In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Sisters of Battle, also known as the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas (often mislabeled as Adeptus Sororitas), are the female warriors belonging to the Ecclesiarchy, the religious arm of the Imperial government also known as the Adeptus Ministorum, and devotedly serve the Emperor of Mankind. The Sisters of Battle serve to enforce the Imperial religion, seeking out and destroying heretics that defy the Emperor's Will.
They were officially founded in 36th Millennium by the Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII as Ordes Militant. Originally, they were their own army, but, like the Grey Knights, the Sisters of Battle were joined by the Inquisition and given new allies for their army. They have forged particularly close ties to a part of the Imperial Inquisition, the Ordo Hereticus or "Witch Hunters", which is tasked to hunt down and destroy heretics and unsanctioned psychics (commonly known as "rogue psykers" or "witches").
Together, the Sisters of Battle and the Ordo Hereticus gained a new rulebook: Codex Witch Hunters. Sisters of Battle are now a playable race in the Dawn of War expansion, Soulstorm.
The Adepta Sororitas has its origins on the world of San Leor. An order known as the Daughters of the Emperor, an all-female cult dedicated to worship of the Emperor, had been discovered there by members of the Ecclesiarchy. Goge Vandire, the High Lord of the Administratum (and also Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum), decided to pay a visit to San Leor and recruit the Daughters into his own private army. The Daughters, at first, refused to accept his authority. Vandire decided to show them that he was blessed by the Emperor - he instructed a soldier in his entourage to shoot him, which after a brief hesitation, he did. However, thanks to the protective field generated by the Rosarius of the Ecclesiarch (which no one but Vandire himself was aware of), Vandire was not harmed. The Daughters took this to be a sign, and swore allegiance to Vandire virtually on the spot. They became the Brides of the Emperor, and were Vandire's most loyal followers.
During the Siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace, the Adeptus Custodes, the praetorians of the Emperor himself, tried to approach the Brides and convince them of Vandire's treachery. In a last ditch effort to convince them, the Custodes took Alicia Dominica, leader of the Brides, and her chosen bodyguards deep into the Imperial Palace where they stood before the Emperor himself. What happened there remains unknown - Dominica and her companions were sworn to secrecy - but it became clear that the Brides, who reverted to the title of Daughters of the Emperor, had been awakened to the evil that Vandire represented. Marching into his audience chamber, Dominica paused only to condemn Vandire for his crimes before she beheaded the power-crazed dictator. Reportedly, Vandire's final words were "I don't have time to die - I'm too busy!"
After this episode, the Decree Passive was proclaimed by newly appointed Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor, forbidding the Ecclesiarchy from having any men under arms. Under the literal interpretation of the decree however, the Adepta Sororitas were not obligated to disband because the decree made no mention of "women under arms." Thor, recognizing the need for the Ecclesiarchy to have some kind of force and internal regulator, allowed them to remain, even if the spirit of the decree was rather blatantly disregarded.
Today, the Sisters of Battle are spread across the galaxy in their various conflicts; however, two locations (Terra and Ophelia VII) are held as more sacred than all others and are home to most of the Orders' convents. Ophelia VII is the Oldest Cardinal World and home of the Synod Ministra. As Terra is covered with administrative buildings, Ophelia VII is covered with Cathederals and places of worship. Beneath these buildings are vast prisons that hold heretics ready to confess and repent for their sins.
A few of the Orders fought at the Third Armageddon War, but it was the Order of our Martyred Lady who largely represented the Sisters of Battle in the Armageddon sector. It was they who were the sole protectors of the Ecclesiarchy and the faithful of Hive Tempestora during the Third Armageddon War. Their base of operations was the Sanctorum of St. Katherine in Hive Tempestora, which became the centre for Ecclesiarchal activities on Armageddon and thus, refuge of the faithful from invaders.
Hive Tempestora was assaulted during the Third Armageddon war by a surprise assault of Orks emerging from the Boiling Sea. The Sisters were the defence for Hive Tempestora, but the surprise and size of the Ork attack caught the Imperial forces unawares. This allowed the Orks to quickly steal control from the Sisters.
The Sisters were forced further into tunnels of the Hive with each attack by the Orks. When the Orks reached the heart of the Hive, the Imperial command structure began to break down as the hordes rapidly pushed on. Several units were dispatched to defend areas which had already been overrun and the few Hive militia they could rally proved to be ineffective against the Orks. They fought a losing battle until they were eventually forced against the great armoured doors of the Sanctorum.
Here, the Sisters could not retreat any further and it was their duty to defend their sanctuary with their lives. The Order rallied against the Orks and called for every member of the Ecclesiarchy to fight and die in defence of Armageddon's most holy site. It was a battle of attrition and with the sheer weight of numbers the Orks gradually overwhelmed the Sisters. It was a charge by Warboss Nargrim and his elite Nobz that caused the Sister's line to crumble. The lines of Sisters, broken and scattered, attempted to form up again but were readily cut down by the huge tide of Orks. After just hours since the initial invasion by the Orks, no human was left alive inside Hive Tempestora and corpses stained the sacred ground.
