More on the 1,000 marines
12th Nov, 2009

I started an discussion over on the Bolter and Chainsword forum that has been fascinating to me. I always enjoy hearing how others interpret the universe of Warhammer 40,000, and this discussion has shown to me how different other’s views of the same text can be, and how deep those interpretations can go. I thought I was 100% right, but listening to others I see once again how wonderfully fluid the background really is, and the new ideas other’s views bring to the table. I still think I am correct (I would wouldn’t I! As I think my view tends more towards the background’s ethos and intent, but these other views are very interesting). If you have the time and are a member of Bolter and Chainsword (if not, why not!) why not pop by and chip in your own unique ideas to the thread?

The Thousand Marine Myth – corrections? [since deleted]

Basic argument can be found here

Subscribe | Patronise | Contact

8 Responses

Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!

To support my work: Connect

  1. Green Knight says:

    I don’t like the general tone over at the B&C, so I’ll drop a comment here because the subject interests me (hope that’s OK):

    The question(s) I find myself asking again and again are:

    How many Marines are in a typical chapter that are not attached to any of the 10 Companies. How many Librarians, how many Chaplains, how many Medics, and how many Tech-marines? What about older/injured marines fulfilling non-combat duties? Crew for vehicles and aerospace craft – do they come out of the squads or are they in addition? What about spaceship crew? And lastly; do all marines (or most of them at least) belong to a squad, or are there a number of unassigned marines at any one time, attending other duties, training, recovering from injuries, special assignments, etc.

    These questions are important to me because the answers can give wildly divergent results in the total number of Marines, even if one agrees on number of companies/squads/whatever.

    I like to imagine that a strictly Codex Chapter has 1.000 fighting men assigned to squads and ready for combat at any one time (barring heavy losses or other circumstances); including a Veteran Company of 100 and 100 Scouts.

    Officers, command staff, supporting arms, logistics, vehicle/spaceship crew, whatnot – all those are in addition to the men in the squads. The Chapter is also home to a number ‘retired’ marines who can no longer fight effectively. There will be even more real marines handing around between assignments; men training to use Terminator armor so they can join the 1st company, sergeants training new recruits, freshly promoted scouts as yet unassigned to a squad, etc.

    Depending on how many men you think the chapters need in each of these ‘roles’ the number of marines could be quite a bit higher. 1200? 1500? 2000? You could take a look at a modern mobile army (US Marine Corps for example) and try to see how many people are actually needed to put 1000 men in the field. Quite a few. I’d say Marines in 40k are a different breed, so you don’t need the level of rotation that normal humans do (and not all of the tasks need doing by a Marine – a thrall or servitor could do), but I still hold that for 1000 Marines to be ready they’d need quite a few more in the manpower pool. But its still approximately 1000 Marines – fight Marines.

    You could go the other way. Say that the Codex Astartes figure of approximately 1000 really means there are approximately 1000 Marines. To me that would imply that except under the most special of circumstances no more than a few hundred could be brought to a fight at any one time.

    • Philip S says:

      The B&C thread does lighten up after a while, mainly because I refused to quit, kept my arguments on target, polite, with plenty of facts. Nothing was conclusive, and it is all down to personal preference when all is said and done. It is one of the strengths (and weakness) of the 40K background that it can be all things to all fans.

      Shoehorning exactly 1,000 marines into a Chapter seem a bit of a daunting task at first. It’s ‘obvious’ that there are far more than 1,000 marines. I blame the wholly, open to interpretation, text describing Chapters. Yet the text defining a marine seems quite specific, and the lower organisation is quite specific. I find the most direct way to unravel this riddle is to define roles and language used; then build the Chapter organisation up from the detailed, marines specific, language up to the more vague Chapter details. Always keeping an eye of the background, trying to make it fit in, and make sense.

