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Grogmonster

Modifying Weapons

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So a discussion came up in my group last session and one of us started talking about how we could modify a weapon beyond just simply using the weapon modifications in the armoury. Like could I get two bolters put them together with tech use or trade (Armourer) and make a storm bolter out of them or get a Plasma pistol and turn it into a Plasma gun. I've looked through the Crafting rules in the rulebook and the rules don't say anything on using similar items for the materials or part of the materials so in the case of making a Plasma gun trying to craft it you would have to make a requisition test for a rare item. (one level higher because the materials to make the item are one level higher) If I didn't mind pulling apart a Plasma pistol for some of the materials how would the effect the test. Also another thing that came up would we need the designs for a weapon if we had a similar one and pulled it apart.

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Sounds like the vilest tech heresy to me.

 

Designs are from Mechanicus or stcs neither of which are easy to deal with.

 

I think the pistol to gun thing is a bit of a leap, while they work off the same fundamental principle making a pistol into a shotgun is just really not that feasible.

 

Not sure how I'd deal with Storm, there's another thread running in the form that's tackling that.

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The thing about Imperium and it's technology that most people have a hard time grasping (at least in my experience) is that the vast majority of the people in the Imperium do believe in the AdMech dogma, and treat the machines accordingly. From an Astartes artisan to lowly Hive-World gangbanger, people do venerate their equipment and observe the proper rites to the best of their ability, because it's the only way of making tech work they know.

 

Thus, it's not like AdMech is this horrible tech-Inquisition that holds people back from making scientific and technological breakthroughs - they are actually leading the charge when it comes to technological advancements, as much as their religion allows them, and your average Joe Imperial will not even think of doing things differently. 

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Thus, it's not like AdMech is this horrible tech-Inquisition that holds people back from making scientific and technological breakthroughs - they are actually leading the charge when it comes to technological advancements, as much as their religion allows them, and your average Joe Imperial will not even think of doing things differently. 

 

That's not how I view the AdMech at all. That isn't to say that you're interpretation isn't fine. To me after the Dark Ages the Admech had a full lockdown on technological information. Everyone is taught only what they need to know and no more, knowledge is dangerous.

 

Knowledge leads to curiosity, curiosity to innovation, innovation to the damnation and corruption of the holy stc the one true design for the holy omnissiah's way of life.

 

The admech actively hunts down people who go messing with tech and weapons willy nilly. Asking them to make a plasma gun from a plasma pistol will not only get you silence as they have no idea, they know how to make the device function not how the device works on a fundamental level, but likely you turned into servitor fodder for making them consider something that is generally defined as a gateway to heresy.

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It's hard to come up with an analogue, because tech is so tied up in philosophy and religious outlook in the setting, but the kind of person who would try turning a plasma pistol reactor into a plasma gun is the kind of person in modern day who would try creating an entirely new system of numbers and mathematics to represent day to day life. Basically, a crazy person. Now, whether you want that craziness to be true or not is up to you. You can basically interpret the setting as all machines REALLY DO have spirits inside them that need to be coaxed and the tech orthodoxy is correct to do so. Or you can interpret it as that being a bunch of ritualistic nonsense either meant to hold things back or done out of ignorance. Same goes for orks, actually. Either they make their weapons work through latent psychic ability/belief, OR they understand technology on a higher level than we do.

Basically, when looking at modifying technology, keep in mind that it's viewed like any kind of ultra-radical political philosophy would be today. Sure, it may work, but how many people is it gonna kill on the way to finding out?

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Thus, it's not like AdMech is this horrible tech-Inquisition that holds people back from making scientific and technological breakthroughs - they are actually leading the charge when it comes to technological advancements, as much as their religion allows them, and your average Joe Imperial will not even think of doing things differently. 

 

That's not how I view the AdMech at all. That isn't to say that you're interpretation isn't fine. To me after the Dark Ages the Admech had a full lockdown on technological information. Everyone is taught only what they need to know and no more, knowledge is dangerous.

 

Knowledge leads to curiosity, curiosity to innovation, innovation to the damnation and corruption of the holy stc the one true design for the holy omnissiah's way of life.

