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Do Normal People Matter?


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#1 furashgf

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:44 PM

I've read a number of books about Space Marines. So, they're supposed to be not just warriors, and not just superhumans, but the equivalent of knights in the 40K universe. In the fiction some of of the chapters seem to be like the rest of the 40K Imperium, even a bit worse - we're incredible, superior to anyone .who needs our assistant. The only people who matter, really, are other Space Marines. Doing horrific things to normal people, not even able to speak civilly to anyone under them. Others seem more like the idealized Arthurian knights - they're abilities just give them greater responsibility - they're knightly when the speak to even civilians, and while they will do things that hurt normal people, their goal is to protect them and avoid that where possible.

The general problem for all space marines seems to be Hubris/Pride - any of these chapters can end up making bad decisions because of it.

So, is this correct? Do behaviroal standards just differ by chapter, or are some chapter just unable to comply with standards, or are the nobler chapters heretical?

I'm curious - is there a World-of-Darkness like mechanic for their Hubris? That is, to do cool stuff, they have to become more prideful, but as they do so they're gradually becoming more monsterous, where they're randomly capturing citizens and turning them into servitors.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. 



#2 herichimo

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:05 PM

I'll start by saying this, "Whose standards are you talking about?" Space Marines are not Human, they are more and at the same time less than human, they are effectively living breathing demi-gods. Would you judge God on Human standards? Of course not, God (if your religion is Atheism, just bear with it, no ones trying to convert you, its just an example) is beyond human standards, laws, and relatability.

Another way to think of it is, do you feel overly responsible for protecting squirrels? Squirrels have a part in our world and ecosystem but to use humans they aren't terribly important. Most of us hold an indifferent attitude to them. We are fine letting them do their squirrel things as long as they don't get in our way. They start getting in our business (attics for instance) then we go mideval on them, hunting them until they are gone. If we happen to run over one on the highway, well, "it was just a squirrel." This is similar to how space marines see humans, to them a human is like a squirrel is to us. Humans are part of their universe, but they don't really have much importance in their lives. If we slight or attack them they'll come down hard and if one or two happen to get in the way of what they are doing and get squashed, they don't worry too much.

Now there are some space marines who are more compassionate and those more antagonistic towards humans. Just like humans, there are those of us with a crazy rediculous over the top concern for squirrels (the nuts at PETA for instance) even those who value them over human lives. There are also some humans who, being many times quite psychotic, are overly malicious to squirrels. But these are extremes to the norm in both cases.

Space Marines just don't remember what its like to be a human. That stuff has been hammered out of their minds by training, hypno-indoctrination, and their abilities with their new demi-go bodies. A human cannot move as fast, lift as much, react as quick, think as fast, heal as well, or fight as strongly as a space marine. They are superior to us in every way. To space marines humans are slow, weak, and prone to fear things they can no longer even relate to. Its not pride or hubris, they just think differently than humans do, they seem alien, because they are.

Space Marines understand their duty is to protect mankind, not to protect every single man. Saving or protecting every normal human on a battlefield isn't their mission or even their goals, winning the battle and protecting the human species is, and they will sacrifice any number of humans they have to if it achieves that goal.

 

Now if writers enjoy sticking to the Tropes hollywood has applied to people (strong people are dumb, big guys are slow, and strong warrior guys are blinded by pride) then they are poor writers. Space Marines break all the tropes: they are strong, genius, fast, big, and while they may have some pride in what they can do - it is overshadowed and squashed by their duty and intelligence.



#3 Thebigjul

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:11 PM

Fast answer to the question.

 

Humans worth nothing for chapters like Blood Tearers, Carcharodon, Iron hands, Mortificator and those kind of chapter

Humans are what they are for most of the chapter a mass of people they have to defend against the rest of the galaxy and somtime themself.

Humans are important for chapters like the Salamenders, Ultramarines and others but right now can't tell more.



#4 Adeptus-B

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:03 AM

I would put it like this: Space Marines are charged with the preservation of humanity. Not individual humans, which are by and large insignifigant.



