Brainstorming a “Kitchen Sink“ Sci-Fi campaign

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I’m leaning more towards a pharmaceutical psi inhibitor rather than designating some material or energy field.

An anti-psi field or material begs the question of tech level in the former and the ubiquity in the latter, each of which can be VERY problematic.

By going with a pharmaceutical psI-neutralizer, you can have a variety of delivery systems- food & drink*, injectables (including dart guns), inhalants (like a restaurant’s patio misting system), slow release pills, etc.- from carefully monitored labs to back alley street chemists.

It also allows for pharmaceutical countermeasures that might delay or weaken the psi-neutralizers. Maybe even something analogous to Narcan.

It also allows for varying efficacy across species AND supports plotlines of Psions who take the drugs voluntarily because they can’t control their powers. An uncontrolled telepath who can’t stop hearing voices even with antipsychotics would welcome the silence an anti-Psionic pill could bring. Or imagine the relief an elixir could bring to an uncontrolled teke who is constantly creating poltergeist like events under stress.





* remember, Psions need to eat a lot
 
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Nobby-W

Far more clumsy and random than a blaster
I do wonder about the point of portals. Mechanically, they define certain routes that can be taken, so you can control sandbox movement. From that perspective, it helps with the logistics of a sandbox. If you have a galactic empire with ships that can warp anywhere then you have a logistics problem in your game if you want to run a sandbox.

However, they are not easy to reconcile with any sort of back routes around the universe. Anybody controlling a portal can control who comes in and out. It makes for more of a choke point than one might want. You could have hyper-drive equipped ships that don't need portals as you've alluded to earlier as a way around it but he who owns the portal has pretty much final say over who can go through it.

A happy medium might be the shoals of the Collapsing universe or the warp navigation of the Honor-Verse. This sort of thing would have naturally occurring points that allow transit into hyperspace, but potentially multiple points in a system. You might require psi-aware navigators to avoid crashing into (say) ship-crushing gravity gradients.

These transit points could be predictable, and some could be transient, allowing people with the means to predict them (perhaps psionic in nature) to use them to take back routes around the universe. Some regions could be periodically locked off due to the lack of an exit point.
 

MGibster

Legend
Depends on the society. Some will lionize them. Some will treat them like any other natural gift. Some will enslave them.

...some will mark them for death and hunt them down.

But in all cases that's an institution created to control psions for the benefit of someone. I'm using institution here like I would from high school sociology. An institution is just a pattern of social behavior designed to meet the needs of society. If psions were an accepted part of human life we'd have institutions put into place to keep the status quo. i.e. There would be some mechanism to keep psions under control just as there are for the rest of us.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Even ignoring the time travel elements, Doctor Who is a wealth of great monster ideas. Daleks, cybermen, silurians, zygons, ice warriors, weeping angels, sea devils, the silence, sontarans, just to name a few.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I'm using institution here like I would from high school sociology. An institution is just a pattern of social behavior designed to meet the needs of society.
Five major institutions in sociology are political, educational, economic, family and religion.

I’m not so sure fandom or fear quite meet the definition. Simply seeing psions as part of the natural spectrum of a species’ abilities really isn’t, IMHO.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
How do the portals get their information?
Implied in their relationship with the KoO, some at least will have a channel of direct communications with other species.

Beyond that?

They definitely have their own sensors, simply because they’d need them to function. Individuals don’t survive millions of years without being aware of their surroundings and being able to react in some way.

With time the portals will form opinions on the nature of what’s around them, even if it’s just threat assessments ranging from “Mostly Harmless” to “Existential Threat”.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I would be tempted to treat portals more like 16th century ship's rutters than modern maps, as far as how 'mapped' they are. The main ones are mapped, but different people may know about different alternate routes and specific portals. There's a ton of good reasons to keep a portal from becoming common knowledge if you can.
 

MGibster

Legend
Five major institutions in sociology are political, educational, economic, family and religion.

I’m not so sure fandom or fear quite meet the definition. Simply seeing psions as part of the natural spectrum of a species’ abilities really isn’t, IMHO.

In a setting where psions were a fact of life, all five of those major institutions would likely deal with them in some way.

Politics: There would almost certainly be laws regarding the use of psionic abilities. Are psions regular citizens, wards of society, or outlaws?

