"No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear!"
Second Founding (31st Millennium)
Unknown (over 6,000 suspected)
Black, White, Red
- "The galaxy is the Emperor's, and anyone or anything who challenges that claim is an enemy who must be destroyed."
The Black Templars are a Loyalist Second Founding Space Marines Chapter derived from the Imperial Fists' gene-seed and their Primarch, Rogal Dorn. Their origin can be traced back to the Imperial Fists’ defence of Terra during the Horus Heresy. Since that time, the Black Templars have been on the longest Crusade the Imperium of Man has ever known to prove their loyalty to the Emperor of Mankind. They are not a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter and maintain a very different Chapter structure and Chapter culture than is the norm amongst most Astartes Chapters.
The Black Templars are the best-known example of a Crusading Chapter in the whole Imperium; their doctrines, traditions, and organisation reflect their particular approach to prosecuting the Imperium’s wars. The Chapter is divided into a variable number of self-contained and highly mobile forces known as Crusades, each commanded by a Marshal, whose only superior is the High Marshal of the Chapter himself. Under most circumstances, the Chapter is divided into no more than three separate Crusade forces, though during especially calamitous times the number has risen to several times more.
Crusade forces are such large and powerful bodies that they are usually sub-divided into tactical bodies known as Fighting Companies, analogous to a standard Codex Astartes company, and each of these is led by a Castellan. With the successful conclusion of a war for which a Crusade force has been raised, the various Fighting Companies within it are likely to be assigned a new mission, redeployed piecemeal to bolster other Crusades already in the field, or sometimes amalgamated into the High Marshal’s household until such time as a new Crusade force is mustered.
Each Crusade force is raised from available Fighting Companies in order to prosecute a particular foe, purge a specific region of space or attain a definite goal. Many of these wars are planned and undertaken by the Chapter itself, according to the wisdom of its current High Marshal and other highly ranked Chapter officers, but others are undertaken as a result of petitions from other institutions within the Imperium. In the main, the High Marshal of the Black Templars is likely to receive only the highest-ranked petitioners, generally those with a warrant from the Senatorum Imperialis and therefore speaking with the direct authority of the High Lords of Terra and the Emperor Himself. On occasion, however, the High Marshal might agree to hear the petitions of especially highly placed Inquisitors or even well-regarded Rogue Traders, though he is under no obligation to offer such men any aid. Many times in its glorious history, the Chapter has gone to war alongside other august bodies, and a complex web of mutual obligation and honour has evolved.
The Chapter’s propensity for launching such Crusades is not merely a point of history or tradition, but something deeply rooted in its psyche. The Chapter was formed during the Second Founding from those Battle-Brothers of the Imperial Fists Legion most disposed towards aggressive and bold styles of warfare and, furthermore, in whom the events of the Horus Heresy had imprinted an unstoppable drive to continue the Great Crusade and avenge the treacheries committed by the Traitor Legions. Perhaps these Battle-Brothers were the most recently recruited of the old Legion, their raw zeal yet to be tempered by the experience born of duty for which the Imperial Fists were so honoured. Regardless, the drive of those original Black Templars became instilled in the new Chapter from the beginning. The processes by which its gene-stock was cultivated imbued it in future generations on a genetic level. By a combination of raw zeal, genetic enhancement, relentless psycho-conditioning and the continuous reinforcement of the Chapter’s histories and battle honours, each Battle-Brother is an exemplar of the crusading warrior-knight, fired with righteous anger and driven to avenge every wrong ever done to the Imperium of Man by every Traitor, fiend, and alien ever to have existed.
Defence of Terra
At the Battle of Terra during the Horus Heresy, many Champions of Chaos arose from the Traitor Space Marines' ranks. During this time, the Primarch of the Imperial Fists, Rogal Dorn, chose the Imperial Fists' Captain Sigismund to fulfill the role of Emperor's Champion. Captain Sigismund was given the best armour and weapons the Legion possessed, and he swore a holy duty to seek out and destroy the foul Champions of Chaos. He did so by challenging over two dozen of the enemy leaders to single combat and banishing them back into the Immaterium. At the end of the Horus Heresy, each of the Space Marine Legions was broken down into smaller organizations known as Chapters, each composed of one thousand Astartes, as part of a plan to spread the power of the Imperial armed forces so that no one man could bring to bear the influence that the Warmaster Horus had over the Space Marines.
Rogal Dorn, as Primarch of the Legion responsible for the defence of the Emperor's homeworld, Terra, initially refused to have his Legion broken down. Dorn fought with his fellow Primarch Roboute Guilliman over the issue, calling the Ultramarines' Primarch a coward, and Guilliman in turn accused Dorn of heresy and disloyalty to the Emperor. The Primarchs Leman Russ of the Space Wolves and Vulkan of the Salamanders favoured Dorn's stance while Jaghatai Khan of the White Scars and Corax of the Raven Guard supported Guilliman's position on the issue. It was only after an attack on the Imperial Fists' Strike Cruiser Terrible Angel by the Imperial Navy and the threat of a renewed civil war between Dorn's Legion and the newly-formed Successor Chapters of the other First Founding Legions that he decided to relent and allow the Imperial Fists to be divided.
The surviving Imperial Fists were split into four Chapters during the Second Founding. The younger warriors became the Crimson Fists, while Dorn's chosen warriors remained the Imperial Fists, and the orbital assault specialists formed the ranks of the infamous Soul Drinkers Chapter.
The fourth Imperial Fists Second Founding Successor Chapter was the Black Templars. Sigismund, named the Black Templars' first Chapter Master, took with him the most zealous of the Imperial Fist brethren and those that shared his fervor took on the black and white panoply of Sigismund’s armor, and then they embarked on an Imperial Crusade to prove their loyalty to the Emperor. Promoted to the rank of High Marshal (Chapter Master), Sigismund swore an oath “to prove his loyalty, never resting in the prosecution of his duties against the enemies of the Emperor.” It is an oath that every succeeding High Marshal has renewed, resulting in the longest Space Marine crusade in the history of the Imperium. It has smashed through the stars for over 10,000 years and came to the fore during the Wars for Armageddon.
The Black Templar Chapter is the only Space Marine Chapter in existence known to still follow the Emperor's original vision of a Great Crusade to protect and reunite all the scattered worlds of Mankind across the galaxy. Since their Founding, the Black Templars have been on the single longest Crusade in the history of the Imperium. Smaller Crusades are created within this ongoing Great Crusade and some of the more notable Black Templar Crusades include:
- The Howling (401.M34) - The Black Templars Chapter end the Catelexis Heresy by executing the Cacodominus, an alien cyborg whose formidable psychic presence allowed it to control the populance of thirteen hundred planetary systems. Alas, the Cacodominus' death scream echoes and amplifies through the Warp, burning out the minds of a billion Astropaths and distorting the signal of the Astronomican. Millions upon millions of Imperial voidships are lost in the resulting upheaval and entire sub-sectors slide into barbarism without the dictats of the Adeptus Terra to guide them. This tragic event becomes known as The Howling.
- Barbarus Incursion (831.M35) - The Black Templars take part in an unknown campaign known only by its name -- the Barbarus Incursion. Following this campaign all records pertaining to it where sealed and declared Inconcessus (forbidden).
- Wars of Apostasy (Terran Crusade) (378.M36) - The Wars of Apostasy, known to the Black Templars as the Terran Crusade, was a series of battles fought against the forces of the apostate High Lord Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium. During this tumultuous period, the Black Templars had concerned themselves little with the affairs of the Imperium, but when Crusade fleets returned to the Segmentum Solar and discovered that their Chapter keeps had been destroyed by orbital bombardments carried out by the Ecclesiarchy's Frateris Templar, the full extent of Vandire's treachery became apparent. Enraged, in 378.M36 the Black Templars' High Marshal Sigenandus declared a Crusade to be launched against Vandire on Terra. The Black Templars, together with their progenitor Chapter the Imperial Fists, the Soul Drinkers, the zealous Fire Hawks and elements of the Martian Tech-Guard, took the fight to Terra itself and laid siege to Vandire's Ecclesiarchal Palace. The Crusade ended with the death of Vandire at the hands of one of his former bodyguards -- Alicia Dominica, the founder and patron saint of the Adepta Sororitas.
- The Second Purging of Lastrati (543.M36) - The Second Purging of Lastrati occurred in 543.M36, as a part of the Athalor Crusade, under the command of Marshal Gervhart of the Black Templars. Lastrati had become a place of pilgrimage, and for centuries, the faithful had come to bear witness to such spectacles as the Hill of Heretics and the Plain of Purity. Marshal Gervhart and the Black Templars of the Athalor Crusade had come to Lastrati to take heart from the planet's potent displays of faith from the past, but were horrified by what they found. The population had turned to barbaric blood rituals and human sacrifices in search of genetic perfection. The Black Templars realised that the rituals of the people of Lastrati had too much in common with the heretical Chaos Cult worship of the Ruinous Powers. Marshal Gervhart ordered the planet cleansed of its degenerate inhabitants before continuing the Crusade. After four standard years of fighting, the warriors of Marshal Gervhart forced the remaining forces of Lastrati back onto the Plain of Purity. There they made their last stand at the Hill of Heretics, before their army was utterly destroyed by the Black Templars .
- The Angevin Crusade (322.M39) - The Black Templars participated in the Angevin Crusade, which led to the conquest of the Calixis Sector for the Imperium, fighting alongside elements from their fellow Astartes Chapters the Tigers Argent, the Sons of Medusa and the Charnel Guard.
- The Jerulas Crusade (645.M39) - The Jerulas Crusade was an Imperial Crusade launched by the Black Templars and led by their High Marshal Ludoldus. Jerulas was a long-isolated star system, only rediscovered by the Imperium in the late 39th Millennium on the outer fringes of the galaxy. Attempts were made to integrate its worlds into the Imperium, but the system had long been prosperous and independent, and scorned Imperial interference. The first missionaries from the Missionaria Galaxia were slaughtered, but when a second group of Imperial priests came to the system they brought the Black Templars with them. Under the direct command of High Marshal Ludoldus, the Templars fought the forces of the rebel worlds with great success until they came to the well defended hive cities of Jerulas itself. Each attempt to capture the hives was fought back with great losses and it seemed like the Templars would be unable to force their way into the sprawling arcologies. But the answer was found by the Artificer Simagus, who discovered the means to develop the now legendary Land Raider Crusader. Armed to smash through enemy defences and disgorge squads of Astartes right into the thick of the fighting, the Crusader was the perfect weapon for breaching the defences of the Jerulas hives.
- The Donian Crusade (985.M39) - The Donian Crusade was carried out by the Black Templars to combat the swelling Ork population sweeping through the Donian Sector and surrounding wilderness space in the southern sectors of the Segmentum Pacificus.
