- "Yours is to heed the machine as others heed their kin. Tend to the war spirits all about, but do so in the knowledge that you do the Emperor’s duty. Without your ministrations, no bolt may be fired, and no enemy slain."
- — Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse III, Chapter CIV
A Techmarine (known as a Frater Astrotechnicus in High Gothic) is a Space Marine technician and engineer as well as a full Astartes Battle-Brother of his Chapter. They are full initiated members of both the Cult Mechanicus and their Chapter. Prospective Techmarines are chosen from the ranks of the Space Marine Chapters for their affinity with technology. They are sent to Mars for 30 standard years of training, and taught the machine lore. They learn how to divine the runes of engineering and study the liturgy of maintenance. This great body of lore must be committed to memory and understood by the novice Techmarine. They are taught how to "feel" the pain of a damaged machine and heal it. When they come back they serve the same role in their Chapter as a Techpriest Enginseer in the Imperial Guard.
Ancient pacts sworn between the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Astartes allow the Space Marines to send those of their warriors with an affinity for technology to Mars to train and begin the long, arduous journey of becoming a priest of the Machine God. Without the passing on of such ancient technological lore, the Space Marines would be unable to make war. Aspiring Techmarines train for 30 standard years on Mars, steeping themselves in rites of activation and hymnals of maintenance; how to call forth a Machine Spirit or placate its wrath. Techmarines return to their Chapter as aloof and mysterious figures steeped in superstitious awe. From that point forth they are men of dual loyalties, pledged by blood to their Chapter, but bound in mind and spirit to the mysteries of the Cult Mechanicus' Omnissiah.
To be a Techmarine is one of the most arduous callings in the whole of the Imperium of Man, for the Techmarine, like all Astartes, sacrifices his humanity to better protect it, but instead of finding the warm and reassuring embrace of brotherhood within his Chapter, he will face only awed esteem laced with deep mistrust from his fellow Space Marines. Neither can the Techmarine turn to the Adeptus Mechanicus for solace, for most members of the Mechanicum see Techmarines either as mere Enginseers, lowly cogs in the order of the Machine God, or worse, Hereteks who dare violate the sanctity of the Machine Spirits in order to wage war more efficiently. The Techmarine's dual loyalties will always work against him, and most find only a measure of solace amongst their Techmarine brethren, increasingly retreating to their work at the Chapter's forges and limiting their contact with their other Battle-Brothers to a minimum. Few are the Techmarines who ever gain a position of authority in a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter, and most such Chapters keep their Techmarines at arms length from their Chapter traditions, ceremonies and rituals.
Despite the suspicion their dual loyalty engenders, Techmarines are held in great esteem by their Battle-Brothers who recognise and acknowledge the Techmarines' expertise in the mysterious arcane sciences. A Space Marine Chapter would be of little consequence without its many technological tools, and its ancient weapons must be kept in a constant state of readiness -- without the Techmarines, this would be impossible. Despite their arcane calling, they are warriors first and foremost. Should a vehicle or artefact of technology be lost, the Techmarines will fight for its retrieval as stridently as their brethren would fight to recover a fallen comrade; or perhaps, like their Tech-priest counterparts, even harder.
The most critical of the Techmarine's tasks is to operate, maintain, and, if necessary, repair the myriad of war machines used by the Space Marines. Every item of technology, from a simple round of ammunition to a Battle Barge, is revered as an instrument of the Emperor’s divine will, and the Techmarine knows that to neglect such equipment is akin to dereliction of duty and blasphemy. After all, a Bolter not cleaned, oiled, blessed, and beseeched can scarcely be expected to be reliable in battle, and so a Space Marine’s life may depend upon how well such weapons are maintained. Techmarines oversee this process, guiding the Battle Brothers in the correct and proper rituals by which the Machine Spirit of each and every weapon is appeased.
On the battlefield, a Techmarine’s primary role is to effect repairs of damaged equipment, so that it may return to the fight. Each Techmarine carries a huge range of highly specialised and often arcane tools, sometimes mounted on a Servo-arm or at the end of a prehensile Mechadendrite. With these tools, the Techmarine can repair virtually any item of equipment, from an overheated Plasma Pistol to an immobilised Land Raider, provided that some spark of the Machine Spirit’s essence remains. Many battles have been won thanks to a Techmarine recovering a damaged weapon in this manner, and in their own way they are often vital to a mission’s success.
