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This article, How to Colour Your Homebrew Space Marine Chapter, is a community project. While you are free to edit, please do not edit or delete anything written by another user without their permission. This page was last edited on 17/4/2020 by Achilles Prime.
"The uniforms of the Imperial Guard are camouflaged in order to protect their wearers by hiding them from sight. The principle is that what the enemy cannot see he cannot kill. This is not the way of the Adeptus Astartes. A Space Marine's armour is bright with heraldry that proclaims his devotion to his Chapter and the beloved Emperor of Mankind. Our principle is that what the enemy can see, he will soon learn to fear!"
— Chaplain Aston, 10th Company, Fire Hawks Chapter (Extinct)

Exalted Blades Standard Bearer, Garut Helsk, proudly displaying his Chapter's heraldry.

This is a guide for those who wish to have a better understanding of How to Colour Your Homebrew Space Marine Chapter. As anyone who has ever decided to create their own Chapter knows, one the more challenging aspects is coming up with your own unique colour scheme that fits within the established 40K Universe as well as the dictates of the Codex Astartes - the great and sacred tome that guides the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes in military organisation, strategy, tactics and heraldry. This penultimate guide dictates what colours, patterns, iconography and symbols one should display for ease of identification on the battlefield. There are a number of suggested variations on this basic system and each Chapter is advised to periodically revise their markings to counfound the foe. This has led to myriad differences between the many Codex-oriented Chapters (those Chapters that strictly adhere to the tenants of the Codex Astartes) and to some having varied appearance over the millennia.

This guide focuses on uniforms and heraldry of these incredible futuristic transhuman warriors. As you shall see below, each of the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes has their own unique heraldic pattern of armour and markings. Each Chapter follows ancient traditions and rules that govern these patterns and colour schemes, and this guide will hopefully provide an insight into some of these traditions.

  • Note: Much of the text here, was taken from the Games Workshop's official publication, Insignium Astartes (2002), written by Warwick Kinrade and illustrated by Alan Merrett.

Background

Roboute Guilliman, the Avenging Son, Primarch of the Ultramarines.

In the wake of the Horus Heresy the newly formed ruling council of the Imperium, the High Lords of Terra, set about rebuilding and repairing the damage wrought during this terrible civil war. In most need of reorganising and restructuring were the devastated Space Marine Legions as these great armies had borne the brunt of the treachery done by the Warmaster Horus and his Traitor Legions. The High Lords tasked the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman with the job of reordering the Imperial military forces. His first duty was to revise the organisation of the Space Marines and to codify their institutions, doctrines and armorials. His conclusions became the almost mythic book known as the Codex Astartes, a work so important its contents still form the basis of Space Marine organisation and tactics ten thousand years after it was originally compiled.

The original twenty Space Marine Legions were vast armies numbering thousands of warriors amongst their ranks. During the Horus Heresy this was both a great blessing and a great curse when half of their commanders were corrupted by Horus and threw themselves and their warriors behind his unholy insurrection. The ensuing civil war that erupted between these titanic forces nearly destroyed the Imperium. After the traitors of Horus and been defeated and banished the High Lords of Terra decreed that never again should so many Space Marines fall under the sway of one man, however noble his intent. Thus it was that Roboute embarked on the creation of the Space Marine Chapter. The exact means and timescale of his efforts are lost to memory or record, the result however was that each of the Legions was split into a number of Chapters of roughly a thousand fighting Marines. There is some debate among scholars as to whether the older Legions were already subdivided into Chapters but there is no record of this prior to their reorganisation.

As the old Legions were divided into new Chapters they each adopted new names, badges and colours with only one of the new Chapters retaining the old Legion name and iconography. This was known as the Second Founding of Space Marines. It is not known exactly how many Chapters were created at this time as the Imperial records are incomplete or vague. Most of the new Chapters were derived from the Ultramarines Legion, presumably because it was the largest of the loyal Legions. The Apocrypha of Skaros records that twenty three Chapters were created from the Ultramarines Legion but does not name them. There have been further foundings since then so that by the 41st Millennium there are reputed to be a thousand or more Chapters of Space Marines.

The vast majority of the newly created Chapters took up the Codex Astartes and its doctrines as their guiding law. These Chapters were and are still known as the Codex Chapters. They pride themselves on following the ancient text and applying its principles of warcraft and devotion to the Emperor. In the 41st Millennium there are relatively few of the original Codex Chapters surviving as they have been either destroyed in battle or disbanded. Through the ages other Chapters have developed organisations and heraldries that are so variant with the Codex that they can no longer be considered as such. In truth most Chapters retain the basic organisation and markings or something close to the original though only a few can claim to be Codex Chapters.

Every Space Marine Chapter has a unique basic heraldry consisting of a specific colour or colour scheme and an icon or badge. The Chapter badge is always prominently displayed on the Marines' armour, banners and war machines. The heraldries of the Space Marine Chapters are bold and striking, more akin to a medieval knight's costume than to a uniformed soldier. This is quite deliberate as the Space Marines have little need or desire to disguise their presence on the field of battle. In fact they wish their foes to know that it is Space Marines they face and to be suitably cowed. In addition they are justly proud of their Chapter's heritage and of the honours it has won in battle.

The Codex Astartes

Roboute Guilliman's greatest work describes and prescribes how the entire Imperial military should be organised and how it should fight. Within its hallowed pages are long treatises on all manner of tactics and strategies for virtually all of the soldiers, warriors and war machines known to the Imperium. Of special interest is the volume devoted to the Space Marines. This volume sets out how a Chapter should be structured, recruit, train, fight and dress. In fact every aspect of being a Space Marine is covered in some detail.

