[20:01] <+SarahNewton> Cool. Hi everyone – I’m Sarah Newton, and I’m here to talk about my new far future transhuman science-fiction RPG, “Mindjammer”.
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[20:02] <+SarahNewton> Mindjammer is a Fate Core RPG – it’s a standalone game, a full-size 496-page modular science-fiction game, published by Mindjammer Press and distributed by Modiphius Entertainment.
[20:03] <+SarahNewton> It’s in preorder right now, with the hardback shipping at the end of March, and all preorder customers getting immediate access to the “Thoughtcast Edition” pre-release PDF download right now, with the final production PDFin roughly a week’s time.
[20:04] <+SarahNewton> The game’s actually the second edition – the first edition was a supplement for the Starblazer Adventures RPG, and won a Judges Spotlight Award at the 2010 ENnies. The new edition is massively rewritten, expanded, and updated.
[20:04] <+SarahNewton> For the Fate Core rules, 3x the size of the 1st ed, with all new artwork and tons of new content.
[20:05] <+SarahNewton> It’s had some very positive reviews in the 3 weeks since we started preorders, and has been called “the lovechild of Traveller and Eclipse Phase”. 🙂
[20:05] <+SarahNewton> That’s the high-level stuff – would anyone like to jump in, or should I head off into describing the game and setting a bit more?
[20:06] <~Dan> Any questions so far, folks?
[20:06] <&Silverlion> Tell me how do you fit Space Opera and Transhuman together
[20:06] <+SarahNewton> Hi Silverlion! 🙂
[20:07] <+SarahNewton> Good question. Well, imagine a game based on Iain Banks’ Culture, or Dan Simmons or Peter Hamilton’s universes. It’s hyper-advanced technology, with transhuman themes throughout, but with a huge interstellar scope and lots of action.
[20:07] <+Songtress> Can you play without he ‘Transhuman’ elements?
[20:08] <+SarahNewton> The Mindjammer game has a default setting – The New Commonality of Humankind – but is also an open modular ruleset you can use to play any 21st century science-fiction, so you can use it with your own homebrew setting, or any popular or pre-existing published setting.
[20:08] <+SarahNewton> Hi Songstress! 🙂
[20:08] <+SarahNewton> Yes, you can. The game’s very modular.
[20:09] <+SarahNewton> Even in the New Commonality setting, the milieu is one where there are many different tech indices and different cultures and worlds co-existing; some extremely advanced, some divergent, some low tech bootstrapping cultures, so you can pitch it just right for your group and find the right balance you like.
[20:09] <~Dan> What are the main sources of the action you mentioned? Are there any central conflicts?
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[20:09] <~Dan> (Howdy, Serami!)
[20:10] <+SarahNewton> There are central conflicts and themes.
[20:10] <&Silverlion> Any aliens?
[20:11] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[20:11] <+SarahNewton> One of the main causes of conflict and action is the clash between the expanding, hyperadvanced transhuman interstellar civilisation of the New Commonality, and the “lost colonies” and “rediscovered worlds” its contacting and trying to integrate into itself. Some of those worlds do not want to be integrated – so there’s often culture clash and violence.
[20:12] <+SarahNewton> Yes, there are aliens. There are basically two types: aliens which are divergent human subspecies, either engineered from the human norm or having diverged over millennia, and terrestrial animals which have been uplifted to intelligence to provide cheap labour or companionship. That’s the first type of alien.
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[20:12] <~Dan> (Howdy, Le_Squide!)
[20:13] <+SarahNewton> The second type of alien is the genuine alien: exointelligences which have evolved on different worlds than Old Earth, and which are *extremely* alien. The book gives you examples of both types, plus guidelines to create your own; one of the true aliens for example is the Planetary Intelligence, a whole world which is an emergent consciousness and
[20:14] <+SarahNewton> biotech expert, currently in a symbiotic relationship with the Chembu, a divergent human subspecies who are the Commonality’s foremost experts in genurgy (biotech).
[20:14] <+SarahNewton> Would you like to know more? 🙂
[20:14] <+Songtress> So Ewa from Avatar (the blue cat people movie)? Could be a type of planetary intelligence in Mindjammer?
[20:15] <+SarahNewton> Eywa is certainly a possible alien in Mindjammer, yes. So is Solaris, for example.
[20:15] <~Dan> Are any of the true aliens advanced enough to challenge the Commonality?
[20:15] <+SarahNewton> You even have biotech avatars in Mindjammer, so you could literally play one of the Eywa avatars.
[20:16] <+SarahNewton> As a civilisation, not obviously at the moment. Although I should qualify that:
[20:17] <+SarahNewton> The Planetary Intelligence appears to have its own agenda. It’s actively been changing the hominid Chembu into a kind of symbiotic massmind, which they’re engaging in voluntarily, but which is developing something called “Stage 3 Gestalt Communication”, which
[20:17] <+SarahNewton> is able to change the way they think and exert huge power over the consciousness. Although the Planetary Intelligence is confined to a single world, the Chembu aren’t, and they have huge “bioships”
[20:17] <+SarahNewton> travelling throughout the Commonality providing genurgy service – and many feel they’re a threat.
