SF4 4

Space Marines (1980)

OK, so not an RPG. Space Marines (1980) is a set of rules for military science fiction wargaming from Fantasy Games Unlimited. It is exactly as complex and kind of tedious as you’re imaging. Well, not entirely — it has a pretty good sense of humor actually, judging from the wide array of silly aliens you can play. There’s lots of human factions, reptile aliens, giant bugs. There’s bear people who have a constitutional monarchy and dog people who have a representative democracy. The bird people are oligarchs, the cat people have a feudal system. Kind of love all them.

Two reasons I trot this out. First, the cover art is by Jeff Dee and all the interiors are by Dave Sutherland, two early, classic D&D illustrators. It’s particularly unusual to see Sutherland straying out of the TSR offices.

Second is that this is clear proof that there were space marines in RPGs and wargames long before 40k. That’s pretty obvious (the term has actually been around since at least the 1940s) but bears reiterating, since some Games Workshop cease-and-desist always seems to be claiming the contrary.

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