"As our bodies are armoured with Adamantium, our souls are protected with our loyalty. As our bolters are charged with death for the Emperor's enemies, our thoughts are charged with his wisdom. As our ranks advance, so does our devotion, for are we not Marines? Are we not the chosen of the Emperor, his loyal servants unto death?"
- — Brother-Chaplain Fergas Nils' address to the defenders of Portrein
Chaplains are the warrior-priests that minister to the spiritual and psychological well-being of their fellow battle-brothers, instilling in them the values and beliefs of the Chapter and promote the veneration or in rarer cases the actual worship of the Emperor of Mankind.
Chaplains lead from the front as awe-inspiring warrior-priests, fighting wherever the foe is most fierce, leading their brethren and praising the Emperor through the destruction of His enemies. Rejoicing in the glorious act of war, Chaplains exhort their battle-brothers to ever greater deeds of bravery and devotion.
In battle, the Chaplains will be at the forefront of the Chapter's battlelines, rousing their fellow Space Marines through their words and actions. Their Power Armour is black and often incorporates Imperial skull iconography, most commonly in the form of a skull-shaped helmet. Most Chaplains wield a Power Weapon that takes the form of a mace and is called a Crozius Arcanum. They are also equipped with an Imperial holy symbol known as a Rosarius.
Individual Chaplains are assigned to each company within a Space Marine Chapter. Others, including the Reclusiarch who cares for the Chapter's sacred Reclusiam and the Master of Sanctity who is the chief Chaplain of a Chapter and an officer whose rank is usually subordinate only to that of the Chapter Master himself, operate within the Chapter's command structure independent of any specific company.
A Chaplain is fanatically loyal to his Chapter and to the Emperor, and works to instill a similar devotion in his fellow Astartes.
Chaplains are the true spiritual leaders of a Space Marine Chapter. They are awe-inspiring warrior-priests who administer the rites, preserve the rituals and perform the ancient ceremonies of initiation, vindication and redemption that are as important to a Space Marine Chapter as its roll of honour or its skill at arms.
Chaplains are daunting figures even for other Space Marines to behold. Their Power Armour is jet black and adorned with icons of battle and tokens of ritual and mystery; their Skull Helms are death masks that evoke the stern visage of the immortal Emperor.
Every aspect of a Chaplain's garb serves to remind all who gaze upon him of mortality's impermanence and thus the importance of preserving the immortal soul. Beneath this stern cladding is a man no less grim of aspect and manner.
Chaplains are notoriously strict individuals. They are responsible for the spiritual and psychological well-being of their battle-brothers and renowned for their unwavering sense of duty. Through tenet, dogma and catechism, they armour their brother Space Marines against heresy and false pride, instilling the wisdom of both primarch and Emperor in those who are their most trusted servants.
Every company in a Space Marine Chapter has its own Chaplain. He acts as a leader in both devotions and combat and is second only to the company captain in rank. A Chapter's Chaplains are also the keepers of the Reclusiam, a hallowed place overseen by the greatest and most veteran of their number, the Master of Sanctity.
The Reclusiam is the fortress-monastery's central shrine, where prayers and meditations are conducted. It is a place of great spiritual reverence, where the Chapter's battle standards hang from hallowed walls and the very stones echo with remembrance.
Here are kept the Chapter's most holy relics: fragments of armour, banners from times of legend, and the raiments of ancient heroes who long ago passed beyond mortal service. However, the Chaplains teach that the presence of a formal chapel is not necessary for a Space Marine; the fires of battle serve as their places of worship, the roar of Bolters and Chainswords their prayers and the righteous slaughter of their foes their truest offerings.
The first Space Marine Chapters were founded centuries before the development of the Imperial Cult or the Adeptus Ministorum, and with the exception of the Black Templars and several others, Space Marines have never acknowledged the doctrines or religious supremacy of the Ecclesiarchy.
Space Marine Chaplains care little for the ravings of the Ecclesiarch's priests and ignore the dictates of the Imperial Cult in favour of their own ancient traditions.
While the Adeptus Ministorum has gradually extended its influence throughout the human-settled galaxy, it has failed to sway the Space Marine cults, which remain as stubbornly independent as they ever were in millennia past.
When war calls, a Chaplain takes the fight to wherever the conflict is fiercest. He leads from the fore, rejoicing in the righteous slaughter of his enemies, all the while rendering thunderous praise to the beloved Emperor of Mankind and his primarch.
A Chaplain chants the liturgies of battle with every breath, punctuating his oration with strikes from his Crozius Arcanum –- the battle staff that is both the symbol of his office and his chosen weapon of war.
Through his example and his devotion, the Chaplain exhorts his fellow battle-brothers to the pinnacle of their dedication, so that they might conquer with valour those most dire threats which would resist all else.
The Chaplain Edict
The position of Chaplain was created during the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium by the edicts of the Council of Nikaea -- an Imperial conclave that was called on the world of Nikaea to determine whether the use of psychic powers represented a boon or a grave danger to Mankind and the newborn Imperium of Man. After the Emperor rendered His Decree Absolute in regards to the use of psykers, the Space Marine Legions were instructed to abolish their Librarius divisions.
The Emperor had decreed that henceforth no Legion was to employ psykers in battle, nor were they to continue their studies into the mysteries of psychic talents. Those Legions who had Librarians -- psychically empowered Space Marines -- were instructed to reassign them to standard fighting units and to forbid the use of their abilities.