[20:18] <+SarahNewton> There’s also something called the “Pulse Dragon Phenomenon”.
[20:19] <+SarahNewton> The Commonality has 2 types of FTL tech; the most common of these is the planing engine – imagine what the Alcubierre warp drive might become if *heavily* developed. It travels through “2-space”, using synthetic minds as navigators.
[20:20] <~Dan> (Are those the eponymous “mindjammers”?)
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[20:20] <+SarahNewton> If a starship drops out of 2-space into interstellar space, it’s immediately destroyed by the Pulse Dragon Phenomenon. There’s very little information about this, but it’s theorised it’s some kind of interstellar intelligence, life form, or ancient device.
[20:21] <+SarahNewton> The “Mindjammers” are a type of starship which is responsible for updating and synchronising the “Mindscape” through the Commonality.
[20:21] <+SarahNewton> Starships are intelligent in Mindjammer – you can play one as a character.
[20:21] <~Dan> Nice. 🙂
[20:22] <+SarahNewton> The “Mindscape” is a kind of far future interstellar version of the internet – a vast data storage and communications medium which all Commonality citizens are connected to by Mindscape (neural) implant.
[20:22] <+SarahNewton> You can upload your thoughts and memories to the Mindscape, and download those uploaded by other people – including dead people – effectively “remembering” things that happened to other people.
[20:22] <+SarahNewton> However,
[20:22] <+GenoFoxx> Mindjammers are similiar to the courier service of ‘Traveller’
[20:23] <+SarahNewton> when travelling between star systems, you can reach worlds where the Mindscape hasn’t yet been updated with memories and “thoughtcasts” you may have uploaded previously. In other words, it may not yet contain your memories (or exomemories of others). This can cause problems – something called “Chronodisplacement” – which can be disoriented, especially if you
[20:24] <+SarahNewton> use the Mindscape to store important stuff (and almost everyone does).
[20:24] <+Songtress> So what is Chronodisplacement?
[20:24] <+SarahNewton> The Mindjammers’ job is to travel between the worlds of the Commonality, keeping the Mindscape in synch and preventing chronodisplacement as much as possible.
[20:24] <&Silverlion> Is the Pulse Dragon thing ALWAYS/Everywhere or only in one locale?
[20:25] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[20:25] <+SarahNewton> Chronodisplacement is the disorientation you experience when the Mindscape contains versions of your memories which are out of date with the ones you remember having, very roughly.
[20:26] <~Dan> “I don’t remember remembering that…”
[20:26] <+SarahNewton> The Pulse Dragon Phenomenon appears to occur when you drop out of 2-space in deep space, outside the influence of star system gravity wells. It doesn’t prevent FTL travel between star systems, but has made it very difficult to explore the interstellar medium.
[20:27] <+SarahNewton> There are rogue worlds out there which only the STL lightjammers of the alien Lowhigh visit, for example.
[20:27] <+SarahNewton> FTL has only existed for the past 200 years in the Commonality – despite the Commonality being some 10,000 years old. Its discovery started the Expansionary Era, Rediscovery, and the New Commonality of Humankind.
[20:27] <+SarahNewton> Dan: exactly. 🙂
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[20:28] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:28] <+SarahNewton> Kind of like amnesia and deja vu at the same time. 🙂
[20:28] <~Dan> So I take it that no alien civilizations have FTL?
[20:28] <+SarahNewton> They do now.
[20:29] <+SarahNewton> The Commonality in its early years was quite naive, and very open-handed. Just over a century ago they met a divergent hominid species in the Orion Cluster – the Venu – who turned out to be xenophobic in the extreme,
[20:30] <+SarahNewton> and who stole Commonality FTL, reverse engineered it, and invaded the Commonality. They did a lot of damage – particularly to Commonality trust and self-confidence – before being turned back, and the
[20:30] <+SarahNewton> Commonality has become much more cautious and in fact quite distrustful and somewhat paranoid since.
[20:32] <+SarahNewton> Also, the Commonality is expanding rapidly, rediscovering lost colony worlds of Old Earth, and coming into contact with exointelligences. They haven’t discovered a major existential enemy yet – the Venu are probably as bad as it’s got so far – but they are expanding more cautiously at the moment.
[20:32] <~Dan> I note that some transhuman settings make much of being trans-death as well. Is that an aspect of Mindjammer?
[20:32] <+SarahNewton> Still, the Event Horizon Probes at the Commonality Frontier are hard at work, and the Security and Cultural Integrity Instrumentality has its hands full contacting lost colonies and keeping cultural conflict under control. And often failing. 🙂
[20:33] <+SarahNewton> It depends what you mean about trans-death. There’s no concept of re-sleeving in Mindjammer, but there are extremely long-lived synthetic intelligences thousands of years old, and recently the Commonality Mortality Statues (which mandated euthanasia at 500 years old) have been repealed,
[20:33] <+SarahNewton> and people now have theoretically no upper limit to lifespan, at least in the Commonality.
