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Okay, this might seem like a dumb question, but if all of you fluff masters out there would humor me...
What exactly is a servitor??? Is it a living human being that was so bionically augmented for one purpose that they become like robots? (Which is okay by Imperium's standard for technology, its based on a human, not just a souless AI.) Or is it a cadaver, or corpse that was re-animated through bionics? Kinda like a servo-skull, it just happens to be made out of the whole body, not just the skull. Or is a servitor somewhere indefinably in the middle?
I know they are treated like servants/slaves and are even considered pieces of wargear. There are servitors of just about every shape and size, including psyber-animals and cherub familiars, and can be used in many different tedious/dangerous jobs. The don't seem to have wills of thier own.
Is there a difference between a servitor and a thrall? What I got from the book "Iron Hands" was that a thrall was a Space Marine Neophyte that didn't make it for some reason, but can't/doesn't want to go back to his homeworld, and so is basically a slave to the Marines and treated like chopped liver...they seemed to have thier own sort of free-will, though, so are these guys servitor equivilants, or what?
Thanks in advance for all the help, this information is kinda important to my army's fluff, plus I just really wanted to know who/what these guys are anyways. Again, thanks!!!
From what I understand, servitors are all still "living" and are not re-animated dead. There still needs to be some spark of life in the body as the Imperium woudnt use AI to control the creature.
As to servitors and thralls, yes, they are different.
Servitors are mindless slaves pretty much, with no thought / will of their own
Thralls (as you said) are mostly SM's that didnt make the "cut" so they work on the BattleBarges and Monistaries performing other tasks for the marines.
As Knape says, a servitor is alive although only technically so. â€˜Servitorâ€™ is a general term that encompasses a wide variety of what is essentially cyborgs, and servitors can look as human or as machine-like as their creators want. The only things all servitors have in common are that they are mechanically augmented in some fashion, even if it is just a few neural-interface chips, and that extended lobotomies have made them insentient and in most cases entirely unaware of their own existence. They have no will but their programming, no life but their servitude; in essence they are zombies although the neurons controlling their mechanical augmentations are still technically alive.Originally Posted by Son Of The Forge
In some of the old fluff it was stated that becoming a servitor could be both a reward and a punishment. Pious servants of the Adeptus Administratum are offered to continue their existence as servo-skulls after their retirement as a reward for their service to the Imperium, while criminals can be sentenced to eternity as a servitor performing the lowliest of task, and with just enough awareness left that they are able to appreciate the horror of their cruel fate. Such servitors always wear a sign around their neck stating their crime to serve as a warning to other would-be criminals.As both you and Knape have stated, thralls are not servitors. They are sometimes but not always Marine recruits who didnâ€™t pass the Chapterâ€™s trials and tests or were unfit for implantation with the special Marine implants, and while they might be augmented like servitors they are also self-aware and with a free will unlike servitors. Some thralls are treated badly by their Marine kin, such as those of the Iron Hands Chapter that you mention (Iron Hands hate weakness above all else, and their thralls are considered weak because they didnâ€™t succeed in becoming Marines, hence the harsh treatment), while others are treated as the Space Marineâ€™s own brethren, such as those of the Ultramarines who consider being a thrall to be only one step below being a Marine and a great honour.Originally Posted by Son Of The Forge
Thralls should not be underestimated either; it is not all that uncommon to see thralls take up arms against the enemies of the Chapter they serve, and impossible victories have been won by thralls after their Space Marine masters have been all but killed by an enemy underestimating these supposed slavesâ€™ will to defend the Marines they serve. The Space Wolvesâ€™ mighty Fortress-Monastery on Fenris, the Fang, was once besieged by the Daemon Primarch Magnus and his Legion of Thousand Sons while most of the Space Wolves were away, and without the bravery of the resident thralls the Fang would have fallen to the Chaos forces before the Chapter could return to defend it. Thralls have also fought side by side the Ultramarines countless of times, and the Black Templars also depend on thralls to defend many of their Fortress-Monasteries around the galaxy.
Most thralls are proud of serving a Space Marine Chapter and go to great lengths to ensure that their Marine masters lack for nothing; thralls are trained as artificers that care for the Marinesâ€™ power armours, they crew and sometimes even captain the Space Marinesâ€™ interstellar fleets, they pilot the Thunderhawks that drop Marines into the thick of battle, they heal the wounded in the Chapterâ€™s Apothecarion, they fight off enemies penetrating beyond the Marinesâ€™ line of defence, and are generally vital to the continued survival of a Space Marine Chapter.
"Girls are nice and cuddly on the outside, and freaky on the inside." ~ Lost Nemesis.
I think it's quite a blurred line between between servitor and non servitor in some cases.. Some people are literally wired into their jobs from birth, after all. I think what really defines a servitor is the level of lobotomization they go through.
Someone made a great model once of an Imperial librarian who was literally attached to his desk, incapable of moving.
Personally, I think it's a great element to the theme.. It shows just how cheap life is in 40k. Human beings really are just organic components in the eyes of their masters, useful provided they perform their tasks, and nothing beyond that.