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NotAlwaysTheHero

Confused Tech-Priest Player

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I have a player who keeps on asking me how he's supposed to play his Tech-Priest, and I don't have an easy answer for that that seems to satisfy him. He's requested a one-off session where I would help him figure out what makes a Tech-Priest different from the other classes but I've no ideas so far as that's concerned.

His basic concern is that if everyone else can have Tech-Use then what makes him different? I think a big portion of this is that he's barely taken any Tech-Priest specific talents. He's got a medical mechadendrite but that's about it.

tl;dr: Tech-Priest player who hasn't taken Tech-Priest abilities wants to know what makes him different, preferably in an rp session.

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Well if he hasn't taken the talents that differentiate a tech priest from other classes then you really only get to play off of the fluff differences. The fact that a tech priest gets better tech use, the way they're different from normal imperial citizens, but not hated like psykers. You could have him facing a heretek that is build for showing off the tech priest class. Show the different ideologies involved in the concepts that tech priests hold dear, and why observing the religious rites involved in tech use isn't the same thing as simply being able to jury rig something or make a lasgun fire.

That is a small failing on the design side of the rpg, tech priests, at least for me, are supposed to really be the only ones besides high level inquisitors or space marines that should be able to perform tech use. That's just me, it's a pretty lax point for other's interpretations of the source material.

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Have him read this.

 

http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Adeptus_Mechanicus

 

The bottom section explains how technology works for the imperium. I found it as a new player very enlightening.

 

But for the most part there are 2 common ways. The first is a cultist of the omnissiah. Basicly he believes in the tenents of the machanicus blindly. See above site, the second is a heretek; basicly he thinks for himself. The heretek is far more open.

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The class name alone pretty much covers the basics of what makes the player's character different from the others. Technology and Priesthood. Yes, the other characters may know how to operate basic machinery, just like most Imperial citizens are aware of the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy. Yet just like the Ecclesiarchy has the monopoly on spiritual guidance for said citizens, the Cult Mechanicus has the monopoly on spiritual guidance for operation of said machinery.

 

In terms of roleplaying, this means the player has the ability to skirt the borders between being an annoying smartass (even more fun when the players clearly realise that the Mechanicus' teachings are a sham, yet none of the characters know better!) and a potentially dangerous double-agent (for the Tech-Priest will still retain at least some degree of loyalty towards the Adeptus Mechanicus, and likely be very curious about a lot of stuff the group stumbles across). He'll also be the expert when it comes to investigating xenotech or purifying (possibly destroying) captured artefacts - provided he manages to win or avoid an internal power struggle within the group, should it also contain agents of the Ecclesiarchy or work for a Radical Inquisitor.

 

If the class description in the core rulebook was not enough, perhaps get a hold of the current edition's tabletop rulebook and give him the AdMech section to read. That might help with the portrayal.

 

In terms of mechanics, though ... yeah, if the player voluntarily avoids any of the AdMech Skills and Talents, that's kind of his own fault.  :huh: Although you would still be able to have him provide special class-based advantages whenever your group is dealing with other agents of the Mechanicus, or exploit his proverbial AdMech membership card to gain access to otherwise prohibited areas during an undercover investigation ("You do not understand, I need to get in there to ensure the wellbeing of the machine spirit! According to my records, it has last received proper blessings four centuries ago. Do you want to be responsible for the power plant causing a catastrophic explosion?").

 

 

That is a small failing on the design side of the rpg, tech priests, at least for me, are supposed to really be the only ones besides high level inquisitors or space marines that should be able to perform tech use. That's just me, it's a pretty lax point for other's interpretations of the source material.

 

Heh, I remember Tech Priests in GW's Inquisitor game not having any fancy magical powers like they do in DH - but they were the only characters who got a bonus on Tech-Use! ;)

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RP-wise, there are two major conflicting drives that motivate every tech-priest: traditionalism and curiosity. The most ancient Magos and the most radical hereteks have fallen completely to one side of this scale or another, but most tech-priests will be motivated to varying degrees by these two drives.

