Emperor's Nightmare

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Emperor's Nightmare
Updated Owlglass.png
Battle Cry No Rest! No Remorse! No Retreat!
Founding 23rd, The Sentinel Founding (ca. M38)
Successors of Raven Guard
Successor Chapters None
Chapter Master Randolphus
Primarch Corax
Homeworld Icelus
Strength Nominal
Allegiance Imperium
Colours Purple and Gold / Dark Purple and Black or Camouflage
We now have an IRC channel we can use to discuss the chapter in the safety of a stable environment. Go to irc://irc.thisisnotatrueending.com/emperors-nightmare if you want to contribute. Password is hooty.
Any and all playtesters willing to test out the crunch are greatly appreciated

The Segmentum Tempestus, the Imperium's southern domain, is a vast swathe of the galaxy and home to countless planets and people. A centre of religion, a bulwark against the evils which threaten the Imperium, and a front for the ceaseless war for the survival of mankind. Every day worlds change hands, the ravening hordes within and without wrenching systems from the Imperium's embrace, and the Emperor's vengeful soldiers pulling more worlds into it. But within the Segmentum there are planets which shall never fall, systems which stand eternally in the Emperor's light. One such planet is Icelus, a well-defended world and a staging point for the surrounding system. The guardians of Icelus, the Emperor's Nightmares, stand ready to repel any and all attacks to the sector. This is their vocation, their eternal duty, and they shall abide by it until the end of time.

A successor of the Raven Guard chapter, the Emperor's Nightmare bear the curse of a bizarre mutation within their gene seed. The Catalepsean Node, the organ which aids the Adeptus Astartes in keeping combat-ready regardless of fatigue, is in a state of decay. This means the Nightmares cannot sleep for months on end, before suddenly and unconditionally falling to slumber. This has influenced the Nightmares' tactics, as each battle brother must be able to take over from their fellows at a moment's notice. Their Raven Guard heritage is a major contributing factor too, the stealthy doctrine of their parents but clashing with their love of shock and awe warfare. This all mixes into a chapter with a strange divergence of warfare.

Fluffy bits[edit]

Chapter Banner of the Emperor's Nightmare, displaying the escutcheons of both Battlegroups alongside the chapter's "Owlglass" symbol.
The Emperor's Nightmare chapter was founded in the 38th Millennium, on the Hive World of Icelus as a successor Chapter to the vaunted Raven Guard. They have taken to their progenitor's talent for stealth in the duty to the Emperor. Oddly enough, their gene seed bears a strange Catalepsean Node mutation that causes long bouts of sleeplessness alternating with long fugue-like rests. This mutation would almost be unremarkable except for the chapter's close connection to the Scholastica Psykana. It is said that these Marines continue to fight on even in their long rests battling the machinations of the Warp alongside the Psykana. Some Marines even awaken to claim to have fought side by side with the Emperor himself. These claims have attracted the attention of certain members of the Inquisition, and not always for the better...
Their first and only Chapter Master is Randolphus, a former Raven Guard Captain. After single-handedly slaying a Tzeentchian daemon prince, he was nominated as the Chapter Master of this new force. He is entombed in a dreadnought sarcophagus at the Fortress Monastery of Betten-Burgen and cannot be roused from his slumber. The Wake, a council of senior marines (not necessarily captains, as it cannot be guaranteed that they will be awake at any given time) governs the chapter's day to day activities. Chief among these are the August Dreamwalkers In Iron--Venerable dreadnoughts that are said to be fighting chaos in their dreams, aided by chapter librarians as well as Scholastica psykers and diviner serfs.
The Emperor's Nightmare are greatly respected on their homeworld. Purple and yellow are the regal colors of Icelus, and only the planetary governor and the noble families closest to the court may wear clothes with those colors. On festive occasions, the hives fly great banners of purple and gold, and a procession on Emperor's day is always accompanied by a few Nightmares from Primus Company. This has led to the color purple being named "Astarte" in local dialect and, when the inhabitants refer to the stars, it is 'gleaming yellow on a curtain of deep purple.' The colors have become a metaphor for space, and the universe itself. They are also used to dress the PDF. The members are mostly just paraded around in their eccentric, regal hats with purple feathers, but their appearance belies their talent; each man is also trained to the highest standards and overseen by members of the Emperor's Nightmares themselves.
Every few years when it comes time for the Nightmares to recruit, the many Aspirants are gathered in the Main Hive, and stripped of all possessions besides their clothes. After making sure all of them start off equally, the Nightmares give their recruits two tasks. The first is to retrieve a rare Terran flower brought by settlers when Icelus was first colonized, and the second is to bring the undamaged flower to their Fortress-Monastery many leagues away through the barren wastes of Icelus. As the Nightmares prize guile, cunning, and sharp perceptions, they feel that simply asking their recruits to reach the Monastery is too light a task. They are given no further instructions, but centuries upon centuries of practice have cemented the unofficial rules and image of the plant. Do anything and everything to get the flower and reach their destination. Many nobles gift their sons flowers early, while other lower class families save up for decades to afford a single bulb, to which they gift their children in the hopes of great glory. Theft of shops and of the other Aspirants is encouraged, and all the while in the hive, the local Administratum along with an Emperor's Nightmare Chaplain and Apothecary scrutinize data, subtly making the challenges more and more difficult. Gangs are provided with caches of weaponry weeks beforehand, and rivalries are stoked. Automated doors are locked or unlocked at the command of the Nightmares. Entire sections of the Hive are sent into disarray as short power outages distract and harry the young men.
Once the Aspirants leave the Hive, the Nightmares keep an eye on their possible brothers through satellites, though they are now out of reach from direct meddling. Any Aspirant who has not retrieved their flower by now still possesses a chance of finding a bulb in the harsh wastes, though this possibility is slim at best.