First Lord of Terra, Malcador the Sigillite, leader of the Council of Terra, was not satisfied that all of the Legions would follow the Emperor's edict. He knew that many of the Primarchs placed great value on their Librarians and the powers they could unleash on the battlefield. For some of the Legions, the deployment of psykers had become central to their strategies and tactics.
He resolved to find a way to ensure these Legions obeyed the Emperor and observed the psyker ban. His thoughts turned to Lorgar and the Word Bearers Legion. Whilst the Emperor worked His secret labours in the Imperial Palace vaults, Malcador the Sigillite issued a new edict through the Council of Terra in the name of the Emperor. This was the Order of Observance, more commonly known as the Chaplain Edict, and its inspiration was the Word Bearers Legion. The Word Bearers primarch, Lorgar, had been raised on the highly religious world of Colchis.
In time, Lorgar had become Colchis' martial and spiritual leader. His first meeting with the Emperor was believed to be a fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, an event that reinforced the religious fervour of the people of Colchis, and Lorgar himself. On becoming Primarch, Lorgar had introduced officer-clerics to his Legion. These warrior-priests were named Chaplains, and their role was to minister to the needs of the Space Marines and ensure that their faith in the Emperor was strong.
Word Bearers Chaplains had extolled the virtues and divinity of the Emperor of Mankind to every world the XVII Legion brought into Imperial Compliance, though this was a violation of the secular Imperial Truth that ultimately resulted in the castigation of the XVII Legion at the world of Khur, setting them on the path to betrayal in their humiliation.
Inspired by this, Malcador ordered the other Space Marine primarchs under the seal of the Emperor to appoint Chaplains who would ensure the spiritual well-being of their Legion and enforce the psyker ban. These officers were to be picked from those Space Marines who were the most steadfast in their duties, and who had demonstrated the strongest loyalty to their Primarch and to the Emperor. Most of the primarchs loyally followed the edict and began to appoint officers to the rank and duties of Chaplain. Some did not.
Lorgar was quietly amused by the irony of the new edict -- his Legion had already secretly fallen to the Ruinous Powers. Given the vagaries of communication across the vastness of the galaxy, it would not have seemed unusual or suspicious to Malcador that not all of the primarchs had voiced their consent to the edict immediately.
It was also certain that some of the primarchs behaved duplicitously, and while they assured him they were doing as the Emperor had ordered, they were not.
In time, with the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, their dishonesty became clear. The esteemed position of Space Marine Chaplain would later change to become one of spiritual and moral leadership in the centuries after the Horus Heresy as the Imperium's culture became increasingly centered on the worship of the Emperor as a god.
The Reclusiam is greatly revered as a sacred place for the Chapter's Astartes and contains precious relics drawn from the Chapter's history: fragments of armour from fallen champions of the Chapter, blessed weaponry that has drunk deep of the blood of the Heretic, the xenos and the daemon in millennia past and captured banners and shattered icons of defeated foes.
Amongst these relics of past glories, the Chaplains proselytise on the sacred duties and the virtues of service to the greater glory of the Emperor. These ceremonies are carried out under the guidance of the Chaplain with the rank of "Reclusiarch" and his superior, the Master of Sanctity, who is the spiritual head of the Chapter (though sometimes these ranks are combined into the same post).
The Reclusiarch is also tasked with the training of new Chaplains, while the Master of Sanctity assigns the Chapter's Chaplains to the various companies.
Only these two ranks of Chaplain serve the spiritual needs of the entire Chapter, as all other Chaplains are attached to individual companies. But Chaplains also teach that the time for prayer and worship is not only within the Reclusiam but also on the battlefield.
Where the roar of Bolters is the loudest and where the fires of righteous fury burn the brightest, Space Marines can exercise their most sacred duty and give praise to the Emperor with the slaughter of His enemies.
The importance of faith to the Space Marines is further reinforced in the Company Chapels. All ten companies within each Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter have their own chapel where battle-brothers can observe the rites of the Chapter and those special to their own company.
Here the worship is supervised by one of the Reclusiarch's subordinate company Chaplains. It is the Chaplains, living and fighting alongside their battle-brothers, who are responsible for the spiritual health of every Astartes in the companies.
The Imperial Cult
Each Chapter officially follows the basic tenets of the orthodox Imperial Cult of the God-Emperor of Mankind even as they maintain the older spiritual traditions of the Space Marines that hold that the Emperor was not truly divine but an inspiration and example of everything that a human being could become if he or she achieved perfection.
In many cases, the veneration of the Emperor by the Astartes long predates the birth of the Imperial Cult as the official state religion of the Imperium in the 32nd Millennium. The Astartes views of the Emperor's divinity or lack thereof vary widely between Chapters. Individual Astartes Chapters have extended the Imperial Cult's standard creed to include ceremonies, liturgies and rituals which have relevance only to their own members.
For example, a deep reverence for each Chapter's founding Primarch is often equal in intensity to that held for the Emperor. This belief is widespread amongst the Adeptus Astartes, as is the practice of honouring the heroes of each Chapter who fell in battle and upheld the honour and traditions of the Space Marines in a particularly notable fashion. A Chapter's collection of Primarch relics and wargear is entombed in the Chapter catacombs, placed upon sepulchres or hung in the Reclusiam of the fortress-monastery or flagship Battle Barge.
