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GreaterThanOne

A New World.

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So I am getting back into TTRPG's after a long hiatus and I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create something different for the players who are all RPG virgins. I decided to create my own unique universe based off an idea I had years ago but I am missing a few elements and wanted to get some feedback and opinions. So without further ado, this is the general outline of the world.

 

  • At various times in past the Earth was bombarded with Extreme Energy Cosmic Rays which resulted in a bunch of meta humans who were taken for Gods or demi-gods. Gilgamesh, Cadmus, Hercules and even some of the ancient gods like Innana and Athena were in fact super humans.
  • I am still mapping heroes to dates but strong waves occur about every 1000 years with others at about the 100 - 500 years. 
  • There has not been an event in nearly 500 years.
  • Of the humans affected some look normal and some are monstrous. Stories of creatures like vampires, werewolves, giant squids, etc. are effects of the cyclical rays on Humans.
  • The rays also affect animals and create regressions (giant crocodiles) and mutations. Some are unique and others can breed. Dragons, griffons and much stranger things are the result of the mutations historically. 
  • The particle storm also affects electronics and communications. No wireless communications are possible after the event nor do electronic devices work (reliably).
  • Combustion, firearms, and the majority of modern technology that does not rely on communications or electronics function as normal.
  • At some point in the future a compact energy source called Cherenkov Cells (C-Cells for short) are invented as a way to replicate an almost gaslight world if wired transmissions are completely restricted. see below

 

I am torn between where exactly to draw the line with technology in regards to wired signal transmission. A part of me wants to create a world where communication is via letter and technology can advance via a Steam Punk-ish  world where modern firepower meets super human abilities. 

 

I want to capture the feelings of isolation and feudalism of a post-apocalypse world but keep a lot of the trappings of modern life. The Walking Dead but instead of zombies there are real monsters, creatures and groups that can kill you. 


Do you think the world would be more enjoyable for players with wired electronics such as electricity and maybe phone or being forced to go back to snail mail and smoke signals? 

I find myself in a circle thinking about older combustion vehicles and I like the idea of headlights etc. but I am a bit worried about the being corralled into logically being forced to allow too much modern tech. 

 

Note: As the world currently stands, a generator would work due to proximity but a long extension cord would not.

 

If anyone is in the mood, throw out some ideas for where you would put the limits and why if you are so inclined.

 

 

 

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If you want to the feeling of isolation and independence among small groups, I would stick with written mail as the only long-distance communication. But that doesn't mean  you can't build up something greater, more hopeful. If you haven't already, I suggest reading David Brin's post-apoc novel, The Postman. (NOT the Kevin Costner movie version!) :no:  The novel is a great example of how that simple human communication can renew the sense of and foster the rebuilding of community.

 

Steampunk tech would be a useful route if you want normal humans to eventually be able to build machines that can challenge the superhumans. If you prefer supers to remain dominant, I wouldn't recommend going there.

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Hrm. How do you prevent things like signal tower arrays? These can actually transmit small amounts of information over vast distances quickly. For a fantasy take on that, see Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal".

 

Also, if you have speedsters or folks who can easily fly or teleport, letter delivery gets much faster.

 

If you leave combustion engines on the table then planes are around and also speed transport and news. If you take it off, are you resorting to horses or does Steam Punk / mysticism step in?

 

Additional Thoughts:

 

If you leave electricity on the table but have a change in the ionization of metals such that below a certain volume / area they cannot carry signal you could leave internal combustion engines and many other older versions of things still working but nothing with a computer or really anything below a circuit board that has say 12ga wire runs on it? Or perhaps some other material works but it is so expensive and rare that it is basically a military or ultra elite type of thing? Generators are fine, but you can't transmit more than say 1 amp (about 1/20th of current capacity) over a 12 gauge extension cord. And line loss is higher as well. DC become more the norm because of line loss.

 

Or make it logarithmic, perhaps an inverted n^2? The smaller the gauge, the less electricity it will carry until it reaches 0 at some size, say 32 gauge?

 

- E

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I visualize giant catapults which fling couriers great distances and giant nets with which to catch them. The enemy tries to intercept them with giant flyswatters. :D

 

Of course if you go old school, there's always carrier pigeons. Militaries were still using those at the start of WWI.

 

Bicycle couriers

Flag semaphore

Runners (either actually running or using motorcycles like Hitler did in WWI)

Pony Express

Town criers

Newspapers

Almanacs

Periodicals

Catalogues

Vinyl record albums, cassette tapes, video cassettes, and DVDs containing news reports (and propaganda)

 

I would expect a world with superpowers, but without communications, to be highly balkanized. Even a fairly modestly powered super outstrips the power of a local law enforcement response team and with minimal effort could arrange to take out law enforcement officers a few at a time before the rest even know they're under attack. A super could go and set himself up as boss/ruler/king/emperor or just plain protector in most locations and the outside world might not hear about it for months. And it may not care even after they hear about it.

