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Machine Spirits

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Cifer said:

@N0-1_H3r3

That's how I've always interpreted it, anyway.

Same here, except for the part about true AI. That seems to be relatively flexible, depending on who does it and if he's got a sacred STC pattern after which he constructs the stuff. Landraider machine spirits would IMO be considered heretek if they weren't built into a Landraider, whose pattern is holy by definition.

I don't see them as that advanced. IMO, at best they're animalistic software - their capacity for learning is essentially non-existent, and their capacity for self-determination is extremely limited. The same can be said of the similar devices used on Titans and Starships. Particularly in the case of Titans, the use of MIU links 'contaminates' the software with lingering traces of personality from previous crew, and other quirks can be chalked down to centuries or millennia of operation without any real maintenance run on the programming.

Given that the ban on true AI was specifically an instruction from the Emperor himself at the start of the Great Crusade, and the Land Raider was rediscovered at some point after that yet before the Heresy (a period of about three centuries during which technological advancement was taking place), I doubt it'd contain illegal technology, especially as rogue elements within the Mechanicum (as they were called at the time) relished the chance to work on forbidden technology under Horus' commands at the start of the Heresy.

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I'd agree with everyone else who've been saying that the view of machine spirits is really just a form of animism.  A person in the 40K world would view technology as having some inhabited life force, which needs to be attended to just as people and animals if you want it to continue to function.

When I read about Mechanicus priests fixing things via rituals, I think of how a latin Catholic mass is conducted.  The priest sits there chanting to himself, in a latinesque way, the directions he's supposed to follow.  "The wrench is to be inserted around the bolllllt.... Turn the wrench counter-clockwiiiise.... Remove the bolllllt...." and so on.  He's doing this because the act of working on a machine is a sacred act to him, just as the Eucharist is sacred in a Catholic mass.  Each bolt screwed, or oil pan drained is a sacred act.  Some mechanicus priests are going to do this with intricate and devote praise with each gesture, while other priests are just going through the motions when they do it, having a more banal and "secular" worldview.

As for the OP and the oil.  There is nothing special about the oil, it's just oil.  If you don't lubricate the machine then it won't work, and sometimes all a machine needs is a bit of oil here and there to get it working again.  That's the real key in how we view the world in our time and how they view the world 40,000 years in the future.  We have an empirical world view where we can saying, "it's just oil" whereas for someone in the Imperium it is this sacred liquid that helps feed the machine spirit of the door hinge, suplicating and appeasing it, ending it's screeching pain.

Robots, Androids and the like are blasphemous because in the past there was a problem where the robot AI tried to take out humanity.  Just as in Terminator, Battlestar Galactica and other stories where the machines rise up to attack humanity, this also happened in the 40K universe.  The lesson was that AI is dangerous, it isn't human and it threatens humanity.  Because of how the culture is in decline, information is lost and the culture forgets, all that is passed down now is that AI is bad because it doesn't have a machine spirit, it's unatural, just like the warp and chaos.  Still, there is plenty of stuff that has AI in it, and computers are used all over the place, but it's just that some of it was grandfathered in because it wasn't as sophisticated as true independent AI.

One other thing that should be highlighted because people sometimes overlook this is that Warhammer 40,000 is meant to be 40,000 years in our future, not 40,000 years ahead of the Warhammer Fantasy.  It's basically 40,000 A.D.  The Warhammer Fantasy world is a planet created by the ancient Slaan as a testbed and breeding ground for many of the races in the 40K galaxy, such as the humans, eldar and orks.  The fantasy world is now hidden in a warp storm somewhere and it isn't very clearly defined as to when it is in relation to the 40K timeline.  One could presume that since the world hasn't completely been overwhelmed by chaos that the fantasy world exists in a time after the rest of the galaxy has been seeded with these races, but long before the events of the 41st century.

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ajurna said:

When I read about Mechanicus priests fixing things via rituals, I think of how a latin Catholic mass is conducted.  The priest sits there chanting to himself, in a latinesque way, the directions he's supposed to follow.  "The wrench is to be inserted around the bolllllt.... Turn the wrench counter-clockwiiiise.... Remove the bolllllt...." and so on.  He's doing this because the act of working on a machine is a sacred act to him, just as the Eucharist is sacred in a Catholic mass.  Each bolt screwed, or oil pan drained is a sacred act.  Some mechanicus priests are going to do this with intricate and devote praise with each gesture, while other priests are just going through the motions when they do it, having a more banal and "secular" worldview.

