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The Nova Hawks Chapter

Brother Tyler

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This Chapter started life as the Vengeance Hawks (and you can see @SCC's rendition of a librarian based on the original color scheme here). The Chapter went through some revisions over the years, with the current incarnation here. The orange/black scheme you see in the first post of that discussion has since been shifted over to the Fireclaws (my rendition of the Relictors before they got into trouble). I eventually went back to the original scheme, sort of, by replacing the grey with silver. I have a kill team in the process of being painted, as seen here. That kill team is still in progress, though coming along nicely. I won't really be able to finish it until I get the weapons sculpted (read the linked topic for details). The Liber Challenge Part Seven provided the necessary impetus to work on the background material. Unfortunately, though I had grand plans, Real Life and Other Things got in the way. I've finished something ... presentable, but it is only a fraction of what I'd hoped to have done. It will have to do for now.

Warning: The article is in graphic format and is bandwidth-intensive. I've included thumbnails, but they link to the full size images (each over 1 Mb in size). So I don't recommend viewing this on mobile phones.

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Note that the images are interlaced, so if they look wrong on your screen, click the + (plus sign) so that your viewer increases them to full size.

The text version of this article can be seen here. Note that there are a few images in the article, and some of them are of substantial size, so mobile viewers might not like it.

Edited by Brother Tyler
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Nice job!

Really enjoyed reading this. How have you done those pages? With exceptional skill in Word or is it another program?


I liked those little Grey Knight bits. Haven't thought of something like that.

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Nice work. You've clearly put plenty of thought and effort into these. I like how you've woven them into the existing lore in a believable way. The only worry I have with those kind of things is the possibility that someone at GW or BL will write something that makes my lore 'wrong', but by using a lesser established event the chances of that are very low.


You've given the Chapter a personality of their own without making it too in your face which is a tough balancing act.


Gotta ask, on the first page you use a numeral for a Legion. I don't know if it's a typo or my eyes being funny. I think it should be XIII which would be Ultramarines but it also kinda looks like XIIII which would be XIV so Death Guard. Which one is it meant to be?

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FOUNDING: .................. M34





“ The Chapter must survive in eternal service to the Emperor. Let no battle-brother forget that his own welfare must be forever subordinate to that of the Chapter.”

Admonition of Geir Heltenblad,

Master of the Nova Hawks Chapter,

before his martyrdom

nce ascendant among the various Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, the Nova Hawks Chapter is one with a troubled history. They have since recovered from their setbacks, but remain outsiders.

Thought for the Day:
Suffer not the alien to live.
The Nova Hawks aren’t listed in the rolls of any known foundings, first appearing in late M34 when the Chapter submitted itself to Cardinal N’Kruma for service in the Ikarios Crusade. It is suspected that the Chapter may be the result of an amalgamation of older Chapters, but if so, the identity of those predecessors has never been revealed. Limited evidence leads some to conclude that the Chapter ultimately derives from the XIIIth Legion, but the Nova Hawks have never acknowledged the relationship.

The Nova Hawks follow their interpretation of the Codex Astartes dogmatically, and view any deviation by other Chapters as a mark of inferiority. This is combined with a strong Monodominant philosophy. The Nova Hawks’ lack of tolerance led to a number of ruthless purgings of heretics, and the Chapter established a reputation as a pitiless force that would utterly destroy those that turned from the Emperor’s Light.


The Chapter’s early alignment with the Ecclesiarchy led to it becoming part of Basillius the Elder’s puritas divisions in M37. In this role, the Nova Hawks were one of the Chapters that purged heretics in the name of the Ecclesiarchy and later forced compliance by some of the thirty Chapters that came to be known as the Judged. When the Judged embarked upon their crusade into the Eye of Terror, it was these puritas divisions Chapters that purged the homeworlds of those Chapters for which evidence of heresy and corruption later came to light. It was the exterminatus of the Vorpal Swords’ original Chapter world that served as the watershed event for the Nova Hawks, the act distancing the Chapter from other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes and serving as the catalyst for the Investus Incident.

Within the ranks of the Chapter, there had been concerns about the strength of the relationship with the Ecclesiarchy, and Basillius the Elder in particular. Though the Chapter served Basillius as part of his puritas divisions, the prelate refused all contact with the Adeptus Astartes and communicated via intermediaries. This aloofness was viewed as disrespectful at best, and subversive at worst, by many members of the Nova Hawks leadership. When Master Tor Spydsjef was killed in the Doäme Incursion, he was succeeded by Geir Heltenblad, one of the most vocal of those who questioned the motives of Basillius. As a result of Heltenblad’s leadership, the Chapter began to distance itself from Basillius and the Ecclesiarchy, forging its own path based on its warrior cult.

