[40K OSR] KNIGHTS OF ASHTETH – a sample Black Legion Warband by Von

The other day, for an experiment, I rolled up a Rogue Trader Chaos army roughly paralleling my old fanfiction. I wanted to see how close it might end up, and how long it would take, and what horrors the random tables would inflict on me. I was not prepared. However, the results were so essentially entertaining that I couldn’t not share them, and have tried to do so in the style of those old GW staff member sample armies from the other books.

I’ve chosen Black Legion because I already have a rough idea of the Chaos army I want to build; a group of more recent converts from the Imperium, who still harbour their old loathing of the Traitor Legions but who’ve been through some kind of traumatic Chaos-based event and lost their faith in the Imperium too. They hate everyone, and the feeling’s mutual.

In the usual fashion, I’ll break the army generation down into three stages – a 1000 point core of things I’ll always be taking to battle, and then a couple of 500 point expansions which can be fielded for larger and larger games but don’t include the things I’ll be needing every time. Given that I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic painter, I’ll probably put most of my actual boots-on-the-ground troops into the core, and add some of the more expensive and fun Chaotic bits and bobs into the expansions.

Since I plan on using this army for campaign play, tracking its progress from game to game and my general’s advances on the path toward daemonhood (glory!) or spawndom (ignominy!), I’ll start by rolling up the pieces with random availability. Some of these – the Techmarines in particular – will govern the other choices I can make, so it’s best to set them in stone before I start making big decisions.

A few handfuls of dice later and I determine I can take 14 Techmarines, 6 Possessed Space Marines, a Greater Daemon, 2 Daemon Princes, 2 Lesser Daemon squads, 3 Chaos Spawn and 2 Land Raiders. The Daemons can come from any of the other Traitor Legions, which is a nice little perk for being Black Legionnaires and not having any friends. That said, they’re a bit on the expensive side, so I’ll start with my core 1000 points and see where that gets me.

The Commander – Darion Khan

My army will need some sort of leader, and I might as well make him a Lieutenant Commander so he doesn’t end up displaced by any personalities I add later on. I want to keep him fairly cheap and fairly effective at the same time, so I opt for a Minor Hero. I don’t roll any Chaos Attributes to start off with, but my roll on the Chaos Reward chart comes out as an Attribute anyway – Uncontrollable Flatulence. That’s less than dignified, but I suppose it gives him something in common with his commander, and it has some oddly beneficial effects too!

Anyway, on to the equipment. I like the idea of a Daemon Weapon, but I don’t like the idea of spending the rest of my 1000 points on buying one*, so I cross my fingers and roll on the Arms of Chaos chart instead, getting… a Daemon Weapon! That’s a bargain right there, and I flick back to the generation systems and start rolling up its occupant, producing a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh who starts out as an ordinary Human. That’s a bit rubbish, but I press on and see what happens, rolling up nine Rewards and adding 40 to the first six so he doesn’t get turned into a Spawn for having too many Attributes.

I roll up Blood Rage, Face of a Fiend, Iron Hard Skin, Crystalline Skin, Hermaphrodite, Willpower, Weapon Master, Willpower again and then the mandatory Eye of God result. Once I’m done working out all the modifications and multiplications, the Prince’s stat-line looks a bit like this:

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP
4 9 3 6 8 2 6 4 7 7 7 10

So, my Prince was not terribly clever or commanding, never accumulating a warband around himself, but he was determined and an excellent fighter. I’m imagining a foppish duellist from some medieval world – possibly even the Warhammer Fantasy Battle world – whose vanity and obsession with being the absolute best ever made him a natural slave to Slaanesh. By the end of his career she was almost indestructible – he’d become a sort of diamond statue of her lord and lady master, and his skill with a blade was matched by her intoxicating lick attack – but one good strike that actually made it through her defences would shatter him into a million pieces. Perhaps that’s how she ended up in the sword – someone finally got the better of him and forged her remains into a truly mighty weapon. I’ll call him Ashteth – running together a couple of my favourite goddesses’ names.

Ashteth gives out a +4 to hit bonus (based on the Prince’s Attacks score) and WP 10 to his wielder, as well as siphoning Strength like all Daemon Weapons; she’ll be satiated once she’s consumed 31 points from her victims. I like the idea that Ashteth is permanently enraged at his fate, and passes on her Blood Rage to the Commander as well – I’ll have to ask the other players in our campaign about that.

