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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Right then folks, I am making a fantasy setting using a map of the Earth in the distant future - specifically, this one: http://www.scotese.com/future2.htm

    Now, it would be neat if the players eventually realise that the world is in fact Earth in the distant future (...enter Charlton Heston: "God damn you! God damn you all to hell!"...). But the problem is of course, what human artifacts or traces of civilisation could possibly remain after such a long time? I remember reading in "The Science of Discworld" that if humanity was wiped out today, the only things left of us after one million years would be some satellites and some debris on the moon. That didn't sound too fun, but I was wondering if any of you more knowledgeable world-builders think that it would really be that bad? I am not asking for sunken cities, abandoned missile silos with fully functional nukes or even the Statue of Liberty - it is supposed to be a fantasy setting, after all - but would there really be nothing made, caused or otherwise influenced by humanity that would make it through 250 million years? Any mysterious, unidentifiable artifacts, indestructible plastics, anything at all?

    Thankful for any answers on the matter

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Someone on BurnHollywoodBurn's Scariest Theory Ever thread mentioned that they read somewhere that after just 20,000 New York City would be replaced by thick forest to the point where you wouldn't be able to tell that a city was there, so the chances of there bing anything after 250,000,000 years is rather implausible. I'll try to find the thread for you in a minute.

    EDIT: Here's the thread: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=71960 . I think the relevant bit is on page 3 near the bottom (the whole thread could be of interest to you for your campaign, though).
    Last edited by Tempest Fennac; 2008-03-07 at 08:17 AM.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    On a slightly off-topic highjack - is it just me, or does Pangea Ultima look suspiciously like Faerun? Move and stretch antartica/australia into the southern reaches... and it's pretty freaking close.

    Probably just a coincidence though.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    If humanity were wiped out today we wouldn't leave behind much of anything long-lasting besides nuclear waste, non-biodegradable plastics, and some things like cut and artificial diamonds. Most of this would probably get buried pretty quickly. Given our propensity for settling along coasts, erosion and changes in sea level would submerge or carry away a lot. Most of our stuff requires constant maintenance; we don't build for periods longer than decades for the most part. Very little of the material we use is not vulnerable to the elements.

    If the campaign is just "Earth 250 million years from now" then you can have the humanity of the next several centuries or millenia alone leave behind all sorts of stuff. Domed cities capped with spun diamond. Self-repairing machinery and nanotech (probably gone a little nuts as bugs have gone uncorrected for eons). Megastructures on the surface and in orbit, and connecting them (space elevators with active defences, the indestructible shells of crashed habitats, etc.). Scrith. Xeelee construction material. Computer networks consisting of giant bacteria/fungus/nanite hybrids spread through the entire crust so that the entire planet is one or more dormant hive minds. Make the planet cold and dark and explain that it's only still habitable because it was moved much closer to the sun after the rest of the solar system was dismantled and the star turned into a Matrioshka brain.

    Remember that 250 million years ago mammals and dinosaurs hadn't yet fully branched off from reptiles. It is a very very long time. Artifacts that would stick around for that long would need to be the sort that could last until the heat death of the universe.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Those are excellent points, kamikasei. It remindfs me of a TV series I saw a few years back which was about how scientists imagined creatures would evolve if humans left the planet for some reason. I think they said there's a chance that squids would evolve into landbased creatures before possibly developing technology. I'm sorry that I can't remember what it was called (it was a really good series). If anyone does know what it's called, please could you mention it (you may find it useful, Blue Cloak).
    Last edited by Tempest Fennac; 2008-03-07 at 08:31 AM.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    What kind of traces are you talking about? Like obvious traces like the destroied statue of liberty in Planet of the Apes, or If you dug up a 5x5x5 mile cube of the planet and sifted through it?

    Either go big or go small. Big is usually obvious like the statue thing, but small, like a neat muddy little do-dad in the stream someone finds. Some concave glass looking thing that really screws your vision up if you look through it. Wait, that's a lens from someones glasses! Or some small triangular piece of metal that kinda looks like an V, and chimes when you press it. Draw a Star Trek communicator upside down and see how long it takes them to figure it out. Heh, a perfectly preserved Twinkie would be funny, but not realistic. But then I don't think any of the previous items are.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Well, 250 million years ago is roughly the late Permian early Triassic period, one of the most major die offs of all life (upwards of 95%) and lead to the rise of th dinosaurs... and we have fossil evidence of that period, and earlier. So is not unreasonable to assume that you would have a fossil record. The difference of course is that the average person is so very unlikely to a) find a 250 million year old fossil and if they do b) recoginize it for what it is.

