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I have always loved the witch hunters, and after reading the codex, it occurred to me that the army list is incredibly diverse- almost too diverse to fit into a single army. On the one hand, you have the sisters- the living embodiment of sanctified purity, and on the other hand, you have the arcoflagellants, penitent engines and sisters repentia, all of whom are sinners, fallen from the Emperor's grace. The solution, for me was to create two armies instead of one. In times of great peril, of course, both armies work together, but just as often, one or the other will be sufficient for the task at hand. Here then is their story.
Escutcheon III is a world whose significance has faded into obscure Imperial history in the centuries following the martyrdom of the great Saint Katherine. In the early days of the crusades which followed Goge Vandire's reign of terror, the planet was amongst the greatest of the shrine worlds, for it was on Escutcheon III that Katherine's Sainthood was bestowed upon her. The great Chapel of Katherine's Aegis was built to celebrate her apotheosis; Katherine had been the shield bearer for Dominica, the first of the Living Saints of the Adepta Sororitas, and thus the Ecclesiarchy had seen fit to name her chapel Aegis to comemorate the shield she had borne so faithfully to battle at her lady's side.
Thousands of Imperial pilgrims gathered at the Chapel of Saint Katherine's Aegis to see its patron crowned in the wreath of Fleurs de Lys that signified her sainthood. Even after Saint Katherine herself was called away to continue her service in the crusades, the pilgrims continued to come in such great numbers that a full Perceptory of the Order of the Fiery Heart was established to safeguard the chapel and to keep the Emperor's peace as the population of the planet swelled.
So great were the responsibilities of the Living Saints of the Adepta Sororitas that it is believed that Katherine herself visited the chapel only once after the ceremony in her honour. When Dominica fell in battle, first and holiest of the Emperor's martyred daughters, few of the Sororitas at her side escaped a similar fate. It was Saint Katherine who broke the enemy battle line and secured for her sisters their retreat, but she herself did not follow. Instead, she returned to her lady's side, to lay claim to the sacred arms she had borne to battle a thousand times.
In the aftermath of that terrible battle, Dominica's sacred sword was recovered and taken home as a holy relic to the Convent Sanctorum on Ophelia VII. The shield, however, was never recovered. Though Imperial records are vague, there is evidence to suggest that it was borne once more by Saint Katherine to rest somewhere beneath the chapel to which it had given its name.
Shortly thereafter, Katherine herself was martyred at the hands of the witch cult of Mnestteus, and the Fiery Heart became the Order of Our Martyred Lady. And as the years turned to decades, any memories of the shield beneath the chapel faded, and the number of sisters left behind to safeguard the chapel dwindled as more and more duties passed to the priests of the ecclesiarchy. As the decades became centuries, scarcely a Commandery of sisters remained.
So too had the offspring of the pilgrims turned away from the Emperor's light. Not all became heretics and criminals, of course, but the days of universal faith had faded as Saint Katherine's Aegis fell into neglect. In M39, Imperial decree established the Adeptus Arbites Precinct Fortress 17 to assist with the governance of Escutcheon III. Where the small Commandery of sisters found themselves unable to maintain order, the Adeptus Arbites brought law to the lawless. Under the guidance of the ecclesiarchy, many of these criminals where given an opportunity to earn their repentance as arcoflegellants and even the mighty penitent engines.
Finally, in the later years of M41, a group of sisters became exposed to the infernal powers during a prolonged investigation of cult activity. While the Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus could find no overt taint of heresy upon them, it was deemed that they should be separated from their sisters to walk the path of the repentia, lest their knowledge of the infernal come to taint the chapel which bore their patron's name. And so the sisters repentia came to be confined within the cold walls of Precinct Fortress 17, and the penitent legion of the Adeptus Arbites was at last complete.
And there you have it. I'd like to thank all the people who played the games that brought this history to life; this document was not merely written, it was fought in dozens of battles in every scale from kill team to 40K to Apocalypse and even Battlefleet Gothic. Both the Penitent Legion of Precinct 17 and the Commandery of St. Katherine's Aegis will continue to battle in the Emperor's name and bring cleansing fire to the witch, the heretic and the mutant, where ever he may hide.
Last edited by IofRaw; December 7th, 2009 at 17:41.
Some quite well thought out background, there. And I like the way it has evolved from your battles, too, not just been built up from a single idea.
I did see your thread over in the Witch Hunter's forum, too. The dual army is an interesting idea, and certainly gives you a lot of flexibility.
You don't happen to have any pictures of your army, do you?
I have some pics of the army as it was developing, but I'm between functional digital cameras right now, so I haven't been able to take any in a while. I'll search through my archives and see what I can find- should be able to post something later tonight.
Okay, I just put some pictures and descriptions up in the gallery. Be gentle- I'm really not that much of a painter- more of a player and storyteller. Still, I am proud of the volume of painting here. I have more models for both armies that I'm currently working on, but aside from being a mediocre painter, I'm a slow painter. I'll update the photos as I add more models.
(Note: All of these minis are actually WIP; my goal was to get the army playable first, then worry about basing and washes and highlights and stuff)
Here's the link:
Witch Hunters of Escutcheon III
Last edited by IofRaw; December 8th, 2009 at 21:24.
From what I can see it all looks pretty good. I can't see fine details with the images you've posted anyway, so I'm in no position to judge your merits as a painter!
I kind of like the contrast, actually - the bright, colourful sisters and the more subdued tones of the Precinct forces. It all comes together fairly well!
Thanks for sharing those, most kind of you.
Edit: Eh, I can't rep you at the moment, it seems.
Feedback is more important than rep (although I like that too), so thanks for the response. I have some other minis on the go that I haven't had a chance to finish; I have two five man Adeptus Arbites squads- one has four bolters and a heavy bolter and the other has three guys with shotguns and two with suppression shields and power mauls. These guys are kind of rough for me, because there aren't official rules to support them, unless I do what I did with my Precinct HQ and use the rules for inquisitors and retinue.
The other models are my armoured corps- two rhinos for the Arbites (I need more of the eagle pieces from the Sanctorum Imperialis kit for the conversions- 4 per tank, and I only have 3 atm); an inquisitorial rhino (another conversion which has a pair of chirurgeons overseeing the excrutiation of a heretic on the upper deck) and last but not least, an exorcist for the Commandery.
Anyway, I'll update as the new models roll of the line, or as the story of Escutcheon III continues to evolve.