Chapter Command refers to those officers and specialists within a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter of the Space Marines who command the Chapter as a whole, its individual companies or directly protect or assist those who do.
A Space Marine Chapter is a highly sophisticated and efficient fighting machine. The impossible demands that each has to face -- gruelling attrition and numberless foes -- make being this way nothing less than essential.
To succeed, Chapters need impeccable leaders who breathe the arts of war and logistics.
Space Marine personnel generally considered part of a Chapter's command organisation and entitled to bear the skull-like command icon on their shoulder plates include the Chapter Master, the captain of each of the Chapter's companies, the two lieutenants who assist each company captain and often command demi-companies, the Chapter Champion and Company Champions, the Chapter and company Ancients, and other selected Chapter Veterans who comprise the Chapter Master's Honour Guard.
Chapter Masters command entire Chapters and are exemplary warriors. For centuries have they slain the foes of the Imperium, and countless campaign badges adorn their personal standards. They are some of Mankind's greatest heroes.
They appraise entire war zones with the merest glance, understanding every threat and opportunity that presents itself. The arrival of a Chapter Master to a planet afire with battle can turn an imminent, crushing defeat into a resounding, glorious victory.
Few in the Imperium have as much personal or political authority as a Chapter Master. At full strength their Chapter and its fleet can lay waste to entire star systems. Their homeworld, wittingly or otherwise, is theirs to command, and many enjoy the loyalty of planets and systems further afield.
Chapter Masters answer to almost no one in the Imperium of Man. They are petitioned for aid, rather than ordered to provide it, and of the many thousands of supplications a Chapter receives, it is the Chapter Master who decides which his warriors shall respond to. In this, he holds the power of life and death over entire systems.
Even in a war zone where multiple Chapters are fighting, it is only by choice that those involved follow the leadership of another Chapter.
Chapter Masters have access to some of the very finest wargear in the Imperium; many don armour and bear weapons millennia old. These ancient relics are sources of immense pride to the Chapter to which they belong, and such is the honour in even touching them, only Chapter Masters are permitted to use them in battle.
While most Chapters are led by a single individual serving as a Chapter Master -- and many may refer to him by a different title more in line with the specific culture, history and customs of a particular Chapter -- not all Chapters operate in this way.
The Sons of Medusa are led by a triumvirate of Iron Thanes rather than a single master. Conversely, the Iron Hands' Iron Council is its ultimate authority, with Kardan Stronos serving in the role of Chapter Master only for as long as the Iron Council deem him fit for the honoured duty of being the voice of the Chapter, though far from its ruler.
The Raven Guard have a clear Chapter Master figure in Kayvaan Shrike, but the Shadow Captains of the Chapter's companies by tradition have considerably more free rein to select which campaigns they fight, and how they do so, than their equivalents in many other Chapters.
A Chapter Master's role is supplemented by other officers whose roles exist outside of the formal Codex Astartes-prescribed company structure. These vary in role and title from Chapter to Chapter, but include such positions as the lord of the household, Chapter Master's secretarius, securitas primus and countless others.
Most Chapters have an Honour Guard, an elite cadre of warriors who answer to no one but the Chapter Master himself and have a multitude of functions. They are the Chapter Master's protectors, responsible for his security at all times, whether in council on their homeworld or in the raging inferno of war.
They also serve as advisors, drawing upon their long combat experience and wisdom to provide their liege with informed guidance. In this capacity they may also serve as naysayers, their task to challenge the decisions of the Chapter Master to prevent the rot of arrogance and complacency from taking the slightest toehold.
An Honour Guard might include a Chapter Champion -- a superlative warrior and living embodiment of all his Chapter's ideals. Very often the Honour Guard are responsible for the Chapter's standards and banners, with one of their number serving as the Chapter Ancient, a role often taken for individual companies banners by a similar Company Ancient. This task is a sacred one, borne with great gravitas.
How an Honour Guard is formed varies from Chapter to Chapter. For some it is a standing institution, its membership only changing as its members fall in battle or volunteer to resign their duties to return to the companies. Such self-demotion is a rare occurrence, but does happen in the event that a company suffers such severe casualties that it lacks experienced members.
Some of these Honour Guard have felt compelled to join the Chaplaincy, or to serve as an officer in the Scout Company where they can pass their experience on to the next generation of Astartes. These Honour Guards provide a formal link between Chapter Masters new and old, ensuring a continuity in the Chapter leadership.
In other Chapters the Chapter Master will select his own Honour Guard. These may be warriors he has fought alongside in battle after battle, or mentors whose knowledge and wisdom he greatly values. Some Chapters may have a combination of both, to best secure the advantages of each. Others will draw their Honour Guard from the Chapter's Veteran 1st Company.
Thanks to their esteemed position, the Honour Guard have rare access to their Chapter Armoury, and will often bear formidable relic weapons and wear magnificent, ornate Artificer Armour. Such artefacts have been borne into battle by hundreds of Chapter heroes, and with their choice of weapons each warrior is perfectly equipped to deal death to all but the most dangerous of foes.
- Codex: Space Marines (9th Edition), pp. 16, 18-19
|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 • Gladiator • Raider (Bike) • Invader ATV • Invictor Tactical Warsuit • Stormspeeder|