- Assault on Cephian IV (Unknown Date.M41) - Following its liberation from the warriors of the Alpha Legion in 343.M37, a Chapter keep of the Black Templars was raised on the world of Cephian IV, in the northern chain of the Harake Mountains as a staging post for further Crusades into the Ghoul Stars and beyond. Over four thousand Terran years have passed since the fortress was raised and it has always been occupied by at least one Crusader squad of the Black Templars. The Chapter keep was also used as a recruiting base, for the people of Cephian IV came from a fierce martial culture and provided many Neophytes for the Black Templars. When the warriors of Castellan Ulliquel's Thunder Crusade entered orbit above the Chapter keep, it was to demand fresh Neophytes to join them in crushing a spate of Chaos Cultist uprisings in the Dominion of Storms. The Neophytes deemed ready to join the Crusade by Chaplain Develain, the current Castellan of Cephian IV, were pushed harder than ever before to prove themselves worthy of such an honour in a last trial by fire. But unknown to the Black Templars, their old enemy, the Alpha Legion, planted insidious agents on Cephian IV to foment unrest and outright rebellion amongst the populace. In addition, diabolical pacts sealed with the Dark Eldar helped to distract their ancient enemies from mustering to intervene in their grand designs. After successfully completing their last trial by fire deep in the Harake Mountains, the surviving Neophytes were being escorted back to their transports by Initiates of the Chapter keep. While en route to their Rhinos, a force of Dark Eldar launched an attack on the Black Templars in order to capture the new recruits as slaves and slay the master of the Chapter keep. The Black Templars fought a desperate battle to protect their Neophytes. Chaplain Develaini and his warriors escaped the ambush, but while returning to the Chapter keep aboard a flyer, a missile streaked up from the mountainside and exploded beneath the engine compartment. The pilot had time for only a brief distress call before crashing in the foothills of the Harake Mountains, only a few miles from the Chapter keep. A search and rescue mission was immediately despatched to rescue any survivors and recover the warriors' relics and gene-seed, but even as the Black Templars closed in on the crash site, it was clear that they were not alone, as a shambling host of mutants, Heretics and Traitors attacked the survivors. The enemy had revealed its hand too early with the attack on the downed flyer and the Black Templars readied themselves for a full assault. Soon enough, a vast host of enemy troops, Heretics and mutants advanced on the Chapter keep led by Chaos Space Marines from the Alpha Legion and a dangerous rogue psyker of terrifying power. For days, the Forces of Chaos battled the Black Templars, dying in their thousands as the guns of the Chapter keep scythed their enemies down. Chaplain Develain knew that he had to end the battle quickly, and resolved to lead a strike force into the heart of the enemy to slay their leader. During the ensuing battle the Castellan slew the vile rogue psyker while the Emperor's Champion single-handedly took out a Chaos Defiler. The Black Templars displayed their typical fortitude and tenacity in the defence of their Chapter keep, driving the Forces of Chaos into retreat. The Black Templars showed no mercy to those who outlasted their final counter-attack, slaying any and all survivors.
- The Cleansing of Hive Thetus (Unknown Date.M41) - The Cleansing of Hive Thetus was a military campaign conducted by the Black Templars against a Tyranid Genestealer Cult discovered by the Imperial Inquisition to exist upon the Hive World of Nevaria II. The cult was ultimately successfully purged from existence by the Black Templars.
- The Declates Crusade (Unknown Date.M41) - The Declates Crusade was an Imperial Crusade against the Ork WAAAGH! Gitzmott carried out by the Crimson Fists and Black Templar Space Marine Chapters in the heavily-populated Declates System. The Greenskins had overwhelmed world after world in the system and while the Crimson Fists achieved early success in driving the Orks back, eventually their sheer weight of numbers began to tell, and the Orks pushed towards the vital Forge World of Declates IV and the hive cities of Declates V. Help was needed and the Black Templars answered the call for aid of the people of Declates. As a symbol of solidarity against what seemed to be an innumerable foe, Astartes from both Chapters "exchanged" iconography and often fought in mixed squads. Together the two Chapters managed to find and slay the Warboss Gitzmott. While the two Chapters suffered hideous losses against the overwhelming numbers of the Orks, both earned great renown and their Astartes will forever be known as heroes within the Declates System.
- The Empyrion Crusade (Unknown Date.M41) - The Empyrion Crusade was an Imperial Crusade declared by the Black Templars Space Marines against a force of Khornate Chaos Cults on the world of Empyrion IX. The Chaos force was composed of over 4,000 Traitors of the Renegade 24th Gathalamor Imperial Guard Regiment along with Guryan mutineers and some armoured cavalry. With only a force of just 30 Black Templars and not enough ammunition to hold the Heretics at bay, the Black Templars commander, Castellan Athellenas, attempted to put into motion an audacious plan that required his troops to follow his orders to the letter, no matter how distasteful they might find them. By performing a continuous tactical withdrawal and denying the cultists an outlet to satiate their bloodlust, the Heretics were driven into an uncontrollable blood frenzy. Unable to contain themselves any longer, the Khornate cultists turned on themselves and begin butchering each other in their all-consuming desire to spill blood. With the Cultists' ground forces spent after slaughtering each other, two Black Templars Strike Cruisers arrived in the system to destroy the Heretics' vessel and make sure that this particular Chaos warband of Khorne was unable to sow destruction and bloodshed across the Imperium of Man. The Crusade ended in the total eradication of the Heretics.
- The Geonide Crusade (Unknown Date.M41) - The Geonide Crusade was an action taken by the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter intended to preserve important Imperial technology, scientific research and Adeptus Mechanicus personnel from a Chaos-inspired rebellion on the Forge World Geonide. When rebellion suddenly broke out on the planet it came utterly without warning and within a year 75% of the populace had fallen to the influence of the Warp. A group of scientists with latent psychic abilities had been used as pawns to open giant Warp portals and by the time the Black Templars arrived the planet was crawling with monstrous, debased humans forming a massive Chaos horde to drown the planet in blood. Daemons from the Empyrean tore their way into the material realm to cavort through the masses of Chaos worshippers. In the end, the planet was deemed irrecoverable and an Exterminatus was authorised by the ever-present agents of the Ordo Hereticus. But before the planet’s death knell was sounded, the Black Templars carried out daring strikes across the planet to recover valuable artefacts, research notes, and surviving personnel deemed too important to leave behind, or to be captured by the servants of the Ruinous Powers. The Black Templars achieved a great deal of success during the campaign and managed to save a significant amount of invaluable Imperial research before the planet was cleansed with holy fire from orbit.
- The Purging of Centrati's Eye (Unknown Date.M41) - The Purging of Centrati's Eye was an unexpected Crusade undertaken by elements of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter against a pirate fleet of the Dark Eldar. A great defence station in orbit above the newly colonised Imperial Frontier World of Centrati came under attack from a Dark Eldar lightning raid and was captured, the personnel chained and dragged off into the depths of the Webway to an unknown fate, never to be seen or heard from again. What the Dark Eldar did not know was that a Black Templars Battle Barge was in orbit over the planet, for the Chapter had been asked to aid the colonisation process by removing an unwanted and troublesome xenos species from the planet. When the defence station fired on the planet the threat was realised and the Black Templars rushed back to their Thunderhawks to wreak vengeance on the devious Eldar raiders. To the Black Templars' surprise they found not one, but two enemy forces on the station. For the Eldar had arrived to fight their dark kin for one of their inscrutable reasons. The Black Templars cared not, and immediately began butchering both alien forces. In the following months the scions of Dorn crushed both alien enemies utterly, and cleansed Centrati and the surrounding space of the xenos taint.
- The Punishment Crusade (Unknown Date.M41) - The Punishment Crusade was initiated by Castellan Draco of the Black Templars. It was comprised of numerous raids on the Gue'vesa human populations of former Imperial worlds fallen under the xenos influence of the expansionist Tau Empire.
- Thetus Crusade (Unknown Date.M41) - On the planet of Nevaria II the Black Templars were called on to deal with a small but highly dangerous heretical cult in the primary Nevarian hive city. As dangerous as the cult was, the real influence behind it was only discovered after a costly covert strike by the Astartes of the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. They revealed that a Genestealer Broodlord was behind the growth of the cult. The nefarious influence of the Genestealer hybrids had spread much farther than anticipated. The Black Templars took up the challenge and cleansed the Genestealer taint from the bottom up, fighting brutal and costly battles in the cramped corridors and forgotten corners of the dark depths of the primary hive city, eventually cleansing the hive and Nevaria II of the xenos contamination.
- Nightfire Crusade (Unknown Date.M41) - A powerful devotion to the Emperor is evident among the warriors of the Black Templars. Chaplain Haldredd was leading a strike force against the Tau Farsight Enclaves during the Nightfire Wars when the spirit of the Emperor overcame him. Heeding his sacred words, a group of Space Marine veterans formed a Reclusiam Command Squad to protect him. Following the Chaplain's wise battle council and fervent prayers, this Command Squad, now known as the High Hand of the Emperor, smashed through lines of Battlesuits and set the Tau to flight. In the bloody battles that followed, the High Hand of the Emperor –- as Haldredd and his Reclusiarch Command Squad became known –- guided the Black Templars to many great victories.
- Achilus Crusade (777.M41) - Given the Chapter’s fame as a crusading body, it is perhaps surprising that it was not present at the outset of the Achilus Crusade into the Jericho Reach. The reason is to be found in the internecine rivalry and feudalism that afflicts much of the interactions between the largest of the Imperium’s institutions, and is unknown to all but a small number of the Crusade’s highest ranked staff. When the Achilus Crusade was first conceived, planners petitioned the Black Templars to contribute forces to the undertaking. The envoy appointed to go before the masters of the Black Templars Chapter was a fiery Prelate-Imperialis called Nadab Saul, a man whose inability turned out to be rivalled only by his arrogance. Instead of petitioning the Black Templars for their aid, Saul demanded it. Instead of appealing to their sense of duty, he hectored them. Instead of promising glory, he threatened shame. The only account of the confrontation that followed was that logged in the engram-cortex of one of the party’s servocherub attendants. The Prelate-Imperialis was dragged away by vengeful Battle-Brothers, frothing at the mouth that the Black Templars were Traitors to the Emperor and would pay for their craven deeds. What happened next has never been ascertained and all enquiries established in the aftermath of the event determined that the matter should remain sealed. Needless to say, Nadab Saul was never seen or heard from again. In the years that followed, two other Chapters related to the Black Templars dispatched strike forces to participate in the Crusade—the Imperial Fists and the Crimson Fists. It was through the agency of these, alongside Black Templars Battle-Brothers serving with the Deathwatch, that contact between the Crusade high command and the High Marshal of the Chapter was re-established. Upon his ascension to the rank of Lord Militant, Tetrarchus ordered a delegation to approach the Black Templars a second time, receiving the approval and support of members of the Imperial Fists and Crimson Fists Chapters in doing so. Mindful of the potential for insult, Tetrarchus drafted the wording of the petition himself, appealing to the Black Templars to join their brothers in the new offensives he planned to launch. The contact was successful and, on the eve of the main push on the Acheros Salient, the Fighting Company of Castellan Raimer joined the Acheros Crusade. With the Black Templars forming the spearhead of the renewed assault, they won a string of early victories, but ultimately these proved localised and not typical of the fighting across the whole salient. Raimer’s Fighting Company made rapid progress into the regions surrounding the Blood Trinity, culminating in the boarding of the Space Hulk codified Scion of Desecration. Raimer and his Sword Brethren squads took control of the vast conglomerate vessel and sent it ploughing into an enemy-held orbital station. Final calculations of the destruction estimated it to have consumed half a million servants of the Ruinous Powers and the catastrophic tectonic destabilisation of the world below. Tragically, the Black Templars’ victories were an exception in the first few weeks of the advances on the Acheros Salient and soon Raimer’s force found itself dangerously overextended and under threat of being enveloped by the rapidly counter-attacking enemy. Lord Tetrarchus had no choice but to order a general retrenchment in the face of overwhelming enemy defiance, and his forces began a fighting withdrawal back towards Karlack and the Fortress Worlds of the Iron Collar. Key to the success of this vast rearguard action were the various contingents of Space Marines present, whose valiant deeds saved the withdrawal from turning into a costly rout. The Black Templars were the last to abandon the advance, though eventually they had no choice but to redeploy as night fell across the worlds of the Acheros Salient. It is said that the very last vessel to translate from the Warp on the outer verges of the Karlack System was the Ophidian Gulf, Raimer’s Strike Cruiser, and behind it was nothing but the all-engulfing tides of Chaos. Soon after, Raimer’s Fighting Company was recalled by his Chapter in preparation for the Garon mission, which Raimer was to command and which had the status of a full Crusade. To date, no further Black Templars forces have been committed to the Jericho Reach, the High Marshal of the Chapter believing the Achilus Crusade to have stalled and become a war of attrition in which his warriors have no part to play.
