INTEREST CHECK The Interstellar Trail

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Chemifox, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. After decades of travel and years of preparation, the first colony in a new star system is open for emmigration. Family after family ventures from Earth directly towards the new solar system for their own various reasons. The predominating factor seems to be the promise of new opportunities and wealth. Nearly unlimited resources, they say! Space for everyone! The now over-crowded Earth pales in comparison! Each family unit is contained in a detachable pod inside a larger ship with maybe three hundred such pods around a central hub of recreation and dining. A lack of faster-than-light travel means the journey will take decades. Get comfortable! And make friends with your neighbors - you'll be stuck with them for a while.

    What if the wagons on the Oregon Trail could communicate with one another? In this space epic, isolated populations of humanity are on a journey to a new, better land. Some will not make the journey. Some new lives will be created and grow up on the way. This roleplay could focus on several different aspects with VERY different tones depending on what part of the journey we begin with.

    In the beginning, adapting to a life in space will be tough. Tensions will be strained and differences will be brought to the foreground pretty quickly in such a claustrophobic space.

    A decade or so out, conflicts have ceased and life continues for those that made it this far. Each ship has its own distinct culture by this point based on the results of the struggles. Some have worked it out and continue to live in relative democracy. Some have resorted to violence and anarchy, resources distributed to whomever has the most physical force. Some contain a charismatic leader that influences the population over time to match his or her opinions. Some are run by corporate interests that keep the population under strict control.

    Two decades or so out, morale might begin to drop as the purpose of the journey is such a distant memory in the older population. The younger space-born population has adapted to a life in space and is now old enough for their voices to be heard. Do they even want to leave the ships?

    Arrival, four decades out. These isolated groups comprising three distinct generations now have to cope with a new lifestyle change, if they even choose to land on the planet. Cultures clash once more as the isolated ships meet each other in person.

    This could either be run with all of the characters on one ship, or all of the characters on different ships communicating via light-based technology (think instant messenger, but with a bit of a delay due to the distances between the ships). Or a combination, of course. I personally favour the idea of multiple ships! What do you guys think?
  2. Oh hey this seems interesting!

    A few thoughts:

    I like the idea of having multiple ships in play - it could lead to interestingness from mismatched expectations about the communication, and it makes sense that they'd want to promote some amount of communication so that the populations will interconnect once they land.

    You mentioned no FTL - what're you thinking as far as other technology? Is this null-G, gravitic technology, or a giant spinning wheel? (The giant spinning wheel version is kind of the mental picture I'm getting from what you said about there being a hub.) In general, this feels (to me) like it'd fit well in a world that's mostly extrapolated from existing tech. Things can be better, stronger, smaller, larger or whatever, and there can be actual versions of mostly theoretical things, but there have been no true game-changers or major violations of the laws of physics as we understand them. (Okay, maybe a few misdemeanors, but that's it.) All that said, let me caveat that I'm not a scientist, rocket or otherwise, and I generally prefer my tech as the background instead of the focus... I just think it's important to have some idea of what the backdrop looks like before parading characters in front of it.

    As far as timing of the RP during the journey... I think my preference would be to start near the beginning, but do some skimming around - basically, change out what characters are primary at different times and make it kind of more an interconnected series of shorts than one prolonged RP. Of course, that could also take the form of something like flashbacks, if we wanted to start with primary characters at, for instance, the midpoint; a pair of teens on different ships interacting could make for an interesting core story, though I'd probably want to play multiple characters for a story like this.

    Okay, that's all that comes to mind for now, but... color me intrigued. :)
  3. Yeah, I was picturing a giant spinning wheel. Wanted to wait to go into detail on the technology until people showed interest because I can go kind of overboard on these things. o_o It could easily run the gamut on technology - from 'hard' to 'soft' sci-fi - without changing the overall theme. I mean, it would change the way things get done... but still. I am a huge nerd for the harder end of sci-fi, though, and trying to do these things with mostly current tech (and a lot more time and money and drive to innovate than is currently available) could put things into an interesting perspective with parallels from our world. Would definitely have to brainstorm this more. :3

