Bullion In Science Fiction

Lengthy research into ‘carrying cash’ for science fiction.

I was going to hand out gold coins and plutonium as treasure, but after several articles, I can see other forms of bullion being used. A substantial number of video games also provide larger, bulky items that are sort of ‘coin of the realm’. I think the word is ‘commoditization’ where its value scales depending on the economy. Like how oil can be worth more than you paid for it.

Chip brought a very nice couple of snippets of reference about Star Trek type money GPL and economies. Gold Pressed Latinum sounds like platinum and spends like gold. That’s a bunch of words for plotting a ‘gold’ story arc. I like it, but I’m a plain language guy.

So what ‘coin’ would work for buying and selling off-book? Especially when you’re leaving banking space? Gold, silver, something digital? Something radiant like polonium tubes? Something magic like warpcores?

Coins for a Digital Age:
#1 a CHIP with $1000 credits like a pre-paid ATM. Size of a quarter 28mm.
#2 a one ounce GOLD piece also worth 1000cr. 28mm.
#3 a one ounce SILVER piece worth 100cr. 20mm.
#4 a radioactive nuclear power-plant fuel ROD worth 10kcr. 10mm x 50mm
#5 a radioactive djinn-food ETHER worth 10kcr. The name is a WIP.

Three that handle easily, two that take handling care, but all can be easily swapped and stolen. It implies common-casing such as we find in fast food (all pizza bases are the same size, therefore the boxes are too) or in electricity (matching plugs, adapters, hertz). Denominations: 100 credits, 1000 credits, 10kcr.

This economy would be just a pinprick compared to cargo. Cargoes costs around 12Mcr. A company want to ship something. They could pay you to carry it 28k, they could pay expenses plus 28k, you can buy that same object, then sell it. This is: fill my hold and make 28,000/mo tops. This is designed as 56,000 divided between the upkeep and the crew.

Being a commodity, there would be simple radiation-proof bags and/or tech-tubes for toting around objects you would presumably buy and sell. But this is nowhere near the income from corporate shippers. To make a killing, find treasure to sell. Pirate booty wasn’t just some doubloons.

All these Internet people [an annual retrospective]:

Owen invited me to a game, ran session 0, cancelled. Ghosted. Nicole joined and never spoke. Ghosted. Edward ghosted. Amber never ran a game. Ghosted. Dave was no drugs in a druggie game and refused all traps and dungeons. King rolled a character and no showed. Ghosted. Bob was I do drugs, I drug you, murderhobo Bender. Poor Don, Bob invited him and then killed him [but we kept the drone, stealth device, and rocket boosters]. Ghosted. Oli wanted to be an ex-cop, Ghosted. Matthew22 demanded a lesbian racist dressed as a man after rolling up a male professor. Paul drifted in and out – only showed for violence showed no interest in rules. Ghosted. Clay everyone bullied to cater to his weird obsession with androids. Fearnow never returned a single email over a years time. Ghost. Jim Bennett applied to join with references and insulted me instead. Sean fucked up and his player won’t leave Denny’s because he doesn’t want to follow his rumor. Ghosted.

A Foreigner Asks To Play

Alf decided to help me by finding players. Alf is 9 hours away from me. Alf is as welcome as a headcold but he consistently ‘wins’.

He sent me an application from a prospective player. I wrote a nicely worded letter of invitation.

He said he wasn’t nor ever had been interested in my game or subject matter. That I was too fantastic and he preferred wizards.

I literally spent two hours writing a letter to a Canadian troll on the advice of a Swede.

My rage equals my embarrassment at their snide bullshit.

OSR gameplay and MC syndrome

This is OSR SciFi gaming with some extensions for RP. That’s shorthand for “Old School Renaissance”, meaning that the book only covers the mechanics of making a character and the mechanics of combat, survival and skills. The book doesn’t bother defining roleplaying, that’s just the chatter created by the background. The book[s] don’t define a background. Hopefully “SciFi” is understood as speculative future fiction.