Educational: Are the nascent abilities of young psions recognized and fostered by society or are they repressed? What does society teach people about psions?

Economic: How do they fit into the economy? Do we have a bunch of clairvoyant individuals forecast this year's corn crop? Do psychic surgeons remove cancers in minutes that medical technology cannot cure? How does gambling in Vegas work when you have gamblers who can predict the future, read minds, or use telekinesis to affect the roulette wheel?

Family: Do psions marry other psions? How does a family of normies deal with a petulant 4 year old that can light things on fire with their mind? Are psion children taken from their families making them wards of the state?

Religion: Are psions blessed? Cursed? Or are they just the same as everyone else they just have different abilities as we are all equal in the eyes of God? What does religion tell us about psions?
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
@MGibster

I’m not saying a given civilization’s institutions wouldn’t have rules or guidelines dealing with psions. I’m saying the reactions I listed are not inherently or exclusively institutional.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Some thoughts on The Orbs, the other AI race describes so far.

1) Individual Orbs are extremely tough, with a stealthy, insulated metallic shell. They fully capable of independent, interplanetary space flight. However, because of their small size*, none are inherently capable of supporting an integrated hyperdrive. In fact, because they already had the capacity for interplanetary flight, they were actually slow to develop hyperdrive theory, and still have very few ships of any kind, including/especially hyperdrive capable ones. This meant their civilization uses the portals as their primary interstellar transport for all purposes. Most Orb ships are operated by their government.

2) Most other species are not even aware of the Orbs’ starships at all, thinking them a “client race” dependent on others. This also means few know where their home actually is. They don’t actually conceal this information like the Knights of Orion, but neither do they broadcast it.

3) their primary alternatives to portal use are actually booking passage or becoming crew on the ships of other species. Some have been known to become stowaways as well.

4) Orbs manipulate the environment by a combination of telescoping appendages and short range tractor/repulsor emitters. An Orb’s array of tools is chosen by the Orb itself,- there is no standard- and may change over time.

5) As was suggested upthread, while they do not have a true hivemind, they CAN network when close together, increasing their processing power. They leveraged this fact into increasing their demand in STEM fields and tech-intensive crew positions on starships of other species.




* haven’t decided yet, but I’m thinking somewhere between baseball and beach ball size.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Other races:

1) ”Thredd”: evolved on a high-gravity world with a metallic biology. They resemble an extra-large wound guitar string, cable or metallic worm several meters long, hence their nickname. But those that spend a lot of time among other species will coil themselves into shapes mimicking those others. Their biology makes them physically very strong, but also more vulnerable to thermal shock and electrical damage. They speak to other species by vibrating their bodies, resulting in a monotone, robotic voice. They are a client race discovered during the middle of their Industrial Age, and possess no ships of their own.

2) “The Spore”- a zombie mold-like species that “got lucky” when they were encountered by members of a curious but naive species just beginning to explore their star system, and with whom they were more compatible than those in their own ecosystem. The afflicted retained their intelligence, but were dominated by the parasite. Over the course of a few centuries, The Spore wiped out any independent members of that species...and all other life in that species’ homeworld. Civilization collapsed.

But over ensuing millennia, the parasitic relationship became symbiotic, and The Spore began to explore space again. Unfortunately, their method of reproduction hasn’t changed, and their zombifying spores are dangerous to many forms of life. As such, they are not welcome most place. Most encounters between The Spore and other species are done separated by space- usually on their respective ships. When closer contact is unavoidable, The Spore, the members of the other species, or both will wear environmental hazard encounter suits. Spore encountered without such suits are often hunted down and destroyed by fire or acid. Some species, taking no chances, will also destroy locations they have been..and those who have been near them. So far, no species has actually nuked a Spore outbreak from orbit, but it has been suggested by some humans.
 
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MarkB

Legend
I do wonder about the point of portals. Mechanically, they define certain routes that can be taken, so you can control sandbox movement. From that perspective, it helps with the logistics of a sandbox. If you have a galactic empire with ships that can warp anywhere then you have a logistics problem in your game if you want to run a sandbox.

However, they are not easy to reconcile with any sort of back routes around the universe. Anybody controlling a portal can control who comes in and out. It makes for more of a choke point than one might want. You could have hyper-drive equipped ships that don't need portals as you've alluded to earlier as a way around it but he who owns the portal has pretty much final say over who can go through it.

