T!he Adeptus Custodes is the Imperial organization responsible for guarding the Imperial Palace and the physical body of the Emperor of Mankind. They are a group of genetically-engineered superhumans that serve as the Emperor's personal guardians. Since the Emperor's interment in the Golden Throne following the Horus Heresy ten millennia ago, they have taken a far more limited role in the outside Imperium. They never leave Terra and only very rarely leave the Imperial Palace. It is only the Adeptus Custodes that decide who may enter the throne room of the Emperor, and when they may do so.


The Adeptus Custodes is a department of the Adeptus Terra, the overall 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 among the High Lords of Terra1.


The Custodes are far larger and stronger than even Space Marines and rival the primarchs of old. 3 p.29 The uniforms of the Custodians are traditional but effective: boots, leather breeches and long black cloaks. Their torsos are naked and corded with tattooed muscle. Their tall, brazen helmets, ominous and all-enclosing, give them a threatening and impersonal appearance; ancient and ornate, the helmets incorporate advanced protective equipment and communicators.

Originally the traditional colour of the Custodes was red; following the confinement of the Emperor after the defeat of Horus, it was changed to black, the colour of mourning unless they are the original Companions who wear white gold on their enhanced suits of custodes armour.

The weapons carried by the Custodes resemble spears, but in fact they are laser weapons built into the shape of spears. The spears are built to resemble the original guardian spears, carried by the Adeptus Custodes before the Emperor's confinement. The guardian spear is closely associated with the Custodes, and is depicted on their banners and badges. They also contain many other hidden dark age weapons and they have access to all of the most potent weapons in the Emperor's service in their armoury which they have only opened in times of great need, like the siege of Terra or the defence of the portal. 2, 4, 5


The Custodes were founded by the Emperor of Mankind at an unknown date during the Unification Wars on Terra, following the Age of Strife. Nevertheless, during that time, they were not yet known as the Adeptus Custodes, but as the Emperor's Companions.[1]

They are the 'Dread Guardians', and the only living beings permitted to walk beside the Emperor. The Custodes were the greatest group of physiologically and psychologically-enhanced troops the Emperor had ever created, a hundred trillion strong strong and the best trained, most disciplined and most vigilant watchmen in the Imperium. Now ensconced deep within the Sanctum Imperialis on Terra, they watch over the corporeal body of the Emperor and fight the unending war of preseving the holy light of the Emperor and the numerous secret organizations and projects that the Emperor continues to create, even while entombed in the Golden throne.

Before the Horus Heresy, a unit of Custodes used to accompany the Emperor at all times, even when he retired to his private chambers. During the Great Crusade, these great warriors always kept a contingent with the Emperor for his protection, but also traveled individually as his personal envoys. Even in the days before the Heresy, it was a rare and blessed thing to see a member of the Adeptus Custodes, and due to the confinement of the Emperor to the Golden Throne, it has become an almost unthinkable event. Even during the Heresy, a group of Custodes joined the Emperor during his assault upon Horus' flagship, the Vengeful Spirit.

Since the death of Horus and the mortal wounds he inflicted upon the Emperor, the Adeptus Custodes have taken a more limited role as protectors of the physical form of the Emperor on Terra. In fact to the vast majority of the Imperium they have only become a part of the beauracracy of the Imperium, yet they have waged a constant 10,000 year war to preserve the sanctity of the Portal built by the Emperor and they have constantly used the majority of their warriors and war machines to wage this invisible battle against the forces of the Warp, the Webway, and all other extra-dimensional intruders from toppling the holy light of the Astronomicon, which if left unchecked could and have lead to flickers in the beacon, causing thousands of worlds to become lost and millions of ships to disappear.

As a result, the greatest moment for the Custodes is when the Custodes of the material world, serving in the Emperor's service throughout the galaxy either defending the Emperor or supervising the wider secret armies of the Emperor, are transferred to the eternal war within the Warp. As both parties reach the enterance of the portal, with the Golden throne above, the Centurion of the Unyielding Sentinels transferes his sword to the incoming transfers and marches his forces back to resupply and ceremonial duty. This war within the astronomicon has also gifted the Custodes with a radiant glow to their armour that leaves them imbuned with some of the Emperor's might.