The Mechanicus is an ancient organization that carefully adheres to their traditions and rituals. New tech-priests are taught to abhor the sin of Progress and to never defile the sacred designs of the Standard Template Construct (STC for short; these blueprints are the basis for all Imperial technology and are revered by the Mechanicus. Look it up online for more info if you are curious, there is a LOT written about it). Many of the more advanced Imperial technologies (plasma guns, force fields, etc.) aren't understood by even the tech-priests who maintain them, and they must rely on the "rites of activation" passed down over milennia to even start the darned things. The more inquisitive members of the priesthood are kept in line with horror stories about the Men of Iron and the dangers of true, soulless artificial intelligence, and those who break the rules of the Mechanicus are "repurposed" into servitors. Technology is seen as a religion rather than a science in the 41st milennium, and the tech-priests literally pray for their technology to work while following teachings just as strict as the Imperial Creed.

On the other hand, tech-priests are driven to rebel against these strict rules by their natural, all-too-human curiosity. I like to believe that even the most robotic Magos still feels the desire to innovate and restore humankind to its former glory. If you've ever spoken to an engineer or scientist and seen their eyes light up as they excitedly explain their work, you know the feeling I'm talking about. Tech-priests WANT to innovate. They WANT to understand the technology under their care. But they can't, because such understanding has been lost and Mechanicus dogma prohibits rediscovering it.

This conflict parallels the struggles with faith and human desire faced by most Imperial citizens. The Imperial Creed as taught to common citizens is all about repressing your emotions and replacing them with blind faith in the Emperor, just like how the Mechanicus stamp out their curiosity with milennia of traditions and taboos. Both emotions and innovation can bring doom to humanity when left unchecked, and the Imperial Creed and the Credo Omnissiah both exist to provide those checks.

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Tech-Priests are, along the way, trying to replace their muscle and blood by machine and oil; similar like Shadowrun, the less meat he's got the less human he would feel, and closer to the Omnissiah.

 

Emotions and guts feeling are replaced with facts and cold logic.

Laughter and sadness appears to be a biological flaw.

Seduction means nothing to them.

Of course they still some humanity left, so being scared shitless by a daemon or some gruesome scene might bring forth a human reaction...might.

 

So sorta like Spock, for lack of a better example, just instead of meditating to repress their emotions, they simply replace their limbs and part of their brain governing their emotional state of mind.

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Not all tech priests are emotionless. They care deeply about one particular thing, and they sacrafice to make themselves closer to it.

 

If you've ever read Eisenhorn that has a really good depiction of a tech priest as well.

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Not all tech priests are emotionless. They care deeply about one particular thing, and they sacrafice to make themselves closer to it.

 

If you've ever read Eisenhorn that has a really good depiction of a tech priest as well.

 

They care, yes, but not like you or I care; this caring is much more a way to reach a better connection to the Omnissiah rather than "I like electro-magnetic fields" being similar to "I like my dog Pongo."

 

Going deeper in their field is their way, their religious way, to better themselves in front of their God and his Master Plan rather than getting some feeling of enjoyment out of it.

Edited by Braddoc

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If your player's feeling a bit heretical, they could set themselves up to play the role of Surtr of Norse mythology, seen through the lens of The Divine Light of Sollex.

 

The Tech-Priest's Quest for Knowledge could convince them the Emperor isn't the Divine Ideal of Humanity, but instead a rotting corpse that when he was alive cast a glamour over the AdMec of Mars, putting an end to their Holy Quest to restore humanity to The Golden Age of Technology.

 

A rebel Tech-Priest with a cause to bring about the end of the Imperium of Man using the Holy Fires of Archeotech, to burn away what is and carve a path of laser death to a rebirth for mankind, under the guidance of the AdMec... Or more likely, of a heretek fringe of The Divine Light of Sollex.

 

...

