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Post
28-07-2010, 12:53
An Average Space Marine chapter has what, One Battle Barge and 2-3 Strike Cruisers? Making for a 4000+ ships galaxy wide?

Seeing as these ships are supposed to highly rare, do you suppose the Imperial Navy has 100 - 200 times as many ships? Could the Imperial Navy have as many as a million capital ships?

Clockwork-Knight
28-07-2010, 13:30
Not necessarily. Also, the numbers of capital ships will go down with more years passing, as most are not replicable high-tech that will be lost forever. Only the lunar cruiser can still be built reliably in short time (around 10 years till it's finished).

A sector fleet has 50-75 ships of varying quality. A sector fleet (that can protect several systems) could be composed of nothing more but capital ships (which makes them very weak, because they're bad at turning and have lots of blind spots that faster ships can exploit), of which one such fleet protects Terra itself together with several more mixed fleets, or only of small escorts (which also makes them weak, because they are not durable and can't perform long-duration missions), or a mixture of escorts and capital ships (which compliments the weakness of each another and makes them a powerful force).

The Imperium does not control a million sector. It controls a million worlds, of which several can be in a sector (even several hundreds, but that's going to be rare and not feasible). These sectors are quite big, and the imperial fleet is lacking in ships (meaning that they don't have enough ships to protect the space lanes and the worlds from marauders).

I see it that for every capital ship, there are at least 5-10 escorts. Some fleets don't exist anymore except on parchment, others have been forgotten by the Administratum, and a few might be trapped in warp space, having been thrown back in time, or far into the future.

So, less than a million capital ships, but indeed possibly a little bit more than a million frigates, destroyers and torpedo-boats together.

Askil the Undecided
28-07-2010, 15:01
I love how people take the "million worlds" as fact rather than a loose estimation or a dramatic (and more impressive that an accurate accounting) understatement of the Imperium's size that is in the order of millions.

For example when they said "the sun never sets on the British empire" they didn't mean that literally the sun refused to pass over the western hoizon of the provinces of the empire. It wasn't a fact, it just sounded good.

Post
28-07-2010, 16:17
Eh, the Sun really did never set on the British Empire, it was always day in some part of it.

The Gothic sector alone had around a hundred ships. More strategic sectors like Scarus or Ixaxiad would have far more.

Less than 4-500,000 would sound odd, though wouldn't it? That would make the space marine fleets a tenth the size of the Navy, and considering the crew, that'd make them a pretty grave threat to them. Kinda goes against the whole division of power thing, the Navy is supposed to be able to crush the Marines if it came to space war.

Idaan
28-07-2010, 19:45
I love how people take the "million worlds" as fact rather than a loose estimation or a dramatic (and more impressive that an accurate accounting) understatement of the Imperium's size that is in the order of millions.

For example when they said "the sun never sets on the British empire" they didn't mean that literally the sun refused to pass over the western hoizon of the provinces of the empire. It wasn't a fact, it just sounded good.

The world class aggregates in 3e Rulebook add up to about a million, few hundred thousands give or take.

massey
28-07-2010, 19:57
I thought a Space Marine chapter was supposed to have 2 or 3 Battle Barges, with 8-10 Strike Cruisers, and then assorted smaller ships. So the average chapter fleet might have up to 20 ships. With a thousand chapters, that's 20,000 ships. Of course, some chapters will be under-strength, and some will be fleet-based and have more.

As far as the Imperial Navy goes, I wouldn't worry about numbers. They are stretched so thin that they don't really have the ability to bring those numbers to bear. Frequently, it would be like Star Trek, "we're the only ship in the quadrant". When ships mass together for major invasions, they're stripping hundreds of worlds of their routine patrols. You can pick any suitably large number for a total of the Imperium's ships, because they're never going to be able to use that many anyway.

Clockwork-Knight
28-07-2010, 19:59
Back then at the beginning of the great crusade, the Imperium controlled over 2 million worlds. After the desastrous civil war, they controled less than a million, and had to reconquer a lot of worlds (throw in a few more civil wars that halt that progress), and now you've got a million worlds barely under control of the adeptus terra.
GW itself adheres to the 1 million worlds (plus or minus) as a fact.