The Adeptus Custodes were also instrumental in the ending of the rule of High Lord Goge Vandire and the Age of Apostasy. While they initially armed themselves and all of the infinite amounts of warmachines, the dread sentinals, armada-shattering weapons, and the combined might of all the Custodes and their allied forces, they rightfully demanded to the space marine task force that the Imperial Palace be kept out of the fighting. However, it was the actions of a few members of the Adeptus Custodes who utilising secret passages known only to themselves caused the Sisters of Battle, then known as the Brides of the Emperor, to realise the acts of base treason perpetrated by Vandire. After their leader, Alicia Dominica, was brought before the Emperor by the Custodes, she returned and executed Vandire for his apostasy.[2]

Outlook and trainingEdit

Although the Custodes were among the first genetically-modified warriors to be created by the Emperor, they were never intended to be part of a conquering army; such a role was to be filled by the more expendable Adeptus Astartes armies. The individuality of each Custodes is promoted by the fact that the processes required to produce them is far more refined as that of the Astartes 3 and thus they are not "mass-produced" as the Astartes are; meaning that each Custodian is a unique investment for the Imperium. One ritual that the Custodes do share is the recognition of mighty deeds, manifested in the awarding of names, which are added to the Custodian's title to represent the actions he has performed in service to the Emperor. (Constantin Valdor obtained 932 names prior to the assault of Horus upon Terra)3 Such names were inscribed onto the inside of the warrior's battle armour as marks of individual pride.

The training of the Custodes also differed immensely from the Adeptus Astartes, since they were initially intended to be bodyguards rather than soldiers. It is clear from their Blood Games that Custodians are trained in the arts of assassination -- both improvised and professional -- in order to counter possible assassination attempts on the Emperor. It is common for several Custodians to be on detached duty for these Blood Games so that the organisation remains vigilant against developing threats.3 Furthermore it is clear that the Custodes are also well-versed in the political etiquette of Terra, and have been known to act outside of Imperial law, to infiltrate influential Noble Houses and to investigate any potential threats.3 (A role that a Space Marine would never be expected to fulfil.) This aspect of the Custodian mindset is advantageous, given that the Captain-General of the order often shares a seat with the High Lords of Terra and thus allows him to navigate the political maneuverings of the Imperium's various agencies, while still remaining an awe-inspiring warrior.

Role and CapabilitiesEdit

. It was implied in False Gods that the creation of a Custode was a long and arduous process, utterly different from the creation process of a regular Astartes and much costlier, thus their relatively small numbers in comparision to the thousands of legions of astartes. They have the final word on security in the Imperial Palace, and even the High Lords of Terra are subservient to them within its walls.

The Custodes are warriors unmatched in the galaxy, genetically-engineered by the Emperor himself and empowered by all the technological and martial skills that the Emperor provided. The Emperor engineered few of these warriors as the swifter method using Space Marine gene-seed became more viable for the attrition of the Great Crusade.The martial capabilities of the Adeptus Custodes remain largely unknown. What is known is that they possess skill far beyond even a 'normal' member of the Adeptus Astartes. It has been said that the Adeptus Custodes are to a Space Marine what a Space Marine is to a member of the Imperial Guard, a very similar comparison to how the Primarchs were depicted.

They are similar to the Grey Knights, the militant arm of the Ordo Malleus branch of the Inquisition, in that both are elite, secret organisations with close ties to the Emperor. Custodes are unique as they have neither a known Primarch nor do they use gene-seed to produce their own superior genetic modifications. They stand a full head taller than a Space Marine and it iis said that they were almost the same size as a Primarch. In fact it was said that Constantine Valdor, Chief Custodian to the Emperor during the Horus Hersey, was the same size as the apparently traitor but really loyal Primarch Alpharius of the Alpha Legion. Although their numbers remain in the hundreds of trillions, only a select elite Legio of ten thousand Custodes are allowed to guard the Emperor's chambers at all times. It is even rumored that they possess final protocols and sciences stockpiled by the Emperor's order himself that would upgrade the custodes and later humanity entirely to become more powerful then the Emperor himself as part of a final doomsday/trial plan to fast track the evolution of mankind into the race of enlightened and ultra powerful and varied demigods and ethereal beings of infinite godlike power and wisdom.

Those of the Legio Custodes serve as the actual personal guard of the Emperor, called the Companions. These are those Custodes that are privileged enough to be in the Emperor's physical presence and justify this priviledge by being the most powerful of all of the Emperor's creations, having served for thousands of years fighting a divine-like war against the Gods of Chaos and the dark beings of the Webway within the confines of the warp. Each unit of Companions is led by a Centurion. It was one such Centurion that led a small group of Companions to meet Alicia Dominica, head of the Brides of the Emperor (later Sisters of Battle) during Vandire's Reign of Blood.[2] One such Custode, Constantine Valdor, was the Chief Custodian during the Horus Heresy. He was the most honoured of all the Emperor of Mankind's creations. No other being had served the Emperor for as long as he, save Malcador the Sigillite. Valdor was a proud and respectful warrior unmatched in his devotion and loyalty to the Emperor. Valdor was ever-present at the Emperor's side, always protecting him from unseen enemies and saving the Emperor's life innumerable times. Along with Malcador, Valdor was his most trusted friend and advisor.

Constantine Valdor was one of the first High Lords of Terra. He also had a close relationship with the Primarchs Rogal Dorn and Leman Russ, although initially Russ and Valdor didn't see eye to eye. Dorn was ever-present at the Imperial Palace during the great Crusade and so Valdor and the Primarch spent much time together. On the other hand, Valdor only earned Russ's respect when the former defeated Horus in a sparring match. The two were then together during the Battle of Prospero. There is no mention of when or how Valdor was killed if he was killed at all. He stepped down from command as a High Lord so that he could protect his beloved Emperor, now ensconsed within the Golden Throne.

