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The Black Chapter

BLACK COMPANY SPOILERS Drafting IA Octavulg Octaguide

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#51
Octavulg

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That's pretty sweet. Though I still may do a profiled skull breathing fire. Not least because that way you can actually tell the skull's breathing fire. :pinch:

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#52
Octavulg

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Some people would say that a six month gap between posts was me forgetting about my project or getting busy. NOTHING WOULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

You see, lengthy gaps are frequent occurences in creating an IA. And so I intentionally created one, to demonstrate how helpful it can be, and how it's certainly not an obstacle to making an IA.

The fact that this lined up with my busiest summer and term of university in years is a complete coincidence.

In any case, let's look at what I had and see what I still like:

OK, I'd really like to figure out a name for them at some point. I think it'd help. It'd certainly be easier to write about!


Good point. Marines Tenebric is the name I remembered, so I think it’ll probably be the name I go with for now.

I'll try and write up one of the sections this weekend. Posted Image


HA!

Chapter Name
-Still no idea. Storm Crows still has a certain appeal. Marines Atramentar would be fun but people'll think I'm referencing the Night Lords/ripping off the Night Lords. Marines Tenebric is probably my favorite right now. Other suggestions welcome.
-I had been thinking about one of those 'could be a warband but is apparently a loyalist chapter/could be a loyalist chapter but is apparently a warband' names (like the Extinciton Angels or the Flesh Tearers).
-Should also probably reference blackness or darkness. So blackness/darkness + double-edged + not stupid.


I can eliminate this to some extent, though the last sentence should probably stay – improvement is always possible, and I wouldn’t say no to a really good name.

Origins
In those days the Chapter was in service to the Lords of Fomalhaut, against the Syndork of Mallinkor... - The Annals of the [Chapter Name], ca 210.M34


This quote makes more sense down in Later History. Origins should, of course, be the Glen Cook quote Lysimacus pointed out.

I should mention their obsession with their history here in more detail than I do.

Later History
-Explain the introduction of mercenariness into the chapter's history. Not that I'm sure how to do that yet, exactly. Perhaps chapter always semi-subordinated themselves to local authorities, since their tactics work well in context with other forces.


Of course, going with “for as long as can be remembered” is a deliciously easy cop-out that solves this problem.

-A long list of random anecdotes that demonstrate various things but lack a common thread. Indeed, it might be good to have most sections be based on an anecdote of some kind.


This idea is a little tricky to work, but I think it’d be thematically neat.

-Need to decide if companies strictly ad-hoc and temporary constructs or if they're long-standing institutions with histories of their own (if not, they don't need annalists or standards of their own). At the moment, I'm thinking something like this: the reserve companies are not yet entirely full brothers (though most have names and such). They (and the veteran company) tend to follow the Chapter Master around and work under his immediate command. The Battle Companies are more independent, and tend to vary a bit in size and composition (not too much, since the Black Chapter find the Codex to be fairly sensible). They're theoretically formal entities, but there's practically a fair amount of fluidity. Individual marines move between squads and companies to some extent, motivated mostly by popularity and success of particular commanders.


Another possibility is to have the companies work around the Captains. Each Captain leads a company. When he dies, a new Captain is promoted, who forms his own company, whose composition may or may not have anything to do with that of the old Captain’s company. Under this arrangement, there’d only be one annalist, and he’d just ask members of various companies what happened. Of course, the annals aren’t necessarily just books – they could be video-recordings, etc (though they’re read from for ceremonial purposes).

And, of course, the level of Codex adherence could vary from commander to commander.

I really do need to figure out why the annals aren’t backed up. We still lose information all the time in the modern era, of course, but we tend to still manage to hang onto stuff we explicitly consider important.


-Might use Night Lords geneseed. Prophetic dreams figure largely in the Black Company.
-Alpha Legion another option - certainly fits with the tactics, and may make explaining the transition a little easier.


This is a tough choice. I already have a prophetic dream chapter, and this does sound like the sort of thing the Alpha Legion would do (and I find the idea of them becoming real loyalists because the high-level Legionaries were killed hilarious). On the other hand, the dark and bloody history of the Night Lords is a much better Sword of Damocles.

The symbol they used while in service to Soulcatcher (well, my version of it) will be used as the chapter symbol - a skull, in profile, breathing fire.


I’m probably going to need to have someone else do this. Posted Image

The (complicated) banner will also make an appearance. Nine hanged men, a skull, a raven (or crow, can't remember) on a dead head, and six swords.


I’m DEFINITELY going to need to have someone else do this. I should draw up some sample compositions, though.

-An annalist dedicated to fitting together all the various missing and contradictory pieces of their history


Not sure why I wanted this – all the annalists would be that. It’d be an occupational hazard.

Anyway. Sometime on Sunday I’ll write up another outline (and maybe a section or some quotes this time).

Edited by Octavulg, 18 January 2013 - 05:53 AM.

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

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#53
Wulfebane

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For battlecries, I don't have anything concrete, but I have some thug of a drill sergeant with a cigar clamped in his teeth shouting, "We're not gettin' paid to sit pretty. Get off your asses and earn your dinner!" stuck in my head.. As it is, I don't know how much of that imagery applies to a space marine, what with food rations, etc, but I felt like contributing.

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#54
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Hahahaha, now I need to see a marine say that in fluff.

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#55
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I think you've got a cool and solid hook for a Chapter. It sounds like your source material lends itself to the setting in a highly workable manner. So, my valuable/worthless take on this for you:

"Syndork of Mallinkor" I know, by definition, all of this stuff is made up, but this sounds especially made up, in that it doesn't appear to have any reasoning or root in the words that make it up. Plus the rhyming effect of "dork" and "kor" makes it somewhat awkward and almost silly. But that's just a personal reaction to it.

