- "Join me, brothers, and we will make the minions of the undying Emperor pay for the lies and betrayal they have dealt us!"
- — Skyrar, Master of the Thirst for Vengeance
This is a guide for those who wish to create their own Fanon Chaos Space Marine Warband. Listed below are some tips of what to do and not to do, when creating a canon-friendly Chaos Warband or Renegade Space Marine Chapter, and hopefully help you to avoid the pitfalls and cliches that often plague many such articles.
It is suggested that you use this guide along with the Chaos Space Marine Warband Template
- 1 Background
- 2 The Traitor Legions
- 3 The Black Crusades
- 4 Before Beginning
- 5 What are Chaos Space Marines?
- 6 Chaos Warbands
- 7 Renegade Demeanours
- 8 Creation of New Chaos Marines
- 9 Creating a Warband
- 10 Warband Organisation
- 11 Home World
- 12 Favoured Combat Tactics
- 13 Background
- 14 Allies & Enemies
- 15 Current Status
- 16 Warband Livery
- "The hand of the Traitor struck,
And hell followed with it..."
- — The Apocrypha Terra
Ten thousand years ago, Horus, Warmaster of the Imperium and most trusted 'son' of the Emperor, was corrupted to the service of Chaos. Besides the Space Marine Legion under his direct command, the Sons of Horus, eight of his brother-Primarchs and their legions also joined him in rebellion against the Emperor. Angered, hurt, and betrayed, they took up arms against their father, and tore the Imperium asunder with civil war. Though the Emperor's vast armies were triumphant in the end, the Dark Gods rewarded those who followed Horus.
The galaxy-wide conflict only ended when Horus was slain at the hands of the Emperor of Mankind during the final epic battle of the Heresy, during the Siege of Terra. With the Warmaster's death the rebellion was broken and the defeated Traitor Legions were hounded into the hellish realms of the Eye of Terror, which remains both their prison and sanctuary to this day.
The Eye of Terror
Within the confines of the hellish zone of the galaxy known as the Eye of Terror, the banished Chaos Space Marines, along with their exiled allies and slaves, have created their own Imperium of Chaos. In the most Chaos-saturated region of the galaxy, few in the ten thousand years of their exile have escaped mutation in some form.
Within the Eye, the legions fight among themselves for gene-seed, resources, slaves, or for the greater glory of the Chaos Gods. The legions however are far more driven by their hatred of the Imperium than by internecine rivalry. From the Eye the forces of Chaos Marines emerge to exact their vengeance upon the Imperium, continuing "the long war" begun ten thousand years ago.
Chaos incursions range from the small scale but brutal raids which can occur anywhere in the galaxy, to the apocalyptic Black Crusades led by the Warmaster of Chaos, Abaddon the Despoiler, when the forces of Chaos in all its forms unite to batter the fortress worlds close to the Eye.
Inevitably, during the ten thousand years following the Heresy, entire chapters of once loyal Space Marines have fallen to Chaos; some have joined the Legions in the Eye of Terror, while others have gone to other areas of Chaos, such as the Maelstrom, or have stayed in the Material realm, continuing their unholy war against their former brethren.
The Traitor Legions
After the death of Horus at the hands of the Emperor, the remnants of the nine Traitor Legions fled, along with the other Traitor Imperial forces that now served Chaos, into the Eye of Terror. Due to the nature of Chaos, and the temporal instability of the Warp, many of the very same Chaos Space Marines who revolted against the Emperor more than 10 millennia ago continue to fight against the Imperium today, having effectively been granted a tortured immortality by the will of the Ruinous Powers.
Though the Legion remains alive to the Chaos Marines as an identifying concept, in reality all of the Chaos Legions have over time been scattered into separate war bands following rival Chaos Champions; these warbands are roughly equivalent to the Renegade Chapters which have abandoned the Imperium.
The Traitor Legions have kept their old names, with the exception of the Sons of Horus who were renamed the Black Legion by their new leader, Abaddon the Despoiler, once Horus' chief lieutenant and the First Captain of the Luna Wolves before he followed Horus into damnation. Besides Horus, two other Traitor Primarchs were killed during or shortly after the Heresy (Alpharius of the Alpha Legion and Konrad Curze of the Night Lords). The six surviving Traitor Primarchs have since been transformed into Daemon Princes by the Chaos Gods. These daemonic Primarchs rarely take part in the affairs of their Legions. Four of the Traitor Legions have pledged a singular loyalty to one of the great Chaos Gods. while the others serve the interests of Chaos as a whole in the form of Chaos Undivided. Due to the nature of Chaos and those who choose to serve it, not long after the end of the Heresy the Traitor Legions, save for the Word Bearers, largely stopped operating as unified military organisation and instead devolved into a series of separate and often competing warbands. The Traitor Marines who command these warbands, all potent Chaos Champions, seek their own personal glorification and the eventual opportunity to become Daemon Princes in their own right by earning victories in the cause of Chaos.
Each of the 9 Astartes Traitor Legions fights using a different style of warfare that is defined by their Legion's culture and nature; also, 4 of the 9 -- the Emperor's Children, the World Eaters, the Thousand Sons and the Death Guard -- are dedicated specifically to the service of one of the four major Chaos Gods, Slaanesh, Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle, respectively. The other five Traitor Legions essentially serve the interests of all of the Ruinous Powers collectively in the form of Chaos Undivided.
The 9 Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions who joined the rebellion of the Warmaster Horus against the Emperor, fully one half of the Space Marine Legions created during the First Founding are (in order of their Founding):
|Legion Number||Primarch||Legion||Loyalty||Primarch Status||Iconography|
|III||Fulgrim||Emperor's Children||Traitor (Slaanesh)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|IV||Perturabo||Iron Warriors||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|VIII||Konrad Curze (Night Haunter)||Night Lords||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Dead|
|XII||Angron||World Eaters||Traitor (Khorne)||Alive (Daemon Prince) Currently banished to the Warp|
|XIV||Mortarion||Death Guard||Traitor (Nurgle)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|XV||Magnus the Red||Thousand Sons||Traitor (Tzeentch)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|XVI||Horus Lupercal||Luna Wolves||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Dead|
|XVII||Lorgar Aurelian||Word Bearers||Traitor (Chaos Undivided)||Alive (Daemon Prince)|
|XX||Alpharius Omegon||Alpha Legion||Traitor (Chaos Undivided), possibly still Loyal||Unknown|
III Legion: Emperor's Children
The Emperor's Children were one of the earliest of the Space Marine Legions to declare itself for Horus and his Traitors, fighting at his side against its own Loyalists during the Istvaan III Atrocity and against the Loyalist Legions during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. The IIIrd Legion and its Primarch Fulgrim had been corrupted following its encounter with the Slaanesh-worshipping xenos race known as the Laer and their world of Laeran late in the Great Crusade. The rot spread quickly through the Legion, and the Emperor’s Children embraced Chaos, particularly the Prince of Pleasure, in all its depravity. Little trace can now be seen of the original armour and equipment of the Emperor’s Children, covered as it is by skins of iridescent fur or scales, jewels, or the fantastical renderings of screaming faces or rutting beasts. The Emperor’s Children fight for sensation and sensory overload, bringing a clashing cacophony of sound, colour, and energy to the battlefield.
IV Legion: Iron Warriors
The Iron Warriors once formed the Emperor’s legion of siege troops. They fought on a hundred worlds in the Great Crusade, laying siege to alien citadels and the palaces of Heretics with equal gusto. The Iron Warrior’s Primarch, Perturabo, excelled in the arts of siege and trench warfare above all else, and his treatise on fortifications and their reduction formed the basis of several sections of the Tactica Imperialis. The Iron Warriors betrayed the Emperor on Istvaan V, their mazes of bunkers and razor wire becoming a death trap for their Loyalist brethren instead of the sanctuary they promised to be. The Iron Warriors wear relatively unadorned armour that is commonly pieced together from the older marks for its heavier frontal protection. They favour heavy weaponry like Lascannons or Missile Launchers for long-range engagements, although well-equipped Iron Warriors Assault Squads are also rightly feared. The Iron Warriors also possess the highest number of Obliterators amongst the Traitor Legions.
