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Future Tech Advice and Assistance Thread [O.O.C.]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]

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The Fedral Union
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Postby The Fedral Union » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:21 pm

Bah most of em are youngins; Rethan I can remember the start of most FT allegiances on II, ESUS, the GE, the GFFA. They were much different than what IRON was, or HERMES was. They weren't just groups of people looking to make fun stories and such and IIRC IRON was made to jump start things in FT. Anyway that was the age when Alliances were there to "kick" the asses of anyone who invaded a member, and being on the reviving end of a dog pile I can say it sucked..

Honestly that is what turned people off to alliances mostly IMO,as for now. I learned from those mistakes designing GESO. But the best example of group rping comes from the NS forum and ToY or the NDA... They have been around since the start.
Last edited by The Fedral Union on Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Abys
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Postby Abys » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:00 pm

So I was originally going to have a confederation of a bunch of Aliens working together. Then I sat down and looked at it and realized it was too complex and would quickly get difficult to manage. So I decided to simplify it into something more manage back I'm left with a decision on what species I want to RP with.

Should I stick with the tried and true humans or one of my aliens. what are some pros and cons of RPing with aliens or humans, which one increases the likelihood that someone would want to RP with me?
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Kyrusia
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Postby Kyrusia » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:31 pm

The Fedral Union wrote:Bah most of em are youngins; Rethan I can remember the start of most FT allegiances on II, ESUS, the GE, the GFFA. They were much different than what IRON was, or HERMES was. They weren't just groups of people looking to make fun stories and such and IIRC IRON was made to jump start things in FT. Anyway that was the age when Alliances were there to "kick" the asses of anyone who invaded a member, and being on the reviving end of a dog pile I can say it sucked..

Honestly that is what turned people off to alliances mostly IMO,as for now. I learned from those mistakes designing GESO. But the best example of group rping comes from the NS forum and ToY or the NDA... They have been around since the start.


Let's cut back on the condescension a bit, please.



Again, though not directly related to the current topic, there have been a few new helpful resources added to the original post of this thread. Feel free to take a look when you get a chance!
Last edited by Kyrusia on Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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OMGeverynameistaken
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Postby OMGeverynameistaken » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:50 pm

Obviously we should revive the Galactic Alliance and all join a single alliance. No other alliances will be allowed and the galaxy will be a wonderful place.
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Rethan
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Postby Rethan » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:16 pm

Abys wrote:So I was originally going to have a confederation of a bunch of Aliens working together. Then I sat down and looked at it and realized it was too complex and would quickly get difficult to manage. So I decided to simplify it into something more manage back I'm left with a decision on what species I want to RP with.

Should I stick with the tried and true humans or one of my aliens. what are some pros and cons of RPing with aliens or humans, which one increases the likelihood that someone would want to RP with me?

I covered most of the issues on the #NSFT channel, but I figured I'd write them out here with better explanation for others to potentially read over if that have the same questions (and so anyone who wasn't there on the IRC can argue with/agree with me as they see fit). One of these days I might actually write a guide on "Making a Proper Alien", because that sort of thing really interests me even if I've not had the best success doing it myself due to lack of research and forethought (I'm impatient, sue me).

ANYWAY. On with the show:

RPing as Humans
Pros: Humans are easy to roleplay as compared to aliens. We are all of us human (or so I assume. I'm not so sure about that Kyrusia guy) on the forums, which means we are intimately familiar with human thought processes. It's much easier to create, develop, and eventually roleplay as a human civilisation on NS because it doesn't require us to think too greatly outside the box. This doesn't mean there's a narrow scope to human roleplay either. The culture, mindset, and mannerisms of the Huerdaen are hugely different to the Valinor. But they're still, at their core, human. Humans don't require you to come up with a unique biology (something that is stupendously difficult to do right). You don't need to think about your homeworld's climate and environment as much, because you can just say "It's similar to earth".

Humans are also easy to RP with. When I roleplay with a human species roleplayer, I don't need to read a factbook or ask too many questions to get a feel with what I'm facing. I can already picture what a human looks like, and then alter my standard human image to suit the human character I'm reading about. Do I want to picture a Huerdaen? I just imagine a human, and make them short, pale, and exceptionally grumpy.

Cons: Well...humans are done a lot. Not that this is a bad thing, in theory. It goes along with the whole "easy to roleplay with/against" thing above. But everyone likes some spice with their rice from time to time, and if everyone was humans the galaxy would be kinda boring.

