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Primaris Space Marine Chapter
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- Founding Chapter: Raven Guard (Presumed)
- Founding: Ultima Founding
- Chapter Master: Unknown
- Classification: Fleet-Based
- Strength: Half-Strength
- Colours: Dark Blue and Silver
- Battle Cry: none
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Shadow Lords were created as part of Ultima Foundation during the later stages of Indomitus Crusade under the orders of Lord Commander Guilliman as a dedicated vanguard force to be used during the Cleansing of Pyros campaign. Magos Cawl was tasked with selecting the gene-seed most suitable for the role new chapter would take and picked Raven Guard strain as known masters of stealth and guerilla warfare.
Initial founding saw the creating of three battle companies that were deployed in Pyros ahead of the main crusade force with the order to gather intelligence, disrupt enemy supply lines and chain of command. Shadow Lords performed the task admirably and continued to carry out as shock and disruption during the cleansing of the city. Their usual mission goals were to create enough trouble for surrounding enemy forces that the sector under attack by main force of the crusade would have little chance to call reinforcements. To this effect, Shadow Lords used assassination, diversion, communication jamming and sabotage that, while not devastating to enemy forces per se, made it near impossible to maneuver or participate in battles.
Despite being relegated to resistance suppression duty and thus missing the final assault on Chaos forces (which arguably was a positive, as the Shadow Lords suffered only minor losses during the crusade), the Lord Commander was highly impressed by the fledgling chapter, praising not only the victories, but the manner in which they were achieved. Every commander that fought side-by-side with Shadow Lords noted their exceptional professionalism and effectiveness of their actions. While Shadow Lords were sometimes seen as cold and mechanical, nobody could argue that they always carried out their orders with precision and calculated efficiency. These characteristics stuck and eventually were adopted by the chapter as the unofficial motto 'Victory in Precision'.
With the end of the campign Shadow Lords were faced with a new challenge unlike any they faced before. Lord Commander hurried to save Rynn's World and for the first time in their short history Shadow Lords were without clear orders what to do next. This led to a lengthy debate within the chapter command that lasted while Shadow Lords were participating in the Indomitus Crusade, acting in pretty much the same role as they were on Pyros. While the most obvious choice was to select a world or a region to defend, chapter command opted against it reasoning that defensive operations ill suit chapter specialisation. Striving to play to chapter's strength, Shadow Lords decided they would be most useful acting as mobile force deploying where needed rather than being rooted in one sector.
Commendation by Guilliman during Cleansing of Pyros was enough to grant Shadow Lords an expedition fleet, which became the de-facto chapter home. Shadow Lords command decided against establishing a chapter planet instead opting for a fleet-based formation that would offer them greater flexibility in operation and the ability to quickly bring the full chapter to battle if needed. Since then Shadow Lords have been autonomously operating within Imperium Nihilus commiting to battles where deemed neccessary by chapter command.
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CHAPTER STRENGTH AND RECRUITMENT
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Founding Edict limited Shadow Lords strength to half of the usual numbers as the chapter was viewed as a specialized force that didn't warrant a full strength. Initially chapter consisted of three battle companies which operated during Cleansing of Pyros: Lightbringers, Harrowers and Sentencers. After the crusade Lightbringers were designated First Company while two reserve companies were added: Crows and Bats.
Chapter Armoury favors aircraft and gunships over battle tanks with only a handful of Impulsors bearing the colours of Shadow Lords. This is partly due to the preferred combat style of the chapter, party due to space confinements onboard chapter fleet vessels, and partly due to a lack of agreement with Mechanicus Forge Worlds that would be willing to provide Shadow Lords with anti-grav vehicles.
Shadow Lords don't maintain a single recruiting world or even established fortress monasteries as they lack numbers to operate and defend such complexes. Instead they use an Inquisition-sanctioned right to tithe suitable candidates from Imperial worlds Shadow Lords defend or liberate. Usually after a campaign ends, chapter command contacts system authorities and demands their due. This may be a number of people matching certain criteria or those could be specific individuals selected by the chapter. The exact terms of the sanction are rather (and probably deliberately) vague, which Shadow Lords creatively use to procure recruits even in improbable situations. They are know to have demanded the tithe from rescued navy ships on the grounds that ship captain is the only legitimate authority in the system and are rumored to have once taken a tithe from Black Ship. Whether the rumor is true remains a mystery, but the fact seems highly unlikely as it would suggest that a Black Ship came under attack and required assistance from Shadow Lords and that Inquisition allowed such transaction to happen without consequence.
