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View Full Version : Of the Webway, A Power Source, and Freeman Dyson



Slaaneshi Slave
07-05-2007, 06:25
The following is pure speculation with nothing canonical to back it up.

There are very few things we know about the Webway, but one of the things we can assume is that it requires vast amounts of energy to operate and maintain. But where does this energy come from? The obvious answer is that it draws it from the Warp itself, but this holds grave dangers (Daemonic infiltration etc). I have started piecing together a theory as to how Pre-Fall Eldar civilisation powered the expansion of the Webway, and why it cannot be done anymore. This same theory has the benifit of adding to the aloofness of the race.

Firstly, a quote from Wikipedia on Dyson Spheres (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere) (closest source to hand, as usual).

A Dyson sphere (or shell as it appeared in the original paper) is a hypothetical megastructure that was originally described by Freeman Dyson as a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely encompass a star and capture its entire energy output. Dyson speculated that such structures would be the logical consequence of the long-term survival of technological civilizations, and proposed that searching for evidence of the existence of such structures might lead to the detection of advanced intelligent extraterrestrial life.

Since then, other variant designs involving building an artificial structure or a series of structures to encompass a star have been proposed in exploratory engineering or described in science fiction under the name Dyson sphere. Most fictional depictions of a Dyson sphere describe a solid shell of matter enclosing a star (see diagram at right), which is considered the least plausible variant of the idea.

A solid Dyson Shell is very Eldar, in my humble opinion. But a psychic Dyson Shell? A field of psychic energy projected by a choir of Eldar Seers around a system to absorb and redirect all emisions from the star (also bumping them up to a Class II civilisation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale)). This would provide for the massive energy requirements of the Eldar and their webway, without the huge technological power generators / Dyson Shells of other races. The Psychic Dyson Shell also has the added benifit of shrouding the system from outside observation to all but the most dedicated search, as no light, radiation or signals would escape.

Of course, if the Eldar lost all their Dyson Shells during the fall, why didn't the Webway collapse? It is! You have to remember that the Eldar civilisation has been up and running for nigh on 60 million years, so th webway would have a significant amount of energy stored within its tunnels, slowly being drained. As the energy levels drop the smaller passage collapse entirely, and the larger passages begin to shrink, thus explaining why Craftworlds no longer fit through most of the tunnels.

A new Psychic Dyson Shell would be much too dangerous for the Eldar to recreate, as it would require long periods of time channeling the warp, which leaves them wide open to possesion or worse. The recreation of a new one though could be the goal of an entire craftworld, and if it wer possible to make a new one it would give hope to the entire Eldar race.

Charax
07-05-2007, 07:04
I would have thought that the Webway would be powered by either ambient psychic energy from the material universe or it would siphon small amounts of energy from the Warp - after all, the Warp contains energy in several orders of magnitude higher than the output of a number of suns in their entire lifetimes, and Eldar technology is lergely based on manipulating that energy anyway.

It also makes very little sense to me that the Eldar would power one of their greatests assets through the food source of their enemies - what would happen if, when the C'tan awoke, they ate a sun used as part of the Webway power system? Not only would they gain energy from it, the sudden and unexpected loss of power could fracture and cripple whole sections of the webway.

This liability, combined with the Eldar focus on psionic power sources and the lack of any mention of any kind of psychic Dyson Sphere, lead me to believe that your idea is highly unlikely. Then again, you are speculating on pre-Fall Eldar technology, which has gaps big enough for Dyson shells to fit.

MadDoc
07-05-2007, 07:24
Uh, wasn't the webway created by the Old Ones? :eyebrows: The Eldar just happen to have technology to access it (being one of the favoured creations of the Old Ones). At least thats what I took to be the case. *shrug*

Nothing to see here... *whistles and wanders off*

MD

Messiah
07-05-2007, 07:45
Whatever way the webway is powered, a psychic Dyson sphere is an interesting idea. How many psychers would it take to encompass an entire system? And would they have to? If they position the "shell" just outside the star itself, the radius would only have to be a little bigger than the star itself. However, that would mean living in a constant nighttime if they are on a planet in the same system (i.e. the same as on a craftworld), and no stealth around the entire system (though stealthing the star itself is a pretty good way of not being seen). Interesting.

