The Adeptus Astartes, known as the Space Marines, are the elite warriors of the Imperium. They are few in number and regarded with almost mythical awe by most folk, for they are inheritors of traditions founded by the Emperor Himself. The Space Marines are divided into Chapters, each possessing a thousand Space Marines along with its own support staff and spacefleet. It is said that there are around a thousand such Chapters in the Imperium.
A Space Marine is recruited in adolescence from among the most violent cultures of the Imperium. His body is hugely enhanced with new organs promoting muscle and bone growth to give him immense strength, size and resilience. His mind is similarly enhanced; hypno-doctrination and sleeplearning give him both a fervent belief in the Imperium and the knowledge of weapons and tactics to bring the Emperor’s wrath to the battlefield. Upon completing his augmentation and training (which not all novices survive), he is issued with his wargear, including a suit of power armor. This armor is one of the most powerful symbols of Imperial might, depicted in statuary and stained-glass windows across the Imperium. Equipped with nerve-fibre bundles so it moves in sync with his body, a Space Marine’s armor not only grants him great strength and protection but is a work of art, resplendent in the heraldry of his Chapter.
Each Chapter is independent from the Adeptus Terra. While most will eagerly answer the summons of a Warmaster or a plea for help from somewhere in the Imperium, some Chapters have their own agendas and cannot be relied upon entirely. All, however, serve the Emperor loyally with complete devotion.
All Chapters have proud traditions and distinct characteristics that translate into the way they fight. The ferocious Space Wolves, for instance, are more fiercely independent than most other Chapters and fight on their own terms up close with chainswords and bolt pistols. The Iron Hands, on the other hand, have close ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus and are the masters of siege warfare, arming their warriors with an array of devastating heavy weapons and tanks. Many Chapters are legends, and names such as the Blood Angels, Ultramarines, Dark Angels and Imperial Fists are spoken of with hushed awe among Imperial citizens. A Space Marine Chapter has its own fleet of fast spacecraft and can react far more quickly to a threat than the Imperial Guard or Navy, making the Adeptus Astartes one of the only forces in the Imperium that can mount a rapid response to a crisis. The Space Marines are extremely few in number compared to the size of the Imperium and few citizens will ever see one in the flesh, but without them the Imperial military and the human race would slide ever faster towards destruction.
Within the Calixis SectorEdit
The Emperor's Angels of Death have a very small presence in the Calixis Sector, and the places they have visited are very few in number. There is a bastion upon the world of Cloister that is said to have been built by the Black Templars and the world of Grangold holds a single temple to Saint Drusus that is staffed by two ancient dreadnoughts of the Iron Hands.
Few things inspire the faithful of the Imperium in the same way as the Adeptus Astartes, blessed sons of the Emperor and defenders of mankind. It is rare however that a citizen will ever lay eyes on one of these godlike warriors beyond statues, carvings or stained glass windows. Regardless, the servants of the Ministorum preach the power and importance of these heroes in their sermons and scriptures, reminding humanity of their daily sacrifice to defend the Emperor’s domain. It is little wonder then that any kind of object associated with the fabled Space Marines takes on a mythical quality, be it a fragment of shell casing, torn piece of tabard or even a preserved boot print. One such true relic among these is known as Astartes Blood, collected by the faithful from the site of a great battle between Space Marines and their foes, and then stored in tiny warded vials said to contain its courage. Just owning such a vial can lift the spirits of the pure of heart and it can become a potent talisman for warding off the God-Emperor’s foes.
The bearer of a sacred vial of Astartes Blood becomes almost immune to normal fear and can shake off the influence of all but the most fearsome of opponents. The bearer becomes immune to the effects of creatures with a Fear Rating of (1) or (2). Creatures with a greater Fear Rating affect them as normal, however they suffer no penalty from these higher degrees of fear when rolling on the Shock Table. Furthermore, if the bearer suffers an effect from the Shock Table, it will only last a number of Turns equal to their Willpower Bonus unless it would be less than this. Finally the bearer can as a Full Action instil courage in others with a touch, effectively ending any ongoing effects of rolling on the Shock Table, though not restoring lost Wounds, levels of Fatigue, or Insanity Points.
There is a drawback to bearing a vial of Astartes Blood, as such courage was not meant for the minds of mortal men. Over time the bearer will become reckless and overconfident in his own ability. The player should keep track of how many game sessions his character has been in possession of the Astartes Blood, including the session in which he obtained it. For the first session he suffers no ill effects. For the second session he suffers a -10 on both Parry and Dodge Tests. For the third this penalty increases to -20 and he must take a Charge Action if within range of a foe and able to do so. For the fourth session onwards in addition to having to make Charges he can make no Parries or Dodges at all. Players are also encouraged to roleplay this increasingly reckless behavior in their characters as they take larger risks and act with growing bravado.
This effect persists even if the bearer gives the blood to an ally or leaves it behind for a mission. It will only end when the character gives the blood back to the church and undergoes a ritual of glory, where they must recount the enemies they have slain and the manner of their slaying to the satisfaction of the attending clerics.