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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the genetically engineered Imperial troops. For other uses of Space Marine, see Space Marine (disambiguation).

They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe can best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear.
--The Emperor of Mankind.

Adeptus Astartes
Adeptus Astartes.jpg
Parent Agency Adeptus Terra
Headquarters Decentralized, various Fortress-Monasteries
Leader Decentralized, various Chapter Masters
Armed Forces ~1,000 Space Marine Chapters
Established Post-Horus Heresy, M31
(preceded by Legiones Astartes)

The Adeptus Astartes (commonly known as Space Marines, and colloquially as Angels of Death) are one of the most elite and feared fighting forces in the Imperium of Man. The primary unit of organisation is the Chapter, a self-contained army fully equipped with its own transport, non-combatant support staff, etc. There are around a thousand Chapters, each comprising a thousand Space Marines. There are far too few Space Marines to form the Imperium's main military forces; instead they operate as highly mobile strike forces. They are entrusted with the most dangerous missions, such as lightning raids behind enemy lines, infiltration, and tunnel fighting[5]. Through selection, training, and conditioning, Marines are physically, mentally, and spiritually superior to any other Imperial soldier.[4]


Space Marines battle the forces of Chaos[9]

Originating from the Thunder Warriors, the first Space Marines were created from the genetic material of the Primarchs after they were spirited away from the Emperor by the Gods of Chaos in the aftermath of the Unification Wars. Twenty Legions of Space Marines were created, each from the genetic material of a specific Primarch. The first Astartes were created only by the massive effort of the Emperor and countless Terran scientists of Amar Astarte's Biotechnical Division[24] who worked deep within the Himalazia Mountains. The original Astartes gene-seed was unstable and caused its subjects to degrade rapidly, but once it was stabilized by samples provided by newly rediscovered Primarchs, long-term stability was achieved.[13]

The Legions took part in the Great Crusade, during which the lost Primarchs were rediscovered and given command of their respective Legion. The Crusade, lasting for two centuries, ended with the treachery of one of the Primarchs, Horus, who led at least half of the Legions in a rebellion known as the Horus Heresy against the Emperor. In the final battle for control of the future of mankind, Horus was slain by the Emperor. With the rebellion defeated, those Legions which had sided with Horus were driven into the Eye of Terror.

The Legions which had remained loyal were eventually reorganised according to the dictates of the Codex Astartes, in the event known as the Second Founding. Each Legion was divided into several autonomous Chapters, which remain the primary unit of the Space Marines to the current day.

Successive foundings over the millennia have created new Chapters. There are now around a thousand Chapters in existence, each Chapter ultimately descending from one of the loyalist Legions. Later in the closing days of the 41st Millennium the resurrected Roboute Guilliman and his Mechanicum researchers oversaw the creation of a new generation of Astartes, known as the Primaris Space Marine.

To some extent, the Chapters maintain the traditions and character of the Legion they descend from. Chapters adhere to the Codex Astartes in differing degrees, some regarding any deviation from it as virtual heresy; others, notably the Black Templars, Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Dark Angels, only following the Codex in the broadest matters.[1][3b][5]


Organization of a Space Marine Chapter since the introduction of Primaris Space Marines[20]

The Adeptus Astartes is comprised of autonomous Chapters, each of which is a complete army in itself, possessing its own transport, Warp-capable spacecraft, non-combatant personnel, and fortress-monastery based on a planet or fleet. There are roughly a thousand Chapters, each led by a Space Marine with the rank of Chapter Master. A Chapter's fighting force numbers a nominal 1000 Marines, divided into ten companies, each of which is commanded by a Captain. Companies are further divided into squads of ten battle-brothers, each commanded by a Sergeant.[4]

The Chapter Masters owe their allegiance to the Emperor. Ultimately, the Chapter is subject to the orders of the highest-ranking among the Adeptus Terra, although only in a general sense.[6]

Chapters are monastic communities in nature; for most of the Marines, the Chapter is their world, and the only contact they have with outsiders is in battle.

