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Old 08-11-2016, 02:20 AM   #6
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Default Re: GURB- The Generic Unoriginal Roleplaying Blog

Originally Posted by The_Ryujin View Post
I got an idea to do an article that expands on the ideas I laid out on using modifiers to add character to weapons to also add character to the setting. Basically come up a couple of corporations, think about the type of weapons they'd design and come of with a list of modifiers that they would give the weapons they build. Basically, Macrotech makes baseline weapons with no modifiers, Fortschritt Corp makes rugged and reliable weapon that cost a bunch but are liked by SWAT and spec ops, Oosthuizen Ldt makes advanced but less reliable tech and so on.
One thing I think is often overlooked is how important a good, cohesive technological infrastructure is. Sci-fi is often about exploration of science and engineering, which means that exploring a civilizations infrastructure and technology is just as important as discussing the meaning of sapience and what a diamond planet might look like.

Cyberpunk, for example, is often at least partially an exploration of the implication of particular technologies and networking designs. But you can expand that concept to other elements. For example, Star Craft contains within it an exploration of three technological infrastructures: the hard materials engineering and electronics of the Terrans, the advanced physics of the Protoss, and the bioengineering of the Zerg. Another example of that sort of exploration is historical treatises on the technologies of WW2, from the rugged "good enough" design of the American warmachine to the cheap mass-production of the Russian warmachine, to the over-engineered precision of the German warmachine to the minimalism of the Japanese warmachine.

Often, RPGs turn on presenting interesting opponents. An obvious example of this is Dungeon Fantasy, where Orcs present a fundamentally different tactical challenge than the undead. Why would the same not be true of sci-fi (or Action)? The typical terrorist force, like ISIS and the Taliban, is driven by a doctrine of expendable, low-cost soldiers with low-cost equipment that need to be good at taking out high cost, highly trained opponents. This shapes how they're equipped, and how they train. But contrast this with, say, Chinese or Russian equipment, which can afford to be a lot more expensive, is grounded in a different logistical train (A lot of Chinese stuff are deliberate rip-offs of American technology, creating a weird, fun-house mirror of American technology, while Russians seem interested in "doing their own thing" and finding different niches in the arms market), which means they train differently, which means they fight differently.

A Sci-fi setting can afford to turn this sort of thing up to 11, since you're in control of how technology is depicted. I've definitely done this in Psi-Wars (It'll come up later), where Imperial Forces use a different sort of equipment and fight with a different theory than Alliance Forces. But it's something I'd like to explore more completely. I have two back-burnered projects, Cyberscape and Echoes in the Dark, which explore this concept. The first is straight-up cyberpunk, so corporations build not just your physical hardware (guns, computers), but the geography of the internet, as well as powering the services of the internet. Technological infrastructure becomes the "second world" that the hackers get to explore. Echoes in the Dark is a post-apocalyptic space-setting, where you're digging through the ruins of a human civilization, trying to cobble together enough repairs to get home. This is an even grittier exploration of infrastructure as it'll get down into THIS faction built THESE components and parts which have these benefits, while that one built THOSE components, which have those benefits. And so you'll end up scavenging a Russian engine for the ruggedness with an American power-supply for the ruggedness and then use Chinese interfacing between the two to try to compensate for the problems that the combination gives rise to.

So, I definitely support this line of thinking. I think it's vital to a good sci-fi setting, and not something I see discussed enough.
My Blog: Mailanka's Musing. Currently Playing: Psi-Wars, a step-by-step exploration of building your own Space Opera setting, inspired by Star Wars.
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