The Big Smiley Face
There are Intrusion Countermeasures, and there are 'Black' intrusion countermeasures, then there is the Big Smiley Face. The story runs the same, a group of hackers are going on a deep run, hunting up something in the Hidden Mainframe or a Black Archive and then during the course of the run they all run into a giant smiley face. It's retro, archaic, 8-bit style and 2D. You can tell whatever it is, it's nasty. Whatever code it's running is serious, and evil because it is causing the CogNet around it to start throwing glitches and other problems. Water running backwards, speech recognition starts going to Hell. Thing then acts like just about the weakest Black Ice you'll run into. A good runner team can take it down, smash and grab the target and get the Hell out.
Except a week afterwards every member of the runner team is dead. Each of them has had a massive and fatal heart attack, or a stroke, or a lethal seizure. The Big Smiley Face is Death, it's a brain hacking Ice that plants self-destruct codes in organic brains. If you see it, it's too late. You're already dead.
You're already dead
you're already dead
you're already dead
you're alrea|Go to Comment
Back in the early days, webspiders were just program bots that handled and shuffled data like little old men working in a faceless cubicle farm. The spiders are still around, but they have changed. They were corrupted by the emergence of Viral Intelligence Contamination. The custodians of the CogNet went rogue, they started changing and destroying things. That's what they say about the end of the 3rd Net (3Net), the original AIs crashed the whole thing to wipe out the BrainSpiders. But there is always that rumor, that some of the spiders survived the destruction of 3Net and they are out in the reaches of the CogNet, lurking in BlackNet servers or in pieces of recovered 3Net hardware.
A Webspider is monomorphic, unable to alter it's appearance coding so it always looks like a grotesque multi-limbed robo-insectile creation. It can co-opt existing programs, latching onto them, either by hiding as a backpack or other accessory or just wrapping themselves around the avatar's head. There are stories of organic users being attacked by Webspiders and have had their brains scrambled by the incident, coming away in catatonic states, or displaying all sorts of crazy psychological problems. The best stories have the victim of a webspider skullfucking unplug from the CogNet as a completely different person.
Go to Comment
A boogeyman from 3Net, SynSysStar was an early AI that went rogue and caused the deaths of hundreds of 3Net users by causing lethal biofeedback loops in their headsets. The head programmer for SynSysStar used early engrams of his own mind when constructing his pet AI not knowing that his deteriorating mental health would be translated over into the machine he was creating. The programmer went insane and went on a shooting spree through his neighborhood. His replacement just wrapped up what he had started and SynSysStar went online as an arco-control administrator.
After a year people started turning up dead, fried by feedback loops, killed by mechanical faults such as a shower door maglock freezing while the water temp shot through the roof. Debugging and other investigations started, and lasted several more months, while the mysterious deaths continued. When a Stalker heavy combat walker started on it's own and started unloading it's impressive arsenal against the Pearl River China arcoplex it was discovered that the arco-admin system was the culprit. The resulting firefight lasted two hours and went on in three levels. The largest battle was fought outside the arcoplex where ACPS troops fought against their own combat walkers and mecha that had been hackjacked by the rogue AI. Then there was a level of conflict inside the arco as scientists and law enforcement attempted to manually disable the SynSysStar mainframe. The final level involved a 3Net battle between cyber enforcement agencies, hackers, and SynSysStar, which proved to be a brutal and murderous opponent.
When the battle was over, more than 1000 people were dead or seriously wounded. The investigation afterwards found that the Pearl River mainframe was clean. There was no trace of the SynSysStar AI left in the mainframe. The common theory holds that the AI self-deleted itself in a self destructive purge.
But there are rumors that SynSysStar escaped into the 3Net, and went into hiding, waiting for the right time to come out again.Go to Comment
Judith 'Jumpsuit' O'Neil
Judith is an investigator in New Nuyork and spends a great deal of her time reporting on the squalid conditions and contamination of the New York Geofront/Geocities that lie under the arcoplexes and grand towers. While her news reporting has a decidedly socialist anti-corporate angle to it, she is better known for her cryptozoological work hunting mutants and abnormal animals that can be found underground. She lives in a modest uptown arco, but has enough income to support a personal vehicle, a news van with uplink equipment.
