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Index Astartes: Depthwatch

Cursed Ambush Loyalist Messor

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#1
Messor

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Liberites! Though I've made a handful of posts since returning to the hobby already, it hasn't quite felt real until preparing to submit an IA again, and it makes me happy to be doing so. While Tau have always been my main army, and I quite enjoyed creating my new force's Index Xenos, no 40k background inspires and excites me as much as that of original Adeptus Astartes chapters, and that goes for the creations of others as much as my own. I'm glad to be involved in the hobby again, and I don't plan on letting it go anytime soon. Anyway, enough from me; for your entertainment: The Depthwatch

 

Edit: A semi-formal pdf version is now available in the downloads section HERE.

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The Depthwatch Chapter
Risen From the Unknown

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T
here exists only a small, albeit dedicated, sect of Imperial scholarship that still gives credence to stories of the Depthwatch Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Though a number of references to marines bearing the armor and heraldry associated with the Depthwatch exist, they are only that: references. No reputable accounts, much less recordings, have been found that would truly confirm that the Chapter existed. It has been through the sponsorship of small and relatively insignificant dynasty of Inquisitors that the search for information regarding the Chapter still continues. There is still much debate, but the majority belief among these scholars and Inquisitors is that the Depthwatch was created during the 24th Founding and came to be stationed in the Segmentum Tempestus, where most of the myths originate, and which aligned with the need for fresh Imperial defenses at the time. It is generally assumed that the Chapter must have restricted itself to patrolling reaches of empty border space, regions that might make tempting openings for xenos incursions. This fits with the few existing records of materiel requisitions to the region for which any notation on the recipients has been lost.

Many of those searching for the truth behind the Depthwatch have long held the belief that somewhere in the galaxy, its progenitor may still hold records that would finally solve the puzzle, but between the reticence of many Astartes to allow Inquisitorial interference and the lack of any hint even to what genetic lineage the Depthwatch bore, no search has yet proved fruitful, and the trail has long been cold. The search has recently been rekindled, though, following reports of the bodies of Primaris marines vanishing from the battlefields where they fell.

The Blasphemous Truth, whispered from tomes in the Black Library
Spoiler




Home World

I
t would be a great triumph for those pursuing knowledge of the Depthwatch to ascertain even what might have been their home sector, let alone a home world. In the past the stories and legends attributed to the Chapter have originated in the Segmentum Tempestus, and new attention has been brought to the region as separate forces of multiple space marine chapters, including the Champions Eternal, the Wolfspear Chapter, the Moritficators, and the Raven Guard have raised claims of unidentified, but ostensibly loyalist, astartes absconding with the bodies of fallen Primaris marines. With the voice of the Raven Guard involved, more groups within the Inquisition have begun to take interest, though the Champions Eternal have vowed to find and punish the desecrators themselves.

Turn the pages. Go deeper.
Spoiler


Recruitment

W
ho or where the Depthwatch recruited to their ranks is impossible for Imperial scholars to know, given the much more fundamental questions that they still cannot answer.

Read, mortal, know the truth hidden by the Empyrean.
Spoiler



Combat Doctrine

C
ollected myths and songs associated with the Depthwatch paint a picture of a force focused on ambush tactics. Epics tell of "star sailors" who made use of celestial bodies like asteroid fields and nebulae to strike unexpectedly at invading enemies. According to some tales they could strike from all directions, always seeking to remove any chance of retreat and utterly destroy their foes, rather than simply repel them.

That truth is dark should come as no surprise.
Spoiler



Organization

L
ike their recruitment methods, the scant information that researchers have gathered over the centuries is not nearly enough to support guesses as to how the Depthwatch was organized.

Like knowledge, survival demands sacrifice.
Spoiler

 

Beliefs

O
ccasionally the debates that take place about the chapter broach the subject of their beliefs, more specifically their loyalty, but the discourse is only questions, never answers, and from decade to decade popular opinion sways on whether this lost chapter was traitorous or true.

Reality and belief, eternally intertwined.
Spoiler


Gene-seed

T
he genetic origin of the Depthwatch is as lost to the Imperium as the rest of the Chapter's history, a subject of endless discussion among the tiny faction of scholars that still defend the Chapter’s existence. While a few go as far as to try inferring lineage from the scant descriptions of the Chapter’s character, most others deride anything less than verified genetic data, something that most researchers have given up ever finding.
 
The same seed engenders both truth and lies.
Spoiler

 

Memory woven from the recollections of Men and Aeldari

Spoiler

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#2
Messor

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Eventually, when I've been a good Shas'O and painted all my Tau models, the Depthwatch will be the first of my new marine forces. The elevator pitch for the Chapter is basically "Legion of the Damned, but wet." More specifically it takes inspiration from both TLotD and Pirates of the Caribbean, with some general nautical mythology themes tucked in.