The Chaplains of a Chapter often display the Imperial holy symbol known as a Rosarius which is taken as a sign of fellowship between the faith traditions of the Astartes and the orthodox teachings of the Ecclesiarchy. A Rosarius usually takes the form of a necklace, brooch or amulet in the shape of the Imperial Aquila or the Crux Terminatus. Often given as a gift to the Chaplains of a Space Marine Chapter by Cardinals or other high-ranking priests of the Adeptus Ministorum, the Rosarius is intended to represent the common faith of both the Space Marines and the members of the Ecclesiarchy in the Emperor of Mankind.
In truth, there is often a great deal of friction between the Ecclesiarchy and the Adeptus Astartes, as the Astartes claim to be the direct descendants of the Emperor and to have carried out his will from the moment of the Imperium's birth, while the Ecclesiarchy is an Imperial institution that only developed long after the Emperor had already been interred within the Golden Throne. The dislike is often mutual, but the current decentralised, feudal structure of the Imperium makes the Astartes largely independent of any legal authority outside of direct decrees made by the High Lords of Terra in the Emperor's name.
"If your life is given in service to the Emperor, your death shall not be in vain."
- —Hauis Argento, Chaplain of the Crimson Fists 2nd Company
Chaplains are those Astartes appointed to minister to the spiritual well-being of their brother Space Marines. Their stern demeanour and critical eye watches over every action of a battle-brother from his initiation to his last breath in service to the Emperor, ever alert for signs of a slackening zeal or any wavering in belief.
Above all, Chaplains remind their fellow battle-brothers to honour the primarchs and keep their faith with the Emperor. Chaplains are well-versed in all matters of their specific Chapter's faith traditions, having spent many years studying the battle liturgies and scriptures stored in the Chapter Librarius. This study includes memorising all the rites of their Chapter and of their individual company. This knowledge is also put to practical use. Chaplains are responsible for the spiritual care, discipline and faith of the battle-brothers in their companies. Young Neophytes must also be monitored and indoctrinated as they progress towards becoming full battle-brothers.
Chaplains are treated with awed respect by their battle-brothers, and in many Chapters it falls to them to choose which supplicants will undertake training to become Space Marines. During the Trials for new Aspirants, the Chaplains are the ones who inculcate the culture and values of the Chapter into them, as well as weeding out the spiritually weak and faithless individuals they find unworthy to become an Astartes.
The development and guidance of such super-human warriors is only entrusted to the wisest and fiercest members of the Chapter, mighty heroes that have demonstrated their own enduring devotion and uncompromising zeal on countless occasions. Chaplains are renowned for their sense of duty and responsibility to their battle-brothers, knowing that only through unshakeable faith can a Space Marine stand firm against the darkness rampant across the galaxy.
Variations by Chapter
Chaplains of certain Chapters have unique duties in addition to those laid out in the Codex Astartes. These are related to the Chapter's background and individual traditions. In the Blood Angels Chapter and its Successors, Chaplains are tasked with seeking out signs of the Black Rage and leading the various Death Companies into combat.
A special class of Chaplains of the Dark Angels and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters, known as Interrogator-Chaplains, is tasked with interrogating captured Fallen Angels and forcing them to repent their sins against the Emperor before killing them. The Iron Hands have the Iron Fathers, officers who combine the duties of a Chaplain, Apothecary and Techmarine into a single role. The Chaplains of the Space Wolves are known as Wolf Priests, and serve a function that appears analogous to that of both a Chaplain and an Apothecary in that non-standard Chapter's Great Companies.
Becoming a Chaplain
Chaplains are drawn from the ranks of the Chapter, although only those Space Marines who have earned both Merit and Devout badges are considered for a Chaplaincy. These awards may be displayed as actual badges, or for example as diagonal stripes painted across the right shoulder plate. As a first step, a Space Marine is singled out to aid the Chaplain of his company as a Novice (or sometimes Initiate; the terms are almost interchangeable in each Chapter). Duties often involve little more than assisting the Chaplain during company rituals, but deep study of the liturgies under a Chaplain's personal direction is also necessary.
Should a Chaplaincy fall vacant, the most advanced and promising of the Novices are sent to the Solitarium. This small cell is situated in a secluded part of the Chapter's fortress-monastery and there the Novice meditates and fasts for a time. He may be left there for up to a week, while his investiture by the Reclusiarch and the Master of Sanctity is prepared. Then, in front of the whole Chapter, he is formally given his symbols of office and presented to the company who are now under his spiritual guidance. At this point the new Chaplain takes the name of his predecessor.
When a Chaplain is killed in battle, a formal ceremony often has to wait. The senior Novice immediately dons the helmet and shoulder plates of the deceased Chaplain. From the moment he puts on the old Chaplain's wargear he has full authority as one of the Chapter's spiritual leaders. He is formally invested as a new Chaplain only when the battle is won and the dead are absolved.
Chaplains in Battle
"Rejoice! Let the glory of battle envelop us! Let our enemies fear us, for we are the Emperor's wrath!"
Chaplains are a puritanical and sometimes eccentric group. Their religious zeal has a strong practical slant that often horrifies orthodox priests of the Ecclesiarchy, as befits a warrior.
In battle, Chaplains are frequently found where the fighting is fiercest. They can be seen chanting the Chapter's battle creeds, ministering to the fallen and granting absolution to the dead. They are also Astartes, which means that they fight with as much savagery as any of their brothers, praising the Emperor through the destruction of His enemies. They rejoice in the glorious act of war and exhort their battle-brothers to ever-greater deeds of bravery and devotion.
