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Thread: Sci-fi Setting: Concepts for a Sequel

  1. #41
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Security and Defence: Praefects, Men-At-Arms and Janissaries


    "Where Thufir Hawat goes, death and deceit follow."
    "You malign him."
    "Malign? I praise him. Death and deceit are our only hopes now. I just don't fool myself about Thufir's methods."
    -Dune

    "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent."
    -Salvor Hardin, Foundation

    Praefects- Law-enforcers primarily trained to deal with internal threats: counter-terrorism, interrogation, insertions/infiltration, manhunts and rescue operations. Prefer to capture their opponents alive, generally have decent stealth and social skills.
    Examples: Section 9 from Ghost in the Shell, Deckard from Blade Runner, and the Operative from Serenity

    Men-At-Arms- The armed forces and standing military, trained primarily to deal with external threats: open war, peacekeeping, palace security. Boast versatile weapon skills, a thorough knowledge of tactics, superb discipline and matchless loyalty.
    Examples: Zoe Alleyne from Firefly, Colonel Saul Tigh from Battlestar Galactica, and Duncan Idaho from Dune

    Janissaries- Fresh recruits drawn into service by the promise of a better life and trained to serve a new master, drawn from the hellish backgrounds of jungle, ice, desert, hive or prison worlds. Resourceful, lethal, surprisingly stealthy, often cybernetically/genetically enhanced.
    Examples: Riddick from Pitch Black, the Fremen from Dune, and Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000
    Last edited by Alfryd; 24-10-2009 at 12:39. Reason: Single Pic.

  2. #42
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    So- those are the mundane classes. I'll probably discuss the subject a bit more in a later post, but two things:

    1. I'm not making a hard distinction between henchmen/citizens and heroes here. So, a lot of these would/could fulfill the functions of peasants/palace guards/tax collectors.

    2. There are lots of possible 'upgrade paths' here- e.g, Ecologists -> Shapers, Collective, or Keepers, and Aesthetes -> Sept Mothers, Initiates or Shapers. But it might also be instructive to get away from the idea of having a single 'class' for every character. Why not mix and match different descriptors using a simple lifepath system? (e.g, Freeborn/Man-At-Arms/Aesthete if you want a Gurney Halleck, or a Highborn/Aesthete/Palatine if you wanted a River Tam. There's also no reason why couldn't have, e.g, an Initiate/Sept Mother, a Logician/Palatine, or an Oracle/Artificer.)

    EDIT: Pictures fixed
    Last edited by Alfryd; 24-10-2009 at 13:58.

  3. #43
    its not just you having trouble loading the pics. alfryd you should own a company your ideas are better than most companys and could really work even if they are mostly rip offs but hey still awesome,

  4. #44
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdfish View Post
    Very, very thoughtful Alfryd. I think indirect control in scifi setting could actually work with your ideas. and it could even be fun ! I look forward to "mundane" classes !
    Thanks, NF. I think you have some great ideas there- time travel is certainly a juicy concept, and you definitely have a good handle on the different factions. (You also have a definite knack for coming up with catchy names for buildings, from which I will be stealing liberally.)

    A possible quibble is that anything relying on an orbital presence might well be tied in with the Spacers, and that some of these ideas might rely on having an actual character perform the 'spell' in question in order to make sense. But again, that's something I'll try to elaborate on later. I think the general issue is problematic, but not impossible to work around.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon master View Post
    its not just you having trouble loading the pics. alfryd you should own a company your ideas are better than most companys and could really work even if they are mostly rip offs but hey still awesome,
    Thanks! I've uploaded some new pics now, so they should load more easily.

    Yeah- I'm not gonna win any awards for originality here- it's more an effort at comprehensive synthesis of relevant sci-fi tropes than at groundbreaking fiction. (I like to think the mixture of concepts is at least mildly original though.)

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    Interesting, is Janissary equiverlent to the barbarian ? Does it mean that barbarians in space would be non-aligned then ?

