Previously known as 22.214.171.124.
I write Yet Another Alternate Heresy, the Vulkanite Heresy, which for now is all stored on reddit. I also make homebrew fluff for various chapters and warbands, particularly Tzeentchian CSM warbands which aren't Thousand Sons descendants.
Perturabo And Mortarion Did Nothing Wrong.
Before the Macharian Crusade, the Thronebreakers were a Loyalist Space Marine chapter known as the Chainbreakers, believed to be of Raven Guard stock. The Chainbreakers were known for their intolerance toward slavery, cruelty, and tyrants. This being so, they eagerly volunteered to take part in the Solonian Crusade to put down the petty tyrants of the Macharian Heresy. But as they passed through the same worlds again and again for decades, with one vile tyrant subdued only to be replaced by another petty king in a few short years, they grew dispirited and cynical. As that crusade was nearing its end, they responded to reports of butchery of civilians on yet another world (Formal Prime), verified the reports, and set into motion their battle plans from the previous action on the planet. (They were depressed to find the plans needed only minor revisions, so similar was the current tyrant from the last. They were not, however, the least bit surprised.)
On the 130th day of 465.M41, as they finished their deployment (largely covert, in the style of their probable progenitor legion) and commenced their attack, their fleet elements in orbit received a message marked 'most urgent'. Absorbed in coordination of the assault, their chapter master took no notice until the planet's butcher-in-chief was subdued, his personal guard dead, and most of the building which housed the apparatus of government destroyed. (In what the Raven Guard would have considered a mark they had already begun to fall, casualties within the minor functionaries of the government were quite high, as they were during other assaults during this later half of the crusade.) As they gathered their forces to leave for the next Emperor-forsaken hellhole and notify the Adeptus Terra that a world stood ready for them to give a Governor, the message - nearly a day old - finally was read. It ordered the Chainbreakers to cease their assault immediately, as the world they were deploying on was in Imperial hands and the Imperial Governor's actions sanctioned by the Administratum.
Chapter Master Zir Hayrettin was enraged. They had done their bloody work for decades, and this was the reward? A tyrant as bad as any they had deposed, but "guided by the Emperor's light" and so considered just? To Hell with the Administratum. In the privacy of his personal cabin with only a handful of his captains as witness, he projected calm and formulated a reply: "Message received belatedly; operations ended and Astartes withdrawn. Status quo intact, governor returned to his capital." Technically true, for the precise targeting of a drop pod ensured that, while he would not survive the impact, the governor would certainly end that day within the capital's city limits.
It is believed by those in the Inquisition who have made a study of the Thronebreakers that this was the point where Tzeentch took an interest. While its nature as master of magic and change are more well known, Tzeentch's minor epithets include The Great Anarch, breaker of civilizations and underminer of stability. This deliberate act of treachery, leaving anarchy in place instead of following the commands of the powers that be, certainly would have pleased it, if it was paying any attention. As would the deceit, subtlety, and technical truth used. Whether or not Tzeentch involved itself, no retribution was delivered upon the Chainbreakers, and they continued their debilitating strikes on tyrannical governments, with more fury than was strictly called for. On the 129th day of 467.M41, the Chainbreakers received another notification of tyranny to be dealt with. They again found a bloody-handed despot, this one governing Saras VII and intentionally driving his agri-workers into the ground with back-breaking labor, then leaving the bodies of those who collapsed from exhaustion in place and tilling them into the soil. Aware of the events from two years ago, the brothers also checked whether he was a Governor in good standing. To their chagrin, he was, and had been for some twenty years without censure.
It is known that Chaos finds the strongest hold on those whose minds have already been cracked by the beginnings of madness. This final outrage cracked the minds of the Chainbreakers. They held a council of captains in orbit around an outer planet in the system. They were unanimous; this was an outrage they would not allow to stand, sanctioned by the Administratum or not. Battle-brothers who refused to participate were put on a smaller barge which set off for their distant home system, but these were few in number, amounting to only a half-company from the full chapter strength present. As they began their preparations, their battle-barge was hailed by an Inquisitorial vessel entering the system. The Inquisitor aboard demanded they cease their invasion immediately.
