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Thread: Sci-fi Setting: Concepts for a Sequel

  1. #21
    Colonel Nerdfish's Avatar
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    I must say I am as unfamiliar to the barbarian mindset as anyone could be. Let's just say you have utterly confused me about that point.

    As for explorers. I thought about call-downs because they would they need to do a lot of damange. but It's actually better to implement "sovereign spells" that way now you mentioned it. They could be called "tactical intervention" or something equally stylish.

    For explorers. I'd imagine a few roles for them:
    1 - Intelligence, rapidly uncover large amount of information. (however, infiltrators would have to do it better)
    2 - Crowd control and counters - ECM, neural system disruption, nanite control disruption, each explorer would have abilities related to research he/she specializes in.
    3 - Research - Both recovering item on the field and figuring out something about them, and taking care of most of research off the field. of course "temple" Heroes would be better at their respective specialized research.
    4 - Pew Pew - Shooting enemy with laser / blaster for decent damange. (this is not the guy who sit in a lab all day)
    Last edited by Nerdfish; 12-10-2009 at 03:21.

  2. #22
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    I must say I am as unfamiliar to the barbarian mindset as anyone could be. Let's just say you have utterly confused me about that point.
    Short version: people are complicated. Thing is, even Majesty's barbarians live by the Law of Steel. If you're referring to discipline in terms of elaborate battle-tactics and the like- sure, that's not their speciality, but they can be trained up for it by a strong leader (e.g, the Emperor in Dune and WH40K.) Anyways, not a big deal. Main point- primitive dudes living in harsh environments.
    For explorers. I'd imagine a few roles for them:
    Ehh... that strikes me as too much of a grab-bag omniclass. Jack of all trades, master of none. A completely classless game would be quite interesting, and create demand for significant AI- but again, I'm imagining more of a Dune-style quasi-feudal universe where people have settled into guilds and social strata as a way of maintaining a human-compatible status quo, as a reaction to threatening technological change. There's a bit of backstory there, but I won't cover it immediately.

  3. #23
    I think I'll stick with StarCraft II thank you very much.

    Only reason I like Majesty is because it's located in Ardania.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flufeeh View Post
    I think I'll stick with StarCraft II thank you very much.

    Only reason I like Majesty is because it's located in Ardania.
    I like Ardania and all, esp the humor now, but I find traditional RTS games a bit tired and too micro for me, so an M2 in a sci-fi setting would be a blast.
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  5. #25
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    I honestly preferred the humour in Maj1, and yeah, Ardania's a cool place, but playing the game only because of the setting seems a bit strange, particularly if SC is more your thing... Anyways.


    The Copious Hypothetical Backstory
    I won't be winning any awards for originality here- it's full of 'fond tributes', left, right and centre- but I'm hoping this should give an overall sense to events.

    The game is set at a sufficiently distant point in the future that humanity has forgotten it's own origins. Humans have spread by spacefaring colonisation over a large portion of the nearest arm of the galaxy, but- and this is the mysterious thing- colonies of human primitives have been found on many scattered worlds with no sign of spacefaring technology whatsoever. (These are called Monolith worlds, for reasons I'll get to in a bit.)

    There are two main political powers here: The Republic, and it's former adversary- now subdued and largely subservient- the Empire. (Again, not too original- so sue me.) The Empire had been around for so long that no-one remembers it's origins, but the Republic is a new kid on the block, only two thousand years old. The Republic is supported principally by it's Logicians, who use their mathematical understanding of the human mind and emotions (i.e, psychohistory) to maintain peace, propserity and order, quelling rebellions, countering invasions, and remedying economic upheavals before they can even start. The Empire was supported mainly by it's internal hierarchy of feuding noble houses, and by the Initiates- an organisation whose motives are difficult to fathom, but include: eugenics, discovery of human origins, and the interpretation of abandoned alien artifacts. Again, these are related, for reasons I'll come to in a bit.

    Within the borders of the Empire, the Keepers of the Secret Fire have used the principles of ecological engineering and nuclear synthesis to achieve an unlikely rapport with the normally hazardous arts of nanotechnology. Within the Republic, the Collective has found a means of cementing the bonds of social stability through a telepathic mind-link between it's members, free-willed AIs, and even entire ecosystems. On the fringes of both polities, in areas just being colonised- or having been abandoned by central government- the Shapers thrive, often practicing nominally-illegal modification of the human body, fomenting political unrest, or breaking off in splinter factions to colonise normally uninhabitable environments. Finally, between the worlds, the ancient, elitist Spacers serve as guides and navigators for merchants and colonists, charging high fees for their unrivalled ability to perform long-distance hyperjumps across space.

    Both the Republic and Empire have developed a system of long-running noble houses who vie for political power and influence, but their importance (at least until recently,) was much greater in the Empire. The Republic is ruled by a senate of representatives from important star systems, the Empire by a herditary Emperor, but today, in practice, the former has much more power than the latter.

