Culture RPG (Scifi- Ultratech) Interest Thread

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THE CULTURE

A Utopia Primer-

A universe where ships are people, someone's clothing might be smarter than the one wearing it, and living on a planet is the most backwards thing you can do.


From the Iain M. Banks Novels. The Culture is a star-spanning socialist/libertarian/anarchist "empire", achieved through technology and the guidance of the AI Minds that control the starships and space habitats the entire civilization lives on.

There is no hierarchy as such in the Culture's society every individual (machine or organic) is equal. There is no scarcity in the Culture as it can manipulate things at an atomic level. Technologies provide practically limitless material wealth and comforts to all at no cost, having all but abolished the concept of possessions(in fact, the Culture considers money to be a sign of poverty). It has overcome almost all physical constraints on life (including disease and death) and is an almost totally egalitarian, stable society without the use of any form of force or compulsion, except where necessary to protect others.

It's More Fun in the Culture.

But for some, even utopia can wear thin without a sense of purpose. Therefore, there exists people at the fringes of the Culture: diplomats, spies, or mercenaries; those who interact with other civilizations, and who do the dirty work in moving those societies closer to whatever ideal, by whatever means necessary.

Society


---

Contact


---

Life in the Milky Way


The galaxy (our galaxy) is a place long lived-in, and scattered with a variety of intelligence. In its vast and complicated history it has seen waves of empires, federations, colonizations, extinctions, wars, species-specific dark ages, renaissances, periods of mega-structure building and destruction, and whole ages of benign indifference and malign neglect. At the time of the Culture, there are perhaps a few dozen major spacefaring civilizations, hundreds of minor ones, tens of thousands of species who might develop space travel, and an uncountable number who have been there, done that, and have either gone into locatable but insular retreats to contemplate who-knows-what, or sublimed from the normal universe altogether to cultivate lives even less comprehensible.

The Earth has been found to not be the source of all humankind. In this universe, the Culture exists not in the future, but concurrently with human society on Earth. The time frame for the published Culture stories is from roughly AD 1300 to AD 2970, with Earth being contacted around AD 2100, though the Culture had covertly visited the planet in the 1970s in The State of the Art.

Space is vast, and mostly empty. There is far more unknown than known. What is known is that there are simple life bringing proteins in interstellar space, and planets are easier to start life on than what was believed.

Wow, just wow. Now that's a lot of work... and a lot of text. Sounds good, colour me interested.

---

Excellent idea, Ian Banks is tied with Dan Abnett as my favourite living author, and The Culture would really make a fantastic RPG series.

This stuff is super interesting. If it wasn't five in the morning, I'd be all over this! lol

It sounds interesting, but I admit to knowing nothing of this(these?) book(s?). Therefore I don't know if I would be a valuable contribution to this RP. It seems like a lot of work was put in to this though, and that suggests both that this RP has some awesome potential and that your GMing should be fantastic. Hope this works out, and some people start showing interest.

Tsurugi:
It sounds interesting, but I admit to knowing nothing of this(these?) book(s?). Therefore I don't know if I would be a valuable contribution to this RP. It seems like a lot of work was put in to this though, and that suggests both that this RP has some awesome potential and that your GMing should be fantastic. Hope this works out, and some people start showing interest.

Thanks. Sorry I couldn't reply immediately, I've been traveling all day.
Think something like Mission Impossible, but with an extremely high tech level (i.e. The characters are agents from a spaceborne society of anarchist nymphomaniacs, led by massively superhuman AIs, with an anti-prime directive, "We should interfere to save you from yourselves".)

I'm a bit of a science fiction buff (Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, etc.) What I liked about Banks (besides that on some level I long to live in the Culture the way other people want to live on Pandora) is that it actually feels like an advanced society, in a way I haven't really seen much elsewhere. "Pop" science fiction has spaceships and robots and everything, but the thinking behind it doesn't seem to have changed. People still act the way they do on 21st century Earth. Often the writers don't put thought into the implications of the setting.