[20:34] <+SarahNewton> Longevity treatments are less available on rediscovered worlds, mostly because of the societal upheaval they cause, but that’s also cause for huge friction.
[20:35] <+SarahNewton> There are lots of issues around the nature of identity, consciousness, and persistence of individuality in Mindjammer – or, I should say, as much as you want to include in your game.
[20:35] <+SarahNewton> You can play a very trad SF RPG style like military scifi, 5 year mission exploration, trading campaigns, etc, if you want to.
[20:35] <+SarahNewton> Or you can explore the transhuman side of things, push the definition of what it means to be human, become posthuman yourself, etc.
[20:36] <~Dan> Are there any “normal” humans left in the Commonality?
[20:36] <+SarahNewton> Absolutely!
[20:37] <~Dan> Are they considered Luddites? 🙂
[20:37] <+SarahNewton> The Commonality would like people to think it’s a universal, homongenous society, but it most definitely isn’t.
[20:38] <+SarahNewton> There’s a very big difference between the hyper-advanced worlds of the Commonality Core, and the Fringe Worlds, all of which have been either settled or rediscovered and integrated in the past 200 years.
[20:38] <+SarahNewton> And there are worlds on the Fringe and beyond the Frontier which have never been part of the Commonality.
[20:38] <+Songtress> With FTL are new worlds farther out being ‘discovered’ & Colonized?
[20:38] <+SarahNewton> So there are some strange and almost alien human societies in places, but also societies which are lower tech, and less enhanced, and much more familiar to us 21st century folks.
[20:38] <+SarahNewton> Yes, exactly.
[20:39] <+SarahNewton> The Expansionary Era is driven by a process called “Rediscovery”.
[20:39] <+SarahNewton> Basically, for 10000 years before the invention of FTL, the First Commonality sent out STL generation and stasis colony ships to the stars, in a “Great Diaspora” lasting 5000 years.
[20:39] <+SarahNewton> They created many thousands of colonies.
[20:40] <+SarahNewton> Because of the distances, the vast majority of those lost contact, and went their own way.
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[20:40] <+SarahNewton> Some fell into low tech or even savagery, even forgetting about Old Earth; others kept their technology and knowledge, but diverged genetically from human norms.
[20:40] <+SarahNewton> They’re out there, stretching up to 10000 light years from Old Earth, scattered like dust.
[20:41] <+SarahNewton> The Commonality Frontier is currently 1500 light years from Old Earth – a flattened sphere roughly 3000 light years across – but it’s estimated that there are lost colonies far further out still. No one really knows what Rediscovery will find.
[20:42] <+SarahNewton> There are rediscovered worlds with colonies almost “frozen” in time – based off historical Old Earth cultures – and there are the rare “slowships” still travelling between the stars, with generations of colonists living aboard in vast garden ships, or with frozen colonists in stasis, virtual time travellers.
[20:44] <~Dan> Obviously, this is an enormous setting. What sort of guidance does the book offer regarding where to start?
[20:44] <+SarahNewton> there’s lots of advice about playing the game, where to start, etc, including an entire chapter devoted to campaigns, and one to genres, tone, style, etc.
[20:45] <+SarahNewton> Basically if you imagine Mindjammer as a 21st century “modern scifi” version of Traveller, you’ll probably be able to see where your campaigns can happen, what you can do, etc.
[20:46] <+SarahNewton> Also, because the game is Fate Core, creating your immediate game environment is part and parcel of character creation, so you can pretty much generate that on the fly.
[20:46] <+SarahNewton> The book also contains starmap templates, so you can create a single world, or a star system, or an octant, subsector, or sector of space and call it your own.
[20:46] <+SarahNewton> The book contains an octant of space in Chapter 24, including 20 ready made worlds.
[20:47] <+SarahNewton> Just today we had a Mindjammer GM at the forums post his own ideas for a cool sector of space – the “Far Havens” out beyond the Commonality frontier, which was very cool. I’d never heard of it before, but I can’t wait to visit. 🙂
[20:47] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:48] <+SarahNewton> So, short answer: you can make the setting your own. Most of it you’ll grok already because it’s scifi – there isn’t a vast amount of canon to learn or remember or anything, just a lot of material to help fire, support, and inspire your imagination. 🙂
[20:48] <~Dan> I think Fate rules have a reputation for being a bit… well, fluffy. How crunchy is your variant? And while we’re on the subject, is this a complete game, or a supplement?
[20:49] <+SarahNewton> It’s absolutely a complete, standalone game. Contains the Fate Core rules, plus new rules for enhancements, equipment, starships, organisations, cultures, planet, civilisation, and stellar body system generation, ecosystems, alien life, etc.
