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KungFuFerret

Terraforming a planet as a campaign arc

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So I was playing Mass Effect: Andromeda recently, and a single point kept wiggling around in the back of my head about it.   

"How would you play this out in a Star Wars FFG game?"

I mean, the level of technology for it is absolutely doable, given the tech in Star Wars borders on pure magic in what it can accomplish.   And I think it would be a fun way to have a long term goal for a type of game, that might help to let the non-combat specs have more of the spotlight.  Your medical characters (dealing with native illnesses and diseases), explorer types (trailblazing the planet to see what can be sustained, and what needs to be terraformed), financial types (to help set up the local economy of the planet, etc etc.

But, for obvious reasons, this is a pretty large scale thing, and I'm not sure how to parse it down into digestible chunks, as tangible goals for a party to accomplish.

So this is something of a broad spectrum brain storming thread, a sounding board for ideas if you will.

How would you handle it?  And I don't mean doing it on a scale as quickly as Andromeda did it.   Not something that happens in like a week by pressing 3 buttons on 3 towers.  But also something that doesn't take centuries either.    And how would you try and  incorporate the various Career/Specializations to accomplish this on the party level?   If any of you have read the Mars trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson, you've got an idea of what I'm aiming for, in scope and scale.  Lots of room for political intrigue, and scientific stuff, etc.

I was thinking of adopting the Duty system, and having each contribution level representing another milestone in the habitability of the environment.  Perhaps as each new Duty level ticks over and resets, various negative dice penalties due to environmental conditions would get removed?   Stuff like that.

So yeah, thoughts?

**EDIT**

Ok so, since the majority seems to think that somehow, terraforming a planet is outside the technological capability of Star Wars, despite literal planetary scale machines doing multiple, simultaneous functions that defy the laws of physics are ok, let me put a disclaimer in here.

I don't care about canon.  If you all think that canon prohibits it, then ignore that.    I refuse to operate in a system that says I can't do a story I like, because somebody else didn't establish it was possible.   So yeah, shove canon down a gravity well.

How would you structure this type of objective as a campaign?

And if you still insist on posting some kind of "well technically" or "well actually" saying I can't do it, just don't.     This isn't directed to those who posted such comments before this edit, btw.   But honestly, I have little patience for the pedantic derailing that seems to be a common occurrence when Star Wars fans start theorizing about stuff, and trying to say it is/isn't possible.    I'm not asking for canon justification for doing this.     I'm asking how would you do it if you were the GM?   Cool?   Cool.

Edited by KungFuFerret

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I agree with @Yaccarus, the canon and Legends material doesn't really support terraforming, otherwise we'd see planets, such as Duro, which have had catastrophic ecological collapses, being terraformed to bring them back from such destruction. Instead, what we see is planets being despoiled by industrial pollution. The only "terraforming" we've seen in any Star Wars lore was done by the Yuuzhan Vong. 

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32 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

I mean, the level of technology for it is absolutely doable, given the tech in Star Wars borders on pure magic in what it can accomplish.   

I honestly think this is what you’re going to have to do, create Jedi magi-tech.

i think in canon the only example we have of technology effecting the structure of a planet on a large scale is from the kotor game where that Jedi/Sith artifact on Kashyk caused all the trees on the planet to grow to such ridiculous sizes, changing the biome of the entire planet. 

In my game I use something similar by saying the desertification of mandalore was caused by a sith artifact. 

If you want something that can do it and is currently supported by the game I would have the terraforming technology be a unique force artifact created by a Jedi artificer. 

However ther is also another option of rediscovering lost technology. The kotor games also introduces us to the reality that prior to the development of any of the currently existing sentient species in the galaxy there were whole empires whose level of technological advancement far outstripped those of the current civilizations. 

Who is to say that these technologies did not include advanced terraforming equipment and that maybe that is why all of the planets are a single biome, because they were designed to be by this long dead race. You could have the rediscovery and reassembly of this technology be the center of a whole arechellogy campaign for your characters. 

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I think you've got your basic ideas figured out though for Star Wars I'd have a real good reason why they planet is being terraformed.  Terraforming is something you do mostly because you need to not because you want to.  Given the speed and ease beings can zip hither and yon across the galaxy coupled with the number of existing habitable planets that don't' require any tweaking, there would need to be a serious reason beyond 'just cuz' to even bother e.g. Melange or something.

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F*cking Sweet, A Terraforming question. This is my Jam, I'm all in.

