Killing a C'tan

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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Darth Hoth » 2008-12-20 05:20am

Vultur wrote:You should probably start reading the series at "Galactic Patrol". The core four books (Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen, and Children of the Lens) are a fairly tightly linked story.

Their technology is indeed absurdly powerful. Even in psychic stuff alone, things get crazy fast.

Has anyone actually done calcs on Lensmanverse technology or laid out all the psychic feats by who performed them? If not, that might be a good topic for another thread.
Not available at any of my local used books stores, but I am looking around for them.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Norseman » 2008-12-20 05:24am

If you want calculations on the Lensman universe I recommend getting the GURPS Lensman supplement, but just so you know it the heaviest Lensman warships are powered by total conversion engines that can consume several tons per second. They also make planetary sized anti-matter devices.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by NecronLord » 2008-12-20 06:35am

Vultur wrote:but it seems like the majority of them are quite weak - it takes many thousand to power the Astronomicon, and even so it drastically shortens their lives.
That's because Chaos is trying to block it. Until the Heresy, it was supposedly not difficult.
Nobody in the 40Kverse, not even the Emperor or the Chaos Gods, seems to have intergalactic psychic range,
The Old Ones must have had intergalactic range on some of their stuff. The Dragon was 'worshipped as a god in a thousand galaxies' and the Nightbringer had exterminated entire galaxies for pleasure.
while an Arisian can search through immense numbers of universes in 29 seconds.
That would be more impressive if the Eddorians hadn't had to search for countless years to find a universe with life forms, and if lensman-verse psychics weren't able to put themselves en-rapport across the galaxy with minimal effort. In other words, there were no living beings in those universes, and all they basically had to do was shout 'Hey, Kim, you here?' in each one and see if they got a bite.
Darth Hoth wrote:What? I freely confess to being almost completely ignorant about C'tan, I quit the tabletop game before the Necron-wanking started. Do they not have life energies in the classical sense?
Specifically not, no, they’re soulless monstrosities. And that guy was defeated in physical combat by a jedi. I rather doubt he’d do well against one. Anyway.


1. No C’tan has ever been killed by anything but another C’tan. Ever.

A few have been defeated. Blackstone fortresses – all six of them – didn’t succeed in killing the Void Dragon, but may have defeated him briefly. We hear in Xenology that “In blood of Lileath is Siren Silenced” (the only dead C’tan we have a name for, and the only one that seems to have been identified as female) when it mentions the other C’tan fighting the Eldar gods. That’s the closest we get to any idea that any C’tan has ever been slain, and it could just as easily mean that the Siren suffered an attack of conscience after butchering Lileath and her followers, and simply left.

Mechanicum Spoilers: Spoiler
The Emperor confronted the Void Dragon, thousands of years ago, when it was supposedly still weak from its battles with (Vaul and?) its kin. He narrowly defeated it, and contrived a prison on Mars, which would allow the Dragon to radiate its thoughts, which would inspire the inventiveness of the future Adeptus Mechanicus. Its prison is some kind of massive space, implied to be bigger than it logically could be, suggesting it is a warp-designed extradimensional space, along the same lines as appears in the Purge The Unclean Dark Heresy supplement, which is there designed by one of Magnus the Red’s followers. The Necrons also may be able to accomplish this, we hear of ‘worlds within worlds’ constructed by their technology. The Dragon requires regular human sacrifices to keep it quiescent, for some reason.

Even the Emperor, in the strange and contradictory vision granted by the Dragon, admits that he it is beyond even him, the mightiest psyker ever to live, to destroy the Dragon.
2. Their natural physical forms are vast energy/plasma fields.

We know know for certain that they predate the first stars’ formation, from a few sources, and that they feed on stars, and consume human neural-electrical energy for pleasure. Contrary to some ideas, they clearly don’t gain substantial energy from consuming humans, when they wish to empower themselves, they consume stars (Nightbringer, Last Stand of the Firebrands, others)

The Necron codez, and Mechanicum have it that their natural forms are the size of stars.

The process by which they “eat” people should not be confused for some mystical process like Darth Nihilus.

