"Fear not the psyker."
- – A 10-foot tall psychic super soldier capable of shooting lightning bolts and fireballs with just the power of his mind.
Librarians are Space Marine psykers. Unlike Imperial sanctioned psykers, Librarians are less likely to be fucked inside out by daemons, due to a combination of intense indoctrination regimes of the Space Marines, immense mental fortitude brought by their Librarian training, and the higher quality of their psychic hoods. Often overheard punishing xenos and heretics alike while screaming cheesy one-liners like "Your book is overdue, BITCH!". They have varying degrees of awesomeness depending on what writer and/or chapter. Usually though, they dominate the battlefield and are feared by both friend and foe as they wield a vast selection of pure psykic awesomeness.
Back during the Great Crusade, when the Primarchs were reunited with their legions, the Space Marines began discovering some of their new recruits had psychic potential. Wanting to utilize this and prevent them from falling to Warp corruption, Magnus the Red, Sanguinius, and Jaghatai Khan proposed the creation of Librariums, divisions of the Legions which would take in psyker Space Marines and train them to use their powers for the good of the Imperium of Man. Seeing the possible good, the Emperor agreed, authorizing the go ahead and presumably getting all teary-eyed at how independent and grown-up his kids had gotten (while being awesome and manly of course). When the Librariums proved effective, they spread to other Legions. However, a number of Primarchs, namely Mortarion (he's got psyker issues that would make a Culexus blush), Rogal Dorn, Corax, and Leman Russ opposed the training of Librarians and wanted the program shut down, believing that the powers of the Warp could not be controlled (
Russ maintained that Rune Priests were not actually Librarians, given that the Space Wolves insistently maintained that they drew power from Fenris, not the Warp except not really...). Further concern was raised with Magnus's constant peering into the Warp to learn more about his powers, which Russ and Mortarion felt warranted censure.
Then Nikaea Happened
Following the Emperor's departure from the Great Crusade, a conclave was called to determine whether or not Librarians should continue to be used. With representatives summoned to the Council of Nikaea (often remembered as the Trial of Magnus the Red) both sides pleaded their cases. In the end, the Emperor, fearing that Magnus was being way too arrogant and reckless in his pursuit of power and in serious danger of Fausting himself over (which is exactly what
ended up happening already had happened!), decided that Librarians posed too great a risk and ordered the Legions to disband their Librariums, return to their battle companies, and never use their psychic powers in battle again. An edict Magnus ignored. Well, actually, an edict that quite a lot of them either totally ignored or later broke. But Magnus broke it harder. The White Scars simply ignored it, but the likes of Dorn and Vulkan implemented it straight away.
Hear now the words of my ruling
I am not blind to the needs of the Imperium, but nor am I blind to the realities of the hearts of men. I hear men speak of knowledge and power as though they are abstract concepts to be employed as simply as a sword or gun. They are not. Power is a living force, and the danger with power is obsession. A man who attains a measure of power will find it comes to dominate his life until all he can think of is the acquisition of more. Nearly all men can stand adversity, but few can stand the ultimate test of character, that of wielding power without succumbing to its darker temptations.
Peering into the darkness to gain knowledge of the Warp is fraught with peril, for it is an inconstant place of shifting reality, capricious lies and untruths. The seeker after truth must have a care he is not deceived, for false knowledge is far more dangerous than ignorance. All men wish to possess knowledge, but few are willing to pay the price. Always men will seek to take the short cut, the quick route to power, and it is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that will lure him to evil ways. True knowledge is gained only after the acquisition of wisdom. Without wisdom, a powerful person does not become more powerful, he becomes reckless. His power will turn on him and eventually destroy all he has built.
I have walked paths no man can know and faced the unnameable creatures of the Warp. I understand all too well the secrets and dangers that lurk in its hidden darkness. Such things are not for lesser minds to know; no matter how powerful or knowledgeable they believe themselves to be. The secrets I have shared serve as warnings, not enticements to explore further. Only death and damnation await those who pry too deeply into secrets not meant for mortals.
I see now I have allowed my sons to delve too profoundly into matters I should never have permitted them to know even existed. Let it be known that no one shall suffer censure, for this conclave is to serve Unity, not discord. But no more shall the threat of sorcery be allowed to taint the warriors of the Astartes. Henceforth, it is my will that no Legion will maintain a Librarius department. All its warriors and instructors must be returned to the battle companies and never again employ any psychic powers.
