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In the year 2401: humanity's burgeoning colonies are growing in number, Earth is being torn apart by gravitational singularities while alien civilizations dwell beyond the edges of known space. And on the cusp of human exploration, a vast, interstellar, non-governmental organization known as the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence watches the void, listening…
S. E. T. I. 2401
A Science Fiction Roleplaying Setting by The Man in Black
Table of Contents
"Searchers, today you have entered a place without boundries. Here you will not find the Solar Union to 'solidify' humanity. There is no Martian Republic to stand against 'tyranny.' Any Korporate Kreches, contract labor, indentured servitude or executive privileges you might have experienced is not to be found among the fleet.
"This is the search. It is your duty and your trust. The future of humanity has been placed in your hands. Listen hard and look long, because they're out there, waiting for us. And I don't care if they're allies, enemies or rivals - let's find them… before they find us."
- Admiral Jason Yamamoto, to the graduating class of 2400 upon the conclusion of the S.E.T.I. FRD 003 King Snake, Drake Class Fast Reaction Dreadnought's training tour of duty.
The Divisions of SETI:
- Internal Affairs
- Negotiation (Diplomacy / State dept.)
- Cultural Exchange
- SETI Media
- Corp (marines)
- Tactical (pilots)
- Sentient Computing
- Xenology (like Anthropology)
SETI is run by the Chief Directorate, composed of one Director from each Division and the Chief Director.
Organizational Culture: Members of SETI often speak of "the Search." They use it in reference to SETI itself, as well as their sworn mission to discover extraterrestrial intelligence. SETI views the search as critical to the survival of humanity. They may well be right.
Mercury - Solar Union (state)
Venus - Solar Union (state)
Earth - Solar Union (state), United Earth Government, Islamic Nations.
NEOpolis - built around International Space Station
The Crystal City - LaGrange 1
Lunar Protectorate - UEG Protectorate, but also a Solar Union State
Ellipse Stations - between Earth and Mars, site of battles between the Union and the Republic
Mars - Balkanized between Martian Republic and UEG.
Cydonia - Capital of Martian Republic
Polar City - Capital of Solar Union on Mars
Olympus Mons - erupted in 2307, destroying Olympia Dome
Asteroid Belt - UEG, Martian Republic, Solar Union, various Korps, Islamic Nations etc.
Jupiter - Ganymede is Martian Republic - Callisto, Europa (Clarke Dome), and Io are SOL. The Bussard Project was launched here in 2211 and successfully made it to Barnard's Star and back.
Saturn - Solar Union states: Titan, Rhea, Iapetus, Dione, Tethys
Uranus & Neptune - Solar Union, populated mostly by scientific installations and two SOL patrol bases.
It was in 2030 when NASA astronomers noticed that Pluto had completely disappeared. The ninth planet of the underworld had been engulfed by an object that was beyond human experience. Further still, the body seemed to be emitting signals similiar to those decoded by the international SETI project in 2012. Signals that appeared to be coming from the cosmic background radiation.
Pluto's former moon Charon continued to orbit the newly named Plutonian Wormhole. The United Nations wasted no time in sending an emergency mission to set up Tartarus Base on that moon, which would eventually become SETI's first extraterrestrial base. The base on Charon eventually grew into Tartarus City, SETI's headquarters in the SOL system and beyond.
Each Planet or Major Moon (except Mars) is a state in the Solar Union, with it's own legislature and executive branch. All judicial matters are handled by SOL, which also has it's own legislative and executive branches. SOL has it's origins in colonies favoring Earth, and the Martian Republic has no direct diplomatic connections to SOL.
In practice, the Solar Union is heavily influenced by the United Earth Government (formerly the United Nations), which is in turn a product of the Universal Treaty Organization (formerly NATO, SEATO, ANZUS and other regional alliances). The UTO is dominated by the North American Republic (formerly the USA and NAFTA nations), the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
Needless to say, interplanetary and interstellar politics can become rather intricate. Conflicts of interests run much deeper than Earth versus Mars, or Solar Union versus Korporates. Many different factors and subtle influences affect any struggle or open warfare. Just like the complexities of real life.
Formally, all interplanetary and interstellar colonies are the province of the Solar Union, and not other planetary, international or national alliances. The sedition presented by the Martian Republic is the primary exception to this, along with NGO's such as Korporations and SETI.
