40K Lore: Secrets of the Adeptus Custodes

Come loremasters and learn secrets of the Emperor’s personal order of gilded guardians – the mighty Adeptes Custodes.

First the basics Loremasters:

The Adeptus Custodes (The Guardians, Watchers of The Throne, The Thousand Companions, The Ten Thousand) more commonly known as Custodians, are the guardians of the Imperial Palace and the Golden Throne, as well as being the personal bodyguard to the Emperor. Due to the vast size of the Imperial Palace, the Custodes always act as a defensive army. For the most part the Custodes themselves never leave Terra, and only rarely leave the Palace. It is the Adeptus Custodes that decide who may enter the throne room of the Emperor, and when. Such is their authority that in this matter that Space Marines and Inquisitors must kneel before them.

The Custodes are Old

The original Custodians were the first genetically and psychologically altered warriors to appear in the Emperor’s armies during the Terran Unification Wars, where they served as the Emperor’s personal bodyguard.The original recruits of the Custodes were from the offspring of Terran nobility. The first known appearance of the Custodes was early in the Unification Wars during the fall of Techno-Barbarian fortress at Nas’sau. There the man who would later become the emperor is shown in artwork flanked by four figures in gold and red wargear. This predates even the Thunder-warriors.

The Custodes are Immortal

While many consider the Custodes to be similar to the Astartes their creation is completely different. Aspirants are chosen under a much stricter regimen than Astartes, and the process to create them begins at infancy, rather than adolescence. The process is a full genetic alteration, without the “mass produced” butchery of organ implantation. Each Custodes is created and tested in a unique almost handcrated method. Once fully grown an Custodes is effectively immortal outside of violence.

The Custodes are More than Mere Soldiers

 Each Custodes is a mighty warrior – almost unstoppable in single combat. They do not have the Astartes soldier’s mindset to instinctively work as part of a larger whole, but instead each is a tower of might to himself. They were made to be the ultimate guardians and that they are. But they were also made to exist in the company and conversation of the Emperor. They have keen minds made to not only fight, but think freely and debate on everything from philosophy to history, diplomacy and pressing topics at hand – making them effective emissaries.

The Custodes are Many

The Adeptus Custodes are known as “The Ten Thousand” – their full strength – which was reached by the time of the Horus Heresy. They are still at full strength in the days of Guillimans’ return. After the Emperor’s interment in the Golden Throne, they remained at his side on Terra, to guard his person. What the future holds with the Primarch’s return is unknown.

The Custodes Are the Best Equipped Force in the Imperium

For a force so large, the Custodes have an armoury unmatched in the Imperium. No mass produced bolters and powered armor for the Custodes. Each has armor and weapons made to their exact physical requirements.  Forbidden weapons from Old Night that wars were fought over such as Adrathic and Lastrum weapons are shared with no others – much to the irritation of the Mechanicus. They can muster anti-grav vehicles in mass, and even mundate items such as bolter rounds are exotic handmade types restricted to their use alone.

Truly these will be terrible foes to the enemies of mankind – wielded under the direct control of Guilliman.  The Forces of Chaos had better be ready, for they will be tested as they have not been in 9000 years!

Learn More of the Adeptus Custodes

~How excited are you for the most elite and golden army in Warhammer 40,000?

 

 

  • ectoplasmic gyrator

    Huzzah! Here’s to hoping we get some use of Adrathic weapons, even if it’s just relic access. I’m betting GW introduced those wrist-mounted grenade harnesses to fill the death ray gap with something less people will be upset by.

    Also, you heard it here first – putting my money on those Alarus Termies retaining standard 3 W for Custodes – assuming they’re not assembled as the optional characters. They probably didn’t bring the Aquilon bois out to play because their larger mass would demand an extra Terminator wound like other armies. The Alarus look to have the same profile as reg. guys just more shoulder/neck armor, so probably just get a 4++.

    Hoping against that though, and that Sagitaron Guard and Aquilon Termies make an appearance. Favorite existing models to be sure. Even if they don’t, can’t wait to get 3 squadrons of jetbikes to run down some traitors! Such gorgeous, fluffy sculpts ⚡

    • AEZ

      Lol.. it sounds like every one of the 10K guys is a different unit type :D.

    • Erber

      I really hope we see some Aquilon Terminators for 40k 😀 the Alarus Custodians seem to be the middle point between a regular custodes and a terminator so assuming 3 wounds and 4++ sounds like a good estimate to me. I’ll be buying it all regardless 😛

    • euansmith

      Is there any word of GW bringing out plastic versions of Sagittarum Guard Squad? I like the scale and ornament on the Custodes, but I’m put off by the daft bolter-halberds and bolter-swords.

      • ectoplasmic gyrator

        Not yet, but aside from the dreadnaughts, Sagitaron seem like the best fit aesthetically & tactically to bring over for 30k. They mentioned they’re bringing over “everyone’s favorites” so we’ll see. Despite gorgeous models people rarely seem thrilled about bringing them :

  • Huntard

    I’ll only be happy if we get oiled up underwear Custodes with giant helmets as a unit.

