THE IRON SNAKES
The Iron Snakes of Ithaka are an old Chapter, although the origins of the Iron Snakes are difficult to pin down; reportedly a Second Founding chapter, their Legion of origin is unknown. Although they pay respect to Roboute Guilliman, it is uncertain if they are an Ultramarine descendant, particularly as they are a non-Codex chapter.
The Iron Snakes are based around the planet Ithaka, 'The Cradle of Snakes' and their Fortress Monastery is located on the fortress moon of Karybdis. The Chapter defends the Reef Stars from all enemies, regularly engaging their ancient foe, the Dark Eldar or Primuls as they are sometimes known in the region.
Ithaka is an ocean world that includes a rare species of giant water snake know as great wyrms or Iron Snakes. They are vast creatures, with hides covered in adamantine hard scales and with jaws big enough to swallow gunships and tanks whole. As part of initiation and training Iron Snakes petitioners must kill a great wyrm with a Sea Lance, a heavy harpoon that they throw from a fleet water skiff. It is a good omen for a petitioner to kill an Iron Snake with a single lance throw.
The Reef Stars
The Iron Snakes appear to have been stationed in the sector of space known as the Reef Stars many thousands of years ago, and charged with its protection as their primary mission. The inhabited worlds of the Reef, while varied in their technological development, each appear to have some form of summoning aid from the Iron Snakes ritualised into their society. The Iron Snakes are a myth or legend to some worlds, an awe-inspiring reality to others. Regardless of how they are viewed, the Snakes of Ithaka take their duty to the Reef Stars as seriously as only Space Marines can, and will go to any lengths possible to protect the sector and its citizenry.
The actions they have fought in the Reef Stars are numerous, as the whole area appears to be under constant threat by Dark Eldar raiding parties. As a result, the Iron Snakes have amassed considerable experience fighting the Dark Eldar, who they (and the people of the Reef Stars) also refer to as the "primuls." The Iron Snakes also fought a ten year all-out war against a supremely large Ork invasion. The Ork forces, made up of multiple Waaaghs, were so large that it was impossible for the Iron Snakes to defeat them by martial means. However, having managed to secure a relic apparently considered sacred by the Orks, the Iron Snakes were able to draw the Ork forces out of the Reef Stars and into unclaimed/Xenos territory. The remainder of the Orks were expunged, and the Reef Stars were judged greenskin-free for over a thousand years.
When a mission, referred to within the chapter as an 'undertaking', is decided upon the Chapter Master announces how many squads he believes are required to ensure its success. All squad-leaders who wish to volunteer their units for the mission then place their tokens into a kylix (a form of drinking cup whose origins lie in ancient Terra). The Chapter Master then decides which squads to assign to the undertaking based upon which tokens he finds in the kylix.
The Iron Snakes appear to rely heavily on squad based tactics, operating rarely in company strength groups. However their most significant divergence is their use of Sea Lances and combat shields in combat. In certain situations, usually when sustained and hard fought close combat is expected, Iron Snakes squads are equipped with combat shields and adamantine tipped Sea Lances for the battle. Standing before the enemy onslaught the Iron Snakes thin their ranks with rapid bolter fire before forming a shield wall, using their lances and combat swords to present a united front to the enemy. Though this method of fighting seems anachronistic it has nonetheless proved effective, particularly against the greenskin menace. Beyond such special circumstances the Chapter appears to follow the Codex, relying on their power armour and bolter to carry most battles.
While the squad is the principal tactical unit of the Chapter, sometimes even less manpower is deployed. In cases of responding to general aid requests from the worlds of the Reef Stars, it is customary to dispatch only one Battle-Brother from the closest squad to investigate. The Brother chosen is often either the newest member of the squad, or a member being considered for the role of successor by the squad-leader; a one-person undertaking is seen as a fitting challenge for such marines. Historically, only one warrior usually suffices in cases of general aid requests, though it is no shame for the individual to request the presence of his fratery-brothers once appraised of the specific situation.