3. They have access to many other dimensions unknown to other species in 40K.

Into which they can shift their mass. The Thorian Sourcebook for Inquisitor specifically codifies that a phase sword exists and phases its mass into other, unknown to the Imperium, dimensions.

4. Their avatar-like shells are destructible.

However, it’s unlikely that the entire creature is within that, as we know, various races have vortex missiles and similar, which work on a principle not unlike the Blackstone Fortresses. Given the importance of a warp-cannon that can potentially engulf the entire creature, it seems more likely that most of them exists either as a diffuse energy field, or in another plane, when they are walking around among mortals. Simply because a vast weapon like the Blackstones is necessary, it is rational to conclude that merely throwing a necrodermis into the warp is insufficient. In reinforcement of this, we know that the Nightbringer endowed his command ship with part of his ‘essence’ and when it fell into the warp, the greater part of the Nightbringer was unharmed. Presumably that ship was as much an incarnation of the Nightbringer as his physical ‘grim reaper’ form.

It’s notable that the Blackstones attacked the Dragon when he was feeding on a star – when presumably they’d be guaranteed to get him fully within the material world.

In Deus Ex Mechanicus the Deceiver is imprisoned in a stasis field. However, he escapes somehow.


With these in mind, and knowing how diffuse they are, we can imagine the ways of killing them; a death star beam would probably shoot right through it, they’re not substantial solid mass, after all.

Anything capable of destroying a star may be up to the task, but that plan requires the C’tan to sit still and take it – and Nightbringer suggests they’re capable of independent FTL without the use of a starship (they even invented necron inertialess drive, it first appears after they re-invigorate the Necrontyr society, and Dark Disciple suggests that they designed necron engines). I shall exclude anything that requires them to sit there shouting 'shoot me' in order to have a chance of harming them.

To have a realistic shot of killing one, one must be able to isolate them within some alternate dimension (as the Blackstones) to be able to inflict very rapid mass destruction upon a star on which they’re feeding at the time, or otherwise able to destroy similar energy fields, and possibly be able to winkle them out of their alternate planes.

From Star Wars, I doubt the Sun Crusher would suffice, that thing takes some time to go off, Centrepoint station may be able to, as Jerec, had he succeeded, would have been up to the task.

Nothing the Culture has, that we know of, would be able to do it. They might be able to drain energy from the C’tan via effectors, but that’s about it.

The Reality Bomb from Doctor Who should do the trick nicely. But then, that kills just about everything.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Teleros » 2008-12-20 07:56am

Bob the Gunslinger wrote:Still, without any evidence or calculations, I'd guess that a Death Star blast would probably fuck one up right proper.
Actually, a C'Tan may be able to feed on the Death Star - or its reactor :shock: .

The only way I can think of to definitely kill a C'Tan besides using the Warp (or any other forms of magic :P ) would be to starve it. C'Tan require some source of energy to survive: without one they'll eventually die out. The problem of course is being able to do this: after 60 million years and having entered stasis unprepared (ie, not enough energy reserves due to the attacking fleet), the Nightbringer was still very much alive when it was woken up.
NecronLord wrote:The Dragon was 'worshipped as a god in a thousand galaxies' and the Nightbringer had exterminated entire galaxies for pleasure.
That's more indicative of intergalactic travel rather than psychics though, and I don't know enough about the Old Ones' works.

Vultur wrote:Has anyone actually done calcs on Lensmanverse technology or laid out all the psychic feats by who performed them? If not, that might be a good topic for another thread.
A few, but the physics of the Lensman universe is so very different to our own in some respects that calculating some of the stuff is pretty hard, if not impossible. I have made some work towards getting some calcs done, but the rest of my life keeps getting in the way :P .
Norseman wrote:If you want calculations on the Lensman universe I recommend getting the GURPS Lensman supplement, but just so you know it the heaviest Lensman warships are powered by total conversion engines that can consume several tons per second. They also make planetary sized anti-matter devices.
The GURPS book is however full of inaccuracies, from the speed of ultrawaves to the efficiency of the allotropic iron reactors used in First Lensman, etc.