The Commander’s looking pretty well kitted out after that, so I buy him the standard Lieutenant Commander kit (mostly for the conversion field and full set of scanners) and a few rolls on the equipment charts; two Close Combat so I can try for a better pistol, and one ranged just to round off his points value to 110. I end up with a rather uninspiring chainsword (still, it’ll be a good backup weapon when Ashteth’s full up), a power shield (very useful) and a meltagun (using my +20 roll for being the army’s commander).

Darion Khan is obviously from one of the more knightly Marine Chapters. At some point he acquired a rather elegant sword, only to fall foul to the whisperings of the Daemon Prince/Princess within, and led his command off down dark pathways. I’ll work on his story later once I’ve picked out his followers. Traitor Space Marine squads are quite costly, so I’ll be trying to fit them into my first 1000 points if I can.

Tactical Squad Fendahl

I want my first Traitor Marine squad to be quite flexible, able to provide some fire support from afar but also get stuck in at close range if they have to. With that in mind, I opt for a Tactical Squad, though I’ll upgrade the flamer to a plasma gun and swap the heavy bolter for a missile launcher and krak missiles. That’ll give me some nice firepower at long range and let me take pot-shots at any vehicles that show their faces. I buy a power sword for the Sergeant just in case they do end up in close combat, and start taking my Attribute rolls. With no Attributes manifesting for either Sergeant or Squad, that’s this unit done.

The Tactical Marines are perhaps a little reluctant to embrace the Great Powers of Chaos. As yet unmarked by the Dark Gods, they tend to keep their distance from the rest of the army in battle, providing covering fire and avoiding the corrosive odours and daemonic outbursts produced by their commander. Their leader, Sergeant Fendahl, is one of the more level-headed members of Darion’s warband, and can generally be relied on to hold his ground and pick his targets with care.

Assault Squad Zygon

Darion can’t exactly go charging off into the teeth of enemy guns all by himself, so I’ll want some bodies to accompany him. I’d quite like some more Traitor Marines now, given that one squad will eat most of my 500 point expansion budget, so I opt for a Traitor Assault Squad.

Again, I’d like my Marines to have a little flexibility, so I upgrade the hand flamer to a second plasma pistol – now they can do some shooting before they rampage into close combat – and I buy them all chainswords so they can do a little more damage up close. The Sergeant of this unit gets a power axe, since I know he’ll be needing to do some damage, and while the squad don’t receive a Dominant Attribute, the Sergeant ends up covered in Suckers, which will be very handy if he finds himself fighting an enemy personality of some sort!

Sergeant Zygon is Darion’s most trusted minion, and already following in his commander’s footsteps. Exposure to warp energy has turned the rivets of his armour into suction cups – not that he minds so much, as it’s all too easy for him to grapple with his enemies at close quarters. In battle, he sticks close to Darion, hoping to draw the gaze of the Dark Gods by proxy, and covers his master’s back when Ashteth leads him on a killing spree.

I have about three hundred points left to spend and quite fancy some sort of vehicle. I’d be tempted by a Land Raider if I were heading straight to 1500 points, but as it is I’ll have to settle for something a bit more restrained, something that can offer some fire support to the rest of the band. I can’t afford enough Robots to make them worthwhile and I don’t really fancy a Land Speeder or Bike… but I do like Dreadnoughts.

Auton and Desecrator – Techmarine and Chaos Dreadnought

A Furibundus Dreadnought has a nice array of weapons and scanners – a lascannon and two bolt guns with targeters for both – plus a force field to keep it intact against return fire. I’ll be using this to knock out enemy transports so Darion and Zygon can have their way with the contents, and it can have a crafty pop at enemy personalities if there are no armoured targets available.

I’ll need a Techmarine to keep an eye on it, and since I’m running a bit short on points, I’ll keep his equipment basic – a chainsword and frag grenades are all I can afford. He doesn’t really have the characteristics to make use of fancy gear anyway. I do, however, roll up an Attribute for him – a Featureless Face.

Unlike the rest of Darion’s minions, Auton the Techmarine is entirely humble before the Great Powers; he sees himself merely as a servant to others’ glory. Some Chaos God or Daemon has taken umbrage at this servility and cursed him with a smooth, featureless helm which he can’t actually remove any more – it’s a good job his armour recycles waste and has life support built in!

The object of Auton’s devotion is the ancient Dreadnought ‘Desecrator’ – a relic from some older Chaos Legion or Chapter which the warband captured and renovated during its fall. Desecrator is everything its handler is not – bellicose, belligerent, and destructive. It has a particular distaste for enemy vehicles, blasting away with its lascannon at any cowards who try to hide from the Powers’ gaze in their metal boxes.