They fight alongside their battle-brothers, reciting extracts from the Chapter's Creed and Liturgies. Indeed, their dedication adds considerably to the fearsome reputation of the Space Marines. Their inspirational sayings and constant exhortations harden the determination of every Astartes to serve the Emperor and relive the former glories of the Chapter's Primarch.
The bond between Space Marines and their Chaplains is a strong one. Chaplains preside over each battle-brother's indoctrination as a recruit; they teach loyalty to the Chapter, reinforce its precepts through rituals and ceremonies and perform inspiring acts of valour upon the field of battle.
Reclusiam Command Squad
"We fight to protect the spiritual and physical heart of our Chapter. That, surely, is worth shedding blood."
- — Chaplain Braknum, of the Raven Guard, in defence of the Altmorr Massacre
The Reclusiam Command Squad is mustered in times of dire need. It is formed when the finest warriors within a Space Marine company -– the Command Squad –- grant their protection to a Chaplain. In this way, a Command Squad becomes a Reclusiam Command Squad –- a defiant rallying point and an inspiration to their battle-brothers. A Chaplain's guardians in a Reclusiam Command Squad include some of the most experienced veterans in a company.
When these warriors protect the Chaplain they are known as Reclusiaries. They form up around the Chaplain, shielding him with their own flesh, so that he might be free to inspire their brothers to greater deeds with his fighting and oratory.
The Reclusiam Command Squad can be used to devastating effect as, with the Chaplain in their midst, all Space Marines around them fight with more passion and savagery than before. Indeed, the Reclusiam Command Squad is more than a mere symbol of the true spiritual power of the Adeptus Astartes – its presence pushes the full fury of the Space Marines to even greater heights.
A Reclusiam Command Squad consists of the following personnel:
- Chaplain - The core of any Reclusiam Command Squad is a Chaplain, one of the spiritual leaders of a Space Marine Chapter. Assigned to one of the ten companies within a Chapter, he is a commanding figure on the battlefield. As an overseer of sacred rites and a conductor of solemn rituals, a Chaplain is vitally important to the strength and morale of his company.
- Apothecary - Every Apothecary is a skilled battle medic, trained in the use of the narthecium to keep his battle-brothers in the fight, but it takes an Apothecary of unimaginable bravery to perform this task amid the thickest combats where a Command Squad must fight.
- Standard Bearer - The Standard Bearer in a Reclusiam Command Squad has a weighty responsibility. He carries the Company Standard into battle, a worthy and honoured burden. A company has many banners, and a Chaplain may authorise the Standard Bearer to bring out one of the oldest and most glorious banners in order to inspire his battle-brothers against a potent enemy.
- Company Champion - The Company Champion steps forward to engage in any duels on the Chaplain's behalf in the same way that he would for his company's Captain. In rare examples, the Company Champion represents more than a surrogate combatant. In those Chapters where Chaplains are especially honoured, Company Champions may have duties within the Reclusiam. For example, in the Silver Skulls Chapter they play a crucial role in many of the rituals within the Fortress-Monastery's Reclusiam, often standing ceremonial guard outside the hallowed shrine whilst their Chaplain tends to the ancient artefacts within.
- Razorback - Reclusiam Command Squads require transports which can quickly deliver their wrath to where the fighting is heaviest. The tank most commonly used for this purpose is the Captain's command tank, the Razorback. The Reclusiaries find that its speed, armour, and considerable firepower perfectly suit their battlefield role. A variant of the Rhino armoured personnel carrier, the Razorback can be armed with weaponry to scythe through infantry or duel with heavy battle tanks as the situation demands, clearing the path for the Chaplain and his guardians.
Deathwatch Chaplains act in a similar role to those of other Chapters by serving as the spiritual leaders of battle-brothers undertaking their Vigil with the Deathwatch. However, the challenges facing a Deathwatch Chaplain are unique.
The rigours of serving in the Deathwatch can be sorely vexing for Space Marines accustomed to the rigidly ordered life of their own Chapters. Long periods of isolation and privation await them, only punctuated by chaotic, often-desperate combat against wildly diverse enemies. The need to work alongside battle-brothers of other Chapters in the Deathwatch can be challenging in itself, particularly amongst those from Chapters with long-running rivalries and past antagonisms.
Most of all, battle-brothers in the Deathwatch are exposed to horrible truths about the true threat of the xenos lurking just beyond the circle of the Emperor's light. They will witness sights that can shake their faith to its very foundations and yet are often asked only to watch and report back on what they have seen.
This corrosive poison of seeming impotence and frustration can drive Space Marines to insane acts of self-sacrifice in a hopeless effort to overcome star-spanning evils. A Deathwatch Chaplain must always stand ready to renew a battle-brother's devotion when he falters, and to remind him of his duty and his vows when hope seems lost. On the most difficult missions a Deathwatch Chaplain will lead his battle-brothers personally to ensure that their fervour is directed towards victory even if it comes at the cost of the sacrifice of the entire Kill-team.
The fierce dedication of a Chaplain to his own Chapter usually makes them unsuitable to become Deathwatch Chaplains, although examples of such broad-minded individuals do exist. More typically, battle-brothers find their calling through apprenticeship to an existing Deathwatch Chaplain who has noted their unflagging zeal in pursuit of the alien. Once a Deathwatch Chaplain takes his vows he will seldom see his old Chapter again, instead giving himself entirely to the Long Vigil and the duties of the Deathwatch.
