Technology in the Cataclysm

Summary:

Technology in Cataclysm should, except in specific situations, be at a modern real life level. The design rationale for this is simple: it allows straightforward answers to questions about things like “is this idea reasonable”, “how much __ should this do”, and more. If it is possible in real life (and you can prove it), it’s probably appropriate for Cataclysm. Likewise, if it’s not possible in real life, it is probably not possible in Cataclysm… the exceptions will be enumerated in this document.

See the timeline for lore explanations of the divergent technology in this world.

Civilian Tech

In terms of civilian technology there are a handful of things that differ from our world. All of these are very rare and expensive.

Cybernetics

CBMs have been available to the public for four years at the time of the Cataclysm. This is vaguely analogous in scope to how common smartphones were in 1998-2002: while they exist, they are too expensive and too hard to find support for to be even somewhat widespread among civilians.

Prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs available to civilians are not markedly above the level available on our Earth, but may be a bit more widespread using the same anti-infection technology employed by CBMs. Note that the level available on our Earth has gotten quite impressive, so this is a pretty high bar.

Robots

Proto-AI evolved from dimensional heuristics (the secrets of which are completely black box and explained away as a kind of deep learning) has made civilian level robots conceivable, albeit extremely rare. The first public release of robots was police eyebots six years before the Cataclysm. Most non-police civilian level applications are medical. These AIs do well in constrained environments with very specific tasks. They are, however, deeply stupid, especially without their central controllers.

Energy Storage

Energy storage among civilians is basically the same as real life earth, with a couple exceptions:

  • electrolytic hydrogen fuel cells are moderately more efficient, thanks to an early introduction of transdimensional tech. As a result, fuel cell powered vehicles and other technologies are more common.
  • Li-ion batteries are no better, but are a bit cheaper and more common
  • Radioactive power sources such as betavoltaic cells and even radioisotope thermoelectric generators are more common owing to a generally less safe attitude towards consumers. These aren’t any better than equivalent devices in reality… just more common.

Powered Suits

Due to the availability of fuel cells, powered exoskeletons for industrial work are rare but not unheard of. These suits are bulky but allow a degree of finesse that a crane or forklift can’t match.

Widespread Military Technology

The military at large has access to technology that far exceeds civilian capacity, but whose existence doesn’t potentially compromise the secrets of interdimensional travel and research.

Cybernetics

Cybernetics are much more common in the military, given the drive to create supersoldiers. Military bio-operators represent the pinnacle of what is allowed to potentially reach public or enemy ears. Common military cybernetics should avoid miracle tech based around crazy stuff like folding time and space.

Advanced prosthetics

Military grade prosthetic limbs are able to offer somewhat increased strength and endurance over their living counterpart, at the cost of dexterity and tactile sense. They still have some degree of feedback and are not insensate. A common way of establishing prostheses in advanced cases would likely be to put a short range transmitter inside the limb stump, and the prosthetic would fit overtop the closed skin like a sleeve, receiving signals and power transcutaneously.

Energy Storage

Milspec energy storage is based around next generation power cells nicknamed “plutonium fuel cells”. These are neither radiation based nor fuel cells, but the name stuck. From a design standpoint these are handwavium, items that exist to explain hypertech available to the military. Design-wise they should be:

  • Rare
  • Not rechargeable
  • Not found outside labs and military technology From a story standpoint, these cells use a small amount of exotic matter from the netherum as a power source, catalyzed by plutonium. When the exotic matter runs out the empty plutonium cell can be sent to a central facility to be reloaded… but that facility no longer exists.

Power Armor

Milspec power armor relies on plutonium cells to function, this is what enables its existence. Aside from fictionalized power storage, the rest of its capabilities are real life.

Weaponry

Like power armor, the major divergence point for weaponry is the existence of high density fictionalized power cells. All other technology should be as realistic as possible. Due to the extreme rarity and “one and done” nature of plutonium cells, military lasers and things are rare. Technology that hasn’t even been prototyped, or at the very least modeled theoretically, in our world is probably not appropriate for Cataclysm.

Top Secret Technology

Dimensional Manipulation

At the heart of most of the differences in technology is the ability to examine and manipulate dimensions in the CDDA universe. Portable versions of this technology are possible but should be limited, extremely rare, and extremely costly in energy terms. That said, the events causing the cataclysm made the energy costs at least an order of magnitude lower, which in turn means that things that may have been barely functional proof-of-concept prototypes before may now be able to work fairly well.

Dimensional Heuristics

“Smart” AI in Cataclysm relies on the ability to scan adjacent dimensions to learn the results of an upcoming action. Before the cataclysm this could only look a few moments into the future in response to very specific questions, and was very power costly. After the cataclysm, dimensional barriers are much lower, and this technology is far less costly energy-wise. This allows a computer to simulate human deduction abilities. It does not provide clairvoyance nor omniscience, nor real intelligence; it does not make AIs great planners of the long term future.

Cloning

Advanced organ and body part cloning, derived from the study of crashed mi-go scouts and their ships, allows scientists to experiment on human parts grown in the lab. The exact capabilities of these cloning vats hasn’t yet been explored in game.

Mutagens

Mutation is not so much a technology as taking advantage of the blob infection in all people. They were prototypic before the cataclysm, and are unreliable and dangerous.