 

Generally speaking, if your player doesn't know where to start with the RP, toss them a link to one of the heroes or villains of real world mythology, and ask them to try to work the personality or end goals into the fiction. It becomes a lot easier for them once they have some kind of starting point, because then it becomes less "what the hell is this" and more "how do I use this?"

Edited by Simsum

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Have him read this.

 

http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Adeptus_Mechanicus

 

The bottom section explains how technology works for the imperium. I found it as a new player very enlightening.

 

But for the most part there are 2 common ways. The first is a cultist of the omnissiah. Basicly he believes in the tenents of the machanicus blindly. See above site, the second is a heretek; basicly he thinks for himself. The heretek is far more open.

 

 

I've never seen technology in WH40K explained this way before.  I think it is a original take on things.

 

Incidentally I think Tech Priests are the hardest characters for PCs who don't really know much about the Wh40K Universe to play.

 

They are scientist mechanics but not exactly

They are Priests but not exactly

They are part of the Imperium but not exactly

They are allies of the Inquisition but not exactly.

Edited by Visitor Q

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don't know if still an issue, but if your player is into books I'd recommend Dan Abnett's Titanicus. Apart from being an excellent book, it has some quite interesting Mechanicus characters - though I do not know how exactly canon the whole thing is.

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though I do not know how exactly canon the whole thing is.

 

As much or as little as you want it to be - that's how the IP works.

 

I've heard some "odd" things about Mr. Abnett's books - stuff like 9 meter Space Marines or emotional Servitors - but on the other hand his books are fairly popular and iirc he wrote some of the background for Dark Heresy's Calixis Sector. You could also simply cherrypick the bits you like and discard the rest ... as long as everyone in the group is on the same page, of course.

 

Either way, it is a possible inspiration and should at least be good for "getting into the mood". With any luck, it's also a decent story. ;)

 

I don't know any AdMech stories myself, though there is a Tech-Priest as one of the protagonists in the Red & Black audiobook (which actually offers a cool idea on how they'd sound like when talking).

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Lynata I highly suggest reading Eisenhorn and Ravenor. Their some of Abnett's finest work, and frankly the best take on inquisitorial investigation.

Eisenhorn like I've said also has a really enjoyable take of a tech priest.

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Either way, it is a possible inspiration and should at least be good for "getting into the mood". With any luck, it's also a decent story. ;)

 

Most definitely a good story, and a very interesting take on the Mechanicus and its relationship to the rest of the Imperium. Dan Abnett is imho one of the finest writers out there (apart from his sloppy endings, grrrr!), and as has been stated before, his Inquisition trilogy is one hell of an inspiration for DH. They've also been the last books in quite a while to keep me up at night, since different from most popular Space Marine novels, these really get down to the character, their thoughts, struggles, hopes and doubts. And often, their failures ~sniff~

 

And, as I don't get tired to point out, Abnett does NOT depict 40K as a uniformely dark and depressing setting. There's friendship, faith, honesty and even love in his books, contrasted to the grim dark reality, and that is why they are so emotionally intense.

 

Though I'm getting a bit off topic here, so uhm, yeah, have your player read Titanicus or, if he has a lot of time on his hands, the Inquisition books by Dan Abnett. They will most probably get him into the mood and answer some questions of what makes him unique. Alternatively, you could read them yourself and nick some parts to forge a scene for the two of you to play.

Edited by Lone Pilgrim

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Lynata I highly suggest reading Eisenhorn and Ravenor. Their some of Abnett's finest work, and frankly the best take on inquisitorial investigation.

Knowing that I'm seeting myself up for a lynching here, but I must admit I'm less than impressed with mr. Abnett.

I found Eisenhorn boring and un-engaging, and must admit I never got very far in the Ravenor series, because I tended to get distracted by more interesting things, like watching paint dry.

 

But that's just one person's opinion.

