|Battle Cry||"No pity! No remorse! No fear!"|
|Number||1000-6000, maybe less, Or maybe more.|
|Successors of||Imperial Fists|
|Successor Chapters||red Templars, white Templars|
|Homeworld||Eternal Crusader (fleet-based)|
|Strength||Somewhere between one to six thousand|
|Specialty||Assault, close combat, being massive try-hards|
|Allegiance||Imperium of Man|
|Colours||Black and white shoulder pads|
"I have dug my grave in this place and I will either triumph or I will die!" -Chaplain Grimaldus, Hero of Helsreach
"To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity." -Maximilien Robespierre
The Black Templars are a Second Founding Space Marine Chapter of the Imperial Fists. These Space Marines are as manly as the Manly Marines and as angry as the Angry Marines. They make a hobby of dressing up as the Knights Hospitaller and trolling the inquisition with their larger-than-Codex-approved numbers. They're righteously angry for the Emperor, they're usually close combat focussed and their idea of a charge is a giant zerg rush of a hundred angry crusaders who won't hesitate to skullfuck the nearest alien/mutant/heretic with their powersword just because they look funny. Although they don't need swords that much...
The Black Templars and their iconography are close to the Knights Hospitaller, right down the Maltese Cross of Saint John, who was associated with, you guessed it -- the Knights Hospitaller. They were also really big into the whole black robes thing, so there you go.
About the Black Templars
The Black Templars have their origins in the Great Crusade-Era Imperial Fists, in a group originally known as the Templar Brethren. They wore all-black armor and had black crosses on their right pauldron and shields, and were sworn to protect the Temple of Oaths (OK, the reality is that Forge World wanted to justify including Black Templars into Horus Heresy. They're really more Templar than Imperial Fist at this point already). Their commander and First Captain of the Imperial Fists, Sigismund, started the tradition of the Emperor's Champion, in which a Templar would challenge the enemy's champions to single combat. After the Heresy had ended and Roboute Guilliman called for the Second Founding, Sigmisund took his Templar Brethren to found the Black Templars.
They express their fury through burning heretical texts (as kindling for the actual heretics), pwning mutants, and skull fucking aliens. But you might say, "Isn't that what every other Spess Mehreen chapter does?" Well you'd be right, but they are the most pro-active about it, celebrations on finishing one crusade involve declaring a new crusade, recruits are taken from all the planets they've been on then sent to join the fighting so that they never have to slow, and they usually fight by zerg rushing their enemies with hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of heavily power armoured super humans holding power weapons while screaming a litany of curses at the top of their superhuman lungs. Also unlike other Chapters, they don't have scout teams, as they think they're not righteously angry enough. Instead all new Neophytes (read: meatshields) are given some crap and schooled in the field by a fully appointed Marine (called an "Initiate").
The Black Templars are THE largest loyalist ("codex following") chapter, estimated to have 1000-6000 marines in their ranks. This is primarily because they're scattered through out the galaxy so their approximate number is unknown. This means that their chapter alone could wipe out the weeaboo communists if they were drawn together in one place. Of course this would twist the nipples of the Inquisition and move the setting of 40k along, so don't expect it to happen anytime soon (read: ever). Unfortunately they're unwilling to fight beside psykers except for Grey Knights, they got all buddy/buddy with them fairly quickly, enough so that they willingly shared the STCs for the land raider crusader with them, mind wipes not withstanding of course. They are descended from the Imperial Fists, but obviously got more of Dorn's angry splooge than his patient splooge. They sometimes get to wear cool Crusader helms, though they aren't quite as awesome as the beakies' Corvus helms.
The new space Marines codex has changed several things about the chapter. It now states they worship the Emperor as a God like the larger Imperium and they have close ties with the Ecclesiarchy. This also makes them good friends with the Sisters of Battle, whom they regularly team up with and have several alliances with. Emperor pity the heretics who have to face both of these groups of zealous nutters at once.
