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Gluttony and the Omophagia implant


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#1 HappyDaze

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:15 PM

I'm looking at making an NPC CSM that has Gluttony as his Disgrace. In his case, it's an unusual appetite - an appreciation for the memories and sensations obtained through his omophagia implant. Looking at Black Crusade, there doesn't appear to be much to guide my hand on how much is obtained and what needs to be consumed to get the memories of the meal, so I'll ask for some ideas from here. Extra thanks for those that can cite sources from WH40K materials (novels, comics, whatever).

1) What can be obtained throught this implant?

2) How long is the information obtained through this implant retained?

3) Does it matter what part of the enemy is consumed and how much of a sample is consumed? Do a few stray hairs or skin cells left behind on bedsheets carry as much as fresh blood or brains? Could a Slaneeshi CSM swab the inside of another's cheek with his tongue while kissing them and get enough of a sample to learn something through his omophagia? What if he bit the lip?

4) Does this work on xenos (that have fleshy bodies,  NOT things like Necrons)?

5) Does this work on creatures with the daemonic type? What about possessed creatues?

6) Does the tissue have to be fresh, or could it be used on dead tissue (recently dead like a murder victim or even long dead like a fossil)?

7) Is it easy to ignore/suppress this implant's function, or do you get amazing insight into every meal you eat, no matter how mundane? I had imagined that the CSM has to specifically activate it, just as they aren't always drooling acid or oozing mucranoid secretions.

I know that this is NOT a hard science point of the game; I'm looking to see how far others are willing to let this implant go in their games.


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#2 Alekzanter

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:50 AM

HappyDaze said:

 

I'm looking at making an NPC CSM that has Gluttony as his Disgrace. In his case, it's an unusual appetite - an appreciation for the memories and sensations obtained through his omophagia implant. Looking at Black Crusade, there doesn't appear to be much to guide my hand on how much is obtained and what needs to be consumed to get the memories of the meal, so I'll ask for some ideas from here. Extra thanks for those that can cite sources from WH40K materials (novels, comics, whatever).

1) What can be obtained throught this implant?

2) How long is the information obtained through this implant retained?

3) Does it matter what part of the enemy is consumed and how much of a sample is consumed? Do a few stray hairs or skin cells left behind on bedsheets carry as much as fresh blood or brains? Could a Slaneeshi CSM swab the inside of another's cheek with his tongue while kissing them and get enough of a sample to learn something through his omophagia? What if he bit the lip?

4) Does this work on xenos (that have fleshy bodies,  NOT things like Necrons)?

5) Does this work on creatures with the daemonic type? What about possessed creatues?

6) Does the tissue have to be fresh, or could it be used on dead tissue (recently dead like a murder victim or even long dead like a fossil)?

7) Is it easy to ignore/suppress this implant's function, or do you get amazing insight into every meal you eat, no matter how mundane? I had imagined that the CSM has to specifically activate it, just as they aren't always drooling acid or oozing mucranoid secretions.

I know that this is NOT a hard science point of the game; I'm looking to see how far others are willing to let this implant go in their games.

 

 

There is some debate (IRL) that "memories" become part of a creature's genetic structure, though the general concensus is that these memories are neural (brain and nerve) in nature, instinctual, muscle "memory" (such as when something becomes a "natural" motion due to continuous repetition), and so on. Then you get into the realm of "Well, we know why we breathe, but how does the body "know" that?"

Omophagia To show it's proper spelling, is defined as the eating of raw food. (Gah! That copy/paste is huge!)
In relation to the Omophagea, the general concensus online (Warseer…for what they're worth, and Bolter & Chainsword) lean toward the ability of this implant as working when consuming brain matter or thick nerve bundles, and that the information "learned" is a collection of the instincts of the creature being consumed (such as "This planet is a scorching desert and this is what my bestial instinct says I do to stay hydrated and cool."), and/or the most recent and foremost memories (stuff on the mind at the moment of death…I'm assuming not "GAH! I'm dea…!", but more like "I was piloting this Devilfish…").

