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Lord Squidar
20-06-2013, 13:11
Hi,

I was thinking about the Tyranid special characters and wondering how they work, because after the nids have finished destroying all life on a planet, the armies go into the birthing pools so the mother ships can suck up all the biomass, i.e. that trip on a mycetic spore is one way buddy.

So how do the special characters work, are they spefically kept alive and transported back OR are they unique genetic codes that the hive mind can generate when needed, i.e. entirely new beings

Is latter is the case, does this mean there could well be two Swarmlords in existence at the same time? No other race can do this neat trick it seems :D

childsoldier
20-06-2013, 14:12
Iirc they got rid of all the 'Nids special characters in one of the previous iterations of the codex as it didn't really make sense because of what you pointed out. I don't know if they came up with a convincing reason for putting them back in other than "well, we wanted to!"

blackcherry
20-06-2013, 14:24
I think they explain it away as being a freak mutation that the Hive Mind spawns when needed, or just use the Old One Eye route of 'got separated from swarm, wonders the galaxy destroying everything'. I need to check the codex to be sure.

But really, its because its cool and they want to sell models.

El_Machinae
20-06-2013, 15:07
My impression is that it's a 'template' that a Hive Mind can decide to make in specific instances. That said, the main tyrant character (forgot his name) has unique sword-arms, and that's a bit of a hiccup in the idea of being able to regenerate the unique character.

Lord Damocles
20-06-2013, 19:00
One of the FFG Deathwatch books, The Achilus Assault, talks about a small, specialised Tyranid ship called a Rebirth Vessel (pg.49), which it is theorised is used to (re-)spawn 'unique' commander organisms, which would explain how the special characters can keep coming back.

Presumably there must be some way of 'uploading' unique creatures to the greater hive mind too, as the Swarmlord was present as part of Hive Fleet Behemoth as well as Hive Fleet Leviathan.

Frstwlf
20-06-2013, 23:51
It is stated in the Tyranids codex under the entry for the Swarmlord that its consciousness is absorbed via the synaptic link and his physical shell re-grown and imbued with it:


"It would therefore appear that the Swarmlord's link with the Hive Mind is so strong as to transcend the physical limitations separating the different Hive Fleets. If the Swarmlord perishes on the battlefield, the Hive Mind reabsorbs its consciousness through the synaptic web. The Swarmlord is therefore deathless, and can be re-grown to face the enemy again, returning each time stronger than ever before."

Although, a somewhat similar fate seems to be the norm for other Hive Tyrants:


"Should a Hive Tyrant be slain, the Hive Mind can simply grow a replacement, imbuing it with the same experiences, character and knowledge as its predecessor."

Hellebore
21-06-2013, 01:21
Adding characters to the tyranids IMO entirely misses the point of the species. Having them be immortal characters is even worse.

By this argument the hive tyrants should have experiences dating back to the founding of the hive fleet and/or the species as a whole. The tyrants fighting in the milky way should have thousands of lives worth of experience to draw on and they would be unstoppable.

Hellebore

Tastyfish
21-06-2013, 09:00
At the same time though, deploying these unique organisms probably comes at a risk. It helps to have an individual, experienced lens with which to examine your experiences - but a powerful individual who is distinct from the whole is far from the ideal situation and an accident waiting to happen.

You resurrect these guys when there's something you're unable to handle with the tools you normally have at your disposal and faster, small scale thinking is required. However both of you know that at some point you're going to come to blows eventually, that level of individuality can't be tolerated and will likely insist on it's continuation. As alien as it sounds, it might even value it's own survival over yours.

Hellebore
21-06-2013, 11:02
Well that would apply to all hive tyrants as they all get resurrected.

But I don't see why the hive mind can't just take the experiences the collective gains as a whole and download the whole lot into a singe organism. There's no reason that specific entities need to be constrainted soley to their past experiences.

hellebore

Poseidal
21-06-2013, 11:10
The Tyranid Special characters would make more sense if they were still living one-off mutations that haven't or can't been re-processed.

blackcherry
21-06-2013, 11:16
The Tyranid Special characters would make more sense if they were still living one-off mutations that haven't or can't been re-processed.

It would, but that only makes so much sense. After a while, even creatures like Old One Eye would be reabsorbed into the hive mind, as unless their presence heralded the defeat of a Tyranid swarm, (in which chase, who would they be 'heroes' of the race) the Hive Mind would take over the planet and reabsorb all the biomass, the special characters included.

