Monday, April 28, 2014

Technology in Warhammer 40,000. 5: Skinplants

Tattoos appear as common ornamentation across many world of the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000. They're not limited to the Hive City "scum" population either: the higher residents use them as a means of identification, great houses have their sigils, and navigators families are likewise marked out.

But there is more to it than that. What would happen if technology was miniaturised further, such that small circuitry were implanted in the skin (i.e. "Skinplants" as per the title of today's post)?

In Warhammer 40,000 skin plants are common, but highly sophisticated. Without moving parts, they are limited in their use however. The most common use would be to have a part of the body glow when exposed to sunlight. But a better use would be a "palm light" or "thieves light". Essentially, the character opens up his or her palm and casts a small beam of light ahead of themselves. Its not very powerful, but has its uses.

Electoos are the second type of skin plant discussed in Rogue Trader. These are a bit more sophisticated than mere ornamentation or "make it glow" skin plants. In essence these are miniature circuits. Therefore they would have uses the same as a modern credit card. But there's more uses. They range from identification and clearance levels (for entering secure buildings), tracking individuals (with or without their consent) and the carrying of secret messages (even the splitting of secret messages between 3 individuals such that only when combined the message reveals itself). This is getting in to the realm of science fiction, but is nonetheless plausible still.

Finally electrografts push this idea to its logical extreme. Need to learn a foreign language and you're not psychic? How about having an electrograft implanted right on to the surface of the brain! No need to spend hideous hours revising notes or practising. All the information you need to speak the native language of Nurth (or elsewhere…) is right there for you to use. Or perhaps you just want a different personality implanted for immortality reasons on a new fit body.  Its a little "Total Recall" in essence and certainly firmly in the planes of science fiction right now. Rogue Trader curiously states that these things will eventually cause the degeneration of the host's mind including personality disorders and outright breakdown. The interesting aspect is that these electrografts can also be reprogrammed. You learnt the language of Nurth? How about Chogoris and Colchis today?

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