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Y Halo Thar.
I'm fairly new to this sector of the Internets, even though I admit I can't see why I haven't registered my shapely rear here earlier.
I started with Warhammer a bunch of years ago but eventually lost interest as puberty overtook me (Well, ain't that a female dog.) although a few years ago, Relic went and made Dawn of War. Already a huge fan of the Warhammer franchise, I relapsed back and now, well, I'm playing tabletop matches once every few weeks and just being a general Hammer-Nerd.
Enough about me, since you're not here to read my biography. This is a shortened version of a ridiculously long document I wrote about my Space Marine chapter, where I've removed some parts that might seem out of place to the more 'lorecore' crowd.
The general "jinx" of the Storm Knights is that they're loosey based on Bretonnia, my favoured Fantasy army. By "loosely", I mean "In name only". Let's face it, making up names for every planet, province and person gets boring after the 340th character...
The Storm Knights Chapter, Bulwark of the Eastern Fringe, described as investigated by Inquisitor Kaled al-Mujad of the Ordo Hereticus
Chapter Name: Storm Knights
Founding Chapter: Ultramarines
Founding Master: Gilles Bastonne of the Ultramarines 3rd Company
Fortress Monastery: Couronne upon Breton
Creed: "Whilst I draw breath the Imperium shall remain untainted by evil." (verse 2. out of 13. of the Knight's Vow, the full creed of the Storm Knights)
Battlecry: "Put your blade to the enemy, and your heart to the Imperium!" (First uttered by the third Chapter Master, Veldor Daule at the Battle of Penituli V)
Chapter Colours: Black, Blue and White
Estimated Strength: A thousand and twelve score, including the Storm Sisters. The Grail Knights number seven score.
The Storm Knights were part of the Fourth Founding in an effort to reinforce the Eastern Fringe against the innumerable hidden threats of that sector. To lead the young Chapter in such dangerous lands, an honoured Sergeant of the Ultramarines 3rd Company was selected, and he took to the task with pride and determination, swearing that the Storm Knights would uphold each and every tenet laid down by Robute Guilliman in the Codex Astartes. Wether or not the Storm Knights uphold his promise to this day is debateable, but their valour and sense of duty is equal if not greater than that of the Ultramarines from whom they descend.
The Storm Knights reside upon the world of Breton, a lush world with fields and woods covering most of the lowland, and tall, jarring mountains cutting across the landscapes. The polar regions are subarctic for most of the year, but occasionally freezes over into a less hospitable landscape. The people of Breton, the Bretonni, generally live in a medieval feudal system, with several smaller countries each governed by a Duke. The Planetary Governor is generally a member of the Storm Knights, as their wisdom and insight into extraplanetary affairs are far greater than that of the primitive Bretonni, but this is not a guarantee. In fact, the current King of Breton, as the Planetary Governor is styled, was rejected from the Storm Knights in his youth and dedicated the rest of his early life to rising in rank among his fellow Bretonni, making Knight before twenty and Duke before thirty-five.
The majority of Bretonni are farmers, eking out a living in small villages while harvesting the plentiful crops provided by the healthy land. Indeed, a welcoming, peaceful world such as Breton would not suit the recruitment needs of a Space Marine Chapter if it weren't for the aristocracy. The nobles of Breton are trained from a young age to fight with skill and honour, not to join the Storm Knights, but to become Knights in their own right. None the less, the Storm Knight recruiters often seek out the strongest and most skilled young Knights-to-Be and put them through the necessary tests to judge their character and talent. To be chosen for such a test is an honour, and should the aspiring youngling be rejected by the Space Marines, they will more or less be guaranteed their Knighthood.
Even for the Storm Knights, Breton offers many challenges for those who seek them. In the mounainous areas near the equator, where the Fortress Monastery Couronne stands vigilantly guarding their homeworld, there are beasts only the coldest, harshest and darkest peaks could produce. Many members of the Tenth Company seek out these beasts to hunt and kill in order to prove their worth to their elder brethren. Many do not make it back, either, and the practice is generally shunned by veteran Storm Knights. It is, however, not uncommon for a Marine to accompany a group of Bretonni Knights into the mountains to bring back the hide of a mountain dragon, large reptiles believed to be the result of chaotic mutations of prehistoric lizards.
