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Golden Throne - View topic - Founding a chapter
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 Founding a chapter 
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Hell, It's About Time
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Post Founding a chapter
Been pondering over doing some creative writing for starting a (hah) career (hah-hah) as a novelist. Obviously, write what you know, and I know a fuckton about the 41st millenium.

Been mulling over some ideas for appealing stories, mainly centred around some long suffering imperial guardsmen, seeing as the "easy-in" to Black Library publishing seems to be contained, small, one-off IG novels (15 Hours, Cadian Blood, Ice Guard, Dead Men Walking, etc). However, during a hot, humid, sleepless night recently, I was trying to recall any fiction about the foundation of a Space Marine chapter. I know there's plenty of material about how and when new chapters are founded, using gene-seed tithes from existing and reliable chapters, so on, but has there been any actual novelisations of the process?

I haven't read the Iron Snakes or Soul Drinkers series, for instance, or any of the apparently lamentable Blood Ravens novels, but I have chewed through other good astartes fiction like the Ultramarines omnibi, Salamanders Tome of Fire, Heroes of the Space Marines, Rynn's World, the Night Lords trilogy and of course, all of the Horus Heresy to date.

Anyone fancy informing me of any gaps in my reading list, or assisting in creating the fiction behind a new founding chapter?

I think the founding of chapter has great potential for a different kind of drama and story telling in the universe - you don't see so many stories of marines fighting with limited supplies, waiting on their deliveries from forge worlds, having to negotiate contracts with worlds and institutions across the imperium to establish their bases, fleets and training programmes, having arguments between the original officers and command structure of the fledgling companies about the course of their growth, interactions with the local populace and aspirants on their recruiting worlds, etc.

Nothing solid yet in terms of names, characters, events, sequence or anything, I just think it's a solid concept worthy of working on.

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Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:32 pm
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CAPTAIN KILLJOY
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Post Re: Founding a chapter
This is something I have been thinking about as well, and I cannot think of a single BL novel that covers this subject in any real depth at all.


Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:05 am
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Post Re: Founding a chapter
Ok, any thoughts on what you would like to see in such a novel?

My ruminations, thus far:
Origins
- A scant few (~200) marines pulled together from destroyed/missing/censured chapters form the starting block
- Gene-seed stockpile provided by the administratum, apparently of Ultramarines stock, but no confirmation of origin
- Gene-seed, fleet assets, relics of former chapters, hardware and proscribed copy of the Codex Astartes guarded by representatives of X chapter to ensure defence in early years and to guide growth of new founding
- Chapter planet assigned based on recently rediscovered human world/system at apex of a calm warp-transit corridor, under threat from several alien presences
- Chapter planet is barely civilised pre-imperial world, think late medieval or renaissance level culture but with sci-fi trappings. Individual warring city-states provide political turmoil the new founding has to quell and recruiting ground from warrior lodges

Characters
- Chapter master, a veteran and former captain of another chapter, given the responsibility to craft a chapter in his mentor's image
- Chief Librarian, a psyker of some power, discouraged from further promotion in his home chapter before its dissolution
- First Chaplain, a veteran of a third abandoned chapter at odds with the prior two chaps, despite his convictions/duty
- Techmarine dude, not a veteran nor an experienced Master Of The Forge, trying his hardest despite not having the jib for it
- Prime Apothecary, an astartes doctor with depression, hates having the burden of testing duties and rites of passing
- First Captain, compatriot and prior brother to the Chapter Master, sidekick, bro, reliable, but possibly under censure for failings of prior chapter
- Second captain, possibly more experienced survivor of the same chapter as Chief Librarian, has a bee in his bonnet about not being 1st captain and the direction of founding (possible henchman of Chaplain)
- Scout Captain, gnarled old cyborg bastard with a million and one stories and a short temper, given the most responsibility for bashing the new recruits into shape and adhering to the Codex
- Various Sergeants, subordinate officers to the Librarius, Armoury and Chaplaincy, a few Veteran brothers from the abandoned forebears trying to work together in new squads in the fledgling first company
- Fleet Admiral, a non-astartes ex-navy captain given command of the chapters few strike cruisers and support vessels
- Administratum operative, combat trained turbo-bureaucrat assigned to manage the founding process (bit of a choad)
- Astropath, classic tortured psyker woman
- King Such-And-Such, de facto ruler of chapter planet, not entirely happy with being subordinated to a demi-god, trying to convince populace the presence of the marines is his work and to his benefit
- Killer Amazon Lady, a survivor of the planets many recent wars who coordinates the recruitment of astartes aspirants from the local populace, earns serious cred from Chapter Master, he wishes she was male so she could've been recruited/adapted herself
- Various further functionaries, bureaucrats, visitors, salesmen, antagonists, petitioners, Rogue Traders, etc as plot demands