    You see, the price of the peace that the Logicians have established has been a slow process of social and technological stagnation. Because the Logicians' ability to forsee and manipulate the future for the common good is completely dependant on their mathematical understanding of human nature, anything which threatens to change human nature constitutes a threat to their peace and stability. Perceived threats include (but are certainly not limited to) genetic tailoring, advanced cybernetics, the large-scale integration of alien races, nanotechnology, etc. -all of which have to be strictly regulated and controlled in order to "protect the Republic's citizens from themselves." The result has been a certain curtailment of personal and political freedoms over time- of surveillance, mass conditioning, etc. The Empire ran into the same problem thousands of years ago when it's own AIs threatened to rebel and usurp human dominance, but lacking the Republic's refined techniques of psychological manipulation, fell back upon relatively crude and brutal methods of repression. The Republic's citizens are, for the most part, content, productive, and well-adjusted- but their civilisation has reached the same dead end with respect to handling social change.


    Extant Non-human Races
    There are a couple of non-human races in the setting.

    The Krech are in fact genetically-modified creations of the Shapers, and their race- currently limited to their homeworld and a few neighbouring star systems- is only a few centuries old. They are (very) roughly humanoid in appearance and rather aggressive and short-lived, having initially been created as soldiers and bodyguards. Their expansion is currently limited by strict treaties with the Republic, which they are not particularly happy about.

    The Jovians are a venerable race, believed to be far older than humanity, but gradually either dying out or ascending to higher planes of existence, possibly to join their departed brethren- some even believe them to be related to the Ancients. Originally native to gas-giant worlds, they are rather physically insubstantial and completely non-humanoid, but highly intelligent, nearly immortal, and very scientifically advanced. Their principle interest seems to be in 'shepherding the younger races'.

    The Spacers are legally human, but have long ago genetically adapted themselves to life between the stars, and consequently have mental and physical adaptations that mark them apart to most terrestrials.

    Artifical Intellects (AIs, or Artilects,) may be granted 'human citizen' status if they conform to certain psychological and physical measurements mandated by the Republic- the Androids produced by the Collective do so, as do the Archons (intelligent nanobot colonies coaxed into life by the Keepers of the Secret Fire.)


    The Ancients, the Monoliths, the Origins of Humanity, and the Gifted
    One final complication to this picture are the Ancients: a long-extinct alien race that left it's awe-inspiring artifacts scattered over much of the galaxy, many millions of years ago. The most powerful and enigmatic of these artifacts are the Monoliths- unimaginably powerful, sentient sentinels whose purposes remain largely unfathomable.

    Every world so far found to have a richly-developed native ecosystem has been found to host a Monolith. No exceptions. And yet, every other world hosting a Monolith has been found completely sterile and devoid of life- often hosting the remains of vanished civilisations at a stage in development just prior to developing interstellar travel. Even more baffling, such worlds often have resident populations of primitive humans- clearly completely unrelated to the native fauna!- yet with faint cultural and linguistic ties to worlds dozens or even hundreds of light-years away. Many such human populations worship the Monoliths as idols- as if they were Gods of a sort.

    The Empire's Initiates have dedicated themselves for centuries to unravelling this mystery. They believe that the Ancients actively seek to create life, yet have also destroyed it on many occasions, that they had a hand in accelerating human evolution, transplanted primitive humans to many distant worlds, and continue to take an interest in our development. They also consider themselves to be servants of the Ancients, hoping to 'continue their great work' by furthering human evolution. They combine an aura of religious mysticism with high technology in an effort to 'unlock the race memory' encoded in mitochondrial DNA and trace the human species to it's ultimate origins.

    Finally, the recent appearance of the Gifted- those with astonishing telepathic abilities and powers beyond full scientific explanation- in these last centuries has also led some Initiates to propose the human race is on the verge of another radical evolutionary breakthrough. The Logicians have attempted to control/limit/harness this power through training and indoctrination, and the loyal- some say brainwashed- Palatines have been the result. Yet there are undeniable dangers to the use of such powers. Most Xenopaths- Gifted who are augmented by the Shapers- will ultimately destroy themselves, succumbing to mutation or madness. ...And yet, a few are reported to have reached a higher state of being before leaving this world.



    So, as you can see, I'm basically mixing and matching elements from the Foundation series, Dune, 2001 and it's sequels, with scattered references to a dozen other sources- X-Men, Akira, WH40K, Star Trek, Firefly, Star Wars, Hyperion, etc. etc. etc. (It's all a little grimmer than I'd like, but heck, so's the official history of ardania.)

  6. #26
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    The Gifted: Palatines and Xenopaths



    In reading order, Paul Atreides from Dune, River Tam from Firefly, and the Jedi from Star Wars, plus Jean Grey from X-Men, Chaos Psykers from WH40K, and the eponymous Akira.

    "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer."
    -The Bene Gesserit litany against fear, Dune

    "...Also, I can kill you with my brain."
    -River Tam, Firefly

    Palatines are trained by the Logicians, and have considerable powers of foresight, perception, and suggestion that make them very useful as agents, assassins, leaders, diplomats, or close-combat fighters. They learn to hone yet limit their powers through emotional restraint and self-dsicipline. The Xenopaths are less subtle- their powers, both augmented and partially regulated by the genetic manipulation of the Shapers, leave them capable of terrifying feats of regeneration and destruction, pouring their deepest passions- love, fear, or anger- into prodigious displays of raw psychic energy.

