Marine Size – Retcon
20th Jul, 2010

In retconning the Space Marine transformation process, from candidate to battle-brother, the step is to first define the type of candidate the marines would except. This should clear up what we can ‘realistically’ expect (suspend our disbelief) of what a marine will look like at the end of the process, and hopefully make the marine as depicted in the GW novels and imagery seem a little more plausible.

Archetype candidate: It seems in the novels and comics that marine candidates are no lightweights, they are often super muscled even before they are neophytes and all are champions on their own world with a lot of fights under their belt.

Cline: Looking at humans in 40K there is a lot of diversity in the characteristics of human across the population cline: from (abhuman) squats – regular humans – Ogryn (abhuman). All are technically ‘human’ – not a sub-species or anything like that.

Choices: This gives the Imperium a vast range of humans to choose from, and considering how uttering tiny the percentage of humans the marines draw from the Imperial population really is, and how fussy they are about candidates, I suspect that the ‘regular humans’ the marines choose may not be a regular humans as we see them. I suspect they simply have to not be abhuman.

I remember reading somewhere, not sure where, that due to their physiques that the Catachan Jungle Fighters where called ‘baby ogryn’ (Lexicanum). These humans, the Catachan, are massive but they are not classed as ‘Ogryn’. So it seems regular humans can be pretty large in 40K, far larger naturally that humans in our modern world (as in a whole population rather than a few).

I suspect a human population where the average is around 7′ 30-400lbs is not impossible, or 7’6″ and 600lbs or pure muscle. I’ll call these humans ‘super massive’ in the next bit.

Candidates retcon: I imagine the candidates would be taken from stock that is ‘super massive’. Where a regular human on a world would grow to at least 7′ naturally when mature, and probably have massive skeletons (far more powerful than ours) and able to carry 400-500lbs of bulk with no trouble (think ‘Neanderthal’ but a bit more refined). A child of this population could be as large as a regular modern human average or even larger. A teenager would have a physique of a super athlete and able to outperform any modern day athlete in track and field and tests of strength. They would also have natural relaxed musculature.

Misconceptions: It would be easy for a regular human, who judges others by what they know, to mistake these candidates for fully grown men. They would seem like very tall, strong and massive men. Yet they may all be very young and their parents (in comparison) would be huge.

Note: This may explain some of the continuity problems of candidates being very young yet being ‘heroes’ and seeming like they are much older.

Growth: While being transformed the actual growth may seem like a massive increase if we imagine a regular human like you or I gaining mass to become 7’6″ and 780lbs (as I imagine them). However a human from super massive stock would probably naturally reach 7′-7’3″ and weight in at 400-500lbs of natural muscle. An increase to 7’6″ and 780lbs of enhanced muscle and bone density would probably not be that remarkable.

Recruitment: This retcon would explain why marines are so fussy about who they accept. They will not recruit from regular humans with physiques like modern day humans, or even modern military special-ops types are they are simply too small. In addition the specimens should not be ‘abhuman’. I imagine there is a very small proportion of the Imperial population that can generate the type of humans the marines want. Very small. I don’t know if the populations of the marine worlds are 100% natural, or if the Ad-Mec mess about with their genetics to make populations to spec, but I think they are few and far between.

Marine size: using this retcon, and the justifications therein, it seems reasonable that a marine can be the size they are in the imagines (inc my art) and novels without it seeming implausible. A regular human, as judged by our standards, simply isn’t marine material. There isn’t a single human alive on our world today who would be accepted as a marine candidate. Not one. All throughout our history we have never produced a human who would be accepted as a marine, though some in our ancient myths and legends have come close – but even our demi-gods probably do not measure up.

Note what we think: Marine candidates are not humans as we think of them. If we saw a ‘super massive’ @ 7’3″ – 500lbs with a powerful ‘Neanderthal’ skeleton we would be shocked and probably think of them as non-human. They sure wouldn’t look like a body builder at all, but I think most would quickly guess they are fantastically strong, and once they see them move deduce they can cover ground quite quickly and to keep our distance. They may not be as mobile as a human like us, but they are going to be smart and ‘human’ in their fighting (I mean, boxers can catch chickens, so a marine candidate could probably catch a faster and more mobile regular human – body may be ‘slow’ but arms are fast enough).

A beginning: This would be ‘phase 1’ of my space marine background retcon – getting the basics in place.


PS: Be thankful I do not write for GW!

