Philip Sibbering

Space Marine Tactical Gear


The standard tactical kit for a Space Marine is far in advance of anything we have today, and elevates each Marine to the power as a one man APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) or IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) but in a (large) human sized package with superior mobility. There armour is powered to offset it's own weight and boost strength and provides exceptional protection given their relative size. Their weapons systems are potent, the humble Bolter giving each Marine the firepower of a light tank. The following description of gear make use of definitions and concepts found in the Adeptus Mechanicus articles.

Powered Exoskeleton

Power armour comes in many forms and grades, from simple loaders to full tactical combat suits. All share a common technological base, with design roots stretching back to the 21th century. The Adeptus Astartes are clothed in the most sophisticated power armour available to any warrior of the Imperium, forming a symbiotic relationship between the Marines modified physiology and the suit's life support and sensor systems. To a Marine the armour is like a second skin, it feels like his own body.

Armour superstructure

An Adamantium (CerMet) jointed superstructure, with inner skin (second hull) Plasteel bracing with MWB anchors, and Ceraform (ceramite) ablative armour plates. The Marine's armour is superior in effectiveness to modern day APC/ IFV. APCs like the M113 which have 12-28mm aluminium alloy armour, whereas the Marine's armour is more akin to Cobham Armour found on main battle tanks (but thinner. The shoulders are up to 4" /100mm thick, (a T34 has 70mm, Tiger 100mm), so a Marine has similar protection to a single seat humanoid medium tank!

This advanced armour allows the Marine to endure tremendous volumes of fire, even heavy auto-cannon hits (25mm chain gun 'Bushmaster') in order to close and engage the enemy. Marines are incredibly tough to take down, and most weapons that can do the job are too clumsy to hit a fast and relatively small Marine. Combined with the Bolter weapon system, the Marine the toughest infantry in 40K!

MWBs (under-suit)

Text (Biology/ Muscle Wire Bundles)

Text (Input/ power)

Text (Attaching to exo)

Text (Gel/ self clean)

Text (Backpack Interface)

Backpack [Life-Support]

An ecosystem in a pack. Also known as (Eco-Pack/ Terra-Pack/ Biome-Pack/ Vita-Pack/ LS-Pack ( Life Support)). The micro plasma core provides the 'sun' in a complex artificial environment that reprocesses all the waste generated by the Marine providing full life support for extended missions. The back pack has to be quite large in order to offset the waste produced by the Marine, and as the Marine is quite a compact and advanced bio-system there is little scope to further reduce the size of the backpack eco-system.

Recycled Air: Artificial bio-crystal organs are pumped full of photons form the core to expose micro cells full of autotrophic genetically engineered Algae/ Chloroplasts to photosynthesise waste air and water into starch, proteins and oxygen. The by-products are further processed and fed through two circulatory systems into the Marine via back ports. The air to the lungs, and the vascular system carries the liquid food into the digestive track via the Preomnor implant.

Recycled urine: Their kidneys are linked to urine reprocessing in their backpack. The have no need to go to the toilet while on a mission. Waste extracted from the kidney's/ blood is reprocessed into liquid food.

Feeding tube loop: The gastrointestinal tract is connected via black carapace ports to the backpack to reprocess waste material. It is a closed system, all waste is reprocessed.

Liquid Food: Stored in backpack - intravenous feed with combat drugs


The Autosense is a device that collects information via artificial sensors, processes and filters that information, and then feeds it directly into the mind of the wearer. This completely bypasses the wearer’s natural senses. A helmet with autosense does not have eye slits to look through, holes to let sound into the ear, it is completely (hermetically) sealed as part of life-support. Instead the helmet has artificial sensors mounted outside the armour.

Artificial sensor array: The Autosense make use of several highly advanced artificial sensors.