Master Hayrettin kept his rage quiet for a time, and questioned whether the Inquisitor had seen the reports which summoned his chapter to the world. He replied that he had, and repeated his order to stand down. Hayrettin began to share the substantiating evidence the Chainbreakers had found; the Inquisitor cut him off, insisted that as the Governor was legitimately appointed and had not violated his oath of office, the evidence was irrelevant, and repeated that the chapter must stand down immediately. Finally letting his rage and disdain show, Hayrettin replied simply "Very well" and closed the channel. His Captain Alhurra of 4th Company, Master of the Fleet, asked his commander to confirm the order to withdraw. Hayrettin replied, "No. The invasion goes forward. This only adds another tyrant we must kill today." The honor guard and captains present replied with grim nods; they had expected his response and were prepared to carry out the implied order.
An Inquisitor's retinue is potent, and never more so than when they seek to censure a chapter of Astartes. It cannot, however, withstand the elite guard of a chapter, their chapter master, and three of his captains, in an assault with little warning given. The vessel was commandeered for the Chainbreakers, and after their removal of the government of Saras VII had been effected, the chapter left for other systems, rendering their draconian punishment on any petty non-Imperial king or Imperial Governor who did not meet their exacting and, increasingly, impossible standards for 'non-tyranny'. They skirted around the edge of Segmentum Pacificus toward the galactic north and then through the Segmentum Obscurus, growing increasingly hostile to the Imperium as they traveled. Their tools of investigation grew stranger as well, ultimately engaging in insane, blasphemous rituals to divine the nature of the government they encountered and whether it passed muster against their inscrutable standard. At some point in this journey, they changed their chapter name to Thronebreakers. On reaching the sectors nearest the Eye of Terror, several began to display the mutations which characterize servants of Tzeentch, and giving thanks to "The Great Waylayer of Plans", they knowingly entered its service and the Eye itself.
A warband of the Thousand Sons encountered them and sought to ally, but their deranged standards decreed that the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons were tyrants and the Rubricae enslaved, and so the warbands clashed. The Thronebreakers came out of it the better, losing dozens of marines but 'liberating' nearly as many Rubricae. This did, however, render them unwelcome in the Eye, and so they departed for other systems. Ultimately they settled in the Maelstrom, where, as of 980.M41, they appear to be allied with the Red Corsairs. How they justify the Tyrant of Badab as innocent of tyranny is a question best left unpondered, lest it drive those considering it into madness also.
Colors: Dull gray main plate, backpack or jump pack black, with light blue trim throughout. Helmet is light blue, with the mouthplate and eye plates black, as is the chestplate skull-and-wings, where the skull is black and the wings are blue.
Chapter Symbol: An inverted crown with four broken chain links above it, arranged in the shape of Tzeentch's symbol.
The Cult of the Evolving Forge
It is known across the Imperium and in the traitorous realms that the Iron Hands and their successors are devoted to technology and improving themselves by replacing their flesh with cybernetics. This earns them some suspicion, as they are in many respects made somewhat inhuman in mind as well as in body.
What is less commonly known is that this sometimes has led them into corruption by Chaos. The Iron Hands chapter themselves are tightly bound to the Adeptus Mechanicus, as are the Sons of Medusa (formed due to a schism in the Mechanicum) and even more so the Steel Confessors. But not all are as tightly tied to the Martian orthodoxy. One such was the Gorgons Perfected chapter, a third founding successor of the Red Talons who became known as innovators in tactical doctrine and for the technological improvement of their bodies in ways other than replacement by cybernetics.
In late M34, the Iron Fathers of the Gorgons Perfected experimented with a biological agent which stimulated nerve growth and seemed to improve alertness. A trial in their Scouts showed that it built up several dense nerve clusters along the spine and two inside the skull, and that as it progressed the Scouts lost both need and desire to sleep, with med-scans showing that they were able to rest their brain in shifts, with the new nerve clusters in conjunction with the Catalepsean Node fully replacing the brain functions of the sleeping portions. The elevation of those scouts to full battle-brothers proceeded, with the first two suffering brain damage from elevated cranial pressure which proved ultimately fatal. However, once this was diagnosed, it was a simple matter for the Apothecaries to administer additional hormones to increase the growth of the skull during the astartes induction process; the later portions of the process always include some growth of the skull, and increasing this growth by a modest amount was sufficient.
