In Too Deep, Against all Odds!

As the turning of the year speeds us onward into winter the time has come for me to actually make a post. Don’t expect this to be a regular thing mind you, it’s likely only possible because I’ve taken a week off work and hence actually have the time to think.

Anyway, this week someone on Reddit had decided to compile a list of Adeptus Astartes war cries (yes, I’m on about Warhammer again, deal with it) and helpfully posted the same to the 40kLore subreddit. When browsing through this list I noticed something a bit strange – can you spot it?

  • “Doom ye! Doom ye! Doom ye!”–Doom Warriors
  • “Skovakarah uhl zarûn!” (“Redden the earth!”)–Emperor’s Spears
  • “Bringers of war!”—Emperor’s Warbringers
  • “In too deep, against all odds brothers!”—Genesis Chapter
  • “”We are the hammer!” or “I am the hammer, I am the right hand of the Emperor, the instrument of His will, the gauntlet about His fist, the tip of His spear, the edge of His sword!”—Grey Knights
  • “Primarch-Progenitor, to your glory and the glory of Him on Earth!”—Imperial Fists
  • “The flesh is weak!”—Iron Hands

In case you’re not an ageing Gen-Xer and the title of this post didn’t tip you off, it’s the war cry of the Genesis Chapter, who apparently charge into battle yelling “In too deep, against all odds brother!”. What immediately startled me about this can best be summed up with the inclusion of a couple of videos…

So, we are being asked to believe that the war cry of the Genesis Chapter just happens to be built from the title of a Genesis song, and a former-lead-singer-of-Genesis-Phil-Collins song?

Now, sure, Warhammer 40k is probably the most plagiarism-guilty IP in human history. It’s cobbled together from chunks of Dune, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the collected works of J. R. R. Tolkien, Judge Dredd, the generalised evil of Margaret Thatcher and dozens – if not hundreds – of other sources. There’s barely an original idea in the whole thing. But directly quoting prog-rock lyrics seems a little too on the nose even for Games Workshop. So what the hell is going on?

I started digging. The oldest reference I could find to the alleged war cry is on the Genesis Chapter page on the 40k Fandom Wiki – which immediately sounded all kinds of alarm bells.

Warhammer 40,000 has been a thing since 1987, and since then an absolutely titanic amount of background lore has been generated. Organising it all into a Wiki is the obvious management solution, and as a result there are a number of 40k Wikis on the web. The big three though are Lexicanum, 1d4Chan and the 40k Fandom wiki.

Lexicanum is – in my opinion – the most reliable as it insists that all information must be properly sourced. It can be a bit dry and academic though, being very much the “just the facts ma’am” 40k wiki.

Your Spiritual Liege

1d4Chan (when it hasn’t gone offline, which it seems to do regularly) is an obscenity laced carnival of memes that – once you scrape off all the hyperbole – is often surprisingly accurate. It’s also the only of the big three to really include meta-information – that is to say info about the history and community of 40k . If you want to understand the hate directed towards C. S. Goto, or know why Matt Ward is your spiritual liege it’s the place to go. On the downside it’s not updated that much any more, and if not tempered with more reliable sources can easily delude new 40k fans into confusing memes and jokes (usually very dated memes and jokes – like those involving Matt Ward and C. S. Goto…) with actual lore (For instance the Death Korp of Krieg are not suicidal and they do not regard shovels to be their ‘cultural weapon’, and you cannot kill Orks by pointing a gun at them and shouting ‘bang!’).

The 40k Fandom Wiki… well, to be frank, I do not like it. Its moderation and sourcing rules are extremely lax – pretty much anyone can post anything they like there and it’s up to other uses to spot and correct it. Which brings us back to the Genesis Chapter…

On February 8th 2011 – yes, that’s over a decade ago folks! – some wanderer of the digital waste decided to have a bit of fun with the Genesis Chapter Fandom Wiki page and made a series of edits to the info box, which I shall display here as a before and after screenshot…

Sussudio – first charted by Explorator Petrus Gabriellus in 994.M30!

Such wit! Such satire! Actually, to be entirely honest, it’s exactly the kind of joke I’d make, but I certainly wouldn’t go and vandalise a wiki with it!