Alternatively, you could choose to ignore the fluff in the new codex that says that they worship the Emperor, as it is wrong and demonstrates a clear Ward-like level of disregard for previous, and better, fluff as it also says that out of all Astartes chapters, only the Black Templars worship the Emperor. This contradicts several novels that say the chapters they revolve around worship him. The first that come to mind are James Swallows series on the Blood Angels. THEN there's the fact that Grimaldus, the Black Templars' High Chaplain (you know, guy who knows better than anyone else what they believe), said that they DO NOT worship him in ADB's sequel to Helsreach, Blood and Fire.
Shame the newer fluff decanonizes the old, but advancement is advancement.
- Taking back a hundred planets that were stolen by the blue space socialists after the Ultramarines realized the Tyranids were heading their way and left.
- Launching a 10,000 year crusade as part of their deal during the second founding. Although the Horus Heresy novels have revealed that Sigismund didn't start this voluntarily, he was exiled by Rogal Dorn, and a lot of their more notable traits - like their absolute hatred of psykers - stems from Sigismund's butthurt over how he got exiled in the first place.
- Killing an alien psyker and accidentally blowing out ten billion astropaths in the process,
oopsjust as planned.
- Wiping out countless alien species and actually sparing one alien species that was worshipping "The Voice of the Emperor" when they got there. They only destroyed their temples just in case this voice wasn't talking about who they thought it was.
- Successfully capturing Cypher! Then they were forced at gunpoint to hand him off to the Dark Angels chapter where he almost immediately escapes.
- The Second Siege of Terra! When some crazy ass High Lord of Terra named Goge Vandire usurped all power in Imperium, thinking that he can do everything he wants, he wiped out some Templar fortresses with orbital strikes and when they found out they got all righteous angry! Assisting Sebastian Thor, the Templars gather around a thousand Crusaders and along with some other chapters as well as the Martian techno-guard, and, with all fury, Black Templars wage a frakkin second siege of Terra!
Since the Imperial Fists told Roboute Guilliman to go fuck himself and his Codex, the Black Templars have an organization different from Codex Chapters. They organize themselves into Fighting Companies, with much of it on the fly. Their ranks and positions include:
- High Marshal: The Chapter Master of the Black Templars, who decides which crusades the Black Templars will participate in, without bothering for an okay from the High Lords of Terra. Helbrecht serves as the current High Marshal. Interestingly enough, in their original Codex the High Marshal and regular Marshals typically do not go face to face with the enemy (to the point where Helbrecht never actually touched down in the Third War for Armageddon, he stayed in space dictating the orbital battle), Marshals and High Marshals prefer to stay back assessing the battlefield and advising the various squads through their communicators about where they should strike and shoot to make the most out of their troops.
- Marshal: The commander of a crusade, a Marshal is equivalent to a Captain, they're the ones that lead the individual crusades. When a crusade is called and there is no Marshal to lead it a candidate is chosen from among the sword brethren and if the High Marshall thinks he is fit for the task appointed Marshal. There has only ever been one case of a candidate being rejected by the High Marshall. It is from the ranks of the Marshals that the new High Marshall is picked should he fall in battle.
- Emperor's Champion: Before an undertaking usually during battle preparations, one of the Black Templars may have a vision granted by the Emperor. This knight will be declared by the Chaplains to be the Emperor's Champion, as their founder Sigismund was ten millennia ago. He will be given the Black Sword and the Armour of Faith, and serve as an inspiration to the rest of the Crusading host. As with the first Emperor's Champion, Sigismund, it is the sole duty of those who bear the title to seek out and challenge any enemy champion the crusading force meets in battle. Things usually go badly if a crusade doesn't have an Emperor's Champion. If he is killed before his mission is complete it is considered an ill omen indeed. It is unknown what happens to the knight who is chosen after the completion of a crusade as none have been shown to survive long enough for it to matter. Other chapters, most usually Imperial Fist's successors, occasionally have an Emperor's Champion who serves a similar purpose but without the artifacts.