The original Codex was compiled approximately ten thousand years ago in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. It is not known what form the original took: it may have been a manuscript or it may have been a compilation of holo-files or even some combination. Of course manuscript copies were made and distributed. The oldest surviving copy of the Codex is reputed to be the Apocrypha of Skaros. The Liber Arcanum of Grand Marshall Tolof and the Holo-Record 442/33508; Gant Manuscript v2 of the Ceris Archive have some claim to this honour as well. Over the millennia the copies have been copied and recopied many times in order to preserve them. Inevitably, mistakes occur and so it is unlikely that any two copies of the Codex will be identical. Furthermore, the work is constantly being reanalysed and reinterpreted. The original prose style of Roboute is at best archaic and in some cases almost unintelligible. This has led to many varied interpretations over the centuries and to many situations where two entirely different doctrines have been legitimately claimed as 'official Codex' at the same time.

Primogenitor Chapters

The Primogenitors are the Chapters created from the old Ultramarines Legion during the Second Founding. There are conflicting records as to exactly how many Primogenitor or 'First Born' Chapters were created at this time. However all of these Chapters venerate Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch of the Ultramarines, and their own founding father and patron. All of them are also strict adherents of the Codex Astartes.

Known Progenitor Chapter include:

Chapter
Progenitor Chapter
Legion Number
First Chapter Master
Aurora Chapter
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Black Consuls
Ultramarines
XIII
Arrias Cordos
Doom Eagles
Ultramarines
XIII
Tulian Aquila
Eagle Warriors
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Genesis Chapter
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Inceptors
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Iron Snakes
Ultramarines
XIII
Saur Damocles
Libators
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Mortifactors
Ultramarines
XIII
Sasebo Tezuka
Nemesis
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Novamarines
Ultramarines
XIII
Lucretius Corvo
Obsidian Glaives (Destroyed)
Ultramarines
XIII
Fulminos
Patriarchs of Ulixis
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Praetors of Orpheus
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Silver Eagles
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Silver Skulls
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
Viridian Consuls
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown
White Consuls
Ultramarines
XIII
Unknown

Chapter Banners

Chapter Banner of the Ebon Knights Chapter.

The Chapter Banner is the most sacred artefact belonging to the Chapter. The banner itself is likely to be very old and is only ever carried into battle by the appropriately named Chapter's Ancient. The banner is as individual as the Chapter itself and there are few rules to govern its design. The Codex limits comment on the Chapter Banner to simply saying that the standard should carry the colours and icon of the Chapter and should display such honours as the Chapter Master deems worthy.

It is quite likely that a Chapter will in fact own a number of Chapter Banners although one, and only one, will be in use at any given time. This battle standard will have been consecrated by the Chapter's senior Chaplain and dedicated to the heroes of the Chapter past, present and future. In battle the banner will inspire the Marines to superhuman feats of martial prowess and woe betide the enemy that threatens this holiest of relics.

Eventually however a banner will age or be damaged beyond repair and it will then be retired to grace the great hall of the Chapter's Fortress-Monastery. Furthermore new Chapter banners may be fabricated to mark great victories or to honour mighty heroes who have fallen in battle. For a Chapter with a long history like the Ultramarines there will be dozens of these venerable and venerated flags each one carefully preserved and honoured by the Space Marines.

Chapter Banners Examples

Heraldry

"This symbol I wear upon my shoulder and I bear upon my banner. He who defiles it defiles me, and shall be damned for all eternity."
— Brother Ukadi, Adeptus Astartes Flesh Eaters, prior to the conclusion of the Alvatine Suppression

Battle-Brothers of a Chapter proudly display the symbol by which their parent Chapter is known on their left shoulder pauldrons. Chapter symbols are simple, striking and easily recognisable, and very often related to the Chapter's name. The Blood Angels (for example) use a simple blood drop with two wings attached, while the Omega Marines use a character from a long extinct Terran script. Some Chapters use symbols drawn from ancient heraldry, the elements or even arcane sources such as alchemy. Plenty of Chapters use more generalised icons such as the Imperial aquila, skulls and wings, combined in various forms. Many Chapter utilise iterations of common Imperial icons, such as the eagle, eagle wings, skulls and armoured fists.

At a Chapter's Founding the newly assigned Chapter Master must name his Chapter and chose its heraldry. There are strict rules to govern this process. The Codex Astartes provides the Chapter Master with approved naming elements and also forbids the use of certain names. New leaders are careful to try to avoid duplicating the name, icon and livery of an existing Chapter. However this is more difficult than may be imagined. There are approximately a thousand Chapters spread across the galaxy and only the priests of the Adeptus Terra have anything approaching a complete catalogue of these units and their heraldry. Many new Chapter Masters create new heraldries to avoid any possible duplication. Over the millennia this had led to a vast proliferation of icons and liveries.

Example Heraldic Devices

Provided below are some example heraldic symbols:

Example Space Marine Chapter badges

Chapter Icon Examples

Chapter Icons 1.jpg
Chapter Icons 2.jpg
Chapter Icons 3.jpg

Livery

"Camouflage is the colour of fear. My colours I wear openly. They proclaim 'I am proud to live, I am proud to die'."
Lord Commander Carab Culln, Red Scorpions Chapter.

Space Marine Chapters employ a wide range of colours and patterns of their uniforms, and wear them with pride. Some sport a single colour, applied to the entire surface of the armour while others use several colours, halved or quartered to produce a striking and recognisable pattern. Some employ the same scheme across the entire Chapter, while others modify it or change it entirely depending on the squad and company a Battle-Brother is serving in.

Below are examples of the most common colour patterns utilised by Codex oriented Chapters:

Example Codex colour patterns

Livery Examples

Company Colours

Codex Astartes-approved heraldry for the Ultramarines Chapter.

Each Company has a unique colour that its members wear, commonly on their power armour's shoulder pauldron trims, but some Chapters re-colour their Aquilas or Imperialis, bolter cases, poleyns (knee guards), helmets or other parts of a Space Marine's Power Armour.