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[20:50] <~Dan> (Howdy, Jetrauben!)
[20:50] <+SarahNewton> We’ve had some good positive stuff said about the new systems – I’m crazy about science, and although I love my action-packed space opera and sci-fi, Mindjammer has a solid scientific underpinning, so there’s very little out-and-out handwavium as such.
[20:51] <~Dan> I was just discussion Fate Core with someone in the chatroom today, and he mentioned that the optional weapon damage rules rate weapons from 1-4. I’m assuming you expand on that?
[20:51] <+SarahNewton> The game runs as crunchy as you like – I like a fair bit of crunch in my games, and I don’t like arbitrary games systems. Fate Core is actually a very trad ruleset at root; it’s only in the aspects that it becomes something different.
[20:51] <+Jetrauben> (Hello!)
[20:52] <+SarahNewton> Yes, absolutely. Equipment is importance in Mindjammer – the game uses the “extras” rules in Fate Core to huge effect, so that genurgic enhancements, genotype abilities, and gear assume the importance you’d expect them to have.
[20:52] <+SarahNewton> Hi Jetrauben! 🙂
[20:52] <+SarahNewton> So, yes, as crunchy as you like – you can dial that up or down to suit you.
[20:53] <+SarahNewton> Likewise the Fate rules can dial any of the narrative or meta elements you want, also.
[20:53] <+SarahNewton> I play pretty trad. 🙂
[20:53] <~Dan> So a weapon can do more than just a damage of 4? 🙂
[20:54] <+SarahNewton> Most definitely. Weapons can have aspects – Burst Fire, Full Auto, Blaster Bolt, Recoilless, etc.
[20:54] <+SarahNewton> They can have attack bonuses, or weapon ratings.
[20:54] <+SarahNewton> They can also have special abilities, such as the ability to stun, snare, disintegrate, etc.
[20:55] <+SarahNewton> You can also have sentient weapons, which can have their own skills and abilities, and you can plug in your own skill chips via the Mindscape to enhance your weapon or weapon skills with, say, the exomemories of dead war heroes.
[20:56] <+Songtress> Do have transporters or something (like Star Trek) or matter converters?
[20:56] <+SarahNewton> There aren’t transporters per se
[20:56] <+SarahNewton> But there are things called “makepoints”
[20:57] <+SarahNewton> which are mass / energy converters.
[20:57] <+SarahNewton> They use the zero point (ZIP) power which is a discovery which came along with FTL planing, and are able to synthesise atoms, molecules, and materials from direct energy conversion.
[20:58] <~Dan> Does that make the Commonality a post-scarcity society?
[20:58] <+SarahNewton> They’re routinely used on starships to generate air and basic foodstuffs, and on colonies to generate raw materials which may otherwise be unavailable on a world or in a system.
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[20:58] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Morrus!)
[20:58] <+SarahNewton> TBH, I think “post-scarcity” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s important to pin it down a bit.
[20:59] <+SarahNewton> Some star systems have more or less resources than others – some stars actually contain fewer elements than others – so by definition some materials are scarce on certain worlds.
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[20:59] <~Dan> (Howdy, TwentySix!)
[20:59] <+SarahNewton> The Commonality is an advanced society, and in most cases can produce whatever it needs.
[21:00] <+SarahNewton> Especially in the Core Worlds, scarcity only exists if people decide it should. Some of the older more conservative Core Worlds are agri-worlds, for example.
[21:00] <+SarahNewton> Out on the Fringe, though, the situation is very chaotic. Makepoints can produce basic materials, but makepoints themselves have to be manufactured and distributed, and can cause massive economic
[21:01] <+SarahNewton> upheaval and dislocation, so the Commonality doesn’t *allow* some rediscovered worlds to have that tech until they’re ready for it.
[21:01] <+SarahNewton> That’s called the Commonality embargo, and is pretty important: embargo runners on the Fringe make a fortune breaking the law and shipping illegal tech to embargoed or quarantined worlds.
[21:02] <+SarahNewton> So although the tech exists to eliminate scarcity, the nature of star systems and the chaotic process of rediscovery and the varied nature of societies and tech distribution means the whole thing is very uneven. 🙂
[21:02] <+SarahNewton> Hi Morrus! Hi Twenty Six! 🙂
[21:04] <~Dan> Just how trans- can transhumans get before folks will say, “You, sir, are a freak”?
[21:04] <+SarahNewton> Lol – you can get pretty far out.
[21:05] <+SarahNewton> Commonality citizens can be extremely long-lived, they can have highly divergent body plans, they can change sex, skin colour, build, appearance, etc, using genurgic treatments.
[21:05] <+SarahNewton> You can be an autotroph – generate your own food using photosynthesis.
[21:05] <+Morrus> How flexible is the system in terms of modeling sci-fi? Could you do Star Trek, Star Wars, Galactica, etc., or is it fairly setting-tied?
