Fluff

My original goal was to create a homebrew Space Marine Chapter with fluff. When I first got into the hobby in the early nineties I regulalry bought White Dwarf. I used to borrow back issues from friends and I really enjoyed the short stories in the older White Dwarfs. The stories made the worlds of fantasy and 40k so much richer.

Getting back into the hobby I have enjoyed revisiting these stories. I am glad to see GW producing more of this material through media like MalignPortents.com. There is also lots of third party stuff too. I particulalry enjoy the style of ExProfundis.com. It’s super GrimDark although a lot of it is Age of Sigmar. I think they refer to their style as AoS28.

It struck me that the fluff I like the best doesn’t explain everything. The ambiguities make it more interesting. There’s a real art to creating an atmosphere or eliciting an emotion in a short passage and it adds so much to what are essentially products and ExProfundis is so good at it. One of my favorite stories can be read here.

I wrote the fluff for the Sauroters quite early into the project. I have returned to it several times to edit. It’s not perfect by any means but I’m quite pleased with it. If you want, you can read it by clicking on the pages at the top of the site. I will also include all of it below for convenience:

 

Home World
Thalassa is an Ocean World in the Ultima Segmentum. Originally a Forge World during the Dark Age of the Imperium, a catastrophic accident caused a rapid, uncontrollable rise in sea levels. The unfortunate population either took to the waves in ramshackle craft or kickstarted a sudden explosion in marine life, heralding the geological development of a planet size ocean.

Rediscovered during the Great Crusade, Thalassa’s drastically reduced population had developed a trade based society centered around huge city-state flotillas. Their once high tech society reduced to seasonal migration and intermittent warfare. Eventually Thalassa became the homeworld of the Sauroters Chapter whose fortress monastery occupies the only land mass on the planet.

Located on the equator, Halia is the summit of a vast mountain, the bulk of which is underwater. The Sauroters maintain a fortress monastery there where aspirants may present themselves, having first solo-circumnavigated the planet as proof of their worthiness. Those not claimed by the dwellers of the deep oceans, nor driven mad by the unrelenting sun, are ready to begin their transformation into an Astartes.

As the Imperial Truth gave way to the Imperial Cult, so  too did the Thalassan’s interregnum sun worship come to be replaced with an unwavering belief in the Emperor of Mankind. Represented now by the Vergina Sun. Symbol of the Sauroters Chapter and holy Terra’s ancient Agean past.

 

Recruitment
Life on the great city-state flotillas of Thalassa is spartan indeed. Free divers are able to reach the very tips of the submerged hive spires of old Thalassa but risk the ruptured eye balls and crippled lungs of the bends. Even more terrifying are the flora and fauna of the upper oceans, evolved to confuse and ensnare. To consume and absorb. Yet, no other source of metal exists.

Occasionally some titan of the deep ocean, swollen with the pestilent gases of decomposition will breach the surface. It’s chitinous spines and bloated poison sacks replenishing stocks of wargear—fueling raids against rival flotilla. Food, metal, mates and slaves. Of these, slaves are the most valuable. Both as a means of propulsion and in the lean times survival.

Observing all, the Apothecaries and Chaplains of the Sauroters, select the most resourceful and ruthless. Communicating via signs and portents, Chapter Serfs posing as Oracles are instructed to deliver these young men as tribute to the deities of Halia; sole land mass on Thalassa and undoubted seat of God.

Setting foot on dry land for the first time, Aspirants climb the mountain to the temple atop the highest point on Halia. There the inscriptions on the pillars of the temple describe the ordeal ahead. Alone, in an open boat, an Aspirant must circumnavigate the planet. Equipped only with a smooth handled adze of polished wood and bronxe and a carvel built boat fashioned from the sacred trees of the temple precincts.

Hollowed by hunger, desiccated by thirst, disfigured by the sun. Upon return, taken down into the vast complex below the holy mountain. Transformed physically by the Apothecarium; spiritually by the Reclusiam. Neophytes emerge blinking in the sunlight once more. To begin the often lethal process of becoming a full Battle Brother of the Sauroters Chapter.

