Codex: Angels Errant. History, Background and Army List Notes (Looooooooong)
I've consolidated the other posts in the 'codex' into this post and the one immediately following. Apologies to Dark Angel, but for continuity I;ve deleted his post and quoted it in the following.
The Angels Errant are a successor chapter of the Blood Angels Legion. For practical game purposes they are represented by Space Wolves rules. Full details on unit substitutions and wargear follow at the end of the background. I decided to use that ruleset because I felt it best represented a transport-based assault-oriented army list.
In this epic-scale post I will detail their history, society, religion and battle doctrines. Right now I have 90% of their fluff, all that remains is a list of notes altering fluff and descriptions from Codex Space Wolves to represent the Angels Errant.
Though not officially founded until late in M40, the origins of the Angels Errant dates back to before the Horus Heresy, when an ill-fated band of pilgrims set out from Baal to find a new and better world for their kind.
As those well-schooled Imperial citizens may know, the Blood Angels system of Baal (or rather its two inhabited moons: Baal Prime and Baal Secundus) is an intensely hostile and barely habitable environment. Left ruined and poisoned by nuclear and viral weapons during the Dark Age of Technology, the moons of Baal are home to twisted mutants and a handful of relatively healthy humans. Born from necessity and continued through tradition, these humans organize themselves into nomad tribes, roving over the blasted wastes, scavenging and surviving. Though the presence of the Blood Angels chapter has done much to improve conditions, it’s still a harsh and dangerous life.
What few, even in the highest ranks of the chapter know is that for untold centuries, or even millennia, one such tribe of Baal-born nomads have been living in self-imposed exile since the death of Sanguinius, repenting in solitude eon some forgotten deathworld and waiting, for a chance at redemption.
Their story begins towards the end of the Great Crusade, scant few years before the infamous betrayal by the Emperor’s beloved Warmaster. The elders of The Ironblood, one of Baal’s larger nomad tribes, petitioned the commander of the Blood Angels garrison left on Baal for permission to launch a pilgrimage, with the goal of finding a new and better homeworld for the children of Sanguinius.
Though not popular with some of the older or more stubborn members of Baal’s leadership (after all, if Baal is good enough for the primarch it should be an honour to live in such a place), it was well within the spirit of Sanguinius and his long-standing ideals and goals of improving life for not just his adopted people but all of humanity. Why not honour the primarch by finding a rich and fertile world upon which to raise healthy new warriors for his legion? After some long-distance consultation with the main leadership of the chapter, the mission was eventually approved. Sources differ as to whether or not the primarch himself ever gave it his blessing, but it’s fair to say if he had objected it would never have been allowed.
Knowing that the voyage would be fraught with peril, and the actual colonization likely worse, it was decided that a third of the Blood Angels garrison be mobilized and sent along to protect the pilgrim colonists. With the bulk of the chapter’s marines fighting alongside their Emperor and the Primarch, the garrison force consisted mostly of freshly ascended space mariones, older, experienced warriors of the Blood (too old or radioactively tainted to be suitable for conversion to marine status, but granted armor and training) and much of the legion’s then formidable motor pool (which included a few Fellblades and early predecessors of what the IG would come to call Stormlords)
A Battle Barge, The Angel Ascendant, was commandeered and refitted for the mission. After all, —it was reasoned— sending scouting parties down to explore and secure the surface of an alien world isn’t all that different from a planetary assault, and the ship would be large enough to house the marines, civilians and their equipment, and able to defend itself from casual threats without need of an escort fleet. The ship was assigned a skeleton crew, with the expectation that a few hundred of the pilgrims and most of the marines would be given rudimentary training and assigned to help with non-vital functions. Nearly a thousand civilians, hundreds of marines and warriors, and scores of tanks and armoured transports (including at least one fellblade (Prometheus) and one of the proto-stormlords (Daedalus) embarked aboard the Angel Ascendant, along with a delegation of Techpriests from the group brought to Baal from Mars by the emperor to help establish the Fortress Monastery and train the first Blood Angel Techmarines.
Such a substantial investment of men and material seems shocking today, but this was a richer time, at the pinnacle of mankind’s dominance of the galaxy. The Emperor and his invincible sons had pacified so much of what was once wild and isolated space that it was impossible to imagine a threat immense enough that those forces, a fraction of the garrison left behind to guard a radioactive rock, would be so sorely needed. Nobody dared imagine it.
It is widely believed that the tech priests volunteered to come along primarily as missionaries, to help establish a Cult of the Omnisiah on the new homeworld and ideally bolster ties (some would say curry influence) between the legion and the Adeptus Mechanus. Whatever their true motivation, their presence would prove to be invaluable and influential in the events that followed.
When that unthinkable disaster finally did come, the Ironblood pilgrimage was entering into what they thought was their final phase. They had found a lush and beautiful new world and named it Angelfall, after Angel’s Fall on Baal Secondus, the place where the Primarch’s life pod was found and taken in by the humans of Baal. By the time word finally reached them they had already set up prefab colony buildings and most of the warriors were out scouting and securing the area around the promising little village.
Leaving the civilians (most of whom are family of the newly-minted blood angels) to fend for themselves on a largely unexplored, potentially hostile world was unthinkable, and since they made up a substantial portion of the ship’s operating crew it was impractical as well. The errant band of Blood Angels were forced to waste precious time ferrying the frightened and confused civilians back up to the ship, and rounding up far-flung scouting parties.