Really, I can think of no major cons to roleplaying with humans right now. Because we're so familiar with them, it's easy enough to mould the standard human template into a civilisation we want. It's easy enough to conjure up human characters that we'd enjoy writing and reading. There is a reason humanity is such a staple in science fiction. Look at how hugely varied the cultures languages and mindsets are just on Earth. Throw in the majest and size of space and you can go crazy without having to worry about overly scientific things like biology.

All of the above equally applies to "Human-In-All-But-Name" aliens. Or, as some people call them, "rubber-foreheaded aliens". Those aliens that aren't really massively different to humans, be it in biology or in culture. Honestly, I think the best way to RP aliens on NS is as a rubber-foreheaded species. Start with a humanoid template, then mould it into something you think is interesting/cool. I'll explain why I think this is the best way to go about it later in this post.


RPing as Aliens
Pros: Total and utter freedom. Aliens are cool, aliens can be unique. Depending on how hard you want your science fiction, you can go with everything from beings of pure energy down to aliens that have a vaguely possible silicon based biology. Aliens that evolve in a truly alien way, in a truly alien environment, are going to think and act hugely different to humans. Heck, if they're suitably alien humans might not even recognise them as life. Some human explorers walk on up to a planet and suddenly OHMAGAWD THE LAVA IS ALIVE. Or even more subtly, the humans could live on a planet for years and not even realise that the water is alive and sentient (and vice versa). Aliens give you a freedom and (potentially) uniqueness that human based, or overly humanoid aliens, civilisations simply won't have.

Look at how hugely varied life is on our planet alone. Compare a human to a spider. Compare a wasp to a starfish. Compare an eagle to a giant tube worm. Now throw in the wackiness of, say, a Venus style atmosphere. Or life that evolves in a gas giant. Or under the ice of a moon like Europa. Aliens can be cool, beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.

Cons: It's hard. Like really, really hard. Remember how I said most aliens in Sci Fi (and on NS, despite what a lot of people might claim regarding their own invented species) are rubber-foreheaded, human-in-all-but-name? There's a damn good reason. A truly alien species requires a hell of a lot of thought. Sure, you can come up with some massively impressive biology (and it may or may not have some basis in science, or it could just be random junk you threw together because it sounds cool), but it means jack shit imo if your aliens then think and act like humans in any way shape or form. If the biology is massively different, if the conditions for life on their home are so massively different, as to produce a truly alien species, you can be damn sure it's not going to think like humans.

Which means all those templates you have for making a human-esque civilisation I listed above? Looking at the varied cultures of Earth and so on? All of those get stood on, torn up, and thrown into the sun when it comes to sufficiently alien aliens. Coming up with a culture that isn't just a human flavoured one slapped onto a starfish alien is not easy, and most people who attempt to do so fail. Then there's another thing you have to worry about. How to roleplay it? You're a boring old human, remember? How do you consistently, reliably, and convincingly roleplay as something with truly alien thoughts and feelings? Sure, you might be able to pull it off writing a short story. Or heck, even in a roleplay or two. But getting into that alien mindset probably isn't going to be easy when you have to mould the reactions of your species to whatever the other roleplayers on NS throw your way.

And hey look: another problem. Roleplaying with everyone else. Most NSFT nations are humans, or at least think like humans. If you've successfully made an alien race, then communication is going to be a bitch. First Contact can be handwaved over, I suppose, but I feel like just going "my tube worms suddenly speak english despite not having mouths and usually speaking through the emission of scents" is massively devaluing your world building.



Aliens are difficult to do convincingly, and I have seen maybe two/three people pull it off on NS in a manner where you can't just point and say: "Underneath all the flabby bits, they're basically humans". If you pull it off, more power to you. But if you don't want to spend a long time drafting things, doing research, and experimenting, you are way better off going with something that's vaguely alien rather than truly alien. Your vaguely alien species doesn't have to be humanoid, but having them think somewhat like humans will make things so much easier for you. Believe me, I've tried. I have tried with multiple puppets, and even this account, to create what I consider a truly alien species. And I have failed to meet my own (perhaps somewhat high) standards every single time. There's a reason I now roleplay as a cult of humans that simply work for my alien species, rather than as the aliens themselves. I really want to work at my aliens, do a hell of a lot of drafting and research to make sure that this time, I'm happy with what I have made.

