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Farseerixirvost

Deathwatch Marines - how old?

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It's not too surprising for Space Vampires to live a long **** time, and that's sort of the theme of the Blood Angels, even if they don't actively consume blood to maintain their longev...ah crap. ;)

 

I like to think that your typical Space Marine can live for half a millennium, give or take. More often, just as long as the Emperor needs them to. I've seen humans in this material who make it to 300 (Honorable Cal), without extensive cybernetics, Halo devices, or what have you, and Space Marines are made from the best of what baseline Humans can be, made better with extra bits, and access to the best technology available. As was said, their maximum life expectancy is also somewhat irrelevant, as there are never enough Astartes to render most of them unnecessary; at times, the Imperium barely has enough GUARDSMEN, and they have much less stringent mandatory qualifications. Most Space Marines can expect to die in battle, and most wouldn't have it any other way; it's who they are.

 

I can certainly see a logic to the Emperor breeding in some sort of "die off" switch in his super-soldiers; even many of our own real life soldiers find it difficult to reacclimatize to "peaceful" life, and only after a few years of service, in what is comparably humane warzones. Think of the nightmares an Astartes could witness in 300 years of grimdark line-breaking, surprise assaults, and 1000-to-1 faceoffs, and then imagine them trying NOT to be soldiers, later. However, one must then imagine that the Emperor envisioned a time of peace, which would have been folly for Him, and He'd know it. Humans are violent, and look for war, on average, and there are numerous alien menaces to contend with, including infinite Orks, seemingly similar Nids, and numerous other smaller, but no less lethal empires, like Eldar, Necrons, and Tau. If He knew He'd need super-soldiers for any of these, it makes more sense that they are so durable, healable, and long-lived; they'll always have a job. If they have a magic cut-off date, like the rest of us do, it's mostly just that the Emperor, for all His knowledge, had a few issues even He couldn't overcome. He also, initially, couldn't have planned for His own absence, so He would've expected to be present to maintain the integrity of His Astartes, keeping them, and their Primarchs, in line.

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It comes down to a lot of interpretation - for example, one theory as to why there are no female Space Marines is that the Emperor was afraid they might actually multiply. Likewise, the military force expanded during the Great Crusade was not the Marines, but rather the Imperial Army, which took over more and more duties from the Legions. To me, this opens the possibility that the Emperor thought of the Space Marines as a temporary measure, just one step of many on his campaign of carving out an empire, to be replaced just like he replaced the Thunder Warriors from Terra. A bit like with Star Wars' Clone Troopers, whose only purpose was to fight and die in the Clone Wars, after which they'd wither away in their retirement homes as more and more normal humans took over in the newly formed Stormtrooper Corps. The Space Marines were quite simply version 2.0 of a disposable tool.

 

I also don't see it as a "magical cut-off date" when it's not magic but a perfectly natural limitation of our human bodies - and the actual magic would be to remove it. There is only a single organism on our entire planet that is biologically immortal, and that jellyfish achieves this only by effectively re-birthing itself.

Not to mention that in GW's original background, it wasn't even the Emperor himself who "invented" the Space Marines, but his scientists - it is pure irony that the version of the Emperor creating everything himself because he's so cool and can do anything is nowadays not only propagated by myth-distorted setting material, but out-of-universe by the players themselves, and even some BL novels. Similar to how a lot of people seem to buy into the AdMech mumbo-jumbo about Machine Spirits.  ;)

 

The notion that the age could also be limited as a satefy measure to prevent accumulating psychological trauma from affecting the troops is interesting, however, especially if regarded in connection with the long-living Blood Angels and how they become more and more prone to insanity the older they get.

 

(Heretical theory: What if the Blood Angles' lifespan of 1k years was once standard to all Astartes Legions, but artificially reduced to a third after the Horus Heresy as one of the "lessons learned", and for some reason that just didn't work with the BA...?

