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Dark_Kindred
22-03-2013, 00:11
Continuing on the apparently controversial topic of Space Marine creation, I would like to discuss why chapters have such a brutal, inefficient, and ultimately wasteful recruitment system. Specifically, the development of Astartes grade recruits is a random process that inherently has a high attrition rate that may not even produce the "best" soldiers possible. The genetic component is completely random and almost no effort is made to create a larger, more sustainable, and better applicant pool. Further, the test used to determine the "best" candidates are often poor indicators of actual competence. Some chapters rely on gladiatorial contests of skill--which are clearly limited because there are few sample battles against which to measure the ability of a candidate. I also find environmental determinism as an explanation of competency to be a clear reference to Dune (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(novel)), which probably is not the best idea because Frank Herbert's process would not actually create "good soldiers."

I understand a lot of this has to do with Warhammer 40,000's "rule of cool" mentality but it also strikes me as horribly barbaric, especially for a game that is openly targeted toward adolescents. Let me ask this: Why is it that Space Marine chapters do not practice eugenics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics)? Such a regime would largely eliminate the need for large scale contests of strength and would not be incompatible with Games Workshop's environmental determinism approach. One might argue that it would still meet the "rule of cool" requirement without being as wasteful and barbaric. A chapter would still be better able to meet its requirements provided that enough gene-seed was available and could probably put together better auxiliary forces.

As far as I can tell, there are only three reasons a chapter might not do this.
(1) They are a space bound chapter.
(2) It is unnecessary because there are many humans readily available.
(3) It goes against the ethos of the Imperium and the desires of the Emperor.

Point one cannot be refuted if a chapter is nomadic,i.e., like the Carcharodons (http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Carcharodons#.UUufrBy7KAg).

I find point two unconvincing because feral worlds by definition must have low populations because they do not have access to advanced agriculture, medical technologies, and tend to be nomadic. Moreover, the implication is that Space Marines Chapters are too lazy to run a program that only needs one apothecary and a large non-astartes staff to implement. Also, Astartes generally do not strike me as wasteful...which these policies really are.

Point three is the most compelling explanation but I find it flawed. The Imperium clearly practices eugenics to stall mutation. One might argue that Space Marine chapters also indulge in a crude sort of eugenics policy already by deliberately keeping feral worlds backward and "washing their hands" of any such accusation by saying its natural selection.

So, are there any takers?

Tastyfish
22-03-2013, 00:54
Depends at which point the marines get involved, there's a high failure rate because it's a very complicated process and as the earlier 40K books stress - at this point humanity's genome is an utter mess. You've got 30,000 years of poor radiation shielding, weird suns, exposure to atmospheric mutagenic pollutants and the rest that'll end up in the food chain (current day Earth is starting to get a bit concerned with this, and that's before we start getting into rogue hormones and other epigentic things. Intentional genomic modification of whole colonies, underhive genehacks, genetic plagues and natural genetic drift given the difficulty in travel for people during the Age of Strife and the Age of Imperium.

If that's not enough, we've then got alien retroviruses, genestealer infestations and warp exposure. Rogue Trader made it very clear the cusp of evolving into a new psychic form or descending into something akin to spawndom on a grand scale.
There's a reason abhumans are referred to as stable mutations.

On top of that, Geneseed has been effectively inbred for 10,000 years with very little that can be done to fix any errors, especially given the high demand.

The Imperium has nothing against cloning (http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Death_Korps_of_Krieg#.UUupPBzIbNc), its more a case that the implantation process is the limiting factor - doesn't matter how many candidates you can get, if you can only implant a hundred or so a year and those will give you 50% marines at best.

Ultramar seems to have something vaguely set in place, as do many homeworlds - those families that produce marine candidates are afforded great honours, effectively selecting for those who carry genes favourable for producing marine candidates. Gametes from the parents of a marine are probably highly prized, and might not even be restricted to the black market. Also, the harsher the environment, the more significant the incentive to have marine favourable genes. A small population (few million), who's leaders are chosen from those who's sons have become marines is probably enough to produce a population that has above average implantation rates as well as imparting the recruits with the right sort of killer instinct.

So in short, they probably do but they're not very sure on what they're after and are loathe to mess with things that could influence the most important stages - it's fine to push the population to create a particularly vicious guard unit, but if you've knocked down your implantation sucess rate by even a small percent it's kind of a self defeating effort.

