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Grades of quality above "regular"


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#1
b1soul

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Master-crafted, artificer, relic, [others?]

How do these grades of quality compare to each other?

I understand relic just means old...so a standard power sword or a custom-made, top-quality power sword fashioned in the Great Crusade, Horus Heresy (or even a later period like the Scouring or War of the Beast) would be considered relic items.

Master-crafted and artificer sound like synonyms though from a fluff perspective.

#2
Triszin

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archaeo is high up, no?


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#3
Lord_Caerolion

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Master-crafted/artificer just mean very well made, not necessarily old, although given it's the Imperium they often are quite old as well. Relic just means old (and usually important), but given how Imperial tech is, older does usually equal better.

 

Archaeotech is basically just High Gothic for "even older than Relic", in that it usually predates the Imperium entirely.


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#4
Panzer

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Master-crafted/artificer just mean very well made, not necessarily old, although given it's the Imperium they often are quite old as well. Relic just means old (and usually important), but given how Imperial tech is, older does usually equal better.

 

Archaeotech is basically just High Gothic for "even older than Relic", in that it usually predates the Imperium entirely.

 

^this

 

Master-crafted = well-made weapons

Artificier = well-made armour

Relic = old and usually well-made whatever. Since it's so old and and well-made it got used by some great names so got some stories to tell and got a fancy name too.

Archaeotech = super old and basically at least partially unknown how it works but it does work well so it gets used


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#5
Lord_Caerolion

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Other thing to keep in mind is that archaeotech also has the added weirdness of sometimes being now used for a different purpose than originally designed for. Grav guns (or maybe graviton weaponry), I think, were originally designed as mining tools that eventually got repurposed as weapons.


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#6
MegaVolt87

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There is custom stuff as well that isn't much different from stock. Like power armor made from teminator parts because the SM is too swole for regular issue power armor.
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#7
apologist

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Interesting question. I'd suggest that the in-game use of terms doesn't necessarily match to what an in-universe observer would use; and even where it does, there's a huge grey area. 

 

In general terms, I'd suggest archeotech isn't so much a guide to quality as the other terms. As pointed out above, it – usually – simply labels something as being of pre-Imperial human origin; and usually irreplaceable because the means to create it are lost or forbidden (i.e. non-STC). The quality of it is hugely variable, as these tend to be poorly-understood one-offs, or from a cache that's carefully hoarded.

 

We then turn to Imperial materials. These are the things, from chainswords to boltguns to power armour to conversion beamers, that can be replicated. Usually (but not always) STC-derived, the Adeptus Mechanicus understand how to create these from scratch. Most are manufactured by the Adeptus Mechanicus themselves on Forgeworlds, but since the instructions on how to build them are understood, non-Mechanicus personnel can be trained to manufacture them (under license, and with the supervision of the techpriests) in bulk, as with tanks and lasguns on hiveworlds like Armageddon and Necromunda; or boltguns and power armour in Chapter forges.

 

A typical Astartes Chapter forge is staffed by slaves, servitors or helots who churn out things like boltgun shells and replacement parts for armour – though even this is implied to be heavily ritualised, more akin to mediaeval scribes copying manuscript pages than a modern munitions factory. The most skillful of these are the artificers – more practised and capable than the other slaves, and granted some freedom.

 

Overseeing the 'staff' are the Techpriests – the Techmarines. These are examples of the master-craftsmen, who can not only follow the holy writ of manufacture as accurately as the artificers, but can also see connections and innovate. 

 

This 'quality level' also intermingles with the in-universe concept of machine-spirits. This concept has been muddied in more recent background, as some machine spirits are suggested to be akin to AI, but the original background was much more evasive. The implication was that machine spirits was something in between Roman lares and penates (i.e. a ghost or animating spirit of a place or thing) and the relationship a gearhead has with his motorbike.

 

+ Practical +

To put this into context, consider a boltgun. On the one hand, we have the cheap and nasty ones churned out on a hiveworld in huge numbers, destined for hive Enforcers, Imperial guard officers and the like. These are akin to a cheap digital watch; stamped out on an assembly line, assembled in parts by trained workers, and then blessed/passed by a supervising techpriest. When damaged, they are replaced, or jury-rigged back into service by an Enginseer in the field. I'd suggest a typical Imperial Guardsman would go through the blessings by rote, rather than through religious fervour. He might blame himself for insufficient piety if it jams, but the relationship between man and boltgun is more akin to how we, as modern people, would see a weapon – as a tool.

