Sisters of Battle

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"Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity."

-H.P. Lovecraft

Space Marine Guideline 1: Thou shalt not refer to the Adepta Sororitas as "Bolter Bitches," nor shalt thou go anywhere near our sisters during the time of their "Red Rage," lest thou wishes to be the first human to enter orbit without the aid of a shuttle.

Sisters of Battle are essentially Warhammer 40k's female equivalent of Space Marines, warriors devoted to the Emprah. Although they lack the genetic modification of their beefier brethren, they also wear power armour and are armed mainly with the ubiquitous Bolter and Chainsword. The Sisters of Battle are also known as the "Daughters of the Emperor", and officially as the "Adepta Sororitas", though the Adepta Sororitas refers to their entire organization, while the term Sisters of Battle refers only to their militant branch. They are more colloquially known by players as "Bolter-bitches" or "Nuns with guns" almost always resulting in a awkward boner. They are not to be confused with Female Space Marines.


Lusty Marine.png

The Sisters of Battle are part of the Ecclesiarchy, the religious arm of Imperial government, and sometimes work with the Inquisition's Witch Hunters. In the 36th millenium, the Ecclesiarchy's pope launched a coup d'état that led to a devastating civil war. After said pope was crushed, the Imperium banned the Ecclesiarchy from having its own army. However, they fucked up the wording of the law, which only explicitly banned the church from having "men at arms", but not "women at arms". The Ecclesiarchy fully exploited this loophole.

They have somewhat of an obsession with the purifying effects of flame, and generally choose equipment that allows them to cover heretics with as much holy promethium and thermal lances as possible. This philosophy is most obviously exemplified by the Immolator tank, essentially a rolling steel crate with giant flamethrowers or multi-meltas stuck on it. They also have the Exorcist, a mobile pipe organ that shoots missiles. Less accurate than the Whirlwind Missile Launcher or any Imperial Guard artillery, but who cares, the thought of pipe organs launching missiles while playing epic mass complete with Latin is fuckawesome, dammit.


An overview of the six main Orders. Sadly brief, but characterful.

There are six main Orders. All minor Orders are descended from one of these.

  • Sacred Rose: cool, calm and collected. The most tactical Sisters. Enjoy gunning their foes down in a more disciplined manner. If they were to get their own rules, their Rets would have slow and purposeful. They wear White.
  • Ebon Chalice: the vanilla Order. These Sisters haven't changed a whole lot since they were first created, preferring to stick to their tried and tested methods. They wear Black.
  • Argent Shroud: the Lawful Goods. Are a rarity among Imperial factions, in that they are described as being famous for selfless heroism, as well as altruism. For this reason, /tg/ likes to fluff them as noble space Paladins and bros to the Salamanders. They wear Silver.
  • Bloody Rose: aggressive as fuck. Aim to kill off their enemies as quickly as possible, as they see no reason to let the heretic live any longer than necessary. They wear Red.
  • Our Martyred Lady: the postergirl Order, depicted in most mainstream portrayals of the Sisters. This has led to many people thinking that all Sisters have white hair, when it is in fact seemingly only this Order that does it. The Order itself is reputed as being determined even for SoBs, which is saying something. Will not stop until their enemies are utterly destroyed. They wear Black and Red.
  • Valorous Heart: Repent! These Sisters feel the guiltiest about that whole Age of Apostasy thing, and as a result have an excess of Repentias. Likely on constant lookout for the slightest sign of weakeness in themselves or any allies serving alongside them. They wear the most black.

Sororitas Orders Non-Militant[edit]

As mentioned in the opening, not all of the Adepta Sororitas are actually Sisters of Battle. A number of Orders exist which officially serve non-combat-related roles in Imperial Society, although they tend to receive even less attention than their combat-fighting sisters. The largest source of info on these Sororitas thus-far is the Blood of Martyrs sourcebook for Dark Heresy, which specifies the three most important Orders and mentions the existence of others, even lesser in nature. Blood of Martyrs even includes character classes for members of the three major Orders Non-Militant.

