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Blurb: A year ago, astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after the longest time spent in orbit by an American. On his trip, with Russian cosmonaut Misha Kornienko, he executed experiments designed to examine mysteries of the human body and mind. His discoveries often reached beyond science. In a preview of his forthcoming memoir, Endurance, available October 17, Kelly shares how his time in space informed his first year back on Earth.

Please don't neglect the PoD for Chronotech.

Ooh, I really like this thread. I find it so interesting to read about how others see themselves in a theoretical future society like this.

Disclaimer, I'm leaving Chronotech out for now because I haven't given it a proper in-depth look yet.

For me, the civilization is a tough call between the Masquerade and the Tao, but in the end I think the Masquerade has to take it. Their Core Values line up reasonably well with my own, they're a high-enough-tech civilization that I would be capable of achieving pretty much any augmentation I could want, and if I'm being totally honest here, I love their entire aesthetic. Masks are my jam.

The Tao gets strong consideration for appealing to me as an actor, history student, and LARPer; being able to not only live in a high-tech reconstruction of a time period I'm interested in, but one that's subtly altered to make everything simultaneously more dramatic and less dangerous sounds like it would be the experience of a lifetime. But in the end I think it loses to the Masquerade by virtue of its potential to become overwhelming after a while. (Side note, examining why I like the Tao just now gave me an idea for a new society.)

The Stardwellers are of course an appealing choice, but beyond being cool in general there's no "hook" that draws me to their culture the way there are for others. I like the Disciples for their spirituality and devotion, but it's not a big enough part of my life for me to devote myself to it exclusively. I would certainly look into getting one of their weightless sleeping chambers for my home, though. And then there's the Daoine and Nanori, who fall into a similar category of "extremely interesting and would love to visit, even for long periods, but probably not live there." In the case of the Daoine I could see myself just as likely to choose a Celtic-themed Tao world.

Societies are a bit of a tougher decision for me. As tempting as it is to say the Technomagi, as a huge B5 fan and one who secretly finds their aesthetic pretty cool, I know I don't have quite the mindset for their group. Something like the Breathstealers or Dancers seems more likely in appealing to my spiritual side; or the Instinct-Builders for my pragmatism; or the Musashi Flex if we approach the society as a hobby rather than something life-defining.

Assuming we do still have a metaphysical Import score incentivizing us not to go ham and jack every enhancement through the roof (maybe in this thought exercise, it just dictates how often circumstances tend to swing in our favor?), I'd like to put my capabilities somewhere around Biotech 3, Cognitech 4, Metatech 5, Nanotech 3, Stringtech 2. Still assuming the existence of Import, I'd probably stick with Professional or Master expertise, divided in some manner between Artist (acting and drawing), Athlete (HEMA), Researcher (Metatech), and Outdoorsman. Maybe some Localities with the Tao/Disciples/Nanori/Daoine substituted in there. Without worrying about Import, I'd probably spring for Omnicompetence.

Finally, my Core Values would probably look something like Anonymity 2, Identity 3, [Society CV varies], Diversity 3 (and Self-Preservation 5, of course).

I don't mind a reminder every month or so. No guarantees about speed, though.

Understood. Do you think it would be useful if I remind you of, and ask you for, this specific project again in the near future, and if so when ? I do not want to be pushy, but I'd hate if the PoD for Chronotech keeps falling through the cracks of your schedule.

I didn't, but thanks for the reminder! So many projects, so little time…

Hello, I hope you got pleasant holidays and found some time to work on the PoD version of Chronotech. I'd love to get some sweet PoD action for this book.

Slave meshes are illegal in nearly all civilizations, with the obvious exception of the Union. When they are used, normally it's done either by a well-meaning renegade sect as an attempt at criminal rehabilitation, or as part of a particularly dangerous spy network or operation; extraordinary circumstances calling for extraordinary measures. And then there are Slave Lords. Slave Lords are those who specialize in chaining fully-sentient minds to their will through the use of cognitech slave meshes in service to their own goals, normally wealth and power. Dozens of embodied beings and usually hundreds of dataforms are bound to serve their every whim, granting their master an unlimited amount of sentient processing power and time dedicated to serving their every whim. Rebellion is not only impossible, but unthinkable; obedience to the master's will provides the highest happiness for their pitiful subjects.

