LEGIO EXCORIATUM (OSSIAN CROWS)

They came to destroy us.

With its systems shut down to limit signal emissions, all I could hear and was the low rumble of the reactor.

All I could feel was the scratching fingertips of the bellicose machine spirit of my engine; yearning to be let loose.

The Baron of Ruination is a Reaver Titan. Just small enough to hide in an ambush position in a ruined city. It’s sensors are my eyes. It’s armour, my skin. It’s weapons, my fists.

We stand here, semi-crouched, in the remains of a ruined Hab block. A symbiotic beast; ready to kill its quarry.

Suddenly, I see them. A Warhound class Titan lopes forwards, followed by a Reaver Titan. They do not see us, they do not react to our presence.

Full power comes in seconds. The heart of the Baron roars into vicious life. My right hand clenches and the Melta cannon fires at the Warhound, knocking its shields and sending its Reactor into a meltdown.

I announce my presence with an angry cry, the Baron blares its Warhorn; The enemy Reaver cannot turn quick enough. We are running.

The Turbolasers on the carapace knock the shields and as I ball my left hand into a fist, the Baron balls it’s Powerfist; we punch out at the enemy.

The impact is both immediate and catastrophic. The armour panels shatter and the neck joint crushes in on itself. The enemy Reaver stumbles, it’s head lolling on a broken neck. I leave it as it tries to withdraw and turn to the critically wounded enemy Warhound.

Blue fire spews violently from the rear vents as it stands helplessly in the middle of the main Avenue of the Hab block. The retaining bolts fire as I close my fist around it’s cockpit head. They will not escape fate this day.

I squeeze, slowly but surely, feeling the ceramite buckle and collapse, like an orange in my palm. The auspex is alive with audible signals. The roar of the dying core. The squeal of the ceramite; the screams of the crew inside the head.

The screams stop. I activate the Vox. Engine Kill. The Vox shuts off.

The world is bathed in bright blue-white light and the Reaver disappears amidst it. The Vox clicks into life again and I hear Engine Kill declared by Dying Light. The Warlord stalks forwards amidst the black particulate matter suspended in the air, venting heat shimmering from its Sunfury Plasma Annihilator.

12 seconds since engaging the enemy there is nothing left to kill in this sector. So I order the maniple to advance.

We will lurk in the shadows no longer. We are merciless vengeance.

We are Legio Excoriatum.

Princeps Seniores Ernst Wolfram, Legio Excoriatum (Ossian Crows)

DEATH IN FLAMES, REBIRTH IN FLUID

The Forgeworld of Xana II held many secrets; one was the production of a reserve Titan element for Legio Vulturum. The Rangdan Xenocides was a bloody conflict that claimed a high percentage of engine kills; losses that saw Vulturum beginning to strain. To compensate, Xana II maximised production of experimental Titans and crew.

Owing to the harrowing injuries Princeps of downed engines were left with, this reserve element was known as Ossian Crows. An indelicate play on the Gore Crows name, it served to highlight the severe flesh-damage wrought by arcane weapons encountered in that Campaign. These weapons were able to excoriate flesh from the bone, leaving the victim with naught but exposed skeleton where the beam had touched.

Those that survived were repatriated and psychoanalysed. Those that were deemed fit for combat action were installed in amniotic tanks, ready to re-join the war in the new, esoteric Titans. Any who were not were simply disposed of.

By the time the coffin ships left Xana II, the element totalled close to one hundred engines of mostly light to medium weight. Crews were often understrength, with experimental servitor clades augmenting functions on the Titans. Rumours abounded regarding the element, with little hard fact determinable due to Xana II’s natural secrecy. The rumours of greatest concerns were that abominable intelligence had been employed on the servitors to further enhance them and that the engine reactors were built to operate above normal safety standards.

These rumours saw the Ossian Crows employed “at reach” from both their Legio Vulturum brethren and other Legio elements. Slowly but surely, the Ossian Crows became a Legio in their own right; but one held behind the wielders back – never openly declared. Nonetheless, their effectiveness was never in question.

The Princeps Seniores of the Ossian Crows, Ernst Wolfram was known to be merciless prior to being reborn in the amniotic tank; now he was atrocity incarnate. Once in battle, Wolfram would identify the weakest enemy engine and dispatch a Warhound Squadron to occupy it. He then systematically destroyed the remaining engines.

