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Old 02-22-2010, 01:51 PM   #1
Max Schreck
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Default Mars, maglevs speeds, and gauss guns

Yeah, spurious title, I know, as it won't all that much about maglevs or gauss guns. This thread is a response to this one, where Phil Masters suggested that we could move the discussion to the Transhuman Space forum proper. So now I did.

Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
Multiple books in a line can end up with differing emphases thanks to different writers (and playtesters, sometimes). A line editor will do what they can to keep some degree of consistency, but ultimately, two books written by two different people will look different, unless the line editor goes crazy and/or power-mad enough to rewrite the whole thing practically from scratch. And sometimes, later books quietly patch something from earlier volumes that's turned out to be buggy.

TS is a long way from having the most egregious examples in the industry, heaven knows...
Sure, sure, and I am not saying it's Marvel Universe continuity or anything; I just noticed a slight difference in ambience and technological assumptions in In the Well compared to the core book.

Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
Any particular points as examples? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just interested for professional reasons. (Feel free to take this or other discussions to the TS forum, by the way, folks; I only started the thread here because I thought that it was most about 3e Vehicles.)
It is mostly just a feeling, and I know that doesn't amount to much when discussing these things. Mars just feels different as described in In the Well. I realize that not a whole lot of space was devoted to the individual locations in the core book for obvious reasons, so of course In the Well will fill in some details not covered in the core.

However, the way I read it, in the core book Mars was described as a new frontier for mankind, and the planet was dominated by the Chinese. "Rust China" was even a nickname for the Chinese colony.

In the Well has a Mars that is much more tamed that I originally thought when reading TS, and the terraforming seems to be much more advanced than proposed in the TS book.

Furthermore, it doesn't seem very Chinese. Every nation and their dog has a presence on Mars and the Chinese don't seem all that dominant. There is still New Shanghai and the Martian Triads, and it is still called "Rust China," but Mars in In the Well feels more like a huge patchwork of different power blocs, where no one has dominance rather than the pride of the Chinese space colonization program.

The tone of In the Well also seems subtly different from the more sombre tones of the rest of the TS universe. There is a biomod called the "Whirling Claws o' Death" or some such, and there are many wuxia elements in the descriptions of culture (yeah, okay, that's Chinese) and in the vignettes, e.g. the petite but athletic girl, who jumps over a police officer and smart-alecky remarks: "Bye, bye, gun-jin!"
Other than that, we have the "Millionaires of Mars" who duke it out in the dunes in giant mecha or other machines of destruction or the faux alien remains buried in the sands.

Again, these are not tangible things, but rather a feeling I have that Mars is subtly different as described in In the Well compared to how it is described in the rest of the TS setting. Yes, I know it doesn't get described much outside of In the Well, but still.

If you want something more concrete, the tech feels more advanced in In the Well. As an example, there are some gauss and rail guns that seem more advanced than what the core book had led you to believe. In the core book there is the 15mm e-mag autocannon, which is huge and bulky, and probably primarily intended as a vehicle and cybershell killer. In In the Well some gauss light machine guns and gauss grenade launchers are described. My impression was that electromagnetic weapons of that size were further out.

Basic TS weapon technology seems to be equivalent to 4e TL9 (caseless firearms, smart electronics, smart ammo, heavy gauss weapons, either heavy lasers or light, low-power lasers, mini-missiles, etc.), not counting swarms and AI hunter-killer cybershells, of course, whereas gauss LMGs and e-mag grenade launchers are 4e TL10.

Anyway, I can't get much closer than this. It just feels different, and maybe I just read the TS core in another light when the setting was new, and therefore the newer material presented in In the Well feels a bit off to me. I am not saying that this difference I feel is something that is objectively there in the text.

I had just imagined Mars rougher, less terraformed, but more Chinese and without the infrastructure to support bored billionaires playing a giant version of Robot Wars in the desert.

Maybe it boils down to that Mars in In the Well feels like 2230 (or more), rather than 2100.

Sorry for the rambling, I am not thinking all that clearly right now.


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china, mars, technology, terraforming

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