|Battle Cry||"Primus inter pares(First Among Equals)"|
|Founding||Second Founding (originally they were listed as Third Founding or later, but then got hit with the retcon stick. I wonder why...)|
|Successors of||Ultramarines (actually loyalist Iron Warriors descendants)|
|Primarch||Roboute Guilliman("adopted"); Perturabo("biological")|
|Homeworld||Lyria (formerly); Varsavia (current)|
|Specialty||Siege Warfare (chapter specialization), Prognostication (planning method/tribal beliefs), Headhunting (hobby)|
|Allegiance||Imperium of Man|
|Colours||Gunmetal and black, with silver helms and aquilas|
"Show me a fortress and I’ll show you a ruin."
- – Captain Eddan Bourne of the Silver Skulls
The Silver Skulls are a Space Marine chapter created in an unknown later Founding. They've been around since the days of Rogue Trader, decapitating heretics, covering their heads in silver and keeping them as trophies like Jeffrey Dahmer. This practice is also employed by the White Scars on the skulls of those captured by the Hunt.
Mostly known these days for starring in short stories and a full novel by Sarah Cawkwell.
The Prognosticator is the Silver Skulls equivalent of a Librarian. Prognosticators use various forms of divination to predict the future. These forms of divination often use psychic Tarot Card wafers, Rune Stones, etc. It is with their predictions that the Silver Skulls choose to go to battle, because their homeworld's culture places great reverence on psykers. In addition, they also serve as part-time Chaplains, for aforementioned reasons. Although if you think about it, that's a genuinely terrible idea, even by the standards of 40k's 'Put a lunatic in charge and assume it'll work out ok' style of poor choice making. Putting the dude who is most likely to get possessed by a daemon in charge of the spiritual well being of everyone else ? That, gentlemen, is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to minor problems. Like their Chapter Master, the Chief Prognosticator inherited the name Vashiro from his predecessors, the current one held it for over 500 years.
Recent Activities (Getting rekt by the Crons)
The Silver Skulls have been getting kicked in the balls by some other silver fuckers recently, with a Necron Tombworld awakening beneath one of their fortresses. The Necron lords made a game of it, with everyone taking turns to see who could kill the most defenders. Two weeks later one lord won and the Silver Skulls 4th company was annihilated. The rest of the chapter attacked the crons, blockading the dead system of Lazar without any explanation. Making sure not to tell anyone about the extremely dangerous foe who was likely within striking distance of Imperial worlds. Anyway the Skulls destroyed the primary tomb world, which of course caused all the secondary ones nearby to activate, turning it into a full scale war.
As if this whole thing wasn't bad enough for the Skulls, Anrakyr showed up to help the Necrons, and in the final battle used his powers to turn the guns of the crashed battle barge the Skulls were fighting around against them, then killed their chapter master. At that point the Skulls said "man, fuck this" and left, making sure not to let anyone know they lost the war, or that there was one to begin with. Because the moral of the story is to never tell anyone about the massive threat that just handed your ass to you if it means you'll look bad.
Who's the Father?
Some people think that the Silver Skulls, like the Blood Ravens, are possibly a loyalist fragment of a Traitor legion. In particular, people have considered the possibility that they are descended from the loyalist Iron Warriors 14th Grand Company (nicknamed the "Sons of Dantioch), lead by Warsmith Barabas Dantioch, that helped FORTIFY Ultramar during the Horus Heresy. The Ultramarine part being a cover Guilliman gave them to protect them from Imperial retribution for the treason of the majority of the Iron Warriors.
- First of all, the fluff had always explicitly stated that they only claimed to be Ultramarine successors (ever since their introduction in 2nd Edition, interestingly enough).
- It's stated that they don't know who their Primarch is.
- Centuries of testing by the Adeptus Mechanicus has been "inconclusive".
- Investigations into their lineage by the Ordo Hereticus has likewise been "inconclusive".
- The Inquisitor investigating them found "something" though and gave them a data crystal with the info. The contents were stated to possibly cause a civil war were it to become common knowledge.
- Their livery consists of a silver skull that looks nearly identical to the pre-Heresy Iron Warriors' Legion symbol.
- The character quote above, from one of the Silver Skulls Siege-Captains, echoes a quote from Barabas Dantioch: "Show me a palace and I’ll show you how an Iron Warrior would take it."