Needless to say, most Civilizations (and the Transcendentals of the Patent Office) react with horror and indignation towards the idea of this sort of slavery. The Independents, Stardwellers and Mechanicians in particular will send whatever force is necessary to eliminate a Slave Lord and liberate their property, but no extant Civilization will tolerate their actions. Even the Rationalist League's lords consider such meshes to be wasteful self-aggrandizement, though some external observers opine that the Rationalists only say that because they achieve almost the same results through genetic and social engineering. And while the Union's own meritocracy often display many Slave Lord-like traits in the management of their subordinates, they are implacable foes of outside Slave Lords, who use slave meshes solely for their own benefit rather than the good of society. Most Slave Lords have rejected the Core Values of their Civilization and either live on the fringes of society, establish their own colonies, or seek to take over Cargo Cult worlds; keeping a secret like this in a technological panopticon is nearly impossible. There is, however, a significant overlap with Organized Crime, and many Slave Lords got their start working for one cartel or another.

Benefit: A Slave Lord's chattels can be wielded as an extension of himself. When doing so, his collective act as Infrastructure I and provide a point of Reserve, but do not increase Tech or decrease Import.1

Core Value: Either Ambition or Control; a putative Slave Lord must pick one. Ambition is the desire to obtain more power and more resources, and to fulfill grand, megalomaniacal goals. Control, meanwhile, is an obsession with controlling one's surroundings and slaves. The latter is trivially easy for a Slave Lord, but that doesn't stop them from placing ever more rigid rules on their slaves, and the CV also helps when resisting attempts to make them give up their power.

Slave Lords by RamidelRamidel, 25 Dec 2016 04:50

So, the implication of this is that Stardweller missions usually either forbid or tax private electrical generation. Otherwise, Stringtech 4 individuals can get a home inversion generator, and if there's enough indie power plants, the marginal value of electricity will fall to marginal cost (zero), making private replicators and stringtech trivial to maintain.

Re: Stardwellers: The Poor by RamidelRamidel, 25 Dec 2016 03:01

Further notes:

Comparing how they mesh with my other two favorite transhumanist settings, Transhuman Space and Eclipse Phase: THS meshes quite well with OA although it requires fiddling with the latter's timeline. But it doesn't work too well with Eclipse Phase for multiple reasons, one of them being that (non-destructive) uploading is exclusively S:1 transapientech.

As for SA, it meshes very well with THS, even better it's 100% compatible without changes to either. For EP/SA, an important consideration is that they both have the same license. Their uploading tech translates between brain and digital easier than SA says you can, which has this to say in the Nonexistent Tech section:

"Brain Duplication by “downloading” someone’s
personality isn’t allowed. You can make an
imperfect copy using a mesh, which results in a
Persona Lens or you can make a perfect copy by
feeding the person into a replicator. One could
also make a very, very good copy by using a mesh
over the course of about 10-15 years."

This seems to fit Eclipse Phase to a T, however I actually feel EP does a good job of justifying their "no death" game mechanic with their descriptions of cortical stacks. The author of SA either doesn't agree or just hasn't gotten around to reading EP yet. Either way for a crossover preserving that aspect of EP would be important, so that statement can be disregarded.

Another thing that would conflict is obviously the psionics. But you could definitely change it so they're unknowingly akin to Technomagi, in fact I'd say it's heavily implied to be how it works if not outright stated.

The Prometheans in EP behind Firewall are obviously the Transcendentals.

Perhaps make EP the only civilization of SA that stayed within the solar system, and their cortical stack technology a Civilization Benefit. Only problem is it might be a bit too powerful compared to other civilization benefits, and so you might make it instead a thing all civilizations use. But I would think that would change the setting quite a bit, not sure though.

The whole Orion's Arm setting is heavily based off of Buddhism, while Sufficiently Advanced is not. This one reason, another being the different tech, that a direct crossover between the two would be difficult. As I suggested above though, you could simply make it Orion's Arm-like by having the building of singularity-level godbrains be a future event in SA. This would be somewhat fraught with tension considering the Aia, but OA has a relatively similar concept with ahuman ais.

