"They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give of themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them. They shall be of iron will and steely sinew. In great armour I shall clad them and with the mightiest weapons shall they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease; no sickness shall blight them. They shall have such tactics, strategies and machines that no foe will best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines...and they shall know no fear."
- — The Emperor of Mankind
The Space Marines or Adeptus Astartes are foremost amongst the defenders of Humanity, the greatest of the Emperor of Mankind's warriors. They are barely Human at all, but superhuman; having been made superior in all respects to a normal man by a harsh regime of genetic modification, psycho-conditioning and rigorous training.
Space Marines are untouched by plague or any natural disease and can suffer wounds that would kill a lesser being several times over, and live to fight again. Clad in ancient power armour and wielding the most potent weapons known to man, the Space Marines are terrifying foes and their devotion to the Emperor and the Imperium of Man is unyielding. They are the God-Emperor's Angels of Death, and they know no fear.
The Astartes are physically stronger, far more resilient and often mentally far removed from the lot of most normal Human beings. In the presence of the Astartes, most people feel a combination of awe and fear, and many cultures on the more primitive worlds simply worship them outright as demigods or angels of the God-Emperor made flesh.
They should feel so, for many Space Marines feel little compassion for those they have sometimes termed "mortals" in comparison to themselves, seeing the very people they were created to protect as little more than obstacles to a more efficient eradication of the Imperium's enemies.
This is an attitude sometimes taken by whole Chapters. They see normal Humans as frail, weak creatures given to the follies of temptation, avarice, greed, lust and cowardice -- all emotions they rarely feel, if ever.
Yet there are some Astartes who remember why they were created by the Emperor, who avoid the trap of hubris which the Space Marines are so prone to and which has seduced so many of their number to serve the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. They are the final guardians of Mankind, the saviours of last resort.
They were intended not to lead Humanity, but to defend it, sometimes even from itself. At the heart of that mission lies the limitless compassion the Emperor extended to every man and woman in the galaxy when He willingly chose to condemn Himself to more than 10,000 years of imprisonment within a dying prison of flesh for their sake.
Some Astartes sneer at compassion, seeing it as one more Human weakness that has been purged from their superior transhuman bodies and minds. But the wisest of the Space Marines know that in the end, compassion is their only salvation.
Potential Space Marines are usually, but not always, recruited from the worlds where a Chapter has established its fortress-monastery, although some Chapters are known to recruit from a collection of different worlds in an area of space that they protect or frequent.
Recruiting methods vary from Chapter to Chapter. Some select their neophytes from feral tribes roaming the surface of inhospitable worlds, while others draw upon eager volunteers who have been groomed from birth to become an Astartes.
Still others watch and kidnap potential warriors, turning them into Astartes whether they will it or not. Whatever the method, all Space Marine Chapters will only accept those who successfully pass the grueling initiation trials and prove themselves worthy of becoming a Space Marine.
However a man becomes a Space Marine does not matter: once his body has been forged into that of a transhuman Astartes, he must forever stand apart from the people to whom he was once kin and who he is now sworn to protect. Once a man becomes a Space Marine, he is no longer mortal; his genetic heritage is now that of the Emperor Himself, and a spark of the same divine majesty flows in his veins.
There are approximately 1,000 Space Marine Chapters active in the Imperium of Man at any one time. Since the opening of the Great Rift, these Chapters have been comprised of a mixture of traditional Firstborn Space Marines and the even more enhanced Primaris Space Marines, or may contain only Primaris Marines.
A list of the most notable and well-known Chapters in the Imperium can be found here. This number has stayed relatively constant since the Second Founding in the 31st Millennium following the Horus Heresy when the First Founding Space Marine Legions were broken up.
However, the exact population of Astartes in the galaxy remains far from exact and may fluctuate widely depending on the time period and the circumstances confronting the Imperium.
- 1 History
- 2 Space Marine Chapters
- 3 Primaris Space Marines
- 4 Founding of a Space Marine Chapter
- 5 Space Marine Recruitment
- 6 Space Marine Combat Doctrine
- 7 Chapter Organisation
- 8 Bonds of Brotherhood
- 9 Relations with the Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard)
- 10 Relations with the Inquisition
- 11 Space Marine Armour
- 12 Chapter Fleets
- 13 Chapter Relics
- 14 Videos
- 15 Forces of the Space Marines
- 16 See Also
- 17 Sources
The Space Marines are the Imperium of Man's supreme warriors. Genetically-enhanced to be the ultimate soldiers of Mankind, they are far stronger and more resilient than ordinary Human beings. Space Marines are organised into roughly a thousand Chapters, with each Chapter numbering approximately 1000 warriors organised into ten companies of 100 troops each.
Each Chapter is a self-sufficient Imperial army, equipped with its own spacecraft and capable of responding at a moment's notice to any threat to the security of the Imperium. Every Chapter is fiercely proud of its history and achievements, and each one has its own distinctive colours and heraldic markings. These were established at the Chapter's Founding and are displayed with pride upon all of its armour and vehicles.
All of the wargear of the Space Marines is painstakingly maintained, and many items are covered in lines of intricately rendered devotional script in High Gothic, each line detailing a battle honour won in a glorious campaign.
A Space Marine is a towering, transhuman warrior, his brute strength tempered by inhuman skill. He is armed with the fearsome Bolter, a blessed weapon that fires devastating, mass-reactive shells that explode within the flesh of the target.
He is protected by a suit of power armour, shielding him from the fiercest of enemy fire whilst simultaneously strengthening his blows and allowing him to survive the most hostile of environments.
He is the product of intensive training and genetic manipulation, which transforms mortal men selected from the deadliest warrior races in the known galaxy into the most lethal of superhuman killing machines in Mankind's arsenal.
The Thunder Warriors
The Space Marines can trace their origins back to the Unification Wars on Terra in the late 30th Millennium, when the Emperor of Mankind first revealed His existence and led regiments of deadly genetically-engineered soldiers known as Thunder Warriors in a great campaign to unite all of the myriad techno-barbarian tribes and nation-states of Old Earth under his rule.
From the outset of his retaking of Terra, the Emperor employed genetically modified warriors within His forces and in these early enhanced troops lay the origins of what would later become the Space Marine Legions. During the Age of Strife, known as "Old Night" on Terra, the cradle of Mankind had seen more than its fair share of augments and "super" soldiers created both from the bio-alchemy of genetic engineering and cybernetic augmentation.
But it was the Emperor's own Thunder Warriors, named for the early thunderbolt and raptor's head heraldry used by their master in the Imperium's earliest days, that were to prove superior to all of them.
These superhuman warriors were a gestalt mix of unprecedented superhuman physical power, gene-programmed resistance to environmental and even psychic attack, a warlike spirit and the Emperor's own strategic genius. The Thunder Regiments were an army unlike any that had come before them, and the forces of the powerful tyrants of Old Earth had nothing to match them.
This Unification of Humanity's homeworld marked the beginning of the Imperium of Man and the Emperor's quest to reunite all of Humanity under a single interstellar government.
This quest was intended to prevent His species' extinction from the growing threats which confronted the Human-settled galaxy in the wake of the Age of Strife. But despite their many early victories in the Unification Wars, the Thunder Warriors were far from perfect.
Some were mentally unstable, others suffered catastrophic biological failure after an unprecedented span of years as their own superhuman physiques turning against them in the end.
It seems obvious in retrospect that the Emperor knew early on that a more permanent and stable force of genetically enhanced warriors was needed, so even while the Thunder Warriors waged war in their early days the Emperor gathered about Him a team of savants and gene-wrights, some willing and others as captives taken from His foes, and constructed new genetics laboratories deep in the vast dungeons of the former Sigillite fortress He had taken on His own beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains.
Labour there went on for solar decades in absolute secrecy and resulted in the creation of the primarchs and other wonders of gene-craft known and unknown. Foremost amongst these were the Space Marine Legions, the Legiones Astartes.
Into their creation went all the secret history and genetic lore of the Age of Strife, hard wisdom gained through the success and failure of the Thunder Warriors and the Emperor's own unparalleled genius.
The Grey Legions
"Before this Age, it was said of heroes that they were not born, but created, forged in the fires of adversity and war. In these days in which we now live, however, heroes are indeed born, in the gene-forges of the Emperor's genius. To be a hero amongst such warriors as these is true achievement, and one even the most elevated of our forebears could never have dreamed of."
- — Orsan Lakk, late of the Order of Remembrancers
The first among the Space Marines were hand-picked men drawn from the Emperor's personal bodyguard. These volunteers were subjected to surgical, genetic and psychological modification.
With rigorous training and appropriate mental conditioning they became not only immensely strong and tough, but iron-willed and disciplined, no longer prone to the psychological damage that normally affected Humans facing the stress of constant combat.
They were an unstoppable force whose loyalty to the Emperor was unflinching. Quickly the process was refined and systematised, and the numbers of the new enhanced warriors, at first armed and armoured as the Thunder Warriors had been, grew swiftly.
The first Astartes were organised into twenty distinct regiments numbering no more than a few hundred warriors each. Although it remained a dire secret at the time, it is now widely believed that this division was more than a merely administrative one, as each regiment contained variant "gene-seed" encoding drawn from a different primogenitor primarch.
This often manifested its influence in subtle and unexpected ways, not least of all in influencing the psychological character of the genetically enhanced warriors.
With the regiments expanding rapidly into full Legions with the intake of new blood from the areas of Terra that had already joined cause with the Emperor, the new warriors quickly eclipsed and replaced the mighty but far less-disciplined and mentally unstable Thunder Warriors. As the proto-Space Marine Legions were unleashed in the latter days of the Unification Wars, victory followed victory in quick succession.
As time went on, the Space Marine regiments became Legions as the Emperor recruited young men from amongst the newly conquered tribes of Old Earth and the hundreds of Astartes in service to the Imperium swiftly became tens of thousands.
These superhuman troops dominated the final days of the Wars of Unification, easily defeating all their Terran opponents and forcing those among the Tech-priests of Mars who had intervened in the conflict on Terra to delay the Emperor's victory to sue for peace.
But in truth, the victories of the early Space Marines created a new problem within the Imperial fold. The Emperor had been right to be worried about His earlier creations, the Thunder Warriors.
One ancient source claims that even before the Unification Wars had ended, the Thunder Warriors, already jealous of their replacements' long lives, at last realised that their creator had cursed them with short lifespans as a result of their imperfect genetic augmentations. In their rage and fear, they turned upon Him for what they saw as His betrayal.
It was a cadre of several hundred Custodians of the Legio Custodes, the Emperor's bodyguard, even then believed to have been led by the legendary Constantin Valdor, and accompanied by several thousand prototype Astartes of the I Legion of the newborn Space Marines, that stood in the Emperor's defence, carrying out a merciless culling of the obsolete and rebellious gene-soldiers.
Despite such tragedies, the Space Marines fought with righteous zeal and it was they who first referred to their mission as a "Crusade." By their efforts, for the first time in unrecorded millennia, the Earth was united under the rule of one man.
The armour they wore was not new, but the same partially powered armour that had evolved on Old Earth and was worn by the elite of both the Emperor's armies and the techno-barbarian tribes that had fought against Him.
Some of this "Thunder Armour," first named for the Thunder Regiments that were the Legions' forebears, was newly forged, but the Emperor's warsmiths also took or cannibalised many suits from the armouries and corpses of conquered foes.
As if to mark a break from the wars of the past, the armour of the first Astartes was cast in storm cloud grey, and bore only the thunderbolt and lightning marks of Imperial Unity.
Over time, the Space Marine Legions gained their own marks of distinction and character. Names, Emperor-given in some cases, others by the primarchs, came to replace the Legions' original numbers, with many Space Marine companies seeking to single themselves out from their brother Legions.
Battle honours were accumulated and the effect of each Legion's character worked upon them, so that as the Legions expanded to conquer the galaxy, storm cloud grey became granite, silver, viridian, sable, gold, ocean, ash or ice, and by the time of the Triumph of Ullanor, the "Grey Legions" of the Unification era were gone, lost to history.
Of the 1,000 or more Space Marine Chapters thought to be in existence at the present time, a blessed few can trace their beginnings back to an age more than ten thousand standard years ago in the late 30th Millennium, when the Emperor of Mankind still walked amongst mortals.
In those days, the Emperor first created the primarchs, 20 immortal superhumans blessed with extraordinary intelligence, charisma and sheer physical might who were to be His proconsuls, generals and closest comrades during the Great Crusade to reunite the scattered and long-isolated Human colony worlds after the end of the Age of Strife.
The primarchs wielded powers the like of which are not known in the Imperium today, yet they were lost to the Warp in an accident deep within the Emperor's gene-laboratories beneath the fortress that would become the Imperial Palace. They were were scattered, still in their gestation capsules, through the Immaterium to worlds across the galaxy by the will of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
The first Space Marines of the nascent Imperium were also the creation of that era, each made using the genetic inheritance of one of the primarchs, albeit diluted a hundred times, for no merely Human body could contain such power.
As each of the primarchs were encountered in turn by Imperial Expeditionary Fleets during the progress of the Great Crusade, they became the natural and obvious leader of the Space Marine Legion created from their genetic material and with whom they had so much in common.
In many cases the primarch's adopted world became the new base of operations for their Legion and was known henceforth as that Legion's homeworld.
The primarchs then recruited their loyal followers from each of these world's peoples into the ranks of their Legion while others were given rights to draw fresh blood from suitable warlike worlds that were liberated as the Great Crusade progressed.
With the re-discovery of the primarchs and in many cases newly adopted homeworlds used as Legion fiefs (most commonly the worlds upon which a Legion's new master had been found), this was to change the character and culture of the original Legions profoundly.
Some alterations were superficial: a habit of speech, a change in close-quarter tactics, martial traditions and warranted additions to iconography and even language.
But for others the change would prove dramatic, with entire paradigms of culture, tradition and even ideology overwriting what had come before, such as in what came to be known as the Space Wolves and Dark Angels Legions.
In many cases the stamp of the Legions and the will of the primarchs on their recruits came to largely outweigh differences of birth or blood.
But in other Legions such as the Luna Wolves and the Emperor's Children, a subtle divide would grow between those veterans born on Terra who had been recruited into the ranks of the Astartes by the Emperor and those who had come into the Legion from their primarch's homeworld.
The names of many of the primarchs still echo down the millennia, and the tales of their deeds are legendary. Names such as Lion El'Jonson, Leman Russ, Rogal Dorn, Vulkan, Corax and the angel-winged Sanguinius are spoken of with awe on those worlds where Mankind dwells.
They command a reverence second only to that afforded the Emperor Himself. Other names are cursed wherever men gather, for many of the primarchs rebelled against the Emperor and followed Horus, mightiest of their number, when he raised his standard against Mankind on behalf of Chaos.
Crusade and Expansion
As the Great Crusade continued the expansion of the nascent Imperium into the galaxy, the discovery of the primarchs and their newly adopted homeworlds helped to stem an impending crisis that was not widely known of at the time outside of the exalted ranks of the Imperium's ruling War Council.
Namely, the diminishing stability of the gene-seed itself through over-use and the increasing need for ever greater numbers of Space Marines in the field.
This was a matter that only worsened as the Great Crusade pushed ever wider afield into the galaxy. Imperial forces could no longer be concentrated as easily as before, and attrition was taking its toll as years of near-constant battle became solar decades.
To relent the pace of the Great Crusade's progress was for the Emperor simply not an option and so the simple truth was that more Space Marines were needed and they needed to be created faster than before.
A secret conclave of gene-wrights under the Emperor's direct supervision posited the solution that became known as Grabiya's Theorem, which demonstrated that a primarch's genetic code could be used to stabilise and expand Astartes gene-seed stocks with what was hoped to be "minimal deviation."
Alongside this accelerated gene-culturing technique, other previously unavailable genetic technologies, many taken from the Selenar gene-cults of Luna, were put into effect, reducing the processing time required to create a battle-worthy Space Marine to a single Terran year in some cases.
Such accelerated gene-seed techniques, along with absent, inadequate or over-forceful psycho-indoctrination techniques, were later found to have unseen fundamental flaws.
Many Imperial savants since have come to believe that the drive to create larger Space Marine Legions at accelerated speed played a prime role in the degradation of the sanity and psychological make-up of certain Legions and paved the way for the horror that was to come.
"It was treachery at first. To turn against brothers, to kill for personal advancement and power. But we have seen them, how their minds and bodies have been corrupted. Their very belief systems have been warped. This is no longer Horus's treachery. It is his heresy."
Hundreds of worlds burned in the name of the Dark Gods, and a terror unlike any seen before was unleashed across the galaxy during the seven dark standard years that the Heresy raged after the first battles in the Istvaan System.
Much of the truth of these times has been lost, obscured by the mists of time or embellished to the point where giants bestrode worlds with thunderous steps and the planets themselves cracked and split at their tread.
The Traitor forces of Horus drove all before them, until those Astartes Legions still loyal to the Master of Mankind stood at bay upon the fortified walls of the Imperial Palace during the climactic Siege of Terra.
The forces of darkness pressed in around the guttering flame of Humanity, but desperate times called for desperate solutions. Sanguinius of the Blood Angels and Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists, together with their bravest warriors, decided to accompany the Emperor and take the fight to Horus upon his Battle Barge the Vengeful Spirit, a mighty Gloriana-class Battleship in orbit above Terra.
The Emperor fought His way to the Warmaster but was too late to save Sanguinius, who Horus slew when the angelic primarch refused to turn to Chaos. Yet, some maintain that Sanguinius inflicted a wound, however small, upon his erstwhile brother.
Horus and the Emperor clashed in a battle of both flesh and spirit. Horus was filled with the power of the Ruinous Powers and dealt the Emperor a mortal blow, but in the end, the Emperor's will was the greater, and Horus was struck down with the last ounce of the Emperor's strength. The Archtraitor was destroyed utterly, in body and soul and, with his death, the power of the Traitor Legions was broken.
When Dorn and his warriors finally fought their way into the rebel Warmaster's sanctum, they found the Emperor's broken and ruined body, and it is said that their cries of woe were heard far below on Terra itself.
Rogal Dorn, most determined and unbending of the primarchs, bore his master's body back to Terra and, under the direction of the crippled Emperor, bound Him within the strange psychic augmentation device known as the Golden Throne to sustain His existence for all eternity with constant sacrifice and baroque machineries.
The followers of the Ruinous Powers were defeated, but it was victory won at a terrible cost. The brotherhood of the primarchs was sundered, and the Emperor's vision for the Imperium and all of Mankind lay in ruins -- the last, best hope of a new golden age for Humanity lost forever.
The galactic empire for Humanity the Emperor had forged was all but destroyed, and it was to take many more standard years of brutal warfare during the Great Scouring before all the Traitor forces were defeated and driven into the hellish chaos of the Eye of Terror.
The death toll numbered in the billions, and uncounted worlds had been left as little more than corpse-haunted wastelands as the raging inferno of what Imperial savants later named the Horus Heresy was finally extinguished, though Mankind still teetered on the very brink of extinction.
The Heresy had revealed weaknesses in the gene-seed of several of the early Space Marine Legions, which had been exacerbated by the need to keep the huge formations up to strength in the terrible wars being fought during the Great Crusade.
The insidious powers of Chaos had been able to manipulate this corruption to turn Horus and many of the Space Marines under his command against the Emperor.
Once Horus was defeated, it was decided by Roboute Guilliman, the primarch of the Ultramarines Legion who became the day-to-day ruler of the Imperium, that the forces of the Imperium would be reorganised so that a similar catastrophe could not be repeated.
The Space Marine Legions were divided up to create one Chapter of the same name as the founding Legion and a number of new Chapters with new names. This critical event of the early 31st Millennium was called the Second Founding, and over two dozen further Foundings have occurred in the ten millennia since.
It is not known exactly how many Chapters were created in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, as many of the Imperium's records are undertsandably incomplete or lost entirely, and whole Chapters have been created and destroyed in the millennia that have followed.
What is known is that there are just over a thousand Chapters scattered across the Imperium, each a brotherhood of the very finest warriors Humanity has ever called to its service.
The Codex Astartes
"The warrior who acts out of honour cannot fail. His duty is honour itself. Even his death -- if it is honourable -- is a reward and can be no failure, for it has come through duty. Seek honour as you act, therefore, and you will know no fear."
In the wake of the calamity that was the Horus Heresy, the foundations of the present-day Imperium were laid down during a period remembered as the "Reformation."
The first High Lords of Terra established, under the direction of Guilliman, the structure by which the Adeptus Terra operated, and described the feudal responsibilities and duties of the Planetary Governors. One of the most important accomplishments was the reorganisation of the Imperium's military forces.
This was undertaken almost single-handedly by Roboute Guilliman, who in his role as the post-Heresy Lord Commander of the Imperium moved with his characteristic speed and efficiency to codify the structure of the Astra Militarum, the Imperial Navy, and the Space Marines.
With the threat of the Traitor Legions held at bay in the wake of the Horus Heresy and the Great Scouring, Roboute Guilliman turned to ensuring that such a catastrophe could never happen again.
He distilled his formidable wisdom into a mighty tome known as the Codex Astartes. This text became a major part of his legacy and the cornerstone upon which the future of the Imperium would be based.
