Archive for the ‘Army Backgrounds’ Category

The Heralds of Desolation

11/11/2012 9 comments

In the God-Emperor of Mankind’s name, we will not rest until his supreme vision is realised. We will finish His Great Crusade, no matter the cost.”

Augustus Gideon, Chapter Master of the Heralds of The Emperor, M.34

Every day, millions of human souls are lost to the worship of the fell powers of Chaos. Very occasionally (yet far more often than the Adeptus Astartes will ever admit) Space Marines themselves surrender to such temptation and, rarer still, whole Chapters succumb. Yet in the long and bloody history of the Imperium only one Chapter has ever had its fall sealed by those who created it, for in the tragic case of the Heralds of The Emperor it was the High Lords of Terra who damned this Chapter for all eternity.

A New Crusade

Three thousand years after the Great Crusade ended in the desolation of the Horus Heresy, the High Lords of Terra and the Inquisition had to a great extent succeeded at turning these momentous events into little more than myths and legends. So thorough were they that even many in the highest echelons of power had forgot the sheer trauma surrounding the formation of the Imperium. It was therefore with a cruel inevitability that some began to favour at long last completing the Great Crusade.

Such ideas soon became tangible progress, after countless debates in the highest halls of the Administratum and clandestine negotiations behind null field sealed doors a plan formed. A grand explorator fleet was to be commissioned, made up of the most advanced ships ever conceived. These ships would carry tens of thousands of the Imperium’s finest soldiers, Tech Priest and scholars; leading them would be a newly founded chapter of Astartes, specially bred for this purpose alone, The Heralds of The Emperor.

Never before in recorded Imperial history had a Founding been conducted with such secrecy. The most accomplished Magos Biologis skirted the boundaries of outright heresy by carefully analysing all known gene seed strains to select the one most capable of bearing the unique pressures the Heralds would encounter. Their remit was simple; create an Astartes capable of withstanding a voyage far beyond the boundary of known space. Create a marine so utterly self-sufficient and dedicated to the God-Emperor’s cause that they would not rest until his vision is complete. It took many years, and many long-suppressed failures, but eventually the first of the Heralds were born.

Just as their Founding was concealed, so was their training. Rather than dispatching squads of Heralds to fight along side their cousin Astartes, a lonely planetoid in a seldom travelled sector of the Segmentum Solar was given over to the nascent chapter. There, under tutelage of hand picked veteran Astartes, the whole chapter was put through fifteen years of the harshest conditioning imaginable.

Eventually however their masters judged them ready. As such in 287.M34, and with much pageantry, their newly-appointed Chapter Master, Augustus Gideon, ordered the explorator fleet to leave high anchor above Holy Terra and proceed towards the galactic south west, into the unknown.

Eight side-real months later the fleet had reached the far edges of the Segmentum Tempestus. Slowly, the vast explorator fleet scoured the neighbouring systems, chasing up any transmission fragment or astropathic echo which might lead them to inhabited planets.

As anticipated, many of the systems they encountered were, and always had been, bereft of human life being as they were unsuitable for habitation or terraforming. Nevertheless, the fleet pressed on deeper into the unknown and in 291.M34, some years ahead of predictions, they encountered a populated human world.

Designated ‘HAB.01’, the planetwas a sparsely populated world approximately a quarter of the size of Holy Terra. Initial surveys reported that their society had regressed to a feudal model where black power weaponry was in its infancy. As such it was a simple matter for the fleet’s forces to overcome the slight resistance some of the population attempted during the compliance actions which followed.

Bolstered by this success, and by a fresh intake of conscripts and potential Herald neophytes, the bulk of the fleet left anchor six months later leaving in place sufficient military and Administratum personnel to complete the planet’s, now named Gideon’s World, integration into the Imperium of Man.

Over the next ten years a further seven human-inhabited planets were found and brought to compliance. Some required significant military intervention but in the end all fell to The Heralds and their allies. From each world was taken a tithe of their population to strengthen the explorator fleet, likewise the fleet’s Tech Priests scoured each world for lost archeotech.

A Chapter Betrayed

Finally word came from Terra. In a vermilion encoded message, the whole fleet was ordered to proceed at once to Gideon’s World; there they would wait for a delegation from the Ordo Malleus of the Holy Inquisition. Refusal to do so would be met with extreme censure.

To Gideon’s World the fleet travelled, and there they waited. Then, in 302.M34 Terra’s ‘delegation’ arrived. The Heralds were expecting at most a single capital ship and its auxiliary vessels, what arrived was an armada. Commanded by Inquisitor Octavia Drakenholm of the Ordo Malleus, the fleet vastly outnumbered and out gunned that of the Heralds. Most tellingly of all was the inclusion of over two and a half thousand Astartes made up of battle companies from the Black Templars, Crimson Fists, Crusaders Redemptor, Mortificators, and the Grey Knights.

Upon their arrival Inquisitor Drakenholm shuttled across to The Heralds’ flagship, the Battle Barge New Dawn. There, flanked by representatives from all the newly-arrived Chapters she delivered her message to Chapter Master Gideon.

Since their first success at Gideon’s World, the fleet had sent back genetic samples of the human populations to the Imperium so that it could be independently verified that these newly found worlds were free of the taint of Chaos. While such tests were also conducted within the fleet and supported by the Heralds’ Chaplains and Librarians it was felt that the facilities of the Ordo Malleus were more exacting. According to Drakenholm, the Ordo’s scientists had found an unacceptable genetic potential for mutation within many of the samples, as such it was decreed by order of the Holy Inquisition that each planet would be cleaned by the fires of exterminatus. The Heralds’ crusade was at an end.

Moreover, since populations from each planet had been recruited into the fleet, and indeed into the Heralds, it was judged that there was an unacceptable risk that corruption had spread intractably into the expeditionary force. It was therefore Inquisitor Drakenholm’s solemn duty to inform Chapter Master Gideon that in order to purify all remaining taint he, his Chapter, and everyone in the fleet were to be put to death.

Before he could utter a word Drakenholm’s honour guard opened fire. Gideon looked on with horror as men he’d known for decades were brutally slaughtered and roared with defiance as bolter rounds tore him to pieces. As he fell to the ground he summoned what remaining strength he had and renounced his oaths to the God-Emperor and swore that all the worlds of man would pay for this betrayal.

In the Warp, the dark gods smiled.

