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darksabrz

Marine Gender?

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This thread is really more about marine sex than marine gender. You could theoretically have a transgendered marine, I just doubt such an Aspirant would be accepted for full implantation as it would probably be really difficult for their mind.

 

I'd say Space Marines are effectively 'genderless'. They are so heavily modified, physically and psychologically, as to barely qualify as human, and, being optimized for combat, traditional aspects of gender identity (i.e. things not related to combat) are meaningless.

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Traditional aspects of gender identity (which themselves are social constructs/norms) aside, Astartes are full humans with personalities, goals, beliefs, etc. They feel pride and shame keenly and a lot of the stories about them revolve around this. Treating them as just murderbots would make for a really boring game and would devalue the emotional reasons that led several of the Traitor Legions to turn in the first place.

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Traditional aspects of gender identity (which themselves are social constructs/norms) aside, Astartes are full humans with personalities, goals, beliefs, etc. They feel pride and shame keenly and a lot of the stories about them revolve around this. Treating them as just murderbots would make for a really boring game and would devalue the emotional reasons that led several of the Traitor Legions to turn in the first place.

 

I think this is a huge point.

 

This is one of the main reasons this RPG is set within the Deathwatch and not a specific Astartes Chapter. It allows development, conflict and resolution between characters. Furthermore, the various personalities of Marines are evident in basically any novel I have ever read regarding 40k. While some may appear to be murderbots, the vast majority are not represented as such, regardless of how many times the Lexicanum and Core Rules stress their hypnoindoctrination and genetic modifications.

 

They are still human, albeit superhuman. They still learn and grow from their experiences and do not stagnate in their adaptability. I believe this is a centerpiece of human personality and development. Sure, some Astartes may be sociopathic or psychopathic, such as regular society, but there are also great leaders and philosophers and passionate men among them.

 

If they weren`t so varied, the game would be boring as all hell.

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Given how the fluff in 40k works, Marines are as emotional or stunted as the individual gamer/reader wants them to be. The available material certainly supports both directions, with the various novels generally featuring a more humane portrayal (as the author undoubtedly wants the reader to better sympathise with the protagonist .. or, as pearldrum1 mentioned, "the game would be boring"). They are certainly being brainwashed and, depending on the Chapter, live rather ascetic monastic lifes, yet at the same time they all had what goes for a normal childhood on their homeworld and keep collecting experiences and memories that may well shape their character.

 

Personally, I generally shoot for the happy medium between the various portrayals (there is a sweet spot between "cardboard cutout" and "too human") and consider Indoctrinated Imperials like Marines, Commissars or Sisters a similar roleplaying challenge as Xenos (and indeed an argument could be made for all of them having their own distinct culture that would seem "alien" to a normal human), but this is really one of those questions where everyone has to find their own comfort zone.

 

That being said, let's not forget the Primarchs who these Space Marines idolise and emulate - and how the Horus Heresy was, in the end, merely the result of an emotional compromise, and of posthuman beings acting in a very human way. ;)

Edited by Lynata

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I have a very simple solution I've used for introducing female characters into Deathwatch: Create the characters exactly same as any other Marine, but lore-wise consider them to be Sisters of Battle.

 

Seriously. When you think of this there is no downsides. Sisters of Battle characters detailed in Dark Heresy supplements are ruleswise designed to work in game which is fundamentally different both ruleswise and storywise from Deathwatch. Integrating them into Deathwatch will create rulesproblems and also be inequeal because the SoB characters would have access to ten times as many skills and talents as Space Marines do at same experience level. So it really would require too much work. Creating a "female space marine chapter" or changing fluff to fill all chapters with female marines would fundamentally change many things in the existing lore and open up a huge number of questions which were, in original lore, irrelevant. Sure, as a GM you can provide all the answer to the myriad questions of "are there female chapter masters? I want one 'cause she is my characters hero", "do the female and male marines get intimate with each other?", "are marine babies born with black carapace?", "are there differences in male and female power armour?", but why would you go through all those man-hours of work to write new lore to accommodate all those changes to the original setting when the original setting already has Adepta Sororitas? 

 

Think about it: The rules are there simply to allow you to tell a story. In Deathwatch the focus of the story is a bunch of badass warriors who kill stuff and save worlds. Thats what the Deathwatch rules are for. Sisters of Battle are badass warriors who kill stuff and save worlds. So use the rules that let them do that.

 

The genre I GM most with is running historical campaigns. Basically anything from ancient rome to 17th century early american settlers to World War II. My group has two regular female players who prefer female characters and a couple of players who play male or female regardless of their own gender (one is female, one is male if you need to know). I've never, ever yet changed the history in the campaigns and declare that, for example, 17th century english settlers had female soldiers in their militia army. I simply haven't had any need for it as I've always found a way to accomodate characters by other, more in-world, means if I need to.

