|This article is about the machine spirit; for the short story by Nick Kyme, see Machine Spirit (Short Story).|
A machine spirit is what the Imperium refers to as the inner workings and automated systems within their technology. These are distinct from forbidden A.I., as unlike the former Machine Spirits lack the ability to enhance themselves. The maintenance and functioning of Machine Spirits in all Imperial technology is overseen by the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
The advanced system consists of a combination of organic and mechanical components within the vehicle and in essence act as automated systems. Not all vehicles are equipped with such systems, but vehicles that are can operate entirely on their own without a crew, with some success. The Adeptus Mechanicus believes that Machine Spirits can be influenced by religious rituals and are near-bestial in nature, capable of exhibiting emotions such as hatred and stubbornness. In particular, the machine spirits of Titans and Knights are revered for their intensity and require elaborate awakening and taming rituals. With devices such as the Throne Mechanicum, pilots of these engines can link with a Machine Spirit directly.
The addition of a machine spirit is advantageous in the case of the vehicle's crew being killed or incapacitated, as the auto-systems are able to take control of the vehicle, firing its weapons and driving (providing the systems themselves are still functional). The machine spirit however cannot fully replace the abilities of trained human pilots (going that far might trespass on the Imperium's condemnation of Abominable Intelligences, and could garner the attention of the Inquisition).
Two of the most advanced and powerful types of machine spirit are those found within Land Raiders and Drop Pods. A drop pod uses its abilities to handle course corrections and to avoid collisions into dangerous terrain or anti-aircraft fire. Upon landing, it reroutes all logic processing into target acquisition and shooting for any on board weapons. A Land Raider's machine spirit is capable of virtually taking control of the entire tank for short periods of time, even so far as being able to track multiple targets and engage them simultaneously, or let the tank travel max speed and still unleash heavier weapons than normally permitted. One such famous tale is the Land Raider known as Rynn's Might that belonged to the Crimson Fists Chapter, which survived the missile that leveled their fortress-monastery. Despite not having any crew on board, the machine spirit fought a solo war against an attacking Ork Warband, killing its Warboss and many of his followers overnight, before finally being destroyed.
Machine Spirits are capable of being corrupted by Chaos, transforming its technology into something that is impure and heretical to the Imperium. The Adeptus Mechanicus also believes that Xenos technology lacks proper Machine Spirits and are thus abhorrent.
- 1: Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 25
- 2: Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 81
- 3: Corpus Auxilia Mechanicus, materials for 'Inquisitor' Skirmish Game (last accessed 28 October 2017)
- 4: Adeptus Titanicus (2018) Rulebook, pgs. 93-97
- 5: Codex: Imperial Knights (7th Edition) - The Throne Mechanicum
- 6: Codex: Cult Mechanicus (7th Edition) - The Cult Mechanicus
- 7: Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pg. 161
- 8: Machine Spirit (Short Story)