  • 1st Company - White or Silver - Members of the 1st Company should also paint their helmet the company colour.
  • 2nd Company - Yellow or Gold
  • 3rd Company - Red
  • 4th Company - Green
  • 5th Company - Black
  • 6th Company - Orange
  • 7th Company - Purple
  • 8th Company - Grey
  • 9th Company - Blue
  • 10th Company - Nominally white, however the company colour is not displayed on the members' armour because they are Scouts.

Standard Codex Astartes-compliant company colours applied to Space Marine Power Armour

Company Designation Examples

Company Colours Non-Codex

Below are a few examples of some non-Codex oriented Chapters variant company colours. Although many of these Chapters might adhere closely to the organisation laid down in the Codex Astartes, they nevertheless deviate significantly when it comes to the use of icongraphy, colours and markings, as dictated though necessity or by each individual Chapter's culture:

Non-standard company colours applied to Space Marine Power Armour

Codex Chapter Squad Specialist Markings

The following shows the tactical shoulder pauldron markings for each of the squads within a typical Codex Chapter. These markings are displayed on the right armorial of the Marines' armour. In this example the rims of the shoulder pads display the Company colour. The white tactical symbols indicate the designation of the Squad and the numerals simply refer to the Squad number within the Company.

The Codex provides for a number of variations on this basic system and also suggests that each Chapter periodically revise its tactical markings in order to confound the enemy. This has led to many differences between the many Codex Chapters. It also explains why it is that some Chapters have varied their appearance over the course of millennia. In fact, some Scholars within the Adeptus Administratum use the changes in the Ultramarines iconography as a means of dating ancient files and monuments. The Ultramarines are particularly useful for this because they are the most documented Chapter in the history of the Imperium. Even so their records are not complete or are vague and this leads to much speculation within scholarly circles about the exact dates for events in the distant past.

Ultramarines Companies


Ultima Icon White.png
Veteran Company Battle Companies
1st Company 2nd Company 3rd Company 4th Company 5th Company
Vet Armorials Regular.jpg
Veter Armorial Termi.jpg

This Company comprises the elite veteran's of the Chapter. They can fight as either Veteran Squads or as Terminator Squads,

2nd Co Tact Armorials 1.jpg
2nd Co Tact Armorials 2.jpg

This shows the classic division of the Battle Company into six Battleline (Tactical), two Close Support (Assault) and two Fire Support (Devastator) Squads. Traditionally the Battleline Squads are numbered one to six, the Close Support Squads as seven and eight and the Fire Support as nine and ten.

3rd Co Tact Armorials 1.jpg
3rd Co Tact Armorials 2.jpg
4th Co Tact Armorials 1.jpg
4th Co Tact Armorials 2.jpg
5th Co Tact Armorials 1.jpg
5th Co Tact Armorials 2.jpg
Reserve Companies Scout Company
6th Company 7th Company 8th Company 9th Company 10th Company
6th Co Tact Armorials 1.jpg
6th Co Tact Armorials 2.jpg

The 6th Company may be deployed as Battleline Squads or as Bike Squadrons or some combination of the two. Individual Squads may be attached to the Battle Companies to bolster their fighting strength.

7th Co Tact Armorials 1.jpg
7th Co Tact Armorials 2.jpg

The 7th Company may he deployed as Battleline Squads or as Land Speeder Squadrons or some combination oi she two, These Squads and Squadrons might be required to fight with other companies.

8th Co Aslt Armorials 1.jpg
8th Co Aslt Armorials 2.jpg

The 8th Company is a powerful close combat formation as it comprises ten Close Suport Squads of trained hand-to-hand fighters. These warriors can also fight as Bike or Land Speeder Squadrons.

9th Co Dev Armorials 1.jpg
9th Co Dev Armorials 2.jpg

This Company contains the largest concentration of heavy weapons in the Chapter. The ten Fire Support Squads are most often deployed to secure and reinforce battlefield objectives.

10th Scout Co Armorials.jpg

Space Marine Scouts can be deployed as Scout Squads or as Scout Bike Squadrons. There is no fixed number of Squads in the Scout Company.

Squad Specialist Markings

Squad specialist markings are shown upon a Battle-Brother's right shoulder pauldron, except in the case of some older marks of Space Marine Power Armour that instead display them upon knee plates, greaves, vambrace or within the Chapter badge itself. The right pauldron displays the Squad Specialty Badge, which indicates the specialty of the squad (Battleline, Close Support, Fire Support, Veteran or Command) the individual Astartes belongs to as well as the number of his squad within his company.

The Veteran Squad tactical symbol is a graphic representation of the Crux Terminates. The left shoulder pad of Terminator armour carries the large stone tactical badge known as the Crux Terminatus. The Chapter symbol is therefore displayed on the right pad. A number differentiates each of the squads.

The Battleline Squad symbol is shown as a large white vertical arrow. This is but one of a number of different symbols noted in the Codex as being suitable to designate a Battleline Squad.

The Close Support Squad symbol is shown as crossed double-headed arrows. This marking is derived from an ancient crossed swords badge that is still in use by some Chapters.

Fire Support Squads are designated by the inverted V sign. Again this is but one of a number of different markings described in the Codex Astartes. Older variant symbols utilise an upside down delta (triangle) or an explosion symbol instead.

Modern era Squad Specialist Markings

Ancient era Squad Specialist Markings

Squad Specialist Markings Examples

Helmet Markings

A Sergeant's badge of rank is a skull and is often displayed on the left shoulder pauldron. The Codex leaves the display of back banners to the Sergeant's discretion. Space Marine helmets frequently display rank and battle honours, either through colour or insignia. Red helmets, for example, are reserved for Sergeants, whilst a white helmet or laurel design denotes Veteran status. Veteran Sergeants typically wear both colours, incorporating a white stripe down the centre of their helm. Whilst company colours are typically displayed on the trim of a Space Marine’s shoulder pauldrons, they can also be displayed on helmets, chest Aquilas, knee plates or even on the squad markings.