VIII Legion: Night Lords
Led by their saturnine Primarch, Konrad Curze (also known the Night Haunter) the Night Lords were greatly feared even before the Heresy. Curze believed in the use of terror as a weapon and his foes quickly learned to fear the night. The Night Lords were one of the first Legions to join Horus' rebellion, turning on what they saw as a weak-willed Emperor incapable of having the strength to lead. Even after the Warmaster's defeat, the Night Lords have continued to wage an unremitting campaign of terror against the Imperium. The Night Lords refuse to follow any of the Chaos Gods, and have become cynical, hard-bitten, and frighteningly ruthless warriors. They fight for the pleasure of it, and for the material rewards it can bring, and not for the worship of some deity. They look down upon their more dedicated brethren, whether they are fanatical Chaos Space Marines like the World Eaters, or zealous Loyalist Space Marines like the Dark Angels.
XII Legion: World Eaters
Under the Primarch Angron, the World Eaters underwent psycho-surgery that transformed an already fierce legion into bloodthirsty berserkers through the use of cortical implants known as the Butcher's Nails pioneered on their Primarch's homeworld of Nuceria. When they betrayed the Imperium, it was of little surprise that the vast majority dedicated themselves to Khorne. The XIIth Legion fractured after the Heresy, scattering into many small warbands across the galaxy that frequently serve as mercenaries to other Chaos commanders. As is fitting to their patron God, the World Eaters wear armour as red as arterial blood, edged with brass and decorated with skulls and symbols of Khorne. Most disdain long-ranged warfare, preferring to close with the enemy to kill them with Chainaxe, Power Sword, and (if need be) Bolt Pistols.
XIV Legion: Death Guard
The Death Guard's sense of loyalty to the Warmaster and their Primarch Mortarion, triumphed over their duty to the Emperor on distant Terra, and so, they unknowingly followed both into damnation. The rebel Death Guard Legion was marooned in the Warp during the long journey to Terra to join the attack on the Imperial Palace. A mysterious, unstoppable contagion spread through the trapped fleet, putrefying all it touched. Mortarion himself became infected and in his delirium he called upon the Powers of Chaos to aid his Space Marines. Mortarion’s fevered ravings were answered by Nurgle, and Mortarion became Nurgle’s foremost mortal Chaos Champion and eventually his Daemon Prince. The Death Guard survived but they continue to bear the marks of Nurgle's first blessings upon them. Their once-white armour became stained and cracked where the bubbling foulness of their mortal bodies had erupted to the surface. They bear the three-lobed mark of Nurgle rendered as flies or rotting heads upon banners and shoulder guards. Their Bolters and Chainswords are caked with filth and rust but are no less deadly. The Death Guard favor the use of heavy infantry, and are notorious for their brutality. Plague and contagion have become the Death Guard’s primary weapons and they can be found anywhere in the galaxy spreading Nurgle's foul blessings.
XV Legion: Thousand Sons
The path to damnation for the Thousand Sons Legion of Space Marines was longer than most, but its final plunge more complete than any. Even before the Horus Heresy the Sons' cyclopean Primarch Magnus the Red led his sons in the study of arcane lore and the practice of sorcery despite the Emperor’s disapproval and the outright ban on such practices at the Council of Nikaea. When Horus gathered his forces the Thousand Sons tried to use their occult powers to warn the Emperor of the Warmaster's betrayal. The Emperor did not trust Magnus's warnings, disbelieving that Horus would betray Him, and seeing that Magnus had disobeyed him by using sorcery, He ordered the Thousand Sons' Primarch to be taken captive and brought in chains to Terra to answer for his disobedience. Leman Russ and the Space Wolves Legion were sent to escort the Thousand Sons' Primarch to Terra, but their mission was altered by Horus, which saw the destruction of their home world Prospero. To survive and protect their accumulated wisdom, the Thousand Sons sought the patronage of the Chaos Power Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways, greatest master of magic among the Chaos Gods. During the terrible battle known as the Burning of Prospero, Tzeentch transported Magnus and his surviving sons to the Daemon World in the Eye of Terror called the Planet of the Sorcerers. The surviving Thousand Sons have since been split by internal schisms, their pursuit of occult knowledge estranging them from each other and even their cyclopean Daemon Primarch. A cabal of renegade Sorcerers led by their once-Chief Librarian Ahriman unleashed a great sorcerous spell, known as the Rubric of Ahriman upon the Legion in order to prevent further mutation and corruption of its members by Chaos. This mighty spell reduced most of the Thousand Sons to soulless suits of animated armour known as Rubric Marines, but left the surviving Sorcerers unmatched in power.
XVI Legion: Black Legion
In the First Founding the XVIth Legion was created as the Luna Wolves. The Emperor subsequently allowed his favoured son Horus to rename the Legion "the Sons of Horus" in recognition of his accomplishments in the Ullanor Crusade and in honour of its Primarch. The Sons of Horus willingly followed their beloved Primarch and Warmaster into rebellion, fighting at the very forefront of his most important campaigns. The Sons of Horus stood out as the elite of the Chaos armies, with a very aggressive and efficient method of war -- the fielding of elite and specialised units to destroy enemy command and isolate divisions from one another -- methods upheld by the legion still. During the Heresy massive recruitment of new marines from Cthonia occurred, giving the legion numerical superiority to most legions as well. When Horus was defeated by the Emperor at the Battle of Terra, the Legion's morale and pride was shattered. After their defeat, the Black Legion and their fellow Traitor Legions were driven into the hellish realm of the Eye of Terror by the vengeful Imperial forces. Soon, the Sons of Horus lost their primacy as the preeminent legion, as the Legion Wars ensued. This conflict marked the final collapse of unity between the Chaos-corrupted Space Marine Legions that had fought unified under the banner of Horus Lupercal during the Horus Heresy. In their despair the Sons of Horus gave themselves to the worship of one Chaos Power after another, and lost many of their number through possession and madness. The legion as a whole broke up after the events on Maeleum and now is largely fleet-based, with several bastions within the Eye. The Black Legion was formed shortly afterwards under the strong leadership of Abaddon the Despoiler, the First Captain of the Sons of Horus, who claimed Horus' mantle as the Warmaster of Chaos Undivided. Now all the leaders of the Black Legion warbands will, in varying degrees, answer to. As the Black Legion, the former Sons of Horus repainted their Legion colours to black in memory and permanent mourning of their fallen Primarch. The Black Legion is also known to recruit members from other Legions, bully them into alliances, demand tithes, and absorb renegades from newly formed chaos warbands. In this way, the Black Legion has become the largest ilk of Chaos Space Marines, and has reclaimed is status of primacy among them. Possessed, Chaos Terminators, and Chosen, have a strong presence in the legion, corroborating their elite disposition. Its hardened survivors lead warbands against the Imperium to this day, eager to expunge the bitter memory of Horus' defeat.
XVII Legion: Word Bearers
Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers Legion, was a scrupulous and dedicated follower of the Imperial Cult, and in many ways was the founder of the religion of Emperor-worship called the Lectitio Divinitatus that would one day become the Adeptus Ministorum. He led his XVIIth Legion in the building of vast monuments and immense rituals during the Great Crusade to secure the faith of those that were conquered in the God-Emperor. The Emperor rejected Lorgar’s efforts however, telling him that he needed his Space Marines to fight, not worship and to serve the secular Imperial Truth which disdained all religion and superstition. Lorgar's disillusionment with the Emperor's impiety drove him to worship of the Chaos Powers during the Pilgrimage of Lorgar undertaken some 43 standard years before the start of the Horus Heresy, entities that truly demanded worship and sacrifice from their followers. When Horus raised his banner the Word Bearers, who had largely driven Horus into corruption by Chaos from behind the scenes, eagerly followed him into rebellion along with a thousand hidden Chaos Cults they had established on the worlds they had brought into Imperial Compliance in the last days of the Great Crusade. The Word Bearers' fanatical zealotry has become dedicated to the worship of Chaos in its purest form, unadulterated by the veneration of any particular Chaos Power over the others. In battle the Word Bearers are known to summon daemons en masse, using them as a horde of deadly effective infantry troops while their Chaos Space Marines execute specific objectives. They are the only Traitor Legion that still maintains the rank of Chaplain, the darkly twisted individuals holding this office now known as Dark Apostles, and leading their brethren in heretical prayers and insane catechisms. Immense cathedrals and rune-etched monuments still rise in the wake of the Word Bearer’s conquests, but now they are blasphemous dedications to the glory that is Chaos.
