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Mjoellnir

My belated thoughts about Rites of Battle...

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Hello, after getting Rites of Battle late and having to do some other stuff before reading it in full here is now the complete, uninteresting and late list of what I think about it.

Chapter I:

Trials of the Aspirant:Interesting fluff and ideas. It actually made me think about what exactly my chapter does to keep potential traitors and other liabilities out of the chapter.

Birth of the Chapter; For me, this was supposed to be the heart and soul of the whole book. Unfortunately the book is a Pariah. Almost everything is fluff and random tables for people who can't decide for themselves. Not only that, the rules are also incomplete (no rules for 4 First Founding chapters) and illogical (chapters with pure gene-seed follow all the rules of their progenitor chapter, seems the Black Templars are corrupted beyond repair). Codex Demeanours made my heart jump for a moment. I recognized a lot of names from the chapter customization rules of the 4th edition Codex. Unfortunately it's only Demeanours. Gene-seed deficiency was one of the good parts. Chapter flaws was tied to the purity of the gene-seed and again something that has nothing to do with it. Dark Angels practically have "We Stand Alone", Black Templars have Faith in Suspicion" etc. Then there was some interesting fluff to consider. Combat doctrine was the worst for me. My chapter would have used "Stealth". "Some of these chapters utilise subtle modifications to armour and weaponry, shielding them from detection until the very last moment." Hello? This is vital for the Demeanor See, But don't be Seen and the Stealth combat doctrine (unless you make a chapter of scouts) and it gets handled in a line of fluff text? There need to be RULES for that kind of stuff. The solo and squad abilities are nice but by far not enough. The Advancement tables are a lot shorter than those of standard chapters, but since there are so many advancement tables in Deathwatch I can live with that. However, the chapter tables should be bound to combat doctrine and be less random. Why do you hate Eldar if you prefer to kill enemies from afar? And yes, it says everywhere that I can talk with my GM to make stuff up. But that's something I don't buy a book for.

The new chapters are nice, but I think some new chapters should have been left out in favour of the missing first foundings.

Chapter II:

The Call of War: Chapter Deeds are limited to very few chapters, but the list is generally short, so it doesn't matter as much. All deeds are interesting to give you character a little bit of extra depth. The same is true for distinctions.

Now the Advanced Specialties are in my opinion the second-best part of the book. The only thing that annoys me a bit is the part about it normally not being possible to get two. It's entirely possible for a first company veteran to become a champion and later a captain, at least in normal chapters some people will maybe want to play. That can lead to some redundancies with issued gear, otherwise there should be no problems to ignore it. The Specialties themselves are great. Only the Kill-Marine is again someone who is fluff-wise supposed to be stealthy but has no way to effectively sneak in power armour. This time there is even something in the text about them "often" not using power armour and Astartes weapons and scout sergeants being the best kill-marines. I guess this is meant to balance them with the characters from Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader but doesn't seem right. Still this advancement is absolutely vital for single cross-over marines because it allows them entering squad mode while solo.

Chapter III:

Expanded Wargear. This is the best part of the book for me. A whole bunch of new mean, brutal weapons to show chaos marines and Tyranids why messing with the MIB is a bad idea, new tools, and new relics, among them a special auspex the Deathwatch "borrowed" from the Grey Knights.gran_risa.gif And the best: Rules for all Marks of Armour from I to VIII and new history tables. I could spend hours with them.

Chapter IV:

Vehicles: A very important chapter that allows for a lot of additional challenges in missions. Nice to see that the Stormraven is in there, without picture, :D However, some things like allowing a kill-team to requisition  a Land Raider seem a bit weird. Tank combat is pretty much the exact opposite to kill-team tactics.

Chapter V:

I love the new rules for renown, the descriptions of honours (nice to know what's the meaning of all these things in a space marine sprue. The additional assets kill-teams can requisition are great too.