From left-to-right: An Ultramarines Veteran Marine and Veteran Sergeant

Captains & Commanders

A Knight-Captain of the Vindicator Lords Chapter's elite 1st Company.

Ebon Knights First Captain arrayed in relic Cataphractii Terminator Armour.

An officer with the rank of Captain commands every Space Marine Company. The Captain will be a stalwart veteran of thousands of battles. Over the decades and in some case centuries of war the Captain will have accrued a vast store of knowledge and experience of fighting, tactics and leadership. Space Marine Captains are first and foremost warriors expected to lead from the front and they are powerful enough for their personal combat prowess to be able to affect the outcome of a battle involving thousands of combatants. They lead by example and command their troops with absolute authority. Space Marine troops venerate their leaders and consider promotion to Captain as the pinnacle of achievement and service.

Captains wear power armour or Terminator Armour decorated in the Chapter livery. Their badge of rank is the Company heraldry. In its most basic form this is simply the Company colour displayed on their right shoulder pad. This pattern also forms the basis of the Captain's banner and may even appear on the hull of any personal vehicles. Captains wear the Chapter icon on their left shoulder pad. Space Marines are proud of their achievements and Captains no less so. Over the many years of battle the Captain will have won innumerable honours and distinctions. Furthermore their wargear will have damaged and repaired or replaced a hundred times or more.

Each honour adds a new element to the Captain's livery. Each repair provides the Chapter's Artificers with an opportunity to embellish his armour or weapons with decoration and devotions. In this way the basic rank markings are superceded by a mass of details and decoration. Space Marine Captains therefore have a unique heraldry and very individual appearance.






Captain Livery Examples

Multiple examples of Company heraldries.

The armorial examples above show the basic Company heraldries utilised by the Ultramarines. These had their origin in the days when Space Marines were organised into Legions, formations many times larger than the current Chapter. It may have been that these patterns were originally used to differentiate between the sub-units of those vast regiments. These heraldries now form the basic liveries for the Company Captains and are displayed on the Captain's right shoulder pad and back banner. Veteran Captains are unlikely to display such markings as their personal honours and merit awards will supplant the basic design.

Example heraldries and personal awards.

There are almost no limits to the ways in which an experienced Captain may have his armour and weapons customised to record his achievements and honours. Many of these decorations will be the honour badges shown here or variants of these icons.

Chaplains

A Chaplain inspiring his fellow Astartes in the heat of battle.

Spaces Marines are not simply mighty warriors they are also devout followers of the Emperor. They regard their mission to defend humanity against the myriad foes that threaten it as a holy one and they have absolute faith in the the Emperor. The first Space Marine Chapters were founded centuries before the development of the Imperial Cult and the dominion of the Adeptus Ministorum. This has led to each Chapter evolving its own unique religious practices and priests. These are the Chaplains who administer the rites of their Chapter and perform the ancient ceremonies of worship and devotion.

Chaplains have a vital role in the initiation of new recruits to the Chapter and in the constant affirmation of faith within the ranks of the Marines. Chaplains are amongst the most powerful of all the Space Marines. They accompany their brother Marines into war, chanting liturgies of battle, urging their fellows onwards with righteous zeal. They are invariably found in the thickest of the battle, exhorting their comrades to even greater acts of bravery.

Example Chaplain icons and heraldry.

Chaplains wear black armour with Chapter icon and heraldry displayed on the left shoulder pad. Their badge of office is a white skull that generally appears on the right shoulder pad. Beyond this there is almost nothing else about their appearance that is standard. Each and every Chaplain is by definition a hero of the Chapter and will have fought in thousands of actions. Although they eschew personal honours their ancient suits of power armour are a realisation of the faith and victories of the Chapter, each one a revered artefact in its own right. Over the centuries the Chapter's artificers have constantly embellished these suits to glorify the Emperor and show the devotion of the Chaplain and his brethren.




Chaplains Examples

Apothecaries

An Apothecary of the Minotaurs Chapter.

Apothecaries are the Astartes who are trained to undertake the routine medical and surgical duties needed to keep the warriors in peak fighting condition. They are also the keepers of the Chapter's biological legacy, the banks of stored gene-seed. The source of this gene-seed is the Space Marines themselves. Each one carries replicating organ implants called the progenoids. These amazing organs absorb genetic information from the Marine's body. If a Marine dies the progenoids can be removed and the Apothecaries are able to use the information stored within to create new implants. These new implants are essential to the creation of new Marines. The life of the Chapter is wholly dependent on the skills of the Apothecaries to collect the progenoids and bio-engineer new recruits.

Space Marines rarely go into battle without an Apothecary since if a Marine dies and his body is lost or destroyed then his valuable gene-seed is lost to the Chapter as well. If a brother Marine falls in battle the Apothecary can administer immediate aid, binding wounds or performing emergency surgery so that the Marine can fight on. Failing that the Apothecary can at least ensure that the Marine's death is not totally in vain by collecting his gene-seed and returning it to the bio-vaults, ultimately to be recycled in the form of a new warrior.

Apothecary heraldry examples.

The standard uniform for an Apothecary is a white suit of power armour. Chapter heraldry is displayed on the Apothecary's left shoulder pad. The right shoulder pad displays the Prime Helix icon of the Apothecarion. Company badge are worn on the knee pads or leg armour. A number of variants of the Helix are shown above, any of which may be worn by an Apothecary. In some Chapters the Apothecary's white uniform is combined with the Chapter's standard heraldry but usually the helmet, back pack (or medi-pack) and shoulder pauldrons will be white.