      I ended up with the model:

      • Company 1-5 are the main fighting force, Company 6-9 support Company 1-5 (nothing new there), but I figure this support if far more integrated, and it is marines from Companies 6-9 that drive, and pilot, the vehicles. They are also the ones running about on the ships.
      • Scouts are not counted as marines, in the same way a modern day marine recruit (USMC) is not a ‘marine’, even though they are called a marine recruit.
        Taking the scouts out of the equation frees up 90 spaces for command and specialists.
      • As scouts are no longer counted towards the 1,000 total their ranks can grow, and the Chapter can have a huge reserve of scouts, constantly rotated in to, and out of, the 90 odd active scout placements within the 10th Company structure.

      Using the above: I can have 10 Companies, each with 100 ‘marine’ placements, along with command and the specialists. At the same time I also have exactly 1,000 full battle brothers.

      This is because I have played about with the language, and the ‘marine’ placements include the scouts, who are not accorded the rank of battle brother, and are not full Space Marines ;)

      In putting this together, and the resulting concept of greater integration by Companies 6-9, it changed my view on what a Chapter is, and how it functions. The Chapter becomes a much smaller (strike) force in my mind, but also a much more cooperative ‘warrior band’, with Companies mixing. It also seems to map out the whole advancement of the marine from scout, through initiate (often missed rank of a full battle-brother while training is devastator and assault squads in the reserve companies) to full tactical marines and promotion to one on the Battle Companies (1-5). There are all working along side each other, the new marines supporting the older hands (and watching, and learning, how it’s done).

      Not to everyone’s tastes, and it’s not any more true than any other interpretation I’ve seen, but if you want exactly 1,000 marines is kinda works.

      • Green Knight says:

        For a Codex Chapter Scouts are Neophytes, not yet full Marines initiated into the ranks of the hallowed warriors. I fail to see that there can be any controversy over this – until they’ve proven themselves they won’t get the last implant – the Black Carapace (all chapters still have this one) – and presumably a PA suit and a squad assignment.

        Whether or not they count against the approx 1000 Marines of a Codex Chapter I do not know. I can’t find it stated anywhere. Nor does it say that the Scout Chapter is always 100 men.

        My preference, however, would be for the Scouts in the Scout Company to count against the fighting strength of the Chapter, 10 Companies, 100 Squads, 1000 Marines (of which 100 are in the scout company – or 90 actually, since the sergeants are marines).

        I’d also say that there are could be more than 90 scouts in a chapter, just as there can be more marines that just the main fighting force – so that actual size of the scout company might wary a bit according to the level of recruitment.

        Which brings me to another point – neophyte numbers; what’s the replacement rate for a Marine Chapter? I’d guess that it’s wildly fluctuating. If the chapter isn’t involved in operations the attrition rate is damn close to zero – they rarely retire and never quit! If in limited low-intensity ops, a few companies on patrol or on strike missions, the attrition rate goes up somewhat; Marine DO get killed and crippled. If engaged in massive large-scale warfare against advanced opponents the attrition rate would leap up; there are many enemies out there capable of shredding Marines.

        So a Chapter needs to have a number of neophytes in the pipeline. Enough to cover estimated losses. Maybe the 50 neophytes a year isn’t such a bad figure? How long does it take to train a Marine. About six years or so judging from the implant timing? So there are 300 or so neophytes in the pipeline at any one time, ranging from those just starting to those nearly scouts.

        In a pinch I suggest that a Chapter could draw upon some of the full Marines in non-line positions to fill out battle lasses. As a temporary measure at least. And they could probably also speed up the creation of marine – to a certain degree. Promote all the scouts to marines and then rush the older neophytes into the scout company to fill the vacancies in the scout company.

        I would be a desperate measure, not lightly undertaken – and one which would work only once. But it could allow a chapter to bounce back from unexpected losses in a short amount of time – IF they have a buffer like I’ve described here. After such a stunt a Chapter would need to start recruiting more neophytes and spend a few years filling up the gaps.

        • Philip S says:

          You raise some interesting points, that I too have pondered.

