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IA: The Cipher Legion

Index Astartes Cipher Legion The Cipher Legion Iron Hands Successor

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#1
Shinespider

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I've been toying with a couple of different custom chapter ideas for a while, maybe to collect, maybe to just have in my head. This is the most detailed one I have. I have a couple ideas for color scheme, but unfortunately paints are slow to arrive these days, so I don't have a test model to show off yet. If you want a rough notion, look up the Knight Atropos on FW's site - the slightly dirty, white-and-dark-gunmetal Xana scheme. It would look extremely boring in a color painter, but could look cool in person. 

 

So, anyway:

 

"What is known, is conquered." - Cipher Legion Chapter Motto

 

The Cipher Legion

 

Clipboard012

 

Chapter Name … … … … … Cipher Legion

Founding … … … … … … … … 19th

Chapter Homeworld … … … Agartha

Fortress-Monastery … … … The Hidden City

Gene-Seed … … … … … … … Iron Hands

Specialty … … … … … … … … Information Warfare, Precision Strikes

Battle Cry … … … … … … … … "His eyes are upon us!"

 

History of Agartha

 

The planet known as Agartha is only recorded as the Homeworld of the Cipher Legion in classified records, accessible to Inquisitors or particularly nosy generals. Throughout most of the Imperium's bureaucracy, Agartha is listed as a quarantined world - one of many deemed unsuitable for settlement due to some corruption or contamination that need not be explained. Its appearance from orbit is no less foreboding - wracked with near-constant electrical storms, attempting to land on the planet is suicidal.

 

During the ancient days of the Great Crusade, a handful of attempts were made to land on the planet's surface, but all were met with failure. Mechanicum and Astartes transports were struck from the sky, and those few that may have landed safely were cut off and unable to return. The Crusade, unable to waste any more time or resources on such a place, moved on.

 

Over the Millennia, various attempts to penetrate the world were made, but none saw any real success until M35 when a convocation of Electro-priests came to investigate the planet. Many came to regard the place as holy, and after making extensive modifications to their landing craft they were able to enter the atmosphere - though the transit killed the servitor pilots. They landed on an expanse of grey cliffs, locked into perpetual dusk by the dull blue illumination of the highly-charged clouds above.

 

They found Agartha to be inhabited by dozens of clans of techno-tribesmen, each tattooed with what seemed to be artistic interpretations of blueprints or circuit diagrams. Though they had limited infrastructure or manufacturing capacity, each clan had a remarkable mastery of what little technology was left to them. Vast siphon-towers pulled energy from the atmosphere, feeding each clan's devices. Enormous solar lamps replaced the planet's nearly-absent sun for agriculture. Skirmishes were fought with storm-spears and simple arc weaponry.

 

Stranger still were the clans' shamans, who claimed that by communing with the storm, they could cast their spirits across the planet, communicating the shamans of distant tribes. This they claimed, despite showing no signs of psychic ability.

 

Most notable of all, when the Priests arrived, the clansmen bowed.

 

Millennia ago, the Mechanicum and Astartes forces stranded on the planet's surface had not abandoned their mission. Even without any apparent possibility of rescue or contact, they had brought the planet into compliance. The clans had been primitive then, barely surviving on fungi scraped from caverns beneath the surface - the Mechanicum had uplifted them, and the Astartes had taught them strength, all in anticipation that they may one day have the opportunity to serve the Imperium. Though those original forces had long since passed, the clans still remembered. Though their languages were largely incomprehensible to the priests, the words "Emperor" and "Omnissiah" always carried weight.

 

Over the subsequent century, the electro-priests formed a temple on the planet's surface. Integrating their practices with those of the local shamans, they believed the storm itself was alive, a sentient manifestation of the Motive Force. They identified smaller entities - storm spirits, voltageists, mag-sprites - which had spun off of the larger one. They developed techniques for creating corridors through the storms. Safe travel to and from the surface became possible, at least for anyone in the priests' good graces.

 

Some years later, the idea of founding an Astartes Chapter on the world was put forth. Its location placed it in striking distance of several threats, and its inhabitants had been noted as both strong and exceedingly clever.

 

History of the Chapter

 

The Cipher Legion's first Chapter Master was the Iron Hands veteran Marr Golan, a highly respected member of Clan Kaargul and heir-apparent to that clan's captaincy. It was at the insistence of the Chapter Master that the illusion of quarantine was maintained - he had grand plans for his new chapter, and wished to ensure that none would meddle in them.