However the early ahuman ais were much less capable than the Aia, indeed they were basically autistic, and the Aia are much more complex than even the archailects are said to be (not more intelligent though) and quite a bit more chaotic than any ahuman ais, so the simliarities between ahuman ais and the Aia is only superficial. One big important difference is that no pro-human equivalents of Aia stepped forward like in OA, but it's still a possible future. I would imagine if pro-human archailects got made in SA, they'd be more similar to OA's conception, i.e. much more ordered than the chaotic Darwinian nature of the Aia.

I find it difficult to imagine what shape SA would take if it had pro-human archailects like OA. Certainly it wouldn't look anything like Orion's Arm, except perhaps in broad strokes. It would probably still be a setting you could turn into a game better than Orion's Arm. :P

That's an accurate enough definition. I'd really recommend reading Freitas' books on nanotech, they're good.

I suppose the Stardwellers aren't perfect then, which is fine. They're only superficially similar to The Culture, who are more advanced socially than pretty much any other sci-fi verse.

I suppose a Culture-esque Society could exist in the Stardwellers, Core Value could be Freedom Should Be Free, they'd be nanocornucopians who want post-scarcity communism, which in a far-future liberal civilization like the Stardwellers might be more equivalent to being a left-wing social democrat today.

Re: Stardwellers: The Poor by MadScienceMadScience, 13 Dec 2016 20:42

No, it doesn't match that - it seems like "my body is not working the way I want it to" counts as a disease by that model., For the Stardwellers, you're guaranteed the ability to change your mind, but changing your body is still dependent on your ability to afford the cost of the changes (which can involve housing you for weeks in a vat as your body slowly changes).

How do the Stardwellers define "medical necessity" of body modification? Somehow I doubt it's based on Freitas' volitional normative model of disease (if you haven't heard of that, look it up, it's quite good). If not, in my eyes they end up looking pretty backwards in that specific area.

Re: Stardwellers: The Poor by MadScienceMadScience, 11 Dec 2016 12:57

First and most obviously, SA does not have toposophic levels like OA, at least not up to Cognitech 5, and as a result much of the technology that OA would call transapientech can be developed by what OA classifies as modosophonts.

Secondly and relatedly, where OA has achailects and lower transapients ruling most of the setting, those sorts of giant computers/ascended beings do not appear to exist in SA, outside of the Aia and Transcendentals. This is probably just a difference in social histories, looking SA it seems reasonable to suppose it didn't happen like in OA because of bad luck. My guess the Transcendentals Desired Future looks similar to OA in this respect, lots of newly ascended beings looking out for a revitalized (trans)humanity.

If they did exist, all technology that is implied to be in the future would've been developed a long time ago.

As far as Capabilities go:

Biotech: OA does not have immortality without treatments, and looking at the page of Superior genemods, they seem to be a solid Biotech 3. However, on the civilization as opposed to personal level they do have quite impressive biotech, just maybe not to the degree as SA.

On another hand, they do have asomnia, which while not explicitly to not exist in SA, if it did would've probably been mentioned either in the Biotech section or in the Needs box (one of the needs requires sleep). Although it could just be uncommon ATM like in OA.

Chronotech: This does not seem to be a thing that exists in OA.

Cognitech: Modosophonts in SA seem to get much better performance from Cognitech before hitting the toposophic barrier, due to it seemingly not existing. On the other hand, no giant superitelligent computers like in OA. The Stored sorta count, but they're still not as smart as in OA. So overall seems mixed.

Metatech: Overall Metatech looks much more powerful in SA. Psychohistory for example is impractical in OA even for the ascended beings, while it's a standard and highly effective thing for modosophonts in SA.

Nanotech: I'm not really positive, but they seem about on par, maybe.

Stringtech: While OA does have achailect level stuff like basement universes, overall its level of Stringtech seems much lower. They don't have most 4-5 tech, they do have transmutation but it's much less efficient. SA also has remote wormholes while OA only has local.