Apothecaries Examples

Librarians

A Librarian Lexicanium.

Librarians are the Chapter's psykers and have many responsibilities including intersetellar communication, auguries, testing new recruits for psychic abilities and protecting the Chapter from psychic assault. They are also trained to use their awesome powers on the battlefield, attacking foes with blasts of pure thought as well as sensing enemy movements and predicting the ebb and flow of the battle. The Librarians are the ultimate warrior mystics endowed with powers and abilities that set them apart from their brothers.

The Codex has strict guidelines for the uniforms, behaviour and tactics of the Librarians. Librarians of all Codex Chapters wear blue armour with golden yellow tabards or robes. They are ranked by talent and experience, graduating from Lexicanium (novitiate rank) through Codicier to Epistolary. At the head of the Librarius sits the Chief Librarian who answers directly to the Chapter Master and is one of the leading officers of the Chapter. The Chief Librarian bears the rank and badges of Senior Epistolary.

Example Librarian heraldry and livery.

In the above examples we can see the arcane symbols that are used for the Librarian rank badges and decorating their back banners. These are references to the ancient rituals that bind the psyker to the Emperor and to his Chapter. The scrolls and books are symbols of the protective wards and mental disciplines that give the Marine the fortitude to face the perils of the Warp and remain unscathed by the horrors within. These banners show the Ultramarines variants of the traditional designs. Other Chapters simply substitute their own Chapter icon in place of that of the Ultramarines. The tabards carry additional rank markings.

Librarians perform an heroic role on the field of battle and have many honours bestowed on them by the Chief Librarian and their Marine brothers. Their armour, weaponry and banners are frequently embellished by the Chapter's artificers to proudly display these honours and means that no two Librarians are likely to look the same.

Librarians Examples

Techmarines

A Techmarine - master of arcane technology and adherent to the Cult Mechanicus.

Every Chapter sends a number of its young warriors to Mars where they are trained by the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus. These Marines are inducted into the rites and disciplines of the Machine Mysteries, the secret workings of the Tech-Priests. Once the Marines have completed their training they are no longer simply Space Marines but have also become Tech-Priests and devotees of the Cult of the Machine God. They are skilled in the arcane sciences and dark secrets of technology.

Techmarines do not join the individual Companies but form a separate organisation within the Chapter. This is the Armoury and within its mysterious halls and workshops they constantly work on building and maintaining the Marines' wargear and machines. To their fellow Marines they are mysterious and unsettling figures possessed of disturbing and obscure knowledge and skills.

On the battlefield individual Techmarines are assigned to separate detachments and are tasked with numerous duties. They are capable of effecting battlefield repairs of broken or damaged wargear and are also able to offer observations of the enemy's technology to the commander. They also analyse and record the performance of wargear in battle in order to assess potential improvements that can be made for future conflicts. Lastly they are doughty warriors whose combat effectiveness has proved its worth many times over.

Techmarines Examples

Examples of Techmarine heraldry and livery.

The Techmarine's uniform and insignia is unusual since it bears only modest reference to the Chapter. Traditionally all Techmarines, irrespective of Chapter, usually wear red power armour. However, this isn't always the case, as some Techmarines wear their Chapter's livery in lieu of the traditional red. But to honour their ties with the Cult Mechanicus, these Techmarines will often paint at least a portion of their battle-plate red to show their ties with the Martian Priesthood. Chapter affiliation is displayed on a suitably decorated shoulder pad and the suit will display the Machina Opus badges of a Tech-Priest but otherwise their armour is free of unit, tactical or organisational markings. If there are ranks within the Armoury only the Techmarines are aware of them, and they are habitually secretive of such matters.

Honour Badges

Honour Badges of the Space Marines are awarded for all manner of heroic deed or worthy action. The principal of awarding badges for honours won in battle has always placed a major role amongst the various fighting forces of the Imperium of Man. Within the Adeptus Astartes such distinctions have become vital in reinforcing the bonds of kinship and common purpose displayed by a Chapter's Battle-Brothers.

Some honours are simply painted directly onto the recipient's Power Armour, while others take the form of elaborate carvings inscribed into the armour's ceramite plating. Whatever the form, all are highly regarded by the recipient and his fellow Astartes. Each Space Marine Chapter has its own variations of awards, ennoblements and honour badges, according to its history and traditions. The badges displayed below are amongst the most common accolades and see use in almost all Chapters.

Iron Halo - Types 1 & 2

  • Iron Halo - The simple badge called the Iron Halo has its origins in the earliest days of the Imperium. Often painted onto an Astartes' armour as a red badge, the Iron Halo is the award granted for an exceptional battlefield leader and strategist. This award is given to those Battle-Brothers who demonstrate exceptional initiative. It is displayed on the shoulder armour or behind the helmet of the Astartes who has earned it as a mark of rank.

Iron Skulls - Types 1, 2 & 3

  • Iron Skull - A traditional badge of ancient origin, the Iron Skull is awarded for the display of exceptional leadership in combat. It is the Codex Astartes-required insignia for a Space Marine Sergeant and is often displayed on the shoulder armour or helmet of an Astartes of this rank. The classical convention is to represent the Iron Skull as a red heraldic device.

Imperial Laurels - Type 1, 2 & 3

  • Imperial Laurel - Deeds of valour leading to a great victory for the Imperium are rewarded with the Imperial Laurel. A Battle-Brother who bears this honour has literally earned his laurels. The wreath is often worn as a crown or sculpted into the Ceramite of an Astartes's helmet. The Wreathed Skull is also a common form of the same honour. The Codex Astartes demands that Company and Chapter Standards be borne into battle only by an Ancient (Standard Bearer) who have been awarded the Imperial Laurel.

