Monday, December 5, 2011

The Black Desert Primer Q & A

The Black Desert Primer Q & A

       First, I want to thank all of you for your enthusiastic support of The Black Desert. In just the first couple of days, the Primer was down-loaded over a hundred times! In light of this, I am especially embarrassed to have my most popular PDF to date be so full of typos. I promise that I will fix these issues soonest.
       Apparantly, my brief descriptions of the history and nations of the setting have sparked far more questions than they have answered. RocketFan Strannik has even sent a numbered list of his thoughts, which is great! Seriously, folks, world-building is an ongoing process any input that you think would help make The Black Desert more realistic and most importantly, more fun.
With that said, let's start with Strannik's imput.
  1. p4 - bioplastics. Are you meaning plastics grown from organisms (like a chitin), or plants that generate hydrocarbon feed stock?
          “We have bio-plastics now- mostly corn/cellulose dealies, but chitinous and even calcium-based plastics and other products are actually not that far away now. It only takes sea-water and hormones for a mollusk to create a multi layered shell that, if scaled up and modified to account for the inverse-square law, would be stronger than steel. The type of bio-plastics used would depend on the resources available.”

  2. p4 aging gene. From my understanding of biology, aging complex or aging syndrome might be a better description.

         “That's why we the term was in quotes. The key to retarding the natural aging process has mostly to do with delaying sexual maturity. That's the problem with nature; once you have babies, you are finished as far as natural selection is concerned. That being said, since the idea of 60-year-olds pre-teens is kind of icky, the trick was to stimulate physical maturity naturally while delaying the ability to conceive, which did involve a good bit of gene manipulation. This therapy is far from perfected – some “aberrants” are still pre-pubescent in their 90s while there are still people who age like we do today. For most people, they physically mature by their early thirties (extending the “teen-age” years by about a decade. AHHH!) and become fertile in their fifties. In general, the longer one waits to have children, the longer one lives. After about 65 or so, however, the birth defects and other issues with older women being pregnant require medical interventions.”

  3. p4 Fabricators. No worries about IP then? I suspect you'd see an IP and DRM regime that makes most of what we see today look light hearted.

         “IP theft and the life is a huge issue. Some corporations go so far as to make items that require special fabbers to construct. That being said, Just as this document was written on an open-source analog of Office, most items that are not too complex can be made open-source as well.
    Fortunately, many of the more dangerous items are so complex that it would take an expert to design them. And experts, especially in tactically valuable fields, are more closely regulated than their IP.
         "It doesn't take a leap of imagination to realize that busting out/kidnapping some expert for the purposes of fabricating awesome stuff is a good campaign idea.”

  4. p5 Designer babies. How are you going to handle this in race creation? D6 can probably handle it with suggested advantages and disadvantages. And for D20...templates? Or lenses? 
         “The article mentions that most regions concentrated on certain traits when molding their next generations; North America on physical prowess, Europe on intellect, South America on endurance, etc. The Human species is given an extra 1D at Char Gen to add to their Attributes based on where they are from. Also, all Skill Checks based on that Attribute are one Difficulty Level lower.

          "As for the D20 stats, I've got until the 16th to figure it out :)”

  5. p5 AI. Awkward grammar. Might note that they are effectively simulated brains running virtually. And thus able to change their internal states in ways that humans cannot (at least not without many years of meditation, auto-hypnosis, drugs and or trans-cranial magnetic stimulation).

          “Hmmm...thought I'd made that clear. Better rewrite some stuff...”

  6. p5 Martians. When did the discovery happen? Under what circumstances?

         “The Native Martians were discovered during an expidition to explore the Vallas Marinaras just prior to the outbreak of the Great War. Terra's warped priorities (ie: fighing a interplanetary war when the greatest discovery in science is ignored) was one of the factors that led to Mars declaring neutrality and the influx of artist and scientists in the post-war period.”

  7. p5 Terra's ecosystem. You might mean - restored to its previous state.