 

Even as the Chapter's fortress-monastery was still under construction, Golan founded a city around its base. He siphoned ten percent of each clan's population - their best and brightest - to populate the new city, where every clan's disparate technological knowledge was synthesized and combined with that of the various tech-priests invited the world. Remarkably, they were even able to recover some ancient equipment from the original landings, though an enormous amount of work was needed to restore any of it to working order.

 

Finally, Golan approached the Electro-priests. They yielded the secret of the corridors, so that the chapter would be able to control transit to and from Agartha's surface. Beyond that, however, they convinced him to stand before the Motive Force to seek its approval and validation. This, more than anything, would earn the reverence and acceptance of Agartha's people. With some reluctance, he allowed a network of electoos to be implanted beneath his skin, that he might better channel the storm's power.

 

And then he climbed the tallest siphon-tower on Agartha, immersing himself in the storm.

 

On that tower, Marr Golan experienced what he later described as a single moment of "total understanding." His senses became unbound from his body and enveloped the entire planet - he could see every Agarthan, hear their heartbeats, and understood how each was connected to the others. He saw the chapter's future - not by peering through time, but simply by having enough information and intellect to project the likely course. The whole world was his for these few seconds before his body and mind could no longer bear the stress and he fell unconscious.

 

This single experience changed him, and would define the chapter forever after.

 

In the aftermath, the Chapter Master became more intense, more analytical. Desperate to recapture the expanded cognition granted by the storm, he requested and received numerous neural augments from his Mechanicus allies. The chapter's early engagements were characterized by extremely complex plans formed after long periods of scouting and analysis. While these often led to success, they frustrated many of the new chapter's appointed observers, who consistently pushed for bolder action. When asked to explain himself after a battle, Marr Golan would begin by outlining a vast mathematical matrix reflecting the forces involved as well as any number of other relevant factors. While some in the Adeptus Mechanicus regarded him as a genius, most other observers simply found him incomprehensible and irritating. He adopted the practice of having translators explain his plans to these outsiders, which only widened the rift.

 

Marr Golan's techniques for tactical analysis, while extremely complex, were not impossible to teach to others. The chapter's first captains were selected largely on the basis of their ability to grasp, employ and expand upon them. They spread downwards throughout the chapter, to the point where initiates were expected to spend at least as much time on mental exercises as physical training.

 

 Warfare

 

The chapter's way of war is based on the acquisition and exploitation of information - every target is exhaustively scouted, analyzed and tested. Extensive simulations are run to calculate every conceivable outcome, and the history of similar engagements is reviewed and applied. No battle is fought in reality without having first been fought a dozen times in theory, and only then if those theories suggested victory.

 

This deliberate approach has, at times, attracted the ire of the chapter's peers: those Astartes born to more boisterous chapters will often come to regard the Cipher Legion as slow, overly cautious, or even cowardly. Indeed, while their approach has produced some shocking victories from scenarios that appeared unwinnable to less careful observers, it is undeniably true that it has occasionally cost them battles that might have been won had they acted more immediately. They have worked to adapt over time, to cover this weakness with new methods and tactics, but at the core they remain staunch defenders of their process.

 

Organization

 

To outsiders, the Cipher Legion may not appear to have any organization at all. Their internal structure is largely obscured to outsiders due to their apparent contempt for consistent, serialized iconography. Though they do indeed have ten companies with relatively consistent roles, individual marines are not at all clearly marked, and members of the same squad may not appear to have much heraldry in common at all.

 

The one consistent piece of Heraldry is the chapter's symbol, the veiled skull. It represents several things: the consequences of blindness, the transcendent sight of martyrs, and the sacrifice of the electro-priests who are the chapter's spiritual guides.

 

The first company is the chapter's most keenly honed blade, its veterans and elites. Their performance on the battlefield is proven and reliable, resulting in a kind of mathematical certainty that the chapter regards as almost holy. The subsequent chapters are arranged in much the usual fashion, concluding in the tenth, composed of recruits and vanguard forces. Like many chapters in the wake the Indomitus Crusade, the Cipher Legion has adopted a permanent standing force of Vanguard marines, which it rapidly deploys to new battlefields to gather information and account for scenarios where inaction may cost the chapter dearly.

 

Somewhat unique is the role of the Company Champion. While in most chapters a Captain is expected to be a perfect balance of tactical acumen, leadership ability and combat prowess, the Cipher Legion heavily favors the first of these. The Company Champion therefore acts as a sort of counterweight, compensating for the captain's shortfalls wherever they may be. The chain of command recognizes this relationship, and champions occupy an official position equivalent to a senior lieutenant.

