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Forging Ahead (GURPS Interstellar Wars/Celestial Forge)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by cliffc999, Nov 12, 2022.

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  1. cliffc999

    cliffc999 Well worn.

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    Even more impossible than you know, because at least one race of nonhuman sapients - the Vegans - are a current Vilani vassal.

    And the Confederation knows they exist, that's public data in Vilani space.
     
  2. Addlcove

    Addlcove Getting sticky.

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    I always was suspicious of folk not eating meat or fish :p
     
  3. GrayBowser

    GrayBowser Getting sticky.

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    My point is that excessive killing to the extent that other people consider you a threat will make your loved ones less safe.

    Imagine we come across a group of aliens who are known to have utterly destroyed the last civilization that encountered them. We have some archeological evidence, they have their side of the story, but we're uncertain of what really happened. At the moment they're weaker than us. Would you risk allowing them to survive and potentially become stronger? If not, then a humanity that does kill quadrillions of Vilani is doomed the next time it encounters a stronger set of aliens who follow the same reasoning.
     
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  4. D-Red

    D-Red Making the rounds.

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    Is she gonna be a reed Richards is useless?
    Being too smart is sometimes a problem to much thinking and over analyzing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2022
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  5. Duke Dale 626

    Duke Dale 626 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Love it
    Keep up the good work
     
  6. Sto Odin

    Sto Odin Only a very distant relation

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    Good chapter; good insight into Sophia and into the scope of the problem she's dealing with. And a good cliffhanger at the end! even though it doesn't sound like she's going to be all that broken up about having been tagged as a genius the Confederation needs, by people who have access to all the levers of power and resources.

    "diluted", unless that's a weird way of saying that their sovereignty will be reduced to a delusion....
     
  7. SemiSaneAuthor

    SemiSaneAuthor SemiSillyAuthor

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    Hmm, with the now potential better computers from understanding Ceph Computers? If I could talk with the extra-planar being working to it's own goals?

    Forge, this is the point where you give someone proper AI tech. Give the girl her Own JARVIS. Seeing Tony Stark and how AI enabled him in a way that was quite terrifying? Forge, whatever your goals for wanting humanity saved? This would be it, she has the programming skills known to people, she'll soon have super hardware design skills to her name. Inventing an AI would seem like just a logical extension of her computer skills.

    But, rather than me wanting to give The Forge a good talking to?

    A good chapter, and seeing as how DARPA is a part of the Genius Patrol? I do believe Sophia, Magical Forge Girl, is about to end up working at DARPA.
     
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  8. Blade4

    Blade4 Experienced.

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    Honestly she should have seen this coming. She is a priceless strategic asset. Yeah they want her happy and productive but they also can't let her live anything like a normal life either. Surprised the tech quest did not tick off when she delivered those proofs though because she just handed them what they need to revolutionize a number of fields.
     
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  9. Potato and Chip

    Potato and Chip I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I'm rather unaware of the setting, but I have to assume the reason why the Vilani don't seem to have a constant stream of geniuses is because they have a caste system. Their accessible pool of geniuses is only as big as their scientist caste. Then you have to shrink said pool down further; how many members of the scientist caste are sidelined or ignored because politically there are more important, more noble scientist caste members. Ones who are older or have greater power, the ones who decide which projects are worked on or even get present to the ruling castes for funding. Then you need to cut that pool even further for every potential scientist caste member from a powerful scientist caste family who also manages to innovate or invent even when surrounded by a culture that more highly values refinement and reliability.

    Sophia might not of thought of it yet but the Vilani's pool of geniuses is extremely small. Likely smaller then Earth's honestly.

    I guess there are four possible solutions to this;

    Using a techbase that is hard to reverse engineer. Because it was designed to be hard to reverse engineer (like Battletech, where the Star League put a lot of effort into making their stuff really hard to figure out). It uses a techbase that is so foreign to the Vilani's knowledge base that before attempting to reverse engineer it the Vilani have to spend at least a generation or two trying to understand how the hell its even possible. Something that uses eldritch physics or functions in such a way it might as well be magic. Or because its something that the Vilani are just traditionally weak at studying, like biotech. An example might by Tyranid weapons.