  • The core visual sensor is wide spectrum, with particular focus on the THz wavelengths know as T-Lux. This band of light is in between infra-red and microwaves and has characteristics of both. In application is has the effect of being full on heat vision, but is also has a penetrating effect, so heat emanating from inner layers are also clearly seen. This gives a passive ‘x-ray’ effect able to penetrate clothing (but not metal objects), and will expose hidden weapons. It will also expose hidden snipers, and other hot objects much as a thermal camera. Lasgun blasts can be traced back to origin.
  • The audio system is very sensitive, with Doppler effect processing for excellent sound placement in 3D space.  It allows the system to place all noises within the environment accurately, and range them, including sniper locations (of the sniper’s weapon emits noise). It is so precise that it can function as a form echolocation.
  • Smell is about as acute as a dog’s nose, and combined with molecule recognition the Autosense can detect the presence of many substances and direct the Marine to them (note: A Space Wolf’s nose is more sensitive)
  • Taste is not catered for.
  • Touch – optional: the suit is covered with micro-hairs (similar in concept to a crab suing hairs to feel through it’s carapace) this allows the suit to feeling what is touching the surface of the armour, and internal strain gages allow the feeling over pressure. A Marine can even feel the wind on his armour.

Artificial Instincts: The Autosense collects a vast amount of information through the artificial sensors, far too much for a human mind (even a Marines!) to process all at once, so the Autosense has to filter and process this information into a feed that a human can absorb. In order to do this, and make the most of the sensory information collected, the Autosense utilizes cortex technology. This cortex technology is a dedicated machine sub-brain that is able to recognise threats by analysing the vast stream of incoming data, and passes these perceptions on to the Marine as ‘instincts’. It is, in effect, a technologically enabled ‘sixth-sense‘. These instincts alert the Marine to threats they can not usually see, and are prioritised in relation to the Marine’s own instincts. If the Marine takes notice of these artificial instincts and focuses in on a threat, the Autosense will instantly enhance the image to make it clear what the threat is.

This instinct feed is often interpreted as a ’spirit guide’ and the Autosense plays into this perception. This guiding ’spirit’ is the ‘machine spirit’ of the armour. It’s not the actual technology or AI, it’s the Marine’s perception of their interaction with the Autosense and the feeling of presence.

In action: The eye sensors ’see’ in a much wider spectrum of light than a human, including infra-red, but the Marine does not. To the Marine they see what a human normally sees on a well light day. No matter what the actual environmental light levels are, the Marine’s lux levels do not change. Their vision is always clear. Their hearing is normalised, with comm voices coming through clear as a bell even when next to explosions.

No external stimulus can disorientate the Marine. Example: a sudden bright flash of light, that would blind a human, can be instantly filtered and levelled as to be harmless. Loud noises and explosions are instantly deadened. Flashbang (stun) grenades have no effect at all.

While the Marine may not directly use the full range of the artificial sensors, the Autosense does. The Autosense would easily see the sniper hiding via infra-red, or by some other means (if the sniper has a full stealth suit), and pass this information to the Marine as an instinct. If the Marine then focuses in on this artificially induced instinct the Autosense can alter the image to show the threat. The imagine altering can include HUD like overlays.

Variation: The Autosense can display of information in various modes. While the instinct feed is the most common mode in use, the Autosense can add in images enhancements, overlays (HUD), and audio alerts to the sensory feed. The classic ‘HUD’ effect is often used by less experienced wearers until they adjust (sync) to their Autosense’s machine spirit. The HUD can display things like a cross-hairs for shooting, target outlines, and with a thought: accurate ammo counts. More experienced users who are fully synced with their machines spirit ‘just know’ this information and do not have to see it.

Communion: The Autosense includes a full menu system, usually accessed when out of fire-fights and close combat, and is imprinted directly into the mind’s eye of the Marine. By imagining the machine spirit the Marine can access a wealth of ‘prophetic’ information, this is know as ‘communion’, showing the conclusions and tactical analysis of the warzone; possible outcomes and dangers, projected wins and looses of various armies in action, maps and logistics. Much of this information is relayed as daydream, other parts are signs and numbers. It all makes sense to the Marine, and reading the information via communion is an art.

Integration: In all aspects the suit’s integration with the Marine’s own awareness virtually seamless. In a given situation it’s hard to tell if an instinct was the Marine’s own natural instincts or and enhancement, or a synergy of the two. From the Marine’s point of view, these artificial instincts feel like a presence and are often interpreted as a ’spirit’. The Autosense connects to the lower ‘reptile’ brain, and provokes reflex actions if needed. Often a Marine may think they are ‘lucky’, ‘blessed’, or that ’someone is watching over them’.

