S1E3 – A Whirlwind Tour of Sol part 2 (recorded 9/10/2016)
Greetings from Deimos: your quiet little retreat in the inky blackness of space.
We begin with a brisk round of unfounded opinions about the new HSD “full disclosure” lorebook, discuss sending Hc Svnt Dracones outside the solar system, and then get to our topic for the day, big explosive reveals and big explosive endings for a hypothetical campaign.
We managed to get through this episode without any major hiccups! Whines’s microphone is still a little murky, but we’re working toward solutions (including explaining to Corbeau how his fabulously complex Applied Science and Robotics sound processing module works. Should have gone with the point-and-click Pulse Mediablast!!! Suite. Oh well, next time.
In the tour of real-life destinations for an inner solar system sci-fi setting, two websites really stand out (besides Wikipedia, of course.) The Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature is a massive discussion of the name themes across the solar system (this week, Ceres is very much in the news over there!) And NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Solar System Dynamics site is a huge resource on every object known to orbit the sun. Amazing stuff. Meant to mention these sites on these last two episodes, but it just didn’t happen!
♃ 0.53—Let’s meet our hosts!
♃ 14.00—Hard to find demographics and statistics about online vs. tabletop RPG usage. Here’s an article—more of an extended sales piece—on “the future of gaming,” and a Vice article about the future of VR gaming, but…hard to find sources on this one. The largest provider, Roll20, claims 55,000 users, and in 2000 WOTC estimated 5,500,000 players of D&D and other tabletop games. But how any of these things are defined, or what takes place through Discord chats, etc…up in the air. 10%? 20%?
♃ 14.56—Questions and Opinions: Thoughts about taking HSD out of the solar system.
♃ 16.40—I wanted to word-drop “Picaresque” here, an episodic style that hops from location to location, usually against a corrupt backdrop with engagingly roguish protagonists. It’s a useful word. -Corbeau
♃ 18.20—Another word for this is “blue-booking,” a written series of side-conversations, off-camera scenes, and other stuff too intimite or specific or otherwise not table-relevant. Nixxian mentions toggle messages – for those new to the HSD setting, “toggles” are the character’s ubiquitous mini-computers. Everyone’s got one, a PC about the size of a large coin.
♃ 19.09—Whines and I have dumped love on Vernor Vinge’s “Zones of Thought” cosmos, particularly “A Fire Upon the Deep,” which has engaging multiple levels of reality (including internet chats that help define the character’s reality, and of course talking dog things.)
♃ 21.30—Whines on Generation Ships. According to Wiki, the idea’s been around since at least 1918!
♃ 23.11—It’s not directly relevant to the episode, but Ashtaar is really interested in this topic of optimism and exploration, likely to be one of the upcoming episides. And Nixxian *loves* cuil…also likely to be an upcoming topic, with Halloween coming up…
♃ 26.25—Yes, there is a nice excerpt from the HSD Lorebook up on Tumblr even as we speak, but we won’t talk about that right now.
♃ 26.27—Getting to today’s topic, we’ll start off with The Big Reveal.
♃ 28.05—Can’t talk about Yoda without linking to Yoda. Luke meets Yoda on Dagobah…
♃ 28.25—Ashtaar on enemy territory, particularly mobile bases (ships, etc), as the location of the Big Reveal
♃ 29.55—Corbeau likes the word “liminal” a lot. It’s a vague notion of transition, borders, edges, hazy spaces between worlds.
♃ 32.03—Corbeau also really likes the Cog Afterlife. (HSDEX p.57). Interesting “place,” particularly in a world that otherwise doesn’t have much to do with the concept of souls.
♃ 33.52—Or…they’ll form Voltron
♃ 34.14—Whines brings the Big Reveal back to Mars, returning to the central population hub (Whines had been working on both the Big Reveal and the Big Finish at the same time, some of which ended up on the cutting room floor.)
♃ 35.40—Nixxian: Let’s go to Phobos, the system’s big floating criminal base! (HSD p.63)
♃ 36.50—”The Shades” is a cramped, crime-ridden part of Terry Pratchett’s ancient city of Ankh-Morpork, a suicidal place to enter at the best of times.