GabrielEvander
28-07-2010, 20:39
And remember the 1 million worlds don't all have to be populated...

Stonerhino
28-07-2010, 23:03
You have to remember that space marine fleets talked about in BFG. Are talking about random chapter 478. Not the great chapters or exception chapters. For example in the new SW codex (And older fluff) the Fang is said to have "hundreds of spacecraft maintained in armoured hangers". So the SW alone have hundreds of ships And there are other that will have way more then 20 ships. Battlefleet Obscuras has other six hundred Lunar class cruisers and that's not counting what the types of ships in the battlefleet. The actual size of the Imperial navy would be mind boggling in terms of numbers of ships and crews.

KingDeath
28-07-2010, 23:27
Afaik most Space Marine Chapters have 2-3 battlebarges. Some have only one, others have more. Regarding Imperial Navy Ships, while large battleships are indeed quite rare smaller capitalships like cruisers ( Dictator- Lunar- Gothicclass ) are the bread and butter ships of every sectorfleet.

Post
29-07-2010, 02:02
Back then at the beginning of the great crusade, the Imperium controlled over 2 million worlds. After the desastrous civil war, they controled less than a million, and had to reconquer a lot of worlds (throw in a few more civil wars that halt that progress), and now you've got a million worlds barely under control of the adeptus terra.
GW itself adheres to the 1 million worlds (plus or minus) as a fact.


I think the Imperium is larger than it has ever been, things like the Angevin and Macharius crusades have continued to add territory throughout the millenia. Just a century ago they conquered a thousand worlds. And they have more marines too, more guard is a given, and all those garrison worlds and star forts. The Imperium's problem is systemic stagnation, not lack of resources.

Clockwork-Knight
29-07-2010, 04:36
Of these one thousand worlds, 500 have rebelled when they heard that Macharius had to withdraw. Afterwards, several space marine chapters had to fight several decades to bring peace again.
Then we also have the timeline table in the fifth edition rulebook, that has shown the many problems, disasters, civil wars and rebellions that have plagued the Imperium since the Horus Heresy, with several thousand planets having all their astropaths dying, warp storms appearing and cutting of worlds for millennia, worlds being overrun by aliens and heretics, ships being lost forever and never reaching the planets that need the reinforcements, and subversion by even more nefarious powers.
So no, the Imperium is half as big as when the Emperor still walked amongst man.
Even although the Imperium is the largest and most powerful political body, it has been a cripple for a hundred centuries, and is beyond its prime since the Emperor's ascension to the golden throne (where through a conspiracy, he's being kept prisoner since).

Perhaps the Imperium has 1.05 Million worlds, perhaps it has only around 890.000 planets under its grip, but it's far far from the old age when the emperor started the crusade.

The Imperium has been a shadow of itself since the traitor legions have fleed to the eye of terror. And after ten millennia, it will be close to its ends, with so many wars against the alien, the witch and the heretic. Even if they could defeat the xeno hordes, the insurgents, and the traitor legions, mankind is on the brink of becoming a fully psychic race like the eldar or the orks, and without the guiding of the emperor, humanity will be destroyed by warp vampyres, psychneuins, enslavers and other horrible warp beasts more terrible than daemons could ever be.

Lupe
29-07-2010, 04:56
Of these one thousand worlds, 500 have rebelled when they heard that Macharius had to withdraw. Afterwards, several space marine chapters had to fight several decades to bring peace again.

I think the idea is that eventually all the worlds Macharius brought into the fold were eventually incorporated into the Imperium. It just took longer for the Space Marines to subdue a single world than it did for Macharius to conquer the whole thousand of them.

But the borders of the Imperium in that part of the galaxy are probably the same as they were at the peak of the Macharian crusade.

