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Old 11-29-2020, 10:59 AM   #11
tshiggins
 
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
... um, I'm going to read this in more detail later, but I think I should point out that there's already a write-up for the Irari, in GURPS Aliens, and also in the 4e conversion for it at GURPSLand.

(SNIP)
Okay, that's funny.

I haven't looked at GURPS: Aliens in, quite literally, more than a decade, and I hadn't recalled those aliens even existed.

I'll take a look at it, just so I can more easily follow along in this setting as you create it, and maybe occasionally contribute something that's actually useful. :)

<Goes and looks>

I actually like my version better, honestly.
The IQ +2 is a huge advantage in a sci-fi campaign, and you can get the same results with more targeted advantages, without making a race into a bunch of uber-generalists.

(Why, yes. I do belong to the Cult of Stat Normalization. How could you tell?)

I'm not sure Extended Lifespan is worth it, but okay, it helps balance the psychological disad load I gave them.
As for the vulnerability, I would swap that for a racial HT-1 [-10] for their more fragile skeletal structures, but given the other limitations I gave the version, a 30-point vulnerability is no longer needed to reduce the point cost, really.
In retrospect, I'd also add Post-Combat Shakes [-5] as a racial feature. It fits pretty well.

On the other hand, if they have sufficiently advanced science, the Vulnerability would have mitigators available in the form of cybernetics or exoskeletons, so, "meh".

<Back to the regularly scheduled thread>

Anyway. Carry on. Nothing to see, here!
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Last edited by tshiggins; 11-29-2020 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 12-04-2020, 11:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

Psionics in this setting

Psi here is frequently Path/Book Psi Powers (briefly summarized, these are psi abilities modeled as Path/Book Magic, rather than the Magic As Powers system from the Psionics books; Magery 0 is Psionic Aptitude, Magery talent is Psi Talent, and Path/Book Adept is Psi Adept; being 'talented' in a particular power often means having an Aspected limitation on Psi Adept, and/or having a high skill level). Without Psionic Aptitude, getting psionic rituals to work generally requires maintaining an extreme emotional state, enough to give a -5 penalty to skill.

Path/Book Psionics in this setting tends to be Effect Shaping; regular psi abilities are rare to uncommon (partly depending on species), and are sometimes the result of using the same ritual often enough that it 'becomes a part of you' (those who have a lot of abilities in a specific Path/Power might also have the usual Psi Power Talent for it). They may also be instinctive, which is common among sub-sapient life (which most often have a single set of abilities, perks, and skills per species, usually all from a single power or a small number of powers; surprises do still happen there, though), but far from unheard-of in sophonts (e.g. the Irari psychic Gadgeteers).

'Charms' in this context would be conditional rituals in which the physical charm is part of the condition. 'Fetishes' would be items that astral entities have anchored themselves to (whether by choice, persuasion, or force), or psychotronic 'astral cages.' A 'mystic symbol' might be a fetish, a psychotronic generator, or a psychological crutch like Dumbo's feather.

Note that the core skill having a lower difficulty does not makes Paths or Books any easier - they're still Very Hard even if the core skill is Easy (e.g. Singing [HT/E], Hobby Skill (Role-Playing Games) [IQ/E], or Mental Strength [Will/E]). The attribute of the core skill does usually determine the attribute of the Paths or Books, though there are exceptions to this. Some core skills will have unexpected prerequisites and/or complementary skills; Autohypnosis and Meditation are nearly always complementary for the core skill, even if the style doesn't mention it, and are common prerequisites for the same reason: The purpose of the core skill, the Path or Book skill, and the ritual technique, is to focus the unconscious mind on the intended psi effect. (In a few rare styles, mostly among the Coeb'lds and some humans, the user needs to get the attention and help of astral entities to accomplish much of anything - in those cases, Spirit Communication or the equivalent is the usual core skill, and probably the base ability, as they aren't exactly using Path/Book Psi.)


Psionic disadvantages have been known to occur. They generally seem to be psi abilities that are harmful to or inconvenient for the user, e.g. Frightens Animals (generally Telepathic or Biokinetic) or Weirdness Magnet (nearly always Probability Alteration). They are generally found by the Irari to be either an indicator of psychological problems, the result of unfortunate genetics (like allergies), or some form of psionic attack (what less advanced cultures would call a 'curse') on the individual, or a group. Mitigators and treatments for such disadvantages exist, though sometimes it takes a while to find the right one, and sometimes there just isn't one that will work for you (Doylistly, it depends on what the GM and players have agreed to). Interestingly, having psionic disadvantages with no psionic advantages to compensate is rare enough that it only seems to occur from psionic attacks... and such attacks have been known to accidentally awaken psi abilities in response.


In the context of healing, note that 'instant' healing is rare to non-existent in this setting. Rather than translating Cure or Cure Injury, use some variant of 'Affliction (Advantage),' usually some level of Regeneration with Extended Duration, and translate that. The ability uses the same techniques as Cure Injury. Cure Disease works as normal.