    Using technology that has a resource choke point the Vilani can't overcome. I don't know if Sophia can learn how to create resources, but if she were to figure out how to produce, say, element zero that would provide a good way to avoid the Vilani from reverse engineering any Confederation weapons. Make sure any (insert resource here) production facilities are protected religiously and it doesn't matter how many weapons factories they infiltrate or pieces of gear the Vilani capture, they won't be able to replicate it.

    Using technology the Vilani can't or won't take advantage of. Something that might work really well for a small army but is useless for a larger one, though no example comes to mind. As for technology the Vilani would refuse to take advantage of? The one that does come to mind is FTL communications. The Vilani are a feudal empire, with noble houses controlling various worlds and the highest noble houses controlling the imperial throne. It is a very de-centralize power and the various noble houses probably like it that way. FTL communications brings with it the potential for centralization. Many nobles will realize that the wide spread use of FTL communications will mean the shrinking of their authority as the emperor is only a single phone call away. It means the highest noble houses will get to have a constant say in how the other nobles run things. I would fully expect most noble houses to resist the introduction of FTL communications because of how much of a danger they are to their power.

    The final option would be to just go full mad scientist and only build super weapons. Go crazy and build something like the star wars 'Executor' that 19 km long flying city with the miniature deathstar gun that one shots ships. Load it up with shields and turbo blasters and, this is the most important part, only build one of them. If Sophia wants to avoid the dangers of reverse engineering, one of the best ways would be to avoid mass production. So in that case just build superweapons, because if the Vilani manage to bring those superweapons down then the Confederation is screwed anyway.
     
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  10. Doc Sithicus

    Doc Sithicus Know what you're doing yet?

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    Quoting Mordin Solus: "Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong."
     
  11. Kyrin Fireheart

    Kyrin Fireheart Getting out there.

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    Thanks for the meal! Another great chapter and some feels at the end there. Now if that were ME getting drafted I would have killed someone, since I have a huge problem with authority(I really should have figured that out before I joined the army). But for Sophia? That seems like exactly what she wanted. If she's drafted it should be much easier for her to start working on classified projects.

    Also, I just went back to make sure but the story states that despite having a caste system and nobles, the Empire is actually more meritocratic than the Confederation. So the tiny pool of geniuses from a "scientific caste" theory wouldn't work.
     
  12. cliffc999

    cliffc999 Well worn.

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    As an aside, I am really liking being able to give setting data at only the rate the MC learns it, complete with lack of omniscient understanding. :p

    Which is hardly unusual for stories, but is not something I've done as often as I could have.
     
  13. Kyrin Fireheart

    Kyrin Fireheart Getting out there.

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    Ah, then perhaps it's MY misunderstanding of the Vilani genius pool. Well played sir. Well played.
     
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  14. Blade4

    Blade4 Experienced.

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    Not that it particularly matters when they apparently stopped doing fundamental science research since around the time the Roman empire fell. They refine but do not break new ground so even if they can get Terran tech they might need some time just to do anything with it. Do they even have proper scientists I wonder? These guys decided jump 2 was just fine for a thousand years even when it takes years to cross their territory. With these new moly circuits the confederacy is going to develop the empire might be frozen out no able to figure them out without a decade or three and plenty of samples to look at. And the confederacy is just going to keep growing and advancing.
     
  15. ursinethemadbear

    ursinethemadbear Know what you're doing yet?

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    An excellent chapter, even if you are suffering from cranial incontinence.
     
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  16. protoss16

    protoss16 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Computing power is one of the most important resources for scientific progress currently, and I can't imagine how much just that contribution will improve their R&D.
     
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  17. Taliesin

    Taliesin Know what you're doing yet?

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    The moral question is a hard one.

    In a war for survival itself, I think morality doesn't enter into it. Such a war determines, as the saying goes, not who is right, but who is left. The only obligation of a party to such a conflict is to ensure that they're the one left. Unless you're willing to die so the other guy can live, I suppose that's an option if morality is more important to someone than survival.