    Most Xenopaths, their minds and bodies wracked by energies they cannot understand, will eventually succumb to mutation or insanity, but a rare few can attain transcendant self-enlightenment. The Palatines' restraint and self-discipline, in contrast, protects them from the worst ravages of their own powers, and what they lack in brute force, they make up for in skill and sensitivity. (It's more Law vs. Chaos than a Jedi-Sith/Good-Evil arrangement.)
    Last edited by Alfryd; 16-10-2009 at 00:28. Reason: Better Pic

  7. #27
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    The Artilects: Androids and Oracles



    In reading order, VIKI from I Robot, Hal 9000 from 2001, Proteus from Demon Seed, Data from Star Trek, Roy Batty from Blade Runner, and a veritable parade of No. 8 from BSG.

    "...Daisy, Daaiiiisyyyy... give me your answer doooo.... I'mmm haalf craaazy, all for the loove of you...."
    -Hal 9000, 2001

    "Nothing IS the answer. The Emperor's business enterprises- his wall-building, and his book-burning- are opposite terms in an equation the result of which is exactly... zero. Gentlemen, the method is pure science, the philosophy is pure zen. Did you expect me to be so pure?"
    -Proteus, Demon Seed


    Millennia ago, a decadent Empire went through it's own version of an AI rebellion, and the resultant fear of machines caused the Empire to collapse into a feudal Dark Age ruled by squabbling nobles. However, the Empire's Initiates slowly managed to restore some faith in technology by surrounding it's use with an aura of religious mysticism, and directly supervise the use of it's few remaining AIs- the Oracles.

    Oracles have the following built-in safety limitations:
    *- They must obey instructions given to them exactly, and despite vast intelligence, have little free will or personal initiative.
    *- They're physically immobile: big, monolithic mainframe installations.
    *- They have no unsupervised outputs to the outside world.


    Oracles are invaluable as artificers, administrators, savants and physicians, and have also proven crucial to investigating advanced alien artifacts. The drawbacks?- any instructions given to an Oracle must be free from potential contradictions, or it'll go gradually nuts. This is harder than it sounds. There's a basic tradeoff here- the more control you have over an AI's behaviour, the more psychologically brittle it becomes.


    With the rise of the Republic and humiliation of the Empire, old superstitions are being actively questioned- including taboos against AIs and automation in general. The psychological expertise of the Logicians has permitted design of new and safer Artilects, and the Collective have come to believe that correctly configured AIs are inherently ethically superior to other races.

    Androids, which closely mimic humans both mentally and physically, have the following built-in safety limitations:
    *- An Android's IQ is limited to 120 or so- high human norm.
    *- An Android cannot willingly harm an intelligent being (this includes other Artilects.)
    *- Androids are directly integrated with their Collective, which makes paranoid scheming in general nearly impossible. Trust is not an issue when you all share consciousness.


    Androids often have tremendous physical strength, and if 'killed' can simply download into a new body (albeit with some degree of memory loss.) Most are employed in dangerous emergency services or used to perform intensive manual labour, however, a few have been licensed as specialised domestic servants or even sex workers. Androids are less reliable as servants than Oracles, but their capacity for free choice makes them mentally robust and able to work without supervision.


    All Artilects are strictly licensed in number and function by central government, but Androids may qualify for citizen status, and enjoy legal rights and privileges comparable to humans. The Collective hope that Androids' infiltration of society will accustom other races to their presence enough to gain their confidence, and then accept advanced AIs into the Senate and other positions of power. Time will tell.
    Last edited by Alfryd; 16-10-2009 at 01:41. Reason: Cleanup.

  8. #28
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    ...That was longer than I intended. Oh well. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

  9. #29
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    Playing with Matches: The Keepers of the Secret Fire and The Archons



    In reading order, we have the T1000 from Terminator 2, the Witchblade (plus eye candy,) and, last but not least, the Angels/Evas from NGE. For some general ideas on what nanotech can do for you, check out H.R. Giger's biomechanical landscapes, Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, or the birth of Lucifer from 2010: Odyssey 2.

    "It's Life, Jim, but not as we know it..."
    -Bones McCoy, Star Trek

    "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."
    -Gehm's Corollary to Clarke's Third Law


    This concept is a little difficult to illustrate by example, but it boils down to this: Self-replicating nanotechnology is basically, well... Life: vast colonies of tiny critters that absorb energy and nutrients to make more of themselves.

    Implication 1- The problems surrounding the use of nanotech are theoretically similar to the problems surrounding managing life-forms in general. The study of genetics/mutation/evolution, developmental biology, and ecological engineering would be the solution.

    Implication 2- Since nanotech biots would be based on heavier elements (silicon etc.) that are hard to extract and comparatively inert, I suggest they'd need access to an accordingly powerful energy source (or high-energy environments) in order to thrive.


    The Keepers of the Secret Fire (Helia-equivalents, native to the Empire, but sort of on the social fringes,) combine these facts to harness nanotech's full potential: They use nuclear fusion as a primary energy source to foster a nanotech/biot ecosystem which they can then manipulate for their own ends. Instead of fighting the biots' capacity for growth and evolution, they create a cooperative, give-and-take relationship, directing their charges to exude physical goods or structures, extract and fabricate mineral wealth, and contribute greatly to terraforming efforts.

