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Old 02-19-2019, 08:58 PM   #11
jason taylor
 
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

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Originally Posted by YankeeGamer View Post
Some praise it. Some fear it. Some compare it to a British or American Concentration Camp. (Few compare it to the Nazi camps. The British camps contained Boers, the American ones contained Japanese Americans—neither were intended to kill the people there.)

My interpretation of Coventry has a well defended fortress; the Infinite Headquarters. It’s one of the most secure places in the universe--a place where Infinity’s law prevails. All well and good, but for one minor problem.

No satellites, no DEW line, no space facilities. The only radar is designed to control the area right around headquarters.

To keep the squeamish happy, they have an assortment of Potemkin Villages, where life is “good,” and things like medical care are available for “free.” Life isn’t great, but it's stable. People are free to leave, but those who do are on their own. Most of the ones who leave don’t go too far, and live somewhat under the aegis of Infinity.

Others have gone further afield, including some that Infinity would rather…didn't. Some have died, some are monitored by drones, but others have faked their deaths in the wild. Now living in places that Infinity has not found, they are trying to bootstrap their technology, aided by stolen goods and some truly brilliant people. They wouldn’t be very far along, but they can listen electronically. Some have more psionic powers than Infinity realizes, and others are just inspired. Their base is in caves, helping hide their minimal emissions.

In a few generations, they might be an escape risk—perhaps sooner, if one scientist’s ideas are valid.

One fine evening, life changed for everyone. None noticed the occultation of the stars, or the silently descending survey ship. The spacefarers could clearly see that the planet was an outpost of a mid-tech range civilization. With stealth fields raided

The survey ship very quickly realized that this isn't a civilization's homeworld, but some form of colony. After a few weeks in orbit, they could tell that people were arriving and departing without space ships, and the demographics and settlement patterns were all too familiar: Coventry is a prison planet, of an unknown civilization that travels without space ships.

On realizing that, they leave post haste.

A few days/weeks/months later, a heavy cruiser arrives to begin first contact...

The idea here is that The Secret is effectively blown regarding the spacegoing civilization, but it won't do them any good--Coventry is only reachable with conveyors boosted by projectors on homeline. (At least for now.)

Interstellar technology does Homeline no good, either; it doesn't work on homeline.

Can of worms cracked, but not necessarily opened...
The thing is, Coventry is a whole universe. Marooning people, can't be exactly a concentration camp of any kind-it's just to big. Furthermore anyone who gets a passage there is probably intelligent enough to survive, especially if supplies are regularly brought in.

Maintaining a fortress there is dubious. Maintaining a prison-within-a-prison has the same objection though if someone there is really important to "deal with" Infinity might want to do that. You do not want the locals to get a chance to hijack it. The best thing to do is temporary visits to make sure everything is up to snuff. Even then you want to guard your LZ carefully and then leave when the job is done.

I don't see it as being like a detention camp of the kind you describe. There is really no reason to go to a great effort to lock people up. It is to much work and expense and counterproductive and Infinity sounds like they are at least practical about such things. It sounds more like Australia. Or that thing Havenites used to do in Honor Harington where they would dump prisoners on an island and ignore them unless they were StateSec and liked bullying people for the heck of it.
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Last edited by jason taylor; 02-19-2019 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:44 PM   #12
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

Coventry has a hospital staffed mostly by people who aren't exiles and it has has a place for conveyors to arrive with freight and new exiles. Therefore a secure facility is appropriate.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:06 PM   #13
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

I didn't say that it was a vast prison; people are free to wander off. The Infinity HQ would need to be well defended, as who knows what mischief smart folks with even civilian moderate level technology. It IS a prison planet, with Infinite HQ as the gateway. The demographics would , IMVHO, be clear if a spacefaring civilization uses such, like the Peep prison camp on an island.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:39 PM   #14
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

I'd expect Infinity to have tossed a few weather observation sats and some spy/survey sats up (or just pushed them through from Homeline already in orbit), and they'd have some fairly sensitive parachronic sensors on board. They might invest in some basic communications sats as well, in case they needed to travel for some reason. These could be all-in-one devices in middling orbits (6-12 hours, highly inclined), as constant coverage isn't needed (unless they're really paranoid about someone jury-rigging up parachronic devices). They'd all be pointing downwards, of course, so they wouldn't see a spaceship that came in quietly.

I think it would take a while for alien observers to know that people were arriving and leaving without spaceships. Aside from staff being cycled in and out next to nobody leaves and not many extra people arrive. That it's a 'open prison' would, as you say in your original post, be pretty obvious - a single high-tech enclave with serious security and high population density, and a low population extending out from it is a fairly easy thing to spot.
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

If space drives emit something that triggers a parachronic detector, or parachronic detectors trigger passive sensors with something like thei8r hyperspace detectors--gets interesting.