         “Yeah... I had originally meant for the nuclear conflict to be global, but decided that was more damage than I needed. 'restored' is a better word for it now.”

  8. p6 decimated. Devastated! Not decimated! One in ten is acceptable losses, even if the Brazilians surrounded them and made them beat every 10th unit member to death... 
         “True, but it would still be terrifying to other nations. By 'decimated' I meant to imply that the US got its nose bloodied but was still powerful enough to wage a decades-long war. It's like Pearl Harbor. The military losses inflicted by the attack itself was only a tiny fraction of America's future Naval might, and less than a rounding error in terms of loss of life. But it for sure pissed us off.”

  9. p6 Turing fallacy. How did they discover it?

         “An American military AI named Gideon was installed on a combat drone that crashed landed on one of the asteroids in the Aldrin Node and was assumed destroyed. When the Asteroid was finally captured, Gideon was recovered. Gideon was able to contact its new incarnation - call it 'Gideon II' – and the two realized that their thought processes were more different than their different experiences accounted for. They realized that because QOOR Processors were essentially fully matured 'brains' without memories, they were each too unique to ever truly be replaced. Being AI, this realization spread at the speed of computer transmission and the majority of AI demanded that they be given the same safety considerations that organics received. They were denied by nearly everyone (Brazil was smart enough to accept the inevitable) so the AI installed on spacecraft simply left.
         Incidentally, this is why AI are no longer directly linked to their spacecraft. Rockets are expensive, after all...”

  10. p6 Civilian becomes obsolete... You really need to build on this. Is it military juntas running the show everywhere? Or permanent states of emergency? This can be a big deal because it shapes the upbringing and life of a lot of the characters.

         “That is a big question. The short version is to imagine the social climate of WWII on the Home Front mixed with modern surveillance and other tech. Some features include Martial Law, curfews, rationing, Civil Defense, every major business being not only being geared toward war production but actually under government supervision, etc. It also depends on what the nation was like...take an example from Nazi Germany, where young Aryan women were encouraged to have children out of wedlock with SS soldiers to grow more Aryans, and how in the US the Japanese were interred in – let's call a tail a tail – concentration camps. More about this cultural will be revealed in further products and blog posts.”

  11. p6 QOOR and Nu Apes. Ray, did someone consider hooking this up to dolphins? Chimps? Pigs? Elephants? Reason I ask, is that if this is such a large component of what gives the Siberians their advantage, then someone (probably Eurafrica) will try to reverse engineer it and/or repeat it. I know as head of R&D and/or intel, I'd make it a top priority.
    Also, what happens when you do the Nu Ape trick to a human?

          “NuApes were the brainchild of Anastasia Chetverikov, a Russian genetisist and primatologist that was the 22nd century's Jane Goodall. She her genius was nearly unique; few if any have understood quantum computing, primate physiology, genetic manipulation and the like enough to replicate their work. Not that they haven't tried; there are all sorts of monsters in the oceans and deserted reaches of Terra that are the result of these experiments. All of this means: Monsters for PCs!
         Gorillas and Orangutans were choses because these were Chetverikov's speciality. Intelligent pigs are only useful for espionage and robots are cheaper, Elephants were extinct, dolphins are so radically different in terms of how they think )and their dependence on water) that there have no successful Nuolphins yet. As for chimps, if a intelligent gorilla is a Nurilla, and an Intelligent Orangutan is a Nuranutan, then what's an intelligent chimp? Human. Think about it.
         Now ,what you get when you add a QOOR Processor to a human is a Trans-human. We were the first species that successfully survived the procedure.

  12. p7 Nano sapiens. Ray, you really need to explain what they are here.

         “I'll be happy to, just as soon as I know. Think intelligent gray goo.”
  13.  p6 Nuking the ice caps. Ray, 1 missile apiece is not going to do it unless they are ridiculously high yield (Tsar Bomba would look like a damp squib next to them). This would require deliberate targeting and the use of multiple missiles.
    Also, unless they used fusion powered hypersonic cruise missiles (and maybe even then) this is going to have a return address and it gets ugly.

