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This article, How to Create a Homebrew Space Marine Chapter, is part of WH40K Homebrew Wiki's "Guide" articles. It is treated as a community project and serves as both hints and guidelines. You are free to edit it, if deemed appropriate.
"They shall be pure of heart and strong of body, untainted by doubt and unsullied by vainglory. They will be bright stars in the firmament of battle. Angels of Death whose shining wings bring swift annihilation to the enemies of Man. So shall it be for a thousand times a thousand years, unto the very end of eternity and the extinction of mortal flesh."
— Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines

A battle-brother of the fan-made homebrew Lantern Marines Chapter

This is a guide for those who wish to create their own Homebrew Space Marine Chapter. As anyone who has ever decided to create their own Chapter knows, the hardest part is coming up with something original, insightful, with excellent characterization and something that hasn't been done already a million times before. Listed below are some tips of what to do and not to do, when creating a canon-friendly Space Marine Chapter, and hopefully help you to avoid the pitfalls and cliches that often plague many fanon-based Chapters.

Note: Much of the text here has been copied from the RPG "Deathwatch: Rites of Battle" with some information from the affiliate Warhammer 40K Fanon Wiki under the Fair Use doctrine. No challenge to their status intended.


Before Beginning

To begin, please ensure that you have read the Site Policy rules and the article quality policy. These will give you an understanding about what you can, and cannot, write about when creating a Fanon Space Marine Chapter. When creating a Space Marine Chapter, be sure to utilise the Space Marine Chapter Infobox in order to keep your article uniform with other Space Marine Chapter pages.

Also be sure to browse around this wiki, as there are already a lot of Chapters that have been created. There might be one that is similar to the one you had in mind to create. Though this is unfortunate, try to ensure that you create something unique and original, as this will avoid problems with being accused of plagiarization. To quickly access the location of the Space Marine Chapters already listed on this wiki, please be sure to browse the Space Marine Chapters category.

Before begin your undertaking, there are two primary rules that you always want to adhere to when creating your own Space Marine Chapter:

  • Originality - The most important aspect when creating a Space Marine Chapter is being original. There are many ways in which to draw inspiration; books, movies, a certain time period in history or even another culture (both fiction or non-fiction). Remember, you never want to copy another person's idea wholesale - try to add something unique or put some kind of twist on it. By being innovative, there is no telling what you might be able to come up with. The end result may end up surprising you and surpassing all your expectations! When in doubt, try, try and try again! The Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes can display a high degree of variety, despite all using the same range of arms, armour and equipment. In many cases the differences are largely superficial, especially in the case of Chapter heraldry. The most divergent of Chapters are often those that draw heavily on the culture of the world or worlds they recruit from, inheriting a broad range of highly idiosyncratic traditions and practices. Given that the Imperium's peoples range from barbaric primitives living in huts made from the skin and bones of their defeated enemies, to effete nobles existing in undreamed-of luxury high atop glittering hive spires, this variation is perhaps inevitable.
  • Acceptance of criticism and the willingness to make revisions - Another important thing to remember is that when you create your own Space Marine Chapter, expect feedback. After all, this is a wiki that is full of those who love this hobby, and by sharing your unique take and vision on what a Space Marine Chapter could be, your able to share your ideas and unique vision with other users who might be struggling to come up with something of their own. By sharing your work, you will receive many different viewpoints and constructive critiques that will help you fine-tune your overall vision for your Chapter. It's entirely up to you what you take away from the advice offered by other users, but remember, it doesn't hurt to be willing to at least consider some of the ideas generated by the community. Most users are just trying to help by providing feedback, but by the same token, it should be expected that anyone who does provide such feedback, to make an effort to provide constructive criticism rather than simply dismissing an author's idea out-of-hand or labeling their ideas as being poorly conceived or worthless. We all understand that your Fanon Space Marine Chapter is precious to you, and no one likes to receive negative feedback. But remember, we've all been in the same situation. It's important to ensure that you don't get stuck on an idea that has stagnated long after its potential has faded. There's nothing wrong with taking a step back, or even going back to the drawing board, and abandoning the original idea for something better. This time away can help you gain perspective while you think things over and eventually you can come back at a later date. You can always use your original idea for a future Fanon Space Marine Chapter article. A well-written Chapter tends to grow as you write, taking on a life all it's own, so don't be afraid to let it happen.


The Ultramarines Chapter, gathered for war

What exactly is a Space Marine Chapter? A Chapter is a completely autonomous military unit made up of one thousand of the superhuman warriors known as Space Marines or Astartes and their related vehicles, starships and support personnel. Each Chapter serves collectively with the others of its kind as part of the Imperium of Man's Adeptus Astartes. Every Chapter is entirely autonomous from every other Adepta of the Imperium, including the Inquisition, and takes its orders only from the High Lords of Terra themselves. Most Chapters have feudal title to an entire planet of the Imperium which serves as its Chapter homeworld or to a large fleet of powerful and massive starships that serves as a mobile headquarters if the Chapter is fleet-based.

Codex and Non-Codex Chapters

The Chapters that rigidly follow the word of the Codex Astartes are sometimes referred to as "Codex-compliant Chapters" or even simply "Codex Chapters." These Space Marines adhere to the Codex as the model for their organization, identification markings and tactical doctrine. Chapters such as the Black Consuls, Genesis Chapter, Hammers of Dorn, Novamarines, and the Red Scorpions are strong examples of those Chapters that vehemently follow the dictates of Guilliman's treatise to the letter.

Many Chapters, however, do not adhere so rigidly to the Codex patterns laid down for the organisation or other processes. These Chapters, known as "Non-Codex Compliant" or "Non-Codex" Chapters, are further shaped by their home worlds or the personality of their Primarch, while still maintaining Codex-compliant in other ways. For examples Chapters such as the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves and White Scars utilise different organisational structures, idiosyncratic terminology, specialised ranks, as well as maintaining long-ingrained traditions of their own individual cultures.

It has never been decreed necessary by the Adeptus Terra to enforce the tenets of the Codex absolutely, as it is highly doubtful that it ever could be done. However, with subsequent Foundings, the High Lords of Terra have always favored the Ultramarines' gene-seed and created many new Codex Chapters from their proud lineage. With the passage of time, some of these Chapters have subsequently strayed from the strict letter of the Codex, introducing new variations but remaining broadly faithful to the principles laid down by Roboute Guilliman nearly ten millennia earlier.

Chapter Name

"There may come a time when men have forgotten all of the glories of our age, forgotten even the Emperor, may He forgive me for saying. But this I swear. When all else is dust and all other names are forgotten, the name of our Chapter shall endure, and through it, so shall we!"
— Chaplain Harak, Adeptus Astartes Night Watch, prior to the loss of the entire 5th Company at the Battle of Silver River

Every Space Marine Chapter needs a name, a title by which its deeds are celebrated in the annals of the Imperium and by its enemies know their doom is upon them. The name of a Chapter often describes it some way, linking to its Battle-Brothers' essential character or mission. There are many ways in which a new Chapter might be granted its title. Sometimes the High Lords of Terra bestow the name at the Chapter's Founding, linking it to some sacred duty the Chapter must perform, as is the case with the Praetors (meaning "guardians") of Orpheus. In other cases the Chapter may earn its name in the years following its founding, fighting battle after battle until an appropriate title presents itself.

Many people tend to base their Fanon Space Marine Chapter on a real-life culture they are interested in. An obvious example would be Spartiate Marines by Kadjah Thoris. The name associated with this Chapter say to reader that a particular theme is quite obvious (Can you say Spartans?) Some writers might prefer a more subtle approach (Example: Space Wolves, not Space Vikings, though the overall theme is quite obvious). Remember, a good balance of real-world cultures placed in the 41st Millennium can prove quite rewarding if one takes the time to make a simple modification to a name. For example, instead of called a Chapter the 'Teutonic Knights', you could tweek the name to be the 'Sons of Teutonia'.

When inventing the name for your new Chapter, the best source is the character of the Chapter itself. The two tables presented below provides some ideas for the various elements of the name should you need some inspiration. Most Chapter names have two such elements, broadly speaking an adjective and a noun, but a huge scope for variation exists. The simplest and most common names feature an attributive adjective, followed by the noun (such as "Dark Angels" or "Crimson Fists"). The adjective and noun can also be reversed, as is common amongst Blood Angels Successors (such as "Angels Encarmine"). Plenty of Chapters use just a single word to sum up their identity (such as the "Rampagers" or the "Subjugators") while others use a proper noun in their title, such as the "Sons of Orar" (Orar being a figure in the Chapter’s history). When randomly generating a name, in all likelihood it will take a good few goes to produce something usable, so use the tables as a source of inspiration.

Chapter Name Adjectives
  • Argent
  • Black
  • Bloody
  • Brazen
  • Brothers
  • Celestial
  • Crimson
  • Dark
  • Death
  • Doom
  • Emperor's
  • Fiery
  • Flesh
  • Golden
  • Guardian
  • Halo
  • Honoured
  • Imperial
  • Iron
  • Mailed
  • Millennial
  • Night
  • Omega
  • Obsidian
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Shadow
  • Silver
  • Space
  • Star
  • Steel
  • Storm
  • Thunder
  • Ultimate
  • Ultra
  • War
  • White
Chapter Name Nouns
  • Angels
  • Bearers
  • Blood
  • Brothers
  • Champions
  • Consuls
  • Crusaders
  • Death
  • Destroyers
  • Devourers
  • Dragons
  • Eagles
  • Fists
  • Falcons
  • Fire
  • Fury
  • Griffons
  • Guard
  • Hands
  • Hawks
  • Helms
  • Hunters
  • Inferno
  • Jaguars
  • Justicars
  • Knights
  • Lions
  • Lords
  • Marauders
  • Nightmare
  • Panthers
  • Paladins
  • Questors
  • Rampagers
  • Sanctors
  • Scorpions
  • Sentinels
  • Skulls
  • Souls
  • Sons
  • Spectres
  • Swords
  • Talons
  • Tearers
  • Templars
  • Tigers
  • Ultima
  • Vengeance
  • Valedictors
  • Wardens
  • Warriors
  • Wings
  • Wolves
  • Zephyrs
  • The name of the Chapter’s home world
  • The name of a Chapter hero

Chapter Name Generator

If you are truly stuck for an original idea, you can always try your luck here or here, by utilising this handy Space Marine Chapter Name Creator, created by the Bolter and Chainsword forum.

Chapter Appearance


"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


"My colours I wear openly, they proclaim louder than any words, 'I am proud to live—I am proud to die.'"
— Commander Carab Culln, Adeptus Astartes Red Scorpions

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

Company Colours

Each Company has a unique colour that its members wear, commonly on their power armour's shoulder plate rims, but some Chapters use chest eagles, bolter cases, knee pads, 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 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

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 (Tactical, Assault, Devastator or Veteran) the individual Astartes belongs to as well as the number of his squad within his company. Veteran Squads display Maltese Cross, Tactical Squads use an arrow vertically pointing upwards, or an older variant of a horizontal double-pointing arrow, Assault Squads use four perpendicular arrows pointing outwards in the shape of a letter 'X', while Devastator Squads use an inverted letter 'V'. Older variant symbols utilise an upside down delta (triangle) or an explosion symbol instead.

Modern era Squad Specialist Markings

Ancient era Squad Specialist Markings

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

Chapter Origins

The first thing when writing about your Chapter is to determine why and when were they created? Chapters are established at the order of the High Lords of Terra, but the process by which the order comes about is a subject discussed only within the sealed chambers of the Senatorum Imperialis. It is likely that many Chapters have been created with a specific role in mind, whilst others have been founded due to a general increase in the activities of the Emperor's numerous enemies.

Why Was It Founded?

When creating an original Space Marine Chapter, one must consider the reasons that it was Founded in the first place. Of course, you can just as easily decide that the Chapter's origins are lost to antiquity and leave this part of its history obscured by the dust of time, lost to its present members. Below are some possible reasons that you can use to explain why your Space Marine Chapter was Founded:

  • Strategic Prognostication - The Imperium is a realm governed as much by superstition and paranoia as it is by the cyclopean bureaucracy of the Administratum. While many long-term policy decisions come about due to the work of generations of planners and strategists, just as many are the result of arcane predictions, ritual foreseeings and readings of the Emperor's Tarot. Often, galaxy-wide strategic decisions are a bizarre combination of these two factors, interwoven over decades of debate and analysis until both become one and the same. In some quarters, this esoteric discipline is known as strategic prognostication. In the case of the founding of a new Space Marine Chapter, strategic prognostication may warn of a threat approaching the Imperium from a given quarter; a threat so dire that only the establishment of a Space Marine Chapter in the region may defeat it. In many cases, the nature of the threat will be well known and linked to ongoing wars. This was the case when twenty or so Chapters, known as the Astartes Praeses were assigned responsibility for guarding against Traitor Legion incursions through the Cadian Gate. In that case, the threat was well established, and readings of the Emperor’s Tarot indicated it would greatly increase over the following centuries. In other cases, the nature of the threat is not known at all and is only revealed much later when a previously unimagined enemy invades. Strategic prognostication may have been the reason the Scythes of the Emperor Chapter was created, its home world located close to the already well-defended Realm of Ultramar. Sometimes, the Emperor's Tarot gives no indication at all with regards to the reason for a new Chapter's creation, providing no clues as to what it should guard against, what it should fight or where it should be based. The process merely indicates that the fates demand the new Chapter be created, and so, it is.
  • Counter - Many Chapters have been created at the express order of the High Lords of Terra in order to counter a specific threat. Generally, the activities of a particular known foe have increased to such a level that one or more Chapters are created specifically to counter it. No Space Marine Chapter ever focuses exclusively on one enemy, however, and even if the new force is initially created to counter a particular foe it will soon be carving its name in history against a myriad of enemies. Quite often a Chapter created with no specific remit develops a particular expertise in fighting a specific foe, and comes to regard doing so as a matter of honour. The Crimson Fists are an example of this, with a great many of the Chapter’s wars having been fought against the Ork empires that infest the border regions between Segmentum Tempestus and Ultima Segmentum. Some crusading Chapters have claimed or been granted a home world in a region they have fought to conquer, and in so doing established a bulwark against the return of the enemy, be it secessionists, aliens or worse.
  • Standing Force - Some Chapters are created to operate in a specific region, though as ever their wars may take them the length and breadth of the Imperium. This is simply a case of the High Lords of Terra identifying a particular region whose defences are considered lacking, and where the stationing of a Space Marine Chapter would bolster the region's defences considerably. Though consisting of only a thousand warriors, a Space Marine Chapter is able to project its power over a huge area, and intervene in wars for light years all around. The presence of a Chapter home world in a nearby cluster is often sufficient to deter invasion and insurrection in dozens of surrounding sectors, for the Space Marines can mobilise their rapid Strike Cruisers at a moment's notice and there are very few foes that cannot be suppressed, if attacked quickly and brutally enough, by a single Space Marine strike force.
  • Crusade - Many of the Imperium's wars are in fact mighty crusades, raised from the armies of entire sectors to reclaim a lost part of the Imperium or to destroy once and for all a particular foe. Such crusades often sweep up billions of warriors, several thousand of whom may be Space Marines. Perhaps in the past, during a greater epoch of the Imperium, entire Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes were founded with such crusades in mind. Perhaps future crusades will be so great that new foundings are ordered, and new legends of the Adeptus Astartes will be born.

First Founding Chapters

The First Founding of the Space Marine Legions, also originally called the Legiones Astartes, occurred in the late 30th Millennium after the end of the Age of Strife and the Unification Wars that founded the Imperium of Man on Terra. Eighteen known Space Marine Legions were created from the gene-seed of the 18 known Primarchs engineered by the Emperor of Mankind from His own genetic code in His gene-laboratories in the Imperial Palace on Terra beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains.

In spite of the fact that the Primarchs were separated from the Emperor of Mankind through the mysterious actions of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and scattered through the Warp across the galaxy, He managed to keep a small sample of each Primarch's gene-seed, and used this genetic material to create the first Space Marines by further genetically enhancing His own elite, Terran-born soldiers. With each Primarch the Emperor re-discovered during the Great Crusade, He gave command of the Space Marine Legion created from their genetic material back to them.

Each Primarch then set up their Legion's headquarters on his homeworld, from which they also recruited new Space Marines into the Legion. Two other Legions, the IInd Legion and the XIth Legion and their Primarchs, were created by the Emperor, but nothing is known of what became of these Legions and their Primarchs and all data pertaining to them has been deleted from current Imperial records.

Ist Legion (Dark Angels)

A Battle-Brother of the Dark Angels Chapter

The Dark Angels are considered amongst the most powerful and secretive of the Loyalist Space Marine Chapters. The Dark Angels were the first of the Emperor's Space Marine Legions, and in their earliest incarnation fought as the personal army of the Master of Humanity in the dawning years of the Great Crusade and in the shadowed campaigns that preceded it. As the prototype of what were to become the Legiones Astartes, they served both as the template for the more specialised Legions that were to come after them and a standard by which these successors would be measured.

Once the most numerous and powerful of the Space Marine Legions, their numbers would be depleted and primacy ended by decades of savage warfare, particularly in the wars of the Rangdan Xenocides, one of the most apocalyptic campaigns of the Great Crusade. The scars of these battles would change them, as would their reunification with their Primarch Lion El'Jonson and the introduction of fresh blood from his adopted world of Caliban, a Death World dominated by warlike, feudal society of techno-barbarians. When the Dark Angels do undertake joint operations alongside other Chapters, it is quite common for them to do so with others amongst the so-called "Unforgiven" -- the Successors of the original Dark Angels Legion.

The Successors of the Legion maintain especially close relations, their officers all being members of the Inner Circle. Through the machinations of the Unforgiven's Inner Circle, its members are eternally vigilant, never resting in the hunt for the Fallen -- those Renegade Space Marines who followed the First Legion's second-in-command, Luther, into damnation when they split off from the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion ten-thousand Terran years ago in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy.

Vth Legion (White Scars)

A Battle-Brother of the White Scars Chapter

The White Scars are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter and one of the First Founding Legions of the Adeptus Astartes. The Primarch of the White Scars was the mighty Jaghatai Khan. Known and feared throughout the Imperium of Man for their highly mobile way of war, the White Scars are considered the masters of the lightning strike and hit-and-run attack and are particularly adapted to the use of the Astartes Assault Bike as their mechanical steeds and their forces contain an unusually large number of Bike Squads compared to other Chapters.

Bearing the ritual scars of bravery, these fierce warriors fight with all the tribal savagery that define the fierce steppe nomads of their homeworld Mundus Planus, bringing swift death to all of the enemies of the Imperium. If you create a Chapter from the White Scars, keep in mind they many of these Chapter are aggressive and savage in nature, and have a tendency to compete with their forebears for glory.

VIth Legion (Space Wolves)

A feral battle-brother of the Space Wolves Chapter

The Space Wolves, known in their own dialect of Juvjk as the Vlka Fenryka or "Wolves of Fenris", are one of the original 20 First Founding Space Marine Legions, and were once led by their famed Primarch, Leman Russ. Once the VIth Legion of Astartes raised by the Emperor at the dawn of the Great Crusade, the Space Wolves are renowned for their anti-authoritarian ways and their embrace of their homeworld Fenris' savage barbarian culture as well as their extreme deviation from the Codex Astartes in the Chapter's organisation.

After the Horus Heresy and the resultant Second Founding reforms of the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Wolves Legion was divided into two Chapters: the new Space Wolves Chapter, which was not compliant with the dictates of the Codex Astartes and retained the name of its parent Legion, and the second Chapter which took the name of the Wolf Brothers. The Wolf Brothers suffered from rampant mutation of their gene-seed not long after their Founding and were later disbanded. The Space Wolves shelved their plans to create any further Successor Chapters after the disastrous failure of their previous attempt, but in the 32nd Millennium, a Wolf Priest named Thrar "Wyrmblade" Hraldir believed he was close to a breakthrough. Hraldir had come closer than any other since the time of the Emperor Himself at understanding the genetic nature of the Canis Helix. He came close to figuring out how to reproduce the gene-seed of the Space Wolves without any of its inherent flaws. The Space Wolves' dream of emulating the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists and the other First Founding Chapters in the creation of a legion of Successors seemed close at hand. But unknown to the Space Wolves, their ambitions was also known to their ancient enemy, the Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red of the traitorous Thousand Sons Legion.

After the invasion of their icy death world of Fenris, the First Battle of the Fang occurred between the two rival forces. During the height of the invasion, the Thousand Sons breached the Space Wolves formidable fortress-monastery, known as the Fang, and Magnus the Red personally destroyed the Space Wolves' gene-laboratories within. Irreplaceable equipment, some of it dating back to the days of the Unification on Terra, had been entirely devastated, and priceless inner mechanics were now nothing more than useless wreckage. During the Daemon Primarch's rampage in The Fang's fleshchambers he was confronted by Wolf Priest Hraldir. Though the valiant Space Wolf faced the Primarch, he proved no match for the might of one of the sons of the Emperor, and was slain. With his death, there were none left alive within the Chapter who understood his work, and the necessary genetic alteration equipment had been utterly destroyed. After this, the Space Wolves would forever remain alone, the sole inheritors of the legacy of Leman Russ.

VIIth Legion (Imperial Fists)

A stalwart battle-brother of the Imperial Fists Chapter

The Imperial Fists are one of the First Founding Chapters of the Space Marines and were originally the VIIth Legion of the Legiones Astartes raised by the Emperor Himself from across Terra during the Unification Wars. The Imperial Fists stand out from other Space Marine Chapters since they possess no fixed homeworld, although they are most frequently based on Terra. Instead, the Imperial Fists rely on their 10,000-year-old mobile space fortress, Phalanx, to serve as their Fortress-Monastery. They maintain recruitment-chapels on various worlds spread throughout the Imperium.

The Imperial Fists are one of the most valiant of all Chapters, held as paragons of the principles set down in the Codex Astartes and exemplars of everything to which a Space Marine is heir. The Imperial Fists stand as the steadfast defenders of the Imperium and the Emperor's unwavering shield; for ten thousand standard years they have been the bulwark against which the armies of Traitors and aliens have shattered. While Rogal Dorn was lost to the Imperium in the years following the Horus Heresy, his legacy remains amongst the strongest of all of the Primarchs', and thus, next to the valiant Ultramarines, possess some of the most Successor Chapters to carry on Dorn's legacy of courage, valour and supreme sacrifice.

IXth Legion (Blood Angels)

A battle-brother of the noble Blood Angels Chapter

The Blood Angels are one of the 20 First Founding Legions of the Space Marines and were originally the IXth Legion before the Second Founding broke the Legiones Astartes up into separate Chapters comprised of 1,000 Space Marines. They are well-known across the galaxy for their bloodthirsty nature in battle, and feared for the curse of flawed gene-seed they carry. The Blood Angels are amongst the longest-living of the Adeptus Astartes, with some of the Chapter's Space Marines having served the Emperor of Mankind for over a thousand standard years.

The Blood Angels Successor Chapters, with the exception of the Angels Vermillion, hold a deep respect and loyalty for the Blood Angels and stand united with their brethren with an intensity rarely found among the Successors of other Chapters. Born of the gene-seed of Sanguinius, these Chapters all bear the curse of their forefathers to varying degrees. Some, like the Blood Drinkers appear to have nearly overcome the violent rages which plague their brothers, while others, such as the Flesh Tearers, are all but lost to blood lust. Whatever their state, the Successor Chapters of the Blood Angels are an honour to the pride and glory of their ancestors.

Xth Legion (Iron Hands)

The dour and resolute battle-brothers of the Iron Hands Chapter

The Iron Hands are a Loyalist Space Marines Chapter and one of the original First Founding Space Marine Legions, born as the Xth Legion, created from the gene-seed of their martyred Primarch, Ferrus Manus. Like the other Loyalist Astartes Legions, the Iron Hands would later be divided up after the Horus Heresy into multiple different Chapters, as required by the Codex Astartes, although one Chapter of the original Legion remained known as the Iron Hands and is described below. Although unwavering in their faith in the Emperor of Mankind and His dream of human unity as embodied in the Imperium of Man, the Iron Hands also believe that human flesh is weak and easily corruptible, and strive to replace their organic bodies with more "pure" bionic substitutes, thus closely emulating the faith of the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult of the Machine.

For 10,000 years, the sons of Ferrus Manus have stoked the unquenchable fires of hatred, drawing strength from their bitterness and awaiting the day of their Primarch's return. The extreme hatred the Iron Hands hold for the weaknesses of the flesh is believed to gloss over an underlying psychological fear of their physical form. As an Iron Hands Space Marine matures, that hatred and fear grows ever stronger, resulting in more extreme mechanisations of the Astartes' body. It is unclear from where this fear may originate, though many in the Adeptus Mechanicus believe that the source is a flaw in the gene-seed of the Chapter that originated some time after the death of their Primarch on Istvaan V. This flaw seems to be controlled or at the very least made moot by the increasing mechanical augmentations Iron Hands Astartes undergo.

XIIIth Legion (Ultramarines)

A battle-brother of the honourable Ultramarines Chapter

The Ultramarines are by far the best known and most celebrated Adeptus Astartes Chapter in the long and bloody history of the Imperium of Man. Statues of their Primarch Roboute Guilliman and their greatest heroes rear high above countless plazas and city gates, and images of their myriad victories glow from stained glass windows in the mightiest basilica imperialis. The Ultramarines Legion was the largest of those bodies raised to prosecute the Great Crusade so long ago, and as a result it provided the largest number of Chapters when the Second Founding occurred in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy.

