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Outsider Original Race Project 
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Post Outsider Original Race Project
EDITED TO OPEN UP THE PROJECT TO NEWER IDEAS

So, a bit of a weird way to jump onto a forum, but eh.

I've been reading Outsider for over seven years now, and always particularly enjoyed it. I especially like the depth of thought given to the universe and to the races that occupy it. Because I've also been a fan of the Master of Orion series since grade school, I naturally wondered what would happen if someone applied the Outsider treatment to another MoOrace. Because I felt they had the most potential to be culturally/politically interesting, I picked the cybernetic Meklar to try and 'Outsider-ize'. Purely for my own personal amusement, naturally. I did some brainstorming, way too much digging through the Insider, and finally put together a brief outline of what I thought were such a race came from and what it might look like. But as I was sifting through the forum for some additional information, it occurred to me the fastest (and most fun) way to get this project done might be to just crowd-source it and see what all of you make of the concept.

So if anyone is interested in helping me build a Post-Post-Cyberpunk race to (UNOFFICIALLY) add to the Outsider universe, let me know and we can get started. Who knows, if it's popular enough and we aren't sick of the idea by the time we've finished we could start an alternate universe roleplaying thing and see what would happen when we throw this new wildcard into the Loroi/Umiak conflict.

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Last edited by joestej on Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:25 am
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
joestej wrote:
So, a bit of a weird way to jump onto a forum, but eh.

I've been reading Outsider for over seven years now, and always particularly enjoyed it. I especially like the depth of thought given to the universe and to the races that occupy it. Because I've also been a fan of the Master of Orion series since grade school, I naturally wondered what would happen if someone applied the Outsider treatment to another MoO race. Because I felt they had the most potential to be culturally/politically interesting, I picked the cybernetic Meklar to try and 'Outsider-ize'. Purely for my own personal amusement, naturally. I did some brainstorming, way too much digging through the Insider, and finally put together a brief outline of what I thought were such a race came from and what it might look like. But as I was sifting through the forum for some additional information, it occurred to me the fastest (and most fun) way to get this project done might be to just crowd-source it and see what all of you make of the concept.

So if anyone is interested in helping me build a Post-Post-Cyberpunk race to (UNOFFICIALLY) add to the Outsider universe, let me know and I'll put up some of the stuff I've already got so we can get started. Who knows, if it's popular enough and we aren't sick of the idea by the time we've finished we could start an alternate universe roleplaying thing and see what would happen when we throw this new wildcard into the Loroi/Umiak conflict.

As a final note, I'm not interested in trying to build a wish-fulfillment faction, as I think such a race would be extremely dull. Anyone hoping to come out of this with a Tech 12+ species that can teach the other races some manners with their implausibly sophisticated death rays will likely be disappointed.


I am not really sure what you want to do. "Post-Post-Cyberpunk" and "cybernetic Meklar" doesn't say me much. Are you trying to build something akin to Star Trek's Borg? The Umiak seem to be a lot into cybernetic implants already but maybe you want something more humanoid? Maybe they are suffering from something that breaks down their bodies and they install cybernetic implants to compensate? Maybe what they suffer from is simply age and as thus the most youthful individuals you typically meet are the elderly using artificial bodies? Or perhaps your point wasn't cybernetics at all and they have now moved away from that?


Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:36 pm
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Actually, LESS humanoid. The Umiak do use cybernetics, but from what we've seen it appears that they tend to add bits as needed rather than going all out (though genetic tinkering means they usually don't have to go full-body cyborg anyway). I was thinking more like what would happen when a 'Ghost in the Shell' or 'Deus Ex' style cyberpunk society advances a few hundred years. Less "mechanical limb" cybernetics and more "brains in jars".

Still, I recognize that while such a species might be interesting TO ME, it may not hold the same appeal for others. So lets back this up and start from scratch.

Would anyone be interested in a group brainstorming project to create an original TL11 race for the Outsider universe?

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Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:40 am
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Imagine a standardized pod with the holding the "brain in the jar" and at least rudimentary life support system. The entire pod can then easily attached to numerous bodies, depending on the need at the moment. One day an individual could be inside a vaguely humanoid (robotic think Threepeio, not human looking), the next a car sized object on spidery legs. Even later, the body do not only look like but ARE a mile long starship.

But even then,most of the time, the pod is inside a giant bunker with lot's and lot's of others like it and it's body are a robotic construct operated by teleprecense (essentially an remote controlled drone). This drone body can be of any size, including a tiny nano bot that can be injected into a living organism. Much of the time the race spend inside an artificial virtual reality thou, not as uploads, since that technology yet eludes them but like a gigantic CMMORG depicting any "reality" the individual wants to be inside.

Reproduction is artificial, a combination of cloning and artificial mixtures of genes and then grown in an artificial womb. The brain are then separated from the body already at the fetus state.

There is a tiny suppressed subculture that dislike the whole idea that actually would have prefer living bodies but since they have none they use robotic bodies mimicking races they have met. These can be more or less convincing but the goal isn't deception. At least not more then self deception.


Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:12 am
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Sweforce wrote:
Imagine a standardized pod with the holding the "brain in the jar" and at least rudimentary life support system. The entire pod can then easily attached to numerous bodies, depending on the need at the moment. One day an individual could be inside a vaguely humanoid (robotic think Threepeio, not human looking), the next a car sized object on spidery legs. Even later, the body do not only look like but ARE a mile long starship.


This largely parallels what I had originally planned for them, with multiple body options available depending on what they needed to do. I didn't think humanoid forms would be very likely though, simply because it's not a very practical shape compared to some other options. It might be useful for negotiations with other bipeds, perhaps. I think ships would require multiple individuals working together though, because while plugging right into the ship would make control easier they're still limited by what an organic brain can do. Still, they'd make very nasty pilots, because they'd be almost immune to G-forces.

Sweforce wrote:
But even then,most of the time, the pod is inside a giant bunker with lot's and lot's of others like it and it's body are a robotic construct operated by teleprecense (essentially an remote controlled drone). This drone body can be of any size, including a tiny nano bot that can be injected into a living organism. Much of the time the race spend inside an artificial virtual reality thou, not as uploads, since that technology yet eludes them but like a gigantic CMMORG depicting any "reality" the individual wants to be inside.