Traitor gene seed. Ick. This one always bothers me because it's ridiculously difficult to come up with a logical explanation for why they'd use it. The 13th Founding! defense doesn't really fly. There still has to be a reason for it, beyond "Because". Why is the AdMech going to expend a ridiculous amount of assets on creating a new chapter using traitor gene seed? Imagine the kinds of effort and expenditure it takes to fully equip and train a chapter, plus all its thousands of serfs. This isn't going to be done lightly. Experimenting with modifications to the loyalist gene seed is one thing. At least you're modifying a proven quantity. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the "traitor gene seed" requires a bit more thought if you want to create a believable back story. At the same time, the "We don't know, maybe it was traitor gene seed" seems pretty weak, narratively. It's like taking a Get out of Jail Free card on having to come up with a believable story.

As far as the "Alpha Legion tactics", those are really just "tactics", so you don't really need to have a genetic link to them. Geneseed doesn't really work that way. Nature, vs nurture, so to speak. The Alpha Legion became the way they are, using infiltration and guerrilla warfare, and hit and run and such because they had to. They entered into a 10,000 year long insurgency against a vastly superior enemy. Any other kind of fighting and they'd have been wiped out a long time ago. Nothing about their gene seed made them like that. A chapter founded using Alpha Legion gene seed is going to adapt tactics based on how they are trained, and then how their combat history dictates. Alpharius didn't train your chapter, so they aren't going to adopt his methodology and philosophy on warfare. The Aurora Chapter, for example, prefers armored warfare, even though there's no proclivity towards that from the Ultramarines. The Mantis Warriors are White Scars successors, but they have no particular ties to bikes, speeders and sweet mustaches. If your Marines are underhanded and prefer hit and run because they don't have the assets to fight straight up a lot of the time, then that's simply them adapting their tactics to their unique situation. Realistically, that's Codex Astartes right there, so your initial inclination towards the Ultramarines is probably a fine choice.

If you decide the Chapter still isn't "entirely sure", that's cool. But having a "reality" that you know when you're writing the background will give you more coherency in the narrative because while the Chapter might not know, and even the readers might not know, you know as the author. A good example is all the ridiculously conflicting fluff from the Horus Heresy series of novels about the II and XI Legions. Why does a lot of the stuff about them conflict? Because there's actually no fluff about the II and XI. Which means all the authors just make up stuff they think is cool at the time so long as they don't mention any specifics. The problem is, all of their references and mentions don't fit together because they aren't working from a set framework.

You can explain the chapter's "mercenary" type attributes pretty easily with their status as a fleet-based entity. Maybe they just roam around the galaxy looking for fights, and due to their "unlucky" nature, they find them (or get found by them). Space Marines are by nature somewhat "mercenary" already. They have a limited ability to pick their own battles. A fleet based chapter has even more ease of doing this because they aren't tied to a specific home world. Where as a planetary based chapter will typically operate in their own sub-sector/sector/segmentum, a fleet based Chapter can move from place to place. If a particular sector's Inquisitor is being aanoying, "Oops, sorry, we're in Segmentum Tempestus now with no forwarding address." While Space Marines are typically pretty fiercely independent, it's not breaking any rules if yours is often inclined to join into various causes and wars. Just consider what it is about the chapter's "personality" that leads them to do so. And also consider what kind of payment a Marine Chapter would need. They have an advantage over traditional mercenaries as they can make a lot of demands that planets will probably be inclined to accept, especially in wartime. Look at the way the Dark Angels and Angels of Absolution blackmailed Inquisitor Rex in the Siege of Vraks. While I thought it was kinda silly and counter-intuitive that the Alpha Legion foolishly stuck around and fought to the death while the Nurgle and Khorne warbands wandered off in the midst of the fighting, it's a good example of Space Marine behavior even if it's not a good example of Chaos follower behavior, heh. Your chapter's greatest "extraordinary" need would be recruits. Chapters asking for fuel and supplies would be kinda normal. Demanding the right to requisition a sizable number of the planet's children might be a bit more concerning to some systems. In this way, they aren't "mercenaries" in the traditional sense, but they retain that "mercenary like" theme to them that ties them to your source material. After all, that's really what 40K is. A giant collection of pop-culture references. You just take your inspiration, The Black Company in this case, and 40Kify them. Just be careful and not go all Modern Iteration Space Wolves on them and "Yo dawg, I heard you liked wolves and vikings so we put a viking wolf on your wolf so you could wolf while vikinging." Source material is best used as inspiration, and not allowed to dictate how your place them in the 40K universe.

Colors: I like the black and gray. However, I wouldn't call it practical. Black shapes may be sneaky at night, but they stick out like a sore thumb during the day against anything but a really dark background. Black is one of the few colors that is extremely rare in nature, and why most modern camo schemes have moved away from having black in the patterns. That said, Space Marines aren't about what's practical for sneaking about, so it's irrelevant. I just noticed someone suggest the black/gray as being "realistic". The Raptors having a dull green is probably the most "realistic", but only for Earth. In a galaxy full of different environments, the only "realistic" scheme would be a new one painted in every warzone. Stick with the halved black and gray because it's pretty cool looking and fits your theme. It might be better than Day Glow Orange or Bright Yellow, but it's not going to be significantly more effective than being blood red or dark blue when we're talking about seven and a half foot tall walking tanks who weigh well over 1000 pounds fully armed and armored.

Makes sense. I've always preferred to downplay the brainwashing angle (the fact that chapters keep turning out traitors suggests it's not that effective).

This I think is a question of perception. As readers and players, it can seem like Chapters keep turning traitor relatively frequently because Chaos is a major antagonist in the setting, and thus gets written about in fluff and novels quite often. On the other hand, when you consider just how few total renegade/corrupted Chapters there are against a timeline of 10,000 years and well over 1000 Chapters (remember it's ~1000 now, plus all the ones that have been destroyed/lost in the past), we're talking a tiny percentage. Compared to how "relatively" easy it is to corrupt normal humans matched against just how often Space Marines come in contact with corrupting influences, the conditioning seems to work ridiculously well. If anything, the codified methodolgy for the Post-Legion training and indoctrination of Space Marines is nearly fool proof. It's just not Chaos Proof, because, well, nothing is.

Marneus Calgar is referred to as "one of the Imperium's greatest tacticians" and he treats the Codex like it's the War Bible. If the Codex is garbage, then how bad is everyone else?

