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In Space, No-one Can Hear You Chant

They come with chainaxe, they come with bolters, they come with faith and with their neverborn allies, and now, the biggest assholes in all the galaxy [citation needed] come with far too many spaceships.

Yep! It's time that the Word Bearers took to the stars. Being the narrative obsessives that we are, the Beard Bunker crew really, really like a lot of the "auxilliary" games to 40k. We like being able to play out all the story aspects, defending planets, establishing air superiority (if only Chaos had made it to Aeronautica Imperialis before it's demise, if only...), all that stuff we love. Were I a betting man, I'd put money on the most beloved auxilliary game being Battlefleet Gothic. The late lamented game of spaceship combat. Fortunately for us, even in these days of long gone miniatures, the rise of 3d printing and some seriously talented digital sculptors (in this case, the excellent ItalianMoose) give us the chance to continue playing this essential narrative component. Thus we come to quite a while ago me casually saying to our friend Boris, occasionally of this parish, that I would like a semi-irresponsible number of starships. Oh boy, did he provide an irresponsible number of starships...

The Monarchia

But let us start with the only official model in the whole fleet. The flagship of Admiral Qarad Saeperath of the Graven Star: The Retaliator class grand cruiser Monarchia. Intended to be my version of a Battle Barge, carrying and deploying the vast bulk of the Graven Star. Named for the ruined perfect city that the Emperor had Gulliman's spawn destroy (in one of the least explicable choices big E ever made, eyeroll) the Monarchia is the massive hunk of metal and plastic that lurks at the heart of the fleet and could probably concuss you if hoiked at you. I'm going to talk about most of the painting and modelling choices with Monarchia as the canvas and then stray more into pure Graven Star Fleet lore with our usual narrator later on.


Colour schemes for Battlefleet Gothic can be tough. Because the ships look excellent all painted and nice, and as Charlie points out, makes no sense at all. Why on earth would you paint the enormous body of a spacefaring vessel. Built in the void, never to ever hit atmosphere. Why would you need to protect it at all? But if all the ships are the same colour there's a certain wargaming problem of telling people's fleets apart. So I hit upon a compromise. Mostly the ships would be hunks of slightly dirty metal, but there would be patches of Word Bearer red and black at strategic intervals to break up the monotony and to really give some much needed vanity. I also painted any launch bays with a yellow stripe to kind of give that "Runway! Land here!" vibe. I picked out some running lights in yellow and anywhere there was a chance to my nautical nerd brain picked out navigation lights in red and green for port and starboard. Finally, the engines were painted stark white and glazed in orange ink for the most vibrant drive plumes I could manage.

Other than some minor chat about individual modelling choices, that really is it, I gave the bases a nice sprinkled starfield effect and painted each ship's name on the edge as if some cogitator was labelling them on a tactical display (and there's a serious case to be made for painting everyone's ships to look like hologram projections). So now we can move from the extremely simplistic painting to the fun bit, meeting the Graven Star's fleet through the eyes and opinions of Orcus Kairon:

"Beautiful isn't she? In a sort of pugnacious way. Our long awaited home away from home, Monarchia. You'll be spending most of your time there as will most of the bretheren. When aboard keep yourself to yourself, Admiral Saeperath runs the tightest of ships and will not tolerate "useless mouths" as he calls them. I'm pretty sure his armoured boots haven't touched planetside in a century. He's addicted to the regicide game of space combat and is infernally capable at it too. Woe betide anyone who mistakes that for weakness though, he's a Word Bearer through and through and with the combat experience to match it. Plus if you force him to descend to something so prosaic as personal combat his wrath would be something to behold. In his command Monarchia has sheltered and supported the Graven Star since the Great Crusade when it was top of the line and brand new. He could be a real power broker in the chapter if he cared to be, but he seems content to go where asked and fight fiercely for whomsoever is at the head of the chapter without sullying himself with the politics. Worth watching, but probably reliable come what may. Ah... Look to port, the rest of the fleet is just coming out of the shadow of that moon..."

