As part of the general community effort to update Chaos Marines, here are redone CSM bigshots befitting mortal princes of the Ruinous Powers.
Across gaming forums and hobby clubs, the relatively weak treatment some factions have been getting from Games Workshop has manifested in a veritable wave of house rules, fan-made codexes and such. I’ve seen more alternate rules for Orks, Dark Eldar and Chaos Marines in the last month than I have in the previous 3 years put together (For some reason, I don’t see as many Tyranid projects…). Except this time, I decided to go for it myself, together with a small group of hobby veterans. Some have played CSM for ages, others play other factions but like the challenge of designing/fixing a faction. The part that landed on my lap was special Characters, Marks and Psychic Powers.
Before we get to profiles, let’s talk a bit about the why’s and how’s of the changes. I tried to incorporate elements from the Black Library books, some 30k rules and ideas, and most importantly, bring the general baseline to that of loyalist Chapter Masters instead of Captains. These guys have been leading thousands of Astartes and allied forces for longer than we have had written language, in the most dog-eat-dog, dangerous environment imaginable. It stands to reason they’d be on par with a 400-year-old Chapter Master, at the very least. I also tried to give most of them a few drawbacks, but ones that add nuance instead of just jinxing them for no reason (Hello, Obliterators). I also lowered the Leadership of some of them to a 9 because let’s face it, not all of them are meant to be inspiring leaders; their role is to crush the opposition.
Gearing up these guys is also tricky if you want to make sense. I mean, you’re telling me that Huron Blackheart, after hundreds of years as the top dog of a sector-wide empire, with thousands of traitor marines, terminators, Dark Mechanicum tech, sorcerers and warpsmiths at his beck and call, never managed to find anything better than bog-standard power armor? Or loot a relic axe from enemies (Hell, he sacked an Astartes homeworld fortress not that long ago!)? But if you keep thinking that way, you end up with everyone wearing terminator/artificer plate and with master-crafted everything, and that’s boring. I buffed stuff here and there, but in the end the concern was playability and point cost, not common sense. And given the amount of Strength D and AP 2 stuff at initiative in the new meta, worrying too much about armor saves might be a moot point.
So without further ado, let’s have the stats. Read them, test them, change them, ignore them, use them. It was fun to write.
ABADDON The Despoiler (280)
“The real war. The Long War. Not a petty rebellion swallowed by Horus’ pride and his hunger for the Terran Throne. A war for the future of mankind. Horus would have sold the species to the Pantheon for a chance to sit on the Golden Throne for a single heartbeat. We cannot allow ourselves to be used the way he was. The Powers exist and we cannot pretend otherwise, but nor can we allow a sacred duty to devolve into weakness, as Horus did.”
-Talon of Horus, Aaron Dembsky-Bowden
Wargear: Cataphracti Terminator Armor, Mark of Chaos Ascendant, Talon of Horus, Frag Grenades, Drach’nyen
Special Rules: Fearless, Champion of Chaos, Eternal Warrior, Veteran of the Long War.
Mark of Chaos Ascendant: Abaddon counts as possessing all marks of chaos.
Warmaster of the Long War: Ezekyle Abbadon is a veteran of ten millenia of total war to spread the stain of Chaos across the galaxy. He must always be Warlord of your army if included. At the start of each game, before deployment, D3 non-vehicle units can gain one of the following traits: Favored Enemy (Any), Stealth, Tank Hunter. No trait can be given to more than one unit. If Abbadon is removed from play, the traits are lost. In addition, whenever Abaddon is removed from play, the opposing player receives an extra VP.
Victory at All Costs: Once per game, at the start of his Movement Phase, the player can choose any one unit to receive the Objective Secured USR. This lasts until the end of the turn.
Chtonian Blade Style: Abaddon is able to split his natural attacks (those granted by his Attacks stat) between both of his weapons, but loses the +1 attack granted by dual weapons when doing so. The player must declare how many attacks are being made with each weapon before the dice are rolled.
Talon of Horus
Combi-Bolter: Range 24‘, S5, AP4. Rapid Fire, Twin-linked.
Talon: S+1, AP3; Shred, Armorbane, -1WS and S if target suffer unsaved wounds, stacks for each wound. Grants Hatred to Blood Angel units engaged in CC.
Sx2, AP 2; Daemon Weapon, Reality Piercer (can spend the extra attacks from Daemon Weapon to reduce enemy Invulnerable saves; each 2 attack reduces saves by 1 for that fight Sub-phase).