Though the prayer is likely to be longer, more complicated, and vocalised in binary.

Spoken prayer is such an organic thing to do, and quite improper for a true servant of the Omnissiah.

As it stands, I tend to take a slightly different view of Techpriests in general. As far as I'm concerned, a lot of the superstition about technology in the Imperium is Mechanicus propaganda playing on the fears of the uneducated. Within the Mechanicus itself, knowledge is gained as rank is gained within the organisation, and while their knowledge (as a whole) isn't perfect, and while those at lower ranks still cling to the rituals they've been taught, they're still knowledgeable enough and intelligent enough to be able to do things with advanced machinery far beyond the rote-learned maintenance rituals taught to the common masses of soldiers, manufactorum workers and lay-technicians who aren't deemed worthy of true knowledge.

ajurna said:

One other thing that should be highlighted because people sometimes overlook this is that Warhammer 40,000 is meant to be 40,000 years in our future, not 40,000 years ahead of the Warhammer Fantasy.  It's basically 40,000 A.D.  The Warhammer Fantasy world is a planet created by the ancient Slaan as a testbed and breeding ground for many of the races in the 40K galaxy, such as the humans, eldar and orks.  The fantasy world is now hidden in a warp storm somewhere and it isn't very clearly defined as to when it is in relation to the 40K timeline.  One could presume that since the world hasn't completely been overwhelmed by chaos that the fantasy world exists in a time after the rest of the galaxy has been seeded with these races, but long before the events of the 41st century.

The Warhammer World and Warhammer 40,000 Universe are generally considered to be distinct settings these days, not even in the same universe. The author of the Liber Chaotica books mentioned at one point (I think on Warseer, but I can't be certain) that the approach he was told to take was that they were separate universes linked only by the Warp in the middle, rather than the Warhammer World being somewhere in the 40k universe...

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MILLANDSON said:

 

Except that the Good-Craftmanship MIU gives you a +10 for interaction tests with Machine Spirits, so if they don't exist, that bonus is a bit rubbish gui%C3%B1o.gif

 

 

The one time this came up in game was when the explorator (me) had to open a hatch to the astropath choir that the ship sealed as a safety protocol (gellar field fluctuation, long story).

GM ran it as a psuedo interation, with me making a fellowship test (with the +10) to "calm the machine spirit", success got me a +20 on the subsequent tech use check to unseal the hatch.

In character I saw it as talking down a deeply traumatized and scared friend enough for her to "put away the gun", so to speak.  Never really bothered to think what it was out of character.

This could come in handy now that we're dealing with an insane simalcra (true AI, that "mimics a human soul"), if the thing doesn't kill us/drive me (more) insane first.  Thinking of getting Binary Chatter for good measure.

@ ajurna and NO-1

I always thought of machine cult prayers as mnemonics.  IE, the rythm etc. of the prayer makes it possible to remember the incredably complex procedures that the task might require.

High level magos may not need this kind of help, but they do it out of habit or to keep up appearanaces.

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RT page 144, CALCULANCE ARRSAY="........ Its machine spirit accepts reams of figures, and other data, oredering them and spitting forth parchment summations and predictions upon command." Sounds like a near sentient AI to me.

RT page 146, REMUNERATION ENGINE= "..... Its tempermental machine spirit requires the constant attention of tech-adepts, however."

 

However, some computer like devices, such as Data Looms, Motion Predictors, such as, which give a bonus for a character and do not have a machine spirit.

Please explain this to me.

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Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

RT page 144, CALCULANCE ARRSAY="........ Its machine spirit accepts reams of figures, and other data, oredering them and spitting forth parchment summations and predictions upon command." Sounds like a near sentient AI to me.

That sounds like a near sentient AI to you? That sounds like Excel to me. Maybe Matlab

 

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

RT page 146, REMUNERATION ENGINE= "..... Its tempermental machine spirit requires the constant attention of tech-adepts, however."