Although many of the weapons carried by Space Marines are wonders of technology beyond the dreams of normal men, there are some machines that are so exceptional that only a Techmarine may attend them. One of the most unusual of these is the Conversion Beamer, a rare weapon that works by converting matter to energy in a beam that becomes stronger the further it extends and the more matter is converted. It is only by the constant ministrations of a Techmarine that such a weapon can be utilised—should anyone else attempt to use the weapon, its Machine Spirit might become greatly angered and turn its ire upon the wielder instead.
For a large majority of Astartes Chapters, Techmarines are a valuable and irreplaceable resource, their ranks often barely numerous enough to ensure the correct workings of the Chapter's Armoury. It is thus an exceptional thing indeed for a Techmarine to take the Apocryphon Oath and serve a Vigil in the Deathwatch. Quite often, it is the most freshly ordained Techmarines who do so, to broaden their understanding of both Imperial technologies their parent Chapter may have forgotten or found difficult to operate and their understanding of xenos technology that will enhance their parent Chapter's ability to oppose it.
Techmarines are highly valued for their service to the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, known as the Deathwatch. Their skills in the operation of machines and techno-arcana are an asset to the day-to-day operations of the Watch Fortresses and the advanced technology the Deathwatch has access to within its Vaults at the heart of each Watch Fortress. These weapons and items of equipment are known to be more exotic than even the rare Conversion Beamer. Many are unique, and all are sealed within the Vault at the heart of each Watch Fortress. Just as the Librarian has exclusive access to the reams of forbidden knowledge in each of these archives, so the Deathwatch Techmarine keeps his portion of the Vault sealed to all but his fellow Techmarines. There are weapons kept within the Vault the likes of which are thought to be unique in the galaxy, their secrets impenetrable even to the highest of the Tech-priests of Mars. In many cases, the Techmarines have only incomplete knowledge of their operation, and no understanding of their maintenance. Such weapons might be lost relics from the Dark Age of Technology, or the product of alien technologies long since vanished from the galaxy. Some are known to be capable of unleashing unprecedented levels of destruction, perhaps laying waste to entire cities in a single blast. Others are so poorly understood that their use would only be risked in the direst of circumstances, and it is the responsibility of the Deathwatch Techmarine to do so when called upon by his Watch Commander.
A final, and often critical role performed by Deathwatch Techmarines is the evaluation and, if deemed necessary, the retrieval of alien technology encountered in the field. In the first instance, a Techmarine must be able to ascertain whether alien machinery presents an immediate danger to the Kill-team, and if it does he must conceive a plan of action to neutralise or circumvent the threat. This is especially true when boarding alien spacecraft, for the team might be faced with a wholly alien environment, in which even the most innocuous looking item might prove to be a deadly weapon system. In the second instance, it is long-standing doctrine that, if possible, examples of alien technology should be recovered so they may be studied by the xenos-savants of the Inquisition. Such a task is dangerous in the extreme, but vital to the continued mission of the Deathwatch, and potentially the very survival of Mankind.
Techmarines employ a wide variety of esoteric tools and equipment not normally issued to their brethren. Many Techmarines are equipped with a Servo-arm, a specialised auxiliary arm grafted to the Techmarine's armour and linked to his neural network. These arms can be fitted with a multitude of lastorches, vibrosaws and power drills or any number of arcane tools that aid the Techmarine in his battlefield role of vehicle maintenance and repair. Their gauntlets are also often heavily modified to include more delicate tools or even a limited form of mechadendrites. Many Techmarines have the organic components of their hands removed and replaced with augmetic prosthetics that allow them a greater connection to whatever machine they are ministering to, some even going as far as to incorporate mechanical interfaces that allow the Techmarine's mind to commune directly with the Machine Spirit.
In deference to their training on Mars and the close bond that exists between Techmarines and the Adeptus Mechanicus, Techmarines traditionally repaint their armour red, though one shoulder guard will always remain in their Chapter's colours. Techmarines understand better than anyone the risks inherent in angering the Machine Spirit of battle gear and are careful to ensure that their Chapter symbol remains clear and unobscured. However, the Iron Priests of the Space Wolves, despite their similar training on Mars, exhibit a fiercely independent streak by retaining their original armour colour throughout. Techmarines are full members of their Chapter, and although not directly connected to the Adeptus Mechanicus, they are still considered members of the Cult Mechanicus. Therefore, they have access to a number of superior cybernetic and technological enhancements not available to their fellow Battle-Brothers within the Chapter. Techmarines can also be accompanied by a retinue of Servitors, including Gun Servitors, Combat Servitors, and Tech Servitors. The following is a list of the typical wargear employed by a Techmarine:
- Artificer Power Armour - A Techmarine's Power Armour is modified to accommodate their cybernetic enhancements and their backpacks are upgraded with several Servo-arms. Their armour is painted the rust red of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but their Chapter badge is retained and displayed on one of the shoulder plates, so as not to anger the armour's Machine Spirit.
