"This day shall be our day of reckoning. Look not to the shame of the past, but to the glory of the future. We shall wash away the stain of our dishonour in the hot blood of our enemies."
- — Sword Brethren Lorenzo's address to the warriors of the Varl Crusade
The Sword Brethren (sing. Sword Brother) are the greatest warriors within a Fighting Company of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter and are organised as a part of the Crusade's commanding Marshal's Household, thus serving as the equivalent of a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter's Veteran 1st Company, though Sword Brethren elites exist within each of the companies of the Chapter. These Battle-Brothers are mighty heroes whose legend has become part of the Chapter's long and illustrious history, and it is every Black Templars' ambition to become one of their number.
Clad in the finest suits of Power Armour available to the Chapter and bedecked with Crusader seals, the Sword Brethren are the very image of a baroque warrior knight of ancient Terran legend. Upon the death of a Marshal, it is from the Sword Brethren that his replacement will come and only the best and bravest are worthy of receiving this great honour. Those Sword Brethren who aspire to command rank face one another in a series of gruelling ritual combats, during which all who would contest the right to lead the Crusade will battle one another with various weapons as well as pitting their strategic and tactical prowess against their opponent.
The exact form of the combat may vary, from unarmed wrestling to feats of endurance that would kill any man other than an Astartes, and many rounds may be fought until a single winner emerges, bloody and victorious. Even then, however, the victor's right to assume the rank of Marshal must be confirmed by the High Marshal (Chapter Master) of the Black Templars himself, although in practice it is most unlikely to be withheld.
This tradition, which is codified in Chapter dogma and said to date back to the earliest of times, ensures that only those who truly desire command rank ever attain it, and it also guarantees that the succession to the rank of High Marshal is available only to the very best warriors in the entire Chapter, for it is from the ranks of the Marshals that the Chapter Master is chosen. Upon approval by the High Marshal, the Sword Brethren of the newly inducted Marshal's Fighting Company swear new oaths of loyalty to the winner. Larger Crusades are broken down into a number of Fighting Companies, each led by a Sword Brethren afforded the honorific of "Castellan." In this instance, Castellans are essentially serving as the equivalent of a company Captain in Codex-compliant Chapters.
The Marshal’s Household very rarely fights as a single unit, although this has occurred during the most calamitous of wars. Instead, it is far more common for individual squads of Sword Brethren to be dispatched to bolster the forces of a single Fighting Company. The presence of these wise and potent warriors strengthens the resolve of the entire force, the Initiates and Neophytes fighting with all the more zeal knowing that the companions of the High Marshal himself are looking on. In battle, the Sword Brethren lead assaults or form immovable living bulwarks against anything the enemy can throw at the Black Templars lines, fighting with a controlled yet fiery doggedness born of centuries of experience.
Sword Brethren Terminators
The existence of the elite cadre within the Black Templars Chapter known as the Sword Brethren is an ancient tradition that harkens back to the earliest days of the Chapter. The greatest warriors of a Crusade are inducted into its commanding Marshal's Household. These hardened Astartes receive additional training, particularly in the use of the rare Terminator Armour, and are no longer responsible for the training of Neophytes as is common in the Chapter. All Space Marine Chapters maintain a number of these revered suits of ancient armour.
Each suit is a priceless Chapter relic wrought by Master-Artificers in ages past, and given the scattered nature of the Black Templars Chapter, very hard to replace should the wearer fall in battle. When they take to the field equipped with their hulking Terminator Armour, adorned with fluttering Crusader seals and holy script, the Sword Brethren are a truly inspiring sight against which few enemies can stand. Each suit of Terminator Armour is lovingly maintained by the Chapter's Techmarines and each has a special place of honour within the ranks of the Sword Brethren. Selected senior commanders of the Chapter may also enter the Armoury of a Crusade Fleet and don these holy artefacts.
To fight in Terminator Armour requires rigorous training and, once he is ready, a Black Templars Terminator is expected to perform above and beyond his brethren, acting as an example to the rest of the Chapter. Squads of Sword Brethren Terminators are most often employed in boarding actions or where the fighting is certain to be close and bloody. Terminators can also be equipped with a varied selection of weaponry that allows them to fight at longer ranges, but it is for brutal close combat assaults that Terminator Armour is primarily designed and for which the Black Templars favour it.
On some rare occasions, the Sword Brethren have provided Battle-Brothers to serve in the Deathwatch, for these Veterans are all but peerless in their resolve to face the enemies of the Emperor. Each is a potent warrior and they are as experienced as the 1st Company Veterans of any other Chapter. Their unique combination of zealous rage and cold determination is an example to all they serve alongside, bolstering a Kill-team’s ability to survive and to overcome the horrors it must face in the cold void between the stars.
Sword Brothers are veterans of many battles, with the proven ability and accumulated glory that comes only from facing the enemies of the Imperium on countless battlefields under countless alien suns. Through long years of battle and bloodshed, they have acquired a wealth of combat experience and learnt a variety of deaths to inflict upon the mutant, the alien, the heretic, and the daemon. Further, they have the ambition and personal drive to keep striving for martial perfection, unwilling to cease their personal quest to attain victory and glory for themselves, their Chapter, and the Emperor.
- Power Armour
- Terminator Armour (Optional)
- Bolt Pistol or optional ranged weapon
- 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 Black Templars Astartes of proven zeal and courage.
- Storm Bolter (Optional for Terminator Armoured Sword Brethren)
- Close Combat Weapon (Choice of Power Sword, Chainsword, Lightning Claws, Thunder Hammer, Power Fist; if chosen weapon is one-handed, a Storm Shield may also be used)
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pg. 13
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 38-39
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 11-12
- Index Astartes II, "Righteous Zeal - The Black Templars Space Marine Chapter," pp. 46-47