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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Darth Hoth » 2008-12-20 08:01am

NecronLord wrote:The Old Ones must have had intergalactic range on some of their stuff. The Dragon was 'worshipped as a god in a thousand galaxies' and the Nightbringer had exterminated entire galaxies for pleasure.
Was there not also some old Black Library story that had Chaos span galaxies that Khorne had ravaged?
Specifically not, no, they’re soulless monstrosities. And that guy was defeated in physical combat by a jedi. I rather doubt he’d do well against one.
Well, to be fair that Jedi was also the one individual in the galaxy to be immune to his lifedraining ability, and furthermore he had by then been severely weakened by feeding upon a "Hole in the Force". But, given what you listed below, the original point is conceded.
With these in mind, and knowing how diffuse they are, we can imagine the ways of killing them; a death star beam would probably shoot right through it, they’re not substantial solid mass, after all.

Anything capable of destroying a star may be up to the task, but that plan requires the C’tan to sit still and take it – and Nightbringer suggests they’re capable of independent FTL without the use of a starship (they even invented necron inertialess drive, it first appears after they re-invigorate the Necrontyr society, and Dark Disciple suggests that they designed necron engines). I shall exclude anything that requires them to sit there shouting 'shoot me' in order to have a chance of harming them.

To have a realistic shot of killing one, one must be able to isolate them within some alternate dimension (as the Blackstones) to be able to inflict very rapid mass destruction upon a star on which they’re feeding at the time, or otherwise able to destroy similar energy fields, and possibly be able to winkle them out of their alternate planes.

From Star Wars, I doubt the Sun Crusher would suffice, that thing takes some time to go off, Centrepoint station may be able to, as Jerec, had he succeeded, would have been up to the task.
That does probably rule out the Wormhole, then; it takes much too long to work and leaves them ample time to escape. Perhaps, if advance planning and wank is allowed, simultaneously bombarding one with huge numbers of independently launched Galaxy Gun "particle disintegrator" warheads while it is feeding off a star? Yes, this is a convoluted Trekkie-style scenario, but against them you probably need it. :wink: Otherwise, Wars's prospects look bleak.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by NecronLord » 2008-12-20 08:10am

Darth Hoth wrote:Was there not also some old Black Library story that had Chaos span galaxies that Khorne had ravaged?
Quite recently, actually. It's in Storm of Iron. But it's a freaky vision seen by a character as she's sucked into the warp, and not terribly logical. For a start, that story implies that Khorne can move his forces freely between galaxies, which means he can crush the Imperium with literally minimal effort. Which seems... odd, and counter to what else is established.

In actuality, this is Graham McNeill's penchant for hyperbole. He wrote both Nightbringer and Mechanicum, also, and he clearly likes the idea of intergalactic empires. However, while it's difficult to rationalise it for Khorne - whose greatest foe, the Emperor, is apparently not receiving a fraction of his attention - there are no such problems with the C'tan. What's more, he writes about such things for the C'tan from a third person perspective in one case and through the Dragon's own radiated thoughts in another, and repeats them - giving them both reliable witness and repetition. The Khorne thing is an anomolous incident, in a vision of the warp witnessed by an already mad woman.
That does probably rule out the Wormhole, then; it takes much too long to work and leaves them ample time to escape. Perhaps, if advance planning and wank is allowed, simultaneously bombarding one with huge numbers of independently launched Galaxy Gun "particle disintegrator" warheads while it is feeding off a star? Yes, this is a convoluted Trekkie-style scenario, but against them you probably need it. :wink: Otherwise, Wars's prospects look bleak.
The Deceiver's foresight, according to Eldrad Ulthran, eclipses his own, and that foresight extends for many millennia (indeed, at least one book has the eldar predicting things in detail, five million years in the future, but that's a silly place, let's not go there) in some cases. I can't really see Palpatine getting the drop on a C'tan.

Galaxy Gun projectiles are a magic chain reaction, and have never been seen to operate on something as energetic as a star.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Darth Hoth » 2008-12-20 10:30am

Well, it is not as though it was not an unreasonable scenario before . . .

