Let's make the game about the three 'metabolisms' & hulls?

Species suggestions, story ideas and contributions.
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Space Krill
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Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:32 pm

Let's make the game about the three 'metabolisms' & hulls?

#1 Post by SpaceGrapes » Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:15 am

There are too many exotic hull types in the game. 3 main 'metabolisms' are currently used in the game, and there are nine Planet Types. 3x3 is 9. Maybe we could chart out races that connect with a preference for a particular ship type, and give each ship type some advantage? What I might propose, mechanically speaking:

(M)ech hulls have bonuses to weapons and detection
(O)rganic hulls regenerate, have stealth, and other utility
(P)si hulls have better shields, and give back a fraction of the construction cost as research points when destroyed.

Apart from an endgame class like the Star hull, every hull should fall into this threefold classification: (M,O,P) x (tiny,medium,large, titan). Static bases may be permitted, too, which could fall outside the classification -- the rough reasoning here is that the key technology decision for starline travel (organic, mech, or psi) determines a number of other properties of the ship.

With that in place, each race can prefer a specific hull type. If tech ever goes the way of random availability, in order to force trade, then races are guaranteed to be able to research hulls and weapons of their preferred hull tech. If every race has a fixed menu of research, then research into the favored tree is just easier. Races may also get some bonuses in terms of production. For instance, races with the organic tech preference don't need to build the orbital incubation facilities for their colonies.

So if there is 1 race per EP, races can be assigned uniquely to hull tech preference and metabolism: 3x3 is 9.

Here's how I would do it with the existing batch of races in 0.4.3:

Starting at the top of the wheel, and setting the tuple have Humans as Terran organic metabolism, psi infrastructural preference (for a change of pace over standard mech); Eaxaw reassigned as Ocean, organic, organic; Gysache as Swamp
organic mech; Chato as Toxic lithic organic; Egassem as Inferno lithic mech; 'Thynx' (a new placeholder) as Irradiated lithic psi; Cray as Barren photo mech; George as Tundra photo psi; and Laenfa reassigned as Desert photo organic. The resulting pattern is nice and symmetrical.

Here, 'psi' is not meant to be a completely mystical phenomenon, but a somewhat mysterious pattern of nature connecting stars, planets and minds. Humans basically got access to space travel not because they are mechanically super-adept in this universe, but because of some very strong insight into fundamental physics that worked in some distilled analysis of the astrological systems that humans had throughout their history -- which, in this universe, actually turned out to have a grain of truth to them. Yes, humans do make their ships go with psionic parts, at least for the most important bits; their preferred type of stellar drive is basically some sort of scientifically-grounded, human-specific feng-shui; humans in this universe are a bit luckier and a bit stronger mentally than their actual analytical intelligence implies.

I like the general idea of the Trith, too; I see them as being "none of the above" and truly mysterious entities. Story-wise, I'd say they are sort of a race of fallen angels from the Void; probably a reflection of a failed effort at transcendence, maybe that of a subtribe of the Experimenters/Precursors -- maybe even the entire primordial galactic civilization. In terms of game play, I'd play on this idea of being "none of the above" in terms of preference. Keep them as xenophobic 'anti-life' entities with good detection, among other things, but start them off with a range of vision and let them choose their home planet (a standard sized planetary system is guaranteed). Whatever planet they choose becomes their EP preference. Similarly, you could give them the choice of hull preference at the start, or you could give them the benefits of all three hull preferences.

Some racial notes about the changed lineup:

Humans: I've already commented on them.

Eaxaw: They are now benthic worms from a planet covered in deep ocean: nearly transparent, and with glowing parts around the head that they can hide or expose. They are flexible carnivores and scavengers, and developed social sentience in part to monopolize the corpses of the large whale-like filter feeders of their world. Lacking good strategies for using fire or electrical power or semiconductors, their high technology is based on high-level bioengineering of their planetary life. Their equivalent of the Age of Exploration was in exploiting higher and higher layers of their oceans, until they were effectively managing the growth of kelp islands and slaughtering xeno-whales directly. The equivalent of their Information and Space Age was in mastering biotechnology at an extremely deep level, and producing some very advanced technological applications from the immense biodiversity that is present on their homeworld. Yes, they have figured out how to get creatures that incorporate flesh with smelted fractions of magma, which aerate explosives in the atmosphere near the surface of their homeworld and launch into space. They have slave species which act as advanced computers, and so forth. And of course, there is scope within this story for giving them super-troops as a product of their bio-engineering.

They also have the ability to reproduce quickly when resources are abundant, based on their evolutionary environment where scarcity would give way to extreme plenty from the fall of a xeno-whale. So giving them an ability to replace the population of an exterminated species might be in keeping with that. Also in connection with the psychology from that evolutionary history, their diplomatic language transliterate to phrases like "let us tear this corpse apart!" -- conveying an offer of peace with the usual impatience of the Eaxaw.

