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Nov 12, 08 at 1:49pm ^Pinlighter (T)(PM)
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These distances are in actual fact astronomical.
It is a good thing then that, several hundred years ago, some clever bugger sat down and found a way to travel all that way much faster than would otherwise have been the case. It is very complicated science that continues to baffle and confuse even the most learned scientists whose collective job is to work out exactly how the Shadow Mass Drive actually works. For most people, it is enough to know that it does.
Shadow Space, it is currently thought, exists on a plane of reality below the one we inhabit. Therefore, the theory goes, it is smaller. Being smaller, it contains less space/time than our reality. The practical upshot of this is that a journey which will take even light hundreds of years to complete can be undertaken in a few days, a week at most.
Shadow Space is, however, not without its hazards. Everything in our reality has Shadow Mass or Mass Shadow (the terms are interchangeable depending on which sounds better in context). A sufficiently large object, such as a star, will have a correspondingly large Mass Shadow. Striking these objects has an effect comparable to striking the physical object at a relative speed.
For example, our starship is making a journey of seven light years, which through Shadow Space can be accomplished in a matter of hours. Due to a technical error, it comes into contact with an asteroid. While asteroid collisions are a fantastically rare occurrence, and usually survivable, smashing into one at a speed several orders of magnitude above that of light is not going to end well for anybody.
Due to the fact that Shadow Mass is invisible to both human eyes and sensor equipment in order to safely navigate Shadow Space, each ship is in need of at least one of the individuals known, for reasons dubious and forgotten, as Pinlighters. They can 'see' Shadow Mass and so can steer a ship around it. Unfortunately, not least for the Pinlighters themselves, they are blind, deaf and mute - possibly due to the mutation that grants this ability.
Question: What do normal human eyes see in Shadow Space?
Answer: Nothing - not the plain white of a blank page or the deep black of space.
Over-long exposure can result in acute headaches, paranoia, extreme delusions, schizophrenia and eventual death, usually by suicide.
Because Pinlighters are necessary for interstellar travel, their whereabouts and working conditions are carefully monitored, and every one is registered with and tagged by a monitoring authority based on Earth's Moon. Obviously, there are bound to be Pinlighters that are so far unregistered.
They do their best, get off their backs, will ya?
Whenever a previously unknown and unregistered Pinlighter is discovered there is usually a mad scramble to be the one to make it to Earth's Moon with it in one's possession.
If it becomes widely known that an unregistered Pinlighter is aboard a vessel, that vessel usually becomes the target of every pirate and military power between its current location and its eventual destination.
It matters not how a Pinlighter was acquired, only that it was. Once registered and tagged, that Pinlighter is legally the property of the individual who signed as the owner, and further attacks on the vessel will result in decisive action by the HSA - which ranges from trade embargoes to outright military actions.
Ownership is largely symbolic in any case and Pinlighters, while possessed of certain special needs, are usually treated like any other member of a crew.
It is possible for smaller ships to 'piggy-back' larger ships through Shadow Space by travelling directly in their wake. In this way an entire fleet can maneuver around the galaxy without every ship needing its own Pinlighter.
There is a radical theory that there is a plane of reality above this one. Tentatively, and unoriginally, called Light Space. If the observations gained from the careful study of Shadow Space apply, Light Space is larger than our reality, that is it possesses more space/time, and contains Light Mass objects.
It is currently believed to be of no practical use.
So far, in the six hundred years that mankind has been capable of interstellar travel, there has been a distinct and disappointing lack of intelligent alien species to wage war upon, enslave, liberate from the oppression of other aliens, culturally assimilate or from whom to flee in terror. Depressing, eh?
There are plenty of factions of mankind to make up for this lack, though. From asteroid miners, religious fundamentalist enclaves, alien hunters and pirate bases to industrial metropolises, scientific research stations and garden worlds.
Most, but not all, worlds are loosely banded together in an organisation called the Human Systems Alliance.
The HSA is largely concerned with matters of trade and sets the exchange rates of various currencies against the galactic standard credit, but also maintains a small but elite force to ensure the compliance of the more rowdy planets.
Things, thanks mostly to the HSA, are relatively peaceful and have been for some time.
Convential firearms that rely on the transference of kinetic energy to do damage have worked for hundreds of years. The only real change is in the accuracy, range and reliability of the weapons, which usually depends more on the owner than the weapon in question.
Pistols, rifles and shotguns are widely used in those areas of the galaxy where the law tends to be loosely defined.
Lasers are strictly ship-based, short-ranged defensive weapons only as the energy needed to make them effective is too great for anything smaller than a battleship's reactor. Smaller vessels tend to be quick enough to avoid any incoming ordnance and larger vessels are equipped with over-lapping kinetic barrier grids.
Plasma weapons, while incredibly destructive, are unreliable and expensive. When they are used, which is rarely, they are deployed in an anti-armour role. Plasma technology, despite great leaps forward in recent years, is still considered to be in its infancy.
There are reports of plasma weapons of all kinds failing to work at all, unleashing the energy contained in a hydrogen cell in a single blast and exploding without warning.
Generally, they are not worth the trouble, but the fact that one possesses the most destructive personnel weapon around while one's enemy does not is usually enough to give one the edge in practically any situation.
Swords, axes, knives and the like are usually carried by the captains of merchant and prate vessels as a sign of status. For some it is a symbol only, a call back to the days when a man lived or died by his skill with a blade, but for a few it is a weapon with which he or she has intimate knowledge.
It is often held that during boarding actions, sticking your enemy with a sword carries much less of a risk than putting a bullet through the hull.
All ships have two names - a few examples (which will appear later so don't steal 'em if you're making a ship of your own) are Disproportionate Response, Mitigating Circumstance and Parental Discretion. They are always referred to by the second of the names preceded by the word 'the'. Eg "Get back to the Response, double-time."
