Index Astartes: Riven Lords

Riven Lords

'Of those Chapters which fought alongside the Abomination Unto Him-on-Terra, there were few who proved themselves as immediately and totally dedicated to the cause as the Riven Lords. 
That their otherwise admirable zeal translated itself not into short-lived but honourable pyrrhic sacrifice, but instead into a drawn-out abandonment of their duty; the accepted methods of modern Imperial warfare; and ultimately their commonality with humanity, is a reminder of the perils of wavering from the truth as dictated by the High Lords.'
[//Asmo Condites, Naval attaché to the Senatorum Imperialis+]

[//A skilled tactician and brutal hand-to-hand combatant, Commander Iakovos of the 5th Company was noted for his utter loyalty to Volnoscere, even among the devotees of the Riven Lords. As such, Iakovos bore the Caputmori rather than the emblem if his Chapter, proclaiming his allegiance to the Primarch first, and his Chapter second.+]

Warcry  Formerly 'Blood in the void!', the Riven Lords adopted a new warcry following their dedication to the False Primarch; their attacks now punctuated by the cry 'Believe in gods again!'

Cognomen  Murder Corps [//disclaim/derog. term; coined by Orthodox forces late in the war as the Chapter's morals and soldiery evinced degradation.+]

Founding  Third [+//001.M32/]

Gene-Seed  [abjunct:QUERY?] [//posit incerta:/jaghati_k/+] 

Successor Chapters  [//None recognised+]

Chapter Master  Toth, Julijos [//epithetVAL=TRUE: 'Lord Commander', 'Captain of Scylla’s Wrath'/+] Young by the standards of the office of Chapter Master, Toth demonstrated his mettle in several xenocidal campaigns and would lead his chapter through the violence of the War with ferocity increasing in inverse correlation to his control over his Chapter. The swathes of death following the  many assaults he led cemented him as a legendary figure amongst the many bloody-handed warlords who cemented their fame – or infamy – during the conflict.

[//Julijos Toth, Lord Commander of the Riven Lords. This woodcut – typical of the grand Icathan discipline – was distributed across the planet's settlements on his election to office. That Toth approved the action illustrates his Chapter's peculiarly respectful relationship with their adopted recruiting worlds' inhabitants. Later events would come to eclipse this memory.+]

Homeworld  Though formerly fleet-based, resource scarcity saw former Lord Commander Ostroth claim a world to act as the Chapter’s home. Recorded to have declared that this action would be 'with or without the approval of the distant Lords of Terra', this unilaterial decision demonstrated the emphasis the Chapter culture put on personal initiative – and their attitude towards central command. 

[//Icathus_//Tithegrade=Solutio Tertius/+]

This world would be Icathus, a forested world inhabited by numerous tribes whose technological level placed the world firmly as a Feudal World – and backwards even by these terms; the inhabitants barely having grasped ironwork. This world would never bear the Chapter’s Fortress Monastery, but would be a valuable well of recruitment nonetheless, its tribesmen being of hardy constitution and belligerent temperament. Unusually for a Chapter world, Icathus was not declared Aptus non for its tithe – likely owing to the planet never being formally recognised as the Chapters demense.

Fortress Monastery  As usual for fleet-based Chapters, the Riven Lords used a vessel in place of a traditional ground-based Fortress. A sleek design dating back to the Great Crusade, Scylla’s Wrath belongs to the Corinus-class of Grand Cruisers, void hunters capable of matching the more conventional Battle Barge blow for blow. The craft was the subject of numerous Chapter legends and superstitions, and Icathan recruits were encouraged to revere their craft as an avatar of the planet's many matriarchal cults; transferring their faith in an earth goddess directly to Scylla's Wrath – much to the distaste of the local Ecclesiarchy. 

As the War of the False Primarch entered its third stages, ‘Mother Scylla’ had forged a dark reputation of her own. Rumours of a dreadful hunter’s call were fast becoming the stuff of nightmares for Orthodoxy forces, echoing through the halls of many a vessel found drifting dead and crewless through the night. Such rumours were viciously persecuted by the agents of the Ordo Redactus – predictably resulting in them springing up anew elsewhere amongst the superstitious Imperial Navy crews.

Appearance  A rich blue-tinged green made up the majority of the Chapter's plate, surmounted by warm bronze on the chest eagle – swiftly replaced by the Caputmori during the war – and the pauldrons. For unranked Battle Brothers, the faceplate of the helmet remained the same colour as the rest of the armour, while Sergeant and officers were granted leeway to render their faceplate the same bronze as the pauldrons.

