|This article contains PROMOTIONS! Don't say we didn't warn you.|
"Should any Sister, in her deeds or thoughts, sin, she should willingly and immediately make her fault known to her Superior, and amend with a pure heart. If she does not usually fail in this manner, let her be given but a week’s penance, but if her sin is great, let her go apart from the company of her Sisters, so that she may not sit at table with them, nor kneel in prayer at their side. Let her go alone, submitting herself to the will of the almighty God-Emperor of Mankind. Let her don the hood of the penitent and take up the the ceremonial eviscerator, and seek her redemption upon the field of battle."
- – Rule of Sororitas
The Adepta Sororitas are paragons of faith and purity; violent points of light in the grim darkness of the far future. It is their god-given duty to ensure that mankind does not stray from the light of the Emperor. But despite their rigorous training, some sisters encounter an obstacle that even they feel they are unable to overcome. Spurred on by their (often mistaken or inflated) sense of shame, these self-damned few, in their quest to attain absolution, place themselves in squads known as the Sisters Repentia so that they may atone for their sins.
...while looking like submissives that are just using giant chainswords and wearing some more red than usual. Their model designers were definitely into some shit, but us fa/tg/uys ain't whining.
Taking the Oath
Basically, Repentias are the 40k equivalent of Slayers.
When the weight of guilt or shame bears down too heavily on a member of the Adepta Sororitas they can present themselves to their Sister Superior (Who will whip them for transgressions via Neural Whip, kinky...) and request to take the Oath of Penance which will set them down a path of no return.
They get formally removed from their sisters in a ceremony of mourning and are taken to the Inner Sanctum of their chapel, where they get stripped and shaved, and spend their time meditating and flagellating each other until it is time for battle where its members don mere scraps of leather and chain eviscerators to their hands and are then driven forward by their Mistress of Repentance so they can spend their lives in glorious battle.
Ordinarily a Sisters Repentia finds absolution in death; by blindly charging the nearest enemy. As hilarious as it is to picture a bunch of semi-nude nuns bull rushing a carnifex or a baneblade through a hail of gunfire, it is, admittedly, a fucking badass way to die.
Funnily, out of something like four named Repentia sisters in the fluff, three were reinducted into their orders after meritorious deeds or a sufficiently long penance (technically 2.5, as Celestine died THEN was reinducted). Though it can be explained as dead people making poor protagonists, pardoning 75% of your kamikaze penitents is as wholesome as 40k can get.
As punishingly gruelling as it sounds, the whole process is usually voluntary. The Adepta Sororitas is only made up of individuals who actually want to be there, and those lacking in faith or fortitude are weeded out early in the selection process at the novice stage. Very occasionally is the oath imposed as a punishment for those who fall below the exacting standards of the sisterhood, but as mentioned; the Sisters really want to be there, so such punishments must certainly be uncommon.
Any member of the Adepta Sororitas can take the oath, not just the Sisters of Battle. So Sisters Hospitaler, Dialogus or Famulous can all take the mantle of the penitent. Even though they might not have the same level of military training, they all go about their business with the same level of gravity, though in all likelihood, a member of a non-combatant order will potentially have to travel to a different convent to take the oath, and that might be quite a journey in itself!
As much as it can be joked at how self-imagined their supposed crimes might be, the Sisters take matters of faith VERY seriously, and even a single moment of doubt can be enough to condemn an individual in her own mind. If the Sister in question then later confesses her transgression to her superiors, they will treat it with equal severity and agree whether or not the Oath of the Penitent is appropriate.
It is possible for a Sister to voluntarily take up the transgressions of someone else and atone for them with her own death. This is considered perfectly acceptable and the Sister Repentia is treated no differently than a Repentia who had committed the sin herself. (More rarely such a transgression cannot be paid with by a single death, so the Sister takes a different oath -see below).
