The Licenian Heresy
Imperial View of Technology
In our modern society, technology, innovation, and progress are intrinsically linked in our minds. This has not always been the case in our own history, and certainly is not the case in the 41st Millennium.
The Imperium of Man’s attitude toward technology is one of the hardest things for new players in this setting to fully grasp. We live with the confidence of knowing that our current level of technology is the highest it has ever been in the history of the human race. Further advancement lies ahead of us through innovation and new discoveries. Humanity in the 41st millennium, however, lives in the shadow of the Dark Age of Technology, a time in their distant past where mankind’s technological prowess was far superior to the technology of their time. All the energy we put into innovation they put into reclamation. Why bother inventing a thing if the ancients did it so much better? All that need be done is find some long-lost world, some fragment of the legendary Standard Template Construct, that will bring into the fold of human knowledge great and long-lost power.
The Imperium of Man is fundamentally conservative. They look to the past, to tradition, to guide their lives. Old is good, new is suspect. Technology, it’s creation, use, and maintenance, are trade secrets held by an exclusive organization, the Adeptus Mechanicus. They hold a monopoly on technology and are understandably jealous of it. They cloak its use in occult mysticism to occlude and protect it from the masses. Every machine has a spirit that must be kept happy lest the machine break down. Innovation, alteration, these risk warping or tainting a machine spirit and are therefore abominations. Tried and true designs taken from the STC blueprints of the ancients are the only pure manifestation of technology. Furthermore, the technology of the far future is so complex that only the most cogitator-enhanced Tech-Magi can really fully understand it. Most Tech-Priests maintain and operate their devices through elaborate rote rituals that act as esoteric maintenance checklists. In this way, relatively unskilled individuals can operate and maintain ancient devices without needing to understand entirely HOW they work.
But what of the common people of the Imperium? Hive worlders live in massive mega-cities that simply could not exist if not for highly advanced technology. How does one live one’s entire life surrounded by technology and still not know how it works?
It’s quite simple, really. We do it all the time. Think of a 747 aircraft. Few of us know how to build one. Few of us know how they’re maintained. Few of us have any idea how to operate it. Many of us make use of them trusting fully to the specialists that DO know how to make, maintain, and operate them. Humanity in the 41st millennium uses technology all the time in the way we use air-travel, or our computers, or the air-conditioning in our office high-rises. Most of us have no idea how the technology that fills our world works, we just know how to operate it. The technology in the 41st millennium may be far more advanced than what we have now, but it’s all template-built, crafted for-purpose, and fairly standardized. Your Imperial Guardsman doesn’t have to understand the exact mechanics of HOW his standard-issue lasgun works, he just knows how to make it do what it’s supposed to do (often after a rote prayer to its machine spirit, particularly if he REALLY needs to shoot that guy over there). If something breaks, you call in a Tech-Priest specialist to fix it. Most consumer-technology in the 41st millennium is built to be easy for normal people to use, and is built to last. With the proper maintenance rituals, a well-crafted weapon could last for thousands of years and maintain full functionality.