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Old 06-16-2021, 03:51 PM   #2281
tshiggins
 
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Default Re: New Sci Fi Setting Seeds

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Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
Mainly other humans and near humans. Slavers and bandits are good threats, pirates near the coast. Cities have their own predators.
It needs something more, though.

If knowledge was lost, then the civilization collapsed so long ago that the survivors would've had time to develop viable societies of their own, and start to recover/rediscover the technology.

Post-collapse chaos is a temporary/transitional thing, and any society with interstellar technology will have a broad and robust base of knowledge -- after all, they're probably out of contact with Earth for a very long time.

So, something has to keep the post-collapse societies down long enough for them to lose the knowledge.

I'd build on Heinlein's "stobor" idea from, Tunnel in the Sky. Basically, the world had a concealed hazard that only emerged periodically, or which got worse when the colonists no longer focused on preventing it or defending themselves from it.

If you wanted to be boring, you could take an idea from The Expanse, and make it a fungus-analog or parasite that affected people directly, or caused tremendous damage to crops. While easily countered with modern medicine or chemical pesticides, the collapse of the infrastructure meant it wiped out a lot of people before they figured out a remedy from local plants or animals that evolved alongside the problem organism.

(That idea creates a tremendously dramatic short-term problem, in The Expanse, but it doesn't work well as an interesting issue that suppresses recovery for an extended period.)

It's a lot more fun to imagine a more dramatic problem.

I'd go with a local rodent-analog that absolutely loves the concentration of nutrients in the GMO crops the humans began to plant near their settlements. These cute, fuzzy little mouse-analogs were a bit of an issue early on, until people figured a certain high-frequency sound caused them enough pain to keep them away from fields with "sonic fences."

However, the collapse of the energy and manufacturing infrastructure meant the "sonic fences" stopped working, and the little bastards infested the fields and started to stuff themselves.

Compounding that problem, it turned out the reproductive rate of the little pests directly corresponded to the available nutrient intake. The ability to gorge themselves turned the fuzzy little gluttons into sex-maniacs, and they started to screw each other silly -- and produce large litters of offspring.

However, that wasn't the real problem (although it was bad enough...). It turned out the little rodent-analogs (which the early colonists promptly dubbed, "pipsqueaks") formed a significant fraction of the diet of several predator species. The predators included a particularly fierce, bipedal utahraptor-analog that seldom grew more than 50 cm long, and usually hunted as individuals or small family groupings, the size of which was limited by the population density of prey available.

Unfortunately, while the sudden spike in the density of pipsqueaks did permit larger family groupings of fast-moving, so-called "clawfoots"; it turned out the quantity of available nutrients also determined the maximum size attainable by the predator.

Pretty soon after the collapse of the energy infrastructure, the survivors started to see somewhat larger groups of significantly bigger clawfoots -- many of which started to reach the considerably more alarming length of a meter or more.

(The colonists had totally missed this, because as long as the sonic fences kept the pipsqueaks away, the population density remained low and they seldom ever even saw a clawfoot -- which were largely considered a beneficial mid-range predator species, anyway, as long as they stayed away from the chickens.)

This, of course, permitted the clawfoots to hunt larger prey -- which was, of course, the real evolutionary advantage of this strategy.

The increased nutrient intake also made them smarter. Not by much, and certainly not sapient -- but when 150-180 cm, 50-60 kg, pack-hunting clawfoots with coyote-level cunning appeared, they started tearing into human pets and livestock. And human children. And even isolated human adults.

So, the crash in available nutrients caused by the ravenous, sex-crazed pipsqueaks, combined with the (shockingly) sudden appearance of really dangerous pack-hunting predators, knocked the surviving human settlements to their knees -- and kept them down, for a long, long time.

It wasn't until the settlements developed mutually-beneficial partnerships with a couple of avian-analog species (especially the brightly-colored flocks of wickedly-taloned "parakites") that happily ate lots of pipsqueaks and other small vermin, but which have never (yet...) proved a threat to humans or their livestock, that the descendants of the survivors managed to turn the corner.

