Monday, November 11, 2013

Relictors and Helmets

            Hopefully we can all agree that Warhammer 40,000 is a fantasy game.  Not in the lizard men-and- elves-and-dragons way, but in the sense that it has little grounding in science.  It has some of the trappings of sci-fi, but they’re all there to set the mood more than help create a sense of plausibility.
            As such, I understand the inherent flaws of the world, since it is more about the game than about believability.  The Imperium has miles-long spaceships that can decimate planets and massive war-robots that can level cities, yet we routinely send out guys with swords and pistols to fight our enemies hand to hand.  Many folks have pointed out the silliness in this.

            It’s also been brought up (although not quite as often) that the idea of un-helmeted Space Marines doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Power armor is the very high-end of personal protection.  It enhances the wearer’s strength and senses, not to mention providing a pile of tactical information.  And a lot of time and work goes into making a Space Marine.  You think you’d want to protect that investment from, say, some kid with a rock and a sling...

            All that being said, I recognize that a lot of models look very cool with their helmets off.  And it does fit with some of the more savage and feral chapters like the Space Wolves, White Scars, or Blood Angels.  So I’d never mock anyone for an un-helmeted marine. Even for a lot of them.

           Anyway, all that was tickling at the back of my head when I first started assembling my Relictors army.  I’d had a bunch of marines kind of kicking around, but couldn’t settle on a Chapter that really appealed to me.  Then White Dwarf 295 came out and I was hooked.  My friends saw the article and even they said “that’ll be his chapter.”

            I had about thirty-odd Relictors painted up when I realized that, by odd chance, not one of them had an exposed head.  It was just what I’d built in the past and what I’d picked when I started assembling the army.  But I really liked it, and decided early on that the Relictors would always wear helmets—everyone from the newest marine to the Chapter Master and every rank in between.

            It was only later that I realized this also gave them a sinister edge.  Since so many marines are modeled or drawn with bare heads, there’s something a bit off-putting about a group of marines that don’t show anything.  And I realized it’s not that the Relictors aren’t showing their faces... it’s the subtle, underlying message that they’re hiding something.

            Now if GW would just make a helmeted Librarian again...

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