The organizational breakdown of the Emperor's Nightmares.
See also: Forces of the Emperor's Nightmare
Chapter Master Randolphus
The First and Only. Originally a Captain of the Nightmare's parent chapter, Randolphus assumed the position of Chapter Master when the Emperor's Nightmare was founded. He is still alive within a dreadnought sarcophagus, but his mind has been stolen by Tzeentchian sorcery, and the chapter invests great efforts to find and return it to him.
The Wake
The council of viziers that commands the chapter until such time as Randolphus' mind can be returned to him. It is nominally comprised of the two Lords Adjutant, the Chief Apothecary, Master of Sanctity, Chief Librarian, Master of the Forge and five of the Night Owls Venerable Dreadnoughts for a total of 11 voting members. However, meetings at full strength are so rare as to be worthy of note in the annals, since such a gathering is dependent upon all viziers being awake at the same time. Usually, Resting viziers are substituted for by trusted associates, though it has on occasion come to pass that so many viziers and associates were resting at the same time that marines further down the chain of command (though usually still of veteran rank) were called upon to fill the seats.
In addition to their normal duties they are primarily charged with keeping as many members of the chapter's circadian rhythms stable as possible. They must be able to recognize the signs of the Sleeplessness early on. The five or six Apothecary dreadnoughts in the chapter work in pairs to herd units of the Sleepless brothers into battle and carry heavy duty sedatives to subdue them should they turn on their own. Leading the Apothecarion is Chief Apothecary Eidelan. Eidelan is blessed within the Chapter, for his Catalepsean Node has not sustained any degradation. This means his circadian rhythm is like any other Space Marines', a subject of envy within the Emperor's Nightmare. However, rumours abound that Eidelan in fact envies his fellows, being unable to attain the heights of dexterity and awareness everyone else in his chapter can. This is said to be the reason why he is so intent on the Sleepless, and no one can doubt he bears an interest bordering on obsession with these tragic warriors.
A Chaplain of the Emperor's Nightmare with dreamcatcher charms.
Considering the chapter the chaplains are actually pretty normal. They are responsible for carrying the chapter's relics into battle and for maintaining the Nightmares' ties to their homeworld and traditions. Unsurprisingly the light of the Astronomicon features heavily in their dogma.
Shepherds, guiding the dreamers. Loremasters and scryers. They project their minds into the immaterium to safeguard their dreamer brothers and to act as messengers between the real world and minds dreaming in the warp.
In addition to normal duties they are tasked, for the chapter's safety, to halfway deconstruct each Waking Dead Dreadnought between battles. (These are stripped of their weaponry and power sources and are trapped within the calm, night-like blackness of the sarcophagus.)
This metallic quartered scheme is the generally accepted livery of Battlegroup Primus. (DOW2 colors: Primary: Abyssal Purple, Secondary: Shining Gold, Trim: Abyssal Purple, Accessory: Burnished Gold
The Battlegroups
The Emperor's Nightmare divide their strength into two battlegroups of similar structure but wildly different doctrine. Both consist of four companies organized after Codex patterns, though of more than standard strength. This deviation from the codex is accounted for by the practice of not counting Resting marines - though nominally active members of their company - against the company limit of 100 battle-brothers imposed by the Codex. Two company captains, one from each battlegroup, are elected Lord Adjutant, and serve to represent battlegroups in the Wake. In preparation for the event that any given marine may spontaneously fall asleep with only a minute or so's notice despite the apothecaries best predictions, every marine must be fully trained to cover for any of his battle brothers, even to the point of knowing how to land a Thunderhawk in an emergency and performing basic combat maneuvers with it. The techmarines even instruct their brothers in matters they otherwise wouldn't including a rotating cast of apprentices maintaining the chapter dreadnoughts. Additionally each marine takes care of his own wargear. Every fighting unit in the chapter is fully trained as a tactical squad, though they will don jump packs or otherwise re-equip themselves as the situation demands.
Battlegroup Primus
Lead by the Lord Adjutant Primus. Companies 2 through 5. The Dawn is the chapter's mighty fist and exemplifies the shock and awe tactics the chapter uses to great effect. There are four Battle companies in the Dawn, each with a nominal fighting strength of 130 tactical marines on the truly rare occasion that all the battle-brothers in the company are awake. Each company is given ten of the chapter's nigh-irreplaceable 45 suits of terminator armor. How these are used varies in each company with 2nd and 4th companies giving them to their sergeants and 3rd company assigning them to an elite team. In 5th company the right to don each suit is hotly contested and they are reassigned for each mission based on performance in the previous day's battles. If one does not constantly earn their terminator armor in 5th company, one does not keep it.
Second company - Solar Prominence
Motto: Adit Aurora Alata Ardens ("Here comes the dawn, upon wings of fire.")
Led by Captain Ambrose.
The second company almost exclusively deploy via drop pods, and usually deep into enemy territory. (Spear head type maneuvers.)
Under Captain Ambrose's Leadership the second company have won many victories for the chapter. Most notably, the complete rout of WAAAGH Reddklaw and the defense of Hive Thaetus against elements of the word bearers.
However despite these victories, the sometimes rash/suicidal actions taken by Captain Ambrose worry some of the apothecaries, fearing that he may be transitioning to sleepless.
Edit: Captain Ambrose has officially been diagnosed as Sleepless. He has been transferred to their ranks and his title, The Red Dawn, has been passed on to his chosen successor, Taheton Hector.