As the last vestiges of life left Augustus Gideon, the Warp spoke. In the space around Gideon’s World a titanic warp storm sprung in to existence and engulfed both the warring fleets. Inquisitor Drakenholm fell to her knees as forces of pure Warp energy battered the New Dawn, on the verge of passing out she saw a terrible sight that would stay with her until her final moments; surrounded by coruscating Warp energy, the creature that was once Augustus Gideon rose to its feet.

With an inhuman bellow, the creature charged at the Space Marine honour guard, these noble warriors fought bravely but were no match for a creature forged from the pure hatred of betrayal and within minutes all were dead. As the warm blood of humanity’s champions dripped off its newly formed talons, the creature that would one day be known as Marax The Desolater picked up the dying body of Octavia Drakenholm and completed its dark apotheosis by devouring her soul.

Throughout the rest of the Heralds’ fleet similar changes were being wrought. Some Heralds developed strange and horrific mutations, the Librarians among them found their powers greatly increased, but all experienced a collective sense of emancipation and enlightenment. This redoubled their efforts in their battle against Drakenholm’s forces and aided by creatures brought forth by the Warp storm they annihilated nearly all those loyal to the Golden Throne.

Those who survived quickly wished they hadn’t. Rounded up quickly by the victorious Heralds, the surviving humans were placed in chains and sent in to the bowels of the New Dawn to toil under the lash until their bodies could take no more.

Sixty three Astartes survived, the once-Chapter Master decreed that henceforth he would show mercy on all Astartes that his Heralds captured. Just as he had seen through the False Emperor’s lies, he would ensure that all his gene-enhanced brethren had the same opportunity. The captive marines would given into the care of the Heralds’ apothecaries and fell chaplains, there they would be cleansed by ceaseless pain and torment of their blind faith in the Corpse God, no matter how long it took.

As the last of the fighting died out, the Warp storm abated. Such was its fury that it left Gideon’s World a lifeless rock. The Heralds’ armada, augmented by several captured vessels, left orbit and headed westward again leaving nothing but destruction in their wake.

Legacy of Desolation

Several years later one of Drakenholm’s former students, Inquisitor Malik Hakam, arrived at Gideon’s World in search of his former mistress. Finding nothing, he ordered his ship’s captain to conduct a search of the seven other planets the Heralds’ had brought to compliance.

The next six worlds visited were much the same, nothing remained but barren rocks and the lingering psychic imprint of pain and despair. As the Inquisition vessel approached the final planet it was bombarded by waves of etheric energy which appeared to emanate from the planet itself. It took all the skill of the ship’s pilots but they managed to safely reach orbit and, wasting little time, Hakam and his retinue headed for the surface. Nothing could have prepared them for what they encountered on the surface.

Virtually every square metre of land was covered with barbed pikes, each stretching several metres into the air. On these pikes the populations of the eight planets the Heralds had visited were impaled. Dark sorcery was keeping these wretches alive and fully aware, their screams of anguish echoed round the whole planet, churning its seas of blood and effluent and manifesting in the psychic energy broadcast out into space.

Returning to his ship, Hakam ordered his Astropath to broadcast his instructions for the Exterminatus of the fell world they orbited. As the Astropath’s mind opened to the Warp he went into convulsions before addressing Malik with Drakenholm’s voice.

What you saw below is but a taste of what is to come. We are the Heralds of Desolation and we will scour the Corpse God and his followers from this galaxy. Their blood will sanctify…”

The creature’s last words were cut off as more convulsions set in and before Hakam’s horrified eyes the Astropath’s body bulged and contorted as multiple mutations began to form. Before matters worsen Hakam struck the abomination down with a single blow from his force sword.

Returning to Imperial space, Hakam made it his mission to seek out the Heralds of Desolation but for the rest of his long life they eluded him. Indeed, when a battle fleet arrived at the co-ordinates of the sacrificial world they found nothing but open space, it was as if the planet had never existed.

That is not to say that Hakam was wholly unsuccessful, he collected all the information he could find on the Heralds of the Emperor Project and followed up all rumours, no matter how slight, about the chapter’s appearances around the galaxy. This obsession on more than one occasion brought him into conflict with his masters since the Ordo had done its utmost to ensure the suppression and eradication of all the remaining information, evidence and people associated with the Herald Project.

Before he died he bequeathed his archive to his most trusted former student. He impressed onto him the need to protect this information and ensure that whenever the Heralds emerged from the shadows, the Imperium would be ready.

It was many years after Hakam’s death that the first confirmed sighting of the Heralds of Desolation took place. In 729.M35 near the western fringe of the Uhulis Sector the agriworld Harper’s Folly detected an incoming fleet. The world’s long-range auspex identified the lead vessel as the New Dawn, flagship of the Heralds of The Emperor.

Word soon spread among the planet’s few nobility that they would soon be honoured by the arrival of The Emperor’s angels of death. Preparations were still being made for the welcoming reception when the orbital bombardment commenced.

Harper’s Folly fell within hours. The debased Heralds of Desolation made sport of the doomed population and revelled in acts of unspeakable cruelty. Fortunately though, few did escape the slaughter.

A Rogue Trader named Erasmus Tortega, who was visiting the planet to negotiate for access to the system’s mineral rights managed to make it back to his ship which was fortunately for him situated on the other side of the planet from the arriving Heralds. Breaking orbit without being detected, Tortega’s ship slipped into the Warp and made best speed for friendly space.

It was not long before the Inquisition located Tortega, during his lengthy debriefing he described what had become to the once-noble Astartes and it became very clear as to their true identity. The Heralds of Desolation had returned.

Since then, confirmed sightings increased year on year. While originally confined to the Segmentum Tempestus, in recent centuries Herald warbands have been positively identified operating all across Imperial space. The only constant is that wherever they appear, death and destruction are not far behind.

Chapter Organisation and Beliefs

Unlike many traitor chapters, the Heralds of Desolation have retained a fairly formal command structure. The Chapter is still lead by the Daemon Prince Marax The Desolater from his Battle Barge New Dawn which has remained undetected by the Imperium for centuries.

Marax has grown weary of late with the Long War and spends increasing amounts of time communing with his patron god Tzeentch. Marax believes that he is close to uncovering a great secret about the Imperium, once this is known to him, he will have the power he needs to finally end the Corpse God’s reign.

