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Old 04-21-2018, 10:46 PM   #41
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Because "superscience" is the gadget equivalent of "cinematic". Both of them mean "stop complaining that it can't happen that way">
I don't think it does. You can just say "cinematic" for gadgets. "Superscience" has a more specific meaning: It means that a technology is founded on some scientific phenomenon that our current scientific knowledge says is impossible. But, for example, there have been lots of movie and tv scenes where people whose hearts had stopped are revived by defibrillation, even though that really only works on hearts that are fibrillating, not on hearts that aren't beating at all, or so I understand the matter. Is that superscience, involving a radical new scientific principle that allows electric shock to restart a failed heart? Or is it just the scriptwriter (a) using cinematic shorthand for medical intervention and (b) being overoptimistic about how well it works?

I don't think that it counts as superscience unless your original fictional source presents it as a radical new technology, rather than just being technologically overoptimistic. And of course you're free to make it so in your campaign, as a way of explaining things that you and your players know don't really work. But that's a change from the source material. And it may not be the best approach; sometimes it's better not to think about the scientific implications, or license your players to invent other technologies that exploit those implications, but just to accept that in your story you're not going to worry about the acceleration of being shot from a huge cannon, or the energy storage of a primary battery, or the effect of the square-cube law on human beings thirty feet tall.
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Old 04-21-2018, 11:14 PM   #42
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I don't think it does. You can just say "cinematic" for gadgets.
I can say a lot of things. But they don't. Instead they say "super science" or "ethnic cool".



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"Superscience" has a more specific meaning: It means that a technology is founded on some scientific phenomenon that our current scientific knowledge says is impossible.
Such as for example the way the Nautilus draws electricity out of the sea water surrounding it.

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But, for example, there have been lots of movie and tv scenes where people whose hearts had stopped are revived by defibrillation, even though that really only works on hearts that are fibrillating, not on hearts that aren't beating at all, or so I understand the matter. Is that superscience, involving a radical new scientific principle that allows electric shock to restart a failed heart? Or is it just the scriptwriter (a) using cinematic shorthand for medical intervention and (b) being overoptimistic about how well it works?
Neither. The term for that is "inaccurate depiction of an existing technology".

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I don't think that it counts as superscience unless your original fictional source presents it as a radical new technology, rather than just being technologically overoptimistic.
But...the Nautilus or rather it's power source are presented as a radical new technology.

But let me go back to my original stance.

It doesn't much matter whether it's super science or not. The only time it would matter is when your some kind of purist who wants to stick to only what is possible. And such a purist would not put the Nautilus in the 19th century.
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Old 04-21-2018, 11:26 PM   #43
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Such as for example the way the Nautilus draws electricity out of the sea water surrounding it.

But...the Nautilus or rather it's power source are presented as a radical new technology.
That's not accurate. The Nautilus does not get its electricity from the sea water; it gets it from batteries inside its hull. The metals to make their electrodes are refined at a secret base of Nemo's, using energy from sea coal, if I recall correctly (everything from the sea, you know).

Verne does present the batteries as a high-end electrical technology, one more powerful than the batteries then in common use; but he identifies them as batteries of a specific design, using specific metals as electrodes. He's too optimistic about how much energy they can provide, by a long way. But he doesn't claim that they're a fundamentally new technology; he claims that they're an advanced version of a technology that already exists.
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Old 04-22-2018, 12:58 AM   #44
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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If not, then why does it become "superscience" when a gadget is involved? Sometimes it's just the way stories are told in a particular genre or idiom.
Not to be glib, but because gadgets appear on an equipment table with a TL column.

It's where a busy GM points their players to and says "choose anything from TL6 without a ^ marker".

Whether technology of mundane providence but marvelous performance, such as Nautilus' superbatteries, should be classed as superscience is a more meta question. There have been many similar arguments here where people have wanted to apply the superscience label, when for example the performance of mundane spaceship rockets has been optimistically enhanced for narrative reasons, or looking at X-ray lasers* which just combine two existing mundane technologies in an optimistic manner.

It looks like we need a new label for mundane but cinematic technology, as I'd prefer to save the superscience label for the real comic book or space opera level of impossible technology.

* PS- Actually, I misremembered. The discussion was about gamma ray lasers, and probably being handheld.
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Old 04-22-2018, 01:28 AM   #45
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
Not to be glib, but because gadgets appear on an equipment table with a TL column.

It's where a busy GM points their players to and says "choose anything from TL6 without a ^ marker".

Whether technology of mundane providence but marvelous performance, such as Nautilus' superbatteries, should be classed as superscience is a more meta question. There have been many similar arguments here where people have wanted to apply the superscience label, when for example the performance of mundane spaceship rockets has been optimistically enhanced for narrative reasons, or looking at X-ray lasers which just combine two existing mundane technologies in an optimistic manner.

It looks like we need a new label for mundane but cinematic technology, as I'd prefer to save the superscience label for the real comic book or space opera level of impossible technology.
Spaceships uses 'limited superscience' to describe torch drives that use legitimate operating principles and plausible Isp values but have thrust levels that imply rather unmanageable power densities.
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Old 04-22-2018, 01:33 AM   #46
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
Whether technology of mundane providence but marvelous performance, such as Nautilus' superbatteries, should be classed as superscience is a more meta question. There have been many similar arguments here where people have wanted to apply the superscience label, when for example the performance of mundane spaceship rockets has been optimistically enhanced for narrative reasons, or looking at X-ray lasers which just combine two existing mundane technologies in an optimistic manner.

