Earth from space Earthrise

Known Technologies

For simplicity, I will classify the technologies available on Earth in the game into four categories: public technologies, restricted technologies, galactic technologies, and cutting edge technologies. Public technology is widely available for purchase, although in some cases it is expensive, but still affordable by a large organization. Restricted technology is in some sense widely available, but is illegal, or legal only under certain circumstances or to certain people. Galactic technologies are known technologies of the Galactic Union, which are known on Earth only if a government or other large organization can afford to buy them. Cutting edge technologies are relatively recently developed on Earth, but are not widely available, perhaps because of ambiguities in the intellectual property ownership, or perhaps because they are prohibitively expensive, secret or illegal. Items which are illegal but still widespread are classified as restricted technologies, not cutting edge; only those for which the legal restrictions have largely impeded spread of the technology are considered cutting edge. Note that there is no bar on superheros possessing galactic technology -- they may be genuine galactic items or Earth reproductions using cutting-edge technology.

Public Tech

Augmentation Training: Advanced training methods and chemical treatments can improve fitness, intellect, and other human capabilities well beyond human norms. The most basic techniques and chemicals are reasonably affordable and have few side effects, but offer only a modest benefit. More advanced training methods and chemical augmentations are expensive, have substantial possible side effects, or both. In addition, there are certain illegal drugs offering further advantages, although most have severe potential side effects, and various cutting-edge technologies can offer considerable augmentation.

Body Armor: A variety of super-strong fibers are known, allowing armor stronger and lighter than kevlar. Armor up to 10 PD/10 ED is considered public tech, although the high end is either expensive or bulky. Anything stronger than that is generally either restricted tech or cutting edge.

Camcopter: Most news video is captured by camcopters, autonomous flying videocameras, basically small helicopters with a camera and a semi-intelligent AI brain. They are widespread in public areas of any modern city, and they tend to cluster around any event that might be newsworthy.

Cloned Meat: It is cheaper and safer to grow meat in vats rather than raise animals. Most meat that is eaten therefore is cloned tissue. Some claim real animal meat tastes better, but it is substantially more expensive, and indeed, a majority of people find it somewhat disgusting to eat meat produced by chopping up animals.

Cloned Organs: While creating complete human clones is illegal in most of the developed world, cloned organs form a mainstay of medical technology in 2058. New limbs, hearts, livers, or whatever organ is necessary can be grown around plastic scaffolding and then surgically transplanted into the patient, obviating the need for organ donors. Generally, it is best to grow a clone from the patient's own genome, which usually takes months, so in some cases, it is necessary to give the patient a temporary implant to keep them alive until the cloned organ is ready.

Flexscreen: The basic computer screen has been replaced by a flexscreen, a high-resolution display made of a flexible plastic which can be rolled up or even folded to take up much less space when not in use. Flexscreens require almost no power to be visible in brightly lit conditions, although they do typically include an internal light source as well to improve visibility in dim ambient light. Flexscreens typically have a touch-sensitive area, in some cases the whole screen, and it is possible to build in a reasonable amount of computing power and wireless connectivity, so a flexscreen can serve as an excellent portable media center, capable of downloading and displaying news articles, music, or movies.

Genetic screening: By now, it is standard to do a basic genetic screening on embryos to test for most common genetic diseases and for indications of widespread mutation. In the years after the Antarctic War, genetic screening was not common, but the birth of so many Warchildren has changed the attitude of most people, and most women will get a genetic screen early on in pregnancy and abort it if an abnormality is detected. However, some cannot afford to pay for a full screen, and others choose to keep the baby for any of a variety of reasons despite knowing of a genetic abnormality or mutation. Others (with sufficient funds) go the opposite route, and seek a genetic transform in a third world hospital in order to fix whatever is wrong with their child.

Impact guns: Police have mostly switched from regular firearms to impact guns, which are nominally non-lethal, although they do still occasionally kill someone. Controlled force fields are beyond public tech, but impact guns fire a miniature force-field projectile which strikes the target and dissipates. An impact gun usually has a high and a low setting. Statistics: Pistol: High 6d6 EB (vs. PD), Low 3d6 EB (vs. PD), 32 charges (+1/4), OAF (-1), 18 pts. Rifle: High 9d6 EB (vs. PD), Low 5d6 EB (vs. PD), +2 Range Modifier [+6], 64 charges (+1/2), OAF (-1), Two-Handed (-1/2), 30 pts.

