The Arch-Magos Callophe once studied the effects of human psykers upon the material world, but her research violated many of the Mechanicus’ most sacred precepts. In time, she was incinerated through Inquisitorial edict, but she had left behind a staggering number of empyric devices and an organized group of hereteks known as the Empyric Engineers.
One of Callophe’s most well-known developments was the psy-engine, a crude weapon capable of harnessing and directing the power of a number of disembodied psyker brains. Her followers also built ætheric resonators, weaponized frames that channeled Warp energy into vicious, crackling blades.
A psy-engine is a dread weapon: barely controlled, living psyker brains set within a weapon-housing and goaded by neuro-implants to blast foes with the power of the warp. The Callophean pattern consists of a lozenge-shaped central body and metre-long insulated director wand connected by flexible cabling. The psy-engine’s centre is a transparent housing just large enough to hold four psyker brains suspended in pinktinged gel, pierced by mechanisms and linked by fluid-tubes. The narrow edges of the psy-engine consist of clustered psyamplifiers, null-wards, and fluid support devices joined to the tormented brains within.
The psyker is a resource to be expended—this is an Imperial truth. But heretek Magi-Psykana go too far: forbidden gene-manipulation; neuro-active implants to induce and control psyker manifestation; and holding back psykers from the Imperial Tithe. Archmagos Callophe, incinerated in 583.M41 by Ordo Malleus forces, sought to eliminate the troublesome human element in her psyker resources. Her coven tended vats of pulsing, device-ridden psyker brains, all other flesh cut away and the minds within afflicted by a controllable form of blind insanity. Callophe was not the originator of this vile lore, but her name now attends it. Other hereteks practice it yet, harvesting the living brains of psykers to consign them to lives of sightless horror and madness.
Using the Psy-Engine
A militant warded against psychic overspill carries the director wand, whilst a servitor or expendable menial bears the weight of the psy-engine. When the militant triggers the psy-engine to attack, the maddened psykers within are goaded to strike at the closest target indicated by the wand (note that the Psy- Engine effectively never runs out of ammunition and never needs to be “reloaded”). When the wielder activates the Psy- Engine, roll on the following table:
The psy-engine ruptures under the strain and the tortured brains within expire in a psychic death scream. Roll three times on the Psychic Phenomena table.†
One of the encased psykers dies in agony, its protective null-wards burned out. Reduce the damage of future effects by 1d10. If this occurs for a second time, the psy-engine can no longer be used. Roll on the Psychic Phenomena table.†
The director wand fails: every living being and machine within 10 meters of the psyengine is engulfed in witch-fire and suffers 2d10+5 Energy damage. Roll on the Psychic Phenomena table.†
The null-wards and goad-implants flicker in their operation, and the psy-engine fails to operate. Roll on the Psychic Phenomena table.†
The insane psykers attack the machinery that torments them, but are restrained by the null-wards. The psy-engine fails to operate.
One target suffers 3d10+10 Energy damage as warp-lightning arcs from the director wand. Roll on the Psychic Phenomena table.†
Everything in a 10 meter sphere about the target in engulfed in witch-fire and suffers 2d10+5 Energy damage. Roll on the Psychic Phenomena table.†
One target suffers 3d10+10 Energy damage as warp-lightning arcs from the director wand.
Everything in a 10 meter sphere about the target in engulfed in witch-fire and suffers 2d10+5 Energy damage.
†The results of a roll on the Psychic Phenomena table are applied to the person closest to the psy-engine—usually the menial set to carry it—rather than the psyker brains inside. Their suffering is not so easily ended.
A psy-engine presents a continual danger to soul and sanity unless it is stored within a stasis field, the heavy psy-barriers of an Astropathica facility, or the like. The foaming, blind madness of the psykers within constantly seeps through the psy-engine’s null-wards, and anyone within 100 meters is afflicted by half-heard whispers, fleeting visions of horror, phantom pains, and strange urges. A few hours spent within 100 meters of an unshielded psy-engine requires a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test—failure inflicts 1 Insanity Point and 1 Corruption Point. This Test is repeated once per day for so long as the psy-engine remains nearby and unshielded.
Dangerous, unexplored ways exist to enhance a psy-engine. For example:
- A psyker can strive to control the insane minds within the psy-engine, adding a +10 bonus to rolls on the Effect Table while touching the psy-engine. He cannot use Psychic Powers of his own while concentrating upon this effort. Psychic Phenomena rolls made as a result of using the psy-engine apply to this psyker. Afterwards, the psyker must make a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test or gain 1d5 Insanity Points.
- Adding the psy-drug Spook to the psy-engine nutrient fluids adds a +10 bonus to rolls on the Effect Table and +25 to consequent rolls on the Psychic Phenomena table for 1d5 hours.
Basic, 100m, Special, PEN 0, WT 15kg, Cost 41000, Very Rare
The heretek Mechanicus faction known as the Empyric Engineers employs numerous device-patterns to turn the warp upon itself and annihilate daemons that transgress upon their labors. The oldest and most revered is the Empyric conduitblade, a sacred standard for these Machine Cult hereteks.
An adamantine mono-edged conduit-blade is a centerpiece in every Engineer shrine: inset field-guides of gold run the length of the blade, the hilt is a warp-mechanism, and at the base of the blade is a socket for a small null-field generator. Vast warp-machines stand within hidden strongholds of the Engineers, used to draw forth the essence of the empyrean and imprison it within null-field containments for study. Much smaller null-field generators are constructed for attachment to a conduit-blade; they look like glittering gems laced with circuitry, belying the danger of their contents. Inside, raging and incoherent, is raw warp-matter—without this imprisoned Empryic energy, a conduit-blade is no more than a symbol.