(Murder Class) Oblivion's Embrace; Blessed Lady; (Slaughter Class) Morningstar; Covenant of Truth

"That quartet of vessels are the backbone of the fleet. Solid, reliable gunships built for trading direct blows with the enemy. I know the Captain's of Morningstar and Blessed Lady fairly well for mortals but am less familiar with... hmm? Oh empty night no, most of our fleet is captained and crewed entirely by mortals, you think we're wasting full bretheren on those roles? No no no, while there might be legionairres garrisoned aboard for transport and to counter boarding actions the captaincy rests in mortal hands. Some are little more than brains subsumed into awareness tanks, others still walking and talking unaltered humans. All have sworn mighty oaths to Saeperath personally and personally bear the consequences of failure. See what I mean about him having the means to be a powerbroker? The fleet owes allegiance to him first, not Lord Khoura..."

Carnadon (Acheron class); Destiny's Hand (Hades class); Violation of Reason (Carnage class)

"We've seen the workhorses, well there are the thoroughbreds. Carnadon under Malia Ismarrk is well named. A cautious, lurking predator, holding back to deliver the unseen deathblow until the throat of the enemy is exposed. Destiny's Hand - I think her captain is called van Rook - is the polar opposite, a brawler, hurls herself into the middle of the fray and dares any to match her. And finally in that trio the Violation of Reason. Captain Cynentan - an Imperial renegade - does not get enough credit. Carnage class commissions will never be flashy, but I have never known the woman to have her vessel anywhere but the exact place to support the rest of the fleet with her guns. Admirable and worth watching. A contained ego is to be cultured in the fleet."

Mortis Lux (Styx Class); Altemeyer's Revenge (Devastation class)

"Why are you ducking, they're our attack craft you idiot. Merely Lakack's pilots welcoming us home in classic fashion. The Altemeyer's Revenge* is full of over-eager, show-off fighter jockeys desperate to move up to the more illustrious Mortis Lux or even Monarchia herself if they show enough promise. Mortis Lux has the more steady hand of Captain Al Solaijern on the tiller, drills and more drills until recover, rearm and redeploy those craft better than any I've known in a long, long time."

Leaving Kairon to his monologing for a moment, it's worth talking about how nicely ItalianMoose designed the escorts for the chaos fleet. The wolf packs of piratical escorts should have more of a rag tag feel than their Imperial cousins and he's done that nicely by having a few iterations of each design. Gives a little variety and keeps things fresh. In the lore I've got it that each squadron is effectively a little fleet under a captain that owes feality to Saeperath. That way I don't have to name 27 tiny escorts. Instead squadrons Requiem, Violator, Inexorable, Ravager and Fellclaw are the Idolator class frigates. Incisor and Khanjar squadrons are the piratical raiders in their Infidel class vessels. Finally we have Carrion and Dominion squadrons in their Iconoclast class torpedo boats. All very much beneath Kairon's notice but I thought we should pay them their due. And yes... I do know the designated captains of each squadron, everyone is named... I've got problems. 

Monolith of Woe formerly Acheron class Daemonship

You know that whole "when life gives you lemons" thing? Well when print errors give you a less than perfect ship, make a daemonship! By the simple means of gluing a bloodletter face to the bridge and adding a bunch of sculpting putty spooky flames I had a nicely differentiated daemonship for the occasional scenarios I might want one. That Hexwraith Flame green glow has been the mark of the "something etheral going down" for the entire Chaos army so it's nice to have it here too. I'm pretty sure Kairon will have opinions on this one though so lets tune back in to him shall we?