It looks like we need a new label for mundane but cinematic technology, as I'd prefer to save the superscience label for the real comic book or space opera level of impossible technology.
I'm not sure that that's the case.

Consider a parallel case: Superman or the Hulk can pick up a tank, or even a battleship, and hold it over their heads. A realistic structural analysis would suggest that that much weight on the surface area of two hands (even two Hulk-sized hands) would put a hole through the hull and result in the battleship dropping (or perhaps some other structural failure). But that doesn't happen. Why not?

One option is to say that Superman isn't really using his physical strength; he's telekinetically applying force to the entire lower surface. That's an in-universe explanation that involves giving him an extra and quite different power. I believe that John Byrne used that explanation, back in the day.

Another option is to say that Superman is strong enough to lift that weight, so he can do so, and we aren't going to analyze strengths of materials, because this isn't that kind of story. He can lift battleships because he's incredibly strong; most of his abilities are normal human abilities scaled up (originally, in the first Siegel and Shuster stories, all of them).

Of course in a campaign, you can choose either option. But if you choose the first, you're giving Superman or the Hulk the special power to lift massive objects without threatening their structural integrity. If you choose the second, you're not; you're just not letting the physics police interfere with your story, in which that's just how superhuman strength works.
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Old 04-22-2018, 01:59 AM   #47
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

To be clear, I'm not saying that settings can't operate on cinematic logic or ignore realism for the sake of narrative flow. However, even if Verne thought the superbatteries (and everything else about its design) were plausible, you need something to point out to a GM who's prospectively using the Nautilus in their game that no, normally 19th century submarines can't go 5 days without surfacing.
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Old 04-22-2018, 07:22 AM   #48
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Verne does present the batteries as a high-end electrical technology, one more powerful than the batteries then in common use; but he identifies them as batteries of a specific design, using specific metals as electrodes. He's too optimistic about how much energy they can provide, by a long way. But he doesn't claim that they're a fundamentally new technology; he claims that they're an advanced version of a technology that already exists.
Which brings up the tar baby of where does the line between TLx, TL(x+y), and TLz (where z=x+y) reside.

Is is accurate to call the Nautilus TL(5+1)^ or should it be TL6^ because it uses a cinematic version of already existing technology?

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To be clear, I'm not saying that settings can't operate on cinematic logic or ignore realism for the sake of narrative flow. However, even if Verne thought the superbatteries (and everything else about its design) were plausible, you need something to point out to a GM who's prospectively using the Nautilus in their game that no, normally 19th century submarines can't go 5 days without surfacing.
Not just that but there are many real world things that require superscience to actually work as presented:

Electropathic Belt (TL(5+1) or TL6): In the real world this didn't do anything. In a superscience setting "it increases the wearer's HT to 10, if it was below that level". (Steamtech 31)

N-Rays ("discovered" in 1895): they were actually the result of experimenter bias. In a superscience world they could actually exist.

Phrenology (lampooned in Bowery Bugs; TL5): the shape of, size of, and bumps on the skull denotes intelligence and certain personality traits.

The Tempest Prognosticator (TL5): appeared in the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851. It was supposed to predict the weather. In the real world it, at best, amounted to little more then a very crude barometer but in a superscience setting it can give a +2 to Meteorology. If the GM wants to whole hog with the superscience it can predict earthquakes as well. (Steamtech pg 51)

Lord Kelvin's Water-Drop Electrostatic Generator (TL5): In the real world it has been relegated to the demonstrate the principles of electrostatics in physics education. In a superscience world it could be more useful then Volta's Pile. (Steamtech pg 52)

Cheirometer TL(5+1): Better known as the Bertillon System of Criminal Identification system it served the same function as fingerprints by "the meticulous measurement and recording of different parts and components of the human body." It was largely replaced by fingerprinting though it still survives in the form of mug shots. (Steamtech pg 58)

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Old 04-22-2018, 07:50 AM   #49
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Default Re: Tech Level Confusion

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Which brings up the tar baby of where does the line between TLx, TL(x+y), and TLz (where z=x+y) reside.

Is is accurate to call the Nautilus TL(5+1)^ or should it be TL6^ because it uses a cinematic version of already existing technology?
It is up to the GM cleariy.

The choice only really matters in two cases:
1) if the GM allows characters to use the same skills for super science tech and normal tech of the same TL directly or with less penalties. In such case a characters normal skill can be TL5+1 for a steampunk world or TL 6 for our world.

2)Cross dimensional travel. Again because a character may have a skill as 5+1^ or 6^ and gets different penalties.



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Not just that but there are many real world things that require superscience to actually work as presented:

Cheirometer TL(5+1): Better known as the Bertillon System of Criminal Identification system it served the same function as fingerprints by "the meticulous measurement and recording of different parts and components of the human body." It was largely replaced by fingerprinting though it still survives in the form of mug shots. (Steamtech pg 58)
For TL 5+1, yes it might require super science, but given the high precision of measurements and computing power we have today it should be possible to construct a very good such if we did not use fingerprinting. So a TL 5+3 should definitely be able to have such without super science.
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Old 04-22-2018, 10:23 AM   #50
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For TL 5+1, yes it might require super science, but given the high precision of measurements and computing power we have today it should be possible to construct a very good such if we did not use fingerprinting. So a TL 5+3 should definitely be able to have such without super science.
Isn't it just straight up TL8 biometrics?
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