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The Politics of Mars
In Setting Discussions
Ray Nothnagel
Apr 02, 2020
Some of the specific questions: 1/2) The biggest changes are in order to prevent casualties from isolation from reoccurring in the future. After reestablishing contact, Mars's first priority is to set up the facilities it had been missing the first time it lost contact to fill in the gaps of their dependency on Earth. And every Martian learns the tools of survival, which on Mars means everyone is a mechanic. I think the questions in points 3 and 4 would largely balance each other out, with a handful of people on either end of the spectrum causing problems one way or another. 5a) There's probably an element of that. As Humanity expands into the rest of the galaxy, the hubris could become evident when there proves to be little need for a Mars colony, as it's not exactly convenient to travel to for any of the more important locations (Earth, Ceres, Saturn), nor does Mars itself provide much in the way of helping Humans survive. 5b) It would have to be; the soonest the Martians would possibly know what happened on Earth wouldn't be until contact is reestablished during the Expansion Era. 6a/b) Would play out differently among different subcultures on Mars, and for sure some would see any amicable contact with aliens as a betrayal. That said, Mars never has an anti-alien movement anywhere near as strong as what Redland has, as a point of reference. The biggest influence the Orion War has from Mars's perspective would be the influx of demand for the kinds of expertise (piloting, mechanics) that Mars excels at, so the war is quite a financial boon for the Martian economy. 7a) There's a lot of Humans everywhere, Mars included, not happy about the Treaty of Parella. This sentiment comes to a head during the Artifact Era, in particular the Backdoor Incursion incident (core 194). 7b) There'll be plenty of opportunity for both vindication and humiliation for anti-alien sentiments in the next sourcebook; that's one of the bigger historical themes of the following century. :)
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The Politics of Mars
In Setting Discussions
Ray Nothnagel
Apr 02, 2020
I'll go ahead and post the flash fiction story The Martians here, as it may help inform these questions: Mars Colonial Mission Report, Commander Andrew Grossman June 6, 2050 Hello commissioner, I've got great news about the in situ project. Yesterday, we successfully created the first test article made entirely from materials here on Mars. As you're aware, the early plastic deposition printing tests were unsuccessful, and ever since then, we've been working with the metals found in the Martian surface soil. We've found the most promising of these to be the pyroxenes, and that's just what we used for this part. This test article is a plain rod composed primarily of augite, and simply extruded from the smelted metal. We are ready to proceed to the next phase, which I believe will be a straightforward task. This phase will involve creating more complex parts by using a laser sintering process. Once we have perfected this process, it will be simple to create all the replacement metal components we need, which means we will have a much reduced need for redundant parts and a far greater self-reliance. Local manufacture of parts is the last major component of self-sufficiency we have remaining to accomplish. Obviously solar power has been providing our electrical needs, and for fuel we have been using the Sabatier reaction for years, converting the Martian atmosphere into methane. And of course, last year, we had a similar milestone with food when we ate our first full meal grown entirely in Martian greenhouses. So today was a big step for us here on Mars, but I've heard there's some significant news from Earth. I know you're trying to protect our mental wellbeing, but I really must insist that we are informed about developments as significant as the first contact with aliens. Don't ask how we got around your firewall, I'm not giving that up, but throw us a bone, here. Who are these aliens? Do we have any standing orders with regards to them? Cmdr. Grossman Mars Colonial Mission Report, Extended Mission, Acting Commander Samantha Zubrin March 29, 2054 Another sol, another problem. I wish I had more training, or just more preparation. I'm in over my head here. We all are. We lost pressurization on Delta Dome today, with twelve people inside it. Only three of them managed to get to the emergency breathers before passing out, buying them enough time to be rescued. Early diagnostics are suggesting that it was one of our in situ repairs that failed—some kind of structural weakness in the augite part, or maybe in the connections to the main base parts. I wish we could do something to improve that, but Dr. Kilmister was our chief metallurgist, and we lost him two years ago. If we're going to make any improvements to the formula at this point, someone's going to need to start from scratch and just study the hell out of our encyclopedias. The nine deaths, in combination with the ones we've already suffered, have brought us to a morbid milestone: we have now lost over 25% of our original mission crew. The mission parameters as originally written would have called for an unconditional mission abort at that number, but that's not really an option for us. We haven't even had so much as an email from Earth in over three