The Disciples of the Four and The Shriven (It's All Dan Abnett's Fault)

 Here's something a little different that's not specifically about painting and modeling! Although I've taken a few stabs at trying to crank out an army for 40K in the past, most of which are now relegated to work-in-progress status and many of those linked to in the Gallery of my painting website, I haven't really had any fully realized army lists or troop rosters in mind to work towards - more often just vague half-formed plans. With the goal of keeping myself on track (as well as possibly getting feedback on the validity/combat-worthiness of my forces), I've been busy the past few weeks in spare moments trying to narrow down selections for two completely different army lists for forces I'd like to field in the hopefully near future - one is fairly straightforward from the current Games Workshop Chaos Space Marines Codex and the other has been planned out more from a modeling, conversion, and back story standpoint over the past several years and just lately been pigeonholed into one of the army lists from Forge World's three Siege of Vraks Imperial Armour books. The more convoluted army list of the two is now a Nurgle-biased force using the Renegades and Heretics list out of Imperial Armour Vol. VII, and is serving as my starting point for representing a force of The Shriven as taken from Dan Abnett's First and Only novel in the Gaunt's Ghosts series - for anyone who's already read in past entries about my unwholesome fascination with them as described in the book, I apologize in advance.

 Bear in mind that I hardly have any tabletop 40K play experience under my belt as I've consistently been more of a painter and converter than a gamer since getting back into the hobby about 4 years ago, but I'm looking to make a serious attempt at planning, assembling and painting up a few small armies (500 points or so each) with several goals in mind: 1) I'd like to actually play 40K for once with a fully painted and game-legal army of my own, 2) I want to complete a starting force of Chaos Space Marines in a loose, non-Legion-specific Warband of my own design for the sake of getting something playable "soonish" while still allowing for some conversion and variety in painting, and 3) I'd like to finally be able to put a force on the table as allies of my CSM Warband so as to represent remnants of The Shriven from First and Only - an army composed of the former workers, administrators, disciplinarians, and leftover general populace of the Forge World of Fortis Binary who were corrupted by Chaos, went rogue, and overtook the planet itself.

 My first army list has been easier to wrap my head around, as I'm more familiar with the Chaos Space Marine Codex, their troop types, and the overall concept of how the Chaos Marines theoretically handle themselves on the tabletop. This first list represents a smallish beginning force of troops from my self-designed Warband, The Disciples of the Four, that I've been kicking around ideas for in my head ever since Games Workshop released the latest CSM Codex:

Undivided Chaos Lord
- Daemon Weapon
- Combi-melta
140 pts.

5 Khorne Berzerkers (w/ Chaos Lord attached to these guys in game-play)
- Skull Champion
-- Power Fist
Rhino w/ pintle-mount twin bolter
185 pts.

8 Chaos Marines
- Icon of Chaos Glory
- Meltagun
175 pts.

Total: 500 pts.

 In terms of a back story, The Disciples of the Four are an extra-zealous splinter group from the post-Heresy Word Bearers Legion, some time after the Legion's retreat to the Eye of Terror. Essentially, the originators of The Disciples split away from the Word Bearers Legion due to a difference in ideology: they felt their former comrades were somewhat lacking in "enthusiasm" - outside of converting whole populaces to worship of the Chaos Powers, building unholy monuments that stretch up into the stratosphere, and dogmatically enforcing their religious will on the conquered, they felt that the Word Bearers Legion's somewhat "distanced" spiritual approach didn't go nearly far enough. The Disciples of the Four want to demonstrate the might and the glory of the Gods of Chaos to the rest of the galaxy physically as well as from a "spiritual" standpoint. My Warband essentially will be marked with rampant mutation and corruption of the body and soul (from a "sane" 40K perspective) as a sign of their devotion to the Fell Powers, and the higher one progresses in the overall hierarchy within The Disciples, the more marked and favored they will be by the 4 Chaos Gods (read: rife with physical perversion and deviation from the semblance of their former appearance).

 I'm keeping with an Undivided belief approach in the Warband's adoration of the Chaos Powers (ideally for the most variety in painting, conversion and gameplay), and from a "fluff" standpoint, so long as any potential new members or allies likewise show complete devotion to the Ruinous Powers (both spiritual and corporeal), then The Disciples of the Four would be accepting of whoever (or whatever) wishes to join up with them in their efforts. I more or less adopted this "theme" for the sake of not getting stagnant or bored painting-wise, meaning I'll be able to incorporate Games Workshop's canonical Chaos Marine Legions' color schemes and styles of appearance that I've always liked directly into my force as well as (suitably corrupted) Loyalist Marine Chapter paint schemes and insignia; so long as I maintain certain specific elements from figure to figure such as iconography or particular armor panels in set colors, I'm thinking things won't look too motley.