Commentary: Abby is hard to work with. You need something that will give pause to the biggest heavyweights in the setting, but still need a bit of planning to use. I added some tactical boons to let him help the army and represent both his Justaerin tactics and focus on winning over serving the gods. At the same time, tried to represent what a warchief who has spent millenia on the frontlines taking on enemy heroes and collecting artifacts would be like. Balancing out both the Talon and Drach’nyen is really tricky: make one too strong, and there’s no reason to use the other. Make both weak to work together, and they end up being worse that basic crap any Lord or Captain totes around. So I chose to make the Talon more reliable anti-vehicle and a debuff for larger enemies, and the sword a strong weapon that can possibly break any defense.
KHARN the Betrayer (210)
“OUR TURN!!!” – Kharn at the Battle of Armatura (Betrayer, Aaron Demski-Bowden)
Wargear: Artificer Armor, Aura of Dark Glory, Frag Grenades, Master-crafted plasma pistol, Gorechild.
Special Rules: Mark of Khorne, Fearless, Furious Charge, Champion of Chaos, Veteran of the Long War.
The Butcher’s Nails: Kharn gain +d3 attacks and Initiative in any turn in which he charges. In addition, whenever an enemy unit disengages and flees from his after losing a combat, his unit always gains +d3 to the die roll for Sweeping Advances.
Blessing of Khorne: When resisting enemy Psychic powers, Kharn and his unit deny enemy WCs on 2+. He also has a 2+ save against force weapons and they lose the instant death rule against him. However, all beneficial powers used on him and his unit require an additional Warp Charge to take effect.
Betrayer: Kharn will hit close combat enemies on a roll of 2+, regardless of WS. Rolls of 1 are inflicted upon his current unit, allocated toward the closest model.
Gorechild: S+1, AP 2; Armorbane, Fell Strike (To-hit rolls of 6 count the enemy’s Toughness as being one less for the purpose of determining Instant Death).
Commentary: Kharn is hard to balance. Ideally, he should be someone able to demolish anyone and anything, but not be really much more resilient than any other T4, non-EW HQ. I focused on his aggression and volume/lethality of attacks, made them faster on the charge to encourage tossing him at things, and gave him a 2+ to let him actually reach combat (wrestled with giving back Eternal Warrior instead, but decided against it), especially if you walk him. Added a drawback to his psychic resistance because it’s fluffy and could result in some laughs, especially if you Perils trying to cast Endurance on his unit (which you should).
“The warp is limitless in power and its secrets are infinite; it is knowledge and strength, life and death, and the untapped potential to make and remake worlds. It takes only the discipline and the will to shape it; those who lack that clarity of purpose are liable to be shaped by it instead.”
Wargear: Bolt pistol with Inferno Bolts, Power Armor, Aura of Dark Glory, Mark of Tzeentch, Black Staff of Ahriman, Spell Familiar.
Special Rules: Fearless, Veteran of the Long War, Adamantium Will.
Psyker: Mastery Level 4. Can select powers from Biomancy, Pyromancy, Telekinesis, Telepathy, Tzeentch, Divination, Daemonology.
Master of the Corvidae: Ahriman can re-roll results whenever selecting powers on the Divination Discipline.
Peerless Sorcerer: In addition to his usual Disciplines, Ahriman can make one roll for a Psychic Power on a discipline table available to another army in play, friend or foe. He generates Warp Charges on a 3+ until the first time he fails at casting a power (or it is denied), when it reverts back to 4+.
Black Staff of Ahriman: S+2, AP 4; Force, Aetheric Focus (allows the user use one of the following abilities in his Psychic Phase: use the same witchfire power twice in the same turn; extend a single ranged power’s range by 6 inches; Increase its Strength by 1; Reduce its AP by 1.
Commentary: Bumped some stuff to make him more of a psyker powerhouse and channeling more easily, as well as add more flexibility and punch to his powers, so it’s not like any old Smite anyone can cast. Thought it would be fun to let him have limited access to enemy Disciplines just to drive home his eternal search for occult lore and how much he has accumulated so far. Removed Champion of Chaos because it’s a dumb rule, particularly for wily, brilliant manipulators who are not even going out of their way to please the Dark Gods in the first place.
LUCIUS the Eternal (205)
Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it’s lonely here,
there’s no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby,
that’s an order!
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St Paul
I’ve seen the future, brother:
it is murder.
– The Future, Leonard Cohen
Wargear: Frag&Krak grenades, Pomp&Circumstance, Doom Siren, Armor of Shrieking Souls, Aura of Dark Glory, Mark of Slaanesh.
Special Rules: Fearless, Veteran of the Long War, Champion of Chaos, Fleet.
Flash of the Blade: Enemies in combat with Lucius that also have a lower Initiative than him suffer a penalty of D3 to their WS.
