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The_Shaman

Sanctioning Brand - What, Where, If?

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Hi,

I'm gearing up for an incoming DH game and helping some of the players finish up their characters. I have two psykers now, and the player of one asked me just what design the sanctioning brand has and where it can be. That got me thinking, and the fact that it's in the gear sections makes me wonder if it's not a "memento" rather than a brand in the first place. Now, I consider the word "brand" quite literal, but the Dark Heresy novels (for all they are worth) have a sanctionite who's gone undercover have an affair with a rogue psyker. Considering that sex (and therefore nudity) was involved, and there was no mention of the brand being somehow obscured, I expect that means a psyker can either not have any visible identifying mark, or the author didn't do his research.

For now, I'm leaning towards allowing a mark where it can easily be accessible for inspection - face, hands, shoulders or chest. However, this is just my gut feeling - does anyone here have specific rules or examples of how it works in your games?

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On the other hand acylotes often go undercover and nothing blows undercover missions more than big flashy sign "imperial psyker" on someone's forehead (well, tech priest meaby). I have heard that some psykers have an electro which they can turn on and off at will, so that it can be hidden when needed, and visible while not on a mission (I don't thing any other option for turning it off would be permitted0.

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Kasatka said:

 It has to be somewhere visible - as with cattle getting branded to know who owns them, psykers are much the same.

Pretty much this. Most pictures I've seen have them with the brand on their forehead, or on their hands or arms in full view.

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Well, iirc before in the fluff psykers are almost immediately assigned to the various adepta, guard units etc, and I imagine the brand might show that. However, here psykers are branded immediately, before being assigned to a master. This is why I imagine it being a problem for an inquisitor, who might want his or her acolytes keeping a lower profile.

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Most of what I've seen the psychers have a physical brand on  their bodies somewhere.  Most pictures have it on the forehead, chest, arm, hand, neck... somewhere on the body.  Although the sanctioned psycher IG modal for the table top game is wearing a necklace with a giant aquila and a SP right in the center.  The electoo is an interesting idea that I like, but even if its a physical brand, you can have it hidden under clothing or cover it with makeup.  And I am also of the opinion that the more "trusted" Sanctioned Psychers could be given an identifying badge or something to show they are legal, like a passport or badge or something.  Mostly though, it's up to you, what do you want to allow?  If its a physical brand, than that could be fun to have them try to hide it while under cover, but if you think it would be more balanced and fair to let them have a "badge of sanctioning" to give them the same chances of hiding as the rest of the party, sounds good too.

As far as what it looks like, I always just thought it would be an Aquila with the SP in the center and probably a unique identification number that could be checked with Administratium.

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 Inquisitor:  "As for the sanctioning brand, it needs to be accessible in case of emergencies, but not clearly visible.  He will be doing sensitive work where discretion is necessary."

Psyker Sanctioner 1:  "No, the rules clearly state it must be visible, right on the forehe-"

*blam blam blam*

Psyker Sanctioner 2:  "Yeeeeah, Electoo sound ok?  I'll install an electoo."

Inquisitor:  "You do that."

 

 

It depends on when/where the Inquisitor picked the pysker up.  If he saw potential others did not after seeing him in action in a military conflict, the sanctioning brand will probably be clearly visible on his forehead, or hand, or somewhere similarly visible.

If the Inquisitor picks him up before the psyker is assigned to other tasks and thinks it better it be placed on the roof of his mouth, or 3 inches inside his anus, or as an electoo implant rather than an obvious scar... that's what'll happen.

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Bilateralrope said:

If a psyker survives and recovers from an injury that also removes their sanctioning brand, how easy is it for them to get it replaced ?

I imagine it would be relatively easy, if perhaps wrapped up in a couple layers of bureaucracy.  The Imperium wants its psykers to be branded, after all (at least most of the time) so it would probably be a simple matter of filing the paperwork for a replacement brand and paying some minor bull fee.

Why would your psyker pay money to have the brand replaced? Because without it (or some formal documentation from his Inquisitor exempting him from it) he would probably be jailed up or killed for not having one.  Minor bull fee looks a lot more enticing now.

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Steve-O said:

Bilateralrope said:

 

If a psyker survives and recovers from an injury that also removes their sanctioning brand, how easy is it for them to get it replaced ?

 

 

I imagine it would be relatively easy, if perhaps wrapped up in a couple layers of bureaucracy.  The Imperium wants its psykers to be branded, after all (at least most of the time) so it would probably be a simple matter of filing the paperwork for a replacement brand and paying some minor bull fee.

Why would your psyker pay money to have the brand replaced? Because without it (or some formal documentation from his Inquisitor exempting him from it) he would probably be jailed up or killed for not having one.  Minor bull fee looks a lot more enticing now.

How would that method stop an unsanctioned psyker from cheating their way through the brand replacement procedure ?

Then, when someone comes to take them to a Black Ship, they simply point to the brand (which isn't a forgery) and get left alone.

