Saturday 18 June 2016

The Backwards Mechanics

This is all a bit inspired by looking at my notes post moving house - ive got room to sort and display stuff I haven't seen for 5 years before i started this blog. Oh and check out the megastucture space dungeons of

In my SF setting the colonies are kept backwards and lower tech. Initial colony ships were not quite the speed of light. They arrived, settled down and at best got a signal from earth possibly decades after they were sent. Colony leaders thrived on isolation. Modifying colonists was cheaper than terraforming and helped create unique local identities.

When Terran gunships arrived hundreds of years later in some cases announcing they were back under Terran control this did not go down well. Most had made very little technological change from the computer autofac templates which built them everything and kept them slaves to the same tech.

So the modern gunships arrived with improved FTL drive, FTL coms, anti gravity and improved weapon systems the colonies were forced to buckle under.

This is a sampler of some of the tech differences for personnel (im using BRP).

In my setting Template one tech finds FTL travel remnants of past races rather than discovers it

Template One Tech
This is also called frontier tech
Traveller 2300, Alien, Star Frontiers

Mostly caseless ammo versions of 21s century projectile weapons made cheaply. Gyrojet weapons have larger rounds with multiple ammo types the best have selector clips which select certain ammo types with a loss of capacity and favored by lawmen. These weapons are usable in vacuum, underwater and have many non lethal ammo types like shokk, tangler, gas or Armour piercing high explosive heat seeking for anti vehicles. Lasers cost the most, have less ammo but have impressive range and space performance. High energy fuel cell firing impulse weapons are supplanted by plasma weapons except when cost comes into play. Sonic non lethal stunners develop more lethal disuse or material disrupting models but mostly for defensive or police use. Gauss weapons firing slugs, needles or explosive bolts appear but are not as cost effective as caseless weapons.

Body Armour
Ballistic cloth body suits are common durable explorer wear. Rigid plastic, ceramic and metal plates can be added. Laser resistant coatings (ablative or reflec) are possible along with stealth options to resist target seeking homing ammo. Basic armour is the cheapest and most common reflecting caseless slugs being the most common and the risk of specializing in more exotic defenses is mostly not worth it.

Wheeled tracked and hover and GEV are the most common used still. GEV vehicles rely on speed and ECM devices rather than heavy armour, Vector thrust, Airship gasbags and jets are common with helicopters still being used as cheap. Chemical rockets are still used for reaching orbit but atomic torch drives can reach speeds limited by survival of human crew. Interceptors for high speed pursuit and rescue have crew modified for high g movement and breath fluid making them able to out speed any ordinary transports. Drones are far more effective at high acceleration and manouvers.

Star drives are titanic one use devices that aim and fire themselves on routes set by unknown elder races. They initially only do about one to four times FTL. Later versions make multiple larger jumps of hundreds of LY and drop off colony ships which have the older style one use drives to scatter the colonies. Jumps take years of calculations and little deviation is possible.

Template Two Tech
Also called colonial or commonwealth tech
Mid to high traveler, Star Trek, Starwars

Self propelled ammo has evolved to the point where weapons and microfactories assemble mission specialist rounds. Some select a warhead, a guidance system and a fuel to suit a mission and assemble it preferably before combat. Sniper and artillery work better than frontline troops initially. Later versions assemble each component for the exact mission with weapon computers selecting the optimal round. Plasma and laser ammo are possible types with nano fuel cells. Energy weapons become more affordable with better ammo capacities and truly rechargeable batteries rather than spending a fuel cell (which super heat and can endanger operators). Selectable mode lasers can choose from classic bolt to automatic pulse or a constant "scribble" beam. Lasers com in non lethal shock beam, high energy tissue explosive and less lethal versions.  Sonic weapons also become more deadly and with variable fire modes. Gauss weapons become more feasible with hyper velocity fire. Gravitic tech replaces gauss but is even more expensive.

Body Armour
Improved materials make more versatile personal smart suit body armour and gravitic tech leads to force feilds. Smart armour can reconfigure itself to threats and force field generators can specialise in anti missile EM fields, anti kinetic or anti energy types. Grav shutes can act as parachutes and are even safer. Atmospheric adaption are more flexible too.

Anti gravity skimmers or various tech partially supported by anti gravity improve speed and saftey. Gravitic based inertial dampners and force screens allow easier orbital and hypersonic speeds. In space the human body is less of a limiting factor.

Scout ships then gunboats begin to find the old colonies and a FTL radio is developed that takes weeks or months rather than hundreds of years. Later carriers transport smaller ships and interdiction ships can make lesser ships unable to jump. Jumps are difficult to navigate and fast jumps are dangerous. Early teleporters with base station to base station travel over short distances like orbit to surface to planet might be possible at the extreme.

Template Three Tech
This is the hypothetical next development in the colonial era hinted at by aliens and secret developments. In the future Solarians assert domination over the commonwealth, establishing star gates to the core worlds before finally sealing the Sol system behind interdiction fields and disappearing into legend. Larry Niven Ringworld and Ian Banks culture novels. Traveller ancients would fit this too.

Intelligent weapon systems can reconfigure as required and even allow personnel to shoot down starships from planets. Convincing the weapon to do so is another problem. While not intended as weapons personal AI units might use total conversion of mass to energy or dump hyperspacial mass into real space if needed. Individual AI's have affected planetary magnetospheres to cause destruction by flipping planetary poles but these apocalyptic cases are rare and such escalation is poor form. More subtle modes of combat are employed by preference.

Body Armour
Smart suits rely on force fields, can fly too and from orbit and some even draw additional systems from hyperspace or will teleport to safer locations. Stasis feilds can place suit in a time bubble which can resist almost anything except hitting a object with the mass of a sun or gas giant. Suits will do best to protect the wearer. Military models will draw battle suits from hyperspace each capable of ruining a planet.

Ground travel is quaint and nostalgic. A personal bubble is a more comfortable way to travel than by suit and can go beyond orbit, some even into hyperspace. Such a bubble if stranded could attempt to place passenger in stasis and terraform planet with nanites or in worse case modify passenger instead. Mostly would go into stasis and send a hyperspace SOS. Some might just withdraw to hyperspace entirely of needed. The bubble pod mostly maintains a hyperspace link to the AI's of home but this is not always practacle or desirable.

Instant FTL radio is possible but there is some interfearance and jamming is possible. System to system gates are built and massive interdiction engines make such gates the main use of commerce. Large warships can open gates and carry smaller ships through with them like a mobile gate. Some vessels encase themselves in a bubble of hyperspace and can travel unimaginable speeds and can plot course adjustments on the fly. Building megastructures like a Dysons Sphere and relocating it to hyperspace becomes possible. Gates from plant to planet would be established making space travel redundant. Teleporters would be common.

Whats all this mean?
The plan would be to have players live through many epochs. Over aeons humans would spread over the galaxy and forget about Earth. Most aliens would be modified human stock and the aliens would be really weird like Hivers (Traveller) Pentapods (2300) and lots of bugs, blobs, machines and worms. Many backward planets would be template one or worse. Many pocket empires or civilizations at template two might compete. Template three beings would mostly leave clues as to what they were up to long ago or leave handy things like a star gate. Exploring wrecks and searching for ancients would be a major campagn theme. Hiding you most advanced tech might be essential so as to not alert other advanced beings or to have grubby backwards people try and rob you.

Many cultures might become totally dependent on auto factory templates regressing to worshiping machines with no hope of understanding them like 40k.

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