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How large are Chaos Warbands?


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#1 peterstepon

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 03:57 AM

Throughout the stories of Chaos Warbands, there are some warbands which appear quite frequently.  I was wondering how large chaos warbands are on average.  I know it varies a great deal, some warbands are possibly the size of several space marine companies, some might be a dozen space marines or smaller.  I know that some of the larger legions splintered a great deal (such as the World Eaters which basically fragmented into several howling bands). 

I am guessing that in the Black Crusade setting, any group of characters is a "warband", even if it consists of 2 heritics and 2 Chaos Space marines.  The book suggests that some of the larger warbands in the screaming vortex consist of thousads of heretecs, but some might be only a handful of followers around a charismatic leader.

As a reference, the books Soul Hunter and Blood Reaver state that the warband of Night Lords is approximately 50 Space Marines (though, this fluctuates during the book).  Other Imperial armour books such as the Siege of Vraks suggest that warbands make an appearance but I am not too sure how large they are.

Any references in the books that shed light on this is appreciated. 



#2 Jackal_Strain

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 05:10 AM

I'm afraid that a warband can be anything from a handfull of individuals up to millions, and that it's up to the Gm to decide how large any given warband ought to be.



#3 harlokin

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 05:16 AM

There is precious little I can find on the subject, but the Swords of Khargoth Warband are listed in the Lexicanum as having approximately 200 Chaos Space marines. Whether this would be considered large or not, I ahve no idea.

I guess that Warbands vary in size from the smallest (10-20 Chaos Space Marines) to maybe as many as 10,000 at the top end.

The number of non- Astartes in a given Warband (if any) would probably be considerably greater.



#4 Reverend mort

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 05:49 AM

While their size can vary as much as the gm prefers, apparently most warbands in the Vortex range from "Several to several dozen members", according to pg 340.



#5 K0balt

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 08:56 AM

Well, this is very hard to pinpoint exactly. I wouldn't call anything less than 20 marines and their human followers (hundreds? thousands?) a warband. I would think a warband needs its own voidship to be considered such. The biggest warband, I think, is the Black Legion. I think Abbadon's lot is about 100000 marines strong, and hundreds of millions, if not billions of humans. Anything between that is fair game, but I wouldn't go beyond a certain limit to avoid totally overshadowing the players (unless that's your goal).



#6 Gurkhal

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 05:31 PM

I would myself put the average number of warriors in a single warband to around 100-1000 men and that don't include various non-combatant or general hang-arounds that the warband may bring along. Of course more famous champions and leaders will have a larger retinue and such but I would think that these are essential both more special cases and that larger groups are more likely collections of warbands united in a purpose rather than growing into millions of members.

As the Black Legion was brought up my impression is that it is not a single warband but rather a number of warbands who share a common cultural link and identify themselves and each other as parts of the Black Legion an with Abaddon as the figurehead of it. In most cases and at most times these warbands will be doing their own thing with little regard or interest in what the Legion as a whole is up to, but from time to time they do gather to conduct major operations together in considerbal numbers, most commonly for the infamous Black Crusades. 

In regards to the characters in the Black Crusade game you may also want to remember that these are not just regular guys or the rank and file in the Chaos armies. We are talking about champions of Chaos and the cream of the Chaos legions and hence having four champions of Chaos together could well work as the basis of a warband.



#7 Zakalwe

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 08:38 PM

How long is a piece of string? Your Chaos warband will be exactly the size it needsn to be to suit your narrative requirements.



#8 Decessor

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 02:36 AM

I'm in the "length of string" camp on this matter. Anything from a handful of determined individuals to a millions strong horde. Though the numbers of the latter are more likely to be several warbands welded together by one or a few forceful personalities.



#9 Alpha Chaos 13

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:17 AM

Decessor said:

I'm in the "length of string" camp on this matter. Anything from a handful of determined individuals to a millions strong horde. Though the numbers of the latter are more likely to be several warbands welded together by one or a few forceful personalities.

Mee too, though I will add something as food for thought. In my youth, I played a LOT of battles using the Realm of Darkness Chaos Warband rules. These warbands avaraged twenty to thirty models, in my experience. Although they could grow to the size of a full-blown army given a sucessful Champion & some good rolling. My original Champion & his warband never died out & just kept growing. They were probably seventy models strong the last time I played them.



#10 harlokin

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:11 AM

Zakalwe said:

How long is a piece of string? Your Chaos warband will be exactly the size it needsn to be to suit your narrative requirements.

I appreciate the sentiment, but it is one aspect of FFG products which I find infuriating. That a GM can change or ignore what is suggested, goes without saying, but is nice to have a ballpark figure to start from.

The principal reason for my nerd rage is that I bought The Edge of the Abyss (Rogue Trader) supplement hoping for ideas to use in Black Crusade. It presents a number of mysteries which are interesting enough, but instead of explaining what is going, each time  it simply says that "the GM is free to determine what is happening here", without offering a single bloody suggestion......

Rant over



#11 Reverend mort

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:20 PM

harlokin said:

Zakalwe said:

 

How long is a piece of string? Your Chaos warband will be exactly the size it needsn to be to suit your narrative requirements.

