"Yours shall be the glory. In triumph they shall call out your name. Yours shall be the burden. In defeat they shall cry out to you for succour. One Hundred Brothers shall be your blade to strike down the Emperor’s foes. Lead them forth with honour. Be worthy of the divine instrument entrusted to you. Deliver His Wrath unto thine enemies, and turn aside from all temptations. Do this and when you go before the Throne on your day of judgement you may hold your head high and say 'I did not fear to lead.'"
- — Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse III
A Deathwatch Watch Captain is a Veteran Space Marine officer of the Deathwatch who commands an entire company of Astartes composed of formidable Kill-teams. These charismatic heroes must be able to win the confidence and respect of their battle-brothers in both triumph and adversity.
A company of Deathwatch Space Marines can defeat seemingly insurmountable odds under their watch captain's command, the individual prowess of the battle-brothers magnified a hundredfold when coordinated by the ferocious tactical acumen of their leader.
Where the watch masters are the masterminds of their order, watch captains are its fiery swords. These heroes of the Imperium lead the Deathwatch into the thick of the fight, binding their Kill-teams together into armies of black-clad killers whose mission is the systematic annihilation of the enemy force.
Each watch captain is given jurisdiction over four Kill-teams, including their vehicles and the battle-brothers that attend them. It is the captain's duty to learn and understand the personalities and motivations of the Space Marines under his vigil. After all, every Kill-team boasts an array of radically different individuals hailing from all over the galaxy.
Without a guiding hand, the resultant clashes of culture and ideology could become a liability -- but with the guidance of a born leader, each team is forged into a weapon far greater than the sum of its parts.
No warrior reaches such esteemed heights without having proven himself in a dozen theatres of war. Many watch captains were once in command of a Space Marine company; amongst their number are Wolf Lords, Khans, Iron Fathers and luminaries from a hundred different Chapters. Some are promoted from within the Deathwatch, their conduct so exemplary they attain this rank within the Chapter.
Regardless of their history, they think of little else than how best to slay those forces that threaten the Imperium. They do so not only by launching pinpoint strikes, but also by conducting the resultant battles themselves.
Armed with an arsenal of specialist wargear, at close quarters they can fell the strongest xenos goliaths. The Watch Captains of the Deathwatch have seen alien horrors beyond number, and remained stoically defiant.
Adeptus Astartes company captains are superb leaders with a depth of experience excelled only by the Chapter Master himself. A Chapter's captains are inducted into the greatest secrets and mysteries of their order with the most binding and terrible oaths and when it is time for a new Chapter Master to be chosen he will most likely be elevated from amongst the ranks of the Chapter's captains.
When the time comes and they are nominated to be seconded to the Deathwatch, these captains dutifully set aside their own desires to remain with their company and undertake their Vigil with humility. The Deathwatch traditionally extends the rank of watch captain to a Space Marine company commander during his Vigil, but most captains entering the Watch refuse to accept such a lofty position until they have earned it.
Thus, the scarred hero of a thousand battles will accept a role in a Kill-team as a simple battle-brother under the command of an individual several standard centuries his junior until he feels he has learned the ropes.
There is wisdom behind such an approach, for a Deathwatch captain must learn how to fight a new kind of war, a shadow war against opponents on a dozen fronts where a single Kill-team must tip the balance.
The methods, tactics and targets of the Deathwatch are best learned in the field, and a Space Marine Captain will stand side-by-side with his battle-brothers to learn their way of battle before presuming to take command of them.
Watch captains are also raised from battle-brothers who have served in the ranks of the Kill-teams with great distinction and undertaken many Vigils in the Long Watch. A particularly skilled xenos-hunter may be called to duty with the Deathwatch repeatedly. Eventually such a renowned battle-brother may be afforded the honour of assuming the rank of watch captain and leading the Kill-teams he has fought as a part of for so long.
Indeed, such is the unique situation of the Deathwatch that there are multiple well-documented instances of specialist Space Marines, such as Librarians and Apothecaries, who have been promoted to the rank of watch captain, a thing unheard of in Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters.