Example:
Accelerate Healing, 28/39/60/106/156 points for levels 1-5.
Skill: Accelerate Healing [Will/H].
Statistics: Affliction (Advantage: Regeneration (Slow), +100%; Extended Duration (1 day), +125%; Biokinesis, -10%; Contact Agent, -30%) [28]. This is changed to 'Regeneration (Regular), +250%' and 'Extended Duration (5 hours), +80%' at level 2 [39], 'Regeneration (Fast), +500%' and 'Extended Duration x10, +40%' at level 3 [60], 'Regeneration (Very Fast), +1,000%' and no Extended Duration at level 4 [106], and 'Regeneration (Extreme), +1,500%' at level 5 [156].

GMs may wish to modify the Extended Durations, and may want to forbid or further limit levels 4 and 5 (I would; I only included them because I thought it likely that people would ask about them if I didn't); as it's written, the above version would be Path of Biokinesis-2/-3/-6/-10/-15 for levels 1-5. For Fatigue Regeneration, some psi techniques may be appropriate (and levels 4 and 5 are more appropriate for that than for HP Regeneration), or a variant starting with Fit and Very Fit (both with Extended Duration) might work better.


Astral Projection works slightly differently from the book, in this setting: Contrary to the 'The Inner Astral Plane' text box (GURPS Psionic Powers p28), exceeding one's time on the inner plane does not result in death - so long as the physical body is alive, you will painfully be dragged through the barrier and snap back to your body when time is up, but arrive with 0 FP. Also, the Near-Death Projection perk ('Astral Projection Perks' text box, p29) seems to be a Feature that every sapient being has in this setting, though in most cases, they either reincarnate not too long after, or drift into a realm of the inner plane that corresponds to an afterlife that they believe in (that is willing to let them in; some are quite surprised by where they end up, in any direction).


Continued next post.
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Old 12-04-2020, 11:42 PM   #13
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

Cats natively have a few Astral Projection and ESP abilities, generally including some level of of Astral Sight (with Astral Hearing) and True Sight 1, or just True Sight 2. They also tend to have Astral Travel or Dream Projection. Some other animals also have such abilities, though goats and sheep are often oddly Susceptible to Psi (an Occasional threat; the penalty applies to whatever one is resisting with, not just HT). No Earth animals have currently-known psi abilities that are both non-sensory and affect the physical world (apart from occasional instances of Probability Alteration), though some cats are suspected of being able to teleport when not being observed.

A number of animals on Irar show some psychic abilities, largely ESP, Probability Alteration, and Telepathy; one rare, monkey-like species on Irar is a catalyst creature (Pyramid Vol 3 #29, pp19-22), generally awakening and boosting Meta-Psi abilities. No lifeform native to Irar has displayed Astral Projection (other than Near-Death Projection), Psychic Vampirism, or Teleportation abilities.

The Iassa, or 'Dreamhunters' (Pyramid Vol 3 #29, p21), native to the Southern continent of the Coeb'ld homeworld, are the most populous of several catalyst species that exist on that world.

A less colourful but more robust phenotype of what appears to be an Iassa (raise average ST & HP by one, other stats remain the same) was found on Gormel, which seems to have far fewer catalyst species. One recently-discovered species of flying chameleon native to the Great Islands of Gormel was at first believed to be a catalyst creature, but was soon determined to be something even stranger: A Psychic Vampire and Telepath, with a form of venom that acts like a catalyst drug; the creature repeatedly returns to steal whatever powers have been induced by its venom, as well as feeding on the target creature in other ways.


The various sophont races express ritual psi in different ways, some of which are given more detail in the individual homeworld entries:

The Irari mostly use Autohypnosis or Mathematics as core skills, with a few consolidated styles with most of the known paths (powers), and some still-practiced historical styles which may have more or fewer. Gormelites have many martial-themed psi styles, with the core skills often being Combat Art skills or Meditation; one odd group has a Book style (which was quite surprising for the Irari), based on Autohypnosis. Most Coeb'lds who demonstrate psi abilities at all use psi drugs, and in many cases, have no active abilities without them (though they may have Talents or even Perks for them). They make less use of ritual psi than the Irari or Gormelites, having other effective powers more often, including variants of Astral Projection and Spirit Communication; those that do manifest ritual psi are more likely to use Ritual Magic or similar oddities as their core skill, though there are some who make use of Meditation or Combat Art skills.


Humans are weird, according to Irari parapsychologists. While the other studied races might have many more styles than the Irari do, they still tend to have a small number of core skills (even if the styles mean they have a lot of required specializations, they are specializations of a few identifiable skills), and a small number of clearly-defined Powers/Paths, with some overlap of Paths between styles, and a few strange outliers. The humans, by contrast, seem to have too many strange outliers: types of core skills include Dreaming, Esoteric Medicine, Fortune-Telling, Computer Programming, various pseudosciences (specializations of Weird Science, Alchemy, Herb-Lore, et cetra), and even art skills (mostly as variants of Symbol Drawing, but not all), as well as the skills that the Irari are used to seeing from the Coeb'lds and Gormelites, while complementary skills and prerequisites could be just about anything. Likewise, the humans have too wide a variety of Books and Paths, and the Paths are sometimes quite strange (to the Iraris' experience): For example, the Path of Fire in many human ritual styles that have it includes not only obvious abilities like sensing heat, igniting & controlling flames, or even teleporting fuel to a fire, but quite often things that are only conceptually related to fire, like the seasons of summer or autumn (usually not both; also, some Seasonal Paths contain things conceptually related to 'elements' associated with that season), influencing feelings of lust and other 'hot' emotions, making new things, inspiring resistance against tyranny, or burning out diseases and other impurities. Then there's that guy in New York City who developed a spider-themed Book style and seems to also be a Gadgeteer, because he's obsessed with a series of illustrated stories...

