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Mechanicus and Psykers

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I have reached an interesting point in my campaign

 

The Tech-priest has taken it upon herself to convert the impressionable feral world psyker of the party to the Cult Mechanicus, the implication being for the psyker to become a tech-priest of some description

 

I am at a loss for how to do this rules-wise, if I allow it at all. I am mainly concerned about the balance, what skills and talents would be reasonable to take etc

 

Can anyone give advise on this matter?

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A feral-world Tech-Priest..?

 

Ouphh. Quite the weird combination there. If it were up to me, I suppose I would not have allowed it, as it represents a rather stark contrast in terms of education.

 

That being said, the Mechanicus does operate largely on predesigned, even ancient schematics, being more concerned about maintaining and servicing that which already exists rather than inventing something new, and I suppose this is where this character could be trained. Meaning, he doesn't need to understand why something works, just that a specific piece of equipment has to "look" a certain way in order to function, if you get my drift. It is my personal interpretation that the lower ranks of the Cult Mechanicus operate on this very same principle, anyways, and you only get to learn actual engineering once you progress into the higher ranks (which in this case would be hampered by the feral worlder's upbringing as well as their Inquisitorial duties). Like an induction into a secret society.

 

As far as Skills and Talents are concerned ... how about "mixing" engineering with the character's innate psychic abilities? Think about how someone with access to telekinetic and psychometry might apply these talents to working with technology. Perhaps they would be able to get a feeling about "what's wrong" with an item just by touching it? Like, taking a lasgun and fondling it for a minute or two whilst concentrating, the character seeing the inner workings of the device before their inner eye, noticing a broken connection - and thus being able to quickly ascertain what must be done to repair the weapon without even having opened it? This could drastically cut down on repair times. The character would still require schooling for almost every single piece of equipment they are supposed to analyse, though, except perhaps if they are very much related and they would be able to spot any flaws by comparing the currently inspected item to one they are already familiar with.

 

In other words: not much in terms of special Talents of Skills, but a conditional Tech-Use bonus for items the Tech-Priest has trained the Psyker with, and perhaps some of the Tech-Priest's "remote" abilities such as fixing or jamming someone's gun just by looking at it, except here it'd be a psychic power and as such subject to anything that could prevent or modify psychic powers, including the usual rolls for psychic phenomena.

 

If the characters have sufficient downtime to actually learn these things, that is.

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Thanks for the input.

 

My main concern with this possibility is balancing the result, and how far down the road of the tech-priest I should allow the psyker to go (i.e., implants etc). Sufficient down-time would be required, and most likely a large amount of XP, but other than that I'm unsure how to proceed

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It's going to be a very slow process. I'd say the tech-priest could train the psyker to be a passable lay-adept within certain limited areas without too much difficulty, other than finding the time. Of course, lay-adepts only have task-specific training. If it hasn't been covered or isn't extremely close to something they have been taught, they can't do it.

As far as how to represent the cyber-augmentation mechanically ... much of the AdMech-exclusive package has to be installed at once, and takes time to learn how to use various functions.

 

If the psyker wants to learn more rapidly/broadly than just a limited array of task-specific information, to become more than a lay-adept ... he's going to need to have a lot of knowledge directly fed into his brain, and that's going to take special equipment, time, and might give insanity points, especially if the process doesn't go perfectly. Unless he's a telepath or they know a telepath who can clone the information from the tech-priest's brain and forcibly install/reprogram parts of the psyker's brain to accept and hold onto it - which will definitely give more insanity points.

 

 

Possibly check out the Mechanicus Assimilation/associated talents/implants from Black Crusade.

 

Or, probably more appropriate, the Arch-Heretek (I think) Alt Rank from Rogue Trader ... Hostile Acquisitions, I think it is in. Would require refluffing some of it, and probably removal of some of the more techno-heretical stuff (luminen desecration), but actually probably is pretty close to what you're looking for. Once, of course, the psyker's gotten the broader education process completed - this is not for the lay-adept.

 

 

However - and this is important - by focusing on technology, the psyker is not focusing as much on his psyker abilities. Also the line into techno-sorcery and techno-heresy is likely to be a very short step away. Radicalism is basically guaranteed, even if they manage to avoid outright heresy.

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Ok i know the grey knights have psyker tech priests, but thats because they are psykers who get turned int SM and then sent to mars to learn the ways of the cult mechanicus.

 

But a feral world tech priest? Intresting tough, cuz it made me think:

Since the mechanicus worship the omnissiah, could it have formed in the warp? (assuming the omnissiah isn't the emperor)

i know thats not quiet how the warp works, the chaos gods comming from emotions, not belief. But then again, the orks believe their gods exist so they do.