    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      My loincloth is quivering with anticipation!

      • polyquaternium7

        I see you shiver, with antici……https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlwnbcxBuzI

        • Dennis J. Pechavar

          Not where I was going but I like your thinking!

          • euansmith

            That was exactly where my mind went, but maybe my brain, wasn’t entirely to blame.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            You’re a hotdog!

          • euansmith

            Goddammit, Dennis!

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            😛

  • Rainthezangoose

    From a bussiness perspective its also a great option for someone without the time and money for something more numerious like Orks or Guard. It takes that marine logic to the extreme. Having the option to play a full game with 10-20 models IS a good thing for the hobby.

    • Jack Biddo

      This is why I just started building and painting my Custodes from that 30k boxed game I got. After trying to speed up my batch painting techniques for I’ve found out that I’m just a really slow painter. My armies all have about 30 fully painted minis with the rest just primed black and gray. So an army of less than 30 dudes sounds perfect for me.

      • BaronSnakPak

        And if you buy the Retributor Armor spray primer then a lot of the work is done for you.

  • Fergie0044

    How are they at full strength? I’ll admit to not knowing much about them but I assume the creation process is so difficult that it requires big E to be personally involved?
    Yet we know they suffered a lot of causalities in the war in the webway and presumably more during the siege of Terra. How did they replenish after big E was stuck on the throne?

    • Domenico Malavisi

      The creation process of custodes has nothing to do with big E. He does not need to be involved in every single creation process (from infant to man), what a tedious way of making body guards.

      • Fergie0044

        Nothing?!? Are they (and the marines and primarchs) not his own creation? If not, are they just a more time consuming version of a marine then that can just be cooked up in a lab?

        Thinking about it, I wonder what happened to all the scientists and such on Terra who were helping the Emp make his custodes, primarchs etc. Surely they could have been put to good use post-heresy?

        • 6Cobra

          Apparently they spent the last 10k years helping Belisarius Caul in super-duper secrecy.

          • euansmith

            If only they’d read Caul’s Non-disclosure Notices before signing them.

      • Ben Smith

        On the other hand haven’t they been fighting in the web way through the Terran gate since heresy era?

        • Fergie0044

          I won’t have thought so. It was sealed by the Emperor, so why go back in?

          • euansmith

            Morbid curiosity?

          • Fergie0044

            “Brother Micheal, I have searched EVERY square inch of the palace and I still cannot find my left sock! It is infuriating me!!!”
            “Well brother William, there is one only one other place left to check…”

          • euansmith

            It would be hilarious if it turned out that the Chaos Rift was actually caused by someone opening the Warp Gate and tearing open a trans-galactic web way. Ooops!

            “I just don’t understand why you guys keep calling it the “Sockatrix Maledictum”, pointing at Brother William, and laughing?”

          • Josh Felstead

            You guys should team up and write and entire 8th ed. parody (I don’t know how much time you have on your hands for such a ridiculous venture)

    • Jacob Hewitt

      Your being a bit single minded here m8, the Emp made them in the same way Elon Musk makes electric cars. Elon doesn’t literally build each car but hes a genius innovator who helps design the vehicle and sets up the factory.

      • Domenico Malavisi

        This. Thankyou. Clearly I didn’t mean that the emperor had NEVER had a hand in their creation, he just doesn’t have a active hand now.

      • Fergie0044

        Ok sure. And I assume they’ve been stuck on Terra until Gman sent them out in the recent fluff? So if they can make more, and have spent the last 10,000 years suffering no causalities, could there not be millions of them? Or are they too expensive/difficult to make like that?

        • Griffin

          They have been involved in stuff since the heresy and dont really ever go past 10k why not just google it vs ignorant conjecture…

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          Why aren’t there millions of Marines?

          • JPMcMillen

            I think it’s because it takes a long while to grow some of their organ implants. Especially when they keep dying in ways that don’t let the Apothecaries recycle them into new marines.

          • Rasheed Jones

            Cause of the Codex Astartes actually…new chapters aren’t supposed to be founded outside of a Founding, and Marines are supposed to be kept to a maximum of a bit more than 1000. Not every astartes chapter follows these rules, but enough do that it matters. Also, many many, more marines than custodes die in battle, as the Custodes rarely left the palace, and even now only leave in relatively small warbands.

          • euansmith

            Because GW struggles with the scale of the Galaxy 😀 I know that the IG do most of the fighting, but having only a couple of million Space Marines does seem to be spreading them a bit thin.

    • ectoplasmic gyrator

      Watchers of the Throne sets up a lot of the modern fluff and renews a lot of the Custodes themes. More depth is added besides. Basically since they’re functionally immortal, despite guard duty and blood games, they still have a lot of time on their hands.