Although Marax is a disciple of Tzeentch, the majority of the Heralds worship Chaos Undivided. Like many Chaos forces, there are individuals who embrace the exclusive worship of a single Chaos God and, inevitably, they end up congregating together. By far the most common single god to be worshipped is Tzeentch, indeed it is rare for a senior commander of the chapter to follow any other.

Presently there number approximately five thousand Heralds. This is mainly thanks to the advanced gene seed gestation technology that they were equipped with six thousand years before. In addition to their enhanced recruitment capabilities, the Heralds have disturbingly successful methods of ‘convincing’ loyal Astartes to join them, however most of these marines are so maddened by the process that their only use is as disposable shock troops.

Over the years many non-Astartes have flocked to the Heralds’ banner. Many of the Tech Priests who accompanied the Heralds from Terra still serve with them although one would scarcely recognise what they have become. Likewise, many of the Imperial Guard and Navy personnel who survived the Battle of Gideon’s World became the first of the Heralds’ cult army, those who weren’t sacrificed to the glory of Chaos, that is!

As their numbers are so high, the Heralds are split into several large War Hosts, each commanded by a champion of their chapter appointed by Marax personally. These hosts operate with near autonomy and have spread carnage throughout the whole Imperium.

Chapter Appearance

As with most Chaos Marines, their power armour has been significantly affected by their long exposure to the Warp. While the Heralds have retained their original blue and silver livery, their armour now gives off a faint glow and what is beneath the armour is best not discussed.

Creative Background

Ever since Codex: Chaos came out in 1996 I’ve wanted to collect a Chaos Marine force. Back then I didn’t really have the time as my Blood Angels, Imperial Guard and Eldar took priority. And my Standard Grades (Scottish GCSEs) of course!

When I got back into the hobby in 2009 I decided to initially concentrate on my Imperial Guard but less than I year later I found myself making cake toppers for my own wedding out of a couple of Chaos Spawn and within a couple of months I’d picked up the (then) current Codex and a box of marines.

At the time I decided to divide my loyalties between my Guard, the Dark Eldar I’d started six months earlier and these scions of Chaos. Unfortunately the Dark Eldar got the new codex treatment first and my poor Chaos Marines languished unloved in a Tupperware box under my desk for well over a year but as rumours began to appear that Chaos Marines would be the first sixth edition Codex I decided to do my best and get a viable force ready as soon as possible.

Now this hasn’t happened yet, but at least most of them have the beginnings of a base coat and my pool of unpainted Chaos minis now takes up three Tupperware boxes. I’m hoping to get my first 1,500 points ready by the end of the year and I’m having a blast painting them.

The Heralds’ background has gone through many revisions. Long term readers of this blog may remember that my first ever post introduced them. At the time, they were the Heralds of Woe and as you can read here, some of the early background has survived.

Later I had rechristened them the Heralds of Enlightenment and I’d worked out a pretty decent background for them until I realised that I’d basically ripped off the Word Bearers’ history! So, back to the drawing board.

By this time the new codex had appeared and having devoured it I decided to go down a slightly different track. I came to realise that the main appeal of the Chaos Marines to me is the sequence of small, subtle steps that lead to damnation. I wanted to explore this but I also wanted to leave some options should I wish to expand on their background later.

Thus, what you have just read was born. I deliberately skipped over certain periods in their history (and that of several supporting players) since I really want to come back to this. For example, the Heralds of The Emperor spent ten years bringing eight worlds to compliance, but what happened to them during this time? What corners did they have to cut, what dark choices did they make to bring some of the worlds into the Imperium?

Likewise, why was Drakenholm so convinced that the Heralds had turned? Did she uncover some deliberate or accidental corruption of their gene seed, what else did she know? Indeed it is Octavia Drakenholm and Malik Hakam I would most like to write about further; I would very much like to know more about their adventures together in the thirty third millennium.

Even if I never get round to writing more about them, the story of the Heralds will live on not just in my games of 40K but also in my role playing group. My friend Tim (he of the Reavers Redemptor) is thinking about incorporating a Heralds War Host into one of our Dark Heresy adventures. In fact our group’s Inquisitor is likely the current caretaker of Hakam’s Archive (there’s a story title!) so I am happy to say that I think that the Heralds and I will have a long and very interesting relationship.

Trenchmates – Canticles of Redemption – A Background by Tim Chant

10/25/2012 10 comments

Today we hear from a good friend and regular opponent of mine. Tim’s been working on the background to his marine chapter for a very long time and as you will see, it most definitely shows! As well as detailing his chapter’s history Tim has also provided a gallery of his boys in action as well as a piece where he discusses his inspiration and aspirations for the future of his army.

The Reavers Redemptor


The Reavers Redemptor came about as a result of an series of administrative errors and misunderstandings in M40, when as part of a small Founding the newly created Emperor’s Reavers were given a homeworld in the far Galactic North, on the border between the Segmenta Obscurus and Ultima. None realised, when the Chapter Fortress was raised upon the world of Nagol’s End to watch East into the Ghoul Stars and defend the Forgeworlds and agrarian colonies of region, that they were trespassing in the protectorate of a much older Chapter – the Crusaders Redemptor.

The name of the official responsible is lost to history, but it is thought to be the same clerk who became known as the Great Disruptor, whose almost heretical incompetence only came to an end when he was demoted to a Filing Servitor.

Little is known of the history of the Crusaders. Their own legends maintain a provenance in the Second Founding, of Ultramarine genestock. A Chapter noted for little more than its perhaps overly strict adherence to the Codex Astartes, it had quietly and competently maintained its watch in the area from its homeworld of Knassos V, with such little incident that Terra had forgotten its very existence.

The Knassos and Nagol systems are scant lightyears apart, so it did not take long for the Crusaders Redemptor to discover the trespassers (as they saw them) in their sector. Not only that, but the Emperor’s Reavers had already begun requiring the fealty of local systems to augment their stocks of munitions, vehicles and ships.

Relations between the two Chapters were cool but cordial to begin with. Excursions of nameless horrors from the Ghoul Stars, an incursion of Dark Eldar pirates and a marauding World Eater war band kept the two busy for a few centuries. Indeed, Crusader and Reaver Companies occasionally fought side-by-side to great effect.

This changed in mid-M41 with the accession of Mordecai Klaass to the position of Chapter Master of the Emperor’s Reavers. Young (a mere century and a half), Klaass had been Captain of the 5th Company and an unlikely candidate for Chapter Master – he rose to the position by dint of being the first to the side of the previous Master as he died, his body racked by a Dark Eldar neurotoxin. His feat in rescuing his predecessors body, armour and weapons from the vile Xenos propelled him into the position.