Denny
21-06-2013, 11:53
The Tyranid Special characters would make more sense if they were still living one-off mutations that haven't or can't been re-processed.

Some are I think. Ymgarl genestealers (though not exactly a special character) will not be absorbed by the hive mind due to concern about their continued mutation contaminating the Tyranid gene-pool. Old One Eye might be a similar case where the hive mind is concerned that its unique physiology could cause problems later down the line.


But I don't see why the hive mind can't just take the experiences the collective gains as a whole and download the whole lot into a singe organism. There's no reason that specific entities need to be constrainted soley to their past experiences.

Perhaps its counter-productive. When confronted by a new enemy instead of drawing on, say, the Swarmlords collective experiences your 'collective consciousness' Hive Tyrant might be drawing upon numerous conflicting instincts/memories and end up struggling to take any action or take several counter productive actions; a 'schizophrenic' leader if you will.

The hive mind usual approach to problem solving is specialisation. Why would this not also apply to its commanders?

Poseidal
21-06-2013, 12:00
Perhaps its counter-productive. When confronted by a new enemy instead of drawing on, say, the Swarmlords collective experiences your 'collective consciousness' Hive Tyrant might be drawing upon numerous conflicting instincts/memories and end up struggling to take any action or take several counter productive actions; a 'schizophrenic' leader if you will.

The hive mind usual approach to problem solving is specialisation. Why would this not also apply to its commanders?

Maybe Swarmlords have PTSD.

Hellebore
21-06-2013, 12:04
Perhaps its counter-productive. When confronted by a new enemy instead of drawing on, say, the Swarmlords collective experiences your 'collective consciousness' Hive Tyrant might be drawing upon numerous conflicting instincts/memories and end up struggling to take any action or take several counter productive actions; a 'schizophrenic' leader if you will.

The hive mind usual approach to problem solving is specialisation. Why would this not also apply to its commanders?

Well I can't see it working that way really. If you can specialise, then you specialise your experiences into groups. There's no guarantee that the swarmlord has consistent experience either or that the hive could recognise the foe as 'that' type of foe to deploy 'that' type of unique personality.

And if they could, then it would be more efficient to just collect 'those' types of experiences together, rather than hoping a single unique entity remains pure in its experiences for redeployment.

It also doesn't preclude ALL tyrants being deployed as swarmlords. They can copy the distinct mind of that entity, there is no reason they can't do it infinitely. Therefore ALL tyrants in a 'swarmlord' situation, would all be swarmlords...


Hellebore

Denny
21-06-2013, 13:06
And if they could, then it would be more efficient to just collect 'those' types of experiences together

Wouldn't that leave you with an inflexible leader who can only do one thing well? The whole point of the Swarmlord is he has a vast number of different experiences against different enemies. He's the 'left field' commander who outsmarts opponents.

Other tyrants are used when anticipating a certain 'style' of conflict. Swarmy is used when other options have failed.


It also doesn't preclude ALL tyrants being deployed as swarmlords. They can copy the distinct mind of that entity, there is no reason they can't do it infinitely. Therefore ALL tyrants in a 'swarmlord' situation, would all be swarmlords...

Unless you need to use more than one Swamlord at the same time.

Otherwise, when it comes time to 'download' the memories into a new Swarmlord you could end up with two conflicting sets of experiences based on what the two swarmlords were doing. Perhaps the hive mind is unable (or unwilling) to risk compromising its greatest weapon by crudely slicing the memories together, so only one Swarmlord can be deployed at any one time.

If that's the case, maybe the Hive Mind would rather keep the Swarmlord in reserve and only use him when things are not going well, otherwise you risk deploying him in a 'easy' conflict only to discover you actaully need his skills in another battlefield . . .

Remember, the Swarmlord transcends hive fleets and could be deployed anywhere there are Tyranids, including outside our galaxy.

baphomael
21-06-2013, 13:47
Also, its fair to say that some "special characters" are merely nicknames given to particularly nasty examples of general 'nid organisms. Old One Eye, for example, was a regenerating carnifex that got his "unique" status from having had his eye blown out. I seem to remember one account for Old One Eye popping up in different, and distant, warzones is that perhaps it could be *the* Old One eye, or perhaps an example of the myth of Old One Eye being applied to a different, but similar, carnifex.

