Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mythos Space: Everyday Technology of The 51st Century (part 1)

The setting of Mythos Space embraces the views of the "future" from the perspective of the 30's, 40's and 50's as well as inspiration from the French science fiction movement of the 1970s. Its a setting firmly in the "Atomic Rockets" genre, tinged with industrial grit, Cold War style paranoia and fear of Socialist "isms" such as Fascism and Communism, and the can-do attitudes of the post-war boom.
As a part of this, the settings technology incorporates elements from those eras, but don't always include technologies that we take for granted. This is explained away as a result of the rising of R'Lyeh and the war with the awakening Old Ones.
Some thoughts on the settings technology:

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!
-David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Most people in the 51st century have access to technology roughly equivalent to the mid to late 20th century (TV, telephones, projectile weapons, automobiles etc) though usually with high tech twists to let you know its the future. So its not just a Car, its a Turbo-Car! Gamemasters and players are encouraged to use as many sci-fi buzzwords that they can.
Out in the colonies such as the Bai Hu Sector and others, tech levels can vary considerably due to availability of resources, environment and other considerations. Colonies must either depend on their corporate employers, or make do. Often colonies adopt a melding of tech levels.
As a part of the Grit and Vigor RPG, characters have an option to play Inventors. As this is a setting for that up-and-coming game, I preset the technologies of the setting to accommodate this. An inventor can create Plausible or otherwise existing technologies on his own given parts, time and money. Implausible Technologies are things that are either mostly theoretical or specialized items normally only available to the super-rich or to Mad Scientists. Modifiers are included as part of rolls required by Inventors.

Plausible Technologies:
Atomic energy, atomic bombs, atomic power plants, biotechnology (drugs), cold-sleep, colonies on planets and moons, data pads, electronic brains (see computers), food pills, starships, vacuum suits, explosive bullets, heat rays, infra-red photography, robots, radar.

Implausible Technologies:
Androids/Gynoids (-2), cloning (-4), virtual reality (-2), flying cars (-2), hyperdrive (-6), digital cameras and small portable video cameras (-4), invisibility ray (-4), touch-screens (-2), unmanned satellites (-4), unobtanium processing (-6), orbital towers (-8), teleportation rays (-8).

Robots are clunky mechanical beings, made for simple functions and commonly seen in colonies and on larger spaceships. They are form equals function in design and generally look like semi-humanoid vehicles or vending machines. Robots are mindless for all intents and purposes and lacking in any kind of self motivation or discretion. Robots have no rights and can be bought and sold as such.
Androids and Gynoids are a different matter than Robots, though most common folk will often mix the terms (which is seen as racist amongst Androids and Gynoids). The term Android refers to robotic humanoids of apparent male gender, while Gynoid refers to humanoid robots designed to look like a human female. Though these beings are robotic in design, they are extremely sophisticated, and have thoughts and emotions of their own. Such beings are produced via advanced experiments in Computer Technology (see below) and and are considered miraculous, even by their creators.
Androids are sentient robots that resemble males, while gynoids are sentient robots that resemble females. Android or Gynoid characters modify their attributes as follows; Str +1, Con +1, Wis -1, Cha -1. They are constructs, and so are immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic magic, ability damage and drain and energy damage and drain. They do not need to eat, sleep or breathe. However they do not heal naturally but must be repaired using either the Electronics or Mechanics skill (GM's discretion), the results of which are the same as a Treat Injury roll. An electronics tool kit or mechanical tool kit are required. Androids suffer half damage from electricity, and have a natural armor class of 12. Androids and Gynoids can imbibe potions and receive the benefit of them.
Androids usually speak English and might know virtually any other language. They can advance as Fighting Men, Rogues and Daredevils.

"Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain." -Arthur Weasley
The networked computer systems that we take for granted in our present age are not so prevalent in the 51st century. The rising of R'Lyeh and the start of the first Mythos War brought mankind into opposition to powerful hyper-spatial entities that have a distressingly easy time disrupting and exploiting silicon-based electronics (something to do with crystals) and causing no end of trouble. Because of this, computers that are in use can be individually powerful, but are almost never networked with one another. This means NO INTERNET, at least not for average Joe's. Similarly; A.I. is more limited being housed in hardware or in the form of Android or Gynoid form (see above).
So what does this mean for the setting of Mythos Space? Well for starters the characters will have to get up and do real research if them want to learn something.  Personal computers will either be BOOKS or clunky gadgets that are probably attached to a base or spaceship. If a computer IS networked it can be expected to come under assault by things from hyperspace (and de-bugging those will be a BITCH!). Really advanced computers will almost always be the product of mad science and/or sorcery and subsequently alive and free-willed in some way.
Several non-human beings have found ingenious (and often disturbing) ways around this issue. Of special interest to the Tsan-Chan Empire, the Mi-Go augment their computer systems by using organic brains (brains in a jar) that are linked to otherwise normal computers. This along with psionic access to the Akashic records, can produce the equivalent of a supercomputer. Trade agreements with the MiGo has allowed Imperial and Corporate technicians to produce rough equivalents, though the brains in use have a distressing tendency towards megalomania...

This material is using the Grit and Vigor roleplaying Game by John Stater. John has been kind enough to allow me to see the playtest version of the rules, and this gives me more than enough to begin work on the Mythos Space setting. 

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I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan