News for April 2010
Chapters of the Deathwatch, Part Three 30
The Third Chapter is Revealed!
Deathwatch | Published 09 April 2010

Greetings, Deathwatch fans!

Working on Deathwatch was not only a dream come true for a 40K fan like myself, it was also a great opportunity to dig deep into the rich background of the grim darkness of the far future and get well-acquainted with the particular beliefs and traditions of the various Chapters that are involved with the Deathwatch.

During the development of Deathwatch, I knew we would need to make each Chapter feel special and distinct. There are many mechanics built into the game that accomplish this goal, and among them was a decision to create Chapter-specific advance tables. I took a selection of advances and made them available to all Space Marines of that Chapter, regardless of any other factors, and in this way presented an opportunity for that Chapter to be more distinct and different from the others. For example, due to their nature, the Dark Angels have access to certain forbidden lore that most other Chapters do not! Furthermore, each Chapter has access to certain specific abilities—including (but not limited to) Talents—reserved for them alone.

One of the key elements of the Deathwatch RPG is the idea of these different chapters working together as a team to accomplish the most dangerous special missions against unspeakable threats.


Among the many Chapters of Space Marines, few are more iconic and famous than the Dark Angels. Plus, the opportunity to present the age-old rivalry between them and the Space Wolves is simply too awesome not to include! The redoubtable Andy Hoare provides us with a glimpse into this secretive Chapter, below:

The Dark Angels

“Repent, for tomorrow you die!”
–Battle cry of the Dark Angels Chapter

The Dark Angels stand first amongst the Space Marine Chapters, as they have done since their very inception. Theirs is a proud Chapter, with traditions and rituals that date back to the earliest days of the Imperium. The origins of the Dark Angels Chapter are shrouded in mystery, however. Few records of its beginnings exist, nor are there many mentions of the part it played in the Emperor’s Great Crusade. Most references in the histories of the Imperium to its deeds during the accursed times of the Horus Heresy have been expunged. But yet, a legend persists that at one point the Dark Angels teetered on the very brink of heresy and that an act of the most terrible betrayal discredited all of the Chapter’s feats of valour, leaving an enduring stain upon the Chapter’s honour. Such is their shame that from that time onwards, the Dark Angels have borne the mark of the Unforgiven and must strive for absolution from the sins of millennia past.

Their terrible secret is that during the Horus Heresy, some of their brethren turned to the side of Chaos. The renegades were defeated in a battle that destroyed the Dark Angels’ home world, Caliban, but many of the traitor Dark Angels survived to be cast through space and time by the intervention of the Chaos Gods. These survivors are known to those few Dark Angels granted knowledge of their existence as The Fallen. In the eyes of the Chapter’s leaders, there is only one way that the Chapter can ever atone for its shame, restoring its honour and trust in the eyes of the Emperor: that is, if all of the Fallen are found and either made to repent, or slain.

The Chapter has been shaped by its dark past and is secretive and monastic in nature, with much time given over to worship and prayer. There are many different levels within the Chapter which individuals may gradually rise through. On attaining each new level, they are granted a little more knowledge of the truth behind the Dark Angels’ origins, but only the highest-ranking members of the Chapter know the terrible, shameful secret of what occurred ten thousand years ago.

Although only the upper echelons of the Chapter are aware of the awful truth of the Dark Angels’ past, even those newly recruited are possessed of a secretive, even introverted nature. The idea that outsiders are not to be trusted is drilled into the recruits from an early stage, and they are tested continuously to ensure their compliance until it becomes second nature. After all, a brother who cannot be entirely trusted to keep the Chapter’s secrets is unlikely to advance through its ranks.


Although the Dark Angels have fought beside all of the branches of the Imperium’s vast military machine, they prefer to stand alone. Many, even brother Astartes, find the Dark Angels aloof and uncommunicative. The Dark Angels, for their part are impatient and unforgiving with strangers who pry into their affairs. In truth, those Dark Angels who are aware of the existence of the Fallen are ever watchful for any sign of their activity, and will abandon whatever mission they are about should they gain any clue that one is nearby. In theory, even a Dark Angel seconded to the Deathwatch could go “off mission” in this manner, although the annals of Watch Fortress Erioch do not relate any such incident taking place.

Despite their Chapter’s tendency towards seclusion, many Dark Angels have served with distinction and honour in the Deathwatch. Their taciturn nature and stubborn refusal to accept anything other than total victory over their foes has served the Deathwatch well, and several noted Watch Commanders are drawn from the Chapter. These keep in close contact with one another, coordinating the efforts of the Deathwatch across entire sectors of the Imperium.

Forward, Battle-Brothers!

Join me next week as we reveal the fourth Chapter for the Deathwatch and discuss more about the mechanics of this action-packed roleplaying game!

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 (30)

miss dee
Published: 5/11/2010 5:30:02 PM

A friend of mine in the USA has made a tone of DA Marines into DW.

Published: 4/16/2010 9:54:22 PM

I agree with Bish in that if you really want to keep a secret, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself - and refusing to answer the call of the Inquisition is likely to draw more than a little attention. :)

The addition of the Dark Angels to the starting Chapter line-up brings up some interesting roleplaying opportunities related to one of the defining qualities of the Adeptus Astartes (and, I think, especially the Dark Angels): loyalty. Conflicting loyalties tend to spawn "interesting times". Here, there's loyalty to the Chapter (of course), but also loyalty to the Imperium of Man as a whole, and to the comrades-at-arms of the moment.