Unfortunately, the reinforcement mission was doomed before it began. Even if they had embarked in a timely manner, they’d never have reached Terra in time to have made any difference. But for the errant Blood Angels en route, there could be no excuse or consolation. They felt their primarch’s death wail through very fabric of the immaterium itself while still in transit. The psychic scream shattered the mind of their astropath and nearly killed the navigator. The repurposed battle barge was sent tumbling out of the warp. The Emperor alone knows where in time and space the Angel Ascendant materialized, but it’s a blessing that they surfaced at all, let alone alive and (mostly) sane.
Even if they were capable of rejoining their battle brothers, none aboard felt worthy to do so. Consumed by guilt and grief over their perceived sin of abandoning their legion, primarch and emperor so that they could seek petty comfort on a better world, the shamefaced angels saw the crippling of their now Fallen Angel as the vengeful hand of the Emperor, casting them down and away from their more worthy brethren.
Limping to the nearest barely habitable world, they made no attempt to contact the Imperium they now felt unworthy of. Rather, they resigned themselves to their fate as exiled sinners and named their new homeworld Sheol, a purgatory in which to repent and make themselves worthy of salvation. A brief orbital survey was conducted before the Fallen Angel was grounded, her warp engines and communications —already damaged by the violent ejection into real space— scrapped for parts.
The colonists set up a nomadic society on Sheol and kept up their traditions and wargear for unknown centuries before finally being discovered by an explorator corps ship late in M40. Contact was eventually made when the ship noted power readings from the old hulk of a battle barge. The explorators were greeted with caution by the inhabitants, and when they discovered the nature of these beautiful, strapping humans they offered to send a dispatch to Baal asking for a ship to be sent and contact with the chapter restored. It took them weeks before the people of Sheol finally asked them to do just that.
When the Blood Angels arrived they were headed by Dante himself. They landed in force, dropping pods all around the little village built around (and out of) the hulk of the Fallen Angel. They were taking no chances that these rediscovered brothers may be the cowards and traitors they saw themselves as. The people of Sheol, for their part, fell to their knees immediately, prepared to accept whatever long-delayed judgment they were given.
Eventually it was decided to grant these intensely pious and hearty brethren a second chance at redemption. Not just because their adherence to tradition and absolute devotion to the Primarch and Emperor, and their freeness from any hint of chaotic nature, but because their relatively healthy bloodline may prove useful in curing the Flaw that plagues the rest of the chapter.
They were gifted with some fresh equipment, a few new vehicles and technologies they had managed to do without until now, and a refit and overhaul of the newly renamed Errant Angel. The freshly christened Angels Errant were granted successor chapter status and assigned to defend this sector of space from chaos and xenos threats that are slowly making their way towards Sheol.
So now the Angels Errant spend most of their time aboard their spacefaring Fortress Monastery/Battle Barge, doing the Emperor’s work and redeeming themselves as best they can. They return every Sheolian year, landing in The Town (as the only permanent structures on the planet are called) and spending a few months inducting new marines and connecting with family they left behind. It’s worth noting that the crew of the Errant Angel is mostly made up of the wives and families of the marines currently stationed aboard her.
Life on Sheol
Sheol proved to be fertile but savage; a planet of endless fields and abundant water, tundra towards the poles, savannah giving way to desert in the arid bands. There were scattered patches of forest and the occasional rolling hills, and only a few old and eroded mountains. It was in these mountains that they grounded their ship, sending servitors and machines into the rocks to search for and eventually mine minerals and metals they would need to sustain at least some of their technology.
They would need every bit of that technology they could maintain to defend themselves from the marauding beasts that called the sweeping plains their home. Massive and terrifying herbivores, stalking and nightmarish predators, and great devouring tornadoes were but some of the threats the Errant Angels would face in their fight to survive.
This hostile environment forced the penitent colonists to maintain their Blood Angel skills, traditions and wargear. There would be no time to lapse into morbid depression here, and no safe place in which to do it. All of their prefabricated buildings were battened down and abandoned on Angelfall, with the intention of returning to them when the battle was over. The Fallen Angel and a small collection of rude outbuildings made from salvaged drop ships and life boats, and some excavated tunnels and mineshafts in the mountain behind them were and are the only permanent structures on Sheol.
The local wood was too sparse and flimsy to make any shelter that would survive the animals and winds, and all of the meager minerals and metals they manage to refine are required to keep their wargear working. Even if they still dared to dream of the soaring and beautiful cities they had planned to erect, there’s nothing to build them out of. So instead, they find themselves forced to rebuild the same nomadic life they had sought to abandon. Armoured transports were pressed into service as mobile homesteads, typically three to six would be circled, the side hatches inside the circle opened and the vehicles would be linked together and the resulting courtyard roofed over with specially fabricated metal and hide canopies to form a temporary communal dwelling for the marines and their families. Additional vehicles were built, retrofitted or cobbled together whenever there were time and resources and assigned to families as they grew, and used to follow the herds and evade or fight off predators.
Three things, beyond mere survival, dominate the lives of the people of Sheol: Family, Religion, and the inevitable descent into Darkness, in that order. Family comes first, because without your clan there is no chance for survival. Religion is next, because it’s the only hope to fend off the final aspect of life. The Darkness is considered to be the inevitable result of men of Sheol growing old, the only defense from it is the strength of will that comes from dedication to the faith of their forebearers.
