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The power is yours!

Post by Majestic_12 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:55 am

Yes, I am twisting Captain Planet's words into a different meaning.

[tl:dr section on]
(this section could be long and/or boring, and may not be "must read" material)

I've been watching "Stealth" the 2005 movie (with Jamie Foxx) and nerving (that's my own invented portmanteau of "nerd" and "perving", lol) over the concept of humans being replaced by faster-thinking robots pilots with no blood in their veins that can cause in-flight blackouts. Then I went back and looked at The Matrix, and then some of the new Battlestar Galactica, and then Macross Plus, and re-played a little Mass Effect, too. In all, what I learned from all of this - that using robots to do your work for you, can lead to them overrunning you - has confirmed the concepts that I've been playing with in "Siluvara Files":

If you want something that can do the job better than a human being, you have to evolve a higher class of human being. That way, if your super human turns on you, s/he might conquer you but at least you have SOMETHING in common with that person. Some, or many may survive their wrath. This is not true with machines. Machines have nothing in common with you. They're silicon based life; you're carbon based. Your chances of extinction are far higher with a race of mobile and sentient robots than with someone like, oh say, X-Men's Magneto. Yeah, I saw X-Men the Movie and yeah he did try to wipe out all the non-mutants; but if he had succeeded there would still be mutants. Humans, albeit evolved. Not saying that the deaths of the other 6 billion humans would be anything but tragic to the 12th power squared, but the Cylons tried to reduce the human race to ZERO, and if the sun was shining on Earth, so would the machines of Zero-One (the Matrix). Still, the risk of seeing the nation of Pakistan reduced to the world's largest glass plate by an angry Crusader-minded psychic is tragic - just not as tragic as a bunch of cold, unfeeling machines doing this to the entire planet.

For the most part, though, super humans would just want to conquer and rule. Which would no doubt accelerate the propagation of their kind until humanity simply evolves to their level. Still tragic, but throughout history humans have had a sad tradition of the strong conquering the weak. Of course now the presence of bio weapons could pretty much even things out... although still quite tragically.

In any case... the risk with breeding super humans is far less than building machines to do "super tasks."
[tl:dr section off]

So, imagine the movie "Stealth" reimagined. This time, instead of the "Tin Man" UCAV, you have a superhuman, namely a powerful psychic warrior or a battlemage. This superhuman steps out onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and while the other fictional FA-37 super fighter jets take off, the superhuman launches into a vertical climb that creates a sonic boom on the deck. After absolutely wiping the floor with the terrorists in his/her first mission and making a total monkey out of the FA-37's, we get to the meat of the story: which will the Navy and Air Force go with... a new generation of fighter jets, or this superhuman?

Even on Earth the answer is obvious - your super human warrior presents a far lower logistical problem. It might not take as much to fuel this person up (a larger than normal dinner, perhaps?) and send them out to take down a threat. Locate Osama Bin Laden. Scan his mind for information about his lieutenants and their supply lines. Find out where they're moving all their money. Wipe it all out in one fell swoop. Mission accomplished!

Assessing the Threat, Or: What is the Superhuman's Workload?

But the uses for a superhuman are far greater than this. Imagine a much bigger battlezone - such as, several thousand worlds across the galaxy filled with predators 80, 120 and 300 feet in size (the latter being winged nagas), mixed with bugs, plants and all manner of creatures capable of eating humans alive, all in heavily forested zones where you can't easily place monster tanks that can go toe to toe with these things. Worlds where keeping giant naga-busting mechas running is maddeningly difficult because your supply lines are light years long and nagas keep coming and tail-whacking your supply bases, or tech-savvy fairies tap into your video monitoring system from afar, using the video link to teleport themselves onto your base, where they then blow shit up and gulp down some military personnel. Oh and I forgot - while digesting their human meals they acquire the memories and knowledge from their victims. So now these fairies know what you're up to. Oh, my. In minutes after the first fairy arrives they could know where your base commander is, or even your General, and eat him. Imagine the knowledge they'd get from that meal! [ Yoda] Screwed, your forces very much would be! [/ Yoda]

(Yes, I have a lot of ass whuppings in store for the human military, plus some eating contests that will result.)