- Vinculus Crusade (833.M41) - The Vinculus Crusade was a Crusade of the Black Templars declared against the Chaotic Death Cult warriors who had plagued the Peleregon Cluster. This was one of the earliest campaigns in which the now-famed High Marshal Helbrecht participated. Still a lowly Neophyte at the time, Helbrecht was merely a witness to the dramatic events of the campaign. Under the command of the legendary High Marshal Ludoldus, the Black Templars fought alongside Inquisitor Vinculus and the Adepta Sororitas' Order of the Bloody Rose. The assassins were traced back to the world of Peleregon IV, a hellish lava world that was all shifting tectonic plates and rivers of magma. The initial landings met little opposition and the Sororitas and Astartes easily fought their foes back to the massive temple that was the seat of the cult’s power. The combined forces fought their way deep into the temple, Ludoldus and his Sword Brethren breaching and holding the walls of the temple so their allies could fight their way inside. As the Imperials breached the pillared inner sanctum of the temple, Inquisitor Vinculus faced the cult’s leader in single combat. Vinculus succeeded in slaying the cult’s leader but suffered a terrible wound himself, a wound that proved to be the Inquisitor's doom, for the slight weakening in his psychic shields was enough for the freed daemon that had possessed the cult leader to leap into the Inquisitor and manifest itself. A Bloodthirster of Khorne tore itself into the material realm through the Inquisitor's body and began slaughtering the Imperial warriors by the dozen. High Marshal Ludoldus, the Emperor's Champion Ulricus and Canoness Jasmine took on the daemon in brutal close combat, but though the champions of the Emperor were courageous and their sword arms fuelled by holy faith, they were no match for the Greater Daemon. In desperation, Ludoldus threw a Holy Orb of Antioch into the boiling lava in the chamber’s central chasm. The explosion initiated a massive earthquake that began to tear the temple apart and the possessed Inquisitor fell to his destruction in the roiling magma. Thunderhawk gunships braved the billowing ash and storms to pick up the survivors. While a number of gunships were lost in the attempt, the majority of the survivors escaped the world and made it back to their ships in orbit. To make sure the job was finished, the Imperial fleet bombarded the site of the temple until the entire site was drowned in a sea of bubbling lava.
- The Verdeworlds Campaign (865.M41) - A Black Templars Crusade joins forces with the Blood Angels and Scythes of the Emperor to cleanse the Verdeworlds of their Eldar settlers.
- The Crusade of Wrath (888.M41) - The Black Templars inflict heavy losses on the Word Bearers, reclaiming several star systems in close proximity to the Maelstrom. Fighting is fiercest on the enslaved Shrine World of Benevolence, where the Forces of Chaos have covered the entire surface with blasphemous temples to the Dark Gods. The Black Templars put every single Traitor to the sword.
- The Fall of Agrella (902.M41) - WAAAGH! Skardrek falls upon the sparsely defended planet of Agrella. Only a courageous rearguard action conducted by a dozen Black Templar Sword Brethren allows Imperial officiaries to escape the onrushing Ork horde.
- The Slaughter on Schrödinger (930.M41) - In 930.M41, the forces of the infamous Necron Lord Imotekh the Stormlord, Phaeron of the powerful Sautekh Dynasty, descended upon the frozen plains of the Imperial Ice World of Schrödinger VII. The Necrons drove the local defenders to the shelter of the labyrinthine cryonite mines, but were unable to prevent the planet's Astropathic Choir from despatching a distress hymnal. A counterattack swiftly arrived in the form of a Black Templars strike force under the command of then-Marshal Helbrecht. Imotekh appeared not to be caught by surprise so easily, and had already shifted his armies into a formidable defensive configuration. Helbrecht lead the assault, intended as a crippling alpha strike, but it was instead blunted by a series of impeccably planned Necron ambushes on the Drop Pod and Thunderhawk drop zones. As the frozen caverns echoed to the roar of explosions, scores of Black Templars and Necrons alike were hurled into rivers of molten cryonite. Eventually, Imotekh and Helbrecht met in hand-to-hand combat atop the stalactite-heavy span of an ice bridge. In the battle that followed, Helbrecht dealt Imotekh a dozen ruinous blows, but each time the Phaeron was able to quickly recover in a matter of seconds to land a strike of his own. Helbrecht finally collapsed under the assault of the Necron Lord, blood flowing from a score of serious wounds. However, instead of finishing his opponent, Imotekh brought his scythe down to sever Helbrecht's right hand to remind the Marshal of his "much-deserved defeat." Helbrecht roared in fury and pain as Imotekh pitched the Black Templar commander off the bridge to the cavern floor far below. The surviving Black Templars rallied to their fallen Marshal's side and made a fighting retreat, leaving Schrödinger VII in the Stormlord's hands.
- Renewed Faith (935.M41) - Following a five year Crusade of Penitence to atone for his defeat, Helbrecht makes a pilgrimage to the Imperial Fists' mobile fortress-monastery, Phalanx, to pray at the Hand of Dorn. There, Helbrecht comes to realise that the loss of his own hand is symbolic of his Primarch's sacrifice and a sign from the Emperor. Helbrecht returns with the fires of faith burning inside him like an inferno.
- The Crusade of Sorrow (955.M41) - Dark Eldar of the Kabal of the Poisoned Heart destroy the Black Templars' Chapter Keep on the jungle-world of Delleront and capture a score of recruits. Marshal Gerhart and Chaplain Grimaldus lead a Crusade of Retribution against the Kabal to punish them for their insolence, and though hundreds of Dark Eldar are slaughtered, not a single recruit is ever found or recovered.
- Conqueror's Fall (985.M41) - Marshal Helbrecht leads the boarding action against the Inevitable Conqueror, the Cairn-class Tombship that serves as the flagship of the Necron Phaeron Imotekh the Stormlord. Helbrecht and Imotekh once more clash, but the Marshal's rekindled faith lends him great strength, and the Stormlord cannot prevail. Realising the battle is lost, Imotekh teleports to safety, but not before congratulating Helbrecht on "one victory apiece." Helbrecht rages at his foe's retreat, but consoles himself by destroying the Stormlord's beloved Tombship to remind Imotekh of his defeat.
- Varadon Crusade (987.M41) - The desperate last stand of the Shadow Wolves Space Marine Chapter on their homeworld of Varadon saw the entire Chapter wiped out by the Tyranids. The Black Templars attempted to aid their brother Astartes but could not fight their way through the chitinous hordes of Tyranid bioforms to the embattled Shadow Wolves. The last Battle-Brother of the Shadow Wolves died, defiantly holding the Chapter Banner aloft even as he was torn to pieces, his blade broken and his Bolter empty. Chaplain Grimaldus was present for the battle at the time though he was still an apprentice to Reclusiarch Mordred. The glorious last stand of the Shadow Wolves would inspire the Chaplain for many years to come.
- The Nimbosa Crusade (993.M41) - When Hive Fleet Kraken began to threaten worlds on the Eastern Fringe of the Imperium, the High Lords of Terra responded by stripping the worlds that bordered the Tau Empire of their Imperial forces. The Tau Empire was quick to recognise this redeployment and soon took advantage of the situation, beginning the period known as the Second Sphere Expansion. Nimbosa was one of the most important and vital Civilised Worlds of this sector. The Nimbosa Crusade was called, a massive Imperial Crusade undertaken by a joint Astartes task force consisting of the Black Templars, Imperial Fists, Raven Guard, and Ultramarines Space Marine Chapters against the encroaching forces of the Tau Empire. The campaign ended with the successful recapture of Nimbosa by the Imperium and the destruction of the entire Tau garrison.
- The Ghoul Stars Crusade (990.M41-998.M41) - The Ghoul Stars Crusade was the very first Crusade launched by Helbrecht after he attained his rank as the Black Templars' new High Marshal. This was a dangerous decision as no Imperial expedition had ever returned from the desolate region of space. The Black Templars were intent on finally vanquishing the alien race known only as the "Cythor Fiends" of the Ghoul Stars. Within eight Terran years, the xenos population of the outlying systems had been exterminated and the Crusade pushed onwards to the aliens' homeworld, but upon reaching the core systems, they were found to be eerily empty. No trace of the aliens could be found, but before a proper investigation could be launched, a desperate call for help came from the besieged Hive World of Armageddon. The Third War for Armageddon had begun.
- The Battle for Golgotha (996.M41) - Marshal Actoan leads a Black Templars Crusade to eradicate the Orks' dominance of the Golgotha System.
- The Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf (998.M41) - A smaller Crusade was launched by Castellan Raimer, the master of the Black Templars' Strike Cruiser Ophidium Gulf and its company of 90 Black Templars, into an unexplored region of space in the galactic south called the Veiled Region by Imperial stellar cartographers. The Black Templars inadvertently made contact with the Fallen Angels, the hunted Traitors of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. While in the Veiled Region, they came upon a small Dark Angels fleet. The Black Templars' capture of one of the Fallen Angels, and their refusal to turn him over to the custody of the Dark Angels, nearly led to open conflict between the two Chapters. Outgunned, Castellan Raimer reluctantly turned the prisoner over to the Dark Angels before he departed the Veiled Region. The ultimate fate of the Ophidium Gulf is unknown, as a single astropathic communication from the starship was received just before it prepared to make a Warp jump from the alien system, and no further communication has been received by the Black Templars from the starship since then.
- The Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - The Third War for Armageddon was a massive conflict between the Imperium of Man and the largest Ork WAAAGH! ever raised since the Ullanor Crusade, led by the Greenskin Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. Black Templars Chaplain Grimaldus was placed in command of the Helsreach Crusade with 100 Battle-Brothers assigned the task of defending one of Armageddon's largest centres of industry which was known as Helsreach Hive. Along with regiments of the Armageddon Steel Legion and other Imperial Guard forces, 19 Titans of the Legio Invigilata, civilian militias and 97 Battle-Sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud, the Black Templars under Grimaldus' command fought the Orks tooth and nail and saved the hive from utter destruction. Ultimately, the Orks second attempt to conquer this strategic Hive World failed, and Ghazghkull Thraka fled the world to bedevil the Imperium elsewhere. High Marshal Helbrecht joined with Commissar Yarrick, the Orks' greatest foe, to swear an oath that he would not rest until Thraka had been hunted down and slain.
- The Barbarossa Crusade (998.M41) - An Imperial Crusade carried out by the Black Templars to cleanse one of their Chapter keeps located on the world of Barbarossa IV that had become the residence of Orks fleeing the fighting on the Hive World of Armageddon following the Third War for Armageddon in 998.M41. But this was only the beginning of the Crusade, for unknown to the Black Templars, the relic at the core of the keep had become tainted by Chaos. The Black Templars Crusade forces under the command of Castellan Hermann fought to cleanse the Chapter keep of both the Greenskins and the Chaotic taint, which had manifested in the form of a daemonic intrusion and the Chaotic corruption of the Black Templars garrison which had held the keep. The Black Templars ultimately proved successful in destroying both the Heretics and the xenos and cleansing the keep of their foul taint.
