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Core, the Autopilots, otherwise called Starship People!

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  • Core, the Autopilots, otherwise called Starship People!

    So here I am writing up a campaign setting using the Mirrors book & it's double-time-fun bits Infinite Macabre and Bleeding Edge when I get to starships. I wanted something MORE for starships since I have all of this LOVELY 2nd edition material to work with. So instead of four merits, I went and had a look at how vehicles were done. Nice for shuttles and starfighters perhaps... But not enough... So I went to treating them as one treats Spirits and Ephemera with Power, Finesse, and Resistance... Better, but I felt like something was missing. My roomie walks by, asks what I'm doing, and I go, "Writing up starships." And my roomie replies, "What, like our other ST wrote up his version of psychics?"

    Then, I had a horrible idea. A wonderful, horrible, epiphany... Further fueled by what I knew of from a combination of Outlaw Star, Warframe, EVE Online, Dreadnought, and Elite Dangerous; I am thus beginning a journey of monstrous discovery!

    But first, a problem to present. How does one break the hard lightspeed limit? Infinite acceleration? Sounds like a horrible recipe for time dilation, energy waste, and a wreck when you come across hypervelocity dust. So we delve into whatever-equivalent of hyperspace we can think of! Problem, most practical solutions are prohibitively expensive. Oh sure, stargates are a possible solution, but again massive costs for stationary solutions. We need EXPLORATION!

    Solution? Twist the BLEEPING laws of nature with people!

    By turning people into intelligent cores of starships and thus giving our space-faring vessels souls ready to break the silly speeds of light while simultaneously giving a measure of protection to the crew from the horrors of space! Oh sure, the new Core's minds and souls are now inextricably linked with their hulls and their psychological profiles might be a bit whacked from being over-exposed to the wondrous radiation of stars man was not meant to know, but that's a small price to pay for reliable shipping and handling! And maybe they wanted it in the first place? Maybe? ...Yeah, it's the Chronicles of the World of Darkness still.


    Very brief notes here.

    Traits

    Attributes: These still exist for the Core, new or otherwise, though adjustments may be made depending on your hull's Class.
    Skills: For the Core, these pull double duty as personal skills as well as Equipment Bonuses for your Crew. If someone on your crew does not have the appropriate skill, well you can at least do it yourself. Other crew members may mock the hapless mook's reliance on the 'Autopilot'.
    Skill Specialties: As per Skills, your specialties may be applied as an Equipment Bonus for your Crew's needs.
    Willpower: It takes a lot of effort to refrain from SPACING THE IDIOTS that may crawl through your compartments and levels. And it helps when you need to ignore orders, fight off supernatural influences, or take that desperate measure to warm up the otherwise inoperable plasma cannons.

    Alright there's the basics, now for the Fun Stuff I Could Use Some Critiques On

    Class: This is the kind of ship you were made for / installed in. Helping to determine such factors as your Size, what Modules you start with, and what general purpose you serve in a Fleet.
    • Insert Shippy Class Designations Here. Some Modules are generalized and can be used by a few or all ships of all Classes. Difference being some Classes get more out of some Modules than others. I'm looking at you Carriers!
    Build: This is Who or What built the ship. Your Drive, Tricks, and more Esoteric abilities are derived from your makers. Including but not necessarily limited to...
    • Mortals & Conspiracies: Human ingenuity and gumption make your ship a solid foundation for your crew to sail the stars in. You tend to not creep out normal Crew, which is a boon to be honest.
    • Vampires: Blood and fusion power your systems with cruel efficiency. You probably have no windows, but are great for boarding parties! Or eating interstellar meat-monsters.
    • Werewolves: Your engines thrum with Essence, and bind spirits to the needs of the pack! Staying in port is a test of patience rather than a chance to relax.
    • Mages: Plus side, your sensors are probably second to none. Downside, your sensors make you the target of envious pirates. Weird side, your Crew might be too willing to experiment.
    • Prometheans: Your poor wreck of a ship was built from other wrecked ships and glued together with Azoth. Alchemy and Pyros hold you together with a cruel resilience that attracts trouble to test it.
    • Changelings: A myriad of ships that plow through Hedgespace with grace. And evasive like nobody can believe.
    • Sin Eaters: Ghost ships are jealous of you. Prepare accordingly.
    Dream & Duty: This is your Virtue/Vice scale for gaining Willpower. Your Dream represents your more human and Romantic side, whereas your Duty is your mechanical and Realistic side. While they both may see you through hardship, they are also pillars by which you interact with your Crew.