Of all Guilliman's works, the most influential would prove to be the Codex Astartes, the great prescriptive tome that lays down the basic organisational and tactical rules for a Space Marine Chapter. The Codex Astartes decreed that Space Marines would be created and trained over a controlled period of time.
Of special interest is the volume of the Codex that described in detail the tactical roles, equipment specifications, uniform markings, command protocols and countless other aspects of Space Marine doctrine. Though for all its multitudinous topics, the most lasting and contentious decree of the Codex Astartes was that the existing Space Marine Legions be broken up and reorganised into smaller organisations known as Chapters.
Though many of his brother primarchs initially railed against Guilliman's decree, almost all eventually accepted the necessity of reorganisation for the security of the Imperium. Thus were the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes born.
Upon the Codex 's implementation, in an event that would become known as the Second Founding, each of the old Legions became a single Chapter of 1,000 Astartes named for its forebear plus a number of other new Chapters.
In addition to a name and heraldry of their own, each of these new Chapters would take for itself a homeworld or fortress-monastery, and use it as a bastion from which to defend the Imperium from all threats.
The Codex Astartes stated that each Chapter would be one thousand battle-brothers strong and look to its own recruitment, training and equipment. Never again would one man be able to command the awesome, terrifying power of a Space Marine Legion.
The Horus Heresy had also revealed the inherent weaknesses of the gene-seed of several Space Marine Legions. These defects had been exacerbated by the accelerated gene-seed cultivation techniques needed to keep the huge Space Marine Legions up to strength.
One of the key objectives of the Codex Astartes was to recognise and expunge these genetic weaknesses. As a result, the Codex decreed that Space Marines would forever more be created and trained slowly.
The gene banks used to create Astartes implants would be carefully monitored and scrutinised for any defects. Cultivated organs would be subject to the most stringent tests of genetic purity.
Young aspirants would undergo trials of suitability before they were accepted, and only those of the very sternest character would be chosen.
As a final safeguard, Guilliman tasked the Adeptus Terra on Earth with setting up and maintaining gene banks to produce and store tithes of Space Marine gene-seed. These banks were to provide all new gene-seed for subsequent Foundings of Space Marine Chapters.
To prevent cross-contamination, the genetic stock of each Legion was isolated whilst that of the Traitor Legions was placed under a time-locked stasis seal, though at the time many believed they had been destroyed.
By taking direct control of these genetic tithes, the Adeptus Terra could ultimately control the Space Marines. They alone had the power to destroy or create Space Marine armies at will.
Over the millennia, there have been many subsequent Foundings of Space Marine Chapters. Many Chapters adhere rigidly to Guilliman's teachings. These Space Marines pride themselves on following the tenets within the hallowed pages of the Codex Astartes and applying its principles of warcraft and devotion to the Emperor.
With the passage of centuries, some Chapters have strayed from the strict letter of the Codex, introducing unique variations on its teachings but remaining broadly faithful to Guilliman's basic principles. Furthermore, the Codex has been reanalysed, reinterpreted and modified countless times over the centuries.
Indeed, the Codex Astartes of the late 41st Millennium is a highly developed treatise combining the experiences of hundreds of celebrated military thinkers throughout history.
Regardless, the Codex Astartes remains, as it has always been, the Space Marines' authoritative guide to waging war. As such, it is revered by every battle-brother as a holy text; the wisdom of the ancients serving as both scripture and the unbending rod by which they are measured.
Most Chapters stick rigidly to the organisation laid down by the Codex Astartes for tactical roles and other processes. Others, such as the Blood Angels, Black Templars and Dark Angels, are organised according to general Codex doctrines but maintain troops, tactics and idiosyncratic traditions that set them apart from their brethren.
A small number of Chapters are utterly different from the Codex, and owe nothing to it at all. The most famous of these is the Space Wolves. The sons of Leman Russ have never followed the Codex Astartes -- their strong-willed primarch moulded his Chapter very much in his own image, irrespective of other influences and dictates.
The Second Founding
The Second Founding of the Space Marines was decreed seven Terran years after the death of Horus. The existing Space Marine Legions were broken down and re-founded as smaller, more flexible formations.
Where the old Legions were unlimited in size, the new formations were fixed at approximately 1,000 Astartes. This corresponded to the existing Astartes unit within some Legions called the "Chapter," and in future the Chapter was recognised as the standard autonomous Space Marine formation.
No longer would one man have power over a force as powerful as a Space Marine Legion. The existing Space Marine Legions were divided into new Chapters. One Chapter kept the name, badge and colours of the original Legion, while the remaining Chapters took on new titles, badges and colours.
Most of the old Legions were divided into fewer than five Chapters, but the Ultramarines, being by far the largest of the Legions, were divided many times.
The exact number of new Chapters created from the Ultramarines is uncertain: the number listed in the oldest known copy of the Codex Astartes (the so-called Apocrypha of Skaros) gives the total as 23, but does not name them.
As a result of the Second Founding, the Ultramarines' gene-seed became the favoured genetic stock of most subsequent Astartes Foundings.
The new Chapters created from the Ultramarines are often referred to as the "Primogenitors," or the "first born." All of the Primogenitor Chapters venerate Roboute Guilliman as their founding father and patron.
The Codex Astartes further defines the tactical roles, equipment specifications, and uniform identification markings of the Space Marines.
Some of its contents seem petty and restrictive, hardly worthy of the great mind of a primarch. Others describe actual battles together with comments on the tactics employed and the decisions of the commanders of the day.
As such, the Codex is revered as a holy text of the Imperial Cult, and many Chapters regard its recommendations as sanctified by the Emperor Himself.
The Chapters that rigidly follow the word of the Codex Astartes are sometimes referred to as "Codex Chapters" or Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters. These Space Marines adhere to the Codex as the model for their organisation, identification markings and tactical doctrine. Of all of the Codex Chapters, the most famous is the Ultramarines, the Chapter of Roboute Guilliman himself.
The Adeptus Terra has never decreed it necessary to enforce the Codex absolutely. Indeed, it is doubtful whether it could if it so chose. However, with subsequent Foundings, they have always favoured the Ultramarines' gene-seed and created many new Codex Chapters from that genetic line.
With the passage of time, some of these Chapters have subsequently strayed from the strict letter of the Codex, introducing new variations on their organisation or tactical doctrine but remaining broadly faithful to the principles laid down by Roboute Guilliman many millennia before.
The history of the Imperium since the Horus Heresy is not a continuous story. There have been periods of rebellion and anarchy, times when the balance of power has suddenly changed and history has quite literally been rewritten.
Many of the subsequent Foundings of Space Marine Chapters belong to these troubled times, making it almost impossible to ascertain when some Chapters have been created.
It is believed that of the one thousand or more Chapters thought to be in existence today, more than a third are descended from the Ultramarines, either directly or through one of their Primogenitor Chapters of the Second Founding.
It is not known how many new Chapters were created by the Second Founding. Many records were lost during the Age of Apostasy, a troubled time in the 36th Millennium that bestrides the history of the Imperium like an impenetrable wall. In all likelihood, some of the Chapters created during the Second Founding have since been destroyed, leaving no records of the deeds.
Others have been lost in more recent times, and their names are now all that remains of them.
A Thousand Chapters
On many occasions in the Imperium's history, there have been long periods of rebellion and anarchy; times when the balance of power has suddenly changed and history been lost or re-written.
Many later Foundings of Space Marines were born of such troubled times, making it impossible to ascertain when they were created, their origins ever shrouded in mystery.
All that is known for sure is that there are approximately a thousand Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes today -- perhaps less than one Space Marine for every planet in the Imperium. That the Space Marines are equal to the task of safeguarding Mankind against such impossible odds is testament to their dedication and skill in battle.
It can be said that there are three main categories of Space Marine Chapters. The first and largest group are the scions of Guilliman –- those Chapters descended from the Ultramarines and their Primogenitors.
The Primogenitors are those Chapters created when the old Ultramarines Legion was divided during the Second Founding. Sometimes referred to as the "first born," these Chapters each maintain their own histories and traditions, but they all honour Roboute Guilliman as their primarch and adhere strictly to the procedures and tactical treatises he laid down in the Codex Astartes.
These Chapters maintain their own traditions, for the Codex Astartes insists that each should have its own name, badge and heraldry. Nonetheless, they honour Roboute Guilliman as their primarch and his successor, the ruler of Ultramar, as their distant liege. Should the Lord of Ultramar ever need aid, he will find these Chapters ever willing to fight at his side.
The Chapters in the second largest category owe their genetic inheritance to another primarch, but follow the Codex Astartes as closely as their divergent genetic heritage allows. While primarily made up of Successor Chapters, such as the Crimson Fists and Brazen Claws, this group also includes several Chapters from the First Founding –- most notably the White Scars, Imperial Fists, Iron Hands and Raven Guard.
While they still venerate their own primarchs, they nevertheless also aspire to the high standards and wise teachings that Roboute Guilliman put down in the Codex Astartes.
The final group is more wildly aberrant. These Chapters, by virtue of a gene-seed quirk, the teachings of their own primarch, or even sheer stubbornness, eschew the Codex Astartes in favour of their own structural and combat doctrines.
- The Horus Heresy (ca. 005-014.M31) - The Imperium is torn apart by the Horus Heresy, the great interstellar civil war fought between the Loyalist and Traitor Space Marine Legions. The rebel Warmaster Horus, despite pledging himself and his followers to the service of Chaos is defeated in single combat aboard his flagship Vengeful Spirit by the Emperor of Mankind at the conclusion of the Siege of Terra. Though Horus is slain, the Emperor is mortally wounded and must be placed within the arcane mechanisms of the device known as the Golden Throne. No longer able to interact directly on a day-to-day basis with Mankind, the Imperium is reorganised and reformed under the direction of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman as the Lord Commander of the Imperium and the other great lords of the Senatorum Imperialis.
- The Great Scouring (ca. 014-021.M31) - The Loyalist Space Marine Legions, in the course of their separation and the Imperial Army succeed in driving the Traitor Legions from their remaining holdings in the galaxy, and force them to flee into the eternal Warp rift known as the Eye of Terror in the Segmentum Obscurus. The remaining nine Loyalist Space Marine Legions are subjected to the Second Founding and the organisational dictates of the Codex Astartes, resulting in the creation of approximately 1,000 individual Space Marine Chapters. The Imperial Army is divided into the separate services of the Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard) and the Imperial Navy. The newborn Astra Militarum replaces the Legiones Astartes as the primary front-line ground forces of the Imperium, with the Adeptus Astartes reserved for more specialist roles such as planetstrikes and special operations.
- Second Founding (021.M31) - Roboute Guilliman summons his brother primarchs to Terra. There he presents his Codex Astartes, and counsels that the Legions must be broken down into Chapters. Dorn, Vulkan and Leman Russ vehemently oppose this motion, while Corax and the Khan side with Guilliman. With tensions rising, it appears as though the Imperium has survived one civil war only to be plunged into another, However, at the eleventh hour Rogal Dorn relents, recognising that his actions are motivated by pride and anger instead of reason. With disaster averted, the Second Founding takes place, and dozens of new Space Marine Chapters are born.
- The Ravens' Fate (Unknown Date.M32) - A sudden degeneration afflicts the gene-seed of the Raven Guard, causing organs to fail and implants to be rejected. From this time onward, the Raven Guard are forced to rely on gene-seed stocks from Terra, a factor that slows the Chapter's recruitment rates significantly but does not curtail their willingness for battle.
- The War of the Beast (544-546.M32) - The greatest Ork invasion the Imperium has ever known to this time threatens to bring Humanity to its knees. It is the combined forces of the Adeptus Astartes who stem the green tide, at great cost.
- Reunited (646.M32) - A one-hundred-standard-year period of anarchy is ended by the intervention of the Space Marines. Agnathio, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, unites over fifty Chapters of Space Marines and arrives upon Terra. Agnathio holds a locked council with the squabbling noble "rulers" of Terra. What is said has never come to light, but when the Space Marine fleets return to their homeworlds, there once again sit twelve High Lords of Terra, and unity is restored to the Imperium.
- The Apocrypha of Davio (Unknown Date.M33) - A great and holy document attempts to list all of the Chapters of the Second Founding. It is a worthy work, but remains incomplete.
- The Howling (401.M34) - The Black Templars Chapter end the Catelexis Heresy by executing the Cacodominus, an alien cyborg whose formidable psychic presence allowed it to control the populance of thirteen hundred planetary systems. Alas, the Cacodominus' death scream echoes and amplifies through the Warp, burning out the minds of a billion Astropaths and distorting the signal of the Astronomican. Millions upon millions of Imperial voidships are lost in the resulting upheaval and entire sub-sectors slide into barbarism without the dictats of the Adeptus Terra to guide them.
- The Moirae Schism (Unknown Date.M35) - The Adeptus Mechanicus is torn apart by conflict and internal division during the time of internal religious strife known as the Moirae Schism. The Adeptus Astartes are not immune to such conflicts; the Iron Hands, due to their close connection to the Mechanicus, are most severely affected. The result of the religious discord is the unexpected birth of the Sons of Medusa Chapter.
- The Cursed Founding (991.M35) - In an attempt to "improve" the creation of Space Marines the Adeptus Mechanicus tinkers with the genetic structure of the gene-seed used in the Cursed 21st Founding. The resulting Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes suffer myriad anomalies and many become corrupted by Chaos or suffer from rampant mutation and other disorders.
- Armoured Assault (282.M36) - The massed armoured spearheads of the Aurora Chapter break the Ork invasion of the world of Grylos.
- The Abyssal Crusade (321.M37) - Saint Basillius the Elder finds thirty Space Marine Chapters wanting in faith. The guilty must choose either death or to embark upon a redemptive Crusade into the Eye of Terror. All of the Chapters choose the latter mission, known as the Abyssal Crusade, and enter the Eye as an armada with their livery obscured and honour in doubt. Few return, only to discover that Basillius was actually a pawn of Chaos seeking to weaken the defences of the Imperium.
- Fateweaver Denied (798.M37) - The White Consuls prevail against the daemonic legions of Kairos Fateweaver.
- The Heavenfall Massacres (956.M37)
- Firestorm (Unknown Date.M38) - A Daemonic incursion overruns Innocence III. Dropping from orbit, the Salamanders' 6th Company endure terrible casualties in order to defend the planet's three remaining shrine cities and their civilian populace. With the cities safe, the vengeful Salamanders purge the Daemons from Innocence III with fire and blade.
- The Judgement of Basillius (112.M38) - The Vorpal Swords return from the Eye of Terror, leading the survivors of the Abyssal Crusade, to cast down the Chaos-tainted Saint Basillius.
- The Siege of Haddrake Tor (ca. M40) - The Imperial Fists besiege a Chaos stronghold on Haddrake Tor. After 1st Company Captain Kleitus is killed in a teleportation mishap, Sergeant Darnath Lysander takes up the fallen hero’s weapon, the Fist of Dorn, and swears vengeance. He smashes down the gates to the heretic fortress and leads his beleaguered brothers to victory against the odds, and is named 1st Company Captain just days later.
- Battle for Columnus (Unknown Date.M40) - The Forge World of Columnus is set upon by a vast Ork WAAAGH!. Aiding the Technomagi in its defence are elements of the Iron Hands and Raven Guard. The battle for Columnus is horrifically costly, largely thanks to the callous defensive strategies of the Iron Hands. Though victory is secured, rumours persist about the fate of the Raven Guard, supposedly wiped out while serving as unwitting bait in an Iron Hands trap.
- The Gothic War Begins (139.M41) - The 12th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler, also known as the Gothic War, begins in the Segmentum Obscurus' Gothic Sector. Before it is ended, it will draw in many Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes.
- The Jorun Retaliation (143.M41) - The Dark Eldar Kabal of the Crimson Libation incite the wrath of the Ultramarines, Howling Griffons and Sons of Orar. The Dark Eldar are defeated, but not before the Howling Griffons' Chaplain, Armand Titus, succumbs to xenos poison and is interred within a Dreadnought.
- The Macharian Crusade (392-399.M41) - The Macharian Crusade was a monumental, seven-year-long Imperial Crusade fought between 392.M41 and 399.M41, led by Lord Commander Solar Macharius, the Imperium's greatest Astra Militarum commander of all time and a recognised tactical and strategic genius on a par with the primarchs themselves. This Crusade took place on the far western edge of the galaxy within the Segmentum Pacificus, reaching as far as the border of the galaxy with intergalactic space and even reaching into the unknown regions of the Halo Zone. The furthest extent of this Crusade reached just beyond the edge of the Segmentum Pacificus, where not even the blessed light of the Astronomican could penetrate the dark void. Most Imperial savants agree that Macharius was the most successful and brilliant Imperial Warmaster since the Arch-Traitor Horus. Nearly a thousand worlds were brought back into the Imperial fold in only seven standard years of fighting.
- The Macharian Heresy (399-469.M41) - After Lord Solar Macharius' death, the territories that he conquered fall to war and strife. Seventy standard years of turmoil ensues and is ended only through the combined efforts of a hundred Space Marine Chapters, working across many far-flung sectors to restore order to the region in what is known as the Macharian Heresy.
- The Gaudinian Snare (460.M41) - On Gaudinia Prime, a Slaaneshi daemonic entity, known as the Sapphire King, and his minions attempt to turn the Iron Hands to Chaos by unleashing a mutagenic spell into the Space Marine ranks. Fuelled by the Iron Hands' own repressed rage, the spell wreaks absolute havoc, escalating quickly towards disaster. It is only stopped when Kardan Stronos orders his brothers to disengage inhibitor protocols and free their anger upon the foe. Rallying, the surviving Iron Hands purge their enemies with uncharacteristic zeal.
- The Corinthian Crusade (698.M41) - Marneus Calgar leads the Ultramarines, Angels of Absolution, Lamenters, Silver Skulls, Scythes of the Emperor, Marines Errant and fifty Imperial Guard regiments against WAAAGH! Skargor in the Corinthian Crusade. The Orks are crushed, and their threat diminished for over thirty standard years.
- The Damocles Gulf Crusade (742.M41) - In an Imperial Crusade to drive Tau invaders from Imperial worlds in the Damocles Gulf region of the Segmentum Ultima, the Novamarines are noted for their relentless persecution of all xenos life forms. Only their recall to serve in the First Tyrannic War prevents them from being present at the Imperial assault on the Tau Sept world of Dal'yth. This campaign is known as the Damocles Gulf Crusade.
- A Wedge Between Allies (744.M41) - After joining forces to defeat the Alpha Legion responsible for the Redemption Rebellion, the Knights of the Raven and the Aurora Chapter swear a bitter feud against each other, each blaming the other for their grievous losses.
- The First Tyrannic War (745.M41) - The Ultramarines and forces of the Imperial Navy successfully end the First Tyrannic War against Hive Fleet Behemoth at the Battle of Macragge, though the effort costs the lives of the entire Ultramarines 1st Company.
- The Blood Star Campaign (748.M41) - A massive daemonic incursion into the Scarus Sector is heralded by the star Ares turning an ominous blood red. The Relictors, Rainbow Warriors and Fire Lords eventually halt the invasion but take grievous casualties, including the loss of all three Chapter Masters. The Imperium grieves for three of its mightiest heroes.
- The Siege of Vraks (813.M41) - The Red Scorpions and Red Hunters fight to retake the Armoury World of Vraks Prime during the terrible campaign of attrition known as the Siege of Vraks. The seventeen-year-long conflict is deemed a success as the daemons and Chaos Space Marines are repulsed. However, Vraks is reduced to the state of a Dead World as the entire civilian population is wiped out in the fighting.
- The Lithon Purge (833.M41) - Over a hundred billion Imperial citizens are slain or captured by Dark Eldar in the Lithon System. The Revilers spend many solar months purging the xenos from the system and swear vengeance on those that escape into the Webway.
- The Doom of Idharae (852.M41) - The Invaders Chapter launch a direct assault on the Eldar Craftworld Idharae. Though the Space Marines suffer horrific casualties, they leave the Craftworld a ruined and desolate hulk, devoid of all life.
- The Lazar Blockade (857.M41) - The Silver Skulls' fleet blockades the Lazar System. Offering no explanation for their presence, they prosecute a secret mission to purge Necrons from the system. They obliterate the main Necron Tomb World, but secondary bases throughout the system suddenly come to life. The Silver Skulls suffer greatly, and their forces scatter into disarray. They are eventually forced to withdraw from Lazar, but to this day no outsider has ever learned the truth of what happened there.
- The Hellabore Assault (867.M41) - Captain Alessio Cortez and the Crimson Fists 4th Company battle the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden on the world of Hellabore. Despite suffering grievous wounds, including a stab wound to one of his hearts, Cortez leads the final assault that routs the Eldar from Hellabore.
- The Badab War Begins (901.M41) - Lugft Huron, Chapter Master of the Astral Claws, refuses to hand over his gene-seed tithe to the Administratum and instead announces his secession from the Imperium, declaring himself the ruling "Tyrant of Badab" in the Badab Sector of the Maelstrom Zone. Over a standard decade of bitter inter-system war follows, embroiling more than a dozen Space Marine Chapters before Badab falls and the Astral Claws escape to the Warp rift known as the Maelstrom at the conclusion of the internecine conflict named the Badab War.