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#56
Octavulg

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Wulfebane

For battlecries, I don't have anything concrete, but I have some thug of a drill sergeant with a cigar clamped in his teeth shouting, "We're not gettin' paid to sit pretty. Get off your asses and earn your dinner!" stuck in my head.. As it is, I don't know how much of that imagery applies to a space marine, what with food rations, etc, but I felt like contributing.


A bit TOO informal, I think. They're still Space Marines.

I'll probably use the concept, but it'll have to be SpaceMarineified.

Veteran Sergeant

"Syndork of Mallinkor" I know, by definition, all of this stuff is made up, but this sounds especially made up, in that it doesn't appear to have any reasoning or root in the words that make it up. Plus the rhyming effect of "dork" and "kor" makes it somewhat awkward and almost silly. But that's just a personal reaction to it.


Syndic is a title for the head of a syndicate. The Company starts out their service (in the novels) working for the Syndic of Beryl. Thus, the Orkish equivalent is...

Mallinkor...I grabbed it from another set of novels as a random name I like. I definitely take your point about the rhyming, though.

Traitor gene seed. Ick. This one always bothers me because it's ridiculously difficult to come up with a logical explanation for why they'd use it. The 13th Founding! defense doesn't really fly. There still has to be a reason for it, beyond "Because". Why is the AdMech going to expend a ridiculous amount of assets on creating a new chapter using traitor gene seed? Imagine the kinds of effort and expenditure it takes to fully equip and train a chapter, plus all its thousands of serfs. This isn't going to be done lightly. Experimenting with modifications to the loyalist gene seed is one thing. At least you're modifying a proven quantity. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the "traitor gene seed" requires a bit more thought if you want to create a believable back story. At the same time, the "We don't know, maybe it was traitor gene seed" seems pretty weak, narratively. It's like taking a Get out of Jail Free card on having to come up with a believable story.


Ah, I think you misunderstand a bit (which is fine, since the bits where I explain it are generally spoilertexted). If they had Traitor geneseed, they'd actually be Traitors who forgot they were Traitors. Alpha Legion cell on a long-term deep cover mission as a Space Marine Chapter loses enough officers they forget they're Alpha Legion sort of thing. If they've always been Loyalists, they'd have a nice standardish geneseed (though they'd have a dark period in their history as well). I'm almost certainly going with the former over the latter.

As far as the "Alpha Legion tactics", those are really just "tactics", so you don't really need to have a genetic link to them. Geneseed doesn't really work that way. Nature, vs nurture, so to speak. The Alpha Legion became the way they are, using infiltration and guerrilla warfare, and hit and run and such because they had to. They entered into a 10,000 year long insurgency against a vastly superior enemy. Any other kind of fighting and they'd have been wiped out a long time ago. Nothing about their gene seed made them like that. A chapter founded using Alpha Legion gene seed is going to adapt tactics based on how they are trained, and then how their combat history dictates. Alpharius didn't train your chapter, so they aren't going to adopt his methodology and philosophy on warfare. The Aurora Chapter, for example, prefers armored warfare, even though there's no proclivity towards that from the Ultramarines. The Mantis Warriors are White Scars successors, but they have no particular ties to bikes, speeders and sweet mustaches. If your Marines are underhanded and prefer hit and run because they don't have the assets to fight straight up a lot of the time, then that's simply them adapting their tactics to their unique situation. Realistically, that's Codex Astartes right there, so your initial inclination towards the Ultramarines is probably a fine choice.


Alpha Legion tactics would suggest Alpha Legion geneseed in this case becase they were once Alpha Legion (ditto some other Traitor geneseed and the associated tactics of its original Legion). The tactics suggest the geneseed only in the "they used to be traitors" scenario. Which is the one I'm likely going with, mind. And they do it in the logical "the Alpha Legion are a big source of Alpha Legion geneseed" sense, not "they have the geneseed, thus they must use the tactics".

I'd point out that I'm also pondering the Night Lords.

If you decide the Chapter still isn't "entirely sure", that's cool. But having a "reality" that you know when you're writing the background will give you more coherency in the narrative because while the Chapter might not know, and even the readers might not know, you know as the author. A good example is all the ridiculously conflicting fluff from the Horus Heresy series of novels about the II and XI Legions. Why does a lot of the stuff about them conflict? Because there's actually no fluff about the II and XI. Which means all the authors just make up stuff they think is cool at the time so long as they don't mention any specifics. The problem is, all of their references and mentions don't fit together because they aren't working from a set framework.


I know. I just haven't picked what the reality is yet.

You just take your inspiration, The Black Company in this case, and 40Kify them. Just be careful and not go all Modern Iteration Space Wolves on them and "Yo dawg, I heard you liked wolves and vikings so we put a viking wolf on your wolf so you could wolf while vikinging." Source material is best used as inspiration, and not allowed to dictate how your place them in the 40K universe.


So, would you say that: "References, allusions and influences should be subtle. GW IA's are often a good example of how not to do this. Lion'El Jonson, 'Nevermore', the background of the Romans Ultramarines, Vikings Space Wolves, Vampires Blood Angels, and Teutonic Knights Black Templars...all are about as subtle as bricks to the head. This isn't necessarily bad, but as a general rule you are better to underplay your references and influences than to over-emphasize them. This goes double for references - 'Nevermore' almost ruins the Raven Guard IA by itself. Use a light touch."? Posted Image

This I think is a question of perception. As readers and players, it can seem like Chapters keep turning traitor relatively frequently because Chaos is a major antagonist in the setting, and thus gets written about in fluff and novels quite often. On the other hand, when you consider just how few total renegade/corrupted Chapters there are against a timeline of 10,000 years and well over 1000 Chapters (remember it's ~1000 now, plus all the ones that have been destroyed/lost in the past), we're talking a tiny percentage. Compared to how "relatively" easy it is to corrupt normal humans matched against just how often Space Marines come in contact with corrupting influences, the conditioning seems to work ridiculously well. If anything, the codified methodolgy for the Post-Legion training and indoctrination of Space Marines is nearly fool proof. It's just not Chaos Proof, because, well, nothing is.


Indeed. I'm just not sure it can extend to the "Marines are powerless before their mental conditioning" level that some sources apparently portray it as.