I mean, Halo is in the 26th Century, yet humans are still using ammo types from 500 years ago. In the 16th Century, the most powerful weapon was the cannon, which could put a good size hole in a castle wall. In the 21st Century the most powerful weapon is the hydrogen bomb, which can put a good size hole in the planet.

Compare Iain Banks, where everything has been altered; the way they think, their language, the lack of laws, the absence of money, the way they interact with other species- it all just gives the sense of a civilization far removed from anything on Earth, and not just the same human social conventions, except in space.

I like it, anyway. If you ever find the inclination, I would suggest starting with "The Player of Games".

Well, this has definitely piqued my interest greatly. :D

Quick question(s): What kind of RP will this be, as in will it be free-form or will there be some kind of story arc in this? O.o

Sounds interesting, if I wasn't using my mobile I'd create one, maybe tomorrow.

Mortis Nuncius:
Well, this has definitely piqued my interest greatly. :D

Quick question(s): What kind of RP will this be, as in will it be free-form or will there be some kind of story arc in this? O.o

I've considered an Excession-style game where the PCs are ships, but these things make human beings look as dumb as fucking insects, and I would want someone to have read at least one of the books before attempting to play a Mind. Otherwise it would be like Matter or Player of Games, involving several major characters all getting together and being involved in what are, on the surface, adventures. The PCs go from world to world, dealing with weirdass aliens and moral dilemmas and meddling as Culture agents are wont to do :3

Needles and pins,
Needles and pins,
Sew me a sail
To catch me the wind.

Sew me a sail
Strong as the gale,
Carpenter, bring out your
Hammers and nails.

Hammers and nails,
Hammers and nails,
Build me a boat
To go chasing the whales.

Chasing the whales,
Sailing the blue
Find me a captain
And sign me a crew.

Captain and crew,
Captain and crew,
Take me, oh take me
To anywhere new.

I am very interested, I have been meaning to dive back into the books and I love this kind of rp, it is late so I will read though all you've posted in detail tomorrow and work on ideas for a sheet, you night also want to think about starting a skype OOC group or just a forum group which might be slower.

Reserve now please!

I will follow this up with a genuine, considered application after I get over the awesomeness.

delayed only slightly by the death of my mouse

EDIT: All I have so far is a name, and now I have to go...

Masaq'-sa Sharrow Liet-Kynes Mathra dam Giert

I reckon he'll be an SC operative who's convinced of the utter trustworthiness of the Minds who instruct him, regardless of how savage his missions can require him to be.

Scratch that, sounds awfully boring after all. I'll keep the name, but try to find something less clichéd...

Asclepion:

Mortis Nuncius:
Well, this has definitely piqued my interest greatly. :D

Quick question(s): What kind of RP will this be, as in will it be free-form or will there be some kind of story arc in this? O.o

I've considered an Excession-style game where the PCs are ships, but these things make human beings look as dumb as fucking insects, and I would want someone to have read at least one of the books before attempting to play a Mind. Otherwise it would be like Matter or Player of Games, involving several major characters all getting together and being involved in what are, on the surface, adventures. The PCs go from world to world, dealing with weirdass aliens and moral dilemmas and meddling as Culture agents are wont to do :3

I would so love to be a Mind, but I reckon the only way to achieve the godlike powers of computation, prediction and knowledge would be GM-cooperation.

If it helps, I've read every Culture book, and almost all the non-fiction.
Even Garbadale...

However, I will settle for being an SC operative....

ThreeWords:

Asclepion:

Mortis Nuncius:
Well, this has definitely piqued my interest greatly. :D

Quick question(s): What kind of RP will this be, as in will it be free-form or will there be some kind of story arc in this? O.o

I've considered an Excession-style game where the PCs are ships, but these things make human beings look as dumb as fucking insects, and I would want someone to have read at least one of the books before attempting to play a Mind. Otherwise it would be like Matter or Player of Games, involving several major characters all getting together and being involved in what are, on the surface, adventures. The PCs go from world to world, dealing with weirdass aliens and moral dilemmas and meddling as Culture agents are wont to do :3

I would so love to be a Mind, but I reckon the only way to achieve the godlike powers of computation, prediction and knowledge would be GM-cooperation.

