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New Project from New Member: The Black Desert

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What's Happening, Forum?

 

(...Sorry. My name is Ray...)

 

Anyway, I am a new member and am totally stoked to find out that I can make the RPG of my dreams and maybe even sell it and use my all time favorite rules engine at the same time! Open D6 FTW!

 

So here is what I'm working on. I would appreciate any input, but the most important question I have is simply: Does this sound like a game you look foward to playing? IMO, that is the most important question of all.

 

So here it is, a short synopsis of The Black Desert.

 

“People use the think that the Singularity would bring humanity enlightenment. They used to think the world was flat, too.”

 

The Black Desert is a campaign setting for Open D6: Space. Players can be humans, AIs, or even intelligent primates. They travel in search of fun and profit through an Inner Solar System full of asteroid colonies, terraformed planets, Dyson swarms, ravenous nano-colonies, and kinetic kill drones left over from the Great Space War. In short, the science fiction is hard, but the rules are easy.

 

The Black Desert is set in the early 23rd century. All the wonders of the previous age have come to pass- Fusion powered spaceships travel between the hundreds of asteroid colonies between Earth and the successfully terraformed Mars, each populated by a mix of humans, trans-humans, AIs and intelligent primates. While scarcity, aging and disease as we know them are all but gone, the resulting social upheavals lead to massive interplanetary war, ecological devastation on Terra, and the loss of half the colonies in the inner system. Now, like the ex-patriots of the 1920’s, post-war humanity is enjoying a renaissance in art and culture as veterans of the Great Space War embrace life and freedom and take to the black desert of space in search of adventure, profit, and their lost innocence.

 

In The Black Desert, Players can:

Dodge Kinetic Kill Drones and Nano-colonies between Asteroid settlements in the Inner Systems,

Reestablish contact and trade with colonies isolated by the War,

Loot the frozen tundra of an abandoned Euorpe

Negotiate with the trans-human Dysonites in a remote controlled robot body,

Learn the art of FreeBrawl from the nearly unstoppable Lunarias,

And so much more!

 

Let me know what you think, Thanks!

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Sorry I haven't made a post in awhile, but I've been learning the arcane art of digital cartography, the fruits of my labor are previewed in an Album on my profile page. Hope you enjoy.

The project is a game supplement for D6: Space in general and The Black Desert in particular. Im hoping to publish (PDF) soon. Stats will be provided for both, and I plan to offer a free preview deckplan for everybody to enjoy that ties into the supplement. I'm very excited about contribution to the D6 community, and want to thank the forum for all their support.

Below is the Introduction section to the product: The BOV-31-A Paladin Trans-Lunar Spaceplane.

 

"Typical of commercial spacecraft manufactured in the United American and Canadian States since the Treaty of Mars, Space Composites' BOV-31-A Paladin has proven popular throughout the Inner System.

"The Paladin spaceplane is a small orbiter capable of trans-Lunar crossings while still acquitting itself well as a high-performance atmospheric craft. Originally designed with the business world in mind, the planes' primary function was intended to be orbital hops from UACS to Pacifica on the West coast. By climbing into orbit, The UACSian executives could cross the Mid-West without violating The Union of the Americas' boarders."

Edited by RocketDad

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Cool stuff! I've been looking for a good transhumanist, inner solar system colonization game. Is the focus here on "The Black Desert" (aka Space) or more on groundside adventures?

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The focus of The Black Desert will primarily be (as I see it) character-driven encounters that deal with exploration, interaction between humans and trans-humans, para-humans and AI, and of course, character scale combat. If I had to describe the setting in a nutshell, I say it focuses on two main things: a post-war context of cultural rebirth similar to the expatriate movement in paris in the 1920's, and the idea that hard SF based on what theroetical physicists and futurist project will be a lot stranger that science fiction as it is usually protrayed. FTL and anti- gravity are pipe dreams no one takes seriously in The Black Desert, but you can have wuxia-style combat in low-g with virtually controlled robots armed with plasma swords.

Space in The Black Desert is the backdrop, to be sure, but space combat will be more dramatic than mechanic. For realistic space combat, let's face it, Ked Burside's Attack Vector: Tactical is practically the definitive work (props to Ken, love him on Nyrath's Atomic Rockets page). So, there won't be alot of battlemat -and-counter action in this game. Instead, the actions of the characters inside the spacecraft will be where the action takes place.