Woe betide he who ignores my warning or breaks faith with me. He shall be my enemy, and I will visit such destruction upon him and all his followers that, until the end of all things, he shall rue the day he turned from my light.
Dude could give a speech.
Unfortunately, this seemed to be one of those decisions that the Emperor didn't really think through. It added yet another layer of bullshit on top of his fear of the warp and psykers in general, a group of people who, had they been able to ply their mind-bullets freely, would presumably have been awesome weapons against the traitors when Heresy time came around. Thing is... this is something that the books and stuff seem to say a lot, but it's kinda... well... it's hard to say how true that actually is/was.
At Istvaan, psykers wouldn't have made any difference (3 legions vs 8 is a bad day for the good guys), and the balance of forces was so extreme that just knowing ahead of time wouldn't have helped. At Calth they might have made a difference. All of the former Ultramarine librarians had bad dreams in the days before the treachery, so maybe they might have seen what was coming. But if they could ever have convinced Roboute Guilliman of impending treachery (remember this was happening just after Isstvan V and communication was moving slowly thanks to the Warp Storms, on top of the fact that Marines fighting each other was totally alien to them (fluff writers expect you to disregard the fact that the Wolves had already massacred two other legions and tried to do the same to the World Eaters)), they would have really been struggling to deal with the magic stuff because it was totally new and a weird combination of technology and warpstuff. Oh, and of course, practically no-one who wasn't on Guilliman's flagship or with the 4th company even knew what the problem was. So it seems really unlikely that Librarians would have magically made the Heresy all better.
In any case, the edict of Nikaea stood for a year or so at most, and it was ignored or abandoned by nearly all the legions.
Why Nikea really happened?
The council of Nikea is described in two books of the Horus Heresy series: "Thousand Sons" and "Prospero Burns". In the first one, Ohthere Wyrdmake and Leman Russ say repeatedly that the rune priests are not using the power of the warp instead harnessing the power of Fenris. In the second, instead, Helwintr and Russ don't even mention this bullshit. They acknowledge the importance of psykers in the Imperium and with the Astartes but they maintain that the Thousand Sons and - by reflection - the Librarians are or are becoming sorcerors instead of psykers and that has to be stopped. The catch here is that "Thousands Sons" is written from the perspective of XV legion and "Prospero Burns" from the Vlka Fenryka's one. What we are reading is probably some propaganda/rationalization written after the heresy by people of or near these legions. Because, you see, both this accounts are clearly forged. The Space Wolves are not the savage ignorants that they want everyone to believe they are. But the Thousands Sons seems to fall for it, so in their eyes, that fact that the Wolves would utter this kind of stupid nonsense is somewhat believable. On the other hand, the Wolves version is also bullshit. In "Prospero Burns" the wolves seems to have a perfect graps of the situation. They clearly differentiate between psyker and sorcerors, which is... conveniently compatible with what will happen after the heresy. But if they understand so well the power and the corruption of the Warp, why disband the Librarians instead of ask to reform them more similarly to their rune priests. And why let the Thousands Sons simply go by their way without any supervision (while before Custodes were attached to the Word Bearers for arguably far less).
So at the end of the day, what really happened is anyone best guess. But I can bet my master crafted force staff that Big E. had more to do with it than just looking awesome and reading some edict.
Loyalist Response to Nikaea
- The Ultramarines followed the Emperor's command to the letter, disbanding their Librarius and returning their Librarians to the battle companies. In one of his brighter ideas, Roboute Guilliman himself stated during the Battle of Calth that the Edict of Nikea needed to be overturned as soon as possible, even deducing that the Edict's timing was so convenient that it could only mean that someone had arranged it. Thus, when he thought that Terra and the Emperor had already fallen he decided to build the Imperium Secundus in a manner he thought sensible and kept his Chief Librarian around as an advisor (much to the chagrin of a Space Wolves detachment deployed on Macragge to "ensure" Guilliman's loyalty.)
- Without a Primarch, the remaining Iron Hands mostly fell in with the Ultramarines and so basically did whatever they were doing.