Chato I'd tweak the story of these so that they are a symbiosis developed out of initial parasitism. The ancestral Chato were parasites, which in the larval stage, were crystal filaments embedded in the nervous system of their host. Initially, this was crude mind control, driving the animal to die in a spot where the crystal 'fruiting body' could grow. But with time, more complex behavior was driven from the hosts. For eons, the hosts were driven to be aggressive to creatures that might accidentally kill a fruiting body while hanging around and waiting to die; then they were also driven to move the fruiting bodies to more hospitable locations for their chemosynthetic metabolism, in case of disaster. After many generations of this sort of interaction, the loop was eventually closed, and the Chato fruiting bodies developed the capacity to pass signals to the embedded brain parasites through a complex pattern of shimmering. The hosts were effectively domesticated. As generations moved on, this relationship became more intimate, and both hosts and Chato fruiting bodies developed a degree of intelligence -- in some ways more of the intelligence is in the animals, while the Chato have more of the controlling will. With time, the filamentous, larval, parasitic phase became the subject for eugenic selection, and became a broad tool for manipulating all the planet's fauna and editing their genes with extremely precise control. The Chato leaned heavily on this relationship for developing a path to other planets.

Egassem: I wouldn't describe them as 'crystalline'; primarily they are liquid crystals and organo-silicate plastics in body, and in their natural habitat derive most of their energy from the interface between magma and atmosphere: they are more steam-powered than nuclear. Being effectively 'continents' with surfaces cool enough to support solid tools, they gradually developed mechanical technology in the effort to outcompete their neighbors. Their analogue of the Stone Age was a condition of eternal warfare between individual Egassem, sort of like battles on the high sea in WW2 -- if the battleships were several kilometers across and the seas were made of molten rock, of course. When more advanced political structures were developed, peace began to prevail, and this allowed population densities to become higher, to the point where the Egassem cover the entire surface of their magma-sea world.

Thynx: Thinking off the top of my head for an irradiated world, I'd propose this race of Thynx as a kind of microchip lichen on a world of decaying robotic infrastructure. The Thynx aren't sure how they came to be, exactly, but suspect they may have been the last-ditch effort of a planet's doomed civilization to save themselves. The Thynx is a smooth computational carpet without any obvious breaks in it, but it is not a single entity like George is. Rather, minds are created as needed on the fly, for given purposes of thought, and are completely ethereal entities, sometimes overlapping one another.

The Human ambassador, an accomplished empath, described her first mental encounter with the Thynx as like "walking through a forest of mirrors, with an image of myself forming at each step, asking me questions -- all while my computer terminal displayed a steady stream of data from the system's mechanical communiques, an astoundingly mundane and logical companion to that ghostly forest." The Thynx is clearly a bit more than mere silicon, though exactly what, even the Thynx are not sure.

In terms of existing picks, I'd give Thynx something like this: telepathy, detection, 200% research, 75% industry, bad troops, and broad tolerance.

Cray: To support the star/psi connection, I'd say that only key components of the Cray are assembled by the master Cray. The bolts, in particular, seem to 'wear out' regularly, and need to be replaced. No one knows why this is so at the time that Cray are taking to the stars, but the installation of new bolts does need to take place on the planetary surface, in broad daylight. Cray vary a lot in design, but they all have a few other parts in common. In particular, they all have a thin metallic 'tongue' which periodically flicks out to sense something -- although what they are sensing is a bit of a mystery, given that all this tongue-flicking on their home world is nearly in hard vacuum. Perhaps it has something to do with the Makers' saying that when the Maker perishes, the next Cray in line will 'know' that it is the one who needs to take over. But maybe not. Perhaps the Cray will understand this better when they learn how they came to be.

George: I'd add that not all the centipedoids seem to have the same parts. There are units without heads or mouths, units with manipulating digits and without, units that mate and give birth to all the other units, and so forth. George, on figuring out how to travel the stars, thought to describe its innovation as learning how to "*stretch* George out". In initial contact with the crew of the Human scout ship "Raven", George was recorded as saying "hello Human. You are all in pieces! So strange! And not every part is *awake*! How odd! Are you friend or food?" That's the kind of entity that George is. George is also apparently partially photosynthetic, with segments purple-black to match with the home system's star. If segments rich in stored fat are psychically cut off from George, they blanch out and seem to 'starve' within a matter of days, despite the stored calories. George has vague memories that maybe he was "put here. George dunno!". Maybe George will find out, if George cares to study the question at all.

Laenfa: Not tons to add, just that these telepathic vines learned to coopt other organisms in their environment, which in turn reduced predation and benefited the ecological community by reducing competition and the need to invest resources in poison, spines, and so forth. Eventually the Laenfa were sufficiently intelligent that they exerted conscious control over the entire biosphere of their homeworld, despite being essentially invisible to the minds of fauna. These days, the Laenfa have bioengineered their entire surface as a Laenfa garden, with strands of wire that stretch for kilometers, supporting the climbing Laenfa vines. Despite their role as physically passive gardeners, Laenfa history has been bloody, or, well, sappy, for eons. Laenfa tribes went to great effort to steal the fauno-cultural technology of their competitors, often with enormous casualties both to individual Laenfa and to their client organisms in the biosphere. Contemporary Laenfa civilization is unified, now that they realize that they aren't alone in the universe. There are much bigger predators abroad in the galaxy that the Laenfa must guard against, and potentially subdue.

I might work on giving the Laenfa a qualitative bonus for their sneaky, passive-aggressive to threats from other lifeforms; we might want to say that they are actively Xenophilic, deriving a research benefit from being close to alien civs. Captured alien populations also work harder than normal.

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