View Full Version : Magic/Tech Galactic Empire

2008-01-19, 08:38 PM
So we have a kingdom-let's call them Prothea-who was already an unashamed magocracy, due to the effects of widely available arcane lore in their area, promiscuous dragons, and a few dozen magicians who realized the societal benefits of Create Food/Water, which had something happen to them that made them question the nature of the universe. This lead to the invention of the scientific method, and later, actual technological inventions. Within a relatively small amount of time, they made the jump from Renaissance to Industrial, and from there to what we would call "Modern", and then a technological singularity (the creation of an artificial intelligence, and then the rapid scientific process resulting from it). Of course, this all came with a population rise, so Prothea handily conquered everyone else on their world, and soon, learned how to colonize space. This lead to the creation of magically-fueled FTL, and an equally-significant hunger for conquest. Today, Prothea is a dominant superpower in the planes, and what do you know, the scouts have discovered the campagin world, and it's abundant resources. Not particularly concerned about the "pre-warp drive" nature of the natives (After all, aren't they just using a particularly forceful way of bringing the primitive inhabitants to their living standards?), the Wizard-Kings of Prothea send out the order for a full-scale planetary invasion. Given that the campagin world in question is still in the Dark Ages, while the Protheans never even had them, they are now an official territory of the Empire, which has begun colonization procedures. So...

What are your ideas for the culture and government of the Prothean Empire? How should their starships look? What would be a good rank system for their millitary? Which way would their power struggles play out? Demographics?

Few things:

1) They have a free press, and the people are not idiots. Sorry, dystopia fans.

2) The class "Commoner", is unknown within Prothean society. All of the populus are Experts, Magewrights, or a PC class of some sort. A lot of them are Aristocrats as well, due to their high standard of living.

3) Despite their technological advancement, most of the Protheans still think of themselves as "old-timey'" wizards, and so I think they should have a definite "sorcerous" look to them and their architecture. They are also theistic, which explains why the gods haven't struck them down yet.

4) I ascribe to the "Humans are everywhere" theory of D&D sci-fi, so they share the same base races as everyone else.

5) They're expansionist, not evil.

The Emperor awaits your responses, subjects.

Emperor Tippy
2008-01-19, 11:34 PM
Um, why use starships at all? Teleportation Circle has no range limit.

When you want to explore you take 1 level 20 wizard. He cast's an extended shapechange and turns into an advanced Shadesteel Golem. He then proceeds to pick a star and greater teleport to it (you have LOS and GT has no range limit). Do to various things you will get close to the star but still be fairly distant (close being measured in light months or more. You GT again. And with each successive GT you zero in on the star. Once you reach the solar system you check out the planets/moons to see if any are useful/inhabited/inhabitable. If so you port back home and set up a teleportation circle and colonize that way. If not you pick another star and try again.

Now if you run low on spells just cast Magnificent Mansion and rest in there.

As for their army. It should be all constructs. Shadesteel Golems and Warforged with high level wizards as commanders. I'll see if I can find a link to the thread where we discussed D&D armies and I went into much more detail on the subject.

2008-01-20, 12:14 AM
I question your line of sight argument. While yes, you can see the solar system in question, you have no idea what could be going on in that particular solar system. I'm not familiar with the Shadesteel Golem, but does it provides resistance to solar radiation? If not, then there's problem A. Problem B, would have to be the the very real chance of getting caught in a meteoroid shower and taking severe beating from bludgeoning damage.

Anywho, back on topic, culture and government are you choices, though a parliament/senate ruling body should work out nicely. For ships, I would recommend an organic fuel to them. A lot of curves, and have the weapons/propulsion/etc blend into the hull. And for my last tidbit of advice, when it doubt, go with a naval ranking system. It generally fits the best flavor wise.

2008-01-20, 01:24 AM
Um, why use starships at all?

Duh, because starships are cooler...

I'm thinking there'll be no melee classes, since with that amount of magic such "barbaric" practices are a waste of resources (people who could've been slinging spells are swinging swords instead? No way). Mass produced constructs will handily solve the problem of melee. And mass produced wands/staves/plastic chickens of horrible destruction and rings/robes/boxers of ultimate protection solves the problem of self defense.

Every human on the field (if there is any) would be a caster of some kind decked with magic gear. Logistics could include noncasters, but why risk people on the field of battle if you have mass produced constructs or summon spells? And still, most of the casters would stay away from combat and toil in the factories building steel golems and teleport wands anyway.

I'm imagining wizard commanders discussing tactics and strategy while running battlefield simulations (thank god for illusion and divination schools, right?):
-Mage Commander, we will lose 50 golems on the main assault to enemy fortress gate according to the SimBattle (TM). We also lose about %60 of summons, but that is irrelevant.
-Let's try blowing the north wall and rushing through the breach. Apprentice Corporal, run SimBattle (TM).
-Yes sir!
-We lost 30 golems this time. No summons left, but this is much better. Wizard Captain, optimize this strategy. Try to cut our losses down to 15 or less golems. Summons are expendible, golems are not. I'll be in my chambers, reporting to Archmage Marshall about the campaign progress.
-Yes sir!