 

On a quality scale above that are Astartes boltguns, built within the Chapter forges. Customised to a particular Astartes bearer, these boltguns are more akin to a tailor-made suit. Built with better materials and hand-assembled, they will be inspected and passed/blessed by a Techmarine or Master of the Forge. Culturally indoctrinated to believe that the boltgun is as much a spiritual gift as a tool, the Space Marine will tend and clean the weapon as a religious observance, and have his personal helots keep it in good working order. When damaged, he will take it to the forge to be carefully repaired by a specialised forge-helot, using new parts from the forge. Over time, the Space Marine and boltgun will become better attuned – reinforcing the idea that there is a 'machine spirit' that the Space Marine needs to placate and trust. 

 

For particularly important figures like officers, an Artificer, rather than a helot, may supply the replacement parts and do the repair. The parts will be a better quality (higher tolerances, better craftsmanship), and perhaps highly decorated. This again reinforces the idea of a machine spirit, as the better quality materials mean the officer's abilities with his weapon improve. As with the Ship of Theseus, this weapon, which is now what we'd call an artificer boltgun in-game, remains the officer's original boltgun and – crucially – retains the machine spirit of the weapon. Having been well-treated, the machine spirit rewards the officer with greater skill and accuracy (or so it appears to him). The boltgun may now look very different; gilded and chased with jewels; inscribed with prayers for the marine's fellows, or curses on their enemies; and perhaps finished with a purity seals.

 

Imagine next that the officer's weapon is, at last, lost or damaged beyond repair. Mournfully, the officer takes what remains to a techmarine, who lays the weapon's machine spirit to rest. Given his rank, the officer is gifted with a new boltgun. This one is built from scratch by a techmarine; perhaps the Master of the Forge himself. Built to exacting qualities and made with the finest materials – as befits the officer's standing – it is what we term master-crafted. To us, we'd see it as a fantastic machine – a brand new Ferrari to the other marines' Mercedes. To the Space Marine Officer, it is a new boltgun, but one that has an inherently more puissant machine-spirit – fiercer, stronger and more aggressive. It may be more accurate than the much-loved lost boltgun; less prone to jamming, and perhaps with a unique diagnostic device created by the techmarine. However, it may equally be unfamiliar; uncomfortable. The officer feels the machine spirit resists him; must be placated or tamed.

 

To our eyes, the the artificer-enhanced original boltgun and the replacement master-crafted boltgun would be similar in functional ability – the officer seems to be able to kill the same amount of the Imperium's enemies. There is no inherent functional difference, but more of an aesthetic one. It would be a matter of taste as to whether the classic or the replacement is 'better'; to continue the car metaphor, the artificer original might be seen as a classic E-type Jaguar or Rolls-Royce, while the master-crafted replacement might be seen as a top-of-the-range Ferrari or Tesla. Different strengths, different appeals.

 

After centuries of heroic service, this master-crafted boltgun has itself been enhanced and decorated by generations of skilled artificers; blurring the in-game definitions of master-crafted and artificer. The machine spirit has been tested and proved triumphant; its character has settled. Perhaps it has mellowed from its fiery beginnings in the forge, becoming so reliable it seems to never jam, while keeping a higher rate of fire than any other in the armoury. Perhaps the spirit has remained cantankerous; granting victory only to those who can tame it. A reputation has sprung up around the boltgun; a reputation that is well-known not only to the officer, but to his men. Perhaps it is granted its own familiar or honorific name.

 

One day, however, the officer falls. The weapon is borne from the battlefield alongside him, its retrieval granted all the respect of the warrior himself. Totemic to the Company, the boltgun is handed down through further generations. Depending on the Chapter's view of its machine spirit, perhaps it is gifted to another officer for a time. Perhaps it is only brought out to inspire the men at critical junctures, or Company rituals. Perhaps it is returned to the Forge, where it is loaned out to other officers, the weapon's reputation inspiring them. This is a relic boltgun.

 

+++

 

Heh; slightly discursive, but hope it was entertaining at least! 


Edited by Apologist, 05 December 2019 - 09:42 AM.

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#8
Closet Skeleton

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Artificer armour is a specific thing or at least was when the term was first used in 1st ed. It vanished in 2nd ed and then got brought back in 3rd ed as an upgrade for normal armour.

 

Artificers are a branch of chapter serfs who help engineers and techmarines maintain gear, so technically all power armour might maintained by 'artificers' but some armour is completely modified to no standardized design so gets called 'artificer armour' specifically.

