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Old 04-10-2010, 02:12 AM   #21
jeff_wilson
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert View Post
- As of 2100, SAIs are still fairly rare. But as both hardware and software continue to get cheaper, it is possible (even likely) that eventually SAIs are going to be the majority of sapients in the Solar System.
I'm not sure this can happen. Xoxing SAIs is verboten, and training up skills and IQ for a new SAI is too expensive an undertaking for most jobs a biosapient could do. Since there is no Singularity, there is no reliable growth in demand for superhuman intelligence that would make it profitable to train them to higher than human IQ, if possible.

I would think that most jobs that require full sapience any of the time don't require it all of the time, so that you'll end up with gangs of xoxable LAIS and Shadows bossed by SAIs and Ghosts to leverage that expensive infosapience as widely as possible.
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Old 04-10-2010, 05:48 AM   #22
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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I'm not sure this can happen. Xoxing SAIs is verboten, and training up skills and IQ for a new SAI is too expensive an undertaking for most jobs a biosapient could do.
What makes you think that training SAIs won't get cheaper, too?
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Old 04-10-2010, 05:53 AM   #23
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

It's hard to make a game of something that is generally considered to be moving in the "right" direction, and the problems of SAIs in the EU are pretty minor compared to the rest of the world. If you're going to run a campaign focused on such things, wouldn't you set it somewhere with a more fragile situation?

A point of conflict that jumped out at me for the EU is the issue of immigrants, specifically bioroids. They're a population that dramatically stick out, likely have a much improved life from where they're from, and yet still aren't treated like everyone else. Seems like there should be some easy parallels to modern day beliefs and conflicts there.

Other than that suggestion, since the EU (and specifically Germany) is noted as being so progressive and stable, you'll have problems generating plots where the PCs are fighting the power (unless your players really REALLY think pan-sapient rights are wrong), so antagonism will largely come from elements outside of the mainstream. With that in mind, it'd be most helpful to create antagonists like terrorists and radical ideologies, and provide information about the rules and regulations for working with German law enforcement.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:26 AM   #24
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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There's a handy table on p. 127 that neatly summarizes factions' and nations' attitude toward post-human intelligence.
This is, in fact, probably the single most important thing in the book - it defines the shape of the setting far more than anything else.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:28 AM   #25
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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It's hard to make a game of something that is generally considered to be moving in the "right" direction, and the problems of SAIs in the EU are pretty minor compared to the rest of the world. If you're going to run a campaign focused on such things, wouldn't you set it somewhere with a more fragile situation?
What makes you think there aren't plenty of people and organizations who want to turn the situation in Germany (and the EU as a whole) into a fragile situation?

In Transhuman Space, there is an entire class of beings which are treated as animals or property in most regions. The EU is the only major faction which doesn't do that and in fact gives them the rights of citizens. This is a clear and direct challenge to the very foundations of other societies elsewhere. In other times and places, such a situation has led to war between different factions. In this era, this might very well lead to the most vicious memetic warfare imaginable. The other factions need to prove to their societies that the European path is wrong, or else they will have trouble justifying their own approaches in the long run. Even the societies with strong media filters (i.e. China) will have trouble keeping the success stories of Europe out, and the societies without them will have even greater problems, as information moves around the globe at an ever faster pace.

Think of the American Culture Wars, only magnified by more than one order of magnitude and played out on a global scale. Such a campaign might be based in Germany and be focused on Germany - but it will have to think about issues on a global scale.

And high-stakes geopolitics and global memetic warfare should be interesting subjects for a campaign, shouldn't they?

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A point of conflict that jumped out at me for the EU is the issue of immigrants, specifically bioroids. They're a population that dramatically stick out, likely have a much improved life from where they're from, and yet still aren't treated like everyone else. Seems like there should be some easy parallels to modern day beliefs and conflicts there.
Certainly, and I do plan to give this ample treatment - though ultimately, the future of SAIs is likely to be the larger issue. Personally, I see bioroids as something of an evolutionary dead end - sooner or later, they will likely be largely replaced by cyber- and bioshells with the right AIs.

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Other than that suggestion, since the EU (and specifically Germany) is noted as being so progressive and stable, you'll have problems generating plots where the PCs are fighting the power (unless your players really REALLY think pan-sapient rights are wrong), so antagonism will largely come from elements outside of the mainstream.
If the PCs are in favor of SAI rights - especially if a citizen SAI is among their number - they might end up fighting the whole rest of the world, or at least a very powerful organization which is against giving SAIs rights.

Think about it: PCs tend to be involved in extraordinary and often spectacular situations. And given the ubiquitous surveillance of the setting, it is very likely that they will attract significant media attention at some point.

Now, how easy do you think would it be to portray the PCs involved badly in the media? Skilled memeticists with an agenda are just waiting for an opportunity like this, and if there is any opportunity to show that a prominent citizen SAIs are dangerous and out-of-control, they will. Thus, the PCs might get involved in the global memetic war over pansapient rights whether they want it or not.

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With that in mind, it'd be most helpful to create antagonists like terrorists and radical ideologies, and provide information about the rules and regulations for working with German law enforcement.
I'm not sure that's the best approach to take. In fact, my main aim is to show how campaigns can work if they don't involve lots of violence, since that's the kind of campaign many gamers seem to have the most difficulty with.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:57 AM   #26
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I'm not sure that's the best approach to take. In fact, my main aim is to show how campaigns can work if they don't involve lots of violence, since that's the kind of campaign many gamers seem to have the most difficulty with.
There are bits of that going on in Transhuman Mysteries, at least in that many of its plot and campaign types need not involve overt violence at all. My first THS campaign, which informs it in a major way, had only a couple of violent incidents in three years of monthly sessions.