Another setting difference is uplifts. Uplifts are ubiqitous and important in OA, but if they exist in SA they're not as common or important, as they would've been mentioned in the Mechanicans' Humanity CV otherwise. But as with asomnia above, I prefer to to headcanon SA as being the same as OA in terms of uplifting ubiquity and significance, as I really like the idea of uplifting.

I'm sure there's a bunch of other stuff, but OA is a pretty big worldbuilding project so I'm only passingly familar with it.

I would choose to be in the Patent Office universe, as it's probably the biggest, most optimistic, and most advanced tech-wise SA universe.

And I would live with the version of the Nanori from Chronotech. That civilization is right up my alley.

For Capabilities, I'd choose Metatech 5, Cognitech 5, and
Chronotech 5 for all the useful thinking abilities, and Biotech 5 for immortality and cool stuff.

Stringtech 1 though as I can't see it as too useful and having to recharge would be a pain, although having inbuilt batteries would be nice.

Nanotech 3 is fine, dermal microbots sound so useful, but I wouldn't really need the massively enhanced supersenses or other junk of the higher levels.

I would definitely be Omnicompetent and with Temporal Expertise, and I'd pick up Satori for the Engineer/Researcher Biotech Professions.

For Societies I'd join both the Hyperevolutes and the Instinct-Builders.

Here's the other thing I did during National Game Design Month. It's not finished enough to publish, but it's finished enough to share.


RamidelRamidel 25 Nov 2016 13:47
in discussion Setting Discussion / Your Characters » Noelani

Name: Noelani
Age: 163
Neuroform: Baseline Dynamic
Civilization: The Harmonious Nations of Gaia
Societies: Peacewalker, Technomaga
Tech: 4
Import: 5

Core Values:
Self-Preservation 4
Connection 5
Peace 3
Mysticism 4
Universal Love 5

Biotech 3
Cognitech 4
Metatech 5
Nanotech 4
Stringtech 1

Comprehension (Interconnected Systems)
Empathy (Universal Love)
Magnetism (Religious)

Adept (Metatech)

Artist (Musical Composition, Tea Ceremony): 3
Crisis Control: 2
Locality (Gaians): 2
Media: 3
Metatech Engineer: 3
Metatech Researcher: 3
Political: 2
Religious: 3
Teacher: 3
Technomagic: 3

Notable Equipment: Nanotech Engineer and Outdoorsman Lenses, Kanaloa (Bonsai Familiar)

Personality: Noelani believes firmly in not only the interconnection between all things, but the responsibility that this knowledge grants: consideration for others, and for the effects of your actions, for you are part of everyone and everything, and vice versa. She is evangelical about her beliefs, and involves herself in contact expeditions to underdeveloped worlds ("Cargo Cult" is an insult that she will not use) to "improve people's understanding of the universe" (which means spreading Peacewalking and Gaianism; at first, she normally spreads a simplified version, as full understanding of Connection normally requires much higher tech levels). As a Technomaga, meanwhile, she feels a duty to integrate science and religion together, to use Mysticism to teach others about the truth of the universe around them, and to keep dangerous knowledge from those worlds not philosophically prepared to handle it. (You don't give inversion beams to worlds that aren't on board with pacifism. That's just asking for trouble.)

Noelani by RamidelRamidel, 25 Nov 2016 13:47

I'd go with them being a Cargo Cult. This option seems to adapt well to their environment mixing a postapocalyptic wasteland landscape with a few oases of relatively advanced urban civilization (by postcyberpunk standards) and patchwork technology they hoard, but they don't seem especially apt to improve upon nor expand. And their social system seems static and inflexible. All of this screams Cargo Cult for me.

I know old Stone Face would be completely outclassed by a lot of the setting, but aside from his high import, how would you model Mega City one and the other megalopoli in SA2?

Saw The Arrival tonight. I very much enjoyed it. It's pretty rare to get a good sci-fi movie at all, ever, so I'm pretty happy to have this one. As some other outlets have mentioned, it shows linguistics in a fairly reasonable way.

Spoilers below, click to read.

The Arrival by Colin_FredericksColin_Fredericks, 20 Nov 2016 03:45
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