Ultimately, the burden of command falls upon the shoulders of the battle-brother who is judged the most apt to bear it by his peers and superiors, regardless of his former role and Chapter of origin.
A watch captain has to be a remarkable individual. He must be a scholarly adept of the teachings within the Codex Astartes and show himself to be an astute tactician through the maelstrom of uncounted battles. He must be a diplomat and act as a representative of the Chapter to Imperial authorities. It is a position of tremendous responsibility to command a hundred of the Emperor's Space Marines.
The hammer blow delivered by a Space Marine company can devastate a battle zone or strike with pinpoint accuracy, and this decision is also the responsibility of the captain. Collateral damage may be inevitable, or even desirable; civilian casualties will often be unavoidable. Space Marines will not hesitate to sacrifice themselves in the cause of victory, but it falls to the captain to make the decision on when and where such sacrifices must be made.
A moment's hubris could bring about a disaster that decimates the company's ranks but every campaign demands boldness and an aggressive fighting spirit. The captain must weigh all of these factors as he plans for battle; the burden is his to bear alone.
It takes a resolute and often ruthless commander to command a Space Marine company in battle. The unflinching zeal of the battle-brothers is one of their greatest weapons and must be exploited to the fullest. As the enemy tires, Space Marines must relentlessly attack with redoubled fury. Foes in retreat must be mercilessly crushed and put to flight before they can regroup, their strongpoints eliminated, their defences bypassed.
A Space Marine captain will seize the initiative and keep it, orchestrating a rising crescendo of mayhem that shatters the enemy force into bewildered fragments fleeing from the battlefield. A Space Marine captain can win great glory for himself and his company, entering the annals of Chapter history as a celebrated hero.
A captain leads from the front, his words and deeds an inspiration to the mighty warriors at his command. Their individual prowess with blade and bolter is peerless, as it must be to command the respect of the Space Marines in their charge. Captains are often lionised by their battle-brothers in the company, and forge an unshakeable mutual bond of loyalty and trust across decades of war.
The demands on a Deathwatch captain are very different to those found in Space Marine Chapters. A Deathwatch captain is usually placed in charge of several Kill-teams and given guidance on broad objectives by the Watch Commander. Beyond that and advice from Chaplains and Librarians, the watch captain sets his own missions and organises his Kill-teams appropriately. He is responsible for every detail of their recruitment, training, wargear and deployment.
It is also his solemn duty to record their deeds in battle and, where possible, to return the remains of a fallen battle-brother to their parent Chapter with all due honour. It is unlikely the watch captain will ever have a full 100 battle-brothers to command in the Deathwatch, and the handful of Space Marines available will always be widely scattered across the vast area under the scrutiny of a single watch fortress.
Instead the watch captain must learn how to best employ a changing roster of battle-brothers from different Chapters to assemble the most effective Kill-teams for the missions required. Much of the watch captain's time is occupied by endless analysis of data and closeted consultations with Librarians and Inquisitors in an attempt to determine when and where to intervene.
It is rare to have the luxury of planning campaigns in the Long Watch. All too often the watch captain is engaged in long-term triage against a series of alien threats across an entire sector of space. Precision strikes by Kill-teams to keep the enemy off-balance, often in collusion with the efforts of Ordo Xenos Inquisitors, and some subtle prodding of Imperial military forces in the right direction is commonly the best that can be achieved.
A watch captain will often take personal command of important missions, particularly ones that involve multiple Kill-teams or diverse objectives. A watch captain makes for a truly deadly opponent, but one armed with the ancient weaponry and forbidden wargear available to the Deathwatch is more terrible still. Under his deft control the most diverse Kill-teams work together with the smooth efficiency of a well-oiled bolter. Unconquerable fortresses and indestructible war machines are meat and drink to the fertile mind of a watch captain.
Even the strongest enemy forces are liable to be pulled apart and defeated at the hands of a watch captain's Kill-teams before they know they are under attack. When a major xenos threat is identified by a watch captain, his role is to formally warn nearby Imperial Commanders of the threat.
