Navigator Theory
21st Sep, 2019

Being a Navigator is a natural human ability, linked to the latent psionic power of the 'sixth-sense'. This is important to the Machines' Empire plans, as they lack this ability. While a machine can drop a ship into the 'Warp' and move around in the Warp, they cannot see the Warp. The Machines are utterly blind warp-side. This is where humans come into the equation;

  1. A regular human is given a mind-link jack to become a Navigator.
  2. The Navigator is hooked into the machine sensorium network (which hard links to the human mind, not the Warp) to become the ship's Navigator.
  3. The Machine fires up the warp-drive and drops the ship into the Warp.
  4. The Navigator then visualises where they want to go.
  5. The Machines immediately takes the ship out of the Warp.
  6. The ship has travelled to the visualised destination.

We humans cannot see the Warp either! (don't tell the Machines ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Nevertheless, our ability to visualise, to recognise and conceptualise, alters the field of the warp-drive. We can look at the stars and jump thousands of light-years in an instant, then have another look around, and jump again. They can keep doing this until they are billions of light-years away in a matter of minutes. All the places we visit, and remember, we can jump to directly. So on the first run, it could make a 1,000 jumps to get to our destination and end up at a colony site. Once we are familiar with the site, we can jump straight back to Earth in one jump, and then jump back to the colony site in one go.

Not all humans are good at this. Some have better sixth-sense abilities than others. The trait seems to be genetic, but it also seems to be affected by the environment, and different genetics yield the same trait in different environments. This is why the machines build so many different worlds for humans to habitate. [that is not a word! Yet] The machines are trying to find a perfect blend of genetics and environment to yield consistent Navigators โ€” quality control.

Edit: The Machines cannot influence the field of the warp-drive because their minds are made with bio-photonics. They crystalline structures, the part that actually does the thinking, is 'dead'. Therefore the conceptualisation is made with a 'dead' mind, a mind without life has no psionics. The bio-wrapper that builds the crystal structures has no sentient mind, and does not do the thinking of the Artilects.

Edit: An Artliects mind cannot influence the field of the warp-drive because their minds are made with bio-photonics. The crystalline structures, the part that actually does the thinking, is 'dead'. Therefore the conceptualisation is made with a 'dead' mind; a mind without life has no psionics. It's the psionic part of the conceptualisation that makes it work. The bio-wrapper that builds the crystal structures has no conscious mind and plays no part in the thinking of the Artilects. While the bio-warpper has a psionic imprint, it is 'mindless' and full of hunger and rage. As a result, the Machines cannot be Navigators.

On a broader meta sense, the consciousness of an Artilect may have a limited psionic imprint, drowned out by the bio-wrapper. The issue for the Artilects when designing ships and working out efficiency, is that Artilects are the size of worlds while humans are tiny in comparison. Humans are a much better fit to navigate ships.

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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:

    This is almost like what I like to think (kid myself into thinking?) was what was going on with the original Navigators from the good 'ole days of WD139/140. Heck, even harking back to Watson's original description of Vitali Googol. Of course, there the idea is that the organic brain gives insight beyond where the inorganic can go, which I guess gets into the weird area of 40k anyway. (And one of the reasons that, in "Kage-verse" machines could see certain bits of the warp but not others.)

  2. Malika says:

    I would imagine that womb-vault technology might be something post-Supremacy. So when Jove's forces set out to conquer the galaxy, we could have other factions with similar ambitions. One of these factions might be using a lot more biotech, basically growing their armour and equipment. Maybe their ships are also giant organisms, their Navigators locked up in womb-vaults. The ship could of course be an organical copy of the old machine tech, but due to psionics have become an organism. Just like how the Machines could carry the building blocks of building humans, this organic ship could have something similar, thereby justifying the womb-vault that can grow humans.

    • Philip S says:

      Anything is possible with a Psidemic. It's a chance to let the imagination run riot! I wrote off the womb-vault at first as it did not fit the narrative. However, your comment sparked a train of thought: post-Psidemic it would be possible if we factor in memory-writing tech and VR. So we could go full Matrix.

      A mutated foetus breed for spatial awareness (and ties into AI Spatialโ€“temporal reasoning), is grown and maintained in an artificial womb (prototypes), and their memory of life is written into their minds, and a VR simulation hooked up to their sensory inputs, or sensors from the ship acting as their sensors (ties to other sci-fi, for inspiration). Such a being is vulnerable and precious, so the artificial-womb becomes a womb-vault.

      This all seems blatantly obvious high-tech at first, but it's a corruption and less advanced than the Supremacy era systems. In a Supremacy era system, a human puts on a hat, thinks about where they wish to go, and then the ship is there. It is also as quick as I explained it. I imagine womb-vault navigators less accomplished, and post-Psidemic they only have to run around a single galaxy, rather than the entire universe! ๐Ÿ˜›

      One benefit of a womb-vault Navigator is that they are what they are. They did not choose to be a Navigator. Most humans do not like taking responsibility for thousands of adults, so who would really want to be a Navigator? It sounds great at first, and high status, but with a thought, thousands on a ship are in your hands. Get distracted, and everyone is dead, including yourself. That is a lot of responsibility!

  3. Malika says:

    Hey, you've added artwork! Very important, because a picture can often say more than a thousand words. Also, it gives you the feel of the setting. Whilst many were lured into 40k by its ideas and sandbox approach, at the end of the day it's the weird grimdark aesthetic that attracts most of us into the hobby. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Philip S says:

      It was a doodle. While I was thinking about how the Navigator functions. At first I thought the Navigators where in a womb-vault, like a mutated (but 'adult') embryo, but after writing out the jump process, that didn't seem to fit. Even if I like the image. Instead, a simple brain scanner/ sensor array would do the trick. I thought of a VR headset, but that is not really needed either. After all, to a human: navigating is easy.

      • Malika says:

        By the way, look up Karan S'jet from Homeworld to perhaps get an idea of what a Navigator could look like. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Philip S says:

          That's a good look. It's a little too technical for what I'm looking for, with Supremacy tech everything is hidden away. Even my sketch is more a 'prototype' link-up. I imagine a proper Supremacy era navigator to wear a crown or high-hat, that ties into social status, kinda like this image of Q for Star Trek?

          • malika says:

            Ha, so what used to be designs picked because of budget reasons (it explains those hilariously hideous old Star Trek sets and certain costume designs) are actually signs of technological advancement! ๐Ÿ˜›

          • Philip says:

            Yep. It's the same argument I used for the Ad-Mec, and more of those arguments can be ported over to Star Trek, and Sciror alike. For example, the GUI for computer technology in the original Star Trek seems very basic. Nevertheless, this may be a failure of our modern perceptions. With modern cloud technology, we see a move to automation and voice commands, and that could be taken to the extreme in Star Trek. Facebook, and such, are already predicting our behaviours, so let's run with that. Perhaps the panels display content asked for, with content cached before we even ask for it, whereas input commands are less about picking the correct command in a GUI program and more authorisations for computer-generated commands?

            In later versions of Star Trek, the GUI seems to be more complex, but this may be down to more human oversight, and authorisations needed, to box in the AI. It may be less advanced!

            We could add on another layer and implant the crew with VR overlays, which would make interacting or hacking a Star Trek system very difficult without an implant. Though that would mean all interface system would be simpler, heading back to the original series, or remove the GUI altogether.

            In Sciror, with implant tech, people wave their hands in the air. Literal 'hand-waving' ๐Ÿ˜› These gestures are physical confirmations to focus elements in their internal VR systems.

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