Once inducted into the Repentia, it takes some exceptional and miraculous circumstances to come back out of them alive. If the assignment to the Repentia was a punishment rather than a voluntary act, the Mistress of Repentance may decide that the sin has been adequately atoned for and the Sister may return to her unit. Though in most cases, the Sister has already made up her mind that her sins necessitate her own death, therefore the longer she lives the more she is actually failing to keep to her oaths, and is therefore just accumulating more reasons to kill herself. Very rarely (as in, we know of one case -Saint Celestine) a Repentia can have a divine epiphany and ascend to a Living Saint. Presumably at which point her oath is fulfilled, because she now has a higher purpose. Should she ever flee from battle on the other hand, she will be condemned to being forced into a Mortifier for the rest of her miserable existence. As for those morons who were extra naughty and betrayed their sisters despite being sworn to death, they get the cheerful experience of being in an Anchorite instead, as they are technically still sworn to death.
Judging by the 8th edition models, keeping their heads shaved throughout their repentance isn't important, as clearly some of them lived long enough for their hair to have grown back to a short length.
For 85 points, you get a Sister of Battle dominatrix armed with whips, and four naked humans each armed with an Eviscerator, with the option to add more naked chicks to the harem of the Mistress for a measly 14 points each.
The fact that they are Sisters of Battle means they come with a 6++ invulnerable save, which makes their faith their primary measure of protection. They also get Fleet, Fearless, and Rage giving them four S6 AP2 attacks on the charge.
Finally, once per game they may get Feel No Pain (3+) for a turn if they pass a Leadership test (Ld 9 with the Mistress).
The Sisters Repentia occupy that somewhat grey area between awesome and useless: A full squad of them will happily tear apart any vehicle you point them at, throwing 2D6+6 on armour penetration rolls meaning even a few of them have a shot at taking down Land Raiders and Super-heavy Tanks.
Against bigger, more threatening targets like dreadnoughts or Imperial Knights, the fact that they have Invulnerable save means they could survive a hit from them, which is more than most units can say, short of Terminators.
The problem is that as a Dedicated close combat unit, they SUCK ASS in a genuine melee fight. Firstly: They have to charge to get the benefit of Rage but without decent armour they are likely to get cut down by overwatch fire. Secondly: without any guns of their own and because Repentia have to strike last with those Eviscerators. They cannot do anything to prevent enemy chargers reaching them and potentially wiping the squad before they have a chance to do anything. Even dumbass Tau or Necron players who think that Fightan' is better than Dakka, could charge basic troops at them and still kill the Repentia before they do anything.
Against more threatening melee units like Space Marines (or Monstrous Creatures) having a 3+ FnP is useless, even though it sounds good on paper. Because having Toughness 3 means their FnP gets negated by weapons of Strength 6 or higher, which are all over the place in the form of Fists, Mauls and Hammers, and many of the units with access to them have a better invulnerable save than the Sisters do anyway. So even their faith can't save them from being cut in half or squished to a pulp.
At 14 points for a Fearless Eviscerator with Rage there isn't much to complain about, you are getting what you pay for. They might have been better if they could be taken in squad sizes larger than nine + the Mistress, then you could afford to take the inevitable losses. Or some form of assault transport (without resorting to Allies) so they can be delivered to exactly where they needed to be.
And...then 8th edition dropped. Okay...no more rage. They get Shield of Faith, and Acts of Faith. They have a 3+ WS...except Eviscerators give 'em a -1 penalty. So, 4+. Two attacks, one wound, armor save is 7+. Their eviscerator, though? That makes it. Strength X2, for 6 total means they hit a Marines equivalent on 3+, AP-2 means they can negate a Nob's armor save. But leaves them less then that all-important x2 toughness, and just one short of equaling a Dreadnought's armor. All in all? They're cheap. And the new Detachments system means slots aren't as important.
