Growth and Maturity
21st Dec, 2010

The Space Marine Morphology page has been updated with an expanded 'Growth and Maturity' section. This is a mix of old material with additional explanation. I've denoted it as 'optional' to make it clear it can be separated out from the main concept, as the main Marine design concept is closely based on canonical information and Jes' notes, while the growth section is wild speculation.

This section deals with the variations in marine size found throughout Games Workshop publications. It's entirely possible for such variations to be natural. Some marines may simply grow taller than others. This does raise an interesting curiosity should this be the case: that in 40K marine heroes tend to be depicted as being taller than 7' and more often 8'. It could be that the larger marines are more heroic? This would further plays into Western ideals of heroes being exceptional by bloodline, and there is nothing wrong in that interpretation, but on its own I find it a little 'narrow' in vision. It could do with some more variations added into the pot. What follows is an additional way to explain why marine heroes tend to be taller. It can be used in conjunction with the first.

Read more @ Space Marine Morphology

We've hit 1,000
18th Sep, 2010

The 1,000 chapter project has hit 1,001! This means there are some changes coming in the way it is organised. There are 474 MIA chapters in the gallery, and these all need to be claimed (converted to a DIY) or replaced. Dazzo and myself take the view that we should sort out a new 'prime' list (or whatever it will be called) that will display only canon and DIY chapters. At the moment this would yield a mere 525 chapters - so quite a way to go before this prime list gets up to 1,000!

The MIAs are not going to be discarded, instead they will be included in a massive 'all' list. I want to keep them about as a fan may yet spot their chapter among the MIAs, it may also inspire some, and some may want to claim and take over MIAs.

There are plans to deal with double ups. At a later date I'll add some code that will add clickable asterisks next to the chapter name that will denote alternative versions. These alternate versions could be fan made IA for official chapters that have not be developed by GW, or later versions of fan made DIY chapters with the same name (generally the oldest version gets the picture in the gallery and later version get the asterisk).

Both Dazzo and I hope you will enjoy our efforts, and you are always welcome to add your chapter to the list 😉

For more information please visit the main gallery of the project.

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!

Updates to 1,000 Chapters Project
30th Jun, 2010

I've been messing about with the code of the gallery to try an make it easier to navigate and find what you are looking for. I have divided the main gallery into three (for now) subcategories: Canon, DIY, and MIA. Canon lists all the known official canon chapters that appear in GW material. DIY lists all the non-canon chapters made up by fans that have an Index Astartes (IA). The last subcategory is a bit of a limbo as it lists all the non-canon chapters that are missing an IA (MIA). I'm currently trying to hunt down all the IA for the MIA chapters. If you have any information please post in this thread over on Bolter and Chainsword: = Request for links to Chapter IA =

Degrees of Success in Dark Heresy
17th May, 2010

This post follows on from the previous two, and builds upon the 'Highest Successful Roll' house rule. In this post I put forward my modification to the 'Degrees of Success' or 'DoS'. The DoS rules adds an extra layer of detail, but can quite tedious to apply to WS tests in combat. If you find the RAW (rules as written) covering DoS a bit slow then this mod is for you.

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Opposed tests in Dark Heresy
4th May, 2010

This is a house rule mod for Dark Heresy RPG. I'm thinking of posting up a few of my house rules I've collected up over the years. Most of them are forerunners of my ideas for WarSpike, which is also a percentile system, and many of these were posted on the old Black Industries forum (RIP). They have their roots in Rune Quest, Call of Cthulhu, and other percentile systems. I really like percentile systems as they are fast, but quite often later add-ons dramatically slow them down. These ad-hoc remedies keep the game flowing.

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New Gallery for 1,000 Chapters Project
27th Apr, 2010

The old gallery proved to be too much trouble to keep updated on a regular basis. With new fan made chapters turning up all the time (like Bolter and Chainsword's Iron Gauntlet Challenge) I needed an easier way to keep it maintained. I wanted to separate the marines in the old pages into their individual pics, so I could reorder them, but will 1,000 marines this was going to be a bit of a headache. The only answer was to get a proper gallery system to handle this (and on that could automate alphabetical order would be nice). After having a look about, I plumbed for the excellent nextGEN Gallery plugin for WordPress. It seems pretty robust, but only time will tell if it (or my host) can handle 1,000 images in a single gallery!

After playing about with the gallery a bit, I started converting the old gallery into the new one. This may take a while as I have to cut up all the old '20 marines per picture' pages into the individual marines and then upload 'em to the new gallery. I've managed 10 pages so far (I've no idea how Dazzo kept his sanity as this is incredibly tedious!) but I think it will be worth it in the end.

Update: The conversion of old gallery is complete (757 chapters in total)
Update: Added 70 'blanks' for canon chapters that are known but lack a colour scheme (832 chapters in total)
Update: We are passed the 1,000 mark!

The gallery has some interesting features, and one of these is image 'tags'. Using tags you can create galleries that only show the images with a specific tag. I thought this would be very useful in dividing up the 1,000 chapters so that fans could quickly isolate the chapters they are looking for. Below is a gallery based on the tag "first".

This only shows the 1st founding (loyalist) chapters. These images are within the main gallery, but are plucked out based on this tag. This will save me from making multiple galleries and duplicating images. As a future possibility I may be able to use one page for the gallery and reload the gallery images based on tags! The only problem is that the tag based galleries can not take specific custom templates and seem to be a little isolated form the main gallery system. It's all new to me, but I sure there is a way...

The full (prototype) gallery can be found here: 1,000 Chapters
Which will eventually replace the old gallery [edit: link removed]

8th Mar, 2010

This is a clarification (reimage) of the technologies found in power armour Autosense used by Space Marines in 40K.  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.  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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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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Power Conservation in Space Marine Armour
24th Jan, 2010

The Imperium makes heavy use of thermoelectric devices and materials, an advanced form of technology based on the Seebeck effect we know now, to convert heat into electricity. The STC power-packs found lining the interior of the multi-fuel engine fireboxes, and powers the ubiquitous Imperial Guard's Lazgun, are thermoelectric devices. These power-pack are made up of a stack of layer core, much like a heat-sink, coated in a highly efficient thermoelectric material. When heated these layers convert the heat into electricity and store it in a battery.

These materials can also be incorporated into flexible materials and fashioned into a EES (extreme enviroment suits). Many environments where humans have to work in 40K are hostile, with extremes of temperature that would freeze a man solid or set their flesh ablaze in an instant, and to protect the wearer from these extremes the outer layer of the EES is often a super-insulator. While this is great for isolating the wearer from the enviroment, it also means that within the suit there is a build up of heat generated by the body. This is were the thermoelectric layer is vital as takes the build up of body heat converts it into electricity. This cools the body and keeps the internal temperature of the suit constant (as the parameters of the design only has to deal with body heat, and sub-system heat, it is easy to optimise the system), and the generated electricity is then used to power life-support subsystems via a rechargeable battery. Subsystems include the comms, air scrubber pumps, and water auto-sense gear.

Space Marines: These thermoelectric materials and devices are used in construction of the highly advanced Space Marine Power Armour. The armour incorporates a thermoelectric layer under the super-insulator ceramite armour plates. This not only cools the hyper-metabolism body of the marine, reclaiming spent power and feeding it back into the enviroment sub-system, it drastically reduces their IR (infra-red) signature make them virtually invisible to heat sensing equipment. Space Marines always appear at 'ambient temperature' when viewed through any heat sensor, auto-sense, or thermo-goggles.