View Full Version : crime and punishment in space marine chapters

25-11-2013, 12:20
I know space marines are seriously loyal and disciplined but they arent infallible so i wondered what sort of things were considered crimes by space marines and how is justice dealt. Would a space marine have to do pennance for blowing up a school instead of a military target or is collateral damage always acceptable?

25-11-2013, 12:50
In the midst of the kind of war zone which requires Space Marines to be sent in, it's unlikely a school will still be operating… but yes, there are crimes and punishments.

The Bloodquest saga began with a Space Marine Captain whose victory came at the cost of the lives of 90% of his Company - which was not a crime - and the loss of a sacred relic - which was. The punishment for him, subsequently imposed on those who volunteered to join him, was exile until he retrieved the blade. But then, this presupposes you have the resources to allow a whole cruiser to be exiled.

If the blade had been broken, and couldn't be retrieved, that might be a different story; there might be no conditions for such an exile to be listed. For other crimes, such as corruption to Chaos, the Space Marine simply can't be permitted to survive; they will be killed, their gene seed destroyed, their name stricken from honour rolls.

A crime doesn't have to be specific to a Space Marine, though - there are whole Space Marine Chapters who exist in penance.

25-11-2013, 13:52
Yeah arent a couple of the badab chapters on pennitent crusades.

I knew about the blood quest story but had forgotten about it. The school was mainly used as an example of collaterall damage, but the same could be said for the uneccesary destruction of a monestary, forge, hive etc. I expect there must be some situations where a chapter has been deemed to be too zealous. The space sharks spring to mind, slaughtering the civilian populations to draw out the mantis warriors.

25-11-2013, 16:26
Seems to be that most of such punishments have to be done in house. The flesh tearers got nothing more than disaproving tuts when they went bibbledy, and the space-wolves gave a resounding middle finger to the inquisition after the second(?) war of Armageddon.

25-11-2013, 17:04
In the Ultramarines stories, Uriel Ventris commits the crime of behaving in a way contrary to the dictats of the Codex Astartes - He uses his own initative to lead a deathwatch team to make a boarding action against a Hiveship. For this crime, he is 'banished' until he has completed a 'quest'. His Sergeant conceals his bionic arm, made from metals salvaged from Necron ruins, is self healing. For failing to inform his superiors, he is placed in confinement for a number of weeks, causing him to miss out on a company deployment - and it's the ommision from deployment rather than the confinement which is presented as the harshest aspect of the punishement, such is the Astartes indoctrination.

25-11-2013, 17:36
Being turned into a servitor is always an option as individual penance for gross misconduct, too.

25-11-2013, 18:17
Ragnar Blackmane used Leman Russ's Spear to stick an apparition of Magnus in the face, the spear went in to the warp with Magnus.

He was shunned for his actions, despite being arguably the only way to stop Magnus reaching in to normal space. He even had to go Deathwatch it up for a bit. He got it back though so honour was restored.

Been a while since I read those books though.

26-11-2013, 16:29
In Legion of the Damned the company First Whip (senior sergeant) was forbidden from partaking in a flagellation ritual for a period of time as a form of punishment.

26-11-2013, 16:44
It was the first war for armageddon. Ol' Logan was pissed that all of the imperial guard that fought were sterilized and killed, and Ragnar was sent to Earth as Wolf Brother to protect Space Wolf interest, not death watch. It looks like crime and punishment is kind of arbitrary for space marine chapters not ot mention some of these "crimes" act as hoakey plot devices for some of these novels

26-11-2013, 18:08
The Pain Glove seems to work as both a meditative practice and a punishment for the Imperial Fists, going back as far as Space Marine.

Transcribing long portions of the codex astartes or some other relevant text.
Forfeiting certain types of heraldry or honours (e.g. carrying the standard) until they've been earned back.
Being turned into a servitor

Pretty sure there's multiple instances of marines being assigned 'X amount of days in the penitorium' or the like by chaplains for letting their anger get the better of them and wasting ammunition.

26-11-2013, 19:22
Are most of these crimes though things to be seen as crimes that are against the good name of the chapter rather than crimes that are committed against the rest of the Imperium. For example a marine could in the process of fighting and defeating a chaos afflicted creature kill say 1000 (Number chosen at random.) civilians as well as the chaos afflicted creature, but he has done so using a cursed blade taken from the corps of a chaos marine. The crime would be using the cursed blade as opposed to killing a 1000 civilians, whom nobody in authority would really care about!

26-11-2013, 20:15
Justice within chapters will, of course, vary from chapter to chapter.