Wireless drone control was definitely a technology I figured they would have, though you make a good point. There's no reason they wouldn't use it almost exclusively if they could. It's safer and more convenient. The virtual reality thing was another aspect I thought would be a large part of their society, and would allow for a Forum-esc collectivist government. We might need to include a clause that VR doesn't feel quite as 'real' as natural interactions though, or this race would have no reason to ever leave their electronic world.

Not sure where you're going with the nanobot injection. What good would that do? Besides, microscopic nanobots are getting pretty close to smart materials (what is a smart material if not a swarm of coordinating nanobots?), and that's a TL14 technology.

Sweforce wrote:
Reproduction is artificial, a combination of cloning and artificial mixtures of genes and then grown in an artificial womb. The brain are then separated from the body already at the fetus state.

There is a tiny suppressed subculture that dislike the whole idea that actually would have prefer living bodies but since they have none they use robotic bodies mimicking races they have met. These can be more or less convincing but the goal isn't deception. At least not more then self deception.


The first part is largely what I envisioned as well. The second is going to be much more complex to discuss, because it's going to require us to nail down some aspects of their history and culture.

We've already established that they are all cyborgs, and it's not something you can opt out of. WHEN did they decide to do this, and WHY? For a portion of the population, even a small portion, to want to go organic again, this would imply the change was forced rather than being universally accepted. It also implies a totalitarian government, because there's no reason why the cyberization process couldn't be delayed until the children are old enough to decide if they actually want to go full cyborg.

My original thought for the race's culture/history was that they adopted a pseudo-religious philosophy sometime during their early history that preached self-improvement as a cultural imperative. When they hit their Industrial Revolution the philosophy expanded to include technologist aspects. As they developed cybernetics they followed their philosophy and started 'improving' their bodies more and more until there eventually wasn't anything left. I never nailed down a timeline, but I assumed they'd been fully cybernetic for over a century now.

This doesn't necessarily preclude a totalitarian culture or bloody cyber-revolution between Improvers and Luddites if we want that, but it does give us a dodge if we want to skip those. My initial theory for their culture and government was an e-democracy collective rather than a totalitarian regime, with huge forums of virtual individuals discussing issues at length and trying to decide what the best course of action would be. This allows full information freedom, great for development projects, but it's also the equivalent of making 4chan your government. You can kinda see the problems inherent there. But big central government or rule by megacorps would fit well with the cyberpunk aspects for the race, assuming we want that.

As a secondary question, why would they pick the bodies of OTHER species if they want to get their own organic-ness back? Why not get bodies that mimic their own natural forms? Using bodies that mimic aliens seems more like social experimentation to figure out what life would be like for members of those races than it does a cybernetic identity crisis.

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Fri Oct 09, 2015 7:29 am
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Sweforce wrote:
Imagine a standardized pod with the holding the "brain in the jar" and at least rudimentary life support system. The entire pod can then easily attached to numerous bodies, depending on the need at the moment. One day an individual could be inside a vaguely humanoid (robotic think Threepeio, not human looking), the next a car sized object on spidery legs. Even later, the body do not only look like but ARE a mile long starship.

But even then,most of the time, the pod is inside a giant bunker with lot's and lot's of others like it and it's body are a robotic construct operated by teleprecense (essentially an remote controlled drone).
One point: the pods themselves will likely be bodies themselves, just rudimentary ones. You can say that the bunker keeps them safe all that you want, but if you actually tried to get that implemented then the lawyers would put the brakes on the entire project.

Also, that makes it easier to swap non-telepresence bodies, since the pod-person can just unplug, move to the next body, and plug back in, zero support infrastructure needed.

Sweforce wrote:
Much of the time the race spend inside an artificial virtual reality thou, not as uploads, since that technology yet eludes them but like a gigantic CMMORG depicting any "reality" the individual wants to be inside.
Clearly they're either non-productive leeches on the ultra-socialist state, or beneficiaries of state unemployment protections (someone has to maintain the support structure).

Sweforce wrote:
Reproduction is artificial, a combination of cloning and artificial mixtures of genes and then grown in an artificial womb. The brain are then separated from the body already at the fetus state.
Clearly the state is at least partially the perpetrator, for the sake of maintaining itself.

And what of genetic modifications to reduce the workload of amputation, and improve the cyborgification of the fetus?

Sweforce wrote:
There is a tiny suppressed subculture that dislike the whole idea that actually would have prefer living bodies but since they have none they use robotic bodies mimicking races they have met. These can be more or less convincing but the goal isn't deception. At least not more then self deception.
Assuming that the government is half-way sane, I would expect a handful of non-cyborgs, as a just-in-case measure. Doing otherwise is practically religious in nature: are they in fact a cult of technology, ala WH40k Mechanicus?


joestej wrote:
I didn't think humanoid forms would be very likely though, simply because it's not a very practical shape compared to some other options.
Races with those other bodies would doubtlessly think the same of their own form. Every body-plan has it's own unique advantages and disadvantages.

joestej wrote:
I think ships would require multiple individuals working together though, because while plugging right into the ship would make control easier they're still limited by what an organic brain can do.
I think this really depends on the purpose of the ship. A warship would want a decently large crew, but it's not hard to imagine the possibility of a ship where the majority of functions occurred semi-autonomously, allowing the crew to focus on only a small core of functions: the brain pods are virtually a case of this already.

joestej wrote:
The virtual reality thing was another aspect I thought would be a large part of their society, and would allow for a Forum-esc collectivist government.
The Forum worked for ancient Greece for two reasons:
1) The ancient Greeks were oligarchs: we hear about the oligarchs, but the peasants are rarely mentioned, and were vital to the ability of said oligarchs to participate in the Forum. Politics, at the end of the day, requires time, and farming has historically been subsistence-level: so what do the members of the Forum need others to provide?
2) In order for collective decision making to work, the problems in play need to be things that can be managed in a realistic period of time by the collective: the more contentious, the longer it takes. The larger the active number of debaters, the more time it takes. The less the focus on these public discussions, the longer it takes. The ancient Greeks and Romans compensated in the same way: a bureaucracy to deal with common matters, and what the paranoids in America refer to as "martial law" in case of emergency. Supposing that they're democratic at all, how does this society compensate?