If the Imperial response proves weak or ineffective, it may then fall to the Deathwatch to intervene directly and put an end to the matter. The Deathwatch has access to weaponry that is the doom of worlds. Where conventional defences fail, a watch captain may have to sorrowfully order the complete destruction of a planet, potentially sacrificing innocent lives in their billions to protect other worlds in peril.
It is not unknown for Imperial Commanders to beg a watch captain to take command of their defences in the event of an alien invasion in hopes of saving their world from Exterminatus. A watch captain is a wise choice of supreme commander in such times as their skill and zeal will wring the very best out of even the most lackluster Planetary Defence Force.
It is also a pitiless choice, as a watch captain will not hesitate to turn the whole world into a charnel house for the invaders, a devastated war zone piled high with countless dead. Destroying the alien is the watch captain's primary objective; preservation of the world and its people is a secondary concern.
Such dreadful power is also a watch captain's greatest potential peril. A Space Marine's stalwart character is a proud and ferocious one as befits such a mighty warrior. But in these traits the seeds of his damnation can also be sown. Overweening pride can turn to hubris and narcissism; excessive ferocity can beget bloodlust and madness.
A watch captain can order whole worlds burned with a single word and entire populations slaughtered without fear of censure. The temptation to abuse such power, often with the purest of motivations, can be a seductive one. There is a certain grim hopelessness in Humanity's eternal battle against the alien, fighting an unwinnable war against a galaxy full of enemies.
The belief that the threat of the xenos must be attacked directly with every weapon available is a form of lurking madness that a watch captain must learn to always keep at bay. In truth, the adamantium protecting the flesh of a Deathwatch Captain is weak and brittle in comparison to the unbreakable steel to be found in his soul.
Optional Deathwatch Watch Captain Wargear
- Terminator Armour
- Storm Bolter
- Combi-weapon (Combi-flamer, Combi-melta or Combi-plasma gun)
- Close Combat Weapon ( Power Sword, Lightning Claw, Plasma Pistol, Storm Shield, Power Fist, Relic Blade or Thunder Hammer)
- Melta Bomb
- Digital Weapons
- Auxiliary Grenade Launcher
Notable Deathwatch Watch Captains
- Watch Captain Lestu Aesalon - Captain Aesalon is a battle-brother of the Raptors Chapter. The archives of Watch Fortress Erioch attend that Brother Lestu Aesalon was a veteran of at least three vigils of the Long Watch, though the records are unclear as to whether these were all served in the Jericho Reach or whether some were served elsewhere in the Imperium. He led Deathwatch Kill-team Sovereign-Sigman to the world of Sovereign that was held in thrall to an alien-god thing known as the Lord of Lightning. During the climactic confrontation with the foul xenos, Watch-Captain Aesalon cast his weapon into the maw of the alien god-thing, causing the creature to explode. When Aesalon finally regained consciousness sometime later, he found that all his fellow Kill-team members were deceased. He honoured his fallen brethren by ensuring their gene-seed returned to their respective Chapters, and that items from their wargear remained on Watch Fortress Erioch, as a palpable reminder of the duties the Deathwatch must undertake in the name of the Imperium. Of the Lord of Lightning, but one thing remained. A solid core of densest crystal, named the "Lightning Heart" by the Deathwatch, was recovered and carried back to Watch Fortress Erioch by Aesalon. This he placed within the strongest of reliquaries at the heart of the fortress, that the alien god-thing that subjugated an entire world should never be free to do so again.
- Watch Captain Artemis - Hailing from the Feral World of Posul, Artemis was once a savage and battle-hungry tribesman. His courage and ferocity was such that he became legendary upon his home planet, and his rivals hunted him to attempt to consume his body and thereby steal his strength. He killed them all in a frenzy of violence, but sustained several mortal wounds in return. He was snatched from the brink of death by the Mortifactors Chapter, however, and healed. After thirteen years of service as a Space Marine, he was judged so capable a warrior that he was seconded to the Deathwatch. Artemis commanded several Deathwatch Kill-teams against the K'nib in the Donorian Sector. This was done at the request of the Imperial Guard's Kaslon Regiment. Artemis personally slew the K'nib Alcayde and ended their attack upon Imperial space, even though the credit was given to the Guardsmen of the Kaslon Regiment. Since then he has saved the Polyglot System by uncovering and eradicating the Genestealer Cult that sought its domination, destroyed a nascent infestation of Enslavers by sending a barrage of cyclonic torpedoes to strike Tarrenhorst, and turned WAAAGH! Thrashfang upon itself. In the course of duty he has lost an eye, an arm, and dozens of trusted brothers -- though ultimately this has only increased his burning need to hunt and slay the alien wherever it lurks. He now possesses both an augmetic arm and a bionic eye with a bio-detection ability.
