Okay, we all love to make up our own chapters, and we want to make them the biggest, most badass ass-kickers this side of the Golden Throne. Fact is, a lot of people need a little help keeping it canon-friendly(I know I did). So that's what this is for: just a few tips to help make a canon-friendly Chapter; please feel free to add to or edit this if you see anything missing.Jochannon 08:59, October 27, 2010 (UTC)
Note: much of the text here has been copied from Lexicanum under the Fair Use doctrine.
It is suggested that you use the Space Marine Chapter Infobox when creating your chapter's page.
What is a Chapter?Edit
A Space Marine Chapter is a self-contained army usually made up of up to a thousand Space Marines, as well as a large number of administrative and functionary personnel.
Each Chapter is an independent army, with its own leadership, support and administrative staff, reliant only on its own Chapter members and its own resources. Each chapter has its own traditions, specialities, its own cult, beliefs and practices.
Codex and non-Codex ChaptersEdit
The Codex Astartes is the template on which the vast majority of Chapters are based. A 'Codex Chapter' which closely (if not completely) follows the doctrines of the Codex Astartes, is led by a Chapter Master. and made up of ten companies, each consisting of up to one hundred Marines and commanded by an officer with the rank of Captain. The First Company is made up of the Chapter's most experienced veterans, while the second through ninth consist of more ordinary warriors. Some individual companies may be specialized assault or support companies, possessing larger proportions of Assault or Devastator squads. The tenth company is a Scout force, made up of aspiring Space Marines not yet proven in battle.
There is no reason why you cannot make a non-Codex Chapter, but the Codex is the baseline: start with a Codex Chapter, and then implement the changes you want to make. You should work out exactly why the Chapter made those changes in the first place: it could be because you Chapter encounters some unique battle conditions, or suffered such heavy losses they needed to change a lot simply to survive. But no Chapter diverges from the Codex without a strong reason to do so.
The reason for the creation of Chapters from the loyal Legions was to prevent any man from commanding so many warriors again: 1,000 is the limit. There are exceptions, but those are very, very, VERY rare and again a reason for why should be provided.
For example the Black Templars who are suspected to number over 6000 brothers. However they are a fleet based crusader chapter and therefore are very difficult to keep track of, so the Mechanicus and Inquisition are not able to find solid evidence to bring them to heel.
The Fortress-monastery is an enormous fortress where the Chapter has its headquarters. Chapters are highly monastic as well as military organizations, their fighting members are all warrior-monks, their fortress-monasteries devoted both to battle and worship.
Fortress-monasteries are usually based on Imperial worlds, which the Chapter Master is sometimes also the planetary governor of. In other cases the Chapter Master will make a deal with the existing planetary governor, paying a tithe in return for the land they occupy. Deserted moons or asteroids are also possible locations of a Fortress-Monastery. In the case of fleet-based chapters the chapter flagship serves as a mobile fortress-monastery. The locations of some chapter planets are hidden while others are well-known.
When making your Chapter, you should also write out some details about the Fortress-Monastery; it's very important in the lives of the Chapter.
For more details on what an average Fortress-Monastery is like, I suggest you go look at the Lexicanum page: http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Fortress-monastery
Also Chapters may be given solar systems to control or look after and may have a dozen planets or so to look after, usually this is a honour given in gratitude or because that Chapter has a specific role to play in a certain part of the Galaxy. A reason for your chapter controlling any worlds beyond their home world must be provided, these worlds can also include chapter recruitment worlds which often tend to be feral worlds which the Imperium has little interest in.
Planet-based Chapters recruit primarily from their homeworld, while fleet-based Chapters may recruit haphazardly from the worlds they stop at, or may have a regular 'route' of worlds they recruit from.
Feral and Hive worlds are the most popular grounds from which chapters draw their recruits from, primarily due to a hard life style or warrior traditions of the inhabitants of those worlds. Some chapters like the Ultramarines may also base their recruits on bloodlines for example Uriel Ventris was permitted to be tested to join the Ultramarines because he was related to a decorated Sergeant of the 1st Company who died during the Tyranid assault on Macragge.
The creation of a new Chapter is known as a Founding, and it does not happen overnight. Each Chapter is created from the gene-seed of an existing donor Chapter (usually one of the original nine). The zygote is implanted in a human test-slave who spends his entire life in a static experimental capsule, immobile and serving nothing but as a medium which from two progenoids will develop. When the progenoids are developed, they are extracted from the original test-slave and then implanted into another two test-slaves, producing four progenoids, and so on. It takes 55 years of reproduction to create a healthy set of 1,000 organs. These must be sanctioned officially by the Master of the Adeptus Mechanicus and then by the High Lords of Terra, speaking for the Emperor, who alone can give permission for the creation of a new Chapter.
Why was this Chapter founded? Do they have some specific purpose to fulfill? What campaigns have they fought in, what honors have they earned?