In addition, the Chapter's gene-seed is generally held to be the purest of all the Adeptus Astartes, and it is so stable that even 10,000 years after its inception, mutation is well within tolerable limits. For this reason, a majority of Space Marines Chapters extant in the 41st Millennium are thought to be related to the Ultramarines, whether either is aware of it or not, and as such, inheritors of all that made the XIIIth Legion so great. The Ultramarines Chapter is at once the exemplar of everything a Space Marine aspires to, and the template by which he acts, fights and worships. Every Chapter has its own traditions, histories and battle-honours, but the Ultramarines are the standard by which many others, especially those of their genetic lineage, judge themselves and their peers, whether they acknowledge it or not.

XVIIIth Legion (Salamanders)

A robust and stalwart battle-brother of the Salamanders Chapter

The Salamanders are one of the Loyalist First Founding Chapters of Space Marines. They originally served as the Imperium's XVIIIth Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Their homeworld is the volcanic Death World of Nocturne. The Salamanders as a Chapter are unusually concerned with civilian casualties compared to most other Space Marines and believe that one of their most important duties is to protect the lives of the Emperor of Mankind's innocent subjects whenever and wherever possible. This is an attitude that developed as a consequence of the Salamanders' own unusually close connections to the Nocturnean people, as they are one of the only Chapters of Astartes who continue to interact with their families and the people of their homeworld after their transformation into Space Marines. For instance, it is not uncommon for a Salamander to serve as a clan leader among the Nocturneans and live with them when Chapter business does not require him to remain at the Chapter's Fortress-Monastery on Nocturne's moon of Prometheus.

The Salamanders and their people as a whole are also defined by their adherence to a variation of the Imperial Cult called the Promethean Cult. While many Chapters rely on the heavy foundries of the Forge Worlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus to produce much of their materiel, the Salamanders produce most of their requirements themselves, and as each Salamander is a craftsman of one type or another, everything created for and by them is of the very highest standard. As far as possible, the Salamanders follow the example of their Primarch in forging their own weapons, and while most Battle-Brothers are skilled enough to create a finely-wrought combat blade, the most experienced take great pride in hand-crafting their own ammunition on the eve of battle, blessing each and every round with the Rites of Battle.

When it comes to weaponry, the Salamanders favour above all else the application of heat and flame. What may have started as a symbolic honouring of the volcanic nature of Nocturne and the fire-breathing beasts that live amongst the basalt-formed mountains has evolved into a lethal specialisation. The Salamanders utilise a high proportion of flame and melta type weaponry and are masters in its use in a range of tactical applications. While the Salamanders have no known Successor Chapters, there a few that are highly suspected (though unacknowledged). Though no Successors have ever been officially confirmed, there is no practical reason why one could not create their own Salamanders Successor Chapter of their own.

XIXth Legion (Raven Guard)

The battle-brothers of the Raven Guard Chapter launching a lightning assault

The Raven Guard is one of the original First Founding Chapters of the Space Marines and was originally the XIXth Space Marine Legion before the Second Founding and the adoption of the Codex Astartes. Named for a Terran avian seen by many cultures as the herald of fate and messenger of death, the Raven Guard have served the Emperor faithfully throughout the glories of the Unification Wars, the Great Crusade and the dark days of the Horus Heresy and beyond.

From its earliest days, the warriors of the XIXth Legion were known as cunning and patient hunters, adept at biding their time until the moment to strike was at hand. When the Legion was united with its Primarch -- Corvus Corax, the Raven Lord, the Deliverer, theirs was a form of warfare exemplifying speed, stealth and precision which was codified into their doctrine. The Successor Chapters of the Raven Guard are masters of the unseen war, fighting their battles with stealth and speed rather than fury and flames. For thousands of standard years, across thousands of worlds, they have continued to stalk the enemies of the Imperium as shadows of death, waiting for the perfect moment to deliver the killing blow before melting back into the darkness once more.

Lost Legions

The Lost Primarchs of the First Founding Space Marine Legions are the two Primarchs of the IInd and XIth Legions who, for unknown reasons, were deliberately expunged from all known Imperial records and archives before the onset of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. Referred to as "the forgotten and the purged" it is known only that the missing Primarchs and their Legions are listed as having been "deleted from Imperial records." This formal censure and erasure from official records is known as an Edict of Obliteration, also called a Damnatio Memoriae, a High Gothic phrase meaning "condemnation of memory." This is the official Imperial policy of deliberately destroying any records, icons or other symbols or monuments pertaining to an individual or organisation, usually of the Imperial elite, who has been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Emperor of Mankind (before he was interred within the Golden Throne), the High Lords of Terra or the Inquisition.

In a galaxy-spanning empire that stresses fealty and loyalty to the Emperor in return for advancement, acclaim and spiritual salvation for its elites, this is perhaps one of the most severe punishments. The complete and utter erasure of all records of the IInd and XIth Legions is considered by Imperial historians as the most successful Edict of Obliteration ever carried out in Imperial history. Therefore, users are not allowed to create Fanon Space Marine Chapters derived from these two expunged Legions.


"Such is the woe cast upon the Domains of the God-Emperor of Mankind in these times that in their wisdom and beneficence, the High Lords of Terra have this day issued this decree: Let there be a Founding of the Adeptus Astartes, and let the foes of the Emperor know that this galaxy belongs to Him, now, and forever."
— High Lord Tagus, Convenor of the 349th Congress

New Space Marine Chapters are not created piecemeal as required by the Imperium of Man's strategic needs, but rather in deliberate groupings called "Foundings." The process by which a new Founding's creation is approved by the Imperial government is mysterious and arcane, subject to decades or even centuries of planning before it is announced. It is only by an edict of the High Lords of Terra that such an undertaking as the creation of new Chapters can be instigated, for it requires the cooperation and mobilisation of countless divisions within the Imperium's monolithic and vast governmental organisations. Establishing new Astartes Chapters on an individual basis is nigh impossible (with the sole exceptions of the Sons of Medusa and the Steel Confessors Chapters) -- the mobilisation of such vast resources is beyond the ability of any single segment of the Imperium.

The Adeptus Mechanicus plays an essential role in the process, for its highest echelons are tasked with creating, testing and developing the gene-seed samples that will provide the basis of the new Chapters. Entire forge worlds may be turned over to the manufacture of the mighty arsenal of weaponry, ammunition, armour, vehicles and war ships that any such force will require.

There are a myriad of other concerns too. A suitable home world must be identified, which in all likelihood will provide not only a secure and defensible base of operations for the new Chapter, but a source of new recruits too. Such worlds might have been reported by itinerant rogue traders, and earmarked centuries before as potential Space Marine home worlds. A degree of environmental engineering might be required, and the natives (if they are to form the basis of the Chapter's recruitment) must be studied and tested for many generations to ensure they are free of any stain of mutation that might later affect the Chapter itself. The construction of a Chapter's fortress-monastery may be one of the greatest undertakings of all, drawing on the genius of the Imperium's most accomplished military architects.

Existing Space Marine Chapters might also have a hand in this process, though to what degree varies greatly. Many First Founding Chapters maintain close links with Chapters created using their own gene-seed stocks, and the Chapter Masters might have a hand in planning future foundings. It is said that the Disciples of Caliban, a Dark Angels Successor, were created following the direct appeal of the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels.

In the more than 10,000 standard years that have passed since the First Founding of the 20 original Space Marine Legions by the Emperor of Mankind, there have been 25 subsequent Foundings of new Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes; with the most recent, the 26th Founding, occurring in the year 738.M41, approximately 250 years before the current year, which in the Warhammer 40K universe, is 999.M41. Even before a new founding is announced, entire generations of Imperial servants may have toiled in preparation. Even once the process is underway, it is likely to be at least a century before the new Chapters are ready to take to the field. In times of dire need, faster development has been attempted, but this has often resulted in disaster. Gene-seed cultured in haste is wont to degrade or mutate, and a myriad of other factors might lead to the entire process going awry.

The following rules are in effect, when writing about your Space Marine Chapter's Founding:

  • There shall be NO First Founding Chapters (Legions).
  • There shall be NO Second Founding Chapters (except with explicit permission from one of the site's Administrators, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
  • There shall be no 5th/6th Founding Successor Chapters created from Dark Angels' gene-seed. During this era, the High Lords of Terra purposefully do not seek the gene-seed of the Dark Angels Chapter for either Founding, primarily due to their concerns over 'legion building', due to their unusually close-ties to their fellow Successor Chapters.
  • There are twenty-seven Foundings that have occurred in total:
    • The 26th Founding, which occurred in 738.M41, was the last Founding of Chapters of regular Space Marines.
    • The recent 'Ultima Founding ("27th") that recently occurred in 999.M41, was the first Founding of newly created Primaris Space Marine Chapters.
  • All homebrew Chapters are to be created as part of a Founding.
  • No homebrew Chapter shall possess more than one Successor Chapter (except with explicit permission from one of the site's Administrators). Keep in mind, for a Space Marine Chapter to possess even one Successor Chapter is a very esteemed honour, indeed.
    • In order to have a Successor Chapter a homebrew Chapter must be both Codex-compliant and have garnered an excellent reputation, performing many deeds of note and earning many glorious victories, on behalf of the Imperium and the High Lords of Terra.
  • Note - To determine when your Chapter was founded, either chose a date which most suits you (keeping within the canon dates provided), or look below on the chart provided. Note that because the exact dates of the twenty-six foundings that have occurred are not known for certain (apart from the last Founding, which took place in 738.M41), only rough periods are given. No one knows the exact date of every Founding, or how many Chapters were created during each. It stands to reason that with each successive Founding the numbers of Chapters created will have increased, for successive generations of Successors will have provided more and more gene-stock with which to create new Chapters. However, the course of the Imperium's history has never run smoothly and it has been beset by galaxy-wide disasters on numerous occasions. Besides this, much of the Space Marines' genetic inheritance has been compromised by taint and corruption, only made worse by the passage of time. While it is known how many Chapters were created in the Second Founding, records of subsequent foundings are incomplete or entirely hidden and accounts often contradictory.

List of Foundings

Canon Chapters
021.M31 The 2nd Founding of the Space Marines occurred in 021.M31, which occurred seven standard years after the end of the Horus Heresy. This Founding involved the division of the existing Loyalist Space Marine Legions into the far smaller, 1,000-man autonomous Chapters of the Space Marines as decreed by the new Codex Astartes, written by the Ultramarines' Primarch, Roboute Guilliman. The remaining Loyalist Space Marine Legions were divided into smaller Successor Chapters -- one Chapter maintained their parent Legion's original name, badge and colours, while the remaining Chapters took new names and heraldry. As such, the first warriors to form the ranks of these new Chapters were the very same Space Marines who had fought at the side of their Primarch before and during the tumultuous Horus Heresy. Each Second Founding Chapter initially shared their parent Legion's gene-seed -- subsequently each Chapter's gene-seed was isolated by the Adeptus Mechanicus, forming new genetic lines. Because the Space Marines that made up each of the Second Founding Chapters originated from one of the Legions that first served the Emperor. The Second Founding occurred so long ago in the Imperium’s troubled history that no reliable accounts of its details exist. Exactly how many Chapters were founded and from which Legions is unclear. One of the earliest known accounts is to be found within a version of the Codex Astartes known as the Apocrypha of Skaros. Due to the scarcity of information regarding the identity and status of the Second Founding Chapters, a huge amount of mystery and legend surrounds many of them. Some have appeared in the annals of the Imperium's history in name only, their deeds and fates unknown to all but the immortal Emperor. Others have a glorious history, yet have not been heard from in centuries. The status of some Chapters as Second Founding is disputed by especially learned historitors and savants, though never in the presence of the subject. Some Chapters that believe themselves Second Founding may not be at all, while others may be Second Founding but be ignorant of the fact. The ten thousand year history of the Imperium is so fractured, its annals so scattered and incomplete, that it is likely that the truth of the matter may never be known. (See Second Founding Chapters)
001.M32 The 3rd Founding of the Space Marines occurred during the first year of the 32nd Millennium. There is little information to be found in this particular Founding, and it is the earliest Founding that a user on this wiki can use when creating a Fanon Space Marine Chapter. For those who wish to create an ancient, and honoured Chapter, this would be the Founding to use. Though there are no real details, there are some things to consider. This Founding included two canon Successor Chapters created from the gene-seed of the Imperial Fists and the Blood Angels, respectively -- the Executioners and the Flesh Eaters -- both brutal and highly aggressive Chapters. The Executioners are scions of the proud line of the Imperial Fists. Founded under the command of Fafnir Rann, reputedly the most vicious of Primarch Rogal Dorn's later Captains, they were created for the sole task of seeking out and slaughtering Mankind's foes rather than undertaking a more defensive or strategic purpose. The Flesh Eaters are an infamous Successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, whose ruthless and unsavoury reputation is infamous across the Imperium, as are the bloody deeds purported to have been enacted by its battle-brothers upon the field of battle. Since this Founding occurred not long after the Horus Heresy and the Great Scouring, it is more than likely that the High Lords of Terra felt they need such brutal and ruthless Chapters to strike fear into the Imperial populace and scare them into compliance during those tumultuous times. These ferocious Chapters would have most likely wreaked terrible slaughter on those who opposed Imperial rule, and due to their bellicose and merciless natures, developed a savage culture as a result. Executioners, Flesh Eaters, Charnel Guard (Suspected), Marines Malevolent (Allegedly), Scythes of the Emperor
c. Late-500s or Early-600's.M32 This Founding occurred several standard decades after the climax of the catastrophic events of the War of the Beast - the massive Ork WAAAGH! Warlord known only as The Beast - which laid waste to much of the known galaxy and threatened to destroy Terra itself. Following the successful eradication of the massive greenskin invasion force and the defeat of its Warlord, the Lord Commander of the Imperium Maximus Thane, decreed that the Imperium would raise as many new Chapters as they had gene-seed in the great vaults of Terra to sustain. All Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes were ordered to release a portion of their Veterans to provide the initial basis for this Founding, the greatest since the First Founding. Gene-seed tithing would be doubled for the next standard century to replenish the vaults. When it was done, there would be hundreds of Chapters to ring the Imperium in adamantium and ceramite instead of dozens. After enough gene-seed had been collected in the vaults on Terra, the High Lords of Terra authorised the 4th Founding of the Adeptus Astartes, sometime in the latter fifth century or early sixth century of M32, to help bring order to an Imperium rife with civil strife and insurrection, and to help restore Imperial law. Carcharodons (Allegedly), Halo Brethren, Imperius Reavers, Marines Malevolent (Allegedly), Sable Swords
ca. 220.M33 Though the exact date of the 5th Founding is unknown, what is known with any certainty is that the Howling Griffons were created around this time in 220.M33. Howling Griffons
831.M33 Though the exact date of the 6th Founding is unknown, what is known with any certainty is that it occurred around 831.M33, The Year of Ghosts, an event where the honoured dead rose up to defeat the terrors of the Warp.
Unstated Though the exact date of the 7th Founding is Unknown, it is generally believed that it occurred just before the disastrous even known as The Howling in 401.M34.
598.M35 The 8th Founding occurred in 598.M35. Mantis Warriors,

Angels Revenant

Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between ca. 500.M34 and 600.M35. (See 11th)
Unstated This Founding occurred in the mid to late-M35th Millennium. (See 11th) Astral Claws
Unstated This Founding occurred during the Nova Terra Interregnum. (075-975.M35). These four Foundings (9th-12th) have one thing in common -- they all occurred during this tumultuous time in Imperial history. This was a time of extreme civil unrest and rebellious conflict in the Imperium, when the Ur-Council of Nova Terra declared independence from the rule of the High Lords of Terra, and declared the whole Segementum Pacificus independent of Imperial rule. Those Chapters that were created during these Foundings were more than likely battle-hardened and unforgiving, and were most likely founded out of a need to stabilize the Imperium's borders. Thus, Chapters of these Foundings were more than likely posted in or near volatile, dangerous areas that the Imperium felt needed more firepower and the swift retribution of the Adeptus Astartes.
Unstated Though the exact date of the 12th Founding is Unknown, it was one of several linked Foundings that were created during the tumultuous times of the Nova Terra Interregnum (075-975.M35). This Founding occurred sometime around Mid to Late-M35.
Unstated The 13th Founding, the so-called 'Dark Founding', was an infamous Founding known for the fact that it was the only Founding of which almost nothing is known of. Since the bygone days of the Horus Heresy, the Adeptus Terra has maintained a bank of original gene-seed from every single Chapter ever created, with one notable exception: the 13th Founding, also known as the "Dark Founding." There are no reliable records that indicate how many Chapters were created during the Dark Founding or what became of them. There are only two acknowledged Chapters that were created during this mysterious Founding. If you create a Chapter from this Founding, some very unique and fun things can be done with them. Your Chapter may be charged with keeping watch over a particularly dangerous secret or threat, like guarding one of the Imperium's forbidden zones, like the Death Spectres. The Chapter might have been granted unique equipment or training for facing a specific enemy. They may have even undergone experimental procedures to improve their combat capabilities or grant them unusual abilities, like the Exorcists Chapter, though they wouldn't have any alterations as drastic as those of the 21st Founding. If you make a Chapter of this Founding you should capitalize on their mystery by making their gene-sire unknown. This Founding is great for when you want a Chapter with close ties to the Inquisition. It should be noted, however, that Chapters from other Foundings may find Chapters of the 13th Founding as being untrustworthy. Death Spectres, Exorcists
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
Unstated This Founding occurred somewhere between 975-991.M35, exact date is unknown.
991.M35 During the 21st Founding, known as the 'Cursed Founding', was the largest Founding of Space Marine Chapters since the Second Founding following the Horus Heresy. It took place in 991.M35, on the cusp of the 36th Millennium, shortly before the start of the Age of Apostasy. The focus of the 21st Founding for the Adeptus Mechanicus was perfecting and removing the existing, identified deficiencies in flawed Adeptus Astartes gene-seed, and ultimately the production of new and improved Primarch-like Space Marines as part of what was called "Project Homo Sapiens Novus". Unfortunately, the Adeptus Mechanicus' Genetors proved far less skilled in the genetic sciences than the Emperor of Mankind, and their efforts resulted in the development of seriously flawed gene-seed that was used to craft the organ implants for the new Chapters. The various dark ends that have befallen many of this Founding's Chapters have entered it into the lore of the Inquisition and the Space Marines alike as the so-called "Cursed Founding," and with good reason, and many now consider those Chapters created under its auspices as tainted from their very birth. Although some Chapters among those of this Founding were spared a devolution into something no longer human or sane, its mark is still upon them in the eyes of their fellow Space Marines, many of whom grew to shun these Chapters, regardless of their undoubted loyalty to the Imperium and noble defence of its people. Worse still, some of these Chapters have developed unexpected genetic idiosyncrasies, mutations that strain the tolerance of the Inquisition and threaten the Chapter's survival. If one were to create a Chapter from this Founding they would be part of a few, surviving Chapter that has as of yet avoided calamity or destruction. 21st Founding Chapters can have all sort of unique traits and mutations, though you have to be careful how you right them. After all, genetic instability is amongst the most common grounds for Chapters to be destroyed. In addition to whatever physical differences they might possess, your Chapter is also likely to enjoy a feared reputation from enemies and allies alike. The drawback is that your Chapter isn't going to have a lot of allies. Remember, everybody else thinks they're cursed. In their eyes it is only a matter of time before your Chapter goes rogue, devolves into grotesque mutants or falls victim to some epic disaster. Thus they aren't to keen to stand close by your Chapter's side, less they too are dragged into whatever calamity your Chapter is destined for. Many Imperial forces may refuse to fight alongside you. They are just watching and waiting for your Chapter to fall from grace, and thus you can only count on the most open-minded, reckless or desperate of forces to befriend your Chapter. Black Dragons, Fire Hawks, Flame Falcons, Lamenters, Minotaurs, Sons of Antaneus, Blood Gorgons
Unstated This Founding occurred right before the Great Culling (020.M37), in the early-M37th Millennium.
Unstated The 23rd Founding, also known as the 'Sentinel Founding', occurred during the latter part of the 37th Millennium. Imperial scholars believe that the 23rd Founding was one of a series of linked Foundings that took place during this tumultuous period in Imperial history and that they were intended to repair the power and reach of the Adeptus Astartes that had suffered considerable losses in the preceding millennia. According to the Requiem Malesent of Saint Kybra, no fewer than 57 Space Marine Chapters had been destroyed, turned Renegade or declared lost in the Warp during this troubled period. The era had been marked by such calamities as the Age of Apostasy, the disastrous 21st 'Cursed' Founding, the attacks of the Forces of Chaos and a rampage of Orks almost unchecked along the Imperium of Man's frontiers. Several of the Space Marine Chapters Founded at this time were conceived as Chapters that would pursue perpetual Crusades against the Emperor's foes. They were created from the most stable gene-seed stocks available to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Sentinel Chapters tend to be restless, and possessed of a strong crusader's zeal. This Founding is filled with Crusading Chapters that plunged into the battlefields of the far future almost as soon as they were created, and never stopped fighting. Thus like the Chapter of 8th-12th Founding, they are likely to be battle-hardened. But while those Chapters gained their experience from being posted in areas where the enemies of Mankind attacked relentlessly, the Sentinel Chapters gained their bones by taking the fight to the enemy. When there is no one to fight, they don't patrol areas of space waiting for a distress call. These Chapters go wherever the enemy is, and bring the fight to them! For this reason, this Founding has gained the respect and admiration in the eyes of their more venerable peers. Imperial Harbingers, Marines Errant, Star Phantoms, Steel Cobras
Unstated This Founding occurred in M39, when Age of Waning began.
Unstated The 25th Founding, known also as the 'Bastion Founding', occurred in late M40. Your Chapter is young. So they don't have the storied history that the older Chapters have. However you should not count them out. Just because these Chapters don't have the same experience that older Chapters have doesn't mean that they are any less capable. Since they are young they will be eager to get out into the galaxy, and prove their worth to their older brothers. Plus they have chosen a great time to do it. The Imperium is facing more dangers than ever before. Chaos is gaining momentum, the Tyranids have smashed into the galaxy, and aliens that would have never dared defy the Imperium before are now brazenly striking out against the Imperium. Your new boys have their work cut out for them, but they have yet to be worn down by millennia of combat, and are likely to be flexible and less set in their ways than the older Chapters, who have long since put their trust in their time-tested methods and rigorous adherence in the Codex Astartes. Celestial Lions, Spears, Fire Angels, Omega Marines, Star Scorpions
738.M41 Before recent events, the 26th Founding of Space Marine Chapters was the most recent one, which occurred in 738.M41. There are only two known Chapters that were Founded at this time -- the Mentors and the Storm Giants. (See 25th Founding) Mentor Legion, Storm Giants
999.M41 The 27th Founding, known officially as the Ultima Founding, occurred in 999.M41 in the wake of the events of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade and the fall of Cadia. These newly founded Chapters have been created entirely from a new stock of gene-seed, creating the larger, much faster and superior Primaris Space Marines -- crafted over ten millennia by Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl -- as the supreme contingency plan and the ultimate defenders of the Imperium of Man against the darkness that now encroaches from all sides.

After the resurrection of the long dead Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman from his deathless slumber, the Avenging Son immediately set out on his Terran Crusade, to seek and audience with his father, the Emperor of Mankind. After he succeeded in this endeavour, he immediately assumed command of the High Lords of Terra, and acting as the Lord Commander of the Imperium, assumed command of all of the Imperium's military forces. As the terrible encroaching darkness descended upon the galaxy, the Primarch enacted his ultimate contingency plan, which had long been put into motion by Guilliman 100 standard centuries past. By order of Roboute Guilliman, the Ultima Founding took place, and many newly Founded Chapters were comprised entirely of Primaris Space Marines. Launching his Indomitus Crusade, Guilliman gifted thousands of Primaris Space Marines to help alleviate the losses suffered by several existing Chapters.

Blades of Vengeance, Fulminators, Knights Cerulean, Knights of the Chalice, Praetors of Ultramar, Rift Stalkers, Storm Reapers & Wolfspear


"Even he who dies, lives, in the blood of his brothers and the deeds of the Chapter."
— Chief Apothecary Sol Konna of the Star Dragons

Perhaps the single most important consideration in creating your own Chapter is the source of its gene-stock, and how "pure" the Chapter's inheritance is. Even a Chapter created using the gene-seed of a Progenitor as pure as the Ultramarines may have developed deficiencies in its genetic inheritance, with some zygotes becoming irreparably unstable over the generations.

Gene-Seed Implants

Gene-seed implants are organs that work with an aspirant's own body tissues, stimulating natural abilities such as muscle growth, or creating abilities that are wholly new. Organ implantation goes hand in hand with a harsh routine of physical and spiritual training. This is achieved by means of hypnotic suggestion, prolonged meditation, psychological and spiritual testing, and gradual initiation into the rites and traditions of the Chapter. It is a long and sometimes fatal process that must be done in the correct order. In this way, a Space Marine is engineered and modified to become stronger, faster and tougher than any normal human could ever be, able to endure the harshest conditions without concern.

Nearly every Space Marine created since the First Founding possesses nineteen specialised organs derived from this gene-seed. The Primaris Marines, however – originally engineered by the Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl on the orders of Roboute Guilliman – are implanted with a further three additional organs. This was made possible through the use of the ancient device known as the Sangprimus Portum which contains potent genetic material harvested from all 20 original Primarchs, that allowed for this breakthrough. Due to Cawl's interpretation of his orders and the millennia-spanning labour of his task – during which Guilliman was injured and suspended in stasis – the secrets of these new Primaris organs were not released until late in the 41st Millennium.

