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The Might of the Custodes (fluff discussion)


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#1
b1soul

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Just some thoughts on the Emperor's augmented super-warriors

It seems that the individual might of the Custodes has significantly evolved over the years across different BL/FW

Back in the mid to late 2000s when I first startes getting into 40k, I recall people were claiming that Custodes were to SM as SM were to mortals. Some of the Custodes vs. TSon descriptions in Collected Visions seemed to confirm this view, e.g. TSons dying in droves and barely able to touch the Custodes

Then came Blood Games by Abnett:

Spoiler


The Custodes didn't make much of an appearance until The First Heretic by ADB, where a small, likely elite, group of them displayed impressive skills relative to their Astartes brethren.

Spoiler


The First Heretic also provided an interesting lions vs. wolves analogy, which I rather liked . . .

Spoiler


Graham's Outcast Dead seemed to follow Abnett's idea of Custodes not being very substantially superior:

Spoiler


Spoiler


In Master of Mankind, ADB presents an alternative view that the Custodes lack of team work may not be such a weakness after all

Spoiler


Do you guys like the idea of Custodes being to SM as SM are to Imperial Army troopers?

It seems that's what the latest fluff supports. In FW Inferno, 6,000 nulled TSons get massacred in melee by 500 Custodes led by Valdor. Valdor is hurt and only "scores" of Custodes are badly wounded..and of those, most don't actually die.

...or do you prefer Abnett's take or something between the two extremes?

As for the Thunder Warriors, I like how they are not just inferior Astartes. They are almost like berserker Ogryn Astartes, physically and mentally flawed but very powerful as close combat brutes.
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#2
Huggtand

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Yes, the power levels of 30k is ramping up it seems.

 

I must say that I like Abnett´s version of the Custodes best. The old fluff with not so much distinction between SM a Custodes takes away some of the uniqueness of the Emperors bodyguard. Then they are just another legion in fancy armour.

But the resent fluff goes too far towards Herohammering for my taste. Sure the Emperors Companions should be great warriors, but if they are too good it takes away the tension and most enemies they face just becomes fodder. A good example is the difference between the book and film of The Lords of the Rings. In the book orcs are a foe that even the mightiest heroes take serious. So when they meet them there is real danger even in small engagement. In the film they have ramped up the power levels of the heroes to the umph degree and the fight just becomes stunts without any stakes and as a result becomes boring. And unfortenly the fights in tMoM is on that level and the only thing I didn´t like as much as the rest in that excellent book. The Custodes is so good that the only challenge for them is that there is so many of the enemies and instead what is left is the stunts of the Custodes. There are only a few enemies that makes for good dynamics fights.

 

Abnett´s Custodes, in my opinion, has a good balance and is unique without being to above everyone else. Another example is ADB´s Khârn. Even if he is one of the best fighter in the Legions in every fight there is ups and downs witch creates an interesting story.

 

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Edited by Huggtand, 15 March 2017 - 07:51 AM.

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#3
b1soul

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A more cynical observation on my part...

If you want to sell Custodes, this is how you do it...by making them super-powerful in Inferno
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#4
Huggtand

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A tried and tested strategy from GW through the years


"He made barbarism a controlled trait, something noble to be understood and mastered, not a state of primitive regression. Leman Russ was the dynamism of a life free from civilisation’s shackles. He was strength and purpose and heart, where all else was grey with the promise of inevitable stagnancy. He wasn’t a wolf because of how he fought and howled and bunched his men into packs. 

He was a wolf because of how he lived, forever echoing the vitality and honesty of the wildness at the heart of all life."

 

- Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden


#5
bluntblade

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One thought on MoM's depiction; Ra is seen fighting a mass of Astartes rather than the Custodes facing a coherent Legion. The fighting is all manic confusion, where the Astartes can't bring their cohesion to bear against the Custodes.

