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I finally broke down and made some marine chapter fluff. Any comments, criticisms etc are more than welcome. I -may- be trying to muddle too many archetypes into one here, I'm not sure.T H E D A R K H A N D S- "Become the beast to best annihilate it" -
The Dark Hands chapter was created in late 37th Millennium after a sharp increase in reports of Ork raids on Imperial supply worlds to the galactic west of Segmentum Tempestus. After initial creation in the halls of the Adeptus Mechanicus, they were immediately deployed as a fleet, accompanied by a Headquarters staff recruited from the Raven Guard chapter. En route to their appointed homeworld of Charlemagne they encountered a fleet of the Arch-Arsonist of Charadon and engaged in a close ship-to-ship combat, eventually closing and boarding the ships of the greenskins, wiping them out after several days of shipboard combat. In the aftermath of these engagements, the ships were filled with incendiaries before igniting them upon their exit as part of a purifying ritual authorised by the Chaplains present.
It appears that this code of practice struck a chord with the population of Charlemagne, for such "purifying" traditions have continued and diversified long after the return of the Raven Guard cadre. Indeed, rumours of pyres of mutilated Hrud corpses more than a hundred feet high abound in the Platigua sector after the chapter were called in to deal with an infestation in 478.M38. It would seem that the Dark Hands have taken their mandate of purification to heart, insisting on such practices whenever they have been observed by outsiders, and corroborated by eyewitness reports of the remains if such observation has not occurred.
The Dark Hands have developed a reputation for being able to deal well with particularly savage or animalistic adversaries. It was for this reason that they were called across the galaxy to assist in the controlling of the Hrud migration on Chinchare. The chapter dealt with the infestation with their customary efficiency, although it is said that the locals now fear the night there because of the howling giants that stalk the former warrens.
Charlemagne is a world bursting with life, with most of the planet's surface covered in tropical jungle. This has meant that food is in plentiful supply, but is difficult to procure due to the many predators the planet is home to, a reality that has lead to the hunting party replacing the family as the prime social unit. These hunters are by and large nomadic, as they have to go where the food is, although there are some small settled communities that have pacts of mutual assistance with certain hunting tribes, and a small amount of offworld trade in exotic meats has developed. These communities are constantly on edge, because as well as the need for defence against predators, night-time disappearances are common.
Their fortress-monastery is located in the south polar region of the planet, although its exact location is unknown. It is a place where even the boldest hunting brave will not go. Locals claim it is a place of angry spirits, and an area for several miles around is staked out with corpses that are human, or nearly so. Whatever other injuries they may have, all bear the same scarring pattern: a crude bird carved into the chest, and the shoulderblades exposed. This bears a resemblance to local mythology of the Emperor being an all-seeing eagle and those who die rising on wings of their own to join him, and would seem to be the work of the Dark Hands.
The chapter seems to recruit from the hunting parties on Charlemagne, with chaplains walking in the wilds for months at a time before finding a native hunting party to set upon. Any young men among them who fight with particular skill and strength are taken by the chaplain to the fortress-monastery for further training and organ implantation. Any who try to follow are killed.
On arrival to the fortress-monastery, new recruits are taken by the chaplain up two miles of stairs to the apothecarium chambers atop the Claw, as the Dark Hands call their monastery. Any who falter on the way are dispatched and join their kin outside the monastery on a stake of their own. Those that make it are implanted with the biscopea, haemastamen and the chapter's mutated preomnor-omophagea-neuroglottis triumvirate organ, and are released. The apothecary then tries to force the recruit into a cage wired with intravenous feeding tubes. Any who meekly go into the cage are killed and staked, their organs re-harvested for a worthier candidate. Those who fight are eventually bludgeoned into the cage, and attached to the tubes. During the next twelve hours, they are intravenously fed a compound of proteins and animal blood which stimulate the biscopea and the triumvirate to action. The recruit is then taken down through the chapter's Great Hall where they are left on a circular dais and instructed to wrestle other hopefuls of it. Any recruit who does not last at least ten minutes against his opponent is sent back to the apothecarium for organ harvesting and execution.
Those that survive are welcomed down to the tables of the Great Hall, where they eat until they can eat no more, and are left to sleep on the floor, tables and chairs of the hall. They are then drugged and taken up to the apothecarium to finish the orthodox organ implantation over a period of days, during which time the new brave is confined to his cage.
After this, all braves are periodically led down to the chambers underneath the Claw, where they are introduced to their assigned group, which will include the brave they wrestled in the Great Hall and is led by an experienced battle-brother (their Huntmaster), who partakes in all their rituals. They are then all instructed to shed their blood into a collective cup, from which all drink in turn. After each individual take their draught, they are each renamed after a creature that is either native to Charlemagne or the chapter has fought.
The group is then considered ready for the field of battle, in the role that their Huntmaster chooses for them, and are considered full members of the chapter.
