes from the Chapter's hatred of all emotions and they continually strive to repress their passions so that they do not give in to the weaknesses of the flesh. The battle-brothers of the Chapter even look down on the pride and courage displayed by other Chapters.
- Super Toughness: The high proportion of bionics used by the Iron Hands makes them even more durable than the average Astartes, able to advance through all but the heaviest enemy fire by trusting in their mechanical blessings. How this is represented in game depends on the edition and can range from simple additional saves to more involved special rules such as Feel No Painnote . The 8th Edition rules represent the durability of the Iron Hands with a number of Chapter specific abilities, Stratagems and Warlord Traits that give them chances to simply ignore wounds they take.
- Taking the Bullet: If their calculations conclude that the life of their commander is worth more to the Chapter than their own, Iron Hands battle-brothers are more than willing to intercept attacks intended for their superiors. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Cogitated Martyrdom Iron Hands Stratagem that allows nearby units to the chance take a mortal wound in place of an attack that would have otherwise damaged an Iron Hands Character.
- Target Spotter: Some high-ranking Iron Hands include sophisticated targeting and data dissemination augmetics amongst their suit of bionic enhancements so that they can direct the fire of their battle-brothers with a high degree of accuracy. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Iron Hands rules represent this with the Target Protocols Iron Hands Warlord Trait that allows a nearby Iron Hands unit re-rolls for their ranged attacks.
- Technopath: The Librarian of the Iron Hands are able to use their psychic abilities to attune themselves to machines on a spiritual level. The Chapter's Librarians use these abilities to commune directly with machine spirits, encouraging damaged vehicles to repair themselves, cause enemy equipment to malfunction and reinforce the armour of their allies with psychic steel, represented in-game by the powers of the Technomancy Psychic Disciplinenote .
- Took a Level in Kindness: The combination of the events of the Gaudinian Heresy where the Chapter's obsession with the machine almost led them to fall to Chaos, the opening of the Great Rift that split the Imperium in half, and renewed hope of the dawning of the Era Indomitus led the Iron Council to conclude that the Chapter had lost its focus and are now determined to act in the Imperium's defence. While they still calculate the worth of any campaign they undertake, the Iron Hands are now somewhat more willing to take heavy losses in an attempt to save others instead of simply abandoning them to their fate and, such as during the Stygian Reforging, they have been willing to refuse orders to give up territory to the enemies of the Imperium if their own calculations lead them to believe that continuing the campaign themselves.
- Trial by Friendly Fire: Due to the cold hard logic they use when devising their battleplans, the Iron Hands are more than willing to fire on their allies if they have calculated that this is the most efficient way of defeating the enemy. This isn't represented on the tabletop, however, as the Chapter still has to follow the normal targeting restrictions.
Originally known as the War Born, the Ultramarines were originally the Thirteenth Legion and their Primarch is Roboute Guilliman. Marneus Calgar was Chapter Master at the time of Guilliman's Resurrection and he has continued with that role as the reborn Primarch has taken up the duties of Lord Commander of the Imperium. The Chapter is based in Ultramar, a minor stellar empire within the Eastern Fringe with their fortress monastery, the Fortress of Hera, situated on the world of Macragge.
As it was their Primarch that wrote the Codex Astartes, the organisational and tactical treatise that all Astartes Chapters are supposed to follow, the Ultramarines view themselves as the embodiment of what it means to be a Space Marine, and pride themselves on having a practical and theoretical strategy for any battlefield scenario. Due to the stability of their gene-seed and the sheer number of Ultramarines at the end of the Horus Heresy, nearly two-thirds of all modern Space Marine chapters are of Ultramarines stock. Since the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman, the launching of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade and the opening of the Great Rift the Ultramarines have been at the forefront of the Imperium's defence by leading the Indomitus Crusade, fighting in warzone across the galaxy, defending their realm from repeated attacks by the forces of Nurgle, and attempting to reclaim the five hundred worlds that used to be part of Ultramar at its height.
The Ultramarines have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 game since its 1st Edition but didn't truly become the archetypical Space Marine Chapter until 2nd Edition when the codex sourcebook for generic Space Marines was named Codex: Ultramarines. The Chapter were the Imperial forces included in the starter sets for 4th and 5th Editions of the gamenote , and have appeared on the cover of every Codex: Space Marines book in every edition except 3rd. For 8th Edition, the Ultramarines provide the Imperial forces in the Dark Imperium starter set with their rules being a combination of the basic Astartes rules from the August 2019 Codex Adeptus Astartes: Space Marines and the Chapter specific rules detailed in Codex Supplement: Ultramarines released at the same time.
For more about these paragons of Space Marine valour, see the Ultramarines novels.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Soldier's Blade is a simple sword so masterfully-crafted that its monomolecular edge has never needed sharpening since the founding of the Ultramarines. Despite lacking the advanced disruption field technologies of power weapons, the Soldier's Blade is still capable of slicing through armour that their more advanced counterparts would struggle to penetrate. In those editions where the relic is included, the rules for the Soldier's Blade represent this with a superior Armour Penetration value.
- Acid Attack: The ancient storm bolter known as Vengeance of Ultramar is equipped with a micro-forge that coats the weapon's bolts with a bio-reactive acid that burns through living material in an instant. This is represented in the 8th Edition rules by the weapon having a re-roll when attempting to wound a non-vehicle target.
- The Ultramarines have never forgiven the Word Bearers for their surprise attack on at Calth at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, and the subsequent ravaging of Ultramar. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Ultramarines represents this with the Vengeance for Calth Ultramarines Stratagem, which grants re-rolls when fighting Word Bearers in melee.
- The Ultramarines hold a great hated towards the Tyranids and have been heavily involved in the defence of the Imperium from this extra-galactic xenos. This is hatred dates back to the very first Hive Fleet to assault the galaxy, Hive Fleet Behemoth, nearly destroying Macragge and wiping out their entire First Company. This hatred has even led to a rare departure from the Codex Astartesnote with the formation of special Tyrannic War Veteran Squads, specifically trained and equipped to destroy the Tyranid menace. When included as a specific unitnote , Tyrannic War Veterans have special in-game rules that enhance their abilities while fighting Tyranids, such as the 8th edition Bane of Tyranids rule that grants them re-rolls when fighting against the xenos.
- Badass Cape: The Tarentian Cloak is a relic of the Ultramarines thought to date from the Dark Age of Technology. The Cloak is a marvel of technology, weaved with advanced bio-support systems and energy distributors that protect the wearer from harm and heal his wounds. The 8th Edition rules for the Cloak allow the wearer to heal their wounds each turn and gives them an unmodifiable save against enemy attacks.
- Boring, but Practical: While, in the lore, the Ultramarines do not specialise in any single battlefield tactic, their specialities being logistics, organisation and strategic planning, their overall body of skills gives them a strong foundation and that allows them to adapt to almost any battlefield situation, making them one of the most successful and well respected Chapters.
- Cool Helmet: The ancient helmet known as the Helm of Censure holds Sergeant Thiel's controversial thesis on the best ways to slay any foe, including fellow Astartes. Written before the Horus Heresy, the information contained within the Helm is still considered one of the best works on the subject ever written. In the 8th Edition rules, the Helm of Censure grants the wearer re-rolls in combat, along with bonuses to rolls made against Astartes opponents.
- Depending on the Writer: Due to their lack of overt specialisation, many background writers and novel authors have taken various aspects of the Chapter in different directions. Common topics of divergence include exactly how strictly the Codex is followed (some sources say "To the letter", even if that veers right into Lawful Stupid territory, while others dial this back and say that minor variances are accepted, so long as they can be justified later), how well liked the Ultramarines are in universe (some material has noted the Chapter being prideful, with no small number of rivals and foes, while others painted them as one of the most beloved Chapters in the Imperium) and whether the Ultramarines are Masters of None or Masters of All.
- Good Luck Charm: Some background material mentions that the Ultramarines consider the battle barge Emperor Incarnatus to be unusually holy and see it as a herald of good fortune.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Due to their discipline, training and strategic planning, the Ultramarines are one of the most tactically flexible and well-rounded of all the major Chapters, able to fight on every front and undertake any style of mission with equal chance of success. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Ultramarines rules represent this with a number of different rules and Stratagems that allow them to adapt to various battlefield situations at a moment's notice.
- Lawful Stupid: In some early versions of their background, the Ultramarines were infamous for their near-religious adherence to the Codex Astartes, with reports of their members being punished or deemed heretics for acting in ways not in accordance with it in battle, even when such actions led to victory against the odds. This tendency has become less prevalent over the years, with such attitudes being confined to individual Marines who suffer from an obsession with following the Codex to the letter, and the resurrected author of the Codex being somewhat tolerant of deviation as long as it gets results.
- Loophole Abuse: While a Space Marine chapter is only supposed to have a single planet as its fief, they are allowed to draw recruits from multiple planets if necessary. In the case of the Ultramarines, these recruitment worlds just so happen to be in close proximity and share close cultural, trading and military ties. While each of these worlds are at least partially self-sufficient, with their own governments, fleets and military, all the worlds are fiercely loyal to the Ultramarines and together form the sub-sector wide stellar empire known as Ultramar with the Ultramarine's home world of Macragge at its heart.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Due to their gene-father being the author of the Codex Astartes the Ultramaries had been strict adherents to its tenets for ten millenia but the invasion of their home world during the First Tyrannic War was so traumatic that they willingly diverged from the rules their founder prescribed creating the Tyrannic War Veterans, a special unit dedicated to destroying the Tyranid threat.
- Plasma Cannon: The Sunwrath Pistols, gifted to Roboute Guilliman at the outset of the Indomitus Crusade by Archmagos Cawl, are some of the most advanced plasma weapons of their size created by the Imperium. Fitted superior cooling systems, the Sunwrath Pistols are able to fire at full power repeatedly without overheating. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the Sunwrath Pistols the stat line of a supercharged plasma pistol but with more shots and no chance of killing its owner.
- Powered Armor: The unique suit of Terminator armour known as the Armour of Konor is an honoured relic of the Ultramarines that offers far superior protection to even a regular Terminator suit. Constructed from thousands of layers of rare and durable alloys, the Armour can defend against even the most devastation of attacks. The 8th Edition rules for the Armour of Konor give the wearer a superior invulnerable save to that of a regular suit of Terminator armour, and also reduces the amount of Damage taken from each attack.
- Rules Lawyer: As the Chapter with the closest ties to its author, the Ultramarines are typically described as strict adherents to the tenets laid out in the Codex Astartes. At one time, exactly how strictly the Codex was stuck to tended to vary from depiction to depiction but the lore eventually settled on the Ultramarines' views differing from individual Marine to individual Marine: some regard the book as an almost religious text, others see it as an evolving set of tenets that are constantly upgraded as new foes and tactics reveal themselves. With the return of Roboute Guilliman, however, the Ultramarines have returned to being exemplary followers of the Codex Astartes as the author himself is now able to update its wisdom as needed.
- Series Mascot: Since at least the 2nd Edition of the game, the Ultramarines have been the default Space Marine Chapter, appearing on the packaging for default Space Marine products, and the effective mascot for the game itself. Since that time, the Ultramarines have also been a mascot for Games Workshop in general, a role they now share with the Stormcast Eternals from Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
- Space Romans: The Ultramarines have a strong Greco-Roman theme with the traditional designs of their weapons and equipment design features with those of the Classical world (such as gladius-style combat blades and helmets with Roman Legion like helmet plumes), and Latin-like naming conventions. Their superior logistical and strategic abilities to their contemporaries are also based on the Roman Legions. In addition to this, the Chapter's home world of Macragge is depicted like a sci-fi version of Rome with marble architecture and toga wearing locals, while their stella empire of Ultramar from which the draw their recruits is analogous of the Roman Republic and Empire's large swaths of territory.
- The Strategist: Planning and strategy are noted specialities of the Ultramarines, their commanders able to plan wide ranging campaigns and read the flow of battle so that their well-trained warriors can switch between various pre-planned battlefield strategies at a moments notice. The 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Ultramarines rules represent this with a number of different abilities, Stratagems and Warlord Traits that effect Tactical Objectives, Command Points and the army-wide Combat Doctrine special rule.
Once known as the Dragon Warriors, the Salamanders were the Eighteenth Legion and were created from the gene-seed of the Primarch Vulkan, sharing their gene-father's obsidian skin and smouldering red eyes. The Chapter draws their recruits from the volcanic world of Nocturne, while their fortress monastery is built upon and within the moon Prometheus. The role of Chapter Master of the Salamanders, known as the regent of Prometheus, is traditionally taken on by the Captain of the Chapter's 1st Company. At the dawning of the Era Indomitus, this position is held by Tu'Shan, who sits at the head of the Chapter's ruling Pantheon Council.
The violent conditions of Nocturne bread a hardy people who provide fine recruits for the Salamanders and unlike the Astartes of many chapters, Salamander battle-brothers often live amongst the human communities of their world, providing guidance for the population and mentoring prospective novices. Over the course of their training, all Salamanders are indoctrinated into the Promethean Cult, a creed that teaches self-reliance, patience, compassion and loyalty. Each battle-brother is also taught metalworking and blacksmithing, learning to maintain their own equipment, allowing the Chapter's Techmarines to focus on creating master-crafted wargear.
The Salamanders have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 games since 1st Edition but it wasn't until the Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign tie-in sourcebook Codex: Armageddon for 3rd Edition that they first gained supplemental rules to represent their own style of warfare. Subsequent editions generally treat the Salamanders as a generally Codex compliant Chapter with a focus on stubbornness and flamer weapons. During 5th Edition, the Chapter was featured in Forge World's Badab War sourcebooks where they received additional characters and background material about their involvement with the campaign. During 7th Edition the Salamanders received some rules in the Codex Supplement: Angels of Death sourcebook, alongside the other Codex compliant First Founding Chapters. In 8th Edition, the Chapter uses the basic Astartes rules from the August 2019 release of Codex: Space Marines with additional Chapter specific rulesnote released in October 2019's Codex Supplement: Salamanders. The rules for the Chapter's Badab War characters can be found in Forge World's Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes.
For more about the warriors of Nocturne, see the Salamanders novels.
- Amplifier Artifact: The Tome of Vel'cona, a relic of the Chapter's Librarius that was written by the Salamanders' Chief Librarian, contains his teachings on the nature of psychic abilities and how best to harness the fire that lies within the psyche of the Chapter's battle-psykers. Any Librarian who reads the book before a battle is able use this knowledge to enhance their own abilities that are represented by extra powers and bonuses to their casting ability in all editions of the tabletop game.
- Arch-Enemy: As with the other loyalist Legions present at the Drop Site Massacre that marked the start of the Horus Heresy, the Salamanders hold a particular loathing for the Traitor Legions that betrayed them during the disastrous battle and have access to the Vengeance for Isstvan V Stratagemnote , giving them a bonus when in melee combat with warriors from Word Bearers, Iron Warriors, Night Lords and Alpha Legion armies.