1. I've read the Red Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. They are really hard sci-fi with intricate detail on terraforming (potentially even too much). They have all sorts of physical descriptions of changes, as well as political and social, but unfortunately it takes places over a century.

2. First from a realistic perspective I'll rain on your parade a bit, but there would be very little to no point to terraform. What I mean is that in the SW Universe there are literally billions of habitable planets, and with Hyperdrive technology basically all at your fingertips.  So from a corporate standpoint it would seem like it would never be cost effective. However despite this i still think it could be done, but the reason/motivation would be highly specific, Such that THAT specific planet is highly valuable for one reason or another. Initial thoughts:

  • Strategic importance for military. 
  • Old civilization ruins are buried there (jedi/sith temples, older civs)
  • "Fix" a broken home world. ie Ubese or Madalore. In this sense its a matter of pride to fix their world, costs effectiveness be d*med!

3. One could potentially argue that the technology Is NOT available. Sure there is some pretty advanced technology out there  in SW and technically new technology is being created, but Star Wars also falls back on a classic trope of "Greater civilizations have come before".  Such that many of the most powerful technologies are "discovered" from technology long lost from previous civilizations. Finding a jedi/sith/other artifact that can create or channel life or death could be cool especially if it is discovered to create life it as to drain life, **** like that.

Edited by ThreeAM
Seems Norr-saba and the pirate are quicker than I

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I hate to wax non-canonical but isn't the entire Corellian system the product of advanced terraforming, among other things?  While I agree the motivation to terraform is kinda sketchy, there doesn't seem to be a limit on what makes sense versus what makes a good story.  

Were I running this at my table, I might run it in a couple parts, maybe with players playing different characters along the timeline.  It's such a long-term goal that I don't feel like a single campaign would suffice to describe it, and a lot of players enjoy tie-ins from one campaign to the next.  

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1 minute ago, themensch said:

I hate to wax non-canonical but isn't the entire Corellian system the product of advanced terraforming, among other things?  While I agree the motivation to terraform is kinda sketchy, there doesn't seem to be a limit on what makes sense versus what makes a good story.  

Were I running this at my table, I might run it in a couple parts, maybe with players playing different characters along the timeline.  It's such a long-term goal that I don't feel like a single campaign would suffice to describe it, and a lot of players enjoy tie-ins from one campaign to the next.  

YEs, but it was done by a nearly god-like race, with technology and knowledge far beyond anything the inhabitants of the GFFA have. 

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As to the "Is it Possible with Star Wars tech", I don't see why not. Those machines that Vader/The Empire had on the Nogri homeworld that was keeping the Bad Soil bad was one instance. Those big "Raw Materials in, Starfighters Out" machines from Dork Empire was another. So while the technology is not wide spread, probably cost prohibitive and largely superfluous when you have a hyperdrive and a nice planet right next door, I don't see why this wouldn't work. 

As to how to execute the game? That's a bit harder. Probably the best starting point would be deciding on how long of a time scale you want to play. Real terraforming - lets say Mars, for a real world example - would take several dozen centuries, but thats with our reasonably primitive technology. What I don't see it is, a Genesis Torpedo push a button and ZAP! a new planet - so you're still probably talking something to the order of several years before it's habitable and a decade before it's comfortable.

Once you figure out the time frame that seems reasonable, then you can figure out the characters (and their descendants) rolls.

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2 minutes ago, Desslok said:

Nogri homeworld

Honoghr

4 minutes ago, Desslok said:

Those machines that Vader/The Empire had on the Nogri homeworld that was keeping the Bad Soil bad was one instance.

Pumping poison into soil is one thing, improving terrain is another.

5 minutes ago, Desslok said:

Those big "Raw Materials in, Starfighters Out" machines from Dork Empire was another.

The World Devastators do have some pretty powerful effects, but again, ruining a planet is a lot different than destroying it.

 

The real world is a good demonstration of this idea. Even though making places better is much more useful than destroying them, our technology of improving terrain (fertilizer, construction vehicles, whatever else you could think of) is negligible in comparison to the negative effects we have. (Nuclear weapons, other bonbs, arson, whatever else you could think of)

 

In Star Wars, the only thing close to positive terraforming is modifying weather, but that’s only on Coruscant.

 

 

 

 

So the big questions in terms of feasibility are:

 

How drastic is this terraforming?

What methods are they using?

What sort of financial resources will the party have?

