Friday, August 14, 2015

The Spectre Detectors

Technology is important to a sf setting in many ways. In particular it tells players what they can get away with. Cargo is impregnated with nano locator beacons? That'd make fencing cargo harder on planets with any kind of law or government. Some of the cultures I'm sketching out for Ghost Drive are repressing psionic humans and NBEs. Without technology to deal with psi or ghosts all the laws in the universe are useless. The first step in control is detection. It's hard to deal with what you can't find

NBE's have an effect on electrical fields and vice versa it seems. They draw power from electrical devices (also heat and possibly other energies). Sensors measuring EM fields can detect them though a savvy NBE or stupid sensor tech might explain away a lot. Also note that sensors are electrical devices and an NBE trying to misbehave will usually target them first.

Obviously electronics can be 'hardened' against psi and NBE effects otherwise what is the point of psi shields? Larger devices like ship drives obviously can contain NBE's. Few worlds have the tech to make them portable (think fridge sized) let alone man-portable (think backpack).

A system of categorizing psionic energies has been in place for centuries it is still informal. Psionic energy can only perceived by psionics so far. machinery capable of interacting with it usually has ... organic components and is far creepier than that phrase suggests. Nevertheless the energies and the countermeasures for them work well enough for most people.

Shade-io: shade-io is the energy most often used by telepaths. It allows conversation and pinpointing NBEs (shade-ar) and very powerful psionic humans. This energy doesn't interfere with electronics. It can be identified by subtle changes to the brain waves of humans affected by it. Psionic shields can be designed to operate in standby mode until these changes are spotted in the wearer and then snap on full power to conserve battery life.

Infra-dread: infra-dread is usually the byproduct of living minds and psionics. It is the energy form psionics sense to detect life. A person's infra-dread aura is as individual as a fingerprint. Some skilled psionics can tell by the infra-dread signature what sort of psionic activity took place. It can create cold spots and be identified with infrared sensors. Even the non-sensitive human perceives a faint feeling of unease in areas saturated with infra-dread.

Visible Fright: These frequencies are also used by telepaths to send thoughts or assault minds. At this level a psionic can frequently send thoughts in a tight beam to burn through some shields or create an illusion. This radiation can create the 'spirit lights' that are often captured on video or holo recorders. It can cause interference with radio transmissions as well allowing a radar sensor to give an idea of an NBE's rough position.

Ultraviolent: This type of energy is used by telekinetics. It is particularly hard for psionics to detect signs of. Telekinesis is pretty obvious in its use. There seems to be a limit to resolution with this energy. A telekinetic (human or NBE) can't perform very fine manipulation on a millimeter scale. Cheap mechanical locks could be picked perhaps). A revolver could be loaded. Separating grains of sand is too fine a task though they could be thrown about. It is sometimes accompanied by spirit lights in specialized visual recorders. This radiation will likely cause temporary malfunctions in electrical devices near the source (lights flickering). Some skillful NBEs can sue this to record 'speech' on electronic devices.

Hex-Rays: This type of energy is only rarely accessible to human beings. It is used to teleport and for some powerful forms of clairvoyance. It is also the most difficult to detect. Hex-rays barely register on electrical devices making teleportation difficult to determine or defend against. A teleporter going through a psionic shield will get bounced off it but it will barely register on the shield. Some NBEs use this form of energy for direct physical assaults causing nausea and other physical symptoms such as loss of hair, blindness, hemorrhaging and even sterility or death. Some chemicals are affected by the radiation and Hex badges that turn colors when exposed to the radiation are used when dangerous NBEs or psionics may be encountered.