- "Yours is to heed the machine as others heed their kin. Tend to the war spirits all about, but do so in the knowledge that you do the Emperor’s duty. Without your ministrations, no bolt may be fired, and no enemy slain."
- — Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse III, Chapter CIV
A Deathwatch Techmarine is highly valued for the important role that he performs in the Deathwatch. A Techmarine's skills in the operation of machines and techno-arcana are an asset to the day-to-day operations of the Long Watch and the advanced technology the Deathwatch has access to within the Vaults at the heart of each Watch Fortress. These weapons and wargear are known to be more exotic than even the rare Conversion Beamer.
Many are unique, and all are sealed within the Vault at the heart of each Watch Fortress. Just as the Librarian has exclusive access to the reams of forbidden knowledge in each of these archives, so the Deathwatch Techmarine keeps his portion of the Vault sealed to all but his fellow Techmarines.
Schooled in the forbidden knowledge of the Omnissiah, Techmarines are individuals that displayed an affinity for the operation of machines as Aspirants. They undergo special trials and tests after their induction into their parent Chapter to discern their suitability to receive additional training under the auspices of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Upon their ascension to the status of a full Battle-Brother, those judged worthy are despatched to a Forge World of the Adeptus Mechanicus -- perhaps even to Mars itself, where they are inducted into the secrets of the Machine Cult.
Upon their eventual return to their Chapter, the Space Marine has learned not only the operation of all manner of machinery, but also how to convene with the Machine Spirits themselves, how to undertake repairs of aggrieved or wounded machines, and even how to construct new ones. This terrible knowledge weighs heavily upon the newly created Techmarine, and in many ways sets him apart from the ranks of his brothers. Yet, despite his induction into the most secret of arts, he is at his core, and shall always be, a Space Marine.
Due to their critical mission within their parent Chapter, and their scarcity, it is a rare thing for a Techmarine to take the Apocryphon Oath and serve a Vigil into the Deathwatch. Quite often, it is those freshly ordained Frater Astrotechnicus who shoulder this burden, as serving a Vigil grants them the opportunity to broaden their understanding of many technologies, both Imperial and xenos, and serve their Chapter that much more efficiently upon their return. While it is true that many Masters of the Forge and Chapter Masters are loath to grant their permission to their Techmarine brethren to serve in the Deathwatch, they also understand that it is a necessity to avoid technological stagnation or regression.
The most critical of a Deathwatch Techmarine's tasks is to operate, maintain, and, if necessary, repair the myriad of war machines used by the Astartes of the Long Watch. Every item of technology, from a simple round of Bolter ammunition to a Battle Barge, is revered as an instrument of the Emperor's divine will, and the Techmarine knows that to neglect such sacred technology is akin to dereliction of duty and blasphemy. After all, a Bolter not cleaned, oiled, blessed, and with its Machine Spirit beseeched can scarcely be expected to be reliable in battle and protect the life of its Astartes.
Techmarines oversee this maintenance process, guiding their Battle-Brothers in the correct and proper rituals by which the Machine Spirit of each and every weapon is appeased. On the battlefield, a Techmarine’s primary role is to effect repairs of damaged wargear, so that it may return to the fight. Each Techmarine carries a huge range of highly specialised and often arcane tools, sometimes mounted on a Servo-arm or at the end of a prehensile Mechadendrite. With these tools, the Techmarine can repair virtually any item of equipment, from an overheated Plasma Pistol to an immobilised Land Raider, provided that some spark of the Machine Spirit’s essence remains. Many battles have been won thanks to a Techmarine recovering a damaged weapon in this manner, and in their own way they are often vital to a mission’s success.
Although many of the weapons carried by Space Marines are wonders of technology beyond the dreams of normal men, there are some machines that are so exceptional that only a Techmarine may attend them. One of the most unusual of these is the Conversion Beamer, a rare weapon that works by converting matter to energy in a beam that becomes stronger the further it extends and the more matter is converted. It is only by the constant ministrations of a Techmarine that such a weapon can be utilised—should anyone else attempt to use the weapon, its Machine Spirit might become greatly angered and turn its ire upon the wielder instead. There are yet more weapons and items of equipment even more exotic than the Conversion Beamer. Many of these unique weapons are safely sealed within the confines of a Vault at the heart of each Watch Fortress.
The Deathwatch Techmarine keeps his portion of the Vault sealed to all but his fellow Techmarines. Unique weapons, the likes of which are thought to be unique in the galaxy, are kept sealed within the Watch Fortress Vault, their secrets impenetrable even to a senior Arch-Magos of the Mechanicus. In many cases, the Techmarines have only incomplete knowledge of their operation, and no understanding of their maintenance. Such weapons might be lost relics from the Dark Age of Technology, or the product of alien technologies long since vanished from the galaxy. Some are known to be capable of unleashing unprecedented levels of destruction, perhaps laying waste to entire cities in a single blast. Others are so poorly understood that their use would only be risked in the direst of circumstances, and it is the responsibility of the Deathwatch Techmarine to do so when called upon by his Watch Commander.
