Black Templars Fluff, what is it? What themes make up the Black Templars? Now, I know that if I asked this question on B&C, I would get maybe a dozen definite answers; along with a vaguer ‘the fluff is what you want it to be’. While the latter kind of answer is true to a certain extent, neither it nor the former answers are completely accurate most of the time.
Why? Because they are often tinged by personal opinion based on connotations of certain key words or personal wishes that blow up to be the dominate factor in ‘the Black Templars Fluff’. Great examples of this are claims that Black Tide is fluffy or the ideas that are the root cause to both of the Fandexes on B&C containing Bikers with Power Lances.
Okay, back to the point about those vague answers being true to a certain extent. The reason for this is that, while the fluff itself is incomplete and subjective enough to justify pretty much any army that you can come up with, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t general truths about each army pertaining to the fluff, for example Black Templars do use tactics like Drop Pod assaults and Armored Spearhead; you aren’t going to justify that, on the whole, they don’t.
Now, we’re going to start with my statement of my own preconception of their fluff and what they’re like. After that, we’re going to go through the codex systematically and examine what is actually supported in there. (Something I should point out now is that, while some consider every single picture or story related to Black Templars to be cannon, I don’t consider them to be on par with the codex itself, just like the fluff for my own Crusade isn’t.)
What I think of the fluff is that Black Templars are Space Marines, essentially. Except, rather than adhering to the Codex Astartes, they are more like the original Legions. The fight like they always have (except where they have improved), and are organized the same way they have been since their founding. The Tactics they employ are begun with an orbital drop, or ‘Death from Above’, followed by Armored Spearhead until their goal is reached, perhaps with extra support from space. Because they are still strongly attached to the old ways, they don’t employ the newer machines very much (we don’t have Whirlwinds, etc.).
(Side note here, with the Chaos Legions coming out around-ish the same time as the Black Templars, I am really excited to see if GW makes some things that are similar to these two Codices. It also makes for some almost clichéd battles between what have become of the Legions; contrasting the Servants of Chaos, with their Marks and hyper-elite status, and the Champions of the Emperor, with whatever spiffy stuff they get. And I might as well add that I am convinced we’re going to get some spiffy stuff because that’s what has been happening for the past three codices and it is going in a great direction as far as giving each codex a distinct playstyle and pros/cons.)
The codex begins with paragraphs such as ‘Why collect a Black Templars army?’ and ‘Space Marines’ (well, technically it begins with a cool picture, and page 1 is actually the table of contents and credits, but you know what I mean). This part is almost all metagame and has little to no fluff in it aside from the general knowledge about space marines. Next!
Page 4 is titled ‘Warriors of Legend’, but it actually begins the background about the Space Marines, the Horus Heresy, and the founding of the Black Templars. As the founding and the circumstances could have some impact on them now, we’ll take a look at that.
Okay, Dorn didn’t want his Legion spread throughout the galaxy. It almost came to war, but he finally relented and the Black Templars were formed with Sigismund leading them. Seeking to prove his loyalty to the suspicions against the Black Templars, Sigismund swore an oath that he would never rest prosecuting the enemies of the Imperium and every High Marshal since has renewed that oath.
Page 8 begins what I would consider the actual fluff, as opposed to background. Okay, there’s going to be a lot here, so I’m going to switch to a bullet-point format, beginning with the points from the background.
- The Black Templars began with suspicion against them and are on an eternal crusade to dissuade that suspicion.
- Every High Marshal has sworn an oath to never rest in their Crusade against the enemies of the Imperium.
- The Black Templars do not follow the Codex Astartes.
- The Black Templars are Fleet-based.
- There are as many as five-to-six thousand Black Templars.
- Black Templars are Zealots and have no Librarians due to their mistrust of anything to do with the Warp. It is thought, however, use those Astropaths and Navigators that are sanctified by other organizations and are repentant of the curse of psychic powers.
- Black Templars are utterly ruthless towards anything that they perceive as a threat to the Emperor, mercilessly exterminating entire populations to remove heresy and going into a raging bloodlust for vengeance simply by a witch being present on the battlefield.
- Groups of Battle-Brothers fight together out of a sense of comradeship, rather than imposed organization.
- Black Templars prefer Close Combat to Ranged Warfare because Sigismund preferred it and so that you can make sure your enemy is truly dead, earn glory, and fight with the noblest ideals of valor.
- Black Templars hate to run and are only spurred on by their own losses.
- Black Templars renew a Vow before each battle, focusing on a particular aspect of their duties, encouraging extreme bravery, ruthlessness and sacred revulsion at the foe.
- The first tactic that the Black Templars use is to come down and surgically eliminate threats by using Drop Pods and Thunderhawk Gunships, leaving the enemy unable to retaliate.
- The second tactic that the Black Templars use is to maneuver at speed behind a screen of Bikes and Land Speeders, smashing through the weak points in the enemy line, armored columns slashing left and right before eliminating the remaining enemy strong points; they use this tactic if they can land heavy armor.
- Black Templars are the most independent from Imperial Authorities, almost a rogue element; and like all Space Marines they do not consider themselves subject to Imperial Rule, though they may answer calls for aid.
And beginning on page 10 we get into things that are more for Hard Sci-Fi, rather than Fluff. It talks about how a Space Marine is made, what the different types of Black Templars are (Neophytes, Initiates, Sword Brethren, High Marshal, Marshals and Castellans, The Emperor’s Champion, Techmarines, Dreadnoughts, Apothecaries, Chaplains). Now, of course this stuff is connected to the Black Templar fluff, but it isn’t defining what the fluff is, only how it relates to specific units.
Page 19 begins the Crusades of the Black Templars. Mostly it highlights what has already been mentioned about Black Templars, but the Jerulas Crusade on page 43 does illustrate something new:
- Black Templars not only refuse to flee, they refuse to give up and will continue regardless of their own losses.
- Black Templars are not actually suspicious of new-found technology and vehicles.
Everything else in the codex is rules-oriented, not pertinent, or just enforcing much of the same things (Honor and Zeal is good, serve the Emperor, destroy heretics and mutants and witches, etc.). Although I did notice a few things that are contradictory, and some things I really liked, and some that I didn’t.
Contradictory things include the phrase “Wisdom is the beginning of fear.” on page 53 when on pages 49 and 23 wisdom is shown in a good light and almost expected in experienced Black Templars. Another one that I noticed is in the Vow ‘Suffer not the Unclean to Live’, the third line which reads “Lead us to Hid Strength and an eternity of war”. Doesn’t that really strongly imply that an eternity of war is the goal? Shouldn’t the goal be the victory at the end of the Crusade, or do they actually enjoy Crusading so much that they never want to stop, regardless of what the Emperor would want? Well, I suppose you can’t expect the whole codex to be perfectly written.
Okay, next post will be taking all of this information and trying to build a coherent summation of what Black Templar fluff actually says about them.