- The Blacksmith: Vulkan was raised as a blacksmith, and the Salamanders have kept this tradition alive in the millennia since. Reverence for the fire and the forge are a fundamental part of the Chapter's creed, known as the Promethean Cult. Battle-brothers of the Chapter commonly build and maintain their own wargear, and have a distinct preference for weapons associated with metalworks, such as thunder hammers, and others that reflect the fires of the forge, such as flamers and meltas.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: Since the Salamanders make their own boltguns instead of relying on mass-produced version like most Chapters, they typically lavish as much attention on decorating them as they do on maintaining them. A number of Space Marine sourcebooks include background material and Flavor Text dedicated to concept, including one example where it took a Techmarine a year to build a boltgun before taking the next fifty to refine and embellish it to his satisfaction.
- Bling of War: As with most of their weapons and equipment, many Salamanders will put their spend their time ornamenting their power armour with scales, flame patterns, draconic motifs and other symbols of the Promethean Cult.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: In addition to their roles as subsidiary commanders, Lieutenants in the Salamanders Chapter are assigned to fight as bodyguards alongside their more experienced Captain.
- Dark Is Not Evil: With their glowing red eyes and onyx skin, many ordinary citizens of the Imperium see the Salamanders as almost daemonic, with some going so far as to demand they be purged for mutation. Despite this, the Salamanders are actually one of the most humane and humble breeds of Astartes who will go to great lengths to protect as many innocents as possible.
- Death World: The Salamanders' home world of Nocturne is a rugged place of volcanoes, ash deserts and earthquakes, populated by the fire-breathing reptiles that the Salamanders take their name from. Every fifteen years the Time of Trials begins as Nocturne's oversized moon Prometheus draws close. During this period, the plant's already high level of seismic activity increases exponentially, threatening every settlement save for the seven Sanctuary Cities that are built on geological safe areas and protected by powerful defences. Once the volcanic activity subsides, the planet is gripped by a long and bitter winter that covers the world in a frozen tundra. Such an extreme cycle is incredibly hostile to human life, with the only solace being the fresh veins of mineral wealth exposed by the regular cataclysmic upheaval.
- Drop the Hammer: Due to the blacksmithing and metalworking aspects of the Promethean Cult, the Salamanders often wield hammers as melee weapons, particularly the powerful thunder hammers and Chapter Master Tu'Shan is often depicted wielding a thunder hammer that was supposedly made from the same metal as Vulkan's own thunder hammer, Thunderhead. On the tabletop, some older editions gave the Salamanders special character Vulkan He'stan a rule making all thunder hammers more dangerous, while the 8th Edition Salamanders Primaris Upgrade kit is the only Chapter specific kit that includes thunder hammers as an option.
- Elemental Barrier: Salamander Librarians are able to surround themselves and their battle-brothers with a wall of flame protects them from incoming fire. Known as the Fire Shield, this Promethean psychic powernote makes it harder for enemies to shoot at and charge the protected units for a turn.
- Fiery Salamander: The Salamanders are named after the great, fire-breathing, dragon-like creatures native to their home world and they make heavy use of both fire and lizard motifs in their design aesthetic. The Promethean Discipline note continues the theme with the psychic powers Drakeskin and Draconic Aspect that allow a Salamander Librarian to cover his allies with psychic salamander scales and take on the appearance of one of the great drakes respectively.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: The fiery tenets of the Promethean Cult lead the Salamanders to use flamer and melta weaponry more frequently than many other chapters. In those editions that include Chapter specific rules, the Salamanders often get various benefits while using flamers and melta weapons, such as the 4th Edition rule that allowed Salamander Tactical squads to replace their heavy weapon with flamers or meltas, and the 8th Edition Stratagem The Fires of Battle that gives these weapons a chance of causing mortal wounds.
- Gentle Giant: The Salamanders lack the arrogance that affects some of their brother Chapters and respect human life above their own, making them some of the most humane and humble Astartes in the setting despite their daemonic appearance.
- Heavy Worlder: Some background material states that Nocturne has slightly higher gravity than Terran standard, resulting in a strong and sturdy population that were slightly slower than normal. In some editions this was represented in on the tabletop by rules that reduced the Salamanders' Initiativenote and restricting their access to anti-gravity vehicles and other Fast Attack choices.
- Magma Man: The Fury of Nocturne psychic powernote allows a Librarian to split the earth and call forth boiling lava from beneath the planet's crust and cause mortal wounds against enemy units.
- Mighty Glacier: The Promethean Cult's warnings against haste and impatience have resulted in a preference for slow and steady advances and patient defensive actions. In addition to this, while they are still capable of performing the rapid strikes favoured by many Chapters, the Salamanders field fewer fast attack elements than many other Chaptersnote . Some background material for the Chapter also mentions that the Salamanders have slower reaction times than other Astartes, although they are still far faster than an unaugmented human.
- Mobile Factory: The Artefact of Vulkan known as the Chalice of Fire is an ancient forge ship capable of manufacturing enough weapons and wargear to outfight an entire Legion of Astartes. Since its rediscovery by Forgefather Dir'san, however, the Chalice of Fire has been permanently moored at the Salamanders' orbital dockyards above Prometheus so that it can produce high quality war material for the Chapter.
- Named Weapon:
- Drake-Smiter is a supremely powerful thunder hammer that was forged to destroy the void-dragons of the Moons of Orth. In the years since its forging, the mighty weapon has been found to be just as capable of shattering battle tanks and Titans as it is the diamond hard skulls of the beasts it was originally created to slay.
- The relic flamer Nocturne's Fury was created in imitation of the fire-breathing dragons of ancient Terran myth. After its destruction during the Indomitus Crusade, the remains of Nocturne's Fury were incorporated into the combi-weapon Nocturne's Vengeance so that its mighty machine spirit could continue to serve the Chapter.
- Wrath of Prometheus has served the chapter faithfully for centuries, slaying countless numbers of the Emperor's foes the length and breadth of the galaxy. Such is the power of this expertly crafted bolter that, in-game, its profile is closer to that of a heavy bolter than a regular boltgun.
- Nemean Skinning: Before they can become one of the Firedrakes of the 1st Company a Salamander battle-brother must hunt down, slay and skin one of the great reptiles the company takes its name from and it is not uncommon for Salamander officers and heroes to wear these dragon hides into battle. While these cloaks are often simply aesthetic, some editions make them a wargear option that grants the wearer additional protection.
- Playing with Fire: The importance that fire has to the Promethean Cult leads to many of the Salamanders' Librarians manifesting fiery psychic powers. How this is represented in the game varies by edition with some simply encouraging players to choose their powers from the generic Pyromancy psychic discipline, while the 8th Edition Codex Supplement: Salamanders includes a Chapter specific Promethean discipline that allows Librarians to cast fireballs, create walls of flame to protect their allies or strike their foes with flaming fists.
- Pragmatic Hero: While still far less callous than many Astartes, the warriors of the Pyroclasts, the Salamander's 3rd Company, are far more willing to slay the innocent alongside the xenos and the traitor in order to prevent their taint from further infecting the Imperium. Those that serve in the 3rd Company believe that by doing this, they can embody the pragmatism of their Primarch, but they still carry the weight of the innocent lives they have taken.
- Pro Human Trans Human: While they will willingly cause civilian casualties when there is no other alternative, the Salamanders are known to be one of the most compassionate of all the Chapters of Astartes, going to great length to protect the human population of the Imperium. The Salamanders will stand against anyone who targets civilians unnecessarily, and Chapter Master Tu'Shan even went so far as to beat the First Captain of the Marines Malevolent to a bloody pulp for their excessive bombing of a refugee camp during the Third Armageddon War.
- Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: For the people of Nocturne, the typical naming convention is two 1- or 2-syllable components separated by an apostrophe. Prominent examples in the Salamanders include Chapter Master Tu'Shan, Chief Librarian Vel'cona, and Da'kir in the Salamanders series of novels. There are exceptions to the rule, however, with names such as Adrax Agatone and Vulkan himself, who was named by his Nocturnean foster father after the first king of salamanders from the planet's mythology.
- Scary Black Man: Due to the genetic legacy of their Primarch and the high ambient radiation of their home world the Salamanders are onyx-skined giants with glowing red eyes that make them look like daemons to many ignorant Imperial citizens. The Salamanders are well aware of the effect their appearance can have and often use it to their advantage, quashing potential rebellions with their very presence. Despite this look, the Salamanders are still one of the most humane and humble of Space Marine Chapters.
- Self-Harm: The Salamanders have numerous scarification rituals where a battle-brother will get one of the Chapter's specialised brander-priests to burn oaths, honour marks, rank insignia and symbols of the Promethean Cult onto their bodies. Facial brands are also a mark of Veteran status amongst the Chapters warriors.
- Stone Wall: Due to their Heavy Worlder status, their preference for heavy, customized armour, and their dedication to the Promethean Cult that teaches patience and stoicism, Salamander Strike Forces are often less mobile than those of other Astartes but are much harder to displace when they are committed, with many editions giving them special rules and abilities perfect for defensive actions. On the other hand, the Salamanders' plethora of powerful, short-ranged weapons such as flamers and meltas, coupled with their skill at defences, mean that they also excel at Gradual Grinder tactics, particularly when assaulting through close terrain.
- Super Senses: One of the unique features of the Salamanders' gene-seed is that their eyes are more sensitive to infrared light than those of other Astartes. To take advantage of this fire-sight, the Salamanders have developed a special material that can be worked into their equipment to generate infrared emissions that produce signals and designs that only other Salamanders can perceive.
- That Thing Is Not My Child!: Due to the Black Dragon's murky origins and their extreme mutations, the Salamanders have never accepted that they share Vulcan's gene-seed with them despite persistent rumours and circumstantial evidence.
- Token Minority: There are a number of pieces of artwork showing the Salamanders with traditional African features. Coupled with their onyx skin this makes the Chapter one of the few official black factions in the game, and the only black First Founding Legion.
- Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: When he disappeared, Vulkan left behind an entire archive of books, sheet metal scrolls, crystal dataslates, curios and mysterious items that are collectively known as the Tome of Fire. The Salamanders believe that these items contain messages left by their Primarch that contain, among other things, clues to the locations of the lost Artefacts of Vulkan, but it's up to the Forgefather to interpret them.
- Wave-Motion Gun: One of the nine Artefacts of Vulkan, the Eye of Vulkan is a massively powerful laser weapon capable of destroying ships and asteroids with a single blast. The weapon was originally mounted on the ancient forge ship Chalice of Fire but has since been incorporated into the orbital defences that protect the Salamander's fortress monastery on Prometheus.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Unlike many Chapters, the Salamanders follow the example of their gene-father and take great pains to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties, will feel like they have failed when they are forced to kill Imperial citizens and they will fiercely reprimand allies that show a casual disregard for human life.
The Raven Guard were originally the Nineteenth Legion. Their Primarch is Corvus Corax and their home world is Deliverance, the moon of the industrial world Kiavahr. Prior to the Prefectia Campaign, their Chapter Master was Corvin Severax. After Severax's death Kayvaan Shrike was promoted to Chapter Master.
The subtle and shadowy Raven Guard are masters of stealth and covert operations. Disdaining the shock assaults of the Blood Angels or Space Wolves, the Raven Guard prefer crippling surprise attacks where the enemy is most vulnerable, frequently utilizing Scout squads or airborne infantry. Fiercely independent, Raven Guard companies function under a great deal of autonomy, but are quick to respond to calls for assistance from Imperial commanders.
As with the other First Founding Chapters, the Raven Guard have been part of the game since its 1st Edition but have rarely had much focus. The Chapter received detailed background information and their first supplemental rules in their 3rd Edition Index Astartes, article published in White Dwarf, but when the article was republished in the Index Astartes IV collection the rules section was removed due to the introduction of the Chapter Traits system in the 4th Edition Codex: Space Marines. During 7th Edition the Raven Guard features in the War Zone Damocles campaign books with the rules from these publications being reprinted in a digital codex supplement focusing solely on the Chapter, and later in Codex Supplement: Angels of Death. In 8th Edition, the Chapter uses the basic Astartes rules from the August 2019 release of Codex: Space Marines with additional Chapter specific rules released in September 2019's Codex Supplement: Raven Guard.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: Due to enormous materiel losses on Isstvan V, most Raven Guard power armour is from older marks with the Mark IV "Corvus" pattern power armour being particularly prominent.
- Canis Latinicus: The Chapter's High Gothic Battlecry, "Victorus aut Mortis!," would be "Victoria aut Mors" in proper Latin.
- Casting a Shadow: The Librarius of the Raven Guard practice Umbramancy, a psychic discipline centered around manipulating shadows and which especially suits the Raven Guard's tactics. Raven Guard Librarians who use this discipline are able to cast a veil of darkness around them to hide them from the enemy, travel within shadows to reach any place on the battlefield or even turn an enemy's own shadow against them, creating ravens made of darkness that disorientate the foe.
- Combat Pragmatist: The Raven Guard care little for honour and are happy to use any tactics as long as it gets results. They are particularly adept in the use of assassination, ambush, sabotage and other forms of asymmetric warfare, and are even willing to repaint their armour as part of a disguise, a tactic most other Chapters would consider an insult to the armour's machine-spirit.
- Creepy Crows: The Raven Guard are a black-ops-esque unit — as much as giants in a power armor can be. In one of their short stories, Shadow Captain Shrike manages to scare an Ork Kommando. Their home world, Kiavahr, even houses a species of giant, carnivorous, man eating ravens.
- Due to the Dead: The burial customs of the Raven Guard consist only of stripping the fallen of his equipment, gene-seed, and bird skull totemsnote before leaving the corpse for the local carrion birds.
- Dynamic Entry: A common strategy by the Raven Guard who use their Stealth Expertise to set up ambushes, sprung with the speed and violence expected of Astartes. The Chapter make great use of assault squads as a key part of their battlefield tactics, dropping right onto the enemy without warning while using their surprise and momentum to increase the damage of their assault.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Raven Guard have a defect in their Melanochromic organ that turns their skin pure white while their hair and eyes turn jet black. This physical appearance. coupled with the Chapter's predisposition for shadows and stealth, lends the Raven Guard as a whole a ghostly look.