Total: 996 points

For my first expansion block I like the idea of a cheap and disposable squad, putting some more bodies on the board, and another, more flexible Dreadnought. I can’t quite fit a Dreadnought and a Traitor Marine squad into 500 points, but I can take some Beastmen and hope their Dominant Attributes beef them up a little. They will, of course, need a Techmarine handler, as will the second Dreadnought.

Techmarine Soldeed and the Slaves of Nimon – Beastman Slave Squad

Techmarines’ characteristics not being much to write home about, I don’t bother with any really fancy equipment for them; frag grenades, since he’ll be getting up close to the enemy, and a Frenzon controller to set the Beastmen off at the right moment, and that’s about it. Like Auton, he rolls up an Attribute – his eyes have merged into one.

The Beastmen, meanwhile, don’t get any Attributes at all. Rubbish. However, looking through their equipment options, I spot power shields at a bargain one point each! That’ll make them perfect screens for the two Dreadnoughts or for Darion and Zygon – if any of them to survive, Soldeed can set off their Frenzon and let them do what Beastmen do best.

Soldeed is a devoted servant to a minor Chaos Power which nobody’s heard of – a lesser Prince of Slaanesh called Nimon. Nimon has blessed him with both followers – a rabble of bull-horned beast-runts who hang on his every word – and a mark, in the form of a single cyclopean eye in the middle of his forehead. Soldeed is indifferent to the lives of his charges, and they – blood-greedy grobblies to a man – don’t care how many of their peers die as long as they get to taste the ‘blessing of Nimon’ dispensed by their collars.

Techmarine Nestene and Dominator – Chaos Dreadnought

I feel some fire support is important with two rather assault-oriented units running around, and so opt for a Deredeo pattern Dreadnought; it can swing a punch more effectively than the Furibundus if it needs to, but mostly it’s there to point a missile launcher at targets of opportunity and thin out the enemy as the assault elements close in. Its controlling Techmarine just gets the time-honoured frag grenades, for more fun with blast radiuses (radii?), and doesn’t get an Attribute.

Nestene is in the same boat as Fendahl – accepting that the Imperium has failed, but not quite ready to plunge himself into the worship of Chaos just yet. He’d rather concentrate on maintaining the Dominator, another relic of the Chapter which Darion has insisted on renaming. Dominator, for its part, has vague memories of a past as a Tactical Sergeant, and has a tendency to bellow out orders to which absolutely nobody listens.

Total: 500 points

My second expansion carries a certain obligation. I know I’m bound to run into an Eldar Farseer or Squat Ancestor Lord at some stage and one of my regular opponents is making noises about an Inquisitor. Lacking any psychic chicanery of my own, I feel a Librarian coming on, and I quite fancy creating a veteran Chaos personality to give the warband some credibility. I choose to roll up a Chief Librarian (Major Hero); his Reward is the Eye of God, bumping up his characteristics even further and giving him a Chaos Weapon with the Warrior Summoning power and his Attribute is a rather flashy Mane of Hair. Far more importantly, though, his psychic powers generate a Mastery Level of 4, a Psi-level of 56, and 17 powers!

After a flurry of die rolls I end up with Telepathy 1, Smash, Mental Bolt, Rally, Sense Presence, Animate Weapon, Transfer Aura, Mental Blitz, Limbo, Temporal Distort, Strength of Mind and Change Allegiance, plus a few duplicates. I’ll be asking the other chaps about the duplicates; I’d quite like to trade them in for some actual Chaos powers if I’m allowed to. Either Slaanesh (matching Darion’s Daemon Weapon) or Tzeentch (suiting the scheming, manipulative telepathic shenanigans that his existing powers indicate) would seem appropriate. If not, I can always either discard or reroll them; he’s quite impressive enough as it is. He’s suddenly become a very significant investment, and so four points for a displacer field seems like a very wise investment.

Chief Librarian Caraphiel

Caraphiel is the power behind Darion’s throne, and the guiding influence in the warband’s descent/ascent into Chaos worship. An ancient and powerful Chaos Sorcerer, he was the bane of Darion’s former Chapter and the personal nemesis of the young Commander. Over the years – or maybe decades – of their conflict, Caraphiel’s powers ate away at Darion’s sanity, drawing him further and further from the Emperor’s truth in the pursuit of revenge. Eventually, Caraphiel led Darion to a daemon world and oversaw his final conversion to the ways of Chaos. Though he prefers to watch his protoge from afar, he sometimes deigns to join the warband in battle should an especially potent psychic threat present itself. Disdaining the company of lesser Traitors, he creates illusionary guardians to aid him in battle, and his powers often mislead his enemies as to his true location.