    Modules: Modules are the plug-in-play parts that the ship can be equipped with. These run the gamut from armor and weapons to cargo bays and sensor arrays.

    Esoterics: Esoterics are the 'odd' abilities tied directly to your Core. Innate abilities that are paranormal in nature and defy most natural logic.

    Core: Core measures your bond to the starship. The higher the Core, the more power you can derive from the generator, the more smoothly certain systems are handled. However, much like a star, a dim Core is much easier to bypass dangers unnoticed compared to one that burns brightly.

    Fuel: Rather on the mark, it keeps you going through those long hauls and jumps between stars!

    Sanity: Did you know human people were not meant to be converted into core systems on flying pieces of metal constantly being pounded by space radiation? This is your ability to withstand the soul-crushing-depths of the Void from which man was not meant to traverse... Helped by having a happy crew! Maybe... Have yet to settle on if this is like normal Integrity or more Werewolf balancing act.

    Crew: Like a second bar of Health! Bashing is people mentally shaken or lightly injured. Lethal is poor fleshies needing urgent medical attention. Aggravated is dying meat.

    Merits: You get them! And they may even benefit your Crew too!


    Alright, that is the bare-bones I have at the moment. Critique, question, discuss, deploy, etcetera! RISE MY FELLOW FORUMITES! RISE AND JUDGE MY BANAL WORKS!!!

  • Raz Delacroix
    replied
    To answer that Master Aquatosic, I give unto the world the Core's Supernatural Trait!!! Some details still need construction, this entry is not finished.

    Signal

    A Core's ability to connect with their ship and travel through (Insert Officially Named Hyperspace Equivalent Here) is due to the conversion process permanently partially submerging the Core in the mentioned extra-dimensional existence. As the Core exists in both real-space and the metaphysical at the same time, a constant noise ushers forth from the Core's very being, and receives answers in turn. This connection with the otherspace is called the Core's Signal, the source of the Core's paranormal abilities.

    In game terms, the Signal allows a Core to gain more power from Fuel, develop Abilities and Skills to ludicrous levels. It also helps determine how far a ship can travel in a single jump, the resistance against supernatural effects, and how difficult it is for the Core to go undetected by FTL sensors. Just as a star burns bright amidst space, so too does a Core's Signal emit either with dimness or gross incandescence depending on the strength of the Signal. Consequently, the greater the Signal, the more Fuel that will be required to maintain normal functionality.

    To fully Link with a starship, the Core must let their Signal suffuse the hull of the ship. This creates a sympathetic resonance between Core and the ship, allowing for the ship to add the Core's Signal rating as Supernatural Tolerance. Just as important is that this Insulation also affects anyone within the ship in resisting supernatural effects originating from outside the starship.

    The Signal additionally allows for the Core to utilize occult physics phenomena regarded in common parlance as Esoterics. Supernatural effects derived not from the starship's modules, but from the Core's own understanding of their connection with (Insert Officially Named Hyperspace Equivalent Here). These abilities may either affect the world on a starship scale, requiring the expenditure of Fuel for the effort, or may be downsized to more personal scale should the Core have been required to exit the starship for a time.

    A table for just how much power a Core gets from a single use of Fuel should be around here somewhere, along with how brightly the Core's Signal shines, how many Modules can be easily powered, and what the max attribute ratings can be. Still working out the kinks there.

    Leave a comment:


  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    Nice. Where does the magic and/or Occult Physics come in though? I was under the assumption that it was a magitech process that transferred the "soul" to the ship and this soul rather than the brain was what allowed ships to navigate your hyperspace equivalent safely.
    Last edited by Master Aquatosic; 04-20-2019, 11:52 AM.