Battlegroup Secundus
Lead by the Lord Adjutant Secundus. Companies 6 through 9. The Dusk stands in stark contrast to Battlegroup Primus in that it follows a doctrine of stealth rather than shock. In this, the heritage of the Raven Guard doctrine can be seen as "breeding true". The Dusk is again divided into four companies, each with a nominal waking strength of 130 tactical marines. The Dusk oversee the large scale deployment of several of the chapter's Icelus dreadnoughts to engage in disruption, sabotage and guerrilla warfare techniques. Skill with the stalker boltgun and the Astartes sniper rifle are prized and the chapter boasts some of the finest marksmen in the Imperium. The remaining five suits of Terminator armor belonging to the chapter can be found here, generally reserved for an emergency strike force, rather than distributed among the stealth specialists of Secundus.
Tenth Company
The chapter's scouts. Nominally separate from either battlegroup, the chapter's scouts field along Secundus deployments more often than Primus.
First Company
Called "Night Owls", the first company is independent from the larger battlegroups, even though it is comprised of marines originally hailing from either. It is the organizational home of the chapter's dreadnoughts, of which there is currently a pool of fifty eight chassis, all but two of which are inhabited. Dreadnought chassis are most often permanently seconded to companies of Battlegroup Primus where they are repainted with company colors and organized into squads bearing codex approved devastator markings. The very oldest of the dreadnoughts remaining among the Night Owls often have spent so much time battling the forces of chaos awake as well as asleep that their prowess is no longer limited to either the Empyrean or the real world; these "August Dreamwalkers" possess great psychic potential and are greatly revered, not only for their age and valor.
Not included in the official roster are the Sleepless, those marines who are completely unable to sleep and have been driven insane. These warriors are not uncommon, but once their inability to find rest at all is realized by the Chapter, they are considered dead, stricken from the chapter's list of serving marines, with a scout promoted in their place. (Of course the apothecaries and chaplains keep an unofficial tally of how many Sleepless there are.) These tragic souls are organized into their own special assault squads and released ahead of the main battlegroup, so that in death they might find their well-deserved rest. Sleepless are overseen by pairs of specialist apothecary dreadnoughts, operating in tandem. In the event one of the dreadnoughts falls into slumber, the other can remain active. These overseers are outfitted with outsized narthecium as their close-combat weapons that deliver crippling doses of powerful tranquilizers and depressants. These are the only thing that can sedate the Sleepless, and only enough to pacify. The armor and equipment of the Sleepless is highly distinctive, with each marine embellishing his gear with intricate symbols and devices. These designs may be devotional, recreations of things the marine had seen (a particularly compelling star field, for instance), or incredibly intricate geometric patterns. Beyond this, the only modification their lucid brothers make is the addition of a simple white trim on their armour painted on, often by the Sleepless brother themselves, during the ritual funeral performed following diagnosis. It is an honour marking they share with the chapter's apothecaries in recognition of their unfortunate status, for they will remain in the care of the apothecarion until they die.
Icelus Dreadnought Concept.
There are three basic groups of dreadnoughts in the Emperor's Nightmare.
Specialist Dreadnoughts
A few Chaplain and Techmarine dreadnoughts, but mostly Apothecary dreadnoughts who carry out comparable duties for the Sleepless as the Blood Angels Chaplains do for their Death Company. They have specially made nartheciums that deliver usually-lethal doses of powerful sedatives and they care for their Sleepless brothers with the care and tenderness of a reverend scattering ashes on a grave. This also includes the August Dreamwalkers in Iron, Librarian dreadnoughts who act as Guides when fighting upon the dreamscape.
Hellfire Dreadnoughts
Fulfilling the tactical role of devastators in other chapters. There are at least a few rifleman dreadnoughts per company, and a pool of other dreadnoughts at the command of each Lord Adjutant. The hellfire dreadnoughts are actually being permanently seconded to individual companies, and bear codex devastator squad markings and numbers as if they were part of that company. The hero inside is from that company and the dreadnought is only part of the Night Owls in the sense that this is where the sarcophagus came from.
The Waking Dead
The Sleepless dreadnoughts. The node decay can overtake a Marine at any point in his life, and these tortured souls not only have to cope with the horrors of hyperawareness and fluidity, they have to do it through infrared autosenses, sound amplification devices and enhanced hydraulics. They see and experience a reality others cannot even begin to imagine. They are by far the most dangerous weapon the chapter has at its disposal but their insane, unpredictable intelligence, lost grasp on reality and obscene combat skill make them an extreme safety and security risk to the entire chapter. More than one strike cruiser has been destroyed entirely by a Sleepless dreadnought using their flawless knowledge from counting every rivet of the ship to evade recapture while slaughtering what it was convinced were vile traitors from the Word Bearers legion trying to take over the engine room...
Icelus Pattern Tactical Dreadnoughts
These stealthy, lightweight dreadnoughts have been developed by the Nightmares from pre-Heresy tactical dreadnought patterns, and are specially adapted for infiltration and reconnaissance missions. Although they are deployed alongside all the chapter's marine companies, they are most at home in battlegroup Secundus.


