The Stonehides are a relatively little-known loyalist chapter of the Space Marines, located in the Damocles Gulf. For much of their history, the Stonehides have acted as arbiters in the Damocles Gulf, handling minor Chaos and Xenos threats. They participated briefly in the Damocles Gulf Crusade against the Tau. Following the conclusion of the Crusade, the Stonehides have an informal, mutual non-interferance agreement1 with the Tau Empire. While some have looked upon this agreement with the Tau as a traitorous act, it is far from being any sort of alliance. The agreement's mutual nature insures that any Tau incursion into the Damocles Gulf is subject to be repelled with extreme prejudice.
The Stonehides Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes was established at some point in M35-M36. The lack of a definitive record of the Chapter's founding has lead some to suspect that the Stonehides were formed during the 13th Founding (Also referred to as the "Dark Founding," it is largely considered to be one of the greatest disasters in Imperial record keeping). While their exploits are not as grand or public as better known chapters, the Stonehides have developed a local reputation as solid, unwaveringly dependable warriors who would do even the Ultramarines proud in battle.
The Stonehides' armour is painted an overall warm, stony gray. One or both shoulders (typically the left shoulder) will be painted white, bearing the chapter's emblem. Their armour has golden-bronze trim, most typically the Aquila on the chestplate, and the trim of the shoulders. The collar, backpack crown, and gauntlet cuffs may also be golden.
While the standard helmet used by the Stonehides is classified as the ubiquitous Aquila Pattern, it differs slightly from the default. The Stonehides' helmets feature a rounded visor (as opposed to the standard peaked visor), which helps to prevent fine dust and grit from settling into the corners of the eye-shields. They also have slightly elongated snouts to accommodate additional filters so as to prevent dust from clogging the helmet vents. Both of these minor alterations are adaptions to the Stonehides' dry desert homeworld, where fine, wind-blown grit can wreak havoc on any sort of sophisticated technology.
There is an old imperial proverb which states that the Imperial Guard are the Emperor's hammer, and the Adeptus Astartes are the Emperor's scalpel. Following that reasoning, it could be said that the Stonehides are like the tip of a needle, fielding small, 5-man squads to make rapid, precision strikes. The Stonehides place little interest on vehicles, primarily making use of Land Speeders for vehicular transport. They prefer to stay light and mobile under all circumstances. They place a high value on accurate shooting and conservation of ammunition, and are extensively trained in the use of heavy combat knives.
The Stonehides make use of considerably fewer exotic weapons (such as Plasma and Melta guns) than other Chapters. This is due in large part to their isolation from the Galaxy at large. They are located far from the usual Imperial shipping lanes and might receive resupply of basic munitions perhaps once every 5-7 decades. As such, they hold exotic weapons in extremely high regard, and only trust veteran members of the Chapter with their use.
Put short- the Stonehides' combat doctrine incorporates a scarcity-mentality, and is oriented around the preservation of finite assets.
The backbone of the Stonehides' fighting force. Tactical Marines of the Stonehides chapter are analogous to those of most other Chapters. They're typically armed with Bolters, and almost universally carry a heavy fighting knife as a backup. Stonehides Tactical Squads typically consist of 5 Marines.
Again, these are essentially the same as Assault Marines of other Chapters, making use of jump-packs and close combat weapons, screaming out of the sky and right into the thick of the fight.
The Chapter's heavy weapons specialists. Stonehides devastators are not frequently deployed as full squads, but rather are often attached in ones or twos to Tactical Squads as heavy support.
Equivalent to Veterancy in other chapters, these are the Stonehides' most elite Astartes. Adepts can be visually distinguished by bold white stripes on their armour, as well as a cloth drape attached to their right pauldron. These Marines are permitted to wield exotic weapons such as Plasma and Grav guns. Adepts frequently favour combi-weapons, particularly the Bolter-Plasma gun combination. It is common for an Adept to be assigned as a member of a Tactical squad as a mentor for younger Battle Brothers.
The Stonehides deploy Terminator Squads somewhat less frequently than other Chapters, because of their reduced mobility. As a result, they are typically used in fire support roles.
The Stonehides prefer to stay light and mobile on the battlefield, and a Dreadnought is decidedly neither of those things. Nevertheless, there are times when the Stonehides must fight on their enemy's terms: large scale engagements on open ground, or laying siege to fortified positions.
The Stonehides guard their Dreadnoughts jealously on the battlefield. A Dreadnought will almost always be accompanied by a tactical squad which surrounds it, moves with it, and provides point-defense.
Unlike many Chapters, the Stonehides tend to be fairly open and welcoming to their Techmarines. This is due in large part to circumstance. As the Stonehides are located far out of the way of shipping and resupply lanes, Techmarines are doubly essential to the Chapter's continuing operation.
In addition to the arms and equipment common to most Space Marine Chapters, the Stonehides make use of some equipment distinct to the chapter.