 My second army list is a first stab at getting some models on the tabletop so as to represent a playable force of The Shriven - I have no experience whatsoever playing Imperial Guard or even against IG, so this is more an attempt to combine the ideas I want to get across with something that will hopefully be effective in-game. Compared to my planned Chaos Marine force, I'm expecting more or less every figure of my Shriven army to be converted from original base models/parts in some way - in other words I'm planning to get my Disciples of the Four troops painted up to a reasonable standard using whatever shortcuts and repetitive batch painting I can tolerate, so as to be able to actually play a game with my own figures, while The Shriven troops will be a bit more involved in creation and can be worked on in the background. So far as a back story goes in terms of their alliance with my Warband, they're intended to be leftovers of The Shriven forces in First and Only after the involvement by Gaunt's Ghosts on the Forge World of Fortis Binary. In the book (without ruining a great read) they are allied with the Iron Warriors and have a leaning towards long range bombardment, trench fighting, self-mutilation (former work-related protective gear sewn directly into their flesh, for example) and the use of, um, poisonous chemicals and daemonic rituals. Here's my planned army list for The Shriven as a separate small force to complement my initial Chaos Space Marine troops:

Renegade Company Command Platoon
Company Command Squad (more or less comparable to the Troop Platoon Command Squad from the newest GW Imperial Guard Codex)
1 Champion, 4 Renegades
(Champion has laspistol/CC weapon, 2 have lasguns, 2 have autoguns)
- Vox-caster
- Chaos banner

Mortar Squad (part of Platoon)
3 Heavy Weapons teams
- Lasgun & mortar each team
- Chemical shells (poisoning of bombardment targets on a 2+, and Marine-killing AP)
125 pts.

Apostate Preacher of Nurgle (comparable to the Ministorum Priest from the latest IG Codex)
- Bolt Pistol
- Eviscerator
67 pts.

5 Plague Marines (same as in the GW Chaos Space Marine Codex)
- Plasma Gun
130 pts.

Mutant Rabble (more or less comparable to a squad of IG Conscripts, and will have the Preacher attached in game-play)
20 Mutants
- 2 Flamers
92 pts.

Mutant Rabble
20 Mutants
- Flamer
86 pts.

Total: 500 pts.

 Given the unfolding of the story in First and Only, this force represents The Shriven "in exile" finding a welcome home as allies amongst The Disciples of the Four, as well as a following of mutants and degenerates trailing in their wake as The Shriven recouped their numbers and sought refuge on a number of worlds following an abrupt separation from their previous "protectors." I'm blaming the current lack of tanks and other fun means of mass slaughter on my difficulty in cramming heavy armor and warm bodies into the same 500 point army list, but I could also say that in their departure from Fortis Binary they were forced to leave a majority of their heavy guns behind but still have a leaning towards trench warfare tactics, heavy fire support. and long-range bombardment as learned from their time with the Iron Warriors.

 Feedback on either the army lists or my "fluff" for them would be greatly appreciated, as I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to army building and actual gaming in 40K - I haven't even played anything in 5th Edition, for example, outside of a single brief run with 500 points' worth of unpainted and borrowed Orks when the Assault on Black Reach set first came out. For anyone interested, I've had a running work-in-progress thread over on the RelicNews Painting & Modeling Forum with both my work on The Shriven and (moreso) the Disciples of the Four for quite a while now. (Barring a few in-progress projects in what free time I have, my planned focus in the near future will ideally be on getting the troops for both these army lists assembled, playable and painted!)

 As an aside, it's nice to see I'm not the only one who has similar opinions about modeling, painting, army building and (eventually) playing using Forge World models and rules as a main focus of an army. Ron over at From the Warp made a post about this regarding his Deathwing Space Marine army: From the Warp: Using Forge World stuff


  1. I really like this idea, the background is solid and when combined the two forces should compliment each other.

    The only reservation I have is the lack of tank busting ability the army will have. At the points level you've chosen it'll be tough to fit any more in unless you change the Shriven list.

    You might be better off planning out two 750 point forces to add together to be a standard sized 1500 point list.

    Again, I like the concept and the lists.


  2. Gar! Dan Abnett is responsible for the Ordo Hereticus army (all Inquisition, no SoB's) that I started after reading the Eisenhorn books. He's writing the screenplay for the Ultramarines movie, so I'm going to have to try *really hard* to resist that. I already have Blood Ravens... I don't need Ultramarines too.



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