  • Orders Dialogous: These Sororitas are dedicated to the studying of language, with tasks ranging from interpreting long-lost texts to accompanying Imperial diplomats on contact missions with intelligent xenos species. Thanks to their training, even the most average Sororitas knows several hundred everyday human dialects and dozens of secret cants, ciphers, even xenos tongues. Sororitas of these Orders are some of the few individuals judged worthy (and capable) of actually understanding the Eldar tongue.
  • Orders Famulous: Literally the Bene Gesserit. These Sororitas serve intimately with the upper echelons of Imperial society, acting as chamberlains, counselors and consuls to the nobility. Their focus is on the spiritual and genetic purity of the human race, so they concern themselves with not only seeing to the education of nobles, but also secretly arranging alliances and marriages, in hopes of preventing corruption and inbreeding from taking root. They are particularly involved in tracking the manifestation of saints, which makes them a popular ally for Thorian Inquisitors.
  • Orders Hospitaller: Healers and medics, these Sororitas are amongst the most skilled and compassionate surgeons in the Imperium, meaning they are commonly found attached to the Imperial Guard. Given their mission, they are one of the more beloved orders by the common citizenry of the Imperium. Of course, this being the Imperium, they're also expert torturers often called upon for that purpose by the Ecclesiarchy and the Inquisition, though Inquisitors are cautioned against using Hospitallers to keep important heretics alive; they have a bad tendency to forget about the future gains and instead "take the Emperor's justice into their own hands".
  • Others: Scores, perhaps even hundreds, of minor non-militant Orders exist within the Adepta Sororitas. Blood of Martyrs mentions the Orders Sabine (who infiltrate newly rediscovered worlds and prepare them for the Missionarius Galaxia) and Pronatus (guardians of sacred relics) as examples of more wide-spread Orders Non-Militant, and three "local" Orders in the forms of the Madriga (temple choirs), Planxilium (leading processionals on holy days) and Vespila (sanctifying the dead and forensic specialists).

Sisters Snuff[edit]

Back in 1st Edition, they were present fluff only as an order that was essentially the Inquisition for everyone including the Inquisition and Space Marines. This would change in later editions, when they eventually get their own codex.

In 1997, when the Necrons were launched, Games Workshop had them face the Sisters in a Battle report, which the Sisters lost. The results of this battle report then became the Sanctuary 101 fluff. Games Workshop liked the result so much that they decided the Sisters of Battle should get slaughtered all the time. Unless they are falling to Chaos, obviously. Some fans blame popular GW whipping boy Matt "Spiritual Liege" Ward for this tendency, but it was there long before he got here and it continues to exist after he left.

Please note that while fa/tg/uys masturbate furiously to fanfics of Sisters engaging in bdsm fetish sex with the likes of other Lesbian sisters, servitors, children, Schola Progenium cadets or even the likes of Nurgle, all of the below actually, canonically fucking happened. It should also be worth noting that they're getting stomped by their own fucking allies in most of these.

Heroic Lesbian Space Nuns + Evil BDSM Space Elves = YEAH!

Some highlights include:

  • Some of a Dialogus Order and some Battle Sisters turned to Chaos by a Slaaneshi Keeper of Secrets.
  • A whole Order Mind Controlled by one chaos Psyker. Fucking Goto (this happened again in the cain books fyi).
  • A strike force of Celestians and an Inquisitor being killed, cannibalized, and sacrificed by the Sons of Malice Astartes chapter for disturbing their victory rites and falsely accusing the chapter of heresy.
  • A whole shrine-world of Sisters killed by a Helbrute Daemon Engine powered by rage. It shrugs off meltas, meltabombs and multiple Exorcist volleys, and the efforts of a number of Salamnders in Terminator armour. A Living Saint even gives up her divinity to stop it by speaking the bound Daemon's true name (her order had a vow of silence, probably so the audio recording team didn't need to hire women to do any of the speaking rolls for the audio drama) weakening it after her aura of peace causes it to calm down and shrink down to e size of a man insead of a massive daemon walker. It's destroyed by its shell being broken when a Marine throws a thunder hammer at it. We are not making this shit up.
  • A detachment of Sisters killed by Grey Knights, their bodies sliced open and their blood applied to the Grey Knights' armor, so the Grey Knights can be immune to the Bloodtide's effects (though some of the Sisters were immune with faith alone, make of that what you will). The Bloodtide was retconned in the most recent Grey Knights Codex to not explicitly mention said armor-paint incident, but they do instead job to a daemon horde after buckling at the sight of Kaldor Titanfucking Draigo. At least they went down fighting this time, but jobbing's still jobbing.
  • In another instance of Grey Knight-on-Sororita violence, during the climax of the first novel of the Grey Knight series, a detachment of Sisters led by Cannoness Ludmilla are tricked by a Chaos-turned Inquisitor into thinking that the Grey Knight's pursuing him are Chaos Space Marines. Later (As in a few pages later), said detachment gets nearly kamikaze'd by said Grey Knight Strike Cruiser. (which itself was shot down by Imperial Navy ships fooled into thinking that it was Chaos-starting to see a pattern here?)Surprisingly, the only dudes that die from the crash are Imperial Guard and PDF-the Sisters survive but only to get the ever-Emprah-lovin' shit beaten out of them by the surviving Grey Knights (The sisters pull no punches however and do manage to take out a few of Alaric's squadmates, so power to them). BUT WAIT. Seeing as this was written by a much more competent author, unlike the ambiguous piece of shite-fluff written by a certain spiritual liege both sides figure out that this was part of an elaborate case of JUST AS PLANNED, they stop fighting (And even more shocking was the fact that the person who ended it was Cannoness Ludmilla after noticing the FUCKHUEG books bolted on the GK's mighty pauldrons) and team up to take down the Big Baddy.

The Sudden Yet Inevitable Betrayal[edit]

The reaction of Sisters and SoB players everywhere to the codex update.
WardSymbol.pngThis article or section involves Matt Ward, your Spiritual Liege, who is universally-reviled on /tg/. Because this article or section covers Ward's copious amounts of derp and rage, fans of the 40K series are advised that if you proceed onward, you will see fluff and crunch violation of a level rarely seen.

As of August 1, 2011 it seems Games Workshop finally decided to attempt to "revamp" the Sisters of Battle, much to the aggravation of about two thirds of the Witch Hunters' remaining playerbase. It's by no means a horrible update; initial worries on /tg/ suggested it to be akin to a biblical plague in terms of disaster-level, when in truth it's simply sub-average. The Codex Update had its fluff written by your SPIRITUAL LIEGE. In spite of this, it's squarely in-level with another bad codex update, because the rules were clearly written by committee.

For starters, gone are the various special characters that got gobbled up by the Grey Knights codex update, like Inquisitor Valeria. The Sisters have many of their own special characters now, but a lot of the classics, like Lord Krazypantzoff, are gone now since they're now part of the Grey Knights army list. Immolators took a nasty nerf-bat to the face (they can't fire on the move and have no firepoints now, which makes them basically more-cost-effective Razorback Transports). Who would have thought that Games Workshop would update an army by nerfing the one model every player had a couple of so that they all have to go out and buy new models?

Inquisitorial Stormtroopers are gone as well, and Faith is now randomized, which means that it's much harder to manage in big games. Faith is now, functionally, a game of roulette, with randomized dice rolls deciding how much (if anything at all) you get. Sisters now all have very specific faith powers on a by-squad basis now, and whilst several are powerful, others are meh at best.

Heavy armor in an update? We fucking wish.
Whereas before you had a nice general army that could use faith points to adapt to different situations, in the new system you have mostly weaker powers that are unreliable. Powers that most other units for similar points get permanently.

Sadly, things were muddled by a spree of fake releases as part of an April Fool's Prank. Original reports of genuinely useful units to offset the loss of the Stormtroopers and inducted forces thus turned out to be false. As of thus far, there's been no reports of new units - so in other words, about a third of the Sisters' armory is now gone without being replaced by anything. The new special characters reportedly are nothing worth getting excited over. (The knights feel your pain now.)

