- "Overkill? You just made that word up, didn't you?"
- —informal motto
The Ronin are a vaguely Codex Astartes-compliant chapter of unknown origin and founding who tend to wander around the galaxy quite a bit. These origins are unknown to all but the chapter command, which has led some to believe that this chapter was one of the Unforgiven successors of the Dark Angels who have since distanced themselves from their siblings. When asked, the Ronin name themselves among Ultramarine successors, but Adeptus Mechanicus cannot pinpoint such a thing in their gene-seed and generally all signs point to this being a lie. The chapter is known for producing marines with stoic temperaments and little morals, directly leading to "The Honorless." The Ronin employ a combination of their Techmarines and Librarians to lead their chapter into battle, and tend not to visually enter the fray until conditions heavily favor them, which has not helped their reputation.
The Ronin serve in a similar role as the traitorous World Eaters did during the Great Crusade, albeit with different methods. If help is requested from the chapter, then the enemy must die. While their loyalty to the Imperium is unquestioned by those in power, they are infamous among those who even know of them due to their apparent dishonorable methods of war.
The Ronin didn't start out as the Ronin. Originally the chapter was named the Dawn Garrison, named for the tactic of attacking just as dawn breaks. They started out as many of the younger chapters are now: puritanical and eager to prove their might to the Imperium, somewhat tempered only by the experiences of the chapter master in the Great Crusade. Until the 3rd Black Crusade, they had only fought in minor skirmishes with enemies and the chapter had yet to fight any major enemies together. Following the disaster over Gerstahl, ending with the chapter master dead at Abbadon's hand and the chapter almost extinguished, they reorganized and renamed themselves the Ronin, warriors who have lost their master.
The Ronin have a long and inglorious history within the Imperium, but their origins are deeply held secrets within the top echelons of chapter command. Why such information is intentionally obscured is unknown, but it is possible some great shame lies in the area. It is known that the history of the Ronin attempt to redeem themselves to the Emperor, a result of the disaster that was their first major battle. Following this, the Ronin seem to just disappear and appear randomly over the millennium.
- Gerstahl Debacle (909.M32) -While Tallomin wrecks havoc at the Cadian Gate, the Dawn Garrison's fleet, experiencing Vox and Warp-drive malfunctions, runs across Abaddon's strike fleet over Gerstahl. The chapter's youthful arrogance gets the better of them and they suffer a humiliating defeat at the Black Legion's hands. While they succeed in preventing Abaddon from advancing further into the Imperium, a tactical victory, they lose a major strategic victory that would forever change the chapter and the way they operate.
- Artemis Program (Unknown Date.M33-Ongoing) -At some point, the Ronin found records detailing the program that first put humans on its moon Luna, named the Apollo Program. As such, they thought it fitting what they named their project to reach the galaxy Age of Progress humans called Andromeda. Considering that warp jumps often only go five thousand light years and said galaxy is two and a half million light years away, their success is seemingly unlikely. But when you consider they've had at least eight thousand years to work on it, and given they use some rather unorthodox technology on occasion, who really knows?
- Istvaan III Redemption (666.M33) -While out searching the galaxy, the Ronin engaged in combat with the Plague Marines of the Death Guard Traitor Legion and various daemons of Nurgle on Istvaan III. Overwhelming firepower proves the key here and the battle ends in decisive Ronin victory, to the shock of both sides.
- Panacea Tests (667.M33-Ongoing) -Following the previous success against the Plague Marines, and motivated by the life quest of the first chapter master, a systematic set of tests is arranged against captured Plague Marines to find a cure to Nurgle's Rot.
- Salvation Campaign (667.M33-Ongoing) -Counterpart to the Panacea Tests. This campaign is the attempt to the Ronin to rescue the Eldar Goddess Isha from Nurgle, with the objective being that she can heal the Emperor, recognizing that it will help the fight against the Ruinous Powers.
