|Battle Cry||"By the blood of Sanguinius!"
"For the Emperor and Sanguinius!"
|Successor Chapters||Angels Encarmine
Blood Swords (claimed otherwise in Codex: Blood Angels 5th Edition...by Matt Ward, so take that as you will)
Knights of Blood
|Specialty||Rapid assaults, being blonde|
|Colours||Red with black detailing|
"Man is neither angel nor beast, and the misfortune is that he who would act the angel acts the beast."
— Blaise Pascal
The Blood Angels were the 9th Space Marine Legion created by the Emperor. They are so named because of their tendency to use blood as a central symbol of their particular warrior-monk rituals, and because of their susceptibility to the Red Thirst, a wild bloodlust that arises in them during battle. If he fails to control his Red Thirst, a Blood Angel may succumb to the Black Rage (the Grimdarkest of Daddy Issues), after which he becomes a completely insane killing machine with no regard for his own safety who will try to destroy the Emperor's foes even if all he has left is a bloody stump of one leg. This has led to the Blood Angels being viewed as basically vampires IN SPEHSS, and unfortunately as the Team Edward to the Space Wolves' Team Jacob. If you are not already completely indignant, see the second image at the bottom of the page for additional rage. We'll wait. …...Yeah, how much does that blow? Here's the good news, though: that's pretty much the only thing that sucks (PUN) about the Blood Angels. Everything else is awesome apart maybe from 'nipple' armour, but the rest is all cool, angelic and bloody and all.
The cause of the Black Rage basically amounts to the most epic case of an absent-daddy complex ever; you see, during the Horus Heresy, the Blood Angels' Primarch, Sanguinius, was slain by Horus himself just before the Emperor destroyed Horus. This subsequently fucked up the mental stability of all future generations of Blood Angels, and when one of them is overtaken by the Black Rage, he literally believes he is Sanguinius and relives in vivid detail the final battle with Horus and his traitor legions at the Battle of Terra. It's sorta kinda like having a fit, while listening to My Chemical Romance, wearing black\red and cutting, just with a marginal increase in skullfucking.
Oh, and Hive Fleet Leviathan is coming to devour their homeworld Baal while it is also being attacked by a Khornate army led by their ancient enemy, the Bloodthirster Ka'bandha. But since the Blood Angels aren't stuck-up pansies like the Ultramarines, this isn't that big of a deal.
History and Background Fluff
The Blood Angels' Primarch was Sanguinius, who was best known for being a pretty Mutant, a charismatic guy with a bad temper that made him look like Satan, and he was apparently a total bro. Basically, to the Space Marine legions and the rest of the Primarchs, he was This Guy. They all loved him. Even Horus, after he fell to Chaos, lamented that Sanguinius in particular was no longer by his side. He also had a pair of huge, angel-like wings; no one is sure if this had something to do with the radiation on Baal or if he just came out of his birthing pod like that, but the citizens of Baal nearly killed him for it when he was found at the site now known as Angel's Fall. (Emprah have mercy on anyone who uses the m-word around the Blood Angels, though.) Many of the Blood Angels imitate the power and majesty of their beloved Primarch's wings by focusing on jump pack assaults, so the Blood Angels and their successor chapters doctrinally see a lot more Assault Squads than the typical Space Marine army. Their current Chapter Master is Dante, the oldest non-Dreadnought-interred loyalist Space Marine in history.
They had a brotherly rivalry with the World Eaters (if only the Imperial Fists/Iron Warriors and Ultramarines/Word Bearers could have managed that…) which got pretty messy when the Horus Heresy started. Also, they are one of the only chapters that can call on its successor chapters and reasonably expect more than just a courtesy call back, even the ones that don't like them all that much. The only other ones that we can find who can do that are the Dark Angels (for obvious reasons) and the Ultramarines. This is pretty justified for the Blood Angels, as all Blood Angel descendants are united by the twin curses/blessings of Sanguinius. So you mess with one of them too much, you might just get an entire legion attacking you. Or if it were during the Time of Ending, you might get them to unite to defend their ancestral homeworld, Baal.
