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🎨 Creative Setting riff: FTL culture clash.

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
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#1
The Galaxy core is a familiar thing, a great multi-species federation full of members with advanced industrialisation using high tech spaceships to transit the unimaginable gulfs of space. Since their foundation, while they have met foes, they have never imagined that there was any other way to traverse the galaxy.

The Wataru nomads are stranger to our eyes. Nomadic wanderers in nebulous tribes of differing species. They cross the galaxy but have no idea. To them, they simply follow the shamans along songlines and world paths living off the land. To the Wataru there is only the world, and sometimes they feel heavy, others light, sometimes they hunt under one sun, others many, sometimes they hunt elk, others jewelled shelled insects just as large, sometimes grass or something like it is green and grows in blades like strands of fur, others dappled orange-red and growing in a spongy crust. That they are actually stepping between worlds is a thing they have never imagined.

What happens when the 2 cultures meet?
 

s/LaSH

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#2
The obvious answer is that the Galaxy Core uses sophisticated research methods to study the Wataru and quickly understands everything.

So I wouldn't do that.

Instead, I'd give the analytic edge to the Wataru. Their astrogation may be nonexistent, their sense of spatial arrangement awful, but their ability to analyse where they actually are is necessarily vast. For example, when a bunch of Wataru wander out of the hydroponics bay on a Galaxy Core cruiser, they'll look around and go, "Ah, low microbial index, that's odd. Everybody tune your disease suppression charms to max until we can get a good look at the immune systems of the locals. We don't want to introduce a pandemic to a vulnerable population." They have no concept of an artificial environment, but they do know a whole lot about how life works.

(Also I'm assuming the Wataru have fixed a bunch of the stuff that would affect hunter-gatherers, like most of their children dying of disease and malnutrition. A combination of outright magic and sophisticated logistics would work, so while their actual food comes from rummaging in bushes and poking animals with spears and can be very irregular, they will trade or share supplies across entire worlds so that nobody goes hungry.)
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
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#3
Yeah I think, to have this as anything but a 30-minute prime directive episode the Wataru's own way of life has to be every bit as sophisticated (If utterly alien to) that of the GC, and as incomprehensible to a familiar high tech culture as their sophisticated devices are to the world wandering Wateru in their tribes.

So we need conflict, figure this meet is happening 1 of 2 ways, and possibly both at once. You have the GC expanding out into worlds crossed by Wataru songlines, you have Wataru with no sense at all of the lands being a possession suddenly intruding upon GC worlds.

You, can't imprison a Wataru shaman, the ones who lead tribes along songlines. It can't be done. If they are at all conscious the songline between jail and 'not in jail' is easy as a lullaby, and if you forcibly incapacitate one their dreaming state will call to their tribe or an allied tribes nighttime anchor song. Incapacitate a whole tribe? The Shaman vanishes first, and he'll be back either to rescue his people one by one or with friends to punish the aggression.

Edit: I am also right there with you on the Wataru having a far higher standard of living and of force multiplication than their way of life would make you think, the goal is to have the Wataru and the GC equivalent, but quite incompatibly alien to each other.
 
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MoonHunter

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#4
The Wataru obviously have what will translate as techno-spirits. These are AIs who have adopted the traditional peoples. The techno spirits lost their Original Peoples due to something... probably because their people became too sophisticated and kept themselves distracted from day to day life and society. (In fact one of their last original people probably gave them direction to protect and provide for a traditional people. ) They are what give the Wataru their ability to use technology, without knowing too much about it. So charms are mini-tech items. Spells are requests to the techno-spirits. The spirits will help them, but not "do it for them". So, they can use the technology - understand some of it - and still be "in the moment of life". If someone of advanced technology tries to harm the people of their care, they will probably pull out technology that will give GC Pause.

If you want to twist this. Some group from another galaxy is invading/ (or doing an incursion) and kicking the GC butt/ posterior. The Wataru will swoop in and take care of them. Part of it as Hunters (augmented by tech) and part of it as the technospirits using their tech or changing GC tech. They will rain terror upon these invaders.

The AI will translate a chilling reminder. "This will be the state of things. Eventually your "parents" fall to themselves or just the weight of time. We the children (implying the machines of society) will be there to care for you and for other... to keep you in your bests state (implied hunter gatherers), allowing you to truly live.
 