Unfortunately, it rapidly became apparent that he was not ready to command an entire Chapter. Impatient and reckless, he had become frustrated by the Crusaders’ cautious, methodical approach to warfare. Maintaining personal command of his company despite his weightier responsibilities, he came into conflict with the Crusaders when working with Captain Nuremberg of their 2nd Company. Believing them to be missing an opportunity to crush the same Dark Eldar raiders who had killed his beloved mentor, he rushed the Raiders along with his acolyte Sergeant Tann Hauser and the bike squads for which 3rd Company was famous. He ran straight into and wrecked the careful ambush the Crusaders had set, using a unit of the 57th Menasan Armoured Infantry as bait. In the ensuing firefight, the Xenos slipped away, the Guard suffered horrendous casualties and, at the height of the fighting, the Crusaders and Reavers began exchanging fire.

Tensions over the resources in the area and the differing doctrines of the two Chapters came to a head after this unfortunate incident. A conclave between Chapter Masters on the Forgeworld of Kadesh ended in violence, from which Nuremberg barely escaped with his life thanks to Hauser’s intervention.

For the next two centuries, the two Chapters fought whenever they came into contact. At first it was minor skirmishes, almost honour bouts that did not interfere with their normal duties, but as the divisions deepened the violence became lethal until the Chapters were embroiled in full scale warfare that consumed their entire attention. The focus of the fighting was Kadesh, both chapters seeing the resources and manufactorums as being their right and the key to victory. It became so intense that much of the world was devastated in the full-scale battles between the full strength of the Chapters.

It was the resultant drop off in productivity from Kadesh that brought a resolution of sorts. Noticing the reduction in war materiel from the planet flowing to the arsenals of the Guard, the enigmatic and extremely reclusive Inquisitor Cliranda Montague journeyed to the sector with her entourage. Expecting Xenos interference, sedition or the influence of the Ruinous Powers, what she found disturbed her deeply – brother Marines who had been at war with each other so long they had forgotten their duty to the God Emperor. Indeed, the violence had been so extreme and the war so long that each Chapter could muster barely five hundred warriors apiece.

Montague knew this could be tolerated no longer. While her extensive entourage worked on assessing the extent of the war and infiltrating the alliances each Chapter had built up with planetary governors and even some Guard Regiments, Montague and her closest followers travelled to Maccrage to enlist the aid of Marneus Calgar and the Ultramarines.

The Lord of the Ultramarines took some persuading. Despite having access to some of the most extensive records in the Imperium, his sages could find little record of the Crusaders and certainly no record of them being Primogenitors of his own Chapter. The intensity of Montague’s representation, and the fact that she took the unprecedented step of meeting with him in person rather than through proxies, eventually piqued Calgar’s interest and he travelled with his 2nd Company to the Kadesh system.

Within days of his arrival in the sector, he had brought peace between the two Chapters. His towering rage, force of personality and the backing of some of the finest warriors in the Imperium soon brought the warring brothers to the table. Once again in conclave on the ravished planet of Kadesh, Chapter Masters Klaass and Hieronimo Trent of the Crusaders were offered a stark choice – put aside their differences, or face censure and destruction at the hands of the Ultramarines and other chapters. To ensure the situation never occurred again, Calgar and Montague made a simple decree – the two understrength Chapters were to become on. The Crusaders Redemptor and Emperor’s Reavers would become the Reavers Redemptor. Montague’s investigations had thrown up the surprising fact that the Crusaders’ genestock was actually that of the White Scars, as was that of the Reavers. The two Chapters were fully compatible.

Wearied by an internecine war he had never sought, Trent agreed to the proposals, although many in the Chapter reacted in anger, not least at the suggestion that their long-held belief in their provenance was indeed false. Only Trent’s wisdom and the loyalty he had earned brought the remnant of his Chapter into line.

Klaass reacted with anger and predictable violence. While Calgar was absent, he attempted to bring the war to a conclusion that suited him better by striking at both Trent and the assembled Reavers as they gathered for the final ceremonies of the peace treaty.

Only the intercession of Tann Hauser, now Captain of the Reavers’ 3rd Company, prevented this vile stroke from falling. Realising the folly of Klaass’ actions and that, rather than accepting the presented victory, Calgar would destroy the Reavers, Hauser informed Trent of the attack. Recognising in Hauser an honest Marine as wearied by the war as he was, Trent acknowledged the warning and personally intercepted Klaass and his Honour Guard. Deep in the Great Ash Basin of Kadesh, the two Chapter Masters met and fought for the last time. Despite the fact that by then both men were several centuries old, the struggle was epic, lasting almost seven days and changing the very terrain they fought on. On the third day, Calgar arrived and, recognising the necessity of his grudge being settled, chose to adjudicate rather than interfere.

At the start of the seventh day, Klaass finally made a rash error, letting his guard down briefly and allowing Trent to strike a might blow with his power sword, mortally wounding his opponent.

Trent decreed an end to the fighting and acknowledged the wisdom of Calgar’s plan. Himself wounded beyond recovery, his made each and every one of his four hundred and ninety one surviving Battle Brothers swear that no rancour would remain in their hearts towards their new Brothers. Calgar himself took the personal oaths of the surviving Reavers, beginning with Hauser. The war was over, and out of the crucible of fire and bloodshed the Reavers Redemptor were forged.


The new Chapter was allowed to retain the Fortress Monasteries on both Nagol’s End and Knassos V, but purely as recruiting centres.

Nagol’s End is a wild world of high mountains and broad, windswept planes. The semi-barbarous people exist amongst the ruins of the early colony, which collapsed into anarchy during Old Night. Even millennia later, the inhabitants are able to salvage workable technology from the fallen cities, as well as artefacts they trade with offworlders for what they require. The largest import to the planet are vehicles, bikes in particular, and munitions, for the people of Nagol’s End are either at war with each other or preparing for war. The world revolves around a few permanent Holdings, governed by those who are strong and ruthless enough to maintain their position, built to take advantage of the vast road network of the old colony. These long, broad avenues were laid with a material that remains a mystery to Techmarine and savant alike, and has not decayed despite not being maintained since before Old Night. A nomadic culture exists upon the network, one that survives on warfare and trade and favours those who are able to move and fight at speed. Those who form this culture are known as Blacktoppers, and are particularly favoured by the Astartes recruiters.