- Operation Vengeance (909.M34) -Near the Maelstrom, the Ronin ambush a Black Legion warband and destroy them all before the warband organizes its defense. They strip the dead traitors, salvage the bodies, and begin the tradition of taking gear from their enemies.
- Executor Campaign (Unknown Date.M40-997.M41) -Cut off a snake's head and it will die. That was the guiding premise of this campaign to stop Hive Fleet Leviathan before it reached the Milky Way. Operating well outside and below the galaxy, the Ronin attempted to destroy the Hive Fleet by destroying its most important members. While they did make some dents in Leviathan, it was simply too massive to be destroyed in such a manner.
- Grave-Digger Campaign (525.M41-Ongoing) -Demoralized by their failure to have weaponry that could permanently end a Daemon Prince, the chapter organized a massive pillage of abandoned Xenos gear past Imperium borders in the Koronus Expanse and Jericho Reach, hiding it away before the Achilus Crusade reaches said planet. Care is taken, but their weaponry is taken in hopes that some of it will allow warp entities to be killed permanently instead of just banished for centuries. No major success yet. Progress is continually slowed due to the Ronin retreating if they must fight any significant forces.
- 13th Black Crusade (999.M41-Current) -As with many Astartes chapters, the Ronin came to help defend the Cadian Gate. So far, with the help of one of the sector fleets, they have become engaged in a void fight against the fleets of the Death Guard and Emperor's Children.
The chapter, due to experiences and low numbers, doesn't bother with Codex organization. On the occasions where the chapter must split up, they break into warbands of various sizes. However, the small numbers make this rare, resulting in the chapter splitting into eight companies, each with a different role in combat.
- Kotoamatsukami: The formal name in the chapter for the chapter master and the wisest 46 veterans of the chapter. This also embodies that many Servitors that provide logistic and computing support for operations. If this unit is deploying for active combat, the chapter is in dire straits indeed.
- Tsukuyomi: Nighttime killer company. They follow a nocturnal schedule so that they can attack at night, either killing the enemies then or at least not letting them get any sleep, ensuring their tiredness will get them killed the next day.
- Raijin: Bombardment company. Trained in the care and handling of all ship batteries and ground artillery. First to attack in the chapter's standard battle strategy. Often works closely with Izanami company in deployment.
- Izanami: One of two dedicated terminator squads. Responsible for ground deployment of various chemical and radioactive weaponry. One of the most prestigious groups in the chapter, even though they gather the scorn of other chapters.
- Hachiman: Armored company. This company holds almost all of the chapter's tanks and dreadnoughts, and they have gotten very good at using them.
- Fujin: Aerial assault squad. First focus is on air superiority to prevent enemy bombers from reaching the battle lines. Secondary focus is on protecting their own bomber squads. Noted for its general similarity to the Dark Angels Ravenwing company.
- Amaterasu: Only dedicated assault company in the chapter. Used as artillery scouters and to seize light fortifications that the chapter wants be in usable condition. Heavy use of flash grenades to blind enemies signals their assaults.
- Kagu-tsuchi: One of two dedicated terminator squads in the chapter. Always carry Heavy Flamers as primary armament, while the veteran officers are allowed to carry a Balefire Gun. Only the most fearless in the chapter may serve in this unit, as while they are in specially contained terminator armor, they are instructed to draw fire away from the less heavily armored squads behind them onto them. And all this aside from the fact they are the ones first in line behind the chemical/radioactive weapons first deployed.
Unlike many chapters, Ronin Librarians focus their abilities not to destroy enemies, but to divine the possible consequences down the line for any actions. In such a capacity, they are more like Eldar Farseers than fellow Librarians, but so it goes. Such is part of the reason the Ronin seem to deploy for conflicts on a random basis. Each move is a calculated part of a campaign to give minimum casualties for themselves by the end.
Ronin techmarines are, as usual, employed in the building and repairing of the chapters armaments. However, they also participate in the planning of campaigns via advanced mathematics that they have recovered. They work closely with the Librarians to come up with said plans.