- Servo-arm - Servo-arms are powerful manipulators tipped with crushing pincers, useful for field repairs and punishing enemies. Ports for these detachable appendages are installed at the shoulder, and the Battle-Brother’s armour must also be upgraded with more powerful gyro-stabilisers to use one effectively. A Servo-arm can lift one side of a Rhino APC to repair a broken tread link. A Servo-arm can extend up to 1.5 metres. The limb’s gripping mandibles allow the Techmarine to lift heavy objects or anchor himself in an emergency. Astartes Servo-arms are more than just repair tools, and make deadly weapons. Techmarines can also use this powerful tool to crush the skulls of those enemies that come too close.
- Servo-harness - A Servo-harness is in essence multiple Servo-arms combined into one larger augmetic contraption. The multiple arms jutting from the Techmarine's back wield a large variety of tools and weapons, granting him a greater capacity for both field repairs and the destruction of Mandkind's enemies. Like a Servo-arm, a full Servo-harness integrates with the Techmarine’s Power Armour and is controlled through the same spine interface that makes him one with his Power Armour. The whole contraption radiates from a boosted Power Armour fusion backpack capable of powering both the suit and the innumerable components of the Servo-harness. The composition of each such cluster of auxiliary limbs is unique, customised with the tools most preferred by its previous owners for tending to Machine Spirits and laying waste to the God-Emperor’s enemies. Some bear only a few appendages, while others are great spiders of diagnostors, interface tines, drills, weapons, plasma cutters, and even more arcane elements that future inheritors may struggle to fully understand. At a minimum, a Servo-harness consists of two Servo-arms, a Combi-tool, a Fyceline Torch and a Plasma Cutter. The Fyceline Torch is normally used for welding but its adaptable nozzle allows it to spit gouts of flame like a Flamer, while the Plasma Cutter can slice through a metre of adamantine plating up to 20 centimetres thick in a standard minute, and can also be used to project bolts of incandescent plasma upon any foolish enough to come close. The ingenious Machine Spirit (Artificial Intelligence) of a Servo-harness is capable of far more sublime communion with its master than a simple Servo-arm, and a Techmarine who has mastered the subtleties of this tool can deliver a staggering amount of blows at once with his multiple appendages, or fire multiple weapons at once without pause.
- Bolter - Techmarines make use of the standard ranged weapon of the Space Marines.
- Omnissian Power Axe (Astartes Pattern) - Often carried by Techmarines to show their devotion to the Omnissiah, this weapon has a long, staff-like body tipped with half of the circular Cog Mechanicum icon. The symbol forms a blade and is sheathed in a power field. Arcs of energy illuminate the ridged blade and light the skull’s eyes with a hungry glow, leaving little doubt that — even while covered with inscribed circuitry indicating its sacred nature — this religious icon is also a deadly weapon in a Space Marine’s powerful hands. The Omnissian Axe also functions as a Combi-tool.
Master of the ForgeEdit
The Master of the Forge is an Astartes Chapter's most senior Techmarine, charged with the maintenance of the Chapter's fleet of armoured fighting vehicles, such as Rhinos, Land Raiders and Predators. His knowledge of the arcane sciences has been refined over centuries of service, and rivals that of the senior Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars. The Master of the Forge is so skilled that he can tell what is wrong with a vehicle's Machine Spirit at but a glance. Keeper of his Chapter's most ancient and treasured arcane secrets, he is the only one with the required skills to rouse the most ancient Dreadnoughts from their slumber, or operate potent wargear whose origin predates that of his Chapter.
Such skills conspire to make the Master of the Forge something of an outcast in most Space Marine Chapters. Though he is always part of the Chapter Council, the Master of the Forge is an outsider to all save his subordinate Techmarines, whose company is shunned in all matters save those that pertain to his beloved mechanicals. In addition, to his Mechanicus "brethren", a Master of the Forge is often seen as the worst kind of Heretek, loyal to the Quest for Knowledge in name only, a warrior who does not hesitate to bend and adapt a Machine Spirit to his needs instead of carefully entreating and revering it as the Cult Mechanicus prescribes. While often excessive, there is a core of truth in the Mechanicus' accusations, for a Master of the Forge is first and formost a Space Marine, a warrior of the Emperor tasked with ensuring that the Astartes in his care always have the means to wage war at their disposal. Few Masters of the Forge hesitate to modify or even completely overhaul a weapon or vehicle to better fit their Chapter's need, to the dismay and outrage of the more conservative Tech-Priests. New patterns of existing vehicles developed by a Master of the Forge are often grudgingly accepted and blessed by the Mechanicum only after painstakingly slow and lengthy examinations, when they are accepted at all. Some Masters of the Forge, tired of waiting for an unrequired approval from dogmatic non-combatants, have simply spread the specifications of their craft to their fellows of other Chapters, bypassing the Mechanicus entirely, which has only served to stress and antagonize the relationship between Astartes and Mechanicus further.