The Flaw that plagues all of the sons of Sanguinius is not absent from the Angels Errant, but it takes on a unique form with them. They were blessed with both an unpolluted (if hostile) world, and an infusion of clean human genes in the form of the ship crew and techpriests that came with the rad-burned and scabby people of Baal. After a few generations, almost all signs of physical taint or deformity were expunged from the gene pool…but the same could not be said for their minds and souls. All of the colonists were exposed to the death of the primarch through the very fabric of the warp. It left an imprint that smolders in the minds of not just those who become marines, but every man, woman and child on that expedition and the generations that followed.
Sanguinary priests, working with the mission’s techpriest contingent were able to convert the Fallen Angel into a makeshift Fortress Monestary, complete with the facilities for induction and insanguination of new marines. As a matter of course, *all* men of Sheol are taken to the temple inside the earthbound hulk and put through the rites of induction.
Thanks to their restored vigor, most will survive. This has become a rite of passage into manhood and a prerequisite for marriage, advanced combat training and (of equal importance in this nomad culture) being taught to drive and entrusted with a transport. Those too weak or scared to complete the rites either die trying or are used as servitors, their faces forever sealed behind iron masks. The families are never told the fate of those who do not ascend but the custom is to assume the child died, mourn him and to never look too closely at the faceless servitors as they shuffle about their tasks. It should be noted that the resulting young marines are able to breed for at least their next hundred years of life. Whether this is normal for marines (whose sex lives are most often a non-issue, or else deeply guarded secrets), or the result of minute alterations to the geneseed deemed necessary for survival is something known only to the sanguinary priests.
Women cannot undergo the transformation, but after the first generation or so, have enough space marine genetics bred into them that they are all strong, healthy, beautiful and long-lived, though nowhere near the range of their menfolk, they’re certainly near the peak of humanity. They are all trained fighters and skilled drivers by the time they’re old enough to marry. Marriages on Sheol are until death (usually of the wife), at which time it is extremely rare for them to ever remarry. The thought of suffering loss like that again and again for centuries is unthinkable for most men of Sheol. This could be why they only generally breed for their first century or so. They may still be fertile beyond that, but they focus on their duties after the death of the wife.
In the women of Sheol, devotion to their family is usually enough to stave off the worst of the Darkness, though depression, delusion and anger aren’t uncommon late in life. Suicide after the death of a spouse is not uncommon and is considered sad but not a sin. Many women whose children are grown devote themselves to religion, assisting techmarines, chaplains and sanguinary priests, or else opt to become crew for vehicles or their flying fortress monastery. But due to their lack of true Marine ability and the ultra-intensive training that goes with it, they do not take an active role in combat, except maybe behind the wheel or weapon sights of a tank or armored transport.
Children are raised on Sheol, in the armored nomad convoys that are so typical of their culture. When the Errant Angel returns to Sheol, all those young men of age are taken aboard and changed. They train for a year on Sheol before returning to the ship to serve for several years until they become fully fledged marines. After which time they divide their time between fighting for the Emperor abroad, and raising their children and training the next generation back on Sheol.
Among the marines of Sheol, if all members of a squad are not at least cousins by blood, they are treated as such, forming bonds as strong or stronger than those of any other fighting men in the galaxy. In combat they are lead by junior members of the priesthood, who they usually refer to as Battlefather, with all the respect and reverence they show their own fathers. Their transports (and usually their oft female crew) are referred to in their battle cant as “Mother” (followed by the squad name or number for the designation of the transport). Squad names are usually family names, often followed by a number to differentiate between squads of the same immediate bloodline. Blood or no, all men in that squad take their squad name as their own family name, hyphenating if they are from a different family. For example, Brother Aiden Cento-Lucien21, Battlefather Arius Ironwing02
Among the Ironblood pilgrims, the priests and techpriests were encouraged to marry (and intermarry) and pass their secrets down to their children, and to any member of the clan whose dedication and desire to learn are deemed worthy enough. As a result of this tightly knit family culture and utter isolation from the rest of Imperial Dogma, the main facets of their spirituality eventually merged. Maintaining the body, soul, and machines are all equally important. Without their vehicle or wargear, nobody can survive for long. Without a strong, healthy body and bloodline survival holds little purpose. Without a pure soul and strong devotion to the Faith, all that survives is a beast whose only purpose now is to drag as many enemies into the grave with you as you can. As a result, most priests know at least something of mechanics, first aid and how to colsole and guide their brothers.
Naturally, some secrets require too much dedication for a person to master more than one path, so specialists do exist. Techmarines and Chaplains are the ones most commonly seen on the battlefield. Sanguinary priests, despite their role as healers, are usually deemed too important to both the survival of the chapter, and of the Legion itself. They are usually in seclusion aboard the Errant Angel working with chapter techpriests and sanguinary priests from other chapters to try and see what their bloodline can do to help combat the Flaw, or else stationed on Sheol, tending to the bodies and souls of the rest of the tribe.
Because members of the priesthood all seem to be extremely resistant to the Darkness that dogs the footsteps of the rest of their tribe, it is not uncommon for young inductees to seek out the priesthood. They are so flush with novices that they are dubbed Battlefathers and sent out to lead their brothers and cousins into battle on a squad level. Battlefathers are allowed to wear black armor with white helms or face plates, and are given access to a wide array of special close combat weapons (powerfists are most common) but the true Crozius and Skull Helm are reserved for the most senior Chaplains.
It’s also worth noting that the Angels Errant have a higher than average instance of psykers, who by necessity are immediately taken into the priesthood to avoid the dangerous consequences of a blood-mad sorcerer in their ranks. Psychic hoods are, of course, rare in the isolated community, so they are often equipped with hand-forged force weapons that include similar technology, reverse-engineered from the few ancient hoods the chapter retained. The techpriests have gotten so good at creating psi-dampening devices that they often forge psi-dampers for important battlefield commanders, or build them into dreadnoughts and their own master-crafted armor.