The Blood Angels' themes and motifs are drawn from vampire and Faustian mythology as well as some Catholic traditions. They commonly fly (with jump packs), are eternally youthful, drink blood, and sleep in coffins. They are also noted for naturally living longer on average than the Marines of any other chapter. When a Blood Angel dies, a Sanguinary Priest (what they call their Apothecaries) extracts his gene-seed using a device called an exsanguinator. When it comes time to implant it in an Initiate, the Initiate must receive it by drinking from a Blood Chalice ('insanguination'), which also contains the essence of Sanguinius. The story of Mephiston, the Blood Angels' chief librarian, closely parallels the legend of Faust, a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in return for great knowledge and power (hell, he's named after the manifestation of the devil in the story, Mephistopheles or Mephisto). The names of their special characters and vehicles have an Italian flavor—Dante, the Furioso Dreadnought, Brother Corbulo. Corbulo, known as the chapter's High Sanguinary Priest, carries the Red Grail, which contains the blood of Sanguinius himself. Also, do we have to point out that the word 'sanguis' literally means 'blood' in Latin? Well, there you go.
In times of dire need, they are aided by the Sanguinor, a guy who seems to be a Blood Angel in a more literal sense. Maybe he's some psychic manifestation of the Chapter. Maybe he's a ghost of Sanguinius. Nobody knows. The important thing is that he enjoys piledriving Bloodthirsters from space, killing Eldar Avatars, and killing a bunch of Night Lords, saving Dante's life in the process as it was otherwise a textbook suicide mission, a redemptive one, to be specific. In recent Black Library tales he appeared to lead Blood Angels brethren in a heroic last stand against Hive Fleet Leviathan, where the squad sergeant punched a hole in a Carnifex's chest after being impaled, allowing the rest of his squad to live. He took off after that, but not after he managed to renew the Astartes' faith in humanity.
The Blood Angels took the establishment of the Codex Astartes as official Space Marine doctrine with notably less bitching than other chapters due to the death of their Primarch and the onset of the Black Rage. They follow the strictures of the Codex as far as they see wisdom in it: the chapter is comprised of a thousand Blood Angels and divided into ten companies, each of which is headed by a captain. The First Company is comprised of veterans, and the Tenth Company is comprised of Scouts and Neophytes who have not yet become full Marines. Obviously though, none of the blood rituals and other weird shit is Codex-approved.
Like their brethren in the Raven Guard though, the Blood Angels have a natural predilection for using jump packs and their own free will (as opposed to blindly following the Codex). Due to their chapter's curse, they have had to tweak things a bit; once they complete their training as Scouts, Blood Angels immediately go into Assault Squads rather than Devastator Squads, as the Codex Astartes would have it, though not only because of these little scamps' brashness. The constant close combat also allows Blood Angel officers to identify the noobs who can control their Red Thirst as well as those who cannot, and thereafter keep tabs on the latter group. Devastator Squads in the Blood Angels Chapter are reserved for Marines who have better control of the Red Thirst than most, because heavy fire support isn't very useful when the people providing it have psychopathic ADD.
The few Blood Angels that decide they don't like jumping like maniacs into swarms of enemies, and instead prefer biking like maniacs into swarms of enemies, are regarded as some of the best biker Marines in the Imperium, following closely behind the White Scars and the Dark Angels' Ravenwing.
Tools of the Trade
Blood Angels are known throughout the Imperium to be master artisans. Their long lifespans allow them time to perfect whatever trade they set their mind too, whether they are crafting the infamous, hand-sculpted artificer 'nipple' armour, bolters worth more than an Imperial hive city, or even if they're simply painting vehicles and power armour. The philosophy behind this practice is that you cannot hope to know the value of what you're fighting for if you cannot understand its beauty.