XX Legion: Alpha Legion
The Alpha Legion was the twentieth and final Legion created in the First Founding. During the Great Crusade the XXth Legion earned renown for its strict discipline and organization. The Alpha Legion strove hard to outshine its brethren in all things and prove their worthiness to be among the older Legions. The war-lust of the Alpha Legion easily led them into heresy when Horus declared himself against the Emperor, though some legends say that the Alpha Legion secretly remains loyal to the Emperor in perhaps the greatest of the many deceptions and ploys it has worked. Here at last was their chance to prove themselves against opponents just as tough, as battle hardened, and ferocious as themselves. The Alpha Legion did much to ravage the Eastern Fringe during the Heresy, pursuing their own set of objectives far from Terra. In the ten millennia since they have continued to strike from bases hidden all over the galaxy. Unusually the Alpha Legion actively cultivates Chaos Cultists and rebels, multiplying their impact many times over. The Inquisition holds a special loathing for the Alpha Legion for their part in spreading Chaos Cults and fanning the embers of heresy into the raging fires of outright rebellion.
The Black Crusades
Due to the fractious nature of the Dark Gods, the warbands in service to a particular Ruinous Power often view other Traitor Marine warbands who serve its patron's rival deity as even more appropriate targets for their wrath than the servants of the Emperor. With such an attitude prevailing among the corrupted Astartes, it has often proven impossible for the Traitor Legions to present a united front against the Imperium since the death of Horus, which is one reason why they have never enjoyed a similar series of military successes over the past ten millennia. The closest thing to unity that has appeared amongst the Traitor Legions and other Chaos Space Marines is when Abaddon the Despoiler, Warmaster of the Black Legion, launches one of his periodic Black Crusades into Imperial space under the banner of Chaos Undivided. These are temporary periods of unity amongst all the Forces of Chaos when they seek to overwhelm the Imperium's defenses surrounding the Eye of Terror and drive on Terra once more.
Abaddon is the only Champion of Chaos since Horus himself who is able to command, however begrudgingly and briefly, the loyalty of all nine Traitor Legions, and he has led twelve Black Crusades out of the Eye of Terror against the Imperium of Man. The latest, the 13th Black Crusade, was launched in 999.M41 and has proven the most successful for the Forces of Chaos since the Horus Heresy. The Chaotic troops have been able to seize a foothold on the surface of the Fortress World of Cadia, though the Imperial Navy has so far managed to blockade Abaddon's Traitor Marines and the other Forces of Chaos from breaking out into the Cadian Gate, the only clear pathway through the Warp from the Eye of Terror into open Imperial space. Should the Chaotics manage to eventually break out of the Imperial Navy's stranglehold, the Chaos Space Marines may at last, after 10,000 years, bring down the realm of the Corpse Emperor and gain their vengeance for long millennia of exile. Then the galaxy will tremble as the servants of the Dark Gods at last throw down the Corpse Emperor and claim the souls of Mankind for their own.
Be sure to browse around this wiki, as there are already a lot of Chaos Warbands and Renegade Chapter that have been created. There might be one that is similar to the one you had in mind to create. Though this is unfortunate, try to ensure that you create something unique and original, as this will avoid problems with being accused of plagiarization. To quickly access the location of the Warbands and Renegade Chapters already listed on this wiki, please be sure to browse the Chaos Warbands or Renegade Chapter Categories.
What are Chaos Space Marines?
The Chaos Space Marines (aka Traitor Marines, Chaos Marines and Traitor Legionnaires) are counted among the most favoured and powerful servants of the Powers of Chaos; they are Space Marines who have fallen to the influence of Chaos, or were made to serve Chaos, and are some of the most dangerous enemies of the Imperium.
What is a Warband? Chaos Space Marines - lacking Traitor Legions, Chapters, and companies - are divided into armies of separate warbands, which is anathema to the regulated, traditional Space Marines of the Imperium. Warbands might be temporary or eternal, depending on the theme of unity, as well as the leader's strength and personality.
The way of Chaos is fraught with conflict and violence. Even the lowliest acolyte faces death with each passing moment. This is the way of things within the warp, where ambition runs high and power is the currency of trade. To survive the mutating eddies and rampant hostility of the warp is to embrace conflict for one's own gain. For beings of such unchecked aggression and rapacious greed, the vast expanse of real space offers little better conditions. Hunted as heretics and usurpers by the forces of mankind, the controlled space of the Imperium offers little succor to the hated devotees of Chaos.
Thankfully, Warbands appear to be relatively rare. While many of the Traitor Legions have fragmented into warbands or individual Grand Companies under a charismatic or particularly brutal Chaos Lord, most retain at least a nominal allegiance to their parent Legion. Alternatively, they may have cast off their past allegiances and forsaken their former brethren, moving onwards to their own ends. In some instances, such a warband might also include human renegades fallen from the Imperium and allied with the Ruinous Powers. Some may have attracted an army of human, xenos, or even daemonic followers. Others might travel the galaxy in isolation, working with others only reluctantly as a means to an end. Likewise, their goals can vary wildly, from the desire to avenge themselves on the Imperium and Emperor that betrayed them, to the thirst for power amongst their fellows, to the hunger for knowledge and arcane lore.
Inspiration for a Warband
There are potentially many different reason how your Warband was founded or why it exists. Just because most Chaos Marines are broken into fractured warbands, it doesn't mean there should be no rules for a warband made up entirely of Astartes from the same Legion, still trying to remain together. Below are just a few ideas you could utilise in the creation of your Fanon Warband:
- A struggling Black Legion champion who must turn to other - even weaker Chaos Undivided warbands - to unite them into a powerful raiding force.
- A powerful Word Bearers Daemon Prince who draws his forces from the Word Bearers and a coven of Thousand Son Chaos Sorcerers who ally with him, bringing a small host of Rubric Marines.
- An ambitious Night Lords commander who allies his Chaos Biker warband with the remnants of an Emperor's Children army they recently defeated, because the Emperor Children's commander pledged fealty rather than be destroyed.
- Two Renegade Space Marine Chapters, whose numbers are sorely depleted, ban together to ensure their mutual survival and work with several Chaos Space Marines of the Obliterator Cult, who were drawn to the Renegades' updated and recent Imperial wargear.
Keep in the mind, the published lore, almost overwhelmingly, says the Traitor Legions are broken up compared to their original incarnations. Yes, many warbands still maintain Legion-specific forces, and yes, several of the Legions still maintain vague ties of overall cohesion. But the majority of Chaos Space Marines are essentially divided, with varying degrees of loyalty and hatred to their leaders and one another. That's one of the things that makes it so dramatic and cool. They have difficulty even trusting their own brothers!
Renegades are once loyal Adeptus Astartes Chapters or parts of an individual Chapter that, for whatever reason, have fallen from grace and broken away from the Imperium of Man. There are many reasons that a Chapter would turn Renegade - megalomania, corruption by the Ruinous Powers, doctrinal heresy, a misguided admiration for the workings of foul xenos, or even inadvertently coming into conflict with another arm of the Imperium, like the Inquisition. Whatever the root cause, the final effect is always the same - damnation in the eyes of the Emperor and his loyal servants!