- 13th Black Crusade (999.M41) - Under the direction of the vile Chaos Lord Abaddon the Despoiler, the largest mobilisation of both Imperial and Chaotic forces seen in the Milky Way Galaxy since the Horus Heresy occurred near the Imperial Hive World of Cadia at the start of the long-awaited 13th Black Crusade. The Black Templars participation in the 13th Black Crusade was short and really was little more than an extended tangent from their pursuit of the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. The Templars' first action was to relieve the beleaguered world of Thracian Primaris. Scattering the Chaos warfleet easily enough, the Black Templars made an uncontested planetfall outside the Departmento Munitorum's logistical support complex in Hive Demeter. The brethren did not stay long, however, though they were welcomed as liberators, choosing instead to continue to drive the Forces of Chaos back to the Eye of Terror. As the brethren moved on from Thracian Primaris they caught word of the “Green Kroosade” building in the Scarus Sector and headed off to stop the Greenskin threat before it fully manifested. Severely understrength from the fighting on Thracian Primaris, the Black Templars moved on anyway, knowing that to let the Orks rebuild their numbers without opposition would doom the Scarus Sector.
- Solemnus Crusade (999.M41) - Under the command of Marshal Brant, the Solemnus Crusade was formed to answer for the razing of the Black Templars' Chapter keep on the world of Solemnus by the Ork Warlord Morkrull Grimskar, a chieftain of the Blood Scar Ork tribe. The Solemnus Crusade belatedly joined the war effort on Armageddon and deployed in search of the elusive Warlord. However, the Crusade met with disaster when Emperor's Champion Ansgar was captured by the severely injured but not yet dead Warlord. Though the Black Templars had nearly succeeded at taking his life, the severely wounded Grimskar was successfully transformed into a Cybork, giving him a new lease on life. Adding insult to injury, many of the cybernetic components used in Grimskar's resurrection were salvaged from stolen Black Templars' wargear. The Black Templars Dreadnought Jarold formed a strike force with the designation "Ansgar's Avengers" specifically tasked with locating the captured Emperor's Champion and recovering the revered Black Sword and Armour of Faith belonging to him. While the strike force did not recover Ansgar on its first attempt, Jarolds's forces did uncover the Crimson Fists Venerable Dreadnought Rhodomanus who had been lost in the ice glaciers of the Dead Lands during the Second War for Armageddon. The strike force destroyed an Ork Stompa freshly recovered from the ice that had been originally constructed during this earlier campaign and prevented it from joining the Ork war effort elsewhere. Not yet finished in their task, "Ansgar's Avengers" and the Solemnus Crusade continued their campaign to hunt down Grimskar across the war-ravaged surface of Armageddon.
- "To the darkness I bring fire. To the ignorant I bring faith. Those who welcome these gifts may live, but I will visit naught but death on those who refuse them."
The Black Templars have no Chapter homeworld, instead opting to live within their Crusade fleets. They are ever-vigilant, and are always ready for battle. They do establish Chapter Keeps on every world they conquer or reclaim for the Imperium, both to provide a source for new recruits and to act as staging posts for Crusade fleets operating across the galaxy. They have been known to abandon these keeps, only to return and reclaim them later, usually exterminating anything foolish or unlucky enough to have taken up residence in their absence.
Each Crusade Fleet is overseen by a Marshal (equivalent to a Captain or Force Commander in a Codex-compliant Chapter), while the High Marshal (currently High Marshal Helbrecht) travels between Crusades on his personal starship, the Battle Barge Eternal Crusader. There are usually at least three Black Templar Crusades operating at any one time, although at one stage there were 14 known to the Imperium (during the "Treachery of Dalmark"), with each Crusade ranging in size from the deployment of a hundred Space Marines and their fleet support to Crusades containing several standard Codex Astartes companies.
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.
The larger Black Templar Crusades contain multiple Fighting Companies, each led by a Sword Brethren of the Chapter who has been raised to the rank of Castellan. The largest Crusades will be personally lead by the High Marshal (as High Marshal Helbrecht did during the Armageddon Crusade called during the Third War for Armageddon). Since the individual squads of each Fighting Company tend to form and disband on an ad-hoc basis, most fight together out of familiarity and comradeship more than any imposed organisation. Rough squads form with 5 to 10 Initiates (fully-fledged Black Templars) with no more than an equal number of Neophytes (Black Templars-in-training). These squads have no Sergeants, because the experienced members are quickly elevated to the rank of Sword Brethren, who take on the role of non-commissioned officers.
Due to their preference for engaging their foes in close combat, few Black Templars are willing to use heavy ranged weapons. As a result, Devastator Squads are unusually rare amongst the Astartes of this Chapter. The Black Templars deviate from Codex-compliant Chapters, including the Imperial Fists, in one primary way. The Chapter's zealous hatred for mutants and inherent distrust of the Warp and anything related to it means that the Chapter possesses no Librarians. The Grey Knights, known for their incorruptibility and closeness to the Emperor, represent the only Imperial psykers that the Black Templars will take as allies. The Black Templar's extreme revulsion to fighting alongside any individuals tainted by the Empyrean would normally prevent them from being allied with anyone with such abilities. The Grey Knights are the exception as the Black Templars consider it an honour to fight alongside Astartes whose membership was originally chosen by the Emperor, who bear a portion of his direct genetic inheritance and have never once been corrupted by Chaos. This attitude can prove to be challenging for those Black Templars who are chosen to serve in the Deathwatch and must learn to fight alongside the Librarians of other Chapters as part of a Kill-team.
The Black Templars' order of battle contains several specialist formations and ranks not present in other Space Marine Chapters, including:
- High Marshal - The High Marshal is the senior ranking Astartes of the Black Templars Chapter, and is equivalent to the Chapter Master of other Codex-compliant Chapters. The fighting skills of a High Marshal are unsurpassed with Bolters, blades or bare hands, as his rank speaks of a bloody past littered with the devastated enemies of the most terrifying and inhuman sort. However, it is not enough for the High Marshal to be the Chapter's foremost warrior, for he must also be a superb tactician and strategist, grounded in the teachings of those who have gone before him and honed through countless decisions made in the heat of battle. He is also steeped in the lore of the Black Templars, privy to all of the Chapter's secrets. A High Marshal is the supreme commander of the Chapter's ongoing Crusades, keeping track of their overall progress and making tactical decisions in regards to the deployment of the Chapter's forces and occasionally blessing individual Crusades with his inspirational presence. The High Marshal is one of the most autonomous military commanders in the Imperium, decreeing by his own designs where his warriors will fight and without recourse to the dictates of the High Lords of Terra.
- Marshal - Marshals are the great warriors who lead the individual Crusades of the Black Templars. These ferocious Space Marines possess superb tactical abilities, second in experience to only the High Marshal himself. The purity and ultimate success of a Crusade is entrusted unto the Marshal and such a duty is a sacred and glorious responsibility. A Marshal is not only a warrior so deadly that he will rarely meet his match on the field of battle, but one whose expertise includes concerns beyond the battlefield, for the leading of a Crusade is a mighty task indeed. As a result, only the most inspirational and determined warriors may rise to become a Marshal, having long proved their courage and determination within the ranks of the Sword Brethren or as a Castellan leading a Fighting Company. The Marshals are able to coordinate the Space Marines under their command and lead them and his Crusade to ultimate victory, whatever the opposition.
- Castellan - A Castellan is a specialist officer rank that is unique to the Black Templars Chapter, and is the equivalent of a Space Marine Captain of a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter. A Castellan is responsible for leading an entire Fighting Company of the Chapter on the field of battle during the numerous ongoing Crusades conducted by the Black Templars. Larger Black Templars Crusades often comprise a number of the Chapter's Fighting Companies, each led by a Sword Brethren (Veteran) raised to the rank of Castellan. Only those Sword Brethren who have proven themselves as devotional warriors and inspirational leaders may rise to this esteemed rank. These hardened Veterans have earned their ascension to command rank through their bloody and zealous dedication to the Chapter's cause. As masters of the battlefield, Castellans are able to read its ebb and flow, and adjust their tactical formations accordingly. Leading from the front by example, a Castellan's Astartes know what it is to be a Black Templar and a dedicated warrior of Sigismund and the Emperor, and from his leadership they learn the trade of battle and the craft of death.
- Sword Brethren - Equivalent to the elite members of a standard Codex-compliant Chapter’s Veteran 1st Company, the greatest warriors of a Black Templars Crusade are inducted into the Marshal’s household. Known as the Sword Brethren, they are no longer required to train Neophytes and they will receive additional training, particularly in the use of Tactical Dreadnought (Terminator) Armour. After completion of this training, Sword Brethren will use Terminator Armour whenever available, usually selecting melee weapons to use with it, an area of combat where all Black Templars excel. Like most Black Templars, Sword Brethren will fight with others out of familiarity rather than in organised squads, and they will always be found in the thickest of the fighting. If the Marshal of a Crusade is either killed or promoted to the position of High Marshal of the Chapter, one of the Sword Brethren will be elevated to take his place. The Sword Brethren of a Crusade who receives this honour is decided by ritual combat. The winner of the melee earns the right to become a Marshal upon the approval of the High Marshal; there has only been one case in Black Templars history of the High Marshal withholding his approval or reversing it (the Gervahr Repeal of the 36th Millennium). Sword Brethren of the Black Templars often wear a cream-coloured cloak and have red trim on their black pauldrons to signify their elite status.
