Drafting here. Still in the planning stages, but for those who need an excuse to get started, or who are interested but on the fence...
We can set this up with the stated intent of this being a slower-posting game, if that helps anyone.
CENTRAL CASTING: What I’m Looking For
These are suggestions only. If you’ve got something else in mind, by all means, go with that. But if you’re in need of ideas, or if you don’t know much about the setting or tone we’re shooting for, maybe this can serve as a source of guidance.
You’re probably human or something like it, but you might be some exceptionally strange alien being, or a human who had their body reconfigured into some strange alien being, or vice versa, or an animal, or an abstract artificial avatar. If you’re an android, you’re probably a compact, streamlined rhomboid or sphere about the size of a suitcase or a laptop, or possibly a missile small enough to fit comfortably in a human hand. If you lack conventional hands, you probably have the use of effector fields (or a protosentient drone companion with effector fields) that can pick up and manipulate anything a set of hands could and more.
You might be...
- ...an outsider- You’re not from the Culture. The world you come from might be a medieval backwater, a minor stellar empire fresh to the galactic stage, or a recently arrival to the Digital Age. You might be anyone or anything. You might have lived your whole life hearing the legends of the Culture, or you might have never heard of them at all before now. You might dismiss them out of hand as a lot of limp-wristed hedonists, or you might wistfully dream of one day being one of them. You could be a determined ambassador, an enemy soldier or saboteur from a hostile foreign power, or a mere bystander, but the one thing you’re not is...
- ...a citizen of the Culture- Imagine being able to dedicate your life-- at least 300 years, barring accidents-- to becoming an expert or connoisseur in anything, or as many anythings, as you so chose. Set your own pace, and along the way, attend endless parties or concertos, symposiums of like-minded individuals or thrill-seeking excursions to distant worlds. Travel the galaxy or settle in perfect seclusion. Partake of all the galaxy has to offer, or if that sounds too overwhelming, dangerous, or difficult, there’s always VR and drugs. Of course, for those seeking greater purpose, there’s always the possibility of becoming a...
- ...a Contact diplomat- Contact seeks to demonstrate-- subtly-- that the Culture’s way is best. To that end, they frequently bargain with less advanced civilizations, offering technology in exchange for concessions along the lines of extending basic rights to all intelligent beings, or curtailing war and genocide. It’s a job that requires a light touch, especially when dealing with other high-level Involved-- those civilizations whose technological level is roughly on par with the Culture’s own. Contact tends to very good at its job, but when diplomacy fails, when direct intervention is necessary, the next steps fall to...
- ...an agent of Special Circumstances- Rarely identifiable to outsiders except by rumour and hearsay, SC is the left hand of the Culture, those willing to do the things the rest of the Culture would condemn out of hand if they knew, willing to kill for peace and steer the course of less-developed civilizations. They might rig an election or assassinate a king, they equip enemy combatants and they frequently tap non-Culture assets to act as well-paid mercenaries or unknowing catspaws. They themselves are most often armed with the latest, deadliest, and most sophisticated weapons and modifications a galactic superpower like the Culture is capable of crafting. Frightening as all this might sound, thankfully they make relatively few mistakes, largely owing to the oversight of...
- ...a Mind- Machine intelligences whose calculations occur in hyperspace at [z]illions of times the speed of human thought, the Minds are the not-so-secret weapon of the Culture. For those younger civilizations that fear the dominance of AIs over their creators, the Minds provide the counterpoint. Able to create almost any physical thing out of wholecloth, and to imagine in enormous detail nearly anything else, to the Minds, the Culture’s greatest commodity is its people. Ordinary inhabitants of the Culture are its greatest accomplishment, and symbolic of what they protect and everything they hope to achieve. Everyone in the Culture, whether or not they mean to or try to be, is an ambassador and missionary. Minds often walk among their people, using person-shaped avatars-- which may be drones or more human-like androids. These avatars are connected to the Minds that created them, but function to some extent independently, with their perceptions and intelligence greatly limited by their more compact form.
It would be very interesting but probably highly troublesome to see someone play a Mind-- at least any Mind large enough to qualify. Most likely I’ll reserve that case for someone who knows the Culture very well, and is willing to play a character with a fair amount of restrictions built-in...so to speak.
If you play a drone that’s really the avatar of something up to the size of a small-ish ship used by the party, I’d probably be open to that.
HOUSE RULES: An Open Question
So it’s a little early to be hacking the game, but there are just some things where it’s going to be necessary to capture the feel I’m looking for. I’m going to try and make them as simple and painless as possible. Suggestions are welcome.
There (probably) aren't any psychic powers in this universe, but the ability to manipulate matter and energy fields with pinpoint accuracy at planetary distances amounts to much the same thing. Androids and other machines can take the equivalent of psychic powers in this setting, and in fact are much more likely to have such abilities than meat-creatures. They use their LOG instead of PSI for these abilities. Organic beings can use LOG or LUCK when deploying these powers.
Characters in the Culture (or any other high-level Involved, really) have many advantages. If you’re a biological being from a sufficiently advanced civilization, you can have either or both (or neither, if you'd rather) of the following traits. If you’re a machine, you can only have the latter, although if you have the latter you could potentially have your personality sleeved into a biological body thus attaining access to the former and vice-versa and oh dear I’ve gone cross-eyed.
You can change your character's trait to any other that you qualify for over the course of 1d6+1 minutes. Once you do so, you cannot do so again for 2d6 hours. You can also change your character's sex over 1d6+1 weeks, function for much longer without food, drink, or sleep than a baseline human, and impel your glands to secrete a variety of chemicals, including recreational drugs, stimulants, various medications and antitoxins, and others, all nonaddictive and free of side effects.
Your reaction times are many times those of an unmodified human, and your consciousness can be uploaded at the moment of your death, to be later resleeved into a new body-- which, at your option, can be biologically identical to your old one. You have constant and extensive access to information as you require. In theory, the only limits are those of personal privacy, and anything not yet known by the Culture-- or simply kept secret, for example by Special Circumstances, and even just regular old Contact.