While Ronin apothecaries are employed in their usual roles, they are also the great chemists of the chapter, tasked with coming up with increasingly more effective, and usually horrific, chemicals for the chapter to make war with. From the first chapter master's time, the chapter's Master Apothecary has served as Chapter Master.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
- "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
- —Ancient Terran proverb
The Ronin believe that through the use of calculated tactical assaults upon enemies weakness, they can get maximum victory for least loss. And with such reduced numbers, least loss is very much a driving factor. When it can be avoided, they steer away from complex and time-wasting maneuvers, preferring to spend time mow down enemies from relative safety. Despite this, they are known for great success once they enter the fray.
The chapter master and the veteran members who make up the chapter command only take to the field in the most dire circumstances, where victory just has to happen and no other method is possible. They prefer to stay in the chapter's flagship and run constant real-time calculations to adjust to changing battle conditions. Said information is then relayed to the veterans that run each battle company.
The Ronin, when at all possible, will seek total extermination of their enemies, even if it means weapons that stricter chapters shy away from. Chemical weapons are the weapons of choice for softening up enemy forces before their assault, with the additional deployment of thermonuclear weaponry and the like for fortifications. They are notorious for closely following behind the cloud of noxious gases, or even firing through it into the backs of the fleeing enemies.
They will fight to the last bullet, plasma blast and shell, orbital bombardment included, before entering melee combat, denouncing its use as old fashioned and just generally dangerous to the continued survival of its limited combat forces. Not to say they are cowards, which some believe, just that they know how to achieve their goals with the most people alive on their side afterwords.
While they may not seem to enter the fray till it favors them, this is not the entire truth. While it is true at face value, the reason is that the chapter is far more concerned with completing strategic objectives as opposed to tactical objectives, and feel that sometimes work from the shadows is needed. When working with another chapter, an enemy may turn and retreat from the wrath of the other chapter, only to find the Ronin have left their fleet in ruin and their escape routs cut off.
- Phosphex Bombs & Medusa Shells -Even though this technology was thought lost, the Ronin seem to have found designs, or at least convince Adeptus Mechanicus to manufacture it for them. Given how little time this chapter spends in the Imperium proper, the former is more likely.
- Vasgotox Dispensers -Weapons that look like flamers until they deploy the flesh eating liquid with further range than the flamers they look like. Preferred pseudo melee weapon against anything without totally enclosed armor.
- Cullgene Shells -Used when Medusa Shells are denied for whatever reason, like if creating a new dead world isn't an option. It's unknown when they stumbled across the chemical formula for this horror.
- Seismic Charges -A form of torpedo that can be used both in and out of atmospheres. Instead of a typical weapon, it focuses all its extensive power into a massive shockwave that flattens and crushes everything in its path. Especially good against asteroid fields, massed starship formations and cities. Supposedly the accidental result of a failed experiment to induce an artificial supernova.
- "We will be the dark roots of the Imperium so our younger cousins may form the bright leaves in the sun."
- —Ronin philosophy
Among the Ronin, no action brings more shame to a battle-brother than hypocrisy. There's no point trying to pretend to be something they're not. Hypocrisy is only acceptable in the chapter if it serves the interest of the chapter, which is almost never, and only if said battle-brother dies as a result. For whatever reason, the Ronin will speak of other chapters in familial terms. Their legion being the parent, and their primarch, whoever he is, their grandfather. The Ronin have always addressed most other chapters as cousins, or siblings in some cases. Unknown to most is the chapter's tradition of taking weapons and armor from their defeated enemies; Power armor and Terminator armor from Traitor legions along with all manner of Xenos wargear can be found in their extraneous armories.
Notably, the chapter considers themselves connoisseurs of history. While groups like Adeptus Mechanicus are interested in history from the Dark Age of Technology, the Ronin are especially interested in history from the Age of Progress. Their largest find was information from 980.M2 on the Apollo Program, which was uncovered sometime in M33 and led to the Artemis Program, their most ambitious goal. As their subject interests are not particularly shared among the rest of the Imperium, they have yet to be brought into conflict over such records.
