16 Essential Black Templar Facts You Need To Know
The Black Templars are getting a new big release from Games Workshop, and if you're not excited then you don't know enough about the Black Templars.
If the Space Marines are the equivalent of medieval knights, then the Black Templars are the equivalent of Crusading knights, zealous in their mission to fight for God and righteousness at all costs. They will never back down from a challenge. They will fight to the last man. And they have saved the Imperium time and again, even though they might not follow the rules. (They believe they follow a higher authority than the Codex Astartes.)
Here are the sixteen essential Black Templar facts you need to know.
The Black Templars are a successor chapter to the Imperial Fists, led by Sigismund, Rogal Dorn's First Captain in the Horus Heresy, and upon splitting from the Imperial Fists, Sigismund led the most zealous Space Marines with him as High Marshal and Emperor's Champion. He swore a sacred oath that he would always protect the Emperor, and have been one of the most stalwart chapters of the Space Marines ever since.
The Imperial Fists actually split into four successor chapters at The Second Founding: Dorn's chosen remained as Imperial Fists; younger warriors became Crimson Fists; the most zealous became Black Templars; and the rest became Soul Drinkers (or so it was thought). (The Soul Drinkers have a storied and tragic story, but we'll save that for another day.)
Sigismund was fixated on the idea that the traitor marines would reappear at the Cadian Gate, and he waited long for the foes to reappear (while other chapters and legions scoffed at their determination). But Sigismund was proven correct when Abaddon returned in the First Black Crusade, and the Black Templar Fleet was there, ready and waiting.
Sigismund was killed in single combat against Abaddon himself.
The Black Templars have never let go of the idea that they are on a crusade, and it has lasted 10,000 years, to present day in the 41st millennium. They have no homeworld and live on their fleets.
The Black Templars believe firmly that the Emperor of Mankind is a god, and they worship him as such. They hate traitor, aliens and mutants--and therefore psykers. They will not have Librarians among their forces.
The Vows of the Black Templars are: "Suffer Not the Unclean to Live," "Uphold the Honor of the Emperor," "Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch," "Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds"
The Black Templar are often compared to the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order that was highly involved in the Crusades.
The hierarchy of a Black Templar force is different from a Codex Astartes, reflecting both the knightliness of their organization, but also their adherence to the Ecclesiarchy. They are led by a High Marshal (similar to a Chapter Master). Veterans who prove themselves are called Sword Brethren, who act as both sergeants and Terminators. Initiates are the main fighting force of the army, and each Initiate trains a Neophyte. Neophytes are new recruits, and often act in the role of scouts. That said, Neophytes also fight in regular Initiate units, side-by-side with their mentors.
On the eve of battle, a single Initiate is named Emperor's Champion, just as Sigismund had been. He is blessed by the Chaplain and given all of the finest weapons and armor--the Black Sword and the Armor of Faith.
The Black Sword is a power sword that not only has the armor piercing of a power weapon, but also greatly enhances the strength of its user. The Armor of Faith is the finest armor available, much better than standard power armor, and blessed with many prayers and catechisms.
In battle, the Black Templars make good use of Drop Pods and Thunderhawks, preferring to attack the weakest part of the enemy line with their heavy armor (the Black Templars armor of choice is the Land Raider Crusader) and then get stuck into close combat with the enemy.
The Black Templars do not follow the Codex Astartes rule that a chapter can only have 1000 Space Marines, as they are spread out across vast areas. The actual number of Black Templars is not known, but it is in the several thousands.
At any given time there are at least three Black Templar crusades, but at one point there were fourteen.
Because of the sheer numbers of the Black Templars, in comparison to other chapters, they are under constant scrutiny by the Inquisition. It is believed that no chapter should get too big because no single leader should pose another threat to the Emperor.
The best Black Library book to read about the Black Templars is Armageddon, which contains two novels: Helsreach, and Blood and Fire. It follows the defense of Hive Helsreach by the Black Templars against an overwhelming force of Orks. The story focuses on Chaplain Grimaldus who is trying to inspire everyone arounds him to follow the Black Templar doctrine of never surrendering or retreating.