Unbreakable Parry: While fighting in a challenge, Lucius can re-roll any failed saving throws.
Soulthief: If an enemy Character kills Lucius, he must roll a d6 and add his Leadership to the result, against a similar roll by Lucius’ player. Should Lucius win, the model that killed him will be under your control for the next Assault phase. If the model attached to a unit when this takes effect, he counts as having charged that unit.
Pomp & Circumstance (Blade of Laer and Whip combo)
S as user, AP 3; Shred, Master-crafted, counts as an extra CC weapon, -1 Attack to enemies in base contact.
Armor of Shrieking Souls: The vile melange of chemicals this armor injects into Lucius’ bloodstream hones his reflexes to surreal levels. Enemies who roll 1’s in close-combat with Lucius can never re-roll them by any means. Lucius gets to make one additional attack against anyone rolling a 1 after all attacks have been resolved (Initiative step 0), and these are resolved as AP2 as he exploits gaps in defenses from their mishaps.
Commentary: This one was hard. Making just another combat beast with AP2 at initiative is easy, so I went for resilience, debuffing enemies and hijinks instead. He’s supposed to be someone who will tear through lesser foes, but also dangerous to send your heavy hitters after. Flash of the Blade is meant to actually have someone hit someone on a 5+ in melee for a change.
TYPHUS the Traveler(255)
“Look upon me and know that I can slay you at will.”
-Typhus the Traveler
Wargear: Terminator Armor, Manreaper, Plague Grenades, Sigil of Corruption.
Special Rules: Fearless, Feel No Pain (5+), Champion of Chaos, Veteran of the Long War.
Destroyer Hive: Once per game, place the Large Blast Marker on top of Typhus in any Phase you choose, even on your opponent’s turn. All models that are not Daemons of Nurgle or Marked by Nurgle under the template suffer a single attack with the following characteristics: S4, AP 2, Haywire.
Plague of Undeath: Chaos Cultists in a force with Typhus becomes Plague Zombies. They lose all ranged attacks, gain the Feel No Pain, Poisoned (4+) Fearless and Slow and Purposeful USRs. In addition, whenever they cause an enemy casualty, roll a d6 for each slain model at the end of the turn. On a 5+, another Plague Zombie joins the unit.
Psyker: Mastery Level 2. Can select powers from the Nurgle and Daemonology disciplines. All successful channeled powers of the Nurgle discipline count as having one extra Warp Charge for the purpose of being Denied.
S+1, AP 2; Force, Fleshbane, Unwieldy.
Commentary: Typhus is not difficult to work with, as his role is very well-defined. Focused his talents a bit toward plague and undeath, and gave him a wound to make him more of a brick wall, but otherwise not much change. Since he’s getting an extra attack, I changed Manreaper from a Daemon Weapon to wounding on a 2+, favoring quality over quantity in this case. I wanted to let him generate Warp Charges on a 3+ to summon Nurgle Daemons (Really, all marked sorcerers should have such a bonus), but too many rules makes for a clunky HQ.
“The Strong are strongest alone.”
-Huron Blackheart, at the Skull Harvest.
Wargear: Power Armor, Sigil of Corruption, The Tyrant’s Claw, Frag Grenades, Master-Crafted Power axe.
Special Rules: Fearless, Feel No Pain (6+), Champion of Chaos, Veteran of the Long War.
Extensive Bionics: Over half of Huron’s body has been reconstructed with extensive augmetics. It increases his Toughness by 1 (already included in his profile), grants him the Feel No Pain rule (6+), and the Slow and Purposeful USR.
Piratical Opportunism: Any Chaos Marine unit that arrives via Deep Strike or Outflanking can re-roll its scatter dice (for Deep Strike) or the dice roll to determine which side they enter from. Once per game, you can add or subtract 2 from a single reserve roll. This can be used after the die is rolled.
The Hamadrya: On his turn, Huron can use the Hamadrya to cast a randomly determined power from the Divination or Telepathy Disciplines, counting as a ML 1 psyker for that purpose. If he chooses not to, he gains 4 extra dice for his army’s dice pool for Deny the Witch attempts the following enemy turn.
The Tyrant’s Claw
S+2, AP3, Master-Crafted, Shred, Armourbane, Heavy Flamer.
Commentary: There’s just so much fun stuff you can do with Huron, and I don’t even like pirates that much. I went for ambushes and focusing on his mangled, reborn malevolence. And if Ortan Cassius can boast T6 for some implants, someone who is over half machine earns a T5 in my book.
~What do you think – are these reworked characters worthy of leading the Chaos Marines?