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That's fine, we don't all have to like the same thing. I could see where you might find Eisenhorn boring. Ravenor isn't from a first person perspective, so that may help things. I generally find most 40k material a chore to work through, Abnett's Ghost series (while I am still reading) bores me to tears because I generally don't care about army stories.

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Either way, it is a possible inspiration and should at least be good for "getting into the mood". With any luck, it's also a decent story. ;)

 

Most definitely a good story, and a very interesting take on the Mechanicus and its relationship to the rest of the Imperium. Dan Abnett is imho one of the finest writers out there (apart from his sloppy endings, grrrr!), and as has been stated before, his Inquisition trilogy is one hell of an inspiration for DH. They've also been the last books in quite a while to keep me up at night, since different from most popular Space Marine novels, these really get down to the character, their thoughts, struggles, hopes and doubts. And often, their failures ~sniff~

 

And, as I don't get tired to point out, Abnett does NOT depict 40K as a uniformely dark and depressing setting. There's friendship, faith, honesty and even love in his books, contrasted to the grim dark reality, and that is why they are so emotionally intense.

 

Though I'm getting a bit off topic here, so uhm, yeah, have your player read Titanicus or, if he has a lot of time on his hands, the Inquisition books by Dan Abnett. They will most probably get him into the mood and answer some questions of what makes him unique. Alternatively, you could read them yourself and nick some parts to forge a scene for the two of you to play.

 

This sums up my thoughs as well, pretty much. Abnett's books actually make the 40K universe feel like a place where someone could actually live.  Sure he takes liberties with canon, yes he definitely overuses Deux ex Machina - name a 40K writer who doesn't - but he writes interesting, nuanced, relatable characters that I actually care about.  Even his space marines occasionally show a glimmer of a sense of humor.

I've read almost everything he's written for BL, compared to the average genre-mill crap that's churned out by the other authors, Sandy Mitchell notwithstanding, he might as well be Hemingway. 

Your mileage may vary, of course. I'm not here to start a fight. In my experience Abnett serves as a good way to humanize the setting and make it relatable to players who are new to 40K.

Edit: Some of Graham McNeill's stuff is okay too, I really enjoyed Mechanicum. 

Edited by khimaera

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though I do not know how exactly canon the whole thing is.

 

As much or as little as you want it to be - that's how the IP works.

 

I've heard some "odd" things about Mr. Abnett's books - stuff like 9 meter Space Marines or emotional Servitors - but on the other hand his books are fairly popular and iirc he wrote some of the background for Dark Heresy's Calixis Sector. You could also simply cherrypick the bits you like and discard the rest ... as long as everyone in the group is on the same page, of course.

If I remember correctly, the primarchs were described as 4+ meters tall in the early Horus Heresy books. I haven't really read anything past Prospero Burns.  I don't remember any emotional servitors, though there was a really chatty servitor who drove a submersible in one of the Ravenor books. I thought it was a little odd at the time, I wouldn't consider it canon-shattering though.

 

Edit: Of greater concern to canon - speeder bike chases, Eisenhorn wields a force sword that's basically described as a lightsaber (at least in the first book) and the ending to Pariah which I won't spoil here. 

Edited by khimaera

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If I remember correctly, the primarchs were described as 4+ meters tall in the early Horus Heresy books.

 

Makes you wonder how they could possibly travel in a vehicle or pass through a door.  :lol:

(inb4 Clowncar-Rhinos)

 

Also, those 9 meters earlier should read 9 feet (or rather 10 feet, now that I've looked up where I read it)... Sorry, conversion mess-up.  :mellow:

 

 

Maybe I'll take a look at Ravenor some time. Eisenhorn would be right out, as I rarely enjoy first person books (from personal experience, they tend to feel like too much author self-inserts).

I've been quite sceptical of the "Abnettverse" so far due to my longing for a more consistent setting, but then again, every Black Library author seems to take some liberties with the background, including the ones I enjoyed reading ... so why the hell not.  :)

Edited by Lynata

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If I remember correctly, the primarchs were described as 4+ meters tall in the early Horus Heresy books.