With the massive destruction at Tempestora, reminiscent of the Tyranid's destruction of the Ultramarines at Ultramar, the Order of Our Martyred Lady was devastated and left with less than three companies upon Armageddon. The loss of Tempestora's Sanctorum devastated the morale of the Sisterhood, and they fought to recover from such a dishonor. Though they lost greatly at the beginning of the campaign, their aid was essential in the final defense of the planet.
On the other side of Armageddon, the Order of the Argent Shroud, with its five companies under the leadership of Canoness Carmina, were used by General Kurov in the Fire Deserts during the war. They later joined with their fellow Sisters to retake the Holy Sanctorum and restore their lost honor.
|Convent||Convent Sanctorum||Convent Prioris|
|Home World||Ophelia VII||Terra|
Order of Our Martyred Lady|
Order of the Valorous Heart
Order of the Bloody Rose
|Order of the Sacred Rose|
Order of the Ebon Chalice
Order of the Argent Shroud
|Orders Hospitaller||Order of the Eternal Candle|
Order of Serenity
|Order of the Cleansing Water|
Order of the Torch
|Orders Famulous||Order of the Key|
Order of the Gate
|Order of the Holy Seal|
Order of the Sacred Coin
|Orders Dialogous||Order of the Holy Word|
Order of the Quill
|Order of the Sacred Oath|
Order of the Lexicon
Then mid 38th Millennium, two Orders were added by Ecclesiarch Deacis VI. The Order of the Bloody Rose was created to honor Sister Mina and the Order of the Sacred Rose was created to honor Sister Arabella. Although neither Sister Mina or Sister Arabella led their fellow Sisters into battle, they were martyred just the same and honored as such.
Later, Orders were created to deal with non-combatant roles. They were the Orders Hospitaller (dealing with medical aid and purification of the body), Orders Famulous (dealing with law, diplomacy and relations between the Ecclesiarchy and the Imperium), and Orders Dialogous (dealing with research, preaching, and communication). Blind also makes references to Orders Pronatus (dealing with the recovery of holy relics). These are very small Orders, with the only Order Pronatus mentioned being the Order of the Eternal Gate.
Each Order follows the same basic hierarchical structure:
Though not surgically enhanced or cybernetically upgraded like the Space Marines, they do wear similar power armour and have the same general unit set-up, although they tend to prefer heat- and flame-based weapons, because of the 'purifying' effect of fire, inspired mainly by the popular portrayal of the Emperor as a cleansing fire. This creates an interesting situation as the sororitas lean towards two extremes of weapon types: melta weapons for anti-tank and flame weapons for anti-infantry, both of which being heat based guns. Also, like their male counter-parts, they wear the marking determined by their designation, which are Orders instead of Chapters.
As they lack the extensive biological/technological upgrades that turn an ordinary human male into a superhuman Space Marine, they cannot be considered to be in the same class of "supersoldier" in terms of combat ability and endurance, though their armour and weapons are well beyond those of other "normal" humans, such as the Imperial Guard. They also gain powerful faith-based abilities to help them combat their foes.
Along with physical changes, each order has its own specific color scheme and symbols:
These six sisters are Alicia Dominica and her faithful companions who joined her in witnessing the Truth of the Golden Throne. They are the founders of the Sisters of Battle and are the most sacred Saints of the Adepta Sororitas.
After Vandire's Reign of Blood, Alicia continued battling against heresy along with Sister Silvana, Sister Mina, Sister Lucia, Sister Katherine and Sister Arabella, her loyal Sisters from before the Golden Throne incident.
It was under her command that the Sororitas was formed as a Chamber Militant and later joined with the Witch Hunters. She, along with her loyal Sisters (the previous listed Silvana, Mina, Lucia, Katherine and Arabella) were named Living Saints and headed an order of their own.
After several centuries, Alicia finally fell in battle. However, it was recorded that she was shot hundreds of times before one laser weapon finally found a weakness in her armor. The symbol of Dominica's Order is the ebon skull chalice that was part of her vision from her experience at the Golden Throne, but few beyond those original Sisters know what the symbol actually means.
Helena the Virtuous
Saint Anais was the saint that fought alongside the Sisters of Battle in the RTS-game Soulstorm. She appeared only when an opposing faction attacked the Adepta Sororitas headquarter.
Celestian Miriya is the main character of Faith and Fire, a novel by James Swallow. She is a member of the Order of the Martyred Lady. It was her duty to transport a psyker, Torris Vaun, after he was captured. Nevertheless, mid-transport of the prisoner aboard the ship "Mercutio," they were attacked by traitors on the ship. Vaun was freed and Miriya's fellow Sister, Lethe Catena, was killed.