Nightmares with psychic potential. Not powerful enough to become librarians, but they have a degree of warp sensitivity and are trained by the librarians and psykana to better control their lucid dreams and more clearly understand the portents and prophecies they dream. When lucid dreaming they may explore the warp in a manner not dissimilar to astral projection.
These are the dreamers who are astrally projecting themselves into the warp. The August Dreamwalkers in Iron are the librarian dreadnoughts that act as dream guides when exploring the warp, even more so than normal librarians do. They spend whole centuries asleep and roaming the warp with their minds before being woken again and called to battle once more.
Lucid Dreams
These are simply dreams you can control. (The visions of the future, the prophecies that the dreamers sometimes get, are almost entirely OUT of the dreamer's control and just get forced into their mind for them to experience whether they want to or not.)
Battle brothers who are unable to sleep may still rest by meditating with their blindfolds. This, along with drug supplements from the apothecaries, keeps the marines surprisingly healthy.
The circadian rhythms of the Nightmares are extremely strange. The exact length of time in the cycle is difficult to predict but most healthy nightmares average about one month of active duty followed by one month of a coma like sleep. They may dream, and may receive prophetic visions occasionally, but for the most part it is a fugue and there is little brain activity.
A catch-all term for any Nightmare that is not awake.
Wakened marines, preferably ones who have just woken who are unlikely to fall asleep again any time soon. They stand guard over their sleeper and dreamer brothers. Think of them as an honor guard for everyone currently in a coma for whatever reason. Some watchers hide amongst the sleepers and pretend to be asleep themselves while others guard doors and so on. Any marine, pretty much regardless of rank, may be called upon to perform the duties of a watcher at one time or another.