The Irari strongly suspect that humans not being genetically-engineered may be a factor in this, as well as being the likely cause of humans very rarely showing psi abilities without a catalyst. The fact that the humans, Gormelites, and Coeb'lds each have a surprisingly wide range of Psi Adept variants (mostly odd limitations) compared to the Irari has been tentatively hypothesised to be either a mammal thing or a primate thing, though they want more data on this.


(The Irari do not know how the Memer-and-Saret express ritual psi, or even if they do, and know even less about the yet-uncontacted races.)



Thoughts?
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Old 12-06-2020, 06:35 AM   #14
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

Something that's probably going into the Path/Book Psi thread later, but I thought I'd put it here first to see if anyone has opinions:

The way I recommend handling Effect Shaping ritual psi on a character sheet is that you decide how your character normally uses it (and thus what level of the advantage makes sense), use that to work out the normal default, and then if you need to use the ability at a higher or lower level, the technique gets a penalty or a bonus.

For example: John has Autohypnosis 15 (he learned it before awakening psi powers, for the mundane benefits) and Path of Telepathy 13. He normally expects to implant simple suggestions in people within a short distance, so level 3 works fine. That's 30 points, so the default is Path of Telepathy-3. He buys it up to his skill level.
John intends to blackmail Congressman Barnes, and since Barnes is always ready to shake hands with a potential donor, John sets the Suggestion ('Seduce <this woman>,' in this case, with <this woman> being an image of John's partner Mary, who is in on the scheme, in the dress that she's going to wear) as a conditional ritual to go off when he touches the Congressman; since he can get skin-to-skin contact with the mark, he prepares the ritual as if it were Suggestion level 1, which has a penalty of -1 - this gives him a +2 bonus to his effective skill with the ritual.
Later, John needs to give a more complex suggestion to a target that he isn't going to be able to get as close to, but he can at least be in the same room. Complex suggestions require Suggestion 5, which defaults to Path of Telepathy-5. So, John prepares the ritual with a penalty of -2 to skill (set to go off when he bites a piece of peppermint candy), and hopes that he can get close enough not to add any more penalties, because an effective skill of 11 worries him. If he were a more skilled ritual psi, he would look for other bonuses, but that won't occur to him until after the ritual goes off.


Thoughts?
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Old 12-09-2020, 10:34 AM   #15
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

Common Irari and Earth Psychotronics

An interesting example of Irari psychotronics is the catalyst machine, of which the most primitive (and least reliable) example in the public database is about TL5^ or so: when you put it on your head and turn it on (or touch it while it's turned on, or connect to it through a psiberface system, or get hit by a beam from it, or are within an energy field that it generates, it depends on the design), it has the same effects as a catalyst drug: you experience intense hallucinations (or dreams, if you're already asleep), and wake up with one or more psi abilities and some skill in their use. Irari-designed catalyst machines most often provide Psionic Aptitude & some form of Psi Adept, and sometimes seem to grant Psi Talent (generally the latter was there all along, just unused due to the lack of active psi); whether this is a factor in the devices or a campaign setting switch is up to the GM. Those who gain Psionic Aptitude also tend to gain a style to use it with; the core skill of that style will generally be one the subject already knows well, but in some cases may be telepathically copied from someone nearby (or not so nearby), or even generated by the subject's subconscious. Occasionally, individuals with catalysed psi abilities will also develop psionic disadvantages, which will usually be related to the new abilities (or they'll have abilities with annoying limitations, or both).

Home-made psychotronics are fairly common on Earth, especially at first, when factories have not yet been built. Psi-interface tech rapidly becomes popular for VR games (and, with appropriate psychotronic generators, computer hacking); the psiberface port & helmet are around 1/10 the cost in the book (GURPS Psi-Tech p12). The use of psiberface technology for online gaming eventually creates some concern due to the fact that some catalyst machines can be used over the internet, as long as the subjects are using psiberface equipment. A greater concern for governments and many businesses is the aforementioned use of high-end psiberface systems for computer hacking; some of the psychotronics businesses develop to defend against psionic hackers ('psykers' or 'deckers') are of great concern to the courts, and for sophont rights groups (formerly 'human rights' groups).

Other common psi-tech includes biointensifiers (lots of these; Psi-Tech pp23-24) and other anti-disease equipment, astral barrier-field generators (Psi-Tech p18), psionic mind shields (Psi-Tech p29), psi-amps (Psi-Tech pp12-13), devices with three or more types of psychotronic sensor (Psi-Tech pp18-19, 22, 24, 28, 29-30), the aforementioned catalyst machine, many types of psychotronic generators (Psi-Tech pp13-14; the most common examples provide Psionic Aptitude and/or Psi Adept), psychokinetic or ergokinetis microchip etching/layering devices (much easier and cheaper than a full-size cleanroom), and psychokinetic 'anti-grav' or 'gravity control' systems. One of the things that the Irari find odd about some humans is their tendency to build some psychotronic devices into hollowed-out wooden cylinders, or add a wood veneer to cylindrical devices - or even to carry a wooden prop that does nothing while the psychotronic device is in something else, often worn as headgear, some form of jewelry, or a flat, concealable box. Others, often calling themselves 'Jedi' or 'Sith,' carry force swords or force batons that may also contain a psychotronic generator for Psi Adept. A few have psychotronic generators rigged to produce various sounds, because 'that makes it sonic.'

