Adeptus Custodes 10th Ed Lore Review: It Really is for Everyone

While the 10th Edition Adeptus Custodes codex has left a gaping hole in my heart where a competitive and functional army that I want to play should be, the lore in the book is top notch as always. Any of you that have read my articles or listened to me wax poetic online about the game should know that I am driven by a good story, either on or off the table and good Custodes lore in particular really gets my motor running. Abnett, Bowden, Wraight (and others) have all created or expanded upon the story of characters that I gravitate to: Constantin Valdor, Ra Endymion, Trajann Valoris, Valerian, even Navradaran. Characters with deep backstories, characters with intriguing motives and unique philosophies, characters that make me go, ‘Holy shit that was badass as fuck.’ While the lore found in Games Workshop’s codexes has generally been great at slipping hints into the goings on of the galaxy and neat plot ideas, imagine my surprise when I started flipping through the new Custodes codex and came across another name to add to my “badass as fuck” list.

Her name is Custodian Calladayce Taurovalia Kesh. Our first honest-to-goodness, actual factual female member of the Custodian Guard in a Games Workshop publication. That’s right, folks! They did it, and it fuckin’ rocks. After years of hearing there was nothing really stopping them from doing it and it just not being done anyway; she’s here and I want to hear more about her. Because not only do we have our first canon female Custodian, she was given her own two-page short story. This isn’t some throw away paragraph or sentence jammed deep into a timeline. Here, Kesh is given a full spread to show off the intense efficiency of the Golden Host as we follow her on the last stages of her journey aboard an Imperial ship to complete a very unique attempt at ‘winning’ the Blood Games. And Kesh isn’t the only female custodian in the book, Shield-Captain Bayezara is detailed as a particularly famed member of the Aquilan Shield that leads an entire host of jetbikes and grav vehicles.

“‘Shipmaster,’ she said. Though Kesh had not raised her voice, its rich contralto carried over the efficient chatter on the bridge like a rumble of distant thunder across windswept grasslands.”

That line right there? I feel it in my God damn bones. I’m not going to spoil the whole story here; it’s only two pages long and it deserves to be enjoyed. The author does an incredible job of creating a palpable atmosphere of dread amongst the crew of the ship and juxtaposing it over and over against the cold, calculating nature of a Custodian with an eccentric and brilliant plan. This is one of the cases where I wish I knew who wrote the lore in a particular codex because not only does it do an incredible job of introducing a character that will hold a good deal of importance to many Warhammer fans, it also really makes you want to see more of this particular protagonist. In just a few short paragraphs, Kesh is established as an engaging heroine with an extraordinary mind and the pay-off at the end is so perfectly 40k I was ‘screaming, crying, and throwing up,’ as the children say these days.

I wanted this at the top but didn’t want to bury the lede. This is the canon I have prayed for. Image Credit: Thomas “Goatboy” Reidy

Four years ago, a ‘Rogue Intern’ dropped a bomb on the fandom with the widely celebrated “Warhammer Is for Everyone” message. It was an explicit statement on the direction of their settings, “We will continue to diversify the cast of characters we portray through miniatures, art and storytelling so everyone can find representation and heroes they can relate to”. Since then we’ve seen models, sculpts, and heroes of all shapes, colors and creeds find prominent positions in the lore and on the tabletop, slowly tearing down the makeshift gates being kept by prejudice, ignorance, and misogyny that a weak and petulant few hoped to keep alive in a desperate attempt not to protect their hobby as they would proclaim, but to protect their own fragility. Of those releases and updates, this is probably the most earth-shattering for them; another pillar collapsing. Just like with each of those releases, this dwindling few have come out again as news has spread and I have never seen folks go through the seven stages of grief so rapidly. To them I say, ‘Get fucked, nerds.” It’s time to jump on the hype train and expand your worldview or lay down in some grass for a while.

Custodian Guards
Custodian Guards. Credit: Pendulin

I am a father of three. My daughter loves hanging out with me, even while I hobby. She asks to paint with me daily and she asks me questions about the game constantly. Just like any other child her age (and adult for that matter) she tries desperately to assert herself into the story, to see herself in the heroes we paint together and put on the table. Being able to show her these proclaimed pinnacles of humanity, these genetically engineered exemplars that sit on my shelf and tell her about the women that make up their ranks is incredibly freeing. These aren’t perpetually silent witch hunters or fiery religious zealots, these are humanity’s greatest creations, ten times greater than any space marine could be. The fact that GW did this and did not immediately connect it to a product to sell? I could not be more enamored.

So welcome, Custodian Kesh. Welcome to my tables and to my stories. I hope to read more about you in the future.

Rob: I may be on the record as loving the new Custodes Codex for the “wrong” reasons, but I want to make it clear that I love this particular aspect. In-lore female Custodes absolutely own and are the best thing about this book. My only regret is that I hadn’t already drawn a female custodian for the site, but it’ll happen soon enough.

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