Is that correct? Because canon has changed before, but is this right?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You mean Non-Sororitas, female Space Marine... orders or individuals? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 27, 2022 at 8:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @From Solutions to the problem belong in answers, not comments \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 27, 2022 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil I didn't feel I had an answer, just some related information and possible mitigations. \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Aug 27, 2022 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


Here's an article on the topic, citing some comments by Alan Merrett. According to him, prior to Rogue Trader they tried selling female miniature, but nobody was buying, so by the time Rogue Trader/40k rolled around, they were only producing male miniatures. Since they only had male miniatures, the lore was written to support that state of affairs. Basically, merchandising shaped the lore, but the lore has been males-only from the start.

Early Citadel ranges had female versions of most character types[.] But when we started selling[,] retailers kept complaining to us that customers weren't buying the female models[.] So we took the female models out of circulation. [...]

So when we got to the new Rogue Trader ranges and exciting new Space Marine model ranges it was difficult to see how we could logistically add in an occasional female model to the mix[.] So we didn't make any female ones except for the very occasional ones[.] All the background fluff about why there are only male Marines is there to justify a commercial logistics issue.

Here's another article discussing the same quote, which also points out how horrifying the Space Marine creation process is:

And we know that when a young boy is chosen to be a Space Marine he goes through such incredible changes to his body that he is essentially unrecognizable[.]

So the question is: what would a female Space Marine look like? Well, they wouldn’t look like Sisters of Battle, because they’re now much taller and broader and tougher and stronger. [...] No, a female Space Marine would look, for all intents and purposes, like a male Space Marine[.]

If you are roleplaying, and want to play a female Space Marine, remember that Rule 0 is a thing: "The Game Master is always right". If you are a Game Master and want to allow female Space Marines, then they exist. If you are a player and you want to play a female Space Marine, ask your GM.

As a GM, if one of my players asked me to play a female Space Marine, I wouldn't be willing to utterly contradict the lore (since I have some players who are quite attached to it), so instead I'd spring an aeons-long project of the Adeptas Sororitas finally coming to fruition - a fully functional female Geneseed, bringing with it a new generation of Space Marine-equivalent Sisters of Battle.

Then, as I'm That Kind of GM, I'd probably inject a shipload of conflict around what has just happened. Is a geneseed not from an emperor-created Primarch considered Heretical? Does this new Chapter fit under the Adeptus Ministorum, or should it be moved to the Adeptus Astartes? Should the Abbess be considered Chapter Master or Primarch of the new Chapter? Where did the female geneseed actually come from?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Liberally cut quote added. Unfortunately, the content from Merrett is included as an image, a screenshot of a tweet(?), so I couldn't just copy-and-paste. It was a pretty long tweet(?), so I cut it, and I might have copied erroneously or cut badly. \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Aug 27, 2022 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree with your GMing style, because I can imagine some people (especially, er, women) might want to play a female character but not deal with institutionalized misogyny. Still, +1 for interesting article! \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Aug 27, 2022 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @From that bubble appears to be Faceboom messanger \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 27, 2022 at 17:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Slick answer with direct quotes from Merrett, can't get much better than that. Very interesting history! Good tvtropes link too, I'll use that! I didn't read your answer as being about misogyny. In the modern context we might think "well the sexes are equal" but we are talking about millennial old tradition of divinely genetically engineered super soldiers here, it's not about rights. The 40k human lore is steeped in tradition in a society where going against tradition could mean the destruction of an entire planet. \$\endgroup\$
    – user77842
    Aug 29, 2022 at 3:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanB "not deal with institutionalized misogyny" The 40K Universe consists of nothing but instituionalized misogony, pretty much every -ism you can think of and a good portion of fascism sprinkled all over it for good measure. It is understandable that one does not want to play in such a dark and gritty setting, but it's like not wanting to have magic in D&D or starships in Star Wars. The solution is to pick another game, not warp the existing game out of it's core point. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Aug 31, 2022 at 6:20

There's the Adepta Sororitas, but they are not Space Marines

The original rules in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987) do not explictly speak about this. There are however multiple places that imply Space Marines are male:

Page 13:

9 Space Marines and a Sergeant make up a 10 man Squad of Marines.

Page 154, detailing the Legiones Astartes (or, "Space Marines"):

Marines belonging to the same Chapter are called battle-brothers or battle-kin.

Page 160, detailing the Fortress-Monastery of the Space Wolves chapter:

Each of the fighting brethren has his own cell, a simple room in which he sleeps.

However, the book points out that each chapter follows their own rules, so who knows. For example, there is the Adepta Sororitas, described on page 268:

An interesting example is the Adepta Sororitas, an order of devotional warrior women. The Adepta is organized along similar lines to the Space Marines. The Sisterhood, as it is generally known, is led by the Abbess and includes many lesser ranks and offices in a similar way to the Adeptus Astrartes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ sorry to bust your bubble: military units always speak about manpower, which just means "people", military manuals around the world, even nowadays, only use male form address, no matter the gender od the personal. The term Soldier or their ranks is generally considered to be of male gender in languages that care about that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 27, 2022 at 9:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ The generic use of male pronouns in text to theoretically include men and women was typical at the time this was written, so that specifically isn't great evidence either way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Aug 27, 2022 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rogue Trader had models for female marines. A whopping two or three, I think. Iirc, the story was something like this: They made a few models, not a lot of people bought them, so they thought nobody wanted female space marines (with the demographic of players being primarily male at the time, this does not surprise me that much tbh). If I have the time later, I'll do some research and write up an answer, if no one else does in the meantime. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Aug 27, 2022 at 10:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you've got a good start to an answer here, but your research is very much lacking. Some simple searches shows that there are female space marine minis made by Games Workshop which pretty much conflicts with your initial analysis of gendered language in the rules. It may be more helpful to update based on this new info. I'd put an answer up, but I'm not at all a 40k expert (only played it a short time in 90s), so don't feel comfortable trying to cobble together an answer. -1 for now. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 27, 2022 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ The fact that miniatures exists with females in power armour says nothing about whether or not a female can be a Space Marine. The miniature is not called a Space Marine. It's called "female warrior". And warriors in Power Armor are not Space Marines. That takes more. See: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/103626/… \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Aug 27, 2022 at 12:46

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