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ICON Technology


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Technology in ICON

Different races understand science and technology to wildly differing degrees. It is possible for individuals to use devices of which they personally have little or no understanding, but due to the necessity for repair and maintenance this is not practicable on a planetary scale. It is often the case that the ruling classes for a particular society will have technology orders of magnitude more advanced than that available to the average thing-on-the-street. Hence the descriptions below refer specifically to Omicron Station: low tech is widely available, medium tech is common, high tech is expensive and/or rare. Omicron is a major trading post, so the best available tech can always be had for the right price.

Two areas are of particular interest, because they are based on technologies left by legendary 'elder' race(s). These are the Jump Gates, and the Matrix.

Space Travel

Low: Too slow to be viable.
Medium: Ships capable of travel in-system and through jump gates.
High: Jump drives.

Jump gates do not physically appear as portals, but are regions in space from which it is possible to transport instantly to another jump gate. This allows interstellar trade on a grand scale. Each Jump Gate is connected to several others, forming a web across CivCore. Occasionally, a new connection will be discovered, either creating a shorter route between two places, or leading to a previously undiscovered gate.

Jump drives themselves vary in quality, from a ranges varying from 2 light years (not very far) up to about 8 or so. CivCore jump ships are not particularly accurate, but are guaranteed to put you in the right system at least, after which other forms of propulsion will take over. The New Empire have more accurate jump drives, with longer range.

Jump drives require a great deal of energy, which is stored in capacitors, and recharged by the ship's engines (or an external power source). Normal procedure is to carry enough energy for two jumps. Recharge can take days.

There is also a strange phenomenon associated with jumpships whereby a certain amount of random 'noise' creeps in, and so sometimes you will arrive not quite in the same condition you left. However, the effects are avoided by the use of a Sneaky Gadget which essentially absorbs all the effects, and which is occasionally replaced. A jump is still possible if it goes wrong or wears out, but it is *far* more risky. On the whole, it is best to use jump gates wherever possible: they don't have this problem.

Communications

The Matrix is essentially a computer system which spans the entire CivCore. Information transfer across vast distances is almost instantaneous, so simply by 'logging on', anyone can retrieve data from anywhere else on the system. Information can be passed throughout the CivCore very quickly, and it is only this fact which allows the various races to co-exist and co-operate.

The Matrix is pretty secure. It is possible to intercept messages, and if they are not properly defended to block them, but not usually to tamper with or read them. The Matrix has never been known to completely crash, but connections can be jammed by computer criminals. Most systems treat such people harshly.

It is not generally possible to physically locate a Matrix terminal, unless you happen to know the physical location of the node being used, in which case they must be withim communication range (a few light hours, at the most).

Telhassium is a black mineral, found in varying quantities on most planets of CivCore. It is a vital component of matrix technology, and is used by all races in their matrix connections. Its nature is not entirely understood: on an atomic scale it consists of rapidly changing arrays of assorted uncommon particles, fields and energy. Nevertheless, it is very stable. It absorbs energy in an astounding manner unique to this mineral, although not to the extreme that it is painful to the touch. The confusion over the structure of Telhassium makes it impossible to manufacture.

Many other means of communication exist: if it moves, you can use it. However, only the Matrix is faster than light.

Weapons

Low: Shari Cavalry sabre, anything that Really Exists (TM)
Medium: Blasters (TM).
High: Very Large Bombs, Ships Weapons (i.e. Very Large Blasters).

Ship to Ship combat

Ships weapons are very good at destroying ships. For this reason, it is unusual to go into combat in anything big enough to be easy to hit. The three main tactics are:
1) Win a fighter battle, and force the enemy carrier fleet to surrender. [Karellians, CCF]
2) Send in large numbers of fairly small ships with powerful weapons, and win quickly. [New Empire, CCF]
3) Charge their biggest ship with yours and hope [Plantains - oh dear]

There are also a few well-known minority tactics:
1) Be very very manoeverable, fly rings around the enemy at light speed, and blow them up [Handrahen]
2) Poison the water [Skithrass]
3) Muck about with their computers [Assorted high-hacking individuals, usually smug]
4) Board their flagship with cavalry [Shari]
5) Be The Good Guy [Johnny Vlarg]

Medical

Low: Real World.
Medium: Improved drugs. Auto-stitchers.
High: Nutrient-bath immersion thingummies. In ideal conditions, life-support can be given to a severed brain. (Although for technical reasons losing your spinal cord is baaaad.) Al,ost any injury can eventually be repared, or solved by a prosthesis.

Computing

Low: Reasonably smart utilities that perform common tasks.
Medium: Smart utilities that do what you want them to.
High: Smart-ass utilities that guess what you want to do.

Artificial Intelligence is a subject of intense research, debate, and runour.

Power Sources

Low: From 'fetch the marshmallows' to batteries, and of course wall-sockets.
Medium: Hot fusion units (for ships).
High: Whatever that weird pulsy thing is down in engineering.

Robotics

(note that 'intelligence' is covered under computing)

Low: Big, clunky-looking things.
Medium: Vaguely human-shaped, walking things.
High: Can't tell it's not human just by a casual glance.

Miniaturisation

Low: Miniature cellphone.
Medium: Micro-chips that you could lose easily.
High: Smallest useful mobile spying devices are about 1cm long.

Gravitics

Low: None.
Medium: Artificial Gravity.
High: 'Inertial Damping' (and hence reactionless drives).

Sensors

Low: Detect heat, light, sound, x-rays and things.
Medium: Identify life-signs, scan for whatever the GMs want to tell you.
High: Detect anomalies, medical scanners etc.

A small ship can normally be detected at a range sufficient to see it coming and react.

Planets produce 'sensor shadow'. Similarly, life signs are easy to detect if there is nothing in the way, not too bad through a ship's hull, and very difficult during a 'magnetic disturbance' or other anomaly.

Sensor jammers

By broadcasting randomly on all frequencies, spreading reflective metallic dust over a broad area and generally making a fuss, it is possible to prevent anyone scanning you. They will certainly know that *something* is there, but have very little chance of working out exactly what, or of getting off a clear shot. This will almost certainly prevent you being seen clearly, and will also jam other scans and communications. Trying to break through the jamming is largely a matter of power. Your own sensors and communications will be similarly affected.

Ship stealth tech

Shutting down all power is all very well, so long as you find a way to cease all respiration (hiding your 'life signs') and so long as your ship is either perfectly insulated or else has an internal temperature of roughly 3 K. On the other hand, *they* can't sneak up on *you*, either.

Bioengineering

Low: Selective breeding.
Medium: A few genetic changes. Simple artificial organic devices.
High: Minor genetic changes. Proper artificial organs.

Terraforming is possible in principle, but would take centuries.

Holographics

It is possible to project a moving holographic image which is convincing to sight. It does however require at least two projectors, since it works by interference. They can't simulate life signs.

The Impossible List.

This is not intended as a challenge. You will genuinely be wasting your time trying to invent any of this stuff.

10) Weather control: Not on a proper planet. Possible in smaller environments.
9) The Densitometer.
8) Nanotech (building things one atom at a time), with the exception of inscribed circuitry.
7) Solidgrams. (Hard light holograms)
6) Manufacturing Telhassium.
5) Cloaking Device: It is possible to reduce visibility using image generators but they are heavy, and don't fool 'sensors'.
4) Defensive Shields: No-one has managed to produce any sort of energy field that will act as a barrier.
3) Creating Jump Gates.
2) Matter Transmission, transmutation or removal (although the New Empire do have 'disintegrator sticks'. The technology involved has never been made public).
1) Time Manipulation.