That’s right another competition winner announced. God I’m good to you lot!
There were some really good entries, each with their own unique take on what it means to be a Space Marine. Unfortunately there can only be one winner and as it goes to Chris Spurgeon, a former Shell Case Shorts winner, for his outstanding background to the Rooks Space Marine chapter. Have a read and I think you’ll agree that Chris has a real talent for background.
Chris will be receiving a Space Marine Captain model painted by Hugo from Ichiban Painting and his background illuminated and printed our all nice and shiny.
Thank you again to everyone who entered, the entries really were of an exceptional standard so I’ll try to run others so make sure you enter.
The Chapter of the Rooks were founded in the wake of the infamous ‘Black Ledger’ incident. This incident began with an Inquisitorial investigation of contraband trading in the Hellespont sector and ended in the Sky Lords Space Marine chapter being unleashed against the forces of two distinct Rogue Trader clans and the disgrace and execution of over two thousand senior administratum, ministorum and munitorium officials as well – most scandalously of all – as the Chapter Master of the Battle Dogs Astartes chapter for corruption, conspiracy and piracy.
With a full reorganisation of the sector’s defensive arrangements required and the loss of the Battle Dogs to the two century penitent crusade demanded of them it was judged that a new Space Marine chapter should be founded so as to reinforce the security of the sector and serve as a timely reminder of the power of the Emperor’s wrath.
The Rooks are a Chapter descended from the gene line of the Lion, though ever since their founding, the chapter’s name and heraldry – so distinct from that of the other Chapters amongst the Unforgiven – have meant that outsiders have seldom correctly guessed their lineage and have erroneously mistaken them for decedents of Corax or another of the Emperor’s Primarchs. Knowing that the sons of the Lion frequently enjoy an ill reputation amongst other Imperial forces, the Rooks have at time exploited this misapprehension for their own ends.
The first Chapter Master of the Rooks was Simeon Brakespar, formerly Tenth Captain and Master of Recruits of the Angels of Absolution chapter. Simeon was assisted in his task by a sizeable coterie of inner circle veterans, apothecaries, chaplains and librarians drawn from his own chapter, to help ensure the spiritual traditions of the Lion, as of the Astartes as a whole were strongly inculcated in a chapter responsible for the wardenship of a strategically significant home world and a potentially troublesome sector. The exact origin of the chapter’s name is lost to Imperial history. Some believe it to be a reference to the ever watchful birds of ill omen that roost in the eaves of the great citadels of Bastion, others argue it was a reference the citadels themselves and Bastion’s status as a fortress world. Others argue that Brakespar, a keen and gifted player of the popular Imperial game ‘Regicide’, was inspired by his love of the game and his fondness for tactics utilising the rook playing piece.
After establishing his headquarters in the Citadel of the Aquila on Bastion, Simeon threw himself into the twin tasks of building his new chapter and finding a suitable theatre of war where they could be blooded. So it was that the first battle-brothers of the Rooks saw their first action alongside the Guardians of the Covenant aboard the space hulk Scion of Lamentation, purging the nest of genestealers that lurked on board.
This was the first of many actions aboard space hulks by the forces of the Rooks, which gained them a reputation for success and expertise in this particular theatre of war that was impressive for such a relatively young chapter. Their success, culminated in a Mechanicum-sponsored expedition aboard the hulk Herald of Perfidy, which resulted in the recovery of a hoard of Great Crusade vintage arms and armour, including a large number of suits of Tartaros-pattern Terminator armour and even a number of Comtemptor-pattern dreadnought chassis that became the most prized possessions of the Rooks’ first company. The Rooks also notoriously ventured aboard the hulk Voice of Mendacity when it emerged from the Immaterium within the Helespont sector, though a seal placed on the mission records by the Inquisitor Lords of the Ordo Malleus who commissioned the expedition prevents the full details of what took place being known by the Imperium as a whole…
The Rooks however are not deployed solely to clear space hulks. They also served with distinction alongside the Frost Giants, Brazen Angels and Storm Crows at the siege of St Sebastian Hive. The Rooks were instrumental in defeating one of the most aggressive Ork assaults, by employing a number of Terminator squads via teleport to break up the cohesion of the horde, stalling the advance before the guns of the defenders – including the Rooks’ own Ninth Company. Likewise, their intervention in the battle of the Basalt Plateau on Helebore was all that saved the War Drakes Chapter from annihilation at the hands of the Black Legion – though with their typical stubbornness the War Drakes have ever after refused to admit they needed rescuing.
