World Building Collab Thread

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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Siege » Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:39 am

I figured that, like Vic mentioned, maybe FTL needs asymptotically flat spacetime to work safely, so any system would be settled from the outside inward because it isn't safe for liners to get too far into the sun's gravitational field.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:48 pm

Maybe it's not the "fringes of the system" and the "inner system" being segregated into civilized space and outlaw land, you could pretty much have a concentration of civilized stuff at the outer system/Oort cloud (namely in the area where the starliners call their "port") while the rest of the fringes are underdeveloped. Then from the civilized port, there could be certain intra-system rail lines or wagon train routes to key inner-system areas that are well developed, like key planets and stuff. But these developed areas would be surrounded by underdeveloped badlands.

So it's less of a "civilization radiates from outwards to inwards/other way around" and more of a "civilization is cloistered in these oases scattered throughout the system, while being surrounded by underdeveloped places full of yokels who dunno where their loyalties lie".
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Siege » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:24 pm

I didn't mean to imply the entirety of the outer system is civilized; it's just that happens to be the place where civilization first gets going. And it then follows the railroads space lanes to, well, wherever they go. Probably places where there's something to be had, be it energy or minerals or vespene gas. I imagine the inner system would be an easy place to make a living as an outlaw hooligan miner because energy is so plentiful due to the sun being there and everything. So it's an easy place to stay alive, as opposed to the depths of the deep system which are dark and cold and offers a much higher chance of running into a frigate or some other armed representative of central authority, because it's closer to said authority.

But in the end it's still oases linked by space trains, and a whole lot of wilderness inbetween.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Siege » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:59 pm

Incidentally, I think Aggregate Levy could be a good name for the aforementioned customs cutter. Because it's the tax authority's job to intercept smugglers and freebooters it has a handful of weapons and a tiny contingent of troops from the spaceguard, which on the so-far nameless moonlet-state is subordinated to the Department of Customs and Excise.

They take taxes very seriously.

Of course they're still outmatched by the upgunned hotrod rockrunners sported by the average piratical freebooter mercenary, and probably even a typical mom-and-pop tramp-tanker could match them gun for gun (if not in technological sophistication) so those weapons won't get them very far. And they sure as hell won't cut it against a SOMAC Line Carrier, which I imagine would be something a bit like a major container vessel that doubles as a supercarrier. Kind of like those well-armed merchantmen that plied the seven seas back in the days of the East India Company.

An overarching plot could be that whoever settled the moonlet in the first place, some far-off civilization, is squeezing them for resources (under threat of reannexation or somesuch), maybe to finance some distant war. This forces the moonlet to in turn put the muscle on its own colonies, hence the taxes and the whole mission in the first place. The merchant guild would either be there to indirectly enforce compliance, to rob additional resources in a plausibly deniable fashion, or both.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Heretic » Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:35 pm

I like your ideas, Siege. Hope you continue to expand your ideas.

As for me, I'm in NaNoWriMo and I have to do a campaign for my friends who want me to do a Star Wars rpg using the Mongoose Traveller system, so I won't be on too much, but when I do I'll work more on the Coalition of Systems and maybe a small sector of rich squabbling planet-states that hire mercenaries to fight each other in a grand metaphor of the Italian City-States during the 15th century.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Lelouch vi Britannia » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:13 am

I'm gonna go WAY against the grain for a moment here and briefly revisit two of the ideas that Heretic put out in the opening post:
Heretic wrote:Another idea I had was to try out a steampunk setting, but this time in the settings of the colonized areas, such as Africa, the Southeastern Asia, etc. etc. We could even add a bit of sorcery and Comix style weird science into the mix, but it would really be interesting to see how the Steam(punk) revolution affects the colonies and indigenous people. Will the people see these machines and advances as a relief from back-breaking labor, or weapons that slowly destroy their way of life? Meh, this is just an excuse to have Tibetan Monks fight against automaton expeditionary forces.

The final idea I have which I'm actually working on is a blatant Crimson Skies rip-off, with AIR PATROL keeping the peace in AIR MANHATTAN against AIR PIRATES. Basically the USA is split into warring states or city-states, and rely on AIR MILITIAS and AIR PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES to defend themselves against AIR PIRATES and AIR COMMUNISTS! Aw hell, it would be much easier to simply write fanfiction for the Crimson Skies universe. But maybe we could expand on it a little bit, the setting being generally lackluster and all.
Neither idea can stand up well on their own, but there might be something if they're combined. I've actually had similar ideas brewing in my head for some time now, though my personal vision tends to lean more towards the likes of Strike Witches than Crimson Skies.

