Gland War Veteran
Gland War Veterans (Called Glandies or Gland Warriors for short by some in /tg/, or if you're being scientific, Homo sapiens auctus glandulae which literally means wise man with increased adrenal glands) were a specialized, genetically modified force of Imperial Guard Veteran designed to battle the Tyranids. They are considered by the Mechanicus as a far more successful and stable substitute compared to the Afriel Strains.
Origin & Development
After the Forge World of Dantris III became heavily infested and polluted by Tyranid forces, the Techpriests of the planet, under orders from radical Inquisitor-Lord Varius, modified several companies of the Lostock 23rd to fight in the hellish conditions.
They had many organs and drug-secreting glands implanted in their bodies so that they could survive unprotected in hazardous environments. New additions such as organs that would secrete stims, painkillers, and various medical drugs; more powerful natural air filters via a modified lung; enhanced bio-musculature structure for increased strength and reflexes. Their genetic tempering and augmentation has made them a distinct Abhuman, although whether they can breed and successfully pass on their genetic coding and new augmented organs is unknown. Their combat abilities and aggressiveness were also further increased in order to deal with the myriad of threats from the varied Tyranid forces.
Heck, the Gland War Veterans were so successful and super-anal retentive that even the Hive Mind thought they were crazy as fuck. Despite the heavy losses the veterans took, they were able to ensure the successful defence of Dantis III. Only three Gland Warriors are believed to have survived, which were taken by the Inquisition for study and "debriefing".
At least one of them ended up in an Inquisitor's retinue so apparently "debriefing" doesn't always mean "dissected" or "killed with fire." Not all that surprising since they exist with the sanction of an Inquisitor Lord and the Mechanicus knows how to make them so dissection would be pointless. So, they got to experience one of the rare, honest-to-Emperor, Inquisition debriefings.
With that being said, the original pioneer for Glandies, Inquisitor-Lord Varius, has been placed under investigation by the Ordo Hereticus for exceeding his Inquisitorial mandate by intentionally sabotaging a Tyranid research facility, and then allowing the force sent to investigate to be suffer heavy losses and (with the exception of the Red Scorpions) be entirely wiped out just to demonstrate how powerful/intelligent the Tyranids could be (don't worry, he performed Exterminatus afterwards to wipe them out). The data on Gland Warriors is held as evidence of his own damnation; however while they've drawn it up, his death warrant remains unsigned because the Glandies are so useful to the Imperium (in effect, until the Tyranids are wiped out they're not going to do a thing to hinder him). Still, the Inquisition probably found it couldn’t use the Gland Warriors as evidence against him when they tried him because it was made by the Adeptus Mechanicus. He merely ordered enhanced Guardsmen, which is not heretical at all.
Gland War Veterans look almost indistinguishable from the average Human (especially if in armour), though they may be differentiated by increased muscle mass, heavier skeletal structure or a constantly heightened state of agitation or hyper-aggression.
However the augmentations that they receive can often have drawbacks. The early Lostok Gland Warriors could push their bodies significantly higher in feats of endurance than normal humans, but occasionally were at constant risk of metabolic breakdown; other Glandies risked temporarily shorting out their secretion glands if they were overused, but without any fatal flaws. Thankfully later developments in the D-99 regiment had no drawbacks at all.
Later refinements to the Gland Warriors capabilities attempted to increase their effectiveness against other xenos breeds such as Orks, Tau or Eldar, but never had the same successes as those Gland Warriors sanctioned by Inquisitor Varius against the Tyranids. These new Glandies would always have some kind of drawback. They could increase muscle mass and aggressiveness at a cost of over-calcifying their bones and joints (making it difficult for them to move), or increase their levels of aggression but make it nearly impossible for them to follow complex orders in battle. A shame the Imperium is too pants-on-head to realize that warriors capable of squishing a Tyranid invasion are perfectly good enough for fighting any other enemy. Heck, with some Commissariate sponsored discipline, tactics training and improved wargear, the aggression enhancements could be removed to make for more reliable, skillful soldiers to improve their effectiveness even further. Or just lobotomize them and stick in some control cybernetics instead. Not like they're ever going to be allowed to live past their service anyway.
