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How To Build a Blood Angels Space Marine in The Pathfinder RPG

A Grimdark Character Conversion Guide

By Neal LitherlandPublished 2 months ago 14 min read
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Mankind was once ascendant. We rose from the dust and dirt of our ruined world in an attempt to retake the stars, and to remind the galaxy that we were a force to be reckoned with. While the Great Crusade was filled with a thousand horrors, one of the brightest lights that guided humanity was the Primarch Sanguinius. A radiant, golden figure, his beauty was second only to his righteous wrath. Though he was betrayed and slain by his brother Horus, Sanguinius's legacy lives on in his gene sons... the IX legion of space marines and their successor chapters, the Blood Angels!

For those who wish to play one of these augmented super soldiers in their next Pathfinder game, the following guide can be used to bring across the most important aspects of these ferocious, titanic warriors.

If you enjoy this guide, don't forget to check out my Character Conversions page, where you'll find other space marine legion guides for the Iron Hands and Night Lords, as well as regiments of renown like the Death Korps of Krieg, or the Catachan Jungle Fighters!

The Seed (Attributes and Traits)

Come forward, if you have the strength.

How you arrange your attributes will depend on what fighting style you plan to favor with your particular Blood Angel. While they're known to favor up-close tactics, often rocketing into melee as fast as possible, it is important to remember they can wield ranged weapons as well as most other astartes, too. Additionally, you should consider if you will be using raw power with a weapon like a hammer, or if you will focus on Dexterity as a way to both increase your attacking power and your defense at the same time.

Regardless of which option you wish to favor, your primary attack attribute (Strength or Dexterity) should be first, followed by Constitution, and then the other physical statistic. Blood Angels are known for their titanic wills, which is why Wisdom should be your highest mental stat, but they are also known for their beauty and magnetic personalities, which may make Charisma next in line. While no astartes can be said to be stupid (such individuals don't survive the process), Intelligence is usually the smallest priority with this character build.

Every space marine legion drew on particular types of aspirants, and the Blood Angels are no different. Their gene seed has always taken the best root in those exposed to toxic, radioactive environments, as the original legion was recruited from the wastelands on Terra, and places like Baal Secundus have fed the chapter for millennia. As such, traits like Resolute (+1 trait bonus on Will saves against mind-affecting effects, and a +1 Fortitude saves against drugs or poisons) may be appropriate. Alternatively, a trait like Demon Slayer (+2 trait bonus on weapon damage against demons, evil fey, and evil corrupted animals) would be right at-home for a space marine who has long struggled against agents of Khorne. Either way, the trait Bred For War (+1 trait bonus to Intimidate checks and to your CMB due to great size) is one of the best traits to represent the sheer scale of a space marine. You might even consider the Awakened From Stasis trait (only requiring 2 hours of sleep to get 8 hours of rest) due to the unusual nature of Blood Angels' transformation, their use of a stasis coffin, and representing how little rest astartes require to be functional.

Lastly, while all Blood Angels begin their journeys as human, they are severely changed by their transformation. As such, an alternative species could be used to represent how different they've become. While a dhampir is the obvious choice (given the Blood Angels tendency of drinking blood, and living far longer even than other space marines), half-elf or even full elf might also be acceptable choices.

Training (Class Choices)

We do what we were made to do.

Space marines are creatures of wrath and fury, perhaps no more so than the Blood Angels. Fast, fierce, and prone to deep, deadly rages, the barbarian is one of the most fitting classes for them. Which barbarian archetype, though, will depend on the particular strategy you intend to use most.

If you intend to focus on brute strength and speed, counting on your war plate to protect you, then you may wish to use the Armored Hulk from Ultimate Combat. This archetype takes away your Uncanny Dodge and Trap Sense, replacing it with the ability to use heavier armors, and to move faster in them than anyone would rightly expect. Alternatively, if you wish to focus on Dexterity, and especially if you wish to fight primarily with firearms, or with a melee weapon and a firearm, then the Savage Technologist from the Technology Guide may be more your speed. This archetype increases your Dexterity and Strength, does not give you a penalty to your AC when raging, and it even allows you to add your Strength modifier to many social skills when dealing with tribal cultures (such as those found on Baal Secundus).

As far as which Rage Powers are most going to complement a Blood Angel, it's important to once more think of your fighting style, and the situations you want to be most effective in.