I seem to recall there being some mention of Khorne's intergalactic might in Eye of Terror (the anthology), though it might also refer to parallel dimensions; it was a really long time since I read any of it, and I no longer have it available.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Ender » 2008-12-20 08:09pm

Darth Hoth wrote:
Vultur wrote:You should probably start reading the series at "Galactic Patrol". The core four books (Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen, and Children of the Lens) are a fairly tightly linked story.

Their technology is indeed absurdly powerful. Even in psychic stuff alone, things get crazy fast.

Has anyone actually done calcs on Lensmanverse technology or laid out all the psychic feats by who performed them? If not, that might be a good topic for another thread.
Not available at any of my local used books stores, but I am looking around for them.
I have them in e-book form
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Vultur » 2008-12-21 12:17am

Well, then, the C'tan might well be one of the very few powers from any sci-fi universe that could stand up to any of the "third-stage minds" (Arisians, Eddorians, or Children of the Lens). I'm still not completely convinced - the Emperor doesn't seem to approach the power levels of any of the above, which are truly immense.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Bob the Gunslinger » 2008-12-21 02:43am

Well, the Necrons and the C'tan seem to be in a completely different league from the rest of the 40k species, so they just might outclass a being even the Emperor couldn't defeat.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by NecronLord » 2008-12-21 05:34am

Vultur wrote:Well, then, the C'tan might well be one of the very few powers from any sci-fi universe that could stand up to any of the "third-stage minds" (Arisians, Eddorians, or Children of the Lens). I'm still not completely convinced - the Emperor doesn't seem to approach the power levels of any of the above, which are truly immense.
I forget, but was it not pretty much impossible for a lensman's powers to affect the energy creatures in Masters of the Vortex?
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Darth Hoth » 2008-12-21 09:33am

Ender wrote:I have them in e-book form
Where did you find them, and what do they cost?
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Ender » 2008-12-21 12:11pm

Darth Hoth wrote:
Ender wrote:I have them in e-book form
Where did you find them, and what do they cost?
Got them free from a guy on my ship. He was a big e-book fan, and got tons of them from all over the place. So I'm not sure where or how he got them. He gave me about 3.5 gigs of fiction and non fiction books, including 7 different books by EE Smith
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Mr Bean » 2008-12-21 01:20pm

Ender wrote:
Darth Hoth wrote:
Ender wrote:I have them in e-book form
Where did you find them, and what do they cost?
Got them free from a guy on my ship. He was a big e-book fan, and got tons of them from all over the place. So I'm not sure where or how he got them. He gave me about 3.5 gigs of fiction and non fiction books, including 7 different books by EE Smith
It's a little know fact but the Navy is lousy with that shit. When ever two of us meet up we must first exchange the ritual greeting of sharing all mp3s. Which is why a quick tour on end ship could end with over two hundred gigs worth of mp3s. We are a free and sharing people with little respect for "digital rights"

OAN don't think of anything in the GE killing a C'tan. They are way up there on the scale of massive overkill.

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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2008-12-21 03:55pm

What effect would a reality stabiliser have? The c'tan do seem to be pretty far out there, I'm, almost sure some of what they do must be forbidden by the following description;
Areality stabiliser negates the effect of displacer and tachyon beams, teleportation, stasis, time travel, FTL communicators, force fields and all gravity manipulation (contragravity, tractor/pressor beams, etc.) devices within it's area of effect by strengthening local spacetime. Any such device automatically stops working while within the stabiliser's area of effect, nor can it affect anything in the area.
GURPS Ultra-Tech, page 81, and used in the Illuminati University setting book.

Now, I hesitate to bring it up because it includes a no limits fallacy in it's own right, but I don't think anything counts as unfair when used against something as offensively hyperwanked as c'tan. The basic mounted module draws a mere 5 MW (hyperefficient or hideously underpowered for the job it's supposed to do, take your pick), weighs four tons, considering it's supposed to be only possible at a level of advancement well beyond post- scarcity I'm not sure the cost is meaningful, hundred mile radius in air and thousand mile in vacuum (link more modules together for a larger area, 1/r2), and is also known as a SATAN field- Space And Time Anomaly Neutraliser.