Space Marine Organs

Phase 1
Secondary Heart
(The Maintainer)
Boosts blood supply, maintains life functions if primary heart destroyed.
Phase 2
(The Ironheart)
Strengthens bones, fuses ribs.
Phase 3
(The Forge of Strength)
Releases hormones that massively increase musculature and strength.
Phase 4
(The Blood Maker)
Improves blood chemistry.
Phase 5
Larraman's Organ
(The Healer)
Enables hyper-rapid clotting to staunch wounds almost immediately.
Phase 6
Catalepsean Node
(The Unsleeping)
Controls circadian rhythms, ensures peak performance without sleep.
Phase 7
(The Neutraliser)
Pre-stomach allowing digestion of poisonous/inedible materials.
Phase 8
(The Remembrancer)
Effects partial memory transfer from consumed flesh/genetic material.
Phase 9
(The Imbiber)
Breathes toxic air/water/etc.
Phase 10
(The Eye of Vengeance)
Sharper eyesight and enhanced low-light vision.
Phase 11
Lyman's Ear
(The Sentinel)
Filters sound, enhances balance.
Phase 12
Sus-an Membrane
(The Hibernator)
Allows voluntary state of hibernation.
Phase 13
(The Skinshield)
Releases photo-chromatic skin pigments to protect against radiation.
Phase 14
Oolitic Kidney
(The Purifier)
Detoxification organ.
Phase 15
(The Devourer)
Enhance taste and smell to detect trace toxins, nutrients ect.
Phase 16
(The Weaver)
Secretes a waxy substance onto the skin to seal against extreme temperatures and vacuum.
Phase 17
Betcher's Gland
(The Poison Bite)
Modified salivary gland producing acidic poison.
Phase 18
Progenoid Glands
(The Gene-Seed)
Two glands, one in neck, one in chest. When extracted and cultured, produces new organs.
Phase 19
(The Black Carapace)
Subcutaneous uplink to neural controls of power armour and Terminator armour.

Primaris Space Marine Organs

Phase 20
Sinew Coils
(The Steel Within)
Durametallic coil cables woven into sinews to hugely increase strength and durability.
Phase 21
(The Amplifier)
Increases growth, enhances function of other organs, especially Biscopea and Ossmudula.
Phases 22
Belisarian Furnace
(The Revitaliser)
Dormant gland. When triggered produces hyper-cocktail of combat stimms and enhanced rapid fresh regrowth before falling dormant again.

Gene-Stock Purity

Having determined which First Founding Legion provided the basis of the new Chapter's gene-stock, then one has to determine the gene-stock's purity. For example, a battle-brother from a Chapter created using the genetic inheritance of the Ultramarines, would more than likely be a Codex-oriented, and have the same demeanour and traditions as their Progenitors. However, not all Successors follow their Progenitor's traditions or share all of its genetic inheritance. While some Chapters are created using the "pure" gene-seed of the Progenitors, others are created using later generation Successors of the same Legion. Thus, a Chapter of the Twenty-Sixth Founding could actually have a "purer" genetic inheritance than one of the Sixth, for example, depending on which Progenitor or Successor provided the gene-stock. In writing terms, this is relevant because players may want to know how closely the new Chapter resembles its Progenitor. Below are four most common gene-stock purity types:

  • Pure - The new Chapter is a direct descendant of its Progenitor. It is likely to maintain close contact with its Progenitor and many brother Successors, and follows the traditions of its peers closely. Characters drawn from such Chapters follow all of the rules for those of their Progenitor
  • A New Generation - Attempts have been made to "breed out" real or perceived flaws in the Progenitor’s gene-stock, introducing some divergence. Such Chapters often go on to define their own traditions and write their own histories, looking forward to the future more than back to the past. Some links may be maintained with the Progenitor Chapter, but it is just as likely that the new Chapter strikes out entirely on its own. Battle-brothers from this Chapter follow all the same rules for those drawn from its Progenitor, but are not tied to the Progenitor's Chapter deameanour.
  • Altered Stock ("Chimeric") - For whatever reason, the Chapter’s gene-seed has subtly altered, causing some zygotes to become deficient. While some links are maintained with the Progenitor, the Battle-Brothers of the Chapter may be shunned, for they appear subtly different to their brethren. Battle-brotherss drawn from this Chapter follow the normal rules for the Progenitor, but often possess gene-seed deficiencies.
  • Flawed - A major flaw has been introduced, marking the Chapter apart from its brother Successors. Chapters suffering some kind of flaw are often forced to forge their own destiny, either embracing their fate or raging against it. Some go on to earn glory despite their flaw, while others are consumed by it, burning brightly, if all too briefly.

Gene-Seed Deficiencies

Even the most noble of Chapters with the most glorious of histories can suffer instabilities in their gene-seed. In some cases the gene-stock is of such antiquity that it is inevitable that some small degree of mutation has crept in over the millennia. In others, mutations come about as an unanticipated side effect of an attempt to rectify another issue. Thus, any Chapter, from the First Founding from the Twenty-Sixth, can exhibit deficiencies in its gene-seed. The Imperial Fists for example lack the Betcher's gland and sus-an membrane zygotes, their gene-stock having becoming unstable, and this trait has been inherited by many of their Successors, including the Black Templars. The zygote of the Salamanders Chapter has reacted with the radiation in which their home world is bathed in such a way that their eyes burn a deep red and their skin is almost jet-black, lending them a fearsome appearance yet imparting no specific deficiencies.

Listed below is a table that shows the percentage of deficiency for each First Founding Chapter:

% Chance of Deficiency
Blood Angels
Dark Angels
Imperial Fists
White Scars
Raven Guard
Iron Hands
Space Wolves

Chapters drawn from the gene-stock of the Ultramarines are very unlikely to exhibit any deficiencies in their gene-seed, for their Progenitor's stock is amongst the purest in existence. That is not to say that such issues may have crept in to an Ultramarines Successor's zygotes, however, possibly due to external factors such as damage caused by exposure to mutating environments, failed genetic manipulation or even xenos influence.

Chapter Flaws

Some Chapters are afflicted by a flaw that transcends mere zygote mutation and comes to totally define them. Sometimes the flaw is linked to a nigh-catastrophic genetic malfunction, but just as often it is tied to the essential nature of the Progenitor's Primarch, the stock from which they recruit or to some other, inexplicable factor. Many such flaws are two-edged swords, providing unheard of benefits balanced against terrible drawbacks. The Blood Angels suffer such a fate, for their own flaw is at once the source of their nobility and drive for perfection in all things, and the curse that forces them to relive the dying moments of their beloved Primarch in the heat of battle.


The gene-seed of the Ultramarines is highly regarded as one of the most stable, with no singular or notable physical mutation beyond the expected pattern, with full functionality of implanted organs to projected specifications, and only a ten percent chance of mutation. Psycho-organically, initiates are noted to display increased aggression, as is to be expected, but also a marked tendency towards cohesion and the adoption of hierarchy, alongside an almost pathological dedication to the achievement of an assigned goal, particularly when compared against the psychological profiles of certain other Chapters, who demonstrate more markedly heightened individualistic and fractious tendencies post-implantation, such as the White Scars or Space Wolves.

Primarch's Curse: Honour the Codex

In all of their duties, from battle to study, the Ultramarines are thorough, analytical, and attentive to every detail. They are slow to anger and rarely make a rash decision. By constant recourse to the articles of faith enshrined within the Codex Astartes, the Ultramarines are able to face any eventuality with well-practised battle drills and established doctrine. In their dealings with Battle-Brothers from other Chapters, Ultramarines often fulfil the role of facilitator and peacemaker. While the Battle-Brothers of some Chapters display extremes of character, from hotheaded to taciturn, the Ultramarines are balanced in their approach, and often able to broker agreements between wildly differing points of view. Do to their outlook and character, an Ultramarine is likely to turn to the vast tracts of the Codex Astartes that he has memorised for the solution to a problem.

Blood Angels

Primarch's Curse: Twin-Curses

The Blood Angels carry with them the twin genetic curses of Sanguinius. Known as The Flaw, these genetic curses known separately as the Red Thirst and the Black Rage. The Flaw of the Blood Angels has also been attributed to a combination of the genetic defects in the Legion's Omophagea gene-seed organ implant, and the psychic disturbance created during the final seconds of Sanguinius' life. During the battles of the Horus Heresy on Terra and Mars, the stored gene-seed imprint of the Blood Angels was lost, forcing the Legion to have to extract the gene-seed needed for their reconstruction after the Heresy from the fallen body of their Primarch himself. Every Space Marine created from the gene-seed drawn from Sanguinius after his death was doomed to fall to the Flaw.

The Red Thirst

Deep within the psyche of every Blood Angel is a destructive yearning, a battle fury and blood-hunger that must be held in abeyance in every waking moment. Few Battle-Brothers can hold this Red Thirst in check unceasingly -- it is far from unknown for Blood Angels to temporarily succumb to its lure at the height of battle. The Red Thirst is the Blood Angels' darkest secret and greatest curse, but it is also their greatest salvation, for it brings with it a humility and understanding of their own failings which make them truly the most noble of the Space Marines.

The Black Rage

The Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters still suffer from the psychic imprint left by Sanguinius' death (or by the daemonic "wound" caused on Signus Prime). This can cause them to go insane prior to or during battle and feel the rage that Sanguinius himself felt during the Battle of Terra. Rather than let them face a slow, insane death, Blood Angels will form those who have newly succumbed to the Black Rage into a special unit known as the Death Company.

They wear specially painted black Power Armour, and are often led by the few Chapter officers, notably Blood Angels Chaplains, who are still able to communicate orders to the insane troops and who are still obeyed by them, perhaps because Chaplains directly represent the authority of the Emperor. The members of the Death Company are then sent out to perform the most dangerous assaults, hoping for a quick and honourable death in combat.

Dark Angels

As the I Legion of the Space Marine Legions, the Dark Angels' gene-seed is one of the purest and least degraded of all. There are no known aberrations in the Dark Angels' gene-seed, which makes the reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to utilise it in the founding of new Chapters perplexing. The Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters, collectively known as the Unforgiven, have an unusually close bond, often working hand-in-hand with one another. But often, these Chapters have a tendency to be highly suspicious of outsiders and often appear unreasonably aloof and intransigent. Indeed, there have been a number of occasions where the Dark Angels or one of the Unforgiven have withdrawn suddenly and with no explanation from a warzone when confronted by an Inquisitor or Missionary. Rumours continue to persist of nepotism and legion building. Over time these factors have led to the Unforgiven being regarded with distrust. Despite their impeccably pure gene-seed, the Dark Angels have been passed over for many of the Foundings that have created fresh Chapters to fight the Imperium's wars. Yet from time to time the Adeptus Terra have been forced to permit the Dark Angels another Founding, the records of which have mysteriously vanished shortly afterward. In this way, an uncertain number of Unforgiven Chapters have been created, each giving every outward appearance of fighting their own wars for the Imperium, while secretly aiding in the Dark Angels' hidden hunt.

Primarch's Curse: Dark Nature

Although only the upper echelons of the Chapter are aware of the awful truth of the Dark Angels' past, even those newly recruited are possessed of a secretive, even introverted nature. The idea that outsiders are not to be trusted is drilled into the recruits from an early stage, and they are tested continuously to ensure their compliance until it becomes second nature. After all, a brother who cannot be entirely trusted to keep the Chapter's secrets is unlikely to advance through its ranks. Although the Dark Angels have fought beside all of the branches of the Imperium's vast military machine, they prefer to stand beside other Space Marines. Many, even brother Astartes, find the Dark Angels aloof and uncommunicative. The Dark Angels, for their part are impatient and unforgiving with strangers who pry into their affairs. In truth, those Dark Angels who are aware of the existence of the Fallen are ever watchful for any sign of their activity, and will abandon whatever mission they are about should they gain any clue that one is nearby.

The Dark Angels are also notoriously intolerant of non-humans and will often refuse to fight alongside armies that include abhuman warriors or alien races. They are highly suspicious of outsiders and often appear unreasonably aloof and intransigent. Indeed, there have been a number of occasions where Dark Angels have withdrawn suddenly and with no explanation from a warzone when confronted by an Inquisitor or missionary. Despite such incidents, many Dark Angels have served with distinction and honour. Their taciturn nature and stubborn refusal to accept anything other than total victory over their foes has served the Unforgiven well.

Imperial Fists

The Imperial Fists' gene-seed is very stable and has never exhibited signs of mutation. However, over time they have lost the use of two of the special organs produced by the basic Astartes genetic template: the Betcher's Gland, which allows a Space Marine to produce poisonous/acidic spittle, and the Sus-an Membrane, which allows an Astartes to enter a state of suspended animation.

Another peculiar and unexplained quirk of the Chapter is the Imperial Fists' pathological need to scrimshaw the bones of their dead when off-duty. Scrimshaw is considered a solemn undertaking to the Astartes of this Chapter. It is seen as a way to practice mental discipline, focus, and attention to detail. Oftentimes the finished scrimshaws are worn as jewelry and ornamentation, particularly by the Chapter's officers. None know the roots of this practice, which for many Imperial Fists becomes an obsession they must indulge every hour they are not fighting or training. The bones of slain kin are engraved in minute detail, every surface lovingly covered in lines of devotional script and illuminated scenes depicting the deeds of the fallen. Even the bones of the Chapter's Primarch have been engraved in this manner, preserved as the most sacred relic the Chapter possesses.

Primarch's Curse: Death Before Dishonour

All Space Marines are the product of their genetic inheritance, benefiting from its blessings as well as suffering from its shortcomings, and the Imperial Fists are no different. The Chapter's Primarch was a deeply devoted warrior who fought tirelessly at the right hand of the Emperor, but even this towering exemplar had his flaws, as he himself is known to have acknowledged. Perhaps because of his dedication, Dorn was devastated when the Emperor fell, and shouldered far more than his fair share of the blame. He cast himself into a crusade of redemption that only ended in the terrible crucible of the Iron Cage, re-forging the Legion in the bloody furnace of war. Dorn's glorious legacy lives on through the Imperial Fists, but so too does his curse. This usually occurs in three levels:

  • Level 1 (Suffer Not Failure) - The Battle-Brother believes himself deficient in some manner, whether real or imagined, and becomes truculent and obstructive when ordered to redeploy in the face of a stronger foe. When acting as a squad leader or Deathwatch Kill-Team leader, he makes demands of his squad that others might consider unreasonable, and views any disagreement as outright disobedience.
  • Level 2 (Beware Hubris) - The Battle-Brother spends his every waking moment brooding on past battles, seeking even the slightest flaw in his own deeds, and those of others. While he stops short of outright criticism of his Battle-Brothers, he condemns his own actions as falling short of the example set by his Primarch, and seeks to redeem himself in the fires of battle.
  • Level 3 (None Are Flawless) - The Battle-Brother obsessively reviews every detail of every mission he takes part in, finding fault with his own actions and those of his squad. He becomes withdrawn, maudlin and confrontational, and unwilling to accept or issue any order that does not result in imminent battle.

This worrying trait has attracted scrutiny from Imperial authorities, most especially the Imperial Fists' over-zealous use of self-castigation. They often make use of a device called the "Pain Glove", which encases the whole body and stimulates its pain neurons. The Imperial Fists constantly feel the need to punish themselves for the smallest inadequacy, failure or infraction. The last remaining relic of Rogal Dorn, his skeletal hand, is displayed in their fortress-monastery on the Phalanx as a reminder of the ultimate dedication their duty and the Emperor require of the Space Marines. Considering the circumstances of Rogal Dorn's eventual death, it is clear that the Imperial Fists have a drive for self-sacrifice that they must continually battle to overcome.

Although the Imperial Fists have a preference for long-range engagement and specialise in siege warfare, they are also well-known for their passion for dueling, a tradition thought to date back to the earliest days of the old Legion, before it even left Terra on the Great Crusade. The Imperial Fists engage in ceaseless duels against one another, sometimes to settle a point of honour but more often to test themselves and their swordsmanship. The most experienced and long-serving Imperial Fists sport numerous duelling scars all over their bodies, each a reminder of a hard-won victory, or a salutary defeat.

Dorn's Darkness

Another genetic deficiency that afflicts at least one of the Imperial Fists' Successor Chapters is known as 'Dorn's Darkness'. Most notably, Second Founding Chapters, such as the Excoriators, are afflicted by this genetic curse. When Dorn's Darkness takes one of their number it might appear to the untrained eye as merely a wretched palsy: a slackness of the jaw, a tremor of the limb, a blankness of the eye. But those who survive it report the experience as a living nightmare, a sleeping wakefulness in which they relive the bottomless woe of Dorn's most trying time -- the grievous mortal wounding of the Emperor of Mankind during the final hours of the Battle of Terra. This is both the genetic blessing of the Sons of Dorn's Primarch and a curse upon his sons. It is to know the possibility -- for even a second -- of an Imperium without the Emperor. To feel what Dorn felt. The profound misery of a Primarch. The paralysing fear that even a man as great as Dorn experienced, for himself and for Mankind, over the Emperor's broken body after the end of His battle with Horus.

Whilst enthralled by the Darkness, its victims cannot speak or communicate. They cannot feed themselves or take water and seem feverishly insensible to everything happening about them. Those who fall victims to the Darkness are left in the care of the Chapter's Reclusiarch, or senior Chaplain, offering the victims of the Darkness a spiritual treatment that either cures them or ultimately results in their deaths. The solution to the affliction of the Darkness is to create a spiritual darkness of his own within the stasis sarcophagus. It is the most solitary of confinements, where no self-respecting battle-brother need look upon his own weakness and invalidity and where he might summon the strength of will to banish the Darkness of the Primarch and recover his sanity.

White Scars

Primarch's Curse: Chogorian Savagery

It is unknown whether the controlled savagery of the White Scars came originally from Jaghatai Khan, or from the wild and fierce people of Chogoris themselves, or even some combination of the two, but whatever the cause, there is a ferocity within their hearts and their blood that grants them great power, but which also threatens to consume all that they are and damn them. All White Scars are watchful for this necessary yet insidious savagery, and it is only with great discipline, humble introspection and often the watchfulness of their Battle-Brothers that they can hope to master themselves. This genetic curse manifests itself in only two stages:

  • Level 1 (A Moment Unrestrained): The Battle-Brother's discipline begins to slip and falter, allowing brief moments of untamed ferocity to emerge in the heat of battle. Often, the Battle-Brother will not even know that he is succumbing to this savagery, and it requires the presence of his Brothers to warn him of his failure.
  • Level 2 (Suppressed Rage): Within the darkest reaches of the Battle-Brother's mind lurks the shadow of his rage and fury, seeking any opportunity to emerge, and causing the Battle-Brother to become belligerent and quick to anger.

Raven Guard

Primarch's Curse: Lure of the Shadows

Like many Chapters, the Raven Guard also suffer from certain genetic deficiencies. The Raven Guard's demeanour heavily reflects their combat doctrine. Generally reserved, Raven Guards stay in the shadows until the right time to speak. When they do pitch in they tend to be very recalcitrant and terse, often condemning the more direct tactics of their fellow Chapters. As they become unstable, they begin to mimic the sullen nature of their Primarch before his mysterious disappearance. This usually occurs in three stages:

  • Level 1 - The Battle-Brother is used to working in his small Raven Guard strike team, and finds the direct tactics used by other Chapters to be brutish and ineffective. When commanded into a direct attack that he finds foolhardy, the Battle-Brother is resistant, almost to the level of disobedience.
  • Level 2 - Becoming increasingly intractable, the Battle-Brother is quiet and brooding. In mission briefings he stays in the shadows, only speaking when absolutely necessary. For example, the fellow members of a Deathwatch Kill-Team would feel uneasy around the moody Battle-Brother, tending to avoid him when possible.
  • Level 3 - The Battle-Brother despises the tactics of his fellow Battle-Brothers, knowing that his more intelligent approach is the best way to victory.

Iron Hands

Primarch's Curse: Steel Over Flesh

It is said that the bitter rage of the Iron Hands was born in the fires of betrayal upon Istvaan V. The most horrific loss in that battle was the loss of Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands Primarch. He disappeared during the massacre, and his body was never found or recovered. Rather than fall into despair, the Iron Hands took refuge in their hate, and they have used that hatred to eliminate any perceived weakness so that they may remain strong. By removing the dangerous failings of the flesh, the Iron Hands believe that they are eradicating any threats to the eventual dominance of Humanity over the galaxy.

  • Level 1 (A Disdain for Flesh) - The Battle-Brother perceives his own flesh as a hindrance. Scarring or punishing the biological portions of his body is the only way to sooth his anger.
  • Level 2 (Cold Fury) - The ruthlessness of the Iron Hands manifests more strongly in the Battle-Brother, making him prone to aggression.
  • Level 3 (Zero Tolerance) - All Iron Hands abhor weakness, but the Battle-Brother has taken this attitude to an extreme. The Battle-Brother will seek to remove any perceived source of weakness, to the point of refusing to fight alongside allied forces such as the Imperial Guard - in extreme cases, even entering into open conflict with an allied force.

Space Wolves

The Space Wolves have long stood apart from the rest of the Adeptus Astartes. Distant and aloof, they were separated not only by bellicose demeanour, but by an almost impenetrable web of self-generated myth and allegory which guarded well the ancient VI Legion's secrets, not only of who they were but what they had done in the service of the Master of Mankind. The unique gene-seed of the Space Wolves, altered as it was by the inclusion of what is known as the Canis Helix, had both its advantages and disadvantages, making them at once more animalistic than their fellow Astartes -- a factor which made them uncommonly talented hunters and ferocious killers -- but also more readily prey to the power of their own instincts and drives. To their detractors, it made them more beasts than men.

Primarch's Curse: Curse of the Wulfen

The frightening potency of the Canis Helix is legendary, and has accounted for the loss of the lives of millions of Aspirants as their bodies writhe and churn in anguish. When it is first implanted within an Aspirant, the genetic sequence will work hideous changes on the warrior's mind and body; they revert to a primal state where their bones split and buckle, thick hair sprouts from across their body and their only desire is to gorge on fresh meat and glut themselves on blood. The warrior's body mass grows by up to eighty percent, many of the bones fuse, and canine fangs sprout from his gums. While in the midst of this radical and severely painful transformation, a warrior must overcome the shadow within himself, lest they are overcome and fall to the Curse of the Wulfen and become a giant, feral creature no longer sane or human.

Legacy of the Wolf King

The Battle-Brothers of the Space Wolves are ferocious and aggressive warriors. Though far from mindless berserkers, they are certainly possessed of a feral exuberance for battle. They have an overriding sense of duty and honour, and are driven ever onwards by a strong desire to right the many wrongs that have befallen the Imperium of Man since the heady days of the Great Crusade. Space Wolves exhibit a fierce sense of loyalty to their comrades in arms and this is on occasion extended to their compatriots in other branches of the Imperium's military.

Although as devoted to the Emperor as any other Space Marine Chapter, the Space Wolves express their faith not in prayer and piety, but in feats of arms. While the Battle-Brothers of other Chapters may spend the night before battle in solemn meditation, the Space Wolves are more likely to mark the eve of battle in bawdy celebration, raising overflowing jacks of Fenrisian ale to brothers they may be mourning once battle is done. A Space Wolf will drink and make merry, for tomorrow, he may die.

In temperament, most Space Wolves are blunt and plain speaking, even to the point of giving offence to those not used to their ways. They abhor pretension and despise politicking. They are honest to a fault, and expect the same quality in those they fight alongside. Space Wolves embrace their lot with an uncomplicated enthusiasm, from the headstrong, newly recruited Blood Claw to the grey haired and taciturn Long Fang. Each plays the role fate lays before him, knowing that a life spent in service to the Emperor is a life well lived. In the face of an enemy attack, the warrior bounds forward like a Fenrisian wolf on the hunt, a joyous song of war on his lips.


Primarch's Curse: Unyielding

With a culture that emphasises endurance and self-sacrifice, the Salamanders are renowned for their stubborn nature. The Salamanders are not swift to determine a course of action, and slower still to change their minds once they have decided. However, it is a fine line between determination and obstinacy, and Battle-Brothers must be watchful that their stubbornness does not grow. This genetic curse usually occurs in three stages:

  • Level 1 (Unrelenting): The Battle-Brother cannot easily change his mind once he has decided upon something. Having weighed the facts of the situation, he sees his current course of action as the best one, and cannot easily consider alternatives.
  • Level 2 (Intransigent): The Battle-Brother is unwilling to compromise and is difficult to reason with. His stubborn nature prevents him from regarding any alternatives to his point of view. Unable to reconcile with the rest of his squad, the affected Battle-Brother often chooses only to rely on himself, thereby reducing his squad's overall cohesion.
  • Level 3 (Obstinate): The Battle-Brother is slow to decide and is unlikely ever to change his views on any matter, and will die before relenting in any situation.


Primarch's Curse: The Strong are Strongest Alone

The Battle-Brothers of the Adeptus Astartes are the champions of Mankind, but in becoming so they have surrendered much of what makes them human. When extremes of stress and trauma stretch even the prodigious mental and spiritual strength of a Space Marine, those qualities that make him a glorious exemplar of Humanity may turn him into the very opposite.