 

Hahahahaha. That also sounds like excel to me.

 

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

However, some computer like devices, such as Data Looms, Motion Predictors, such as, which give a bonus for a character and do not have a machine spirit.

Please explain this to me.

My understanding was that the common belief was that all machines have a machine spirit. I'd always understood these to be fragments of the c'tan named the void dragon. However, I can't imagine that there are fragments of a c'tan in every lasgun produced in the imperium.

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Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

RT page 144, CALCULANCE ARRSAY="........ Its machine spirit accepts reams of figures, and other data, oredering them and spitting forth parchment summations and predictions upon command." Sounds like a near sentient AI to me.

RT page 146, REMUNERATION ENGINE= "..... Its tempermental machine spirit requires the constant attention of tech-adepts, however."

 

However, some computer like devices, such as Data Looms, Motion Predictors, such as, which give a bonus for a character and do not have a machine spirit.

Please explain this to me.

 

 

All machines from the small las pistol to the mighty warp ship all have machine spirits for all machines must have a spirit. The machine which dose not have a spirit is an affront to the Omnisiah and shall result in not but disaster for those who seek to use it. The descriptions simply didn't mention the machine spirit, but it's there, as it is in the auspex, the magnoculars, the multikey, the las gun, and the servo-skull.  Without it, the machine would be insane.

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I think the idea of machine spirits is much closer to the way we treat machines now than people like to think

Ever sworn at your computer?

Did you ever blow into your nintendo cartredge over and over again to get it to work?

Has your treatment of Excel (or even worse, R) ever fealt like some arcane ritual?

Ever run a defragmenter to make your computer run better? Do you have any idea what this actually does?

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monkyman said:

Did you ever blow into your nintendo cartredge over and over again to get it to work?

Actually me and my friends had (when we were younger) an almost religious debate over the correct activation procedures to make a NES work properly. These consoles were (as most gamers know) quite prone to malfunction after a long time of use, but they were also more durable than modern consoles and could stand up to a little "rough love" when they were cranky. It involved blowing into the cartridges, blowing into the slot, banging your hand on the side of the console etc. etc.

After a near religious consenus me and my friends reached an agreement that the correct "ritual of activation" is not to bang on the console, but to blow once (AND ONLY ONCE!) into the cartidge, then blow once into the slot and then breathe into the cartridge so that the connecting parts were a little moist from your exhale breath.

Whats wierd though is that this extremely superstitious procedure tended to make cranky NES consoles work more often than other tried methods.

Ahh, the nostalgia. Tech-superstition at it's finest. gran_risa.gif

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Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

Sorry, and I do not like the mystical in a Sci-fi setting, so high tech it is for my players.

40K isn't Sci-Fi.

It's Gothic Space Fantasy. Elves, Dwarves, and Daemons. Guys killing guys with swords and knives. It's literally WFB/WFRP in space. Right down to vampires in the 40K:RT rulebook. Ships that move like they are on the ocean. weapons that ignore the basics of thermodynamics.

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Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

I like to think that machine spirits represent the high tech creations of the distant past which now seem magical.

Well that's what it is bascially.

I mean, if you've muddled the image to such an extent, would it really matter for the individual if it really was high-tech or magic?

Imagine showing some people living in the stone age a fully functioning television set, or a cell phone or a gun. To them, it wouldn't be "technology" as they are used to (their idea of "techology" would be to start a fire using sticks, or making a club out of a rock, some rope and a stick), it would be magic.

It's the same thing in 40K. Which of course means that neither the game nor the GM actually has to adhere to any real physical laws at all, nor serve up an explanation to what a machine spirit really is or what it does or which machines it is "actually" present inside of. The players are supposed to roleplay characters who have no friggin idea of such things, besides the religious aspects taught by the mechanicus.

So whether it actually is mystical spirits or high-tech isn't really relevant.

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aramis said:

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

Sorry, and I do not like the mystical in a Sci-fi setting, so high tech it is for my players.

 

 

40K isn't Sci-Fi.