Potentially useful?

Failing that, the stardrive from the Spaceship Zero german sci-fi series and game might be capable of doing the trick, if not actually overkill. Every time it was activated, the ship's length became zero and the mass became infinite- which caused the universe around it to implode and begin from the big bang again. (The look on the player's faces the first time you hit them with this...priceless.)
Collateral damage just might be an issue with this one.

Last resort- oh, goddammit, I know there's a prohibition against simply mentioning obscure and little known things and using them secure in everyone else's ignorance, I can't argue with that because it makes sense, but I'm damned if I know how to sum them up.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by NecronLord » 2008-12-22 02:16am

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:What effect would a reality stabiliser have? The c'tan do seem to be pretty far out there, I'm, almost sure some of what they do must be forbidden by the following description;
Areality stabiliser negates the effect of displacer and tachyon beams, teleportation, stasis, time travel, FTL communicators, force fields and all gravity manipulation (contragravity, tractor/pressor beams, etc.) devices within it's area of effect by strengthening local spacetime. Any such device automatically stops working while within the stabiliser's area of effect, nor can it affect anything in the area.
GURPS Ultra-Tech, page 81, and used in the Illuminati University setting book.
That sounds a lot like a no limits fallacy.

Now, I hesitate to bring it up because it includes a no limits fallacy in it's own right, but I don't think anything counts as unfair when used against something as offensively hyperwanked as c'tan.
They're in many ways substantially less wanktastic than the chaos gods.
The basic mounted module draws a mere 5 MW (hyperefficient or hideously underpowered for the job it's supposed to do, take your pick), weighs four tons, considering it's supposed to be only possible at a level of advancement well beyond post- scarcity I'm not sure the cost is meaningful, hundred mile radius in air and thousand mile in vacuum (link more modules together for a larger area, 1/r2), and is also known as a SATAN field- Space And Time Anomaly Neutraliser.

Potentially useful?
I wouldn't think so. And again, nothing really stops them just shooting it. Especially if we're talking about a puny 5 MW, and they've been known to completely drain 40K starships of power.
Failing that, the stardrive from the Spaceship Zero german sci-fi series and game might be capable of doing the trick, if not actually overkill. Every time it was activated, the ship's length became zero and the mass became infinite- which caused the universe around it to implode and begin from the big bang again. (The look on the player's faces the first time you hit them with this...priceless.)
Collateral damage just might be an issue with this one.
Sounds both rediculous, and unlikely to work. I assume everything comes back as it was.
Last resort- oh, goddammit, I know there's a prohibition against simply mentioning obscure and little known things and using them secure in everyone else's ignorance, I can't argue with that because it makes sense, but I'm damned if I know how to sum them up.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Teleros » 2008-12-22 04:14am

NecronLord wrote:I forget, but was it not pretty much impossible for a lensman's powers to affect the energy creatures in Masters of the Vortex?
No, the beings were communicating on a completely different wavelength to everyone else (or at least anyone in range or who tried to contact them). Cloudd could use that wavelength though, so was able to contact them.

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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Stark » 2008-12-22 04:48am

Why people are even using an RPG sourcebook - A FUCKING GURPS SOURCEBOOK - as a source in debate baffles me.

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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Norseman » 2008-12-22 06:41am

Stark wrote:Why people are even using an RPG sourcebook - A FUCKING GURPS SOURCEBOOK - as a source in debate baffles me.
Because it gathers a lot of data in a convenient package?
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by NecronLord » 2008-12-22 07:30am

Stark wrote:Why people are even using an RPG sourcebook - A FUCKING GURPS SOURCEBOOK - as a source in debate baffles me.
Well, it is 'find a wanktastic idea' which is something RPGs are good for. :wink:
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Revy » 2008-12-22 11:37am

What about those Point Singularity Projectors from Andromeda? They were able to destroy planets in that show (I think, though I'm going from memory). Maybe some variation of the Sangraal from Stargate, which was used to destroy energy beings that occupied another dimension (the Ori).
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2008-12-22 11:54am

Partly it is personal taste; I dislike the c'tan because I'm a Moorcock fan, essentially. I think I can see the logic of chaos (ha bloody ha), the broken fragments of the human whole that each of the powers represents; Chaos is a credible threat and a real presence in the universe because it's us, and some of the writers are good enough to run with that.