    That is a huge timespan... life on earth went from the trilobites and beetles, to modern civilization in that time span. It would be very unlikely that anything that did survive that long would be even recognizable to the new inheritors of the earth (who would not likely be "humans" as we know them). Of course, when you throw magic into the mix, anything is possible. :)
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Fossilised footprints with a Nike Swoosh on the bottom?

    But for man made objects, unless it is actually, truly indestructible then I don't see anything surviving that long in a recognisable form without maintenance...

    So That leaves us with:
    1) Something indestructible. But be careful. Players can get very inventive if you just hand them the proverbial Immovable Object.
    2) Something unrecognisable. Kinda defeats the point.
    3) Self-replicating nano-bots! Who needs maintenance? Also provides numerous plot hooks, like "What have these things been doing for the few aeons?" Genetically engineered lifeforms would also reproduce without mankind but would be harder to spot as being man-made.

    Edit: Ninjas! Serves me right for stopping to check my facts...
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    I'm not sure exactly what level of technology you're going for--in the lost earth civilization or in the new one--but as the previous poster said, either go big or very small. Huge, sprawling deserted cities with territorial robot caretakers, or just small fragments, maybe at a fossil dig. There was a book I read in middle school about what would happen if either aliens or humans very far in the future (sorry, don't remember which) were to catalog our things the way we catalog the belongings of ancient civilizations, and it was quite amusing.

    The toilet was a water basin for washing, while the sink was an altar. The television was also an altar (being placed in most homes in a position of significance, with chairs surrounding it and facing inward) while the remote was a scepter for use in ceremonies involving the TV. There were all sorts of amusing little misinterpretations.

    If someone on your world was doing a dig (again, I don't know the level of technology you're working with, but even in the 1600's and earlier there were some limited digs, though they were more about treasure-hunting) and found something, like a fossilized fragment of a Nike footprint (just take a charcoal print of the bottom of your shoe, and tear it so they can't tell it's foot-shaped) or some worthless "fake silver" coins with an ugly bird on them and didn't know what to make of them, they might throw them out, or, if the PCs were friendly, show it to them. Just some thoughts.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Twinkies and Spam.

    Other than that, the places that would have the best chance of something surviving would be near deserts. Anything coastal will be destroyed by then. From that map, Peru, Tibet, and the US Plains States look like they have a decent chance of something surviving above ground. Not much of a chance, even then. If anything, it will probably be something along the lines of the top of a radio tower, or steel girders from the top of a skyscraper.

    Buried in the dirt is another story altogether. Plastic and nonbiodegradable trash might be preserved for that long, though I really don't know for sure. Archaeological digs would be able to unearth something, especially from the massive trash heaps we've left across the world. (If anyone is digging for oil or coal, they might find traces).

    EDIT: I think I read that book too. "Motel of the Mysteries," right?
    Last edited by Telonius; 2008-03-07 at 08:50 AM.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Well, according to this show which I watched Life After People put on by the history channel, things like the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and Mount Rushmore would be some of the last surviving things, since they are made of stone. All metal objects will have corroded away, same with almost all plastics, paper and just about any other substance. Even at that, those things I listed aren't going to look anywhere near the same, erosion would have made them a shadow of what they once were and might even be unrecognizable. But generally you would be looking for things made of stone and the like that are somewhat protected from erosion in some form, like being land locked and low rainfall, but even then wind is going to erode them, it just takes longer.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by hewhosaysfish View Post
    3) Self-replicating nano-bots! Who needs maintenance? Also provides numerous plot hooks, like "What have these things been doing for the few aeons?" Genetically engineered lifeforms would also reproduce without mankind but would be harder to spot as being man-made.
    Saying nanobots are zero-maintenance is like saying you could leave a piece of software running on an Impossibly Perfect Computer (no hardware failures) for 250 million years and nothing go wrong. They are the sort of thing that could survive for that long but would effectively be a new form of life. And when I say "new form of life" I don't mean "new species", I mean "something other than DNA-based life and about as diverse".

    Which is an intriguing possibility. Nanotech distributed throughout and absorbed into the ecosystem, like mitochondria or something similar. Computers and communications similarly distributed and absorbed. It would allow a pretty cool magitech fantasy setting where the tech has moved so far past how we today think of it that you could literally have intelligent locations and supernatural beasts. If you assume the AI is totally alien and uninterested in humanlike motivations it avoids the god problem (think something like the Pattern Jugglers from Alistair Reynolds).