Any large scale battle will involve a few mages directing constructs from a safe distance, maybe even from home. All feasible strategies will be checked during the planning of engagement and the one with the least casualities chosen by magic simulation. And with constructs, the plans will not be disturbed by human factors. Downside, they won't be enhanced by human factors either. I'd think battles are as RTSs to such commanders. Which might just addle them in the head a little.

Rank system should incorporate magical prowess as well. A commander would be expected to command many constructs at the same time. Or maybe they'd specialize, one Mage Pilot for each construct. I'm not certain which is cooler: a single archmage commanding hundreds of golems at once, or a roomful of mages, each controlling a single construct they've attuned themselves to. First one demonstrates power of the ruling elite, while the second has a distinct mecha flavor.

Internal struggle: I imagine such a culture will place much value on human life (that beggar boy over there could very well have been a Wizard Overlord if he was trained, for all we know), particularly of powerful mages. Incidentally, the resulting overpopulation is a very neat reason to be expansionist.

So anyone with power to struggle will try to keep damage to a minimum. Overpowering an enemy in a magic duel is a sure sign of greater magical prowess, while greater financial/political/social success is a sign of greater intellect. Also those in power will HAVE to be subtle and resort to ordinary manipulation and deceit. The amount of magical destruction lying around in piles of mass produced items (not to mention personal power of rulers) makes combat overly dangerous.

A magical compulsion effect placed on an enemy effectively ends any conflict. Such effects can also prevent betrayal of any kind, so any wizard with half a brain would imbue everyone in his service with enchantments to prevent betrayal, willing or otherwise. And any wizard with a brain will realize the necessity of counterspells for his own spies and scryings. As a direct result, enchantment and divination (maybe also illusion) will be the most advanced schools. Spells like: Edward's Mind Blank Breaker, Richard's Polished Mental Shield, Mary's Undetectable Geas, Julia's Advanced Geas Detection, Dorothy's Extra Undectable Geas, Tom's Anti Geas, Bob's Anti Anti Geas, Kevin's Unstoppable Spying Eye, Marvin's Ultimate Mindraper etc will have been, and are constantly being researched and improved upon.

This could be very interesting. I had vague ideas about something like this before. I'll keep an eye out for continuation of this thread.

2008-01-20, 09:43 AM
What about the planes? Do they try to conquer the planes too ? With planes the possibilities seems limitless.

2008-01-20, 10:36 AM
Um, why use starships at all? Teleportation Circle has no range limit.

Homebrew it that it doesn't work going through space or something?

2008-01-20, 12:02 PM
So, let's riff the idea.

Prothea is post-"singularity". Which means that it has large numbers of golem AI type-things. That, and the magic, means that it's technology really doesn't have to look like technology.

On top of that, what if we presume a nice Byzantine slash post-singularity political structure? Ie -- the invasion of this world? Done as a hobby by one political faction. Heck -- the entire interstellar invasion is like a game of chess to the Protheans.

There will also be Protheans who oppose the crushing of other societies -- sort of like we oppose the development of land that is used by apes.

Because we are talking about a magic/tech singularity, Protheans might have been human, but they should be rather augmented by this point.

Next, the source of their technology -- how about instead of a "wide singularity", we have a narrow one. One particular Prothean worked out the equations, and found a way to bootstrap a golem to effectively infinite power. He did so, but etched into the golem's "source code" was a constant wish to "help the Prothean society", or words to that effect (the exact wording is lost to time).

This golem in finite time had divergent power -- and from that Golem came the Prothean technology. However, as a side effect, it prevents other beings from building infinite power cycles. It also, as a very small side-project for a being of it's power, gave the Protheans a bunch of advanced magical technology, knowledge and a bunch of rules to follow.

The Protheans semi-worship "The Prothean", as it is called, but not really -- the Golem is rather indifferent to Prothean worship.


So now we know why the Protheans both have insane tech/magic, and why they still give a **** about the world: they don't really understand their tech/magic, it was given to them by a benevolent singularity.


Now, the principle of maximium fun. As it happens, Prothean magic/tech encourages close combat between Protheans: defending against long-range magic or technology is trivial, but when you get near each other, you can disrupt the other sides defenses. Melee attacks are nearly unblockable from one Prothean to another.

Let's make the Protheans a very LN culture.

Killing another Prothean in a one-on-one fight is perfectly acceptable if the other Prothean is at most 1 rank in difference from you. Killing 2 ranks or more under is shameful, and killing 2 ranks or more above is disgusting. This has been drilled into them heavily, and has actual mechanical effects.

Protheans are, in general, 3 way Gesaults (!). One melee class, one caster class, and the Prothean racial class.