Retcon ‘Squats’
13th Jul, 2010

In this blasphemous retcon the Ad-Mec absorb the ‘Squat’ civilization. This would mean the squats are a faction within the Ad-Mec. These Ad-Mec squats could take on roles such as an elite force of techno-hunters, part of a radical group of investigators and experimenters trying to rebuild STC tech (the hard way by reverse engineering and re-inventing), and even major leadership roles. In fact the whole Ad-Mec cult may be based on the Squats!

Explaining this away could be tricky due to the differences between the old Squats and the current Ad-Mec. However the Squats are based on the Dwarf archetype, and that is not so different from the Ad-Mec. If we look at earlier versions of the the Dwarf myth, we see they tend more towards the industrious and share much in common with ‘gnomes’ (not the garden type!), than super fighter tanks they are now. This earlier version has much more in common with the Ad-Mec. Going with the more traditional concept of Dwarfs allows a bit more flexibility in building up this retcon.

Resolving their differences, between the Dwarf archetype and the Ad-Mec, may not be so hard. The Squats are basically ‘ab-humans’ who are technically still human. The only real difference from most human populations is that they are highly advanced scientifically. This could be a problem for the Ad-Mec – but to get around this they could share similar views with the Ad-Mec as they share a common root civilization. The Squats may be far more in tune with the Ad-Mec ways than the rest of the Imperium, harking back to an earlier time, so I imagine they could be compatible, and this possibility forms the basis of my idea;

Hiding squats in plain sight: It would be easy to imagine that many tech-priests could actually be of squat decent, and this ‘fact’ may go unnoticed in an age of bionics etc. where a few leg extensions wouldn’t be a problem. These leg extensions (as a tongue in cheek idea) could be a bit like ‘Inspector Gadget‘ and allow for height adjustment when meeting regular humans.

The Squats would be aware of how humans feel about ad-humans, and in addition to this they may really hate their flesh. This would lead to pressure to change the way they look, and is could contribute to the reasons why the Ad-Mec are always enhancing themselves to the point it is hard to tell what they originally started out as. It may also further reinforce they cult like behaviour and their wish to exclude ‘regular’ humans – as their real nature would be secret (I wonder how the Inquisition would feel about ‘Ad-Mec Squats’ – if they found out?)

Toughness: The Dwarfs archetype’s legendary toughness in this concept would be the result of technology – through bionics. The Dwarf is still inhumanly tough, but not because of their flesh, but because they are part machine.

Going nuts with the idea: In fact most of the Ad-Mec could be retconned as ‘Squat’, as a Forge World sound about as compatible as can be with the ‘Dwarf’ archetype!

Imagine how a Dwarf would view an entire world that is one massive forge?

Dwarf beards could be remade as a wild mass techno-tendrils, a mix of bushy Dwarf beards and Mind-Flayer. These tendrils could handle fine detail and even end is micro-tool tips. This would allow the Squat/ Dwarf to manipulate and control very small devices that are too delicate for human hands. I could imagine one of these bionic enhanced Ad-Mec examining an alien device held with these tendrils and viewing it through a stack of multiple magnifying lenses.

It would not be hard to make this retcon. The Ad-Mec are already quite distinctive and most of the more powerful characters are augmented with bionic limbs. In fact it would change so little that you could claim it for your own -verse, and it would be ‘compatible’ with the background.

It would be interesting to see a few new Ad-Mec characters that draw more on the Dwarf archetype.

8th Mar, 2010

This is a clarification (reimage) of the technologies found in power armour Autosense used by Space Marines in 40K.ย  The idea is to ramp up he technology yet remove the tech feel and plunge the marine into spiritual relationship with his armour – one that makes sense to our modern mind set – and to show off the ethos and power of archaeotech. At the same time I wanted to build in some wriggle room that accounts for all the descriptions of Autosense found in Black Library novels and codex colour text; from primitive HUD to the guiding hand of the machine spirit.

Autosense is a device that collects information via artificial sensors, processes and filters that information, and then feeds it directly into the mind of the wearer. This completely bypasses the wearer’s natural senses. A helmet with Autosense does not have eye slits to look through, holes to let sound into the ear, it is completely (hermetically) sealed as part of life-support. Instead the helmet has artificial sensors mounted outside the armour.

Artificial sensor array: The Autosense make use of several highly advanced artificial sensors.