Still, nobody knows what may lurk out beyond the boundaries of the settlements, and a couple of packs of clawfoots that stumbled into an unexpectedly rich source of food that sustained them more than three generations are a problem for everybody.
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Old 06-17-2021, 11:21 AM   #2282
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Default Re: New Sci Fi Setting Seeds

Once again I'm lifting ideas from other people's stories.

Earth strikes most aliens as a deathworld. Not only are there dangerous predictors, the herbivores are dangerous too. Heck, even most of the plants try to kill you. And humans are so messed up they enjoy the taste of many of the poisons! They humans call the poison plants things like spices and herbs! The humans, because of the deadly nature of their home world learned to partially predigest their food. They call this cooking.

It is very weird. But does it ever taste GOOD!


Basically, another twenty-minuets into the future setting. All known intelligent species descend from a precursor species. Many of these species can even interbreed. But humanity is the only species to have developed cooking to any great extent. But human cooking tastes good (in fact fabulous) to all known intelligent species. Thus human cooks and chefs are in demand across know space. This means relatively ordinary humans can get to travel the galaxy as long as they can cook.

As written the aliens contact humanity in 2023, and find out about human food/cuisine by 2025 at the latest. And the campaign is set in 2035. Note: Many anthropologists, spies, adventures, etc., went to Culinary School in order to get a chance to see and study the galaxy.

In most things humans are seen as backwards savages in the same way Victorian Europeans looked at African tribal cultures. But they love Earthling cuisine!

It's assumed that PCs are either thrill seekers or scouting out information on extraterrestrial societies and technologies.
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Old 06-18-2021, 02:27 PM   #2283
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Default Re: New Sci Fi Setting Seeds

Try this one...

Most people think the Chinese started the blights because rice was the last grain crop destroyed by the blights. The Chinese were shocked and furious when their rice crops withered.

Civilization only survived because of three things. First, commercial fusion power came out a decade before the blights. Several nations including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and most of Europe were switched over to fusion generated electric before the blights. Second, there had been a major fad for Vertical Farming and indoor agriculture to radically reduce pesticides and other chemicals in the food. It also reduced water usage to produce crops. Third, most societies that launched wars to size food were either to messed up by famine to make a strong effort, or those countries with any food supplies were to strong and far away to attack.

That said, billions died. In the USA alone the population fell to less than thirty million. Those that survived the famines, the plagues that followed in their wake, and the wars, inherit a now empty world.

The main problems of this world are twofold. The remaining governments are restrictive military dictatorships. Even the USA, which is the least restrictive, still allows no representative government beyond the local level. The other problem is that there are only about 340 million people on the planet.

However, technology, especially biotechnology, has advanced. You draftees are all elderly people who survived the crisis years. For most of you this was a random thing, others had skills needed by the emergency government, some had connections, none of that matters now. Due to research into vat growing meat we've come on a means of rejuvenation. Due to odd genetic quirks all of you were born with it will be cheap but dangerous to rejuvenate the lot of you. About a third of you will survive the treatment you have been given. The survivors will be physically in their early twenties in about six weeks. After a month or two more of bed rest and physical therapy boot camp begins.


Basically, it's a rough hellish 2080 and the PC are rejuvenated senior citizens fresh from boot camp. Most of these young-again elders were working class people with High School and Tech school educations. However, individuals with advanced degrees outside of the STEM subjects were grabbed as well. More valued people were given vastly more expensive and far safer rejuvenation treatments.

The PCs are now soldiers on a dangerous and unstable future Earth.

Note: The PCs are probably in the best health of their lives. If they survive the rejuvenation treatment at all they regenerated any lost organs and healed any long term effects of prenatal injuries, childhood illnesses, and any accidents and illnesses over their lifetime. They'll all start with the FIT and Rapid Healing advantages.
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Old 06-21-2021, 05:41 AM   #2284
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Note: The Lans'glutc could be self doomed. It's possible that they aren't objectively doomed at all. They could simply believe themselves doomed. Much like the Modern West, vast numbers of Western Intellectuals proclaim our doom, but the solemn belief in the "Doom of the West" is the greatest threat we face.
The Lans'glutc ARE self doomed. They could use their Bio-Tech to produce as many children as they want. They are just unwilling to raise them. The Lans'glutc are self absorbed, decadent hedonists and raising children is decades of hard work.