Empyric Discharge: the wielder can choose to discharge the null-field generator on a successful strike, allowing warp-stuff to foam out through the conduit-blade and into the target. This causes an additional 1d10 Energy Damage, or 2d10+5 Energy Damage to targets with the Daemonic Trait. Neither physical armour nor Daemonic toughness protects against this Damage. A non-Daemonic target gains 2d10 Corruption Points and 2d10 Insanity Points and will immediately mutate: roll once on the Major Mutations table and once on the Minor Mutations table. The conduit-blade’s wielder gains 1d5 Corruption Points, and everyone within 25m must make a Fear (2) Test as screaming visions of the warp briefly radiate from the blade and its victim.
A small null-field generator contains sufficient warp-matter for 1d10 Empyric Discharges. The generator is Very Rare, costs 17,000 Thrones, and weighs 1kg.
Melee, 1d10, R, PEN 2, Balanced, WT 3kg, Cost 45,000, Very Rare
An immateria ward is a form of null-field projector and machine spirit cogitation core intended for armor, portable shield-walls, and similar devices. Empyric Engineers who infuse the warp into their machinery are rarely insane---at the outset at least. They understand the need for protection from corrosive warp-energies, and so turn to heretekal archeotech lore concerned with creating machine spirits that can channel the warp.
Placed upon armour (to the accompaniment of long ritual and forging of the machine spirit) an immateria ward appears as a sigil within a circle, both shapes outlined by thin silver cables set into shallow channels. The null-field projector and cogitation core are hidden beneath the center of the sigil. The potent machine spirit within slumbers until it senses the presence of the warp; when it wakes to action, the silver cables smoke and glow with a purple mist of dissipated Empyric energies.
The Empyric Engineers have long granted immateria wards to allies as a form of compact---loyalty from the hereteks, and willingness to embrace Dark Tech from the ally. Thus the ward sigil has become a reviled symbol of the outcast Empyric Engineers in the eyes of loyal Mechanicus, such as militants of the Cult of Sollex, whose Magi direct Auxilia Myrmidon hunter-cohorts far and wide across the Calixis Sector to slay those who bear the sign of the heretek Empyric Engineers.
Mere association with the owner of an immateria ward bears a risk of death at the hands of the Machine Cult---or worse, a short life connected to the interrogation machinery of a Magos-militant.
Protections of an Immateria Ward
The machine spirit of an immateria ward protects its bearer by blocking up to 6 Corruption Points gained from direct exposure to warp material. This prevention occurs once for each exposure, but the ward has no effect on other sources of Corruption. Additionally, the ward blocks up to 6 points of Damage caused by a psyker power. An armor location set with an immateria ward provides an additional 6 Armor Points versus daemonic attacks, force weapons, and the Damage of pure warp-energies.
Cost 17,000, WT 1kg, Very Rare
A speculum umbrae is an intricate crystalline device formed of layer upon layer of circuitry arrayed like the petals of a flower---a piece of barely understood archeotech infused with warp-knowledge of the heretek Mechanicus Calixis faction of the Empyric Engineers. A handbreadth wide, it is much heavier than it looks and consumes power prodigiously.
The dead keep their secrets, but sometimes a Radical must have those secrets. At great risk to the soul, it is possible to summon shades of the dead via the dark arts of the Anima Mori; hereteks of the Empyric Engineers use the speculum umbrae device to achieve this end. When active, the speculum crackles with energy as it draws forth visions of madness and dead souls formed from particles of warp-matter. The sane heretek employs immateria wards and servitor labor-proxies to avoid direct exposure.
Commoners upon most Calixian worlds believe in ghosts: that the dead sometimes linger where they died, seeking vengeance or trapped by unfilled desires. Hive-world Ecclesiarchs preach against these beliefs and call ghosts the evidence of foul witchcraft. It is Calixian orthodoxy that all souls go before the God-Emperor---He protects, and no-one is overlooked. In contrast, Empyric Engineers assert that the empyrean records echoes of tormented death-throes and the mind that made them, ripples in the warp that drift across time to exert their influence upon the Materium.
Regardless, ghosts raised by the speculum umbrae are not who they were; they are hollow shells of souls, indistinctly formed of glowing warp-motes and filled out by the tides and evils of the empyrean. They may have the answer that a Radical seeks, or they may be screaming, glowing phantasms that try to possess the living. Only the strong-willed can stand before moaning warp-ghosts and compel answers to their questions.
Calling Upon the Dead
Activating the speculum requires a great deal of power. A tech-priest’s Luminen Charge is insufficient: more appropriate is the dedicated output of a manufactory plasma generator or orbital bulk-lifter’s enginarium. The Game Master should rule on the time, cost, and materials required to ready the speculum umbrae: bringing in power conduits, rerouting power flows, or using industrial capacitance cells. If a large energy store---such as a capacitance cell stack---is used in place of a generator or enginarium, then the speculum can only remain active for 2d10 Rounds before draining the store.
Once emplaced and powered, activating a speculum requires either a Very Hard (–30) Tech-Use, Difficult (–10) Forbidden Lore (Warp), or Ordinary (+10) Forbidden Lore (Archeotech) Test. If the Test succeeds, roll on the table below with a +10 bonus for every Degree of Success. Summoned shades remain for a few minutes at most before the Speculum’s hold over their substance fades. If shades appear, everyone within 25 meters of the Speculum gains 1d10 Corruption points from exposure to warp-motes, and the location becomes permanently warp-tainted---obviously haunted and cursed even for non-psykers.
Cost 60,000, WT 10kg, Very Rare