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Crew sizes of Imperial, Space Marine and Chaos ships

Chaos Imperial Navy Space Marine Battlefleet Gothic

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#1
Brotherhood ofChaos

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Does any one know some numbers on these vessels?
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#2
Chaplain Elijah

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According to Andy Chambers for Battlefleet Gothic :
 

My two pennyworth on crew sizes was around 1500-2000 per damage point for Imperial and Chaos capital ships (adjust down a bit for Eldar and up a bit for Orks), but only around 2-500 total for escorts. Space Marine ships, as had been mooted, I would imagine to benefit from a lot of automated systems and wired in servitors to reduce their crew requirements to a minimum and increase their state of readiness in comparison with Navy ships. I would imagine that most Imperial and Chaos capital ships could find transport capacity for troops equal to about 1/3 to 1/2 their crew compliment. Tanks, artillery, Titans etc would need specialist transports to carry in any significant numbers.

A far more interesting way of looking at crew numbers is summed up in this excerpt from a short story I've been writing for my own amusement.


Nathan woke to the sound of screaming.

He lurched up with a half-strangled yelp, almost braining himself on the bottom of Kron's bunk. He stared wildly about him, gulping for breath. The oppressive redlight of the bunkroom still surrounded him, the cloying odour of sour sweat and grease still fought the sharp tang of coolant in the air down here. The room was quiet save for the drip of the condensers and the sussurance of night noises made by forty sleeping men.

Nathan wiped a shaky hand across across his eyes and peered over towards Hendriks. If anyone had screamed it would have been Hendriks, he had nightmares nearly every sleep-shift. They all did, but Hendriks just couldn't take it. Perhaps he had a guilty conscience, or perhaps he was just some dumb farmer who was completely terrified by being shut up in one of the Emperor's warships.

The scream came again, but it was tinny and distant, carried along by the conduits from another bunkroom. Pity the poor devils in there, thought Nathan, every one of them wide awake and praying the screamer didn't go berserk and start clawing and biting at them. Didn't turn into a wild beast like Fetchin had.

Nathan lay back in the narrow bunk and tried to recapture sleep. He tried to imagine all the other shipmen doing the same. Start with this gundeck. Forty guns with forty(ish) crews each, thats sixteen hundred, another gundeck on the port side for three thousand two hundred. Then there were the lance turrets, port and starboard, nobody seemed to know just how big the crews for those beasts were, call it another sixteen hundred a piece. This was working well, his eyelids were drooping. That was six and a half thousand souls (give or take). The torps probably had a crew bigger than a single gun but less than a whole deck - maybe a thousand. That made seven and a half... engines must be at least two or three thousand more...


Edited by Chaplain Elijah, 02 January 2020 - 07:57 PM.

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#3
MegaVolt87

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Wasn't there official technical readouts for BFG that had specs for this sort of thing ?
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#4
Lord_Caerolion

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Not from Battlefleet Gothic, but the Rogue Trader p&p RPG had crew figures for their usable ships, which included several of the Chaos Grand Cruisers.


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#5
DuskRaider

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Depends on the vessel. Smaller ones may have skeleton crews, at least in the case of Chaos. We see examples of this with the Night Lords trilogy. Some are probably just barely making ends meet as far as operation and maintenance are concerned while others that are part of larger and / or more influential Legions or warbands would probably carry a full crew (like the Death Guard in Lords of Silence).

As far as the Imperium, I'm going to guess their crew are mostly at optimal level. They have what seems like a limitless populace to pull from and the Mechanicum / Imperium abroad are pretty fanatical when it comes to doing things by the book (although with certain elements or fringe Chapters or Regiments they may deviate).
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#6
Lord_Caerolion

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I'd also add that Chaos crews, if they are at full capacity, are far more likely to be comprised almost entirely of press-ganged slaves, whereas the Imperium is almost certain to have at least a sizable component of schola-trained/lifelong naval crew.


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#7
DuskRaider

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Yup, Chaos makes wide use of slavery. Crews would also consist of abhumans or mutants as well.

