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Index Astartes: Umbral Senechals

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Thought it was about time I'd write up the background to my marines. It's not yet finished, but I'd appreciate your feedback before it gets too long.

Most marines in the chapter use a pattern of armour that is rarely found within much of the Astartes Chapters, but can’t resist putting their own Techmarines to improving the armour. The mark IV “Maximus” pattern of power armour is considered by many to be the epitome of Space Marine armour – it had been developed before the Horus Heresy, but the length taken to produce each suit was not enough to replace the horrendous losses suffered by the loyalists and traitors alike.

Instead, the mark V “Heresy” pattern was created, and speed of production over capability eventually ran out. Many forge worlds had the data to create the mark IV armour removed over the years following the heresy after they were deemed untrustworthy. Many of those that didn’t simply lost it in their archives, and even more had it stolen. However, there are few who still produce it. The particular forge world is a closely guarded secret of the chapter – only being accepted into the chapters’ high command will give a marine the information.

The Techmarines of the Umbral Seneschal’s have struggled to make the power packs of the mark IV armour deliver the requirements that the extended periods away from the full armoury of the Fortress Monastery can guarantee. Instead, the Mark VII “Eagle” or Mark VIII “Ultra” patterns of armour provide each marine’s power plant. The backpacks of the Mark VII “Eagle” armour are generally much more simple and easy to repair in the field without specialised kit, while the Mark VIII “X” armour provide greater power and reliability, but requires specialised knowledge if something does get damaged.

With only a single battle barge available to the Chapter, returning usually only once every decade to the fortress monastery on Denkari Minor, this customization is one of many small increases to the chapter’s effectiveness. Another is the variant helmets. Some marines, particularly those in the Devastator or Veteran Sternguard squads, make use of the mark VII “Eagle” pattern helmets with the Macragge pattern monocle optical scope, while the weapons favoured by the chapter are the Phobos Mark IV pattern bolter. The longer muzzle balances the weapon better for medium to long distance shooting, with the greater spin imparted on the round making it a more accurate weapon. The chapter’s battle tactics sees them employed at short range, but with the capability to change via mind impulse devices to the weapon, switching between repetition, four-round burst, and automatic. The weapons, on occasion, have a vertical foregrip, but this is usually done according to the marine whose weapon it is.

The chapter symbol on the left shoulder pad is a bone coloured creature from the Denkari home world of the chapter, a cross between an eagle, a horse, and a man, carrying a sword, on a deep red field. The creature is known as a Lammassu, although there are no more of the fabled creatures after Waaagh! Grugakh. The armour takes the same colours as the symbol – a deep red armour, with details in bone. The belt, shoulder trims, lower visor, helm crest, and backpack crown are all picked out in this colour, while the soft armour, pipes, grills, and chest plate details are picked out in bronze.

The lenses of the eyes are a yellow/orange colour. This is a strange decision, as the colour is extremely hard to replace if damage is taken. However, in low light, the orange amplifies the light intake, yet in highly photo-chromatic conditions, the colour stops the marine being blinded. Although the enhanced eyesight of a marine can cope with direct or indirect blindness (such as snow blindness), it is another level of protection, especially against the phosphorous closed entry grenades the chapter uses extensively.

The casing and furniture on the weaponry is picked out in the same details, while the metal detail is kept in accordance with the same bronze finish.

The company markings are gothic numeral on the right knee pad, while the squad designation is on the right shoulder pad. Both are picked out in the same bone as the rest of the armour. Litany and scrollwork regularly cover the armour. Much of it are quotes from the history of the chapter or the Codex Astartes, while others are from famous members of the chapter.
The Umbral Seneschal’s are specialists in planetary assault. The Chapter has more strike cruisers than it does companies – twelve in total, and each one has a full complement of Thunderhawks. Unlike other chapters who lobotomise failed recruits turning them into servitors, but in the Seneschals, depending on their advancement in the training process, they are taken into the fleet. The fittest and strongest, early in their potential career have their memories wiped clean, and sent to work on the weapons systems. Yet others work as mechanics, while only the most gifted get to fly as part of a Thunderhawk crew. Although the two pilots are space marine crew, the less important jobs are entrusted to those who failed. This ensures that the chapter, which is comparatively understrength compared to others, fulfil a possibly the most dangerous form of combat. These two companies according to numerical strength are far and above the normal size for a company, but consequently, there are enough fleet based Thunderhawks and Transporters to sufficiently transport the entire Chapter.