 

The admech actively hunts down people who go messing with tech and weapons willy nilly. Asking them to make a plasma gun from a plasma pistol will not only get you silence as they have no idea, they know how to make the device function not how the device works on a fundamental level, but likely you turned into servitor fodder for making them consider something that is generally defined as a gateway to heresy.

 

I'm not disagreeing. What I'm getting at is, AdMech has all the knowledge on technology mankind currently holds, and they truly believe that's how things work - and by extension, everyone else thinks that's how it works.

 

Yeah, they do keep the distribution of knowledge in check, but if AdMech disappeared overnight, people wouldn't suddenly start kitbashing their weapons in new and innovative ways, because that's outside the mindset of your average Imperial citizen. The fact that AdMech does persecute tech-heretics is a logical extension of that mindset, and those exceedingly rare people who do try to innovate are likely to get in trouble with everyone, even before they catch Mechanicus' attention.

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STC designs are a big deal and not something a Tech-Priest "just" gains access to by visiting a library or universitat. Building a new design or even heavily modifying an existing design is considered illegal according to listed weapons' fluff. Custom weapon designs are important to me as well, so I explored ways I could have create weapons without provoking the Tech-Priests. The compromise I reached was thus:

  1. Use one or more of the following Skills to analyze a weapon:
    • Relevant Common, Forbidden, or Scholastic Lores (such as [Adeptus Mechanicus] or [Tech])
    • Logic
    • Tech-Use
    • Trade (Armourer)
  2. Beaming the results to a dataslate or similar medium, tinker with the design in virtual space.
  3. Do not actually build the resulting weapon.
  4. Send the design to a Tech-Priest in power where he may publish the design as his own but possibly give you credit.

For a new Acolyte, this system is fairly reasonable. Going straight to production without political backing is going to have some heavy reprecussions. Surrendering original tech and documentation immediately upon questioning is another option. That way, a Tech-Priest can have his creations until someone calls him out on it, hopefully without accusing him of tech-heresy. At higher Influence, individuals may be able call their designs their own without inviting retaliation.

 

-Myself on the Crafting designs thread

 

This is what I posted a month ago, and I still stand by it. I find the "Crafting Rules" to be more like "Jury-RIgging Rules". Players that want legal/sanctioned custom equipment (past some cosmetic/name changes) are going to have to work for it.

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That political backing may take years however, tech priests take a long time to comb over designs and have theological discussions about the implications of the modification.

 

I'd only allow a tech priest to attempt the modifications to the STC as well. But decent rules nonetheless.

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Yeah, as previously mentioned, it's a matter of interpretation. I don't really see the AdMech closing down Necromunda gunshops just because they kitbash their own bolters (that would be about as successful as the Prohibition in the US), and even Dark Heresy material has in the past featured "custom" jobs like that semi-auto shotgun that allows ordinary people to shoot Astartes ammo.

 

Personally, I don't consider civilised Imperial citizens - that is, anyone not living on a Feral or Feudal World - to be quite as technologically superstitious as the Mechanicus folks, simply because they are not subject to Mechanicus indoctrination (with exception to the few non-lobotomised labourers on AdMech Forge Worlds ofc). This is an opinion borne solely out of my perception of various short stories in GW rulebooks, codices and WD issues that featured interaction between characters in the setting and the tech they use, though.

 

As always, it depends on what you want to make of it. :)

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Right, I totally forgot Dark Heresy had a special class for that. Well in that case I suppose it makes sense to be represented, at least in campaigns that take the setting as it is presented in FFG's books! (which most likely applies to most groups)

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There's colossal room for nuance when it comes to the Adeptus Mechanicus and their monopoly on technological knowledge. Fundamentally, it's difficult to say anything meaningful about the Adeptus Mechanicus that isn't riddled with exceptions and sub-clauses, due primarily to the fact that it is as much a collection of feudal/technocratic fiefdoms built around a Mystery Cult (that is, in the Greco-Roman tradition, a religion where only initiates are permitted to engage in rites and rituals) as it is anything else.

As enshrined in the acts of the Emperor Himself during the earliest days of the Imperium (it's arguable that the Imperium did not exist until the alliance between Terra and Mars was established), the Priesthood of Mars are the guardians of technological knowledge. It is law, it is scripture, it is a fundamental and unshakeable part of the way the Imperium has operated for more than a hundred centuries.

