Standard Template Construct
The Standard Template Construct (STC) systems were complex analytical and processing programs, artificial intelligences, created during the Dark Age of Technology (M21 - M23). They are said to have contained the entirety of human technological knowledge up to that point. Following the Age of Technology, the systems became increasingly rare, until becoming lost entirely. In the current Age of the Imperium, the ancient technological knowledge survives only because it was preserved in STC hard copies.
The Dark Age of Technology saw the original development of the technology the Imperium is now reliant on, which was encapsulated into the STC systems. Along with the creation of Warp Drive technology and the human mutants known as Navigators, the STC systems were one of the major factors in mankind's expansion outside the solar system and his conquest of the stars. The STC allowed disparate mankind to maintain a standard level of technology. A complete, functioning STCs system was an evolved computer designed to provide construction details for human colonists, enabling them to build efficient shelters, generators and transports without any prior knowledge and using almost any locally available materials. For example, the user simply asked how to build a house or a tractor and the computer would supply all the necessary plans.
The Age of Strife
During the Age of Strife, the STC systems lapsed into disuse and decayed, becoming increasingly unreliable and quirky. On some worlds they were maintained, but most suffered damage by enthusiastic software specialists or subsequent jury-rigging. Hard copies of the information they contained survived much longer, and were frequently copied and passed down from generation to generation.
Some Imperial historians have theorized that scientists during the Age of Technology foresaw the coming of the Age of Strife, and created the STCs to ensure that their knowledge would not be lost to future generations.
The Age of the Imperium
In the Age of the Imperium, working STCs are practically unknown. The recovery of fragments of an STC or the templates used in one is the primary focus of the Adeptus Mechanicus's quest for knowledge. Part of this quest is also to find, collate and utilise STC print-outs. The STC is their equivalent to the font of all knowledge (which is exactly what it was intended to be). Ancient recovered print-outs from STCs are regarded as sacred texts. The Mechanicus strives to recover as much information as possible from them, hoping to find new knowledge, weapons and technologies. Although the most advanced technological information eludes the Adeptus Mechanicus, through their efforts, much has been either recovered or reconstructed through comparison of copies.[Needs Citation]
Probably the most significant find of an STC fragment was by Magos Arkhan Land in M31. This fragment contained the templates for the construction of the now famous Land Raider Main Battle Tank, and the Land Speeder, all named in honour of their discoverer. An intact, functional STC is so rare in the galaxy as to be regarded as almost mythical, an impossibility. Nevertheless, even a rumour that such a system has been found is enough to prompt a Mechanicus expedition to locate it. If a working STC could be found, it would revolutionize the entire Imperium. The technologies lost during the Age of Strife would bring humankind back to its zenith of power, pushing the boundaries of the Imperium further, and emasculating the aliens threatening mankind.[Needs Citation]
Significant STC discoveries
- During the Great Crusade, the STC for the Leman Russ Battle Tank was discovered by the Space Wolves after they had destroyed the Noman xenos. They named the fruits of the STC in honor of their Primarch.
- An STC for a combat knife was discovered by two Imperial Guard Scouts that was "sharper and lighter and tougher." They were hailed as heroes for this discovery, and received a planet each. The knife was adopted by 30 chapters of the Adeptus Astartes.
- A Standard Template Constructor, designed to produce the legendary Men of Iron, was discovered on the planet Menazoid Epsilon, during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt. However, the Constructor had been corrupted by the long-time occupation of the planet by the forces of Chaos, and so Gaunt ordered it destroyed, inadvertently thwarting the plans of Lord Militant Hechtor Dravere and Radical Inquisitor Golesh Heldane to use the Men of Iron for their own advancement.
- An STC library is located on the planet Hito. This planet escaped the Warp and was reclaimed by the Imperium. The library was hidden by the local Order of Heavenly Virtues who managed to deceive Imperial agents.
- An original STC Titan, a "Castigor-class autonomous bipedal weapons platform, created for fire support and siege operations", was discovered on the planet Chaeroneia. It was quite larger than an Imperator Titan and of superior technology.
- An STC called Panacea was found on the Imperial Forge World Verdigris IX, a medical miracle that could save billions of human lives from poison and disease, but it was stolen by the Dark Eldar Malys and her Kabal in the Panacea Wars.
- Following the Age of Apostasy the Centurion STC was discovered.
- Standard Templates for weapon suits known as the XV Bellam Ravager and Thermae Missile Suit were discovered by the Adeptus Mechanicus, but proved too difficult to reproduce.
- An STC was discovered within the space Hulk Death of Integrity. Archmagos Plosk was able to download a significant fraction of the STC database. This was an uncorrupted STC, but it was insane with grief over the death of its captain. The starship Death of Integrity was one of the last STCs created and was capable of both time travel and intergalactic travel.
- 1: First And Only by Dan Abnett, Chapter 23
- 2: Monastery of Death (Short Story) by Charles Stross
- 3: Dark Adeptus by Ben Counter, [Needs Citation]
- 4: White Dwarf 245 (UK), pg. 21, by Gav Thorpe
- 5: Codex Imperialis by Rick Priestley, pg. 42
- 6: Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pgs. 16-17
- 7: Index Astartes: Centurions
- 8: The Horus Heresy Book Seven pg.81
- 9: Death of Integrity pg. 404
- 10: Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader pg. 271