♃ 37.10—For newcomers to HSD: Mars, the home planet of the Vector race, once had two moons. Phobos still exists, a massive spaceport. Deimos, sadly, was levelled to make room for a hyperspace bypass, although there’s a new space station called “For Deimos” some distance away from the original chunk of rock. This seems to be one of the very few instances where science, progress, and ethics go seperate ways in Vector culture.
♃ 37.50—Nar Shaddaa is the “Smuggler’s Moon,” a neutral (?) planet controlled by the Hutt. Why is it that in Star Wars, planets always have just one adjective? The Ice Planet, The Desert Planet…
♃ 41.33—Exonymphs—HSDEX p.92—are a semi-playable PC race, a clan of “insects” that gain experience by eating the brains of sentient creatures. Not nice. They started as little bugs created to help with terraforming, things turned dark and horrible when Dr. Gelic Saan attempted to “vectorize” one. (p.95)
♃ 44.34—Onward to the big finale…
♃ 45.20—NASA’s website has lots of material on Ceres, since it’s been the subject of some recent scrutiny. “Panspermia” is the theory that life originated from microorganisms or organic chemicals present in outer space, not…whatever Corbeau thought it might be.
♃ 46.45—The classic “Alien” egg scene…
♃ 47.06—Not sure about the scientist who linked all biblical events to a complex orbit, but Bruce Masse thinks the Great Flood might have been caused by a comet. Whines is probably thinking of Hanns Hörbiger, who was pretty sure one of earth’s many moons crashed into Terra and caused the flood. Also, there are soggy stars. Truth is stranger than fiction. Fictional truth is even stranger.
♃ 47.30—For those new to the game, Europa—Jupiter’s frozen satellite with a liquid core—has artifacts from an alien civilization deep under its frozen crust. Whale bio-probes were sent to investigate, but they came back mutated. Well…more mutated. And they didn’t come back. But they’re still there, centuries later. And they’re even stranger.
♃ 49.22—”Hydra” is HSD shorthand for a horror element squirming through the game’s 700-year backstory. It was the computer virus that triggered the end of life on Terra, and the word turns up in the Europan Orcas’ vocabulary, and in the strange glyphs written in blood wherever strange glyphs in blood are found. It’s the game’s Big, Evil Unknown.
♃ 50.05—The captain from Jaws was named “Quint.” Share a moment of Quint with us.
♃ 50.43—It’s a poor video, but the glory and whatever of Jupiter Ascending is here for you: dragon-wrestling, pretty guys, and a factory collapsing into a flaming inferno.
♃ 51.55—The Nephalim Mana Platform (HSD p.69) is a fuel station to Sol, a refining array “mining” Jupiter’s gas resources.
♃ 52.30—Ashtaar on the rings of Saturn as the site of your final conflict.
♃ 53.29—Whines takes it back home
♃ 55.55—The Proving Grounds, HSD p.68: Pulse and ASR: body vs. the machine. The two corps have a long rivalry, and the Proving Grounds are a part of Applied Science and Robotics’ response to the Pulse media empire. It’s a huge arena filled with massive, massive machines, remote control juggernauts, and machine-on-machine action that is a spectacular bit of competition to Pulse’s bio-enhanced super athletes.
♃ 56.10—Somewhere I meant to drop a reference to “The Scouring of the Shire,”the ending of the Lord of the Rings that never makes it to the big screen. After the apocalyptic scenes at Mount Doom, the villainy waiting for Frodo & company back in the Shire seems so small and petty. You can’t return home—or when you do, you’re not the same person that left originally.
♃ 56.33—The Shadow CEO: HSD p.54: “The Shadow President is a single, nameless civilian that exists above the CEO…their job is as profound as it is simplistic: Watch. Be the stopgap…They have complete access to every asset, every dime, and every piece of R&D…and they are completely anonymous.”
♃ 57.00—What’s cool?
♃ 57.15—It’s past its sell-by date at this point, but if you like the FATE Core system (a rules-light, character-trait driven version of FUDGE) check out the ROCKALYPSE Kickstarter, a music/mayhem setting. Tank Girl meets Gem with a little FLCL. I would want this to be the flaming guitarist from Fury Road, over and over again. – Corbeau
♃ 58.40—Haven’t been able to find the Ars Technica article on magnetite, car exhaust, and Alzheimers, but here’s another post on the same.