Iracundus
29-07-2010, 05:04
I think the idea is that eventually all the worlds Macharius brought into the fold were eventually incorporated into the Imperium. It just took longer for the Space Marines to subdue a single world than it did for Macharius to conquer the whole thousand of them.

But the borders of the Imperium in that part of the galaxy are probably the same as they were at the peak of the Macharian crusade.

The Macharian Heresy resulted in the Imperium losing control of the furthest worlds, so no, the borders are not the same. This is supported by the map in the 2nd edition IG Codex which shows the Macharian conquests extending beyond the current borders and by the following from the 2nd edition IG Codex:



Though many of Macharius' most distant c onquests were lost to the Imperium forever, the majority were pacified successfully. -p.32 2nd edition IG Codex

Green-is-best
29-07-2010, 06:37
Ok, here's some crazy, out there stuff. Lets say the Imperial Navy has about as many capital ships per capita as the biggest military spender in the modern world: the US.

We currently have 21 capital ships (11 carriers and 10 amphibious assault ships) and 300 million people. That's .00000007 capital ships per capita. Now, lets say the Imperium has 500 trillion people, which is pretty conservative.

If we used that ratio, the Imperium would have 35 million capital ships.

Obviously, this has no real bearing on anything, but I thought it was a fun little perspective exercise. :o

Polaria
29-07-2010, 07:38
Galaxy is huge. Imperium is huge. They might very well have several million ships and that would still mean there are only a few dozen per normal sector. Obviously really important places like Terra and Cadian gate have thousands. Lets also not forget that at any given moment there are several smaller Imperial Crusades heading to conquer more worlds for the Imperium and they need a good sized fleets, too.

Hellebore
29-07-2010, 08:12
BFG says that an imperial sector will have between 50 and 75 warships including escorts (pg86 BFG) patrolling the entire sector.

The average sector has iirc ~100 imperial controlled planets (although at the moment I can't find the reference - it may be only 70).

If you take 'one million worlds' as close to truth then that would mean the Imperium possesses ~10,000 sectors each with a ~100 Imperial planets in them (which doesn't include uninhabited/able ones). Which would mean the Imperium possesses around 750,000 warships (including escorts).

Personally I can't see so fiew ships achieving much. The System monitor ships shouldn't be included in that, so for space to be at least partially controlled there would need to be millions of them, but system ships are tiny slow escorts rather than warships per se.

Hellebore

Malice313
29-07-2010, 13:52
Ok, here's some crazy, out there stuff. Lets say the Imperial Navy has about as many capital ships per capita as the biggest military spender in the modern world: the US.

We currently have 21 capital ships (11 carriers and 10 amphibious assault ships) and 300 million people. That's .00000007 capital ships per capita. Now, lets say the Imperium has 500 trillion people, which is pretty conservative.

If we used that ratio, the Imperium would have 35 million capital ships.

Obviously, this has no real bearing on anything, but I thought it was a fun little perspective exercise. :o

That's an interesting point of view. I'd be interested to find out how many capital ships/population the US had during WWII (also for the UK), given that the Imperium is basically in a constant state of war.

Tactical Retreat!
29-07-2010, 15:20
Ok, here's some crazy, out there stuff. Lets say the Imperial Navy has about as many capital ships per capita as the biggest military spender in the modern world: the US.

We currently have 21 capital ships (11 carriers and 10 amphibious assault ships) and 300 million people. That's .00000007 capital ships per capita. Now, lets say the Imperium has 500 trillion people, which is pretty conservative.

If we used that ratio, the Imperium would have 35 million capital ships.

Obviously, this has no real bearing on anything, but I thought it was a fun little perspective exercise. :o

Imperial capital ships are A LOT LOT bigger than aircraft carriers, they would require so much more material to build that I won't even go there. I'd be very surprised if even civilized worlds like ours could scrape together enough resources to field more than a couple at a time.

I'm going to make a guess based on common sense and say about 1-2 million capital ships in the Imperium. That makes for a bit over 1 ship per planet (which would mean that rich worlds had a couple and small colonies none at all).

That's pretty feasible considering that the IN contains many more escort ships, transports and auxiliary vessels in addition to Capital ships.