Edited by Octavulg, 19 January 2013 - 08:44 PM.

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

The Octaguide - Your very long guide to very long IAs

Help me update the Big Liber Timeline!

"Wake up. Pray. Train. Pray. Drop screaming through the atmosphere from low orbit into a raging battlefield, and take the fight to enemies that may outnumber us by as little as three to one. Do battle with the most horrific enemies of mankind imaginable and charge into lines of weapons that could shred a tank into ribbons. Afterward, lunch, time permitting." - Marshal Arturas, 15/05/08


#57
Veteran Sergeant

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As far as the dazed and confused Alpha Legionnaires, the idea that the Alpha Legion is made up of Mission Impossible Marines who infiltrate everything and act as double agents is amongst the absolute worst fluff inventions that have stemmed from the Horus Heresy novel series. Trying to make a believable story where Alpha Legionnaires get so mired in their own cover that they forget who they are is going to be impossible. It sounds like the plot of a bad cartoon show. In fact, I've joked a few times about how the Alpha Legion will end up turning traitor for that exact reason. Alpharius gets so wrapped up in his own overlapping plots that he gets confused when Omegon infiltrates the Alpha Legion believing he's a Word Bearer's spy. But that's poking fun at the silliness of the way the Alpha Legion has been handled by the BlackLibrary. I'd hope nobody actually considered that a possible result. ;)

Marneus Calgar is referred to as "one of the Imperium's greatest tacticians" and he treats the Codex like it's the War Bible. If the Codex is garbage, then how bad is everyone else?

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#58
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My updated outline. I'll try writing a section or two tomorrow. Or a sidebar. Or SOMETHING.

NOTE: This post will contain spoilers for the Black Company series of novels (as will the rest of this thread). Duh. The spoilered bit in this post is the most spoilery, but it's all at least a little spoilery.



[Intro paragraph]

Origins
"Where do we come from? Emperor knows. But we’re old. Damn old…" - ???
-Founding details unknown. Earliest records date from 33rd and 34th millenia, with the chapter appearing in wars across the Imperium in support of various local forces and, on occasion, in major campaigns.
-Chapter also unaware of their early history. Indeed, have cooperated with Inquisitors and other Imperial authorities several times on the subject. Not only way in which relationship with Imperial authority unusual
-Actual founding details may sneak in as hints, but not explicitly.
-Should introduce the concept of the annals, and probably the chapter's mercenary nature.
-Talk about their concern about history here
Spoiler


Later History
In those days the Chapter was in service to the Lords of Fomalhaut, against the Syndork of ???... - The Annals of the Marines Tenebric, ca 210.M34
-Explain the introduction of mercenariness into the chapter's history. Perhaps chapter always semi-subordinated themselves to local authorities, since their tactics work well in context with other forces (and, likely, with their larger mission). As Veteran Sergeant suggested, it's a pretty natural outgrowth of being fleet-based, as well. Especially if a governor or two refuses to fork over supplies the Chapter can't take by force. Alternatively, just say "for as long as can be remembered". Because that's the sort of game that's being played.
-Large gaps, assembled piecemeal from a bunch of different sources. Hints, half-truths, all kinds of fun stuff. Sometimes they're up, sometimes they're down. Sometimes they're in, sometimes they're out. Etc.
-Possibly best presented as a long list of random anecdotes that demonstrate various things but lack a common thread. Indeed, it might be good to have most sections be based on an anecdote of some kind.

Home World
-None. Fleet is old, battered, and short on supplies and forge equipment. May have possessed a forge ship at one point (or at several points), but not now.
-Discussion of their relationship with employers might fit well here. Basically, the chapter shows up and offers their services. Since they have a reputation for being harbingers of conflict, this is almost always accepted. They then begin recruitment (if permitted), training of local forces, and improvement of local defenses. In some cases, local government is uncomfortable with this, in which case the chapter tends to function more conventionally and independently. In particularly rare cases, the government will insist on more complete control, which the chapter usually accepts unless they think it's going to cost them their lives or their supplies. Chapter fights in eventual war, and will eventually move on. Individual companies may hire themselves out separately to areas near where the main body is serving.
-Generally avoid notable areas
-Some areas have horrific legends about a warband with a similar name or livery.

Beliefs
-Close relationship with their history - ceremonial readings from the annals very, very common
-Explain why they don't make duplicate copies
-Company as family - alternate names for brothers. Outsiders tolerated, but not trusted.
-Emperor is not a god. Relatively less zealous than other chapters.

Combat Doctrine
-Preference for underhanded tactics and using preparation and misdirection to minimize casualties (though they are still very capable at head-to-head engagement).
-Discussion of limited resources and their effects
-Diversity of languages and such in use, often as battle codes

Organisation
-Generally codex
-Company and chapter annalists important and influential positions. Company annals fill the role of standards in other chapters.
-Relatively few Chaplains and Librarians. Often overlap between annalists and specialized positions.
-Need to decide if companies strictly ad-hoc and temporary constructs or if they're long-standing institutions with histories of their own (if not, they don't need annalists or standards of their own). At the moment, I'm thinking something like this: the reserve companies are not yet entirely full brothers (though most have names and such). They (and the veteran company) tend to follow the Chapter Master around and work under his immediate command. The Battle Companies are more independent, and tend to vary a bit in size and composition (not too much, since the Black Chapter find the Codex to be fairly sensible). They're theoretically formal entities, but there's practically a fair amount of fluidity. Individual marines move between squads and companies to some extent, motivated mostly by popularity and success of particular commanders. Reserve Captains tend to be less important, since they have fewer men.
-An alternative is to have the companies work around the Captains. Each Captain leads a company. When he dies, a new Captain is promoted, who forms his own company, whose composition and history may or may not have anything to do with that of the old Captain’s company. Under this arrangement, there’d only be one annalist, and he’d just ask members of various companies what happened. Of course, the annals aren’t necessarily just books – they could be video-recordings, etc (though they’re read from for ceremonial purposes). nd, of course, the level of Codex adherence could vary from commander to commander.
-Discussion of effects limited resources has had on organization - chapter is understrength (averaging about half strength, though sometimes more and occasionally less).
-Some of this stuff may need to go elsewhere

Gene-seed
-Lots of discussion and speculation about their origin. Perhaps the chapter even keeps pushing the Mechanicus to do a thorough investigation.
-The chapter is usually viewed as ill-omened, unlucky, dangerous or some combination of the three. Thus, recruits are relatively uncommon (and usually unfortunate).
-Might use Night Lords geneseed. Prophetic dreams figure largely in the Black Company. Then again, I've done that before. And so has A D-B. But it does hang over the head a little better than AL geneseed (and is also a little less obvious, AND a little easier to hint toward).
-Alpha Legion another option - certainly fits with the tactics, and may make explaining the transition a little easier.
-Either way, it's obviously not disclosed.