At present, the majority of the chapter is committed to a campaign against the Orks of the Rubio Expanse alongside the Nighthawk and Sky Lord chapters.
The Rooks home world is the fortress world of Bastion. The Bastion system lies at a convergence of seven major warp navigation routes through the Hellespont sector and as such was heavily fortified from the day of its settlement to ensure Imperial control of the system, and by extension those vital arterial routes through warpspace. Bastion has traditionally been ruled by the descendants of the officer corps of the Corinthian 11th Heavy Infantry, the regiment granted settlement rights on the world after playing a vital role in the original campaign to win the world for the Emperor at the dawn of the Age of the Imperium.
Bastion was chosen as the homeworld of the Rooks as it had remained an oasis of probity and duty despite the widespread corruption, embezzlement and mismanagement that had been exposed in the Black Ledger. Imperial Guard regiments from Bastion had played a part in the purging of corrupt or suborned planetary defence forces and trader militias loyal to the syndicates that has spread their insidious plutocracy throughout the Hellespont sector. In addition, Bastion’s location made it strategically ideal for deploying fast response forces throughout the sector to enforce the Emperor’s will. As an efficient military state, and an Imperial Guard recruiting world of some note, Bastion also had the logistical capacity to expedite the raising and maintenance of a Space Marine chapter.
Despite the founding of the Rooks on Bastion, the governance of the world remains largely unchanged. Though Brakespar could have installed himself as planetary overlord, as the masters of many chapters have over their recruiting world, he declined to do so, citing the maxim of the Primarch Rogal Dorn “I want recruits, not vassals”. Brakespar’s decision ensured that the wheels of Bastion’s government continued to turn without incident or interruption, but also that neither he nor his senior officers would be distracted from the business of prosecuting the Emperor’s wars. Thus Bastion continues to be governed by its ancient senate, ruling from Corinthian Hall in the capital city of Augusta. Although in truth, few issues come before the Senate which do not require them to consider the views of the Chapter Council, expressed through their intermediaries stationed within the Chapters headquarters.
The chapter make their home in the network of ten mighty citadels that ring Bastion’s equator. These citadels were constructed using technology and architectural knowledge since lost to the Imperium and each is was a masterpiece of the siege engineer’s trade, combined sturdy defences with an imposing aesthetic in a manner that the modern Imperium is incapable of reproducing. Each company of the chapter is assigned to one of the citadels. For example, the First Company are based within the Citadel of the Lion, the Second within the Citadel of the Angel and the Devastator squads of the Ninth in the Citadel of the Gorgon. The Citadel of the Wolf, home to the Assault Marines of the Eighth Company is traditionally considered a place of bad luck within chapter folklore and the Eighth Company enjoy a – somewhat unjustified – reputation of being amongst the less intellectually and tactically enlightened of the Chapter’s battle brothers. The Chapter headquarters is housed within the Citadel of the Aquilla, which also houses the tenth company and the great facilities wherein an Astartes of the Rooks is created. In older days, the Citadel of the Aquila, located at the northernmost edge of the capital city of Augusta, was the overall headquarters of the planetary defence forces and mustering point for Bastions tithes of recruits for the Imperial Guard. Thus this ancient fortress continues to be the beating heart of both this world’s defence and its service to the Emperor.
The facilities used by the chapter’s Interrogator Chaplains however are located in the remote polar outpost officially designated QQ7743, but known within the chapter as ‘The Vault’.