It's Gothic Space Fantasy. Elves, Dwarves, and Daemons. Guys killing guys with swords and knives. It's literally WFB/WFRP in space. Right down to vampires in the 40K:RT rulebook. Ships that move like they are on the ocean. weapons that ignore the basics of thermodynamics.

aramis said:

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

Sorry, and I do not like the mystical in a Sci-fi setting, so high tech it is for my players.

 

 

40K isn't Sci-Fi.

It's Gothic Space Fantasy. Elves, Dwarves, and Daemons. Guys killing guys with swords and knives. It's literally WFB/WFRP in space. Right down to vampires in the 40K:RT rulebook. Ships that move like they are on the ocean. weapons that ignore the basics of thermodynamics.

 

The reason for closecombat weapons is called Orks.

But i classify it as Science Fantasy(the only things i have read that i can classify as real sci-fi is the book I Robot).

Many things in the Old RT book has been revised, during that time there were no daemons only warp beasts. "Vampires" still exists but they go under other names(i can't remember an example sorry) and are usually mutants or daemons with similiar "abilities".

 weapons that ignore ThermoD  are abundant in all "so-called" sci-fi stories.

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Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

Excel does not make decisions, nor does it get angry or is it tempermental. however, I have had some issues with Excel which might be construed as a machine spirit.

Which is the point - in a lot of cases (though far from all), the 'Machine Spirit' is simply a superstitious personification of the manner in which a technological device functions. It's not mysticism, it's not magic... it's superstition compounded by a lack of knowledge. The technology is advanced... but the manner in which people use and interact with the technology is primitive... but not that primitive. Even people that know what they're doing with technology have been observed to attribute personality to inanimate objects (and as a species we have been doing this for a long time).

Even if you prefer to approach the 40k universe as a Sci-Fi setting (not something I personally recommend), the difference between 'how things work' and 'how people in the setting think things work' should always be considered, for it is a large and considerable difference indeed.

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Never underestimate the ability of humans to fall back on mysticism and superstition.

Even in our own time, a time of less violence, greater access to technology and excellent science facilities we still have religious systems that can be actively proven wrong (such as Christian science healing tchniques, crystal healing, homeopathy, etc, etc).

If this kind of superstition is prevelant in our own highly educated time, how much more so in a time of a) real magic (i.e. the warp), b) a large and organised church-state, c) total lack of science education and d) terrible oppression and war.

 

Essentially if it is possible for people to believe that religious rituals achieve impossible and easily disproved results in our time in first world nations (and they certainly do) then how much more possible in the 40k setting.

 

IMS we have treated the religion of the tech-priests as this.

All machines have spirits. Larger, more complex machines have more intelligent and powerful spirits. Small, weak spirits (e.g. a lasgun) can be bullied, coerced and praised into working. More powerful spirits such as titans should be praised and revered.

Also the cult mechanicus is a mystery religion. What the cult teaches the common man on the street is extremely limited. Actual knowledge is reserved for higher ranks. Ignorance is not something the cult works to prevent, it is something it actively promotes so that its degrees and ranks have even greater importance.

Top level tech-priests, such as magos' actually know how stuff works, but they still view it through a religious lens. They can design, build and make new machines and understand the principles behind them (i.e. laws of thermodynamics, physics of kinetic motion, fundamental forces, etc). Arch magos i often see as those that have effectively left the religion behind. They are fantastically well informed about how it all works, and can create things that are effectively magic. Lesser techpriests might see a arch magis fix a computer with no ritual, but this would be because the archmagos is so mighty that the machine meekly obeys him, rather than because he has passed beyond the mystic woo.

 

At least, thats my take on it.

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mrobfire said:

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

RT page 144, CALCULANCE ARRSAY="........ Its machine spirit accepts reams of figures, and other data, oredering them and spitting forth parchment summations and predictions upon command." Sounds like a near sentient AI to me.

 

 

That sounds like a near sentient AI to you? That sounds like Excel to me. Maybe Matlab

 

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

RT page 146, REMUNERATION ENGINE= "..... Its tempermental machine spirit requires the constant attention of tech-adepts, however."

 

 

 

Hahahahaha. That also sounds like excel to me.