The joker’s changes were reverted pretty quickly, but whoever did it seemingly lacked the necessary knowledge of Phil Collin’s back catalogue to recognise the war cry as part of the prank, even adding quotes around it to standardise the format. And so it has sat there unchanged for 11 years, spreading through the fan community as the accepted war cry of the Chapter!

I may try to do something about this. Or I may not. All in all I suppose we should just be glad that the Genesis Chapter don’t charge into battle yelling “Billy don’t you lose my number!”

A Baneblade on the Roof

His name is Mal-Mal-Malcador!
The greatest Sigillite!

No treasure too old, no psyker too bold,
Who’s that!? Malcador the Sigillite!

Well hello there! I’m Malcador, the last surviving member of the Ancient Order of the Sigillites. My friends call me ‘Mal’ but you can call me First Lord of Terra and second in command of the Imperium of Man. I make sure the Emperor’s will is done – when the big E says ‘jump’ we don’t even bother asking how high! (If we get it wrong he’ll let us know!) But it’s not all work, work, work in the Emperor’s service, no siree! We know how to have a good time too – isn’t that right Horus?

MalM-Malal

Oh don’t mind him! He’s just trying to pronounce the name of one of the Lost Primarchs. Keep at it Horus, you’ll get it one day! Yes, we inhabitants of the Imperial Palace work hard, but we also play hard! As my good friend Constatin Valdor will agree! Get over here Constantin!…

Power Armour Through the Ages

Let me tell you, discovering that your site isn’t running is just a GREAT way to start the day. Turns out MySQL fell over for some reason. I’ll need to keep an eye on that…

Anyway here’s yet another blank 40k template, this time for all 8 Marks of classic Astartes Power Armour.

With Apologies to Leon Payne…

Can you fry me up some slab, Mamma?
‘Cause I’m as hungry as can be
Life in this hive is just so drab, Mamma
You know that everyone hates me

Like the Gangers with their hair, Mamma
Down by the manufactory arch
There was some lightning from the air, Mamma
And now they’re turning them to starch

Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
The warp into my mind it drips
Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
They’re gonna take me to the ships

You won’t believe the things I’ve seen, Mamma
When I lay me down to rest
I’ve been having crazy dreams, Mamma
About this lady named ‘Slaanesh’

She has all these wild plans, Mamma
And they all seem really great
But I just don’t understand, Mama
Why she keeps calling me ‘The Gate’?

Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
You think I’m gonna lose control
Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
They’ll put those bindings on my soul

You know the Temple by the shore, Mamma?
Well I was feeling kind of lost
So I walked in through the door, Mamma
But everything got rimed with frost

An Ecclesiarchy Clerk, Mamma
Offered me the Emperor’s Grace
Well I kind of went berserk, Mamma
And somehow melted off his face

Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
Please Mamma hide me here at home
Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
Don’t let them feed me to the Throne

Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
The Inquisition’s drawing near
Think I’m a Psyker, don’t you Mamma?
But Mamma…
Didn’t you die last year?

(And some versions of the original, in case you’re not familiar…)

The Herkimer Pattern Chimera

And while I’m posting homebrew Warhammer 40,000 content, there’s this…

The Herkimer Pattern Chimera was created in M41.338 on the order of Lord General Casanova Herkimer who desired a suitably martial – yet comfortable – personal transport to be used for post-battlefield assessment and ceremonial occasions. In the centuries since it has become a favourite vehicle for high ranking Astra Militarum officers, Ecclesiarchy officials and the occasional Inquisitor who value its enhanced sensor suite, extra armour and luxurious interior.

The Herkimer lacks the multi-laser turret and lasgun arrays of the standard Chimera, retaining only a hull mounted heavy bolter for defensive purposes*. The passenger compartment lacks a rear ramp or top hatch, with entry and egress only via a reinforced rear door – it does however feature heavily armoured windows and an optical periscope for comfortable surveying of the battlefield. The vehicle’s extra armour is compensated for with a souped-up engine, and the enhanced communication and sensor suite allow the occupants to keep in touch with their base, or easily issue orders to their underlings.