Crunchy bits[edit]

Chapter History
38th Millennium - The Sentinel Founding
Chapter Progenitor
Raven Guard
Chapter Purpose
Standing - The chapter defends southern Imperial space from threats emerging from the Veiled Region.
Chapter Demeanor
"See, But Don't be Seen."
Stat Bonuses
+5 Perception, +5 Intelligence
Gene-Seed Purity
Mostly Pure
Gene-Seed Deficiency
Mutated Catalepsean Node leading to greatly skewed circadian rhythm (weeks or months of insomnia followed by nigh comatose sleep)
Chapter Flaw
Pride in the Colors
Slight deviation from Codex, mostly organizational. Company strength is set at more than standard to ensure combat readiness even when 30-50% percent of a given company are Resting at a given time.
Combat Doctrine
Shock and Awe. Bombardment by battlebarge followed by large-scale drop-pod and Thunderhawk deployment
Cannot be Devastator. Ranged fire support outside of specially equipped Tactical squads is entirely given over to Dreadnoughts and vehicles.
Special Equipment
Totem (see Trappings)
Chapter Belief
Honor the Ancestors. As well as the Primarch Corax these include exemplars such as the Chapter Master, the August Dreamwalkers and similar veterans.
Chapter Founding Father
Chapter Master Randolphus, a Raven Guard captain who slew the Tzeentchian Daemon Prince Khaliman
Chapter Strength
Nominal (by Chapter standards, slightly above by Codex standards, see fluff on Battlegroups)
Chapter Homeworld
Hive, Wasteland
Chapter Rule
By Stewardship. The ruling hive elites are put in place by and report directly to the Wake, but little effort is made to shape policy beyond what is necessary to meet the chapter's need for supplies and recruits.
Chapter Friendship
Scholastica Psykana, providing much-needed support for the marines' fitful sleep-battles in the Empyrean
Chapter Enemy
Khaliman, the very same Daemon Prince of Tzeentch slain in M38 by then- Raptors 4th Company Captain Randolphus. Following this mighty deed Randolphus' broken body was entombed within the mighty iron sarcophagus of a dreadnought and seconded to the newly created Nightmares to be their first leader. After serving the Emperor in this fashion for many centuries one of the powerful minions of Khaliman sought revenge for its master and stole away Randolphus' mind with foul Tzeentchian sorcery. The Nightmare continues to hunt down Khaliman's minions in hopes of one day restoring their founding father to his rightful glory.
Chapter Battlecry
"TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM!" (battle cry of the Sleepless)

Advance Table: Behold our Wrath[edit]

  • Intimidate 100 xp
    • Intimidate +10 100 xp
      • Intimidate +20 100 xp
  • Interrogation 100 xp
    • Interrogation +10 100 xp
      • Interrogation +20 100 xp
  • Iron Jaw 300 xp
  • Duty Unto Death 700 xp
  • Crushing Blow 500 xp
  • Double Team 100 xp

Solo & Squad Mode Abilities[edit]