Edited by DuskRaider, 03 January 2020 - 05:43 AM.

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#8
Lord_Caerolion

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I mean, the Imperium does too (slavery, that is), they just don't rely as heavily on the practice, pretty much reserving it purely for the enginariums and ordnance loading, etc. Other than that, the Imperium tends to rely on actual trained, albeit probably indentured, workers and members of the Imperial Navy. With Chaos, I get the impression that outside the core bridge crew, they're almost certainly all press-ganged/slaves, with even the enforcers being ex-slaves that have proven their loyalty/submission and are now taking a chance to repay the beatings they got when initially "joining" the crew.

 

So basically, the "best case scenario" for the Chaos fleets, being a fully manned ship after the latest enforced drafting, supplementing the valuable bridge crew, is basically the worst-case scenario of the Imperium, being what backwater planets without ready access to a Schola Progenium have to resort to, and the best-case scenario of the Imperium (full Schola-trained crew, excluding the disposable crew in the enginariums etc) are almost entirely out of reach of Chaos ships.


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#9
Bung

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If you read the ...of Mars Trilogy you see that even Imperium / Mechanicum press gang their crew.
I expect them to work like British Empire Navy where only the Oficers and important support personal had been free / nobility.

#10
Leif Bearclaw

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If you read the ...of Mars Trilogy you see that even Imperium / Mechanicum press gang their crew.
I expect them to work like British Empire Navy where only the Oficers and important support personal had been free / nobility.

Not really. The Imperium functions more like 'what people assume press ganging was like when they haven't actually read about it', with thousands of untrained underhivers and prisoners from penal worlds herded into gun decks and kept as virtual slaves.

 

The real Royal Navy did not use impressment as a matter of course, rather only resorting to to in times of sudden, extreme manpower demand (most famously during the Napoleonic Wars, which was also the last time the RN used impressment), and at its most extreme pressed men only got up to around 50% of total manpower. It was also a form of conscription (which most European nations used at the time, Britain was the odd on out really for only using this more limited form), not enslavement (pressed men even carried a lesser penalty for desertion than volunteers, 'returned to service' vs 'death'). They primarily pressed merchant sailors, fishermen etc. when they could, rather than any old farmhand (which makes sense, putting a bunch of people onto a ship that have never sailed before is obviously going to make sailing and fighting the ship harder). The Navy far, far preferred to use volunteers for fairly obvious reasons (better motivation, easier to train, less likely to desert at first opportunity etc.).

 

And that's today's brief historical tangent msn-wink.gif.


Edited by Leif Bearclaw, 03 January 2020 - 03:25 PM.

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#11
Plasmablasts

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I think some Black Library novels have indicated that some crew are born and live out their lives on ships without ever leaving. Can’t remember where I read that though.

#12
Dark Shepherd

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I think some Black Library novels have indicated that some crew are born and live out their lives on ships without ever leaving. Can’t remember where I read that though.


Relentless by Richard Williams is a good one and is about Naval crew. Think it said ten of thousands of slaves on engine decks alone of battleships

#13
Cpt.Danjou

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Some ships do probably have families for generations living on them, some of the ships have a  crew of small towns, creating their own history and culture. In the Dark heresy rpg, you could be a space born, which family had lived so long that they had started to look odd according to planet dwellers, longer limbs, thinner and paler. Then there is probably different between the different chapters and legions. I rather be a slave on a ship ruled by the Iron Warriors or Black Legion, than World Eaters, Death Guard or even worse the Emperor's Children. The crew on a UltraMarine ship is probably way different than the one a Fenrisian Ship. I see the crew of a Space wolf ship more feral than the crew on a Iron Hands ship, the latter is probably crewed by more servitors and "cyborgs", while the SW crew are used to dark corridors, a muskier smell, and pelts and runes hanging from walls. The crew on the Wolves ships are probably rarely taken from Fenris it self, feral "barbarian" warriors are not the best crew on a Void ship. Just like the Kaerls of the fang they are families who are set apart from the ordinary population of Fenris.