Persistence of Spirit: A suit of power armour is recycled by the Chapter if recovered from the battlefield. A new Marine will receive the armour when award ‘battle-brother’ rank. This can give rise to an unusual effect of ‘persistence’. The previous wearer will have fully synced with the Autosense of the suit, and in synergy and operation over centuries, would become one with the Autosense. Removing the Marine from the system leaves a huge void of data and expected feedback from the Autosense, which will then be replaced with the mind of the new Marine. The Autosense has to relearn and adapt it’s a new wearer.

It is during the syncing phase that the presence of the previous wearer can be felt by the Marine, and this may overly enhance compatible areas of their psyche and downplay others to the point it can affect behaviour. Some suits are incompatible with a wearer – a Marine that is highly individual may have to fight the will of the machine spirit to over-imprint their will and aims if they differs from the standard chapter ethos and mindset. At other times a suit may take to a wearer like an old glove. The more wearers the suit has had, the greater it’s understanding, how it should process information, what to focuses in on first when syncing, the important information the Marine really needs.

New Autosense: With a fresh install of an Autosense (bio-computer), only the core functions of normalisation of stimulus are online, and the Marine will feel no presence at first, until the Autosense learns the full parameters of a Marine and fully synchronises. When it’s fully synced it’s instinct feed can be very weak. In time the Autosense’s influence ramps up, but often the Marine does not realise that some of the hard won battle instinct are not all their own – as the Autosense grows with them. Like anything gradual, it simply does not notice*.  After a decade the Marine has full mastery of the Autosense, and they may become aware of a presence when in battle. Most Chapters place Marines who are learning to use their autosense in Devastator squads.

  • Marine who has full mastery of their autosense would notice if they put on another suit of armour – but that is rare (replacement of a damaged Autosense is the most likely event where a Marine would experience this).

Space Wolves: This concept may also be used as an explanation as to why the Space Wolves may not like this type of instinct enhancement autosense, as it messes with their own instincts?

Blog Article on Autosense

Sensor Details

This is a details breakdown of the Autosense sensors and systems.

Eye system

The auto-sense system includes two front mounted (stereoscopic) vid-sensors in the helmet. These sensors are surface mounted into a recesses, so that behind the eye is solid armour. The sensors are linked to the Convent, which in turn is linked directly into the Marines's visual cortex. The auto-sense system bypasses the Marine's natural eyes. The eye sensor has a number of interesting technologies.

  • Wide spectrum: The sensors can detect a wide spectrum of radiation, including infra-red and ultraviolet (black light). All the information is processed by the Covenet to render the image the Marines will see. Often non-visible light is used by the Covenet to figure out what object are, and outline and mark them with icons.
  • Non-stick: The eye lens of the auto-sense system is hydrophobic and naturally resists water, and other fluids. It is a form of non-stick surface, like Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), only better. Fluid and gore may simply not stick and is repelled.
  • Eyelid: In reality the non-stick coating is not 100%, and some sticking occurs; scratches or acid damage would give some purchase. It is almost impossible for the Marine to use his armoured gauntlets to wipe his eyes as they are too hard, even the padded grip tips do no yield enough due to their solid backing. To clear the lens of contamination a mechanical lid, made of a tough transparent membrane, is used. It is housed in the upper part of the eye armour.

Covenet ['Auto-Sense'] (control interface)

The Covenet [variant of ConvNet?] collects information form artificial sensors located around the armour, such as visual information from the 'eyes' of the helm, sound via the ear pieces, echolocation in the grill for dark space navigation, gravity sensors for orientation, and information from linked in subsystems such as the Bolter's vid feed. All these sensors are completely isolated from the Marines own senses which are bypassed and fed directly to the Covenet to be processed and then pumped directly into the Marine's mind.

Text (Black Carapace link up)

Covenet: See Bolter

Visions of God: The Covenet can implant 'notice icons' in 3D space, manipulating the reality of the Marine. Instead of an 'game' icon popping up over an injured Marine like a little 'skull and crossed bones', the Covenet puts in a fully rendered 'angel of death' or 'Grim Reaper' over the Marine. This is a visual cue for the psycho-conditioning that all Marine go through, and enhances performance by stirring religious fervour. Imagine a Christian crusading knight seeing a 'real' angel on the battle field, except here the Marines see great heroes from their Chapter's history, or even their Primarch!).