People also have two or more names. It is considered polite to call someone by their surname. First names are for close friends and family only (so make the second name the cool one if you are so minded.)
Worlds are inhabited, planets are not.
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Nov 12, 08 at 2:19pm ^re: Pinlighter (T)(PM)
Pinlighters should be included in the Other section of the ship profile.
Not every character needs a ship of their own. Your character, for example, might be a member of the crew on another character's ship, in which case you don't need to fill it out again. It is mostly there because people inevitably want to play pirates, but I swear to any gods that might be listening if I get a clear expy, mimic or poorly disguised copy of a character that I recognise (for example Jack Sparrow, Han Solo or Boba Fett) there will be hell to pay. Not really, I just won't let you join.
For a change, I am actually going to read any character sheets I receive carefully and consider any implications of the information that I have been presented. Usually, I just give them a quick once over to make sure that they are not too powerful, and the stuff what has been written makes some kind of sense and applies to the background as presented.
Anything I consider to be over-powered will not be allowed, no bounty hunters whizzing around in miltary ships or anything. Not even massively successful bounty hunters. They can have the space equivalent of a Jeep, not a tank.
And that's pretty much it.
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Nov 13, 08 at 10:35am ^re: Pinlighter (T)(PM)
List of characters and ships
Neoname: Scott Cee
Name: Lanzer Vaio
Appearance: Vaio is a man in his mid-thirties, tall and lean. He, like many people who spend much of their time in space, tends towards pale verging on the wan, and with two or three day's growth of stubble. His hair is black and his eyes dark.
He has a marked preference for dressing in dark colours, usually black, and is of generally scruffy appearance, which he puts down to an internally generated scruffiness field over which he has no control.
Background: Vaio was born on Earth. He had a normal childhood and finished school with below average results in everything except languages. He joined the crew of a merchant vessel as soon as he was able, finding the over-populated Earth to be stifling.
He is a merchant and sometime bounty hunter, successful enough to pay his bills with a little left over to make repairs and alterations to his ship as needed.
Weapons: Vaio carries a semi-automatic pistol for protection. He also owns a heavy sabre, with which he has no skill whatsoever, but finds the weight of it on his belt reassuring in times of strife.
Other: Vaio, as befits a trader, has a decent grasp of the majority of languages used by populations close to Earth, and a decent grasp of mathematics. He has some knowledge of the workings of his ship, including how to effect temporary repairs to vital systems.
Name: Fiat Lux
Appearance: The Lux is a small trading vessel, having an appearance in common with the Manta Ray. Most of its internal area is given over to the transportation of cargo.
Other: The Lux's Pinlighter is one Susan Golightly.
Neoname: Wyvern Knight Zero
Name: Blud Staunch
Appearance: Staunch, despite being in his thirties, has clearly had age get the best of him; he appears to be ten years older than he actually is. While once sturdy and healthy, years of a mind-addled lifestyle and eating disorders have let him frail, sickly, his pallid skin mixing with his astonishingly vibrant red eyes to give him the appearance of the typical fantasy-novel vampire. He is almost completely bald – save for a meager thin sheet of stubble upon his head - wrinkles and blemishes cover his face, and worst of all would be his teeth – corroded from years of neglect. He gives little care for his bodily appearance, and his appreciation for fashion is even less honed – he dresses strangely, wearing whatever he has managed to procure in his journeys.
Background: Staunch was always a child who never knew what was best for him and his safety, always coming off as a simpleton – as such, he was ostracized by his family, and eventually abandoned. Later, wandering aimlessly, he was discovered by an illegal substance courier, where he served a variety of purposes – as a child, he played son to this man (as, clearly, it always helped to avert suspicions), and as he grew older, he was taught several tricks of the trade (and although he had always been dim, these particular lessons resonated well with him, and Staunch managed to learn quite a bit). For a while, he lived a normal life, until his 'owner' died, and he reverted back to his peculiar self, with the additional burden of the ship – it was perhaps induced by loneliness, the Pinlighter Jaden was never good company, for obvious reasons.
In one voyage, Staunch, overcome by a wave of stupidity, openly exposed himself unhealthily to Shadow Space, resulting in a mind even more addled than it had once been. Now, a broken man of sorts, he jumps from world to world peddling off various substances.
Weapons: The mentally challenged man is host to much within his arsenal (although the main problem is that he is not quite 'able' enough to utilize most of them). In fact, Staunch can only use two to any degree of proficiency; a simple knife, and a modest pistol that had both been given to him upon becoming inducted into the smuggling ship, and had subsequently been with him ever since.
Other: To what degree his mind had been addled, and what has been the result of said 'addling' as opposed to his initial nature is a strange matter to talk about. Regardless, Staunch is unstable enough in that he has visions of entirely fictional and deformed nominal characters which often engage within him in various conversations. Strangely, Staunch has been able to retain all that he has ever been able to learn – and performs it at the same level as he always has.
Additionally, although only being able to speak English (to a heavily impaired degree, even) he is able to get to most of his clients with surprisingly effective, improvisational sign language.
Name: Anonymous Stalactite
Appearance: A meager-sized vessel, it is however in decent shape – thanks to his 'teachings', Staunch has managed to pay to keep it polished whenever he can. Other than that, it is rather aesthetically displeasing, a bland grey (which somehow fails to reach into cool, metallic silver). Its shape is incredibly strange, reminiscent of a milk carton.
Other: The Pinlighter (referred to as 'Pinhead') of the Stalactite is Jaden Ford – an unregistered one. The former owner of the Stalactite was recognized by the law, and as such, association with it would've been incredibly foolish.
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