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January 29, 2013, 3:12 am

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7 Things About Writing for the Cosmic Era


A very brief set of guidelines for writing material in or for the Cosmic Era setting

1. Everything is for Sale

There are multiple economies operating inside multiple nations, everything is for sale. Everything. Let me re-emphasize that. EVERYTHING is for sale, if you know where to look and have the money to pay for it. 

  • Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are passe. There is electronic sex, CogNet sex, electronic drugs, and music has fads that last for days and weeks rather than years.
  • Human trafficking is present, both legally (clones, genetic pets) and illegal (mind control, conditioning, outright slavery. These again are too easy.
  • Emotions, memories, and experiences are for sale. Murder, virginity, pride, humility, euphoria, terror, vacations never taken, dates with celebrity personas and media characters. Dinner with Bruce Wayne, kill a house full of nubile sorority girls in a rape murder spree.
  • The core concept isn't things that are wrong or illegal to commercialize, it is that anything can be bought and sold. Dreams, the experience of drug use without the drugs, abstract ideas and concepts, fantasies of ego, sexuality and accomplishment. Replacing traumatic childhoods with Leave it to Beaver, the horrible ex replaced with a two year fling with a starlet, or a job on Mars.

2. Life is Cheap

There is immortality through cloning, clone series, cyborgs, and there are androids, gynoids, mechanoids, and a dozen other things that can take the place of one normal human being. Dead people aren't tragedies, they are tallies in the loss column in the ledger.

  • Organs and entire bodies can be cloned, and with brain transplants and artificial brains there is immortality for the wealthy. The poor can sell their organs, and replacement parts can be bought, gifted, or even financed. Organ repo is a bitch.
  • Robots (androids etc) are able to replace humans in menial and servile roles, from store stockers to soldiers. They are better at these roles and despite the Tycho convention machine and robot commerce laws, many people live in poverty because machines literally took their job.
  • Viral Intelligence and Supercomputers run most of the CogNet and most of the traffic is between machines. Human interaction and human to human interaction are less than 40% of all net usage. 
  • Dead people can be indefinitely replaced by means of a cerebral flash engram and a cloning machine. The glass tank is the new womb. It is faster, more efficient, and skips almost all of that wasteful childhood physically maturing. Androids can be built with a flash copy of said brain, skipping the growth process entirely.
  • Everything is expendable. Machines are replaceable, people are replaceable.

3. Sex is in Everything

One of the biggest and most effective advertising techniques is Sex Appeal. In the Cosmic Era this is ramped up to 11/10. 

  • Sex was the foundation of the S3 system, which allowed people to emotionally and biochemically fornicate electronically without ever touching one another. Immersive pornography was born. 
  • SQUIDbands allow for the buying, selling, and trade of sexual experiences. 
  • Following the Population Contraction of the Second Dark age, the world population fell to a level comparative to 1912. With the demand for goods and services, the population has to grow. There are various government programs rewarding parents having kids, subsidizing breeding, and selling the hell out of sex so people are encouraged to go out, screw, and get pregnant.
  • Genetic modification has become so quick and safe that there are injections for bigger breasts, hair replacement, a larger penis, and fat burning pills really do burn fat. Many of these are cheap enough that even the majority of the endimic poor can afford or have access to them.
  • Sex Sells is one of the biggest advertizing techniques currently. In the cosmic era, billboard level adverts and data stream commercials can have full frontal nudity. Nudity has become in many aspects destigmatized since it isn't virtual sex, just an image. 

4. Frantic Pacing

The Cosmic Era moves with a frantic pace. It is set to Dubstep and electronic music.

  • Queue up a list of Skrillex, Deadmau5, Daft Punk, and Justice for the pacing of the Cosmic Era. It's fast, it's loud, it's electronic and add in audio sampling.
  • The Cosmic Era is brazen, bold, and unashamed. This is an era where aircraft can change shape, there are giant robots, and every fantasy is for sale, while strippers and pornstars are major celebrities. 

5. Our Values are Antique

Religion/traditional is in decline, family values and the concept of the nuclear family are in decline. Self control and restraint are rare. The old taboos (nudity and violence) are everyday and the new new taboos are things we dont think about (materialism, religious expression, individual rights)

