Inside My Mind: Disciples of Twilight & Khorne Daemonkin

I’m a hobbyist. I don’t have the time I once did to sit down, create cool models, and paint them, but I do have plenty of time to think through my army’s fluff during my 45 minute work commute. I thoroughly enjoy creating fluff for my armies. For those who haven’t seen, here’s a bunch of stuff on Disciples of Twilight, my Chaos Space Marines. It’s safe to say that I have thousands of lines of fluff committed to digital paper at this point, and I put value in what I’ve created.

I see what I do with my armies in 40K like I would a character in an RPG. It’s a living, breathing thing that has its own story, agenda and goals independent of my own. I guide and oversee the development, but I do not govern it. Where this plugs into the actual game of 40K is when it comes time to create a list. I don’t see my list for a game as just that, a list for a game. I instead see my army marshaling together to battle an opponent, and the potential for some great stories to be told. The composition of my army has value beyond its strategic and tactical value in the game. How my army is represented is all-important to its fluff, which again, I enjoy and value.

I’ll start driving to the point before I lose anyone, though this article is more ethereal than most, and I blame no one who decides to bail out at this point. Disciples of Twilight are an undivided Chaos warband. They take favor from any and all of the Chaos Gods. I don’t mind playing them as Khorne for the sake of Khorne Daemonkin. I see that as having curried favor from Khorne, not that they dedicated themselves to it. Alternatively, I see marks and allegiance as stylistic, a way to represent units in a manner more suited to my style, not always as a God’s blessing. However, the way I’ve structured the fluff for my army prevents me from running them as actual Daemonkin. See, Disciples of Twilight must be led by a Disciple of Twilight, not a Bloodthirster or Herald of Khorne. They may align themselves with Khorne, but they are not led by Khorne, or specifically seeking to bring about Khorne’s warriors as Daemonkin would. The way I have played Khorne Daemonkin with my Chaos Marines, in a fluffy way, is that their actions bring about the Daemons, not that they go to war specifically beside them. The result of this is that it impacts how I build a KDK list, and really limits my options. I’m a firm believer in playing an army to its fluff, and not forcing fluff to justify a list. Generally that’s intended to mean not creating cheesy armies with allies that don’t make sense to create powerful lists, and then justifying it with some lame fluff, or something to that effect. To me though, that includes how I’ve created my army’s fluff. Basically, I’m trying to stay in character.

I have also looked at allying in Khorne Daemonkin, but I start running into similar issues. If I were to ally KDK then what I fielded would need to be Daemons only. From a gaming perspective, I refuse to play my Disciples of Twilight as both Chaos Space Marines and Khorne Daemonkin. It would be confusing to say that the dudes that are all painted the same belong to two different armies. I once played a guy who did that, played three codices, and every model was painted the same. It was extremely confusing and aggravating. I’m also not going to buy units that I already own just to paint them red. I seriously thought about it but I’m just not up for the extra work. That means each army, CSM and KDK, needs a distinction on the table and that means playing KDK with just Daemons. I’m all for doing that, but that means buying a lot more Daemons. The problem there is that I would rather spend my money to bulk up my CSM army instead of Daemons or KDK. My army is Chaos Space Marines with an option to play as Khorne Daemonkin, and I just feel I’ll get more bang for my buck investing in CSM instead, especially if that new codex is ever going to come out.

The short version of all of this would be to say that I’m a fluffy gamer, and that fluffiness extends to what I’ve already established for my army’s background. I can’t play 40K and not invest in my armies by creating stories and characters. That’s just part of the hobby for me. Putting down models and having no attachment to them beyond their use in the game is alien to me. If I could do that then I have no doubts I would be a better gamer. However, I would rather create my stories, breathe life into my army, than win a few more games.

Any other 40K players out there who put fluff above army list?

  • I don’t do it in quite the same way, or to quite the same extent, but yeah, fluff really drives several of my Armies. Others, like my Necrons, are more purely competitive, and I’ll run whatever I need to make them work in-Game, but my Crimson Thunder Marines, my Phrygian IG, and much of my Chaos stuff is very strongly fluff-driven.

    That said, there are sometimes situations where my fluff clashes with something I want to do Rules-wise, and that often leads to some of my more ridiculous Conversions. My Flesh Hounds are a good example. I really wanted to incorporate them into my Chaos Marines, as something that starts on the table with them, but I never liked the idea of Daemons starting out alongside CSM, rather than getting Summoned in (whether via actual Summoning mechanics or just Deep Striking them). And my Khorne Army pretty much started around the idea of a Mad Scientist-type WarpSmith* who’s obsessed with bio-mechanical creations. So I got a bunch of Vampire Counts Dire Wolves and a bunch of mechy bits, and built a bunch of things that function as Flesh Hounds on the table, but fluff-wise are some kind of wolf-like Xenos that the CSM killed and re-built, as much machine as beast.

    That was before the actual DK list came out, so I needed some Blood Letters to unlock them. Since those I could leave to Deep Strike, they’re actual Blood Letters, drawn through the Warp by the carnage wrought by the Machines That Kill. After DK came out, and I had the option to Summon Flesh Hounds via the Blood Tithe, I picked up a Unit of 5 actual Flesh Hounds, so it was easier to tell them apart from the ones that started on the board. Again, those represent actual Daemons that just kind of show up, rather than a part of the Warband as such.

