"Take this as my blessing for when you go about your work. Is she not beautiful? She has been cleansed of her taint, and re-honed to serve the Adeptus Astartes far better than she did her old master. Take her now and remember our most sacred vow: suffer not the alien to live."
- — Forge Master Ecuman on presenting the blade Bloodcry to Watch Captain Karmal
A Deathwatch Forge Master is a Techmarine who has been seconded to the Deathwatch and has won sufficient renown to be raised to the honoured rank of Forge Master. A Forge Master oversees the manufacture and maintenance of Deathwatch armaments of all kinds in a particular Watch Fortress. A Forge Master must also deal with all manner of xenotech captured by Kill-teams on their missions, studying, categorising and determining its potential value or threat.
A Forge Master is commonly a close confidante of the Watch Commander and acts as a central cog in the functioning of the whole Watch Fortress and its associated Kill-teams. Whether in a Watch Fortress or out on a mission, the Forge Master's position is one of the gravest responsibility, for Kill-teams rely on the quality of the Forge Master's work in environments where a single faulty bolt round or inoperable Vox receiver could spell disaster.
To achieve the rank of Forge Master, the Techmarine must have demonstrated tremendous skill in the arts of the forge as well as the arts of war. Not all Techmarines show great affection towards xenos technology; indeed many find it repugnant in the extreme. This is seen as no barrier to them becoming a Forge Master; many Forge Masters are acerbic Imperial Puritans who vehemently hate all things alien. However, a Forge Master must grasp the tainted paths of xenos technology on some level so that they can ultimately dispose of its malevolence successfully.
Such xenotech may include anything from individual artefacts that can be returned to the Watch Fortress to monumental war engines that must be examined in situ on some alien world or starship. Working in concert with the Ordo Xenos, it is the Forge Master's lot to pass judgment on the artefacts he surveys. He must decide whether some element of the alien science he sees may be blessed by the Omnissiah despite its unfamiliar guise, or whether the foul taint of the xenos is so perniciously woven into an artefact’s very fabric that it must be destroyed.
The slow, often painstaking process of examination can take years of effort to determine the fate of a single artefact -- certain results can be the subject of great argument between individual Forge Masters. Over the millennia several pieces of “rediscovered” human technology derived from the study of xenotech have been incorporated into Deathwatch wargear and even into the munitions of the Imperium as a whole. However, some Forge Masters always remain sceptical and will only grudgingly accept any form of xenotech into their Armouries. More Radical Forge Masters are prepared to exploit new ideas without waiting for the results of a full investigation, incorporating xenotech into their own creations with little concern for the fears of others.
Each Watch Fortress incorporates extensive manufactoria for the production of weapons and armour. Within sweltering, flame-lit halls a lone Forge Master controls potentially hundreds of mono-task Servitors and artisan savants as they hammer relentlessly, shaping new weapons of war. Monstrous crucibles of molten metal swing silently overhead, ready to tip their glowing contents into moulds and formers. Sparks fly from electro-welders and grindstones as the work continues without cease. Not all Forge Masters are bound to a single Watch Fortress, and some travel endlessly between Watch Fortresses and Deathwatch space stations dispensing their knowledge, learning what they can from their fellows and assisting Kill-teams in the field. Whether in a Watch Fortress or out on a mission, the Forge Master's position is one of the gravest responsibility. Kill-teams rely extensively on the quality of the Forge Master's work in environments where a single dud bolt round or faulty Vox transceiver can bring disaster. The maintenance and supplication of Machine Spirits is a matter of the greatest import and the Forge Master maintains records of every piece of equipment under his charge, including the Techmarines assigned to maintain it and a history of past rituals undertaken to keep it functional.
The Tech-priests of Mars are masters of the secret and lost technical lore of the Imperium, harbouring a knowledge of machines and Machine Spirits long lost to the bulk of humanity. When a Techmarine is trained on Mars he gains some of this knowledge so that he might better serve his Chapter, though even such training is only the tip of the iceberg and the very beginning of technological understanding. A Forge Master has taken the next step and through long years of working with ancient weapons and armour has developed a knack and empathy with machines that allows him to use them in unexpected and interesting ways, coaxing abilities from archaic technology and stubborn Machine Spirits. By far the greatest joy of a Forge Master is in the crafting of magnificent armour and weapons for the Deathwatch.
While Servitors can wield hammers and stoke furnaces, and Techmarines can attend to the maintenance of guns and starships, it takes the touch of a true master of the Machine Cult to build something new. The Chainswords made by a Forge Master will cleave through the toughest alien flesh and the unquenchable fires of their Plasma Weapons burn forever hot and true. The most famous Forge Masters are often sought out by the greatest heroes of the Deathwatch, who desire a weapon worthy to carve a legend.
- Artificer Power Armour - A Techmarine's Power Armour is modified to accommodate their cybernetic enhancements and their backpacks are upgraded with several Servo-arms. Their armour is painted the rust red of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but their Chapter badge is retained and displayed on one of the shoulder plates, so as not to anger the armour's Machine Spirit.
- Servo-arm - Servo-arms are powerful manipulators tipped with crushing pincers, useful for field repairs and punishing enemies. Ports for these detachable appendages are installed at the shoulder, and the Battle-Brother’s armour must also be upgraded with more powerful gyro-stabilisers to use one effectively. A Servo-arm can lift one side of a Rhino APC to repair a broken tread link. A Servo-arm can extend up to 1.5 metres. The limb’s gripping mandibles allow the Techmarine to lift heavy objects or anchor himself in an emergency. Astartes Servo-arms are more than just repair tools, and make deadly weapons. Techmarines have also been known to use this powerful tool to crush the skulls of those enemies that come too close.
