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On Chapters Astartes

Posted by Wang Fire, 03 May 2016 · 21,787 views

Following up on On Legio Astartes, because the first founding chapters and the legions they represent aren't the only major players in the space marines. So here are some of the more well-known chapters of the Imperium's finest.
Astral Knights
Progenitor: Unknown
Specialty: Unknown (Badass boarding actions maybe?)
Colors: White and Blue
Institutionally: Awesome
Most would save the best for last, but screw that because these guys are awesome! Let me tell you a story, a story of the time the Necrons built a giant floating skull fortress in a bid to outdo the Death Star. The World Engine, as it was called, then began cutting a swath through the Imperium, who proceeded to throw everything they had at it.  But the World Engine's shields were too strong even for the armada of Imperial Navy and space marine forces. So the Astral Knights decided that the only way to get through that shield was to hit it with the biggest projectile they had: their flagship, the Battle Barge Tempestus.  The Astral Knights were able to pierce the shield and boarded the World Engine quickly before it was re-raised, the Navy all the while continuing its bombardment.  For 100 hours straight and with no support the Astral Knights fought their way through the World Engine, sabotaging everything they could and mowing down as many Necrons as possible. But it was a fight they could not wine on their own, so with most of his battle-brothers killed, the Chapter Master used every melta charge he had to destroy the central shield generator in the heart of the World Engine, letting the fleet outside hammer it with the full force of the Emperor's fury. All of the 772 Astral Knights who boarded the World Engine were killed, but their intervention succeeded in bringing it down once and for all. The wreck of the Tempestus was later recovered and placed on the surface of their homeworld with a statue of each of the 772 Astral Knights inside, watched over as a monument to their noble sacrifice ever since by marines of the chapters they fought alongside that day.
Black Dragons
Progenitor: Salamanders (not confirmed, but likely)
Specialty: Assault Actions
Colors: Black
Institutionally: Wolverine
The second founding that split up the original legions was not the only one, in fact there have been 26 in all. Of special note however is the 21st founding, better known as the cursed founding, because it produced the highest number of mutations and traitor chapters of any founding to date. I bring it up because this was the founding that produced the Black Dragons, and they got the good end of the deal compared to some other chapters.  The Black Dragons have one of the more visible mutations of any space marine chapter. Their bone growth kicks into overdrive even compared to a normal space marine once the Ossmudula is implanted. Most often this simply makes them larger and more imposing than most space marines (requiring custom made power armor to hold them), but every now and then they also develop bony crests on their heads and long blade-like bones that can extend from their forearms.  These bone-blades are often sharpened to razor-edge and coated in adamantium for use as close combat weapons, and those battle-brothers that have them serve as assault marines in special units called "dragon claws".
Black Templars
Progenitor: Imperial Fists
Specialty: Massed Close Combat
Colors: Black and White
Institutionally: Crusaders
Teutonic Knights IN SPAAAAAAACE!  One of the best known second founding chapters, even going so far as to have their own codex (seriously, even the Iron Hands don't have that), the Black Templars the quintessential crusading chapter and all-around badasses.  Think that a full century of combat would be extreme? The Black Templars have been crusading ever since their founding, for TEN THOUSAND YEARS! Part of this is because their first Chapter-Master, Sigismund, was exiled by Rogal Dorn himself. The other part however is how they've been able to use this to their advantage. The Codex Astartes lays out the prescribed chapter as having no more than one thousand space marines, but also has a loophole: Crusading chapters are allowed to exceed this limit to keep their numbers up in case of catastrophic loss. So the Black Templars have as many as SIX times the allowed number of marines and the Inquisition can't do a thing about it.  They also bear a special hatred of pskyers, and in another codex deviance avoid using scout squads altogether, instead giving each neophyte a bolter and a suit of carapace armor and tossing them right out on the front lines. One last major contribution of theirs to the armies of the 41st millennium is the Land Raider Crusader, an infantry fighting vehicle armored like a main battle tank that, in this variant, can bring FOURTEEN bolters to bear against oncoming infantry. It is one of the few things that can make a Tyranid player soil themselves.
