|Deathwatch | Published 19 March 2010|
Greetings Deathwatch fans!
Just thinking of the term “Space Marine Chapter” brings to mind a host of images, from the colonnaded halls of Macragge (for the Ultramarines) to the cavernous depths of the Rock (for the Dark Angels) to serried ranks of Adeptus Astartes preparing for battle and chanting a prayer to their Primarch. During the development of Deathwatch, I felt it very important to get all the details right for the Space Marine Chapters—it would be vital to make sure the reader understood just how important the Chapter’s history, traditions, beliefs, and gene-seed are to each Battle-Brother who wears that Chapter’s heraldry.
The Chapter looms large in the life of all Space Marines. In the Deathwatch, it is a unique situation where you have several Space Marines working together who are all from quite different Chapters, each of whom is used to going about things in some very different ways!
One of my greatest resources for working with the deep and complex lore of Space Marines is Games Workshop. Getting a chance to ask questions and have involved discussions about all things Space Marine with the very people who created them made an incredible impact on the development of Deathwatch.
In fact, I am pleased to present a special bonus for this week’s designer diary, straight from the pen of Alan Merrett, Head of Intellectual Property for Games Workshop:
Genesis of the Space Marines
Sometime in 1985 (in the summer I think) Citadel Miniatures (the miniatures branch of Games Workshop) released a curious science-fiction warrior under the title ’LE2 Imperial Space Marine’ with the intention of ‘testing’ the market for a subject that wasn’t a traditional fantasy model. Fantasy absolutely dominated the world of hobby gaming and miniature figures in the early 80’s, science-fiction games and miniatures rated a poor second at best. The model was unencumbered by any fictional narrative or game rules – it was just a stand-alone white metal model. We were therefore understandably cautious about the impact LE2 would have and our expectations for it were quite modest. These expectations were quickly surpassed by the unprecedented demand we faced for the model when we released it. In fact so popular did it prove that we immediately set about commissioning a complete set of ‘Space Marines’ – which lead to August 1986 and the release of Citadel’s ‘C100 Imperial Marines’. Remember this was more than a year before the release of ‘Warhammer 40,000 – Rogue Trader’.
The release of that seminal product was accompanied by the first Space Marine plastic miniatures (the ultra-famous boxed set RTB01 designed by Jes Goodwin and Aly Morrison) and firmly cemented the Space Marines at the heart of the human struggle to survive in the dystopian war-torn universe of the far future. It is a position they have been unwont to relinquish every since.
It is difficult to talk about Space Marines without referencing the venerable and famous Ultramarines. This heroic Chapter has its home in the realm of Ultramar, an empire of beautiful and prosperous worlds acting as a bulwark on the Eastern Fringe of the Imperium. The Ultramarines are noble and devoted warriors who have turned back the enemies of the Emperor time and again over the course of their much-honoured history. Here are some words from the talented pen of Andy Hoare about these Space Marines and their role in the Deathwatch:
“We follow in the footsteps of Guilliman. As it is written in the Codex, so shall it be.”
–Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines
Of all the thousand and more Space Marine Chapters, it is the blue-clad Ultramarines that, in the mind of the countless billions of the Emperor’s subjects, personify everything that the Adeptus Astartes stands for. The Ultramarines and their many successor Chapters have stood at the very forefront of the war against the traitor, the alien, and the fiend since the very foundation of the Imperium. Across the domains of the Emperor, the Ultramarines are recognised as heroic, virtuous, and noble defenders of Humanity, their deeds celebrated in devotional works the length and breadth of the galaxy.
Even amongst the Space Marine Chapters themselves, the Ultramarines occupy a position of special honour. The gene-seed from which the original Ultramarines Legion was founded is considered the purest, and it is estimated that some two-thirds of Chapters share their inheritance, being either direct successors or created from tithed Ultramarines genetic material. This shared inheritance often ensures that when the Ultramarines go to war, they are supported by many other Chapters, and that when Space Marine commanders gather to consider common strategy, the counsel of the Ultramarines is greatly valued. Often, the presence of even a small number of Ultramarines units in a larger military undertaking will ensure the participation of many more Chapters, so highly are the sons of Roboute Guilliman held in their brothers’ esteem.
In all of their duties, from battle to study, the Ultramarines are thorough, analytical, and attentive to every detail. They are slow to anger and rarely make a rash decision. By constant recourse to the articles of faith enshrined within the Codex Astartes, the Ultramarines are able to face any eventuality with well-practised battle drills and established doctrine.