Battle-cry
Something terrifying, yet professional, and with overtones of evil or a double meaning if at all possible.
Current #1 suggestion in a field of one is "Wrack and ruin!" by Leonaides

Color Scheme
The colour scheme, at least for the moment:
Posted Image

And in a code box, just because the board's edit feature has become...unhelpful.
[img]http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/uploads/1342357860/gallery_14654_2578_44401.jpg[/img]

The symbol they used while in service to Soulcatcher (well, my version of it) will be used as the chapter symbol - a skull, in profile, breathing fire. People interested in drawing it for me are welcome to offer.

The (complicated) banner will also make an appearance. Nine hanged men, a skull, a raven (or crow, can't remember) on a dead head, and six swords. People interested in drawing it for me are clearly insane (but welcome to offer).

Sidebars
-One on the chapter standard and its design.
Spoiler

-Perhaps one on a notable campaign (the one where they lost their most of their original history?)
-Annals excerpts

Chapter Name
A note: I like the Marines Tenebric, but will take suggestions that meet the following three criteria: references blackness/darkness + double-edged + not stupid.

Ideas for Later Use
Spoilered for readability, not for being spoilery.
Spoiler


Things to Do
Figure out why, exactly, they don't back up the annals. They're so practical, yet so not. And when backing stuff up doesn't involve hand transcription, it's even weirder.

A Reminder to Me
The aspects of the Black Company I like and am going to try to reflect, in no particular order (what I want):
-The Annals (the records kept by their company archivist)
-The importance of their standard (the relic that remains from the founding of the chapter)
-Their relationship to their lost history (both how they strive to discover it and what that history turns out to be)
-The names given to brothers (brothers have nicknames reflecting their personalities or features)
-Their mercenary nature (they're loyal, but they're loyal to the people paying them. And if you betray them, they get very unpleasant)
-Their underhanded tactics (they're good at being insurgents, they're good at being counterinsurgents, and they're just generally devious)

Edited by Octavulg, 21 January 2013 - 12:31 AM.

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

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Help me update the Big Liber Timeline!

"Wake up. Pray. Train. Pray. Drop screaming through the atmosphere from low orbit into a raging battlefield, and take the fight to enemies that may outnumber us by as little as three to one. Do battle with the most horrific enemies of mankind imaginable and charge into lines of weapons that could shred a tank into ribbons. Afterward, lunch, time permitting." - Marshal Arturas, 15/05/08


#59
Octavulg

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Ah! Missed this in all the replying to myself!

Veteran Sergeant

As far as the dazed and confused Alpha Legionnaires, the idea that the Alpha Legion is made up of Mission Impossible Marines who infiltrate everything and act as double agents is amongst the absolute worst fluff inventions that have stemmed from the Horus Heresy novel series. Trying to make a believable story where Alpha Legionnaires get so mired in their own cover that they forget who they are is going to be impossible. It sounds like the plot of a bad cartoon show. In fact, I've joked a few times about how the Alpha Legion will end up turning traitor for that exact reason. Alpharius gets so wrapped up in his own overlapping plots that he gets confused when Omegon infiltrates the Alpha Legion believing he's a Word Bearer's spy. But that's poking fun at the silliness of the way the Alpha Legion has been handled by the BlackLibrary. I'd hope nobody actually considered that a possible result. ;)


In my defense, that aspect would be the same no matter the geneseed source. The Black Company's tactics just resemble the Alpha Legion's more than those of the Night Lords (in that they're more sneaky than slaughtery).

Basically, you have a warband (of no determined geneseed). They serve a god of treacherous slaughter. They act as mercenaries to get close to people, then slaughter them. Of course, sometimes they just kill people straight up, then turn on their employer. Other times they just honor their contracts. The unpredictability of the treachery is what makes it holy (Chaos is so delightfully capricious). They assume the trappings of a loyalist chapter because it makes some aspects of life easier (and makes the betrayal sweeter).

In any case, like any religious cult, they have varying degrees of initiation. Lower level initiates don't even know there IS a cult (and they're the majority of the warband). They think they're a loyalist chapter, and believe the reasons given to them for the betrayals (it's not like it's hard to come up with a reason to exterminate someone in the 40K universe). Hell, maybe they have them worship the Emperor in an aspect similar to their Chaos god, secretly sacrificing some. They have one Marine who keeps the true history of the chapter, and they keep only the one copy (perhaps recording their history on monoliths once per century in some kind of secret language).

In any case, at some point, disaster strikes - the warband is betrayed. The governor they planned to murder turns out (ironically enough) to be a tool of Chaos, with significant enough forces that the chapter is nearly wiped out. No more than a company or two survives, and the senior officers were specifically targeted for elimination. The Scout Captain (the only captain who isn't initiated into the mysteries) becomes Chapter Master, and they fight their way out. Or a Sergeant does. Probably a Sergeant, since that encourages a tradition of picking their own leaders.

In any case, everyone who knows anything is dead. And so the trappings become the reality.

It's not the most plausible story in the world. But Chaotic cults are weird enough that I don't think it's impossible. In any case, the geneseed could really be from any source. Traitor's just somewhat less complicated.

Night Lords and Alpha Legion make sense because their tactics fit well with the Black Company (and so, logically, do the tactics of their splinter groups). World Eaters could work (the god might be an aspect of Khorne, or they could just have splintered before everyone became all berzerkery). Black Legion is personally unattractive to me, but not unsuited. Word Bearers are certainly possible (and weird enough).