  • The core visual sensor is wide spectrum, with particular focus on the THz wavelengths know as T-Lux. This band of light is in between infra-red and microwaves and has characteristics of both. In application is has the effect of being full on heat vision, but is also has a penetrating effect, so heat emanating from inner layers are also clearly seen. This gives a passive ‘x-ray’ effect able to penetrate clothing (but not metal objects), and will expose hidden weapons. It will also expose hidden snipers, and other hot objects much as a thermal camera. Lazgun blasts can be traced back to origin.
  • The audio system is very sensitive, with Doppler effect processing for excellent sound placement in 3D space.ย  It allows the system to place all noises within the environment accurately, and range them, including sniper locations (of the sniper’s weapon emits noise). It is so precise that it can function as a form echolocation.
  • Smell is about as acute as a dog’s nose, and combined with molecule recognition the Autosense can detect the presence of many substances and direct the marine to them (note: A Space Wolf’s nose is more sensitive)
  • Taste is not catered for.
  • Touch – optional: the suit is covered with micro-hairs (similar in concept to a crab suing hairs to feel through it’s carapace) this allows the suit to feeling what is touching the surface of the armour, and internal strain gages allow the feeling over pressure. A marine can even feel the wind on his armour.

Artificial Instincts: The Autosense collects a vast amount of information through the artificial sensors, far too much for a human mind (even a marines!) to process all at once, so the Autosense has to filter and process this information into a feed that a human can absorb. In order to do this, and make the most of the sensory information collected, the Autosense utilizes cortex technology. This cortex technology is a dedicated machine sub-brain that is able to recognise threats by analysing the vast stream of incoming data, and passes these perceptions on to the marine as ‘instincts’. It is, in effect, a technologically enabled ‘sixth-sense‘. These instincts alert the marine to threats they can not usually see, and are prioritised in relation to the marine’s own instincts. If the marine takes notice of these artificial instincts and focuses in on a threat, the Autosense will instantly enhance the image to make it clear what the threat is.

This instinct feed is often interpreted as a ‘spirit guide’ and the Autosense plays into this perception. This guiding ‘spirit’ is the ‘machine spirit’ of the armour. It’s not the actual technology or AI, it’s the marine’s perception of their interaction with the Autosense and the feeling of presence.

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Power Gamers
21st Feb, 2010

I to do not think min/ maxers are a problem per se. There are merely specialising; which is a perfectly natural instinct, and ironically quite ‘team player’ when you think about it (as a specialist on their own is vulnerable).

Min/ Maxers are merely trying to stack the odds of their survival in their favour. They have an idea that all encounters are going to be direct fights and they need to throw everything at the enemy. It’s all about survival (and if they survive it’s all glory). It’s hard to ask someone to go against base instincts and drives like these. Most young males (and a lot of gamer females) run through hypotheticals (like games) to test themselves. To see if they can win, to beat the system. It’s important to them. Older players have less of this type of drive because they have already proven themselves.

This can be neutralised by shifting the goal posts, and GMs have their ways…

Some ground rules as to what is expected can help – merely pointing out that it’s a puzzle game not a combat simulator, and that you (the GM) will match the enemies to the power levels of the players; so most straight up fights listed in the scenario will scale to at least be 50-50 (and a real chance of the PC dying without them coming up with some superior tactics!). Those enemies that are weaker than 50-50 are likely to run (why would a little sneaky goblin charge/ stand their ground against an overpowered human?), and ‘boss monsters’ should usually invincible (to the point they may not even have stats, you fight it: you loose) unless you have a trick up your sleeve. Defeating a boss is a puzzle and will require a bit of lateral thinking. Catching those that run (lower power NPCs) will require ambushes, and shifting the odds of a 50-50 fight will require tactics. You only earn experience on 50-50 fights and the use of tactics.

So no matter how much the min/max; they usually have a 50% chance of loosing in a fight with NPCs who actually want to fight, and the boss monster is ‘the boss’ and will kick their ass.

‘opponent scaling’ or ‘risk scaling’.

Reminds me of the old Warhammer Fantasy RPG (1E) ‘risk rolls’, which tended to be 50%…

In conclusion, I think most of the time it’s hard to blame a power-gamers for doing what they do – it’s a personality trait. If handled with care, and they are made aware of the parameters of the game, it can work to your advantage. However a power gamer will test your resolve. You will probably have to kill them at some point, and do it early before their mindset thinks you were full of BS and they act up. The first ‘easy’ fight the power-gamer wants (i.e. bullying or picking on mooks) the NPCs should run away, the first 50-50 fight they have they should walk away bloody, die, or surrender. If they walk away bloody and get into another fight – kill them.