Using various standard Codex squads markings, the Riven Lords' Chapter symbol was a stylised curve, struck through with a wavering line. A variety of additional markings and honorifics existed and changed throughout the war; frequently. Amongst the most notable were key designs wrapping around the left shin, marking an Astartes who had served as garrison commander. These were originally painted on, and later replaced by a chain wrapped in the same area; perhaps a wry assessment of the restraint Astartes felt themselves under while stationed planetside.

[//Official colour plate Chapter Astartes='Riven Lords'+]

The knees were reserved for campaign sigils. These were many and varied, and commemorated campaigns alongside other Partisans. Marine who had served with the Wormwood Sons on Cambyses Primary, for example, bore an encircled triskele design on their left knee. Those rare few who had witnessed the 'Primarch' in action during the Machinedeath won the right to display the Silver Star itself.

Riven Lords were highly adaptable and resourceful, and the Chapter made a virtue of preparation. Additional equipment and armament such as chain bayonets, greandes or extra bolt shells were commonly strapped to pauldrons or reinforced thighplates. Such carrying of extra munitions was common among the Riven Lords, as they could rarely count on consistent resupply should their personal reserves run dry.


Partisan proselytes

Prior to the events of the War, the Chapter were noted by their Ordo Astartes observers for their unceasing vigil of the outer reaches of the Segmentum Pacificus, their zeal for battle against the Alien, and the 'personal nobility and reserve' of their officer cadre. Early records of the Chapter make extensive mention of the Chapter’s prideful approach, likening their tactics and bearing to the Legions of old. 

For centuries after their founding, the Riven Lords fastidiously patrolled the frontier assigned to them. From their flagship, Scylla’s Wrath, successive Lord Commanders had long dictated the Chapter’s actions. Alongside the more targeted system-picketing typical of fleet-based Chapters, the Riven Lords demonstrated a sense of restlessness in their unceasing prowling of the wastes and expanses of wilderness space. To their actions alone can be attributed the destruction of nearly a score of minor Xenos species which had the temerity to exist too close to what the Riven Lords considered the pale of the Imperium of Man. 

[//The Primarch calls and we obey.+]

The Chapter’s military campaigns became notable for deploying their forces at full Company strength, and for the number – and quality –  of their warships. Oblitus Vega, the sectorial Naval Base, infrequently hosted returning Chapter craft for repair and rearmament, but its Commandery nevertheless reported that the Riven Lords possessed 'far greater numbers of warp-capable vessels than their brother Chapters in the region'. Whether this claim was true, or the near-inevitable politicking of backwater Imperial officials for additional support and resources is unclear. What is obvious is that the Riven Lords possessed a substantial and powerful fleet prior to the War of the False Primarch – though frustratingly to Orthodox forces, and to the Pentarchy of Blood's counter-Astartes strategists, determining the true extent of the Riven Lords' fleet proved impossibly nebulous.


Strength, weakness, and adaptation

The Chapter's fleet-based nature and the far-flung realm that served as their domain would prove to be a nagging thorn in the Chapter’s side – and one that threatened to lead to a terminal decline. Some decades prior to the arrival of the False Primarch, the Riven Lords were drained. Lacking a homeworld at which to resupply, centuries of restless and isolated patrols – followed by the recent had drained the Chapter’s resources and left their once-proud fleet a shadow of its former self. Constant appeals to Terra for reinforcements, or to be granted a Chapter World from which to recruit and upon which to place any support infrastructure, seemed to fall on deaf ears, leaving the Riven Lords the masters of a decaying and failing realm.

After decades of chafing at his superiors, Third Company Commander Julijos Toth took it upon himself to do what the High Lords – and his own Chapter Command – apparently would not. He directed his portion of the Riven Lords’ fleet to the Feudal world of Icathus. Claiming the planet as the Chapter’s due, he and his men crushed the feeble resistance put up by the world’s residents who – loyal to the Imperium though they were – were loath to cede planetary governance to the Adeptus Astartes. 

While Toth stated the action to be 'necessary for the continued survival of the Chapter', it directly contradicted the orders of the Adeptus Terra. Word would inevitably make it to the Throneworld; but in the interim, Toth anticipated internal censure from his superiors. Resolved to his cause, Toth was prepared to surrender to his Chapter Master. Reasoning that his sacrifice was a small price to pay for the continuation of the Chapter, he resigned himself to execution or expulsion. Far from the punishment that he anticipated, however, Toth instead found Chapter command standing lockstep with him; refusing to hand him over when the Ordo Astartes' short-term extradition order was presented. Instead, the Chapter Master himself volunteered to travel to Terra to plead Toth's case. He was never to return. 