Such a hide can be turned into magnificent scale-cloaks, often shimmering in the brilliant colours of the dragon who once wore it. While offering a great deal of protection, the dragonhide cloaks are rarely worn to battle by the Storm Knights because of their weight and stiffness. Indeed, the Power Armour worn by the Storm Knights offer greater protection and greater mobility, nullifying any need for the scale-cloaks. This doesn't prevent them from being worn on formal occasions, however, and often Storm Knights attending ceremonies or rituals will come adorned in their personal cloak. Seeing a full squad of Battle Brothers wearing their scale-cloaks and the long, brightly coloured robes that are Bretonni tradition is an awesome sight, and contrasts greatly with the dark Power Armour usually prefered by the Storm Knights.
Breton is well known for having some of the finest horses in the Imperium, exporting them offworld to Imperial Guard Roughrider battalions among others. Most Space Marines in the Storm Knights can handle a horse as well as they can handle their bolter, however there are few horses that can carry the full weight of a Space Marine. Instead they put their skills as riders to use upon the backs of motorcycles and jetbikes, produced by hand by their own Techmarines. The Storm Knights excel at rapid movement and close quarters fighting, but also at firing on the move, keeping themselves as flexible as any other Chapter. At longer ranges, the Storm Knights remain fearsome foes, with marksmanship skills worthy of any Space Marine, and extremely well-made weapons giving them the edge over any foe save other Space Marines.
In contrast to their medieval heritage, the Storm Knights seek and hoard knowledge of the machine. The result are some quite impressive devices of war, and a high quality to all the equipment the Storm Knights field. The most notable technical achievements of the Storm Knights are the many Dreadnoughts they field, ensuring that no brother who falls shall be without a sarcophagus to carry him to the next fight, and their main Battle Barge, The Lady of the Lake.
Storm Knights never go to the field in scarred armour if they can prevent it, prefering the shrines to the Emperor which they carry upon them to be polished and clean, showing their strength to the enemy from afar. Some mistake the shining armour of the Storm Knights to come from a lack of use and inexperience, but such a mistake is easily corrected once the Storm Knights take to battle.
The Lady of the Lake is a one of the larger Battle Barges in the Imperium, and definately one of the most heavily armed, rivalling even some of the Imperial Navy's most powerful ships in terms of raw firepower. The Captain of the Lady, Ganos Lal, insists that The Lady of the Lake would be more than a match for a Necron Tomb Ship, however fortunately he has never been given the chance to put his outlandish claim to the test. Named after the main Bretonni diety - Save, of course, the Emperor himself - The Lady of the Lake is both a shrine, a home, and a weapon to the Storm Knights. Many revere it as if it were the Lady of the Lake herself given form.
The Lady of the Lake is revered on Breton as the Goddess of nature and the world, a lifegiver and provider of food and health. The Ecclysiarchy accepts this deviance of belief as the Lady is viewed as an inferior diety to the Emperor, who protects Breton from evil through his sons, the Storm Knights. The Storm Knights themselves revere the Lady, giving thanks to her after the Emperor, but before their Primarch Robute Guilliman, in their prayers.
Because of the reverance the Bretonni hold for the Lady of the Lake, women are viewed as powerful individuals in their own right, and while they do not have the same rights to Knighthood as the noble men of Breton, many are trained to do battle none the less, serving either with the Planetary Defence Forces, the 'Men-At-Arms', or side by side with the Storm Knights themselves.
The dangers of the Eastern Fringe are many and the Space Marines few - As the Codex Astartes laid down, few more than a thousand Space Marines make up the Storm Knights Chapter at any one time. In order to provide the Storm Knights with a more sizable force to bring to the field without violating the Codex Astartes, fifth Chapter Master Brutus Maldora begun the recruitment of what he called the Storm Sisters, female warriors trained and equipped by the Storm Knights and allowed to fight alongside them as equals on the field of battle.
In theory, the Storm Sisters are Adepta Sororitas recruited from Breton and fielded as reserve units in the campaigns undertaken by the Storm Knights. In practice, the Storm Sisters are vastly superior to the Inquisitorial counterparts, recieving the same training and equipment as the Space Marines themselves. While lacking the genetic enhancements that makes a Space Marine, the Storm Sisters are formidable soldiers in their own right, capable of taking down almost any foe that one of their Battle Brothers can.
While this practice may be questioned, there is no doubt about the increased efficiency of the Storm Knights as a whole thanks to their increased numbers. Most Storm Sisters are part of the 6th and 7th Reserve Companies, however the 2nd Company holds an elite unit of its own. On two separate occasions the 1st Company has contained Storm Sisters equivalent to the Celestials of an Adepta Sororitas contingent, but only because of extraordinary circumstances. Because of the difficulty for even a true Space Marine to enter service in the 1st Company, it is unlikely that more Storm Sisters will be wearing the pearl-white armour of the 1st Company anytime soon.