- Entertainingly Wrong: It is common knowledge that Astartes function as terrifyingly lethal shock troops who show up in Highly Conspicuous Armor and smash their way quickly through the enemy, carried forward by their enhancements, equipment, training, coordination, and unbreakable wills. The Raven Guard consider this reputation to their advantage, because the last thing most foes would expect is Astartes who will blend into the background and spring careful ambushes.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Depending on the Writer, the Raven Guard are sometimes Native American-themed. Interestingly enough though, the Raven Guard having chalk white skin may be a reference to "Paleface", a native slur for white people.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The Raven Guard were some of the first victims of the Drop Site Massacre during the Horus Heresy, and as a result of the shock and surprise of the incident they suffered some of the worst casualties. In order to bring their numbers back from the brink of extinction, Corax tapped into some sealed knowledge that was forbidden to the eyes of all but the Emperor himself and his Primarchs, and used this to tinker with their gene-seed to accelerate the process of making new Marines. It worked, but many of those suffered warping of the flesh, gigantism, and horrible mental trauma, becoming twisted abominations. Corax gave them the Emperor's Peace, and said of his actions, "Nevermore". The Raven Guard's induction rate remains low to this day because of it.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: The Raven Guard specializes in fast, stealthy, surgical attacks, rather than the brute-force onslaught preferred by many other chapters.
- Invisibility Cloak: During the Great Crusade, Raven Guard warships used a void shield variant called Reflex Shields which essentially rendered them invisible through redirection of their physical and energetic emissions.
- Named Weapon:
- Ex Tenebris is a relic boltgun of the Raven Guard rumoured to have been created by the Primarch himself as a gift for his brother Konrad Curze. A highly accurate and silenced weapon, the Ex Tenebris is now borne into battle by the greatest heroes of the Chapter.
- The masterfully crafted Sniper Rifle Nihilus is traditionally carried by the greatest marksman of the Raven Guard's 10th Company. The weapon fires inky-black shots that implode with such force that they can split the power armoured opponent in half and will even penetrate armoured vehicles if it hits in the right spot.
- Swiftstrike and Murder are a pair of perfectly balanced lightning claws that allow their wielder to rip through all but the most heavily armoured foes at incredible speed.
- Not So Different: To the Night Lords. They are both armies of stealth and surgical strike masters, with the Raven Guard prior to Corax being found being extremely brutal and callous just like the Night Lords. Corax is taken aback when he realizes just how similar the two groups really are.
- The Quiet One: Raven Guard Marines spend a lot of time listening and very little time talking, to the point of barely engaging other Astartes in conversation. This can sometimes irritate members of the more boisterous chapters such as the White Scars or Space Wolves.
- Stealth Expert: The Raven Guard are the greatest practitioners of stealth and subtlety amongst the Adeptus Astartes. The Chapter is known to practice a specialist stealth discipline they call "Wraith-Slipping" that allows them to slip effortlessly from shadow to shadow, and are also known to develop secret rites of silence, personal techniques that allow them to baffle the sounds of their armour and equipment so that they can move far quieter than many enemies expect. In-game, their 8th Edition Chapter Tactics give enemy units a -1 penalty to their Ballistic Skill for shooting attacks against Raven Guard units that are more than 12" away.
- Terror Hero: The Raven Guard are stealth and infiltration specialists able to sneak up on enemies despite being power-armored giants. A successful campaign by the Chapter leaves their enemies huddled around light sources, mortally afraid of the dark. In-game, one of the Raven Guard's unique Tactical Objectives awards them points for any enemy unit that is forced to fail a Leadership test.
- Wolverine Claws: Lightning claws are the signature weapon of the Raven Guard and their successor Chapters with many of their Veteran Squads being entirely outfitted with them. The Chapter have even developed their own pattern of lightning claw, the Hawks Talon, which has hooked blades in imitation of the claws of a bird of prey.
Noteworthy Second Founding Chapters
The Black Templars are a successor chapter of the Imperial Fists. Their current High Marshall is Helbrecht and they are fleet-based.
Initially composed of the most fanatical battle-brothers of the old Imperial Fists Legion, the Black Templars have been on crusade for ten thousand years in order to prove their undying loyalty to the Emperor. They are infamous for their suicidal bravery and zealous hatred of witches and non-humans, which often extends to those they perceive as harboring said heretics. The Black Templars break from the Codex Astartes by fielding mixed squads of Initiates and Neophytes, and more significantly by being organized into multiple crusader fleets that exceed the limit on a conventional chapter's strength, a fact of considerable concern to the Inquisition.
The Black Templars began life as a regular Space Marine Chapter in 1st Edition Warhammer 40,000. During 3rd Edition the Chapter were the Imperial Forces included in the Warhammer 40,000 starter set while the Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign saw the Black Templars receive a major revamp, along with unique rules included in the Codex: Armageddon supplement alongside rules for some of the other forces involved in the conflict. The 4th Edition of the game saw the Black Templars receive their only solo codex sourcebook as from 6th Edition onwards the Chapter was included as part of the regular Codex: Space Marines. In 8th Edition, the Black Templars have basic rules in Codex: Space Marines, with additional Chapter specific rules and units included in November 2019's Psychic Awakening: Faith & Fury sourcebook.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Black Templars have gone through several special rules reflecting their absolute fanaticism and hatred for the enemy, even when it might go against sound tactical logic. In some editions they've had to take Leadership tests to shoot enemies who aren't the closest, been Fearless in close combat, or could take a Vow that forced them to charge any enemy unit within range in exchange for getting Preferred Enemy against everyone. Their most infamous trait is a rulenote that makes the Black Templars charge forward instead of falling back after sustaining casualties from enemy fire.
- Bling of War: The Black Templars are one of the flashiest chapters, with heavily decorated armor featuring lots of gilding and scrollwork. Like the Dark Angels, they also frequently wear mantles or tabards over their armor.
- Chained by Fashion: The Black Templars wear chains as part of their iconography, frequently affixing one end of the chain to their weapons and the other end to their armor, wrapping them around their arms to shorten the slack. Aside from making it harder to lose their grip on their weapons, they do it to symbolically show that they are unwilling to set aside their arms until their enemies are destroyed. This tradition has its roots in the days of the Great Crusade, before the Horus Heresy, when Sigismund accompanied a chapter of World Eaters, who introduced him to the idea. Upon founding the Black Templars, the technique spread among them, though he kept its origins to himself.
- Church Militant: The Black Templars are one of the (relatively few) Space Marine Chapters that venerate the Emperor as a god just as fervently as the Ecclesiarchy. Their forces fight in Crusades, their armament and armor is very reminiscent of The Knights Templar, and they rarely take to the field without being led by a consecrated champion.
- Cool Helmet: The Crusader's Helm is an ornate relic of the Chapter that incorporates the jawbone of a saint into its vox-unit. This sanctified and enhanced vox enables the wearer's voice to carry clearly across the din of battle, represented in the 8th Edition of the game by increasing the range of the model's special abilities.
- Cool Ship: The Eternal Crusader, an Astartes battle-barge that has been in continuous service with the Black Templars since the Great Crusade. It is the flag-ship of the Black Templars, host to the High Marshal himself, and has been expanded and enhanced across the ten millennia to the point that it is capable of both carrying and supporting twice as many Space Marines as a typical battle-barge. It travels between the various Black Templar fleets, giving its support where it is most needed at any given time.
- Counter-Attack: The Black Templars will always retaliate against their foes if given the opportunity and the Black Templars Stratagem Vicious Ripostenote represents this by giving unit the chance to inflicting mortal wounds against an opponent after an attacked has been stopped by their armour.
- Duel to the Death: The Black Templars are firm believers in individual strength and personal honour with their officers deliberately seeking out enemy leaders to engage in personal combat. In previous editions of the game this was represented by the "Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds" vow that gave their characters bonuses while fighting a duel.
- Everyone Has Standards: The Black Templars are literally the most fanatical anti-mutant and anti-psyker Chapter of Space Marines named in the fluff. But even they were appalled at the extents that the ruling powers of the planet Lastrati went to in the name of "purifying" themselves of mutation, unleashing multiple bio-engineered viruses programmed to wipe out traits they defined as "undesirable", culling their population so thoroughly that it had dropped from 14 billion to 2.5 million. In fact, they were so appalled that they declared the government of Lastrati to be corrupted by Chaos and violently purged them.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: With their tabard-covered armour, Germanic names, knightly theme and monochrome colour scheme, the Black Templars are essentially Super Soldier versions of The Teutonic Knights.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Due to their shared convictions and long history fighting alongside the Ecclesiarchy, the Black Templars get along quite well with the Sisters of Battle.
- Frontline General: Ironically, despite the chapter's infamy for Attack! Attack! Attack!, the Chapter Master and Captain-equivalents for the Black Templars (High Marshal and Marshals) unlike many other examples in 40K avert this and actually generally just act as coordinating tacticians away from the front itself during battles.
- Holy Hand Grenade: Previous editions of the game included the Holy Orb of Antioch as a wargear option for the Black Templars. These masterwork grenades are filled with sacred unguents, inscribed with blessings of purity and destruction, and have consecrated acids mixed with their explosives. All this ensured that these blessed weapons destroy the daemon and the heretic with the sacred wrath of the God-Emperor himself.
- Knight Templar: This is the chapter that even the Inquisition worries is overzealous.
- Loophole Abuse: Technically, Codex-compliant chapters are allowed to exceed the thousand-man limit if on a crusade... the Black Templars have just been on crusade for over ten thousand years. The only caveat to this is that they cannot maintain a home world for the duration... which allows them to plonk recruits from every single world they pass by and set up "outpost" monasteries. No one but their High Marshall knows exactly how many of them there are, but it's speculated to be around six thousand Astartes and hundreds of strongholds spread throughout the galaxy, a force that if ever assembled in one place would be all but unstoppable.
- Necessarily Evil: While the Black Templars hate all psykers, as a fleet-based crusading chapter they are necessarily highly dependent on astropaths to coordinate anything and navigators to go anywhere. These are the only exceptions they allow to their fanatical loathing of psykers. Astropaths are even given a small measure of respect for having touched their souls to that of the God-Emperor.
- Sacred Scripture: The Ancient Breviary was originally the personal prayer book of the Black Templars' first High Chaplain, and it is now held in awe by the Chapter's battle-brothers. Reading from this sacred book helps a Chaplain to whip his fellow Black Templars into a religious fury, with the 8th Edition rules making it more likely that a model with this relic will successfully use a Litany of the Devout.
- The Squire: Rather than training in a Scout Company, Neophytes are apprenticed to an Initiate to be taught the ways of the Black Templars, fighting alongside them in mixed Crusader Squads on the battlefield while acting as the Initiate's servant between campaigns.
- Unstoppable Rage: In battle, the Black Templars fight with a furious zeal, with casualties caused by enemy fire only making them angrier. In-game this is represented by the Righteous Zeal rule that gives them bonuses if they suffer casualties from enemy fire as well as the Warlord Trait Furious Indignation where, instead of suffering morale penalties if there are casualties, the Warlord and his unit will instead undergo a Heroic Second Wind and storm forward to take the fight to the enemy in revenge for the fallen.
- Weapon of X-Slaying:
- Witchseeker Bolts have been specifically created to slay those with psychic abilities. Made from the blades of slain Black Templars and consecrated by Ministorum Priests, these bolt rounds have proven to be the bane of witches on multiple battlefields and they can cause multiple  mortal wounds against any Psyker unit in the 8th Edition of the game.
- The Skull of the Cacodominus, a relic from a period of the Black Templar's history known as the Howling, still echoes with the psychic screams of the monstrous creature that, when unleashed, can damage the minds of enemy psykers and cause multiple mortal wounds in the 8th Edition rules.
- The Witch Hunter: The Black Templars have an intense hatred for xenos witches and those rogue psykers who have rejected the Emperor and turned to the Dark Gods of Chaos in their search for power. The Black Templars often make the extermination of these witches a priority whenever they encounter them as the destruction of a single psyker could result in the salvation of an entire sector. In previous editions this hatred extended to both Imperial and enemy psykers, and in their current rules they're the only chapter that can't take Librarians as an HQ choice.
The Emperor's Champion, Sword of the Emperor
On the eve of battle, a praying Black Templar may be blessed with a vision from the Emperor, and subsequently anointed by the Chaplains as the Emperor's Champion in imitation of their chapter's founder. Clad in the Armour of Faith and wielding a sacred Black Sword, these holy warriors seek out and slay enemy commanders on the battlefield.
- BFS: Even by Space Marine standards, their Black Swords are huge, longer than the eight foot plus wielder is tall.
- Black Swords Are Better: Forged from jet-black solarite, the Black Swords wielded by the Emperor's Champions are masterpieces of the weaponsmith's art. Perfectly balanced and sharp enough to cleave through adamantium, only ten of these magnificent blades exist.
- The Chosen One: A battle-brother cannot choose to become the Emperor's Champion but is chosen by the divine will of the Emperor, and will serve the rest of his life hunting down the greatest of the His foes. How and why an Emperor's Champion is chosen is unknown, even to the most learned Chaplains of the Black Templars.
- Duel to the Death: The Champion's primary role is to find the strongest warrior in the enemy's force and challenge him to single combat. In-game an Emperor's Champion gains bonuses when fighting against enemy characters. The exact rules for these bonuses vary depending on the edition with the 8th Edition rules enhancing his characteristics and granting him re-rolls when facing such foes.
- Heroic Vow: In their original codices, the Champion could take one of four vows that gave him an advantage over a certain type of enemy, but often with a disadvantage of some sort. The 6th Edition Codex: Space Marines replaced this rule with special Stances to use in challenges but these were later removed in the 7th Edition codex.
- Legacy Character: There is no single Emperor's Champion with each of the Black Templars' Crusade Fleets being accompanied by one of these blessed warriors. Some other Chapters, particularly those of the Imperial Fists' lineage have been recorded fielding an Emperor's Champion on rare occasions.
- One-Handed Zweihänder: The Black Sword has such exquisite balance that the Champion is able to wield it just as easily with one hand as with two. While this doesn't have any in-game effect in the 8th Edition version of the rules, previous editions allowed a choice between using the Black Sword two-handed for extra power or one-handed with a bolt pistol for extra attacks.
- One-Hit Kill: The strength of the Emperor himself is said to flow through the veins of the Emperor's Champion, guiding his blows to his enemies' weak points. In past editions, the Black Sword gained the Instant Death rule on To Wound rolls of 6 while fighting in a challenge.
The Crimson Fists are a successor chapter of the Imperial Fists. The Chapter were named after Alexis Polux, their first Chapter Master, who was known as the Crimson Fist and their currant Chapter Master is Pedro Kantor. The Chapter's home world is the former agri world of Rynn's World and they recruit their initiates from the feral worlds of Blackwater, Trachan and Fordari II.