A Deathwatch Chaplain must study extensively during his training. He must know the beliefs and values of a thousand different Chapters and their sometimes contradictory legends of the Primarchs by heart. A Deathwatch Chaplain must become a dedicated scholar of the Primarchs and of Chapter histories originating at the very dawn of the Imperium.
Thus, when a Deathwatch battle-brothers stands at the brink of despair or impotent rage, the Chaplain will know the right liturgies and catechisms to speak, and which Chapter heroes or legendary battles of the past to cite that will inspire the warriors of the present.
Deathwatch Chaplains also make it their business to know of every potential motivation, conflict and agenda amongst their battle-brothers before battle is joined. Many battle-brothers are amazed by the knowledge of Deathwatch Chaplains, and in some cases that knowledge extends even unto the deepest mysteries known only to the inner circle of Chapter hierarchies.
A Deathwatch Chaplain takes no sides and makes no judgments about individual Chapters and their long study grants them a perspective denied to most. Deathwatch Chaplain doctrines hold that all Space Marines are united in their purpose of service to the Emperor and those bound by their vows to the Deathwatch must be united more than most.
Armour and Appearance
In battle, Chaplains are sinister and foreboding figures. The armour of a Space Marine Chaplain is a daunting sight, adorned with icons of battle and death. Every aspect of a Chaplain's garb serves as a reminder of mortality's impermanent nature, and thus, the significance of preserving the immortal soul. They often wear variant types of standard-issue Mark VI, Mark VII, Mark VIII or even the new Mark X Power Armour.
A Chaplain can appear stylised and archaic in his Power Armour when compared to his fellow Astartes, which makes him stand out and act as a focus for his brethren in battle. Some or all of a Chaplain's Power Armour is usually painted in the traditional black. Chaplain Novices usually wear standard Space Marine Power Armour. However, the helmets, right shoulder plates and right arms of their armour are painted black rather than in the Chapter's formal colours.
The black shoulder plate replaces the previous Devout markings which were shown there. Once declared as a Novice, the Space Marine's devotion needs no further advertisement. Chaplains often also wear or make use of one or more Primarchal relics or pieces of wargear which are worn or carried into battle. It is believed that something as trivial as a single gauntlet from the armour of a Chapter hero passes on a little of the Primarch's fortitude and faith to the Chaplain.
A skull insignia usually adorns the right shoulder of a Chaplain's Power Armour and this is often displayed on both shoulder plates. A skull is a common symbol in the iconography of the Imperial Cult and it is used to represent the sacrifice of the Emperor in giving up his conscious life so that he might ascend to a new state of spiritual being in the Immaterium through the use of the Golden Throne. It is a symbol of his willingness to suffer to protect humanity from the evils of Chaos, xenos and Heretics. Skulls are a motif often repeated throughout a Chaplain's armour.
One of the most iconic elements of a Chaplain’s wargear is his macabre skull helm, a stern visage that depicts the face of the Emperor mordant, evoking the Emperor's wrath. These helmets may take many different forms and have been crafted by numerous Space Marine Artificers across the galaxy. Universally, however, they are all fearsome in aspect. The Chaplain's upper chest armour or even the whole of the torso armour may also be cast in the shape of a skull. Skull-shaped groin-guards are also not unknown.
The formal regalia of an Astartes Chaplain includes a deadly staff of office called the Crozius, which is used during Chapter ceremonies. Many Chaplains carry them into battle, a visible sign that battle is the highest ritual in the Chapter's devotional calendar. The Crozius is usually adorned with the Imperial Aquila or symbols that reinforce the Chaplain's role, such as winged skeletons or skulls. Some Crozius Arcanums are shaped by the Chapter's iconography, such as a smith's hammer or a dragon's head for the Salamanders.
Within the Crozius is a gravitic generator that produces a powerful energy field capable of disrupting matter in the same manner as a Power Weapon. Chaplains are powerful warriors, and the blows struck with a Crozius Arcanum can overwhelm nearly any defence. The most ancient of these staffs is the rare Crozius Arcanum; a mace forged from an alien relic which contains a neuro-disruptor in the haft.
Chaplains are also often recipients of the treasured Rosarius, a symbolic gift from the Ecclesiarchy to express spiritual unity in spite of deep differences in creed. This usually takes the form of a gorget or amulet worn about the neck.
The Rosarius often bears the image of the Imperial Aquila and serves as the "armour of the soul" for the Chaplain. The most common form of the Rosarius is a Crux Terminatus richly embellished with gemstones and precious metals. Concealed inside it is a potent personal shield generator that symbolically bestows the blessed prayers of protection from the faithful for their champions to triumph in the battle against evil.
To this existing panoply Deathwatch Chaplains also commonly add many xenos trophies: strips of tanned alien hide, strings of bones, skulls or shrunken heads inscribed in High Gothic with liturgies of hate and remembrance. Their passion for killing aliens is without peer and each trophy will mark a noteworthy foe or memorable battle. A Deathwatch Chaplain is a deep well of tried and trusted techniques for slaying xenos, not only from personal experience but from the vast tracts of Chapter legend and lore that they can draw upon. A Kill-team led by a Deathwatch Chaplain will plunge into the fires of hell and emerge victorious no matter the price.