Implants: While cosmetic plastic surgery is as popular as ever, fewer people are willing to undergo more dramatic alterations, permanently introducing artificial components into their bodies. Still, some are forced to do so by medical needs, and plenty of others just give in to the convenience or allure of having the added capabilities. A huge variety of implants are possible, and many rely on galactic or cutting edge technology. Some of the more popular public tech implants are:

  • "Mobility" communications implant: This implant provides roughly the capabilities of a cell phone today, and runs indefinitely off of body heat. Includes: Cell phone: Detect cell phone signals [3], transmit [+2], 360 degrees [+5], only through regular phone call (-1), 5 pts.; GPS: Detect location and time [5], 5 pts.; File storage, camera: Eidetic memory, limited storage (-1), only for specifically stored items (-1), 2 pts. Total cost: 12 pts.
  • Cyber-jack: Filimentary wires throughout the brain, plus a small network jack at the base of the skull allows to user to directly interface mentally with most computer systems (cable not included). Unfortunately, the standard, public tech versions of the cyber-jack are sometimes prone to infection. Mind Link (w/ Machine minds) [5], any mind [+10], Does Not Provide Mental Awareness (-1/4), No Range (-1/2), Only w/ Properly Equipped Computer (-1/2), 7 pts.; Physical Limitation (Infrequently, Slightly): Cyber-jack may become infected, -5 pts. Total cost: 2 pts.
  • Enhanced prosthetic limbs/organs: It is possible to make prosthetic limbs or other organs more powerful and robust than regular human organs without sacrificing any other capabilities. Few will actively get an amputation in order to be fitted with enhanced prosthetics (although some do), but sometimes those who require a replacement limb or organ for medical reasons will choose an enhanced prosthetic over a normal cloned organ.

Longevity: Not a single technology, but rather a convergence of a variety of medical procedures for treating the aged, longevity treatments make it possible to survive well over age 100. Longevity treatments get more and more expensive as one gets older, however, and few can afford the round-the-clock care necessary to exceed 120 years old.

Privacy screen: One of the few applications of force-field technology available to the general public (at least that segment of it which is rich), the privacy screen provides a one-way blockade against light and sound. Therefore, no one outside the screen can see or hear what happens inside. Privacy screens do not block movement at all, and do not interfere with someone inside the screen eavesdropping, so must be used in conjunction with other security devices. Privacy screens come in all sizes, from small enough for a two-person chat to protecting a large building. No matter the size, however, they are quite expensive.

Quantum cryptography: A network of satellites provides secure world-wide point-to-point quantum cryptographic security for those who can afford it. Of course, quantum cryptography only provides communications security, and does not help if someone breaks into your network.

Semi-intelligent devices: Frequently known as "semis", these are artificial intelligences that are smart enough to perform almost any menial task, including routine driving, housework, basic sales and support services, and manufacturing. Computer hardware powerful enough to run a semi is widespread, and therefore semis are common, replacing humans in most unskilled jobs. This includes robot semis, with either human-shaped or more specialized bodies.

Smart Clothes: A large fraction of clothes are made with smart fabrics, which can change their color or even become transparent in response to an appropriate electric impulse. Smart clothes can store a large library of patterns (although only basic ones are pre-loaded), but for low-end clothes the pattern can only be changed when the item of clothing is plugged in. (Early versions of smart clothes sometimes had wireless access, but this led to security problems with people occasionally hacking in to change someone's clothing against their will.) More expensive models can have sensors which will change the pattern in response to a pre-programmed stimulus, for instance lighting or the user's biofeedback command. High-end smart clothes sometimes also have a limited ability to change shape as well as color.

Synthentic Petroleum: Oil is still a commonly-used fuel for vehicles. Cheap natural oil reserves are now largely gone, so oil is generally synthesized from plant matter at a power plant using some other energy source.

Restricted Tech

Blasters: Military weapons which sometimes finds their way into civilian or criminal hands, blasters fire a high-energy charged particle beam, doing substantial damage to whatever they hit. They are most effective as an anti-personal weapon, but can still do substantial damage to structures and vehicles. There are many configurations of blaster, but the standard blaster pistol is a 9d6 EB, while the standard rifle is a 12d6 EB, sometimes with Autofire.

Chimera Humans: It is possible to merge DNA from two or more individuals to create a viable embryo. Only the most straightforward reproductive uses (with two parents) are legal in the developed world, but much more advanced versions are possible, where the embryo might have many parents, and/or additional genetic modification, including non-human or purely synthetic genes.

Cloned Humans: Cloning a complete human (as opposed to just individual organs) is outlawed in much of the developed world, but it is quite possible and is available legally in some countries.

Genetic Transform: While genetic engineering of humans is outlawed in most developed nations, some developing countries have actively recruited scientists to build clinics to attract rich foreigners who seek a genetic upgrade. A genetic transform consists of a tailored series of retroviruses capable of making a carefully designed set of alterations to even an adult's genome. Depending on how radical a change is desired, the transform can be completed in a single day or could take weeks or months. An enormous variety of transforms is possible, but anything beyond curing a basic genetic disorder or the most common enhancements need to be specially designed and is therefore very expensive.