    The war with the Vilani, despite the Vilani's apparent willingness to use weapons of mass destruction on population centers, might not be for survival. Particularly if humanity surrendered, they'd probably just be occupied.

    How bad, then, would such an occupation have to be before genocide would be morally permissible to prevent it? Is genocide morally permissible to prevent slavery? Oppression in varying degrees? A mere lack of political autonomy?

    Individual moral compasses may differ. And it might be an unfortunate situation where having morality is a civilizational handicap. Civilizations that don't hesitate to skip to genocide at the drop of a hat will likely prevail over those who refuse to do so, all things being equal.

    So there may even be a game theory argument that the galaxy will be full of civilizations that think nothing of genocide if necessary, and anyone who doesn't feel the same way is at a disadvantage.
     
  18. cliffc999

    cliffc999 Well worn.

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    I haven't had a chance to work it into her internal monologue yet, but Kadur Erasharshi's orbital nuking was precisely that - an attempt to force Terra's unconditional surrender by burning a few cities to prove he was serious, then saying that they had until the deadline to bend the knee before he burnt some more. Because if he'd just wanted to destroy humanity, his first salvo would have been a dinosaur killer. He was a very pragmatic man.

    As to why he didn't follow through on round two? The basic gist is already in the story, the details are part of the plot.
     
  19. DancerWithout

    DancerWithout Getting sticky.

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    Honestly, a failing transponder really doesn't seem to fit in with the Vilani who seem to very big on reliable technology. Makes me wonder if there wasn't some kind deliberate attempt to spark an incident. (Probably no way to tell at the time the story takes place.)

    And also a vague wiki read makes me think that Zofia is barely even beginning to ask the right question. The question isn't "How can the Terran Confederation survive the Vilani?" That happens in canon. And then they inherit the huge white elephant of the Vilani empire. And rapidly become the "The ramshackle empire," and collapse into the long night after a couple hundred years of military rule.

    So the real questions are "How can the Terran Confederation survive the fall of the Vilani as a democracy?" And "How can the fall of the Vilani not be an epic humanitarian disaster?" And those are hard questions to answer, even with totally OCP science. Yeah immediate technological advantage probably reduces the harm of the interstellar wars. Maybe a more decisive victory means the confederation can decide to not conquer the Vilani and don't have an admiral decide to make himself an emperor. Maybe. But there is a real possibility that Zofia will eventually realize that actually engineering a happy ending is magnitudes harder than the already immense task. That sound cool to read about. Oh and inventing life extension technology to actually be able to live to see the end of this opens a whole ethical can of beans.
     
  20. SemiSaneAuthor

    SemiSaneAuthor SemiSillyAuthor

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    I'd like to point out that Schlock Mercenary Nano Tech would be great for this. Even if the damn stuff is weaponisable in a scary way.
     
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  21. Narwhale

    Narwhale Know what you're doing yet?

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    I mean, that’s out of context knowledge that she doesn’t yet have any clue to being correct. As far as Zofia is concerned, the Terran’s immediate concern is the potential for fighting back a full-scale Total war scenario against an massive interstellar empire that is (probably) fully willing to glass a planet in nuclear fire if the others will surrender because of it.
     
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  22. DancerWithout

    DancerWithout Getting sticky.

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    True. She has completely legitimate reasons to not be asking the right questions yet. Just noting something that has the potential to give the story a new and interesting direction past the "tech up" phase, especially since she is smart enough to figure this out by the time she needs to.
     
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  23. Sto Odin

    Sto Odin Only a very distant relation

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    Largely correct: the Celestial Forge gave her a quest to deal with the immediate problem -- well, relatively immediate, and it's a problem the Confederation may be in denial about. Anyway, she hasn't been officially assigned the task of getting history off the rails that head it into a series of wars and a nasty Dark Age, and she has no way of knowing that's where canon leads.

