Having spent two days trying to forge the results I rolled on the Deathwatch Chapter Creation Matrix into a narrative I was happy with I realised I was approaching this project all wrong. I was thinking of this as an army when all I want is to paint five models I happen to rather like and move on. I don't need deep background or a storyline I can explore over the course of years, I just need to choose a paint scheme I like.
Circumstances conspire to make me choose the XVIII Legion, the Salamanders. For one thing I recently saw a method for painting green I rather want to try and for another I had a nice chat about the Salamanders with my friend Matt as we sat at Twyford Station the other day.
You see, I rather like the Salamanders but I don't think they get the attention they deserve. Part of this is because their unique selling point is often misidentified. They were originally conceived of as the token black men of 40k in the same way the Tallarns were the token Arabs or the Valhallans were Russian. This is, of course, a crap idea. Their other thing is that they're great artisans with lots of advanced technology at their disposal, which doesn't do much more than make them Iron Hands in green armour.
(They've also got a rather boring name but that's neither here nor there, really.)
The USP that grabs me, though, is that they live a lot closer to the common run of humanity than most Space Marines. They are the leaders of the settlements on their homeworld, mingling with the people rather than holding themselves aloof. A lot of background makes a point of the Space Marines' elevated perspective that can seem callous from the human point of view. Even the more sympathetic chapters like the Ultramarines share this outlook.
What sort of character would emerge from the superhuman longevity and unending warfare of a Space Marine's life combined with a genuine, lived experience of mortal life? That question does rather fascinate me.
And I know what I'm doing: I'm convincing myself to do this project as an army or maybe just as an extended modelling project. I do find myself gravitating back to Space Marines on a regular basis so maybe having a project I can plug away at when I get the urge might be a good idea.