FOR THE EMPEROR
Space Marine Chaplains
Space Marine Chaplains are the spiritual leaders of the Adeptus Astartes. They accompany their brother Space Marines into battle, chanting liturgies and exhorting them to great feats of bravery. They are terrifying and sinister figures, garbed in black ceramite power armour, and wearing their death's head masks. Ferocious and devoted, they are inspirational Space Marines who are found wherever the fighting is thickest. They lead their brethren from the fore, and perceive battle as the highest form of worship in the galaxy. The Chaplains rejoice in the slaughter of their enemies, rendering praise to the Emperor and to the founder of their Chapter as they fight.
"Rejoice! Let the glory of battle envelop us! Let our enemies fear us, for we are the Emperor's wrath!"
Chaplain Remataan, Imperial Fists Chapter
For over ten thousand years the Ecclesiarchy has been a powerful organisation within the Imperium. The Imperial Cult preached by the Ecclesiarchy, also known as the Ministorum, has become the sole official religion within the Imperium, and it wields tremendous power. Its influence is enormous, and the followers of the Ministorum are zealous and unwavering in their belief and faith. The Ecclesiarchy is notoriously xenophobic and aggressive towards any perceived taint within Humanity. Any deviancy from the teachings of the Imperial Cult is dealt with harshly. Persecutions are frequent throughout the Imperium as the Ecclesiarchy attempts to maintain its powerful position, stamping out any cults and religions that could threaten its authority.
The Cults of the Space Marines were formed long before the Ecclesiarchy became a powerful force within the Imperium, and they hold to their beliefs stubbornly, disdaining the fanatical ravings of the Ministorum. Their ideology features fundamental theological differences from the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy. The main point of contention between the Space Marines and the Ecclesiarchy occurs in how they perceive the Emperor. To the Ecclesiarchy, the Emperor is a god, the most divine being, the Saviour of Mankind and its eternal guardian. The Space Marines revere the Emperor as a brilliant, inspired man, but a man nonetheless. This forms a major schism between the two organisations.
Some amongst the Ecclesiarchy see the Space Marines as dangerous, heretical deviants, and certainly Wars of Faith have been fought for far less. However, the Space Marines are unfailingly loyal to the Emperor, even if they do not recognise his divinity. At the same time, the Space Marines are to be revered for they share aspects of their genetic structure with the Emperor himself. An uneasy truce has developed between the Adeptus Astartes and the Ministorum, though occasional disputes shatter this wary peace.
The Chaplains of the Space Marine Chapters are gifted with their sacred Rosarius by the Ecclesiarchy in recognition of the link between the two organisations, though this is little more than a symbolic gesture of peace between them. Most commonly, this powerful protective amulet is worn around the neck in the form of an ornate cross, and it is sometimes referred to as their 'soul armour', capable of protecting them even from a direct hit by a lascannon.
"At battle's end, speak the Liturgy in a clear voice. Respect the bravery of the living. Give the Rite of Passage to the fallen. Honour the battle gear of the dead. To do all this with reverence, even when exhausted by battle and weary from the field, is the duty of the Chaplain. It is his burden and his satisfaction."
Interrogator-Chaplain Isiah. Dark Angels Chapter
Space Marine Chaplains are important figures within the Chapter, and they are well respected by their Brother Marines. They have a strong bond with the other members of the Chapter, featuring heavily within the daily lives of the Space Marines from an early stage. They are one of the first faces encountered when new recruits join the Chapter as neophytes, and it is the Chaplains who preside over their indoctrination. The Chaplains teach them of the Chapter's cult beliefs, and direct them in memorising the various hymnals and liturgies that they are required to know. Though notoriously strict and fiery individuals, they are also renowned for their sense of duty and responsibility for their Brother Marines. They fight with inspired passion and belief, ever watchful for the well-being of their comrades.
