- "Kill aliens and Warp-spawned filth wherever you find them and in whatever circumstance you find them. There is no such thing as tolerance for such as them as far as the Emperor is concerned."
- — Excerpted from High Marshal Gerwald's Prayer of Repugnance
A High Marshal is the senior ranking Astartes of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter, and is equivalent to the Chapter Master of other Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters. The fighting skills of a High Marshal are unsurpassed within the Chapter, with all weapons available within the Chapter's Armouries.
The High Marshal is the supreme commander of the Black Templars' multiple, ongoing Imperial Crusades, and it is his duty to keep track of their overall progress and make tactical decisions in regards to the deployment of the Chapter's forces. Occasionally he will bless certain Crusades of particular import with his inspirational presence.
The High Marshal is one of the most autonomous military commanders in the Imperium of Man, decreeing by his own designs where his warriors will fight without recourse to the dictates of the High Lords of Terra.
Amongst the ranks of zealous warriors of the eternally crusading Black Templars Chapter is one individual whose prowess and might as the Chapter's penultimate warrior is unsurpassed. This individual is the High Marshal, the senior ranking Astartes of the Black Templars and a warrior with centuries of experience in the crucible of battle.
The fighting skills of a High Marshal are unsurpassed with Bolters, blades or bare hands, as his rank speaks of a bloody past littered with the devastated enemies of the most terrifying and inhuman sort. However, it is not enough for the High Marshal to be the Chapter's foremost warrior, for he must also be a superb tactician and strategist, grounded in the teachings of those who have gone before him and honed through countless decisions made in the heat of battle. He is also steeped in the lore of the Black Templars, privy to all of the Chapter's secrets.
The traditional rank of High Marshal heralds to the bygone era of the 31st Millennium, when the Chapter's founder Sigismund, the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion, was chosen by his Primarch Rogal Dorn to serve as the first High Marshal of the newly created Black Templars Chapter during the Second Founding after the end of the Horus Heresy. The Chapter took upon themselves the black and white panoply of Sigismund's personal heraldry.
As Sigismund had been chosen as the first Emperor's Champion for his fervent faith in the Emperor and his undying devotion to Mankind, those zealous warriors who became Black Templars sought to emulate their former First Captain's heroic example. Seeing the strife that beset the Legiones Astartes during the days of the Second Founding, he determined that a gesture of supreme faith in the Reformation of the Imperium was needed.
As High Marshal of the Black Templars, Sigismund swore a mighty oath that upon leaving Terra, he would prove his loyalty, never resting in the prosecution of his duties against the enemies of the Emperor. It is an oath that every subsequent High Marshal has renewed, and so the greatest and longest Space Marine Crusade in Imperial history was begun, a Crusade that has continued unbroken for ten thousand Terran years.
The Black Templars chose not to adhere to the Codex Astartes and, following the oath of Sigismund, the Chapter embarked upon its Eternal Crusade, eschewing the idea of a homeworld and living aboard their Crusade fleets, made up of dozens of Battle Barges, Strike Cruisers and other spacecraft such as training vessels and gigantic Forge Ships which produce all of the Chapter's war materiel.
The High Marshal himself has his own Battle Barge, the Eternal Crusader, a huge vessel that is the spiritual home of the Chapter and contains its most sacred relics, chapels and reliquaries. It has been expanded and refitted many times over ten thousand standard years, with extra docking facilities for Escort ships, additional launch bays for shuttles and Thunderhawks, as well as accommodation for twice as many Space Marines as a normal Battle Barge. Given their fleet-based nature, the Black Templars are rarely assembled as a Chapter, but are instead divided into a number of Crusades under the command of an officer with the rank of Marshal. There are usually no more than three Crusades at any one time, though there are occasionally many more.
It falls to the High Marshal to oversee the progress of each of the Crusades, and he must uphold the honour of the Emperor and his Chapter. It is he and he alone who determines where the Black Templars' wrath will strike as well as the disposition of the Crusades forces that will carry out his will. Once the High Marshal has declared the Crusade and appointed those who will fight in the Emperor's name, he monitors its progress and will occasionally bless it with his inspirational presence.