Battle-hardened heroes who are not either dreadnoughts or members of the priesthood are very rare, but very well respected. Even so, it is very uncommon for a battle company to be commanded by anyone other than a chaplain or psychic priest, and even the ones that are often include a high ranking priest of some sort just in case their hero falls into the Darkness at an inopportune moment.
The Darkness, or rather the fear thereof, is what drives the Angels Errant. If they haven’t got what it takes to become a priest or battlefather, it’s every Sheolian man’s goal to father and raise up a strong, healthy family, see their sons inducted and their daughters married, and then die a valiant death before the Darkness takes them.
What makes the Darkness different from the Red Thirst and subsequent Black Rage of most Blood Angels is that the Darkness doesn’t come with the terrible thirst, delusions or visions, or at least not to the same degree. Rather it comes with a sort of manic depression that grips the marine sometime usually late in life, but it could be any time after their first century.
Though the Angels Errant are known for being nothing if not a bit gloomy, symptoms of severe depression are rare except among those nearing the Darkness. Unlike the madness, rage and delusions that plague their brothers, sufferers of the Darkness do not become homicidal maniacs or delude themselves into believing they’re Sanguinius fighting his final battle. They can actually live and function with the Darkness for years before it becomes crippling.
Out of combat, these unfortunate brothers tend to be quiet, withdrawn and depressed. They keep to themselves, study scripture and try to avoid contact with their brothers and families (which is extremely painful for them, but necessary). They set themselves apart and wear black robes so that others know to be careful around them, for the other symptom of the Darkness is violent mood swings. It’s not the uncontrollable Black Rage, but it’s unpredictable. It’s impossible to know when someone will say or do something to set the sufferer off. Next thing anyone knows, the brother with the Darkness has his hands around the throat of another brother (Or, god forbid, a wife or child), screaming about the sins of their victim or themselves. These attacks are usually over as soon as they begin, but it’s best just to keep quiet and keep one’s distance.
In combat, they wear their black robes over their red armor. Those still able to function fight alongside their brothers. The heat of combat must keep them focused, for never has an angel turned upon his brothers in combat. But when the enemy gets close, they become the target of all of that pent up fear and hate, setting off a vicious, animalistic attack that only ends in the deaths of several enemies, or the marine himself. Once out of close combat, the Battlefather is usually able to calm them once again and get him focused on the battle.
Those who have gone beyond being able to manage their Darkness usually fall to full on depression, or barely controlled rage, depending upon the nature of the man. Those who become morose venture out into battle alone, shrugging off enemy fire like a true member of the Death Company, seeking only their own death and the deaths of the most or the biggest enemies they can lay hands upon. Despite or because of this grim death wish, they adamantly refuse any assistance as they race to their death. On rare occasions it’s been known for tamed Sheolian beasts, or frantic, freshly inducted sons of the Darkened marine to follow him onto the field, always going to the grave with them.
The marines whose Darkness leads them to rage tend to take the field in small units, letting their gleeful frenzy carry them forward at shocking speeds as they literally leap into the fray. They are more in control than the Death Company, but still able to withstand tremendous punishment before succumbing to death. They do not require the guidance of a Chaplain to keep them from chasing down and devouring the nearest enemy unit. Outside of close combat they still have enough control to make tactical decisions and follow commands. Hardened veterans who fall to the Darkness in this way are allowed to keep their special weapons as well, but more often than not they opt for just their pistols and swords, eager to see how much damage they can do with just the strength granted by their joyous rage.
Ironically, the repressed and gloomy Angels Errant often never experience happiness and joy to this degree until the day the die on the battlefield, their teeth in the enemy’s throat.
Army List Notes
The following is a list of explanations and alterations to the background and descriptions of existing Codex: Space Wolves units and wargear. In all cases, the rules, statlines, etc are completely 100% unchanged from C:SW. Only the baclground and descriptions change.
Counter Attack: The Darkness makes the men of Sheol quick to anticipate and react to unexpected attacks. When you have to be prepared to fend off your own brother at a moment’s notice, being able to intercept an enemy charge is easy for such ferocious warriors and skilled hunters.
Acute Senses: Life as plains hunters (and growing up without toxins burning your eyes and lungs constantly), and being forced to evade vicious predators in the tall grass have made the eyes and ears of Sheolian men very keen, even in low-light conditions.
Leaders of the Pack: Rename to “Family Patriarchs” The Angels Errant put a huge emphasis on family and religion. And they have a lot of fearsome father figures and a surplus of priests. However, the limited selection of suitable wargear for such important individuals, and their respect for individuality means there’s no room for overlap on their options.
Listed in order of appearance in the book.
Blood Claws (“Little Brothers”)
Inductees who have passed their rites of manhood and graduated out of the ranks of the “Children” (see below) are granted power armor and proper weapons. The intense zeal and eagerness to prove themselves that marked their first two years has subsided somewhat (explaining their current stats) but is still present in the form of their headstrong nature and berserk charges. Little Brothers need much supervision at this stage, and are almost never fielded without a Battlefather, or at least a hardened veteran to oversee them and keep them under control. More often than not, these “Little Brothers” are brothers, or at least close cousins. They will usually be drawn from the same nomadic family. As with their more experienced battle brothers, their squad name will reflect this, and when gifted with a transport, it is referred to as “Mother” in battle cant. That some will not survive their first few conflicts is inevitable. As the squad shrinks and gains experience, eventually they all graduate as one to fully-fledged Battle Brothers.
