- "Kill aliens and Warp-spawned filth wherever you find them and in whatever circumstance you find them. There is no such thing as tolerance for such as them as far as the Emperor is concerned."
- — Excerpted from High Marshal Gerwald's Prayer of Repugnance
A High Marshal is the senior ranking Astartes of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter, and is equivalent to the Chapter Master of other Codex-compliant Chapters. The fighting skills of a High Marshal are unsurpassed within the Chapter, with all weapons available within the Chapter's Armouries. The High Marshal is the supreme commander of the Black Templars' ongoing Crusades, and it is his duty to keep track of their overall progress and make tactical decisions in regards to the deployment of the Chapter's forces Occasionally he will bless certain Crusades of particular import with his inspirational presence. The High Marshal is one of the most autonomous military commanders in the Imperium of Man, decreeing by his own designs where his warriors will fight without recourse to the dictates of the High Lords of Terra.
Amongst the ranks of zealous warriors of the eternally crusading Black Templars Chapter is one individual whose prowess and might as the Chapter's penultimate warrior is unsurpassed. This individual is the High Marshal, the senior ranking Astartes of the Black Templars and a warrior with centuries of experience in the crucible of battle. 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.
The traditional rank of High Marshal heralds to the bygone era of the 31st Millennium, when the Chapter's founder Sigismund, the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion, was chosen by his Primarch Rogal Dorn to serve as the first High Marshal of the newly created Black Templars Chapter during the Second Founding after the end of the Horus Heresy. The Chapter took upon themselves the black and white panoply of Sigismund's personal heraldry. As Sigismund had been chosen as the first Emperor's Champion for his fervent faith in the Emperor and his undying devotion to Mankind, those zealous warriors 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 in the Reformation of the Imperium 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.
The Black Templars chose not to adhere to the Codex Astartes and, following the oath of Sigismund, the Chapter embarked upon its Eternal Crusade, eschewing the idea of a homeworld and living aboard their Crusade fleets, made up of dozens of Battle Barges, Strike Cruisers and other spacecraft such as training vessels and gigantic Forge Ships which produce all of the Chapter's war materiel. The High Marshal himself has his own Battle Barge, the Eternal Crusader, a huge vessel that is the spiritual home of the Chapter and contains its most sacred relics, chapels and reliquaries. It has been expanded and refitted many times over ten thousand standard years, with extra docking facilities for Escort ships, additional launch bays for shuttles and Thunderhawks, as well as accommodation for twice as many Space Marines as a normal Battle Barge. Given their fleet-based nature, the Black Templars are rarely assembled as a Chapter, but are instead divided into a number of Crusades under the command of an officer with the rank of Marshal. There are usually no more than three Crusades at any one time, though there are occasionally many more.
It falls to the High Marshal to oversee the progress of each of the Crusades, and he must uphold the honour of the Emperor and his Chapter. It is he and he alone who determines where the Black Templars' wrath will strike as well as the disposition of the Crusades forces that will carry out his will. Once the High Marshal has declared the Crusade and appointed those who will fight in the Emperor's name, he monitors its progress and will occasionally bless it with his inspirational presence. Actively seeking out the foes of Mankind, the High Marshals continue their Chapter's time honoured traditions, remaining true to the Emperor's original vision of the Great Crusade. The High Marshal is one of the most autonomous commanders in the Imperium, decreeing how and where his warriors will fight, without the tacit approval of the High Lords of Terra. The Black Templars' ongoing Eternal Crusade is of paramount importance to the High Marshal and nothing will stand between him and its continuation. Those with the ability to make contact with the Black Templars can of course petition the High Marshal for his aid, but the cause will need to be just indeed for a High Marshal to agree to send his warriors into battle at the behest of others.
Notable High MarshalsEdit
- 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. 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 in 998.M41. 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.
- High Marshal Kordhel - Korkhel was Helbrecht's immediate predecessor as High Marshal and was slain by a frenzied Chaos Champion of the Ruinous Powers in late 990.M41.
- High Marshal Ludoldus - Ludoldus was Kordhel's immediate predecessor and a legendary High Marshal of the Black Templars. His accomplishments were the stuff of Chapter legends. When Helbrecht was but a lowly Neophyte, he served under this venerable High Marshal during the Vinculus Crusade in 833.M41, playing witness to the dramatic events of that 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 Milllennium. Enraged by the heresy of the Apostate High Lord Goge Vandire, in 378.M36 High Marshal Sigenandus declared a Crusade to be launched against Vandire on Terra. 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 Tech-Guard, took the fight to Terra itself and laid siege to Vandire's Ecclesiarchal Palace, only withdrawing after Vandire was slain by the members of his opwn bodyguard, the Brides of the Emperor.
- Artificer Power Armour- Artificer Armour is forged by master craftsmen and is even more ancient and ornate than a standard suit of Astartes Power Armour. It offers greater protection for a warrior than the standard marks of Space Marine battle-plate.
- Terminator Armour (Optional)
- Bolter (Optional)
- Iron Halo - This device is a symbol of achievement in the shape of a halo that is given to a Space Marine who show exceptional initiative or bravery in battle. The Iron Halo emits a very strong gravitic Conversion Field around its wearer, which makes his armour even harder to pierce with enemy weapons. In addition, it provides its wearer with immense resilience to even the most potent weapons on the battlefield such as Lascannons and missiles of all varieties. The shield stands a good chance of deflecting many deadly projectiles that would otherwise slay even an Astartes with ease.
- Crusader Seals - Crusader seals are waxen or metallic tokens with vows of piety and Chapter blessings inscribed on hanging strips of parchment that are bestowed upon Space Marines of proven zeal and courage.
- Terminator Honours - Terminator Honours (commonly known as the Crux Terminatus) shows that a warrior has proven himself a superior combatant and has earned the right to wear Terminator Armour in battle.
- Frag Grenades and Krak Grenades
- Sword of the High Marshals - As a sign of his office, the current High Marshal wields 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.
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 8, 14, 44
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 26-27
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Index Astartes II, "Righteous Zeal - The Black Templars Space Marine Chapter" by Graham McNeill
- White Dwarf 311 (US), "Chosen of the Emperor" by Nick Kyme, p. 23