Blood Ravens
Progenitor: Unknown (strongly hinted to be loyalist Thousand Sons)
Specialty: Psykers
Colors: Red, Bone-White, Black Trim
Institutionally: Kleptomaniacs
Created by Relic Entertainment for the Dawn of War series, the Blood Ravens are probably one of the best known loyalist chapters by people who entered Warhammer 40K from the videogame side of things.  They are a very memetic chapter as a result, due in part to the HILARIOUS voice-acting of the Dawn of War: Soulstorm campaign which brought us "EMPRAH" and "SPEHSS MAHREENS!".  In the lore the Blood Ravens have an abnormally high number of psykers, and none of their chapter's records extend further back than around five thousand years, so they are constantly looking for relics of their chapter's past, often bringing them into conflict with other Imperial forces.  This relic-hunting combined with the large amount of *ahem* "gifted" wargear the player got throughout the Dawn of War II campaign has led to them sometimes being called "bloody magpies" and getting a reputation for stealing everything that isn't bolted down (plus a few things that are, and the bolts) wherever they go. Their gene-seed also causes their Mucranoid to secrete a substance similar to hair gel (j/k). All-in-all a fairly neat chapter and a nice way to keep us from playing Dawn of War campaigns as the Ultramarines.
Grey Knights
Progenitor: None (The Emperor?)
Specialty: Daemon-Hunting
Colors: Bare Ceramite (silver-grey)
Institutionally: Trying to Out-Ridiculous the Ultramarines
The chamber militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus, these guys are specialists at slaying daemons and other warp abominations. In order to do this every single member of the chapter is a pskyer, and their training is harsh even by space marine stations. Because of their special status they all get unique wargear that no other space marine chapter can field, mainly their Aegis pattern power armor, which has an arm-mounted storm-bolter so the Grey Knight can have both hands free to use their Nemesis Force weapon, which is basically a power weapon (think blazer sword) that can increase its power based on the psychic will of the user.  These weapons are usually seen in the form of halberds, but can just as easily be swords or axes. These guys are the most pure space marines EVAR, not a single one has fallen to Chaos in ten thousand years. Their chapter number is 666 (despite the fact that the second founding produced roughly 400 chapters) and their Brotherhood Champion wields a literal daemon sword. As-in the sword is a daemon constantly trying to convert him to Chaos and corrupt him. They are the best equipped offensive fighting force in the Imperium. Needless to say this has made them insufferable in the hands of some writers, and some of their stuff is just plain ridiculous. Like the MIGHTY DREADKNIGHT! Which has single-handedly earned them the nick-name "Prodigals of the Silver Baby-Carrier" in my book.
Hammers of Dorn
Progenitor: Imperial Fists
Specialty: VERY Codex Adherent
Colors: Black and Brass
Institutionally: Trolling the Ultramarines
You know how the Ultramarines think that Roboute Guilliman is the best thing since the wheel and therefor the Codex Astartes is an all-but holy tome of wisdom that must be followed at all times? Well the Hammers of Dorn turn that up to eleven. In their opinion the Codex Astartes is the greatest book of tactics and warfare ever made and that Guilliman was a truly inspired genius for penning it, but that only the successors of Rogal Dorn can use it to its fullest potential.  This has led to them infuriating the Ultramarines by pointing out whenever the smurfs and their successors deviate from the Codex, and even trying to supplant them as ultimate rivals and nemeses of the Word Bearers. The part that puts the cherry on top and seals this whole deal as hilarious? It works! During the Damocles Crusade the Hammers of Dorn were one of the few space marine chapters that gave the Tau genuine trouble by being able to adapt their tactics at a moment's notice depending on the situation, just as the Codex Astartes recommends.
Progenitor: Blood Angels
Specialty: Last Stands
Colors: Yellow with Black and White Detailing
Institutionally: Unlucky
Easily the most heroic chapter in all of 40K, the Lamenters are the embodiment of how badly the 21st founding screwed up.  They were an attempt to cure the Red Thirst and Black Rage that seemed successful at first, but things quickly turned against them.  First they were tasked with holding back the 9th Black Crusade by the High Lords of Terra alongside the Mortifactors. The Mortifactors then left them high and dry, not wanting 21st founding cooties or something, and by the time the Ultramarines and White Scars came with reinforcements the Lamenters had been reduce to two companies of marines.  Said 200 Lamenters were then lost in the Warp for a long period of time, but later emerged having fought tooth and nail the whole way against daemons, which only made people seem to trust them less. They then joined to Corinth Crusade to repay the Ultramarines while only three companies strong. In a decisive battle they freed 3 million prisoners from Ork slavers, only to be jumped by a massive fleet of Ork reinforcements. At the suggestion of the very people they were rescuing, the Lamenters reluctantly pulled out to fight another day. After the crusade the Ultramarines' Chapter-Master wanted to award them an Iron Halo for their actions, but the Lamenters turned him down since they didn't consider losing those civilians a "win", the Ultramarines took this as an insult and have held a grudge ever since. When asked to protect the Maelstrom alongside the Astral Claws and Mantis Warriors, things started looking up for the Lamenters. Then the Astral Claws turned traitor and both the Mantis Warriors and Lamenters, not realizing this, fought against Imperial forces in the Badab war. Oops. Both the Lamenters and Mantis Warriors were granted a pardon, provided they each individually undertake a 100 year penitent crusade with no replenishment of their numbers allowed. The Lamenters decided to do this by fighting Xenos on the edges of the Imperium, and immediately ran into Hive Fleet Kraken. They held out as long as they could to save as many civilians as they could, but had only four companies in all to do so. Then the Black Rage came back. Only three broken companies of Lamenters are thought to be around right now, and that's optimistic. Only two are confirmed alive: Their Chapter-Master Malakim Phoros; and Brother Chyron, a depressed Dreadnought permanently attached to the Deathwatch who thinks himself the last of his chapter. He's stubborn and irritable, but his kill-team refuses to ever leave him behind.