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Old 04-10-2010, 11:48 AM   #27
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

Hmmm, well. There are other possibilities in which SAIs and their development could be studied just as well, if not better. The prime example for this should be Japan. Fifth Wave explicitely mentions the Netherlands as a peak performer of the, umm, Fifth Wave, so this country may also be one of those which have an especially high number of SAI citizens. The same might be true for Austria, Sweden, Korea as well as certain regions in the US.

Still, wether Germany matters or not, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this idea to write a sourcebook about it. So far it has been the style of THS not to have produced any explicite books about certain regions (although admittedly some parts of Broken Dreams may come close to it), and I have to say that this suits me just fine. I feel that it really contributes to the freedom of the setting that you as the GM can do what you want with the US, Europe, China and even Germany (which does matter to me as a German, wether it is has the most SAI citizens or not), without any danger of a player fast-drawing some official soucebook on you.
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Old 04-10-2010, 01:26 PM   #28
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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Still, wether Germany matters or not, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this idea to write a sourcebook about it. So far it has been the style of THS not to have produced any explicite books about certain regions (although admittedly some parts of Broken Dreams may come close to it), and I have to say that this suits me just fine.
What about all the off-planet sourcebooks?


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I feel that it really contributes to the freedom of the setting that you as the GM can do what you want with the US, Europe, China and even Germany (which does matter to me as a German, wether it is has the most SAI citizens or not), without any danger of a player fast-drawing some official soucebook on you.
I think even a short Germany sourcebook will leave plenty of room for customization and further additions. What I want to do is present ideas and adventure opportunities you might not have thought of, not artificially constrain you.

All this assumes, of course, that (a) I think I can gather enough material to actually write it, and (b) the line editor accepts the proposal for such a supplement.
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Old 04-10-2010, 02:01 PM   #29
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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As I've pointed out elsewhere, I am currently in the process of brainstorming for a proposal for a Germany sourcebook for Transhuman Space. I think I have hit on a major issue which could serve as a useful source of conflict (and thus, adventures) for Transhuman Space campaigns in Germany. My line of reasoning goes this:

- As of 2100, SAIs are still fairly rare. But as both hardware and software continue to get cheaper, it is possible (even likely) that eventually SAIs are going to be the majority of sapients in the Solar System.
- There are currently only two major regions which permit SAIs to be citizens: The EU and the Islamic Caliphate. Of the two, the EU is more powerful by far.
- Germany is the most powerful, in absolute terms the most prosperous, and (after Turkey) the second most populous nation in the European Union. Thus, it is likely that it has the single largest number of SAI citizens in the world. It is also likely that other EU nations - and the EU as a whole - either follows the German lead or is strongly influenced by EU policy decisions on the matter.

Thus, as more people and more nations contemplate whether to give SAIs more rights, it is likely that the German model will be studied very closely by them. If Germany gives SAIs more power and more freedom (and just because they are citizens it doesn't mean that SAIs in Germany are as free and powerful as they potentially could be) and it works out well for Germany, then it might attract more emulators. Conversely, if Germany tightens restrictions on SAIs (because of scandals or toxic memes), then people elsewhere will be more easily convinced that granting SAIs more rights is not such a good idea after all.

And the more powerful factions who deeply care about the status of SAIs one way or another will certainly recognize this. Thus, Germany in 2100 will certainly be the focus of many, many memetic campaigns revolving around SAI rights and freedoms. And therein lies the potential for plenty of high-stakes adventuring.


What are your thoughts on this?
You may want some sort of 'social combat rules' in place here. Much of the action for such a situation will be political, legal and social. Resolving some seriously complex issues will likely need equally serious abstraction.

Edit: In fact such a ruleset would likely help sell the sourcebook to the Powers that Be. GURPS wouldn't be hurt by such an optional system.
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:37 PM   #30
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Default Re: Why Germany Matters

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What makes you think there aren't plenty of people and organizations who want to turn the situation in Germany (and the EU as a whole) into a fragile situation?
Sure, but it just seems more difficult to really hook PCs into working to keep a place from just being as bad as the rest of the world. SAIs don't have full rights yet, but it's sort of like running a game focusing on the situation of blacks in the U.K. during the period when they were still slaves in the U.S. Yeah, it's important, but it gives you the feeling that elsewhere in the world there are even bigger heroes.

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And high-stakes geopolitics and global memetic warfare should be interesting subjects for a campaign, shouldn't they?
I definitely like the idea of outside forces trying to do everything they can to keep SAIs from gaining full rights, both to make it easier for them to keep their own lesser treatment and to keep political alliances between the two groups strong.

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Personally, I see bioroids as something of an evolutionary dead end - sooner or later, they will likely be largely replaced by cyber- and bioshells with the right AIs.
This sort of reasoning sounds like a great opinion for some anti-bioroid politicians to put forward. European bioroids are living in a community where they're getting many more rights than most places, but they are obviously immigrants (with all the outsider stigma attached) and basically everyone around them thinks they never should have existed in the first place. Furthermore, if the mainstream culture can just reduce the inflow of "immigrants" and maintain the political culture that makes creating new bioroids illegal, the "bioroid problem" will be solved within a generation.

Now, no one except for a few extremists is going to say "we need to get rid of the bioroids", it's all going to be about immigration and the obscenity of creating indentured life, but it's not hard to imagine such an undercurrent below the surface.

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I'm not sure that's the best approach to take. In fact, my main aim is to show how campaigns can work if they don't involve lots of violence, since that's the kind of campaign many gamers seem to have the most difficulty with.
Most law enforcement work doesn't have anything to do with violence, but the larger point is that you're focusing on one of the most stable and progressive places of Transhuman space, so conflicts are going to tend to be about forces working against the status quo.
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