Slaaneshi Slave
07-05-2007, 10:56
I would have thought that the Webway would be powered by either ambient psychic energy from the material universe or it would siphon small amounts of energy from the Warp - after all, the Warp contains energy in several orders of magnitude higher than the output of a number of suns in their entire lifetimes, and Eldar technology is lergely based on manipulating that energy anyway.

The warp has been unstable ever since the end of the War in Heaven and the Enslaver Plague, which makes drawing power directly from the warp a dangerious subject, even more so during the lead up to the Fall (several million years, I would imagine, for so much psychic energy to build up in the warp for a God to be born).


It also makes very little sense to me that the Eldar would power one of their greatests assets through the food source of their enemies - what would happen if, when the C'tan awoke, they ate a sun used as part of the Webway power system? Not only would they gain energy from it, the sudden and unexpected loss of power could fracture and cripple whole sections of the webway.

You forget that the C'tan were not around for about 60 million years (give or take a millenia or two) of the Eldars existance. Besides, the Eldar are arrogant of their own prowess, especially at the height of their power when they had weapons to do anything. C'Tan shows up? Blast him and the star system he is standing in with an oversized, overpowered Distort Cannon.


This liability, combined with the Eldar focus on psionic power sources and the lack of any mention of any kind of psychic Dyson Sphere, lead me to believe that your idea is highly unlikely. Then again, you are speculating on pre-Fall Eldar technology, which has gaps big enough for Dyson shells to fit.

It is a psychic power source, and a hell of a lot safer than draining that much power directly from the warp. Also, there is a lack of any information pertaining to pre-Fall Eldar technology, all we know is it was orders of magnitude greater than anything they have now


Uh, wasn't the webway created by the Old Ones? :eyebrows: The Eldar just happen to have technology to access it (being one of the favoured creations of the Old Ones). At least thats what I took to be the case. *shrug*

Nothing to see here... *whistles and wanders off*

MD

The One Ones created the first Webway system, but the Eldar perfected it. I think the Old Ones were the masters of psychic powers, but the Eldar are/were masters of psychic technology.

Rockerfella
07-05-2007, 11:28
Originally Posted by MadDoc
Uh, wasn't the webway created by the Old Ones? The Eldar just happen to have technology to access it (being one of the favoured creations of the Old Ones). At least thats what I took to be the case. *shrug*

Nothing to see here... *whistles and wanders off*

MD



The One Ones created the first Webway system, but the Eldar perfected it. I think the Old Ones were the masters of psychic powers, but the Eldar are/were masters of psychic technology.

Correct answer!!

Its well documented that the original webway was a rudimentary and basic construct (in comparison to the webway of today) designed and built by the old ones. The Eldar were able to take this gift from the old ones and turn it into something greater and infinitely more complex and effecient than it previously was.

Cheers.

Kage2020
09-05-2007, 21:18
Hmmn... a "psychic Dyson sphere" seems rather brute force way around it, in my mind at least. But, well, whatever twiddles your biscuit.

Kage

Slaaneshi Slave
09-05-2007, 21:20
Brute force? Nah, a brute force way around it is a giant steel sphere... :p

Kage2020
09-05-2007, 21:26
There are obvious degrees of scale issues... ;) Personally I don't see a problem with the 'power' of the Webway so as to require "psychic Dyson spheres". It just seems a bit... off for the Eldar, for some reason. Then again, one images that some of the n-dimensional tunnels links through stars. In fact, I have a hazy memory of the 'fluff' mentioning the possibility.

Again, though, that's just me. I also have a tendency of having the Webway extract 'power' from those that traverse it, the portals, etc.