They believe that victory should be achieved in the least costly method, which has led to extensive research into previous human wars and campaigns to figure out strategies to keep losses down. They have a special hatred for the Ruinous Powers, and seek to thwart them at the most critical junctions. They can, at times, be preparing for a war that they've predicted centuries in advance. This has garnered some suspicion of corruption by Tzeentch, but several Inquisition investigations have proven this false.
Before the events of the 3rd Black Crusade, this chapter had a massively acceptable and pure gene-seed that resulted in their numbers being in the several thousands. After limping away with only a single cruiser making up the entire fleet and less than fifty marines left, they found the close exposure to such chaotic forces left their gene seed forever mutated. It had become nearly the opposite of what it once was: chaotically mutated and highly unacceptable for new marines. Attrition rates from gene seed malfunction changed from 1% to somewhere around 40%.
For whatever reason, 647 seems to be the cap for the chapter these days. The two largest mutations are in the Occulobe and Melanochrome, along with a mutation whose source is still being looked for. Said mutation is of unknown orgin, and results in the chapter having an ability to absorb some toxic chemicals they experience on a regular basis into their normal body process along with having generally more resistance to toxins. The Occulobe has advanced far beyond normal, resulting in massive farsightedness issues, though they are noted for often battling in the dark and attacking at midnight, due to it barely looking different then daytime to them. The Melanachrome has stopped working in this chapter, resulting the marines regularly ingesting lead to help protect themselves from radiation, a process which only works due to their mutation of possible chaotic origin.
Despite Adeptus Mechanicus having disproved it, the chapter will tell any not of Ultramarine lineage that they are descendants of Roboute Guilliman and the 13th Legion. To those of Ultramarine lineage, they say they are descendants of Rogal Dorn and the Imperial Fists. And sometimes they claim, when working with younger Admech forces, to be Iron Hands descendants. To this end, they have become the butt of a joke among other chapters that claims they're the last openly loyal section of the traitorous Alpha Legion.
The Ronin drift around the galaxy, recruiting from any world not banned by the Inquisition or taken by another chapter. Due to the gene-seed flaws and servitor needs, the Ronin take as many young boys as they can before an Inquisition investigation would ensue if they took more. They are put through rigorous work schedules doing manual labor for the chapter, eat little and live in poor conditions while having the gene-seed implanted over the years. Those that fall first in body or mind to either the conditions or gene-seed problems are inevitably turned into servitors to continue the war machine. Upon gene-seed completion, a new Scout Marine gives up his name, having his number, which is what number battle brother in the chapter's history he is, tattooed upon his right forearm. From then on, that number is his new name. Each scout is assigned to one of the battle companies, except for the prestigious Kotoamatsukami, the letter in their number correlating with the first letter of a company, this designating the company assigned or original company if they have ascended to chapter command.
This chapter has operated as a fleet-based chapter for all their known history, or at least that's what they'll tell you if you ask. Towards this end, their fleet, smaller than others but with a higher proportion of capital ships, is better coordinated, more heavily gunned and just generally used more than other chapters, who often prefer ground engagements. They always take care to remember that the vacuum of space is not a two dimensional ocean, and can often be found attacking from above and below. The chapter holds three capital ships and a single battlecruiser in their fleet supported by some escorts.
- Dread Queen (Capital Ship, Unknown Class) -Flagship of the chapter during campaigns and beyond. A massive dagger shaped ship far beyond standard battleship size. Notable for employing more Void Shields than is normal for capital ships. It's rumored, though Adeptus Mechanicus can find no such thing despite numerous investigations, to have some form of technology that lets it emit a field that prevents Warp travel and can even yank ships out of the Warp back into realspace while active.