Emboldened by this success and its application to all new initiates of the chapter, the Gorgons Perfected carried out further experiments on themselves and their brothers, attempting a variety of biological and mechanical improvements using novel ideas, materials, and techniques. This initially proved promising, and as a decade and more elapsed, the Gorgons's boasts to their fellow Iron Hands successors became backed up by results, and several cousin-chapters made enquiries about sharing knowledge and rendering their flesh less weak.
However, as the years stretched on and the decade became a century, allied forces and cousin-chapters reported the Gorgons becoming increasingly erratic. Virtually every brother had at least one experimental modification, and in most cases three or more, and their leadership structure had become totally illegible as they awarded seniority based of their perception of 'superior capability' which became increasingly synonymous with 'heavy modification'. The death-blow came when a long-serving brother returned from a term as Watch Captain of the Deathwatch, and was shocked at the chaotic environment his chapter had become. He deserted within weeks and sought out an inquisitor and representative of the Cult Mechanicus, and a joint task force of Techpriests, Inquisitors, Skitarii, and Deathwatch brothers descended on the Gorgons's homeworld of Thenis Prime to hold them to account.
On their arrival in the battlespace, the full extent of the rot within the Gorgons became clear. The modifications of the forces opposing them extended into the outright blasphemous, with hands replaced by warpfire torches, brothers divided into parts and their limbs festooned over the surface and internals of tanks, and inhuman beasts with just enough human characteristics to remain recognizable as having once been noble astartes. The Gorgons took losses amounting to a full chapter strength, but this left a half-chapter alive to flee. Worse still, in fighting them large portions of the Mechanicus assault forces were corrupted by scrapcode and turned against the invaders. Their losses were severe enough that they disengaged from the assault once it was clear the survivors were fleeing, and did not pursue.
The remnants of the Gorgons and the newly-minted hereteks fled for dark corners of the galaxy, claiming several Space Hulks and modifying them endlessly to be fit raiding platforms. Their technology, while blasphemous, is frustratingly effective, and so repeated attempts by the Iron Hands and their successors to wipe out this stain on their name have proved futile. In the millennia since, while no Iron Hands successor chapter has wholly fallen as the Gorgons Perfected did, many pieces of such chapters have developed heretek tendencies and then been found out; those which do and survive to flee most often find their way to the Gorgons remnant, now named the Cult of the Evolving Forge, where they carry out their experiments unbound by moral scruple or laws of reality, creating new and awe-inspiring daemon engines and mutant soldiers. Not all serve Tzeentch, but their ambition and quest to change their forms into something exultant, specialized, perfect, and often sorcerous, leads it to be the most common patron.
As for the innovations the Gorgons Perfected devised in the early days of their fall, the Inquisition assessed that those marines from other chapters who had received the procedures would not be sanctioned, but using them on any new patients was forbidden and would be considered heresy and treason. The brother of the Deathwatch who alerted it to the fall of his brothers became a Blackshield, ashamed of the chapter he once had such pride in serving. His name was, at his own request, not recorded, though the record shows that a Blackshield whose first recorded operation was the sanctioning of the Gorgons went on to be a long-serving Watch Commander for the Watch Fortress Castilos Nullifact, not far distant from the Thenis system.
Colors: No consistent color scheme. Squads will usually share the same colors but the cult is an alliance of convenience rather than a unified entity with loyalty and heraldry. Blues and yellows are common as a sign of allegiance to Tzeentch.
Warband Symbol: When the Cult fights together, their banners bear three lightning bolts striking an anvil, placed within a gear.
Created in the infamous 21st Founding, the Voidborn are a loyalist chapter with significant deviations from the Codex Astartes, stemming from their unusual mutation and the superstitions derived from it. Their progenitor primarch is unknown; speculation sometimes names the White Scars, Dark Angels, or Iron Hands as their founding chapter, but it is more likely that they have chimeric geneseed, and for their part the Voidborn show no interest whatsoever in the identity of their primarch or the rites of his legion.