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#6
Noctus Cornix

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Personally, I've always seen Custodes following the line of thinking similar to that displayed in MoM and TFH. I've always envisioned Custodes to be at the precipice of genetic manipulation between Primarch and Space Marine, inferior to the former and superior to the latter. They are the bodyguards of the Emperor himself and Watchmen to the capital fortress palace that stands as the very center of a galaxy-spanning empire. The idea that they were just on a rather average level to Space Marines just seemed ridiculous to me, especially considering the astronomical level of difference between a Primarch and one of his sons.  


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#7
Warsmith Kroeger

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Knew that Tagore would pop up in this thread before even opening it . Outcast Dead was not really liked by people I have talked to that have read it, but I believe the Custodes were portrayed pretty well in it. (As well as one of the coolest WE crew going)

 

Abnetts seems to be the best portrayal though in my honest opinion, and the point where I would call it.

 

I think the problem we have is exactly as outlined "the individual might of the Custodes has significantly evolved over the years across different BL/FW"

I mean, you would have to improve the might over the years with the stuff most of the Heroes in the HH series have done (Khârn getting beat to high heaven by Angron and surviving, Aximand loosing his face,Vulkan and Sharrokyn.) 



#8
Marshal Rohr

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The Abnett-Blood Games Custodes made more sense than than the current iteration. He current iteration falls into the power level trap that is pervasive in 40k. The idea that you can basically treat biological/genetic enhancement the same way you treat building a gaming computer is silly. Basically Space Marines are great but the same organs in a Custodes is actually even better? The height=importance factor is also silly as hell. Custodes are taller, therefore must be powerful.

Custodes should've stayed space marine sized and better trained. Jacking them up into super marines was a silly move.
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#9
b1soul

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I liked Abnett's take the most as well

I do think the Custodes should be moderately superior to SM physically, thanks to the more painstaking process of crafting a Custodes

My preference...
if average Custodes physical performance is scored as 100, average SM physical performance should be around 85, which is a moderate but still significant difference, though not a yawning gulf of a gap

Right now, it seems Custodes are 100 and SM are 5...literally 5

6,000 SM get massacred by 500 Custodes.

It seems SM aren't even better soldiers than Custodes anymore

Custodes are better as indivual warriors and as soldiers in larger-scale engagements

The only advantage of SM seems to be their relative cheapness

#10
bluntblade

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What's the 6000-500 thing from? I would like AD-B's input, but personally I think MoM's circumstances are quite different to a proper force of Astartes fighting as a Legion against an army of Custodes.

I want a battle on Terra where Abaddon leads the SoH's finest against the Custodians and we get a pure, epic Astartes vs. Custodes fight.

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#11
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I have to be honest in that I was never really interested in the Custodians until Inferno hit.

 

Let's say it floated my boat enough for me to get curious about them. From your summary, b1soul, I like Dans and Aarons version the most.

 

Yes, Custodians are on a uber power level right now. IMHO they should be "harder, better, faster, stronger" than normal Astartes. Don't think that Big E would want a "regular" Astartes force as his bodyguards. If so, he could have taken the Fists instead.

 

Custodians made by an older (and more complex) version of gene enhancement plus enhanced training, making them better than Astartes but not on THAT powerlevel as it is these days = :tu:

 

Custodians made superior just because = naaayyy


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#12
TheTrans

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Does anyone get the feeling that custodes are made to just straight up kill marines?

Like... the fact is to me, it seems each individual Custodes is loyal to the big E before all else. Like I have no doubt if the E just said to Custode 1 to kill Custode 2, in like...a slowly cut his throat and watch the life drain out of him for cruelties sake sort of way, he would, he wouldn't maybe be happy about it in his heart of hearts..but he would kill him good and to the letter of what the E wanted.

Compare that to the brotherhood of marines, if their Primarch asked the same thing, for the same reasons, I feel they may...maaaay evenutally do it, but there would be a lot of internal warring and no sort unnecessary cruelty to it. More Primarch to Line Trooper 1, cruely kill Line Trooper 2, your squad mate. He may...but I feel it would be kill him quickly not follow the order to the letter if he eventually went down that path, because the marines are also loyal to their brother marines, probably a lot of the time, before all else. Otherwise a lot of heresy wouldn't of happened I think (especially splits in the legions). 