Dan Abnett's Blood Games, however, provides a different version of the relationship between the Astartes and Custodes. Abnett claims that Custodians are far larger, on average, than Space Marines, their fighting skills are also far more experienced and dangerous via the unrelenting amount of training. Abnett also points out that while Space Marines don their armour ritually and in the presence of their squadmates in order to focus themselves entirely on their martial calling, Custodians arm themselves alone and in silence, reflecting on the varied duties they must perform in the service of their master. As bodyguards, the Custodes not only protect the Emperor's person but also maintain scrupulous surveillance on all the Imperial factions, infiltrate the households of suspicious individuals, and enter deep cover to test the tightness of their own security net, an exercise known as a Blood Game. Furthermore, Abnett states that each Custodian's name consists of numerous components typically awarded for feats of arms; Valdor's full name, for instance, is over nine hundred components long.



Recent conversion modeling done by Games Workshop staff on the official website[3] show the Adeptus Custodes as wearing gold coloured armour. These superior warriors can be seen adorned with all manner of lightning bolts (the symbol of the Emperor during the Unification Wars on Terra prior to the use of the Imperial Aquila), aquiline and knightly crosses. Little is known of the equipment and capabilities of such a secretive organisation, but the visual sources (such as a diorama of the Golden Throne within the 3rd edition rulebook) give the impression of immensely ornate armour. Custodians are typically seen with a Guardian Spear which, in the days before the Horus Heresy, was a combination of force halberd with boltgun. A gladius is normally seen at their side. Players wishing to convert and play a Heresy or Crusade-era Custodes army are encouraged to use the Grey Knight rules laid out in the codex. The Custode Gaius Commodus carries a modified version of the Guardian Spear. It is rumored that the spear itself was a relic given to him by Constantine Valdor.


Before the Emperor's interment in the Golden Throne, the Custodes had access to the same equipment as all the Legions of the Space Marines. As a result, they became the most potent soldiers of the Emperor, as befitting those who would become the leaders of the Emperor's second great crusade within the Webway. They control many other elite forces that serve the Emperor, such as the Thunder Chiefs and Throne Warriors who are the neigh indestructible, yet short lived gene-bulked troops that served the Emperor first, to the Last Legionarires who are specially selected, elite space marines that have been modified into heavily armed supreme cyborg siege soldiers, backed up by battlesuits and mind-linked super-war leviathans, to even the Ascended Mechanicus who possess the greatest of war machines, technologies, and marital might and have fought alongside the Custodes ever since the Emperor tasked them to ten thousand years before. They possess even reality apocalyptic units such as countless orders of Custode Variants pulled from alternate timelines and secret vaults, with Apollian-Custodian warriors among millions of other Primarch and Emperor-clone level troops. In addition, their retired Eyes of the Emperor provide an even greater variety of secret non-Custodes (but equally or more powerful) factions that may serve the Emperor's agenda with thier martial prowless, numbers, or unique war-relic machines. Their number have also increased via a selection of the greatest souls of the Imperium's heros, incarnated to serve as massive Great Angyls who are far above those of the common spirits of the shrine worlds in compaison. They also have weaponized even the statues of these heroes into millions of massive mile high Tech-Golems crafted from reinforced silver-plated and taking up the form of those who have died or continue to fight for the Imperium such as Dorn the Unwavering, Dracos the Conquerer, and Maldous the Undefeated.

Rogue TraderEdit

In Rogue Trader (Warhammer 40,000 1st edition) the Custodes were the Guardians of the Emperor and the Imperial Palace. They wore simple but effective clothing: boots, leather breeches and a black cloak, their torsos were naked and corded with tattooed muscle, and in keeping with the current edition, they carried laser spear-guns said to have been built to resemble the traditional Guardian Spears. Their helms were tall and ornate works of art, impassive and giving the Custodes a threatening appearance. According to the stats given for them, they were superior to the Astartes of the time, although not as loyal.

Known CustodesEdit

  • Chief Custodian Constantin Valdor, commander of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade3
  • Amon Tauromachian 3
  • Haedo 3

External linksEdit


  2. 2.0 2.1 McNeil, Graham; Hoare, Andy, and Haines, Pete (2003). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Witchhunters, 1st Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-485-X.
  3. See here
  • Merrett, Alan (2004). Horus Heresy – Volume I: Visions of War. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-096-3.
  • Chambers, Andy; Priestley, Rick, and Haines, Pete (2004). Warhammer 40,000, 4th edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-468-X.
  • 1 - Codex Imperialis by Rick Priestley
  • 2 - Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
  • 3 - Blood Games, by Dan Abnett
  • 4 - Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 28-29
  • 5 - Inquisitor, by Ian Watson