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40K Lore: Origins Of The Deathwatch

3 Minute Read
Apr 28 2018
Warhammer 40K

Loremasters, today we dive into the origins of the most elite Xenos Hunters in the galaxy – the black-clad Deathwatch!

The Deathwatch are a unique and specially trained Space Marine Chapter that dedicates its every hour to xenos hunting. They are the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, charged with protecting it in its search of information, containment, and ultimate destruction of all xeno species. Consisting of Battle-Brothers drawn from many Chapters, the Deathwatch operates from Watch Fortresses and Watch Stations across the whole of the Imperium.

The seeds of the Deathwatch were first sown during the War of the Beast, when a mighty warboss known only as The Beast nearly destroyed the ImperiumDuring the war, Lord Commander of the Imperium and Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists Koorland realized that small Kill-Teams of Astartes were required to eliminate The Beast and key strategic assets.

Lord Commander of the Imperium – Chapter Master Koorland

Needing experience and knowing that no new Foundings could be created in such a short time, the recruits were to be drawn from a multitude of existing Chapters.Despite the reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to approve the creation of this force, desperation forced their hand. The original recruits were drawn from units of survivors of Koorland’s invasion of Ullanor which saw heavy Astartes losses. Thus standing in vigil of their fallen brothers, the Deathwatch came to be.

Their first mission was to eliminate the Ork Attack Moon plaguing Terra. bShortly before the second invasion of Ullanor to try and slay The Beast, Koorland reached a power-sharing agreement with Inquisitorial Representative Wienand to try and avert crisis with the suspicious High Lords of Terra. It was agreed that the Deathwatch would fall under the purview of the Inquisition but that a Space Marine would serve as a Chapter Master. The first Chapter Master of the Deathwatch, known as the Watch Commander, was Asger Warfist.

A Watch Commander of the Deathwatch


Conflicting Orgins

An account from older editions states that centuries ago, a Conclave of Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Lords, known as the Apocryphon Conclave of Orphite IV – convened with the purpose of formulating a galaxy-wide strategy to combat the many xenos civilizations assailing mankind. Foreseeing an age where mankind would eventually consume the Imperium itself, the conclave sat and debated for many years. Some advocated the annihilation of all xenos, some that certain less-violent civilizations should be “tolerated”.

However a strategy was eventually formed and the Conclave requested an audience with many assembled Chapter Masters of the Adeptus Astartes. After hearing the Inquisitor’s pleas, the Chapter Masters deliberated for one night before giving their verdict: they and the Inquisitors would together take a solemn oath and form a new Chapter, one drawn entirely from Battle Brothers from existing chapters. The alliance dubbed it the ‘Deathwatch’, for it would stand guard against the doom foretold by the conclave.

Want to learn more about the Deathwatch? Check out the Lexicanum!


Author: Adam Harrison
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