Any way, I feel my point is, the Custodes where designed never to be obsolete as lez be honest I reckon a lot of the marines would of been "Thunder-warriored" if the E's plans came to fruition.... and who exactly do you think would of been doing the culling?

 

Exactly....

So I feel logic would dictate that of course the custodes should be able to :cuss all over the marines, as they were designed to be superior probably for future liquidation of said marines..

 

Any way, just some of my thoughts... 



#13
b1soul

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Despite the custodes current power level, I don't see how 10,000 custodes could liquidate 2,000,000 SM

I think it would have been more feasible during late Unification or the retaking of Sol

That said, it would certainly make sense for any anti-Astartes force to include a good number of custodes

#14
TheTrans

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Fair dues good sir. But I doubt you'd have 10,000 squaring off against the 2,000,000 in one sitting. Is pretty easy to move around 10k as opposed to 2m dudes haha. But I definitely get what you mean!

 

Maybe if :cuss didn't go down the Big E would of told the legions to taper off recruitment, with maybe like the Fists and Ultras or even space pups as enforcers of this?



#15
The Observer

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I have to say that I much, much prefer the Custodes as portrayed in The First Heretic, Master of Mankind and Inferno, that is to say, something separate from the Space Marine. Even on a biological level, they are different, an own entity if you will. I don't think it has ever been really elaborated on how the Custodes are made, has it? (in newer fluff at the very least).

Making them just better trained, golden space marines just seems kinda naff to me. Not really special enough for the Emperor's bodyguard. Gives them a certain sense of mystery too, especially when we see just how differently they behave and interact with outsiders, compared to Astartes.

I like them as the giant, golden, metal-clad bananas as they are :) Scientific realism is tertiary to me anyways when it comes to this setting. I certainly prefer it more as an epic tale or a saga, where everything somehow stands separate from each other (Then again, I am also the dude who enjoys Parzival, the Lay of the Nibelungs etc on a regularly basis, so maybe it is just the hang towards old fashioned tales).

At the end of the day, they were created for a different purpose altogether than the Astartes. Why shouldn't they be something different then? The Emperor needed his attack dogs and his homewardens, thus he bred them differently. Anyways, that's my two cents on the topic :)


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#16
b1soul

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I think most ppl here agree that Custodes should be physically superior to SM

No one thinks Custodes should merely be "better-trained" SM

The issue is...do you like mini-primarch Custodes, each of whom can butcher dozens of SM...or do you like SM 2.0 Custodes, each of whom can take on around 3 or so SM?

There's also a vast middle-ground between these two extremes.

Yeah...Custodes should be more than better-trained SM...but how much more...and in what way?
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#17
TheTrans

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Hmm... does one also need to maybe factor in Custodes wargear also.

If we use a very light basis of rules-to-fluff. All they're stuff is marine killers. So in fluff, we know...generally, Marine armour is relatively impervious. If we get some rules flavouring, it can fend off bolt shells, all the las in world, even Autocannon rounds. Now thats a 3+.

Custodes all have a 2+ armour save, with inbuilt refractors (which in fluff, stops, like....everything....). So to begin with the Custodes base armour is impervious to everything except LasCannons, Demolisher Rounds, Plasma etc..which is like the nastiest :cuss in the galaxy. The 2+ puts their armour in a comparison with terminator armour, which we know is the next best thing to actually just not getting shot. We then factor in Refractor Fields, to stop some of the big nasties as well.

So that is just armours. 

