Author Topic: The Tyranid Diet  (Read 6370 times)

Offline Shard

  • Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 36
The Tyranid Diet
« on: March 19, 2010, 07:06:13 PM »
Ok, now call me somewhat unhinged, but this thought struck me a moment ago and I have no idea why.

How much biomass is needed to make a termagant?

What about a Zoanthrope, plus its added psionic DNA element?

What about a Heirodule, or a bio-titan? What about even larger?

If the Imperium were to work this out, like some kind of twisted and no doubt xenoheretical nutrition chart, it could work out which planets to save and which to abandon in the path of the Tyranid threat. After all, why increase a minorly-populated rock of a world with soldiers (i.e. more food) when the energy expended by the Tyranids harvesting it would be more than it would receive back? This may seem odd only to focus on Tyranids, but the entire race is purely devoted to consumption on such a scale that outstrips any other. No other race could possibly strip a world so thoroughly in the same space of time.

Now, I have no idea of sources that may even touch on this, if they even exist, but now the idea is with me I'm interested by it. I have no backing in nutrition/biology, so I'm at a loss where to even start in approaching this. However, I imagine the Ordo Xenos and the more Xenos-orientated Mechanicus Biologis personnel would be working furiously at working out just such a scale of Tyranid consumption/usage!

Ok, back to my lho-sticks and amasec...


Offline Gnaeus Conlitor

  • Interrogator
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2010, 09:46:21 PM »
I imagine the Inquisition has opratives or even entire minor ordos dedicated to this. I imagine somewhere in the Imperium some Imperial Guard gunea pigs have been volunteered for a new "vacine" This vacine is infact a genetically engineered virus designed to infect and destroy Tyranids when they eat them. Of course there are no side effects on humans apart from hair loss, nausea, dirohea, dizzy spells etc.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2010, 10:28:07 AM by Gnaeus Conlitor »
Inquisitor got me in to roleplaying which in turn kick started my writing career. I am eternally grateful.

Offline Inquisitor Sargoth

  • Inquisitor
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2010, 11:35:18 AM »
Obviously the 'nids need a LOT of biomass, but.... For the vast majority of the bugs on a world, excluding initial mycetic spore drops, the biomass comes from the same world. There is more than enough biomass and energy for the vast armies of the nids (using earth as a model) based on animal, fungal and bacterial (the biggest of all) alone. And they get to recycle every bug they use, including the ones from the drops, 'cos when they die the biomass and minerals all end up back in the hiveships anyway. They must have collected enough genes for enzymes now to be able to do just about anything they want or need to on a molecular level, so they don't need to pick up special psychic DNA (if such a thing exist), they really just need lots of raw elements,.

There seems little point working out how much biomass they need when attacking a world, because they've got essentially all of it. When travelling in space, using up they've collected, that's when it becomes important. That's why Kryptman's exterminatus tactic worked best, but at an insane cost.
One More Hit - A tale of addiction.

Offline Myriad

  • Grand Lord Inquisitor
  • *****
  • Posts: 555
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2010, 11:56:46 AM »
Now, the question of why they don't just bomb the world from orbit and eat the remains, that is one I have trouble answering.  Maybe the hive mind isn't so smart after all.
I had better point out, that some of the clubs I represent are of a military bent.

You know what you are?  A plywood shark!

Offline Zephon

  • Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2010, 01:19:38 PM »
Ah, but they do bomb the world from orbit. The payload just happens to be mobile.

Offline Tullio

  • Inquisitor
  • ***
  • Posts: 112
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2010, 01:50:47 PM »
Clearly, the Hive Mind isn't the perfect predator. At least, not yet. It seems to rely upon sheer numbers to get what it wants, when you get right down to it. There are plenty of ways to counter the Tyranids, but it seems that the main reason that thier enemies fail is because they simply don't have the resources to expend against them

It's also worth bearing in mind that simply recouping biomass doesn't recoup the energy loss of the invasion. The Hive Mind must expend a lot of energy subduing a world whether it likes it or not, and the harder it has to fight, the less favourable the prize. I suppose it could cheat to an extent by using solar sails and things like that, but still ... the Battle of Ichar IV could hardly have been going the 'Nids way for very long

Tullio

Offline Inquisitor Sargoth

  • Inquisitor
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2010, 07:22:20 PM »
Biomass/Minerals absorbed from world = Energy.