There is a one to one relationship between Rank and Level in Prothean society. As much of a Prothean's power comes from the Singularity, gaining/losing levels can happen because they break the rules, even if they aren't caught by other Protheans, because the Golem simply enforces it. And the Golem knows.

Many of the footsoldiers used by the Protheans are magic/tech golems. There is a Prothean "caster" class that lets them "own" a certain number of such golems (which are then provided by Singularity cornicopeas). This class is exponential in nature -- a 10th level Golem Commander can control 1 Rank 10 golem, 2 Rank 9 Golems, 4 Rank 8 Golems, down to 1024 Rank 1 Golems.

Golems follow the "only 1 level away" rule when fighting other Protheans.

One of the reasons why Prothean society is aggressively expansionistic is that they do have to gain XP in order to gain levels, which corresponds to ranks, which determines social power. Note that "cheese" XP tactics don't work (because of the Singularity) -- Protheans best gain XP by fighting a challenging fight, or completing something that takes effort.

This means that they don't use overwealming power to complete a task. If a task is too easy for a given Prothean, letting a follower complete it instead makes more sense, and increases the power base of that Prothean more.

Note all Protheans are driven to increase their power in this way -- but those that aren't driven to increase their power tend to end up being low level, only prodded to higher level by their superiors placing them into challenging situations.

The Singularity does a few things:
1> Direct divine intervention on Protheans doesn't work. Repeated attempts result in the Singularity bitch-slapping the god in question.
2> Provides the Protheans with cool toys. The vast majority of which fail to work when a non-Prothean gets ahold of one (but some continue to work, seemingly at random).
3> Enforces their code of conduct on the Protheans.
4> Prevents another Singularity from occuring anywhere.

Protheans can worship their code of conduct and gain spells as a divine caster.


As noted, not every Prothean thinks that they should be fighting an expansionistic war of conquest. So you'll have "anti-Empire Protheans" showing up and helping the resistance. They will still follow the rules of Prothean society even if they oppose the Empire -- between it being drilled into them for their entire lives and the fact that if you fall off of the path, there are omniscient and immediate consequences to it, not doing so is rather unthinkable.

But stopping the Empire is perfectly OK as far as their ethical system is concerned.

As you might imagine, Chaotic Protheans pretty much don't exist in any numbers -- or at least, they have nearly zip access to Singularity based technomagic.

The Prothean racial class:

High Will, Reflex and Fortitude saves.
d12 HD, Full BaB.

Fast healing of 2 per level.
Temporary HP equal to their CON stat+level, 1 minute concentration to activate, unlimited duration, at will.
Base Defense Bonus of +1 every 2 levels.
DR of 1/- at level 1. Increases to 2/- at level 5, 5/- at level 9, 10/- at level 13, 20/- at level 17, and 40/- at level 20.
Energy resistence (any) equal to their DR.
SR/PR of (20+level) against any spell not cast within 15' of them.
SR/PR of (10+level) against spells cast within 15' of them.
Immune to "assay spell resistance" and other means of boosting the caster level of the source.
Downside: All magical/psionic non-damaging effects cast by them on anyone 15' or more away from them produce SR/PR of 15+defenders level.

Cornicopea access:

1 3,000
2 6,000
3 9,000
4 12,000
5 16,000
6 20,000
7 26,000
8 34,000
9 45,000
10 58,000
11 75,000
12 98,000
13 130,000
14 170,000
15 220,000
16 280,000
17 360,000
18 470,000
19 610,000
20 800,000

(This is 10x the treasure of a level X encounter).
No more than half of this can be spent on a single item. The above is provided by the Singularity Cornicopeas. Items that are cheesy end up having their cost boosted. Trading it away generally doesn't work.

Of the gear that a Prothean has, generally 2x the normal CR amount obviously works. A Knowledge(Prothean) against a DC of (15+Prothean Level) check can let you boost the amount salvaged by 50%.

As mentioned, this is then gesaulted with (1 melee-type class) and (1 caster/utility-type class). Many "technicians" end up with a pretty useless "utility-type class" in their spell caster slot.

Their "gear" can be "implanted" or "external" (they both have benefit).

Protheans get +4 to all physical stats and +4 int from modifications done to their body. In addition, Protheans have 2 standard actions and 1 move action per round. One of the standard actions can only be used by the "spellcasting" half, the other by the "melee" half, and the move action can be used by either. (Standard+Move = Full Round).


Protheans also bring along mercenaries/slaves/drones to help their conquest -- after all, conquoring is boring work after a point. So the invasion will also contain some non-Prothean forces.

There doesn't have to be a large number of actual high-level Protheans, especially in the initial invasion.

An initial scouting party of a dozen L 7 to 10 Protheans might be enough to take out a small nation. A single L 10 Golem Commander can mobilize 1023 Golem Drones (most of them low level, but would be enough to police a region -- with a few high level drones for enforcement).