Herkimers are most usually seen in parades or during the mop-up after combat, however some desperate commanders have been known to throw them into battle, where they can act as surprisingly effective makeshift command vehicles. A few more eccentric Astra Militarum commanders actually prefer to control their troops from a Herkimer, although they will typically receive (carefully muted) ridicule from the common troopers for riding around in a “General Jitney” or “Chicken Chariot”.

* The Heavy Bolter may be swapped out for a heavy flamer, however this modification is unpopular as it requires the drinks cabinet to be removed to make room for promethium tanks.

Servo Skulls for a Crown Additional

I’ve formatted up my 40k rules for Saint Sabbat, and included an option to give her a retinue of Servo Skulls, as she had on Herodor. All still completely untested and probably badly overpowered. Enjoy!

The Great Necromunda Train Robbery

A few months back the great Duncan released the following video on how to build a brilliant techno-gothic locomotive out of Warhammer 40k scenery sprues…

There are a few bits I’d do differently if I was building one myself – a taller smokestack, sealing the rear of the engine assembly and moving the whole thing forwards a bit on the carriage – but overall, awesome!

Now, it’s intended as a terrain piece, but it got me thinking – why couldn’t you have some kind of battle actually on a moving train? The idea makes no sense for standard 40k, but for a skirmish game like Necromunda…

So naturally my brain immediately started throwing ideas around. A copy of the Necromunda rules and a whole lot of thinking later I’ve come up with a scenario I’m calling “The Great Necromunda Train Robbery”!

(It should be noted that I have never played a game of Necromunda in my life and have only skimmed the rules, so there are undoubtedly things I’ve got horribly wrong. Those that actually know what they’re doing with the game will need to bash my ideas into shape, and I’m more than happy to receive feedback on exactly what kind of bashing they’ve seen fit to employ.)

(Also you could probably adapt these rules to Kill Team, which I know even less about that Necromunda.)


THE PLOT

Automated trains run through and between the hives of Necromunda, carrying goods and supplies between mines, manufactoria and marketplaces. Your gang has decided to raid one of these trains, jumping on board at a slow turn then throwing off as much cargo as possible for later retrieval as it hurtles along its tracks. Unfortunately it seems a rival gang has had exactly the same idea for exactly the same train and a high speed confrontation is inevitable…

BATTLEFIELD

The battlefield is set up as a line of carriages, each of equal size. The carriage at the front of the train is the Engine. The carriage at the end of the train is the Caboose. There is no limit to the number of carriages but the minimum number should be five.

Each Carriage is categorised as a High Carriage or a Low Carriage. A High carriage is a tanker or bulk carrier. It can only be traversed by going over the top or climbing along the sides. A Low Carriage is a flatbed – there may or may not be cargo on it, but it can easily be climbed over or moved around.

The Caboose is a Low Carriage with a Control Console at the rear end (see below). The Engine is a High Carriage, with a Cabin at the rear end which contains a Control Console.

At least one Carriage must be equipped with a Defence Cannon at the front or rear end.

Two carriages (which cannot be the Engine or Caboose) are designated as Deployment Carriages. They must be separated by at least one other carriage and are where fighters will begin the game.

Each carriage (except for the Engine and Deployment Carriages) has a centrally placed Loot Casket.

CREW SELECTION

This scenario uses the standard rules for choosing a crew. Both players use the Custom Selection (X) method, however the number of fighters available is equal to the number of carriages +2.

TACTICS CARDS

Each player may select three Gang Tactics cards. If during the pre-battle sequence the total Credits value of fighters in one player’s starting crew is less than their opponent’s then they may randomly draw an additional Tactics card for each full 100 credits of difference.

DEPLOYMENT

The winner of a roll-off selects one of the Deployment Carriages and sets up their entire Crew on that Carriage. The other player then sets up their entire Crew on the other Deployment Carriage.

OBJECTIVES

Both gangs are attempting to throw as much cargo off the train as possible while preventing their enemies from doing the same. Each gang scores 1 point for each item of cargo thrown from the train and 1 point for each enemy fighter that goes Out of Action.

ENDING THE BATTLE

If one gang has no fighters left on the board at the end of any round, the battle ends immediately and the other gang scores D3 bonus points.