Now we look at 'average' wargear equivalents. Marines have what, Bolter, Big farkin knives/chainswords. Then you have your smatterings of special weapons, Power Swords (which don't bother Custodes), Power Axes (there it is!), Power Fists, Plasma, Melta etc. So, just going to do some basic maths on the whole (again with smatterings of rules, as I believe if we find a balance we can have a good argument) 

So if we cite that 6000-vs-500 sort of thing (which I'll happily admit 12-1 is pretty long odds, it would of still been awesome at 6-1..but thats not really how GW (even FW) writes anymore :'( ). So say if all the 20 man squads are lead by a dude with a power axe and articifer armour. That is 300 'Crappy-Custodes' analogues, the 100 Elite termies and somewhere around 5500 Lemmings.

So pretty much only 1 in 6 Marines have a chance of penetrating the custode's armour, factoring in if they get close enough to land a blow/close range shot. Where as every Custodes hit on any non-Articifer Armour/Termy Armoured Marine would penetrate. So if they swing 10 times a minute, 10 incapacitated Astartes. Factor in the average Astartes weapons essentially bounce off of their armour.... life ain't great for the Astartes.

Any way, trying to marry fluff and games rules is a dangerous path, as is applying any actual logic to 40/30k has always been naff. There will always be a hand wavium reason or even just Rule-of-Cool for a lot of the stupid stuff that happens.

But at the same time, would people be batting an eye lid if 500 marines held off 6000 guardsmen in a defensible position? I wouldn't really be too upset, as long as the Astartes copped a hiding (which the Custodes did). Because to simplify put it, that is pretty much what it is.


Superior dudes, with better weapons, armour and skills, holding back masses of their lessers, is bread and butter 40/30k fluff. Maybe it's just a bit confronting when it is Astartes being the lessers :P...

P.S. Just had a quick look at the section about that battle, we haven't even factored in the sisters of silence. They would of further degraded any 1kSons sergeants etc that where even low level psykers. All the sisters also have comparable skills, if not the up front durability of astartes. So we know over 500 sisters bit the dust, so they copped many casualties, but the fluff says there was 2 full vigils of sisters, which is a cheeky 2000 chicks with bolters/swords. So all of a sudden it is 500 Custodes (superior troops) and 2000 Sisters (equivalent-ish, but not as tough as line astartes) against that 6000, so the odds are only 2.5ish-1.. bit more reasonable.

There is also mention of tanks or what not, but the 1ksons just Yolo-charged in which would of hampered the tanks due to FF issues...



#18
Fortnight

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I like the idea that they are more akin to Primarchs than Marines. There aren't that many of them really, and the Lions to Wolves is a good analogy. We don't know the biology of the Custodes, but we do know that primarchs are as different from Marines as Marines are to man. We have no reason to think custodes are made the same as marines, with the same genetics, but better. They probably represent a totally different process, unlike either marines or primarchs or thunder warriors for that matter.

The Outcast Dead was one of my favorite books in the series, but I feel like it portrayed custodes strangely, - and marines strangely, too - despite being a good story. Considering how hard it would be for two equally matched humans to bear-handed tear each other up like that, we have no reason to think a marine could do it to another marine, let alone a custodes. I think it was a bit overdone there.

The wargear factor is important, as well. It seems they have it better in every regard. Considering how much more dangerous better wargear seems to make a warrior in this setting that alone could explain the huge power disparity.
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#19
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On the wargear note, I do like the strong FW emphasis on the custodes not being a traditional military force by design. No swathes of line troops, no heavy armour, no siege engines, no fleets of warships, little troop specialisation, minimal hierarchy. To my mind that goes a long way towards making them more interesting as a force than their personal prowess.

 

You could never conquer the galaxy with however many thousands of custodes, it takes a Legion. A legion of astartes is more than the sum of its parts. Less so the legio custodes.



#20
Marshal Rohr

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The issue becomes how are they superior, when marines are already superior? You can have a mass produced violin and a Stradivarius, for example. One is a masterpiece and you can tell when you hear the music, but both still only play music. Genetic augmentation only goes so far, the emperor could surely create masterpieces in the custodes, but that doesn't really explain why they are taller, etc. the Primarchs weren't just marines dialed up to 11, they are specifically noted as having some supernatural quality. By making the custodes just the platinum tier of genetic modification for soldiers, it doesn't follow they'd be like the Primarchs.