Typical Chaplain Uniform Variations
Black is the official colour for all Chaplains' Power Armour both by tradition and as outlined in the Codex Astartes. However, over the millennia of the Age of the Imperium, Space Marine Chapters often incorporated their own colours and insignia into a Chaplain's armour, resulting in wide variations from the basic colour scheme.
Many of these changes come about as a result of a Chaplain repairing his armour from the available resources while on a campaign. Some modifications are later adopted permanently for all of the Chaplains within a given Chapter. Hybrid Power Armour schemes can also appear if the Chaplain dons archaic Power Armour patterns kept by the Chapter since the time of the Great Crusade or the Horus Heresy as a relic.
Of course, apart from the organisations they belong to, Chaplains themselves have a long lifespan, so there is plenty of time for them to stamp their own personality on their armour.
Litanies of Battle
Space Marine Chaplains are exemplars of righteous wrath. Powerful orators and accomplished warriors both, they provide bellicose counsel to their comrades and act as spiritual bastions for their Chapter. The litanies that Chaplains intone on the battlefield imbue those around them with fresh determination and martial fury.
- Litany of Faith - The Chaplain exhorts his charges to steel themselves against even the most dangerous weapons the enemy can bring to bear.
- Catechism of Fire - The Chaplain calls upon his brothers to unleash a relentless storm of close-range firepower.
- Exhortation of Rage - The Chaplain bellows his fury at the enemy, his brothers surging forwards to strike them down in close combat.
- Mantra of Strength- The Chaplain focuses his mind on the purity of the blood that runs through his veins, bestowed upon him by the Primarch himself, granting him newfound potency in melee combat.
- Recitation of Focus - The Chaplain recites creeds that focus the minds of his brothers to ensure their shots strike true.
- Canticle of Hate - Bellowing his hatred of the foe, the Chaplain leads his brothers in the wholesale destruction of the enemy.
The Codex Astartes lists the standard equipment usable by a Space Marine Chaplain as including, but not limited to:
- Power Armour with Vox communicator, respirator, built-in Cogitator and Auto-senses, Augur and Auspex sensor arrays
- Skull Helm
- Crozius Arcanum
- Astartes Combat Knife
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Bolter (As replacement for Bolt Pistol)
- Chainsword (Optional)
- Plasma Pistol (Optional)
- Grav-pistol (Optional)
- Power Sword (Optional)
- Power Fist (As replacement for Bolt Pistol)
- Terminator Armour (as replacement for Power Armour, Bolt Pistol and Frag and Krak Grenades)
- Storm Bolter (if wearing Terminator Armour)
- Combi-flamer, -melta, -plasma or -grav (as replacement for Storm Bolter when in Terminator Armour)
- Jump Pack (Optional for combat drop)
Some Chapters allow their Chaplains to carry a variety of close combat and heavy weaponry as well as grenades.
- Mark X Tacticus Power Armour
- Skull Helm
- Crozius Arcanum
- Absolvor Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
Chaplains and Vehicles
A Chaplain will often be needed at many points on the battlefield. He must serve as an inspiration for his company's squads, check on the purity of action of those in his care and carry out a hundred other duties.
Units frequently assign Rhino armoured personnel carriers or Land Raiders to their Chaplains to allow them swift and safe passage across the battlefield to wherever their ministrations are most needed.
Where possible, these vehicles are painted in the Chaplaincy colours of black and marked by a skull insignia, although line vehicles in the Chapter colours are also issued.
Chapter Chaplain Variants
|Legion or Chapter||Loyalty||Honourific or Title||Summary||Image|
|Dark Angels||Loyalist||Interrogator-Chaplain||The Dark Angels Chapter and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters maintain "normal," Codex Astartes-compliant Chaplains for every company, but also created non-standard Chaplains known as Interrogator-Chaplains who possess a rank that stands above the company-level of organisation and who serve as members of the secretive Inner Circle of the Chapter. Interrogator-Chaplains are all entrusted with the secret of the Fallen Angels' existence and are tasked with tracking down each of these ancient Traitor Marines and compelling them to repent their sins against the Emperor. This is a process that usually involves the use of torture and physical coercion so Interrogator-Chaplains are often hard men with the vaguely sinister mien held by their counterparts amongst the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus. Those Fallen Angels who confess their crime and repent are given swift, painless deaths as a mercy; those who refuse are forced to undergo a horrific penance of pain leading to their execution at the hands of the Interrogator-Chaplains.|
|Executioners||Loyalist||Death-Speaker||A Death-Speaker is a specialist officer unique to the Executioners Chapter. They serve in a spiritual role similar to that of the Space Marine Chaplain commonly found in Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters. It is the Death-Speakers' task to recount the slaughter-tallies of the Chapter's honoured dead during holy feasts and memorial ceremonies held deep within the catacombs of their fortress-monastery, the Darkenvault. Their second but equally important task is to keep order within the ranks of this often fractious Chapter. Consequently, the Executioners maintain an unusually high number of Chaplains, with three Death-Speakers assigned to each company by tradition. They report to the overall Reclusiarch, known within the Chapter as the Lord Speaker of the Dead. As part of their duties, the Death-Speakers are responsible for maintaining precise records of the Chapter's battles, so that lessons of both victories and defeats are never lost for future warriors of the Chapter.|
|Iron Hands||Loyalist||Iron Father||The Iron Hands Chapter does not have Chaplains but instead a rank of specialist officers known as Iron Fathers who combine the roles of the Chaplain, Techmarine and Apothecary in Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters into one. They are trained on Mars by the Adeptus Mechanicus and believe deeply in the doctrines of the Cult of the Machine rather than the Imperial Cult. As a result of this belief that the Emperor is actually just one aspect of the Mechanicum's Omnissiah, the Ecclesiarchy refuses to provide the Iron Fathers with Rosarii, as these holy symbols are intended to be a sign of a common faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind, a faith that the Iron Fathers do not truly share in the Ecclesiarchy's view, who see these Astartes as heretical much like their allies in the Mechanicum.|