Its like this: I'll describe a series of realistic (from a physics standpoint) space combat scenarios in the game book. along with these descriptions, the GM will be provided with what will be happening from the POV of characters in the attacking and defending ships. So you'll experience things like the wait for the first salvos to hit, the sudden decellerations as ships are jarred by impact, power losses, pressure losses, trapped passengers in cut-off compartments in need of rescue, damage control against the unforgiving clock-stuff like that. That way, the players that choose to create character that don't focus on space combat have just as much to do as those to do, and the deckplan of you own familiar ship becomes a hostile environment full of terrain difficulty and sudden hazards. Its like turning you own ship into a dungeon instead of taking the action away from the character scale.

I realize that this will take some thought and planning to make workable from a mechanics standpoint, but that's my idea for now. I welcom any input and constructive criticism anyone may have.

 

In the mean time, I hope I've whetted your appetite Rerun941 :)

 

Viva la Six!

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:cool: That's a wrap! I've got to have my proofreader (wife) give it the final polish and convert it to PDF, but the first Ships of The Black Desert is finished! I'm both excited and exausted...I'm Aust-ited!

Those of you who are interested can expect to see the supplement for sale @ Drive-thru RPG around the 16th, if everything goes according to plan.

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I have finished up my Ships of the Black Desert PDF; it should hit the virtual shelves at Drive-thru RPG on Friday. I am also releasing a freesource PDF at the same time, detailing the Ship's Log unique to the campaign setting. There is a copy of the text on my blog here. Any comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism would be appreciated.

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Do you have a sample ship that gives us an example of some of the things? From my read of your linked page, it mostly makes sense. Since you're introducing some new things to D6, like Safety Threshold, Delta-V, Damage Range, and Condition Table, it might help to have a sample ship just so we can actually see the numbers envisioned in actual use.

 

Other than that, the explanations were decent. Made me think what I'll need to do for my tanks when I get them done. ;)

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The freesource article is made to support my for-sale product, Ships of The Black Desert: The Paladin Spaceplane. So, the Paladin is the example spacecraft that the free rules is published to support. That way, the Paladin can be used in either straight OpenD6 or with the Black Desert modifications (it come with stats for both).

Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback! Depending on when Drive-thru RPG get in touch with me about my Vendor's account, The Paladin should be on sale today or tomorrow!

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Greetings all!

For those who haven't been following my blog,I just posted an new excerpt from The Black Sesert Campaign Setting. This is an entry on A.I. in the Character Generation chapter. Please tell me what you think:

 

AI

Intelligent computers are a far cry from the cold, calculating machines depicted in twentieth century fiction. Moore's Law, the Axiom than dictated computer capacity doubling every eighteen months, began to break down in the 2020's. The next generation solution, quantum computing, relied on the precise alignment of atoms to achieve increased computational power. The technique was difficult and, while making computers far smarter than ever before, quantum computing failed to achieve the long sought after human-level artificial intelligence.

The solution came from study of the Orchestrative Objective Reduction theory in neuroscience. The theory states that within each neuron in the brain are trillions of carbon micro-tubules, each in turn containing a single free electron. The constant wave collapse of these quantum particles was thought to be the “organic binary” that gives rise to human consciousness. The resulting Quantum Orchestrative Objective Reduction Processor gave computer systems the fabled Turing potential of true sentience.

Because QOOR (pronounced “core”) processing technology mimics the human brain to such a degree, AI are no smarter than a purely organic consciousness. AI do have access to to machine data storage and retrieval, however, so their memories are essentially perfect. While they lack the intense, hormone-fueled passion of organics, AI do possess some rudimentary emotions. AI feel what one would expect any consciousness aware of its own potential mortality to feel; Pain, fear, friendship and happiness are all possible. So, unfortunately, are hate, vengeance and even madness.

The greatest limiting factor on an AI's ability to associate with others are their size and isolation. A QOOR Processor is a sphere of interlaced carbon nano-tubes roughly a half-meter in diameter and weighing nearly 20 kilos. In addition, the Processors are fragile- too much trauma is as deadly for a computer brain as it is for an organic one. Because of these factors, AI are usually installed in the safest, most heavily shielded areas they can find.