The c'tan seem bolted on to me, YMMV of couse, but I don't feel that they're anything like as necessary in background and storytelling terms. Chaos being that powerful, no problem; the core four powers are fundamental, they're part of the plumbing of the universe. Their power level fits their narrative importance.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how the c'tan are supposed to be so fundamental a part of the universe as to justify being able to walk over the existing powers, dominions, thrones and principalities as they should do with this level of might; fear of the Other? The blank faceless killers hiding just outside sight and understanding? Is this now supposed to be the dominant trope?

Oh, and to all the comments about game material; where do you think Games Workshop got their name from? Talk about a total context failure...
At least GURPS uses real world units, albeit usually non-SI (Imperial measurement mostly), and the stats are there because they're the closest approach to being able to quantify the blasted thing.
Why the general downer on game mechanics, incidentally? Computer games I can get, but pen and paper includes measurements. Some of them in real numbers. Why is this bad?
That and I just plain like the idea. Think of the endless fun to be had sabotaging manga with a reality enforcement machine. (Which is slightly beyond the remit of the device in question, but I can dream.)

Illuminati University was perpetrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio, the people behind the Girl Genius webcomic, and there is some crossover between the two- Transylvania Polygnostic standing in roughly the same relation to IOU as Clydebank Technical College does to Oxford. So in a convoluted kind of way, the SATAN field is from a webcomic, if that makes you feel better about it.

The Spaceship Zero FTL drive wasn't a cosmic reset button, that was the interesting thing; it wasn't predestined to come out the same way each time. Most of the time some version of the human race, or at least something that had evolved on earth existed. Well, for that set of occasions on which earth existed. It was possible to start again, wipe the universe clean in hope of a new and better world- at the price of killing everything that currently existed. Invoulntary supervillainhood. Two seasons on german TV, I forget which channel, in the late '70's.

Lem's creations are robot constructors, or constructor robots; both are true. Physicists and robotics engineers, with a heavy side order of genuine tinkering mad scientist. The tone of the stories is very much intellectual playfulness, almost an up to date fairytale; mechanical hounds, the Cyberman Pinscher and the Saint Cybernard, are mentioned- outrageous puns, plays on words, plays with ideas. If Narrative Power is anything to go by, killing off Trurl would not be very much easier than catching a fleeing Rincewind.

In the Sixth Sally, in the process of avoiding a dubious bypass drilled through the heart of a (extremely variable) star, Trurl is forced to manufacture a Demon of the Second Kind- Maxwell's Demon, of course- to distract and mesmerise a pirate with intellectual pretensions. Which he does from spare parts.

In the later tale 'Altruizine', Klapaucius, on finding, trying and failing to get any sense out of the Highest Possible Level of Development (the most advanced beings in the universe- bunch of lazy bastards that they are) builds a machine, a Gnostotron, to simulate them. Successfully.

It transpires that they are non interventionist, for the reasons that
"There are, on occasion, deformed robots." said the voice. "If you should vbe aflicted with a hump, for example, but firmly belive the Almighty somehow needs your hump to realise His Cosmic Design and that it was therefore ordained along with the rest of Creation, why, then you may ve reconciled with your deformity. If however, they tell you it's merely the result of a misplaced molecule, an atom or two that happened to go the rong way, then nothing remains but for you to bay at the moon."
But a hump may be straightened," I protested, "and really any deformity corrected, given a high enough level of science!"
"Yes, I know." Sighed the machine. "That's how it appears to the ignorant and simple minded."
"You mean, that isn't true?" Klapaucius and I {the narrator} cried, astounded.
"When a civilisation starts straightening humps", said the machine, "believe me, there's no end to it! You straighten humps, then you repair and amplify the mind, make suns rectilinear, give planets legs, fabricate fates and fortunes of all kinds...oh, it begins innocently enough, like discovering fire by rubbing two sticks together, but [...]omnipotence is most omnipotent when one does nothing." answered the machine. "You climb to reach the summit, but once there, iscover that all roads lead down. We are, after all, sensible folk, why should we want to do anything? Our ancestors, true, turned our sun into a cube and made a box of their planet, arranging their mountains in a monogram, but that was only to test their Gnostotron. They could have just as easily assembled the stars in a checkerboard, extinguished half the heavens and lit up the other half, construted beings peopled with lesser beings, giants whose thoughts would be the intricate dance of a billion pygmies, and they could have redesigned the galaxies, revised the laws of time and space- but tell me, what sense would there have been to any of this? Would the universe be a better place if stars were triangular, or comets went around on wheels?"
p 264-266, Harcourt edition.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by NecronLord » 2008-12-22 03:08pm