The Sisters carry over a number of Grey Knight units as well, including Death-Cult Assassins, Arco-Flagellants, and Crusaders. There was talk of a new heavy transport/assault vehicle called the Repressor (see image above), but it turned out to be part of the same fucking April Fool's Prank and is still Forgeworld-only (which sucks because it would be an improvement). Sisters Repentia were originally purportedly nerfed, but in the end the Repentia now are vastly better, boasting a 6++ invulnerable save, Fleet, and double their original number of attacks with a faith act to do more on death - meaning they stand a good chance of fucking up a lot of units they wouldn't before now... So now instead of paying ridiculous prices for a sick joke, you're just paying ridiculous prices for a suicide squad. At least they'll rape shit while they're there now. Progress! The funniest thing is that you have 5 different types of independent characters that boosts the unit they joins assault skills...And even with all the buffs added to the best assault unit in the army you would still be hard pressed to defeat a space marine tactical squad in an assault.

The biggest kick in the cunt for the Sisters, aside from the obvious loss of utility units, was the loss of ally rules and inducted unit rules. One of the biggest advantages the Sisters had was the ability to, courtesy of the Ordo Hereticus, requisition allied forces. A time-honored method of getting around the relatively weak Sisters of Battle vehicular lineup was to take some Inducted Guardsmen for a Leman Russ or two, or Space Marines for a Predator. The loss of Inquisitors also came with the loss of Land Raiders as dedicated transports, which was another stab at their vehicular capabilities.

On the plus side, the fluff was very clearly not written by the blessed one either nope it would seem he did, since the Sisters in it are portrayed as completely badass, fighting off a Daemonic incursion by themselves without ever needing the Grey Knights to butcher them and turn them into armor paint. One can only imagine how the development meeting for this codex went - because most of /tg/ argues that it had to be hilarious. In fact, the best of Canonesses can now become Inquisitors, which means the best of canonesses now get, fluff wise to get psychic mastery levels and TERMINATOR ARMOR, which makes them even more badass than a Terminator Librarian and certainly a non-Sororitas Terminator Inquisitor, since neither of them have a free 6++ save or Acts of Faith. This is not, however, yet applicable to the rather new Inquisitorial Codex (but home-brew can definitely do it).

The Eternal Vigil[edit]

Come on guys, she's got sisters to feed.

While most members of /tg/ are violently, gleefully convinced the sisters are on their way to be squatted, a tiny contingent of the faithful keeps a candle burning, waiting for the day that their beloved bolter bitches will rise again (tiny bubbles and all).

  • 0172008.M3: The Sisters are released as a playable faction in Dawn of War: Soulstorm. While it is poorly designed and built, it still drums up some enthusiasm for the Sisters. Many conflicted feels are had.
  • 0583011.M3: The Destroyer and The Cruddace release a playable White Dwarf codex for the sisters, hinting at a similar treatment to the Blood Angels heretics fuck you.
  • 0608012.M3: The sisters are retained for the 6E allies system and given a new flyer via Forge World. An unconfirmed leak shows a line up of new Sisters characters in development.
  • 0569013.M3: Faithful pilgrims supplicate themselves before the great and powerful Jervis Johnson asking for news on the Sisters. They are told that all armies are being worked on and there are no plans to discontinue support for the sisters. The Kelly adds that modeling issues prevented their release previously.
  • 0561113.M3: Rumors begin swirling about an official digital codex release for the Sisters. A leaked and subsequently confirmed White Dwarf advert later confirms this, and promises an updated version of the 5e codex. A later interview with The Cruddace indicates that the codex will include tweaks to Faith and points cost, and that if it sells well enough it may get a physical release. The release date for the digital codex has been set at October 19th. Later comments on the GW Digital Editions facebook page confirms that it will have a Warlord Chart, Ecclesiarchy Relics and an Altar of War, in addition to some updates, new fluff and artwork and changes to faith and points costs. It appears that the Sisters prayers have been at least partially answered. A physical release however is still very much dependent on the sale of this eBook however. Also during all this GW changes the name from Sisters of Battle to Adepta Sororitas most likely because it sounds cooler and is easier to maintain copyright on. The reactions are mixed when the Codex is released, with such changes like making all Acts of Faith usable only once, maximum twice, per battle and many buffs and nerfs around the board, leaving many arguing whatever the Sisters got better or majorly screwed.
  • 0999999.M3: Escalation is released, alongside Stronghold Assault. While Stronghold Assault slips by unnoticed, the Sisters of Battle receive no Lords of War choices in an otherwise controversial and poorly thought out expansion. It then falls to Forge World to release a downloadable sheet a few days later saying that Sisters armies can take Warhound & Reaver titans, as well as Marauder Bombers & Destroyers as Lords of War. The Sisters have yet to comment on how overkill these choices might be if they can ever deploy them. The Reaver is at least far too expensive for normal games.

