Think Machines

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Skill Type: Specialty Skill
Base Skill: Technology

  • Technology 3+
  • Mental Attributes cannot be Tertiary
  • Engineer Guild Membership or Engineer Status of 2+

Perhaps the most valuable or at least broadly applicable of the Engineering skills, this specialty skill allows the character to operate, repair, and even reprogram the mysterious think machines that govern nearly all advanced technology in the galaxy. Though various nobles houses, church groups, and even Guilds have different ways of using their think machines and different ways of programming them, a master of this skill will learn to use them all.

This skill aids in the restoration of any tech with a think machine integrated in some vital way, especially starships and golems. It’s vital for extracting data from malfunctioning or corrupted think machines, and it’s needed for anything but the most basic use of functioning ones. Because of the inherent utility of think machines, people with this skill are in high demand both among the Guild, and also among the Nobility and Church.

There are various programming languages associated with think machines, and it takes time to get to know all of them. An Engineer begins with 2 languages, Suprema, and one other of her choice. Each time she gains a dot in this skill she can learn another language. A brief listing and description of languages is listed below.

  • Suprema: The original language for Guild and 2nd Republic think machines. A more advanced version exists, but the Engineering guild usually insists on teaching the basics first.
  • Turing: The more advanced version of Suprema, this is commonly the language used on very advanced starcraft and terraforming devices, as well as the best utility think machines. It can be programmed in without learning the language if the user understands Suprema, at a -3 penalty.
  • Constantiople: The language used most by the Reeve Guild, this language is supposed to be optimized for financial data but most Engineers don’t consider it optimized at all. All rolls on systems with Constantinople are penalized by -2 dice, even for a user who knows the programing language. Without knowledge of the language, it becomes impossible to use.
  • Link: This strange and almost assembly-level language is the basis for the AI programming of Golems. Understanding of Suprema or Turing is required to learn Link, but they don’t aid in attempts to program it without learning Link first.
  • Lex V.V: The language used on Church think machines, it’s based on Latin and considered highly cumbersome by non-church programmers. Any attempt to program in Lex without a Theology Skill of 2 or more imposes a -2 penalty.
  • Ië: The programming language of the Ur-Obun, it’s irritating for humans to use on an almost instinctual level, as it was developed independently of human society for and by the Obun. That doesn’t make it more difficult to use, just ‘uncomfortable’ for human programmers. The Obun likewise dislike many of the structures of human languages.

Advanced Use: When the character has at least 3 dots in this specialty skill, she becomes confident enough on the hardware-end of think machine theory to manufacture and build new think machines. This process requires either access to the right parts, or a very advanced production facility that can make the delicate processors and memory units that think machines require.

  • Also at this level, the user can spend 2 experience points to learn a new think machine language, in addition to the free ones that are learned by increasing the skill.

Non-Human Tech: Assuming that the character knows the programming language in question, non-human systems are as easy to use as human ones. Most alien languages require that they be learned before the character can program in the system, as they aren’t intuitive to humans. Simply using an alien think machine is quite possible with this skill, having only a -1 penalty instead of the usual -2 or -3 imposed by the base Technology skill.

Annunki Tech: The ancients did not use anything that mortals recognize as a think machine, so this skill does not apply to Annunki tech. This has been a great disappointment to engineers and scientists through the ages, who wasted a lot of time looking for the computer cores when they first discovered the Jumpgates.

Think Machines

The Unblinking Eye Drascus