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In my game the Psyker is branded (with the sign of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica) at the lower throat just above the collarbone. This way he can hide it with  high collared clothing or a scarf, but it is easily to detect if subjected to a body search or on the beach. In my opinion it is vital that the brand is somewhere on the upper torso (above heart, on major arteria, on backbone etc.) or head, so that amputation of limbs or heavy non-lethal injury cannot displace it in a way.

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What I found amusing was today someone pointed out to me.  In the core book The sanctioning brand, is listed as a piece of starting gear for the sanctioned psyker, not as a distinctive mark.

 

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The primaris psyker pc in my ascension campaign has a *big* tattoo across his upper chest. Very obvious if he needs it to be but he is working for the Inquisition and that sometimes involves not immediately giving away that he is a psyker.

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I think more to the point its not a brand as like a cattle brand but more the original, near archaic meaning:

(From Dictionary.com)
"brand - to mark with disgrace or infamy..."

If this is the case, than the mark can be ANYTHING.  which takes away the point of, "what does it look like?" and changes it to, "what do I want it to look like for this game and character."

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A Brand can't be a simple tattoo, it must be something difficult to imitate, like an electronic ID.

In my game, I consider it a special electronic document.

And from now I'll add the electoo.

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Artanyis said:

If this is the case, than the mark can be ANYTHING.  which takes away the point of, "what does it look like?" and changes it to, "what do I want it to look like for this game and character."

 

I disagree, the brand has to be something standardized, so any local Arbites, Ministorum, etc. can recognize it upon inspection.  In all cases it probably has some kind of electronic, or psy active element to it, so it can be scanned by officials, or looked for by members of the Telepathica.  In most cases it will be a very visible brand on the arms, face, torso, back, etc.  It can be covered up, but is easily located with a physical search.  

When an Inquisitor has need of a Psyker he plans to use in covert missions, he may have the physically evident portion of the brand removed, while leaving the electronic, or psy active element in place.  This makes going undercover a lot easier, though it can also make it more difficult to deal with planetary police forces when you can't just whip it out when they confront you for using psy powers in their sight.

It would not be a badge or similar device, as such things can be stolen easily - and there would be a massive market for these "Brands" among unsanctioned psykers.  

Typically the brand is going to be someplace where it would not easily be damaged during confrontations - which means having it on limbs is far rarer than the head or upper body. (personally, I'd guess many are branded right over the heart, where any damage equal to the task of destroying the brand will also likely kill the psyker.) 

Considering the wide variety of very disturbing things that can happen to one on the "sactioning side effects" table, I also wouldn't be surprised to hear the act of being sanctioned left some trace in an individual's pyskic aura.  Thankfully, it isn't uncommon for non-sanctioned psykers to damage their aura in some way - through exposure to the warp - so only someone with training in what to look for, (a specific branch of the Telepathica) would recognize it.

 

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In my games it´s an Electoo in the form of an Imperial Aquila on the forehead. Easy to have active and being clearly visible when being "official", relatively hard to steal or conterfy, and also good for undercover work that not always ends with "Kill the Infiltrator! *blam*blam*blah*".

A firebrand-like or standart ink-tatoo like Sanctioning Brand would malke a Psyker a burden if not outright useless and counterproductive for many undercover investigations. If i´d be a Inquisitor that would be the 1st thing i´d change on a Psyker who came into my underling-network if he had one of the "classic" sanctioning brands.

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Noctus said:

A firebrand-like or standart ink-tatoo like Sanctioning Brand would malke a Psyker a burden

The main balancing point of the Psyker is because people hate them. Being a psyker, in setting, seems intentionally to be a burden. They get cool powers, but at the expense of the vast majority of the citizenry hating them and cries of "burn the witch!".

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From most of the pictures and things I have seen and heard from friends that have been playing 40k for a long time, a sanctioning brand is normally placed apon the forehead and is an aquilla variant.  This makes it very obvious what the induvidual is.  The means that if an undercover op is required an Inquisitor wouldn't send a sanctioned pysker.  Inquisitors aren't stupid and certainly don't waste assets.

However an Inquisitor would most like be able to choose where and what his sanctioning brand was, after all as a fully fledged Inquisitor you have almost unlimited power.  Also this maybe true if it's the inquisitor having an induvidual sanctioned, however 99.99% of sanctioned Pyskers have nothing to do with the Inquisition before their sanctioning and only a small amount go on to serve them......your players are special cases...in ever sense of the word.

 

 

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MILLANDSON said:

 

 

The main balancing point of the Psyker is because people hate them. Being a psyker, in setting, seems intentionally to be a burden. They get cool powers, but at the expense of the vast majority of the citizenry hating them and cries of "burn the witch!".

 

Hmm... I think the main balancing point of the Psyker is the fact that you will probably gain a healthy number of insanity/corruption points just for doing your job and you have a chance of being taken over by a daemon... or just gobbled up by the warp. That seems like a pretty big down side to me.

From what I understand, most psykers try to go around without advertising that they dabble in the warp so the idea that it's out there for anyone walking by to see is a little odd. It is also worth noting that it (I think Ascension) states a fair number of Inquisitors are psykers and I don't see any pictures of inquisitors with a big face decoration saying, "Hey, look here!"