[21:06] <+SarahNewton> there are hominid subspecies that can tolerate vacuum environments, aquatics, etc.
[21:06] <+SarahNewton> It’s not setting tied at all – very deliberately designed to be that way. The Commonality as a setting is intended to be “21st century modern scifi” – imagine a transhuman space opera version of Traveller’s Imperium.
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[21:07] <+SarahNewton> The Imperium is / was basically Asimov – the RPG. The Commonality makes you think Iain Banks’ Culture, Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth, Cordwainer Smith, Alaistair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, etc.
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[21:08] <+SarahNewton> So the setting is very easy entry, but also deep; and the rules likewise. You can use Mindjammer to play any setting very easily – it’ll do your favourite homebrew, or your favourite published or movie setting.
[21:08] <+SarahNewton> Also, because it’s Fate Core, it’s very easy to generate that setting collaboratively with your players.
[21:09] <~Dan> (Caveat: I realize that I’ve previously asked you some of what I may ask you during this Q&A. It’s just my way of getting it “on the record”. I haven’t gone insane. Or if I have, this isn’t a symptom.)
[21:10] <+SarahNewton> Lol I feel a sudden kinship Dan. 😀
[21:10] <+Morrus> Sounds wonderful! (I say that, but I know it is!) What made you choose Fate over other systems such as Savage Worlds, or it’s own system?
[21:10] <+Le_Squide> Any particular setting bits you are particularly proud of?
[21:10] <+SarahNewton> Good question Morrus! 🙂
[21:10] <~Dan> Do psionics exist in the setting, and if so, what are they like?
[21:10] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[21:10] <+SarahNewton> Good questions all! OK – in order. 😉
[21:10] <+SarahNewton> So – Fate for me was perfect for Mindjammer.
[21:11] <+SarahNewton> I started developing the setting about 6-7 years ago, when I was musing on some of the backstory for The Chronicles of Future Earth.
[21:11] <+SarahNewton> The New Commonality is all about humans going to the stars, fighting impossible odds, but also *maybe* (just maybe) *succeeding*.
[21:11] <+SarahNewton> I wanted a Golden Age optimistic feel, not grimdark – terrifying odds, massive dangers, but heroism.
[21:12] <+SarahNewton> I wanted culture conflict, but where the PCs could take the initiative and affect the fates of entire worlds, command fleets, overthrow governments, become something more than human,
[21:12] <+SarahNewton> pilot intelligent starships, use the Mindscape to pilot / remote control synthetic humanoid avatars or massive war machines in virtuality, etc.
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[21:13] <+SarahNewton> I first tried writing the rules for BRP, then Traveller, but found myself really struggling to make all the various scales and subsystems interact in an elegant, manageable way, with a single resolution mechanism that was deep, flexible, yet easy to grok.
[21:14] <+SarahNewton> Then I discovered Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventures in late 2008, December 2nd or thereabouts, and I knew in Fate 3rd edition I’d found the rules system that could do it.
[21:15] <+SarahNewton> The Fate Fractal lets you do everything I needed; and with Fate Core, the new extras rules open up that sliding between scales and paradigms, and that assuming the mantle of cultures, organisations, mass fleet and army actions, etc, really easily.
[21:15] <+SarahNewton> So IMHO Mindjammer and Fate Core just work perfectly together – they just mesh. 🙂
[21:15] <+SarahNewton> Regarding proud of setting bits…
[21:16] <+SarahNewton> Hmmm…
[21:16] <+SarahNewton> I think the whole Mindscape / exomemory / thoughcast / thanogram thing really inspires me.
[21:16] <+SarahNewton> That it gives you something really playable and action-packed, but which you can use to explore what it means to be human. For example:
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[21:17] <+SarahNewton> You can use the Mindscape to download the memories of dead people, or just other people. That’s exomemory – a normal function of the Mindscape.
[21:17] <~Dan> (Welcome back, PaRappaSan!)
[21:17] <+SarahNewton> But, our identities as humans are made up of our memories. What we remember of our pasts profoundly affects who we think we are.
[21:18] <+SarahNewton> So, if you remember things that happened to other people, that changes you.
[21:18] <+SarahNewton> In Mindjammer, there are things called “memoplexes”, or “servitor gestalts”.
[21:18] <+SarahNewton> They’re collections of exomemories which you “sign up to” when you join a secret or elite organisation – imagine the Navy Seals, or some esoteric conspiracy.
[21:19] <+SarahNewton> You get this massive load of exomemories as a condition of joining, and it changes who you are.
[21:19] <+SarahNewton> That whole process can be mirrored using the *rules* in Mindjammer, and you can do all sorts of cool stuff with it.
[21:20] <+PaRappaSan> do you inherit the personality of that memory?
[21:20] <+SarahNewton> So, I think if I’m proud of anything, it’s the really cool freaky stuff you can do with the Mindscape, exomemory, identity, etc. Download a bunch of exomemories, create a synthetic personality, embody it in a synthetic body, and just go!