I’m sure the non power-games will be ahead of the curve, and start suggesting tactics and perhaps a bit of stealth. However, this is ‘adaptive’, and what works once should not work again (once word is out that there is a ‘gang’, that ambushes, operating in the area – NPCs will be weary (and they know the terrain)). It is possible that the PC will intimidate many, but criminal gangs can be powerful and may hunt the PCs down. Usually the PCs are operating in a society, and threats will be taken very seriously. Humans are aggressive. Territory will be protected. (Protected by the NPC version of a min/ maxer!)

When thinking about what an NPC would do, just ask yourself: what would you do in their shoes?

Do not blame the player for power-gaming: blame the system and the lack of in game consequences.

Power-gamers are power-gamers because it often works. Simple but effective. If you want a more sophisticated game, I would suggest the system and game world has to be sophisticated too. You can’t rely on ‘social norms’ and ‘unspoken understanding’ and what is the ‘correct attitude’ to make up for an unsophisticated system. A power-gamers will see the weaknesses and exploit them. It’s their nature, and that nature is in all of us. In many ways the whole point of RPGs is to have fun and ‘cheat the odds’, to solve the puzzle, power-gamers are merely starting with the rules (simple tactics lots of maths), those who like the setting exploit the setting (complex tactics little maths): rules hacker – setting hacker.

We are all more similar than different, more often than not…


PS: As for ‘centre of attention’ you can’t beat being a GM

Battle Brothers, and Battle Sisters
12th Feb, 2010

The idea of female Space Marines is often debated on 40K forums, with each new generation of gamers end up asking the same questions as my generation did. The topic never dies for long, and reawakens with new gamers wanting answers and having dreams of creating the ultimate Amazons. In a sci-fi setting almost anything is possible in theory, but no female Space Marine has ever been portrayed in the background of 40K. This seems to be an absolute rule. However this is not the whole story, and delving into the deep past of 40K, it seems the Sisters of Battle started out pretty much the same of the Space Marines in many respects…

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Horus Heresy – An Alternative History?
13th Jan, 2010

I was discussing the Horus Heresy over on Dark Reign’s forum, when a heresy of my own popped into my head. Instead of the Primarchs betraying the Emperor, what if the Emperor betrayed the Primarchs! In this re-image the betrayed Primarchs would have to fight back with everything they have, seeing as the Emperor is so powerful, and this would drive the Primarchs into the arms of chaos. As they draw heavily on warp energies, in their desperation to survive, they become corrupted. This links into early descriptions of the Primarchs are being ‘warp enhanced’ (in strength, and special powers). So if they push their abilities, the assumed built in safeguards start to breakdown.

Now all I need is a good rationale as to why the Emperor would betray the Primarchs?

The Emperor is a magnitude of power greater than the Primarchs. The Emperor can see much of the future, and makes some very harsh choices based on what he sees coming down the line. Without detailed explanation others can not hope to understand, and even if explained it may not sit right with someone. This re-image could be quite complex, and perhaps draw upon Earth’s religious mythologies and fables and revamp them for a modern audience. The Primarchs would be much more the ‘angels who can not disobey’, until one does…

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5th Jan, 2010

I really like the old Slann for the Rogue Trader era. You do not see them about much these days. They seem to have been over-written with the ‘old ones’. I suppose in current background the Slann are the ‘old ones’, the terms interchangeable, though ‘Slann’ never seems to be used. The problem is that the old ones are so utterly-powerful, and the Slann being mere space frogs, that there is a bit of a disconnect. They do not really much up in concept. I quite like the idea that the Slann of the agents of the Old Ones. At time the interaction may be deeper, and the Slann Priest may function as vessel for part of an Old One’s conciousness, an avatar of an Old One, or visionary. I see the Old Ones as only being able interact with reality through the Slann.

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Iron Men and the STC
21st Dec, 2009

I was thinking the Iron men would be the ‘front end’ to the system – the friendly face of the STC. The Iron Men would co-operate and interact with the colonists to design the systems and infrastructure the colonists wanted and needed.

It would not take much storage in future technology terms to house all the templates and standards for a new colony based on STC. Coupled with a AI to manage it all and interact.