The problem with dealing with preds in my story, especially fairies, is there are no truly specialized groups. There is no race of fairy that has a lock on mastering teleportation or the elements. You have some whose reflexes are ten times faster than others who are ten times stronger, but they can learn to match the other's advantages. Rikati fairies, known for their incredible strength and magic reserves, can acquire the impossibly fast reflexes of a Droathas, and the Droathas can train up so they have deeper magic reserves and can arm wrestle a Rikati. It's all about training. Manipulating the elements is another trainable skill. Precision teleporting, yet another learnable skill. You can bet your ass on a human-sized Droathas being frighteningly fast but not strong enough to throw a motorcycle - but ever so often you'll lose your ass on that bet when one hefts a whole SUV and swats you with it. Ouch. The nagas (Kadruata) are just as versatile, too, although for their great size and obvious might, they can't beat fairy magic. Their reserves aren't as deep, which means their "batteries" don't hold as much charge. Still, they fly. Their giant bat wings let them coil their bodies up and glide back down (which conserves magic). You can expect to be plucked from the sky by a flying naga. Or to have them attack you in outer space since they don't need to breathe and explosive decompression doesn't work on them. Though they need fairies to teleport them into space, re-entry does not kill a Kadruata. Yeah, screwed your forces would be if encounter these fsckers they did!

On the ground, you can be swallowed by naturally nitrogen/phosphorous-hungry Fosuyar plants (those of you who know French probably recognize this word). Or even fruit-bearing plants may kill you and pull you underground to nourish itself with your decomposing corpse. Pitcher plants can swallow you from above or below, and have powerful acid to burn you to death right off (to prevent struggle) and enzymes to finish the job; what little remains of the skeleton, if anything, will just get spit out. Caterpillars the size of trains can grab you. From underground.

Then there are Dryads who'll eat lifeforce-rich humans to replenish their magic or accelerate their growth. They'll spawn Spriggan avatars that will help smash things like giant robots (and 2-3 can destroy one Earth mecha in a close quarters fight). You'll never know which tree is out to eat you. That makes the ENTIRE forest dangerous 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, if you're on a planet with a lot of Dryads.

Oh! Did you just step in some clear jelly on the ground? Oh, dear. You've probably just stepped into some giant ant people vomit. That's food for the little ants the size of your hand. And that jelly is probably all that's left of your troops who got eaten the day before. The little ants will knock you down to get at the jelly. The big ants will gulp you down before you can get back up.

There are also giant leeches that'll swallow you whole and skewer you with a thousand needles in its belly, sucking your blood out and then leaving your blood-less corpse behind to decompose.

Now mind you, all these threats and more, aren't all necessarily on every planet - some worlds are tamer than others - but you can see where the idea of putting boots on the ground is just plain stupid. Even an assault by air is going to be tough with only fairies and nagas to harass you. Missiles? Yeah, they work, but this ain't that other universe - the fairies and Kadruata here are quite revenge-minded and they will keep coming, just to kick your ass in response to kicking theirs. They're sentient, cultural and proud. Much like us. They want to eat you and if you fight back they will want to put you back in what they feel is your place: beneath (or inside) them in the food chain.

And they're bigger than you.

How Do We Fight These Horrors?
Solution #1 to this is to drop 100,000 UCAV robot fighter jets into the mix and bomb the fuck out of them. But two problems exist with this: one, keeping them supplied with weapons and ammo is a bi-otch. Getting them through planetary re-entry, through their combat mission, and back off-world is going to cost boucous resources. And secondly, if you encounter the Grue Combine, you are dealing with a straight up military force of predators who are very strategic-minded and tech savvy - they can possibly shoot down your UCAVs with frightening efficiency, or worse - capture and reprogram your UCAVs to work against you. Their mages, like the Siluvarans, are trained to magically reprogram computer code. It may not be efficient, but when it's shooting blindly at you and not them, you are wasting resources, not them. Worst. Case. Scenario. EVER. Oh, and the Grue Combine has done this a lot. They've been fighting wars across the galaxy since before humans ever even existed. They have conquered, enslaved, farmed, overconsumed and inadvertently exterminated more starfaring species than humans can ever hope to count or even find evidence of. In fact, there are only two races left in the path of the Grue Combine: Earth, and the Bollars. And frankly, there's enough genetic evidence to prove that Bollars and Humans have common ancestors... as in, we're all one species. So that means there's only one species left.

