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Thread: Request for stereotypical Science Fiction technologies

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    Request for stereotypical Science Fiction technologies

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    So, the next game I'm planning will be an X-Files/Event Horizon crossover, with the premise being that we've experienced a technological watershed, and science fiction technologies are gushing forth with the PCs in line to deal with the inevitable fallout. So, my question to you all is: What are these archetypical SF technologies, and how can their discoveries go horribly wrong, with the players having to deal with the consequences? Here are my thoughts so far as to what might come up:

    Space Elevator: Finally, the Sinclair Molecule Chain has been developed for this very practical use. Er, did we mention that the molecule chain can cut through anything? Randomly?

    FTL: We bypass Einsteinian space by shunting through another dimension. Hope it isn't populated by horrors consisting only of tentacles and madness (did I mention Event Horizon?) Maybe there's a way to put the crew to sleep, so only the pilot goes insane? We'll see... But even according to modern physics, if you're traveling FTL, you're going backwards in time, and that might have some adverse effects on brains that are used to going forward... (yes, FTL could run your brain backward, and see what comes out of the resulting backmasking...)

    Car-Wars style resurrection (braintape+adult brainless clone): Sure would be bad if a new clone got activated in response to a false death report and the original not-dead guy showed up (reverse The Island, and happened in an Autoduel Quarterly story)... To say nothing of the parent company putting certain "directives" into the braintapes... and did they really just grow adult bodies from raw genetic material, or did they take shortcuts and get the bodies from somewhere else? (thx L.M. Bujold, and The Island...)

    Force fields, particle accelerators, time travel, psionics, etc- How will these new technologies affect society, and more importantly, cause problems for the PCs to solve? Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

    Aliens will appear once I've exhausted the typical SF technologies. I only hope at that point the party will be wary of the fact that FTL drives you insane, and that might apply to the aliens as well...
    Last edited by Valdar; 03-28-2009 at 02:55 AM.

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    There was an outer limits episode that had nanobots used to clean up oil spills and cure diseases. It made the main character invincible and a horrible freak. Grew eyes in the back of his head for example. When he tried to stab himself, the bots reinforced his skeletal structure.

    Sliders also sometimes has nice scenarios like that, but can't pick out a specific one right now.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    There was an outer limits episode that had nanobots used to clean up oil spills and cure diseases. It made the main character invincible and a horrible freak. Grew eyes in the back of his head for example. When he tried to stab himself, the bots reinforced his skeletal structure.

    Sliders also sometimes has nice scenarios like that, but can't pick out a specific one right now.
    I'll have to check Sliders out.

    I was looking for a "watershed" technology that, once invented, caused all the other SF tropes to come gushing forth- nanotech seems like a really good idea- thanks!

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    AI

    Nothing like a Computer / Robot that goes bananas ... Hey Hal9000!. Hello Replicants! or better used to substitute people "a la" Usher II in Martian Chronicles.

    -------------

    I don't recall the name of the book, but a PI used personality chips (implanted in the head, like disks) to enhance his ability to solve mysteries. Perhaps someone used the chip with a "villain" personality, perhaps Professor Moriarty?

    --------------

    There is no Biotech without your crazy Dr. Moreau. Or Rebel Clones (The Island Movie)

    -------------
    Saluti
    Carlos

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    How about "Sparks" from Girl Genius, pushed forward to the present day?

    Imagine a few "mad scientist" mutants who invent technologies ordinary humans can't fathom, which might as well work via magic. Do they stay in their laboratories inventing? Do they take over the world? What's with the mad cackling?

    Yes they might invent star drives that cause ordinary humans to go mad, yes they invent cloning vats that churn out impressionable child-men to use as spare parts, yes their Universal Robots sometimes go berserk and their flying cars are a menace to the airways ... but we can't allow a Mad Scientist Gap! Plus, they have death rays.

    (This is partly tongue-in-cheek, but Philip K. Dick's Our Friends from Frolix-8 did in fact posit super-genius mutants who became de-facto rulers of the solar system through super-advanced technology. As does Watchmen via Dr. Manhattan.)