Grey Hunters (“Battle Brothers”)
As described earlier in the codex, all members of a given squad of Battle Brothers are family and share a common name. Unlike their Little Brothers, Battle Brothers units are replenished from time to time, usually the remnants of two weakened squads are merged together into one, or in cases where one squad is utterly devastated, their survivors are absorbed into a unit with an opening. These new members are usually referred to as “Cousin” and keep their old family/squad name, at least until they have formed a bond with their new family ad are accepted as brothers. Thanks to their pre-heresy origins, Battle Brothers tratditionally fight like Crusaders, carrying a pistol, sword and bolter into combat, unhindered by the Codex Astartes and its petty restrictions. Like their Little Brothers, fully fledged Battle Brothers are usually watched over and lead by a Battlefather
Wolf Scouts (“Hunter Scouts”)
Hunter Scouts are usually older, experienced veterans or those whose Dark Times are coming. They tend to be more grim and withdrawn than the rest of the chapter, and take pleasure only in the thrill of the hunt. Members of these hunter squads tend to be drawn from all over the chapter, and are usually not immediate family. As souch they refer to each other as “Cousin” most of the time. Because they share no relation, their unit names are chosen by the members and are typically descriptive of their deeds or talents. Their willingness to abandon their thick armor and enter battle or a hunt without the armored transport that is so ingrained upon their culture is something that is looked upon with awe by others as a sign of their immense courage and skill. Because they are so competent and respected, they are not required to talk on a Battlefather, but many do, or take on the honor of hosting a Hardened Veteran in their party.
Some of the longest-serving, most experienced members of the chapter, Beastslayers are both feared and respected for their ability to go so long without succumbing to the Darkness. Respected for their strength, feared because it’s only a matter of time until they do. Traditionally, it’s the oldest and most experienced members of a hunting party that were entrusted with the ancient and rare heavy weapons. While their younger brothers flushed out and harassed the massive prey animals, or fended off the fearsome predators, it would be the duty and honor of the Beastslayer to pull the trigger and put the monster down. In combat, beastslayers band together in small units and coordinate their fire to best effect in support of their comrades in arms. Like Hunter Scouts, Beastslayer units take their names from deeds rather than family, as they are usually drawn from all over the chapter, hoping that keeping back from the thrill of close combat will help keep the Darkness at bay.
Lone Wolves (“Dark Ones”)
Dark Ones are the men of Sheol whose Darkness has consumed them and turned their grief and anger inwards upon themselves. Though technically part of the chapter’s Dark Company, Dark Ones weep rather than laugh as the darkness takes over. These suicidal loners fight apart from everyone, hoping a glorious death will erase their shame. Though they shun all others, they are sometimes followed onto the field by bereaved Sons, willing to risk sharing his fate just to witness his sacrifice and bring his body home to Sheol.
Wolf Guard (“Hardened Veterans/Battlefathers”)
Feared and respected as much as the beastslayers, these battle-hardened veterans are often called “Father” or “Uncle” outside of their squad. Though near their Dark Times, these exceptionally strong-willed brethren almost never fall to the Darkness before a battle. Instead, when they feel it coming they will usually join the Dark Company and accept their fates, rather than trying to live with it for decades more.
Terminator armour is rare for the Angels Errant, even after they were re-supplied at long last by their founding chapter. As such, it’s rare to see more than a handful in a battle company, and not always as a single coherent unit. Rather, it’s not uncommon for those gifted with these mighty weapons and armor to go and join whatever units are most in need of their support. However, on at least one epic battle Grandfather Ironblood was able to put out a call and assemble all of the chapter’s suits of terminator armour and take the field as one mighty force. It was a sight to behold.
Battlefathers are similar to Hardened Veterans in their prowess and the amount of respect they are afforded, but they are not always so old as these, sometimes just barely into their second centuries. What sets these warriors apart is their prodigious talent and their limitless Faith. Battlefathers do not assemble as a unit, rather they are assigned to any squad that requests or requires their leadership. Those that live long enough often go on to become fully fledged Chaplains or Techmarines (It is often the Battlefather who repairs a damaged Rhino in mid-combat)
Fenrisian Wolves (“Beasts of Sheol/Children of Sheol”)
Sometimes particularly bold hunters may capture and tame certain smaller Sheolian predators, usually Prarie Wolves or Grass Lions, and use them as hunting companions or pets. So loyal are these beasts, once tamed, that they will accompany their masters onto the field of battle.
The same set of stats can also be used to represent raw inductees, Children of Sheol still pink around their implant scars, and/or novice priests selected for the ranks of Battlefathers, if they can survive long enough.
The Angels Errant have always suffered from an abundance of inductees but a shortage of proper armour and equipment to go around. So it was that the youngest mariens were forced to do without, trusting in basic weapons and their Faith to carry them to victory and help them earn their wargear. Since re-establishing contact with the founding chapter, the Angels Errant were gifted with hundreds of new suits of Power Armor, but it’s not exactly a common commodity in the galaxy at large either. So while the Little Brothers may join their elders fully equipped, the youngest still must do without. This, however, is taken as a test of their faith and ability (and in a practical sense helps to pair their numbers down to something more manageable with their limited resources and support)
Children of Sheol spend at least their first two years of manhood in this state, running into combat lightly armored but heavy with zeal. Their first year is served on Sheol, beginning as soon as the Errant Angel lifts off to resume its duties. They are put through rigorous and heavily suprevised training until the ship’s return, where they embark upon their new lives as men. Once aboard ship they spend at least another Sheolian year going into combat on other worlds, learning the rites of battle first hand. When not in combat they learn how to crew and maintain the ship and generally do whatever needs doing. They are usually referred to as “Boy” or “Son” by all but the Little Brothers (who call *them* “Little Brother” if they’re lucky, or less kind things if not.)