    Solution for sovereign spell is pretty easy, what if players commands an orbiting mothership. Each regular mission involves building up a colony to accomplish some objective. This also explains why the captain does not directly give order to colonists.

    The sovereign spell will be literal in the sense that mothership directly take part to intervene on a situation on the ground. Each building would have an upgrade that link it with the mothership so that its power could be harnessed.

    I think economically, the mission would start with a colony hub. this hub will manufacture every building thereafter. It's also equipped with a emergency launch system would would blast into space if it sustain too much damange (and result in mission failure).

    Instead of explicitly defined zones, each building would project a zone of control around itself which will develop appropriately. E.g. a financial zone would spring up around a economic building, and its development would be tied to the development of that building.

    For urban maps, champions would deploy directly from the mothership, that basically means only "lords" can participate (vigil of a fallen hero anyone ?) On these map sovereign spells does not require buildings, but is restricted by permission. No sensible city worlds would permit a orbiting ship to drop a shower of hypersonic tungsten rods on its cityscape . Perhaps this restriction depends on the influence of various faction on the city world.

    As for heroes, it's hard to explicitly implement that many classes. Perhaps the class would be a consequence of development, rather then its cause. e.g. each character is assigned a class title according to his or her race, alignment, skill and stats.
    Last edited by Nerdfish; 24-10-2009 at 18:09.

  6. #46

    Smile

    Well alfryd now adays getting an entirely new idea is almost impossible just have to try and think of new ways to show it ,and you seem to be good at it. I cant even see some of the things you took from (which is a good sign) hell im a little jealous of you.

  7. #47
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdfish
    Interesting, is Janissary equiverlent to the barbarian ? Does it mean that barbarians in space would be non-aligned then ?
    Kind of. I'd imagine that Praefects and Janissaries are incompatible, with Praefects friendly with Logicians/Collective and Janissaries friendly with Initiates/Shapers (again, like Space Marines,) but they're not ironclad connections.

    The other aspect to the 'Krolm'-equivalents are the human natives of various primitive worlds, who can often be recruited as Janissaries.
    Solution for sovereign spell is pretty easy, what if players commands an orbiting mothership. Each regular mission involves building up a colony to accomplish some objective. This also explains why the captain does not directly give order to colonists.
    I imagine it would have more to do with colonists not being, e.g, slaves, but yeah, the 'orbiting mothership' approach could work, at least in some cases. (Again, though, it's possible the Spacers' trade monopolies extend to the point where a permanent orbital presence would actually be illegal- (just as a possibility.))

    The problem, though, are sovereign spells that- while tactically useful- aren't easily explained on a 'hard' SF basis- healing spells, for example. I mean, how do you reliably heal arbitrary targets at a distance? Orbital laser bombardment is one thing, HP restoration is another. (Sure, you can just wave your hand and say "nanotech did it", but that feels like a cop-out, and it is.) The Gifted, Monoliths and other quasi-supernatural elements offer a possible workaround, but again, this is a subject that needs care to maintain plausibility.

    It's possible the general importance of sovereign spells should be reduced in favour of better channels of influence over hero behaviour (i.e, quests, building up a household/ship's crew, a controllable sovereign/offworld missions, summonings/commissions, etc. etc. etc.)
    As for heroes, it's hard to explicitly implement that many classes. Perhaps the class would be a consequence of development, rather then its cause. e.g. each character is assigned a class title according to his or her race, alignment, skill and stats.
    I'm mostly thinking of a lifepath system that determines starting skills/attributes for a given character, but has relatively little binding impact on their subsequent development. e.g, persuasion/ daunt/ inspire/ melee/marksman/ piloting/ artifice/ medicine/ ecology might all be skills that anyone could potentially pick up (though this does place certain demands on the AI.) So individual 'classes' probably wouldn't have that many dedicated abilities/SFX. Again, a lot of these would be loose equivalents to palace guards, innkeepers, or even blacksmith workers, so nobody's expecting spectacular dedicated superpowers there.