Not all Space Marine Chapters treat their Master of the Forge in this way. Some, such as the Mentors, the Praetors of Orpheus and the Astral Knights, embrace the dwindling advanced technologies of Mankind without the usual superstition and, in the case of the Iron Hands, with an enthusiasm nearly matching the Mechanicus. In these Chapters, the Master of the Forge is a personage honoured no less than the Chapter Master himself. Such cases are not common among Astartes. Indeed, for one Chapter to embrace the vision and purpose of a Master of the Forge is to invite suspicion from many of its more conventional brothers. In addition to his responsibilities to maintain the Chapter Armoury, a Master of the Forge is also tasked with the conservation of any arcane technological artefacts to which his Chapter is heir. The oldest and most famous Astartes Chapters have many such technological wonders from the time before the Horus Heresy locked within their Armoury's vaults. Like the other Techmarines who serve under him, the Master of the Forge is equipped with powerful bionic servo-arms called Mechadendrites that can be used for battlefield repairs or even put to use as another weapon. Masters of the Forge also sometimes wield an ancient pre-Heresy weapon called a Conversion Beamer, whose projectors fire a beam of anti-matter that induces a controlled subatomic reaction in the target, converting its mass into energy. The further away the target, the more deadly the blast, as the beam has time to grow in power.
Some Space Marine Chapters make use of variant titles and/or duties for their Techmarines. The most well-known variants are described below.
- Iron Father - In a departure from the doctrines of the Codex Astartes the Iron Hands Chapter completely lacks Chaplains. This position is instead filled by an Astartes known as the Iron Father, who combines the roles of Chaplain and Techmarine. The Iron Father is considered the representative to the Chapter of both the Emperor of Mankind and the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult Mechanicus. Unlike the Chaplains of other Chapters, however, the Iron Fathers do not receive a Rosarius from the Ecclesiarchy. because of the perceived heresy of the Iron Hands' belief in the doctrines of the Omnissiah rather than the standard Imperial Creed.
- Iron Priest - The Iron Priests are the Space Wolves Chapter’s equivalent of Techmarines. Sent off for training at Mars with the Adeptus Mechanicus like all Techmarines, the Iron Priests maintain the Chapter's equipment and forge replacement wargear. Iron Priests are traditionally attached to the Great Wolf’s Company and re-assigned to other fighting forces on a situational basis. Iron Priests also have a place in the transformation and initiation of new recruits.
- Forge-Wright - The Sons of Medusa Chapter, which is governed by a Chamber Ferrum council comprised of its Techmarines, refers to its senior Techmarines as Forge-Wrights.
- Warpsmith - Warpsmiths are the Chaos Space Marines' masters of the machine. Most of these fallen Chaos-worshipping Techmarines can trace their origins back to the Priesthood of Mars, whether through the schisms of the Magi or the rigid doctrine of the Techmarines. However, where the Adeptus Mechanics regard technology as sacrosanct, the Warpsmiths seek to subjugate and control it. Experts in battlefield repairs and the art of siege craft, their true calling lies in the soul forges of the Warp, especially those that lie in the Eye of Terror. There, they drive the Machine Spirits of captured Imperial vehicles mad as their physical forms are rebuilt into bestial and terrifying new shapes. The Warpsmiths preside over their infernal industry as pioneers of mechamorphosis, as they watch Daemon Princes thrust lesser Daemons into the cogs of giant, mechanoid birth-factories that crank out engines of destruction from their artificial wombs.