A happy medium might be the shoals of the Collapsing universe or the warp navigation of the Honor-Verse. This sort of thing would have naturally occurring points that allow transit into hyperspace, but potentially multiple points in a system. You might require psi-aware navigators to avoid crashing into (say) ship-crushing gravity gradients.

These transit points could be predictable, and some could be transient, allowing people with the means to predict them (perhaps psionic in nature) to use them to take back routes around the universe. Some regions could be periodically locked off due to the lack of an exit point.
The Freelancer PC game had this, with established and highly-regulated warp gates between systems, but also poorly-mapped and unstable natural wormholes, usually in out-of-the-way places. The wormholes were dangerous to use, being inherently unstable, and could spend long periods being 'out of phase' and thus impossible to traverse. Criminal organisations tended to use them, and in some cases would establish bases or outposts around them in order to secure their routes.
 

What kind of elements do you think would be good to yoink from Sci-Fi movies, TV shows, comics or stories & novels?

Rule by evil space wizards I think is a good trope. As seen in Star Wars (Emperor Palpatine), Warhammer 40000 (The Emperor), and Dune (Leto II, althugh IIRC he was more amoral and machiavellien than outright evil). Though I'm thinking maybe shake it up by having multiple evil empires that are at war with each other.

(This would also work for a 4x computer game. Why has nobody ever combined Master of Orion with Master of Magic?)
 

aramis erak

Legend
Rule by evil space wizards I think is a good trope. As seen in Star Wars (Emperor Palpatine), Warhammer 40000 (The Emperor), and Dune (Leto II, althugh IIRC he was more amoral and machiavellien than outright evil). Though I'm thinking maybe shake it up by having multiple evil empires that are at war with each other.

(This would also work for a 4x computer game. Why has nobody ever combined Master of Orion with Master of Magic?)
Leto II really isn't even amoral - he's got a goal of breaking humanity free from the potential for tyranny by the BG and/or Guild via prescience. And he's realized he and his relatives are wildcards invisible to prescience.
His "Golden Path" is very moral, given the goal, and he sticks to that path to save humanity from Spice, and Spice from Humanity. Siona manages to complete the later goal by telepathic rapport with the new breed worm. WHich said new breed is result of Leto II merging with the worms. We see worms being spread. And we see Atreides descendants being immune to prescience. And the new worms, as well...

... Prescience immune worms allows breaking the Arrakis monopoly, a monopoly which the guild wants maintained so that the guild can maintain its monopoly on providing transport. A monopoly that is broken in Sandworms... between no-ships with atreides descendants, and with worms descended from Leto II, and the computed drives in those no-ships...
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I’m not sure I have any real “space wizards“ in mind. I mean, the Knights of Orion have as much in common with Paladins, Green Lanterns and Manhunters as they do Jedi. They don’t want to rule, they just want to keep things fair and civilized.

And Psions aren’t really organized into one group. I’m sure there are organizations predominantly or entirely made up of Psions, but they will vary from civili to civilization. It’s possible that one or more of the galactic or client civilizations is ruled by Psions. But even that is a bit of a stretch given how I’ve defined psions thus far.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Hmmm...upon further reflection, The Spore could be a sentient bioweapon, and as such, either now free from its creators (lots of potential reasons why) or still doing their creators’ bidding. Said creators could easily serve the role of secret manipulators meddling in the affairs of other species.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Hmmm...upon further reflection, The Spore could be a sentient bioweapon, and as such, either now free from its creators (lots of potential reasons why) or still doing their creators’ bidding. Said creators could easily serve the role of secret manipulators meddling in the affairs of other species.
Kinda like that crystal thing from the Expanse? Or even the infection thing from season two of Altered Carbon.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Kinda like that crystal thing from the Expanse? Or even the infection thing from season two of Altered Carbon.
The original inspiration were things like RW zombie fungus, the Crynoids from Dr. Who (“Seeds of a Doom”) and that silicon-based parasite in X-Files “Firewalker”, but I suppose it’s also a bit like the Expanse, from what aired on SyFy. (Never saw the other show.)
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I like the zombie fungus idea a lot. The fact that it's RW adds some depth, plus there's some available info on it to help explain and whatnot. There's a zombie fungus in Swords of the Serpentine that people catch by drinking contaminated water and which turns them into part of a hive mind.
 

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