Azrael is the secretive Supreme Grand Master (Chapter Master) of the already secretive Dark Angels Chapter of Space Marines, not to mention the de facto Chapter Master of every single chapter with Lion El'Jonson's gene seed (basically the Dark Angels would be guilty of legion-building if they had ever actually split up in the first place).
Azrael was recruited from the brutes of Kimmeria, but does not show their clumsy-ass thuggish behaviors.
As a Scout it was not his battle prowess that marked him out as different (in comparison to Belial), but it was Azrael's conviction and dedication that would single him out for greatness. During the Daeynth Secundus campaign where the Dark Angels were being frustrated by Eldar forces, it was young Azrael's logic and quick thinking which convinced his commanders how to take the fight to the Eldar and complete the campaign. Earning his first laurel of victory and being one of only six in the ten thousand year history to achieve it before becoming a full battle brother.
As a member of the 3rd company during the scouring of Truan IX, Azrael disobeyed orders to evacuate after his captain and command squad fell victim to a psychic assault. Charging through the psychic draining effects of a Warp Beast at the center of the uprising, he showed mental fortitude above his battle-brothers and continued fighting even after all others were lost. Further realising that he could not harm the creature due to immense derp, he brought the catacombs down on himself and the creature and its summoning wards. He remained buried for three days, awaiting death. Until he was dug out by his company, who petitioned his direct entry to the Deathwing Knights for his remarkable force of will. After that, he disappeared for a short spell like Robert Pattinson's balls after Twilight.
He returned to the 3rd Company as Master after it lost its previous master when the men voted for Azrael's return, and since the Dark Angels were proven to be entirely reasonable and democratic this petition was also granted. As Master Azrael participated in the early battles of the Siege of Vraks in the year 821.M41. (though he is referred to as Supreme Grand Master, this is obviously a mistake or revisionist propaganda) at Vraks, though he was wounded by Arkios the Faithless he was Awesome while doing it; fighting a challenge one-handed while holding the Standard of Devastation in the other hand. Azrael's stint as captain of the 3rd was also known for kicking the shit out of an AI worshipping techno-revivalist cult on Faze V.
After over a hundred years of service he was briefly promoted to Grand-Master of the Deathwing in 917.M41 after the then-Grand Master Naberius's Thunderhawk was ambushed. Again not much is known about Azrael's time spent amongst them.
Azrael became the Chapter Master of the Dark Angels after the previous master's demise in 939.M41, becoming the head of the Inner Circle, the big boy table of the Dark Angels that keeps the secret of the
Fallen Angels ABSOLUTE LOYALTY OF THE CHAPTER DURING THE HORUS HERESY. When he became Keeper of the Truth he received the traditional Lion's Helm (which, humorously, was called ridiculous by Kharn during the Pandorax Campaign, and which easily gave him away as Supreme Grand Master), the master-crafted Sword Of Secrets, and a combi-plasma gun known as the Lion's Wrath.
His first act as Supreme Grand Master was to summon a council of all the Unforgiven chapter masters (an impressive feat, considering that they perhaps number at around 150 chapters) and give them all an ass-kicking for being lazy fucks and
has started to unify them all in the hunt for Fallen Angels and to combine the Unforgiven into one unstoppable warmachine GIVE THEM ALL WAR ADVICE SO TO BETTER DESTROY THE EMPEROR'S ENEMIES.
Recently, Azrael has been getting a lot more screen time from Black Library, portraying him as a self-confident, witty and snarky bastard, almost completely at odds with the stoic and humourless reputation of the Dark Angels chapter or even the down to business approach that other Chapter Masters might be like.
For example: when dealing with the Grey Knights, other chapters deal with them warily, knowing that there is a strong possibility their own soldiers might be purged after the campaign. (Space Wolves and Blood Angels can attest to this) Instead Azrael deals with them so casually that he constantly pisses off Kaldor Draigo by cheekily misrepresenting his rank of Supreme Grand Master. He also quickly warms to the personality of Catachan Colonel Strike when the human starts ordering Space Marines about, especially after Kaldor Draigo finds it irritating and so he takes the opportunity to just badger Draigo even further. Though at the end of the campaign, Draigo really does lose his cool and has a short brawl with Azrael in front of a squad of Deathwing Terminators, but is content to leave the matter to rest on the planet, partly because of Draigo's emotionally charged threats of running to the High Lords and destroying the Dark Angels, and mostly because Azrael had literally no idea why Draigo got so mad.