Obviously, this leads to physical isolation. But in addition to this, AI are essentially disembodied consciousnesses. They can control anthroids, robots, even entire spacecraft, but only a few are hard-wired to their virtual “bodies” An AI without an extension to control is more effectively cut off from the outside world than the most physically impaired organic ever was. This can lead to all of the psychological disorders that humans in the same situations are prone to; paranoia, delusions, even outright psychotic episodes have been known to occur in AI that are too long without stimulation.

Despite these disadvantages, AI have many superior attributes. Their cognitive ability is not impaired by being powered down- “turning off” an AI will not kill them. They can store their memories in multiple locations, so damaging their data libraries will not hurt them very badly either. While they must take time to associate new data just as an organic consciousness would (i.e: spend Character Points to increase skills or gain new ones), the time it takes to “memorize” that data is virtually instantaneous.

Despite all of these difference from organic consciousness, AI share one trait with organics that make them unquestionably alive in the minds of the tolerant- they may be hard to kill, but once they die, they die. Each QOOR Processor is a unique construct. Because of this, once a QOOR Processor is destroyed, what made that AI an individual is also gone. All of their memories, skills and abilities may be intact, but if a different QOOR is associated with them, a different AI results. It was this inability to reincarnate- known historically as the “Turing Fallacy”, that led to the AI revolt during the Great War and their subsequent independence as a species and culture.

 

Traits:

Attribute Dice: 18D

Attribute Ranges:

Agility: 0D

Strength: 0D

Mechanical: 2D-6D

Knowledge: 1D-5D

Technical: 2D-6D

Perception:* 1D-5D

*Applied only if the AI is in communication with some sort of external sensory equipment.

Move: n/a

Height: 50 centimeters

Skills Dice: 8D

Special abilities: AI have the following special abilities:

Machine memory: (Advantage) AIs can download information into data storage like any other computer, there is no limit to the number of dice an AI can put into a skill at character generation. They also receive one extra skill die at the character generation.

Disembodied: (Disadvantage) AI are non-mobile. They cannot put attribute dice into Agility or Strength. They also cannot put skill dice into Agility or Strength-based skills. They can put attribute dice into Perception, but they cannot use their Perception or Perception-based skills unless they are linked to some external sensory apparatus.

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@RocketDad: Some questions and thoughts...

- Do you have special mechanics here for them taking damage and dying since they do not have Strength to "soak"? This should be outlined more clearly whether you intend AI's as Player Characters or NPC's.

- In creating an AI, by your definition, it is limited to inhabiting the QOOR Processor due to the specific technological architecture. By the inherent quality of quantum processing, if an AI were to exist, it would be "smarter" than a Human for the mere fact that quantum processing technology is capable of data processing hundreds of petaflops faster than the Human brain. We rely on chemical and electrical firing, quantum computing would rely on the slight changes between closely related atoms. I argue that an AI, even limited to a quantum process, would insurmountably faster in thinking and analyzing any information, making decisions, identifying artifacts for audio and visual recognition, operating and piloting a ship or other technical device with greater precision. Quantum processing only makes computations faster and more efficient. Laying AI on top of a silicon processor vs. a quantum processor really is just a matter of processing speed and capacity to handle multi-threading.

- Does the AI employ human-problem solving, (heuristics)?

- How does AI "reproduction" occur?

- An excellent sourcebook for AI:, and the leading source for AI development education: http://aima.cs.berkeley.edu/

 

- Jeremy (not to poke holes in the idea, I have an AI in game myself and work hard each time I look at it to remain critical of my ideas - that and I'm a software developer who has to wrestle the idea of AI semi-regularly)

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Yes indeed, quantum computing would be faster than the human brain. The quantum computing you are referring to (such as the work done at Berkeley) is mentioned in my write-up of AI; the computers that rely on the precise alignment of atoms in order to make calculations. Form what I understand, the problem with our current understanding of quantum computing is trying to get more than a few dozen atoms to cooperate at a time. I also understand that stability is an issue. Anyway, optimistic projections (again, as I understand the fruits of my research) is that in a couple of centuries we will have computers that are as smart (by human standards) as a seeing eye dog. Computers can process information at blazing fast fast speeds, sure, but the trick is getting them to understand the significance of the information.

Orchestrative Objective Reduction is a different kind of quantum computing all together. Free electrons exist as wave forms until observed, then they collapse into particles. Now, left alone, with now interactions with any other particles, will self-collapse about once every hundred million years. A single free electron in a cage, like a carbon micro-tubule, will collapse into a particle every time it interacts with the carbon atoms in the tubule. The free electrons in the carbon tubules in the neurons in the human brain self-collapse about five times every second. Its is thought by the Penrose and Hameroff (the originators of the Orch-OR theory) that this constant collapse of electrons is responsible for self-reflecting consciousness. For more info on that, check out the wiki article here.

