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40K Fluff - Psyker Breeding?

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Here's one of those dumb questions I sometimes wonder why I ask, but in the Imperium, are people identified as psykers permitted to breed? It's an inescapable fact that the Imperium needs psykers to function, at least at certain levels, but we're talking about some of the most hated, detested, and mistrusted beings that are part of Humanity; who would step up? On some level, psykerdom is genetic, and it can't always be a surprise fluke, but I don't know if, among their own populations, psykers get together to keep the gene strong, so that when the Imperium temporarily puts asie their hate, in order to use that weapon, or send that long-range message, they've got someone strong enough to manage. This doesn't take into account Inquisitors with the trait, of course; they can do who...er, whatever they want, for the most part. So, opinions? Would they be allowed? Encouraged? Restricted? Sterilized? (Stop the flow of mutation)

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In my interpretation the existence of psykers is a necessary evil. They exist, most of them will die, some of them will be needed. You accept their existence but you wont promote it any further. Also the imperial agenda is about limiting their power. Those that are to mighty will be destroyed (If at all possible to do so).

 

We know that the imperium works fine with the randomly appearing psykers, the proof for that is the always the black ships are the source of most psykers. Also a pure-breeding psyker project could lead to some serious problems for you might create individuals that enslave entire worlds etc. At the end this is quite to dangerous to allow it happen.

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My perspective: psykers are mutants, and reviled as such. A necessary evil to be condoned for exactly as long as they are useful. As such, I just don't see them breeding - the average psyker is kept in isolation and under guard; outside the choirs with their monastic lifestyle, they would not socialise with other psykers nor ordinary humans. That's not to say "it" never happens, but I would almost expect it to be forbidden and punishable in some way if found out.

 

In contrast, there are the Navigators - also psykers, of a fashion, but since they do not occur randomly but are the result of specialised genetic tampering, they'd literally die out if not permitted to breed with themselves, so they are a special exception. In fact, so special that Navigators would only breed with other Navigators, as any other offspring would lack the Navigator gene.

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This might not be very reflected in the rules, but most psykers are quite low level. They might be good at cards, have profetic dreams or something similar. The imperium would like to control and purge all psykers, but detecting and assembling the weak ones is not really possible on a large scale.

Most of the detected psykers are destined for the astropatica, ie. as astropaths. These are subjected to the soul binding, which destroyes their eyesight and most other senses. I would be surprised if they would still be able to breed afterwards.

The ones send to the choirs, well, all except a few very strong ones, will burn out in months or years. I do not expect such soul destroying work will leave much time for breeding or parenting.

The very few psykers who are capable of controlling their power, but are not sent to one of the two above institutions are so few as to be negligible.

 

Further, in DH1 we saw a table of side effect of sanctioning, which had sterility as only one of the possible outcomes.

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While I would not put the life expectancy of psykers quite as low as Tenebrae once they're not fed to the throne (I have never heard of Astropaths routinely burning out within months), I don't see them routinely being allowed to breed. As FieserMoep noted, the Imperium seems to work fine (*) with the psykers that pop up naturally.

Both Polypsykana radical Inquisitors and certain heretical cults have very different ideas, of course.

 

 

(*) for a value of fine that is not fine at all, but probably wouldn't be any better with more psykers.

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The Emperor is said to have descendants: http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Sensei#.Uval-mJ_uSo

 

My personal point of view is this. But this is my opinion and in no way backed up by anything I have ever read:

 

Those psykers who don't get sizzled to feed the Emperor or shriveled to power the Astronomicon become Sanctioned Psykers. My belief is that part of the Sanctioning involves sterilization. So I would say that I (and I could be wrong) don't think Sanctioned Psykers can breed.

 

However....

 

I also believe that Rogue Psykers are capable of doing the deed and spawning the breed.

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I would not be surprised if sterilization is a common part of the sanctioning.

In the RPGs it is portrayed as a side effect with a percentile chance but in my interpretation it happens more often than not.

The imperium spends years to train a psyker including some fail-safe protocols like the psycana blade. To sterilize them would just be a minor, and more important, reasonable addition..

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We're also delving into whether or not this RPG should be taken as gospel concerning such things. In the end, this is all about an exchange of opinions, and we will all have to find our own answer from everything that will be suggested in this thread, as the official sources frequently contradict each other on this level of detail, and beyond this encourage simply making stuff up yourself.

