"I have looked across the frozen plains of Ynnen and seen the ghosts of ancient civilizations stir back to life to show what once was: their war machines, their marching ranks, their jagged, ugly cities. They are all sand and dust now, fallen long ago even before the light of the Emperor reached that benighted place, but even dust remembers when it was once a mountain. They must not rise again."
A Deathwatch Epistolary is a potent battle-psyker of the elite Deathwatch whose formidable powers were unlocked whilst completing a Vigil as a lower ranking Lexicanium. Often these elite Librarians return to the Deathwatch later in their lives in response to a personal request from a Watch Commander or to complete an unfinished matter they uncovered during their formative years. Sometimes they return to the Long Watch simply because they have come to believe the dire threat of the xenos deserves their special attention.
An Epistolary wields devastating powers, bestriding the battlefields with fire and wielding the powers of the elements themselves. As part of a Kill-team, their support is invaluable to combating the alien menace, especially against xenos psykers.
Often, the lowest-ranked Space Marine Librarians, known as Lexicaniums, commonly undertake a Vigil within the Deathwatch. It is rare, but not unknown, for individuals to unlock psychic powers through their experiences during their Vigil that raise them to the rank of Codicier or even Epistolary while still in the Watch. Other Librarians return to the Deathwatch later in their lives in response to a personal request from the Watch Commander, to finish some matter first unearthed in their formative years or simply because they have come to believe the threat of the alien deserves special attention. Such renowned individuals hold a high rank within the Deathwatch and are liable to be consulted on all major undertakings. Their powers of precognition offer an opportunity to rend the veil on the potential outcomes of certain missions and they have ways to uncover hidden knowledge that would be unreachable by other means.
As part of a Kill-team an Epistolary wields devastating powers capable of incinerating hordes of enemies and entire nests of aliens. He bestrides the battlefield with fire and wielding lightning with the power of an angry god. Few foes will stand before the coming of an Epistolary as their minds fill with terror and webs of confusion. Those few that can resist the psychic onslaught must face the terrible fury of the Epistolary’s Force Weapon, a blade blazing with the white-hot certainty of his own will. The most important call made for a Deathwatch Epistolary is to take the field against xenos psykers. Many alien species encountered by Deathwatch Kill-teams boast Warp-dabblers and sorcerers of varying talent that make pacts and sell themselves willingly to the Ruinous Powers.
Others, like the Aeldari, have their own esoteric methods to shape the Warp to their will. Yet others have innate psychic powers that can render them immune to conventional weaponry, dominate or stupefy even the superhuman Space Marines. All of these and more represent dire threats to an unprepared Kill-team without psyker support. A Librarian can warn of such perils before they are encountered, or at least in time to act against them decisively with targeted attacks.
An Epistolary can overcome the most potent alien psyker coven or protect his Battle-Brothers from an overwhelming psychic miasma. With an Epistolary present, a battle is fought on two planes -- both the physical and psychic -- and Librarians are specially equipped for this task. Their awesome powers are channelled through the conductive wiring of a Psychic Hood, a piece of wargear linked directly into the Librarian's brain. The Psychic Hood extends the wearer’s consciousness so that he can "feel" manipulation of the local Warpspace and counteract it. Augmetic crystals in the psychic hood help him to focus and enhance his strength in the battle of wills that follows. With their psychic defences stripped away, aliens easily fall prey to conventional Kill-team tactics.
Time spent in the Deathwatch offers a Librarian a unique opportunity to learn about alien psykers and to study their methods for manipulating the Empyrean. A Deathwatch Epistolary is deeply knowledgeable about such matters, a veteran of many encounters with not just xenos creatures but their artefacts and structures too. The reading of xenos minds, while distasteful, is acknowledged as an unpleasant art form in its own right that can expose their murky web of motivations and alien thought processes to a full examination by human logic.
Deathwatch Librarians excel at countering and combating xenos pykers and alien witches, subverting their powers and breaking their will with a single thought. By the time a Battle-Brother attains the rank of Epistolary he has become a true master of psychic warfare and has learnt well the strengths and weaknesses of the alien mind and how best to exploit them. Psychometry, the art of object reading, opens insights into the operation and purpose of things made by alien hands (or their equivalent) even long past their race's extinction. On many occasions an Epistolary's examination of past relics has prevented future disasters by correctly predicting the resurgence of an alien threat at a specific site or by revealing a key weakness that can be used to bring about their doom.
Such prolonged exposure to xenos also places particularly stringent demands on an Epistolary. The gradual insinuation of alien thoughts and concepts into the Librarian’s mind is an ever-present peril that must be guarded against. Every piece of knowledge won can bring with it the seeds of potential destruction in the form of a memetic trap or a psychic poison. Any psychic contact with an alien mind, living or dead, can bring with it a subtle corruption, a tiny chink in the Epistolary’s mental armour that opens him to further attack. Against these perils the Epistolary must match the power of his will and he must maintain a blinkered mind always closed to new concepts and alien designs. He must master his own mind and know it always to be his own, uninfluenced and pure to the end.