When the survivors of the Judged emerged from the Eye of Terror and confronted Basillius, revealing him to be a servant of Chaos, the Nova Hawks’ worst fears were realized. They now knew that they had been duped by the servant of Chaos and that they would face the wrath of their fellow Adeptus Astartes. Once the Vorpal Swords found their homeworld in ruin and determined the actors responsible for its destruction, they made haste with their allies to confront the Nova Hawks.

The survivors of the Abyssal Crusade entered the Investus system and immediately attacked the defense network of the Nova Hawks. They were only prevented from launching a full scale attack upon the Chapter world of Investus Prime by the intervention of Inquisitor Lord Teriq Ausar and the combined fleets of the Imperial Fists and Guardians of the Covenant Chapters.

The Inquisitor forced a cease-fire and announced that the vendetta would be settled by prœlium honorum – honour duel. Each of the factions would submit a champion, and the two champions would face each other in a duel to the death using ritual blades provided by the Inquisitor. The winner of the duel would earn the right to keep Investus Prime as its Chapter world. The loser would depart the Investus system, never to return. Each of the factions was given one day to comply.

Master Heltenblad retired to his private cell to meditate upon the decision. A half day later, he emerged with a solemn countenance. He claimed to have been visited by the Emperor during his meditation, granted a vision of his Chapter’s path into the future. He claimed that the current situation was a test and that the Chapter would emerge from this crucible stronger. Against the recommendations of his senior advisors, Master Heltenblad determined that he would serve as his Chapter’s champion. He presented his senior officers with a scroll he had penned while in the throes of his vision, indicating that they were to read it only upon the conclusion of the duel.

Heltenblad then embarked aboard a landing craft with a hand-picked bodyguard. Among the bodyguard was Mangår Blodære, Captain of the 5th Company. During the flight to the Inquisitor’s ship, Heltenblad informed Blodære that he would become the Chapter Master upon Heltenblad’s death. Blodære had been selected because he had the vision and ability to lead the Chapter into its future, a future where the Chapter would have psykers among its ranks. Initially, Blodære deferred, saying that Heltenblad could emerge victorious. At this, Heltenblad replied that he could, but that he would not. He explained that the Nova Hawks had to expunge the shame of being duped and make amends to their fellow Adeptus Astartes, and that the only way that could be accomplished at minimal cost was through his own life. Only by satisfying the vengeance of the Vorpal Swords could he ensure that the Nova Hawks would survive.

Upon reaching Inquisitor Ausar’s ship, Heltenblad faced Konvak Lann of the Vorpal Swords. The duel was supervised by Teriq Ausar from his command throne, flanked by contingents from the Imperial Fists and Guardians of the Covenant. Each of the warriors was similarly flanked by their entourage, each allowed to bring a half dozen compatriots to witness the duel and carry word of the outcome to their respective factions. Each of the champions then stripped down to breeches and, saluting his compatriots, entered the dueling arena.

On lineage and Names

While an aspirant is being tested, the Chaplains and Apothecaries will look for indicators of each candidate’s aptitudes and potential. The results of these trials will determine which gene-seed each aspirant will receive, and the gene-seed of the most heroic of the Chapter’s members is reserved for those whose tests indicate that they are most deserving.

Within the ranks of the Nova Hawks Chapter, a battle-brother’s gene-seed lineage is of paramount importance. Every battle-brother can trace his gene-seed heritage through the millennia back to the battle-brother that first carried that gene-seed. A neophyte’s training includes names and deeds of each of the battle-brothers who preceded him, and he will not become a full battle-brother until he can recite this history from memory. It is the shared responsibility of the Chaplains and the Apothecaries to prepare the neophytes and to test them, ensuring that they assimilate the lessons of their past as they are indoctrinated in the Chapter’s warrior cult.

Each battle-brother is identified by the name of the first bearer of his gene-seed, then by his own given name.

Heltenblad composed himself stoically. No one present could say what thoughts passed through his mind as he stood quietly, though a slight nod of his head indicated a salute of respect to his adversary. Lann, meanwhile, carried the stamp of hatred upon his features. He at last faced the leader of the Chapter that had destroyed the world of his birth, his Chapter world, and his thirst for revenge could not be contained.

