Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > Roleplaying in General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-02-2011, 09:37 PM   #1
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Spoiler warning: if you are going to play in my campaign Red-Blooded Earth-Men, reading this thread will materially diminish your enjoyment thereof.

If you go ahead anyway, please do not convey spoilers to the other players. If you do, your character will be skinned alive, and I will not give you any cheesecake.


SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

In September I am going to start running a new campaign inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series (especially Master Mind of Mars), S.M. Stirling's In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, Jack Vance's Tschai (Planet of Adventure) series, and the movie Stargate. The premise is that four Australian soldiers are mysteriously transported from the battlefields in France in December 1917 to the habitable, indeed inhabited, surface of Mars.

In accordance with sci-fi convention from before about 1970, Mars is going to be an older world than Earth, afflicted by desiccation, inhabited by the decadent remnants of a culture that once had a tech level far higher than Earth has. I think I will place the fall of the last (already decadent) régiváros (technological stronghold) to the barbarians at about the time of the rise of civilisation on Earth. I think that about 1917 that was believed to be about 3200 BC. Surviving examples of the highest tech will be five thousand years old, an must be either extremely durable, very carefully preserved, self-repairing, or self-reproducing.

In designing the remaining tech of Mars (or Világ as it in known in the Martian language Szólásmód), I want to achieve the sensawunda of Clarkean magic with minimal strain on players' suspension of disbelief, which means designing the relict technology and legacy biotech in terms that would satisfy the players and then concealing my working to present it as magic to the characters, its mode of operation to be slowly puzzled out. In short, I want the tech to be both plausible and wonderful.


So, I'm going to go through Ultra-Tech and sort out what is available on Világ.
  • One sorting principle is that the superscience is all out. Everything has to be plausible when looked at closely.
  • Another is that everything has to be old. TL10 stuff will be 5,000 years old; TL9 stuff will be 4,000 years old; TL8 will be 3,000 years old; TL 7 — 2,000 years old; TL 6 — 1,000 years; TL 5 stuff will be modern, made by techniques in use, but with the benefit of régi lágy termékek: legacy biotech materials. For example we might get muzzle-loading firearms with composite barrels, using a propellant that grows on trees to fire poison darts that grow on bushes.
    That means that any hard tech with moving parts is going to have to have been unused for ages to be not worn out. It also means that a lot of stuff is going to be unusable for want of consumables, such as ammunition and power cells.
  • The third is that stuff that looks too obviously like actual modern tech (computers, cellular radio communications, etc) ought to be derogated. It undermines the fairytale, Wonderland strangeness that I am aiming for.

Has anyone anything to add? Comments? Suggestions? Specifics about what tech should be in and what out?
__________________

© copyright Brett Evill
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2011, 10:06 PM   #2
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
Spoiler warning: if you are going to play in my campaign Red-Blooded Earth-Men, reading this thread will materially diminish your enjoyment thereof.

If you go ahead anyway, please do not convey spoilers to the other players. If you do, your character will be skinned alive, and I will not give you any cheesecake.


SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

SPOILER SPACE

In September I am going to start running a new campaign inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series (especially Master Mind of Mars), S.M. Stirling's In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, Jack Vance's Tschai (Planet of Adventure) series, and the movie Stargate. The premise is that four Australian soldiers are mysteriously transported from the battlefields in France in December 1917 to the habitable, indeed inhabited, surface of Mars.

In accordance with sci-fi convention from before about 1970, Mars is going to be an older world than Earth, afflicted by desiccation, inhabited by the decadent remnants of a culture that once had a tech level far higher than Earth has. I think I will place the fall of the last (already decadent) régiváros (technological stronghold) to the barbarians at about the time of the rise of civilisation on Earth. I think that about 1917 that was believed to be about 3200 BC. Surviving examples of the highest tech will be five thousand years old, an must be either extremely durable, very carefully preserved, self-repairing, or self-reproducing.

In designing the remaining tech of Mars (or Világ as it in known in the Martian language Szólásmód), I want to achieve the sensawunda of Clarkean magic with minimal strain on players' suspension of disbelief, which means designing the relict technology and legacy biotech in terms that would satisfy the players and then concealing my working to present it as magic to the characters, its mode of operation to be slowly puzzled out. In short, I want the tech to be both plausible and wonderful.