    And interconnected series of shorts would work a lot better with a one-on-one than a group roleplay, methinks? But, yes, generational stories would be very awesome. Plus, the player(s) get(s) a hand in actually constructing the culture of their character's ships as the roleplay progresses. :3 And long-term plots and- -flails-

    It has been a while since I have thought about this concept. x] Lack of interest until now does that to me. I would definitely have to play multiple characters for something like this! Too many possibilities to choose only one.
  4. Heh, I totally understand not wanting to go into too much detail until you've got people. Also the lack of motivation when it's just you and the idea instead of having someone to bounce things around with. >.> But, ideas! Thinking! Yay! XD

    Hard SF is fine by me; I do love me my Jack McDevitt and the like. To a certain extent, it feels like one of the potential sources of conflict here is the technology itself, in the sense of things breaking down and needing to be fixed. Maybe that's just my time playing Oregon Trail and breaking wagon wheels talking. ;)

    Something along the lines of a solar sail could work for primary propulsion - particularly if we assume they've been boosted at launch and the sail is mostly for interstellar navigational purposes. This is likely to be a one-way journey, so the landing just has to be survivable; that'll reduce the amount of reaction mass they need for that end.

    Hydroponics seem pretty much required, for the CO2 processing if nothing else. Sure, there are other ways to do it, but... living organisms have this great ability to self-perpetuate without fancy tools, and, hey, once you've got algae vats, you might as well make sure the algae's edible. (Also, you've got to have your seed corn for your new homestead - though most large plants are going to be kind of inefficient for on-ship, so maybe that's just in storage. (Oooh, and is it in storage for the ship as a whole, or on a per-family basis?))

    I think the interconnected/multigenerational thing could work with a small group as well as 1:1 - you've just got to get people to agree when to do time-jumps (or maybe separate threads for different eras? I dunno; maybe some people would be interested in certain eras but not others). Though, if there's nobody else jumping in to join this, the question of 1:1 versus group is kinda less important.

    But, yes, actually constructing culture and building it up and yay! XD Maybe something where each person has 'primary' for a ship, and the other(s) are supporting characters on that ship and have a ship of their own? Or maybe more collaborative with all the ships, it could work either way.
  5. I just wanted to say I'm also interested! This looks like a cool premise, but I feel like the time-skips might be hard.

    I think having multiple ships would be cool if people were willing to dedicate to the RP and create multiple characters for different ships. Otherwise, I think it would be best to have maybe two or three ships to group everyone together. Other ships might exist in the background.

    Is there ship-hopping? As in, can a person who started on one ship end up on another ship? Or is each ship locked in and self-sufficient?
  6. Yay interest! :D

    I'm willing to do multiple characters personally, though I don't know how others feel about it. Another option would be to focus on one ship (or a couple), but have some background characters for those of us who do feel like doing multiples and use the inter-ship communication to involve them.

    Another tech question to ponder is whether there's communication (time lagged, obviously), back to/from earth? Missives like that could give an interesting flavor to the RP; nostalgia for the older generation mixed with confusion as the world changes without them and things get more and more strange. Just a little splash of Voices of a Distant Star. ;)

    I would think ship-hopping would be... possible but very very difficult? You'd have to synchronize positions and/or do course corrections, and either way you're going to be using fuel. So, maybe not even difficult (advanced computers etc) so much as... expensive, and they've got a very limited supply of resources, so they're not going to use them casually.
  7. Good point on the fuel. However, I could also see something like a grapple system working. I don't think it would require much energy to release a "grappling line" and then "crawl" along it (or have a pod that cranks across it). The ships would have to be somewhat close to do that. Once set up, though, they could leave it there unless the ships get too far apart.

    Given the rest of the technology, I don't think that communication back to earth is that feasible once you get some distance away. For a short while it might be possible, but I don't think they'd be able to maintain it for more than a year or decade at most unless there were repeater posts set up in between. (I guess if the colony was already set up, then it's feasible that there is something like that.) Actually, along those lines ... have FTL communications been set up? Are the ships traveling significantly slower than the speed of light or near the speed of light?

