- "There is only the Emperor, and He is our shield and protector."
- — Second Book of Chantings
An Emperor's Champion is an honourary position within the ranks of the Space Marines, especially amongst the First and Second Founding Chapters whose history dates back to the dark days of the Horus Heresy. Almost all Chapters of the Space Marines have had an Emperor's Champion of their own at one time or another, especially during the period following the Horus Heresy, known as the Great Scouring. The practice is much less common in the 41st Millennium. The position of Emperor's Champion has played an important role within the ranks of the zealous Black Templars Chapter since the Chapter's inception as a Successor of the Imperial Fists, and has been maintained with reverence and high esteem throughout nearly ten millennia of endless crusades and ceaseless conflicts. In battle it is the duty of a designated Emperor's Champion to seek out and challenge the commander of the enemy force, fighting him or her in single combat for the glory of the Emperor. Many great battles and wars have been turned in favour of the Imperium by the slaying of enemy leaders or other key figures in a foe's chain of command by an Emperor's Champion.
At the conclusion of the Horus Heresy during the Battle of Terra, First Captain Sigismund of the Imperial Fists Legion was chosen to serve as the first Emperor's Champion. Personally singled out by Rogal Dorn himself, Sigismund was bestowed with the high honour of serving as the personal champion of the Emperor. Though humbled by the honour, he was disturbed by only one thing -- it seemed wrong to him to obscure the sacred colours of his Legion. The Imperial Fists Reclusiarch who bestowed the sacred blessings upon his armour and wargear told Brother Sigismund to fear not, for Dorn himself had ordered it to be so. Sigismund's heraldry had been changed to black to show that he served the Emperor directly, as did the Reclusiarch and his fellow Chaplains. As such, he had been marked out in the sight of the Emperor. Reassured, Sigismund strode across the war-torn scenes of carnage, of hell on Earth, challenging any and all Champions of Chaos to single combat as well as anyone else unfortunate enough to cross his path. Since that time, the Black Templars Chapter has continued to honour Sigismund by continuing the practise of naming an Emperor's Champion.
Ever since Sigismund was elevated to the rank of the first High Marshal (Chapter Master) of the Black Templars, there have been others who have risen to follow in his stead as the Emperor's Champion. The practice of having an Emperor's Champion has spread to other Chapters, but it is enshrined most strongly in the Black Templars. Each Crusade launched by the Black Templars has annointed an Emperor's Champion as standard practice, but in fact it is common for there to be one for each company of the Chapter. On the eve of battle, one amongst the Black Templars will receive a vision from the Emperor that speaks of future victory and glorious battle. After receiving the vision, the chosen Battle-Brother will confess what he saw in the vision to his Chaplain. The Astartes will then be clad in the finest armour and weapons available, which almost always includes wargear designated The Black Sword and The Armour of Faith. Should the Champion fall, it is the duty of the Chapter to recover his body and relic suit of Power Armour.
Becoming an Emperor's ChampionEdit
To become the Emperor's Champion is no matter of training, but rather a sacred calling that most Black Templars aspire to, but few ever achieve, for to be chosen to serve as the Emperor’s Champion is to be chosen by the Emperor Himself. Becoming the Emperor’s Champion is a singular honour and few Space Marines attain that status more than once in their lives.
On the eve of battle, Black Templars brethren pray and fast. On some extremely rare occasions, 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. This Battle-Brother will seek out the Chaplains and be declared the Emperor's Champion by them, but this may not be possible if he is serving the Long Vigil with the Deathwatch. 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. Having taken up the trappings of the Emperor’s Champion, the Battle-Brother remains as such until his vision is fulfilled. Only by the word of the Chaplains is his duty discharged, and he resumes his place in the ranks of his Chapter once more.
Emperor's Champion Special AbilitiesEdit
To be the Emperor’s Champion is to be oath-bound to oppose the enemies of the Emperor in all things and at all times, to be a living manifestation of the Emperor’s wrath, and to inspire others to acts of valour and righteous hatred against the enemies of Mankind. All of these things come naturally to the Adeptus Astartes, but the Emperor’s Champion must take them further, vowing to perpetuate the Crusade that the Black Templars so fervently prosecute. The mantle of the Emperor’s Champion is not without variation, for Astartes must be flexible in the manner of their wrath, delivering unto the Emperor’s foes the most deserved death and, to this end, a number of traditional vows exist that serve to focus the hate and fury of the Champion and his Battle-Brothers. During the preparation stage of each mission, after Oath-Taking, the Emperor's Champion selects one of the following vows, which will confer upon him and his Battle-Brothers a variety of effects:
- Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch - The Champion cannot tolerate the continued existence of witches. He displays a far higher agility in combat, intent on coming to grips with his malefic foes, as well as a higher resistance to the effects of psychic powers used against him. If an Emperor's Champion leads a Deathwatch Kill-team, then all members of the team gain this ability.
- Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds - The Champion cannot tolerate the continued existence of witches. When engaged in melee combat, the Emperor's Champion becomes overzealous in his efforts to strike down his foes, however, in doing so he does not readily defend himself. When leading a Deathwatch Kill-team, all members of the team gain the vow's effects.
- Suffer Not The Unclean To Live - While a single servant of the Emperor draws breath, none of His enemies can be permitted to endure. The Champion summons up greater reserves of strength with which to strike down his foes, granting him the ability to cause more damage when engaged in melee combat. However, this holy might takes time to muster, granting his enemies time to dodge and parry as they move to counter the Champion's slow-but-deadly strikes. If the Emperor's Champion is a Deathwatch Kill-team's leader, then all members of the team gain this vow's effects.
- Uphold the Honour of the Emperor - The Adeptus Astartes shall stand tall and proud in battle, never shrinking from conflict or danger. The Champion’s faith in the Emperor and his own might allows him to stride unflinching through enemy fire. The Champion does not skulk or cower to elude the enemy’s gaze, hiding behind cover or moving silently through the shadows, instead shrugging off the blows of his foes as a result of his righteous zeal. If the Emperor's Champion is a Deathwatch Kill-team's leader, then all members of the team gain this vow's effects.
Slayer of ChampionsEdit
The duty of the Emperor’s Champion is not only to inspire through fervent prayer and ruthless example, but also to confront the mightiest of enemies in single combat. When in combat, if there is an obvious leader or champion amongst the enemy, the Emperor’s Champion must attempt to engage that foe in single combat, issuing a challenge that few warriors, whatever their species, can refuse.
- Armour of Faith - The Armour of Faith is the traditional name given to the Artificer Power 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. Such is the protection of its wards that some blows and rounds are simply turned aside or flash to nothing in a blaze of divine power.
- The 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.
- Chapter Approved 2003, "The Emperor's Champion", p. 76
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition), p. 22
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), p. 15
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition)
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 13-14
- White Dwarf 245 (US), "The Emperor's Champion" (leaf insert)