joestej wrote:
We might need to include a clause that VR doesn't feel quite as 'real' as natural interactions though, or this race would have no reason to ever leave their electronic world.
You can always think of other reasons: it could be part of their form of taxation, for example.

joestej wrote:
It also implies a totalitarian government, because there's no reason why the cyberization process couldn't be delayed until the children are old enough to decide if they actually want to go full cyborg.
There may be reasons: maybe their success at adapting to cyborgification falls with maturation, perhaps they actually override and replace a few brain structures to change psychological traits, perhaps it's just so much easier.

joestej wrote:
My original thought for the race's culture/history was that they adopted a pseudo-religious philosophy sometime during their early history that preached self-improvement as a cultural imperative. When they hit their Industrial Revolution the philosophy expanded to include technologist aspects. As they developed cybernetics they followed their philosophy and started 'improving' their bodies more and more until there eventually wasn't anything left. I never nailed down a timeline, but I assumed they'd been fully cybernetic for over a century now.
Mix in a few powerful hard-liners, or just a cultural drift towards philosophical purity, and you have a reason: it's counter-intuitive to them to picture someone not wanting a full-cyborg body.

joestej wrote:
This doesn't necessarily preclude a totalitarian culture or bloody cyber-revolution between Improvers and Luddites if we want that, but it does give us a dodge if we want to skip those. My initial theory for their culture and government was an e-democracy collective rather than a totalitarian regime, with huge forums of virtual individuals discussing issues at length and trying to decide what the best course of action would be.
This is a recipe for futility. If your forum is huge, each issue takes a veritable eternity to discuss. The better choice is small forums, each of which send a representative up the chain until you finally have a single small forum at the top. Large forums are simply too clumsy and immobile to actually get work done.

joestej wrote:
As a secondary question, why would they pick the bodies of OTHER species if they want to get their own organic-ness back? Why not get bodies that mimic their own natural forms? Using bodies that mimic aliens seems more like social experimentation to figure out what life would be like for members of those races than it does a cybernetic identity crisis.
If they've never actually experienced their natural form, then it won't hold much meaning for them. A species that they can actually see doing things is much more real.


Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:05 pm
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Quote:
Races with those other bodies would doubtlessly think the same of their own form. Every body-plan has it's own unique advantages and disadvantages.


Precisely. This race would effectively have the best of all worlds, slipping into whatever body works best for the job they're doing. Heavy combat? Better get a body like a living tank. Scouting? Slender quadruped body, or something with flight capability. I'm quite certain bipedal bodies offer distinct advantages for certain situations(or we wouldn't have them right now), but I suspect wheeled/multilegged forms would be more popular for day-to-day tasks.

Quote:
The Forum worked for ancient Greece for two reasons:
1) The ancient Greeks were oligarchs: we hear about the oligarchs, but the peasants are rarely mentioned, and were vital to the ability of said oligarchs to participate in the Forum. Politics, at the end of the day, requires time, and farming has historically been subsistence-level: so what do the members of the Forum need others to provide?
2) In order for collective decision making to work, the problems in play need to be things that can be managed in a realistic period of time by the collective: the more contentious, the longer it takes. The larger the active number of debaters, the more time it takes. The less the focus on these public discussions, the longer it takes. The ancient Greeks and Romans compensated in the same way: a bureaucracy to deal with common matters, and what the paranoids in America refer to as "martial law" in case of emergency. Supposing that they're democratic at all, how does this society compensate?


The ancient Greeks had several governmental systems depending on the city-state, and a cyber-democracy would have very little to do with any system they ever used.

As for 'needs', our theoretical cyber-collective would need resources and power beyond anything else. You can automate construction, but you still need the resources. Similarly a planet-wide in-depth cyberspace would require electricity to function. Neither of these are huge issues in the Outsider-verse (a 1200kt ship can muster enough electrical power for 30g acceleration while simultaneously firing gigajoule-class weaponry) but would still require some level of work. A nutrient slurry would also be required to sustain their organic bits, though you could probably just use automated protein vats and algae farms for that part.

The advantage of an e-democracy in cyberspace is that communication is much faster than it is in the real world. But presumably any vote would have a time-limit based off importance and urgency. We'd also need a LARGE network of couriers to enable (somewhat) swift communication between planets, since we don't get FTL communicators. I did assume that their culture WOULD be slow to make decisions though, especially major ones. It's an intentional flaw.

Still, no one said we're stuck with a democracy. Anyone got any other government types that would be logical for these cyber-guys?

Quote:
You can always think of other reasons: it could be part of their form of taxation, for example.


True, though this limits their drive for interstellar travel and communication. If you 'tax' what the group would minimally need to continue functioning, there'd likely be a few hours of work and everyone would then hop back to their perfect fantasy worlds for 20 hours. Repeat forever. Why ever leave your home system at all? The resources you'd need to get a setup like this wouldn't be anything like what the Umiak or Loroi are throwing around, after all.

Quote:
There may be reasons: maybe their success at adapting to cyborgification falls with maturation, perhaps they actually override and replace a few brain structures to change psychological traits, perhaps it's just so much easier.


I do like the first option, though I'm not sure it's logical. Cybernetics follows from prosthetics, which are almost universally for adults. Cybernetics should be HARDER to set up for children, because their brains are still growing.

Replacing certain brain-bits with cybernetics was an option I considered, though I'm not sure what it's got to do with why you have to convert them as infants.

I can't see ease of conversion being a factor when placed against patient consent. Though if they've got a culture that places more importance on the perceived good of a treatment than on whether that patient wants the treatment it would work...

Quote:
Mix in a few powerful hard-liners, or just a cultural drift towards philosophical purity, and you have a reason: it's counter-intuitive to them to picture someone not wanting a full-cyborg body.


This was what I was originally going for, but it stops holding up the moment one of them speaks up and say "Hey, I kinda wish I was still organic!". Then the debates about morality kick in, etc. If we assume the 'wanna-be organics' are some kind of oppressed counterculture and considered mildly insane by the rest, it fits perfectly.