- Castellan: The lieutenants of the Marshal, a temporary position chosen by the Marshals (one guy cannot be everywhere) and who is a Castellan can vary depending on the current crusade or even the current battle (pick who's best to lead the current fight). The Castellans lead the Fighting Companies of a crusade, and they're also chosen from the Sword Brethren.
- Sergeant: The only Codex rank the Black Templars employ. Also from the Sword Brethren (notice a pattern, yet?).
- Sword Brethren: Roughly analogous to Veterans in Codex Chapters, Sword Brethren are the senior battle brothers of the Marshal. They also get to use Terminator armour.
- Initiates: Rank and file battle-brothers. Marines (typically Neophytes) dying around them has a beneficial effect on Initiates, making them run harder into enemy gunfire for reasons unknown and oft-speculated upon.
- Neophytes: While most Chapters have their neophytes serve in some sort of recon force, the Black Templars have their new Space Marines join the crusade at the front lines and hit the ground running. Given that this has worked for ten thousand years, they may be onto something. Every Neophyte is assigned to an Initiate who is to train and tutor them. The Neophyte serves as the apprentice to the Initiate, sort of like Jedi in Star Wars but the Neophyte gets smacked if they even dare bitch about sand. They are also quite useful to Initiates to use as shields (literally) in battle.
Despite being a Codex Chapter (well, they're a Codex Chapter as of the newest Codex), they basically just cherry pick whatever they want from it. In particular, they're exploiting a loophole in the Codex Astartes that says a crusading Chapter can go above the limit of 1,000 Marines; because they don't have a Fortress Monastery, a disastrous campaign or Warp mishap could destroy the entire Chapter if not for this stipulation. The Black Templars, however, take this to mean "have as many Marines as you want!"
However, it's not actually clear how many Marines they actually have. Some neckbeards (both fanboys and bitter opponents) exaggerate the actual numbers, referring to them as Legion Strength and/or believing that their numbers are literally without limit and end up with ridiculously high guesses. Given the vagaries of in universe time due to warp phenomenon and the inevitable depletion of assets due to the nature of their work the actual number of active templars would be in constant flux.
In Blood and Fire, Grimaldus mentions how they typically have dozens of crusades going on at any point in time, other sources tell us that the Black Templars as an entire Chapter actually consist of a total of three "primary" crusade fleets from which all other fighting companies are split from and deployed on their own "secondary" crusades when necessary, this coincides with the original codex which said that there were usually no more than three crusades at any given time but that they can stretch themselves according to necessity and states that in one exceptional case there were up to fourteen crusades operating in the Segmentum Solar during the Treachery of Dalmark.
If we were to base the numbers off the estimate in the back of the 4th edition Codex: Black Templars, The deployment map totals greater than 6000 marines, with several of those crusades routinely exceeding 500 marines. But when you factor in normal redeployment over the years that number isn't very helpful as many of those crusades were finished by the time others arose. When you consider it like that, many other chapters have deployed en masse over the years and would also generate a similar deployment map. Furthermore, only a handful of crusades numbered relatively close to one thousand, with only Armageddon passing it, with 1,232 Marines total and even that number was questioned (?) by the author; for this campaign, High Marshall Helbrecht was said to have mustered three crusades.
So we can either take it as written in the Order of Battle that the three crusades represent the "normal" three Crusade and hence the entire chapter, giving us an absolute minimum of over 1000 marines, or we can assume that the three crusades are not the primary crusades at all, which still doesn't give us much of an indication of the chapter size, leaving us at square one.
To make things even more confusing, each Crusade will either be accompanied by a Black Sword and a set of the Armour of Faith, to used by the Emperor's Champion. The 4E codex said the every Crusade and Fighting Company would have its own champion, but the 6E Codex and the newer novels changed this older fluff and said that there could only be a single Champion in the entire Chapter at any given time and that only a handful arise every century. Plus there are only ten Black Swords in the Chapter and they are held by the Chaplains just in case they find the Champion within their crusade. This implies that there can only be ten Crusades active at any one time; hence, if the three Crusades at Armageddon are three-tenths of the Chapter's overall size, the Black Templars have between 3,000 and 4,000 Marines.
