Adeptus Custodes Background

Tista Minis

Posted on October 11 2021

Adeptus Custodes Background

Adeptus Custodes

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40k, the Adeptus Custos is the guard of the golden throne, the complex mechanism that keeps the Emperor's body alive. No precise date is known for the establishment of the Adeptus Custodes, but it is known that he already performed his duties before the Great Crusade.

From the Emperor's first group of guards, the first genetically modified super-soldiers were created at the time of the war of reunification of the Holy Land, at the end of the Age of Conflict. At that time, however, they still did not bear the name Adeptus Custodes. 

They were the "Guardians of Fear," the only living beings who could appear before the Emperor. The Guardians were the largest group of warriors with an improved body and mind created by the Emperor: not only that, but they carry their genetic code to all intents and purposes, and the Emperor is their Primarch as Dorn is of the imperial shirts. They were the ten thousand strongest and best trained, the most disciplined and vigilant guardians of the Empire.

Now, down into the depths of the Sanctum Imperialis in the Holy Land, they watch over the living body of the Emperor. Before the heresy of Horus, a unit of Guardians was always in the care of the Emperor, even as he retired to his apartments. During the Great Crusade, these great warriors were always in the care of the Emperor to ensure his safety; however, they were often used individually as envoys. 

Even before heresy, it was a rare and blessed thing to see a member of the Adeptus Custodes. Due to the inclusion of the Emperor on the golden throne, it became an unthinkable eventuality. Even during the heresy, a group of guardians followed the Emperor on the ship of Horus, the vengeful spirit. 

Since the death of Horus and the wounds inflicted on the Emperor, the Adeptus Custodes has assumed a new, more defined role as protectors of the physical manifestation of the Holy Land Emperor. They constantly remain on Earth and rarely leave even the Imperial Palace alone.

 It was the action of some Adeptus Custodes, using secret passages that only they knew, that made the warrior sisters, then known as the Emperor's brides, understand the actual dimensions of the betrayal perpetrated by Vandir. After their leader, Alice Dominica, was brought before the Emperor by the guardians, the sisters executed Vandire for his heresy.

The Emperor modified the genome of the early custodians to create warriors of superhuman power. Still, his intentions were not to create a conquering army (the raison d'être of the Astartes Adeptus). Everything about the Custodians avoids the body spirit that permeates the chapters of the Space Marines, beginning with the preparation and inspection of the team (a Marine does so in the presence of his brothers, a single Custodian). The only closeness between the two armies lies in the proud recognition they have for incredible military feats.

In particular, the custodians are given a new name for each exceptional action performed for the Emperor: the names are engraved within his armor as private marks of pride, and a custodian of great power may boast hundreds of names. 

The training of the Custodians is very different from that of the Marines: the techniques taught have to make the bodyguards, assassins, spies, and possible infiltrators the political members of the Adeptus Custodes, continually assisting counter-intelligence operations on their own, pretending to want to assassinate the Emperor, or damage the throne, so that the Adeptus can always remain vigilant and trained. 

Adeptus Custodes

There is no evidence that the members of Adeptus Custodes undergo the same profound genetic changes as any member of Adeptus Astartes. It is known with certainty that they share the total incorruptibility of the Grey Knights, which gives them the privilege of remaining in the presence of the Emperor. His authority in the Imperial Palace is absolute and undisputed: even the highest lords of the Earth must obey His rules. The proper martial attitudes of the Adeptus Custodes are virtually unknown outside their circle.

Common belief states that they possess abilities far beyond those of a 'normal member of the Astartes Adeptus, or that they are to a Marine what a Marine is to an ordinary man, as well as possess the minimal psychic abilities inherited from the Emperor's DNA. 

Physically they are even more massive, with height and musculature similar to those of the Primarchs. Still, it is unknown whether the powerful supermen who were left remained or whether centuries of loneliness and a lack of worthy opponents reduced them to an unusable army. Regardless of this, the General Captain of the Guardians has a seat among the supreme lords of Earth.

Only a thousand members of the Adeptus Custodes currently serve as the Emperor's guard, with the privilege of being admitted in the presence of the Emperor himself. A centurion leads each escort unit. One of these centurions led a small handful of companions to meet Alice Dominica, commander of the Emperor's daughters (later warrior sisters) during Vandire's blood reign. Constantin Valdor is perhaps the most respected and respectable among the Emperor's sons.

Valdor was one of the first custodians and accompanied the Emperor from the beginning of his crusade, saving his life countless times. He had long conversations with Rogal Dorn at the Imperial Palace. He managed to gain the respect of Leman Russ by defeating Horus in a friendly duel (so much so that Leman Russ wanted him with him during the invasion of Prospero). 

After the heresy of Horus, he became General Captain of the Adeptus Custodes, as well as one of the first supreme lords of Earth. He was still head of the custodians during the Apostasy era but then abandoned his full title to continue defending the Emperor himself. No one knows if he's still alive. Valdor's armor is engraved with over 900 names.

Before the heresy of Horus, the guard wore ceremonial red; after the schism, they abandoned the old armor and adopted black to commemorate the "burial" of the Emperor. They only wore helmets, a cape, and trousers, leaving the chest naked. 

However, a conversion of the models made by the Games Workshop staff on the official website shows the Adeptus Custodes in golden armor. These superior warriors can be seen sporting lightning (the Emperor's symbol before the Imperial Eagle was adopted), aquiline, and chivalrous crosses.

Very little is known about the equipment and skills of a secret organization. Still, visual sources (such as an illustration of the golden throne in the 4th edition of the rule book) give the impression of richly adorned armor. The Guardians are usually depicted with a guard spear, a combination of enhanced halberd and Requiem in the days before Horus' heresy. 

A laser weapon occasionally takes the place of the Requiem. A Gladio is usually worn on the flank and should be taken into account that they have access to the equipment of each chapter of the Space Navy. In more recent depictions, The Guards are painted with improved halberd and Requiem assault rifles with grenades on the belt, maintaining the similarity with the Grey Knights.


Written By : Simona G

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