Quote:
This is a recipe for futility. If your forum is huge, each issue takes a veritable eternity to discuss. The better choice is small forums, each of which send a representative up the chain until you finally have a single small forum at the top. Large forums are simply too clumsy and immobile to actually get work done.


Automation, cyber-reality, and parsing programs would reduce this chunkiness by an extreme factor. Their 'representatives' would be legions of expert systems that do nothing but listen to discussions 24/7 and correlate the data to figure out what everyone seems to want. Still, see my above comments regarding the viability of their e-democracy. Cumbersome, fickle, and slow was part of the point. They're not supposed to be perfect.

Quote:
If they've never actually experienced their natural form, then it won't hold much meaning for them. A species that they can actually see doing things is much more real.


This is true, but it's not the substance of the original point. Sweforce suggested that this group would prefer they had stayed organic rather than becoming cybernetic. Using models based off their old forms is as close as they can get to know what things would have been like if they hadn't been converted. And all this hinges on cyberspace not 'feeling real' anyway, because otherwise cyber-conversion won't matter anyway. In cyberspace they can feel whatever bodies they want. Now, wanting to slap some electrodes into an alien brain to get data on what those aliens are feeling when performing certain actions so they can later emulate it in cyberspace? I can see that.



Hmm... Interesting possibility actually. Maybe cyberspace DOES feel real, but those in power (or the great cyber-collective) fear it will eventually become stale. So they're exploring and expanding not because they need the space or resources, but so they can get more experiences to send back data about. Building an 'expansion pack' for their hedonistic virtual world. This means that we'd need to put in a rule about cyberspace only being able to accurately recreate sensations it has the neurological data for, but that's not so illogical. It would also make for a VERY weird alien race, which is loads of fun!

If we want to go with that, I think we'd have to scrap the e-democracy thing. The masses would likely be too involved in their own VR utopias to be bothered with nonsense like 'voting'. It is the ultimate 'bread and circuses' scheme, I will admit. As Absalom suggested, using labor as a form of paying for your VR fantasy would keep their industry and other activities from suffering too badly either. You'd just need a ruling class that doesn't plug into VR (or stays out for a designated period) so they could make the decisions that actually matter.

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Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:37 pm
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
joestej wrote:
Quote:
Races with those other bodies would doubtlessly think the same of their own form. Every body-plan has it's own unique advantages and disadvantages.


Precisely. This race would effectively have the best of all worlds, slipping into whatever body works best for the job they're doing. Heavy combat? Better get a body like a living tank. Scouting? Slender quadruped body, or something with flight capability.
Naw, that's drone work. Not being able to use wireless just changes the details.

joestej wrote:
I'm quite certain bipedal bodies offer distinct advantages for certain situations(or we wouldn't have them right now), but I suspect wheeled/multilegged forms would be more popular for day-to-day tasks.
I suspect that popularity would mostly depend on the individual. "Deer", "caterpillars", "spiders", bipeds, and various wheeled configurations would likely all be fairly common if the situation was permissive of choice.

joestej wrote:
As for 'needs', our theoretical cyber-collective would need resources and power beyond anything else. You can automate construction, but you still need the resources. Similarly a planet-wide in-depth cyberspace would require electricity to function. Neither of these are huge issues in the Outsider-verse (a 1200kt ship can muster enough electrical power for 30g acceleration while simultaneously firing gigajoule-class weaponry) but would still require some level of work. A nutrient slurry would also be required to sustain their organic bits, though you could probably just use automated protein vats and algae farms for that part.
The most important bit, however, is probably maintenance and (possibly) expansion. This applies to cyber-space too, especially the expansion bit.

joestej wrote:
The advantage of an e-democracy in cyberspace is that communication is much faster than it is in the real world. But presumably any vote would have a time-limit based off importance and urgency.
I don't think that speed of communications has that much to do with speed of government. The big issue is that you need to get a bunch of people with dissimilar, or even opposing, views to agree to the same thing. This is illustrated quite well within the microcosm of the US Republican party's current House majority: the reason why Congress is so unproductive right now is that there's a group of purists that refuse to let anything that fails their ideological purity test pass. Normal situations are less extreme, but when your entire population is part of the primary governing body you become much more vulnerable. Besides, governance is a specialty field, making lots of decisions that almost noone, even those choosing, cares about the details of, so representative democracy makes more sense.

joestej wrote:
We'd also need a LARGE network of couriers to enable (somewhat) swift communication between planets, since we don't get FTL communicators. I did assume that their culture WOULD be slow to make decisions though, especially major ones. It's an intentional flaw.
It's also another good reason to have a tiered system. Frankly, a single-body congress just doesn't make much sense beyond some particular magnitude of signal delay.

joestej wrote:
Still, no one said we're stuck with a democracy. Anyone got any other government types that would be logical for these cyber-guys?
A monastic order, perhaps? Maybe some form of ultra-communism or ultra-fascism?

joestej wrote:
Quote:
You can always think of other reasons: it could be part of their form of taxation, for example.


True, though this limits their drive for interstellar travel and communication. If you 'tax' what the group would minimally need to continue functioning, there'd likely be a few hours of work and everyone would then hop back to their perfect fantasy worlds for 20 hours. Repeat forever. Why ever leave your home system at all? The resources you'd need to get a setup like this wouldn't be anything like what the Umiak or Loroi are throwing around, after all.
Most of the "tax" would presumably be in the form of training. Assuming that the government is the primary instigator of reproduction, then they have probably engineered a "useful mixture" of home-bodies and explorers.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
There may be reasons: maybe their success at adapting to cyborgification falls with maturation, perhaps they actually override and replace a few brain structures to change psychological traits, perhaps it's just so much easier.