 

Beliefs and Culture

 

The Chapter Cult of the Cipher Legion recognizes the Emperor-as-Omnissiah, and frames him as a kind of panopticon: his power comes from his universal sight, seeing and knowing everything throughout the galaxy. This is reflected in their most common battle cry, "His eyes are upon you!"  The first chapter master, Marr Golan, is revered as a kind of demi-primarch for his role in establishing the chapter's ethos. The chapter's actual primarch, Ferrus Manus, is a subject of study and respect, but little reverence. Agartha's living storm is also a subject of intense reverence, as a source of power and revelation. Many of the chapter's chaplains hold a dual role as a kind of storm-priest, communing with Agartha's patron spirit alongside the world's resident Electro-priests and experiencing lesser versions of Marr Golan's transcendent vision.

 

While the Ciphers rarely leave the Hidden City, they do mingle freely with its human inhabitants, always interested in whatever projects they might be working towards. Marr Golan's vision of the Hidden City was that it would become a place from which all of humanity could potentially start to rebuild if all else were lost, and to that end the accumulation of knowledge and technology is an ongoing mission.

 

The chapter's analytical approach to war is reflected into their general culture on every level - puzzles, riddles and mysteries are celebrated art forms, as are competitive games of strategy. 


Edited by Shinespider, 08 April 2021 - 12:52 AM.

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#2
Bjorn Firewalker

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I applaud the imagination you demonstrated in this IA.

He siphoned ten percent of each clan's population - their best and brightest - to populate the new city,

While the Ciphers rarely leave the Hidden City, they do mingle freely with its human inhabitants,

Do the human clans regularly travel to and from the Hidden City, sharing technical knowledge they acquired? Any and all societies will be devastated if they lost 10 percent of their entire population, including their "best and brightest."
Spoiler

The name "Cipher" also brought to mind the Fallen Angel. Have the Dark Angels ever attacked the Ciphers, accusing them of betraying the Dark Angels Primarch or other nonsense?
Spoiler

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker, 10 April 2021 - 09:09 PM.

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Wolf Scout- Catachan barking toad eggs+ Thousand Sons Marine= Fun! (Wolves of Catachan)

Warhammer 40,000+ Star Wars- Rian Johnson- Reylo= AWESOME! (Knights of Renaissance)

Reasons to use the Steel Crusaders ('Codex: Space Marines' supplement) or the Iron-hearted Angels ('Codex: Blood Angels' supplement): Because you think giving Sternguard Veterans a heavy bolter wtih special issue HEAVY BOLTER ammunition is ALMOST as much fun as shoehorning an Earthshaker cannon into a Land Raider.

#3
Shinespider

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Your first question is well-taken - I actually had an answer originally, but it was part of the large amount of text that I trimmed for brevity. The notion was that while the most talented men are taken into the Legion, the most talented women are given a special mark and sent back to broader Agarthan society - they have two jobs: to enlighten the clans with their gained knowledge, and to keep an eye out for promising recruits whom they could direct to the city. This also had the effect of giving the clans a slightly matriarchal slant, since marked women would often find themselves in positions of leadership. 

 

You're right that the 10% cull was a brutal move - it probably crippled the clans in the short term - but I imagine that, with the redistribution of knowledge mentioned above, they were able to recover over time. 

 

I've avoided associating with the Dark Angels - I like the word Cipher, but I have little interest in the association. I imagine that, both being paranoid and secretive chapters, they probably don't have much to say to each other. 


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#4
Bjorn Firewalker

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The notion was that while the most talented men are taken into the Legion, the most talented women are given a special mark and sent back to broader Agarthan society - they have two jobs: to enlighten the clans with their gained knowledge, and to keep an eye out for promising recruits whom they could direct to the city. This also had the effect of giving the clans a slightly matriarchal slant, since marked women would often find themselves in positions of leadership.


Excellent idea. Does the Hidden City also serve as a shelter for the general population, in the event of crises such as solar flares, meteor showers, and orbital bombardment from enemy ships? That can explain why the tribes were willing to part with their best and brightest: they suffered during past crises, and were so desperate to avoid a repeat, they were willing to submit and showing humility before the Astartes, to ensure the safety of their living treasures.
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Wolf Scout- Catachan barking toad eggs+ Thousand Sons Marine= Fun! (Wolves of Catachan)

Warhammer 40,000+ Star Wars- Rian Johnson- Reylo= AWESOME! (Knights of Renaissance)

Reasons to use the Steel Crusaders ('Codex: Space Marines' supplement) or the Iron-hearted Angels ('Codex: Blood Angels' supplement): Because you think giving Sternguard Veterans a heavy bolter wtih special issue HEAVY BOLTER ammunition is ALMOST as much fun as shoehorning an Earthshaker cannon into a Land Raider.

