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View Full Version : Pantient Engines: How, Why, and a few other Qs.



RedStompa
31-12-2007, 14:24
I just recently learned what a pentient engine was (There in Soulstorm, and I didn't know, so I had a W40k friend get info for me)

and I have a few questions:

for one: Why would you interr a Heritic?
It seems that this would be exceedingly unreliable, and if the heritic worshiped said non-imperial race were to fight them again, what would happen? Would he simply turn against the =I= again?

Why not just have more devout followers that would regard being a penient engine as an honor?

Also: How would a pentient engine be expected to live more then two seconds into a battle fluff wise? I mean THE ******* PILOT IS ON THE FRONT OF IT!, unless of course the body is just for ornamentation, and the heritic's soul/mind/brain/conciousness is really inside the machine?

or do they use energy shielding?

Whats really confusing me is how they pick supposedly REALLY bad heritics and get them interred? If a hertic is so bad that arco-flagellation is not enough how does the =I=
turn said heritic into sobbing apologizing person?

Torture? being really mean? threats?

this just dosen't mkae sence to me, because the first thing I would do when if I was interred would be to start slaughtering =I= troops as soon as I could.

Unless theirs a wierd psyker 'bomb' thing so that if said heritic made one false move his soul sould be ripped apart and fed to the warp. That would put a slight dint in my plan.

Bregalad
31-12-2007, 14:52
Pantient? Pentient? Penient?
My guess is that you are trying to talking about the Witch Hunter's Penitent Engine. It would help to write the word correctly at least once.

CELS
31-12-2007, 15:13
Bregalad, you're not mkaeing sence to me.

That said, the answer to this thread is 'because it looks cool'. It's only recently in military history that people have stopped worrying about what looks cool. Oh, and it would seem likely that penitent engines work in a similar way as archo-flagellants. In other words, they're so pumped up with drugs and have undergone such harsh hypno-therapy, brain surgery and psycho-indoctrination that their original identity is completely gone, together with any thoughts of gettign back at the Inquisitor who put them in this state in the first place. As to how the actualy hypno-therapy teaches them who to kill and who not to kill, that's as much a mystery as how Space Marines are given artificial memories from ancient machines. It just works. At least, it usually works :)

WallyTWest
31-12-2007, 15:46
The Merriam-Webster Entry.

Main Entry: penitent
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1 : a person who repents of sin
2 : a person under church censure but admitted to penance or reconciliation especially under the direction of a confessor

(This is a good answer, not a great one)

My understanding is the pilots are guys who have repented for their sins and seek to redeem themselves with their deaths. I’m guessing that they use a (primitive/more painful/simpler) version of the Neural Links found in titans.

As for the mortality of the pilot… I’m guessing that 95% of these guys are killed by small arms fire; they just take a while to bleed out and finally die. Occasionally I guess the guy is ripped in two by Heavy Bolter fire or Frag Grenade. Crew stunned might even equate him getting a leg ripped off.

The machine hypothetically (if like a titan) is using him to do the processing required to keep the thing running and make simple choices like where to and not to shoot. The amount of control the machine and the heretic have could vary moment to moment. He would be its “logic engine”. (Might torture its occupant when they disagree, im guessing it is a fate worse than death to survive a campaign and be hooked up for years to the thing.)

As for the “Heretic” part... I don’t think anyone who could potentially go rogue, overpower the machine and attack fellow inquisitorial troops would be allowed in the pilots "seat". We are talking a universe where a late library book gets you inducted into the Imperial Guard/ Penal Legions. (Yes, a RT reference.)

The pilots could fall into several categories. Weak willed cultists who have been brain washed, somebody who spit on a priest or someone who has done something unthinkable (like using the emperors name in vain! in front of a priest). Potentially it could be crewed by volunteers or cult members. The diffrence between 50 hail marys and being tied up in this thing would depend on your local priest/planet.

The Basics – its painful to get hooked up, its painful to pilot, its un-likely you will live. Any way you cut it you are sorry.

Icarus
31-12-2007, 16:51
The clue is in the name. Penitent engines are for those who have repented their sins and wish to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Emperor. Whether they have genuinely repented or been tortured, broken or indoctrinated is immaterial. These guys know they have done wrong, they need to be redeemed. They want to die fighting the enemies of the Imperium. So they won't turn on their own side or anything, they will charge headlong into the ranks of the enemy, determined to kill as many of them as they can before they die.