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10 minutes ago, Desslok said:

As to the "Is it Possible with Star Wars tech", I don't see why not. Those machines that Vader/The Empire had on the Nogri homeworld that was keeping the Bad Soil bad was one instance. Those big "Raw Materials in, Starfighters Out" machines from Dork Empire was another. So while the technology is not wide spread, probably cost prohibitive and largely superfluous when you have a hyperdrive and a nice planet right next door, I don't see why this wouldn't work. 

As to how to execute the game? That's a bit harder. Probably the best starting point would be deciding on how long of a time scale you want to play. Real terraforming - lets say Mars, for a real world example - would take several dozen centuries, but thats with our reasonably primitive technology. What I don't see it is, a Genesis Torpedo push a button and ZAP! a new planet - so you're still probably talking something to the order of several years before it's habitable and a decade before it's comfortable.

Once you figure out the time frame that seems reasonable, then you can figure out the characters (and their descendants) rolls.

The difference is that while we see technology which can despoil a planet's ecosystem, we really don't see technology which can actually restore it. even the tech used by Vader on the Noghri home world was not intended to restore the ecosystem, but, rather make it perpetually uninhabitable while appearing to be restoring it. 

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1 minute ago, Tramp Graphics said:

The difference is that while we see technology which can despoil a planet's ecosystem, we really don't see technology which can actually restore it. even the tech used by Vader on the Noghri home world was not intended to restore the ecosystem, but, rather make it perpetually uninhabitable while appearing to be restoring it. 

We don't see toilet bowls either, but I assume people poop into something other than their pants.  The 'we don't see it' argument is silly, I don't need to see every piece of tech within a certain genre to make reasonable inferences based on what we do see as to relative capability.

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Just now, 2P51 said:

We don't see toilet bowls either, but I assume people poop into something other than their pants.  The 'we don't see it' argument is silly, I don't need to see every piece of tech within a certain genre to make reasonable inferences based on what we do see as to relative capability.

I think you missed my point. There are a number of species with planets that they'd desperately want to restore to their previous ecological states, but the technology simply doesn't exist for them to do so; Duro being a prime example. 

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1 minute ago, Yaccarus said:

It is stated that it doesn’t exist in that Duro isn’t fixed. Because if it were possible, they would have fixed Duro.

Just because something isn't done, doesn't mean it isn't possible.  That's still no proof it isn't possible.

Like there aren't examples in the real world where something can be done but it isn't because governments don't want to spend the money or whatever, goes right back to my argument the reason has to be something other than 'just cuz' imo.  Restoring the mother world I'm sure is a nice idea and then the accountants walk into the room and spoil the dream for everyone...
 

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34 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

It is stated that it doesn’t exist in that Duro isn’t fixed. Because if it were possible, they would have fixed Duro.

 

30 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

Just because something isn't done, doesn't mean it isn't possible.  That's still no proof it isn't possible.

Like there aren't examples in the real world where something can be done but it isn't because governments don't want to spend the money or whatever, goes right back to my argument the reason has to be something other than 'just cuz' imo.  Restoring the mother world I'm sure is a nice idea and then the accountants walk into the room and spoil the dream for everyone...
 

It's impossible because, as in the case of the the Duros, these species have been seeking ways to restore their worlds. They have actively sought the technology to do so regardless of cost, and have been unable to do so, not because of any governmental red tape, not because of financial burden,  but because the technologies simply don't exist. We see numerous examples of worlds devastated by pollution, catastrophe, natural disaster, war, etc and, while they search for means to restore their worlds, they invariably lack the capacity to do so regardless of their financial means. The technology doesn't exist. Do you think the planet Mandalore would still be a virtually uninhabitable desert, forcing the Mandalorians to live in domed cities, of the they had the technology to restore the planet's previous ecology? OF course not. They would restore their planet. The same with the Duros. and especially the Bith. They don't care about the cost. They want their worlds back. 

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Terraforming isn't a single fits-all solution, rather it must be adapted or even invented depending on the planet's conditions. Meaning that just because the ecological disaster on Duros can't be reversed doesn't mean another planet cannot be made habitable.

It's also worth noting that none of planets in ME: Andromeda are terraformed from "scratch" so to speak. They're not uninhabitable, just extremely inhospitable.

As for technology, it does seem that the Republic hasn't dabbled much in terraforming, becuase, as others pointed out, there is no shortage of habitable planets. In fact there is quite a lot of them. Probably because the ancient precursors like the Rakata and possibly the Gree did muck around with it. If you need a terraforming device for your terraforming plot (a terraforming plot device if you will) simply have your PC find one buried on a planet. Much of the terraforming process can revolve around figuring out how to to activate or repair the machine and to compensate for whatever deficiences it might have.