- The World Engine (925.M41) - The Necron World Engine is revealed as the architect of the destruction seen in the Vidar Sector at this time. It is destroyed on the edge of the Doranno System, thanks chiefly to the noble and complete sacrifice of the Astral Knights Chapter.
- The Toran VI Massacres(934.M41) - The Crimson Fists defeat the Chaos Space Marine warband of the Chaos Lord Sathash the Golden.
- The Revenge of the Eldar (936.M41) - Craftworld Alaitoc launches a devastating attack on the Invaders' Chapter Planet. Only three companies escape the disaster and their fortress-monastery is lost. The Invaders are thereafter a fleet-based Chapter.
- Battle of the Black Star (939.M41) - In the sable light of the star Antilles, the Dark Hunters strike at the Renegade Punishers' stronghold, claiming over half the Traitor Marines' lives.
- The Timeaon Deliverance (940.M41) - The Iron Snakes are ambushed during the Timeaon Planetstrike by Tau Battlesuits and saved from certain death only when the Legion of the Damned appear and launch a devastating assault on the aliens' flanks.
- The Defence of Orask (940-997.M41) - The Red Talons successfully hold the Fortress World of Orask at the edge of the Ghoul Stars from invasion by a splinter of Hive Fleet Pythos. In recognition of their hardfought victory, the Senatorium Ultima of Ultramar honour the Chapter with the gift of the famed relic known as the Bloody Crown of Hycani.
- The Second War for Armageddon Begins (941.M41) - When the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka unleashes a massive Ork WAAAGH! on the strategic Hive World of Armageddon in the Segmentum Solar, many Space Marine Chapters participate in its defence during what becomes known as the Second War for Armageddon.
- The Folly of Heroes (955.M41) - Despite direct orders to the contrary, the Brazen Claws launch a counterstrike into the Eye of Terror itself. Their last transmissions indicate the Chapter engaging a fleet of Iron Warriors vessels, but no other trace is heard of them.
- The Soulmaw (956.M41) - With most of their Chapter lured away by a distress call, the Silver Skulls barely manage to resist an attack on their homeworld of Varsavia by the daemonic warband known as "the Soulmaw."
- The Bellicas Disaster (970.M41) - The Emperor's Swords Chapter is wiped out when a Necron Tomb stirs to life in the caverns of their Chapter Planet, Bellicas.
- The Rynn's World Disaster (989.M41) - WAAAGH! Snagrod rampages across the Loki Sector, culminating with a devastating assault on Rynn's World. The Crimson Fists Chapter is left depleted and bloodied after an Imperial expedition, including many Space Marine Chapters, retakes the planet from the Orks, but they are determined to rebuild all that was lost.
- Flaming Vengeance (990.M41) - The Fire Lords Chapter descends on Bellicas, exterminating the Necron menace and setting the planet aflame to avenge the destruction of the Emperor's Swords.
- The Second Tyrannic War (992-993.M41) - The Lamenters and Scythes of the Emperor Chapters are virtually destroyed fighting against the menace of Hive Fleet Kraken.
- Broken But Unbowed (994.M41) - Once thought destroyed in the Eye of Terror, the Brazen Claws resurface near Cadia, battered, but still fighting their long war against the Forces of Chaos.
- The Hive Mind Hungers (995.M41) - The tendrils of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Jormungandr begin to brush against the northeastern boundaries of the Imperium. The Death Spectres and Honoured Sons lead the counterattack.
- The Leviathan Blunted (509.997.M41) - Elements of the Ultramarines and Mortifactors Chapters stand victoriously against a spur of Hive Fleet Leviathan on Tarsis Ultra during the Third Tyrannic War.
- The Lament of Angels (997.M41) - The Angels Revenant Chapter is destroyed while defending its fortress-monastery on the world of Liberthra against the onslaught of the Necron Maynarkh Dynasty. The Bells of Lamentation sound throughout Segmentum Tempestus at their passing.
- WAAAGH! Irontoof (550.998.M41) - The Genesis Chapter, alongside its Primogenitors the Ultramarines, combat and defeat the growing might of the Ork WAAAGH! Irontoof.
- The Third War for Armageddon (757.998.M41) - The Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka returns to Armageddon at the head of a new, even greater, WAAAGH! More than twenty Space Marine Chapters, including the White Scars, Salamanders, Doom Eagles, Storm Lords and Exorcists, commit forces to the beleaguered war zone. The Ork WAAAGH! is eventually broken on Armageddon during the terrible campaign remembered as the Third War for Armageddon and Ghazghkull flees into the void, pursued by the Black Templars and Commissar Yarrick who have sworn to end the wily Ork Warlord's threat to the Imperium once and for all.
- War in the Gildar Rift (998.M41) - The Silver Skulls destroy a Red Corsair strike force. The surviving Renegades make planetfall on several worlds in the Gildar System, but the Silver Skulls will not be thwarted and the taint of the Renegades is cleansed in a matter of weeks.
- The Black Sun (672.999.M41) - The Exorcists Chapter rushes to confront the daemonic incursions around the sun Sirie.
- Rebirth (970.999.M41) - The Scythes of the Emperor finally emerge from the dark shadow of Hive Fleet Kraken and announce that their Chapter will be born anew.
- The Maelstrom Threat (980.999.M41) - A vast Chaos Space Marine fleet under the command of Huron Blackheart emerges from the Maelstrom and besieges the Chogoris, Kaelas and Sessec Systems. Rumours report Huron's force is as large as the Space Marine Legions of old, and several Chapters are tasked with its destruction.
- The 13th Black Crusade (995.999.M41) - Many Space Marine Chapters converge on the sectors surrounding the Eye of Terror in a desperate attempt to counter the influx of vile forces led by Abaddon the Despoiler in the course of his 13th Black Crusade, the largest and most potent Chaos incursion into Imperial space since the Horus Heresy. Some say it is truly the Time of Ending, yet the Adeptus Astartes stand strong in the face of their greatest enemy. Yet, despite the best efforts of the Imperium's staunchest defenders -- including the Black Templars, Imperial Fists, Dark Angels and Space Wolves -- the Fortress World of Cadia, lynchpin of the defences surrounding the Cadian Gate, eventually falls.
- Guilliman Awakes (ca. 999.M41) - Strange events, the appearance of the ancient Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl and a cryptic alliance with a mysterious Aeldari faction known as the Ynnari conspire to awaken the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman from his millennia-long slumber in a stasis chamber during the Ultramar Campaign. The primarch is immediately embroiled in battle with a Chaos assault by the Black Legion as Abaddon attempts to prevent his return.
- The Great Rift (ca. 999.M41) - Reality tears itself apart from the Hadex Anomaly at the core of the Jericho Reach in the Eastern Fringe, to the furthest star system of the Segmentum Obscurus. From that hole come Warp Storms not seen since the Age of Strife, cutting off the galactic north from Terra, cutting the Imperium into two halves, the Imperium Nihilus and the Imperium Sanctus. The initial period, known as the Noctis Aeterna -- or the Blackness -- is terrible indeed. For a time, all Warp travel is impossible and the far-spread planets of the Imperium are isolated, with no travel or astropathic communication between them as the Emperor's Astronomican no longer shines through the Immaterium. Worlds in their hundreds fall before the ensuing Chaos onslaught. The pulsing Cicatrix Maledictum spreads like an impenetrable curtain, robbing entire systems of the holy light of Terra.
- Indomitus (ca. 999.M41 - ca. 111.M42) - In a hundred war zones of the Indomitus Crusade, untested strike forces of Primaris Space Marines are unleashed into battle against the forces of the Ruinous Powers. They acquit themselves well, and by the artifice of Belisarius Cawl and the strategic genius of Guilliman they prove themselves worthy inheritors of the title Adeptus Astartes.
- To Shield the Shrine Worlds (Unknown Date.M42) - The Shrine Worlds of the Imperial Cult are targeted with especial malice by daemons and the Traitor Legions, most prominent amongst them the Word Bearers. In an attempt to break the sieges that hold dozens of Shrine Worlds hostage across Segmentums Solar and Pacificus, the Black Templars launch Imperial Crusade after Crusade. In their bloody endeavours they are assisted by the Iron Hands and a score of other Space Marine Chapters, along with all the forces the Adeptus Ministorum can muster.
- The Plague Wars (ca. 111.M41) - The Plague Wars were an attempt by the daemonic and Heretic Astartes forces of the Chaos God Nurgle, including the Daemon Primarch Mortarion and his Death Guard Traitor Legion, to conquer the Realm of Ultramar and add it to the Plague God's growing realm in realspace. By ca. 111.M42, over a hundred standard years after the start of the Indomitus Crusade, the Imperial defenders all across Ultramar were depleted in dozens of ground campaigns, while a Plague Fleet systematically destroyed the realm's Ultramar Defence Fleet and star fortresses. Guilliman returned from the Indomitus Crusade after over a standard century of campaigning to stabilise the Imperium, and his deft and defensive manoeuvres bought time to launch what became known as the "Spear of Espandor" counterattack. The combined plague armies were eventually fought to a standstill amongst the ruins of Iax, before Mortarion escaped with his forces back to their base in the Scourge Stars under cover of a Virus Bomb attack, both because of his brother's staunch defence and because Nurgle's realm in realspace had come under assault by the forces of the Blood God Khorne. In a brief respite from the work of safeguarding the Emperor's realm after Mortarion's defeat, Guilliman ordered the rebuilding and decontamination of Ultramar, as well as the establishing of new procedures for creating further Ultramarines. It was not long before new Imperial Crusades called the Lord Commander of the Imperium away from Ultramar and back out into the dark galaxy. The Ultramarines then began the work of preparing their vengeance against the servants of the Dark Gods.
Space Marine Chapters
For a listing of all notable Space Marine Chapters in the Imperium of Man, please see List of Space Marine Chapters.
The Space Marines were originally divided into 20 large Legions created during the First Founding by the Emperor, and each Legion was filled with thousands of Space Marines whose gene-seed was based on genetic material drawn from one of the original primarchs.
When 18 of the 20 original primarchs were rediscovered during the Great Crusade, they became the commanders of the Legion genetically related to them.
Those Astartes Legions that remained loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy were known as the "Loyalists." They were subsequently each split up into smaller Chapters of only 1,000 Space Marines each during the so-called Second Founding, one of which retained the name of the original Space Marine Legion.
|Dark Angels||Lion El'Jonson||Caliban (Destroyed)||The Dark Angels refer to themselves and their Successor Chapters as the Unforgiven. Their first two companies are elite forces known as the Deathwing and the Ravenwing. Although unknown to most of the Imperium, including the majority of the Chapter, some of the Dark Angels turned to the service of Chaos during the Horus Heresy. These individuals are known as the Fallen Angels and the Dark Angels and the Unforgiven have vowed never to rest until all of the Fallen have repented or been killed in the Emperor's name.|
|White Scars||Jaghatai Khan||Mundus Planus||The White Scars have a nomadic horse barbarian culture similar to the ancient Mongols and prefer fast-attack operational doctrines. They are also known for being specialists in the use of bike squads on the battlefield, using them as mechanical steeds.|
|Space Wolves||Leman Russ||Fenris||This particular Chapter is known for following its own path and being highly unorthodox in organization and tactics - often contrary to the Codex Astartes. They are feral in appearance and are often adorned with wolf pelts and wolf tooth necklaces. They are one of the few Space Marine Chapters who do not follow any of the rules for Chaoter organization set out in the Codex.|
|Imperial Fists||Rogal Dorn||Terra / Phalanx||This Chapter is renowned for being the greatest siege specialists in the Imperium of Man. They also are engaged in a bitter and ancient feud with the corrupted Chaos Space Marines of the Iron Warriors Traior Legion who were once considered the greatest creators of static defences in the galaxy.|
|Blood Angels||Sanguinius||Baal||The Blood Angels suffer from the Black Rage and the Red Thirst, those that succumb to the Black Rage and the Red Thirst are put into the specially-created Death Company as the crazed battle-brother sees only the last moments of his Primarch Sanguinius' death at the hands of Horus and enters a killing frenzy during which he will literally drink the blood of his foes. The Blood Angels prefer the usage of jump packs and close combat.|
|Iron Hands||Ferrus Manus||Medusa||The Iron Hands are devotees of the Cult of the Machine of the Adeptus Mechanicus. There is an unusually high incidence of voluntary cybernetic modifications to the bodies of Iron Hands Astartes as a result of their devotion to the Omnissiah. All neophytes of the Chapter have their left hand removed and replaced with a cybernetic model.|
|Ultramarines||Roboute Guilliman||Macragge||The Ultramarines Chapter is known as the model for all Space Marines due to their exemplary discipline and loyalty to the Emperor of Mankind. As the largest Legion at the time of the Second Founding they produced the largest number of Second Founding Chapters. This Chapter's elite 1st Company was wiped out by the Tyranids during the legendary Battle for Macragge of the First Tyrannic War; it has taken a century to fully reconstitute that company.|
|Salamanders||Vulkan||Nocturne||The Salamaders are a technically-adept Chapter with a preference for short-ranged combat, heat-based weaponry like melta guns, and energized warhammers. They are unusually devoted to the welfare of the civilian population of the Imperium because of their own close connections to the people of their homeworld of Nocturne.|
|Raven Guard||Corax||Deliverance||The Raven Guard specialises in hit-and-run assaults, and they prefer the use of jump packs and lightning claws. They most commonly deploy into battle from orbit using drop pods.|
These Space Marine Legions sided with Horus and the Forces of Chaos during the Horus Heresy. After their defeat in the Battle of Terra, these so-called "Traitor Legions" fled into the Eye of Terror and became the primary forces of the Chaos Space Marines.
|Emperor's Children||Fulgrim||Chemos||The members of this Traitor Legion are the greatest devotees of Slaanesh, the Chaos God of hedonism and dark pleasure. They once sought absolute perfection in every action and appearance, now they fight only to feel the pleasure wrought by suffering and death.|
|Iron Warriors||Perturabo||Olympia||The Iron Warriors are the dark counterpart to the Imperial Fists Chapter. Like the Fists, they are specialists in siege and trench warfare and can build truly labyrinthine static defences. They have an ancient rivalry with the Imperial Fists and all of their Successor Chapters going back to the time before the Horus Heresy.|
|Night Lords||Konrad Curze (Night Haunter)||Nostramo||The Night Lords specialise in the exercise of terror tactics and carrying out atrocities against military and especially civilian personnel that are intended to spread fear in their enemies.|
|World Eaters (War Hounds)||Angron||Nuceria||The World Eaters devolved into mindless, bloodthirsty fanatics dedicated to the Blood God in the centuries after the Horus Heresy; today they are the chosen ones of Khorne, the Chaos God of violence and murder. They live only to slaughter other living things and shed more blood for the Blood God.|
|Death Guard (Dusk Raiders)||Mortarion||Barbarus||The Death Guard, often better known today as the Plague Marines, are the horrifically diseased and plague-ridden devotees of Nurgle, the Chaos God of disease and decay. They use disease and Chaos-infused toxins and chemical weapons in their attacks.|
|Thousand Sons||Magnus the Red||Prospero||The Thousand Sons are devoted to Tzeentch, the Chaos God of arcane knowledge and change for its own sake. They are the most adept among the Chaos Space Marines at wielding the dark powers of the Warp and have a large number of Chaos Sorcerers among their ranks. As a result of the ancient curse known as the Rubric of Ahriman, the remaining Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marines have no organic bodies; their souls have been fused directly into their suits of power armour and almost every member of the Legion has at least some psychic ability.|
|Luna Wolves||Horus||Cthonia||The Luna Wolves were once the premier of the Legiones Astartes, the best of the best among the Emperor's Space Marines. Renamed the Sons of Horus after the Emperor honoured their primarch by making him the Imperium's Warmaster and supreme commander of the Great Crusade after the Emperor returned to Terra following the Ullanor Crusade. After Horus’ death the Sons of Horus became known as the Black Legion.|
|Word Bearers (Imperial Heralds)||Lorgar||Colchis||The Word Bearers are the only Traitor Legion to still field Chaplains, who are called Dark Apostles instead and serve as priests of the Ruinous Powers rather than as exemplars of the Emperor's truth; the Word Bearers are highly religious in their mindset and believe deeply in the faith and purpose of the Chaos Gods.|
|Alpha Legion||Alpharius Omegon||Unknown||Strategic subtlety and the employment of covert operations are this Legion's specialty; the Alpha Legion adopted the hydra as their symbol to indicate that their are many ways to accomplish an objective and that if you defeat one of their initiatives there are always others hiding in the shadows. This Traitor Legion may actually still be serving what it believes is the Emperor's will by remaining among the Forces of Chaos; its true motivations remain unclear.|
Note: The Traitor Legions' homeworlds were later destroyed in a purge by Imperial forces to eliminate all traces of Chaos corruption in the Imperium following the Horus Heresy, with the exception of the Alpha Legion's homeworld, which was never discovered.
The Unknown Legions
There are two missing First Founding Space Marine Legions, the IInd and XIth Legions who, for unknown reasons, were deliberately expunged from all known Imperial records and archives before the onset of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium.
Referred to as "the forgotten and the purged," it is known only that the missing primarchs and their Legions are listed as having been "deleted from Imperial records."
This is the official Imperial policy of deliberately destroying any records, icons or other symbols or monuments pertaining to an individual or organisation, usually of the Imperial elite, who has been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Emperor of Mankind Himself.
In a galaxy-spanning empire that stressed fealty and loyalty to the Emperor in return for advancement, acclaim and spiritual salvation for its elites, this is perhaps one of the most severe punishments.
The complete and utter erasure of all records of the IInd and XIth Legions is considered by Imperial historians as the most successful Edict of Obliteration ever carried out in Imperial history.
Given the current authoritarian nature of the Imperium, it seems likely these Legions were completely removed from all historical records for being participants in or affected by some sort of catastrophe such as a mass mutation event which couldn't be controlled, turning to the worship of the Chaos Gods earlier than the other Traitor Legions, etc.
Second and Later Foundings
After the Horus Heresy, it was determined that the Space Marine Legions were too powerful and dangerous to the stability of the Imperium to be controlled by any one man.
In what is known as the Second Founding, the remaining Loyalist Legions were broken up into the separate 1,000-man Chapters which remain the primary organisation of the Adeptus Astartes to this day.
In the 25 subsequent Successor Foundings that have occurred since the Second Founding, the Imperium has created many new Chapters of Space Marines, using gene-seed sampled by the Adeptus Mechanicus from the existing ones.
Many of these Successor Chapters still keep the memory of their progenitor Legion or Chapter alive in their rituals and regalia, and maintain the same methods of operation and battle, as well as their overall defining cultural and genetic traits.
For a list of all the known Space Marine Chapters please see the List of Space Marine Chapters.
Primaris Space Marines
"In our darkest hour, they are a blazing beacon of hope. Yet only a fool would believe that even warriors such as these will be enough to ensure victory over the myriad foes that encircle us. We must fight, as we have always fought; we must accept the strength of the Primaris Space Marines and let it become our own; we must serve the Emperor to our last breaths."
- —Marneus Calgar, Ultramarines Chapter Master
The Primaris Space Marines are a new breed of transhuman warriors developed across the span of ten thousand standard years by Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl on Mars on the order of Primarch Roboute Guilliman.
Cawl used the genetic template of the original Space Marines created by the Emperor for His Great Crusade as the starting point for the development of the new Astartes soon after the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium. Primaris Space Marines are bigger, more physically powerful and possess faster reaction times than their original Astartes counterparts.
For ten millennia, Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl has been working on a task set for him by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman before he was mortally wounded by the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim in the days after the Horus Heresy: a new legion of transhuman warriors.
Developed on orders from Guilliman 100 standard centuries past, Primaris Space Marines were diligently developed and perfected by the Priesthood of Mars during the long intervening millennia.
As an optimist, but never a fool, Guilliman learned from the mistakes of the Horus Heresy, and he foresaw that the forces of Chaos would never relent in their aim to bring the Imperium low.
He anticipated that devastating times would once again engulf the galaxy and knew that warriors resilient enough to stand against them would be needed as never before. That time has surely come. Now, as the Imperium of Man is poised on the brink of annihilation at the hands of Chaos, his task is at last complete.
The Primaris Space Marine is a new generation of hero for this, the darkest age in the Imperium's history. These warriors are the next step in the evolution of the Emperor's Angels of Death -- genetically altered from their brethren, now called the "Firstborn," to be bigger, stronger and faster -- timely reinforcements for the Imperium's armies as their enemies close in for the kill in the wake of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade and the birth of the Great Rift dividing the Imperium in two.
To aid them in battle, these gene-forged warriors are equipped with new arms and armour forged on Mars itself, such as the Mark X Tacticus Pattern Power Armour worn by the Primaris Space Marine Intercessors, which combines the most effective elements of ancestral Horus Heresy patterns of battle-plate with more recent developments in power armour technology.
They are outfitted with the Mark II Cawl Pattern Bolt Rifle, the archetypal firearm of the Adeptus Astartes, now re-engineered, re-crafted and perfected; the Mark III Belisarius Pattern Plasma Incinerator, a new refined Plasma Gun; Redemptor Dreadnoughts, the Overlord gunship, and Repulsor grav-tanks.
At the dawn of the Indomitus Crusade to retake the Imperium from the advancing armies of Chaos and xenos alike, Lord Commander of the Imperium Roboute Guilliman has gathered his new armada, along with elements of the Adeptus Custodes, a small contingent of the Silent Sisterhood and a vast war host of Primaris Space Marines as he fights to liberate the scattered bastions of the Imperium.