      Most devote themselves to a variety of pursuits, intellectual and physical. Among other things, the main character has mastery of many lost languages. And while it’s not spelled out for the reader, it’s heavily implied that they still craft a lot of their gear, and look to their own recruitment and gene programs.

      At Open Day, a single Custodes was painted up in a white-with-gold livery. Though he didn’t have any unique gear, designers described a section of the organization that’s essentially relic holders and gene wrights…

      • euansmith

        As each one is unique, maybe they could form families; like Successor Chapters, but small groups of warriors crafted by a single progenitor?

        • Rasheed Jones

          I think you may have figured out thier keyword equivalent.

      • Fergie0044

        Cool – thanks for the info!

  • Sonic tooth

    I’ve never really had much interest in space Marines but custodes (and sisters of silence) really appeal to me. Pointless comment, I know

    • pokemastercube .

      its fine, the tallons of the emperor have been a rather intresting force, next to the ad-mech for me

      • Erber

        I’m exactly the same 😛 Mechanicus and Talons of the Emperor.

    • euansmith

      It is always nice to hear someone elses take on hobby things.

      Personally I’ve been interested in the Thunder Warriors but kind of ignored the Custodes; but reading this Lore makes them more appealing.

      At least, unlike the hi-tech Primaris, these guys look a bit like the product of a stagnant society trapped in an endless grim dark war.

      I’m wondering about doing some up in non-golden armour to make them look less like Stormcast. Having said that, though, if I were GW, I might bring out a Stormcast upgrade sprue to allow them to form a more lightly armoured, scout unit for the Custodes.

      • Sonic tooth

        Man I hate those f####ng stormcast so much!!!

        • frank

          I don’t hate them I think they could make some interesting bases for Costodes conversions-kit bashing =D. Been mulling over some ideas with Costodes and Stormcasts.

      • BaronSnakPak

        The black and white versions shown in the valrak youtube video looked awesome!

  • Muninwing

    i’ve been sitting on my Prospero Custodes for awhile now, completely unsure of what to equip them with.

    they look neat, but i figured i’d probably never get to field them. so let’s see what happens now…

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      I’ve been contemplating a unit with 4 stormshields and a leader with spear. I’m looking forward to seeing what the codex brings.

      • Muninwing

        complication: i love the look of their stormshields.

        i hate the goofy looking cartoony-looking sword.

        • YetAnotherFacelessMan

          Oh, well then run them with the spears. They have better shooting, are a little cheaper, and you still have a 5++.

          Alternatively, get yourself some greyknight swords, chop off the hilts, chop off the blades from the custodes swords… see if that works better for you.

          • Muninwing

            great idea! Perfect!

            thanks. this might be what makes me actually build these models…

    • BaronSnakPak

      Shields and Sentinel Blades, with a shield/vexila dude. The spears have -1 ap bolter at 24″ range and +1 strength in melee, but the shield gives them a 3+ invuln and the sentinel blade is a pistol, so you can still shoot when locked in combat. The vexila gives everyone +1 attack in melee, so the unit is crazy good in combat.

  • Legitimancer

    Secrets of the 5 minute lexicanum skim.

    • euansmith

      Lexicanum is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bell of Lost Souls; so, I guess they have kind of done the ground work. 😉

      • Legitimancer

        That was a good portion of the joke, yes. xD

        • euansmith

          Sorry 😀

  • Rafał Pytlak

    Sooo…do we have confirmation of a named custodes in the fluff who is alive now (After the Rift) and was alive 10 millenia ago durring the Heresy or no? Is Valdor still kicking?

  • BaronSnakPak

    According to the book, The Emperors Legion, only 300 Custodes directly watch over the Emperor’s throne, and it’s a lifelong position. The rest of them guard the palace, or go out into the universe to capture xenos and chaos enemies to use as training fodder on Terra.

  • helter266

    do they have psykers i wonder?

    • ectoplasmic gyrator

      Not yet, and hopefully never. Despite being my favorite faction some things really need to stay exclusive for SM and AM. It’d feel cheap.

      • Jonathon Runge

        Also, psychic powers within humanity are associated with mutation so it would be a easy explanation that none of the selected infants have the genes for psychic powers to ensure stability. Moreover the Emperor likely included a number of biological defenses within the custodes to inhibit enemy psyker attack.

        • eMtoN

          Pretty sure that was the role of the sisters

          • Jonathon Runge

            At one point in the crusade Magnus tried to penetrate the Custodes mental defences and found it difficult. This while he was still loyal and talked with the Emperor.

  • Josh Felstead

    I think the reason we haven’t seen too much of the Custodes yet is because everyone at GW is like “how do we properly represent them in a way that doesn’t totally wreck every single other faction’s face?”

    These guys are the ultimate badasses though, I’d love to see more!

  • gladiatorboy

    This. Thankyou. Clearly I didn’t mean that the emperor had NEVER had a hand in their creation, he just doesn’t have a active hand now.

  • Carey_Mahoney

    The fortress of “Nas’sau”.

    Oh boy, tawdry naming at its worst.