- "A Captain leads from the front. By his example shall his men know what it is to be of the Adeptus Astartes, and from his teachings shall they learn the trade of battle in the Emperor's name. No ordinary man can a Captain be, for many are the paths to victory and he must be master of them all. His very being shall be an extension of the Emperor's work. With every strike of his sword, with every word of his speech does he reaffirm the ideals of our honoured master. He will vanquish darkness and heresy with every thought, word and deed. So shall his coming be a sign of deliverance to the dutiful and a herald of dismay to all traitors. No living man shall stay his wrath."
- — From the teachings of Roboute Guilliman, the Apocrypha of Skaros
A Captain is a senior Astartes officer who commands each of the 10 companies in a standard Space Marine Chapter that follows the dictates of the Codex Astartes. These hardened veterans have proven themselves in the maelstrom of battle as members of their Chapter's elite 1st Company, or through their bloody and dedicated service in their own company prior to the death of their predecessor and their ascension to command. As penultimate masters of the battlefield, Captains are able to read its ebb and flow, and adjust their battlefield formations accordingly. Leading from the front, by his example shall a Captain's men know what it is to be an Adeptus Astartes, and from his teachings shall they learn the trade of battle in the Emperor's name.
Each Captain is a hardened Veteran Astartes, a master strategist who has proven his prowess in battle as a member of the Chapter's elite 1st Company, or through distinguished service in his own company as a squad sergeant prior to the death of his predecessor. In addition to his Chapter rank, each Captain also bears one or more honorific titles associated with the command of a particular company or responsibility. Some, such as Master of the Watch and Master of the Recruits, are common titles in use across almost all Space Marine Chapters. Other titles are products of a particular Chapter's history, culture and military specialties. The Captain of the White Scars' 4th Company is traditionally the Master of the Hunt, while the Aurora Talons Chapter, specialising in space warfare, maintains no less than five Master Bombardiers among their company Captains.
Individual Captains can also be assigned to command missions that require the deployment of elements of the Chapter beyond their own company. In these situations an individual Captain takes on the temporary rank of Force Commander and gains precedence over even other Captains assigned to this mission. It is not enough for an Astartes Captain to be a skilled warrior -- each Chapter boasts many such men amongst its roster -- he must also have a superhuman grasp of military strategy and combat tactics, as well as the intelligence to employ them in the ever-changing arena of warfare. It is commonly said in the Imperium that in terms of raw military might, every Space Marine is easily worth a dozen or so Imperial Guardsmen. Under the command of an experienced Captain, this value can swell tenfold.
A Space Marine Captain is not simply a master of warfare, he must also have the gift of diplomacy and political adroitness. While most Imperial Planetary Governors and Commanders are more than happy to receive aid from the Space Marines when in trouble, there are those whose arrogance must be carefully negotiated in order to prevent a battle's collapse into a true disaster for the broader Imperium through unnecessary political infighting. This is not to say a Space Marine Captain lacks for ultimate authority when dealing with hubris and failure to the Emperor -- as Captain Kayvaan Shrike of the Raven Guard's 3rd Company once proved by executing a vacillating Lord Cardinal Dostok on the spot. That said, subtler methods of diplomacy are best employed in grim situations -- the necessary punitive measures can be enacted after the threat has been ended. A Space Marine never bends the knee lightly to any non-Astartes, but the needs of the Emperor's realm must override any personal feelings. The mission is always all. Humanity shall be saved from its own petty failings, even if this must be done one world at a time.
Chapter Variant RanksEdit
It is common in many Chapters of Space Marines to refer to their Captains as "Brother-Captain" in recognition of the reality that all Astartes, even those of the highest rank, are brothers-in-arms. Several Chapter maintain different titles for their Company Captains then the standard title proscribed by the Codex Astartes. A number of the most notable are described below:
|Space Wolves||Wolf Lord|
|Black Templars||Marshal or Castellan|
|Grey Knights||Brother-Captain (refers to a slightly different rank than standard Captain)|
|Raven Guard||Shadow Captain|
|Iron Hands||Iron Captain|
In addition to the command of an entire company, it is common for Space Marine Captains to hold a variety of other formal titles and functional duties within the Chapter. The following is a list of the most common formal titles held by Space Marine Captains in a standard, Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter:
- Lord Executioner - The Lord Executioner is the captain who serves as the master of the Chapter's Assault Company. He is a brutal and direct individual, not so much given to glittering heroics and flamboyant challenges as short, bloody and efficient close combats. Clutching his favoured master-crafted melee weapon in his hands, he strides purposely forward in battle, the expression of a stone cold killer writ on his face as he heads towards his grim duty. His Artificer Armour is often impressively detailed with embossed skulls, scrollwork and multiple Purity Seals. Of all the Space Marine Captains within a Chapter, the Lord Executioner is the most menacing.
- Master of the Marches - As well as leading an entire company of Space Marines in battle, the Master of the Marches has the duty of overseeing the deployment of the Chapter's fighting strength. It is his knowledge of Chapter dispositions the Chapter Master turns to when readying for war. The Master of Marches is wholly devoted to his duty as he gazes at a massive length of parchment held aloft by a Cyber-cherub, which contains critical data. Upon his backpack are twin Vox-casters which are utilised to project orders across the noisy battlefield.
- Master of Relics - The Master of Relics is the commander of the Chapter's Devastator Company, an unmatched expert in the tactics of long-ranged warfare. He is also the custodian of the Chapter's many technological masterpieces, the most dangerous of which are brought to the battlefield in times of exceptional strife. The Master of Relics is often clad in ancient patterns of Power Armour, and armed with an impressive array of master-crafted weapons from the Chapter's armouries. He projects an aura of stoic watchfulness as he directs a withering look upon distant foes. On his backpack is a targeting array which matches the angle of his gaze, gathering telemetry information to be fed to his Devastator Marines.
- Master of Rites - The Master of Rites is charged with recording and preserving the martial traditions of the Chapter -- a bombastic, courageous warrior with unswerving loyalty to his Battle-Brothers. This individual exudes a sense of martial pride and fervour to those around them. A large Servo-skull with an incorporated Vox-caster that amplifies his warcries is anchored near his feet by a weighty pair of censers. The Master of Rites roars inspiring rhetoric during the heat of battle, reminding his Battle-Brothers to remember their duty and heritage, even as they clash with the foe.
- Master of the Fleet - The Master of the Fleet is that Space Marine Captain who is deemed to have the most experience and greatest skill at planning and executing void-combats. He is given command of the Chapter fleet, and essentially serves as the Chapter's fleet admiral, commanding its flagship and all other space assets when they deploy for major engagements. In rare cases, a Chapter's Master of the Fleet may not be an Astartes officer but a mortal with a long history of space combat and commanding fleet engagements, such as a former or current command officer of the Imperial Navy who has been seconded to the Chapter under ancient inter-service agreements.
- Master of Recruits - The Master of Recruits is the officer who is responsible for training all of the Chapter's Neophytes and who usually also serves as the commander of the Chapter's Scout Company. He will be a skilled Veteran of hundreds of battles and a shrewd judge of character, easily able to determine what will bring out the best in the genetically-altered adolescents who survived their Aspirant Trials and transform them into true Astartes. As the leader of a Scout Company, the Master of Recruits will be an expert in the irregular forms of combat that define the missions of Space Marine Scouts, including sabotage, infiltration and counterinsurgency.
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 54
- White Dwarf July 2013 (US), "Warhammer 40,00 Apocalypse"