Hellebore
21-06-2013, 14:39
Wouldn't that leave you with an inflexible leader who can only do one thing well? The whole point of the Swarmlord is he has a vast number of different experiences against different enemies. He's the 'left field' commander who outsmarts opponents.

Other tyrants are used when anticipating a certain 'style' of conflict. Swarmy is used when other options have failed.


I was replying to your post where you specified specialisation amongst the tyrants. You specified schizophrenic tyrants as a problem, but here you seem to think that's fine. They can't have both.



Unless you need to use more than one Swamlord at the same time.

Otherwise, when it comes time to 'download' the memories into a new Swarmlord you could end up with two conflicting sets of experiences based on what the two swarmlords were doing. Perhaps the hive mind is unable (or unwilling) to risk compromising its greatest weapon by crudely slicing the memories together, so only one Swarmlord can be deployed at any one time.

If that's the case, maybe the Hive Mind would rather keep the Swarmlord in reserve and only use him when things are not going well, otherwise you risk deploying him in a 'easy' conflict only to discover you actaully need his skills in another battlefield . . .

Remember, the Swarmlord transcends hive fleets and could be deployed anywhere there are Tyranids, including outside our galaxy.

If you need to deploy a swarmlord in a specific war, then 20 feet away in the same swarm isn't going to be so vastly different that the swarmlord doesn't work. Therefore, the same planet should have every tyrant a swarm lord if one needs deploying. There's no reason not to.

War isn't so different that fighting one army makes it impossible to fight another. Space marine commanders fight every enemy under the sun, they don't get all confused just because they're now fighting eldar when their last experience was with orks.

All a combined experience tyrant would do is give it a huge reserve of experience to draw from, just as any experienced leader having fought a variety of foes would have. Eldar Exarchs are an example of this happening outside the Hive Mind - a combination of experiences that help to create a powerful whole. One soul might go their entire life fighting orks, the next necrons etc. That doesn't incapacitate the exarch into inaction.

Hellebore

Tastyfish
21-06-2013, 16:02
Well that would apply to all hive tyrants as they all get resurrected.

But I don't see why the hive mind can't just take the experiences the collective gains as a whole and download the whole lot into a singe organism. There's no reason that specific entities need to be constrainted soley to their past experiences.

hellebore

They get resurrected, but perhaps not indefinitely. Could be that they generally last for about a campaign, after which they'll be permanently recycled and reabsorbed into the Hive mind. A couple (the "old adversaries") might occasionally be brought out of retirement and re-embodied with updated memories should the Hive fleet encounter a difficult foe from before, but not to the same extent as the/a Swarm Lord. A normal Tyrant might also be an amalgamation of several previous Tyrant's experiences, so whilst they are resurrected in a way - you're getting into very complicated definitions of an individual, especially if a Tyrant is resurrected into multiple bodies.

In this case it probably pays to keep mixing the memories and experiences of the Tyrants as it makes blending their memories together a lot easier. If you keep them around too long they'll start becoming more individual and less useful in the long run, not to mention the various quirks that they might pass onto creatures they've taken control of. Swarm lord is a end product of this, he's too 'insane' (by the Tyranid's reckoning) to be reintegrated with the Tyrants of the Swarm, the various quirks and tics it's picked up that let it think like a prey-individual only work as a complete package so you can't dilute the personality away with other's of his kind and more than that, are not the sort of things you really want to add to your own conciousness.

Doom of Malantai and Deathleaper are probably similar cases, the former is useful but regarded with suspicion, it's come dangerously close to starting it's own mini Hivemind by absorbing the souls and consciousnesses of a infinity circuit - not a rival yet, but has shown an aptitude in the sort of thing you'd need to do in order to become one. Whilst Deathleaper is closer to the Swarmlord but without the more dangerous control elements, it's probably also 'insane' by Tyranid standards - but useful enough it's generally worth the risk of reabsorbing them if they're sucessful, since the object of their obsessive tendencies is already dead.

LordLucan
21-06-2013, 16:05
Doom of Malan'tai is a one of creature which hasn't been reabsorbed to my knowledge. Similarly with Old One Eye. Death leaper is a unique Lictor which seems to be trying to avoid getting reabsorbed by the hive (if Medusa V is anything to go by). The Ymgarl Genestealers are unstable and the Tyranids seem to be avoiding devouring them.

