|CHAPTER NAME: .............. Star Shields|
FOUNDING: .................. 22ND [M.37]
CHAPTER WORLD: ............. Ursalis
FORTRESS MONASTERY: ........ Chapterhouse
CHAPTER MASTER: ............ Helm Shieldbane
MAIN COLOURS ............... Fenris Grey and White
SPECIALTY .................. Heavy Firepower
GENE-SEED (PREDECESSOR): ... Salamanders
KNOWN DESCENDANTS: ......... Unknown
ESTIMATED STRENGTH: ........ 1000
"VIGILAMUS PRO IMPERATOR!"
“WE STAND ON GUARD FOR THE EMPEROR!”
The Star Shields were forged in the centuries following the Age of Apostasy, entrusted to safeguard the frayed edges of an Imperium still recovering from the Reign of Blood. Those early years saw them waging war across the distant galactic northwest of Ultima Segmentum, cut off from the bulk of the Imperium's might and forced to rely on their own means as much as possible. The Chapter eventually settled on Ursalis, where the discovery of ancient technologies drew their attention and for a time at least improved aid from the Adeptus Mechanicus. Today the Star Shields oversee a stretch of systems called the Bulwark Stars, protecting dozens of resource-rich frontier worlds from alien forces that linger beyond the light of the Astronomican.
By far the most deadly of Uraslis’ predators are its bears. Maulers are the smallest, a pug-faced brute with a shorter temper than an irate squig. Noble bearhounds make loyal and protective mounts, and are almost as intelligent as a human. Vicious sabrebears have long tusks able to upend a wagon. The greatest of them all is the ghost bear, a silent beast that is believed to be more myth than real. The legends say a ghost bear is larger than a Rhino tank, and strong enough to rip open a Land Raider to get at its crew. Bears form the center of Ursalis’ culture, symbolizing the endurance and strength of its people.
Tribal legend and physical evidence indicate that Ursalis was once a hive-world, dedicated to the pursuit of science. Cool, but comfortable and clean, its people were content until the fabled Age of Strife. The destruction of its sister worlds shifted the planet’s orbit, freezing the planet, and burying the Ursalis’ technological achievements under mountains of rubble and ice. The surviving humans fell into one of two groups: the High Clans who live on the surface as nomads in armored wagons, and the Underclans that live in enormous underground bunkers, the descendants of wealthy individuals who tried to hide out the apocalypse below the surface and had their needs met by technology. Invasion, misuse and time have seen all but a few of these bunkers abandoned or destroyed, and the technology of the surviving bunkers has decayed to almost nothing. High Clans and Underclans live at a level of techno-barbarism and techno-feudalism, respectively, scouring the planet for resources to improve their lot in life.
Below the ice and hive-cities, in the ancient, labyrinthine sewer networks of Ursalis, are the Subclans. Once human, these foul mutants were wholly corrupted by lingering radioactive waste and toxic sewage. The Subclans would be occasionally united by Chaos-tainted psykers, attacking the surface in great blights. A blight could wipe out whole clans before being driven back underground, only for the cycle to begin again a centuries later.
The Star Shields encountered Ursalis during one of these blights and chose to intervene, deploying the 1st Company to the planet's surface. To the Ursalans, the Space Marines seemed an army forged in the heavens and delivered by the gods, and within hours the Emperor's Finest had destroyed the blight. Heedless of the Ursalans' warnings, 1st Company continued their campaign deep underground, wiping out every mutant they could find, and returning to the surface a year later to the roaring adulation of the clans. The Ursalans pledged an honor-debt to the Chapter, promising their sons to the Star Shields forevermore. Drawn by the Chapter’s reports of Ursalis’ hidden technologies, the Adeptus Mechanicus arrived on Ursalis to comb its secrets, and as reward for their discovery, the Star Shields were given the honor of arming themselves with some of the advanced weapons the Machine Cult reclaimed. The Ursalans proved to be excellent initiates, and the Star Shields began recruiting them exclusively.
Ursalis moon was once a massive star port, ferrying thousands to and from the planet. The impacts that shifted Ursalis' orbit also shattered the moon, creating a ring of grinding stones that fortunately protect the planet from the worst asteroid impacts. When the Star Shields decided to settle on Ursalis they set about correcting the decaying orbit of the largest shard, and discovered sections of the star port still intact within it. The Chapter repaired and rebuilt what they could, and today it serves as their fortress-monastery, known as Chapterhouse. Ships moving in and out of Chapterhouse must navigate the system’s asteroid fields, and using specialized repulsor fields and thruster pods the Star Shields are able to ensure a safe, but constantly-shifting path that serves as Chapterhouse’s greatest defense against invaders.