          I go with 1,000 placements across the 10 Companies (100 places per Company), but that some of those placements are filled with marines who are not really marines (Scouts). There are placements outside the ‘Company’ structure that are filled with full battle-brother ranked marines. Doing this allows for 1,000 Company placements, and exactly 1,000 marines (battle-brother rank). It’s like a venn diagram, where the full marines in the Chapter overlap most of the Company placements – but not all.

          As to the neophytes; I see the whole Chapter structure as a pyramid, with the Chapter master at the apex, and the hordes of neophytes at the bottom. I tend to seen the neophytes are being used on ships and supporting roles (and can imagine them fighting if a ship or home world is invaded) and I imagine there are thousands of them!

          I also see scouts are going through a ‘baptism of fire’ where they are often put into situations only a ‘marine’ would be expected to survive (i.e. the Scout squad’s Veteran Sergeant). If the Veteran Scout Sergeant returns from a mission with some surviving Scouts in tow, then I see those Scouts are proving themselves to the Chapter as ‘marine’. Being able to do the job of a marine.

          I think the Chapter wants proof, it wants to hear stories (from the Veteran Sergeant), of valour and ability, but also being able to complete tasks that should have killed them. I suspect the Veteran Sergeant may throw in a curve ball just to see how the scouts handle it. To see if they are as smart and cunning, as they are strong and fast.

          As such, I think the Chapter burns through scouts like nobody’s business, and from the hordes of neophyte new scouts constantly step up. I figure there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of ‘scout ready’ neophytes – but there are only 90 active placements at one time within the 10th Company. As soon as a scout dies there is another ‘scout ready’ neophyte to take their placement on the return of the squad. Dead man’s boots. In some cases I think this ‘scout ready’ neophyte would be dispatched to reinforce a quad still in the field and has to fight their way through a war zone to join their squad. All part of their testing (and a source of tall tales and sagas ;) ).

          • Green Knight says:

            Interesting, but there may be a ‘flaw’ in your hordes of neophytes image (or maybe not – perhaps you’ve already considered it). The creation of neophytes requires access to geneseed, does it not? And it would seem very un-Marine to waste valuable geneseeds through such a process. After all, there are not that many Marines with mature Progenoids, so that puts a definite cap on the number of neophytes that can be created. Or do you envision some other solution to this issue?

            • Philip S says:

              Apparently the success rate for marine recruits is quite low, so there is (apparently) as lot of wasted geneseeds. If we go with the numbers of two geneseeds harvested from each mature marine, the maximum loss rate would be 50% before it started to erode chapter numbers. 50% does not sound that low.

              There is some old background about duplicating geneseeds and growing them inside living (vat grown) hosts, perhaps the Chapter has a similar program but with live neophytes. It may be a way for the Chapter to ensure only the best of the best get through with fully working geneseeds. The success rate could be much lower, like 5% or less, and it would not affect the Chapter’s ability to regenerate losses.

  2. Kage2020 says:

    One thing that many tend to forget is that there are two sets of progenoids: one in the neck that matures after 5 years, and one in the chest that matures 5 years after that. Fan speculation argues that the neck progenoids are easy to acquire, so each Marine is always going to be replaced. Then all you have to worry about is rejection and corruption of organs.

    After that you’ve got the chest progenoids (which tend not to be removed for some crazy reason!). That’s just bonus material right there.

    LOL. One imagines that there are Marine Chapters out there that have managed to work out that if they keep their Marines back until they’re around 30, they’re not going to have any trouble replacing their losses.

    On the other hand, what if there is another reason for it…? ;)


    • Philip S says:

      The problem is that neophytes often fail, so the neck progenoids, if 1:1, would not always result in generating a replacement. The Chest progenoids would help out, but the maximum loss rate in neophytes would be 50%. Any more than this would cause problems for regenerating losses in the long term – and the only way around this would be to clone the progenoids (?)

Your Thoughts?

These comments are moderated. This requires a tempory cookie until ok'd. By posting a comment, you are consenting to this tempory cookie.
See the cookie policy.

Out of respect for your privacy: your email will not be made public. Required fields are marked *