This is not a popular theory among artificial intelligence researchers. I'm using it because it gives me a plausible reason for AI to have sentience without being orders of magnitude smarter than people. In The Black Desert, a QOOR Processor is built, linked to a power source, external sensors and memory, and then left to develop. Its like a baby, in a sense, Consciousness must emerge from the QOOR's electron collapse, it isn't automatic. It isn't even guaranteed- just as with people.

Since AI are just one of several species available in the setting, I didn't want to go into too much detail on the whole issue of the origins of artificial intelligence. I had thought that the explanation in the write-up "The next generation solution, quantum computing, relied on the precise alignment of atoms to achieve increased computational power. The technique was difficult and, while making computers far smarter than ever before, quantum computing failed to achieve the long sought after human-level artificial intelligence." was enough, but I guess I should add to it a bit...

 

-Anyway, the issue of A.I. taking damage and not having a STR value to soak it-that is much more worrisome to me. I completely missed that! Thanks for the imput, I'll get to work on fixing this stuff right away.

-As for problem-solving, Yes, human problem solving (shich is why they are considered human level intelligent, not higher.

-Reproduction is a criteria for biological life (I'm a biologist). The QOOR processor is a frictionless device, and if undisturbed will last effectively for ever; they need not reproduce if they don't want too. If they do, they can have a new QOOR constructed and teach it how to be sentient in a way similar to how Humans must teach their young. They can have huge amounts of data stored in memory, but in order to use it effectively, they must learn, well, problem solving, and information synthesis and all the other things we take for granted. They can think faster, remember more and not lose data once its stored, but the making sense of it, that is the sole function of a QOOR Processor. In that sense, its not even a computer if taken by itself.

 

Please share any new thoughts with me on how I can make my write-up convey these ideas without taking up the entire book!

Edited by RocketDad

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For those of you who have visited RocketDad.com, You can see that there is complete website FAIL going on there. Its been quite awhile since the disaster occured, and we still haven't figured out how to fix it. So until I can get my own domain up and running again, I have started ablog on Blogger here: Feel free to look around and click on stuff and generally make yourselves at home.

 

BTW, the latest in my Ships of The Black Desert PDF is up for sale. In case the freaking huge link in my signature wasn't a clue... :)

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It's been almost a month since I've posted an update over here, but its not because the project has lost steam. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I have been engaged in mortal kombat with the notorious Think Point virus. Finally, my legendary Panda style allowed me to fight this deadly foe to a draw.

That's right, despite the infamous BSOD and the Hail May Pass of switching my OS to Ubuntu, I have managed to publish my November offering on time! Now that all of that drama is behind me, I plan on bugging you guys again with my endless posts.

...Man, it's good to be back!

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It's that time of year again, RocketFans...It's Cyber Monday!

 

 

To celebrate this most busy shopping day online, Blue Max Studios is proud to offer a special deal on all of our merchandise. Through our partners at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, we are offering our entire inventory for 20% off the regular prices, just TWELVE DOLLARS!

 

In addition to 20% off, buyers of our Cyber Monday Bundle will receive, via email, a sneak peek of our December offering, the Barsoom-class Martian Airship! Only preferred customers will get to see these plans early. We won't offer a deal this good again until the week of Christmas, so don't delay,follow the link to order yours right now!

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Below is a draft of The Black Desert's timeline...Enjoy!

 

History: What Happened Between Then and Now.

 

The world is a very different place in the twenty-third century. The promise of the twenty-firsts technological revolutions have come to pass. The fabled Singularity, when machines become alive and humans become immortal, has happened. People once believed that the Singularity would bring an age of peace and unimaginable prosperity for every man, woman and child.

People once believed that the world was flat as well.

 

The Twenty-First Century

The first hundred years of the new millennium were marked by both extreme growth and extreme stagnation. The United States dropped out of the space race early, relying on the development of private aerospace. Russia, China, India and Japan began aggressive programs to develop both commercial and exploratory craft, culminating in Lunar landings by the mid century. The US tried to catch up while China and a joint team of other space faring nations, Including the European Union, set up separate bases on the Moon to harvest Helium-3; The rare isotope that makes stable fusion rectors possible. With Fusion powered drives, the nations of Eurasia go on to Mars. Japan and America lead the world in robotics, with the East concentrating on form, the West on function.