Psionically-responsive smart materials and metamaterials can in some cases blur the line between psychotronic and biopsionic technology, and are more often found as components in other technology than as devices themselves. Probably the most common example of such materials in isolation is Empathic-Display Materials, or 'mood matter.' Usually found in clothing or jewelry among humans (though the Irari first used it as body-paint, and some humans have worn it that way, or as makeup, hair-colouring, or even in contact lenses), this substance changes colour and sometimes pattern as the wearer's emotions change (generally, solids suggest one dominant emotion, and patterns suggest several emotions of similar strength). This gives the wearer Easy to Read 2 while it's on, but only to observers who know the colour/emotion list for that particular product (wearing items with different colour/emotion lists, or making clothes from materials that have different lists, has become fashionable in Paris). Observers who know the wrong colour/emotion list can make serious mistakes, of course. A more complex example is the 'mood music' component in some new portable music players, which uses an electroresponsive mood material to read your emotions, and then the computer arranges your playlist based on selections you've programmed into it (like, you tell it you want to listen to Slayer when you're angry, or to Mozart when you're feeling contemplative). The use of empathic and telepathic technology (and abilities) in police investigations is something that Earth lawmakers struggle with, though the Irari have long accepted it - along with the right to shield against such intrusions.

Psychotronic weapons are present in the public archive largely because the humans would try to weaponize it anyway, and to reduce the number of experimenters who seriously hurt themselves or someone else. Most psychotronic weapons that the Irari have developed tend to be less lethal to start with, though. Mind disruptors (Psi-Tech p27) and stun batons are the most common, though force swords were too useful to leave out. The Fear Extractor (Psi-Tech p26) is not in the public archive, nor are a number of other nasty devices, nor are any Strategic Psychotronic Weapons (the archive given to the British government does contain a few), though creating them by scaling up existing items and experimenting is possible. Psi-Bombs (Psi-Tech pp28-29) are in the public archive, though the Terror Psi-Bomb is not, nor is the 250-lb Psi Bomb. The Karmic Collector (Psi-Tech p23) is also left out of the public archive.

It should be noted that biointensifiers and other life-saving technology, as well as mitigators for serious psionic disadvantages, are among the few items in the public databse which the Irari put in the internet that are not limited to one TL behind, only being a step or two behind within the same TL (though they have lower-TL examples to help the scientists and engineers understand what they're looking at), and the theory the tech is based on is completely up to date.

I'll have other posts on psi-tech out some time later, including psi-drugs and maybe other bio-psi technology.


Thoughts?
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Old 12-11-2020, 10:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

This is probably complete. The other two planet/culture articles I have so far are not, but a lot of progress has been made.

Irar

Major Civilizations
Irari (unitary, voluntarily subjugated).

Great Powers
British Star Empire (representative democracy, see notes for CR).

World Data
TL: (6+3)^; Mana level: None
Gravity: 1.01 G
Population: 3.7 billion

Notes
The Irari have had a semi-functional world government (akin to a badly-run planet-wide university) for quite some time, as they had little interest in fighting each other, and needed a unified budget for some really expensive lines of research, like early space travel (imagine if all the money spent on WWI were instead spent on an earlier, multipolar Space Race and Moon Race, starting with nearly the same technology as Earth around the 1910s... and then later they founded something vaguely like the League of Nations, so that they could combine their efforts). Government service is largely treated the way many humans treat jury duty, chosen semi-randomly for a job that one tries to get out of. Effective CR varies, but is usually around CR2 or CR3 (no regions show CR4 outside of military bases or incarceratory institutions, but some places have CR1 or even CR0), and the British are not planning to go higher than the average, only to be more consistent.

They have a range of robot servants with virtual intelligences (what TransHuman Space would call NAI, bordering on LAI in some cases), but no true artificial intelligences (what THS would call SAI), and are not at this time sure that true AI is possible. Generally, if a task can be done by a robot without too much trouble, and does not need to be done by a sophont, there's a robot to do it, whether specialized or not.

They have no professional police beyond randomly selected administrators and a few part-time constables (often also randomly selected), but most cities have a number of volunteer SCIENCE! Heroes, enthusiastic field scientists testing theories & inventions relating in some way to law enforcement (sometimes they are paid in bounties, or local magistrates and such will give them regular pay so that they have more time to focus on the job); there are Gadgeteers and other inventors on both sides of the law, as some Irari are lacking in ethics, have an ethical model that doesn't agree with the common good, or just get a little too enthusiastic about field tests. Calling them superheroes and supervillains is not terribly accurate, as few of them (mostly criminals who just haven't been caught, yet) maintain secret identities, and the other tropes are mostly not in effect (beyond the police being few and ineffective in this context). Punishments are often variable and experimental, though they've entirely given up on lobotomy doing anything useful (even execution is considered preferable, and they don't want mad scientists to decide that they won't be taken alive), and few judges are willing to sentence anyone to other forms of brain surgery, either. Prisons are few in number, and often involve lots of robots as guards (which sometimes leads to escapes due to the robots being reprogrammed or used as components, one of the main reasons prison is unpopular); sentencing convicts to psychological institutions or strictly monitored offworld laboratories (CR4, maybe CR5 in a few cases) or colonies (CR4 at most, if environmental concerns require it) is more common, as is community service.

