- "Honour the fallen; speak their Rites of Passage with pride. Give respect unto the battle gear of the dead. Praise the bravery of the living with a loud, clear voice. Above all else, honour the Emperor and the Primarchs for their hand in our victory. I undertake to do this at battles’ end with reverence despite exhaustion and many wounds. It is my burden and my satisfaction to do so."
- — Deathwatch Chaplain Antieus at the Fallow Cross Massacre
A Deathwatch Chaplain is the spiritual leader of the Deathwatch who ministers to the spiritual well-being of their brother Space Marines in that Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. They are consummate warriors who lead from the front as awe-inspiring warrior-priests, engaging where the fight is fiercest and praising the Emperor through the destruction of His enemies. These individuals are the wisest and fiercest members of the Deathwatch, mighty heroes who have demonstrated their own enduring devotion and uncompromising zeal on countless occasions.
Not only are Deathwatch Chaplains fierce combatants, they are also dedicated scholars of the various traditions, histories and beliefs of a thousand different Space Marine Chapters. For it is their duty to minister to Battle-Brothers of other Chapters in the Deathwatch, many which have long-standing rivalries and past antagonisms.
Exposed to the constant terrors and threat of the xenos, 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.
Deathwatch Chaplains act in a similar role to the Chaplains of the Adeptus Astartes 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 known 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-Brother 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 service to the Emperor and those bound by their vows to the Deathwatch must be united more than most.
- Power Armour
- Skull Helm
- Crozius Arcanum
- Astartes Combat Knife or other combat accessory
- Bolt Pistol, Optional
- Plasma Pistol, Optional
- Power Sword
- Conversion Field
- Chainswords, Optional
Some Chapters allow their Chaplains to carry a variety of close combat and heavy weaponry as well as grenades.
Notable Deathwatch Chaplains
- "He is a straight, bright sword against the darkness. Duty and obedience are his only vices; no hubris, no ego, only a tireless drive and heartfelt devotion toward the duties of the Long Vigil and the ruin of the xenos."
- — Watch Commander Mordigael on Titus Strome
- Deathwatch Chaplain Ortan Cassius - Chaplain Cassius is exceptional even amongst the ranks of the Ultramarines. After learning many horrible truths over his tenure in the Deathwatch, he was discharged with full honours. The Chaplain returned to the Ultramarines Chapter, bringing back the secrets he had uncovered over the course of his Long Vigil. It was Ortan Cassius that led an Aquila Kill Team to Ghosar Quintus after the suspicious disappearance of Inquisitor Chaegryn, uncovering the Genestealer Cult that festered beneath the mining world’s surface. Since that fell discovery he has made it a personal crusade to prove the spirituality of Mankind superior to the perversion of religion that erupts before a Tyranid invasion. Over the centuries this quest has become an obsession, but one with a righteous and officially recognised cause – Chapter Master Calgar, at his mentor Cassius’ insistence, has reconfigured the Ultramarines to include a dedicated team of Tyranid Hunters. Known as the Tyrannic War Veterans, these battle-brothers weaponise every scrap of knowledge they and their leader Cassius have uncovered, whether in the Deathwatch or in the battles beyond it. Their unshakeable devotion to the cause, their boundless courage and their sheer expertise are critical elements in the fight to hold back the all-devouring hive fleets.
- Chaplain Jorge Martinez - Chaplain Martinez has become best known among the Battle-Brothers of Watch Fortress Erioch for his willingness to listen and offer sage advice. The Chaplain is believed to be over 400 standard years old -- clearly an established Veteran prior to his secondment to the Deathwatch. During his years of service within the Jericho Reach, he has consistently served as an advisor to the Watch Commander Mordigael. This has included consultation prior to and during numerous meetings with visiting Inquisitors. Chaplain Martinez has never been known to share any of the secrets revealed during these meetings. However, he has been known to issue assignments to Kill-teams, acting entirely upon his own authority. In several instances, he has even worked directly in the field with other Kill-teams, often acting in support of a team that had no knowledge of his actions. Watch Commander Mordigael has continued to seek out the Chaplain's counsel, which suggests to many Battle-Brothers that these missions may be taking place at Mordigael's indirect behest. In any case, the Chaplain clearly has the Watch Commander’s trust and respect as well as access to many of the Deathwatch’s secrets within the Jericho Reach.