What I find especially inrtiguing in the Deathwatch as an organisation is that it takes in individuals of exceptional talent and ability who have undergone a comprehensive process of indoctrination in their home units to never let that unit down. They live shoulder to shoulder withtheir battle-brothers in a relatively closed environment, now to be ordered by the Chapter they love to serve with others of equal ability, equal status, and in some important ways differing manners. As I see it, not even Space Marines are immune to culture shock. :) Now these all but strangers of the Deathwatch are their battle-brothers, the people they have to trust with their lives. When a unit undertakes tasks as dangerous and important as those of a Deathwatch Kill-team, loyalty to the squad si paramount.

At a wargame scale the internal trials and tribulations of the individual cannot take center stage, so the character of the Space Marines easily boils down to what colour armour they wear. What fascinates me about a Space Marine RPG is the chance to dig into the mind of the individual, and in Deathwatch we get a chance to explore what happens to the best and the brightest of ultimate warriors when exposed to new cultures and ideas.

I started playing WH40k when it first came out, so I've seen the canon polymorph enough to always see them more as guidelines than actual rules. These design journals serve the fine purpose of signaling how the design team interprets the canon, and therefore let us, who know the general background of the Chapters already,  know what they're going for.

Maybe I should put an end to this rambling commentary of mine, and simply conclude by thanking the design team for letting us know how they see the WH40k universe. We all see it differently, and long as we enjoy it we can't be wrong!

Published: 4/16/2010 5:00:56 AM

Mr. Grimace i with you about the Imperial Fists i hope there one of the chaper in this book

Published: 4/15/2010 6:24:53 PM

One has to remember that while the inquisition may not trust the Dark Angels they also don't really know why they don't trust them. They just know that the Dark Angels act untrustworthy.

There was a great 40k comic awhile back that had Dark Angels boarding a Space Hulk and being forced to team with the Inquisition while they investigated the ship. Once the Dark Angels realized there were Fallen on board they did everything they could to keep the inquisitor distracted from learning the truth.

As they say, keep your friends close, keep your enemies even closer.

- bish

Laurence J Sinclair
Published: 4/12/2010 1:26:10 PM

There is precedent for Dark Angels in the Deathwatch.  The old 'Deathwatch' comic strip in Warhammer Monthly had a DA in it.  Presumably the chapter sends members who aren't fully inducted into their secrets.

Mr. Grimace
Published: 4/12/2010 11:19:38 AM

 I would love to see Imperial Fists...but I am not going to hold my breath. 

Published: 4/12/2010 10:35:18 AM

I'd love to see the Salamanders, White Scars, Dark Raven, Iron Fist, and Blood Angels in it as well.  I was surprised to see the adding of Dark Angels but they do work a bit with the Death Watch in the past.  I think eventually we will see all the named chapters in supplements.  Though I really hope they release rules for making your own chapter when they release the core book.  I'll be rather sad if they don't or don't provide guidelines at the very least.

Published: 4/12/2010 8:19:59 AM

For those who contest that Dark Angels should be in Deathwatch, I agree but... GW has stated before that everything authorized to be published by GW for 40k is cannon, even if it is contradictory.  (So, pick and choose your version, and ignore the rest)

That said, I am a DA player and fan, and I agree that Dark Angels aren't trusted by the Inquisition and that the Dark Angels themselves wouldn't let one of their own run with an Inquisitor (too much opportunity for secrets to slip..) Though if you didn't have them in Deathwatch, people would be disappointed. For me, a DA in my Deathwatch group would be an exception, with a custom crafted backstory of why they were there. 

Published: 4/12/2010 3:25:34 AM

To add the Raven Guard in the game will allow to play a "Sneaky" space marine.

Published: 4/12/2010 12:53:27 AM

As much as I am looking forward to this, it is a bit predictable so far. Space Wolves, Ultramarines, Dark Angels. I expect Blood Angels, Imperial Fists and probably White Scars. Though I would prefer to see all th first founding chapters represented. I am interested in seeing how official Space Marines compare to the fan made stuff and hope to see some official rules for vehicles, though the fan made stuff has been adequate so far. Also want to see stuff about combining Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch into a single campaign. I mainly got Rogue Trader because I had decided that the parties Inquisitor is blackmailing a Rogue Trader. (This gives them permanent transport and lets me involve them in Rogue Trader stories, as well as a potential ally when they finally go up against their Inquistor.) Would also be nice to see some stuff on combining Role Playing and Table Top. I like to do big battles in my games.

Published: 4/11/2010 6:21:36 PM

That's what i said from the beginning.

Inquisition does not trust the Dark Angels...

That's why they can't be in Death Watch...

Still, Games Workshop material is full of incoherence.

Published: 4/11/2010 8:39:55 AM

That's not possible. Dark Angels are not trusted in Inquisitorial forces. Says it right in 2nd edition Dark Angels Codex. Don't get me wrong, it's sweet they are in there, but still....

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