Some fifteen years passed before news of the Chapter’s conquest reached Terra, and the High Lords declared the Riven Lords formally censured. The Riven Lords were ordered them to undertake a penitent crusade for their actions, and to return Icathus to official Administratum jurisdiction. Understanding the nature of their political decapitation, the Riven Lords accepted their Chapter Master's death and defiantly declared Toth as their new Chapter Master.

[//This pict capture shows Brother Ahirom of the Riven Lords in combat upon the surface of the Feral World of Icathus. While the final fate of Ahirom is unknown, he is presumed lost, alongside the majority of his Chapter, with the world's destruction by the forces of the Red Talons.+]


Crusade and realignment

It was while on this crusade that the Riven Lords are believed to have encountered the Silver Stars, unwittingly making first contact with the supposed returned Legion. As the Riven Lords' fleet scoured the Segmentum, seeking to prove itself to the Imperium, they were hailed by an unknown vessel, offering assistance to the visibly damaged Riven Lords craft. 

Understandably suspicious, but in no position to turn down potential aid, Toth docked his Battle Barge with that of the Silver Stars, going aboard to meet his would-be savior. What transpired upon the Silver Star's flagship remains unknown, but upon his return to the Scylla’s Wrath he pledged his Chapter entirely to the Primarch’s cause, and soon smaller ships bearing the four-pointed star of the 'Legion' were docking with the Riven Lords' ships, unloading much-needed arms and armor for the beleaguered warriors. 


Pre-War Organisation and Tactics

With regards to organisation, for the most part the Riven Lords were a traditional ‘Codex’ Chapter of Adeptus Astartes, split into ten companies; each nominally consisting of one hundred Marines and associated support staff. The roles of these companies were as laid out in Roboute Guilliman’s masterwork, with the 1st Company standing as a Veteran Company – dubbed The Fatemakers – Companies 2 through 4 being Battle Companies, and the remainder of the Chapter’s Astartes were organized into Reserve Companies.

Rather than a centralised fleet, each company possessed its own small sovereign fleet, with the 1st and 2nd Companies each possessing a Battle Barge as their flagship. A third Battle Barge was formerly under the command of the 10th Company, acting as a basis of operations for recruitment and training, but this particular vessel – along with much of the 10th Company – was destroyed in some of the earliest inter-Astartes conflicts of the War of the False Primarch.

Each Company was led by a Commander, the term used by the Riven Lords to refer to their Captains. The Commanders relied upon guidance provided by a 'command cadre', consisting of their hand-picked Lieutenants, the Company Chaplain and a Librarian. Their veterans and honour guard were also often invited to offer advice; although this was not formalised. 

[//subident-rank: Chief Librarian – citation needed. The figure is notable for the Tactical Dreadnought Armour; vanishingly rare amongst Orthodoxy reports of the Riven Lords.+]

Ultimately, the Commander exercised absolute control within the Company, their will challenged by none. Only in cases in which the Chapter Master, referred to as the Lord Commander, chose to exert his will did the Commanders bend the knee. As befitted their fleet-based structure and the large volume which they were expected to defend, each Company acted largely independently, with their respective Commanders determining to which warzones they would deploy.

Within the company, hierarchy was simple: the Commander delegated responsibilities to their Lieutenants, who in turn delegated to squad Sergeants. It is only at the squad level that organisation with the Riven Lords differed from Codex standard, as the role of sergeant shifting between marines as squads fought out their own petty squabbles for command. This practice, while lamented by Chapter command, was one that no Commander or Lord Commander was fully able to eradicate. Indeed, many line Marines within the Chapter believed that it ensured that only the most capable were in charge of leading squads.
Tactically the Riven Lords were very much shaped by their status as a fleet-based chapter, with little focus placed on the armoured warfare utilized by many of their kin. It was not uncommon for the Astartes of the Chapter to be outfitted with boarding shields for close range shipboard combat, with many choosing to forgo their traditional bolters in favour of Astartes shotguns for additional close-range firepower. Ad-hoc squads wholly equipped in this way were colloquially referred to within the Chapter as 'Shieldbearers'. 