Back on Earth, a quiet revolution was brewing that would eventually lead to the greatest upheaval in human history. Fabrication machines, using bio-plastics that were introduced at the start of the century, become ubiquitous. The ability to use free or very cheap templates downloaded from the Internet allow people all over the world to not only manufacture their own goods, but to manufacture the fabricators themselves. The standard of living rises while the economy slows down.

Medical science succeeds in developing stem cell research into useful therapies. Custom grown organs make diabetes, cirrhosis, and most cancers a thing of the past by 2040...for those that could afford them. The developing world gets little benefit from this until the end of the century. Even more infuriating is the isolation of the so-called “aging-gene”, allowing the decadent westerners to live into their 130's and their children to live into their 200's.

 

2100-2151

The United States begins an ambitious plan to build a Space Elevator in Equador while the rest of the space traveling world concentrate on terraforming Mars. The Brazilian government sponsors research into laser propulsion and begins quietly wooing American scientists and aerospace engineers with grants and other incentives. By the middle of the century, Mars is a thriving colony, Asteroids have been pulled into orbits between Earth and Luna and Earth and Mars. The Destiny Foundation, one of the US's most active space concerns, open colonization to these moonlets to everyone with their ambitious and successful business plan. America's economy receives a shot in the arm from the influx of resources.

The resources are put to good use as fabricators spread throughout the world. Consumers become able to make their own electronics and synthetic textiles. Businesses in these markets respond with copyrights on templates and aggressive lobbying to make open source design illegal. World economics continue its upheaval as resource-rich developing nations are now able to make their own manufactured goods. The industrialized world scrambles further into space to find new sources of raw material as brush wars over conflict materials increase exponentially.

Medicine branches out into further developing gene therapies and simultaneously increasing the reliability of man/machine interface. Cybernetics steps out of science fiction and becomes viable as birth defects are eliminated in the West. Americans embrace the “designer baby” fad and successive generations will be healthier, longer lived, more intelligent and more beautiful that any in history.

The most significant advance made in this period is in computers. The invention of the Quantum Orchestrative Objective Reduction (QOOR) Processor creates the first true artificial intelligence. These sentient computers are surprisingly “human” because of the use of advanced neuroscience as a model. The AI are installed in virtually every piece of military hardware and public service by mid-century.

Even the advent of AI is less amazing than the discovery of titanic vaults below the floor of the Valles Marinaris on Mars. Within, undetectable by any previous probes or expeditions, was life. An entire ecosystem thrived in the caverns of Mars including, miraculously, intelligent life. Martians existed.

 

January 29th, 2152: The Great Space War

To say that the Great Space War was the largest and most deadly conflict in history is hopelessly inadequate. Half of the human race perished, not a single nation that existed before the war existed after, and half of humanity's five hundred-odd colonies were either destroyed or isolated afterward. No less than three new intelligent species were created; two of which are now considered to be potentially capable of causing the extinction of biological life. Every sentient currently alive is either a veteran or the child of a veteran of the Great Space War. Worst of all, it is unknown if Terra's ecosystem will recover, despite the collective knowledge and resources of all humanity attempting to save it.

The war began shortly after the Space Elevator was completed in 2151. Brazil, emboldened by its new space technology and America's economic weakness, invaded Equador. The nation capitulated and became a state along with Brazil in the newly created South American Union. In response, The US began a vicious land and sea based war with new state. Brazil responded by revealing the fruits of its investments in space: The L-Drive, which put rockets into orbit without using fuel, and the Plasma Sail, a magnetic field that used solar wind to achieve constant boost. The remaining world powers are terrified as the United States loses its colonies one by one and is decimated by sub-orbital attack.

Espionage and reverse engineering soon reveal the secrets of Brazil's war machine, and the rest of the world arms itself. Most space conflicts end in stalemate as the magnetic drives prove to be shields against not only cosmic rays, but lasers, metal projectiles, and nuclear warheads. Kinetic Kill Drones become the weapon of choice and their AI pilots are destroyed in droves only to be replaced by backups on Earth.

Advances in man/machine interface with AI allow humans to be replaced by clones with all of their memories. This is rare for American and Japanese soldiers as most of the fighting done by their armies is with robots controlled by advanced telepreasence. Civilian populations bear the brunt of the casualties in the early years of the War.