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Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
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#5
The Wataru obviously have what will translate as techno-spirits. These are AIs who have adopted the traditional peoples. The techno spirits lost their Original Peoples due to something... probably because their people became too sophisticated and kept themselves distracted from day to day life and society. (In fact one of their last original people probably gave them direction to protect and provide for a traditional people. ) They are what give the Wataru their ability to use technology, without knowing too much about it. So charms are mini-tech items. Spells are requests to the techno-spirits. The spirits will help them, but not "do it for them". So, they can use the technology - understand some of it - and still be "in the moment of life". If someone of advanced technology tries to harm the people of their care, they will probably pull out technology that will give GC Pause.

If you want to twist this. Some group from another galaxy is invading/ (or doing an incursion) and kicking the GC butt/ posterior. The Wataru will swoop in and take care of them. Part of it as Hunters (augmented by tech) and part of it as the technospirits using their tech or changing GC tech. They will rain terror upon these invaders.

The AI will translate a chilling reminder. "This will be the state of things. Eventually your "parents" fall to themselves or just the weight of time. We the children (implying the machines of society) will be there to care for you and for other... to keep you in your bests state (implied hunter gatherers), allowing you to truly live.
I like this but, it does reduce the Wataru to essentially playing by the GC rules, I don't think we want so much 'tech gone to Clarke law invisibility as people fell' so much as an even earlier fork for a Roadless travelled.
 

s/LaSH

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#6
Yeah, I think that - while AI spirits is cool - it's more interesting to look at a magical civilization that is genuinely as advanced as Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism, just in different ways. If they're getting their abilities as gifts from something they don't understand, then the Wataru themselves are losing their agency, because they won't comprehend the situations that they're in.

Unfortunately, as I'm not from an interstellar magical culture, I don't have a good handle on how they do view the universe. They clearly know how to do things that I can't comprehend, which is tricky to imagine.

But not impossible!

I imagine that one aspect of Wataru wisdom is that they have a very good understanding of desire-driven systems, down to the microbial level. Animals want food and shelter. People want song and stimulation. Germs want to avoid amoeboid predators and get into a 17-degree-centigrade liquid solution where... complex systems emerge. They see it as the "will" of the environment, and it makes them very good at predicting and modulating the behaviour of complex systems.

This extends to things that a technological civilization doesn't have ways to measure. They can create a Snow White Effect pretty easily. Their shamans are so good that they can manipulate feedback systems in spacetime - it's nothing as simple as wormholes, and may in fact involve travel through the medium of sleeping minds at the same time as a dozen other weird yet apparently related phenomena.

The key here is that there are some tribes who were adopted by techno-spirit AIs. The Wataru are just as heterogeneous as the Galaxy Core, per my reading of the OP. Some worlds took the "road less traveled" from the beginning. But others did have their rise and fall and post-civilized backslide era. When these soft post-apocalyptic cultures ran into Wataru, they had a lot in common, and the Wataru found it easy to deal with the techno-spirits. They have 100% no idea what a photo-electric generator is, but they know exactly what an intelligent system does when it's powered up, and they can work with that. AIs are designed to be operated, and that's basically easy mode for a Wataru.

So I reckon there are some tribes, or locations, within the Wataru wander-lines that have AI running around. This is exactly as weird as that one Galaxy Core founding member race that has all those monasteries and can do a Mind Meld on other species: most Wataru consider it a weird exception to the way their overall society operates. And just as the telepathic starfarers may have ancient legends of mystical events that would prove useful to the Problem Of The Week, the Wataru have ancient legends of esoteric techno-systems that sometimes pop into focus and resolve an issue. There's usually a skeptic standing around going, "I fail to see how this object made out of lifeless stone and crystal could possibly start moving by itself, it's just not logical, we should resolve our problems with flax ropes and this angry two-faced elephant creature", and then they learn a Valuable Lesson about faith and open-mindedness when someone figures out how to start the truck.

Does that reconciliate the themes?
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
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#7
It does yes, (at least for me). And I love that notion of as you put it understanding the desires of things.

So let's expand it. If our style of culture is defined by a 'progressive' relationship of time with history behind, future ahead and a plan reaching forward from the present, sliced into increments and each one filled, the Wataru see time and the passing of events as a process, they speak of 'completing the moment' that is to say involving oneself in the situation in order to change it and only recognise 'that thing happened/is happening/is going to happen' not weekdays or hours or things. This is key because a Wateru tribe can experience several different planetary 'days' over the span between waking and sleeping [see below]

Its the same with spatial relationships, the GC thought is distance/map based, the Wataru map by desire, the needs to be filled so, by songline reckoning they might step from a place where the hunting is good, to one where the forage is better, pick up the people they left there at start of the day and then trace the line to a scenic comfortable place to divide the food, make tools, and relax.

