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.

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Underhive Pound
18th Oct, 2010

'Pound' is a genre of music found in underhives of 40K. It is popular with gangers, scum, and mutants. My first thought of this type of music it that is would be some kind of hard core techno. I quickly dismissed this when I thought about the economy and resources of the Underhive. Modern techno uses sophisticated instruments, amps, and gear that I doubt those in the Underhive would have access to. If they did have access to such gear I suspect if would be rare and not common enough to found a genre of the Underhive music. We are so used to modern technology it is often hard to over look it and think of a world without it. I think the music of the Underhive has to be limited by resources. Back to basics.

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Forbidden Planet
8th Sep, 2010

One of my favourite sci-fi movies is the 1957 classic 'Forbidden Planet'. The story revolves around a machine created by the Krell. These advanced aliens who could make anything they wanted from raw energy supplied by thousands of fusion reactors deep under the surface of Altair IV. This energy could be changed into anything, even physical matter, and it was controlled with their thoughts. However all did not go well for the Krell.

Suffice to say it ends in tragedy. The Krell are long dead. Now 200,000 years later humans are playing about with it. More tragedy follows when a 'Demon of the Id' starts hunting the crew of the United Planets Cruiser C-57D, conjured up by Dr. Morbius' unconscious mind. As he sleeps he has no control over his mind , or the link to the machine, and the Krell machine uses his 'Id' to make a demon, born of his fears for his daughter. The Demon is a guardian; doing what he desires to do, but his concious mind suppresses.

It becomes clear how the Krell died - they we betrayed by their deeply suppressed subconscious mind.

I always loved the concept, and thought it would be a great concept/ model for the warp in Warhammer 40,000. The warp could take the place of the machine and the fusion generators - a source of pure creation energy, and it would be limitless. This energy can be accessed by Psykers, and moulded with the conscious mind to create powers, and in the case of Eldar 'wraithbone'. Apparently all humans have latent Psykers to varying degrees (apart from Pariah) and while they cannot access the warp in the waking hours what about when they sleep?

Untold trillions of humans, and other sentient beings, may unconsciously access the warp. The warp would take the most powerful innermost drives of fear and desire, striped of all reason, and manifest the 'Demons of the Id'. The Daemons would be vague imprints in the warp, unable to gain access to the Materium. This would not be a problem if few people are accessing the warp, but what if trillions of people have the same fears and drives, would they combine to create something that can exist? An entity that could be summoned

Such a being would be extreme in nature, and with an inconstant form that is ever changing (chaos) but in the moment of summ0ning the expectation of the conscious Psyker may go a long way into forming the body the entity will inhabit. This could explain the consistency of daemonic form across the various powers. That they are made in the image seen in the mind's eye of the summoner. These images would come from forbidden books describing them, and depicting them. The artists image would have power, the power to invoke a mental image that then comes into reality.

Temple of the Machine God
1st Aug, 2010

Every Imperial world that uses STC technology has a Temple erected to the Machine God. These temples vary from techno-gothic castles, to vast fortified industrial complexes with a towering spires surrounding a gravity lift. No matter the size, the temple is the Adeptus Mechanicus' presence on that world - their base of operations. All technology built on a Forgeworld and delivered to an Imperial world passes through the temple. The temple sanctifies the technology, ensures it is working, and is responsible for passing it on to the inhabitants of that world.

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STC Universal Enclosure
29th Jul, 2010

This is a concept for a universal enclosure. One in a set of enclosures used throughout the Imperium. I'll start out with a guestimate of the concept, true it up towards the end, and perhaps go into some of the consequences, and impact of this STC.

The enclosure will be a medium shipping container size, quite large, around 2m x 2m x 2m, perhaps with a built in pallet (2.2m high). In concept is is similar to a large reusable shipping crate (similar to something like the quick-crate system - but not in a patent infringing way, so I'll 40K it up a bit with some auto-studs). It is made of a laminated ceramite composite material - similar to a very strong ply-wood except it can withstand bullet impacts and is fireproof. It can be flat packed.

This enclosure is designated as 'universal' as the Ad-Mec use it for roles aside from shipping. While it can be used to transport small items (munitions, weapons, devices, rations, spare parts, etc.) as a packing crate, it is also used as an outer case to STC appliance units (air-recycling, water storage, batteries, plasma engines, etc), and even used to house compact hab (pod) units.

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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.  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.