The Boss nudged me and mentioned perhaps he could use 2000 words on the chapters of the Space Marines that maybe should never be infused with companies of Primaris Marines. Ones that should, to use his words… never grow up. Sure! And the first thing I think is… What’s a Primaris Marine? My noobness is showing again. So time to delve into backstory once more!
And the first thing I find is that while Space Marines come in what I consider to be several different models, IE: Salamanders, Imperial Fists, Raven Guard, Gray Templars, etc… I didn’t know they came in different MAKES as well. Cos while the original Astartes space marines were biologically implanted with something like 19 gene seed organs. these more robust Primaris space marines had 22. This was to make them a lot more resilient against mutation, and of course harder faster stronger like the song goes.
Ohhhhh, I thought. Well, that explains the big hoo-hah about the new Vanguard Space Marines I saw in the last month in the Warhammer Community pages. They’re the ‘brand new 41k Space Marine, now with extra organs for toughness!‘ hotness. It turns out that in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, before the Primarch Roboute Guilliman died, he set Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl to work on improving the design of the Emperor’s Space Marines on Mars. Well, fast forward ten-thousand years to 41K and you have the result of these Martian-developed Marines: the Primaris.
To match these upgraded versions of already upgraded human warriors, they were given bigger badder armor. They got mo’ betta’ guns and vehicles to go after the forces of chaos with. And a bunch of newer chapters of Space Marines were created that were JUST these newer tougher Primaris Marines. However, the Primaris were also seeded in the existing chapters and ranks of the Astartes. And a lot of those guys were like, “NEW HOTNESS BATTLE BROTHERS! AWESOMES! WELCOME-WELCOME! LET’S GO CELEBRATE WITH SOME CRUSADING!”
And there were others… that were not so much about the new hotness. And that’s human. No one likes being out-evolved or replaced in the evolutionary sense. (SEE: The X-Men vs. Humanity.) But emissaries of Emperor Pyrrhus (whom I will keep calling that) essentially asked these reluctant chapters, “Are you actually refusing the Emperor’s will?” Which for the most part put an end to that.
The new chapters went out to the lines at the rift and much kicking of daemonic ass commenced. Chapters like the Ultramarines and the Crimson Fists were pretty much, “BROTHERS! WELCOME TO THE PARTY!” and there was much rejoicing. (yaaaay.) And at this point, Cawl goes back to Mars to work on even more Primaris improvements and new chapters. He’s also working on the idea of upgrading EXISTING Astartes to the new Primaris standard. And the Astartes are a bit divided and iffy about that too. The Chapter Master of the Ultramarines volunteered himself for that and died for a bit in the process, but ultimately survived.
So while all the original Astartes might eventually be destined for replacement by attrition, it may be that upgrades eventually sunset the Astartes project if the Primaris work out. And they do seem to be working out. More and more of the ‘firstborn‘ Astartes are ‘Crossing the Primaris Rubicon‘ and undergoing the traumatic upgrade process. Some I wouldn’t even expect. I’d’ve thought the Raven Guard wouldn’t have wanted to try upgrades at all, given their last failure with accelerated replenishment programs. And I certainly wouldn’t have thought the Iron Hands would have gone in for it given their disdain for the weaknesses of the flesh. But here’s the Chapter Master of the Ravens and the Iron Father of the Iron Hands, both successfully ascended to Primaris.
So ‘Torchbearer‘ ships were sent out to the homeworlds of the marine chapters that Cawl upgraded with their primarch’s upgraded gene seed. “Here guys! Here’s all the machinery we need to install so your new recruits can be Primaris from the get go. Here’s examples of some of your upgraded model we made on Mars. If you want to hop on the slab and try to see if you can survive the upgrade, we can do that for ya too! Here’s yer future folks! EMBRACE IT!”
However… some of the more UNUSUAL chapters did not get the Primaris upgrade/influx.