years. For all we know, we might be the last Humans in the universe. It's not like our measly little 2-meter telescope can tell us whether or not there's life on Earth. Not that it stops us from looking at it every chance we get. But even if we did know that everything was alright back on Earth, we still wouldn't have abort capacity. It's been over six months since we first started taking vital components from our ascent vehicle. Once we took the first piece, it was open season, and every department wanted something. Computers, pumps, piping, fluid tanks—you name it, we pulled it. There's been talk of knocking the frame on its side and using it as additional greenhouse space. Even if not for the accidents, we wouldn't have been able to sustain the original crew regardless. We rationed our the food we brought with us as much as possible, but we knew it wouldn't last us more than 20 months. We converted every available square meter from the research domes into greenhouse space, trying our best but still knowing it wouldn't produce food enough to sustain a colony of our size. But then Theta Dome exploded, and suddenly, we had fifteen fewer mouths to feed. We've made it work since then. Delta Dome's depressurization is a big problem in more ways than just the people it killed. Delta Dome was one of our hubs, which means three of our domes are cut off from the other seven that survive still. The medbay is in Beta Dome, but the storage unit with a lot of the medicines we need is in Mu Dome. One of the nine we lost today was literally there to bring medicine that Commander Grossman needs to survive; he's still in a coma, but he may come out of it one day. I hope so; I didn't have any plans on being the Commander here. In any case, I don't imagine the colony making it longterm if we don't get Delta Dome repaired, and fast. Mars Colonial Mission Report, Extended Mission, Commander Samantha Zubrin May 12, 2066 We made it. God damn, I can't believe we actually made it. The resupply is landing in less than an hour. We're all anxious, we're all hungry, and half of us are sick, but we're alive. For twelve years, counting the casualties has been my duty. We lost 40% of the crew we initially came with. But our numbers are not quite as low as they seem. When we had no hope and no expectations of ever contacting Earth again, it was only a matter of time before the crew would start having babies. Ten babies have been born here in the last decade, the first children ever to be raised outside of Earth's gravity well. We lost the first two children in infancy to spinal deformations before we worked out how to compensate safely, but all the rest are in good health today. Though death has been a constant companion with us these years, those two were the hardest. When I was first named Acting Commander, I tried to refuse—I wasn't nearly qualified for this. But Commander Grossman saw something in me I wasn't even sure I had in myself, and gave me more support than I could have imagined before he passed. With the resupply coming closer every second, we're about to sign off on the hardest chapter, and begin anew. As of today, I am resigning my NASA commission and rank, and most of the original crew are tendering their resignations as well. We're not just a crew anymore. This isn't just a place we're stuck. This is our home, we are a family with ties stronger even than blood, and we're now raising the first native-born Martians ever to exist. I am no longer the commander here; I am just one citizen in this amazing, hardworking community. We are not astronauts; we are Martians.
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PCEG Trials, Ideals and Venus
In Setting Discussions
Ray Nothnagel
Apr 01, 2020
That Hong Kong campaign sounds sweet! It's right at the boundary of "plenty of story hooks to draw from" and "not a lot of future canon depends on the details" that would give you a lot of freedom in a campaign like that. re: Mars, I actually have a short story in my archive which is a log entry of an officer on the Mars colony. The Mars colony is not very large (I haven't pinned an exact number, but in the story cites 10 children born between 2056-2066, a birth rate which would probably put the number of colonists somewhere around 100-150 at the most), which might limit the variety of storylines in a long-running campaign. One possibility to keep it from getting stale might be to just start it during the isolation, timeskipping a few years each session and reestablishing contact by the third or fourth session, something like that. The equatorial Occupation era campaign would almost certainly be the most straightforward campaign to run, as missions for the resistance can be easy to write, plan, and play without having to juggle a lot of interconnected plots. I have an adventure set in South America during that time which I run at conventions which is always a good time, and features characters who belong to the resistance cell that ultimately colonizes Redland. Similar adventures in Africa would be quite possible, there's just less written canon for that region - so, similar campaign styles but with different flavor and a little more freeform. If you'd like, I'd be happy to email either the Mars short story or the South America adventure (such as it is - it's very incomplete at the moment as so far I'm the only one who's run it, but the goal is for it to be a published adventure module) to use as a starting point for your campaign.
