|Space Sharks/Carcharodon Astra|
|Battle Cry||"From the void we come - darkness there, and nothing more" Alternatively:  sometimes this can be heard being hummed by chaplains in high gothic and "this" can be heard as the warcry for the scout company|
|Founding||Either 2nd (according to a GW article) or 23rd (according to FFG) Basically Unknown|
|Successors of||Raven Guard, but possibly chimeric (Night Lords, World Eaters, etc. )|
|Successor Chapters||None (thankfully)|
|Chapter Master||Tyberos the Red Wake|
|Primarch||Corvus Corax, if chimeric then Curze, Angron, all of them...(definitely not jaws or his sons)|
|Specialty||Think of the Night Lords and Raven Guard doctrine, but added with planetery and Chain Axe rape.|
|Colours||Grey, with black pauldrons and white helmet faces (and the occasional blood splatter)|
"He could sense the Company Master's fury, the rage he was battling to keep in check. The Blindness was beckoning to him, that precipice poised above a black sea of hatred and needless slaughter-sacrifice."
- – Chief Librarian Te Kahurangi's assessment of 3rd Captain Akia
"Y'know, the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at you, he doesn’t seem to be livin’… until he bites you, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah, then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and… they rip you to pieces."
- – Ned Quint, Jaws
The Carcharodons (High Gothic Carcharodon Astra , low Gothic Space Sharks ) are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of unknown heritage. Little is known about them, aside from the fact that they usually appear amidst campaigns quietly and unannounced, and respond to threats with surprising ruthlessness and brutality. They are noted to use much older (and very patched-up) Heresy-era armor and weaponry (in Red Tithe a squad carries around a volkite caliver, an extremely rare piece of tech in the 41st millennium, and their 3rd Company captain wears a suit of Mark III armour that bears an insignia indicating participation in the Terran Pacification War (their "first battle honour"), and in battle seem to be utterly silent, even when visiting bloody murder on their foes (just like the Sons of Malice, coincidence?).
Very old records say they were sent out on a crusade outside the borders of Imperium-controlled space, for all intents and purposes, to preemptively kill anything that may or may not be a future threat to the Imperium of Man. And to our best knowledge, they were promptly forgotten about, because when they showed up again, no one knew who the hell they were or what side they were on.
The Carcharodons "officially" return to the Imperial consciousness during the Badab War, where it's kinda hinted that they're Raven Guard mutants or descended from those other deranged genocidal space marines - the Night Lords. Siding with the Loyalists in the conflict, the Chapter descended in strength upon the worlds of the Mantis Warriors, and it is in this phase of the campaign that the Chapter's reputation for bloody violence was made known. With the Mantis Warriors forced to surrender, the Chapter was then set upon Badab itself. There they helped conclusively secure victory for the Imperials -- by detonating the reactors of the primary hives on the planet. The resultant tectonic upheavals eventually destroyed Badab, and to this day the Star Phantoms pin the blame on the Sharks for the losses they experienced in the hurried evacuation that followed, but the war was officially won.
For its troubles, the Chapter returned to the Endymion Cluster one last time, ransacked the fortresses of the Mantis Warriors for material and their worlds for recruits, and quietly returned to the darkness of the galactic plane where it originally came from.
Their leader is Tyberos the Red Wake, a badass motherfucker who couldn't decide if he liked lightning claws or chainfists better, so he made (or took from the Ashen Claws, as Outer Dark hints) Hunger and Slake, a pair of Lightning Chainclaws... the ugly offspring of the two weapons after a couple glasses of Black Label and a night of extremely violent and questionable life choices, that allow him to one shot (swipe? stab?) Tyranid Carnifexes and Space Marine Dreadnoughts. This would usually make anyone else a Mary Sue, but this guy is so badass (and has the most awesome weapons in the setting), that he has earned immunity (so long as he doesn’t
punch guys in space without wearing a helmet Mucranoid). Though very quiet in the way of formal encounters, Tyberos, when war ensues, becomes something that nightmares piss themselves to think about. During the Badab War, Tyberos wrote a name for himself and his chapter across the surface of the planet in the blood of the Mantis Warriors. Clad in a set of ancient Terminator Armour, Tyberos was always on the front lines, and ensured that the traitors paid for all the trouble they caused in blood and resources, going about this task in the grimly silent fashion known to be common to the Carcharodons.
Organization and History
The Sharks are a fleet-based chapter. At some point in their history, Rangu (their word for the Emperor) or the Forgotten One (either the Primarch of the origin legion or the Founding Chapter Master) banished/self-exiled them from their home world and set them to hunt amongst the stars and slaughter the enemies of the Imperium with no quarter. To this day, no one knows why they were banished. To this end, they were granted the rite of Tithe; the Grey, all the physical material they needed for their duty, and the Red, a claim to prisoners, rebels, rejects, and other detritus for ship crew and potential recruits. They are explicitly forbidden from taking serving members of the Adeptus Terra (read - anyone from any other branch of the Imperium) in their tithing. The Grey Tithe is usually a semi-regular swap meet with allied members of the Mechanicum, bartering a few pieces of archeotech for freshly made materiel.
Another chapter wide trait is an intentional lack of ego and individuality. Every new Carcharodon recruit is stripped of their original name and given a new one derived from the chapter's history, along with a numerical designation. Each battle brother is only a part of the utility of the whole, leading Carcharodon command to eschew concepts like honour and pride-driven vengeance that drive other chapters to action. Only by following their ancient mandate of exile can they be worthy. They hope their actions (or more likely their descendants' actions) will redeem them for their crimes and allow them to return home, wherever that might originally be. Most chapter veterans don't believe this and channel their shame and remorse into meticulously violent murder. This also ties into their nomadic nature, as they can't risk wasting time and resources on badly thought out plans.
The Carcharodons follow the battle half of the Codex Astartes, but ignore everything else about force organisation. Cruising around in the void beyond the galaxy's edge can be nasty business, and years without resupply or any kind of logistical support means they must be both flexible and resourceful. Each company practices high self-reliance - salvaging, repairing and re-purposing stuff to make sure it lasts as long as possible. This is why they sport so much working Heresy-era gear and why stuff like vehicles and Terminator armour are often kept together using a variety of patterns and models. Because of this, Techmarines are seldom seen on the battlefield. They also don't use reserve companies. Each company is thought to be a self-contained force, with their own scouts and veterans, ensuring they've got guys for every situation on hand. This has drawbacks of course, as they can't simply ask for reinforcements from a reserve company and must make do; for this reason Apothecaries are prized and kept off the front lines since every Marine makes a difference. At the same time it means that they've got all their companies actively doing stuff.
It seems likely that their scorched earth campaign during the Badab War was in fact more of a violent looting spree, restocking the Carcharodons' inventory after having spent so long outside known space. Filling up on ammo, weapons, armor, supplies, and grabbing everything that wasn't nailed down, followed by the nails, and then everything that used to be nailed down, before destroying anything else the enemy could possibly have had a use for. We do know that they claimed a bunch of recruits post-Badab, and they probably do this after all their big campaigns (maybe every time they come back into contact with the Imperium). The Red Tithe novel appears to confirm this theory; the Carcharodons' 3rd Company, having just come off a nasty brawl with some Tyranids, rocked up to a remote Imperial prison planet with the intent of claiming all of its inmates as either serfs or potential recruits. A Night Lords warband had the same idea and arrived just before they did; the two groups proceeded to have a slight disagreement about who was going to empty out this wretched hive of scum and villainy. After several rounds of murder tag (and several thousand casualties later), the Carcharodons were victorious. They scooped up all the prisoners, stripped the place bare, and took off before Imperial reinforcements could arrive.
The Imperium at large is mostly unaware of their existence, and even the Inquisition seems to have only limited information about them. The Sharks' complete lack of glory-seeking behavior doesn't help with this; for example, a badly depleted company of Blood Angels were relieved by a Carcharodons attack force during the Seventh Black Crusade, during which Sharks managed to impress/concern Papa Sang's sons by being even more batshit-crazy murderous in assault than the Angels were. When the dust settled, the Blood Angels were given a fancy memorial (and got a whole spaceport named after them) but the Space Sharks went unremembered, save for a few crumbling statues in a forgotten corner with blank obsidian disks for faces. Isolated parts of the Mechanicus are aware of them, partly because of the Grey Tithe, but this is implied to be because they are hoarding the relics the Carcharodons retrieve for themselves, rather than returning them to the Mechanicum proper. Which is what the Mechanicus brass (pun!) would have done anyway so whatever.
A few members of the Inquisition have naturally raised concerns about this apparently undocumented force of Astartes just wandering around the galaxy with a predilection for wholesale slaughter and leaving very few survivors on either side when they're done. As an example from Carcharodons: Outer Dark, in order to force a Genestealer cult out into the open on a Shrine World, the Carcharodons gave the order to shut down every temple and pilgrimage site on the planet, knowing that this would cause mass civil unrest and thus force the cult to move ahead with their plans prematurely. It ended up totally working and disrupting the imminent Tyranid invasion, but it also turned out that there were so many cultists on the planet that the Carcharodons decided "fuck it, the Emperor can sort them out" and promptly started just killing everyone at hand with the help of some Ashen Claws renegade Marines they'd invited along for the ride. There was only one survivor left from the ensuing chaos afterwards: an inquisitorial aide who had also been the sole survivor of the events of Red Tithe and had now witnessed a) a Space Marine force of questionable loyalty slaughtering a planet's population wholesale, b) while being allied with genuinely renegade space marines, and c) had also seen a Carcharodons Librarian apparently being partly bonded to a daemon that had been haunting her too. Loyalist chapters have been exterminated for far less.
Well, not really. The slaughter was justified and usually the Imperium would have used Exterminatus in that situation instead of killing everyone conventionally. Well, yes really. Ironically this means they “saved” the planet... Just not the population.
Initially, many fa/tg/uys speculated that the Carcharodons were of Raven Guard or Night Lord descent, or possibly a loyalist remnant. A minority also speculated that they might be World Eater remnants, though since that seems to be the old Minotaurs' schtick it's probably not true. Moreover, given that they are believed to have been founded by M32 and most of their wargear appears to be Heresy-era, they are most likely of the Second Founding or a product of the Heresy.