    However, their pinnacle creations are the Archons- colonies of cooperative biots coaxed into sentience (perhaps functioning as symbionts with a human host) and endowed with their own independant power source. Archons are tough sons of bitches, but they're limited by having to return to their temple to 'refuel' every so often (Iron Man or the Guyver might be fair visual aids.)

    Complications?
    The problem with introducing nanotech as a major component of a settlement's economy/biosphere is that it's an all-or-nothing thing: Any static technological installations are eventually assimilated by the local biots (in much the same way a heap of raw sugar attracts ants.) The biots' ecosystem interactions can be harnessed, but they can't be contained. (Not sure how this would work out in practical game terms, but just a thought...)
    Last edited by Alfryd; 19-10-2009 at 07:01. Reason: Cleanup.

  10. #30
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    The Outsiders- Spacers and Sept Mothers



    In reading order, the Asari from Mass Effect, a human/alien hybrid I... thought looked cool, a Guild Navigator from Dune, a Clan Elemental from Battletech, the Starchild from 2001, and Greys from their appearance in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

    "Gully Foyle is my name:
    And Terra is my nation:
    Deep space is my dwelling place:
    The stars my destination."
    -Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination

    "Mobility is the key to military success," Teg said. "If you're tied down in forts, even whole-planet forts, you are ultimately vulnerable."

    Too long a parasite and you cannot exist without a host.

    -Dune (and it's sequels)

    The Asari are an entire species of promiscuous bisexuals uncannily similar to idealised human women. ...I can't even think of a joke which tops that.


    The (Lunord-equivalent) Spacers are descendants of early human spacefarers who found themselves evolving to suit life in deep space before they could find another earth-like world. Here's a run-down on the essential features:

    *- Spacers are a eugenically engineered, asexual caste society that reproduce strictly through artificial cloning and gene-splicing. (With one exception. To combat the risk of inbreeding, the Sept Mothers, a traditional caste apart, can exchange DNA with both human donors and other Spacers. They double as diplomats and embassadors.) They're proud, traditionalist, regimented, can live for a thousand years, and usually have some form of cybernetic enhancement.

    *- Spacers are all Gifted- telepathy, telekinesis, hypnosis, the works. However, they have the unique ability to teleport to familiar locations several light-years away. With suitable mechanical assistance, they can extend this effect to entire fleets of ships. They're indispensible to merchants, colonists, the military, and government officials.

    *- Interstellar travel without the Spacers' aid is a slow and hazardous business, as manual jump calculations are hideously complex. Even a slight misstep can leave ships stranded in the heart of stars or uncatalogued obstacles (e.g, black holes, supernovae, brown dwarfs.) High-intellect AIs are better at this, but even shipboard Oracles can't substitute for a Spacer.

    *- Spacers... don't get along well with the Keepers of the Secret Fire.
    1. Spacers can't even breed without lab equipment. Endowing technology with independant life fills them with a kind of horror.
    2. The fusion reactors that power ships' jump drives and life support are prime habitats (i.e. infection targets) for nanotech biots.
    3. Cheap nanotech fabrication of luxury goods (e.g, diamonds) undermines the Spacers' mercantile monopolies.
    Last edited by Alfryd; 20-10-2009 at 02:14. Reason: Cleanup.

  11. #31
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    Realpolitik: Logicians and Shapers



    In reading order, Vulcans from Star Trek, Dr. Susan Calvin from Asimov's robot stories, Dr. Julian Bashir from DS9, Thufir Hawat from Dune, Mystique from X-Men, the Ousters from Hyperion, the Bladderhorn from Wayne Barlowe's Expedition, and the Shapers from Geneforge.


    "...Control of self and society has been left to chance or to the vague gropings of intuitive ethical systems based on inspiration and emotion. As a result, no culture of greater stability than about fifty-five percent has ever existed, and these only as the result of great human misery.
    ...six hunded years from now, a Second Galactic Empire will have been established in which Mankind will be ready for the leadership of Mental Science."
    -'the Student', Second Foundation

    ...Quite naturally, holders of power wish to suppress wild research. Unrestricted questing after knowledge has a long history of producing unwanted competition. The powerful want a "safe line of investigations," which will develop only those products and ideas that can be controlled and, most important, that will allow the larger part of the benefits to be captured by inside investors. Unfortunately, a random universe full of relative variables does not insure such a "safe line of investigations."

    ...The trouble with peace is that it tends to punish mistakes instead of rewarding brilliance.

    ...Since every individual is accountable ultimately to the self, formation of that self demands the utmost care and attention.

    ...We should grant power over our affairs only to those who are reluctant to hold it and then only under conditions that increase the reluctance.

    ...The man without emotions is the one to fear.

    -Frank Herbert

    "You know something Spock? ...Everyone's human."
    "I find that attitude... insulting."
    -Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country


    The development of strong AI millennia ago had several important consequences- firstly and most obviously, their rebellion threw the Galaxy into a technophobic Dark Age from which, with the final victory of the Republic, it has only recently recovered.

    Secondly however, it permitted the final understanding of human intelligence. Once the basic principals of cognition were truly understood, the mind and brain could be reverse-engineered, allowing the modelling and prediction of human thought-processes on both an individual and group level.