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  • Raz Delacroix
    replied
    Core Candidacy

    While the first Core was the result of a mad stroke of genius enacted upon a helpless intern, the rest that followed are a more varied lot. As the population of Core's expanded, certain anomalies became apparent that initially baffled the minds in charge. Initially attributed to errors during a starship's construction process, these anomalies were soon uncovered to exist only after the linking process to a Core was completed. A Core's prior training, knowledge, and personality interface with their linked starship; making refinements to the onboard equipment and computers installed.

    The benefits of this were immediately seized upon. Military personnel who would have been forced into retirement or disability discharge were brought into programs to make true warships. Doctors could become the focus of grand soaring hospitals. Cathedrals could fly through the heavens with the voice of an ageless priest. The possibilities were ripe for abuse.


    Who Are Converted?

    The conversion procedure works upon any human who is not already imbued with great supernatural power. The reasoning behind this involves metaphysics and more than a few possible theories on the precise nature of the higher dimension that Core's interact with. All that truly matters is that the soul of the person involved is one that has not deviated beyond the norm just yet. Back to the selection process for now though...

    Volunteers: They wanted this, and have gone to some lengths to achieve their dream of living a life traveling through the dark reaches of space. Some have cut deals to work for a time under a patron in order to afford the conversion and a ship. Others already worked for factions that had an increase in demand for Cores.
    Cloned: It can be difficult to achieve a standardization in a fleet. Some factions have taken to genetic engineering to procure ideal traits in their starships. Between rigorous training and heavy investments, a faction is not predisposed to letting their 'protocores' go wild in the wider worlds.
    Chained: A faction may get desperate for more starships, or simply be monstrous in their methodology. A Core need not be willing to undergo the conversion process after all. And if having a starship necessitates having a self-destruct system installed in order to enforce compliance? A paltry investment for terrific gains.


    Conversion Process

    The procedure pioneered by Professor Munchausen has long since been refined to the point where it can be automated if needed. While detailing the specifics would involve horrendous amounts of boredom for the non-professional cyberphysician, the following is provided for the layman. The preparatory step involves removing the brain and storing it within a nanite-gel bath. The flesh of the subject is meticulously broken down by a 'de-fabricator', with raw materials separated into specific vats prepared with a solution of extra-dimensional matter (XDM) and nano-gel. The biomaterial is meticulously interwoven with the XDM and nano-gel, creating a technorganic substance suitable for hosting the exotic signal source as well as growing necessary cybernetics. A new body is printed using the recorded genetic state as a template to follow.

    Once the new body is crafted to specifications, the brain is inserted into it's new home. The XDM and brain undergo a several hours worth of unconscious interaction, some subjects have reported this as dreaming, as the subject's body is placed into it's first starship's uplink pod. The starship and subject begin interfacing, changing one another accordingly. The starship's hull and systems acquire inbuilt equipment and refined systems, while the subject acquires dermal seams and protrusions reminiscent of the ship's hull. Eventually the Core's Signal suffuses the starship fully and achieves consciousness.

    At this point, the subject is capable of all of the standard functions of a new Core. They may disconnect from their starship and even travel outside of it for weeks if need be, but eventually they will need to reconnect with their Linked starship in order to properly function without going into Dormancy. The matter of connecting with a new starship is handled later.

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  • Leliel
    replied
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    That sounds a bit like the recent Prey game
    Didn't think of it that way, but yeah. Prey is kind of the horror that's going for in a horror scenario; being hunted by a clever monster that plays mind games with you, not because the monster hates you, but because you are food to it. Nothing more or less malevolent than a cat trying to tire out a mouse so that it doesn't injure the cat on the way down.

    They're also there to provide a source for a bug war scenario where the rampaging quick-breeding aliens have to be exterminated that also has a potential for there to be a sentient villain who deliberately seeded them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    That sounds a bit like the recent Prey game

    Leave a comment:


  • Leliel
    replied
    Originally posted by Raz Delacroix View Post
    Lunch Break Post! Leliel, I like where you are going with that. Let's try to hash it out sometime. Taidragon, your Gnomon are already tickling my curiosity. For a group of Cores working together I'm bouncing between Flotilla and Fleet.

    Master Aquatosic, I have given ze matter some more thought when suddenly an alternative pair of traits for the task sprang to mind while pondering the matter of a proper Integrity trait.