Most of the evidence for these theories is based on their military tactics and the few descriptions we had of marines outside of their armour. Socially, a lot of their imagery, language, and chapter culture has Polynesian influences, which don't map onto any existing legion's background and, owing to their recruiting practices, are not tied to a known world.
Their favoured tactics, relying heavily on stealth and surprise, would seem to fall in line with the Raven Guard's combat doctrines, at least on a strategic level, where they appear suddenly into whatever battlezone they are targeting without warning. However on a tactical level, they are comparatively unsubtle ; their preference for close-combat, total slaughter, and the strategic use of terror put them at odds with the "tacticool operator" style of the modern Raven Guard. Their method of war is closer to the pre-Heresy Night Lords, if substantially higher in body count, or the World Eaters, if they were a little more subtle. To give an example, they appeared above a shrine world and immediately took command despite the mass unrest such an action caused. They then forcibly shut down the shrines the world was famous for, thus provoking a miniature rebellion and coaxing the genestealer cult out of hiding. So whilst they have subtle overarching goals, they are merciless in their methods.
Physically, the Carcharodons displayed pale white skin and black eyes with black sclera. These were common traits of people living upon Lycaeus and Nostramo, the homeworlds of Corvus Corax and Konrad Curze, respectively. While the modern Raven Guard exhibit these traits as a result of mutations within their gene-seed, Imperial Armour states that the Space Shark's gene-seed is unusually pure, i.e. stable, and that these traits are unlikely to be the result of mutation. However, their Chief Librarian has toothy denticle growths on his elbows and around his neck which comes from a "degraded genetic inheritance" which essentially gives him sharkskin. This condition affects the entire chapter, but is much more common on older Carcharodons. They also suffer from something they call the "the Blindness", a condition that can make them lose all control during combat to the extent they may even attack their own.
This makes their appearance all the more unusual, as the Carcharodons are known to take recruits from the worlds they conquer, meaning there is no common genetic source that could explain their development other than through their gene-seed. Interestingly, the Chief Librarian also seems to make a note of the 3rd Captain's particular genetic heritage, as if it were somehow significant. It may very well be that the Carcharodons have more than one gene-seed source; Corvus Corax was noted for his snow-white skin, and Konrad Curze for his black eyes.
The Short Version: Official fluff presents their origins as being ambiguous, even to the point of mutual contradiction within the same story. Both Raven Guard-offshoots and Night Lords believe they are related, whilst they retain a lot of World Eater style equipment and tactics. Said Raven Guard offshoots even suggested that they could also be related to the World Eaters, although this might have been figurative. As with a lot of GW fluff, it's unlikely to get explained.
Excerpts from Red Tithe and Outer Dark
Red Tithe: (context: a Night Lord is observing the similarities between his legion and the Carcharodons. Also a daemon says that the Carcharodons are the lost brothers of the Night Lords) "These Loyalists were different from the ones he’d outwitted in the past. None of his Claw leaders reported having ever encountered them before. Even Shadraith was seemingly without answers, practically abandoned by his pathetic daemonic patron. Their fighting style was not one Cull recognised. If anything, it seemed eerily like the Night Lords’ own doctrines."
"Cull was beginning to understand why his Claws had struggled. These loyalists were unlike any he’d encountered before. They bore a curious resemblance to the Night Lords themselves, but where the VIII Legion delighted in the terror they caused, these grey killers seemed to be without any emotions at all. "
(Context. A daemon is warning a Night Lord that the Carcharodons are hunting for them.) "Beneath the surface, Bar’ghul said. The daemon’s voice was distant, as though carried on a faint night wind. Others are coming to claim him. They must not succeed.
The Hunters in the Void. Your lost brothers.
Outer Dark: (Context. the Carcharodons and the Ashen Claws are negotiating for the Carcharodons to hand over some Raven Guard geneseed they had collected. The Ashen Claws even outright call the Carcharodons a different breed from the Raven Guard and traitor-born.)
"‘Enough of this,’ barked one of the other Space Marines at the high table, rising so fast that his chair clattered back. ‘This traitor-born scum has gone too far!’ ‘Sit down, Brother Tanthius,’ snapped a voice."
(Context. A Carcharodon is offering to trade a stock of Raven Guard geneseed for wargear from the Ashen Claws) "‘We bring more than just bolters and power armour,’ he said. ‘We bring the genetic legacy of your ancestors. Not much, for we have little enough to spare as it is. But it is pure.’
‘You have not contaminated it with your disgusting breed?’ Nev demanded."
The first mention of the Carcharodons says that their gene-seed might be Raven Guard, but doesn't expand on that. Given that this was during the time that the Blood Ravens were really in the popular vogue (as they still are to this very day), the idea that the Carcharodons are secretly Loyalist Traitors was pretty popular because their tactics are more like the Night Lords than anyone else's. GW has tried to walk it back a bit by saying the Raven Guard were basically the Night Lords only with Corax instead of Curze since then, but the debate still rages on because most of the documents supporting the Raven Guard hypothesis are speculative in-universe, and the Imperium would probably cover up a loyal Chapter being descended from Traitors if the Blood Ravens are anything to go by.