I do like the first option, though I'm not sure it's logical. Cybernetics follows from prosthetics, which are almost universally for adults. Cybernetics should be HARDER to set up for children, because their brains are still growing.
Cybernetics should be EASIER to set up for children, because their brains are still growing. When installing cybernetics, the most important part of the wiring must be done by the neurons, which makes neuro-plasticity highly valuable. Failure to take advantage of this would necessitate either the majority of the population becoming neuro-surgeons, or the process essentially being 100% automated.

joestej wrote:
Replacing certain brain-bits with cybernetics was an option I considered, though I'm not sure what it's got to do with why you have to convert them as infants.
So that the individual that develops, does so with the modified structure as part of their personality. Perhaps they're highly aggressive otherwise. Perhaps the place best suited to the implants becomes surrounded by neural matter as the develop, and the implants must therefor be made as early as possible. Perhaps the implants are literal alternatives to the natural structures, which are too focused on the biological form to be useful in a cybernetic form.

joestej wrote:
I can't see ease of conversion being a factor when placed against patient consent. Though if they've got a culture that places more importance on the perceived good of a treatment than on whether that patient wants the treatment it would work...
They could be the victors of a civil war, with the other side being focused on biological "cyborgs" (this was one of my original thoughts on "why at childhood", and the prompting for the replacement-structure bit above). Or they could be the survivors, and the whole point of the cybernetics is that it allows them to continue surviving.

Perhaps the virtual world is even more about therapy, then being a point all to itself.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Mix in a few powerful hard-liners, or just a cultural drift towards philosophical purity, and you have a reason: it's counter-intuitive to them to picture someone not wanting a full-cyborg body.


This was what I was originally going for, but it stops holding up the moment one of them speaks up and say "Hey, I kinda wish I was still organic!". Then the debates about morality kick in, etc. If we assume the 'wanna-be organics' are some kind of oppressed counterculture and considered mildly insane by the rest, it fits perfectly.
And once again, civil war and replacement brain structures. If their natural form is itself considered to be the source of problems (remember, these are aliens, they can be right) then...

joestej wrote:
Quote:
This is a recipe for futility. If your forum is huge, each issue takes a veritable eternity to discuss. The better choice is small forums, each of which send a representative up the chain until you finally have a single small forum at the top. Large forums are simply too clumsy and immobile to actually get work done.


Automation, cyber-reality, and parsing programs would reduce this chunkiness by an extreme factor.
Uh, no. You need full-blown AI for that. Automation can reduce the things that need to be done "by hand", cyber-reality can make it faster to reach the "chamber of the people", and parsing programs can help with language translation, but the slow bit is, in fact, the process of making decisions. If you can properly automate that, then you already have full AI.

joestej wrote:
Their 'representatives' would be legions of expert systems that do nothing but listen to discussions 24/7 and correlate the data to figure out what everyone seems to want. Still, see my above comments regarding the viability of their e-democracy. Cumbersome, fickle, and slow was part of the point. They're not supposed to be perfect.
I don't question if it's perfect, I question if it's workable.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
If they've never actually experienced their natural form, then it won't hold much meaning for them. A species that they can actually see doing things is much more real.


This is true, but it's not the substance of the original point. Sweforce suggested that this group would prefer they had stayed organic rather than becoming cybernetic. Using models based off their old forms is as close as they can get to know what things would have been like if they hadn't been converted. And all this hinges on cyberspace not 'feeling real' anyway, because otherwise cyber-conversion won't matter anyway. In cyberspace they can feel whatever bodies they want. Now, wanting to slap some electrodes into an alien brain to get data on what those aliens are feeling when performing certain actions so they can later emulate it in cyberspace? I can see that.
That's not really how brains work. Sensations mostly arise from interpretation of incoming data, it isn't some sort of program data. They might feel "touch" arising in response to a different location than normal, but if they're going to be swapping bodies productively, then probably they all start out with a mandatory "interaction apparatus" integrated into their implants, and everything gets experienced in the context of the interactions it provides. Otherwise variety is likely to prove impossible (and variety is the whole point).

joestej wrote:
Hmm... Interesting possibility actually. Maybe cyberspace DOES feel real, but those in power (or the great cyber-collective) fear it will eventually become stale. So they're exploring and expanding not because they need the space or resources, but so they can get more experiences to send back data about. Building an 'expansion pack' for their hedonistic virtual world. This means that we'd need to put in a rule about cyberspace only being able to accurately recreate sensations it has the neurological data for, but that's not so illogical. It would also make for a VERY weird alien race, which is loads of fun!
Or they're worried about no-one going outside to maintain the machines, so they cultivate a cultural interest in expansion. Or it's their religion, and they want to spread it's light to the universe. Or they have a big long-term plan (escaping the danger of extinction by moving to an artificial universe), and are actively working on the foundations of the project.

joestej wrote:
If we want to go with that, I think we'd have to scrap the e-democracy thing. The masses would likely be too involved in their own VR utopias to be bothered with nonsense like 'voting'. It is the ultimate 'bread and circuses' scheme, I will admit.
Oh, you don't have to scrap it. Active participants are more trouble than passive citizens, because they make it harder to make decisions! The problem with VR is getting anyone to go outside to throw away the trash, that is where VR utopias cause problems.

joestej wrote:
As Absalom suggested, using labor as a form of paying for your VR fantasy would keep their industry and other activities from suffering too badly either. You'd just need a ruling class that doesn't plug into VR (or stays out for a designated period) so they could make the decisions that actually matter.
Deciding the ruling class is easy: participation in the "executive committees" is guaranteed to any citizen... that is actually on-site with their pod, with seniority of experience counting in some way for extra votes. This is roughly how "self-managed" businesses work: you manage yourself, and thus is success made a goal. You'd need occasional exceptions for cases where a central leader is needed, but voting for a "war chief" is no big deal (the Romans not only did it, they had multiple variations on the theme).


Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:23 pm
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Quote:
The most important bit, however, is probably maintenance and (possibly) expansion. This applies to cyber-space too, especially the expansion bit.


Correct, but that's heavily dependent on how well-automated they are. Lots of automation means there's less and less the actual people need to do.

Quote:
I don't think that speed of communications has that much to do with speed of government. The big issue is that you need to get a bunch of people with dissimilar, or even opposing, views to agree to the same thing. This is illustrated quite well within the microcosm of the US Republican party's current House majority: the reason why Congress is so unproductive right now is that there's a group of purists that refuse to let anything that fails their ideological purity test pass. Normal situations are less extreme, but when your entire population is part of the primary governing body you become much more vulnerable. Besides, governance is a specialty field, making lots of decisions that almost noone, even those choosing, cares about the details of, so representative democracy makes more sense.