- Death Wind (Capital Ship, Unknown Class) -Hunter of the fleet. Wedge design with command tower in the back. As is befitting of its name, it's significantly faster and more maneuverable than most capital ships have any right to be. Eschews large torpedo bays for significant numbers of lance batteries of both normal and unknown origin. Named for its tendency to seemingly appear from nowhere before it blasts apart other ships. Factions in the Imperium has yet to figure out quite how.
- God-killing Lance (Capital Ship, Unknown Class) -Killer of the fleet. Shaped like a giant spear, the design being built around the main gun. Notable for possession of a possibly modified or unique pattern Nova Cannon. As such, it is often the first warship of the Ronin to fire in any large fleet battle, where the Nova Cannon can be used to clear entire squads of escorts before closer engagement is needed. Got its name from the Istvaan III Redemption where the cannon was fired into a group of daemons, led by a Great Unclean One, easily and utterly obliterating them. Since then, the Ronin have held hopes that the cannon may be able to deal at least a heavy blow against Nurgle himself at some point in the future.
- Survivor (Mars-class Battlecruiser) -Originally named the Imperious. The oldest ship the chapter has, it was the only ship to escape the destruction of the fleet over Gerstahl by the Black Legion, carrying the last living members of the chapter. While it travels with the fleet, it tends not to engage in many battles anymore.
The Ronin eschew bright, heavily painted armor and leave the majority of theirs a neutral metal gray with their robes left uncolored. They paint their right shoulder pauldron, upon which their squad type is shown, black to stand out against the white marking. Their entire left arm and shoulder is painted red, which they believe symbolizes their role as the left arm of the Imperium, willing to operate without glory in the shadows and use whatever means is needed. The seven painted on the left knee, according to the Ronin, indicates the chapter's origins from the gene-seed of Imperial Fists. In reality, the number is a remembrance. The first chapter master, part of whose gene-seed was used to create the chapter, was from the 7th Company of his legion.
The Ronin's chapter badge is a skull with two crossed bombs behind it. Fitting for a chapter who generally see bombardment as the first option that should be looked at.
- Adeptus Mechanicus -The Ronin maintain a rather good relationship with Admech, often sending sending new technology back to Mars for investigation. Of course, this relationship would probably sour if Admech knew that the Ronin only send tech back when they deem themselves to have enough to spare being down one.
- Inquisition -Since the Ronin spend most of their time operating outside the borders of the Imperium, the Inquisition are for the most part perfectly content to ignore any minor indiscretions and rarely bother dealing with the chapter at all. Ordo Xenos has a significant amount of exasperation with that chapter, which is balanced by the appreciation from Ordo Malleus and the indifference of Ordo Hereticus. Even though the chapter is technically mutated, it's hardly obvious like the Black Dragons chapter, so many don't even realize it exists. Such a relationship is helped that most Inquisitors that deal with the Ronin are the older radicals.
- Imperial Navy -Being a fleet based chapter, the Ronin have good relations with the Segmentum fleets and are always willing to aid their efforts when possible, even if the aid isn't always obvious at first.
- Imperial Guard -The Ronin have a mixed relationship with the Imperial Guard depending on the unit. Most units shy away from the Ronin, but the chapter has a good relationship with the Death Korps of Krieg.
- Xenos -The Ronin are willing to hold mutual non aggression pacts with Eldar and Tau in the area, much to the chagrin of Ordo Xenos. Any attacks by the Ronin on these forces are massively premeditated and planned maneuvers to ensure there are no survivors to make sure none can spread the word that the pact was broken. In particular, the chapter has a working relationship, if you could call it that, with Craftworld Kaelor.
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- Storm Wardens -Centuries of working in the same regions have given both chapters a grudging respect for each other, at the least.
- Raven Guard -Given that both chapters tend to be fairly concerned with losses and are known to employ atypical warfare, it wasn't hard for both sides to get along, even if the Raven Guard are somewhat concerned about the willingness of the Ronin to casually use the worst weapons man has invented.