- Servo-Harness - Like a Servo-arm, a full Servo-Harness integrates with the Techmarine’s Power Armour and is controlled through the same cybernetic spinal interface that makes him one with his armour. Radiating from a boosted fusion backpack capable of powering them all, this cluster of auxiliary limbs aid in battlefield repairs as well as combat. The composition of each Servo-Harness is unique, customised with the tools most preferred by its owner for tending to Machine Spirits and laying waste to the God-Emperor’s enemies. Some bear only a few appendages, while others apeear like great spiders, possessing Servo-arms full of diagnostors, interface tines, drills, weapons, Plasma Cutters, and even more arcane elements that future inheritors of the harness may struggle to understand.
- Bolter - Techmarines make use of the standard ranged weapon of the Space Marines.
- Omnissian Power Axe (Astartes Pattern) - Often carried by Techmarines to show their devotion to the Omnissiah, this weapon has a long, staff-like body tipped with half of the circular Cog Mechanicum icon. The symbol forms a blade and is sheathed in a gravitic power field. Arcs of energy illuminate the ridged blade and light the skull’s eyes with a hungry glow, leaving little doubt that—even while covered with inscribed circuitry indicating its sacred nature—this religious icon is also a deadly weapon in a Space Marine’s powerful hands. The Ommnisian Axe also functions as a Combi-tool.
Notable Deathwatch Forge Masters
"That press is an affront to the machine spirits! Honour them the old fashioned way, with a hammer and the sweat of your brow."
- — Forge Master Greyweaver
- Iron Priest Harl Greyweaver - Harl Greyweaver is an Iron Priest of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter who has been seconded to the elite xenos-hunting Deathwatch. He has been the Forge Master of Watch Fortress Erioch since his predecessor answered a summons to serve the Achilus Crusade a decade ago. While the influence of Greyweaver’s time in the unorthodox halls of the Deathwatch shows in his Servo-Harness and other small deviations from the traditions of the Iron Priests of Fenris' Isles of Iron, he is not nearly as compliant with the teachings of Mars as many of the Techmarines who serve under him wish. The Iron Priest has adorned most of the fortress’ major workshops with icons of the Iron Wolf, and rivers of molten metal flow through his domain deep in the heart of Erioch. He is notoriously intolerant of other Chapter’s brands of tech-craft, but his efficacy in conjuring the tools of war is so great that no one has yet been able to oust him. His fervent hatred of alien technology puts him at frequent odds with the Crucible Resolviate and Inquisitor Quist. Every piece of xenotech adopted into the Deathwatch arsenal since his arrival has been done so only grudgingly.
- Deathwatch Forge Master Mac Zi Ven - Mac Zi Ven is a Techmarine of the Storm Wardens Space Marine Chapter and a devotee of the Cult Mechanicus who has shown the touch of a true master in the arts of technomancy. His humble beginnings among the warrior tribes of Sacris led him to view technology as truly touched with divinity. In the ranks of the Storm Wardens it soon became clear that Mac Zi was gifted and he was quickly raised to the rank of Techmarine. Some of his Battle-Brothers mutter that Mac Zi shows more respect to the Red Priests of Mars than to his own Chapter, but Mac Zi’s contributions of finely-crafted weapons and armour win him many friends. Mac Zi volunteered for the Deathwatch to satisfy his growing hunger for knowledge. Now in the foundries and catacombs of Watch Fortress Erioch he has access to a vast repository of data about both human and alien devices. He secretly views xeno-tech as only another tool for glorifying the Omnissiah, believing that any science can be turned to Mankind’s service once it is properly understood. Mac Zi has come to despise Harl Greyweaver for the old Iron Priest's disrespect of the Machine God and narrow-mindedness. If Greyweaver should somehow lose his position as Forge Master of Erioch, Mac Zi would be ready and willing to take his place.
- Iron Father Xerill - Xerill is an Iron Father of the Iron Hands Chapter who is currently seconded to the Deathwatch and has served as a Master of the Forge for close to eight Terran decades. He joined a handful of like-minded, inquisitive Deathwatch Space Marines that have been drawn back to the study of nearly-deserted Watch Stations, now known as the Dead Stations, and the ancient traces of knowledge and prophecy they contained. These few members have since dedicated their lives to finally unravelling the enigma of the Jericho Reach known as the Dark Pattern -- a series of mysterious events that continue to unfold, presaged in numerous ancient prophecies foretelling of great strife and darkness are coming to pass in this area of space. Thanks to their interest in the Dead Stations, their peers refer to them as the "Dead Cabal." Xerill was inducted into their ranks fifty standard years ago after he recovered a series of Eldar Spirit Stones. His passion for understanding and unlocking the knowledge contained within xenos artefacts drew the attention of Inquisitor Ramaeus, who had him reassigned to permanent detail on the Dead Stations Vigil. Since that time, Xerill has embraced the Dead Cabal and has dedicated his tenure with the Deathwatch to studying as many xenos artefacts as he can. He is especially fascinated by anything relating to the Necrons and has undertaken many missions based on the slightest inclination that there could be Necron activity involved.
- Deathwatch: Game Master's Kit (RPG), pp. 25-26
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 118-119, 238
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 20-21