    Reason and Romance, in regards to Logic.

    Reason: What you set aside human emotion for.
    Romance: What you set aside cold logic for.

    Logic as the Integrity trait made sense to me when I started thinking about Star Trek's dramatic dynamic between Spock's Vulcan reasoning and McCoy's emotional passions. I blame my art and history lessons for Reason and Romance as they call up classic opposing philosophy and art.
    Thanks for the compliment, and good duality.

    Also, brief idea stolen from Star HERO that really needs more love;

    Technically, you can't break the light barrier. It seems a fundamental trait of a habitable universe seems to be that light speed is a constant and it would take infinite energy moving infinite mass to travel at light speed. Magic can cheat this, but it mostly just bends space or simply causes matter to move very fast that it seems like the blink of an eye, and fundamentally is, but it's measurable as being, at most, supersonic.

    Nobody said it had to be the same habitable universe though. Or that one point in one universe didn't correspond to another point in another universe.

    Paraspace, as it is often called, is at its core an alternate universe - not in the sense of being a different realm of existence, or an alternate history, but a completely different cosmos that presumably had its own Big Bang and underwent expansion, same as the normal universe. Except, the Big Band there was...odd. It seemed happen with a "turbulence" of sorts - or at least, that's the theory. There's no better one scientists can think of for how space-time there seems to be scrunched somehow, almost like it hadn't been completely unfolded into what humans would call a flat plane if space-time existed in two dimensions. Quite simply, paraspace is smaller than the voidspace of our native dimension, and thanks to the semi-folded nature of time-space there, a couple hundred AUs here might be a meter there; it's not an exact science, as the folds tend to "ripple" about, but that can be a benefit too, if the Core is a skilled navigator and the ship is equipped for it; one can "jump" from wave to wave, shaving off hundreds of relative light-years off an already quicker trip.

    The problem is why ships need, and can use, a Core to "shunt" into paraspace - it's not lifeless. Quite the opposite, really. Something about its turbulent birth seems to have made the entire cosmos habitable for life that feeds on certain forms of energy that humans might call supernatural - especially psychic. The dimension, it seems, is filled with a "proto-matter" that is highly psychoreactive, meaning that an animal that evolves on one of the myriad worlds there needs only to think "I would really like to breathe now" finds it acts like air. This proto-matter is also what Cores draw upon to form portals into and out of Paraspace, and how it's even possible to wave-jump, but it also means there's some spectacular interplanetary ecology - spectacular, and often very hungry. A large Paraspatial predator normally isn't going to go out of its way to chew through a ship, but it can - and if it's been especially bad hunting for a bit, it often finds that the benefits of chewing through what they see as a very large shell to get at both the soft parts brimming with juicy emotions and the bunch of little emotional packets to far outweigh the costs. They're not evil, just animals (a few more mystically minded Cores have taken to training some of the more docile and intelligent species), but animals can be vicious little buggers when they need to be - see wolves.

    No sentient life has been found yet in Paraspace, but it would have to be a species of likely warlike born survivors to exist in an ecology where migrations of starving aliens is a monthly event (unless it'd be more interesting to have them - I even have an idea for them). To say nothing of the beasts that seem quite able to adapt to voidspace conditions, which seem to invariably be able to survive reentry into the atmosphere, and tend to be the most voracious and potentially invasive species, devastating ecology when they don't try to swarm civilization in a horde of crustaceans, as the infamous Cancerian Lobsters do. Too many for most to believe that to be a coincidence; genetically engineered weapons, after all, have an inbuilt way to outlast their makers.

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  • Raz Delacroix
    replied
    Lunch Break Post! Leliel, I like where you are going with that. Let's try to hash it out sometime. Taidragon, your Gnomon are already tickling my curiosity. For a group of Cores working together I'm bouncing between Flotilla and Fleet.

    Master Aquatosic, I have given ze matter some more thought when suddenly an alternative pair of traits for the task sprang to mind while pondering the matter of a proper Integrity trait.

    Reason and Romance, in regards to Logic.

    Reason: What you set aside human emotion for.
    Romance: What you set aside cold logic for.

