Chapter serfs (or Legion serfs during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy) are the normal human bondsmen and servants of a Space Marine Chapter. The Space Marines themselves are too few in number to manage all the tasks required to maintain all the aspects of the Chapter, its fleet, fortress, and other myriad aspects. It is the serfs who perform most of these vital functions.[Needs Citation]
A Chapter's fortress-monastery is home to a large population of these hereditary servants. Although they occupy a humble position, they are loyal members of the Chapter. They are generally descended from individuals selected as potential recruits to the Chapter, but in the end, judged unfit to become actual Space Marines.[Needs Citation]
The serfs are still inducted into the Chapter cult, and do not begrudge the status they could have obtained.[Needs Citation] They are generally well treated within the Chapter, are educated and trained to a much higher standard than most other servants of the Imperium, and have access to a better range of equipment. Many serfs were unsuccessful aspirants who failed to become Adeptus Astartes. [1c]
When Space Marines go to war, the serfs maintain the fortress and defend it from attack. It is unlikely that the Chapter Serfs would ever be deployed in battle alongside their Space Marine masters, as their human limitations would be incapable of keeping pace. They would still be trained to levels at least equivalent to that of the Imperial Guard, expected to assist in the defense of chapter assets such as fortresses and vessels. Indeed when facing down a Space Marine Battle Barge it would be a chapter serf manning the gun turrets, as a full Space Marine would be too valuable for the task.[Needs Citation]
The treatment of Serfs varies from chapter to chapter. While many have privileged and honors roles such as in the Space Wolves and Imperial Fists successors such as the Excoriators, in chapters such as the Carcharodons they are regarded as slaves beneath the notice of most members of the Chapter. Even before their fall to Chaos the Iron Warriors regarded Serfs as little more than replaceable fodder. In the Salamanders Serfs often form genuine bonds of friendship and camaraderie with their masters.
- Artificer - Assist Techmarines in technical & mechanical work.[3d] Sometimes called Craftsmen.[1d]
- Conversi - Serfs who operate and manage a bridge aboard an Astartes warship.
- Enginarium Laborer - Toil within the reactor and engine complexes of Chapter Warships.
- Historitors - Serfs that assist in the recording of the Chapter's history.[1d]
- Logisticiam Illuminati - Serfs that assist the Chapter in logistical matters.[1d]
- Medicae - Assist Apothecaries in medical work.[3d]
- Monitor - Hypno-indoctrinated messengers who memorize an important message and recite it upon being spoken an activation code.[3b]
- Ordinator of the House - High-ranking position that sees service to the Chapter Master as his personal seneschals.[3c]
- Refectorium - Oversee cooking in the Fortress-Monastery.[3a]
- Sacratium - Assist Chaplains in their work and maintain Chapter Relics.[3c]
- Scholiasts - Serf Scholars.[1d]
- Scribellum - Assist Librarians in the Librarius and help in the creation of Purity Seals.
- Serf-Laborer - Given construction duties.
- Serf-Pilot - Operate various vehicles and aircraft of the Chapter.
- Shipmaster - Oversee Chapter Fleet vessels.[1d]
- Warrior Serf - Serfs trained for combat.[1d]
- Aettguard — Warrior serfs used in the Space Wolves to defend their Fortress-Monestary. Drawn from the elite of the warrior serfs of the chapter, known as "Kaerls".
- Amarean Guard — Warrior serfs used in the Blood Angels to defend the Tower of the Lost.[1e]
- Auric Auxilia — Warrior serfs used in the Imperial Fists as the standing guard of the Phalanx. Formerly made up solely of failed Aspirants, its ranks were bolstered to thousands by former members of the Imperial Guard fleeing from the destruction of Cadia.
- Brander-Priest - Used in the Salamanders Chapter. These Serfs brand their masters with hot irons while they recite litanies from the Promethean Cult.
- Lictor, Seneschal, Absterge - Used in the Excoriators Chapter. Each Battle-Brother of the Chapter have 3 of these armoury specialists. The Seneschal maintains the Marine's armour, the Lictor whips him during the donning of the armour, and the Absterge tends to the wounds after.
- Helot - Used in the Mentor Legion[2b] and Ultramarines. These Serfs are assigned to a Battle-Brother of the Chapter and relay vital battlefield data from a Damocles Command Rhino to the Marine. They also assist in a variety of other roles such as donning armor, maintaining weaponry, and they themselves are trained in the use of weapons.[2b]
- Sergeant Majoris - The highest rank of the warrior-serfs in the Black Templars chapter.
- Knave - A lower form of Serf used in the Dark Angels. These are slaves who are only above Servitors in the chapter hierarchy.
General variations of the term "serf" include "thrall" and "menial".
- Blood Thrall — Used in the Blood Angels.[1b]
- Clan-Serf — Used in the Iron Hands. Sworn to a specific Clan of the Chapter.
- Helot — Used in the Mentor Legion.[2b]
- Mortal — Used in the Space Wolves.
- Servile — Used in the Angels Excelsis.[1a]
- Zart — Used in the White Scars.
Notable Chapter Serfs
- Anuradha Daaz - Mentor Legion
- Valdric - Sergeant Majoris. Chief officer of the Black Templars’s warrior-serfs.
- 1: The Devastation of Baal (Novel)
- 2: Spear of the Emperor (Novel)
- 3: Rynn's World (Novel)
- 4: Salamander (Novel), Chapter 1
- 5: Legion of the Damned (Novel), Chapter 1
- 6: Space Wolf (Novel), Chapter 9
- 7: Deathwatch: Rites of Battle, pg. 210
- 8: Battle of the Fang (Novel), Chapter 12
- 9: Savage Scars (Novel), Chapter 1
- 10: The Last Hunt (Novel), Chogorian Lexicanum
- 11: The Unforgiven (Novel), Penance
- 12: Carcharodons: Red Tithe (Novel), Chapter 11
- 13: Soul Drinker (Novel), Chapter 1
- 14: The Chapter's Due (Novel), Chapter 9
- 15: The Eye of Medusa (Novel), Chapter 4
- 16: Perturabo: Hammer of Olympia (Novel), Chapter 10
- 17: Of Honour and Iron (Novel), Chapter Six
- 18: Pharos (Novel)
- 19: Battle of the Fang (Novel), Ch. 18
- 20: Prince of Crows (Novella), Ch. IX
- 21: Codex Supplement: Imperial Fists (8th Edition), pg. 18 - The 7th Company
- 22: The Eternal Crusader (Novella), Chapter Three
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition),[Needs Citation]
- Battlefleet Gothic: Armada (Supplement), pg. 20
- Deathwatch: First Founding, pg 106