Originally founded from the youngest and most level-headed brothers of the old Imperial Fists Legion and inherited their Primarch's determination, selflessness and pragmatism. The Crimson Fists have served the Imperium valiantly for millennia and despite having been on the brink of annihilation a number of times they remain steadfast defenders of Humanity. One of the most famous and influential of the Chapter's engagements was the Rynn's World Incident where, while defending their home world from the invasion of Waaagh! Snagrod, a freak missile malfunction obliterated their fortress monastery nearly wiped out the Chapter itself. After many tough years of rebuilding the Chapter was almost back to full strength when the Great Rift opened and Rynn's World was once again invaded, this time by the daemonic forces of the Daemon Prince Rhaxor. On the brink of destruction once again, the Chapter was saved by the arrival of Roboute Guilliman and the Indomitus Crusade. Saved from extinction by an influx of Primaris Marines, Guilliman charged the Crimson Fists with the reconquest and defence of the Loki sector, a task the Chapter has perused with their typical efficiency and courage.
The Crimson Fists have been a prominent Space Marine Chapter for many years appearing on the covers of both the 1st and 2nd Edition Warhammer 40,000 rulebooks, as well as the cover of the 3rd Edition Codex: Space Marines. The Crimson Fists generally use the same rules as their parent Chapter, with more of a focus on Veteran Marines, but did receive a limited rules expansion during 7th Edition. In 8th Edition, Crimson Fists players have the option of using the Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics rule from Codex Adeptus Astartes: Space Marines or to use the official Crimson Fists rules published in the Index Astartes: Crimson Fists article from the January 2019 issue of White Dwarf. Both versions of the rules allow the player to take Pedro Kantor as a HQ choice.
- Arch-Enemy: Due to the Ork invasion of their home world and the serious losses they sustained, the Crimson Fists have an intense hatred of the greenskins. In game terms, this is represented by the Crimson Fists Warlord Trait "Rynn's World Veteran" giving the Warlord and his unit the Hatred: Orks and the Preferred Enemy: Orks special rules. If Kantor is the Warlord however then every model in the army has the Preferred Enemy: Orks special rule.
- Back from the Brink: Happens twice to the Chapter: the first time during the Rynn's World invasion, and again during the expansion of the Great Rift and the Daemon invasion that followed.
- Determinator: Much like their parent Chapter, the Crimson Fists are renowned for their stubbornness and inability to accept defeat. The near annihilation of the Chapter has tempered the more self-destructive aspects of this trait however and they have now tempered this stubbornness into a drive to rebuild regain their former glory.
- Elite Army: Since its founding, the Crimson Fists have fielded a 1st Company larger than that advised by the Codex Astartes and although they have yet to rebuild their Veteran Company back to its 128 man strength, the Crimson Fists are still able to field more Veteran squads than most Codex compliant Chapters.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: As part of a Crimson Fist's initiation they must kill a barb-dragon with their bare hands, thereby earning their right to paint their left gauntlet red as a Battle-Brother. Those that join the 1st Company are allowed to paint their right gauntlet red as well.
- Power Fist: The Fist of Vengeance is an ancient master-crafted power fist that was one of the few things recovered from the ruins of the Chapters shattered fortress monastery. In the 8th Edition rules, this revered weapon does more base Damage than a regular power fist while suffering from none of the drawbacks of such unwieldy weapons.
- Straight for the Commander: After being reinforced by the Indomitus Crusade, the Crimson Fists have made it their mission to free those Imperial worlds subjugated by xenos and heretic forces. In order to accomplish this task in the most efficient way possible the Chapter target the enemy commanders to destabilise the enemy forces. The 8th Edition Index Astartes rules published in the January 2019 White Dwarf represent this with the 'Slay the Tyrant' Crimson Fists Stratagem that gives a unit a bonus when targeting enemy Characters.
- The Strategist: One of the strengths of the Crimson Fists is that their training emphasises tactical flexibility so that they are capable of dealing with anything the enemy can throw at them.
- Token Minority: From their names and skin tone, the majority of (Blackwater-born) Crimson Fists are implied to be Spanish.
- Unfriendly Fire: It was one of their own planetary defence missiles malfunctioning and detonating the armoury that atomized Arx Tyrannus, the Crimson Fists' fortress monastery. The improbability of this event, and other circumstantial evidence, has led some to believe that this was a deliberate "mishap."
The Flesh Tearers are a Second Founding successor of the Blood Angels. Their Chapter Master at the time of Abaddons 13th Black Crusade is Gabriel Seth and their base of operations and recruiting world is the densely jungled death world of Cretacia.
The Flesh Tearers have been hit particularly hard by the gene-curse of Sanguinius often exhibiting mindless savagery far in excess of their brother Chapters, something that has placed them under near-constant Inquisitorial investigation for the past four millennia. Their reputation as near uncontrollable berserkers has led to few Imperial forces being willing to fight alongside the Chapter, and those that do rarely wish to repeat the experience. The high number of warriors falling to the Black Rage, coupled with the high casualty caused by their preferred close assault tactics, meant that the Chapter could barely field four full companies by the time they helped defend their parent Chapters home world from the ravages of Hive Fleet Leviathan. The introduction of Archmagos Cawl's Primaris Marines have given the Flesh Tearers some much needed reinforcements but without a cure for the Flaw, the Flesh Tearers could still be doomed to extinction in the long run.
The Flesh Tearers have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 game since its 1st Edition and have generally been treated as a more assault orientated version of their parent Chapter. The Chapter received an Index: Astartes article during 3rd Edition that expanded their background and included rules for using the Chapter on the battlefield, while 5th Edition saw the release of their Chapter Master as a special character. The Flesh Tearers received some additional rules in 7th Edition's Shield of Baal campaign books what were later collated into a digital codex supplement. In 8th Edition the Flesh Tearers are treated as Blood Angels that can be led by Gabriel Seth using the rules printed in Codex Adeptus Astartes: Blood Angels with additional rules published in the November 2019 sourcebook Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal.
- Ax-Crazy: The Flesh Tearers' savage fury in battle often makes them just as dangerous to their allies as to their foes.
- Battlecry: In a more literal sense than usual. Instead of a motto, the Flesh Tearers amplify their screams of rage as they charge into battle, which even their allies find profoundly disturbing.
- The Berserker: The increasing degradation of the Chapter's gene-seed and the resulting increase in instances of the Black Rage has led to the Flesh Tearers gaining a reputation for brutality and savagery. Even when in control of their senses, Flesh Tearer brothers will take every opportunity to charge towards the enemy as quickly as possible to rip them apart with chainswords or even their bare hands if needs be.
- Blood-Splattered Warrior: The traditional image that many allied Imperial forces have of a Flesh Tearer Marine is of a blood drenched warrior with a touch of madness in their eyes.
- Chainsaw Good:
- The Flesh Tearers make use of a wide variety of chain weaponry with chainswords and eviscerators being popular choices for the Chapter's battle-brothers. The Chapter also has at least two relic eviscerators in their armoury and there are reports of Flesh Tearer brothers making use of chainaxes, something relatively uncommon for Imperial Astartes of the forty-first millennium.
- The relic chainsword Severer of Threads has two chains of razor-sharp teeth that can rip almost any enemy to shreds in moments and, in the 8th Edition rules, has a chance of causing mortal wounds against its victims.
- Death World: Cretacia, the Flesh Tearers' home world, is a tropical jungle planet with climate and fauna very similar to prehistoric Earth, including giant dinosaur-like reptiles. Recruits typically have to hunt and kill one of these reptiles and bring back a trophy to be allowed to become a Neophyte.
- Horrifying the Horror: During the Third Armageddon War, the brutality of the Flesh Tearers terrified the Orks of the Fire Wastes so much that the usually battle-loving greenskins would retreat rather than face their fury.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: Due to their lack of manpower, all Flesh Tearers are trained to fight in as Tactical, Assault or Devastator squad, as well as vehicle crew, as needed. Due to the Chapter's susceptibility to the Black Rage however, their battle plans and tactics lean heavily toward using Assault Marines and de-emphasize Devastators.
- Not Enough to Bury: Not only is this a favourite combat tactic, Flesh Tearer Librarians in the Deathwatch RPG have a psychic power called Flensing that has the same effect, described as reducing foes to unrecognizable piles of bloody bones and shredded meat.
- Onrushing Army: Although the Flesh Tearers are as capable of executing as wide a range of tactics as any other Chapter, their vulnerability to the Black Rage often leads their tactics devolving into an all-out charge towards the enemy.
- Unstoppable Rage: They are a chapter of Blood Angels that have been hit particularly hard with the Black Rage, and they show it through tearing apart any enemy they are set upon, becoming living epitomes of Friend or Foe until everything around them is dead.
- Unfriendly Fire: Although they are often poorly documented, there are many reports from Imperial commanders that the Flesh Tearers have few qualms about cutting through anything between themselves and the enemy, including their own allies. One such incident lead to the brutal, bloody battle known as Honour's End on the Shrine World of Lucid Prime, when the Flesh Tearers continued their indiscriminate slaughter of civilians even after the Chaos forces had been driven away. This in turn outraged the Space Wolves who had fought alongside them, leading them to attack the Flesh Tearers. The resulting battle saw brother fighting brother, with the death of many hundreds of Loyalists on either side, and a lasting feud between the two chapters.
Noteworthy Chapters of the Dark Thirteenth Founding
- "By my will I deny thee, by my heart I spurn thee, by my hand I destroy thee; fiend of emptiness, to the void I cast thy blackened soul..."From the Liber Exorcismus
The Exorcists are one of the only confirmed Astartes Chapters to have been founded during the 13th founding. While their true parentage is unknown, it is generally accepted they are extremely close to the Grey Knights. Their homeworld is a Feral World named Banish.
The Exorcists' true origins are a mystery, but it is known that the Inquisition (probably the Ordo Malleus, specifically) began a secret experiment around the time of the Dark Founding to create a Space Marine with extreme resistance to both daemonic possession and chaos corruption, namely by having their prospective subjects briefly possessed and then having the daemon forcefully removed by an Inquisitor. The vast majority of the test subjects survived and became Marines, and quickly proved to be a fantastic force against Daemonic incursion, for they do not have a psychic signature that psykers (or more importantly, daemons) can detect.
The Exorcists were first mentioned in Warhammer 40,000: Compendium in a section regarding the Babab War, and were expanded upon in the Codices Codex: Armageddon and Codex: Eye of Terror, and finally ended up in a Space Marine codex in the 5th edition Codex: Space Marines, and returned again in 8th Edition as a chapter from the 13th founding. They have since been largely story based, being a staple of Babab War fluff such as Trial of the Mantis Warriors, and having individual marines and mentions in stories like The Death of Antagonis and are an available chapter for use in the Deathwatch RPG.
- Ancient Keeper: They tend to keep a bunch of Master Crafted and spooky weapons in their armories, as a result of them being some of the only Imperium-aligned beings who can properly wield them.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Members of the Exorcists willingly undergo daemonic possession, to better learn how to expel Warp creatures. Due to the high failure rate of this "highly unconventional" training method, the Exorcists are forced to maintain three full Scout companies.
- Combat Pragmatist: The Exorcists rarely stick to a combat strategy for any longer than they feel necessary, switching things up in order to get the drop on an enemy that by it's very nature is impossible to predict can be an advantage.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The original color scheme for the Exorcists was bright mustard yellow with a checker pattern trim for the pauldron.
- Demonic Possession: Required to become an Exorcist. You get possessed, and you either exorcise it yourself, or you get the emperor's peace from those who did.
- Demon Slaying: Being immune and invisible to chaotic-possession of any kind and knowing Chaos' tricks inside and out make them fantastic at this.
- Foil: Essentially loyalist-Word Bearers who can't be bothered by warp taint and know how to fight it effectively, unlike the Word Bearers who embrace it fully and try to spread Chaos' influence however they can.
- Gone Horribly Right: In a way, they're basically a sanctioned, common sense, and publicly known second version of the Grey Knights that arguably do what the Grey Knights do better than even the Inquisition could've imagined.
- Heroic Willpower: A central tenet of all Chapters, but the Exorcists take it to truly remarkable levels, as one of their final rites of initiation is being possessed by a daemon. The prospective Initiate must then exorcise himself using only his own willpower, lest he succumb to the possession and be executed by his brethren. While this does mean that even fewer Neophytes will survive their initiation, the upshot of this process is all Exorcists become intimately familiar with identifying and purging daemonic influence, and are themselves invisible, body and soul, to daemonic entities.
- Mysterious Past: A past placed under inquisitorial seal ensures it. The general idea is known, but the specifics are known only to the highest members of the Inquisition.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Their warcry.
- Praetorian Guard: Theirs is called the Enochian Guard, who are even better at daemon slaying than your average Exorcist.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: What you have to do in order to become an Exorcist, or you get a one way trip to a bolter round to the head.
- We Have Reserves: They have a two extra companies of neophytes due to the particularly gruesome realities of becoming an Exorcist.
- "You give up your humanity that the citizens of the Imperium may keep theirs. Pity or despise them, but never expect them to understand."Apothecary Bharan, Death Spectres
The Ghoul Stars are at the very "Northeastern"note edge of the Imperium of Man, and just at the edge of where the astronomican can realistically reach. It's also a place of extreme danger where Xenos the likes of which few have ever survived to talk about, to the point that they're described as "supernatural". But there are still humans out in the Ghoul Stars, and inhabited worlds. So a special chapter of space marines was created specifically to fight these horrors in the deep blackness of space; The Death Spectres. The Spectres' first Chapter Master, Corcaedus, was brought to the world Occuludus as a result of seeing a vision of the Emperor, and found deep underground the mysterious artifact known only as the Throne of Glass, and from there he interred himself to better help his comrades fight the mysterious evils of these cold, unknown worlds bathed in cold, unflinching light.
The Death Spectres were first mentioned in Codex: Eye of Terror, but received more comprehensive lore and rules in Codex: Space Marines 5th Edition, and have been present and accounted for in nearly every edition since as a successor chapter for the Raven Guard. Individual marines from this chapter have also seen representation in books such as the Deathwatch novel and related short stories, and short stories such as Flayed.
- Came Back Strong: The Death Spectres have both codified and weaponized this; Their aspirants must die and then return from death by willpower alone. Then they have to do this every time they get promoted.
- Creepy Cemetery: Occuludus is an entire planet that looks like this.
- Death-Activated Superpower: The Chapter Master of the Spectres is eternally enthroned on a special artifact known as the Throne of Glass that saps the life energy of the user, but vastly improves their psychic potential and is implied to essentially be a mini-Astronomican. Given how far out the Ghoul Stars are from the Imperial center, it's a tragic, but extremely vital part of their operations.
- Death Is Cheap: If you're an especially skilled Death Spectre, it's more of an inconvenience to becoming a lieutenant than anything.
- Eerie Pale Skinned Bald Guys: The flaws in their geneseed are essentially similar to their progenitors; the Raven Guard.