Horus Heresy III: Extermination suggests they're the descendants of Terran-born Raven Guard exiles led by Shade Lord Arkhas Fal, the grey armoured and white-faced pre-Corax XIXth Legion who had a reputation for going from stillness to extreme brutality and were basically taken under Horus Lupercal's wing in the centuries before their own Primarch was discovered. The exiles are referred to as a "nomad predation fleet" the same as the Carcharodons in the Badab War books and their cognomen during the early Great Crusade era was "Pale Nomads", a title given to them by the Luna Wolves and also the title of Te Kahurangi, the Chapter's current chief librarian, rumoured to be only three generations removed from the original exiles. The Reaper Prime (Captain) of the Third Battle Company wears armour bearing the skull and lightning bolts of the Terran Pacification War further highlighting the Chapter's links to the pre-Crusade Legions, and Tyberos' distinctive shark-like helmet is also featured in the book. In Horus Heresy 6 however they raid the Night Lords for supplies, which includes gene-seed (which would make them chimeric if they tried to use it) and in Robbie MacNiven's Black Library novels Red Tithe and Outer Dark (the only books we have dedicated to our jawesome friends) it outright states that the Space Sharks are a chimeric combination of Raven Guard and Night Lord gene-seed, so the debate rages on.
Following the publication of Imperial Armour 10, new evidence was published to support the Raven Guard theory by Games Workshop's licensors. Presumably the idea that every Traitor Legion has a secret Loyalist Successor was too much for them.
Fantasy Flight Games' Deathwatch RPG included rules for playing the Carcharodons (Honour the Chapter). Among the fluff, it is stated that Deathwatch Apothecaries have occasionally had the chance to analyze the gene-seed of Carcharodons slain in the service of the Deathwatch, and that they bear certain genetic markers unique to the Raven Guard. Of course, this being the Imperium of Man, you can never be certain what they're actually finding or if the records are accurate.
Forgeworld's Horus Heresy Book 3 included a bunch of new information on the Raven Guard, and their predecessor Legion, the Pale Nomads. The Pale Nomads were noted for being the Emperor's preferred operators, often stealthing their way into enemy fortresses and armies to slay their leaders should they refuse surrender, and adopting multi-angle strike-and-fade tactics if the enemy continued to fight on. The latter is a favored tactic of the Carcharodons on the battlefield. The Pale Nomads were known for crushing any hint of resistance, which some have equated to the Space Sharks decimating entire star systems in order to sow terror. Their tactics evidenced a disdain for humans that the Raven Lord couldn't stomach, which is similar to the attitude adopted by the Space Sharks during the Badab War when they Exterminatus'd Badab and hundreds of Loyalist Space Marines along with it. The Pale Nomads were also slavers who would take children from defeated worlds to raise as Legionnaires, a practice that the Space Sharks have adopted. The Xeric tribesmen from which the Pale Nomads recruited also had a tradition of tattooing their bodies and painting their armor with tribal markings.
This could possibly explain why the Space Sharks have an abundance of MkVI armor alongside their other Heresy-era tech, since the Raven Guard were the first to get their hands on them when they entered production during the Horus Heresy and that they're unusually stealthy with a variety of sensory systems to assist them in the void of space. Additionally, the Raven Guard were revealed to suffer from a gene-seed defect known as the Ash Blind or Sable Brand. Similar to the Black Rage, this defect caused otherwise normal Space Marines to charge into battle seeking only to destroy all trace of their foes, whether they lived or died. Those afflicted would develop eyes of solid black, and would neither speak nor reason until the condition passed. This sounds pretty similar to the Blindness that afflicts the Carcharodons.
Finally, it is stated that Corax would divest the Raven Guard of the surviving Terran-born Pale Nomads, whom he found too similar to the cruel lords he overthrew on Deliverance. One of the many branches of Raven Guard he sent off on isolated, never-ending crusades contained the Battle Barge Nicor, (an old English word for a water sprite or monster) later to be found in the fleet of Space Sharks who ended the Badab War.
Tellingly, in Horus Heresy book 3, Corax had no idea what happened to the fleet of Terran Exiles or to its master Arkhas Fal and made no effort to contact them in the build-up prior to the Drop Site Massacre. There is no evidence that these exiles were recalled after the massacre either, despite the 4000 men "officially" counting towards about half of the size of the remaining Legion, so they were considered an entirely separate force. They could simply have been designated a new Chapter following the end of the civil war.
According to the Carcharodons: Outer Dark novel, the descendant Marines of the exiles, still calling themselves the Ashen Claws, have settled on the planet Atargatis Prime, beyond the Ghoul Stars region. Only a few people, including the Space Sharks, know of their existence. When times are desperate, the Space Sharks will trade war machines and gene-seed for the Ashen Claws' aspirants and neophytes. It also turns out that Tyberos's kickass lightning-claw-chainfists once belonged to the Ashen Claws, but the Carcharodons apparently acquired them in an underhanded fashion, and the Claws are still pretty butthurt about it.
Contradicting the Raven Guard theory are some logical inconsistencies, the issue of their battle tactics, and recently published material from Horus Heresy Book 6 where it is revealed that the above-mentioned 4000 Terrans exiled by Corvax from the Raven Guard turned full renegade, calling themselves the Ashen Claws and abandoning the Imperium to build their own domain in the Segmentum Tempestus. With no contact from the Imperium, no support from the Emperor, and no reward for their loyalty, it seems likely that other Raven Guard exiles could have turned. Interestingly, this band of exiles raided the fortress worlds of the Night Lords for supplies before returning to the darkness beyond the Imperium.
