"Your fate is to know that which may not be known, to look into those places of darkness and desolation and know that horrors look back upon you. Speak not to your brothers of such things, but use the gifts you have been given, by the Emperor Himself, to blast and sear and rend and banish all those who would deny us our destiny."
- — Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse XXI, Chapter LXI (Appendix cii)
A Deathwatch Librarian is a powerful psyker who has been seconded to perform a Vigil with the elite xenos-hunting Deathwatch. These powerful individuals are Space Marines born with innate psychic abilities, able to wield the powers of the Warp against the foes of Mankind.
Deathwatch Librarians are selected primarily from members of three Space Marine Chapters -- the Blood Angels, the Blood Ravens and the Solar Hawks, due to the large numbers of psychically-gifted Battle-Brothers found among these Chapters.
Most of the Librarians called to serve in the Deathwatch hold the rank of Lexicanium, the most junior of the four ranks of the Space Marines' combat psykers. They are nonetheless warriors of fearsome ability and renown. However, a small number of higher-ranked Librarians do serve as the Watch Commanders' most valued counsellors.
Within their own Chapters, Librarians may have different titles and unique methods of utilising their powers. Librarians fulfil a number of roles within the Deathwatch. Chief amongst them is that of the combat psyker. By focusing his prodigious psychic powers, the Librarian is able to unleash withering blasts of searing Warp energy at his foe, reducing them to ashes with but a thought.
Often, the energies are directed and multiplied through the blade of a specially crafted weapon such as a Force Sword or Force Halberd, with which even the mightiest of foes will be cut down as wheat before the scythe. Death can be unleashed from afar as well, for the Librarian is able to project his powers at distant enemies, launching deadly bolts from a staff, an outstretched hand, or through his very gaze. Unlike conventional weapons, a Librarian’s wrath cannot be parried and does not run out of ammunition. The only limit on a Librarian’s powers is his own will, and this is as strong as any of the Imperium's mightiest heroes.
Librarians are also the guardians of the secrets of the Deathwatch. Within each Watch Fortress is to be found the sealed Vault which stores weapons and relics too dangerous to be allowed to fall into the hands of Mankind's enemies. Also within the Vault is an archive of forbidden knowledge. Not even the Watch Commander has access to these archives -- only the Librarians are entrusted with their access codes, and only they are judged strong enough to withstand the sanity-shattering secrets sealed within.
It is only in the direst of circumstances that a Librarian will enter a Watch Fortress' Vault archive, for each time he does so he is exposed to the whispering voices of long-dead alien beings, tempting him with the power to rule the whole of Humanity in the name of ancient and blasphemous gods. Nevertheless, so terrible are many of the horrors faced by the Deathwatch that the Librarian may be required to consult the archives in order to discover some previous record of an enemy's weakness. Such knowledge can spell the difference between a mission’s success and failure.
Another role carried out by a Watch Fortress' Librarians is that of providing the Watch Commander with counsel. Given their access to forbidden knowledge and their innate understanding of arcane matters, the word of a Librarian rarely goes unheeded in the Watch Commander's plans. In addition to this, many Librarians are gifted with some degree of prognostication -- whether by way of visions, meditation, consulting the Emperor's Tarot, or seeming intuition, Librarians can often discern something of what will come to pass.
Though such a premonition is rarely clear enough to provide complete certainty, it often provides clues that enable an experienced Librarian to make a sound judgement concerning potential dangers that may be faced in an upcoming mission, and to advise the Watch Captains accordingly. Often, the premonition focuses upon the actions of the Librarian himself, telling him that his own presence will be required if a mission is to succeed. Many Deathwatch Librarians have foreseen their own death at the hands of some alien monstrosity, and gone proudly and stoically to their fate, with certain knowledge that their death will sow the seed of their Battle-Brothers' victory.
Another task at which many Librarians excel is the sending of psychic messages. Many are skilled enough to send messages from the surface of a planet to a vessel in orbit, and more powerful Librarians might even be able to contact a fellow Librarian in another sector. Generally, the further the message is projected the less clear it becomes. However, in several cases, a Kill-team that has been considered to be lost has been recovered due to the efforts of a Librarian, who managed to invoke a simple insight from the mind of a Battle-Brother light years away.
Given the nature of some of the places into which the Deathwatch must go, such an ability is invaluable, and has saved the lives of many of Mankind's mightiest warriors. While many Deathwatch Librarians are, in effect, part of the Watch Commander's officer cadre and not permanently assigned to a single Kill-team, in reality most come to associate themselves with one group of warriors.
Such is the bond between the Battle-Brothers of a Kill-team that to separate them is to degrade their considerable combat effectiveness. Deathwatch Librarians are able to make a significant contribution to a Kill-team, lending their singular abilities to the eternal war against the alien horrors of the galaxy.
Optional Deathwatch Librarian Wargear
- Storm Bolter
- Combi-weapons, including Combi-flamer, Combi-melta or Combi-plasma gun
- Plasma Pistol
- Storm Shield
Notable Deathwatch Librarians
- Deathwatch Librarian Miguel Gricalo - In 753.M41, Codicier Gricalo undertook an extended mission to investigate the Watch Stations of the Dark Pattern. As most of these sites are near dead or uninhabited worlds, the motives behind their implementation remain uncertain. The Librarian was motivated to undertake the study due to a series of visions that he received consistently for two standard years before his quest. According to records made prior to his departure, the divinations consistently told of an impending crisis that might soon emerge from this region. Several of these reports were corroborated by other psykers who worked in concert with the Codicier at the time. Codicier Gricalo's Kill-team had enjoyed tremendous success prior to his departure. Its other members, as well as his Watch Captain, were all reluctant to see the Librarian depart on this extended solo mission. However, a missive from an unidentified member of the Inquisition provided motivation for the Watch Commander to directly order the psyker to embark upon his survey of the Watch Stations. There have been no confirmed reports from the Codicier since his departure. Routine surveys of the locations included in his route show no signs of his ever having arrived. His fate remains a mystery.
- Deathwatch Librarian Tyrannus - A Battle-Brother of the Knights of the Raven Chapter, who was engaged upon his third vigil of the Long Watch, Tyrannus was instrumental in the action to track down and corner the infiltrator within the plasma exchanger. A gifted wielder of the psychic arts, Tyrannus had been able to sense something of the enemy’s presence even when other Librarians had not. It is tragic indeed that Brother Tyrannus fell alongside his brethren, for otherwise he might have been able to pass on how he did so and something of the mystery of the whole event might have been dispelled. However he achieved it, it appears that the Librarian was only able to estimate the approximate coordinates of a nearby infiltrator, for when confronted with the infiltrator masquerading as a member of his own Kill-team, his powers were unable to distinguish one from another. Ultimately, it was the intuition of brotherhood that unveiled the intruder, when Watch Captain Peratos declared which was the enemy. Though his unusual power abandoned him at the end, Librarian Tyrannus saw the truth of the Watch Captain’s judgement, fully acceding to his subsequent order to unseal the plasma exchange.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Deathwatch (8th Edition), pg. 31
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 80-83
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pg. 67
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pg. 62