View Full Version : Marine biological Ret-con, how would you change them?

19-07-2010, 19:11
The Marine weight thread got me thinking, Kage And Philip S provide strong arguments for two directions in how Marines come about and function.

In my opinion, I kind of like the oversized behemoths G.W portrays them as.
Although even I realise they are probably unlikely to work in real life.
Theres just something about a 7/8foot monster bearing down on me, with a grizzled human face that screams COOL.

But Kages and Philips, and everyones else's comments planted a seed of doubt, that I can't quite explain. But has led me to think alot about the subject.

How would you, change the Marine making process.
Keeping the basic, taken as a child, extra heart and lungs added. Brain being meddled with, but changing the size, armour and function?

Would you go with a normal sized human, with armour making them appear bigger?

Or oversized humans with non oversized armour?

Go crazy, share and explain your ideas.

19-07-2010, 19:20
I personally wouldn't change anything. ;)

I don't see why anyone would have a reason to change them. Unless it's for the better of course, then it would be good, but for the worse? Heresy!

19-07-2010, 19:22
I'd make them elite soldiers given power armor and cut out the whole size/biology angle out entirely.

Being big causes a lot of problems, both in life and on the battlefield. For example, transports need to be bigger to fit huge troops, which means more real estate to shoot at.

19-07-2010, 19:40
I like my Marines Big - 'brick' superhero Big.

Here, for instance, we see an unarmoured Marine battle a similarly naked Chaos Marine:-


(well, maybe a Marine isn't quite that big, or that green, but thats the kind of musculature I'm looking for)

19-07-2010, 19:41
Well, I would not really change much. I like Rogue Trader era (80's) Marines. They were big guys (like 6' to 7' big) and massively muscled. Thats okay for me. They are not really humans anymore after all. With that kind of size and some 120 lbs of ceramite power armor they are appropriately big to look menacing to any normal human anywhere in the Imperium. They are still small enough to not be a problem to themselves and to handle weapons made for "normal humans".

Its this later times "8'+ cyborgs in Appleseed Landmates" image that I find a bit ridiculous.

19-07-2010, 19:47
I'd change them a little. 7 feet tall is big enough (I knew a 7-foot gigantism sufferer and he dwarfed everyone else, despite being rail-thin) when you factor in the increased girth a Marine should have. It's also not going to seriously cramp their style in regards to boarding actions or hive troubles.

I'd remove a few of the more esoteric upgrades - acid spit is frankly unnecessary, memory-eating is just ridiculous (especially when 90% of the time you just remember a bunch of stuff a cow did) - and change them to things useful on the battlefield, whereas as it is most of them are only useful if they get captured. A Space Marine shouldn't be counting on being captured - it would be absolutely exceptional for them to surrender, or be subdued long enough to knock them out. A neuroglottis, for example, massively increases their sense of taste. Useful for a Chefmarine, but significantly less useful than, say, an organic HUD analogue, or a psychological failsafe button that allows a Marine to self-terminate.

cain the betrayer
19-07-2010, 21:12
i would give them a abilety to repreduce
emperors children here i come:)

Overlord Krycis
19-07-2010, 21:24
I'd remove/re-work some of the more silly organs...betcher gland being one...into something more useful/sneaky and to re-work the actual wording for the re-enforced rib cage: make it overlapping bone plates rather than fused (seriously, do we want the marine to suffocate? lol) among some other re-wordimg/working.
As for size...I think 7 feet should be the average height of marines without armour, probably just over with power armour with them very rarely reaching 7.5 feet other than in exceptional cases.

I like my Marines Big - 'brick' superhero Big.

Here, for instance, we see an unarmoured Marine battle an similarly naked Chaos Marine:-


(well, maybe a Marine isn't quite that big, or that green, but thats the kind of musculature I'm looking for)

I love that fight scene...incidently, these are the sizes I would imagine Primarchs being close to.

Lord Malice
19-07-2010, 22:42
I would make it clear that space marine implants only develop properly if the recipient has a healthy, fully functioning SRY gene, basically to be as a biologically correct as possible and thus remove the unnecessary 'why aren't their females space marines?' arguments.

I would make it so that the increase in stature is roughly 20-25% again of what the recipient would have been naturally so an average five feet nine inch tall man would be near to seven feet or up to seven and a half feet for example with the general trend being towards a 20% increase.