The benefits of such a set up would be to deny humans full control of the colony infrastructure, making harder for humans to screw it up (making it idiot proof by removing the idiots :P). If the Iron men are human shaped it would mean there would be a certain amount of redundancy built into the system as a whole, as the tools and gear used by the Iron Men for maintainable could also be used by humans too – should the Iron Men hand over control of that side of things. Also all access ways, and control panels are humocentric. Some Iron Men could even by quite human looking, maybe even like Ash of Bishop of Aliens or Terminator covered in synthetic flesh, enabling expression and ease communication.

In case of an accident the Iron Men may be vital – a colony could have a single Iron Men, and that Iron Men would be the source of knowledge for their survival. The Iron Man would know how to make tools from scratch, to use them and teach others, to start building and planing for a later civilization, while taking care of the colonists immediate survival. The tools the Iron Man makes first of all would be used to build shelters etc. but later they could build more advanced tools using the tools they have already made, and keep advancing, step by step.

I single Iron Man could rebuild a civilization from scratch, though how long they last would be anyone’s guess – I imagine they would at least get a colony up to the Iron Age or greater, maybe even up to the industrial revolution, or leave a lot of project plans and blueprints for future generations to go into an industrial revolution later. The Iron Man could even build a printing press and print out books.

On a full STC supported colony, with hundreds of them helping out, and STC machines and automated factories with rapid prototyping machines for molds, to build what they need, and to build ever more advanced tools to make more advanced devices (and more even more advanced tools), which in turn are used to make even more advanced devices (and more advanced tools), and so on – I suspect a colony could be quite advanced in no time ๐Ÿ™‚

There are a lot of benefits to having the STC inside an ‘Iron Man’ who is human sized, proportioned, and who uses tools that humans could use too.

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

Trial of Fear – Update
16th Sep, 2009

This has been added to the Space Marine Creation page on the main website. It is a reworking of the trail of fear and incorporates some ideas that have been floating around in my head for a while. I was reminded of it when posting on WarSeer abut marines. There are a lot of things that need updating and bring into line with the background (or explaining the loop holes better ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

A full battle brother’s blood and bodily fluids contains potent genetic maintenance agents that if ingested by a normal human will alter their genetic structure. This agent is the basis of the marines acidic and poisonous spit, and the ingestion of this is fundamental first step in altering a human into a marine. All chapters require the recruit to drink the blood of the chapter from the chapter’s grail. The grail ritual appears in all the chapters, and in all cases it includes the drinking of the blood of full marines and in some cases the blood of the Primarch!

Once these agents are ingested the effects on the body are traumatic and pronounced and many recruits will not survive. The Space Wolves ‘Canis Helix’ is probably the strongest of these agents and many die in the ice fields of Fenris screaming in pain. The Blood Angel’s seems just as virulent and perhaps produce the greatest physical changes, those mutants who survive the blood of Sanguinius and the sarcophagus emerge as a vision of their Primarch.

Genetic Alterations: As the agent invades the body now produces a range of hormones and proteins that are mostly completely useless to the normal human body, and in many cases harmful to the human body. As the recruit endures the levels of these new hormones and chemicals rise and induce great pain and madness. The perceptions of the initiate so they see things that aren’t there and are prone to suggestion. This is the time when the Chapter moulds the core mind on the future marine. Working with the sickness induced by the new hormones, the initiate is put through the ringer of madness until utterly broken. Then they are rebuilt and taught how focus, how to deal with pain. As they learn these lessons they are injected with geneseeds, which as they grow, the use the hormones and this in turn lifts the madness, restoring metal functioning. The initiate is then thrown into the Trial of Solitude.

Geneseeds: These new proteins and hormones are designed to support and feed ‘geneseeds’. Geneseeds cultivated chimera stem cells that under the influence of the new hormones and proteins flourish into new organs that further modify the initiate’s body. The geneseeds are invasive and can cannibalise surrounding tissue and convert them, they act like targeted cancer. As geneseeds are added they absorb the new hormones, and they absorb a lot when growing. New geneseeds have to be added at regular intervals to balance the system, and the penultimate geneseed of the Progenoids which regulate the whole system. The Progenoids can not go in until all the other implants are in place.

The first implant results in a major cardiovascular alteration often referred to as ‘a second heart’ but that is a gross simplification. This is sometime accompanied with corrective surgery, though many Chapters will leave a recruit experiencing complications to die.

Implants: Secondary ‘Heart’ geneseed implanted, Ossmodula geneseed implanted.

Psalm Verse: Text II

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