Tactical Organisation

The traditional Codex Chapter is tactically organised into a number of different types of squad: Battleline Squads consist of either Tactical Squads or Primaris Intercessor Squads. Close Support Squads consist of either Assault Squads, Inceptor Squads, or Reiver Squads. Fire Support Squads consist of Devastator Squads, Desolation Squads, Hellblaster Squads, Eradicator Squads, or [29] Aggressor Squads. The squad types are equipped and trained to fulfill a specific battlefield role, each of the three types designed to complement each other on the battlefield to make a far more effective whole. In addition to these three squad types, veterans can be formed into Veteran or Terminator Squads, while the initiate Marines are formed into Scout squads.

Terminator squads are drawn from the entire chapter's best and most experienced warriors. The veterans wear the uniquely powerful Terminator Armour. These squads are formed when circumstances necessitate the concentration of the Chapter's most capable warriors and potent equipment into one or more heavily-armed and powerful units.[7]


Space Marine heraldry as per the Codex Astartes

All Space Marine Chapters loosely utilize the same types of ranks. Many non-Codex Astartes chapters, however, will often use different names for these positions.[14b]

  • Chapter Master — The highest attainable rank of Space Marine, commanding their entire Chapter.[14b]. Some Chapters, like the Iron Hands, do not maintain a Chapter Master.[15]
  • Captain — The second highest rank of a Chapter, they command a Company or its equivalent. Many Captains are given an honorific Master title.[14b]
  • Lieutenant — These serve as the right hand to their Company Captain, typically commanding one of the Company's two demi-companies.[18]
  • Sergeant — Command Squads within each Company. Sergeants within the Chapter's 1st Company are known as Veteran Sergeants.[14b]
  • Battle-Brother — Standard Space Marine rank for a fully inducted warrior. May include honorific duties such as Honour Guard, Company Champion, or Standard Bearer. The most experienced Battle-Brothers serve in the Chapter's 1st Company as Veteran Space Marines, who may wear ancient Terminator armor.[14b]
  • Vanguard Space Marine - Covert-operation experts typically drawn from the 10th Scout Company. A Chapter will normally maintain 100 of these specialists.
  • Neophyte — Space Marines in-training who have not become fully accepted Battle-Brothers. They are utilized in a Chapter's Scout Squads as a part of their training.[3a]
  • AspirantHumans selected to be inducted into a Chapter and undergo genetic modification.[4]

Specialist Ranks

In addition to their standard ranks, Space Marine Chapters also maintain a variety of specialist roles.[14a]

Chapter cult

A Chapter cult is an integral aspect of a Space Marine Chapter. Every Space Marine belongs to the Chapter's cult, and accordingly, every Marine of a Chapter is a spiritual brother as well as a brother in arms. These warrior cults emphasise honour, comradeship, and strength. Chapter cults, often thousands of years old, have each developed their own distinct traditions and in many cases these cults pre-date the Imperial Cult, the official religion of the Imperium. Each Space Marine cult is unique and autonomous, ministered by an inner priesthood of warriors known as Chaplains. The practices of Space Marine cults, rumored to be barbaric and bloody, serve to make Space Marines all the more feared by the mass of humanity.


A Firstborn Space Marine of the Ultramarines

The primary individual weapons of the Space Marines is the boltgun and its pistol variant, the bolt pistol.

The distinctive Power Armour is worn by all Marines in battle. Some members of the Chapter's first company may instead be armoured in the heavier Terminator Armour. Carapace armour is worn by Scouts instead of power armour. There is also a fourth type of armour called Artificer armour, worn by most Marines who have served three centuries for the Emperor or performed a notably brave action in battle.