Conflicts
- Needs some good, honest to god-emprah bolter porn against some classic antagonist (orks? chaos cult?) at some stage
- Drama and hidden conspiracy between Chapter Master, First Chaplain and Second Captain throughout
- Lower ranking brethren taking out their frustrations on their opposite numbers from different contributing chapters
- Lack of supplies, materials and equipment due to paperwork or logistical cock-ups (not enough bolters! Too few tanks!)
- Have to fight wars carefully and in a supporting role due to small numbers and lack of firepower, causes problems with guard allies and/or sector commanders who expected full-force astartes day-saving action
- Local government hostile to being taken over by imperial forces despite treaties and astartes presence, threat of civil unrest
- Other chapters looking down their mk.6 beaky helmet noses at the new kids on the block with no history or honour roll yet
- Setting up of shady deals to establish supplies of counterfeit kit in lieu of full mechanicum support
- They've only got a squad's worth of terminator armour between them, and their pair/trio of inherited dreadnoughts are broken, empty or spastic and therefore unusable

So... thoughts?
Am I missing anything glaringly obvious? Is there more I should add? Something I should lose? What sounds like fan-wank? What sounds too far fetched, or not far fetched enough, for the 41st millenium?

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Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:27 am
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Post Re: Founding a chapter
I can specifically see the Captain of a former chapter being overlooked as chapter master of his own chapter but offered the chance to build a new one. Especially with the help of an inquisitor or some sort of Bureaucratic thing fromt he administratum. Could be a number of different officers from a number of different chapters brought in too, and that could cause conflict as they differ in how they chapter is run.

All looks good though! :D


Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:09 pm
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Post Re: Founding a chapter
Well, your check list of ingredients is superb...

You've got the potential for some really good disgruntlement at the top; I like the fact that the three commanding officers are from three different chapters with different experiences, you've got the beginnings of either a slow burn towards trust or a gradual slide into outright conflict. Your Chapter Master fulfils the obligatory "good man, heavily burdened" role, your Chief Librarian is your "potential weak link" as he was evidently too "nice" to be included in whatever shenanigans led to the dissolution of his old chapter, with him I'd also be inclined to play the naïveté card and have him as the "peon, who missed all the signs" archetype, possibly with a healthy degree of resultant paranoia, which could put him at odds with your Chaplain (especially if your Chaplain is particularly hidebound to a quixotic interpretation of Imperial Creed). In regards to the Chaplain, I'd be tempted to go the "palmed off" route making him so much of a nuisance to his old chapter, that his superior "bestowed him this great honour" to get rid of him, thus giving him some tasty negativity. It's also good to see you've included a viper in the nest, in the form of the "slighted" 2nd Captain, and a good mix of secondary characters.

That being said, I'd be careful of having too many obvious stereotypes (the Scout Sergeant, and Astropath in particular), unless you intend to play against people's expectations - The inherent risk with using stereotypes is falling into formulaic traps, especially if you don't furnish them with added dimensions. Take your Chief Librarian: His first dimension is being held back for promotion (why was he held back, is it linked to the chapter's demise?), your second dimension is the dissolution of his chapter (did they simply dwindle, were they destroyed, were they corrupted?), your additional dimensions would link to the interplay between these, and how they affect his character and actions as a result - Was he simply too much of an unimaginative drone, blindly loyal to the Imperial Creed, not perspicacious enough to see the trouble brewing in his own chapter (and therefore too much of an unthinking peon to be a threat) and too dull-witted to be of use to the burgeoning conspiracy, does this make him a paranoid man, all-too-aware of his own intellectual failings, sweating fearful that others will come to know them (obviously through the lens of Astartes' particular brand of non-fear), desperate to stamp his new found authority and play his bestowed power to its fullest, is he alone, or does he have a crony or cronies exploiting this?