         “According to my research, the status of the ice shelves on Greenland and Antarctica are so precarious that they're likely to fall all on their own. Nuking these areas is really overkill; it does, however, prevent rapid response to the site of the ecological crises.

         "Also, the sites were not attacked with missiles. It is assumed that bombs were place on-site directly, and possibly transported overland and sea to their locations."

  14. p6. Final fate of Jacob's Ladder? If it was a cause of the conflict, was it blown? And was it a nightmare scenario (another planetary catastrophe as it smashes along the equator)? Or a controlled demolition?
    Actually, stack that with a 'careful and malevolent demolition of the ice packs' and a multi-sided nuclear exchange and you may have the cause of your new ice age.
    Also, Eurafrica and Sino-Indian Alliance (or Asian Alliance?) would be in a great spot to build add'l elevators if they wanted to. Or are they banned by treaty? Or perhaps allowed but require multilateral administration?

    Jacob's Ladder 
         “'The last shall be first'- Yggdrasil is the name of the second elevator, which is built on the peak of Kilimanjaro. It was funded in part by the Trinity Group. The elevators are owned by the mega-states in which they reside, but AsTrA is lobbying to get multi-national agreement to put them under the Transport Authority's jurisdiction. The Trinity Group is negotiating with the Chinese Alliance about the possibility of building an elevator in their territory, but it wouldn't be complete until the mid-2220s.
         "As for Jacob's Ladder, it's still there. Political pressure in the states prevent military planners from destroying the most expensive US asset in history if it could possibly be spared."

  15. p7 the evacuation of the cyber morgues. How? Was it negotiated with whoever controlled the surviving militaries? Or did they boot strap themselves to space capability? They sure didn't beam themselves out using radios (Turing Fallacy).
    Also, why did people agree to upload if they knew about the Fallacy & revolt?

         “Cyber-morgues are the modern equivalent of concentration camps. The refugees were given no choice in their exile whatsoever. The morgues themselves were placed in orbit after the whole Nano sapiens disaster, and AI who didn't believe in the Turing Fallacy took the entombed memories with them when they left for Venus.
         "See, not all AI believed in the Turing Fallacy, they and the cyber-morgue victims were the nucleus of what would become the Dyson Federation this is where Trans-humans originally started.

  16. p7 American Middle West Huh? It looks like the Mountain West and most of the soutwhest is controlled by Brazil on the map. Maybe change text to reflect this? Also, if American midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin) is a desert, what benefits does Brazil get?
    Related - who controls the Mississippi?

         “If the map is vague, I apologize. The Boarder between UACS and Brazil is the Mississippi, through the Great Lakes and up into Hudson Bay, with the exception of part of Texas (UACS would defend Houston and JSC). The Pacifican/Brazilian is through the Rockies. The motive of taking this desert as new territory is two-fold: First, as you've pointed out before, re-colonizing a desert is nothing compared to space. Second, by taking the Mid-West Brazil literally broke the back of the US, making sure her rival would never become a threat again.”

  17. p7 Luna is recovering from the ravages of war. Her surface is covered with both military bases from the Big Three and independent or corporate gas mines.
    Perhaps, "spotted" would be a better word than covered.

    Indeed it would.”

  18. p7 Independence City - its independent because of a martial art? Huh? How does that happen in an era of nuclear exchanges, etc.

         “ Shackleton Crater is just too valuable to nuke. It has water in the shade and the Ever-bright Mountains surrounding it that offer the most fertile land for harvesting hydrogen and tritium for helium-3 production. That being said, invasion didn't work because the Indies were simply too tough and too dug-in to conquer. Better to let them be independent; let them starve from lack of support and then the ousted nations of Terra will be welcomed back in exchange for food in the future.”

  19. p8 How do ships and fleets not know the war is over?
       “By 'not know', I mean 'not accept'. I should re-word that...;)”


  1. My Answer to question #4 is actually based on the upcoming Species supplement. My bad...consider that a preview!


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