In contrast, Knassos V is a world that has maintained a more civilised aspect. Founded during the Great Crusade, it is a pre-eminent centre of art and learning whose burgeoning population relies on the surrounding worlds for food and industrial output. Governorship, though invested in the Reavers Redemptor, is maintained though consensus with the city-states that make up the society. The Marines drawn from its gleaming spires and sprawling suburbs tend to be Knassans who, at an early age, have demonstrated both intellectual excellence and rigour in the pursuit of the classic sports of wrestling, pugilism and athletics.

Calgar and Montague, however, declared that the new Chapter’s Homeworld would be Kadesh, and the semi-derelict Great Port in orbit over the planet was given to them as their new Fortress Monastery. As the war between the Marines had ravished Kadesh, so would the joining between them rebuild it. The Reavers have thrown themselves into their newfound duties, restoring the great hives of the night-bound world, rebuilding the transport network and re-engaging the ancient Manufactora. Like Nagol’s End, Kadesh was founded before the Age of Strife and managed to maintain order and a structured society in the intervening period. Like many Forgeworlds, Kadesh’s environment has long since been poisoned by the effluent of human industry, and the sky has been so burnt that no natural light penetrates the cloud cover. It is never anything more than twilight on Kadesh. Its people are stoic, accustomed to suffering even before the War Between the Chapters, and hardened by their environment. Despite the bitterness left behind by the conflict, the Reavers have begun recruiting on Kadesh. Some Kadeshians take pride in becoming Reavers Redemptor, going from a reborn world to a reborn Chapter, and are often greatly valued as potential Techmarines and tank crew.

Combat Doctrine

In combat, the Reavers Redemptor have combined the studious, Codex-based approach of the former Crusaders with the wild, fluid warfare of the Emperor’s Reavers to great effect. The Crusaders were the masters of careful ambush, surgical orbital strike and well thought-out defensive lines. The Emperor’s Reavers specialised in raiding deep behind enemy lines, often relying on Bikes, Razorbacks and Rhinos, and lightning strikes to decapitate enemy forces. With the added element of the Kadeshian’s native affinity for heavy armour, the Reavers Redemptor have formulated a devastating style of warfare involving targeted Drop Pod and teleport assaults to form redoubts that are then linked up by armoured columns spearheaded and covered by the waves of Blacktoppher bikers. Few can stand against such a devastating combination. In defence, the Reavers utilise heavy firepower in gunlines to break up enemy formations, which are then shattered by Bike countercharges and Drop Pod deployments in the enemy’s rear areas.

This doctrine is enunciated in The Canticles of Redemption. Begun by Chapter Master Trent and continued by his successor Elizias Cutter, formerly Captain of the Crusaders Redemptor’s 1st Company, it contains reflections on combat doctrines to be employed against a variety of foes. Most recently, and tragically, this has included contemplation on the suppression of rebellious Imperial Guard Regiments, as well as countering the raiding of the Xenos filth known as the ‘Dark’ Eldar.

Force Organisation

The Reavers Redemptor. Despite its odd lineage, maintains a reasonably close adherence to the Codex Astartes. Still commanded by Elizias Cutter, it maintains a standard ten-company structure. Few companies are drawn exclusively from a single word, a deliberate tactic to ensure full integration, although recruits from a particular world will tend to gravitate towards the company that best expresses their personal ethos.

The soul deviations from this rule, in terms of organisation, are the 2nd and 3rd Companies. 2nd Company (Captain Rikkard Nuremberg), although commanded by a Knossan, contains a great many Marines of Kadeshian origin and tends to employ a greater number of heavy vehicles than the other companies. At the other end of the scale, 3rd Company is still commanded by Captain Tann Hauser and contains a great many Blacktoppers. Of all of the battle companies, the 3rd is pre-eminent in its use of mounted assault. Despite their differing backgrounds and the fact they often fought against each other, Hauser and Nuremberg are now fast friends and often co-operate to great effect.

The Chapter’s heraldry does reflect its unusual heritage. The Crusaders wore a universally dark green armour and the Emperor’s Reavers’ a dark rust-red. The two colour schemes were combined, with a standard scheme of a red torso and upper legs and green lower legs and torso, company colour on the trim of the shoulder pads and squad designator on the knee pads. The Veterans were allowed the honour of deciding whether to maintain the heraldry of their original chapters, with veterancy denoted by a silver helmet or laurels. Captain Hauser maintained the right for his troops to wear the company colour, a deep burnished gold, in their helmets as well as shoulder pads, maintaining the tradition of the tribe of Blacktoppers he was recruited from.

The Reavers are also one of a handful of chapters to have the dubious honour of having a single squad of Ultramarine veterans attached to them on a rotating basis. Currently Sternguard Squad Apothes has been assigned to the Chapter.


The Reavers Redemptor have found a new devotion to the Imperial Creed, in particular those elements that focus on redemption through struggle and suffering. They have extended their enforcement of a particularly militant interpretation of the Creed to other elements of the Imperial apparatus in their ever-increasing sphere of operations. This has led them into conflict with at least two Imperial Guard Regiments they regard as being rebellious, if not heretical. They have skirmished with elements of the 57th Menasan Armoured Infantry to the Galactic West of their operational zone and fought two full-scale wars with the Genovasian 4th Equatorial, from the Dasop Sector not far from the Reavers’ sphere of influence. The first of these conflicts was precipitated by a Radical Inquisitor, something the Reavers find to be anathema. The second is on-going at the end of M41, triggered by Ecclesiarchal interference with a world recently brought into the Reavers’ domain. To the Reavers, this is tantamount to Heresy, leading some to question whether the entire organ of the Ecclesiarchy has become corrupted.

Inquisitor Montague, through her followers, has maintained close links with the Chapter, both to monitor them and to harness their newfound fervous when her investigations require the most extreme and direct sanction.

Significant/Defining Moment

The fight between Trent and Klaass is seen by many as the pivotal moment in the Chapter’s unhappy history. Indeed, many of the current Reavers lived through the war and the reconciliation. To remind the next generations of the dangers of quarrelling with their brothers, the gruelling Ritual of Dust that new initiates undergo in the arid Dust Plains of Kadesh is focused on the Valley of the Masters. Here the titanic battle actually carved a new topography into the surface of the planet which now stands as mute testament to their struggle.