After recruitment all supplicants are transfered to Apothecarion cruiser. The location and designation of the cruiser as well as the size of it's escort fleet is a closely-guarded secret within the chapter. It is known that the fleet constantly changes position, thought it's considred to be in the striking distance from the main chapter fleet so that it could defend Apothecarion if such a need arises. Chapter Master, Master of the Fleet and Chief Apothecary are the only marines who know exact location of the Apothecarion fleet at all times and they sanction all traffic between Apothecarion and wider galaxy. Once there, potential candidates undergo the usual set of trial, conditioning and surgery until they are deemed worthy to join one of the reserve companies for further trining and ascention to full battle-brother rank.
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CHAPTER ORGANIZATION AND COMBAT DOCTRINE
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At their core Shadow Lords are a Codex-compliant chapter that closely follows the guidelines set out by Lord Commander Guilliman with some peculiarities adopted from their progenitor chapter as well as minor deviations birthed from the unique conditions chapter was Founded in.
++ Chapter Command ++
Chapter philosophy heavily favors direct leadership stating that a commander must as on-hands with his charges as possible. While it doesn't mean that officers are supposed to do everything themselves, it does mean that any officer must constantly be aware of his subordinates actions and ultimately he is held responsible for any any failing under his command. It's usual practice for an officer to be censured or even stripped of rank due to his subordinate's misdeed.
As such, Chapter Master, traditionally called Supreme Lord, not only commands all chapter troops, but is also considered to be fleet commander as well, which symbolizes the ultimate authority and responsibility he holds over the whole chapter.
Around Supreme Lord forms chapter council called Shadow Moot that acts as a governing body of the chapter with Supreme Lord preciding over it. Each memeber of the Moot bear title of Lord and usually serves as company captain or other officer and consists of:
- Supreme Lord (leasder of the Moot)
- Master of Sanctity (overseeing chapter Reclusiam)
- Master of Librarius
- Master of Apothecarion
- Master of the Forge
- Master of the Fleet
- Master of Ambush
- Master of Lies
- Master of Truth
- Lord Executioner
There is also a difference in the duties Masters carry out. First Captain is traditionally designated Master of Ambush and oversees the deployment of troops and combat action. Second company is led by Master of the Fleet who (obviously) oversees chapter fleet but also acts as chapter commandant. Captain of third company bears the mantle of Lord Executioner who is viewed as chapter adjudicator and also carries out punishments. Master of Truth and Master of Lies are twin titles given to Crows and Bats captains as deemed fit by Supreme Lord (So at one time Crow captain is Master of Truth, then it's Bat captain). These masters are responsible for reconnaissance, establishing and disrupting communcations, and carrying out sabotage missions.
++ Chapter Companies ++
As previously noted, Shadow Lords are organised into five companies:
First Company, Lightbringers.
Lighbringers were formed at the same time as other battle companies, and during Cleansing of Pyros each company acted independently of each other and they formed their own cores of veterans. After the initial chapter reorganisation Lightbringers were designated First company and received veteran status. That meant that the company would draw new battle-brothers only from the ranks of other companies, not from recruitment, making Lightbringers a veteran company because they consisted only of veterans.
While First company consists only of veterans, it doesn't mean that veterans serve exclusively with First company. The transfer to Lightbringers is considered an honour and is always a voluntary - worthy candidate is offered to transfer but he can refuse without any reprecussions, which is rare but not unheard of. The transfer is always temporary sd First Company takes veterans from successive Companies for 'tours' lasting a decade, before the veterans return to their parent Company. During their time in the First Company, the veterans receive additional leadership training in preparation for the day they may have to take up such a position in their parent Companies; gain experience working with other Companies' members, so joint and large-scale operations (those requiring multiple Companies' resources) may be easily executed if circumstances demand it; and are encouraged to be loyal to the Chapter as a whole, instead of only to their parent Companies, to minimize the chance a Captain will successfully turn renegade or mutiny.
