Reviews and Ramblings
MIDDENARDE - PART 7 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 6 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 5 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 4 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
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GM Startup Guide by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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Hc Svnt DraconesWould you believe there's still more fluff/setting bullshit to crunch through?Setting [#]
FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 5
11:59pm EDT - 7/31/2015
This section starts out with a glossary of Space Future Terms, which are basically a bunch of tiny fluff snippets to tell us more about living in the SPACE FUTURE, most of them are dumb and pointless, but a few of them are dumb and hilarious
, and I'll paste from those.
Did you know that in the Furry Space Future, stores are outdated? Instead of buying physical goods, you just buy limited-use licences to 3D print stuff... which actually seems like an alright idea for a setting where 3D-printing/nanotech forges replace most traditional construction. Though it's partnered with the bizarre idea that you can only buy said blueprints in certain areas, called "BuySpots." That seems weirdly anachronistic. If you've done away with physical stores, why still tie purchases to a location?
Space suits are now called "Suck Suits," which sounds more like something related to some really bizarre fetish.
A physical surface that contains digital components capable of processing information and displaying it. Almost every piece of glass, metallic or reflective surface in a Vector community is a smart surface.
It seems weird that HSD's society is so much more "civilized" than EP's, everyone's on board with the hypercapitalist thing(so far, anyway, there's an antagonist chapter later on which I guess might include filthy unionist scum and others who want to share wealth), because it appears to be a perfect playground for anarchist/anti-establishment pranksters. Make an infinite-use 3D blueprint for dildos and go swamp some corporation's "BuySpot" with dongs, hack an entire city to display nothing but your taint on every fucking surface. But no, everyone seems to have just mindlessly gone along with the whole idea.
When they were first developed, smart surfaces blared advertisements and followed Vectors around with digital salesmen to the point that the community as a whole demanded a stop to it.
Also, as much as EP is hostile to hypercapitalism, I think it displays it more realistically than HSD, because in EP, corporations largely have power over their employees, yet still have to avoid massive
scandals, since they're not invincible. In HSD, on the other hand, corporations instantly bow to the wishes of the public and their employees and seem to either have no actual power to throw around, or to be innocent of any real desire to ever abuse people, committing misdeeds largely out of ignorance rather than selfishness. Not to mention, did the corporations not need
the advertisements or anything? Could they just cut them with no harm to their revenue streams? Nope, must've just been on a whim that they advertised for stuff, since they could just cut it out at the drop of a hat.
Ledger: An autonomous investment system that works on behalf of each individual to make them a functioning part of the flow of commerce. Its profit offsets the cost of living in a society with chronic nickel-and-diming, and ensures a partial income. Ledger systems are not distributed after birth, cannot be bought, and cannot be traded. Their encryption relies on certain codes and programs only possessed by a handful of people in the universe, and the system itself operates on a constant basis. It is not updated, tampered with, changed or modified, which makes it easy to notice if someone is meddling with it. By and large, Ledgers cannot be hacked. They do what they do based on centuries-old equations that grow naturally with the inclusion of certain variables, and anomalies are very easy to spot. The systems themselves are contained within the sealed archives of the corptowns in which people are born, and might be accessible by one in every 10 million people.
I just want to repeat the whole "Ledger" thing because it's so fucking stupid. I love how it's "not updated" and "based on centuries-old equations," and clearly in the centuries since the start of the setting, computing power has grown massively if we've now literally made every fucking reflective surface a computer, and Transcendent Technologies surely has holistic crystal power quantum computers or something, yet despite this program never being updated
, and being based on ancient equations
, apparently no one has ever thought to use this massive flood of computing technology to either exploit bugs in the system's equations or crack the encryption?
Also known as the Human Aural Resonance Effect, this phenomenon is the largest piece of unaccounted-for evidence known to Vector-kind that perhaps their understanding of their own history might not be all they thought it was. The human voice, specifically human singing, resonates in the Vector mind in an almost hypnotizing fashion. While Vectors can still function more or less adeptly in the presence of human singing, they become somewhat placid and susceptible to suggestion, and can even be calmed or manipulated if the right person is exerting the right pressures.
Very few uncompressed original human pieces have survived 700 years past the death of their world
When combined with the other curious discrepancy in the early days of Mars: the last of humanity choosing to die off or transform rather than push onward, this paints a disturbing potential alternate to the end days of mankind, in which they attempted to gain control of the Vector population, failed, and were subsequently killed off by the early Vectors themselves. It would mean an awful lot of early history was entirely manufactured, but it wouldn’t be the first time.
I want to point out that I have not read ahead at all, so if the book is setting us up for some sort of surprisingly rad twist where it turns out that everything we've read so far has been blatant propaganda bullshit, I'd be pleased, but I doubt it. If anything this seems more like "the humans were evil all along, only the furries have true moral purity, that's why hypercapitalism works for them."
The Shadow President is a single, faceless, nameless civilian that exists above the CEO. Each megacorp has one. Their job is as profound as it is simplistic: watch. Be the stopgap. Hold the corporate machine in check when it needs to be reined in, allow it to roam free when it doesn’t. Be silent and uninvolved while the business flourishes, but when it oversteps its boundaries, when it pushes too hard, bring the hammer down on it. It is suspected by those in the know that nearly every megacorp CEO assassination was only possible because the Shadow President determined that the CEO had to be stopped, and arranged it.