Kage

Slaaneshi Slave
09-05-2007, 21:29
Having some sort of power source which is no longer accessable (such as my Dyson Spheres) answers a lot of questions, such as why its collapsing, why some parts are shrinking etc.

Kage2020
09-05-2007, 23:42
If you say so. Of course, the fact that it would be reasonable to hypothesise that the Eldar would be able to set it up as a "set effect", thus not requiring the constant input of psykers (read: a variation on the Astronomican Theme). That and from a personal point of view - that is, just me - I think that it reinforces both the "dying race" Theme a bit too much (yet again!) as well as just the general Golden Age Doctrine...). Again, that's just me.

As to why it is collapsing, or shrinking? Well, I would personally argue that such approaches are rather extreme. That it was damaged during the Fall is clear. I just don't think that translates to the fact that it is decaying (i.e. Golden Age Doctrine once more). Sure, it's the Theme but that's hackneyed.

Of course, it clearly comes down to preference. Static Theme versus Dynamic Interpretation. That and the above would be a rather convenient way to hide ones systems from outside interference, observation, etc., etc. :D

Kage

Mr_Smiley
10-05-2007, 06:46
You forget that the C'tan were not around for about 60 million years (give or take a millenia or two) of the Eldars existance. Besides, the Eldar are arrogant of their own prowess, especially at the height of their power when they had weapons to do anything. C'Tan shows up? Blast him and the star system he is standing in with an oversized, overpowered Distort Cannon.

If I remember correctly the C'tan have been around since the first stars were formed, well before the Old Ones, let alone the Eldar came into existence. Or have I misunderstood what you're trying to say?

Slaaneshi Slave
10-05-2007, 18:07
The C'Tan are indeed amongst the oldest forms of life (nowhere near the oldest sentient forms though, they were not sentient until the Necrontyr stuck them inside a Necrodermis), but they hibernated for 60,000,000 years or so after the end of the War in Heaven.

Mr_Smiley
11-05-2007, 01:54
The C'Tan are indeed amongst the oldest forms of life (nowhere near the oldest sentient forms though, they were not sentient until the Necrontyr stuck them inside a Necrodermis), but they hibernated for 60,000,000 years or so after the end of the War in Heaven.

Where are they described as being non-sentient in their non-corporeal form?

Sybaronde
11-05-2007, 04:15
In the earlier bits of the Codex Necron's fluff section. Basically their 'form' didn't allow for much conscious thought, so they were basically like a fungal infection in a sun or something like that. But as soon as they entered a necrodermis... well, the War in the Heaven started.

Mr_Smiley
11-05-2007, 05:05
The Necron Codex says:

the Necrontyr found a sentience more ancient than any corporeal lifeform in creation, beings of pure energy that had spawned in the birth of stars themselves.

That says to me that they were sentient. It goes on to say:

their consciousness to vast to comprehend

That says to me, they were already quite intelligent and already had an understanding of the Universe.

Now this is all just my understanding of what I am reading, but that all says to me the C'tan always were sentient and intelligent.

Kage2020
11-05-2007, 13:47
If you want a sci-fi/fantasy interpretation of the C'tan, perhaps the best one that I've ever found is a variation of the appropriately named 'Dragon' from A Attannasio's The Dragon and the Unicorn. Definitely food for the imagination and, I freely admit it, this biases my own interpretation of the C'tan when trying to make them a bit less... chessey.

Kage

Sybaronde
11-05-2007, 16:24
Now this is all just my understanding of what I am reading, but that all says to me the C'tan always were sentient and intelligent.

But apparently still really oblivious to the 'mortal' world.

Kage2020
11-05-2007, 21:28
Well, nothing surprising there, though. Just check out the above reference, Stross' Drinking Midnight Wine and other similar stories. The mighty and removed deities often have difficulty in communicating with the 'mortals'...

Kage

Slaaneshi Slave
11-05-2007, 21:30
Why would they want to communicate with "meat" (http://www.terrybisson.com/meat.html) anyway? :p