Bionics in the Imperium of Man are mechanical or electronic substitutes for biological limbs or organs. Generally the bionic replacement is stronger, more durable or effective than the original, or gives its user completely new abilities. The use of bionics is widespread in the Imperium. However, bionics are expensive and mostly limited to valuable servants of the Imperium, such as veteran warriors or skilled adepts, high-ranking Imperial officials, Inquisitors, merchants, Rogue Traders, planetary rulers and members of the Imperial nobility who possess the required wealth.
Effects and Distribution
An individual may have artificial, bionic limbs and organs implanted to replace diseased or damaged parts, or simply to improve their abilities. Bionics include partial and full replacements of organic body parts, brain implants, cybernetic weaponry and other devices. There is no standard level of bionic technology throughout the Imperium - many bionics are clumsy and inefficient replacements, while the best can replicate or even improve upon the performance of the original limb or organ. The Inquisition's bionics are among the more sophisticated and can reverse what would otherwise be fatal or crippling injuries. In most Imperial Guard Regiments, only the officers will have access to bionic equipment. On the other hand, there are a few regiments where virtually every soldier is bionically enhanced. Also, the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter is infamous for making extensive use of bionics, almost to the point of removing all flesh in favour of machinery, much like the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus. In fact, personnel in practically all branches of the Imperium use bionics in some capacity. Even some particularly wealthy members of the Imperial citizenry can afford, and have been known to use, bionics. Although bionic parts are mechanical, many of them are tied into the user's bloodstream, nerve endings, etc., so damage to one may be as debilitating as an injury to the original organic part, although in general bionic replacements are a lot more durable than their organic counterparts.
- Bionic Organs - For the wealthy or privileged of the Imperium, bionics can replace diseased or aged organs and therefore offer an increased life-span. Practically any organ can be replaced, even parts of the human brain. The simplest bionics are mere replacements, while the more advanced increase the functionality and performance of the organ beyond its previous capacity.
- Bionic Senses - Such is the level of technology in certain parts of the Imperium that bionic senses can replace eyes, ears, noses, and even touch and taste. More advanced bionic senses can even produce effects of synaesthesia. Bionic eyes can increase a subject's visual spectrum, allowing the ability to see heat, other forms of energy, etc., as well as incorporating advanced weapons targeters and resistance to the effects of blinding flashes. The addition of digi-weapons into bionic eyes is also not unknown for high-ranking individuals. Bionic hearing can improve normal hearing to the point where the user can hear living creatures breathing, hearts beating, etc.
- Bionic Implants - Implants come in all shapes and sizes, from memory upgrades for the brain to implanted weapons. Some of the more esoteric bionic implants are listed below. The Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus are infamous for making use of extensive bionic implants, and some of the more exotic ones they create are used solely by them. This list is by no means exhaustive.
- Psi-Booster - A Psi-Booster increases activity in the part of the brain responsible for controlling psychic ability and accessing the psychic energies of the Warp. A person with one of these implants is usually a proficient psyker and has greater control over his powers compared to someone of the same ability without a psi-booster.
- Mind Impulse Unit (MIU) - A Mind Impulse Unit (MIU) is a neural link between a sentient brain and a piece of electronic equipment, allowing an individual to control and monitor an electronic system by thought alone. MIU's are most commonly used by Space Marine Dreadnoughts and the crews of the gigantic Titans of the Adeptus Mechanicus but are rarely seen elsewhere. The other uses entail shoulder-mounted weapons which allows the user to fire a weapon whilst keeping both hands free. In some rare cases the weapon is not shoulder-mounted but is carried as normal; the MIU allows the user a greater intimacy with his weapon's internal workings, such as ammunition count or barrel temperature. This is sometimes found amongst the Skitarii Tech-Guard of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Wireless MIUs also exist, although they are exceptionally rare and are used to control mechanical familiars or certain types of Servitor. This type of MIU is most common when the user cannot perform a common task himself (perhaps being too large to fit somewhere) or when he prefers to stay out of harm's way.
- Implant Weaponry - An implanted weapon is one that has been grafted onto an existing limb, replacing a hand or occasionally the entire arm, and is controlled by a simpler MIU than that needed for a more sophisticated device. The obvious benefit of finer weapon control is substantially offset by the loss of hand or arm functionality outside of combat. This bionic is thus not especially practical, and is usually intended to intimidate, as the surgery used to graft them onto the user is often quite crude, leaving gruesome suture scars frightening above and beyond the "body horror" qualities of the implant itself. Another reason for implantation of bionic weapons is the user not being expected to need his arm for other tasks; this approach is most often seen in the cases of pit slave gladiators or certain types of combat Servitor.
- Mechadendrites - Mechadendrites are mechanical tendrils used by the Adeptus Mechanicus to aid them in construction, maintenance, and research. These bionics contain small motors and actuators within their armoured shells and wave about the tech-priest implanted with them almost with a life of their own.
- Electoos - Electoos are metallic strips bonded sub-dermally that enable tech-priests to channel limited amounts of electromagnetic energy; an extreme example are the renowned Electro-priests, who turn themselves into crackling founts of electricity in battle for the Adeptus Mechanicus. Electoos enable the user to directly absorb electromagnetic energy from equipment or other power sources and then expel it, with sometimes devastating results.
- Rite of Pure Thought - The Rite of Pure Thought is considered an extreme measure even among some Tech-priests. The creative, emotional, illogical right hemisphere of the human brain is replaced with a Cogitator (computer) linked directly to the logical left hemisphere. This frees the recipient of any irrationality and illogic, though it also essentially eliminates much of what makes him or her human.
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), p. 70
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), "Technology in the Age of the Imperium"
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), p. 120
- Inquisitor Rulebook (Specialty Game)
- Soul Drinker (Novel) by Ben Counter