Solution #2 is to call in the superhumans. The "Human Dreadnought" Project, so to speak. You find a really dangerous forest world full of Grue Combine forces and maneating flora and fauna, and say to hell with the Colonial Marine Gat Patrols, giant robots, fighter jets and so on - send in the Psi-Mages instead. These guys and gals are armed with soul sight, a basic skill learned early on by all creatures capable of magic or psi. Discerning hostiles and friendlies is no problem for them - anything with a soul aura other than blue or white, a Psi-Mage kills without reservation. Highly adept/military trained Psi-Mages can use their psychic telepathy to study enemy spellcasting and their magic to copy and use it against the enemy, within minutes. Their training also allows them to break hard objects, quickly, repeatedly. That means anything with a brain bucket is dead on sight. The Psi-Mage, for the most part, is trained for the quick kill - see a skull, crush a skull, or put a big hole through the eyes into the brain. Hopefully from a very long range. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. Psi-Mages can teleport themselves, or teleport a monstrous fireball into a fairy's stomach, or inside their skull. If s/he sees a large population of fairies gathered in one area, and they have enough mana-ki, they can launch a magic-based or psi-based "nuke", killing an entire population center in one fell swoop. A legion of Psi-Mages could blow a planet's atmosphere away. And remember, Vincent Hersch is just one of many trained to breathe in space.

Now why don't Psi warriors, Battlemages and Psi-Mages just run wild in my story? Well, they are bound by the Energy Crisis. They need fuel for their spellcasting. They have to take in a lot of calories for this, and their bodies don't turn it into magic/psi energy anywhere NEARLY as fast as the aliens do. Plus a superhuman can overstress themselves easier. This is not to say that there aren't one or two out there who can cast a nuclear blast sized attack, but they're going to do it and go back home to recharge. Unless you have a Superhuman teamed up with a Siluvaran woman, in which case she can teleport him into her womb, absorb him, and release his soul into a new body at which time both of them have an absolutely full spellcasting tank. Hmmm. Argh. Only a fucking flaming military IDIOT would even think of sending a Superhuman on a combat mission without a Siluvaran woman partner. Pseudo Godmodding. Aaagh.

For this reason, Superhumans are typically used to hit key targets, or to launch single attacks of mass destruction. They're not brought out for long missions or pitched battles.

Of course, this changes when vore is taken to a whole new level and the Superhumans, in their study of both fairy digestion and exo-symbiosis, invent the spell of Life Force Drain...


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Mary Sue, meet Marty & Sue, behold the power of two

Post by Majestic_12 on Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:20 pm

Ah, the Mary Sue. She's hard to define, but one example would be an overly powered ace that you just can't kill. Also closely related to the unbeatable all powerful god/dessmod. Also see: Marty Stu.

Does my story have any? Well, yes and no.

No doubt if you have been reading all of this, you might be wondering about these Superhumans, the name that covers all the psychics, the mages, and the psi-mages who master both psi and magic. What are their roles in this story?

Well, as you can imagine, a Superhuman is far more effective against a jungle planet full of maneating, magic endowed sentient horrors like fairies, nagas and whatnot. A Superhuman needs minimal supplies, no supply lines, and no base to launch from. All of humanity's enemies use magic. None of this is of any good against Psionics. Plus, humans (including Bollars) have a larger life force than any other life form in the galaxy - which means we have larger magic "batteries" than even fairies. Which is why nagas and carnivorous fairies want to eat us: to tap that energy to fuel their spellcasting. What this also means is when humans are taught better magic, particularly by the Siluvaran exo-symbiotes, we can kick anyone's ass with magic, too.

Not too many things bring more cheer to humans than seeing a Superhuman swoop down into a jungle and point at a fairy, using telekinesis to squish said fairy's brain and score an instant kill, or a mage cutting a hard right angle turn while leaving behind a giant fireball which a fairy accidentally teleports into his/her stomach, resulting in a satisfying KABOOM. Few people have NOT been awed at seeing a Superhuman psionicist accelerating to Mach 7 to punch through a naga's chest, blowing out their guts and leaving a giant flaming hole behind. (At Mach 7, you're almost racing the Space Shuttle, and you're absolutely red hot.) In battle, a Superhuman can see soul auras as far as their magic skills will let them see - well trained mages or psionicists can see a fairy as far off as the distant horizon, or even from lunar orbit. But that takes a hell of a lot of skill.

Mary Sue God/dessmod? Well yeah and no.

Telepathy is ill-advised against sentient predators, due to the mental differences. It can confuse you, blind you or even drive you nuts. Telekinesis is 99% of what is used in a battle against these man-eating monsters: squishing or frying brain cells is the #1 quick-kill tactic. Telepathy is initially only used to see the soul aura of one's target, which nullifies all their stealth and illusion defenses. More on this later.