- Deathwatch Chaplain Nolasco - Chaplain Nolasco of the Angels Sanguine was known in his time for the fiery zeal of his sermons, many of which he committed to parchment so that even millennia later they are still to be heard from the pulpits of Watch Fortress Erioch. The bulk of Nolasco’s sermons call upon the Battle-Brothers of the Deathwatch, and indeed the Adeptus Astartes at large, to draw strength from the example of the Primarch Sanguinius, who fell defending the greater cause embodied by the Emperor himself. Thus, Chaplain Nolasco held that a noble death in battle was both inevitable for a Space Marine, and preferable, the final moments of a Battle-Brother’s service exemplifying and summarising all he stood for in life. Though Nolasco fell when the being that had dominated Sovereign was slain by Watch Captain Aesalon, the deed for which he is most commonly remembered is the moment when he earthed the god-thing’s arcing power through his Crozius Arcanum. It is held amongst the Chaplains of Watch Fortress Erioch that only a weapon truly steeped in zeal and faith could withstand such an attack, and only a warrior equally blessed could bear it.
- Deathwatch Chaplain Titus Strome - Titus Strome embodies everything Watch Fortress Erioch stands for: unrelenting duty, unshakeable faith and an abiding hatred of all things alien. Like the fortress itself, Strome also has many secrets. Strome first came to Erioch as a Black Shield, his past history and Chapter expunged. From the outset, he made his every moment serve his duty to the Deathwatch, throwing himself into a cycle of training, fasting and prayer that caused some Battle-Brothers to question his sanity. Strome’s readiness was truly tested in his very first deployment when his Kill-team was caught in a xenos Heretek ambush on Meniscus. Battle-Brother Zarkus, the team-leader, was killed outright and every other member seriously wounded in the opening salvoes of the engagement. Despite his injuries, Strome protected the survivors by making a ferocious single-handed counterattack that destroyed the Heretek’s weapon-nest and scattered its crew. After extraction, Strome’s armour was found to carry over two hundred impact hits sustained in battle, fully a third of which had pierced the Ceramite and drawn blood. Even Space Marines are not immortal, and their gene-enhanced metabolisms can only survive so much harm. The Apothecaries did not expect Strome to live through such injuries and the Deathwatch Chaplain was called to give final unction. It was at this time, according to Strome, that his path became clear to him. The quiet strength and unwavering sense of righteousness of the Chaplain kindled within him a lust for life that returned him from the brink of death. Slowly, painfully, Strome recovered from his injuries and pushed against the limits of his endurance. As soon as he became fit for duty, Strome sought apprenticeship with the Chaplains and was accepted as an Acolyte. For many years Strome served under different Chaplains, being in effect reduced to a mere Novice learning catechisms and legends of the Long Vigil. He applied himself to every trial with fervour, winning the approval of every one of his masters before he was finally inducted into their ranks. When seen without the silvered death mask of a Chaplain, Strome’s face is thin and aesthetic, his eyes lighting with fanatic fervour whenever talk turns to xenos. Despite his cadaverous appearance, Strome is a masterful close-combat fighter capable of trading blows with an Ork Warboss or overthrowing a Carnifex -- just two of the feats to be found in his long list of battle honours.
- Deathwatch Chaplain Vigilant - The individual known as Brother Vigilant arrived in the final hours of 812.M41 to Watch Fortress Erioch aboard a badly damaged Inquisitorial courier vessel belonging to an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor who had departed only a month before on some urgent, unknown mission. The Inquisitor was nowhere to be found and the crew had died from void exposure or radiation sickness within a week of departure, leaving only a single clue as to what had brought the vessel to Erioch. A stasis-crypt was found within the courier's hold, containing a single Space Marine in a Sus-an Membrane-induced coma, clad in battle-scarred black warplate and clutching a Crozius Arcanum that had seen much use. Upon the nameless Battle-Brother’s awakening, Watch Commander Mordigael gathered the Chamber of Vigilance at the newcomer’s urgent request, to hear his case. Three days passed, as he explained himself and put his fate at the mercy of the Master of the Vigil. Whatever was said is sealed by agreement of the Master of the Vigil and the Inquisitor of the Chamber, never to be spoken of again, and the bearer of this news was granted leave to swear the Apocryphon Oath and begin a Vigil without end, taking the name Brother Vigilant in place of his own. However, instead of taking to the field immediately, Brother Vigilant spent three standard years in intense study, learning the many rites and rituals of the Deathwatch, before he emerged to do battle with the Emperor’s enemies, bearing once again the scarred and war-worn Crozius Arcanum he arrived with, having taken up the mantle of a Deathwatch Chaplain. At present, Brother Vigilant operates from Watch Station Andronicus, departing frequently with itinerant Kill-teams venturing deeper into space contested by the Tau.
- Codex: Deathwatch (7th Edition), pg. 22
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pg. 59
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 106-109, 142-143, 235
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pg. 39
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 78-79