  • Level 1 (Contemptuous of Lesser Men): The Battle-Brother comes to regard all outside of the Adeptus Astartes as thankless curs, undeserving of the sacrifices he and his brethren have made in the name of Humanity.
  • Level 2 (Distrustful of his Brothers): Continued spiritual trauma causes the Battle-Brother to resent even other Space Marines, who he comes to believe are belittling the deeds of his own Chapter. The Battle-Brother even comes to resent those drawn from his Progenitor Chapter, perceiving slights in all they say and do.
  • Level 3 (The Champion Stands Alone): Eventually, the Battle-Brother comes to believe that he alone can bear the weight of responsibility vested in the Adeptus Astartes by the Emperor of Mankind. He withdraws even from his own Kill-Team, and his temper flares at the slightest provocation. If his counsel is not heeded, he might fly into a rage, and if he is not appointed command of a mission, he considers his skill and his honor gravely insulted.

Black Templars

Primarch's Curse: Burn the Witch

Black Templars are filled with a righteous power and hatred for the witch and heretic, even beyond that of other Chapters. It is a religious madness that is often expressed with valor and fearlessness on the battlefield, but it can also turn the Battle-Brother against all creatures touched with the psyker’s gift, be they friend or foe.

  • Level 1 (Fear the Witch): The Battle-Brother is uncomfortable around psykers. He feels their dark powers crawling on his flesh and burrowing into his brain as the Battle-Brother’s disquiet shows through.
  • Level 2 (Hate the Witch): The Battle-Brother can scarcely stand the presence of psykers and abhors their sight. If there is a psyker is in the Battle-Brother’s Kill-Team (such as a Librarian Player Character), or he must work with a psyker ally. Until such a time as the psyker leaves or is killed.
  • Level 3 (Kill the Witch): The Battle-Brother cannot stand any psykers to live and flies into a rage when he sees them. When fighting enemy psykers, the Battle-Brother must seek them out (choosing the most obviously powerful first) and kill them to the exclusion of all other foes. This can be especially problematic for the Kill-Team, should they need to take a psyker alive.

Angels of Redemption

Primarch's Curse: The Secret

The Dark Angels and their Successors (also known as The Unforgiven) have a shadowy past hidden by the weight of history and shrouded in the smoke and blood of the Horus Heresy itself. Few outside the Chapter can even guess at the exact facts surrounding the Chapter’s beginning, and those within its ranks guard their secrets well. Such weighty secrets can come to press heavily on a Battle-Brother’s soul.

  • Level 1 (Dark Dreams): The Battle-Brother is beset with memories of past times and deep, hidden secrets that cast a shadow over periods of rest and meditation. At the start of any mission.
  • Level 2 (Scorn of Outsiders): The Unforgiven has grown to view those outside the Chapter as misguided or ignorant of the truth and cannot bring himself to deal with them any more than necessary. The Battle-Brother cannot command anyone who is not either a member of his Kill-Team or a fellow Unforgiven.
  • Level 3 (Deep Suspicions): Trained in an atmosphere of silence and secrets, the Unforgiven has become very distrustful of anyone outside his Chapter and cannot take the words or promises of others at face value. Unless the Battle-Brother’s Kill-Team is solely comprised of Unforgiven, he will not follow orders or work with them.


Primarch's Curse: Revile the Xenos

While all Space Marines have hatred of the enemies of Mankind, especially those which lurk among the stars preying on the worlds of the Imperium, the Novamarines have fostered a deep revulsion for xenos beyond even that of most of their kind. This is fostered from a thousand battlefields across thousands of light years of space and a history which has seen the Chapter clash with the greatest and vilest of the galaxy's aliens time and again.

At first, this hatred is indistinguishable from that of a normal member of the Adeptus Astartes, forming only the staunch disdain required to face them in combat and turn away their insidious advances against the domain of the Emperor. In time it grows, encompassing all forms of alien life, even those of little interest or threat to the Imperium, until eventually they cannot bear to see the xenos live, even at the cost of prudent tactics and the strained measures of battlefield diplomacy. When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests itself in an affected battle-brother, it comes on in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - Favoured Targets: The Novamarine goes out of his way to target the xenos, ensuring he never misses a chance to strike a blow against the dark cloud of alien aggression closing in on the Imperium. Given a choice, he will always favour taking on alien enemies or making strikes against objectives which will do the most harm to the xenos, even if there is more glory in an alternative cause of action.
  • Stage 2 - Almost Human: There are countless kinds of xenos in the galaxy and not all are as obvious as the great hordes of Orks, the enigmatic Aeldari, ravening Tyranids, or the insidious T'au. Some come in forms which are not too distant from Humanity, or from cultures which are benign and of little or no threat. The Novamarine battle-brother is not fooled by such pale representations of the xenos form, and sees the alien everywhere, even influencing Human worlds where mutation can easily disguise alien corruption. The battle-brother extends his hatred of xenos to anyone or anything which shows even the slightest hint of xenos taint, whether from contact with aliens or alien blood. In his eyes, these tainted Humans and benign aliens are no better than true xenos and should be dealt with as such.
  • Stage 3 - Foe Eternal: No alien can ever be an ally of the battle-brother, and under no circumstances will the xenos ever stop being the most hated of his foes. Even in situations where a temporary alliance with alien forces (such as to fight a greater foe) would be prudent, the battle-brother will not stomach it, considering his own kind as Traitors should they follow it through. In situations where there is diplomacy between xenos and the Imperium, such as a ceasefire or exchange of prisoners, the battle-brother will refuse to take part, discontented with any kind of truce against a foe which only deserves death. In situations where the battle-brother is forced to deal peacefully with xenos (such as orders from his commanders or the will of his squad), he must summon forth all of his willpower for a single encounter, even then remaining hostile, though restraining his violence.

Flesh Tearers

Primarch's Curse: Dark Fury

"Do not fear the Black Rage, for it is a part of your essence. Learn to embrace the fury that comes with it, so that you may direct the savagery toward those foes of the Imperium who deserve our ire. This is our beloved Primarch's gift, and as with all he granted us, it must be proudly accepted."
— Carnarvon, High Chaplain of the Flesh Tearers Death Company

When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests itself in an affected Battle-Brother, it comes on in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - Extreme Frenzy: The Battle-Brother completely loses control when he frenzies and finds it almost impossible to claw his way back to reason as long as there are foes to fight and blades drawn. Even when foes are not near, the madness of Frenzy grips him and he rages endlessly for battle and blood, howling out his anger and striking the ground with his blade. The Battle-Brother must take care, lest he lose control at any moment. Any time the Battle-Brother takes damage, is confronted with a clear threat, or is put in position of great stress, he must summon all his willpower in order to contain his fury for the duration of an encounter with an enemy.
  • Stage 2 - Blood Madness: The Flesh Tearers thirst for the blood of their foes when in the grips of the Red Thirst and long to see it spilled across the ground in great arcs and gouts. They also crave the feeling of hot blood on their skin and splattering across their armour, staining the dark red battle-plate a darker shade still. The Battle-Brother must engage foes in close combat if possible, either making melee attacks against them or shooting point black with pistols so that their blood spills at his feet. When he downs a foe, he must resist the urge to hack or blast the foe's corpse apart. If the Battle-Brother is attacked by a new foe while he is in this state while hacking at another foe, he will turn his attention to his new attacker instead.
  • Stage 3 - Animal Within: Near the end, a Flesh Tearer is little more than an animal filled with fury and madness striking out at all those around him. While he may still have lucid moments where he remembers the warrior he once was, these are fleeting and quickly gone to be replaced with only the thought of killing and the thirst for blood, and he will attack the nearest target (friend or foe) if there is more than one to choose from. At this point, the Battle-Brother is completely within the grip of the Black Rage and must be transferred to the Death Company.


Primarch's Curse: Chill of the Void

The Carcharodons are an insular and taciturn bunch, and this only becomes more pronounced when they are amongst other Space Marines. They also possess a well-deserved reputation for merciless slaughter. If a Carcharodon were to lose his grip on sanity, these traits would likely amplify with unpleasant results. When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests itself in an affected Battle-Brother, it comes on in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - Coldly Formal: The Battle-Brother withdraws even more from the company of his colleagues, taking refuge in a chill and formal demeanour. In addition, the Battle-Brother tends to speak almost entirely in High Gothic when addressing a non-Carcharodon, although they can -- grudgingly -- speak in Low Gothic if need be.
  • Stage 2 - Merciless: The Battle-Brother does not tolerate any enemy, whether xenos, Heretic, or even fellow humans who may have been misled into rebellion against the Imperium's rightful rule. The Battle-Brother grimly executes any opponent he encounters, even if they have surrendered, possess valuable intelligence, or are not front-line combatants.
  • Stage 3 - Silent as the Depths: The Battle-Brother withdraws almost entirely from interacting with others. He will not lead squads and will almost always carry out missions on his own.

Blood Ravens

Primarch's Curse: Deepening Mysteries

The Blood Ravens do not know the name or the lineage of their Primarch and so far there are few clues in their gene-seed to enlighten them. Because of this, a Blood Ravens BattleBrother is more characterised by the nature of his Chapter and its doctrines than the line from which he is descended. For the Blood Ravens, this flaw is based on their hunger for forbidden knowledge and their obsessive quest for the truth behind their creation. A Blood Ravens Space Marine can become consumed by his thirst for knowledge if he is not careful in his pursuit. This comes with the added danger that much of the sort of lore the Blood Ravens seek is dangerous in and of itself, either as proscribed texts or things touched and tainted by the Warp. This genetic curse usually occurs in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - Unhealthy Curiosity: The more answers about their past the Blood Ravens discover, the more questions arise to be answered, leading to an ever-expanding circle of secrets and lies that can consume those without the restraint to know when to stop looking. The Battle-Brother's quest for lore and knowledge has led him into dangerous places, and his continued survival given him a false sense of security and the drive to press on. Whenever the Battle-Brother is presented with the chance to learn a secret or uncover some knowledge either of importance to the Blood Ravens or pertaining to the Adeptus Astartes, he must summon forth his willpower to overcome his overarching obsession with the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Stage 2 - Knowledgeable Obsessions: As a Blood Raven learns more forbidden lore, they can become obsessed with a particular subject, an aspect of the whole which they come to believe is linked directly to the secrets of their Chapter or some other great and important part of the Imperium's struggle against its enemies. Whenever a Battle-Brother is presented with a chance to learn more about this obsessive knowledge, he almost always places his quest above the needs of others, often putting his own life or the lives of his squad in danger.
  • Stage 3 - Unholy Enlightenment: After a time a Blood Raven will learn many secrets from his Chapter and may even spend time in its Librariums coming into contact with great volumes of forbidden lore. All of these secrets can taint a man, burdening his mind and granting him both a great understanding of the universe but also a touch of madness as he tries to contain and understand it in his mind.

Red Scorpions

Primarch's Curse: Divine Purity

The Red Scorpions hold themselves to the highest of standards and consider their loyalty second to none when compared to other servants of the God-Emperor and soldiers of the Imperium. Part of this pride and their unswerving adherence to the Codex and its teachings is justified in the purity of their gene-seed and the glorious record of wars and battles won in the Emperor's name. More cynical minds might wonder if the mysteries of the Red Scorpions' past and their origins might also have something to do with their fanatical desire to prove their loyalty and that they are beyond the reproach of their peers.

Whatever the cause, the end result is a strong distrust in allies fostered by many Red Scorpions which can become more acute over time until many of the Chapter come to believe that none among the followers or children of the Emperor share their own purity and strength of loyalty, and can never be fully trusted. This genetic curse usually comes in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - Only the Pure: The Battle-Brother has come to question the purity of all the servants of the God-Emperor and cannot believe that they are somehow without fault or flaw. This is especially true of obviously tainted allies, despite any kind of sanctioning, such as psykers, Abhumans, and Navigators. When the Battle-Brother must deal with anyone with a psychic gift (not including Librarians of his own Chapter), or a mutation (no matter how benign or beneficial) they find it extremely difficult to deal with such individuals. Such a cold reception is almost always reciprocated and such individuals often feel intensely uncomfortable in the presence of the Battle-Brother, aware of the hulking warrior's scorn, and this worsens their disposition towards them.
  • Stage 2 - True Sons of the Emperor: While it has always been held that the Adeptus Astartes stand above all other warriors of the God-Emperor, many of the Chapters consider themselves equals and there is usually a degree of respect afforded between Battle-Brothers no matter their origins. Red Scorpions can come to believe that this is a falsehood, and that no other Chapter can hope to match their loyalty, seeing even other Space Marines as lesser copies of themselves and ultimately not as worthy of their position in the armies of the Emperor.
  • Stage 3 - None but Us: In time, a Red Scorpions Battle-Brother can come to believe that only his Chapter alone can be trusted. Those around him, despite their outward claims and displays of loyalty, are in fact unreliable; traitors waiting to turn their cloaks. Though the Battle-Brother would not move against such men without just cause, as such rash actions would shame his Chapter and go against the Codex Astartes which he holds in such high regard, he will be careful not to give them too much power over him or expose his back unless he has to. A Battle-Brother of the Red Scorpions that has progressed to this point will not work well with members of other Chapters.

Marines Errant

Primarch's Curse: Crusaders Call

The Marines Errant never refuse the call to arms or the chance to join a crusade against the enemies of the Imperium. When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests in one of its Battle-Brothers, it usually progresses in three stages.

  • Stage 1 - Unending Valour: The Battle-Brother has become filled with pride in the history of his Chapter's bravery and devotion and sees his own existence as a vital part of continuing its traditions. When his squad is required to do its duty he will make sure that it is carried out, squashing any doubt his fellow Battle-Brothers might have or any weakness they might show in the face of honour.
  • Stage 2 - Duty through Sacrifice: True duty can only be proven in death or an equally potent sacrifice, a fact which is known to all true servants of the God-Emperor. The Battle-Brother knows that to prove himself he must be the one to stand in the way of the blade or shield his comrades from the blast, so that there can be no doubt about his devotion or his loyalty to the Emperor.
  • Stage 3 - Lead the Charge: In boarding actions, the greatest honour goes to those first through the breech and first to face the foe. The Battle-Brother accepts that he must take this role as his honour demands it, and it is just another way to prove his courage and loyalty in the eyes of his peers. If there is a choice or a chance to lead a charge or be the first to face the enemy, the Battle-Brother must take it. Furthermore he will seek out such opportunities, volunteering for dangerous duties if they mean he will get to lead others into the fray. In combat, the Battle-Brother will also seek out the most dangerous or powerful-looking foes, even at the cost of ignoring closer or more pressing enemies to his brethren's tactical disadvantage.

Crimson Fists

Primarch's Curse: Only Honour In Death

Like their founding Chapter, the Crimson Fists are more than willing to fight to the last, holding their ground with a siege-like mentality which will see them triumph or die in the attempt. This expression of duty can become exaggerated in members of the Chapter after long periods in combat, especially against numerous and unrelenting foes like the Ork hordes of a WAAAGH! In these instances the Battle-Brother sees only death; the death of their comrades, the death of the world, and the death of their foes.

They consider that the only righteous path lies in the expenditure of their lives for these purposes and will face them with a stoic heart and a single-mindedness that can only lead to the complete annihilation of everything and everyone he faces, often eventually including himself and those that fight beside him. When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests itself in an affected Battle-Brother, it comes on in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - No Retreat: As the odds mount so does the Battle-Brother's stubborn refusal to retreat, seeing only the glory and honour in defeating such overwhelming foes if even the barest glimmer of victory remains. Even if the doctrine and teaching of the Codex Astartes dictate retreat or flexible defence, the Battle-Brother will be loath to disengage until there is absolutely no choice, though often this can come too late.
  • Stage 2 - Suffer not Defeat: Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow for the Battle-Brother and he would rather die fighting than accept that he has failed. This can lead to reckless behaviour as he throws himself into the fray or takes on excessive odds to win when prudence and tactical reason would dictate he withdraw.
  • Stage 3 - Unto Death: The Battle-Brother has come to accept that perhaps only the cost of his own life will be enough to secure victory and is gladly willing to give it up. This can have dire consequences should the circumstances present him with a chance to martyr himself for the Emperor and bring ruin to the enemies of the Imperium. Should a Battle-Brother suffer mortal wounds, he gains a fatalistic desire to sell his life for the cause and will choose to expend his own life for a chance at victory or the safety of his brothers. This means he will fight on regardless of his wounds and continue to attack or place himself in the path of attacks even though the next blow could mean his end. He will also gladly accept suicidal or near-suicidal tasks (such as disarming unstable warheads, leading a forlorn hope or holding a breach to buy time for his companions) without complaint.

Howling Griffons

Primarch's Curse: Cursing the Word

Since the death of Chapter Master Orlando Furioso at the hands of the Daemon Prince Periclitor, the Howling Griffons have fostered and nurtured a deep and unrelenting hatred of the Word Bearers, and a vow to seek retribution against them and their lord Periclitor no matter the cost.

It is a hatred which simmers in the heart of every Howling Griffon battle-brother but one which can spill over in times of madness and consume them and their every thought. When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests itself in an affected battle-brother, it comes on in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - The Price of Treachery: The battle-brother has become increasingly obsessed with the Word Bearers' treachery and relives their fateful ambush in his mind over and over again. While this spurs him on to seek out the hated Word Bearers, it also leads him to see treachery in other places, comparing the great crime perpetrated against his Chapter with other events as they unfold. The merest hint of treachery is enough to prompt a strong and violent response from the battle-brother, one which he may not be able to control. If the battle-brother comes into contact with a suspected Traitor (to the Imperium, the Deathwatch, or his Chapter) he must do every thing in his power to restrain himself from lashing out. If he manages to do so, he will still be very unpleasant to the known or suspected Traitor. But if he cannot, he will see it as his place to punish them, perhaps even with summary execution if their crime is great enough.
  • Stage 2 - Trail of the Traitors: As the battle-brothers hatred of Traitors grows and his obsession with finding and exterminating the Word Bearers heightens, he will be loath to give up any mission or clue which could lead to them. On a mission, this could mean going out of his way to seek out known or suspected Traitors or even changing the mission objectives to include their capture or destruction. In other settings, it can mean an obsessive thirst for knowledge and seeking out dangerous or forbidden texts if it means gaining a clue to the location and crimes of a Traitor. In both instances, if the subverting of a mission or the seeking of knowledge would place the battle-brother or his squad in extreme danger, he must resist his urges, unless the action pertains directly to the Word Bearers.
  • Stage 3 - In the Eye of Terror and Beyond: The battle-brothers' hunger to eradicate the Word Bearers and repay them for their crimes against the Chapter culminates in doing whatever it takes to see them destroyed. The battle-brother will always seek out Heretic Astartes in any combat situation or mission, and if it falls within their power they will see their squad face off against Chaos Space Marines as often as possible, trying to ensure their deployment to warzones and campaigns where they might come face to face with them. When these hated foes are encountered, the battle-brother will do everything in his power to destroy them and see they do not escape, even if it means leaving others behind or abandoning mission objectives to chase them down wherever they might run.


Primarch's Curse: Grim Determination

When the Chapter's genetic curse manifests itself in an affected Battle-Brother, it comes on in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - The Shadow of Death: The Battle-Brother starts to see death in everything. He becomes distant and makes little effort to forge alliances with new squad members, knowing they will soon be in the grave. He becomes more dismissive of death and the praising of the dead, seeing little glory in their sacrifice, only the inevitable end to their duty and another corpse to feed the gods of war. This attitude can grate on those around the Battle-Brother and he suffers with his fellowship when dealing with other soldiers or members of the Adeptus Astartes.
  • Stage 2 - The Bad Beneath the Good: The Battle-Brother cannot help but reflect on the worst side of a new development and will endeavour to find the worst aspect of even the most favourable of circumstances. Quite apart from causing friction within his squad, the drawing of focus onto potential problems and unforeseen dangers (regardless of the actual likelihood they will impact on the squad's mission) can cause compromises in command and less than direct tactical judgements.
  • Stage 3 - Game Over: Death is inevitable and the Battle-Brother is already a walking corpse just waiting for the moment when an enemy's blade or bullet ends him. Filled with visions of his own demise, the Battle-Brother begins to act recklessly, accepting that it is his time and there is nothing he can do to prevent it coming. This will not only place him in danger but can endanger his entire squad. The Battle-Brother does not contribute to the squad's cohesion as he fails to adequately aid them in battle. In addition, he tends not to gain the benefit of hiding behind cover, as even when behind barricades and walls he exposes himself to fire with little mind to remaining concealed.

Codex Demeanours

The following Demeanours are intended to represent the characteristics that might be displayed by Chapters that have some measure of their own tradition and history, yet still maintain some links with their Progenitor and other Chapters. The Chapter may be several generations separated from its sire, and also have its home world many hundreds or thousands of light years away, the distance contributing to the divergence. It should be noted that these Demeanours are on the whole not as "extreme" or detailed as those presented as part of a full set of Chapter rules. This is largely because Chapters with such a set have been around for a long time or have something exceptional about them that sets them apart from the bulk of Chapters and calls for a set of unique rules. Secondly, writers should really be creating their own Chapter not to gain a suite of abstract advantages over other Chapters but to indulge their creative urges and foster more opportunities for rewarding imaginative writing.

Below are listed the most common types of Codex Demeanours found within the Adeptus Astartes:

  • Brothers in Battle - All Space Marines within a given Chapter are bonded to one another by a common genetic inheritance and years of combat at each others' side. While some Battle-Brothers have difficulty widening their sense of comradeship to include those outside of their Chapter, others have none at all, regarding all Space Marines, regardless of Chapter or Progenitor, as their Brothers. As such, there is nothing that the Battle-Brother would not do for a fellow Space Marine, up to and including dying so that his Brothers may live. The only downside of such a trait is that the Battle-Brother may come to look down upon those outside of the Adeptus Astartes, believing (often quite rightly) that none can match their own standards.
  • Cleanse and Purify - Those Chapters who display this trait believe that no trace of an enemy should be left behind to stain the ground on which he was slain. Simply slaying the foe is rarely sufficient — the Battle-Brothers are driven to burn his corpse, destroy his works, burn down his cities and scour his worlds of life so that no trace of his existence remains. While some servants of the Ordo Xenos believe it wise to recover and study the weapons of their foes, these Battle-Brothers believe such a notion is foolhardy at best, and heretical at worse. They often favour weapons that immolate, incinerate, atomise or blast apart their foe, being particularly fond of flamers, meltaguns and plasma guns, all of which are ideal for eradicating the stain of the alien, the fiend and the heretic. The zealous Fire Hawks Chapter, was a perfect example of this Codex Demeanour.
  • No Mercy, No Respite - While all Space Marines are relentless in their prosecution of their objectives, some are wont to become so embroiled in their mission that all other concerns are secondary. These Battle-Brothers have no concept of the notion of defeat and would rather die than accept that once a battle is joined it will not be won. They are stubborn in the face of adversity and capable of the most awe-inspiring feats of courage. Yet on occasion such Battle-Brothers have been known to ignore what they regard as secondary concerns, sometimes to the detriment of the larger strategic situation. Some have even been known to ignore orders from higher up the chain of command when serving as part of composite force made of squads of several Chapters, or when serving individually as members of the Deathwatch.
  • Purity Above All - The Battle-Brothers of this Chapter have no patience whatsoever for any hint of genetic deviation, in humanity at large or in other Space Marine Chapters. While all Space Marines abhor the mutant, these Battle-Brothers see corruption wherever they look, and are ever on the guard against genetic instability in their own gene-stock and in those of other Chapters. They regard even allied Abhumans as monsters and refuse to serve alongside them, and sometimes even extend this notion to those brother Chapters with unusual genetic traits, in particular the Space Wolves and Salamanders. When fighting against those they perceive as impure, these Battle-Brothers are utterly unstoppable, but it is often difficult to integrate them into a composite force that include brethren they regard as impure in some way.
  • Scions of Mars - While all Space Marines utilise wargear that the vast bulk of Humanity regard as a work of technological marvel, some have access to the most arcane and revered of weapons, armour and other devices. Such Chapters invariably maintain close links with the Adeptus Mechanicus, perhaps having served side by side with the servants of the Omnissiah in a past campaign, establishing common connections that both groups value. Through their training and their access to such marvels, the Battle-Brothers have developed a certain expertise in the use of advanced wargear and know how to get the best from such items. The Iron Hands, Sons of Medusa and Steel Confessors are good examples of Chapters that have strong ties with the Cult Mechanicus.
  • See, But Don't Be Seen - The Battle-Brother understands well the value of maintaining a silent, unseen vigil on the foe, striking only when his target is at its weakest and most vulnerable. The Chapter stalks the night and the shadows, approaching the foe from unanticipated quarters before disappearing once more. Such Chapters foster patience and wily cunning in their Battle-Brothers, and regard as rash and unsubtle those who charge headlong into combat. The Raven Guard and Raptors Chapters are good examples of those Adeptus Astartes who rely heavily on stealth and swift silent death.
  • Swift As The Wind - The Battle-Brothers of the Chapter may excel at rapid strikes and lightning raids, but the trait extends to every facet of their character. They are as quick to anger as they are to jest. They can be impatient, yet display great personal initiative. While not rash or foolhardy, such a Battle-Brother believes in the value of immediate action over protracted planning, and chafes at the bit to engage the foe.
  • Suffer Not The Alien To Live - The Chapter has participated in countless xenos-wars, purging species after species that the enemies of the Emperor may be cast from the galaxy once and for all. Some such Chapters may have suffered at the hands (or claws or tentacles) of ravening alien beings, and harbour a special hatred for a particular xenos strain, or indeed all aliens. They often believe in the sanctity of the human form, regarding it as being cast in the image of the Emperor himself, and may therefore eschew the use of augmetics unless absolutely needed. While some Space Marine Chapters may tolerate the existence of species such as the Eldar and the Tau, these do not. They would sooner put a bolter round through the head of an alien emissary than trust a single word its speaks, even if doing so would bring about total war. The xenophobic Black Templars are a prime example of this Codex Demeanour.
  • Suffer Not The Works of Heretics - The teachings of the Chapter’s cult focus on the many crimes that have been committed against humanity by heretics and schismatics. This is probably because the Chapter fought a crusade against such an enemy, and developed a special hatred for those amongst humanity who would turn from the light of the Emperor and embrace other, less worthy gods. Battle-Brothers of this mindset are often intolerant of the more unusual expressions of the Imperial Cult, sometimes even going so far as to denounce such expressions as heretical. They may even see the subtle taint of heresy in the traditions of other Chapters, a trait that has brought them into conflict with their brother Adeptus Astartes more than once.
  • Uphold The Honour of The Emperor - Nearly all Chapters revere the Emperor not as a god, as preached by the Ecclesiarchy, but as the honoured ancestor and father figure, the individual in whose image the Primarchs were made and whose blood therefore flows in their own veins. They trust above all things that the Emperor will guide their hands and protect them, and his praises are ever on their lips. Battle-Brothers drawn from such Chapters ever seek to prove themselves worthy in the eyes of the Emperor, performing great deeds to bring about his glory. Furthermore, these Battle-Brothers may prove bombastic and prideful, preferring to make bold, frontal assaults over stealthy approaches, so that the enemy may know that their doom is come, and tremble before the might of the favoured sons of the Emperor of Mankind.