As a result they are hounded by the forces of the Imperium, constantly moving from place to place, or hiding from prying eyes in loosely populated areas like the Maelstrom, the Eye of Terror, or beyond the limit of the range of Astronomicon, among the cold, haunted stars of the Halo Zone. When the extent of the heresy of the Astral Claws was revealed, they attempted to fight from behind the formidable defences of their homeworld, but even they were eventually routed, fleeing into the Maelstrom and becoming Red Corsairs. Without the support of the Imperial machine, and the Adeptus Mechanicus, all of these Chapters face the problem of obtaining and maintaining their ships, weapons and wargear, to say nothing of the difficulty in producing the implanted organs for the initiation of new Astartes. Because of the need for stealth, and the necessity to live off the land, as it were, many Renegade Chapters fragment into smaller groups, rarely gathering their entire force together in one place.
The most common types of Renegade Chapters:
- Chapters who see themselves as being still loyal to the Imperium - When a chapter is labelled as Excommunicate Traitoris, it can either stand and fight and die, or run. It does not matter if the judgement is sound or not, they are now considered renegades. Some Space Marine Chapters and groups, such as the Relictors, and to a degree, the mysterious Legion of the Damned and the Space Wolves lost 13th Company are hunted, yet still profess to be loyal to the Emperor. The drawbacks of being in this status is the lack of equipment or inability to ally with fellow Imperial forces.
- Chapters who wholeheartedly embrace the Ruinous Powers - These treacherous Chapters have renounced their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor, and are forever marked by the taint of the Ruinous Powers. The Red Corsairs and the Sons of Malice are the best known Renegade chapters. But there are many more Loyalist Chapters, such as the Soul Drinkers, who are driven to the Ruinous Powers to simply survive after being wrongly accused of heresy and are forced to make do by performing unspeakable pacts just to survive in a hostile galaxy. Pirate and mercenary Chapters, as well as Space Marines from different Chapters that have banded together for protection (Red Corsairs) could fall into either type of Renegade Chapters, depending on their broader philosophy. Examples of this are The Damned Company of Lord Caustos, who sell their services to any force that will provide them with the equipment they need to continue their very existence.
- "I swear to make war on the Imperium and its people, and I will go to my grave attempting to tear down the walls of that benighted, decadent, and foolish empire. It is not I, at long last, who have betrayed the Imperium, it is the Imperium who has betrayed me. It is the Imperium who has betrayed us all."
- — Commander Phineas Gage
The following Demeanours are intended to represent the characteristics that might be displayed by Renegade Chapters that have some measure of their own tradition and history, yet no longer maintains any links with their Progenitor and other Chapters. The Chapter may be several generations separated from its sire, and also have its home world many hundreds or thousands of light years away, the distance contributing to the divergence. It should be noted that these Demeanours are on the whole not as "extreme" or detailed as those presented as part of a full set of Chapter rules. This is largely because Chapters with such a set have been around for a long time or have something exceptional about them that sets them apart from the bulk of Chapters and calls for a set of unique rules. Secondly, writers should really be creating their own Chapter not to gain a suite of abstract advantages over other Chapters but to indulge their creative urges and foster more opportunities for rewarding imaginative writing.
Below are listed the most common types of Progenitor Demeanours found within Renegade Adeptus Astartes Chapters:
- Brotherhood -Strangely enough this Warband shows little to no fracturing in its ranks. Its warriors fight side by side and work together to achieve victory, and stick together to survive in the unforgiving universe.
- Annihilation - Warbands who display this trait believe that no trace of the weak should be allowed to survive. Going so far as to destroy worlds just to eradicate their enemy, Warbands such as these often favour weaponry that immolates, incinerates, or atomises their enemies, and those that their enemies protect.
- Pitiless - Some Warbands become so addicted to murder that they will place the chance to slaughter masses of innocents and enemies above all else. This can cause wider tactical problems, especially when working with other more coordinated Renegade Chapters or Chaos Warbands.
- Embrace Corruption - The Warband embraces the touch of Chaos and welcomes mutants, possessed and the deformed into their ranks. Hating purity they seek to remove themselves from their common human forms and become something unique, as every mutant is different.
- Warriors of the Warp - Some Warbands favour using the Warp's powers more than they should. Warbands that have this trait will use sorcery and Warp-enhanced weaponry as well as Daemons in their battles and make frequent gratifying use of them.
- Mark of the Hunter - The Warband enjoys nothing more than hunting their enemies across the battlefield, stalking them unseen but not unheard, then striking his target is at its weakest, without mercy or restraint.
- Aura of Madness - The Warband has been touched by the Warp, but not of the flesh but the mind. Madness runs deep within the Warband and its members can shift moods within an instant. Traitor Marines are as quick to anger as they are to jest. They can be impatient but can either show remarkable initiative in the face of the enemy or make utterly horrible suggestions that make sense only to their broken minds.
- Human Dominance - Chaos hates the alien just as strongly as the Imperium, but some Warbands have suffered heavily at the hands of ravening aliens, and harbour a special hatred for a particular xenos strain, or all aliens.
- Death to the False Emperor and All His Slaves - The Warband holds more hatred than most for the False Emperor and his servants, taking every chance they can get to strike at the Imperium, no matter how small the target or how weak the gain will be. For them, just killing an Imperial dog is enough, be they a mighty loyalist Space Marine or just a simple Imperial civilian.
- Will of the Gods - The Warband holds the word of the Dark Gods above all, and believe they will guide them in all things and eschew the use of stealthy tactics, preferring to make bold, frontal assaults and declare their allegiance immediately, so that the enemy knows the Dark Gods' servants have come for their souls.
Progenitor Demeanours (Warbands Only)
- Black Legion: Death to the False Emperor! - The Black Legion are proud and believe highly in their own skills, and that of their Warmaster Abaddon. They do not tolerate insults towards themselves and will likely react with explosive anger. A Black Legion Chaos Space Marine can possess little or great solidarity with his brother-Astartes. Either way, treachery towards the Legion is not unthinkable to them.
- Emperor's Children: Pain and Pleasure - The Emperor's Children have no limits in how far they will go for a new experience and no restraint in what they will try. Constantly desiring stimulation the Emperor's Children roam the galaxy hunting for new and exciting things to try, do and kill. But these never last and they will always grow bored. As a Legion the Emperor's Children are universally arrogant and preening. They look down their noses at other Legions and hold a colossal pride in themselves.
- Iron Warriors: Iron Within, Iron Without - The Iron Warriors are the masters of siege warfare, no fortress, garrison or emplacement is too hard for them to crack open, and no defender strong enough to withstand their rage. An Iron Warrior is often cold and laconic, preferring to let actions speak louder than words, but when they do speak they are gruff and hard as the iron they take their name from.
- Night Lords: Desire for Revenge - The Sons of Curze are a brooding and ill-tempered group. They roam space tearing at the Imperium in revenge for the murder of their Primarch thousands of years ago. For them the memory is fresh and they eke out a hard existence, working to destroy the very fabric of the Imperium. A Night Lord usually feels a good connection with his Legion, though they may still hate each other, they will often stick together, though this is not a universal rule.
- World Eaters: Blood and Skulls - The hunger for blood never ends for a World Eater. They will take any chance for a fight that they can get, and during battle they lose themselves in the haze of blood and killing. A World Eaters warband favours close combat above all else and despises sorcery. World Eaters are often mentally damaged and feature strange cybernetic augmentations, sometimes unnecessary and always painful ones.
- Death Guard: Pestilence and Plague - The Death Guard is a aloof and isolated legion. They do not speak where other legions would, and are often reserved around others. They despise the healthy and beautiful due to their own wrecked forms and enjoy nothing more than infecting things, bringing them down to their level. Their stubborn and implacable battle techniques win them many victories, with a slow cautious, but strong, advance on enemy lines being a simple tactic, but effective.
- Thousand Sons: Masters of the Warp - The Sorcerers of the Thousand Sons prize knowledge above all else. They consider it their right to take what knowledge they want and hoard it for its own "safe-keeping". They hate those who decry learning and intellect, and who take a stand against sorcery. They will often use foresight as a method of choosing a target and use the powers of the warp as much, perhaps more, than their own weapons.