Also, humans using magic or psi, and even Psi-Mages, must rely on fuel. The human digestive system is NOT... repeat, NOT efficient like that of a Fairy, Kadruata (naga), etc. We're... wasteful, for one. And of what we don't waste, most does not get converted to magic (mana) or psi (ki) reserves. Alien fruits like gollaps and dahlas, however, provide equal value to humans and fairies in this regard: they even the odds. What this means is, it is very difficult for humans to fill up their magic or psi spellcasting "batteries". Plus, it takes the normal amount of time for food to become energy inside us. We're not fairies or nagas: they can convert food into straight up magic energy in minutes. For us: hours.

Thus, a Superhuman - a mage, psionicist or Psi-Mage - must fuel up long before mission time. They go into battle, make the kill and use up their reserves, and keep enough in the tank to hightail it back home. And the fuel used for going and coming are not insignificant, either.

Also, overexertion can kill a Superhuman. Big time spells and psi attacks, or repeated attacks in a short time, are stressful. Heart attacks, blackouts, strokes, busted arteries, nervous system burnouts (ending in instant death or insanity) and of course running out of fuel are very very big risks in intense or protracted battles. Fairies are immune to burnouts but not running out of fuel.

In light of this, a Superhuman is good chiefly for short strikes - namely, killing high priority targets. Killing a local carnivorous fairy chieftain, a squad of giant or elite Nagas, is usually a job for a Superhuman. But this is not to be taken lightly: Human mages and psionicists have been known to go so far as to pulverize a large fairy city in a single blast, and then flee back to a ship and jump into hyperspace back to base. Also, Asrahn, by far and away the most powerful male fairy carnivore in the galaxy, the guy that even Rashanith (you'd also know her as "Rhea", as in "Silurhea", the goddess of all carnivorous fairies) feared, a name which means "Satan" even to the Silurheans who worship him!!! was killed with anti-climactic ease by an apprentice Psi-Mage. No, not killed by the mighty Vincent Hersch, but by a hot headed glory hound barely out of his newb training.

Yes, it is true. The mightiest of humanity's enemies can be put down by the cheapest of Superhumans... assuming one can get in close enough for a close quarters fight. If a Superhuman can see you, especially one with Psi abilities, yes, you're hosed.

Good luck applying that against large armies of Grue Combine monsters, though. The Grue Combine is quick to know the limitations of Superhumans, and will come at you with the express intent of overwhelming them. And they have the numbers to make it happen.

Enter, Marty & Sue... The Power of Two
Bring in the local wild exo-symbiotes, or better yet, the Siluvarans.

When a Superhuman's nervous system has burnt out, they may cast off one last terrible burst of magic or psi, with devastating consequences to anything around them. Then they will fall to the ground, dead, permanently catatonic, fairly mindless, or babbling insane. Stick a fork in this one, s/he is done.

Well, not exactly.

If you can get him/her to an exo-symbiote fairy while you can detect a life force inside them, the fairy will feed this burnt out human to her womb. As usual, the body will not survive being absorbed, but the soul will. When transplanted into a new mortal shell, it'll be as if all the mental damage was undone, because the soul cannot be destroyed... only "moved". Think of the soul as a kind of infinite "parity drive" for the mind. The worst case scenario is the Superhuman will come back in a new body with no knowledge of what happened after the burnout. Fine and well, they have everything else restored.

Oh, and in their new body, their magic or psi "battery" will be totally restored. Good as new and ready to go fight immediately. The energy crisis is totally bypassed.

So you send out a Superhuman Psi-Mage with a wild exo-symbiote warrior fairy as his/her backup. You've got a Superhuman wreaking havoc at full blast, until they practically burn out, and an exo-symbiote there to rejuvenate them right back to instant maximum battle-readiness. Plus, an exo-symbiote fairy absorbing her human prey means she, too, keeps recharging herself. Perpetual energy? Yup. The mystery source of extra energy is coming from a crack that keeps getting opened in the spirit realm... which makes both of them infinitesimally stronger each time they do this. (If you are fed to a fairy's womb 10,000 times you become twice as physically strong and your magic/psi reserves are twice as deep.)

Usually, though, there is a third fairy warrior in the mix - one to guard over the other two in case one fairy gets too "orgasmic" while absorbing her fellow soldier.

In any case, there's no limit to how long this two or three person "fireteam" can fight.