- Emperor's Warbringers -Both chapters sell brutality and death as their trade more than most, so it only behooves them to work together when possible.
- "This is for their own good! Remember the 17th!"
- —battle cry against Adeptus Sororitas
- Adeptus Sororitas -The Sisters of Battle and the Ronin have violently clashed over belief systems many times over the years. The Ronin refuse to buy into the zealot beliefs of the Sisters, believing that while the Emperor is the greatest of men, he is not a god.
- Chaos -While the Ronin hate the Ruinous Powers, they don't always rush to immediately confront them when they pop up unless they have no choice. As usual, they're perfectly fine letting a younger chapter rush into the fray and suffer the brunt to the damage before hitting the chaos forces in the back. The reason this has yet to prompt investigations is their tendency to cut off and destroy the Greater Daemons, who they've gotten very good at fighting, leaving the young chapters to just deal with the small fry.
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- Black Templars -The Black Templars look down on the Ronin, calling them cowards who are not worthy of their title as Astartes while the Ronin sneer at the Black Tempars as hypocrites. The seemingly fairly nonchalant policies of the Ronin towards chaos and xenos has fostered suspicion. While the chapters have enough restrain to not fight each other, all interactions will be terse and short.
- Ultramarines -Not so much enemies, but the Ultramarines and most of their successors refuse to work with the Ronin when they don't have to. In fact, it was the Ultramarines who first named the Ronin the honorless. Given that they're big into being honorable warriors and the Ronin aren't, it's a strained relationship. In an inside reference not totally understood by any outside the Ronin, they refer to the Ultramarines as "big blue boyscouts."
- Salamanders -As with the Ultramarines, not really enemies per se, but the fact that the Salamanders are quite concerned with civilian casualties and the Ronin are only concerned about their own makes any cooperation between the two chapters without a third party very rare and strained.
- "Courage and Honor? All very nice concepts when you have the ability to do so. Ultramar has, despite the seperation into chapters, a legions worth of Astartes at its command if it should chose. We don't have honor, and don't care. Just because you, as the poster boys of the Imperium, must put on a good show to the people, doesn't mean we have to. And alas, we define courage differently. Your courage is being willing to face crazy odds and die for inane causes. Our courage is being able to do what is necessary even if it's not liked."
- —Ronin respond to being lectured by the Ultramarines on what Astartes should be like
- "No pity, no remorse, no fear? Fine, then YOU can go fight that Bloodthirster with a sword in single combat. I'm just gonna stay hidden in this bush here and shoot Phosphex grenades at him. I mean, he has to go away eventually."
- —R-5134 to Helbrecht, both early in their careers
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- "Look... we don't talk about those freaks here. They're not here are they?!"
- —Unidentified Valhallan Ice Warrior Guardsman
- "I don't fear the Space Marines you humans are so fond of. But them? Those...things...they scare me."
- —Unidentified Tau Fire Caste Warrior
- "We have no idea what thoughts lie below their masks, what dreams of unmatched atrocity."
- —Exarch Lairgnen of Craftworld Kaelor
- "'Dem 'ummies ain't even a good fight, ya see. 'De odds be 'dat you won't even see 'dem before 'da bombs start 'pearing. Nah, just better to come back for anuvver go with 'da other 'ummies."
- —Various Blood Axe Nobs
"The first casualty of war is truth."
Common response to jibes from other chapters.
"Courage will win a battle. Wisdom will win a war."
Quote from the most famous of Ronin Miyamoto Musashi
"Battle is won not by the men who have fallen but by the men who have survived it."
Scout Sergeant 24601
"We float like a Servo Skull and sting like a Queen Bee Nurgle can't hit what Nurgle can't see."
The first line in noviciate work song.
"Death is light as a feather. Duty is heavier than a mountain"
Imperial rescript to Soldiers and Sailors.
"How Does every Ronin joke begin? With a quick look over your shoulder."
Common joke among other Chapters.