Chapter VI: This chapter makes Watch Fortress Erioch a living place instead of just a something you return to between missions. You can even have real adventures set entirely there. The NPCs are interesting, some where seemingly made before the Specialties were finished, there's an Apothecary kill-marine. What I would have also liked a lot would have been a bit more on the things NPC would be willing to do to achieve his goals. Inquisitor Ghraile for example is willing to free the Tyranids on Erioch to show her colleagues how dangerous they are. That's kind of moronic but it shows pretty clearly what she's willing to do. Watch Captain Ramiel on the other hand has been in the Deathwatch for decades to spy after Black Shields and find out if they're Fallen Angels. But what would he be willing to do if he finds one? He can't denounce him to the Watch Commander without betraying the secret shame of his chapter to the Deathwatch. And he can't kill or kidnap him without betraying the Deathwatch, which would probably be unpleasant when found out...

 

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Chapter I is nice in theory, but suffers from several issues. It feels a bit hastily built and there are several things there that are directly in contradiction with established fluff. For example:

- Established fluff says there are NO Space Wolf descendant chapters. Still you can randomly generate one from the table...

- Established fluff says Dark Angel geneseed is rarely used for descendant chapters and only a few descendants of them exists. Their geneseed was suposedly used less than any other except Space Wolf one. Still, in the the random tables they are second most common progenitor chapter accounting for 15% of all chapters...

- Established fluff says Raven Guard geneseed is so badly damaged that they have problems creating new marines and their geneseed is rarely used. Now their geneseed is suddenly one of the purest...

And I would really have expected Raven Guards, White Scars, Iron Hands and Salamanders get at least some rules for their descendant chapters. Now these 1st founding chapters are almost completely absent from the book.

 

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There are Space Wolf descendant chapters. Just very few of them (I believe there were meant to be 3 known successor chapters from the first founding,since then there has been nothing new mentioned),using Space Wolf gene seed is definitely not favoured.

And where is it said that Raven Guard have problem creating marines? Yes, after the Horus Heresy they were meant to be so reduced that Corax started fiddling about with things to speed up the recovery process, but I never heard anything about them finding it difficult to make new marines in the "modern" 40k.

On the "Create your own chapters": I was irritated by the lack of rules guidance. There were several pages on "So what is the Doctrine of your chapter?" which was pointless. It was all background stuff,could have been covered in a page (or two at most). What was needed was "Ok, your chapter is Stealth cased, so add AB to your advance table", as the background stuff is probably all the stuff the player already knows. They probably have a chapter in mindwant guidance on how to create them in Deathwatch, rather than guidance on how to come up with a Chapter in the first place. They also needed guidance on how to create solo and squad mode abilities and psychic powers. Cut down the successor chaptersprovide up write ups for the other Legions.

Basically I was very disappointed with that section. Vehicles, even if the rules were a rehash of Into the Storm, were good (even if the Stormraven, which does not exist, featured in the book). The armour marks were good (if not terribly balanced... they make Mark 7 seem pants,mark 6 was blatantly the best.

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borithan said:

There are Space Wolf descendant chapters. Just very few of them (I believe there were meant to be 3 known successor chapters from the first founding,since then there has been nothing new mentioned),using Space Wolf gene seed is definitely not favoured.

Do you have a source for this? I'd be really interested in reading what material is availible on it.

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Personally I would have preferred rules for ALL legions, even the traitor ones. It is strongly implied that the Blood Ravens for example use Thousand Sons gene-seed, my personal chapter uses Luna Wolves gene-seed (battlegroup got cut off towards the end of the Great Crusade by a warpstorm for a thousand yearswas told, by a third party that their descendants better shouldn't tell anyone who they are if they get out there). As far as I know there was only one new founding from the Space Wolves that was destroyed, but I wouldn't want them excluded. Nothing hinders people to invent their own forgotten Space Wolves descendant chapter. After all they lost multiple 13th great companies as far as I remember. Maybe one of them was displacedtook on another name. 

Then things like homeworld, purposecombat doctrine should each provide a part of the chapter advancement table. Combat Doctrine should also have an influence on the solosquad-mode abilities. I know it's harder to make a custom system for an RPG, but it really should have taken a bit more inspiration from the 4th Edition Codex Space Marines. Not everything would have been usable (some things just changed the force organisation chartstransformed units, that would be fluff in Deathwatch).

borithan said:

The armour marks were good (if not terribly balanced... they make Mark 7 seem pants,mark 6 was blatantly the best.

Personally I think that depends on a few things. If you roll your armour you can get stuck with some histories that are not that greatCorvus has slightly weaker armour (it doesn't look like much, but it can add up over time). If you can choose, then skill of the artificer can make a Corvus superior to an Aquila, either with the Aquilathe Errant chest plate. If you compare the Corvusthe Errant then it depends on what you want. Higher protectionhigher Agility.