Optional Deathwatch Epistolary Wargear
- Storm Bolter
- Combi-weapons such as a Combi-Flamer, Combi-melta or Combi-plasma pistol
- Plasma Pistol
- Storm Shield
Notable Deathwatch Epistolaries
- Epistolary Axineton - Epistolary Axineton is a Librarian of the White Consuls Chapter who has only recently come to serve in the Jericho Reach. Lean-featured, dark-haired, and possessing a grimly superior demeanour, Axineton is caustic and blunt to his peers. Never does he allow a flaw that he perceives rest unmentioned, nor a failing unpunished, and his manner has created a reputation for sneering arrogance and pedantry among some. Despite this, he is a warrior of unquestionable ability and a psyker of great power; a power that he can wield with the subtlety of a torturer’s razor or the brute force of an executioner’s axe. As a past veteran of war against the Tyranid menace, he has already provided valuable insight for his peers. Axineton has been fascinated by the secret nature of the Deathwatch’s mission in the Jericho Reach since learning of it, and his hungry mind has devoured all he can of the lore and history of the Omega Vault. He is a constant, but often silent, presence during gatherings of the Chamber of Vigilance, sometimes speaking only to condemn.
- Epistolary Sabazius - The archives of the Deathwatch record that Brother Sabazius had served as a Librarian in the Exorcists Chapter for almost a century when he was dispatched by his Chapter Master to fight alongside an Inquisition mission to scour a xenophage cult that had taken hold amongst the nobility of the pleasure world of Leucosia. The legends of that world still recount the day the vengeful Librarian and his Battle-Brothers descended from the pristine skies upon pillars of fire to deliver judgement upon the fallen. So effective was that operation that millennia later, Leucosia is counted as amongst the most pious of shrine worlds, entirely dedicated to the purest of the Emperor’s saints. It was during this operation that Sabazius drew the attention of members of the Ordo Xenos, and a decade later he answered the call to stand a vigil of the Long Watch at Watch Fortress Erioch. Epistolary Sabazius was gifted with several psychic abilities counted as rare amongst battle psykers, not least of which was the ability to discern the soul of an enemy in the great beyond, and to assault it directly with powers unleashed by his own spirit. Thus Sabazius was able to bear witness to the soul-death of his foes directly, and it was this aspect of his powers that led him to the conclusion that the beast of Andronicus Prime was not myriad foes, but a single entity. The deed for which Epistolary Sabazius shall forever be known is the moment he mustered those Battle-Brothers nearest to him and led them into the infernal depths of the crater made by the concentrated lance strike of the Deathwatch assault fleet. Reports indicate that Sabazius looked about him, saw into the very souls of those that had answered his call, and in an instant judged them equal to the task he was to set them. Before any others could intervene or join them at the crater’s lip, Sabazius simply stepped forth into the superheated updraft and was gone. Seconds later, the Battle-Brothers who had answered his call followed his example and were gone, their fate unknown. Whatever transpired within the mantle of Andronicus Prime, it must surely have been a battle to equal the greatest legends of the Adeptus Astartes, a battle for which the name of Epistolary Sabazius shall be recalled for all time in the annals of the Deathwatch of the Jericho Reach.
- Epistolary Zadkiel - Epistolary Zadkiel is a powerful and honoured Librarian of the Dark Angels Chapter, seconded to the Deathwatch and a prominent leader in the Acheros Salient. His potent psychic abilities have banished Daemons without number, shrieking back into the Warp, and his force staff has reaped a bloody tally against the heretic hordes of the Cellebos Warzone. Known to possess an aloof and proud mien, Zadkiel is rarely forthcoming on his past, but there are a few facts known to his Battle-Brothers in the Deathwatch. As a young Lexicanium, Zadkiel studied under the Dark Angels Grand Master of Librarians, no less a personage than Ezekiel himself. Zadkiel proved himself under his tutor’s strict training, and swiftly ascended the ranks of the Librarium. In time, Zadkiel earned the right to be examined by Ezekiel for induction into the mysterious Inner Circle of the Dark Angels. Ezekiel dispatched his former student to fight alongside the elite 1st Company of the Deathwing for a number of years. Zadkiel once more excelled, honing his own battle skills and developing a talent not unlike that of his teacher–an ability to read the tides of war and predict the flow of strategy with uncanny precision. Once, Zadkiel even crossed blades with the enigmatic Fallen, Cypher during the Battle of Screams, an encounter that left the Librarian with a bionic eye and a bitter heart. Zadkiel’s accomplishments during one notable campaign earned him a special honour, and the Grand Master of the Deathwing himself granted Zadkiel the right to bear Deathwing heraldry upon his armour from that moment forward. The Librarian regularly assists Kill-teams with strategic and tactical planning for missions in the Acheros Salient, and Zadkiel has led a number of assaults upon key Chaos Space Marine leaders in the Blood Trinity region. Zadkiel regularly meets with Space Marines seconded to the Deathwatch from Successor Chapters of the Dark Angels, and he has built a rapport with many of these Space Marines who are so far from familiar surroundings.
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 336
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 114-117
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pg. 46
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 20-21