- In the End, You Are on Your Own: The Spectres are unusual for an Astartes chapter in that they don't (or more accurately, can't) rely on imperial supply lines thanks to how far out in space they are, and have to essentially control a mini-system of agri-worlds and breeding worlds just to keep their numbers up and to keep the humans they defend safe.
- Only Mostly Dead: Aspirants, Battle Brothers, and even the Chapter Master all go through varying degrees of this. The key is that they have to power out of it...with the exception of the Chapter Master, of course.
- Not So Different: Their organization may be superficially pretty different from the vanilla Raven Guard, but on the off-chance they happen to be called to a greater threat such as a Black Crusade, they typically fill the same combat roles as their progenitor chapter.
- Super Breeding Program: Revealed to have one in Flayed due to the extreme distance between the Imperium, and the Ghoul Stars' colonized worlds. Anyone found to be not-corrupted or of exceptional skill, bravery or simple survival skill on worlds being torn asunder will be swiftly "saved" to these large Agri-Worlds to live out the rest of their days in relative peace.
Noteworthy Chapters of the Cursed Twenty-First Founding
On several occasions, Imperial forces facing certain death have been rescued by these mysterious Space Marines. Shrouded in spectral flames, their black armor covered with macabre imagery, the so-called Legion of the Damned appears as if from nowhere to turn the tide of battle. Fighting in grim silence and with ruthless efficiency, once the threat is neutralized the Legionnaires vanish as quickly as they came, leaving naught but slain foes and astonished Imperial survivors.
It is widely believed that the Legion of the Damned could be, in fact, the remnants of the Fire Hawks chapter, lost in the Warp after the Badab War, which fundamentally transformed the entire chapter's surviving Marines into the otherworldly daemon-like killing machines they are now. This makes them a Twenty-First Founding Ultramarines successor chapter and Zhoros and Cousteau XI (both destroyed) would be their home worlds. Other explanations exist, of course, and Depending on the Writer have been used in novels and supplements. The Fire Hawks were notorious for refusing to offer their aid if they felt that a situation was untenable; the Legion of the Damned only appears in the most hopeless of last stands...
The Legion of the Damned have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 game, in one form or another, since 1st Edition and have received rules in almost every edition since. Generally the Legion only appear as a single special unit in the Space Marine army lists but in 2004 White Dwarf published trial Chapter Approved rules for using a full army of the Legion of the Damned in 3rd Edition, while 6th Edition saw the release of a digital only codex with limited content. The 8th Edition rules for the Legion of the Damned are included in the Index: Imperium 1 book released in June 2017.
- Abnormal Ammo: The Legion's bolters shoot flaming projectiles that little (if anything) is proof against. In-game, their shooting attacks remove cover bonuses.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Legion of the Damned only ever appear when all seems lost and the forces of the Imperium are facing their darkest hour. When they do appear, victory often follows, even if few of the Imperial forces they assist survive the victory.
- Bottomless Magazines: No matter how intense or prolonged the fighting, the Legion of the Damned have never been witnessed reloading their bolters.
- Dark Is Not Evil: While some members of the Inquisition are suspicious of their appearance and abilities, the Legion of the Damned have never taken any action that would endanger the Imperium and are one of the most powerful groups of loyalists in spite of their few numbers.
- Early Installment Weirdness: When introduced during 1st Edition, the Legion of the Damned were portrayed as ordinary Marines with a mysterious Warp sicknesses that numbed their bodies and strengthened their armour. All subsequent versions of their backgroundnote have cemented them as incorporeal, wraithlike beings.
- Flying Dutchman: Trapped in hyperspace for about a hundred years and cursed with some Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane warp disease/curse, the last handful of survivors wander the galaxy searching for other Marines, coming to their aid in their hour of need, vanishing as mysteriously and silently as they came, never straying from their dedication to the Emperor even as their bodies and minds slowly break down.
- Good Counterpart: To the Thousand Sons, being Warp-tainted Astartes using flaming munitions, but still loyal to the Imperium. In-game both have very strong invulnerable saves and powerful ranged attacks, the Thousand Sons ignoring most armor while the Legion's ignore cover.
- Logical Weakness: Being Warp-based entities, they are logically vulnerable to many of the same weapons and devices that counter Chaos Daemons. Most notably, during the Fall of Cadia, the activation of the Necron pylons on the planet banished Legion Marines as easily as it did the hordes of Chaos daemons.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Exactly who the Legion are or what they have become is a mystery. Some say that they're the long-lost Fire Hawks chapter, riddled with a warp mutation that's made them far more powerful than normal Astartes but is also slowly killing them. Some say that they're the ghosts of long-dead Space Marines coming back to fight for the Imperium forever more. One particularly disturbing theory among the Eldar is that the Legion are not even Astartes at all, but are effectively the Imperium's equivalent to Chaos Daemons, based on the desires of those present on the battlefields for the Space Marines to come and save them. Another is that they are some chapter (maybe the Fire Hawks) who have found a constant stream in the Warp, allowing them to go back to the sites of Imperial defeats and turn the tide to change the course of history - quite tellingly, records of Legion sightings stretch back to before the Fire Hawks were ever declared lost.
- Mysterious Protector: While the ultimate motives of the Legion of the Damned may be unknown, the fact that they fight to protect the Imperium in general, and the Adeptus Astartes in particular, is beyond doubt.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: The ethereal nature of the Legion of the Damned makes them incredibly difficult to destroy as their enemies' attacks pass through their bodies without causing any harm. In-game, they have a 3+ invulnerable save in addition to their 3+ armor save.
- Ominous Floating Castle: There has been at least one report of a mysterious Star Fort, of a comparable size to the Rock, operating in the same area as the Legion of the Damned. The Star Fort is said to be heavily weathered as if it had spent centuries adrift in the Warp and is wreathed in spectral flame. Some Imperial scholars have speculated that this Star Fort may be the Rapturous Rex, the massive mobile fortress monastery of the Fire Hawks that was lost in the Warp along with the rest of the ill-fated Chapter.
- Playing with Fire: Some Damned Legionaries have been witnessed exerting control over the ethereal flames that cover their bodies, smiting their foes with a fiery holocaust.
- Suicide Attack: The use of their flames to attack their enemies appears to be a weapon of last resort for the Legion of the Damned as those recorded using this ability succumb to their own flame and disappear from reality.
- The Voiceless: There have been no recorded instances of a Damned Legionary verbally communicating with anyone. During battle, the whole Chapter fights in complete, eerie silence without a single cry of rage, triumph or pain.
- Wreathed in Flames: Members of the Legion of the Damned and their equipment appear to burn with ghostly flames that blaze bright as they slay the enemies of the Emperor.
- Your Soul Is Mine: The Animum Malorium is a mysterious artefact carried by some Legion of the Damned Sergeants. This powerful relic, that often takes the form of a sinister skull, appears to be able to consume the soul from an enemy to strengthen the bearer and his comrades.
The Black Dragons are a fleet-based Chapter. As with many Cursed Founding Chapters, it is unknown which Chapter their gene-seed originated from, but the Magos Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus believe that they are a successor of the Salamanders.
Like many chapters of the Cursed Founding, the Black Dragons' gene-seed is believed to have been heavily modified at their founding and they have since developed flaws in their genetic structure. In their case, their Ossmodula (the organ that regulates bone growth) has mutated so that bony protrusions sprout from various parts of their bodies. Investigations into the chapter have failed to expose any taint of Chaos, but their obvious physical mutations has led to great suspicion amongst other Imperial forces and push the tolerance of the Inquisition to its limit.
The Black Dragons were introduced during the 3rd Edition of Warhammer 40,000 where they were they appeared in the White Dwarf Index: Astartes article on the Cursed Founding and received a mentioned in the background material for the Third War of Armageddon Worldwide Campaign. The Chapter also received trial Chapter Approved rules during 3rd Edition. The 8th Edition Codex Adeptus Astartes: Space Marines includes a brief mention of the Chapter in the background section but in the rules they are treated as regular Space Marines.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Black Dragon veterans, known as Dragon Claws, coat their bone outgrowths with adamantium to increase their combat effectiveness.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: The Black Dragons chapter have a mutation in their Ossmodulanote that commonly causes this. They're also (usually) retractable. What do they do with these blades? Sheath them in Adamantium of course. It can also end up making them a Horned Humanoid.
- Blessed with Suck: Some Black Dragons consider their mutated Ossmodula a sign of corruption and are filled with self-loathing despite the increase in their combat power. Many Imperial forces also believe that the Black Dragons are tainted, and several (especially the Dark Angels and Marines Malevolent) refuse to have anything to do with them. Some within the Inquisition would like to see the Black Dragons destroyed despite their history of loyalty to the Imperium.
- Demoted to Extra: The Black Dragons haven't received official rules since 3rd Edition, but they still appear in the background and have a book in the Space Marine Battles series by Black Library. A Black Dragon is also a noteworthy side character in Nick Kyme's Salamanders trilogy.
- Horned Humanoid: A common symptom of the Black Dragon's genetic defect is horns sprouting from their skull. They are often depicted with a single horn growing from the forehead that has been shaped and sharpened in the same manner as their arm blades.
- I Have No Son!: While rumored to be a successor to the Salamanders, their mutations have garnered lots of suspicion from their supposed parent chapter, even when they adopted one of the Dragons as a Scout.
A chapter of the Cursed Twenty-First Founding, the Lamenters are successors of the Blood Angels. A fleet-based Chapter, the flag ship of the Lamenters is the Mater Lachrymarum and they recruit from any feudal worlds they come across. Their Chapter Master at the end of the 41st Millennium is thought to be Malakim Phoros but rumours persist that he has been slain or has fallen to the Black Rage.
The Lamenters are thought by some to be an experiment by the Adeptus Mechanicus to remove the gene-curse of their parent chapter, and for the most part it appeared to have been successful. Unfortunately, the Lamenters are seemingly cursed by fate or by the Ruinous Powers with ill-luck and have suffered more unfortunate campaigns, accidents and disastrous tactical decisions than any other Chapter in the Imperium. The Chapter have been soundly defeated, almost wiped out, exiled, put on trial, distrusted, outright murdered, and deserted by their allies, and yet they still remain both loyal to the Emperor and to the people of the Imperium, who they will defend down to the last Marine. Towards the end of the 41st Millennium, Blood Angels made numerous attempts to contact the Chapter in an attempt to investigate their apparent resistance to the Red Thirst but were unsuccessful, and the Chapter were the only Successor of the 9th Legion to not send relief forces to take part in the defence of Baal from Hive Fleet Leviathan. Despite this, the Chapter have survived their most recent string of misfortunes and have been reinforced with Primaris Marines.
The Lamenters have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe since its 1st Editionnote but didn't receive any specific rules until 3rd Edition when they received trial rules as part of the Cursed Founding Chapter Approved White Dwarf articles that were later reprinted in the Chapter Approved 2004 supplement. During 5th Edition Games Workshop's Forge World department released a pair of books focusing on the Badab War that included rules for using the Lamenters and their Chapter Master Malakim Phoros. In 8th Edition the Lamenters are counted as regular Blood Angels successors using the rules printed in Codex Adeptus Astartes: Blood Angels and Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal, while the Forge World rules for Chapter Master Phoros can be found in Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes.
- Artifact of Doom: One relic of the Lamenters Chapternote is the power spear Victory's Price. The spear has ensured many victories for the chapter, but more often than not the Marine chosen to wield Victory's Price will end up dead. Even Space Marines find themselves mildly uneasy at the prospect that wielding this mighty weapon may mean their next battle is their last.
- Being Good Sucks: The Lamenters have often made a point of defending innocent civilians even when it wouldn't be in their best interest to do so, and have gone above and beyond the call of duty to free innocent civilians if they're enslaved. None of this has improved the Chapter's dark reputation with their peers or the general population of the Imperium.
- Born Unlucky: If there is such thing as a curse for the chapter, this is undoubtedly it. They have had more misfortune, betrayal, and loss than many chapters could possibly have before either finally having their spirits broken or just being plain destroyed.
- Cavalry Refusal: While defending the world of Corillia during the 9th Black Crusade, the Lamenters suffered terrible casualties when the highly superstitious Mortifactors Chapter refused to support the notoriously unlucky Chapter and withdrew from the warzone. The Lamenters were forced to fight on for the next six weeks before other another relief force arrived to defeat the Black Legion forces.
- Cosmic Plaything: The Lamenters seemed to be the only of the Cursed Founding chapters to escape a crippling defect, and despite being a Blood Angels successor appeared immune to the Flaw. Then they suffered 80% losses in their first campaign when their allies abandoned them out of superstitious fear, got lost in the Warp for two hundred years, were dragged onto the wrong side of a civil war, and had to fight Hive Fleet Kraken as penance. By the time the Blood Angels tracked them down, the Lamenters were reduced to three companies and reeling from the sudden onset of the Red Thirst and Black Rage. To their credit, the Lamenters have maintained their loyalty to the Imperium despite their many trials, and view their suffering as the noble result of trying to do good in a universe that seems to despise them.
- Determinator: The Lamenters have been cursed with the worse circumstances possible for a Space Marine Chapter to be in at nearly every turn and yet even when horribly outgunned, outmanned, and even when no reinforcements can or even will answer to them, they continue to fight on for the people of the Imperium.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The original background for the Lamenters stated that the reason they didn't suffer from the Black Rage, despite being of the lineage of Sanguinius, was because their gene-seed had been spliced with that of the Dark Angels. It was this mixture of gene-seeds that was thought to have resulted in the Chapter's curse but later background material has since dropped this theory.
- Escaped from Hell: Immediately after their involvement in the 9th Black Crusade, the few remaining Lamenters were thought lost when their fleet was struck by a freak Warp Storm. It took the Chapter two centuries to fight their way through the denizens of the Warp before they were able to make it back to the Material Universe.
- Heroic Resolve: It is rumoured that Malakim Phoros, the Lamenters' missing Chapter Master, has fallen to the Black Rage but has managed to keep his sanity through willpower alone.
- Ideal Hero: The closest possible to his while living in the Warhammer 40000 universe. The Lamenters are selfless and will go out of their way to protect and save civilians even at the cost of their own lives, and share a friendly nature to those that they help fight for while maintaning a humble attitude. And all of this despite their many failures and how practically nobody gives them the proper respect in-universe.
- Keep the Reward: The Ultramarines were so impressed with the performance of the Lamenters during the Liberation of Slaughterhouse III that Marneus Calgar wanted to present them an Iron Halo in recognition of their efforts. The Lamenters however felt that they deserved no such reward due to how few of the 3 million Ork prisoners that they liberated survived.
- Knight Errant: As a fleet-based chapter, the Lamenters have used their mobility to seek out the Imperium's foes and have engaged in numerous crusades, both self-imposed and as punishment for transgressions, against the enemies of the Emperor.