Also, despite the Dark Angels sometimes coming off as emo dispassionate pricks, he is quite vocal about his support and admiration for humanity. He also proclaims his support for the common man of the Imperium, swearing to protect them where another Chapter would sacrifice them to gain victory. This is further exemplified in the Space Marine Legends: Azrael book, where as part of his trials to become Supreme Grand Master, he was faced with a recollection of his early history where he as a tribal teenager got into a fight with another tribe; and circumstances led him to stand over the knocked out body of a defeated enemy while he was still armed, but the image paused for Azrael to explain himself. Azrael reacted quite strongly to the idea that he could be so honourless as to slay a defeated opponent, trying to argue that "mercy" was a virtue... a notion he would have to disabuse himself of if he wanted to take the Supreme Grand Master job.
Therefore, Azrael can still be a douchebag and can violently but efficiently turn on his allies whenever they are exposed to the Fallen. So in this regard, as least he's consistent with his chapter's priorities, although it's clear that he doesn't like it and feels the weight of guilt pressing down on him because of it.
Somewhere in the middle of the Pandorax campaign, Azrael got into a fight with Kharn, who mocked Azrael (and his stupid hat) the entire time. The audiobook "Trials of Azrael" when this fight takes place has Azrael sounding suspiciously like Hugo Weaving. which exemplifies his personality - a bit of a dick, sardonic but ultimately well-meaning, as right near the end of the audiobook where he retrieves an Mechanicus Adept that had been guiding him onboard the ship he was lost on. Scared out of her wits and with Black Legionnaires at the door to come claim her, Azrael dispatches them and approaches the Adept, still thinking the Chaos Marines are still alive. Quietly muttering that she's not afraid of him, Azrael responds; "Really? Even in my wounded state, I thought I cut quite the imposing figure." At the end of the Pandorax campaign he also snickers his way through the evil monologue of the end-boss Corpulax, robbing the moment of all of its intended gravity with his snorts and giggles, before getting all serious and explaining where the traitor space marine went wrong and then executing him.
Azrael has in recent years began to accumulate some impressive feats in both body and mind:
- During the Siege of Vraks, Azrael refused to allow the Chapter Banner to fall into the dirt when its bearer was slain. Catching the Chapter banner in one hand he fought Arkos the Faithless, a chaos lord who had the blessing of all four ruinous powers backing him, with literally one hand tied behind his back.
- Upon field elevation to Supreme Grand Master he led a mission to recover the old grand master Naberius, who had been taken prisoner by the Night Lords, being kept alive and wrapped in the Chapter Banner for use as bait. Upon discovering this, Azrael used his command codes to override Naberius' power armour: nuking him, the chapter banner, and the attendant heretek priests and Night Lords guarding him.
- In the Audio “Trials of Azrael” was separated from his command during a teleportation incident, he found himself alone with non-other than Khârn the Betrayer. Both quickly realised that they had been brought there by persons unknown in order for them to kill each other. Khârn the Betrayer of course didn’t give a single fuck and was intent upon taking Azrael’s head, Azrael was more interested in discovering the identity of their would be puppet master. Azrael manages to get first blood during the fight but it quickly became clear that the fight was going against him as Khârn seemed to only grow stronger the longer the fight dragged out. Azrael had a decision to make he knew that he could kill Khârn but it would not be a clean kill and he would most certainly be slain in return leaving their tormentor to get away scot free. Choosing the larger victory over the satisfaction of killing the traitor Azrael destroys the floor below him sending himself plummeting into the depths of the chaos warped vessel.