[//Riven Lords Shieldbearer Sergeant. Note key design on shin, marking this marine as an ex-garrison commander; and veteran markings on left knee.+]

The formerly widely-practised role of Breacher deployment was largely outmoded by this period, rendered unnecessary by the improvements in close protection offered by marks VI and VII armour over Crusade-era equipment, and the wider availabilty of specialised Tactical Dreadnought Armour within the Astartes more broadly. Within the Riven Lords, however, Breacher drills remained prominent – to the point that some Commanders chose to formalise this role, assigning Marines permanently to these formations and training them for the press of void combat to an even greater extent than their brethren within the Chapter. Terminators in the Riven Lords ranks were notable by their absence from Pentarchy mission reports; leading some to conclude that – whether owing to internal Chapter preferences or prosaically practical reasons of lack of supply – Tactical Dreadnought suits were only rarely utilised by the Riven Lords.

This focus on void combat also affected the ways in which the Riven Lords engaged in combat planetside. Due to their relative lack of armoured vehicles, when possible, conflicts were planned to occur within the confines of urban or Zona Mortalis where possible, where the Chapter's penchant for close range encounters could come to the fore. Because of this, the Riven Lords were renowned for making full use of their Chapter’s aerial and naval superiority in order to provide bombardments which forced their enemies into the zones in which their Shieldbearers and other close-range forces excelled.


War of the False Primarch Disposition

At the dawning of the War of the Primarch, the Riven Lords were one of the first to come to Volnoscere’s aid, as well as one of the first Chapters to find themselves in direct conflict with the Imperial forces of the Pentarchy. According to the Riven Lords' own accounts, Volnoscere treated the Riven Lords as secondary only to those Astartes of his own Silver Stars; and made extensive use of their fleets and individual squadrons to act as a staunch centre or to bolster Partisan merchant navy fleets. 

[// Riven Lords ambush on the Red Talon orbital cover, following the Firebreak onslaught at Qorabbas+]

Where Chapters like the Inheritors, Void Barons and Firebreak were understrength, recovering from ongoing xenocidal campaigns or simple recruitment shortages, the Riven Lords were well-provisioned and secure. This division of the Chapter, as well as the notoriously unreliable records of the era – in no small part due to their destruction by the forces of Inquisitor Brejak Cassels as the war raged on – has made it nigh impossible to ascertain hard numbers on the strength of the Chapter, but most estimates tend to place the strength of the Riven Lords at around nine hundred line marines, spread throughout the Partisan forces in deployments averaging a demi-company in size.

Apparently bolstered by their peculiar relationship with the Silver Stars, the Riven Lords were said to have the most extensive and powerful fleet assets amongst the Partisans. Possessing no fewer than three battle barges at the war’s outset – one of which was the venerable Scylla’s Wrath – in addition to at least a dozen strike cruisers and scores of smaller vessels, the naval capabilities of the Riven Lords were primarily limited by the number of Astartes within the Chapter rather than the number of vessels available to them.

This fleet presence gave the Riven Lords respect and credence among Partisan forces, particularly non-Astartes. This was partly owing to the simple fact that many merchant fleets simply would not have been able to function without their aid; and partly because the size of their fleet made them amongst the most visible of the Partisans to the populace, able to respond to distress calls from Partisan-allied worlds across the Delphurnean Reaches. 

Mention should be made that the Riven Lords were not limited to the void. Their ability to move rapidly and securely meant that many key battles, such as Copperveil Drift, the Salvation of Hlodava and the Cambyses Primary campaigns, were entrusted to Riven Lords ground forces, and the warriors of the Chapter made particularly strong bonds with the Red Fish, Marines Saturnine during this period. In particular, their service alongside the Firebreak during the Qorabbas Gambit earned them the ongoing support of this otherwise taciturn and shrouded Chapter.



The fleet strength of the Riven Lords was, however, not infinite. As the war dragged on, their widely-stretched fleet forces found themselves continually called upon for protection, dragged from pillar to post in attempting to hold wide stretches of the Delphurnean Reaches. The continual struggle wore down on the Riven Lords; already demoralised by the events of the Sundering of Arhunt's Gavel, began to feel the strain of holding back the massed Pentarchy and Extinction Fleets, and sorely aware that no reinforcement was possible from within the Chapter.

Squadrons that had triumphed against Orthodoxy naval craft early in the war found themselves outnumbered by continually-reinforced enemy, or outmatched by fresh Pentarchy fleet assets. Forced to rely on the meagre manufacturing capabilities of their newly-established homeworld and what few ships they could capture from the armies of the Pentarchy, the Riven Lords' fleet was ground down into a patchwork of rugged, if veteran, craft. 

