Anyone with any thoughts on a rough outline of how to do a WH 40K Space Marine?

OK, so someone says to me, paraphrased, “lets do a game of a small chapter of Space Marines trying to rescue a world from a partially thwarted Genestealer/Tyranid invasion so we can take it over and found a new Company of Space Marines.”

“ROCK!” says I. Then I add “Have you finished reading Burning Empires yet?”

So would you have a separate race or would you do it just as a setting with Alien burner points and Traits and some tweaked ceilings on stats (via Trait?) Keep in mind we’d probably ceiling characters at Scouts rather than full Space Marines.

EDIT: Or does this belong in the Spark forum?

Sounds like a really fun campaign. Every time I read about Space Marines, Games Workshop seems to make sure to remind me just how bigger, stronger, and tougher they are than regular humans, so off the top of my head I’m not sure how best to address this in Burning Empires. Specific Traits (and the Alien Burner) is probably the best way to represent their unique physiology and training, but they might also take a lot of time to come up with.

I don’t have my book in front of me, but what if you somehow made it that the characters could take several lifepaths, but still have max points for stat pools, regardless of age (I guess a Trait could accomplish something like that too), and like you said remove the Attribute ceilings. That might provide enough of a distinction from regular humans to give the feel of a Space Marine.

Maybe you could just hack Kernn? Physically, they might be the best analog to a Space Marine when compared with a normal human from either game.

Can’t wait to see your burned-up Tyranids.

The Kerrn/Mukadish both came to mind. By the miracle of the Internet search engines and message board archives I’ve located this . The problem is that I only have a passing knowledge of 40K. Like I know SM spit acid. :wink: Although according to that site only some of them do. Their chapter they are inducted into has to know how to create and implant a Betcher’s Gland, otherwise they don’t.

Which is starting to give me the idea to base a bunch of LP on different implants. Then the support staff of the SM are just normal Human LP people.

I know SM start human but I might just say screw it and make them a separate race anyway. Because once you start on the SM setting, and you’d basically have to start with your 2nd LP because of age considerations, there is no flunking out gracefully. :rolleyes:

The Tyranids I was thinking just going with Vaylen LP but with the stipulation that you couldn’t hop between setting other than Vaylen and Human. Once a bug always a bug since there isn’t any body-hoping for Tyranids.

Hulling is sort of in though! It’s just a bit different process and it isn’t quite as useful for infiltration. Psychology is also sort of in (ironically BE Psychology is different from IE Psychology in that it operates in a vacuum…like 40K’s does).

The big thing though are Psychers and their magic. Not sure how to handle that. I wouldn’t want to tackle that without one of the players definitely wanting to play one because that’s a lot o’ work involving crossing the [non-existant] Magic Burner with BE. Hrmm.

I was also somewhat concerned about the level of “brainwashing” attributed to full Space Marines. I figure there is more wiggle-room before they get the title but once they get it? It sometimes feels like their Beliefs are:

  1. Long live the Emperor.
  2. The Emperor protects.
  3. I will serve my Company to serve the Emperor.

A character like that would royally suck.

FWIW, I’m given to understand that in the Inquisitor 54mm game, space marines are rendered as very tough, tougher than you might expect from the WH40K stats - to the extent that they make decent ‘bosses’.

Tougher than, say starting physical stats of 7ish, and wearing standard BE Iron? A guy in Iron with a fusor is competition for a sled. Maybe need to kick Iron-portable weapons up a notch?

No idea. :slight_smile: Sounds tough though!

I was also thinking about the brainwashing aspect when this was brought up yesterday. I agree that it could be a problem for driving the campaign with interesting conflict, but to play Devil’s Advocate: If Space Marines were so resolute in the Beliefs, they wouldn’t be in danger of succumbing to the allure of Chaos.

Having one Belief each regarding their devotion to the Emperor could serve as a good “campaign” or “mission” Belief, but there’s probably plenty of other things to do with the remaining two (Or three–what if the Marines had a Trait like Zealotry that gave them a fourth Belief relating to the Emperor or their Chapter or something?). It would be interesting to have some Beliefs relating to inter-squad conflicts, like a struggle for authority or suspicion over who might be a traitor. But you’re a pro, so I’m sure you’re already thinking of this stuff.

I threw up the question over at I didn’t dare brave a ‘real’ TT WH40K forum with my whimpy RPG questions :wink: Within minutes I got some really helpful answers. So we just have to assume an appropriate Company philosophy.

I hadn’t considered the Zealot Trait but that could have some merit. Thanks.

NinjaE8825’s response in the other thread brought up a good point. Space Marine Chapters do have authority well outside the jurisdiction of the human interstellar government–they can basically address problems and act as they please, and the administration can’t do anything about it. So Space Marines might be brainwashed fanatics, but that doesn’t mean they’re always acting in the right. In fact, that is probably the core narrative of the Space Marines–awesomely powerful individuals who answer to no one, but are still bound by human limits of perception, as well as emotions like pride and Machiavellian dispositions.

It is much more interesting to imagine that a Space Marine falls not because he renounces the Emperor, but because in acting in the ways he thinks are good and right, he opens himself to the seduction of Chaos as a means to achieving his Beliefs.

The novel ‘Space Marine’ does offer some interesting examples of how the core ‘loyalty/zealotry’ belief may be similar but also different.

It also suggests that various forms of mental illness are common amongst each chapter (in the case of the one mentioned in the novel, it is extreme and violent xenophobia). Perhaps an Instinct could be assigned to model this (e.g. Instinct: Kill every alien I see, immediately).

Personally, if I was using BE to model Space Marines I’d lever the human average down the scale, rather than pushing the Space Marines to the top. Make a score of 2 the Human physical norm instead of 4 - otherwise you are going to run into problems with characters being on the Vehicular-scale, not the Human-scale.

You could also make the assumption that Anvil is the standard Space Marine armour, add in some Iron traits (Power pack, power-assist, etc) and ‘re-colour’ it. Then you’d be able to save Iron with its Hardened and Shielded trait for the antique suits of Terminator armour.

This may give players something to work up to, so as the campaign proceeds they are given awards and possibly promoted to the Terminator-armoured First Company.

Trimethius idea is sound: Marine armour is not Iron as I understand it.

Also, the coolest thing about the Chaos Marines is that each were corrupted by the perversion of a noble ideal or trait. Some in the quest for justice became cruel and vengeful murderers, some in the quest for vital knowledge became vile sorcerers, another bunch were so damn tough they couldn’t die of the chaos-spawned disease they contracted and eventually sold their souls for reprieve from the agony.

Actually, the whole fall from Marine to servant of Chaos was one of the few things about the WH40K fluff that really caught my eye.