#21
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Custodies aren't just better versions of marines though. We're not just comparing the same item with one built better. The process to make each is different. What's inside each is different. Also they aren't just for war, custodes are warriors yes, but also politicians, spies and any number of roles. Each got individualised training.

#22
Purge the Daemon

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Custodies aren't just better versions of marines though. We're not just comparing the same item with one built better. The process to make each is different. What's inside each is different. Also they aren't just for war, custodes are warriors yes, but also politicians, spies and any number of roles. Each got individualised training.


Sure each got individual training and that would make them much better leaders and diplomats vs the average marine. But in the Grimm Darkness of the far future there is only war and I'm not sure 1 Custodian should kill 5 marines without breaking sweat. If they are that good the 10000 would be better than any of the legions at warfare in every aspect. Right now even the custodes are more similar to primarchs than to marines which I find kind of ludicrous because if they were that close why not just have a Custodian lead the legions.

#23
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Well game mechanics, 3 custodes kill a tactical squad on the charge, bump that up to 20 and the custodes take a a wound or two. But that doesn't actually account for damage that doesn't inhibit combat ability. If the fluff represents this that is fine. The problem is of course on the margins how do you place Elite Marine units in this structure. Inferno has SA equivalents killing marines though so it has me seriously questioning the capabilities of a space marine in context to a human. 



#24
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Just some thoughts on the Emperor's augmented super-warriors

It seems that the individual might of the Custodes has significantly evolved over the years across different BL/FW

Back in the mid to late 2000s when I first startes getting into 40k, I recall people were claiming that Custodes were to SM as SM were to mortals. Some of the Custodes vs. TSon descriptions in Collected Visions seemed to confirm this view, e.g. TSons dying in droves and barely able to touch the Custodes

Then came Blood Games by Abnett:

Spoiler


The Custodes didn't make much of an appearance until The First Heretic by ADB, where a small, likely elite, group of them displayed impressive skills relative to their Astartes brethren.

Spoiler


The First Heretic also provided an interesting lions vs. wolves analogy, which I rather liked . . .

Spoiler


Graham's Outcast Dead seemed to follow Abnett's idea of Custodes not being very substantially superior:

Spoiler


Spoiler


In Master of Mankind, ADB presents an alternative view that the Custodes lack of team work may not be such a weakness after all

Spoiler


Do you guys like the idea of Custodes being to SM as SM are to Imperial Army troopers?

It seems that's what the latest fluff supports. In FW Inferno, 6,000 nulled TSons get massacred in melee by 500 Custodes led by Valdor. Valdor is hurt and only "scores" of Custodes are badly wounded..and of those, most don't actually die.

...or do you prefer Abnett's take or something between the two extremes?

As for the Thunder Warriors, I like how they are not just inferior Astartes. They are almost like berserker Ogryn Astartes, physically and mentally flawed but very powerful as close combat brutes.

 

Umm I guess I'm not sure where you're going here. You say at the start that originally Custodes were thought to be almost primarch level. That being the case the early depiction in blood games and in outcast dead are the odd ones out I'd say. If original depictions, MoM, and Inferno show them to be superior to Space Marines then that's an obvious majority that is based on their original lore. First Heretic IMO falls in that line too as the 5 were able to take down quite a few astartes during Istavaan. Keep in mind that when they describe them Custodes as lions compared to wolves that is the Word Bearer's observations, of course they are going consider themselves at least equal.

 

We hear time and time again that each Custode has been personally designed vs the mass produced Astartes and of course they have much better equipment, it makes perfect sense to me that they are more powerful than an Astarte. Considering the fairly clear line from early stuff to Inferno I consider Blood Games and Outcast Dead to be outliers if anything.