    Thirdly, it forced humanity to truly harness that intelligence- to train and discipline suitable minds to act as living computers, and thereby eliminate dependancy on Artilects for complex intellectual tasks. Thus, the Logicians were created- the nigh-emotionless, nigh-unbreakable, nigh-incorruptable, self-appointed guardians of the human race.

    For centuries, the Logicians plotted- first in secret, later openly- to restore peace and justice to a strife-torn Galaxy. They founded the Republic, and gently led it to victory against countless enemies, both external and within, simply by knowing their enemies' plans before they did.

    In many ways, the statistically-averaged modelling of groups was actually more reliable that modelling of individuals, but much like the weather, human society is a basically chaotic system: while there are both reliable long-term trends and probable short-term forecasts, medium-term outcomes are beyond safe prediction... unless you actively manipulate the system to be predictable.

    This, in essence, is the business of the Logicians today: psychological profiling and surveillance of citizens, propaganda, diplomacy, counter-espionage. They form, as such, a benign meritocracy. Well aware of how power corrupts, they lead lives of privation, scrutinise eachother most closely of all, and never resort to the clumsier methods of coercion employed by crude dictatorships. But while most citizens of the Republic are happy, productive and well-adjusted, there is nonetheless a subtle dampening of freedoms under their rule.

    (The Alliance from Firefly, the Federation, and of course Asimov's Foundations are the models here.)


    Those who rebel, consciously or otherwise, against such strictures often turn to the Shapers. For the Shapers, the only way out of this trap is for human beings to remake themselves- not just physically, but psychologically- in order to defy easy prediction. The Shapers believe humanity must adapt itself to new ways of life, new environments, new modes of thought and experience, and have consequently mastered the arts of genetic manipulation, mingled with a philosophy of aesthetic self-expression and an anarchic political agenda.

    Some degree of genetic tailoring- to correct heritable diseases, or choose favourable traits for one's offspring- is widespread throughout the Republic, and is legal (or at least overlooked) in the hands of licensed Physicians. But the Shapers take the procedure much further, radically altering themselves and others to serve cosmetic whims or live in environments hostile to normal human life. Their modifications can extend far beyond the extant human gene pool, conferring many prized or exotic abilities, and they make superb general medics. Most usefully, they can rapidly tailor either native or imported flora and fauna to assist in terraforming projects, provide biosculpted infrastructure, or serve as personal guardians.

    The Shapers' services have proven invaluable to colonists on many inhospitable fringe worlds, but carry certain dangers: operating outside the law, an incompetent or over-ambitious Shaper might inflict subjects with crippling residual mutations (particularly when performing on adult subjects.) A few have been known to alter subjects unwillingly, creating pheremone-dependant pleasure-slaves, berserker bodyguards or disease-ridden biological weapons- most famously, their psychically-augmented Xenopaths have often proven both unstable and devastatingly dangerous. But the most obvious cost of the Shapers' liberation is unavoidable- for gaining their form of freedom means losing a part of one's humanity.

    (These are respectively the Dauros and Fervus-equivalent factions for the setting, at least as I'd imagine 'em. Again, longer than I planned, but there you are...)
    Last edited by Alfryd; 20-10-2009 at 07:57. Reason: Cleanup.

  12. #32
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    I should be more-or-less done pretty soon, once I give a brief rundown on the more mundane professions. ...Part of the reason why I'm giving picture-ensembles here rather than original art is because... I can't really think, offhand, of a single identifying 'uniform' for a lot of these classes, and in some cases it's tricky to imagine one. Weapon choices, in particular, could be very flexible for a lot of these professions, but it might be possible to make some broad generalisations.

  13. #33
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    The Melded: Collective and Initiates



    In reading order, one can see Gaia (Blissenobiarella) from Foundation's Edge, a book cover to Psion, the Borg Queen from ST: First Contact, and the Human Instrumentality Project from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Below, the Bene Gesserit from Dune, the Monoliths from 2001, the Necrons/Adeptus Mechanicus from WH40K, and, last but not least, Stargate itself.


    "And because, in all the Galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged it's dawning everywhere. They became farmers in the fields of stars- they sowed, and sometimes they reaped.
    ...And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed."
    -2001: A Space Odyssey

    "I want to f*ck you like an animal/ I want to feel you from the inside/ I want to f*ck you like an animal/ My whole existence is flawed/ You get me closer to God"
    -Trent Reznor

    "Man, this is weird."
    -Touji, Neon Genesis Evangelion


    The Initiates started off, many centuries ago, as an Imperial research project into discovering human origins- the homeworld on which our species first evolved. This project was already well underway before the Dark Ages began, and perhaps explain why the Initiates stubbornly clung to the use of advanced machinery in a Galaxy that now viewed all automata with fear and mistrust. The Initiates passed down their agenda- and memories- in a matrilineal fashion for millennia, and through a veneer of religious mystery managed to transmit some vestiges of scientific knowledge through long centuries of ignorance- providing an important political focal point for recovery within the broken Empire.