|Blood Angels||Loyalist||Chaplain||The Chaplains of the Blood Angels Chapter and their Successor Chapters have a special duty: to care for those members of the Chapter who succumbed to the Flaws of Sanguinius, including the Black Rage and the Red Thirst. Only Blood Angel Chaplains are still able to communicate with those battle-brothers who are lost to the Black Rage and so they lead these unfortunates in the Blood Angels' and their Successor Chapters' feared Death Companies. They are also believed to care for those members of the Chapter who must be locked away for their own and others' safety on the Blood Angels' homeworld of Baal.|
|Space Wolves||Loyalist||Wolf Priest||Within the non-standard Space Wolves Chapter, the Wolf Priests take on the roles of both the Chaplains and Apothecaries found in other Chapters. Wolf Priests are intended to care for the spiritual and physical needs of their battle-brothers, but their most important duties are to oversee the recruitment, indoctrination and implantation of new Space Wolves Neophytes so that the Chapter's Great Companies can continue to flourish. As a result of these duties, several Wolf Priests can always be found traveling across the Death World of Fenris where the Chapter makes its home, going from village to village to observe the native Fenrisians and determine which of their warriors has the strength, courage and spirit required to become a new Space Wolf.|
|Word Bearers||Traitor||Dark Apostle||The Astartes of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion are the only remaining Chaos Space Marines to still make use of Chaplains as spiritual leaders, albeit in this case, priests who serve Chaos Undivided. These Chaplains, called Dark Apostles, are skilled orators and propagandists for the Forces of Chaos and also the ultimate leaders of the Word Bearers as part of that Legion's ruling Dark Council since their Daemon Primarch Lorgar has remained in seclusion from the rest of the Legion since the end of the Horus Heresy and the Word Bearers' retreat into the Eye of Terror. Dark Apostles are powerful servants of Chaos who constantly scheme and plot to unleash the Forces of Chaos upon the Imperium and possess the ability to summon legions of daemons from the Immaterium to supplement their mortal troops. A Dark Apostle always wields his Chaos-corrupted Crozius Arcanum, now called an Accursed Crozius, which serves as a weapon, a symbol of his office and an implement for calling forth the powers and entities of the Warp.|
- Asmodai - Asmodai is a venerable Interrogator-Chaplain of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. At the present time, Asmodai is the oldest and most successful Interrogator-Chaplain within the ranks of the Dark Angels. He is totally single-minded in his determination to force any of the Fallen that come into his hands to repent. During his long career he has only been able to make two Fallen Angels repent of their sins. But those that fall into his capable hands cannot resist his finely honed and wicked craft, for it is said that his enemies would rather die than fall into his clutches.
- Carnarvon - High Chaplain Carnarvon is known as the Watcher of the Lost, the Flesh Tearer who commemorates every member of the Chapter who dies in combat or ultimately succumbs to the Black Rage. He alone bears the terrible responsibility to watch over the remaining 400 battle-brothers of the Flesh Tearers Chapter for the onset of the Black Rage. He has occupied this position for nearly 250 standard years and it is whispered by many that the strain of watching so many of his friends and comrades descend into this dreaded affliction has started to take its toll on his sanity. Carnarvon has the final word as to who is to be inducted into the Death Company and who amongst these afflicted brethren must be permanently incarcerated in the Tower of the Lost when they fall so far into madness that even he cannot control them.
- Ortan Cassius - Ortan Cassius is the senior Chaplain and Master of Sanctity of the Ultramarines Chapter of Space Marines. He is also the currently oldest active member of the Ultramarines Chapter not contained within the armoured chassis of a Dreadnought. Though Cassius is close to 400 standard years old, his sturdy presence on the Ultramarines' line of battle still fills the hearts of his younger brethren with pride and valour. A survivor of the First Tyrannic War, Chaplain Cassius fought alongside the Ultramarines Chapter Master Marneus Calgar against the monstrous Tyranids of Hive Fleet Behemoth. He barely survived the failed rescue attempt of the doomed 1st Company at the polar fortress of Macragge during that great conflict. Cassius was laid low by a rampaging Carnifex, and managed to sustain himself only through the application of his formidable will until such time that the Chapter's Apothecaries could tend his ruined body. He is now kept alive by extensive bionic enhancements and what little organic skin that remains on his body is gnarled and battle-scarred. His one remaining biological eye burns with unfulfilled vengeance against the Great Devourer.
- Grimaldus - Chaplain Grimaldus, the Hero of Helsreach, is the Reclusiarch of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter. Grimaldus is also a noted veteran of the Third War for Armageddon. During the Battle for Hive Helsreach, Grimaldus led the defence of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant, which had stood since Armageddon's colonisation. The battle became so heated that the building itself collapsed around the combatants. It was believed that all had perished in the building until Grimaldus, bloody but unbroken, climbed out of the rubble bearing three of the temple's artefacts -- a column from its Major Altar, the Banner of the Emperor Victorious, and holy water from the Stoup of Elucidation. Those Black Templars Apothecaries who examined him later were amazed that Grimaldus had survived, much less found the strength to climb from the ruins. When the war ended, the citizens of Hive Helsreach honoured him with the title of "Hero of Helsreach."
