This is a tricky one. The Space Wolves in particular seem to have gone through a lot of subtly different interpretations all depending on who writes about them. In the words of another player, "they can't decide whether they want to be Space Vikings, Werewolves, Loyalist World Eaters, Mary Sues, Wolverine, Monsters, Primitive Pagans, Disciplined, Feral, Serious, Humorous, Intelligent, Bestial, Super Soldiers or an awful amalgamation of all of these often contradictory things."
I'd say go for which of these terms you like the most - personally, my favoured version is Space Viking Super Soldiers with just a hint of Werewolves, and for their behaviour in and out of battle, as well as their reputation, I'm looking at the real world viking cliché which, imho, was the original inspiration.
And even the Horus Heresy novels are just one of many possible interpretations of 40k (and quite over the top compared to the Index Astartes' version of events).
From what I remember I believe Space Wolves primarily use an oral traditional of storytelling to preserve their Chapter history and rituals. They are also notably not a Codex Chapter. They also operate in quite distinct Great Companies. When you consider this and the fact that the WH40K setting is based over 10,000 years it maybe isn’t too surprising that the Space Wolves encompass so many different characteristics. It might simply be a case of the Chapter changing.
In terms of whether normal people matter. I think the question is wrong lol!
In terms of emotional intelligence a marine has roughly the same range of emotions as a normal human. So there is no reason for them not to have some empathy towards normal humans. The main barriers are cultural and institutional.
But therein lies the rub. A Marine in the 41st millennia is only really going to get the chance to talk to military personnel and even then most of these will be officers
In this context then ordinary humans do matter, as invariably they will be viewed as a military asset or even in some cases an ally. However they will only very rarely be seen as equal in military value to a marine.
However most Space Marines by and large have only a limited conception of normal people or what it is they actually do.
For example imagine a random baker working on an average peaceful world in the Imperium.
He works for a head baker who pays him minimum wage, he has wife and 2 kids and he knows nothing of space travel the warp or xenos. He belongs to a guild to which he pays a tithe and another tithe to the local Temple. Finally he has flour tax to pay the local governor. He has a house he has a mortgage on. Every summer he attends the local carnival. His mother in-law husband died so she has moved in and is giving him grief.
Now compare this to a fairly regular marine, say a Nova Marine.
Now tell me what do they possibly have to talk about?
It’s not so much a case of the baker not mattering so much as the Nova Marine simply not understanding what the baker does or why he does it. Why does he put up with his boss? Why does he waste so much time drinking or on idle chatter? Why doesn’t he work harder? Why isn’t he pushing himself to be better?
Empathy is based on understanding. This is why some Chapters like Salamanders or White Consuls will think normal people matter and will understand the fraction of a difference the baker makes to the Imperium. They might even appreciate that they as Astartes stand as the pinnacles of humanity on a pyramid supported by the baker.
A Flesh Tearer whose entire existence is consumed by war and anger would probably need to remind himself what a baker even is if you used the word in conversation.
In game terms, there is a case to be made that Space Marines shouldn’t necessarily automatically have Common Lore Imperium.
Edited by Visitor Q, 21 August 2014 - 07:39 AM.