- Word Bearers: Faith and Blood - The Word Bearers are the greatest zealots in the galaxy. To even consider questioning the will and word of the Dark Gods or their servants is unthinkable. A Word Bearer will always take pride in tearing down the symbols of false faiths and corrupting the innocent souls of the weak. Word Bearers are resolute in their faith and often have a litany or doxology of Chaos on their lips, scriptures on their skin and armor and hate for all things Imperial in their hearts.
- Alpha Legion: Secrets Beyond Count - Shrouded in mystery, the Alpha Legion have been declared destroyed by the Imperium at least three times, only to reappear after each declaration. They work behind the scenes of war, favouring long game and strategies that involve manipulating others rather than going in guns blazing. Alpha Legionnaires are secretive and keep to themselves, using every tactic they can to confound the enemy.
Creation of New Chaos Marines
In every Warband, Apothecaries, or their Chaos Marine equivalents, are still charged with the important task of retrieving the gene-seed organs from their fallen brethren.
The Chaos Marines still maintain the process of gene-seeding - the transformation of humans into superhumans through organ implantation and associated psychological and chemical conditioning - in order to create new Chaos Marines; this is the only way to maintain their strength in the midst of unending war.
The children that are turned into new Chaos Marines are bred from slave stock and captives acquired from raids on Imperial worlds. The process is a brutal ordeal, differing from the carefully measured program of development used by Imperial Space Marines: it is said that not one in a hundred survive the process of conversion.
- "Twisted in flesh is twisted in soul."
- — Abbess Sevencia of Sisk
The Chaos Gods are generous but erratic with their favours. When blessing one of their followers, a Chaos God might grant them a mutation that improves their lot in the universe. But, just as likely, the Chaos God might feel their loyal subject would benefit from some sort of debilitating physical mutation that might actually be more of a hindrance than a boon. The more of these gifts a champion receives, the more potentially disastrous their cumulative effects can be - even the body of a Chaos Space Marine can only withstand so many mutations before he passes the point of no return.
Any champion of Chaos, regardless of prestige, can find himself on the road to becoming a Chaos Spawn, for the Dark Gods are fickle. A champion who does not earn himself the ultimate reward of Daemonhood will surely become a Spawn, unless he dies by some other means first. Such is the lot of the Chaos champion - those that survive are destined either for everlasting, diabolical glory or an ignominious end as a slavering heap of limbs and protrusions.
Listed below are some of the most common types of Chaos Gifts received by the followers of the Ruinous Powers:
- Tomb Sealed - The touch of the Warp has made the armour of the Warband's Chaos Space Marines turn partially alive and seal itself permanently, with their occupants still inside. Trapped within their own armour has set these Chaos marines apart from others, and only increased their rage at the universe.
- Warp-Sight - The eyes of each Chaos-corrupted Astartes have become tainted. Now rather than see as normal men do they see strange things in place, such as souls, true spirit forms and warp signatures. A Renegade Chapter with this mutation may also see visions of the future, but these can be erratic and hard to interpret.
- Psyker Influx - The Warband has an unusual number of Psykers in its ranks. Whether from mutated gene-stock, gene-seed or just the touch of the Warp this translates into more Chaos Sorcerers for the Renegade Chapter, or more ticking time bombs of mutation just waiting to explode.
- Beastial Appearance - The Warband's warriors are rapidly growing claws, fangs, pincers, wings and other strange parts that belong on beasts rather than men, but it doesn't have too be seen as all bad.
- Voice of the Daemonic - Due to a mutation in the body, the Chaos Marines of this Warband may speak in strange tones like two voices at once or grinding tones like a machine, or in strange languages that nobody but them can understand.
- Gestalt (Merged) Consciousness - The warriors of the Warband display a connection to each others' bodies and minds. They can feel the pain of certain brothers and their thoughts as well, this can be a boon or a curse depending on how it is seen and who receives it.
- Gene-Seed Damaged - There is something seriously wrong with the Warband's gene-seed, either through warp damage or progenitor defects. This could result in a weakened or hyper-sensitive organ, or could be a lost organ entirely, or an organ replaced with something more sinister. (See chart for Damaged Gene-Seed below.)
- Warp Reflexes - The Warband has shown extremely quick reflexes, in fact it is that the warriors have permanently entered an enhanced state and react far quicker than normal reactions would allow, even for a Space Marine. However the energy drain is much higher than normal and these marines would display much higher hunger and thirst than normal Space Marines.
- Esoteric Mutation - The chaotic influence of the Warp has yielded a mutation that is truly unique amongst all. Make up your own mutation, but make it a good one and truly mind-boggling in its capability.
Creating a Warband
Champions of Chaos
- "When the traitor's hand strikes, it strikes with the strength of a legion."
- — Attributed to Warmaster Horus Lupercal, Legiones Astartes Sons of Horus
Every Warband has its Chaos Champions - the tyrants that founded them and kept them together, who led their Warband on its dark and bloody path of glory and infamy. These are often the warriors that came from the original Traitor Legions themselves.
To have a Warband, you must have a Champion, so it seems a good place to start: mightier even than other Traitor Marines. He might be the old Chapter Master of his Renegade Chapter, or a warrior from one of the original Traitor Legions who has broken away from his brethren to reap glory and power in the name of Chaos!
When making your Champion, please refrain from using phrases like 'almost as mighty as a Primarch' or 'Nigh Invincible'. Okay, they're really tough, we get that; he's a flipping Chaos Space Marine. Belaboring the point will only make him look like a poser.
In addition to the question of who these warriors were is the question of why are they so venerated? Did they defeat a particular foe, did their deeds grant the Warband its name, livery or home world? Were they the first to see through the lies and corruption within the bloated and corrupt carcass that is the Imperium of Man, or did they lead their Warband onto its dark path into service of the Ruinous Powers? All of these possibilities provide the bedrock of the Warband's legends, which a writer can draw on when it comes to writing about their own Fanon Chaos Space Marine Warband. Below is a chart that shows the most common figures of legend. First off, determine who the single greatest hero of the Warband is, then determine secondary figures (such as the hero's companions and peers, or later heroes):
- Traitor Marine
- Chaos Lord
- Chaos Sorcerer
- Corrupted Chaplain/Dark Apostle* (*Word Bearers only)
- Corrupted Techmarine
- Void Master Chaos Lord
- Corrupted Apothecary
- Chaos Champion
- Chaos Chosen
- Chaos Space Marine
- A Specialist of your choice - You can determine this figure of legend by selecting an Acolyte, Dreadnought, Specialist Chaos Marine (Khorne Berzerkers, Plague Marines, Noise Marines, etc), driver, pilot, etc.)
Deeds of Infamy
Next, you should determine why this figure of infamous legend is venerated by your Renegade Chapter. Below is a list of some of the most common deeds of infamy accomplished by your Renegade Chapter's most venerated heroes:
- Bane of Orks - The figure is remembered as the bane of the Orks, to such an extent that his name is known to the vile greenskins even to this day.
- Scourge of the Imperium - The Chaos Champion was a prominent warrior in the Eternal War and destroyed an Imperial planet/system or inflicted spectacular damage to the Imperium in another way.
- Loyalist Destroyer - The Chaos Champion led a glorious campaign against a loyalist Space Marine Chapter, defeating the foe and killing their Chapter Master.
- Eldar Slayer - The figure led an action against an Eldar craftworld, boarding it and inflicting grievous casualties before withdrawing. He and his Renegade Chapter are especially hated by the pernicious Eldar, for whom the event is still fresh and raw. The soul stones gathered that day earned him Slaanesh's favour.
- Ascended - The Chaos Champion gained so much favour that he earned the ultimate reward - eternity. Granted Daemonhood by the Chaos Gods he either continued to lead his Renegade Chapter or left for the Warp and parts unknown and unimaginable.
- Unholy Crusader - The Chaos Champion led a crusade against an entire planetary system and through attrition and faith, was able to convert the populace to the worship of Chaos. His name is still remembered there by the servants of Chaos.