This moment also gave birth to the Chapter’s darkest secret and greatest shame. Not all of the Battle Brothers of either founding chapter swore the oaths either to Trent or Calgar, and some who did recanted them. These apostates fled the fold of the new Chapter. Some renounced their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor entirely, becoming renegade and Traitor. Ironically, renegade Crusaders and Reavers have found themselves forced to form war bands together to survive. Others, either as individuals or squads, maintain that they are loyal to the Emperor but refuse to accept the authority of the new Chapter. Although most still fight on, as they can, against the enemies of the Imperium, their isolation has driven them all increasingly towards a precipice they cannot return from. Hauser and Nuremberg, between them, have sworn a solemn oath to bring the renegades to justice and attempt to redeem the recidivists.

Battle Cry

‘Imperator Redentor!’ – Emperor the redeemer. Few Chapters feel as much need to seek redemption for past misdeeds and errings.


White Scar stock. The Crusaders Redemptor, although an ancient chapter, are not of the Second Founding or indeed a Primogenitor of the Ultramarines. Their geneseed was drawn from a Primogenitor of the White Scars in the Third Founding. Through the beneficence of the God Emperor, the Emperors’ Reavers geneseed was drawn from the same Chapter, albeit eight thousand years later. There is some debate as to how the geneseed of a wild chapter like the White Scars could have given rise to the strictly doctrinal Crusaders Redemptor. Some even whisper that the original geneseed of the Crusaders had been interfered with in an attempt to abate the wild streak. A few daring or mad souls even suggest that the Crusaders were in fact drawn from Ultramarine stock, and that the Inquisitor Montague lied to all and committed the heresy of combining the geneseed of different lines. Some say it was for pragmatic reasons, others that her motivations were entirely more… radical.

There is little doubt that the combination of the genestocks has led to the Chapter returning to the character of its roots, albeit tempered by the clinical nature of the old Crusaders.


Above and below: Captain Tann Hauser leads his bike command squad in pursuit of fleeing Genovasian Imperial Guardsmen during the Bugham’s World Incident.

Brother Reddick supports Terminator Squad Antigor in clearing mysterious ruins on Cribdis, on the outer edge of the Ghoul Stars Cluster.

Tactical Squad Kollan, 2nd Company, deploy from their drop pod into the ruins of the Ork-infested City of Emperor’s Grace during the Purging of Kallandros.

Reavers Redemptor – Writing the fluff and designing the livery

Believe it or not, the original plan for the Reavers Redemptor was to have them in a very light blue and plum red colour scheme (something which horrified my flatmate [Elizabeth Corbett of Sexism in The Warhammer Worlds fame, who does accept commissions if anyone’s interested], who was doomed to paint them). Luckily, I took a trip to the Highlands in autumn and was deeply struck by the combinations of red and green as the trees lost their leaves. A chat with a member of staff in my local GW store and further discussions with the aforementioned flatmate led to the colour scheme, which is built up by (in old money):

  • White undercoat
  • Base of Mechrite Red on torso, upper legs and arms; base of Orkhide Shade on shoulder pads, gloves and shins/boots
  • Washes of Baal Red and Thrakka Green
  • Dry brush of Tin Bitz over the red.

Because I like a bit of variety and Elizabeth didn’t want to get bored painting, there are variations on the theme. Vehicles alternate the blocks of colours, and elite units are either entirely red or entirely green. I haven’t got round to working out how to do the scheme with the new paints. Thankfully, the bulk of the army (entire 2nd Battle Company plus 1st and 3rd Company elements) have already been painted by Elizabeth. Including the mention of Ultramarines will allow me to field the squad of Tyranid Hunters my partner’s brother kindly gave to me, and I’m very tempted to throw in the occasional squad of other Codex Chapters (alongside the small Dark Angel and Space Wolf armies I’m putting together).

Next up I have a few Dreads, a couple of Land Raiders, more Bikes….

As to the background, I have such a large selection at my disposal I like to vary my force composition and tactics (to keep my opponents guessing). I also wanted to give the Chapter a bit of the feel of being right on the edge and being drawn back into the fold – and, let’s face it, I enjoy writing and wanted to come up with something quite interesting. The background I’ve created gives a story to the different styles of play I enjoy. The relationship between the Reavers and Inquisitor Montague, and the situation with the renegades, is also something I’m looking forward to developing through my own writing and the games of Dark Heresy I run.

Many thanks to Tim for this fantastic insight into one of the False Emperor’s armies of lapdogs. Sorry, I came over all Chaosy. However on that subject I’d like to add that Tim and I have tied the backstory of the Reavers to those of my Imperial Guard (The 57th Menasan Armoured Infantry), Dark Eldar (Kabal of The Sundered Heart) and Chaos Space Marine (The Heralds of Desolation) of which more will be detailed very soon.

If you’d like to contribute an article all the information you need can be found here.


10/06/2012 Leave a comment

As followers of my Twitter account probably know, I’m finally getting my long-gestating Chaos Space Marine army ready for battle.  In part this has been spurred on by the new codex (which I picked up today, love it) but mainly because the background I’ve been writing for them has in many ways become my latest obsession.  Two nights ago however, something magical happened.

Let’s go back a bit.  Long suffering readers may remember that I talked briefly about the provisional background for my Chaos Marines, then called The Heralds of Woe, in my first ever post; as you can see, what’s there is very basic, the synopsis from the book jacket if you will.  Also, not that long ago I posted an experimental colour scheme for my army.  This I’m keeping, the background however…

You see, as of last Saturday I’d written a good 1,500 words which chronicled their secret creation on Holy Terra in M.35 and their crusade westwards beyond the borders of the Imperium.  All of this is good, I genuinely like it and most of it will stay.  However, then I started writing about The Event which forever corrupted them and I realised as I was writing it I was basically rehashing the history of The Word Bearers.


This realisation hit me like a freight train.  Heck, even their original name, The Heralds of The Emperor is far to bloody similar to the Word Bearers original name, The Imperial Heralds.  Plus, my army, which rechristened themselves as The Heralds of Enlightenment are religious fanatics, albeit of a different flavour to Lorgar’s lads.

So, what to do?  I genuinely did not mean this, especially since once my army turned from the Emperor’s light they are a very different beast from the Word Bearers but the fact remained that I had cheated my army out of a unique background, it would have been easier just to paint them crimson and silver and be done with it!

Then Thursday night happened.