- Azrael discovered that the perpetrator of his teleportation error was a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch. Without firing a single shot or swinging the Sword of Secrets once Azrael manages to defeat the Daemon Prince using nothing but deception and deceit (that’s right he out smarted and out thought a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch) With the daemon at his mercy Azrael decided to leave the helpless creature as a present for Khârn the Betrayer who was still hunting for him as a way of an apology for having to end their fight early. He promptly leaves to re-join his forces leaving the terrified daemon to beg for mercy.
- During the Campaign upon Pandorax Azrael fought alongside Supreme Grand Master Draigo of the Grey Knights at the forefront of the fighting and matched him kill for kill.
- At the climax of the Pandorax campaign it was Azrael that finally defeated the giant Greater Daemon of Nurgle that the entire Grey Knight chapter had failed to banish and had only managed to imprison.
- At the end of the “Unforgiven” Azrael fought Typhus the Herald of Nurgle aboard the Terminus Est. As the Deathwing stormed the bridge Azrael faced the giant bloated form of Typhus; the Sword of Secrets easily cutting through the corrupted terminator armour. Upon realising that Typhus had been manipulated, Azrael is suddenly moved by Tuchulcha back to the Rock.
- Azrael may have ever so slightly caused a causal paradox and may have been the guy who destroyed Caliban and banished the Fallen in the first place. TOTALLY BY ACCIDENT - HONEST!
- (To be fair, one of the current Fallen was going to make it back to the past and there were still Death Guard and Fallen that could breach past the Dark Angels. The alternative was letting the Traitors win the Horus Heresy via time-travel and THAT IS NOT AN OPTION!)
An unfunny annoying forced meme on /tg/ is "how the hell does Azrael's gun work?" Lion's Wrath, Azrael's combi-plasma gun that has a theoretically awesome bullpup design, was originally sculpted with a notch taken out of its stock (see image). Some moron tasked with drawing an official "Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Masters of the Dark Angels" artbook thought the notch was part of the gun's official design; seriously, behold. This has caused no shortage of photoshop parodies fixing the gun, some normally, some "tacticool". These days it's considered a dead horse that's been brought back as a zombie then beaten to death again.
If you see someone posting yet another "how do the Dark Angels expect to justify this tech-heresy" for the billionth time, just ignore it and go about your business. Your fellow fa/tg/uys will thank you for it.
In-game Azrael is the closest thing the Dark Angel have to your ubiquitous "costs as much as a Land Raider HQ-turned-Lord of War", clocking in at 215 points. He isn't all that bad and he gives an invulnerable save to the unit he joins, but he cannot take Terminator armor to thug it up with Terminators (that is Belial's job) or a bike (much less Sammael's LAST IMPERIAL JETBIKE).
Overall, not a terrible unit, but his place in the army is limited. With the changes to 6>7th, he is FAR more survivable in combat due to his artificer armour the "Protector", which also gives him FnP 5+; his power sword is now only AP3, but said power sword also has S+2 (and not two-handed unlike Relic Blades, so he gets +1 attack from his bolt pistol too!). If you take him in the primary detachment as the warlord, you get to choose any trait from the DA's warlord table without rolling and get +1 to Seize the Initative, so it's still cool. Picking the +1/-1 Warlord trait gives you a great strategic edge, especially when using Ravenwing or Deathwing in a CAD. Lastly, he has a master-crafted combi-plasma, representing the Dark Angels' plasma fetish.