A final, and often critical role performed by Deathwatch Techmarines is the evaluation and, if deemed necessary, the retrieval of alien technology encountered in the field. In the first instance, a Techmarine must be able to ascertain whether alien machinery presents an immediate danger to the Kill-team, and if it does he must conceive a plan of action to neutralise or circumvent the threat. This is especially true when boarding alien spacecraft, for the team might be faced with a wholly alien environment, in which even the most innocuous looking item might prove to be a deadly weapon system. In the second instance, it is long-standing doctrine that, if possible, examples of alien technology should be recovered so they may be studied by the xenos-savants of the Inquisition. Such a task is dangerous in the extreme, but vital to the continued mission of the Deathwatch, and potentially the very survival of Mankind.
- Artificer Power Armour - A Deathwatch Techmarine's Power Armour is modified to accommodate their cybernetic enhancements and their backpacks are upgraded with several Servo-arms. His helmet is painted the rust red of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Cog Mechanicum is often displayed on one of his knee plates, but his parent 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 attached to the backpack of a Techmarine's Power Armour. As a result, 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 can also use this powerful tool to crush the skulls of those enemies that come too close.
- 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 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 Techmarines
- Deathwatch Techmarine Anaximan - A Techmarine of the Consecrators Chapter, Brother Anaximan was responsible for rendering battlefield repairs to the adamantium frame in which Brother Pardis was interred when it was crippled by the attacks of a number of the biomechanical constructs the fallen Mechanicus of Samech deployed to protect their ritual. Had the Techmarine not been able to affect his repairs, the Old One would undoubtedly have been slaughtered by the hideous monstrosities, a deed for which Brother Anaximan has been afforded due honour, although he too remains interred within the Reclusiam.
- Deathwatch Techmarine Orwell Domens - Watch Fortress Erioch has stood within the Jericho Reach for untold ages. Much of its technology has fallen into disrepair over that time, in spite of the concerted efforts of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Upon his assignment to the Deathwatch, Techmarine Domens immediately identified a number of the failing systems as consistent with artefacts that he had previously studied among his Chapter's many treasures. The majority of these were items identified through the course of Imperial Crusades, though many of these were known to be efforts that had occurred millennia apart and in dramatically different portions of the galaxy. Since his initial arrival, the Techmarine has managed to restore several of the Watch Fortress' previously inert systems to some degree of functionality. The long-term ramifications of these restorations remain unclear -- for it is entirely possible that he might have repaired some equipment in such a way that it no longer functions as originally intended. However, due to his high degree of aptitude with such archeotech, Techmarine Domens has worked closely with representatives of the Adeptus Mechanicus at the Watch Fortress, both in studying it and in analysing xenostech as it is recovered from fallen foes.
- Deathwatch Iron Priest Harl Greyweaver - Harl Greyweaver is an Iron Priest of the Space Wolves Chapter who has been seconded to the 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. 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.
- Deathwatch Techmarine Ixion - Ixion is an Techmarine of the Doom Eagles Chapter who has been seconded to the Deathwatch. Very little of the service of Brother Ixion is recorded, aside from the one deed for which he is known and honoured by the Forge of Watch Fortress Erioch. That moment is often described in the accounts of the battle against the Lord of Lightning as the moment when the Techmarine “swallowed lightning.” For most, this distinctly poetical description of events suffices to describe a deed that does not lend itself to rational explanation and, indeed, in the superstitious age of the Imperium few would see any need to explain it rationally. Many of those Adeptus Astartes inducted into the mysteries of the Cult Mechanicus, however, look upon the event very differently, regarding it as a genuine miracle. Although they understand it as a very real phenomenon, in that Brother Ixion took the power of the lightning through his electro-inductors into the potentia coil implanted within his body, what is unusual about this event is that he is hypothesised to have absorbed energy far in excess of what his inductors should have been capable. Thus, even when a technological basis exists for a supposed miracle, a supernatural element appears to be present. Some adherents of the Cult Mechanicus ascribe the event to the mysteries of the machine, others to the purity of purpose of Brother Ixion himself. Regardless of the subtleties of such debates, Techmarine Ixion is hailed as a figure of legend by many Deathwatch Techmarines in the Jericho Reach, his memory living on long after his death.
- Deathwatch Senior Techmarine MacKrentan - Senior Techmarine MacKrentan is an unpopular and radical member of Watch Fortress Erioch’s forges, this iconoclastic Techmarine is fascinated with xeno-tech, and will do everything in his power to collect these cursed items.
- Deathwatch Techmarine Nodens- The Techmarine Brother Nodens was called to the Long Watch a mere two decades after he was initiated into the ranks of the Battle-Brothers of his own Chapter, the Silver Skulls, making him highly unusual in that he served for the Deathwatch far longer than he served with his own brethren. Brother Nodens was called to take the Apocryphon Oath having defeated a fearsome Overlord of the xenos Cumbro Huth in hand to hand combat, a feat so unheard of that it came to the attention of members of the Ordo Xenos. The Inquisitors requested a council with the young Techmarine, and having heard his account of the action, formally petitioned the Silver Skulls Chapter Master to allow Nodens to take up the Long Watch. The Chapter Master agreed, and Nodens began his service in the Jericho Reach. Nodens is something of an orphan, honouring his Chapter and its traditions yet growing ever more bound to those of the Deathwatch. It is unusual, though not unheard of, for Battle-Brothers to come to regard the Deathwatch as their true home, and those that do must struggle against a gnawing sense of abandonment and guilt, existing fully in neither Chapter and only able to draw spiritual sustenance from the companionship of their fellow Kill-team members.
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 88-90
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pg. 43
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pp. 39, 69, 76
- Deathwatch: Rising Tempest (RPG), pg. 129