As for the current universe idea being tossed around, something to consider. The big trading companies are always in search of ways to deliver goods more quickly, and so they pay good cash for scouts to chart new trade routes. Once these new routes are established, traffic and trade drop off at spaceports that lie on the old routes, and these bastions of civilization eventually decay into backwaters. For every Space New York or Space Boston, you might have at least ten Space Detroits, former centers of industry and commerce that have clearly seen better days.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Siege » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:39 pm

Steampunk and sorcery... They can be an interesting combination, 'can' being the operative word because in my (admittedly limited) experience such universes usually end up bungled by people with an agenda to push -- be it 'industry triumphs over hokey old religions' or 'magic zomgpwnzers your silly contraptions'. It seems pretty difficult to get the tone just right, which isn't all that odd considering magic is a tricky concept to pull off in its own right. If it has too many rules it ends up like esoteric accounting straight out of a D&D sourcebook; if it doesn't have enough structure to it anyone can do anything in which case, hell, what are you going to write about?

In the other discussion: I like the idea of competing trade routes, of trade guilds playing one moon against the other, and possibly inciting conflicts in the process. I could see a colony at risk of being outcompeted issuing letters of marque to space privateers to forcibly render the other trade lane unfeasible. Cue plunderings of the space silver fleet and captains raising their eyebrows wondering "Is that legal?"; "I will MAKE it legal!"
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Arkitek » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:33 pm

I figure that the steampunk stuff would just incorporate the magic rather seamlessly.

Some civilizations might rely on one more than the other, but they'd all have common elements.

I mean, a fridge is a fridge.

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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Lelouch vi Britannia » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:21 am

While I do have a few ideas for a dieselpunk-and-sorcery setting, I'd like to revisit this and this. We had something going there for a bit before it all burned out, and I still feel that the setting we came up with has some potential left in it, even if the game itself is effectively dead.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Invictus » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:58 am

I can't say anything particularly leaps at me from the combination of words "steampunk", "sorcery", "diesalpunk" and so on, and I share Siege's concerns about achieving a balance between wonder-flavored magic and history-flavored modernity in a way that isn't problematic. Base it in the fantasy genre and I'll get snippy if people instantly leap for mecha and airmobile rifle brigades and so forth. Base it in the alleged real world and the magic becomes a tool to geopolitical dickwaving.

Bringing up the abortive (but plenty crazy) postapocalyptic O1 RPG though does stir my creative juices. Sure it's supposedly set in the future, but the context is so far removed from the real world for that to be a very serious claim. Australia is shattered into an archipelago for ill-defined reasons! All of Indochina is a fascist state set in permanent Apocalypse Now! The Amazon is now an inhospitable wasteland for ill-defined reasons! Japan is all flying battleships and nostalgia about an implausible golden age! North America was dominated by god-king native americans or something! Mutants! Cyborgs! Psionics! Add aliens and it would have been RIFTS.

My general idea is to turn the clock forward to a setting that's similar but perhaps not in the middle of a global ecological meltdown, a bit less post-apocalyptic and a bit more post-historical. Some people use what we today would call technology, some employ sorcery, and most combine the two. There's no hot new skipping down the path to whiggish perfection - the present is past, the future is past, and everything is a bit established and frankly a bit worn. In this way, I hope that when the competition between industry and magic inevitably crops up, it becomes less a question of who has the better tools for engaging objective reality but which is the better color for filling in a damaged canvas. For more concrete ideas, I'll throw this, this and this into the ring.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Siege » Mon Nov 12, 2012 3:22 pm

I find there's something very appealing about a worn-out and weary world, a place that's definitely seen better days and is perhaps not melting down, but definitely crumbling along the edges. Such a setting does lend itself much more easily to the idea that people just use what's at hand and works, and whether that's 'magic' or 'technology' is an abstract discussion reserved for the increasingly few ivory-towered intellectuals who have the time to bother with matters of theology and philosophy; most of everybody else has a job to do and surviving in this hard knock world is hard enough without worrying whether the mana battery powering their livelihood is technically a magical artefact or really just a battery.

The RPG got that right, I agree, but the real-world setting was perhaps not the rightest for it, and launching it immediately as an RPG with everybody playing just one state was probably not the best way to fill up the world either. It may be a good idea to try something similar but condense the setting by quite a bit, at least in terms of sheer geographic span.
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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Invictus » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:40 pm

The fun with a post-historical setting is it could be set in the real world and still look nothing like it. It's definitely the more compelling idea.

But because I haven't forgotten about the FTL traders idea entirely:

The stars grow ever bluer.

The Arkhangelsk Express hurtles onwards.

The hardened forward sensors detect something ahead and pin it like searchlights, unfurling more delicate arrays of instruments to risk a better look. Astrographic subsystems enter crunch-mode, racing to deliver an analysis to me before the ship runs into the smudge in our very-soon-to-be former light cone.

It comes. Gas-cloudy, with a chance of micro-debris. I take this under advisement and make the course correction. Ions hiss and the shipskin stress sensors glow a yellow spiderweb in my mind's eye. But the Express dodges it with room to spare.

I re-calibrate the ship's course, more gently, and finally pay attention to to the caretaker crew's attempts to get into the loop. They react with good grace, making jokes about old asteroid-jockey instincts. I chit-chat and whisper status reports into their implants, filling them in on the little things they had missed while asleep. Unlike them, I do not sleep.