Blood Angels are also known for their prevalent use of flamers and melta weapons. While they don't employ them as plentifully as the Salamanders do, they are nearly as masterfully constructed. The Sons of Sanguinius have taken a liking to the hand flamer, which gives them the assault capability of a flamer, but leaves their sword arm free to use in close combat. Heavy flamers can also be found in many of their Tactical Squads as an assault deterrent as well as on the side sponsons of Baal Predators to compliment the Flamestorm Cannon, which ruins any infantry unit's day.
They also reeeeeeally like the Infernus pistol. Nearly everyone has one, including the Chapter Master.
The aforementioned Baal Predator is a unique tank manufactured by the Blood Angels. It is an anti-infantry assault tank equipped with twin-linked assault cannons and heavy flamers that was acquired in a pre-heresy campaign that nearly broke all their relationships with the Mechanicus. Even to this day, things are still a bit touchy. Luckily, the Techmarines of the chapter quickly reverse engineered the overcharged "Lucifer-class" engines onto nearly all their vehicles.
The Blood Angels' de facto relic weapons are called Glaive Encarmines—'glaive' apparently meaning 'sword' in this case rather than the halberd-type weapon it's associated with. They're made out of a mono-filament metal called 'angel-steel' and are purportedly so perfectly crafted that they never bend or warp. The secrets to their manufacture are jealously guarded by their Artificers. This is represented by their master-crafted universal special rule. They come in two flavors, a Carmine Sword or a Carmine Axe.
The Red Thirst, The Black Rage, and You!
The Blood Angels and their successor chapters have a genetic defect in their gene-seed known euphemistically as "The Flaw". It seems to have much more representation in the fluff than in the crunch, but that's standard fare for a life-threatening, damnation-courting mutation that can pop up at any time.
The Red Thirst is what makes the Blood Angels space vampires,
or Team Edward *BLAM* PURGE THE UNCOMFORTABLE THEMATIC PARALLELS OF POPULAR CULTURE!
The Red Thirst has been a part of being a Blood Angel since the Great Crusade. Sanguinius went to great lengths to hide it from the Emperor for fear of being expunged from the Imperium, although odds are that the Emperor already knew. He even introduced Chaplains to the Blood Angels legions before the Edict of Nikaea, not just to monitor psykers, but to look out for brothers who might be giving into their bloodlust.
In the lore the general effect is that the Red Thirst makes a Blood Angel an Angry Marine with a thirst for actual goddamn blood. Thus most Blood Angel Chaplains require certification for anger management therapy before they get the job. Their duty is to ensure that the assorted Marines are not showing signs of bloodlust, and to throw them into a battle if they are so they can stave off total madness a bit longer. However, all battle-brothers who suffer the effects of the Flaw long enough will eventually become overrun with their rather literal thirst for vengeance, succumbing to the Black Rage. After this, their lives will consist of utterly suicidal front-line charges to rip and tear the enemy as much as possible, before they are eventually receive an honorable death in combat against the Emperor's foes. Those unlucky enough to survive to the end of the battle will either be given the Emperor's Peace by Astorath, or imprisoned within the Tower of the Lost as a hopeless, dribbling maniac until they are required on the field of battle once more.
Some chapters are more susceptible than others. The imaginatively named "Blood Drinkers" are notorious amongst their allies for allegedly leaving exsanguinated corpses wherever they show up. On the upside, Blood Drinkers are one of the few chapters who have tangible rules regarding how they handle the Red Thirst: if they have recently sated themselves, they gain a boost to WS, and suffer penalties to morale checks if they refrain from feeding.
On the tabletop, this has historically been changed in every single incarnation of the rules as GW continually changed their minds over how the Thirst should be represented; in 7th edition, they just give the flat bonus of Furious Charge to everything (including dreadnoughts); but if you get a bunch of Blood Angels together in the correct FOC or formation, then they also get +1 to Initiative when charging (á la old-school Furious Charge), which is a very strong advantage. In 6th edition, Red Thirst had the odd consequence of occasionally making a unit Fearless and Furious Chargers if they give into the temptation, though independent characters had enough control over themselves that they were mostly immune, with a few exceptions. Going further back, into 3rd edition, the Red Thirst made a bit more sense and was something to actually be wary of, as your units had a potential to lose control at the thought of blood and move out of position towards the enemy. This really wasn't fun, especially if your Devastator Squads didn't pull that critical round of shooting.