#5 furashgf

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:42 AM

Hmm… The answers fit because they're grim and nasty. Thank you for your time and assistance 



#6 HappyDaze

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:00 PM

herichimo said:

I'll start by saying this, "Whose standards are you talking about?" Space Marines are not Human, they are more and at the same time less than human, they are effectively living breathing demi-gods. Would you judge God on Human standards? Of course not, God (if your religion is Atheism, just bear with it, no ones trying to convert you, its just an example) is beyond human standards, laws, and relatability.

Another way to think of it is, do you feel overly responsible for protecting squirrels? Squirrels have a part in our world and ecosystem but to use humans they aren't terribly important. Most of us hold an indifferent attitude to them. We are fine letting them do their squirrel things as long as they don't get in our way. They start getting in our business (attics for instance) then we go mideval on them, hunting them until they are gone. If we happen to run over one on the highway, well, "it was just a squirrel." This is similar to how space marines see humans, to them a human is like a squirrel is to us. Humans are part of their universe, but they don't really have much importance in their lives. If we slight or attack them they'll come down hard and if one or two happen to get in the way of what they are doing and get squashed, they don't worry too much.

Now there are some space marines who are more compassionate and those more antagonistic towards humans. Just like humans, there are those of us with a crazy rediculous over the top concern for squirrels (the nuts at PETA for instance) even those who value them over human lives. There are also some humans who, being many times quite psychotic, are overly malicious to squirrels. But these are extremes to the norm in both cases.

Space Marines just don't remember what its like to be a human. That stuff has been hammered out of their minds by training, hypno-indoctrination, and their abilities with their new demi-go bodies. A human cannot move as fast, lift as much, react as quick, think as fast, heal as well, or fight as strongly as a space marine. They are superior to us in every way. To space marines humans are slow, weak, and prone to fear things they can no longer even relate to. Its not pride or hubris, they just think differently than humans do, they seem alien, because they are.

Space Marines understand their duty is to protect mankind, not to protect every single man. Saving or protecting every normal human on a battlefield isn't their mission or even their goals, winning the battle and protecting the human species is, and they will sacrifice any number of humans they have to if it achieves that goal.

 

Now if writers enjoy sticking to the Tropes hollywood has applied to people (strong people are dumb, big guys are slow, and strong warrior guys are blinded by pride) then they are poor writers. Space Marines break all the tropes: they are strong, genius, fast, big, and while they may have some pride in what they can do - it is overshadowed and squashed by their duty and intelligence.

The above is really pushing things to the absurd. Space Marines:human does not equate to human:squirrel. If anything, Space Marines view regular humans as children. Baseline humans are less capable but they are also ultimately the future of humanity - and of the Space Marines themselves.


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#7 Cail

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:23 PM

In answer to you're question regarding the WoD mechanic for a SM hubris:

In most cases this is death with through a mixture of the insanity (primarchs curse) and corruption mechanics. The Primarchs Curse often gives an indication of which chapters are more 'caring' about humanity while the disorders gained through an increase of corruption/insanity reflect a more personal degradation. Remember corruption in particular is not just for coming into contact with warp tainted creatures (it's not the mutation points system from WHFRP second ed) so it can be gained for failing of the soul. I've given corruption points out for torture and using guardsmen as disposable troops before, and for insisting civilians be pressed into service under martial law. Not many, but just enough to represent the character is slowly becoming more detached from the ideals of a race he was created to protect, but can't ever really be a part of. 


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#8 guest469

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:13 AM

It isn't just Space Marines who feel this way either. Spire nobles don't give a rat's arse about anyone under them and no law abiding citizen thinks underhivers particularly deserve to breathe their air. The grim dark is that human lives are worth very little in 40k. There are precisely 2 kinds of people who matter to you at all: people who you owe fealty to and people who owe fealty to you. Space Marines don't save people's lives because life has any inherent value to them, they save lives because those lives belong to the Emperor as sheep belong to the shepard. Everything is judged in context of "what are you worth to the Master of Mankind". For the vast majority of individual humans, the answer is "very little".


