Historical/Literary/Other Inspirations For Different Space Marine Chapters
I've been trying to figure out a sort of 'complete' list of the major sources/inspirations for various Space Marine chapters and certain imperial army units. I want to figure this out, especially for the 18 First Founding Chapters! So please add your thoughts. Mine are below, in no particular order.
NOTE: these are observations of *overall* qualities -- individual characters may not fit into any of these 'conceptions'.
NOTE 2: forgive any typos, missing words, etc.
(A) FIRST FOUNDING LEGIONS/CHAPTER
DARK ANGELS: monastic orders of knights, maybe in particular templar knights as conceived by centuries of conspiracy theorists
BLOOD ANGELS: everyone says 'vampires', and that's there, but I don't find that convincing. Perhaps a "Fallen Angels" or "Fallible Angels" concept -- they're angels until they tragically succumb to their 'demonic' (not actual Daemonic) nature. FYI, I think this vagueness reflects in the fluff - the description/conception of the Blood Angels can wander a bit from fluff source to fluff source.
SPACE WOLVES: vikings
RAVEN GUARD: a chapter/legion with multiple key influences. Some say native americans, but that's just window dressing. Real inspirations is (x) the ideals and philosophies of democratic insurgents/rebels using stealth to overthrow tyranny and (y) ninjas (yes, ninjas) - all that striking from the shadows, stealth, etc. This is actually a pretty solid mix because in both cases, it's a about committed individuals using what they can to overcome overwhelming brute force and power.
ULTRAMARINES: Roman legionaries (and 500 worlds is idealized Roman empire).
IMPERIAL FISTS: best argument I've heard for them is the Prussian officer class, though I don't know enough about that group to confirm.
WHITE SCARS: Mongol cavalry warriors of Ghengis Khan and his sons
IRON HANDS: people have suggested Transhumanism. But I also think that the *major* inspiration is the classic conception of the ancient Spartans: absolutely single-mindedness in their pursuit of war; hatred of weakness, *especially* in the self, and obsession with removing the 'weak' elements (of themselves and/or the Imperium); contempt for failure; a general intolerance, lack of interest in and disregard and contempt for of those who do not share their philosophies, even if those are allies; and, no mercy, empathy or compassion;
*** SALAMANDERS: I'm gonna say a bunch here because the Salamanders are a real mix of stuff of inspirations (as can be seen in the fluff): current conceptions of 'noble, good African/African-American men' -- something that has shown up in movies, tv, books, as a (deserved) rebuke of far uglier conceptions of black men. I don't know if it's there in UK culture, but definitely in US/Can culture -- a conception of strong, proud but modest, *good* men who *protect* their families. If the Imperial Fists are the concept of Defenders of Walls, the Salamanders are the concept of Defenders of People (of humanity), and it is defense they will *never* give up.
However, you also have the following elements mixed in: (a) this is the "African' legion/chapter, with a huge amount of African imagery, etc. -- these guys are literally black, red eyed (very exotic, not Caucasian), their names seem to sound 'African', the notion of hot desserts, volcanos. their embodiment of a hot weather creature - a lizard, and the whole notion of ELEMENTAL warriors: volcanoes, hammers (stone), flamers -- not the finery of Blood Angels or Emperor's Children, the civilization of the Ultramarines. Then you have the forge imagery, which cause along with the heat/fire/volcano imagery but not quite exactly. AND THEN you also have this focus on pragmatism that undercuts the notion of taking their principles to a 'fanatical' extreme -- even when they sacrifice themselves, it is because it is *necessary,* not because of some fanatic obsession or strange dream.
Note: I think that fluff-wise, these mix of sources has ended up being bland -- the intensity/craziness of some of these characteristics gets sabotaged/watered down by the defender/pragmatist elements. In short, like the concept but needs work.
SONS OF HORUS (HH period): actually, these guys are hard for me to place. On one hand, supposedly Cthonian gangs that lead to incredibly aggressive shock troops, but that gang-like aggression does not really follow through in other fluff so much. I get the sense more than anything that these guys are 'the natural leader' guys when dealing with any other marines.
WORLD EATERS: a lot of people say roman gladiators, but i think better source concept is Barbarian Killers who care *nothing* for civilization.
1000 SONS: people say ancient Egypt, and that's certainly true for the *look*, but I think in HH fluff et al, better description is ancient Babylon, with its particular brand of mystic culture. Also, of course, the story of Faust.