Humans and humanoid aliens are easy, and mouldable enough that you can do what you want with them. For roleplaying, I think they're perfect precisely because they're 'basically' human. Others can roleplay with you easily enough, and you can get started roleplaying easily enough too. My honest suggestion? Go human/humanoid. If anyone looks down on you for it, they're a jerk and you should just ignore them. You can do a lot with a humanish alien species without running into the sticky problem of trying to roleplay something that your human mind is literally not programmed to understand or think as.



Suggestions and Advice
I'll be updating this list as I find more stuff, because I spoke a lot about doing research into writing convincing aliens without providing anywhere to go. It's got some tips on designing aliens, and some resources on where to go find information. If you have suggestions for me to add, reply with them and I'll add them to the list.
  • Your best bet to start off is to head down to your local library, or log on to wikipedia, and start reading pages and pages about biology. If you want weird stuff, start with marine biology. Even if you don't want to have a hard sci fi species with a biology that's accurate down to the cellular level, this stuff will give you an idea of what you want to start thinking about when designing your aliens. Plus it's a good source for inspiration.
  • Next up is cultural stuff. Now, while an alien culture isn't going to be similar to human cultures, that's no reason you can't do some rudimentary reading on human cultures throughout history. There have been some weird traditions and beliefs throughout human history, so see if they inspire you to get something weird and wonderful for your aliens.
  • I consider the novel Blindsight by Peter Watts required reading for everyone in NSFT, but especially so for those looking to make their own alien race. Watts has experience in marine biology, and did a lot of research of his own when designing the aliens in Blindsight. And all of his sources and notes can be found at the end of the novel, which can be found at the link I just put in there to be read for free. Because Watts is awesome.
  • Rendezvous with Rama is a slightly more subtle example. You never actually see the aliens, but you do get a glimpse into their thoughts and culture through the eyes of the human characters. Kind of. You'd have to read it to truly understand what I'm getting it, but even without actually seeing the aliens of Rama you can still get a great feel for an alien species.
  • Alien Planet is a mockumentary of sorts. It's of somewhat questionable scientific legitimacy, but since I'm focusing on giving you inspiration rather than hard scientific facts I'm including it here. Alien Planet's great for imagining how life might evolve in an earth-like environment, without winding up being like anything we have on Earth.
  • Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization: A pretty thorough examination of xenology that I'm making my way through now. It's a teeny bit out of date, but that doesn't render it totally useless.
  • Evolving the Alien was one of the first things I thought of when writing this post. I read it some time ago, but the lessons it taught me have stuck with me since then. It's certainly not a scientific piece, and it doesn't actually give you tips or steps on imagining your own aliens. What it does do is break down some of the inherent biases people have over what aliens should look like (stuff like carbon chauvinism and what not). If you can find a copy in a library, or get one for free/cheap, I'd certainly suggest it. If not, you wouldn't actually be missing much by giving this a pass.
  • Xenopsychology - A paper written by the same guy who wrote Xenology, focusing more on the psychology of aliens than their biology.

Side note: A lot of the problems with roleplaying as true aliens can also be used to explain why roleplaying as a true AI based nation, or even a nation with AIs, is difficult to pull off well. We, as humans, cannot think like a machine would in the same way we cannot think like an alien would. And that makes getting inside their head and roleplaying as them very, very difficult.
Last edited by Rethan on Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:44 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Huerdae
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Postby Huerdae » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:03 pm

Excellent post, Reth.

I think it does well portraying just how difficult a truly alien culture is - I am not very good at it. I can twist other people's creations and cultures, but all my creatures are humanoid. Trust me, it's better. The Dei still fuck with my head, and I feel I did them poorly.

For those who don't know, the Sennaar Dei were an all-AI psychotic puppet of mine for fun. I made a grand total of five characters, and they continue to sit in the depths of my mind being freaky to my simple organic processing unit.
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OMGeverynameistaken
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Postby OMGeverynameistaken » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:09 am

So, I've mentioned in Legion that I'm working on a new setting (yes, another one.) My current thoughts are towards a sort of diesel/atompunk "golden age of scifi" setting, retaining the Cold War atmosphere on Earth while encouraging interaction with the galaxy at large. The plot-to-now is essentially that, in the near future, a global war is touched off by the development of practical orbital intercept technology, effectively rendering the ballistic missile obsolete. This rapidly leads to what is essentially a reenactment of WWII with modern technology, and supersonic bombers dropping nukes everywhere. This sort of total war proves unsustainable and, after about a decade of halfhearted fighting, most of the national entities effectively collapse.