Legion of the Damned
Progenitor: Likely Multiple
Specialty: Turning the Tide
Colors: Black, Bone-White, and Fire
Institutionally: Ghostly Awesome
The Fire Hawks were a 21st founding chapter with a proud history, and despite heavy losses they were a paragon of what a space marine chapter should be. Then they got lost in the warp. The Fire Hawks were no more, but something else began to happen. Reports filtered in throughout the Imperium of ghostly space marines, clad in black armor decorated with bones and burning warp-fire, appearing out of nowhere to turn the tide of battle and then vanishing just as quickly. They were dubbed the Legion of the Damned, spectral space marines who continue to serve the Emperor and humanity even from beyond the grave, all due to the eldritch powers of the Warp. It is unknown how they know where and when to appear, or even how they appear at all. All that is known for sure is that the Fire Hawks are among their number, likely along with a whole host of other space marines lost forever to the Warp.
Progenitor: Classified (probably multiple chapters)
Specialty: Space Marine Hunting
Colors: Beige and Red
Institutionally: Assholes
The only 21st founding chapter that didn't get screwed over, because they're too busy screwing everyone else over.  These guys are the personal attack dogs of the High Lord of Terra, often sent in to "deal with" other space marine chapters. They typically do this by using other Imperial troops as cannon fodder, then deploying en mass (they ONLY fight in full chapter strength) and wrecking everything in their way without asking questions, followed by looting anything shiny they find left over. They don't need to do this mind you, as the pets of the High Lords these guys get an obscene amount of advanced wargear. They are probably the only chapter that can equip all of its forces with the new Mk8 armor, they use a crapload of Terminator armor (particularly Tartaros-pattern), they also field a huge number of Dreadnoughts, and their Chapter-Master is armed with a halberd of the Adeptus Custodes, aka: THE EMPEROR'S PERSONAL ARMY AND GUARDS!
Red Scorpions
Progenitor: Unknown (Emperor's Children maybe?)
Specialty: Eradicating Mutants
Colors: Dark Grey, Yellow Trim
Institutionally: Pure
The Red Scorpions were made by Forge World, and tend to be used to show off whatever new toys they have for space marine players. These guys are pretty much just as Codex adherent as the Hammers of Dorn, but view the Codex Astartes as so important that they consider it a holy text rather than simply being Roboute Guilliman's: The Art of War. They are also OBSESSED with purity. Their gene-seed is the purest of any loyalist chapter and they have a metric-crapload of Apothecaries to make sure it stays that way. Since the only gene-seed purer than the Ultramarines' pre-Heresy was the Emperor's Children, it's easy to connect the dots as to their ancestry. They also don't like fighting with other units. At all. To the point where they invented the Land Raider Helios jsut so they could have artillery support without relying on the Imperial Guard.
Storm Wardens
Progenitor: Unknown (maybe World eaters or White Scars?)
Specialty: Armored Assault
Colors: Blue and Silver
Institutionally: Scottish
Like the Blood Ravens above, the Storm Wardens were made for a game. Specifically they were made as a chapter for Fantasy Flight Games' Deathwatch tabletop RPG. These guys have an unusually high number of techmarines and better relations with the Adeptus Mechanicus than most chapters, likely because when you use a lot of tanks it helps to be on good terms with the guys that build and fix them. Their tactics themselves are rather pragmatic and go like this.
Step 1: Bombard the crap out of the enemy from orbit.
Step 2: While they recover, shell the enemy AGAIN with a line of Predator tanks and long range Land Raider variants.
Step 3: While this second bombardment is underway, rush in with a bunch of APCs and unload.
Step 4: Hit everything that isn't friendly with a power claymore.
Step 5: ???
Step 6: Profit!
Apart from their armored assaults and love of huge power weapons as tall as they are, the Storm Wardens are famous for one other thing: The tale of Brother Dougie McIssac, who caber tossed a Chaos Terminator Lord so hard that the guy was killed instantly on landing. RPGs are just full of fun ridiculous stories, aren't they?

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