Jieshi Is’Malal Design Notes

When I set out to build a Chaos Space Marine army, I was in many ways breaking new ground for myself. Space Marines in general, and Chaos Marines in particular, have never done much for me owing to the sheer goofiness of the entire concept of genetically engineered superhuman killing machines (see my comments for the Ice River Guards for more about this).

I began my Chaos Marine project in early 2002, shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center. The insane ranting of religious nut-bags like Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Amadinejad and Sheikh Yassin were all over the news. I thought to myself, these loonies are caricatures of themselves, and while I have resisted doing any sort of Space Marines because I thought of them as too goofy for words, I reasoned that they were no more goofy than these whack-jobs.

Now before you send me hate mail, I am not suggesting all or even most Muslims hold beliefs even remotely similar to the Jieshi Is’Malal. This legion is a caricature of violent religious extremists everywhere. Yes, I borrow themes from Islam but only because Islamists have provided me with such fertile material. Before I purchased a single figure, I spent a long time working out what I wanted these guys to be like (shocking, I know, but there you are)

I approached this project to create colorful opponents for my Imperial Guards. Rather than make them two-dimensional homicidal maniacs (which is how Chaos forces are all-too-often portrayed in Warhammer 40K – though I have to admit, the guys at Miniwargaming.com have done a pretty good job with their Captain Slaughter and his Rejects but a comedy wasn’t what I was after) I wanted them to have some depth, to be fully rounded out with discernable motives and at least some sympathetic elements. I began to create my requirement list:

  • They must be credible foes to the Ice River Guards, as I wanted to keep my 40K collection self-contained and self-consistent.
  • They had to borrow themes from Islam, because they are my personal statement about the rise of extremism in that part of the world.
  • They had to be three-dimensional. Even villains have to be human and have sympathetic elements. People like Erwin Rommel, Isukiro Yamamoto, or Napoleon Bonaparte are interesting because they did have some redeeming characteristics. Even Adolf Hitler liked dogs and children. Characters like Freddy Kruger are boring because there is nothing even remotely sympathetic about them – they just want to kill things for no apparent reason.
  • They had to have a well thought out manifesto. Even the most brutal movements in human history had a set of goals, core values that shaped their organization, tactics and policies. The Nazis had their 29 points, the Communists had the Communist Manifesto, Al Quaida has a founding Fatwa, Hamas has a Charter and so on. Unfortunately, most fantasy bad guys seem to be bad guys for no other reason than they have way too much time on their hands. No one actually thinks that way. Perhaps that is why authors make their baddies so one-dimensional, they are so clearly fictional they aren’t scary. But show me someone who actually believes beheading innocent men, women and children is the path to social progress and is quite willing to debate (or more likely, impose) the point and that, my friend, is truly frightening.
  • Their iconography had to make sense in context of their ideology. It wouldn’t do to simply rip off the Hamas logo. Their symbols had to make sense. The crescent moon is present because it is a traditional symbol of Chaos. The moon is constantly changing, always presenting a differing face to the world. The chaos star represents the eight-fold path of Chaos while the varicolored skull recalls the combination of diverse elements brought together under the banner of Chaos.
  • The fluff had to be equally applicable to Marines or Guards – firstly to expand my modeling options and secondly to represent the universality of the Call of Chaos.

Okay, so I am left with Islamic Chaos marines with a well-developed philosophy who oppose the Imperial Cult and those allied to it for discernable reasons who have several redeeming characteristics. Their traitor Guard allies should hold the same ideology and should be built with either the Lost and the Damned list or the Imperial Guard List. The Guard Regiment is the Sahabat (Blood Pact) not to be confused with another traitor regiment by the same name dedicated to Khorne.

Okay, on to the patron god of this army – Malal. There is very little in the way of official fluff on Malal. He went down the Games Workshop memory hole after 2nd edition Warhammer 40K. We know he is a 5th Chaos god who hates the other four Chaos gods. His symbol is a bisected skull and his cult colors are black and white. His sacred number is 11 and his followers are at war with everyone.

Very basic, but as this is a DIY legion of Chaos Marines that is not really a problem. The army was originally conceived under the old codex using the rules for the Alpha Legion – hence the name of the Chaos Lord Faruq al’Fadi (yes. it’s a bad pun – it means one who discerns the redeemer in Arabic and can mean Faruq the Alphan as well). Under the new codex, there are no more legion rules but I retained the names of all the characters. My Arabic is a little rusty but I think I got the names right (please feel free to contact me if I mistranslated anything). As a nod to the original idea behind the army, these Chaos Marines are based on a breakaway cult from the Alpha Legion, also as a nod to Kelton Kilgore whose Hindu Marines inspired this force, the Chosen are the Brides of Faruq are all female marines and form the elite of the legion.