    Secondly- for reasons I'll get to later- although there ARE a lot of classes here, I'm imagining a setting that has very few 'monster races' (i.e, hostile aliens): other heroes are therefore the most frequent form of adversity encountered- which should (theoretically) save on development time. Get a basic set of animations and some decent equipment/clothing-interchange for humanoids up and running, and a good... oh 80-90% of the media is done.

    Thirdly, I'll just mention that I'd imagine a primarily sim-style game, so that 'balance'- while, all else equal, nice to have- would take a back seat to verisimilitude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon master View Post
    Well alfryd now adays getting an entirely new idea is almost impossible just have to try and think of new ways to show it ,and you seem to be good at it. I cant even see some of the things you took from (which is a good sign) hell im a little jealous of you.
    Thanks. (Of course, if connections are unclear, I'd be happy to revise/clarify.)

  8. #48
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    As for healing spells, a precedent exist for act of war series. The Task force Talon faction have a building that transmit waves that powers up innate healing ability of infantry armor.

    Thus, in your setting. you could have an armory upgrade for the heroes. Once they purchase it, they could be targeted by remote healing - the mothership beams the necessary power to activate the symbiont nanite to do patch up the guy. Alternatively, supply drops would drop first aid kits the heroes can use on themselves.

  9. #49
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    I'm afraid the solutions you suggest are likely to be a bit awkward (I mean, what's the time delay associated with supply drops from geostatic orbit? Also, what's wrong with an internal power-pack that the hero could've used at any time?)

    It's possible that there are viable substitutes- e.g, "shield generation" or "cloaking" as a form of sanctuary spell, or perhaps bio-magic from an advanced Collective's "gaia effect". I mean, it's quite possible to get along without healing entirely if you have suitable debuffs available (e.g, Wither.) Main point: I really dislike the idea of taking tactical neccesities first and then rationalising the internal mechanics of the world to conform with them. I think Simulationist play needs to take the opposite approach- consider internal consistency first and insert tactical options when compatible.

    I'm probably going to take a few days to think about the aliens, and get back later.

  10. #50
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    Lightbulb Kill them all !

    Squads, Champions and Vehicles

    Here I’d like to introduce ideas for some high end offensive tools for people who prefer the “gun them down” option. While powerful, they are usually not always preferable to nonviolent options, therefore they shouldn’t break the game.

    Squads and Leaders
    A squad is created by promotion of a leader. The captain (player) initiates the promotion process by selecting a hero and playing a fee. The selected hero will usually accept this, and become a squad leader. The leader receives a title (usually sergeant) and the right to purchase a vehicle.
    The squad leader will learn proceed to create the squad, first by creating a random name (e.g. section 8 / skull team) and recruit members to fill up the squad. Member choices are based on personal standing with the leader and their skills.

    Vehicle and Modules
    Vehicles are powerful war machines sizes of buildings. Their firepower is easily lethal for even most powerful characters. Each squad can operate a vehicle as a unit. Vehicles will have modules that depend on the squad’s composition. While there are only several vehicles available for purchase, vehicles of the same type will be wildly different from one another in term of appearance and capability depending on the squad piloting it. If a member is not on board, the corresponding module would not activate. There are also areas vehicles simply cannot enter.

    For example, a Squad composed of a Palatine, an Android and an archon would command a vehicle sporting a shield generator, medevac system, and a BFG. A squad containing a spacer, an initiate and Men-at-Arms would sport improved engine, drone bay and missile launcher.

    Champions
    Champion Are promoted from squad leaders after a successful mission. They receive a new title (usually lieutenant). Champions and their squads can be deployed directly from the mothership in any successive mission. In regular missions they deploy at a steep cost, for special assignment they are deployed for free, but these missions put a limit on the number of squads that can be fielded; some special assignment also prevents vehicles from landing.

    Vehicle list
    Here’s a tentative list of vehicles. I only thought of two of them so far. They Seemed to be enough.