I think you might be misunderstanding how it would work. Likely the 'voting' process would start with an issue submitted to the collective for a vote. They discuss for a given period of time, then everyone votes. If you don't care about the issue, then you don't vote on it.

The problem with representative democracy is that it's not a good way to get what the actual people want. They just have to pick from the representatives that vaguely correspond with what they believe. A direct voting system allows a more honest way to collect public opinion. Right now we don't have the technology to pull it off, but in the future that may not be the case

To use a modern example from recent United States history, in 2012 53% of Americans supported the right for same-sex marriages to be legally binding, while 46% did not. In the theoretical e-democracy, that would carry the motion and gay marriage would be legal. In the real world, gay marriage didn't become legal in the US until 2015, three years after the majority of the population supported it.

Quote:
A monastic order, perhaps? Maybe some form of ultra-communism or ultra-fascism?


I think the monastic order might be the most interesting. Spiritual enlightenment through physical improvement. Ultra-communism would work well too, though for ultra-fascism we'd likely want to go for control chips and dump the cyberspace aspect.

Quote:
Most of the "tax" would presumably be in the form of training. Assuming that the government is the primary instigator of reproduction, then they have probably engineered a "useful mixture" of home-bodies and explorers.


Training can be done virtually, and with electronic simulations you don't need instructors. I agree with the second part of that though.

Quote:
Cybernetics should be EASIER to set up for children, because their brains are still growing. When installing cybernetics, the most important part of the wiring must be done by the neurons, which makes neuro-plasticity highly valuable. Failure to take advantage of this would necessitate either the majority of the population becoming neuro-surgeons, or the process essentially being 100% automated.


I was thinking more along the lines of needing to take out the brains and put them in new cases every year or two. But yes, I see no reason why the process wouldn't be almost 100% automated. If it wasn't automated...

Assuming the cyber-surgery takes 3 hours and they need 12 hours off, a neurosurgeon could do 4 conversions per day. According to this, in 2013 there was one practicing neurosurgeon for every 65,580 individuals in the US. Up that to a world population of 7 billion, that's 106740 neurosurgeons. The current birth rate as of 2014 is 371520 births per day. Our cyborgs wouldn't even need to increase their ration of neurosurgeons to general population to support full cyberconversion.

And yes, I know that surgeon ratio definitely doesn't hold for the rest of the world but we're assuming a futuristic alien society. In order to support 100% cyborg populations, they'd have had to solve the income, educational, and technological inequalities that create today's 'Third World' nations.

Quote:
So that the individual that develops, does so with the modified structure as part of their personality. Perhaps they're highly aggressive otherwise. Perhaps the place best suited to the implants becomes surrounded by neural matter as the develop, and the implants must therefor be made as early as possible. Perhaps the implants are literal alternatives to the natural structures, which are too focused on the biological form to be useful in a cybernetic form.


I have no problems with this logic, though we now have to discuss if we want cyborg personality chips (so to speak), and what kind of control the average person really has in this culture.

Quote:
They could be the victors of a civil war, with the other side being focused on biological "cyborgs" (this was one of my original thoughts on "why at childhood", and the prompting for the replacement-structure bit above). Or they could be the survivors, and the whole point of the cybernetics is that it allows them to continue surviving.

Perhaps the virtual world is even more about therapy, then being a point all to itself.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Mix in a few powerful hard-liners, or just a cultural drift towards philosophical purity, and you have a reason: it's counter-intuitive to them to picture someone not wanting a full-cyborg body.


This was what I was originally going for, but it stops holding up the moment one of them speaks up and say "Hey, I kinda wish I was still organic!". Then the debates about morality kick in, etc. If we assume the 'wanna-be organics' are some kind of oppressed counterculture and considered mildly insane by the rest, it fits perfectly.
And once again, civil war and replacement brain structures. If their natural form is itself considered to be the source of problems (remember, these are aliens, they can be right) then...


Civil war assumes that rebellion is possible, which it wouldn't be with control chips. Though if we assume they HAD a civil war at one point and this is what's left, then the chips make much more sense (if we do want them). Assuming they've nuked their homeworld to radioactive ash some time ago, full-body cyborgs in cyberpunk hive-cities works great, as organics would never survive their homeworld anyway.

The 'VR as therapy' angle likely won't fly though, because if you CAN use it for therapy, why not use it for everything else, especially if the 'real world' is a Fallout-esc cinder?

Quote:
Uh, no. You need full-blown AI for that. Automation can reduce the things that need to be done "by hand", cyber-reality can make it faster to reach the "chamber of the people", and parsing programs can help with language translation, but the slow bit is, in fact, the process of making decisions. If you can properly automate that, then you already have full AI.


Depends on how you define 'AI', but you are correct. A simple dialog box saying: "Vote on this issue: []Yes []No []Abstain" would be sufficient, they wouldn't need to sift discussions to collect opinions. Don't know where I was going with that.

Quote:
That's not really how brains work. Sensations mostly arise from interpretation of incoming data, it isn't some sort of program data. They might feel "touch" arising in response to a different location than normal, but if they're going to be swapping bodies productively, then probably they all start out with a mandatory "interaction apparatus" integrated into their implants, and everything gets experienced in the context of the interactions it provides. Otherwise variety is likely to prove impossible (and variety is the whole point).


I'm not remotely qualified to say how one would go about directly stimulating the nerves in someone's brain to create a VR environment that 'feels' like real life, especially for sensations that your brain isn't equipped to emulate. I'm not sure anyone really is. The best we've got right now is a prosthetic DARPA created that creates a 'near-real' sensation when you touch stuff. Not exactly the same thing.

But to keep to the topic on hand, the original point was if individuals who wanted to be organic would create bodies similar to an Umiak or a Loroi to try and live vicariously through their forms. I doubt they would, because they could either use bodies modeled off their own natural forms, or use VR to do it. An alien-shaped cyborg body is you becoming organic again, it's you becoming vaguely like that specific alien race.