Edited by Octavulg, 21 January 2013 - 01:29 AM.

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

The Octaguide - Your very long guide to very long IAs

Help me update the Big Liber Timeline!

"Wake up. Pray. Train. Pray. Drop screaming through the atmosphere from low orbit into a raging battlefield, and take the fight to enemies that may outnumber us by as little as three to one. Do battle with the most horrific enemies of mankind imaginable and charge into lines of weapons that could shred a tank into ribbons. Afterward, lunch, time permitting." - Marshal Arturas, 15/05/08


#60
Octavulg

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First section at least somewhat written, other sections a bit more fleshed out. I'm reposting a lot, but it's mostly so people can see the process (which is, to a large extent, why I'm doing this).

NOTE: This post will contain spoilers for the Black Company series of novels (as will the rest of this thread). Duh. The spoilered bit in this post is the most spoilery, but it's all at least a little spoilery.


[Intro paragraph]

Origins
Where do we come from? Emperor knows. But we’re old. Damn old… - First line, first chapter, the Book of the First , the Annals of the Marines Tenebric

In the earliest record of the Marines Tenebric in Imperial history, they annihilate the population of two continents on the world of Mallinkor in exchange for the governor granting them the right to recruit from the planet for a year and a hundred thousand bolter rounds.

A monument on Dorothea III tells how a company of the Marines Tenebric lured Dark Eldar raiders into an ambush by concentrating the population of the planet's rift valleys into a single city.

The chapter's own Annals record a forty year campaign on Credence, where two companies waged guerilla warfare against the planet's hive cities from the radium deserts.

There are a thousand and more stories like those in the history of the Imperium. There are a hundred thousand more in the Annals of the Marines Tenebric. Yet the chapter is certain that this is only a fraction of a still more lengthy history.

The Marines Tenebric define themselves by their Annals, a lengthy history kept in a single massive set of volumes. Even in its earliest volumes, the chapter exchanges its strength of arms and tactical skill for the supplies required to serve the Emperor and protect the Imperium.
-Random anecdotes, mercenary history, Annals, lost history. I'm rather impressed with myself. Moreso than usual, that is. Making a coherent whole really wasn't working. Random anecdotes actually worked really well.
Spoiler

The Banner of the Marines Tenebric
-"A field of scarlet with nine hanged men in black and six yellow daggers in the upper left and lower right quadrants, respectively, while the upper right quandrant featured a shattered skull and the lower left boasted a bird astride a severed head. It might have been a raven. Or an eagle."
-I'm going to try and get it done as an actual illustration. Red planet, red sky, hanged men on a hill in the left, six daggers plunged into something in the bottom right, and the bird on the skull in the lower left. Not sure how to do the skull.

Beliefs
-Later History became unnecessary, so now we just move straight into Beliefs. Beliefs moved up because so many of their quirks rely on it.
In those days the Chapter was in service to the Lords of Fomalhaut, against the Syndork of Heliodor - The Book of Red Hands, the Annals of the Marines Tenebric, ca 210.M34
-Heliodor is green beryl. The Syndic of Beryl is the Black Company's first employer. I'm hilarious.

At the core of the Marines Tenebric lies their Annals.
-One annalist, who keeps one copy of the annals. Many books (hundreds, even thousands). Will record his own perspective, and that of others, so the Annalist deploys with the largest group of Marines.
-No additional copies are made - longstanding tradition, and also a product of the way there's rarely time.
-Annalist will read publicly, often before major engagements. Otherwise, annals rarely seen (beyond Annalist and Annalist's apprentice, when he has one).
-Annalist will carry several volumes at any one time, including the current one. Thus, volumes are occasionally lost when Annalists are killed. Sometimes such volumes can be reconstructed, sometimes they can't. (this feels a little too extreme for me, actually. I think I may emphasize the impracticality of having the Annalist record everything that happens AND make copies. They still try to do so, it's just rarely possible)
-Annalist is a very prestigious post - no command authority, but word carries a lot of weight
-Every century or so, the Annals of that period are recorded on a monument on whatever planet the chapter happens to be on. Alternately, after particularly notable battles.

-Company as family - alternate names for brothers. Outsiders tolerated, but not trusted.
-Emperor is not a god. Relatively less zealous than other chapters.

Organisation
-Moved up because this is, to some extent, the other important part.
-Explain the introduction of mercenariness into the chapter's history. Perhaps chapter always semi-subordinated themselves to local authorities, since their tactics work well in context with other forces (and, likely, with their larger mission). As Veteran Sergeant suggested, it's a pretty natural outgrowth of being fleet-based, as well. Especially if a governor or two refuses to fork over supplies the Chapter can't take by force. Alternatively, just say "for as long as can be remembered". Because that's the sort of game that's being played.
-Generally codex
-Relatively few Chaplains and Librarians. Often overlap between annalists and specialized positions.
-Decided: companies usually fairly long-standing, though they can fall into disuse. Companies work around the Captains. Each Captain leads a company. When he dies, a new Captain is promoted, who forms his own company, whose composition and history may or may not have anything to do with that of the old Captain’s company. The level of Codex adherence can vary from commander to commander, but is generally fairly high.
-Discussion of effects limited resources has had on organization - chapter is understrength (averaging about half strength, though sometimes more and occasionally less).

Home World
-None. Fleet is old, battered, and short on supplies and forge equipment. May have possessed a forge ship at one point (or at several points), but not now.
-Discussion of their relationship with employers might fit well here. Basically, the chapter shows up and offers their services. Since they have a reputation for being harbingers of conflict, this is almost always accepted. They then begin recruitment (if permitted), training of local forces, and improvement of local defenses. In some cases, local government is uncomfortable with this, in which case the chapter tends to function more conventionally and independently. In particularly rare cases, the government will insist on more complete control, which the chapter usually accepts unless they think it's going to cost them their lives or their supplies. Chapter fights in eventual war, and will eventually move on. Individual companies may hire themselves out separately to areas near where the main body is serving.
-Generally avoid notable areas
-Some areas have horrific legends about a warband with a similar name or livery.

