SFAndroid's picture
December 8, 2010 - 5:54am
So, has anyone done anything with races that were so old and so far in advance of us technologically back when we were still tadpoles in the goo?

Organic Technology
Psionic Interfaces
AI Ships
Void Motivators that do not require super-acceleration

Basically, anything that makes our "Top of the Line" equipment look like a hand-cranked adding machine.

Yes, I know that this is potentially imbalancing, but, look at Babylon 5 and the first meeting between Humans and the Minbari.  One of their fighters could take out the SF equivalent of a Light Cruiser with little chance of being destroyed....or even hit.

Gravimetric Engines
Long Pulse Energy Weapons (Slicing Beams)
Explosive Pulse Plasma Weapons
Highly-Trained Nuclear Armed Space Monkeys Suicide Troopers who think that the elongated ship designs of the current races look like bananas...

Ad infinitum...

Oh, but, lets not forget...the humble Space Garbage Man...thank you Mr. Quark. (Yes, I'm old....)
You can't argue with the invincibly ignorant. - William F. Buckley

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
December 8, 2010 - 6:05am
I found a short adventure for Traveller2300 where the pcs explore an organic ship from an unknown species. I have always wanted to convert that to SF.
The pcs have a chance to communicate with it and it can be nursed back to health over time.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

Deryn_Rys's picture
December 8, 2010 - 9:10am
In my campaign there was a race of small hairless beings with transluscent skin and large teardrop shaped eyes, known as the Illuminati who seeded the known universe with Chimera, a tiny bit of genetic material which latched on to chains of molecules in the primordial soup and created life in an infinite variety. Chimera has an adaptive quality that allowed the newly created life to adapt to whatever environment it had evolved on.

Eventually humans discovered the Chimera gene and were able to create a weaponized version of it that became known as the plague, because when it was released on earth it killed about 90% of the life forms on earth, and of the surviving beings, it caused mutagenic changes in many of them giving rise to new species on earth. Needless to say after several generations the Humans who were living in the colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter who had not been affected by the plague reclaimed the earth and renamed it Thesius.

The weaponized Chimera gene as well as many bioweapons that had been created before the last war were eventually rediscovered, and were taken to secret locations by certain mega-corps, where they hoped to discover uses for them. (some claim that the Blue Plague was a bioweapon that had gotten loose but the UPF won't comment about that).    

That's one of the Precoursor races in my game. The Kliks from Alternity are another of the Precousors, and the Ilithid (mind flayers of D&D) are another.
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

rattraveller's picture
December 8, 2010 - 11:53am
Many sources like to use the ancient race which converted themselves to energy/mental patterns /psionic projection. They left behind many structures and artifacts which are not comprehensible to current races since they lack the mental/psionic power to use them.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

AZ_GAMER's picture
December 8, 2010 - 4:46pm
In the Volturnus series there are mention of an eldar race, I don't remember the specific passage or what they were called. I have long been a supporter of the introduction of more advanced tech to the star frontiers universe. However, there is a certain quaintness to the canon setting and the way things were, like taking a ride on a steam locamotive. There is a lot of good adventure that can happen when your ship is described as having technology only marginally better than what we have today. Super tech in the Frontier does have its place and can make for some very stimulating game sessions but the power imbalance can make for some difficult play. For example, If you have a spacecraft that can use its long pulse energy weapon to slice a Knight hawks ship in half, how much fun would that be, you could never hold your ground against such a weapon. You could only hope you are either never found or that you can out run it. Now if all the sides got a major upgrade in armor and weapons then it might work.

jedion357's picture
December 8, 2010 - 6:12pm
There is a great novel (I forget the author) called Engines of the Gods
As humanity expands into the galaxy we discover mysterious monuments left by some race but no one can make heads or tails of them. then on a planet that has a dead civilization that never made it to the stars something is discovered that re-opens the mystery of the monument builders

the cool thing about this story is that its a different twist rather than the translation to energy/ mental/ spiritual level. I wont spoil it but I do recommend it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Deryn_Rys's picture
December 8, 2010 - 6:34pm
Over the years I've rarely if ever ran an adventure with a precursor theme, my players being too wrapped up in adventures steming from being bounty hunters or smugglers. I've always tried to stay away from super tech because unless you can take it away from the players it can wreck a game, and if you constantly take the new shiny things from the players they end up resenting you.

