Tyranid/GSC fan, saying hello

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Tyranid/GSC fan, saying hello

Postby OGIHR » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:56 pm

Hello, my chosen name is Oh God It's Him Run (just call me OGIHR for short), and if anyone cares I am located in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

I have a great fondness for the Tyranids and the Genestealer Cult armies, and I am rather disconcerted by how I keep reading that people (within and outside the development team) seem to be assuming that a Tyranid point of view is impossible to RP.

From a game design perspective (rather than a "mix and match your heroes" perspective), consider the difference between [A] an Adeptus Mechanicus PC maintaining binary control over a few combat Servitors armed with heavy flamers and a flock of maglev-hovering Cyberskulls armed with laspistols; and [B] a Tyranid Warrior PC maintaining synaptic control over a few Pyrovores and a flock of Gargoyles.

The difference is that the AdMech are allowed a Codex writer willing to put in the effort to include at least one sentence from their point of view. From a game design perspective, the presence/absence of canon reference material is the ONLY difference.

It is my sincere hope that in the process of writing the inevitable article on running a non-humans game (with the predictable focus on being applicable to either Eldar or Orks), the RPG development team is willing to put in the effort which GW failed to do in the Tyranids' previous Codex.

And if anyone wants to hear my thoughts about what the Tyranid POV is, I will gladly share them freely with anyone who wants to use them in their own works (be they official or fanon).

EDIT: Cyberskulls? Servoskulls? Reading back over what I wrote, I can't remember the difference. Hopefully my meaning was still apparent.

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HEX the Dark
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Re: Tyranid/GSC fan, saying hello

Postby HEX the Dark » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:48 am


Joke aside, I guess the problem with Tyranids is the while hivemind thing. They only have one purpose, devour all biomass, and no "personality", which makes it rather hard to be hero.
Genestealers are't that connected, but they also have just one goal, preperation of invasion.
Afaik, "disconnected" Tyranids revert to their feral form, again not making the best heros.
I think you could come up with something to make a Tyranid work, like a strange mutation and you char being on the run from the collective as not to be killed to prevent spreading of such individuality. But all that is something GW has to consider and depends what they have in mind for the bugs in the future.

May The Emperors Light Guide you,

Never trust a smiling gamemaster

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Re: Tyranid/GSC fan, saying hello

Postby OGIHR » Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:39 pm

HEX the Dark wrote:I guess the problem with Tyranids is the [whole] hivemind thing. They only have one purpose, devour all biomass, and no "personality", which makes it rather hard to be hero.

I have to disagree rather strongly there. While Termagants and Carnifexes and Raveners (for example) have no personality beyond "the us am hungry; the us need food", that's because they're not people; they're just weapons. And so their capacities for cogitation are on par with a boltgun, rather than with the man holding it.

To the machine spirit of a boltgun, the only purpose of its existence is to make explosive shells fly into whatever it's pointed at. It would be wrong to make a moral judgement of the weapon's user for the weapon's lack of moral complexity. Which raises the question of just who is the user of a Tyranid weapon...

When it comes to understanding the Tyranids, the most important thing to understand is that as a hive mind, their definition of "myself" is very complicated. Consider a Tyranid Warrior (with or without the rest of its squad), with a pair of Boneswords in its upper arms, a Devourer in its lower arms, a flock of Gargoyles within its Synapse range, a Hive Tyrant acting as its warlord on the battlefield, and at least one ship-body in orbit. What is this Warrior's definition of "myself"?

The obvious answer is "the model itself". But the nature of the hive mind makes it so complicated. Each of the Boneswords is a living symbiote connected to the Warrior's nervous and circulatory systems, and each has its own tiny brain which provides the Warrior with the necessary motor-control instincts for wielding it, as well as the psionic capacity for its Instant Death function (which I've always envisioned as a pain-amplification attack when it cuts an enemy, rather than a soul-draining attack). To the Warrior, each Bonesword is both a separate bioform within the gestalt of the hive mind and also an appendage which responds to the Warrior's will to accomplish its goals.

The Devourer is the same way, but with the added layer that each of its bullet-worms is also an adjunct-self to the gun, and thus to the wielder.

Thanks to being a Synapse creature, the Gargoyles are also collectively an appendage at the Warrior's control; while the Warrior itself is an appendage in the same manner for the Hive Tyrant, as the Tyrant in fairness is for the ship-body in orbit.