Some, Guilliman has forged into new Space Marine Chapters, whole brotherhoods comprised only of these new transhuman warriors. Others he has offered to the existing Firstborn Space Marine Chapters.
Many Firstborn Chapter Masters have welcomed their Primaris brethren into their ranks, accepting the new reinforcements gladly. Others, though, view these new creations with suspicion or outright hostility, claiming that the Emperor's work should never have been meddled with by mere mortals.
The newly reinstated Lord Commander of the Imperium decreed that those Chapters most devastated by the ongoing wars would be amongst the first to be reinforced with this new breed of transhuman warrior. Starting with the Ultramarines, but also deploying these new Space Marines to every other Chapter in need, Guilliman aimed to reinforce the Imperium's scattered defenders across the galaxy.
It is not just as reinforcements to existing Chapters though. Guilliman also ordered the creation of a host of new Chapters, the so-called "Ultima Founding," composed entirely of Primaris Space Marines.
The warriors of these new Chapters were created entirely using the new processes discovered by Archmagos Belisarius Cawl and established with all the necessary weapons, armour and equipment that they will need to conduct their defence of the Imperium.
These Chapters still trace their genetic lineage back to the gene-seed of the First Founding, and scions of all nine Loyalist Space Marine Legions emerged from the stasis vaults beneath the Red Planet.
They benefit from three additional gene-seed organs, larger size, better reflexes, and greater resiliency, but it still remains to be seen if Cawl was able to successfully stabilise any of the known genetic deviations or impart any additional resistance to the effects of Chaos.
Many of these new Chapters have been assigned homeworlds on the edge of the Great Rift, the Imperium's new frontline in the war against Chaos, though some have inherited the empty fortress-monasteries of Chapters that had been lost to the attrition of constant war.
Though they are a step removed from their Firstborn brothers, the Primaris Space Marines still bear the gene-seed of their primarchs, and some dissenting voices worry how this new type of warrior will react with the known genetic quirks and flaws of some of the more unusual Chapters, such as the Blood Angels and the Space Wolves.
The Primaris Space Marines offer new hope to a besieged Imperium, but the future remains a dark and uncertain place.
Beyond the Ultima Founding
The Ultima Founding in ca. 999.M41 was the largest mobilisation of newly-created Space Marines in centuries. It saw thousands of Primaris Space Marines woken from stasis beneath the surface of Mars and hurled into the forefront of Mankind's galactic war.
Yet this was not the only route by which the Primaris Marines joined the fight for the Emperor's realm.
From beneath the sands of Mars came the Primaris warriors of the original Ultima Founding. They were lights against a tide of darkness, their advent key to the survival of Mankind after the birth of the Great Rift -- but not to securing its future.
The first Primaris Space Marines to march to war were those from Archmagos Belisarius Cawl's laboratories on Mars. Upon Roboute Guilliman's belated return to Terra during the Terran Crusade, the resurrected primarch ordered the fruits of Cawl's long labour unleashed.
This initial wave of Primaris Space Marines emerged from over 10,000 standard years of stasis fully psychologically indoctrinated to each fulfil a single strategic role. Some were Intercessors, some Aggressors and so forth, and almost all specialised only in that one area of combat.
These warriors were able to immediately take up their front-line combat duties with the expertise of veterans, and all possessed a modicum of additional skill with machine spirits thanks to their Martian heritage.
Yet ultimately they were somewhat strategically inflexible, for they had not undergone the gruelling progression through their existing Chapters' companies or gained the wealth of experience that progress bestowed. Some of these Martian Primaris Marines formed entirely new Chapters such as the Rift Stalkers or the Silver Templars.
The rest joined the Indomitus Crusade as "Greyshields," fighting together with the scions of other Chapters and primarchs as part of the force known as the Unnumbered Sons until the Indomitus Crusade fleets reached their adoptive homeworld or the fleet of the Firstborn Chapters they were destined to join.
Each time such a momentous occasion came, another cadre of battle-brothers would peel off and reinforce the Chapter whose colours they wore and whose genetic heritage they shared. Not all of these Primaris reinforcements had an easy time integrating with their erstwhile Firstborn brothers, but ultimately all brought fresh strength to the Space Marine Chapters fighting furiously against the tide of horrors vomited from the Great Rift.
In every fortress-monastery and upon every fleet-based Chapter's flagship, the machineries of a grim and bloody future were installed and awoken. From these engines of genesis would fresh waves of Primaris initiates arise, their task to fight for the Emperor's realm.
The first wave of Ultima Founding Primaris Space Marines proved invaluable reinforcements for their parent Chapters. Yet in the ongoing war for Humanity's survival in the Era Indomitus, a single influx of fresh strength would never be enough.
This is why, along with warriors, the Indomitus Crusade fleets included Adeptus Mechanicus Genetor acolytes who integrated themselves with each already existing Chapter's Apothecarion. It was these acolytes and their arcane machines that enabled the Adeptus Astartes to recruit and train new Primaris Space Marines within their existing Chapters.
Not every Chapter of Firstborn Marines welcomed these new arrivals; the Adeptus Mechanicus is an acquisitive and controlling organisation, known to be unscrupulous in its pursuit of power. Chapters such as the Dark Angels, the Space Wolves and the Mortifactors are notoriously insular of culture, and some guard dark secrets they would risk much to keep out of the manipulative Tech-priests' databanks.
However, none could deny that being able to recruit and train fresh waves of Primaris Space Marines provided the Adeptus Astartes with a long-term, sustainable wellspring of martial might.
So the process began. Some Chapters implanted all of their aspirants with the full suite of Primaris organs, while others gifted only a proportion of their novitiates in this fashion, leaving the others to develop as Firstborn Astartes.
These newly conditioned battle-brothers benefitted not only from the strength of their Primaris enhancement, but also from the tactical versatility imparted by a full and rounded progression through the ranks, coupled with all of the cultural and spiritual indoctrination required to properly initiate the neophytes into their Chapter.
No true son of the primarchs could long look upon the might of the new Primaris brothers and not wish to take up that mantle of power for themselves. They sought this agonising apotheosis not for personal glory, but because no true Space Marine would refuse greater strength, resilience and weaponry with which to protect the Imperium and slaughter their many foes.
The warriors of the Ultima Founding had joined their parent Chapters. The machineries developed by Belisarius Cawl had provided those Chapters with waves of new Primaris recruits who had integrated into every level of the Chapters' organisation.
For the Primaris-only Chapters, this was an end to the matter; they stood proudly as defenders of the Imperium, recruiting from their own conquered fiefdoms and forging their own rolls of honour as the years passed.
Yet for those Chapters who had come before, questions remained to be answered. Could a Firstborn Marine who had not been created Primaris undergo the necessary gene-therapies and invasive surgeries required to elevate him to that status? Could he gain the benefits of the enhanced Primaris physique, and access the potent new wargear that was theirs to wield?
In short, could he cross the so-called Rubicon Primaris to become a yet-greater living weapon in the Emperor's service, or would attempts to do so simply waste priceless Astartes lives at a time when the Imperium could ill afford to sacrifice its greatest defenders?
Records differ as to who were the first Space Marines to take this perilous leap of faith. Some say it was Marneus Calgar of the Ultramarines, or that it was Kor'sarro Khan, the White Scars' ferocious Master of the Hunt, who first made this painful transition.
Other Chapters make their own claims, or else lament the tragic loss of those who tried and failed to ascend. Yet despite the losses suffered and the unspeakable agonies of undertaking the Primaris ascension, more battlebrothers crossed the Rubicon with every passing day.
Founding of a Space Marine Chapter
"Such is the woe cast upon the Domains of the God-Emperor of Mankind in these times that in their wisdom and beneficience, the High Lords of Terra have this day issued this decree: Let there be a Founding of the Adeptus Astartes, and let the foes of the Emperor know that this galaxy belongs to Him, now and forever."
- — High Lord Tagus, Convenor of the 349th Congress of the Imperium
New Space Marine Chapters are not created piecemeal as required by the Imperium's strategic needs, but rather in deliberate groupings called "Foundings." The process by which a new Founding's creation is approved by the Imperial government is mysterious and arcane, subject to decades or even centuries of planning before it is announced.
It is only by an edict of the High Lords of Terra that such an undertaking as the creation of new Chapters can be instigated, for it requires the cooperation and mobilisation of countless divisions within the Imperium's monolithic and vast governmental organisations.
Establishing new Astartes Chapters on an individual basis is nigh impossible -- the mobilisation of such vast resources is beyond the ability of any single segment of the Imperium.
The Adeptus Mechanicus plays an essential role in the process of a Founding, for its highest echelons are tasked with creating, testing and developing the gene-seed samples that will provide the genetic foundation of the new Chapters.
There are a myriad of other concerns as well. A suitable homeworld inhabited by Humans must be identified for the new Chapter, which will likely provide not only a secure and defensible base of operations, but also a source of new recruits as well.
A degree of environmental terraforming might be required and the natives of the world (if they are to become the source of the new Chapter's aspirants) must be studied and tested by the Mechanicus' Magos Biologis and Genetors for many generations to ensure they are genetically pure and free of any strain of mutation that might later affect the Chapter itself.
The construction of a Chapter's fortress-monastery may be one of the greatest undertakings of all, drawing on the genius of the Imperium's most accomplished military architects and engineers.
If the Chapter is to be fleet-based, then even more work must be put into the construction of a massive Chapter Barque or an unusually large Battle Barge to serve as the Chapter's mobile fortress-monastery and all of the related capital warships and Escorts such a highly-mobile Chapter will require.
The already extant Space Marine Chapters may also have a role in this process, though to what degree can vary greatly from Founding to Founding. Many of the First Founding Chapters maintain close links with Chapters created using their own gene-seed stocks, and the Chapter Masters might have a hand in planning future Foundings using that genetic material.
In the more than 10,000 standard years that have passed since the First Founding of the 20 original Space Marine Legions by the Emperor, there have been 26 subsequent Foundings of new Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes; with the most recent, the Ultima Founding of the Primaris Space Marines, occurring soon after the birth of the Great Rift.
Even before a new Founding is announced, entire generations of Imperial servants may have toiled in preparation. Even once the process has been declared and is underway, it is likely to be at least a standard century before the new Chapters are ready to begin combat operations.
In times of dire need for the Imperium, faster development has been attempted, but this has often resulted in disaster. Gene-seed cultured in haste is likely to degrade or to mutate, and a great many other factors can lead the entire process astray.
Space Marine Recruitment
Each Chapter of Space Marines has its own methods of recruiting young warriors to fill its ranks. Many are based on a single homeworld and recruit solely from that populace, setting trials and tests for prospective candidates to weed out all but the strongest and the most faithful.
These worlds are often technologically backward with strong militaristic societies, where male children who show potential are pushed harder and harder, that they may one day have a chance to join the ranks of the Space Marines, who are often known to such peoples as "star warriors," "sky knights," or similar names.
Because Feral Worlds are rough, primitive, and untamed, their inhabitants invariably provide excellent recruits. For true aggression and nigh-psychotic killer-instinct, however, few recruits can best the murderous city-scum that roam the darkest pits of the Imperium's many Hive Worlds.
Driven to extremes of violence by the pressures of Hive World living, these merciless killers are usually ignored by the authorities. They make ideal Space Marine recruits, and whole gangs of city-scum are sometimes hunted down and made to undergo the Trials. Some recruits are drawn from the more Civilised Worlds of the Imperium, but not very many.
Those planets used by the Space Marines as recruiting worlds are observed closely by the Chapter's Apothecaries and Chaplains. The population's genetic purity must be maintained, in order to conserve those qualities that serve the Space Marines' purposes best.
Their spiritual health is also maintained, to ensure that no trace of the influence of the Ruinous Powers becomes manifest. Such observations are in general carried out from a distance, and it is rare for the society to have any direct contact with, or knowledge of, the Space Marines, or in many cases even of the Imperium.
The Chapter's officers might visit the culture once a generation and will be the subject of myth and legend. These mighty warriors from beyond the stars are figures of awe, and their word is law. The nature of the trials set by the outsiders vary enormously, but all are so arduous that only a handful pass them.
Those who fail may be lucky to even survive, for many trials take the form of ritual combat, the hunting of a great beast, or the performance of incredibly dangerous feats of strength and bravery. At the conclusion of the trials, those few aspirants that have been deemed worthy are taken away, invariably never to see their people again.
It is always a great honour for a family to have a son chosen by the Space Marines, even for societies with little conception of the greater galaxy beyond their world. The Space Wolves are an example of this. The Wolf Priests of the Space Wolves scour the warring tribes of their homeworld Fenris for their strongest and bravest youths, while the Ultramarines traditionally draw their candidates from the elite training barracks of a whole group of planetary systems known collectively as Ultramar, the realm of the Ultramarines.
Other Chapters have no single homeworld and travel the galaxy in gigantic fleets of battleships, recruiting either from a regular series of worlds or from the war zones to which they are assigned. The Black Templars are one such example of a fleet-based Chapter, as are the Dark Angels.
Once accepted, the young aspirants become neophytes and begin their regimen of training and biological enhancement. Each Chapter has its own traditions regarding the initiation of the recruit into its legends and secrets.
This process often runs parallel to the bio-genetic treatments the neophyte must undergo. As the physical transformation proceeds, spiritual change also occurs. Both are tempered by ongoing experience on the field of battle and the rituals in which the neophyte must participate. The nature of such rites varies enormously from one Chapter to the next.
Some are solemn affairs recalling the sacrifice the Emperor made for Humanity. Others are raucous celebrations drawing on the culture and nature of the Chapter's homeworld. Still more are bloody and barbaric involving ritual bloodletting, scarification, or amputation. All are vital to the arcane workings of the Chapter, and his participation is a prerequisite of the neophyte's acceptance by his would-be brothers-in-arms. Such are the rigours of the training that many do not survive.
Whether he is crippled upon the battlefield, or found spiritually wanting during a particularly exacting ritual, a neophyte may find himself cast out, his future with the Chapter curtailed. In some instances, the neophyte may transgress one of the many articles of Chapter law, and injury at war may prove preferable to the punishment.
Many possible fates await those who fall by the wayside in this manner. Most are mind-scrubbed and become Chapter Serfs—manservants and menials. The less fortunate are transformed into living, cybernetic Servitors—mindless biomechanical automatons who exist only to assist the Chapter's Techmarines in the operation of heavy and frequently dangerous machinery.
A very rare few may yet rise to positions of relative power within the Chapter's feudal household, yet even the highest-ranked factotum is but a lowly, nameless servant in the eyes of the full battle-brothers.
The worlds that the Space Marines recruit from often have a wide range of legends regarding the Adeptus Astartes. As many of the communities in question are primitive or barbaric, the people regard the Space Marines as otherworldy figures, "angels of death" who arrive once in a generation to test them and carry away their strongest sons.
On more advanced worlds, the people will have more of an understanding of who and what the Adeptus Astartes are and regard the success of an aspirant as an honour to the entire community. On some worlds, the knowledge that a distant ancestor was recruited into the Astartes is as good as a patent of nobility and portraits of the legendary hero adorn the walls and prayers are said to him as if he were a saint of the Imperial Cult in times of need.
Aspirants to become Space Marines are expected to overcome many and varied trials before being accepted into the ranks of a Chapter's neophytes. Though he will undergo continuous testing throughout his time as a neophyte, and often well beyond after he becomes an initiate or Scout Marine, the first trial the aspirant must pass to be accepted as a potential Astartes is by far the most significant of his young life.
The events he experiences during that trial will live on in his mind and heart for the rest of his potentially long, long life. Every Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes uses some form of Trial to ascertain whether aspirants are worthy of beginning the often-fatal process of becoming fully-fledged battle-brothers. The nature of this Trial varies greatly from Chapter to Chapter and world to world.
In some cases, a culture's traditional festivals and rites of passage are in fact well-disguised Trials, established generations before and watched over in secret by Chaplains or senior Chapter Serfs. In such cases, the aspirants believe they are participating in tribal rituals and coming-of-age challenges, and are entirely unaware that the most promising of their number will be selected to become Space Marines (if they even know what Space Marines are!). In other cultures, the aspirants fight for the honour to be judged worthy, knowing that a great reward awaits the victors.
Again, they may not know the exact nature of that reward, but to be chosen is the greatest of honours a young man can aspire to. Some Trials are watched over closely by the servants of the Chapter, who judge the aspirant every step of the way. Others have no interest in the actual process, only the outcome. Some Trials are so arduous that the simple fact of an aspirant's surviving it is sufficient to pronounce his victory.
In other cases, the manner in which the aspirant approaches the challenge is judged of more importance than whether or not he completes it -- in some cases, the Trial is deliberately impossible to complete, and the aspirant's willingness to undertake it regardless is all that matters.
The vast majority of aspirants fail their Trials and many of these die in the process -- though a failed aspirant who lives through the Trial often garners much honour within his culture, his mere survival rendering him a hero and a potential future leader of his people. At the Trial's completion, a successful aspirant will be taken away to join the Chapter as a neophyte.
Sometimes he will find a Space Marine waiting for him at the conclusion of his challenge and be led into a waiting transport to leave his former life forever. Sometimes he will be afforded the adulation of his people before leaving, enjoying one last night with kith and kin. Many simply awaken in an induction-cell, with no knowledge of how they got there or what awaits them.
In any case, the successful completion of their Trials allows an aspirant to become a neophyte of the Chapter, though now he must pass a battery of tests to determine if he is worthy of being implanted with the sacred and life-altering gene-seed organs of the Astartes.
Blood Duel Trial
One of the most common Aspirant Trials takes the form of a duel between aspirants, often to the death. The type of duel varies enormously and every culture from which the Astartes recruit has its own well-established practices. On different worlds, different weapons will be used, or sometimes none at all as the combatants are expected to pummel, gouge and throttle one another bloody.
Feral World tribes might use flint-tipped spears or the sharpened, serrated fangs of wild beasts. Feudal Worlds with a medieval level of technology might use highly-ritualised forms of swordplay, while the most advanced Imperial worlds would have access to the full gamut of lethal weaponry.
Commonly, a Blood Duel is fought in rounds, with aspirants facing foe after foe until only a small number remain. If the Chapter conducting the Trial has need of a large number of recruits, the Trial may be ended when a set number of aspirants are left. When the Chapter has less need of new neophytes, the Trials may continue until only a single battered and bloody challenger remains, the corpses of his enemies carpeting the ground before him.
Not all Blood Duels are to the death and some have highly ritualistic and specific victory conditions. Sometimes the duel is fought to first blood, other times to the very point of death.
The Space Marine Apothecaries are capable of rebuilding a crippled body should the aspirant be deemed worthy of acceptance, so most Blood Duels are brutal, no-holds-barred affairs. The Blood Angels Chapter is known to make extensive use of the Blood Duel Trial, but plenty of other Chapters make use of similar methods of choosing their recruits, including the Dark Angels, Imperial Fists, Storm Wardens and Space Wolves.
Hunting the Hunter Trial
Many of the cultures from which the Astartes recruits exist in hellishly dangerous environments populated by all manner of predatory beings. In most cases, the predators in question are autochthonic beasts native to the world, but sometimes they have been deliberately introduced in order to retard the culture's development, ensuring that their every moment is a fight for survival and cultivating the most promising recruits possible.
In many cases the predators are Human, such as the gelt-scalpers that prey on the outcasts of hive societies, culling the unwanted for monetary reward. Frontier Worlds are often plagued by alien raiders, ranging from the dreaded and lethal Drukhari to the barbarous greenskinned Orks. This Trial requires the aspirant to track down and slay, or sometimes capture, such a predator, turning the tables on those who prey upon his people and proving his worthiness to become an Astartes neophyte.
The hunt is a test of cunning and determination as much as raw martial prowess, often requiring the aspirant to track his prey in its own territory. The hunt may last solar days, weeks or even longer according to the conditions of the Trial and the weapons the aspirant can either find or fashion for himself. Taking the target alive is perhaps the hardest of Trials, for the aspirant must keep the foe restrained on a return journey that might prove every bit as arduous as the hunt itself.
A variation of the hunt requires a number of aspirants to hunt a single target, though only one may claim victory. Some of these aspirants strike out on their own, even turning on their fellows when the opportunity arises. Others set aside their rivalry and work together until the end. Those aspirants who survive must eventually fight one another for the honour of claiming victory. Whatever path the aspirants take, the Chapter learns much about their potential recruits.
At the conclusion of a Trial in which a prisoner is taken, it is common for the aspirant to be required to slay his captive, often before his people in a highly ritualised deed akin to a ceremonial sacrifice. Thus, the blood offering is made and the victor led away to join the ranks of the sky warriors.
The Space Wolves are known to use the Hunting the Hunter Trial, requiring the aspirant to track and face a fearsome Fenrisian Wolf or a Snow Troll. The Dark Angels have a similar tradition drawn from the knightly orders of their lost homeworld of Caliban and often require aspirants to track and kill fearsome beasts mutated by the powers of Chaos.
Survival of the Fittest Trial
It is often said that in the dark future of the 41st Millennium there is only war. No world is untouched by bloodshed and death and for many Human societies war is a permanent state of existence. Many of the worlds from which Space Marine Chapters recruit are not home to a single, unified society, but rather a host of small tribes constantly at war with one another.