The Star Shields are meticulous planners, never committing themselves without knowing precisely where to strike. When battle is joined they favor heavy armor and weapons: Devastators, Terminators, Dreadnoughts and tanks. Their battlefield philosophy is to take apart the enemy piece by piece with shows of overwhelming force: when this weak link is discovered they hit it as hard as they can with all of their might brought to bear, and when the enemy lines crack they spread inward, as inevitable as the winter frost. When an objective is taken they move on to the next, leaving small but elite rear-guard forces that can dig in and defend the objective for weeks or months at a time, however long the primary force needs to break the enemy. The Chapter has an excellent record for siege fighting, boarding-actions and space hulk expeditions.
As the battle-brothers gather in the Winter Hall, the Chapter Master recounts the Oaths of Victory and announces the occasion for the Feast. When the final brother has arrived the doors are sealed by the Chaplains. Great platters of red meat and barrels of Ursalis ice-wine adorn the long tables, and within hours the most reserved Space Marine is roaring laughter, singing battle hymns, and engaging in wild fist-fights, for the Winter Feast is when the Star Shields are permitted to set aside discipline and revel in the joys of a warrior culture.
Such is the wild nature of the Feast that it can take days for order to be restored, and a few battle-brothers must have their discipline beaten back into them by the Chaplains, who abstain from participating in the Feast to stand a silent vigil, ready to return their kin into the fold once the Feast has ended.
2nd through 6th Companies are the Chapter's Battle Companies, supported by the 1st Veteran, 7th Assault Reserves, 8th Armored Reserves, and 10th Scout Companies. 9th Company is comprised of ten Tactical Space Marine Squads - initiates who have only recently earned their power armor - who engage in arcing patrol tours throughout the Bulwark Stars, overseeing the planets under the Star Shields' protection. When a threat is detected, the 9th Summons one of the Chapter's Battle Companies, who thanks to their early years as a fleet-based Chapter maintain enough ships to form a potent and swift vanguard. With enough forewarning, the Star Shields establish themselves on the threatened world, preparing potent defenses that allow a force as small as 100 Space Marines to hold contested hot zones for months at a time. If denied this oppportunity, all Star Shields train extensively in battlefield tactics designed to break the back of invading forces and dig out entrenched enemy forces; ship-to-ship boarding actions, trench warfare, and sapping missions that cut off the enemy's supply and support, taking the enemy apart step-by-step.
The Star Shields have adopted aspects of both their Salamander progenitor's Promethean Cult and Ursalis ancient traditions, including their concepts of honor, loyalty, resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and self-sacrifice. However, the core of their Chapter Cult focuses on embracing cold logic. Chaplains do not whip their brothers into a zealous frenzy, but instead preach a mantra of discipline, efficiency and focus. Star Shields meditate under auto-hypnotic projectors, filling their minds with vast amounts of combat knowledge gleaned from the Imperium’s finest warriors. They regularly practice forms of self-denial, from fasting to flagellation, often while attempting intricate tasks such as maintaining their wargear and training, giving them the ability to concentrate on a task through the whirlwind of combat or the pain of injury. Battle strategies are constantly designed, practice, studied and refined, so that each Star Shield is a warrior-sage with a plan for almost any contingency. Through this the Chapter believes that they can become truly selfless servants of the Imperium.
Another facet of the Chapter Cult is their belief that the Emperor watches over their missing brethren. Because they exist on the edge of the Astronomican, it is not unheard of for brothers, squads, or in some rare cases entire strike forces or Companies to become lost in the Warp. When members of the Star Shields fail to return home, the Chaplains mark their names on the Memorial Arch of the Reclusiam, and refer to these Lost Ones as “walking the mists,” an Ursalis belief that those who vanish into the planet's fog are taken to a realm between life and death. The Star Shields hold that when the Emperor decrees it, the Lost will return to fight again in the Chapter's darkest hour.