After a few decades of sorting things out, a few of the more powerful states which arise out of this conflict begin to assert hegemony and eventually reassert themselves, generally taking on the model of previous entities as a form of legitimacy (call it Roman Empire Syndrome.) A few of these are less than successful, some manage to maintain their power. Humanity reasserts itself and begins to discover all of the super neato SCIENCE! that was going on towards the end of the (rather optimistically named) Last War. These include a huge store of missiles, which provided a basis for a new space program including the wonderful former military secrets.

Alternatively, the Last War attracts alien attention, leading to an invasion and subsequent unification of humanity against the threat. This would probably create more of an 'us vs. them' atmosphere towards the rest of the galaxy, which I think would help move things in the direction I want them to go.

This will be a setting within the mainstream NSFT community, of course, with the intent of avoiding EE's unintentional isolationism.

So, why am I posting this in the advice thread? Well, I'd like some advice. I'm hoping (as usual) to avoid a quick death due to inactivity, and thus I'm introducing a few new 'features.' I'd like the advice of the FT community on them.

1. A 'chain of command' amoung nations to reduce the required player count

Previously, EE was often somewhat limited by the lack of players in certain areas. Often this meant consolidations, combining neighbors and generally trying to work out what could be shoved into which country without people noticing too much.

Fortunately, the atmosphere of the Cold War gives us something to work with in the form of alliance blocs. OOCly this means that the 'main' state of each alliance (The US, USSR, China, Britain, etc.) will be able to define the actions of the states which make up their alliance until such time as those states are played. Consider it in the light of a cooperative regime being in place at the start, which is thrown out when a player takes over (although they are free to remain in the alliance, of course.)


2. Overt warfare is strictly forbidden within Sol.

Due to the sheer number of weapons pointed at every possible target and the somewhat precarious situation of humanity at this point, the alliance blocs have agreed to put aside warfare within Sol and to combine their efforts in the galaxy at large.

This does not mean things are lovey-dovey and happy, however. Indeed, alliances are expected to make every effort to trip each other up, engage in proxy wars outside of Sol and do as much military posturing as possible. The idea is that this will encourage players to go out and do things in the mainstream FT environment, while still leaving them the opportunity to have spy RPs and infiltrate assassins into Cuba to blow up Robo-Castro. Discovery could well mean loss of inflluence with the other alliance blocs, which could lead to trouble off of Sol and possibly even to a future breakdown of the balance of power on Earth. But that would be some time in the future. It goes without saying that humanity will take it upon itself to spread its various ideologies through the galaxy, whether the various aliens they encounter want, or even understand, them.

And, happily, the formation of alliance blocs will not be a problem, as they already exist and, therefore, nobody should need to go about making them. Hooray.

3. Attempting a fine balance of pre-determined lore

This is one of the trickier things. With EE I had attempted to enforce a unified tech base and theme, which didn't work out too well. With this setting, things can be a bit more freeform and, with the guidance of Atomic Rocket, there's a common resource which will no doubt prove helpful in some aspects of the theme's technology.

We will, in essence, be talking 'semi-hard' scifi. Most likely less internally consistent than EE, but more adaptable to what people want to play.

History will most likely be worked out in the same way as before, since that generally seems to be acceptable to everybody. I'll create a timeline detailing the major points and people can then fill in the details as we go along.



I want this to work, and I believe that throwing freedom loving, well muscled, 2.5 child-having Americans/revolutionary-front-minded, glory-of-the-party-laboring, Soviet citizens out into the galaxy will lead to some amusing interactions, and hopefully a few good wars.


EDIT:
Oh, and here's a map:
http://i.imgur.com/8twipbK.png

Imgur to the rescue, since Imageshack has decided that everything must be downsized.
Last edited by OMGeverynameistaken on Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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SquareDisc City
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Postby SquareDisc City » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:12 am

Rethan wrote:the novel Blindsight
Ffffuuu-

I was going to use the term "Blindsight" for a method of FTL travel. Should I rename it to not clash with the novel?
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Rethan
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Postby Rethan » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:17 am

SquareDisc City wrote:
Rethan wrote:the novel Blindsight
Ffffuuu-

I was going to use the term "Blindsight" for a method of FTL travel. Should I rename it to not clash with the novel?