Lo, the angel of death is upon brother Markus!


Lo, the angel of blood is upon brother Markus!

This system be expanded, so that Marines can see visions over important areas of the battle to alert them to act: golden rays of light streaming down from the heavens upon Marines performing heroic deeds, fire and brimstone over where the enemy is breaking through, and the occasional divine visage of the Emperor himself!

This is all handled by the Covenet. This system. along with the associated psycho-conditioning, means that a Marine is never fazed when they see a real daemon, because they see 'daemons' and angels all the time.

Weapon systems Link

Communications [Vox]

The Vox system is routed through the Covenet which filters, enhances and encrypts the signal. All Vox are data connections and transmits and receives more that voice instructions, and can handle visual data streams and files. This allows the Marine leadership to choose whole combat scenarios and mission parameters and cast them to his warriors in the field. The casts are loaded directly into electrograft implants and gives the Marine instant mission recall. This allows the Marines to respond rapid to new situations in a coordinated manner and affords them great adaptability in the field and retain team cohesion.

It is not names 'Vox' after a human voice but after the machine's voice. The Marine communes with the machine spirit via the Covenet and the Machine Spirit communicates with other Machine Spirits via the Vox system. Once the other Machine Spirit receives the cast it then processes the feed on the fly to the receiving Marine via their Covenet. These is not direct, or 'raw', communication between Marines at any time. Everything is processed by the Machine Spirit.

Stealth and Detection

Space Marines power amour has in built stealth technologies. These technologies are not used by all chapters, though the technologies may still be present. The technologies give Marines tactical options in the field and enable them to prosecute there mission with a greater probability of success.

Active Camouflage

The armour is covered in coating which adapts its colour to it's surroundings. Depending on the coating types the surface of the armour can alter it's appearance, colour, luminance and reflective properties to allow the Marine to blend into his surroundings. The camouflage is used by the Marine when out in the open (not within STC like structures/ Ecorium) and allows them to close with enemies that may fee the Emperor's justice.

  • Dark Age technomancy: A mythical cloaking device. A Marine wearing this disappears and can not be detected.
  • 'OLED' based AC: The armour is coating in a form if 'organic light emitting diodes' only more complex and technically 'alive'. The armour collects video data of the surroundings an maps it onto the surface of the armour, and can match most luminance levels. It is not perfect, the Marines can still be seen, and any movement really gives the game away. If stationary the Marine is practically invisible, though 'unnoticeable' would be a better description, especially in complex and detailed environments like jungle or rubble.
  • Pigment based AC: A simpler form of AC similar to 'e-paper'. It lacks luminance, and can not match ambient light levels.
  • None: Some Chapters do not have this function, or refuse to use it. The armour is locked to chapter colours, or painted over.

Some radiation is harder to suppress like infra-red. To deal with this the armour's cooling system is routed through heat exchangers to power up 'Thermoelectric cells'. The takes all heat and converts it to electricity and is mainly a power conservation system. Combined with the ceramite insulation properties of the armour, the conservation system as the side effect of dropping the IR signature of the Marine to virtually nil. The Marines can still be seen, the outline etc. but they blend in with the background temp perfectly. However if they stand in front of a heat source their body will block it and they can be seen. Positioning is important when utilizing IR 'invisibility'.

Use of this AC function allows Marines to suddenly appear from nowhere and get into the thick of melee causing havoc (and uses the local enemy as a 'meat shield'). Once in close the armour flashes to their Chapter colours as they butcher the enemy. If the enemy is ruthless and fires on their own kind in an attempt to kill the Marines they find that Marines are quite hard to kill and such actions can be detrimental to morale. This 'sneak and explode' style of combat is the hall mark of Marines, but they also use sniper tactics and will often take out artillery and other snipers before getting into the thick of it (they do not assume the enemy command will respect the lives of their own side). The Marines are less famous for this tactic but only because they are so good at it - as often the enemy has a clue where or who the sniper is.