The defence forces of Bastion are well-drilled and rigorously maintained and supported by a citizen militia that includes a local ‘Whiteshield’ corps in which service is compulsory for all native youth. As part of their induction, the local Whiteshields are rigorously screened to identify potential aspirants for the Rooks, with promising candidates being subjected to a battery of exacting tests of both mind and body to assess their worthiness. Exemplary candidates must pass the final test – a test of character known as the ‘Bridge of Fools’ before they are judged worthy of entering the service of the Emperor as one of the Rooks. Amongst the many tests potential candidates undergo, all candidates are required to play a game of Regicide against one of the cadre of officers overseeing each induction. Aspirants are not generally expected to win the game (nor indeed to know the rules for though enthusiasm for the game is widespread on Bastion, it is by no means universal) but it provides useful insight into the aspirant’s character, not least how they react to pressure and the unexpected.
BELIEFS AND TRADITIONS
The beliefs of the Rooks have been shaped by their homeworld, but also by their close relationship with the Angels of Absolution and the Guardians of the Covenant, two Chapters they fought closely alongside during their formative years following the founding. Over the centuries of their service, the Chapter has developed their own particular take on the issue of the Hunt for the Fallen and the culpability of Astartes serving in the 41st millennium for the sins of their forebears ten millennia previously.
Like their direct ancestor chapter, the Angels of Absolution, the Rooks reject the notion that they are in any way tainted by the treason of the Fallen Angels, but accept the importance of hunting down those Fallen who escaped the destruction of Caliban. However, while the majority of the Unforgiven chapters consider the hunt for the fallen their highest priority and will even break off from major campaigns regardless of the consequences for their Imperial allies, such behaviour is anathema to the Rooks. This clash of attitudes has led to increasing friction between the Rooks and the other Chapters of the Unforgiven, especially with the Angels of Redemption and the Angels of Vengeance, who pursue the hunt for the Fallen with the greatest zeal and aggression. On one occasion the Rooks and the Angels of Redemption almost came to blows over this issue, when the Rooks refused to join the other chapter in a withdrawal from the early stages of the siege of St Sebastian’ s hive. The Angels of Redemption however were forced to relent and departed without further trouble when it became clear that violence would only draw unwelcome attention. While the Rooks decision earned them the enduring enmity and contempt of the Angels of Redemption it earned them the gratitude and friendship of the Storm Crows, Brazen Angels and Frost Giants.
On many occasions, at convocations of the Grand Masters of the Unforgiven chapters, debate has fiercely raged over the attitude of the Rooks and successive Grand Masters of the Chapter have defended their position with passionate oratory, arguing that to abandon the defence of the Imperium to pursue their own agenda is to compound the treachery of the Fallen Angels and to neglect their duty to the Emperor and his Imperium. More militant chapters amongst the Unforgiven have called for sanctions against the Rooks, but these voices are balanced by others furiously resisting the suggestion. Successive Supreme Grand Masters of the Dark Angels chapter itself have maintained a carefully nuanced silence on this issue and strived to maintain balance between the opposing camps, recognising that allowing this conflict to spiral out of control could lead to disaster for the Unforgiven as a whole. The Rooks’ critics argue that their conduct puts the future of all the Unforgiven at risk, but the Rooks counter that allowing themselves to become figures of suspicion and distrust throughout the Imperium is just as much of a risk. Furthermore, the some amongst the Rooks have even argued that it is better to accept the risk of disgrace and destruction than to betray the mission entrusted to the Space Marines to protect the Emperor’s realm and people.
This is not to say that the Rooks do not actively pursue the Fallen when able, merely that they will not compromise a mission or abandon an ally in need to do so. To compensate for this policy, the Rooks a refrain from deploying their full Second Company to any warzone save in circumstances of dire need, allowing some units to remain as a mobile, fast responding reserve in case any rumours of one of the Fallen emerge. The Second Company are equipped with the Chapter’s fastest ships to enable them to rapidly respond to any clue leading to the whereabouts of their quarry.