I wouldn't really scrap or change the function of any of the implants but I might add some background to explain how these implants came to exist or why they seemed useful in the first place.

I would also improve the efficiency of Space Marines Power Armour to reduce its size and potential weight; it would still be too heavy to walk around unpowered but it wouldn't be that heavy. I would also make it clear the advanced systems require the Black Carapace to remove any doubt and show that only Space Marines can use Space Marine Power Armour; others may wear it if they can fit in it but since they lack the Black Carapace will not be able to connect to the armour and thus not benefit from it and will struggle to get around as the armour wil not be able to respond to their movements and therefore compensate for its weight.

19-07-2010, 23:57
I love that fight scene...incidently, these are the sizes I would imagine Primarchs being close to.

I agree - this fight, to me, represents a Primarch fighting an Ork Warboss, or possibly a Daemon Prince (not all of them are as big as An'ggrath).

20-07-2010, 07:58
Seven-foot men of somewhat-high musculature, still thin enough to fit in armor crammed with bulky and advanced systems.
If I could redesign them across the board: more mysticism, more ritualized, less tactical. The 'we can eat brains to get memories' thing would be the starting point. Their bio-enhancements should seem magical or impossible to us because that's how they'd appear to a 41st millennium citizen.

Brother Luctus
20-07-2010, 10:03
Although even I realise they are probably unlikely to work in real life.

Every time I see a statement as this one I canít refrain myself from not pointing that Iíve got a problem with it. :eyebrows:
I meanÖ in real life. Thatís gotta be the present real life. Thatís gotta be the knowledge that this real life has given us thus far. But how about the knowledge future life will give us? ĎCose itís a future life (granted, imagined) that offer us the Astartes.
Iíd say that, the way SMs are portrayed by GW is absolutely possible. Just not for todayís real life, that is.

On the topic: I wouldnít change anything about them. :)

Philip S
20-07-2010, 11:15
To get to the core of the transformation process I would first define the type of candidate the marines would except.

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

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

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

I remember reading somewhere, not sure where, that due to their physiques that the Catachan Jungle Fighters where called 'baby ogryn' (Lexicanum (http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Catachan_Jungle_Fighters#Organizatio)). These humans, the Catachan, are massive but they are not classed as 'Ogryn'. So it seems regular humans can be pretty large in 40K, far larger naturally that humans in our modern world (as in a whole population rather than a few).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PS: Be thankful I don't write for GW!

20-07-2010, 13:34
I'd make them higher-maintenance. I like the idea that the crazily distorted cocktail of genetic and biochemical modifications needs constant monitoring and fairly regular, if usually minor, adjustment so as not to gradually go out of balance with horrifying results. Some of that the Marine's metabolism takes care of automatically, some of it he can do consciously, some he can do himself with the aid of tools and supports in his armour, but a lot of it is done by external specialists - that's one of the Apothecary's jobs during protracted operations.

So instead of these stories where Astartes are keeping no company but their own for long periods, you've got a much more crowded and bustling scene on the battle barge with very large numbers of support staff and equipment. The Astartes become like formula-1 cars: state of the art and incredibly powerful, but intensively tended by a sizeable pit crew as soon as they're finished doing their thing.

It's a fair bit of a shift away from Astartes as they're conceptualised now, but I like the way it gives them an Achilles' heel which grows naturally out of their existing concept and advantages.

20-07-2010, 15:36
nothing works in "real life" not even reality

20-07-2010, 17:29
I quite like the 'High Maintaince Marine' idea too, but it would put a need of retcon on the stories of squads operating behind enemy lines for years at a time.
They had an apocathercary and chest to help them. done.

The marine's are well designed as minitures - they need to keep their stature (it's science fantasy after all) and oversized paldrons and greaves.

Personally, I'd shift all of the maintainence and systems of the suit into these sections, and either do away or minimise the backpack all together.
Have a secondary, emergency head shield built into the collar (it slides up and over when the primary helmet is a damaged liability.

I quite like the silly organs, except the memory one. They don't affect the game but do give some nice plot hooks.

Castrate the buggers though. Or at least hint at it.

21-07-2010, 18:24
I wouldn’t change anything about them.