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borithan said:

Vehicles, even if the rules were a rehash of Into the Storm, were good (even if the Stormraven, which does not exist, featured in the book). The armour marks were good.

Stormraven exists. It is featured in Blood AngelsGrey Knights codexes.

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Aeddon said:

Do you have a source for this? I'd be really interested in reading what material is availible on it.

There was one that I know of: The Wolf Brothers; a Second Founding Chapter. The Chapter failedwas disbanded because of issues with the geneseed (too many Wulfen, probably!). Lesson learned,nobody makes space wolf spin-offs any more!

As for mk VII being poor: I disagree. What is the job of armour? To stop stuff killing you. +5 to Awarenessagility is nice an' all, but it's not as good as an extra point of armour everywhere.

 

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Shadow Walker said:

 

 

Stormraven exists. It is featured in Blood AngelsGrey Knights codexes.

I think he meant "doesn't exist yet", because the Deathwatch timeline is set before its introduction.

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Mjoellnir said:

Stormraven exists. It is featured in Blood AngelsGrey Knights codexes.

 

 

I think he meant "doesn't exist yet", because the Deathwatch timeline is set before its introduction.

Actually, Codex: Blood Angels mentions the rediscovery of the Stormraven Gunship STC fragment as being "early 41st Millennium" (with the Grey Knights apparently having had them long before that). 817.M41, which is "present day" for the Deathwatch background, is most certainly late M41, even if it's before the 2nd3rd Armageddon Warsthe 13th Black Crusade.

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N0-1_H3r3 said:

 

 

Actually, Codex: Blood Angels mentions the rediscovery of the Stormraven Gunship STC fragment as being "early 41st Millennium" (with the Grey Knights apparently having had them long before that). 817.M41, which is "present day" for the Deathwatch background, is most certainly late M41, even if it's before the 2nd3rd Armageddon Warsthe 13th Black Crusade.

Ah, so it was retconned into the army lists. Sorry I didn't buy any army books since the latest Codex Space Marines. They really should think of scrapping Warhammer 40kstart with Warhammer 41k.gran_risa.gif

 

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Siranui said:

Aeddon said:

 

Do you have a source for this? I'd be really interested in reading what material is availible on it.

 

 

There was one that I know of: The Wolf Brothers; a Second Founding Chapter. The Chapter failedwas disbanded because of issues with the geneseed (too many Wulfen, probably!). Lesson learned,nobody makes space wolf spin-offs any more!

Funny thing is that Rites of Battle is contradicting its own text in this regards. The table on p.17 allows you to roll a Space Wolf successortable on p.20 says Salamander geneseed is more instabile than Space Wolf one... Then, in p.54 they suddenly go back to the original GW fluffsay that Space Wolf geneseed is not used for successors because it is so instabile, but Salamander genseed is... :P

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The second founding chapters of Marines were created after the Horus Heresy by splitting up the 9 remaining loyal Space Marine Legions.  Most of the new chapters opted to use the Ultramarine's Codex as a basis, some did not.  All Chapters created after the second founding were created by the Emperor's geneticists on Terra.

 

So, the Space Wolves only split into 2 Chapters (the original Space Wolves and the new Wolf Brothers).  Both were much larger than the 1000 man Codex Chapters.  Each having 14 Great Companies (13 Great Companies led by Wolf Lords and a 14th Great Company led by the Great Wolf Chapter Master), Each Great Company being much larger than a Codex Company,  However, both Chapters were now small enough, individually, to be considered no longer a threat the the Empire.  The Wolf Brothers eventually proved to be unstable, very prone to the Wulfen-gene trait.  They were eventually disbanded (the few survivors were rolled back into the Space Wolves),  As for the creation of other Chapters using Space Wolf gene-seed, it is unknown, but it IS possible.  Though, their gene-seed would likely have been joined with another more stable gene-seed to do so, getting only a partial Space Wolf in the bargain (remember, GW made things very vague so the players could create their own chapters using the Space Wolf Codex without using the Space Wolves themselves) . 

