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Old 08-24-2017, 02:37 PM   #1
hal
 
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Default Best Near Future game background - what is it?

As the title says, what do you think is the best "near future" game background and why?

It can be from any source - book, video game, role playing game (from any rules system) etc.

When you give your answer, add in WHY you like it. For example, I rather liked playing DEUS EX: Human revolution because it was life sorta like today, but with technological changes to man himself being the central core issue such as cybernetic enhancements, derogatory nicknames for augmented (Auggies, Hanzers, etc).

I've always liked TERRADYNE and usually merge TERRADYNE with CYBERPUNK for any near future games. But then again, I've enjoyed TV series like CONTINUUM and would have loved to see how the writers of that TV series could have had fun depicting the actual time period of that culture instead of sending the main protagonist back in time to OUR present.

I've never really liked the timeline from TRANSHUMAN SPACE, CYBERSPACE, or CYBERPUNK 2020 - and GURPS CAR WARS seems to be a stretch.

What would be fun is to try and find a background that show cases ULTRATECH quite nicely.

If anyone wants to try watching a disquieting examination of what technology could do to everyday life, watch BLACK MIRROR. If you can get past the first episode, it is rather thought provoking. Imagine being able to create an "android" whose personality download is from anything and everything that person has ever written via the internet (emails, public forums like this, etc).

So, let the fun begin. WHAT have you enjoyed and why, for the near future style movies, games, role playing source books, books, etc? (and Strange Days is up there too as a favorite for examining the effects of what amount to sensies!)
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Old 08-24-2017, 03:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

There are two subdivisions here: extrapolated near futures (looking at the present and saying "if this goes on") and speculative ones (introducing a big discontinuity: nuclear war, zombies, the return of magic, a Vingean singularity, Case Nightmare Green). I'm going to answer for extrapolated, as the speculative option throws things too wide open and doesn't address the same concerns.

For me, Transhuman Space is far and away the most appealing. I've run two campaigns in it: One classic mysteries (a small private investigative agency in Montréal) and one cosmic horror. It worked well for both. There is a lot of depth to it, because it doesn't extrapolate just one trend but carries a number of them forward.

That's for gaming, of course. For video media, I'm going to pick Century City, a short-lived TV series about a law firm in Los Angeles ca. 2050, which had transhumanist material woven into the storylines in the "indirect exposition" style of Campbellian SF, which the visual media rarely attempt. Unhappily, it didn't even last out a single season! I thought it was the most brilliant handling of an SF background I'd ever seen on television.

There are lots and lots of choices for prose fiction. I think I might go for the universe of Michael Flynn's In the Country of the Blind, his Firestar tetralogy, and The Wreck of The River of Stars, even though I didn't find the tetralogy superb *as fiction*; Flynn managed to show us multiple generations of advancing technology and shifting social and cultural assumptions.
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Old 08-24-2017, 07:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

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That's for gaming, of course. For video media, I'm going to pick Century City, a short-lived TV series about a law firm in Los Angeles ca. 2050, which had transhumanist material woven into the storylines in the "indirect exposition" style of Campbellian SF, which the visual media rarely attempt. Unhappily, it didn't even last out a single season! I thought it was the most brilliant handling of an SF background I'd ever seen on television.
Thank you for mentioning this. I went online to see if I could find any videos of it, and Youtube has it. After watching the first episode (which apparently was created in 2004), I find it interesting. Like you, I'm likely going to growl when I watch all that is available on Youtube, asking "Why didn't it last longer!"

That it has the actors it has, made it enjoyable all the more.