Gene-Seed Deficiencies

Even the most noble of Chapters with the most glorious of histories can suffer instabilities in their gene-seed. In some cases the gene-stock is of such antiquity that it is inevitable that some small degree of mutation has crept in over the millennia. In others, mutations come about as an unanticipated side effect of an attempt to rectify another issue. Thus, any Chapter, from the First Founding from the Twenty-Sixth, can exhibit deficiencies in its gene-seed. The Imperial Fists for example lack the Betcher's gland and sus-an membrane zygotes, their gene-stock having becoming unstable, and this trait has been inherited by many of their Successors, including the Black Templars. The zygote of the Salamanders Chapter has reacted with the radiation in which their home world is bathed in such a way that their eyes burn a deep red and their skin is almost jet-black, lending them a fearsome appearance yet imparting no specific deficiencies.

Chapters drawn from the gene-stock of the Ultramarines are very unlikely to exhibit any deficiencies in their gene-seed, for their Progenitor's stock is amongst the purest in existence. That is not to say that such issues may have crept in to an Ultramarines Successor's zygotes, however, possibly due to external factors such as damage caused by exposure to mutating environments, failed genetic manipulation or even xenos influence.

Below, is listed the most common gene-seed deficiencies found within most Adeptus Astartes Chapters:

  • Hyper-stimulated Omophagea - Having tasted the flesh of the foe once, the Chapter's Battle-Brothers develop an addiction to the processes allowed by the Omophagea.
  • Oversensitive Occulobe - The organ that allows the Space Marines to see in low light conditions has become overly sensitised, working exceptionally well in the dark but suffering in full light conditions. The character can see in total dark as if it were merely low light, and low light as if it were full light. However, should he remove his helmet in full light conditions he will suffer.
  • Mutated Catalepsean Node - The implant that allows the Battle-Brother to enter a half-sleep in which he can remain alert for danger has become dangerously mutated. The Space Marine is unable to sleep normally, and stays awake for days, even weeks on end without effect. However, when sleep does come, sometimes with little or no warning, it is wont to last for many days on end.
  • Oolitic Secretions - The Chapter's oolitic kidney function is unbalanced in such a way that the Battle-Brother's skin is turned an unusual colour due to its secretions. The Carcharodons (for example) have grey skin, while the Salamanders' is the colour of volcanic rock. A whole range of other colours is possible, and the more extreme might be viewed by some as a seriously disturbing mutation.
  • Disturbing Voice - Due to a malfunction in or related to the function of the Betcher's gland, the Chapter’s brethren exhibit unusual vocal characteristics. Some cannot speak above a sibilant whisper for example, while others have deep, booming voices or speak with an otherworldly cant. Allies might find the effect disturbing, while enemies are likely to find it truly terrifying.
  • Lost Zygote - One of the Chapter's zygotes has entirely ceased to function. The benefits of this Implant no longer apply. (See Limited or Missing Zygotes below)
  • Doomed - A Chapter that loses the ability to replicate either the Black Carapace or Progenoid zygotes is ultimately doomed. Without the former the future generations of Space Marines will not be able to interface with their power armour, and without the latter there will be no future generations at all. Battle-Brothers with this mutation are unaffected themselves, but know that unless their Chapter's Apothecaries can affect a cure, they are the very last of their line.
  • Multiple Instabilities - Some Chapters will have the dual misfortune of possessing one or more of these gene-seed deficiencies. It is up to the individual writer to determine which instabilities their Chapter possesses.

Chapter Flaws

Some Chapters are afflicted by a flaw that transcends mere zygote mutation and comes to totally define them. Sometimes the flaw is linked to a nigh-catastrophic genetic malfunction, but just as often it is tied to the essential nature of the Progenitor’s Primarch, the stock from which they recruit or to some other, inexplicable factor. Many such flaws are two-edged swords, providing unheard of benefits balanced against terrible drawbacks. The Blood Angels suffer such a fate, for their own flaw is at once the source of their nobility and drive for perfection in all things, and the curse that forces them to relive the dying moments of their beloved Primarch in the heat of battle.

Below are listed the most common types of Chapter Flaws:

  • We Stand Alone - For a variety of potential reasons, the Chapter’s Battle-Brothers are either distrusted by other Imperial forces, or they themselves shun contact with others.
  • Pride in the Colours - While all Chapters take great pride in their badge and livery, some take this pride to such an extreme that they regard anything that hides them as a form of cowardice. They wear their colours proudly and make use of back banners the better to announce their presence on the field of battle. The Red Scorpions are one such Chapter that take extreme pride in their Chapter's colours.
  • Faith in Suspicion - There are some Chapters that hold many other arms of the Imperium in great contempt, whether sanctioned psykers, bureaucrats, officers of the Ecclesiarchy or even the Inquisition. Perhaps there has been strife between the groups, or else the Chapter simply holds itself in such high esteem that all others are deserving only of contempt - or perhaps they genuinely have something to hide. The Black Templars Chapters are notoriously intolerant of psykers and those who employ them, often refusing to fight alongside such forces that utilise them. The Space Wolves are another example, as they posses an extreme mistrust of the Inquisition, due to their actions following the First War of Armageddon.
  • Eye to Eye - The Chapter sees no honour in any other form of combat than man to man, eye to eye. It eschews many other aspects of war, and always seeks to deliver the killing blow in person, at the very speartip of battle. Battle-Brothers from the Chapter are temperamentally or doctrinally ill-disposed towards other tactics, and are often overcome with the desire to witness in person the death of their foes. Some indulge in gristly rituals to prove their measure in close combat such as the taking of heads or ripping out the foe's still-beating heart before his very eyes. The notoriously violent Flesh Tearers are one such Chapter.
  • Chapter Cult - Every Chapter venerates the Emperor, its Progenitor's Primarch and its own heroes according to its own traditions, some of which are wildly at odds with the tenets of the Imperial Creed. This particular Chapter has developed ritual practices so extreme or exotic that even fellow Space Marines baulk at the site of them. Such practices range from gristly sanguinary rites to dark victory celebrations, and are perhaps best left to the imagination of the writer.

Limited or Missing Zygotes

Whenever a successor Chapter is created, the Gene-Seed is not always transferred over in a pure form. Occasionally some of the Space Marine's implants have either limited or no function. The chart below provides a random list of implants that do not function for the created Chapter:

  • Catalepsean Node
  • Preomnor
  • Omophagea
  • Occulobe
  • Lyman's Ear
  • Sus-an Membrane
  • Oolitic Kidney
  • Neuroglottis
  • Mucranoid
  • Betcher's Gland
  • Melanchromic Organ

Chapter Size

During the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium, the Space Marines were originally organised into 20 Legions each of which was further divided into companies. The XIII Legion, the Ultramarines, led by Roboute Guilliman, became the largest of all the Astartes Legions as a result of Guilliman's tactical mastery and a steady flow of new recruits from the Realm of Ultramar. The Ultramarines became so large, growing to a size that included over 100,000 Astartes, that a new, larger unit of division, the Chapter, was created to better organise the XIII Legion's forces. These Chapters (alternatively designated as Great Companies, Harrows, Millennials, etc.) were originally composed of roughly 1,000 line Legionaries, but as the Legions grew, this number began to vary substantially by Legion, and also through the vicissitudes of war and the availability of replacement recruits. At the time of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium, the Ultramarines Legion was divided into twenty Chapters, each composed of ten companies, with each company composed of roughly 1,000 Astartes.

Following the end of the Heresy, Guilliman, as the new Lord Commander of the Imperium, ordered during the event known as the Second Founding that the remaining Loyalist Space Marine Legions be divided and re-organized into smaller one-thousand Astartes Chapters, to ensure that no future rebel such as Horus Lupercal could gain control of such a large and power military unit as a Space Marine Legion again. Newly formed Chapters created at this time that were carved out of the remaining 9 Loyalist Legions became known as Successor Chapters.

As a result of this change in organisation, the Space Marines' military purpose changed as well. Where the Space Marine Legions had once served as the Imperium's primary frontline military forces, that role was given over to the newly created Imperial Guard, which had been created from the remains of the Imperial Army in the wake of the Heresy. The Imperial Army had been used primarily as a reserve force of garrison troops during the Great Crusade, but its successor would now bear the primary burden of the Imperium's defence. The Space Marine Chapters were now intended to primarily serve as highly mobile planetary assault and special forces troops, who would be deployed only for the toughest missions confronting the Imperium for which the forces of the Imperial Guard were simply insufficient

One of the few notable exceptions to the typical "1,000 Astartes only" rule, would be the Black Templars Chapter. The only reason this has been permitted is due to the fact that most people outside the Chapter's hierarchy are clueless to the Black Templars actual size. It is said that only the High Marshal has any idea of the Black Templars' full numbers, but it is rumoured in the Inquisition that they actually number close to 6,000 Space Marines. That would make them nearly as large as some of the original First Founding Space Marine Legions after the terrible losses of the Horus Heresy, and means that the Black Templars are one of only three Chapters of Astartes (the others being the Space Wolves and the Grey Knights) thought to violate the 1,000 Space Marines to a Chapter limitation as proscribed by the Codex Astartes.

Such a force united would be nigh unstoppable. The potential size of the Black Templars has resulted in close scrutiny by some of the more Puritan members of the Inquisition. Each Space Marine Chapter is limited to a strength of approximately 1,000 Astartes by ancient tradition, so that no one man can ever again command enough power to start another successful rebellion against the Emperor. The Chapter's history of zealous loyalty to the Emperor and the inability of any Inquisitor to find evidence supporting the claims of unusually high standing troop numbers has spared the Black Templars from further revelation of their true numbers. However, this has not prevented the Inquisition from trying to reveal the hidden size of the Black Templars.

Founding Fathers

The Chapter's Heroes

"Honour thy father, for they watch over you even now."
— Scout Sergeant Kharok of the Subjugators Chapter

Every Chapter has its founding fathers — the heroes that wrote the opening passages of its glorious history. These might be warriors seconded from another Chapter, perhaps even a First Founding Progenitor, or they might be the first true sons of the Chapter itself. In addition to the question of who these warriors were is the question of why are they so venerated? Did they defeat a particular foe, did their deeds grant the Chapter its name, livery or home world? All of these possibilities provide the bedrock of the Chapter's legends, which a writer can draw on when it comes to writing about their own Fanon Space Marine Chapter. Below is a chart that shows the most common figures of legend. First off, determine who the single greatest hero of the Chapter is, then determine secondary figures (such as the hero's companions and peers, or later heroes):

  • Battle-Brother - A Battle-Brother seconded from a previous generation Successor or even the First Founding Legion that provided the new Chapter's gene-seed.
  • Chapter Master
  • Chief Librarian
  • Master of Sanctity
  • Master of the Forge
  • Master of the Fleet
  • Chief Apothecary
  • Company Captain
  • Squad Sergeant
  • A specialist of your choice - You can determine this figure of legend by selecting a Librarian, a Chaplain, Techmarine, driver, pilot, ect.

Deeds of Legend

Next, you should determine why this figure of legend is venerated by your Chapter. Below is a list of some of the most common deeds of legend accomplished by your Chapter's most venerated heroes:

  • Bane of Orks - The figure is remembered as the bane of the Orks, to such an extent that his name is known to the vile greenskins even to this day.
  • Foe of Chaos - The individual was a stalwart enemy of the servants of Chaos, and slew a Daemon Prince.
  • Saviour - The hero led a glorious campaign against a rebel army, defeating the foe and bringing an entire sector back into the light of the Emperor.
  • Bane of the Eldar - The figure led an action against an Eldar craftworld, boarding it and inflicting grievous casualties before withdrawing. He and his Chapter are especially hated by the pernicious Eldar, for whom the event is still fresh and raw.
  • Missing Legend - The hero was lost to his Chapter in a warp accident, yet his descendants have cause to believe he lives still and may one day return to them in glory.
  • First to Strike - The hero was the first to face some newly discovered alien race, and ultimately responsible for its total destruction. Centuries later, only the Chapter remembers the name of the race, so utterly was it and its works cast down.
  • Conqueror of Foes - The hero led his Chapter in many glorious campaigns, slaying hundreds of the enemy's greatest champions. In the end, he was brought down by treachery within the fold of the Imperium, slain by an assassin's turbo-penetrator round on the field of battle. Just why he was targeted was never discovered, and the Chapter harbours a special hatred for the servants of the Officio Assassinorum to this day.


The Imperium utilises a a classification system that determines the types of allegiance that is shown by each individual Chapter. Listed below are the allegiances and how they work:

Example: Fedelitas Sine Recurso - Fedelitas mean 'Fidelity' or 'Faithful' in Latin, while Sine means 'Unaccompanied' and Recurso means 'To Return' other words, a Chapter that is faithful, but often strikes out on their own (unaccompanied) but always returns. Both the White Scars and Raven Guard fall under this designation.

Keep in mind, High Gothic is basically pseudo-Latin, so there isn't an exact translation per se.

Listed below are the other Imperial designations for allegiance:

  • Fedelitas Totalis ('Totally Faithful') - Imperial Fists
  • Fedelitas Constantus ('Constantly Faithful') - Ultramarines
  • Fedelitas Tenebrae ('Faithful but Dark or Foreboding') - Dark Angels
  • Fedelitas Scindere ('Faithful' and 'To Cleave') - Space Wolves
  • Excoriate ('To censure scathingly') - Thousand Sons
  • Traitoris Perdita ('Lost Traitors ') - All other Traitor Legions
  • Traitoris Maximus (' The Greatest Traitors ') - Sons of Horus & Word Bearers

Home World

"And this land shall be yours, that you shall be its masters and its peoples bow down to you."
— The Charter of Founding of the Red Talons, by the hand of High Lord Hanikhas

The worlds of the Imperium are categorised according to a staggering range of factors, but can be divided into the loosely-defined groupings listed here. Most Space Marine Chapters maintain their Fortress- Monastery on the same world they recruit from, but this is not always the case. While the Space Wolves recruit exclusively from Fenris, for example, where they also maintain their Fortress-Monastery called the Fang, the Crimson Fists reside on the civilised planet of Rynn's World but recruit from other planets in the region. The extent to which the nature of the home world reflects the character of the Chapter and its Battle-Brothers varies enormously, and in many cases it is simply a matter of providing an interesting background detail around which future adventure ideas can be built. Listed below are the most common types of worlds from which a Chapter makes their home world.

The community agrees that all homebrew Chapters must abide by the following:

  • No homebrew Chapter shall have a home world on a Cardinal World, Forge World (or any other world governed by the Adeptus Mechanicus) or a Daemon World.
  • Those Chapters that do not possess a Chapter home world, but do have one or more recruiting worlds SHALL NOT recruit from:
  • ...a Forge World (or any other world governed by the servants of the Omnissiah.
  • ...a Daemon World.

Hive World

A massive hive spire rises into the Hive World's atmosphere

Viable planets are an invaluable asset to the Imperium, and ones with large amounts of natural and desirable resources are ruthlessly exploited. Vast populations grow or are imported to service the industry that such resources spawns. The world's occupants are packed into industrial centres called hive-cities so that as much of the surface remains as accessible as possible and the workforce can be controlled and focused to maximum effect. The rulers of the Imperium care nothing for the quality of their workers’ lives, only that quotas are met and output remains constant. Inevitably, in such an environment large sections of the population fall to destitution and anarchy, and while the forges and manufactoria are ruthlessly managed, vast areas of these cities are often abandoned to misrule and neglect as new ones are built. Amongst the undercities, lawless gangs fight for control, and from their numbers new Space Marine Aspirants are often recruited (typically forcibly).

Space Marines residing on a Hive world are likely to maintain their Fortress-Monastery apart from the great bulk of the population. Some may construct their base at the very highest levels of the hive-city, in rearing spires, but most are likely to claim an isolated region far out in the polluted wastes. Aside from the ready source of recruits afforded by the hive-cities, the Chapter has access to a nigh-unending source of munitions, and it is likely that the master of each city is required by ancient law to provide the chapter with a tithe of its industrial output in return for the protection the Chapter's presence affords.

Feral World

Feral World natives fighting for their very survival

Feral worlds are those planets colonised eons ago, long before the Age of Imperium, which subsequently regressed to atavistic barbarism due to extended periods of isolation or other, less predictable factors. In a galaxy-spanning empire that harnesses the most powerful of technologies, the spear and the axe remain perhaps the most common weapon, for masses of worlds fall into this category, perhaps even more than any other type. With resources focused on key strategic worlds, there is no reason to spare the effort to "civilise" the natives of the numerous Feral worlds. In many cases doing so would deprive the Imperium of a truly invaluable asset, for Feral worlders are by definition amongst the toughest and most accomplished it is possible to recruit. As a result, many Space Marine Chapters make their homes on such worlds, close to the source of its recruits.

A Space Marine Chapter based on a Feral world is likely to maintain a distance from the populace, with its Fortress-Monastery located on a distant and inaccessible island or high atop a mountain range. The Blood Angels' Chapter keep is located on one of its home world's moons, while the Mortifactors' is a starfort in orbit high above. In most cases, the savagery of the tribes from which the Chapter recruits is tempered by the training, indoctrination and psycho-conditioning imposed on its Neophytes, but in some cases the Chapter is very much shaped by the character of the population, inheriting not only its warlike qualities but many of its unique cultural mores.

Death World

An inhospitable Death World

Death worlds are planets so inimitable to life that unless they harboured some essential resource Mankind would have no reason to set foot on them at all. Though no single terrain type defines this class of world, many are swathed in jungles populated by carnivorous plants as dangerous as any predatory beast, where even the air itself is poisonous. Most Death Worlds are impossible to settle, for every single living thing in them appears motivated to expel any intruders as if ruled by some overarching and utterly malicious intelligence. A tiny proportion have been settled, but life there is a daily, even hourly struggle for survival where one false step spells death at the slavering maw of some hideous Death World predator. The sort of cultures that spawn people able to reach maturity in such a place are amongst the most valuable recruiting grounds for the Space Marines, for the mere fact of surviving to adolescence marks an Aspirant as amongst the toughest Humanity is capable of producing.

Those Chapters that call a Death World their home are likely to be experts in fighting in the particular type of terrain it features. To do is not simply a matter of making the best use of the environment, but of surviving the very worst that environment can throw at the Battle-Brothers and even turning it against the foe. In occupying a Death World, a Chapter will be forced to defend itself constantly against the world itself, a fact that tests the Battle-Brothers continuously even when they are not fighting the enemies of the Imperium. While some locate their Fortress-Monasteries in orbit, others prefer to reside amidst the very worst of the Death World's environs, honing their skills even beyond those of the already legendary abilities of the Adeptus Astartes.

Medieval World

A feudal Medieval World

Medieval worlds are those planets where the population has either risen above the crude tribal structures of a Feral world, or regressed from a more advanced level. In either case, it is likely to be external causes that have brought such a change about, whether deliberate or not. The population of a Medieval World is organised into relatively stable nation states, with complex webs of vassal obligations linking extended groupings. Technologically, most of the inhabitants are ignorant of advanced machinery, but may utilise basic firearms manufactured locally. In all likelihood, all but the world's ruling classes are unaware of the Imperium at large. The majority of the population still hold to ancient superstitions, and are but one step away from barbarous savages. Many of these worlds are ruled with an iron fist by a warrior aristocracy that engages in ceaseless and brutal wars, often against its own peoples. Amongst such classes, the warrior code is all, and even the smallest slight against a warrior's honour is answered with a challenge, often to the death.

Space Marine Chapters utilising Medieval Worlds as their base may keep their distance from the populace, as they do on Feral worlds, or they may establish themselves as distant overlords, high-kings or secret warrior orders. A Chapter's Fortress-Monastery on such a world is likely to be regarded by the populace as some impregnable keep where great heroes reside, and the subject of vast bodies of myth and legend.

Civilised World

A Civilised World

The categorisation "Civilised World" describes a wide range of societies and technology levels, but in general such worlds will be a functioning part of a larger sector, with trade links to nearby worlds. Contact with other planets and peoples is relatively common, amongst the upper echelons of society at least, and the people see themselves as subjects of the greater Imperium. The populations of such worlds enjoy a reasonable standard of living (for the 41st Millennium!) but that very fact makes them less suitable as a recruitment source for the Adeptus Astartes than many other types. In a society where an infant is more or less guaranteed to reach maturity without becoming the prey to some ravening predatory beast or being enslaved by a rival tribe, the survival instinct is comparatively low and unlikely to produce suitable raw material for the Space Marines. Only the most exceptional of Civilised Worlds ever provide recruits to the Adeptus Astartes, and these are generally societies with a strong warrior code imbued by hundreds of generations of service, perhaps rigorously enforced by a ruling military elite. The Ultramarines' Realm of Ultramar is such a region, where despite a reasonable standard of living, every family dreams of having a son accepted into the ranks of the Ultramarines, and ensures they are trained to the utmost degree as soon as they are able to walk.

It is only those Civilised Worlds that maintain the most rigid military traditions that are likely to appeal to the Adeptus Astartes as s source for Aspirants. On some of these worlds, the Space Marine Chapter forms the very highest tier of a stratified and regimented society entirely focused on martial pursuits, where all aspire to the example set by the Adeptus Astartes. In most cases, a Chapter calling such a planet its home world maintains a distance from its subjects, remaining aloof, while in some, the Chapter's staff are fully integrated into a wider system of tradition, obligation and service.

Uninhabited World

A Fortress-Monastery built upon an Uninhabited World

There are plenty of Chapters that prefer to maintain their secrecy and isolate themselves from nearby populations. Fortunately, there is no shortage of barren or otherwise uninhabited worlds for such Chapters to utilise as bases of operation. The fact that even an apparently desolate, airless rock might harbour one of the greatest military forces in Humanity's arsenal is deterrent enough for many would-be invaders, and who knows how many itinerant outcasts have stumbled across a fully operational Fortress-Monastery whilst exploring some isolated world, and never lived long enough to tell the tale?

Chapters utilising isolated, unpopulated planets as their home worlds have to look farther afield for sources of recruitment, but they are rarely far from worlds they are entitled to recruit upon. Such Chapters may recruit from a variety of nearby planets, drawing their recruits from Feral World tribes, Hive world gangs or any other source. Mixing several sources in a single intake of Neophytes provides its own set of challenges, but ultimately, produces a wide range of skills and qualities that serve the Chapter well wherever it serves.


A Fleet-Based Chapter patrols an Imperial sector

Fleet-based Chapters makes their homes on vast space-going vessels. Often these are unique artefacts predating the Age of Imperium, or in the case of the Dark Angels' Fortress-Monastery a vast chunk of planetary debris hollowed out and fitted with the very largest of warp drives. Many of these Chapters travel the galaxy in vast circuits, taking centuries to pass through a single segmentum, while others limit their movements to ancient, hereditary spheres of influence and areas of responsibility.

Fleet-based Chapters recruit from a wide range of planets. Sometimes they hold the exclusive rights to recruit at particular worlds, although the populations of those worlds may know nothing of any such arrangement. Others make a point of seeking out new societies to recruit from, ever vigilant for promising recruits. Should an exceptional source be discovered, some Chapters establish small facilities in order to watch over the population and test Aspirants, as is the case with the Black Templars Chapter. Upon discovering a singularly valuable recruiting source, some Fleet-based Chapters may even abandon their itinerant existence, claim the world and establish a Fortress-Monastery.

Because they tend to recruit from a variety of sources, Fleet-based Chapters are more unlikely than any other type to inherit the ways of the communities it recruits from. By way of example, one of the Chapter Masters of the Dark Angels was born amongst the head-hunting savages of the Feral world of Kimmeria. Yet he is counted amongst the most noble and charismatic of the Chapter's leaders, in no small part because the Chapter's own identity is so established and ingrained that even the most extreme of outside influences has little or no effect on it. In addition, the size and status of the Space Marine Chapter’s fleet should also be considered.

Predominant Terrain

"First learn to fight in your own backyard, then how to take the war to the enemy's."
— Scout Sergeant Kholka of the Adeptus Astartes White Scars

What is the predominant terrain type of the Chapter’s home world? Although the Administratum categorises the Imperium’s worlds by function (as described in the previous entry), each class may feature a wide variety of terrain types, or indeed be dominated by one single type. A Hive World, for example, may be an ash-blasted wasteland — or its rearing spires might form islands of plasteel amidst an endless sea of jungle. Death Worlds are often thought of as deadly jungles, but might just as easily be ocean-bound planets. The type of terrain in which a Chapter builds its Fortress-Monastery might have little bearing on its character, but may have plenty, especially if that terrain has shaped the qualities of the peoples from which it recruits. If you would like to determine what sort of terrain dominates the Chapter's home world, chose or randomise from amongst the following possibilities.