An aside here - this is often a difficult thing to grasp with 40k. Ten millennia is a colossal length of time. It's a length of time that eclipses recorded human history, and stretches back to eras only theorised about by anthropologists. The founding of the Imperium is as far away from the people of the late 41st Millennium as the discovery of agriculture is from us. More than that, the people of the Imperium - are further away from us chronologically than we are from the first human civilisations. The human frame of reference in the 41st Millennium is the Imperium, and it has been the Imperium for so many generations that the very notion of a time before the Imperium is so ephemeral as to be entirely irrelevant - eras before the coming of the Emperor are myths, eras of darkness and despair to be banished by the Master of Mankind.

Back to the topic at hand. Technology is a nebulous term at best, and one that incorporates basically everything from stone knives, the 'domestication' of fire, and the invention of clothing. The Mechanicus cannot possibly have an absolute monopoly on all technology - it is utterly impossible. What they can have is a culture of intellectual isolationism.

 

As mentioned before, the Adeptus Mechanicus is built around a Mystery Cult - the only members of the religion are initiates. Knowledge is heavily restricted within the Cult Mechanicus, with every rank of power coming with a commensurate level of knowledge and understanding. Knowledge is power in the Cult Mechanicus, literally - those who are knowledgeable gain in power, and thus in knowledge. This priesthood is the ruling body on all Forge Worlds, and the hierarchy of the Cult Mechanicus also becomes the government of the domains of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Each Forge World is ruled by a single Archmagos, a ruling priest who commands subordinate Magi and other members of the ruling priesthood (Magi, Genetors, Artisans, and Logi), who each in turn command subordinate members of the ordinary priesthood (Electro-priests, Enginseers, Transmechanics, Lexmechanics, and Rune Priests). Every Priest - ordinary or ruling - will possess a dedicated attendant force of non-initiated labourers, menials, thralls, servitors, and so forth. Ruling Priests will logically have far larger workforces, and have the authority and influence to maintain a standing defensive force (Skitarii).

 

Incidentally, this a good justification as to why Skitarii are so difficult to define as any single thing - every force is subject to the particular proclivities of the Ruling Priest that owns them, rather than to some centralised military authority.

 

The Cult Mechanicus communicates using the Lingua Technis - a distinct language from the various forms of Gothic that are spoken in the wider Imperium. Several novels over the last few years have put forward that the Lingua Technis isn't rendered as a traditional spoken language (or 'fleshvoice' - a language capable of being pronounced by an unaugmented human being), but is rather presented in high-capacity bursts of binary code projected and processed as sound. This makes a lot of sense from the perspective of the Mechanicus - two Tech-Priests can communicate large amounts of precise information very quickly using bursts of binary, which has the added advantage that the uninitiated (those without the necessary implants to process that noise as data) cannot hope to understand what they're saying. Trying to eavesdrop on Tech-Priests (already defined as a group who keep secrets from outsiders) is akin to trying to read a DVD by staring at it - the information is in no form that you are able to process.

 

The thing with language, of course, is that it shapes culture. The Adeptus Mechanicus are the guardians of technology. There's obviously a cut-off with regards to what is defines as "technology" here, because clearly you don't need a Tech-Priest to make fire or bash things with sharpened rocks. The ideal point is any period where humanity develops machines that function in a sufficiently complex way that it takes a reasonable amount of instruction and education to understand how they actually work. That's the ideal point for the Adeptus Mechanicus to step in. The development of the STC is a particularly good one, as Mars was supposedly the birthplace of STC technology anyway (and thus maintained STC technologies during the Age of Strife, while Terra, which had no such technological 'safety net' reverted to barbarism)

 

On a cultural level, anything beyond a particular level of sophistication is the preserve of the Adeptus Mechanicus. It is their responsibility to maintain such machines. Manufacturing certain technologies for widespread use can be licensed out, provided to outsiders under the oversight of an initiate into the Cult Mechanicus (manufactories producing Lasguns or Chimeras under the watchful optics of a Tech-Priest), and technologies used on a massive scale need instruction to use and maintain properly.