With the other Tyranid 'special characters' like parasite and suchlike, I just assume they are very rare specialist Tyranids, which aren't utilised very often by the Hive for various reasons.

Swarmlord's lore is a bit iffy to me, as I feel like it is too personal. It feels like an alien warlord who serves the Tyranids, rather than a horrific embodiment of the implacable will of the collective will of the hive.

Denny
21-06-2013, 16:09
I was replying to your post where you specified specialisation amongst the tyrants. You specified schizophrenic tyrants as a problem, but here you seem to think that's fine. They can't have both.

Sure I can. :)

Most tyrants are specialists. Merging different experiences into one being might causes a schizo tyrant (or at least a conflicted one).
The Swarmslords specialist ability is (dun dun dun!) dealing with the unexpected/unpredictable. To do this he needs a range of experiences, but he has to experience them. Dumping conflicting info from loads of other tyrants into one being and expecting it to only merge the best of its gestalt consciousness sounds risky at best . . .





If you need to deploy a swarmlord in a specific war, then 20 feet away in the same swarm isn't going to be so vastly different that the swarmlord doesn't work. Therefore, the same planet should have every tyrant a swarm lord if one needs deploying. There's no reason not to.


What would the benefit be? :confused:

Having two identical generals within 20 feet of each other who can both communicate telepathically seems like an extremely inefficient use of resources. That biomass would serve much better as additional front line troops, wouldn’t it?



War isn't so different that fighting one army makes it impossible to fight another. Space marine commanders fight every enemy under the sun, they don't get all confused just because they're now fighting eldar when their last experience was with orks.


The issues is trying to mesh separate lives together.

Dunno if you read comics but there is a superhero called the Multiple Man who can duplicate and then later absorb the duplicates. He used this power to send loads of them out into the world to learn loads of cool skills then reabsorb them.

Great idea . . . except its lead to some serious identity issues, including at least one duplicate who lurks in his subconscious trying to kill him.

Meshing separate lives together (rather than having exarchs who live sequential lives) can have unexpected consequences . . .

More isn’t always better

bittick
21-06-2013, 18:57
There are lots of reasons for special characters. Use whatever justification you want. Sometimes it's just a random genetic quirk, a mutation. Maybe one out of a million genestealers pops out as a Ymgarl-style stealer, regardless of the quality control of the Hive Mind. So rather than reabsorbing them, it just ships them off ahead of the fleet. It might be that "Old One Eye" is just a Carnifex with good regeneration that gets shot in the eye with a meltagun (the damage being great enough to damage the "regeneration nodes" or whatever that are in the eye area, so it doesn't grow back). Deathleaper could be a particular variant of Lictor that isn't used very often, for whatever reason.

The Swarmlord is a strategic genius and character killer. You generally don't need to expend that amount of energy creating a Hive Tyrant with a nervous system that developed. Most of the time a normal HT works fine. The Swarmlord might have to "grow" for longer, or perhaps the Hive Mind hasn't found an effective way to duplicate leader organisms like that yet. Maybe it's not a genetic improvement, it's actual battle experience and knowledge. The fleet knows from past experience if it breaks it down into material that the information just gets lost. So the Swarmlord's mind gets held in some sort of psychic storage facility in the interim. Or maybe the Swarmlord is the actual consciousness of the fleet itself, walking around in its own little avatar because its a mean sumbitch and just wants to kill some people up close and personal. It really wants to shank Marneus Calgar real good, up close and personal.

Romanov77
21-06-2013, 22:42
Just wait for some well known dude to write the new codex and you will get not only special characters but also new tyranid factions out of thin air, complete with petty and human motivations for their actions.

LordLucan
22-06-2013, 10:41
Just wait for some well known dude to write the new codex and you will get not only special characters but also new tyranid factions out of thin air,

Already happened dude. Moloch and Hydra and Jormundgar and Gorgon just appeared. Ymgarl stealers are rejected by the hive mind.

But I get your not-so-subtle inference. ;)

But more seriously, I doubt they'd get rid of the concept of the Hive Mind. I could see possibly factions in the codex where elements of the Tyranids got cut off from the hive, and rebel. Heck, they could bring back the Zoats/Hive fleet Colossus, or a genestealer cult list if they wanted Tyrannic factions with less monolithic and single-minded ambitions, and/or more human like motivations.