A long time ago the Lans'glutc made themselves sterile as a Zero Population Growth measure, a No Child Policy out of control. The Lans'glutc are now psychologically incapable of undoing this. Or maybe they just don't remember how.

Instead they are seeking immigrants. Not geographic or cultural immigrants but genetic immigrants. People who are willing to become Lans'glutc and find their replacements that way.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:58 PM   #2285
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Default Re: New Sci Fi Setting Seeds

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Once again I'm lifting ideas from other people's stories.
That's what RPGs are for - to steal stories. Theft is the most sincere form of the RPG art. The Four Components of Classic RPGing are pencil, paper, dice, and a file to scrape off the serial numbers from the source material.
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Old 06-22-2021, 02:56 AM   #2286
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Default Re: New Sci Fi Setting Seeds

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That's what RPGs are for - to steal stories. Theft is the most sincere form of the RPG art. The Four Components of Classic RPGing are pencil, paper, dice, and a file to scrape off the serial numbers from the source material.
Exactly Iīve read a couple of Fantasy and SciFi novels, several thousands in fact, and I know well how often I said to myself while reading " Hadnīt I read the same plot not from another author before ?"

To be fair most plots were known much earlier, wasnīt there a ancient liberian who proved to his ruler that every novel theater plot had been invented long ago?
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Old 06-22-2021, 11:19 PM   #2287
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The Stars Are Right: So yeah. Lovecraft's stuff was more or less true. The Great Old Ones were awakened, humanity was nothing more rodents or insects by comparison yadda yadda. But Lovecraft didn't really give humanity enough credit. Human civilization was destroyed, at least on the surface of the Earth but humanity? Oh humanity still existed in nooks and crannies on Earth of course. After all, how much luck does humanity have in eliminating rodents and insects?

What's more by the time they got their wake-up call, humanity had already escaped the bounds of Earth. FTL was a pretty terrible thing that sometimes drove the weak minded mad if they were not kept sedated or cryogenically frozen but even so, humanity spread from world to world, battling or negotiating with Mi-go, Byakhee, Fire Vampires and the Elder Race, but we evaded extinction, and abandoned our illusions. Vermin we might be, but we will not be eradicated for as long as the stars still shine. And one day, the Great Old Ones will return to their slumber...

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Old 06-23-2021, 08:17 AM   #2288
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Default Re: New Sci Fi Setting Seeds

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The Stars Are Right: So yeah. Lovecraft's stuff was more or less true.

<SNIP!>

And one day, the Great Old Ones will return to their slumber...
It's a compelling campaign seed.

There are a number of CoC scenarios that take this exact stance. They read well, and I think they'd make excellent scenarios, if my group played regular CoC.

End Time Cthulhu (1993) - Uses CoC 5th Edition. Old Ones have risen on Earth, the Mi-Go are trying to contain them, and a small UN colony on Mars is hanging on by it's finger nales.

Cthulhu Rising (2008) - Uses CoC 6th Edition - Earth and her nearby colonies in a 23rd Century Mythos future informed by Alien and Blade Runner.
Jovian Nightmares (2008) - A sourcebook for Cthulhu Rising
Once Men (2008) - A sourcebook for Cthulhu Rising
Myth(os) Busters (2008) - A sourcebook for Cthulhu Rising


The Cruel Empire of Tsan-Chan (2010) - 3000 years in the future, one human empire stands against a world where the stars came right. The problem is, the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods own the Empire as well. This one is horrible and strangely compelling at the same time.
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Old 06-23-2021, 04:47 PM   #2289
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It's a compelling campaign seed.

There are a number of CoC scenarios that take this exact stance. They read well, and I think they'd make excellent scenarios, if my group played regular CoC.
A friend of mine played in a CoC/Star Trek game with hints of that (though I vaguely think the stars around Earth may not have been right, yet), called something like 'Hailing Frequencies of Cthulhu.' I don't think any of it was posted online, though.
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Old 06-24-2021, 08:32 AM   #2290
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A friend of mine played in a CoC/Star Trek game with hints of that (though I vaguely think the stars around Earth may not have been right, yet), called something like 'Hailing Frequencies of Cthulhu.' I don't think any of it was posted online, though.
Based on TOS and some TNG, that's certainly a crossover that makes sense.
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