Green-is-best
29-07-2010, 16:10
I dunno about 40k ships, but modern warships are mostly steel. I don't think constraints on steel availability is the reason that the US only fields 21 capital ships. :rolleyes:

Tactical Retreat!
29-07-2010, 16:14
I dunno about 40k ships, but modern warships are mostly steel. I don't think constraints on steel availability is the reason that the US only fields 21 capital ships. :rolleyes:

You do know that a Nimitz class Aircraft carrier costs about $4 billion to construct right? Maybe you have that kind of money lying around for random spending, but USA doesn't.

Also note that it isn't just the main frame that costs money, it's all the hardware you have to fill it with, and that sure isn't made out of "mostly steel"

Green-is-best
29-07-2010, 16:47
By weight, any modern naval vessel is mostly steel. While there are other components, they are a tiny fraction of the overall composition compared to the huge amount of steel required to create the superstructure, hull, guns, engine bits, crew amenities, etc, etc.

More to the point, material still isn't the limiting factor. The United States is set to spend almost a trillion dollars on defense in 2010. If there was a pressing strategic need for another aircraft carrier or helicopter assault ship, it would be built.

Tactical Retreat!
29-07-2010, 16:58
By weight, any modern naval vessel is mostly steel. While there are other components, they are a tiny fraction of the overall composition compared to the huge amount of steel required to create the superstructure, hull, guns, engine bits, crew amenities, etc, etc.

More to the point, material still isn't the limiting factor. The United States is set to spend almost a trillion dollars on defense in 2010. If there was a pressing strategic need for another aircraft carrier or helicopter assault ship, it would be built.

The materials and effort gone into constructing a Nimitz is what the $4 billion tag represents, which means that they aren't near as easy to churn out as you think. Sure some of the price tag is also going to be profit for the company, but if it was too much then the military would have given the order to another company instead.

Material and Labor is indeed the limiting factor. Sure USA could field a couple more ships if really hard pressed, but that would mean sacrificing things in other areas of society. Opportunity Cost and all that.

In any case, it's safe to say that IN capital ships aren't made out of steel. "Adamantium" is a material that comes up a lot when reading about them, and whatever it is I think it's safe to assume that it's rarer and more expensive than iron. They also use such absurd amounts of it (60m thick prow shield, which is several hundred meters in all directions) that it would be unfeasible to construct very many of them. Especially since capital ships only make up a small portion of the IN.

Green-is-best
29-07-2010, 17:32
The materials and effort gone into constructing a Nimitz is what the $4 billion tag represents, which means that they aren't near as easy to churn out as you think. Sure some of the price tag is also going to be profit for the company, but if it was too much then the military would have given the order to another company instead.

How about you can the condescending attitude? I never said that aircraft carriers were cheap or easy to make. I simply said that the limiting factor on the number of capital ships in the US fleet is not resources.


Material and Labor is indeed the limiting factor. Sure USA could field a couple more ships if really hard pressed, but that would mean sacrificing things in other areas of society. Opportunity Cost and all that.

At 4 billion dollars, a new aircraft carrier would cost .4% of the US defense budget for 2010. If there was a strategic need for more carries, they could be produced. The fact is, there's only so much ocean, only so many threats, only so many bombable targets, only so many pilots, only so many aircraft, only so many problems that can be solved with the application of naval air power, and so on.

The question of what additional carriers would add to the United States' strategic capacity overrides any questions of material and labor. The opportunity cost is in other military spending, not other parts of society.

massey
29-07-2010, 18:08
The US is currently maintaining a roughly $1T military budget with relatively little impact on its society. Yes, there are deficit problems, etc, but all that is well within the realm of everyday political concerns. In other words, they are not issues so large or important that we can't maintain that level of spending indefinitely if we feel it is needed.

