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mortagon

A doctor in the 40k universe

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One of my players is playing a medic and in his background he states that he was from a prominent family on an Imperial world and his father was a respected doctor of medicae who would like nothing more than to have his son follow in his footsteps. Furthermore his father lived by the philosophy that the best way for the Empire of man to progress was through knowledge (but I sincerely hope he kept these radical thoughts to himself, although it seems his son has inherited the same notions).

 

Is it possible to be a doctor of medicae without also being a tech-priest of the divisio biologis? Could he perhaps have been tutored by such a tech-priest or learned his skills at an academy? In any case would he be allowed to practice these skills openly in an Imperial society?

 

If anyone has any suggestions of how I could fit this character into the 40k setting I would be most thankful.

 

M

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Is it possible to be a doctor of medicae without also being a tech-priest of the divisio biologis? Could he perhaps have been tutored by such a tech-priest or learned his skills at an academy? In any case would he be allowed to practice these skills openly in an Imperial society?

 

Yes, I think it is quite possible. In fact, the Dark Heresy rules include the Chirurgeon (read: surgeon) as a rank of the Adept career. To my understanding, a tech priest biologis is a biological scientist and medical researcher not necessarily a practicing physician. 

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It is my understanding that the Adeptus Mechanicus has the almost unrivaled monopoly over the investigation, creation and distribution of technology - not healthcare. I would assume that Forge Worlds have "hospitals" who operate under the auspices of the Cult Mechanicus, but in just about every other planet of the Imperium, the care for sickly and wounded is as much a local matter as the enforcement of planetary law.

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Wasn't there a woman in the Eisenhorn books who was a doctor?  

 

 

I'd imagine that 'chirurgeons' feel somewhat dependent on the AdMech for medical supplies and possibly training, but nothing about their skillset itself would be AdMech-only.

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Officio Medicae. Look it up. It's the imperial authority on medical care.

 

There's plenty of doctors in the Imperium that are not tied to AdMech. I think you are letting our own cultural preconceptions that link "Doctor" and "Scientist" get in the way of how things actually are, doubly so in the Imperium.

Edited by Fgdsfg

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I think you are letting our own cultural preconceptions that link "Doctor" and "Scientist" get in the way of how things actually are, doubly so in the Imperium.

 

Mhm. Herbal medicine and witchtribal doctors etc are quite likely a thing on a lot of Feral and even Feudal Worlds.

Edited by Lynata

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I think you are letting our own cultural preconceptions that link "Doctor" and "Scientist" get in the way of how things actually are, doubly so in the Imperium.

 

Mhm. Herbal medicine and witchtribal doctors etc are quite likely a thing on a lot of Feral and even Feudal Worlds.

Arguably, the best chirurgeons plying their art to the Highborn with AdMech grade equipment are as much quacks and witchdoctors by our scientific standards as the guy in the mask rattling a sack of animal bones and applying grox dung to the wound.

 

From a contemporary scientist's point of view, both are pretty much clueless about what they're really doing, and both believe the prayers they chant are an integral part of the procedure.

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I think you are letting our own cultural preconceptions that link "Doctor" and "Scientist" get in the way of how things actually are, doubly so in the Imperium.

 

Mhm. Herbal medicine and witchtribal doctors etc are quite likely a thing on a lot of Feral and even Feudal Worlds.

 

 

They're probably a thing a thing in the whole Imperium. I imagine a lot of Imperial "medicine" consists of prayers to saints.

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Excellent points from the both of you. The lines between science and mysticism being blurred is one of the main themes in the setting, at least in how I choose to see it. The Index Astartes article about the creation of Space Marines goes into some detail on the subject, discussing how not even the Astartes are immune to the decay of knowledge. It is very likely not different for day-to-day healthcare even on worlds that are similarly "advanced", or at least used to be...

 

Even the Medicus Ministorum from the 2E SoB Codex sounds suitably medieval...

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Actually, I think that the degeneration of actual knowledge is a THE key part of the setting - I think it was in Rick Priestley's notes on the setting in the back of the old Blue Book (Rogue Trader.) - The actual technology in use in the 41st millenium is so far advanced, that nothing was specifically described in the book - it was explicitly stated that things like holographic displays and other tech that we could only imagine (in the 80s!) , would be considered horrendously archaic/primitive in the future - users know 'how to' make things work (including chants and prayers that might once have been mnemonics or other lost knowledge), but not 'why they do.'  Since then, the fluff has grown up around practices and tools that are understandable to our 21st century mindsets - but while we might mock a 40k techpriest who prays to his tools - how many modern medics could repair an MRI scanner? A techpriest could - as well as be able to utilise an automated narcethium to cure cancer.