Quote:
Or they're worried about no-one going outside to maintain the machines, so they cultivate a cultural interest in expansion. Or it's their religion, and they want to spread it's light to the universe. Or they have a big long-term plan (escaping the danger of extinction by moving to an artificial universe), and are actively working on the foundations of the project.


How would you cultivate that kind of culture? In a world with seamless VR, you can expand all you want in your virtual space, without difficulty or threat. My original assumption was that they'd be expanding to safe-guard their borders and get more technology to become fully digital. But if they've got realistic VR they wouldn't need that last step, or even to safeguard themselves. Build a massive deep-space colony or SLT generation ship and just stay silent and cold in deep space. Automation and efficient reactors could take care of almost any problems they'd encounter for a very long time.

Quote:
Oh, you don't have to scrap it. Active participants are more trouble than passive citizens, because they make it harder to make decisions! The problem with VR is getting anyone to go outside to throw away the trash, that is where VR utopias cause problems.


Hence the point of scrapping it. The democracy wouldn't be a democracy if no one participated. And cybernetic brain-shells means never having to take out the trash to get up to pee during a raid!

Quote:
Deciding the ruling class is easy: participation in the "executive committees" is guaranteed to any citizen... that is actually on-site with their pod, with seniority of experience counting in some way for extra votes. This is roughly how "self-managed" businesses work: you manage yourself, and thus is success made a goal. You'd need occasional exceptions for cases where a central leader is needed, but voting for a "war chief" is no big deal (the Romans not only did it, they had multiple variations on the theme).


I'm somewhat dubious how well that would work, since there were far more Calligulas than their were Cincinnatus in Rome. Once they have the power, what would keep the war chief from just annihilating the executive committee and making himself or herself permanent ruler?

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Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:23 am
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
joestej wrote:
Quote:
I don't think that speed of communications has that much to do with speed of government. The big issue is that you need to get a bunch of people with dissimilar, or even opposing, views to agree to the same thing. This is illustrated quite well within the microcosm of the US Republican party's current House majority: the reason why Congress is so unproductive right now is that there's a group of purists that refuse to let anything that fails their ideological purity test pass. Normal situations are less extreme, but when your entire population is part of the primary governing body you become much more vulnerable. Besides, governance is a specialty field, making lots of decisions that almost noone, even those choosing, cares about the details of, so representative democracy makes more sense.


I think you might be misunderstanding how it would work. Likely the 'voting' process would start with an issue submitted to the collective for a vote. They discuss for a given period of time, then everyone votes. If you don't care about the issue, then you don't vote on it.
And the portion of the process that you refer to here is not actually the most important part of it. The writing, negotiation, and submission of issues is the most important part of the process, voting is just the choice between installing the batteries, or taking it back to the store.

joestej wrote:
The problem with representative democracy is that it's not a good way to get what the actual people want. They just have to pick from the representatives that vaguely correspond with what they believe. A direct voting system allows a more honest way to collect public opinion. Right now we don't have the technology to pull it off, but in the future that may not be the case
Direct voting can be implemented via representative democracy: in Oklahoma (where I live), taxes can only be raised with a direct vote of the people. Who would theoretically write the bill that needs voter approval? The Legislature! Similarly, in California there's a fairly large number of bills that have been brought into play by votes of the people, and which I believe were originated outside of the Legislature.

At any rate, a "good" government doesn't focus on what people want, but on what they need. If this government focuses on what it's people want, then the scenario of never leaving their home system does indeed become the likely case (unless they're in some way inherently insane).

joestej wrote:
Quote:
A monastic order, perhaps? Maybe some form of ultra-communism or ultra-fascism?


I think the monastic order might be the most interesting. Spiritual enlightenment through physical improvement. Ultra-communism would work well too, though for ultra-fascism we'd likely want to go for control chips and dump the cyberspace aspect.
Fascism is the "conservative" equivalent of "liberalism's" communism (specifically, it's an economic and cultural system where each individual and organization is meant to be a cog within the whole, the government being distinguished specifically by being at the top): both of them popped up at the same time because they're a contrasting pair of views on community organization. Fascism works just as well without control chips as communism does.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Cybernetics should be EASIER to set up for children, because their brains are still growing. When installing cybernetics, the most important part of the wiring must be done by the neurons, which makes neuro-plasticity highly valuable. Failure to take advantage of this would necessitate either the majority of the population becoming neuro-surgeons, or the process essentially being 100% automated.


I was thinking more along the lines of needing to take out the brains and put them in new cases every year or two. But yes, I see no reason why the process wouldn't be almost 100% automated. If it wasn't automated...

Assuming the cyber-surgery takes 3 hours and they need 12 hours off, a neurosurgeon could do 4 conversions per day. According to this, in 2013 there was one practicing neurosurgeon for every 65,580 individuals in the US. Up that to a world population of 7 billion, that's 106740 neurosurgeons. The current birth rate as of 2014 is 371520 births per day. Our cyborgs wouldn't even need to increase their ration of neurosurgeons to general population to support full cyberconversion.

And yes, I know that surgeon ratio definitely doesn't hold for the rest of the world but we're assuming a futuristic alien society. In order to support 100% cyborg populations, they'd have had to solve the income, educational, and technological inequalities that create today's 'Third World' nations.
They don't necessarily have to solve the inequalities, but as so-far discussed (the government being the "parent" of most births, and most life being VR) it's somewhat likely that such a thing will have happened despite the lack of such need.

More importantly, if you make use of neuro-plasticity then your neurosurgeon's procedures could perhaps take a few minutes per day over an extended period, while any technique that isn't so based will likely take days even if fully automated, as the autonomic surgeon-in-a-box finds itself forced to rewire millions of neural connections to an implant that has the corresponding connections in inconvenient places (why inconvenient? because each brain has it's neurons running along different paths). You'll also likely need occasional readjustment, while a neuro-plasticity based system is likely a facilitate natural biological rewiring as a side-effect of it's design.