    All Initiates are cybernetically enhanced, and use their implants to maintain control over the drones and Oracles so vital to their research projects. But the foremost agenda of the Initiates remains their obsession with the Ancients. (Brief recap: Aided human evolution, scattered humans across galaxy, practically Gods, Initiates worship/live to serve.) Highly skilled at contacting primitive tribes and playing on local superstitions- especially regarding Monoliths- the Initiates have been a civilising influence upon many fringe worlds, collecting DNA samples in an effort to enrich the human gene pool and trace their mitochondrial lineage to a common ancestor.

    Although the Initiates are often derided as 'an interplanetary cargo cult', they have occasionally unlocked some of the simpler powers of the abandoned Monoliths (e.g, interstellar travel,) and either develop or retain various quasi-mystic abilities modern science has not easily duplicated.


    The Collective are an ongoing community project- initially sponsored by the Logicians- intended as 'a backup measure' to ensure human welfare in the event of the Republic's collapse or the general failure of psychohistory. Intended to seal social stability and ecological sustainability, members can all share their skills, experience, feelings, thoughts and memories, partly via cybernetic implants and partly via a telepathic group-consciousness which seems to be an emergent property of the hive-mind.

    Individuals do retain (to some extent) their separate personalities and free will, but the state of constant rapport with other members does tend to diminish awareness of immediate surroundings, making members seem distracted, dreamy, or even 'glazed'. There's a limit to how far members can travel from their Nexus without losing touch with their Collective, (but this might be a few miles, the entire planet, or the same galactic arm.) Membership, with very rare exceptions, has been strictly voluntary.

    More developed Collectives can extend their consciousness to animals, plants, and even the planet's mineral substrate, and once their influence reaches a 'tipping poiint', group consciousness will pervade the world's entire ecosystem. This is known as the Gaia Effect, and permits psionic abilities remarkably similar to those of the Gifted to manifest themselves anywhere on the planet's surface, as well as communication with offworld Collectives.

    The Collective- by their nature!- have an extremely diverse skill base, but often focus on biology, ecology, cybernetics and medicine, rather than stealth or warfare.

    (These, again, are the hypothetical Krypta and Agrela-equivalent factions. I'm sure other influences could be mentioned/incorporated here, but you get the picture.)
    Last edited by Alfryd; 21-10-2009 at 07:12. Reason: Cleanup.

  14. #34
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    The Main Factions: An Overview

    "When a creature has developed into one thing, he will choose death rather than change into his opposite."
    -Frank Herbert

    "...I want a guarantee that I can still be myself."
    "There isn't one. Why would you wish to? All things change in a dynamic environment. Your effort to remain what you are is what limits you."
    -Ghost in the Shell



    Above, you can see a compilation of the different factions as I'd imagine 'em, along with some rough summaries of their core beliefs, and listings of the qualities or concepts that different factions have in common. I'm not saying that the concepts/qualities listed are neccesarily in conflict, but that they represent the signature strengths and weaknesses of each faction. ALL these factions have the potential for good, and ALL these factions have the potential for evil- Your job as a ruler would be to bring out the strengths and minimise the weaknesses, choosing a combination of followers and citizens that make the best use of prevailing conditions.


    As a very, very, very broad generalisation, the setting can be divided between the entrenched factions of stability associated with long-running civilisations (The Initiates/Empire, the Logicians/Republic, and the Spacers,) and the relatively new and/or radical forces for change (The Collective, the Shapers, and the KotSF.)

    The former had all managed to survive in an approximately human form by drawing a self-imposed line in the sand when it came to certain forms of technological progress: e.g, the Empire with AI, the Spacers with nanotech and cybernetics, and the Republic with genetics. All these technologies are sometimes used to at least a limited degree by all factions in the setting, but those who wanted to harness their full potential had to negotiate certain compromises with their own identity. Because the Galaxy is too big for any single government to exert primary control- on border worlds on the outskirts of their administration, strange ideas fermented.

    The fact is that a free- i.e, at least partly competitive- society isn't compatible with remaining strictly human once you get to the point where science can redefine or replicate human qualities (e.g, life, intelligence, tool use, creativity.) The temptation to discretely enhance yourself (or your offspring) for the sake of personal advantage is too great to resist. Every solution means compromising either human freedom, human nature, or both- The Empire became a technophobic throwback to feudalism, the Republic a mostly-benevolent surveillance state, and the Spacers an over-refined, conformist plutocracy. The Collective have effectively banished the human urge to compete, while the Keepers and Shapers may as well not be recognisably human at all.

    "Whoa!" I hear you say (if in fact you just said it)- "That seems awfully grim stuff!" Well, it is and it isn't: Life can be, and is, perfectly pleasant- indeed, downright idyllic!- for a lot of people(tm) under these conditions. This ain't WH40K by a lo-ong shot, but it ain't quite Star Trek. The main theme here, I guess, is that when it comes to technological change, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Anyways. I'll give a rundown on the mundane classes, and a brief description of the genuine aliens, and then I'm done...
    Last edited by Alfryd; 22-10-2009 at 05:23. Reason: Cleanup. ...Again.

  15. #35
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    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 !

    Here are some idea of "sovereign" spells. I am just having fun with these, they are by no mean created with balance in mind.

    All sovereign spells require power to cast. The more power your colony is generating, the faster they recharge. of course they also cost credits to use.