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...`female space marine chapter" or changing fluff to fill all chapters with female marines would fundamentally change many things in the existing lore and open up a huge number of questions which were, in original lore, irrelevant. Sure, as a GM you can provide all the answer to the myriad questions of "are there female chapter masters? I want one 'cause she is my characters hero", "do the female and male marines get intimate with each other?", "are marine babies born with black carapace?", "are there differences in male and female power armour?",

 

 

I used the Omega Vault as my excuse and I did not get any of these questions or related problem. Truth be told, it worked out incredibly smoothly in my game. Because, to the world at large no one knows they exist. It is a Deathwatch Only secret. A sexy sexy secret.

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I agree with Polaria - that's just the most elegant option I can see. Coincidentally, the Sisters of Battle are structured in much the same way as an Astartes Chapter and use the same kind of gear (with a few notable exceptions, especially when it comes to Assault Marines vs Seraphim, or the Marines' larger list of heavy weapons), so the different classes should translate nicely and with a minimum of fuss.

 

What I would do differently would be to take away the Unnatural stats and instead give them True Faith from DH's Inquisitor's Handbook, just to preserve the differences that exist between the armies. Ideally, this would result in a good group synergy: the Marines are more durable and cause slightly more damage in close combat, whereas the Sisters can use their faith for personal temporary boosts, be equally useful in ranged combat, and have their melee specialists jump in and out of CC.

 

If a GM were willing to invest some time in additional tweaking, there's also the option of adopting the Faith system from GW's Inquisitor game for use in Deathwatch.

 

Man, this actually makes me want to whip up and propose a quick set of houserules to better distinguish the different armies' identities. The topic does seem to come up often enough. :)

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Traditional aspects of gender identity (which themselves are social constructs/norms) aside, Astartes are full humans with personalities, goals, beliefs, etc. They feel pride and shame keenly and a lot of the stories about them revolve around this. Treating them as just murderbots would make for a really boring game and would devalue the emotional reasons that led several of the Traitor Legions to turn in the first place.

 

I agree. I wasn't implying that lacking gender-specific identity traits = mindless killbot; just that gender-specific aspects of personality, such as persuit of romantic love, are replaced by other traits , such as idolization of their Primarch, in Space Marines.

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I wouldn't model female Astartes on SoBs, fluff-wise. Astartes Chapter Cults view the Emperor in an entirely different light than the Imperial Creed followed by the Sororitas. Longstanding female or mixed-sex Astartes Chapters would be just as likely to have a very divergent Chapter Cult view of the Emperor as opposed to the divine view professed by the Creed.

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Astartes Chapter Cults view the Emperor in an entirely different light than the Imperial Creed followed by the Sororitas.

 

*coughBlackTemplarscough*  ;)

 

But you are right - Chapter culture has nothing to do with gender and could be anything, just like with the "normal" Astartes. If I would ever think about creating a female Chapter (which admittedly is not very likely), I'd probably let them be atheists as well simply because that is the majority view. They are Space Marines - male or female stops having any meaning upon recruitment.

Edited by Lynata

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Astartes Chapter Cults view the Emperor in an entirely different light than the Imperial Creed followed by the Sororitas.

 

*coughBlackTemplarscough*  ;)

 

But you are right - Chapter culture has nothing to do with gender and could be anything, just like with the "normal" Astartes. If I would ever think about creating a female Chapter (which admittedly is not very likely), I'd probably let them be atheists as well simply because that is the majority view. They are Space Marines - male or female stops having any meaning upon recruitment.

 

That must be a 6e change to the BTs. That hasn't been their presentation in the fluff before now.

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It still surprises me that the Black Templars venerate the Emperor as a God. Especially since they are Second Founding and have roots back to the days when the Primarchs still lived (well some of them), and would have been very keen to the facts of the Emperor`s original plans for the galaxy - Especially with Dorn still being around. I don`t imagine Dorn would have just shrugged it off and been like, `Well, screw it. He IS a god. Successor chapters, worship him!` Nor would I imagine any of the chapter masters do the same.

 

But perhaps, like all religion, the original message gets dulled down and diluted so much over time that the dictates of a few mortal souls become canon.

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The BT belief in emperors divinity is described very clearly in current Codex (p.51 top). Its mentioned that unlike other Astartes Black Templars worship Emperor as a divinity and it is unknown when or why exactly they started to do so.

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Yuck. How awful. That completely changes the Chapter culture of the BTs in a way that bores me. I don't know who to blame so I'll default to Matt Ward. Just gonna ignore that for my table and any BTs I might play anywhere in the future. Not feeling bound to the changing whims of wargame fluff for the RPG product.

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Yuck. How awful. That completely changes the Chapter culture of the BTs in a way that bores me.

 

I have to admit that I'm not an expert on Black Templar fluff but I did check out Index Astartes from 2002 and the 4th edition Codex from 2005 and did not find any significant changes to Black Templar culture to the recnt 2013 Codex. Even in Index Astartes the Black Templars are religious fanatics:

 

"Extremity of Black Templars' faith is often described as fanatical, almost rabid!"