 

Makes you wonder how they could possibly travel in a vehicle or pass through a door.  :lol:

(inb4 Clowncar-Rhinos)

 

Also, those 9 meters earlier should read 9 feet (or rather 10 feet, now that I've looked up where I read it)... Sorry, conversion mess-up.  :mellow:

 

 

Maybe I'll take a look at Ravenor some time. Eisenhorn would be right out, as I rarely enjoy first person books (from personal experience, they tend to feel like too much author self-inserts).

I've been quite sceptical of the "Abnettverse" so far due to my longing for a more consistent setting, but then again, every Black Library author seems to take some liberties with the background, including the ones I enjoyed reading ... so why the hell not.  :)

 

I figured that's what you meant.  As far as the stature of the primarchs, the Horus Heresy books really make it sound like everything was bigger back then - I never found it odd that these giant dudes were kicking around with tiny little remembrancers. Edit: I'm joking here, I don't actually think everything was actually bigger back then.

You may be right about him implying that the Astartes were 9 ft tall at one point but later books seem to subtly dial that back.

As far as Eisenhorn goes, if it helps you to suspend disbelief those events took place 5-7 hundred years before the 13th Black Crusade in a Sector in Segmentum Obscurus.  It's entirely possible that archeotech devices like personal speeder bikes, force sword light sabers and null-field limiters were discovered by the Ad-Mech and promptly lost in the intervening centuries. The Scarus sector is not a stable place. 

 

Edit: Also, Eisenhorn killed a chaos Space Marine once.  That's gotta earn some points with you, eh Lynata?

Edited by khimaera

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I would probably play up the gradual distancing of the tech-priests from humanity and their limited biological concerns for the wonder of the machine. Most will still be fairly human and will most likely also, in my version of it, maintain some basic human traits but overall grow more and more machine-ish and contemptful for the flesh. 

 

As for an one-off session let the Adeptus Mechanicus contact him away from his cell because they've got a task they think he's pretty suited for. Most importantly let him rp with some proper tech-priest NPCs to let him get a feel for various types of tech-priests and what their thing is.

 

So focus on rpg with tech-priests, reclaimtors, hereteks and stuff and get him to get some feeling for the Cult of the Machine.

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Tech-priests aren't completely emotionless. They can be, if they want - there's a surgical procedure called "rite of pure thought" which is essentially cauterizing the fear centre - but most don't.

 

The whole "machine spirit" thing - it's not necessarily that they believe little machine ghost gremlins "make it work" - tech priests - especially senior ones - do understand basic scientific principles in a way normal imperial citizens don't - but they believe in a level of animism for machines.

 

A classic example: Not carrying out a maintenance ritual is likely to result in you being struck down by malfunctions. Yes, there's science behind why, but also some machines appear more willful than others and likely to throw a strop. Bear in mind that people today assign personalities to theoretically standard-off-production line cars or computers - now imagine one ten times as complex and sophisticated...

 

The rituals are part religion, part science. Ignoring them is dangerous and blasphemous because they were designed by people who knew this technology better than you. If you are confident that you understand it better, or in emergency, then you might step outside them (the stories include plenty of Magos who do) but only if you accept the consequences.

 

Ultimately, it's a sort of technological feng shui; there is a Right Way to do things, and everything will be more harmonious if you do it that way.

 

In terms of "everyone can have tech-use" - that depends on what "tech-use" is being used to do.

 

 

Dialing a vox into the local PDF vox-net is a tech-use test, but it's just using "user-friendly controls". Using a working piece of technology in the intended purpose (more-or-less) is something a suitably educated citizen can manage (hence things like hive worlders having tech-use as a basic skill).

 

Opening the front of that panel up and rewiring it is a tech-use test - but is also likely to want common lore (tech) to know what you're doing in the first place, or a trade (technomat) for things like soldering, and those skills are a lot harder for a non tech-priest to come by.

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