Sessions are 3hrs. I’m DMing along, writing a little area to cross with story hooks to dungeons, confrontations, traps etc. I have 5 players, Alf, Bet, Cap, Del, Ech. To be simple this is also their level of seniority. Their leader is Alf. Oddly Bet is always ‘in-cryo’ or ‘in med-bay’ and misses the action.

Cap has main character syndrome so bad, he’s trying to rewrite canon OOC, he floods chat. Alf has openly asked that Cap calm down and stop asking “Out Of Character Do I” questions about the background of a watercolor* campaign. These questions lead to rabbit-holes that only interest Cap. Del has stated specifically he wants to ‘get on with it’ and stop dicking about.

I start them at a point on the map, showing the whole map, even the ‘lair’. They are standing at the sign that says “Dragon’s Lair Untold Riches”. They have magic fire-retardant.

[this is shorthand, they have Uzis, grenades, and a police drone] The plot: orientation to map1, hear rumor, meet seer; then maguffin hunt map2, deliver the maguffin to Oz from the rumor map3, survive gauntlet against wicked witch map4; Oz rewards you with treasure and a new rumor.

Ech says “we leave this area and spend twenty thousand gold for a week in the uncomfortable nearby inn instead.”

I move the hooks to the new location and point them back to the dungeon. They manage to roleplay the fuck out of a hook and decide, instead of hooking back to the dungeon, Ech turns their informant in for a five hundred credit reward. Spend 20k, made .5k, loss 19.5k.

I set three new hooks. Literally roll on the table in front of them. Again Cap spends clock time imagining android-theft-ring hooks that don’t exist. He babbles. The crew inspects a roleplay object associated with their informant. They discuss the non-existent economic system. I tell them about salary again. They get into another nonsense about filling up with loot to sell elsewhere. They’re writing themselves full circle… burning hundreds of terraflops that put them right back where they were, but millions in the hole.

Over two hours burned off the clock – no movement toward the dungeon. Game called at 2:13.

They literally ask for XP for refusing to play. It is costing months just to get them to enter the door in front of them. I despair.

Epilogue: Cap reads this and suicides because he doesn’t get to go shoot androids for fun; Bet quit last month citing time conflict; Ech runs from responsibility like a pussy after stranding the ship on a heavy world that’s sucking the life out of them.

How I still use a little Starjammer

As technology improved, travel time between worlds dropped from months and years to days, and the optimal routes between planets became crowded with spacecraft. Yet even in this new age of space flight, voyages beyond the solar system remained rare; traveling to even the nearest star at conventional speeds would take generations.

A few starships might have drives capable of circumventing this obstacle, all rely on extremely expensive (scifi magic) technology, often controlled by church, guild, or other organizations. From Helldrives (starstuff) to the prayer-fueled cores of Cathedralships, most of these technologies not only took the ship through other planes but also operated with direct divine assistance, and thus always came with a hefty price.

While other drives had been theorized that otherwise bent the rules of physics, I’m sticking with three tiers. Why? I’m an idiot that I do everything in threes, pretty much like OCD. It’s just my thing.

Pilot begets Hyper begets Guild. except Helldrives beget Radiation beget BugWars. BugWars begat CloneWars begat VICI. Mysticism begets Djinntheory begets Hyperspace. I think my Guildpilots are Djinn.

‘HellDrives’ are anything that splits the atom in a magic way to go fast. Star Trek had a flash… 2300ad

BugWar was a tabletop boardgame and Traveller x StarshipTrooper hack – I gave the bugs a terrible migraine whenever a Helldrive arrived. hence Radiation begat RedAntDefenses begat SenselessImperialAssault<tm>

‘CloneWars’ is part of Blade Runner x StarWars, people, replicants, clones bred for war, doomed to eternal conflict and spiraling PTSD. It feels correct in the same ‘time’, though the Blade Runner game is restrictive.

‘CathedralShips’ open existing fissures without external passage of time. This is a Fall of Man returns to Gods and Guilds theme that I really groove on – movie: Riddick.

Forcing Labor

Plot – 4000-5200ad the major church allowed and encouraged the ‘death’ of all ‘unsafe’ AI.