The Dark Hands deviate significantly from the teachings of the Codex Astartes, as each pack is effectively its own independent, close-knit fighting unit. This means that any Dark Hands force of significant numbers has to be a coalition of different tactical minds and abilities. It also fosters a significant respect among those serving under a particular Hunt Caller, as no Huntmaster will be willing to serve under a Caller who he believes to be inept or unlucky.
There is a nominal Chapter Headquarters, formed of various Hunt Callers that have a significant number of victories to their name. This does not mean that the bond forged between the Caller and his original Pack are broken, on the contrary any Caller who does so is considered by most of the chapter to have broken an immense bond of trust, and will most likely be shunned by them.
Other positions within the Chapter Headquarters are recruited from the mass of the Hunts, and are broken away from them in order to learn their craft. They are seen as the epitome of the Dark Hand ideal of the self-sufficient warrior, and may join whatever Hunt they please, although it is likely they will join with warriors that have proven themselves, as they would not wish to sully their position by associating with a failure.
It is the Skymasters, or the masters of the Dark Hands' fleet that hold the real power in the chapter. Without their acceptance to be onboard their craft, no Hunts can get offworld, or return home. This means that various Hunts that have displeased the Skymasters are either confined to Charlemagne or are left on the world where they last fought until they die. Skymasters are revered by all the Dark Hands, and to be considered worthy for the position is the highest honour in the chapter.
The Dark Hands' beliefs about the Emperor have developed to differ little from the natives of Charlemagne. They no longer see the Emperor as a god, but their understanding of his mastery of the Warp and so on afford him the place of the highest thing Humanity can aspire to.
They see combat as the best way to please the Emperor, although they believe that they are not close to his standards by any means. They see themselves more as something completely different, a holy and necessary part of war, but something hellish all the same. As the Imperium finds it hard to counter things that are close to the best it has to offer, so they reason that aliens will find it hard to counter things that are like their best. And so the chapter endeavours to become as bestial as they can in their duties to exterminate the alien from the galaxy. They will go to extremes to do this, and drugs and other psychosis-inducing practices are common, and even encouraged to some extent by the apothecaries.
The predilection for savagery-enhancing treatments in the chapter has led to an emphasis on close-quarter fighting among the Hunts. While long-range Hunts are known, they are rare and generally not seen as possessing the necessary savagery necessary to kill the alien beasts that surround Humanity.
Due to the self-sufficient nature of the Hunts, many favour guerrilla tactics as they require no other Hunts to be involved in order to be effective. This may have originally been a hangover from the Raven Guard tactical doctrine, but it has evolved slightly; instead of delicate insertion, Dark Hands attacks are overwhelming at certain points; they do not stop until all resistance is destroyed, regardless of the objective. Whether this is due to the drug practices of the chapter is unclear, but it has proved an invaluable diversionary element to several attacks on enemy strongholds, most notably the ending of the siege of the Apostate Cardinal of Helke in 790.M39, where a single Hunt of Dark Hands managed to infiltrate the walls of the Cardinal's stronghold and methodically hacked through the whole of the Cardinal's defence forces that were diverted into the walls' tunnels to deal with them after they destroyed the fortress' main power generator, allowing the Novamarines 3rd company to successfully storm the fortress gate.
The geneseed of the Dark Hands is heavily mutated, the most notable result being the amalgamation of the preomnor, omophagea and neuroglottis into a single organ. This is large, and occupies the majority of the marine's lower back, creating a possible weakness that the black carapace may not account for.
There is also the possibility of abnormalities in the biscopea and the other organs implanted before the selection process is complete; given that the organs have the possibility of being stimulated multiple times before being allowed to fully develop a recruit's body. The effects of such a practice are unknown, but possibly dangerous, although the most recent purity scans have not shown any deterioration.
Nothing specific has been noted, each Hunt appears to have its own, based off the highly guttural language of Charlemagne if they are intelligible at all.
Nice, I'm really getting the 'barbarian' vibe, though I think you could have taken it further.
Nonetheless, the fluff is very awesome. An idea would be to add some info on the leading figures and characters in the chapter, just so we get an idea of what they're like.
Wow, two decent chapters in two days, we're on a roll. I must say this is another well thought out one. And one that has been responsibly worked over. A cookie to you dude, a cookie to you.
Nevermore Chapter: 6200 pts; 97/49/11; Longest Streak: 9 Wins/4 Losses; Nearing Completion
Great. That's all I can say. Although it would be nice to point out some notable characters in the Chapter: Chapter Master, Recclusiarch, Leader Librarian, ect.
"What is Mercy? Does it taste Nice?" Hive Tyrant on Reth V
"Kill-kill! Death to the Enemies of the Horned Rat!" Warlord Bweekq at the Battle of Hrad
I can't say I've seen it all but I live for the things that keep me hollow.
I really like your chapter's theme. it seems more feral than even the space wolves.
One problem, though. if the skymasters leave marines on planets 'till they die, what becomes of the power armor? most chapters are willing to sacrifice more marines to retrive a set of power armor