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Imperium Communication Examples?


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#1
Mileposter

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Another one of my silly projects involves simulating long-range communication between Imperium outposts - think world to world or capital ship to station style messages.

Are there in-universe examples of this style of communication? How does it LOOK? What kind of language do they use? The only lore example I have access to / knowledge of is the brief messaging back and forth at the beginning of the Space Marine video game. How consistent is this portrayal to other lore representations?

I'd like to make this project look appropriate.
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#2
Bryan Blaire

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Anything interstellar generally involves the use of an astropathic choir to send “visual” telepathic messages that must be interpreted by the receiver on the next point in the message relay or sending a ship. Even in system, I get the impression that Astropaths relay interplanetary messages.

In system between ships or for “ship to shore”, I’ve always had the impression that they use some kind of tight beam laser digital communication or actual transmitted vox signal in Gothic. I’m fairly certain this is one of those things that is purposefully left vague.
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#3
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Wasn't there a transmission at the beginning of one of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels, where a doomed long range scout discovers a bunch of Chaos raiders? If I am not mistaken, the scout boat manages to partially relay an important message before getting blown to ash...


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#4
Leonaides

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That was astropathic iirc.

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#5
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This is one of my weird 40k thoughts lately...

Either the Imperium must have widespread translator tech like in Star Trek, or long distance communications would have to be either in High Gothic or pictographic/emotive. It's been established that High Gothic is used as the sort of state language of the Imperium and that makes sense, provided it's monitored to avoid any linguistic drift. Otherwise it would be nearly impossible to communicate across worlds. Atrophic pictographic communication also makes sense, even though it's much more open to interpretation.

Say a world across the segmentum needs to send a message to you on your world: Send Reinforcements, Orks Attacking, Outlook Grim. It only makes sense in High Gothic because local vernacular would likely drown out the meaning entirely. "Need Help, Green Aliens Assaulting, Things are Bad" would still get the point across. However "Need a Scoopling, Hollerers Inbound, We're Hosed" only makes sense in you know the local history of Sgt. Thaddius Scoopling's heroic rescue of besieged forces, that the locals call Orks Hollerers because they yell when attacking, and that hosed is a bad thing. So I would imagine verbal messaging would be as succinct and to the point as it can be made, to prevent errors in understanding. Astropathically, I'd imagine they are trained in possible meanings of common images. A red globe with green above and gold below could commonly mean "World in Danger (red globe), Attack (above) by Orks (green, or something simply representing Xenos), Reinforcements Needed (below, gold signifying the Emperor's forces). It would be better in some cases because it would remove linguistic hurdles, but worse because there would be no way of ensuring a 100% accuracy rate, which would only get worse as the message got more complex.

Anyway, thanks for reading my long and rambling thoughts. I'm not sure how much of it is backed up by fluff, but it seems logical enough to me.
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#6
Raven1

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@Kinstryfe, i would suppose that messages sent from Astropath to Astropath need less translation as its more or less directly connecting the neurological passages. Whereas "official" communication is done in Gothic of somesort and there would be at least officials of the government that would know the official language and the local variety.

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#7
Lord_Caerolion

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It's kinda weird, really. What the fluff usually says, and is shown in some novels (ADB's books, the Carcharadon series, etc), is that interstellar communication is done essentially via "dream sequences", where an astropath will transmit the basic meaning of the message, couched in metaphor and thus open to interpretation, rather than hard and fast messages. As Kinstryfe mentioned, this can mean that things can be misinterpreted, but it's somewhat implied that this is at least partially what the training of astropaths involves, learning a kind of "shared dream metaphor" language.

In this case, with the example given, a request for aid against Ork invaders could be sent as images of a city under siege, with fires burning at the gates, and screams of "Waaagh!" heard coming from the darkness. It could show a land being washed over by a literal "green tide", flooding the landscape and drowning the inhabitants.

 

Other books, on the other hand, show astropathic communication as basically interstellar fax machines, where you tell a psyker a message, and it gets received verbatim at the other end of the exchange. This doesn't really make much sense, in regards to what we're told of how psykers work, you even get novels like the Eisenhorn series, in which astropathic messages even contain "header information" like emails, in which the main characters can use to track which astropathic nodes the message travelled through, and eventually find the sender.

I'm not particularly a fan of this portrayal. It tends to get used when someone needs to show an Administratum report, or something along those lines.