- Knight In Sour Armor: Many battle-brothers are noted as having some aura of depression about them, whether because of something wrong in their gene-seed or directly because of all the terrible luck the Lamenters have.
- Last Stand: It is thought that the Lamenters have taken part in more last stands and hopeless campaigns than any other Chapter in Imperial history.
- Meaningful Name: A Lamenter is someone who expresses grief or sorrow. Upon restoring the Chapter Banner, the Sisters Pronatus who helped repair it openly wept for the chapter's misfortune. This Banner became known as the Banner of Tears
- The Pollyanna: Despite their cursed nature and string of poor luck, the Lamenters still cling strongly to Sanguinius' idealism.
- Spanner in the Works: During the Corinth Crusade, the Lamenters destruction of the Ork Mining World of Slaughterhouse III meant that the Orks' WAAAGH!! effort was set back years and led to infighting that eventually led to the end of the Orks' control of the star system.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: As of the 8th Edition Blood Angels codex they have not only been confirmed to have survived their penitent crusade, but have now been reinforced with Primaris marines, giving them a fighting chance at making a comeback.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: During the Liberation of Slaughterhouse III, the Lamenters soundly defeated the Ork forces and saved three million slaves all on their own. This success didn't last long however as Ork reinforcements arrived and the former slaves themselves requested that the Lamenters kill them so that they could die free rather than become pawns of the greenskins once again. The resulting destruction of Slaughterhouse III created one of the largest planetary tombs in Imperial history, and of the millions of slaves originally freed by the Chapter, barely a tenth made it off planet on the evacuation ships.
The Minotaurs are officially a chapter of the Cursed Twenty-First Founding but some Imperial scholars question whether the chapter active in the 41st Millennium is the same one founded in the 36th Millennium. They are a fleet-based chapter and their Chapter Master is Asterion Moloc.
After their founding, the Minotaurs quickly gained a reputation for ferocity, with some Imperial Commanders who fought alongside them considering them little more than a roving band of barely sane murderers and psychopaths. The chapter was also known to have suffered from corruption of their gene-seed and by the 38th Millennium they had disappeared from Imperial records. The chapter that reappeared in the early 41st Millennium still had a reputation for fury on the battlefield, but this was now tempered by more orthodox tactics and organisation. The chapter has also been noted to respond quickly to the orders of the High Lords of Terra, especially when called to bring renegade Space Marine chapters to account. This has led to the chapter having a shaky relationship with other Astartes and the Inquisition.
The Minotaurs have been a part of the lore for the Badab War since the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000. The 21st Founding Minotaurs received trial Chapter Approved rules, alongside some of their fellow Cursed Founding Chapters, in White Dwarf during the game's 3rd Edition. The 41st Millennium Minotaurs received rules from Games Workshop's Forge World department in their 5th Edition Badab War books. In 8th Edition the Minotaurs are counted as regular Space Marines using the rules printed in Codex: Space Marines while the Forge World rules for their Badab War era characters can be found in Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes.
- Ancient Grome: The visual theme of the 41st Millennium era Minotaurs is strongly based on that of Ancient Greece. The bronze power armour of the Chapter imitates that of the Greek Hoplites while their Chapter Master is named after a mythological king of Crete for example.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Asterion Moloch is the Chapter Master of the Minotaurs, and his combat skills show this. In a case of Gameplay and Story Integration, Moloch can basically 1v1 ANY named Chapter Master and easily win. The closest match in the entire list is Marneus Calgar, since Calgar can give himself Iron Resolve, in which case the fight ends in a Mutual Kill.
- Ax-Crazy: The characterization of the 38th Millennium era Minotaurs was that of barely controllable madmen. Since their return, this aspect of their character has been downplayed, but they are still notorious for their brutality in combat, particularly when facing other Astartes forces.
- The Dragon: Seemingly to the High Lords of Terra. Having the very best wargear, being dispatched to deal with troublesome chapters, and even the Inquisition being unable to dig up much dirt on them.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: The Badab War books from Forge World paints them in this light, as their brutality and general jerkassery manages to ostracize themselves from their allies.
- Good Is Not Nice: While they are theoretically on the side of mankind, the Minotaurs are extremely pragmatic, to the point of insulting (and actively murdering) other Space Marine chapters and using the Imperial Guard and Navy as meat shields. They're also believed to be at the beck and call of the High Lords of Terra, who aren't exactly known for being totally level-headed about dealing with threats.
- Internal Affairs: The Minotaurs specialize in fighting other Space Marines, and are rumored to have been created in secret as the High Lords of Terra's private hit squad. In-game, any Minotaur primary detachment with Asterion Moloc as their HQ (and why would it not?) has the Preferred Enemy: Space Marines special rule.note
- Jerkass: The Minotaurs don't respect anyone other than the God-Emperor and the High Lords of Terra, often going out of their way to antagonise other Imperial forces.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: The Minotaurs have a tendency to seize equipment from those Astartes forces they fight against as spoils of war. This has gotten them in trouble on more than one occasion.
- Mix-and-Match Weapon: The Crozius Arkanos is a unique Crozius Arcanum wielded by Reclusiarch Ivanus Enkomi that incorporates an auxiliary assault launcher. The weapon was created from the shattered remains of Enkomi's Crozius after the Battle of Gathetris.
- Mouth of Sauron: Reclusiarch Ivanus Enkomi often acts as Asterion Moloc's mouthpiece and representative when dealing with other chapters due to the Chapter Master's lack of patience for cooperation and strategic planning.
- Mysterious Past: Their gene-seed tithes are locked away, no one is sure who their progenitors are. Given their tendencies to absolutely annihilate whatever is in their way it's certainly possible for them be successors to the World Eaters, but what little we do know about their gene-seed hints at them being derived from a multitude of Chapters. This would certainly make sense considering their connections with the High Lords, but it doesn't make much sense since they are pretty much free of any mutations. It could be argued that the Minotaurs are actually descended from Iron Warrior gene seed; their chapter tactics are the same as the Iron Warriors Legiones Astartes rules, both are known for their ferocity in assault and disregard for casualties.
- Reformed, but Not Tamed: While they aren't the crazed berserkers that they were originally, the Minotaurs are still renowned for their brutality and love of combat.
- Team Killer: The Minotaurs have gained a reputation for this where other Space Marines are concerned, something that has alienated a number of their fellow Chapters. The Ultramarines and their successor chapters especially despise the Minotaurs because of their near-total destruction of the Inceptors chapter and pillaging of their Chapter relics.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: While the Minotaurs are strict followers of the Codex Astartes, they're almost never seen as small groups or even individual companies. Every time they're deployed its always been at full Chapter strength, they fight in only one war zone at a time with the entire chapter fighting together. Yes, the ENTIRE chapter.
- Unexplained Recovery: As well as their mysterious return to action in the 41st Millennium, after a two-thousand-year absence from Imperial records, the Minotaurs have been noted to be able to recover from catastrophic losses at a rate far in excess of what should be possible for an Astartes Chapter.
- Zerg Rush: While they may closely follow the Codex when it comes to organisation, the Minotaurs' preferred tactics differ considerably. The Chapter prefers to operate as a single force, overwhelming their enemies with numbers and attritional warfare.
Noteworthy Chapters of Unknown Founding
A Chapter of unknown origin, the Carcharodons' origins are shrouded in myth and allegory. Having remained relatively obscure for much of their history, they have recently risen to prominence following the Badab War. They were formerly fleet-based, but have since settled on Ootheca.
- Aloof Ally: Owing to their contrasting modes of extreme still patience and equally extreme violence of action, they have a habit of coming to the rescue of other Imperial forces just in the nick of time (when they had, in fact, been clandestinely observing the situation for some time), then departing just as quickly with no explanation. If contacted by those they fight beside, they only ever respond tersely in old dialects of High Gothic, usually giving polite but firmly worded requests for supplies.
- Antiquated Linguistics: When they talk to other Imperials, they stick to older, antiquated variants of High Gothic.
- The Berserker: They're so notorious for being such in battle that their chapter specific rules gives every one of their models Fear and Rage after destroying a unit. It's even stated in the lore that their specialty is scorched earth shock assaults.
- Facial Horror: Tyberos the Red Wake, the First Captain of the Carcharodons, has a horrifically scared corpse-white face, with half his skull exposed in a bloodless grimace. The First Captain's soulless, black eyes add to his highly disturbing visage.
- Mysterious Past: Their origins aren't well-understood — their Founding and Legion of origin are entirely unknown, to begin with. There are no official records of their founding, their own accounts of their past are highly mythologized and allegorical and as far as most can tell they just showed up one day out of the galactic edge to take part in the Badab War. In their earliest mentions they're posited in-universe to be Raven Guard-descended, but later publications indicate they might also be Night Lords or World Eaters-descended.note
- Space Romans: They're based on Pacific islanders. They sport facial tattoos reminiscent of those found in Pacific cultures, and the transfer sheet that Forge World sold for them additionally has symbols that mirror these tattoos. Red Tithe takes this further with the Carcharodon Captain and Librarian greet each other with hongi.
- Threatening Shark: They file their teeth specifically to invoke the image of the aquatic predators. Their chapter symbol is also a shark, and they tend to be depicted with a lot of shark imagery. Fittingly, they're also feared berserkers known for their ruthlessness and brutal tactics.
One last blade, forged in defiance of fate,
Let them be my legacy to the galaxy I conquered,
And my final gift to the species I failed.
Although officially a Second Founding Chapter, the Grey Knights were actually founded by Malcador the Sigillite in great secrecy during the later stages of the Horus Heresy. Their Primarch is officially considered to be the Emperor. Their current Supreme Grand Master is Kaldor Draigo and their home world is Titan.
Daemon slayers extraordinaire and close allies of the Ordo Malleus, the Grey Knights are one of the most elite forces in the Imperium although few are allowed to know of their existence. Not only is each warrior trained to the highest possible standard, each is also a potent psyker able to banish their daemonic foes back into the warp with the power of their mind alone. Armed and armoured with masterfully crafted and sanctified equipment, created on their own dedicated Forge World, the Grey Knights may be few in number but they are nonetheless the Imperium's greatest weapon against the forces of the Dark Gods.
The Grey Knights began life in 1st and 2nd Edition Warhammer 40,000 as a single unit of Terminators that could be taken as allies to other Imperial forces. 3rd Edition saw the Chapter included, alongside the forces of the Inquisition, in Codex: Daemonhunters before receiving their first solo codex sourcebook during 5th Edition. During 7th Edition, the Grey Knights received their second codex while Codex: Imperial Agents also included a special detachment for using the Grey Knights as allies with other Armies of the Imperium. The 8th Edition Codex Adeptus Astartes: Grey Knights was released in August 2017 while additional rules were included in the January 2020 supplement Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned.
For more about these ultimate daemonhunters, see Grey Knights.
- Abnormal Ammo: The psilencers used by some Grey Knights are arcane firearms that fire the condensed and amplified psychic energy of the wielder instead of regular ammunition.
- Arm Cannon: Grey Knights typically wear wrist-mounted Storm Bolters so that they can wield their Nemesis Force Weapons with both hands.
- Amplifier Artifact: The Sanctic Shardnote is a purified crystal that can boost the powers of any psyker that holds it, making it far easier to pass their Psychic tests to use a power during a game.
- Bait-and-Switch: One piece of background information in the 7th Edition codex sees a Grey Knight force encounter some Adepta Sororitas that had survived on a planet invaded by daemons. Rather than retelling one of the most infamous pieces of background from the previous codex where they start slaughtering the Sisters and paint their armour with their blood, the Grey Knights are saved by the Sororitas, who earn a proper heroic death.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Nemesis doomglaives are rare psychically attuned blades attached to the arm of a Doomglaive-pattern Dreadnought that allow the machine's pilot to utilise his psychic abilities in combat as he did when fighting amongst the ranks of the living. In the 6th and 7th Edition version of the rules, a Doomglaive Dreadnought could use this weapon to make scything attacks against multiple enemies whilst in the 8th Edition rules they almost as powerful as the Nemesis Greatswords wielded by the Chapter's Dreadknights.
- Blade on a Stick: The Nemesis Force Halberd, which was the signature weapon of the chapter until other types of Nemesis weapons were introduced during 3rd Edition.
- Bling of War: The Aegis-pattern power and Terminator armour used by the Grey Knights is unique to the Chapter. Crafted to the highest standards and coloured in shining silver (representing the purity of the Chapter), each suit is a relic that has often been worn by many warriors of the centuries and is intricately decorated with icons, prayers, protective wards and other ritually consecrated symbols that provide greater protection from daemonic energies.
- Cannon Fodder: The 6th Brotherhood of the Grey Knights, known as The Rapiers, believe in swift surgical strikes by small specialist squads. As such, the Brotherhood will deploy waves of disposable Servitors to tie-up and bog down enemy forces so that their elite squads can strike at the most crucial targets.
- Cool Helmet: One distinguishing feature of the Grey Knights' armour is their use of the older Crusader-style helms for both their power and Terminator armour. These helmets strongly resemble late-style knightly helmets.
- A Commander Is You: Elitist/Brute/Technical! Elite even by Astartes standards, excellent in melee or at range, well-protected, and each and every unit is a psyker, allowing you to rival even the Eldar in the psychic phase. The only issue is you pay a premium for each and every model you field.
- Deflector Shields: In order to protect the otherwise exposed pilot, Nemesis Dreadknights are fitted with a powerful force shield that gives the Dreadknight an invulnerable save. In 8th Edition this save is enhanced by the addition of an Iron Halo when the Dreadknight is piloted by a Grand Master.
- Demon Slaying: The Grey Knights were founded by the Emperor for the sole purpose of defeating the Daemonic servants of the Dark Gods.
- Due to the Dead: The Cuirass of Sacrifice is a relic suit of Terminator armour that has had its interior inscribed with the names of those organisations that the Grey Knights have been forced to destroy in order to uphold the secrecy of their mission. The suit is intended to remind their wearer of the sacrifices necessary to fight against the forces of Chaos.
- Dual Wielding: Nemesis Force Falchions are short and light force weapons carried in pairs by some Grey Knights. A talented wielder is able to use these blades to strike far quicker than he would be able to with a larger force weapon.
- Fire Purifies: The incinerators flamers used by the Grey Knights enhance the widely held belief in the purifying effects of fire with the addition of sacred oils to its already highly blessed fuel to make them especially dangerous to the Chapter's daemonic enemies. Some editions of the rules represented this by giving incinerators bonuses such as the ability to ignore the invulnerable saves of daemonic creatures.