However, the novel Eternal Crusader flat out says that the whole Chapter could gather together on the Eternal Crusader itself and barely tax the capabilities of the vessel and that "with the mere'" 200 marines of Helbrecht's crusade which contituted one fifth of the Black Templars total forces meant that the vessel was mostly empty; making them far more chapter sized. The book also shows High Marshal Helbrecht purposefully exaggerating the size of his contingent at Armageddon from 400 marines to 900 in order to gain overall command of the Astartes forces that had arrived (many chapters had brought a lot more men than the Templars, and would have had more right to overall command). Helbrecht would later leave Armageddon briefly to muster "more" Black Templars (but only bringing the number up to what he promised), so it is easy to see how the size of his contingent would be misleading to an outside observer.
The old Codex also suggested somewhere between 5000-6000 "if certain accounts are to be believed" which places a level of uncertainty on the number, and if you consider the above statement would sound reasonable if you took Helbrecht at his word about the availability to Black Templar soldiers and could easily show how the Administratum has been misled into thinking the Templars are much larger than they actually are. A-D-B also suggested about 6000 in an offhand comment, therefore it is currently our highest reasonable upper limit without resorting to guesses.
It is perhaps best to repeat Black Library own take on the fluff: 40k is in the fucking dark ages and everything write down could be a legend, propaganda, an event that happened, or a rumor based on a real event. Any guess of the number of marines in the Black Templars is just that, a guess and the books offer only with the novels point of view thinks, or wants you to think, or is himself a fabrications, is happening, has happened, will happen, and what the context around those events is.
For most of their history the Black Templars didn't have any Librarians. This was generally thought as a pretty simple fact, they hate all forms of witches. They even have a special rule call "Abhor the Witch". That was until 6th edition when it was more explicitly stated that they had no real compunction against Astropaths and Navigators, since they were the only people who knew how to drive the massive crusading fleets. The major difference between their codex and 6E is their opinion on other psykers: In previous works, it was made pretty clear that they wouldn't suffer the witch no matter who they were, and as such literally couldn't ally with any other psyker-using force except for the Grey Knights (and even then, it was AoC). Come the 6E Codex however, suddenly all their hatred for every psyker was scaled back to merely just being a hatred to all enemy psykers. Some may call this fluff-rape and all that in their neckbearded RAGE, but others realize that setting up tons of restrictions would ultimately serve to cripple the Templars and ultimately just kept things easier by just generalizing it. No better than having their own codex again, but it's the closest possible alternative for the time being.
So it was changed. The Black Templars hatred is only towards alien and rogue psykers and that they have great respect for the ones in the fleet. So why no Librarians? There are three theories in the codex:
- They still enforce the Edict of Nikaea.
- A gene-seed defect.
- They lost them during The Howling
Meh, they probably just had the sense to realize that an Astartes throwing the same bolts of lightning that a non-Astartes psyker can throw is an Astartes who's not ripping the enemy apart with his holy junk. Leave it to sanctioned psykers amongst the other guy's forces.
Rather hilariously, the Black Templars are not even certain why they don't have Librarians; because the Librarius usually maintains the records of the chapter, the Templars have allowed their understanding of history to fall into decay. One probably imagines that any reports that do get filed end up being thrown into a cupboard somewhere because the Templars are more interested in punching heretics than punching holes in paperwork and collating.
- Sigismund: First Chapter Master/Soul brother who made the chapter when Dorn broke the Legion up.
- High Marshal Helbrecht: Their current Chapter Master. Gets fucked up by Imotekh the Stormlord who proceeds to take his arm as a trophy. Helbrecht then manages to destroy his entire fucking flagship as retaliation. Currently on
a manhunt for Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka alongside Commissar YarrickArmageddon fighting the Ork forces, because the setting actually got dialed BACK to before Ghazghkull had to flee the planet.