- Emperor's Champion - At the very height of the Siege of the Emperor’s Palace during the Horus Heresy, Captain Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion, was tasked by his Primarch Rogal Dorn with leading the ground battle whilst the Emperor, Dorn, and Sanguinius led the assault on the Traitor Warmaster’s Battle-Barge. Sigismund was named Emperor’s Champion, a title sometimes applied to Dorn, and in that act a new tradition was formed, which is honoured amongst the Black Templars, the direct descendants of Sigismund, to this day. When the Master of Mankind and his gene-sons teleported away to face Horus, Sigismund led the remaining warriors, not as a general, but as an example, taking the battle to the enemy in person and emboldening the hearts of the defenders with his deeds. Sigismund sought out the greatest warriors amongst the teeming hordes of the enemy, facing mighty Chaos Space Marine leaders as well as towering fiends from the great beyond, and defeating every single one of them. Sigismund was chosen as Emperor’s Champion because he was filled with such devotion to the Father of Mankind, and to the Imperium and the Great Crusade that had created it, that he was a shining exemplar of all that the Legions Astartes were and could be. The oath he took when he accepted the mantle of Emperor’s Champion resounded through the ages, and was so weighty that it could never be broken. While Sigismund’s beloved Emperor fell on that day, the Emperor’s Champion prevailed and, with Horus defeated, the vile hosts on the surface were routed. Later, the Imperial Fists split into Chapters and Sigismund’s fiery zeal was recognised. He became the first High Marshal of the Black Templars, and his belief that the Great Crusade would never end became a reality embodied by the new Chapter and its never-ending Crusades. Ever since the Battle of Terra, it has become a cherished tradition amongst the Black Templars to field one who the chaplains have proclaimed the Emperor’s Champion. On the eve of battle, the Black Templars pray, fast, and meditate upon their duty, and it is not uncommon for one amongst their number to be blessed with some form of vision that speaks , to him of his duty and shows him portents of things yet to come. The Battle-Brother then presents himself to the Chaplains and confesses his vision and if he is found true, is declared to be the Emperor’s Champion. The Battle-Brother is ritually prepared for the coming battle, the attendants of the Reclusiam cladding him in the Armour of Faith and presenting him with the Black Sword. In theory, each Black Templars Crusade force has its own Emperor’s Champion who serves as such for the duration of a protracted battle or a campaign, but in practise each Fighting Company is likely to have one, each battle producing its own Champion if one has not come forward already. It is common for Black Templars Battle-Brothers serving with the Deathwatch to pray and fast on the eve of a mission, just as they would before a battle within the ranks of their own Chapter. On some extremely rare occasions, such a Battle Brother may feel the blessings of righteous certainty upon him, and know that he must take up the mantle of the Emperor’s Champion. Within his Chapter, the Battle-Brother would seek out the Chaplains and be declared the Emperor’s Champion by them, but this may not be possible whilst he is serving the Long Watch. Unless a Chaplain of the Black Templars is present and able to take the brother’s confession, he must assume the mantle alone, donning the most sacred relics of his Chapter and declaring his mission to his fellows. He will seek permission from the Master of the Armoury to bear into battle the most potent of weapons and the most revered of armour. Few would dare refuse, for the Battle-Brother’s eyes burn with the zeal of his duty and the weight of his oaths is an almost palpable thing. Regardless of the nature of the coming mission, the Emperor’s Champion will seek out the greatest champions and leaders amongst the ranks of the enemy and strike them down in the fury of single combat. In so doing, he acts as a shining beacon of faith by which the enemy are cast back and the warriors of the Emperor driven to ever-greater acts of valour. Having taken up the trappings of the Emperor’s Champion, the Battle-Brother remains as such only until his vision is fulfilled and he returns to the Watch Fortress. Only by the word of the Chaplains is his duty discharged, and he resumes his place in the ranks once more.
- Initiate - Unlike in other Chapters, an Initiate is not an Astartes who is new to the Chapter, but is the rank held by the majority of Black Templars Battle-Brothers until they have served long enough to be promoted to the Veteran status of a member of the Sword Brethren. Initiates serve in most of the standard tactical roles seen within Space Marine Chapters and are also each responsible for adopting and training a Neophyte until he has earned Initiate status.
- Neophyte - A Neophyte of the Black Templars differs from the Neophytes of other Chapters in that they have successfully completed the process of transformation into an Astartes. This would normally grant them Initiate status in Codex-compliant Chapters, but in the Black Templars this only means that they are ready to truly begin their training. Every Neophyte, after he has been deemed worthy by the Chapter's Chaplains and Apothecaries, is assigned to an apprenticeship with a full Initiate of the Chapter, essentially serving in some regards as his squire. When the Neophyte's Initiate feels that his student has gained the experience and wisdom necessary to make him an asset to the Chapter, he is raised to become an Initiate himself. The new Initiate is then required to begin the personal training of a Neophyte, and so the process repeats itself.
Emperor's Champion Vows
On the eve of battle, the Emperor's Champion leads the Black Templars in renewing one of the four Vows of the Chapter, each one instilling these Astartes with righteous fury that is expressed on the battlefield in different ways. These Vows include:
- Suffer Not the Unclean to Live - The Black Templars swear to release their unclean foes—Heretics, mutants, xenos and Traitors—from the suffering of their lives, striking them down with great fury.
- Uphold the Honour of the Emperor - The Black Templars uphold the Emperor's honour, and face their enemies' attacks head-on rather then cower behind cover. Such is their indomitable faith that they can withstand attacks that would fell other Astartes.
- Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch - The Black Templars' hatred of the mutant and the Warp drives them into a rage in battle. Should their enemies' ranks include a psyker, they will rush to vanquish him with renewed effort. Their hatred enhances their will, making them highly resistant to psychic abilities.
- Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds - The Black Templars swear to answer any challenge, and should an opportunity present itself they will always charge to meet their enemies in close combat.
- Sons of Grimaldus - Chaplain Grimaldus entered legend during the Battle of Helsreach Hive in the midst of the Third War for Armageddon in 998.M41. For more than 60 solar days, he commanded the defenders of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant against a massive horde of Orks. Eventually, with the defenders cut off and outnumbered hundreds to one, the temple fell. Miraculously, Grimaldus and a handful of the Black Templars with him survived. These few swore to avenge the brave warriors, mortal and Astartes alike, who had fought and died beside them. Other Black Templars flocked to their banner, and from that day the special formation of the Chapter known as the Sons of Grimaldus have harried the Orks from one end of Armageddon to the other, and now pursue them even as they flee into the depths of space. They will not rest until Ghazghkull Thraka and every Ork under his command has been slain. The Sons of Grimaldus is currently commanded by Grimaldus and composed of 1 Command Squad, 1 squad of Sword Brethren Terminators, another squad of Sword Brethren outfitted as Assault Terminators, 2 squads of Sword Brethren encased in standard Power Armour, and 5 full squads of Black Templars Astartes.
NeophytesSince the Black Templars have no Chapter homeworld, all of their recruiting is done via their Chapter Keeps. Chapter Keeps are built on most worlds conquered by the Black Templars, and are used as staging ground for Crusade forces and recruitment posts for the Chapter. A Chapter Keep only recruits a few individuals a year. Only the most skilled Aspirants are allowed to join, and if they pass the initial tests, they are implanted with the gene-seed organs that will eventually transform them into full Space Marines and Neophytes of the Chapter. When roughly two dozen Neophytes are available at a Chapter Keep and have been approved by the Chapter's Apothecaries and Chaplains, they are despatched to a Crusade fleet for the next stage of their induction. Upon reaching a Crusade fleet, the Neophytes are put through many gruelling tasks and trials by the Initiates of the Black Templars. These trials test the Neophytes to their limits, separating out the weaker recruits from the stronger. Should a Neophyte survive these trials, he will be apprenticed to an Initiate of the Chapter who will act as his master, passing on vital skills and training him in the traditions of the Black Templars. The Crusade's Chaplains oversee this training and make sure the Neophyte learns the history of the Chapter, and watch for any signs of weakness in the Neophyte's faith. The Neophyte will accompany his Initiate into combat, and should his master fall, another Brother will take up his training. The bond between the Initiate and his Neophyte pupil is strong, and if the Neophyte meets his end, the Initiate will swear a death oath to avenge his apprentice, or die trying.
The Black Templars' zealous hatred of mutants and the Warp prevents them from recruiting any man who bears genetic impurities, including the mutation that allows an individual to wield psychic abilities. This is why the Black Templars' order of battle contains no Librarians.
InitiatesOnce accepted into a Chapter's Fighting Company, an Initiate fights alongside his other Black Templar Battle-Brothers, forging a name for himself within the Chapter and perfecting his fighting abilities. If the Initiate lives long enough, he will eventually apprentice a Neophyte of his own. In this way, the skills, tradition and experience of the Chapter is preserved and passed down, Master to Neophyte. Initiates form the majority of the Chapter's Fighting Companies and are split up into Crusade squads of up to twenty Initiates. Each squad is a deadly force with a range of skills and abilities. Initiates are armed primarily with Bolters, though, given the Black Templars' preference for fighting face-to-face, many choose to carry weapons more suited to close combat like Chainswords. Some squad members may carry more specialised weaponry, such as Plasma Guns, Flamers or mighty Power Fists. Black Templars squads are highly flexible and have the tactical adaptability to deal with virtually any foe, instructing their Neophytes by bloody example.
A Crusader Squad is the standard tactical organisation employed by the Black Templars Chapter. The Black Templars are organised in a different manner to many Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters and do not follow the dictates of the Codex Astartes in many ways, notably in the recruitment, training and deployment of their warriors. The majority of Black Templars Battle-Brothers -- known within the Chapter as Initiates -- are organised into Crusader Squads, which form the backbone of any strike force unleashed by the Chapter. Many Crusader Squads have the honour of being led to battle by one of the Chapter's Sword Brethren -- Veterans whose deeds and example inspire the Initiates to ever greater acts of courage. Crusader Squads are armed primarily with the holy Bolter, though given the Black Templars' preference for fighting their foes face-to-face, many choose to carry Chainswords and other weapons more suited to the cut and thrust of close combat, epitomising the Black Templars' righteous zeal and their drive to defeat their foes in battle.
Before a Black Templars recruit marches to war as an Initiate, he must first prove his mettle as a Neophyte. Unlike other Space Marine Chapters, the Black Templars have no dedicated Scout Company in which its Aspirants are trained. Instead, the Black Templars' recruits train within a Chapter Keep and, once they are deemed ready by the Keep's Castellan, are transported to one of the Black Templars' fleets. Here, the Neophytes are put through even more gruelling trials as the Chapter's Initiates test their strength, martial skills and faith to the limits. Should a survivor of these trials impress one of the assembled Battle-Brothers, an Initiate may take it upon himself to personally mentor the Neophyte in the art of war. From that point on, the Initiate takes sole responsibility for his pupil's training and conduct. He swears an oath to prepare the Neophyte for his entry into the brotherhood that is the Chapter, teach him of its history, and guide him through its holy rites of worship to the Emperor. In return, the Neophyte pledges obedience to his master and vows never to bring dishonour to his name. Neophytes also act as servants to their mentors, waiting on them at the great banquets and seeing to their day-to-day requirements.
On the battlefield, an Initiate often stands beside his young pupil, teaching him through bloody example the way of Bolter and blade. In this way, the Neophyte learns first hand the methods of waging war and of destroying the Emperor’s enemies. After fighting as part of a Crusader Squad on several battlefields, it is common for groups of Black Templars Neophytes to be tasked together into independent squads, akin to a Codex Chapter's Scout Squads. These units are tasked with infiltrating enemy positions or fulfilling some other critical mission. For a Neophyte to be trusted so speaks volumes of his Initiate’s faith in his abilities, and the Neophyte fights all the harder, lest they show such trust to be misplaced.
It is the Initiate's prerogative to say when his apprentice's training is complete. Once he has proven his valour and skill, a Black Templars Neophyte submits to the Chapter’s Chaplains to undergo the final trials of purity before, in a ceremony of great reverence, he is elevated into the ranks of a full Battle-Brother of Initiate status and honoured with a suit of Power Armour. He is now truly a Black Templar, possessed of great power, and sworn to use it in the Emperor's service unto death.
Deathwatch ServiceWhile the Black Templars as a Chapter have left the Jericho Reach for the present at least, their Battle-Brothers still serve in the ranks of the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. Several of the greatest heroes to have served their Vigil from Watch Fortress Erioch were drawn from the Chapter, though their names and deeds may only be read in the annals of the Deathwatch, and these are sealed from access by all but the most privileged. Black Templars are known to make worthy members of a Kill-team, though their zealousness can occasionally put them at odds with other members. Black Templars never back down from a challenge and they are reluctant to re-deploy from battle in the face of overwhelming odds. A mission that requires stealth and observation may find itself compromised should a Black Templars Battle-Brother take it upon himself to engage a foe he should be watching from afar. For this reason, it is only the most self-disciplined and open-minded of Black Templars who are seconded to the Deathwatch; the strain on their minds to tolerate the myriad different expressions of a thousand divergent Chapter cults embodied by the new Battle-Brothers of the Long Watch will be enormous, and to be forced to live and fight alongside psykers, either the other Chapter's detached Librarians or the Ordo Xenos' psychically-gifted Inquisitors, will test the seconded Black Templar's faith and tolerance to its very limits. But a Black Templar does not have to suppress his essential nature to operate in the Deathwatch. Instead, on the field of battle, it is his greatest weapon, for his righteousness and zeal allow him to face and to overcome the most terrifying enemies facing the Imperium.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Black Templars have continued in the style of their first High Marshal, preferring close, melee combat to ranged warfare. This is further emphasised by the fanaticism of the Black Templars' Initiates, whose righteous anger makes them impulsive and headstrong.