If it helps, I've read every Culture book, and almost all the non-fiction.
Even Garbadale...

However, I will settle for being an SC operative....

Playing a Mind would work if it and the population were somehow tied to each others' fates. It would be a setup like this: the PC Mind is a Contact/SC asset. But the other Minds notice that it spends an increasing amount of time alone, performing advanced metamathematics and generally being eccentric. This is a pattern the Minds recognize, and it tends to end with the Mind in question becoming a Sabbaticaler from its duties, or even subliming. So the Minds decide to try and subtly convince it to come back into the fold.

In order to do this, they give the ship and it's population a swath of the galaxy to frolic in. Anything goes down there, the ship needs to sort it out. The rest of the Minds make a private agreement not to send in any kind of back-up except in cases of extreme necessity. They also brief the ship's crew and drones (including the PCs) about their cunning plan, and encourage them to try and bring it around.

I will allow ship PCs if you are aware of what is being asked, and I'd still suggest making a conventional character as well. The ship character sheet is as follows.

Name:
Classification:
Length:
Mind(s):
Capabilities:
Weapons:
Maximum speed:


:D

Asclepion:
[snip]

Sounds pretty good to me. I'll see if I can cook up a suitable ship, and do some more work on Sharrow.

Howzat?

ThreeWords:

Howzat?

That name is beautiful.
The capabilities and options of a ship would be pretty intense. It certainly wouldn't resemble an RPG character in any normal sense.

We'll see if other people join.

I am glad to see this progressing, and.... is there a max class on our ships?

The Clown:
I am glad to see this progressing, and.... is there a max class on our ships?

What, like a Systems Vehicle?

Asclepion:

The Clown:
I am glad to see this progressing, and.... is there a max class on our ships?

What, like a Systems Vehicle?

I reckon anything larger than a GCU will become less and less viable to successfully RP. Besides which, it's hard enough to find anything that will create a dramatic threat to a Contact vessel, let alone something as vast and powerful as a GSV.

I was thinking along the lines of a semi-demilitarized ROU of killer class

ThreeWords:

Asclepion:

The Clown:
I am glad to see this progressing, and.... is there a max class on our ships?

What, like a Systems Vehicle?

I reckon anything larger than a GCU will become less and less viable to successfully RP. Besides which, it's hard enough to find anything that will create a dramatic threat to a Contact vessel, let alone something as vast and powerful as a GSV.

I think of -SVs more as mobile city-states than ships. And that's an issue with the Banksverse, is that if you pit a Culture spacecraft against anyone of even slightly lower tech levels, it'll just destroy them in a flash. Enemy ships without Effectors would not stand a chance, not even literally millions of them.

But it depends on what you want to do with the universe. Party planners in a competition for notoriety staging ever-more elaborate festivals in spun-glass palaces held aloft by anti-grav? Could be something. Or a Contact mission: Uplift these aliens who are currently stuck in the 9th century. You can be or have anything you want by asking the Mind for it, but if you scare the barbarians or act outside of the cultural context you are trying to shape they will think you are a demon and the mission is a failure. Better yet, Special Circumstances, it's like all of the above but now you have an equivalent tech level opposing you and someone equally as deep cover as you are is undoing your carefully laid plans and will probably destroy the planet and all the friends you made there if they discover you exist.

The Clown:
I was thinking along the lines of a semi-demilitarized ROU of killer class

Sounds good so far.

Asclepion:

ThreeWords:

Asclepion:

What, like a Systems Vehicle?

I reckon anything larger than a GCU will become less and less viable to successfully RP. Besides which, it's hard enough to find anything that will create a dramatic threat to a Contact vessel, let alone something as vast and powerful as a GSV.

