We always hear that in DAoT, there was technology enabling humans to basically do everything. Some examples are named, e.g. the Men of Iron and Artificial Intelligence. Are there more examples of what was possible?

For the peak of other races, we also have examples. Necrons had the Celestial Orrery, Eldars were able to create their own gods using psionics and I've also heard there was a device that could fulfill ones wishes. What are humans highest technological achievements?

  • It seems doubtful that there's anything even close to attempting to be a complete list. From a writer's perspective, Dark Age tech is a bit like Superman's Red Kryptonite - it's a way to introduce an interesting plot device without worrying that by next Tuesday, there'll be a copy on every street corner. It's powerful, inexplicable, and unique. So, there's not much incentive for GW to limit themselves by explicitly stating more than needed.
    – Cadence
    Sep 26, 2019 at 14:11
  • Sorry if I've stated this wrongly. I don't want a complete and definitive list of what is possible. It's more a request for some examples of what was possible during humanities peak to get an idea of the level of technology they've reached.
    – Shade
    Sep 26, 2019 at 14:42

3 Answers 3


The main thing that was possible was the ability to create and make new STC's, develop new tech and ideas and investigate the limits of technological advancements. Humanity could develop and grow and the technology could alongside them, innovation was encouraged and so new designs where being created all the time. IN addition Warp travel was discovered and travel to other planets in distant systems was achieved.

In the "Modern era" there are no newly created STC's there are no new technologies or developments, all there is are the rediscovery of technologies that have been lost, and many of these are misunderstood, the tech priests know they work, but not the how, or the why. The Adeptus mechanicus is prohibited from carrying out true development and innovation. Humanity has stagnated, or it could be argued is sinking backwards as technologies are slowly being lost.

If you take the example of the Imperial Knight. In the Dark age of technology the components that made it up would be intricately known and the way they worked would be fully understood. Therefore if one broke, needed maintenance, or was going to be upgraded or improved, it could be made as good as new on any forgeworld, and if it couldn't immediately factories could be built to allow it to be.

In the "modern era" alot of the technologies has become myth, the tech priests understand that you need to to certain things to activate and use it, but they don't understand the how or the why. They know that if this part breaks it can be replaced, but being able to build a new knight from scratch, or conceive of how the process would begin, without the correct STC template would be beyond anyone. The Modern knight vs the DAoT knight may not be technologically different, but, it would be better maintained, better understood and may, have better weapons who's STC has been lost to the ravages of time.

However in answer to your question, what was possible, "anything that an engineer could think of". Institutions wouldn't stop an idea from being created (hence Abominable Intelligence etc), whole worlds lived in Virtual Reality, Planets where terraformed and made livable in a way the imperium cant achieve now. But the main thing is that technology advanced and developed.

  • But I doubt that humans had the ability to create a Celestial Orrery equivalent. So, at the end of DAoT, where did they stand? Imperial Knights and AI, spaceships like in 40k but turned to 11? Or are there technologies described in the lore that are really like "Holy Emperor, that's bloody impressive and completely out of anything an engineer might think of today.' Cause looking at our current development, Imperial Knights and spaceship do not seem so far fetched.
    – Shade
    Sep 27, 2019 at 8:49
  • You are comparing Humanity at the time to a race who had existed for millenia longer. If Humanity had continued on its path and the Age of Strife not happened then yes, probably greater wonders would have created. Remember during the age of technology, towards the end, humanity fought against its own AI creations, great machines that could perform wonders we cannot imagine. Only to then turn on Humanity. out of this Humanity took a backwards step. That is part of the narrative of the 40K universe, Humanity never reached its potential, it got so close, then fell.
    – Richard C
    Sep 27, 2019 at 10:03
  • No, that's exactly it. "wonders we cannot imagine". What are those wonders? Are there any examples given in the lore what was the cutting edge human reached at the end of DAoT, before having to fight to AI.
    – Shade
    Sep 27, 2019 at 10:30
  • 2
    The only thing I can remember being mentioned is in the short story Perpetual, wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Perpetual_(Audio_Drama), Oll Persson is stuck in Andrioch. "Half of the city was missing, Persson speculated that the wound could have been formed by powerful weapons used by Iron Men and the human alliances: sun snuffers, mechnavores that could hurl continents, or omniphage swarms that could devour biological matter. In particular, the city was probably destroyed by a mechanvore that was able to wound both the physical and spiritual universe."
    – Richard C
    Sep 27, 2019 at 11:19
  • I think I remember reading somewhere that Knights were used for clearing forests for new settlements, so that might be able to give a bit of scale to what they were able to accomplish back then.
    – Daishozen
    Oct 9, 2019 at 17:14

Standard Template Constructs

A Standard Template Construct (STC) system was an advanced, artificially intelligent computer database created during the Dark Age of Technology said to have contained the sum total of human scientific and technological knowledge.

The STC was invented when human interstellar civilisation was at its technological peak. Introduced during the Dark Age of Technology before the onset of the Age of Strife, an STC allowed workers to build anything from a Lasgun to a fortified bunker or the fearsome interstellar warships now used by the Imperial Navy. STC systems possessed the ability not just to store information but also to produce new designs to meet changing circumstances.

They're the pretty much the most sought after items in the 40k universe, from a technology standpoint anyway. They contain the blueprints to all sorts of incredible things mankind created but can't remember how to build anymore. Imperial Knights for example.

  • Or the Castigator Titan. But what made them superior to todays Imperial Knights? Why is the STC such a marvel of technology? That it's valuable as they contain the tech is obvious.
    – Shade
    Sep 26, 2019 at 15:21

There are a few examples of devices used by Men of Iron (an autonomous AI that rebelled some time during the DAOT) that you can find: apparently they had spaceships the size of Saturn rings, that were able to snuff-out stars in a way similar to the Starkiller base from Star Wars. They were also using giant constructs called Mechnivore that were able to chew whole continents, like the Galactus from Marvel.

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