The Star Shields’ gene-seed originates with the Salamanders Chapter, and while stable carries the dulled reflexes common to their progenitors. Perhaps as a result of the harsh conditions of Ursalis, the Star Shield gene-seed has further mutated: as they age battle-brothers develop new muscle layers that grant enhanced strength and leverage, but their reflexes slow to almost human norm levels. Veteran Star Shields are capable of incredible feats of strength, but their movements are deliberate and cautious to ensure their momentum and weight can’t be used against them. This combined with their preference to study and plan before acting makes the Star Shields appear hesitant to perform any action: they are literally weighing the consequences of every step they take. This also makes them terse and laconic, only speaking when they have chosen the right words and only saying what needs to be said.
Famous Battles of the Star Shields
The following are some of the noteworthy battles fought by the Star Shields in its history.
684.M37 - Cogris Vanishes.
The newly formed Star Shields Chapter arrives in the Bulwark Stars region. One of its first acts is to aid in the evacuation of Cogris, as the small forge-world is about to be consumed by a warp storm. Despite the danger, millions of workers hold to the Machine God's doctrines and continue to toil 'til the very last minute, resulting in their being cut off from the evacuation zones when flickering tendrils of the storm release Warp horrors onto the planet's surface. Despite a valiant defense of the planetary star ports, the Chapter is forced to withdraw, abandoning millions of to the mercy of Chaos.
897.M37 - The Purging of Ursalis.
The battle-barge Wings of Daedalus braves the asteroid fields of the Ursalis system rediscover human elements on the planet. The otherwise primitive tribes wield technology traced back to the Dark Age of Technology, but are losing a prolongued war with mutant armies. The Chapter decides to intervene, and the entirety of 1st Veteran Company is released to purge the mutants, pursing them into their subterranean levels over a year of cleansing. During their war they discover clues of Ursalis' history, and uncover technology the Adeptus Mechanicus would dearly love to possess. After concluding their purge, the veterans return to the surface, earning the eternal gratitude of the human populace. After samples of the planet's technology are delivered to the Machine Cult, the Star Shields decide to settle their wandering fleet over Ursalis and construct Chapterhouse, their fortress monastery. The Chapter oversees several expeditions into the planet's depths and for their discovery are given the honor of wielding the rediscovered technology in their armories. The Star Shields make the Ursalans their exclusive source of recruits.
781.M41 - Cogris Returns.
After two millennium Cogris emerges from the Warp. Forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus and elements of the Mordian Iron Guard and Space Wovles join the Star Shields in investigating the world, only for the expedition to come under attack by Chaos-tainted servitor armies. The Iron Warrior Traitor Legion is discovered to be in control of the world, ready to release its daemon-tainted Titans into the Bulwark Stars. Star Shields Chapter Master Moruthe Cole is slain during the war, leaving Captain Helm Shieldbane in command, who leads a retributive march deep into the planet's core to slay a cyber-daemon prince that leads the traitors. The Iron Warriors prepare to evacuate the Chaos Titans into the Warp, so Helm gives the controversial order to detonate the Titan's ammunition stockpiles, causing massive tectonic instabilities that rip Cogris and its Titans apart. Despite the loss of the world, it is considered a great victory and Helm is eventually named Chapter Master of the Star Shields.
993.M41 - The Great Devourer
Fleeing Warhawk Orks give the Star Shields warning of the approaching tendrils of Hive Fleet Kraken. The power of the Tyranids sees three Bulwark Stars consumed, and the Star Shields fight their hardest battle yet in the crowded streets of Nexas. During the battle, reinforcements including members of the Ultramarines join the fray, and the influx of Tyranid-fighting experience gives the Star Shields the ability to defeat the hive fleet tendrils.
Playing a Star Shields Army
Star Shields field plenty of Devastators, Dreadnoughts, Tanks, and Techmarines. They are a ranged force, best suited to holding fortified positions and obliterating incoming foes with concentrated barrages of weapons' fire. Heavy bolters are their favorite weapon, making them lethal foes against lightly-armored opponents like Eldar, Ork, and Tyranids hordes, but as you can imagine they can field almonst any kind of heavy firepower.
If you'd like to see my homebrew rules for the Star Shields, check out Codex: Star Shields. I feel they're a good counterpoint for Space Marine players who want to see more dakka and less choppa in their Chapters, so to speak.
Edited by SnakeoilSage, 22 September 2011 - 03:09 AM.