After a few moments, Inquisitor Lord Ausar reiterated the rules and the stakes – none would interfere and the duel would end with the death of one of the champions. If Heltenblad fell, his Chapter would forfeit Investus Prime to the Vorpal Swords and depart upon a penitent crusade. If Lann lost, the survivors of the Judged would depart the Investus system for eternity. The outcome of the duel would serve as the Emperor’s judgment and none would dare violate His verdict. Once the two combatants acknowledged the inquisitor’s decree, Inquisitor Ausar pressed a button upon his command throne and two blocks descended from the ceiling. Within each block was a massive sword, commensurate in size to the Adeptus Astartes within the arena. Upon the sides of each of the blocks was the skeletal face of the Emperor Enthroned, each superimposed over the aquila of the Imperium. As the blocks settled upon the surface of the arena floor, the eyes of the skulls lit up a dull red, signifying that the swords could be taken from the blocks and the duel initiated. The champions, each a veteran of thousands of battles and centuries of warfare, reacted immediately and the duel was begun.

Lann grasped his sword and hurled himself at Heltenblad. The Master of the Nova Hawks assumed a defensive stance, calling Lann “Brother” and apologizing for his Chapter’s transgression, then intoning the traditional battle cry of the Chapter, “for the Emperor.” Unmoved, Konvak Lann launched a flurry of blows at his opponent. The furious combat lasted half a dozen minutes, the skilled adversaries each drawing blood while avoiding serious injury. At last, Geir Heltenblad drew himself up to his full height and saluted Konvak Lann with his blade, then lowered the weapon’s tip to the floor. Bellowing his own battle cry, Konvak Lann thrust his blade through the chest of Geir Heltenblad, mortally wounding the Master of the Nova Hawks. True to his word, Heltenblad fell in the duel.

With the loss of the duel, the Nova Hawks departed Investus embarked aboard their Chapter fleet, leaving the system to their opponents. Under the leadership of Master Mangår Blodære, the Nova Hawks departed upon a penitent crusade, following the path of the Judged into the Eye of Terror. In spite, Konvak Lann ordered that exterminates be enacted upon Investus Prime, announcing that he would not sully the lineage of his Chapter with the foulness of the Nova Hawks or their recruiting pool.


The Nova Hawks survived their penitent crusade, but only barely. Though they estimated that they remained within the Eye of Terror for only a century according to the measurements of their spacecraft, they finally emerged over eight centuries later within real-space. Knowing that the Judged would always harbor bitterness towards them, regardless of the Inquisitor’s decree, the Nova Hawks determined to re-locate to the galactic south. They encountered the world Lulisa hidden within the Prytaen Expanse and, satisfied that the population would sustain the needs of the Chapter, claimed it as their new Chapter world.

The tale of Heltenblad’s sacrifice was incorporated into the warrior cult of the Nova Hawks, and he came to be known as the Martyred Lord. His story serves as one of the central object lessons within the Chapter’s teachings.


The Nova Hawks follow strict Codex Astartes organization. They are organized into the ten standard companies of about 100 Space Marines each.

The Chapter’s view of purity extends beyond dogma and morality, also encompassing the physical. As a result, the Apothecarion is much more influential than within most other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. Battle-brothers are extensively screened to ensure that no taint of corruption takes root. The Chief Apothecary shares a level of authority commensurate with the Master of Sanctity, the two leaders serving as the primary advisors to the Chapter Master.

One notable idiosyncrasy is the Chapter’s higher structure, especially its Librarium. Throughout the Nova Hawks’ early history, the Chapter did not maintain psykers within its ranks. This deviation from other Chapters was never explained, but may be due to its inception subsequent to the Howling, its adherence to the Imperial Cult, or some other belief peculiar to its warrior cult. Regardless, psykers did not appear until the Chapter embarked upon its penitent crusade in M37. Though the Chapter has distanced itself from the Ecclesiarchy, it is likely that an abiding suspicion of psykers remains deeply rooted in its warrior cult. As a result, the emergent Librarium within the Chapter is viewed with a significant amount of distrust and, despite the potency of the battle-psykers, the Chapter’s librarians are not afforded positions of leadership outside of their own order. Instead, the librarians of the Chapter are always accompanied by cohorts known as the Wardens.

The Nova Hawks follow standard Codex Astartes marking conventions, indicating squad affiliation with the squad badge on the right shoulder and company affiliation with the company number upon the left kneepad. Squad numbers appear on the squad badge, but are in subdued mediums that only appear in ultraviolet filters that are commonly used in Adeptus Astartes helmets. Sergeants are indicated by having the squad badge in black, while veterans have white helmets. Specialists are indicated by painting the right arm and shoulder pad in the colors of the order – white for apothecaries, black for chaplains, blue for librarians, and red for techmarines. The Chapter’s badge features a screaming hawk’s head in white, and is displayed upon the left shoulder pad. When wearing tactical dreadnought armour, the Chapter badge is displayed on the right shoulder pad with the crux terminates upon the left shoulder pad.