The remaining engine, at this point often stripped of its voids and struggling to deal with the Warhound pack surrounding it; would be toyed with until Wolfram became bored – then its predetermined destruction was carried out. Those who ejected in an attempt to save the Princeps and Moderati would find their newfound safety short lived; often their deaths came from the Power Claw of Wolfram’s Titan, slowly crushing them. Those Wolfram determined deserved minimal attention he simply crushed underfoot without a second thought.

The Ossian Crows will follow a similar scheme to Legio Vulturum; but have chains wrapped around or hanging from their armour panels for displaying the trophies they’ve taken in battle. Due to no transfers being available, I’ll be free handing iconography. Credit: Warhammer Community.

The Ossian Crows excel at ambush warfare, having perfected the art of running their esoteric reactors at the lowest possible level and limiting signal emissions to go undetected. When the ambush is sprung, the Ossian Crows often assault with their own voids down, prioritising power to experimental motive systems and weapons.

REVENANT CROWS

Not all Princeps, Moderati and Crews of the Ossian Crows were of this newfound heightened vicious and merciless mindset. These Titan crews found themselves denied access to the latest software, wetware and hardware upgrades from Xana II by Wolfram. This effectively created a second-class element within the Ossian Crows that found itself increasingly being used as semi-expendable assets; tasked by Wolfram to deploy as an entirely separate element. These became known as Revenant Crows.

Revenant Crows were still merciless, as only those borne of Legio Vulturum could be; but they refused to escalate to the heights of atrocity and depravity that the Ossian Crows now enjoyed. So often did they find themselves alone on missions, the Revenant Crows elected their own Princeps Seniores, Eckehard Kramer.

Kramer is a veteran Princeps who excels at close-range combat action. He suffered during the Rangdan Xenocides, which saw his Warhound Titan fall to concerted enemy ranged fire. During the ejection, the head section impacted a downed capital ship hull, killing the Moderati instantly and bisecting Kramer at the waist.

He was rescued quickly from the wreck by Titan Recovery Crews, who followed the advancing Legio Vulturum engines closely.

HERESY & TORN ASUNDER

At the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the Ossian Crows numbered close to two hundred engines and had expanded their complement to include several more Xana-engineered variants of the Warlord class and one of the new Warmaster class engines. The latter being crewed by Ernst Wolfram’s second in command; Hraban Bauer. Their success on combat actions had seen them brought back closer to the fold of Legio Vulturum, but they were still kept at a distance.

When the Ossian Crows followed Legio Vulturum and declared for the Warmaster: a schism occurred. Only three quarters of the fleet arrived at the muster point for Beta Garmon, accounting for one hundred and sixty-two Titans of mixed class. None of the coffin ships containing the Revenant Crows thirty-three Titans translated, with warp trails showing them moving spinward; broadcasting their rejection of the Warmaster and declaring for the Emperor from a jettisoned navigational probe.

Ernst Wolfram did not pause, issuing orders that if any Ossian Crows identified Revenant Crow ships and engines, they were to pursue and destroy them on sight. The Ossian Crows fell under the direct control of Legio Vulturum for the actions on Beta Garmon.

LEGIO EXCORIATUM (OSSIAN CROWS) RULES

Legio Trait: Experimental Motives

Legio Excoriatum is a test bed for Xana II Tech-Priests. Outfitted with arcane motivators, Excoriatum engines are exceptionally mobile; with rapid movement capabilities well beyond that which an unmodified engine is able to perform.

Legio Excoriatum Titans add 2 to the result of any Command checks when issuing Charge or Full Stride orders.

Legio Specific Stratagem: Power Reserves (1)

The esoteric nature of Xana II experimental reactor designs has seen Legio Excoriatum outfitted with highly efficient plasma vent systems.

Play this Stratagem when a Titan from Legio Excoriatum pushes their reactor, before rolling the Reactor dice. Do not roll the dice; the result is treated as if a blank face was rolled. This Stratagem can be purchased multiple times, but a Titan can only be the target of this Stratagem once per round.

Legio Specific Stratagem: Eye for an Eye (2)

Legio Excoriatum believe that no slight must go unanswered and all deaths will be avenged.