So if the omnissiah exist somewhere in the warp (or something PRETENDING to be the omnissiah) then maybe it can impart knowledge of technolgy to a psyker, even a feral one.

 

So we'd have a character whos knowledge of technology would be almost instinctive and ork like.

 

I think i'd give him telekinesis, so he can lift engine blocks and stuff.

 

"Kronk think diz ere copper serpent thingy needs to wrap around this thingy, yes! kronk fix plazma'un! kronk happy!"

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I've been giving it some thought, and I've decided on a VERY rough plan of how it would work.

 

A psyker that worships the omnissiah, gets augments etc is pretty simple to do, since the machine cult already exists, as do cybernetics. However, if the idea is a fully ordained tech-priest psyker, then it gets very interesting, and more difficult.

The first, and most obvious, game-mechanics payment is this: A heap of experience, significant down-time, and insanity points as the psyker is indoctrinated and given the necessary augments and implants.

 

The second mechanics change would be limits on psychic powers. The Mechanicus would, in all likelyhood, only allow the psyker to persue Disciplines they deem 'useful' or 'worthwhile'. As such, this would eliminate Divination (I doubt the Mechanicus, a group focused on reason and probability, holds much stock in fortune-telling), Telepathy (the Mechanicus already have ways of extracting information), and Biomancy (why both improving weak flesh temporarily when you can permanently replace it with superior machine?). I would suspect they would also forbid Pyromancy (we have guns for a reason, silly psyker!), leaving only telekinesis, which would have benefit for the Mechanicus. Being able to move heavy items without the need for a servitor, 'feeling' around inside a machine and fixing a fault without needing to disassemble it first, all these would speed up tasks. Obviously, minor powers like Weapon Jinx and Haywire would be forbidden due to tech-heresy.

 

The third concession that would have to be made. The psyker would obviously be forbidden from pursuing certain alternate ranks (such as the Templar Calix) due to doubts over their allegiance, or simply due to certain elements of the Mechanicus not wanting anything to do with a tech-priest psyker (the Myrmidon cults come to mind). However, to other groups they would be highly useful. What Radical doesn't want an ally with such a grasp of the Warp AND the machine?

 

Which brings me to a roleplaying point. The individual would be constantly toeing the line between techno-sorcery and techno-heresy, and would be under near-constant surveillance by the Mechanicus. Furthermore, the character would find it much harder to progress through the Mechanicus hierarchy due to the suspicion surrounding them.

 

In terms of skills, talents etc, my personal feeling is that they should only be allowed to take ones that correlate either directly to the repair, maintenance and crafting side of the Mechanicus, or to bolstering their psychic abilities, as well as any weapon training talents. And for characteristic advances, I'd likely go for the Tech-priest table, as the Psyker and tech-priest tables are fairly similar already.

 

All in all, having given it some thought I think it is doable. It would be a very interesting and challenging roleplay experience for the players involved, however a lot more thought will need to go into it to balance it.

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The Mechanicus might approve of certain forms of Pyromancy. After all, it could be utilized for specific purposes, mainly in the creation/manipulation of metals/alloys (possibly in conjunction with telekinesis for a more precise/exacting manipulation) and cutting through or welding things (perhaps in lieu of a plasma torch or laser cutter). Or, some of them could be useful when examining the interiors of things like active forges/furnaces/reactors.

 

Biomancy sounds like it might be of interest to the Biologis Magi.

 

Divination isn't just 'fortune-telling' - it covers the perceptive powers, reading the history of objects, or clairvoyance/clairsentience - seeing other places in the now, rather than the future. Also ... the AdMech does do some predictive stuff, although it's more in the nature of probability projections. The Lathes Worlds supplement even has a techno-divination skill. But those are based on science/calculations based on known data, rather than seeing what might be through the Warp, which is definitely out of bounds. None of this 'aura-reading' stuff.

 

 

I'd strictly limit the power lists from the disciplines, rather than outright eliminate most disciplines. After all, if they only can have Telekinesis, they only have to worry about advancing the one discipline, instead of improving their versatility. They'll pretty much automatically get discipline mastery/focus in short order.

 

 

Definitely a major challenge to roleplay, and there will probably be some in the AdMech looking for an excuse to purge them both.

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Actually yea, that makes a lot of sense. A wider knowledge base rather than a specific, but deeper one. My main reason for limiting Biomancy was my fears over balance concerning regeneration when coupled with the rest of what Tech-priests can get

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Regular Tech-priests can already get regeneration via a good (I think) quality hermetic infusion (forge world section of Inquisitor's Handbook), which gives some other benefits. Pricey, and potentially risky, but probably totally worth getting.

Also, I believe the Rite of Setesh? from the same gives regen, but with some really bad tradeoffs, and that's something that anyone can technically get with the right connections and enough money, though I don't think many would really want to.