Chapter History
26th Founding

  The Sauroters is a Loyalist Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter of Space Marines created in 738.M41 during the 26th Founding. Sauroter means ‘lizard-killer’. The name comes from the Dory used by the ancient Greek Hoplites. The sauroter was the counterweight at the base of the spear, used to deliver the coup de grâce to fallen enemies. An Ultramarines successor chapter, the Sauroters act as an ouragos to their brother chapters the Mentors and the Storm Giants. The Sauroters specialize  in counter-insurgency and asymmetric warfare.

The Four-Armed Emporer
Since the destruction of the Trysst Dynasty on Ghosar Quintus in 680.M41 genestealer infestations have grown in number beyond even the ability of the Deathwatch to contain. This paradigm shift from growing threat to ongoing state of emergency necessitated a permanent countermeasure. Created by secret edict of the High Lords of Terra, under cover of the 26th Founding, the Sauroters are a tacit admission of the shadow at the heart of the Ultima Segmentum.

Notable Campaigns
  Faith in Father (741.M41) As Hive Fleet Behemoth began it’s invasion of the Eastern Galaxy, heralds in the guise of genestealer cults professing ‘Faith in Father’ sprang up across the Ultima Segmentum. Endangering the production of the means to wage war againt the invading Tyranids. The High Lords of Terra tasked the Sauroters with a series of covert urban clearences of the administravtive centers of affected mining worlds.
Vae Victus (88.M42) In the aftermath of the Noctis Aeterna, the Sauroters undertook several major actions against a previoulsy unknown Word Bearers warband. Liberating worlds in the process and carriying out Exterminatus actions to ensure they remained free of the taint of Chaos. Although unable to bring the enemy to a decsisive battle, after attacks on eight worlds the warband seems to have ceased hostilities leaving the Sauroters to claim a phyrric vistory.

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Deathwatch: Overkill

DEATHWATCH OVERKILL

An aphorism of screenwriting is that a protagonist needs a great antagonist. Part of my goal in creating a Space Marine Chapter is to also create the fluff. Sauroter is a Greek work meaning lizard crusher. It refers to the short heavy spike on the bottom end of a Hoplite’s spear. The lizards in this case being Genestealers.

Games Workshop recently released the Deathwatch: Overkill box set. Playing games is not really my thing and I have limited space, so I won’t be buying the set. I did however buy the Genestealer Cult spues from an ebay seller. The quality is fantastic and I’m really looking forward to painting them.

There is a strong nostalgic element too. The art style of the Cult seems very influenced by classic GW art. I remember the specific image well. Back in the day, I owned some genestealer models, perhaps from the Space Hulk box set. I don’t really remember. They will also make a nice change from paining Space Marines.

I have gone for a clean look with the Sauroters. With the Genestealer Cult I’d like to try something a bit more weathered. I think this goes well with the Underhive/ mining planet fluff of the fluff. I’d like to do something a bit different with the color scheme. Something kind of insecty.

I am imagining some kind of iridescent shell mixed with really feverous skin. Miniwargaming.com  produced a How To using an iridescent medium. Vault members (paid membership) can see it here. I’m also considering a cicada color scheme. Mainly because I can’t stand cicadas, so they seem like a good choice for the bad guys.

The Genestealer Cult clocks in at 600 points. That suits me fine. A full battle demi company is more like 1000. But, once they’re painted, if I do want to play a game of 40k, I can. I’ll be able to play Kill Team etc. as well. In the future I’d also like to collect some Imperial Guard (DKoK) and a Chaos warband. The Cult gives me a good baseline size.

Like many bloggers I tend to write content far ahead of time. Since writing this the Codex: Genestealers has come out along with a bunch of great new models. So, it looks like buying the Cult was a lucky coincidence. I’ll be able to add to it and create a force comparable with a battle demi-company.

Devastator Helmets

devastator-helmets

I really like the paining aspect of the hobby so I tend to break models down into sub assemblies. It makes batch painting more enjoyable and less frustrating. It’s so much easier to edge highlight a helmet without a body getting in the way.