 

It could be that sterilisation generally isn't considered a necessity because the psyker ends up being watched almost 24/7 anyways, just like it could be that the Imperium going the safe route (reminds me of those certain Space Marine threads). Or, for a less grimdark take on the setting, it could be that the IoM isn't as bad as many sources claim and psykers are granted much more freedom than we tend to take away from most books. *shrug*

 

They might be good at cards ...

 

You just had to go there and remind me of this ...

 

Suffer_not_the_dirty_cheat_by_Mr_Culexus

 

:D

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We're also delving into whether or not this RPG should be taken as gospel concerning such things. In the end, this is all about an exchange of opinions, and we will all have to find our own answer from everything that will be suggested in this thread, as the official sources frequently contradict each other on this level of detail, and beyond this encourage simply making stuff up yourself.

 

It could be that sterilisation generally isn't considered a necessity because the psyker ends up being watched almost 24/7 anyways, just like it could be that the Imperium going the safe route (reminds me of those certain Space Marine threads). Or, for a less grimdark take on the setting, it could be that the IoM isn't as bad as many sources claim and psykers are granted much more freedom than we tend to take away from most books. *shrug*

 

They might be good at cards ...

 

You just had to go there and remind me of this ...

 

<snip picture>

...notice where the inquisitor is looking ;)

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We're also delving into whether or not this RPG should be taken as gospel concerning such things. In the end, this is all about an exchange of opinions, and we will all have to find our own answer from everything that will be suggested in this thread, as the official sources frequently contradict each other on this level of detail, and beyond this encourage simply making stuff up yourself.

 

It could be that sterilisation generally isn't considered a necessity because the psyker ends up being watched almost 24/7 anyways, just like it could be that the Imperium going the safe route (reminds me of those certain Space Marine threads). Or, for a less grimdark take on the setting, it could be that the IoM isn't as bad as many sources claim and psykers are granted much more freedom than we tend to take away from most books. *shrug*

 

Exactly!

 

All we have are opinions based on what we think seems sensible considering the setting. From what I know of the 40K setting it seems everyone is far too busy with the everyday monotony of serving the Imperium that nobody has time (or the stamina) left for other pursuits. They're fortunate to get a few hours sleep before their next shift. Only the wealthy who are above any form of work or military service can enjoy themselves.

 

Frankly, if the Warhammer 40,000 background is to be taken on face value, humanity should have become extinct long before the 41st Millennium.

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While it would fit the setting for the Imperium to prohibit psyker breeding, I don't quite believe they go ostentiously out of their way to ensure they can't. I do think the reason most psykers don't breed is due to the nature of their service: Astropaths are dolled out across the Imperium, save for the select few who maintain their schools of study on Terra. Most are to join small choirs or act as solitary individuals. Other Sanciton Psykers, most often in the Imperial Guard, will be in battle regiments most often composed of a singular gender. The nature of constant combat and lack of distinctively opposing gendered squadmates would simply bereft them the opportunity.

 

Add in natural stigma and hate, most Psyker's love lives will be left wanting. That's without getting into the issue of sterility caused by the soul binding of the Astropaths.  The big prevention I see from Psykers actively having children is a profound fear of a parent having to face sending their own to the black ships. This sort of fear would be very real and palpable sense of demotivation towards having children. Consider certain countries where breeding laws exist in the real world.

 

I'd imagine most Imperial Psykers who do have children either don't make a great attempt at sticking around (Imperial Guard who got lucky on x world?), have to face surrendering their children to the black ships for scrutiny, never to see them again, or risk seccession from service to protect their progeny (which could be a very good hook for a dark heresy campaign). 

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As psykers are a (relatively stable) genetic mutation it is reasonble to assume it ca be passed directly to progeny from parents also being that almost everyone is a psyker to minute extent any question of genetic reessiveness or dominance isn`t a big issue.

 

The real question is do you really want to psykers, beings who constantly live with a boiling pool of insane anti-reality in the back of their skull losing focus, because lets face it coitus is rather distracting.

 

More imortantly do you dare risk letting them have carnal pleasure, the doorway to the realm of Slaanesh?

 

We all know what happens when psykers start getting randy and emotional, the eldar do, Abaddon lives there.

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As far as I've understood the fluff Imperium is rather divided on their opinion on psykers.