Some veterans serve several tours with Lightbringers, sometimes even consecutive ones, so it's entirely possible for a battle-brother to spend his life with the First. Each complete tour is marked with service badge and those veterans who return to their parent Companies usually paint company symbol on their armor in addition to usual veteran regalia.
Lightbringers see their chapter marking - silver pauldron trim - as a symbol of their mission, to be the lightning that brings Emperor's Light to the darkest corners of the galaxy, to shine where all other lights are extinguished. It's no coincidence that silver is also secondary chapter colour as Lightbringers pride themselves in being what all the chapter should strive to be.
The mantle of First company is both an honour and responsibility. As per chapter custom, being the best implies being sent on most dangerous and most important missions where failure is not an option. To this day there was never a case when First Company was deployed into action and returned without victory - they either achieved victory or died trying.
Second Company, Harrowers.
Company bears its name both from the harrow, an instrument used by primitive cultures in agriculture, and from the process of harrowing (that usually occurs to someone being run over with a harrow). Initially responsible for shock assaults and disruption, Harrowers became know for the ability to instill dread and sense of utter helplessness into their enemies. Striking from the shadows and fading back into the dark, Harrowers never left behind their dead so that the enemy could never be sure if they even wounded anybody never mind killed. They were the first chapter company to employ Reiver squads in order to better shatter enemy morale before heavier units crushed opposition.
Yellow shoulder trim signifies material wealth - not only gold, but any resources - that Harrowers take from the enemy and also procure for the chapter. The last part is a nod to the responsibilities the Master of the Fleet holds within the chapter.
Third company, Sentencers.
During the Cleansing of Pyros, Third Company took upon itself to identify and eliminate key enemy personnel. They successfully assassinated army officers, heretic preachers, valuable engineers and specialists, effectively crippling the opposing force. Company adopted Sentencers monicker as in 'those who pass sentence' viewing themselves as judge, jury and executioner at once. To signify their status they paint shoulder pad trim red, sometimes going as far as cover shoulder pad with a piece of red cloth as a representative of Blood Banner - an ancient Terra symbol of those with the right to pass high judgement and sentence to death.
It is fitting that Sentencers captain bears the title of Lord Executioner and is responsible for upholding order and passing judgement within the chapter as well.
The Crows and the Bats.
Sometimes called 'Twin Companies', the Fourth and Fifth were created after Shadow Lords left Indomitus Crusade and were initially designated as Reserve and Scout companies respectively. It soon turned out that the chapter can ill afford to keep full company in reserve or dedicate one to training, so these designations were dropped. While formal records state that both companies are Reserve ones, both carry a large number of scouts and it's usually one of these two companies that new recruits find themselves assigned to when they enter combat training. Fourth and Fifth are tasked with reconnaissance, establishing and disruption of communications and carrying out behind-enemy-lines mission.
Twin companies mark themselves with black shoulder trim in honour of their namesakes. Some marines adorn their armor with crow or bat wings respectively, but it's not a universal or mandatory practice, so more often that not two companies get mixed up. It's something that captains, Master of Truth and Master of Lies, don't rush to change as it seems that they themselves can perfectly distinguish between the two. Over time chapter came to view company squads as interchangable and usually chapter command just issues 'a squad from Twin Companies' to take part in battle.
++ Deployment and Combat Doctrine ++
Faced with the issue of reduced numbers, Shadow Lords had to devise am effective deployment method that would compliment their strength rather than be hindered by it. Chapter command turned to their progenitors, who were burdened with the same dilemma, and after spending some time at Ravenspire, The Lords adopted the Talons deployment strategy that allowed them to deploy precisely as many squads as needed to each engagement thus raising the number of operations they can take part in.