I have chosen to paint the helmets blue, partly for variety and partly for fluff reasons. The Sauroters are an Ultramarine successor chapter and that’s how the Ultramarines do it. Also, I like paining blue and it fits with my analogous color scheme.

This is actually the second attempt at these helmets. The first was OK but the blending on the tops of the helmets and the eyes weren’t good enough so I stripped them and started again. Second time around however, I over sprayed the undercoat and cloged some detail on some models. Nevermind; next time.

While I was paining I found the Vallejo Ice Blue really thin. To the extent that it was hard to paint with. I tried shaking it real good but to no avail. I considered thickening it on the pallette by using dry retarder but decided I should probably try to just fix the problem. I tried using a glass bead as a paint agitator. It seemed to do the trick.

As always the eyes drove me nuts. The best method for me seems to be basecoating and shading as normal and then adding a thin line of white. This needs to be thinned down with some medium. Then a glaze over the top. I find it impossible to do anything else consistently or well.

I am using 30k Tactical Marines from the Betrayal at Calth boxset. This is because I have bought some resin heavy weapons from Forgeworld. The static poses suit the heavy weapons and I much prefer the MKIV marines to the MKVII devastators. I like the crenelations on the latter’s armour but they are just too ostentatious, the weapons in the box set look stupid and there are only five in a box.

By next week I hope to have finished the armour.

Librarians

FW-LIBRARIAN
Image from: ForgeWorld.co.uk

I wanted to include a Librarian in my collection as an alternative HQ. However, I’m not a big fan of parts of the GW aesthetic. I don’t really like the chapter specific iconography and I find some of the general embellishments a bit over the top. In particular, the horned skull on the Librarian pauldrons and greaves, reminds me of the Desperate Dan’s cow pies.

Initially I ordered the librarian from the Assault on Black Reach boxset. I didn’t like the non helmeted head and there was a fair amount of Dark Angels and Dandy iconography on it but I really liked the pose of the outstretched hand. So I set about ‘converting’ it.

With my first attempt I manages to cut off the fingers while taking it off the sprue. So, I ordered another. I practiced taking off the iconography on the first model. I very quickly realized I was not going to be able to do it so I decided not to worry about it. Then I discovered the Magister Sevrin Loth miniature from Forgeworld. I really like the Mark IV power armor, so I ordered one from ebay.

I ordered it from an ebay seller. I was really impressed with how quickly it turned up and the packaging was really excellent. I would definately recommend them.

The miniature I ordered only included the body, not the arms or weapons. That suited me fine because they were chapter specific. I also intended to add the arm from the Black Reach Librarian. However, I made a real mess of it. In the end I went with a standard Mark VII arm with pointing hand and a spare chainsword arm from a Forgeworld Apothecary. The post looks a bit ‘come at me bro’ but it’s fine. I imagine Librarians to be a bit unstable anyway.

In terms of fluff Librarians are supposed to have a power weapon. On one hand I like the idea of a hazard striped chainsword. On the other, I would like a power sword or perhaps a lightning claw. The problem is, that the weapon hand is the right hand and melee weapons usually come attached to a right hand. It wouldn’t be too hard to covert something, so I’m going to think about it for a while.

Another reason for including a Librarian is that I really enjoy painting blue. I’d like to go for a lighter blue than with my Ultramarines. Blue should also provide a bit of variety in amongst all of the Sauroters green. I might go for red helmet lenses on all of my HQ models, except the Techmarine, just to provide a bit of visual continuity.

Dragon Forge Design

I am not a fan of unhelmeted Space Marines. It just seems silly given how high tech the armour is supposed to be. It looks a bit better when the miniature is modelled to have a helmet on the side but it still seems a bit reckless. It’s also not very WYSIWYG.

I ordered a Chaplain model, via an eBay seller, from the Deathwatch: Overkill box set. I really like the pose of the model and the relative lack of chapter specific iconography. I will replace the Deathwatch pauldron and arm with one of the 3D printed Sauroters pauldrons and leave off the large Ultramarine badge from the chest plate.

