Vir's Archive

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As the System Turns (Content, Collaboration)



I love this picture.  


I had a skype session last night with a member of one of the boards I frequest (hi Alexander!) who had some thoughts on TDE.  The session was quite productive, and as I went to bed I made a couple of decisions that are going to shake up the setting as it stands.

First off, Alexander pushed me to think a bit more locally and figure out the level of tech and connectivity the average person has in TDE.  I thought this over last night and this morning and the more I think about it, the more I think that cybernetics, augmented reality, and biomods will all be fairly commonplace.  This gets us to a very wired society, but without having to push into transhumanism or the singularity.  I'm starting to get a feel that the technology of the setting is a bit like cyberpunk, without the 'punk or dystopia.

Alexander asked about artificial intelligence.  On the whole, AI does not exist - its all augmented human brains and "smart" programs doing the heavy programatic lifting.  There will be one notable excpetion to this rule - another source of potential energy to break the setting.  We will get into that later.

Then Alexander noted that he felt Mars would be the jumping off point for colonization of the System, not Luna.  Thats fascinating.  I can see where the argument comes from - the major effort for getting to Luna is to escape the worst parts of Earth's gravity well and overcome the friction of the atmosphere.  Once you are to Luna, its mostly a matter of a little extra reaction mass and time and you are at Mars -- which has a lot more resources and a real atmosphere to play with.  The best Luna offers is proximity and some supplies of He3 and limited supplies of ice.

I'm really starting to lean towards Alexander's point on Mars vs Luna.  What I think I am going to do is pick the Commonwealth, whole hog, out of Luna and plop it onto Titan/Saturn.  Luna becomes a backwater for most of TDE's history - a place for military bases, mass drivers, and some He3 harvesting.  Mars was the jumping off point for colonization - which is why it was rapidly built up the way it was.  However, once Mars got its independance, Earth lost a lot of its infrastructure resources for maintaining its colonies and has embarked on a crash program to make Luna "the new Mars."  This adds a bit more tension to Mars/Earth and makes Luna a bit of a boomtown in 2191 - lots of construction and optimism.

The other historical conflict that came out of Alexander's points was the Jupiter/Saturn conflict.  Alexander felt that Saturn was a better location for mining volatiles back in TDE's past.  Again, I can see his point.  Distance is a problem for Saturn, but its radiation and gravity wells are siginficatly less onerous than Jupiters'.

So, building from that, I think there has been a historical economic rivalry between Jupiter and Saturn.  Both were settled in the relative early days of colonization with an eye to getting volatiles and rare elements back to Earth and Mars.  Different companies and different interests threw their lots in with Jupiter or Saturn depending on their priorities, processes, and resources.  In the end, Saturn "won" in the sense that the Commonwealth was formed with Saturnine entities at its core (the Commonwealth will still include stations and polities from around the System, but it is most populous and headquartered around Saturn).  Jupiter volatile interests have dwindled as fission and antimatter have become more commonplace - leaving the hundreds of colonies and stations around Jupiter balkanized.

Saturn is where people go to make money.

Jupiter is where people go to get away from everything else.  

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I really like these developments -it gives the System of TDE a bit of a dynamic history, while also providing some good ideas for campaigns.  Alexander's ideas are really good and pushed me to rethink some of my assumptions - merci.