A specialist order within the Nova Hawks is that of the Wardens. These experienced veterans have all demonstrated exceptional strength of will and purity in their devotion to the Emperor. While they normally serve in other units – typically as members of the Chapter’s Honour Guard, veteran squads, or command squads – they may be gathered to serve as a cohort to accompany the Chapter’s librarians into combat. They are specially trained and equipped to both protect these battle psykers and to destroy them if they succumb to the corrupting influences of the Warp. They wield specially consecrated weapons that are potent against those that wield the powers of the Warp, the wardblades. These weapons are typically seen as distinctively shaped glaives and swords, though smaller short swords that are typically wielded in pairs are also commonly seen. The least common versions are the staves carried by the Wardens that serve within the Reclusiam and the hammers that are carried by only the strongest battle-brothers. The Wardens enter combat in both power armour and tactical dreadnought armour.

The senior officers, the battle-captains and the Master, are identified by their distinct transverse crests. These bear colors representative of the company that the battle-captain leads, or of the Chapter as a whole. Occasionally, other members of a company may be granted the right to bear the company’s colors upon their armour, typically as a border upon a tabard or honour scroll. Such honours are only granted to the most accomplished of battle-brothers, however, generally only those that serve within the command squad.


The Umodzi Punitive Expedition [683.M39]

When the Umodzi sub-sector declared independence from the Imperium in M39, the Nova Hawks immediately launched an expedition to punish the transgressors and bring the inhabitants of the system back into the Imperial fold. Leaving only the youngest members of the Tenth Company and a guard unit comprised of elements of the Seventh and Ninth Companies, Master Hu’Suli took the rest of the Chapter aboard the Chapter fleet. With the First, Second, and Fifth Companies embarked aboard the battle barge Pride of the Throne with him, the Third, Sixth, and Eight Companies in the battle barge Argent Talon, and the remaining forces spread across the strike cruisers Raptor, Hammer of Heltenblad, and Praetor, the Nova Hawks struck forth with the vengeance of the righteous.

Using the Nova Hawks in Warhammer 40,000

A Nova Hawks army is represented using Codex: Space Marines with the Black Templars Chapter Tactics. The special characters (High Marshal Helbrecht, the Emperor’s Champion, and Chaplain Grimaldus) and units (Crusader squad) of the Black Templars may not be used.

Players may use Codex: Grey Knights to represent the librarians and Wardens, but are limited to a small number of units: Librarian, Strike squad, Terminator squad, Purifier squad, Paladin squad, Rhino, and Razorback. Units may not take special weapons or Terminator special weapons. A Nemesis Strike Force formation may be used.

Thrusting above the galactic plane, the Nova Hawks launched their attack from beyond the normal Warp lanes around which the Umodzi defenses were based. The unexpected attack bypassed most of the defenses, catching the defenders unaware.

The Nova Hawks fleet smashed through the defense network of the seat of Umodzi government, Thralasin VI. With the strike cruisers launching boarding actions on the orbital defense platforms, the battle barges launched an assault on the surface, starting with an orbital bombardment followed closely by a drop pod attack and forces embarked aboard thunderhawk gunships and carriers.

The Nova Hawks struck at two main points. The first was the palace city of the ruling caste, Umaedai. The second was the main port of the world, cutting off both reinforcements for the forces in orbit as well as an avenue of escape for the world’s inhabitants. Thought the planetary defense forces of the world posed little problem for the elite Adeptus Astartes, the Nova Hawks encountered an unexpected opponent hidden within Umaedai: traitors of the Fire Reavers. These Chaos Space Marines were the true perpetrators of the corruption that had led to the world’s secession.

Though the Fire Reavers struck from hiding and achieved initial surprise, the Nova Hawks rapidly recovered and regained the initiative, pushing the traitors back into the Sapphire Palace. Leading his Terminator bodyguard into the final hold of the Fire Reavers, Master Hu’Suli finally faced the leader of the Chaos Space Marines, a Sorcerer wielding a daemonic axe. When Hu’Suli eventually struck the traitor’s head from his shoulders, the surviving Fire Reavers withdrew. The rest of the insurrection crumbled within hours.

The Nova Hawks put the entire world to the torch, citing the punishment for betraying the Emperor.


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