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Dia de Los Muertos Imagery in WH40K - How would you?


Minigiant
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Last month I saw these pictures

 

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They are of Miss Mexico 2020 and the pictures inspired me.

 

What I can't seem to figure out is how would you write an IA where the Space Marines paint their bodies and their armour like she has done (Ignoring the dolls and the dress). Day of the Dead meets 40k.

 

How would you do it? Would it be a cemetery planet? 

 

Curious to hear your thoughts?

Edited by Minigiant
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An obsession with death and/or a fatalistic worldview should encourage Marines to decorate their bodies and/or their armor in this fashion. Besides TechCaptain's Heralds of Ash, there are the canon Doom Eagles and pre-Heresy Death Guard.

 

I also think it helps if the Marines share the worldview of the Jem'Hadar, from Star Trek:

First [Jem'Hadar commander]: "I am [Rank] [Name], and I am dead. As of this moment, we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This, we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember- victory is life."

 

Jem'Hadar: "Victory is life."

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker
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The Legion of the Damned are another example of this in practice. Falling back on the 1st edition lore, the surviving members of the Fire Hawks removed all the heraldry of their Chapter and replaced them with icons of death - flames and bones.

I've long planned a small squad of "Legio de los Muertos" as an artistic project because the imagery of Dia de los Muertos is fascinating.

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In this, it was less of an effort to create a Chapter that would work within the canon of the setting and more of an homage to the modern holiday and its traditions. As an art project, I only planned on a handful of figures - perhaps a kill team in size - with bare bones lore (see what I did there?) as a way of introducing the Chapter. I have no plans for a fully developed Chapter.

If I were going to create it as a serious canon-friendly effort, it would be modified somewhat from the holiday. A common image in the holiday, for example, is La Calavera Catrina (i.e., the lady portrayed in the first post). Since Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes have no females, I would either have to remove her entirely or adapt her to the normal hierarchy of a Chapter. My personal concept was to differentiate my concept from other Chapters (such as those described above), with the Dia de los Muertos imagery confined to the Chaplains and their acolytes (now with the Judiciar). Alternately, the imagery might be confined to the veterans of the Chapter, or a concept where a battle-brother receives more and more death cult markings over time until, at the highest levels, he resembles the imagery we commonly associate with Dia de los Muertos. Another concept might be minimize the imagery, confining it to the Chaplains, and focus on the holiday's issues of life, remembrance of the dead, and the ofrendas (offerings). In this, Dia de los Muertos might be represented as a practice within the Chapter, either a holy day or a tradition in the aftermath of a battle.

Ultimately, there are myriad ways in which the Dia de los Muertos concept might be employed in a Space Marine Chapter, both minor efforts (such as that which I plan) and serious efforts (meshing with the lore). Much depends on which aspects of the holiday you want to represent and how closely you want to cleave to the holiday.

An alternative concept might be to separate the concept from the Adeptus Astartes and shift it to some other organization or group within the Imperium. The Imperial Cult is not homogenous, after all, and there are numerous death cults within the Imperium. Shifting to a world of the Imperium might allow for Astra Militarum regiments that use this imagery or the concepts I described above. Another alternative, especially if you want to portray the common imagery of the holiday (especially La Calavera Catrina) might be to focus on an eccentric inquisitor. This might be especially fun for an unusual warband - imagine an inquisitor with a number of servo skulls painted in colorful fashion, accompanied by an Adeptus Astartes from some Chapter with a prominent death cult.

Now that I think about it, I would love to see someone's Imperial Knight painted up in vibrant Dia de los Muertos colors.

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sml_gallery_26_14907_64830.png

If I were going to create it as a serious canon-friendly effort, it would be modified somewhat from the holiday.

I think the way to do this is as 40k has everything dialed up to 11 have a planet where it is Dia de Los Muertos everyday. It could be a Cardinal/Cemetery/Shrine planet

A common image in the holiday, for example, is La Calavera Catrina (i.e., the lady portrayed in the first post). Since Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes have no females,

Have we stumbled into the most metal Order of Sisters ever?

Edited by Minigiant
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The headcanon for the Knight House I Imagine for Aplogist’s War of the False Primarch leans heavily into this 

 on the aesthetic side… No models yet as I am still daunted to brush this on a kit as large as a Knight  :wink:

 

I am on mobile, so linking my ramblings on House Duval is bit awkward, but checking out +++ Some Things are best left forgotten++ in the Forge section is time well spent either way.
 

Edit: Actually I could see this make a rather fun set up for a Rogue Trader Dynasty and a killer set up ( pun intended) for an entire Forgeworld, Skitarii and all !

Edited by Xin Ceithan
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Brother Minigiant, beautiful image, thanks for sharing.  I, too, highlight black by drybrushing turquoise, so this photo really speaks to me.

 

 

+++ Additional answers to your question in existing lore +++

 

 

I completely agree with the above, so forgive me for being the kid in class raising his hand to answer a question already answered, but some additional lore below.

 

Adeptus Astartes are Angels of Death (not Angels of Mercy,) as we've been reminded before.