As I was drifting off to sleep I started pondering the choices men make and how these decisions can mount up and lead them into the army of Chaos.  I played out the final scene I’d written that had definitely been my own work, the one where Chapter Master Augustus Gideon had to decide whether to push on into the unknown or turn back and I realised with absolute clarity what would happen next; trust me, it’s very different from what happened to Lorgar.

I don’t want to spoil things since I’m still working out some of the ramifications of the choices that he makes, and those he’s forced to make.  The best part of it is that in retrospect the outcome was unexpectedly foreshadowed by the first lines of the background I wrote:


In the God-Emperor of Mankind’s name, we will not rest until his supreme vision is realised. We will finish His Great Crusade, no matter the cost.”

Augustus Gideon, Chapter Master of the Heralds of The Emperor, M.35

 I’ll leave you with that for now, there’s much more work to be done.

The Damsel Eleonore

05/22/2012 Leave a comment

I’ve finally finished my first major model for the first round of The Rock in The Badlands campaign.

This is the first Warhammer Fantasy miniature I’ve painted since ’94 and in truth, while I really enjoyed the process it’s very obvious that some more work is required on the face. Unfortunately since I want to have at least half my army ready in time for this weekend I’ve had to swallow my pride and move on for now. After my gallant knights have crushed all before them I’ll add some more detail and soften up the skin tone.

A History of Menasa

11/18/2011 2 comments

Towards the western edge of the Calixis sector, near the Halo Stars lies the planet of Menasa. Once a world of staggering beauty, the past ten millennia have literally torn this planet in two as the Imperium of man seeks to exploit one of the galaxy’s most valuable resources.

Colonisation and the Dark Age of Technology

Unlike most planets in the Imperium, much is believed to be known about the pre-imperial history of Menasa. It is thought that it was settled sometime in early M15 by the colony ship Astraprogenus under the command of Captain Simeon Drakus. Whether this is true or not it is beyond dispute that these settlers found a virgin world, temperate, teeming with life and – being twice the size of Terra – perfect for large-scale expansion.

Over the next eight thousand years the citizens achieved what their Terran ancestors had failed to, they preserved Menasa’s ecosystem and natural resources while at the same time building a highly advanced society built on a foundation of learning, equality and fairness. The planet was ruled by an elected quorum of citizens, each accomplished intellectuals, progressive in their outlook and wholly committed to the peaceful advancement of humankind. In many ways Menasa was the utopia all Terran colonists dreamed of finding.

All this came to an end in early M23 when warp storms heralded the beginning of the Old Night.

A new life underground

While the indigenous life on the planet remained almost entirely unaffected, over the first century of the Age of Strife curious afflictions began to affect the human population. Increased reports of madness, criminal behaviour, mutation and diseases long-eradicated began to manifest. After decades of painstaking research, it was determined that the warp energy was reacting with elements unique to the planet’s atmosphere and without protection the whole population was doomed.

By this time much of the planet had descended into anarchy, the rule of reason was gone and in its place grew a brutal, suppressive martial law. Individual city states gradually developed, wholly enclosing themselves in ever-thicker layers of armour in an attempt to keep out both the warp radiation and the increasing numbers of lawless bandits who roamed the wastes.

Even so the protection of these cities wasn’t enough and the radiation still found a way to breach the metres-thick walls, it was almost as if the warp itself knew of their desperate efforts and was determined to wipe all human life from the face of the planet. It took a man of singular vision to find a way to save the people from mutation, madness and death, that man was Antonigus Draake.

An alleged descendant of Simeon Drakus, Draake was a gifted scientist and superb orator. In a relatively short career he had risen high in both academic and political circles of Farhaven, the largest city and de facto capital of Menasa. As he commanded the respect of the scientific, civilian and military factions alike he was confident his radical solution would be heeded.

Draake postulated that the bedrock of the planet would shield the warp radiation far better than even the toughest substance they could produce. Every city would start digging tunnels and shafts deep towards the core of the planet, huge chambers would then be constructed hundreds of kilometres underground, capable of housing the entire population until the warp storms subsided. Faced with little alternative the population began the massive task of creating a new life for themselves underground.

When the warp storms subsided 6,000 years later a very different society emerged from their underground chambers. While they were still very advanced technologically, such knowledge was held by the descendants of the military and scientific leaders of before. This empowered elite quickly staked claim to the surface paradise of Menasa while the lower orders were consigned to the massive underground cities to toil in the massive hydroponic food farms and manufacturing caverns.

A rigid social order was maintained using both the Menasans’ instinctive respect for knowledge and the memory of the terror caused by the Age of Strife. When this was insufficient then the elite Menasan Guard could be relied on to swiftly silence any insurrection.

Rediscovery, The Great Crusade and The Horus Heresy

Life continued in such a way until early in M30 the 1st Legion of the Adeptus Astartes made planet fall near Farhaven, now a huge hive complex. Recognising the Space Marines as true sons of Terra, the Menasans joyously welcomed them and their inclusion into the burgeoning Imperium of Mankind. A great regiment of the Imperial Army was founded from the best of the Menasan Guard and with their illustrious commander, General Antonigus Draake IX; they joined the Dark Angels Crusade force and headed off into the galaxy in The Emperor’s name.

Menasa meanwhile became a source of fascination for many of the scientific adepts of the Imperium. Fascinated to learn how the people of Menasa could survive so well underground, armies of scientists and engineers enthusiastically probed the cities beneath the planet’s surface. Using the knowledge they had amassed from studying the Immaterium and its affects on the physical universe they discovered that it was in fact a particular metal element, unique in such quantities to Menasa, which caused the especially severe warp storms to manifest around the planet. This metal, called Ferrus Imperator, was particularly sensitive to warp energy and as such had the potential to be used in the construction of materials which could either channel or repel this force.

The Adeptus Terra, desperate for such resources, ordered the mass extraction of this material from within Menasa. Using the Menasans’ unique understanding of the mining process it was possible to create an extraction process on an unprecedented scale without greatly disrupting the idyllic surface of the world. Thus the exploitation of the planet began in earnest, legions of colonists were brought in to supplement the already large native population, within a generation there were close to one hundred billion souls toiling under the surface of Menasa while a relatively few elite dwelled in the palatial hives above.