- Lion El'Jonson re-introduced the Librarians as soon as he discovered that the traitors were using daemons, presumably knowing what shit was going down from his experiences on Caliban. Even going so far as to punch the living fuck out of a Chaplain who reminded him that it was going against the Emperor's edict. As in, literally punched his head off - although said Chaplain was about to execute one of the Librarians for using his psychic powers against daemons and refused to back down, soooooo...
- Rogal Dorn locked all his Librarians up in the Phalanx and refused to even let them rejoin their battle brothers as line-troopers. However, when Nathaniel Garro snuck his way on board to try and rescue them on Malcador's orders, they seemed happy enough where they were. Apparently all the Imperial Fists need to feel happy is thick walls around them. With the Primarch explaining that they were exactly where they needed to be. Presumably for keeping them in reserve for when the Imperium really need them. What happened to them afterwards is (as of yet) unexplained. The reasonable assumption is that they were held in reserve for the Siege of Terra, possibly on the advice of Malcador.
- While Sanguinius desperately tried to uphold the Emperor's word, his own former Librarians met in secret and proved their worth by saving the entire Legion from the daemonic precursor of the Black Rage at Signus. So he kept them afterwards.
- Vulkan also tried the Sanguinius approach. However, there were barely any Salamanders left after Isstvan, though by M41 they looked back upon Nikaea as an ancient and archaic edict that had no place anymore.
- Corax was a latent psyker, but voted against at Nikea. Following a personal encounter with the Gal Vorbak, Corax did a 180 and began advocating using Librarians, nearly getting into a shooting match with the Custodes over it. We don't know if they reinstated their librarians but it seems extremely likely that they did after the Alpha Legion attack to disrupt/steal their cloning tech (which Librarians could have detected).
- The White Scars (at least those that got the message) just kinda shrugged and twiddled their mustaches and did their own thing same as ever, including keeping their Stormseers around. Since it was also suggested that the Khan himself was a latent psyker (though he favoured using his sword instead), on top of his total disregard for authority and support for the librarians this shouldn't be that much of a surprise. If nothing else, he could fall back on the excuse that he wasn't at Nikea at the time the edict was made and could therefore plead ignorance. His "stormseer" who spoke for the Scars at Nikea simply privately refused to accept it and vindicated himself shortly after by exploding a daemon with lightning. His psychic powers (and those of the one surviving loyalist from the Thousand Sons) later saved the entire Legion during the Horus Heresy.
- The Space Wolves supported the banning of librarians, but kept their own afterwards.
They totally denied that their Rune Priests actually were psykers at all, and claimed that their power came from Fenris, as opposed to the warp. Which was totally wrong, of course, and they may or may not have known this. Of course, seeing as they use psychic hoods and psychic foci...they totally knew.They might just have been jerks, or perhaps more likely the Big E made a decision to tolerate their beliefs, seeing it was important for his "executioners" to be able to deal with other warp-users. In fact, two of their librarians, Aun Helwintr and Ohthere Wyrdmake, were vocal opponents of employing librarians at the council and yet directly participated in the Burning of Prospero.
- Malcador the Sigillite gave tacit permission to the Librarians among the Knights-Errant to begin using their psychic powers, even supplying them with psychic hoods. The Adeptus Custodes made it clear that they did not recognize Malcador's authority to do so, but since the Emperor Himself had appointed Malcador as Regent of Terra, they were in a bit of a logical paradox: either enforce the Emperor's will by taking out Malcador, or defy the Emperor's will by taking out Malcador. They settled for threatening to kill any Librarian using his powers in their presence, so the Knights-Errant just did it out of their presence.
So by the Siege of Terra all but two of the loyalist legions definitely had active librarians, and one of the other two probably did.
Traitor Response to Nikaea
- Lorgar and his Word Bearers were already planning evil, so they just ignored the prohibition.
- Magnus The Red decided being a ninja space wizard was too cool, and ignored the decree. If he hadn't, maybe he would've been all right.