On the other hand, the Black Rage is the Red Thirst's angrier, more troublesome brother. You know, the one who dresses in black all the time, and who shows up at random times to complicate your life and embarrass your family. It's a terminal state in which the battle brother has not only succumbed to the Red Thirst, but has had a total psychotic breakdown. Or if you're feeling particularly poetic: it's the psychic scream of a dying demi-god that got stuck in his progeny.
Battle-brothers who succumb to the Black Rage are overcome with visions of Blood Angel battles during the Horus Heresy, and a few even imagine themselves to be Sanguinius battling Horus on his battle barge. This of course has the unfortunate side effect of making them completely lose touch with reality, fighting a battle that they can never ever win since the outcome of the hallucinations has already occurred. On the plus side though, their disconnection with what is going on around them turns them into immensely powerful warriors, since each and every one of them believe in some way that they are Sanguinius.
Long story short, a Marine afflicted with the Black Rage will become even angrier than an Angry Marine, and with even less self-control. If this happens in a war zone, they are quietly organized into small squads and their armor is painted black by a chaplain before the worst of the hallucinations take over. If they aren't killed in battle or get off the leash somehow, Astorath will come and execute them on the battlefield since no other Blood Angel has the stomach (or outright skill) to kill his own battle brothers.
The Death Company is a group of Blood Angels on the battlefield who are afflicted by the Black Rage. Every force of Blood Angels and their successor chapters has one, though some are more susceptible than others, which makes those chapters' responses to the occurrence of Black Rage quite varied. The Flesh Tearers and the renegade Knights of Blood chapters both have an uncanny predilection for all-out, balls-to-the-wall assault—hoping to die in battle honorably before the rage takes them. In the Knights of Blood's case, they fought with the zeal of the Black Templars, the fury of the World Eaters, and the excess of the Marines Malevolent in such a perfect way that they got kicked out of the cool kids club and branded renegades for their excess collateral damage against allied forces. The Flesh Tearers very nearly joined that shit list, and were only forgiven by the Blood Angels when Astorath personally intervened on their behalf, citing that their brutality would be a necessity in the near future.
On the tabletop, this essentially allows you to bring a squad of Khorne Berserkers without the Khorne, but with more customization options. You can also take several squads if Astorath has shown up, as he always seems to know where and when his brothers will succumb.
As with the Red Thirst, GW keep changing the rules with these guys; nowadays you can purchase units of Death Company as Elite choices for your army at a not-insignificant cost, whilst in 6th they were Troops, but were so far down the path of being drooling lunatics that they couldn't hold objectives, and you could only have one squad unless Astorath was watching. In ancient times, it used to happen spontaneously for free, and you had to roll for squads at the start of battle, potentially losing members of squads you already paid for to bulk up your Death Company, which made fluff-sense. But at least you chose which model to take off, and sending a veteran sergeant to the Death Company was the only way of giving power weapon/fists (excluding the chaplain) to the squad. Losing a Termie or tooled-up honour guard made you cry though...
UPDATE: As of the 6th edition rulebook, Blood Angels and Necrons are Desperate Allies. For reference, Necrons can form the exact same alliance with the Black Templars. This implies that the whole scenario with the Necrons and the 'Nids was part of the then-upcoming Necron fluff change wherein the Necrons went from omnicidal kill bots to an actual empire capable of politics and forming alliances
UPDATE ver 2.0: As of 7th edition the entire allies matrix was rewritten. ALL Imperium forces are Come The Apocalypse with Necrons now.