Revy wrote:What about those Point Singularity Projectors from Andromeda?
Hilariously inadequate. They didn't even destroy Andromeda herself. They were popular-idea-of-black-holes, which is to say, they were dinky things that gobbled up anything they came into contact with. The writers had no idea about Hawking Radiation.

In any case, yeah, if they hit an astronomical body, they gobble it up. Starships and things, they simply pass right through. They'd not even tickle something as diffuse and vast as a C'tan.
Maybe some variation of the Sangraal from Stargate, which was used to destroy energy beings that occupied another dimension (the Ori).
Technically, according to the Asgard, it generated a ZPM energy wave that cancelled their ability to affect the universe out, like a standing wave. Not going to work on anything without that specific 'frequency' weakness.
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Partly it is personal taste; I dislike the c'tan because I'm a Moorcock fan, essentially. I think I can see the logic of chaos (ha bloody ha), the broken fragments of the human whole that each of the powers represents; Chaos is a credible threat and a real presence in the universe because it's us, and some of the writers are good enough to run with that.
And the C'tan are partially based off the gods of Law (and some Lovecraft, and some Lensmen, and some other stuff). They're essentially unchanging beings created with the universe itself, whose power entirely comes from the natural logical order of physical matter, and who wish to enforce those rules on everything.

The difference is, in a partially sci-fi setting, the magical plane is entirely chaos, and chaotic in nature. Law, by comparison, is a niche far better filled by technology and science than it is by yet more magical juju like Moorcock's Lords of Law.
The c'tan seem bolted on to me, YMMV of couse, but I don't feel that they're anything like as necessary in background and storytelling terms. Chaos being that powerful, no problem; the core four powers are fundamental, they're part of the plumbing of the universe. Their power level fits their narrative importance.
They're not fundamental. It's been the canon since they first showed up in 40K that warp gods are creatable and destructible.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how the c'tan are supposed to be so fundamental a part of the universe as to justify being able to walk over the existing powers, dominions, thrones and principalities as they should do with this level of might; fear of the Other? The blank faceless killers hiding just outside sight and understanding? Is this now supposed to be the dominant trope?
Their encounters with their enemy (warp powers in general, weilded by whomever) have not actually been that much of a walkover.
Why the general downer on game mechanics, incidentally? Computer games I can get, but pen and paper includes measurements. Some of them in real numbers. Why is this bad?
D&D. A 20th level fighter, who's notionally an ordinary human with good training and excellent health, with no magic items, can quite happily survive jumping from a hundred miles high and hitting the ground at terminal velocity. I'm sure GURPS has many other, err, simulation failures of a similar nature if you look. Game mechanics are always to be frowned upon for analysis unless there's something better.
The Spaceship Zero FTL drive wasn't a cosmic reset button, that was the interesting thing; it wasn't predestined to come out the same way each time. Most of the time some version of the human race, or at least something that had evolved on earth existed. Well, for that set of occasions on which earth existed. It was possible to start again, wipe the universe clean in hope of a new and better world- at the price of killing everything that currently existed. Invoulntary supervillainhood. Two seasons on german TV, I forget which channel, in the late '70's.
I guess that could do it. Provided there's no special funkyness required to make it go, like a long charge up time, or anything like that.