Between their lack of encumbering power armor and their all-consuming drive to prove themselves, these boys fight and move like savage beasts. Only another so young and lightly encumbered (or one so frenzied) can keep pace and lead them. As such, the Children are usually lead by junior priests, novices in the chapter faith. These righteous youths are granted some measure of protection in the form of black scout armor, but must rely on their own talent and zeal for everything else. Now and then they may be lead by heroic figures, but usually only those in the frenzy of Darkness can keep up with these wild youths without forcing them to slow down.
Not all Children of Sheol fight in these large units, some are singled out to accompany and assist Techmarines or other important leaders within the chapter. They often serve as shield bearers, allowed to accompany mighty heroes into combat and learn from them first hand. These are often children or grandchildren of these lofty persons, and are usually destined for greatness themselves. Children bought as wargear may be modeled carrying items of wargear for a character (like inquisitorial henchmen) but it is treated as being in the possession of the character and is still available even if the child is removed from combat. However, do to their precocious nature and eagerness to be out on the field, these fidgety youths take up space as two models when embarked on a transport.
Skyclaws and Swiftclaw Bikers (“Little Brother Assault/Bike Squads”)
Bikes and Jump Packs were all but nonexistent for the AE prior to their establishing contact with the rest of the galaxy. When the pilgrimage was originally assembled, all of the Blood Angels fast attack elements were offworld fighting in the crusades. Only a handful of Bikes and Jump Packs were left in the armoury, and fewer still made available to the expedition. These were given to those of the highest rank, and passed down as holy relics. When they were reunited with the main chapter they were gifted with a few score of bikes and a hundred or so jump packs.
However, after untold centuries of living and fighting out of armoured vehicles and on foot, the Angels Errant have forgotten most of the Fast Attack doctrines of their founding and are reluctant to take to the unfamiliar machines (though bikes do hold a certain primal appeal to the hunters of Sheol), as such they’ve been given over to the younger and more daring members of the chapter, in the hopes that someday their use might fall back into favor…and so that these eager youths might know joy and freedom before they have to begin dreading the Darkness. Because the ancient bikes and jump packs that the chapter has maintained from its start have become relics and the new ones considered children’s toys, it is uncommon for any but a few noble heroes to ride or fly into combat with the reckless youths. More often than not, they are allowed to take the field unsupervised while their seniors hope and pray that they can remember to fire their weapons now and then before racing into the fray.
Thunderwolf Cavalry (“The Dark Company”)
The chapter’s so-called Dark Company (often referred to as their Death Company by outsiders and visitors from other BA chapters) is made up, in theory, of all those for whom the Darkness has come. In a practical sense, however, most of those people still live and serve with their battle brothers, coping as best they can with their mood swings and depression, while only the worst, most advanced cases are made to stay in private cells when not in combat. The actual Dark Company that takes the field is usually representative only of those far gone few who are consumed by their Darkness, but not driven to suicide.
Called the Joyous Wrath, this manic state is the closest thing to real joy that the dour Angels ever get after they reach manhood. They’re not just enraged killing machines with the speed and ferocity to match the fiercest beasts, they’re taking pleasure in their slaughter in a way that —were it not wholly and sincerely dedicated to the memory of their Primarch— would be considered almost heretical. Sufferers of this most advanced form of Darkness form small bands, often divided into multiple units and rove the field with deadly purpose. Sometimes accompanied by former heroes fallen into their own Dark Times, but often times on their own. Fortunately they maintain enough of their sanity to act with cunning and foresight, directing their vicious assaults where they are most needed and never mistaking friend for foe.
Wolf, Rune and Iron Priests (“Chaplains, Librarians and Techmarines” or just “Priests”)
As detailed above, Faith plays a vital role in the lives of the Angels Errant, as such their upper ranks are swollen with priests of all stripes. Save for their numbers and the finer points of their battle litanies, AE Chaplains are about the same as their BA brethren (though none of them choose to abandon their Crozius for a Fist like BA chaplains can, because the rare and prestigious badge of office is what helps to set them apart from their junior counterparts the Battlefathers).
By necessity, all psykers born to the people of Sheol are spotted early and drafted into the ranks of the priesthood. Though technically high ranking proiests, they retain the title of Librarian and are primarily concerned (when not in battle) with keeping the records and traditions of the chapter. Since the weather of Sheol is so fierce, it’s no wonder that the chapter’s psykers bent their minds to taming and controlling it rather than adhering to the traditional powers of flight and quickening. Nobody is faster than a lightining bolt, and wings will only put you worse off in a windstorm or tornado.
Lacking in proper Psychic Hoods, the chapter’s tech marines had to reverse engineer the technology from the few they had (this was thousands of years ago when knowledge was fresher and minds less muddled by blurry ritual) and build psi-dampers into specially crafted force weapons. As a side-effect of merging null-tech with the force weapon, it was discovered (much later, after their re-founding) that the resulting weapon was much more destructive to the daemonic energies that sustain the fiends of chaos than a normal force weapon. They got so adept with this technology that they built similar dampers to bestow upon certain leaders, or built into the chapter’s mighty dreadnoughts, even building a weaker version into their own artificer armour.