- Chaplain Grimaldus: THE most badass Chaplain in the entire Godsdamn Imperium, with the possible exception of Lemartes. He fought the biggest Ork WAAAGH in history on a very old temple that had relics and artifacts that were sacred to the Imperium. The battle only ended after the temple collapsed and buried every Ork and Marine under the rubble. But since Grimaldus was too badass to die, he crawled out of the temple with a few relics he managed to save. And besides the guy has the word grim in his fucking name! How can he not be badass? The main caveat about his description is in his depiction in the book Helsreach, featuring Grimaldus' service in Armageddon leading up to his title as "Hero of Helsreach", where we learn he is equally skilled at tantrum-throwing/sulking, as he is kicking lots of ork ass. But to be fair, this isn't the Grimaldus we know and love as first. Helsreach is about him manning up under constant pressure, him finding he has to stop feeling like he has to be his old boss's bitch all the time and learning to be the butch. He does manage to man up and becomes the badass we all know and love (by the end of things, like, the very last second before a cathedral falls on him and knocks him out and not a second sooner). Plus, he had the stones to do it all WITHOUT A ROSARIUS.
- Tankred: He who endures. Also is partial to bitches.
- High Marshall Ludoldus: A previous High Marshall notable for having led the Templars during two Crusades that were separated by over 2000 years, specifically the Vinculus Crusade (833.M41) and the Jerulas Crusade (645.M39). Considering that he was already High Marshall by the time of Vinculus, one can only conclude that Ludoldus was FUCKING OLD... and totally blows Dante out of the water as the guy even has old in his fucking name.
- Castellan Draco: notable role in the Vinculus crusade, notably in killing Inquisitor Lord Vinculus after he got possessed, but not after his own losses; that is, he got buried in rubble after lacing the cult's massive fortress with explosives. For his valiant efforts, he got his lost parts replaced with bionics, a relic suit of armour and Lord Vinculus' sword.
- Marshal Judge Dredd: He is the LAW!
- Marshal Magneric See Tankred above imagine if he was in command of his own crusade. Unlike most dreadnoughts he still kept his name and rank and rarely slept which made him into a crazy fanatic (and implied to be the source of the religious zeal) spends most of his days hunting his old BFF Warsmith Kalkator until orks of The Beast showed up.
Daily Rituals of a Black Templar
Think Angry Marines but with less copious cursing.
- 03:50: Morning Call to Prayer: Initiates awaken their respective Neophytes from their comfortable slumber on bare stone floors. This often involves buckets of ice water, vox-casters playing hymns with the volume control knob broken off, or a power armor shod foot up the ass depending on the Initiate in question. Complaints that this awakening occurred ten minutes prior to scheduled reveille are met with readmistration of the waking aid.
- 04:00: Morning Prayer: Neophytes are berated for their perceived failings by their responsible Initiates, who are in turn berated by the Sword Brethren, the Sword Brethren by the Castellans, up to the Marshal who berates the entire Fleet then swears a solemn vow to an icon of the Emperor that they will do better and prove themselves worthy by stabbing heretics in the throat with their swords. Tactics may also be discussed and orders of battle issued, assuming they involve rushing headlong at the enemy.
- 05:00: Morning Firing Rites: The Initiates school their apprentices on the art of shooting xenos in the face while simultaneously swinging a chainsword. This shooting preferably occurs while rushing across the active firing range in order to close with the target and hit it with the bolt pistol if possible.
- 07:00: Morning Battle Practice: Initiates inform their neophytes that if they are done being cowardly whelps they may now avail themselves of a sword with which to stab shit.
- 11:55: Milk and cookies break. Any neophytes stupid enough to drink milk or eat cookies in front of their Initiate gets their meal pushed in their noses and eyeballs respectively. Things get interesting if they dipped their cookies in their milk.