As for how practical it is, I imagine they can be dealt with fairly easily by the enemy, but they are probably all drugged up and psychotic by the time the reach the enemy lines, and the actual pilot can probably take a lot of bullets before he actually dies. I imagine that tactically they would make good shock troops. Imagine a dozen of those things rampaging towards your lines - sure to cause some panic!

RedStompa
02-01-2008, 06:17
So, the main role of the pentient engines is shock and awe?
My main question I quess, is why the Inquisition would bother spending so much money and resources on a single unit that would probably get ripped apart in moments, if that particular Inquisitorial army fought something like a CSM strike force.

Last time I checked, CSM's were still pretty good shots right? Bolter rounds can blast people into little bits very quickly too.

Why not have all these repantant heritics simply function as a meat shield then and spare the machine spirit/cost of losing one of these machines very quickly?

Eulenspiegel
02-01-2008, 07:56
They´re one of those things that don´t make sense if you think about it closely, but fit the 40K feel and look rather well.
The solution is not to think about it too much, it´ll spoil the fun ;)

Icarus
02-01-2008, 17:29
So, the main role of the pentient engines is shock and awe?
My main question I quess, is why the Inquisition would bother spending so much money and resources on a single unit that would probably get ripped apart in moments, if that particular Inquisitorial army fought something like a CSM strike force.

Last time I checked, CSM's were still pretty good shots right? Bolter rounds can blast people into little bits very quickly too.

Why not have all these repantant heritics simply function as a meat shield then and spare the machine spirit/cost of losing one of these machines very quickly?

Not everyone they would be used against would be a CSM strike force - in fact as you point out that would be a very bad idea. But imagine their use against an army of cultist or traitor Guard and they suddenly have a lot more potential. You could waste a lot of your own well-trained men killing them or you could just send a handful of captured-heretics-in-killing-machines at them, chop everyone up and then your own guys can clear up the mess with very little fuss or casualties.

Nazguire
03-01-2008, 00:14
Not everyone they would be used against would be a CSM strike force - in fact as you point out that would be a very bad idea. But imagine their use against an army of cultist or traitor Guard and they suddenly have a lot more potential. You could waste a lot of your own well-trained men killing them or you could just send a handful of captured-heretics-in-killing-machines at them, chop everyone up and then your own guys can clear up the mess with very little fuss or casualties.

I think his point is that against any well trained enemy, a few aimed rifle rounds (or bolter rounds if they are facing Space Marines) would knock them out of action. They have such a large vulnerable area that unless you sorta parachuted them in all stealthy like, you won't get anywhere close with them to start ripping people up.

Of course against someone like Orks (who only shoot because it makes loud bangs and looks good) or blood mad cultists (who are so far past the point of sanity it wouldn't make a bit of difference if they had ranged weapons or not) they may be alright if they were thrown in with a bit of ranged support.

Sebastian Thor
03-01-2008, 00:31
The key is in the hoods the 'pilots' wear. 24/7 they are flooded with images of saints and wonderful things. Everyone is happy and the world is an amazing place. I'd imagine it works a lot like in A Clockwork Orange but in reverse.

Then, when they are needed in battle, the images are turned off. The saints and the good and the light is gone. This sends the (by now very much insane) prisoner into an unstoppable rage and they are pointed in the general direction of the enemy. They are also pumped with drugs and chemicals that enhance aggression, stammina, physical strength and violent tendencies to body destroying ammounts. As far as control is concerned, I'd imagine their nervous system has been (excruciatingly) 'plugged' into the machine, resulting in that when the penitent soul wills its arm to move, the mechanical being does instead. This means that as long as the brain survives, the machine will keep going on its unstopable killing rage.

It's not science fiction, that sort of thing, infact the enitre concept as a whole; hypnotherapy, drugs and prosthetic combat suit combined to create a crack death-squad is entirely possible with today's technology.

The_Patriot
03-01-2008, 01:19
So, the main role of the pentient engines is shock and awe?
My main question I quess, is why the Inquisition would bother spending so much money and resources on a single unit that would probably get ripped apart in moments, if that particular Inquisitorial army fought something like a CSM strike force.

Last time I checked, CSM's were still pretty good shots right? Bolter rounds can blast people into little bits very quickly too.

Why not have all these repantant heritics simply function as a meat shield then and spare the machine spirit/cost of losing one of these machines very quickly?

The Inquisition doesn't own the Penitent Engines. They're wholly owned by the Church just like Arco's are. As for the why, well they need to be redeemed and only in death does redemption come. Their lives do not matter for the penitent's life has been forfeit since they were found guilty of heresy. If they die so a more faithful unit lives it is for the best.