So, I'm going to go through Ultra-Tech and sort out what is available on Világ.
  • One sorting principle is that the superscience is all out. Everything has to be plausible when looked at closely.
  • Another is that everything has to be old. TL10 stuff will be 5,000 years old; TL9 stuff will be 4,000 years old; TL8 will be 3,000 years old; TL 7 — 2,000 years old; TL 6 — 1,000 years; TL 5 stuff will be modern, made by techniques in use, but with the benefit of régi lágy termékek: legacy biotech materials. For example we might get muzzle-loading firearms with composite barrels, using a propellant that grows on trees to fire poison darts that grow on bushes.
  • You might want to fine-tune that a bit for believability. I can't picture a society sliding neatly down the TL scale that way. In fact, I don't know that I would bother to distinguish between the TLs at that level, to people from 1917, anything at 9 or higher is going to be hard to sort out anyway without a lot of time and thought (and it would be even harder for the locals at TL5).

    Instead I'd thumb rule tech as 'current', TL5 (and lower) stuff the locals can make, maintain, and use readily, and that they (or at least their specialists) understand, 'advanced', meaning tech the locals recognize as tech, but which is beyond their grasp to make or maintain (though they might be able to do some maintenance on it). For ex, a TL5 Martian might recognize a self-propelled wheeled vehicle as a machine, rather than magic, but he might be unable to tell you anything in detail about how it works or how to fix it.

    And then there will be the Old Stuff, which might as well be magical (anything from high TL8 on up).

    To a visitor from 1917 Earth, some of the Old stuff would merely seem Advanced, other stuff would be just as magical to a WW I soldier as it is to a Martian.

    As for sensawunda...the Old Martians probably wouldn't have used nuclear power for their long-life stuff, if they didn't expect to be able to maintain it, nuclear power is fine for years or decades, but runs out over centuries and millennia, and has to be refueled. I think they might use geothermal power instead. Somewhere on Mars, there might be Old power stations built around mantle boreholes, at some point your characters can stand at the edge of such a hole and gaze down hundreds of miles into the depths of Mars...such pits would be at the center of vast ruins of technological wonders...

    (To a person from 1917, which is more wonderous, a nuclear fission system or a 500 mile deep shaft into the ground?)

    [quote]
  • The third is that stuff that looks too obviously like actual modern tech (computers, cellular radio communications, etc) ought to be derogated. It undermines the fairytale, Wonderland strangeness that I am aiming for.

Cellular radio is right out, the support networks would have been gone for ages...though one might come across fallen transmission towers in the desert that would puzzle the characters, but be recognizable to the players.) Computers might exist built into other machines.

Sapient robots might well fit the setting, robots go back to the 19th century as an SFnal concept. But they should be very unlike what we visualize for such...


Quote:
Has anyone anything to add? Comments? Suggestions? Specifics about what tech should be in and what out?
Passive Old tech is going to be useful and probably carefully preserved for utility and status, high tech armor, for ex. Blades made of alloys that don't rust or lose their edge, 'unbreakable' ropes, that sort of thing. They should be made fancy-looking, the unbreakable rope, for ex, might be made of a translucent stuff that sparkles in the dim Martian sun, or transparent material (an invisible rope!).

Play up what once existed, for flavor. Bridges over vast chasms might still be in use. The players might find one of the machines that dug the old canals, now rusted and ruined, but clearly once hundreds of feet across...fallen buildings that were clearly once miles tall. Etc. Hint that the canals were dug when the Martians were in decline, and imply that once they had even greater powers...

Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 08-02-2011 at 10:11 PM.
Johnny1A.2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2011, 12:20 AM   #3
Apache
On Notice
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

You really want to score a copy of the old Space:1889 rulebook, now printed by Heliograph.

Had whole sections on Martian engineering, etc, that you could plunder for your game.

Not to mention the flora and fauna...
__________________
If you think an Apache can't tell right from wrong....wrong him, and see what happens.
Apache is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2011, 12:25 AM   #4
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apache View Post
You really want to score a copy of the old Space:1889 rulebook, now printed by Heliograph.
I remember Space 1889 from back in the day. It's not the sort of thing I am aiming for: Teslarian superscience rather than Clarkean magic.
__________________

© copyright Brett Evill
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2011, 09:39 AM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
[B][COLOR="Red"]

So, I'm going to go through Ultra-Tech and sort out what is available on Világ.[list][*] One sorting principle is that the superscience is all out. Everything has to be plausible when looked at closely.
Observation 1 is that TL10 is a litle low for Clarkian stuff.

Ob 2 is that plausible in 1917 and 2011 are different things.

As an example, magnetic levitation without maglev rails is junk now but prefectly plausible then.

I can think of little in UT hard science TL10 that would either be Clarkian or still functional 5000 years later.