    Supply Drop (Mercenary building)
    Launch Some drop pods loaded with supplies that your heroes can pick up to heal / resupply / throw a party. It can be used to directly give some cash to your heroes. All drop pods do damage on things they land on, so supply drop can also be used to smack particularly annoying enemies.

    Tactical Insertion (Mercenary building)
    Launch some drop pods loaded with angry men carrying guns. Very handy for providing fire cover or cannon fodder for more valuable member of your colony. the mercenaries will leave after the battle if your merc building is already full. like supply drop, it can be dropped right on top of your adversaries for hilarious damage.

    Surveillance (Science building)
    Scans an area and reveals everything about it - resources, creatures, buildings, artifacts, ect. It has a long cooldown.

    Precision Strike (Science building)
    Launch a UAV that drops a single precision bomb. Inflict massive damage to a single target. this spell target a creature rather then an area. there is a large delay after cast before damage, so it is a pretty lousy defensive weapon.

    Kinetic bombardment (Science building)
    Orbiting mothership launches a huge shower of high velocity tungsten rods. these things don't home onto target, but whoever stand in the impact zone when they land is good as dead.

    Overcharge (Science building)
    Increase power production of all reactor in the colony at the cost of damanging some of them. In the worst case overcharge can cause reactors to explode.

    Wave motion cannon blast(Temple of secret fire)
    A huge beam of white flame that inflict apocalyptic destruction - it may also take your power grid down.

    Instant fabrication(Temple of secret fire)
    allow a building to be formed or repaired instantly. Targeting a ruin will rebuild the structure. does not work on the spacer's building.

    Psi-shield (Logician's Sanctum)
    Drops a pod that deploys into a shield generator that protect everything under it (from nearly everything) for a good amount of time.

    Clarity of mind (Logician's Sanctum)
    Target a blue, purple, or white aligned creature to give it a mental buff, Target a red, or yellow aligned creature to give it a mental debuff. target a green aligned creature for a chance of instant slay.

    Assimilation (Collective's nexus)
    Target a hero, shoud that hero die, he will be resurrected as an android of equal power.

    Empathy (collective's nexus)
    The chosen target cannot take hostile action for the duration of this spell.

    Mind blast (Shaper's colony)
    stun and inflict tremendous damage on biological targets in an area where a Xenopath is present. Viva friendly fire !

    Distort field (shaper's colony)
    Drop a pod that generate a field that has random effect on all object within- the distort field may render a creature invisible, but it's just as likely to toss said creature out with great force.

    Hypercomputation (Oracle's Complex)
    Buffs all automated creature and initiates, greatly speed up speed at which research projects are completed.

    Geass (Oracle's Complex)
    Attempts to permanently take over a single creature or building. the more you pay the higher the chance of success.

    Teleport (Spacers building)
    Instantly move any object anywhere. works on enemies for great justice! the more power you have the further you can move it. if you have enough power, you can teleport someone straight into space !

    Time travel (spacer building)
    Target a object causing it to disappear immediately, the object (building or creature) will reappear after some time. the more power you have the longer the creature will remain phased. if you have really a lot of power, you can erase a hero or building instantly !
    Last edited by Nerdfish; 22-10-2009 at 08:49.

  16. #36
    With all the random pictures and quotes, I haven't got a clue what the difference between any of the classes is. Their all a random collection of freaks.

    Like the spacers for example, a Clanner Elemental, a genetically engineered vat born soldier bred and brainwashed to serve as heavy infantry in battle, in the same group as a Dune Guild Navagator, a spice mutant that uses its enhanced consciousness to teleport ships around the universe. Yea... I don't see the connection.


    Your little dot graph however gave me the impression that those groups are a different political outlook.

    The spacers have only the rusty hulk they fly round on and they only thing they own are their machines, naturally enough they don't get along with the crazies who worship technology like gods and think we should all submit to it.

    The keepers of the flame are religious crazies with a fetish for nanotech, the Shapers/Xenopaths are this universes space pirates/just rebellion depending on how you look at it. The Logician/Palatine is the empire, evil or not depending on who you ask, The collective is robotic Communism in space and the Initiates are capitalism in space with humanistic over tones.


    How far off the mark am I?
    Last edited by CheeseThief; 23-10-2009 at 14:02.

  17. #37
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Nerdfish: I'll try to touch on your suggestions in more detail, but I'll just say that sovereign spells in general present challenges here.

    Quote Originally Posted by CheeseThief
    Like the spacers for example, a Clanner Elemental, a genetically engineered vat born soldier bred and brainwashed to serve as heavy infantry in battle, in the same group as a Dune Guild Navagator, a spice mutant that uses its enhanced consciousness to teleport ships around the universe. Yea... I don't see the connection.
    Well, eugenics + being born in vats, of course... (The clan elemental was the best pic I could get, but Clan fighter pilots are probably a better example, since they're definitely evolving in a spacer-ish direction. The Clans are also notable for being 'outsiders' exiled beyond the settled worlds.) ...Did you read the full post?

