Elder Races

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Elder Races

Postby Erinys » Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:22 am

Elder Races are species which developed Faster-than-Light transport and highly advanced technology long before the Playable Races of the game rose to their current levels of technological sophistication. Often players will encounter only remnants of technology left behind by an Elder Race, some of which can be quite wonderful...or quite dangerous.

Encounters with Elder Races and their technology are extremely rare and can be lethal to the unprepared. As you encounter the Elder Races and their technological remnants, this thread will be open for you to make comments and ask questions about them.
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The Locusts

Postby Erinys » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:12 pm

The Locusts are a trans-carbon race. They began their existence as sentient living things, but chose of their own free will to give up their bodies and their mortality to become self–replicating machines.

All Locusts were once members of a race of mammalian–type sentients. They were carbon-based life forms slaved to a carbon cycle of death and birth, pain and pleasure. They were no more or less inclined to abuse their environment than any other sentient creature, in this pre–Locust stage, but they decided nonetheless that they would prefer to exist outside of the endless loop of birth, growth, decay and death.

Having collectively risen to sentience, achieved a Space Age and an advanced technology base, a very tiny minority of them decided that they were simply too good to suffer the slings and arrows of the carbon cycle anymore. They built the first Locust City and downloaded their minds as engrams into Locust bodies.

With the transition to a trans-carbon lifestyle, the Locusts lost any sense of connection to the needs and wants of those still tethered to a carbon biosphere. The Locust "experience" of life is very insular. New experiences, to the extent that these are possible, have no impact on Locust identity or personality. Engrams cannot learn or change as living beings do.

Locusts are not an AI rebellion, and do not have the strengths and weaknesses of true Artificial Intelligences. Nor do they have any special hatred of carbon-based life per se. The conflicts that they have with carbon–folk are coincidental, rather than deliberately instigated. The Locusts do not hate carbon-based life, they simply sweep aside whatever and whoever is in the way. The Locusts feel entitled to take anything and everything they need from a system. The members of their own race who decided not to join them and transcend a carbon lifestyle were treated in a predictable fashion. If the remainder of the parent species is ever found, it is likely that they will be living on a stripped world, trapped in a Stone Age from which they can never escape.

Locusts replicate themselves for the same reason that they wanted to live forever: ego. After all, how can there be too much perfection? The minds of the Locusts are very involved in the process of self-replication. Narcissus could only dream of an experience like it. All known Locust spheres are duplicates of one another in every detail. When the Locusts duplicate themselves, the copy is perfect. If by chance an imperfect copy was to be made, it would be resorbed and re–cast until proper duplication could be achieved.

There is no record of Locusts attacking other Locusts. Locusts are oblivious to the fate of their copies and have no interest in military strategy per se. The only right answer is the one they already know. They are not a "Hive Mind", but rather an endlessly repeating city of trans-carbon entities. One can imagine them as a collective or commune, but they do not surrender their individuality to the whole in any way; that would smack of humility. The City Core is the residence of all the minds grown too abstract to be self–motivated personalities.

Do the Locusts "think"? Yes. The Locusts think quite deeply...about themselves...and only themselves, and what things mean... to themselves. And how much better the universe is when there are more of...themselves. Because when there are more of themselves...there is less chance of their wonderful selves ceasing to exist.

The Locust personalities are neither a hierarchy nor a bureaucracy. There is very little variation in their responses to threats or challenge. There is no "military AI" which has authority over the others. If the movement of the Sphere from system to system requires a decision between equally viable options, random chance is enough to determine their course.

A decision was made long ago about how to handle the interface between the Sphere and the universe. The Locusts are still living according to that decision. Why would they ever change their minds, when their minds are by definition perfect?
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Re: Elder Races

Postby Blackwarder » Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:42 am

Wow, just wow!

Never thought about the Locust in that way, absolutely brilliant.

I sense a research project for comunicating with the Locusts will find it's waybinto the game. :D

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Re: The Locusts

Postby twentypence » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:40 am

Erinys wrote:Locusts are oblivious to the fate of their copies


Do different Spheres communicate with each other on any level?

In game they currently avoid going to a system where another Sphere is going, so I was wondering if this was from some form of communication or just them detecting and avoiding each other.
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Re: Elder Races

Postby Shatner » Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:37 pm

To what extent does an individual locust's narcissism extend to others of it's kind? Does it feel that it is part of a collection of perfection, or does it think that it and it alone is the pinnacle of being and that the rest of it's trans-carbon brethren are just along for the ride? If an individual locust is destroyed (say because of combat or a cosmic mishap), is it recreated and if so, is that process automated or initiated by other locusts?