... although a reduced lifespan could just as easily be one of the effects of the technological decline in Astartes Creation, which has become more and more unreliable and twisted by mystification over the millennia, as mentioned in White Dwarf #247)

 

 

Bottom line ... unless one's personal vision of the setting is very high fantasy (looking at you, Horus Heresy novel series), Space Marines are human. Superhuman (or posthuman), but human still. They need to breathe, they need to eat, and they bleed when you hurt them. They have eyes you can blind, they have muscles that can tear, and they have bones that can break. That all of it is somehow improved does not change their basic nature, just like Catachans are still just very strong and buff humans (with guys such as Harker approaching Astartes-levels of physical prowess). Genetical enhancements such as increased bone density and muscle mass do not magically transform a former Feral World teenager into an entirely different species capable of disregarding the basic rules of physics.

 

It's the same with their lifespan, and 300-400 years is pretty long already. Indeed, this can actually provide a nice sense of technological consistency if we consider the possibility that what increases the Marines' lifespan is the same stuff/science that is available to other elite members of the Imperium in the form of rejuvenation treatments - it just so happens that the Marines have it be a firm part of their creation process, rather than an option you can avail of if you're high enough in rank and influence.

 

That's just my take on things, however. As much as 40k is talked about using buzzwords such as Epic and SciFantasy, I prefer a more gritty, down-to-earth version where myths stay myths and everything just sounds a bit more scientific/reasonable. Kind of like how I prefer Dragon Age to the Forgotten Realms. It is certainly not the only way to have fun with this setting! :)

(indeed, I am probably in the minority :b)

Edited by Lynata

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It comes down to a lot of interpretation - for example, one theory as to why there are no female Space Marines is that the Emperor was afraid they might actually multiply.

 

Oh sweet Slaanesh the images i got in my head now...Why did you have to bring that up? :D

 

Life will find a way. - Ian Malcolm

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I don't really think rejuvenated people count as "normal men" - besides, if that would apply all Space Marines would live a lot longer than even the Blood Angels, given the age people can achieve by such means (which is actually pretty close to the suggested Marine lifespan ... strengthening that theory about the tech being related or even the same, hmmh).

 

 

 

And the HH novels seem to take place in a whole 'nother version of 40k anyways. ;)

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There is a Space wolf Captain named Hakon in the Space wolves novels that must've been tremendously old. Considering the fact that when they visit a shrine at one point... He is depicted on a battlefield alongside Russ himself. It's quite tragic when he.... oh spoiler alerts. :o Mind you Logan Grimnar has been a chapter master for more than 700 years.... This ultramarine guy really doesn't sound like he's all that old. 

Edited by Chasme

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It's quite possible that some or many of these novels simply don't subscribe to this detail of GW's own material -- artistic freedom and all. That being said, if it's just a question of chronological events rather than a directly stated age, it could easily be explained to Warp travel shenanigans.

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Due to a mishap with warp travel and chronological displacement I ended up with a marine that managed to die thousands of years before he was even born.

.

Oh the fun for the administratum working that one out. Needed more than one adept.

On topic though. In theory with organ replacements a marine could endure a long time say thousands of years but in practice few do this and eventually everything wears out and the division between man and synthetic gets harder to divine.

Edited by Calgor Grim

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In theory with organ replacements a marine could endure a long time say thousands of years but in practice few do this and eventually everything wears out and the division between man and synthetic gets harder to divine.

 

There's probably a few things you can't really replace, too ... like the brain. ;)

Otherwise I assume a lot of Inquisitors, High Lords, etc would probably flock to this rather than Rejuvenation.

 

It really depends on personal preferences, though, meaning which books we want to go by. I think there's a novel that had a Marine who is older than Dante, for example! In case of contradictions, pick your poison.

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In theory with organ replacements a marine could endure a long time say thousands of years but in practice few do this and eventually everything wears out and the division between man and synthetic gets harder to divine.

 

There's probably a few things you can't really replace, too ... like the brain. ;)

Otherwise I assume a lot of Inquisitors, High Lords, etc would probably flock to this rather than Rejuvenation.

 

It really depends on personal preferences, though, meaning which books we want to go by. I think there's a novel that had a Marine who is older than Dante, for example! In case of contradictions, pick your poison.

You say that but I think you can get neural implants which start to make someone more machine like. Just stay away from EMP or you shut down!

Also isn't there that space wolf entombed in a dread? Technically still alive in the sense he isn't melted yet! But yes usually it's next to impossible without severe genetic manipulation encroaching on uber heresy or warp voodoo to keep a marine going past a thousand odd years.

I did however have a genius idea about misusing the peril to swap bodies and move consciousness to a new host body every few years. Its technically doable...