 

In the awesome, but retconned, story of Deathwing, a contingent of Dark Angel's 1st Company Terminators painted their armour bone white, the funerary colour of those members' culture, for an unsanctioned suicidal mission.  That was symbolic for 2 reasons.  1st, they were like a hard-boiled cop dramatically taking off his badge to hunt down a mafia boss even though his Police Chief told him not to...breaking the law in the name of justice.  2nd, none of them honestly thought they had a chance to make it out alive.  This epic story which was considered lore for quite a few editions turned out to by a lie made up by the Dark Angels to one day reveal the truth about the Fallen.  I appreciated here on B&C set me straight on how that was retconned, I suspect it was Brother Ishagu and I thank him for that, but the retconning itself kinda pisses me off.

 

In Spear of the Emperor by our own Fratres ADB, the Emperor's Spears Space Marines really highlights what it means to be Angels of Death.  They're seen by their own homeworld's peoples as these inhuman beings that swoop down from the heavens and take their young sons as sacrifices to the God Emperor...which is technically not untrue, after all!  There's this great scene where they walk through a village and fathers are trying to shield their young sons away from them because, boys being boys, obviously they want to check out Space Marines (that's like GW's whole business model).  Meanwhile, young girls were running up to them, poking at their power armour and stuff, it was hilarious.  While there, these Emperor's Spears consulted with a witch doctor/shaman/soothsayer, which was a brilliant idea because I'm imagining these people watching all this happen and thinking, "Huh, the Sky God's Messengers that take our strongest sons away is visiting with the old oracle...makes total sense, must be Tuesday."  I like it because it takes the Angels of Death motif and turns it into something more than the most metal band name.

 

Speaking of metal...

 

 

Have we stumbled into the most metal Order of Sisters ever?

 

Brother, I think you gave the best answer...albeit to a slightly different question than was asked. Why are we NOT doing this with Sororitas?

 

Maybe an all-infantry Order of Sisters were desperately defending a shrineworld in the early days of the Dark Imperium, making a last stand at the most sacred shrine in the capital city as a Chaos armoured company descended from the Great Rift.   There, 10,000 years of their most pious members, clergymen, Guardsmen and other "saints" were buried.  When the Great Enemy's bombardment hit the temple, ten millennia of dried skeletons instantly turned into bone powder, caking the Sisters and covering the entire battlefield in a thick layer of weird fog.  It was so thick that it clouded even the scanning abilities of auspexes, caused targeting cogitators to scramble.  However, knowing their holy homeworld like the back of their power armoured hands, the Sisters fought through the city streets, ambushing the Chaos forces as, covered by the same bone dust as the fog, looked like angry apparitions emerging from the mists, able to take on even trains of Daemon engines as they got close enough to purge them with melta weapons.

 

In this hypothetical story, the Sororitas honour not so much their victorious Sisters, but the buried dead of ten millennia past.  Believed to have been the most devout of the Emperor's servants in life, it was long said they would rise up in death, to defend the world during its darkest hour.  Although it wasn't how people imagined it, that prophecy technically came true as they erupted into a giant cloud of bone dust.  Though they were no more than corpse powder, they gave their last full measure of devotion by literally providing cover for the Sisters, allowing them to counter-attack.  In remembrance to that battle, the Order wears the death's head motif so that now, as then, they wear the 10,000 years of saints on them in battle.

 

TL;DR - Sisters, skeletons, dead soot into death suits...and I'm still pissed they retconned out the story of Deathwing.

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Have we stumbled into the most metal Order of Sisters ever?

 

Brother, I think you gave the best answer...albeit to a slightly different question than was asked. Why are we NOT doing this with Sororitas?

 

Maybe an all-infantry Order of Sisters were desperately defending a shrineworld in the early days of the Dark Imperium, making a last stand at the most sacred shrine in the capital city as a Chaos armoured company descended from the Great Rift.   There, 10,000 years of their most pious members, clergymen, Guardsmen and other "saints" were buried.  When the Great Enemy's bombardment hit the temple, ten millennia of dried skeletons instantly turned into bone powder, caking the Sisters and covering the entire battlefield in a thick layer of weird fog.  It was so thick that it clouded even the scanning abilities of auspexes, caused targeting cogitators to scramble.  However, knowing their holy homeworld like the back of their power armoured hands, the Sisters fought through the city streets, ambushing the Chaos forces as, covered by the same bone dust as the fog, looked like angry apparitions emerging from the mists, able to take on even trains of Daemon engines as they got close enough to purge them with melta weapons.

 

If you like that idea I think you should read Heralds of Ash IA, it is a Space Marine Chapter on a Cemetery/Shrine Planet. The Homeworld is interesting saying lots of pilgrims make it there with no way to return. What happens to their Children? That is what I am picturing, an order to look after the orphan girls on a planet like Accusation

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If you like that idea I think you should read Heralds of Ash IA, it is a Space Marine Chapter on a Cemetery/Shrine Planet. The Homeworld is interesting saying lots of pilgrims make it there with no way to return. What happens to their Children? That is what I am picturing, an order to look after the orphan girls on a planet like Accusation

 

 

This is what I was thinking.

