Barbarians of Heavy Metal Design Diary 8


Hey, Nathaniel here. After a bit of a delay due to a host of other stuff on my plate, I am now ready to divulge the basic tenants of Warp travel in the BoHM universe. This is important because any adventure game on an interstellar scale needs a coherent underlying rationale for the ability to travel faster than light in order to fully flesh out the ramifications of that technology on the rest of society. In our case in particular, what exactly led to an intergalactic society of rockers, punks and metalheads in general? Remember, what is being put down here is still in a rough, conceptual stage, but it should give you a good idea of the direction I’m going in. As always, comments are appreciated.

Now, I have to say that there has been a LOT of thought going on behind the final ideas presented here (a there will probably be a great deal more once writing commences) and not just on my end. I have to give a big shout out to two folks, Aaron Smith, whose comments have constantly kept me from drifting too far from the thematic basis of the game,  and LTCMDR Tom Mays, my oldest friend and Mister Physics, who helped me ground it in some basic ‘reality.’

With those necessary credits issued (and the both of you will be included in the credits of the game as well), here’s the nitty-gritty on riding the warp of space…

How It All Came About – The Birth of the Precogs

‘Back in the Day’ (the term used by the modern headbanger to refer to the pre-war past) scientists started to discover more and more about the ‘superstrings’ that formed the underlying superstructure of the universe. Eventually, Harmonic Resonance Technology came about allowing the scientists to ‘pluck’ those strings and affect the physical universe in a variety of ways using special ‘Forks’ whose vibrations resonated in a ultra-high frequency that transcended physical dimensions.

It was during these experiments that certain researchers started having vivid audio and visual ‘hallucinations.’ It turned out that certain people (almost uniquely women, as the mutation required two X chromosomes to function properly) had a very special ability which allowed them to see and hear the disturbances in real space caused by the manipulation of superstrings.

Once they had these initial hallucinations and their ‘hyperspatial sense’ had been stimulated even further by further experimentation, their perceptions got sharper and they could eventually, with concentration, even see and hear the basic harmonics behind the universe itself. With this ability they could perceive the flow of local events and this gave them a predictive power, bordering on actual precognition,  that made them very useful indeed (and which would eventually lead the universe into the apocalyptic horror of  the Thousand Psychic Wars).

Into The Warp

Of the many things the Precogs could see, the most useful of all was the warping of space caused by the manipulation of superstrings in the ultra- ultra-high frequency range. These folds, being of space and not inside it, could be set to move at incredible speeds that transcended all the physical limitations of interstellar travel.

Eventually the scientists and the emerging precog class learned how to move a ship ‘between the curves’ of this warp in space, into a hyperspatial interface generated by two layers of space-time in close proximity to each other, and travel across vast interstellar distances became possible.

This travel was not without its dangers, however. A Warp travels through a universe of mass and energy that vibrates on numerous frequencies and creates harmonic disturbances that can throw it all over the place like a leaf on the wind. It was here that the true value of Precogs was recognized as they could see these disturbances and, by manipulating the Harmonic Forks empowering the warp, steer it in the right direction. Thus interstellar travel was established and the Warp Riders became a power in their own right (eventually dividing into three competing Sisterhoods: Ouranos’ Daughters; Hermes’ Brides; and the Mistresses of the Mysteries).

Warp Mechanics

Warp ships are made up of three very important parts. The first is an array of rather specialized harmonic resonator forks that not only generate the fold in space, but create the wormhole that allows the ship to pass into the hyperspatial interface between the folds.

The second is a hull made up of Vibranium, an extremely specialized  alloy used in the creation of Harmonic Resonance Forks. This acts to help amplify the forks function and protect the ship in Hyperspace and outside it [Ed. I’m still working out the ramifications and possibilities of Vibranium].

The third is the Warp Rider herself, the Precog who can hear the music of the universe inside her head, see the waves of  convergence and dissonance and then play her 6 Dimensional String Manipulator (which takes the form of some sort of musical instrument) to move the warp.

Controlling a Warp Ship in flight in real-space is done by normal stellar navigation. To transcend physical space a Warp Rider must play the Superstrings to create a fold. Once the fold is created, the Warp Rider uses a discordance to rip a hole through space-time and into the Hyperspatial interface so that the ship can maneuver inside it. After that, they begin the musical manipulation of the superstrings in earnest and the Warp Fold is set in motion, like a wave in space-time.

Once in the fold of space, it is the musical virtuosity of the Warp Rider that controls the direction and speed of the Warp Fold. The harder the music rocks, the tighter the fold, the faster  the potential flight. They have to take care, however, as too tight a fold will cause the two sides of the warp to touch and become a singularity which crushes the ship and everything within 1000+ kilometers of it into a point before (assuming it wasn’t foolishly created close to a large stellar mass) dispersing.

Along with plotting a flight to distant stars and knowing how to compensate for interstellar movement and the like, The Warp Rider also listens to the harmonics of the universe and watches the waves of discordance as they pass around the warp and then plays to compensate and push the warp in the right direction. On smaller ships a single Warp Rider can control the miniscule fold created relatively easy, but the Harmonic Resonance needed to push folds that can encompass larger ships or even entire fleets requires a whole band or even a choir of Warp Riders to play in unison, with a leader known as the Navigatrix acting as the band leader. The whole group functions in a manner very similar to a jazz ensemble, playing to a set path, but also improvising to counter unexpected distortion from the universe.

Once the Warp Fold reaches its destination just outside a star system (going into a system can potentially collapse the fold with the ship still inside it as the extreme masses of the planets and suns overwhelm the Warp Riders ability to compensate, although the more talented they are, the closer in they can get) the Warp Rider slowly releases the fold, flattening it out and then moving the ship out of the Hyperspatial Interface and back into real-space.