Daily rituals of the Blood Angels
0400 - Reveille - The Blood Angels are roused from their coffins to start the day.
0410 - Grooming - The Blood Angels take the time to comb their hair and brush their teeth. Special attention is given to their fangs. Even more special attention is given to their long, flowing, golden hair.
0430 - Morning meal - A light meal is prepared by the chapter serfs for the Blood Angels. Consuming a chapter serf is explicitly prohibited.
0500 - Morning prayer.
0600 - Morning firing rituals - The Blood Angels assemble for target practice. Due to an ancient clerical error, the Blood Angels are in possession of an excessive amount of a heretical series of books from the pre-Imperial days of Terra called the Twilight Saga, which they use for target practice by the thousands.
0700 - Battle practice - The Blood Angels begin practice in the battle cages. Frequently, the Blood Angels will forgo their bolters for melee weapons. The usage of fangs in combat is considered heresy. Using fangs to drink blood is extra Khornate heresy.
1200 - Midday meal - The Blood Angels consume a light meal made for them by the chapter serfs. The chapter serfs are still explicitly off the menu.
1300 - Deep strike training - The Blood Angels practice their deep strike maneuvers. Pretending to fly like a bat is heresy. Transforming into a bat or black mist to fly is extra Tzeentchian heresy.
1600 - Evening firing rituals. During this time, several Blood Angels also practice the shooting style of a legendary Terran gunslinger known as Nosferatu Alucard, a proto-Blood Angel who was said to have slain thousands of daemons alone using only two blessed stub pistols.
1655 - Milk and Cookies Break. Drinking blood instead of milk or dipping cookies in milk is Strictly banned. Doing both is considered heresy.
1700 - Staring contests - Dumbasses who want to challenge Chief Librarian Mephiston to a menacing staring contest do so now. Usually it's just the neophytes who don't know any better.
1715 - Round up - Staring contests end, and those who went mad while staring into Mephiston's eyes must be tracked down in the fortress-monastery and culled.
1730 - Evening prayer.
1900 - Evening meal - A feast is prepared by the chapter serfs, usually of animals who were killed during the deep strike training. The chapter serfs may be consumed depending on how good the first two meals were. Using the Red Grail in drinking contests is explicitly prohibited by order of the Sanguinary Priests.
2000 - Free time - The Blood Angels are allowed a few hours of free time to do as they please. Some reflect on their duty to the Emperor and the deeds of Sanguinius. Others play vidya games. Some just pose moodily and bare-chested in front of a mirror. Still others will engage in artistic activities. A GOOD vampire movie is often shown for the Blood Angels' entertainment.
0000 - Rest - The Blood Angels retire to their coffins for the evening.
Notable Members of the Blood Angels
- Sanguinius - Primarch. Snaps Bloodthirster spines over his knee and decapitates Keepers of Secrets for the lulz.
- Meros - Apothecary during the Horus Heresy. Sacrificed himself so that Sanguinius could righteously fuck up a Keeper of Secrets
- Dante - Current Chapter Master. Dude's mad old and prefers not to mention anything about having a Necron's cell phone number.
- Mephiston - Chief Librarian and resident rape train. Scariest motherfucker this side of the Eye of Terror.
- Corbulo - High Sanguinary Priest.
- Astorath - Keeper of Sanctity and the dude who kills Death Company nutjobs when they nutjob too hard.
- Karlaen - 1st Company captain and total bro. Has a model thanks to 7E's Deathstorm Box.
- Donatos Aphael- 2nd company captain.
- Erasmus Tycho - 3rd company captain. Proof that Your dudes has a reason to exist.
- Moriar the Chosen - Matt Ward's excuse for making generic Death Company Dreadnoughts a thing.
- Rafen - Longest living Blood Angel mook in any of the Blood Angels book series.
- Sanguinor - May or may not be Sanguinius reborn...or Azkaellon...or a warp entity created by the longings of the Blood Angels...or all three together...DAMMIT! IT'S COMPLICATED.