And I suppose that makes sense. Your Noobness here is learning about how the flaws in different chapters’ gene seeds kind of individualize these chapters and how they participate in the forever war. And I haven’t looked into the ALL flaws of some of these chapters. Up until now, I’ve been seeing chapters like the Salamanders, and the Ravens and generally, chapters that seemed to mostly benefit from the quirks of their gene seeds. But some of the flaws in some chapters… you don’t really want to see those communicated to bigger nastier versions of themselves?
So now that I’ve got that part under my belt, and can consider the matter with context, let’s look into some of the chapters you might never want to get the hot Primaris injection.
THE CURSED 21st FOUNDING
This is a thing I’m also not entirely familiar with, but the internet is a wonderful thing, innit folks? So… as it turns out in the 36th Millennium, the Adeptus Mechanicus was trying to do what the folks on Mars were doing in creating an improved gene seed. One without the flaws. And… they went up something of an evolutionary blind alley. Ohh, this did not work out well for them. And it resulted in some SERIOUSLY genetically flawed Marine chapters. And these chapters are kind of looked down on by other chapters. Shunned even; which is a shame since these fellas are no less loyal or worthy of the Space Marine title. More or less… I mean, okay. TWO of these chapters went straight up chaotic traitor. But the rest were quite loyal despite their disfiguring mutations.
You’ve got chapters like the Black Dragons, who grow great big bone blades on their arms and heads, and they’ve got poisonous fangs. (I guess they take their helmets off to bite folk.) Then you’ve got the Minotaurs, who make the more well-known xenophobia of better known chapters seem TAME by comparison. These guys are prone to berserker rages and enjoy hunting down renegade marine chapters just a bit TOO MUCH, since they’re always after worthy foes… like other Space Marines. These fellas are the equivalent of genetically berserk Spartans with zealously radical loyalty only to the High Lords of Terra. So no. Let’s not make Super-Minotaurs, thank you.
You’ve also got the Blood Angel-descended Lamenters who just have… obscenely bad luck? To the degree that they were shunned by most as “CURSED”. To the degree that other chapters kind of turned up their noses at their brothers. (Superstitious much, Astartes?) This eventually caused the Lamenters to side with a traitor legion that had afforded them respect in the past. Which the Lamenters were NOT used to. The Lamenters were cleared, but they’re haven’t been replenished with new recruits until recently, and are down to about 400 left. Which were sent on a Penitent’s Crusade to make up for their bad judgement. Which is too bad since to a LARGE degree they’re more resistant to the Blood Angels’ ‘Red Thirst‘ and ‘Black Rage‘ problems. They are a bit more emo than most. And given their track record, you’d be melancholy too! Anyway, if the Blood Angels are worthy of the Primaris program, then so are the Lamenters. Hell, they’ll probably jump at the chance, if only to replenish their diminished numbers. And a Torchbearer ship was sent out to em. So we’ll see.
And then I’m seeing the Sons of Antaeus… (NO IMAGE FOUND??) and honestly… they’re just big-boned. No, really. The only thing ‘wrong‘ with these fellas is that they seem a bit too big, robust and indestructable. And it reminds other chapters too much of the traitor Death Guard legion, I guess? So if anyone’s going to get the Primaris upgrade in the less popular chapters, I’d think the Sons might be pretty nicely worthy. You could call em the Un-numbered Sons of Antaeus! Hah! Lookit me. The noob knows enough to make a punny portmanteau! But really, I always have a soft spot for the underdog. And these guys seem like they could use a little love. THEY certainly don’t see themsleves as cursed. I’d imagine they’d welcome more marines as big an stronk as they are.
THE 13th COMPANY
It was also suggested to me these folks aren’t the best candidates for the Primaris program. But this one also includes the Space Wolves chapter, which I had the impression was a well-known and well-liked chapter. So let’s me read up and see why that might be a bad idea…
FREAKING SPACE WEREWOLVES!!
Well, they’re POTENTIAL and later still EVENTUAL Space Werewolves. This is a whole chapter with a genetic predisposition to hyper-acute senses, but are prone to succumbing to a this lupine predisposition to mutate into Wulfen. (TM GW Misspelling 2019.) Add to that, the 13th company of the Wolves disappeared into the warp for a bit and came back. And one of the big rules about the 13th company among the Wolves is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE 13th COMPANY’S REASONS. That… and the 13th company are essentially a company that have become mostly Wulfen. So… SPACE WEREWOLVES who’ve had prolonged exposure to The Warp.
