Space Marines

It’s been a while, loyal subjects of the emperor, vile machinations of the warp or heretics of The Imperium. But once again, I’m here to delve into the iceberg of lore that floats gentle on the surface of an innocent looking miniatures table top game. In my last piece we discussed the king of kings, the divine light or simply that corpse sat on a big chair, The Emperor of Mankind. This time round, we’ll delving into his creations; The Adeptus Astartes, Space Marines or, those big dudes that are seriously mis-proportioned and reek of lab accident.


Space Marines are split into various chapters and each chapter descend from a single person. These singular progenitors (fancy name for daddy) were called Primarchs. These Primarchs were genetic creations of the Emperor. There were originally twenty Primarchs. Each with their own legion.

I Legion – Dark Angels Lion El’JonsonLoyalist
 III Legion – Emperor’s ChildrenFulgrimTraitor
IV Legion – Iron WarriorsPerturaboTraitor
V Legion – White Scars Jaghatai KhanLoyalist
VI Legion – Space WolvesLeman RussLoyalist
VII Legion – Imperial Fists Rogal DornLoyalist
 VIII Legion – Night LordsKonrad CurzeTraitor
IX Legion – Blood AngelsSanguiniusLoyalist
X Legion – Iron Hands Ferrus ManusLoyalist
XII Legion – World EatersAngronTraitor
XIII Legion – Ultramarines Roboute GuillimanLoyalist
 XIV Legion – Death GuardMortarionTraitor
XV Legion – Thousand SonsMagnus the RedTraitor
XVI Legion – Luna Wolves / Sons of HorusHorus LupercalTraitor
 XVII Legion – Word BearersLorgarTraitor
XVIII Legion – SalamandersVulkanLoyalist
XIX Legion – Raven Guard Corvus CoraxLoyalist
XX Legion – Alpha LegionAlpharius and OmegonTraitor

Following the Horus Heresy, only seven are actually accounted for. The remaining were either killed or have disappeared and presumed dead. The remaining legions are deemed loyalist (loyal to The Emperor) or traitor (sided with Horus). The gaps are those legions that have been destroyed or lost. The loyal were then split into Chapters.

Chapter NamePrimarch
Dark AngelsLion El’Jonson
White ScarsJaghatai Khan
Space WolvesLeman Russ
Imperial FistsRogal Dorn
Blood AngelsSanguinius
Iron HandsFerrus Manus
UltramarinesRoboute Guilliman
Raven GuardCorax

The legions that followed Horus and fell to the corruption of Chaos remained as legion’s.

Legion NamePrimarch
Emperor’s ChildrenFulgrim
Iron WarriorsPerturabo
Night LordsKonrad Curze (Night Haunter)
World Eaters (War Hounds)Angron
Death Guard (Dusk Raiders)Mortarion
Thousand SonsMagnus the Red
Luna WolvesHorus
Word Bearers (Imperial Heralds)Lorgar
Alpha LegionAlpharius Omegon

Now we’ve covered the organisation and origin, lets go over how you become a Space marine.

Recruits are chosen from the best warriors among humanity. Untamed planets, close to Earth before man industrialised and began expansions across continents, referred to in Warhammer as ‘Feral Worlds’ are favoured for recruitment, as such harsh and primal conditions produce the best warriors. However, Hive Worlds, hugely over populated worlds that have been terraformed to within an inch of the planets life, are also considered the ideal source of potential recruits, the populace of the lower levels composed of some of the most murderous scum in the human Imperium. Whole gangs of hive scum are sometimes hunted down and captured for recruitment. Among the most valued traits in a recruit are aggression and psychotic-level killer instinct. Much more rarely, certain ‘Civilised Worlds’ an oxy moron in my opinion in the Warhammer 40k universe, are also recruited from.

The potential recruit is first subjected to testing, including tissue compatibility tests and psychological screening. Relatively few get past this initial selection process. Those that do pass are termed “neophytes”. Some chapters use the feral rituals of the original recruits people or home world as trials. For example 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 home world of Caliban and often require aspirants to track and kill fearsome beasts mutated by the powers of Chaos. Amongst other types of Trial, the Ultramarines make extensive use of the Exposure Trial. In fact, some of the elite of the Realm of Ultramar are known to cast new-born infants into the wilderness in order to test their resilience. The Space Wolves use similar methods, as do many other Chapters.

The process continues with the surgery, indoctrination, conditioning, and training that will make them Marines. The surgical process takes a great deal of time. The recruit receives implants, along with chemical- and hypnotherapy, and training necessary for allowing the functioning and development of the implanted organs. The implants transform their bodies and minds and give them inhuman abilities – making them capable of spitting acidic venom, absorbing the memories of the dead by eating their flesh, darkening their skin to protect it from radiation, and operating for long periods without sleep by switching off parts of their brains at a time. After this implantation process and the associated training, the recruit becomes an “initiate”.

Intense indoctrination and conditioning strengthens the recruit’s resolve and increases mental capabilities, honing them into dedicated and merciless warriors. After more general training, they join the Chapter as full “brothers”.

There you have it. What it takes to become a Space Marine. Each chapter has their own various additions to the process, but the science remains the same. Next time we’ll be delving into the Xenos races of Warhammer 40k, kicking off with the elusive T’au.

If you have any requests for Warhammer lore, drop into the comments.

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