Nuclear Power: Major power plants are frequently fusion plants. Miniaturized man-portable fission reactors are also in use, but only in very restricted circumstances (usually military). Small fusion reactors are possible too, but are cutting edge technology.

Galactic Tech

Hyperroom: An advanced technological device that can unroll extra dimensions within the region inside it. The room is actually much larger than it appears, as each extra dimension offers effectively many times the three-dimensional volume of the original region.

Hyperwave Radio: The standard Galactic method of communication over interstellar distances. It is effectively instantaneous over typical Galactic distances.

Nuclear Damper: The U.S. and many other governments have bought these pieces of galactic technology to protect their major cities from terrorist attack or a repeat of the nuclear exchange at the end of the Antarctic War. They are expensive, but most think it is a worthwhile expense, as a nuclear damper moderates any nuclear reaction within a 10-mile or larger radius, preventing any kind of nuclear weapon from functioning.

Omni-Translator: While Galactic computer technology is in general actually less advanced than Earth's cutting-edge computers, in certain areas it is much more advanced. One such area is automated translation; while semi-intelligent translators exist on Earth between specific pairs of languages, Galactic understanding of the universal principles of linguistics enables omni-translators capable of translating even a newly encountered language with only a small sample. The cheapest omni-translators often make a garble when forced to translate anything beyond basic concepts, but more advanced ones exist which allow fluent conversation.

Stasis Field: Some galactic technology can freeze people in place, unable to move, though still aware of the passage of time. Frequently a stasis field affects an area, but they are also made to immobilize individuals.

Warp Drive: The main Galactic method of interstellar transport, Galactic warp drives can travel between nearby stars in just hours. Earth governments would truly love to learn how they work, but so far have been unable to get ahold of a working warp drive.

Cutting Edge

Artificial Intelligence: Specialized high-end computer equipment can run artificial intelligences which are as smart as or, in some cases, much smarter than a human. Either the hardware or software (frequently both) is inevitably proprietory, restricted by conflicting patents, or otherwise not widely available, so each full AI is usually the result of a separate development effort, and is therefore likely to be dissimilar from other AIs in its psychology, capabilities, and in the underlying technology. Since AIs are almost always developed by large organizations (companies or governments), they are owned by the sponsoring organization; in most countries, they are legally classed as objects.

Artificial Womb: Using an artificial womb, a baby can be brought to term from fertilization to birth without ever being carried by a woman. The artificial womb is widely known to exist, but patent complications are keeping it off the general market. Those with enough money or the right connections manage to get access, however.

Brain Mods: By putting an appropriate implant in the brain, it is possible to modify behavior in various ways, change personality or memories, or give the subject a new set of skills. Brain mods are still experimental and sometimes have bad side effects, plus they are only legal for medical uses.

Force-Grown Clones: It is possible to highly accelerate the growth of clones, human or animal, to bring a clone to physical maturity within a month or less. This does not give the subject the mental development that would normally come with natural development, but the gap can be filled somewhat by appropriate conditioning or brain mods. The technology for force growth would be very helpful for making cloned organs, but it is tied up in patent litigation.

Gravcopter: One of the newest pieces of military hardware is the gravcopter, which uses anti-grav and force field technology to produce a vehicle capable of flying with enormous maneuverability. With the grav drive powered up, the gravcopter is surrounded by a repulsion field which can deflect most attacks, and provides an added level of protection against a clumsy pilot hitting a building or other obstacle. Gravcopters are thus optimal for deploying troops into an active combat or any location where space is limited. They are, however, outrageously expensive and are thus somewhat rare.

Nanotechnology: While some lesser versions of nanotech devices are available as public tech, full-blown nanotechnological robots are available only under stringent restrictions. Programming a swarm of molecular-sized robots is a daunting task, however, and applications of such swarms face rigorous legal restrictions as well to prevent them from getting out of hand.

Personal Force Field: These advanced personal protection devices are tied up in a conflicting nest of patent claims, and are not available on the market. However, those with the right connections can still get access to one, providing them with high-class protection. Statistics: 12 PD/12 ED force field, 80 END, 4 REC END reserve, only recovers from power socket (-2), OIF (-1/2), 22 pts.

Quantum Computer: Quantum computers exist, but not many, and all known ones are owned by large organizations which keep exclusive access to them.

Rejuvenation: At the pinnacle of modern medical procedures is rejuvenation, a thorough reworking of the human body to reverse the effects of aging. The procedure begins with a full-body workover to diagnose dying or mutated cells, failing organs, and any other medical problem. Then a swarm of nanobots are programmed to fix these problems and released into the subject's body. Over the course of about 72 hours, the nanobots make the repairs and then self-destruct, leaving the subject with the body of a healthy 25-year-old. The procedure is outrageously expensive, however, and is thus restricted to the ultra-rich. It also does not always work, and a failed rejuvenation can cripple or even kill the subject.