You can make energy (protomotive force for the hydrolysis of ATP, or possibly some equivalent for the 'nids) out of just about any redox pair if you've got the enzymes for it, and I very much doubt the tyranids ever run of out oxygen and water (Except, possibly, when the bioships are on the move...) On less earth-like worlds, ammonia/nitrates/nitrites, iron, sulphur, chlorine and even arsenic could be used....

I would imagine the 'nids must make use of some kind of photosynthesis for their bio-ships to help supply the titantic energy needed. It's an obvious choice, and they've got the geneetic capacity for it. Nonetheless, this is the only time the 'nids are 'starving'. Presumably 'nids avoid mostly empty areas of space in or enter some kind of cryptobiosis for long haulage.

I've considered, lazily, the 'nids from a biological perspective. For more musings, mildly relevant, check out Stark Truths. Scroll down to Adept Cyrine's interview for my take on 'nid genetics and also an explanation of my 'Disease, not predator' theory. A short story set from a sentient, sympathetic hiveship (not how I actually see them) which kinda touches on theirr weaknesses when migrating can be found here.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2010, 07:42:29 PM by Inquisitor Sargoth »
One More Hit - A tale of addiction.

Offline Swarbie

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 364
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2010, 11:49:28 PM »
Quote
Clearly, the Hive Mind isn't the perfect predator. At least, not yet. It seems to rely upon sheer numbers to get what it wants, when you get right down to it.


To see the Hive Mind as a predator, you have to think of its true scale. This immense, ageless monster has reached through the blackened void it inhabits, stretching its hand out to snatch a shining morsel. Its finger has been pricked, and now it is curious. It comes for us . . .


Anyway, the Hive Mind itself merely drives the fleets onwards (IMO). It is the synapse creatures who oversee each battle for each world, making the tactical decisions necessary to overcome the foe while protecting the fleet and delicate biostructures such as capillary towers.
If they simply bombed the planet from orbit to such an extent that they could have conceivably destroyed all life, it is entirely likely that there would be no warrior-organisms to protect the hive ships if they were boarded, the biomass necessary to create such creatures used to create spore mines instead.

IMO, this is why they rely on surface assaults to destroy the prey. Doing so ensures that they will eventually find and destroy every enemy and allows the warrior-organisms to protect the ships when they enter the atmosphere/ low orbit to consume the world.
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline N01H3r3

  • Inquisitor
  • ***
  • Posts: 162
  • Long Ago and Far Away
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2010, 08:55:41 AM »
Ah, but they do bomb the world from orbit. The payload just happens to be mobile.
That's not the only payload, though.

The only way to eliminate all resistance through orbital bombardment is to render the planet inhospitable, essentially, and depending on the degree, even that may not work... given that consuming a world does require organisms (flora and fauna) on the surface, the Hive Ships of a given swarm tendril does not want to send down swarms of rippers to consume the matter for digestion, only to find a plucky band of survivors blowing up capillary towers and gunning down ripper swarms, slowing the whole process.

Better to seed the world with vicious predators and war-organisms in order to hunt down every last man, woman and child on the planet while the world is prepared for consumption.

Meanwhile, spore clouds containing all manner of toxins, engineered pollutants, diseases, parasites, mutagens and worse rain down upon a world, corrupting the atmosphere, changing the climate into something hot and humid, and further hindering the ability of any defenders, mutating and subverting native plants and animals and supplanting native plants with aggressive, greedy Tyranid species. Sooner or later, the Capillary Towers and Spore Chimneys begin to spawn. With the Capillary Towers, great pools of enzymes and acids to render Ripper Swarms and the matter they have devoured into something the bioships can consume. With the Spore Chimneys, the continual fog of toxic, world-mutating spores grows more intense without the Hive Fleet having to expend any more energy. Brood Nests will form underground, allowing the ground forces to be reinforced without the Hive Ship creating them directly (this also draws matter and nutrients from the ground, further speeding the consumption - every gaunt a brood nest creates is a lump of biomass that will not resist consumption and can easily be devoured when it is no longer useful, compared to the nutrients and biomass locked into soil).

This process is essentially irreversable - turn back the swarm, and you've still got a world changed by the experience.

If you think that gaunts and genestealers are what define a Tyranid invasion... then you've only seen the very tip of the iceberg. The Tyranids subvert a world they intend to consume, mutating and corrupting it to the point where it is easier to digest by the bioships in orbit. The ground troops are simply the most visible part of that. And are entirely expendable, as they too will be consumed to feed the Hive Fleet when the war is done. The crucial thing to remember is that, for the Tyranids, 'prey' is not humans or Eldar or Orks or Tau... but planets. The creatures living on those planets are more like an immune system than anything else, an organic system to be overcome so that hive ships can feast upon the carcasses of slaughtered worlds.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2010, 08:58:47 AM by N01H3r3 »
Contributing Writer for many Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay books, including Black Crusade

Professional Games Designer.