Two years into the conflict, It is discovered that AI reincarnation results in a unique consciousness- meaning that AIs actually die. This leads to Intelligent machines from all nations deserting in what is known as The Turing Fallacy Revolt. They are given sanctuary on Mars and the Red Planet declares its neutrality, effectively leaving the War.

Terran governments scramble to replace the massive losses to their forces even as resources dwindle. “Civilian” rapidly becomes an obsolete word as entire populations are conscripted into the conflict. The Russians bolster their forces by the ethically questionable means of using QOOR technology to grant sentience to cloned gorillas and orangutans. These “Nu-Apes” even the field against the combat robots of other nations.

The war continues in this fashion, with no clear possibility of winning for any faction, for the next two decades. The only major change is the European Union's successful campaign to conquer most of Africa for its resources, while Asia and the Americas are locked in a downward spiral of annihilation. This move by the EU virtually assures that a clear victory for any faction is impossible.

The war may have continued indefinitely if it weren't for the horrible, final solution of atomic attack. It is still unknown which of Terra's twenty-five nuclear powers fired the first missile, but the result was inevitable. Heat storms, fallout, and flooding from the loss of the polar ice sheets effectively ended the war...and half of all life on the planet.

Thanks to magnetic radiation shielding, enough Infrastructure remained to prevent the total collapse of civilization. Nevertheless, it took a generation before the people left on Earth could think of anything but survival.

 

...Part II is Below!

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To continue...

 

 

2178-2206

Terra might not have survived the holocaust, if it weren't for the fact, sometime during the war, the Trans-human Singularity had occurred. Humanity had the technology to save itself, by using artificial ecology techniques and terraforming strategies on Terra herself. Humans in disaster areas were uploaded into massive computers and lived virtual lives until the world could sustain them. These “cyber-morgues” became the first bastions of the new Trans-humanity.

It was also during this time that experiments in Nano-life- recreating bodies and consciousness using nano techniques- were attempted. This was too successful; Nano sapiens was a cure worse than the disease. It took the concerted effort of all of the world's remaining military to fight it off. This could have led to a united Terra...but didn't. Nano sapiens also led to a “anti-Trans-human” sentiment among mainline humanity. The majority of the cyder-morgue population chose to leave Terra and become what would eventually be called the Dyson Federation.

Meanwhile Mars, out of contact with her war-torn sister for decades, emerged on the scene. The AI/Martian expedition was not there to conquer, however. Mars was a terraformed paradise, and the Consensus, its government, offered to mediate a final end to the Space War conflict. Political boundaries were redrawn again and again over the next five years as the leaders of the Earth struggled to make their world stable and, hopefully, habitable. The final draft of the Treaty of Mars, signed New Year's Day 2206, offered little in the way of satisfaction for the embittered veterans- essentially the entire population- but it was fair in a way only the combined power of multiple quantum computers could make it. There was finally a chance for lasting peace.

But only a chance.

 

2210-Now

The Treaty of Mars has been in effect for four years. On Terra, there are three modern superpowers: The Union of the Americas, The Japanese Empire of Siberia, and The United Parliament of Africa and Europe.

The remains of the United States and Canada are divided into Pacifica on the West coast and The United American and Canadian States in The East. The American Middle West is now part of The Brazil's Union of the Americas, and is ruled by a council of allied Native American tribes.

Luna is recovering from the ravages of war. Her surface is covered with both military bases from the Big Three and independent or corporate gas mines. The situation is tense as the different interests spread to find the remaining pockets of Helium-3.

Mars is the new center of culture and learning in the system. Its freshly terraformed shores are open to any sentient willing to sign the Articles of Consensus, and follow their strict rules of conduct.

The Dysonites, Trans-Humans so-called due to their creation of a Dyson Swarm in orbit around Venus, are a frighteningly unknown factor. They not only threaten to eventually block the Sunward passage for interplanetary travel, they are in a prime position to assert sovereignty over Mercury, the richest source of metals and Helium-3 in the entire Solar System. With access to these resources, the Dysonites endless trans-human missionaries will prove very hard to stop if it comes to a showdown.