In such societies, Trials are all but unnecessary and instead of staging formal tests and challenges the Space Marines simply watch these wars from afar, witness the deeds of the greatest heroes and select the victors as aspirants. Hive Worlds often fall into this category, especially the lawless underhives and the polluted ash wastes between the hive cities. Gangs of savage psychopaths battle one another ceaselessly for power and influence and the greatest of these gang leaders sometimes attract the attentions of the servants of the Chapter.
In most cases, the Space Marines need to do little more than watch the wars, but in some instances they actively take a hand in fomenting conflict and strife. By limiting the technology levels of a society, curtailing its access to natural resources, infiltrating it with Chapter serfs who spread hate, lies and paranoia, and occasionally even introducing psychosis-inducing substances into the food chain, the Astartes can ensure there is no break in the constant state of warfare that produces the Chapter's next heroes.
The Chapters best known for practicing this type of Trial are the Space Wolves, who watch from afar as entire tribes on their frigid homeworld of Fenris wipe one another out in bloody internecine wars. Many other Chapters use similar methods as well, including the Dark Angels and their Unforgiven Successor Chapters.
Few worlds of the Imperium of Man are free from adversity and these rare exceptions are either the holdings of wealthy mercantile combines or pleasure retreats for retired, high-level Imperial servants or the local sector nobility, entirely inaccessible to the vast bulk of Mankind. Most of the Emperor's subjects live on worlds that are dangerous in some manner.
Long-settled planets are riven by pollution, the toxic waste of thousands of Terran years of industry seeping into the very bedrock and raining from the skies in a constant downpour. Other worlds are heavily irradiated, by the processes of industry or by the effects of local celestial phenomena. Younger worlds where Mankind's dominion is not yet fully established, are often host to all manner of hostile lifeforms, including predatory beasts, carnivorous plants and virulent microbes.
Plenty of worlds feature environments that are inimical to life, yet due to some natural resource or the world's strategic value, Humans eke out an existence there nonetheless. Such environments range from sub-zero ice wastes, impenetrable swamps and arid deserts to exotic Death World jungles, methane sumps and hydrocarbon oceans.
In an Exposure Trial, the aspirant must go out into such an environment and simply survive for a set period of time. If he is a native of such a hellish place, the aspirant will have some knowledge of how to survive, yet is shorn of all aid and divested of all but the most basic of survival equipment.
Communities living in the midst of a Death World jungle, for example, rely on total and constant cooperation just to go on exisitng another day and none are ever out of the sight of another. An Exposure Trial in such a place would force the aspirant to go out into the jungle alone and face the terrors of the wild with only himself to rely upon for the first time in his life.
Some Exposure Trials test the aspirant's fortitude in a specific environment. Such Trials carried out in an icy waste could involve the aspirant travelling from one point to another, with countless hundreds of kilometres of trackless snow-blasted plains separating the two. Other aspirants might have to cross an entire continent of irradiated ash dunes, traverse an impassable mountain range, swim a predator-infested ocean or a hundred other such challenges.
One particularly inventive variation of the Exposure Trial is one in which the aspirant is taken from his own environment and transplanted into an entirely unfamiliar one. A Feral World savage might be deposited in a hive city, for example, or a Hive Worlder in a predator-infested Death World jungle. Many Exposure Trials are impossible to complete, entailing the aspirant simply staying alive as long as possible.
Those who face the impossible without faltering and who survive long past the point they should have perished are recovered by the Chapter's Apothecaries, often having succumbed but not yet died, and revived, having been judged worthy of becoming an Astartes neophyte.
Amongst other types of Trial, the Ultramarines make extensive use of the Exposure Trial. In fact, some of the warrior elite of the Realm of Ultramar are known to cast newborn infants into the wilderness in order to test their resilience. The Space Wolves use similar methods, as do many other Chapters.
Knowledge of Self Trial
The horrors that a Space Marine will witness during his service to the Emperor are sufficient to destroy a normal man's sanity and those witnessed by the battle-brothers who serve in the special Astartes units like the Grey Knights and the Deathwatch are more horrifying still. Many Chapters consider the aspirant's spiritual and mental capabilities every bit as important as his physical characteristics and impose Trials not of the body, but of the mind.
There are hundreds--if not thousands--of ways in which a Chapter can test an aspirant's inner strength. One method is a vision, imposed by way of psychic intrusion by one of the Chapter's Librarians. The aspirant may be plunged into a trance-like state during which he is subjected to all manner of horrific visions or irresistible temptations. He faces creatures dredged up from his own nightmares and phantoms seeded in his mind by the Librarian, who presides over the Trial and judges the aspirant's very soul.
Some Trials are far cruder; the aspirant is simply administered some powerful psychoactive concoction, often distilled from the venom of local predators or the sap of rare plants. Under the influence of such drugs, the aspirant must face the very worst his own psyche can produce, terrors often far worse than a Librarian could implant. Many die under the sheer stress and trauma placed on their hearts during the process and those that survive will be utterly changed--physically as well as mentally.
Another common variation of this Trial is exposure to pain. There are myriad different ways in which pain can be applied, some primitive, others fiendishly inventive. Some torments leave the aspirant scarred for life, though the scars are proudly borne as evidence of his mental strength. Others, such as the infamous Pain Glove used by the Imperial Fists Chapter, leave no marks, interfacing directly with the aspirant's nervous system and keeping his conscious long past the point he would otherwise have passed out.
Though the Imperial Fists are the best known practitioners of this type of Trial, many other Chapters use it too, especially those that recruit from feral societies with strong shamanic tendencies. The Black Templars use similar methods but eschew the use of drugs or technology, instead requiring an aspirant to fast or pray for solar days on end until a similar effect is achieved.
A Trial used by a smaller number of Chapters, the Challenge requires the aspirant to fight a duel or compete in some other manner against a full Astartes. In truth, none expect the aspirant to better a full battle-brother and his success is more often measured in the degree of his failure. Very occasionally, an aspirant does manage to beat an Astartes and when this happens it is not uncommon for the individual to go on to become a legendary hero of the Chapter.
Many Challenge Trials involve a test of martial skill, with the aspirant fighting an armed duel against a battle-brother. It is usual for the aspirant to be armed and the Astartes to fight with his bare hands and probably without his power armour, yet still the aspirant has virtually no hope of victory. Most Challenge Duels end in the death of the aspirant, for even an unarmed, unarmoured Astartes is a giant compared to the young, adolescent challenger and well able to slay him with a single blow, intentionally or not.
Other Challenge Trials involve contests of strength, stamina, speed, skill or mental strength. The Trial might range from the lifting of impossibly heavy loads to the imbibing of toxic substances. As with a duel, this type of Challenge Trial can often prove deadly.
In both cases, however, an aspirant that has failed the Trial -- yet performed to the Chapter's satisfaction -- is rescued from the jaws of death by the Chapter's Apothecaries and judged worthy of progressing to the rank of neophyte. Several Chapters are known to make use of the Challenge Trial, including the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists, Storm Wardens and Iron Snakes.
The gene-seed of an Astartes is the foreign genetic material originally engineered using one of the primarchs' genomes as a foundation. The gene-seed develops into the special organs that are then implanted into a potential Space Marine's body. These gene-seed organs are responsible for most of a Space Marine's physical enhancements over baseline Human capability.
All Space Marine gene-seed was originally cultivated by the Emperor Himself from the DNA of the Emperor's 20 genetically-engineered sons (each son being the primarch of one of the 20 Space Marine Legions of the First Founding), and is a rare and precious resource for the Space Marines of the Imperium, even in death.
The biotechnology necessary to create new gene-seed was long forgotten or lost to Humanity in the millennia before the creation of the Primaris Space Marines; therefore, it had to be cultivated after being retrieved from dead/dying Astartes warriors and returned to the Chapter's Apothecaries, who oversaw the creation of new Astartes from the Chapter's raw recruits.
The gene-seed is the very essence of a Space Marine Chapter and it carries each of the characteristics that are particularly unique to a given Chapter, be they mental, physical, spiritual, or martial.
Unfortunately, Space Marine gene-seed is vulnerable to mutations over time, which can phenotypically manifest in various ways. In addition, there are various genetic flaws that have developed in the gene-seed, the majority of which derive from the particularities of each primarch's genetic code.
It is these mutations that led to the emergence of the Flaws in the Blood Angels' gene-seed (specifically their susceptibility to the conditions known as the Black Rage and the Red Thirst), the "Mark of the Wulfen" for the Space Wolves or the rapidly increasing rate of mutation that afflicts the Renegade Soul Drinkers Chapter.
It must also be noted that the presently existing Space Marine Chapters are more numerous than the original 20 Space Marine Legions, excluding those two Legions that were removed from Imperial records. Only the original 9 Legions that remained loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy produced the numerous Space Marine Chapters of the Second Founding who share traits with their founder Chapter, which is itself the remnant of one of the Loyalist Legions.
During the recruitment and enhancement process, some aspirants may not survive the rigours of training and the later medical treatments one must undergo to become a full-fledged battle-brother of the Chapter.
First and foremost, a potential Space Marine recruit must be male, as the gene-seed and the developing Space Marine organs are compatible only with male hormones and genetics. Trying to implant a woman with Space Marine gene-seed would result only in a painful, agonising death. The three following requirements also apply:
- Space Marine aspirants must be adolescents or very young adults, as the implants must be able to coordinate with a Human male's natural growth hormones during adolescence to stimulate the growth and development of the various unique physiological features of a Space Marine. In specific terms, the recruit must be about 10-16 Terran years of age, although the process has been documented to still work in recruits as old as 20 as long as they have not yet reached their full adult growth.
- Much like a blood transfusion or organ transplant, there must be immunogenetic compatibility between the recruit and the implants; otherwise organ failure may result, causing the recruit to die or simply degenerate into a state of madness as their own tissues come under autoimmune attack.
- The mental state of a potential Space Marine must also be susceptible to the various training and psycho-conditioning regimes of the Chapter and cannot already be tainted by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
These three main criteria bar all except a minuscule percentage of Human males within the Imperium of Man from becoming Space Marines.
If all the tests prove successful, the Space Marine recruit transforms from a neophyte into a Scout Marine or even a full initiate depending on the Chapter's individual organisation.
The recruit is then taken to live at the Chapter's fortress-monastery where he is instructed in the ways of battle and taught the values and history of the Chapter. At this stage, organ implantation, psycho-conditioning, and physical training begin.
Each step in this stage has its own dangers, ensuring that only the truly worthy initiates become Space Marines. After several standard years of training, conditioning, and implantation surgeries the initiate becomes a true Astartes, undergoes his Rites of Fire in his first combat action, and becomes a true battle-brother of his Chapter.
Implantation of Astartes Organs
"Give me the Scout as a boy, and I'll give you the battle-brother as a man."
Nineteen genetically-engineered organs grown from the Chapter's gene-seed are implanted in a Firstborn Space Marine neophyte's body to further bolster his combat and survival ability should he live to become a full battle-brother and initiate of the Chapter.
Many of these organs are cultured in vitro from the gene-seed, whilst others require that the gene-seed be injected into the aspirant's body and then grow into a new organ using the implantee's own physiological processes.
All Space Marine Chapters use the gene-seed organs to unleash and control the metabolic processes that transform an ordinary mortal into a Space Marine.
The gene-seed itself is encoded with all the genetic information needed to reshape ordinary Human cell clusters into the special organs Space Marines possess in those instances where they are not directly implanted after being cultured outside the body.
The gene-seed contains genetically-engineered viral machines which rebuild the male Human body according to the biological template contained within it and created by the Emperor. However, even from the beginning of the Astartes' existence, there was never a set way to activate these transformative functions of the gene-seed.
During the First Founding of the 30th Millennium when the Space Marine Legions were first created, the process was still highly experimental and many different ways of controlling and managing the transformation from mortal into Astartes were tried.
This led to the Space Wolves using the ritual known as "Blooding," the Imperial Fists using the process known as the "Hand of Faith," the White Scars conducting the "Rites of the Risen Moon" and the Blood Angels using the ritual of "Insanguination."
Each implant has a high margin of catastrophic metabolic failure and physiological rejection and so only a small number of neophytes live to become initiates of the Chapter and enter the 10th Company as Scout Marines.
Many Chapters have lost the knowledge needed to culture new versions of some of these implants, and therefore, must ensure this gene-seed is recovered from dead battle-brothers.
The gene-seed organs must be implanted into an adolescent Human male for the process to have the greatest chance of success no later than his 16th year, though it is medically possible to begin the process as late as 18 standard years of age before full growth has been reached in the early 20's.
However, a gene-seed organ implantation procedure done at this late stage in the boy's growth will as likely kill him as not. In general, most Space Marine Chapters prefer to begin the process sometime between the ages of 10 and 14 Terran years.
The full list of 19 gene-seed organs, presented in the order in which they must be implanted within a Firstborn Space Marine neophyte, is as follows:
- Secondary Heart (The Maintainer) - This is the first and least difficult implant to install. The Secondary Heart increases blood supply and pumping capacity and is capable of taking over entirely should the primary heart fail. It may also pump steroids and adrenaline into the first, primary heart to give the Astartes an extra "rush" of energy on the battlefield.
- Ossmodula (The Ironheart) - This implant strengthens and greatly accelerates the growth of the skeleton of a Space Marine by inducing his bones to absorb a ceramic-based mineral administered in every Astartes neophyte's diet. Within two standard years after the surgery, the Space Marine's skeleton will be larger and exponentially stronger than a normal man's with growth having topped out at around 7-7.5 feet (2.1 to 2.3 metres) in height with an equivalent amount of skeleto-muscular mass. An Astartes' rib cage will also be fused into a solid bone plate to provide greater protection from injury for the internal organs.
- Biscopea (The Forge of Strength) - Implanted into the chest cavity, this implant massively bolsters skeletomuscular development and muscle fiber density throughout the Astartes' body to increase physical strength by unleashing a wave of Human growth hormones. This gene-seed organ is commonly implanted at the same time as the Ossmodula since it is necessary to successfully regulate the Ossmodula's hormonal secretions.
- Haemastamen (The Blood Maker) - Implanted into a main blood vessel like the aorta, femoral artery or the vena cava, the Haemastamen alters an Astartes' blood's biochemical composition to carry oxygen and nutrients more efficiently. The actions of the Haemastamen turn a Space Marine's blood a brighter shade of red than that of normal Humans because of its greatly increased oxygen-carrying capacity. It also acts to biochemically regulate the actions of the 2nd and 3rd gene-seed implants, the Ossmodula and Biscopea.
- Larraman's Organ (The Healer) - Shaped like the Human liver but only the size of a golf ball, this gene-seed organ is placed within the chest cavity and manufactures the synthetic biological cells known as Larraman Cells.These biosynthetic cells serve the same physiological purpose for an Astartes as the normal Human body's platelets, serving to clot the blood lost from wounds, but they act faster, more efficiently and more effectively. When a Space Marine is wounded and incurs blood loss, Larraman Cells are released by his circulatory system, attached to the body's normal leukocytes (white blood cells). At the site of the injury, they form scar tissue in a matter of seconds, effectively preventing massive blood loss and infection of the wound. The action of this organ is one of the reasons that the Space Marines are seen as nearly invincible and so difficult to kill despite the terrible wounds they sometimes endure.
- Catalepsean Node (The Unsleeping) - Implanted into the back of the cerebrum, this implant allows a Space Marine to avoid sleep, instead entering an almost comatose trance where their minds "recharge". It also allows one half of the brain to rest while the other hemisphere remains alert, thus removing the need for the unconsciousness required by normal sleep. The longest any Space Marine has ever been on active combat duty without rest is 328 hours, achieved by a squad of the Crimson Fists Kill-team during the battle against the Orks for Rynn's World.
- Preomnor (The Neutraliser) - The Preomnor is essentially an organic decontamination chamber that is implanted inside the chest cavity and connected to the digestive system, above the original stomach so that no actual digestion occurrs in the Preomnor. It is capable of biochemically analyzing ingested materials and neutralizing most known biochemical and inorganic toxins. The Preomnor enables the Astartes to eat normally inedible substances and resist any poisons he may ingest.
- Omophagea (The Remembrancer) - Implanted into the upper spinal cord so that it becomes a component of the central nervous system, this organ is designed to absorb information and any DNA, RNA or protein sequences related to experience or memory. This enables the Space Marine to gain information, in a survival or tactical sense, simply by eating an animal indigenous to an alien world and then experiencing some of what that creature did before its death. Over time, mutations in this implant's gene-seed have given some Chapters an unnatural craving for blood or flesh.
- Multi-lung (The Imbiber) - The Multi-lung is a third lung implanted into an Astartes' pulmonary and circulatory systems in the chest cavity that is able to absorb oxygen from environments usually too poor in oxygen to allow normal Human respiratory functioning. Breathing is accomplished through a sphincter implanted into the trachea, allowing all three lungs to be used at full capacity. In toxic environments, a similar muscle closes off the normal lungs, thus oxygen is absorbed exclusively by the Multi-lung, which then filters out the poisonous or toxic elements.
- Occulobe (The Eye of Vengeance) - Essentially, the Occulobe is a gene-seed organ that enhances an Astartes' eyesight after being implanted along the optic nerve and connected to the retina, granting him exceptional vision and the ability to see normally in a low-light environment.
- Lyman's Ear (The Sentinel) - This gene-seed organ implant renders a Space Marine immune to dizziness and motion-induced nausea, and enables an Astartes to consciously filter out "white noise" or resist other sonic attacks.
- Sus-an Membrane (The Hibernator) - This implant allows a Space Marine to enter a catatonic or "suspended animation" state and is implanted within the brain near the pituitary gland as a part of the body's endocrine system. It can allow a mortally wounded Astartes to survive his injuries, and bring the metabolism to a standstill until he can receive full medical care. Only the appropriate chemical therapy or hypnotic auto-suggestion can revive a Space Marine from this state. The longest recorded period for this form of hibernation was endured by battle-brother Silas Err of the Dark Angels Chapter, who was in Sus-an hibernation for 567 standard years.
- Melanochrome - Linked into the endocrine system via the lymphatic system, this gene-seed organ alters the pigment cells in the skin, which allows the Astartes' skin to shield him from otherwise dangerous levels of radiation and heat. Different levels of radiation cause variations of skin color in different Chapters due to mutations in the Melanochrome organ's gene-seed. This can be related to the unusually pale skin of the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters and the dark black skin and red eyes of the Salamanders.
- Oolitic Kidney (The Purifier) - This gene-seed organ works in conjunction with the Preomnor, filtering the blood to remove toxins that have been ingested or breathed into the body. However, this detoxification process renders the Astartes unconscious once it begins, so it can be very dangerous if required during combat. Under normal circumstances, the Oolitic Kidney also acts as a regulatory organ for the Astartes physiology, maintaining the efficient action of the Space Marine's advanced circulatory system and the proper functioning of his other organs, implanted or otherwise.
- Neuroglottis (The Devourer) - This gene-seed organ implanted in the mouth allows an Astartes to biochemically assess a wide variety of things simply by taste or smell, biochemically testing various objects for toxicity and nutritional content, essentially determining if the substance is edible or poisonous. From poisons to chemicals to animals, a Space Marine can even track his quarry by taste or smell alone, much like the average canine bred for tracking.
- Mucranoid (The Weaver) - This gene-seed organ is implanted within the central nervous system and responds to specific chemical stimuli in the environment, causing the Space Marine to secrete a waxy protein substance similar to mucus through his pores that seals his skin. The gland's operations must first be activated by an external chemical treatment, usually self-administered, before it will activate. Space Marines are cocooned in this way before they enter suspended animation, and the process can even protect them from the harshness of the vacuum and other extremes of temperature, particularly deeply frigid environments.
- Betcher's Gland (The Poison Bite) - Actually consisting of 2 separate glands implanted into multiple locations inside an Astartes' mouth, including the inside of the lower lip, in the salivary glands or in the hard palette, these two glands work in tandem to transform a Space Marine's saliva into a corrosive, blinding acid when consciously triggered. An Astartes trapped behind iron bars, for example, would be able to chew his way out given a few hours. These implants' more common use is to aid in the digestion of unusually difficult or impossible things to digest, such as cellulose. In the gene-seed of several primarchs, like that of Rogal Dorn, this organ has atrophied and is no longer as effective or has simply ceased to function entirely in the Astartes of the Chapters that use those primarchs' gene-seed.
- Progenoid Glands (The Gene-Seeds) - Implanted into both the neck and the chest cavity, these reproductive glands serve to collect, gestate and maintain the gene-seed from a Space Marine's body, and to safeguard it for the continuity of a Chapter. These organs hormonally respond to the presence of the other Astartes gene-seed implants in the body by creating germ cells with DNA identical to that of those implants through a process very similar to cellular mitosis. These germ cells grow and are stored in the Progenoid organs, much like sperm cells or egg cells are stored in the testes and ovaries of normal men and women. When properly cultured by the Apothecaries of a Space Marine Chapter, these germ cells can be gestated into each of the 19 gene-seed organs needed to create a new Space Marine. Thus, for most Astartes, their Progenoid Glands represent the only form of reproduction they will ever know, though the DNA passed on will be that of their primarch, not their own. The neck gland can be removed after 5 years, and the chest gland after 10 years; both are then used to create new gene-seed organs for the development of the next generation of Space Marines.