Yes, everyone can agree the Grey Knights (-cough- 4TH EDITION!!!) are badass. This fanon does permit you to expand upon the Knights, you could do a special detachment of Grey Knights within the chapter or something equally interesting. It's a big chapter, just as long as you don't bend the canon too much.
Saving the UniverseEdit
We all want to save the universe, and we all want our Chapters' names to ring across the Imperium. But there are more than enough heroic deeds to go around, inflating them beyond the practical just comes off as tacky. Driving away a Tyranid Splinter Fleet is heroic enough, destroying an entire hive fleet single-handedly just looks supercilious.
Besides the Space Marine fighting brethren, there are many non-combat personnel, fully part of the Chapter but generally not involved directly in combat. These include the chapter's hereditary slaves, Astropaths, Navigators, etc.
While we all have a tendency to focus on the actual ass-kicking Marines, no Chapter can function without these people: they tend the forges, repair the equipment, man the guns, transmit information, and protect the Chapter's home while the Marines are out kicking ass.
Battle cries, famous sayings, mottoes, it is not strictly necessary for you to write a bunch of these, but they add color to your Chapter, and help make clear their philosophy and makeup.
What is your Chapter's symbol? It may be an heraldic animal, a sunburst, a random squiggle. Whatever it is, it will strike terror into the hearts of their enemies and inspire the Marines to feats of valor.
What are you Chapter's color? They could be solid, halved, quartered, or something bizarre. I suggest you go check out the Bolter and Chainsword Space Marine Painter: http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/smpbeta.php it can help give you an idea of what the colors will look like on a Marine, and you can download the pictures you make. If you want the Terminator look: http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/tsmp.php
This has gotta be the most common canon-infringement I've seen: Mega-Bolters, laser death rays, Alien psycho-powered swords; it's like nobody's content with a simple gun any more!
While a Space Marine is still a Space Marine without a gun, it does help. Your Chapter's equipment should be consistent with their favored tactics, be they assault, skirmish, hand-to-hand, or ranged combat. The best custom equipment tends to be slightly more advanced versions of existing equipment, with reasons for how and why they were developed (or found) and why the said equipment is unique to that chapter. Also keep in mind that a lack of unique equipment can actually improve the character of your chapter as you find other reasons to make them special and this can also apply to weather they are a Codex or Non Codex chapter.
Each Chapter maintains its own fleet consisting of up to three Battle Barges(UP TO THREE: no more!) and some number of Strike Cruisers and support craft.
Chapters are forbidden from having any more than three Battle Barges: any more, and you're gonna have the Inquisition, and the Navy, and all sorts of unfriendly people wanting to know exactly why the Chapter needs so many Battle Barges.
Who are your chapters heroes? What names ring forth like a trumpet call to call your Marines onward when all seems lost? Your Chapter's characters may be the epitome of perfection(as the Chapter sees it) or they could be rogues and scoundrels, barely-tolerated outcasts.
Whatever you do, please do not describe your characters with phrases like 'almost as mighty as a Primarch' or 'Nigh Invincible'. Okay, they're really tough, we get that; they're Space Marines. Belaboring the point will only make them look like posers.
- "...For his wrath exceeds that of the Emperor himself. Indeed, my character here should be the next emperor!"
- — NO!
Philosophy and MakeupEdit
Your Marines, are they dour and serious, or light-hearted and fun-loving? Are they tyrannical, or freedom-loving? Are they hermetic, coming out only to battle the enemies of Humanity before returning to their solitude, or do they take a great interest in the universe around them?
Every Chapter has a role they tend to fill in battle: deep penetration, pin-point assaults, jungle warfare, tunnel fighting, or they could be your simple everyday unstoppable super-soldiers. Keep in mind this section can be heavily related to their traditions and equipment.
Who are your Chapter's rivals? How do they relate to other Chapters? To the Imperial Guard, the Navy? To the Inquisition, the Adeptus Mechanicus, the High Lords of Terra? Are there any Chaos Warlords out there who have it in for them? People are often judged based on their enemies and their friends, so be sure to give you Chapter good ones!
Po' po' babyEdit
A disturbingly common theme is the 'misunderstood heroes' who are being picked on by the Inquisition/Adeptus Mechanicus/Imperial Guard/Navy/Ecclesiarchy/all of the above, and yet somehow manage to save all of humanity.
This can make an excellent story, but if it's not done very well it just comes off as whiney.
Also as a note, a worryingly common issue is peoples' misunderstanding of how much authority the Inquisition has over the Adeptus Astartes. The Inquistion has only limited authority over a Chapter, and can't seize control of chapters or declare them heretics without solid proof of heresy since space marines are so valuable and rare. For the Inquisition to have any kind of direct authority over a chapter, that chapter must either be a repentant chapter or the chapter must have given a Inquisitor some authority in thanks for aiding them or because of their traditions. The High Lords of Terra may also grant an Inquisitor power over a chapter under special circumstances.