This bails you out of a few dilemmas, like:
* Why terraform this place? Finding an unclaimed rock that can be made habitable relatively cheaply would be a windfall for anyone.
* Why is it worth the effort of terraforming? The machine is already there, so it will take comparatively little effort.
* Why hasn't such technology been used before, or will be used afterwards? The precursor tech main function is incomprehensible, even if malfunctioning peripheral systems can be understood well enough to be repaired. And even if it is understood, this machine is tailored to the conditions on this specific planet. Even if it could moved or duplicated, it would not work except under near identical conditions.

So hey, go nuts and have your PCs win a worthless rock in a hand of sabaacc and then stumble across some ancient ruins when they go investigating the place. Hilarity will ensue. ;)

Edited by penpenpen

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5 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

Terraforming isn't a single fits-all solution, rather it must be adapted or even invented depending on the planet's conditions. Meaning that just because the ecological disaster on Duros can't be reversed doesn't mean another planet cannot be made habitable.

It's also worth noting that none of planets in ME: Andromeda are terraformed from "scratch" so to speak. They're not uninhabitable, just extremely inhospitable.

As for technology, it does seem that the Republic hasn't dabbled much in terraforming, becuase, as others pointed out, there is no shortage of habitable planets. In fact there is quite a lot of them. Probably because the ancient precursors like the Rakata and possibly the Gree did muck around with it. If you need a terraforming device for your terraforming plot (a terraforming plot device if you will) simply have your PC find one buried on a planet. Much of the terraforming process can revolve around figuring out how to to activate or repair the machine and to compensate for whatever deficiences it might have.

This bails you out of a few dilemmas, like:
* Why terraform this place? Finding an unclaimed rock that can be made habitable relatively cheaply would be a windfall for anyone.
* Why is it worth the effort of terraforming? The machine is already there, so it will take comparatively little effort.
* Why hasn't such technology been used before, or will be used afterwards? The precursor tech main function is incomprehensible, even if malfunctioning peripheral systems can be understood well enough to be repaired. And even if it is understood, this machine is tailored to the conditions on this specific planet. Even if it could moved or duplicated, it would not work except under near identical conditions.

So hey, go nuts and have your PCs win a worthless rock in a hand of sabaacc and then stumble across some ancient ruins when they go investigating the place. Hilarity will ensue. ;)

For technology that powerful, the Empire will want it. Sure, they may not be in the business of helping planets, but they would find a use.

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15 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

For technology that powerful, the Empire will want it. Sure, they may not be in the business of helping planets, but they would find a use.

If the planet is remote enough, the empire might not notice that that a previously unimportant uninhabitable rock is now an unimportant habitable rock. If it's not a significant strategic resource, they might as well chalk it up as mapping error. But, yes, keeping such a machine a secret from the empire until the process is done and the machine rendered useless should be high on any presumptive terraformer's to-do list.

If one wanted to mess around with the players (like any good GM) you could have a team of from the Imperial Geological Survey Core land and take some extraordinary readings and leave the players terrified when they immediately race back to coruscant to report this extraordinary find. Naturally, once they return, their report will be filed away somewhere until proper resources can be allocated to further investigate it, once this damned rebellion is dealt with...

Meanwhile, the empire will naturally put their top men to work studying it. Top. Men.

Edited by penpenpen

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Ok so since I think some missed my edit in the OP, let me repeat it here. 

Do not derail this into a "You can/can't do this Because Canon" discussion.   That's not what I'm asking.  As stated above, I don't give a flying wamprat's feces what canon says.  It's my table and I'll play it if I want.   So just STOP that debate right now.  

The actual question of this thread, to which some of you have replied to (and I thank you), is HOW would you do it.  Not CAN you do it.

HOW would you break down what is a large scale project, into smaller, more obtainable goals for a party to work towards?   If you have ideas towards that topic, then by all means please contribute.  If you are here to have a pedantic debate the efficacy of Star Wars terraforming in EU/Legacy crap, then, politely, go somewhere else to debate that.

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The "Red Mars" series takes a page from"Total recall" and melts glacial ice for A. Water, B. O2, C. hydrogen(fuel). In the book it takes centuries with our basic technology, but in Total recall it takes maybe 1 minute;  from an alien super technology. 

*Interestingly, that idea is now less sci fi and more realistic in our world due to the discovery or water being in abundance in the galaxy than previously thought.

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