However as I continue to evolve my new project, eventually I'll have to detail many of the wonders outside the known Frontier and not every civilization will have a tech matching the Frontier, So I will have to include some ultra tech items there, but nothing too game shattering. I am very curious about this topic specially in finding out the types of ultra tech that most people see as the ancients possessing and how you guys deal with the inevitable question of "Do the players get to keep it, since they found it?"
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

Gilbert's picture
December 8, 2010 - 7:09pm
  There would be several things that have to be thought about by the players.
  One is whatever put the ship/technology here may want it back and are looking for it.
  Another, if it is a ship that is badly damaged, maybe whatever damaged it is still around and if you use it extensively they may come back to finish the job.
  Here's a good one that I used. The technology is advanced enough to take on a battleship by itself but the whole fleet at one time or a large part of it.
  The weapons can dish out some awesome damage but they over heat, cause feedback into the system when used, or have a shorter range than the UPF giving the UPF range advantage. Another one I have used.
  My balance in all this is a question to the players. Do you really want to see if it can take on the whole fleet? There is a reason the ship was left here are we going to play around to find out why? What happened to the owners? If they could not use it or had to abandon it, what could the problem be?
  These are some serious issues when dealing with high tech in a low tech game that has to be dropped into the players laps to think about and it really gets them to thinking about it, especially when a Sather fleet begins to lurk around the system with some UPF scouts that if they decide to take care of the problem. Now which do they go after? I like the setup of you cannot get both, it is either one or the other and the one that gets away almost guarantees a larger fleet showing up to see what that was in the front yard. Yeah, they a had the most awesome ship, but could not afford to play around with it.
  And if they ever took something off of it, any place they went into the federation there was questions about the item if they ever used it. One incident involved a one shot emergency transporter. The energy wave so so dramatic that it caught the eye of Task Force Nova in the area. The SF ship they were in was worth scrap if they ever came back into Federation space, not to mention some of the players had to disguise themselves when they came back. Eventually, they left the thing alone and only used it as a base of operations and was having their engineer examine anything they could find that would not raise eyebrows in the federation. This helped for the most part, but all the equipment was not real far advanced over the SF other than being more compact and could be passed off as "my own design that is why it looks so strange and makes that funny sound and trips every sensor in the building. I will need to take care of that." I as the referee could not help myself from laughing at some of the excuses to cover-up the technology. They even did a show and tell once with some darn good footwork of explanations to the inquiring minds. Hec, when they flew one of the ships boats through the federation, the ships behind them lost engines, navigation, sensors, and the trail lead right straight to them. lol  This list of things they had to do just went on and on and got funnier and funnier. Eventually, they just stopped useing the stuff outside of the system they found it in as long as no-one esle was snooping around. but it did not stop there,

AZ_GAMER's picture
December 8, 2010 - 7:28pm
a good example of this is in the movie District 9, the alien weapons tech was devastating compared to human weapons. The balancing factor is that the aliens were not willing or able to use the weapons knowing that the small number of super-tech weapons would not last against a throng of angry humans with slug throwers and nukes.

jedion357's picture
December 8, 2010 - 8:21pm
Well you dont want the Deux Ex Machina with the ultra tech
so you need limits.

Limits come in many forms- taking it away (already mentions and a reason why its a bad idea over time  to use this limit).

Other ways to set limits would be to image a cave man with modern tech. With a flashlight; for awhile he'd be like a god till the batteries went dead.
With an AK47 with a full clip set on semi auto he'd be shocked at first but then would have a bit of a party with it, till the clip ran dry. Set on full auto and the party is over faster.
and he'd have precious little idea on how to change batteries or clips so give the cave man ultra tech from modern times and let him have his fun

Give a Frontiersman ultra tech and let him have his fun. But there is a point, and the married among us can testify, at which the honeymoon is over.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

rattraveller's picture
December 9, 2010 - 5:39pm
A supertech one thing to remember is a shovel is just a shovel whether your burying the dead who died in the good fight, you shot and are hiding the bodies or whacking zombies over the head with it is always the intention of users that makes something dangerous. Of course giving it to them with certain limits that are clearly understood like the tank on Starmist can relieve some of the hurt feelings.

Or you can turn it around on them. The Guyver fought the evil creatures but eventually found out the Guyver armor was the failed experiment and serious consequences were coming his way unless he got rid of the Guyver armor.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

Max_Writer's picture
December 14, 2010 - 11:19am
That's in Challenge Magazine, isn't it?  I've read it and it's a good scenario. Enjoyed it very much.

Farscape's Moira was also a living ship. I think that those vessels actually evolved independently of some superior race and then allied with the pilots to explore the universe. I always liked that idea myself.