Play this stratagem when a Titan from Legio Excoriatum is destroyed by the opposing player. Until the end of the round, all friendly Titans from Legio Excoriatum can re-roll Hit rolls of a 1.

Legio Specific Wargear: Plasma Rifling

Legio Excoriatum often bore experimental weapons in battle, used as test-beds by the Tech-Priests of Xana II.

Any of the Legio Excoriatum Titans can be upgraded to have Plasma Rifling for +15 points per Titan. When firing a weapon with the word ‘plasma’ or ‘laser’ in its name (i.e., plasma blastgun, paired laser blasters, etc) the Titan can push its reactor to increase both the Short range and Long range of the weapon by 6”.

MANIPLE LAYDOWN

The initial size of the Legio will be 2,000 points. Inevitably this will increase with more Warlords, Reavers and Warhounds; as well as a variety of other Titans such as Warbringers and the new Warmaster. Dying Light will operate as a mid range support engine, with the Princeps Seniores taking his position in Baron of Ruination and pushing his maniple forwards aggressively. The Legio Trait will help the Maniple close and engage in melee, whilst the Plasma Rifling will help to drop shields and deny freedom of movement to the enemy engines. Even if the enemy scores an engine kill, the Legio can mercilessly bring fire to bear on them in response.

PAINTING

Because Legio Excoriatum follows suit from its parent Legio, I’ll be painting a scheme similar to that. Having done a fairly successful Xana II theme for my Dark Mechanicum, I’ll be drawing on that experience:

Primer: Vallejo Mecha Black

Chassis Base: Vallejo Metal Colour 77.721 Burnt Iron

Chassis Layer: Vallejo Metal Colour 77.702 Duraluminium

Base: Vallejo Model Air 71.024 Khaki Brown

Base: Vallejo Game Air 72.751 Black

Layer: Vallejo Game Air 72.734 Bonewhite

Layer: Vallejo Mecha Colour 69.040 Phantom Grey

Trim Base: Vallejo Metal Colour 77.710 Copper

Trim Layer: Vallejo Metal Colour 77.725 Gold

Wash Medium: Windsor & Newton 3040821 Matt Medium (mixed with deionised water)

Wash Ink: Liquitex 4260337 Carbon Black Ink

Panel Weathering: AK Interactive AK-067 Streaking Grime for DAK Vehicles.

Weathering Thinner: MIG Thinner

Chains: Hobby Model Chain 1.5mm x 2mm

KNIGHTS

The knights will be painted in House Ærthegn colours. Though not lore accurate for Vulturum, it fits nicely with my head canon and ties in with the 28mm Knight force I have:

Primer: Vallejo Mecha Black

Chassis Base: Vallejo Metal Colour 77.721 Burnt Iron

Chassis Layer: Vallejo Metal Colour 77.702 Duraluminium

Base: Vallejo Game Air 72.751 Black

Base: Citadel Khorne Red

Layer: Vallejo Mecha Colour 69.040 Phantom Grey

Layer: Citadel Mephiston Red

Wash Medium: Windsor & Newton 3040821 Matt Medium (mixed with deionised water)

Wash Ink: Liquitex 4260337 Carbon Black Ink

Panel Weathering: AK Interactive AK-067 Streaking Grime for DAK Vehicles.

Weathering Thinner: MIG Thinner

BASES

I’m going to use Unreal Wargaming Studios Titan Wars bases, with 6mm (Epic) Imperial/Astartes vehicles in choice locations. I’ll also be looking to pose the Titans in dynamic ways such as running, moving and stamping on disabled vehicles. The Princeps Seniores’ Reaver Titan, Baron of Ruination will have the head of an enemy Titan in its base, suitably destroyed.

SCALE: GRANDIS

This project of re-entry to Adeptus Titanicus will take some time. Not only do I have to wait until my return from Operational Tour around mid-March, but I also need to then build and magnetise before painting can begin. Regardless, I’m hoping the maniple will be done by the end of April 2021.

Once the first schemes are down on the Warlord, I’ll be transferring it across to the 28mm Warlord Titan. Once the Warlord is complete, the Reaver and Warhound will also make the move to the Legio Vulturum/Excoriatum scheme. This will tie the Horus Heresy and Adeptus Titanicus game systems in nicely for me.

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