 

Heck, no fast communications changes the very nature of costumed crime. There's no way for the police to respond to a bank robbery unless the bank happens to be next to the police station. There's not going to be hostage situations because the police aren't going to show up fast enough for the bad guys to have to take hostages.

 

Riffing off of that, would people put their money in banks if banks are just a holding area waiting for the next bad guy to show up and collect the money? Would the government insure bank deposits if money disappears out of banks as quickly as it is put in? There's not going to be any such thing as an ATM or check cashing places. Recording systems will be a joke because the recording machine would have to be next to the camera because the information can't be transmitted. People who want to do credit card fraud will be in heaven because there's no real-time confirmation of whether the card is valid or whether the card has reached its limit or not. Ditto for check fraud.

 

My instinct would be to not allow high tech communications such as phones in a world such as you describe. You'll have to work to design the world so that it make sense. But it'll be a unique place for your player's adventures.

 

Don't let the players trap you into logical corners. They can use their character's science skills to figure out how their world works. They shouldn't be allowed to change how the world works because their player argues with you about how they don't like the physical laws of your game universe.

 

It could be that the communications suppression field which the Earth is moving through fluctuates so that at times some inventor gets a telephone to work for a few days before it mysteriously stops working again. It'd be amusing for the patent office to be filled with dozens of variations on a telephone which appeared to work just long enough for someone to try to apply for a patent.

 

Or maybe some inventor comes up with some sort of neutralization effect, invents the telegraph, and becomes insanely wealthy.

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I would bring the tech down to Wild West levels. Telegraphs yes. Telephones no. No radio. No television. Maybe motion pictures.

 

Add magic and steampunk into this mix.

 

So, is this the modern age? Have it regressed to Wild West technology without regressing things like fashion?

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About power sources.

 

Magic can overcome the technology limitations, but there are not a lot of casters in the world to make it worthwhile for mages to develop things.

 

Steampunk technology can also overcome tech limitations, but, well, it requires boiling water, and a huge heat source to boil such water into steam. It is heavy and dirty and hot as hell. And can't be miniaturized. Power suits are small buildings, and might have to be connected with a huge steam pipe from the boiler to the suit.

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You guys are awesome! I haven't been able to talk about things like this with anyone not looking at me like I'm a crazy person in years. 

 

So to add to my original post and blend in some of the things mentioned:

 

  •  A very few of the demi-gods and monsters (really metas) from the past are still alive, mostly in hiding. 
  • Most of the Geeks and Ferals of past events (the names Normals call physically changed metas eg. claws, fur, glowing eyes) were hunted by mobs of Normals and metas working as "Heroes". Some of these were warranted but others were just genocidal. 
  • I want Normals to be able to fight most supers in groups if they are organized and well equipped.  Human ingenuity will eventually lead to weapons designed specifically for this purpose but at first Metas will often vastly over power normals.
  • The idea is to create the sense of New Gods but now we know they aren't divine, mostly. There is no "magic" outside of the rubber science used to explain The Event and Powers but many people attribute their abilites to "Magic". Ex: One of the NPC's can shrink anything she touches (within mass/size limits) into miniature versions using dimensional controls. She believes it is "Magic" and has charm bracelets, belts and necklaces with little miniaturized things she can make larger by pulling them out of their pocket dimensions. She has no idea how her ability works. 
  • The main villain has lived through several of these cycles. The metas always kill the monsters then the humans eventually kill off the metas or they die of old age. She wants to en the cycle and create a world in which metas of all types are respected even the ugly ones.
  • I want to reduce the effect of good vs bad. I want to focus on the enmity that difference seems to create in us as humans. We are scared, angry monkeys and all of us understand what we are capable of when (believe) we are defending our loved ones. 
  • The main theme, regardless of which side the player's take in the story is: What Happens When The Monsters Unite And Fight Back? 
  • Capes are generally feared and disdained but tolerated. Geeks are not tolerated and even if they are totally peaceful are usually hunted or killed on sight. 
  • The world will quickly Balkanize around City States or regions that may in the future coalesce into Nation-States many led directly or indirectly by metas. 
  • Some of the Metas themselves will create religions and/or create myths about themselves. 
  • As the scientist begin to re-discover the rules, new, frightful weapons will be designed. 
  • Most of the supers will not be "well-rounded" I am using a point pool and general powers which I then create with many limitations like Concentration, Always On, Uncontrollable etc. Then as they progress they can buy off limitations or TRY to use their powers in new ways. When they do this I determine if it will work then create a new power from their point pool. They are all new but regardless I will not allow someone to just decide to "pick up some power defense" unless there is a good reason for it. Ex. Many of the metas will have normal defenses and normal stats. They will NEED bullet proof vests if they don't have defenses if they plan on getting shot at just like anyone else except they might be able to shoot lasers out of their eyes or lift big things with their minds.
  • A pregnant Affected alligator escaped from the zoo. Did you know they can lay up to 50 eggs? My player's don't. Also they are very protective of their young. 
  • For now, in the aftermath of The Event communications will be down so I am going to start the campaign in that tone and think some things through. 