#5
Shinespider

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I hadn't considered that, but it's a solid idea. I like the thought of them having large shelter facilities in case of natural disaster.

 

I will say that I don't think "orbital bombardment from enemy ships" is something that's ever happened - quite a lot of their backstory is invested in the idea of their homeworld being a highly secretive black box. Few know that it is their home, and even if an enemy did somehow discover this, any bombardment would be totally blind because the surface is basically immune to any kind of scanning.

 

Though, now that I think of it, that does raise some questions with regards to fleet operations. They can't really be anchored over Agartha if it's supposed to be a big secret. I imagine they operate more-or-less like a fleet-based chapter much of the time. 


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#6
Brother Lunkhead

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Very fine work here Shinespiderthumbsup.gif Your story of the illumination of Marr Golan was particularly interesting. I would like to see some specific battle/campaign narratives here, though. 

 

The idea of large shelter facilities is a very good idea, especially given the massive and constant storm activity. I'd imagine that even during primatve times, the people of Agartha had developed some sort of shelter system. Perhaps more modern systems were built on the more primitive archologyhappy.png

 

 

I will say that I don't think "orbital bombardment from enemy ships" is something that's ever happened - quite a lot of their backstory is invested in the idea of their homeworld being a highly secretive black box. Few know that it is their home, and even if an enemy did somehow discover this, any bombardment would be totally blind because the surface is basically immune to any kind of scanning.

Perhaps the AdMech and the Cipher Legion have developed a void shield and planetary defense system drawing on the atmospheric storms. They may even be able to focus lightning storms to shield against potential orbital bombardment or assault. The energy from these lightning storms would easily disperse energy weapons and detonate incoming missiles, shells, drop pods and other assault vessels. There would be the added benefit of such a system being surface based and virtually invisible from space.

 

 

Though, now that I think of it, that does raise some questions with regards to fleet operations. They can't really be anchored over Agartha if it's supposed to be a big secret. I imagine they operate more-or-less like a fleet-based chapter much of the time. 

The Chapter's fleet could be harbored in system, or in an adjacent solar system, hidden from unwanted observation in an asteroid belt. Port and repair facilities could be built into larger asteroids in the belt.

 

This is all very interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing moreyes.gif


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#7
Bjorn Firewalker

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Perhaps the AdMech and the Cipher Legion have developed a void shield and planetary defense system drawing on the atmospheric storms. They may even be able to focus lightning storms to shield against potential orbital bombardment or assault. The energy from these lightning storms would easily disperse energy weapons and detonate incoming missiles, shells, drop pods and other assault vessels. There would be the added benefit of such a system being surface based and virtually invisible from space.

Excellent ideas!

The Chapter's fleet could be harbored in system, or in an adjacent solar system, hidden from unwanted observation in an asteroid belt. Port and repair facilities could be built into larger asteroids in the belt.

Good ideas. More details are needed, e.g., how the Marines travel between the planet's surface and orbiting starships. Heavy lift shuttles operating from dispersed airfields? (A mere Thunderhawk won't do. The Marines need something capable of transporting Baneblade and Fellblade tanks; even if they don't operate superheavy tanks, they need superheavy industrial equipment to build and repair their Thunderhawk gunships, Land Raiders, Predator tanks and Rhino transports.) Use weather control devices to open an eye in the storm raging around them, so orbiting ships can teleport them to and from the surface? (Precise weather control means they can do so far from the Hidden City, hiding the latter's location.) A Capitol Imperialis variant with a retractable mooring tower to dock with frigates and smaller ships, after the ships enter the atmosphere? (Strike cruisers and larger ships may be unable to safely enter the atmosphere.)

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker, 12 April 2021 - 03:35 PM.

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Wolf Scout- Catachan barking toad eggs+ Thousand Sons Marine= Fun! (Wolves of Catachan)

Warhammer 40,000+ Star Wars- Rian Johnson- Reylo= AWESOME! (Knights of Renaissance)

Reasons to use the Steel Crusaders ('Codex: Space Marines' supplement) or the Iron-hearted Angels ('Codex: Blood Angels' supplement): Because you think giving Sternguard Veterans a heavy bolter wtih special issue HEAVY BOLTER ammunition is ALMOST as much fun as shoehorning an Earthshaker cannon into a Land Raider.





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