 

Essentially most knowledge in the 41st millennium is rote learning - because learning from first principles might take longer than a lifetime.

 

So - in answer to the first post - I guess it depends (as always!) on the technology base that your doctor is from - is he from some hypercare of the future, where he needs to be an Admech adept to operate the 'medicae machines' that no one understands the workings of, or is he an early 20th century equivalent, with a doctors bag of basic equipment and training passed on orally and through trial and error? - The Imperium has a much wider range of tech levels on its worlds than this example, so you need to establish that first before you can answer your more detailed question.

Edited by azazel1

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Dorden (simple blood tests informed him of his own cancer)

Ana Curth

Eisenhorn's ex-fling

Belknap (a trained-***-disbarred physician that new how to use specialist monitors)

The woman executed for helping spring Ravenor and his lot from imprisonment (major surgery on a mass of lumpen flesh contained within a specialist life support unit)

 

All were Physicians, none were AdMech.

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another consideration is medicine might just be the only place knowledge (not technology) has moved forward. new plants and animals are constantly being discovered in the imperium. most are tested for military use, but some are undoubtedly used for other purposes. most through trial and error during early colonization most likely. then there is the divisio biologis. the STC is a record of perfect technology that can be applied to any circumstance in any environment. but to apply that tech you have to know the properties of your raw materials. hence research and new knowledge in natural resources. and by extension medicine.

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I've just spotted something pertinent in the Field Chirurgeon advanced class in HoTE - it states that as far as the Imperium is concerned, the most abundant resource it has is manpower, therefore injuries or illness to the common man is basically tough luck - if you're a nobody there are a billion more to take your place!  I think the novels etc obscure this, as by default they are about heroes and 'somebodies' worthy of Imperial medical attention, but otherwise if you're not in the club sorry.  I see it as a nightmare version of US health insurance, crossed with "1984" (thanks for reminder Lynata) where you were either in the Inner Party (the elite), the Outer Party (the middle class) or the Proles (the average citizen.)  So basically, the super fantastical care of the future is available if the Imperium deems you worth the expense (ie Inquisitors and the like,) you probably have some basic lower tech care you can wait for if you're a run of the mill Adept (with a bit of unrequested modification to improve your work rate, but otherwise it's family and friends and the charitable hospital only (as hospitals have been around since Roman times there's bound to be somewhere to go, even if it's just to be hastened to the nutrient vats....

 

As an extra point, you need to think about what Doctors actually do - usually they just diagnose, with specialists treating anything complicated.  So your family doctor might well be a respected GP, who can sort out broken limbs etc, and direct the patients with the resources/healthcare to the appropriate specialist, but otherwise if you can't pay, no deal.  Also note that beyond very basic care, most of the items used by medics will be via the Admech one way or another - even an aspirin needs to come out of a manufactorum after all!

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The other thing is, to some extent, basic anatomy and medical science absolutely have to have survived or almost everything they do with cybernetics or surgery is impossible. I know the setting likes to go on and on about humors and bile and the like, but considering they can do amputations better than a civil war era doctor and can generally prevent their patients dying of infection, etc. It's similar to how they like to claim the Admech don't use anesthetic when they cyberize someone. I'm sure to an author that knew nothing about medicine that sounded appropriately grimdark and cool, but in reality that would make the surgery pretty much impossible and probably kill the patient from shock.

 

What I'm saying is, the best way to do it is to have a 40k doctor from an advanced culture know a fair amount about anatomy and other basic medical science by our standards, but as others suggested, be using tools he mostly knows how to use by rote learning. He knows what it means when someone has been poisoned with digitalis or curare and what to do to treat them, but doesn't know how the toxin wand tells him what the patient's suffering or exact mechanisms for the detox drugs. He knows the signs that show you whether it's a fracture or a torn ligament, and probably knows how to use an X-Ray to confirm his diagnosis, and knows that certain stim-paks and other medical supplies will help, but doesn't really know how the crazy future tech in his medkit regenerated tissue and repairs the shattered bone in instants. That kind of thing. Knows his trade, not his tools.

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