Difference between Gland Warriors and Space Marines
You may wonder what makes Glandies so different from Space Marines despite sharing what appears to be similar biological enhancements. The answer could be that Space Marines use artificial organs to help "augment" their body in new and interesting ways that are simply not possible without them. However, Space Marines are still considered Human due to very little genetic tempering and if you somehow removed those organs (without causing utter biological system failure to the patient) there would be little to differentiate between what was left and a regular human with a bad attitude. Their size and such is mostly due to increased growth hormone production over a longer period than natural and a bit of gene-therapy to smooth it all together and generally improve what already exists.
On the other hand, Glandies are not only supplemented with new organs, but draw from a completely altered DNA strand that may completely alter the genetic make up of the original owner. This is because they have no Progenoid and so the genetic alterations are heavy to prevent implant rejection. However, in every incarnation of the rules, whether it be on the tabletop or in RPGs, Gland Warriors retain an ultimately "human" statline with only a few minor alterations; typically higher Weapon Skill and Initiative. This is because their biological upgrades are somewhat more subtle, with the actual "glands" of their Lostok Augmentations secreting drugs and hormones into their bloodstreams, increasing the strength and agility of their natural-born muscles and then filtering these chemicals before they become a drawback and cause the body to crash, while also making them resistant to many external chemicals and pathogens too.
With that being said, the procedures undertaken to become a Gland Warrior are not as time intensive as with an Astartes, who by necessity have to take their candidates at a very young age (usually early-mid teens) with the process of implantation taking about a decade or more as the applicant passes through his Chapter's 10th company. By contrast, the surgeries that gland warriors get are considered "somewhat short, it takes many months for the recipient to learn how to properly utilize their new biological additions", meaning the Imperium can generate gland warrior super-soldiers much more quickly. If talented tithe recruits are scouted, their training to adjust to their implants could easily be covered during their mandatory Imperial Guard training months for maximum efficiency.
And that's not to say that Gland Warriors cannot be further augmented with any of a variety of commonplace military upgrades such as vat-grown muscle fibres, subdermal armour and minor cybernetic enhancements, because if you're going to the extent of introducing foreign DNA to the human genome, you might as well protect your investment. And yes, commonplace. Because lore says that augmetics are extremely common and finding someone without at least a few is unlikely. Which makes everything more horrifying when you realize this means the poor cannon fodder Guardsmen are supersoldiers by any other setting's standards.
Glandies are not non-human or inhuman, though. They still are genetically descended from H. sapiens and so still scientifically human. That's pretty much where it stops, though. Interesting thought is: can Glandies become Space Marines? Considering that Astartes recruit from a very young age by necessity and are incredibly selective regarding genetic compatibility, this seems unlikely; an adult Gland Warrior with foreign DNA undoubtedly fails the process at every hurdle, not least without either incorporating some additional technology that we are unaware of, or by contaminating the gene-seed, which is something considered extremely heretical.
However the better question is whether a Space Marine can become a Gland Warrior? This is potentially more likely since there are established precedents for interfering with existing Astartes by adding additional implants on top of the Space Marine organs, it doesn't stretch the bounds of imagination to conceive of Astartes receiving something akin to Gland Warrior implants. The next issue becomes whether the Lostok Augmentations are compatible with Astartes physiology, considering whatever superhuman chemicals and enzymes that the actual "glands" secrete into their bodies may simply get neutralised by the Oolitic kidney; or may not have any effect on a individual already enhanced (there is no guarantee that these things "stack"); or whether it would just be easier to attempt something else entirely, seeing as the Magnificat organ does essentially the same thing for Primaris Marines without worrying about unstable drawbacks or issues of xenos-contamination.