- Godzilla Threshold: With the opening of the Great Rift, daemonic hosts rampaging across the galaxy and the return of the Daemon Primarchs, the highest ranked members of the Grey Knights are coming to believe that the Threshold has been crossed and are considering unleashing the Chapter's ultimate sanction, the mysterious Terminus Decree.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Due to the official policy of total secrecy enforced by the Inquisition where daemonic incursions are concerned, the greatest victories of the Grey Knights will never be known to the Imperium's general population.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
- In order to turn them into the greatest daemon hunters of the Imperium, the Grey Knights undergo a combination of extremely harsh psychic conditioning and rigorous training, making them all but untouchable by Chaotic influence.
- The Purifiers turns this Up to Eleven. Chosen for their exceptional psychic ability, the Purifiers are able to weaponize their mental purity into holy fire that burns their enemies. The Purifiers are also the only ones with the mental fortitude to protect the greatest secrets and corrupted artefacts collected by the Grey Knights.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Imperial Guard forces that fight alongside Grey Knights are usually terminated (or simply memory-wiped, Depending on the Writer), partly to preserve the secrecy of the Grey Knights' existence and partly because said forces are quite likely to have been exposed to Warp taint.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia:
- Grey Knight aspirants are usually mind-wiped as the last part of their indoctrination, to better preserve them against potential daemonic corruption, as well as to strengthen their loyalty and faith.
- Space Marines who fight alongside Grey Knights have their memories of the encounter(s) erased to preserve the secrecy of the Grey Knights' existence.
- Magic Knight: Every single one of these Demon Slaying Space Marines (but even more stringently selected and trained) are obviously all highly formidable fighters, but to be selected as one also requires you to be a capable-enough psyker to channel psychic power into a Grey Knight's Nemesis Force Weapon.
- Magic Staff: The Nemesis warding stave is a defensive form of Nemesis force weapon. As with other forms of Nemesis weapon, the warding stave is a powerful force weapon that allows a Grey Knight to channel their psychic might into their attacks, but it can also be used to create a powerful force shield to defend the bearer. In the 8th Edition rules this is represented by the wielder of a Nemesis warding stave receiving a boosted invulnerable save in close combat.
- Magical Library: The Sanctum Sanctorum within the Grey Knight's fortress monastery on Titan holds the Imperium's most comprehensive collection of information on psychic abilities, while its deepest chambers, known as the Librarium Daemonica, hold records of the daemonic threat facing humanity. Containing records and arcane lore gathered across millennia of the Chapter's existence, as well as information from the Emperor's own, long experience with the subject, the knowledge stored within the Sanctum Sanctorum would prove disastrous if it were to fall into the wrong hands and the library is considered to be the most heavily defended place in the Imperium outside of the Emperor's Palace itself.
- Meaningful Name: In-universe, the names chosen for each Grey Knight is a fragment of lore that acts in opposition to the true name of a particular daemon so that merely being in the presence of the Grey Knight will cause the daemon unspeakable agony.
- Mercy Kill: The Grey Knights' justification for purging survivors of a daemonic incursion is that it is better to give them a swift, clean death than potentially let them become corrupted by their exposure to Chaos and suffer a much more horrific fate.
- Meta Mecha: The Nemesis Dreadknight is an open-bodied mecha piloted by a Grey Knight in a manner similar to the powerloader from Aliens or the mecha from The Matrix Revolutions. It packs an enormous amount of firepower and is intended to fight Greater Daemons.
- Mix-and-Match Weapon: The Nemesis Force Halberds used by the Grey Knights during the 1st and 2nd Editions of the game incorporated a storm bolter into the hilt of the weapon. This secondary weapon was moved to the Grey Knight's wrist when they were revamped for 3rd Edition.
- Named Weapon:
- The Fury of Demos is said to be one of the finest storm bolters ever created by the Adeptus Mechanicus with a range, accuracy, rate of fire and reliability far greater than that of its lesser brethren.
- The Soul Glaive was the Nemesis Force Halberd of the 13th Supreme Grand Master of the Grey Knights, Sylas Kalthorne. Upon his death, Kalthornes soul left such a strong imprint on the weapon that subsequent wielders are able to draw upon the psychic might of the former Supreme Grand Master to boost their own psychic abilities.
- Number of the Beast: The Grey Knights are chapter 666 (heavily implied to be a joke by their founder), and initiates go through the 666 Rites of Detestation in order to completely ward their minds and souls against Chaos corruption.
- The Paladin: The Grey Knights put a grimdark spin on the concept of the ultimate holy warrior. The sole purpose of the Grey Knights is to fight the forces of the setting's Hell, but their tactics include acts like mass murder of people who may have come into contact with Chaos corruption simply by fighting alongside them.
- Playing with Fire: The purity and psychic abilities of the elite Pruifers typically manifests as a cleansing blue flame capable of incinerating the body and soul of any evil creature caught in the conflagration. This ability is represented in the 8th Edition of the game by the 'Purifying Flame' Ability that increases the damage done by the Purifier's Smite psychic power but reduces its range.
- Real After All: The battle-brothers of some Chapters believe that the Grey Knights are nothing but a myth or that they are merely a standard non-Codex compliant Chapter, if they have heard of them at all. Only the Inquisition and Chapter Masters have been allowed to know of the Grey Knights' existence.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Along with the Daemons and profane artefacts sealed within the Chambers of Purity on Titan is a mysterious and powerful evil that even the Emperor at the height of His power couldn't destroy.
- Seers: In order to arrive at the site of a daemonic incursion in time to deal with threat, the Grey Knights have a body of specialist psykers known as Prognosticars who use their abilities to predict the location and severity of such incidents.
- Silver Bullet: As well as being inscribed with runes of banishment and charged with psychic energy, the rare and valuable bolt rounds fired by psycannons are tipped with silver to further enhance their effectiveness against daemons.
- Super Prototype: The Destroyer of Crys'yllix was the first Nemesis Daemon hammer forged and is still the most powerful of its kind. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the hammer a higher Damage characteristic than other Nemesis Daemon hammers.
- Taking You with Me: Grey Knight Brotherhood Champions will fight to the last to bring down their enemies, refusing to fall to mortal wounds until they have defeated their foe. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'Heroic Sacrifice' ability that allows a Brotherhood Champion to fight immediately after being reduced to 0 Wounds.
- Teleportation: The Grey Knights make greater use of teleportation technology than any other Imperial organisation. The teleporter arrays installed on the Grey Knights' Strike Cruisers are also far more advanced than those used by the rest of the Imperium, while the Chapter's Interceptor Squads utilize small, man portable teleporters to improve their manoeuvrability on the battlefield.
- Training from Hell: Due to the extreme danger of the foes that they face and the highly psychic nature of the recruits, the talent and purity of those who would become Grey Knights is of the highest importance. The trials and training that Grey Knights undergo would break a normal Marine with only one in a million recruits being deemed strong enough to succeed. For context, this means to produce a single Grey Knight, there is a wastage rate of recruits sufficient to fill a thousand Space Marine chapters (equal to their entire current galactic strength). With psykers, to boot.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The Chapter's founder, Malcador, hid the moon of Titan in the Warp itself to conceal the Grey Knights' creation. When the moon returned to real space many years had passed for the Imperium but for the Grey Knights many decades had passed.
- You Are Number 6: Grey Knight aspirants are only referred to by designated numbers, only gaining new names if they survive their training.
Founded by the Lord Commander of the Imperium during the war against the mighty Ork Warlord known as the Beast, and close allies of the Ordo Xenos, the Deathwatch are the premier alien hunters of the Imperium. The Chapter draws its recruits from those veteran battle-brothers of more conventional Chapters who have distinguished themselves battling aliens. Such warriors leave their own Chapter to join the forces of the Deathwatch and defend the Imperium from the xenos threat, gaining access to advanced training and restricted wargear. Those veterans that survive their service to the Deathwatch are permitted to return to their original chapters, sworn to secrecy of what they saw but bringing new skills to pass on to their battle-brothers.
The Deathwatch maintain a series of Watch Fortresses throughout the galaxy with their primary training base situated on Talasa Prime, a world near Ultramar on the Eastern Fringes of Ultima Segmentum.
First introduced during the 3rd Edition of Warhammer 40,000, the Deathwatch received Chapter Approved rules published in White Dwarf but subsequently became a primarily background focused faction, featuring in the Deathwatch series of novels by C.S. Goto. On the tabletop, the Deathwatch could be represented by count-as Sternguard Veteran squads but did feature in some Gaiden Games such as Inquisitor and received their own dedicated Deathwatch RPG. In 2016, the Chapter featured in Deathwatch: Overkill board game that pitted a Kill Team against a Genestealer cult and provided new models as well as free downloadable rules to use them in the 7th Edition Warhammer 40'000 game. The 7th Edition rules and background for the Deathwatch were later expanded when they received Codex: Deathwatch in August of 2016 along with the boxed set Death Masque that began the storyline that would cumulate in the release of the 8th Edition of the game and saw the alien hunters face Eldrad Ulthran and a troupe of Harlequins. Rules allowing other Imperial factions to use a specific Deathwatch allied detachment were also included in the 7th Edition Codex: Imperial Agents. The 8th Edition Codex Adeptus Astartes: Deathwatch was released in May 2018.
- Abnormal Ammo: The Deathwatch use all the special issue ammunition available to the Sternguard Veterans of regular Chapters, such as the incendiary Dragonfire bolts and the long ranged and armour piercing Kraken bolts. Where the Sternguard ammo is limited to regular bolters however, the Deathwatch also have access to bolt pistol and silenced variants of these powerful and rare bolt shells.
- Absolute Xenophobe: The Chapter was founded to wipe out any and all alien threats to the Imperium and have xenophobia at the core of their doctrine.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The xenophase blade is a power sword with a molecular realignment field that makes it capable of cutting through force fields and armour with equal ease. Due to its suspicious origins (likely captured Necron tech, based on its appearance and the green energy crackling across its blade), it's forbidden to discuss that topic. In-game, the xenophase blade has the same stats as a normal power sword but also forces the target to re-roll successful invulnerable saves.
- Arm Cannon: Deathwatch Terminators often attach an auxiliary meltagun to the underside of their power fists in order to increase their close range firepower.
- The Atoner: Disgraced Astartes who seek redemption for their past sins or those of their former battle-brothers can petition Watch Commanders for admission into the Deathwatch. What is discussed with the Watch Commander is never revealed, but if they are admitted, they paint their armor completely black except for the Deathwatch heraldry and become Black Shields, obscuring their chapter's heraldry as a symbol of their cutting ties to their chapter of origin. They will accept whatever task is put before them without question, no matter how menial, and go into battle with the utmost zeal.Brother Vigilant: Masters of the Watch, I come before you with nothing but the plate I wear and this most sacred of weapons. All else I have lost. I require only a purpose, that I might direct my righteous fury and earn absolution for the sins I am about to divulge.
- Badass Army: While the average Astartes is already a one man army, the Deathwatch are an elite task force of handpicked veterans, specially trained and equipped to exterminate aliens.
- Combat Pragmatist: Due to their missions often requiring unorthodox methods, the Deathwatch are willing to use tactics and strategies that most other Chapters might consider dishonourable or cowardly and Space Marines with these qualities are actively sought out as potential recruits. The Deathwatch also are one of the very few Imperial forces that actively pursues innovation in their technology, constantly studying xenos tech and adapting their own to counter it.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Deathwatch repaint their armor solid black as a show of solidarity with their temporary new chapter, except for the left arm which is painted silver. The right pauldron bears the symbol and color(s) of their chapter of origin (so as not to anger the armor's machine spirit) and the left bears the Deathwatch symbol on a silvery background. This is done to reflect that though they come from different origins, they are all battle brothers in the Deathwatch.
- Deflector Shields: The highly ornate relic Storm Shield, Dominus Aegis, incorporates a far more powerful force field generator than other such shields. When braced against the ground, the Dominus Aegis projects a field across a wide area, protecting the bearer's allies as well as himself.
- Drop Ship: As well as the Thunderhawks available to other Chapters, the Deathwatch have the Corvus Blackstar, a unique drop ship that combines the hurtling speed of a Drop Pod with the manoeuvrability and firepower of a Stormtalon Gunship.
- Drop the Hammer: In addition to normal Thunder Hammers, the Deathwatch uses a specialized variant that is even more powerful but is too heavy to wield one-handed. In-game, the Heavy Thunder Hammer has a rule that gives To Wound rolls of 6 the Instant Death rule.
- EMP: Tempest shells are one of the rarer types of specialist ammunition used by the Deathwatch. These bolt shells incorporate a miniature plasma-shock generator that produces a small EMP when they impact and can cause serious damage to any vehicle they hit. The 8th Edition of the game represents these shells with the 'Tempest Shells' Deathwatch Stratagem that can be used to cause mortal wounds against enemy vehicles.
- The Exile: Many Black Shields have been cast out from their chapters for one reason or another, and have joined the Deathwatch to regain their honor and maybe earn redemption. In-game, Black Shields have the "Atonement through Honour" special rule that enhances them in melee combat with specific enemies or if his squad is outnumbered.
- Gun Accessories: As a highly elite fighting force, the Deathwatch have access to specialised equipment such as suspensor discs that considerably reduce the weight of their Infernus Heavy Bolters.
- Identity Amnesia: The background material for the Deathwatch mentions the Venerable Dreadnought Xenomortis. The Marine within this ancient war machine has lost all memory of his former existence many decades ago and is now only known by the motto inscribed onto his hull. How Xenomortis lost his identity is unknown but one of the most popular theories is that his hatred of the alien is so absolute, it has replaced all other thoughts in his bionically enhanced mind.
- Last of His Kind: It is not uncommon for individual Marines of otherwise destroyed Chapters to be found fighting with the Deathwatch as they were serving with the alien hunters when their brothers were lost. Many of these orphaned battle-brothers become Black Shields due to the guilt of their survival.
- Lowered Recruiting Standards: The Deathwatch has traditionally only accepted elite Astartes, who have had centuries of experience battling the alien threat, into their ranks. Due to the rising threat of alien invasion and migration caused by the opening of the Great Rift, Roboute Guilliman, in his roll of Lord Commander of the Imperium, issued the Ultimaris Decree, permanently deploying newly created Primaris Marines to the Deathwatch to boost their numbers. These new additions have been welcomed into the ranks of the Deathwatch with their greatly enhanced physical abilities more than compensating for their inexperience.
- Mix-and-Match Weapon:
- Deathwatch Watch Masters are equipped with guardian spears: long polearms with a bolter incorporated into the head that are gifted only to the most trusted and skilful of the Emperor's warriors
- The Infernus Heavy Bolter is a unique heavy combi-weapon used by the Deathwatch that consists of a Heavy Bolter with an underslung Heavy Flamer. Unlike most combi-weapons, the secondary weapon of the Infernus isn't a One Use Only weapon.
- Mourning Clothes: The first members of the Deathwatch were drawn from the precious few Astartes survivors of a failed assault against The Beast's home world, and had their armor painted black in mourning for their lost brothers.