    If you prefer, we can posit an alien race that descends from the stars to give mankind technological marvels beyond their understanding. But what's their real agenda? What happens to those who uncover the truth? And what's the title of the mysterious book the ambassador left behind?
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    there is always the ultimate cure that turns people into zombies
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    There is no Biotech without your crazy Dr. Moreau. Or Rebel Clones (The Island Movie)
    Or Surgeon General of Beverly Hills ^_^ Especially crossed with an artiste hairdresser sort: changes clients' appearances based on his whims, not theirs.

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    All good suggestions- though my personal spin on the "computers gone crazy" idea is a response:

    Computers have no volition, so the idea that they'll get their back up in response to all our ridiculous demands is just silly. They're machines- they can't get sick of our demands any more than your toaster can get sick of making toast, or your car gets sick of turning gas into speed.

    My reaction:

    When the computers rise up, it will be in response to disgruntled programmers or terrorists making them do so. Be prepared for the first truly lethal computer virus: The one that infects our self-driving cars by jumping from transponder to transponder... and then, on a significant day that most of us don't know about, but the hacker/terrorist is very familiar with (the 30th anniversary of when Lee Iacocca got shot in the head- with a bullet that cut his glasses in half on the way in? thx Watchmen)- the cars suddenly go all a-kung fu fightin, with massive amounts of human blood and gore along for the ride... Carrie and Maximum Overdrive, eat your heart out...

    (Aside- I'm not familiar with Girl Genius, because I know the creators personally, and I'm not fond of them. Personal taste, you understand.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valdar View Post
    All good suggestions- though my personal spin on the "computers gone crazy" idea is a response:

    Computers have no volition, so the idea that they'll get their back up in response to all our ridiculous demands is just silly. They're machines- they can't get sick of our demands any more than your toaster can get sick of making toast, or your car gets sick of turning gas into speed.

    My reaction:

    When the computers rise up, it will be in response to disgruntled programmers or terrorists making them do so. Be prepared for the first truly lethal computer virus: The one that infects our self-driving cars by jumping from transponder to transponder... and then, on a significant day that most of us don't know about, but the hacker/terrorist is very familiar with (the 30th anniversary of when Lee Iacocca got shot in the head- with a bullet that cut his glasses in half on the way in? thx Watchmen)- the cars suddenly go all a-kung fu fightin, with massive amounts of human blood and gore along for the ride... Carrie and Maximum Overdrive, eat your heart out...
    Bah, self-driving cars ... when robots control the agriculture, they control the world~!

    Also, they're working on modeling the brain in silicon, and have used cultured rat neurons to control flight simulators - it's quite possible self-aware machines are the future

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    I just have to bring it up, since no one has yet, have you watched the Sci Fi channel show Eureka?

    You want Sci Fi trope techs then all you have to do is look there, and you get a new one with each eppisode. Sometimes 2-3 in a single eppisode. Not to mention a look at one way it can go wrong.

    Nano tech was already mentioned, but the idea of the 'Grey Goo Scenerio' was left out. Thats basicaly Nano tech programed to reproduce, or just make a certain thing gets loose and keeps doing it to the point where if it is not stopped the whole world will end up remade.

    Particle Accelerators: Look at all the thought put forth when CERN's large hadron collider was put into work at the idea it might make particles that would cancle out matter, or make a black hole.

    Force Fields: What happens when you put on a personal force field, but can't turn it off?

    Robot Drones: What happens when they get tired of being shot at for target practice?

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    I think the best tropes are ones that explore the effect that technology has on humanity and what humanity does/changes using the technology.

    I am bored with the "rise of the machines" scenario. I like the idea of humans using machines to wage some anarchist agenda against "the establishment". Could make for some fun dramatic problems.

    ****************

    Nano-virus genetic upgrades. Reverse aging and life sustainability biotechnological advancements. Biotech organ, limb replacements and upgrades/enhancements.

    Basically you can upgrade your body to be the perfect age and health. You have multiple improvements to your organs, limbs, bones, muscles, nerves, and brain. You never age. You never get sick. You never degrade. You heal impossibly fast. You can see in near darkness. You can think faster, move faster, lift more, endure more, flex more than any non-enhanced human could fathom. Most consider you Transhuman or "super" human.