Caraphiel is also astonishingly expensive, running to 245 points and ruling out the Lesser Daemons I’d been contemplating. However, I do have just enough left for another major Chaos personality: I could always buy myself a Possessed Marine with a Lesser Daemon passenger and trust to luck. You only live once, after all.

Alas, disaster strikes! While I start out with a Major Hero profile, a Daemonette inside, and a Chaos Weapon with Chill Blast, the d6 rolls on the Attribute table are not kind. A Crystalline Body and Tentacles are a good start, vaguely reminiscent of Ashteth though very fragile, and a Rearranged Bestial Face does nobody any harm. My next roll is Puny, though, and my next Chaos Spawn! A further d6 rolls on the Attribute chart, and stupidity into the bargain!

As if to add insult to injury, I roll up Chaos Lord as the first of the new Attributes, indicating that this was once a truly mighty Champion before the Daemon found its way into him. Chaos Lord means he gets Chaos Armour, and a Daemon Weapon of his own, which alas has to be discarded (though I might well roll it up anyway to build a sense of this character’s history**). The rest of them are a mixed bag; a Hunchback, Extra Joints, Powerful Leap, Uncontrollable Flatulence again, Eye of God (which in theory makes the brute a psyker, and I suppose he’d have Acquiesence, being a Slaaneshi Possessed and all) and Plague Bearer (with a bad case of Eye Rot) – but at least he gets Pseudo-Daemon to mitigate his Puny stature and bring him back up to size a little. Oh, and he causes fear in quite a lot of things. Can’t think why.

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP
4 6 4 1 1 2 7 5 9 9 10 9

The result is a very mobile but very fragile Possessed which throws out a great many Attacks at mediocre Strength and reduces its immediate opponent to a gibbering, pleasure-crazed wreck, assuming that it doesn’t drop its brain and decide to jump around like a nutter instead. There could be better ways to spend 255 points, but he is extremely Chaotic and potentially quite entertaining.

Cenobius, Possessed Chaos Space Marine Major Hero (Emperor’s Children – Daemonette)

The former wielder of the daemon sword Ashteth, Cenobius was once a mighty commander of the Emperor’s Children and overlord of the daemon planet Midian. Slaanesh had rewarded him greatly, binding a Daemonette into his very flesh that he might enjoy constant sensual delight, and though his features were unbecoming, his power was undoubted. Alas, he was betrayed; the manipulations of Caraphiel brought Imperial Space Marines to his gates, and he was undone in personal combat with the ascendant Darion Khan. Slaanesh struck the former master of Midian down, withering his once-magnificent body. Withered, blinded and stinking with pox, drooling and mad, Caraphiel capers in the wake of Darion’s forces – a truly pathetic testament to the machinations and whims of the Chaos Gods, and an eternal reminder of the fate awaiting all unworthy Champions. Meanwhile, the Daemonette Maimfiddle languishes within his unworthy flesh, trapped and resentful. Darion would carve Cenobius apart and release the Daemonette, were he not afraid to go anywhere near the disease-ridden wreck.

Grant Total: 1996 points.

* – it’s just possible that the listed cost of 900 points for Daemon Weapons is a misprint, since I’m fairly sure 100 is listed elsewhere in the volume.

** – I did. I got an ex-Zoat Daemon Prince, possibly the most Oldhammer of all possible outcomes, and that once-mighty hunter with his pack of Hounds and his Suckers and his Face of Daemonette had once upon a time had a Daemon Weapon of his own, inhabited by a Dark Elf Wizard who’d ascended long ago, having acquired a mighty Chaos Weapon that did Bewitch, Reflect Magic and Summon Skeletons at her whim – admittedly she also had a Flaming Bestial Skull Face plus Mechanoid arms and legs which let her Hover, but you can’t have everything. Presumably she was some sort of heavily Fallen Eldar. Quite the little saga there if I could ever be bothered to write it up!

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

4 thoughts on “[40K OSR] KNIGHTS OF ASHTETH – a sample Black Legion Warband by Von”

  1. Hi Von. I’ve been away so I haven’t had much time to read, but I saw this a few days ago and I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading it. It took me back and the stories you wove from the random rolls really captured the Moorcockian feel of old GW Chaos. It makes me want to play Rogue Trader!

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