Thursday, 29 November 2012

The glad lightness of a far future and alterpluristemics

The recent focus on paths among universes or settings set off some thinking here. What if the journey could be planned, or the destination known, or a traveller could move back and forth? You could import/export between paradigms. Then came the next thought...

Which item from any given setting or universe could really change the nature of another?

One that came to my mind was the flower from the classic Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise". It sprayed spores that removed resistance to empathy and freer love - see the first video below. And I thought of the grim dark of a setting like the 41st millennium.

Wouldn't work? Xenophobia between the factions is just too strong? In the second - and potentially very offensive - video, of Richard Herring's Hitler Moustache, a train of thought starts at 3:32 in which Herring jokes that while many of us embrace the existence of so many nations, anyone who sees only Them and Us is just one step from universal love.

Of course, in a war-torn far future like M41, anywhere the flowers were planted could be subject to Exterminatus or the equivalent, and probably would be once their effects were known. Conflict can be made profitable, or be the sum total of experience or a source of identity - that we know. So what mechanism could be used to spread the love around?

Well, the Orks are a major, dynamic vector. And they multiply via spore release. What if a rogue xenobiologist or bad dok raised an Ork to produce the love spore too? Orks get everywhere and could inherit the galaxy. Now they'd share it. What would that mean?

At any rate, a transpluristemic path like one of those for the Ends, especially if it could be hacked or co-opted, or a follow-up found, could give rise to a new kind of protagonist: a figure who travels the settings, maybe the genres, altering them for a given purpose...

There's more thinking on possible interactions through portals and actual crossing here, and on transformations when moving among universes at my first Worldboat post, here.

Here's that first video then. I only wanted the one scene, but it has much more besides.



John Till said...

The Spores as a vehicle for large scale social transformation? You just blew my mind. It could work. In the western hemisphere tobacco was (and still is) used in similar ways in native cultures. In the Summer of Love, other drugs were vectors of transformation.

Porky said...

Approaches like this do seem underplayed. They may be poorly understood and rarely met given how much a more open conflict dominates in gaming and the role it plays in popular culture. It could be we need to distinguish more carefully between conflict and dynamics. Worlds and game systems can have dynamics that go well beyond familiar forms of conflict, possibly without conflict at all as we imagine it. They could gain by it too, not least in freshness, and maybe even - whisper it! - originality.

garrisonjames said...

This pretty much upsets the underlying premise for something like 40K, doesn't it? What would become of the setting if war fell out of fashion and conflict was smoothed-over by these spores? Might some or all these competing civilizations start to trade and communicate among one another? What would come from something like that? This is an interesting tangent to consider. Bet not too many have given it much consideration. This could be a really disruptive, game-changing sort of thing that would take and invert or reverse practically all the assumptions...which might be fun to explore.

Porky said...

Hard to disagree with that, and looking at the possible expanse of the universe beyond even this galaxy, trade and communication could just be the start. There'd be real adventuring to be done, in campaigns few of us might imagine otherwise. This idea, and the 40K universe itself, could be the tip of a vast hyperdimensional iceberg.

Astalen said...

What would happen would be called nature selection. All the people and beings affected by the spores would be killed by those would have a resistance or immunity to it (commissar would call them dirty hippy chaos worshipers.) Also, Tyranids would be unaffected, given their extreme rate of mutation and the fact that their minds do not possess individuality. And Orks don't know what love is either, so the greenskins would still do what they love best!

Porky said...

I agree. Fighting forces would be weakened by that kind of process, and even commissars and so on could have the veil lifted and feel the love. Whole sectors could refuse to kill and stop responding to orders, set up autonomous spaces beyond the writ of the warmongers. The home fronts would be important too - the millions or billions involved in extraction, manufacturing and shipping for warfare could just set their tools down and drain the frontlines dry.

Even if the space marines weren't affected, they'd be worn down by the fighting even faster and could well reach similar conclusions over time. The ingrained ideology, corruption and bureaucracy of the Imperium would presumably limit its ability to respond, to research and distribute an antidote. It could mean it having to back down in many areas, signing peace treaties or just surrendering terrority out of an inability to defend it.

The effects on other factions and their reactions may be less obvious. How far would the Eldar be affected say, or how much extra work might need to be done by the instigators to have them affected? What would the Necrons do, and any other factions and species that were immune? What would be the effect on the warp of so many minds changing..?

We could assume that anyone modifying the Orks like this would work to extend the effects to the Orks themselves where possible, so that the Waaagh! could become more about having fun, maybe through simple games and sports like tag or wrestling, or just a mass hugfest. If there was inner conflict, it might be that the least destructive tendencies in the Orky nature became dominant, the tendency to want to go fast for example, more than the need to do physical damage.

The Tyranid factor would be an interesting one, even if the adaptation was so fast. If the newly calmed galaxy empathised with the Tyranid need for expansion, or at least sustenance, the peoples might push back, in a smart way. Maybe they'd decide to leave instead, by whatever means and in whatever direction. It's possible the new scope for cooperation among the factions could produce fresh and imaginative solutions, new forms of balance maybe, or doors to new places.