When making war, a Black Templars Crusade will focus on two main tactics. The first is orbital assault; the Crusade will use Drop Pods and Thunderhawk gunships to perform a mass-landing in the wake of a heavy orbital bombardment. If enemy resistance is still strong after this initial assault, the Templars will land their heavy armour and launch an armoured spearhead against the weakest link in the enemy's defensive line.
As part of their dedication to the Emperor and their Crusade, the Black Templars swear fell oaths of faith and protection. Before a battle, it is considered customary to renew one of these oaths, the individual vow serving as a focus on the particular aspect of the Battle-Brother's duties considered to be necessary to ensure success for the overall Crusade.
Due to the fact that the Black Templars have such a hate and distrust for the Warp and anything within it or derived from it, Black Templars will not allow Librarians or any beings with psychic powers to fight amongst their ranks or in an alliance with them, except for the Grey Knights. Every Black Templar has a deep prejudice against any type of psyker, which can lead to trouble between the Chapter and those Imperial Adepta that often use Sanctioned Psykers, such as the Inquisition or even certain regiments of the Imperial Guard.
Land Raider Crusader
The Land Raider Crusader variant of the standard Land Raider was developed by the Black Templars during the Jerulas Crusade, to aid them in the numerous hive city sieges required to reclaim that Hive World for the Emperor. As word of the design's successes spread, many other Chapters pressured the Tech-priests of Mars into releasing construction schematics of the Crusader. Eventually the design was officially recognised by the Adeptus Mechanicus in 763.M39, but this was seen as a mere formality; over three-quarters of the Chapters had already put Crusader Pattern Land Raiders into effective use.
The Land Raider Crusader is a line-breaking main battle tank, built and armed to plough into the enemy formation and disgorge its larger-than-normal cargo of Astartes directly into close combat. The Crusader is armed with side sponson-mounted Hurricane Bolters as well as a hull-mounted Assault Cannon and a Multi-melta. By replacing the side sponson Lascannon of the original Land Raider design with the Bolters, the Land Raider Crusader has given up some of its anti-armour capability in exchange for a significant increase in its troop-carrying capacity. It also has Frag Assault Launchers to help pin the enemy unit being attacked.
- "The Emperor extends His will to us when we destroy the wicked and impure to reconquer the galaxy in His name. The Emperor leads the galaxy to righteousness, and thus we must petition for His Judgement on the wicked...for it is judgement without mercy."
- — High Marshal Helbrecht, addressing his warriors, prior to the Cleansing of Gemenon Majoris
All Space Marines are renowned for their fervent dedication, but the extent of the Black Templars’ faith is often described as fanatical. They seek nothing less than to crush every last enemy of Mankind. The Chapter’s dogma reserves a special hatred for particular enemies, specifically the mutant, the Heretic, and the witch. The reason for this is to be found in the Chapter’s Founding, springing from the contempt in which Sigismund held those Astartes who had cast off their oaths and turned against the Imperium during the Horus Heresy. In assuming the mantle of the Emperor's Champion, Sigismund delivered the ultimate judgement on those who had betrayed the Master of Mankind, executing them by his own hand. It is the zeal to prosecute such crimes that drives the Black Templars in their Crusades across the galaxy and beyond the borders of the Imperium, lending them the strength to face any foe. When a Black Templars Battle-Brother strikes down a champion of the enemy, he is enacting the judgement of Sigismund and through him the Emperor Himself, and continuing a tradition established at the height of the Imperium’s most terrible crisis.
For ten thousand standard years the Black Templars have crusaded to prove their loyalty, and this creed has become so embedded in their doctrines that they are utterly ruthless towards anyone or anything perceived as a threat to the Emperor. Unlike most other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, the Black Templars have come to revere the Emperor as the God of Mankind, just as the mortals of the Imperium do, and this belief has driven them to new heights of fanaticism. The Black Templars have been known to mercilessly wipe out entire planetary populations to expunge the sin of heresy, while the mere presence of a witch on the battlefield drives them into a zealous fury against which few enemies have any hope of standing. The Black Templars’ professed loathing of the witch even extends to those psykers in the employ of the Imperium. Although the Chapter must utilise Astropaths, Navigators, and others with such Warp-spawned talents, the Black Templars are loath to do so, and eschew the use of Librarians in their ranks.
When not engaged in battle, the brethren of the Black Templars are invariably to be found preparing for it. They pass their time in prayer and meditation, or engaged in exacting training rituals. Those Initiates entrusted with the training of a Neophyte spend long hours passing on their knowledge to their young apprentice and supervising endless drills, practice sessions, and trials. The brethren frequently impose upon themselves many hardships, foregoing all but the bare necessities in order to purify themselves in the eyes of the Emperor and their Primarch, and to emulate the example of their founder Sigismund.
When serving alongside the Battle-Brothers of other Space Marine Chapters, many Black Templars prepare themselves through long fasts and week-long vigils in order to tolerate the presence of Space Marine Librarians. For those who serve a Long Vigil in the Deathwatch, fighting alongside a brother Space Marine who wields psychic power is a particular hardship, a trial they must undergo in order to serve the Emperor more fully and to strike down the hated alien. For this reason, great care is undertaken when selecting a Black Templar for secondment to the Deathwatch, for only a brother able to contain his deep-seated intolerance against psykers will be able to fight to his full capacity. Despite this, even these individuals are likely to pass every hour not spent fighting in deep contemplation and prayer, often cloistering themselves away from their fellow Deathwatch Brothers in a personal shrine to the Emperor, Rogal Dorn, and Sigismund.
In temperament, the Battle-Brothers of the Black Templars Chapter are united by the fiery zeal that burns within the heart of each, a fire first sparked by Battle Captain Sigismund himself and stoked each day by the oratory of the Chaplains and by the exemplary texts that each brother reads every hour he is not on active duty. While each Black Templar is inspired by the same crusading drive to utterly crush the enemies of the Emperor, there nonetheless exists a degree of variation within the ranks. Those brethren only recently initiated into the Chapter as full Battle-Brothers might be driven to prove themselves in the eyes of their more experienced peers. Only when they have done so will they be granted the right and the responsibility to train a Neophyte themselves, for the Black Templars do not maintain a 10th Company of Scout Marines. Throughout his service as an Initiate, the Battle-Brother gains experience and wisdom, until he may, if he survives long enough and is judged worthy, enter the ranks of the Marshal’s Household as a Sword Brother. These warriors have learned to temper the fires of hatred with the wisdom of their years, and they are an example to the entire Chapter.
Abhor the Witch
Outsiders mistakenly interpret the lack of Librarians within the ranks of the Black Templars Chapter, and the fury with which its Battle-Brothers slay Chaos Sorcerers, as an intolerance for all psykers. This could hardly be further from the truth, for the Black Templars hold special reverence for Astropaths, seeing them as holy disciples who have actually communed with the God-Emperor. Navigators are similarly honoured, for their psychic blessing allows them to see the divine light of the Astronomican and guide the Black Templars through the Warp to deliver righteous retribution against the Emperor's enemies. Instead, the Black Templars' abhorrence is reserved for deviant alien witches and rogue psykers who embrace the blasphemous Dark Gods in their quest for power. These individuals threaten to drag entire worlds from the Emperor's light and into damnation, for they are conduits through which unholy daemons can cross into the mortal realm. So it is that the Black Templars strengthen their souls with the purity of their faith when facing rogue psykers, as they strive to end with a single sword-stroke the potential of a daemonic assault that could otherwise plunge the Emperor’s realm into decades of bloodshed and madness.
The Hall of Records
Aboard the Eternal Crusader, the Battle Barge that serves as High Marshal Helbrecht's flagship and the mobile fortress-monastery of the Chapter, lies the Hall of Records, a vast archive where a legion of scribes and Servitors toil to record the history and deeds of the Black Templars' far-flung forces. Such duties of record-keeping would normally fall to a Chapter's Librarians, but the Black Templars Chapter boasts not a single psychic Space Marine amongst its ranks. It is uncertain how, or when, the Black Templars ceased to field Librarians, for with their disappearance, much of the Chapter's history was also lost. Outsiders suggest that, as the Chapter came to worship the Emperor as a God unlike most of their fellow members of the Adeptus Astartes, they took his decree at the Edict of Nikaea to disband their Librarius divisions as holy law. Others whisper that the Black Templars' gene-seed has somehow deteriorated, or that their Librarians were slain during a great war in the Chapter’s history. Some scholars point to the Black Templars’ final battle to end the Catelexis Heresy in the 34th Millennium, and the apocalyptic psychic death-screams that tore through the Warp after the slaying of the Cacodominus, as another possible explanation. Whatever the truth, the Black Templars have come to accept the loss of their Librarians as part of the Emperor's divine plan. If the Emperor decides to once again bless the Black Templars with Librarians, they will embrace it, but until that day, they will wage battle without these powerful warriors at their side.
- Devotion Chain - Most Black Templars use Devotion Chains to bind their weapons to their fists on the eve of battle, removing them only once victory is achieved. This tradition harkens back to the bygone era of the Great Crusade, its true origins lost to the ages. The tradition of using chains to bind weapons to one's arms was originally started by the World Eaters when they were still the Loyalist XII Legion, a tradition which eventually spread to the other Space Marine Legions after its popularity had extended beyond the World Eaters' fighting pits. Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists, took to the custom with his usual zeal, binding his knightly weapons to his wrists on dense black chains. He had made an impressive name for himself within the bowels of Primarch Angron's flagship, Conqueror, duelling with the XII Legion's finest warriors late in the Great Crusade.
- Chain of Zeal - Unlike the Devotion Chain, the Chain of Zeal is no such fleeting token. It is secured to weapon and armour with a permanent weld that lasts as long as the Space Marine serves. Furthermore, because taking off a gauntlet with the chain still attached is a shameful act that entails great dishonour, the wearer of the Chain of Zeal must keep his armoured glove donned and weapon in hand every minute for the rest of his days.
Notable Black Templars
- High Marshal Sigismund - Sigismund was the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, and was chosen by his Primarch Rogal Dorn as the first High Marshal (Chapter Master) of the newly created Black Templars Chapter during the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium. The Chapter took upon themselves the black and white panoply of Sigismund's personal heraldry. Chosen as the Emperor's Champion for his fervent faith in the Emperor and his undying devotion to Mankind, those zealous warriors of the Imperial Fists who became Black Templars sought to emulate their former First Captain's heroic example. Seeing the strife that beset the Legiones Astartes during the days of the Second Founding, he determined that a gesture of supreme faith was needed. As High Marshal of the Black Templars, Sigismund swore a mighty oath that upon leaving Terra, he would prove his loyalty, never resting in the prosecution of his duties against the enemies of the Emperor. It is an oath that every subsequent High Marshal has renewed, and so the greatest and longest Space Marine Crusade in Imperial history was begun, a Crusade that has continued unbroken for ten thousand Terran years.