[21:20] <+SarahNewton> “Inherit” is probably too direct.
[21:20] <+SarahNewton> But, yes, exomemories can affect who you are.
[21:20] <+SarahNewton> And, given that unscrupulous can counterfeit exomemories – create *fictional* memories – there’s a lot of scope for mayhem. 🙂
[21:21] <+Songtress> But how do people upload or download these memories, if there’s no uploading of mind?
[21:21] <+SarahNewton> Good question, Songstress! 🙂
[21:22] <+SarahNewton> Alrighty then: “Mind” is a deceptively easy word to say, but isn’t matched by an equally easy to grasp reality.
[21:22] <+Le_Squide> neat
[21:22] <+SarahNewton> Memories and personality matrices may well be constituted of neural or synaptic relationships which could be reduced to something you could upload and store. Mindjammer assumes that’s the case.
[21:22] <+SarahNewton> However, mind and consciousness isn’t anywhere near as simple.
[21:22] <+Morrus> Is there an approach to the issue of continuity regarding mind uploading? Is it the same person, or just a copy?
[21:23] <+SarahNewton> 21st century earth has currently no real idea what “mind” is. The current theory of “quantum mind” proposes that there are even quantum level phenomena which give rise to consciousness, which if true pretty much means
[21:23] <+SarahNewton> there’s no way to copy or transfer mind / consciousness.
[21:23] <+PaRappaSan> does the Commonality recognize an ‘IP’ for your memories if you want to protect them? Would that even be enforceable given the technologies involved?
[21:23] <+SarahNewton> Mindjammer subscribes to something like this.
[21:24] <+SarahNewton> It says that “mind” and “consciousness” is an emergent phenomenon coming out of a physical brain interacting with a physical body, very loosely. That body and brain can be very broadly defined – hence you can have sentient starships, space stations, even plateworlds – but there’s a brain and body in there which generates mind and consciousness.
[21:25] <+SarahNewton> So there’s a massive difference between exomemory uploads and the phenomenon of consciousness.
[21:25] <+SarahNewton> Morrus: re: persistence of identity.
[21:26] <+SarahNewton> Mindjammer doesn’t go with a one size fits all answer on this.
[21:26] <~Dan> (Oh, sorry — question pause while Sarah catches up.)
[21:27] <+SarahNewton> It follows the multiple copy paradox: if you create a synthetic intelligence, and give it as many of the exomemories and personalities of a dead (or living) person you can (something called a thanogram), it’ll be a unique and *new* individual, just with the memories and personality elements of its source.
[21:27] <+SarahNewton> However, the reality is quite messy.
[21:28] <+SarahNewton> It’s conceivably possible, if the source thanogram is complete enough, to create a synthetic intelligence which *believes* itself to be the source person.
[21:28] <+SarahNewton> This doesn’t make it true, and because of the quantum nature of consciousness it’ll always be a discrete and new individual, and the thanogram *can’t* (because of Uncertainty) be an exact copy.
[21:29] <+SarahNewton> As a result, such a synthetic (called an eidolon) would be deluded. In practice, in Mindjammer, eidolons suffering from this delusion tend to suffer breakdown quite rapidly – it’s a cognitive dissonance which precipitates something called “eidolon crisis”.
[21:30] <+SarahNewton> The “Eidolon Compliances” are something which Commonality eidolon engineers must follow to create stable eidolons – kind of like a Hippocratic Oath for creators of synthetic intelligences.
[21:30] <+SarahNewton> But, there’s also a further issue: the insistence on eidolons having discrete individual personalities is something we as humans require them to have in order to “be more like us”. There’s nothing in
[21:31] <+SarahNewton> eidolon or synthetic intelligence makeup itself that means that has to be the case. It’s possible that synthetic intelligences could simultaneously believe themselves to be “instances” of a dead person, and not that dead person, simultaneously, and *not care*. 🙂
[21:32] <+SarahNewton> You can explore that in your game – if you want! In any case, it’s a great way of creating insane deranged enemy synthetics!
[21:32] * +SarahNewton breathes
[21:32] <+SarahNewton> 🙂
[21:32] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:32] <+SarahNewton> ParappaSan re: memory IP
[21:33] <+SarahNewton> You can protect exomemories, and indeed any Mindscape content, if you want. General Commonality citizens can do this, but they can be hacked. Users of “special ops Mindscape implants” can do much more.
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[21:34] <+SarahNewton> They can heavily encrypt exomemories, create bogus ones, even attack someone else’s Mindscape “halo” (their virtual “inventory”) and “steal” exomemories.
[21:34] <+SarahNewton> Did I catch up? 🙂
[21:34] <~Dan> I think so. 🙂
[21:34] <+SarahNewton> Awesome. Great questions.
[21:35] <~Dan> Are all transhuman alterations genetic in nature, or are there cybernetics as well?
[21:35] <+SarahNewton> At the Commonality level of tech, the distinction is very blurred.