    Gunship
    Inspired by Cybran Soul Ripper from supreme commanders and vulture from halo wars
    This death machine is held aloft by six nuclear turbines and sports half a dozen hard points. It can deliver all weather all terrain punishment or quickly move its squad anywhere.

    Spidertank
    Inspired by Monkeylord from supreme commander and scarab from halo series
    This Giant submersible walker on six legs can quickly decimate enemies with its multiple weapon systems or just stepping on them. It’s slower then the gunship but it’s invisible under water. It’s so large that it can inflict serious damage to a settlement by walking over it.
    Last edited by Nerdfish; 27-10-2009 at 01:09.

  11. #51
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    I have been giving some thought to the idea of using custom-built spacecraft as a method of party formation (since it seems to be a rather well-established sci-fi trope,) but I was imagining that it would be more intended to allow for off-world missions, possibly in combination with a controllable sovereign. Personally, I'd love to see it- assembling different hull designs, weapon, power, propulsion, crew quarters and life support systems could be a fascinating side-attraction.
    ...Then, bundle up the right crew, board the vessel in person, and set off for RPG-style adventure!
    Champion Are promoted from squad leaders after a successful mission...
    Right... Lords under a different name. I'll probably discuss the subject later in more depth, but I'll mention I'm not terribly fond of the Lords system as implemented.

    I've got some fairly fleshed-out ideas for the alien races mostly done now. I still need to furnish some suitable pics, though... I realised I was missing the element of trope subversion from the original Majesty (e.g, gnomes as hygienically-challenged, gregarious urban hillbillies.) That gave me a brainwave or two.

    One possible addition to sovereign spells that could improve plausibility is to restrict their area of effect in a fashion similar to spells from the old wizards' guild, possibly expanding the AoE as the facility upgraded.

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    The difference between champions and Lords is that the champion's entire party is promoted and ready to deploy for any subsequent mission. While lords come out of a building, champions drop directly from the mothership as they become part of the crew.

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    The Krech



    In reading order, the Aliens/Zerg/Tyranids/Bugs (from Aliens/Starcraft/WH40K/Starship Troopers respectively,) plus leafcutter ants. Finally, I submit that Arthropods Are Adorable.


    The Krech are a recent race to arrive on the scene, having been genetically engineered by the Shapers a century or two ago to act as servants and bodyguards. They were intended to be obedient, submissive, helpful, loyal and protective, not fussy eaters and- last but not least- easy to breed. Particularly in this last respect the Shapers succeeded too well, for the Krech swiftly multiplied beyond their ability to effectively control, and soon smuggled aboard cargo vessels to infest several nearby worlds before being quarantined by the Republic.

    With their raw genetic material based upon social insects, Krech are gregarious, eager, helpful, optimistic and industrious to a fault, communicating partly through a series of rattling, popping clicks, and partly through a cocktail of pungent pheremones which humans unfortunately find rather malodorous. While roughly humanoid in outline and able to use tools and machinery, with their child-like proportions and secondary arms they tend to work with their own claws, sculpting homes for themselves from scraps of discarded building materials, dried mud, and their own adhesive body-secretions.

    Krech prefer to live in large groups, and socially dominant individuals can develop into the much more formidable Soldier caste, which in turn defer to the breeding Queens (or Matriarchs.) Though usually friendly to the point of naïveté, against a clearly-defined external agressor they can evince extraordinary ferocity, and though typical Krech are individually weak, their sheer coordinated numbers can contribute substantially to a settlement's defence.

    (As you can guess, these are the Gnome-equivalents for the setting: Bug-eyed aliens are normally portrayed as unequivocally hostile, mindless killing-machines, so this seemed the perfect subversion of that trope: Cute, obliging, enthusiastic little kid-like aliens that can grow into spectacular killing machines- except they're on your side. )

  14. #54
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    The Changelings



    In reading order, Octavia Butler's Ooloi, John Carpenter's the Thing, Odo from Deep Space 9, and 'Pod people' from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.