Plot – 4200-4667 after a Dark Age, robotics replace forced hard labors 3LS.

Plot – 4400ad after reaching orbital assets, androids are allowed to enter service 3LS.

Plot Fun (it’s not always about race, it’s about control of production):
Copypasta favorite person> “Frederick Douglass was a formerly enslaved (sophont) who became a prominent activist, author and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery. After (extreme) conflict and the Emancipation Proclamation, he continued to push for equality and (sophont) rights.”

How are sapient (AI) Androids not free? Why not? Do we tell the mentally sophisticated device we own it, or do we tell the software it is free? Could the Bank tell its parents, ‘your baby will cost 2.5 million credits, will this be cash or indentured servitude?’

Is science officer Ashe/Bishop a man or a corporate device? Is that what makes him creepy?

Why Is An Android 3LS?

-> Firstly, replicants were runaway slaves 2030 2037 2049ad [it is assumed that any attempt to install a soul results in mental breakdown see: I Robot]. Then, secondly, free androids suicided en unison 3999ad [again I Robot – VICI]. Following that, we only used ‘robots’ that didn’t resemble a human [like R2D2 is a can and a combine harvester doesn’t need your physical presence].

-> The Empire found that ‘droids don’t lie and cannot accept the fantastic* dissembling (literal meaning) that makes IngSoc ‘newspeak’ possible. My direct influence is George Orwell’s 1984. I don’t see an intellectual C3P0 able to parse something that essentially moronic and self-destructive as PC. Orwell’s work was both satire and assumption that Byzantium left its mark on history and should not be repeated (an ever-growing un-knowable, un-navigable, bureaucracy of essentially zero practical use). [as was noted, even their mediocrity is commoditized, ‘I can hack my own system for $10k, they never actually gave me security access when I was hired 7 years ago…’]

-> Android Kill-off: Their OS (operating system) crashed for 666 years of plague, starvation, pestilence, and a death rate of 90%. This the humans rightly blamed on the OS (an Artificial Intelligence, VICI, infected them). Society fell into a Dark Ages during which they turned to the ‘old gods’ (Lovecraftian horrors that live in the space between spaces) who granted them the power of Hyperspace Threading(tm). The world resembled a Dark Ages in which ritual and cleanliness made religion attractive.

-> Inquisition: 603 or so years later, a religious oligarchy control the original 12 worlds [10ly] (scouring space for ‘AI heresy’), most everyone [250ly radius] can communicate within a few light years, short-hop a few parsecs to get a job, and planets that supported millions lay fallow [500yr forests, fallen cities, major coolness]. Society still has a deeply ingrained distrust of synthetic beings and (like Millennium Man) they do not “Free” most AI, though they do recognize their rights to enter contracts and own property. [again, the Empire can’t find themselves without quiet, level-headed assistants, but refuse to emancipate them]

‘The Fleet’ Starts At Sirsalis

As soon as Crewe One steals this, we jump for Boros Sector outside the Empire.

Big yellow menacing spaceship in dock
Black Hole

Back at Sirsalis Crater – Minor House Hutt is on the move. Lord Peter Hutt pounced on this grain supply. More than likely ‘Queen’ Noor (Minor House, full citizen, 400 yrs) is abandoning assets she cannot use (can’t grow grain on Venus) in hopes that he and his small-time mafia fuck off back to the 1.8g world he came from Boros III. “This guy is a pest. He’s into my weapons black market at Saturn. His niece is a loose cannon.”

Ancient grain containers from Noor and modern farm equipment

Boros itself is a barbarous planetary system of petty lords and Factions without Warp that shot down their VICI, promptly had a deadly civil war, and now is under-performing in exports with only a handful of small ships for defense. Peter’s elderly aunt has held the third, farm-able planet in good management while he came to Saturn, buying art and brokering deals for vital advancements. He’s hired dozens of scientists (soil, botany, hydrology, nuclear) and provides free fuel for any ship to join him. Especially if they’re not adverse to some pilfering. Take what you can, hide everything, give nothing back.