The Techmarines (often called simply “Techpriests”) of the chapter are exceptionally inventive. Lacking newfangled servo-harnesses and great unwieldly artillery pieces, and with nothing to build fortifications from, they instead focus on martial prowess (universally favoring a thunderhammer to the cog-bladed power axe) and the care, maintenance and invention of vehicles. When not commandeering one of the chapter’s relic bikes or jump packs, or riding in a borrowed (and souped up) transport, they favor elaborate and improbable contrivances of their own design, often taking the form of tracked lecterns, festooned with an array of vicious looking mechadendrites, and equipped with emergency turbochargers to punch him into assaults.
Wolf Lords and Wolf Guard Battle Leaders (“Chieftains and Heroes”)
Though rarely in outright command of an operation, the eldest and most skilled warriors of the chapter are an undoubtedly important part of the chapter’s hierarchy as both a military unit and a nomad tribe. Their age and experience makes them invaluable assets, but it also puts them in danger of falling into the Darkness, and thus potentially unreliable. They usually take charge of units of Hardened Vets or Battle Brothers, boosting their morale and their fighting ability immensely. Some younger heroes even take up the newfangled bikes and jump packs gifted to them recently and join the young ones to provide a little adult supervision, while others, in the throws of their Joyous Wrath have been known to join units of Dark Company, or even take command over a terrified unit of Children and lead them to glorious carnage. Taking over a Child squad like this is never something that is planned or encouraged and is usually the result of some hero succumbing to the Darkness on the battlefield.
Vehicles are vitally important to the people of Sheol and their mighty warriors. Since they were formed from the Armoured Division of the originally Blood Angels Legion, the Angels Errant have access to a much larger motor pool than other chapters, and this is usually reflected by their presence on the battlefield. Though it’s not uncommon to see them fielding heavy support tanks, it’s worth noting that most of the battle tanks in the chapter’s arsenal are kept on Sheol. That’s not to say they don’t carry with them as many or more tanks than other chapters, but te bulk of their treads patrol the plains around The Town, including their superheavies. (The Daedalus has been fitted out as a mobile chapel and is the seat of the planetbound elements of the priesthood)
Transports (Rhino, Razorback, Drop Pod)
The rhino is a cherished and ubiquitous vehicle in any Space Marine chapter, but to a Sheolian it’s a member of the family. On the homeworld a rhino is often the first home a child will know, the gentle hum of its systems and the reassuring presence of its machine spirit lulling the little one to sleep at night. It’s safe and warm and rocks gently in the most savage windstorms, turning a deadly hazard into gentle lullaby.
Extended families generally travel in clusters of three to six armoured vehicles, typically one small family per vehicle. Mother, father two to four children all bundled into the troop transport along with any pets. It may sound claustrophobic, but compared to a dozen fully armoured space marines, one (usually unarmored or lightly armored) marine, a woman and a handful of small children can rack out quite nicely inside on bunks fitted to the walls, with their meager possessions tucked into storage compartments or secured to the roof. As families expand it’s often the case tat the parents will move into another transport (often a razorback, to better defend their young ones) with the children (now sometimes up to eight or ten), pets and possessions consigned to the rhino, which the mother will drive when they are on the move. Generally more than one immediate family will make up a convoy. Often the elders will have their own vehicle at the head of the procession with their children and grandchildren in the other vehicles. Usually the most heavily armed transport will be the one with the most senior, most experienced family members.
There’s no concern of these enders falling into their Dark Times while behind the controls of the most powerful weapons in the caravan, because when they sense the Darkness closing in, they know to stop and leave the convoy during the night. When their families wake in the morning to find him and his weapon gone, but his armor left behind they will know it was his time, and they will grieve, but also hope. Hope that they are found by the mighty Land Raider chapels that rove the plains, or failing that, that they die nobly before falling into madness.
In combat, Rhinos and Razorbacks are just as central and vital as they are in civilian life. With few exceptions like the hunter teams, all squads have a transport that they refer to as “mother” (and is often crewed by female family members, in the younger squads). They may or may not take this transport into combat with them, dependant upon the necessities. Generally, the younger units (Battle Brothers and Little Brothers) favor rhinos, while the older (generally smaller) units like Hardened Vets and Beastslayers are entrusted with more heavily armed Razorbacks, but there are always exceptions.
Drop Pods are available but rare. The chapter’s original complement were expended and then striped for parts during the colonization of Sheol. With the battle barge grounded, the assault boats were of no conceivable use to the stranded pilgrims, so they broke them down and transported the components back to the Fallen Angel to be used for future projects. Since the chapter’s rediscovery, the rechristened barge was refitted and its drop pods partially replenished. But there weren’t many to spare, each Successor Chapter still on good terms with their founders contributed one or two from their surplus. The result is that the Angels Errant have a handful of pods, enough to launch a single assault company at any one time. Generally, however, they are reserved for the most important and valuable units; terminators and dreadnoughts, mainly, working in concert with mounted units deployed from the chapter’s ancient and recently refurbished Thunderhawks (The gunships themselves served as makeshift buildings before the rediscovery. Staying grounded most of the time, lifting off now and then to assist in hunts or search for lost convoys).