- The World Eaters ignored the decree as well, still having official Librarians (not Sorcerers, actual honest to goodness Librarians) during the Heresy, and there's no way in hell they reinstated them since they would be glad to get rid of them. As best we know they weren't represented at Nikaea (for reasons that may become obvious) and it's easy to see that Angron just didn't give a fuck because the decision didn't involve RAGE. However, the World Eaters hated their librarians all the while they existed and frequently didn't even tolerate them being around. This was nothing specifically personal, it was just that psykers made the Butchers' Nails a bit...twitchy and could not themselves be implanted with the Butcher's Nails without catastrophically losing control of their powers. Which is not a good thing for brain implants that are already turning you into a psychotic, rage-filled murder machine. Between this and a superstitious dislike of anything "unnatural" (but only the terminally stupid would actually mention this paradox to Angron, who while being unnatural in so many ways, is above all unnaturally angry) there just weren't enough Librarians left to bother suppressing and the World Eaters mostly ignored them. By the time of the Shadow Crusade the remaining 19 Librarians weren't even considered full members of the Legion anymore due to their lack of the Nails. In a final showdown though, they did try to kill Lorgar before he could transform Angron into a demon prince. Needless to say, that didn't work, and Angron's first act upon attaining daemonhood was to kill them all.
- Mortarion was actually just about the biggest psyker hater in the universe, and was one of the decree's strongest supporters. Hilariously, this backfired badly on him when he eventually realised that getting the edict pushed through only weakened the loyalists psykers; his allies were (mostly) letting their psykers run rampant with a whole new set of freakshow abilities. Things got so bad for him that he tried to get the librarian supporting Jaghatai Khan on his side. Jaghatai countered by attempting to carve the hypocrite out of Mortarion's pustuled arse. He then pillaged a Thousand Son's library world and summoned a demon whose sole purpose was to tempt him into using sorcery even more. It worked, and Mortarion then yo-yoed between studying sorcery whilst pillaging every ritual device he could get his hands on, and smashing the various trinkets he acquired. It peaked with Molech before Mortarion tried to get back to first principles. Ironically due to his lack of people skills and his poor Psy-dar he never knew his second-in-command was a dirty warp burglar. First rule of management, get to know your people.
- The Alpha Legion also ignored the edict, like they did almost everything else. Officially, they disbanded the Librarius. Unofficially, Alpharius and Omegon kept their Librarians around for special operations.
- The Night Lords nominally accepted the edict but the Night Haunter mostly left the decision to individual company commanders. Most happily went along with the edict (even going so far as to exile their Chief Librarian), as they weren't too fond of psykers anyway, but occasionally dabbled in sorcery throughout the Heresy.
- The Sons of Horus went along with the decree initially but learned quickly from the Word Bearers (through the Lodges) and were quick to use sorcery after Istvaan.
- It's not really known what the Iron Warriors thought. But if it helped them build or tear down fortresses any quicker they would have joined the "fuck Nikaea bandwagon" with gusto.
- We likewise do not know how the Emperor's Children reacted. Presumably they went along with it to demonstrate their perfect loyalty, but then no EC Librarian has ever appeared in the fluff. However in Fulgrim's omnibus they point out that that they saw psychic abilities as a mutation and therefore a flaw. And because they were little bitches, they swallowed the Emperor's cock that was his edict when the time came. Later on they used sorcery to a large degree.
In M41 the Edict technically still stands (no-one could overrule the Emperor) but it stopped being enforced after the Heresy and the marines could please themselves. Also of interest is that the Emperor violated the Edict himself by ordering the founding of the Grey Knights, who are even bigger violators of it than the Thousand Sons.
There is obviously a bit of historical revisionism going on, because most accounts from the 41st Millenium look back at Nikaea and suggest that the Emperor actually said "yes" to Librarians, so long as they were trained in a controlled and careful manner. Which is what the White Scars and Blood Angels were doing at the time anyway, it was only the Thousand Sons who ruined it for everyone by thinking there should be no limits.
By M41 it has been left it up to individual Chapters whether or not to use Librarians, and most Chapters have Librarians to some degree or another, with the noticeable exceptions of the Black Templars and the Marines Malevolent; the former is for reasons that nobody can explain (some theories include a gene-seed quirk or a byproduct of the Cacodominus's destruction; the Black Templars just shrug and say that it's just the Emperor's will), and the latter is probably because they are the biggest dickheads in the galaxy. And now with the creation of Primaris Marines comes their version of the Librarians. Also, seems like Morty compromised in the end.