- The Black Carapace (Interface) - The last and possibly most important of all gene-seed implants, this neuroreactive, fibrous organic material is implanted directly under the skin in the chest area of the hardened and shell-like ribcage of the Astartes neophyte. Invasive fibre bundles that serve as neuron connectors then grow inward from the implant and interlink with the Space Marine's central nervous system. Points pre-cut into the Carapace before its implantation by the Apothecary are effectively neural connection points, allowing an Astartes to directly interface his central nervous system with his suit of power armour's Machine Spirit so that the suit can provide enhanced protection and combat maneuverability unavailable to an unaltered Human wearing the same armour.
Throughout the implantation process, a Space Marine neophyte must undergo multiple regimens of chemical and hypno-therapy treatments in order for the implanted organs to develop normally and function properly so that they integrate without mishap into the new Astartes' physiology.
Too many neophytes have been lost during the implantation process as their bodies proved critically unable to meet the new biochemical and hormonal stress being placed upon them.
For these unlucky individuals, the only recourse is usually euthanasia or being reduced to a mindless cybernetic Servitor who can still prove to be of at least marginal use to the Chapter. The full course of implantation surgeries begins under ideal conditions between the ages of 10-14 Terran years as outlined below:
- Age 10-14: The Secondary Heart, Ossmodula and Biscopea are implanted, with the Ossmodula and the Biscopea usually being implanted during the same surgical procedure.
- Age 12-14: The Haemastamen and the Larraman's Organ are implanted. This surgery can be difficult for neophytes at the older end of this age range, who have less time to recover from the previous surgeries and the effects of the implants upon their rapidly growing adolescent bodies.
- Age 14-17: Once the Catalepsean Node is implanted at the sixth stage of the process, the neophyte begins his hypno-therapy conditioning in the device known as a Hypnomat.
- Age 14-16: The Preomnor, Omophagea, and Multi-lung are all implanted within the neophyte simultaneously in the same surgical procedure, some time during this age range but after the Catalepsean Node has been implanted and hypno-therapy has already begun. The Occulobe, Lyman's Ear, and the Sus-an Membrane can also be implanted at any time during this age range, also usually during the same surgical procedure.
- Age 15-16: The Melanochrome, Oolitic Kidney, and Neuroglottis are ideally implanted during this age range, all during the same surgical procedure.
- Age 16-18: The remaining gene-seed implants, the Mucranoid, Betcher's Gland, Progenoid Glands and the Black Carapace, are implanted in that order at any time between the ages of 16 to 18 standard years. The idea is to be able to introduce a neophyte into a Chapter's company of Scout Marines by the time his adult growth has been reached, usually around 18 years of age, though some neophytes have become Scouts as early as the age of 16 if their implantation process began at the young end of the age ranges given here.
Primaris Gene-Seed and Organs
Though they now stand a step above their Firstborn Astartes brethren, all Primaris Space Marines were still created using the original gene-seed of their primarchs, like all other members of the Adeptus Astartes.
Some voices within the Imperium now worry how this new type of transhuman warrior will react to the many genetic quirks and flaws found in the gene-seed of some of the more unusual Chapters, particularly given the long history of fiascoes that have resulted from attempts to alter the Emperor's original work.
In the pursuit of his attempt to improve upon the original Space Marine template, Archmagos Belisarius Cawl collected samples of the genomes of all twenty of the original primarchs, including those deemed Lost or Traitors, though Roboute Guilliman made clear to his overeager servant that Primaris Marines were to be created only from the lines of those of his brothers who led the nine Loyalist Space Marine Legions.
It is known that in addition to the general advancements in their gene-seed, Primaris Space Marines possess three additional gene-seed implant organs compared to their Firstborn brethren and that their gene-seed is far more genetically stable than that of their forerunners.
Primaris Space Marine gene-seed has only a .001% chance of genetic deviancy from the original baseline with the passage of each generation, which makes it nearly immune to the severe genetic instability suffered by Chapters such as the Blood Angels and Space Wolves over the course of their existence.
Nearly every Firstborn Space Marine created since the First Founding possesses nineteen specialised organs derived from this gene-seed.
The Primaris Marines, however, are implanted with a further three additional organs. It was the Sangprimus Portum, a device containing potent genetic material harvested from the primarchs, that allowed for this breakthrough.
Entrusted to Cawl by Guilliman shortly after the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium, this device resulted in a new breed of Adeptus Astartes that were deployed en masse in the Ultima Founding of ca. 999.M41.
Due to Cawl's interpretation of his orders and the millennia-spanning labour of his task -- during which Guilliman was injured and suspended in stasis -- the secrets of these new Primaris organs were not released until late in the 41st Millennium.
The Primaris Marines possess all of the nineteen gene-seed implant organs that have been gifted to their Firstborn Astartes brothers, as well as three more that only they possess, for a total of twenty-two.
These new gifts of Belisarius Cawl's genius further enhance their transhuman status and ability to bring the Emperor's justice to a galaxy shrouded in darkness and despair. These additional implanted organs include:
- Sinew Coils (The Steel Within) - The Primaris Space Marine's sinews are reinforced with durametallic coil-cables that can contract with incredible force, magnifying his strength as well as giving his body another layer of defence. A Primaris Space Marine can crush a man's skull in his hand, break Flak Armour to flinders, or even bite through a metal cable should the need arise.
- Magnificat (The Amplifier) - A small, thumbnail-sized lobe that is inserted into the brain's cortex. The Magnificat secretes hormones that increase the body's growth functions whilst also intensifying the function of its other transhuman implants, especially those of the Biscopea and the Ossmodula. In truth, the Magnificat is but half of the true, dual-valve Immortis Gland (the so-called "God-Maker") that the Emperor created for His primarchs. However, Archmagos Cawl could only find materials and genetic blueprints to build the Dextrophic Lobe (the right half of the Immortis Gland), while plans for the Sintarius (the left half) that would complete the original super-organ had been wholly eradicated from Imperial records of the Primarch Project. Whether this was done by the Emperor's own hand or by some nefarious source, Cawl could not tell.
- Belisarian Furnace (The Revitaliser) - This is a dormant organ that connects to both Astartes hearts. In times of extreme stress, or should the warrior's body undergo violent, damaging trauma, it expels great blurts of self-synthesized chemicals -- a hyper-cocktail that simulates the biological action of combat stimms while also aiding in the rapid regrowth of tissue, bone and muscle. The gland then falls dormant again, and takes some time to metabolically build itself up once more for the next usage.
The Primaris implants are normally introduced between the implantation of the Biscopea and the Haemastamen, steps 3 and 4 above. These procedures are known as the "Primaris Alpha" and "Primaris Beta" phases of the gene-seed organ implantation process. Both phases can be introduced simultaneously.
In addition to the extensive implantation process for the gene-seed organs, both Firstborn and Primaris neophytes undergo chemical treatment, psychological conditioning, and subconscious hypnotherapy, all the while spending every waking solar hour honing their combat skills with ceaseless combat training.
Until their acceptance as a full initiate and battle-brother of their Chapter, a neophyte must submit to constant tests and examinations by the Chapter Apothecaries.
The newly implanted organs must be monitored very carefully, imbalances corrected, and any sign of corrupt or deviant development treated. This chemical treatment is reduced after completion of the initiation process, but it never ends.
Space Marines undergo periodic drug treatment for the rest of their lives in order to maintain a stable metabolism. To this end, Space Marine power armour contains extensive physiological monitoring and drug dispensation equipment.
As the super-enhanced body grows, the recipient of the gene-seed organs must learn how to use his new skills. Some of the implants, specifically the Catalespean Node and Occulobe, can only function once correct hypnotherapy has been administered. Hypnotherapy is not always as effective as chemical treatment, but it can have substantial results.
If a Space Marine can be taught how to control his own metabolism, his dependence on drugs is lessened. The process is undertaken in a machine called a Hypnomat. Space Marines are placed in a state of hypnosis and subjected to visual and aural images in order to awaken their minds to their unconscious metabolic processes.
A Space Marine is more than just a Human being with extraordinary powers. Just as their bodies receive 19 or 22 separate gene-seed implants, so their minds are altered to release the latent powers that lie within all Human minds, and these are not the psychic powers of the Warp but the intrinsic capabilities of every Human brain. These mental powers are, if anything, more extraordinary than even the physical powers endowed by the gene-seed implants.
For example, a Space Marine can control his senses and nervous system to a remarkable degree, and can consequently endure pain that would kill a normal man. A Space Marine can also think and react at lightning speeds.
Memory training is an important part of the Astartes' psycho-indoctrination as well and some Space Marines develop photographic memories in the course of their psychoconditioning and hypnotherapy.
Space Marines, of course, vary in intelligence as do other men, and their individual mental abilities vary to some degree, as their implants do not reshape their core neural architecture and psyches, though the hypnotherapy does act to "smooth out" many personality quirks.
This indoctrination also includes psychological conditioning which is intended to reinforce a Space Marine's respect for authority and his willingness to follow orders regardless of his own desires, as well as to harden his mind to the corruptive temptations offered by Chaos.
It is no exaggeration to say that many Astartes truly no longer know fear. At the end of this process, if all goes well, an adolescent Human male will have been transformed into a superhuman Astartes. Yet, in many ways he will no longer truly be Human, having sacrificed his own Humanity so that he might protect that of others.
Space Marine Combat Doctrine
Every Space Marine Chapter is fiercely proud of its history and achievements and each is marked out by its own distinctive colours and Chapter heraldry.
These colours and iconography were established at the time of each Chapter's Founding and are displayed with unadulterated pride upon all armour and vehicles owned by the Chapter.
The wargear of the Chapter is maintained with painstaking precision and many items have been covered over the millennia in fine lines of intricate devotional script in High Gothic, with each line detailing a battle honour of the Chapter won by a previous user of the weapon.
Each Chapter is a small, mobile army and although each contains only 1,000 battle-brothers, a Chapter's actual combat potential is equivalent to at least ten times that number of normal troops drawn from the Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard).
Each Chapter has its own transports, support staff, armourers and Chapter fleets of warships and are intended to respond to any type of threat that can emerge anywhere in the galaxy.
Because they are so mobile compared to other Imperial military units, the Space Marines are often the first servants of the Emperor to arrive at a scene of conflict and they are used to mount deep strikes, raids and devastating surprise attacks.
The archetypal mission for which the Space Marines were created over 10,000 Terran years ago is the planetstrike, or planetary assault. Such an offensive begins with the Astartes' Chapter fleet engaging with and clearing away any defending starships and neutralising the target world's orbital defences, ground-based laser batteries and missile silos.
Often the bulk of a Space Marine force deployed to a planetary assault will deploy directly into battle, forcing a decisive engagement to take advantage of the considerable shock of their appearance upon the field.
When the Space Marines arrive in this manner they must deploy as rapidly as possible to maintain the element of surprise that plays such a crucial role for them in achieving battlefield success.
To this end, Space Marine warships are equipped with hundreds of Drop Pods and large hangar bays filled with deadly Thunderhawk gunships. The contrails of these craft high in a world's atmosphere are often the only harbinger of a Space Marine assault.
As the Chapter's Drop Pods and Thunderhawks streak through the embattled sky towards their rendezvous with blood and fire, the enemies of the Emperor come to realise that their doom is at hand.
The Space Marines always prefer to deploy right into the heart of the enemy's force and proceed to unleash a devastating barrage of bolter fire. The initial shock of this assault can often break an enemy force before a campaign has barely begun, ending a rebellion or forcing an alien invader off-world in one fell stroke.
These shock assaults are usually spearheaded by squads of Terminators drawn from a Chapter's Veteran 1st Company who teleport directly into the heart of the foes' lines and are supported by heavier units like armoured vehicles that have been delivered to the world's surface by Thunderhawk Transporters.
An entire company of Astartes is rarely fielded as a tactical force. Instead, each Space Marine force is exactly tailored to the tactical requirements of the combat mission at hand, usually with elements drawn from the versatile Battle Companies.
Such a force might consist of only 3 or 4 squads supported by individual squads drawn from other companies, as well as a complement of armoured vehicles and Dreadnoughts. This force will be led into combat by a Captain, a Lieutenant, a senior Veteran Sergeant, a Chaplain or a Librarian who serves as the Force Commander.
On very rare occasions, a Space Marine Chapter will be called upon to carry out a mission or face an enemy of such size and power that it must deploy a large portion of its total strength.
In these instances, forces consisting of 200 or even 300 Astartes and their supporting vehicles are not uncommon. Such a force is deployed only to those locations where the enemy's advance must be stopped at all costs.
For instance, during the Second and Third Wars for Armageddon it was determined by the High Lords of Terra that the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka had to be prevented from extending his WAAAGH! beyond that strategically located Hive World lest his Greenskin hordes gain footholds on more populous worlds in the Segmentum Solar and wreak absolute havok on the Imperium's heart.
As such, several legendary Astartes Chapters like the Blood Angels, Salamanders and Black Templars deployed several full Battle Companies in their supreme effort to halt the advance of the Orks. Such was their skill that Armageddon became a new word for total war in the Ork "kultur."
The nature of the Adeptus Astartes' missions means that a Chapter's various components may be spread across the galaxy at any one time, with individual detachments involved in separate conflicts thousands of light years apart.
It is very unusual for all 10 companies of a Chapter to be gathered in the same place at the same time and centuries can pass between gatherings of an entire Chapter for a single mission.
As a result, the deployment of an entire Space Marine Chapter indicates the need to combat a threat that may rend the very fabric of the Imperium itself if left undefeated. The deployment of such a force can only be requested by the High Lords of Terra and is led by the Chapter Master in person. Such a gathering of martial power can bring a Fortress World to its knees, halt an alien invasion or even hurl back a Black Crusade.
Legendary, existential threats to the Emperor's realm such as the Helican Schism, the Macharian Heresy and the Tyrannic Wars have seen the need to call up entire Chapters. Whole worlds have become shrines to remember the fallen of these conflicts.
Each of these campaigns engulfed large regions of Imperial space and involved countless millions of troops, yet were ultimately decided only by the unmatched heroism of a relatively small number of the Emperor's Angels of Death, the Space Marines.
Firstborn Chapter Organisation
According to the original version of the Codex Astartes before the introduction of the Primaris Marines, Space Marines were organised into three main types of squad: Tactical, Assault, and Devastator. Each of these squads has a unique battlefield role and is designed to operate together to provide mutual support and maximum flexibility.
All Space Marine squad types, with the exception of the Scouts, normally consist of 10 Astartes, but they can be divided into two separate combat squads in battle. This gives each unit a further degree of flexibility in action.
If fate favours him, progressing through the ranks as an initiate and full battle-brother of the Chapter, serving as Devastator Marine, Assault Marine, Tactical Marine and, if he is exceptionally bold, eventually earning the honour of serving as a Veteran in the elite 1st Company.
A favoured few excel even past this great honour and join the ranks of the Chapter's officers, leading their fellows into the blood and fury of battle.
The first step along the path to becoming a mighty hero of the Chapter is service in one of the Scout Squads of the 10th Company. Scout Squads consist of a Veteran Sergeant and four to nine Scout Marines. The role of the Sergeant is to train the Scouts and lead them in battle. Only Sergeants of considerable experience and status are designated for this role.
Scouts attend to every word their Sergeant utters, for it is said that he has forgotten more of war than many more senior officers will ever learn. Whilst serving as a Scout, a neophyte learns the most subtle arts of war.
In a range of infiltration and reconnaissance missions, he learns how to approach and observe the enemy. Information gathered in such missions is passed back to the main battle force.
The Scouts get their first taste of combat by way of carefully placed ambushes, the Scout Sergeant drawing on centuries of experience to deploy his charges in such a manner as to teach them as valuable a lesson as the enemy.
Unlike that enemy, the Scouts learn valuable skills in such combats -- the enemy earns nothing more than a quick death, for even a neophyte Space Marine is a potent warrior compared to a mortal man.
A Space Marine serving in a Devastator Squad may only recently have completed his service in the 10th Company and been accepted as a full initiate and battle-brother of the Chapter. It will be his first experience of fighting in power armour.
When first assigned to such a squad, the Space Marine will bear a bolter and grenades and fulfill a support role within the squad, providing close support to those battle-brothers armed with heavy weapons, identifying targets and being close at hand to proffer ammunition and to take up the weapons of any who should fall.
Only when he has proven himself steady and reliable in battle will the Space Marine be entrusted with one of the Chapter's mighty heavy weapons, which he will come to master over the course of several hundred battles. Devastator Squads consist of a Sergeant and nine Space Marines.
Up to four Space Marines may be armed with heavy weapons, whilst the remainder will carry Bolters. This is the most heavily armed type of Space Marine squad, and they are deployed wherever overwhelming firepower is needed, especially when the Chapter faces enemy armour or fortified positions.
Having proved himself steadfast and disciplined in the Devastator Squads, a Space Marine will in time earn himself a place in his company's Assault Squads. Here the Space Marine comes to master the application of overwhelming force, taking the fight directly to the enemy's strong points.
He embraces the controlled savagery of close combat and looks his enemy in the eye as he deals him death. Assault Squads are specialists at fighting in hand-to-hand combat.
Each squad consists of a Sergeant and nine Space Marines all equipped with Jump Packs and armed with a close combat weapon in each hand.
Common armament consists of a Bolt Pistol and a Chainsword. Optionally, two of the Space Marines may carry Plasma Pistols. This combination is ideal for fast-attacking, close-quarter fighting assault troops.
Even though Tactical Squads are the most common type of squad in any Chapter, to earn a place in one a Space Marine must have proven himself both courageous and wise in battle.
Throughout his service in the Devastator and Assault Squads, he will be proven adaptable in his approach to the arts of war and will have mastered a range of tactics and weaponry.
Tactical Squads are the most commonly fielded squad types in a Chapter. A Tactical Squad is led by a Sergeant and includes nine other Space Marines. Of these, seven battle-brothers are armed with Bolters, whilst the remaining two can be armed with Bolters or, alternatively, one may carry a heavy weapon such as a Missile Launcher or a Heavy Bolter, and the other may carry a special weapon such as a Flamer or Meltagun. This combination is the most tactically flexible and offers a good mixture of capabilities within the squad.
After serving in hundreds of campaigns and thousands of battles, and having conquered the very worst the galaxy has to throw at him, a Space Marine is likely to be considered a Veteran.
In most Chapters, such an honour is not measured by length of service, but in blood spilled, horrors overcome, and mighty deeds done. As a prelude to service in the elite 1st Company, many Space Marine Veterans fulfill the role of Sergeant, leading squads of all types in any of the other companies.
Thus, many of the Space Marines of the Veteran company will be battle-proven leaders as well as highly experienced warriors. The warriors of the Veteran company are fielded in one of three squad types: Terminator Squads wear the uniquely powerful Terminator Armour, sometimes called Tactical Dreadnought Armour.
This armoured suit is massive in construction, virtually turning a Space Marine into a one-man tank. Every Chapter has a limited number of Terminator Armour suits, and each is an ancient artefact crafted many thousands of Terran years ago.
Terminators are less mobile than other Space Marines and are primarily used in starship boarding actions or in extreme close quarters combat when heavy fire support cannot be easily brought to bear.
So resilient is the armour that it is reputedly able to operate inside plasma reactors, within volcanoes, and inside highly irradiated areas of deep space. Legend has it that the armour can even survive the tread of a Titan.
To wear an ancient suit of Terminator Armour is one of the greatest honours to which a Space Marine can aspire. Each suit bears on its left shoulder the Crux Terminatus, the unique honour badge of the Terminator.
Each Crux is said to contain at its core a tiny fragment of the armour worn by the Emperor Himself when he fought his final battle against the traitor Warmaster Horus, providing a direct link between the Space Marine and the Master of Mankind.
Despite its obvious benefits, Terminator Armour is not suitable for all missions. Most of the time, Veterans take to the field wearing ordinary power armour, albeit a suit inscribed with many hundreds of battle honours as well as the Crux Terminatus. When wearing power armour, Veterans are formed into Vanguard Veteran Squads or Sternguard Veteran Squads.
By dint of their rank, Veterans have access to the most fearsome weaponry in the Chapter's Armoury, including sacred blades and Artificer-crafted Combi-weapons of uniquely masterful craftsmanship. Vanguard Veteran Squads go to battle equipped with the most lethal of close combat weapons, and often wear Jump Packs to bring them to bear before the enemy can even react.
Sternguard Veteran Squads carry a wide array of ranged weaponry and specialised ammunition, and are masters in its overwhelming application. Veteran squads are rarely deployed en masse, but are instead used to bolster the line, provide an unstoppable speartip or to act as a highly flexible and mobile reserve.
Each of the Chapter's ten companies is led by an officer with the rank of Captain. These leaders are second in experience only to the Chapter Master himself, and each is a warrior so deadly that he will rarely meet his match.
Each Captain is an inspirational and determined leader, able to coordinate the Space Marines under his command whatever the opposition. In addition to leading Space Marines in battle, each Captain holds functional titles dependent on his other responsibilities with regard to the workings of the Chapter or its homeworld, such as Master of the Fleet or Master of the Marches.