The Voidborn's oddities in organization and chapter cult stem from a mutation in their geneseed affecting the Lyman's Ear and, it is believed, the Sus-an Membrane. The normal functions of the Lyman's Ear are unaffected, but it also, when a Voidborn is in interplanetary space or in the Warp, emulates the third eye of the Navis Nobilite. Through some accident of genetics, the Voidborn can hear the light of the Astronomicon as a perpetual choir.
This has several effects on their order of battle and chapter culture. They prefer to fight ship-to-ship battles over planetary warfare, and as a result are extremely skilled in zone mortalis warfare and the cleansing of space hulks; accordingly, full battle-brothers will all train in the use of terminator armor early in their tenure, though when deployed in large numbers terminator armor will be reserved for veterans, as in other chapters. Because the Choir of Terra cannot be heard when inside a planet's gravity well, it has also given rise to a superstition among the Voidborn that it is the height of bad luck to set foot on the ground of a planet under any circumstances. Accordingly, their order of battle when in planetary combat relies heavily on bikes, land speeders, and transports. Through service done for the Adeptus Mechanicus and securing complementary STC data which filled in details the Mechanicum had not previously known, they secured their assistance in devising a custom transport built on the Rhino chassis, known as the Choir-Pattern Rhino, which is longer and has more roof hatches and side firing ports, so that it can carry more marines and allow them to conduct the battle without disembarking; these are their preferred transport, with half or more of the Battle Companies deploying within Choir-Patterns in most engagements.
Due to this superstition's incompatibility with close combat, being deployed dirtside as an assault squad is considered a punishment duty. This being so, assault squads are usually fielded with a chaplain in place of or in addition to the squad sergeant, and the Codex Astartes 8th Company (Reserve, Assault Squads) is absent from their order of battle. It is not replaced with a company of some other squad; their geneseed has instability beyond the Choir mutation, so they are perpetually under-strength. In years of relative peace, they maintain about 600 battle-brothers, organized as one Veteran Company (Silver), three Battle Companies (Red, Green, and Black), one Reserve Company of Tactical Squads, fully trained in deployment on Bikes, Attack Bikes, and Land Speeders (Orange), one Reserve Company of Devastators often deployed on Attack Bikes (Blue), and Neophytes in the Scout Company.
Scout Marines, who are not full battle-brothers and for the most part cannot yet hear the Choir of Terra, are deployed on foot as in codex-compliant chapters. Notably, unlike most chapters Voidborn scouts rarely if ever are fielded on bikes, highly-mobile marines already being abundant. Neophytes are sometimes also fielded armed for close combat, Fenris-fashion, though this is done only when the commanders have reason to believe there is urgent need for close combat forces, since the casualties from close combat in carapace armor are too high to sustain for ordinary operations.
Beyond their superstitions, the Voidborn's culture reflects their shared experience of hearing the Astronomicon as the Choir of Terra. All Voidborn learn to sing in harmony with their brothers and the Choir, and most also learn improvisational harmony and write usually-wordless hymns, sung in battle, during rituals, and whenever the mood strikes them. They have an unusually large fleet, especially for a perpetually under-strength chapter, and take a more active role in steering their ships, allowing them to maintain fewer Navigators per ship. The Navis Nobilite leadership are known to be suspicious of them, fearing those who could replace them, but for their part the Voidborn display a quasi-filial reverence for Navigators, as someone who can see the Holy Light they grasp only dimly by ear. A few minor Houses supply most of their fleets, and the long-standing relationship means that many of the navigators have passed down Voidborn hymns as family traditions.
Their chapter cult treats the Emperor as divine, though not in a sense the Ministorum recognizes. It treats the Astronomicon as an aspect of the Emperor, much like the Tech-Priests treat the Omnissiah as an aspect of Him, and emphasize the Emperor's guiding vision for mankind and His guiding song for all those who travel. Theirs is an intimately personal worship, since while away from gravity wells they hear the Emperor's song always; they are most likely exceeded only by the Custodes in how closely they feel personally tied to the Emperor Himself.
Colors: Black with golden trim, except the left leg which is gold with black trim.
Symbol: A silver field bearing two barred sixteenth notes in black, with a golden lightning bolt crossing them, splitting the notes' bar in two.