But still, don't forget... the Grue Combine have numbers. The Silurheans have numbers. They can overwhelm. They just tend to find it not worth battling a "Marty & Sue" fireteam. Once several of these fireteams hook up in a single battle, it's all over. Eventually the whole planet is pummeled into surrendering.

One planet goes down, way more than 9,999 more to go.

My question to you is... is that balanced?


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Additional battlefield issues

Post by Majestic_12 on Fri Nov 13, 2009 6:11 am

Antimatter weapons
Humans have the ability to mass deploy antimatter weapons by 2408 AD. This is usually only done when a given planet is considered not worth saving for colonization, or in a space battle. Small yield antimatter weapons can be deployed on terrestrial battlefields, but only after the troops have gotten out of range - a difficult thing to do with Silurheans and Kadruata in hot pursuit.

Also note that the Siluvarans and Grue Combine both use antimatter weapons. Other carnivorous fairy or Kadruata groups do not, as they lack the super high tech to do this. Exo-symbiote tribes do not have antimatter tech either, unless they have had close relations with a Bollar clan for 2+ generations, and said clan has antimatter technology.

The Superhuman/Exo-symbiote fireteam can also be stopped dead in their tracks by a human mage/psi-mage or a male fairy casting anti-magic; anti-magic spells will shut down all spellcasting in its area of effect, and if an exo-symbiote is caught in the area of effect while they are absorbing someone inside them, that person will reappear automatically, and the exo-symbiote will be unable to cast any spells. Also, anti-magic spells are effective against psi energy.

The formulae for determining an anti-magic spell's effectiveness in an RPG setting are as follows:
1) For dispelling magic spells: Roll 5 D20 and add the results, and add 15 (to account for an automatic 15% drop in magic effectiveness upon the successful casting of an anti-magic spell); the resulting number (maximum: 100) is the percentage of magic energy that is lost. This affects all magic spells cast in the radius of effect.

2) For dispelling Psi spells: Roll 5 D20 and add the results. The resulting number is the percentage dampening effect of all psi in force in the area of effect.

(I'm still working on determining areas of effect and also how to numerically quantify the levels of magic prowess and such that relate to the effectiveness of spells in general, including anti-magic - ed.)

Orbital Assault Special Infantry Squad (OASIS)
or Orbital Assault Silent Incursion Squad (OASIS-X)
This is one of the most elite human fighting force and one of the most victorious units in the Joint Earth Defense Initiative, especially the Psi-Mage divisions that factor heavily into this group.
OASIS squads attack the enemy in planetary orbit, softening up Grue Combine sensor arrays or patrol ships to allow units to slip in for a hit-and-run terrestrial assault, or an OASIS team may do a straight re-entry drop from an orbital ship into a hotzone for a short but highly effective mission, destroying key defenses or taking out elite Predators or leaders so the rest of the enemy can be more easily put down by a larger assault force. OASIS units are usually 1 or 2 groups one, two or three-person fireteams, with hyper advanced flight packs or even full armored Gears (exo-skeletons). They are known for their incredibly high speed orbital drops and are masters of high speed, high maneuverability dogfights. OASIS troops are armed with bleeding edge tech, and are an utter nightmare for any Predator they encounter. Their loadouts are incredibly diverse, ranging from nano-swords to micro missile launchers, nano-swarms (nanites that disintegrate a target on impact), beam lasers, portable anti-materiel cannons and heavy railguns, etc. OASIS exo-skeletons are extremely expensive and resource-intensive, designed to stand its ground against a naga tail-whack.

OASIS-X units are all of the above, except they are all Psionicists or Psi-Mages. This is because they need to slip in undetected, which only Psionicists and Psi-Mages can do. Their functions include all OASIS missions, plus stealing and/or alter Grue Combine computer data, among other things. They can also plant bombs to destroy an entire army or tribe once everyone is within the blast radius. OASIS-X units can stay around for quite a while. OASIS-X units also cast mass-destruction spells that can vaporize a large city. For this reason alone, OASIS-X soldiers are known for their very deep, well-trained psi/magic reserves, which they are always working hard to deepen by continued training: having deeper reserves than 99% of all military Psi-Mages - the "(upper) 1 Percentile" rule - is a requirement for acceptance into the program. Other Psionicists or Psi-Mages who fail the 1 Percentile Rule, can qualify for service in the OASIS program.

OASIS and OASIS-X units are constantly doing combat training against any one of a thousand battle scenarios.


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