The Chaplains are the spiritual leaders of their brethren, and guide the Space Marines in the oaths of loyalty sworn to the Chapter. Praise is rendered to the Emperor and the Primarch for the inception and existence of the Adeptus Astartes, although the way each is perceived varies from Chapter to Chapter. The Emperor is recognised as their founder and the saviour of Humanity, but is most often regarded as an awe-inspiring man by the Adeptus Astartes. Some Chapters worship their Primarch as a god or demi-god, while others praise them as superior, yet mortal beings, mighty heroes from an age long past.
The central shrine where prayer and worship is conducted is called the Reclusium, and it lies within the Chapter's fortress monastery. It is a place of particular cultural and spiritual reverence. This most holy place contains ancient artefacts and relics of particular significance, often holding fragments of the Primarch's armour, as well as the battle gear of heroic figures from the Chapter's history. Company and Chapter standards hang from its hallowed walls. The Chaplains lead their sermons within the vast Reclusium, rousing the Space Marines with their passionate exhortations. The battle barges and strike craft of the Chapter's fleet also hold towering cathedrals within their armoured halls, enabling Space Marines to confirm their devotions when far from the Chapter's Fortress Monastery. Indeed the majority of the Chapter is often scattered across the galaxy, fighting in campaigns that may last hundreds of years. However, the Chaplains preach a very practical minded form of worship, and the presence of a formal chapel is not always necessary. The Chaplains accompany their battle brothers in their crusades, guiding them spiritually wherever they may be. They lead them in prayer and ritual, whether it be within the Reclusium, aboard a strike craft or in the midst of battle itself.
The archaic and ornate armour that the Chaplains wear may be hundreds, if not thousands of years old. They are revered pieces of equipment, and are perceived as mobile shrines in themselves. The black armour is frequently decorated with an array of ancient tokens and embellishments, often in the form of purity seals, devotional pendants and such. These sigils come in a range of forms, often appearing as winged skulls, the Imperial Eagle or other Chapter-oriented symbols of dedication. The face plate of the Chaplain's helmet commonly resembles a death's head skull, inspiring fear in the enemy, as well as respect and devotion in their comrades.
Part of the formal regalia that the Chaplain carries is his staff of office, the potent Crozius Arcanum. This arcane and most holy of items is used in official ceremonies and worship, and is often topped with an Imperial eagle or winged skull. The staff is carried to war by the Chaplain, reflecting the ritual importance of battle to the Space Marines. The Crozius incorporates a powerful energy field, enabling it to punch through all forms of armour with ease, smiting the Chaplain's enemies in bright bursts of energy and faith.
Glorious battle is seen as the highest form of worship for the Chaplains. Their primary role is as inspiring, spiritual warriors, and they are chosen from amongst the most fiery and devoted of Space Marines. They lead their brothers from the fore, chanting the liturgies of battle while they slay their foes, exhorting their fellow Space Marines to greater feats of arms in the name of the Chapter and the Emperor.
They encourage their battle-brothers to relive the glories of the Emperor, each warrior aspiring to the miraculous feats their founding father was capable of.
"Acknowledge death as it approaches, but do not succumb to its touch, for your purpose is great..."
Chaplain Hanius, Blood Angels Chapter
Chaplains are the purveyors of the Chapter's cult, ensuring its continuation and survival within the Space Marine ranks. The Codex Astartes dictates the role that the Chaplains play within the Space Marine Chapter, as epitomised by the steadfast Ultramarines Chapter. However, the cult beliefs have been in existence for over ten thousand years, and over this time the various Chapters have branched apart, each respective cult following their own path with their own unique belief system. As a consequence, the roles that the Chaplains play will often vary between the different Chapters.