Note that while plenty of these terrain types can be combined with the categories previously described, some are mutually exclusive. Others might seem so at first glance, but with a little imagination can be combined. For example, an urban Death World seems contradictory, but what if the planet's malevolent ecosystem has risen against its population, and the once-populace cities are now reduced to post-apocalyptic ruins smothered in choking vines? An ocean Hive-World might feature air-sealed hives at the bottom of the sea, or afloat on great man-made islands. In the 41st Millennium, almost anything is possible!


The world is swathed in all-but-impenetrable jungle. Settlement is generally limited to coastal regions or higher ground where the vegetation grows less thick. Jungle Worlds are often perilous environments, where the slightest scratch can result in lethal bacteriological infection and predatory life forms hunt the unwary. Despite the difficulty in establishing settlements in such places, jungle worlds are valuable for the products that can be synthesised from the myriad of plant forms, from highly effective medicines to elicit narcotics. Subsets of this category involve worlds that have large regions dominated by swamps, moors, and fens. Many worlds with thick forest growth also qualify.


Desert worlds are dry, arid, and generally devoid of life. Some are composed of relatively harmless silica particulates, yet others are the result of the erosion of more exotic materials. Depending on the source material from which the deserts have been formed, they can be any colour imaginable, such as the deep red of the iron-rich deserts of Mars, the striking blue lazulite dune-seas of Nova Lemuria, and the choking sulphur wastes of Urquhart IV. Such worlds are rarely highly populated, unless hives have been built to house a workforce, and even then, vast tracts of the surface is left untouched and unexplored by all but hardy desert nomads, mutant clans or those who wish to avoid unwanted attention.


A combination of low temperature and high amounts of liquid has swathed the world in ice. Though many such worlds are covered in harmless frozen water, many others feature far more exotic, often highly-toxic chemicals. Human life on such worlds is either brutal, basic and short, or relies on sealed enviro-systems to maintain a high enough temperature to live in. Ice-bound Fenris, the home world of the Space Wolves Chapter, is a frozen waste riddled with active volcanoes, and produces some of the hardiest Aspirants in the Imperium.


Very little of the world's surface is above sea level, and what landmass does exist takes the form of hundreds of thousands of tiny islands, or of a single, larger continent. While many ocean worlds are dominated by bodies of water teeming with life, many others feature seas of far more exotic and potentially dangerous substances. Most elements have a melting point either so high or so low that life is simply not possible in oceans featuring a predominance of such elements, so in the main, planets used by the Space Marines as home worlds are capable of supporting life and generally of less toxic composition. Even if the environment is capable of supporting life, the character of that life varies greatly from one world to the next. Many ocean worlds are also codified as Death Worlds, their seas teeming with predatory life forms.


Many planets classed as Hive worlds feature a predominance of polluted wastes, the result of millennia of mining and industrial processing. Other planets might have been transformed into wastelands by war, accident, stellar phenomena or deliberate policy. Where human life exists in such an environment the peoples are often tough and resourceful, and ideal for recruitment into the Adeptus Astartes. Furthermore, wind-scoured wastes make ideal locations for the Space Marine Fortress-Monasteries, the harshness and inaccessibility of the environment only serving to bolster the Chapter's defences.


Habitable worlds are a scarce resource in the galaxy, and Mankind is not the only race to have called many worlds home over the aeons. Countless races have erected settlements that have in some cases grown to encompass entire continents. While some cities remain viable, others fail, and eventually fall to destitution and ruin. Some planets are dominated by a mass of post-apocalyptic ruins, slowly crumbling away as the environment reclaims the land. While most Chapters avoid establishing their Fortress-Monasteries too close to an extant, functioning urban sprawl, several have made their home amongst the ruins of fallen cities, and become peerless experts in every aspect of warfare in such an environment.


Dead worlds are those that millennia ago harboured signs of life, but which have long since become lifeless, arid rocks. Such places are steeped in dread and enshrouded by cosmic horror, such that only Space Marines, or those capable of becoming one, can survive there without succumbing to gibbering insanity. What caused such worlds to fall so far from glory is often a matter of supreme mystery, and often a cause for concern to the higher echelons of the Imperium's leadership. Some Dead Worlds serve as Space Marine home worlds, either due to their strategic location, relative isolation or because the Chapter is tasked with guarding against the return of the ancient threat that brought about the world's fate in the first place.


Airless worlds are simple barren lumps of rock and ice, and it is rare indeed for them to support life. Occasionally a Space Marine Chapter will establish its Fortress-Monastery in such a place, often due to its position or because the Chapter wishes to maintain its privacy and isolation. This has both its advantage and disadvantages—enemies find it extremely hard to assault a fortress in such an environment, but the Chapter will most likely have to look farther afield for recruits.


Many worlds are not dominated by any single type of terrain, and feature a mix of environments, much like ancient Terra long before the wars that scoured its surface to barren wastes. Perhaps the most well-known example of a Space Marine home world falling into this category is Macragge, home of the Ultramarines Chapter. Macragge is a world of stunning natural beauty, with majestic mountain ranges and endless expanses of pristine forests.

Chapter's Relationship with Home World

"My Lord? The High-Shaman of the Redwing tribe is at the gates again. He asks that we might call down the wrath of the mighty skyfire dragon on the Greyfoot tribe..."
— Chapter-Serf Adulok Hol, Warden of the Hearth to the Master of the Sable Swords Chapter

How does the Chapter govern its home world? Space Marine Chapters with a home world are its ultimate masters, with total control over their domain and any peoples living there. The Chapter Master holds the same powers as a planetary governor, indeed, potentially more for his political and military force is far greater. While most Chapters take little part in the affairs of the population of their home world, some involve themselves to varying degrees. These arrangements can be summarised as direct rule, stewardship and distant rule, as detailed below.

Direct Rule

The Chapter rules over its home world and subject peoples directly, and its leaders are regarded by them as figures of ultimate authority. It is comparatively rare for a Chapter to involve itself in the practical considerations of administering its home world, and even when one does so, the more prosaic details are often left to Chapter Serfs or leaders from the population. The advantage of direct rule is that the Chapter can enforce every element of its will upon its subjects, shaping their development the better to produce promising Aspirants. In times of outright war, the Space Marines may take direct control over the world's military, sometimes even despatching its officers to serve as generals amongst the lesser armies.


Some Chapters cede the administration of their subjects to a ruling class drawn from the population, issuing broad directives but maintaining their distance. The Space Marines are regarded as figureheads, and may even attend traditional events and services, such as the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension or its local equivalent. Generally, the people hold the Space Marines in awe, even if they rarely see them, and every family aspires to one of its sons being selected to serve in their ranks. Should the home world face invasion, the Space Marines may revert to direct rule for the duration of the emergency, or at the very least have the power to issue grand strategy to the world’s indigenous armies.

Distant Rule

Many Chapters lay claim to a particular home world, yet are rules in name only. In practice, they take no hand in the affairs of their subjects. Indeed, many Chapters prefer to keep their recruiting stock as "pure" as possible, trapping them as flies in amber in the state that makes them such ideal Aspirants in the first place. If the population is even aware of the Space Marines, they are distant, semi-mythological figures, whose appearance is a portent of great things. In the event of an enemy threatening the world, the Space Marines are likely to assume the burden of its defence, but are less likely to interact with the population directly.

Fleet-Based Chapters

A pict-capture of The Rock, the massive, mobile fortress-monastery of the Dark Angels Chapter.

Fleet-based Chapters makes their homes on vast space-going vessels. Often these are unique artefacts predating the Age of Imperium, or in the case of the Dark Angels' Fortress-Monastery a vast chunk of planetary debris hollowed out and fitted with the very largest of warp drives. Many of these Chapters travel the galaxy in vast circuits, taking centuries to pass through a single segmentum, while others limit their movements to ancient, hereditary spheres of influence and areas of responsibility.

Fleet-based Chapters recruit from a wide range of planets. Sometimes they hold the exclusive rights to recruit at particular worlds, although the populations of those worlds may know nothing of any such arrangement. Others make a point of seeking out new societies to recruit from, ever vigilant for promising recruits. Should an exceptional source be discovered, some Chapters establish small facilities in order to watch over the population and test Aspirants, as is the case with the Black Templars Chapter. Upon discovering a singularly valuable recruiting source, some Fleet-based Chapters may even abandon their itinerant existence, claim the world and establish a Fortress-Monastery.

Because they tend to recruit from a variety of sources, fleet-based Chapters are more unlikely than any other type to inherit the ways of the communities it recruits from. By way of example, one of the Chapter Masters of the Dark Angels was born amongst the head-hunting savages of the feral world of Kimmeria. Yet he is counted amongst the most noble and charismatic of the Chapter's leaders, in no small part because the Chapter’s own identity is so established and ingrained that even the most extreme of outside influences has little or no effect on it.

Chapter Organisation

"As it is written in the Codex, so shall it be."
— Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines Chapter

The vast majority of Space Marine Chapters are descended from the Ultramarines, and as such adhere to the dictates of the Codex Astartes. The Ultramarines themselves follow the codex to the letter, and this is true of other Ultramarines Successors who strive to follow their example. Other Chapters adapt the teachings of Guiliman according to their own genetic or cultural heritage, and while they may stray from it in some areas, generally follow the teaching in the codex. Finally, there are a small number of Chapters whose organisation and methods bears little resemblance to those prescribed in the Codex Astartes.

Codex Chapter

A Codex Chapter follows the Codex Astartes almost to the letter, utilising the organisation, tactics, uniform details and a thousand other subjects described within. The Codex offers a lot of leeway on many subjects, offering not a single solution to a given problem, but many potential courses of action. As such, even Chapters that regard themselves as the most dedicated followers of Guilliman's wisdom may favour one approach over another. Sometimes disagreements arise between strict Codex Chapters. Space Marines adhering closely to the Codex Astartes are gifted of a supreme self-confidence, secure in the knowledge that they are exemplars of the very best qualities espoused by the Adeptus Astartes. On occasion, they can become closed-minded or overly judgemental of those who do not think as they do. Chapters such as the Black Consuls, Genesis Chapter, Hammers of Dorn, Novamarines, and the Red Scorpions are strong examples of those Chapters that vehemently follow the dictates of Guilliman's treatise to the letter.

Divergent Chapter

A divergent Chapter is one that strays from the Codex Astartes, but not by a huge degree. Such deviation includes the fielding of specialised formations, such as the Dark Angels' uniquely specialised 1st and 2nd Companies, and such Chapters normally follow the Codex in other areas. Some Chapters field a proportion of specialised units that differs from that favoured in the Codex, such as favouring Assault Squads over Tactical Squads, and some even field more than the prescribed ten companies. Battle-Brothers from such a Chapter are generally more intellectually flexible those from a strict Codex tradition, but may not be able to inspire the same confidence that a close adherent might. Chapters such as the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves and White Scars utilise different organisational structures, idiosyncratic terminology, specialised ranks, as well as maintaining long-ingrained traditions of their own individual cultures.

It has never been decreed necessary by the Adeptus Terra to enforce the tenets of the Codex absolutely, as it is highly doubtful that it ever could be done. However, with subsequent Foundings, the High Lords of Terra have always favored the Ultramarines' gene-seed and created many new Codex Chapters from their proud lineage. With the passage of time, some of these Chapters have subsequently strayed from the strict letter of the Codex, introducing new variations but remaining broadly faithful to the principles laid down by Roboute Guilliman nearly ten millennia earlier.

Unique Organisation

Only a very small number of Chapters can be described as truly unique, and even they share many qualities with plenty of other Chapters. In many cases, the Chapter is of the First Founding, or a Successor of such a Chapter, and it never truly integrated the teachings of its own Primarch with those of Roboute Guiliman. Some Chapters deviate in character as much as organisation and tactics, such as the savage yet gregarious Space Wolves, while others break some fundamental principle of the Codex, such as the Black Templars, whose total numbers are thought to greatly exceed the 1,000 stipulated by Guiliman. Battle-Brothers drawn from these Chapters are often just as inflexible in their ways as a strict adherent to the Codex, and excel in one particular field. The Black Templars, for example, excel at close combat at the expense of long-range capacity. The Space Wolves are hungry for battle, yet sometimes overextend themselves and bite off more than they can chew.

  • Note - The Codex Astartes dictates that a Space Marine Chapter possess no more than 1,000 battle-brothers. The community has agreed that there shall be no homebrew Chapters...
  • ...whose size exceeds 1,000 Battle-Brothers..
    • ...except in certain situations, such as if they are a Crusading Chapters (similar to the Black Templars). A contributor must acquire Administrator approval prior to posting their article, should they wish to have a Chapter that exceeds the usual 1,000 battle-brothers.
  • No homebrew Chapter shall have a personal army of standard-human warriors...
    • ...except in the case their home world possesses a Planetary Defence Force (PDF). But keep in mind, even then, it still does NOT fight for a Chapter, as it's primary duty is to fight for/defend their home world/system.
  • No Imperial organisation shall be permanently attached.

Chapter Recruitment

"Your future life shall be a series of trials, one after the other, until you attain the glory that is your due at the side of the Emperor. You shall face the hardest first, so that we know we are not wasting our time."
— Chaplain Sighelm of the Celestial Lions

Each Chapter of Space Marines has its own methods of recruiting young warriors to fill its ranks. Many are based on a single homeworld and recruit solely from that populace, setting trials and tests for prospective candidates to weed out all but the strongest and the most faithful. These worlds are often technologically backward with strong militaristic societies, where male children who show potential are pushed harder and harder, that they may one day have a chance to join the ranks of the Space Marines, who are often known to such peoples as "star warriors," "sky knights," or similar names. Because Feral Worlds are rough, primitive, and untamed, their inhabitants invariably provide excellent recruits. For true aggression and nigh-psychotic killer-instinct, however, few recruits can best the murderous city-scum that roam the darkest pits of the Imperium's many Hive Worlds. Driven to extremes of violence by the pressures of Hive World living, these merciless killers are usually ignored by the authorities. They make ideal Space Marine recruits, and whole gangs of city-scum are sometimes hunted down and made to undergo the Trials. Some recruits are drawn from the more Civilised Worlds of the Imperium, but not very many.

Those planets used by the Space Marines as recruiting worlds are observed closely by the Chapter's Apothecaries and Chaplains. The population’s genetic purity must be maintained, in order to conserve those qualities that serve the Space Marines’ purposes best. Their spiritual health is also maintained, to ensure that no trace of the influence of the Ruinous Powers becomes manifest. Such observations are in general carried out from a distance, and it is rare for the society to have any direct contact with, or knowledge of, the Space Marines, or in many cases even of the Imperium. The Chapter’s officers might visit the culture once a generation and will be the subject of myth and legend. These mighty warriors from beyond the stars are figures of awe, and their word is law. The nature of the trials set by the outsiders vary enormously, but all are so arduous that only a handful pass them. Those who fail may be lucky to even survive, for many trials take the form of ritual combat, the hunting of a great beast, or the performance of incredibly dangerous feats of strength and bravery. At the conclusion of the trials, those few Aspirants that have been deemed worthy are taken away, invariably never to see their people again.

Rites of Selection

This section describes the many and varied trials that Aspirants are expected to overcome before being accepted into the ranks of a Chapter's Neophytes. Though he will undergo continuous testing throughout his period as a Neophyte, and often beyond, the first trial the Aspirant must pass to be accepted as a potential Space Marine is by far the most significant. The events an Aspirant experiences during that trial will live on in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives. Such experiences shape them, in both positive and negative ways, lending a further level of detail to your Chapter's background.

Every Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes uses some form of Trial to ascertain whether Aspirants are worthy of beginning the often-fatal process of becoming fully-fledged Battle-Brothers. The nature of this Trial varies hugely from Chapter to Chapter and world to world. In some cases, a culture's traditional festivals and rites of passage are in fact well-disguised Trials, established generations ago and watched over in secret by Chaplains or senior Chapter Serfs. In such cases, the Aspirants believe they are participating in tribal rituals and coming- of-age challenges, and are entirely unaware that the most promising of their number will be selected to become Space Marines (if they even know what Space Marines are!). In other cultures, the Aspirants fight for the honour to be judged worthy, knowing that a great reward awaits the victors. Again, they may not know the exact nature of that reward, but to be chosen is the greatest of honours a young man can aspire to.

Some Trials are watched over closely by the servants of the Chapter, who judge the Aspirant every step of the way. Others have no interest in the actual process, only the outcome. Some Trials are so arduous that the simple fact of an Aspirant's surviving it is sufficient to pronounce his victory. In other cases, the manner in which the Aspirant approaches the challenge is judged of more importance than whether or not he completes it — in some cases, the Trial is deliberately impossible to complete, and the Aspirant's willingness to undertake it regardless all that matters. The vast majority of Aspirants fail their Trials, and many of these die in the process — though a failed Aspirant who lives through the Trial often garners much honour within his culture, his mere survival rendering him a hero and a potential future leader of his people.

At the Trial's completion, a successful Aspirant will be taken away to join the Chapter. Sometimes he will find a Space Marine waiting for him at the conclusion of his challenge, and be led into a waiting transport to leave his former life forever. Sometimes he will be afforded the adulation of his people before leaving, enjoying one last night with kith and kin. Many simply awaken in an induction-cell, with no knowledge of how they got there or what awaits them.

Blood Duel

Potential Aspirants fight a Blood Duel to the death

One of the most common Trials takes the form of a duel between Aspirants, often to the death. The type of duel varies enormously, and every culture from which the Space Marines recruit has its own well-established practices. On different worlds, different weapons will be used, or sometimes none at all as the combatants are expected to pummel, gouge and throttle one another bloody. Feral world tribes might use flint-tipped spears or the sharpened, serrated fangs of wild beasts. Worlds with a medieval level of technology might use highly-ritualised forms of swordplay, while the most advanced worlds would have access to all manner of lethal weaponry.

Commonly, a Blood Duel Trial is fought in rounds, with Aspirants fighting foe after foe until only a small number remain. If the Chapter conducting the Trial has need of a large number of recruits, the Trial may be ended when a set number of Aspirants are left. When the Chapter has less need of new material, the Trials may continue until only one battered and bloody challenger remains, the corpses of his enemies carpeting the ground before him. Not all Blood Duels are to the death, and some have highly ritualistic and specific victory conditions. Sometimes the duel is fought to first of blood, other times to the very point of death. The Space Marine Apothecaries are capable of rebuilding a crippled body should the Aspirant be deemed worthy of acceptance, so most blood duels are brutal, no holds-barred affairs.

A Battle-Brother that underwent a Blood Duel Trial before being accepted into the ranks of their Chapter’s Neophytes have reason to be supremely confident in their ability to accept any challenge and face any foe. In surviving the Blood Duel, the Battle-Brother was truly gifted by fate, for dozens fell on the bloody field so that he might take his place as a Neophyte. He will undoubtedly still bear the scars of the duel, and by them others will know of his ferocity and skill.

Hunting the Hunter Trial

A Space Wolves Aspirant successfully returns to the Fang from the brutal ordeal, known as the Trial of Morkai

Many of the cultures from which the Astartes recruits exist in hellishly dangerous environments populated by all manner of predatory beings. In most cases, the predators in question are autochthonic beasts native to the world, but sometimes they have been deliberately introduced in order to retard the culture's development, ensuring that their every moment is a fight for survival and cultivating the most promising recruits possible. In many cases the predators are human, such as the gelt-scalpers that prey on the outcasts of hive societies, culling the unwanted for monetary reward. Frontier worlds are often plagued by alien raiders, ranging from the dreaded and lethal Dark Eldar to the barbarous greenskinned Orks. This Trial requires the Aspirant to track down and slay, or sometimes capture, such a predator, turning the tables on those who prey upon his people and proving his worthiness to become an Astartes Neophyte. The hunt is a test of cunning and determination as much as raw martial prowess, often requiring the Aspirant to track his prey in its own territory. The hunt may last days, weeks or even longer according to the conditions of the Trial and the weapons the Aspirant can either find or fashion for himself. Taking the target alive is perhaps the hardest of Trials, for the Aspirant must keep the foe restrained on a return journey that might prove every bit as arduous as the hunt itself.

A variation of the hunt requires a number of Aspirants to hunt a single target, though only one may claim victory. Some of these Aspirants strike out on their own, even turning on their fellows when the opportunity arises. Others set aside their rivalry and work together until the end. Those Aspirants who survive must eventually fight one another for the honour of claiming victory. Whatever path the Aspirants take, the Chapter learns much about their potential recruits. At the conclusion of a Trial in which a prisoner is taken, it is common for the Aspirant to be required to slay his captive, often before his people in a highly ritualised deed akin to a ceremonial sacrifice. Thus, the blood offering is made and the victor led away to join the ranks of the sky warriors. The Space Wolves are known to use the Hunting the Hunter Trial, requiring the Aspirant to track and face a fearsome Fenrisian Wolf or a Snow Troll. The Dark Angels have a similar tradition drawn from the knightly orders of their lost homeworld of Caliban and often require Aspirants to track and kill fearsome beasts mutated by the powers of Chaos.

Battle-Brothers that underwent a Hunting the Hunter Trial before being accepted in the ranks of their Chapter's Neophytes are utterly relentless when hunting their foes, and will continue a hunt long after others might give up on ever locating its target. They can often be quite competitive, especially if they perceive that another might reach the objective before them.

Survival of the Fittest

It is often said that in the dark future of the 41st Millennium there is only war. No world is untouched by bloodshed and death and for many human societies war is a permanent state of existence. Many of the worlds from which Space Marine Chapters recruit are not home to a single, unified society, but rather a host of small tribes constantly at war with one another. In such societies, Trials are all but unnecessary and instead of staging formal tests and challenges the Space Marines simply watch these wars from afar, witness the deeds of the greatest heroes and select the victors as Aspirants. Hive worlds often fall into this category, especially the lawless underhives and the polluted ash wastes between the hive cities. Gangs of savage psychopaths battle one another ceaselessly for power and influence and the greatest of these gang leaders sometimes attract the attentions of the servants of the Chapter. In most cases, the Space Marines need to do little more than watch the wars, but in some instances they actively take a hand in fomenting conflict and strife.

By limiting the technology levels of a society, curtailing its access to natural resources, infiltrating it with Chapter serfs who spread hate, lies and paranoia, and occasionally even introducing psychosis-inducing substances into the food chain, the Astartes can ensure there is no break in the constant state of warfare that produces the Chapter's next heroes. The Chapters best known for practicing this type of Trial are the Space Wolves, who watch from afar as entire tribes on their frigid homeworld of Fenris wipe one another out in bloody internecine wars. Many other Chapters use similar methods as well, including the Dark Angels and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters. Battle-Brothers that underwent a Survival of the Fittest Trial before being accepted in the ranks of the Chapter’s Neophytes are often possessed of a heroic air, for they proved themselves the greatest warriors of their home world in passing the Trial. They can look out across an ocean of seething alien monstrosities and not experience a single moment's doubt, for they have faced such odds before, and emerged victorious.

Exposure Trials

Few worlds of the Imperium of Man are free from adversity and these rare exceptions are either the holdings of wealthy mercantile combines or pleasure retreats for retired, high-level Imperial servants or the local sector nobility, entirely inaccessible to the vast bulk of Mankind. Most of the Emperor's subjects live on worlds that are dangerous in some manner. Long-settled planets are riven by pollution, the toxic waste of thousands of years of industry seeping into the very bedrock and raining from the skies in a constant downpour. Other worlds are heavily irradiated, by the processes of industry or by the effects of local celestial phenomena. Younger worlds where Mankind's dominion is not yet fully established, are often host to all manner of hostile lifeforms, including predatory beasts, carnivorous plants and virulent microbes. Plenty of worlds feature environments that are inimical to life, yet due to some natural resource or the world's strategic value, humans eke out an existence there nonetheless. Such environments range from sub-zero ice wastes, impenetrable swamps and arid deserts to exotic death world jungles, methane sumps and hydrocarbon oceans. In an Exposure Trial, the Aspirant must go out into such an environment and simply survive for a set period of time. If he is a native of such a hellish place, the Aspirant will have some knowledge of how to survive, yet is shorn of all aid and divested of all but the most basic of survival equipment. Communities living in the midst of a death world jungle, for example, rely on total and constant cooperation just to go on existing another day and none are ever out of the sight of another. An Exposure Trial in such a place would force the Aspirant to go out into the jungle alone and face the terrors of the wild with only himself to rely upon for the first time in his life.