 

Besides, the Regeneration power, while nice, won't regrow destroyed cybernetic implants/upgrades, unless they've taken a few steps into forbidden warp-tech, and/or maybe if they've acquired and installed a warp coil for their potentia coil. It may or may not restore bio-grafts as well, but those are much less common.

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Background-wise, it would be interesting to know how deeply the new convert is supposed to be integrated into the Cult Mechanicus. A fervent supporter or mundane cult member, such as the ones recruited from the labor forces of the forge worlds, is certainly different from a full-fledged Priest or Adeptus Mechanicus. The canonical novels support this diversity by introducing characters that work for or are associated with the Mechanicum, but are not (and probably never will be) esteemed members in their own right.

Rules-wise, the core rules offer several skills that support distinguishing a layman from a real tech-priest. Common Lore (Tech) vs. Tech-Use comes to mind, as does Common Lore (Cult Mechanicus) vs. Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus). If such advances are taken as elite advances with the typical 200+ XP cost they turn out to be slightly more expensive than what the ordinary Tech-Priest pays for them. An important point might be to become clear about the actual career path of the character. If I recall correctly, the basic careers described in the core rulebook cannot be combined arbitrarily.

I would argue that cybernetics in general do not pose a serious problem for a psyker, but fundamental implants, such as a potentia coil or cyber mantle, might. A patient probably cannot undergo such a profund surgery and stay the same in body, mind and soul, much as a space marine will not be the same after the installation of his gene seed.

I see the greatest and most fundamental problem pertaining to the mind sets of psykers vs. tech-priests. Although both certainly pursue a rigid way of thinking, psykers serve the Emporer, while tech-priests regard the latter through the lens of logic and call him Omnissiah. Both entities are worshipped as gods who may or may not turn out to be the same thing in the end, but as soon as the psyker starts reciting the 16 commandments of the Omnissiah with cold logic, he might be removed farther from the former incarnation of the Emporer, who, in turn, is adored by his followers by the means of passion, love and strong emotion — effectively anathema to the mind set of a tech-priest. He might even cease counting as a Sanctioned psyker in the process, and become a regular psyker, which of course is not what the Inquisition would approve of.
 

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Before I go any further, I should clarify that the PCs involved are interested in turning the psyker into a full-fledged tech-priest.

 

My current thoughts on the matter are that I will permit it to happen, purely because it is a very interesting roleplaying opportunity for the characters, and an interesting challenge for me as a GM, plus it opens up a lot of interesting campaign options (the Logicians or Phaenonites would likely take a keen interest in a Tech-priest psyker).

 

In terms of how I would do it, I'm torn between ramping up the cost of various tech-priest talents and skills (Elite advances), or creating a set of alternate ranks, with a hefty experience, and perhaps monetary, cost. Either way, there will be plenty of insanity points to be had by the psyker.

 

In terms of cybernetics, most augments etc will not adversely effect the psyker's abilities, however a certain selection will. Most augments that directly effect the brain will have a toll (such as Rite of Pure Thought, a few augments out of the fan-made Macharian hand-book, which I strongly recommend, it's a massive boon to my campaign), either in terms of limiting the number of powers that can be learnt, forgetting how to manifest certain powers, or lowering the Willpower bonus they can use/amount of power dice they can use.

 

The choice between simply doing Elite advances or creating alternate ranks to me is fairly simple. I pride myself on putting a lot of effort into my campaigns to make sure that 1) the players are enthralled by the setting, 2) no matter what the players do, I can readily adapt to their actions (You easily thwarted the big bad? Good on you. Unfortunately, all these other groups which have been written up and planned are rushing in to fill the power vacuum) and 3) Re-usability (i.e., multiple campaigns on the same planet/in the same star system). However, the choice may vary for other GMs.

 

I will be working on a set of alternate careers, including XP cost to access (and monetary cost if applicable), as well as other conditions, and what affects certain talents, traits and augments/implants will have on psyker abilities (if any).

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It's going to take a long time before the psyker can even come close to be considered for being raised from the laity to full tech-priest-dom. And that's after becoming a lay member in good standing. Likely an apprenticeship will be involved.

 

As far as the elite advance versus alt rank issue goes ... possibly a combination.

Also, I'd say look at converting/modifying the Arch-Heretek rank from Rogue Trader Hostile Acquisitions (which is pretty much exactly what they're going for after some refluffing and prereq adjustments), and before the advance that's equivalent to Mechanicus Implants can be taken, perhaps require the character to be cybernetically rebuilt (elite advance from Inquisitor's Handbook). And absolutely require Peer(Admech) before advancing from the laity to apprentice priesthood, which is almost certainly going to need to be taken as an elite advance.

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