News for January 2011
Many Rites, Many Battles 24
A designer diary for Rites of Battle, an upcoming Deathwatch supplement
Deathwatch | Published 14 January 2011

Greetings, Deathwatch fans!

Rites of Battle, an important upcoming sourcebook for Deathwatch, will be on store shelves within a few weeks. Rites of Battle fills an significant niche in the game line by providing additional options for players and GM’s alike, plus plenty of additional rules, background, and setting information about the Deathwatch and the Jericho Reach. This book is a comprehensive guide for any Deathwatch campaign.

An outstanding writing team was assembled for this project, consisting of Owen Barnes, Andy Chambers, Ben Counter, Graham Davey, Lee Gunby, Andy Hoare, Jason Marker, Sam Stewart, Andrea Gausman, Tim Huckelbery, and Kevin Rubitsky. Many of you will no doubt recognise some of these talented writers! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of their specific contributions. Today, let’s begin with an overview of what Rites of Battle will bring to your Deathwatch campaign.

Rites of Battle contains 256 pages of content, and the writing team filled every page with new material for any Deathwatch campaign. Chapter I includes rules for the Trials that a Space Marine must pass as an Aspirant in order to be accepted into the Chapter, a section detailing the celebrated Imperial Fists Chapter, and a description of how to integrate Successor Chapters into your game. In addition, Andy Hoare crafted something many fans are really looking forward to, a thorough system to create your very own personalised and custom Space Marine Chapter!

Owen Barnes wrote in an earlier designer diary about the sections for Honours and Distinctions, and he also created some expanded rules for using Renown that go along with other additional rules for Solo and Squad Mode abilities. Yet another helpful section of the book involves Advanced Specialities, including rules for advancing your Deathwatch Space Marine into some specialised roles such as the Deathwatch Chaplain and the Deathwatch Keeper.

Chapter III focuses on expanded wargear options, including a robust description of the various marks of Power Armour that the Adeptus Astartes have used down through the millennia, and additional relics to enhance the abilities of your Kill-team.

Next, Rites of Battle contains a thorough set of vehicle rules and vehicle stats for the Space Marines, Chaos, and Tau forces. The book concludes with a look inside the mysterious walls of Watch Fortress Erioch, featuring profiles of many of its denizens, including Inquisitors, Space Marines, and more shadowy individuals who remain within the halls of Erioch for a number of reasons.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll have more designer diaries about Rites of Battle from the writing team, plus previews and much more! Stay tuned to the Deathwatch website for more information to come. For the Emperor!

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.

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Comments (24)

Donovan Obray
Published: 2/9/2011 11:44:32 PM

more drool....

Ready to see this one in my hands.


Published: 1/21/2011 4:51:34 AM

I have some insight into the flashlight question. Working backwards, the reason the fellow in the picture is not wearing a helmet is that he is a Space Marine Scout (of the Imperial Fists, though that isn't really relevant to the flashlight). Although (very infrequent) exceptions apply, most Scouts are "newly minted" Space Marines who have not yet been issued a set of Power Armor. Thus, he has no helmet to wear. Which also explains why he is wearing normal boots and pants, and you can see his shirt sleeve below his shoulder pad. Scouts are more lightly armored and generally take part in infiltration/information gathering/sabotage missions. Which would turn the question into: "If you are supposed to be sneakng around, why are you broadcasting your position with a flashlight?" *Grin*

In addition, it just occurred to me that, being a Scout, he may in fact be VERY newly minted and thus not had as much time for his Occulobe to be affected by the optic therapy mentioned in HappyDD's post. I don't feel that to be as likely but it is a possibility.


As far as Chaplains go, I have to throw my two bits. I think the wording is highly significant: "...rules for advancing your Deathwatch Space Marine into some specialised roles such as the Deathwatch Chaplain and the Deathwatch Keeper."  So, not a way to start with a Home Chapter Chaplain, but something unique and specific to the Deathwatch. And "Deathwatch Keepers" sounds incredibly interesting to me - some Deathwatch specific Librarian, or something different entirely? Can't wait to find out!

Oh, and FFG, Rock on. Seriously, this is awesome. Keep it  coming!