Actively seeking out the foes of Mankind, the High Marshals continue their Chapter's time-honoured traditions, remaining true to the Emperor's original vision of the Great Crusade. The High Marshal is one of the most autonomous commanders in the Imperium, decreeing how and where his warriors will fight without the need to wait for the Imperium's ponderous bureaucracy to give direction.
The Black Templars' ongoing Eternal Crusade is of paramount importance to the High Marshal and nothing will stand between him and its continuation. Those with the ability to make contact with the Black Templars can of course petition the High Marshal for his aid, but the cause will need to be just indeed for a High Marshal to agree to send his warriors into battle at the behest of others.
Notable High Marshals
- High Marshal Helbrecht - Helbrecht is the current High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter. Helbrecht wields the Sword of the High Marshals, which was forged from the remnants of the sword of Rogal Dorn. In addition to being High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter, Helbrecht is the greatest naval commander in the Adeptus Astartes, and assumed command of all Space Marine warships during the Third War for Armageddon in 998.M41. Together with Admiral Parol of the Imperial Navy, Helbrecht held and eventually repulsed the numerically superior Ork fleet. Helbrecht was last seen departing Armageddon with Commissar Yarrick, hunting down the Space Hulk thought to be commanded by the Beast of Armageddon, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.
- High Marshal Kordhel - Korkhel was Helbrecht's immediate predecessor as High Marshal and was slain by a frenzied Chaos Champion of the Ruinous Powers in late 990.M41.
- High Marshal Ludoldus - Ludoldus was Kordhel's immediate predecessor and a legendary High Marshal of the Black Templars. His accomplishments were the stuff of Chapter legends. When Helbrecht was but a lowly Neophyte, he served under this venerable High Marshal during the Vinculus Crusade in 833.M41, playing witness to the dramatic events of that campaign.
- High Marshal Sigenandus - Sigenandus was the High Marshal of the Black Templars during the tumultuous era known as the Wars of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium. A fiercely vengeful warrior, High Marshal Sigenandus was amongst the most fearsome warriors ever to command the Black Templars. Upon declaration of a Crusade, whichever foe was to be fought was doomed from that moment onwards as there would be no mercy shown until every last remnant of the enemy was destroyed. Great was Sigenandus's rage after discovering the destruction of his Chapter's keeps in the Segmentum Solar by the traitorous High Lord Goge Vandire's fleets and, in retribution, in 378.M36, he gathered four Crusade fleets and set off towards Terra, and vengeance. The Black Templars, together with the Imperial Fists and two other Chapters, the Soul Drinkers and the zealous Fire Hawks, and elements of the Martian Skitarii, took the fight to Terra itself and laid siege to Vandire's Ecclesiarchal Palace. The Terran Crusade fell upon Vandire's forces like a thunderbolt, smashing into the deluded followers of the insane High Lord with terrifying fury. The siege of Vandire's palace lasted many months and, together with Chapter Master Lazerian of the Imperial Fists, Sigenandus fought his way towards Vandire's chambers. The two warriors fought side by side with their Thunder Hammers, crushing all before them. At battle's end, with Vandire dead at the hands of his own bodyguard, the Brides of the Emperor, High Marshal Sigenandus still burned with fury at the destruction of his Chapter's keeps and the scale of the High Lord's betrayal. Determined that none should escape his vengeance, High Marshal Sigenandus set off from Terra to hunt down all those who had broken faith with the Emperor. Worlds burned as his quest took him throughout the galaxy until his eventual death in 522.M36.