- Watch Captain Marius Avincus - Captain Avincus of the Ultramarines Chapter hails from a noble family on the world of Prandium in the Realm of Ultramar. He was recruited alongside his twin brother Gnaeus into the Ultramarines, where the twins served together for centuries. After more than three hundred standard years in service to the Ultramarines, the brothers faced a horror the likes of which none could imagine -- the Tyranids attacked Prandium. Gnaeus was slain, crushed by a Carnifex. Avincus was furious at what the Tyranids had done, and he was given the opportunity to strike back against them during the Battle of Macragge, where he fought valiantly amongst the Astartes of the 3rd Company, seeing many of his battle-brothers slain during the brutal tunnel fighting. He was amongst those survivors who were chosen to join the 1st Company as one of Chaplain Cassius’s Tyrannic War Veterans. Twelve years later, he was nominated for Deathwatch service, and he gladly swore the Apocryphon Oath in order to share his experiences with those outside the Ultramarines, to give them a fighting chance should the Tyranids return.
- Watch Captain Tarran Cearr - Tarran Cearr is a battle-brother from the Storm Wardens Chapter who is currently serving a vigil at Watch Fortress Erioch. Tarran is regarded as exceptionally brave or dangerously reckless depending on who gives the opinion. Cearr is an outgoing man whose brand of camaraderie involves a scathing wit that spares no one, and he has challenged nearly every battle-brother on Erioch to a friendly duel at least once. The exception to his good nature is Watch Captain Servais. The two have clashed time and again on matters of strategy, philosophy, and personality. The diametric opposition of their approaches to combat has been a wedge between the two ever since the Raven Guard warrior arrived in the Jericho Reach. While Tarran serves the mission of the Deathwatch with utmost gravity, he sees no reason not to use the assignment to further the interests of the Storm Wardens during his term of service.
- Watch Captain Esteban de Dominova - Esteban de Dominova hails from the Crimson Fists Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. De Dominova is an intense, laconic, sallow-faced battle-brother with pale, colourless eyes prone to brooding silences and piercing glares. Currently serving his fifth Vigil with the Jericho Reach Deathwatch, the Watch Captain is a highly respected Apothecary whose prowess in the operating theatre has reached near mythic proportions among the Kill-teams with which he has served. Indeed, many a battle-brother currently serving a vigil in the Jericho Reach owe their limbs, if not their very lives, to his quick thinking and sure hands. Along with his prodigious medical skills, and the usual finely-honed warrior abilities possessed by every battle-brother, Watch Captain de Dominova is also a noted xenobiologist who is known to work closely with the Ordo Xenos and the Adeptus Mechanicus' Magi Biologis in various capacities. Indeed, such are his skills that he has been entrusted with the rank of Watch Captain, forcing de Dominova to hang up the trademark Narthecium of his Apothecary specialisation, and don the mantle of command instead.
- Watch Captain Veen Durg - Watch Captain Durg has become particularly well known for his vigilance in the face of cultists and mutants within the Jericho Reach. Prior to joining the Deathwatch, Durg was a venerated Sergeant among the Red Scorpions, particularly known for his devotion to his Chapter's beliefs. Since his arrival, he has led over two hundred missions targeting planets which have suffered contamination from the Hadex Anomaly. Through the course of these endeavours, the Watch Captain has successfully eradicated more than two dozen mutant populations, cleansing their taint in the name of the God-Emperor. His hatred for the mutant and the Traitor are wielded without mercy. So extreme is his fury that at times his battle-brothers have had to stay his hand, so that they might resupply before undertaking further actions.
