Thursday, April 24, 2014

Technology in Warhammer 40,000. 1: Transmission Systems

Rogue Trader edition Warhammer 40,000 is at pains to not describe any technology in too much detail. This is largely because in the grim dark of the far flung future, problems are solved through brute force rather than application of knowledge. Technology has almost a religious following (particularly by the adepts of Mars who guard what little understanding there is left) -- space marines believe that if the polish and take care of their armour, it will "reward" them with saving their lives, whereas the machine spirit inside it will purposely leak fuels (etc.) if it is not regularly attended to.

In this (short) series of articles on Warpstone Flux, I'm going to summarise a few of the different technologies presented in the original Rogue Trader source book and add a few thoughts of my own (you know I'm a professional scientist, right?).

Let's start with the picture, taken from page 271 of the book. What is interesting about this picture of the pair of space marines is the archaic armour and weapons. Note in particular the watch faces that are embedded in to the chainswords. If you're looking for an original conversion concept, then watches in chainswords would certainly take you a long way down that road! Apart from that, the grandeur of the far future's grim dark is clearly on display here with the vast starships and buildings of a planet in action.

But on to today's prime focus: transmission systems. Or to put it another way: how to get energy from one place to another. In today's world this is largely accomplished through electricity and the wires that transmit is. These are fairly standard, but in 40k, they are probably the technological equivalent of using stone circles to tell the time. That said, Rogue Trader certainly says the many human (and xenos I would assume as well) cultures still employ them.

Beyond this everyday example, there is the "stacks" -- atomic chains that can efficiently transmit electricity. To me, this sounds like a superconductor in everything but name, but it is described as the ultimate in miniaturisation but rather delicate too.

Photon lines are the natural extension of fibre optics, designed (and described) to take a heap of information down their lines.

Hydroplastics are an odd one to me, transmitting power through pressure (presumably compression and rarefaction). This one is a bit of a mystery to me, but in principle I can see how it works.

Phased crystals are described as transmitting signals, but requiring power to do so. Odd, but not entirely unplausible given sufficient technological evolution.

Sucrosol is described as based on sucrose (the sugar) and able to transmit in a "wet ware" kind of fashion.

And then there are good old fashions radio waves. Enough said!

Next time: Generation Systems!


Marshal Argos said...

I think those "Clocks" are supposed to be more along the lines of RPM gauges.

Knight of Infinite Resignation said...

an interesting idea for a series, looking forward to more!

jabberjabber said...

Marshal: could be right! I honestly didn't think of that! Was more thinking of the marines synchronising… lol!

Knight: more coming...

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