    @Bluecloak: how do the players end up in this setting? Are they magically transported there or is it in fact just where they live, a place inhabited by humans? How are there still recognizably human humans on Earth in 250 million years? Are they throwbacks? Transplants? Maybe godlike aliens or posthumans seeded the population back on the planet as an experiment. Maybe a cryogenically-preserved settlement awoke with amnesia and all their data stores broken. The question of what happened in the intervening 250 million years to leave beings that look and think like modern humans around constrains a lot of what might be left behind.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    I haven't read it, but the book The World Without Us (wiki) covers questions like this. Apparently even Mount Rushmore will "only" last 7.2 million years at best.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Thank you all for that valuable input And a special thank to Tempest Fennic for that link, and to Kamikasei for the weird technology suggestions. Yes, it's true I don't actually have to go with the "humanity wiped out today" scenario, but could make us survive a bit longer. Not sure yet...

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    @Bluecloak: how do the players end up in this setting? Are they magically transported there or is it in fact just where they live, a place inhabited by humans? How are there still recognizably human humans on Earth in 250 million years? Are they throwbacks? Transplants? Maybe godlike aliens or posthumans seeded the population back on the planet as an experiment. Maybe a cryogenically-preserved settlement awoke with amnesia and all their data stores broken. The question of what happened in the intervening 250 million years to leave beings that look and think like modern humans around constrains a lot of what might be left behind.
    It's still on the brainstorming phase, but the players are supposed to be born on this world. Like I said, it is supposed to be a traditional fantasy world, just with the "future earth" twist. Exactly how I am going to explain some things, I am still working on, since gods and magic are supposed to exist. Maybe those things existed all the time but we modern people neglected and forgot about them. Or maybe humans somehow evolved to god-like beings that are now being worshipped by the creatures they have made into their (old) image. Or maybe we left in generation ships, got caught in some pseudo-scientific time-twist thingamabob, got back to earth millions of years later (where a lot of entirely new species had evolved) and then lost our memory of our old civilisation.

    In short, it doesn't have to be too realistic; after all, the hyborean age as well as Middle-Earth are supposed to be our distant past (and not even all that distant, at that), and the Dungeons & Dragons setting Mystara is set on Earth about 150 million years ago (in fact, doesn't it even say in the old golden Immortal box that the setting is our world millions of years ago?).

    Like I said, I understand that there will not be any possibilities of mysterious undersea city ruins or the Statue of Liberty, unless I go with Kamikasei's suggestion with futuristic materials that might survive for that long. I was really just wondering if anything small could survive - anything from nuclear waste to fossilized footprints with the Nike swoosh (that was a good one )

    Anyway, thanks for your input so far.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    I just remembered the program's name: it was called The Future is Wild: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Future_is_Wild . Also, looking at what you think the setting will be, you may find a game called Inherit the Earth to be useful to a small degree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit_the_Earth .
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Yeah, I'm going to side with 250 million years as just being a purely speculative campaign, there's just so very little we can accurately predict, even within the next 40 years, that it's all a nebulous cloud of possibilities.

    The nanotech based ecosystem is a really nifty idea, especially if you factor in all the pollution we'll create before we die. Seas choked with algae and overrun with matrix-esque motile robots that survive and replicate by filtering out the heavy metals from the deeper waters and absorbing the dim light from the blackened sky.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluecloak View Post
    Exactly how I am going to explain some things, I am still working on, since gods and magic are supposed to exist. Maybe those things existed all the time but we modern people neglected and forgot about them. Or maybe humans somehow evolved to god-like beings that are now being worshipped by the creatures they have made into their (old) image. Or maybe we left in generation ships, got caught in some pseudo-scientific time-twist thingamabob, got back to earth millions of years later (where a lot of entirely new species had evolved) and then lost our memory of our old civilisation.
    I relatativley neat soloution for this is to use some of the nano-tech ideas Zincorum mentioned. I know that this has come up in some novels I have read but I'll be damned if I can remember which ones (sorry authors!).