 

For example, the 21st "cursed" founding was rumored to have spliced together gene-seed of some of the traitor legions with loyal chapter's gene-seed.  Another example, is the Blood Ravens from an unknown founding.  They are rumored to be a mix of Thousand Sons gene-seed probably spliced with a loyal chapter's gene-seed.

 

As for the Salamanders, their gene-seed is known to be mostly stable.  However, their original Legion was small to begin with, and then suffered heavy casualties at the Istvaan massacre.  So, it didn't have to be split during the second founding.  They field 7 Battle Companies that are each larger than a Codex Company,are thus roughly the size of a Codex Chapter.  However, there are known chapters that are likely descendents created after the second founding.  The Storm Giants and Black Dragons are both rumored to be of Salamander gene-seed.  Though, it is not a sure thing, both chapters show similar traits as the Salamanders.  Only the Emperor's geneticists know for certain, as they are the people in charge of creating new chapters.

 

Note: most of this information can be gained from the Index Astartes series of source books.

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According to Rites of Battle the Salamander geneseed is extremely unstable... with 90% mutation rate (whereas most geneseeds are 10-20%, Blood Angels are 50%Space Wolves 75%). This is, yet again, against established fluff. I know writing anything wider about Space Marines is devil of a work since there is so much old fluff to check against, but I seriously expected a bit better for chapter which is supposed to help in creating whole new chapters for players to use...

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All the loyalist Legions have had a sucessor chapter at some point in the backgroung except the Salamanders, although the space wolves only sucessor, the wolf brothers, was disbanded after a while.

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Banjulhu said:

All the loyalist Legions have had a sucessor chapter at some point in the backgroung except the Salamanders, although the space wolves only sucessor, the wolf brothers, was disbanded after a while.

Not quite. The Salamanders produced no Chapters during the Second Founding due to being severely under-strength at the time... but a number of later-founding Chapters have been created using what is believed to be the Salamanders geneseed, such as the Black Dragons.

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I don't know what it says in the Rites of Battle, but all of the 9 loyalist Legions have had successor Chapters, including the Salamanders.  The Salamanders just didn't have any 2nd founding successor Chapters.  Please don't mix up that there have been many more founding since the 2nd founding.  The list I am referring to has been in several different publications,it lists the Salamanders as having <none> 2nd founding Chapters.  That is a reference to just the 2nd founding.  There have been at least 25 more foundings since that first one (minimum total of 26 foundings). 

 

There are at least 2 Chapters believed to be descended from the Salamanders that have been named.  There are around 1000 active Chapters loyal to the Emperor, of which about a quarter have been mentioned in the various pieces of fluff.  That leaves about 750 unnamed Chapters.  It has also been stated that roughly one-half of all the Chapters are descended from the Ultramarines in some fashion.  There is a very strong likelihood that there are other Chapters descended from the Salamanders that have yet to be named in those 375 (or so) non-Ultramarine Chapters that are unknown as well.

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N0-1_H3r3 said:

 

Not quite. The Salamanders produced no Chapters during the Second Founding due to being severely under-strength at the time... but a number of later-founding Chapters have been created using what is believed to be the Salamanders geneseed, such as the Black Dragons.

There has never been any actual fluff made to link the black dragons to the salamanders. The rumour of their relatedness is pretty down the the reptillian nature of the names.

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Banjulhu said:

N0-1_H3r3 said:

 

 

Not quite. The Salamanders produced no Chapters during the Second Founding due to being severely under-strength at the time... but a number of later-founding Chapters have been created using what is believed to be the Salamanders geneseed, such as the Black Dragons.

 

 

There has never been any actual fluff made to link the black dragons to the salamanders. The rumour of their relatedness is pretty down the the reptillian nature of the names.

I'm pretty sure it's mentioned in the second Salamanders novel (which includes a few Black Dragons Battle-Brothers).

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 I always liked that GW left plenty of room for making your own chapter.

I picked Raptor Legion back in the day when the only "fluff" for them was a picture in white dwarf. Now I keep wanting to pick up the way too expensive Imperial Armour Badab War books.

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Banjulhu said:

 

N0-1_H3r3 said:

 

 

Not quite. The Salamanders produced no Chapters during the Second Founding due to being severely under-strength at the time... but a number of later-founding Chapters have been created using what is believed to be the Salamanders geneseed, such as the Black Dragons.

