Rites of Battle is a 256 page hardcover rules supplement for the Deathwatch RPG by Fantasy Flight Games. You must have the core rulebook to use Rites of Battle. That said, I wouldn't play Deathwatch without it unless you want your Space Marines to chase down hordes of Tyranids and Orks on foot. Sad, but true, the Deathwatch core rules depict a spacefaring empire beset by other spacefaring empires and yet it has no vehicle rules for traveling anywhere planet-side or in space. Now there is, at least as far as combat is concerned.
The book is broken down into 6 chapters and an index.
Chapter 1: Deathwatch Origins
Pages 8 - 72.
This chapter is really cool. It fleshes out how a Chapter operates a bit and it details the Imperial Fists Chapter as well as a smattering of Successor Chapters (Novamarines, White Consuls, Black Consuls, Mortifactors, Genesis Chapter, Consecrators, Angels of Redemption, Angels of Absolution, Flesh Tearers, Lamenters, Blood Drinkers, Knights of Blood, Crimson Fists, Hammers of Dorn, and the Subjugators). Most importantly to me, though, it has 30 pages devoted to creating your own Space Marine Chapter. Yes! This has been a blast for me. It simply cannot be over-rated. It is my opinion that this is the second most important chapter of the book.
Chapter 2: The Call of War
Pages 74 - 132.
This chapter adds Deeds and Distinctions to the character creation process and it adds Advanced Specialties for the PCs to explore. Deeds are impactful actions from a character's past that can be bought to give the PC benefits in the game. For example, the No Quarter Given deed costs 500 xp and gives the PC a +3 bonus to Weapon Skill and gives him the Counter-Attack Talent. Some Deeds are Chapter-based, others are Campaign Deeds, Valorous Deeds, and Specialty Deeds. There are even Deeds of Disdain, should players wish to add a flaw to their PCs. No Quarter Given is a Valorous Deed. Distinctions are a reward for some past heroism. There are three flavors or "Marks" of Distinction. Command, Combat, and Determination. An example Mark of Distinction would be the First Among Equals command mark. It costs 1000 xp and grants the PC a +10 bonus to his Renown when determining Requisition for Missions and a +20 bonus to his Requisition total for each Mission. The Advanced Specialties are Deathwatch-based. They are Deathwatch Black Shield, Deathwatch Champion, Deathwatch Chaplain, Deathwatch Dreadnought (requirements: 0 Fate points, Renown 60+, must've performed a great deed, may not be a Librarian. Cost: 5,000 xp), Deathwatch Epistolary, Deathwatch Forge Master, Deathwatch Keeper, Deathwatch Kill-Marine, Deathwatch Watch Captain, and First Company Veteran. I like the Advanced Specialties best in this chapter, but it's all good.
Chapter 3: Expanded Wargear
Pages 134 - 161.
Gear is always good and that is true here. Power Armor gets strong coverage. The rest? Not so much. Still a good chapter, though.
Chapter 4: Vehicles
Pages 164 - 197.
This chapter alone is worth the price of the book if you ask me! It covers vehicle combat and details a variety of vehicles. Listed Space Marine vehicles include 6 different Land Raider tanks, 3 Land Speeders, 2 Bikes, Predator tanks, 3 Rhino APCs, 2 Dreadnoughts, 2 Gunships, Vindicator, Whirlwind, and 2 Warhound Titans. Chaos and Tau vehicles round out the chapter. It's too bad they didn't include vehicles from other factions. Another flaw here is the lack of a master vehicle list. You have to look up each vehicle entry to see its stats.
Chapter 5: Honour or Death
Pages 200 - 226.
Covers expanded rules for Renown and Requisition, reveals additional Assets to Requisition, details Honours such as the Crux Terminatus, as well as advanced Squad and Solo abilities. Sweet.
Chapter 6: Watch Fortress Erioch
Pages 228 - 252.
This chapter beefs up the campaign setting with various bits. Given the relative brevity of the chapter, I think they did alright. The first 15 pages cover the Deathwatch Watch Fortress Erioch. 4 pages cover various Deathwatch Mission-types. 2 pages describe in general terms the super-secure Omega Vault, buried deep within the Fortress. The final 3 pages describe a little of Jericho Reach.
Pages 253 - 255.
The index has not been helpful to me as of yet, but your mileage may vary.
This is a meaningful addition to the core rulebook and I would advise anyone wanting to play Deathwatch to add Rites of Battle to their gaming library. It really impressed me.