 

Really though, the best way to get communications to elsewhere, is to send someone there to deliver it themselves. Personally, that's how I see the Administratum working. Astrotelepathy is great for shouting warnings, or giving general updates, notifying others of incoming reinforcements ("the Raven Guard are coming to reinforce you against the Ork invaders" being sent as imagery of a void-black raven swooping down onto a green beast and clawing at its eyes, for example). It's not so great for sending tithing information, or transmitting the detailed investigations of an Inquisitor. That stuff gets delivered by hand, the good old fashioned way.


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#8
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Holo displays on ships are also sometimes remarked as being instantaneous for in-system communication, through "technology the mechanicum cannot replicate" of course.
Think the star wars shaky hologram messages.
But, it's basically tied to line of sight and (relativley) short range of the solar system your in.

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#9
Lexington

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3rd Ed material is really good for this - the rulebook and Codexes told a lot of their narrative through astropathic communiques. As said above, they had the quality of a fax or email, direct messages seemingly dictated, with header information and all. Not actually sure where the “dream”-style of Astropathic communications came from, actually, but it seems new by comparison.
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#10
Mileposter

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Is an example of this "header information" ever shown anywhere? Since the project I'm attempting to build for is visual, some references are awesome.

That goes for the communications themselves too - the only example I have is the Space Marine opening. Other visuals (or literal descriptives, in the case of novels) would really point me in the right direction.

Based on what little I have seen, it seems that both the extremely interpretive and the extremely accurate types of communication exists. What I have seen does not, however, mention weather each type can reach certain distances.
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#11
karden00

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Let’s not forget the lithocast (iirc that’s what it was called?) that Guilliman stepped into in KNF to talk to Lorgar and the senior leadership of the WB. It was described as something that was operating in system and showed Lorgar with remarkable likeness, and was real-time.

'Lorgar has his own battles to fight, Erebus,' replied Horus sharply. 'Should he fail at Calth, all this will be for nothing if Guilliman's Legion is allowed to intervene.
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#12
N1SB

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Based on what little I have seen, it seems that both the extremely interpretive and the extremely accurate types of communication exists. What I have seen does not, however, mention weather each type can reach certain distances.

 

Distance actually matters to Astropaths, it turns out.  It's mentioned sporadically across different Big Rule Books and Codices, and novels (and the RPG books).

 

Telepathic messages usually ripple outwards from their origin point; the further out it is, the weaker it gets.  SOME Astropaths CAN focus their messages to go a particular direction, to a particular person, but that is the exception, not the norm.  And the Telepathica DOES have a way to deal with this...

 

The lore does deal with the PRACTICAL considerations.  Astropathic Choirs exist to mentally broadcast messages more LOUDLY, to make the message go further.  Then there are Astropaths trained as Receivers, to better "hear" and understand the message, and they're constantly concentrating on "listening".  For longer distances, Astropaths do have a Relay System, where a Choir would "sing" as loud as they could to reach ANOTHER Choir.  So you can see how they deal with distance; it really is a game of Chinese Whispers, the Relay System being integral to the whole idea of Astrpathic communication.

 

(We encountered a situation with an Astropath in a Dark Heresy game and the GM presented the day-in-the-life-of really well.  For us, players/people, we are simply waiting for a message relating to our own narrative.  For an Astropath, he's constantly bombarded by a tirade of messages, some of which meant for his world, but most are just for him to pass on down the Relay.  As a result, there's some stuff he would much rather unsee, and his face is wracked by a look of constant disgust.)

 

Visually, the most consistent trope IMHO is that of an Astropathic Choir "singing" or "chanting" the message OR an Astropath Receiver "listening".  To sell the idea, I would put the figure in some sort of amphitheatre (perhaps even a stage) for the "singers" or domed antechamber for meditation purposes for the "listeners", etc.

 

+++++

 

EDIT due to additional thought...

 

Just another visual cue (from the aforementioned Dark Heresy game), there was an interesting detail in OUR specific case (so it's not mentioned in the lore, just a really interesting idea for visual representation of Astropaths).  The Astropath Receiver would PAINT canvas paintings of the messages, constantly, because there's all these messages going through.

 

The GM of that RPG made our introduction to the Astropath a little horror-film like, "You enter a domed antechamber...it looks like a private chapel at first, then you realise there are paintings all along the walls, beautiful masterpieces each.  You see the painter working furiously, ignoring you.  As you approach, you see his face...and he has no eyes (because he's an Astropath).