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You say that but I think you can get neural implants which start to make someone more machine like. Just stay away from EMP or you shut down!

 

Yeah, but that's just implants..

 

Technically, I'm sure it would be possible to have something a la Ghost in the Shell, where you just upload your consciousness into a cybernetic brain -- but in 40k, I'd expect it as archaeotech at best, and probably Tech-Heresy as depending on one's perspective, you essentially become an Abominable Intelligence?

 

I guess it depends on whether people in 40k define AI as an intelligence that was never human to begin with, or if they include consciousness that had a human origin, a la "soul being reborn as a machine spirit" or something like that.

 

It may well be an example of different beliefs debated hotly within the Mechanicus clergy, mirroring the stuff the Ecclesiarchy Synods talk about. ;)

 

Also isn't there that space wolf entombed in a dread?

 

Yeah, but I'm not sure they count, as (at least as per the codex) they're placed in stasis whenever they're not needed, so it's as much "cheating time" as being in the Warp. Still, I can buy that entombment in a Dreadnought can prolong your life even without the stasis, as your body will probably experience less stress once submerged in whatever fluids they flood your tank with?

 

I did however have a genius idea about misusing the peril to swap bodies and move consciousness to a new host body every few years. Its technically doable...

 

This should be a ritual in BC...

 

I remember one of the bad guys in the Star Wars P&P did something like this -- cloning himself, and then possessing his own copy, over several thousand years! Easily doable in 40k, fluffwise. :)

Edited by Lynata

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You say that but I think you can get neural implants which start to make someone more machine like. Just stay away from EMP or you shut down!

 

Yeah, but that's just implants..

 

Technically, I'm sure it would be possible to have something a la Ghost in the Shell, where you just upload your consciousness into a cybernetic brain -- but in 40k, I'd expect it as archaeotech at best, and probably Tech-Heresy as depending on one's perspective, you essentially become an Abominable Intelligence?

Makes my think of Galatea from Priests of Mars (and following books). Tech Heresy!

 

Edit: Quoting is buggy....

Edited by Avdnm

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You say that but I think you can get neural implants which start to make someone more machine like. Just stay away from EMP or you shut down!

 

Yeah, but that's just implants..

 

Technically, I'm sure it would be possible to have something a la Ghost in the Shell, where you just upload your consciousness into a cybernetic brain -- but in 40k, I'd expect it as archaeotech at best, and probably Tech-Heresy as depending on one's perspective, you essentially become an Abominable Intelligence?

 

I guess it depends on whether people in 40k define AI as an intelligence that was never human to begin with, or if they include consciousness that had a human origin, a la "soul being reborn as a machine spirit" or something like that.

 

It may well be an example of different beliefs debated hotly within the Mechanicus clergy, mirroring the stuff the Ecclesiarchy Synods talk about. ;)

 

There was a short story somewhere with a Space Wolf trying to harvest the gene-seed of an Iron Hand Dreadnought after a joint engagement and getting a lascannon shot in the face for his effort after he sees (and is horrified by) what's inside. It's at least heavily implied that there's no biological component left anymore.

 

It's an easily circumvented issue anyway - it's always handwaved away both in-universe and out of it by stating that no space marine ever died a natural death, so sooner or later every single one can fully expect to fall in battle. I'm comfortable with leaving to personal interpretation whether they get some more wrinkles before that or not :)

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It's an easily circumvented issue anyway - it's always handwaved away both in-universe and out of it by stating that no space marine ever died a natural death, so sooner or later every single one can fully expect to fall in battle.

 

Where is that stated? When the 5E Marine Codex mentions Cassius being "the oldest active Ultramarine", it makes it sounds as if there are inactive Ultramarines as well -- meaning, ones who had to retire because they grew too old.

 

You also have to keep the Blood Angels in mind, who (at least in GW's books) have their old age as a fairly important background trait. If no Marine would die of a natural death, this would essentially just make the Blood Angels the best Space Marines ever, as they manage to outlive all their brethren by several centuries.

 

Interesting bit about the Dreadnought sacrophagus, though! Do you remember the source, by any chance?

Edited by Lynata

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Interesting bit about the Dreadnought sacrophagus, though! Do you remember the source, by any chance?

