Me-can-icus, or Me-can't-icus
10th Jun, 2011

This post is about the Adeptus Mechanicus, their perceived level of technical ability as portrayed in background, and two opposing points of view commonly encountered on 40K forums. In the background of 40K the Adeptus Mechanicus seem to be pig ignorant of the technology they control, while atmospheric of the stetting, it seems at odds with common sense notion of the technical ability needed to maintain high end systems. Such high end systems would need a thorough understanding of how they work in order to repair them. Rote learning, an often used phrase to explain the ignorant building advanced systems, will only get you so far.  I thought I'd chip in my ideas on this whole 'Adeptus Me-can-icus, or Me-can't-icus' debate.

When explaining my views on the Adeptus Mechanicus, I often get the impression that people are trying to pigeon hole my ideas into one or the other. This doesn't work, as I see both arguments as valid and working together - at the same time! It all depends on what level within the cult you are talking about.

At the low level it's defiantly the realm of the 'Me-can't-icus'.
At the high level is defiantly the realm of the 'Me-can-icus'
In the middle it's 'Me-erm-depend-icus'.

It's like our modern era; those who design technology 'can', and those usually putting it together in some sweatshop of a factory 'can't'. Those in between have varying levels of technical expertise.

  • I reckon those in a sweatshop soldering components to a circuit board are very much working in the technology field, but I doubt they could design or build the actual components they are soldering onto the board. They may be up to their eyeballs in technology, but they understand very little. This is pretty much how I imagine the mind set and knowledge level of most of the lower orders, the initiates, who can be collected under the Adeptus Me-can't-icus banner.
  • A sparky (electrician) knows a fair bit about their work, and can wire things up, but they lack detailed knowledge of what they are wiring up. A specialist technician, who knows the insides of the unit, is a step up - but both are kinda in the middle in the grand scheme of things. Some parts they 'can', and some part's they 'can't'. This is how I imagine many of the priests function. They can implement, and install, technologies, repair, replace, and troubleshoot, but they do not understand the inner workings of computer chips (and there's no free internet when they can read up about it). To them a 'chip' is a magic stone. I also imagine that a doctor falls into this category (a nurse would be under the can't banner)
  • Those who design computer chips, understand the complexes of biology, the inner workings of the human mind (well later anyway), the higher academics, have a thorough understanding of their field. I imagine these are the Magos. They understand the STC.

Above that there would be theoretical scientists, the ones who design the science and math everyone else uses. In 40K that probably falls into heresy, and is the preserve of radicals. Academics in a custodial role of knowledge are probably the highest you could go, but they wouldn't actually take part in making anything, more arguing over what is heresy or not, and sanctioning STC.

When I talk about my vision of the Ad-Mec, I am usually thinking in the terms above. A layered organization. An organization that is not really that different to our own, except there is religion involved, which could happen in the future if Apple takes over the world...

In fact Apple is probably a good place to start, though by 40K their design aesthetic seems to have suffered a little. I'm sure Apple would love to implant chips (electrografts) into people's heads that provide all kinds of wi-fi multimedia delights, a virtual wonderland, only to clamp down with draconian hardware control and rights management. I'm sure Microsoft would love to do the same. I'm not sure a Microsoft legacy would get the same level of emotion (devotion rather than irritation) as Apple. Open source might.


PS: the end bit was supposed to be funny, more funny than the rest of it, but after posting it I remembered that fanboi's can take things to heart if you do not make it clear your are messing about. I like Apple. It's a joke. Please do not report me to Mr. Jobs 😛

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11 Responses

Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!

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  1. Matthew Kage says:

    I'd actually forgotten about this post. Is this thing still active?

    • Philip S says:

      I still keep an eye on this blog, and update bits now and again. I've not added anything new in ages (still messing with Sciror) but I have not forgotten it!

  2. Kage2020 says:

    As noted on the Dark Reign site, this basically meshes perfectly with my own interpretation of the 40k universe.  Indeed, to such an extent that I was almost tempted to dig out my notes on the Adeptus Mechanicus conversion that I was doing for GURPS that delved into that organisation from the perspective of "sci-fi" rather than the gonzo fantasy that 40k is heading towards (or always was, but just not in my mind).

    On the other hand, I'm still rocking out on the Earthdawn/Shadowrun conversion for GURPS.  That game setting has a serious case of the awesome when it comes to the magic/technology crossover, something that 40k could do with learning.  (And, to be honest, gels with some of your concepts that you publish on your site.)

    • Philip S says:

      I always say our views are not that divergent. We seem to start at different ends; I emphasize the basic building blocks and corrupt them when working up to the society, you juggle the whole society and work down to all the tech. After a while we meet in the middle 🙂

      I would like to see your notes on the Adeptus Mechanicus, and your Earthdawn/ Shadowrun stuff. Do you have it posted up anywhere?

      • Kage2020 says:

        With regards to the Adeptus Mechanicus materials?  Nah, 'fraid not.  It lies in various states on a flash drive that sits in my pocket and that I haven't looked at in some time.  Suffice to say, though, that I had begun to work on the core "sci-fi" technologies that set them apart from "humans" in the setting.  Lots of borrowing from Shadowrun 4e (and Cybergeneration and the real world now that I think about it) with regards to wireless networks, personal nodes and firewalls, augmented reality, etc.  Mechanicum was a joy to read for that reason (despite the crappy last paragraph that revealed deus es machina on grand scope).  Our discussions about "data shrines" alluded to the concepts of the "Forges" mentioned in that book, etc.  

        I would love to continue to work on this, but I'm still suffering from burnout on the setting.  Hell, I probably will while FFG continues to publish materials for it. 😉  Okay, that might be going a bit too far but it seems that I even have a limit of people telling me that I don't "get" 40k.  There's probably even a dose of hypocrisy right there. 😀

        Feel free to email me with some discussion on the concept.  Wordpress doesn't really beget discussion but it might be intriguing to bounce ideas back and forth.

        As to Shadowrun Apocalypse?  I'm still developing that and would love to have someone to discuss it with but, alas, such individuals are hard to find. 😀

        • Philip S says:

          Quality feedback is kinda tough to get on new projects. I've sent you an email.

          • Kage2020 says:

            Heh, ain't that true.  I haven't checked my Gmail account in months, so guess I'm going to have to fight my way through the Anargo spam. 😀

          • Kage2020 says:

            Signed up to TFM but... wow!  That's a quieter site than Anargo ever used to be. 😉

          • Philip S says:

            Due to the nature of TFM all the action is on the WIP board. The rules and background sections can be quiet. I hope that once some rules systems are up more people will be attracted to discuss the background. At the moment it's all 'prototype', like one massive brainstorming session. There are flurries of activity when someone has an idea they need to discuss, but dies down as there is nothing to plug them into as yet.

            I've set up a thread on the Sciror board to continue this discussion: Techno-religion (Adeptus Mechanicus).

          • Kage2020 says:

            Heh, I'll write if I'm interested on the subject materials at hand.  As noted above, the Adeptus Mechanicus is one of the things that can bring me back into the 40k universe.  Well, that and materials on the Eldar. 😀  Hit me up on a premise.  If I'm not too busy with work or generally procrastinating I'm your man. 😀

          • Malika says:

            I guess it has to do with the fact that there is no official TFM background material yet. I'm trying to work on some, but it is going very slow, and even then, most members are sculptors, not so much background nuts. (no offense meant to the nuts! :P)

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