 

Paraphrasing here

 

 

 

Homeworld

Muerto's surface is a barren desert full of the graves of the dead and the structures to house them. With nearly every square metre of sand on Muerto devoted to the dead, even the capital city was considered an extravagance. This world is full of Tribes who live outside the processing center cities. Mountains full of Cairns, Tombs, and Grottoes fill the world while very large cities act as the points of contact with the greater Imperium.

 

The narrow alleys and passages were steep and cobbled, leading up to the crowning monument -- the heart of the main hive city in both a physical and spiritual sense -- the Memorial Mausoleum. Nestled at the heart of the devotional architecture and adorning the metropolis like a crown was the enormous roof-dome of the sacred vault that dominated the city skyline. A colossal archway-barbican decorated the entrance to the memorial mausoleum. The pillars of the stately sepulcher were thick and tall, and the darkness of the threshold beckoned Imperial pilgrim and cleric alike.

 

The funereal beauty of the Mausoleum was astounding: the intricate scrolling on the wall internments; the silver lettering adorning the floor slabs, recording the names of past pontiffs and cardinals of the Ecclesiarchy; loggia supports and fat sculpted pillars reaching up to the exquisite detail of the Mausoleums domed ceiling. Candles and incense burned from a thousand suspended sconces, and stern statues of Ecclesiarchs already elevated to sainthood by the Imperial Cult adorned the sepulchre space in a ring around a simple block-crypt of obsidian brick.

 

A silver-plated elevator was used to transport clerics and Adepta Sororitas guardians deep below the sepulchre to a small complex of condition-controlled crypt chambers residing behind a thick vault door. A circular gallery spiralled about the sepulchres exterior, made up of marble steps and landings, providing access to the wall-combs, vaultia and the upper stories of the Mausoleum.

 

Imperial mortuary lighters brought an unending supply of the Imperium's noble dead from necrofreighters down to the Accusation surface. The prestige of spending just a century in the precious earth drew cadavers from light years around. Senior officers of the Imperial Guard, the Imperial Navy, members of of Hive World noble houses, powerful merchant lords, Navigators, other planetary nobility and devoted members of the Ecclesiarchy itself were all buried in Accusations sacred topsoil. Coffins and sarcophagi are dug up for shipment back to the families following the expiration of their leases in an unending cycle of inhumation and exhumation on a planetary scale. Grave niches in the catacombs are reused. A body may lay there for a set amount of time and any more time the buried or relatives are willing to pay for, thereafter are the bones removed and placed in an ossuary or charnel house.

 

A Servo-skull Manuifactorum make up one of the great industries of the world along with a trade in pilgrimages. The tourist and pilgrim industry for people wanting to visit the mausoleums of famous people and saints is booming. Families will sacrifice everything to such an extent to fulfill a pilgrimage to these mausoeums that many pilgrims dont think about how to get back home after having visited the holy sites. The stranded pilgrims make up a notable underclass on Muerto and create a sizeable population of orphans on the street.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

In the Creat your own Chapter part of the Deathwatch RPG did they list some chapter belifes, one of them was: "Death Cult

The Chapter’s beliefs are centred not on one particular figure, but on the more abstract notion of death itself. As the so called “Angels of Death,” the Space Marines’ very existence is defined by their ability to slay their foes. While Space Marines are extremely long-lived, the vast majority die in battle and this Chapter embraces the fact. Chapters that follow this belief system to an extreme, adorning themselves in all manner of deathly fetishes and even partaking of gristly trophy taking.”

 

I have made a list of concepts that (I think) fits with the Death Cult belife, here are the ones I know was inspiered by Dia de Los Muertos:

63. The battle-brother paints themselves and/or their armour in calaca/calaveras style.

66. The Chapter’s fortress-monastery is also a necropolis, and the Chapter and its serfs are constantly quiet and calm so not to disturb the dead. Possibly is there a “day of the dead” when it’s believed that the dead return for that day and its costume to have a great party to celebrate the dead and the living can let lose since the dead are already there and can’t be disturbed.

76. Beside the normal nutrient-past and similar when on mission do the Chapter’s food only consist of what is traditional served on the day/s for prayer and remembrance of the dead on their homeworld/recruitment-world/near space.

89. The battle-brothers carry with them calaveras or similar to give to children and/or the dead.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I had an idea ages ago for a small Slaaneshi cult of CSM called "The Destroying Angels" who have vaguely DotD themed imagery and heraldry. The fluff I had in mind for them was that they'd be completely out of their minds on drugs considered extreme even by Slaanesh worshippers and believe that there is no purer form of adoration than the debasement and desecration of the mind, body and soul to the point of annihilation; theirs and the enemy's. Basically a freakish, nihilistic death-cult. The idea actually sprang from seeing some nail-art decals of sugar skulls and thinking "Those would make great shoulder pad decals". I might do them as a subfaction within my EC.

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