I think of -SVs more as mobile city-states than ships. And that's an issue with the Banksverse, is that if you pit a Culture spacecraft against anyone of even slightly lower tech levels, it'll just destroy them in a flash. Enemy ships without Effectors would not stand a chance, not even literally millions of them.

But it depends on what you want to do with the universe. Party planners in a competition for notoriety staging ever-more elaborate festivals in spun-glass palaces held aloft by anti-grav? Could be something. Or a Contact mission: Uplift these aliens who are currently stuck in the 9th century. You can be or have anything you want by asking the Mind for it, but if you scare the barbarians or act outside of the cultural context you are trying to shape they will think you are a demon and the mission is a failure. Better yet, Special Circumstances, it's like all of the above but now you have an equivalent tech level opposing you and someone equally as deep cover as you are is undoing your carefully laid plans and will probably destroy the planet and all the friends you made there if they discover you exist.

We might be better off scrapping the whole idea of ships after all; as you say, the idea of any player being so powerful makes a mockery of any challenge. I like the SC idea though; equivi-tech subterfuge amongst a lower-tech civilisation.

Here's a few points;

Once a civilization becomes spacefaring, all economies and everything they know about economics ceases to be relevant.

Nations/states are unlikely to exist in space, due to it's (basically) infinite borders, infinite resources, and the ability to move in any direction. Conquest would be an exercise in futility. People would just leave, and habitats would have to be self-sufficient.

Statistics tells us that- between the rate at which technology advances, and the age of the universe/ interstellar distances, the odds of two civilizations being technologically within 5,000 years of each other is close to zero. There is a possibility of encountering intelligence thousands or millions of years further progressed than our current one.

FYI myself (And most probably 3W) are still interested and might wish to help you upon getting this underway os the form of sorting out how the hell such a task can be undertaken.

It can be undertaken if we get players for it. What we have now is a Mountain Class GCU (Preemptive Retrospect, which like all Culture Mind names, is utterly beautiful) and someone named Masaq'-sa Sharrow Liet-Kynes Mathra dam Giert, who I assume is a male human and comes from the Orbital in Look to Windward.

Bumping with GCUs.

[broadcast Mclear, received @ n4.28. 855.01. ]:
*xGCU Mutually Assured Attraction
oGCU Uncloud The Sky
& *broadcast*:
Ref. 3 previous compacs & precursor broadcast.

:3

double post

The Clown:

Asclepion:

The Clown:
This rp must survive

Thanks :) Though I'm curious that you have such a desire to see this through, yet have not submitted something.

I am have not submitted anything because I was in the understanding that the way in which it will work had not been decided yet, plot based, character-driven etc, would be hasty to get myself stuck on a character who later doesn't work.

I think we should just relax and have fun with it, really.

I'm just thinking of what a Culture-based game would need to include:

- Knife missiles.
- Minds (they experience reality on a vastly different scale, being a hyperspace energy construct within a shell of extremely dense matter. Transmisison of light in computation seems unbearably slow to them, and their intelligence is as far removed from humans as humans are from prokaryotes.)
- No scarcity, at least within the Culture itself.
- Lots of nifty ideas for peripheral civilizations.
- Back-ups and personality storage.
- All the various ships and the man/machine interaction. The attitude of the Cultures ships to their crew is rather akin to how we regard butterflies in our garden; the vast difference in power means you could easily swat them, but don't because it would be a waste of life and you wouldn't see their colors. The ships, on the whole, seem to have some sort of kinship with a biological population, with nothing in common except their self awareness.
- Self-glanded drugs that have no side effects.
- A wide variety of body types possible for PCs, including winged, dandelion-shaped, etc. Also, the ability to change sex at will, given time.
- Standard loadout for SC agents: biological immortality, handguns more powerful than any 21st century weapon outside of nukes, sexual upgrades, all of it.
- Drones, including all their mood-fields, etc.

I'm in if I can find the time to wade through Text Mountain.

I'd love to play in this. Would a demilitarised ROU from the war with the Idrians be acceptable? I like the idea of playing a faintly grouchy veteran from the war who is part of SC or Contact really for something to do.