 

So to take the Astropath Receiver example above, in his domed antechamber, I would imagine him standing in the middle of the room, tormented by the constant flood of messages, surrounded by terrible yet beautiful paintings of what he's seen, with a Servitor picking up a painting to bring it to the Choir to further relay.  This would be a great diorama tbh.


Edited by N1SB, 16 May 2018 - 03:05 AM.

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#13
Lexington

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The header info shows up in lots of the old 2nd/3rd Ed books, but I don’t know of any online. Here’s an example I did recently that’s based off of the formula from those books, tho:

++++Transmitted: Johnseh Reach Research Station
+++++++Received: Gehenna Prime
++++Destination: Karteg’s World
+++++++++++Date: 3799984.M41
Telepathic Duct: Astropath-terminus Belphagor
++++++++++++Ref: Aeth/20486211/RV
+++++++++Author: Interrogator Cardoc Io, Theta Class
Encryption Type: CIIX5-802b.237

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#14
Lord_Caerolion

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3rd Ed material is really good for this - the rulebook and Codexes told a lot of their narrative through astropathic communiques. As said above, they had the quality of a fax or email, direct messages seemingly dictated, with header information and all. Not actually sure where the “dream”-style of Astropathic communications came from, actually, but it seems new by comparison.

 

I believe it's been mentioned in several rulebooks, and definitely in the most recent one, where it states that "psychics are as likely to work in abstract pictures and emotions as they are in words." I swear there was an earlier source that stated that astropathic communication was done exclusively through metaphor, as it's far easier to send (much harder for the Warp to change a single letter here and there and radically change the meaning of the message).


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#15
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Yeah, I’m sure it’s around, just not sure when that happened - lots of older material just makes Astropathy seem more mundane. Could also be that it’s always been there, but didn’t really work with what was being done at the time, so the older background was ignored for the sake of setting the proper tone. 40K often works that way.
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#16
Lord_Caerolion

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Too true. I think it's one of those things that's brought out when trying to show the Imperium as a barely-coherent empire, or to show the dangers of the Warp, and then forgotten when the Imperium needs to have functioning interstellar communication, rather than every astropathic communication sent by the Administratum just featuring the images of an accountant and a guy buried under a massive pile of taxation forms. "Sir, the astropath just started screaming about an 'eye heiress' watching over us and reaching for a wallet decorated in the flag of our planet." "Oh, it's tithe-time already? We've already sent it. Tell the astropath to send back an image of a slip of paper being placed into a ship sailing towards a palace".


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#17
Azekai

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I kind of like the idea of astropathy not being any one method of psychic transmission of information. It might be mad fever dreams of dying worlds, or it could be mind numbing streams of data and reports. I imagine that since the galaxy is incredibly big, that there is some room for both. In addition to distance, there could be a host of other variables that could explain the different methods of astropathy- mental fortitude, training, level of warp interference, choral sanctity (no bad eggs!), ect. 

Space Marine chapters vary enormously. Why then should the psykers of the Astra Telepathica 'think' homogeneously all across the galaxy?


Edited by Azekai, 16 May 2018 - 07:09 AM.

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#18
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Because the astropaths are all trained by a central organization, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica? Same reason that Commissars all dress the same (well, different organization for them, but the point still stands). The Soul Binding could also have some effect on it too.


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#19
Azekai

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Because the astropaths are all trained by a central organization, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica? Same reason that Commissars all dress the same (well, different organization for them, but the point still stands). The Soul Binding could also have some effect on it too.

Perhaps, but there is no reason it has to work that way.

At any rate, training is still only one variable, and there is little to indicate that the education offered by the Astra Telepathica is the same for all. In fact, there are examples of different organizations/roles within the Astra Telepathica, such as the Cryptaesthesians.

Having everything have to work the same way seems silly, no matter which rendition you go with; neither surrealist automatism or precision psychic accounting make for a very appealing galactic standard.  After all, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small blunts.


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#20
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Another one of my silly projects involves simulating long-range communication between Imperium outposts - think world to world or capital ship to station style messages.

Are there in-universe examples of this style of communication? How does it LOOK? What kind of language do they use? The only lore example I have access to / knowledge of is the brief messaging back and forth at the beginning of the Space Marine video game. How consistent is this portrayal to other lore representations?

I'd like to make this project look appropriate.

 

Read 'The Outcast Dead' by McNeill.