The fact that the Carcharodons adhere to a known pattern of crusading behavior, the "Nomad-Predation Pattern," would seem to indicate that their "recruiting" practices aren't unique to any Legion or Chapter, but an established Space Marine tactic for dealing with long crusades beyond the supply lines of the Imperium. Rather than being a relic of Xeric nomads recruited by the Emperor, it seems likely that the Space Sharks are only unique in that they utilize this pattern exclusively, obeying the order to "ravage the foes of Mankind" in the darkness beyond the galactic plane. It also points to them either being formed prior to the implementation of the Codex Astartes or an utter disregard for it.
If the Space Sharks were founded during the Second Founding, you'd expect them to have roughly equal portions of their gear granted to them from their original Legion, and thus have higher proportions of more "modern" gear such as mark VI (Corvus) & VII (Aquila) plate, yet it is older mark V (Heresy) plate alongside Phobos pattern boltguns which predominantly fill the ranks. This points to the Space Sharks resupplying during the throes of the Heresy and their access to more recent patterns of wargear have come from salvaged or reclaimed equipment gathered over the years. Even their revered Terminator suits seem to be modified in unorthodox ways just to keep them operational. If they descend from any other Primarch, especially considering their tactics and manner of deployment, it's possible that they simply salvaged Nicor and other wargear from some distant and bloody battlefield.
The Space Sharks' preferred tactics are bloody and brutal, far more so than expected from any pre-Heresy Space Marine Legion besides the Night Lords and the World Eaters, although the information about the Raven Guard pre-Corax does resolve this inconsistency to an extent. During the Badab War they had no qualms about using the extermination of worlds and entire systems loyal to the Mantis Warriors to draw them into battle by the scale of their horror, and they would use the shattered survivors of their bloody attacks to demoralize and weaken rebel forces.
The history, as known, of the Space Sharks points to their being present during the Second Founding. Whether the Raven Guard exiles were recalled or returned on their own, or if they were a Loyalist remnant of the Night Lords, or more unlikely the World Eaters, and were given the chance to forge a new life and history, it seems odd that they would've been dispatched to such distant battlefields if they weren't regarded with mistrust by the High Lords of Terra. And assuming they possessed a reputation for such brutality that "ravage" is a more appropriate word for their orders than "harry" or "destroy," they should be descended from a Legion or portion of a Legion with a particularly bloody reputation.
Amusingly, the same Honour The Chapter splatbook that posits that the Carcharodons are descended from the Raven Guard also says they are of the 23rd Founding, descended from the Eagle Warriors. And the Chapter immediately preceding them in the splatbook, the Reasonable Marines, are definitively stated to be a Second Founding descendant of the Raven Guard. While the Raptors skin grows translucent and their hair grows darker as they age, the Space Sharks gain gray, shark-like skin and their hair turns whiter as they age. In addition, the Carcharodons by implication have a fully-functioning set of gene-seed organs, unlike the Raven Guard and Raptors who lack functioning Mucranoid and/or Betcher's Glands, as do other Raven Guard Successors.
The Carcharodons' deliverance of bloody and total judgment upon the followers of the rebellious Badab Chapters is in line with the Night Lords' pre-Curze and pre-Heresy role and attitudes towards those who failed the Emperor in loyalty or deed. Brutal purges of the disloyal would build into a reputation that became one of terror and bloody death under Konrad Curze, and his use of fear and fluid, almost wild maneuvers in battle are seen by some in the descriptions of the Space Shark's battles.
The Space Sharks' apparently fractious nature and their manner of giving personal titles of distinction and honor could be echoes of the Night Lords' practices as well. Many commanders and captains would have personal honorifics, like Zso Sahaal, who would either earn idiosyncratic titles or have lurid and unique ranks within the Legion's organizational structure. Likewise, The Red Wake could be an honorific specific to the Chapter Master or a personal one. As the Night Lords were grouped into semi-independent Companies with individual names, traditions, and markings, it's possible the Carcharodons could be one such Company that rejected the Heresy or returned to the Emperor's light. It would also explain why their forces never seem to gather in full Chapter strength; having passed down this tradition of building brotherhood solely within small, tribal bands like the gangs of Nostramo and fighting in semi-independent units as preferred by the Night Haunter, they would see little reason to fight together while other conflicts and enemies require their notice.
The Chapter's preference for close-combat is in stark contrast to the Raven Guard's preference for long-ranged and quick-moving strikes, especially as they prefer stealth and speed to the roar of assault jetpacks and jetbikes. However, these tactics were favored by the Night Lords and their Terror Squads. Indeed, the enforced silence and refusal to coordinate with Imperial forces of the Space Sharks is similar to the silence that Terror Squads would work with during the latter years of the Great Crusade. Rather than being a gene-seed curse, as with the Raven Guard, the Carcharodons simply isolate their vox nets and refuse to speak to anyone unless it is truly urgent and necessary.
