Monday, October 12, 2015

Cartoon Yahfi

Cartoon version of my D&D character.  The crazy drow girl recently befriended (sort of) a red headed dwarf so emulated her hair color.

- Ark

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wormhole Thoughts

The SS Freeman - Earth's first Wormhole Transit Vessel :)
John had some questions about the wormholes in my GURPS Space campaign, The Nazareth Chronicles, so I figured I'd answer him here and babble some on the subject.

Back a couple of years ago, I completed the lifelong dream of creating an accurate (mostly) stellar database for scifi gaming.  Alas, my life's work turned out to be not nearly as fun or useful as I had hoped.  Space is big.  Even with a slew of number-crunching tools and auxiliary programs, I found GMing the thing very taxing and un-fun.  It killed my geographical spontaneity.

Going back to the drawing board, I looked at the hex-based star maps of Traveller and Stars Without Number.  Not for long though.  I just don't like compressing 3d space into two dimensions, even if that two dimensionality is explained as 'hyperspace geography.'

About the same time, I was looking at the Vorkosian Saga supplement for GURPS, as well as the Infinity scifi miniatures wargame.  Both have node-based stellar astrography.  I mulled wormholes over in my mind, did some research, and figured I might be able to come up with something that I could use.  By May of this year I had a pretty good idea for a wormhole-based scifi setting.

Stellar Map for Corvus Belli's Infinity N3 Game
I've discussed the campaign briefly elsewhere, though not as much as I had intended.  What follows is an elaboration on the setting that I hope answers John's questions:

  • The wormhole system in The Nazareth Chronicles is a zero-distance network.  Travel through the wormholes is instantaneous, though travel from one wormhole to another is not.
  • Wormholes are a Precursor Artifact in which two gas giants in different star systems as quantumly entalgified and electro-bosonified with gravoblobicons [insert more techspeak as needed] until they form into either end of a wormhole.  Minimum size of a wormhole seed is a Neptune/Uranus type planet.  Cooking time is half a million years.
  • While the Wormhole mouths must be relatively close to one another when initially created, the nature of stellar orbits around the galactic core ensure than most wormhole entry/exit points are scattered all over the place.  The node map has very little in common with the actual stellar topography.
  • A wormhole has the mass of a gas giant, but has little volume.  Ships and stations can orbit the wormholes, as well as moons and planet-sized objects.
  • Around each wormhole orbits an artificial satellite that acts as an interface for controlling the wormhole.  The term for these satellites is a Triton Core.
  • Wornholes can be put in one of three states; Locked, Closed, or Open.  A Locked wormhole has a closed mouth where nothing can get through.  A Closed wormhole is closed to physical traffic, but allows energy to pass through.  An Open wormhole allows matter to pass, the width of the hole being adjustable.
  • Humanity has never figured out how to Lock a wormhole on purpose, though it has happened.
  • The Triton Core interface satellites can relay communication almost instantaneously with one another, as long as they are within 1,000 Astronomical Units.  Thus, a patch of the Wormhole Network that is left in a non-Locked state acts as it's own Galactic Internet. 

Humanity became aware of the Wormhole Network when the planet Neptune disappeared. Researchers discovered that the mass remained, however, still orbited by a remnant of the moon Triton.  Eventually, they discovered that the core of Triton was a machine that could control the wormhole, and exploration of the galaxy began.

Relics of Past Civilizations
The wormhole network led to thousands and thousands of systems.  While the Precursors were never definitively located, countless ancient destroyed civilizations were found.  Living sapient species were found as well, but even though they apparently scattered themselves across the network, none were at a very high technological level.  Strangely, none had very good records of their history, and few of the species seemed to have any gumption to explore or expand.

After several centuries of colonization, the wormhole network mysteriously shut down.  All nodes went into a Locked state.  Isolated from one another, most of human civilization collapsed or regressed significantly.  Five hundred years later, one planet learned how to open some of the wormholes, though the decryption algorithms took decades to perform with the most powerful computers available.

Currently there are only 25 systems open.  12 of them have enough will and resources to be capable of interstellar trade and cooperation.  They formed a coalition 50 years ago, but much of the goodwill is gone.  And still, no one knows why the wormhole network turned off five centuries ago.

Interstellar Magic Carpet Ride
Given their importance, wormholes and their interfaces are guarded by system governments, coalition forces, or the local thug/pirate king.  But to say that the wormholes are 'controlled' is false, as anyone with a fast enough ship, heavy  enough armor, and a good enough hacker can open a closed wormhole and zip on though past a blockade. Such a maneuver is called anything from 'Threading the Needle' to a 'Suicide Dive.'

Before going through a wormhole, it's standard to wake up everyone on a ship.  Sleeping through a wormhole passage is not recommended.  People report confusing and horrific nightmares in transit.  Some say that a sleeping person's mind connects to every other alternate reality version of themselves that is going through the wormhole at the same time.  The Surgeon General recommends against it, but there are a few cult members that relish the chance to dream in the quantum foam.

I hoped that answered all of John's questions. :)

- Ark

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Nazareth Chronicles Wormhole Map

Above is a wormhole map for our GURPS SPACE game.  I had originally called it Triton Core, arter the mechanism that triggered wormhole jumps.  That proved to be a boring name.  We now call it the Nazareth Chronicles, since their ancient spaceship is called the Nazareth and NPCs have started calling the PCs 'the Nazarenes' instead of just 'hey you guys.'  Please not the ample white dots indicating systems I have not flesh out yet. :)

- Ark