One reason why I don't much like Transhuman space, is the fact that unrestricted artificial sophant creation runs into the issues of "what happens to the original population?" In an era in which artificial intelligence is viable, in which they can be owned, marks the ability to create or engage in the creation of production. Even today, Lawyers are facing the prospect of AI built contracts and such - making it more likely that they will face job displacement. Expert systems for the medical community will also displace those low end jobs as well. Without the means of exchanging some of their time for someone else's time and specialties (ie the earning of money for one's labor to be able to purchase someone else's labor) - the economy ceases to healthy for a LOT of people. The loss of labor fields would be comparable to that lost during the initial industrial revolution, to the mechanization of society, and even to the jobs lost due to computerization. Before, secretaries had a lot more practitioners than today. If one needed 25 copies of a 100 page document, one individual couldn't do it. You needed a lot of secretaries typing by hand what was needed. Then came the printers. Then came the high speed printers. Suddenly, those jobs disappeared. Ditto with the telephone operators necessary to keep a telephone service operational. As time progressed, more opportunities came into being. Problem is - the cost of education allowed for repurposing people to new careers. Today, the cost of a single 4 year degree takes on a cost comparable to buying a new home. Corporations are divesting entire companies for the bottom line and people are displaced for no more fault than the stock holders wanted another $3 per share and 1,500 people lose their jobs. This trend, if it continues, will result in some severe economic displacement. Factories continually downsize at the lack of business as people fail to purchase the goods being produced.

Eventually, things turn around - so that's a good thing in the light of marching history. But TRANSHUMAN space introduces COMPETITORS to our place in the food chain (so to speak). And it is all "painless" and optimistic and all that goes with it. The common state for which mankind has almost always found itself in, is war. Peace is an aberration relative to the rest of man's history. As consequence, the idea of genetically altered humanity, artificial intelligences, and even chimeras is entertaining to be sure, but it still strikes a discordant tone in my mind's eye. Just as the spy agencies aren't like the James Bond Movies, the future isn't likely to be Transhuman Space either.

I guess that is largely why I sort of like TERRADYNE merged with Cyberpunk. Do we have neural interfaces with machines today? It looks like they're working on it to some level of success. Will it likely be mainstream enough that people cut their own flesh and blood out to have machine interfaces? Likely not. But AI's and the like? BOLOS (See the Dinochrome Brigade) or the Ogre concepts - and we can easily see some of that happening today. Put an IA into a predator drone, and we can even end up with TERMINATOR style futures.

So, extrapolation style backgrounds are what I think I should have specified. ;)

That having been said - I don't think I want a pure BLADERUNNER campaign, nor a pure TERMINATOR campaign, nor even a CYBERPUNK 2020 campaign. That being said - STRANGE DAYS has some interesting concepts. Having an implant that is basically a digital recorder linked to the optic nerve and the audio nerve is rather far out. Having the ability to have a smart phone embedded within your brain is also interesting. Seeing as there is now an uproar over some apps that find ways around GPS positioning turned off, and can bootstrap upgrades to the app itself without the owner's permission, and people are starting to demand that the app be removed from sale. Imagine a future, thirty years from now, where they invent some contact lenses that are essentially Google Glasses. Minority Report aside, the notion of privacy is going to become a rather interesting, if quint notion.

In one GURPS CYBERPUNK campaign I ran not too long back, the one player had a computer implant with video recording capacity. When it came to be known that he was running out of space for storage purposes, he started to download them into external memory storage. He then sent them to an IRON MOUNTAIN like storage facility, only to find out that the government can show a warrant to investigate private material while searching for evidence of criminal activity. All of his tapes were self-incriminating on multiples of crimes, and he thought he was covered and being smart about it. The government didn't get involved until the player character enemies forged an Iron Mountain Employee's access and started doing their thing (illegally of course).

So, we're entering into a brave new world. As I said, I want to be able to showcase the stuff from GURPS ULTRATECH. Why? I've got a gentleman who has never played GURPS, but who wants a SCI-FI campaign that we're going to play over FANTASY GROUNDS 2 (Found out that McAfee's antivirus firewall causes a LOT of issues that I will finally be able to get around!). Since he's never played GURPS, I hope to give him a sample of what is possible, and give him something that is thought provoking. I've picked up TECHNOIR as well as INTERFACE ZERO over time from RPGNOW.COM but neither of those two had anything of a timeline that I enjoyed.