Peripherals [Armours]

The power armour can be further enhanced with auxiliary armours to augment survivability.




Iron Halo

These ancient devices are part of the Iron Halo honours awarded to those who exemplify Marine virtues. All leaders have this award, though there is a limit to the number of Iron Halos a chapter's artificers can embedded into armour, so not all Marines will have the device.

P-field emitters are embedded in a loop around the neck armour and project a 'power field' that covers the whole of the head. This allows the Marine to forsake a helm in battle, yet suffer no ill effects. The power field is exceptionally tough, far stronger than the standard helm, and can survive direct hits from heavy weapons fire and sniper rifles (and sniper cannon). All auto-sense external sensors are moved to outer armour locations, the auto-sense system still creating a virtual reality and pumping it straight into the Marine mind (it also collects data from other Marines nearby, to build a far more detailed VR, and allows the wearer to see where all his troops are by ghosting walls etc.)

The auto-sense system is still required while using the Iron Halo as the field stops all incoming energies from passing though, and this includes light. Hence the Marine cannot see the outside world with their own eyes as no light will reach them from the outside world (if the auto-sense was turned off the Marine would see nothing but pitch black darkness). This creates a problem as the whole point of the Iron Halo is to see the Marine’s face. If light cannot get in who can you see the Marine?

The field can be calibrated to allow light can pass from the inside to the outside, without compromising the ability of the field to block light from coming in. The settings are such that only energy in the visual spectrum can escape. Air cannot get out so the Iron Halo is considered to be air tight, nor can Infrared energy escape so the Iron Halo will not compromise heat signature suppression tech of the Power Armour. With an IR sensor the Iron Halo appears as a black void.

This allows Tech-Marines to implant lights around the base of the Iron Halo (on the inside) to illuminate the face of the Marine. Those outside can therefore see the Marine’s expression and grim determination, though the lighting appears otherworldly as it does not match what the viewer would expect in reality. This effect is enhanced by the Iron Halo reacting with outside light and air to produce a shimmer of light, to produce a visible 'halo' effect.

The halo effect is taken by the civilians of the Imperial as a sign of divinity, and many think all Marines have a 'halo' hidden by their helms.

Tactics [notes on idea]: Not only is it inspiring for Marines to see the resolve etched into their commander's face, the living embodiment and true personification of Marine ideas, but it also serves a tactical purpose: bullet magnet (!). It is often the case that Marines deployed in areas where guerilla warfare is prevalent are taking on forces with inferior weapons. These weapons have a hard time penetrating Marine armour, and many insurgents will simply run and hide, which makes hunting them down a real challenge (as they will not engage). This is a real problem because the Marine's have a restricted time-frame, and most insurgents figure they just have to run and hide in order to 'win', because the Marines can never stay (in most situations).

However when a freedom fighter/ terrorist sees the commander with a 'bare' head, the temptation to decapitate Marine command (literally) is often so great that many will take a shot and expose their position. The same holds true of snipers. The shocking reality is that a Marine is fast enough and accurate enough (even after being hit in the 'face' with a .50 calibre round) to counter-fire on a sniper taking a shot, his auto-sense can even tack incoming bullet trajectories and transmit that to other Marines to zero in on the location.

This seemingly minor tactic of the Iron Halo can give an edge against an elusive enemy especially in 'diplomatic' situations. If someone wants to assassinate a Marine commander or Marine hero (Iron Halo) they will snipe the Marine who has 'arrogantly' and 'contemptuously' forsook his helm. This exposes the truth of the situation to the Marine.

Marine and Bolter as One.

The standard tactical weapon for the Marine is the Bolter, linked together via the Marine's Black Carapace. This link allows the Marine communion with the 'Machine Spirit' of the Bolter. The Marine feels and acts as if the Bolter is an extension of his own body, he sees what his Bolter system sees, he feels its status and it responds to his intent. In ancient times becoming 'as one with your weapon' was the highest achievement of skill, the Marine takes this a literal step further and becomes 'one with the weapon'.