- Martyr - The Chaos Champion led his Warband in many glorious campaigns, slaying hundreds of the enemy's greatest champions. In the end he was brought down by a champion of the enemy, slain before his greatest victory. He is still remembered as a hero of the Eternal War and many still invoke his name.
- "Who can stand before the might of Chaos?"
- — Darvenorax, Champion of the Word Bearers Legion
Every Legion and Warband has its own Chaos cult, the body of beliefs and practices unique to itself. The specifics of the cult develop over the millennia, so that two Warbands sired by the same Progenitor during the same Founding may, after several centuries, exhibit radically divergent religious practices. Some Warbands inherit a great deal of the rites and traditions of the culture from which they recruit, while many more are so steeped in their own history and tradition that they are quite unique. With their fall to the Ruinous Powers, their beliefs diverge even further, depending on which Chaos God they take to worshiping.
The Warband venerates Chaos itself in the form of Chaos Undivided, seeing the four major Chaos Gods as a single pantheon to be worshipped equally as different emanations of the same universal force. Of all the worshippers of Chaos they follow Chaos in its purest form. They can interpret the meaning of Chaos in a variety of ways, including as a single God, worship the four major Chaos Gods equally, or favour one slightly over the others. The Chaos Lords and Daemon Princes of Chaos Undivided are at an advantage in their ability to unite any of the Forces of Chaos under their leadership, even if they would normally worship opposing Gods like Khorne and Slaanesh, so the Renegade Chapters of Chaos Undivided are always the most diverse.
A Warband of a more martial bent tends to take to worshipping the angry and murderous Blood God Khorne, whose bellows of limitless rage echo throughout the corridors of time and space. Khorne embodies mindless and absolute violence, destroying everyone and everything within reach, shedding the blood of friend and foe alike. The followers of Khorne are always ferocious warriors and never make use of psychic powers, for the Blood God abhors the trickery of magic and cowardly sorcerers, particularly the servants of Tzeentch. Men turn to Khorne for the power to conquer, to defeat their enemies in battle, to wreak bloody vengeance and to attain unmatched martial prowess against all comers. The most fanatical and dedicated of his followers, those whose souls are trapped fully within his bloody embrace, know that he truly desires only constant and wild slaughter for its own sake.
The Warband has taken to worshipping the God of Pleasure. Mortals that seek charisma and fellowship turn to Slaanesh, for his gifts can make one popular and inspiring. Poets and artists are drawn into his gaze by the promise of inspiration and fame, while even the hardiest warriors might seek the adulation of the masses and the ironclad loyalty of their followers. Yet as one continues in the service of Slaanesh, such pleasures soon grow stale and his servants are driven on to search for ever greater sensations and ever more self-fulfillment until only the most decadent and debased of acts can stir their emotions or provide the pleasure they have come to crave.
The Warband has taken to worshiping the mighty Lord of Decay who presides over all physical corruption and morbidity. Disease and putrefaction, the inevitable entropic decline of all things, are the favours he bestows upon the universe. It is to free themselves from despair -- the eternal mortal dread of disease, starvation and death -- that a Warband will often turn to the Plague Lord. The fear of death can be found in the hearts of all the sentient beings of the universe, and so there is no shortage of mortals willing to sacrifice their immortal souls in return for the corrupted preservation of their physical bodies for all time.
The Warband has taken to worshiping the Changer of the Ways. He is the Great Sorcerer, the God of Sorcery and Change and master of the mutable stream of destiny and time. Plotters and schemers find themselves drawn to Tzeentch, especially those who crave psychic or sorcerous power to achieve their goals. Politicians and leaders, magisters and Chaos Cultists, all find themselves drawn along the convoluted paths of fate, using Tzeentch to achieve their dreams and aspirations, though ultimately all are led to play their part in Tzeentch's own eternal schemes.
Minor Chaos Gods
- "We shall deny Nurgle their flesh to fester and rot."
"We shall deny Khorne their blood and skulls."
"We shall deny Tzeentch their destinies and fates."
"We shall deny Slaanesh their pleasure and pain."
"Death to the Dark Gods!"
"For the Renegade God!"
"Let the galaxy burn!"
- — A Dirge of Malice
Alternatively, your Warband could be dedicated to a minor Chaos God, such as the following:
Ans'l, Mo'rcck and Phraz-Etar are minor Chaos deities. Chaos Space Marines were rumored to praise them by putting spikes on their power armour.
Malice (known also as Malal) is an entity worshipped as the Renegade God of Chaos and Hierarch of Anarchy and Terror. Also known as 'The Outcast God', 'The Lost God' and 'The Renegade God', Malice is the embodiment of Chaos' indiscriminate and anarchic tendency toward destruction, even of itself and its own agents. The nature of Malice's powers is parasitic, as the Renegade God grows in power only when the other Ruinous Powers do. Few men worship such a God; fewer still live long in his service. The bonds that tie master and servant ever drain upon the soul of the warrior, and it is a rare man that can loosen the bonds of Malice once forged.
The Renegade Chapter known as the Sons of Malice are among his followers.
The Warband has taken to worshiping and devoting themselves to a patron Greater Daemon, an incarnation of their chosen Chaos God - the living embodiment of everything Chaos represents. They are the guardians of their God's realm and the executors of his will. Often the Greater Daemons lead incursions into the mortal world, and act as the heralds of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos to Champions of Chaos and Chaos Sorcerers.
The Warband has taken to worshiping and serving a Daemon Prince - a formerly human Chaos Champion of Chaos that has been elevated to daemonhood as a reward for their actions on behalf of the one of the major Chaos Gods. Daemon Princes have chosen to trade their humanity for the god-like power and immortality of a creature of the Warp. A Daemon Prince is a living extension of the force of Chaos. To ascend to the rank of Daemon Prince is the ultimate goal of the most powerful followers of Chaos, as it gives them immortality and power beyond the reckoning of mortals.
Some Warbands are afflicted by a flaw that transcends mere zygote mutation and comes to totally define them. Sometimes the flaw is linked to a nigh-catastrophic genetic malfunction, but just as often it is tied to the essential nature of the Progenitor's Primarch, the stock from which they recruit or prolonged exposure to the Warp. Many such flaws are two-edged swords, providing unheard of benefits balanced against terrible drawbacks.
Below are listed the most common types of Warband flaws:
- Faithless - The Warband prefers to keep Chaos at arm's length. They do not worship the Chaos Gods but they do acknowledge them. These Warbands are shunned by most and hated by quite a few.
- Hated by All -While all Warbands dislike each other some are hated by all equally, and hate all back equally. A Warband with this trait works alone and does not associate with any other Renegade Chapter, Traitor Legion or Warband.
- Fickle in Faith - Loyalty to a Chaos God is an important thing. A Warband with this trait often switches its allegiance to one of the other Chaos Gods - one that suits it more at the time than the one they previously worshiped before. A Warband like this must be very careful, lest they lose warriors needlessly and draw the wrath of the Dark Gods.
- Traitors All - All Chaos Space Marines are traitors, but there is some loyalty in them and the knowledge that they will never betray Chaos. This Renegade Chapter has proven that it cannot even be remotely trusted, and will turn on any ally it has whenever it feels like it.
- Imperial Ties - This Warband insists on maintaining ties to their former Imperial life. Either through holding their home world together in an Imperial fashion of order or simply pretending to continue their lives under the Imperium, but with Chaos as their master instead of the False Emperor.
It should be noted that unlike Loyalist Space Marine Chapters the size of a Warband is not restricted to the usual number of 1,000 Astartes, and tends to fluctuate in strength quite often, sometimes drastically. When speaking about Space Marines that have turned to Chaos after the end of the Horus Heresy it is much more common for a part of a Chapter (a Company, a few Companies or even just several squads) to have fallen rather than the entire Chapter. Though never equal in size or power to the original Legiones Astartes, a modern Space Marine Chapter is a potent military force in its own right and when an entire Chapter turns Renegade it presents a grave threat to the Imperium. With all the resources of a Space Marine Chapter at their disposal, the Renegades of Chaos destroy Imperial armies, conquer Imperial worlds and despoil whole sectors of the Imperium. Such events warrant an extreme response from the Imperial forces, not to mention the other, Loyalist Space Marine Chapters. But despite possessing the might of 1,000 Astartes at their disposal, one must keep in mind that a Renegade Chapter's survival becomes much more difficult. Without the logistical support of the Adeptus Mechanicus as well as the gene-stocks received from the Magos Bioligis on Terra, the Renegade Chapter is forced to find other means to obtain gene-seed for potential Aspirants.