 

I would guess that the families who crew on the Rock and on Phalanx have been there for millennia, both those "ships" are huge, I would not be surprised that there are crew on the Phalanx who have never seen an Imperial fist marine in the flesh.

 

Back to the original question. The largest battleships of the imperium have a crew of 100k+ and an escort has around 20k+, Imperial Marines usually have Battle barges as their largest ships, some have bigger. A battle barge is somewhere between a cruiser and an Escort, but probably have a smaller streamlined crew, so my guess would be between 10k to 25k large crew. What the Chaos legion uses we can only guess, we know that the Death Guard have several Heresy era battleships, and stolen Imperial warships, plus Space hulks in their Plague fleet, from the codex. How those are crewed I can't even imagine, slaves, sorcery, bound daemons, bloated servitors, anything goes really. I just know I would not want to be the crew in the Plague fleet. 

Same goes to all the other Chaos ships, what/who crews them are probably not pleasant. Slaves drugged up their eyeballs, who are used in ways we can't imagine by bound daemonettes, Keepers  and Noise marines on the Slaanesh ships. The crews on Khorne ships are probably very very careful so they don't anger their masters, "Raaaarwrrr off with their heads!". Why would the Thousand sons even need crews, sorcery, sorcery and trust that their god will take them where they should be.  :)

What we can assume is that the crews on all chaos ships are in constant fear, are extremely obedient and the ones who are alive after a week are extremely efficient. The ones who protests, are inept and useless are weeded out very fast, becoming moving target practice, playthings or even worse for the masters. Even ordinary human officers and respected crew are probably careful what they do and say. There might be specialists "psykers", "warlocks", "seers" and "prophets" who have a better standing by the marines.

On the Chaos ships there are probably cults who sees the Marines and greater daemons as gods, and some of these becomes the fanatical cultist who joins the legions for war, some even gets the treatment and becomes marines themselves. 

Need to stop ranting now



#14
Marshal Rohr

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ADBs most recent book had tens of thousands crewing a single frigate.

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#15
Bung

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If you read the ...of Mars Trilogy you see that even Imperium / Mechanicum press gang their crew.
I expect them to work like British Empire Navy where only the Oficers and important support personal had been free / nobility.

Not really. The Imperium functions more like 'what people assume press ganging was like when they haven't actually read about it', with thousands of untrained underhivers and prisoners from penal worlds herded into gun decks and kept as virtual slaves.

 

The real Royal Navy did not use impressment as a matter of course, rather only resorting to to in times of sudden, extreme manpower demand (most famously during the Napoleonic Wars, which was also the last time the RN used impressment), and at its most extreme pressed men only got up to around 50% of total manpower. It was also a form of conscription (which most European nations used at the time, Britain was the odd on out really for only using this more limited form), not enslavement (pressed men even carried a lesser penalty for desertion than volunteers, 'returned to service' vs 'death'). They primarily pressed merchant sailors, fishermen etc. when they could, rather than any old farmhand (which makes sense, putting a bunch of people onto a ship that have never sailed before is obviously going to make sailing and fighting the ship harder). The Navy far, far preferred to use volunteers for fairly obvious reasons (better motivation, easier to train, less likely to desert at first opportunity etc.).

 

And that's today's brief historical tangent msn-wink.gif.

 

 

Actually, in that way the beginning of Priest of Mars, they do what you describe, with the  40k twist of course. ;)

They didnt take untrained ferral worlders or hive gangers, they raided on a mechanicum / forge world and took operators of cargo haulers, mashine operators etc. the grunts you find in a car plant, so they already had a technical knowledge to operate things. But anything above basic labour was done by tech priests. 

Same as using merchant sailors etc. who already knew the basics for the royal navy but its still 40k and lives dont matter.

In the novel is an overseer complaining to much and ends up as a servitor. 

 

I think this picture from the rulebook shows it, when we talk about crew (loading of a nove canon):

450px-Slave_Gang_Loading_Nova_Cannon_Amm







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