The chapter has extremely few dreadnoughts compared to others – and as such has to take extreme care of them. If taken into conflict they are done so using the so called “Iron Cyclone” technique, and only then as part of a multi-company assault (of which it would have to be to include more than one dreadnought – only certain companies have a dreadnought, and no company has more than one dreadnought).

Extensive training has seen the chapter perfect timings of the staggered assaults, combining the “Iron Cyclone” dreadnought assault with a “Strike Eagle” Drop Pod assault to land at the same time. First of all, the target zone is struck by a sustained orbital bombardment, and timed to within 2 seconds of completion of the bombardment; multiple “Deathwind” drop pods will hit the landing zone. Anything leaving shelter will be caught by a hail of gunfire and explosive missiles. The speed of a drop pod compared to lance strikes, bombardment cannon rounds and melta torpedoes means that both trajectory and speed of the drop pods through the atmosphere has to be taken into account, so that the “Deathwind’s” aren’t shot down en-route.

Then, thirty seconds after the first drop pods hit planetside, the dreadnought drop pods, and Strike Eagle Drop Pods land, and disgorge troops. On occasion, such attacks may receive a twofold deployment of armour and marines in Thunderhawks and Thunderhawk Transporters escorted by the chapter’s high proliferation of Land Speeder Tempests. Yet other Thunderhawks have a complement of Assault Marines or Vanguard Veterans, and these use their Jump Packs to guide them down from altitude to land amid an enemy battle line, moments after the Deathwind Drop Pods have expended their ammunition. At the same time, any Terminator’s not joining the battle mounted in their Land Raiders carried by the Thunderhawk Transporters will Teleport into battle and unleash hell with their Storm Bolters and Assault Cannons.

That is the most basic of the chapter’s “live” landing tactics – there are numerous other options available, requiring extensive collaboration with Imperial Forces. Details of many of these “beachhead assaults” can be found in the Notable Conflicts.

The chapter makes extensive use of the Land Speeder Tempests, while the standard Land Speeders are rarely used. This is due to several reasons, but namely the increased payload coupled with the reduced number of marines required to fly the Tempest (from two to one), meant that it was less taxing on the numbers due to the high threat capacity the Tempest would be flying in – not a true fighter or aircraft, when fighting against the Ork “Fighta’s”, or Eldar “Raven” or “Nightwing” class fighters, they were often outclassed. However, the relatively slow moving Thunderhawks need the protection of the Tempests and when making an atmospheric entry, each of the Gunships are supported by a pair of Tempests.

The Fifth Company in particular make heavy use of Hit and Run attacks. Unique among the chapter is that they are the only ones who fight on top of Bikes, they are more often used in support of their brothers in the Battle Companies, or if fielded in company strength, the Battle Brothers provide a Fire Support base - usually a couple of Tactical Squads supported by a Rhino or Razorback each, and backed up a trio of vehicles whose designation is to suppress the enemies resistance – the favoured vehicle is the Vindicator, but Predator Destructors and Whirlwind’s are used if they aren’t available.

Scouts in the Chapter aren’t used as Reconnaissance – only the more experienced scouts who choose to stay as one even after becoming an initiate are trusted in this role. The Scout Initiates are permanently seconded to the Fifth Company, and carry all the weaponry they require to fight and all the equipment required to observe on their monstrous bikes. Instead, Scout Neophytes take to battle on overwatch duty, armed with Sniper Rifles. Their primary target is command units and heavy weaponry. The Phobos pattern Needle Rifle is the weapon of choice for the Tenth Company. At 0.75 Calibre, the rifle is capable of firing the standard Bolter rounds, although this is not advised. Unlike the flechette needle round that is the weapons standard ammunition, the bolter round leaves a small tracer – an alert foe can track the origin of the shot – especially if the Sniper fails to move after taking a shot. Instead, if on a prolonged deployment, or the threat of armour may be present, the “Stalker” pattern Bolter Rounds are used. A reduction in the rounds warhead size allows it to work akin to a small ramjet engine, and the only sign of its passing is a sub-audible whine, which for safety reasons to the chapter, is at the low extreme of their range, should the weapon be lost.

This potent weapon allows the Scout Neophyte to sit tight in cover while raining down fire killing the enemy command structure indiscriminately. With cloaks treated in a by-product of polymorphine, the drug that Assassins of the Callidus Temple use to change their appearance to suit their target, a Scout Trained in its use can hide in plain sight, appearing as a wind-blown rock in the desert, a mound of grass, or even in a pool of water.