    Basically, the idea is this:

    Nanotech is magic. A fireball? It's a bunch of nanites that go forth and explode. Dispel Magic? It's an EMP. Raise dead? Nanites go in, fix the damaged parts, and jump start your brain. Mage armor? It's a shell of nanites that deflect incoming objects. None of this needs to be apparent to the players though. If you are still using 3.x for this the vancian notion that spells are actually effected by some sort of semi-sentient creatures that magicians command can be the prevailing logic as to why magic works.

    Races are just evoloution/biotech of the past. 250 million years is a long, long time. The human race would have branched off. Think the division in Well's the Time Machiene just spread over all of the humaniod races in D&D. I can easily see some of the divisions. Minotaurs are the distant descendants of people genetically engineered for contact sports etc.

    Gods: System designers. Gods are just humans (or other sentient species) that have figured out enough of the programming of the nanites to be able to do things that other races cannot. Getting to godhood is really something more like getting Admin access to the system.

    Edit: An additional thought, you can actually use this concept in with your 'big reveal' as well. Some of the 'gods' might be history buffs. Sure, it's not the original Booklyn Bidge, but it looks like it and Robinson God of Social Integration keeps it around as a memento (maybe even as a temple).
    Last edited by AKA_Bait; 2008-03-07 at 10:26 AM.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodoxus View Post
    On a slightly off-topic highjack - is it just me, or does Pangea Ultima look suspiciously like Faerun? Move and stretch antartica/australia into the southern reaches... and it's pretty freaking close.

    Probably just a coincidence though.
    Probably not. Old Mystara was, after all, based on Earth 150 million years ago, something like this: http://www.scotese.com/late1.htm

    Edit: Compare with this map of Mystara: http://www.pandius.com/master-outer-world.png
    Last edited by Bluecloak; 2008-03-07 at 10:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf53226 View Post
    Well, according to this show which I watched Life After People put on by the history channel, things like the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and Mount Rushmore would be some of the last surviving things, since they are made of stone. All metal objects will have corroded away, same with almost all plastics, paper and just about any other substance. Even at that, those things I listed aren't going to look anywhere near the same, erosion would have made them a shadow of what they once were and might even be unrecognizable. But generally you would be looking for things made of stone and the like that are somewhat protected from erosion in some form, like being land locked and low rainfall, but even then wind is going to erode them, it just takes longer.
    But even Mt Rushmore and the Pyramids won't last 250 million years; it would be a miracle for them to be even standing anymore and not completely eroded away, but the faces on Rushmore would be long gone and the Pyramids would be, at best, buried under the Sahara. Hm... finding a series of enormous pyramids under hundreds of feet of sand would be pretty remarkable, but the fact is they wouldn't last that long. 1 million years sure, 10 million might still be okay, but 250 million is a whole different scale.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Your continental drift is in the wrong direction. The continents would spread further apart rather than form a super continent. And I don't think they would crash together on the other side either. They are sort of acting like waves on the decay side where they rise up over the subduction plate and then parts just crumble off and re-enter the mantle. That is not to say there won't be any crashing of continents but they just wouldn't go the direction you're positing.

    One trick you can to is turn the world off its current axis. Maybe make the 'north pole' in the Saharra and the 'south pole' around Hawaii. One of the theories is that the Hawaiian Island chain is formed by a 'hot spot' under the Crust which forms a volcanic island. The continental plate is moving though, so the crust shifts over the spot forming new islands. If the axis shifted, you would be able to see the visible effects in the form of an island chain leading up to wherever the pole is. This also does weird things as the glaciers melt and reform elsewhere. With the ice missing, the plate would rise, meanwhile the new glacial areas would sink.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by AKA_Bait View Post
    I relatativley neat soloution for this is to use some of the nano-tech ideas Zincorum mentioned. I know that this has come up in some novels I have read but I'll be damned if I can remember which ones (sorry authors!).

    Basically, the idea is this:

    Nanotech is magic. A fireball? It's a bunch of nanites that go forth and explode. Dispel Magic? It's an EMP. Raise dead? Nanites go in, fix the damaged parts, and jump start your brain. Mage armor? It's a shell of nanites that deflect incoming objects. None of this needs to be apparent to the players though. If you are still using 3.x for this the vancian notion that spells are actually effected by some sort of semi-sentient creatures that magicians command can be the prevailing logic as to why magic works.

    Races are just evoloution/biotech of the past. 250 million years is a long, long time. The human race would have branched off. Think the division in Well's the Time Machiene just spread over all of the humaniod races in D&D. I can easily see some of the divisions. Minotaurs are the distant descendants of people genetically engineered for contact sports etc.