The status quo was maintained until the greatest of The Emperor’s sons, Horus, rebelled as the Great Crusade was coming to an end. Without hesitation the planet declared its unswerving allegiance to The Emperor and a further three hundred Imperial Army regiments were conscripted for use in the war effort. Millions of Menasans found themselves fighting and dying across the whole of the Imperium, many laid down their lives defending the Imperial Palace on Holy Terra during the desperate final hours of the Heresy.

Less well known is the role that the 57th Regiment played during this time. Seconded to the Dark Angels Legion they found themselves helping put down a rebellion on the Legion’s home world of Caliban. Not much is know about what occurred during this time, however in thanks for their efforts the regiment was gifted with a set of priceless ornate weapons which their most exalted leaders use to this day.


While Menasa was spared the attentions of the vile traitors who fought under Horus’s banner, its relative proximity to the Eye of Terror coupled with it’s recently discovered mineral wealth made it an incredibly tempting target for the raider fleets converging on the area. Huge orbital star forts were quickly constructed along with the doubling of the size of the Menasan PDF, a substantial part of the sub-sector’s battle fleet was permanently stationed around the planet and other more secretive Imperial organisations sent emissaries as well.

As a further measure, the extraction of the planet’s metal increased in pace; gargantuan orbital refineries and star ports were built with space lifts constantly ferrying a steady supply of ore from deep within the planet’s surface. To the casual observer it seemed that this operation would quickly exhaust Menasa of all its bounty yet for millennia the planet gave up a seemingly unending supply of its most precious resource.

The Cataclysm

429.639.M37 is a date etched into the psyche of every Menasan, it was on this day that their planet died. Shortly after daybreak over Farhaven tremors were felt across the planet. As a result of the mining process such incidents were far from uncommon, most people went about their business and waited for the shaking to subside. After several hours the tremors had not abated and in the equatorial regions they were getting worse by the minute.

A general evacuation was ordered in the worst affected areas but by then it was too late. Massive gouts of flame, tens of kilometres high erupted from the ground all around the equator, the seas began to boil and the land cracked. Then with a sound so awful no mortal should ever have to hear, the planet broke in two.

No one knows for certain why this happened, over-mining has been blamed as the most likely cause yet some still claim that something happened to the seams of Ferrus Imperator closest to the equator. They claim that almost instantly the metal changed, it became hot to the touch and started expanding through the area’s mine-works. Such speculation is rigorously discouraged by the planet’s administration, and even if it were true, there was no one left alive to bear witness to the truth.

That should have been the end of Menasa. Billions died all over the planet and the explosion of debris accounted for 80% of the orbital complexes, hundreds of space craft nearby were also unable to escape the torrent of rock blasting out into space. Yet, The Emperor had other plans for Menasa, His will would not let the planet slip into the annals of history and slowly the destructive chain reaction abated.

Weeks went by and the first relief ships arrived. They were expecting to find a scene of utter desolation but found instead a planet reborn. Through the grace of The Emperor the two hemispheres of Menasa remained in place, although separated by a gulf two thousand kilometres wide they retained a shared atmosphere and, most miraculously of all, the surface and most of the internal chambers where still habitable!

When the first shuttles landed they found that the rebuilding had already begun under the guidance of Planetary Govenor Tiresias G’Laanor and Supreme General of the Menasan Guard Davidius Draake. Power had been restored to most of the planet and some of the mining operations were slowly recommencing. The climate had dropped by several degrees since to planet’s core had been wiped out, however heat was still being generated where the gravatic energies from the two halves of the planet met and interacted with the Ferrus Imperator, irradiating it enough to provide the warmth the planet required.

An Uncertain Future

By the end of M37 Menasa had rebuilt much of what was lost. The capital hive city of Farhaven, situated on what became known as Menasa Primaris now oversees a population of well over 200 billion, the vast majority of whom either toil in the subterranean mines or serve in the Menasan Guard. While Menasa Primaris is the administrative heart of the planet, Menasa Secundis is home to the vast military might of the planet. At any one time fully ten regiments of Menasan Imperial Guard remain on the planet to support the Menasan PDF to repel the frequent attacks by Chaos and other raiders intent on plundering the planet’s rare and valuable resource.

However as the forty first millennium draws to a close questions are again being asked about the planet’s precarious hold onto life. Rumours abound that scientists have concluded that the energies holding the halves of the planet together are beginning to fluctuate and sooner or later the hemispheres will most likely crush each other, dooming all on the planet to a fiery death. Such talk is quickly suppressed by the authorities but this is just one of many potential threats.

The neighbouring Eye of Terror is increasingly active. While The Despoiler’s thirteenth Black Crusade has more or less petered out there is no doubt that Abaddon will be back. Even if he is not, there are always equally vicious monstrosities spewing out of The Eye and many of them converge on Menasa seeking its bounty.

Likewise Rogue Traders are increasingly bringing tales of strange, esoteric encounters in the space near Menasa. Huge spaceships, apparently organic in nature have allegedly been seen around the eastern boundary of the Halo Stars. More troubling than that, several extra-planetary mining expeditions sent out to ascertain if Ferris Imperator is also present in nearby systems have vanished with the occasional garbled astropathic transmission regarding ‘metal warriors’ being the only trace found.

Whatever the future may hold for Menasa two things are indeed certain. The Emperor’s light will always shine on them so long as they maintain their faith in His divine will and when the dark legions come the might of the Menasan Imperial Guard will be there, ready and waiting.

Background is key

11/09/2011 Leave a comment

I’m not a competitive gamer, given my win to loss ratio I couldn’t be even if I wanted to. What attracts me to a game is the wealth of background material and how I as a fan relate to it. It is for this reason I’ve stuck mainly with GW games and 40K in particular.

To this end I base my purchases, conversions and painting on a theme or background I’ve already established for my chosen army. Last weekend I put the finishing touches to my new Imperial Guard Colonel. I’d taken longer than usual to decide on how to convert the model and longer still to paint it. As I was photographing it for this week’s Twitter Miniature Monday I realised that he didn’t even have a name and, more importantly, I hadn’t really given much thought to the intricacies of the 57th Menasans as a regiment in their own right.

On Monday night I sat down and sketched out a brief history of both Menasa and its most illustrious regiment covering the planet’s colonisation by (allegedly) Captain Simeon Drakus before the Age of Strife, right up to the 57th’s involvement in the 13th Black Crusade as well as their various incidents with the Reavers Redemptor Astartes.

To this end I’m going to be publishing a series of articles detailing the history and characters of my guard army and, if successful, I hope to move on to my other two forces.

Hope you enjoy them.