Imperial Space Marines
Potential Space Marines are recruited from cultures with strong warrior ethics at an early age and subjected to a rigorous training program that is often deadly for recruits. Biological modifications are applied to the recruits as they survive increasingly dangerous levels of training, with the most expensive and difficult operations performed only after the recruits have completed their basic training. The result is a "special operations" trained soldier with a variety of superhuman attributes, including the following:
- Superhuman strength, speed, endurance, and resistance to injury
- Enhanced senses of sight, hearing, smell, and taste
- Reduced need for sleep
- The ability to neutralize many poisons
- The ability to digest nearly anything organic
- Poisonous secretions in the saliva that can be spit or even used to degrade metal objects (such as handcuffs) over time
Space Marines wear power armor that gives them substantial protection from both weapon attacks and harsh environments. The suits are sealed against chemical and biological agents, and they have internal air and nutrient supplies that permit extended operation even in vacuum. The armor also protects them from sensory overloads such as blinding flashes or deafening explosions. The headgear includes communications gear and additional sensory enhancements, such as light-intensification and infrared optics.
The standard weapon of Space Marines is the bolter, a weapon that fires self-propelled, armor-piercing shells that explode inside their targets to spread flechettes. Every Space Marine also carries some kind of close combat weapon, from a simple knife to advanced swords, axes, and hammers that wrap their blades in destructive energy fields. Typical Marine squads also carry support weapons like flame throwers, missile launchers, laser cannons, or heavy bolters (a heavy machinegun based on bolt rifle technology). They possess a highly versatile arsenal of weapons, allowing them to adapt to nearly any situation.
Space Marine Terminators
Terminators are the elite of the elite Space Marines. Having distinguished themselves in battle, these veteran Space Marines are equipped with Tactical Dreadnaught Armor that is even stronger and more durable than the power armor routinely worn by Space Marines. Although not as agile, they are extremely difficult to injure and can carry heavier weaponry than their conventional Space Marine counterparts.
Imperial Space Marine chapters are monastic orders that dedicate their lives to training and meditation. While they revere the Emperor of Mankind as their creator, many do not worship him as a god. Most chapters also revere the Primarch of their chapter almost as highly, or even more highly, than the Emperor himself. These aspects of their faith often trouble the Imperial Cult and the Inquisition.
Absurd though it may sound, a Space Marine chapter is generally considered at full strength when it has a mere one thousand Space Marines in it's ranks, although there are exceptions to this rule (such as the Space Wolves). The head of a Space Marine Chapter is generally called a Chapter Master. Chapters are normally divided into ten Companies. Other notable positions in Space Marine chapters are Tech Marines (Space Marines trained by the Adeptus Mechanicus to serve as mechanics and engineers), Apothecaries (Space Marine medics who are also responsible for the Geneseed of a chapter), Librarians (Space Marine psykers who also keep chapter records) and Chaplains (Space Marine religious/spiritual leaders). Most Space Marine chapters follow a set of protocols and traditions known as the Codex Astartes laid out by the Ultramarine Primarch Roboute Guilliman.
Loyalty and dedication to the Imperium are the highest ideals taught in Space Marine chapters. Even so, entire chapters of Space Marines have occasionally become corrupt and turned against the Imperium. Other chapters consider this the most despicable form of treachery and treat the destruction of traitor chapters as their special responsibility.
Rivalry between loyal Space Marine chapters is also common, and they will often compete with each other or even engage in battles with each other over points of honor.
While technically answerable to the Administratum and Inquisition, Space Marine chapters often pursue their own agendas and will make their own decisions about how best to deploy their forces when called to action.
Every Space Marine chapter has its own fleet of starships so they can respond immediately to military emergencies. The armament of Space Marine warships is typically designed more for planetary bombardment than ship-to-ship combat, but they are still formidable in space combat.
A typical chapter of the Imperial Space Marines has control of an entire planet. The citizens of the planet typically serve as the chapter's recruiting base, as well as the economic and industrial base for supplying the chapter's weapons and ammunition. In addition to the marines themselves, each chapter employs a fair number of "serfs" for various tasks, such as operating their facilities and providing the rank and file of spacecraft crew.
A planetary base of operations is not universal. Several chapters, including the Black Templars and the Blood Ravens, operate from their fleet of starships, recruiting and resupplying from Imperial planets they visit during their travels. The Ultramarines, on the other hand, control several star systems around their homeworld, and the fortress-monastery of the Dark Angels is a fragment of a shattered planet that can be piloted from system to system.