- High Marshal Helbrecht - Helbrecht is the current High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter. Helbrecht wields the Sword of the High Marshals, which was forged from the remnants of the sword of Rogal Dorn. According to legend, Dorn broke the sword across his knee after the Horus Heresy for failing to defend the Emperor. In addition to being High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter, Helbrecht is the greatest naval commander in the Adeptus Astartes, and assumed command of all Space Marine warships during the Third War for Armageddon. Together with Admiral Parol of the Imperial Navy, Helbrecht held and eventually repulsed the numerically superior Ork fleet. Helbrecht was last seen departing Armageddon with Commissar Yarrick, hunting down the space hulk thought to be commanded by the Beast of Armageddon, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. Helbrecht is equipped with Artificer Armour, the Sword of the High Marshals (a special master-crafted Power Sword, once belonging to the Imperial Fists Primarch Rogal Dorn), a Combi-meltagun (Bolter with underslung Meltagun), and an Iron Halo. He uses these weapons to aid his command and further his Crusades against the Orks.
- High Marshal Kordhel - Helbrecht's predecessor, Kordhel was slain by a frenzied Chaos Champion of the Ruinous Powers in late 990.M41.
- High Marshal Ludoldus - Kordhel's predecessor, Ludoldus was a legendary High Marshal of the Black Templars, his career second-to-none, and his accomplishments were the stuff of Chapter legends. When Helbrecht was but a lowly Neophyte, he served under the venerable High Marshal during the Vinculus Crusade in 833.M41, playing witness to the dramatic events of the campaign.
- High Marshal Sigenandus - Sigenandus was the High Marshal of the Black Templars during the tumultuous era known as the Wars of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium. A fiercely vengeful warrior, High Marshal Sigenandus was amongst the most fearsome warriors ever to command the Black Templars. Upon declaration of a Crusade, whichever foe was to be fought was doomed from that moment onwards as there would be no mercy shown until every last remnant of the enemy was destroyed. Great was Sigenandus's rage after discovering the destruction of his Chapter's keeps in the Segmentum Solar by the traitorous High Lord Goge Vandire's fleets and, in retribution, in 378.M36, he gathered four Crusade fleets and set off towards Terra, and vengeance. The Black Templars, together with the Imperial Fists and two other Chapters, the Soul Drinkers and the zealous Fire Hawks, and elements of the Martian Skitarii, took the fight to Terra itself and laid siege to Vandire's Ecclesiarchal Palace. The Terran Crusade fell upon Vandire's forces like a thunderbolt, smashing into the deluded followers of the insane High Lord with terrifying fury. The siege of Vandire's palace lasted many months and, together with Chapter Master Lazerian of the Imperial Fists, Sigenandus fought his way towards Vandire's chambers. The two warriors fought side by side with their Thunder Hammers, crushing all before them. At battle's end, with Vandire dead at the hands of his own bodyguard, the Brides of the Emperor, High Marshal Sigenandus still burned with fury at the destruction of his Chapter's keeps and the scale of the High Lord's betrayal. Determined that none should escape his vengeance, High Marshal Sigenandus set off from Terra to hunt down all those who had broken faith with the Emperor. Worlds burned as his quest took him throughout the galaxy until his eventual death in 522.M36.
- Marshal Emrik - Marshal Emrik was the founder of the Solemnus Chapter Keep and commanded the Crusade that cleansed that world of a Genestealer taint. Emrik himself slew the Genestealer Patriarch and ended the xenos threat. His chapel-tomb resided within the Hall of Heroes of the Solemnus Keep.
- Marshal Brant - Brant was the commander of the Solemnus Crusade that participated in the Third War for Armageddon. Marshal Brant was just returning from the Liberation of Lugnasad in the Apollo Sub-sector when the Orks of the Blood Scar Tribe attacked and sacked the Solemnus Chapter Keep out of which the Crusade had been based. For 12 years, Brant led the Solemnus Crusade in a quest for vengeance until they finally discovered the Blood Scar Tribe fighting alongside WAAAGH! Ghazghkull on the Hive World of Armageddon. The Solemnus Crusade immediately joined the battle against the Greenskin invaders and deployed several Fighting Companies to the wastes of Armageddon.
- Marshal Ulliquel - Commander of the Thunder Crusade who fought against the Dark Eldar and Alpha Legion during his recruitment mission to the Chapter Keep on Cephia IV.
- Marshal Wernher - Wernher joined the Donian Crusade in 985.M39, to combat the swelling Ork population sweeping through the Donian Sector and surrounding wilderness space in the southern Segmentum Pacificus. The original Crusade Marshal, Brother Austein, was tragically killed in battle on the planet Nickel V, and was succeeded by Marshal Wernher in 988.M39. The Donian Crusade lasted for roughly 17 standard years before the High Marshal declared it successful in c.002.M40. Wernher went on to later become the Marshal of the Thangdorn Crusade.
- Marshal Gervhart - Gervhart led the Second Purging of Lastrati in 543.M36, as a part of the Athalor Crusade. The Hive World of Lastrati, located in the Ultima Segmentum, had become a place of pilgrimage, and for centuries, the faithful had come to bear witness to such spectacles as the Hill of Heretics and the Plain of Purity. Marshal Gervhart and the Black Templars of the Athalor Crusade had come to Lastrati to take heart from the planet's potent displays of faith from the past, but were horrified by what they found. The Quintarchs of Lastrati had turned to barbaric blood rituals and human sacrifices in search of genetic perfection. At first the Space Marines were welcomed as examples of genetic supremacy, but the more the Black Templars saw, the more they realised that the rituals of the people of Lastrati had too much in common with the heretical cult worship of the Ruinous Powers. Marshal Gervhart ordered the planet cleansed of its degenerate inhabitants before continuing the Crusade. After four standard years of fighting, the warriors of Marshal Gervhart forced the remaining forces of Lastrati back into the Plain of Purity where they made their last stand before the Black Templars at the Hill of Heretics. The army was destroyed, the Black Templars showing no mercy and accepting no surrender. Those deemed free from taint were allowed to live—an act of mercy that was to have a terrible repercussion for Marshal Gervhart in later years. The infamous Gervhart Repeal of the 36th Millennium was the only time a High Marshal has repealed the promotion of a Marshal to that rank.
- Castellan Adlar - Castellan Adlar commanded Fighting Company Adlar of the Solemnus Crusade during the Third War for Armageddon. Fighting Company Adlar deployed to the surface of Armageddon to stall the Ork invaders and search for the Red Scar Ork Tribe that had destroyed the Solemnus Chapter Keep. Castellan Adlar fell during the assault on the Blood Scar Tribe's Gargant Factory, pinned by a crashed Ork Trukk, Brother Adlar used his Thunder Hammer to detonate the munitions stockpile of the Kannon emplacement where he was trapped and dying, taking every Ork in the vicinity with him.
- Castellan Draco - Draco first rose to prominence as part of Marshal Ludoldus's Sword Brethren during the bitter Vinculus Crusade in which he fought the Renegade Inquisitor Lord Vinculus. He was badly wounded after the battle and his body was reconstructed with bionics. He was awarded the rank of Castellan and was given a relic suit of the Chapter's finest Power Armor for his valour. Draco's exploits were further recognised when he was presented with the former Inquisitor's blade as a mark of gratitude from the Ordo Hereticus.
- Chaplain Grimaldus, the Hero of Helsreach - Chaplain Grimaldus is a noted veteran of theThird Armageddon War. During the Battle for Hive Helsreach, Grimaldus led the defence of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant, which had stood since Armageddon's colonisation. The battle became so heated that the building itself collapsed around them. It was believed that all had perished in the building until Grimaldus, bloody but unbroken, climbed out of the rubble bearing three of the temple's artifacts—a column from its Major Altar, the Banner of the Emperor Victorious, and holy water from the Stoup of Elucidation. Apothecaries who examined him later were amazed that Grimaldus had survived, much less found the strength to climb from the ruins. When the war ended, the citizens of Hive Helsreach honored him with the title of "Hero of Helsreach".
- Chaplain Mordred - Mordred was the Reclusiarch of the Black Templars and the mentor of Grimaldus. Mordred fell in battle shortly before the onset of the Armageddon Crusade, his dying wish was to see Grimaldus as his successor as the Chapter's Reclusiarch. The "Hero of Helsreach" wields the relic Crozius Arcanum of Mordred and wears his silver skull-faced battle helm to this day.
- Deathwatch Chaplain Broec - Broec was a member of Imperial Fists' Captain Octavius’ Deathwatch Kill-team during the mission on Herodian IV against the vile Tyranid menace. Broec died heroically, fighting alongside Librarian Shaidan of the Mantis Warriors while facing a Hive Tyrant, giving his comrades time to escape.
- Forge Master Jurisian - Forge Master of the High Marshal's flagship, Eternal Crusader, Jurisian served for 19 standard years before being assigned to the Helsreach Crusade during the Third War for Armageddon. During the first days of the siege he was sent to a defensive position in the Ash Wastes designated D-16 West that contained a sealed Adeptus Mechanicus installation. After long hours of work Jurisian discovered the installation was the home of the great Ordinatus Armageddon Oberon, also known as the Death of Titans, a relic of the First War for Armageddon. The Ordinatus was armed with a mighty Nova Cannon normally used in ship-to-ship combat. It took Jurisian most of the remaining two months of the Siege to unlock the resting place of Oberon, reactivate the machine and travel back to Helsreach. In the end, Jurisian's contribution to the fight for Helsreach was the destruction of the Ork Mega Gargant known as Godbreaker.
- Techmarine Artificer Simagus - Simagus is credited with the discovery of the Standard Template Construct (STC) database used to create the Land Raider Crusader during the Jerulas Crusade in 645.M39. By 763.M39, the Crusader Pattern was officially recognised by the Tech-priests of Mars.
- Emperor's Champion Bayard - Bayard served in the Helsreach Crusade during the Third War for Armageddon, fighting with honour and courage before being killed by an Ork spearthrust to the throat in the graveyards outside the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant on the last day of the battle for Hive Helsreach. His blade was taken up by the Emperor's Champion Priamus.
- Captain of the Banner Navarre - The Wars of Apostasy, also known as the Terran Crusade, was a series of battles fought against the forces of the Renegade High Lord of Terra Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy's Reign of Blood in the fourth century of the 36th Millennium. During this tumultuous period, the Black Templars had concerned themselves little with the affairs of the Imperium, but when Black Templar Crusade Fleets returned to the Segmentum Solar and discovered that their Chapter keeps had been destroyed by orbital bombardments, the full extent of Vandire's treachery became apparent. Enraged by what they discovered of Vandire's perversion of the Emperor's will, in 378.M36 the Black Templars Chapter's High Marshal Sigenandus declared an Imperial Crusade against Vandire on Terra. The Black Templars, together with their progenitors the Imperial Fists, the Soul Drinkers, the zealous Fire Hawks and elements of the Martian Tech-Guard, took the fight to Terra itself and laid siege to Vandire's Ecclesiarchal Palace. For months the armies of the Imperial Preacher Sebastian Thor, the Space Marines and their allies laid siege to the Ecclesiarchal Palace without managing to breach its formidable defences. Eventually, the Emperor's Champion Navarre of the Black Templars led a daring last ditch assault. At the height of the fighting, the Chapter Banner Bearer fell, and all eyes watched as the Black Templars Chapter Standard began to slowly sink to the ground, but Navarre swept the banner up and carried it through the breach in the palace's walls, inspiring his brothers to fight all the harder. After the battle, Chapter Master Lazerian of the Imperial Fists honoured Navarre with the title of Captain of the Banner in recognition of his exemplary bravery and courage.