 

There are a couple of main things I want to work on here, both with the Chapter and the IA itself. Regarding the IA, it frustrated me somewhat that I couldn't find a good way to separate the myth and doubt surrounding them from the reality. I don't know if that bothers anyone else, but it just feels like it would be cleaner if I could find a way to convey the information that the Imperium possesses in a way that makes it clear how much they lack, while still revealing the important parts of the truth to you, the real world audience. Part of this I'm sure I can do with some well placed sidebar flavor text/quotes, but that can only do so much, and also the code has been finicky with me, at least as I've tried to update my old articles. So, any thoughts on making that distinction would be appreciated.

 

I suppose where the general development of the Chapter is concerned, it's a more simple matter of I feel like there could be more, but I'm not sure what would be particularly valuable/interesting to include. Does it raise any questions in your mind from a background standpoint? Things you'd want to know more about?

 

Any other suggestions, comments or critiques are welcome, too, of course. I've missed at least a couple of editions of the main game, and even my old knowledge base of lore has undoubtedly become rusty, so I wouldn't be surprised if there were some notable holes.


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#3
Kelborn

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Regarding "how to convey the information that the Imperium/ the readers have", I sometimes got the same issues. I want to make it as subtle as possible but clear enough to give the reader a "aaahhh yeah" moment.

 

Maybe posting the "ingame" fluff first and seperate the "reader" stuff in another, regulary written post?

At first, the reader has an impression or a clue while getting familiar with your chapter. Afterwards, they are either proven write or wrong when they're reading your post/ explanation of what you've done here.


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#4
Messor

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A reasonable idea, Kelborn. I'm not altogether against that idea, although one thing that's important to me is to convey all the information narratively, rather than having the narrative of the IA, followed by an info dump afterwards. It feels like I need to give it a framing device, but I don't know if that really matters or it's just compulsion. The other reason I don't immediately adopt that approach is that the in-universe knowledge is so sparse; without being couched with the "truth" part, it'll be really thin, at least right now. But I will give it all a hard look to see where things can be filled out and buffed out.

 

Edit: I'm acclimating more to the concept and liking the idea of simply including some short story segments with the IA that do the work of revealing the true nature of the Chapter. Still giving thought to what would be left for the IA proper, though.


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#5
Brother Cambrius

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Well, welcome back Messor! Great to see some old faces from the LIBER's past once more adding new, delicious content! :D

 

And a fun and unique IA submission too, really do get those Davey Jones/Black Pearl vibes with the water-borne executors of the Emperor's enemies. The explanation for Primaris marines showing up is a good one, although are there any chapters that have sworn to find the Depthwatch to recover their fallen brethren if they deem or discover that they were taken by them?

 

I took the liberty of making your colour scheme in the V5 Painter so I can shoot this over to Philip S's 1000 Chapters project as well, if that's alright? :)

 

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Cambrius


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#6
Messor

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Thanks, Cambrius, and that would be great! I wondered why the painter I was using seemed to have less functionality than the Fire Warrior one.

 

And yes, I will definitely be addressing some factions with personal stakes in finding this Chapter.


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#7
Brother Lunkhead

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I love a good ghost storyyes.gif and this chapter tale really fits the billthumbsup.gif The picture you paint of the Depthwatch in pitch battle with the daemon army on the ocean bed is epic.


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#8
Messor

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Thanks again, Lunk! I'm looking forward to adding more.


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#9
Messor

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Done a bit of reworking. It's not quite what I wanted, but I like it. Update includes:

  • Additional detail on the Imperium's findings about the Depthwatch
  • The truth about the various mysteries the Imperium has yet to discover, separated with spoilers
  • A brief story giving a glimpse into what the Chapter is like on the battlefield

What I hoped to do, restricting the IA itself to Imperial knowledge only, wasn't doable, but that's fine. Next I'll be working on some sidebar content, and possibly some higher quality section headings. Thanks for any feedback!


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#10
Brother Lunkhead

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Looks great Brother Messorthumbsup.gif

  • The format looks good and the Imperial section has just enough information to entice the reader.
  • The spoiler section is a nice touch. It keeps the text from getting too crowded, and with the Imperial teasers the reader is sure to open them.
  • …..Ooooooo, and a ghost story toosmile.png Excellent.

You should post your ghost story to the Fan Fiction section. It's a good read. Don't forget to link it to this IA as well. Nicely done my brother!


Edited by Brother Lunkhead, 16 July 2019 - 07:00 PM.

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#11
Messor

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Thank you, Lunk! I'll be sure to add the story to Fan Fiction.


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#12
Messor

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I wasn't quite happy with the flavor story, so I tried to make it better. It's been edited in the original post, and is also below, and will be updated in the Fiction forum. Took an unpleasantly long time to finish, but now it is, and I can get to some of the excellent feedback on other articles.

 

The Last Raid of the Blackguard

Spoiler


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#13
Brother Cambrius

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That was utterly delicious writing and really showed the abject horror to the enemies of the Imperium that the Depthwatch provide, emerging from the waters to wash away the filth that dares mark the Emperor's lands.

 

Cambrius


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#14
Messor

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Glad to hear it landed well. Thanks, Cambrius!