 

Words are hard to send, so messages usually go as images, icons or whatever that are easier to send and receive, but are then open to interpretation. Kind of like the pre-cogs in Minority Report, if most astropaths agree, they choose that interpretation. 

 

Also, there's some 'projection' in Raven's flight (I think), where the guard commander on Deliverance is receiving some subliminal psychic communion from Corax on Istvaan.


Edited by Xenith, 16 May 2018 - 12:59 PM.

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#21
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The discrepancy between how Atropath communication is described in various sources (sending dreamlike images and emotions) and haw the actual messages are shown in the lore ('fax-messages' as someone here said rather eloquently) is rather striking.

 

However, who knows how an astropath codes relevant data in his messages? I always assumed that even if the Atropath doesn't use literal words as a message, he probably translates words into symbols, visions, sights, sounds and even smells that the receiving Atropath needs to decipher to get the actual message.

 

Much like a telegraph operator can transmit a message using short and long beeps over a telegraph. The Astropath does the same, but by using all his senses. 


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#22
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Something not yet mentioned is that it's entirely possible that the header information is an administrative addition by a scribe rather than something the receiver records themselves. An email, for example, isn't much good unless you know who sent it and when it was sent in order to determine relevancy and authenticity.
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#23
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Thank you all so much for the information - and the discussion as well. This has influenced the project dramatically.

I do wonder - the scribes for these communications, they would type the messages up? Or would a servitor simply transcribe them? Or is it likely that both happen in different places?

Final question: since the description here differs so dramatically from the one in-universe example I had (the referenced opening to Space Marine), what IS that an example of? It certainly looks like there's some communication happening, but is it possible that it's simply an internal dialog of a servitor or some such?

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#24
Bryan Blaire

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When you ask about a scribe typing them up, or a servitor simply transcribing them, do you mean inside an astropathic chamber?

I think the method would change based on how the location is set up. Some might have a servitor or scribe in the chamber, while other locations might have the astropath need to leave to find a scribe, or the astropath writes it down (or even paint it out, as someone suggested) and they take that directly to who needs to get it in an emergency, or it’s taken to a scribe for distribution on a planet. It seems like it would vary based on what resources are available wherever the astropath is.

Having never played Space Marine, I’d have to know more of what you are referring to before making a guess, but I would say that because the lore is interpretable/left open for personal sandboxing, what do you want to represent the communication method as?
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#25
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Thank you all so much for the information - and the discussion as well. This has influenced the project dramatically.

I do wonder - the scribes for these communications, they would type the messages up? Or would a servitor simply transcribe them? Or is it likely that both happen in different places?
 

Very short answer: yes happy.png

 

Seriously though, there is rarely anything in the Imperium that is can be considered uniform (even STC technology, hence the various 'patterns' of supposedly identical tech). So while astropaths generally work in choirs to boost their powers for sending and receiving, how that choir looks like and functions depends on its location, its importance, the tech level of the planet, and the eccentricities of the many Astropaths that once served there.

 

Moreover, they have to deal with the Warp for communicating, which is notoriously difficult to get reproducibly reliable results from. So it is likely each Astropath is generally given some leeway to find a method that he feels most comfortable with and produces the best results. So if he works best by focussing on receiving a signal without being bothered by the chore of writing down his visions, a scribe or servitor may write down his words. On the other hand, if the Astropath feels he can best focus by writing down himself whatever he receives, then that is possible too. It is even likely that on planets with a high tech level there are Astropaths with brain implants that record his thoughts and visions on a cogitator as he receives them. Chances that even after receiving the message and recording it (in whatever way he chooses) the Astropath will spend some time to decipher the meaning of the visions.

 

Note that the most senior Astropath on the choir is the choirmaster, whose methods will probably be the methods the other Astropaths attempt to employ as they serve on the choir, mastering the Choirmaster's methods as they gain experience.


Edited by QuantumCollider, 16 May 2018 - 07:44 PM.

"...Though every basic Ork (see ref. 'boy') has an animalistic cunning on par with most apex level predators, generally even alpha-level specimens (see ref. 'Warboss') have sub-par intelligence at best. When confronted with simple calculus problems Orks typically  respond with both confusion and agression (see ref. specimen 89230-Kappa. ADDENDUM: Tech-Adept Haagen is expected to make a 87% recovery, with most of his limbs eligible for reattachment. Removal of the abacus from the biological parts of his digestive system has been deemed impractical)." 

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