Are individual locusts contained in the locust fighter ships, or do they merely take control of one of those ships in response to enemy action?

Erinys wrote:They are not a "Hive Mind", but rather an endlessly repeating city of trans-carbon entities. One can imagine them as a collective or commune, but they do not surrender their individuality to the whole in any way; that would smack of humility. The City Core is the residence of all the minds grown too abstract to be self–motivated personalities.

It seems like the two overriding themes of the locusts are first and foremost egotism (reaching the height of narcissism) and secondly stasis (to lock them into that height and never let them come back down). How is it then that some of the minds have grown too abstract to be self-motivated? It sounds like growing and changing is not something the locusts do, so how did some of them navel-gaze themselves into what I assume is a sort of solipsistic self-exile within the City Core?
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Re: Elder Races

Postby That Schmuck » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:29 pm

I'd say awesome, but it's an insufficient term. Terrifying, fascinating, cautionary, dark hilarity... they all have their place in it.

Also, I'll admit it: I snickered at the part about experiences. It was... difficult trying to communicate my question about it way back when. Good call having that note in there, :thumbsup:
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Re: The Locusts

Postby Erinys » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:41 pm

twentypence wrote:Do different Spheres communicate with each other on any level?

In game they currently avoid going to a system where another Sphere is going, so I was wondering if this was from some form of communication or just them detecting and avoiding each other.


They are aware of one another and factor the presence of other spheres into their calculations, if they are considering a move to a new system. Communication is probably too strong a word for this subtle readjustment; people do not need to talk in order to avoid jostling one another in an elevator.

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Re: Elder Races

Postby Erinys » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:44 pm

Shatner wrote:To what extent does an individual locust's narcissism extend to others of it's kind? Does it feel that it is part of a collection of perfection, or does it think that it and it alone is the pinnacle of being and that the rest of it's trans-carbon brethren are just along for the ride? If an individual locust is destroyed (say because of combat or a cosmic mishap), is it recreated and if so, is that process automated or initiated by other locusts?


The sphere sustains each individual Locust and can provide them with new bodies as needed, unless it is destroyed. The tiny drones are Locust bodies, occupied by the engrams when the Sphere must be defended.

How is it then that some of the minds have grown too abstract to be self-motivated?


Some of them are no longer interested in leaving the Sphere, even to defend the Sphere. This potential (to make all problems someone else's problem to solve) was always present in the personality of the living person, it has just become more strongly expressed in the engram.

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Re: Elder Races

Postby Hari Seldon » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:19 am

Erinys wrote:The Locusts feel entitled to take anything and everything they need from a system. The members of their own race who decided not to join them and transcend a carbon lifestyle were treated in a predictable fashion. If the remainder of the parent species is ever found, it is likely that they will be living on a stripped world, trapped in a Stone Age from which they can never escape.


I respectfully disagree. Mecron may have mentioned that the Elder Races were not from the supergiant first generation star era, but are still from a few billion years ago.

That means that unless the Locusts cracked open the planet and mined the magma and metal core inside, plate tectonics would eventually replace the elements on the surface as old land mass is subducted and new land mass is obducted, not to mention volcanoes' small extrusion contribution.

As far as I know, all elements could be replaced except hydrogen. Anything lithium and above can be a solid at terrestrial pressures (and so can be a molten solid in the core), helium will be replaced by being a radioactive decay product from the core, and I don't know if there is any hydrogen in the magma, though it's probably not in the core. If there is no hydrogen in the magma then deuterium and tritium could not be replaced if the locusts mined all of the water and crust rocks for it.

Oil will gradually build up and be in pretty good supply after a few hundred million years I guess, certainly in billions of years. That and coal and the clatherates, etc., regenerating that supply the Locusts probably mined to make plastic.