 

I've always imagined that this works in a couple of ways. Workers who interact with machines regularly are given simple instructions for care and use of those machines - the machines are, afterall, more valuable than the people operating them. These instructions are clear, step-by-step instructions for specific tasks, performed by rote. You don't need to know how the lighting in your home works to change a lightbulb, afterall. That these process instructions are framed as litanies and rites emphasises the importance of them to a civilisation defined by their collective faith and superstition. Whether or not a person believes in the 'machine spirit' isn't relevant - what matters is that the instructions contained within the litanies work. More complex repair and maintenance tasks may be handled by lay-technicians - people given the responsibility for doing all the technical jobs that are too menial for an actual Tech-Priest to do. Tech-Priests themselves are widespread, but they're also busy both with their duties to the wider Imperium and with their own research into the mysteries of technology.

 

Machine spirits are, of course, a highly contentious matter on their own. I personally take it that while some 'machine spirits' are a convenient anthropomorphism of technology (no different from chastising your car or your computer when it doesn't work properly - the device has no persona to appeal to, yet so many people do it anyway - or characterising the particular flaws and quirks of a machine as 'likes' and 'dislikes'), others are automated systems that subtly influence a machine's function. The largest and most complex devices - Land Raiders, Astartes aircraft, Titans, and Spacecraft - have vast arrays of cogitators and organic pseudo-brains that give the machine rudimentary autonomy akin to the mind of a trained animal, allowing them to be interfaced with more simply - a Titan's Princeps communes with his Engine as a cavalryman might interact with his steed - and which tend to pick up stray neural patterns from past users over centuries, giving them a personality of sorts.

 

Thing is, for so many generations, this has been the case. The most complex technologies have been the preserve of the Adeptus Mechanicus for so long that many of the terms used to describe them no longer exist in the common vocabularies of Gothic. The Cult Mechanicus have their own exactingly-precise terminology for such concepts and systems, but that terminology is in a language that unaugmented humans can't process, let alone understand. There's a language barrier restricting the access of technology, and this is just how the Cult Mechanicus wants it - you can't share the Cult's secrets if the secrets you know can only be accurately expressed in a language that nobody outside the Cult can possibly understand you.

 

The Tech-Priests themselves aren't superstitious, but rather instinctively obstructive - they build complex machines that lack the user-friendly interfaces we're accustomed to in order to put a barrier between people and machines. They interface with cogitator networks through neural data-shunts and noospheric perception and haptic response systems, because the idea of putting it on a screen where anyone can read it is both inefficient (why waste processing power presenting information in a form that flesh can comprehend?) and dangerous (only the chosen few need to perceive this data). They talk - to the uninitiated - about machine spirits and rites and litanies partly because it's the way that the Mechanicus chooses to communicate a select amount of knowledge with outsiders and partly because the fact that the actual technical knowledge is in a language that doesn't directly translate to Gothic makes any other way of presenting ideas in a 'fleshvoice' even more inefficient. They're initiates into a Cult of secrets... so there's a large degree of deliberate obfuscation and being deliberately mysterious when it comes to the Adeptus Mechanicus. And, of course, the biggest secret there is that the Mechanicus have gaps in their knowledge - their understanding of the 'canon' of STC data is incomplete, with elements pieced together from scavenged schematics, fragments of data on ancient storage devices, and reverse-engineered relics, and new finds are carefully scrutinised for their authenticity and purity of purpose before being accepted into the STC canon (I use 'canon' here in the traditional religious sense - consequently, you could infer that illicit technology is apocryphal). The Quest for Knowledge - the fundamental goal of the Cult Mechanicus - is driven by the pursuit of knowledge, with the basic notion that all knowledge already exists, it merely needs to be recovered and understood.

 

Yes, humans outside the Adeptus Mechanicus will dabble with machinery and study the sciences of old. If they get caught, odds are that their research will be stolen and their bodies will be repurposed into a Servitor (because you never know when someone will stumble onto a good idea). But there are far too many of these petty Hereteks around for even the tinest fraction of them to be stopped. So curious people will carry on experimenting with technology, especially in places far from a Tech-Priest's unblinking cybernetic gaze. It doesn't always end well, because manufacturing processes for the most advanced technologies are relatively inefficient compared to how they were in ancient days, so a lot of the best technology is less reliable than it should be.