Each Claw (as Shadow Lords call their talons) consists of several squads that can be drawn drawn from different companies as seens fit by chapter command. The claw can be as small as a handfull of squads or as big a demi-company if such force is needed, but these are rare occurances and usually Claws are mobile and compact. Each Claw is led by Alpha (who may be Company captain in some cases) that is appointed as commander of the detachment. Alpha in turn nominates several Betas as he sees fit (usually squad sergeants or lieutenants in case of large Claws) that acts as his enforcers and subcommanders. If several Claws are called upon to fight together, general command is decided by rank and file superiority. If any of the Masters takes field, he is given overall command by default.
Shadow Lords combat doctrine favors infiltration, covert actions and precision strikes. The very chapter name palys to this doctrine - they are masters of shadow, who hide from sight, strike from the darkness and then fade back to black. Each strike should be as fast and as devastating as thunderbolt when all need for secrecy is foregone in favor of crushing the enemy. As such shadows, drakness, thunder anf lightning are usuall motiffs in chapter naming conventions and individual iconography.
To enact the doctrine Shadow Lords devised three concepts: Veil of Shadows, Shadow Play and Lightning Strike.
+ Veil of Shadows is main operation discipline of the chapter. It states that squads must maintain stealth at all times, never giving up their exact position. covering their tracks, never leaving behind bodies, signs of injury or a trail that enemy can follow.
+ Shadow Play refers to all combat actions while maintaining the Veil. It could be maneuvering, sabotage, disruption or assassination, but the Veil must not be rended even if it means inflicting less damage upon the enemy.
+ Lightning strike encompasses all combat actions when the Veil is rended in favour of overwhelming strike to decimate the enemy. The only objective of such attack is to eliminate opoosition with no regard for secrecy or discretion.
While the Veil of Shadows is the default 'stratagem' chapter employs, there is no fixed order of battle and each Alpha desided on the actions most fitting his mission goal. Sometimes chapter would initiate Shadow Play to move in position, weaken the enemy before the main strike, sometimes they would open up with alpha Lightning Strike and then fade to Shadow Play to mop up anything that survived. Major battles usually see the succession of battle plans when periods of Shadow Play set up Lightning Strikes that in turn give way to more Shadow Play.
Due to the chosen doctrine, Shadow Lords sport an unusually large number of Vanguard squads, with Twin companies consisting only of phobos and scout squads. Battle companies employ other squads, but they still favour vanguards and use heavier units to deliver Lightning Strikes. Mobility is stealth is key, so each squad is judged by their ability to maintain the Veil of Shadow first and foremost.
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CHAPTER ODDITIES AND CONTROVERCIES
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++ Chapter name ++
Officially Shadow Lords are an Ultima Founding chapter that is shy of 200 years old. But Imperial charter holds records about a chapter of the same name operating before the Darkening. There is no solid information on the fate of those Shadow Lords, whether they survived or were eliminated, and it is currently unknown if present Shadow Lords are the continuation of older chapter, a successor to their name or if there was just a clerical error in the records.
++ Questionable habits ++
First troubling reports appeared during Cleansing of Pyros and continued to pop up time from time during later campaign. These reports state that Shadow Lords have been exhibiting deviant behavour that defies usual chapter behaviour. Tales of Shadow Lords taking kill trophies from high profile targets or Sentencers using pieces of blooded skin instead of red cloth have surfaced since, but for the time being all of them have been trumped by exceptional discipline and success rate the chapter boasts. Despite the delicate nature of most of their operations, Shadow Lords managed to keep collateral damage to a minimum and have never been seen acting against loyal population. Still, some imperial army soldiers that fought besides Shadow Lords maintain that there is something sinister going on with the chapter and they felt a relief when Shadow Lords left.
++ Inquisitorial Ties ++
The mandate that Shadow Lords use to recruit is, beside other things, signed by the order of Holy Inquisition, and there have been persistent rumors that Shadow Lords enjoy a close relationship with Ordos. Some even go as far as saying that most of the Shadow Lords operations are carried out on Inquisiton command. The exact nature of said orders (and if it's actually true) remains to speculation, but these rumors don't add to Shadow Lords popularity, if they ever cared for it.
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To Do List:
+ Finish chapter markings
+ Company banners and symbols
+ Detailed company structure breakdowns
+ Notable campaigns
+ Chapter heroes and notable marines
Edited by Smirnov, 16 October 2019 - 11:29 PM.