Predators, Vindicators and Whirlwinds
The chapter’s main battle tanks were of little practical use during the early times on Sheol, prior to rediscovery. They were mainly used to defend The town from the odd monstrous beast, or occasionally to assist in hunts, but by and large they were disused, even decommissioned and used to fashion more transports to house families. Their precious armaments and munitions were saved, and a handful of heavy tanks kept in combat order, but by and large they were prized more for their versatile rhino chassis than their heavy combat capability.
Since their rediscovery, the Angels were forced to rearm for heavy combat in furtherance of their duties as Space Marines. Part of this meant bringing the old heavy munitions out of mothballs and refitting some of their transports. The uncommonly adept techpriests of the chapter, having become experts in all things based on the Rhino STC, were able to do this swiftly and with aplomb. In fact, they were able to keep the munitions and additional armor modular, allowing them to field-upgrade a basic rhino into any other Rhino-STC vehicle in the armoury in a matter of hours. Likewise, battle tanks can be stripped down into speedy combat transports in even less time.
As a result, it’s not uncommon to see predators, vindicators, and especially whirlwinds daubed with squad markings and bearing names like “Mother Longrider21”. Only a handful of battle tanks are consigned to permanent roles as such, and even then their armament is often kept limber and hot-swappable as the battlefield conditions require. When you see a squad of Angels entering battle on foot, it is most likely because their transport was given the honour of being pressed into temporary service as a battle tank elsewhere, or even as part of the same battle company. Despite this capability, battle tanks do not typically make up large parts of Sheolian battle companies, if only because they would rather use their vehicles as transports, and leave the heavy hitting to the Beastslayers. Most of the chapter’s dedicated battletanks remain on Sheol as the home guard. Woe to anyone foolish enough to try and invade that world, populated with monstrous beasts and full-blooded Space Marines and flush with heavy armored vehicles.
With their love of transports and their need for security on their savage new homeworld, the chapter’s handful of Land Raiders were considered to be of paramount importance and value to the people of Sheol. Their mighty guns, impenetrable hulls and cavernous interiors made them prime choices for the most honoured of roles: that of the mobile chapel.
Crewed by priests and their aspirant novices, the chapter’s land raiders have been converted from heavy assault transports to rolling reliquaries, festooned with baroque décor on the inside and out, blessed by all branches of the chapter’s priesthood, and entrusted with ancient relics and the bones of mighty heroes, these mighty vehicles are an inspiration to all who behold them. Though the bulk of them remain on the homeworld, wandering the grassy plains, patrolling to collect the lost and damned, and ministering to the far-flung nomad families, they make their presence felt as part of the chapter’s battlefield armoury as well.
After their rediscovery, the chapter was gifted with designs and specifications for new-pattern land raiders and their most common variants. After a few expeditions to gather resources from nearby planets, the chapter went about constructing a half dozen of the powerful machines, specifically for use in combat on worlds away from Sheol. These battlefield-only models are less richly decorated than their earthbound ancestors, but no less sacred. Due to their formidable armour and weapons, superior transport capacity and overall importance to the chapter, their use is usually reserved for the most important of heroes, or the most skilled and well-armed of the chapter’s warriors. From time to time though, they are pressed into service to carry eager little brothers into battle, taking advantage of the calming presence of the priests and their capacious troop compartments to insert the blood-eager youths into the heart of combat.
Back on the homeworld, it’s not unusual for the ancient and holy vehicles to pick up complements of Dark Ones found wandering alone in the wilderness. They are cared for and tended to within the holy confines of the armoured hull, and when an opportunity arises for them to find a noble death in battle, the seals on the assault ramps are peeled away and the Dark Company is unleashed to fight and die in some truly epic hunt.
Though it can be said the heart and soul of the chapter is its transport motorpool, its wisdom clearly lies in its ancient Dreadnoughts. Though not part of the pilgrimage’s original complement, the Dreadnought STC was known to the techpriests, and materials and technology required to build them was included amongst their resources.
The first Marine given the honour of a Dreadnought body was Master Versatus, the highest ranking Chaplain and spiritual leader of the original mission. Versatus was a member of the Ironblood tribe before his life as a Space Marine began (he was among the lucky few personally inducted into the ranks by the emperor and primarch themselves.) The blood of Sanguinius circulates through his life support systems and is likely the purest sample known in the galaxy. Tiny amounts of the precious fluid were given to the founding chapter upon their rediscovery as a gift and sign of penance.
As the oldest and most devout surviving member of the Sheolian people, Versatus is the de-facto master of the chapter. His presence on the battlefield is an inspiration to all, and his wisdom and leadership are priceless. He is considered a living relic, on par with Bjorn the Fell-Handed, or Moriar the Chosen. Though like Bjorn, he fought alongside his Emperor and Primarch during the great crusades, he is not believed to be as old as that truly ancient dreadnought. He dates from the same times, but it is believed that when the Ascendant Angel was cast out of the void it was thrown ahead unknown centuries into its relative future. Exactly how big this time-discrepancy is is unknown, even to ancient ones like Versatus. All they know is they have live don Sheol for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Other old and heroic members of the tribe have been inducted since, one or two every few centuries. It is considered a rare and high honor, reserved for the bravest and most strong-willed amongst the chapter. Surprisingly, these are more often than not Grandfathers and clan leaders rather than members of the priesthood. Thee priests know they are safe from the Darkness, but if giving up their chance for immortality means saving the mind and soul of one of their cherished elders, then it’s a price they pay gladly. Though not always at the head of the army, the strength and wisdom of their dreadnought brethren are always welcome on the battlefield.
Broken into following post due to excessive length
Last edited by Galahad; 10-22-09 at 04:14 AM.