All flying vertebrates on this planet are pterosaurs, and many landbound species are also pterosaur-descendants. The largest flyer on the planet is the size of an aeroplane (SM+5), and the smallest is the size of a hummingbird (SM-10). Several of the smaller pterosauroids, both flying and landbound, occupy most of the 'vermin' niches that rats and mice occupy on Earth, while the 'cockroach' niche is occupied by, well, greenish cockroaches. The largest non-pterosaur land predator is, oddly enough, a long-legged, short-faced crocodilian (up to SM+3). Mammals and mammaloids exist, but tend to be fairly small. A few species of tree-dwelling mammals resembling apes or monkeys are popular pets, including one variety that humans have nicknamed 'the Flying Squirrel Monkey.'

The existance of a third gender seems to have evolved naturally around fifty million years ago. However, proto-Irari with larger brains (about as large as those of Homo erectus at that point) and dextrous hands appeared in the fossil record with no warning about 1.7 million years ago, with the nearest apparent relative having only the 'thumbs' outside their wings, and a brain not much larger than that of a grey wolf.

The need to use weapons while in flight lead, once the technology had developed enough, to the creation of weapons mounted on the back or chest (originally, a form of crossbow, invented so long ago that the name and nationality of the inventor has been lost), and later to smaller weapons carried on the head. Generally back-mounted weapons are fired over the shoulder, while chest mounted weapons tend to be worn so that if they have recoil, it passes through the muscles around the breastbone - through the strongest part of the chest, in other words.

For ritual psionics styles, the Irari mostly use Autohypnosis or Mathematics as core skills, with a few consolidated styles containing most of the known paths, and some still-practiced historical styles which may have more or fewer (some of which have core skills or complementary skills that modern Irari find strange or quaint). Expert Skill (Psionics) is a common Complementary Skill for the modern styles. The usual Paths are Biokinesis (includes Psychic Healing & Psychometabolism), Cyberpsi (includes Telepathy, Animal Telepathy, and Dream Control), Electrokinesis (includes Magnetokinesis), ESP (lacks Spirit Communication), Meta-Psi (includes Anti-Psi), Photokinesis, Probability Alteration (includes Prognostication and Visions), and Psychokinesis (includes Sonokinesis - see Pyramid 3/29 pp5-9). The consolidated styles will generally have five or more of these Paths, though they may have some variation (e.g. Telepathy being its own Path containing Animal Telepathy and Dream Control, or Ergokinesis being a single Path, rather than split into three). Astral Projection, Psychic Vampirism, and Teleportation are powers that they have not yet integrated, as they are too new to the Irari (or possibly are too old, and long forgotten). Psi Adept tends to have Aspected limitations for specific powers, and sometimes Accessibility limitations, Backlash, Nuisance Effect, or Temporary Disadvantage.

Historical styles had different paths: For example, Cyberpsi did not exist before the development of early vacuum tube systems nearly two centuries ago, and many early styles have Psychometabolism and Biokinesis as separate Paths. Other styles have Telepathy as part of Biokinesis, or as a separate Path. Some even split Telepathy into several Paths, including one ancient style (estimated to be more than 5,000 years old) that's basically all Telepathy - the core skill is Meditation, and it is divided into the Path of Animal Telepathy, Path of Communication & Sense, Path of Defence, Path of Dream Control, Path of Mind Control, and Path of Offence. Some styles have Sonokinesis as a separate power, sometimes also containing Pyrokinesis and Cryokinesis, and other abilities related to microscopic & nanoscopic vibration. A few surviving historical styles place what the modern Irari call Meta-Psi abilities into two paths: Anti-Psi and Pro-Psi.


Thoughts?
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Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 5/25/2021: September, 2014 article has been posted.
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Old 01-09-2021, 05:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

The most tragic of the three planet entries that I've been working on.

Gormel

Major Civilizations
Gormelites (diffuse).

Great Powers
None, though the Commune of the Great Islands (feudal representative democracies, CR1-3) is a rising power.

World Data
TL: up to mature TL7^ in the most intact settlements (with TL8^ and TL9^-TL10^ heirloom tech), falling as low as TL0^ elsewhere; Mana level: None
Gravity: 1.2 G
Population: ~197,000 (estimated to have been 5-6 billion before the War, mostly the ancestral race, who are called 'Gormellians,' to distinguish them from the Gormelites)

Notes
This is an After The End world, that was still declining when the Irari discovered them. City-states are about the biggest polities on most of the planet, with few of them effectively holding more than a hundred square miles of useful territory (even if their territorial claims are sometimes much bigger), and those territories are mostly shrinking. Most of the population lives in small, walled villages (mainly made from the less bombed out and less radioactive pre-war settlements), or wandering as raiders and hunter-gatherers. The Gormelites are in some cases fascinated, in others angered or even frighted, by these other worlds whose libraries and universities never burned, and whose factories were never bombed to rubble - if they've heard of them at all, and are inclined to spare a thought for them from the daily job of surviving.