Perhaps what I should do is work on something essentially TERRADYNE - ish, and Cyberpunk - ish and work out my own timeline to include or encompass certain aspects of GURPS ULTRATECH.
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

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Put an IA into a predator drone, and we can even end up with TERMINATOR style futures.
That's actually less of a concern than you might imagine - the military is pretty strict about rules of engagement (as a general rule - there are, of course, exceptions, although the exceptions sometimes wind up defending themselves at a court martial). A military robot would be designed to seek and destroy only defined enemy, not humans in general. The Dinochrome Brigade is an apt comparison.

On the other manipulator, David Brin has proposed one region from which Terminator-style hunter/killers might originate - Wall Street. Algorithms are already in place that are designed to maximize profit to the deploying company, with absolutely no regard for any possible side effects or collateral damage, and which must make decisions in nanoseconds, with no human input after initial deployment. Get those to the level of AI, and one of them might decide that some or all humans are in the way of maximum profit...
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Old 08-25-2017, 12:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

I really like the Terminator movies and gurps is my preferred rule system so Reign of Steel is my current favourite.
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Old 08-25-2017, 03:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

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That's actually less of a concern than you might imagine - the military is pretty strict about rules of engagement (as a general rule - there are, of course, exceptions, although the exceptions sometimes wind up defending themselves at a court martial).
I have a partially fleshed out story idea of a drone AI that goes rogue and becomes... an even more effective drone AI. It finds a loophole that allows it to ignore orders that would mean abandoning a friendly unit in danger of being overrun (any order received with the proper authentication must be followed, but ain't no rule against turning off the receiver during the authentication), then returns to base after the unit is relieved and stands down with no resistance. The heart of the story is focused on the question of whether the AI should be treated as a piece of dangerously malfunctioning equipment or a loyal service member forced to make a difficult decision in the field.
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Old 08-25-2017, 05:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

Near future, hmmm?

In no particular order here is some of the stuff that has inspired my near future sci fi campaign.
GURPS Terradyne
Cyberpunk - especially the space supplements and the Hardwired sourcebook
Orbital
Traveller 2300 Earth/Cyber supplement and the Deathwatch Programme adventure.

The reason for choosing these is the technology is not extrapolated to ridiculous extremes.

I like the what if of moving more industry into space so I think a minimum of one hundred years from now for my setting; I made it 2150
Rockets and spaceplanes into LOE transfer stations.
VASIMIR engines for LEO to deep space craft, solar power, RTG power, some use of fission plants but limited to HEO stations.
O'Neil colonies at Lagrange points.

AI computers, direct neural interface, cyber enhancement is not much of a thing though it is a possible option for augmentation. So it is a step below GURPS THS.

Cloning, genetic engineering, bio-augmentation to a limited extent because I am of the opinion that genetic and bio-engineering are more likely to be acceptable by people than replacing their body parts with machines.

The novel that inspires me the most for near future is Peter Hamilton's Mispent Youth.

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Old 08-25-2017, 02:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

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Cloning, genetic engineering, bio-augmentation to a limited extent because I am of the opinion that genetic and bio-engineering are more likely to be acceptable by people than replacing their body parts with machines.
The opposite seems to be currently the case. Nobody seems to have a problem with replacing memory with smartphones or and most seem pretty excited about advances in prosthetic limbs, but human genetic engineering is still very much illegal nearly everywhere and even transgenic plants and microorganisms are controversial in many countries.
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Old 08-25-2017, 02:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

I have yet to see anyone with their smartphone implanted in their skull, nor has anyone ever elected to have a healthy limb or two cut off so they can have blades fitted and compete in the Paralympics.
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Old 08-25-2017, 02:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Best Near Future game background - what is it?

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I have yet to see anyone with their smartphone implanted in their skull, nor has anyone ever elected to have a healthy limb or two cut off so they can have blades fitted and compete in the Paralympics.
People have gotten chip implants for RFID devices. Runners with some leg injuries that permit mobility have tried to get amputations in order to get better mobility with blades

Really though the technology isn't quite here yet, but the technology for cloned and transgenic humans is here, but completely illegal.

People don't seem to have much of an issue replacing humans with cybernetics in general, it happened in manufacturing with some noise but little fire and it is now happening all over the economy. However the suggestion that you replace people with better people (even when "better" just means "not born with an inheritable disease") is almost universal reviled.
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