Space Marines (Warhammer 40,000)

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For the video game, see Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.
The 4th Edition Space Marine sourcebook (codex) cover

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000 created by Games Workshop, Space Marines are genetically modified superhuman soldiers, the elite warriors of the Imperium of Man. The Space Marines are the most popular playable army[1] for the table-top miniature wargame based in the setting. Space Marines have been one of the starter armies in every box edition of Warhammer 40,000, Space Hulk, and Epic. They also feature heavily in other Games Workshop products, such as books, films, and video games.

Tabletop game mechanics[edit]

A fully painted set of Space Marine miniatures.

Space Marines are a playable army in the tabletop miniatures game.[2] Because they are individually so powerful, their armies tend to be small, thus a player can buy and assemble a functional army for relatively little money and effort. In terms of playing style, they are a versatile army that neither excels nor fails at any particular tactic, though certain Chapters do have variant rules. Individual units are typically not strongly specialised and can substitute in other roles, meaning mistakes and setbacks are easy to compensate for. Their tough armour means that they do not have to be manoeuvred as carefully as units of other armies (such as the frail Eldar). These qualities make them ideal for beginners.[3]

Video game appearances[edit]

Space Marines are the most common protagonists in Warhammer 40,000 related videogames. They have appeared in the following titles:

Films[edit]

Books[edit]

Space Marines are featured in numerous fantasy novels, predominantly published by Black Library, a division of Games Workshop.

Trademark controversy[edit]

In December 2012, Games Workshop claimed the use of the phrase "space marine" infringed on their trademark of the term and requested that online retailer Amazon remove the e-book Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth.[4] The row received a lot of publicity during February 2013, with authors such as Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, and John Scalzi supporting Hogarth. Amazon restored the e-book for sale.[5][6]

Fictional characteristics[edit]

Space Marines are warrior-monks. From the time of their initiation to their deaths, they spend their entire lives fighting in the name of the God-Emperor. They have been physically enhanced with organ implants that ultimately derive from the Emperor's own flesh. They wear power armor and wield the finest weaponry available to the Imperium.

Origins[edit]

In the distant future, the Emperor of Mankind creates the twenty Primarchs: genetically engineered superhumans possessing immense physical and psychic power. Each Primarch's genome serves as a template for a Legion of Space Marines. During the late 30th millennium AD, the Emperor uses the Space Marine Legions to conquer the human-inhabited worlds of the galaxy, uniting them in the Imperium of Man. As the campaign draws to a close, a number of Primarchs and their Legions convert to the worship of the evil Chaos Gods and rebel against the Emperor. The rebels are ultimately defeated and banished, though they continue to harass the Imperium as Chaos Space Marines. The Legions of Space Marines who remained loyal to the Emperor are restructured into smaller units called "Chapters" to make a future mass rebellion unlikely.

Creation of a Space Marine[edit]

Recruits are chosen from the best warriors among humanity. Naturally, this makes Feral Worlds prized recruitment grounds, as such harsh and primal conditions produce the best warriors. However, Hive Worlds are considered the ideal source of potential recruits, the populace of the lower levels composed of some of the most murderous scum in the human Imperium. Whole gangs of hive scum are sometimes hunted down and captured for recruitment. Among the most valued traits in a recruit are aggression and psychotic killer instinct. Much more rarely, certain Civilised Worlds are also recruited from.

The potential recruit is first subjected to testing, including tissue compatibility tests and psychological screening. Relatively few get past this initial selection process. Those that do pass are termed "neophytes", and the process continues with the surgery, indoctrination, conditioning, and training that will make them Marines.

The surgical process takes a great deal of time. The recruit receives implants, along with chemical- and hypnotherapy, and training necessary for allowing the functioning and development of the implanted organs. The implants transform their bodies and minds and give them inhuman abilities - making them capable of spitting acidic venom, absorbing the memories of the dead by eating their flesh, darkening their skin to protect it from radiation, and operating for long periods without sleep by switching off parts of their brains at a time. After this implantation process and the associated training, the recruit becomes a "scout".

Intense indoctrination and conditioning strengthens the recruit's resolve and increases mental capabilities, honing them into dedicated and merciless warriors. After more general training, they join the Chapter as full "battle brothers".

Organization[edit]

Space Marines are organized into "Chapters", which contain about 1,000 Space Marines plus an unspecific number of Initiates and support staff. The majority of Chapters follow the organisational structure detailed in the Codex Astartes. If a Chapter grows larger than 1,000 Space Marines the Imperium may order it to split into smaller Chapters. This rule was enforced after the Horus Heresy to prevent the mobilisation of a force that could lead a rebellion against the Emperor. Currently there are only four chapters which have numbers exceeding 1000 Space Marines: the Black Templars, Exorcists, Grey Knights, and Space Wolves.

Each Chapter has its own heraldry and traditions. For example, the Salamanders will help the innocent whenever possible whereas the Grey Knights, due to their unique position and purpose, will take all measures to prevent public knowledge of their existence; to this end, in some instances the Grey Knights have destroyed entire regiments of Imperial Guard and civilian groups, though unique exceptions have been made. Another example of a Chapter characteristic is the Black Templars' practice of sacrificing the innocent in order to gain victory in battle.[7]

Each Chapter is a fully integrated military unit, possessing starships, aircraft, and land vehicles. (They do not possess sea units as the tabletop game does not model sea combat). A Chapter's main headquarters is its "fortress monastery", which could either be a citadel on a planet, Space Hulk, or a large starship.

Each Chapter is led by a Chapter Master. Chapter Masters rank among the Imperium's highest elite. They are one of the few people with the authority to order the annihilation of a planet.

Each Chapter is independent; there is no higher authority that commands all Space Marines (except the Emperor, if only in spirit). Nonetheless, any Chapter may be subject to censure or even excommunication by the Inquisition should it waver in its duty to the Emperor.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Chambers, Andy (1998). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Space Marines. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-28-X. 
  • Haines, Pete; McNeill, Graham (2004). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Space Marines (4th ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-526-0. 
  • Johnson, Jervis (2004). Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84154-506-6. 
  • Priestly, Rick, Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader, Games Workshop, Nottingham, 1987, ISBN 1-869893-23-9
  • Warhammer 40,000 5th edition rule book, Games Workshop, Nottingham 2008
  • Priestly, Rick (February 1988). "Chapter Approved: The Origin of the Legiones Astartes". White Dwarf (Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop) (98): 12–17.