Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and came to love x-risks

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Galactophage Galactophage's picture
Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and came to love x-risks
Here's an idea I've been kicking around for a campaign where everything goes to Hell in a handbasket. The Solar System erupts in total war, strategic weapons are tossed around like candy, terrorism and sabotage become commonplace, and social collapse occurs in others. And that's not getting involved with the Factors, TITANs, or the like. The way it would start off is after a Barsoomian terrorist attack uses devices made from Titanian nanofabbers (perhaps a questionable claim), the Planetary Consortium and Jovian Junta attack the Commonwealth. The Titanians begin debate unleashing their strategic assets and weapons, but they know they're outgunned and would be annihilated. So, they resort to sabotage, unconventional warfare, netwar, and what they do best. The other autonomists either join in or head for the edge of the system. Extropia itself becomes an urban war zone under martial law as mercs, partisans, and anyone stuck in the crossfire slug it out (assuming someone doesn't just slag it). The Jovian Junta fears the PC would betray it as soon as the campaign ends, so they begin preparing their own aces in the hole in the form of more secret police, nukes and antimatter warheads, and secret projects involving seed AI and TITAN relics. The Tharsis League on Mars faces near civil war and unrest between Barsoomians and the PC. Terrorism, guerrilla warfare, massacres... All of these are done on all sides, and then some. With the concentration on the war, hardly anyone is left to guard the TQZ... The Morningstar Constellation has had some problems involving saboteurs attempting to bring down their aerostat cities. It may be some anarchists, or it may be the PC using the chaos of war to remove a potential rival, one aerostat at a time. A major aerostat city drops to the ground, and it is not the only one... The LLA, technically neutral in the conflict, faces an uprising of the clanking masses. Opportunistic raiding by the criminals and pirates in nearby habitats adds to the chaos. While some strange activity is reported in New Mumbai, more alarming is the fact that large sections of the interdiction satnet around Earth suddenly start going offline. TITAN structures and machines roar back to life, and presumably TITAN spacecraft emerge from the holes in the fence... Meanwhile, the Factors seem to have converged at specific points within the Sol System, and are building structures of unknown function that have high energy emissions. No one is quite sure what these are for... Even the extrasolar colonies are not safe. Contact with colonies is lost as more and more are cut off. Reports of TITAN drones and exhuman infiltrators spread paranoia amongst refugees fleeing back towards Sol... So, if you want to bring doomsday to the Solar System, how would you do it?
"Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est."
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and ...
Galactophage wrote:
So, if you want to bring doomsday to the Solar System, how would you do it?
I think your description sounds good. Basically, international tensions go up, mistakes are made, groups go to war, this destabilizes other groups, further feeding the cycle of paranoia and pre-emptive strikes. The real cause might be just bad luck, the appearance of a new technology that threatens the status quo profoundly, or that the Exsurgent virus has been quietly setting things up during the eclipse phase and now want to go for a full lysis. I would handle the buildup a bit like the buildup to the WW I - Barsoomian terrorists destroy a really important facility using Titanian tech (maybe something on Progress), making the PC go ballistic. They crack down on everything vaguely autonomist-related. This riles up the Extropians, and in a few cases extropian security firms clash with PC security firms. This drags in the LLA that tries to mediate - but they get problems with the synth uprising. Fingers are pointed, more and more destabilizing sabotage seem to happen. Another approach would be to have the chaos start between the Junta and Titan. Sabotage on Freedom or piracy is blamed on the titanians, and the Junta goes to war. The Jovians likely have a lot of heavy weapons - rather than going for finicky nanosystems they will have plenty of antimatter and roaring Destroyers. I would not be surprised if they had a number of nasty first-strike weapons, either relativistic projectiles or hidden missiles that suddenly accelerate out near their targets and blow up. The Titanians have an excellent defence system with their extra moons (long baseline sensors and beam arrays, plenty of cooling and armour) and a fairly defensible position (it is tough to hit targets under an atmosphere from afar as long as one does not have orbital superiority nearby). Hence massive sabotage attempts will be order of the day to attack them. Since the Titanians have planned for a Jovian attack they are also ready to launch their own sneaky warfare against the jovians, sabotaging their apparently brittle hierarchical power structure. Meanwhile the Consortium tries to sit things out (wouldn't it be lovely if those crazies just got rid of each other?) but gets dragged in as various inner system polities start taking sides - the extropians feel threatened and begin to pull in all available IOUs and security firms with the aid of the LLA, various sabotage campaigns spread beyond where they ought to go, then a major habitat is suddenly destroyed, and so on... In many ways characters do not need to understand why things are happening. How many people keep up with the twists and turns of world politics? One day the news just go from worrying to frightening, and things unexpectedly start blowing up *near them*. The interesting part is what the big conspiracies will be doing. Firewall has no doubt contingency plans for everything going to hell, but will not be able to save even its own agents directly (but they do have their security backups - one interesting start of the game might be to wake up at an undisclosed location and being briefed about the solar system being gone... then the adventure starts during or just before the disaster as the agents start getting stranger and stranger orders from Firewall while things get out of hand). Ozma might do the same, and start nasty contingency plans against the Factors and Firewall. Some oligarchs also have redoubts and plans - including getting rid of each other.
Extropian
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and ...