While we may not have enough evidence of this in fluff, in order for the Glandies to become a sub-species of the mainstay Human, they must:
- have a different but stable DNA code
- have conditions that enable them to adapt to a particular scenario
- be able to procreate with their own kind and breed true.
For the Glandies, they were given special organs to better adapt in fighting Tyranids which is far more specialized than the average 'Jack-Of-All-Trades' gene-seed enhancements given to the Space Marines. Although, whatever helps fight Tyranids would be useful in fighting anything else, too. It does, however, only have usefulness in combat which is fine for 40K but if you win the Eternal War then the augmentations would be pretty much useless outside of settling Death Worlds.
The high specialization and the complete overhaul to make these men more able to compete with a Tyranid organism would be enough to classify them as distinct from Humans. Furthermore, Gland Warriors have their DNA mixed with a Mechanicus improved DNA base which will be replicated through cell division. This further elevates the Glandies from conventional Humans and further differentiate themselves from the Astartes who do not directly undergo DNA tempering to their human genome, but have it swimming through their blood symbiotically. The DNA in question is still human, though, so might simply be removing the natural limits of human bodies and bringing out the potential of human genetics in general. Though probably only as much as needed to withstand the strain of the implants' effects.
The subject of being a stable "sub-species" is never really broached by GW, even though they usually lump Gland Warriors in to the "Abhuman" category along with other human strains like Ratlings and Ogryns. This might be because GW failed at high school levels of biology (especially when they continually insist that Astartes are genetically modified). Having different and stable DNA is one thing; being able to procreate and pass on those genetic traits is another. Since most of the organs are surgically implanted rather than being grown within the body, it is uncertain whether a mommy and a daddy glandie could have a baby glandie or if they would produce a whole new type of human being with the genetic markers of a gland warrior, but without any of the implants. At the very least their children, if they can have children, would most likely inherit the improve DNA base the glandies are given as part of the subjects' preparation.
What is known is that small communities of Gland Warriors do exist both within and without the Imperium, though the level of tolerance towards these communities appears to be the same as the tolerance of any other mutants or abhumans populations, for example, the Red Night Brotherhood was destroyed by the Ordo Hereticus. Other warrior lodges exist, either as the forgotten remnants of older wars, or the subject of experiments from roving Mechanicus Genetors; both authorised and renegade, meaning that the loyalties of those Gland Warriors can be as varied as any other human. Loose Glandies often hire themselves out as mercenaries or bodyguards, but need to be watched in case their killing urges override their loyalty.
In any case, "Official fluff" (i.e excluding FFG) puts their creation alongside the invasion of Hive Fleet Kraken, which means that they are only a few decades old at best, so the Imperium might not have had enough time to properly categorize them, or for a sufficiently large population to arise before it actually becomes a cause for concern. And given their youth we can probably ignore any claims of glandies outside of strict Imperial control or rather view those others as not actual gland warriors but simply has modified humans in the same vein.
On The Tabletop
Due to their success, Gland War Veterans are getting increasing attention to the Imperial Guard and has been nagging the Mechanicus like a housewife to give them some of these augmented Abhumans.
The original Chapter Approved rules for them "upgrade" a guard infantry squad for 15 points to give them the Fleet special rule, however this came with the drawback where if you ever rolled a 6 on the fleet (run) move, you lost a model in the squad. Suffice to say this was shit.
If you want to field them today and be entirely legal, use the D-99 Army List in the Imperial Armour 4: The Anphelion Project, who are a further refined version of Gland Warriors after being inducted into the service of the Inquisition and used against Tyranids. Giving them all +1 WS and I, as well as Preferred Enemy (Tyranids) and Stubborn. Though the army list could also be used to represent "experimental detachments" geno-enhanced to combat other xenos species at a risk of creating unstable gland warriors.
- Warhammer_40,000/Tactics/D-99(7E) - The Tyrannic War Veterans of Elysian 99th Regiment, gene-augmented and inducted into the Inquisition.