Also keep in mind, that the longer a Renegade Chapter takes refuge within the Warp, their gene-seed will slowly become tainted by Chaos. This makes it much more difficult for the Chapter's Apothecaries to convert a regular human subject into a transhuman Astartes, than it would be with an untainted source of gene-seed. Therefore, a Renegade Chapter is forced to make difficult decision - find a source of pure gene-seed or risk extinction. In order to survive they must raid loyalist Space Marine ships/facilities (which can result in a substantial loss of battle-brothers' lives) as well as other Renegade Chapters or Traitor Legion Warbands roving throughout the Eye of Terror or preying about the material realm. They must also scour battlefields for the bodies of slain Astartes (both Traitor and loyalist alike) in order to obtain the necessary progenoids harvested from the fallen, to ensure their Chapter's survival.
Cut off from all support, a Renegade Chapter must fight for their very survival. Attrition rates might force them to strike a devil's bargain with a fallen Apothecary or a Dark Mechanicus Hell-Forge, in order to gain access to their master fleshcrafters, in order to obtain the necessary gene-seed they so desperately need. There are no guarantees within the Eye of Terror, as oaths and promises are broken all the time. Therefore, it is not unusual for the number of Chaos Space Marines within a Renegade Chapter to fluctuate from near-extinction levels to Warband size (which can number to Legion-sized - into the thousands). Add to this the fact that Chaos warbands are almost constantly fighting without rest (both against the Imperium, other forces of Chaos and various xenos forces), and you will find that attrition will have whittled you warband down some. As such most Chaos Space Marine Warbands are below Codex strength. However don't let this get you sullen.
These losses are offset by the formidable gifts and mutations granted to them by their patron Chaos God, and through the temporal fluctuations of the Warp, their lifespans are often greatly increased, giving a Renegade Chapter centuries, or perhaps, even millennia of fighting experience, over their younger, loyalist counterparts. As such, a formidable Chaos Lord or Chaos Champion of a Renegade Chapter who possesses the charisma, drive, force of will and martial prowess, gradually swell in size, becoming a mighty Warband that posseses well above the usual Chapter norms in regards to the number of its warriors, through the assimilation of other Chaos Warbands.
Also, as Plaguenumber3 has pointed out, Chaos Space Marine Warbands are not composed only of Chaos Space marines: most books that feature Chaos Space Marine forces show the Traitor Astarte at the head of hordes of fanatics, mutants, xenos, and other assembled worshippers of Chaos, leading them into battle, or throwing them forwards like cannon fodder as a distraction. So, bear these other types of personnel in mind when creating your Warband -- How do they come to be a part of the Warband? Where do they come from? Are they fanatical followers of Chaos, or slaves forced to serve their hideous masters? What role do they fulfill in the Warband? In combat? In general? Are they loyal to their Traitor Astartes masters, or just waiting the chance to revolt or desert?
The vast majority of Chaos Space Marine Warbands are disjointed groups and have little organisation except for the Chaos Lord, individual champions and those who follow them, however some choose to maintain the system of companies/grand companies and ordered squads to keep the Warband together. Some Warbands choose to maintain order but deviate in some areas, altering numbers in companies and squads to suit them, or to show divine devotion. Finally, there are a small number of Warbands who hold strict regiments and follow the same organisation they did as Imperials.
- Disjointed Warband - The Warband has virtually no organisation except for the clear indication of who is in charge and who is not.
- Orderly Warband - An orderly Warband is one that keeps a clear system in use for its organisation. Squads and their leaders are kept active and some may use a system of grand companies to organize large numbers of troops. Though some may follow a more Chaos-oriented path than an Imperial version, such as the Word Bearers large numbers of Possessed Marines.
- Perfectly Ordered Warband - A perfectly ordered Warband with a clear system of grand companies, companies, and squads of all different types. These Renegade Chapter are rare but are among the most devastating as the one thing they almost never have to fight is each other.
Over the millennia the energies that saturate the Eye of Terror have worked their transformative effects on both the living flesh and the inanimate weapons and armour of the Chaos Space Marines. As far as weapons and equipment, the Chaos Legions retain much of their Legiones Astartes heritage. The bolter remains the main weapon even when it has been refigured into a fusion of biological and inorganic parts, or redesigned into strange and baroque forms by the whims of Chaos or the user himself. Although power armour is often unrecognisable as once being Astartes-issue, the suits continue to function the same, and include standard auto-sensory technology, communicators and respirators. Armour has been recoloured and redecorated to show allegiance to the Legion's Chaos patron.
- "Come. My axe thirsts."
- — Warlord Crox
One thing that sets a Warband apart from another are the individual pieces of equipment that the Chapter prefers to carry into battle. Over the millennia, the energies of the Immaterium have worked their strange and transformative effects on both the living flesh of the Chaos Space Marines of a Renegade Chapter as well as their armour and weapons. Unbound by the restraints of the Ordos and the Adepta, the followers of the Chaos Gods often modify, subvert, or alter their weapons, sometimes even passing on the taint of Chaos to them.
Below is listed the most common special equipment utilised by the various Warbands:
- Tainted Weapons - The Warband favours weapons tainted by the Warp, enhanced with their power. Choose a particular type of tainted weapon to fill this role.
- Corrupting Icons - The Warband enjoys using symbols of the Warp and the Dark Gods to cause various disorienting effects on the enemy.
- Mutated Gear - Many Warbands specialise in using wargear that has mutated, such as weapons contaminated with the Obliterator virus or Jump-packs that have developed real wings in place of metallic ones.
- Beastial Companion - More common from those Warbands who recruit from feral worlds, some of these corrupted Chapters enjoy using monsters to hunt down enemies, the more dangerous the monster the better. Some even use Warp predators like the Khymera or the more beastial Daemons.
- Ancient Weaponry - Whether through luck or sheer age, the Warband has access to many stores of potent Great Crusade or Horus Heresy era weaponry and power armor.
- Chaos Artefacts - Many Warbands have collected large amounts of Chaos Artefacts over their centuries of experience. These artefacts can be wielded by those with the knowledge for great power, even greater reward, and even greater risk.
- Daemonic Mount - Many Warband Chaos Champions and Chaos Lords use Daemonic Mounts, earned as a symbol of favour. However this Warband uses them in large scale, enough that most Champions and Chosen have one, and many others are close to getting one of their own.
- Special Vehicle - Due to their connection to the Traitor Legions many Warbands have vehicles not used in the Imperium for ages, or their own unique vehicle variant created through experimentation or the warping influence of Chaos.
- Preferred Fighting Style - The Warband has a specific way in which it goes about massacring the enemy in the name of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
- Modified Weaponry - When the Warband's corrupted forges produce a weapon, they produce them in a style that is specific to their parent Traitor Legion or forge fane of origin.
Be it a floating warship, a space station, an uninhabited moon, defiled Imperial planet, or a Crone World deep in the Eye of Terror, every Warband needs a fortress from which to lash out against the cowardly followers of the False Emperor.
Feral Worlds are those planets colonised eons ago, long before the Age of Imperium, which subsequently regressed to atavistic barbarism due to extended periods of isolation or other, less predictable factors. Feral worlders are truly invaluable asset, for by definition they are amongst the toughest and most accomplished it is possible to recruit. As a result, many Chaos Space Marine Warbands make their homes on such worlds, close to the source of its recruits.