Purity Seals variants

  • Purity Seal - The Purity Seal is not so much an honour as a blessing given by the Chapter's Chaplains. Before a campaign the Chaplains pass through the ranks chanting litanies and invocations. Honoured individuals are marked by the Chaplains for special blessings recorded on the parchment streamers and affixed to their armour with the great wax seal which are often replaced with a more permanent electrum casting of the seal after the battle.

Marksman's Honours

  • Marksman's Honour - The Marksman's Honour is a device used to recognize those Astartes that perform acts of remarkably accurate shooting or consistent performance with their targeting. The Codex Astartes insists that those warriors who prove their combat accuracy should be singled out so that their skill may be instantly commanded. Within certain Chapters it is believed that the Marksman's Honour badges were forged by encasing in gold the bolter shell cases fired in battle by that Chapter's Primarch.


The Imperialis

  • The Imperialis - The wings of the skull represent the wings of the Aquila, the double-headed eagle that is the official symbol of the Imperium, while the skull is a common motif in Imperial iconography which represents the sacrifice of the Emperor of Mankind for humanity's salvation. An ancient symbol, the Imperialis has its origins in the great Horus Heresy. It was adopted as the campaign badge of the Loyalist Legions during the Imperium-wide conflict that was the heresy. Since then it has become the honour of righteous victory. Most often the chest armour of the recipient is carved into the great winged skull but it can also appear on the banners and finials.

Skull & Motto (with a pair of Ultramarines variants)

  • Skull and Motto - In addition to the specific badge of the Iron Skull, there are many other icons and emblems which incorporate the skull, a common Imperil motif intended to represent the sacrifice made by the Emperor for humanity's sake during the Horus Heresy. As honours these decorations often have a multitude of uses and meanings. Often combined with simple mottoes, the skull honour can be seen on shoulder pauldrons, helmets, poleyns (knee guards) and even on bolter cases or vehicles.
  • Prime Helix variants

    Prime Helix - The Prime Helix is the emblem of the Apothecaries of a Chapter. The bright red design represents both the gene-seed itself and, to some extent, the sacrifice every Space Marine is prepared to make to ensure the Chapter's future.

Machina Opus

  • Machina Opus - The Machina Opus is the mark of a Tech-Priest Adept. It is awarded to each Techmarine as he completes his mysterious training with the Adeptus Mechanicus on Mars. Bearers of the Machina Opus are accorded great respect by the Tech-priests and they alone are allowed free passage through the Red Planet's Ring of Iron and into the great workshops of the Martian Hive.

Crux Terminatus variants

  • Crux Terminatus - This is one of the most famous of all Space Marine icons. Only the honoured 1st Company Veterans of a Space Marine Chapter fight in suits of Terminator Armour and wear this badge. The symbol has various forms and designs but all versions are carved from great chunks of stone. Within each badge is bound an infinitesimal fragment of the suit of power armour worn by the Emperor during his climatic battle with the Arch-Traitor Horus over ten millennia ago high above Terra. Sergeants and Captains bear modified versions of the design to signify their rank and authority. Smaller representations of the Crux are frequently worn by the Veterans when they fight in standard Power Armour to display their elite status. These small, metallic icons can be hung from banner tops, weapons and belts.

Service Studs

Service Stud examples and Service Studs (close-up)

Service Studs are small metallic rivets that are attached directly to an Astartes' cranium to record his years of service to his Chapter. A single stud records, 10, 50 or 100 years of service depending on its design and the Chapter traditions. The awarding of service studs is described in the Codex Astartes but is not set out as an official requirement or regulation of the Chapter. In recent centuries the awarding of service studs has been on the decline and fewer Chapters continue the practice.

Tattoos

Example Astartes Tattoos

Tattoos are not official Chapter honours but traditional markings derived from the Chapter's ancient practices. Some tattoos may even be vestiges of pre-Space Marine tribal markings or gang affiliations. Space Marines are recruited from hundreds of different human cultures so it is no surprise to see this reflected in some Astartes retaining the tattoos, scarification or warpaint of their homeworld culture.

Army Campaign Badges

Various Army Campaign Badges worn by the Adeptus Astartes

Space Marines often find themselves going into battle alongside other Imperial forces. The massed ranks of the Astra Militarum form the major portion of any allied contingent of Imperial forces and include huge tank divisions as well as enormous numbers of foot soldiers. When an army of the Imperium goes to war it is standard practice for the Imperial Commander or general to choose a symbol to act as a campaign badge in accordance with the regulations set down in the Codex Astartes.

This "field sign" is known as the Army Badge and serves to identify all the troops and equipment that are operating under a single command for a single campaign and helps with recognition of friendly units on the field of battle. The Army Badge is painted on Space Marine Power Armour and Imperial Guard vehicles alike. Each time a Space Marine applies the badge the recipient receives a blessing from the company Chaplain or from an attached member of the Imperial Ecclesiarchy if serving alongside one of the other Imperial armed forces.

The Army Badge is deliberately designed to be quite straightforward and is an instantly recognisable symbol that functions as a battlefield identification. Space Marines generally apply the Army Badge to their right leg greave. The Army Badge is generally used for the duration of a single campaign and is removed or replaced at the successful conclusion of the campaign. If a squad, regiment or indeed an individual warrior has performed exceptionally in the campaign, the Army Badge may be incorporated onto their armour, uniform or heraldry as a permanent honour. This is particularly true of banners and standards and many of the lavish designs seen on Chapter, company and individual Astartes banners are, in part, derived from the Army Badges of previous campaigns.