I don't see why you'd have to. Blindsight is actually a term for a psychological (medical?) condition which he chose to use, so it's not like he came up with the term.
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Sskiss
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Postby Sskiss » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:52 am

Rethan, I agree with Huerdae, excellent post. The term "alien" in this case can be relative as well. Basically, its just how far are you willing to go with the concept.
Last edited by Sskiss on Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Vorkova
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Postby Vorkova » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:33 am

Vorkova wrote:So I'm probably going to turn this nation into my FT nation, and I wanted to get some criticism on my origin story. I'm going to go with furries this time, canines to be exact, and I was thinking about how my people could have changed from wolves to anthros. Rather than say they evolved over hundreds of millions of years, I wanted to give them a more... unique origin.

I was thinking about a scenario where a radioactive meteor crashes into my homeworld around fifty thousand years in the past, causing a group of local wolves to mutate and take on some humanoid characteristics (This would be a gradual change over a few hundred years). An earthquake could eventually cause the small island they live on to sink, destroying the meteor (And subsequently halting their evolution at a stage similar to modern humans) and forcing them to emigrate, which eventually leads to them spreading across the entire planet. I was thinking races could develop quickly (Foxes, ect.) after this due to the lingering effects of the asteroid, which allows them to adapt to climates quickly (This would wear off within a few generations).

As to how earth wolves got to a random alien system in the first place, I was thinking they could be the result of a failed human colony. A colony ship jumps to the system sometime in the future, inadvertently encountering a warp anomaly on the way which sends it fifty thousand years into the past. Unaware of what has just happened, the humans colonise the planet and seed it with earth life. When a plague breaks out sometime later and the support necessary to save the colony doesn't come, the humans die out, leaving the animals behind. This is where the above mentioned meteor comes in and sets things rolling.

Thoughts?
Last edited by Vorkova on Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Jullin » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:23 am

Vorkova wrote:
Vorkova wrote:So I'm probably going to turn this nation into my FT nation, and I wanted to get some criticism on my origin story. I'm going to go with furries this time, canines to be exact, and I was thinking about how my people could have changed from wolves to anthros. Rather than say they evolved over hundreds of millions of years, I wanted to give them a more... unique origin.

I was thinking about a scenario where a radioactive meteor crashes into my homeworld around fifty thousand years in the past, causing a group of local wolves to mutate and take on some humanoid characteristics (This would be a gradual change over a few hundred years). An earthquake could eventually cause the small island they live on to sink, destroying the meteor (And subsequently halting their evolution at a stage similar to modern humans) and forcing them to emigrate, which eventually leads to them spreading across the entire planet. I was thinking races could develop quickly (Foxes, ect.) after this due to the lingering effects of the asteroid, which allows them to adapt to climates quickly (This would wear off within a few generations).

As to how earth wolves got to a random alien system in the first place, I was thinking they could be the result of a failed human colony. A colony ship jumps to the system sometime in the future, inadvertently encountering a warp anomaly on the way which sends it fifty thousand years into the past. Unaware of what has just happened, the humans colonise the planet and seed it with earth life. When a plague breaks out sometime later and the support necessary to save the colony doesn't come, the humans die out, leaving the animals behind. This is where the above mentioned meteor comes in and sets things rolling.

Thoughts?


The only downside to this is that high levels of radiation tend to kill living things, either by destroying cells outright or mutating them into cancer. The documented cases of radiation 'evolving' a creature into a different, more intelligent, creature equal exactly zero.

However, if Godzilla and Fallout can get away with it, I don't see any reason why you can't. It's just pedants like me who fuss over that kind of thing. And it leaves you with the ability to tell a potentially interesting tale of a species having to deal with suddenly gaining intelligence and how they cope with that.

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Vorkova
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Postby Vorkova » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:47 am

Jullin wrote:The only downside to this is that high levels of radiation tend to kill living things, either by destroying cells outright or mutating them into cancer. The documented cases of radiation 'evolving' a creature into a different, more intelligent, creature equal exactly zero. However, if Godzilla and Fallout can get away with it, I don't see any reason why you can't. It's just pedants like me who fuss over that kind of thing. And it leaves you with the ability to tell a potentially interesting tale of a species having to deal with suddenly gaining intelligence and how they cope with that.

I completely understand that. I remember reading about the effects the radiation in Pripyat had on the local wildlife. Like you said though, Fallout and loads of other video games/movies do this to make things plausible. Ghouls may be completely impossible, but Fallout has them and they were a damn good idea. I admit this is a fantasy idea inspired by my forays into the furry fandom, but then isn't that what future tech is kind of about? Fantasy ideas made reality in a future setting?
Last edited by Vorkova on Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Jullin
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Postby Jullin » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:45 am

Vorkova wrote:
Jullin wrote:The only downside to this is that high levels of radiation tend to kill living things, either by destroying cells outright or mutating them into cancer. The documented cases of radiation 'evolving' a creature into a different, more intelligent, creature equal exactly zero. However, if Godzilla and Fallout can get away with it, I don't see any reason why you can't. It's just pedants like me who fuss over that kind of thing. And it leaves you with the ability to tell a potentially interesting tale of a species having to deal with suddenly gaining intelligence and how they cope with that.