- 12:00: Midday Prayer: Neophytes are told how poorly they did during the morning exercises, any sense of pride or joy is rooted out. The Marshal leads the Fleet in prayer and promises the Emperor they will kill more things even more righteously this afternoon.
- 13:00: Midday Meal: The chapter serfs provide cold cuts for the Brothers' enjoyment. Lunchmeat is usually collected by the serfs following each battle and stored in the ships' freezers. Naturally, Neophytes do not get something to eat yet as the Initiates insult them for even assuming they get to eat. The Neophytes soon learn that the Emperor has a sense of humor when the Initiates are informed that only Sword Brethren on up are allowed to eat.
- 13:15: Tactical Indoctrination: Locations of the vital organs and blood vessels of xenos species that may be encountered on the current Crusade are reviewed, occasionally an Initiate will cuff his Neophyte on the back of the head and reiterate "Yes that, you stab that retard." Other tactics may also be discussed as long as they involve inserting blades into things.
- 14:00: Afternoon Battle Practice: Initiates attempt to kill their Neophyte with a power sword. If the Neophyte is not dead in four hours he passes muster.
- 18:00: Evening Firing Rites: Neophytes are instructed in how to operate heavy and specialty weaponry dropped by their responsible Initiate when he abandons it so that he may swing his sword with both hands to better kill shit or is eaten by a monstrous creature which he bravely (read:stupidly) tried to skullfuck in CQC.
- 20:00: Evening Prayer: After short session of critique and berating, the Emperors' Champion leads a sermon about how awesome the Emprah is and how much He wants them to bifurcate/decapitate the current heretics/mutants/xenos they are fighting with power weapons.
- 21:00: Evening Meal: A feast is served by the chapter serfs. Alcohol and anything that has a pleasant taste will not be consumed as the Emperor looks down on those that enjoy life. No hamburger, no cheeseburgers, no french fries, no milkshakes, no potato chips; you will drink water distilled from the Fleet's waste/reactor AND LIKE IT!
- 21:30: Night-fighting/zero-gravity exercises: Initiates instruct their charges on stabbing things by the glow of a power sword and how to fight in a zero-gravity environment without jump packs (stab foe, use corpse as a springboard to assault another foe, repeat).
- 23:15: Sharpen your shit you incompetent, the Emperor reserves great disdain for those that kill heretics with dull blades.
- 23:45: Free time: The Initiate is free to challenge his Neophyte to a short duel. Wounds heal better during sleep anyway.
- 00:00 Rest period: The Initiate sees his Neophyte off to bed, with one last punch to the face to help him fall asleep. The Sword Brethren then punch the Initiates in the face before they retire for rest period.
Note that this constitutes a day off for a Black Templar. A working day will involve 23 hours of rushing monstrous creatures with melee weapons. Neophytes are expected to pull bullet sponge duty so the Initiate is not distracted by little things like enemy gunfire (and that their spilled blood will allow the Initiates to glide on the ground to their enemy faster) as seen here:
Black Templar Combat Training
Brother-Initiate Teuton McTemplar: "Neophyte, get your ass over here and hold my Lascannon while I charge that Carnifex with my Power Fist!"
Neophyte Random'O'Germansoundingname: "But sir I have not yet earned my power armour and a Lascannon weighs 100 kilos..."
Brother-Initiate Teuton McTemplar: "You are going to pick up that spotlight and burn some fucking xenos, and you are going to like it!"
Note: It would be nice if this could happen, but in reality, you can only arm Neophytes with shotguns or bolt pistols with CCWs, though you were able to arm an initiate with both a Lascannon and a Power Fist in their original codex. Hilariously too you could go completely overboard and have one marine armed with a Power fist, three bolt pistols (or two bolt pistols and a bolter), a Chainsword, a Power Weapon, a Heavy Bolter, a Missile Launcher (or a Multi-Melta), a Lascannon, and a Plasma Cannon ALL AT THE SAME TIME (though while funny is still a terrible thing to put on the battlefield as he can still only fire one per turn, pistols notwithstanding). Talk about a jack of all trades...