Monday, March 16, 2015

Trek to the Stars pt 6: The Inevitable Momentum of History

In this post I will be digging into the specifics of the timeline as well as talking about the genetically modified humans and the uplifts. I also bring up some issues I have run into with the previous posts. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, or any ideas you have for the setting or mechanics. Here are links to the previous posts in this project, should you wish to look through them:
The Original Idea
Part 1 Initial setting ideas and influences
Part 2 How skill rolls will work
Part 3 Campaign Frameworks
Part 4 History and Technology
Part 5 Discussion of Keys and Secrets

Timeline of the Future
2039 The first enhance combat prosthesis is fielded successfully. Mechanical human enhancement becomes more common as the century moves forward.

2045-2053 A worldwide depression begins and runs for nearly a decade.

2052 The fusion reactor is invented by engineers working for Lockheed Martin, within ten years they have revolutionized energy across the planet. The economy booms.

2060-2075 The First diaspora begins. The mass colonization of the inner solar system begins with the great scientists and explorers of the age. Mars terraforming begins and specialists flock to it. The beginnings of the flying cities of Venus also take shape. A science station is put in orbit around Mercury to study the sun.

2091 The African shipyards and mass driver. Three hundred kilometer long mass driver the spouts up through a mountain for launch.

2094-2145 The second diaspora begins as space craft reach a relatively low price. Many begin an exodus to the asteroid field and the moons of Saturn Jupiter and Uranus.

2110-2134 The Last War begins as tensions between colonies and the old powers. This is a war of surgical strikes and political maneuvering. Furious bouts of fighting last for moments and there are great stretches of tense ceasefires. The alpha mod for humans were created during the war, and they ended it when they utilized there natural abilities to wipe out several key leaders and cities taking control of most of central Africa. they were defeated, though several thousand made it into space before they could be taken out. This united hatred of the Alphas ended the war. Mars was ceded to two major colony powers, the neo fascists and compassionate communists(like the federation).

2134 Comet Halley makes it rounds through the inner system once again. A group of scientists tether a small probe to the comet to gather data, continuously.

2140 Oldest person in recorded history dies at age of 150. In the future this becomes more common as advances in medicine become more easily available. By the end of the century the average lifespan has become 110 years old.

2145-Now Saturnian Conflicts: after a generation of colonization the various colonies began to fight over the rights to mine He^3 several family run mines became massive corporations and began to issue letters of marque on the harvesters of the rival clans. It soon began to near open war, until the concord was reached. The families(as they became known) agreed to never use total war and the war they would practice had to follow several severe limits. This has led to a pseudo feudal state where all the families agree to operate as a united whole while fighting for power through ritualized warfare. In fact warfare is one of the few areas of upward mobility among the people of Saturn. Battles are either against the concord and hidden or with the concord and celebrated.

2175-Now The third Diaspora has begun. Ship and fusion generator prices reach an all time low. Colonists head for the outer planets in droves. Many fail and die in the black, but some make it and strike it rich. Stories of the expansion fill most of the output of the mass entertainment. Earth begins to empty as economic, religious, and political pressures drive people to take to the stars.

2199 The first Raccoon uplifts are discovered. They had been created by some genius with access to a highly advanced lab, yet no one took credit. The first Raccoon uplift remains a mystery to this day, and many a conspiracy theorist claims to know the truth. Examining the uplifts led to advances in the field, allowing for the Raven uplift program to succeed.

2206 The first cybernetic gestalt goes online in a station in orbit around Jupiter.

2209 the martian Space elevator is finally finished after a decade of delay.

2221 First colonist sets foot on Eris, which soon becomes the hub of trade in and around the Kuiper belt. Soon after Haumea and Makemake are also colonized.

2256 The first independent miners begin mining on Mercury. Through hard work, ingenuity, and luck they begin to make a profit. Soon corporations begin to form, as do unions, and conflict begins in earnest between all the forces seeking to control mining on Mercury.

2342 The Alcubierre Shunt is invented by W-Y Corp and within twenty years there will be at least one in orbit of seven of the eight planets, Neptune is still missing a shunt. There is still some fear among the populous about travelling by this method.

2356-2360 Neo fascist Mars has recently fallen to balkanization after a major civil war. The old government lost much territory in the north to several smaller break away nations. They have hunkered down and begun focusing on keeping control of the remaining territory.

2358-Now The Uranian colonies have begun selling cheap He^3 to the other colonies for fusion power. This has cut into the profit margin of the Saturnian regency, who had close to a monopoly on He^3 for nearly a hundred years. The regency has begun encouraging revolts within the various Uranian states. This region is incredibly politically dangerous.