Combat Doctrine
-Preference for underhanded tactics and using preparation and misdirection to minimize casualties (though they are still very capable at head-to-head engagement).
-Discussion of limited resources and their effects
-Diversity of languages and such in use, often as battle codes

Gene-seed
-Lots of discussion and speculation about their origin. Perhaps the chapter even keeps pushing the Mechanicus to do a thorough investigation.
-The chapter is usually viewed as ill-omened, unlucky, dangerous or some combination of the three. Thus, recruits are relatively uncommon (and usually unfortunate).
-Might use Night Lords geneseed. Prophetic dreams figure largely in the Black Company. Then again, I've done that before. And so has A D-B. But it does hang over the head a little better than AL geneseed (and is also a little less obvious, AND a little easier to hint toward).
-Alpha Legion another option - certainly fits with the tactics, and may make explaining the transition a little easier.
-World Eaters and Word Bearers could also work.
-Either way, it's obviously not disclosed.

Battle-cry
Though the Marines Tenebric have a recorded battlecry (???), it has fallen into disuse. Battlecries are somewhat uncommon among the modern chapter, and often vary from Marine to Marine and battle to battle.
-Something terrifying, yet professional, and with overtones of evil or a double meaning if at all possible. Current #1 suggestion in a field of one is "Wrack and ruin!" by Leonaides

Color Scheme
The colour scheme, at least for the moment:
Posted Image

And in a code box, just because the board's edit feature has become...unhelpful.
[img]http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/uploads/1342357860/gallery_14654_2578_44401.jpg[/img]

The symbol they used while in service to Soulcatcher (well, my version of it) will be used as the chapter symbol - a skull, in profile, breathing fire. People interested in drawing it for me are welcome to offer.

The (complicated) banner will also make an appearance. Nine hanged men, a skull, a raven (or crow, can't remember) on a dead head, and six swords. People interested in drawing it for me are clearly insane (but welcome to offer).

Sidebars
-One on the chapter standard and its design.
Spoiler

-Perhaps one on a notable campaign (the one where they lost their most of their original history?)
-Annals excerpts

Chapter Name
A note: I like the Marines Tenebric, but will take suggestions that meet the following three criteria: references blackness/darkness + double-edged + not stupid.

Ideas for Later Use
Spoilered for readability, not for being spoilery.
Spoiler


Things to Do
Figure out why, exactly, they don't back up the annals. They're so practical, yet so not. And when backing stuff up doesn't necessarily involve hand transcription, it's even weirder.

A Reminder to Me
The aspects of the Black Company I like and am going to try to reflect, in no particular order (what I want):
-The Annals (the records kept by their company archivist)
-The importance of their standard (the relic that remains from the founding of the chapter)
-Their relationship to their lost history (both how they strive to discover it and what that history turns out to be)
-The names given to brothers (brothers have nicknames reflecting their personalities or features)
-Their mercenary nature (they're loyal, but they're loyal to the people paying them. And if you betray them, they get very unpleasant)
-Their underhanded tactics (they're good at being insurgents, they're good at being counterinsurgents, and they're just generally devious)

Edited by Octavulg, 22 January 2013 - 04:27 AM.

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

The Octaguide - Your very long guide to very long IAs

Help me update the Big Liber Timeline!

"Wake up. Pray. Train. Pray. Drop screaming through the atmosphere from low orbit into a raging battlefield, and take the fight to enemies that may outnumber us by as little as three to one. Do battle with the most horrific enemies of mankind imaginable and charge into lines of weapons that could shred a tank into ribbons. Afterward, lunch, time permitting." - Marshal Arturas, 15/05/08


#61
Octavulg

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[quote]???: The Marines Tenebric[/quote]

Black As Night? Company of Ravens? Company of Black?

I kind of like Company of Black, but this may be because I'm an idiot.

[Intro paragraph]
A monument on Dorothea III tells how a company of the Marines Tenebric lured Dark Eldar raiders into an ambush by concentrating the population of the planet's rift valleys into a single city.[/quote]

This needs a mention of the civilian casualties.

The chapter's own Annals record a forty year campaign on Credence, where two companies waged guerilla warfare against the planet's hive cities from the radium deserts.


Why is necessary, I think, even if to say it was unrecorded. I think them being on the losing side of a coup, then continuing to fight might work best. That, or have them be the actual revolutionaries, sweeping some angry cousin into the governorship.

-I'm going to try and get it done as an actual illustration. Red planet, red sky, hanged men on a hill in the left, six daggers plunged into something in the bottom right, and the bird on the skull in the lower left. Not sure how to do the skull.


Gotta remember to hit Greyall or slaine69 or somebody up about this. Long term plan, though.

The rest of it seems solid. I just need to start writing it up more.

Anyone got any suggestions/feedback/amusing and sarcastic comments?

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

The Octaguide - Your very long guide to very long IAs

Help me update the Big Liber Timeline!

"Wake up. Pray. Train. Pray. Drop screaming through the atmosphere from low orbit into a raging battlefield, and take the fight to enemies that may outnumber us by as little as three to one. Do battle with the most horrific enemies of mankind imaginable and charge into lines of weapons that could shred a tank into ribbons. Afterward, lunch, time permitting." - Marshal Arturas, 15/05/08


#62
RolandTHTG

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I think i'd have it as
Marines Tenebric: The Storm Crows

Formal name, followed by the low gothic or colloquial name. The same way forgeworld did Charchadon Astra, The Space Sharks.

 

I'm also not sure that they would mention Civilian casualties or even their own, especially if most records of their battles are only 1-2 lines .

Another interesting thing do, emphasing the 40k feudal nature, and the way contracts are often done as mutual pledges of service, have that be the nature of their 'pay'. Their roaminf fleet nature can be used as an explination for why they do not take extended pledges, while still remaining withing the framework of the Imperium.

 

 

Where do we come from? Emperor knows. But we’re old. Damn old… - First
line, first chapter, the Book of the First , the Annals of the Marines

The Incident that lost their corrupted leaders, that destroyed their records, and that left them with only the one standard for their history could all be traced back to one event.