21-07-2010, 19:53
H'okay, I'll be brief. My own interpretation of Marines merely works around the principle that they were human... once. Despite the superscience/magic shtick that people normally end on hyping up, this normally places certain "reasonable" (to my own definition of such) limitations on where you end up going with the physiology. Thus, for me, Marines might be enhanced--bulkier, taller, stronger--than the average human, since that's what the 'fluff' indicates, but it also means that I don't judge everything by the extremes of human experience to model their abilities. This tends to make them smaller, less broad, etc.

It also means that you can tweak some of the interpretations of the zygotes. Many people see "second heart" and go "ZOMG! They must be twice as fit/resistant to damage/whatever!" I go, "Extra organs, mass, practical gigantism... Damned, if they didn't have that extra heart they'd be up the creek without a paddle." Or, super-coagulating blood makes you wonder about the chance of thrombosis and whether Marines should have a "dependency" on anti-coagulants that, when coupled with their delicate biochemical make-up, makes them slightly more dependent on logistics. Well, perhaps slightly more than the idea the the Marine goes into the field and survives for 10,000 years by peeing into his suit and munching on meteorites.

That and the idea that Marines are basically the strategic Swiss Army Knife/Leatherman/whatever your pill of choice is for combi-tools.

So, yeah, a bit more super-SOLDIER than SUPER-soldier. More information on the armour (the symbiosis of armour to the individual, but not in the "third lung is attached to the life support system" ala Phil's ideas)... That sort of thing.


21-07-2010, 22:16
I'm all about the supers. Specifically:- Muscle Mass. The more the better.


And that isn't just human muscle, it's cables of surgically implanted vat grown hypermuscle over an adamantium skeleton.

(Which leads me on to the Naked Marine Game - post your doodles of a naked Space Marine!)

21-07-2010, 23:31
I don't want to see no space marine doodles.

Leave 'em as is.

Nothing in 40k makes sense. It's meant to be that way. It's the SF equivalent of "LOST" - part of the "we made it up as we went along" school.

Not everything has to have a boring regimented controlled blueprint. Sometimes free-form and chaotic IS better.

21-07-2010, 23:36
And sometimes it isn't. Such is the way of preference. The "answer," such as it is or exists, probably lies somewhere in the middle. :D


Son of Sanguinius
22-07-2010, 00:09
Not everything has to have a boring regimented controlled blueprint. Sometimes free-form and chaotic IS better.

Totally agree, but that is why Chaos exists in the setting, no?

And boring, regimented, and controlled manner is perhaps the most efficient way to combat the negatives of introducing chaos.

22-07-2010, 00:21
Add Chick Marines - I like the fightingtigersofveda.com chick marines

Wednesday Friday Addams
22-07-2010, 00:26
I read the thread thinking this was about the study of underwater life.

22-07-2010, 00:31
Loving how this discussion is going.

Really like the idea of them being high maintenance. Suits them well, Just as the armor needs to be looked after constantly, so do the actual Marines. Constantly checking the hormone balance, checking chemicals and organ stability.

As for their actual mass, I had always pictured it to be more like a rugby player, strong upper body, strong thigh muscles. More for out and out power bursts then sprinting and endurance. Nothing oversized, maybe 175/200kg for an average marine. 250kg tops. 7ft height wise. With the armour making them 7ft 5inches tops.

I see this working as more of an extreme muscle stimulation. Via therapy, bones being made denser via injections, DNA/genes being messed with, to enhance growth. This all explaining the needing to be constantly checked, as its something I see having to happen constantly. Not being a one off injection and then at maturity they become a Marine.


22-07-2010, 01:21
Really like the idea of them being high maintenance.
Well the fans are so it would certainly be appropriate. :D



22-07-2010, 10:46
Hur hur.

female marines would be a nice touch, as long as the background is very clear about not being able to tell until they take their helmet off.

and much like the sisters of battle, they should get older and uglier as you go up the ranks

Philip S
22-07-2010, 13:38
Add Chick Marines - I like the fightingtigersofveda.com chick marines
We already have female marines - the Sisters of Battle.

Back in the days of RT (Rogue Trader) the Sisters has the same armour as the marines (slightly smaller shoulder pads), and were arranged in much the same way as the marines (chapters).

I think the real question is why GW hobbled the Sisters? I would like to see a retcon where a new type of Sister with heavy 'marine like' armour and perhaps a few augments, or holy faith (psi) powers to readdresses the balance shows up. Perhaps call them 'marine hunters' or 'huntresses', and they are used when purging chapters (as it's their job!)