|This article is about the holy warriors; for the Space Marine Chapter, see Crusaders.|
A Crusader is a deadly holy warrior of the Adeptus Ministorum who is recruited for his unflagging devotion to the God-Emperor. Most are inducted into the ranks of the Ecclesiarchy from a Schola Progenium, selected for their unflagging devotion to the Emperor. To be selected is a great honour, though it leads not only to a grueling life of asceticism and martial perfection, but also inevitably to an unmourned death in battle against the forces of heresy and apostasy.
Nonetheless, such a calling guarantees the opportunity to test sword and shield against Mankind's greatest enemies. Equipped with master crafted Power Swords and Storm Shields, the Crusader is a stalwart warrior whose place is in the heat of battle, surrounded by his foes.
It is improbable that a Crusader's fate will differ greatly in an Inquisitor's service. Some Inquisitors recruit Crusaders from the honour guard of the Cardinal's Crimson -- that most mysterious of all the Ecclesiarchy's many orders. It is said that nowhere else in the Imperium of Man can more devout warriors be found -- save perhaps within the ranks of the famed Adepta Sororitas.
Inquisitors are not the only ones who recruit the martial prowess of Crusaders. Ecclesiarchy priests often gather a band of bodyguards to assist them in the execution of their duties (and Heretics). Known as Battle Conclaves, these groups are necessarily small; anything larger would breach the prohibition of "men under arms" as laid down in the Decree Passive that prohibited the Ecclesiarchy from raising its own male military forces in the wake of the abuses carried out during the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium by the Renegade High Lord and Ecclesiarch Goge Vandire. Even so, the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus covertly monitors the activities of the Ecclesiarchy's Battle Conclaves to safeguard the spirit of the Decree Passive, if not its letter.
Across the Imperium there exist countless orders that combine martial and religious ideals, each venerating and serving the God-Emperor according to its own ideals and traditions. To such warrior-monks, war and worship are one and the same. One type of order, little known to anyone outside of the Inquisition, is the Crusader Houses. Crusaders are warriors of utmost dedication and potency, sworn to serve the agents of the Inquisition with no regard for their own desires whatsoever. These puissant warriors are inducted into one of the Crusader Houses, each of which is a closed and secretive community with as few as a dozen or as many as several thousand members. Many of these Houses are located near to Inquisitorial facilities, and some are housed inside the larger Inquisitorial fortresses. The Tricorn in Hive Sibellus on Scintilla hosts a number of Crusader Houses, the warriors of each always close at hand to accompany Throne Agents wherever their duties may take them. The duty of a Crusader is to protect a specific Inquisitor, to whom he is bonded by a solemn, unbreakable oath. However, they are more than mere bodyguards. A Crusader is the Inquisitor’s right hand which delivers the coup de grâce or parries the attacks of his foe. To have been inducted into a Crusader House, the warrior must have been judged nigh-incorruptible, at least in so far as any mortal can be judged so. Induction into a Crusader House occurs only at the invitation of one of its senior members, and only after the subject has been scrutinised from a distance, sometimes for many years. Having joined the cloistered ranks of the Crusaders, the inductee puts aside all thoughts of personal ambition and dedicates himself body and soul to the House and the greater cause pursued by the Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition. From that moment on, the Crusader casts off wealth and all possessions beside his weapons, armour, and the articles of his faith. He takes residence in a bare stone cell within the Crusader House until such time as he is called upon to serve an Inquisitor. Then, he goes where his master wills.
Crusaders study every aspect of the arts of close combat, excelling in the use of melee weapons. As a matter of dogma, they eschew ranged weapons, believing that the pure essence of duty is only to be found in the clash of steel on steel, where blood is shed and bone hewed asunder. Crusader Houses teach many and varied martial techniques, many houses favouring a specific, signature weapon by which its members are known. Such weapons are invariably ancient and highly venerated, bedecked in devotional scripts and purity seals. They bear the intricately inscribed names and deeds of former owners, reminding the current bearer of his duties and that the eyes of the past are ever upon him. Many Crusader Houses favour long, heavy power swords, their reach able to intercept any blow that threatens their charge. Others favour massive polearms, often wielded two-handed so that the mighty haft breaks the blade of any blow it parries. In addition to their melee weapons, many Crusaders carry suppression shields of one type or another. Over the centuries, the shield has become something of an emblem of the Crusader, symbolising the essentially defensive nature of their calling. Yet, common to all suppression shields is some type of offensive capacity. Many house a compact generator that delivers a powerful stun charge when an enemy’s weapon comes into contact with its outer surface, stunning the attacker so that the Crusader can deliver the killing blow or rendering them insensible and ready for the Inquisitor’s attentions. Other suppression shields incorporate single-use fragmentation rounds, melta charges, or even gas release devices.
Many Inquisitors call upon the services of a Crusader, and Witch Hunters in particular are known to value their skills and spiritual fortitude. Although many Inquisitors are more than capable warriors themselves, others are more thinkers than fighters, preferring to surround themselves with specialists. A Crusader provides the very best personal protection an Inquisitor could hope for, allowing him to pursue his own duties safe in the knowledge that no danger can approach whilst the Crusader stands watch.
- Master Crafted Power Sword
- Crusader Suppression Shield
- Storm Shield
- Master Crafted Carapace Armour
- Badge of Office
- 1: Dark Heresy: Ascension, pg. 50
- 2: Games Workshop
- 3: White Dwarf June 2018 - Battle Report: Last Stand at Glazer's Creek II
- 4: Combat Arena Core Rulebook, pg. 13 - Entering the Arena