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Planetary Romance on Venus - native species and mode of transportation.

GoldenH

Darmok & Gilad at Tenagra
Validated User
I am considering developing this further into a full setting and maybe running a game based on it, so I'd appreciate any feedback.

Inspired by John Carter of Mars (and the books, which are so much better than the movie), I've been pondering what and how to do planetary romance. Of course, doing anything on Mars itself seems a bit trite- even scientists have been examining Mars with a close eye. But so little can be done on venus, after all, even our best probes would hardly last a day, much less years. It seems like Life couldn't possibly exist there. Yet so much can be learned from Venus, a planet that it is thought, was once much like Earth, but was destroyed by a runaway greenhouse effect due to it's water evaporating.

Then let us imagine that, much like Mars, there was an ancient civilization of aliens. Multiple races exist side by side. The dominant race in later days is the Angima (angee-ma), Insectoid in nature, with gleaming black carapaces; they are less human and more like ants, with mandibles and beady eyes. Controlled by psychic eminations from their queen, they live in giant hive structures made of dirt and stone. These 'mounds' are artificially constructed in symbiosis with another form of life, the Anigmus (a-nig-mus), who they coevolved with. The Anigmus is a large fungus-like creature, each one is absolutely enormous. Although incredibly intelligent, the creature is not sentient and has no ability to move. While it is capable of devouring its prey, it is most efficent when it is able to absorb sunlight, which it uses to perform complex chemical reactions. The Anigma find these Anigmus, and build mounds beneath them, pushing them up high to the upper reaches of the atmosphere, where the fungus can reach the sunlight above the heavy mists of Venus. In return, the Anigmus allows the Anigma to feed on excess fluids, and use its vast intelligence by psychic link to store knowledge and information, and make difficult computations and statistical predictions.

Anigma live in a strict caste society, their role determine by birth, and enforced by the psychic emenations of their Queen. Besides the common worker, soldier, and drones, there is also a dual-gendered caste of computers, who have enhanced psychic abilities to be used to meld with the Anigmus, and the royal caste, also dual-gendered, who represent the hive to other species on this planet and beyond. Within each caste, of course, there is quite a lot of mobility. Workers may be in industry and architecture, or may also be artists. Soldiers generally find themselves in beureucratic positions, and those of finance. Drones often become explorers, and being able to fly, often end up in far away hermitages where they consider philsophy, reason and religion. Computers not only tend to the Anigmus, but also learn how to set aside parts of their minds as free-roving daemons, collectively called the Zohan. The Royal caste often has very little power, but as diplomats, and entertainers, often convince the queen that it is time for a change in fashion or logistics. The Queen of course, rules, and while her power is not absolute, her psychic emenations surely mold the minds of those she touches.

When it is time for a new Queen, they will swarm and split off, to find a new Anigmus to raise to the heavens. In these latter days of Venus, however, this is a doomed fate; there are few new Anigmus these days, and the environment is beginning to fail. It is not uncommon for a new Queen to go mad and disrupt the song of her followers, and lay swathes of terrible mutants instead of simply accepting her fate to die. Some more practical minded Queens will send scouts to find new Anigmus, and not finding any, have taking to eating their daughters rather than let this fate occur. But this is the most horrible act of gluttony, and is the most terrible secret they can have. The oceans of acid are beginning to swell (acids sucked from the air by the Anigmus), and the planet becomes more and more volcanic as the temperature is increasing. While the end has been slowed, they must eventually fail, and the terrible fate of Venus' destruction come to pass.


The other races are little empowered to do anything about it. Humanity, for it exists on most planets in the galaxy, seeks to eke a existance on the edge of those oceans that are still freshwater, and hold on to what technology remains from the distant age. This alien humanity is obsessed with the stars, and observing the other planets in hope of technology and ideas that might let them save their home. They build mighty archologies that tower far into the thin atmosphere of the planet, and launch satellites to try and better understand their own planet before it is too late. They know of Earth, but, our technology cannot help them: and so they conspire to keep us from finding them with our technology. Alien Humanity's best hope is the Zohan.

The Zohan are entities of pure psychic energy; literally, a aspect of a person's own personality given life and purpose and cut off from oneself. They are apparently mysterious, shy entities to those who do not know them, for they live in the sky, or the oceans or the vast vegetation of the lands. But the truth is that they are completely understood by the races of Venus. A man who partially imagines himself a warrior princess may find that part of him and cast it out with the purpose to defend him, and forever after his line be saved by a guardian angel. Or a tinkerer who is out of hands, may find the part of him that represents his curiousity and mischevousness, and giving them life, find elves have helped produce his shoes. These psychic entities are full creatures of mind and consciousness, but being only aspects of the one that spawned them, cannot find deeper complexity or purpose than their own nature without merging together and losing their individuality. They have shared this with their creators, and new Zohan, created with the purpose of solving these problems, have found the way.