The nature of the order of succession is as mysterious as the people themselves, but it is suspected that the titles have been passed down from person to person for generations, carefully selecting brilliant individuals who can accomplish the weighty goals held before them. They’re geniuses, whose job is not just to keep the system from snowballing, but to use its assets in ways that will profoundly influence the universe while the greater machine worries about what this year’s spring fashion line will be. They walk the streets as normal people, see the effects of their titanic corporations, monitor their books and research, and silently weigh in their hands when it’s necessary. A slip of paper containing even one of their names would be worth billions. So far, no such document has been found.
In short, all those checks and balances, those distributions of responsibility and decisionmaking, such as shareholder councils and the like, don't actually work. What's necessary for corporations to act correctly and morally is a single, powerful CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY with ultimate power over them. At least they just decided to go, "UH, IT'S A MYSTERY" rather than trying to bullshit up a way in which none of these SHADOW PRESIDENTS would ever be corrupt assholes or fuckups. I also want to point out that the book describes one of the reasons to need the SHADOW PRESIDENT as being because the other entities controlling the company are too far-removed from the public, and can too easily seek safety in bunkers or in orbit if their decisions ever really piss someone off... so I want to ask you, what protection is better than PERFECT ANONYMITY?
At least people know who to fucking blame with the rest of them.
Next, we're on to locations
! Which starts out by describing that "skirmishes" ranging from "a couple of employees" to "a few hundred thousand" in size, happen with some regularity and often little warning. This is described as "worrying" to us, that is, us, the reader, and perhaps unsettling to us. But apparently to the people of THE SPACE FUTURE
, this is just how business is done and nothing to whine about, highly implying that it's just a matter of culture and not, objectively, a bad thing. I'm absolutely boggled by whatever thinking came up with this... and then it turns out that the "locations" section has a dire dearth of actual locations
, instead just describing types
of locations like "urban city" and "a big cave" with a single, sparsely-detailed example of some of them.
About the only interesting parts are a couple of incredibly wanky space-stations briefly mentioned, one for idiot furries with mythical-esque forms, who live on a big space station where they permanently LARP themselves into a delusion that they actually ARE mythical creatures, like dragons, sphinxes, etc. They're somehow described as "noble" and "self-sacrificing," even though I remember most mythical monsters as being selfish and concerned largely with wealth and/or stealing attractive human women. The other's for idiot furries who idolize being ~wonderfully one with nature~ and all live as feral predators on a single space station... with no mention of what they hunt there, are there other furries there who worship the glory of being prey that gets messily murdered as food for the predators? Do they hunt targets? Do the predators hunt each other? Of course, despite ~abandoning all technology to live beautifully one with nature~, they're somehow still a match for the hunters with plasma rifles and railguns who regularly visit to hunt them for sport.
Being feral does not make you stupid, and smart animals hunt in creative ways.
Gotta make room for everyone's
fursona, after all.
Blightspots are one of the few ideas in this book I actually like. Basically, growing bioships, like Transcendent Technologies does, is a tricky business. And sometimes, rather than forming correctly, they become a tumor, complete with the original ship's defenses and self-repair abilities, but now just sort of... spread across their construction facility(whether in space or planet-side), and aggressively resisting attempts to destroy them. But then again, I've got a soft spot for body horror type stuff.
After that is the bit that's about actual
, defined, locations, the various planets.Mars
Mars is incredibly dull, it's just Earth with taller trees, literally. About the most interesting part is the detail that Deimos was just casually demolished by automated debris-clearance machines in orbit, at which point I have to ask what challenges can really remain for players or anyone
in this setting if a fucking moonlet
can just be recycled for trash without anyone apparently noticing until it's too late.
The bit on Venus and its terraforming just makes me laugh, though, apparently it was a casual operation to increase the planet's rate of spin
and give it an artificial magnetic field to shield it from solar radiation, and so I repeat: What fucking challenges are left
? What technology even needs to be discovered? Faster-than-light travel seems to be about the only thing missing at this point. There's already a substance to make you immortal and planetary-scale engineering seems like a wave of the hand away.
During the course of the Venus terraform, the planet’s rotational speed would accelerate from one turn every 238 Earth days to an almost perfect 24 hour spin, in the opposite direction. Its core would be liquefied, its magnetic field restored, and its atmosphere stabilized.
When they terraformed the place, they were also fucking idiots, I'd note, deciding that what an awesome, habitable world totally
needed was herds of giant sea monsters and dragons
. Why yes, I would love to go settle on a nice, Earth-like planet where a giant, flying fucking goose
with scales might incinerate me.
Europa's somewhat interesting, since someone's actually bothered writing up a bit of local culture beyond "this is where all the corporations live" or "they like taking trips to Mars."(for Venus) With the Europans described as superstitious and, in fact, particularly in dread of Jupiter, the entire surface colony effectively going into blackout when Jupiter's in the sky, and leaving it ambiguous whether being farther out-system, more isolated, and dominated by a single, odd, corporate culture(Transcendent Technologies) is what's making them weird, or whether it's because the heart of their planet is full of ineffable alien artifacts.
Lastly, there's Ganymede, which is dull. It's just a generic space-frontier, a moon basically covered in jungle, and Earth, which is also dull, because it's got even less of a purpose in the setting than Earth does in Eclipse Phase. Earth in EP at least has a canonical reason to be scavenged-on, and a canonical number of scavenger inhabitants. Earth in HSD has half its surface literally covered in Whispers, the red gooey crystal shell covers half of Earth and extends almost all the way to the moon(and the entire moon is also covered), and apparently it's made of Whispers that can just wake up and murder people. So like, good luck visiting Earth, everyone who ever has, in canon, has fucking died.
But on the bright side, that taps out setting and lets us see how badly done chargen is, which I'll do next post.