As with the Space Sharks, the Night Lords were infamous for stealing the youth of conquered worlds for rapid implantation and hypno-indoctrination. While the former could also be a hallmark of the Nomad-Predation deployment pattern, the latter is a practice that seems to have been preferred by the Night Lords since it was the fastest and quickest way to make a new, battle-ready Space Marine in spite of the risks of instability and insanity it engendered.
Sharks are also ghostly, nocturnal predators, night haunters if you will, so there's that.
Yet another possibility maybe World Eaters, since Space Sharks are silent and brooding outside of battle but go absolutely batshit crazy when in battle, no questions asked, and they seem to have a preference for chain-axes, which is somewhat unusual among Loyalist Space Marines. The love of chain weapons is carried over in a few other ways; one marine has what can only be described as a chain-club / staff - with an enormous flat chain blade running up one edge and handles on the opposite side at either end (potentially doubling as a very heavy duty eviscerator). Their predilection for close-combat and bloody melee, to an even greater degree than the Space Wolves, would be in keeping with the attitudes of the World Eaters and the War Hounds. Like the World Eaters, the Space Sharks have a preference for Drop Pod assaults, fast vehicles like Land Speeders, and Assault Terminators, and it can be argued that Tyberos's Terminator bodyguards, the Red Brethren, are reminiscent of Angron's own Terminator posse, the Devourers. Some of their ships also possess Ursus Claws, which only World Eaters used (but then again, it could just be a salvaged ship).
The main problem with this theory is the Butcher's Nails. We can assume one of two things when it comes to the Nails:
- The Space Sharks learned to control their urges outside of battle, lest they snap and massacre each other since they're out in the void of space for long periods of time doing nothing.
- Or they could have simply phased them out of their recruitment process after the Horus Heresy, seeing as it drove the other World Eaters fucking bonkers and was detrimental in the long run.
And whilst there were very few loyalist Night Lords (only two examples in the canon thus far), there are canonically loyalist World Eaters, both at Istvaan III and scattered around the Imperium during the Heresy.
As another wrench is thrown in, in Robbie MacNiven's Black Library novel Red Tithe, it is heavily hinted that there are, in fact, multiple gene seeds utilized by the Space Sharks, primarily Raven Guard, Night Lords, and World Eaters. Given the typical canon conflicts that the Black Library is known for, this should be looked at with skepticism at least and as a half-assed excuse to explain why they have traits of all three Legions at best. Hopefully, this will be elaborated on in the future but for now, we can only theorize what this entails.
It is possible that the Carcharodons once consisted of Blackshields of Raven Guard and both loyalist Night Lords and World Eaters during the Horus Heresy, and after a time they were reformed into their own chapter and the traitor aspects of their origins were buried away. This could explain why their combat doctrine is an odd hybrid of their three supposed predecessors, any mutations they have are hard to connect to anyone Legion, why their equipment is so old and haphazard, and why they were sent out in the void of space due to their origins. Until we have hard evidence from Forge World itself on any such Blackshields, however, this is up in the air.
Another, simpler explanation is that, given the nature of the Space Sharks to scavenge whatever they find, it's possible that they harvested the gene-seed of the fallen marines they have killed. It's never explicitly said that their gene-seed is comprised of only the three suspected Legions; rather, it just happened to just be mostly the aforementioned three. For all we know they could trace back to every Legion through a small percentage of their gene-seed. Though admittedly, this train of thought makes their origin even harder to pinpoint as we don't have a clear-cut predecessor.
And it should be kept in mind that a good chunk of this information in the novel was divulged to one of the Space Sharks by a daemon. A daemon, for shit's sake. As we've seen with Magnus, Chaos usually doesn't give accurate information.
This said, this is practically confirmed in HH6, where the Ashen Claws (Raven Guard) raid the Nostromo Sector to take their gear and Genesee. So if the Carcharodons are the Ashen Claws or a related group/successor, then they're Raven Guard and Night Lords. As of the novel Outer Dark, sequel to Red Tithe, it has been confirmed that the Carcharodons are related to the Ashen Claws and have a shaky pact with them. When the Carcharodons' Red Tithes can't refill their ranks fast enough, they are permitted to conscript young boys for augmentation from the fragmented domains that the Ashen Claws hid in beyond the Imperium's borders in exchange for war material and fresh Corax-derived gene-seed. It also seems their relationship is a shaky one prone to conflict. This suggests that the Carcharodons origins may lie with the Raven Guard exiles but the two groups split over whether to remain loyal to the Emperor or not. Regardless, both are willing to secretly come together against threats from beyond such as the Tyranids. When exchanging gene-seed and wargear for aspirants and fleet support, however, the Ashen Claws make a point of confirming whether the gene-seed being offered had been "contaminated with their disgusting breed", implying either widespread degeneration and mutation, or chimeric gene-seed among the Carcharodons. Given how things were during the heresy, it's perfectly reasonable that there's some gene-seed from the Nostramo campaign in there, as well as some "loyalists" who joined up as Blackshields, seeing as they spent the Heresy as an independent force at the edges of the Imperium.
04:00 Wake Up - The Space Sharks emerge from their tanks. Before leaving, they make sure to feed their pet sharks.
05:00 Morning Prayer - The Space Sharks pra(e)y that the Emperor give them plenty of enemies to kill. The Chaplains do not speak during the service, merely gesture angrily. Any Marine who prays to be turned into a shark is forced to fight a real shark while bound.
06:00 Morning Firing Rites - The Space Sharks engage in ranged combat. The bolters are discarded within five minutes and the sharks charge into melee. Chapter serfs who often come to clean up afterwards are shocked to see chainswords, powerswords, knives, hammers, axes, and the occasional bite mark in the target dummies. Most of the dummies appear to be fish shaped. Blasting enemies point blank with a Bolt Pistol to also hit the guy behind him while gutting a third is heavily favored.
08:00 Morning Battle Practice - The Space Sharks practice combat maneuvers. Most training focuses on underwater combat. Eating the enemy is a heavily encouraged tactic.
10:00 Morning Meal - The Space Sharks consume a light meal consisting of a barrel of live fish. The marine who eats the fastest gets to hold the chapter relic: a shark tooth.
11:00 Tactical Indoctrination - The Space Sharks learn what is friend and what is food. They must constantly be told that bluberries are not food, but friends. They also learn to brutally eviscerate tanks and other armored structures. The viewing of Jaws is sometimes allowed for educational purposes.
13:00 Afternoon Meal - The Space Sharks collectively attack a Catachan Devil. The use of ranged weapons is forbidden, and the battle brother who rips the tail off gets to eat the first bite. Generally, it will be eaten shortly after death.
15:00 Afternoon Battle Practice - The Space Sharks practice fighting against land enemies. Pulverizing Dark Eldar and Necrons with Power Fists and Hammers is heavily encouraged. Battle Brothers who get bored may target Orks and Cultists.
16:00 Afternoon Firing Rites - The Space Sharks fire upon cut outs of Shark Hunters and surfers. This time, the Chapter Serfs find few bolter casings and instead find bite marks.
17:00 Evening Meal - The Space Sharks consume a live Squiggoth. As per tradition, only the use of Rusty kitchen utensils, glass, rocks, and hammers is permitted. Stabbing at the eye is heavily encouraged.
19:00 Evening Preyer - The Space Sharks gather to worship and give thanks to the Void Father. Once a month, the Space Sharks celebrate communion by drinking fish oil and eating surfboards.
20:00 Free Time - The Space Sharks are permitted to engage in recreational activities. Playing with and feeding pet sharks in encouraged, whilst watching "Sharknado" and other comedies is another popular activity. If they've been especially good, marines may be allowed the privelge of feeding the megalodon that lives in the aquarium behind the Nicor's bridge with captured heretics and xenos.
23:00 Sleep Time - The Space Sharks are sent back to their tanks for rest.
On the Tabletop
Carcharodons Chapter tactics gives all Space Marines models Fear, and allows Tactical marines to replace their bolters with a chainsword or keep it and buy an additional close combat weapon for 1pt each. In addition they gain Rage after destroying or forcing an infantry unit to fallback in close combat, however they must consolidate towards the nearest unit they can hurt (after all, the rape train has no brakes!). This can make stuff like Vanguard Veterans, Assault Marines, or even bikes surprisingly dangerous. Even a full batch of 10 footslogging Tacticals with extra CC weapons can be a pretty scary thing to face up against. Also, Dreadnoughts with Fear and Rage? Yes please.
Tyberos, their beloved Chapter Master, is quite the beast. He can destroy just about anything in the game in close combat. His Scent of Blood rule makes him and and any Carcharodon unit subject to Rage +1 strength for the rest of the game. He is reasonable enough to wear a helmet and does not carry a banner and a shitton of flashy trinkets on his armour, unlike most other chapter masters, whose wargear just screams "Shoot me down, sniper!" Also, allows you to take a unit of lightning claw equipped assault terminators as troops; and he and any unit he joins have preferred enemy (infantry).
You can only ally with Imperial Forces and all of those are bumped down to Desperate Allies. All this means that, with them, you play Horus Heresy World Eaters with Fear and all the shiny new toys of the 40k arsenal of Space Marines.
They also have a couple of unique psyker powers:
- "From The Depths": The librarian casting this causes his targets to become intensely frightened, hallucinating about being in the deep dark depths of the ocean, immobilizing their opponent so that the Carcharodons can finish the target without a fight.
- "Rending Maw": The librarian summons a giant spirit shark that comes up out of the ground and bites the shit out of anyone unlucky enough to be there at the time.
Currently, the only Carcharodons-specific thing in the game is Tyberos, in the Forge World Imperial Armour book. This go around he's got a standard Terminator CHAPTER MASTER profile (which means he's been upgraded to the same 4++ the others have) with an extra Attack and one less Ballistic Skill (which doesn't matter as he has no guns). Wargear-wise, Hunger and Slake are now unique weapons - a chainfist and lightning claw equivalent respectively, except Hunger has +1 Damage and Slake has +1 Damage and -1AP. In special rules terms he's got the standard Terminator CHAPTER MASTER ATSKNF, teleport deep strike and hit rerolls for CARCHARODONS within 6" (renamed Lord Reaper of the Void), but he also gives them +1 Strength thanks to his unique ability Savagery Beyond Reason (doesn't need activating any more, but it's now only a 6" bubble instead of the whole table). He's a great choice to lead a Deep Striking Assault Terminator squad, but at a little over 200 points you'll need to place him where he can do maximum damage to earn back that cost.
Codex Space Marines didn't bring any special joy for the Carcharodons. The White Scars Chapter Tactic is the GW-recommended "appropriate" one for them, even though they're (probably) Raven Guard successors (mostly because the Raven Guard tactic involves being sneaky rather than murdering the bloody fuck out of everything in melee). This gives them 2" of extra movement whenever they Advance, and allows them to charge the same turn they Fall Back. If you do choose to go with the Raven Guard one, enemies that are more than 12" away get -1 to hit you. Seeing as you'll probably be aiming to get right in their faces and stab them, this is probably a poor choice. Alternatively, The Imperium's Sword from the generic list is pretty good for a stabby warlord.
The Black Templars are your best bet if you want to maximize your melee potential. Rerolling charges is simple, but very effective, especially for Tyberos and his terminator posse when they warp in 9" from an enemy unit. Access to Crusader Squads is also nifty, especially if you want to emulate their previous rules of Tacticals having an extra CC weapon.
Here is an approximation of what 6th/7th edition rules would look like if they were updated to 8th, for the Carcharodons. Warlord Trait: Carcharodons. Reavers of the Outer Darkness: Friendly CARCHARODON units within 6" gain: In the FIGHT phase, if this unit is fighting a unit that has lost any models, that unit being attacked reduces their Toughness by 1 for the remainder of the phase.
Carcharodon Ability: Blood Hunger: CARCHARODONS models gain +1A in a turn that the charged.
An alternative Chapter Tactic for the Carcharodons is this...
Carcharodon Ability: Terror from the Void: Models in enemy units must subtract 1 from their Leadership characteristic for each unit with this trait that is within 6" of theirs (to a maximum of -3)
With the release of the revised space marine codex, successor tactics let you pick 2 of 18 tactics to represent them on the table top. Some of the most fluff related ones are
Fearsome Aspect: -1 Leadership to enemy units while they're within 3" of any of your units
Hungry for Battle: +1" to the advance or charge roll.
Tactical Withdrawal: Units with this tactic can charge after falling back.
Whirlwind of Rage: When making melee attacks for a unit that charged, was charged or made a Heroic Intervention,unmodified hit rolls of 6 score an additional hit.
OR! OR! OR!
Play them as successors to White Scars. You won't find better tools elsewhere to get into assault with and butcher things when you get there. Advance and/ Fallback and charge from their Chapter Trait; and +1 damage from Devastating Charge when the assault doctrine is active. Vastly superior to any of the successor Chapter Traits. As Whites Scars have relic, stratagems and Psychic powers that replicate "Hungry for Battle". While Tyberos’ +1S 6” aura, or +1S 6” aura from the relic banner is going to be far more effective than "Whirl Wind of Rage".
For and example of some of the combos you can do with Carcharodons as a White Scars successor. Take Tyberos using the "Hero of the chapter" stratagem to take the Imperium sword WL trait for +1 A and +1S, and re-rolling any or all charge dice. Now he's S6 boosting Hunger to: S12/AP-4/Dam3 with 7 attacks on the charge; and Slake S6/AP-3/Dam2/re-rolling failed wounds. You can do this as he doesn't have a fixed warlord trait and doesn't have to be your warlord. You can deep strike him along with a unit ten Assault Terminators with the Sgt using the "Khan's Champion" stratagem for Master-crafted Damage 5 Thunder Hammer. Now take a Terminator Librarian with the "Ride the Winds" psychic power for +2 to charge, and the "Plume of the Plains Runner" relic for a 6" aura granting +1 to advance and charge. Then if you need too. You activate the "Fierce Rivalries" stratagem to roll 3D6 to charge discarding the lowest; and you can command re-roll if needed for a 6" charge on 4D6.
For even more pain take a Jump Pack Captain as your actual Warlord with "Chogorian Storm" for +D3 attacks on the charge, then use "Tempered by Wisdom" to take "Master of Snares" as your second warlord trait for a 4+ roll to prevent an enemy unit falling back. You can now either arm him with an expensive Thunder Hammer, or go cheap with "Teeth of Terra" for +3 attacks for 8+D3 attacks at S5/AP-2/Damage 2. Personally, I'd take the Thunder Hammer and a Jump pack Lieutenant with the Teeth of Terra for re-rolling wounds. You can either outflank him or deep strike in with some double chainsword Vanguard and/or Assault Marines. All you jump pack infantry can advance and charge. Then next turn fallback, shoot and charge in again getting the bonus for shock assault again. Just brutal. Take a Jump Pack Chaplain with either "Benediction of Fury" relic for +2S/AP-2/ Damage 3; and or a Master-crafted Power Fist. For his litanies you can either take "Mantra of Strength" or "Canticle of Hate" for 6" aura of +2 to charge rolls, as well as +3" to pile in and consolidation moves. Canticle of Hate is the most useful if you start him on the board; since you can either move your jump pack units up with him or deep strike them into his aura.
For you troops you can take MSU Incursors or Intercessors with auto bolt rifles so they can they can move, advance, shoot and still charge. Then fallback, shoot and charge back in for that shock attack bonus. Taking a large unit or two of Scout Bikes is also very good in this build.