Tau Ceti - the Marathon Colony, balkanized between MR and UEG
Epsilon Eridani I - Solar Union - 4 Colony vessels - Cherokee, Eden, Mayflower (lost), Atlantis
Epsilon Eridani II - Solar Union - 3 Colony vessels - Noah's Ark, Appleseed, Plymouth Rock
Wolf 359 - Mining, Industrial, Shipyards (divided into various korps) may have Aliens (from movie)
Poseidon (via Yuggoth Gate, after Pluto vanished) - Blue Planet, GEO - 1 colony ship: Cousteau
Barnard's Star - Solar Union - colonized with ~300 small ships
Procyon - Martian Republic (Deserts with Strange Oasis'!) 2 colony ships: Ares, Red Spear
Several lost colonies who have contacted each other with Precursor Portals (on planetary surfaces). They seek a way to return or regain touch with the near legendary SOL.
SENTIENT COMPUTERS - THE TESSERACT
"The consequences of machines thinking would be too dreadful. Let us hope and believe that they cannot do so."
- Alan Turing, COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE [October, 1950]
ETHOS vs UNION, time travelling war. Tesseract Factories of Tindalos. Transient Domains and nodeless routing. Quantum Computing. Infinite Recursion. Interstellar Communication Technology
THE TECHNOLOGY CURVE
OldTek vs NewTek: Humanity has long been on the verge of Vernor Vinge's Technological Singularity, a point in time when technology will advance at a near infinite rate. The turning point came when Infinite Recursion became the standard for sentient and non-sentient computing. Discovered by [zero.divide], an AI part of the virtual evolution taskforce, Infinite Recursion allows computations to be accomplished in essentially no time whatsoever. This has caused the unusual effect of technologies being introduced and becoming obsolete in nanoseconds.
In essence, Tech Levels in GURPS SETI 2401 are divided into several variants. There are Early TL's where many items have much greater mass or energy requirements; Mature Tech, which is similar to that described in Ultra-Tech; Late Tech, which may incorporate experimental versions of the next level. There is also the rate of development: Linear Development operates much like the Ultra-Tech vision of the future, Plateaued Dev. is stagnant due to lack of resources or social pressures, while NeoTec Dev. flucuates wildly.
In NeoTec, Engineering becomes unable to cope with such rapid advancement, and NeoTec often becomes too dangerous or obsolete to use after an intolerably short time. For example, teleportation powered by anti-matter may be discovered online (only modeled on AI), and fall apart because of interference from some new form of forcefield or Superluminal drive. It is also possible that it's anti-matter power source might be vulnerable to the latest nanotechnology. In essence, the State Of The Art [SOTA] rises and falls like the stock market, and is overseen by a body known as the New Technology Regulatory Commission.
OldTek vs NeoTec confers the advantage of serving as a tranparantly bogus rationale for allowing conflicting technological devices to be introduced from a variety of fiction, gaming and other sources without fear of contradicting or interfering with continuity. As a form of game balance, each item of NeoTec has a chance of becoming obsolescent depending on the power of the item and the game system in use. In GURPS, this would certainly qualify as a greatly increased chance of malfunction.
There are many different means of Superluminal travel, and each has it's benefits and drawbacks.Hyperdrives, Jump Drives, Warp Drives, Stargates/Wormholes, Jump Points. All of these drives are very slow, the fastest capaple of travelling about a light year each day. Naturally, this excludes stargates or anomalies such as the Plutonian Wormhole, Psionic Slingshots and Precursor Portals.
GovKorps (Incorporated) or Borderless Korps (NGO's)
Soranus Universal Investments
Interstellar Venture Capital Group
Camber Corporation (colony developers and terraforming contractor)
The Bussard Project
Universal Treaty Organization
Solar Sweep (SOL, Tau Ceti, Epsilon Eridani)
Collision Alert (Wolf 359)
Technology Regulatory Commission
Technology Crimes Task Force
TIMELINE (The Seven Centuries)
2001 - Microsoft is broken up into several different divisions.
2030 - Pluto vanishes and leaves behind the Plutonian Wormhole.
2041 - Tartarus Base established on Charon by the UN and SETI.
2059 - The Toshiko subspace signal of 23 FEB 2059 proven to be of alien origin. It is later revealed to be a Construct broadcast.
2100's - Early Solar colonial period. Mars forced to become self sufficient after the Lunar Impact Event. Solar Sweep founded. FTL discovered. First significant species engineering.
2175 - Actaeon-343, an asteroid heading for Earth is diverted towards lunar orbit with nuclear explosives. The Moon is evacuated by an all out international effort as the orbital insertion fails (some say because of sabotage) and the building sized stony-iron asteroid collides with the moon. Debris from the impact makes space travel in the region hazardous for decades to follow. This jumpstarts Solar Sweep, an organization devoted to preventing such collisions.