For example, if you wish to maximize the number of attacks, and you plan on being in melee with your helmet off, then you may wish to take Animal Fury to give yourself a bite attack (all the easier to drink blood with). You could also lean into that with Bloody Bite. If you wish to display characteristics that align with Sanguinius when you rage, then the Celestial Totem Rage Powers will allow you to heal more, give you a halo of light, and resistance against evil spells. No Escape would also be useful for those focusing on melee targets, as it would prevent enemies from withdrawing from you, and Reckless Abandon makes you easier to hit in exchange for hitting your enemies more frequently. And if you are going to be using a firearm, or other ranged weapon, it might also be a good idea to have Surprise Accuracy to ensure you can make your shots count when you need them to. It also works for melee attacks, making it an all-around good Rage Power to have.

Lastly, as a side note, for those who wish to take on the role of a Blood Angel librarian, consider the Bloodrager class instead, and the Martyred bloodline as being the most appropriate for a son of Sanguinius.

Drill (Skills and Feats)

Beware any old man in a profession where one often dies young.

Barbarians are not, as a rule, best known for their skills. However, Perception is going to be a necessity for detecting any ambushes, and spotting any threats before they spot you. In addition to that, you may need to take both Craft (Mechanical) and Craft (Engineering) if you are going to have to either construct or maintain your own technological weapons. If not, and there is another, reliable source of technological support, then Diplomacy and Intimidate may be good substitutions, particularly if you make Diplomacy a class skill through a trait like Trustworthy.

Feats are going to be in short supply, and there never seem to be enough of them.

First, if you are going to have to make, repair, and maintain your own technological gear (instead of just using standard, enchanted gear), then you're going to need the feats Technologist, and Craft Technological Arms and Armor. It is worth making sure that you will have access to an appropriate facility, as well, as that's part of the requirement for producing the appropriate items.

Secondly, ask if you intend on wearing/utilizing heavy armor, and if you intend on using firearms. You will need to take an Exotic Weapon Proficiency for firearms, as well as Heavy Armor Proficiency if your archetype doesn't grant it to you, and you don't take a single level dip into a class like fighter to get it for free. The dip would be my personal recommendation, as that not only saves you a feat slot, but also grants you a bonus combat feat.

Next, ask what sort of strategy you intend to use in combat.

Power Attack is going to be a necessity for wreaking as much havoc in melee as possible, alongside the feat Reckless Rage which will allow you deal even more damage. If you intend to use a great weapon, like a battle hammer or an eviscerator chainsword, you may wish to instead focus on the Vital Strike feat tree, as well as Devastating Strike, Furious Focus, and Furious Finish to get the most out of those melee strikes when you have to move to close distance with your enemy.

If you intend to be a two-weapon wielder, then all of the Two-Weapon Fighting feats will be useful, particularly if you are going the Savage Technologist route in order to get the most out of the Sword and Gun class feature. Deadly Aim is often an important addition to your feat list to get more damage from your ranged attacks (in addition to your Dexterity bonus with firearms thanks to Savage Technologist), and if you're making touch attacks then hitting your targets will be exceptionally easy, countering the negative to your attack roll.

If you have the space, and you chose dhampir as your species option, you may also want to consider the feat Blooddrinker. It lets you feed from enemies you bite, gaining temporary hit points and a bonus on saves based on your Constitution, though doing so is considered an evil action.

The Curses (The Red Thirst, and The Black Rage)

Horus! Where are you?!

Many of the space marine legions were made with flaws that give them unique strengths, as well as unique vulnerabilities... and the Blood Angels have two of them. The first is their need for blood, called the Red Thirst. The other is, of course, the Black Rage, where the Blood Angels lose themselves to the psychic trauma of the death of their gene father. They become psychically untethered, losing themselves in the great battles of the past, and turning into little more than berserkers whose only hope of redemption is in a final, deadly charge into the enemy ranks.

As with the other space marine legions/chapters I've covered so far, my suggestion is to use the Corruption mechanics presented in Horror Adventures... and the most thematically appropriate is the vampirism corruption. Specifically because it instills a need for blood in the character that must be resisted with their willpower... but eventually the number will grow large enough that the character is forced to give in and drink if they don't do it of their own volition.

Manifestations like Unlife, which grant limited fast healing, as well as Fangs to make feeding easier, along with Allure to represent enhanced Charisma, are all powers that work well with these space marines (even if the drawbacks like losing one's reflection, or taking damage from positive energy and healing from negative energy, don't fit lore-wise).