Of the thousand awesome and terrifying warriors that comprise a Space Marine Chapter, there is but one Chapter Master, a leader with centuries of experience in the very crucible of battle.
His own fighting skills will be unsurpassed, whether in the use of gun, blade, or bare hands. His very rank speaks of a past littered with the bodies of bloodied, beaten foes of the most terrifying and inhuman sort.
It is not enough, however, for the Chapter Master to be its foremost warrior. He must also be a superb tactician, grounded in the teachings of the Codex Astartes and honed through countless decisions made in the maelstrom of close action.
His warriors are also his brothers, and he knows that they will give their lives at his command. He must preserve these magnificent troops, but must also accomplish his mission and uphold the honour of his Chapter.
He will be steeped in the lore of his Chapter and be sworn to keep its secrets and must conduct his diplomacy accordingly, for Space Marines maintain a web of time-proven oaths and honour debts and do not simply heed the commands of Imperial functionaries, no matter how impressive their title. Those who wish a Chapter Master to send his warriors into battle must give him good reason to do so.
In addition to this, a Chapter Master will often be the ruler of his Chapter homeworld, a resource that is too valuable for him to ignore. Amongst the greatest risks facing a Chapter Master is the very power he wields, for a Chapter of Space Marines is a force capable of devastating entire worlds at his order.
It is an Astartes' very power that can lead to hubris. And it is hubris that can so easily condemn even a Space Marine's soul to damnation as those dedicated to the protection of Mankind may come to believe they should rule it instead.
Era Indomitus Chapter Organisation
The above scheme of Space Marine Chapter organisation has been revised in the years since the birth of the Great Rift, the alterations made to the Codex Astartes by the resurrected Primarch Roboute Guilliman and the introduction of the Primaris Space Marines into the Adeptus Astartes.
As before, the organisation of a Space Marine Chapter in the wake of the Ultima Founding of the Primaris Marines comprises 1,000 battle-brothers.
In comparison to the teeming multitudes of the Emperor's original Space Marine Legions this is few indeed, yet history has proven time and time again that such an elite gathering of martial strength can conquer star systems and even alter the fate of the galaxy itself.
After the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman in ca. 999.M41 and his restoration as the ruling Lord Commander of the Imperium, the Codex Astartes was revised for the new era of the Dark Imperium that began with the birth of the Great Rift and the demands of the Indomitus Crusade.
Under the revised organisational scheme, each of the ten companies of a Chapter still boasts one hundred warriors, led by a captain -- a veteran of countless wars -- and now often two Lieutenants as sub-company leaders. A company is still organised into ten squads of ten Space Marines, each led by a Sergeant.
The strategic deployment, disposition and leadership of these companies is regulated by the Chapter Command, while their armoured support requirements are fulfilled by the Armoury.
However, the guidelines in Guilliman's updated Codex provide for up to twenty squads of five battle-brothers. Furthermore, recent precepts allow for each Battle Company to be reinforced with auxiliary warriors. These additional squads are reassigned from the Reserve Companies.
Of the ten companies, the 1st still consists of the Chapter's most experienced Veterans, and is therefore the most powerful. The Veterans of the 1st Company are still trained to fight in Terminator Armour. It is extremely rare for the Veteran Company to be deployed en masse -- its units normally take to the field alongside the Chapter's Battle Companies.
Whether they be Primaris Marine Intercessors, Vanguard Marine jump troops or Terminator-armoured strike squads, they are often denoted as the Chapter's pre-eminent warriors by their white helms.
The revised Codex Astartes decrees that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Companies are designated Battle Companies, each nominally broken into two demi-companies of roughly equal size and composition. These generally carry the weight of a Chapter's combat duties. Battle Companies consist of at least six battleline squads, two close support squads and two fire support squads.
Battle Companies provide their commanding officers with a flexible force that can respond to rapidly shifting tactical objectives at a moment's notice.
Squads within Battle Companies may be broken down and deployed across a variety of roles should it be required; for example, were six battle-brothers to take to the field as Aggressors, the remaining four warriors of their squad might find roles piloting Invictor warsuits, driving the strike force's Rhino APCs and the like.
Or Assault Squads, a type of close support squad, may be deployed as Bike Squads or Land Speeder crews and, just as with their fire support brethren known as Devastators, may take to battle as Centurion warsuit pilots.
Many Space Marine strike forces are constructed around squads from a single Battle Company, heavily reinforced by elements of the Veteran, Scout and Reserve Companies.
The Reserve Companies are entirely composed of squads of the same designation. They normally act in support of the Battle Companies and provide a source of replacements for any casualties suffered by the frontline formations.
Typically, the 6th and 7th Companies both comprise ten battleline squads, while the 8th Company consists entirely of close support squads and the 9th entirely fire support squads.
Their main function is to reinforce the Battle Companies, providing a source of replacements for any casualties suffered on the front line and thus ensuring the Adeptus Astartes retain their effectiveness in protracted or bloody campaigns.
Furthermore, the Codex allows for each Battle Company to be bolstered with additional squads reassigned from the Reserve Companies; the presence of these warriors can take a company's numbers temporarily above the traditional limit of 100 Astartes, lending them the additional strength to overcome especially challenging foes.
Similarly, squads of the 7th Company are trained to fight with Land Speeders and Stormtalons, often acting as a light vehicle reserve formation.
The 8th Company is the Close Support Company and is most often used in an invasion role, or wherever a strong hand-to-hand fighting force is needed.
The 9th Company is the Fire Support Company and is the most heavily equipped company in the Chapter, and its heavy cannon-toting Astartes provide unparalleled fire support to their more lightly-equipped comrades.
It is also not uncommon for the Reserve Companies to form hard-hitting specialised forces in their own right. They may be deployed to seize or defend important objectives in larger conflicts, the concentrated firepower of so many fire support battle-brothers or the line-breaking fury of massed close support warriors proving the decisive factor in many such engagements.
The specialised nature of each of the Reserve Companies sees them deployed in quite specific circumstances. The battleline warriors of the 6th and 7th Companies will often act as crews for large, independent formations of the various armoured vehicles deployed by the Chapter, allowing commanders to field entire companies of skimmers, battle tanks or other swift assault vehicles.
The highly mobile nature of the 8th Company's close support squads -- often equipped with Jump Packs or embarked aboard transport vehicles -- sees them used in a rapid assault role, as well as wherever a strong hand-to-hand fighting force is needed.
The 9th Company, being the most heavily equipped in the Chapter, is used to bolster defensive lines and strongholds, as well as provide long-range support.
In most Chapters, Space Marines progress through the Reserve Companies -- from the 9th through to the 6th. During his time in the Reserve Companies, a battle-brother will prove his mettle while learning new methods of warfare.
The Chapter's 10th Company is its Scout Company. The majority of its members are neophyte Scout Marines -- those whose combat training, physical transformation and cultural indoctrination into the Chapter is still incomplete -- but the company also contains a standing force of ten Vanguard Space Marine squads.
These warriors can be called upon to conduct a variety of stealth operations behind enemy lines.
The Codex Astartes dictates no formal size for a Scout Company as the rate of recruitment is not fixed, meaning that some Chapters will be able to field comparatively large 10th Company formations while others must husband their limited resources carefully.
All companies, except the Scout Company, maintain a small fleet of Rhino, Razorback and Repulsor armoured transports. The Veteran Company also has a permanent complement of Land Raiders of different patterns and Stormraven gunships for carrying Terminators into the heart of battle.
A Chapter's other armoured vehicles form a pool, maintained by the Armoury, that Captains can draw upon. Many companies also include a number of Dreadnoughts of different patterns, including the Primaris Redemptor Dreadnought.
Every company has its own Dreadnoughts; after being interred in the metal sarcophagus, it is customary for a fallen Space Marine to fall under the care and maintenance of the Chapter Armoury, but to remain a part of the company in which he served.
Not only are these venerable and mighty warriors valuable battlefield assets for the devastation they can wreak upon the foe, but they are also the living embodiment of their company's history and traditions.
Each Dreadnought has its battle honours inscribed into the very metal of its encasement by the Chapter's artificers to celebrate the many brave actions in which it took part.
Whilst each company has a number of its own transport vehicles, the majority of vehicles in a Chapter are maintained by its Armoury. When the need arises these armoured fighting vehicles are deployed as massed spearheads -- wholly independent from the companies and commanded by a senior officer -- or requisitioned individually by a Captain to support their company.
In the latter case, the vehicles are given badges appropriate to the company they will serve and are assigned a simple numerical designator. This number is repeated on the crews' badges, if the vehicle is not manned by a Techmarine novitiate from the Armoury.
Upon its creation, a Space Marine battle tank is given a name that reflects its role as a protector of the Chapter's brethren. From that point onwards, the vehicle is as much a part of the Chapter as the Space Marines themselves, and over the years its many deeds will be celebrated as greatly as those of the Chapter's flesh and blood heroes.
A Chapter also includes a number of officers and specialists who exist outside of the formal organisation of the companies. These individuals are known as the headquarters staff, and they will often stride out to lead a strike force in battle, or provide essential battlefield support, spiritual leadership, psychic capability and destructive combat prowess.
Included amongst their rarefied ranks are the psychically empowered Librarians of the Librarius, the bellicose Chaplains of the Reclusiam, Apothecaries from the Apothecarion, standard-bearing Ancients and the mechanically adept Techmarines and their Servitors.
Although the Codex Astartes describes a number of ranks and responsibilities held by the headquarters staff, only those officers with an active martial role actually accompany the Chapter to war.
There are relatively few senior officers with noncombatant roles -- such as recruiting and training new members or administrating the Chapter -- as most of these types of duties are performed by Human Chapter serfs.
In addition to their rank, Captains of the Chapter are still often assigned Space Marine Master titles which include other functional responsibilities. These include such positions as the Lord of the Household, the Chapter Master's Secretarius, the Master of the Fleet, the Chief Victualler, the Master of the Arsenal, the Master of Recruits and the Master of the Watch.
Over all of these mighty warriors still presides the Chapter Master, elevated from the greatest of the Chapter's Captains. He alone is responsible for the deeds of the Chapter, and answers directly to the Administratum.
Chapter Masters may select an Honour Guard that are in addition to the company roll, although not all Chapter Masters choose to do so.
Vanguard Space Marines are reconnaissance and infiltration experts, equipped to operate alone in enemy territory for extended periods of time and intensively trained in shadow warfare tactics and sabotage techniques. Vanguard strike forces are tasked with achieving full-spectrum superiority over the foe.
Every facet of the opposition's war machine must be dismantled, from supply routes and infrastructure to communications and logistics. Morale must be utterly sapped through non-stop harassment by terror troops and assassination of key individuals.
The ultimate goal of this relentless campaign is to leave the foe crippled and helpless before the advance of the main Space Marine battle line.
Every newly recruited and created Primaris Space Marine spends time in the 10th Company learning the full range of Vanguard combat techniques, from the mobile fire support duties of the Suppressors and the expert sniper-combat of the Eliminators, to the terror raids of the Reivers and the point-blank gunfighting of the Incursors.
The Primaris battle-brothers keep their Vanguard skills honed even after they move on to other companies, meaning that at a moment's notice they can don any of the various types of Mark X Phobos Power Armour and go to battle as Vanguard Space Marines.
Even Veterans of the 1st Company can swiftly reprise such duties, combining the benefits of their vast wealth of combat experience with the specialised and wholly lethal infiltration-and-sabotage tools of the Vanguard.
When a full-sized Vanguard force deploys into battle they often do so with armoured support from Invictor Tactical Warsuits and Impulsor transports, not to mention the leadership of Captains, Librarians and the like also armed and armoured for stealth warfare.
An elite, fast-moving, silent-striking force of this sort can secure victories through ambush, sabotage and assassination that a far larger army could never achieve through brute force alone.
Terminator Strike Forces
Individual squads of Terminators are most often deployed as ultra-elite support for the Battle Companies. However, there are times when a Chapter will mass the majority -- and in exceptionally rare cases, even the entirety -- of its Terminator-armoured brethren and send them into battle as an utterly devastating strike force.
This occurs most commonly when an infantry assault is required against a confined and inimical location. Clearing xenos infestations out of vast Space Hulks, striking at the heart of heretical fortresses and staging boarding actions against super-heavy enemy war engines are all examples of duties that Terminator forces excel at.
Equally, some Chapters may furnish their Terminator Squads with transport in the form of gunships and battle tanks, and field them as swift and utterly unstoppable assault forces. The risks involved in such an action are high, for every suit of Terminator battle-plate is an irreplaceable relic, and those who wear it to battle are scarcely less valuable -- should such a force suffer heavy losses or, worse, be annihilated, their Chapter may never truly recover.
Yet it is a risk often worth taking; a hundred Terminator-armoured Space Marines supported by Land Raiders and Stormravens possess more than enough martial might to lay low the most monstrous of foes, or conquer an entire world in the Emperor's name.
The Codex Astartes makes provision for every Space Marine Chapter to maintain its own combat-capable fleet. Indeed, some Chapters are entirely fleet-based, roaming the galaxy aboard armadas of voidcraft that between them serve the same functions as other Chapters' fortress-monasteries.
Many Chapters, especially the older and more established amongst them, also retain a handful of Battle Barges; these potent craft are every bit as formidable as Imperial Navy Battleships, and often serve as the storied flagships of each Chapter's fleet.
It is in the launch bays of such warships that the Chapter's Drop Pods and Boarding Torpedoes wait to bear the warriors of the Chapter into war. Their launch decks, meanwhile, house squadron after squadron of fightercraft and gunships ready to swarm out and defend their parent craft or support ground forces in battle.
Bonds of Brotherhood
A Space Marine has three levels of interaction that shapes who he is: the overall Chapter views and beliefs, the battle doctrine and mind-set of his company, and the individual bonds he forges with his squad-mates with whom he fights side-by-side.
- The Chapter - The first bond that all Space Marines share is the bond that makes them part of their Chapter. This is coded into their flesh through the gene-seed they all share, dating back to their primarch. Even Chapters of the subsequent Foundings share this trait, no matter how far they are removed from the lineage of their progenitor. The beliefs and combat doctrine of the Chapter for most is rooted in the Codex Astartes, the tome of tactics and strategy created by Roboute Guilliman after the Horus Heresy. It is at the Chapter level that the command structure, battle doctrine, and many inherent beliefs are created for the Space Marine. A member of the Space Wolves knows that it is his duty to take the battle to the foes of the Emperor directly, bringing death with sword and Bolter in close quarters. The same cannot be said of an Iron Hand, who favours dealing death from afar with master-crafted weaponry and war machines. The belief structure created by the Chapter becomes everything to the battle-brother. Many initiates come from Feudal or Feral Worlds, who know nothing of the Imperium and the greater universe, so it is through their indoctrination into the Chapter that everything they know of the galaxy is taught. If the Librarians and Chaplains of the Chapter teach these young men that they must entreat the Machine Spirits to make their Bolters fire and their starships traverse the void of space, many do not think any differently and this will become simple fact to the aspirant. Another Chapter will teach its brethren the intricate ways of maintaining their weaponry and how the Imperium actually works and functions. These wildly disparate views on the basic structures of the universe around them can lead to interesting interactions when Astartes of different Chapters must work together.
- The Company - Once an aspirant has become a Space Marine, he is placed into a company. At the company level, a Space Marine learns the deeper structure of how he will fight the enemies of Mankind. The Codex Astartes outlines the progression of each battle-brother through the companies of their Chapter and what skills he shall gain during his tenure in each. According to the Codex Astartes, a battle-brother progresses from a Scout Marine of the 10th Company, to a Devastator of the 9th Company, then on to an Assault Marine of the 8th Company. Once a Space Marine has mastered the many ways in which he is capable of making war, only then is he ready to enter the Tactical Squads of his Chapter's Battle and Reserve Companies. Space Marine companies often have many ancient traditions and rites based on their past battles and achievements. These become very important to the battle-brother and will greatly influence him. For example, a member of the Blood Ravens' 5th Company, who lost many of his brothers in a prolonged campaign against the Aeldari, may observe an annual rite commemorating the sacrifices made to bring about victory. Missing this observance -- if not in an active battle situation -- could bring about a sense of melancholy and shame to the battle-brother, who feels he is not properly honouring his fallen comrades.
- The Squad - The most intimate bonds are amongst the battle-brothers of the Space Marine's squad. Day in and day out, these hardened warriors fight alongside each other for the glory of the Emperor and the Imperium. With each battle, the members of the squad become more ingrained in the ways of battle and how to rely on each other in any circumstance. It is within a squad -- and that can be a battleline, close combat, fire support or Veteran squad -- that the Astartes has spent the most time. If he leaves his squad for another, to begin his tenure with the Deathwatch, or for some other reason, he must leave a part of himself behind, and learn how to function on a whole new level as part of a new team.
Relations with the Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard)
The Astra Militarum, known coloquially as the Imperial Guard, is composed of men and women possessed of unquenchable faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind, but they are still ultimately mortals of flesh and blood. To the common troopers, the superhuman Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes are as gods walking amongst men and for most of the common people of the Imperium, including the troops of the Imperial Guard, they are a rare sight indeed.
Most Astra Militarum troopers will never see a Space Marine, let alone fight alongside one, and as such they are the subjects of all manner of legends, myths, and superstitions. Different Imperial cultures, and the Imperial Guard regiments drawn from them, have their own beliefs about Space Marines.
Some hold them in awe as the literal sons of the Emperor, whilst others fear them as the deliverers of the Emperor's divine judgement. While it is true that a Space Marine can spit acid, in their ignorance many claim they can also kill with a glance or rout an army with a single word.
Tales abound of small groups of Space Marines conquering entire planets or holding off wave after wave of slavering xenos fiends. Some Chapters, in particular the Ultramarines, are lionised across the Imperium. Others, such as the Blood Drinkers, inspire dread.
Any Imperial Guard trooper (or any other mortal for that matter) finding himself in the presence of a Space Marine is likely to drop to his knees in abject supplication, so potent is the martial bearing of a battle-brother of the Adeptus Astartes. Even senior Imperial Guard officers might find themselves stammering like newly commissioned subalterns when conversing with a Space Marine.
In the main, most Space Marines barely notice mere mortals and it takes a great and rare man indeed to earn their respect. Rumours of their presence in a war zone can often generate great excitement amongst Imperial Guardsmen, but such rumours often prove to be false.
An encounter with a single squad of Space Marines is a legendary encounter for the mortals of the present-day Imperium, even those mortals who are themselves pledged to the Emperor's service, and will result in hushed tales of awe told around the tables of the officers' mess for many Terran years to come.
Relations with the Inquisition
To protect its citizens from the insidious temptations of Chaos, the Imperium of Man long did its best to hide the existence of the Chaos Gods, Daemons and the Chaos Space Marines from public knowledge. Only certain Space Marines, Sanctioned Psykers and the members of the Inquisition were permitted to know the Imperium's darkest secret.
All others are either put to death after exposure to the reality of Chaos to protect the Imperium from their possible corruption, or if they have been a valuable servant to the Imperium, they are allowed to live but required to undergo memory modification or even, in extreme cases, a mind-wipe.
This is a policy that has been in place since before the Emperor of Mankind was interred within the Golden Throne, when only He and His primarchs knew that the Warp contained intelligent entities capable of possessing individuals in realspace.
But even the Emperor did not reveal to His primarchs during the Great Crusade the full truth that the Warp was not just a seething cauldron of psychic energies inhabited by entities similar to xenos, but was actually populated by malign intelligences akin to the supernatural beings of ancient Human myth and superstition.
He chose not to explain that the Empyrean was dominated by the Ruinous Powers and their daemonic servants, for fear that this knowledge alone would lead too many of the primarchs to take actions that would lead to their corruption.
To fight a Daemon army is to fight a twisting tornado of unreason and despair that forever changes those who must confront its horror. As such, the Imperium believes that it cannot allow the knowledge that such foes actually exist to spread, since even the simple knowledge of Chaos' existence may mark the start of an individual's fall to damnation.
The Human survivors of conflicts with the daemonic were invariably confronted by the agents of the Inquisition and mind-wiped, quarantined for life in forced labour camps or even -- in extreme cases -- made the subjects of a worldwide Exterminatus event.
Over the aeons, the galaxy has witnessed Warp-based catastrophes and daemonic incursions beyond counting. Since the inception of the Inquisition after the Horus Heresy, even the fact that such a thing is possible is deemed too dangerous for the citizens of the Imperium to know, for such knowledge breeds heresy as surely as a flyblown corpse breeds maggots.
Because of this, the vast majority of knowledge concerning daemonic incursions has been eradicated from extant Imperial public records. What is known is recorded only in proscribed Imperial texts and heretical xenos scripts that the Inquisition has yet to destroy.
However, in the wake of the opening of the Great Rift at the start of the Era Indomitus, this policy of secrecy has been somewhat relaxed, at least for the Adeptus Astartes, due to necessity. Before the opening of the Great Rift, the vast majority of Astartes were expected to be as ignorant about the existence of Daemons as any other citizen of the Imperium.
In truth, it was hard to find an Astartes who had not fought Daemons by the end of the 41st Millennium. Yet the Inquisition in the Time of Ending was well-known to mind-wipe entire Chapters after certain incidents, though not every Chapter was willing to submit. Some like the Space Wolves resisted any intrusion on their traditional autonomy forcefully.