  • Private Home Ownership, an antique notion that required massive sprawing infrastructures to support, just so a percentage of the population could have a little square piece of grass and a few trees. Wasteful and decentralized. The new norm is collectivization. The arcos are the core, the new cities grow out from them. Only the rich or squatters own personal private homes.
  • Private Automobile Ownership, also an antique notion. With collectivization, there was no need for extensive roadways, no extensive roadways, no need for large numbers of automobiles. In the Cosmic Era, owning a car is similar to owning a horse today. Expensive, enjoyable, but 100% a luxury level item.
  • Human Rights, the modern era is obsessed with the notion that every living person has god given inalienable rights. In the Cosmic Era, there are clones, robots, AI, and rights are no longer handed out like fliers, they are something that has to be earned. In the Atlantic Federation there are two tiers of people, residents and citizens. Citizens enjoy strong legal rights and access to government programs. Residents have a reduced list of rights, and very limited access to programs and assistance. 
  • Materialism, a hallmark of the petroleum era was the constant acquisition of physical goods, commercial hoarding. This was destroyed by the scarcity and pragmatism of the Second Dark Age, and conspicuous consumption is frowned upon, unless it is virtual/online then it is not only acceptable, it can be an occupation.
  • Conservative Religious Values, especially those regarding homosexuality, women's reproductive rights, and theological arguments. Men can have children in a tank, fertility can be turned on and off with a pill or shot, and theological theories can be proven and disproven. The soul has been photographed with pandimensional photography, parapsychics have demonstrated the ability to lay on hands and heal the sick, and arcanotechnology is delving into what does happen to the soul after death because it does indeed go somewhere.

6. Nothing is Real

The CogNet is an electronic fantasy, most food is synthetic or artificial, and wood and metal are largely replaced by plastic (furniture) relationships are fake, sex is fake, and it's all pretend.

  • The CogNet is the largest consensual electronic fantasy ever created. It is populated with viral intelligences that mimic humans for conversation, or assisting in business transactions, it is run and patrolled by AISC and their minions, within the confines of it's electronic reality, anyone can be anything.
  • Food Production, meat is slow and wasteful to grow on the hoof. It is faster to grow mycoprotein that is textured like chicken or pork, or using cloning machines to foster the explosive growth of animal specific tumor cells, such as cancerous salmon muscle tissue. Ditto for plants, a small number of fast growing plants, and bulk grown plants (algae, soy, wheat) can be produced, flavored, textured, colored, and molded to create artificial food goods.
  • Wood is a rare building material, most surviving forests are protected, or are being restored. 'Wood' is now wood textured extruded plastic composites, grown from algal sources. Metal is likewise conserved in the recycling system since hard rock mining has vastly declined on Earth. Old landfills are mined and recycled, as are the hulks of abandoned cities.
  • People are fake, again, there are clones, androids, and gynoids. This can range from replacing a deceased child with a replacement bot, or spending the money to buy your fantasy mate who you can unplug when they annoy you.

7. Everything Under the Surface is Horrible

Every new advancement in society or technology has come at a terrible price. Arcanotech is poisonous, while social advances have their own cost. No one cares about wardrobe malfunctions when for $19.95/5 minutes you can SimScrew that actress/actor on TV. Children can be grown in vats, pets can have robot brains, the kitchen cooks it's own food, and who needs a spouse when all those emotional needs can be met with a magic cube?

  • All of the advances in biotechnology have made a longer, healthier life possible. The most common uses are sexual or cosmetic in use. People have as a result become more superficial and judgmental. There is also much less reason for long term positive health decisions since everything is replaceable. People overindulge in food, and then pill it away, overindulge in activity and keep themselves hopped up on energy drinks, and harmful side effects of drugs don't matter. Refinance that new liver, keep drinking.
  • The Cosmic Era is built on arcanotech, and arcanotech is from it's very core tainted. It draws from a mathematical cosmic source of human suffering and misery and this taints everything it does. The CogNet is biochemically and psychologically addictive. Things created of, and from arcanotech are almost always capable of being used as weapons, forms of torture, or to make people negative and callous. Fuck you, I don't need you, I have 500 virtual women who will do my every whim, a bottle of pills to give me a huge wang, and a little black box that has a Happiness button on it. I don't need you, I don't want you. I hate you and your constant pathetic needs.
  • War is Glamourized, the mech jock is a hero, the super soldiers are celebrities with their own fun clubs, and militarism is a common component in the media. The only thing more present in entertainment than guns and violence are tits and non-graphic sex. (graphic sex is reserved for Immersive and Virtual Sex Parlours). Soldiers are robots, or criminals, or war spoils greedy mercenaries. Cool guys look at explosions.
  • The biggest casualty of a largely consequence free existence is care and compassion. In the Cosmic Era people rarely care about each other. Interpersonal apathy is the norm, and the 'troll' is no longer a term because that is what the majority of people have become. 

