The Dreadnoughts which serve the Deathwatch are different from the "standard" Space Marine Dreadnoughts in some respects and are thus, 'special'. First, unlike other Marines who are seconded to the Deathwatch, Dreadnoughts are separated from their parent Chapters forever, as they take on the Long Vigil. Secondly, they may wield unconventional combinations of weaponry or equipment (read: advanced Necron and Eldar tech that is so heretical it would give a member of the Mechanicus a brain aneurysm), to exploit the weaknesses of a particular Xenos foe.
As rare as it is for a Space Marine to be interred inside a METAL BAWKS, it is even rarer for a Space Marine from the Deathwatch, an organization so hardcore they tend even more to fight on when wounded until actually killed, to be given the dubious honor of being interred in one. The circumstances of the small unit actions undertaken by kill-teams often make it impossible or too dangerous to retrieve a fatally injured battle-brother and inter them within a sarcophagus in time to be transported to a fortress. Even if this is achieved, the Space Marine must be worthy and willing to remain with the Deathwatch, effectively renewing their vows to serve with the Watch in perpetuity. Finally, permission must be sought and received from the Space Marine's own Chapter that he may remain with the Deathwatch.
The Deathwatch possesses only a handful of Dreadnoughts in fortresses scattered across the galaxy, and many Old Ones (No, not those Old Ones) are preserved for their unique knowledge of ripping apart the myriad of xenos that the Imperium has fought in the millennia. Apart from possessing the deadly combination of hatred, experience and machine hardiness, the Deathwatch Dreadnoughts are sometimes used as repositories of lore, archives for the ghosts of old campaigns against extinct xenos and Kill-team operations of centuries past. The value of the Old One's knowledge to the Deathwatch cannot be underestimated. Across the vast volumes of space overseen by the Deathwatch, contact with some species of alien can come centuries apart, making an eyewitness to previous encounters invaluable. On other occasions warp storms will slacken to reveal whole systems unseen by man for millennia but still remembered by the Old Ones that fought there long ago. In the past, xenos thought long extinct (AKA hiding in the vastness of space) have emerged from the dust to assail humankind once more, and the Old Ones have been able to vividly recall every detail of them, every strength and weakness they revealed and each blow struck to lay them low. In all of these circumstances an Old One can bring incredible clarity and sharp-eyed perspective to the dry reports and corrupted records that can be unearthed from musty data-vaults.
Most Deathwatch Dreadnoughts follow the traditional weapon configurations handed down over uncounted centuries, like the Deredeo with its power claws and heavy flamers, or the Furibundus with its twin-linked lascannon and Cyclone missile launcher. At times of special need, however, Deathwatch Forge Masters have created many of their own armament variants based on these sacred designs but more suited to exceptional environments and particular xenos foes. In ages past, Deathwatch Dreadnoughts have been equipped with siege hammers expressly for the purpose of overcoming Ork fortifications, outfitted with quad autocannons for bringing down Eldar raiders and mounted with additional flamer batteries for clearing Hrud warrens.
A Kill-team blessed with Dreadnought support can face some unique challenges. A silent approach, for example, becomes almost impossible without extensive use of Stummers or other specialist equipment. The local terrain must also be capable of supporting the tremendous weight of the machine. In practice a Dreadnought is commonly kept in reserve, coordinating operations from an orbiting vessel. Once the enemy has been located the Dreadnought is normally inserted directly into combat via drop pod, Thunderhawk gunship or teleportarium to let it rip.
|Forces of the Deathwatch|
|Command:||Forge Master - Keeper - Deathwatch Chaplain |
Watch Captain - Watch Master - Deathwatch Epistolary
|Troops:||Deathwatch First Company Veteran - Deathwatch Champion |
Terminator Squad - Veteran Squad - Kill Team - Kill Marine
|Walkers:||Venerable Dreadnought - Deathwatch Dreadnought|
|Vehicles:||Bike Squad - Rhino - Razorback |
Land Raider (Land Raider Redeemer - Land Raider Crusader)
|Spacecraft:||Kill-Ship - Boarding Torpedo |
Drop Pod - Space Marine Landing Craft
|Allies:||Space Marines - Primaris Marines|