Multiple layers of adjunct-selves and over-selves, all telepathically interconnected and reading each other's minds (to the limit of their respective cognitive capacity to grasp the nature of each other's minds). If the ship-body cared to do so, it could easily read the mind of the Tyrant to read the mind of the Warrior to read the tiny mind of the Devourer to read the microscopic minds of the bullet-worms, and know exactly how many of those projectiles were splattered before being able to fulfill their evolutionary purpose by chewing through the biomass of the prey.

And from the ship-body's perspective, the Warrior is no less of a weapon to be pointed at a target than the bullet-worms are. It's just that, like a Space Marine, this living weapon happens to be sentient.

Now, as to the question of heroics, I actually believe that the Tyranids have the MOST heroic motivation in the setting, albeit one whose pursuit is utterly crippled by a catastrophic failure to understand just how alien (from their perspective) the life of this galaxy is.

Please. Hear me out.

It is established in the 6th edition Tyranids codex that for Hive Tyrants, "Death is simply another learning experience that gives insight to the prey’s strengths and weaknesses." And the Tyranids writeup for Shadow War Armageddon echoes this, "A Tyranid Alpha is a Warrior bioform that has been respawned many times over, learning more about how to kill its prey in each incarnation."

It is plainly established that Tyranids don't care about the death of a clone-body, so long as the memories associated with that body are preserved. Because a given body is just a weapon, and if your weapon is destroyed, you simply go to the armory and get it rebuilt/replaced.

But the preservation of memory is a huge thing to understanding the Tyranids, because Lictors eat brains to absorb the memories of the prey. And Lictors are part of the hive mind, which means the over-self absorbs the memories of the prey as well. In the course of a planetary harvest, the biomass is harvested, screaming as it's torn apart. But the memories are harvested as well. And memories are the ONLY definition of identity which can even be imagined by a hive mind that produces clones on demand to meet logistical needs.

From the Tyranid perspective, each planetary life-system which has been harvested is not destroyed. It is liberated from the confines of having its consciousness trapped in a single body's lifespan, and rendered immortal. It is saved. Brought into resonance with the over-self, and thereby gifted with harmony.

From the Tyranid perspective, they're on a quest for galactic peace. One screaming guardsman at a time. But the tragedy is that Tyranid life and Milky Way life are so fundamentally alien to one another that the Tyranid sentiences can't understand that to the life-systems of this galaxy, harvesting the biomass of a single sentient body is a crime more serious than "theft of building materials".

Now, when it comes to a "mix and match your heroes" perspective, I am fully aware that Tyranid Warrior PCs lack any evolutionary capability to meaningfully interact with humans via any means other than violence. Even telepathic contact between a Synapse creature and a human Psyker becomes violence due to just how alien the Tyranid over-self's mind is. But in the same vein as an all-Eldar or all-Orks game, an all-Tyranids game would not be so different than an all-Mechanicus game. Sentient PCs coordinating the actions of multiple "pets".

The Genestealer Cult of course can fit into the "mix and match" niche far more elegantly, and I'd love to be able to play a fourth-generation Neophyte Hybrid as the ship's chief chirurgeon in a Rogue Trader style game (putting that instinct for biological adaptation to good use for the benefit of his collective-grouping, apart from his own private agenda). But it's important to me that ALL of the factions in the setting are allowed to have a motivation more complex than "they're the bad guys so the good guys have somebody to shoot at today". And historically, GW doesn't seem to have ever assigned the Tyranids any writing of that caliber.

So it is my hope that the RPG development team is willing to step up to the challenge. Whether or not they agree with my interpretation presented here, I want there to be SOMETHING for the Tyranids around which you can build a story with more complexity than "roll randomly for what shape of giant mutant animal is attacking on the SyFy Channel this week".

Sense making?
Last edited by OGIHR on Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
On a quest for galactic peace. One screaming guardsman at a time.

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Re: Tyranid/GSC fan, saying hello

Postby schoon » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:50 pm

I could see Genestealer Cults as a roleplay opportunity.

It requires plotting, cunning, and even the fluff allows that there's some individual initiative involved.

When most people think of Tyranids, they're thinking about wave after wave of Termagaunts thrown into a hail of bolter fire.

What comes a long time before that is the really interesting bits.

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Re: Tyranid/GSC fan, saying hello

Postby Savioronedge » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:13 pm

I can see an all tyranid campaign. I can even see how a secret cultist could work with GM approval. Beyond that, I fear something would fall; either the party would fall apart or the feel of the hive mind would be neglected.

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