The Iron Snakes are unique in their tactical squads in the fact that all squads are attached with an Apothecary unlike other codex astartes who are assigned one per company.
Iron Snakes gain the following benefits +5 Weapon Skill, +5 to any other attribute, and the Self-Reliance Solo Mode ability.
SELF-RELIANCE (IRON SNAKES)
Required Rank: 1
Effects: All Iron Snakes are trained in repair and the maintenance of their gear. The Battlebrother gains Trade (Armorer) as a trained skill and chooses one field of mastery from Bolter, Flamer or Power Armor. All testes to repair or maintain equipment of the chosen mastery may be rerolled by the marine and he may un-jam weapons he has mastery in with a half action.
Improvements: At Rank 3 the Battle-Brother may choose one additional mastery from the list and his penetration with weapons he has mastery in is increased by 2.
At Rank 5 the marine counts all gear he has a mastery in as having a quality one step better than it is. (No effect if already master crafted)
At Rank 7 he gains the last remaining mastery and +10 bonus to pinning and fear tests.
CHAPTER DEMEANOR: SELFISH
The emphasis on small unit training and independent action of the Iron Snakes space marines makes them ideal for small scale operations where they may need to fight for extended periods with little or no support. However, it makes interaction and cooperation with other Chapters difficult. Cohesion between the Iron Snakes and more traditional chapters (GM's discretion) is always considered 1 less.
PRIDE OF ITHAKA
Works exactly like Pride of Ultramar (Ultramarines), see page 281 for details.
Iron Snakes Chapter Advances
Navigation ................................ 300 ..... Skill ..... ---
Navigation +10 ......................... 400 ..... Skill ..... Navigation
Navigation +20 ......................... 600 ..... Skill ..... Navigation +10
Survival .................................... 300 ..... Skill ..... ---
Survival +10 ............................. 400 ..... Skill ..... Survival
Survival +20 ............................. 600 ..... Skill ..... Survival+10
Tactics .................................... 400 ..... Skill ..... ---
Tactics +10 ............................. 400 ..... Skill ..... Tactics
Tactics +20 ............................. 400 ..... Skill ..... Tactics +10
Blademaster ............................ 800 ..... Talent ..... WS 30
Hatred (Dark Eldar) .................. 500 ..... Talent ..... ---
Talented (Survival) .................... 500 ..... Talent .....Survival+10
CHAPTER ATTACK PATTERNS: Can't Think of One!
Action: Dunno Action
Effects: Stuff Happens
Improvements: If stuff happens it gets better.
CHAPTER DEFENSIVE STANCES: SHIELD-WALL
Standing before the enemy onslaught the Iron Snakes may form a shield wall, using their lances and combat shields to present a united front to the enemy.
Action: Free Action
Effects: When two or more battle-brothers, armed with melee weapons and shields, are within support range and take no more than a half-move action, they gain +10 to Weapon Skill and a further +10 bonus to Parry attempts.
Improvements: If the Battle-brother is Rank 4 or more each member within the support
range gain +20 to Weapon Skill and a further +20 bonus to Parry attempts
The Iron Snakes regularly issue combat shields and sealances (javelin-type fighting spears) to all brothers, enabling them to close up and use phalanx (shield-wall) style tactics. The Iron Snakes sealance is a high tech, adamantine-tipped verision of the native sealance, designed for the use of the Astartes.
Sealance, Melee, 2d10+4R, Pen:5, Tearing, Unbalanced; Weight: 15kg, 15 Requistion.
(Note: The sealance is not considered to be either Master Crafted or of Exceptional Quality, although and these upgrades may be added to it should you wish.)
Although Iron Snakes are able to train in a number of environments across their homeworld, it is the sea that is most precious to them, to the point where each marine carries a vial of Ithakan seawater with him when on active duty, and with which he anoints the soil of any other planet he steps on.
Waters of the Arctic Wastes: +3 to all Survival rolls
Waters of the Wyrms' Nest: +2 to Weapon Skill
Waters of the Storm Coast: Add +3 to Command Tests