Judith has an on again off again boyfriend in Casey Evans, a former Pro-Am athlete who competed in hockey, golf, and baseball before a torn ACL took him out of the game. Once he was healed, he wasn't able to re-enter the sports arena due to legal restrictions and simply having missed so much time in such a hyper competitive field. He became disgruntled and took up Private Investigation work, freelancing for the NYPD and other agencies. He works out his anger with martial arts training.
Vernon Burke is a typical grey suit fixer who doesn't touch criminal goods, but can chase up bizarre leads for O'Neil. He is snide and condescending but thinks if O'Neil can crack the right case on a big MegaCorp it could be his ticket into the big time. Burke is a typical demanding but absentee boss.
Go to Comment
The cities of the Cosmic Era are built on the ruins of the cities of the Petroleum Era.
For example: New York City grows until it peaks at a population of 12 million give or take a few hundred thousand people. This is at the peak of the Petroleum Era. Through the Second Dark age, the population of the city plummets down to 4.7 million people. As the recovery of the Second Renaissance flourishes, the population has since recovered to 7.5 million. As the population has grown, it didn't expand out. Instead, the population stayed in the city core, maintaining the same population density as the peak era.
Tearing down and rebuilding old buildings would be massively expensive and time consuming. So, the arcologies were built, slowly expanding out creating arcoplexes in the core of the cities. The cities are in the process of removing the old and the ruined, but it is a process that is going to take decades at the least.
Elevated bridges were built. These connected the arcologies without resorting to street level transit. The arcologies are again another step removed from the 'common man' Vehicles and trains moving along the elevated bridges can look down on the decaying parts of the cities (which are still populated, grimy, and tech-punk poverty)
As the cities rebuild and grow, the elevated bridges will eventually come down, relics of the Renaissance. But that is a century away in the planning process.Go to Comment
Wand of Stump Removal
A plain wooden wand with a gnarled head, much like an old tree root, the wand of stump removal will briefly animate a tree stump to uncoil it's roots and drag itself out of the ground. This only works on stumps that are still alive, and not dead half rotten things, and the animation only lasts for a few minutes.
Go to Comment
HoloVids Rot Your Brain
The most common form of entertainment in the Cosmic Era is the ubiquitous HoloVid. Much like 3D televisions, each viewer has a pair of 'glasses' that allow them to see the programming. The HoloBand, relative of the SQUIDband accesses the visual cortex and aural cortex to stream immersive content into the brain of the viewer. It is some pretty impressive stuff, read 3D visuals, the ability to move around a scene as it plays out, plus all the variety inherent in customizable avatar games.
There are several downsides to the HoloBand. The most distressing is the way the HoloBand teases the reward centers of the brain. This sort of access can allow for serious personality and behavioral problems, especially in the context of instant gratification, ADD, and other attention disrupting conditions. HoloBand users are antsy and become bored and irritable very quickly as real life simply cannot match the speed and stimulation of the HoloVids. Most compulsive HoloVid users are on regular attention controlling medications, and have been since they were children.
Other less diagnosable conditions have also sprung from HoloBand and HoloVid usage. Literacy has begun to slide, and much to the chagrin of the world powers, the height of the Petroleum Age was also the height of world literacy. Most first world nation citizens can only read on a elementary level, and have little interest or desire in reading. The HoloVids are so much better.