    The Changelings first evolved on the world of Albedo C97, a large moon of a binary planetary system warmed by seven associated stars where the complex orbital periods and tidal forces created a hypervolatile environment that placed a premium on species' adaptability. As a result, life there evolved the remarkable ability to mimic any organic life-form they came across.

    Physically, their biology is based on cellular intelligence- memory formation and logical analysis using genetic material in scondary nuclei as the medium- allowing the organism's personality to be diffused through every cell of it's tissue. A series of macroscopic ganglia suspended in their bodies' fluid medium communicate via sympathetic vibrations to coordinate short-term learning and reflex.

    *- Extremely long-lived, resistant to poison and disease
    *- Need little food and no sleep, but vulnerable to fatigue
    *- Difficult to injure- most wounds close in seconds
    *- Vulnerable to cold, electrocution, high gravity and sonic disruption

    Close mimicry of a subject takes considerable study and time for both entry to and reversion from the 'doppelganger' state, but there is also some evidence for using their 'genetic consciousness' to assimilate foreign DNA, and there are persistent rumours of 'possession' of host organisms by genetic takeover (though this has never been credibly confirmed.)

    Despite- or perhaps because of- their protean nature, the Changelings maintain a zen-like belief in both individual self-expression and the importance of law and stability. This mindset is rather difficult for outsiders to grasp, but it's fullest expression might be found in the Link- a state of amorphous communal intercourse where the Changelings share lifelong memories and genetic data in a way that blends spiritual rapture, decadent orgy, physical procreation, and democratic concensus. Changelings have been known to spend months or years in the guise of trees, ferns, or coral-like growths, hoping to glean insight from their role in a larger ecology, but their desire to "explore different modes of being" also extends to a taste for adventurous hedonism, refined aesthetic sensibility and flamboyant thrill-seeking.

    Since being contacted almost a millennia ago, they have adopted human technology and reached other worlds via the Spacers' mercantile contacts, and generally make superb runners, aesthetes, praefects and ecologists.

    (These are the Elf-equivalents for the setting... Majesty elves, that is.)

  15. #55
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    The Jovians



    The 'floaters' from Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Eosapiens from Wayne Barlowe's Expedition, the Vorlons from Babylon 5, and 'sublimation' from Iain M. Banks' Culture cycle


    The Jovians' distant ancestors evolved on an immense, temperate gas giant world, with various nomad nations patrolling jetstream territories of up to a trillion cubic kilometres each, and domesticating vast herds of motile 'floaters'- beings the size of small islands- as a source of food and shelter from atmospheric storms. However, their world's scarcity of heavy elements, high gravity and lack of a solid surface made physical tool-making- and by extension, space travel- very difficult. The Jovians mastered electrolysis and genetics long before they ever mastered metallurgy, and ownership of metals was, for them a sign of both high rank and great privilege.

    By 700,000 years ago the Jovians had reached the technological singularity- an exponential feedback cycle between scientific knowledge and the capacity for self-improvement- which permitted them to transcend physical form and join the Ancients on a higher plane of existence. Only their most traditionalist factions chose to remain behind, acting as 'emissaries' of a sort to explore the larger cosmos and make contact with younger races.

    All Jovians encountered today are full cyborgs, encased in cybernetic armour which flaunts their skill in metallurgy, reduces the need for biological life support, and protects them in harsh alien environments. Their scientific expertise is unmatched, yet in many respects their recidivist traditionalism is almost primitive. Near-immortality notwithstanding, their race is gradually dying out as isolated members ascend to rejoin their departed brethren.

    (These are the Dwarf-equivalents. Unmatched technologically, yet passionate, perfectionist, dogmatic and acquisitive. On good terms with logicians, spacers, and initiates.)

  16. #56
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    ...Right. Those are the alien races. I'll probably finish up shortly with a few closing remarks and maybe some rough sketches or vague suggestions. Again, I'm sure there are plenty of improvements possible here, so any commentary is welcome.