The optimal mixture is 1 part Over the Top, 1 part personal cynicism, and 1 part Epic Awesomeness

Additional Ideas (1)

Justice - Civilization

I looked up the video and it is awesome

Justice - One Minute to Midnight

No video, but this is the theme song of the Cosmic Era aerospace corps. Cue music, image is a  variable tech fighter, wings raked back and engines tucked tight against the fuselage. It seems to be hanging perfectly still, but its creeping up on hypersonic velocity as it hurdles through a blacksky

Skrillex - Reptile's Theme

Video is an excellent demonstration of the concept of Escalation in the Cosmic Era. Also, seibertronians, cyborgs and the inhumanity shown to man, friend and foe alike. The song carries the tone and the implied violence as well.

Skrillex - Bangarang

The Peter Pan sampling and video theme are interesting, and the recurrent theme of lawless behavior just growing fit. I dig the song as well

Trailer for Tron Legacy feat Daft Punk - Derezzed

CogNet, and finding legacy caches from the fallen 3rdNet, arcologies, hyperlighting, and of course, the Armory Sirens

Deadmau5 - Moar Ghosts'n'Such

After I am gone, your earth will be free to go on as one of my satellites and just how its going to be


2013-01-31 12:23 PM » Link: [7198#85054|text]
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Comments ( 12 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Ted
January 29, 2013, 7:27
I think this helps set the tone that you're working for, although it seems a little thin on actual content.
January 29, 2013, 7:59
I'm thinking of instead of adding more specific detail, I would add a fluff paragraph to each entry as a physical demonstration of each of the seven principles listed
January 29, 2013, 11:58
Do you think George Lucas had one of these when he sold SW to disney?

I like Ted, and like Ted, would like to see more. I like the fluff paragraphs...and if not fluff then discuss the narrative goals which requires the setting to possess these features.
January 29, 2013, 17:10
I fully intend to answer both of your requests, and I want to add both fluff text and concrete narrative and fundamental goals
January 29, 2013, 16:12
Only voted
Voted axlerowes
January 30, 2013, 22:00
This is a fantastic roleplaying tool. It deserves more of a write up then I am giving it. This sets the narrative of the cosmic era well above a justification for the convergence of genre, nostalgic extrapolations and specific media references that is much of the content. It deserves a longer commentary which I will get to, but a game that sets out to explore these topics is more than a game and it is more than fantasy and escapism.
Voted Murometz
January 31, 2013, 18:50
This is as good a primer on a world as i can imagine. You get a sense of everything and society's zeitgeist
Voted Forganthus
February 7, 2013, 20:18
No, this is perfect. This SHOULD be thin on content. It's a well-written description of the themes. Every setting should have one these.

Also, I have heard every single one of these songs, and maybe I'm biased.

Voted Dossta
March 8, 2013, 14:23
Well deserving of a 5. It provides the detail needed to explore each of the setting's major themes, yet doesn't overstay its welcome. What a splendidly horrible world you have built, Scras. I wish more settings had a guide like this.
March 29, 2013, 10:15
1. Everything is for Sale

At least until the alien invasion hits and the it is a flat out war for survival. Indeed it is war humanity is alway fighting via proxy. It is obvious that the A.I.s have managed to find ways to wed war and profit but what if war became less profitable. Would M12 allow peace to reign, all be it a profitable peace, if it made the planet more vunerable?

2. Life is Cheap

Yes because M12 has done a cost benifet analysis and found that millions of deaths now will save billions upon billions in generations to come. It is not so much cheap as it already been borrowed against by the powers behind the thrones.

3. Sex is in Everything

Keeps people distracted from the alien invasion...I guess...which has very little to do with sex...unless the aliens are going weaponize sex.

4. Frantic Pacing
-except for the alien invasion and the M12 conspiracy, that is glacial

5. Our Values are Antique

I love that your values stared with home and car ownership...did you vote for Ron Paul?

6.Nothing is real

Except the alien invasion

7.Everything under the surface is horrible

Yes, but as Cheka says it is a necessary evil...defeat the alien threat. So i suppose it isn't completely horrible.
Voted Silveressa
January 18, 2015, 20:38
Love these tips, although I would title it more "Things about GMing and Playing in the Cosmic Era since it's of just as much value to those rping in the setting as to us authors, and those who aren't writers might otherwise pass over this excellent article.

I like how it highlights the over all style of life without getting too bogged down in details, and some of the concepts can be readily adapted to other cyberpunk genres without much difficulty.
Voted crucifiction
January 19, 2015, 21:00
It lacks the hope I look for in fiction, but this is really well written. Well done.

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       By: Dozus

Rich Romans raised fish in private pools at their villas. A favorite fish was lamprey, a parasitic fish which sucks off blood and flesh but made an excellent meal. A particuarly gruesome punishment for slaves was to be thrown into the lamprey pool, where their flesh was ripped from the bone by swarms of the jawless fish.

Ideas  ( Society/ Organization ) | August 21, 2006 | View | UpVote 2xp

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