Once metals get in high enough supply to support an industrial civilization, coal can be mined, and later using steam-powered drills, oil. This energy then can be used to construct polymer solar cells or (if they waited long enough to get enough metal) wind turbines.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymer_solar_cell

Ahh, but this does not let them be spacefaring. Well, they have two choices for that, Project Orion nuclear bomb pulse propulsion, or if they don't have enough uranium they still have a second choice: pb11 fusion for example. Boron-11 extruded from the mantle can be isolated from the other isotopes, using oil-age 1940s tech, and just electrolyze water to get hydrogen to fuse with the boron-11 to produce fusion energy without the need to mine deuterium from the moon (which the locusts would have eaten). The reaction products can be fed into 2 more reactions (see first 5 or so minutes of video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhL5VO2NStU&sns=em

The only problem after that is that the Locusts probably ate their sector of space, so nothing good in the asteroid belts or planets with no plate techtonics. Do the Locusts come back to eat at the plate techtonic planets? Maybe, but something is keeping the Locusts, Planet Killer, and Von Neumann in check and I assume it was not just the Suul'ka or it would be a very lonely universe. So there is hope that they could live on such tectonic planets if the locusts were cleared out of that galaxy (and had little incentive to go back to that galaxy rather than go to a fresh one). That is actually easier than you might think because the Locusts would have so few resources to replicate with. The Peacekeepers could handle it, I mean were they really programmed to only stop war and not sneaky asteroid mining raids which is basically what the Locusts are? I mean the Peacekeeper can kill the Locusts in one shot, so it should be easy.
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Re: Elder Races

Postby kdonovan » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:30 pm

So who are the elder races? We know of most of them through artifacts they left behind.

The Locusts
The Makers of the Peacekeeper.
The Makers of the System Killer.
The Makers of the Puppeteer.
The Makers of the Asteroid Monitors (or are these from the Morrigi/Suul'ka past?)
The Makers of the Von Neumanns.
The Makers of the Swarm.
Maybe Specters?
Others?
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Re: Elder Races

Postby RobAK801 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:16 pm

The Asteroid Monitors are Morrigi made from their old empire.
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Re: Elder Races

Postby Erinys » Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:01 pm

Hari Seldon wrote:That means that unless the Locusts cracked open the planet and mined the magma and metal core inside, plate tectonics would eventually replace the elements on the surface as old land mass is subducted and new land mass is obducted, not to mention volcanoes' small extrusion contribution.


Resources are a composite abstract. The total is much more than the sum of a few metals. Some damage to a world cannot be undone, even in a billion years. If the parent species of the Locusts still exist, they're very excited to have bamboo-style armor right around now.

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Re: Elder Races

Postby Hari Seldon » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:57 am

Hmm well I support the fact that humanity needs to change its course or there will be another mass extinction event and nobody can help us if we lose our algae farms or high technology after that, the Locusts can warn us of the consequences ...

I wonder if the Locust parent species now specializes in biotechnology and psionics like the Liir did pre-enslavement, ironic since the Locust accident came from transcending carbon. But maybe it can be a little more than that:

I still think that the Locust parent species could make black powder fireworks even if their world is totally stripped, judging by the necessity of the C, N, and S and their derivative compounds to support life on the planet. Maybe they have ceremonies commemorating the legend of their space fairing. But you're the archeology MA Arinn so I'm sure you have something awesome there.

Telescopes and microscopes also not entirely out of the question if they're made out of leather or wood and glass. All you need is sand for the glass and the wood or leather base, plus some natural abrasive to shape the glass lens they had back in the renaissance when Galileo made those telescopes.
Last edited by Hari Seldon on Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elder Races

Postby kdonovan » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:33 am

RobAK801 wrote:The Asteroid Monitors are Morrigi made from their old empire.


I wondered about that - but if so why don't the Morrigi unlock them automatically like they do colony and asteroid traps and wreckage? I suppose Morrigi get a bonus to research unlocking them (relative to other (non-Zuul?) races). Also, a bit odd how AMs have such an emphasis on ballistics (and missiles) - hardly strengths of the Morrigi - though maybe the preference for energy weapons is new in recent millennia.
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Re: Elder Races

Postby Golden Yak » Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:29 pm

kdonovan wrote:
RobAK801 wrote:The Asteroid Monitors are Morrigi made from their old empire.


I wondered about that - but if so why don't the Morrigi unlock them automatically like they do colony and asteroid traps and wreckage? I suppose Morrigi get a bonus to research unlocking them (relative to other (non-Zuul?) races). Also, a bit odd how AMs have such an emphasis on ballistics (and missiles) - hardly strengths of the Morrigi - though maybe the preference for energy weapons is new in recent millennia.


The Monitors probably represent their first efforts at making space bases, which would make them reeeally ancient tech, a lot of which modern morrigi have lost. That would explain the difficulty in hot-wiring them and the relatively basic weaponry.
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