Among Codex compliant Chapters, the ranks of the Librarium are based on their level of training and advancement. They are as follows:
- Chief Librarian: The head of the Librarium, and the most powerful psyker in the Chapter. He is also one of the masters of the Chapter and usually a senior adviser to the Chapter Master. On the tabletop they are usually represented by named special characters of psychic mastery level 3 (or level 2 if they occasionally have some other unique ability). If you don't have a special character in your chosen chapter, then you'll just have to settle for a cool Epistolary.
- Epistolary: The highest rank below Chief Librarian, Epistolaries serve as the main communication aides on the battlefield, sending psychic messages through the Warp to their brothers in the Librariums, similar to Astropaths, but without having their eyes burned out. While no longer explicitly stated in the 6th edition codex, Epistolaries have traditionally been psychic mastery 2 on the tabletop with the ability to know and cast two powers per turn.
- Codicier: Mid-level Librarians, who evaluate reports from campaigns and document them in their Librariums. Supposedly represented on the tabletop as the common variety "Librarian", only at level 1.
- Lexicanum: Entry-level Librarians, they are responsible for compiling battlefield reports for the Codiciers. Interestingly, they don't wear psychic hoods, or even helmets unless in dangerous environments. Haven't been represented on the tabletop since 2nd edition, when they were WS/BS4 W1 A1 Ld8 and a psychic power.
- Acolytum: Librarians in training. Brought in from the battle companies before or shortly after they leave the Scout company, they're tested for psychic potential. It's possible that the Acolytum may be killed in the process, but that's life in a Space Marine Chapter for you. If they survive they're enrolled in Introduction to Mind Bullets and How Not to Melt Your Head 101.
|Forces of the Blood Angels|
|Command:|| Apothecary - Brother-Captain - Brother-Sergeant - Chaplain |
Chapter Master - Librarian - Sanguinary Priest - Techmarine
|Troops:|| Assault Squad - Devastator Squad - Sanguinary Guard - Scout Squad |
Tactical Squad - Terminator Squad - Veteran Squad
|Death Company:||Death Company - Death Company Chaplain - Death Company Terminator|
|Walkers:|| Contemptor-Furioso Dreadnought - Death Company Dreadnought |
Dreadnought - Furioso Dreadnought - Librarian Dreadnought
|Transports:||Drop Pod - Razorback - Rhino|
|Vehicles:|| Baal Predator - Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader - Land Raider Phobos |
Land Raider Redeemer - Land Raider Angel Infernus)
Predator Tank - Vindicator - Hunter - Stalker - Whirlwind
|Flyers:||Stormhawk - Stormraven - Stormtalon - Storm Eagle - Thunderhawk|
|Allies:||Space Marines - Primaris Marines|
|Forces of the Dark Angels|
|Command:|| Apothecary - Company Master - Interrogator-Chaplain |
Chaplain - Librarian - Techmarine - Deathwing Knight
Dark Angels Grand Master
|Troops:|| Assault Squad - Deathwing - Company Veterans |
Devastator Squad - Scout Squad - Tactical Squad
Ravenwing Black Knight - Watcher in the Dark
|Walkers:|| Dreadnought (Venerable Dreadnought - Contemptor Dreadnought) |
Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought - Mortis Dreadnought
|Transports:|| Land Raider (Land Raider Phobos - Land Raider Crusader |
Land Raider Redeemer - Land Raider Ares
Land Raider Solemnus Aggressor) - Rhino - Drop Pod
|Vehicles:|| Bike Squad - Razorback - Predator - Vindicator - Hunter |
Stalker - Whirlwind - Land Speeder Vengeance
|Flyers:|| Dark Talon - Nephilim Jetfighter - Stormraven - Storm Eagle |
|Allies:||Space Marines - Primaris Marines|
|Forces of the Grey Knights|
|Command:|| Brotherhood Champion - Grand Master - Librarian |
Techmarine - Chaplain - Apothecary
|Troops:|| Grey Knight Paladin - Interceptor Squad - Justicar |
Purgation Squad - Purifier - Strike Squad - Terminator Squad
|Walkers:||Dreadknight - Doomglaive Dreadnought - Venerable Dreadnought|
|Vehicles:|| Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader - Land Raider Vortimer) |
Rhino - Razorback
|Flyers:||Stormraven - Stormtalon - Stormhawk - Thunderhawk|
|Allies:||Inquisition - Sisters of Battle|