Friday, September 12, 2008

Of Iron Snakes and other sundry matters

Pausing only to mention how much I am looking forward to seeing all of you (and when I say 'all', you all know who you are) at the extraordinary suprafabulatory wonderama of awesome sauce that is Games Day UK this coming Sunday (I'll be there all day, try the veal), and to comment in a passing, throw-away fashion how much fun I had in NY, I hereby hand over the controls of this blog entry to John Roberts.

To explain, John emailed me a little while back to ask if there was anything written up on the organisation and structure of the Iron Snakes, and I had to admit that there wasn't as far as I knew, and that I hadn't formalised it myself. I suggested that if he had the time and inclination, he was welcome to take a pass at it, and if he sent the results to me, I'd post it here for all to enjoy. Or, as I suspect, discuss at great length.

Anyway, he emailed me back with the following, and a jolly lovely job he's done IMHO. I've reproduced his entire email for the sake of clarity:

"Hi Dan,

To be honest, I think you have a perfectly good organization as it is given the nature of the chapter. With specialist squads I can imagine the following scene:

Seydon: Petrok, can you double check the chips again? We really need at least 2 assault squads for this undertaking and I only see Squad Alexios in here.....

So, keep them all tactical. As far as vehicles, keep them as you have. Rhinos and Drop pods to get to the fighting, landspeeders for speed, and Dreadnoughts for heavy weapon platforms.

So we have:
99 Tactical squads comprised of: Sgt, apothecary, weapons specialist, 7 brother marines
1 Terminator Squad comprised of: Sgt, Apothecary, weapon specialist, 7 brother marines
Drop Pods

This makes the Iron Snakes extremely nimble as they don't have to wait for much in the way of armor, which is ideal given what seems to be their two most common roles: Chasing down Dark Eldar and Rapid Strikes against Chaos.

So, not very creative on my part. You did all of the heavy lifting and I did a little codification. As soon as I have the latest Space Marine Codex I'll draft an army list. Actually, I'll probably draft 2: one where I try to minimize the homegrown rules to make it more palatable for strangers, and the other where I pretty much give myself free reign. I'd be more than happy to shoot you a copy of each if you'd like. Also, I've included as a postscript a write up I did to help me form up my thoughts of your Iron Snakes. If you like that sort of thing, it's there. If not, stop reading at my signature. I can imagine the type of mail you must get.

Anyway, I also want to mention how much I appreciate the response to my query. I seriously would have been satisfied with a link to a blog article I might have missed or some such.

Thanks again!
John Roberts

The Iron Snakes


The Iron Snakes are a codex divergent Space Marine Chapter. They do maintain a 1000 Marine strong presence broken down to 100 squads of ten marines per squad (referred to overall as the Phratry). 99 of the squads are organized primarily as tactical squads with several variations: 1) The squad members maintain a greater number of close combat weaponry on their person (in the form of a short sword and a throwing/jabbing spear, in addition to a small, round shield). 2) Each squad is accompanied by an apothecary (which creates a rather sizeable apothecarium of about 100+ members, including the unattached apothecaries responsible for the augmentation of new recruits). 3) Each squad maintains only a single weapon specialist, usually equipped either with a flamer, plasma gun or melta gun. There is only one squad that isn’t organized as a tactical squad and it is also the only squad in the entire chapter armored in tactical dreadnought suits.

The squads themselves aren’t organized on any greater level, other than the chapter entire. There aren’t any companies to speak of. All task forces are assembled ad hoc from the available squads with squad leaders designating themselves as ready for the mission, or undertaking, as the chapter refers to it. A squad leader does so by depositing a marker with their squad symbol into a large drinking vessel known as a kylix. Squads are also designated not by the name of their current leader but by the name of the original leader at the founding of the chapter. The current squad leader also maintains some sort of talisman from the original leader, sometimes either utilitarian or symbolic in nature (i.e. a lightning claw, bolter, helmet, etc…). The squads maintain their own history, foster rivalries (although very rarely to the point of violent contention), and ultimately are formed around a core of “Notables,” which would be the rough equivalent of a codex chapter’s elite, comprised of 5 squads (one of which happens to be the terminator unit). The squad membership is for life, unless a member is promoted to become sergeant of a reformed squad or, in the case of an unfortunate apothecary, the rest of the squad is wiped out. Promotion to captain or, if the individual is so inclined, librarian might also free a squad member from inclusion into the squad, but there are captains who have been promoted who stayed with their original squad. The squads replenish losses from a body of petitioners, as they are referred to, who are tested to ensure they would be worthy additions to the Phratry. The petitioners only take to the battlefield once they are full marines; the Iron snakes maintain no scout organization.

The leadership of the Iron Snakes is currently under Chapter Master Seydon. Members of the standing librarium, the chaplainry, and also those captains that are unattached to individual squads assist him in his role. The entire officer corps, which includes the above mentioned and those officers attached to squads (both sergeants and captains), weighs matters of the greatest import. The main purpose of the Chapter Master is to ensure that the chapter as a whole is prepared. He answers requests for aid and decides on the actual number of squads that will be required for the undertaking. He then selects the squads based solely on which squad leaders have consented to the undertaking by indicating their readiness and that of their squads.

Support for the entire organization is limited mainly to rhino or drop pods for transportation, landspeeders for reconnaissance, and dreadnoughts, which act as heavy weapon platforms in addition to tactical advisors. The chapter comports itself on the battlefield as a fluid, mainly infantry army, utilizing it’s fleet assets to redeploy when necessary. The entirety of the Forge is dedicated to these tasks and maintains a large number of chapter serfs to assist with these varied tasks."

I'd like to thank John for all his efforts, and invite (creative and constructive, not toxic) comments from anyone who feels like it. I think, at the very least, a big and hearty 'Go, John!' is required from all of us.

That's it for now, except to say "go and see Tropic Thunder with your chums if you want to laugh like a goon". Sunday beckons (which is odd, because as far as I know, days don't have fingers)...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New York, New York

Short notice, I know, but due to a script conflab with Marvel, Andy and I will be in NY this coming weekend, and will be putting in an appearance at both Midtown Comics and Jim Hanley's Universe. Jim Hanley's is likely to be the Monday night at around six, but check their website/newsletter. We'll probably hit Midtown on Saturday, mid-afternoon. There's not enough time to arrange proper signing 'events', but we'll sign up their stock, and if you're in the neighbourhood for a chat etc...