I will update you all when I have a more complete story line. I'm pretty F'n excited and really appreciate everyone's comments, recommendations and observations. Please continue on if you have any other ideas or recommendations. Im going to read The Postman for ideas and just to get in the mood. 

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

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I’d be very against adding magic, but that’s me. I would say that wired communications would work, but not with high bandwidth, so wired voice might work with static for a couple of miles, but anything more would have to be High voltage Telegraph. Think of it like a low, steady EMP. 

 

Internet, gone, those that worked in tech would have to become farmers or starve. Speaking of which, expect mass starvation, especially within large cities, if shipping and trucking is disrupted.  Lots of old skills do survive, and those in the craft trades become valuable. 

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10 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Internet, gone, those that worked in tech would have to become farmers or starve. Speaking of which, expect mass starvation, especially within large cities, if shipping and trucking is disrupted.  Lots of old skills do survive, and those in the craft trades become valuable. 

Hobbies that were previously seen as useless are suddenly very useful. Sewing, wood work, smithing, making chain mail even in some areas?

 

Cannibalism may become the norm in some areas. Or it may be a supplement that is frowned upon but not forbidden when it is outsiders being preyed upon.

 

You'll still need to make some quick decisions about internal combustion. I would start simply with something like almost any car made after 1970 simply don't function. They can figure out the exact reasons later. 

 

Currency needs to be explained or done away with. Local currency will probably quickly evolve and barter will have certain values in local currency to allow trade.

 

- E

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2 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

Hobbies that were previously seen as useless are suddenly very useful. Sewing, wood work, smithing, making chain mail even in some areas?

 

Cannibalism may become the norm in some areas. Or it may be a supplement that is frowned upon but not forbidden when it is outsiders being preyed upon.

 

You'll still need to make some quick decisions about internal combustion. I would start simply with something like almost any car made after 1970 simply don't function. They can figure out the exact reasons later. 

 

Currency needs to be explained or done away with. Local currency will probably quickly evolve and barter will have certain values in local currency to allow trade.

 

- E

There is one thing you seem to forget, the world had a functional goverments before such things as telephones and telegraphs even existed. Democracy, dictatorshipes, kings, even communism should still function in this world. Granted, anything which requires "immediate action" on a country the size of the current United States of America should fail, but it should function.

 

Of course, there are going to be enclaves of 'lawlessness' in the less populated areas, where things like cannibalism and inbreeding are rampant, but that should never be the normal.

 

Most people would want to keep there laws and leaders. It gives them comfert. Even if there old leaders fail and fall on the wayside, they look twords others which they can feal safe around to lead them.

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I would leave cars as they are, maybe kill off cars that had ECM's, but let's say that code enforcement would be difficult (Mad Max, anyone?). Cars until a few years after the 70's oil crisis, were functionally unchanged mechanically, from the 1930's. It was only higher CAFE Standards in the late seventies, and late 90's that forced cars into the electronic emissions controls.  Cars, trucks, Diesel locomotives, ships. probably all still work. (Especially diesels.)

Aircraft, that's an interesting question.   Take a current Cessna 172, it has a 6 cylinder Lycoming engine.  aircraft engines, not subject to emissions controls are very simple, They have to be, so they have fewer parts to go wrong.  The electrical system for that engine is  from magnetos, rather than alternators,and they have two. Magnetos are very old and very simple pieces of tech, that are geared off the engine to product electricity to fire off the spark plugs and refill the batteries.  Aircraft, nowadays are easy. There is a strong home-built community in aviation and their national convention is the Experimental Aviation Association, every year in Oshkosh.

The limitation though is lack of communication. The aviation operation regime, reverts back to the 1920's,, and without robust communication Airliners are no longer safe. Also turbojet (and to a lesser extent, turboprop), powered aircraft are heavily maintenance dependent, and as such the number of usable aircraft in those classes will diminish rapidly. Pilots would have to revert to Jep Charts, and Slide rules.  Without Radar, IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) become tricky, and weather returns to being an obstacle to be avoided.  Most propeller driven aircraft capable of crossing the oceans, with very few examples are either gone, or in museums in unflyable condition. Air Force One, would be come the crown jewels of the U.S. Air Force, but probably rarely flies over seas any more.

