Monday, November 11, 2013

Relictors and Helmets

            Hopefully we can all agree that Warhammer 40,000 is a fantasy game.  Not in the lizard men-and- elves-and-dragons way, but in the sense that it has little grounding in science.  It has some of the trappings of sci-fi, but they’re all there to set the mood more than help create a sense of plausibility.
            As such, I understand the inherent flaws of the world, since it is more about the game than about believability.  The Imperium has miles-long spaceships that can decimate planets and massive war-robots that can level cities, yet we routinely send out guys with swords and pistols to fight our enemies hand to hand.  Many folks have pointed out the silliness in this.

            It’s also been brought up (although not quite as often) that the idea of un-helmeted Space Marines doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Power armor is the very high-end of personal protection.  It enhances the wearer’s strength and senses, not to mention providing a pile of tactical information.  And a lot of time and work goes into making a Space Marine.  You think you’d want to protect that investment from, say, some kid with a rock and a sling...

            All that being said, I recognize that a lot of models look very cool with their helmets off.  And it does fit with some of the more savage and feral chapters like the Space Wolves, White Scars, or Blood Angels.  So I’d never mock anyone for an un-helmeted marine. Even for a lot of them.

           Anyway, all that was tickling at the back of my head when I first started assembling my Relictors army.  I’d had a bunch of marines kind of kicking around, but couldn’t settle on a Chapter that really appealed to me.  Then White Dwarf 295 came out and I was hooked.  My friends saw the article and even they said “that’ll be his chapter.”

            I had about thirty-odd Relictors painted up when I realized that, by odd chance, not one of them had an exposed head.  It was just what I’d built in the past and what I’d picked when I started assembling the army.  But I really liked it, and decided early on that the Relictors would always wear helmets—everyone from the newest marine to the Chapter Master and every rank in between.

            It was only later that I realized this also gave them a sinister edge.  Since so many marines are modeled or drawn with bare heads, there’s something a bit off-putting about a group of marines that don’t show anything.  And I realized it’s not that the Relictors aren’t showing their faces... it’s the subtle, underlying message that they’re hiding something.

            Now if GW would just make a helmeted Librarian again...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Relictors Organization

Despite some of their more controversial weapons choices, I think the Relictors are pretty much a Codex chapter.  Sources say at least part of their gene-seed comes from Ultramarines stock.  As such, I’ll probably be playing them as an Ultramarines successor chapter in sixth edition, and I think their organization reflects that overall.

That being said, there’s also some switches and changes, and it makes sense to me that the Relictors should be a  They’re really close to being a mainstream chapter, but there are a few places where they just don’t line up.  So I thought I’d jot down a few notes and thoughts about where I think they’d be different and how those differences might reflect—stylistically—in my actual army and army lists.

The biggest difference between the Relictors and a regular Space Marine chapter is the Conclave.  According to the various fluff, the Conclave is a sort of “inner circle” of the Relictors.  A close analogue would be the Mournival, Horus’s group of commanders and captains before the Heresy (no irony there).  The Conclave is made up of the high-ranking officers and veterans who actually use Chaos artifacts.  The idea is that the rank-and-file don’t know where the chapter’s powerful relics come from, and those marines are kept far away until they’ve proven themselves physically/mentally/spiritually strong enough to use them without risk of corruption
So, with that in mind, let’s consider basic chapter structure.  Veterans are generally “above” regular Marines and Scouts, and Captains and command squads are above them.  There also seems to be a hierarchy among companies—that the First Company commander is considered a bit higher up the chain than the Sixth Company commander, for example.  This gave me a good sense of which members of the Relictors are a bit more mainstream and which are probably members of the Conclave (with all that implies).

For modeling purposes, I decided that the Chapter Master and the first five company captains probably made up the Conclave.  Their assorted honor guards and command squads were probably included as well.  And it wouldn’t be that unusual to see some lesser Chaos weapons scattered throughout the First Company, too.  This was where future Captains and command squads would most likely come from, after all.

This also meant a bit of shuffling and tweaks when it came to titles and duties.  If I accept a ranking of the different Captains, for example, it doesn’t make sense that the Master of Relics would be the Ninth Company commander.  Not within the Relictors, anyway.  So I restructured the titles like so.

            First Company—Master of Secrets
            Second Company—Master of the Vault*
            Third Company—Master of the Arsenal
            Fourth Company—Master of the Fleet
            Fifth Company—Master of Relics
            Sixth Company—Master of the Rites *
            Seventh Company—Master of the Hunt *
            Eighth Company—Lord Executioner *
            Ninth Company—Master of the Marches *
            Tenth Company – Master of Recruits

The asterisks mark positions that are, shall we politely say, currently open.  Since the Inquisition’s censure of—and completely unwarranted attack on—the Relictors, the chapter has been notably under-strength.  While I have full faith that their name will be cleared in the near future (if the world of the game ever gets there...), for now they’ll remain low in numbers and with few recruits or Scouts.  So, as much fun as it would be to build a full chapter, I think I’ll be building toward this idea.

I also decided to swap the company colors for the first and fifth companies, making the First Company black/ebonite and the fifth company white/silver.  I liked the idea that Relictors would get a bit darker as they advanced toward the Conclave.  Combined with my decision to leave everyone helmeted, it gave the Chapter a dark edge... which was kind of perfect.  This also carried over to veterans and veteran sergeants, of course.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First Signs...

And, in what is surely a poor marketing decision, my first post will be directing you to my other page, In The Grim Cheapness of the Future.  It's all about trying to do things on the cheap in this ever-more-expensive wargaming hobby.  And last week I took some scavenged bits from a few lines and put together a Space Marine captain.

To be specific, it was Relictors fourth company Captain Daedalus, the Master of the Fleet.  According to most fluff, this means he should be armed with a thunder hammer, a symbol of the massive firepower he can call down.  But he is a Relictors captain—a high ranking one, too—so there should be a bit of a Chaos influence in his weaponry.  There’s a good chance he’s part of the Conclave, after all.

So you can see how I did all that here...