"As part of their dedication to the Emperor, the Black Templars swear fell oaths of faith and protection."

"They will mercilessly wipe out populations of worlds to expunge the sin of heresy."

 

The 2005 Codex paints the same picture:

 

"To admit defeat is to blaspheme against Emperor."

"There is only Emperor, and he is our shield and protector."

"The Black Tempars are crusaders, holy warriors battling to bring the truth and light of the emperor to unconquered worlds of the galaxy. Converting masses with the sword of the Master of Mankind and desrtoying those that refuse to welcome His rule."

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To have the Black Templars worship the Emperor as a real divinity makes perfect sense to me though.

Just not my preferred flavor for Astartes, is all, especially Second Founding Astartes.

 

Polaria, those are good quotes, I don't think they necessarily exist to put the "GOD" in God-Emperor for the BTs as much as to show their mindset on combat, especially considering how divergent they are from the Fists.

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They always had a very religious tone to them - from their very name (templars? as in .. temple?) to their insignia all the way to their rites with the praying and the Emperor's Champion.

 

It is less of a change and more of a "coming out", in a way.

 

Take one of the quotes Polaria has kindly provided, for example:

"To admit defeat is to blaspheme against the Emperor."

= blasphemy: things said against god or a religion [from wiktionary]

 

I did notice that a number of 40k players have come up with their own interpretation of the Templars, depicting them as just as much or even more worldly and atheist than the majority of the other Chapters, using the previously existing lack in clarity to support their own ideas. Now GW has, for whatever reason, opted to make it more clearly - so we witness resistance against what is perceived by many to be a "retcon" when it was just GW reasserting what the writers meant the Templars to be.

 

It should be noted, however, that this does not have to mean anything for the Deathwatch RPG and/or your various groups, however. Apart from there generally being no such thing as a uniformly consistent canon, FFG has already proven that they are willing to break with studio material on certain details of fluff. I don't necessarily see the Templars changing in any supplement books to DW - but even if they would, you could certainly just ignore it.

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Lynata, this is exactly how I figured it. As far as I remembered Black Templars had been pretty religious minded right from the starts. But then I asked around in Warseer if anyone remembered any fluff to contradict their belief in Emperors divinity and someone digged up this quote:

 

The Emperor was immortal and mighty beyond reckoning. But he was no god. Mankind - in its blessed ignorance - worshiped him as one. Yet false gods cannot answer prayers. How tempting it must seem to those sects and societies far from Terra to seek other answers when pleading with the Emperor brings only silence.

 

Now the interesting thing about that is that there we have a novel written in 2013 (so current fluff) and set in M41 (so no Norus Heresy stuff) with high ranking Templar (Grimaldus himself) specifically denying Emperors divinity...

Edited by Polaria

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Imagine the confusion of someone new to the conversation clicking on the topic 'Space Marine Gender' only to find a discussion of Black Templar fluff. ;)

 

The software designer who comes up with a way to turn divergent Forum posts into their own separate threads will make millions.

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Lynata, this is exactly how I figured it. As far as I remembered Black Templars had been pretty religious minded right from the starts. But then I asked around in Warseer if anyone remembered any fluff to contradict their belief in Emperors divinity and someone digged up this quote:

 

The Emperor was immortal and mighty beyond reckoning. But he was no god. Mankind - in its blessed ignorance - worshiped him as one. Yet false gods cannot answer prayers. How tempting it must seem to those sects and societies far from Terra to seek other answers when pleading with the Emperor brings only silence.

 

Now the interesting thing about that is that there we have a novel written in 2013 (so current fluff) and set in M41 (so no Norus Heresy stuff) with high ranking Templar (Grimaldus himself) specifically denying Emperors divinity...

 

That quote is from the novel? Well, not too surprising - in the end, novel authors are just like ordinary fans in that they have their own ideas about the setting, and that they may often deviate from what it says in a codex ... especially when it was not very clear or "common knowledge". FFG's books are another good example here. Aside from the different version of the Deathwatch, did anyone notice how the Daemon Hammer supplement does feature the Dreadknight, but ignores the Warp Sorcery that was added to the Grey Knights' background?

 

It may be that, in the future, most novel authors will actually follow suit whenever writing about the Black Templars, simply because even though technically all fluff is equally valid, GW will probably always be regarded as a little special simply due to its role as the "parent studio" and the focus on codices. But there could always be some who don't agree - note, for example, how Aaron Debski-Bowden still intentionally (by his own words) writes the Night Lords as having painted lightning bolts on their armour, rather than it being actual lightning as the newest CSM codex states.

(for what it's worth, in this case I actually agree with the novelist rather than the codex ... :P)

The new Space Marine Codex, however, is still fairly "fresh" and was published just about a month(?) ago, so nobody was even aware of this new clarity (unless GW would have pre-emptively contacted them) up until now.

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