 

If the "Wave" screws up compasses, or forced the polarity of the earth to flip.  Then flight is  VFR (Visual Flight Rules), and you are limited to only flying in good weather, and away from mountains.  But you could always throw safety out the window, and just go for it.  Talk about adventure!

 

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17 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

I’d be very against adding magic, but that’s me. I would say that wired communications would work, but not with high bandwidth, so wired voice might work with static for a couple of miles, but anything more would have to be High voltage Telegraph. Think of it like a low, steady EMP. 

 

Internet, gone, those that worked in tech would have to become farmers or starve. Speaking of which, expect mass starvation, especially within large cities, if shipping and trucking is disrupted.  Lots of old skills do survive, and those in the craft trades become valuable. 

Reminds me of World War Z where people had to retrained for more practical job because being a systems analyst or have a degree in marketing wouldn't be any help in the new world.

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6 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

Hobbies that were previously seen as useless are suddenly very useful. Sewing, wood work, smithing, making chain mail even in some areas?

 

Cannibalism may become the norm in some areas. Or it may be a supplement that is frowned upon but not forbidden when it is outsiders being preyed upon.

 

You'll still need to make some quick decisions about internal combustion. I would start simply with something like almost any car made after 1970 simply don't function. They can figure out the exact reasons later. 

 

Currency needs to be explained or done away with. Local currency will probably quickly evolve and barter will have certain values in local currency to allow trade.

 

- E

Cuba replaces Detroit as the number one car manufacturer.

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So were supers around before all this happened or were they a result of the current event?  If they were here before then powered armored characters like Iron Man would be have serious problems.  The PA guy might try to go the steampunk method or just use buttons and switches.  Your obligatory Dark Knight type character would have to pull out the old stuff from early in his career.

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Bicycles would be back in favor.  Also horses and people would be walking again.  Also, concerning air travel, what about Zeppelins?  The advantages of old tech is less moving parts.  As Scotty once said,

"The more complicated the plumbing the easier it is to stuff up the pipes".

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4 hours ago, starblaze said:

Bicycles would be back in favor.  Also horses and people would be walking again.  Also, concerning air travel, what about Zeppelins?  The advantages of old tech is less moving parts.  As Scotty once said,

"The more complicated the plumbing the easier it is to stuff up the pipes".

 Zeppelins are a horrible mode of transfer inside the continental United States. Our weather is just to extreme for them to be safe.  The lengths that the Zeppelin company had to take, sailing the Graf Zeppelin across the US, because of mountains, thunderstorms and other weather, highlighted the  problems.  The Navy lost all of their "lighter than air" vessels in the space of 10 years, from a Navy that was cash strapped during the depression.

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On 9/21/2019 at 2:18 AM, steriaca said:

I would bring the tech down to Wild West levels. Telegraphs yes. Telephones no.

 

There were actually telephones in the Wild West.

 

From https://www.cityofdeadwood.com/?SEC=269A8C80-9F36-4D72-A17D-DF18E23E10FF

"In March 1878, Paul Rewman established Western South Dakota's first telephone exchange in Deadwood."

 

At the time, Deadwood was as Wild as the West got.

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12 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Aircraft, that's an interesting question. 

Actually it was one of my main thoughts. I saw a short Youtube documentary about Russian Pilots in Africa and their old ass planes. Thank you for so much compact and clear information. It has definitely solidified some of my ideas. 

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10 hours ago, starblaze said:

So were supers around before all this happened or were they a result of the current event?  If they were here before then powered armored characters like Iron Man would be have serious problems.  The PA guy might try to go the steampunk method or just use buttons and switches.  Your obligatory Dark Knight type character would have to pull out the old stuff from early in his career.

There were no known Supers. The few remaining Monsters and Capes that are effectively immortal learned how dangerous, fickle and easily frightened Normals are and are in hiding. You do bring up a very good point that I want to think about more and that is what happens to the world military balance? Some countries like the US lose out big time because of our modernization (we would still very likely be the top or near the top) but some countries with outdated military  become much more powerful. 

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Archer said, "Don't let the players trap you into logical corners. They can use their character's science skills to figure out how their world works. They shouldn't be allowed to change how the world works because their player argues with you about how they don't like the physical laws of your game universe."

 

As GM, discuss your world with the players first. Find out what they like and don't like, and hear them out. As someone said a long time ago, "Listen to your players because they often come up with better ideas than you did." (paraphrased). I've been in one campaign where the GM was unbending and it fell apart in 2 episodes. They may not be able to change how the world works, but I hope they can make it a better place.

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