2365 Now

The Clades
The clades are genetically modified humans who breed true. Currently there are four clades in existence: Alphas, Atavists, Angels, and Aewar. They have all existed as clades for over two hundred years. Some do not even consider themselves to be human anymore. They see themselves as separate from humans in all ways that matter. Most folk view those who believe such things as deluded in one form or another.
  • Alpha: physically and mentally superior in most ways(though not by a massive margin), though they have severe megalomania and paranoia. they rend to only live out past the belt, as their betrayal is still remembered in the inner system. Often are viewed as untrustworthy, crazy, and dangerous.
  • Atavists: physically stronger and faster, thicker bones and advanced healing. Downsides emotionally fragile and poor vision(colorblind and near sighted), their muscle density makes swimming very difficult. Folks tend to view them as slow and stupid, though they are not. 
  • Angels: Living in micro gravity or extreme low gravity environments they are the most common, and yet the most extreme, modified humans. They have modded themselves with lighter bone and muscles designed to resist atrophy in order to survive as well as bioluminescent patches of skin allowing them to work and communicate in the dark times in space. They have difficulty in any gravity over .5 Gs, and tend toward being tall and thin. They also have fairly heavy light sensitivity and must wear protective goggles in lighting designed for normal human comfort.
  • Aewar: They have enhanced senses and spatial understanding they can do many things that humans today would view impossible. They have live life on emotional mute and have difficulty making big decisions. Need to work on this.
Folks who have had post utero modifications, have been modified in a new way that does not pass on to the next generation, or are singular in their modifications. They have real issues with diseases, their immune systems are shot. They can get very powerful, but they must take so many drugs and immuno-suppressants that even a simple cold can kill them.

There are currently two major species in the later stages of genetic uplift: Ravens and Raccoons. There had been serious attempts at uplifting great apes, by the time technology had reached that level very few ape remained in the wild or in captivity. The gene pool was too small. Whales and dolphins have gone through several uplift programs, but there seems to be some fundamental difference in thinking required for cetacean undersea life and communication that provides a divide that has yet to be crossed.

  • Raccoon: They stand between 3' and 4' tall(not counting the tail). Their skull size and brain capacity have been increased slightly more. No one is quite sure who did the first uplift procedure on raccoons initially, but it was brilliant work. There is a legend among them that they somehow uplifted themselves, most folk discount this theory.
  • Ravens: Have increased in size significantly, nearing 40lb with a wingspan of 8 feet or more, they are superlative communicators and excellent at non-linear abstract thought. There has been a recent surge in demand for Raven artwork throughout the inner system. Ravens are also excellent organizers and have been involved in much of the terraforming projects throughout the solar system. They are especially common on Mars, usually overseeing new construction or agriculture. 

Uplift specific technology
Waldoes: Ravens do not have hands and so they require a special mechanical frame to interact with devices designed for human uses. This frame allows for the raven to control a set of mechanical arms using its feet and beak.

I would like to explore this idea a bit more. The idea for technology that helps uplifts interact in human society. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Some technical notes
Solar Sails and lasers: You can travel at a fairly sedate speed or you can hire a laser satellite from a nearby planet to launch you at greater velocities. These lasers serve a double purpose. They serve to enhance speed, and they serve to defend a planet or nation from orbital threats.

Alcubierre Bubble as transport without a shunt: I see the warp bubble as being something that can only be initiated and stopped by a shunt. Once you are in the warp bubble, you are in it until some external force breaks the bubble. Currently the only thing that can is the shunt. So you need a shunt at the starting point, and another shunt at the end point. You could send someone to Alpha Centauri, but they would end up slamming into the planet or star and dying, or flying right past forever. Perhaps normal ships cannot make the trip. Perhaps whet they do is take material and personnel to the shunt and they board massive cargo/passenger ships that travel to the next shunt in the line where they disembark onto various smaller craft to go to the various `planets/moons/dwarf planets/asteroids. I would really like these to work like a train system. You would have one in orbit around all the inner planets

Artificial Intelligence: I am leaning toward a suggestion by +Paul Mitchener in that AI should require a powerful "quantum computer" in order to function. This does bring in some problems though. It requires quite a lot of power that would not really be portable on a man size frame, and so would require a power satellite or the equivalent. This is problematic as it means that players either could not play them or would have really weird restrictions on playing them. I would love to hear any thoughts on reworking AI into something more playable while still fitting within the themes and tones for this setting as established so far. Basically I am extrapolating from current technology, or current theory to the next degree.

H'okay, so that is what I have so far. I would love to hear any comments, critiques or complaints.