    OK, that got kind of long and rambly. Sorry. Have a good one!

    *This is one of a couple of reasons I’m annoyed that DK don’t get WarpSmiths.

    • I see I’m not alone in this extensive thought process on army composition and representation. That’s exactly the sort of thing I’ll think about and work through. Its can be aggravating at times. It would be easier to have no barriers, and not let seemingly little things bog you down, but ultimately I enjoy it and the cool stuff it can lead to, like what you did with your Hounds.

      I’m annoyed that KDK has such limiting HQ options, period. I was going through the CSM book the other day and they have 12 HQ choices. KDK has 7, and really 3 of them as more-or-less the same, Bloodthirsters. I enjoy the codex, but as a whole it’s very thin.

      • My local group is talking about starting to do some serious House Ruling, and one of the big things I want to do if we really get into it is fill out the DK a bit. WarpSmiths, Dark Apostles, Kharne, Karanak, Skarbrand, Mutilators, let the Hellbrute Formations be taken as DK instead of CSM, probably a couple more things I’m forgetting.

        • The lack of those units confounds me. I can see why not Warpsmith, as much as I love mine, but no Dark Apostles, Karnak, Skarbrand, and Mutilators? I just don’t get it. Same with any of the CSM formations, they should be udpated for KDK. I see no reason to not house rule those in.

        • Michael Schreiner

          My core group of gaming buddies does a bit of this already. I play KDK and also feel the limitations of missing units and HQ choices that would allow me to flesh out the fluff of my army more. Thankfully we play to have fun, so occasionally I play an unbound list that suits my fluff. We’ve known each other for ~25 years so no one exploits playing unbound and we all understand the reasons behind why we do it.

          • I have no issues with Unbound when it’s not abused. It’s an awesome way to create really themed and fluffy lists, and I really should start looking at it for that reason now I mention it.

  • Castigator

    To thine own self be true….Brother!
    I hear you Thor. I stick religiously to the background of my army. It doesn’t make for the easiest of games, but it’s the roleplaying element that has kept me interested in 40k for all these years. The background is pretty much all that is left in 40k from a roleplaying point of view, so for me at least, that is more important than a win/loss ratio.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with someone who goes to a tournament to place as high as they can using what ever armies they deem best, I like my tournaments just as much as the next person. I just prefer background or theme to take priority over efficiency.
    For a while I embraced the more competitive side of the game, I won a few tournament and I enjoyed it immensely (who doesn’t like winning?), but after a couple of years, I found the game dull and repetitive. I packed away my Witch Hunters and Eldar and thought about giving up on the game altogether.

    Fortunately for me, a mate felt the same way, so we dug out our first armies and devised a campaign that we could play with our Chaos Space Marine armies. Our first campaign was a small affair that used the Assault On Black Reach rules in the back of the rulebook. We had such a blast creating a story and developing the background of our rivalry that it was two days after our final battle before we had realised who had won…..imagine that, we were so engrossed in the continuation of our story that we forgot to work out who had won! If I hadn’t written out a battle report of it, Slaanesh knows when we’d have realised.

    Anywho, I totally understand how and why you build the lists you do, because I build mine pretty much the same way. But it’s always good to mix thinks up, so when that one tournament has a qualifying stage and I have to finish in the top half of an event, I often include more efficient choices rather than my usual crew. Fortunately, renegade Chaos Space Marine Chapters usually have more than one company (or Cohort in my case) and there’s nothing wrong with developing the 4th company’s background when the need arises ;-)

    • I made a horrible attempt at competitive gaming once. By horrible I mean I tried, but I still fell short, and in trying I began becoming jaded. I quickly realized it just wasn’t my nature.

      That’s awesome with the campaign. That’s the stuff I absolutely love. Campaigns have always been my favorite element in 40K. Even when I do poorly, I still have stories to tell and my army develops even more. In my opinion, it’s what 40K was meant to be, a narrative setting.

      On the note of additional companies, do you paint them differently, or is it just a mental acknowledgement?

      • Castigator

        Apart from the Noise Marines, they have the same colours as the rest of the Chapter, although some units still use the loyalist yellow shoulder pads as opposed to the bone coloured shoulder pads that they have evolved into.
        My first Cohort (1st company if you will, although their structure is more like the Black Templars than a Codex Marine Chapter) is pure Slaanesh, as is the 5th & 6th cohorts. The 3rd & 4th Cohorts are a mix of Slaanesh and unmarked Chaos units.
        The 2nd cohort however, is ruled by my Sorceror Lord who is the stabilising influence upon my Chapter, as such he has no Mark of Chaos and the vast majority of his cohort are unmarked. This is the cohort that has the widest choice of units, as the Sorceror Lord is prepared to use anything (and everyone) to assure his position as the Chapter’s ‘Kingmaker’. His latest acquisition is a stolen Greater Brass Scorpion taken from the Skullcollectors Warband. With the ‘right’ encouragement, even the daemon engines of Khorne can be made to serve his purpose ;-)
        Being a Chapter that has pledged it’s allegiance to Slaanesh, my Castigators can have a varied colour scheme, but apart from Noise Marines and my Possessed, they follow the Chapter colour scheme of Imperial Purple with gun-metal trim and bone coloured shoulder pads.

