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Very Different Places RPG

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SciTech

Science and psionics coexist well in the world, the latter having been brought into play by the Invasion as some think, or having emerged somewhat organically afterwards as the result of Invaders and humans intermingling.

Engineering and related terms refer exclusively to the construction and operation of engines; someone who designs new things is a scientist or an inventor, an engineer is someone who tends to a power plant or to an airship's lifting-gas generators or motors (or, occasionally, a dedicated mechanic for a big rig).

On that note, a lot of things that are made through extensive industrial processes in real life are available in Waylights by dint of starting from the right ingredients from the three ecosystems; this means that they require much less processing. For example, nixie tubes are the primary means of electrical display in Waylights -- but they are made from passenger phoenix feathers inside light bulbs, rather than a high-precision gas mixture in a vacuum. Likewise, most commercial fabrics have the strength of kevlar or dacron with few of the drawbacks, due to having been made from space-adapted plant fibers.

Most electrical equipment (bulbs, hot plates, motors) runs by thermocoupes operated by activated refined crystals; so do nearly all thermal engines in vehicles, whether electric for groundcars or Stirling cycle for rigs and ships. Steam engines are used to take advantage of less concentrated heat, or to move water.

Automated systems such as buoy waylights and so on are generally controlled by clockwork, with the fanciest systems sporting a wireless receiver and relays to keep synch with the Synchro Beacons' morse code time signal; most automatic things are called synchros either way.

Wireless communication is fairly ubiquitous, but units that have a meaningful range tend to be the size of a shoebox or larger, with drogue antennas easily being dozens of meters long. Morse code is commonly used and can be interpreted by particularly fancy synchros -- remote triggers that answer to a sequence can be made, but are extremely expensive and not particularly reliable.

As always, needs does what must, and it's not uncommon to see Zorians power the synchro for their call to prayer with the heat from camel dung, for example.

Computers strictly speaking exist, but are generally custom-built or at least custom-fitted for their jobs and are the sort of thing that might exist in a bank vault or in the basement of a university's maths department; a "portable" computer may take up a whole coach, and actually using it in flight on anything but a heighliner or a battleship would be an excellent way to wreck it after minutes. Complex synchros that are effectively general-purpose computers are used for things like air traffic control signals, industrial looms, and power plants.

Navigation is largely a solved problem (the Synchro Beacons' pulse provides a common time base and can be used for radiogoniometry, and even if that's not available chronometers are fairly good), at least as far as getting within visual range of a destination goes. Compasses are only useful on or above a land or at high altitudes, and should not be relied on in general cases, although they can be surprisingly useful indoors. Automated navigation is something that has been experimented with, but with so far marginal results.

Medicine takes full advantage of psi techniques, and most field medkits contain a suturing or cauterizing crystal in addition to the usual bandages and disinfectant; however, the breathing illness caused by prolonged exposure to the lowlands atmosphere or to crystal dust tends to worsen with most crystal use, which is why a few cantons operate high-altitude sanatoriums.

Diesel fuel is normally obtained from refining the oil of certain alpine or hybrid plants, and used to boost the output of thermal engines -- black-smoke-spewing, prone-to-explode diesel booster addons are the stereotypical Saturday Night Special engine mod. Solid-fuel rockets exist, and are used for fireworks and the occasional incendiary barrage when accuracy is not a factor.

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Page last modified on November 10, 2013, at 12:04 AM