I completely understand that. I remember reading about the effects the radiation in Pripyat had on the local wildlife. Like you said though, Fallout and loads of other video games/movies do this to make things plausible. Ghouls may be completely impossible, but Fallout has them and they were a damn good idea. I admit this is a fantasy idea inspired by my forays into the furry fandom, but then isn't that what future tech is kind of about? Fantasy ideas made reality in a future setting?


Like I said, you're not the first, and it'll make for an interesting story, just wanted to make sure you were aware of it is all.

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Vorkova
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Postby Vorkova » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:56 am

Jullin wrote:
Vorkova wrote:I completely understand that. I remember reading about the effects the radiation in Pripyat had on the local wildlife. Like you said though, Fallout and loads of other video games/movies do this to make things plausible. Ghouls may be completely impossible, but Fallout has them and they were a damn good idea. I admit this is a fantasy idea inspired by my forays into the furry fandom, but then isn't that what future tech is kind of about? Fantasy ideas made reality in a future setting?


Like I said, you're not the first, and it'll make for an interesting story, just wanted to make sure you were aware of it is all.

I was kind of sceptical about the idea at first, but if you think it could work I'll certainly go with it. I have some ideas down for a basic type of government (Partially inspired by inter-war Hungary's regency under Horthy) and history, but I'm a bit confused about what to do about culture. Should I base my people off of an Earth culture or try to come up with something new myself? I've never been good with consistency regarding culture before, so I want to get it right this time.

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Postby Jullin » Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:25 am

Vorkova wrote:
Jullin wrote:
Like I said, you're not the first, and it'll make for an interesting story, just wanted to make sure you were aware of it is all.

I was kind of sceptical about the idea at first, but if you think it could work I'll certainly go with it. I have some ideas down for a basic type of government (Partially inspired by inter-war Hungary's regency under Horthy) and history, but I'm a bit confused about what to do about culture. Should I base my people off of an Earth culture or try to come up with something new myself? I've never been good with consistency regarding culture before, so I want to get it right this time.


Something to think about is that these are creatures who have been very rapidly thrust into having intelligence over the span of only a few generations (as you described it, at least). You'd be looking at offspring of the earliest generations of this new species being vastly more intelligent than their parents, but having no existing culture or society to draw on.

Let's use a fantastical scenario and say that humans underwent the same thing instead of evolving naturally, and you found yourself as the first intelligent human, born of something far more primitive (pretty much what Creationists often portray evolution as being about). How would you cope, with no language and yet having complex thoughts that you wanted to express? What direction do you think civilisation would take from that abrupt starting point? Would you remain animalistic, would animalistic habits and behavior be retained to some degree by the resulting society simply because they knew no better / out of tradition? Or would you find your primitive roots beneath you and offensive, and do everything that you could to distance yourself from them? Would you have any knowledge of the asteroid and what it did, and if so would it enter into your people's mythos, or would you be clueless as to what caused this sudden uplift?

Someone far more philosophical than me could pose some more interesting / accurate questions to consider, but it certainly provides you with something to think about when designing their culture as it is today.

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Postby Reliquary » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:08 pm

Rethan wrote:I consider the novel Blindsight by Peter Watts required reading for everyone in NSFT, but especially so for those looking to make their own alien race. Watts has experience in marine biology, and did a lot of research of his own when designing the aliens in Blindsight. And all of his sources and notes can be found at the end of the novel, which can be found at the link I just put in there to be read for free. Because Watts is awesome.


I cannot support this enough. Seriously, Watts is just amazing. (And Canadian. An amazing Canadian. Who blogged about contracting a flesh-eating virus. With pictures.) The Rifters series in particular is pretty much the only interesting science fiction series I have ever heard of that doesn't completely ignore aquatic environments after the advent space travel, and so is pretty much the sole fictional influence on my aquatic aliens. (Although I am passively searching for others.) He also wrote Crysis: Legion, which is probably the best novel ever when it comes to the psychology of a suit that directly connects to one's brain.