 

Also really some of you are bringing up the "make them more powerful to sell models" line? You think A-D-B changed his depiction of Custodes in MoM because GW wanted to sell more models? You think Alan Bligh compromised his vision of The Burning of Prospero in order to sell more models? Personally I don't think even GW prime does stuff like this all that much, IMO there is no way Forge World would change anything to do that.


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#25
Ryltar Thamior

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A few thoughts.

First up, while I really liked some of the ideas in The Outcast Dead [the Crusader Host were very decent as a concept, in particular]; its handling of the fight between Tagore and the impaired Custodes has always seemed somewaht incongruous [as, for that matter, did the name 'Tagore' considering its most famous bearer was a very famous gentle poet, but I digress]. Clearly, some of the Marines attached to the Crusader Host were ... pretty paragonical example of their respective Legions. But even affording for the World Eater in question deriving quite some performance enhancement from the combination of his Nails and cabin-fever (whilst the Custodes is specifically mentioned as being slower and perhaps weaker than his fellows) it still seems somewhat peculiar that he was able to effectively punch THROUGH Custodes-armour [which, as noted above, seems functionally equivalent to Terminator plate, based around in-game characteristics] with his bare hands. 

I'd therefore suggest that the circumstances involved were so ... incredibly unlikely [and, as far as I'm concerned, inadequately explained] as to make that particular combat effectively seriously dubious (if not useless) as a genuine measure of Custodes combat potential. [there are some handwavium means to make the whole thing less eyebrow-raisingly questionable, such as presuming that Atharva is channelling some of his apparently sui generis psychic strength into Tagore's hands or something to make them effectively AP2 quasi-powerfists ... but that's not stated in the text, is it. [Out-of-universe perspective, I think it's another instance of a notable trend within The Outcast Dead towards characters who approach, at times, snowflake-Sue levels of hypercompetency in their respective areas of expertise, of which Atharva is perhaps another example]]

Second, as applies the Marine-Custodes comparisons ... it's worth noting that i) Marines and Custodes are the products of entirely different approaches to creation; and that there therefore ought be no expectation of even rough parity between them simply on the basis that both are the products of Imperial gene-forging. Marines, as we know, take baseline (but still likely to be exceptional) human stock, and then ramp it up to eleven through an ongoing regimen of implating etc.. But we already know that this is a process not optimized to generate 'the Best' results, so much as the outcome of a long-running compromise between speed, safety (relatively speaking), ease of production (and therefore 'numbers'), as well as the inherent limits in the gene-seed itself. 

This leads us on to ii). The fact that we already know, thankns to Deliverance Lost (and, supposedly, Guilliman's plans in the 41st millennium avec Cawl), that Marine geneseed, with some technical improvements, CAN be used to produce substantively better performance even whilst using what's superficially the same organs and processes [subject to alterations resultant from a Primarch's brilliant mind being personally turned to making the best possible use of the gene-resources at hand]. It is a matter of open debate as to why the Emperor et co.'s own efforts with the original Astartes geneseed weren't up to the same standards as Corax's initial crop of Raptors (most probably because the Emperor was running on a rather tight time-schedule vis a vis having a force capable of taking to the stars ready, and just left a few possibilities unexplored or unfinished as other projects demanded his more immediate attention - thus the 'headdroom' for further development was always there but simply unexploited) [wiht a subsidiary consideration tha the later accelerations in timescale and lowering of standards for prospective neophytes may have meant that 'later' generations of Marines just simply weren't quite as good anyway as the original Terrans]; but the point remains that even the basic Astartes template COULD be notably improved. 

While iii) we also know from the limited accounts we have of Thunder Warriors in operation (found in both, again, The Outcast Dead and the Warhounds/World Eaters segment of the relevant FW Black Book) that other gene-templates have been investigated and used to produce different breeds of super-warrior even further superior to baseline Astartes (albeit not without a cost, which may have either beeen an intentional shortcoming [a long-term killswitch of theri bodies giving out, in case they got more out of hand than they were supposed to be], or the product of imperfect knowledge and research, or simple haste o the part of the Emperor et co.). 