The Interrogator-Chaplains of the enigmatic and secretive Dark Angels Chapter are a sinister variation from the traditional Codex. The are driven solely by the pursuit and reclamation of their damned brethren, the Fallen. The Chapter is fanatically consumed with the finding of these heretics, and those who are captured are handed over to the Interrogator-Chaplains. Hidden within the depths of the Dark Angels fortress monastery, known as the Tower of Angels, these menacing Space Marines undertake their grisly duty as they attempt to draw a confession from the lips of the Fallen. The Interrogator-Chaplains give a quick death to those rare few who repent, and lingering torment to those who do not. For each of the Fallen who confesses his sins, the Interrogator-Chaplain may add a single black pearl to his sacred Rosarius. The most successful of all the Dark Angels Interrogator-Chaplains was the great Master Molocia, who died after three hundred years of service to his Chapter. Throughout his illustrious career, he secured ten black pearls for his Rosarius, an achievement unmatched within the Dark Angels' ranks.
The role of the Chaplain within the Iron Hands Chapter is fulfilled to an extent by the Iron-Fathers, who also carry out the role of elite Techmarines. Their beliefs have altered over the millennia so that they hold a particular reverence for the mechanical, and this has seeped into their cult beliefs. The Iron-Fathers are rumoured to spend a time of apprenticeship on Mars, home planet of the mysterious Adeptus Mechanicus. There are those within the Ecclesiarchy who see the Iron Hands as corrupted, for they appear to venerate the Machine God more than the Emperor himself. The mutual distrust between the Iron Hands and the Ministorum has erupted into bloodshed on several occasions and, not surprisingly, the Ecclesiarchy refuses to gift the Chapter with the sacred Rosarius.
The Chaplains of the tragically flawed Blood Angels are the guardians of the Chapter, constantly vigilant for the first signs of the Black Rage amongst their battle-brothers. The Black Rage afflicts some members of the Blood Angels before a battle, their minds becoming unhinged as they relive the moment of their Primarch's death. On the eve of battle, the Chaplains move amongst the Space Marines as they are engaged in their prayers and devotions. They chant the Moripatris, the Mass of Doom, and carefully check for the first signs of the terrible curse. Those who succumb to the affliction are removed from their brethren to become a part of the Death Company. They are led into battle by the Chaplain himself, and their madness and frenzy lends them superhuman strength and powers of resilience. They tear into the enemy without hesitation, shrugging off wounds that would make even their hardened battle-brothers fall. They would rather seek death in battle than risk succumbing to the even more debilitating catastrophe of the Red Thirst. Dark rumours can be heard that those who fall to such depths are kept atop the Tower of Amareo on the Blood Angels' home planet of Baal. Here they are said to exist for all time, howling for the living blood that they crave. The Chaplains are said to administer to these degenerates, although what actually becomes of the twisted creatures is a secret know only to the Blood Angels Chaplains themselves.
The Wolf Priests of the ferocious Space Wolves Chapter fulfil the dual role of both Chaplain and Apothecary of Codex Chapters. They adorn themselves in wolf totems, and often wear an intimidating wolf skull helm over their heads. They minister to both the physical and spiritual well-being of their wolf-brethren, and they are fully responsible for the indoctrination and recruitment of young 'Blood Claws' from amongst the fierce, nomadic sea-faring people of their icy home world, Fenris. They can often be seen from afar, watching from a high vantage point as the native warriors battle each other. They pick suitable candidates from amongst those who display particular promise and bravery.
The beliefs of the Space Wolves Chapter more closely resemble those of the hardy, feral tribes than those of strictly Codex Chapters. They hold great respect for personal bravery and great deeds, but have little regard for inherited power. They do not venerate the Emperor as a divine being, although this is not particularly unusual amongst the Adeptus Astartes. The Emperor is revered as the only warrior to ever have bested their Primarch, the headstrong Leman Russ, in hand-to-hand combat. They have little more than contempt for the Ecclesiarchy, although the Wolf Priests will often wear the sacred Rosarius. However, their Rosarius is altered to represent a wolf totem rather than an Ecclesiastic icon. When they call on the Emperor and their Primarch in battle, it is not so much to seek their aid, but rather to call their attention so as to witness personal deeds and accomplishments.