    A completely random other thought ... since this journey is taking decades, it's possible that FTL drives have been created in the meantime and that those trips are going faster and have people arriving at the colony faster. I don't know if this was possibly a direction you wanted to go. If not, that's cool. But, for that matter, about how many light-years out is the colony?

    I'm personally fine with multiple characters. I think it would be super cool to run multiple characters on different ships and then have them all finally interact when they get to their destination.
  8. I've always wanted to be a part of a role play like this. I find these types of themes really appealing, I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
  9. -flails- Interest! :D I am a tutor by day, and finals are coming up. I won't have a lot of time to obsess over this idea, but it is definitely one I would like to obsess over anyway, if that makes any sense at all.

    Yes, ships breaking down to a certain extent will probably be a part of the roleplay! It IS Oregon Trail-esque, afterall. Although there is definitely communication between ships, getting equipment between ships might be a difficult, yet possible, task. I'm thinking the ships were released in a relatively small window of time, making them not /too/ far from each other. Still, not close enough to see with the naked eye, probably. Plus, the course would not be very alterable after the initial acceleration since any small deviation would result in missing the place completely. Tiny thrusters would still exist to correct the course minorly, but not enough to move the ships significantly.

    Will hopefully be able to solidify ideas soon. :3 This is all I have time for right now~ -happy wiggles because of the interest-
  10. Shavynei: Re: Grappling line -
    It's not the distance itself that would worry me. I mean, carbon filament advances and some space elevator cable, and the distance problem is, if not solved, at least plausible. (Though you'd still have to keep them synchronized very precisely while they flew, which would mean more course corrections. Also, you'd have to impart a fair amount of energy into that cable to bridge the distance, calculated very precisely so as to not impart a vector to the other ship when it reaches destination.)

    The real thing that would concern me is what happens when that cable gets hit with something. Space is not empty; there will be plenty of micrometeoroids, and while the ships are probably well shielded... yeah. When the cable gets hit, it's going to get damaged, thing one - but that's not the most interesting part (though if it's under tension and snaps, it might be). More interesting is going to be the vibration it causes. Assuming the thing's held under tension, it's going to carry that vibration along the cable (and, since we're in space, no air for it to escape into as sound) and end up... on the ships. Maybe we can soak it there, but... that's going to be interesting, and the bigger/longer the cable, the more interesting it gets.

    That may be an interesting we want to investigate in play, admittedly. Not saying I don't think it could work, just saying, oh, the potential issues... and issues can be fun! XD

    Re: communications with earth
    Yeah, that makes sense. Depending on when we're playing, the point when earth-comms /stop/ might be some interesting RP.

    Re: speed and distance
    Given the distances involved, I'd be inclined to say these ships are at a significant fraction of c, but I have no strong stake there - I'm willing to handwave a bit on that part (or let someone else do the math ;)) and have the speed and distance be whatever they have to be to get the amount of time we want for the journey. Relativistic speeds do have the advantage (for RP) of time dilation, which makes things interesting - but, again, no strong preference from me. These ships would all be in the same frame of reference, modulo some adjustments as they each get up to speed and shed it, so the inter-ship stuff is pretty intact either way.

    Similarly, I don't have any strong opinions on what's happening in that outside world (FTL etc). I think I'm inclined to say no, these ships are still the first to arrive at their colony? But it's a weak opinion. (And I'm certainly open to, say, satellites or supply drops that got there first. Non-living cargo can be accelerated significantly more roughly.)

    Spirit: :)

    Fox: Yeah, wanting to obsess but not having time makes sense. :) I'll try not to run ahead too much. (Operative word is try. >.> But go ahead and throw in whatever you've got when you've got the time and I'll listen, because, y'know, you're the one who started the thread and all. XD)

    It seems to me the thing with course corrections mostly comes down to fuel. It's not that they wouldn't have the /ability/ to change direction in theory, it's just, well, these ships have a lot of mass, fuel is heavy, and they know they're going to need most of it for a safe landing. (Which also means there's interesting potential around 'but we can land with less fuel!' 'no we can't!' etc.) Lack of maneuvering fuel also leads to interesting things when, say, there's a space debris field and they have to decide whether to try to get around it or risk the impacts.