Anyway, short little half-assed blurb about aliens. If you want truly alien aliens, do not go too extreme. Incomprehensible Lovecraftian abominations do not make good RP characters. Remember that evolution still plays a role in the development of life, even on other planets. It isn't likely to be even close to Earth life, but to even be partially RPable it would need to have at least some of the same base impluses. Fight-or-flight, understanding of aggression, empathy towards others of its 'tribe' and natural selection are all still going to show up in naturally evolved aliens and their biology. They might be exhibited in an extremely different way than Earth lifeforms, but they are still almost surely going to be present in some form.

Basically, be alien but don't be lolrandom or INCOMPREHENSIBLE ALIEN INTELLIGENCE THAT BREAKS PEOPLES MINDS FROM BEING SEEN ONCE. (Seriously, when Lovecraft did it it was good. Almost everyone else should really just stop.) That's almost as bad as rubber forehead aliens, and a lot harder to RP in any way other than as a very clearly malevolent antagonist.

Aside from that, Rethan addressed everything I think needs to be said on the subject.
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Postby Tribea » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:38 pm

I was thinking of cybernetic implants(Cyber Knights RPG, in which i still think dataports are the most useful ones), and Cyber Knights RPG pointed something out: If you have changed the spinal cord and brainstem to the point of them connecting to the Global Matrix(sig for meaning) through machinez called Data Terminals, are you still human?
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Postby SquareDisc City » Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:39 am

That's the kind of thing I'd probably leave as an open question IC. After all, it's going to depend on fine points of definitions and philosophical considerations.
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Postby Themiclesia » Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:55 am

But why isn't this thread in FB&NI? :)

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Postby Jovian Lunar Empire » Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:57 am

Tribea wrote:I was thinking of cybernetic implants(Cyber Knights RPG, in which i still think dataports are the most useful ones), and Cyber Knights RPG pointed something out: If you have changed the spinal cord and brainstem to the point of them connecting to the Global Matrix(sig for meaning) through machinez called Data Terminals, are you still human?


Ship of Theseus!

Philosophers have been batting around a simplified variation of that question for years and nobody has come up with a conclusive answer.
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Ivory Record
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Postby Ivory Record » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:11 am

Jovian Lunar Empire wrote:
Tribea wrote:I was thinking of cybernetic implants(Cyber Knights RPG, in which i still think dataports are the most useful ones), and Cyber Knights RPG pointed something out: If you have changed the spinal cord and brainstem to the point of them connecting to the Global Matrix(sig for meaning) through machinez called Data Terminals, are you still human?


Ship of Theseus!

Philosophers have been batting around a simplified variation of that question for years and nobody has come up with a conclusive answer.


Ship of Theseus doesn't DIRECTLY apply here, though I applaud the reference, as few enough people know the proper name of the problem, even if the problem itself is fairly well-known.

The Ship of Theseus problem asks if a ship that has had every plank and cable replaced with new, identical planks and cables, is it still the same ship. The poster of the question is asking if replacing one specific set of body parts constitutes no longer being human...

At which point I have to ask how we are defining human per-se. In my independent work, I had a character who became afflicted with a rare and so-far unnamed degenerative condition that forbid his cells from reproducing, which would have rapidly killed him. Since it was within the techbase of the time to inject him with nanites, which eventually fully replaced his cells, he was saved. Since he was now essentially 100% prosthetic, there was an argument about whether or not he was still a human. The end result was that the majority opinion was that he was - but obviously, his new near-immortality was going to cause him to rapidly lose humanity, in the sense of normal human psychology.

As others have said, this is a call you're going to have to make for yourself.

Edit adds: Do we have a maximum tech level for FT, for example on the GURPS scale? Parts of my tech blur the line between TL12 and "higher". For example: Dyson Swarm, shipboard gravity manipulation, FTL, advanced biochem, advanced computing, neuro-computing interfaces, energy weapons, shields, etc etc.
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Postby Reliquary » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:53 pm

Tribea wrote:I was thinking of cybernetic implants(Cyber Knights RPG, in which i still think dataports are the most useful ones), and Cyber Knights RPG pointed something out: If you have changed the spinal cord and brainstem to the point of them connecting to the Global Matrix(sig for meaning) through machinez called Data Terminals, are you still human?


Define human.

If you mean an organism whose DNA corresponds to that of the species homo sapiens, then the parts of him that are still organic are human while the inorganic parts are not.

If you define a human as someone with the same general mental abilities and psychology as a member of the species homo sapiens, then it all depends on if the replacement brainstem was a mechanical copy with the same programming (be it in DNA or computer code) or if it was a completely new brainstem with new programming.