  17. #57
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    We are ALL KOSH
    gonna love the Jovians

    Oh btw, don't you have some kind of ranger class similar to B5's ranger ?

  18. #58
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    I'm actually not hugely familiar with the series- I've caught some episodes and read the wikis mostly- but as far as I can tell, they probably fit under Men-At-Arms..?

    Sketchies-



    Those are the Krech (drone and soldier,) a sample Changeling, a sample Jovian, and finally a sample human for size comparison. ...I like to think of her as the hypothetical offspring of Kaylee Frye and Geordi laForge.

    The basic problem I have with aliens in about 90% of their portrayals, particularly in film/TV but also to some extent in literature, is that they're... really just humans. Not just physically, but psychologically. It's partly a holdover from the days before cheap CGI, partly a desire for human-relatable drama, and partly down to sheer failure of the imagination, but... enough already. The only alien race here that's remotely humanoid (the Krech) are that way because they were engineered to be. (That said, each race can at least conform to human machinery and structures enough to make use of them- the changelings can morph into something human-ish, and the jovians are small enough to float through doors and have tentacles to manipulate things with.)

    Anyways, just a pet peeve of mine. Those would be the only other 'civilised' alien races in the known Galaxy. (Heck, genetically-modified humans are likely to be more than weird enough by themselves.) There could be plenty of other alien species in the Galaxy, but none of them are spacefaring and able to (or inclined) to use tools, so they're mostly local pest problems.
    Last edited by Alfryd; 03-11-2009 at 00:18. Reason: Cleanup... damnit.

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    "We are Rangers.
    We walk in the dark places no others will enter.
    We stand on the bridge, and no one may pass.
    We live for the One - we die for the One."

    — Ranger oath — Babylon 5
    A Ranger is an Eldar who has decided to leave their Craftworld and the Eldar Path, choosing instead to follow the Path of the Outcast in favour of seeking excitement and adventure in the open galaxy. Many never return to their Craftworld; dying alone and forgotten or falling from grace into the hands of Slaanesh. Sometimes however Rangers return to their Craftworld having sated their desire for adventure and are welcomed back.

    They can often be seen seeking out threats from Chaos and visiting Exodite worlds on the galactic rim in an effort to experience life more fully. Sometimes they receive a psychic distress call from their home Craftworlds and will take their arms back to defend it.

    Rangers often arm themselves with Ranger Long Rifles as this allows them to make the most of their individual approach. Another benefit of working alone is their ability to move through terrain and chose the optimum position for sniping enemy emplacements. They are also adept at hiding in undergrowth and other types of cover due to their stealthy nature.
    .

    Rangers are not Exactly traditional men at arms. they are expert infiltrators, ambushers and special operation units. Look at Eldar rangers for another example (think of space ninjas carrying huge sniper rifles)
    Last edited by Nerdfish; 03-11-2009 at 00:51.

  20. #60
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    ...Then you're probably looking at a Man-At-Arms/Praefect or Praefect/Aesthete combination of some kind? I dunno, Cook, I don't see the outstanding cultural difference from existing 'classes' here- though it's possible I'm missing something...

    EDIT: The last two faction facilities (Temple to the Secret Fire and Spacer Habitat):



    I'm not entirely happy with the colour scheme, but I kinda like the basic geometric aesthetic...

    (The Habitat here is a bit like a ranger's guild, in that it can teleport itself to distant locations, and generates an antigravity field for the comfort of it's residents. As Spacers can teleport themselves, their living quarters are sealed off and detached for privacy and security. You can also see a Dropship awaiting cargo.)

    (For the TttSF, I'm trying to give the impression of sprawling subterranean growth, a bit like a cross between a mandelbrot fractal and an electronic circuit board. After construction, it's nanotech biots can both self-repair and self-upgrade the facility, and of course it both provides power to the settlement and fabricated goods.)
    Last edited by Alfryd; 05-11-2009 at 09:58.

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