Which leads us on to iv) - that the information we have to hand about the process of gene-forging a Custodes would appaer to suggest that the processes and resources which go into producing a single (and it IS single - not the batch-creations of just about every other form of transhuman combatant) Custodes are such that the result is not only qualitatively different to a Marine (so, I would presume, not using the same organs and mechanisms of augmenation, although there may be some overlaps), but better too. At least partially because instead of using 'one-size-fits-all' pre-made organ-implants, the genewrights responsible appear to make direct alterations to the indiviidual Custodian's genetic structure (with all of the greater potential that that implies). This is, obviously, reflected in their in-game physical stats (wherein they are, for the most part, 25% better than a line-marine) - even before we factor in potential differences (superiority, perhaps?) of training and experience [after all, it seems feasible to conclude that the 'average' Custodes winds up living hundreds of years longer than the 'average' Marine in the 31st millenium, even if the Marine might see more combat]. 

Now as for why they're taller ... well, it might in part be so that more musculature can be anchored to their frame; or it might be to give them additional imposing bulk [bodyguards, after all, frequently are selected for being able to intimidate just by standing there - and Napoleon derived his [false] reputatoin for being short due to the preference he had for being surrounded by really, really tall French elite soldiers]. It's probably worth remembering that the way a Marine's supposed dto look in fluff is far 'broader' than an average man of his size would be, even if he's also two feet taller. Perhaps Custodes don't fit this general 'wide-oblong' shape, and instead are bigger almost proportionately along both axes? In addition to this, the Emperor himself is frequently depicted as towering over even Astartes, so perhaps it was thought wise that the folk who'll be forming a living-shield between him an the enemy might also benefit from being similarly oversized for bullet-taking purposes. 

Still, with all of this talking-up, physiological impressiveness, and apparently superior gear, this doesn't make Custodes always-better in all situations. I'm not simply talking about the whole 'not built nor equipped nor trained for taking worlds and systems' thing, either. One of my recollections from The Wolf of Ash and Fire is of the Custodes deployed there alongside the Emperor doing some ... questionable things from a tactical perspective purely because Emperor. I know it's hard-wired into their very DNA to put his life first and all ... but diving off into a fairly massive abyss and taking yourself out on protruding pylons etc. on the way down doesn't exactly seem the most sensible thing to do - particularly if the sudden departure-en-masse of Custodes from the battlefield down the aforementioned hole [which, to be fair, the Justaerin in the same story ALSO do after their primarch) may create a dangerously unbalanced situation for an Imperial army including Custodes amidst their number. [having said that, if the Emperor hasn't taken to the field himself, then this particular bull-headed tactical tendency doesn't appear to crop up. Which is fortunate]. 

Anyway, I've probably gone on for long enough. 

If it comes down to picking out which Custodes depiction from the novels best matches how I'd envisage the Custodes operating and their combat capabilities ... I think it's the wrong question to be asking to just look at how killy they are versus Marines [which appears to be a thanklessly shifting standard anyway, dependent upon the writer]. Instead, it's all about the approach. 

And for that, for my money, Abnett's Blood Games wins hands down. 

Not because it shows Custodes as being better or on par with Astartes (I'm inclined to disregard a strict-literal reading of the comment about them being 'the same but different' or whatever, anyway). But instead, because it shows Custodes actually using some of their most important assets - their intellects and creativity - to protect their Liege. Whehter data-analysis, 'diplomatic' representation, the actual infiltration etc. involved inthe Blood Game (and the game itself) or any of the rest of it.

THAT'S the appropriate measure of their capabilities. Not whether they can arm-wrestle a plot-armoured World Eater. 


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Horus Heresy Inq-style (featuring truescale IVth and VIth; Remembrancers; Agents of the Sigillite; and more)
Inq28/Inquisimunda





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