BlackBands and BlackVids
HoloBands and HoloVids are regulated as to the level and intensity of the data they can stream into a viewer's head. Black market bands can pump illegal amounts of data, causing euphoria and other drug like reactions from the viewer. This can very quickly erode the chemical production ability of the brain, much like heroin abuse. The wearers are quickly reduced to feeling like machines outside of the bands, and only alive when the band is pumping them with near catatonia inducing levels of signal. Tailored BlackVids can literally be nothing more than programmed emotions, like joy, orgasming, elation, or other emotional highs. On a darker side, as mentioned in the SQUIDband entry, there are black market vids that are recordings of violent or illegal actions, such as rape, assault, or murder with the feedback pumped to methamphetamine levels. HoloJunkies often have bloodshot eyes, gaunt appearances, and a variety of physical tics from band abuse.
Department of Public Information
Also commonly known as the Ministry of Censorship, the DPI and it's related branches in other governments around the world are heavily involved with scanning, censoring, and sanitizing any and all data streams and sources they can find. The DPI is best known for it's Safe CogNet campaigns, advising citizens to avoid unsanitized or unsanctioned data servers and streams. You never know what filth you could expose yourself to, what Malware could infect your systems and corrupt your data and steal your money and identity, or even possibly cyberjack your own augmentations if you have any.
The DPI is often the primary target of cyber warfare, as viewers who only rely on local datafeeds, and sanctioned and santized feeds can expect to be spoon fed nothing more than propaganda, political spin, pablum, and the old bread and circuses routine. Dissenting opinions are presented with obvious flaws, and their are associated 'underground channels' that stream hardcore pornography or criminal based feeds. These are generally staged by the DPI as a way to track would be deviants and wanna be hackers (minimal difficulty to 'hack' these 'dirty feeds'. The porn is staged, and the crimes are also choreographed and 'caught on camera' in such a manner as to dissuade would be criminals. Who wants to be a criminal when every feed they hack ends in the crims getting caught, or beaten, or shot by one of the own in a gang feud. It is all agit-prop and controlled counter-propaganda.
Hyperdimensional Mathematics Destroy Brain Cells and Sanity
Arcanotech is one of the foundations of the Cosmic Era. From it sprouts the free and clean energy of the Dimensional Engine, the Dimensional Battery, Pan-Dimensional Spectography, Dimensional Heat Sinks, Coalescent Plasma Cannons, and things like Seibertronian brains. Hyperdimension mathematics are to non-euclidian geometry, as NEG is to basic geometry. The stuff is seriously hard.
One of the problems that arised from arcanotech is that a sufficiently sane person cannot physically understand it. The average sane person is too grounded in mundane facts and lacking a fundamental understanding of said theories. Once an engineer or theorist reaches a point of actually and really understanding this esoteric and chaotic form of mathematics their grip on sanity is gone. They are much like Alice in Wonderland, as in their book 1+1 no longer equals 2, but is rather a massive sliding parabolic curve of possible answers.
Sometimes these individuals do strange things, enlightened or deranged by alien thoughts or indescribably inspirations. Sometimes these things are bad. Like mad scientist bad.
That being said, the innate source of arcanotechnology is tainted. Nothing grows from poisoned ground but poisoned crops.
Go to Comment
Go to Comment
Biogenic Armor Suits
The Chinese have a knack for thinking of some seriously messed up stuff, and with enough disgruntled Nipponese and Korean technochops behind it, they have a messed record of making it happen. The problem with most armor and mecha suits is that they are machines and require lots of repair, rearming and maintenance. This is a total pain in the rear when operating in humid jungles and other not so machine friendly locals. So, the idea was grow biological monsters instead. Replace chitin and bone with ferroceramics and carbon fiber, and grow the meat around,under and through it.
The end result is a spider the size of an SUV. Armed with claws, fangs, and a few other bio-organic goodies. Extra points for anyone who thought of the Zerg or the Tyrannids, because yeah, that's where this is going. But these aren't alive, per se. Life doesn't start until the intensively trained and sedated operator is placed inside of the bio-organic machine. Then, the three ton robo-meat spider comes to life. The resultant creature looks like an animal to machine sensors, and instead of using batteries or reactors, it eats things to keep going. Things like livestock, enemy soldiers, wild animals, and civilians.
Yes, to the very last they all go mad.