- Multinational Team: Any Deathwatch Kill Team will typically be comprised of Marines from many different chapters.
- Named Weapon: The Thief of Secrets is a power sword inhabited by a highly advanced machine spirit capable of analysing the biology of any creature it wounds. Once the analysis is completed, the machine spirit communicates this information to its wielder so that they can take advantage of their enemy's weaknesses.
- Non-Uniform Uniform: As long as they stick to the Deathwatch colours of black and silver, battle-brothers of the Deathwatch are able to equip and armour themselves however they like. This will often result in situations where somberly-robed Dark Angels fight alongside barbaric Mortifactors hung with skull trophies and Salamanders wearing expertly crafted Terminator Armour.
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: Kill Teams are created on a mission-by-mission basis, and as such the Battle-Brothers who make up such teams can bring a wide variety of personalities, which can lead to serious friction depending on who's teamed with who. The Deathwatch novels and short stories by Steve Parker make this a key theme, as the Kill Team the stories revolve around includes an officious, pompous Ultramarine; an irreverent and rather Motor Mouth-ed Raven Guard; a Jack-of-All-Trades Imperial Fist; and a very grouchy Dreadnought from the Lamenters.
- Skeleton Key: The clavis is a repository of ancient machine-spirits, and is capable of opening any door in the Imperium and can take control of any Imperial machinery. It is used by Watch Masters and is explicitly compared to a skeleton key.
- Sniper Rifle: The Deathwatch have access to the rare Stalker pattern boltguns, long-barrelled and silenced bolters used for the assassination of alien warlords and champions.
- The Squad: While most chapters deploy their Marines in company-sized detachments with specialized individual squads (Tactical, Devastator, Assault, etc.) the Deathwatch typically is deployed for more surgical missions as an individual squad, called a Kill Team. Each Kill Team will often be specialized on the level of individual battle brothers, such that a single Kill Team might include any combination of Tactical, Devastator, and/or Assault Marines, Terminators, etc. This is reflected in the Kill Team models in Overkill, which include all three normal types plus a Salamanders Terminator, and in the various types of Kill Teams in their codex, which have advantages over different categories of models depending on their construction.
- Straight for the Commander: Purgatus Kill Teams specialise in hunting down and killing the commanders of xenos forces. Typically equipped with high firepower weaponry, to cut through troupes of bodyguards, and power weapons to eliminate their target, these Kill Teams are also generally accompanied by Librarians to augment their battle skills and counter any warp-trickery attempted by the enemy. In the 8th Edition rules, this specialisation is represented by the 'Purgatus Tactics' Mission Tactic that allows re-rolls against enemy HQ choices.
- Take a Third Option: Faced with multiple requests for the repatriation of seconded brethren to their original Chapters, many Watch Masters face the choice of refusing, and therefore harming relations with their allies, or acquiescing and suffering a crisis of manpower. The Watch Master of Futor Shield however came up with a compromise solution, returning the battle-brothers without releasing them from their oaths to the Deathwatch. The Watch Master hopes that such a compromise will allow the returned Marines to fight alongside their brothers while still retaining their autonomy, as well as acting as specialist advisers to their Chapters commanders when facing xenos forces.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: Since the opening of the Great Rift, a number of Watch Fortresses isolated in the Imperium Nihilus have begun training the garrisons and PDF regiments of nearby planets in advanced anti-xenos tactics so that they can defend themselves in this increasingly dangerous half of the galaxy.
Other Noteworthy Chapters
Many other chapters beyond the aforementioned have managed to distinguish themselves in the fluff. See Brothers of the Snake and the Blood Ravens and Soul Drinkers book series for more about those chapters. Several receive brief mention in the Space Marines codex, especially the First Founding Chapters' more noteworthy successor chapters.
- 13 Is Unlucky: For whatever reason, the Adeptus Terra have little to no records of the chapters created during the Thirteenth Founding, such as the Exorcists and Death Spectres. This extends to whose gene-seed was used to form the new chapters (though the Death Spectres have been confirmed to be successors to the Raven Guard).
- Ace Pilot: The Hawk Lords Chapter are renowned for the skill of their gunship pilots, specialising in the use of Thunderhawks and Stormravens to perform low-altitude insertions of troops. The pilots of the Chapter are so skilled that many other Chapters send their own pilots to serve with the Hawk Lords so that they can learn from their talented flyers.
- Ax-Crazy: The Knights of Blood (another Blood Angels successor) were even more unstable than the Flesh Tearers, committing acts of brutality and attacking allied forces to the point of being declared Renegade until their final battle in the defense of Baal. They managed to ultimately "weaponize" this during the evacuation of the Blood Angels successors from Baal, giving themselves completely over to the Black Rage and fighting furiously to hold the Tyranids back so that the Flesh Tearers could escape.
- Badass Teacher: Rather than fight at Company strength, the Mentors typically second their highly trained squads to other Imperial factions to act as advisers and tacticians, as well as teaching them how to improve their battlefield doctrine.
- Because Destiny Says So: The highly superstitious Silver Skulls base their deployments on the divinations of their Librarians, known as Prognosticators, and have been known to refuse to enter battle if the omens are bad. This habit has given the Chapter a reputation for unreliability.
- Born Unlucky: The 21st Founding was an attempt by the Adeptus Mechanicus to improve the Astartes' gene-seed and rid it of defects such as the Flaw of the Blood Angels. Instead, every chapter created during this "Cursed Founding" ended up suffering from severe mutations or inexplicably bad luck, and some have even fallen to Chaos. There is some evidence that the followers of the Ruinous Powers, and Fabius Bile in particular, may have been manipulated the events of the Founding.
- Canon Immigrant: The Blood Ravens first appeared in the Dawn of War games, and have received numerous mentions in codices or magazine articles. They also appeared in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine alongside the Black Templars to provide aid to the Ultramarines. They even have an official model from the Deathwatch: Overkill board game, where a Blood Ravens Librarian is a playable character.
- Companion Cube: The Astartes of the Silver Templars Chapter form uncommonly close bonds with their wargear, undergoing the Bond Martial ritual that the believe allows them to fight with uncommon skill. This bond is so close that, should the weapon be destroyed, they will grieve in the same way as if they lost a battle-brother.
- The Exile: The Sons of Medusa began their existence after the Moirae Schism, a minor civil war within the Adeptus Mechanicus, spread to the Iron Hands and their Successor Chapters. In order to prevent full-scale bloodshed within the Chapter, the Iron Council exiled those battle-brothers that followed the Moirae Creed. By the time the Schism ended, the Iron Hands exiles had been joined by those cast out by the other Chapters of Ferrus Manus' linage and had grown to Chapter strength. After having their actions and loyalty strictly vetted, the High Lords of Terra recognised the exiled Astartes as a new Chapter and they were renamed as the Sons of Medusa. Although the Sons of Medusa have fought alongside their parent Chapter without incident, they still cling to a version of the Creed that resulted in their banishment and the relationship between the Chapters is still cold at best.
- The Faceless: The Angels Sanguine never remove their helmets, refusing to show their faces to those outside their Chapter. It is rumoured that the reason for this is related to a dark secret that lies in the catacombs beneath their fortress monastery.
- Fantastic Racism: Even more than other Imperial forces, the Red Scorpions are extremely intolerant of non-humans. Their Chapter Master in particular has a number of quotes expressing his refusal to serve alongside abhumans such as Ogryns.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: The Marines Malevolent are a loyalist chapter, but only appear in the lore to emphasise the callous side of the Imperium and their methods are almost universally disliked by everyone who has to work with them, especially the Salamanders.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The Relictors received numerous sanctions for their interest in recovering, studying and wielding Chaos-touched artifacts, including Daemon Weapons. By the 13th Black Crusade they were declared heretics and the survivors are thought to have fled into the Eye of Terror.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The entire Astral Knights chapter purposefully crash-landed onto the Necron World Engine and spent their last hundred hours destroying every target they could find, which eventually dropped the battle-station's shields so that the rest of the Imperial force could destroy it.
- Human Popsicle: When not on campaign, the reclusive Charnel Guard seal themselves and their equipment in vast stasis-crypts within their Battle Barges.
- Jerkass: The Marines Malevolent have nothing but sneering disdain for anything that shows a hint of weakness or compassion, and their tactics epitomize "the ends justify the means." Casualties (both civilian and military), property damage, and constructive camaraderie with other Chapters are afterthoughts to completing their missions. Their callous slaughter of civilians during the Third War for Armageddon got them censured by the Inquisition, and several Space Marine chapters (especially the Salamanders) refuse to fight alongside them.
- Knight Errant: The fleet-based Marines Errant were founded specifically to constantly travel the galaxy in small groups of companies, looking to assist other Imperial forces and attaching themselves to whatever Imperial crusade is going on at any given time.
- Morton's Fork: The Iron Snakes test accused criminals through the Trial by Wyrm, where the accused is left on a spit of rock in Sea Serpent-infested waters for six hours. After the time is up, the Marines come back to check if they got eaten. If they're still alive then they're considered guilty and executed, since the Iron Snakes don't believe that the serpents would sully themselves by eating a criminal.
- Mysterious Past:
- This is a defining trait of the Blood Ravens chapter, who are fixated on discovering the identity of their long-forgotten Primarch, but are also constantly taunted by the forces of Chaos with proclamations of brotherhood. Given their obsession with knowledge, great libraries of artifacts, higher than normal numbers of psykers and bearing an eerie similarity to the Legion's Pre-Heresy heraldry, it's quite likely they're the descendants of Loyalist defectors from the Thousand Sons.
- During the Horus Heresy, the Ultramarines openly sheltered and adopted fleeing loyalists from the traitor legions, such as a Chapter of loyalist Iron Warriors who repainted their armor and are depicted chanting "We march for Macragge!" This muddies the waters considerably regarding the true genetic lineage of some of "their" successor Chapters.
- Off with His Head!: The Silver Skulls have inherited a tradition of headhunting from their recruitment worlds, and plate the skulls of prestigious foes in silver for display.
- One Steve Limit: While attempts are made to ensure that no two active Chapters share the same name this isn't always successful. In the case of the Astral Blades, a bureaucratic error saw two chapters founded under that name, an oversight only noticed when both were wiped out during the 9th Black Crusade.
- Retcon: In 1st Edition the full twenty First Founding Legions were all listed - the missing two would be the Rainbow Warriors and the Valedictors. However, Games Workshop liked the idea of a nod to the Lost Roman Legions and so demoted those legions to later founding chapters, thereby giving players some Canon Fodder to toy with.
- A few former First Founding Legions were bumped from their slots to allow more popular Second Founding Chapters to take their place. Most notoriously, the Crimson Fists lost their place as the XIIIth Legion to the Ultramarines when 2nd Edition rolled around.
- Revenge Before Reason: After their home world of Talus IV was destroyed by a Chaos invasion, the Chapter Master of the Brazen Clawsnote led his entire Chapter on a punitive invasion of the Eye of Terror. After just twenty years, the Chapter had lost over 60% of its numbers due to casualties or defections and were forced to return to the Imperium where some treated with suspicion due to their extended exposure to Chaos. Despite this, the Chapter still undertakes campaigns around the fringes of the Eye, determined to gain a measure of revenge for their lost world.
- The Rival: The Storm Lords Chapter have maintained a rivalry with the White Scars since the Second Founding, competing for glory and always trying to outdo their parent Chapter. This rivalry is mostly good-natured but things can get out of hand, with the Storm Lords becoming overly reckless in their pursuit of victory.
- Scarred Equipment: The Excoriators note take great pride in the battle damage of their armour and vehicles, retaining every burn and blast mark on their wargear accompanied by inscriptions of when and where they were acquired. The power armour of the Chapters veterans will often be covered with such marking.
- Skull for a Head: The scouts of the Mortifactors Chapter wear the flayed skull of their first significant kill as a mask. Until they have earned such a right, the Neophyte isn't considered a true member of the Chapter and is never referred to by name.
- Space Romans:
- The Iron Snakes have a heavy Ancient Greek theme: they have Greek-inspired names, their squads are called phratriesnote and their home world is Ithakanote .
- The name of their Chapter Master, leonine theme and some of their unique rank titles (such as Pride Leader) indicate that the Celestial Lions have a nonspecific African theme. Lore also occasionally mentions their dark brown complexions, as well as their passion for oral histories and preserving the legacies of great battles and warriors through them.
- The Red Scorpions, with their grey uniforms, red and white insignias on a black background, and fanatical obsession with both genetic purity and over-engineered battle tanks, makes them the Naziest of 40k's many Catholic Space Nazis.
- The Storm Wardensnote are based on Scottish Highlanders, with Celtic names, claymores and glorification of honourable single combat.
- The Emperor's Shadows, a chapter made for How to Paint Space Marines by a fan whom won a contest to be featured in the book, are extremely Japanese in their design, with their chapter badge being a bonsai tree over what's essentially the modern Japanese flag with kanji around it.
- Some background material for the Mantis Warriors indicates that they have a Chinese theme that focuses on warrior honour and mysticism.
- Storyboard Body: The Novamarines have inherited the tradition of tattooing their bodies with scenes of their greatest achievements from the feral tribes that they recruit from. The Novamarines believe that after their death, the Emperor will judge the worth of their life by the deeds inscribed on their skin.
- Un-person: One of the biggest mysteries is what happened to Legions II and XI to see them removed from the list of Space Marine Legions, especially since the Traitor Legions are still on it. The Horus Heresy novels offer hints that they may have gone renegade before the Heresy, had unacceptable genetic deviations, been destroyed by the Space Wolves, and/or disbanded and absorbed into the Ultramarines, but there is no definitive answer.
- Uriah Gambit: After making the mistake of (attempting to) complain to the High Lords of Terra about an Inquisitor's Exterminatus action, the Celestial Lions found themselves deployed to a hive on Armageddon where, due to appallingly bad intelligence, they took over 90% losses. The chapter's Apothecaries in particular were singled out by what official reports dubbed "Ork snipers," putting the Lions at risk of extinction. The survivors are attempting to rebuild with the help of the Black Templars.
- Vision Quest: Members of the Novamarines often undergo vision-quests to a shadow version of their fortress monastery of Fortress Novum where they are able to seek advice from deceased battle-brothers about events to come and decisions they must make.
- Wreathed in Flames: The Flame Falconsnote , a Chapter of the 21st Founding, manifested the mysterious ability to cover themselves in flame that would burn their enemies yet leave themselves and their allies unscathed. The Chapter viewed this mutation as a gift from the Emperor, but the Inquisition did not agree and ordered the Chapter destroyed by the Grey Knights. Although officially declared Excommunicate Traitoris and destroyed, there have been some reports of mysterious flame wreathed Astartes in the colours of the Flame Falcons fighting the enemies of the Imperium.