- Dreadnought Jarold - Brother Jarold was a Veteran warrior of the Solemnus Crusade, stationed at the Solemnus Chapter Keep and assigned to search out potential Neophytes for the Chapter. Jarold was nearing the end of his tour of duty at the keep when it was attacked by Ork invaders. Jarold was the sole survivor, though his body was cut in two by an Ork Power Klaw after he had slain scores of the creatures, his barely living remains located by Apothecary Colber atop a veritable mound of Greenskin corpses. After his internment within a Dreadnought, Jarold participated in the Armageddon Crusade as part of Fighting Company Adlar. After the loss of Emperor's Champion Ansgar he commanded the strikeforce designated "Ansgar's Avengers," which was tasked with locating and recovering the Champion and his armaments.
- Battle-Brother Richter - Richter is an old, battle-scarred veteran Space Marine of the Black Templars who joined the ranks of the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. Though he appears taciturn and unremarkable, his expertise with both Bolter and Chainsword mark him as a past master in the deadly arts. For those with a practised eye, he is clearly Sword Brethren material even though he wears no honours on his armour and seeks no recognition of his prowess. Richter is obviously vexed by some sort of spiritual turmoil, as his hard set jaw and distant gaze tell of a soul deeply troubled by some past event.
- Armour of Faith - Armour of Faith is the traditional name given to the suit of Artificer Armour gifted to the Emperor’s Champion. Chosen from the finest Artificer Armour available to the Chapter and then inscribed with sacred wards and catechisms of hatred, the armour offers greater protection than any ordinary suit of Power Armour could, allowing the Emperor’s Champion to complete his holy duty. In addition, such is the protections of its wards that some blows and rounds are simply turned aside or flash to nothing in a blaze of divine power.
- Armour of the Remorseless - This suit of Artificer Armour is one of a trinity crafted by the Artificers of the Black Templars. Each suit is gilded with detestations of the Warp and said to have the blood of Saints layered into the thousand-folded Adamantite of its construction. The Armour of the Pitiless Crusader and the Fearless Crusader remain with the Chapter, but one suit, the Armour of the Remorseless, was tithed to the Deathwatch.
- Black Sword of Sigismund - The Legendary Black Sword wielded by First Captain Sigismund, the first High Marshal of the Black Templars, is kept in a place of honour in the most sacred chapel of the Black Templars Chapter.
- Black Sword - Paired with the Armour of Faith, the traditional weapon of the Emperor’s Champion is the Black Sword. A massive two-handed Power Sword, blessed by the Chapter Chaplains, it becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of the chosen of the Black Templars. Such is the skill with which this weapon has been crafted that the Emperor’s Champion can either wield it two-handed or one-handed as a normal Astartes Power Sword
- Chain of Zeal - Most Black Templars use Devotion Chains to bind their weapons in their fists on the eve of battle, removing them only once victory is achieved. The Chain of Zeal, however, is no such fleeting token. It is secured to weapon and armour with a permanent weld that lasts as long as the Space Marine lives. Furthermore, because taking off a gauntlet with the chain still attached is a shameful act that entails great dishonour, the wearer of the Chain of Zeal must keep his armoured glove donned and weapon in hand every minute for the rest of his days.
- Sword of the High Marshals - As a sign of his office, the current High Marshal wields the potent Chapter relic known as the Sword of the High Marshals, which was forged from the remnants of the sword of the Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists Legion from which the Black Templars were spawned. According to legend, Dorn broke the sword across his knee after the Horus Heresy for failing to defend the Emperor of Mankind from Horus, never wielding it again. It was decreed by the Black Templar's founder, Sigismund, that the weapon carried by all High Marshals would forever remind them of their duty to atone for their Primarch's failure by incorporating the pieces of Dorn's sword in its forging.
- Witchbane - Black Templars Brother-Sergeant Navrell bore the Chainsword Witchbane into battle against Eldar pirates on the world of Scoth in the Ixaniad Sector. What started as a small skirmish escalated when a Webway portal opened on a ridge above the fighting. Through it stepped a black-robed Farseer, and behind him, a stream of Eldar reinforcements. Navrell led three squads to eliminate the new threat. Crackling balefire and slicing shurikens decimated his men, but Navrell fought through to cut down the Farseer. The portal snapped shut, and Navrell's Chainsword slew many more Eldar that day. It was this deed that led to Navrell’s secondment to the Deathwatch, bringing his weapon, now named Witchbane, with him.
The Black Templars have no Chapter homeworld, and instead opt to live within their large Crusade fleets of Strike Cruisers, Battle Barges and Escorts. They are ever vigilant, and are always ready for battle which is why they have chosen to remain a highly mobile, fleet-based Chapter. This way of life also honours their original Founding Legion, the Imperial Fists, who were a mobile Chapter based upon the great mobile Star Fortress known as Phalanx. The Black Templars do establish and garrison Chapter Keeps on every world they conquer or reclaim, which provide a training base for new recruits for the Chapter and to act as staging points for further Crusade fleets. Each Crusade fleet is usually led by a Black Templars officer with the rank of Castellan and is charged with carrying out a specific objective. Until that objective is achieved, the Crusade fleet will not join up with its brethren and its Astartes will not rest.
The Black Templars Chapter fleet is known to contain the following starships:
- Eternal Crusader (Battle Barge) - The Eternal Crusader is the personal flagship of High Marshal Helbrecht and serves as essentially as the Chapter's mobile fortress-monastery, home to the Black Templar's Reclusiam, primary Armouries and the vaults containing all of the Chapter's relics and precious artefacts.
- Divine Fury (Battle Barge) - The Divine Fury served in the Armageddon Crusade and was the flagship of the Solemnus Crusade.
- Hammer of War (Battle Barge) - The Hammer of War served in the Solemnus Crusade; this Battle Barge was lost to the Warp with all hands.
- Light of Purity (Battle Barge) - Flagship of High Marshal Helbrecht during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Night's Vigil (Battle Barge) - Part of the Eternal Crusader's escort fleet during Third War for Armageddon.
- Sigismund's Fury (Battle Barge)
- Sigismund's Light (Battle Barge) - Sigismund's Light served in the Donian Crusade.
- Sigismund's Oath (Battle Barge)
- Apocalypton (Strike Cruiser) - The Apocalyton joined the Donian Crusade after it began.
- Crusader's Sword (Strike Cruiser) - The Crusader's Sword served in the Solemnus Crusade, this Strike Cruiser was destroyed in a Necron ambush.
- Dorn's Sword (Strike Cruiser) - The Dorn's Sword served during the Donian Crusade.
- Dorn's Wrath (Strike Cruiser)
- Holy Crusade (Strike Cruiser) - The Holy Crusade served during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Holy Hand of Antioch (Strike Cruiser) - The Holy Hand of Antioch served in the Gothic War.
- Majesty (Strike Cruiser) - The Majesty was a part of the Escort fleet of the Eternal Crusader during the Third War for Armageddon.
- No Pity (Strike Cruiser) - The No Pity served as part of the Solemnus Crusade fleet during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Ophidium Gulf (Strike Cruiser) - The Ophidium Gulf is presumed lost with all hands in the wake of the campaign against the mysterious "Voice of the Emperor" during the 13th Black Crusade.
- Sigismund's Wrath (Strike Cruiser) - The Sigismund's Wrath served as part of the Solemnus Crusade fleet during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Vengeance is Mine (Strike Cruiser) - The Vengeance is Mine served in the Solemnus Crusade, this Strike Cruiser was destroyed in a Necron ambush.
- Vigilant Might (Strike Cruiser) - The Vigilant Might participated in the Vengeris Crusade.
- Forgeship Goliath (Forge Ship) - The Goliath was the Forge Ship that served with the Solemnus Crusade during the Third War for Armageddon.
- Heracles (Unknown Class) - The Heracles served with the Donian Crusade fleet.
- Revenant (Unknown Class) - The Revenant was the operational flagship for the Stygia XII operation.
The Power Armour of a Black Templar is predominantly black and white. The black colour is a sign that like Sigismund and the black-armoured Chaplains of other Chapters, the Black Templars serve the Emperor directly and with deep faith. Squad specialty symbols (Tactical, Assault, Devastator, or Veteran) are not indicated. The Chapter icon is proudly worn on both shoulder guards. A Gothic numeral is stenciled in white on the right knee plate.
The shoulder plates of Black Templar Power Armour depict the Chapter badge of the Black Templars, the Maltese Cross, with colour dependent on their rank and role within the Chapter. The Cross depicted on the shoulder plates of the Black Templars mirrors the emblem of the Knights Hospitallers of the ancient Christian Crusades during the early 2nd Millennium. The actual application of the colour scheme varies from Astartes to Astartes, and individual Black Templars usually decorate their armour with devotional imagery, litanies, and Purity (and Crusader) Seals. The Black Templars are noted to wrap chains or bindings around their arms to represent the fact that they will not give up their weapons until the battle is done. Black Templars Techmarines and tank crews have a predominantly red armour colour scheme (the colour favoured by the servants of the Machine God); however, they still display their Chapter colours so as to not anger the Machine Spirits of their tanks and armour.
The "character" of the Black Templars is drawn from the High Medieval Christian Crusades of the 11th to 13th Centuries AD, and the history concerning the military orders of the Roman Catholic Church at that time, including the Order of the Knights Templar, the Order of the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Order. One of their special weapons, the Holy Orb of Antioch, is a reference to Monty Python's Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, which itself is a reference to items discovered by the real Crusaders at Antioch (such as the "Holy Spear of Antioch").
- Codex: Apocalypse (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition)
- Codex: Cities of Death (4th Edition)
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 26–27
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 45, 47, 50-53, 77-78, 100-102, 116-119, 152-153, 168
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 8
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition)
- Damnation Crusade (Graphic Novel Series)
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 38–39
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 156, 234
- Exterminatus (Graphic Novel Series)
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Heroes of the Space Marines (Anthology), "And They Shall Know No Fear..." by Darren Cox
- How To Paint Space Marines
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pg. 17
- Index Astartes II, "Righteous Zeal - Black Templars Space Marine Chapter", by Graham McNeill
- Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), "The Relic" by Jonathan Green
- Ravenor Rogue (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Rulebook) by Dan Abnett
- Warhammer 40,000: Dataslate - Reclusiam Command Squad (Digital Edition), pg. 12
- Warhammer 40,000: Planetstrike (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition), pg. 267
- Warrior Brood (Novel) by C.S. Goto
- White Dwarf 324 (AUS), "The Black Templars - The Vengeris Crusade"
- White Dwarf 323 (UK), "Warhammer 40,000: Iron Will, Iron Blood", pg. 48
- White Dwarf 314 (UK), "Marshals of the Black Templars", pp. 96, 98, 100, 102
- White Dwarf 312 (UK), "Righteous Victories" by Graham McNeill
- White Dwarf 311 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Black Templars"
- White Dwarf 310 (US), "Chosen of the Emperor", pg. 68
- White Dwarf 269 (US), "Showcase - Matt Hutson's Black Templars Army"
- White Dwarf 251 (US), "The Battle for Techuan's Key - Battle Report", pp. 101–118
- White Dwarf 250 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Black Templars"
- Butcher's Nails (Audiobook) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Words of Blood (Anthology) edited by Marc Gascoigne and Christian Dunn, "Words of Blood" (Short Story) by Ben Counter