Why does the first book of the first start with a quote about how old their company is? how about the following:

(names completely made up/homaged)

 

 
"Where do we come from? Emperor knows. But we’re old. Damn old…"
Newly elected First-Captain Tinson 'Croaker' Opal turned from the porthole to face the new remembrancer-annalst. "Any records we may have had were on the Spear of Vengence, and therefor gone to plasma, like so much of our forces." He turned back to the porthole, and its view of the glowing craters in the nearby planet.
 
"While I and my surviving veteran Battle Brothers will do what we can to remember the path, the nature of our services can leave even us uncertain of where we were fighting and who had pledged us for our service. Your predecissors stored all records in the great Librius-Chapel upon the Spear, and while I still wish to reconstitute that holy archive here upon the Wrath of Night, I request that the battle-companies be allowed to keep their own records, only coppied to the main archive when they rejoin the fleet. "
 
"Since you wish to begin your new record of our deeds with the destruction of our last record, I will explain what I can. About 2 years ago, the late First-Captain Janus accepted a pledge for removing a ork infestation from a neighboring system. Though it took a year and a half of careful raids and ambushes, when our combined chapter struck, we were able to cleanse the orks from the surface In one glorious campaign. After, we returned to the planet, to take on supplies and recieve our recruits. As is common for such a victory and the honor of our recruiting, The govenor held a procession and other celebrations, to which the majority of our members attended. I my self had the honor of leading my squad, having been acclaimed sergeant upon Brother Damocles's death during the battle against the orks. "

"Yet treachery was apparently always in the governor's black heart, for even as he cut his salute to our first-captain, his bodyguards opened fire, cutting down our commander and his staff with Heavy weapons and secreted explosives. Attacks throughout the formation targeted other leaders, crippling our command structure. Though our fury was terrible, we had barely avenged our captain when the first panicked calls came from our ships in orbit. The orbital forts had opened up on our ships, and we had only too look up to see the devestation. We were forced to battle through the traitorous PDF to our transports, though we knew not  if we would have a fleet to return to. In space, the sacrfical ramming by the Harbinger had destroyed the Northern polar space fortress and given us an area to regroup and load our surviving Marines. Yet our cost had been great, for barely half of our fleet and less than a third of the marines had made the rendevous. Even as we turned our wrath on the southern fortress, the planet's crust was cracked by the crash of the crippled Spear of Vengence and its subsequent plasma reactor overload. I found myself one of 6 surviving sergeants, with a crippled chapter and no records of our past. Our only surviving relic was the chapter standard, which Brother Murgen had somehow recovered and held during the chaos of our flight from the planet. For my leadership during the flight and our retribution upon the planet, my fellow Sgts. elected me the new First-Captain."

"Such is the tale."

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
gallery_29004_6198_5619.pngUUPlRKI.pnggallery_48988_15465_7428.pnggallery_48988_15465_9161.png


#63
Octavulg

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Marines Tenebric: The Storm Crows

Formal name, followed by the low gothic or colloquial name. The same way forgeworld did Charchadon Astra, The Space Sharks.

There's two problems with that. smile.png

First, I'm going all classical IA format: you have a title and then the chapter name (Warriors of Ultramar: The Ultramarines is the one I can usually remember). Though Storm Crows: The Marines Tenebric sounds kind of awesome. Though it also may confuse the hell out of people.

Second, I hate what Forge World did with the Space Sharks. While I love taking things too seriously, if the game has gotten to the point where Chapters can't be called the Space Sharks (or the Space Wolves, for another example), something's gone wrong.

I'm also not sure that they would mention Civilian casualties or even their own, especially if most records of their battles are only 1-2 lines .

Oh, they're much more detailed than that. I just boil them down because narrative prose isn't my strong suit and because I'm indolent by nature. This is the sort of thing where the Forge World format would work really well (Notable Engagements).

Ah well. That's what sidebars are for.

The civilian casualties...wouldn't be mentioned by the Marines Tenebric, but might be noted by Imperial authorities.

Another interesting thing do, emphasing the 40k feudal nature, and the way contracts are often done as mutual pledges of service, have that be the nature of their 'pay'. Their roaminf fleet nature can be used as an explination for why they do not take extended pledges, while still remaining withing the framework of the Imperium.

I'd been mostly going to lean toward that (they're certainly not doing it for shiny things). I do want them outside the norm, though - dependent on such arrangements, and mistrusted enough that such arrangements are never long-term. People are scared of them, and of being around them.

The Incident that lost their corrupted leaders, that destroyed their records, and that left them with only the one standard for their history could all be traced back to one event.

I'd rather not. Gradual breakdown seems more thematically appropriate (though there's probably a few big events that saw most of the losses).

Though either way, the chapter wouldn't necessarily know about it any more. tongue.png

Why does the first book of the first start with a quote about how old their company is?

Because their recorded history starts long after their actual history began. They've lost a lot. And also because Lysimachus suggested it, and he's Lysimachus. And has the same first name as me, so he must be right. tongue.png

I will totally be stealing some of that story, BTW, probably as a sidebar.

Proud author of the Ice Lords, the Bronze Prophets, the Stone Hearts, the Steel Dogs and the The Marines Tenebric.

The Octaguide - Your very long guide to very long IAs

Help me update the Big Liber Timeline!

"Wake up. Pray. Train. Pray. Drop screaming through the atmosphere from low orbit into a raging battlefield, and take the fight to enemies that may outnumber us by as little as three to one. Do battle with the most horrific enemies of mankind imaginable and charge into lines of weapons that could shred a tank into ribbons. Afterward, lunch, time permitting." - Marshal Arturas, 15/05/08


#64
Lysimachus

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Anyone got any suggestions/feedback/amusing and sarcastic comments?     

 

 

Was just re-reading this and the thought comes back to me of making the Emperor a Dominator-esque figure in the Chapter's lore. This would make a lot of sense if they were originally secret traitors, as it would be much easier to reveal to someone the person they thought was the boss is actually the enemy if the boss was always viewed as a dark overlord served out of duty and fear rather than a beloved gene-father served out of devotion?

 

Kinda like how the new DA books from BL show that a Marine doesn't just suddenly have the idea of the Fallen sprung on him, but as he progresses through the Chapter, hints and then truths are gradually revealed, so he's mentally prepared to find out more?