Continuing onto her destination of Neva, Miriya was forced the capital Noroc to account for failure of delivering the prisoner by Lord Deacon Viktor LaHayn. LaHayn demanded Miriya to suffer for her actions. It would be her duty to find Vaun. After much searching, Vaun later made himself known when he, leading a group of criminals, attacked and kidnapped the Governor, Emmel. It was Miriya who later allowed him to escape as Vaun's allies destroyed everything they could, including the Nova's Cathederal.
When the Chaos finally settled, it was apparent that LaHayn was not all he claimed to be. After much research, Miriya's allies unraveled the plot that involved the freeing of Vaun and the connection to LaHayn. With accusations flying, the planet erupted into war and the Sisters of Battle were brought in full force. After much destruction and warfare, Miriya finally managed to capture Vaun. It was with his interrogation that a greater plot was revealed; Vaun was a product of experimentation on psykers. Miriya, Verity (her vital assistant), and the fellow Sisters Cassandra and Isabel uncovered and destroyed this plot, ending such heretical influences; however, because of the methods used by Miriya and of the original ordeal with Vaun, she was relieved of her position as a Celestian elite and was reduced to a line rank Sister of Battle by Canoness Galatea. It is not known what has happened to her since.
As members of the Witch Hunters, the Sisters of Battle are able to field either an Inquisitor or an Adepta Sororitas Heroine. The Heroines are faithful characters (Canoness adds two faith points, Palatine adds one) and are able to be joined with a retinue of Celestians.
They are allowed to bring Priests (HQ characters that don't count as a choice), Arco-flagellants (Elite choice heretics who have been "brain scrubbed" and re-programmed for combat), Celestians (Elite choice veterans that contribute a faith point), Sisters Repentia (Elite choice Sisters trying to redeem "slights" of faith) or Assassins of the Officio Assassinorum (elites).
Battle Sisters make up the bulk of a Sisters of Battle Army. However, since they are connected to Witch Hunters, they may field Inquisitorial Storm Troopers, Inducted Imperial Guardsmen, or Grey Knights using the "by the authority of the Immortal Emperor of Mankind" rule.
Their Fast Attack units are the Seraphim, and Dominion squads. The Seraphim are stronger sisters who are given jump packs and represent an angelic presence in battle (giving bonuses to allies and a faith point). The Dominion Squads are an additional Fast Attack unit that rides a transport into combat.
The Retributor squads are Sisters of Battle armed with heavy weapons.
The Sisters of Battle have access to the widespread Rhino transport. However, they do not have access to other Marine vehicles such as Bikes, Land Speeders, Land Raiders, Razorbacks, Predators, Vindicators or Whirlwinds.
Sisters have two unique Rhino variants. The first known as the Immolator, which is similar to the Razorback in reducing transport capacity for additional weaponry, but the Immolator is armed with twin-linked heavy flamers, twin-linked heavy bolters, or twin-linked multi-meltas. The Sisters' other variant is the Exorcist, similar in some ways to the Space Marines' Whirlwind; the Exorcist is a multiple missile-launching platform that fires deadly salvos of Exorcist Missiles. The Exorcist, however, requires line of sight and is much more suitable for destroying enemy vehicles due to the high strength of its missiles and the variable number of shots.
Dreadnoughts are also unavailable, but with the help of a priest the Sisters of Battle can request the use of Penitent Engines, Dreadnought-esque machines that are cheaper but weaker than their space marine counterparts. Penitent engines are also just as uncontrollable as Chaos Dreadnoughts.
They also lack the heavy armoured tanks of the Space Marines: such vehicles like the Predator and Vindicator have no direct equivalent, while the nigh supreme Land Raider is almost completely forgotten, unless taken as a dedicated transport for an inquisitor. However, Land Speeders, Bike Squadrons, Rough Riders, Predators, Dreadnoughts, Land Raiders and Leman Russ Battle Tanks may be added if their equivalent inducted/allied force is added using the "by the authority of the Immortal Emperor of Mankind" rule.
The Sisters bear a resemblance to several knightly orders from Medieval Europe, and have a strong Gothic feel. Many of their heroines have the personae and attitude of Joan of Arc (especially in Martyrdom and Sainthood). Being an elite army of female zealots, they also bear some resemblance to the Fish Speakers from Frank Herbert's Dune universe, although they notably lack the superhuman speed and training that the Fish Speakers are known for.
The design of the models themselves have a strong fire motif, which may have came from the fact that fire has been seen as something that can cleanse the impure. They also take the Gothic appearance of the Imperium to the extreme: the Exorcist tank is shaped like an organ on wheels. Forge World produces alternate versions of their tanks, which have a more "military" and less gothic look.