Due to psycho-indoctrination marines are incredibly loyal... when they commit a heinous crime, its *really* heinous (indeed, renegade marines tend to go uber evil and drift inevitably toward chaos as, suddenly, they are completely liberated and decades of pent up self-denial comes gushing out). In these cases only the harshest punishments will do.

Of course, most marines dont go full-mental. Generally speaking, if a marine is censured it'll likely be for some infraction against the chapter's traditions and honour and punishment will usually be in the form of penance for their failing (such as Ventris or Leonatus). Mostly itll be about slapping the wrist of a marine for failing to live up to the standards expected of the chapter and being told to make ammends.

The 'accidently bombing a school' (if we take that to mean, in general, collateral damage against civilian targets) this will depend entirely on the chapter. Some chapters wouldnt give two hoots about the accident... others might deliberately target civilian areas without regard - many chapters place little regard in human lives, others (like the Salamanders) prefer to remember that defending humanity is why they where created - depends whether the chapter views sacrificing lives as necessary to protect the whole, or (to paraphrase the qu'ran) if killing one innocent is akin to killing the whole of humanity.

27-11-2013, 21:01
Space Marine psychology seems to revolve largely around concepts of honour and duty, and punishing them by confinement or execution would be seen as wasteful and also compounding the Space Marines dishonour by preventing him from performing his duty. So, many of the punishments described in the fluff seem to revolve largely around the withdrawal of honour and ironically (given the harshness of a Space Marines life) quite trivial from a human point of view: the real punishment for their transgression is the shame the Marine feels, and the opprobrium of his brothers. An example would be Legion of the Damned, preventing a couple of miscreants from indulging in self-flagellation, which would generally be seen as the opposite of punishment in most military forces. This was for quite a serious offence, too: questioning the chain of command and/or outright mutiny. Probably would have got you shot in a World War 1 army.

Son of Morkai
28-11-2013, 18:47
Focusing on the collateral damage bit, it would depend strongly on the objectives and reasons.

Misidentifying the school as an enemy strongpoint or missing the actual target and accidentally demolishing the school would be seen as failing to strike at the enemy. The destruction of the school does not serve the war effort, regardless of the chapter's views on their duty ("destroy His enemies" vs "protect His servants"). Something like this would probably be dealt with on the individual or squad level, with the marine himself or his sergeant issuing penance. A more humanitarian chapter might have punishment issued by the company captain or chaplain, but rarely anything higher. The marine might be assigned additional time on the firing range. Of course, if his failure leads to the deaths of Battle-Brothers, then the penance will be much more severe.

Intentionally destroying the school would strongly depend on the chapter's views. It could be done to deny the enemy a potential strongpoint or to galvanize the civilians into taking up arms to defend their own planet by denying them places to hide, but that would take a particularly callous chapter. Even the World Eaters do not let Kharn play with flamers anymore for a reason. Most chapters would punish the marine - not for the innocent deaths, but for his error in judgement, which led to innocent deaths. Since a lone marine is unlikely to suddenly decide to demolish a school, his squadmates and sergeant would also be punished for their failure to correct him. Perhaps the squad would be stricken from the honor rolls for that battle or assigned (or volunteer) to an undesirable duty next battle. Assigning the squad to guard refugees would be an appropriate task - to teach them of the importance of protecting His servants even while destroying His enemies. If the area comes under counterattack, they could be assigned to defend the ruins - to protect the resting place of the martyred innocents.

If the school is accepted collateral damage, then there is no need for penance. Space Marines often strike with overwhelming force - they are less likely to level a city block to destroy an enemy stronghold than the Imperial Guard, but it still happens. Again, it will depend on the chapter's view of their duty, but even the Salamanders or Space Wolves will occasionally accept that civilian deaths are necessary. Perhaps not so far as to intentionally use them as bait, but if the school is already under assault and those inside are condemned by proximity to Chaos/Xenos/Heretic forces, better that they die still believing in the Emperor's Will than possibly live to deny it. A marine may issue himself penance for calling down a whirlwind barrage that destroys the school and all those in it, but that would be for his own failure to find a better solution, even if there is no better solution. Going out of his way to prevent further civilian deaths, even at the risk of his own life to atone for his failures. Possibly the whirlwind crews would later go through the ruins of the school and put a reliquary of shame on their hull to honor the dead.

But if a marine kills for the sake of killing, that is when exile or execution come in. Even his captain or chaplain might be censured for failing to notice the warning signs. Even the most grimdark of Space Marine chapters would raise an eyebrow at one of their battle-brothers striding through a battlefield targeting civilians instead of the enemy. Claims of denying the enemy cover or slaves or victims can only go so far.