The Eight Company and the First Company take to battle regularly. These two companies are the chapters Assault specialists. Marines in the 8th Company are prospective members to join the First Company, and upon achieving veteran status, have the option to continue training to use Tactical Dreadnought Armour, or join as the planetstrike assault specialists. If they choose to continue training for Terminator Armour, then they return to the Eighth Company, if the Master of the Fleet agrees with the appointment, where they lead boarding parties and counter-boarding attacks. If they stay in the First Company as Planetstrike Specialists, then they practise extreme drops deep into enemy terrain, as HAHS and HALS (High Altitude High Start) and (High Altitude Low Start) insertions, where they can stealthily assault enemy rear-echelons, or drop straight into battle to coincide with friendly drop pod assaults, Thunderhawk and Land Speeder Strafing runs, and coalition forces artillery strikes.

Sternguard Ranged Veterans are Sergeants who were requested to join the Deathwatch. After the Chapters experience cleansing their homeworld of the Orks of Waaagh! Grugakh, several Inquisitors of the Ordo Xenos have requested that veterans of the conflict to join their Kill Teams. Upon leaving their secondment, the newly formed Sternguard Squads took their new skills back to the Umbral Seneschal’s. The most senior members of these squads are on a permanent secondment to the Tenth Company, where their expertise, a collective term of service for the ten marines reaching over two millennia is used to teach the new recruits.

The Ninth Company being the unofficial reserve company provides much of the technological support for the chapter. Here is where the Chapters artificers and Techmarines are fully attached to. Armed with the new “Thunderfire” Cannons, they are attached to a company according to need. It is here where much of those in the Tenth Company who showed an affinity with long ranged weaponry and technology are assigned to – the greatest of them become Techmarines, while the others join the Devastator Squads. While they do not have the experience that Devastators in the Battle Companies have, they receive more tuition, and until the time comes for them to be called out to a Battle Company (usually acting as a replacement for a dead or promoted Heavy Weapon Specialist in a Tactical or Devastator Squad), they spend their days learning the rituals to appease the machine spirits or practising weapon drills. In the galactic standard twenty four hour day, a marine has only four hours of that in rest, and a further four in mediation or study. Taking around an hour to eat each day that leaves of fifteen hours to train on the range.

After the initial planetfall has taken place, the chapter’s tactics evolve depending on the warzone. Under the watchful eyes of the Master of the Fleet, the battlefield will be consolidated, before either mounting up in their vehicles, or should the need arise, the Master of the Fleet will allow the release of his remaining Thunderhawks and Transporters. In under an hour, an entire chapter’s worth of marines and their armoured support can have secured a battlefield, and be prepared to strike anywhere else on a planet.
On first appearance, the Umbral Seneschal Chapter is set out in accordance with the Codex Astartes, but closer inspection shows an alternative layout. The first notable divergence is the inclusion of Librarians in a company rather than in a centralised Librarium. The Epistolary, or Chief Librarian of the Chapter, is the First Companies Librarian, while the chosen successor is always taken from the Eighth Company. Although the Eighth Company is the Chapter’s Assault Company, it is almost permanently Fleet Based, and the expertise gained through their time during transit in the warp is thought to strengthen the mind of the prospective Epistolary – or weed out the final weakness before they take up their role as a chief advisor to the entire chapter.

While each Company has won many a battle honour, and even the presence of but a single company can turn the tide of a battle, the Umbral Seneschal’s place specific focus on three companies – the First, Eight, and Tenth Companies. The Tenth Company, like the Codex Astartes, is the Scout Company. However, as the future of the Chapter relies purely on the recruits, special attention is paid to their needs. The Reclusiarch, the Chief Chaplain is permanently attached to the Tenth Company. The Chaplain of the First Company is not the most senior Chaplain in the Chapter. Instead, he is the most martially skilled member of the Reclusiasm, but there exists one requirement before they may take up this prestigious position – they must have died in the duty of the chapter. If their faith is deemed strong enough to let them go through the painful rebirth as a Dreadnought, then they are elevated to the rank of First Company Chaplain.