I am the Federation's first and only post-human. I am a million klicks of neurons unspooled from the brain of a war hero, trimmed and cloned and spliced and grafted and hooked up to a labyrinthine switchboard of cybernetic interfaces. I am the homunculus at the heart of the Express' control systems. Chains of command and scrupulous rosters bind the human crew, dictated by their social hierarchies and their biological clocks; my control of the ship is an unwavering constant.

I have human memories. Phantom fingers clutching joystick triggers. A vivid redness imposed by emotion centers instead of false-color filters. The distant blooms of nukefire, seen only as light. The weight of something as tiny as a medal, threatening to bow me over. I can still look back and remember why I accepted this higher purpose, the worm-cast of outmoded desitrs lined up into a right and proper narrative.

I have ship memories. My capacity for thought is many times expanded, my consciousness made keen and unyielding by parallel processing and massive redundancy. I read data processed from countless sensors, interrogating input from specialized subsystems that are black jewels set into my web. Some are also neural nets, but none were human brains, like I. Ultimately the Federation could not trust a computer to do the work of a man, hence my inception. Let a man do the work of a computer.

It has been ten years. My neurons die off and their stem-gel matrix prunes them. The decline of my redundant capacity is well within parameters. My charges slumber, mostly, as I set out to preserve them from a mostly empty universe.

The interferometers go mad.

My attention whips about, almost as fast as the ship’s dedicated subsystems. Waves of gravitic distortions were dashing against the Express from prow to engine. Nothing critically dangerous - there had been worse structural stresses along the trip - but the sensors were panicking. Alarms and contingency routines cascade until I tamp them down and put better ones to work.

The space-time phenomena - the anomaly - isn't anything the Federation has ever observed. The subsystems confirm so, faithfully proclaiming the failure of their analysis. We had thought it enough, the scientific base that our colonial ancestors had inherited. Not even the construction of the Arkhangelsk Express had tested its theoretical limits, nor had mine. Our databases were built upon this perfect knowledge, and now we pay for our incuriosity.

The crew too were waking up, their confusion a mirror to the chaos in the ship's networks. The cream of the Federation's technical minds weren't much use this soon out of their biofugues. Confined to their G-tanks, they lack the ability to fully grasp the shipstatus, the astronomy, the entirety of the situation. Unknowing speculations bubble into overflowing panic.

I split the difference, grab the data myself for a looksee, tear the covers off the Chomskian-language databases, and put that many-times-squared bit of ol' human intuition to work. There was theory, and there was speculation that lines up with observation. I figure it out a split second before it happens.

The warp bubble pops, depositing something from the deep that made the Arkhangelsk Express look like a remora. It gleamed. There was an aesthetic maturity in its design that the Federation’s shipcraft had far from achieved. Even its very visibility meant in all probability that the it was deliberately giving us a good look at it. One could only hope that it represented a universal gesture of peace; a baring of the throat.

FTL - the absolute advantage, strategic and tactical. The very confirmation of its existence inspires in me a bodiless chill. It would have been even more trivial for a ship like this to overtake the Express on its sublight crawl than to track it down and match velocities with it in the emptiness between stars. There was every possibility that our destination has already been...compromised by another, holding every apparent metric in advancement. We no longer go assured.

The other ship (keeping pace with all apparent grace, and I resist the screeching urge to accelerate harder) hails us with a passing resemblance of Federal protocol code. A part of me directs the subsystems to help the crew decode the message - it takes them off the worrying while I do it.

In the absence of assurance, I do much worrying.

It was one thing to connect well-established speculation to astrographic readings that were if totally unprecedented, at least straightforwardly physical. It was quite another to extrapolate enough context from a single brief transmission to distinguish the natural drift of language from an attempt to disguise how much a potential foe really knows about us. That avenue of worry reaches a quick and predictable dead end. The ambivalence in my advice builds. The crew begin to bicker.

I watch them spar with keen shards of think-tank rhetoric and pre-colonization lore, all the wisdom of the Federation pared down to slapfights in a tincan. I speculate on the patience of our hosts.

There is little to it. We reply with similarly scrambled code, a barely disguised honesty, implying problems with chains of command in a first-generation sleeper ship and so forth. We provisionally approve of further communications, promising a fuller and more comprehensive response in six Federation hours.

I wake and brief the captain in half a one.
"This explanation posits that external observation leads to the collapse of the quantum wave function. This is another expression of reactionary idealism, and it's indeed the most brazen expression."
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REBUILD OF COMIX STAGE 1 - Rey Quirino Versus the Dark Heart of the Philippines
"...a literary atrocity against the senses..." - Ford

REBUILD OF COMIX STAGE 2 - Advent Rey Returns: REVERGELTUNG
Coming NEVER

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Re: World Building Collab Thread

Post by Lelouch vi Britannia » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:53 pm

Of the stuff we contributed to the O1 RPG, I personally felt that Red Commissar's stuff set in post-collapse Africa was closest to the theme of a used and worn world where people are too concerned with day-to-day survival to spend time fretting about whatever differences exist between magic and technology. For my part, I was probably missing the point by a country mile by writing ham-fisted Top Gun homages, though post-collapse Japan as envisioned by Fingolfin and Heretic appealed to me in its own way.
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