Heres some source material…

Phase 8:Omophagea http://wh40k.lexican...arine#Omophagea

Phase 8 (in a little more depth) http://warhammer40k..../wiki/Omophagea

Space Marine Implants (previously known as "Initiation Stages" http://images4.wikia...artesorgans.jpg

Then there is this bit of creepiness http://z6.invisionfr...es/ar/t1676.htm

This last one caused me to dig out DotDG and read up on the Slaugth ability to consume memories (DotDG, pg 80), and I think the description there is as good as any on which to base what the Omophagea actually does. Create a generalized Table for Difficulties and/or how much information is gained (DoS). It does, however, explicitly state the memories are a "jumbled morass" and that unless the information is put to continual use (you might think of it as piloting a Devilfish but not really knowing what you're doing; it just comes a"naturally") or the information is recorded the memories otherwise fade over time (within a few weeks…for Slaugth).

In the interest of being thorough, I dug out my (very old) copy of White Dwarf Presents: Warhammer 40,000 Compendium. Phase 8 is on pg 8 and reads as follows:

"This is a compicated implant. It really becomes part of the brain, but is actually situated within the spinal cord between the cervical and thoracic vertibrae. Four nerve sheaths, called neuroclea, are implanted between the spine and the preomnoral stomach wall. The omophagea is designed to absorb genetic material, generated in animal tissue as a function of memory, experience or innate ability. This endows the Marine with an unusual survival trait: he can actually learn by eating. If a Marine eats a part of a creature, he will absorb some of the memories of that creature. This can be useful in an alien environment. Incidentally, it is the presence of this organ which has created the various flesh (eating) and blood drinking rituals for which the Marines are famous, as well as giving the names to Chapters such as the Blood Drinkers or the Flesh Tearers, etc."

Originally printed in White Dwarf (circa 1987), article by Rick Priestly

Phase 8 is typically introduced into an "initiate" when he is between the ages of 14-16, and phases 7 and 9 (the Preomnor and the Multi-Lung, respectively) are often introduced simultaneously.

My take: the Marine learns the basics. Comsume the flesh of a creature that lives its life in a harsh environment and it might provide the Survival Skill or, if the PC arleady has that, a bonus to the Skill Test. Where to find water, food, shelter, a mate, etc. One could take it further but be situational: the Marine has just killed the pilot of the Orca drop ship, and if he doesn't land it rather than letting it crash his chances for survival are slim, so he consumes some cerebral matter, sifts through the recent memories (a Difficult Intelligence Test, maybe) and learned how to fly an Orca well enough to (crash) land instead of crash.

For what it's worth, I'd say consuming Daemonic (or possessed) flesh is paramount to eating the Warp, or in the case of possessed, reduced-calorie Warp. Might enlighten the PC in the ways of Corruption, but otherwise no useful info. I'd go with the flesh needing to be brain or similar, sentient creatures may retain info longer after death than bestial creatures, long dead/fossilized creatures/Xenos/people are a no-go.

 

 



#3 HappyDaze

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:53 PM

Is the need for the 'meal' to be brain matter ever spelled out in a canon source, or would consuming flesh and/or blood also be enough according to canon sources?

Would use of this implant be sufficient to allow rudimentary communication in the native language of your meal?


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#4 Alekzanter

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 12:24 PM

There are some canon references:

  • Sergeant Telion eats a Gretchin's brain to find out the location of an Ork lair (novella released alongside 40K 5th Edition).
  • Imperial Fist Scouts were going to eat the brains of Eldar Titan crew after dispatching them to find out more about them, but is admonished by their Sergeant about the "uncleanliness" of such an action (short story by Ian Watson, though he wrote very early 40K stories, mid-late 80s). Ian Watson must have been a big fan of the Imperial Fists, because he also wrote of an IF Marine by the name of Lexandro D'Arquebus (Inquisition War trilogy) who scrimshawed a relic bone that once belonged to another Astartes. Lex also considered eating the flesh of a Tyranid creature to possibly learn what planet he was on (having blindly travelled through the Webway) but gave the notion up as potentially too toxic even for his enhanced physiology to purge. 
  • The Soul Drinkers (author Ben Counter) omophagea is (was) hyper-active, and through ritualized consumption of enemy blood (via a chalice) they gained not only the memories of their enemies but also the emotions associated with those memories.