Really in short - it's not applicants that are the problem

Sotek
22-03-2013, 00:57
They do practice eugenics - they're called the trials! Only the hardest of the toughest of the jack bauer-est of all aspirants even get to become neophytes and even then they may not survive the surgery and conditioning.

Also keep in mind that the geneseed does not replace the marines DNA per-se, it just expresses the proteins and genes required for the marine to be a marine and the biochemicals required to make the implants and extra organs work.

ForgottenLore
22-03-2013, 01:15
I am not really qualified to comment extensively on this, but I just wanted to add


I also find environmental determinism as an explanation of competency to be a clear reference to Dune (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_%28novel%29), which probably is not the best idea because Frank Herbert's process would not actually create "good soldiers."
But the Enviromental Determinism is not meant to create good soldiers, it is meant to create very tough, resilient individuals, both physically and mentally. Everything that happens during and after implantation makes them soldiers.

Many chapters probably can't be bothered, and/or don't understand what is needed. Like tastyfish alluded to, the Imperium is very much of the attitude "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Making improvements and/or innovations in anything is almost anathema to the Imperium.

Finally, what makes you think they don't? I am not aware of much information on the cultures and administration of Space Marine home worlds. What makes you think that there aren't traditions in place to try and encourage the proliferation of desired traits?

Lupe
22-03-2013, 01:29
Actually, I'm gonna leave the Rule of Cool aside, and apply actual logic (insofar as possible at 3 AM) to explain the problems of eugenics.

The main problem with using eugenics is that it only ensures potential recruits are born with a bit of a head start. Eugenics doesn't supply resourcefulness, determination, survival mechanisms, killer instincts, intuition or a set of individual experiences that could yield lessons relevant to future problems. What's more, no surrogate for any of these factors is available in a controlled environment. So, a chapter wouldn't be doing itself any favors by breeding stronger boys, in a controlled environment, because they'd all share similar life experiences, and lack the proper mindset to become the very best killing machines they could.

Then there's another snag. Selective breeding doesn't provide that big a difference in a recruit's strength / toughness as you imagine in the short run. It takes maybe dozens of generations to truly get a significant enough advance in the quality of the population's genepool. And that's only achieved if the strongest / fittest specimens pass on their genes to a new generation. Here's the problem. The strongest and fittest specimens would be selected to become Marines. Once you're a marine, you can't reproduce anymore. You can't reproduce before you become a marine either, since you need to be pre-pubescent in order for all the implants to stick. What that leaves us with is the less capable (relative to their generation, not to the species) specimens to pass on their genes to the next generation.

Even assuming these things weren't an issue, in order for eugenics to work, you would need to house, feed and protect a very large initial population of individuals possessing the traits desired for your future recruits. Not exactly the kind of baggage a fleet based chapter wants to carry around during a crusade or raid, really...

Captain VJ Dax
22-03-2013, 01:41
As I understand it, the entire reason that the practices are rather cruel or barbaric is rather similar to the Ork philosophy.
They want physical champions, so taking the strongest and more cunning warriors from a group is ideal to get individuals with a step towards their goal.
They do not use clean and sterile medical equipment [at least the blood ravens and i can only assume chapters like them] because they want to see if the aspirant will live, if they don't then obviously their immune system would be far too weak even for a space marine.
Almost every opportunity is afforded, for lack of a better explanation, to weed out the weaklings.

I have to go through my other books to find other helpful material, sorry there's so little.

Lothlanathorian
22-03-2013, 04:07
Side note: The Imperium has a lot against cloning. The DKoK are not clones and no where in the official fluff does it say so. Also, Lexicanum is, categorically, not a reputable source of any information.

Gorbad Ironclaw
22-03-2013, 06:41
Sarcastic reply: because like anything else with space marines it doesn't make any sense and couldn't actually work. But then the whole selection process have been crippled by the concept that they need to get them in their early teens. That's not a very good foundation for picking aspirants on, you just don't know enough about how they will actually develop.

In-game reply: because prepubescent killers makes totally awesome soldiers and are in procession of the best survival and fighting instincts in the galaxy and will totally own once you have completely altered their mind and body to be something completely different.