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If the Tech-Priests aren't superstitious, do they still believe/worship the Machine God/Void dragon then? Or is that just a show for outsiders?

 

Edit: Then again superstition and religion are two different things.

 

Carry on.

Edited by Gridash

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If the Tech-Priests aren't superstitious, do they still believe/worship the Machine God/Void dragon then? Or is that just a show for outsiders?

The Cult Mechanicus is a religion in the sense that it is a defined world view and set of beliefs. As you note, religion and superstition aren't inherently the same thing.

The Machine God is an anthropomorphism of the sum total of human knowledge and understanding. It is the ideal. Though the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are the frame of reference that most of us have for 'religion' (leading to the screwed up state of most fantasy RPG pantheons, which tend to act more akin to multiple competing Abrahamic religions rather than how historical polytheistic religions have functioned), but it's far from the only approach.

The Cult Mechanicus venerates knowledge. Without any regard for the influence and involvement of the Void Dragon (the details of which are vague at best) The Machine God is the personification of knowledge, venerated as the font of all understanding. It represents what the Priests of Mars venerate - the pursuit of knowledge. The Emperor - a being who had witnessed, understood, and been involved in human technological development for tens of thousands of years - is in turn commonly regarded as the corporeal personification of the abstract Machine God: the Omnissiah.

Taking into account the Void Dragon, it can be theorised that its presence on Mars (a state of affairs engineered by the Emperor in the distant past) serves as a literal muse, its presence influencing the minds of those upon Mars to greater feats of technological advancement. In that sense, the imprisoned Void Dragon is a literal Machine God, the font of all the technological knowledge that the Mechanicus are guardians of.

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Excellent take on the machine cult. The one change I would make is that as a mystery cult it has ranks and levels of initiation and what is believed and practice's at one level may be different at another. I see low ranking techpriests as quite superstitious and mystical, because they don't have great access to the cults secrets. As far as knowledge goes they are closer to the lay technicians than the arch-mages.

As they progress through the ranks they learn more. Greater secrets are revealed and they begin to understand the purpose and reasoning behind the rites and rituals. An arch magos is a being of logic and knowledge, able to build a plasma rifle from basic principles. He communicates in a language of metaphor and mysticism because

a) it took him centuries of pain, graft and study to understand how that plasma gun works and he isn't going to give that knowledge away for free

b) people who give away secrets without suitable initiation don't make it to archmagos and so all archmagos are inherently secretive people

c) no one but another arch magos would understand if he didn't use "baby talk", try explaining the mechanisms of nuclear fission to an 8 year old in terms that they can understand it. That's the state of knowledge in the imperium.

d) Joe Imperial doesn't want to have his world view ripped apart. The language and constancy of science is that of magic and that is comforting to many. If you told an imperial citizen that there really isn't a machine spirit in you gun but you should perform most of the rites anyway to keep it functional you will have ripped his world view apart making him very unhappy. Better to keep the proles content than having them think for themselves and get funny ideas.

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So a discussion came up in my group last session and one of us started talking about how we could modify a weapon beyond just simply using the weapon modifications in the armoury. Like could I get two bolters put them together with tech use or trade (Armourer) and make a storm bolter out of them or get a Plasma pistol and turn it into a Plasma gun. I've looked through the Crafting rules in the rulebook and the rules don't say anything on using similar items for the materials or part of the materials so in the case of making a Plasma gun trying to craft it you would have to make a requisition test for a rare item. (one level higher because the materials to make the item are one level higher) If I didn't mind pulling apart a Plasma pistol for some of the materials how would the effect the test. Also another thing that came up would we need the designs for a weapon if we had a similar one and pulled it apart.

 

Main problem here is that AdMech believe that whole worthy knowledge has already been discovered in the past and written down by the ancients. That's why an average tech-priest, after experiencing difficulties in solving engineering problem would certainly not do any experiments as he would do nowadays. He'd probably lock himself in a library and search books for the answers or consult older colleagues.

 

That gives you a backdoor to such innovations. If your players would find a blueprint, a book that mentions or even an audio log that describes invention you wrote about, it may allow them to try to build something like that. It's a perfect seed for an adventure - to infiltrate AdMech library and find the book that mentions location of blueprint or even STC.

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