Friday, May 16, 2014

More Icy Shores

I started this blog a while ago and chose its title based on the fact that I felt my rpg days were in a twilight period. It's more like a Long Night by now as I've really not indulged in Tabletop gaming in almost a year. Plus I was depressed about a variety of things and when I'm depressed, I'm a jerk.

I was reflecting on changing the title recently since instead of a Long Night things are starting to feel like 7:00 am. But I'm keeping it because 1) Changing it might be a big hairy deal 2) I may lose readers for the Internet godz are quick to take offense and 3) it still fits in a different way.

If you're like most of us you have a job you toil at unappreciated. You get home, make some dinner, deal with chores and by twilight, you're free and ready to work on GM stuff. So Twilight is really like Frank Herbert's 'hour of the assassin' for us. It's when much of our work gets done and our plots hatched.

The Icy Shore
Recap: Humans have spread to several close stars using M-drives and low berths initially. Along the way they colonized several rogue planets between star systems. After several decades of isolation the jump drive was created and Earth moved out into the void to bring its errant colonies to heel. The overall tech level is TL 9. Earth has some personal equipment (ACRs, reflec) that are TL 10. The sleeper ships and colonies they founded are TL 8. The Fringe Worlds: rogue planets, brown dwarf systems and other debris are mostly TL 9 as they are frequent stops for FTL ships from Earth. Earth needs the Fringe Worlds because no ship can make more than a single parsec jump.

Some of the more interesting objects between Sol and its closer neighbors are:

Mini Black Holes: several of these objects have been found and have research stations. They have an unpredictable effect on jump drives and trips to them are often by STL and low berth for safety reasons.

Rogue Planets: sometimes a planet is ejected as its solar system is formed or forms alone in deep space. About 5% of these have a moon. Tidal forces and geothermal heating is enough to maintain an Earth like temperature. Thermal vents in their seas allow life to generate. Such a planet can remain warm enough for life for billions of years. A few planets have been found and colonized. Most have high gravity and an atmosphere poor in oxygen but rich in hydrogen and helium. These become important way stops. A few have breathable atmospheres or have been terraformed partly by introducing hydrogen fixing organisms.

Comets, Asteroids, and Ice-teroids: A comet or asteroid may be infinitesimal compared to a planet but it still can hold enough hydrocarbons, ice and minerals to support a community of thousands for decades. Some communities never settle for long on one such body. They just continue moving deeper and deeper into space.

Ghost Ships: not all the sleeper ships made it to their destinations. legends of lost ships and sighting of derelicts persist to this day though any still traveling at their cruising speed would be several light years away by now. Jump drives are still relatively new and some FTL ships also turn up missing every year.

Wormholes: no confirmed reports of wormholes. Some ships have arrived very early or late to their destination but these have been attributed to faulty navigation or outright hoaxes.

Strange Matter: some strange matter objects have been encountered. The material is sought after for energy generation.

Solar System
The Solar System was settled initially by reaction drive ships. As a result we still have an infrastructure to support launches and orbital transfers. Earth has a space elevator in Africa and several bolas in the Belt.

Mercury has large colonies at the North and South Poles under the surface. Solar energy stations provide all their energy needs. At one time MW emitters in orbit even supplied beamed power to space stations and ships. The introduction of large scale commercial fusion reactors hurt the Mercurian economy but not everyone can afford a fusion generator so some beaming stations remain in business.

Venus was  only colonized after gravity control was discovered. Gravity thrusters and air pressure keep large semi outposts and habitats afloat in the upper atmosphere where temperature and pressure is similar to Earth's. There is stalk about enclosing the entire planet in a shell of Kevlar that outposts would sink into. Air pressure would keep the shell rigid and afloat.

Mars was once considered a likely candidate for terraforming. That was put on hold with the discovery of native life. Martian microbes are undergoing intensive study. Their similarities to Earth life raise all kinds of questions about life hopping from world to world. Earlier colonization attempts were stymied by a lack of water and the low efficiency of solar panels on Mars. Fusion plants are now supplying power. Grav fields  provide enclosed pressurized areas at low cost and flyers allow polar water to be transported easily.

Gallium was an unexpected bounty on Mars. The liquid metal mixed with sodium and potassium formed pools on the surface and were suspected to exist in the early 21st century. Commercial interests are pressuring the U.N. to exploit these deposits but so far the conservation effort is winning out.

Ceres is also known as the Inverted World. Miners are digging out its inside leaving an outer shell to hold in air and create an Earth-like environment. This shell is rigid; steel supports a filler of rock and dirt. Cereans have adopted to an Earth environment with a gravity of 1.5% of Earth. Some districts are installing gravity generators to gradually raise the gravity to Earth normal and acclimate the Cereans the gravity of other larger planets.

More soon. I'm going to continue to move into the outer worlds and the outer reaches.