Offline TheNephew

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 332
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2010, 01:46:20 PM »
I think that covers it pretty comprehensively.
Very impressive for before 9am.

One thing I've been a little hazy on is how the harvesting process leaves the planets tectonically ruined as well.
I remember a WD issue which had a graphic representation of the planet at X, Y, Z months after invasion - the first stage was pretty much Earth, the final a cracked up magma blob.
Explanations or theories?

Lorddarigarn

  • Guest
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2010, 07:45:41 PM »
Ba
I think that covers it pretty comprehensively.
Very impressive for before 9am.

One thing I've been a little hazy on is how the harvesting process leaves the planets tectonically ruined as well.
I remember a WD issue which had a graphic representation of the planet at X, Y, Z months after invasion - the first stage was pretty much Earth, the final a cracked up magma blob.
Explanations or theories?

Accourding to that article, after they'd harvested away the oceans, the lack in pressure on the sea floor caused volcanoes to rise and generally screwed around with the planet's tectonics.

Offline Kallidor

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
  • Departmento Munitorum
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2010, 12:18:00 AM »
With the Capillary Towers, great pools of enzymes and acids to render Ripper Swarms and the matter they have devoured into something the bioships can consume.

Considering that, does it really make sense that the Hive Fleet basically has to eat everthing twice? Reading through this thread but the image in my mind of a world's atmosphere essentially being turned into a stomach, eventually digesting everything on the world. What the fleet would then suck up isn't a gruel it then needs to digest again but that the hive ships are effectively flying wombs in space.
Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Offline TheNephew

  • Inquisitor Lord
  • ****
  • Posts: 332
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2010, 03:36:06 PM »
Cheers Darigarn - that sounds at least as plausible as a planet-harvesting space bug fleet.

On a related note, I never really liked the Tyranids when I sit down with my square head on - if you're going to confront the issue with science and maths and logic, it doesn't seem to fly all that well.
The amount of energy needed to keep the fleet warm enough to live in space, even if we assume that 'warm enough' for a Hive ship is a good few miles south of 37 degrees, is mad.
Moving through space at any real speed - as in other than coasting with solar sails, which wouldn't work all that well in deep space either - is another huge energy drain.
And the storage space required for the sheer volume of redox reagents that would be needed is ridiculous. I know there's a planet being stripped bare, but even using Alien Bioscience Compression and running on the idea that the fleet is almost literally starving by the time it hits each new world, the ships need to be planet-sized themselves, almost.

In summary, Tyranids are stupid and cool.

Offline Inquisitor Sargoth

  • Inquisitor
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2010, 04:41:06 PM »
And the storage space required for the sheer volume of redox reagents that would be needed is ridiculous.

Cells = storage space. So quite possible.

Temperature... There are no vacuum-living organisms to compare them to, but the sheer drain of maintaining a consistent temperature is staggering. Unless it only does so in a few key places, and uses a really neat form of cryptobiosis everywhere else. Tardigrades are basically indestructible when they're in theirs... The composition of the ship itself need not be carbon-based throughout (if at all), it could use a lot of metallic composites... it's within the limits of the possible. Just about.

With regards to distances, I thought 'nid ships used warp travel like everyone else, bar the Necrons? Else the 'nid invasion wouldn't be a problem. At all. At sub-light speeds, they could cope just fine on one big burst of energy to get themselves moving (as there's no friction in space). Making slowing a problem, of course, and turning even more so. It could get to be very energetically complicated indeed....

They're stupid and cool nonetheless. Speaking as a Biologist, they're a fun exerise in theoretical exobiology.
One More Hit - A tale of addiction.

Offline DapperAnarchist

  • Grand Lord Inquisitor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1006
  • I'm not a Rosicrusian, are you?
    • The Keltani Subsector
Re: The Tyranid Diet
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2010, 07:34:25 PM »
I believe that in the new Codex, the Tyranids now move by some sort of folding space/gravity tunnel method created by a creature called a "Narvhal".
Questions are a burden to others, answers a burden to oneself.

The Keltani Subsector  My P&M Thread - Most recent, INQ28!