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The China Split
In Setting Discussions
Ray Nothnagel
Mar 31, 2020
Some of these I'm not going to definitively answer just because I'm far from an expert on Chinese culture, history, and governance, and as such have not filled in every detail of how the people of China would react to the events of the world. 1) Like the US, the main government of China was dismantled during the Bactaran occupation. After the occupation, more localized governing bodies formed on an ad hoc basis, and it was these local governments which made the decision whether to join the PCEG and UEN respectively. Of these, Guangdong was the only one* which decided not to join the UEN, as they determined that their manufacturing and economic power could be leveraged better if they were independent. The other provinces, not having the same clout as Guangdong, joined the UEN. * Probably the only one. This is one of those culture things I don't know well enough to say definitively, e.g. if there are any particular regions of China that would be more inclined towards establishing non-aligned states. 2) This one specifically I can't answer very well. 3) Culturally, most of the citizens of the provinces that came out of China would still consider themselves to be part of "China", but there is no longer a single particular nation called "China". It gradually transitions to mean more of a regional term, a little bit like "the Midwest" in the US. 4) It takes some recovery time after the occupation ends for any state to build up enough military force to consider going to war. When this does happen there are some territorial wars among Chinese provinces (and elsewhere), but generally when this happens the power imbalance is significant enough that wars are short and decisive. Ultimately, these skirmishes are pretty minor. 5) Addressing Hong Kong specifically, it legally becomes a part of Guangdong. HK's culture remains pretty unique within China, but it's less set-apart than it is in present day. 6) Can't answer this one very well. 7) A lot of surrounding nations have their own instability and recovery to worry about for a while, so cleaning up after the occupation has a bigger effect on them than effects from China. India got hit harder than most countries during the occupation, between mass driver strikes (to take out resistance cells) and higher fatality rates from the pandemics of the era. Korea (which was "unified" during the occupation, though a massive cultural rift persists) also got hit hard, with large parts of Seoul being razed. The most untouched neighboring country was the Phillipines, which was mostly ignored by the Bactarans due to their island status and came out as a stronger relative power as a result, and the Phillipines became one of the non-aligned states.
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The Cascade States
In Setting Discussions
PCEG Trials, Ideals and Venus
In Setting Discussions
Ray Nothnagel
Mar 31, 2020
League of Nations is an decent analogy, but it was inspired a little bit more by the US under the Articles of Confederation, prior to the Constitution. The main difference between PCEG and either of those was the intentionality, which is evident in the name: "Provisional". The PCEG was designed to be an interim government to deal with the aftermath of the Bactaran occupation, while diplomats met and discussed plans for a more stable longterm world government, which eventually became the UEN. The investigations definitely started off like Nuremberg, and progressed more towards McCarthyism as time went on and the "low-hanging fruit" of collaborators was gone. The most distinctive "PCEG idea" that outlived the PCEG would be the drive for revenge against anyone who hinted at collaboration which (somewhat ironically given its origins) some in the Cascade States would champion as their cause later. The PCEG is definitely viewed as an artifact of the past, a necessary intermediate step between the occupation and a stable world government. Guangdong didn't hold specific idealistic ties nor feuds to either the PCEG or the UEN, and joining one but not the other was simply a matter of economic practicality for the region. As such, Venus didn't inherit much of PCEG culture. Venus's opposition to the Orion War is very much because its tourism-centered culture has closer ties to aliens than those on Earth do, though the fact that Venus is independent from the UEN does make it easier to express those views.
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I need help
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Ray Nothnagel
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