Optimistic Theory[edit]

A hobby store employee hit me up with this theory: the Sisters have been out of focus because GeeDubs haven't been able to make quality plastic molds of Sisters until very recently (two prominent GW people, Jes Goodwin and Phil Kelly, have said as much anyway). While I admit this guy is a bit too merciful on GeeDubs, he has friends on the inside and claims to have witnessed firsthand several prototype sculpts of Sisters with veils on their faces. His personal theory is that GeeDubs has been saving up, and will give Sisters a fancy hardcover 7th ed codex in late 2015 or so once the plastic models are finished (This theory is seconded; a mate of mine who works for the local Geedubya office says there are whispers of plastic Sororitas in his workplace. Ave Imperator).

Also remember that fluff wise, the best of Sororitas Canonesses may ascend to be an Inquisitor if they so choose, and Inquisitors use Terminator armor. That means, (while this has yet to appear in the rulebooks) that they take their canoness statline, Acts of Faith and their 6++ save and gain a 2+ save, on top of having a psychic mastery level or two, and way better equipment than either the Marines or Sororitas have. Totally tradeable for And They Shall Know No Fear and +1 Toughness, since no Terminator either gets a 6++ (Except every terminator because terminator armor gives a 5++) save or Acts of Faith. This should be allowed, but it should have the points price, fully outfitted (as in psychic mastery level 3, Deny the Witch 3+, Armor is a 2+3++or a rerollable3+3++, psybolter rounds for the bolter/boltpistol or having an inferno pistol or two, a relic blade/artificer power sword/chainsword, crazy Inquisitor doo-hickeys) and the special included things like a free 6++ and Acts of Faith should cost about the points of an otherwise unupgraded Flyrant. Maybe GW will do that? Maybe?

Getting Started With The Nuns[edit]

As of the time of this writing the Sisters of Battle are only marginally better supported than GW's old specialist games, at least Bretonnia is all in plastic, but the Sisters are all still in metal. In fact their range may be up to 90% of the models GW sells that still are in metal and they are priced accordingly to that. To build a single ten Sister squad leaves you almost 90 US dollars poorer right there, not counting any special or heavy weapons you want to add. The sculpts themselves are also over 20 years old, thankfully due to there unique nature and design most of their models are still very pleasant to look at, but nevertheless an update would be appreciated.

Compounding the issue is the fact that GeeDubs is cutting the range in to more tatters than a particular incident involving Grey Knights, the Sister's most notable loss of late was the Immolator (The local GW manager wasn't even aware of this fact) and most recently stocks of Sisters bearing Blessed Banners have dried up in the UK. Making hounding eBay the only real alternative.

Until that happens, any player looking to start Sisters has an unique problem; actually getting models for their army in a cost-effective way. This is especially problematic for the Sisters since they can and will eventually amass quite a bit of power-armored models, which while not as many as the IG or the Ork, they are still a wallet screaming nightmare to put together.