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#15
Brother Lunkhead

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Your reedit of the story really knocked the ball out of the park...… excellent workthumbsup.gif The space battle really cinched it for me.....very powerful and haunting.  I love the idea of the heroes of a ghost tale being the source of the horror. It's a great twist on a classic story.


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#16
Ace Debonair

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These are pretty interesting.

I suppose if the Legion of the Damned have 'spooky fire' visuals the obvious thing to do for a DIY in their vein is 'spooky water'! laugh.png

 

I'm digging the colours - that dirty white / pale bone colour is an excellent choice.

 

Obligatory minor nitpick: the first word of the Recruitment section is the only one without a much larger first letter. Intentional hint at a super concealed dark secret, or just something that slipped through the net? blink.png With the Depthwatch, who can say... pirate.gif


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#17
Messor

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Good catch, Ace, definitely one the slipped the net.


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#18
The_Bloody

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First things first, the Chapter symbol looks great. Did you make it?

On a related note, I think the colour scheme conveys their theme well, suggesting something acquatic but also ghostly.

 

I think you managed the in/out world informations. The spoilers are a nice idea and create multiple layers of reading, which is great for such a mysterious Chapter. The overall approach meets my taste really well, being mainly unconfirmed rumors about an otherwise less remarkable brotherhood.

I think you did a great job conveying the mystery that surrounds your Chapter, which was probably the most important thing to do!

 

The sources of inspiration are quite recognizable. I don't think it's a bad thing, although other people's mileage may vary. It helps to further communicate your theme using previous experiences of the reader, and that, in my opinion, is good for an essay of a medium IA's lenght. I find the underwater warp portal pretty awesome, and I don't remember reading it elsewhere in Warhammer lore. Did the idea come from Pacific Rim?

The Davy Jones-esque recuitment is well tought. I don't think it was an easy concept to work with, but it's put in an interesting and plausible way. 

 

I think the body thefts being noticed could be a neat storyline to follow, and I'd be very interested to see the Champions Eternal's attempts to discover the truth!

The death of the Omastygians smells like something aswell. Perhaps you just namedropped them, but I feel there's room for another good story here.

 

So, the characters.

Given the Chapter's theme, Watchlord Bygrave sounds a little too much on the nose for my taste.

Ikutarsa, on the other hand, sounds like a really cool dude, some sort of tragic puppeteer turned into a living duracell. Grim!

Is he some sort of ant queen? What would happen to the Depthwatch should he, somehow, be wounded or killed? What if something simply distracted him? Can he sustain such an effort endlessly, or perhaps he needs some form of sacrifice, Golden Throne style? Just some random questions/thoughts. 

I think he is such an important part for the Depthwatch that he really needs more than five lines to explain his role -in fact, the way I read it, he is the Depthwatch!


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#19
Messor

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Thanks for the feedback, Bloody! I'm glad to hear so much of it landed as intended.

 

I did not make the symbol; just edited some suitable clip art. I'm not quite artistically talented enough to draw one out myself.

 

Yep, the underwater warp portal was inspired by Pacific Rim!

 

There is definitely story planned involving the Champions' Eternal and their pursuit of the thieves. I've considered also doing something with the Omastygians, but their involvement is still kind of being developed. Out of universe, they were basically created to create the Depthwatch, and destroyed to lend them mystery, but I'm toying with the notion of translating that almost directly in universe, probably with a backdrop of Tzeenchian manipulation. But I'm not totally sold on it yet.

 

Amusingly(to me at least), Bygrave had his name before anything else; rather than a direct relation to the concept, it comes from a piece of navigational equipment. I definitely see what you mean; I'm mostly comfortable with it because his presence isn't really felt in the Chapter any more; he's basically just another body. On the other hand, you're 100% on point with Ikutarsa. Like seriously, every point. He's essentially the "power cell" of the chapter, the queen of the colony, he truly is the Depthwatch, and if he ever gave up or was otherwise taken out of the picture, it would be the final death of the Chapter. I even played with the idea of Golden Throne-like sacrifices, but I ended up feeling like it was a bit much. He does still have a cool throne though...

 

There are a few sidebars with some more fun details that I actually thought I'd already added, but I'm pretty sure they're done so I'll get them added here soon. It may have been that I was having issues with the formatting as I so often do.


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#20
Brother Lunkhead

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Champions Eternal involvement would be a nice touch. It's a good old plot device for suspense stories, the protagonist unknowingly pursued by a detective figure and always just one step ahead, until.... Yup, would definitely add something to your storyyes.gif 

 

I liked the Bygrave reference. I'd initially assumed it was an obvious symbolic nod to the chapter which harkens back to the heavy handed days of RT.  I did think of the Bygrave slide rule, but thought the double symbolism was too much to hope for. I should have known you were on the ballblush.png thumbsup.gif


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#21
Messor

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Finished and added those sidebars, contained in the spoilers to better preserve the formatting, though it's still wonky in a couple of places. Fairly satisfied, though, at least for now.


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