The Rooks follow the Codex Astartes, save where the traditions of the Dark Angels and their successors have taken precedence. Significantly, the Rooks utilise the system of squad and company markings set out within the Codex, rather than the system traditionally used by the Unforgiven. This fact has contributed to the frequency with which the Rooks are misidentified as descendants of another geneline. As is traditional amongst the Unforgiven, the First and Second companies are specialist formations. Members of the Second Company serve as elite bike squads and land speeder squadrons, and are distinguished by red helmet markings, and the veteran warriors of the First Company by white. The First Company are notable for making heavy use of the rare Tartaros-pattern tactical dreadnought armour, which the Rooks have bartered from the Adeptus Mechanicus in exchange for supporting a number of expeditions to lost worlds or aboard space hulks in search of lost relics of ancient archeotech. the relative rarity of this pattern of armour and the difficulty maintaining and repairing it means that on occasion there are insufficient suits to equip the entire company and remaining squads are deployed in suits of lovingly preserved and maintained suits of mark IV power armour and equipped in a manner similar to the Sternguard Veteran squad of other chapters.
The Chapter is watched over by an inner circle, formerly known as the Brotherhood of the Lion, but informally referred to as the ‘Silent Order’ due to one of the ritual tests of worthiness all potential members must take. For one year, a would-be-member of the Brotherhood must take a vow of silence to prove their ability to remain silent on matters of key importance. Only members of the inner circle wear the imperial aquila upon the breastplate of their power armour. Ranks and progression within the Brotherhood is symbolised by a system of coloured belts worn with a brother’s robes. Much of the chapter’s iconography and battle-cant is derived from the imagery, history and language of the game of Regicide.
The commander of each company is known as the ‘Castellan’, an ancient term derived for the commander of a castle, and applied to these senior commanders as they each command the citadel in which their company is housed. In the case of the Citadel of the Aquila, which houses the not only the Tenth Company but also the Headquarters of the Chapter and the household of the Grand Master, the Castellan defers to the Grand Master when he is on Bastion. The most senior Veteran Sergeant in each company is known as the Seneschal, reflecting his position as the Castellan’s right hand man.
The Rooks are inheritors of the doctrines of the Lion and the original Dark Angels Legion. However their history has caused them to develop a particular specialism for conducting firefights at close quarters and cramped conditions such as when boarding space hulks and other craft or amidst the dense rubble of heavy cityfighting. The Rooks share their forebears’ stubborn unwillingness to abandon a firing position and frequently employ ‘hammer and anvil’ tactics, involving a heavily armed and armoured static formation working in concert with one or more fast mobile units. As the Rooks prefer to keep their Second Company in reserve, they make greater use of mobile elements drawn from the reserve companies, jump troops, and of gunships drawn from the Chapter’s armoury to provide the mobile elements.
The chapter makes extensive use of dreadnoughts to provide fire support in preference for other armoured vehicles due to their ability to operate more easily in cramped conditions and the relative ease of deploying them by drop pod or gunship. Similarly, the Rooks maintain large batteries of Thunderfire Cannon, Tarantulas and Rapiers to provide themselves with heavy weapon support in situations where Predators and Land Raiders cannot be counted upon and the chapter’s Devastator squads are overstretched.
The Rooks are descendants of the Dark Angels gene line. Despite the reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to sanction the creation of more successors to the Dark Angels this geneline has survived without degrading or mutating since the time of the Emperor. Like many of the Unforgiven the Rooks are scrupulously monitored for any signs of genetic deviancy but thus far the geneseed remains untainted.
The people of Bastion have never shown any evidence of being prone to mutation, in particular Bastion provides a statistically below average level of psychic mutation and as such the Rooks have a smaller number of Librarians than is considered normal for a Space Marine chapter.
“For the honour of the Lion” and “In the Lion’s name” are common warcries amongst the chapter. However the Rooks frequently fight in environments where warcries would represent a potentially fatal risk of giving away their position. Where circumstances allow however, the Rooks fall upon their enemies invoking their Primarch to watch over them and mark their deeds.