 

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

 

However, some computer like devices, such as Data Looms, Motion Predictors, such as, which give a bonus for a character and do not have a machine spirit.

Please explain this to me.

 

My understanding was that the common belief was that all machines have a machine spirit. I'd always understood these to be fragments of the c'tan named the void dragon. However, I can't imagine that there are fragments of a c'tan in every lasgun produced in the imperium.

 

The C'tan theory is rather stupid (and bloody annoying, goddamn GW not everything needs to be the fault of a C'tan), the Void Dragon is asleep on Mars, for your fragments theory to work that would have to discount the fact that there are multiple forge worlds across the Imperium, so either every single piece of technology would have to come from Mars, which would be logistically impossible or that every forge world or tech priest outpost would have to have it's own chunk of Void Dragon, in which case how the hell is it still kept secret.

 

Also it kind of ignores everything about how the Imperium works in favour of a conspiracy theory.

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Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

Sorry, and I do not like the mystical in a Sci-fi setting, so high tech it is for my players.

 

The acts of interacting with the machine spirits aren't mystical, simply the viewpoint the PCs have on it. Look at the entry for the calculance array you quoted: "... Its machine spirit accepts reams of figures, and other data, oredering them and spitting forth parchment summations and predictions upon command." That could easily describe inputting your income figures into some accounting software and getting it to calculate your deductables or something. All that's necessary is for you to accept that clicking 'Calculate' is a command, which, well, it is. The mystical description is just the way the uneducated PCs see it. Machine Spirit = program, Command = click/run/otherwise interact, Tome of Rituals = instruction manual.

 

 

If you want to remove the mystical viewpoint from the PCs as well, then you're not playing in the 40k setting, which is fundamentally built around the gameworld being The Middle Ages In Space. Then you should pick something which doesn't feature mysticism as a core setting theme, such as Traveller (a more conventional sci-fi Rogue Trader-style game).

 

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My take on Machine spirits is based off two things. First, I heard from some reasonably reliable source (although I can't recall which one...ARRGH) that a neural scan taken from a dog or beast of similar intelligence was used in Titans to help with coordination and to provide "instincts" that would help it fight. The second is the Machine Spirit Oddities in RT.

Basically, my theory (non-canon, as far as I know, but I don't think it explicitly contradicts it either) is that Machine Spirits are imitations of actual animal thought patterns placed into particularly large and important tech items, like Ships and Titans. Then the Mechanicus came along, failed a Logic test, and said "These things are tech, and have machine spirits. Therefore all tech has machine spirits." Bam. Suddenly superstitious BS. Except in the most ancient and sacred forms of tech.

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aramis said:

 

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

Sorry, and I do not like the mystical in a Sci-fi setting, so high tech it is for my players.

 

 

40K isn't Sci-Fi.

It's Gothic Space Fantasy. Elves, Dwarves, and Daemons. Guys killing guys with swords and knives. It's literally WFB/WFRP in space. Right down to vampires in the 40K:RT rulebook. Ships that move like they are on the ocean. weapons that ignore the basics of thermodynamics.

 

 

Note that Dwarfs are entirely optional, but Dwarves simply don't exist.

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HappyDaze said:

aramis said:

 

Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex said:

 

Sorry, and I do not like the mystical in a Sci-fi setting, so high tech it is for my players.

 

 

40K isn't Sci-Fi.

It's Gothic Space Fantasy. Elves, Dwarves, and Daemons. Guys killing guys with swords and knives. It's literally WFB/WFRP in space. Right down to vampires in the 40K:RT rulebook. Ships that move like they are on the ocean. weapons that ignore the basics of thermodynamics.

 

 

Note that Dwarfs are entirely optional, but Dwarves simply don't exist.

My copies of WH40K:RT disagree.

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aramis said:

HappyDaze said:

 


Note that Dwarfs are entirely optional, but Dwarves simply don't exist.

 

 

My copies of WH40K:RT disagree.

He's being a grammer Nazi. Technically, the word is "dwarfs" not "dwarves".

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MILLANDSON said:

He's being a grammer Nazi. Technically, the word is "dwarfs" not "dwarves".

Of course, there's also no "u" in the word armor, and don't even get me started on maneuverability.

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