The medial temporal lobe (of the brain) is crucial to "saving" recent declarative memories. Declarative memory- the recollection of facts and events -though "taken up" and processed by the medial temporal lobe (or more precisely the hippocampus), are stored in the cerebral cortex (though scientists still don't know how memories are shunted from the MTL to the CC, only that the CC is a long-term memory storage facilitator). Most  scientific documentation alludes to memories being processed and briefly stored by the medial temporal lobe(s), and in the cerebral cortex for the long-term (both essentially being brain matter). Memories are also liable (fallible, meaning they are capable of "making" mistakes or being erroneous) due to the varying capabilities of sensory organs and individual perspective, and there is some suggestive scientific evidence that declarative memories are vulnerable to alteration/manipulation during their recovery. All of this could be used to strengthen the case that the Astartes Omophagea Implant is doubly (or more) fallible in retrieving memories, instincts, emotions, etc. The Space Marine would likely need to make a Test (Hard Perception, maybe) in order to gain anything at all, with higher DoS granting greater understanding of the information retrieved (representing the Marine sifting through the "jumbled morass" of another being's mind).

The scientific studies (summarized) that I read through told of a patient having significant portions of his medial temporal lobes removed as a last ditch effort to defeat severe (life-threatening) epilepsy. The brain surgery was successful in curing his epilepsy, but he could not remember anything that happened or anyone he met subsequent to his surgery. He was given simple drawing tests, and after three days showed improvement, but didn't remember his previous practice sessions. Evidently, remembering how is not the same as remembering what. Meaning the Marine might learn how to say the words, but not know what the meaning of the words he's saying is.

Instinctive memories (in my opinion) would be more easily retrieved (eat this, drink this, avoid this, shelter here, mate now). The more intelligent (or sentient) a creature is the more difficult it would be to retrieve memories and make use of them. However, the Core Rules simply state "The omphagea allows the Marine…"), so you'd probably need to make a simple guide:

  • Using the Omophagea Implant requires a Difficult Perception Test (scrutinizing the brain matter) if the creature has the Bestial Trait or is otherwise of animal Intelligence, and a Hard Perception Test if the creature is of complex Intelligence or sentient.
  • 1 DoS the Marine retrieves the previous PB Rounds (minutes if non-combat) memories.
  • 2 DoS the Marine retrieves the previous PB hours memories.
  • 3 DoS the Marine retrieves the previous PB days memories.
  • 4+ DoS the Marine retrieves the previous PB weeks memories.
  • Retrieved memories may still be confusing, fragmented, and "alien" to the Marine, described by the GM in unfamiliar sensory/emotional descriptors.
  • It could work in reverse; the GM asks the Player what the PC is attempting to learn from his use of the Omophagea, then the Player makes the Test (modified as above) and the GM gives the PC one "answer" for each DoS achieved. I would suggest at least 3 DoS to have a useable knowledge of a sentient creature's language.

EDIT: Incidentally, Tyranids utilize new biomass and experiences to evolve. Whichever edition it was that introduced Tyrant Guard made mention of that evolution being possible through the use of Astartes biomass. Infiltrator creatures of the Tyranids (like the Lictor) prey on the local populace and scout prior to invasion, are consumed in the digestion pools and the information they accumluated is used to coordinate the Tyranid assault. Seems a Tyranid version of the Omophagea. Could this be further evolved to the point where Tyranids could communicate (crudely) with their prey?






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