"Praise be to the Emperor's Chosen, his Champion sent in times of need. Read carefully the signs of his coming, bestow upon him all that he desires. Follow closely at his heels as he enters battle and the slaying begins. Mourn his passing when his task is done and then avenge his fall with righteous fury. For he is our morning star, the first glimmer of a new dawn against the darkness."
- — Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse XVIII
A Deathwatch Champion is amongst the mightiest and most feared warriors within the ranks of the Deathwatch. His skill at arms and panoply of armaments are the equal of anything a xenos monstrosity can bring forth.
Comparable to an Emperor's Champion, these mighty xenos-slayers fear nothing that the galaxy may throw at them, seeking out and challenging the mightiest alien foes in personal combat.
Those battle-brothers that perform mighty feats of arms may be elevated to this esteemed position by a Watch Captain in recognition of their deeds, though they are most commonly elevated to the status of Champion based on their longstanding courage and valour in the face of insurmountable odds and inevitable death, having emerged victorious time and time again.
Deathwatch Champions are amongst the mightiest of the Emperor's Chosen. A Deathwatch Champion fears no alien monstrosity or xenos death machine, his skills and armaments the equal of anything the foe can bring to bear. His coming is an inspiration to his battle-brothers and a terror to his enemies, as he is an all-destroying comet blazing across the battlefield in an arc of glory.
A Space Marine in the Deathwatch may be elevated to the status of Champion by several means. Most commonly the honour is bestowed by a Watch Captain in recognition of a mighty feat of arms in battle. However, Deathwatch Champions are also elevated on the strength of their longstanding courage and steadfastness, by the turn of the Emperor's Tarot or by common acclaim of their battle-brothers.
A battle-brother might already be long noted as being destined for great things, being a mighty hero of great renown. Or he might just as easily be a newly arrived Space Marine just beginning his Vigil and virtually unknown amongst the Deathwatch until he performs a feat so daring it demands the recognition of his peers.
Those that are elevated to become a Deathwatch Champion have access to the most sacred vestments of war brought forth from the deepest armour-vaults of a Watch Fortress to garb a newly-raised Champion. The most finely crafted power armour of ceramite and adamantium is fitted to their body and heavily laden with Purity Seals and inscriptions praising their ultimate progenitor -- the Emperor of Mankind.
Weapons of the most illustrious heritage are proffered for the Champion's selection, from ancient and deadly chainswords with glittering teeth of mica to flashing Thunder Hammers and Power Fists once wielded by great heroes of the past. It is the personal choice of the Champion himself of how he wants to fight.
Almost without exception they train and arm themselves for close combat. In order for them to be more proficient killers of the xenos, they are inundated with massive amounts of information about a host of different alien species and their specific vulnerabilities through redoubled sessions of hypno-indoctrination, in order to instill a subconscious understanding of their foes.
The finest combat masters of the Deathwatch will dedicate themselves to a Champion’s tutelage and their intensive instruction will include techniques drawn from the deepest mysteries of the Watch. The Seven Paths of Opening, for example, were learned from Officio Assassinorum operatives long ago and are only taught to a select few in greatest secrecy.
The Seven Paths are a series of devastating blows any one of which will cripple an opponent and leave them vulnerable to a follow-up attack. The Thirteen Ways of Ending is the result of centuries of study and teaches the Champion thirteen fatal points that will kill any even vaguely humanoid xenos in a single blow.
A Deathwatch Champion fights in concert with a select Kill-team commonly chosen from his comrades prior to his elevation. The Champion will seek out and destroy the strongest foes under the cover of his Kill-team, demoralising the enemy with his deadly skills and dominating the battlefield.
He will loudly proclaim his desire for the enemy to send their best to face him and will never refuse a challenge, no matter the odds. Few enemies can battle the Champion as an equal and lesser foes are despatched with contemptuous ease. With their Champion, other Space Marines become nigh unstoppable and their combined fury will shatter all but the stoutest defences. They will give no thought to retreat until the battle is won.
A Deathwatch Champion may fight on for solar decades in that guise, or endure for only a single engagement. It may be a Champion's destiny to participate in a righteous purgation of xenos races beneath a dozen alien suns or to eliminate a singly mighty foe of sufficient stature to change the course of a war. Few Champions survive to eventually rejoin the ranks of their Chapter and of those that do most bear terrible wounds.
Even through their death a Deathwatch Champion can serve a higher purpose. The Deathwatch will avenge a fallen Champion with a cold and dreadful determination. However strong the force needs to be more Kill-teams will be despatched to retrieve the Champion's gene-seed and wargear.
Should a fallen Champion prove truly unreachable through even the most determined efforts of his Battle-Brothers, then Kill-ships will follow. The Kill-ships will rain down their hellish payloads and transform the site of the Champion’s martyrdom into a funeral pyre of continental proportions.
- Artificer Armour
- Close Combat Weapon; options include a master-crafted Power Sword, Thunder Hammer, Chainsword or Force Sword
- Combat Shield
Notable Deathwatch Champions
- Deathwatch Champion Arrestus - The celebrated Champion Arrestus was an Astartes just beginning his Vigil and virtually unknown amongst the Deathwatch until his very first Kill-team mission. During this mission he killed a bull Vorasaur single-handed. In recognition of the performance of such a feat of daring, Arrestus was immediately elevated to the status of Champion by his peers.
- Deathwatch Champion Attalus Fellhand - Attalus Fellhand is another recent arrival to Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach. Attalus has won renown as a great slayer of Orks amongst his Battle-Brothers in the Space Wolves Chapter -- a tremendous accolade in a Chapter so well-known for its fierce love of hand-to-hand combat. He has been sent from the Space Wolves Great Company currently serving in the Orpheus Salient to learn the ways of Tyranid fighting at Erioch so that he can return and teach them to his Battle-Brothers. In truth, Attalus makes a poor student and a worse teacher, a fact he is painfully aware of and deeply worried about. Attalus covers his fear of failure with brash antagonism, much preferring to work out his frustrations in duels or challenges. He has gained a reputation for impulsiveness and disorderly conduct that has strained the nerves of the Chamber of Vigilance more than once. Unsurprisingly, Deathwatch Forge Master Harl Greyweaver is vociferous in support of his Chapter-Brother. Greyweaver insists that the "young-pup," as he calls him, will shape up with time. Watch Commander Mordrigael has struck a balance by assigning Attalus just about any Deathwatch mission involving even a scent of Tyranids. It is hoped that Attalus will be more successful at learning by doing in the company of Deathwatch Battle-Brothers knowledgeable in the ways of the Tyranid. As a side effect, the policy serves to keep the troublesome Attalus away from the fortress for lengthy periods of time.
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 104-105, 237