Okay, so maybe the second answer is sort of sarcastic too. There really isn't a very good reason to have it like this. But Space Marine recruitment is trapped between rule of cool, no interest in a believable/sustainable model and ancient practices introduced because of rule of cool.
You could certainly design more effective recruitment process, but you could also make actual usable Space Marine forces by letting them have a usable number of soldiers, so maybe the real answer is that the High Lords don't want the Space Marines to work very well at all?

theJ
22-03-2013, 06:49
Why would genetics matter?
Genetics you get for free with the gene-seed. That's kinda its purpose.
What you're after is instincts - the perfect recruit is someone who knows how to fight, when to fight, and isn't too distracted with non-combat matters.
The standard trial system set up works great for this. It's not strictly speaking about choosing the strongest "champion" in the trials - its about having a slew of recruits who've already spent their lives focusing on martial matters, leaving other concerns(societal power, family, love, etc.) behind, while also giving them a "fighting spirit", a sense for when to fight and when to flight, and just about every dirty trick in the book.

Dark_Kindred
23-03-2013, 01:01
So in short, they probably do but they're not very sure on what they're after and are loathe to mess with things that could influence the most important stages - it's fine to push the population to create a particularly vicious guard unit, but if you've knocked down your implantation sucess rate by even a small percent it's kind of a self defeating effort.

Really in short - it's not applicants that are the problem
This. The problem is that people are trying to have it both ways--either there are so many people that would make the cut for Space Marinedom that any sort of intervention is irrelevant or that you do not want to mess with the base population for fear of reducing the implantation success rate.


They do practice eugenics - they're called the trials! Only the hardest of the toughest of the jack bauer-est of all aspirants even get to become neophytes and even then they may not survive the surgery and conditioning.
I understand the sarcasm/playfulness here but that is not what eugenics is. The trials might not even be a good screening process because you would need to conduct dozens or even hundreds of trials to be able to determine any statistically and pratically significant difference between the individuals. ** Sarcasm On** Obviously, the gladiator contests should be conducted with blunted swords hundreds of times.


But the Enviromental Determinism is not meant to create good soldiers, it is meant to create very tough, resilient individuals, both physically and mentally. Everything that happens during and after implantation makes them soldiers.

Strictly speaking their training makes them good soldiers, not their implants and extra organs. Both the environment and the physical augmentation make individuals predisposed to be good soldiers. In that sense, we are both incorrect.


The main problem with using eugenics is that it only ensures potential recruits are born with a bit of a head start. Eugenics doesn't supply resourcefulness, determination, survival mechanisms, killer instincts, intuition or a set of individual experiences that could yield lessons relevant to future problems. What's more, no surrogate for any of these factors is available in a controlled environment. So, a chapter wouldn't be doing itself any favors by breeding stronger boys, in a controlled environment, because they'd all share similar life experiences, and lack the proper mindset to become the very best killing machines they could.

Then there's another snag. Selective breeding doesn't provide that big a difference in a recruit's strength / toughness as you imagine in the short run. It takes maybe dozens of generations to truly get a significant enough advance in the quality of the population's genepool. And that's only achieved if the strongest / fittest specimens pass on their genes to a new generation. Here's the problem. The strongest and fittest specimens would be selected to become Marines. Once you're a marine, you can't reproduce anymore. You can't reproduce before you become a marine either, since you need to be pre-pubescent in order for all the implants to stick. What that leaves us with is the less capable (relative to their generation, not to the species) specimens to pass on their genes to the next generation.

Even assuming these things weren't an issue, in order for eugenics to work, you would need to house, feed and protect a very large initial population of individuals possessing the traits desired for your future recruits. Not exactly the kind of baggage a fleet based chapter wants to carry around during a crusade or raid, really.
I am familiar with the concept of nature versus nurture and am aware that the two feedback into each other. The thing is, these super soldiers are not exactly operating short run programs....some have been around for ten thousand years. A few generations is a hardly significant, especially if mothers start birthing in their mid teens. They have relied on nature to force adaptation when they could have simply accelerated the process. You also do not need the Space Marines themselves to breed, merely have a bloodline. Also, you could probably collect sperm and eggs and simply implant them into a mother so you do not need a large population. Keep in mind that I explicitly stated that such a regime would be impractical for space bound chapters.


They do not use clean and sterile medical equipment [at least the blood ravens and i can only assume chapters like them] because they want to see if the aspirant will live, if they don't then obviously their immune system would be far too weak even for a space marine.
Almost every opportunity is afforded, for lack of a better explanation, to weed out the weaklings.

You do not need an especially clean laboratory process to do this. Whip up a baby cocktail, throw it in someone, and see what happens.