Other Known Honour Badges

Within the various Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, there exists a diverse assortment of honour badges, icons, titles and fetishes that are used to recognise Battle-Brothers of a specific Chapter:

Chapter
Award
Reason for Award
Blood Angels
Blood Drop Pendants
These ornaments are representations of the Blood Angels' Chapter symbol and the blood of Sanguinius that runs through their collective veins. Some are literally filled with the Battle-Brother's own precious blood, while others are jewelled or crystalline representations. They are most often, but not always, worn around the neck.
Death Mask
Fashioned from the likenesses of the fallen, Blood Angels heroes wear Death Masks both to honour the dead and strike terror into their foes. There can be no denying their power when one sees the coruscating golden energy arcing across the mask's surface and the baleful light shining from its eyes. A Death Mask is worn over a Battle-Brother's helmet and provides no additional protection. These same death masks are also worn by members of the Sanguinary Guard which crackle terrifying haloes of golden light. The machine spirit of each mask bonds closely with its wearer, its loyalty to him absolute. When a Sanguinary Guard falls in battle, his death mask is removed with much ceremony and placed within the "Sarcophagus of Sorrows" on Baal. The mask is left in its dark tomb for seven days and seven nights, by the end of which it will have taken on the stylised features of its former wearer. These transformations are claimed by the Blood Angels to be miracles, and none has ever proven otherwise.
Glaives Encarmine
Glaives Encarmine are broad two-handed blades wielded by the Sanguinary Guard. Each Glaive Encarmine is a Chapter relic in its own right. Indeed, some of these venerable weapons have been in service since before the Horus Heresy. Crafted long ago by using forgotten methods and techniques, few weapons in the Blood Angels armouries approach the elegance and mastery of manufacture embodied in the Glaives Encarmine. Forged from an alloy known as "angelsteel", whose secrets are known only to the artificers of the Blood Angels, these blades never scratch, warp or break, no matter what violence they are subjected to.
Golden Icons
Blood Angels frequently hang sacred gilded icons on their armour or from their belts. The exact form of these items varies, but they are considered a display of devotion as well as serving as a focus for spiritual meditation.
Dark Angels
Blades of Caliban
Blades of Caliban are Chapter relics and each has its own honourable heritage. Only the Champions of each Company, having performed heroic and faultless duty, earn the right to wield one of these unique Power Swords.
Ceremonial Swords
Dark Angels frequently carry mundane swords with winged hilts in the ancient Calibanite style in echo of their Chapter badge. These weapons are used more for ceremony than in combat, but they are perfectly functional weapons should the Battle-Brother have reason to draw one. They are carried either in addition to, or in lieu of, a Combat Knife depending on the individual's preferences.
Weapon Charms
Among the elite Deathwing, Veteran Battle-Brothers sometimes adorn their weapons with fetishes, bird feathers and charms, in respect for their ancient ancestors and the roots of their brotherhood. These fetishes seem to appease the Machine Spirits of their weapons and connect them more strongly to the Battle-Brother, making them as reliable and unrelenting as the Deathwing themselves.
Executioners
Chronicles of the Death-Speakers
Entry into the Chapter's archives is considered a high honour in this Chapter.
Fire Angels
Order of Martyrdom
Awarded for an extreme act of sacrifice on behalf of one's fellow battle-brothers.
Fire Hawks
Enemy of Valour
This is the only known honour to be granted to enemy combatants by a Space Marine Chapter.
Medallion Immolatus
Unknown
Imperial Fists
Ossific Relics
Many Imperial Fists bear small tokens of lost Battle-Brothers, engraving their bones with descriptions of their deeds so that they may never be forgotten and will live on forever. Ossific Relics take the form of small bones, normally finger or hand bones, carried in a small pouch near the Battle-Brother's heart, or sometimes on a chain around his neck or wrist. Far from grisly or barbaric, this practice is the ultimate act of remembrance for an Imperial Fist, and the relics of his fallen brethren are his most valued possessions.
Iron Hands
Artificer Bionics
The Iron Hands are masters of bionics and often replace undamaged limbs with cybernetics to enhance themselves with greater strength, speed, or endurance. Artificer Bionics represent the height of this craft and the greatest examples of cybernetics available to the forces of the Imperium.
Iron Snakes
Eusippus
Eusippus are copper urns that contain the cremated remains of a slain battle-brother. When the Chapter returns to their home world, the senior-most battle-brother in the squad of the deceased performs the sacred duty of unscrewing the lids and the gray ash is shaken out. The fallen's remains are sieved away into the wind and returned like the water to the sea.
Lifewater Flask
Small copper flasks that contain the lifewater of the Chapter's home world of Ithaka, carried by every memeber of the Chapter to anoint every planet that they step foot on in a ritual ceremony. When they return to their home world, the remaining water in these vials is given back to the oceans.
Scrolls of Merit
Scrolls of paper with prepared statements carried by a fallen Astartes' squad leader that contain the written account about the valiant dead's life, actions and death. These are sealed and ready to be placed within the archives of the Chapter House. Often these scrolls also contain full orders of merit laying out the full details and particulars of an Iron Snakes battle-brother's service with the Chapter as well as all of the commendations and decorations he has earned.
Lamenters
Writ Sanguinatus Mori
Unknown
Mantis Warriors
Sigil of Prophecy
Unknown
Marines Errant
Order of the Sundering Star
Unknown
Minotaurs
Bloody Mantle
Unknown
Red Hand
Unknown
Novamarines
Order of Guilliman
Unknown
Raptors
Tenebrae Astra
Unknown
Raven Guard
Corvia
As a form of meditation or spirit quest, during their initiation all Raven Guard are tasked with hunting the tiny ravens native to the forests of Kiavahr. It takes months of training and practice for recruits to sneak up on the small and alert birds, grabbing them in their bare hands and snapping their necks. The skulls of these birds are then worn as small totems hanging from a battle-brother's belt on small chains. These totems are known as Corvia and represent a warrior's honour. Shoulder a battle-brother fall, one of his surviving comrades will recover his Corvia and proudly carry it, and thus the fallen warrior's honour, into battle until he can return it to Kiavahr and bury the small skulls in the soil of their Chapter's homeworld.