Neuro-plasticity is the way to go on this, cybernetics have very little to do with almost all prostheses.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
So that the individual that develops, does so with the modified structure as part of their personality. Perhaps they're highly aggressive otherwise. Perhaps the place best suited to the implants becomes surrounded by neural matter as the develop, and the implants must therefor be made as early as possible. Perhaps the implants are literal alternatives to the natural structures, which are too focused on the biological form to be useful in a cybernetic form.


I have no problems with this logic, though we now have to discuss if we want cyborg personality chips (so to speak), and what kind of control the average person really has in this culture.
Rather than personality chips, you'd see things like "rage chips" or such. With the way that brains work, if you can impose a personality on another, then you can create personalities, which means that you have some implementation of full AI. For any civilization that isn't on the cusp of upload/download of personalities, brain chips will be a form of drug, medicinal or otherwise.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
They could be the victors of a civil war, with the other side being focused on biological "cyborgs" (this was one of my original thoughts on "why at childhood", and the prompting for the replacement-structure bit above). Or they could be the survivors, and the whole point of the cybernetics is that it allows them to continue surviving.

Perhaps the virtual world is even more about therapy, then being a point all to itself.

joestej wrote:
This was what I was originally going for, but it stops holding up the moment one of them speaks up and say "Hey, I kinda wish I was still organic!". Then the debates about morality kick in, etc. If we assume the 'wanna-be organics' are some kind of oppressed counterculture and considered mildly insane by the rest, it fits perfectly.
And once again, civil war and replacement brain structures. If their natural form is itself considered to be the source of problems (remember, these are aliens, they can be right) then...


Civil war assumes that rebellion is possible, which it wouldn't be with control chips.
You have to know who to target if you want to tazer someone's brain, and even then you need access.

At any rate, I thought it was abundantly clear that this theoretical civil way was set before the present, and was an impetuous for the all-cyborg push.

joestej wrote:
Though if we assume they HAD a civil war at one point and this is what's left, then the chips make much more sense (if we do want them). Assuming they've nuked their homeworld to radioactive ash some time ago, full-body cyborgs in cyberpunk hive-cities works great, as organics would never survive their homeworld anyway.
Doesn't have to be nukes either, could be super-biologicals created as living tanks or something. If your society is the corpse of a previous one, then what was a minor threat for your precursors can become a major threat for you (imagine a highly territorial reptiloid, crocidilian style with a size-dependant number of extra leg pairs, fueled by multiple biological fusion reactors, and boasting natural plasma cannons: and they reproduce. You wouldn't want to go to the local park either).

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Uh, no. You need full-blown AI for that. Automation can reduce the things that need to be done "by hand", cyber-reality can make it faster to reach the "chamber of the people", and parsing programs can help with language translation, but the slow bit is, in fact, the process of making decisions. If you can properly automate that, then you already have full AI.


Depends on how you define 'AI', but you are correct. A simple dialog box saying: "Vote on this issue: []Yes []No []Abstain" would be sufficient, they wouldn't need to sift discussions to collect opinions. Don't know where I was going with that.
You were going in a direction that would make direct democracy much more practical, but also requires a higher level of technology.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Or they're worried about no-one going outside to maintain the machines, so they cultivate a cultural interest in expansion. Or it's their religion, and they want to spread it's light to the universe. Or they have a big long-term plan (escaping the danger of extinction by moving to an artificial universe), and are actively working on the foundations of the project.


How would you cultivate that kind of culture?
Uh, in the child-care structure that you've set up for your newest cyborgs? That's kinda how culture gets passed along.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Oh, you don't have to scrap it. Active participants are more trouble than passive citizens, because they make it harder to make decisions! The problem with VR is getting anyone to go outside to throw away the trash, that is where VR utopias cause problems.


Hence the point of scrapping it. The democracy wouldn't be a democracy if no one participated.
You missed the point. The point was that the difficult part of legislating is that the more people are involved, the harder it is to get a decision. Thus, you want a small number of active participants. Those people that just vote "yes"/"no"/"abstain", and maybe listen to the debates? Those aren't active participants, they're passive. The active participants are the ones actually proposing legislation, and participating in the debates.

joestej wrote:
Quote:
Deciding the ruling class is easy: participation in the "executive committees" is guaranteed to any citizen... that is actually on-site with their pod, with seniority of experience counting in some way for extra votes. This is roughly how "self-managed" businesses work: you manage yourself, and thus is success made a goal. You'd need occasional exceptions for cases where a central leader is needed, but voting for a "war chief" is no big deal (the Romans not only did it, they had multiple variations on the theme).


I'm somewhat dubious how well that would work, since there were far more Calligulas than their were Cincinnatus in Rome. Once they have the power, what would keep the war chief from just annihilating the executive committee and making himself or herself permanent ruler?
The american tribes that had war chiefs didn't suspend all other laws during their wars, they just gave a leader authority to go to war. Just because you vote someone into a position of power doesn't mean that you leave them unchecked: your commodores and admirals would likely under the oversight of a "war council", which would probably be akin to a Praetorian Guard + Lictor + Congressional Military. They wouldn't have the authority to conduct military operations, but they would have the authority to depose the military commander they were assigned to, and assign a replacement. They would also likely be the strongest military force within a detachment, and (in the case of naval and space matters) the military commander would be on one of their ships. Most of the Roman dictators & such only had authority within a certain context, though that could be quite impressive in it's own way, such as Pompey's campaign against piracy.


Thu Oct 15, 2015 6:36 pm
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Absalom wrote:
...a lot of stuff.


While I find your analysis to be quite interesting and I do have some stuff to say about all of it, I'm afraid I'm going to officially call this project dead.

I left it alone for a week to see if anyone else would be interested in weighing in on the subject. Since no one has, it's safe to say Absalom and I are really the only ones still here. While opinions may differ, I personally feel a race design discussion with only two participates would become stale rather rapidly.

It was a fun attempt and I thank both Absalom and Sweforce for playing along, but it's safe to say the interest just isn't there. Ah well. Off to other projects!


Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:15 am
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Post Re: Outsider Original Race Project
Just a thought. Maybe this is what became of the Soia's. Maybe they created all these species to work as replacement bodies but then they decided to try artificial bodies instead. Except for some criminal subfaction into bodysnatching.


Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:20 am
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