        Of course, the beauty of Chaos is that you can do whatever you like, but I just thought it might be worth mentioning that a company within your Disciples of Twilight might very well follow a different path to damnation/enlightenment than the majority of your Chapter ;-)

        • Gotcha.

          The stories you give your characters, units, and the army as a whole, is a big reason I follow your blog. The fact they are painted awesome is a nice touch too :)

          Good point on having the ability to break up the army. It’s something I’ve never really thought about with CSM. Marines have their companies, and the fallen Legions have their own individuality (Cohorts, Warbands, etc), but little is really said about structure as a whole with Chaos. I very well picture they all do their own thing, not like they are adhering to Codex Astartes or anything, but I never gave it a ton of thought.

          • Castigator

            Cheers buddy, it’s pretty much the same reason I follow yours ;-)

            I find it deliciously perverse that a Chapter that follows Slaanesh would go to every measure possible to keep the structure that they had when they were loyal lapdogs!
            I can imagine a lot of renegade Chapters struggling to maintain coherency as the years pass, some will fragment and follow their own path, while others forge new bonds of Brotherhood in their adversity or overcome their differences by keeping like minded followers within the same company/warband to share a common experience while still holding a valued position within the Chapter.

            • True enough.

              I haven’t advanced my story much at all lately. We have a one day campaign coming up this month, hence all this thought process, and I’m hoping to get back to it.

  • stats

    I’m not a gamer but I need to give a sense to my collection (or at least to the few minis I prefere keep for me): surely I put fluff, it is one of the best thing to do with my army. Lol maybe I’m a bit oot, but yes, there are also painters-not-gamers that like to fluff their army (at least one)!

    • 40K seems to have a fair amount of painter and collectors who don’t game, or rarely get to game. I think it’s great that there’s so much to do with 40K that you can get into it and not even play.

  • I love writing background stories to my models and even to the games I actually play. I often try to link both games and characters battle to the next, creating a story arc that makes sense. This part of the hobby is very important to me. And creating armies is reflected by this.

    I play an old chaos warband, not heresy old but a couple of millenia old. This means veterans of the long war on many units and gift of mutation on all champs. I also embrace the fact that in my view chaos space marines are led by powerful champions, this means tooling them up even if it’s not the best way of spending points. I have also pledged to myself to always bring chaos space marines in my list, sometimes alot, sometime just few.

    Furthermore, the warband’s background excludes me from using the supplements (Black Legion, too old, and Crimson Slaughter, too young). I’ve tried to make lists especially with CS but I just end up feeling untrue to the background and like I’m trying to make them into something they are not. It feels a bit like cheating actually.

    Khorne Deamonkin is pretty much the same, but maybe even more wrong. My warband is pluralistic. Mono God doesn’t cut it.

    • And here I thought I was the only one who did this. It’s great to see such an outpouring of comments like this, and see there’s far more of us than I realized.

      I’m completely with you on the feeling like you’re cheating. I feel that way a lot when I try certain things that aren’t true to my warband. It’s why I generally refrain from posting lists here. I mean, I have some here, but I assure you I write far more than I show. Anyway, I just don’t feel that the majority of readers (and I could be wrong), follow suit on the whole fluffy army thing that I enjoy and try to adhere to. In turn, getting feedback about something being non-optimal, or use this unit because it’s better, is not exactly what I’m after.

      That being said, considering the crowd here, and the comments to this, I may very well be wrong, and indeed have a community that does know the struggle. The next time I put up a list I will have to explain it in terms of fluff as well as strategic concept and see how that goes.

      • I too write a lot of lists but since I’m not really into competitive gaming I only post the lists I bring to a game. But with that said I would really enjoy reading list motivated by fluff and cool models.

        • I’m mostly the same way, though I will also share ones that are a change of pace for me, something different to try.

  • Great post! I do this as well. Hard core. Whilst I’m working on a particular model I always think about who they are, why they fight, where they’ve been and where they will go. It really helps keep my mind focused and leads to lots of fun little details. The best example is my Queen Bee Knight. She’s got all kinds of half-hidden things like her eagle egg nest, broken and repaired bits of chassis, trophies of war and the pilot’s chain ladder and kit stored up under the shoulder armor. For my marines, their concept has changed and evolved a great deal over the years. There’s cultural tension within the chapter, established relations with other branches of the Imperium, even illicit deals with a borderline heretekal Magos. Their homework and that of the native people has been pretty well explored as well, lending flavor to the art and traditions of the marines.

    I would never in a million years field an army that didn’t feel natural within the complicated and nuanced environment of my chapter’s history. It’s even had a big influence on the sorts of projects I take on.

    • That’s awesome, storing so much small detail like that in the Knight. Sounds like some great fluff as well for the Marines. That’s the stuff I enjoy reading and seeing people talk about, their army being something beyond the models they push around.

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