Direct Neural Interface

The DNI is part of the upper Black Carapace Network, and is a Cortex system bolted onto the exterior Black Carapace of the Marine's skull. The Cortex interfaces with the Marine's mind via bio-plastic web-chips implanted on the inner surface of the skull, with photonic-connectors cut thought the skull to link into the Black Carapace/ Cortex. The Web-chip's tendrils burrowing deep into the brain and linking into the natural neural net of his mind. To the Marine this system is totally transparent and feels like it is his own body.

Archaeotech Covenet [Coven-net]

This Cortex system is the 'machine spirit' of the Powered Armour and together with other Machine Spirits from the various subsystems (Bolter/ Backpack/ Comms) forms a Pantheon of Machine Spirits known as a Covenet'. The name derives from 'coven' and 'network'. The technology used in such a device is considered sacred by the Adeptus Mechanicus and referred to as 'Archaeotech' (from the Greek word for ruler: Archon) which is the highest form of technology. The Covenet is an auto-servitor of a sorts that runs all aspects of the suit; from neuro-fibre bundle musculature to life-support, and even 'smart' peripheral sub-systems.

The Head of the Covenet's Pantheon is the Marine, analogous to 'Zeus' (Emperor ref?)

Peripheral Sub-Systems

The standard issue Marine Bolter is a 'smart' peripheral sub-system, blessed by the Adeptus Mechanicus with a Machine Spirit. This means the Bolter's fire-control cogitators and sensors can link into the suits system hierarchy as a sub-system via the Machine Spirit within the Bolter. The direct system connection is made as soon as the Marine picks up the Bolter. Photonic pads in the palm of his hand match similar pads on the grip of the Bolter. These pads form a closed bridge between the two systems. All signals from the Bolter's Machine Spirit are routed via the Black Carapace, which is essentially the Power Armour's nervous system, to the DNI. All edicts from the Marine to the Bolter follow a similar route.

Sentient: The Machine Spirit within the Bolter is a bio-photonic cortex, imprinted with a mind patterned after a higher order avian such as a Raven (though other animals are know to be used, such as wolves), though modified to suit the purpose. This 'mind' provides advanced optical based recognition enabling the Bolter to recognise a face, and will recognise its chapters markings, other Marines within the squad to which its bonded Marine is a member, and the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Bolter can only see, but once linked to the Marine is becomes aware of the bigger picture and gains tactical information and the location of other Marines. The recognition and awareness means the Bolter will actively avoid 'friendly fire', and is so quick that in a sweep it will just 'skip' a round when a friendly is detected.

Bonding: The recognition ability is also part of the security system in all Bolters. The Machine Spirit once 'pair bonded' to a Marine will recognise that Marine. If a Bolter 'likes' a Marine is will consent to the life bonding. To a Marine, his Bolter is much like a 'pet' (tamagotchi :P), though it is not seen as subordinate, more a guide and partner, part of the pantheon of Machine Spirits that for the Covenet.

A Bolter may reject a Marine and it is not uncommon for a Bolter to refuse bonding. However if it does bond it will bond until death (Bolters will recognise its Marine's death, and if separated at the time of death may need to 'see proof'), and after a period of mourning may accept a new bond, or may not. Bolters of chapter heroes can become fussy about who they accept. However, there are records that in time of dire need that Bolters will accept a temporary bond 'for the good of the chapter', and it seem to be an emotional response rather than a logical response.


The Marine employ a number of vehicles not available to other forces within the Imperium.

Armoured Personnel Carrier

These a vehicles designed to get Marines to where they need to be when on Imperial Worlds. These APC are rarely used on alien worlds where the Marines prefer the Thunderhawk.

Rhino: Light APC (Marine's M113)

Land Raider: Heavy APC (Marine's Combat Vehicle 90 (two welded together!)


Fast and mobile. The bikes are only deployed on human worlds, and most often it is the Land Speeder that is the primary rapid scout vehicle of the Marines.

Bike: Text

Land Speeder: Text

Main Battle Tank (future version)

Thunderhawk: Text (Marine's Challenger 2) Rapid response heavy tank, and heavy APC. It is a development of a Dark Age main battle tank and unlike anything we have today. it is designed to engage the enemy over any terrain imaginable and hug low to the ground. Although classed as a MBT, it is much more.


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