You could certainly design more effective recruitment process, but you could also make actual usable Space Marine forces by letting them have a usable number of soldiers, so maybe the real answer is that the High Lords don't want the Space Marines to work very well at all?
Space Marines are sovereign so gene-seed is a problem. But having good auxiliary forces and a high success rate would seem to be their best bet. It's not like chapter fleets and logistics aren't absurd or anything.

Surgency
23-03-2013, 05:44
Continuing on the apparently controversial topic of Space Marine creation, I would like to discuss why chapters have such a brutal, inefficient, and ultimately wasteful recruitment system.

I just want to point out that absolutely everything about the Imperium is brutal, inefficient, and ultimately wasteful... 10,000 years of technological, societal, and economic stagnation tends to do that :p

It really only makes sense that an inefficient Imperium breeds inefficiency even in its super-soldiers.

Tastyfish
23-03-2013, 12:53
Side note: The Imperium has a lot against cloning. The DKoK are not clones and no where in the official fluff does it say so. Also, Lexicanum is, categorically, not a reputable source of any information.

The Imperium's attitude is largely pragmatic when it comes to cloning, a lot of servitors are cloned and the Marine chapters use clones in order to accelerate the growth of geneseed. The Afrael strain project wouldn't have been possible without cloning either - it's just generally if you want more people it's quicker and easier to just make them the old fashioned way.


I just want to point out that absolutely everything about the Imperium is brutal, inefficient, and ultimately wasteful... 10,000 years of technological, societal, and economic stagnation tends to do that :p

It really only makes sense that an inefficient Imperium breeds inefficiency even in its super-soldiers.
Depends what the Imperium is trying to achieve, it's very inefficient if it's end goal was the production of X number of starships or marines, but the Imperium makes a lot more sense when you assume that everything it is doing is tightly designed to keep humanity alive - and it does so by making human lives a cheap but necessary resource, creating incentives across the Imperium to maximise the number of humans.

Aluinn
24-03-2013, 02:02
I understand a lot of this has to do with Warhammer 40,000's "rule of cool" mentality but it also strikes me as horribly barbaric, especially for a game that is openly targeted toward adolescents. Let me ask this: Why is it that Space Marine chapters do not practice eugenics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics)?

While others have pointed out the in-universe reasons (Space Marines are barbaric and inefficient to begin with, basically, and they, maybe even more than most Imperial institutions, are guided by tradition as much as anything else), the reason why eugenics wouldn't be included in the fluff for a game aimed at adolescents can be found in your link; specifically, it has generally resulted, whenever practiced, in horribleness that amounts to the worst sort of "barbarism" masquerading behind a friendly name, a pseudoscientific lexicon, and a labcoat.

Even if the traits that you're trying to select for are determined by something more sound than phrenology, craniometry, or blatant racism, the means are almost always terribly inhumane. It is possible that they could be made more humane by scientific developments and eliminating the cruel practices that have typically attended eugenics programs (e.g. if we could determine, based on tests on prospective parents, whether pregnancies were likely to produce genetic defects before they happened, and simply warn them of that as opposed to forcibly sterilizing them), but for one thing there's an argument to be made that that would actually be inefficient re. a society's expenditure of resources anyway, and at any rate it's not something I could see happening in the Imperium, or being orchestrated by Marines. Based on everything we know about them, they'd likely do it in the worst way.

Idomeneus
25-03-2013, 12:07
As far as I can see, the main reason to maintain an inefficient recruitment program is so that the chapter does not greatly exceed 1000 men. The Astral Claws got into deep trouble for exceeding 1000 men, they were keeping all their geneseed rather than sending a tithe to the high lords. Also in Rynns World there is a mention of a previous chapter master who started a reportedly "controversial" breeding program with failed aspirants, stopped immidiately upon the ascension of the next master. The point is that marines have been severly limited in numbers to prevent a rerun of the Horus Heresy.

iamcjb
25-03-2013, 12:17
The Crimson Fists had a Chapter Master who attempted to breed suitable candidates, but the results were poor, so it was stopped.

BooTMGSG
26-03-2013, 09:28
One potential solution to Marine sterility would be to take a certain sample from the Marine pre inductions. Then if all goes well and they prove to be a worthy marine, use said sample to artifically inseminate a few volunteers.
You'd likely get a number of volunteers for it as people today do pay premium for samples from inteligent/Models/Atheletes, thought rarely all three together. Though knowing 40k this process would have to be GrimDarkified.