 

Found it after all - it's Iron Soul by Phil Kelly, part of the Angels of Death series.

 

 

Where is that stated? When the 5E Marine Codex mentions Cassius being "the oldest active Ultramarine", it makes it sounds as if there are inactive Ultramarines as well -- meaning, ones who had to retire because they grew too old.

 

I distinctly remember reading it, but I have no idea where. I'll try to source it during the weekend.

 

You also have to keep the Blood Angels in mind, who (at least in GW's books) have their old age as a fairly important background trait. If no Marine would die of a natural death, this would essentially just make the Blood Angels the best Space Marines ever, as they manage to outlive all their brethren by several centuries.

 

Are you implying that you think they're not the best Marines ever? ;)

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Granted, I do assume that most Space Marines fall before reaching the biological lifespan mentioned in the 5E TT rulebook's fluff section simply because of the intensity of the battles they deploy in -- depending on how often the Chapter actually goes to war. Plus, as you get older, you probably get slower, too. Cassius' entry makes it sound as if he's only still around and kicking xeno arse because his withered, wrinkled body is half machine by now.

 

In many Chapters, it might even be considered shameful to retire rather than to fall in battle .. of course you don't want to die too soon either, but rather have a glorious last fight that makes your name live on in the Chapter annals. Maybe some Chapters even have traditions like glorious quests for veterans, or even suicide squads for specifically this purpose ...

 

Of course, that's still just one of many interpretations of the background though!

 

Are you implying that you think they're not the best Marines ever? ;)

 

Only the most fabulous. ;)

 

Although, to be fair, the WD short story about Tychus' death did gain them quite a bit of newfound respect from me. Very dramatic and bittersweet!

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Are you implying that you think they're not the best Marines ever? ;)

 

Only the most fabulous. ;)

 

emperor__s_child_by_lynxc-d4fbib5.png

 

You keep telling yourself that. ;)

 

Too much smuggery and ponce in a single image. Kill it! Kill it with fire and Angry Marines...who are on fire...wielding fire.

Edited by Calgor Grim

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if you read in the fluff at least 2 primarchs are still alive that would make them over 40k years ok, but I think that the Chapter master of the Blood angels and the one marine from the space wolves are the oldest "regular" marines.

 

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Are you implying that you think they're not the best Marines ever? ;)

Only the most fabulous. ;)

You keep telling yourself that. ;)

Too much smuggery and ponce in a single image. Kill it! Kill it with fire and Angry Marines...who are on fire...wielding fire.

 

Ahhh, a little island of /tg/ in the sea of Serious Business :D Anyway, the picture is just... wow, so much self-satisfaction. Nice one.

 

But to stray back to the original topic, Cassius' title of the oldest active Ultramarine can be just as easily de-constructed to mean he's the oldest Marine not entombed in a sarcophagus and stored in stasis - not to mention it's a bit hard to claim being the oldest, when Guilliman himself is on Macragge in a fridge :)

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If we count people in timeless stasis, it's not much of a question, though .. especially as the original topic was about active duty Space Marines.

 

Bonus nitpick: If you don't age in stasis, can you really get *older*? ;)

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If we count people in timeless stasis, it's not much of a question, though .. especially as the original topic was about active duty Space Marines.
 
Bonus nitpick: If you don't age in stasis, can you really get *older*? ;)

 

 

Chronologically, yes. Biologically, no. Stasis of course takes the subject out of their established timeline or freezes them. So while for Imperial bureaucrasy they would have been born a bloody long time ago would be the oldest in simple "years since birth", their biological age would still be the same as when they were first trapped in the field. Hence fun for administratum. Same would also apply for anyone stored in a tesseract labyrinth. There is no concept of time within the cube and therefore no concept of ageing, consciousness or existence. Anyone in there can be held for millenia till the days of the Emperors demise and yet on release still be as fresh faced as the day they were incarcerated. Stasis, gotta love it!

 

There is however one other branch of this debate we never explored, the Primarchs. A few of those are also considered MIA and in theory alive somewhere in the warp so they are also in our running.

 

Additionally isn't the Grey Cheese-Marine Knights Supreme chap Kaldor wandering around the warp kicking the teeth out of every daemon they find? They have probably a good thousand or so years on their clocks...

Edited by Calgor Grim

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