Salamanders
Salamander's Mantle
Earliest Imperial records of durable cloaks crafted from the skins of the lava salamanders native to Nocturne. Known as a Salamander's Mantle these scaled cloaks are worn by heroes of the Chapter. As well as the status symbol of wearing such a mantle, the scales of the Nocturnean salamanders also provide unrivalled protection against fire. Later this technology spread in the form of Adamantine Mantles to many other Space Marine Chapters.
Tenebrae Astra
Unknown
Sons of Medusa
Citation of Fortitude
Unknown
Space Wolves
Belts of Russ
Each Great Company has in its Armoury a single Belt of Russ. These are powerful girdles incorporating potent gravitic force fields that protect the wearer. Forged by the master Iron Priest Stef Blacksoul after the disappearance of Russ, these belts are important relics of the Chapter.
Great Wolf Pelt
Among the wargear of the Space Wolves are wolf pelts from some of the greatest Fenrisian Wolves that have served the Chapter. Some of these pelts are large even for a Space Marine, trailing behind them and hanging over their armour like a tide of fur. A Battle-Brother wearing such a pelt honours the memory of the wolf by carrying it once more into battle.
Runic Totems
The Sons of Russ have many traditions that are unique to their Chapter, and at the heart of Fenrisian mysticism stand the Rune Priests. Using their arcane arts they craft rune totems to call upon the powers of Fenris' mythic beasts, and Space Wolves fiercely believe that these talismans can lend the bearer power from the spirit whose name is inscribed upon it.
Wolf Pelt
Fenrisian Wolves are renowned across the galaxy for their viciousness. They are respected creatures, and greatly entwined with Space Wolf beliefs. Unarmed hunting rituals exist on Fenris to prove a warrior's prowess. Should a Battle-Brother succeed on such a hunt, he typically displays the pelt of the animal thereafter.
Wolf Tooth Necklace
Created from the teeth of Fenrisian Wolves, a Wolf Tooth Necklace is reputed to grant the wearer strength and ferocity in combat like that of the wolf it was taken from. Whether or not there is any true power in such tokens (like those talismans crafted by the Chapter's Rune Priests), the effects on a Space Wolves Battle-Brother's morale and ferocity cannot be denied.
Star Phantoms
Laurel of Endurance
Unknown
Pennant Specularis
Unknown
Ultramarines
Aquila
An honour badge proclaiming great wisdom. This badge is a miniature representation of the Emperor's own Imperial double-headed eagle.
Cingulum
The Cingulum is a belt formed from several studded straps of leather or a similar strong and flexible material, which serves as a place for the hanging of victorex and other accolades of valour. Such belts are common decorations amongst the Ultramarines and their Successor Chapters. The appearance of a Cingulum also varies with the type of small, detailed plates that have been used to stud it and the choices of what terminal decorations hang upon it.
Eternium Ultra
There are a few such revered relics in Ultramar as these. They mark an Ultramarine Battle-Brother of senior rank and esteemed position.
Heraldry Scrolls
Scrolls worked into a Battle-Brother's armour, either as metalwork or a placard are popular in many Chapters, and the Ultramarines are no exception. This crest may display a motto or title, but most commonly it bears the Ultramarine's name so that his enemies know who brings their deaths, and tales of his deeds may travel.
Honour Blades
Presented to champions of the Chapter, Honour Blades are a matching Broadsword and Poniard Power Sword set. Wielded together, the blades are perfectly matched and provide the champion with an expert defence and attack.
Honourific Valourum
Awarded in recognition of exceptional bravery during a notable battle.
Laurel of Defiance
Unknown
Personal Heraldry
Those of senior-rank, such as Captains and commanders that have won innumerable honours and distinctions, are allowed to display their own unique heraldry as a mark of their esteemed position and recognition of years of service to the Chapter.
Principex Maxima
Unknown
Valour Crest
The right to bear a Valour Crest must be earned through acts of near suicidal bravery; the colours of the crest are often representative of the noble house of Ultramar from which many Ultramarines Aspirant are recruitment.
Victorex Alpha
Awarded for exceptional valour.
White Scars Chieftain Trophy Rack A trophy rack containing the skulls of worthy kills, worn on the backpack as a display of their triumphs and prowess in battle. Like the more common back banners used by Astartes commanders, a trophy rack identifies a Battle-Brother as a leader and Captain of the Chapter.
Duelling Tulwar
Reputed to have its origins among the mountain tribes of Chogoris, the Duelling Tulwar is a White Scars ritual weapon. Its short, curved blade makes it ideal for quick, short cuts, allowing the wielder greater speed in combat, switching between defensive and offensive stances with a flick of his wrist. The particular shape and balance of these weapons allows them to be wielded swiftly and deftly, moving from defence to attack at lightning speed. They are carried either in addition to, or in lieu of, a Combat Knife, depending on the individual's preferences.
Guan Dao
A signature weapon of the White Scars, the Guan Dao is a Chogorian glaive, a Power Lance. Considered blessed weapons, Guan Dao possess a two-metre long metal shaft with a single-edged, curved blade which is primarily used by White Scars Astartes to extend their reach or to increase angular momentum, and thus striking power, when the weapon is swung. This makes the Guan Dao ideal for charging from the back of vehicles or striking at foes while beyond the reach of their weapons. When used in close combat on foot, its purpose is more to disarm an opponent and deflect their strikes.
Honour Gift
These are the spoils of a glorious hunt or battle that are given to trusted comrades to make stronger the ties that unit them, a ritual that dates back to the Khan's days when tribes fought as one against their oppressors. These gifts take many forms, from pelts taken from the great plains-dwelling beasts of Chogoris, to shards of shattered armour taken from enemy vehicles or combatants, to tusks, fangs and claws from beasts or monstrous xenos foes.
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