Some Exposure Trials test the Aspirant's fortitude in a specific environment. Such Trials carried out in an icy waste could involve the Aspirant travelling from one point to another, with countless hundreds of kilometres of trackless snow-blasted plains separating the two. Other Aspirants might have to cross an entire continent of irradiated ash dunes, traverse an impassable mountain range, swim a predator-infested ocean or a hundred other such challenges. One particularly inventive variation of the Exposure Trial is one in which the Aspirant is taken from his own environment and transplanted into an entirely unfamiliar one. A Feral World savage might be deposited in a hive city, for example, or a Hive Worlder in a predator-infested Death World jungle. Many Exposure Trials are impossible to complete, entailing the Aspirant simply staying alive as long as possible. Those who face the impossible without faltering and who survive long past the point they should have perished are recovered by the Chapter's Apothecaries, often having succumbed but not yet died, and revived, having been judged worthy of becoming an Astartes Neophyte. Amongst other types of Trial, the Ultramarines make extensive use of the Exposure Trial. In fact, some of the warrior elite of the Realm of Ultramar are known to cast newborn infants into the wilderness in order to test their resilience. The Space Wolves use similar methods, as do many other Chapters. Battle-Brothers that underwent an Exposure Trial before being accepted in the ranks of the Chapter’s Neophytes are often stoic and dour in the face of discomfort and adversity, uncaring of environmental ills that others would find insurmountable. They are unmoved by the challenge of crossing mountains, wading through sucking swamps, plunging into snow storms and many other such environmental hazards. Some even seek out such challenges, seeming to prefer life in the wild to that in their Chapter's fortress-monastery or aboard a vessel within a fleet-based Chapter.

Knowledge of Self Trials

The horrors that a Space Marine will witness during his service to the Emperor are sufficient to destroy a normal man's sanity and those witnessed by the Battle-Brothers who serve in the special Astartes units like the Grey Knights and the Deathwatch are more horrifying still. Many Chapters consider the Aspirant's spiritual and mental capabilities every bit as important as his physical characteristics and impose Trials not of the body, but of the mind. There are hundreds--if not thousands--of ways in which a Chapter can test an Aspirant's inner strength. One method is a vision, imposed by way of psychic intrusion by one of the Chapter's Librarians. The Aspirant may be plunged into a trance-like state during which he is subjected to all manner of horrific visions or irresistible temptations. He faces creatures dredged up from his own nightmares and phantoms seeded in his mind by the Librarian, who presides over the Trial and judges the Aspirant's very soul. Some Trials are far cruder; the Aspirant is simply administered some powerful psychoactive concoction, often distilled from the venom of local predators or the sap of rare plants. Under the influence of such drugs, the Aspirant must face the very worst his own psyche can produce, terrors often far worse than a Librarian could implant. Many die under the sheer stress and trauma placed on their hearts during the process and those that survive will be utterly changed--physically as well as mentally.

Another common variation of this Trial is exposure to pain. There are myriad different ways in which pain can be applied, some primitive, others fiendishly inventive. Some torments leave the Aspirant scarred for life, though the scars are proudly borne as evidence of his mental strength. Others, such as the infamous Pain-Glove used by the Imperial Fists Chapter, leave no marks, interfacing directly with the Aspirant's nervous system and keeping his conscious long past the point he would otherwise have passed out. Though the Imperial Fists are the best known practitioners of this type of Trial, many other Chapters use it too, especially those that recruit from feral societies with strong shamanic tendencies. The Black Templars use similar methods but eschew the use of drugs or technology, instead requiring an Aspirant to fast or pray for days on end until a similar effect is achieved. A Battle-Brother that underwent a Knowledge of Self Trial before being accepted in the ranks of the Chapter's Neophytes have faced the very worst terrors their own psyches can conjure, against which the horrors of the universe appear shallow and wan. They are often blessed of a calm self-assurance in the face of adversity. But such warriors often hold a darker secret which they keep locked deep inside, their nightmares haunted by the things they faced so long ago. Some things no man wishes to learn about himself.

Challenge Trial

A Trial used by a smaller number of Chapters, the Challenge requires the Aspirant to fight a duel or compete in some other manner against a full Astartes. In truth, none expect the Aspirant to better a full Battle-Brother and his success is more often measured in the degree of his failure. Very occasionally, an Aspirant does manage to beat an Astartes and when this happens it is not uncommon for the individual to go on to become a legendary hero of the Chapter. Many Challenge Trials involve a test of martial skill, with the Aspirant fighting an armed duel against a Battle-Brother. It is usual for the Aspirant to be armed and the Astartes to fight with his bare hands and probably without his Power Armour, yet still the Aspirant has virtually no hope of victory. Most Challenge Duels end in the death of the Aspirant, for even an unarmed, unarmoured Astartes is a giant compared to the young, adolescent challenger and well able to slay him with a single blow, intentionally or not. Other Challenge Trials involve contests of strength, stamina, speed, skill or mental strength. The Trial might range from the lifting of impossibly heavy loads to the imbibing of toxic substances. As with a duel, this type of Challenge Trial can often prove deadly. In both cases, however, an Aspirant that has failed the Trial -- yet performed to the Chapter's satisfaction -- is rescued from the jaws of death by the Chapter's Apothecaries and judged worthy of progressing to the rank of Neophyte. Several Chapters are known to make use of the Challenge Trial, including the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists, Storm Wardens and Iron Snakes. A Battle-Brother that underwent a Challenge Trial before being accepted in the ranks of the Chapter's Neophytes are often possessed of a highly developed sense of their own superiority. Instead of superiors, they often regard the officers of their Chapter as equals, especially those rare few who actually bettered the brother they challenged. This rarely manifests itself as outright insubordination, but it can occasionally cause tension. Even the psycho-conditioning every Neophyte endures cannot totally erase the notion that the Battle-Brother is equal in skill, if not rank, to his superiors and he is never afraid to question their orders if he feels they are ill-judged.

Combat Doctrine

"And they shall be the Angels of Death."
Codex Astartes

How does the Chapter prefer to fight? Although the Adeptus Astartes are by definition the masters of every aspect of war, many Chapters come to favour one style of combat over others. Years of fighting against particular foes might hone an especially effective form to perfection, or the specialisation might be the result of the Chapter's essential character and the nature of its gene-seed. The Blood Angels excel in close combat, for example, where they focus the rage that is a result of the Flaw. The Codex Astartes teaches a balanced approach to war, and so any Chapter sired by the Ultramarines or their line is unlikely to pursue one form of combat doctrine at the expense of others, but there are a thousand Chapters and more, and no two are identical. Some possible combat doctrines are presented below. If your Chapter is an Ultramarines Successor it should follow the Codex Combat Doctrine, unless you have a strong reason for them not to and a good background idea to support it.

Codex Combat Doctrine

The Chapter follows the dictates of the Codex Astartes, fielding a balanced mix of Tactical, Assault and Devastator Squads, in addition to the prescribed compliment of support units. In the execution of battle plans, the Chapter's leaders remain flexible, and are willing and able to change approach at a moment's notice. Such Chapters may still deviate from the Codex in matters that do not relate directly to tactics and unit organisation.

Close Combat

The Chapter favours assault troops and tactics to win the battle. Such Chapters may appear superficially to follow the organisational doctrines of the Codex, yet focus on close combats when it comes to delivering victory, or they may actually field an increased proportion of Assault Squads over Tactical or Devastator Squads. Within this specialisation there exists some variety, which is usually derived from the nature of the Chapter's gene-seed. The Battle- Brothers of some Chapters are focused and relentless in close combat, while others are frenzied and nigh uncontrollable.

Ranged Combat

The opposite of the Close Combat doctrine, Chapters focusing on ranged combat prefer to gun their opponents down with overwhelming firepower. For some this is a matter of the controlled, almost scientific application of long-range fire, while others display a preternatural instinct for locating their foe's weak points and striking from afar. Those favouring such a doctrine might be further divided into those who prefer the close-in use of massed bolters and assault weapons, and those who specialize in longer-ranged heavy weapons. Some may field a larger proportion of Devastator squads, balancing these off against a reduced number of Assault Squads. Those favouring the close-in approach are likely to mount their battles in Rhino transports, dismounting when within bolter range in order to unleash a devastating fusillade of mass reactive death.

Armoured Assault

The greatest weapon of any Space Marine Chapter is its Battle-Brothers, and so ultimately, units such as armoured vehicles are always deployed in support of the Brethren. despite this, some Chapters field a higher proportion of armoured vehicles, and integrate them far more into their tactics than others. It is said that in the dark days of the Horus Heresy, the mighty Space Marine Legions were able to field entire companies of Predator battle tanks and other vehicles, yet since that time this has not been possible. If a Chapter's Master of Forge orders the production of such vehicles as Land Raiders in preference to other weapons, he may be able to mount an entire company, normally the 1st, in them, but they will invariably be acting as highly effective fighting vehicles and not as a tank company in their own right. Most Chapters maintain sufficient stocks of armoured transport vehicles such as Rhinos and Razorbacks to transport entire companies, and some have become masters of the mechanised assault, the Battle-Brothers taking objectives with terrifying speed or bearing down on an entrenched foe before he even has time to mount a defence.


Very few Space Marine Chapters specialise in stealth tactics, for most are so proud of their identity and so feared by their foes that announcing their presence in advance is in effect a weapon in itself. Despite this, there are some Chapters that have honed the art of a stealthy approach followed by an overwhelming assault to an art form, not least of which is the Raven Guard Chapter. Some of these Chapters utilise subtle modifications to armour and weaponry, shielding them from detection until the very last moment. Silenced weapons, null-shielded insertions and dampered armour are all utilised so that the enemy has no idea of the Chapter's presence, until the killing blow is delivered.

Lightning Strike

A lightning strike is an assault carried out with such overwhelming force, from such an unexpected quarter, that no defence is possible and the enemy is smashed aside and utterly defeated. Chapters that specialise in the tactic tend to maintain highly mobile forces, eschewing heavy firepower for manoeuvrability. These forces might feature large numbers of rhino-borne squads, and sometimes the vehicles will have been modified to afford additional speed or range. Others utilise large numbers of bike-mounted warriors, sometimes mounting entire Tactical squads on bikes and attack bikes. The lightning strike is often precluded by a stealthily inserted scout mission, the Neophytes led by grizzled scout sergeants who themselves the veterans of a hundred missions. Enemy positions are thoroughly reconnoitred, their status communicated by ultra-secure cipher wave to the main force hidden nearby.

Drop Pod

The Space Marines are colloquially known as the "Angels of Death" in many quarters, in no small part due to the common practice of launching an orbital assault by way of drop pod. Some Chapters specialise in this tactic, honing it to perfection so that the first and last thing an enemy sees of the Space Marines’ attack are the black contrails of dozens of drop pods streaking through the air, and Battle-Brothers disembarking inside his lines to gun him down with ruthless efficiency. As any squad type can be deployed in this manner such tactics rarely dictate a major change in organisation, though the Chapter’s forges may focus on creating drop pods over other types of vehicle, and as heavy support vehicles are slower to deploy they will focus on infantry assaults over armoured ones. The Blood Angels are an example of a Chapter that regards the drop pod assault as the most refined application of the power that is the Adeptus Astartes.

Thunderhawk Assault

A Thunderhawk assault is in effect a variation on the drop pod method of insertion, sacrificing a measure of surprise for the overwhelming firepower the gunships themselves are able to bring to bear. Thunderhawk gunships are able to carry up to three squads of Space Marines, and some are modified to carry bike squads. Thunderhawk Transporters carry armoured vehicles - either two Rhinos or a single Land Raider—slung beneath their bellies. A force consisting of both types is capable of delivering an entire battle company directly into the heart of an enemy position, a force which very few foes have any chance of countering. The White Scars utilise the Thunderhawk Assault tactic to fearsome effect, ferrying entire bike squads to the front line, which ride down the stunned foe. Other Chapters use Thunderhawks to deliver Assault Squads to the front line, the jump-pack equipped warriors leaping from the troop bays at a great height and descending directly on to the foe with chain swords howling and bolt pistols blazing.


Protracted siege warfare, whether fought defensively or offensively, is a form of war rarely practised by the Space Marines and generally left to the far more numerous armies of the Imperial Guard. Despite this, some Chapters have historically excelled at such a form, or are temperamentally suited a type of war that is a unique mix of science and murder. When attacking, Space Marines specialising in siege warfare commonly form the spearhead of the assault, bringing a formidable weight of power to bear on the weakest point in the enemy defences and cracking it open no matter the cost, allowing lesser forces to consolidate before moving on to the next objective. When fighting in defence, the Space Marines identify the point the enemy is most likely to assault, and hold it come what may. An army of half a million Imperial Guardsmen might rely upon a single company of Space Marines to take or hold a fortress, so effective are such Chapters.

Shock and Awe

When possible, many Space Marine assaults are precluded by a bombardment staged by strike vessels or battle barges in orbit over an enemy position, softening up the resistance and hampering the foe' swill and ability to fight. Some Chapters have honed this ability to such a degree that the mere appearance of their vessels in system space is sufficient to bring about the enemy's total collapse. Any foe foolish enough to resist further is likely to be the subject of such a devastating bombardment that no stone is left standing upon another, and very little remains for the ground troops to engage. Some Chapters have become a little too skilled in this tactic for their own good, and are so willing to bring about such devastation that their aid is not sought in the liberation of captured cities.


To the average Imperial subject, even a single Space Marine is a sight of such awe and legend that the merest thought of rebellion is impossible to countenance. Those amongst humanity's enemies capable of rational thought are equally quelled by the sight of the Adeptus Astartes, proudly bearing their colours and marching fearlessly onwards. Some Chapters build their tactics around the notion of inspiring fear in their foes, even above that they already invoke. Such Chapters utilise the universal symbols of death, including their adornment of their armour and vehicles with stylised or actual skulls, and display the bodies of fallen enemy leaders where all their followers may witness their defeat. They employ psychological methods, such as transmitting the sermons of their Chaplains and other dire portents of imminent doom. Targets are selected so as to cause maximum disruption of enemy command and control nets, with precision strikes called against leaders and communication nodes so that once coherent armies are reduced to disparate masses of uncoordinated and utterly demoralised mobs.

Total War

"He who would stay his hand, he who would show mercy, he who would speak of peace; he is a traitor, and nothing in this universe is as low as a traitor."
— Pator Norak, prior to the Battle of Griffin’s World.

Over ten thousand years of constant warfare throughout the entire galaxy, the Imperium has fought every variation of conflict imaginable. From gruelling sieges lasting decades to the bitter one-on-one fighting of a cityfight, there is no expression of the art of war that Mankind has not experienced, or mastered. Some of the more common types of warfare are described below.

Total War

When the Imperium goes to war, it does so with total conviction, for its leaders know that ultimately the very survival of Mankind is at stake. Every possible resource is mustered in the pursuit of victory, with entire planetary populations turned over to supporting the war effort, no matter the cost. Many of the Imperium's wars have escalated over the centuries, perhaps starting out as mere backwater rebellions before developing into full-scale wars engulfing entire sectors and involving every possible arm of the Imperium's military.

Such total war sees millions-strong armies grinding into one another across crater-strewn wastes littered with the blackened bones of previous waves of attackers. Entire cities are reduced to rubble, bitter enemies fight hand-to-hand in the ruins, refusing to surrender a single city block. Worlds afflicted by total war soon become a blackened wasteland bearing no resemblance to their former state. Planets once blessed by verdant forests are reduced to ashes, enemies clashing amidst the skeletal remains of the trees. Hive cities are transformed into towering mausoleums, their corridors and domes choked with the dead and riddled with disease.

After several years of total war, it is possible that the belligerents have forgotten the initial cause of hostilities. Of course, most wars fought by the Imperium are viewed as a matter of racial survival, so no justification is required. Equally, an army of rebels or secessionists may have seen its more fanatical members killed off or martyred in the initial battles, but continue to fight because to surrender would be to face the inevitable vengeance of the Imperium's justice. Most alien races require no reason to make war other than their essential nature; for such races as the Orks and the Tyranids, war is fundamental to existence, and requires no rationalisation whatsoever.

Planetary Assault

Planetary assaults are a common type of warfare in the Imperium. Often a world will fall before aid can arrive, and the Imperium's armies must force a contested landing in order to reclaim it. Some planetary assaults are undertaken by small, elite formations such as Space Marines, striking at the very heart of the enemy. Command bunkers, defence installations, communications nodes and logistical centres are all targeted, with Space Marines deploying via drop pods into the midst of their foe. Very few defenders can withstand such an attack, and it is not uncommon for the entire chain of command to collapse when the upper echelons are attacked in this way.

The other type of planetary assault is the massed landing. Far from the surgical strike of Space Marine insertion, a massed drop involves thousands of troops deploying by drop ships large enough to carry entire regiments of infantry or hundreds of battle tanks. There is no subtlety to such landings. The Imperium simply lands as much of its forces as possible in one concentrated mass, and moves immediately to enact a breakout so that enemy reserves cannot be brought to bear on the vulnerable landing point. Such sledgehammer tactics can overwhelm the most stubborn of defences, but often only at unimaginable cost in the lives of the attackers. Fortunately for the Imperium, manpower is one resource it can afford to squander; planets are not.


Cityfights develop when a city holds some value to both sides in a war, whether military, logistical or simply symbolic. If only one side places any value in the city, the other is likely to use whatever strategic means it has available to deny it to the other, ranging from long range bombardment to the unleashing of ordnance from battleships in orbit high above. When two armies decide to fight one another for possession of a city, the conflict is sure to become a bitter and bloody meat grinder, for in the crater-strewn ruins, death awaits at every corner. Mighty battle tanks can smash through the wreckage of once proud buildings, but they are vulnerable to lone enemies armed with tank-busting melta weapons. Snipers become the lords of the battlefield, able to strike down enemy leaders, heavy weapons crew and tank commanders foolish enough to expose themselves to their all-seeing scopes.

Armoured Warfare

The industrial might of the Imperium's Forge worlds and Hive worlds makes it possible for entire armies to be equipped with the mightiest of armoured war machines. These range from agile walkers such as the Sentinel to super-heavy tanks such as the gargantuan Baneblade. When the terrain and strategic conditions require it, the Imperium is able to field vast formations of armoured vehicles, forming a titanic mailed fist able to smash aside any opposition. Furthermore, there have been many instances when environmental conditions have made it impossible for Imperial Guard infantry to operate, and only the sealed tanks can be fielded. Races such as the Tyranids are capable of wreaking such havoc upon a planet's eco-system that this is the only way of fighting them face-to-face.

The mightiest of the Imperium's armoured war machines are not tanks at all, but the Titans of the Adeptus Titanicus. These so-called 'god machines' tower over the battlefield, their every stride capable of crushing to a pulp entire platoons of enemy infantry. Furthermore, a Titan is able to carry weapons normally only seen in planetary defence emplacements or in the turrets of the battleships of the Imperial Navy.

Trench Warfare

When war grinds to a stalemate and neither side has the ability to break the deadlock, the opposing armies will fortify what positions they have claimed and resolve to defend them no matter the cost. Entire continents become crossed with trench lines thousands of kilometres in length. Mighty bastions are constructed along the defence lines, each an impenetrable redoubt armed with fearsome arrays of anti-personnel weapons able to cut down entire waves of enemy attackers. Furthermore, each front features multiple defensive lines, so that should one fall, an in-depth defence can be enacted and counter-attacks launched from subsequent lines. A common feature of this style of warfare is the unimaginable cost in lives of taking any ground at all. Entire regiments attack over a front of a few hundred metres, thousand laying down their lives in exchange for taking a position that will almost certainly be retaken within hours. War in the 41st Millennium is not subject to moral laws or strategic logic; it is a matter of faith, and faith is the one thing for which men will willingly die.


A suppression is a punitive war, launched against a world for the security of the surrounding region. It may be fought against insurgent elements on an Imperial world, or against the Imperial Commander himself, who has perhaps withheld tithes, given succour to traitors or otherwise refused to adhere to the dictates of the Adeptus Terra. A suppression might be launched against an alien civilisation that has threaten the Imperium's worlds or in order to forestall an anticipated invasion.

Such punitive wars are normally intended to be sharp and short, and to bring about a specific set of strategic circumstances. Of course, suppressions may fail in their objectives, and escalate into full blown wars consuming millions of lives and lasting many years.


Although the Adeptus Terra prefer to leave the administration of the Imperium's worlds to the duly appointed Imperial Commanders, there are times when circumstances dictate that elements of that world's population be removed for the good of the entire region. It may be that insurgent or pirate activity has reached such a pitch that the local government cannot contain it any longer and the security of an entire sub-sector is threatened. It might be that mutant or psyker populations have been allowed to expand unchecked. It may even be the case that a local expression of the Imperial Cult has been declared heretical, and its adherents must be hunted down and punished. On some worlds, such cults prove to be a cover for the worship of the Ruinous Powers of the warp, or are dominated by alien overlords.

Purges are brutal affairs, and often trigger a full-scale uprising. They have a habit of escalating as that which the Imperium seeks to excise proves to be far more widespread than previously thought. Few planetary militias will stand idly by and watch as Imperial Guard units from off-world conduct pogroms against their kin and burn their homes to the ground. Unless conducted with swift, overwhelming efficiency, a purge may soon become a war of attrition.

Purges are often led by individuals such as Inquisitors, whose powers are not subject to Imperial law and who will not flinch at doing what is necessary to locate and punish his targets. The warriors conducting the purge are likely to be drawn from elite units such as the Space Marines, who are able to attack swiftly, with overwhelming force, before the enemy can react. In the aftermath of the purge, there is likely to be a period of severe oppression in which thousands are put on trial and executed. Although harsh, Humanity can afford no less in the battle for its very survival.

Civil War

In a galaxy in which Mankind is beset with foes on all quarters, it is a tragedy of epic proportions that worlds should go to war against one another. Yet such conflicts are common, as Imperial Commanders vie for territory and seek to settle old scores. Wars of secession, fought between rival factions each believing themselves the rightful heirs to the rulership of an Imperial world, reduce entire planets to wastelands even without the actions of hostile invaders or rebellious elements. Trade wars escalate to open conflicts and the planetary militias are used not to defend against attackers but to capture territory from bitter competitors. It is rare for such conflicts to involve the Imperial Guard or other military organisations, for the belligerents would not wish to draw the attentions of the Adeptus Terra, preferring instead to resolve the conflict with their own forces. As far as the Imperium at large is concerned, these 'bush wars' are insignificant to the larger strategic situation, unless of course they interfere with the rendering of tithes or the raising of new Imperial Guard regiments. Should either of these occur, then the Imperium is likely to launch an attack of its own, forcibly ousting the warring parties and installing a new Imperial Commander more likely to maintain the status quo.

Special Equipment

One thing that sets a Chapter apart from another are the individual pieces of equipment that the Chapter prefers to carry into battle. Below is listed the most common special equipment utilised by the various Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes:

  • Traditional Weapons - The Chapter favours one specific weapon over all others. Choose one specific weapon to serve as the Chapter’s traditional weapon. Examples: Power Sword, Bolt Pistol, Melta Gun, ect.
  • Totemic Charm - This Chapter has strong beliefs in the icons of either the Emperor or their Primarch. A Battle-Brother from this Chapter would never be caught without such an icon on their person. Example: Chapter Heraldry on a necklace, Imperial Aquilla tattooed over the right eye, or fetishes made from an animals bones which are worn on an individual Battle-Brother's power armour.
  • Modified Jump-Pack - Primarily seen in Chapter's that favor the Assault Combat Doctrine, Battle-Brother's from this Chapter modify their Jump-Packs (with a Tech-Marine’s help of course) to provide a more glorious sight to their allies and a more terrifying one to their enemies. Examples: Jump-Pack's created in different shapes such as angel wings.
  • Beastial Companion - More common among those Chapter's whose origins come from Feral Worlds, this Chapter prides itself on raising hunting animals to assist in battle. Examples: Fenrisian Wolf, hunting birds in the form of a cyber-raven.
  • Rare Weaponry - Whether through the blessing of the Adeptus Mechanicus or sheer good fortune, this Chapter has a large stock of weaponry that is considered rare amongst the other Chapters. It is seen as a symbol of honour to wield one of these weapons in battle. Examples: Astartes Assault Cannon, Digital Weapons.
  • Blessed Wargear - It is common for members of this Chapter to have their Wargear blessed by a Chaplain before battle. Doing so puts the Battle- Brother's mind at ease and more focused on the task at hand.
  • Special Mount - While other Chapter's may keep animals as companions, this Chapter uses them for what they were intended for transportation. Examples: Fenrisian Wolf, Carnodon, very angry Grox.
  • Special Vehicle - This Chapter prefers to ride into battle in more modern conveyances. While the traditional Space Marine vehicle is the Rhino, other Chapters may use more rare vehicles as primary transport. Examples: Modified Rhino, Land Raider, or Land Speeder.
  • Preferred Fighting Style - The Chapter has a specific way in which it prefers to go about killing the enemy in the name of the God Emperor of Mankind. Examples: Bolt Pistol and Chainsword, dual Power Swords, special Bolter pattern or ammunition.
  • Modified Weaponry - When the Chapter’s forges produce a weapon, they produce them in a style that is specific to their Chapter. Examples: Power Sabre, Bolt Pistol with weighted butt for clubbing.

Beliefs & Dogma

"No life given in the name of the Emperor is given in vain."
— Chaplain Hauis Argento of the Crimson Fists

Every Chapter has its own "Chapter cult," the body of beliefs and practices unique to itself. The specifics of the cult develop over the millennia, so that two Chapters sired by the same Progenitor during the same Founding may, after several centuries, exhibit radically divergent religious practices. Some Chapters inherit a great deal of the rites and traditions of the culture from which they recruit, while many more are so steeped in their own history and tradition that they are quite unique. In general, the Successors of any given Progenitor share a core body of beliefs and practices, but even this is not always the case. This section presents just a few possible Chapter cults, and having some idea of their nature and history is a great way to add depth to a Chapter's character.

As an example, listed below are some well known First Founding Chapters and their beliefs:

  • Salamanders: Highly honourable; Utilise many vehicles in combat; Willing to sacrifice to achieve a goal.
  • Iron Hands: Focus on augmentation; Each Battle-Brother driven by hatred of their foes; Not overcome by emotions.
  • White Scars: Highly mobile warriors; Very few Dreadnoughts - strongly against being entombed; Believe in harsh punishment and strict discipline.
  • Raven Guard: Stealth and infiltration; Lightning strikes; Cold and uncaring.