I can only suggest that things your TL8 players might recognize as "3-dimensional solid state devices" might be taken as "regulating crystals" by your early TL6 characters. I think crystal radios were more than novelties in 1917.
__________________
Fred Brackin
Fred Brackin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2011, 01:57 PM   #6
isf
 
isf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Jacksonville, AR
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

I'm working on a similar setting and time frame and I'm having some of the relics survive because they are solid state devices encased in diamondoid material. Were there any caches or stockpiles set up to survive indefinitely?
__________________
Travis Foster
isf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2011, 09:01 PM   #7
lwcamp
 
lwcamp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: The plutonium rich regions of Washington State
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
[*] One sorting principle is that the superscience is all out. Everything has to be plausible when looked at closely.
Don't you have teleport gates getting your heroes to their destination?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
Has anyone anything to add? Comments? Suggestions? Specifics about what tech should be in and what out?
I still think an encounter with a giant walking tripod would be cool. Have it a hulking ruin, although the heat-ray may be scavengable by a competent engineer.

You could also run with the implications of teleport gate technology. In ancient cities, perhaps the locals 'ported around much as we today use cell phones. Rooms could be pocket dimensions. Instead of refrigerators, they gate perishable goods into a pocket dimension and then turn off time in that dimension, until they are ready to 'port the stuff back out again. You could keep ancient relics, or even the ancients themselves, inside ancient 'refrigerator' dimensions until your heroes find the activation panel and retrieve them.

If you want to keep this as hard science as possible, remember than energy, momentum, and angular momentum are conserved locally. This means that if you put something through a teleport gate, the gate machinery gains the mass (and momentum, angular momentum, and electric charge) of whatever it 'ported out, and the receiving station looses that much mass (& etc.) when it's package 'ports in. If there is not enough mass at the receiving station, either the package bounces back, or goes into holding until the receiving station can acquire enough mass (perhaps by sucking air in, or pumping water through pipes, or some such.

Luke
lwcamp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2011, 03:32 AM   #8
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
If you want to keep this as hard science as possible, remember than energy, momentum, and angular momentum are conserved locally.
That's kind of challenging for the Earth=>Mars teleport, and having that be different means you need two kinds of teleport gate.
johndallman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2011, 08:53 AM   #9
lwcamp
 
lwcamp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: The plutonium rich regions of Washington State
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
That's kind of challenging for the Earth=>Mars teleport, and having that be different means you need two kinds of teleport gate.
Not at all. It could go like this:
Solder, mass 100 kg, momentum 0 in Earth's frame of reference
Earth-side "stargate", mass 1,000,000 kg, momentum 0 in Earth's frame of reference
Mars, velocity 20,000 m/s with respect to earth
Mars-side stargate, mass 1,000,000 kg, momentum 20,000,000,000 kg m/s in earth's frame of reference
Events:
(1) Soldier is standing next to Earth-side stargate. On Earth, the total mass is 1,000,100 kg and the total momentum is 0. On Mars, the total mass is 1,000,000 kg and the total momentum is 20,000,000,000 kg m/s.
(2) Soldier steps into Earth side stargate. Earth-side stargate now has a mass of 1,000,100 kg and momentum 0 with respect to its own frame of reference. Nothing has yet changed on Mars.
(3) Soldier steps out of Mars-side stargate, with a velocity of 20,000 m/s with respect to Earth, and at rest with respect to Mars. Soldier has a momentum of 2,000,000 kg m/s in Earth's reference frame. Mars-side stargate now has a mass of 999,900 kg and a momentum of 19,998,000,000 kg m/s. Total mass on Mars is still 1,000,000 kg and the total momentum is still 20,000,000,000 kg m/s.
Note that energy (mass) and momentum are conserved locally, at each stargate.
This is a quick and dirty calculation, to be more rigorous you would treat momentum as a vector, and also include conservation of the angular momentum vector - but it all works out if the stargate you step into gains your energy (mass), momentum, angular momentum, and electric charge, while the stargate you step out of loses those quantities (or gains the negative of those quantities, which makes more sense for the vectors such as momentum and angular momentum).

If the soldier steps into a transit gate whose pair mas a mass of, say, 40 kg, then there is a problem because the counterpart gate doesn't have enough mass to accommodate him. But if its started up a fan to suck in over 60 kg of Martian air, it would gain the mass of the air it sucked in. Then it could accept the soldier and give the air to the original gate, effecting a mass swap that makes all the conservation laws happy.

There are other peculiarities of this system - the fact that they conserve momentum means you can use them as rockets by sending stuff through at high speed, for example.

Luke
lwcamp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2011, 12:06 PM   #10
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: REinventing Barsoom: 3 — relict hard technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
It could go like this:
OK, that works. But when this campaign idea first started getting discussed, there didn't seem to be any device at the Earth end. If that has changed, I missed it.
johndallman is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
mars, sword & planet, ultra-tech

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:23 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.