Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds / Technology

High Technology

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 124
High technology not only conveys the power and capabilities of a society’s technology, but also how readily accessible that technology is. A high-technology society might be defined by space travel, infosphere networks, or advanced computer intelligences. The general populace of these places often enjoys a plethora of electronic amusements, such as virtual reality sports or star system broadcasts. High-technology worlds often develop synthetic life and artificial intelligence, such as androids or sentient robotic organisms. The Pact Worlds and Veskarium both serve as excellent high-technology system examples, yet they’re far from the only ones.
High-technology cultures often develop serious dependencies on their advanced machinery for everyday life. The greater the technology’s role, and the more centrally controlled it is, the more vulnerable the society becomes in the event of a disaster. Accidental mismanagement leading to overloads, physical sabotage, solar storms that fry electronics, cyberattacks, and magical interference could all threaten the power grid, life support, and more. Player characters might be called upon to protect these systems, or they might be the ones hacking it.
Either way, a high-technology society is bound to feel the repercussions of a security breach. A highly-mechanized world might experience chaos and limited communication if its infosphere and vehicles grind to a halt, whereas a space station might become uninhabitable within hours or be unable to maintain its orbit and crash. This possible turmoil is especially true when a society’s technology advances swiftly—sometimes due to great innovations, but often thanks to outside intervention, such as benevolent alien patronage or even divine intervention— as the inventions quickly surpass the society’s ability to adapt to and understand its wealth of new devices. Triune’s Signal in particular provided an extraordinary boost to countless worlds’ technological innovation and, while this development has connected worlds like never before, it has also provided dangerous tools enabling some cultures to run before they could figuratively walk.
High technology often helps a species surpass its physical limitations. Planes and space suits allow humans to defy gravity and breathe in inhospitable environments; in a science-fantasy world there are even stranger possibilities. The Burning Archipelago on the surface of the Pact Worlds’ sun has architecture that allows lifeforms to live in an impossibly hot realm; starships carry inhabitants far beyond the worlds where they evolved; and Drift technology puts the whole galaxy within travelers’ reach for a modest investment. Space stations might orbit black holes, defying crushing gravity and time dilation through extraordinary safeguards while scientists collect priceless data. Elsewhere, cloud cities float above methane seas, and entire civilizations thrive amid ceaseless volcanism. With a high-technology attribute, life could exist anywhere, even in the most unlikely places. Of course, whether outsiders can access these settlements is another matter!
Technology presents the means for creatures to exceed their worlds’ natural carrying capacities, like how artificial fertilizer and mechanization revolutionize a planet’s agricultural output. Most high-technology societies harness extraordinary manufacturing and material-manipulation capabilities, such as the use of universal polymer base (or UPBs; Core Rulebook 233), that allow citizens to surpass many physical resource limitations. Taken a step further, technologically extraordinary societies might transcend mortal bodies by developing robust networks, where uploaded digital consciousnesses can exist indefinitely without need for sustenance. These uploaded consciousnesses differ from true AI, however, and while the functional differences might seem academic, the questions of life, death, and identity are often crucial to these postcorporeal cultures.

High-Technology Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 A recently awakened AI seeks aid in emancipating its core from a heavily guarded corporate facility.
2 A cloning accident causes havoc in a top secret laboratory.
3 A fleet of automated starships sends an SOS from a hazardous area.
4 A popular vidgame starts blackmailing its players.
5 Dangerous virtual reality characters have escaped into the real world.
6 A strange alien signal interrupts all communication arrays in a system, including vital emergency transmissions.
7 Life support systems in a hostile atmosphere begin to fail.
8 An anomalous planet in the Vast turns out to be a titanic computer calculating an unknown equation.
9 A world develops an organic computer network that begins to painfully absorb the minds of any who access it.
10 A robotic civilization begins a campaign to “liberate” all technology.
11 Members of an advanced culture offer to sell technology that can create a star from nothing, sparking a bidding war.
12 Mysterious tractor beams have been pulling starships into a seemingly empty area of space. No ship has returned.
13 A rogue computer virus has shut down most electronic systems and caused security robots to turn on citizens.
14 A dangerous nanite malfunction threatens an entire world.
15 A mischievous hacker is creating digital graffiti on a settlement’s holographic billboards that riles citizens toward an uprising.
16 A comet is actually an immense hologram populated by electronic duplicates of hundreds of historical and pop culture figures.
17 The inhabitants of an advanced society leave all decision making to an AI network. One day, they’re told to declare war on a neighbor.
18 A mysterious signal emanates from a world ruled by the collective uploaded consciousnesses of the entire world’s population.
19 The antigrav generators beneath a floating city begin to fail for unknown reasons.
20 A massive colony ship careens toward an inhabited world, and the crew members are all in an unknown form of cryogenic sleep.