Lupe
26-03-2013, 12:19
One potential solution to Marine sterility would be to take a certain sample from the Marine pre inductions.

Doesn't work like that. Marines are usually made from pre-pubescent boys. Even before their induction, they physically wouldn't be able to produce the genetic material required to inseminate anyone.

Retrospectus
26-03-2013, 17:07
do we have a concrete age that aspirants are taken? fluff seems to indicate early teens (about 11-15) which would give enough time to produce genetic material. puberty on earth starts as early as 8 or 9, the effects don't become noticeable till you hit your teens, so a barbaric feral world may have puberty earlier to deal with a harsh environment

Idomeneus
26-03-2013, 17:46
Lucas the Trickster is supposed to have slept with a dozen women in one night pre induction. GW writers staying up late again, getting funny ideas...

Ricky
27-03-2013, 14:27
Lucas the Trickster is supposed to have slept with a dozen women in one night pre induction. GW writers staying up late again, getting funny ideas...

Consider that Fenris is a pretty brutal place with an Iron Age style culture. In those days people had lower life expectancies and so got round to more 'mature' things more quickly. People could be married at pre-teen ages in those days and most people were dead before they hit 40. I imagine Fenris is much the same in terms of life expectancy of any given person.

Lupe
27-03-2013, 18:50
Lucas the Trickster is supposed to have slept with a dozen women in one night pre induction. GW writers staying up late again, getting funny ideas...

Now, I rather think this incident happens when he's already a Space Marine. That makes more sense because:
- it's the sort of macho arrogance that one expects of Lukas' character.
- subtly shows (again) that the Wolves don't give a damn about the warrior monk philosophy the rest of the Chapters are so into.
- gives a conflicting angle on the debate of sterility versus impotence. We all know how GW loves to hint at more than one potential answer to any potential question and take no side after that

Fenris breeds strong men, but even so, how the hell would a kid in the early stages of sexual growth really have the stamina for 12 consecutive rounds of intercourse within 12 hours? More to the point, how the heck would a scrawny little guy convince not one, but twelve women to have sex with him? I mean, this is Fenris we're talking about here. Cute / sweet / smooth talking won't get you that far. Everybody is looking for strength, experience and a whole bunch of other traits that ensure you'll not get yourself killed off too soon...

Haskear
27-03-2013, 21:52
Depends at which point the marines get involved, there's a high failure rate because it's a very complicated process and as the earlier 40K books stress - at this point humanity's genome is an utter mess. You've got 30,000 years of poor radiation shielding, weird suns, exposure to atmospheric mutagenic pollutants and the rest that'll end up in the food chain (current day Earth is starting to get a bit concerned with this, and that's before we start getting into rogue hormones and other epigentic things. Intentional genomic modification of whole colonies, underhive genehacks, genetic plagues and natural genetic drift given the difficulty in travel for people during the Age of Strife and the Age of Imperium.

If that's not enough, we've then got alien retroviruses, genestealer infestations and warp exposure. Rogue Trader made it very clear the cusp of evolving into a new psychic form or descending into something akin to spawndom on a grand scale.
There's a reason abhumans are referred to as stable mutations.

On top of that, Geneseed has been effectively inbred for 10,000 years with very little that can be done to fix any errors, especially given the high demand.

The Imperium has nothing against cloning (http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Death_Korps_of_Krieg#.UUupPBzIbNc), its more a case that the implantation process is the limiting factor - doesn't matter how many candidates you can get, if you can only implant a hundred or so a year and those will give you 50% marines at best.

Ultramar seems to have something vaguely set in place, as do many homeworlds - those families that produce marine candidates are afforded great honours, effectively selecting for those who carry genes favourable for producing marine candidates. Gametes from the parents of a marine are probably highly prized, and might not even be restricted to the black market. Also, the harsher the environment, the more significant the incentive to have marine favourable genes. A small population (few million), who's leaders are chosen from those who's sons have become marines is probably enough to produce a population that has above average implantation rates as well as imparting the recruits with the right sort of killer instinct.

So in short, they probably do but they're not very sure on what they're after and are loathe to mess with things that could influence the most important stages - it's fine to push the population to create a particularly vicious guard unit, but if you've knocked down your implantation sucess rate by even a small percent it's kind of a self defeating effort.

Really in short - it's not applicants that are the problem

I was going to say ultramar as memory serves is pretty good in terms of how civilised their approach is.