The only problem is that the model is bare-headed and there is no optional Chaplain helmet. This seems a bit of an omission given that the Chaplain’s helmet is unique.

At first I considered converting a helmet. I found a good online how to which can be found here. However, I struggled to find a suitable skull. I looked online for after market skull helmets but didn’t really like anything I found. I did however come across Dragon Forge Design. You can find their website here.

DRAGONFORGE
Head Set 1# Sculpted by Tom Meier

They have a range of African heads cast in pewter. The GW range is almost entriely Caucasian, so I like the idea of having some diversity in my models. Some of the heads look a bit Escape From New York but there is one in particular (bottom row middle) that looks pretty dignified. I think he’ll make a good Chaplain.

Dragon Forge Design has an interesting range of products. In particular I was quite tempted by their power cables. The pewter would be really easy to model into shape. Although, I recently came across a tip to use the bristles from household dish brushes that seems worth trying.

I want to include some vehicles in my Demi Company but I want to complete a Tactical Squad and some HQ choices before I start modelling them. I am intending to do a fair amount of conversion to my vehichles so it’s a project I want to tackle in the summer because it’s very humid where I live, so I won’t be so motivated to paint.

Victoria Miniatures

Guns!

bolt-pistols_290
Image: VictoriaMiniatures.highwire.com

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am trying to keep my models WYSIWYG. Spacemarines are meant to be equipped with bolt pistols. Unfortunately, the tactical box set doesn’t contain enough bolt pistols (or combat knives) to equip an entire squad. So, I looked for some after market alternatives.

I ordered some of these bolt pistols (as well as some plasma pistols) from Victoria Miniatures. I really like the sculpt and also the size. I find the Spacemarine bolt pistols a bit oversized. They also don’t fit well in combination with pouches and grenades. The models begin to look a little overburdened.

The pistols are unholstered. That suits me fine. I like to imagine their equipment being attached with space-magnets® rather than traditional webbing. Although I am quite tempted to try and model them with Dirty Harry style holsters.

Bolt pistols

bolt-pistols_290
Image: Victoria Miniatures

In a previous post I mentioned WYSIWYG. For me, it’s a very satisfying part of modelling. Coincidentally, I hear it’s important for tournament play although that’s not something that particularly interests me. Tactical marines, in addition to bolters and combat knives, are armed with bolt pistols.

As with knives, the Tactical Box Set doesn’t contain enough bolt pistols to equip an entire squad. With my Ultramarines I ordered a bunch from an ebay seller. Again, this is expensive and supplies are limited. Also, although I like the sculpt, the GW bolt pistols are too large. Comically so when compared to bolters. Where do they put all their ammo?

For my Sauroters I want to include three Tactical Squads and a Devastator Squad. That’s a lot of bolt pistols. I have a few pistols left over from my Ultramarines and the three new tacticals box sets I’ll need to buy will provide a few more. However, not enough. I am not sure if I can find more loose pistols and not sure I want to pay for them piecemeal if I can.

Plan B is to use GW bolt pistols on the Devastators and buy after-market pieces for the Tacticals. Devastators can be equipped with either pistols or bolters (I think). I think pistols get two shots in the assualt phase. So, for crunch reasons, I think it makes sense to equip troops who may be assaulted with pistols. At range, they’ll be using heavy weapons, making bolters a bit superfluous. The sargeant however will be equipped with a bolter for the same reason, to shoot at range.

From a fluff point of view I think it makes sense for the Devastators to have a larger guage (GW) pistol as it’s their only defense at short range. And for Tacticals to have a smaller guage pistol to compliment their primary weapon-the bolter.

I have found an after market pistol from Victoria Miniatures. You can see the product here. I like that it is unholstered. It looks a bit more accesible that way. Plus, I have always imagined that power armor uses space-magnets® to mount equipment. The clip looks smaller than on a GW bolt pistol, which makes sense in terms of carrying ammunition.