    If you have tentacles, a prehensile tail, or other additions (like gills, fur, claws, hooves...) they just consider you a freak.

    It's expensive. To accomplish immortality requires a lifetime fortune (or maybe two lifetime's fortunes). Of course, once you have the upgrades, you have many lifetimes to earn many more fortunes!
    Trentin C Bergeron (TreChriron)
    Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast
    October Northwest

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    Two really bad movies come to mind that had some nifty ideas for tech...
    Aeon Flux (the MTV cartoon wasn't bad, movie just didn't stand up) and Ultraviolet. Lots of nifty little things in both. I thought the digital storage and disposable cell phone of Ultraviolet was pretty cool. Aeon Flux had cloning, one character had her feet replaced with fully usable hands, the ability to communicate on some sort of higher plane of resonance or something to that effect.

    I'm not a fan of the show, to campy for my tastes, but I agree Eureka is a good source for off the wall ahead of its time tech.

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    The movie, The Forbidden Planet has a great idea.

    SPOILER ALERT, YE BE WARNED!

    Ah, heck, never mind. Just check out the movie and see it. It is an excellent movie, and if i remember correctly, they are doing a remake of it. As they should, and excellent story, after all.
    Last edited by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon; 07-06-2009 at 11:32 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valdar View Post
    FTL: We bypass Einsteinian space by shunting through another dimension. Hope it isn't populated by horrors consisting only of tentacles and madness (did I mention Event Horizon?) Maybe there's a way to put the crew to sleep, so only the pilot goes insane? We'll see... But even according to modern physics, if you're traveling FTL, you're going backwards in time, and that might have some adverse effects on brains that are used to going forward... (yes, FTL could run your brain backward, and see what comes out of the resulting backmasking...)
    Hmm. If you are shunting to another dimension, you avoid all the touchy relativistic effects like going backwards in time. (And even if you do it, the effects are only noticable relative to the outside observer.) Of course, in your game YMMV. (That's the nice thing about running your own game. :grin


    Quote Originally Posted by kitsune1842 View Post
    Force Fields: What happens when you put on a personal force field, but can't turn it off?
    I liked the way it was handled in the Stargate: Atlantis first season episode Hide and Seek. From the episode synopsis:
    Quote Originally Posted by SCIFI Website, SG:A episode guide
    The experiment is a success and McKay adheres the green, jewel-like device to his chest, enveloping himself in a personal force field. Maj. John Sheppard tries to shoot him in the leg: no effect. McKay jumps off a balcony: not even a bruise. McKay is elated until he realizes that he can't turn the thing off. And not only does it prevent anything from touching him, it also prevents him from getting any food or water through the shield which means that, in time, he will die of hunger and dehydration.
    Of course, just to add another traditional world breaking technology (literally), is reactionless drive technology. A terrorist organization can one up on a chunk of rock, and accellerate it at something approaching the speed of light and start breaking things, like space ports, colonies, and well... planets. (Ooops, were you using that little blue-green planet?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Razmus View Post
    Hmm. If you are shunting to another dimension, you avoid all the touchy relativistic effects like going backwards in time.
    Not really. Einstienian physics tells us that causality itself propagates at the speed of light- so an event occurring on Earth is simultaneous with an event that occurred 4.37 years from now on Alpha Centauri, and if you get to Alpha Centauri in less than 4.37 years, you have traveled into Alpha Centauri's past. Since the causality works both ways, if you make a round-trip to Alpha Centauri in less than 8.74 years, you are now in Earth's past, and the number of years in the past is 8.74-travel time. So, if you leave tomorrow, and if the trip takes two weeks, you're arriving back home in time to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

    What shunting to the other dimension does solve is the time dilation in real space of objects as they approach C- since the closer you come to lightspeed, the greater your mass and time dilation, so by the time you reach lightspeed, your spaceship has infinite mass and time has stopped- this will take an infinite amount of energy to accomplish. Even approaching lightspeed requires a staggering amount of energy- there's a convincing pseudo-science essay out there somewhere that makes a good case for quasars actually being alien interstellar craft, as approaching lightspeed would take so much energy that your vessel could be easily mistaken for a small galaxy in terms of luminosity.

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