The Final War was thirty-five years ago, twenty years before the Irari found them. It is believed that the war started due to a computer error. Many of the oldest surviving Gormelites are desperately recording everything that they recall from before the Final War, and a number of others are carefully protecting the surviving records, but much has still been lost, and is still being lost, due to time, damage, raiders, and paranoia. The Irari estimate that if they'd found the Gormelites ten years later, they would have lost half the information that they currently have, and if they found them a hundred years later, nearly everything would be gone, and the Gormelites as a whole would be reduced to illiterate barbarism.

Due to the effects of the war, it is not unusual to find Gormelites who have lived to adulthood that have Resistances or Immunities to one or more metabolic hazards.

There were three belligerent factions in the Final War, none of whom can really be called 'the good guys':
  • The Royalists: A loose alliance of mostly a few big nations, most of which were constitutional monarchies (what legal limits the monarch had on power varied, but none of them were absolute monarchies, and all of them had either elected legislatures, elected judiciaries, or both), along with a few republics that were usually former colonies of one or more of said monarchies and still shared some ideology (or hated a nation in one of the other factions). They made the most use of genetic engineering, and were the ones to engineer the Gormelites. They were the richest faction, had the most religious freedom, and were the least racist (they cared far more about whether you were loyal and law-abiding, or how rich or poor you were, than the shape of your face or the colour of your skin or hair). Freedom of speech & the press were often limited in that one could not criticize the monarch beyond 'they listen to bad advice,' or criticize monarchy as a concept, though criticizing elected officials was usually permitted. They were the most democratic faction of the three, although slaves could not vote - OTOH, they had some other rights in the Royalist nations. In the last peaceful period before the Final War, when it looked like the Final War might not happen, the Royalists sold or gifted thousands of 'surplus' Gormelite children to several neutral nations, including the Commune of the Great Islands. Highest per capita gun ownership - in many Royalist nations the procedure was 'spend money, take oath to sovereign, get gun,' though you needed to make a new oath for each legal gun you owned.
  • The Oligarchs: A close alliance of many smaller nations with a shared culture (a form of what Infinite Worlds calls 'clan/tribal,' with the oligarchs being the leaders of powerful clans; many of the clans also served the roles of corporations, but did not operate like them, being more like family businesses writ large). This faction made the most use of robots and psiborgs, and the least use of strategic psychotronic weapons, generally preferring nuclear or chemical weapons of mass destruction. They claimed to be the most democratic faction, but were really more in the middle - one needed to be part of a clan to have citizenship, and thus to vote, and it was very hard to be adopted into or marry into a clan if you were not of the 'right' race; this was only faction where racism was important to their ideology. They genetically engineered a servitor race similar to the Helots (GURPS Bio-Tech p67) in the last few decades before the Final War (none are known to survive). Slaves' rights varied widely between the members of this alliance, though few gave them as many rights as the average Royalist nation. They had the lowest per capita gun ownership - your clan head owned the guns and decided whether you could have one, mostly based on how much they trusted you; of the three, they were the only faction not to have firearms training as part of standard education.
  • The Theocrats: A single large nation in which the priesthood and religious hierarchy of the state religion was the state: All military officers were the equivalent of chaplains or acting chaplains, all local and regional administrators were also the local or regional religious leaders (e.g. the village priest is also the mayor and the justice-of-the-gods-peace), et cetra. Priests and priestesses at each administrative level voted for the next level up. This faction had the largest population of the three (1.5 to 2 billion people), the poorest education & economy, and made the most use of nasty psychotronic weapons (some of them strategic in nature). No religious freedom: either you were part of the Faith and thus a citizen (no matter where you lived), or you were not part of the Faith and thus a foreigner who was required to Go Somewhere Else eventually (even if you lived there long before the Faith annexed your country), could not own land or run a business, could not marry a member of the Faith, could not adopt children, et cetra. They had many non-religious freedoms (as long as you were part of the Faith), and were the only faction to forbid & condemn slavery. Technically speaking, they had no crimes, only sins. The Faith forbade exclusive homosexuality and asexuality, but not bisexuality (since bisexuals would still 'do their duty' to contribute to the population). They were not strongly racist by the time the Final War happened, but racial divisions still clearly existed - one contributor to international tensions was that the 'right' race for the Theocrats was one of the 'wrong' races for the Oligarchs, and vice-versa; this got worse in both factions as tensions rose. Gormelites were considered abominations (genetic engineering was a mortal sin), and they tended to kill infants who showed genetic problems that in other nations would simply be corrected. The Theocracy was the least democratic faction, as only the priesthood could vote - in theory anyone who passed the tests and swore the oaths could join the priesthood, but in practice some of the tests were subjective enough that whether one passed or failed was open to interpretation; the families or friends of important priests & priestesses were more likely to be interpreted as passing than not. Second-highest per-capita gun ownership - the stereotype was that rural people owned guns & used them (mainly for hunting wild animals and fooling around at the shooting range), while urban people did not, but learned to use them in school.