ALPHA LEGION: more than anything, special forces/psych ops/military intelligence.
NIGHT LORDS: yes, they are from conception of "terror troops", but really this is an army of genuine psychopaths and sociopaths -- no love, no loyalty except complete self-interest to each other, etc.
DEATH GUARD: not sure if there's a specific source. But the idea of an unstoppable army of soldiers, able to soak up *any* amount of damage, indefatigable, unstoppable, able to endure the conditions of any battlefield (i.e. zone mortalis) no matter how horrible the conditions (radiation, plague, etc.). While the post-HH impression speaks a lot of their Nurgle qualities, those all still fit with the characteristics I've listed here.
WORD BEARERS: no particular historical source, but the concept of 'fanatic cult warriors' led by 'evil, evil priests.' I think of the warriors of the evil priests in the Conan the Barbarian movies, but upgrade those to be super soldiers instead of warriors that Conan can easily beat.
IRON WARRIORS: this might surprise people, but I think the best fit the west's conception of post-WW II Soviet armies. The focus on concrete, on the overwhelming power and mastery of massive artillery and on tanks (i.e. Kursk and beyond), on the yellow of warning tape, rather than anything aesthetic, and the officers/leadings acting out of ambition for power and rank within that framework rather than inspiration, . When I think Iron Warriors I think of cold industry lacking in all humanity -- i.e. what we think all those Soviet factories were like -- all functional, no room for beauty, with soldiers acting out of discipline, order, conformity.
EMPEROR'S CHILDREN: Pre-HH: French (?) aristocrats of Louis XIV-XVI, pursuit of aristocratic notions of excellence and excelling but combined with all the style, arrogance, wealth and *finery* you imagine rich aristocrats to have -- you never imagine any of these guys, even pre-HH, living a modest or monastic lifestyle -- obsessed with pleasure, etc. Post-HH Same as before but obsessed by *perversions* in the pursuit of pleasure.
(B) CERTAIN SECOND FOUNDING CHAPTERS (not all listed, please add)
GREY KNIGHTS: Paladins a la dungeons and dragons.
SILVER SKULLS: Maori
BLACK TEMPLARS: conception of crusader knights fighting far off in the Holy Land
** CHARCARADONS/SPACE SHARKS: they have a very specific character -- inscrutable, savage, but ultimately serving the Emperor -- but I just can't place the source.
IRON SNAKES: Homeric greeks of the Illiad, not the Peloponessian Wars Spartans. Someone said Spartans once, but there seems to be more genuine joy, arrete, warm brotherhood than that in their depictions.
** DOOM EAGLES: they also have a very specific character -- only by total resignation do they pass on to fight -- but I just can't place the source.
DEATHWATCH: superhero terms, of course . Think X-Men, Avengers -- diverse powers, skills, backgrounds, styles, philosophies, combining to make something superior to just one chapter alone.
FLESH TEARERS: Wolverine, especially in the early dangers. Frenzied, addicted to the brutality of war, but still (secretly?) longing for redemption.
LEGION OF THE DAMNED: stories of spectral warriors unstoppably coming for needed vengeance/brutal justice on behalf of those who have suffered.
STORM WARDENS: Scottish highland warriors?
BLACK DRAGONS: X-men in the sense of feared mutants that use their mutations to defend humanity.
(C) CERTAIN IMPERIAL GUARD FORCES (please add others)
VOSTROYAN FIRST BORN: Russia army of 18th/19th Centuries
CATCHACANS: US jungle solders in Vietnam
13TH PENAL LEGION (LAST CHANCERS): movies like the Dirty Dozen, etc.
ATTILAN ROUGH RIDERS: Mongols
TANITH FIRST AND ONLY: Welsh/Gaelic/pre-anglo-saxon Britain
CADIANS: some people say Wehrmacht, and I would agree except without the Nazi element. To be fair, everything in the Imperium is totally fascist but Cadians are really depicted as an army of good, not of conquering evil.
ELYSIAN DROP TROOPERS: parachute drops, more modern special forces-y than WW2.
DEATH KORPS OF KRIEG: a conception of German (maybe also British) soldiers in WW1
MORDIAN IRON GUARD: 19th Century Britons? 19th Century British Army?
NECROMUNDANS: street gangers inducted into the army
TALLARN: Arabian, Muslim soldiers