Secrets of Fluidity (Chapter Solo Ability)
In lesser men, the long periods of insomnia and sleep deprivation would induce madness within a few days, and even a Marine can only go on for so long. But for a Nightmare, the time between Rests can easily stretch on for more than a month, and the abnormal activity of the Catalepsean Node that keeps him awake during this time also provides him with reflexes well beyond the norm.
While in Solo Mode, the Battle Brother is considered to have the Lightning Reflexes Talent.
At Rank 3, the battle brother receives a +10 to all Dodge tests.
At Rank 5, the battle brother is considered to have the Rapid Reaction Talent.
At Rank 7, once per game session the battle brother may automatically pass any one Agility based test. (For purposes of opposed rolls they are considered to have rolled a 01.)
Oath of Vengeance (Chapter Squad Attack Pattern)
Action: Free Cost: 1 Sustained: No
When any member of the Kill-team suffers Damage the Character receives a +4 bonus to damage rolls against the attacker.
At rank 5 this ability may be sustained.
Courage Under Fire (Chapter Squad Defensive Pattern)
Action: Free Cost: 0 Sustained: No
The battle brother inspires those under his command to press on in the face of danger. When this ability is used the battle brother and any within support range of him may immediately recover from being pinned.
At rank 4, those under the effect of this ability may also make a Half-move as a free action.

Chapter Trappings[edit]

Totemic Charm
Blindfold of the Ebon Sight
The marine may don his blindfold (helmet must be removed) and place himself in a meditative state, doing so will allow him to reduce his battle fatigue by 1 point every 30 mins. While in this state marine suffers a -20 to perception tests.
Book of Reveries
Once per gaming session the marine may make a hard difficulty (-10 or -20 by GM ruling) intelligence roll to gain any insight into overcoming his current foe. Each degree of success grants additional info. Any knowledge gained will be in the form of dreams and portents.
The Dreamcatcher is a personal charm woven by the battle brother himself and used to both as protection and focus during sleep. Each marines dreamcatcher is individual and reflects his current self view, there are 3 broad types the Dreamcatcher can take;
Dreamcatcher of Great Portent: +3 to Tactics (Any)
Dreamcatcher of the Vigilant Ancestor: +3 to Dodge
Dreamcatcher of Subtle Insights: +3 to Awareness
The marine may reweave his Dreamcatcher however doing so requires at least a day of private meditation and supplication. A marine can only reweave his Dreamcatcher after;
Burning a fate point
Increases Rank
A fellow battle brother was slain during a mission (even if the marine eventually becomes a dreadnought)

Primarch's Curse[edit]


Level 1 (Entrapments of Conscience): The Battle Brother’s shift between coma and insomnia becomes increasingly erratic. For every point of Fatigue the Nightmare Marine would gain, he gains an additional point.
Level 2 (Through My Eyes, Darkly): When sleep does come, the Battle Brother’s dreams become increasingly unpleasant and surreal. When conscious, the Battle Brother takes a -10 to Perception and Agility Tests, as though half of him were in some other reality while the other half is exhausted.
Level 3 (Sleepless): The Battle Brother suddenly finds himself awake for extensive periods of time. Once per month, he must make a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test; in the event of failure, the Nightmare Marine can now be diagnosed as Sleepless. The Nightmare Marine no longer takes penalties to Perception and Agility from the effects of the Primarch’s Curse, he is no longer able to reduce his Insanity Points below 91, and without prompt attention from his Chapter and its funerary rites, the Battle Brother’s disposition begins to deteriorate at an increasing pace. Each week after failing the initial Willpower Test, the Battle Brother must make a Routine (+20) Willpower Test or gain an Insanity Point; after three months, this Test becomes Challenging (+0); five months after this, it becomes Very Hard (-30). If the Battle Brother should hit 100 Insanity Points, he is removed from play and attacks his Kill-team as a hostile NPC.


The Emperor's Nightmare chapter is well suited to the Blood Angels codex, with the Death Company and Death Company Dreadnoughts representing the Sleepless and the Waking Dead, Librarian Dreadnoughts as August Dreamwalkers In Iron, Furiosos as Apothecary and Techmarine Dreadnoughts, fast vehicles that mirror the twitch reflexes of Nightmare marines in their Waking cycle and techmarines and other characters on bikes as a counts-as for Icelus Pattern Dreadnoughts.

In addition there is a fandex in the works. Nightmare Tabletop



Several (more like a fuckton) stories have been made across the span of the threads, including:


Smaller pieces of fiction have also been written:

External Links[edit]