Death Worlds are planets so inimitable to life that unless they harboured some essential resource Mankind would have no reason to set foot on them at all. Though no single terrain type defines this class of world, many are swathed in jungles populated by carnivorous plants as dangerous as any predatory beast, where even the air itself is poisonous. The sort of cultures that spawn people able to reach maturity in such a place are amongst the most valuable recruiting grounds for a Chaos Warband, for the mere fact of surviving to adolescence marks an Aspirant as amongst the toughest Humanity is capable of producing. Those Warbands that call a Death World their home are likely to be experts in fighting in the particular type of terrain it features. To do is not simply a matter of making the best use of the environment, but of surviving the very worst that environment can throw at a Traitor Astartes and even turning it against the foe. While some Warbands locate their base of operations in orbit, others prefer to reside amidst the very worst of the Death World's environs, honing their skills even beyond those of the already legendary abilities of a superhuman Traitor Astartes.
There are plenty of Warbands that prefer to maintain their secrecy and isolate themselves from nearby populations. Fortunately, there is no shortage of barren or otherwise uninhabited worlds for such Warbands to utilise as bases of operation. Warbands utilising isolated, unpopulated planets as their home worlds have to look farther afield for sources of recruitment, but they are rarely far from worlds they are entitled to recruit upon
Fleet-based Warbands makes their homes on vast space-going vessels. Often these are unique artefacts predating the Age of Imperium. Many of these Warbands travel the galaxy in vast circuits, taking centuries to pass through a single segmentum - reigning death and destruction upon their former domains.
Fleet-based Warbands recruit from a wide range of planets. Should an exceptional source be discovered, some Warbands establish small facilities in order to watch over the population and test Aspirants. Upon discovering a singularly valuable recruiting source, some Fleet-based Warbands may even abandon their itinerant existence, claim the world and establish a Fortress-Monastery.
Because they tend to recruit from a variety of sources, Fleet-based Warbands are more unlikely than any other type to inherit the ways of the communities it recruits from. In addition, the size and status of the Renegade Space Marine Warband's fleet should also be considered.
Some Warbands make their homes in gigantic Space Hulks, a massive vessels comprised of mangled, twisted forms of various starships, which have a tendency to exit and re-enter the Immaterium, permitting a Warband to strike randomly and without warning throughout the galaxy.
- "To say that a planet that has been lost to the Warp is horrifying is a severe understatement. It is every sin, fear, and desire of the human psyche made real."
- — Confessor Berenice Chartrand, Manifestations of the Fallen
A Daemon World is where the laws of nature and reason have been completely usurped by the whims of the Chaos Powers. Here daemons roam freely and are constantly nourished by twisting winds of magic and mortals become their playthings with a value only as champions or slaves. Daemon Worlds are a sanctuary for the worshippers of Chaos with the means and courage to flee to them.
Favoured Combat Tactics
Every Legion, Warband, and Renegade Chapter has a role they tend to fill in battle: deep penetration, pin-point assaults, jungle warfare, tunnel fighting, terror strikes or they could be your simple everyday unstoppable psychotic super-soldiers. Every Warband is unique and they will favour methods of combat over the other based on what their Chaos Lord prefers, what they have at their disposal and what Chaos Gods they favour:
- Close Combat - The Warband favours assault troops and tactics to win the battle. Such Renegade Chapters love to spill blood up close and will try to win every battle with a final slaughter of melee combat, for them the grinding of chainblades and spray of blood is the best method of victory.
- Ranged Combat - The opposite of the Close Combat doctrine, some Warbands prefer to gun down their enemies with overwhelming firepower. For these Warbands the roar of gunfire and the sight of enemies being blown apart by bolters, scorched by plasma weaponry and charred by heat weaponry is their eternal goal in battle, aside from victory.
- Massed Cultists - Some Warbands field incredibly large numbers of Chaos Cultists, using them as meat-shields, slave armies or onslaught troops. They are mainly used to draw the enemy's fire while taking as many of the enemy as they can with them, while the Chaos Space Marines handle the more important tasks, and reap the greater glory of battle.
- Daemonic Assault - Some Warbands who have enough power in the Warp favour an all out assault utilizing mass numbers of Daemons. With cackling Daemonettes prancing through the enemy while roaring Bloodletters hack through them, many enemies drop their weapons and flee rather than face such horrors.
- Specialist Attack - Most devoted Warbands have a large number of troops who devote themselves to a Chaos God and receive his blessings. These Warbands use these Aligned Warriors, Khorne Berserkers, Plague Marines, Noise Marines and Rubric Marines, to devastating effect,.
- Infiltration - Chaos is a versatile tool that can achieve victory without warfare. Some Warbands prefer to utilize it that way and infiltrate planets and societies, corrupting them slowly with Chaos until they have achieved complete domination. Some go overt after this but some prefer to remain in the shadows and weave a complicated web of corruption.
- Sorcerous Might - A sorcerous assault involves utilizing large amounts of sorcery to achieve incredible results on a battlefield, large amounts of Sorcerers are needed but very few can stand against the full force of the Warp.
- Siege - Some Warbands have historically excelled at siege tactics, or are temperamentally suited to a type of war that is a unique mix of science and murder. Breaking down defences and venting their murderous rage on the enemy is a specialty of many Warbands, though some use Daemons behind the scenes of the main siege.
- Corruption - Rather than bloody themselves in protracted conflicts, some Warbands prefer to convert their enemy or the indigenous populace to their cause through indoctrination or prolonged exposure to Chaos. This provides them with a heavy slave army that they can expend against the enemy while their own warriors perform the more important tasks and significantly lessens casualties amongst the Chaos Space Marines.
- Terror - Some Warbands build their tactics around the notion of inspiring fear in their foes, even above that they already invoke. Savouring every scream and cry for help the Warbands harvests terror as much as souls, allowing the fear of their enemies to drive them into a frenzy.
If it's a Renegade Chapter, when did they fall to Chaos? How? Why? If a Warband, how did your Champion gather his followers about him? Why are they dedicated to the Chaos Power they are?
Allies & Enemies
You cannot be a Chaos Warband without getting some favorite enemies; followers of rival Chaos Powers, Rivals for the affections of your Patron, some Imperial planet that has thus far stymied you on your path to Galactic domination. . .
Throughout the ten thousand year history of the Imperium, many Warbands have risen to glory but many more are destroyed in obscurity. Some burn brightly with Chaotic fervour, but are consumed in the fires of their own victories, while others are struck down by the fickle hand of fate, or some through the wrath of the Dark Gods.
All Warbands differ in strength but most strive to maintain a large force that is on par or surpasses a typical Space Marine Chapter of 1,000 Astartes, plus additional officers and specialists, but the tides of war and disaster rarely allow such a luxury. In the aftermath of an arduous campaign a Warband may be well below half-strength and require several years or even decades to fully recover. Warbands, unlike their loyalist counterparts, can also augment their forces by utilising large numbers of Chaos Cultists in their forces. So while their force may vastly outnumber a Chapter, their overall strength may be similar.
A related point to consider is how the Warband is deployed across the galaxy. Some Warbands concentrate their efforts in and around one region, whilst others keep permanent bases within the Eye of Terror or somewhere within realspace, and send out individual companies to ravage the Imperium.
Below is a chart for the various sizes found within a Warband:
- Endangered - The Warband's numbers are dangerously low having suffered devastating losses in combat, accident, or dramatic genetic instability, or heavy mutation rates.
- Under-Strength - The Warband is recovering from a defeat or accident that occurred several decades earlier, or has recently suffered heavy but not irrecoverable losses.
- Nominal - The Warband can field equivalent forces to a loyalist Space Marine Chapter (approximately 1,000 Astartes).
- Over-Strength - The Warband has surpassed its loyalist counterparts and approaches the size of a Space Marine Legion of old, and is well on its way to reaching the exalted status of one of the Traitor Legions and the Red Corsairs.
Your Warband might not have any particular colors, each member just wearing whatever colors he pleases, but most people give their Warbands their own colors and symbols. If you do, I suggest you go check out the Bolter and Chainsword Chaos Space Marine Painter, as it can help give you a general idea of what the colours will look like on a Chaos Space Marine, and you can download the pictures you make.