But in the Era Indomitus, with the galaxy now riven in half by the birth of the Cicatrix Maledictum, daemonic incursions are so common, and Space Marine responses so necessary, that suppressing the knowledge of the existence of Daemons among the Astartes has simply become pointless.
Space Marine Armour
Scout Armour is a lighter, less-encumbering version of standard Imperial Carapace Armour often used by elite Imperial Guard troops like Storm Troopers or Kasrkin that offers excellent protection while at the same time being extremely well-suited for stealth and skirmishing missions.
In most Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters, neophyte Space Marines (Scout Marines) serve in the 10th Company as Scouts for their first assignment.
Scouts are placed under the instruction of an experienced Scout Sergeant, who both takes command of the squad and teaches the Scouts what it means to be a Space Marine. This type of armour is usually only worn by Scout Marines.
Since their Black Carapace has yet to mature, they are still unable to interface with standard Space Marine power armour, so are instead allowed to wear a suit consisting of carbon-titanium composite plates. Scout Armour is still capable of stopping the majority of small-arms fire.
In times of relative peace, full battle-brothers of certain Chapters may take to wearing Scout Armour during periods outside of battle.
Possibly the most prominent feature of the Space Marines is their power armour, which is a synthesis of many technologies that pre-date even the Age of Strife, stretching back into the Dark Age of Technology.
The suit is comprised of multiple custom-crafted ceramite plates with armoured fiber bundles and servos that replicate the wearer's movements and enhances a Space Marine's already superhuman strength, as well as allowing them to easily withstand brutal attacks that would rip a normal Human apart.
The armour itself can also act as a self-containing environment for the suit's owner, protecting the Space Marine from multiple hostile surroundings, including the dark vacuum of deep space and the most toxic planetary environments that the universe can provide.
The armour interacts with the Space Marine's nervous system through the Black Carapace, a subcutaneous membrane grown beneath the skin following gene-seed implantation that allows the Astartes' internal organs and nervous system to interface directly with the suit of power armour, so that the armour in essence becomes literally an extension of the wearer's body.
There are multiple marks of power armour with significantly differing appearances. Some suits were created for particular tasks – Mark III Iron Pattern armour, for example, was created for boarding actions and is thus more heavily armoured to the fore than the rear -- while others bespeak the bleak necessities of the period of Imperial history in which they were fashioned.
The most iconic of this latter type is the heavily studded Mark V Heresy armour, whose entire design is based around the need to rapidly outfit Loyalist Legionaries during the fraught and uncertain days of the Horus Heresy.
Some marks of power armour are especially significant to particular Chapters; the Raven Guard, for example, prize the sleek and aerodynamic Mark VI Corvus Pattern armour highly.
For thousands of standard years, the iconic Mark VII Aquila Pattern armour was the best known and most ubiquitous design of power armour, but since the Ultima Founding the versatile Mark X armour of the Primaris Space Marines has seen ever more widespread use.
However, it was not uncommon for parts of older power armour patterns to be used to replace damaged areas of a Mark VII suit as this saved precious resources.
An example of this type of retrofitting was that some Astartes are known to have rivets on certain parts of their power armour. These pieces are actually derived from the ancient Mark II Crusade Pattern armour that dates back to the time of the Great Crusade over ten standard millenia ago.
These patched suits of power armour protect their wearers just as well as their updated counterparts since the only real change in power armour patterns over the last 10,000 Terran years have been to the armour's myriad auxiliary systems.
What few know is that each Space Marine's suit of power armour is so specific to its wearer that it cannot be worn by 2 different Space Marines without alterations.
So precious is his ancient suit of armour that each Space Marine swears solemn oaths to honour and maintain its individual Machine Spirit and the memories of all the honoured Astartes who have worn that particulalr suit over the generations.
The introduction of the Primaris Space Marines also brought with it the development of the new suit of more advanced power armour, the Mark X.
Unlike its predecessors, the Mark X is intended to be a modular design, more versatile than prior marks and drawing upon the most advanced patterns of the past, particularly the Mark IV Maximus and Mark VIII Errant Patterns.
Mark X power armour does not have a single appellation like earlier variants of Astartes battle-plate (such as Mark VII Aquila armour).
Instead, different variants of the same mark are worn depending on the Primaris Space Marines' combat role.
Regardless of its pattern, Mark X armour is designed to serve as a core exoskeleton that can attach to a special undersuit worn by each Primaris Marine, enabling it to be fitted in different configurations according to need.
A third variant is Mark X Phobos armour. This suit's lighter-weight ceramite and streamlined design allow for greater mobility, and its servo-motors are engineered to be completely silent. This variant serves those Primaris Astartes who take on the role of Reivers and Vanguard Space Marines.
These Astartes are ruthless killers, trained in covert operations who operate behind enemy lines as saboteurs, assassins and infiltrators. All who wear this variant depend on stealth and secrecy to accomplish their missions.
Power armour is maintained by skilled artificers, the most skilled of which are highly celebrated. Examples of their work, and of more ancient armour plating, are preserved with an almost religious fervour, for they carry both the history of the Chapter and the triumphs of those who have worn them.
Such pieces are lovingly preserved and engraved, worn across the centuries by high-ranking champions as relic battle-plate.
Tactical Dreadnought Armour, more commonly called Terminator Armour, turns an Astartes into a nigh-unstoppable force of destruction. These exceedingly rare suits of power armour are the superlative form of individual protection in Space Marine Armouries, and enable a battle-brother to unleash firepower rivalling that of most combat vehicles.
Developed during the final days of the Great Crusade, the Imperium has long since lost the technical knowledge required to manufacture these suits, and so every single one is a priceless artefact of the Imperium's lost golden age.
Terminator Armour is only deployed on the most dangerous missions and only to Astartes Veterans who have proven themselves worthy of wearing the Crux Terminatus: the icon found on the left shoulder of every suit of Terminator Armour. Each one of these honour badges is said to contain a fragment of the Emperor's own armour from His final battle with the Archtraitor Horus during the Siege of Terra.
This is the purported source of the suit's unbelievable resilience, enabling its wearer to endure the stresses of Warp teleportation, direct strikes by tank-killing weaponry and even -- in a few famous cases -- being physically trodden on by Battle Titans in full stride.
The majority of Space Marine Chapters possess a number of suits of precious Terminator Armour. Only ever issued to 1st Company Veterans and prominent headquarters officers, these relics are amongst the most valued and ancient items within the armouries of the Adeptus Astartes, with each suit turning its wearer into a veritable walking fortress.
Composed of layered ceramite and adamantium, Terminator Armour is threaded through with electromotivated fibre bundles and servo-assisted interfaces that link into the user's own neurological and muscular systems to enhance movement.
The armour can interface with a variety of exceptionally potent heavy armaments and its thick layers of protective alloys can deflect even the heaviest bombardments. Terminator Armour was developed for a mid-range of uses between a true cybernetic Dreadnought and standard power armour.
Due to its size, Terminator Armour is best deployed in close quarters such as the corridors of a starship, where the armour's standard-issue Storm Bolter can be most effective.
Artificer Armour is the name given to individualised and heavily modified suits of power armour provided only to Space Marines who have proven themselves worthy of the honour, such as company captains, members of the Chapter Master's Honour Guard, or particularly skilled Veterans of the 1st Company or the various company Command Squads.
Painstakingly cared for and customised for each esteemed bearer, Artificer Armour is the rarest form of power armour, even more so than Terminator Armour. The technology and superdense materials used to construct these suits is unparalleled inside the Imperium.
Each one is a masterwork of Artificer ingenuity and (outside of Techmarines labouring towards their own) is awarded only to true Chapter heroes.
Artificer Armour is always Master-Crafted. In addition to the effects of standard Astartes power armour, the advanced helmet incorporates a Mind Impulse Unit (MIU) similar to those used by the members of the Collegia Titanica to control their massive Titan war engines.
Some suits incorporate even more unusual features, such as automated fibre re-weaving, eliminating the need for repair cement to seal most breaches in the armour after combat.
Only countless hours of labour at the blazing Space Marine forges by a Chapter's Artificers or Techmarines gives rise to a suit of Artificer Armour.
It is said that Artificer Armour can almost provide the equivalent protection as Terminator Armour. Artificer Armour cannot, however, make use of weapons as powerful as those available to Terminators.
All Space Marine Chapters maintain a fleet of starships and other spacecraft, which by the dictates of the Codex Astartes and the limitations placed upon the Astartes by the High Lords of Terra during the Reformation of the Imperium after the Horus Heresy, is supposed to be focused on intra-system transports and planetary assault.
By tradition, only the Space Marines' smaller spacecraft are purposely designed to serve as gunships that are optimised for naval warfare and fleet actions. There are some Chapters that that have always railed against these restrictions, especially those that spend all of their time on crusade or who possess no homeworld or fortress-monastery save for their fleet.
These Chapters usually ignore these ancient restrictions and as a result often come into political conflict with the Imperial Navy, which fears seeing its monopoly on ship-to-ship combat eroded by the far more capable fleets of the Adeptus Astartes.
Rather than making use of very tightly-defined classes of starships like the Imperial Navy, most Chapters define their spacecraft by a far broader classification system that is defined by utility, with some of the few exceptions like the Imperial Fists' Phalanx being themselves ancient relics of the Great Crusade or unique Human-built warships left over from the Dark Age of Technology or captured as prizes from other species and converted to the Chapter's use.
The Battle Barge is the largest and most powerful type of Space Marine starship ever constructed by the Imperium of Man, and few but the most potent Chapters possess more than 2 or 3 of these extraordinarily powerful warships. Battle Barges are equivalent in size and firepower to Imperial Navy Battleships and were designed first and foremost for survivability under the heaviest forms of enemy fire -- a necessary trait when spearheading a planetary invasion, the Astartes' most common form of military operation requiring such a vessel.
Battle Barge designs back up this incredible durability with massive if usually short-range firepower to aid the Astartes in their assault operations, along with a substantial number of launch bays for Thunderhawks, other Attack Craft and Drop Pods. Because of the incredible durability of their armour and Void Shielding, as well as their massive arsenals of the Imperium's most powerful weapons, few known starships, save for full-scale Battleships, can stand up to a Battle Barge in close-action space combat. Thanks to the Space Marines aboard one, a Battle Barge is an even more terrifying opponent during a ship-to-ship boarding operation.
In addition to the Battle Barge, the Strike Cruiser is the most common type of heavy warship in Space Marine Chapter fleets. Strike Cruisers are high-speed rapid response cruisers, intended for use in planetary assault and pacification operations. Strike Cruisers are able to carry a company-sized strike force of Astartes to a combat zone and deploy them with preternatural rapidity.
The last common type of starship found in Space Marine fleets are rapid strike vessels. These warships are small, Warp-capable Escorts that include Attack Craft, Frigates and Destroyers which serve as both line-of-battle Escorts for capital ships and system patrol vessels as well as infiltration ships that can be used to deploy small groups of elite Astartes behind enemy lines for a reconnaissance in force or hit-and-run raiding missions.
In addition to these more common types of Space Marine warships, fleet-based Chapters often make use of a number of other support vessels such as scout-surveyors, Adeptus Mechanicus Forge Ships and the massive, mobile fortress-monasteries known as Chapter Barques (often created from converted mass-conveyors normally used by Imperial merchants for the mass hauling of cargo between star systems). Chapter Barques allow a fleet-based Chapter to avoid risking their precious stores of gene-seed and other irreplaceable artefacts and relics on the frontline of battle or crusade.
Fleet-based Chapters also make use of vessels called Vanguard Cruisers that are refitted Strike Cruisers intended to undertake long-range, long-duration operations independent of support from the rest of the Chapter, often serving as reconaissance or exploratory vessels for the Chapter fleet or as Heavy Escorts.
Vanguard Cruisers are less capable of undertaking planetary assaults like normal Strike Cruisers because their weapons profile has been optimised for ship-to-ship combat, planetary exploration, reconaissance and boarding operations.
The sacred artefacts of the Adeptus Astartes are items of incredible rarity. The following relics have belonged to different Space Marine Chapters across the galaxy at different times.
The armouries of the Adeptus Astartes include many wondrous relics, from master-crafted weapons to armour and heraldry blessed by the spirit of the Emperor.
Many of these artefacts were once wielded by the greatest champions of the Chapter, warriors of legend whose mighty deeds echo through history.
Each Chapter will possess only one of the following relics at a time, for they are unique items, the only one of their kind in all the galaxy.
- The Burning Blade - This ancient broadsword is so large and dense that only a Space Marine could lift it, let alone wield it in battle. It was recovered from the wreckage of Horus' Battle Barge, the only unblemished artefact in a chamber crawling with the filthy taint of Chaos. Some Artificers have posited that it was wielded by the Emperor Himself, and that it is the Master of Mankind's greatness that shines out from its sacred steel. That the blade has a mighty origin is beyond doubt. In the heat of battle, the sword blazes so bright that it can melt even the ceramite armour of the battle-brother who wields it. Nonetheless, the sacred artefact still sees regular use; even mortal danger cannot stay the wrath of the Space Marines for long, and the damage its wielder can wreak on the foe is beyond compare.
- The Armour Indomitus - The Armour Indomitus is an ancient suit of Artificer Armour forged long before the Horus Heresy. Those Masters of the Forge who have completed a pilgrimage in order to study it first-hand maintain that this battle plate has provided the blueprint for each model of power armour since its inception during the Unification Wars, and that its in-built Machine Spirit (Artificial Intelligence) is so complex that it must be blessed every morning and every evening to ensure the suit maintains peak performance. Unlike the plasteel and ceramite of modern power armour, the Armour Indomitus is made from layered plates of raw adamantium, making it extremely heavy but all but unbreachable by conventional weaponry. In the face of even heavier fire, it also incorporates a shimmering force field, the secrets of which have long been lost to modern artificers.
- The Shield Eternal - The Shield Eternal is believed to have been a gift from Rogal Dorn to his seneschal during the dark days of the Horus Heresy. This magnificently-worked Storm Shield is a bulwark against which all the wrath of a hateful galaxy can crash. Its warding powers turn aside the maleficent attentions of the witch and the daemon, safeguarding its wearer from mortal blows and perfidious Warp-craft alike.
- The Primarch's Wrath - The ancient bolter known as the Primarch's Wrath is believed to have come from the personal weapons collection of Roboute Guilliman and has dispensed thunderous death to the foes of Mankind for millennia. Chased in Theldrite moonsilver and inscribed in microscopic lettering with every treatise on tactics that Guilliman ever penned, this weapon's quality is such that it allows its wielder to sweep away great swathes of the enemy with a storm of lethal fragmenting bolts.
- Teeth of Terra - The origins of the Teeth of Terra lie shrouded in mystery. Mentions of this large, obsidian-toothed Chainsword can be found dotted throughout the histories of many Space Marine Chapters, yet the weapon itself can be traced to no artisan's hand, nor be found in any Chapter's armoury, save in times of the greatest need. What is certain is that, when wielded in battle by a true hero of the Imperium, the Teeth of Terra strikes with the force of a thunderbolt. The more formidable the odds its wielder faces, the louder the blade's engines growl in its hunger to lay low the foes of Mankind.
- Standard of the Emperor Ascendant - Woven from threads of spun adamantium in the early days of the Unification of Terra, this banner was carried at the head of the Emperor's personal guard. It is said that its constant proximity to the Master of Mankind has imbued within it indelible traces of His incredibly potent psychic signature. Whatever the truth of this, its presence is a constant inspiration to those loyal to the Emperor's cause, instilling within them vigour, valour and determination even as their foes quail in its presence.
- Purgatorus - This Bolt Pistol is a true work of the artificer's art. Since its forging in the 35th Millennium, many battle-brothers have used the pistol to purge Traitors, tyrants and Heretics from the Emperor's realm. The weapon's machine spirit is wrathful, its aim inescapable; in many ways, Purgatorus epitomises the very warriors who wield it.
- Reliquary of Gathalamor - By the time the Indomitus Crusade reached the world of Gathalamor, the daemon hordes had already carved a bloody path across much of the planet. Its final defence was led by the stoic Oblivion Knight Centura of the Sisters of Silence, Ordela Grendoth, whose powerful psychic null-field was anathema to the Warp creatures that assailed the world. Gathalamor was liberated by Roboute Guilliman, but Grendoth was slain in the climactic battle. Afterwards, her bones were placed inside a reliquary that now possesses a fraction of her anti-psychic power.
- Bellicos Bolt Rifle - The Forge World of Bellicos was a closely guarded secret, a hidden weapons-testing facility given dispensation to practise near-heretical levels of technological innovation. Before it was swallowed by the Great Rift, the planet managed to dispatch a single cargo hauler containing prototype Bolt Rifles of an incredibly advanced pattern. These weapons are regarded with a near-religious reverence for their bellicose lethality, and to wield one is considered a paramount honour.
- Lament - Dark rumours abound that this master-crafted Stalker Bolt Rifle is so cruel of essence that those who wield it doom themselves as surely as those who fall under their sights. It is telling of the Space Marines' selfless courage that they utilise the weapon regardless.
- Ghostweave Cloak - Hand-stitched by blinded arming Servitors and anointed with the distilled blood of a thousand sentries who failed at their posts, this Camo Cloak contains strands of mnemothread spun from a thrice-blessed dataloom imbued with obfuscatory data-spirits. It throws up a hazy field of techno-spiritual dissonance that veils its wearer from both physical sight and enemy sensors, allowing them to slip across the battlefield like a wraith.
- Tome of Malcador - Malcador the Sigillite was the trusted aide of the Emperor Himself. The most potent Human psyker of the time, the tome he penned on the nature of reality enhances the mind of the reader and is used by Space Marine Librarians to enhance their abilities.
- Benediction of Fury - Borne on a dozen bloody and hard-fought crusades, this Crozius Arcanum's unique empathokinetic circuitry has absorbed the bellicosity and righteous wrath of every Chaplain who has ever wielded it. As a result it now strikes with the force of a thunderbolt.
- The Honour Vehement - A single stanza of script, the original of which was said to have been penned by the Emperor Himself, the Honour Vehement is typically inscribed on thrice-blessed parchment and affixed with a Purity Seal upon its bearer's armour. So potent is the inspirational value of the Emperor's own evocation of wrath that not only those who bear it, but all their battle-brothers alongside them, are driven into a relentless killing fury.
- The Vox Espiritum - Developed by Archmagos Belisarius Cawl in his laboratories beneath Mars, the Vox Espiritum is a powerful neural amplifier that causes its wearer's voxed utterances to resonate on a modulated and heavily warded empyric frequency. Though still highly experimental and not altogether safe, it allows its user to project their bellowed commands -- and sometimes even unspoken mental imperatives -- directly into the minds of friend and foe alike.
Forces of the Space Marines
|Primaris Space Marine Forces|
|Command||Primaris Captain • Primaris Lieutenant • Vanguard Lieutenant • Primaris Ancient|
|Specialists||Primaris Apothecary (Helix Adept) • Primaris Librarian • Vanguard Librarian • Primaris Chaplain|
|Battleline||Intercessor • Vanguard Infiltrator|
|Close Support||Inceptor • Reiver • Incursor|
|Fire Support||Hellblaster • Aggressor • Vanguard Eliminator • Vanguard Suppressor|
|Combat Walkers and Vehicles||Astraeus • Redemptor Dreadnought • Repulsor • Repulsor Executioner • Impulsor • Invictor Tactical Warsuit|
- Adeptus Astartes Aviation
- Chaos Space Marines
- Codex Astartes
- Emperor of Mankind
- List of Space Marine Chapters
- Primarch Project
- Primaris Space Marines
- Second Founding
- Space Marine Chapter Homeworld
- Space Marine Legion
- Avenging Son (Novel) by Guy Haley
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 10-11, 14, 16-17, 18-19, 62, 130-187
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pg. 9
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 8, 30-41
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 12-13, 48-53
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 5-13
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 46
- Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition) by Rick Priestley and Andy Chambers, pg. 16
- Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition) (Revised Codex), pp. 6-21, 184-185
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "The Forging of Heroes," "Chapter Organisation," "Codex Astartes", "The Chronicle of Heroes", "Forces of the Space Marines"
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 3-18, 76-127
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 23, 51-95, 84-94
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 4, 10-11
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), pg. 48
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 56
- Codex Ultramarines (2nd Edition) by Rick Priestley
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley, Chs. 6, 7, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20
- Death from the Skies (7th Edition), pp. 8-11
- Deathwatch Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 11-20
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pg. 139
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 9-12
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 303
- The Art of Warhammer 40,000
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pp. 26-27, 31-32
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse, pp. 112-113
- Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (1st Edition), "Chapter Approved: The Origins of the Legiones Astartes," by Rick Priestley, pp. 6-10
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 133, 153
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), pp. 40-41, 61-63
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 234
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
- White Dwarf 12 (August 2017), "The Birth of Angels"
- White Dwarf 403 (July 2013) (US), "Warhammer 40,00 Apocalypse"
- White Dwarf 98 (1988), "Chapter Approved: The Origin of the Legiones Astartes" by Rick Priestley
- Warhammer Community - A New Breed of Hero
- Warhammer Community - Primaris Space Marines: FAQ.
- Warhammer Community - New Warhammer 40,000: The Indomitus Crusade & the Dark Imperium