Saturday, February 1, 2014

Codex: Star Eagles Final Draft is Public

Justice without force is powerless; force without justice is tyrannical.

- Blaise Pascal -

I've been working on the Codex for my Space Marines for quite some time and I must say I'm very surprised at how far this project got.  I've never been a huge fan of Space Marines as a rule, you see. Having said that, I was really missing the point previous to writing this Codex.  A Space Marines Chapter can be whatever you make of it.

So, I really only started the collection because I wanted to play the army.  During 5th Edition, I always looked at the humble Tactical Squad, Drop Pods, and Combat Tactics as a combination of tools which I
felt could actually be quite fun to use and also actually competitive on the table.  After a few practice games using my Orks as proxy, I quickly fell in love with the reliability and tactical variety of the army and decided to start collecting.

In the beginning, I only had designs for my Space Marines to be a "playing army".  That is to say, I planned on building and painting the army as fast as possible without much thought of story or paint. This is why the first few squads I painted look kind of horrible.  I bought a lot of second-hand models, stripped, and painted them very quickly.  Five of my Drop Pods look like they were assembled by a blind rhinoceros.  My wife really wanted me to paint a purple army, so that's how I chose the color scheme.  The decision was that pedestrian.

In order to satisfy my desire to set my army apart from the others, I started putting together a little bit of fluff to justify my playing Space Marines.  I think the justification was more for myself.  I had to delude myself into thinking that the people my plastic toys were representing were not completely terrible in every way I don't want an army to be terrible.  Well, yeah they were still jerks, but they were jerks in a way that was palatable to me.

What is it about Space Marines that irked me?  I felt very put-off by the Space Marine fluff.  Their hyper-masculine single-minded portrayal by Games Workshop really turned me off.  I do understand that the depth and variety of the Space Marines does go a bit deeper now that I've learned more about them, but I still don't feel extremely different about them.  One of the podcasts I was listening to at the time suggested that, when developing your army background, and a Space Marine army in particular, that you make it what you want of it. If there's something about the army fluff that bugs you, change it.  This stuck with me.  There are a thousand Space Marine Chapters and who's to say there isn't one out there that exactly matches your personality and play style?

Centering the army's origins on African culture was a decision I made because the 41st Millenium feels a bit anglo to me, especially considering the fact that in 40,000 years, most humans will probably be anything but caucasian.  The Space Marines in particular seem very “Brofist Whiteguy” to me.  This is exacerbated by the Salamanders being the only dark-skinned Chapter I know of, yet they're only dark-skinned due to a genetic flaw or oddity depending on which fluff you read.  I'm not sure whether or not the author of that particular bit of the Space Marine background understood the message that kind of thing sends.  Over the course of the first few months of playing the army, more and more fluff unfolded until I had actually exceeded the character limit for a post on some forums.  At that point, I had to come to terms with the fact that I actually liked my army.  I started caring about the models and put more effort into them.  I started to really enjoy using them and I didn't do too bad with them either.

Rumors of the Space Marine Codex started to swirl around and I decided I was going to actually sit down and get a more detailed background written for these guys before the Space Marines were released.  I thought about it and brainstormed for a while.  I was getting the itch to write again the way I did when I was a kid.  A lot of young men think they have a book in them, of course, and I don't know whether I do or not, but I figured that doing a full Codex for these guys might be a great excursus.

I started writing the first draft sometime in July of last year (2013) and had the first revisions done in October when I cast the net asking for folks who would be willing to read the codex and check my grammar and, more importantly, check my accuracy with the established 40k background.

A few people did look at it, (and I thank all of you!) but two names demand mentioning: Sonic Rob from the Independent Characters Forums and Snorre Selmer from Deepstrike Radio (and now Masters of the Forge).  Both of these gentlemen returned to me long lists of notes which helped me immensely. They saved me from a litany of inaccuracies which, I'll admit, were easy to fix on the whole, but these notes added a level of legitimacy which was extremely important to me.
As I wrote this Codex, I started to evolve my understanding of the game as a whole.  These stories were really fun to write and the little vignettes were great for testing out nuggets of ideas to see whether they stuck to the wall or not.  Now, when I paint  a unit, I try to develop some kind of little story to go with them so I can flesh out how they ought to act in the game.  It really makes for a great, loose character development exercise.

Suffice to say, I quite regret rushing all of those early models.  I see a project in my future which will update them and do them justice.

At any rate, I've enjoyed writing this Codex.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any further notes or corrections as I still consider this a draft.

Link to the Codex on Drop Box:

Let me know if you can't get it and I'll email it to you.

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