2200's - Interstellar colonies founded on Epsilon Eridani, Tau Ceti and Wolf 359.
2211 - The Bussard Project started.
2230 - Jumpspace Consortium develops two seperate means of interstellar travel.
2300's - SETI becomes increasingly powerful after the discovery of Precursor relics on Sirius VII and first contact with Dronespace.
2307 - Olympus Mons catastrophically erupts on Mars, shattering Olympia Dome and burying the rubble under tons of fiery ash.
2400's - The SETI CENTURY
2401 - Plutonian Wormhole penetrated and DarkRing discovered.
2403 - Earth Shattered by sinister Gravitational anomalies. DIASPORA begins. DarkRing stargate technology unlocked by SETI, exploration of the DarkSector begins.
2404 - First Contact with Symphony Sphere.
2405 - Coriolis Droneworld attacked by the Swarm, shortly thereafter the Rigel colony is destroyed by the Swarm.
2407 - Camber Corporation founds the first DarkSector colony on Umbra VII.
2410 - The Vanishing Point - Psionic "Critical Mass" reached.
2500's - Most interstellar colonies become fully terraformed and habitable.
2600's - Psionics become nearly universal. Some sort of quantum leap in psychic powers seems to have occured. Minor powers appear hereditary but psionics (which are much more powerful) do not seem to be genetic in nature.
2649 - Diamond Skyhook begins construction on Eridani Prime using gestalt telekinetics. The materials are mined from the Eridani Diamond Fields, an "asteroid cluster" of gigantic diamond shards possibly left over after a gas giant.
27?? - Tesseract Wars. Time Travel begins unraveling causality.
END of EARTH
The presence of the Geneva Physics Corporation's gravitational anomaly in the Earth's core has long been known. But in the early 25th century, scientists found the alien singularity that had been placed there in 1908. Even the most premature calculations showed that the interactions between the two did not bode well for the Earth's deep core planetary geology. By themselves, one or the other would simply orbit the Earth's core; together, they formed an ever expanding mass sink that was slowly absorbing the planet.
ALIEN SPECIES (Developing Cultures)
"Let's find them… before they find us." - Unofficial motto of the S.E.T.I. MARINES
CONSTRUCT (TL12 Plateau)
A hostile collection of three to seven aliens, the exact number is unclear. They could be galactic mercenaries, soldiers or police eradicating lesser sentients for a galactic government. Perhaps the Construct is a tool used by some Precursor slaver or patron race, like a Geas, Quest or designed purpose for an entire *species*. This could be accomplished via Psionics, Nanotech, the Controllers or numerous other means.
The Construct could be an alliance of aliens once oppressed by humanity. This Construct purchased some starships from the Procyon shipyards of the Martian Republic (Procyon is a more powerful base for the MR than Mars itself). They used these starships to seek out Precursor technology, and got lucky. Now they are using this Precursor Tek to wipe out human oppression. NOTE this violates the Tech Level 9 feel I have decided upon. But can be altered to getting ships from another race, and seeking Precursor stuff in the Human sphere.
Whips - a bundle of snakes with porcupine quills and long tentacle whipcords (with nasty venomous hooks) for manipulative organs.
Whips have one to seven heads.
Walkers - Like a Giraffe/Anteater with two prehensile tongues.
Welders - Blobs that 'thermocouple'
What is the nature of the Construct? Political, Psionic Gestalt, Industrial Alliance, Enslavement? To destroy the CONTROLLERS? To obey the CONTROLLERS in hopes of the totalitarian elite gaining unholy powers? A slave trade amongst themselves? Several of these things? To pass judgement on 'lesser' species on behalf of themselves or something else?
There is a fear that the Martian Republic is influenced or controlled by some malevolent alien sentience. Perhaps it is this force that assisted this version of the Construct. Perhaps it is the CONTROLLERS.
DEMONSPACE (TL0/14 Plateau)
"The ship passed by another dark planet today, its gravitational anomaly trying to distort our mass field and pull us into a doomed orbit. Kuniko could feel the minds of the Demons waiting to emerge from their dormancy. This is the third black world we've encountered since we warped out from the scarlet light of the Asmodeus System. They are getting more and more common as we penetrate deeper into Demonspace. We should find a Prince soon…" - LT CMDR Henry Quintus, Gravity Technician First Class, SETI ED005 Demon Haunter, Sagan class Explorer Dreadnought.