I can see why you would not want to make Space Werewolves MUCH BIGGER AND MORE DANGEROUS with the Primaris treatment.
THE LEGION OF THE DAMNED
So wait… I thought these guys were the Fire Hawks. What’s the matter with them that- GREAT EMPEROR’S GHOST!!!
Okay. Well, first, how would you even SEND a Torchbearer ship out to these fellas… they live in some kind of weirdspace between Normal Space and The Warp. These fellas just SHOW UP in the most hopeless situations out of literal Limbo, and save people in the direst straights. Allegedly these are successors of the Ultramarine chapter who disappeared into the Warp and never came back. But still show up and fight for the Emperor, despite being mutated by The Warp out of all recognition.
I mean these guys are the space marine equivalent of a direct cross of the Crew of the Flying Dutchman, maybe a bit of the Nazgul and Ghost Rider. Straight up should be dead, but they’re not. Should be possessed by Chaos, but they’re not. Should totally be way insane and not Imperial Loyalists. Well… the sanity’s debatable, but TOTALLY LOYAL! As a matter of fact, the more they fight, the more suicidally insane they get. So attrition will eventually end the haunted legend of the Legion of the Damned. But for the moment, it’s a spook story space marines MIGHT tell their cadets. One that happens to be real.
These fellows USED to be the Fire Hawks, who were yet another chapter of that ‘cursed‘ 21st founding in the 36th Millennium.
But whether these guys are ghosts, mutated survivors of the Fire Hawks after their ship was claimed by the Warp, or maybe even just an ectoplasmic extensions of the Emperor’s will, there’s corroborated record of their interventions. In any case, this is a moot point when it comes to the Primaris Program. How do you put a mutant ghost on the upgrade table?
HORUS HERESY MARINES
And finally, we get to some of the first marines. Ones from before they were broken up into chapters by Guilliman. Ones that would remember the Emperor and his works personally. These would be Chapters with EXTREMELY old Marines in them who’d be very, very traditionalist in their views. You’re talking about indoctrinated soldiers who’ve been alive and fighting a war 5 times longer than the 20 centuries worth of history we’ve been keeping in western society. They’re gonna have way past fanatical ideas about what should and should not be. And they’re especially going to have ideas about what a Space Marine should and should not be.
And they’re going to be awfully suspicious of ANYTHING coming out of Mars like the Primaris. THEY would remember all the stuff that went down in the 36th Millennium with the 21st founding. And they’re going to be the first ones who are going to point at the Primaris and go, “These creatures are a PERVERSION of the Emperor’s work by rogue Techmarines who should know their place. And hey, they very much didn’t have all the Emperor’s notes to work from when they were coming up with these new organs they’re putting in the space marines these days.”
There’s the upgrade program that some of the chapter and company leaders are going through to show their marines they’re willing to do it for the Emperor, and that it should be done. But older traditionalist marines are gonna be strategically leery of that too. The upgrade process is far from perfect, and might kill more than it upgrades just at a time when the Imperium can’t afford to lose any. Much less a success rate of slightly less than 40%. I read something like a 61% failure rate when they converted the head of the Ultramarines.
So this may be a move that’s considered rash, disrespectful, or downright heretical by the older more traditionalist chapters who cannot evolve with the needs of the Imperium. And that’s human too. As many people that are going to say “STICK THE ORGANS IN ME MAN!” there’s going to be as many who point, cross themselves and start chanting ‘HER-E-TIC! HER-E-TIC!‘ It’s a sad commentary on the species… but the whole game setting is pretty sad in theme and thesis. The idea of the Primaris to me is a hopeful one. One that shows the continued evolution of the story and the concept and the people within it. And if things can still change… I can hope that things can still change for the better.
-Edward WinterRose is a 48th Level Geek, who finds nothing more useless than a plot that goes nowhere. And given the opportunity would upgrade out of the meat he was born into in a heartbeat.