"No, no, for once in space trust your eyes, that really is there, never mind what the auspex tells you. You see the fleet is haunted. Yes I meant haunted. We have no idea what that vessel was, it's colours and the ghosts of it's aura tell us it is indeed of our legion. But no-one has been able to identify the original vessel. We're pretty sure it's an Acheron, but we've accounted for all the XVIIth legion Acherons. It seems to be following us for some reason and has been for a good count of decades. We can't compel or contain it, so that indicates a hive rather than a single occupying entity... a confounding mystery. But when it arrives it assists so we cannot complain overmuch. Indeed, so much superstition has now grown up around what we have taken to calling the Monolith of Woe that should it leave I dare say it would do us some ill. For my part I am experimenting with calling packs of the neverborn from it's hull where daemonic allies would serve us. All signs point to positive results there... especially when we use our destination, ahhhh, just look at it:

Kairon's Eye, Repulsive Class ritual ship

"This is my pride and joy. Kairon's Eye. Designed by my own hand, well, altered anyway, and constructed at my whim in the shipyards of Sicarus. You would scarcely credit the resources and favours I needed to bring to bear to craft this beauty. Hmm? Ah, yes, the Eye. It is a ritual device designed to focus and thin the veil between realms wherever it's shadow falls. If only we had had this at Lachesis... But it is here now and thus our immortal allies will aid us far more readily than ever before. And with it my design shall be complete..."

This is where we hit the point of true obsession... so yeah, not content with just using the ships available, I took an existing design available for remixing and did some designing with Fusion to make the flagship of my favourite egomaniac, the Sorcerer Orcus Kairon. I liked the idea of having a narrative justification for starting to use the chaos demons allies now that they can't just be summoned. 

In game it will count as a Repulsive class grand cruiser and in my head is mostly servitor and posessed crewed. Kairon's ego won't want too many dissenting voices after all...

And that's that! If you made it through all this slightly self-indulgent lore then congratulations, you owe yourself a cookie. And thank you, all this stuff lives rent-free in my head so it's fun to share with everyone. Plus once you've painted a ridiculous 3500+ point chaos fleet it deserves some dense lore to go with it. Would love to hear about readers fleets. Lets keep the cult of BFG alive. Who knows, we might even get a new edition one of these days... Until next time, lovely people


*Altemeyer is Boris' surname and I wanted to honour him in the fleet as the founder of the feast as it were. In my headcanon, Altemeyer docks was a Word Bearer allied dock destroyed by the Salamanders remnants (one of Boris' armies) in the Great Crusade.


  1. Dear Jeff,

    Congratulations on your awesome, awesome fleet!

    I always love to hear about Orcus Kairon - he is my favourite egomaniac in the Bunker, bar none. I imagine his voice oozing (warranted) confidence and smugness, a mile wide. Even Charlie´s Scions or Tom Nightfallers cannot match his sheer charisma as a character. "Evil that revels on itself, that corrupts others" indeed :-)

    When I think of Word bearers and Chaos in general I think of your people. It is pleasant to have someone marry the sensibleness, politics and realistic military constraints a viable Astartes force demands (logistics, funding & C3, folks!), while capturing the eerie and over-the-top elements Chaos & Demons bring to 40K.

    Your writing on demon engines & daemonseeds? Fiercely canon in my head, now. One of the best bits of lore I have ever read.

    Formerly captain anonymous (Charlie Knows), back again. I have been reading the Bunker gems weekly for 3 years, and I have to say this is my favourite place on the Internet. Keep doing (the Chaos) god´s work, loevely people :-)

  2. Indulgent? Perchance. Glorious? Absolutely.

    I've always been a sucker for Chaos fleets, even built a small one of my own to go with my Oldhammer Night Lords. Like you I went for "name the squadron" when it came to escorts, hence the Infidels designated Unforgiven I, II and III. With the Harvester of Sorrows (Acheron class, always loved that weird ship) as flagship, Exit Light / Enter Night as carriers, and the Slaughter Daemonship Leper Messiah. (It was a bit to which I was forced to commit, after all my mentor in void warfare likes to name things after Nightwish songs...)

    That fleet's moved on along with its parent army, but every so often I hear the void calling to me... and my current Kill Team games all take place on the space hulk Kaisarion. It... might be time for some new vessels. New references.

    That Daemonship is sweet as hell, error being the mother of invention, and I entirely endorse naming all your ship captains, aspiring champions and other middle managers of the damned. Part of the fun, innit?

    1. 100% agreement there Von, it's the real joy for me, telling the little stories behind my lil' plastic mens. And yes, do eeeeet return to the void! Joiiiiiin usssss


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