FLEEING THE BATTLEFIELD

If one gang voluntarily bottles out and flees the battlefield, their opponent automatically wins the scenario.

VICTORY

The gang with the most number of points at the end of the battle wins the scenario.

REWARDS (CAMPAIGNS ONLY)

CREDITS

Each unit of cargo a fighter throws from the train earns their gang 4 credits. The winning gang receives a bonus 1D6x4 credits. In the case of a draw, neither gang receive bonus credits.

EXPERIENCE

Each fighter that took part in the battle earns 1 XP.

The Leader of the gang that scored the most points gains an additional 1 XP (regardless of whether they took part in the battle or not). In the case of a draw, neither Leader gains this bonus.

REPUTATION

The victorious gang gains 2 Reputation. If either gang bottled out, they lose 1 Reputation.

SPECIAL RULES

SPEED

The Speed of the train is represented by a number from 1 (very slow) to 6 (very fast). At the start of the first Priority Phase roll 1d6 to determine the starting speed.

HAZARDS

Running around on a speeding train is dangerous. At the start of each Priority Phase roll 2D6 to see what Hazard occurs.

2D6 Effect
2 Engine Vents Steam
All fighters on the Engine (with the exception of fighters within the Cabin) must make an Initiative check or suffer a hit at 1d6 Strength
3 Rough Points
All fighters must make an Initiative check or suffer a hit at strength Speed. Additionally if they roll a 1 they are Thrown Off
4 Defence Protocols Triggered
All Defence Cannons fire at the nearest two eligible fighters at BS 4+.
5-6 Decrease Speed
Speed decreases by 1. If already at 1, no effect
7-8 Increase Speed
Speed increases by 1. If already at 6, no effect
9 Low Beam
All fighters on top of a High carriage must make an Initiative check or suffer a hit at strength Speed x 2. Additionally if they roll a 1 they are Thrown Off
10 Burnt Out Lumens
Pitch Black rules apply until the end of this round
11 Narrow Passage
All fighters on the side of a High carriage must make an Initiative check or suffer a hit at strength Speed x 2. Additionally if they roll a 1 they are Thrown Off
12 Gas Pocket
All fighters suffer a Choke Gas attack.

DEFENCE CANNON

The train is equipped with at least one Defence Cannon. This can only be operated from one of the Control Consoles. Defence Cannons cannot run out of ammo and never need to be reloaded, they can however jam.

S
Rng
L
Rng
S
Acc
L
Acc
Str AP D Ammo Traits
12″ 24″ +1 4 -1 1 4+ Rapid Fire 2

ENGINE CABIN

A space at the rear of the the Engine is the Cabin. It has room for two fighters and provides Partial Cover. A fighter in the Cabin has access to the front Control Console.

CONTROL CONSOLES

There are two Control Consoles on the train, one in the Engine Cabin and the other at the rear of the Caboose. A standing fighter in the Engine Cabin or within 1″ of the Caboose Console may make a Basic Action to activate it and invoke an Effect. Each effect requires an Intelligence check with the modifier indicated. Both Consoles start the game Unlocked, but may be Locked with the appropriate Effect. The only Effect that may be attempted from a Locked Console is to Unlock it.

Console Effect Int
Modifier
Lock either console -3
Unlock this console -4
Speed train up by 1 (to a maximum of 6) 0
Slow train down by 1 (to a minimum of 1) 0
Vent Steam from Engine (as per Hazard Table) -1
Make one attack with a Defence Cannon (treated as if the fighter is at the Cannon’s location) -2
Throw three units of Cargo from the train -1

CARGO

A standing fighter within 1″ of a Loot Crate may make a basic action to throw a piece of cargo off the train. This scores 1 point.

MOVING BETWEEN AND AROUND CARRIAGES

A moving fighter may attempt to leap from one Carriage to another, provided that they have enough Movement to do so. The fighter stops at the end of the Carriage and makes an Initiative check. If they pass, they leap the gap and may continue moving. If they fail, their movement ends. If they roll a one they suffer a strength Speed hit.