 

 

There has never been any actual fluff made to link the black dragons to the salamanders. The rumour of their relatedness is pretty down the the reptillian nature of the names.

 

 

Actually, both the Black Dragons and the Storm Giants Chapters are mentioned in the Index Astartes IV sourcebook on page 22 as "likely" being Salamander gene-seed successors.

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The fun thing about the Smurfs and supposedly Smurf descended legions is how it's often hinted they could well be Traitor Legion geneseed from the ones who remained pure.  And how the loyalists may have been rolled into the Ultramarines to hide their shame.

 

So when you do the math of 2/3rds of all chapters being UM descended?  And realize that it's basically 10 of 18 (or 5/9ths - just a touch more than 2/3rds) chapters worth of Geneseed?  (Or possibly 12 - thus being 3/5ths, given the two lost chapters who were wiped before the Heresy), suddenly that Math makes a lot more sense.

 

I like that possibility myself.

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The Grey Knights were founded by less than 10 total marines according to the recent codex.  At least 30 survived the Eisenstein flight alone.

 

The Deathwatch wasn't even created for a long time (But some form of predecessor likely existed)

 

And there were entire groups (Probably company or tactical squad size and everything between) of all the legions who didn't turncoat, some of the furthest afield may not even have known it was happening and ended up remaining loyal.

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Aeddon said:

 

 

Do you have a source for this? I'd be really interested in reading what material is availible on it.

 

Not sure. I have looked up lexincanum and it says there is 1 known successor which has since been disbanded (due to them being degenerate mutants... but then that's what the Space Wolves are anyway). I may simple be mistaken (though there has been at least 1). However, this doesn't prevent there being other unknown Space Wolf successors.

 

 

"Stormraven exists. It is featured in Blood Angels and Grey Knights codices."

Nope. They are purely a hideous heretical insanity being promoted by the arch-heretic Mattus Ward. No right thinking Imperial Citizen would allow such an unnecessary, ugly perversion to exist.

I refuse to admit the existence of the Stormraven. I think that 1) the model is hideous and 2) there is no need for it (its role was always carried out by Thunderhawks before and this is purely a way to get a new ugly model to sell). Same as in my 40k Dreadknights don't exist (but in their case they are not ugly... just a really un-40k Imperium idea and again totally unnecessary).

Grey Knights are probably not from the remains of Traitors. All Grey Knights are psykers and there was no prediliction for psykers (Thousand Sons aside and they were pretty much destroyed and there is little record of any "loyalist" Thousand Sons anyway, due to the way they joined the rebels). What the remaining loyalists were hinted to help found was the Inquisition (which is separate from the Grey Knights).

The reason most chapters are descended from the Ultramarines is not because "loyalist-traitor" geneseed is included in their numbers but because they were simply the largest chapter left. This meant they had the largest number of 2nd founding Chapters and with every founding this would largely remain the same as most of the chapters where geneseed was harvested from would be Ultramarine descendants. The fact they also have extremely stable geneseed also helps make them more popular. The Ultramarines started off as the largest Legion. The Raven Guard, Iron Hands and Salamanders were decimated and so produced fewer descendants, the Space Wolves were weakened (but not decimated) by the fight at Prospero and then their successor went... wonky. The Blood Angels had suffered losses at the Siege of Terra and since have been found to be flawed. The Dark Angels... well, they were in an ok state, but are apparently not the favourite choice when it comes to choosing geneseed due to the suspicion that surrounds them. The White Scars... well I don't know that much about them, but they had suffered losses at Terra. The Imperial Fists were also at Terra, and then got themselves extra beaten about in the Cage of Iron or whatever. Ultramarines on the other hand were largest to start with (I bleieve the figure is something like 200,000) and suffered the least during the heresy, and since have had few geneseed problems. No surprise at all that Ultramarine successors make up most Space Marines.

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 The reason Ultramarines are the base for most chapters is because they are the most generic chapter. So they can tell everyone: make up your own chapter, use the rules for Ultramarines. That way tabletop doesn't have to have real 'make your own chapter rules'.

It doesn't really matter that much, since I don't think even a 1/4 of the space marine chapters have officially been named. And most of those that have been have barely a passing reference. So if you want your custom chapter to come from whatever you like, go with it.

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