David Shea:
I'd love to play in this. Would a demilitarised ROU from the war with the Idrians be acceptable? I like the idea of playing a faintly grouchy veteran from the war who is part of SC or Contact really for something to do.

A VFP? Sounds good so far. Refer to what I said about ship PCs above. And for Contact work/ interfering with other civilizations the Culture really does need people - kilometer long spaceships can have difficulty fitting in in some societies.*

...

*They could fit in just fine - Minds can project soligram avatars that are almost totally indistinguishable from real creatures, with tactile fields simulating the object's texture. Relying on actual biological humanoids and drones seems to be a deliberate choice on Contact's part.

Name:
Gently Lifting Amoral Devils Onwards to Sublimation
Classification:
ROU Gangster Class (demilitarised) (mostly)
Length:
250 metres
Mind(s):
1
Capabilities:
Fields (Maniple, atmosphere containment, foreign object barriers and sensory input/signaling, traction fields for interstellar movement, etc.)
Electromagnetic Effector
Hologram/Tactigram/Soligram Avatars
Displacer
Grid Tap
Matter Manipulation
FTL Drives
Weapons:
2 CREWS Projector
8 CAM Spreaders
2,500 Fusion bombs
2,000 Nanohole missiles
4,500 Displacer-dispatched explosive warheads
Slave drones (Energy to mass conversion, potentially 1,000,000+)
Maximum speed:
200 kilolights

Background:
'The Gently Lifting Amoral Devils Onwards to Sublimation' was, when constructed, named the 'Tell That Fucker He Made My List',and was involved in several of the largest actions of the Idrian war. It missed the final investment of the Idrian home world while on the mop up operation and never lets anyone else forget that, thank you very much. After the war the ship acquiesced to the cultures new disarmament program and allowed 50% of its weapons to removed for cargo space, and signed on with contact for a few centuries, where it encountered Steffan Amiksaw. Steffan was an uplifted non culture human who served as an agent of Contact, and the two worked together for several decades before going missing and presumably dropping of the net entirely. Rumours placed the pair operating in the vicinity of several primitive cultures, with contact support, working for SC, having joined the Zetic Elench, or simply being part of the Ulterior. Reclassified as an eccentric, the ship was lost for a good century before re-emerging under a new name.
'The Gently Lifting Amoral Devils Onwards to Sublimation' re-appeared without warning or reason just recently, and surprisingly its only crew was Steffan Amiksaw. What the pair want is still unknown to the culture at large, and Contact and SC in particular. Currently, the Gently lifting Amoral Devils Onwards to Sublimation is still regarded as an eccentric. Called Lifting for short, the ships avatar generally appears as a stylised 'shield maiden', a beautiful woman wearing heavy armour and carrying a primitive wooden shield and steel sword. Actual avatar capabilities remain unknown.

Name:
Steffan Amiksaw
Classification:
Ex- contact field agent
Height
6ft 2 inches
Capabilities:
Trained field agent, highly skilled in martial arts, sword fighting, ranged combat and social interaction.
Altered to standard contact front line specifications. (including neural lace, inbuilt weapons, enhanced biology)
Weapons:
Whatever he needs, normally he travels with a suit of low-profile armour that looks like a business suit, a cane that can turn into a bladed weapon, and a memform ring and necklace that can turn into small Microwave/plasma weaponry.

Background:
Snatched from obscurity by contact on the edge of death from his home-world, a renaissance tech level world in the ass end of nowhere, Steffan Amiksaw was once a noble knight from a high born family before being recruited by Contact, and then working with 'Tell That Fucker He Made My List' on several successful missions. Still chivalrous to a fault after all these years, Steffan believes, much like the Culture at large, that people are basically good, but tend to make bad choices, and that ignorance is what holds them back from making the right choices. Why he, and Gently Lifting Amoral Devils Onwards to Sublimation, have chosen now to return remain unsure.

Really? Glados? not very culture-inspired name.

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