The suggested end of the character when they reach the 3rd stage of the corruption is to become an NPC vampire under the GM's control. However, this could also represent the character falling to the Black Rage, and becoming utterly disconnected from reality around them. Whether their end is a noble redemption, or an ignoble, monstrous death is up to the Game Master when it finally happens.

Equipment and Story

Not till every bolt is fired, and every blade broken.

The equipment for your Blood Angel will vary by the choices you've made for combat. For example, if you are going for a powerful melee strike build, you may wish to start with a standard great weapon (greatsword is my usual recommendation), and update your gear as you go until you have a full-on power weapon. If you were planning on a one-handed melee weapon and a gun, then increasing each as you gain the resources to do so (in both cases the Furious and Furyborn enchantments for melee weapons are ideal for a Blood Angel).

And lastly, the biggest of big-ticket items... power armor.

In the event I write more of these guides, this is always going to be mentioned as the huge, wish list item for any space marine. Between mag boots, a force field, hand grippers, laser pistol in the wrist assembly, medical stims, great protection, camera and comms units, enhancements to speed, Strength, and Dexterity, and even more ridiculous benefits, power armor is a relic of a bygone age. It's lovely if you can find it, but as a technological artifact it is likely something one won't find until the end of a campaign... if at all.

As a brief aside, if your table allows third-party content, I cannot recommend Savage Company enough for this character build. Everything from chain swords, to a huge variety of firearms, to articulator arms, and more can be found in this setting... there's even a Savage Company bundle deal for those who want all the available content at their fingertips!

As to your story... it's worth asking who your Blood Angel is, and how they came to be in this predicament.

Were they locked in stasis, found in the buried remains of a crashed ship centuries, or even millennia, later? Are they a recent experiment created by techno-barbarian warlords intending to use them to enforce their will on the people? Or were they tossed through time, space, and the warp itself to somehow land on Golarion, trying to figure out what this strange world is, and how they can rejoin their brothers... or even if they can?

More Grim Dark Content?

If you're a fan of the grim darkness of the far future, I've got all sorts of other fun Warhammer 40K content for you! So while you wait on my next character conversion, consider checking out some of the following stories, and listening to some of the great audio dramas that go with them (like the one above, which is the audio for my 50 Two-Sentence Horror Stories, Warhammer 40K Edition)!

- The Final Lamentation: The Black Legion realizes far too late that when you take a Lamenter prisoner on your ship that his cursed luck is now your cursed luck as well. A tale of perhaps the most tragic chapter of the Blood Angels.

- Waking Dogs: A World Eaters Tale: Crixus has fought beneath the banner of the World Eaters for over 10,000 years. There is still something of the old War Hound lurking in him, though... and when those memories push back the fury of the butcher's nails, he will put his brothers down like the rabid dogs they've become.

- Broken Chains: Crixus escaped from Arteus, slaying his warband. On his quest to seek out his brothers, and to put down the rabid dogs the World Eaters have become, he finds his old sergeant... as well as memories that he'd thought lost forever.

- Field Test: When Inquisitor Hargrave had come to New Canaan just ahead of an ork rok, she claimed she had a weapon unlike any other at her command. None could have guessed that weapon was right under their noses the whole time, though.

- Beyond The Black: The Emperor's Hand: Gav Smythe has served the God Emperor his whole life. A new member of the Inquisition, the ogryn didn't expect his next mission would be quite so personal. But when he has to take up the black sword against traitors, Gav does his duty just as he has for years.

- Blackest Knights: Among the Deathwatch, Black Shields are those who have utterly cut themselves off from their past. While you may find one or two, it is rare to find an entire squad of them. Kill Team Errant is often considered ill fortune, but their results speak for themselves.

- Broken Heroes: It was supposed to be a simple mission to recover an experimental weapon used to defend their city. As Renn and his squad are surrounded by Dead Heads and crawlers of all sizes, though, he finds himself in an ancient, buried complex. Renn isn't alone, though... something is waiting for him. A colossus of steel and fury, asleep for millennia, ready to finish what it started so long ago.

Like, Share, and Follow For More!

That's all for this week's Crunch topic! Don't forget to check out my full Vocal archive for more... or if you'd like to read some of my books, like my sci-fi dystopian thriller Old Soldiers, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife or my latest short story collection The Rejects, head over to My Amazon Author Page!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and now on Pinterest as well! And if you'd like to help support me and my work, consider Buying Me A Ko-Fi or heading over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron! Even a little bit of help can go a long way, trust me on that one.

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.

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Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary

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