    Gods: System designers. Gods are just humans (or other sentient species) that have figured out enough of the programming of the nanites to be able to do things that other races cannot. Getting to godhood is really something more like getting Admin access to the system.

    Edit: An additional thought, you can actually use this concept in with your 'big reveal' as well. Some of the 'gods' might be history buffs. Sure, it's not the original Booklyn Bidge, but it looks like it and Robinson God of Social Integration keeps it around as a memento (maybe even as a temple).
    This nanite-magic idea is made of WIN. Hmm...I wonder perhaps if one could design a PrC that grants further control of the nanites (Essentially Dragon Ascendant for humiods)
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    If humanity were wiped out today we wouldn't leave behind much of anything long-lasting besides nuclear waste, non-biodegradable plastics, and some things like cut and artificial diamonds.
    I think that for a lot of people, there's only one value for "a long time", and that anything after that just all blurs together. When people say that plastics last a long time, they mean hundreds of years. When they say that nuclear waste lasts a long time, they mean thousands. Diamonds aren't forever; they turn to graphite in a couple million years. 250 million years? All of them are dust, and to dust they have returned.

    The OP was correct that the only things which would survive are in space. But this is not a lost cause: Many satellites are visible to the naked eye. Admittedly, these tend to be the low-Earth-orbit ones, which would also be gone by this time, but it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to put some larger or more reflective satellites in higher orbits which would still be visible. Now, whether you'd be able to clue your players in enough to recognize them would depend strongly on your players' backgrounds (in particular, on whether any of them are amateur astronomers).

    Of course, there's a simpler solution, too... There's no reason that it has to be 250 million years later, is there? There is some point at which traces of our civilization will be almost, but not completely, wiped out. Whatever that time is, just set your adventure then. If you're worried that there won't be enough continental drift by then, leaving the map still recognizable, you can still raise or lower the ocean levels, orient the maps with (what we call) South on the top, and then maybe use the magnetic poles (which could have wandered a random amount in a random direction) instead of the geographic poles for orienting the map.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    In regards to the 'nanite magic':

    The MMO Anarchy Online does it that way. What's essentially going on there is that there's a utility fog of nanites left over from terraforming the planet (on earth a better explanation is the cleanup of pollution or radioactive fallout) and people who have the right cyberware and software can control them to produce certain effects.

    Since the nanites are everywhere, invisible, and can only be accessed through wireless communications, anything done with them would definitely look like magic to anyone watching. Objects moving at a distance, people disintegrating or getting healed, buildings appearing out of the ground... the possibilities are varied.

    Two good limitations for this are:

    1. The utility fog has corrupted, useless programming in most places. It's memory has to be flashed and replaced with a valid program. Until this is done, the utility fog may either hang in the air, in stasis, or may be actively hostile. Regions where gravity is counteracted, people age rapidly, or just plain disappear are all possible, and these would be tougher to reprogram as they already have a set in operation.

    2. The utility fog is limited in it's power source, either storing energy from the sun or relying on special batteries carried by the user. It effectively changes the recharging of powers from per-encounter to per-area and per-day, but with emergency reservoirs to recharge a particular patch.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    If you want a bigger twist, you could have it so that biological life has long since been extinct, and all living things are actually nanotechnology that has been commanded to assume the shape of the creatures that once inhabited the planet by one or more ancient supercomputers that managed to survive whatever catastrophe wiped out humanity, and have since then been reshaping the planet according to their whims.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Your continental drift is in the wrong direction. The continents would spread further apart rather than form a super continent. And I don't think they would crash together on the other side either. They are sort of acting like waves on the decay side where they rise up over the subduction plate and then parts just crumble off and re-enter the mantle. That is not to say there won't be any crashing of continents but they just wouldn't go the direction you're positing.
    You're actually wrong; there's a reason it will look that way. The continents don't move the directions you're moving, and remember that they won't always move the same direction.

    I think that for a lot of people, there's only one value for "a long time", and that anything after that just all blurs together. When people say that plastics last a long time, they mean hundreds of years. When they say that nuclear waste lasts a long time, they mean thousands. Diamonds aren't forever; they turn to graphite in a couple million years. 250 million years? All of them are dust, and to dust they have returned.
    No, actually; they really do mean millions of years for plastics. Plastics aren't eaten by anything, nor is styrofoam; they'll last pretty much indefinitely short of something evolving which can eat them (the likelihood of which varies; some synthetic materials already have bacteria which have evolved to eat them, and we may actually engineer plastic-eating bacteria).