The Silence & The Fury

There are pockets of space where, for whatever reason, the superstrings of the universe are so flaccid or broken that no sound can be brought forth from them. Initially, these pockets were rare, constrained to areas where dark matter is in such abundance that it collapses any waveforms before they can be created, like a universal sound cancelling effect or an interstellar calm. These areas said to be ‘Cursed by The Silence.’ There are other areas where the noise from extreme stellar phenomena like massive quasars drowns out all other attempts to manipulate the superstrings. These areas are said to be ‘Ravaged by The Fury.’ Black Holes can qualify as both Silence and Fury, flipping from one to another at random intervals.

Both of these areas can have adverse effects on a Warp Fold. The Silence will prevent any manipulation of the fold causing the Warp to move uncontrollably towards an unknown destination. Even worse than that, the cancellation of all harmonic resonance will sometimes cause the fold to flatten out, forcing the ships inside to make an emergency re-entry into real-space where they will remain stranded until they can leave the Silence behind by way of real-space travel (which can take decades or even centuries).

The Fury will blind a Warp Rider and send the Warp off in Lord only knows what direction, sometimes in several different directions in rapid succession, so that by the time they emerge, they could be anywhere. It can also cause singularity collapse and a host of other problems, as the insane vibrations of the strings around the disturbance cause energy discharges in the Hyperspatial Interface analogous to the electrical storms on Jupiter. Again, a ship can be forced out of the Warp Fold and into a real-space from which they can only escape by slow physical travel or by risking their own destruction trying to create and enter into a new Warp Fold.

Pockets of The Silence and The Fury occur naturally, but they can also be caused artificially. This occurs in areas in which Harmonic Resonance is used as a weapon on such a scale that it tears space-time apart, breaking or stretching out the strings or setting them to vibrate eternally without end. The Thousand Psychic Wars saw just such a scale of universal destruction and for that reason, travel between the stars has been reduced to limited routes of known ‘clear’ space, which are meticulously marked on astronavigational charts. This has led to interstellar trade routes and borders being formed, restricting the ability of the various petty baronies, kingdoms and fiefdoms to engage in all out war without a well established route to attack along (which often requires such a large number of temporary alliances, sweet deals and pacts of non-aggression that the initial diplomacy to clear the way can be more difficult and costly than the actual conflict itself).

The destruction in some areas of space was so complete that some systems are cut off entirely from any kind of interstellar travel, the Earth in particular, which no one has been able to visit in over 300 years. While there may, indeed, be paths to these lost systems, it takes a great expedition to find and chart them again, and while there are entire companies devoted to re-forging these paths across the galaxy, most believe Earth to be lost forever, as the few who have set out to find a way back to humanities home-world have never returned.

Up Next: Random Subjects of Interest

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0 thoughts on “Barbarians of Heavy Metal Design Diary 8

  1. Tom Mays

    Great ideas for what looks to be a great book. No players in my area, but I do wanna play this eventually. Some rationale for the changes made here. When Nathaniel first explained his proposed method of travel with singularity generators and such, with Metal as the user interface of sorts, it just seemed . . . inelegant, a sort of unnecessary user interface with no reason for being other than it was an alternative to pushing Star Trekkie buttons on a console. I gave some long thought to it and basically arrived at the holographic theory of the universe (which is an actual thing). Essentially all there is is energy. Some energy is free, formless. Some energy is bound up by information into matter. There is no difference between them besides the information, and that information is only experienced or expressed or localized and made firm through observation.. If you could change the information reliably, altering it before it is observed and fixed, you could change reality. That led to a thing called Fourier transforms (another actual thing), which basically take the deeper information you can’t normally see (because you’re looking at static matter) and inverts it such that the matter goes away and the information is directly expressed and can be directly altered. Some imagery software take Fourier transforms of a picture in order to clean away bad data. The bad data which you normally can’t differentiate from the good data stands out like a sore thumb after being transformed, and can then be snipped off without affecting the actual picture. And that brings us to waves and vibrations. The Fourier transform of actual matter would appear as a complex superposition of waves, and you could then insert your own waves do amplify, negate, or change whatever you liked. Then you do a reverse Fourier transform and bring the matter back, but changed as you see fit.

    In that way, you could essentially use music (waves) to affect matter, energy, space, and time. No longer was it an unnecessary user interface — now it was an actual, reasonable requirement. Therefore, the sensitives, the Warp Riders and the Navigatrixes have the ability to directly view and experience hyperspace at all times, which is essentially the overall Fourier transform of reality. They can see the information behind the reality which gives the formless sea of energy its structure. And with the right equipment, they can alter it. To them, spacetime is a sheet of music, and matter and energy are notes and rhythms. They can see superstrings (another proposed actual thing, though used essentially incorrectly here) as songs, and by changing the tune, they can change reality, forcing it to grab them up and do their bidding, to carry them to anyplace they want.

    Everything else fell out of that. Taking the discordant noise of the random universe and adding what you will to turn it into a song that would carry you faster than the speed of light, and the more Metal the song, the faster you go. It gives a pseudoscientific basis for the sonic weapons. It explains and allows for the Silences and the Furies. Nathaniel has taken what I gave him and made it even more special. I think it’s almost there. Maybe needs a few more comments, a few more ideas. Needs a little more accompaniment to the noise we’ve made to turn it into jazz. I look forward to the future ideas and comments.

    1. nathaniel Post author

      I think science-fantasy is so much more fun when it is firmly grounded in reality. It wasn’t enough to make musical warriors who cold melt your face with their guitars, cause earth tremors with their drums and flip themselves across space on waves of pure rock, it needed that tang of reality to make it even more immediate for the player. Thanks for helping me with that, Tommy-boy!