 

I bet that, for example, some inquisitors believe that every single psyker must be eliminated for the safety of humanity. (There was some white dwarf example about an inquisitor who had gone so far in his hatred of psykers that he believed that the Emperor, being the most powerful human psyker, must also be killed.)

 

On the other hand, there probably are also other inquisitors who would set up secret breeding programs for psykers as they believe them to be the next step in the human evolution. (Any demonic possession of the weaker willed could be seen as natural selection and an acceptable risk when considering the power that the psykers represent.)

 

The one position of the inquisition that I remember being mentioned in a Shira Calpurnica book was some branch that believed that psykers cannot be trusted and wished to lobotomize all psykers to make them less likely of being corrupted or going rogue. Apparently a lobotomized psyker was still able to serve as an astropath (which even that group believed to be an important task. As they are needed for interstellar communications.) although they were really really weak compared to normal astropath.

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For the most part, the Imperium of Man teaches its citizens to beware and hate the mutant. It's a survival mechanism for the greater organism, and there's no more dangerous a mutant than a psyker. 

 

They are more numerous in areas that are closer to warp anomalies. I'd imagine Cadia would have a large number of psykers amongst its population compared to somewhere mundane and less Eye of Terror-y.

 

But would someone breed them? Generations and generations of them? Sure. Absolutely. There are vast stretches of the galaxy that are only "Imperial" on a map. Places like the Koronus Expanse have so many, many warp storms and other anomalies that you can find perfectly situated worlds to breed psykers over several generations.

 

This wouldn't be supported in the least bit by the Imperium who would rightly view the loss of billions of soldiers to kill a planet's worth of psykers a fair and decent trade. Each one can be the gateway for a daemon to enter from the warp, or lead entire sectors astray. A whole colony? My God-Emperor, nuke that planet, its moon, its sun, and all the neighbouring systems just to be sure!

 

That kind of power would be astonishing in anyone's hands. Space Marine Chapters are allowed to recruit psykers from their homeworlds and draft them into their Librariums (should they survive). Inquisitors are given leave to do this should they wish to. Rogue Traders tread carefully but might not turn down a rogue psyker or navigator away.

 

But I can see the possibilities. There are many rogue psykers out there, and many more disaffected sanctioned psykers as well. Look for a sustainable planet, isolated, accessible via hard to find warp routes. Recruit psykers to train more psykers of the next generation... though without sanctioning this may prove very difficult. Hell, establish multiple colonies around warp phenomena and see which colonies yield more psykers per generation.

Psykers on their own probably wouldn't do this. Sanctioned Psykers are probably sterilized. But I can see some mad High Lord/Inquisitor/Rogue Trader doing this. 

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I want to add that the Night Lords space marines, pre-heresy, were sent to suppress a world for refusing to participate in the Emporer's psy-breeding program. So at the very least, 10,000 years ago the Big E was actively creating psyker breeding programs.

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I want to add that the Night Lords space marines, pre-heresy, were sent to suppress a world for refusing to participate in the Emporer's psy-breeding program. So at the very least, 10,000 years ago the Big E was actively creating psyker breeding programs.

That was that times when Big E destroyed every religion but Machine Cult and punished his Primarch for the Imperial Credo prozelitism?

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That was that times when Big E destroyed every religion but Machine Cult and punished his Primarch for the Imperial Credo prozelitism?

 

Of note, Black Library's Horus Heresy novels are contradicted by GW's Index Astartes / White Dwarf articles in this detail.

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To be honest I take ANY 30K novels as... well, some kind of legends. Something about "Iliad" or "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" - there is something true there, but it's definitly full of legends and apocrypha. For me something should be named as "history" of W40 starts somewhere near 34K, from Reign of Blood. 

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Well, somehow, despite the fact that the Black Ships take as many of the Psykers as they can find, more are always popping up. Maybe psykers don't work quite the same way as navigators, and it's more a combination of genes and random luck.

 

From what I can tell, the whole issue of reproduction seems to be pretty absent from 40k fluff, and I think that's intentional - and a good thing.  

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I'm relatively certain that the psyker mutation is a much more "oops, how did that get in here?" mutation, as often caused by weird exposures to exotic energies, as it is people breeding for it, wherein the Navigator gene seems to have been engineered artificially, and intentionally, in the form of a recessive mutation, requiring two Navigator parents to  propagate it into the future.