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[21:36] <~Dan> How so?
[21:36] <+SarahNewton> There are clear instances where one enhancement is “biological”, and another “mechanical”, but broadly “genurgy” includes both, and a lot of artificially created stuff is pretty gooey and biological anyway. (Ask anyone who’s ever been inside a Chembu bioship… eww…)
[21:36] <~Dan> (wb, Serami!)
[21:36] <+Songtress> What’s the process of creating a eidolon from scratch? Like can anyone do it (well make a ‘simple’ growing’ creature/being?”
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[21:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, AWOLJoe!)
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[21:37] <~Dan> Oh, wait… Did you address the psionics question, Sarah?
[21:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, Catseye!)
[21:37] <+PaRappaSan> speaking of the artwork it’s very curved and organic looking? is that because the Commonality can makepoint stuff and Fibonacci spirals are more easily grown?
[21:38] <+SarahNewton> To create an eidolon you need to be an eidolon engineer, and have an eidolon rig. But it’s pretty easy to acquire an eidolon, or even a basic sentience – intelligence is very common in the Commonality, and even your weapon or helmet or even the currency chips the Commonality has had to reinvent on the Fringe are sentient.
[21:38] <+SarahNewton> Ah yes, psionics!
[21:39] <+SarahNewton> So, the Commonality has something called “technopsi”. Basically it uses the Mindscape plus associated tech to replicate the effects of psionics using tech and genurgy. So, you can use your Mindscape implant to transmit messages direct to someone else’s mind (techno-telepathy).
[21:39] <+SarahNewton> You can use your implant to transmit a direct perception feed of everything you’re sensing, and someone else can relive that (techno-clairvoyance, audience, etc).
[21:40] <+SarahNewton> You can use the Mindscape to manipulate “effectors”, which are basically mini-tractor beams, allowing you to manipulate things remotely – techno-telekinesis.
[21:40] <+SarahNewton> The rules support this kind of activity, and the setting “skins” these phenomena as technopsi.
[21:41] <+SarahNewton> The Commonality as a setting doesn’t have “true” psionics per se, but it’s rumoured the Venu have something which looks suspiciously like psi. Commonality science doesn’t believe humans are physiologically capable of psi-phenomena
[21:41] <+SarahNewton> – so what the Venu are up to is a mystery.
[21:42] <+SarahNewton> So the rules support psi if your setting wants “true psi”, but the Commonality setting describes it as “technopsi”.
[21:42] <+SarahNewton> Re Commonality curves etc.
[21:43] <+SarahNewton> Yes, the Fibonacci aspect is definitely a factor. 🙂
[21:43] <+SarahNewton> Also, a lot of the advanced Commonality tech is “variform”, which means it can change shape within certain parameters to meet functional and aesthetic requirements.
[21:44] <+SarahNewton> So, with variform tech, makepoint production, and the fact that many “devices” are in fact sentient beings, there’s an overall organic aesthetic at work in Commonality tech.
[21:45] <+SarahNewton> The Venu, on the other hand, tend to have whacking great blocky tech which leaks z-radiation and has a rotten colour scheme. 🙂
[21:45] <~Dan> So second-rate tech? 🙂
[21:47] <+SarahNewton> Definitely – tech difference is a big theme in Mindjammer. The Commonality controlling access to tech, the embargo runners smuggling it, the rediscovered cultures trying *like hell* to get hold of advanced tech to have some chance of not collapsing before the Commonality “cultural impact”
[21:48] <+PaRappaSan> how does the memetic fallout of the Commonality hitting these primitive worlds play out? Cargo-cult or economic colonization maybe?
[21:48] <+SarahNewton> Lots of different ways, PaRappaSan.
[21:49] <+SarahNewton> That’s largely the purview of the Security and Cultural Integrity Instrumentality – aka SCI Force.
[21:49] <+SarahNewton> You can play SCI Force agents as characters.
[21:49] <+SarahNewton> They’re usually a pretty mad and motley crew – mavericks tend to have the insane creativity and risk-taking mindset to do this stuff well.
[21:50] <+SarahNewton> But there are lots of different reactions among rediscovered cultures; some collapse, some turn to worship, or resistance, or get cultural inferiority complexes. Some embrace contact really well, especially if they’ve never forgotten their origins.
[21:50] <+SarahNewton> The Mindjammer rules use the Fate Fractal to stat up cultures, so cultures can conflict, interact, affect one another.
[21:51] <+SarahNewton> And we use the Fate Core “extras” rules to allow characters to represent and directly interact with cultures too.
[21:51] <+SarahNewton> So you can incorporate memetic engineering and meme attacks into your game.
[21:52] <~Dan> Can you give an example of that?
[21:52] <+PaRappaSan> Thanks it’s kind of what I was imagining SBA/Mindjammer using Fate Core would be like actually
[21:52] <+SarahNewton> I think we’re in mindlink, PaRappaSan! 🙂
[21:53] <+SarahNewton> Writing 2nd ed for Fate Core has been a blast that way – the extras rules work really well for this kind of “representation / intervention” play.
