|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 Abominable Intelligence, as they 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). However, the machine spirit normally 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).[Needs Citation]
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.
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.
Autonomy of machine spirits
Even though machine spirits should not be capable of fully autonomous behavior, it has been documented that machine spirits of a certain age are, in fact, capable of exactly that. The most famous example are the ancient Itinerant Kastelan Robots which operate independently until arriving on battlefields, where they allow Tech-Priests to control them, but sever this control once the battle is over. Land Raider machine spirits are also known of being able to fight without human intervention. For instance, the Land Raider known as Rynn's Might that belonged to the Crimson Fists Chapter was able to fight Orks even though it had no crew on board, waging a solo war against the Xenos, killing one of their Warbosses and many of his followers overnight, before finally being destroyed. Finally, the Lightning fighter plane Indomitable Spirit was known to have developed a stubborn and aggressive character during its very long career, aiding its Imperial pilots in numerous ways in combat. When it was captured by the Chaos-aligned Blood Pact, the Indomitable Spirit even seized full control, crashing itself to prevent its new Chaos pilot from shooting down an Imperial aircraft.
- 1: Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 25
- 2: Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 81
- 3: Fanatic Online Issue 60: Inquisitor: Corpus Auxilla Mechanicus, Factions of the Adeptus Mechanicus
- 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)
- 9: Adeptus Mechanicus: The Enigma of Flesh (Short Story)
- 10: Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (8th Edition), pgs. 24-25
- 11: Indomitable Spirit (Short Story)