It all depends. Whatever is politically more appealing to the people in charge is probably what would be considered correct, at least for a few years before a civil rights movement starts to emerge. Then it is time for a game of hearts and minds.


My primary FT nation, the Panterran State, went through this philosophical issue. The advent of extreme biological modification had the issue that humanity thought it was icky, so artificial creatures composed of both human and animal DNA were created to get around that moral issue. It lasted a good 3 years before people began campaigning in mass numbers for the rights of these creatures and the term Panterran was invented specifically to get around the issue of whether or not they were human. All non-biological terms using human shifted to Panterran. Human rights to Panterran rights, Human resources to Panterran resources, the future of Humanity to the future of Panterran Life, ect. A few people whined about how it was 'political correctness gone mad', but besides that it resolved the whole 'What is a human?' issue quite well by reducing Human to nothing more than an alternate word for homo sapiens rather than a byword for people.

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Ularn
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Postby Ularn » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:15 pm

Regarding the Ship of Theseus conundrum, the human body replaces all of its cells every seven years or so; there is no single molecule in your body now which was also a part of you eight or ten years ago. Now, while I'll tell you I'm not the same person now 23 at as I was at 15 (I was an idiot at 15) I tend to mean that purely in terms of how I've developed psychologically. Both 15 and 23 year old Ularn are the same ship at different stages in their active commission.

On the other hand, that's only true where the cells (planks, w/e) are being replaced gradually bit by bit and there is continuity. If, on the other hand, I was killed, blown apart in a time where we had the technology to knit my constituent atoms back together the way they once were, with my memories intact, the question of continuity becomes a much hazier one for me. Even though the ship's made from the same planks does the fact that it was blown apart and killed mean that it no longer contains the same soul?
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Postby Abys » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:49 pm

I would like some advice on Future military tech, I recently posted this fact book page and wanted to know how viable it would be for Space warfare. If anyone has some other suggestion on military tech I would appreciate it I am dedicating most of my time to developing the culture and history right now so I haven't been putting much thought towards warfare.

Satellite Killers
The unmanned nature of most Ardourian space efforts extends to warfare in space as well. Satellite killers are small tube shaped space platforms that have collapsible panels, solar cells on one side radiators on the other. The Governments of Ardour deploy numerous types of SKs to launch offense and defend installation in space. Most SKs are designed so that Energy is absorbed by the solar cell half of their panels, the other half of the panel is a Radiator that sheds heat. Due to the already fragile nature of the SKs and the power of the smallest armament these panels are not drawn in during combat times unless stealth is a concern. All SKs contain within them a Tier two AI and operate closed off from the any networks. they receive commands in the form of cues which activate pre-made orders, this is to ensure enemies can't hack or otherwise access the SKs.

Deep Space Satellite killers

DSSKs are larger than the average SK, from one in of the main tube to the other they are 42m in length and their panels when fully extended are 78m across with a radius of 39m. The Larger DSSKs are intended for long term deployment at the fringes of space operation and as such are fitted with low maintenance equipment and use few consumable supplies. The front half of the DSSKs body is in fact a large Direct energy cannon that can fire at a rate of 1 shot lasting ten second per minute and draws its power from the DSSK battery. Unlike Normal SKs the DSSK is equipped with heat sinks and does retracts its panels during combat so as to hide in the bleakness of space.

Nearby Satellite Killers

NSK are the most common form of SK averaging 29m long with a panel span of 54m across they are well suited to operating in the cluttered orbits and lanes of occupied space. These are used as the average weapon of space warfare and are designed to work in close contact with space infrastructure. An average NSK can be deployed for four months before maintenance becomes a need but they only carry enough weapons for one engagement. The NSKs are missile platforms and hold anywhere from 16 t0 24 missiles depending on manufacture.

The weapon of choice for NSK are Kinetic energy missiles designed to smash other satellites to pieces with their force. The missile appears as a long shaft of dense material, such as tungsten although worries about reentry cause steel to be used as well, with a thruster/fuel tank on one end. Some models have an addition shaft attached to the "underside" and pushed out father so that it hits the target before the main shaft does, this additional shaft is equipped with a shaped charged that melts or rends armor off. Upon detonation though this lower shaft absorbs the equal force shoved back at it and breaks off so as to not slow or throw off the actual missile. some of the Kinetic missiles have an addition function, once they smash into the target a bomb, usually incendiaries or EMP, stored in their base goes off causing additional damage.
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