For those of you wondering how a late TL9^ culture still had slavery, don't think of field hands picking cotton, think of the things that the victims of human trafficking are used for. (This is the least evil specific example of modern-day slavery I can find, and it's still evil.) They mostly didn't kidnap people, since they could buy them openly, often from prisons or to pay off debts; on the other hand, there were very few unemployed homeless in these nations, and those that were tended to hide from the authorities in fear of what would be done to them if they were caught. Chattel slavery was basically illegal in most of the Royalist nations, slaves there usually had rights and were often contracted to be freed after some period, or after their debts were paid off (and the tax agencies often monitored owners of debt slaves fairly closely to prevent cheating); no-one was born a slave in the Royalist nations, and no-one 'too young to work' could be made a slave (though what age counted as old enough to work varied). Chattel slavery sometimes happened in the Oligarch states, including children being born as slaves. Some slaves, mostly in the Royalist faction, had significant administrative jobs and high Status, like ministeriales in the Holy Roman Empire. Abolitionist movements never really took off in two powerful cultures, partly because by the time they could have, no-one wanted to look like they were giving in to the Theocrats (who expanded their nation partly by encouraging conversions to their faith, taking over when enough of the population had converted).
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Old 01-09-2021, 05:41 AM   #18
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

The most inhabitable (and civilized) 'continent' since the war is a collection of thousands of islands of various sizes, many of them geologically active, and often with mountains and canyons that make wheeled transport difficult (like the Indonesian Archipelago, but much bigger and a bit further north), with an estimated population of over 30,000 Gormelites. Until the Final War, over a quarter of the islands had been ruled by a nation called the Commune of the Great Islands ('Commune' is a somewhat arguable translation, but is literally accurate, at least; functionally, it was formed as a federation of pre-existing kingdoms and other polities that saw itself as 'a commune of nations' rather than 'a commune of people'). The region was not part of any faction in the Final War, and thus less effort was spent destroying them, as the main factions focused on annihilating each other; the islands still lost every city and significant military base, and many towns. The Commune effectively still exists (citizenship can be inherited or granted, and some Gormelites were citizens before the war), and is thus technically the most powerful nation on the planet, though its institutions are mainly inoperative, and its international influence minimal. The islands of the Commune have a population estimated to be greater than 12,000 Gormelites, and a few hundred Irari scientists and aid workers (the latter are scheduled to be replaced by humans, once enough volunteers have been trained for the local conditions and culture, while the former will be supplemented by human scientists with the same caveat); this makes it the most populous vaguely-united region on the planet. Slavery was not a strong part of this region's culture after around late TL3^, though the Commune did not make it illegal until about twenty years before the Final War.

Common heirloom technology from the Gormellians includes big, stompy, piloted robots (which may have been gladiatorial vehicles or construction equipment before the Final War, adapted since then for real combat), battlesuits, vehicles (some of them having a very Mad Max/Car Wars sort of look), factories making a variety of TL8^ and TL9^ items (including Mitigator drugs for the Gormelites' mental disadvantages), various ballistic and energy weapons (most surviving examples are of the 'low maintenance, durable, and easy to recharge or to get ammunition for' variety, or are made in a still-working factory, or both), and rare, experimental TL10^ items. Many VI-driven robots of various types (a few quite sophisticated, into what THS calls 'Low-sapient AI') are still active, though some are less 'heirloom technology' and more 'environmental hazards' or 'strange and disturbing encounters.' Often, they are still following the last orders they were given by dying masters, and no-one alive has the command codes to change that.

The Gormellians were oddly slower to develop space travel than the Terrans or Irari, being nearly at TL9^ before they had people walking on a moon. Some of their orbiting stations, spacecraft, and extraplanetary bases did survive the Final War, but they could not sustain life for very long - the crews either died in space, or returned to Gormel and died there. It is possible that there may be some survivors that the Irari have not discovered, possibly even in suspended animation, but this is currently deemed unlikely. Some extraplanetary VIs do remain active, including one asteroid mine that is still waiting for their growing stockpiles of rare metals to be picked up.

There are a small number of Gormelite mutants who lack one or more mental disadvantages, or who have different ones, but they are often few and far between. More numerous (though still a small fraction of the surviving population, and becoming smaller until the Irari arrived) are those who use mental disciplines like Autohypnosis, Breath Control, or Meditation (or various Combat Art skills, thanks to the Body Discipline perk) to mitigate their inherent mental problems, largely due to having been trained to do this from early childhood, by parents who were also trained the same way (at this point either the parents or the grandparents were probably trained this way by members of the extinct ancestor race). There is some evidence to suggest that the Gormellians had more natural berserkers than the Gormelites do - the mental disciplines were originally developed to help them, and were adapted to deal with other issues later.

From the records that the Irari have found, it seems that the earliest known ancestor of the Gormellians (and thus of the Gormelites) appeared in the fossil record roughly 1.7 million years ago (around the same time as proto-Irari appeared on Irar), with no discernible relatives on-planet; the skeletal remains of this ancestor strongly suggest that they were a member of the genus Australopithecus (or Paranthropus, if the two are separate, which is a matter of some debate), possibly a phenotype or modification of P./A. robustus. The Gormellians had thinner fur than the Gormelites, being more like humans that way. The last known survivor of the Gormellians was an insane psiborg brain (GURPS Psi-Tech pp39-40) who self-destructed after conversing with Irari explorers; there is little chance that others remain, but it is not impossible...