There are other issues that limit the number of aircraft carriers that we field. As Green-is-best said, there's only so much ocean. Also, you have to consider what our likely opponents would be fielding. We have 11 carriers. No one else has more than 2. Most of the people who have one are our friends. That's not exactly a pressing need for more. But the big limiting factor is our naval yards. They have shrunken over the years as we have produced fewer ships. With no pressing need for more ships, we cut back production decades ago. It's hard to scale that production back up at the drop of a hat.

As far as the Imperium goes, I would say that most Imperial worlds are less developed than the US. That doesn't mean they have worse technology (because they obviously have some cool sci-fi tech), but we have an educated workforce, heavy industry, and an economy that has not been damaged by war. The average Imperial city appears to be a bombed-out ruin. In other words, I think the US can support its naval fleet better than the average Imperial world can support theirs. Plus, when you start calculating the million worlds of the Imperium, at least a decent percentage are places like Tatooine, barren deserts with tiny settlements scattered throughout. Those planets aren't supporting any kind of navy. In fact, I'd say those planets probably outnumber hive worlds and forge worlds by a sizeable margin.

Personally, I don't think materials like "adamantium" are necessarily all that rare. The Imperium puts adamantium in pretty much every kind of armor they make. From Dreadnaughts to Land Raiders, Leman Russes to capital ships, marine shoulder pads to fortress walls, it's everywhere. We don't know exactly what it is, but we know it's not the same stuff we find in Marvel Comics. That stuff is much stronger. And the Imperium seems to have gobs of this stuff coming out of their ears, so I don't think it's that expensive.

What is really going to limit the Imperium is the quality of their shipyards. It appears as though they've settled into a replacement only level of production, where they produce enough ships each year to replace the once that are destroyed. This means they'll keep a navy of roughly the same size over a long-term period, but the size will vary in any particular year according to how battles go. Black Crusades don't happen every day, there are probably fairly long periods of peace where they can build their fleets back up. What that means is that they don't have the ability to seriously bump up production on-demand though.

Tactical Retreat!
29-07-2010, 18:31
How about you can the condescending attitude? I never said that aircraft carriers were cheap or easy to make. I simply said that the limiting factor on the number of capital ships in the US fleet is not resources.



At 4 billion dollars, a new aircraft carrier would cost .4% of the US defense budget for 2010. If there was a strategic need for more carries, they could be produced. The fact is, there's only so much ocean, only so many threats, only so many bombable targets, only so many pilots, only so many aircraft, only so many problems that can be solved with the application of naval air power, and so on.

The question of what additional carriers would add to the United States' strategic capacity overrides any questions of material and labor. The opportunity cost is in other military spending, not other parts of society.

But the IN capital ships aren't aircraft carriers anyway, they are in an entirely different magnitude when it comes to tonnage. Just the smallest of them are 3km long and hundreds of meters high and wide.

I mean one of our destroyers today would be just a little bit larger than the fighters and bombers their carriers send out in swarms!

When you reach sizes like these, resources do start to become a limiting factor. Especially when you have to keep production of ships up for many thousands of years, and considering the casualties the IN suffers all over the galaxy all the time.

If the Imperium has 30k forge worlds (5th ed rulebook I think) and most of the IN ships are constructed there, and we use your estimate of 35 million capital ships... well that means that each forge world is responsible for the maintenance and production of over a thousand of them. Each. Even if only say 0.1% of the IN capital ships are put out of service per year, that means each forge world has to churn out more than 10 of them.

You are entitled to your opinion of course but to me it just doesn't make sense with numbers this large.

Post
30-07-2010, 09:29
The US, its insane defense spending aside, is just one country. Forge Worlds have manufacturing complexes that cover continents, slave workforces that number in the Billions. Orbital dock facilities that form torroids above the equator. Their resources are vast.

Promethius
30-07-2010, 17:59
BFG says that an imperial sector will have between 50 and 75 warships including escorts (pg86 BFG) patrolling the entire sector.

The average sector has iirc ~100 imperial controlled planets (although at the moment I can't find the reference - it may be only 70).