    Another thing that could last a very, very long time is anything made out of titanium; it doesn't really corrode. Possibly bits of fuselage would survive that long.

    The OP was correct that the only things which would survive are in space. But this is not a lost cause: Many satellites are visible to the naked eye. Admittedly, these tend to be the low-Earth-orbit ones, which would also be gone by this time, but it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to put some larger or more reflective satellites in higher orbits which would still be visible. Now, whether you'd be able to clue your players in enough to recognize them would depend strongly on your players' backgrounds (in particular, on whether any of them are amateur astronomers).
    Actually, this is wrong too; satellites in orbit would crash or fly off, their orbits are not stable indefinitely.

    As for structures making it - ironically, stuff like the Pyramids is pretty much the only purely man-made stuff which would probably survive; all the rest would likely be for naught, though again, if someone built something out of something like titanium, it could very well last a very long time.

    Honestly, I think you should just ignore plausibility though and just go with whatever. Assuming there is sentient life around, a lot of our structures could last a very long time indeed with the proper upkeep; maybe all that is left of a lot of them are ruins, but people try to keep them up as best they can for religious reasons or whatever. You could make a holy pilgrimage site out of, say, a football stadium or skyscraper, and you could just claim that is how the stuff has survived so long - people have kept maintaining and repairing it as best they know.

    Heck, you could even have "cargo cult" style religions where fascimiles (preferably nearly unrecognizable ones) of our modern technology is around by people who try to replicate the form, having long since forgotten its function. Great stone pillars of varied sizes and shapes may represent the skyline of a city, for instance.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikasei View Post
    Saying nanobots are zero-maintenance is like saying you could leave a piece of software running on an Impossibly Perfect Computer (no hardware failures) for 250 million years and nothing go wrong. They are the sort of thing that could survive for that long but would effectively be a new form of life. And when I say "new form of life" I don't mean "new species", I mean "something other than DNA-based life and about as diverse".
    Poul Anderson wrote a short story about this, actually. It's called "Epilogue", and involves some humans visiting Earth about 3 billion years in the future, after a nuclear war killed most of the planet. Most of the life was evolved from automated resource-extraction barges.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Actually, in 250 million years I suspect civilizations would have risen to power and destroyed themselves at least 250 times. How long would it take for the radioactivity to reduce to the point that we could survive in the dead regions? During those dead times, humankind would be basically Stone Age savages. Once they could start populating the nuked areas, technology would advance again for about 10 thousand years and then Humanity destroys itself again. Repeat this cycle to see how many 'super generations' humanity has gone through.

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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    If humanity still exists in even 1 million years, we'll no longer be recognizable as what we are today, from cultural, technological and possibly even biological standpoints. We're also unlikely to still be on earth. If we survived that long, it's because we figured out how to get off this rock and out to the stars.

    "And I was wondering if they will remember us hundred years from now, or a thousand. Then I figured: probably not."
    "But it doesn't matter. We did what we did because it was right, not to be remembered. History will attend to itself, it always does."


    This is how the world ends, swallowed in fire, but not in darkness. You will live on. The voice of all our ancestors, the voice of our fathers and our mothers to the last generation. We created the world we think you would've wished for us. And now we leave the cradle for the last time.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen Joe View Post
    Actually, in 250 million years I suspect civilizations would have risen to power and destroyed themselves at least 250 times. How long would it take for the radioactivity to reduce to the point that we could survive in the dead regions? During those dead times, humankind would be basically Stone Age savages. Once they could start populating the nuked areas, technology would advance again for about 10 thousand years and then Humanity destroys itself again. Repeat this cycle to see how many 'super generations' humanity has gone through.
    In 250 million years, I hope we've left this planet as our sole place of residence.
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    Default Re: Traces of humanity after 250 million years

    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dragon View Post
    No, actually; they really do mean millions of years for plastics. Plastics aren't eaten by anything, nor is styrofoam; they'll last pretty much indefinitely short of something evolving which can eat them (the likelihood of which varies; some synthetic materials already have bacteria which have evolved to eat them, and we may actually engineer plastic-eating bacteria).
    Who are "they"?

    The book I mentioned above has a chapter on plastics, and "thousands of years" seems to be the worst-case estimate. Maybe hundreds of thousands of years at the bottom of the ocean. And keep in mind that they're talking about microscopic particles.

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