Last thing, I think the marking is more of a record keeping help than a stigma, basically saying "Yep, we checked that one already, it's cool." In the Eisenhorn series the tainted/rogue alpha-plus psykers were marked on the ankle and I would think that if anyone needs a stigma mark it is them.  So the idea that you would take a faithful child of the imperium and mark them as unclean or whatever and not do that to a heretic known to be a threat and danger strikes as a bit odd.

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fagan883 said:

 

From what I understand, most psykers try to go around without advertising that they dabble in the warp so the idea that it's out there for anyone walking by to see is a little odd

 

 

I have to agree, sanctioned psychers are a valuable asset to the Imperium.  Considering that most of the citizenry hates and fears psychers, the few that can recognize a brand, would most likely start lynch mobs after any they recognized, having a physical and obvious brand would be a detriment all around.  Here are 3 points to consider.
1: A BRAND is a mark, not necessarily a physically imprinted mark, that is just a common conception of the word.
     - Consider the common "burning brand" its referring to the piece of metal heated in a fire to leave a "branding mark" or "mark of ownership"
2: The Core Rule Book lists it as starting gear, implying a physical item.
     - If it was to be a branded mark on the body wouldn't there be a small section in the career description about choosing the location / type?
3: Your the GM, talk to your player and find a mutually beneficial item, imprint, or marking.

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iI:

 

Jus axed FFG about it, this' what they fired back:

"WHAT exactly is the Sanctioned Psyker's Brand & WHERE should it be in the psyker's body?

 

"It's literally a brand, a hot piece of metal that burned the symbol onto the psyker's flesh. This can be anywhere, usually some place visible like the forehead, face or on the hands. It's up to the GM and player to come up with what location makes sense for the character."

 

HtH

L

 

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LETE said:

"It's literally a brand, a hot piece of metal that burned the symbol onto the psyker's flesh. This can be anywhere, usually some place visible like the forehead, face or on the hands. It's up to the GM and player to come up with what location makes sense for the character."

 

Again we have the issue that this would be so easy to fake or remove (especially if you consider the amount of damage that someone in service to the inquisition is going to potentially take or the augmetics one could get) so as to make it next to useless. Additionally, I cannot find any picture of a generic psyker, navigator, or astropath with a brand of any sort. Aesthetic tattoos yes, haggard body from screwing with the warp yes, brand no.

Also, if you take a look at rogue trader, neither the navigators nor the astropaths in that book have any sort of brand or marking mentioned.

I really think that they should make people who answer e-mails for a game system have to read the books they are talking about.

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Hi:

 

F-f-further prodding FFG brought this forth (quote, again):

"What symbol? The Inquisistion's "I", the Imperial Aquila's "2-headed eagle", the Psykana's "I", something else?


"If it's too obvious (branded forehead, for instance) wouldn't this, by default, destroy the acolyte's ability to infiltrate, to be an acolyte?

 

"The symbol is undefined in the lore, if you look at sanctioned psyker images you will see examples of the brand. People in 40k have weird brands all the time. Someone in the know, would be able to read the psykers band. But not all Acolytes are infiltration specialists.


Really, it's up to the GM."

 

HtH

L

angel.gif

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As FFg has said, Rule of Cool + GM Fiat = Good Gaming.

Why do Inquisitors not have shame marks? The same reason important people live to be centuries old. They both can afford, and have the authority to possess + acquire the treatments necessary.

Could somebody fake a sanctioning brand? Yeah, sure, if they have balls of steel and want to be designated as a dangerous burden on society. This isn't faking immigration into the States, this is walking up to the desk in Auschwitz and saying "Yeah, I'm actually an Aryan." There would likely be dozens of personnel capable of calling your bluff with a minimal amount of effort, and the slightest error on your part leads to a painful death. Best case scenario, you succeed, and unless somebody very important vouches for you, you get sent off to serve somebody, somewhere. Likely as a Savant militant. Sounds like a great idea to me...

To whomever used Black library novels as a source: Authors are like GM's. They get to assign the rule of cool as necessary to ensure a pleasant and fun experience, and to make their story work. As a result, nothing they write is canon until it shows up in a Codex. Ask Lynata about it sometime. Far more informed on the subject then I am, and far more capable of giving you official GM stances on the matter, but it boils down to it either being in a Codex (or in the context of FFG materials, in a rulebook) or it not being canon.

As to why Navigators aren't branded, well I'm not even sure they're sanctioned. They aren't really Psykers in the strictest sense, they're something else entirely. That is even ignoring the great wealth and influence of the Navis Nobilite Houses An Astropath is, but they are also Soul-Bound to the Emperor, and serve aboard Voidships exclusively in a fairly high standing, something they'd be an idiot to throw away, and they are inherently safer then your average Psyker.

About why Psykers are marked as a stigma to Imperial society: they are. They are much like Egyptian slaves; they are though of as stupid, worthless pieces of trash with the added 40k benefit of being inherently dangerous simply by continuing to not die. The fact that the Empire would collapse in short order without them is never given a thought, it is only the terrible fact of their existence that is considered.

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