The largest extant land predators other than the Gormelites themselves consist of a few species that appear to have evolved from early horses (mostly SM+1, bordering on SM+2), two that appear related to deer (SM+0), and a wide variety of rare and sometimes unique horrors created during or not long before the Final War (not always intentionally). Common 'vermin' niches are occupied by land-lobsters (SM-6 to SM-12; the tail is normally curled in, and used for jumping), horned gophers (SM-4 to SM-7), and tiny (SM-5 to SM-9) goats. A common pet (and pest-catcher) is a variety of bear a bit bigger on average than a housecat. They are likely to become popular on Earth, due to an instinct that the Gormellians engineered into them, making them gentle with children (which includes many small, sufficiently primatoid life-forms, including young humans).

The Gormelites have a range of martial art styles, a few of them new, but more of them surviving examples or adaptations of forms developed by their progenitors. Smasha (GURPS Martial Arts p210) appears to have been developed since the war, though it may have been inspired by earlier 'street' or 'brawling' styles. Another one, translated as 'Berserkergang,' or more poetically, 'To Take Very Enthusiastic Walks' (see GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles pp15-16; the style has a number of local variations) seems to be a composite style created not long before the Final War, based on a few earlier styles centering around using Berserk. Battlecraft (Yrth Fighting Styles pp14-15) is an ancient style - an early form of it seems to date from the Bronze Age, and it is believed to have been practiced more-or-less continuously until falling out of use during TL4^, being revived by re-enactors and researchers around TL7^. Styles similar to Aikijutsu were common among many police forces (see Martial Arts p149; generally, add one Melee Weapon skill and sometimes Guns or Beam Weapons to required skills, Handcuffing, Judo Art, and Retain Weapon to required techniques, and Body Discipline & sometimes Teamwork to perks). A few styles resembling Ars Clemens (Yrth Fighting Styles p14) survive, though based on ritual psi rather than the spell system (e.g. Thaumatology is replaced by Expert Skill (Psionics), Special Exercises (Magic Resistance up to 5) becomes Special Exercises (Psionic Resistance up to 5), et cetra).
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Old 01-09-2021, 05:42 AM   #19
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

Gormelites have many martial-themed ritual psi styles, with the core skills often being Combat Art skills or Meditation; one odd group has a Book style (which was quite surprising for the Irari), based on Autohypnosis - they live around and protect one of the biggest surviving libraries, that of a boarding high school with a pretty decent wall around it (they also claimed the contents of a nearby bookstore shortly after the Final War, and took over an abandoned mansion and its library on a hill nearby when they found a tunnel leading to it from the basement of what was once one of the girls' dorms; the mansion's attic now serves as a watchtower). Many styles place Cyberpsi in its own separate Path like the Irari do, in some cases the most prestigious Path in the style - this is mainly because these abilities help with operating mecha and other computer-controlled devices, so 'nobles' are often cyberpsis. In particular, a common Netrunning variant called Machine Sychronization (Maximum Duration increases first, then activation time decreases) is vital to making effective use of big, stompy robots in combat. They have a range of Psi Adept limitations, including 'Not When Berserk, -20%' or 'Only When Berserk, -20%' (obviously, the same advantage cannot have both), as well as Environmental (e.g. 'Only in areas of high background radiation,' or 'Only in a city') Gadget limitations (most often of the 'psychological crutch' variety), and so on.

Ergokinesis is not always split, as a few styles treat two or more of Cyberpsi, Photokinesis, and Electrokinesis as a single power. Telepathy is usually separate from Electrokinesis/Ergokinesis, though some styles have Cyberpsi as part of Telepathy or ESP. Psychic Vampirism & Psychic Healing are the same power/path in the known Gormelite styles (known to the Irari, that is) that have either. The known styles do not appear to have Meta-Psi, though some styles have a Path of Anti-Psi, and some individuals have a few Anti-Psi abilities.

One Cyberpsi ability that a very, very small number of Gormelites have been rumoured to have (and that so far has not been used with ritual psi) is a form of Invisible to Machines that resembles Phantom 'Mech Ability from BattleTech, though it does not necessarily require a mecha to use (it can be used to hide a mecha or other vehicle, but only if the user is also using Machine Synchronization). This ability can be defeated by manual targeting, or by grid square elimination ('Flatten everything in grid reference 5-epsilon. Time on target.') - the problem with the latter is that it requires levels of resources, organization, and cooperation that are rare on Gormel.


Thoughts?
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Old 01-15-2021, 04:00 PM   #20
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Default Re: [Psi/Space] Irar, the Jewel in the British Crown

A short racial template/metatrait:

Gormellian

Attributes

ST +1 [10]


Quirks

Irritable. [-1]


Total: 9


Notes

The extinct ancestor race of the Gormelites. Physiologically, the Gormellians resembled humans with less pronounced noses and otherwise 'slightly uncanny' features (though not necessarily Unattractive). They had a higher incidence of the Berserk disadvantage than humans or Coeb'lds, though not enough for it to be part of the template.
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