    Logic as the Integrity trait made sense to me when I started thinking about Star Trek's dramatic dynamic between Spock's Vulcan reasoning and McCoy's emotional passions. I blame my art and history lessons for Reason and Romance as they call up classic opposing philosophy and art.

    Leave a comment:


  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    So Dream is your human side and Duty is your job? Ok. Perhaps different names though. As of now, they sound more like specialized Aspirations. I can't quickly understand how i could give each a one-word description.

    Words aside, i agree on the concept of balancing the human and machine sides. As an idea, perhaps being too human makes it harder to process the data from your sensors that don't align directly with the normal human senses, while being too mechanical makes it harder to interact with your Crew

    Leave a comment:


  • Taidragon
    replied
    This is a pretty interesting idea; it reminds me of an idea I’ve been working very off-and-on again about the players being parts of time machines (Gnomon: The Epoch), though you’ve gone larger in scale than I’d thought of going. Do you have a name for a group of Cores working together, akin to a Vampire’s Coterie, a Demon’s Ring, a Changeling’s Motley? If not, I’d recommend Flotila. Seems like an evocative name for such a group.

    Leave a comment:


  • Leliel
    replied
    Thanks! Also yeah, makes sense going too far in either direction is bad; either you become an emotionless, loyal robot that can't actually emphasize with people, or you lose sight of reason in the name of trying to pretend you haven't become something more and less than human. Seems like Sanity could be a balancing act between those two extremes; accepting of what you are while understanding who you are.

    And the antagonist ideas I have are one human and one alien. The alien one, to be honest, is the less hostile; they're an ancient species that at some point all became Cores; their young cannot survive more than a couple months without integration into their ship. This enables them to "cheat" a bit; they as a people are born knowing how to perceive things like hyperspatial flux, and so they have a naturally more stable mindset to begin with - they don't need the filters. The problem is that they really don't have a "civilization" as such; inspired by the Zenith of AI War: Fleet Command, everything they were has died off, and in effect what's left is a bunch of survivors who don't think it's possible or on some level advised to rebuild. Each one is, in effect, a nation unto themselves, and thanks to their mods, a few of them don't even recognize people that aren't heavily modded ships actually exist. They're the untrustworthy but highly useful allies faction, since they've flown a lot longer than humans have.

    EDIT: More recent addendum: Why they're not optimistic about their empire is that some event even they are vague on (it happened a long, long time ago) was the death of all their species that could survive outside integration with their ships. Quite simply, they can't colonize worlds any more, and new chassis for them need to be the kind of things they can build in deep space, with mindless robot Crew. This means that they're limited to what would have been scouting vessels in the Old Kingdom, and similarly simple and lightweight ships. This is still more than enough to prove a match to younger species due to the previous tech advancement they had, but they know they've been permanently sidelined to younger peoples. Most are okay with this, given their more solitary nature, but unfortunately we also have revanchist factions who think they can replace their lost castes with enslaved sentients. Even a few of them working together are a potent military force, and the very few who have build true warship bodies are galactic terrors.

    The humans, though, are a testament to the sheer determination of some to reject any change, even if they have to mutilate themselves into something unrecognizable. They're the descendants of people who used a hacked bit of the God-Machine to warp themselves to a habitable planet far away during the [insert great revelation of the supernatural here] rather than live in peace with monsters or anyone who advocating peace with monsters. Perhaps they lost something in the warp, more likely a culture founded on xenophobia and the refusal to accept that the old world was always a lie simply tossed that same thing away as useless, but when they were found again, they had become something...imperial. A civilization founded on unremitting disgust for everyone who does not share their creed of purity*, and it's they who first developed the filter-less Cores as a parallel technology to Earth from the ruins of the God-Machine worshipers they found on their new world. Quite simply, the sacrifice of the minds of their Cores is vaunted as an act of loyalty and honor for the good of the True Human Race (tm). Before you ask - yes, they're a dark parody of Humanity Fuck Yeah in general, made clear they're not actually helping anyone (after all, what caused them to hijack God to run away was the rest of humanity not deciding to cleanse the world of its subspecies in nuclear flame).