Saunders
22-06-2013, 14:56
Could be that the Hive Mind isn't perfect :P

El_Machinae
22-06-2013, 16:20
I really like the idea that there's only one Swarmlord at a time, and that there's a reason why an individual mind is not maintained for too long. Sedition, Hive Mind confusion, etc. Energetically, the biomass cost of making a special character is not much higher than just making the regular animal, and there's often an exponential increase in power. I mean, the Doom is astoundingly powerful, in a relative sense. It would be crazy to not keep deploying it.

Romanov77
23-06-2013, 10:21
The hivefleets just want to restore their old empire, while the hivemind is just their spiritual liege.

LordLucan
23-06-2013, 10:54
You already told that joke, 3 posts ago...

Lord Damocles
23-06-2013, 11:11
Also, Tyranids had special characters two editions ago (http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Codex:_Tyranids_(3rd_Edition)#.UcbXpMtwbIU); so it's not like the idea is something new.

Romanov77
23-06-2013, 14:49
You already told that joke, 3 posts ago...

After the Necron butchery, it never hurts to stress out some things :)

Canty117
24-06-2013, 01:04
War isn't so different that fighting one army makes it impossible to fight another. Space marine commanders fight every enemy under the sun, they don't get all confused just because they're now fighting eldar when their last experience was with orks.

Hellebore


Yes but the Space Marines are human to an extent. They have inspiration, free thought, military advisers and lieutenants. The Tyrants don't have this. All they have is the implacable will of the Hive Mind driving them, and a faint shadow of this humanity. Maybe the Hive Mind cannot replicate this aspect of commanders, except in the genetic code of an accident, that it keeps repeating and reusing. Maybe the Swarmlord has some spark of a soul, and to have more than one running around risks a strange sort of Tyranid vs Hive Mind rebellion. If you think about it the Tyranids could be an enslaved race of primitive insectoids from a distant galaxy, bound to a great psychic mind that exists outside of the warp and chaos. This would also partially explain the shadow in the warp effect. Anyway rambling over.

Tastyfish
24-06-2013, 01:31
Yes but the Space Marines are human to an extent. They have inspiration, free thought, military advisers and lieutenants. The Tyrants don't have this. All they have is the implacable will of the Hive Mind driving them, and a faint shadow of this humanity. Maybe the Hive Mind cannot replicate this aspect of commanders, except in the genetic code of an accident, that it keeps repeating and reusing. Maybe the Swarmlord has some spark of a soul, and to have more than one running around risks a strange sort of Tyranid vs Hive Mind rebellion. If you think about it the Tyranids could be an enslaved race of primitive insectoids from a distant galaxy, bound to a great psychic mind that exists outside of the warp and chaos. This would also partially explain the shadow in the warp effect. Anyway rambling over.

I think it's an issue of speed, we know that even Astropathic communication isn't completely instantaneous so relying on the 'cloud' for your tactical decisions isn't going to cut it - hence the requirement for different level of leader beasts.
At the Swarmlord's level though, when confronted with an ingenious opponent, the traditional method breaks down. Your basic warrior is pretty smart, and your average Tyrant is an incredible general but to reach the next level they're too heavily reliant on dredging up past memories and experiences from their Hive fleet, or perhaps even nearby (ancestor) Fleets. They won't make a snap decision, or if they do it's a best guess based on what they've managed to receive so far (which is enough to cope with your run of the mill 'excellent' general - your Hannibals and Rommels, a far cry from the one in a billion generals that occasionally turn up out of the millions of IG officers and Astartes heroes). To defeat those guys, you need to start making use of your infinite resources in order to short change time - it's cheaper and easier to assemble copies of the enemies brain than it is to run through all the possibilities you think he might use, if you've got enough genetic material and cultural memories from his homeworld.

Swarmlords are kind of a sloppy answer to a difficult question, given time the Tyranids could probably properly formulate a response, but not in the timescales given - plenty of time to update your behavioural databases when the war is over.
In the mean time, the engineered intuition of the Swarm Lord is a decent counter to the best the prey species can throw at it - nightmare waiting to happen at the Hive fleet level though.