"Thus do we invoke the Machine God. Thus do we make whole that which was sundered."
- — From the Hymn of Reforging
The Master of the Forge is a Codex Astartes-compliant Space Marine Chapter's most senior Techmarine, charged with the maintenance of the Chapter's fleet of armoured fighting vehicles, such as Rhinos, Land Raiders and Predators. His knowledge of the arcane sciences has been refined over centuries of service, and rivals that of the senior Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars. The Master of the Forge is so skilled that he can tell what is wrong with a vehicle's Machine Spirit at but a glance. Keeper of his Chapter's most ancient and treasured arcane secrets, he is the only one with the required skills to rouse the most ancient Dreadnoughts from their slumber, or operate potent wargear whose origin predates that of his Chapter.
Such skills conspire to make the Master of the Forge something of an outcast in most Space Marine Chapters. Though he is always part of the Chapter Council, the Master of the Forge is an outsider to all save his subordinate Techmarines, whose company is shunned in all matters save those that pertain to his beloved mechanicals. In addition, to his Mechanicus "brethren", a Master of the Forge is often seen as the worst kind of Heretek, loyal to the Quest for Knowledge in name only, a warrior who does not hesitate to bend and adapt a Machine Spirit to his needs instead of carefully entreating and revering it as the Cult Mechanicus prescribes. While often excessive, there is a core of truth in the Mechanicus' accusations, for a Master of the Forge is first and formost a Space Marine, a warrior of the Emperor tasked with ensuring that the Astartes in his care always have the means to wage war at their disposal. Few Masters of the Forge hesitate to modify or even completely overhaul a weapon or vehicle to better fit their Chapter's need, to the dismay and outrage of the more conservative Tech-priests. New patterns of existing vehicles developed by a Master of the Forge are often grudgingly accepted and blessed by the Mechanicus only after painstakingly slow and lengthy examinations, when they are accepted at all. Some Masters of the Forge, tired of waiting for an unrequired approval from dogmatic non-combatants, have simply spread the specifications of their craft to their fellows of other Chapters, bypassing the Mechanicus entirely, which has only served to stress and antagonize the relationship between Astartes and Mechanicus further.
Not all Space Marine Chapters treat their Master of the Forge in this way. Some, such as the Mentors, the Praetors of Orpheus and the Astral Knights, embrace the dwindling advanced technologies of Mankind without the usual superstition and, in the case of the Iron Hands, with an enthusiasm nearly matching the Mechanicus. In these Chapters, the Master of the Forge is a personage honoured no less than the Chapter Master himself. Such cases are not common among Astartes. Indeed, for one Chapter to embrace the vision and purpose of a Master of the Forge is to invite suspicion from many of its more conventional brothers. In addition to his responsibilities to maintain the Chapter Armoury, a Master of the Forge is also tasked with the conservation of any arcane technological artefacts to which his Chapter is heir. The oldest and most famous Astartes Chapters have many such technological wonders from the time before the Horus Heresy locked within their Armoury's vaults. Like the other Techmarines who serve under him, the Master of the Forge is equipped with powerful bionic servo-arms called Mechadendrites that can be used for battlefield repairs or even put to use as another weapon. Masters of the Forge also sometimes wield an ancient pre-Heresy weapon called a Conversion Beamer, whose projectors fire a beam of anti-matter that induces a controlled subatomic reaction in the target, converting its mass into energy. The further away the target, the more deadly the blast, as the beam has time to grow in power.
Variant Master of the Forges
- Master of the Rock- Most Space Marine Chapters have a Master of the Forge; the most senior Techmarine. With deep understanding of the arcane sciences refined over many years of experience, the Master of the Forge is comparable to a Tech-priest of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Dark Angels Chapter has a similar role, known as the Master of the Rock, although there is an ominous difference. Upon ascending to the honoured position, the Master of the Rock follows his predecessors by being permanently wired into the control nave of machine banks located deep within the Chapter's asteroid base known as The Rock. It is his solemn duty to placate the most important Machine Spirits, directing the maintenance of the engines and Warp-Drive that allow the Dark Angels' enormous mobile asteroid to travel the galaxy. It is his mind alone that perceives the workings of the force field that still shields the asteroid base and maintains its atmospheric integrity. The previous Masters, whose fleshly bodies have withered, are left in place, their mechanical upgrades still working while bones fall in dusty heaps below. Eventually, they will be collected for display in The Rock's Alcoves of Honour. Because of their dual allegiance to the Chapter and the Adeptus Mechanicus, Dark Angels Techmarines are never inducted into the Deathwing. This includes the Master of the Rock; he is privy only to the secrets of their asteroid base and its hoard of ancient technology, and not to the truths of the Chapter's broader mysteries.
Notable Master of the Forges
- Master of the Forge Argos (Salamanders) - Argos is the current Master of the Forge of the Salamanders Chapter. As a Scout Marine, Brother Argos fought alongside Brother Elysius, (later to become a Chaplain, and bearer of Vulkan's Sigil) in an action to purge a Genestealer brood. During the initial hunting, in which the Scouts were to tag a Genestealer, the squad was ambushed by their prey. Slaying one Scout, and knocking Elysius to the floor, the Genestealer prepared to spray acid at Elysius. However, Brother Argos, seeing the peril Elysius was in, rushed into the line of fire and subsequently had a portion of his face destroyed by acid. After Elysius killed the Genestealer, compromising the mission, the pair opted to continue, despite Argos' injuries, to eradicate the brood nest themselves. In later years, as a recently inducted Techmarine, Argos again suffered facial wounds at the hands of Genestealers whilst serving alongside the 2nd Company in the Purging of the Moons of Ymgarl. As a result of this second burning, Argos requiring the bionic rebuilding of half of his face. Argos' bionic eye is engraved with the image of a snarling Firedrake. After serving in the 2nd Company of the Salamanders, Argos eventually ascended to his current position as the Salamanders' Master of the Forge.
- Iron Father Xerill (Iron Hands) - 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 that are coming to pass in that area of space. Thanks to their interest in the Dead Stations, their peers refer to this group of Deathwatch Astartes 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.
- Iron Priest Harl Greyweaver (Space Wolves) - Harl Greyweaver is an Iron Priest of the Space Wolves Chapter who has been seconded to the elite xenos-hunting Deathwatch -- the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. 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.
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition) pg. 26
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition), pp. 16, 57, 59
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 92
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 70
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 51
- Deathwatch: Game Master's Kit (RPG), pp. 25-26
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 20-21
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition) by Rick Priestley, pg. 83
- White Dwarf 291 (US), "Cult of the Machine God: Techmarines of the Adeptus Astartes", pp. 14-17
- Salamander (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- Firedrake (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- Nocturne (Novel) by Nick Kyme