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#9 Blackethorne

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:00 AM

I see there are multiple opinions on the matter. I have my own, and for the time being I will say this (these are my opinions):
 
1. Every chapter has its own ingrained personality and thus, their own opinions of the human race. I have identified (in my opinion) 4 categories of Space Marine mentality with respect to humanity.
 
a. *Protective*: Some chapters feel that humans are the source and future of the Empire. Humanity is the reason they are doing what they do. They [Marines]  are "created" by the Emperor from humans, to "protect" humanity. Are the individual marines able to relate directly to an individual human? Probably not. The space marines are so far above and removed from human desires and connections that cannot relate to them at all. But they still value them.
 
b. *Paternal*: Humans are usually incapable of knowing what is best for them. They are like children in the eyes of the Marines. The typical space Marine, as we know, is far more intelligent, wise, and certainly physically superior to any human. So much so, that they are gods unto the human race. But even gods must still repect the lives and needs of those they rule. Humans may be ignorant, but they are still living, sentient beings with souls who worship the emperor (misguided though that may be). Thus, all humanity is worth protecting and guiding to greater glory in the service of the Emperor and the Empire of Humanity.
 
c. *Indifferent*: Some chapters feel that humans are beneath them, but humanity has value. The mass of humanity (as a whole) has value; it produces, it repairs, it toils, and it grows. The Human race (as a whole) is the Empire. An individual human, has a duty to the Empire. Sometimes an individual must give up his/her needs for the group. The marine knows that humans are necessary, and valuable commodities. They will not go out of their way to harm humans without cause. They will however, not be above sacrificing an individual, a group of humans, or even an entire planet for the greater good, or to fulfill an important objective. There needs to be justifiable cause, of course.
 
d. *Scornful*: Some chapters feel that humans are useful, yet disposable (as one writer put it, as humans->squirrels). The mass of humanity has its purpose and place. The Space Marines of this mentality place no value on individual humans. They are a resource, necessary for the continuance of the empire, a labor force, a tool. However, a single human is no more valuable than a single nail in a box. There are more to replace it.
-This does not, however, insulate them from the subsequent taint and corruption of their souls resulting from acts wanton cruelty and neglect.
 
2. One must also keep in mind that an individual marine, has his own personailty, opinions, thoughts and desires. It is a given that he will be heavily influenced by his training, indoctrination, and the over-arching influence of the primarch's gene seed he carries (thus gaining much of his primarchs personaility). Even this will not wipe out all traces of an individual personality. If this were the case, all Marines would merely be autonomous clones of their primarch and have no (true) free will of their own. This is simply not true.

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#10 Zappiel

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:46 AM

nice posts, gents!  I imagine quite a few roleplayers will be helped out by Blackethorne's categories.  And remember:  no matter how indifferent and nasty you are to humans, Corruption awaits…..



#11 computertrucker

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 03:27 AM

May Isuggest a series of books that really does a great job describing how Space Marines feel about the humans they protect? I would suggest Checking out the Ultramarine Omnibus, and the series that follows it.

It goes into some really good detail about what goes on inside at least one Space Marines Captains head. It also describes from his view point how other Chapters handle things differently from his chapter The Ultramarines.

Above someone listed Protector reference. The Ultramarines, at least from the Captains view point are Protectors of Humanity.  They go through Great lengths to ensure that as few Humans as possible die for they are all Children of the Emporer. They also Respect Humans for their Mortality At least the brave ones that will throw themselves do their death in such great numbers. They (Ultramarines) Also do not agree with the methods of other Chapters like say the Blood Angels in many cases. Who are more likely to Sacrifice Humans in mass numbers without much Hesitation to get the job done.

So yes each and every Chapter has their own believe system. Much like Earth today. To think they all have THOUSANDS of years of culture that has helped to shape the views of each Chapter.