It was as the war approached its midopoint that the true depths of the Riven Lords' determination would become known to the Imperium. The Chapter once known for its indomitable defence of the human inhabitants of the worlds of the Segmentum would, as their numbers dwindled, turn to the use of the mortal population to bolster their faltering numbers, hold ground and provide invaluable staying power to the battered Astartes forces of the Riven Lords. 

Lord Commander Toth made the fateful decision to formalise the oversight he had asked his Riven Lords to take over the numerous eager local militias keen to serve the Primarch. Initially, individual squads were deputised to advise and direct Guard officers, but the pressing need to keep Astartes in key positions on the front lines, rather than in garrisons that might not see combat at all, meant that this was soon reduced to details of two or three Astartes at most. Eventually, the long-neglected rank of Polemarchs, last seen in the post-Heresy period during the Great Scouring, was resurrected. 
[//Artisanal rendering of an unidentified Polemarch+]

Attached to a Guard or PDF force as commander, the Polemarchs and their charges were intended as a stop-gap measure, a way of lending steel to often newly-drafted and inexperienced forces. Their short-term success saw more and more of the Riven Lords' line gradually winnowed off to act in this manner – but with the Astartes frustrated and their charges brutalised by the impossible standards exacted by the Polemarchs, the promise of the experiment quickly soured.

Where a Polemarch's forces triumphed in planetary defence, they would frequently move to build upon their victories by seizing a local voidcraft and setting out to raid nearby Orthodox worlds. As things became desperate, the Polemarchs took more and more personal initiative, ignoring allies' orders to remain in place, and instead taking to the void, Toth tacitly justifying his wayward charges' decision by stating that 'a lone Astartes' experience would make more of a difference in movement than in stasis'. 

This erosion of discipline and standards; of ignoring orders and acting without oversight led almost inevitably to their forces being ground down by the simple principle of survival of the fittest. Worse was to come. By the end of the war, the Polemarchs had became little more than the warlords of piratical warbands of thugs and horrors. 



The situation become more pressing throughout the mid-war period, and voluntary recruitment began to dry up. Ruthlessly determined to prevent the loss of their beloved Primarch's hard-won territory, the Riven Lords began to capture auxiliary troops in brutal slave raids across Heliopolis, and later still, in Partisan territory. These troops proved to be far less reliable than the volunteer forces, and soon – seemingly abandoning all reason – the Chapter turned to proscribed technologies to ensure the obedience of their human chattel. Making full use of the limited resources at their disposal, the Apothecarion of the Riven Lords began to subject these mortals to rapid psycho-indoctrination procedures originally designed for use on Astartes initiates. These procedures proved unsuited for mortal physiology, but served the Chapter’s purpose, allowing them to rapidly create a force of mind-slaved human soldiers, devoid of emotions barring an all-consuming primordial rage, with which to continue their war against the forces of the Pentarchy. 

It was as a result of this that the discrete Fleet forces of the Riven Lords – Polemarch irregulars and Chapter assets alike – would become known as Reaver Fleets, or simply 'Reavers' amongst Orthodoxy and Partisan alike; a reference both to the Chapter’s name and the unthinkable acts that the once-noble chapter committed as the conflict dragged on.
Pirates. Slave-drivers. Generals. These were just some of the many names the Polemarchs were given by the lords of the Pentarchy and Extinction Armada. Hailing from the Riven Lords, these Space Marine officers served in the unique role of masters over human auxiliary forces serving under the Chapter. Highly independent, flexible by circumstance, and utterly consumed by blackest hate for the High Lords of Terra, the Polemarchs were warlords of the void, fighting those wars and battles oft-forgotten in this most terrible era.
[//Rictus Plio, Heliopolitan Historiographer General+]

The psycho-indoctrination had predictably deleterious effects on the bodies and minds of baseline humans, and in the closing days of the conflict, stories of indoctrinated soldiers suddenly surging forward in a tide of violence, muscles twisting unnaturally with hyper-testosterone, their weaponry all but forgotten, would spread throughout the sector. Despite their unreliability, these militias would serve to bolster the rapidly declining armies of the Partisan cause, though at the cost of uncounted mortal lives by the war’s end. Whole planets were left decimated in the wake of the Riven Lords' slaver attacks, their populations stolen by those who had once been their sworn protectors.


By the end of the war losses among the Riven Lords were near total. Of the nearly one thousand Marines who comprised the chapter at the onset of hostilities, fewer than two dozen survived the conflict, and of the survivors only a handful succeeded in escaping the prison holds of the Pentarchy. These few survivors undoubtedly found themselves condemned to lives of piracy, though what became of them cannot be fully known.