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40K Lore: Organization of the Adeptus Custodes

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Feb 14 2018
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Come loremasters and discover the orders and sects of The 10,000 – the Adeptus Custodes.

The warriors of the Adeptus Custodes are a department of the Adeptus Terra, the Imperial government, but its members are answerable only to the Emperor and their own leaders. The organization’s leader carries the title of Captain-General, and due to the importance of the Adeptus Custodes he often holds a position in the Senate of the High Lords of Terra. Below him are two Tribunes, though during the Heresy-era there were three. Individual squads of Custodes are overseen by Shield-Captains. The Custodes’ nerve center and command & control headquarters is the Tower of Hegemon within the Imperial Palace while a small elite of three hundred Custodes, known as the Companions, form the Emperor’s personal bodyguard and never leave his side.

Although the Legio Custodes originally numbered ten thousand, around five years into the War Within the Webway they had been reduced to around a thousand. However by the 41st Millennium, they had rebuilt to their original 10,000 strength.

Ranks & Titles

The ranks of the Custodian Guard are noted as somewhat informal, as much gestures of respect towards veterans and gifted individuals as a true command structure.

  • Captain-General – Chief Custodian to the Emperor
  • Custodian Tribunate
  • Tribune – Senior Officer. There were 3 Tribunes during the Horus Heresy era, though now there are two.
  • Proconsul
  • Prefect
  • Lictor
  • Supreme Castellan
  • Aquila Commander
  • Shield-Captain – Squad Leader. These are the most veteran, well-knowledged, and experienced Custodians. The rank exists concurrently with other Custodian titles such as Prefect, Lictor, Proconsul, and Tribune.
  • Custodian

Castes & Subdivisions

Custodians belong to a caste determined by their wargear and battlefield role.

  • Hykanatoi– The main strength of the Custodian Guard. These are Guardian Spear-equipped heavy infantry. Their numbers included the Custodian Guard proper as well as several specialized units
    • Sentinel Guard – The defensive formations of the Custodes, used to defend emissaries and special facilities. During battle, they would be charged with holding the line against enemy onslaughts and as such had a greater level of teamwork than the rest of the Custodes. Sentinels were normally equipped with Praesidium Shields and Sentinel Blades.
    • Hetaeron Guard – The elite inner circle of the Custodes. The Hetaeron Guard formed the personal guard of the Emperor himself and frequently acted as his aides and confidants. The Hetaeron Guard would only leave the Emperor’s side under the most dire of circumstances.
  • KataphraktoiJetbikers. They form fast attack and reconnaissance units known as Agamatus Jetbike Squadrons or Vertus Praetors. The Kataphraktoi also operate the Custodes fighters and gunships.
  • Moritoi – The smallest unit of the Custodes, they consisted of wounded brothers interred within Dreadnoughts
  • TharanatoiTerminators. They serve as elite shock troops, siege units, and counter-attackers.
    • Sagittarum Guard – A sub-unit of the Tharanatoi Caste, they were among the least common Custodes. Their primary role was the slaying of enemies from a distance and with the use of devastating heavy firepower. In addition, they were known as the sentries of the outer perimeters of the Imperial Palace.
  • Ephoroi – A highly secretive order tasked with covert operations, counter-intelligence, assassination, and infiltration. During the Great Crusade it was said that they commanded the Officio Assassinorum.
  • Custodian Warden – Elite warriors whose skill is above all others.
  • Vexilus PraetorsStandard Bearers
  • Warders of the Vaults of Rython – Shadowy sub-force of the Custodes deployed deep within the Imperial Palace.
  • Eyes of the Emperor – Sect of retired Custodians

Shield-Hosts and Companies

The modern Adeptus Custodes are deployed in contingents known as Shield Companies and Shield Hosts.

A Shield Company consists of a contingent led by a Shield-Captain, typically consisting of a few squads of Custodians, a Vexilus Praetor, a Vertus Praetor squad, and a Allarus Terminator Squad as well as accompanying vehicles. Conversely, a Shield-Host consists of multiple Shield-Companies and is led by several Shield-Captains as well as a counsel of Vexilus Praetors.

Known such formations include the:


~What hope can the forces of Chaos have in the face of such a force.

Author: Larry Vela
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