#12 kjakan

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:07 PM

There is a scene in the Eisenhorn trilogy where a White Consul Space Marine places himself in harm's way to protect civillians. The circumstances are unusual in that these Space Marines were present at an official function, with lots of civillians around, that suddenly turned violent. It seems to me that Space Marines usually interact with other military personell, or higher-ranking civillian figures. The latter tend to either be very safely guarded, or very dead. Sure, Space Marines may encounter civillians on the field of battle, but either there is no appreciable danger and the Space Marines need to get busy and find some other trouble, or the situation is already dangerous and coddling the civvies is lower on the priority list than is killing rampaging Tyranids.



#13 herichimo

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:45 AM

HappyDaze said:

 

The above is really pushing things to the absurd. Space Marines:human does not equate to human:squirrel. If anything, Space Marines view regular humans as children. Baseline humans are less capable but they are also ultimately the future of humanity - and of the Space Marines themselves.

 

 

Except, not really.

Space Marines are not human, they're more than human. They've become something much more powerful than a base human. The analagy is sound. If you need something which doesn't require much personal logic to understand then consider the difference between angels and humans (real biblical angels, the kind which can defeat an army of 10,000 strong single handedly, where any time they present themselves everyone hits the dirt and begs to be spared, not the ones which 'touch' everyone).

Don't fall into the trap where you either cannot or refuse to actually accept some things are not similar to you. That is called Ethnocentrism, its a rather common thing in the western world (especially, to my not so unexpected disappointment, the United States). Some cultures are different enough where they don't relate to yours and some beings are different enough where they don't relate to you.



#14 Cynr

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:48 AM

Read about the Salamanders, who appear to go even beyond the Ultramarines to go above and beyond to help humans, not just mankind.  I agree, Blackthorne has a pretty broad explanation that fits well.

-Cynr



#15 Zappiel

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:37 PM

we really need to be clear on what space marines really are:  they're genetically modified freaks.  Aberrations of science.  They are not gods, they are not demi-gods, they are not angels (in the judeao-islamic-christian-zoroastrian tradition).  They are mutilated humans who've been conditioned to kill and obey without compunction.  They are guard dogs.  Now, that's not to say they're simple or noncomplex - far from it.  But let's take them off their pedestal and see them for what they really are.  They are human beings.  Genetically and surgically altered human beings.  Human beings who can no longer reproduce sexually, but human nonetheless.  As humans, we can expect to find in them the entire range of human expression - some will be murderous goons, some will be pious saints; more or less dictated by their primarch's genetic inheritance and their own personal genetics, moulded by the culture of their chapter.  To say they cannot be understood by us mere mortals is disingenuous.

So, 'do normal people matter?'  Depends on the chapter, seems to me - Blackethorne's categories seem to delineate things quite nicely…any chapter that's more than scornful of individual humans is gonna be on the wrong side of Heresy before too long…..



#16 FieserMoep

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:28 PM

Astartes are raised by a mostly different moral system than we have. They are taught to be their Primarchs Sons, Sons of Saints. Furthermore the Emperor is the Father of their Fathers which makes it quite easy for their understanding to view at themself as "Angels of Death". Every Marine knows that, knows that he has become more than human, but this does not release them from their duty, their duty to defend humanity.

 

If you have read the "Hells Reach" SM Battles Novel you have two complete different points of view. The Black Templars rush against their foes to destroy them, a death foe can no further harm the citizens of the imperium. Though the Salamanders stay at the fortifications of a refugee complex to save the civilians from a counter attack that might happen. Both of them do their duty. This is the same dilema every exterminatus has. Would you sacrifice millions of people to propably save billions of them? Or would you try to fight back and risk that the enemy might spread and infest other planets before you can contain him?

 

Some Chapters believe the only way to protect humanity is to fight its enemies, others believe the only way is to protect its people. Both try to achieve the same thing, both might be right, both might fail. When a species fights for its survival, individuals do not matter. This is the strength of authorities like the Astartes or Inquisitions. They take the choises others are to weak to take. They a free from mercy but may be blinded by hate. The matter is not if their behaviour is acceptable or not, the matter is that it is needed.

