|Deathwatch | Published 23 April 2010|
Greetings, Deathwatch fans!
My name is Ross Watson, and I am the Senior RPG Developer in charge of Deathwatch. When I sat down to think about how to approach the Deathwatch RPG, one of the foremost things on my mind was the interaction between characters. The player characters would all be Space Marines, of course, but what is the foundation of a Space Marine? The answer is simple: nothing is more core and central to a Space Marine than his Chapter; it’s beliefs, traditions, and experiences wrought by the Chapter’s Primarch, its battle history, and much, much more.
Once I saw that the bedrock of a Space Marine is built upon his Chapter, it was easy to see that the Deathwatch RPG needed to present to the reader a set of the most distinctive and iconic Space Marine Chapters in all of Warhammer 40,000. By selecting these particular Chapters, the players would be able to understand where their characters came from and what guides them into the future. Because each of these iconic Chapters is greatly different from each other, they present a wealth of opportunities for great roleplaying and stories that the players can tell about their particular characters. Within his home Chapter, each Battle-Brother knows the members of his squad and his company very well, having campaigned with them for decades or even centuries of war against the Emperor’s enemies. That all changes, however, upon being seconded to the Deathwatch...the Battle-Brother is suddenly placed with strangers, some of whom may turn out to be friends, rivals, or even both!
This direction informed every aspect of Deathwatch. A Blood Angel, for example, will have a particular way of doing things, and that should be represented in how he leads his Kill-team on a mission. Likewise, a Space Wolf would have a very different outlook on many subjects, and this would create some fantastic gateways for some really interesting stories and roleplaying.
What you will find in Deathwatch is that every Chapter has their own individual flavour that is represented in a number of ways, from Special Abilities and Advance Tables to special Demeanours and other abilities, depending on whether that Space Marine is acting as an individual or working with the other Battle-Brothers of his Kill-team...but perhaps I have said too much, at least for now!
I depended a lot on the writers of “Project Iceberg” to bring across the special nature of each Chapter so that the reader would gain a deep understanding about what the Chapter stands for and what a Space Marine of that Chapter would be like in the game. As an example, the designer diaries for the six Chapters in Deathwatch are simply presenting a very small piece of the entire puzzle; much like the codename of the project itself, there is a great deal more beneath the surface!
All this brings me to this week’s Chapter for the Deathwatch RPG: The Blood Angels. I have a special affinity for these noble Space Marines. One of my first armies I collected for Warhammer 40,000 was the Blood Angels, and I have followed their impressive exploits ever since the 1996 Games Workshop Codex, titled Angels of Death.
Below, I am proud to present the Blood Angels Chapter, from the pen of talented Warhammer 40,000 author, Andy Hoare:
The Sons of Sanguinius
“For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my Battle-Brother eternal.”
–Last Line of the Invocation Initiate of the Flesh Tearers
The Blood Angels are the noble descendants of that most puissant and angelic of the primarchs—Sanguinius. They are perhaps one of the most celebrated Chapters in the entire Imperium, their countless heroic deeds and victories known to untold billions of the Emperor’s subjects across the length and breadth of the Imperium. The beauteous, angelic visages of the Chapter’s heroes adorn gothic facades and stained glass windows in a million holy basilicas, and their portraits gaze serenely from endlessly copied and much cherished illuminated tomes.
Yet, hidden from the multitudes, the Blood Angels harbour a terrible curse. When their beloved primarch was slain at the hands of the arch-traitor Warmaster Horus at the very height of the Horus Heresy, every Blood Angel was doomed to share a portion of the pain inflicted upon his flawless form. From that day forth, every Blood Angel has been tormented by visions of the last moment of Sanguinius. The older the Space Marine gets, the more frequent and debilitating such waking nightmares become. Should he not fall in battle, every Blood Angel will one day become so consumed by these soul-searing visions that he will descend into a madness in which he must witness the death of Sanguinius over and over again, ever unable to intervene as the warmaster enacts his vile treachery.
The very inevitability of their curse ennobles the Battle-Brothers of the Blood Angels, driving them ever onwards to a glorious death in the name of the Emperor and their primarch. Where lesser men might have surrendered to the dark urgings to shed the blood of the enemies of the Emperor, the Blood Angels have remained pure and noble for ten thousand years. Despite this, the Chapter is dying, for each year ever more of its brethren succumb to the so-called Red Thirst—the desire to rend limb from limb those responsible for the death of Sanguinius, and by extension every enemy of the Emperor.