These Zohan have hatched a plan, cunning in its simplicity. They are in need of heroes, and of a new way of existing; and like their human ancestors, they look to the stars for help. They have created a lensing effect, of the Queens' psychic projections out into space. And when these projections reach an alien mind, that have not felt the forces of psychic domination, it shatters. The greater part of their consciousness rebelling, and striking out at the force that touched them. So strong this is, that these entities manifest themselves on Venus, clothed in their flesh, almost completely of their own mind, and astounded at the new world. Zohan themselves, but full individuals, united in one mind. The native Zohan have drawn back as they always do, to watch and guide, and learn how these psychic entities work that they may emulate them in fusion without losing their own identies. And maybe, these heroes from other planets will somehow save their own...
 

GoldenH

Darmok & Gilad at Tenagra
Validated User
Well, I don't know about John Carter, if I accidentally copied something from a book I haven't read yet ;)
AFAIK there ar eno giant psychic transmitters on mars though!

But I figure, you could get a pretty workable situation, where /parts/ of your personality can literally leave the body. As a bonus, it gives you a Hitherbyesque magic system right off the top - manifesting parts of your personality, and gives you a sci-fi feel,. some crazy pseudo-psychology, and explains what happens to your body back home. basically large parts of your consciousness gone, but you'd still run on the parts that you left behind - so you might be a great worker, or suddenly really able to focus on art with a lot of the other 'distractions', or maybe just be an amoral ruthless buisness/political machine bastard... and so you get a lot more interesting stories to come home to, instead of just 'oh.. lying down in a cave/crypt for 100 years' which is great for john carter, but might not be what you want to do.

And then, you know. You come home and BAM! Spiritual Awakening! share your story with the world! Or use your power for good... or do you throw your mind into the void of space to see what else is out there?
 

Epengar

of the Clan of the Sweet Singers of Nakome
Validated User
Seems pretty nifty to me!

How advanced is the material technology of the Angima? Has it declined? Is there the same sense of lost glory as on Mars, or is it more a sense of potential being lost? Of races dying before they even get the chance for glory? For inspiration, you might look for "Swarm" a short story by Bruce Stirling that appeared in his collection called Crystal Express. It's more science fiction than you have in mind, but still good for some ideas, I think.

I like the Zohan idea (though the name reminds of a regrettable Adam Sandler movie). It gives some mileage to the pulp conceit of the ultimate power of concentration and will!
 

Cerulean Lion

Social Justice Christian
Validated User
Perhaps there is a race, or a faction, that wants to capture Zohans, hoping to learn how to make them more powerful and at the same time more controllable. Perhaps the visitors from other worlds are hunted by these Zohan - enslavers, as superior experimental material.
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Some more notes on the Venusian ecopocalypse:

Mars died a cold, diffuse death. The air and water simply ebbed away until nothing was left. Venus experienced the precise opposite. Too much of everything.

It probably began naturally. Venus had always benefited from volcanic cooling, a peculiar fluke that allowed life to flourish on a planet so close to the Sun. Constant volcanic eruptions spewed ash and sulfur into the upper atmosphere, creating clouds that reflected the baking sunlight and kept the days cool. Ash formed rich soils where jungles flourished, and mighty creatures evolved to graze upon them. The seas absorbed the acidic emissions and deposited them as volatile salts on the shores of the two continents, which earthlings now know as northern Ishtar and southern Aphrodite.

But constant vulcanism was a problem to the early angima. Their fields would vanish below unpredictable ash blizzards; their mighty towers would collapse during frequent earthquakes. So they sought to change the planet's volatile heart. They had no geoscience in those days, and their efforts were guided by superstition and blind chance. They tried to plug the volcanoes, but this simply caused larger, more disastrous eruptions. They tried to dig pressure vents, but the diggers died flooding once-fertile lands in boiling mud. Eventually they happened upon a solution by accident.

The angima thought they were putting out the fire below the world. They dug vast bores below the ocean floor. Water flooded into the interfaces of continental plates, lubricating their action. Earthquakes died away. The volcanic pressure dropped; the energy was now absorbed by the vast momentum of tectonic plates.

And so the solar shield precipitated out of the sky, and Venus began to warm.

It took centuries before they noticed. At first, it was a period of prosperity. Growing temperatures caused higher rainfall and more verdant growth. Cultures grew and Venus prospered.

But eventually it became too hot. Storms and hurricanes swept out from the equator. Venus' once even temperatures were upset; the poles that had never known frost were assaulted with blizzards, and snow swept south.

The storm-wracked scientists of the day sought a solution. Rather than reverse the geoengineering feat of their ancestors, however, they elected to create a new cloud shield. They would do it with soaring chimneys and vast water-evaporation plains, building greenhouses the size of countries and pumping water vapour directly into the upper atmosphere.

Somebody tried to warn them that water vapour was a greenhouse gas, but they didn't listen.