The first answer is to proxy, look for another company for models. The problem is that Sisters are unique. If you look around among other miniature manufacturers you'll find that the 'army of nuns in power armor' theme is, surprisingly uncommon (given how many Space Marines knockoffs you can find). Sure you can find one or two models, but nothing you can replicate army-wide. Your odds of finding proper models go up if you just look for 'girls in power armor' but even then your pickings are slim. Again any option you do find will likely be hard to use army wide unless you really commit to kit bashing to deal with weapon and pose problems. There's a few ideas and links in the tactica.

All in all until GW puts some plastics out, there are no good options for sister players at the moment except MAYBE casting if you're dedicated and want official models on a budget.

The James Swallow books: SoBs can win too![edit]

Sister Miriya from Hammer & Anvil, yes, Black Library artists can draw pretty sisters too.

Among Black Library, there are two books, specifically starring the Sisters, that are widely considered to be some the finest portrayals of SoBs in all of 40K fluff. Both were authored by James Swallow, who decided that Sisters needed some attention and got to work. The first, Faith and Fire, has the Sisters battling with what are basically terrorist psykers on a shrine world while trying to uncover the reasons behind the attacks. (With the SoB basically flat out stating the Space Marines are deviant mutants and should be exterminated. GG there Swallow. The Emperah's flesh and genetics are a disease) Then there's the sequel, Hammer and Anvil. Remember reading about Sanctuary 101 up there? This book has them going back there and trying to figure out what happened. While saying too much would be spoiling it, it can be said that shit hits the fan hard and that the final battle is very epic stuff. Also, if you're feeling extra faithful, Swallow wrote an SoB audiobook called Red and Black. A prequel to Faith and Fire, it has the Sisters being sent to a recently rediscovered planet as representatives of the Imperium, and ultimately to judge it. Needless to say, things get complicated. Also features a Scottish SoB. So, you can help the Sisters by getting the above books so that Games Workshop and Black Library may decide to change their minds and give some love to these girls. Or at least give them some additional badass portrayals. (This would be a legit idea if the cheapest Hammer and Anvil can be tracked down for wasn't £195, yea you read that right) [unless you get it from Black Library for £6.99... so... not sure where you got the £195 from]


The Sisters of Battle employ a costly yet simple tactic whenever they're called out for battle:

1. Bring thousands of sexually deprived Sisters of Battle into the field.
2.Arm them all with Melta and flame-based weapons.
3.Tell them they can shlick to the image of the Emperor if they triumph over the foul enemies of the Imperium. HERESY. *BLAM*
4.Set them loose, hope you are not fighting slaaneshi cult.
5.If they do win, all remaining Imperial troops, save for the SoBs, are ordered off the field.
6.No other accounts can be heard of, as remembrancers and all other Imperial journalists are sworn to an oath of silence on whatever events transpired.

(Yes we do have a real tactica, its here.)

See Also[edit]

External Links[edit]

Costume Gallery[edit]


Imperial Eagle.jpg Institutes within the Imperium of Man Imperial Eagle.jpg
Adeptus Terra: Adeptus Administratum - Adeptus Astra Telepathica - Adeptus Astronomica - High Lords of Terra
Adeptus Mechanicus: Adeptus Titanicus - Explorator Fleet - Legio Cybernetica - Skitarii
Armed Forces: Adeptus Arbites - Adeptus Custodes - Planetary Defense Force
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Imperial Cult: Adeptus Ministorum - Adepta Sororitas - Death Cults - Schola Progenium
Inquisition: Ordo Chronos - Ordo Hereticus - Ordo Malleus - Ordo Necros - Ordo Sepulturum - Ordo Sicarius - Ordo Xenos
Officio Assassinorum: Callidus - Culexus - Eversor - Maerorus - Vanus - Venenum - Vindicare
Other: Order of the Iterators - League of Black Ships - Navis Nobilite - Remembrancer Order - Rogue Traders - Sisters of Silence
Notable Members: God-Emperor of Mankind - Malcador the Sigillite - The Perpetuals - The Primarchs