The Storm Knights continue to bend the rules of the Codex Astartes to their benefit with another unconventional force, known as the Grail Knights. Not to be confused with the Grey Knights of the Ordo Malleus, the Grail Knights are still mighty warriors in their own right. Consisting of Space Marines no longer part of the Chapter due to exile, undertaken quests, or other obscure reasons, they circumvent the rule of a thousand Marines by fighting as an independent force. None the less, their home is still Couronne upon Breton, and the Storm Knights still supply them with weapons and armour. In fact, the very best weapons and armour they have available.
The Grail Knights are considered the ultimate Storm Knights, roaming the Galaxy in search of artefacts and relics, defying any number of dangers to protect the Imperium. Some are ancient technologies forgotten by the Space Marine Legions of old, while others are Eldar relics left in place to ward off an evil that no longer exists. No matter what the relics' purpose may be, the Grail Knights will fight tooth and nail to claim them for the Imperium. The hunt is only their second duty, however, and they will always answer the clarion call of the Imperium's defenders and come to battle wielding the very artefacts they have collected to devastating effect.
Because of the importance of the Grail Knights to the Chapter, the Storm Knights' Master of the Forge and his finest Techmarines will continuously maintain and produce the finest armour and weapons for them. Each Grail Knight carries his own Artificier Armour, reserved in many Chapters for Captains, Techmarines and Chaplains, and with a gauntlet-mounted Storm Bolter rains death from afar. They carry mighty Power Lances and Power Swords to battle, ensuring that they are no less fearsome in close combat than their elite brethren in the 1st Company. Their own Strike Cruiser, The Champion of the Lady, carries the Grail Knights to their search, and a large number of smaller vessels will spread them far and wide as each contingent of ten can best entire armies and shall do so in their hunt for treasure.
The Storm Knights may be deviants, but their hearts are pure, their faith is strong, and their bolters never go cold. Their openess and willingness to cooperate has been refreshing after studying other, less responsive Chapters of the Eastern Fringe, and I'm glad to be able to file such a detailed report.
Your obedient servant, Inquisitor Kaled Al-Mujad.
I'd love to hear people's opinions on this (Too much Bretonnia? Not enough? More Dakka? Less heresy? Even more Dakka?) and, preferably, some constructive criticism on the writing itself.
Questions, too, are welcome. I do, after all, live to tell the stories.
I don't think the tone is quite right for an Inquisitorial report - however radical Kaled Al-Mujad may be, I think he'd be unlikely to look on the Storm Sisters as benevolently as he does, and certainly not praise them over the Adepta Sororitas.
That said, this was a really enjoyable background to read, helped by the fact that the Storm Knights are not, in fact, the ultimate better-than-Grey-Knights destroyed-entire-Hive-Fleets conquered-a-Craftworld Marines that many players' backstories feature. There's a definite flavour (helped by the Storm Sisters and the whole feudal world concept) without it being massively out of line or contrary to the established 40k lore.
I agree with your sentiment. The "Inquisitorial report" is just something tacked on to give it a better In Universe connection. I'll blame it on that Kaled Al-Mujad has unseen reasons to give excessive praise to the Storm Knights.
As for your second paragraph, well, I take inspiration from a quote about a the Star Wars: KotOR comics;
"We've been accustomed in the past to seeing the best of the best when it comes to Jedi—the ones who blew the curve for the other kids. Zayne is the 'other kid.'"
Replace "Jedi" with "Ultramarines", "Kids" with "Chapter", and "Zayne" with "Storm Knights" and you know what I'm on about. Glad you liked it.
Firstly, I will say that I really rather like the concept.
Secondly I will say that your chapter would have decades left to live - at best. As soon as that report went back to the Inquisition others would see it and I would imagine that the Adepta Sorroritas would fall on the planet shortly after. Probably with the Ultra Marines and a few other chapters. Their mission being to exterminate the Storm Knights and the representatives of the Ecclesiarchy on the world, recover the STC for the Dreadnought and Artificer armour and pacify the population.