[21:53] <+PaRappaSan> I’ll keep my halo locked thank you
[21:53] * +SarahNewton *Mindscape probe deflected* bzzzt ouch dammit 😀
[21:54] <+PaRappaSan> can you unpack that ‘representation / intervention’ notion?
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[21:54] <+SarahNewton> Sure.
[21:55] <+SarahNewton> So starting with the metaphor of a character taking a vehicle as an extra.
[21:55] <+SarahNewton> You have the Drive skill – that gives you a vehicle, fairly non-descript, you can use to take Drive actions.
[21:55] <+SarahNewton> But you can also stat a vehicle as an extra – give it aspects, skills, and stunts, and use it to do stuff.
[21:56] <+SarahNewton> It exists outside your skill pyramid, using its own skill and stunt points (etc) which you can manipulate using advancements.
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[21:56] <+SarahNewton> You could use that vehicle – say, a starship – to interact with other starships at the scale of starships (say, shoot them), in a way you couldn’t using just your character skills.
[21:56] <+SarahNewton> Now, take that metaphor and apply it to, say, cultures.
[21:57] <+SarahNewton> Now you have a Culture extra, with culture skills, stunts, and aspects, again outside your own skill pyramid, but which are under your control.
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[21:57] <+SarahNewton> Those abilities indicate the degree of control, influence, or ability you have when representing that culture in interactions with other cultures.
[21:58] <+PaRappaSan> sry a fat feline decided to shove my router off the counter
[21:58] <+SarahNewton> So now you can, in principle, use your culture extra to represent you, say, harnessing the media, information dissemination factors, etc, to affect another culture.
[21:58] <+SarahNewton> I also have a fat feline next to me. In serious danger of collapse at any moment. 🙂
[21:59] <~Dan> Heh. Yeah. We’re almost at the end of “regular” time. Is there anything you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
[21:59] <+SarahNewton> So, yes, that’s the metaphor for representation / intervention. It goes for other organisations such as instrumentalities, governments, corporacies, as well as cultures. They’re kind of metaphorical vehicles you can do stuff with.
[22:00] <+SarahNewton> Cool, Dan! This has been absolutely awesome – it’s just gone 5am here in Normandy and I’m amazed you guys have been able to keep me awake and buzzing through the night! 😀
[22:00] <+SarahNewton> I’d just like to pass out a few links if I may?
[22:00] <~Dan> Absolutely!
[22:00] <+SarahNewton> Cool!
[22:01] <+SarahNewton> OK, so if you’d like to know more about the Mindjammer RPG, please check out (Link: http://www.mindjammer.com.)http://www.mindjammer.com. There’s sample artwork, game and setting info, an “X-MemCore” glossary, Mindscape updates, downloads, pregens, and various resources there.
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[22:02] <+SarahNewton> There’s a 40+ page free preview on (Link: http://www.rpgnow.com)http://www.rpgnow.com – just search “Mindjammer”. Lots of artwork, gorgeous Commonality map, sample pages from the game.
[22:03] <+SarahNewton> If you’d like to get the game, please checkout the webstore at (Link: http://www.modiphius.com.)http://www.modiphius.com. You can preorder the 496-page hardback right now, and download the “Thoughtcast Edition” pre-release PDF immediately today.
[22:03] <+SarahNewton> The hardback ships at the end of March, and the Thoughtcast Edition PDF updates to the final version in roughly a week’s time.
[22:04] <~Dan> Great!
[22:04] <+SarahNewton> Mindjammer is due to arrive in stores in May, but will be available for direct order also from the Modiphius webstore. We’ve been able to keep shipping down to a competitive level of just under $10 for US and UK customers, and also a good level for customers elsewhere too!
[22:04] <+SarahNewton> I think that’s pretty much it!
[22:05] <~Dan> Thanks, Sarah!
[22:06] <+SarahNewton> Thanks Dan for hosting this chat – it’s been an absolute blast. And thanks too to everyone for your interest and the awesome questions – the past 2 hours have flown and I’ve had a great time. The Commonality salutes you! 🙂
[22:06] * +SarahNewton gazes heroically into the middle distance to the strains of the Commonality anthem.
[22:06] <~Dan> Sleep well, Sarah! I’ll message you with the chat log in a bit!
[22:06] <+SarahNewton> It *IS* full of stars. 😀
[22:06] <~Dan> 🙂
[22:06] <+PaRappaSan> I imagine Tom Jones singing it
[22:07] <+SarahNewton> lol awesome. An immortal synthetic Tom Jones the size of a small moon.
[22:07] <+SarahNewton> And on that bombshell, I bid you a good night / morning from pre-dawn Normandy! 🙂
[22:07] <+SarahNewton> G’night all!
[22:07] <~Dan> Good night/morning! 🙂