Common Chapter Beliefs

Revere the Primarch

The Chapter holds the Primarch of its Progenitor at the centre of its belief system, venerating him above all others. Although the Chapter worships the Emperor as the ultimate creator of the Legions and themselves, it is towards the Primarch that the bulk of its devotions are turned. Mighty statues of the Primarch grace the Chapter’s halls and his words are taught and read by every Battle-Brother.

The Emperor Above All

The Chapter holds the Emperor as the ultimate object of its devotions. This is especially likely to be the case with Chapters of a later Founding, who maintain less in the way of contact with the Progenitor than older, more closely-tied Successors. Some Chapters, for whatever reason, are actually unaware of who their Progenitor was, and as such are likely to centre their worship on either the Emperor, who created the Primarchs, or on one of their own founding fathers.

Honour the Ancestors

The Chapter worships one of its own heroes above all others. Although the Emperor and the Primarch are likely to be fully acknowledged, this hero is regarded as an intersessional figure who sits at the right side of the Emperor. Most Chapters that adhere to this particular form of belief worship one of their founding fathers, often the very first Chapter Master but sometimes another figure who performed some deed that sealed his place in the Chapter's history for all time.

Death Cult

The Chapter's beliefs are centred not on one particular figure, but on the more abstract notion of death itself. As the so-called "Angels of Death," the Space Marines' very existence is defined by their ability to slay their foes. While Space Marines are extremely long-lived, the vast majority die in battle and this Chapter embraces the fact. Chapters that follow this belief system to an extreme, adorning themselves in all manner of deathly fetishes and even partaking of gristly trophy taking.

Totem Creature

Many Chapters have as their symbol some form of animal, either an actual creature or one from mythology. Many aspire to the qualities displayed by the creature, displaying related motifs in their livery and titles. Some even utilise tactics and weapons inspired by the manner in which their totem creature fights or hunts. This is certainly the case with the Salamanders Chapter, who favour flame-effect weapons in imitation of their namesake. The Battle-Brothers of the Carcharodons Chapter file their teeth to sharp points to replicate those of their own totem creature.

Purity of Man

While all Chapters detest mutation in all its forms, some take their values to such an extent that they believe that the Space Marines alone are the true inheritors of the Emperor, that they were made according to his perfect vision and that mere mortals (everyone else) are utterly inferior. Some carry this notion through to a rejection of artificial augmetics, preferring death to the dishonour of concealing weakness with machine implants and totally abhor the practise of imprisoning a fallen warrior in the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.

Steel Over Flesh

The exact opposite of those who revere the purity of the human form, there are those Chapters that believe that the flesh is weak and that only steel can withstand both time and the rigours of eternal war. The Iron Hands Chapter is one of the better-known practitioners of this doctrine, who replace entire limbs with bionic equivalents. Such Chapters often maintain close links with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Omnissiah is likely to feature to some degree in their religious practices.

Esoteric Beliefs

A small number of Chapters have inherited quite unusual beliefs from the cultures they recruit from, and these have become intermixed with their veneration of the Emperor or of the Primarch. In the 41st Millennium, autochthonic religions are often merged into the cult of the Emperor, so the practice is not entirely without precedent although it remains uncommon amongst the Adeptus Astartes. In addition, the Adeptus Mechanicus worships a deity called the Omnissiah, which is held by most (though not all) tech-priests to be an alternative personification or manifestation of the Emperor. Many native populations display hylotheistic practices, worshipping the Emperor not as a god seated upon a golden throne, but residing in the heart of the sun that burns in their world's sky. Others worship the ocean, storm, sky, fire or any number of similar aspects that may over time come to signify the Emperor or a Primarch in the Chapter's own rituals and teachings.

Rivalries & Feuds

How is it that the greatest fighting force of Mankind - the Space Marines - can have such a long history of distrust, enmity, and open warfare with their brethren? For over ten thousand years, the Adeptus Astartes have fought alongside and against other Space Marines in countless battles. The Great Crusade set the stage for many of the most memorable feuds. During that time, each Legion of Space Marines tried to outdo its brothers in bringing glory to the fledgling Imperium. Fighting side-by-side, the original Legions often came to blows over the best way to reclaim a planet that had fallen away from the Emperor's light.

Possible Feuds

To pique one's interest, when writing about your own potential rivalry for your Space Marine Chapter, listed below are some sample feuds and rivalries. These are merely a fraction of the possibilities you can create:

  • Dark Angels vs. Space Wolves: One of the most famous rivalries in the Imperium, the tension between these two dates back to the time of the Great Crusade and the brawls that their Primarchs would engage in. While the two Chapters may not always get along, they actually possess a great deal of respect for one another and this rivalry is closer to competing brothers than anything else.
  • White Scars vs. Raven Guard: The tension between members of these two Chapters is darker and deeper than a friendly competition between allies. A Raven Guard views the White Scars with suspicion and open contempt in many instances, due to what he believes are failures to aid one another in times of need. This can provide for an interesting interaction between members of the Kill-team as their new bonds overwrite the troubles of the past.
  • Space Wolves vs. Blood Ravens: The Space Wolves have a long history of distrusting what they view as sorcery, and the highly psychic Blood Ravens Chapter has drawn their ire on more than one occasion. During the battle of Praximil VIII, the Blood Ravens reliance on Librarian intervention to oust the psyker leader of the renegades entrenched there sent their Space Wolves allies into a fury. The Wolf Lord who fought at their side believed the tactics to be dishonourable and he made this known to the Blood Ravens commander with a well-placed punch.
  • Storm Wardens vs. Blood Angels: On the night world of Etrimma, a small Blood Angels force had fought a prolonged campaign against a force of Drukhari raiders who were intent on securing the ancient ruins for their own dark purposes. As the tide turned against the Blood Angels, a Storm Wardens' Strike Cruiser arrived on the scene to render aid. Without a word, hundreds of Storm Wardens descended on the battlefield and routed the Drukhari in a matter of hours. The overly proud Blood Angel Captain did not take kindly to this unwelcome intervention. He was convinced that he could handle matters himself and that his warriors were more than capable of dealing with the xenos threat on their own. For the Blood Angels who fought in this encounter, the Storm Wardens are viewed as unwelcome meddlers.
  • Iron Hands vs. Ultramarines: A highly regimented Ultramarine values strict adherence to the Codex Astartes above all else. While the Iron Hands may structure their Chapter after the tenets of the Codex, they care little for the views of others and do not place much stock in the Ultramarines' complaints, preferring to let their long record of service to the Imperium speak for itself.

Bridging the Gaps

With all the turmoil and problems that each Chapter's beliefs and dogmas can bring, the ability to overcome these things in the service of the Imperium is where your Chapter can really shine. Your Chapter's history can run the gamut from simply conducting raids on foul xenos to deeply connected endeavours, filled with intrigue, that interact with Inquisitors, Rogue Traders, and other servants of the Imperium. It is up to the author to craft these stories and decide which path each game will follow. One must be careful to not make these rivalries too heavy on strife between the various Chapters. The key is finding the right balance of personal interaction that makes all the characters you write about, seem real and lifelike, without having your story devolve into constant bickering and one-upping each other. Keeping the story moving forward and advancing the overall storyline makes for an engaging and exciting read.

Current Status

"We face greenskin invasion rimward, Eldar raiding coreward, rebellion trailing and the tendrils of a Hive Fleet incoming spinward. Situation excellent, attacking on all fronts..."
— Captain Ferdina, Lord of the Marches, Tigers Argent Chapter

Throughout the ten thousand year history of the Imperium, many Chapters have risen to glory before receding into obscurity. Some burn brightly, but are consumed in the fires of their own victories, while others are struck down by the fickle hand of fate. The Codex Astartes counsels a Chapter Master to husband his forces with the utmost care and to take a strategic view on its status, casting his mind forward centuries into the future so that it may stand against any threat that may emerge. Most Chapters strive to maintain a standing force of 1,000 Battle-Brothers, plus additional officers and specialists, but the tides of war and disaster rarely allow such a luxury. The most fortunate and well husbanded of Chapters may be able to field the requisite ten companies, but invariably each will be at least a handful under strength. In the aftermath of an arduous campaign a Chapter may be well below strength and require several years or even decades to fully recover. Some Chapters hover at the verge of extinction, having suffered a terrible defeat or bitter misfortune, and can field but a handful of warriors.

A related point to consider is how the Chapter is deployed across the galaxy. Some Chapters concentrate their efforts in and around one region, particularly those based near the Eye of Terror. Others regard it as their duty to dispatch strike forces to every corner of the Imperium. This point may affect how often a character encounters Battle-Brothers from his own Chapter, whether or not they serve in the Deathwatch, how he interacts with them when he does so. Below are some examples you can use for your Chapter's current status:

  • Endangered - The Chapter numbers only a handful of Companies or less having suffered devastating losses in combat, accident, or dramatic genetic instability. If recovery is even possible it will take many decades, making every Battle-Brother (and his Progenoids) an invaluable resource.
  • Under Strength - The Chapter is recovering from a defeat or accident that occurred several decades ago, or has recently suffered heavy, but not irrecoverable losses. It is probably at a minimum of half strength, and should return to nominal strength within a decade.
  • Nominal - The Chapter can field ten full companies, each with ten squads. In all likelihood most every squad consist of ten brethren and some specialised appointments may be empty, but the Chapter is regarded as fully fit for battle.
  • Over Strength - Some Chapters maintain more than the prescribed ten companies, though it is rare for more than a handful more to be fielded and even then only temporarily. It may be that the Emperor's Tarot has predicted terrible losses ahead, or that the Chapter simply regards its numbers as optimal and cares little for the dictates of the Codex Astartes.

Allies and Enemies

"You give up your humanity that the citizens of the Imperium may keep theirs. Pity or despise them, but never expect them to understand."
— Apothecary Bharan, Adeptus Astartes Death Spectres

While the Space Marines stand aloof from the bulk of humanity, the long millennia of war have often brought about unlikely alliances and rivalries. Perhaps a Chapter stood alongside a particular Imperial Guard regiment during an especially gruelling campaign, and witnessed the sacrifice and nobility of the common Imperial Guard trooper. Conversely, perhaps the Chapter's actions earned it the disapproval of some Imperial body. Having some idea of how the Chapter interacts with other Imperial institutions can provide some interesting plot points and scenarios for your Chapter.

Example Chapter Allies

Below is listed some example allies for your Chapter:

  • Administratum
  • Adeptus Arbites
  • A fellow Adeptus Astartes Chapter
  • Adeptus Astra Telepathica
  • Adeptus Mechanicus
  • Adepta Sororitas
  • Adeptus Titanicus
  • Astropaths
  • Chartist Captains
  • Ecclesiarchy
  • Imperial Guard raised from a certain world
  • Imperial Navy
  • Inquisition
  • Navis Nobilite (Navigators)
  • Officio Assassinorum
  • Planetary Defence Force of a specific world
  • A Rogue Trader dynasty
  • Schola Progenium
  • Scholastica Psykana

Example Chapter Enemies

Below is listed the most common enemies for your Chapter:

  • Orks - Alternatively, you may select a particular WAAAGH! or Warboss.
  • Eldar - Alternatively, you may select a particular Craftworld or leader.
  • Tyranids - Alternatively, you may select a particular Hive Fleet.
  • Chaos Space Marines - You should choose a particular warband, Renegade Chapter, or Traitor Legion.
  • Daemons - A particular Daemon, Daemon Prince or Disciple of Chaos.
  • Chaos-aligned group - A particular Traitor Titan Legion, Chaos pirates, renegade Imperial Guard, ect.
  • Dark Eldar - Alternatively, you may select a particular Kabal or leader.
  • Tau - Alternatively, you may select a particular Tau force or leader.
  • Other - Choose one force or group, such as aliens or heretics or specific cult.

Battle Cry

"Let your words be the last thing they hear."
— Chaplain Scolasti, Adeptus Astartes Red Wolves to the 10th Company before the Blooding

Every Chapter has a battle-cry, the single emboldening call voiced by its leaders as they lead the charge on the foe. Many relate to the Chapter's home world or its Primarch, while others recall some great victory the memory of which drives the Battle-Brothers onwards into the fury of battle. One this page are listed some examples of Space Marine battle cries, which the player might like to bellow when his character is engaging a particularly fearsome enemy!

Example Battle Cries

  • "For the Emperor!"
  • "For the Primarch!"
  • "For the glory of (insert Primarch or home world)!"
  • "Remember (insert specific battle)!"
  • "Suffer not the unclean to live!"
  • "No fear, no pity, no remorse!"
  • "Forward, for the glory of the Emperor!"

Things NOT to Do When Creating a Homebrew Chapter

Here are a few finally things you should NOT do when writing a Homebrew Space Marine Chapter:

Do NOT claim your Chapter was created from Traitor Legion Gene-Seed

This is a very sticky issue with many people in the Warhammer 40K community. The suspect gene-seed of the Traitor Legions was placed under a time-locked stasis seal, although at the time, many believed these dangerous stocks of tainted genetic material had been destroyed. Therefore, it is not advisable to write about a Loyalist Successor Chapter of one of the Traitor Legions. Though established GW canon has confirmed that there are such possible Successors, such as the Death Eagles Chapter, which might be the remnant of the Emperor's Children 34th Millennial, that remained loyal to the Emperor, and fought their own traitorous kin during the Horus Heresy.

As to the long term viability of this and other lost Legiones Astartes detachments, it is difficult to say. Given sufficient gene-seed and technical competence it is entirely possible for such a formation to maintain its strength over a protracted period, inducting and training new recruits in the same way as a normal modern-era Space Marine Chapter. If the Death Eagles are indeed descended from the Emperor's Children, it would explain why their true origins have been purposely obfuscated. Such a connection to a reviled Traitor Legion would also be a terrible dishonour and would explain why the Death Eagles' heritage and original Legion colours may have been deliberately obscured from the Imperial record. But keep in mind, this Chapter is the exception, not the norm. You can say that your Chapter doesn't know the exact origin of its gene-seed and hint that their might be a possible connection to Traitor gene-seed, but don't explicitly come out and say it.

The simplest reason for not using Traitor gene-seed for your Homebrew Chapter is that the Imperium has a massive stock of Loyalist gene-seed. You can have your Chapter not know its gene-seed origin and hint at the idea of Traitor origins, but at no point do you want to outright say it. It's best to occlude a Chapter's origins and keep it mysterious, as this is much more inventive and makes your Chapter much more believable and interesting.

Do NOT say that your Chapter is a Space Wolves Successor Chapter

Established GW canon has already made this clear - there are NO Space Wolves Successor Chapters! The only Successor created from their gene-seed were the Wolf Brothers, which ended tragically when they were forcibly disbanded by the Inquisition as a result of the rampant genetic instability and resulting mutation that appeared in the Chapter's Battle-Brothers. This instability may have been the "Wulfen" gene that manifests itself at times in the Space Wolves themselves, most obviously among the Space Marines of the Chapter's 13th Great Company. Not to mention, that in the 32nd Millennium, during the First Battle of the Fang, the Thousand Sons Primarch Magnus the Red destroyed the Space Wolves gene-labs within the Fang, and killed the only Wolf Priest who understood the secrets of the Canis Helix within his Chapter's gene-seed.

After this incident, the Space Wolves would forever remain the sole inheritors of the legacy of Primarch Leman Russ. This is not to say that you couldn't imply that your Chapter might display lupine traits within their gene-seed. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that a Chapter's gene-seed would have been tampered with (the 13th and 21st Foundings), but remember, do not implicitly imply that it was derived from Space Wolves genetic stock. The only exception to this rule would be the creation of a newly Founded Ultima Founding Primaris Space Marine Chapter, as Archmagos Belisarius Cawl, the primary creator of the Primaris, was able to derive gene-seed from every First Founding Legion, which includes the lineage of Russ. As far as can be ascertained, he has successfully overcome most of the genetic flaws found without the various gene-seed, without sacrificing the unique gifts and traits of each genetic bloodline. Therefore, the community has agreed, that there shall only be Primaris Space Wolves Successor Chapters.

Do NOT claim that your Chapter has cured the twin-flaws of Sanguinius

Those Chapters who are descended from the gene-seed of Sanguinius, suffer from the twin genetic flaws known as the Black Rage and the Red Thirst. Although there have been cases where certain Chapters have a lower incidence of these twin flaws compared to the Blood Angels or their fellow Successor Chapters, the cure for these genetic deficiencies are nigh impossible, and even eluded Sanguinius himself when he was still alive. This curse has thwarted all attempts by the Apothecarion of the Scions of Sanguinius for ten millennia, and most likely will continue to remain elusive. Therefore, it is highly advisable not to imply that your Chapter has somehow miraculously found the cure. This is both insulting and highly unlikely.

Do NOT say that your Chapter is one of the Lost Legions

Established GW canon has already stated that the IInd and XIth Legions were already deliberately expunged from all known Imperial records and archives before the onset of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. Therefore, it would be impossible to have such a Chapter exist, ten millennia later, in the modern 41st Millennium.

Do NOT claim your Chapter was created from a lost company

Though there have been recorded incidents within GW established canon where a lost company has decided not to return to their parent Chapter, and has decided to strike out on their own, this doesn't mean that they have become a different entity. At their heart they are still a part of their parent Chapter. For example, a missing company of Ultramarines would still be Ultramarines, therefore, once they managed to make contact with their Chapter home world of Macragge, they would most likely be reabsorbed back into the Chapter.

Do NOT claim your Chapter was created whole from another Chapter

This occurred only once in Imperial history, during the Second Founding, when the First Founding Loyalist Legions were sundered into multiple Chapters, with one retaining the original heraldry, livery and honours of the original Legion. It is impossible for a modern era Chapter to build up large enough to split into two separate Chapters, as legion building is explicitly frowned upon by the leadership of the Imperium.

Do NOT claim your Chapter was secretly created by a Primarch

The Primarchs were the Emperor's genetically modified sons who commanded and led vast Space Marine Legions all across the galaxy. There would be no need for them to create some sort of 'secret' Chapter, as they would instead, add these additional Space Marines to their already existing Legion. As there were 20 existing Space Marine Legions, there would be no need for any such 'secret' Chapter.

Do NOT say that your Chapter is a Grey Knights Successor Chapter

Established GW canon does not permit you to expand upon the Grey Knights. It has already been established that the only likely Successor Chapter Founded from their gene-seed (Without the Grey Knights permission of course!) is the Exorcists Chapter. If you would like to expand upon the Grey Knights, you could write about a special detachment within the Chapter or something equally interesting. It is a rather large Chapter, and there are plenty of Brotherhoods you could choose from to write about, just as long as you don't bend the canon too much. However, it is not okay to create a Homebrew Chapter of Grey Knights origin, so don't do it!

Don't claim your Chapter was created by an unknown twenty-first Primarch

There were twenty Primarchs, no more. Don't try to break three decades of background by creating your own "secret Primarch". Gene-seed plays little role in defining the character of a Chapter, so creating your own Primarch will only lead to your chapter losing credibility. In a similar vain, do not claim your chapter uses the gene-seed of the Emperor, only the Grey Knights can claim that honour.

Do NOT have your Chapter fulfill the role of another Imperial organisation

Space Marines are foremost amongst the defenders of humanity, the greatest of the Emperor of Mankind's warriors. They are barely human at all, but superhuman; having been made superior in all respects to a normal man by a harsh regime of genetic modification, psycho-conditioning and rigorous training. Space Marines are untouched by plague or any natural disease and can suffer wounds that would kill a lesser being several times over, and live to fight again. They are the God-Emperor's Angels of Death, and they know no fear. They are nigh unstoppable bio-engineered killing machines that specialise in surgical strikes. They are too valuable to perform the jobs that lesser men do.

Do NOT say that your Chapter was Founded by someone other than the High Lords of Terra

Only those who rule on behalf of the Emperor, namely the High Lords of Terra, have the ability to commission a new Founding of Adeptus Astartes. Though this was done at least once, when the Adeptus Mechanicus secretly Founded the Steel Confessors Chapter by utilising the gene-seed of the Iron Hands. After their discovery by the Inquisition, the Steel Confessors were forced to become an independent Chapter of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but they still maintain unusually close ties with the Mechanicum of Mars. However, keep in mind that this is also the exception, not the rule!

Do NOT claim your Astartes are female

"They [the recruit] must be male because zygotes are keyed to male hormones and tissue types."
— White Dwarf 247 (UK), "Index Astartes, Rites of Initiation"

Female Marines come up every so often, frequently like buses in batches. Throughout all the background we are given, from codices to Black Library books to artwork, there has never been a mention or an image of female marines. Astartes are always male, even from the time of the Great Crusade when they could turn anyone into a marine. The main background support for this case is the quote above.

Do NOT claim your Chapter is a Gue'vesa Chapter or Xenos-Aligned

There are no such thing as Gue'vesa Space Marines. For the newly initiated, Gue'vesa are those human who have thrown off the shackles of the Imperium of Man and willingly embraced the xenos philosphy of the Tau Empire's so-called "Greater Good" and have become their willing allies/subjects. This also goes for having a Chapter aligned with any other xenos species or empire. Yes, in rare and dire circumstances, temporary alliances have been formed to fight off a greater, more imminent threat. But keep in mind, generally humans DO NOT trust xenos, simply because it has been hammered into them for millennia by the Imperium and the Ecclesiarchy, that 'Thou shall not suffer a xenos to live'. This has bred an inherent distrust of anything NOT human. The only exception to this rule, is when a Chapter is forced to make such an alliance, it shall only be with Craftworld Eldar or the Tau Empire. Not long-term alliances are allowed, as Eldar are notoriously fickle and opportunistic, and will turn on their allies should an opportunity present itself. If a writer wants to include such an alliance in their Chapter lore, it is advisable to only apply it to a single battle or campaign.

Do NOT claim your Astartes are nice!

Space Marines are genetically-engineered, armoured killing machines. They just aren't nice. Some marines are more humane than others, but they aren't cuddly and nice. They still chant Catechisms of Hate as they go into battle, and they will still kill anyone or anything that opposes the will of the Emperor. There is a big difference between aiding stricken refugees when there is no fighting to be done, but to stop in the face of a green horde to pick up a little girl's teddy is a no-no. The Imperium is a harsh place, nice people don't live long.

Do NOT Claim your Chapter are allies with the Legion of the Damned

Your Chapter CANNOT be allies of the mysterious Legion of the Damned, as they are a separate entity whose purpose and deployment are unknown to the wider Imperium, and who deploy in accordance to the Emperor's will. This mysterious band of seemingly wraith-like Space Marines appear unbidden, only when all hope seems lost, striding forth from its hidden netherworld to bring retribution to the Imperium's foes, and then just as mysteriously, disappearing as quickly as they arrived. Therefore, you cannot say your Chapter is an ally of such enigmatic Astartes.

Lazy Plot Devices and Clichés

With literally thousands of custom Chapter that exist online at any given time throughout the realm of the internet, many readers will notice common story lines and clichés that tend to permeate many fan-made Space Marine Chapters. This is usually a veiled attempt to cover up poor writing, and therefore, should be avoided at all costs.

The use of Deus Ex Machina, or the 'Magical Rogue Inquisitor'

This is by far the most egregious of clichés utilised by writers to cover up gaping holes in their Chapter's background. The temptation to have a character appearance of an Inquisitor should be resisted at all costs.

The definition of deus ex machina:

"Any resolution to a story that does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and that is so unlikely that it challenges suspension of disbelief, and presumably allows the author, director, or developer to end the story in the way that he or she desired."

This often occurs in the form of having a 'magical Inquisitor' who happens to make a dramatic entrance at exactly the right moment to save the day. He or she then waves their wand about, and magically makes all of a Chapter's woes disappear. Then said 'magical Inquisitor' disappears as mysteriously as they appeared. This is both disappointing and extremely lazy. This plot device is often used to rationalise a bad idea or as an unimaginative way to explain a potentially interesting Chapter characteristic.

Do NOT say your Chapter was 'Lost to the Warp'

This is an oft-used, lazy plot device that is commonly used by new writers in one of two ways, either to make a Chapter skip a few centuries, to avoid centuries worth of backstory and campaigns to write about, as well as to explain away why one of their Chapter's companies split from their parent Chapter, to eventually become their own separate Chapter. This is both lazy and unimaginative. It has never been done well, so just don't do it!

Do NOT claim your Chapter was central to any of the major campaigns

Games Workshop has ALL the pivotal moments of their campaigns locked down. The Battle of Macragge was the Ultramarines versus the Tyranids; no-one else was present. The more recent campaigns – Armageddon, Eye of Terror – are ideal for fanon writers. They vastly allow fanon chapters to play a supporting role, perhaps turning up to mop up survivors. However, claiming your Chapter was the pivotal force in a well documented campaign is not a good idea.

Do NOT overuse Codex Deviations & GW Precedents

The character of a chapter is defined by how and why it does things differently from other chapters; but do not fall into the trap of loading your chapter with all number of flashy plot hooks and the "flavour of the week" in the belief this will add character. Just because there is a GW chapter that has something, doesn't mean it's a good thing to do for your chapter 'just because'.

Finishing Touches

Now that you have all the pertinent information for your new Chapter, the real fun begins! Writing it out! This is where you start to link the various elements and build an overall picture of your custom Chapter. Some results may at first appear to contradict one another, while others match up unerringly. The fun is in joining up these disparate points, or changing them as you see fit to create a Chapter you can be proud of.

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