- Techmarine Sevano Tomasin of the Ultramarines - As is typical of the Ultramarines, their Techmarines exactly follow the letter of the Codex Astartes when it comes to their training and methodology. The rigid adherence to the holy tome of their Primarch instils a dogmatic belief in following the words written thousands of years ago without deviation in the Chapter, and even more so in the Ultramarine Techmarines. Sevano Tomasin was no exception to this, and was a faithful servant of the Cult Mechanicus and expert in the field of demolitions. His service to the Emperor was very nearly cut short on Ichar IV when a rampaging Tyranid Carnifex ripped apart the Land Raider he was driving. Alien bio-plasma flooded the interior of the vehicle and detonated its ammunition in a huge explosion that wrecked the tank and killed the monstrous alien. Determined not to lose his centuries of wisdom, the Chapter's Apothecaries were able to save his life, Tomasin himself directing the replacement of his legs and right arm with augmetic components he had forged many years before. His expertise in demolitions came to the fore during the Ultramarines' mission to the planet of Thracia when the 4th Company was given the task of destroying a number of strategically vital bridges. Though the mission was ultimately a success, it was to be Tomasin's last, as he was killed in action by a direct hit from an artillery shell that cooked off the Melta charges he was in the process of arming.
- Iron Father Paullian Blantar of the Iron Hands - Blantar is an Iron Father from the Kaargul Clan Company. This inspirational figure embodied every one of the Chapter’s teachings, from the utter certainty that Ferrus Manus would day return, to the hatred of all that is of the flesh. His knowledge of bionic enhancement is unparalleled, and his refinements of the augmentation process distinctly affected the direction of the Chapter. He led the dramatic counter-attack against the insidious Dark Eldar on the industrial world of Kaladrone, rescuing the badly wounded Warleader Bannus. Blanter personally performed the augmetic surgeries and augmentations that enabled the crippled form of Bannus to survive and go on to lead his company for many centuries to come. In fact, Bannus still leads his Clan Company as an ancient Venerable Dreadnought and is an integral part of the current Great Council. Bannus’ wisdom and experience continue to serve the Chapter to this day. Of equal legendary status was Blantar's disdain for his own organic body. Blantar constantly flayed his own body of the flesh he was born into, until eventually, towards the end of his extremely long and successful life-span, only his mind remained. This was implanted into the towering frame of a mighty Dreadnought, and some say that in so doing his very soul was ex-loaded into the machine’s systems so that not a scrap of biological matter remained. Blantar serves as a permanent member of the Chapter Council, having transcended the limits of his flesh and effectively attained immortality. Should Ferrus Manus ever return, as Chapter dogma asserts he will, it is certain that Paullian Blantar and any others who replicate his feat will be there to greet their Primarch, and to fight at his side in the final battle. To this day Iron Fathers ritually scar their flesh in honour of one of the Chapters most renowned Iron Fathers of all time.
- Iron Priest Harl Greyweaver of the Space Wolves - Harl Greyweaver is an Iron Priest of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter who has been seconded to the elite xenos-hunting Deathwatch -- the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. He has been the Forge Master of Watch Station Erioch since his predecessor answered a summons to serve the Achilus Crusade a decade ago. He is notoriously intolerant of other Chapter’s brands of tech-craft, but his efficacy in conjuring the tools of war is so great that no one has yet been able to oust him.
- Techmarine Martellus of the Blood Ravens - Martellus was a Techmarine aboard the Blood Ravens' Strike Cruiser Armageddon. Martellus served under the Blood Ravens Force Commander throughout the Tyranid invasion of Sub-sector Aurelia in Dawn of War II. During the climactic battle, Martellus was aboard a Thunderhawk gunship supporting the Space Marines on the ground. The Tyranid horde eventually overwhelmed the gunship. In Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising Martellus returned and was saved by the Force Commander while defending the Astronomic Array on Typhon Primaris. Martellus served as part of Captain Apollo Diomedes' strike force during the Blood Ravens' attempt to save the Aurelian Sub-sector from both the taint of Chaos and an Exterminatus unleashed by the Inquisition's Crusade within the sub-sector.
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 88-90, 155, 177-178
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pg. 9
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 20-21
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 70-71
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 38, 61-62
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), pg. 9
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pp. 13-14, 37
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy-Betrayal: Book One, pg. 197
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 43
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 11, 22, 45, 47, 59 94-103, 181
- Index Astartes III, "Hand of Justice - The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- Insignium Astartes
- Lone Wolves (Graphic Novel) by Dan Abnett and Karl Richardson, graphic design by Darius Hinks
- White Dwarf 291 (US), "Cult of the Machine God: Techmarines of the Adeptus Astartes", pp. 14-17
- White Dwarf 290 (US), "The Flesh Is Weak"
- White Dwarf 263 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Hands"
- White Dwarf 262 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Hand of Justice, The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- Innocence Proves Nothing (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Iron Hands (Novel) by Jonathan Green
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee
- Dawn of War II (PC Game)
- Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (PC Game)