Low Carriages have one level. High Carriages have two. A fighter may climb between levels of a High Carriage or jump down from the top level to the bottom level. A fighter may move along the side of a High Carriage, however this counts as Difficult Terrain.

THROWN OFF

If a Fighter is Thrown Off the train, they are placed next to the carriage they fell from, suffer a hit at strength Speed+2 and are Prone and Pinned.

GETTING BACK ON

A fighter beside the train may make an Initiative check with a negative Speed modifier to clamber back onto an adjacent carriage. If successful they are placed back on the top of a Low Carriage, or the side of a High Carriage.

ADVANCING THE TRAIN

At the end of the End Phase, after any Rally tests, move any fighters that are off the train back a number of carriages equal to the train’s Speed. Any fighter that goes past the Caboose is removed from the game and counts as Out of Action when making Bottle Tests and scoring points at the end of the game.


So, that’s it! Hope it works, and any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

The Saint

I’ve been thinking about how to field Saint Sabbat in a game of Warhammer 40,000.

Saint Sabbat. I can’t seem to find the name of the artist, but official GW art and hence copyright to them.

The obvious place to start is with the only Living Saint that actually has rules – Saint Celestine. I figure Sabbat should have the same statline as Celestine, with the exception of her movement, because while the Beati is undoubtedly awesome, the God Emperor declined to give her wings.

(It would have been highly thematic to give her 9 Wounds, but that’s just short of a Chimera APC, which seems a bit over the top)

MWSBSSTWALdSv
6″2+2+336692+

With stats sorted out the next step is wargear. Celestine wields the Ardent Blade – the handy-dandy, flame-throwing, power sword from hell, man! While very cool, this is a one of a kind weapon, and there is sadly a complete dearth of accounts of Saint Sabbat incinerating people with a sword thrust. So I decided to give her a knockoff Ardent Blade clone without the ranged attack.

Now a Saint cannot live by swords alone, so what else could Sabbat wield? Her description in Sabbat Martyr notes that her left hand is adorned with a gilded glove with eagle claws. This could simply be some Saintly bling, but I decided to do something with it. I have declared that the Eagle’s Talon gives anyone the Saint whacks with it a nice debuff, making it easier for everyone else to get stuck in.

Finally, what’s a Saint without ranged firepower? In Anarch she’s seen to be carrying a fancy golden autopistol, so let’s throw one of those in as an alternative for the Eagle’s Talon.

WEAPONRANGETYPESAPD
Power SwordMeleeMelee+4-32
Eagle’s TalonMeleeMelee+1-2*
* Target is at -1 Toughness until the end of the Battle Round
Master Crafted Autopistol12″Pistol 2301

Now we get to the fun bit, special rules!

I’m thinking that as Saint Celestine is a Saint for the Adepta Sororitas, Saint Sabbat should be a Saint for the Astra Militarum. So we’ll start by giving her the ability to inspire/boss around nearby infantry with Voice of Command. We’ll then nick Aura of Discipline from the great Commissar Yarrick, although we’ll call it Aura of Inspiration instead.

Checking back in with Celestine we’ll borrow The Armour of Saint Katherine, file off the serial numbers and call it Aquilan Aura, to represent that cool, glowing green eagle thing that shows up whenever Sabbat gets pissed off (see pic above).

Celestine also has that nice Shield of Faith ability. The 6+ Invulnerability Save is a bit much, but slapping down enemy Psykers is totally in character, so we’ll chop the save off it and call it No Miracles, Only Men (you know, since that’s a direct quote).

Finally we need something unique, an ability that only Saint Sabbat has access to. I can think of nothing better than giving her an Honour Guard. At the start of the battle a player fielding Saint Sabbat can designate a friendly unit with the INFANTRY and ASTRA MILITARUM keywords. As long as Saint Sabbat remains on the field that unit has +1 Toughness.

With that sorted the only thing left to do is set keywords and costs. Saint Sabbat’s Faction Keywords are IMPERIUM, ASTRA MILITARUM and <REGIMENT>, and her general Keywords are CHARACTER, INFANTRY, OFFICER and SAINT SABBAT. Her POWER level is 8 and points cost 150 – both estimates based on Saint Celestine

So, there we go. Completely untested and probably overpowered, but what the hey!