If you take 'one million worlds' as close to truth then that would mean the Imperium possesses ~10,000 sectors each with a ~100 Imperial planets in them (which doesn't include uninhabited/able ones). Which would mean the Imperium possesses around 750,000 warships (including escorts).

Personally I can't see so fiew ships achieving much. The System monitor ships shouldn't be included in that, so for space to be at least partially controlled there would need to be millions of them, but system ships are tiny slow escorts rather than warships per se.

Hellebore

I've always assumed that the sector patrol fleets were just a proportion of the navy's strength, and that they would be supplemented by additional ships from the main naval bases and fortress worlds. It's difficult to find much to support it in the bfg fluff, other than mention of ery old warships which are maintained at the sector bases which don't see action for decades, if not centuries. Some sort of additional, centralised (for a few sectors) fleet makes sense to respond to threats that are beyond the capability of the local ships. Say every 5-6 sectors you have additional fleets of 15-40 ships for responding to emergencies/prosecuting crusades etc.

Col. Tartleton
30-07-2010, 18:56
In point, presuming the us to be a good model, one can spend about 40% of central government spending or 7% of their total Gross Domestic Product on military spending without it hurting the state. In an emergency they can spend more then 100% of Gross Domestic Product (World War 2 for example) the Imperium is just grinding it out, so I imagine 10-20% of their economic power is used for warfare. Its starting to rub the economy but it's not hurting it, just keeping it from growing. This however has nothing to do wit hthe debate.

The Imperial Navy has millions of capital ships. There are approximately a million worlds. It is a figure of speech. It's not actually that number because its constantly fluctuating. However we are told that at its peak the Imperium during the great crusade was at at least two million and that in the heresy and the following wars of the last 10,000 years they've lost more then half to the ages. So if the actual number is in the hundreds of thousands, it still would make sense for there to be more large ships then planets. It just does. I know there is only one marine per planet, but as we all know, a single marine could take over a capital ship of one hundred thousand crew by himself and then steer it into a planet killing billions more... BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD

Green-is-best
30-07-2010, 19:15
I know there is only one marine per planet, but as we all know, a single marine could take over a capital ship of one hundred thousand crew by himself and then steer it into a planet killing billions more... BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD

ROFL!

/thread

f2k
30-07-2010, 19:59
What is really going to limit the Imperium is the quality of their shipyards. It appears as though they've settled into a replacement only level of production, where they produce enough ships each year to replace the once that are destroyed. This means they'll keep a navy of roughly the same size over a long-term period, but the size will vary in any particular year according to how battles go. Black Crusades don't happen every day, there are probably fairly long periods of peace where they can build their fleets back up. What that means is that they don't have the ability to seriously bump up production on-demand though.


I think massey is on to something here...

I recall reading somewhere that the British Empire, at the height of its naval power, only maintained a handful or so of the biggest Ships of the Line. Not because they couldn’t be build, as far as resources were concerned, but simply because there were very few docks / shipyards that were capable of building and maintaining ships of that size. Indeed, as I recall, such ships were not stationed in the Caribbean area at all, since there were no ports that could handle them.

Considering the sheer size of the battleships of the Imperial Navy, I would say that each sector has only a handful, at most, planets capable of actually handling such a ship. Earth, Mars, Armageddon... That sort of planets. Outer Outback IV would not be able to accommodate such a ship, let alone a fleet. A fleet might pass by every now and again to remind them who’s in charge. But docking, refuelling, rearming and so on is out of the question.

In my opinion, it’s really a question of logistics. That is, building the ships is not that big of a problem – but supporting them is. Of course, this depends on how long each fleet / battle group / excort group / whatever group can stay away from their base. If they’re away for an extended period, perhaps a few years at a time, then this problem is minimized as each planet would only have to support each group for a short time.
But given the sheer number of crew, the amount of food it would need, the ridiculous casualty rate... I would say that each ship actually has to dock fairly often. Just my opinion, of course...

sebold
31-07-2010, 03:45
the US can have so many more continent destroying ships, but opf couse theyre head of the UN and that wouldnt be too good in role modeling, just wait till world war 3 and ull c:skull:

Hellebore
31-07-2010, 03:48
In point, presuming the us to be a good model, one can spend about 40% of central government spending or 7% of their total Gross Domestic Product on military spending without it hurting the state. In an emergency they can spend more then 100% of Gross Domestic Product (World War 2 for example) the Imperium is just grinding it out, so I imagine 10-20% of their economic power is used for warfare. Its starting to rub the economy but it's not hurting it, just keeping it from growing. This however has nothing to do wit hthe debate.