On the flip side, you've got some really good seminal ideas in there - The need to establish trade agreements is particularly interesting, as this has never really been covered in any great depth. You've got the makings of an excellent, "ends vs. needs" arrangement, particularly when set against the Astartes as supposed pillars of the Imperium (and supposedly independent supermen, reliant on no-one). I'd be inclined to have your first story actually centring on this dichotomy, maybe set against the backdrop of a major campaign (providing your obligatory bolter porn), whereby your Astartes in their need/desperation for steady supplies are backed into a corner by clever bureaucrats, having to perform a range of (potentially demeaning or highly dangerous) roles in order to secure trade agreements, or through their actions in trying to navigate the vagaries of Imperial trade, uncovering a system-wide scam. You might actually have their entire founding predicated on this premise, as perhaps they were being used as unwitting Inquisitorial shills - A chapter at founding with limited resources, no "stature" to worry about, and the Astartes caring little for the intricacies of Imperial trade (and thus being largely ignorant of it), already in prime position to be exploited; an opportunity too good to pass up for potential scammers and the perfect lure for an Inquisitorial sting. The end result (and kick in the teeth for your heroes) could be, that once the dust has settled and the Inquisition have got what they want, they just hand the Chapter Master the agreements and authorities, "just like that".

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Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:01 am
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Post Re: Founding a chapter
If you want to get this actually published remember not to post it up in public. If its just a fun thing to waste time on or to practice writing for your own projects go for it, but be careful about spreading it around otherwise. You might also want to poke around on the Bolthole forum - that's where quite a few of the actual BL authors post (or at least they used to post), and they're more likely to be able to give you better advice than us. They might be able to point you at some specific bits of Warhammer Lore too - the only relevant things I know would be some bits and pieces from the Index Astartes (particularly the early general stuff and the Cursed Founding story) and maybe some of the more recent Forge World Horus Heresy books, particularly how groups like the Dusk Raiders and Night Lords came to be. Might be some more later, when the heresy is finished.



I'd also suggest trying some short stories first, to practice your skills and get better at cutting back the waffle and getting right to the exciting stuff (something I have a problem with too). - its aimed at comics, but its good advice for action stories in general. Remember, longer does not equal better. I REPEAT! LONGER DOES NOT EQUAL BETTER! You'll learn more doing more short stories than one ponderous epic, and you'll get more done.

If you're serious about becoming a novelist, do your own stuff too. Even if its a rip-off of Warhammer, you'll still have more creative control and you'll be more likely to be able to make actual cash off it. I'd say do that more than Games Workshop material, but if bolterporn is what you're heart is set upon do it. But write every day, or very nearly every day. Set a time and do it. Consider getting or a free equivalent if you don't think you have the discipline to do it by yourself and not get distracted. Writing can be great fun, but its often a tedious business and it does take practice and discipline to get going. I struggle with this too. But if you want to do this as a job, treat it like a job.

If you haven't written in a while, your first stories will probably be terrible. That's normal. Get someone to read through it, point out what works and what doesn't. Be accepting of criticism (much harder than it sounds). When every word is a stuggle to get out, its much easier to take "It's perfect, change nothing" or "I like such-and-such bit" to heart even if they aren't terribly helpful critiques. Even "it's crap and I hate you for subjecting me to this" can be better, particularly if you can get out WHY they hate it. Be prepared to kill you Darlings. EDIT.


http://firstfridaywordsmiths.tumblr.com ... on-writing
http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=14532
http://www.easywaytowrite.com/ArtMurder.html


edit: and for the love of God don't do that terrible online-fanfiction "faux script" thing.
"You mean where every line is basically one person talking to another, with a short piece of prose at the beginning and the end to set the scene?"
"Why yes I do, completely indistinguishable character voice." he exclaimed "Its a crutch for crap writers who can't or won't write prose!"
"Even actual scripts for TV, film and comics don't generally do that!"


edit2: I'm not trying to poop on your parade, by the way, just ranting about words.
edit3: Feel free to distract me on Steam or whatever! I'm only trawling for Anne Boelynn quotes right now.


Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:48 pm
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