- Watch Captain Brand Mac Lir - Brand Mac Lir hailed originally from the Storm Wardens Chapter where he won fame during the Cleansing of Vigil. His experiences fighting the foul Slaugth kindled a desire in him to join the Deathwatch. His keen fervour and veteran tactical skills saw quick promotion for Brand -- by his third deployment, he lead a Kill-team, and was elected Watch Captain on his ninth Vigil. Brand can be a cautious leader at times because he is always wary of the tricks and traps of the enemy, but once battle is joined he is as ferocious and direct as any Space Marine. Brand’s Sacris Claymore Morwenna has reaped a tremendous toll of alien blood and ichor in deadly hand-to-hand combat.
- Watch Captain Mathias - For two standard centuries, Watch Captain Mathias of the Sons of Medusa Chapter has served the Deathwatch. From the battlefields of the Orpheus Salient to the dusty halls of long-lost Watch Stations, Mathias has devoted his service to the tenets of the Deathwatch and their guardianship of the Jericho Reach. Mathias came to the Deathwatch for what was to be only a decade-long assignment. Early during his tenure with the Long Watch, Mathias was assigned to guard Inquisitor Ramaeus during a tense encounter with a group of Aeldari said to have valuable information about the so-called Dark Pattern -- a series of mysterious events that continue to unfold within the Jericho Reach, presaged in numerous ancient prophecies foretelling of great strife and darkness coming to pass in that area of space. The recently-seconded battle-brother found himself fascinated by the enigmatic Inquisitor and her mysterious prophecies and after this encounter he devoted a great deal of time to studying all he could learn about them. The interest that Mathias displayed in researching the Dark Pattern drew the attention of Inquisitor Ramaeus, who approached the Space Marine and asked him to join her in her pursuit of answers. He has since joined a handful of like-minded, inquisitive Deathwatch Space Marines who 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. Thanks to their interest in the Dead Stations, their peers refer to them as the "Dead Cabal." After joining the Dead Cabal, Mathias quickly rose through the ranks of the Deathwatch, earning the rank of Watch Captain in only twenty years. He distinguished himself on the field of battle against all manner of xenos throughout the Jericho Reach. As one of the highest-ranking members of the Dead Cabal, Mathias has repeatedly used his influence and position to assist other members in securing artefacts and knowledge that the Inquisition and senior Deathwatch commanders would sooner see suppressed. He values this knowledge above any politics and despite any ill will he has gained, he remains a champion for the work of the Dead Cabal.
- Watch Captain Peratos - A noted Veteran of the Ultramarines 1st Company and a warrior said to have the ear of Marneus Calgar himself, Watch Captain Peratos was standing his third Vigil of the Long Watch when the unprecedented occurred -- some unknown force managed to infiltrate the nigh-impenetrable Watch Fortress Erioch. This incident occurred shortly after the discovery of the Jericho/Maw Warp Gate and long before the start of the Achilus Crusade. During the ensuing battle, the Watch-Captain and his Kill-team fought bravely throughout the entire battle, but it was in the final hour that Peratos and his battle-brothers truly earned their place in the annals of the Deathwatch of the Jericho Reach. When Watch Captain Peratos came face to face with the shape-shifting infiltrator in the outer chamber of the Watch Fortress's primary plasma exchanger, he and his entire Kill-team were martyred when Peratos unsealed the override valve of the plasma exchanger, flooding the chamber they were in with searing plasma. Peratos and his brethren were killed in an instant, as was the last of the infiltrators.
- Watch Captain Prascus - Captain Prascus of the Ultramarines Chapter is best remembered for building the first hunting grounds on Watch Fortress Erioch four hundred standard years ago. He became renowned for his skills in the selection and deployment of Kill-teams and is fondly remembered by the venerable Battle-Brother Arius Hyzeron. Arius can tell many tales of how Prascus’ teams somehow always balanced their members to create a dynamism that proved nigh unstoppable. Current Watch Commanders still use the term "Prascus Pair" to refer to a team of two Deathwatch battle-brothers that operate well together despite their differences.
