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The Deathwatch are a unique and specially trained Space Marine Chapter that dedicates its every hour to xenos hunting. They are the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, charged with protecting it in its search of information, containment, and ultimate destruction of all xeno species. Consisting of Battle-Brothers drawn from many Chapters, the Deathwatch operates from Watch Fortresses and Watch Stations across the whole of the Imperium.

Marine Basic Data Chapter Symbol
- Deathwatch. -
Founding Chapter: None, members inducted from several different chapters.
Founding: Unknown.
Chapter Master: Unclear, if any.
Homeworld: Talasa Prime[1]
Fortress-Monastery: Inquisitorial Fortress at Talasa Prime [1]
Colours: Blacked out armour with silver left arm. Right shoulder as per chapter of origin.
Specialty: Xenos
Strength: Unknown
Battle Cry: 'Suffer Not The Alien to Live'


Deathwatch Marine (Space Wolves)

Rather than following the standard Codex Astartes organization, the Space Marines themselves are drawn from many different chapters. These chapters have sworn sacred oaths to raise a unit of Space Marines specifically for this task. The warriors are then gathered together to fight where and when they are needed.[Needs Citation]

Giant fortresses orbit desolate worlds at the edge of the galaxy, keeping constant vigil over possible xenos forces. There are also several secret bases spread throughout the Imperium, which provide a launch site for their crusades.[Needs Citation]

The warriors who fight are given the honour of painting their armour black (to show their service to the Emperor), while leaving one shoulder pad with the original insignia of the Chapter from which the marine came. Although the armour is painted black, it is never all painted black as this action would dishonour the armour's Machine Spirit. They also are equipped with a new shoulder pad with the symbol of Deathwatch onto their other side. Once in the employ of the Deathwatch, there is no set length of time for service, rather it is as long as the commander deems necessary. Each Space Marine may serve a discrete amount of time, or for the duration of a mission, which may be a number of years. Once the mission is complete, the Space Marine is allowed to return to his chapter, under an oath of silence, as their duty has been fulfilled.[Needs Citation]

The orders of the Deathwatch are not merely the cleansing of xenos cultures. They also include the recovery and study of alien devices and artifacts. Sometimes it is necessary to use a weapon against the enemy who created it, although this is not taken lightly. The Deathwatch are constantly vigilant for sabotage, or to advise if it is truly safe to use a weapon of xenos origin. The Adeptus Mechanicus are always on the lookout for alien technology; the C'tan Phase Sword, used by the Callidus assassin was recovered from a Necron tomb world and successfully integrated into the arsenal of the Imperium.[Needs Citation]

Usually, a Deathwatch team is led by an Inquisitor, but in extreme circumstances, a Deathwatch Captain or Librarian may take command of the unit. Their word is law, and can requisition anything they desire to complete their objective. They are the best armed and trained units in the Imperium. They might be deployed in areas where conventional methods are insufficient or if the troops available are not properly equipped or trained for the task. The presence of a Deathwatch team is always welcomed, even though they are feared by all those who know of them.[Needs Citation]
A Deathwatch Veteran


The seeds of the Deathwatch were first sown during the War of the Beast, when a mighty warboss known only as The Beast nearly destroyed the Imperium.[28a] During the war, Lord Commander of the Imperium and Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists Koorland realized that small Kill-Teams of Astartes were required to eliminate The Beast and key strategic assets. Needing experience and knowing that no new Foundings could be created in such a short time, the recruits were to be drawn from a multitude of existing Chapters. Despite the reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to approve the creation of this force, desperation forced their hand. The original recruits were drawn from units of survivors of Koorland's invasion of Ullanor which saw heavy Astartes losses. Thus standing in vigil of their fallen brothers, the Deathwatch came to be. Their first mission was to eliminate the Ork Attack Moon plaguing Terra.[29] Shortly before the second invasion of Ullanor to try and slay The Beast, Koorland reached a power-sharing agreement with Inquisitorial Representative Wienand to try and avert crisis with the suspicious High Lords of Terra. It was agreed that the Deathwatch would fall under the purview of the Inquisition but that a Space Marine would serve as a Chapter Master. The first Chapter Master of the Deathwatch, known as the Watch Commander, was Asger Warfist.[30]

An account from older editions states that centuries ago, a Conclave of Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Lords, known as the Apocryphon Conclave of Orphite IV - convened with the purpose of formulating a galaxy-wide strategy to combat the many xenos civilizations assailing mankind. Foreseeing an age where mankind would eventually consume the Imperium itself, the conclave sat and debated for many years. Some advocated the annihilation of all xenos, some that certain less-violent civilizations should be "tolerated". However a strategy was eventually formed and the Conclave requested an audience with many assembled Chapter Masters of the Adeptus Astartes. After hearing the Inquisitor's pleas, the Chapter Masters deliberated for one night before giving their verdict: they and the Inquisitors would together take a solemn oath and form a new Chapter, one drawn entirely from Battle Brothers from existing chapters. The alliance dubbed it the 'Deathwatch', for it would stand guard against the doom foretold by the conclave.[7a]


The Deathwatch has developed several distinct tactical deployments over its long history, developed over its wars against Xenos. These tactical methods are taught at every Watch Fortress.[28b]

  • Furor Tactics involve the delivery of explosive firepower across a wide frontage. By concentrating on tightly-packed hordes of their foes, corpses of the enemy slow the advances of those behind. They were developed by Squad Veridium to combat Orks and Tyranids.[28b]
  • Venator Tactics were developed to fight Wych Cults. First created by Jaaghen Khan, Venator tactics involve using Jetbikes to engage in long running battles leading their fire. The enemy is eventually struck by an encirclement maneuver that swings back to surround them.[28b]
  • Malleus Tactics were first used by Captain Brontos on Rakkor IX against the Tyranids. Malleus tactics involve using Land Raiders to claim larger enemies before using Power Weapons to engage them in close combat.[28b]
  • Purgatus Tactics were developed by the Librarian del Athyu and involve the application of utmost force on the leadership figures in alien hordes.[28b]

Notable Engagements

Deathwatch forces battle Genestealers
Deployments of the Deathwatch across the Galaxy


Deathwatch Marines are most frequently divided into Kill-Teams, specialized combat units consisting of Marines from various Chapters.[4] The Deathwatch itself is heavily integrated with the Ordo Xenos, operating from Watch Fortresses and Watch Stations across the Galaxy. Operating mostly in small elite teams alongside the Inquisition, rarely does the Deathwatch gather in large strength.[7]

Deathwatch ranks and positions


Main article: Deathwatch Armoury

Deathwatch members have access to a range of specialist equipment such as the Stalker Boltgun and variant bolter ammunition such as Inferno Bolts, Kraken Penetrator Rounds, Metal Storm Frag Shells and Stalker Silenced Shells.[1]

The most widely used aircraft by the Deathwatch is the Chapter-exclusive Corvus Blackstar.

Chapter Fleet

The Deathwatch operates its own fleet, and most notable of these ships are Kill-ships, specialized bombardment craft to enact Exterminatus upon worlds lost to the Imperium. The Deathwatch often deploys from Inquisitorial Black Ships for planetary strike operations.[7]

The Deathwatch battles Orks

Known ships of the Deathwatch

Notable Members

Watch Commanders

Watch Masters









Contributing Chapters

Hundreds of Chapters have contributed to the Deathwatch over its history. Only one has been found wanting, its honor forever tarnished.[28b] Specific chapters that are known to contribute troops to the Deathwatch include;

Deathwatch Scouts (Raven Guard) [27]

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