Saint Sabbat 40k Rules

Cartographic Armageddon

Guess what? I’m back on that 40k Mapping thing again!

Behold Armageddon, one of the most fought over planets in the Imperium, with a Chaos invasion led by a Daemon Primarch, two Ork invasions led by Margaret Thatcher and the current general insanity caused by GW’s decision to move the plot forward under its belt.

Armageddon tired of GW's Cartographic Ignorance
Armageddon tired of GW’s Cartographic Failures…

It’s a pretty nice map, however ever since its publication everyone at GW has completely forgotten how to read it.

Look at those lines. That’s right, the curved ones. They indicate that we’re not looking at a flat map, we’re looking at some kind of globular projection. Furthermore notice that the lines are slanted – that means that we’re not looking at the map from a  cardinal direction (north, south, east or west), but at an angle. And hey! Look in the upper right hand corner! One of the lines is marked as the equator! This tells us that north is to the upper left!

NORTH IS THAT WAY!!!
NORTH IS THAT WAY!!!

Unfortunately this is something that has escaped the notice of GW’s writers and artists who have consistently read it as a flattened, north oriented map, even publishing redraws of it with an upwards pointing compass rose slapped on top – most notably in the recent reprint of Gavin Thorpe’s Annihilation Squad (a damn good read actually, despite the compass directions being all screwy BECAUSE NO ONE AT GW CAN READ A GODDAMN MAP!).

Perhaps the silliest aspect of this are the planet’s famous equatorial jungles. If we look at the map above we can see that this name makes sense – they sit right across the planet’s equator. If we go by the later maps however they’re just randomly plonked running north to south, giving one the impression that whatever Ordo Cartographica scribe first charted the planet was hitting the amasec really hard.

So, what to do about this all this malarkey (apart from making a ranting blog post that no one else will ever care about)? Why, redraft the map of course!

Now, this is a bit easier said than done. The globular projection adds all kinds of distortions and while I am sure there is software out there that can correct them in the twinkling of a nurgling’s eye I don’t have access to them. So I decided to go old school and resort to paper and pencil.

Step one was to make the map grid a bit denser. I did this by tracing the existing grid in Inkscape and then running additional lines between each of them, splitting each of the existing map squares into four. Step two was to grab a piece of graph paper and sketch in the details of each square…

armageddon_map_corrected
So there we have it! That’s what a flattened out, north oriented Armageddon map really looks like! Armageddon Primus is actually north of Armageddon Secundus and the entire continent is stumpier than the angled view suggests

So, I now expect GW to start using this corrected version immediately! ;D

EDIT: Yes, it is rather strange that the continent to the west (the Dead Lands) is completely frozen over while the central continent (at the same latitudes) isn’t. There’s a clue to this in that the eastern continent (the Fire Wastes) appear to be barren desert. This would suggest that Armageddon has a pretty severe axial tilt combined with some rather weird orbital characteristics – which given its ancient history (no spoilers, but go read The Beast Arises…) is actually rather plausible.

Lesser Known War Machines of the Astra Militarum

The Leman Russ Expectorator
A rare model of Leman Russ battle tank, the Expectorater replaces its main armament with an Expectorator Cannon, which fires congealed globules of Space Marine phlegm at the enemy.

The limited supplies of Astartes saliva (which is collected by specialised Chapter Spitoon Servitors post-combat) restrict the use of the Expectorator to actions where it it expected to prove particularly effective, such as against Emperor’s Children Chaos Marines who have shown themselves to be horrified at the idea of being covered in rancid spit.

The Leman Russ Exasperator
The Exasperator Battle Tank swaps its main weapon with a bank of servitor powered mega-vuvuzelas. The indescribable cacophony produced has proven able to drive even Slaaneshi noise marines off the field, hands clamped firmly over their ears.

The Leman Russ Exnihilator
All attempts to create a hybrid of the Executioner and Annihilator Battle Tanks have so far met with failure, with many Astra Militarum Commanders firmly of the opinion that the Tech Adepts responsible only maintain the effort due to an unhealthy fascination with puns.