In their dealings with Battle-Brothers from other Chapters, Ultramarines often fulfil the role of facilitator and peacemaker. While the Battle-Brothers of some Chapters display extremes of character, from hotheaded to taciturn, the Ultramarines are balanced in their approach, and often able to broker agreements between wildly differing points of view. This is evidenced in the fact that a high proportion of Deathwatch leaders are drawn from the Ultramarines and their successors, a fact that has more to do with their outlook and character than it does with their numerical superiority.
Deathwatch is a roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of the bio-engineered super-soldiers known as Space Marines. United with their battle-brothers, players will complete extraordinary missions involving some of the greatest heroes and deadliest opponents the Warhammer 40,000 universe has to offer.
I hope we will have more vehicles in that games.
Land raiders, land speeders, thunderhawk, predator tanks, rhinos, Whirlwind, Razorback, bikes , space marine imperial starship, pods and the like.
And what about new aliens and monsters too ?
I think we don't care about what chapters are in the deathwatch, since we already know all the most popular Space Marines chapters.
We need more guns.
More aliens !
More monsters !
Wait the Ultramarines are in this? WOAH I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!! Next thing you are going to tell me the Blood Angels or the Black Templars are going to be in it as well!! WOW!!
How about less useless fluff telling us about how the most popular space marine chapters are going to be included and more about how Space Marines and the Death watch work? Maybe even some weapons info or villains?
Wow... I expected a whole lot more 'flam flame' and a whole lot less agreeing.
LETE's more than likely right, though - we're... what - 5 months from release? DW has most likely already been added to the print queue.
Ultramarines -are- pretty damned vanilla; on the flipside, using them as the "base" for so many other Chapters makes it easy to have a unique Chapter and not have to beg people to let you play with some off-the-wall rules. After all, it's all about game-balance.
Liam, I grew up with SPace Wolves when they were the only chapter that could pack an Assault cannon, Cyclone Missile Launcher and power fist/weapon on their terminators; the guys I used to play with (myself included) hated that guy's army almost as much as we hated our normal host's IG Armoured Fist in second edition.
As for the Howling Griffons, or the Blood Ravens, I wouldn't mind at all - Cover the "Big Four" (thank you, Sunday!) and then with luck we get one or two additional from latter Foundings.
I'm really excited about this; About half the folks I'd be running a game for all asked if they could play Space Marines (and one wanted to play a Catachan....).
I would expect the "big chapters" to dominate the list out of the main book. My hope is that the focus of the game being on Space Marines will prompt regular sourcebook support (unlike RT, for instance), which means ample opportunities to introduce new chapters on a regular basis. I would love some Howling Griffon action, personally, but I'm probably the only one. :)
I think from a players prospective just for inner team conflict, it would be quiet humorous to have a Black Templar and a Blood Raven Librarian, or any chapters Librarian, but then again, that is just my twisted sense of humor. Also, if you went with the fluff, the Dark Angels would be limited to your standard Marines, the 1st and 2nd Companies to preoccupied with the hunt for their Fallen Brethren. Though it would also be interesting to see if a Dark Angel would abandon the team or attempt to kill them if a Fallen was somehow involved in their current assignment, pending he was enlightened to that secret of his chapter.
I really liked the good 'ol Ultramarines during the days of the original Rogue Trader game, and even still keep a few squads of RTB01 Space Marines painted in the Ultramarines colour scheme. Never played them in later editions of the tabletop game though, and nowadays most parts of their extended fluff rather bore me. That being said I'm still looking forward to see how the chapter's being integrated and represented in the Deathwatch RPG.
I'll prolly only use DW as a 'backup game' to DH to play out parts of missions where mere acolytes wouldn't cut it, but will otherwise stick to the more investigative and cthulhu-esque style of DH.
I am just tired of contradictions... It seems Games Workshop is full of them.
And it's FALSE to pretend that the Deathwatch is made of Space Marines of ALL chapters.
Dark Angels were never supposed to be in the Deathwatch.
It's my favorite chapter and it's the one i play on the tabletop wargame but the question is:
Why so much contradictions , all the time ?
I think its a given that they have to include the obligatory big 4.....space wolves, dark angels, blood angels, and ultramarines. I too would like to see some of the more obscure chapters represented but the lead in campaign book has to cover the standards. The fringe chapters will be unveiled as the game develops.
The big 4 account for much of 40k's figurine sales. If they weren't translated to the rpg it would be an injustice.
I think the blood ravens should show up because theres a ton of history behind them due to there role in every single 40k video game.
other then that there should be some small obscure chapters.
Ultramarines are so lame. Maybe because their geneseed is 'pure'. I don't no anyone who actually plays them or even likes them...
Some people say that Ultramarines are the "vanilla" Space Marines. Paradoxically, their "purity" (however you define it) makes them stand out in the crowd of Chapters featuring "deviations" as the norm. :)