The First Company is the chapter’s Veteran Company. A member of this company must have fought in over a hundred missions. This mandate has been a requirement since the dawn of the Chapter. Indeed, the veteran marines from the White Scars who formed the first marines of the Umbral Seneschal’s lost all their rank, instead being “demoted” to a battle brother. The Chapter has forty four suits of Tactical Dreadnought armour. Crafted by Master Artisans on Mars, and formerly owned by the White Scars chapter. Twenty two of these suits are issued to the first company – the Captain, the Epistolary, and forty of the chapter’s best close quarter’s combatants. The remaining two suits are given to the Master of the Fleet and the Reclusiarch. Those marines wearing “Terminator” Armour are deployed in five man squads, and each one has their own dedicated Land Raider Transport, which in turn have their own dedicated Thunderhawk Transporter.

The Chapter Master is autonomous from the companies – instead, he and his Honour Guard attach themselves to a company when going in theatre. The successor of the Chapter Master has been exclusively chosen from the Master of the Fleet at the time of the death of the former Chapter Master, although there is nothing in the Chapter traditions that states that the succession must be so. However, it is thought that due to the Chapters reliance on planet fall tactics into a warzone leads to the Master of the Fleet being the most obvious choice – he has, after all, fought in every company and in almost every conceivable type of warfare and lived to learn from it, and has knowledge of how every arm within the Chapter fights.

When dedicating themselves to a warzone, the Chapter doesn’t fight purely on the say-so of the Captain or Chapter Master. Instead, if time permits, the Chapter Master and Companies eligible to partake in the operation are allowed a vote. Eligible to participate usually means that the company is at a fighting capability required to fulfil the predicted mission. This can vary from needing but a single squad, to requiring the full might of several companies, as was seen during the Denkari Planetfall against Waaagh! Grugakh. Every neophyte or initiate of the Chapter capable of fighting as part of the proposed expedition is allowed a vote.

Usually, this results in the Tenth Company without exception voting for the operation to go ahead, while more veteran companies usually vote depending according to the necessity of the campaign and what it could do to the Chapter. The vote is run initially on a squad by squad basis, the Sergeant having a deciding vote in case of an undecided result. Any views deemed pertinent the Sergeant then takes into council with the company commander, who then has a deciding vote, usually influenced by his own experiences, and views brought to the council by the squad leaders. The Captains then take the views of their companies to the Chapter Master, who alone in the Chapter has the ability to veto a decision, and he will not do so lightly – only after the consultation of the Emperors Tarot will this be done, as it calls into question every single member of the chapter.

There is virtually no political manoeuvring – the position of Chapter Master is decided only by valour in battle and then only on the collective voice decided in much the same way. This way, no one man has the ability to prematurely halt the Chapter – this is purely the reserve of the Chapter Master.

The Second, Third and Fourth companies are the normal battle companies of the chapter. At full strength, they have sixty men formed into “Tactical” Squads, while the remaining forty marines form the companies “Assault” and “Devastator” squads. The number is never set – it is merely the more veteran members of the company who have not yet transferred to either the First, Eighth, or Tenth companies, and regularly changes. The requirement for the battle companies to be almost entirely self-reliant means that the captains prefer to have an equal combination of dedicated heavy weapons and close quarter combatants.

The Fifth Company is a reconnaissance company – veteran scouts and marines who were highly skilled at reconnaissance during their time in the battle companies. The entire company is trained in the use of bikes or attack bikes. It is a rare occasion when the Fifth Company is sent on an operation alone – instead, if the campaign doesn’t call for the entire company to be deployed, individual squads are attached to a battle company.

The Sixth and Seventh Companies are known as the reserve companies, in accordance with the Codex Astartes. However, the Umbral Seneschal’s Sixth and Seventh Companies only exist nominally.

The men of these companies are attached permanently to a company depending on where they are most required with armoured vehicles, and have to go through the relevant training according to that company’s modus operandi. For example, the Umbral Seneschal’s own twelve Land Raiders of different variants, of which all but one is assigned on a permanent basis to the First Company. Eight of these eleven are transports for Terminator armoured brothers. To be given the honour of commanding such a Land Raider, the marines must fulfil the requirements to join the First Company, and also have completed training in Terminator Armour. It’s thought that the integral knowledge gained during this time will let the tank commanders know the tactics inside out, rather than just learning them. The most accomplished tank commanders in the chapter have the right to join the Chapter Master’s Honour Guard. It is they who take the Chapter Master into battle. The rest of the first company takes to battle in Razorback Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Due to the nature of their operations, the veterans of the first company not yet ready to fight with their terminator armoured brethren also fight in small five men teams, fighting from their Razorbacks.​

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Pretty good so far mate, look forward to an update :victory:
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