- Lemartes - Lemartes is a Space Marine Chaplain and the warden of the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter's infamous Death Company. Under his guidance, the Death Company has reached a new level of potency and lethality. Though Lemartes himself is afflicted by the accursed Black Rage, his formidable willpower has allowed him to remain in control of his actions, leaving him free to lead the Death Company in glorious charges that eclipse all the deeds of legend.
- Ulrik the Slayer - Ulrik the Slayer, also known as Grandfather Lupus and the Guardian of the Sons of Russ, is the Wolf High Priest of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter and is the oldest of all the Space Wolves other than the Chapter's Dreadnoughts. His great mane is white as the slopes of the continent of Asaheim on the Space Wolves' Chapter homeworld of Fenris. Ulrik is older even than the mighty Great Wolf Logan Grimnar, the Chapter Master of the Space Wolves who has fought in the name of the Emperor for over 700 Terran years.
- Xavier - Chaplain Xavier was the most legendary Reclusiarch (High Chaplain) of the Salamanders Space Marine Chapter, and was granted the honour of carrying one of the Chapter's most revered relics into battle, the great warhammer known as Vulkan's Sigil. Though long-deceased after being slain by the Dark Eldar on the world of Drykccna, Chaplain Xavier continues to inspire the Salamanders as they forge their way through the fires of war.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Dark Angels (8th Edition), pp. 30, 32, 79-81
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 64, 145
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pg. 82
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 46-47
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 43
- Codex: Blood Angels (4th Edition), pg. 8
- Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, Revised Codex)
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pg. 30
- Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition) (Revised Codex), pp. 65, 116, 118, 188
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 16, 27, 59, 65, 74, 76, 78-79, 129, 257-259, 286-289, 298-300
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 81, 165
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 58, 87
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), pg. 40
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 23, 50
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), pg. 29
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pp. 34, 39, 48, 76-77
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pg. 73
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 9, 69-70
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 106-109, 142-143
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 24, 26, 40-41, 50, 51, 56, 119, 127
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp.10, 19, 30, 42, 44, 46, 54, 57, 59-61, 78, 84-93, 99, 109, 171, 175
- Index Astartes I, "Blood Frenzy - The Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter"
- Index Astartes II, "For the Emperor - Space Marine Chaplains" & "Wolves of Fenris - The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter"
- Index Astartes III "Masters of Forbidden Knowledge - The Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion" & "Hand of Justice - The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- Index Astartes IV, "Dark Apostles - The Word Bearers Space Marine Legion"
- The Horus Heresy - Visions of Heresy: Book One (Art Book) by Alan Merrett, pp. 150-151
- Warhammer 40,000: Compendium, "Chaplains & Commissars," pp. 19-25
- Warhammer 40,000: Dataslate - Reclusiam Command Squad (Digital Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Index Astartes - Chaplains (Digital Edition)
- White Dwarf 311 (US), "Chosen of the Emperor" by Nick Kyme, pp. 22-23
- White Dwarf 291 (US), "Cult of the Machine God: Techmarines of the Adeptus Astartes", pp. 14-17
- White Dwarf 290 (US), "The Flesh Is Weak"
- White Dwarf 266 (UK), "Angels of Death", pg. 23
- White Dwarf 263 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Hands"
- White Dwarf 262 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Hand of Justice, The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- White Dwarf 249 (UK), pg. 7
- White Dwarf 227 (US), "Chapter Approved", pp. 73-80
- White Dwarf 208 (US), "Faith and Vengeance: Space Marine Chaplain Background and Tactics", pp. 78-86
- White Dwarf 158 (US), "Ragnar Blackmane, Njal Storm Caller & Ulrik The Slayer in Space Marine: Space Wolves", pp. 9-13
- White Dwarf 157 (US), "Space Wolf Army List: Space Marines Space Wolves", pp. 2-21
- White Dwarf 156 (US), "The Space Wolves", pp. 8-25
- White Dwarf 108 (US), "Chaplains and Commissars" by Bryan Ansell, Nigel Stillman and Mike Brunton
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Disciple (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Innocence Proves Nothing (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Iron Hands (Novel) by Jonathan Green
- Let the Galaxy Burn (Anthology), "Know Thine Enemy" by Gav Thorpe
- Sons of Fenris (Novel) by Lee Lighter
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Wrath of Iron (Novel) by Chris Wraight
|Primaris Space Marine Forces|
|Command||Primaris Captain • Primaris Lieutenant • Vanguard Lieutenant • Primaris Ancient|
|Specialists||Primaris Apothecary (Helix Adept) • Primaris Librarian • Vanguard Librarian • Primaris Chaplain|
|Battleline||Intercessor • Vanguard Infiltrator|
|Close Support||Inceptor • Reiver • Incursor|
|Fire Support||Hellblaster • Aggressor • Vanguard Eliminator • Vanguard Suppressor|
|Combat Walkers and Vehicles||Astraeus • Redemptor Dreadnought • Repulsor • Repulsor Executioner • Impulsor • Invictor Tactical Warsuit|