The Blood Angels are amongst the longest-lived of all of the Space Marine Chapters, their gene-seed granting a vastly increased lifespan on all who possess it. It is not uncommon, therefore, for a Blood Angel to live for a millennium or more, if death in battle or the Red Thirst does not claim him first. These vastly extended life spans allow the Blood Angels to perfect their techniques in art as well as in war. They have centuries to perfect the disciplines to which they turn their minds, and this accounts for the fact that Blood Angels’ armour and banners are amongst the most ornate ever produced.
Following the example of their primarch, the Blood Angels espouse a vision of the galaxy in which the enemies of the Emperor can be defeated and mankind can progress to the life he was always fated to live. There is a deeply mystical streak in the Blood Angels’ doctrines, and a strong belief that things can be made better. After all, the Blood Angels are recruited from the scrofulous wastelanders of Baal, and if such can be transformed into a tall, proud, and handsome warrior, then there is hope for mankind yet. This belief can be seen in everything the Blood Angels do. They strive for perfection in all of their endeavours. Their works of art are things of beauty and symmetry. Their martial disciplines are practised unceasingly. Their doctrines are permeated with a sense of mortality and the fallen greatness of Man.
The beatific countenance and noble bearing of the Blood Angels is in stark contrast to the curse they bear. While lesser warriors might become morose or fatalistic, weighed down by the inevitability of their fate, the Blood Angels remain stoic. The Blood Angels’ cadre of Sanguinary Priests—the equivalent of Apothecaries in other Chapters—tirelessly pursue a cure to the Red Thirst. But each year, more and more brethren succumb to it. Perhaps in an effort to hold the curse at bay, many Blood Angels sleep in the same casket where their bodies were transformed from the ravaged Baalite wastelanders to the perfect forms they emerged as, the arcane machinery filtering and purifying their blood as they slumber. This is even true of many Blood Angels seconded to service in the Deathwatch. Their caskets are stored within a watch station or watch fortress, and the Blood Angel sleeps there to heal any wounds suffered during a mission, emerging whole and unsullied once more.
The quest for perfection in all they do makes Battle-Brothers from the Blood Angels ideal warriors to serve in the Deathwatch, yet their curse becomes all the more terrible. A Blood Angel may find himself isolated from others of his kin while he serves in the Deathwatch. He appears a paragon of virtue to his fellow Deathwatch Battle-Brothers, but by night he fights damnation alone in his cell, praying fervently that the curse will not claim him here, so far from his Chapter and the Sanguinary Priests who may aid him on his final journey. When the Red Thirst takes hold, it can only be overcome with extreme difficulty.
Join me next week as we reveal the sixth Space Marine Chapter for the Deathwatch RPG!
Deathwatch is a roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of the bio-engineered super-soldiers known as Space Marines. United with their battle-brothers, players will complete extraordinary missions involving some of the greatest heroes and deadliest opponents the Warhammer 40,000 universe has to offer.
So, and the sixth is going to be FFG's own homemade chapter? If that is the case, then I hope they become like the Blood Ravens; full of enough interesting little tics that they outshine the "canon" chapters and even newcomers to the universe can be convinced to actually care about the lives of these otherwise bland "manly men."
I think that you guys are on the right track, except that both the Raven Guard and the Iron Hands have black armor. Black Templars already fill that spot. It'll probably be Salamanders or Imperial Fists just to round out the colors. Seems like bad reasoning, but they will want variety in the artwork.
Wow Karmic. Talk about Karma. We must've been typing the exact same thing at the exact same time.
Ok. So the first five are in and they are exactly what most people thought they would be. What will be the last one?
I would think that Salamanders, Raven Guard, Iron Hands would be high on the list.
I don't think they will take any chapters related to the five already listed. So I would think no Fists (Crimson or Imperial).
Maybe a very obscure Chapter so that they can fill out another role in the group without trampling on the established fluff...
I highly doubt it will be the Fists, since they already have a successor Chapter from them in the Templars.
My guesses: Raven Guard, Salamanders, or Iron Hands
My hope: Raven Guard
Betting on Crimson Fists. Hoping for Raven Guard.
I'm totally making a Mephiston ripoff when the game's out. If there is a willpower test to avoid the Black Rage, that is. Anyway, totally excited for this, and can't wait.
Nice to see the Blood Angels make the list! This was the desire of many fans. Please let the last Chapter be the Crimson Fists...do it for me.