The cycling asteroid colonies, by far the most common and rich settlements before the war, have become a disorganized and isolated collection of nodes containing anything from thriving cities, starving ghost towns, pirate dens, nano-swarms, or even space fleets that don't know the war is over. Political and corporate interests from all over the system are sending expeditions to the colonies in an attempt to reestablish contact and get the flow of resources and the Solar economy started again.

This vast, unknown territory is full of more opportunity-and more danger- than the rest of the Inner System combined. The aboriginal Martians have a name for this area of space that caught on with the romantic writers and artists of human Mars and through their work, the rest of humanity.

They call it The Black Desert.

 

Hope you enjoyed! Comments Welcome...

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(Excerpt from today's Blog)

 

"... While AR will solve the communication problem between split parties, it doesn't help with the interaction problem. You know the one; One group of Players is sighing and whining and trying to get the GM to listen to their spontaneous actions and stuff while the GM is trying to run a combat with the other Players. This kind of situation drives me personally up the wall when I am GMing. As a sooper-kool-indie-game-designer, I still haven't found a reasonable solution that will work for all games, but I've got a honey of one for The Black Desert...teleoperated robots!"

 

Visit our site to read the rest, plus picture and video links!

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While it's an interesting idea, I don't think it's the answer to the situation you present. In fact, I think it will remove so much RP potential from roleplaying games. Additionally, I think it would make GMs soft and complacent in that they won't grow as a GM by learning to adjust and learn from those situations rather than just glossing over it by saying everyone is always present. So while the concept of teleoperated robots have potential for gaming, I don't like the idea of having essentially two parties with every character ("in the flesh" or in robot form) in each party.

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I must respectfully disagree, Grimace. For one thing, I fail to understand how having all the members of a PC party able to be present will remove RP potential; if anything, I should increase it by allowing full interaction by the full party. While being able to include the entire party in encounter at which not all PCs are physically present can help streamline the encounter process for the GM, I wouldn't think it simplifies things enough to let GMs become "soft and complacent". The main mechanical benefit of teleoperation is that it will prevent Players from getting bored and unruly waiting for the GM to get to them after the party has split up, which is a pain in the GM's ass.

 

Another thing about Telepresence, Augmented Reality, and Teleoperation that I must take into account as a Hard SF game designer is that these technologies exist today. The way I see it, its not a matter of including or excluding the robots and AR, is how to include them. You have made some important points; I certainly don't want to let some shiny tech turn a group PCs into complacent one-trick-ponies. It would irresponsible of me to not include some checks and balances to the tech. For example, I suspect that AR is so invasive that it could only be used for a certain amount of time before migraines and other medical problems set in. Information Overload and Solipsism Syndromes will probably be the 23rd century's ADHD and Depression; I will be including information on these diseases in later posts an, of course, the game itself.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to critique the work, Grimace; I really appreciate having a fresh set of eyes looking over these ideas before they go into actual game development.

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Well, I guess it all depends on what you view as RP potential. Sure, having everyone being able to provide input into every given situation is nice, but at the same time it makes it more interesting to have things happen to a couple of people that the rest of the group knows nothing about. Then it's up to the players to decide what to share with the others and what to omit. This, of course, all goes towards GMing and not about game design or teleoperation, so I'll just leave it at that.

 

Really, though, like I mentioned, I think the idea of teleoperated robots is a pretty neat thing. I certainly wouldn't use it as you suggest, but I would use the idea for certain uses (like the type that was presented in the movie "Lost in Space"). Basically limited use.

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Yeah, the Lost is Space is what I imagined when developing the concept. When I start drafting the actual sections on Telepresence and Teleoperation, I will be de-ephasizing the "let's split up the party" part. Honest, it sounded good in the post...

 

Additionally, there are limitations to using AR for long periods of time. Solipsism Syndrome and Information Overload are serious health problems; from migraines to hallucinations and dementia.

 

Sounds fun, doesn't it?:cool:

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After a frustrating day of shopping and a long night of last-minute layouts, The Barsoom is posted on-line and ready to go! I am pleased with how it turned out. I'll admit that there are a few rough edges; this beauty was the first project that I did in GIMP, so there was a learning curve. Still, with every completed project I learn more and find ways to increase my production values and streamline my design process.

 

The good news is, about half of the work for the January product is already done. It ties into my article in our OpenD6 Magazine, which is why so much is already done. This means that I can relax and enjoy the holidays (and my birthday) without worrying about being ready come Jan 16th.

 

Anyway, check out the boat, and enjoy!

 

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