- High Marshal Bohemond - Bohemond was the High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter in the mid-32nd Millennium, and took part in the desperate battles against a massive Ork WAAAGH! that threatened the Throneworld of Terra itself during the War of the Beast. The Chapter Master of the Black Templars had a fell reputation as a headstrong and strong-willed commander. His Black Templars stood as a force apart from the rest of the Imperial Fists Successor Chapters. They claimed lineage from Rogal Dorn as did the rest, but they cleaved to their own code and practices. When the last surviving Imperial Fist, Captain Koorland, enacted the "Last Wall Protocol," Bohemond agreed to represent his Chapter. A council between the Successor Chapters was to be held in the Phall System. As the longest-serving Chapter Master of the Scions of Dorn Successor Chapters, he agreed to host the council meeting aboard the Battle Barge Abhorrence. Bohemond would later lead his Chapter in the attack by his fellow Scions of Dorn Successor Chapters against the greenskins' massive Attack Moon in orbit over Terra. In the battle's aftermath, a tense meeting was held between the Last Wall Chapter Masters and the Lord Commander of the Imperium, Udin Macht Udo. The outspoken High Marshal expressed his disdain for both the squabbling and weak-willed High Lords of Terra as well the Lord Commander. After the world of Ullanor Prime was identified as where The Beast and his massive WAAAGH! originated from, Bohemond was one of the central leaders who advocated and Imperial counter-strike in order to kill The Beast and wipe out the greenskins. He led his Chapter during the invasion of The Beast's capital world, upon the capital city of Gorkogrod, fighting alongside the returned Salamanders Primarch Vulkan. During this epic battle, the High Marshal always led from the forefront of the Astartes' advance, but constantly proved insubordinate to both Captain Koorland and even the Primarch. At his wit's end with the High Marshal's constant challenges to Koorland's leadership, Vulkan challenged the upstart Chapter Master that whoever could lift his massive Thunder Hammer, Doomtremor, would rightfully assume the mantle of Lord Commander of the Imperium. However, this was a ploy, as the mighty weapon was so heavy, that even an Astartes fully arrayed in Terminator Armour was unable to lift it. Both Bohemond and the Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists, Quesadra, proved unable to lift it. Koorland, however, along with the Chapter Master of the Fists Exemplar, Maximus Thane, and his squad of Astartes lifted the mighty weapon together and managed to launch the Primarch's hammer like a javelin. As Koorland had proved his willingness to work with others, not for individual glory, Vulkan declared Koorland as the best candidate for Lord Commander. During the final push on The Beast's temple-Gargant, Bohemond once again objected to following Koorland's leadership when he ordered the Astartes to evacuate and let Vulkan face The Beast alone, in accordance with the Primarch's wishes. Enraged by the High Marshal's callous disregard, he struck Bohemond to the ground. Chastised, the High Marshal remained on the ground, shamed before his fellow Scions of Dorn, until he eventually evacuated with all the rest.
- Artificer Power Armour- Artificer Armour is forged by master craftsmen and is even more ancient and ornate than a standard suit of Astartes Power Armour. It offers greater protection for a warrior than the standard marks of Space Marine battle-plate.
- Terminator Armour (Optional)
- Bolter (Optional)
- Iron Halo - This device is a symbol of achievement in the shape of a halo that is given to a Space Marine who shows exceptional initiative or bravery in battle. The Iron Halo emits a very strong gravitic Conversion Field around its wearer, which makes his armour even harder to pierce with enemy weapons. In addition, it provides its wearer with immense resilience to even the most potent weapons on the battlefield such as Lascannons and missiles of all varieties. The shield stands a good chance of deflecting many deadly projectiles that would otherwise slay even an Astartes with ease.
- Crusader Seals - Crusader seals are waxen or metallic tokens with vows of piety and Chapter blessings inscribed on hanging strips of parchment that are bestowed upon Space Marines of proven zeal and courage.
- Terminator Honours - Terminator Honours (commonly known as the Crux Terminatus) shows that a warrior has proven himself a superior combatant and has earned the right to wear Terminator Armour in battle.
- Frag Grenades and Krak Grenades
- Sword of the High Marshals - As a sign of his office, the current High Marshal wields the Sword of the High Marshals, which was forged from the remnants of the sword of the Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists Legion from which the Black Templars were spawned. According to legend, Dorn broke the sword across his knee after the Horus Heresy for failing to defend the Emperor of Mankind from Horus.
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 8, 14, 44
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 26-27
- Index Astartes II, "Righteous Zeal - The Black Templars Space Marine Chapter" by Graham McNeill
- White Dwarf Magazine 314 (UK), "Marshals of the Black Templars," pg. 102
- White Dwarf Magazine 311 (UK), "Chosen of the Emperor" by Nick Kyme, pg. 23
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Beast Arises (Series):
- Predator, Prey - The Beast Arises, Book 2 (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- The Emperor Expects - The Beast Arises, Book 3 (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Throneworld - The Beast Arises, Book 5 (Novel) by Guy Haley
- The Beast Must Die - The Beast Arises, Book 8 (Novel) by Gav Thorpe