Vaulkhar
03-01-2008, 01:25
It should also be noted that internment into a Penitent Engine is what happens when a heretic has done something so bad that Arco-flagellation is seen by the Church as letting him off too lightly...

Khaine's Messenger
03-01-2008, 02:25
How would a pentient engine be expected to live more then two seconds into a battle fluff wise?

It's not. Almost none of the witch-hunters stuff is, in my opinion, save the Sisters or Inquisitorial Storm Troopers (or Arbites), and neither of them are really useful in the same way trained squads of Guardsmen or Space Marines are in the same environment. And that's what cheeses off almost every Imperial commander who has to work with the Sisters of Battle or the Ecclesiarchy. It's an honor to be sure, and if they form a turning point in the battle that's awesome, but....

Commander Dante
03-01-2008, 04:21
It imagine it works similar to the Dark Eldar talos in that it is powered by tortuting the pilot.

chromedog
03-01-2008, 04:39
Since the 'pilot' is a penitent, he is no longer a heretic. He wishes forgiveness, and that kind of forgiveness comes through physical pain and the ultimate sacrifice. There are enough religious examples of this mindset throughout human history already. What's not to understand.

It's a punishment. The device is meant to keep the penitent alive long enough to achieve a purpose (purification of the soul), not to keep him alive forever.


Death to the fanatics!

Hideous Loon
03-01-2008, 09:21
Aye, a punishment. But also a way of making penitents useful by making them do horrible things to the opposing army. The venerable Sebastian Thor makes a good point. If we compare the Penitent Engines to Arco-Flagellants, who resemble them in many ways, the hoods that they wear make life seem wonderful when not in battle (I have a theory that it makes them docile, harmless, unable to hurt anyone). In battle, like Mr. Thor said, these images, pumped directly into their brains, are turned off, making life a living hell, filled with battle, blood, and most importantly, pain. Oodles of it. This (according to Lexicanum) makes the pilots violent, heedless of their injuries, and slightly mad.

What was I talking about? Ah yes. the main reason for the Hereticus to keep the pilots of the Penitent Engines at the front, protected by STC 117:46-3 Cotton Loincloth, is that, like chromedog said, it is first and foremost a punishment. And if they can eviscerate a few enemy soldiers while being punished, all the better.

Sandlemad
03-01-2008, 10:54
In the WH designer notes, I think Andy Hoare made mention of wanting some sort of golem type thing, in the sense of the original folk tale. That is to say, something inert most of the time and summoned when going to war.

Basically, I'd see these penitent engines as having a pretty important non-military role too. They'd stand outside the cathedral (probably only the most important ones, mind), maybe one to each side of the door, and act as a warning of the emperor's justice and a reassurance of the emperor's mercy. As citizens pass through to attend service, they see these half dead, yet partially redeemed heretics attached to a metallic monster.
The effect would be pretty impressive, a combination of fear and joy and all sorts of wonderful imperial double-think. I'm not comparing them to dreadnoughts now, I'd see this as being rather close to crucifixion but with the effect of keeping the unfortunate fellow alive.
When war calls and stuff needs to be burned, the drugs are pumped into the poor ol' heretic and the engine cranks into life.

It's the Ecclesiarchy, this stuff is all about looks. I'd nearly say the battlefield role is almost secondary.

Mercer
03-01-2008, 11:47
A renegade penitent engine would be great. A heretic who has some how managed to re-gain control, and now opposes the W.H once again.

Looking at the Penitent engine the stats aren't as bad as people say. Front armour is 11, which is realistic seems the pilot is out in the open. The attacks would be nice if had a fixed amount, say 2 then roll a D6 for additional attacks. I think they currently have 1 attack + D6 attacks.

Penitent engine is really the W.H's version of the Dreadnought. Just less armour.

Mercer

RedStompa
03-01-2008, 14:04
Thanks for the information!

It's a little dissapointing to think that this is one of a few of W40k's 'don't think about it too much' units...

If it was a punishment, then why not have the thing explode when the pilot is finally killed? Chances are hes already surrounded by enemies in close combat, and explodding would no doubt take a few with them. Assuming of source, that they are deployed differently then dreads, and won't half to clank-stomp across a battlefield to get to grips with an enemy like chaos, or other organized army.

Speaking of which; just how exactly are they deployed? Dropship? droppod?

I like the idea of them Eccelarchy useing them as decoration, score one for Imperium cruelty! But I still love the Imperium. Its the best.