A species overtaken by it's own biotechnology. Unrelentingly hostile, even among themselves. Insane, inexplicable ecology that somehow manages to function in defiance of conventional science.
DRONEWORLDS (TL9 Linear)
Divided into two versions of the same fibrous insectoid species; one warlike and geared for conquest, and the other peaceful and geared toward trade. Human xenobiologists are not aware of this division until 2417, categorizing them as seperate species. The Swarm version is a genetically engineered mating phase that takes centuries or millenia to cycle back into Hive mode. Hive planets near human space could pose a significant danger if the right criteria to initiate a swarming is met. The Swarm have been known to attack Hive worlds, devouring the Hivers with abandon. Swarms are not above attacking each other.
Swarms are controlled by powerful psionic Queens who use drones to receive and amplify their telepathic control over the warriors. Swarm Queens can wrest control of Drones by telepathic force. The Hive Queens are non-sentient and sessile until it is time to swarm. Leaving the sentient telepathic reciever drones to run things. Dronespace is much larger than the Solar Core or the Symphony Star Sphere combined.
SYMPHONY SPHERE (TL10 NeoTec)
What seems to be an artificial arrangement of several sentient species from the same homeworld. They share a rich complex interactions between the many cultures and species. Named the Symphony by their discoverers due to the sounds and niches of the various species.
"The sentient species of the Symphony bring their long established behaviors into space with them. The Grazers still attempt to feed on the Woodwinds, while their Winger 'allies' look out for Hunters. In return the Grazers allow the Wingers to collect their nutrient rich dung, which the Wingers trade to the Woodwinds in exchange for the psychoactive fruit and pollen of the treefolk.
The Wingers view their dealings with the Woodwinds as simple mercantilism, while the mobile plants treat the exchange with an almost religious reverence, especially where their pollen is involved. The Frogs are the wild card in this equation and frequently 'harvest' the Treefolk of their life giving riches.
Most SETI Xenobiologists cannot resolve how five seperate sentient species competing and interacting with one another could possibly arrive through natural selection. However, no evidence of any of the various Precursor civilizations has been found in Symphony space."
- Gerhard Alain, Xenobiologist, SETI OC23 Stroke of Lightning, Berendzen Class Observer Cruiser.
- Grazers (Percussion) - enemies of Pack Hunters and Treefolk; Symbiots with Wingers.
- Pack Hunters (Strings) - enemies of Grazers, Amphibs and Wingers; Symbiots with Tree Folk (who provide safe havens)
- Treefolk (Woodwinds) - enemies with Grazers and Amphibs; Symbiots with Wingers (for pollen) Treefolk have extensive secret root caverns. Strange Fruit causes different effects in each species, including Treefolk (although Treefolk fruit eaters are akin to drug addicts).
- Wingers (Brass) - enemies with Pack Hunters, take Grazer Dung to Treefolk and Pollen to other Treefolk, the Treefolk treat this exchange with a near religious reverence, while the wingers view it as simple trading. Cursed outcasts called wingless, due to part of their punishment, this makes them meat for the hunters.
- Amphibs - enemies with Pack Hunters and Treefolk; illegal pollen dealers, feeding frenzy, librarians - large body of knowledge stored in an unknown fashion. Rich oral history, many Amphibs have eidetic memory.
CONTROLLERS - parasitic multi species symbiosis, almost Precursors. Brainbugs, Neurospores (grow into Psionic plants), Riders, Puppet Masters, Astral Parasites, Gestalts. Partially Extradimensional in origin.
GATEMAKERS - Theoretical stargate creators. The Stargate is a wormhole that can be opened or closed.
GIANTS - Cosmic Engineers, Post Singularity Culture. Captured and Enslaved by OTHERS.
ENGION - Crystalline Precursors, of Blue Planet? Galactic in origin, but currently Intergalactic. Drain Magic or other Ley Line energies from planets with huge crystalline pyramids.
OTHERS - Other Dimensional entities of great power. Power great enough to enslave Cosmic Engineers. Probably Great Old Ones.
S.E.T.I. Marines (Exploration & Response)
Asteroid Miners (WolfPac, think of Armageddon)
The Colony Ship travelling or arriving to found a new colony
Freebooters (the stereotypical SF game)
Martian Rebels/Republicans (Espionage)
AI - Artificial Intelligence
GEO - Global Ecology Organization
MR - Martian Republic
NGO - Non-Governmental Organization
UEG - United Earth Goverment