 

When the various marks of power armour were initially described some models for them were released, including four in 'artificer armor'

http://www.solegends...variants-00.htm

 

Master crafted was an option added in 3rd ed for weapons.


Edited by Closet Skeleton, 05 December 2019 - 10:22 AM.


#9
Cpt.Danjou

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My take on a relic is that does not necessarily need to be very old, but it has an important story behind it, making it something that the army can be proud of and gather around in dire times. Like a sword that an hero used during the defense against overwhelming odds, after the battle it is found lodged into the throat of the archenemies throat still in the hands of the dead/dying heroes hand. A chalice with a saints blood. A standard who flew during a gruesome battle, signaling as a rally point for the army who wins the battle. The powerfist by the last standing terminator during the battle of Macragge, would probably be a relic, and so on. Age really has nothing to do with a relic it is the history and myths around the item that makes it better. Most relics are old and surrounded by myths and stories, that no one knows if they are true or not. 
Logan Grimnars Axe of Morkai is for example a relic, but it is not old, in 40k terms, as its story comes from the battle of Armageddon, it is just built into Grimnars rules.

 

just my opinion on relics


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#10
Lord_Caerolion

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Apologist, good as that was, I don't believe we've actually seen artificer and master-crafted used interchangeably, rules-wise, at least? Every time I can think of, artificer is the term used for armour, master-crafted for weapons.


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#11
b1soul

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Artificer sword
Master-crafted armour

Yeah...you're probably right. I don't think I've heard those combinations before, just not 100% sure

#12
apologist

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Agreed –  I guess my point is that while the in-game terms make sharp distinctions for clarity; they don't necessarily align with how an item would be recognised from an in-universe perspective.  
 
As an example; the lore for recent Relic weapons variously includes the terms 'masterly-crafted'[Duty's Burden], 'master-crafted'[Fist of Vengeance] and 'true work of the artificer's art' [Purgatorus] (see spoiler below for originals).
 

Spoiler

 
I do agree that rules-wise 'master-crafted' is almost exclusively associated with weapons, and 'artificer' with armour; but as the Purgatorus above shows, that's not always true. In background terms, it's much more fluid. At root, I think that's simply because most notable weapons/armour sets in 40k tend to be both crafted by a master and heavily decorated by artificers – and sometimes (as with the Salamanders, for example) such master-craftsmen are skilled artificers! smile.png
 
Poaching a couple of uncited bits (that nevertheless seem familiar – think these are from one of the earlier Codex: Space Marines; maybe 3rd or 4th?) to demonstrate:
 

Artificer Armour is the name given to individualised and heavily modified suits of Power Armour of many different patterns provided only to Space Marines who have proven themselves worthy of the honour [...] A suit of Artificer Armour is an extremely valuable relic for a Space Marine Chapter and will usually have belonged to the Chapter's greatest heroes. Many elements of the suit will have been replaced or repaired over the long years and its heraldry altered for each wearer, but it is still held to be the same suit of armour and so is venerated for its history.

 

My emphasis; to draw attention to the fact that the lore for artificer armour overlaps with the concept of a relic here.

 

Techmarines also wear a form of Artificer Armour. These suits are rarely as old and venerated as the others possessed by the Chapter, but are essentially suits of Power Armour that have been heavily modified and improved by several generations of Techmarines. Such suits usually contain a vast array of mechanical interfaces and built-in servo-tools to aid a Techmarine in his duties for the Chapter.

...and similarly here, there's clearly no need for things to be old to be a relic, as Cpt.Danjou mentioned earlier. 

 
The same sort of language is used to describe master-crafted weapons in the background. I've spoilered the following, to avoid a wall o' text.

Spoiler

 
+++
 
To answer b1soul's original question, then; I don't think you can reasonably compare grades of quality in terms of background – the point of all the terms is to make it clear something is either unique or notable in some general way, rather than to describe a specific distinguishable quality or 'power level'.

 

Even In background terms, I agree the terms are not quite synonyms – 'relic' implies a weapon, set of armour or other item that has some cultural significance. 'Master-crafted' indicates some sort of mechanical superiority in function, while 'Artificer' implies there's a visual difference.  However, as the quotes above show, I think it's fair to say that these descriptions all tend to blend together, because of the way people in the 41st Millennium view technology.
 
Essentially, while the rules make crisp, clear distinctions, the background is considerably more fluid.


Edited by Apologist, 06 December 2019 - 09:39 AM.

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#13
b1soul

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Thanks Apologist, that is really some excellent info.

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Heh; slightly discursive, but hope it was entertaining at least!


Beautiful, a great read. Agreed on all points.




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