I just don't see war between the PC and Commonwealth, any more than I see war between America and Germany. Both nations are too large and wield too many WMDs, and the PC is made of too many capitalist elements to make going to such large-scale war a worthwhile option. All it takes is one antimatter WMD and [i]poof[/i]. There goes the Martian space elevator, or a city, or a colony, or a dock, or a research centre, and so on. Even a war of sabotage and subterfuge is not in the best interests of anyone from either faction. That said, I don't see the PC's ruling elite letting an opportunity pass them by, either. Nanotechnology would become increasingly restricted and they'd go carte blanche on cracking down on dissenting elements of the Barsoomian movement; another inch of personal freedom could be sacrificed in the name of the common good, and the people would cheer as the noose is tightened around their neck. The Open Source market would be heavily scrutinized, and any dealings with Titan (dealings that might bring open source tech that the PC's constituents already have as copyrighted, for example) would naturally grow increasingly watched, and visitors from the Commonwealth would face increasing harrassment in the name of security. Extropians, anarchists, and the like would object, but mass media would shout them down as unpatriotic; as criminal elements; as terrorist sympathizers. "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." But never would I expect the PC to go to war with Titan for any reason short of an open declaration of war from Titan, and vice versa. Even covert sabotage doesn't strike me as likely; the two have a careful balance. The PC doesn't want its acquisition of wealth disrupted, and Titan just wants its citizens to develop as they see fit, and war would be bad for either. The PC also has an effective garbage dump in Titan; any "undesirable" citizens are encouraged to go there, through whatever means available. In short, I don't see them going to war. They're both too big and too powerful and neither side is committing an act of open aggression. Simple as that. On topic, if I wanted to bring to the solar system... I honestly can't think of a way that doesn't involve injecting a singularity into the Sun. Transhumanity is just too resilient and capable; in one form or another, any threat I can devise would still likely leave some survivors. The only way to extinctiate transhumanity would be to bring about the leap into posthumanism.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and ...
Axel the Chimeric wrote:
I just don't see war between the PC and Commonwealth, any more than I see war between America and Germany. Both nations are too large and wield too many WMDs, and the PC is made of too many capitalist elements to make going to such large-scale war a worthwhile option. All it takes is one antimatter WMD and [i]poof[/i]. There goes the Martian space elevator, or a city, or a colony, or a dock, or a research centre, and so on. Even a war of sabotage and subterfuge is not in the best interests of anyone from either faction.
Which of course makes it a very valuable thing for a third faction to try to get the PC and TC at each other's throats. So much fragile infrastructure just waiting for agents under false flag to do something nasty... While it is true that democracies rarely/never go to war against each other (and yes, both societies seem to be close enough to count; it has less to do with how voting is done as whether the government is kept accountable by the citizens or corporations) there is nothing that prevents them from getting dragged into something between the JJ and either of them. Especially if both sides are already very tense due to other events.
Quote:
On topic, if I wanted to bring to the solar system... I honestly can't think of a way that doesn't involve injecting a singularity into the Sun. Transhumanity is just too resilient and capable; in one form or another, any threat I can devise would still likely leave some survivors. The only way to extinctiate transhumanity would be to bring about the leap into posthumanism.
Self-replicating weapons. Imagine AI-controlled devices with the right nanoswarms to make copies of themselves, launch copies at other targets, as well as build whatever weapons are needed to mess up enemy infrastructure. Set them up on a few uninhabited asteroids to breed a big starting population, then watch as they spread across the solar system like wildfire. Sure, the defenders have some advantage, but when you use all available regolith and solar power to breed more attack swarms that advantage can be worn down. And updated software/blueprints can be distributed using encrypted P2P. This can be done with current EP tech, although of course nobody would admit doing it. There could also be the development of a dangerous form of posthumanity. For example, suppose there is some breakthrough in merging technology making banyans far more stable and efficient, or allows them to run neo-synergist links. Suddenly copyrations and banyans can outcompete everybody else in terms of productivity - the hypercorps either need to get on the bandwagon or they will be bought up by the copyrations. Soon the solar system is dominated by a number of copy-clans, enormous networks of copies of the same individuals that can guarantee their internal loyalty and can outcompete most mere individuals. Some might be benign, but many will start to develop into worrisome directions or just pose an economic pressure that is bad news for the unincorporated (think Economy 2.0 in Stross' Accelerando - great for business, but incompatible with human consciousness).
Extropian
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and ...
The only way I can see the Jovian Republic getting involved in any sort of war with the Commonwealth is the rare happenstance of them being attacked by anarchists and sending patrol ships to inflict revenge. The Commonwealth might have an agreement to defend them, but, frankly, I don't see them honouring mutual defense pacts with terrorists. Overall, the Jovians have as much reason to stay out of a war as anyone else. The power of MAD only grows when your opponents have weapons that can kill your entire nation in an eye-blink. The largest war I can imagine the JR getting involved with is against the anarchist collectives in the Outer System, and even that would be only done in reprisal. As for grey goo, it depends on how virulent your strain is. Large numbers of counter swarms can break down the swarm and the materials don't just vanish, though energy is used up in significant amounts. And now, I have to mention something: [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGy6SEEXcJA]Scolar Visari would make a beautiful spokesman for the Jovian Republic.[/url]
Galactophage Galactophage's picture
Re: Doomsday Events, or Fall 2.0: How I stopped worrying and ...
What of internal strife within the Jovian society? Might not an attempted coup or revolt spiral out of control if anarchists or the PC get involved? Self replicating weapons and Economy 2.0 are other possibilities, both possible with EP tech. Another (non-transhuman) originating catastrophe might be Exsurgent oriented scenarios, Factors (if they have some nasty surprises of their own...), TITANs coming back (perhaps the origin of some high end self replicating weapons lying dormant in the TQZ or Earth, just waiting to be woken up), and lastly, the ETI.
"Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est."