Well I would argue that it DOES have an affect on people, er state. There are plenty of people in the US that could use even a smidgen of that money to improve their health, or housing situation etc.

But that's P&R.

Hellebore

Post
31-07-2010, 03:51
In point, presuming the us to be a good model, one can spend about 40% of central government spending or 7% of their total Gross Domestic Product on military spending without it hurting the state. In an emergency they can spend more then 100% of Gross Domestic Product (World War 2 for example) the Imperium is just grinding it out, so I imagine 10-20% of their economic power is used for warfare. Its starting to rub the economy but it's not hurting it, just keeping it from growing. This however has nothing to do wit hthe debate.



The Imperium's economy has no modern equivalent. Concepts like GDP are meaningless in a quasi feudal barter system. And what exactly is it going to spend resources on other than war? Development? -



In ancient times, men built wonders, laid claim to the stars and sought to better themselves for the good of all. But we are much wiser now.

Clockwork-Knight
31-07-2010, 04:20
Well, they could invest ressources in creating new means of gathering and refining ressources that would be a lot more effiicient than before. :p
And happy people are less people who oppose the Imperium or worse, go worship some strange pseudo-sentient warp storms who whisper them strange things.

N0-1_H3r3
31-07-2010, 08:14
Well, they could invest ressources in creating new means of gathering and refining ressources that would be a lot more effiicient than before. :p
They could, but the established order of things is preferred.

This exact situation occurs in the set up for a Dark Heresy adventure, actually - Sepheris Secundus, a mining world crucial to the Calixis Sector whose populace consists of 90% illiterate serfs whose lives are spent down vast mines, chipping away at the rock with hand tools day after day to help the world achieve its massive tithes, under the authority of its feudal barons. At one point, one of these barons worries that this situation is untenable, that once the world runs out of valuable ores, the populace will be largely incapable of doing anything else worthwhile, so he sets out to educate the serfs of his part of the planet, spending almost all of his fortune on obtaining the aid of the Adeptus Mechanicus and their machinery to speed up the process. During these years of development, he barely managed to produce the required amount of ore for the planetary tithe (each baron contributes a set portion of it), and was continually mocked for living in poorer conditions than his serfs.

That all changed when he brought in the largest tithe of materials any of them had ever seen as his efforts reached fruition, enough not only to reach his allocated amount, but also to make up for the smaller contributions given in previous years... and the next year he did the same thing. The other barons were frankly shocked, and set about trying to undermine this troublemaker, forcing him out of power, having him accused of treason and heresy, and getting him captured and executed by the Adeptus Arbites for it... at which point, his lands were broken up and given to other barons, and the status quo was maintained.

Such is the way of the Imperium.

Now, broadly speaking, the structure of the Imperium exists to support an ongoing war effort. The infrastructure formed during the Great Crusade was made to support the Crusade, and when the Imperium was rebuilt following the Heresy, it was rebuilt along much the same lines. On a galactic scale, everything exists to supply the military eventually.

Clockwork-Knight
31-07-2010, 12:44
That all changed when he brought in the largest tithe of materials any of them had ever seen as his efforts reached fruition, enough not only to reach his allocated amount, but also to make up for the smaller contributions given in previous years... and the next year he did the same thing. The other barons were frankly shocked, and set about trying to undermine this troublemaker, forcing him out of power, having him accused of treason and heresy, and getting him captured and executed by the Adeptus Arbites for it... at which point, his lands were broken up and given to other barons, and the status quo was maintained.

Such is the way of the Imperium.Truly, this is a sad story.