    But she has already figured out that changing the next war into a victory is not remotely sufficient to fix the oncoming dark future, and she's responded by stepping up to assign herself a much broader, vaguer quest regardless of what the Celestial Forge thinks she should do. Her speculations are in some ways worse than where the canon history would actually lead, but they're plausible based on her current knowledge base. And she still deserves props for realizing she needs to be proactive in setting goals and not depend on the Forge to do it for her.
     
  24. Acolyte

    Acolyte Know what you're doing yet?

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    Its just reqlly really hard for me to suspend my disbelif about the trillions of people not doing any innovation. I get its whats canon but it rankles and is really hard to swallow.
     
  25. Happerry

    Happerry The Song to the Flame

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    It's not like this is the only setting with space age stasis over long periods of time though. Really, the more unusual thing about Traveler is that technology changes at all, not that it changes slowly.
     
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  26. theshadow603

    theshadow603 Getting sticky.

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    Very tasty update. As always an interesting Mc.
     
  27. lot

    lot Know what you're doing yet?

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    I'm willing to believe that space-age stasis is plausible, it broadly makes sense in this setting at least. The lack of FTL coms and the glacially slow jump drive produce a barrier to the network collaboration effects we've seen do so much good work on Earth. The Vilani might have trillions of people living across thousands of worlds, but that just means that the average citizen lives in a system with roughly a million people living it. There will be core worlds that rival Earth in population, but the structure of Empire disfavours the growth of rivals to the political centre, so there may be far fewer of these than assumed at first blush.

    For the purposes of this story, it means that rather than facing down an empire that has more geniuses than Earth has people, you're looking at an empire that has a handful of geniuses per planet, mostly disconnected from each other because of the caste system. They still make engineering advances, technological break-throughs and other major achievements, but they're siloed and their ideas are discouraged from spreading by the wider political system. After all, if the current system is working why risk a grand new discovery overturning it?
     
  28. Drenmarta

    Drenmarta Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Can't wait for the vial to show up in her pocket in a second due to the whole items are fiat backed to exist thing
     
  29. Blade4

    Blade4 Experienced.

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    Actually no they are not. The answer amounts to not bite off more than you can chew and be the better option to the empire or successor fragments. The confederacy from what I can read got greedy and tried to take the whole pot the second they could when they did not have the military strength or political legitimacy to hold it which cost them everything. The empire is a stagnant stratified relic that sacrificed everything for stability which leaves it very vulnerable to dynamic and adaptive outsider threats. The Confederation has what it needs to win they just need to be smarter about it by not being a overt existential threat but being able to win any conflict or make it to bloody to bother with by nobles to caught up in intrigue while also being a better option to border worlds who see better prosperity as part of it than the empire.

    They dont need win this in one generation but 5 to 10.
     
  30. The Overlord

    The Overlord SCIENCE! both mad, mundane, and perverted

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    The Issue with that thinking is that the 200+ IQ MC also stated that no one would ever know who set of her little WMD and there are plenty of ways it could have happend besides the Terrans, hell id in their shoes put the Terrans towards the BOTTOM of that list since they are by all accounts from the Vilani point of view backwards barbarians who could never, ever, EVER develop the kind of tech she just did, too much evidence would point thats it not being possible, or at the very least so horrendously unlikely id be more likely to believe that the descendants of that one dissident group that was REALLY into expanding on tech set the WMD off as they are a far more logical candidate. Especially potentially say those descendants finding the WMD while trying to find weapons they predecessors left behind but whoopsie the weapon is unfinished in its targeting limitations or they simply dont work properly with the breadth of time that has passed potentially by the targeting of DNA and those with certain DNA would have been spared but there not around anymore. Thus for all intents and purposes it really is a risk free nuclear option and one id have used in her position at the earliest possible opportunity. I wouldn't even need to think about it, my first thoughts would not be about moral consequences but figuring out how to deploy the weapon as swiftly, as broadly, and as as stealthily as possible.

    More simply, there is zero reason to properly believe other aliens would actually believe the Terrans did it the evidence would not be on side for that conclusion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2022
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