- Watch Captain Ramiel - Captain Ramiel of the Dark Angels Chapter is currently serving the Long Vigil with the Deathwatch. Though he first volunteered for the duty, in truth, he had a hidden agenda in doing so, although his passion for smiting xenos was truly remarkable. Over a number of decades, Ramiel has pursued a Fallen who had presumably joined the Deathwatch under the guise of a Black Shield. For decades thereafter, Ramiel has spent years secretly investigating Watch Fortress Erioch's Deathwatch Chaplain Titus Strome, a former Black Shield of unknown provenance. Unable to confront Strome directly, he arranged for his gene-seed to be tested. However, before the matter could be resolved, Ramiel was called upon to lead a Kill-team on a special mission. Ramiel and his team disappeared after they were sent to re-establish contact with Watch Station Midael. No trace of them has been found since. Midael remains out of contact with the Deathwatch to this day and the secrets it might hold are still hidden.
- Watch Captain Andar Scarion - Andar Scarion is a member of the Astral Claws Space Marine Chapter who was seconded to the Jericho Reach to serve in the Deathwatch. His arrival was the cause of much controversy due to his Chapter's questionable actions in the decades before the outbreak of the Badab War. Nevertheless, Scarion was allowed to commence his Vigil with the Deathwatch and served for over five decades with honour, achieving the rank of Watch Captain. Like his Chapter Master Lufgt Huron, Scarion is a proud and ruthless warrior with a keen grasp of strategy and military politics, and has proven himself to be a valuable asset in liaising with the Achilus Crusade's officers. He expects the Kill-teams under his command to perform to the most exacting of standards and does not tolerate laxity, weakness or failure. As is common to many of his Chapter, Scarion regards non-Astartes with a mixture of scorn and pity, holding that the Astartes ideal is fundamentally superior to the frailty of the common run of humanity. He masks this arrogance well when political goals require it, but discards the façade when amongst other Astartes, seeing little issue with collateral damage amongst human allies whom he regards as inherently expendable.
- Watch Captain Servais - A battle-brother of the Raven Guard Chapter, Servais has been a part of the Deathwatch for less than a standard year. A master sniper and infiltrator, he and the Kill-teams under his auspices are frequently called on to perform or consult in targeted assassinations. His quiet, calculating mannerisms have isolated him from some of his battle-brothers, although he has never refused training to anyone who sought it from him. Servais speaks quietly, and prefers to analyze and evaluate before striking. Tarran Cearr's dislike of his tactics is entirely reciprocated, and the sniper constantly seeks to prove that forethought triumphs over frenzy. Servais can be difficult to get to know, but is intensely loyal to Watch Commander Mordigael, and indeed anyone -- Space Marine or not -- that makes the effort to pierce his withdrawn exterior.
- Watch Captain Kail Vibius - Kail Vibius is a Marines Errant battle-brother who serves as a Watch Captain in the Deathwatch. Vibius has a burning desire for vengeance against xenos, which has marked him out even amongst the alien-hunters of the Deathwatch. During the Corinth Crusade, Vibius and a squad of his fellow Marines Errant were captured by the vile Drukhari and taken into the Webway to the dark realm of Commorragh. Surviving the cruel treatment at the hands of his xenos captors, Vibius bided his time until he was able to seize the opportunity to escape, leading a slave revolt against his surprised masters. Eventually the Space Marines fought their way to freedom and returned to the Imperium. Vibius was nominated for the honour of representing his Chapter in the Deathwatch, and rose swiftly through the ranks until he led his own Kill-team. When his former commander, Captain Bron of the Dark Sons Chapter, was mortally wounded, he recommended Vibius be promoted to the rank of Watch Captain in his stead, a role he has held ever since.
- Codex: Deathwatch (7th Edition), pg. 34
- Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls (RPG), pp. 20, 139
- Deathwatch: Game Master's Kit (RPG), pp. 24, 26
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pg. 35
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pp. 38, 61
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 18-19, 76-77, 138
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 18-19
- Deathwatch: Rising Tempest (RPG), pp. 18, 129
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 126-129, 236