Let's begin by looking at the Marines themselves. Engineered by the Emperor himself to be the ultimate soldier, a Space Marine is far larger, stronger and tougher than a typical human. Their senses have all been enhanced to one degree or another, and they have been constructed with unnatural organs designed to enhance their strengths, and mitigate their weaknesses. Eight feet tall when fully armored, and equipped with the most deadly weaponry of the Imperium, the Space Marine is an incredibly powerful template to begin with. The forces of Chaos have then granted their troopers further abilities in the form of Chaos gifts and mutations, as well as altering their wargear by infusing it with the essence of Chaos as well.
And what is Chaos? The primordial forces of the warp, epitomized in the big four: Khorne, the Blood God, Slaanesh, the Lord of Pleasure (and not the good kind), Grandfather Nurgle, the personification of decay and rot, and Tzeentch, the Lord of Change, master of forbidden knowledge, and the great puppet-master, renowned for the complexity and depth of his deceits.
Ten thousand years ago these great powers conspired to corrupt the Emperor's chosen, the Primarch's, the progenitor's of each Marine Legion. The Horus Heresy saw fully half the First Founding chapters corrupted and fall to Chaos. At the war's end the Emperor's loyal marines stood victorious, having driven the Chaos hordes back away from Holy Terra, but at what cost? The Emperor himself was devastated in his battle with Horus, clinging to a sort of half-life, only sustained by the power of the Golden Throne and the thousands of psychics sacrificed to him daily. The surviving Chaos chapters retreated into the Eye of Terror, where they have based themselves ever since, building their power until they spill forth into real-space, raiding and destroying whatever they can reach.
While there are dozens of Chaos Legions in the Eye, there are only four represented in Eternal Crusade; The Black Legion, descendents of the Sons of Horus, servants of their Lord Abaddon and Chaos Undivided. The Iron Warriors, masters of siege warfare, both offensive and defensive, who decry the weakness of the flesh, shouting their warcry “Iron Within, Iron Without” as they advance steadfastly upon the enemy. The Word Bearers, descended from the Primarch Lorgar, the first to raise the Emperor to god-like status. Upon being reproached for their belief in the God-Emperor, Lorgar was tempted by Chaos, and traded his loyalty for power and belief in the Chaos Gods. These powers did not spurn him, but rather rewarded him for his worship. Finally, the Night Lords, denizens of the darkness, where they strike unseen and unexpected, inflicting horrors beyond imagination upon their targets, before disappearing back into the darkness again. All of these Legions are unaffiliated with a specific Chaos power, instead serving Chaos Undivided, though they do employ Cult Troops, which we might see in future expansions, or in the form of Elite and/or Hero units.
Added to their innate toughness and durability and any Chaos fortitude that they might possess, Traitor Marines also use the same suits of power armor that their Loyalist brethren do. Made from ceramite and plasteel, and equipped with all sorts of targeters, and sense enhancers and life-support functions, these suits maintain a sealed environment, enabling the wearers to survive in the harshest surroundings. This will make them the most durable of opponents on Arkhona, only matched by the Loyalist Marines, their hated nemesis. Most Chaos troops will be armed with a bolt gun variant. The standard bolt gun is a pistol-grip carbine weapon, that fires .75 caliber rocket-propelled rounds, that explode after penetrating a target. The Bolt Pistol is a scaled-down version, with a smaller ammo capacity and range, but it fires the same explosive round. The Heavy Bolter is a scaled-up version that has a greater ammo capacity, greater range, higher rate of fire and it fires an even larger version of the explosive bolt. All of the Bolt weapons can be loaded with special ammunition allowing them to deal with a variety of specialized enemy targets, but for most light vehicles and medium-armored troops, the standard bolt provides plenty of killing power.
The Chaos basic trooper is the Tactical Chaos Marine, the ancient original version of the Imperial Space Marine. These guys combine all the physical advantages of Marines, thousands of years of battle experience, and top-notch Imperial technology, making them the best generalist troops in the galaxy. They go to war in Space Marine armor of an earlier age, and wielding the bolt gun as their standard weapon.
The Chaos Assault trooper is the Raptor, clad in Marine armor, armed with a howling chainsword and a deadly bolt pistol, and using a jump pack to cover ground and reach higher areas of the battlefield. As these are Chaos troops we are talking about, sometimes it is hard to tell where the Marine ends and his armor and jump pack begin, as they grow together into a horrific conglomeration of man and machine.
The Chaos heavy weapon trooper is called the Havoc, and in addition to their standard Marine armor of a bygone age, they arm themselves with the Heavy Bolter, a massive version of the bolt gun, that fires larger shells more rapidly than the bolt gun does. The damage and penetration of the Heavy Bolter is immense, and you can expect to see both Orks and Eldar troops melt away in the face of such awesome firepower.
The support unit for Chaos is the Sorcerer, master of psychic powers that he can use to debilitate the enemy, support his allies, and even call for aid from his Warp-bound masters. Sorcerers are armed with Warp-Staves, daemonically charged weapons that amplify his innate powers, and they wear the same ancient suits of Marine armor that their brethren wear. Behaviour has yet to reveal exactly how Psykers are going to work in Eternal Crusade, but, rest assured, when they do your humble author will be on hand to record it and get it out to you as soon as possible.
That's about it for this week, be sure to come back next time for more exciting details about Eternal Crusade; don't forget to head over to the official Eternal Crusade website, register on their forums, and make your opinions known. Until next time remember, remain calm and die for the Emperor!