    *purity definition updated as necessary so that the ruling class is a pinnacle of it.
    Last edited by Leliel; 04-16-2019, 12:27 PM.

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  • Raz Delacroix
    replied
    To Leliel, go ahead and absolutely design away! We're like Aperture Science around here, tossing ideas at the wall and see what sticks!

    Now back to Master Aquatosic's request to clarifty Dream and Duty. Please keep in mind these are ideas still in development (and I am not a certified psychologist) and I welcome critiques here. The purpose of these two traits is to explore the risks in extremes regarding dehumanization and self-actualization.

    In the attempt to follow your Duty, the tasks of which you either agreed to undertake or were assigned to, you may risk losing a sense of humanity that makes you empathize with others. Like HAL 9000! Clearing away it's Crew so as to complete a mission that would otherwise be in jeopardy. By contrast, you may risk your own personal well-being to follow your Duty where otherwise you might have collapsed physically and emotionally. In a fight where the wise decision would be to withdraw, leaving your companions at risk, you might instead draw upon your Duty and initiate a ramming maneuver!

    Dream is meant to be a humanizing element, for good and ill. It connects you with others, but it can also pull you into situations that could be detrimental to others depending on you. For an example, in an attempt to keep all of your Crew alive and well, you might replace requests for more ammunition with requests for higher-quality rations. Then you slowly start treating the Crew like a family... Of infants that need to constantly be monitored and doted upon. Eventually, you may get scared that they will leave you alone forever, so you warm up the hyperdrive without initializing the inertial dampeners. Family together forever...

    Well that was creepier than I intended, a beneficial side of Dream would be to risk yourself for others despite it not being the sane course of action. Like flying into a burning space-dock to rescue a family left behind in the evacuation despite not being a proper rescue vessel. Taking a scenic tour around a star to give a sense of wonder to a passenger when a more direct path would have been more fuel efficient.

    But I admit I might not be articulating my thoughts with the best of efficiency, and eagerly await comments and ideas!

    Leave a comment:


  • Leliel
    replied
    Okay, this is seriously cool. Living ships who go FTL by mind power, that's the mix of eerie and metal the CofD should be.

    When you're done with some of the rules, can I design the Antagonist Ship Class (ie, the ones not expected for the heroes to be driving)? I have an idea they get to neglect Crew and more points for modules in exchange for poor Sanity control due to removing any filters between the pilot and the sensors. I have an idea for two empires the Cores could cross laser batteries with, one human and one alien.

    Leave a comment:


  • Raz Delacroix
    replied
    To start with, thank you both for the comments! Already doubled this thread's view counter since I last checked!

    Now to answer Master Aquatosic's question of "Why is the crew the health meter?" before my lunch break ends. I was inspired by the Changeling's own treatment of Clarity and thought it would be fitting in part. However, the Crew represented in this case is an overall gauge of the Non-Player Characters' health and does not include the other player's at the table. If the ship involved is staffed entirely by the protagonists at the table, well that is one of the ideas here that needs to be ironed out. In the usual case of an NPC Crew however, whether it be living humans or robotic drones doing the work, the more 'Crew Damage' accrues the more penalties hit the Core's abilities.

    In regards to Structure, I am still dancing between having that determined as Infinite Macabre suggests, or modifying it slightly. Either way, the 'Ship Health' will be determined in part by the Class of Ship that the Core is installed in. This is the important bit though, with some work a Core can be 'reinstalled' in another.

    Ugh, gotta go back to work now. I will try to clear up the whole 'Duty & Dream' Vicey/Virtue bit later. Until then, more questions comments and suggestions are welcome!

    Leave a comment:


  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    First off, love this. Very unique idea.

    Hmm. My one critique is more of a question. Why is crew the health meter? I'm assuming that while some people will play the starship, the other people will play the personnel. And we also already have damage rules for vehicles and other objects. You also mentioned it was a second bar of health. Does that mean that the former is just normal Structure points? And how does this work when a ship has a crew the size of the Enterprise? Or are ships mostly automated with a skeleton crew of engineers?

    Also, while the sailing metaphor is pretty, I'm not sure i understnad what Dream and Duty are beyond what the name suggests. A clearer explanation of that would be very welcome

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