- The last part of their Catechism of Hate, Verse I of XXV: "While faithless traitors still live, there can be no forgiveness.". Implies that they feel they are in some form of penitence until every traitor is slain.
- Their chapter is very much like the Iron Warriors, just shinier and without hazard stripes.
- They have a penchant for siege warfare, up to including having a rank of SIEGE Captain, and have dedicated their 9th company from a reserve company of Devestators into specifically a SIEGE company.
- Their new Chapter Tactic favors retreating to fight again another day. Exactly what Dantioch wished to do against the Hrud. Which caused Perturabo to exile the Warsmith from the Iron Warriors in the first place.
- In the Imperium Secundus during the Horus Heresy, Dantioch and his Iron Warriors were accepted and beloved by the Ultramarines as loyalists, and eventually proclaimed that they marched for Maccrage. Essentially "honorary" Ultramarines. These loyal Iron Warriors were informally called the "Sons of Dantioch". However, upon Dantioch's assignment to the Pharos beacon, his "Sons of Dantioch" are nowhere to be seen.
- They apparently have the sheer weight of numbers to be one of the most active Chapters among all Chapters, after the opening of the Great Rift. Like the Minotaurs, their gene-seed has low rejection rates.
- Their main recruitment world is on the direct opposite side of the Ultima Segmentum from the homeworld of the Crimson Fists (Founded by Alexis Polux (aka Dantioch's bromanctic partner). And it would be just like Guilliman to have a bunch of Imperial Fists FORTIFY one side of the Segmentum, while having the Iron Warriors FORTIFY the other side.
Sarah Cawkwell, author of the Silver Skulls series, has stated that yes the chapter was founded by Dantioch's Iron Warriors, who were adopted by the Ultramarines.
While they have a somewhat Khornate hobby:taking skulls, though dipping them in silver and hanging them on walls instead of building a throne for a paraplegic sociopath. The writers have stated that the whole "superstitious" and "head-taking/skull collecting" thing is from the culture of their homeworld, not from their gene-seed or Astartes training. Basically, they are what would happen when you recruit Iron Warriors from superstitious feral tribesmen, train them in combat operations designed by Barabas Dantioch, and call them Ultramarines.
The most recent Space Marines 8th ed (2017) lists the Silver Skulls as directly descended from the Ultramarines, being one of the "Scions of
the Spiritual LeiGuilliman". However, you might still think this leaves the possibility that the Silver Skulls were snuck in as a successor during the Second Founding, being loyalists from a traitor legion. If they are Ultramarine descendants, then this is likely just a sign of respect and memory for Dantioch and the other loyalists Iron Warriors, but would not really explain why they engage in siege warfare since such a thing is distinctly un-Space Marine like. Don't forget, Big Bobby G had his memory wiped when he took in members of the Lost Legions so that even he would not know they had joined the Ultramarines, nothing stopping him from doing it again to protect Dantioch's boys.
That said, ADB also said that the fluff intentionally associates some chapters from two or three foundings with "Traitor/dubious gene-seed", but without confirming or denying if the fluff is true. The question is whether you believe the Second Founding to be one of the foundings ADB had in mind. If so, it is justifiable to read the Silver Skulls as a loyalist fragment of a traitor legion. If not, the Silver Skulls are just Ultramarines successors. There has never been as much traction to the Silver Skulls' murky origins in fandom as was the case for the Blood Ravens, and so you should not expect GW people to come out and explicitly clarify any intended/unintentional ambiguity. Aaron Dembski-Bowden also explicitly stated on the Bolter and Chainsword forum that the Blood Ravens are not a loyalist splinter of a traitor legion (or rather, that they're not allowed to have a definitive answer to their origins), and that chapters with murky origins are just bad writing to make them stand out, confusing readers about their basically vanilla origins. He says he has had the lowdown straight from the IP people of GW. Which is great and all but it is common for GW to not remember their own lore. Like later, in the book "Burning of Prospero", a psyker scrying the future of the Thousand Sons' Corvidae Cult includes "lost sons and a Raven of Blood" looking for knowledge, but it being denied to them. That's not even a subtle in-lore confirmation that the Blood Ravens are successors of the Thousand Sons.
A Silver Skull in Mk IV armo- oh wait thats a Horus Heresy-era Iron Warrior.