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Old 08-31-2021, 05:39 PM   #1
fdsa1234567890
 
Join Date: May 2011
Default [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

So I've been looking a running a new SF futuristic setting and I'm sort of stuck with Ultra-Tech. The thing I'm debating is about how advanced to allow secondary tech to be. I'm looking at at a reasonably developed solar system as the main setting, but I'm not sure where to go in terms of the rest of the overall tech base.

How advanced can the secondary tech be before it overpowers everything else?
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Old 08-31-2021, 06:55 PM   #2
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

...What do you mean by 'secondary tech'?
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Old 08-31-2021, 07:12 PM   #3
Mark Caliber
 
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Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

Yeah, I'm kind of wrestling with a similar question as I get ready to spool up a new game.

But I've studied Ultratech extensively and it helped that I had a deep dive into the GURPS Traveller setting to help put this question into context.

My setting will probably be similar to yours, but with an emerging colonization period for the solar system.

I'm looking at doing a base setting of TL 9 with some advanced TL 10 WITHOUT any advanced FTL travel available.


Most of the Sci Fi settings that I would consider (as the GM) seem to have two TL's with the lower TL being the basis of what's commercially available with the higher TL being available to the Military or the Ultrawealthy.


GURPS Traveller has three TL tiers (TL's 10 - 12) and I wouldn't recommend stretching TL's beyond those ranges. (But you can because you're the GM and this is your game).


I did some play testing for a GURPS X-Com many years ago and the alien tech was so advanced that it was nearly impossible for the humans to do anything to the aliens. I think I had a two or three level difference between the tech, so try to keep your gaps small.


Knowing nothing substantial about your game, I would recommend that you check TL 10 and then figure out whether you want stuff to be more or less advanced from that level.
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Old 08-31-2021, 10:47 PM   #4
fdsa1234567890
 
Join Date: May 2011
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
...What do you mean by 'secondary tech'?
I mean tech outside of what is explicitly required for the premise.

So for a space setting you obviously need advanced spaceships and things like life support systems but you don't necessarily need nanotechnology or advanced energy weapons.
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Old 08-31-2021, 11:09 PM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdsa1234567890 View Post
I mean tech outside of what is explicitly required for the premise.

So for a space setting you obviously need advanced spaceships and things like life support systems but you don't necessarily need nanotechnology or advanced energy weapons.
If your setting is at all realistic about hazards of space travel you probably do need medical nanotechnology.

Most of this will be in Bio-tech rather than UT but if you try and implement the Radiation rules from Campaigns (added to in Spaceships 5) without advanced medicine to combat radiation problems people are going to get sick and die from radiation a lot.

With Antirad from Bio-tech (not the same named drug from UT) and the unamed anti-rad from Campaigns it's still a big problem. Peopel will need to retire from space travel or get their lifetime rad counts reset after 1 to 2 years.

With TL 10 Antirad and other treatments available it becomes a 10 year problem. At TL 11 you stop worrying about it because you have DNA Repair nano. TL10 genetic enginering lets parahumans do this at TL10.

Or maybe you just don't worry about radation.
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Old 08-31-2021, 11:17 PM   #6
the-croupier
 
Join Date: May 2020
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

It's still early days for my own space opera campaign, but so far I've found GURPS to be more restrictive (in good ways) when it comes to the possibilities of ultra-tech rather than too permissive. That persistent lean toward hard SF that runs through the books can make full-on space opera a challenge sometimes. But it also can make a GM's life easier when it comes to keeping the PCs' power levels from spinning out of control.

Plus, I think a GM is entirely within their rights to simply say a given path of tech never actually progressed in the way we might assume in 2021. In my campaign's future history, yes ships have stardrives, and alien races have force shields, etc. But no, actually, no one ever did figure out how to make an actual, sentient artificial intelligence. Many civilizations tried, and cobbling together something that can completely fool a TL 7 or lower civilization is actually pretty easy. But the genuine article? Never happened.

A couple worldbuilding choices like that will make your campaign more distinctive. When players don't have all the usual options of a genre available to them, that can sometimes take stories in interesting directions. And it can also eliminate kinds of tech that you worry will throw things out of balance. Just make sure you provide a rationale for it.

Plus, eliminating a tech path or two can make a GM's life easier by taking several pages of Ultra-Tech off-the-table and making it easier to focus on the kinds of tech that remain (which will probably still be a very large number!).
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Old 09-01-2021, 08:00 AM   #7
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

Some questions I would ask:

* What is this campaign going to be about? Will this technology make the activity I'm focusing on impossible, or too easy to be interesting?

* Where does it fall on the spectrum from hard science fiction (reality testing controls what's possible) to space opera (narrative controls what's possible, without regard for reality testing)?

* What is the "one impossible assumption"? Technology should be derived from that assumption, whatever it is.

* (In a campaign that's at the hard science fiction end of the spectrum) What is realistically possible? Technology should not be more unrealistic than I'm prepared to tolerate in general, or than my premise justifies.

* If I make one impossible assumption, what are the realistic implications of that assumption?

* What interesting types of narratives would emerge from the technology I'm considering?
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Old 09-01-2021, 10:11 AM   #8
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdsa1234567890 View Post
I mean tech outside of what is explicitly required for the premise.

So for a space setting you obviously need advanced spaceships and things like life support systems but you don't necessarily need nanotechnology or advanced energy weapons.
Okay. Then what does it mean for that to 'overpower everything else'?

As space opera often demonstrates, you can use nanotechnology and advanced energy weapons without them really making a much different impact on the story than bandages and firearms. And even more realistically, energy weapons don't particularly compete with space transportation in any way I can see. Nano can occupy a lot of conceptual space depending on how you choose to use it in the setting.

What is the scenario you are trying to avoid, here?
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Old 09-01-2021, 06:45 PM   #9
fdsa1234567890
 
Join Date: May 2011
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Okay. Then what does it mean for that to 'overpower everything else'?

As space opera often demonstrates, you can use nanotechnology and advanced energy weapons without them really making a much different impact on the story than bandages and firearms. And even more realistically, energy weapons don't particularly compete with space transportation in any way I can see. Nano can occupy a lot of conceptual space depending on how you choose to use it in the setting.

What is the scenario you are trying to avoid, here?
I guess the scenario I'm trying to avoid is the complexity of Eclipse Phase.
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Old 09-01-2021, 07:21 PM   #10
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: [Ultra-Tech] How to decide what tech to allow?

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Originally Posted by fdsa1234567890 View Post
I guess the scenario I'm trying to avoid is the complexity of Eclipse Phase.
And by complexity you mean the transhumanism, or what? You can have just about any tech without necessarily turning everyone into infomorphs.

When I looked at eclipse phase the complexity I saw was super clunky looking mechanics...
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