|Just for Fun, the Azrael vs Khârn match-up depicted above (Expected wounds per turn) (7th edition versions)|
|Starting on "even footing" (i.e. they declare a challenge on the second round of combat). Same Initiative, so both strike at the same time.|
|Azzy's five attacks on Kharn hit 2.98 times (59.69%, including master-crafted) and wound 83% of the time for 2.49 wounds, those are unsaved 66% of the time = 1.66 wounds on Kharn per turn.|
|Kharn's five attacks hit Azzy 4.17 times (83% chance with no Hatred on even footing) causing 3.47 wounds (also 83% chance) which are unsaved 50% of the time and ignored with FnP 33% = 1.16 wounds on Azrael per turn.|
|Additional Notes: i.e. now we factor in the cool shit If Kharn were to get the charge or counter attack, after factoring in Hatred his expected wounds per turn become 1.85 (with Rage) or 1.59 (with Counter Attack), but only for the first turn. Though Furious Charge won't come into play for either of them since they already wound each other on 2+. Also Azrael now has Hatred (CSM) so he'd be hitting 3.75 times on the first turn for 2.05 unsaved wounds against Kharn.|
|Conclusion: As of 7th edition Dark Angels codex, Azrael just kicks the shit out of Kharn, thanks largely to the boost to his FnP -- Kharn now needs four turns to kill Azrael, and would already be dead by turn two. Trading Preferred Enemy for Hatred is a mixed bag for Azrael, but since Kharn's major damage is on the first round it sort of evens out, kinda. If Kharn were to get the charge then it becomes much closer and there is a better chance of them mutually killing each other on the second turn.|
|End Note This is only mathhammer, and they both have the chance of wiping the floor with each other in a single turn or doing nothing to each other. Azrael has the advantage of defense and more wounds, whilst Kharn has a higher maximum output if he can get the charge. Of course Azrael still does poorly against anyone with a 2+ armour save or Strength 8 or higher so just don't even try it.|
Very little has changed functionally. Having 2 extra wounds in an edition where multi-wound damage is a thing is certainly nice, and he's cheaper overall. Lion's Wrath is still a combi-plasma, and follows all the new rules for that. Sword of Secrets is now S+2 AP -3 Damage D3, and if the to-wound roll is a 6 the target instantly suffers a mortal wound in addition to the actual wound they now take a saving throw for. Since the Character and Independent Character rules are gone, Lion Helm is now a 6 inch bubble of 4++ for all friendly Dark Angels (no more guardsman blobs, sadly). Oh, and all Dark Angels units in that bubble re-roll failed to-hit. And if he's the warlord, your Battle-forged army gets +1 command point. Lastly he and the rest of Deathwing are one of the few sources of Fearless left in the game.
|Just for Fun, the Azrael vs Khârn match-up depicted above (Expected wounds per turn) (now in 8th edition)|
|There's no more initiative in 8th edition, so let's have a look at how they do:|
| Khârn's six attacks hit Azzy 5.83 times and wounds 3.89 times. Gorechild has AP -4 and 1d3 Damage so Azzy uses his 4+ invul and eats 1.94 unsaved hits or 3.89 wounds each times Khârn swings.
(Khârn has 6 attacks base, so we'll consider DttFE to trigger once a round, which is statistically the more probable result. His attack that misses is ignored.)
|Azrael's five attacks on the swell guy hit 4.86 times (thanks to the re-roll) and wound 3.24 + 0.81 (mortal) times. The Sword of Secrets is AP -3 and 1d3 damage, so Khârn uses his 4+ invul and eats 1.62 unsaved hits for 3.24 + 0.81 (mortal) or 4.05 wounds each time Azrael swings.|
|Conclusion: Azrael has the upper hand in damage again in 8th edition, he statistically leaves Khârn on ~1 wound after his attacks while Khârn leaves Azrael on ~2... But then you remember Khârn has the BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! rule that allows him to fight twice a turn, which means he'll statistically kill Azrael in one turn with his second round of attacks. If Khârn charges, he hits twice before Azrael and should kill him without Azrael being able to swing back unless interrupted. If Azrael charges, Khârn should still kill him with his second round of attacks though being barely alive with 1 wound left.|
|End Note Again, this is only mathhammer and they still both have a chance of wiping the floor with the other in a single lucky swing, with the 1d3 damage from their weapons, Death to the False Emperor and the Sword of Secrets extra mortal wounds (and that's without going into CP re-rolling, fight when you die stratagems and other shenanigans). Pure stats-wise, Khârn has an edge thanks to the quite insane ability of swinging twice each turn and sheer volume of attacks (quite fitting considering it's Khârn we're speaking about), but the fight is certainly not a forgone conclusion in either way.|
- Azrael's name is fitting, as he is named after the mythological Azrael, the Angel of Death (which is another name for the Space Marines).