Of course, you're just as likely to end up with a fully active thousand galaxy C'tan empire ruled by millions of the buggers. Which makes it, err, not terribly useful.
Lem's creations are robot constructors, or constructor robots; both are true. Physicists and robotics engineers, with a heavy side order of genuine tinkering mad scientist. The tone of the stories is very much intellectual playfulness, almost an up to date fairytale; mechanical hounds, the Cyberman Pinscher and the Saint Cybernard, are mentioned- outrageous puns, plays on words, plays with ideas. If Narrative Power is anything to go by, killing off Trurl would not be very much easier than catching a fleeing Rincewind.

In the Sixth Sally, in the process of avoiding a dubious bypass drilled through the heart of a (extremely variable) star, Trurl is forced to manufacture a Demon of the Second Kind- Maxwell's Demon, of course- to distract and mesmerise a pirate with intellectual pretensions. Which he does from spare parts.

In the later tale 'Altruizine', Klapaucius, on finding, trying and failing to get any sense out of the Highest Possible Level of Development (the most advanced beings in the universe- bunch of lazy bastards that they are) builds a machine, a Gnostotron, to simulate them. Successfully.

It transpires that they are non interventionist, for the reasons that
"There are, on occasion, deformed robots." said the voice. "If you should vbe aflicted with a hump, for example, but firmly belive the Almighty somehow needs your hump to realise His Cosmic Design and that it was therefore ordained along with the rest of Creation, why, then you may ve reconciled with your deformity. If however, they tell you it's merely the result of a misplaced molecule, an atom or two that happened to go the rong way, then nothing remains but for you to bay at the moon."
But a hump may be straightened," I protested, "and really any deformity corrected, given a high enough level of science!"
"Yes, I know." Sighed the machine. "That's how it appears to the ignorant and simple minded."
"You mean, that isn't true?" Klapaucius and I {the narrator} cried, astounded.
"When a civilisation starts straightening humps", said the machine, "believe me, there's no end to it! You straighten humps, then you repair and amplify the mind, make suns rectilinear, give planets legs, fabricate fates and fortunes of all kinds...oh, it begins innocently enough, like discovering fire by rubbing two sticks together, but [...]omnipotence is most omnipotent when one does nothing." answered the machine. "You climb to reach the summit, but once there, iscover that all roads lead down. We are, after all, sensible folk, why should we want to do anything? Our ancestors, true, turned our sun into a cube and made a box of their planet, arranging their mountains in a monogram, but that was only to test their Gnostotron. They could have just as easily assembled the stars in a checkerboard, extinguished half the heavens and lit up the other half, construted beings peopled with lesser beings, giants whose thoughts would be the intricate dance of a billion pygmies, and they could have redesigned the galaxies, revised the laws of time and space- but tell me, what sense would there have been to any of this? Would the universe be a better place if stars were triangular, or comets went around on wheels?"
p 264-266, Harcourt edition.
Most of that stuff has just lost me completely, it's so obscure and context dependant. Drilling holes through stars? It's clear stars in that universe work nothing like they do in 40K or reality.

That last one is interesting, and one supposes it might be able to do it. But again, it could all be utter hyperbole.
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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Vain » 2008-12-22 06:18pm

To have a realistic shot of killing one ... to be able to inflict very rapid mass destruction upon a star on which they’re feeding at the time
Nothing the Culture has, that we know of, would be able to do it.
The Idirans blew up stars in their war with the Culture (see Consider Phlebas, Look to Windward). I don't know of any examples of the Culture performing the same feat, but given their technology and warmaking potential were supposed to be superior to the Idirans at the time, and certainly in the 'present' hundreds of years later, it doesn't seem beyond the pale. If a supernova could harm a C'tan (I don't know) it seems within the capabilities of the Culture to bring one about. Whether even Minds could manage to get the drop on the Nightbringer is anyone's guess.

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Re: Killing a C'tan

Post by Vultur » 2008-12-22 06:24pm

I have to nitpick; in D&D, a 20th level fighter isn't meant to be "an ordinary human with good training and excellent health"; 20th level is a mythic hero on the level of Beowulf or Achilles. 11th level is supposed to be the point where someone becomes a true legend.
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