Technology in the Cataclysm

Spoiler alert

- This section contains some spoilers for lore meant to be mysterious or hard to learn in game.

Summary:

Technology native to Cataclysm Earth 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.

*Note: this section has recently changed**. Previously, CBMs were a CDDA-Earth technology, but we’re changing that lore.

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

Cybernetics were not available on CDDA-Earth prior to the portal storms. Note that this is a recent major change to the lore, and not yet borne out in play.

Prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs available to civilians are not markedly above the level available on our Earth. Note that the level available on our Earth has gotten quite impressive, so this is a pretty high bar.

Robots and AI

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 and human supervision. These are not science fiction robots that can adapt to a situation and respond appropriately. They’re not really anything more than you’d expect from slapping a processor and some algorithms onto a drone nowadays. Some of these have guns and have foolishly been activated to use those guns without supervision.

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 extremely rare but do exist. These suits are bulky but allow a degree of finesse that a crane or forklift can’t match. Their primary market is wealthy nerds.

Just as in real life, powered exoskeletons are used to assist rehabilitation of people with neurological damage. These are slightly more common in CDDA-Earth, as the technology was developed earlier due to earlier availability of appropriate power cells, but aside from being more common they’re not much different.

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.

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. These are not like the power armour in fallout, more of a combat exoskeleton supporting some armour plating.

Industrial Powered Lifting Suits

See Civilian entry. Powered suits that are of somewhat limited use in civilian settings found a lot more applications for military engineering and are fairly common on ships and in deployed engineering units.

Turrets and robots

At the very end of the cataclysm, dimensional heuristic AI was used to create human-free automated turrets and combat robots. These protocols were never meant to be used without a human, and the developers and users of the technology warned against trying to use them in this way. Turrets and “independent” robots without a human overseer and a connection to Melchior should be profoundly stupid and quite dangerous to anyone around them.

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.

When designing a high-tech weapon for the game, first ask yourself “why”. Why would this weapon have been in production? If it is a prototype, it should be unreliable and impractical for day to day use. It is possible that high tech special use weapons exist, but they should definitely not be in major circulation. CDDA-Earth only started majorly branching from our own timeline quite recently.

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. These were developed very close to the Cataclysm, and would be totally unknown to the public.

What are mutations?

Mutations in Cataclysm are governed by the latent blob infection in all living things. They are not the same as what is generally meant by mutation in a scientific sense, nor what we generally see in pulp scifi. Cataclysm mutations are non genetic (more accurately, they don’t have to be genetic. The blob is keen on reusing stuff, and might alter gene expression to achieve a goal when it’s quick and easy).

A quick analogy to explain this: DNA serves like a blueprint for the architecture of the cell. These mutations have an intermediary, like an architect standing at the building site offering new advice that supercedes the blueprint.

Alien Technology

The biggest branch point in CDDA tech is the availability of sci-fi technology from other dimensions. We’re still fine tuning the rules about this, so this section is under construction.

The basic rule of thumb is that the more advanced or unbelievable the technology, the less player modifiable it should be. An alien chemical propellant weapon might be modified to accept earth bullets because the principles are quite similar, but no player is going to be dismantling a mi-go slaver rifle and salvaging recognizable components.

Cybernetics

Cybernetics were brought to earth after the cataclysm. A readily available CBM should not contain technology that can’t be explained by modern technology, except for the details of it being attached to the body without harm. We can handwave away neural interfacing with CBMs. Unique advanced CBMs may possess greater capabilities but access to these should be strictly gated through story advancement through one of several factions.