Meanwhile? The Mistress of Repentia now takes up her OWN slot! Her Neural whips gain +1 to wound if she has higher leadership...but since she's 5+ on a Marine Equivalent? That just makes her decent. AP-2 means she almost nullifies weaker armor, and she has some grenades. Still...she can reroll failed Shield of Faith checks, which is awesome. But JUST her. And, ANY Soritas within six inches can reroll Advance, Charges, AND Hits...And she herself counts. Pity her problem isn't HITTING.
The Repentia first appeared as a special character in Citadel Journal, inspired by some Blanche artwork depicted right here; and where the modern Repentia are Slayers, the old ones were Night Goblins Fanatics. Not even bothering giving them Eviscerators and assembling them into proper squads, the order simply kicked them out of the monastery and told them to get lost on the frontline, resulting in Repentia joining random imperial units in battle after battle, until their weapons were depleted, their armor broken, and they ultimately met redemption through death.
Observant people will notice that she's rocking the remnants of her power armor without a functioning powerpack. Faith does move mountains.
In terms of rules she stayed behind when the unit she was attached to retreated, locking the enemy in melee and preventing them from pursuing. The Repentia gained absolution if she won the ensuing close combat, but good luck with that considering she's facing a unit that crushed her + a whole squad at the same time on the previous turn.
A variant on the Penitent's oath; the Sister Oblatia seeks not to atone for her own misdeeds, but instead takes on the sins committed by another: Most commonly a blood relative or a respected colleague, but can also be a whole family line, a population center or an entire planet.
What makes them different from Sisters Repentia is that the accumulated sin needs a lot more work to atone for. So unlike with Sisters Repentia, merely dying in service isn't good enough. They must accumulate an equivalent level of redemptive deeds to wipe the slate clean. So while a glorious death is still the end goal, the Sister Oblatia needs to keep a conscious tally of what contributes to the overall redemption of their oath, so they will only throw their lives away if it is actually worth doing so. In many cases they will find that their task can never be completed given the magnitude of the original sin.
Because it's so uncommon and the magnitude of responsibility so great, Sisters who want to take the oath have to be vetted by their superiors to judge the validity and intention of the oath. Presumably to make certain that the Sister is not going to throw her life away in the first engagement and actually accomplish nothing, but also to ensure that the weight of sin is actually something worth atoning for and not just some imaginary or minor transgression (as with Repentia).
Sisters Oblatia swear similar oaths to Repentia, they undertake similar rites of self-mortification,
fisting fasting and meditation. When they take up the mantle of penitent they are viewed as dead and gone by their former companions. However given the uniqueness of their oath, they are NOT stripped, shaved, bundled into Repentia squads, and whipped into glorious battle. Instead they are left to their own devices to determine how to pay the debt they have taken responsibility for.
Some end up in service to the Inquisition, finding that the balance of repayments comes a lot quicker while hunting heretics, xenos or daemons directly. Though likely most just become wandering Sisters who attach themselves to warzones or crusades and help out where they can.
|Forces of the Sisters of Battle|
|Command:||Triumph of Saint Katherine - Canoness |
Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave - Imagifier
Ministorum Priest - Palatine - Dogmata
Sororitas Command Squad
|Troops:||Avenging Angel - Arco-flagellant - Battle Sister Squad |
Celestians - Crusaders - Death Cult Assassin
Dominion Squad - Retributor Squad - Seraphim Squad
Sisters Repentia - Zephyrim Squad
|Vehicles:||Castigator Tank - Exorcist - Immolator |
Paragon Warsuit - Penitent Engine
Repressor - Rhino - Mortifier
|Special Vehicles:||Pulpit of Saint Holline's Basilica|
|Flyers:||Avenger Strike Fighter|
|Spacecraft:||Aquila Lander - Drop Pod|
|Saints:||Living Saint - Geminae Superia|
|Non Militant:||Orders Dialogous - Orders Famulous - Orders Hospitaler |
Orders Pronatus - Hagiolater