So the clouds returned, but this time they did not shield the planet. They cocooned it, trapped more heat. Venus began to grow warmer still. Eventually mobs wrecked the greenhouse plants and toppled the tall chimneys, but it was too late. Venus was on a one-way path to a heat catastrophe. The oceans along the northern shores of Aphrodite could be seen gently steaming. Sea levels began to drop, and the acid concentration of the water began to increase as water left the system.

Venus is now in the grips of one last period of riotous growth. Jungles spring up to unprecedented height and thickness, creeping out across the ever more exposed seabed. In time, however, the planet shall grow too hot to support life, its atmosphere too thick and sulfurous. Already life at sea level is uncomfortable, in the steaming acid bogs of an ever-retreating shoreline.

Venus will die of too much of everything.
 

GoldenH

Darmok & Gilad at Tenagra
Validated User
Seems pretty nifty to me!

How advanced is the material technology of the Angima? Has it declined? Is there the same sense of lost glory as on Mars, or is it more a sense of potential being lost? Of races dying before they even get the chance for glory? For inspiration, you might look for "Swarm" a short story by Bruce Stirling that appeared in his collection called Crystal Express. It's more science fiction than you have in mind, but still good for some ideas, I think.

I like the Zohan idea (though the name reminds of a regrettable Adam Sandler movie). It gives some mileage to the pulp conceit of the ultimate power of concentration and will!

Thanks :D

I believe the Angima would have some Gaslight technology, think steampunk and victorian electricity but using natural gas instead, not having much fossil fuels.

I would go with both the lost glory and dead-before-its-time. There would be a lot more uninhabitable ruins. Mars dies a slow, suffocating death - Venus dies a death of violent volcanic eruptions, acid baths, the apocalypse of a massively co-evolved ecosystem gone selfish due to mutation and cultural decline. Most of the ruins would be Angima or other strange aliens, while the ones getting killed off early at the humans, probably only recently evolved because venus' human habitation was probably somewhat short, but it could have been inhabitable by prehuman societies much earlier (there would be dinosaurs of course, so these humans are basically caveman who stole technology and psychic powers from the other intelligent races) - maybe the heroes share the dream of space flight, and they decide to travel to earth before their planet corrodes - who knows!

As far as sci-fi, I loved the cultural insight into the tharks from the Carter novels, and its comparisons to earth society (the big thing the movie was missing imo, but you can understand why Disney would be offended by that message, of all companies), and finding a similar level of detail to pour into the alien races of venus is one of the design goals. So I'll totally check out that story you reccomend, thanks :)

I am sorry about the word Zohan.. yes I did a google search on it (bleh), haven't seen the movie. But I wanted a Z-word, it needs to sound RIGHT for a mysterious and apparently omnipotent (but actually not) species of light-beings. I guess my other options are like, Zohar, Zordon, Zoltan, Zoltar... if anyone has a similar-sounding name without the connotations i'd be happy to listen.
 

GoldenH

Darmok & Gilad at Tenagra
Validated User
Perhaps there is a race, or a faction, that wants to capture Zohans, hoping to learn how to make them more powerful and at the same time more controllable. Perhaps the visitors from other worlds are hunted by these Zohan - enslavers, as superior experimental material.
Hm that would be pretty cool. I'd probably say they're from another planet, say Jupiter. Jupterian overlords come to plunder the psychic resources of the inner planets, to work in the slave mines for radioactive diamonds deep in the crushing depths of their world...
Their gaseous forms swimming invisibly through the clouds, only occasionlly throwing themselves into the upper atmosphere to reveal their terrifying, non-euclidean bulk, like the Colours told of in the ancient Necronomicon...
 

GoldenH

Darmok & Gilad at Tenagra
Validated User
Some more notes on the Venusian ecopocalypse:

Mars died a cold, diffuse death. The air and water simply ebbed away until nothing was left. Venus experienced the precise opposite. Too much of everything.
Hmm awesome.. most of that is definately stealable.

The thermodynamicist in me says that you can't cool a planet's core with water though. That would just transfer energy directly to the planet's atmosphere. This could work, in say, the later stages of ecological collapse. Trying to build the cloud cover, they convert the planet's oceans to steam. This could be going on *right now*, and people start seeing the oceans sink slowly at first (as the test runs begin) and then more rapidly as the project goes into full operation. Fighting through tunnels going to the center of the earth to try and stop the planet's destruction. And instead of acting as a cloud cover - the water vapor is simply torn away by the solar wind, leaving the planet with no water left. No rains, no nothing except slow death.

We would possibly need something else to cause the boom, though. I kind of feel like the chimneys should've been spewing something. Perhaps ozone would be all it takes. Or perhaps - they could have tried literally ejecting the planet's core beyond the atmosphere, and the heat with it, to spawn in Venus' orbit a number of moons.

Its planetary romance, you gotta have lots of moons.
 
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