Published: 1/20/2011 3:23:33 PM

Hi Alex,

I'm hearing what you're saying about the helmets having light-enhancing capabilities, but check this out for the occulobe from Lexicanum:


Phase 10: This implant sits at the base of the brain, and provides hormonal and genetic stimuli which enable a Marine's eyes to respond to optic-therapy. This in turn allows the Apothecaries to make adjustments to the growth patterns of the eye and the light-receptive retinal cells - the result being that Space Marines have far superior vision to normal humans, and can see in low-light conditions almost as well as in daylight.

So I guess the "he is in super duper darkness" answer is probably the right one, since we could split hairs over what a "low-light condition" is...  Also, why wouldn't they always wear helmets?  Safety first!

Also, I think you are on the right track with the Chaplains.

Published: 1/20/2011 6:18:11 AM

Occulobe implant does not make SM see perfect in the dark. It's the helm's Autosenses that enhances sight in the dark and that fellow doesn't wear a helmet, so it makes sense.

Anyway I am sure that DW Chaplains won't get drawn from home chapters but some non-Chaplain DW Marines grow into that role. As such I expect DW Chaplains to adhere to a more oecumenical form of the creed.



Published: 1/19/2011 5:26:37 PM

Does anyone else find it weird that the marine in that picture is using a flashlight?  There were flashlights in that movie "Ultramarines" too...  But in the Deathwatch RPG core book it specifically mentions that marines get an implant that makes their vision near perfect in the dark...  I guess that guy in the picture could be in "super duper darkness", but I'm just wondering where their awesome vision ability stops being awesome and necessitates a flashlight.

Published: 1/19/2011 6:50:53 AM

As a GM, I'm most interested in the vehicle rules...I wonder if we'll get stats for some truely horrid things like Defilers and other demon engines that would be ideally placed as campaign bosses. 

Published: 1/18/2011 5:44:09 PM


I seriously cannot wait for this! Deathwatch Black Templar Chaplain! Yes please!

Published: 1/18/2011 4:05:01 PM

The question isn't: would all chaplains be suitable for the Deathwatch, or even would the average chaplain be suitable, but: would it be possible to have some chaplains be suitable for the Deathwatch? I'd say the answer to that would be yes. If a player in your game says: "I'm a chaplain, and I'm going to be stern and uncompromising and start fights with everyone who's not from my chapter" - kick them out of the group. Done. But could you imagine the role of say a Dark Angels chaplain joining the Deathwatch to scour for the Fallen and trying to remain true to their chapter while being faced with the threat of sector-menacing aliens? I think Chaplains in Deathwatch provide the best opportunity for faith-based roleplaying, since in the WH40K universe, space marines are the only ones who can balance faith with something else: and that's loyalty.

Oh, and I forgot to say - can't wait for the book, Deathwatch is awesome!

Published: 1/17/2011 12:56:57 PM

"...including rules for advancing your Deathwatch Space Marine into some specialised roles such as the Deathwatch Chaplain and the Deathwatch Keeper."

Sounds to me like the Deathwatch has its own Chaplains, who maintain Deathwatch-specific rites separate from their home Chapter's rites.

Published: 1/17/2011 11:05:45 AM

Gotta agree with Ragosch on this one.  Sounds like a great book, and the authors list is definately surprising in a good way.  But Deathwatch Chaplains?!   Seriously?!   WTF is this?  Deathwatch RPG makes a big point of drama the tension between Battle-Brothers working together from sometimes dramatically different or even rival Astartes chapters and the struggle to maintain team cohesion.  Insert a Chaplain into this and you have a recipe for disaster!  Astartes Chaplains are by their very nature stern and uncompromising to an almost absurd level: it is why they are useful to their Chapter.  Now form a Kill Team from an "Astartes-variety-pack" and then lead them in the sacred rites and rituals of faith for a speciffic Chapter and watch the fur fly!  

Published: 1/17/2011 4:43:36 AM


Kapt Keen
Published: 1/15/2011 11:29:49 PM

 Looking forward to being able to bring my custom Blood Angel successor chapter into Deathwatch with the make your own chapter rules.

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