 

 

I appreciate the sentiment, but it is one aspect of FFG products which I find infuriating. That a GM can change or ignore what is suggested, goes without saying, but is nice to have a ballpark figure to start from.

The principal reason for my nerd rage is that I bought The Edge of the Abyss (Rogue Trader) supplement hoping for ideas to use in Black Crusade. It presents a number of mysteries which are interesting enough, but instead of explaining what is going, each time  it simply says that "the GM is free to determine what is happening here", without offering a single bloody suggestion......

Rant over



True, but as I mentioned they actually give you a ballpark estimate. Pg 340. I quoted it above



#12 Alpha Chaos 13

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:20 AM

Alpha Chaos 13 said:

 

 

 Realm of Darkness

Realm of Chaos - I had to correct myself. I'm so ashamed!



#13 Kasatka

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 04:35 AM

 Another thing to remember is that the term warband is not the same in meaning as Legion, Chapter, Company or any other military, doctrinal or organizational term. It merely references a group of chaotic individuals with their own agenda causing havoc, seeding misinformation, pillaging and generally being nasty.

For example, the Word Bearers are still incredibly well organized with similar numbers to their pre-Heresy days. Whilst the titles may have changed and the reasoning behind their existence has been woefully blurred they are still a large, well organized group of Space Marines. Their command structure will break them up into forces suitable for given campaigns.

On the other hand the World Eaters have by and large all succumbed to the blood range to such an extent that they rarely operate as a single entity anymore, instead individual 'squads' of their berzerkers following other armed forces around looking for carnage and bloodshed in the name of Khorne.

Finally in my third example, the Alpha Legion as masters of stealth, confusion and deceit have let no others learn of their true leadership, organization or intention. You may find a single Alpha Legionnaire in a sector fomenting rebellion across a dozen system or you may find multiple squads, armour assets, chaos cultists and summoned daemons going to war. One thing you won't ever know is whether there is some larger scheme at work or the smaller elements now act independently of a central command structure. 

As you can see from these three starkly different examples it is quite hard to answer the OP's question.


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#14 HappyDaze

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 11:28 PM

Kasatka said:

Finally in my third example, the Alpha Legion as masters of stealth, confusion and deceit have let no others learn of their true leadership, organization or intention. You may find a single Alpha Legionnaire in a sector fomenting rebellion across a dozen system or you may find multiple squads, armour assets, chaos cultists and summoned daemons going to war. One thing you won't ever know is whether there is some larger scheme at work or the smaller elements now act independently of a central command structure.

Mysterious and enigmatic forces tend to become much less so when opened to player characters. As soon as one decides to play a member of the Alpha Legion and wants to know the answers to the mysteries of the organization - even the rather basic portions that every Alpharius knows - then things get stinky.


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#15 Gurkhal

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:20 AM

HappyDaze said:

Kasatka said:

Finally in my third example, the Alpha Legion as masters of stealth, confusion and deceit have let no others learn of their true leadership, organization or intention. You may find a single Alpha Legionnaire in a sector fomenting rebellion across a dozen system or you may find multiple squads, armour assets, chaos cultists and summoned daemons going to war. One thing you won't ever know is whether there is some larger scheme at work or the smaller elements now act independently of a central command structure.

 

Mysterious and enigmatic forces tend to become much less so when opened to player characters. As soon as one decides to play a member of the Alpha Legion and wants to know the answers to the mysteries of the organization - even the rather basic portions that every Alpharius knows - then things get stinky.

 

This is of course a problem and I personally would solve it by adding that the Alpha Legion is pretty adept at also keeping their own members in the dark to the grand scheme. The character will likely have been given alot of information but it could be worth for the GM to point out to the player that the characer may not have been given the entire picture by the other members of the Legion, and they probably don't known exactly what's going on themselves with 100% accuracy even while I as a GM do have an idea about what the Alpha Legion's state is in my games. But I understand that some people might want to spell things out a bit in detail. 



#16 Kasatka

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 05:40 AM

I personally like to play Alpha Legionnaires, but it doesn't mean i know anything about the chapter at large. Taking Ancient Warrior may give me some info about our operations pre and mid heresy, but nothing of the Long War in general.


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Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane.


#17 ItsUncertainWho

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 05:47 AM

Gurkhal said:

This is of course a problem and I personally would solve it by adding that the Alpha Legion is pretty adept at also keeping their own members in the dark to the grand scheme. The character will likely have been given alot of information but it could be worth for the GM to point out to the player that the characer may not have been given the entire picture by the other members of the Legion, and they probably don't known exactly what's going on themselves with 100% accuracy even while I as a GM do have an idea about what the Alpha Legion's state is in my games. But I understand that some people might want to spell things out a bit in detail. 

I would say any member of Alpha Legion would understand and trust in the fact they are not fully informed on what is going on. That they are operating under vauge, misleading, or patently false parameters, all with the knowledge that their superious know what is going on and will do what is needed. The bosses know that the cells are operating in the dark and they take that into account with plans that are flexible and adaptable to almost any occurence.



#18 Decessor

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 06:36 AM

There is also the question of whether any Alpha Legionnaire worth his salt would believe he's being told the entire picture or not being fed disinformation. And then adapt accordingly.






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