Author Topic: On the brain in a box  (Read 860 times)

Online mcjomar

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On the brain in a box
« on: February 25, 2016, 02:26:03 PM »
A question on imperial technology RE: the above.
How often is this done, with the brain still being alive?
How long does it last?

And more to the point, has it been weaponized?

I'm not just referring to servitors, servoskulls, magos monsters, etc.
I'm referring to literal, brain in jar, but alive and/or capable of controlling weapons.

Also - psykers. Weaponised psyker brains. Is this a thing?
I.e. brain in box, push button and aim, and it hurls a psychic fireball at what you point at. Tortured psyker, forever screaming in the torture of nothingness, and then screaming when the button is pushed because the pain zaps the part of the psykers brain that causes it to emit fire.

Alternatively, psychic null in a box. Push button, turn on the psychic nullifier. Push button again, psychic null is turned off (put to sleep or whatever I guess?). Is this a possibility.
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Offline Raghnall

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2016, 03:45:09 PM »
Im not sure I've ever seen it done with Imperial technology, but there are several examples of that sort of thing. Not brains per se, but souls. The ones that spring to mind are Eldar spirit stones, Dark Eldar caskets of flensing, and Pontius Glaw from the Eisenhorn trilogy, who was a powerful psyker, who's essence was preserved beyond death by some sort of ornate box. To some extent, Dreadnoughts are also this, but usually with a little more than just a brain.

No idea about nulls though, but I would suspect that their effects mostly disappear after death, so it would require some fairly advanced technology to make this at all possible.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2016, 04:32:52 PM »
How often is this done, with the brain still being alive?
How long does it last?
It's hardly an everyday thing, but it's a level of technology available if you have wealth and connections. You'll certainly see it to various degrees within the Mechanicus, with things like their Binary cortex technologies.

In terms of longevity, it can last beyond a normal human life-time... if the systems are high quality and well maintained - as, naturally, it involves removing the brain from many of the body's housekeeping services.
(Consider that humans are pretty low maintenance until about half a century old. In comparison, there are quite a few steam locomotives that are still working at over a century, but they needed a lot of maintenance along the way).

Quote
Also - psykers. Weaponised psyker brains. Is this a thing?
Yes. The Radical's Handbook includes the Callophean Psy-Engine. Visually, it's a little bit like a Ghostbusters proton pack - a backpack containing the sightless and terrified brains of four vivisected psykers, connected to a director wand out of which warp-lighting and witch-fire can be directed.

Quote
Alternatively, psychic null in a box.
The Culexus assassin's helmet would imply that this is probably possible, although in general the Imperium is much better with anti-psychic techniques than they are with anti-anti-psychic techniques.

They can contain and deflect psychic power pretty well, but cannot completely bottle up psychic nulls. Given the rarity of pariahs, the fact their effect couldn't be entirely contained, the increased reliance on maintenance, the higher availability of similar technologies ... it's possible, but not exactly probable.
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Offline greenstuff_gav

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2016, 05:02:23 PM »
I have a magos whose head is inna box;
http://www.buildyourimagination.co.uk/minis/gallery/inq/archive/mechanicus_annika.jpg
Thankfully all i had to do was apply head injury locations to his arm!
i make no apologies, i warned you my ability to roll ones was infectious...

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Online mcjomar

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2016, 07:07:12 PM »
Nifty.
I guess if they did stick a null's brain in a box, it would still pump out some nameless dread. But they could, at most, limit the effects like with a Culexus.
Don't think I'll see it in a game for a while, let alone use it, but the idea seems interesting, either as something an Inquisitor might pursue, or as some McGuffin or other.

EDIT:
What about using a psychic brain as a noise generator to hide thoughts?
Like it's tortured so much that it broadcasts static?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2016, 01:52:33 PM by mcjomar »
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2016, 02:40:50 PM »
Quote
What about using a psychic brain as a noise generator to hide thoughts? Like it's tortured so much that it broadcasts static?
It'd be morbid, Radical and highly immoral, but yes, that's definitely a possibility. The brains would probably "burn out" fairly fast though, as how long they can theoretically live is entirely different to how long they will if you start torturing, tormenting and overloading them.
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Online mcjomar

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2016, 02:43:49 PM »
That sounds reasonable.
I'm tempted to have one of my characters do that as defense against telepathy.
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Offline Alyster Wick

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2016, 01:36:19 AM »
What about using a psychic brain as a noise generator to hide thoughts?
Like it's tortured so much that it broadcasts static?

That's a great idea, I refer back to Marco's comments in regards to thinking about how quickly the thing would burn out (might want to consider a pacifier helmet-esque contraption for the brain to increase longevity).

Things you should consider with all this, however, are:

- Where the soul fits in to all this (does the brain equal the soul?)
- How agency affects a psykers ability (they generally choose to manifest powers, though powers can manifest as inherent reactions. How does this work with your box?)
- What happens with possession here? (again, psykers defend themselves from possession when they choose to manifest powers. What is a pyschically active brain in a box manifesting powers going to look like to a daemon?)

All that said, you're bringing up some great, grim-darky ideas. Good work!

Online mcjomar

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2016, 08:12:11 AM »
In fairness, they're largely stolen (same source as my joke warband thread).
It's the facts of the 41st millennium that make them more grim.

- Where the soul fits in to all this (does the brain equal the soul?)
Mechanicus acts, like strapping their brains into jars to operate more machine-like bodies, and other such methods suggests this is likely, at least in terms of the 41st millennium.

- How agency affects a psykers ability (they generally choose to manifest powers, though powers can manifest as inherent reactions. How does this work with your box?)
If we've got sources for the ability to direct the output of a psyker, as per Marco's source, then the ability to send out general static screaming (from specifically chosen telepathic psykers) when there's no method of direction seems like a possibility.

- What happens with possession here? (again, psykers defend themselves from possession when they choose to manifest powers. What is a pyschically active brain in a box manifesting powers going to look like to a daemon?)
The is the one million Throne question.
But my money says that Soulbound psykers would last quite a while to start with - limited resource though they are.
The question is, does the box contain the ability to detect possession, and immediately stop it via, say, lethal injection? Could it even detect possession? If so, how?
Could the effects of a gellar field be somehow made to work at this scale? Even if it was destructive in general, or specifically to the brain?
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Offline Holiad

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Re: On the brain in a box
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2016, 11:02:01 PM »
Having thought on the matter, I think the influence of hostile warp entities would be a very big danger with a psychic brain in a jar. Considered in the context of why Psykers themselves are at risk-
  • The mind of a psyker, particularly an active one, acts as a beacon attracting the attention of warp entities. A more powerful psyker shines brighter and attracts more attention. To be generating static as described, Psychic brain in a jar would be constantly active at a high level. Therefore, the beacon is constantly set to a high level of brightness.
  • In drawing power from the warp, a psyker creates a potential gateway to the corporeal universe. As above, while an ordinary psyker would occasionally open the gate to cast a power, a constantly active psychic brain in a jar would be leaving the door open constantly.

Considering this, I'd be inclined to limit such a device to brief bursts of static noise, since anything more than a short signal would quickly become far too dangerous to use. It's also worth considering just how many imperial psykers are actually powerful enough to generate that sort of constant static signal. If they aren't capable of doing it deliberately, it's highly questionable that their disembodied brain would be more capable.
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