Tethis Pattern Bolter
An obscure variation of the Godwyn Pattern Bolter rarely seen outside of the Damocles Gulf. While several Chapters have made use of the Tethis Pattern Bolter, the Stonehides are the only Chapter known to use it as the standard armament for their Tactical Marines. Compared to the ubiquitous Godwyn Pattern, the Tethis Pattern possesses a slightly greater barrel length and an angled grip which improves the degree to which it can be braced while firing. Both of these design features help users to fire more accurately.
Stonewall Pattern Sword and Shield
A sword and shield arrangement uniquely produced by the Stonehides' Chapter Forge. The sword is a compact non-powered blade which can be sheathed within the accompanying shield when not in use. This weapon is typically issued to Assault Marines and other designated melee specialists. It may also be issued more widely to Tactical Marines if they are expected to engage in a defensive melee fight.
Among both the Stonehides' Astartes as well as the Chapter's serfs and support personnel, artisanship is encouraged as a meditative activity. The personal quarters of veteran Marines are often adorned with hundreds of stone-carved skulls, Aquilas, Chapter insignias and other significant iconography. Some Marines with an exceptional zeal for stone carving will have their best works laminated and integrated into the ornamentation of their Power Armour.
LocationThe Stonehides Chapter is based on Arghor, a scorching sun-baked desert planet in the Damocles Gulf, near the edges of Tau Space. 87% of the world's surface is covered in vast deserts, punctuated with enormous free-standing rocks.
The Stonehides' Fortress-Monastery is cut directly from one of those massive rocks, and the structure predates its current inhabitants by many millennia. It is suspected that the massive stone bastion is a relic of some forgotten Human colony from the Dark Age of Technology. When the bastion was claimed as the Stonehides' Fortress-Monastery, it was redressed with massive gothic arches, bringing it in line with Imperial architecture. The chapter also maintains a small asteroid base in geosynchronous orbit above the bastion, which acts as an anchor for the Stonehides' two ancient Strike Cruisers, and a handful of smaller vessels.
New members of the Stonehides are typically recruited from the chapter's home planet, as the harsh desert environment breeds tough, resilient people. in less common instances, the Stonehides do occasionally recruit prospects from worlds under their purview, though this typically only occurs when a planetary official alerts the chapter to the presence of an exceptional youth who wishes to join their ranks.
It is common practice for Space Marine Chapters to employ some manner of test or challenge to determine whether or not an Aspirant (one who desires to be a Space Marine) is worthy of joining the ranks of Battle Brothers. The exact nature of the test can vary widely between chapters, but virtually all of them involve extremely high degrees of physical, mental and in some cases spiritual challenge. The Stonehides make use of an Exposure Trial, which requires the aspirant to travel alone and on foot to the Chapter's fortress-monastery from a set distance many, many kilometers away. Only those with the highest degree of physical fortitude, and knowledge of how to ply the harsh desert for water and shelter, can survive the trek.
The inhabitants of Arghor, the Stonehides' homeworld, are primarily grouped in nomadic tribes. Thanks to superstitions instilled following the Chapter's founding, the inhabitants of Arghor know their resident Space Marines only as "the Stone Warriors, who live in the Great Rock." The Stonehides' Ceremonial Armour (worn specifically for interacting with the Arghorans) reinforces the Stonehides' status as "Men of Stone." To create the Ceremonial Armour, the Chapter artificers grind native Arghoran stones into a fine powder, and mix it with a ceramite-based paste, which is then brushed onto the armor. The Ceremonial Armour's eye shields are blacked out, replaced with darkly tinted lenses, and it is left unadorned save for the bronze trim of the shoulders and the aquila on the chestplate. As the stone-ceramite coat dries, it cracks and weathers, giving the armor an authentically "stony" look. In a sense, the Stonehides who wear this armor literally have hides of stone.
Chapter Master Animun Roth
Animun Roth has acted as the Stonehides' Chapter Master for roughly two and a half centuries. In battle he wears an enormous suit of Artificer Terminator Armor, and wields an ancient Thunder Hammer known as "The Falcon" which has been a part of the Chapter's arsenal since its founding.
Brother Sergeant Valimund
Brother Sergeant Valimund has served as a full-fledged member of the Adeptus Astartes for more than a century (indicated by his two service studs), primarily quelling minor Chaos incursions into the Damocles Gulf. He wields a Heavy Bolter in combat, typically carrying his ammunition in a series of drum magazines, rather than the standard backpack-mounted hopper.
1"Agreement" is a polite way to put it. "Ultimatum" may be more true to the intent. The agreement essentially boils down to the Stonehides saying "you stay off of our lawn, and we won't go out of our way to shoot at you."
2"Non-Chapter Liaisons" is an unwieldy phrase, but it's the best I can come up with to describe Inquisitors Reed and Winter's relationship to the Chapter. While they are obviously not members of the Chapter, they work with the Stonehides with such frequency that a small suite of rooms adjacent to the Chapter's monastery keep has been more-or-less permanently set aside for their use.