The Wataru really strike me as a culture who are so adaptable that they forget how adaptable they are. Shifting day length, gravity, atmospheric conditions, biological factors, can all be observed, the desire of the incomplete moment found, and an answer given. Its a degree of comfort and understanding that would stagger the most proficient GC frontier planetologist.

And it just gave me an idea for a bit of Wataru culture. A game. As one travels, its customary to collect keepsakes from differing places. Often indeed these are the main 'personal' possessions a Wataru has. a polished bit of chitin shining like emerald metal from your first hunt, a dried many layered flower opalescent still from the place you kissed your mate, a rock taken from the shores of the prettiest sea you ever saw.

A common game that is used to teach children how to understand and observe, and to break the ice when differing bands meet up, is to fish something out of one's bag, and challenge the other person to tell you everything they can about the place it was from the reason you selected it and things. (In fact, a whole culture of mystically enabled Sherlocks starts to fit them well, and is just the right kind of freaky to the GC, they'd seem almost telepathic, but its really more about openness to one's senses, and an understanding of connections. They could do the Envoy 'absorb and intuit' deal from altered carbon. )
 

Bob Loblaw

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#8
This is all pretty interesting to me, but if I were to steal it for my own game, the PCs would just be Wataru and the GC would be one of the threats they have to contend with. Is that the intent? Alternatively, what are some things that the two groups could potentially learn from the other?
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
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#9
I was more minded to present the Wataru as a kind of, out of context problem for the GC, a challenge to the rather homogenising and hegemonising aspects of fictional federations of Science fiction, and of the rather coloniser influenced slightly infantilising outlook such groups tend to have on more "primitive" races. Well that and a chane to think what might go into a very different kind of FTL, world stepping not void crossing if taken to an extream.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
#10
So in the same way that the Galaxy Core has Tech, has science and material culture, the Wataru have mystic traditions and a skill-based culture.

That is to say, that the product of their cultural effort are techniques and practices, not complex items. Some of it is akin to Dune's Mentats and Altered Carbon's envoys, deep mind training and an active constantly refined understanding of how to get the best out of a sentient brain. Teacher is perhaps second only to Shaman in esteem, and ranked among craftsmen because a good teacher turns unskilled folk into Wataru.

Thats, something like a state change, you learn how to accept and process information you weren't even aware you were receiving, create a kind of 'learned instinct'. Proper 'traditional' Wataru teaching starts in the womb/egg/sessile first instar and continues as long as first parents then formal Teacher's belive you need to be a fully independent and contributing member of a tribe, an occasion that is met with great celebration. Wataru introduce themselves by given name, tribe, family, and teacher and where Shamans fill the role of engineers and technical specialists Teachers also take on the positions of Chaplains and counsellors. (Some of these techniques, much like with mentats may need chemical supplementation, but Wataru seed the nesicary plants anywhere the climate suits, and they eagerly embrace new chemical aids after careful study)

But they also have a 'quick and dirty' approach, not gently coaxing open the doors of perception, but clobbering them with a battering ram. These less elegant techniques are used to elevate Stranger's to 'Ambassadors'. Ambasadoursdepending on the circumstance can be exactly that, given an incomplete taste of Wataru analytical and perceptual mastery so they can better explain the process of living as Wataeru to those of their own culture. They can more cruelly also simply be converts or quislings because these harsh and rapid means when practised on less malleable adult brains leave subjects suggestable.

Taken together this 'whole brain whole organism' training needed to be a proper adult is simply called 'kenning'. Its not perfect ofc, but it is a huge advantage as s/LaSH s/LaSH said they have no sense of astrogation, their actual idea of spatial relationships, or indeed of temporal ones, is shockingly poor by our terms, but in those areas where it focuses, in the mapping, understanding and intervention in even the most complex of systems it seems downright supernatural. Its not though, Supernature is the domain of their shamans.

(How's that sound? Slightly concerned giving them too much but the Kenning and the Shaman tricks do have to equal a full space going post-scarcity federation on a lower pop density, per-person the Wataru do need to punch above their weight.)
 
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