Each Space Marines Chapters has its own distinguished color scheme. Unlike the Astra Militarum, Space Marines do not typically use camouflage because Adeptus Astartes combat doctrine does not follow the tactics of concealment in battles. Bright and bold color schemes lower enemy morale, announcing the arriving of the noble Chapter to the battlefield. The exceptions to the main colors may still exist for some of the Chapter's Companies - for example Deathwing company of the Dark Angels Chapter use white color scheme and the Raven wing — black.[17]

In the same time Chapter's vehicles may be painted in different colors until the large bands of areas painted in the Chapter colors.[17]

Recruitment and Training

Recruits are chosen from the best warriors among humanity. Naturally, this makes Feral Worlds prized recruitment grounds, as such harsh and primal conditions produce the best warriors. However, Hive Worlds are considered the ideal source of potential recruits, the populace of the lower levels composed of some of the most murderous scum in the human Imperium. Whole gangs of hive scum are sometimes hunted down and captured for recruitment. Among the most valued traits in a recruit are aggression and psychotic-level killer instinct. Much more rarely, certain Civilised Worlds are also recruited from.[4][6]

The potential recruit is first subjected to testing, including tissue compatibility tests and psychological screening. Relatively few get past this initial selection process. Those that do pass are termed "neophytes", and the process continues with the surgery, indoctrination, conditioning, and training that will make them Marines.

The surgical process takes a great deal of time. The recruit receives implants, along with chemical- and hypnotherapy, and training necessary for allowing the functioning and development of the implanted organs. The implants transform their bodies and minds and give them inhuman abilities - making them capable of spitting acidic venom, absorbing the memories of the dead by eating their flesh, darkening their skin to protect it from radiation, and operating for long periods without sleep by switching off parts of their brains at a time. After this implantation process and the associated training, the recruit becomes an "initiate".

Intense indoctrination and conditioning strengthens the recruit's resolve and increases mental capabilities, honing them into dedicated and merciless warriors. After more general training, they join the Chapter as full "brothers".[2]

Daily Routine

Space Marines have very organised daily routines including combat training, prayer, and indoctrination sessions with very little free time. This lends itself well to the disciplined and monastic nature of the Space Marines.

Primaris Space Marine

A Primaris Space Marine of the Ultramarines Chapter[22]

In the closing days of the 41st Millennium the Imperium was able to field a new generation of Space Marine thanks to the efforts of Roboute Guilliman and Belisarius Cawl. Known as the Primaris Space Marine, they have been distributed among the many loyalist Chapters. Since the introduction of Primaris Space Marines, the original template Space Marines are referred to as Firstborn.[21]

Notable Active Space Marines

Space Marine deployments.
Space Marine of the Ultramarines in Power Armour

See also


Modern Imperial Organizations
Adeptus Terra Adeptus Administratum (Adeptus AstartesDepartmento MunitorumAstra MilitarumOrdo TempestusImperial FleetImperial NavyMerchant FleetPraeses MercaturaNavis NobiliteOfficio AssassinorumEstate ImperiumTemplars PsykologisOfficio SabatorumOfficio MedicaeOfficio AgricultaeOfficio LogisticarumDepartmento ExactaAstra CartographicaLogis StrategosDepartmento ColoniaDepartmento ProcessiumDepartmento of Final ConsiderationDepartmento ContagioDepartmento GradioQuestio LogisticusRogue TradersImperial Commanders) • Adeptus Astra Telepathica (Sisters of SilenceLeague of Black ShipsScholastica Psykana) • Adeptus AstronomicaAdeptus ArbitesAdeptus CustodesQuestor Imperialis (House Guard) • Adeptus FidiciusSynopticon
Adeptus Mechanicus Cult MechanicusCollegia TitanicaLegiones SkitariiQuestor Mechanicus (House Guard) • Centurio OrdinatusOrdo ReductorLegio CyberneticaAuxilia MyrmidonPrefecture MagisteriumBasilikon AstraDivisio LinguisticaExploratorSect Missionarius MechanicusCollegiate ExtremisAstynomia
Adeptus Ministorum Holy SynodAdepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) • Schola ProgeniumMissionarius GalaxiaCreed TemporalFrateris Militia
Inquisition Ordo MalleusOrdo HereticusOrdo XenosOrdo Minoris