I'd expect a survey ship to jump in fairly far away from the planet--they'd know before jumping that there's an inhabitable world, I think. We can detect many planets now.
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:51 PM   #16
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

I'd always thought of Coventry as basically GURPS' version of The Prisoner, at least in the initial GURPS Time Travel creation. 'Weird conspiratorial organization holds people who know too much in a place no one can reach.'


Indeed, Infinity would likely set up on an actual island, to take advantage of the obvious isolation. And it could still be an island big enough to have wilds for those who don't want to live under direct Infinite rule. Any Infinity base, even just the landing pad for projector, could be on another nearby island.

I initially thought that a Hawaiian island would be the best, probably Oahu - favorable climate, very isolated from the rest of the world geographically, developed & peaceful location on Homeline. But Hawaii, or another Pacific island, would suffer from hurricanes. Same for Caribbean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean.

Maybe go 'full Coventry' and put it on England? Weather isn't as good, but also not as dangerous. But way less isolated. Split the difference and choose New Zealand? Would have to worry about earthquakes, but there wouldn't be big buildings to be knocked down.


For the aliens, add that they seem to resemble descriptions of aliens seen on Caliph. GURPS Alternate Earths 2 gives basically no description of them, just one passing ship, and later a (seemingly different) unopened stargate, so could fit any alien race.

And very little is known about the aliens by the humans of Caliph (and Infinity would know even less). They never came near Earth on Caliph, but that world is centuries behind Homeline (chronologically). Plus, we have no idea what the local time is on Coventry.

The aliens of Coventry resembling the aliens of Caliph would freak Infinity out even more. That world seems 'hard science', not cinematic like the aliens of other worlds (such as Leviathan or Cyrano). And the aliens are ones that would never have been spotted on any other world - including Homeline. Thus, they could theoretically be aliens that exist on every 'regular' timeline, including Homeline!

And since Coventry is likely far in the past, chronologically, from Homeline, it would imply that these aliens had buzzed by Earth on every world at that time, but only Coventry had the obvious advanced tech to interest them. Meaning that they'd buzzed Homeline centuries ago, and are still out there, in 2027...
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

What if Infinity didn't build Coventry base but instead merely found it? A vast complex of hardened concrete walls and towers that looks like a mashup of a castle and a bunker that could easily be mistaken for a human construction. Except in certain places where undecipherable alien writing is inscribed. Estimates at how old the structure is range from several thousand to several million years.

It was just a shell at first. Infinity had to supply all of the furnishings. Luckily, lumber is plentiful nearby. Things like doors, tables, chairs, cabinets, and such were all made locally. Outside the walls a town developed to supply the fortress. The people here are not prisoners but volunteers who wanted a new life. They live a mostly TL4 agrarian lifestyle. In exchange for goods and services these 'townies' receive TL8 medical care and other things that have to be imported from off world.

The base itself forms concentric rings of security. The deeper one goes the higher the security. The outermost ring contains the conveyor landing pad and support staff hospital. The prisoners here are the non-violent kind. There is a nightly curfew but they have many privileges. The middle ring holds the violent offenders and prisoner medical care center. They have lockdown every night and some privileges. The innermost ring is the maximum security area. The worst offenders are kept here with very few privileges.

Infinity planners have always been uneasy about Coventry. Because of its mysterious origin they could never be sure how safe it really was. The project was originally approved because it was a quick and easy solution to the problem of how to contain world jumpers. Since then it has suffered from scope creep to become a permanent prison facility. Many members of Infinity leadership are dissatisfied with the situation but are unsure what can be done. Repatriating prisoners is out of the question. But keeping them all in Coventry forever will eventually become untenable too. Current thinking is that prisoners will remain until they have become rehabilitated at which point they will be sent to an Infinity colony world. So far no one has been deemed ready to leave by the on-site Coventry management staff.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:24 AM   #18
ericthered
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

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Originally Posted by Starship777 View Post
What if Infinity didn't build Coventry base but instead merely found it? A vast complex of hardened concrete walls and towers that looks like a mashup of a castle and a bunker that could easily be mistaken for a human construction. Except in certain places where undecipherable alien writing is inscribed. Estimates at how old the structure is range from several thousand to several million years.

It could end up with both prisoners and researchers on the base. You could either have a separation, or you could have the prisoners doing the research (not secure nor ethical but probably the best potential for drama). As a researcher I'd be convinced the aliens are parachronic and that the installation is a machine that drives conventry's effect.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:15 PM   #19
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Default Re: Coventry--a campaign twist

Another option for a frightening Coventry...
SOMETHING about the system is dangerous, perhaps something ensconced deep in the heart of one of the planets. Sealed Evil in a Can of some sort could be why the system is interdicted. A Thrint/Slaver (World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven) in a stasis field would be a frightening possibility.

Long ago, someone planted a device that scramble spacetime, preventing hyperdrive ships from coming or going. That's why Coventry is so hard to get to parachronicly. However, the cross time trips have either caused a weakening in the field, with imminent collapse--allowing Coventry to be accessible normally--or the gadget has sent out a FTL signal reporting containment breach.
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