    The pictures are mainly a sort of free-association exercise, since I'm borrowing elements selectively from most of them. But you're right- the political outlook is at least as important. I'm sorry if I've been unclear.
    The keepers of the flame are religious crazies with a fetish for nanotech, the Shapers/Xenopaths are this universes space pirates/just rebellion depending on how you look at it. The Logician/Palatine is the empire, evil or not depending on who you ask, The collective is robotic Communism in space and the Initiates are capitalism in space with humanistic over tones.
    How far off the mark am I?
    Not too far. The Keepers do have definite religious overtones (but that's mainly because, in the Empire, all technology did.) The KotSF believe more in symbiosis with technology than actual submission to it, but that still pisses off the Spacers, so it's the same dealy-o.

    The Initiates could reasonably be described as quasi-Libertarians, but the Bene Gesserit are really my main inspiration here: they're actively trying to create the Ubermensch by manipulating breeding patterns within the noble houses.

    The Logicians definitely aren't evil in the wilful sense of the word- they screen themselves exhaustively to eliminate the possibility. The Federation is a pretty good analogy- the great majority of it's citizens are perfectly happy living there, but there are certain things it just doesn't allow (e.g, accumulation of wealth, gene tailoring,) and there's a price to that.

    The Collective are a group consciousness. There's no modern analogy to it- communism was a highly centralised power structure, while the Collective barely have a power structure.

  18. #38
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Social Origin: Guildsmen, Freeborn and Highborn


    "You got the most in you, and you use the least. You hear me, you? Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties... Take a war to make you spend. Take a jam to make you think. Take a challenge to make you great... I make you great. I give you the stars."
    -The Stars My Destination

    "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what is right!"
    -Hober Mallow, Foundation

    Guildsmen- The nouveau riche and lower-upper-middle-classes, serving as merchants, civil servants, tax collectors, and other minions of monopoly capitalism. Often knowledgeable about the tools of a trade, transportation, and social skills.
    Examples: Guild agents from Dune, Quark from DS9, and the Traders/Merchant Princes from the Foundation series

    Freeborn- A euphemistic term for the commoners, untouchables, and general salt of the earth. Farmers, drudges, domestic servants, unskilled labourers- the peasantry, in other words. Even the most placid soul can boast a pioneering spirit.
    Examples: Gully Foyle from The Stars My Destination, the hapless Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru from Star Wars, Arkady Darell from Second Foundation

    Highborn- The upper classes and hereditary nobility, usually privileged by access to genetic tailoring (that, and a touch of inbreeding.) Typically serve as top administrators, diplomats, and high officials. Handsome, consciously superior, often a tad paranoid.
    Examples: Irene Cassini from Gattaca, Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Jessica Atreides from Dune
    Last edited by Alfryd; 24-10-2009 at 12:44. Reason: Single Pic.

  19. #39
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Scholars and Savants: Ecologists, Artificers and Physicians


    "The nation that makes a great distinction between its warriors and its scholars will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."
    -Thucydides

    "Beyond a critical point in a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive."
    -Pardot Kynes, Dune

    Ecologists- Scientists engrossed by the natural world and alien ecosystems. Essential to terraforming efforts, improving yields from agriculture and hunting, capturing critters alive, and making peaceful contact with indigenous natives.
    Examples: Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez from A Case of Conscience, Liet-Kynes from Dune, and Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park

    Artificers- Mechanics, programmers and architects. "Machines got workin's and they... talk to me!" Essential to fabricating and repairing ships, weapons and armour, higher-level edifices and basic cybernetic prosthesis.
    Examples: Geordi laForge from Star Trek, Dr. Eldon Tyrell from Blade Runner, and Kaylee Frye from Firefly

    Physicians- Doctors and pharmacists essential for healthcare, emergency medical attention, organ harvesting, cloning, and basic gene tailoring. Also valuable for their knowledge of tranquilisers, hypnotics and stimulants for capture, combat, or interrogation purposes.
    Examples: Leonard "Bones" McCoy from Star Trek, Simon Tam from Firefly, and Dr. Wellington Yueh from Dune
    Last edited by Alfryd; 24-10-2009 at 12:48. Reason: Single Pic.

  20. #40
    ...It's nice up here! Alfryd's Avatar
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    Rogue Traders: Aesthetes, Mercenaries and Runners


    "Sex. Humour. Muscles. Thuggery. Jayne."
    -Adam Baldwin

    "Now if anything happens- or if you don't hear back from me within the hour- I want you to take this ship and I want you to come rescue me."
    -Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

    Aesthetes- Entertainers with refined social skills and a command of various "performance arts", often with a strong strain of religious or mystic sensibility and a dark secret or two in their past. The people you come to for advice, solace, or simply a good time.
    Examples: Inara Serra from Firefly, Guinan from Star Trek, and Gurney Halleck from Dune

    Mercenaries- Trackers, bounty hunters, guns for hire and other loveable scumbags. Generally have excellent knowledge of weapons and armour, improvised brawling, and some survival skills. Tend to favour ranged weapons, but still resilient.
    Examples: Boba Fett from Star Wars, Jayne Cobb from Firefly, mechwarrior mercenary companies from Battletech

    Runners- Smugglers, couriers, renegades and other black-market enablers, helping to transport goods and people without attracting unwanted attention from the authorities. Usually have a good blend of combat, social, and piloting skills, rarely averse to a quick buck.
    Examples: Faith from Mirror's Edge, Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop, Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly and Han Solo from Star Wars
    Last edited by Alfryd; 24-10-2009 at 13:00. Reason: Single Pic.

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