 

As for sidestepping sex, yeah, I'm inclined to agree, both from the aspect of betting most of the writers didn't want the cushy job of describing industrial sex/breeding centers, for people, the way we might do with livestock, now, or the AdMech assemble tanks, for a more grimdark feel, and that they knew maybe the fanbase didn't really want to read it, either. Much of the stuff is left vague, "so you can put your own stamp on how it's done", and all that; this topic can probably fall in there, too. How does reproduction work? However it best does for you.

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Personally, I think the psyker gene is part of natural human evolution - an idea first sparked by the 5E TT rulebook having a section explaining psychic phenomena titled "A Deadly Evolution". It is part of the largely dormant genetic package the human species carries with it, and in the age of the Imperium, it is blossoming.
 
At the same time, it would be absolutely possible to have specific environments affect the likelihood of the psyker gene manifesting itself, explaining why some planets might see more or fewer "witches" than usual. Primarily, I'm thinking proximity to the Warp, meaning how thick the barrier between Immaterium and Realspace is, but more traditional influences such as radiation, chemicals or even a virus could be possible triggers, too.
 
The navigator gene, meanwhile, seems to have been the result of genetic experimentation, possibly a mutated form of the psyker gene where scientists sought to influence how exactly it manifests. At least judging by the hints provided in GW's Inquisitor game.
 
... in the end, part of why I like this theory is that it fits so well with the Grimdark theme of the setting, in that the Imperium is brutally suppressing what is actually just humanity's next natural stage of evolution, and quite possibly what could have saved the species. A bit like with the X-Men I guess, except that in 40k the government has won. ;)
 

To be honest I take ANY 30K novels as... well, some kind of legends.

 

Pretty much how Black Library's chief editor described all novels when asked about background contradictions. ;)

 

and that they knew maybe the fanbase didn't really want to read it, either

 

Given the excessive amount of Rule 34 created for this IP, I have a feeling that there would be sizable part of the fanbase who might actually enjoy this. I'm just hoping that this is but a very visible minority. :P

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Just noticed something very relevant: "The [Polypsykana] faction believes that this transformation of humanity is inevitable and ultimately humanity’s only salvation. To this end, members work to protect and nurture psykers and increase the role they play within the sector. In addition, they work in secret on psy-tech, psy-breeding and other, more questionable, activities, all intended to spread what they see as the psy-gene to as much of humanity as possible."

- Disciples of the Dark Gods, page 182

 

So yes, psyker breeding is a thing. I'm guessing that it's done in ways closer to those of the Ordo Famulous than those of Honsou's Daemonculaba, but still...

And why wouldn't it be? It's not like the Imperium let anything like "morals" or "ethics" get in the way of what could be argued to be useful - and thanks the Kriegers we know that they certainly have the technology for it!

And seing how dumb the Imperium can be, they probably breed psykers that are too unstable to use oftherwise (so as not to waste the rare stable enough and powerful ones) - and then act all surprised that almost all of their psukers produced are unstable :)

I can totally imagine a psyker-breeding program or facility be the crux of an Inquisitorial operation, with Monodominants wishing to destroy it and Polypsykana disciples wishing to protect it. It'd be a great missions! Just discovering it could be an adventure in and of itself, seeing how Psykers are generally ostracised anyway and seeing how hard it is to see into Inquisitorial Operations

Edited by Talon of Anathrax
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And why wouldn't it be? It's not like the Imperium let anything like "morals" or "ethics" get in the way of what could be argued to be useful

 

Well, that depends on how you define your ethics! The Polypsykana are very much an exception to the rule in that they'd essentially consider psykers "blessed" -- for most in the Imperium, it would be quite unethical to deliberately spread the "psyker curse". ;)

 

But it's a good example, still. Just about anything goes, and when some Imperial factions are even experimenting on Chaos artefacts and daemons, then surely others could experiment with deliberately creating more psykers!

 

Your suggestion for missions also reminds me of the Virenus Gambit ... granted, that wasn't about psykers, but it's pretty much the same direction.

Edited by Lynata
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Or one inquisitor trying to breed psykers and another trying to breed pariahs... In the same city! :)

 

Or create a psyker so powerfull it can establish a mindlink with the Emperor allowing the big E to walk the galaxy again, clad in the form of that psyker (the only one capable of holding the emperors mind)

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