 

This is the drama and darkness of WH40k. That humankind has to sacrifice its own humanity to stay alive. What has once been a glorious race on the peak of its cultural and technology advance has been brough to one knee by its own misery, damned to fight in agony for its sheer survival.



#17 Zappiel

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:59 AM

careful!  Your words just put a chain around your neck…….survival of the species means individuals don't matter?  Be very careful……..because the whole theme of wh40k could well be that the ends do NOT justify the means….that the 10,000 year tyranny of the imperium might actually be STRENGTHENING  chaos, not denying it………that these 'hard' decisions made by inquisitors and senators are damning us all to oblivion…………



#18 FieserMoep

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:26 PM

Well, if they did not took this "decisions" the imperium would be damned too. The only question is "when". Nine millina ago or five millenias ahead.

The reason an exterminatus is orderd is to contain a specific thread that cant be fought in conventional manner (Because there are no reenforcements in time or the enemy is just too strong) before it is able to "infest" other planets and further spread into the system. It is the last choice a chapter master/captain or inquisitor can order and with it comes serious consequences. A world is ultimatly lost to the imperium, millions of civilians are dead. But this is for the only reson to save dozens of other worlds. It is a death sentence for a billion of souls and consignts them into oblivion. Nobody takes this easily but it is the duty of the office. When does a background become grimdark? Well, when the murder of millions is not a good, but the right choice.

And the battle against chaos is already a battle that will wage to the end of time. The emotions of the living are the pure essence the warp is made of, and in ultimate war even the most pius soldiers feeds the dark gods with his rightous hate. The only exeption might be individuals like sisters of silence or grey knights that can keep the power of their emotions as a ward against the warp but everytime a blood angels death company marine goes into berserk mode, khorne is smiling.

The dark gods do not care who is winning, all they care for is an unending war and that the emperor/kaela mensha kaine does not rise again.



#19 Zappiel

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:35 AM

Your last sentence is precisely my point :)

Chaos is winning so long as there exists war and misery….peace kills Chaos, not space marines or battleships….the setting is Grimdark because the Imperium is fighting the wrong war the wrong way; ultimately, we're losing, bad.  And the more we fight losing, the more we lose….so, as it currently stands, of course individual normal people don't factor in…..but the status quo is untenable….the status quo is a pathway to ultimate destruction…necrons and tyranids and enslavers can ultimately defeat Chaos (by wiping out all material life); but that's not a very happy victory for humanity (or anybody else).  So, ultimately, the answer to the thread's question could well be 'YES!' normal people do matter - even one soul in torment is feeding Chaos…but if all human souls suddenly knew peace, true peace, then what of Chaos?  Nothing but an endless field of calm energy.  Or so it seems to me…



#20 N0-1_H3r3

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 04:02 AM

Zappiel said:

we really need to be clear on what space marines really are:  they're genetically modified freaks.  Aberrations of science.  They are not gods, they are not demi-gods, they are not angels (in the judeao-islamic-christian-zoroastrian tradition).  They are mutilated humans who've been conditioned to kill and obey without compunction.  They are guard dogs..

They are so much more than this.

Genetic modification alone does not cover what wrought the Astartes. Science is not the only thing that saw their creation. They may not be gods, but they were created from the blood of the sons of a being who might as well be.

The Astartes are more than the product of genetic science - the Emperor's science alone wrought generations of supersoldiers before the Astartes… the Thunder Warriors and the Adeptus Custodes both were the result of genetic engineering more sophisticated and more advanced than any that had come before. The Primarchs were something more - a fusion of science and sorcery, the likes of which the universe had never before borne witness to.

The Astartes were made in the image of, and with the blood of, the Primarchs. The Primarchs were, if not literally then figuratively, gods of battle, the sons of the God-Emperor of Mankind. The Astartes are their sons, human beings who have been elevated and waxed transcendent by the blood of gods; they're heroes in the ancient greek sense, carrying the spark of the divine in their veins.


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