I think that in this planet you've created a bastion of hope and goodness - they simply aren't allowed to exist in the Imperium. Despite the fact that I reall would rather there were a couple. The major things are:
The Dreadnoughts - it's all over SM fluff that VERY few people know how to make Dreadnoughts and yet you say that every critically injured Marine in your chapter gets one? Not only would that make your chapter even further outside the Codex Astartes by making it too big, but it would draw an awful lot of attention to them, which is probably the last thing you'd want to do when you consider the next point -
The lady of the lake - it is VERY unlikely that the Ecclesiarchy would take that just because people also worship the Emperor - I think a better way around it would be to incorporate her into the imperial belief system. Why don't they personify the Emperor as the Lady? That's generally acceptable to the Ecclesiarchy and it's more realistic for the SM's to incorporate her into their belief system that way. If the Ecclesiarchy were to allow her to be worshipped the rest of the Imperium would probably see them as tainted and it wouldn't take long for them to be killed.
The lovvey-dovvey vibe - your planet all sounds very fair and knight in shining armour-ish. And that just doesn't sit well with the rest of the 40k universe. I would eaborate on the feuadal aspect of the society - because for every noble knight in shining armour feudalism produces, there's a hundred peasants living in slavery and utter squalour. If you really emphasise the fact that most of the population are slaves it would definitely take the edge off the "Excalibur" feel.
The Grail Knights - while there is a small chance that your chapter could get away with heresey and having strange technology for a little while far on the Eastern Fringe, all it would take is for one of these Grail Knights to rock up on Armageddon or Cadia waving an Eldar artifact about and he would be instantly killed by the Inquisition. The strike cruiser would be taken by the navy and the Knights would be brutally tortured until they gave up the name of their chapter and the location of Breton - then the Inquisitorial investigation would find the other things I've mentioned and it would be curtains.
I think the mistake you're making is having them too far from Imperial doctrine - they just wouldn't last in a universe where everyone is watched for the smallest signs of heresy - especially the Space Marines.
That said, I do like the incorporation of the women into the reserves and I feel that with a few tweaks you could have a very good chapter that would actually stand a chance in the C41st.
The writing style is generally ok, but there are one or two spelling and grammatical errors that could be ironed out.
Just my thoughts.
Glad to finally see some criticism. I again refer to that this is written by an unrelaible source - Obviously, like in its Fantasy counterpart, the peasants of Breton are not all happy people.
When it comes to Dreadnoughts, as far as I know, they are still constructed. That's why Venerable Dreadnoughts are, well... Venerable. And of course, being Space Marines, "every critically injured Marine" is not a very high number. They either stand or die.
I guess that's quite unclear in the text but it's part of the "knight" theme. I quote the 5th Book of Bretonnia; "A knight's honour is of utmost importance to him, and he would gladly lay down his life rather than to have his name disgraced.", which, ironically, would leave only the most dishonorable Marine clad in the sarcophagi of war. Silly justification, but I'm just trying to point out that it was a poor choice of words on my part.
Taking the Lady of the Lake as a separate diety was inspired by a short story from "Tales of the Dark Millenium", a pocket compendium of short stories based on the TCG, where an Imperial world has a "sacred river" worshipped by its inhabitants. It's stated that the Ecclysiarchy allows it as long as it's not "too much". But I see your point, and I should probably get around to making the Lady more of an aspect of the Emperor. Good advice, really.
As for the Grail Knights, I can't say they're being equipped with Master-Crafted Power Lances and Stormbolters just to replace them with Eldar relic-blades. I mean it's not World of WarCraft gear, now is it? Huhu, internal jokes.
All your points are fair and most quite good. I'll consider some of them for future retconnorama.
Well, I thought it was worth a little going over - you have what is really a rather unique and interesting idea there and I do very much like the concept! Particularly, I can really see the modelling oppertunities for your force - Grail Knights based on Grey Knight models and the Sisters of Battle for your reserves (is the way I'd go about it) - also, you could even expand into space with Battlefleet Gothic and your chapters space forces - which would be cool.
Do post up any additions or revisions, won't you? I'd like to see where the chapter goes!
Very pleased to have helped, even in a small way.
I was planning on using Grey Knights in Power Armour for the Grail Knights, and of course Sororitas as the Storm Sisters. In fact, those models largely inspired me to expand the lore just so I could use them in my army! (For the Sisters, I employ them simply as a nice looking Tactical Squad, while I'm thinking of using the Grail Knights as an alternative to Terminators (replacing their Deep Strike ability with Power Weapons and a slightly improved Invulnerable save) in custom matches with my mates.)
And we'll see about the fluff. Most likely the future works will have an entirely out-of-universe perspective on them so that I can fit in more details (For instance, collaborations with Eldar that they would never mention to an Inquisitor, and more about Breton culture).