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View Full Version : ETI / Vorlons / Postsingularity Alien Races- what do they DO all day? (Eclipse Phase)



EccentricOwl
2012-02-27, 01:39 AM
Hello all. I've been watching Babylon 5 recently and enjoying the hell out of it. I'm gearing up to run a game using the Diaspora rules or possibly Eclipse Phase.

Both of them deal with - spoiler spoiler - large-scale postsingularity godlike alien races, not unlike the Reapers from Mass Effect or some Aasimovian aspects.

So, I'm curious - what do they DO? I'm having difficulty making any interactions plausible. If a race can build a ringworld or dyson sphere, what do they do all day? I know, I know, players wouldn't be interacting with them in Eclipse Phase but in Diaspora it's entirely plausible to fly over to a Dyson Sphere and do some trading with a godlike TL4 society. (In Diaspora, TL4 represents the maximum possible technology level.)

That gets back to the Vorlon angle. Sure, you see a few interesting ones - but what does the average citizen do? Kosh from Babylon 5 sort of summed it up by saying "You are not ready for immortality" but I just feel I could add more verisimilitude with a more understandable or relatable societ.

Something of a philosophical question, in a way.

GenericGuy
2012-02-27, 01:51 AM
My post singularity civilization appointed itself the regulator of the Galaxy, and violently wipes out any race that dares to use technology to increase intelligence and become in any way a legitimate threat. It also has plenty of “missionaries” who try to convince members of other races to give up whatever pointless endeavor they’re doing, because they’ve already done it and done it better, so might as well join the already post singularity civ.

Doorhandle
2012-02-27, 02:03 AM
If you can imagine a wizard abusing his power for silly, frivolous things on godlike scales, then you can figure out what these guys will be doing.

Also, I imagine they will still have relationships, arguments, friends and lovers, and maybe even jobs.

Fatebreaker
2012-02-27, 02:57 AM
They do whatever you want them to do.

Which leads us to... what kind of race do you envision?

Did they gain their ascendant nature in a quest for power? For enlightenment? On accident? In pursuit of truth? A path to perfect order? A desire for freedom? Out of fear? To save someone?

Did they even see their condition for what it is? If they perceive the world differently, can they even recognize their own nature? If they reached this peak of civilization slowly, or through great adversity, would they even realize that they had become something so great, or was is just another Tuesday?

Decide what role your aliens play in your story. Decide who they were. Decide how they became who they are. I think you'll find your answers there. Or at least, you'll have a better idea of where to look.

jpreem
2012-02-27, 03:04 AM
Play Pong. Lots of Pong.

Alleran
2012-02-27, 03:12 AM
I believe it was Daniel Jackson who once phrased the general Ascended viewpoint as "contemplating their own enlightenment" with a meaning of "contemplate their navel" right beside it.

EDIT: That being said, I'm of the opinion that the Ancients (maybe not so much the Others, but them too) were quite capable of - and did - make several little "nudges" and arrange for a variety of convenient coincidences over the course of SG1 and perhaps SGA (to a lesser extent).

Sith_Happens
2012-02-27, 03:27 AM
Well, I'm assuming that such a hyper-advanced society would have the most awesome video games (or whatever comes after video games) ever.:smallbiggrin:

...Really, it depends on the overall personality of the society in question. Just decide what members of the species would do in their free time if they weren't advanced to a godlike stage, and have them do a lot more of it due to advanced their technology past the need for anyone to work.

Doorhandle
2012-02-27, 03:51 AM
Depending on the speices, they may spend their existance making alternate timelines ands seeing how they turn out.

Have stuff like the possible sword or an improbablity drive.

Binks
2012-02-27, 02:10 PM
It completely depends on the race. One that got where it is via philosophy and the like (ascended) will probably be mostly content to just continue that philosophy. One that got there through technology is probably advancing that technology beyond anything the pre-singularity races can imagine, harnessing cosmic powers to do anything they want ("Where did I leave my keys? Hmm...time to wind up the time viewer and check in on my past self I suppose.").

The better question is not 'what do they do all day' but rather 'what do you want them to be doing all day?' If you don't already know who they are you can design them to do anything you want.
You want them interfering? They're playing a great galactic game of 'change the universe however you like so long as you're not caught using advanced technology.' They're going around nudging things so slightly that they're undetectable, and not telling the other races (this also gives you a good excuse for why your PCs are so lucky/gifted. They have a post-singularity patron). Continuum has a great example of this if you have the book, otherwise just imagine a game where you score points by having your 'team' of mortal accomplish something, and lose points whenever you intervene in a noticeable way or something.
You don't want them interfering? They have made strict non-interference laws and spend most of their time playing the post-singularity equivalent of WoW.

Mark Hall
2012-02-27, 03:00 PM
About where the 800# gorilla does... whatever is wants to.

By definition, post-singularity societies are beyond our understanding. Assuming they're also post-scarcity, you then come back to their basic urges and desires.

In Babylon 5, the Vorlons view life in an essentially lawful way... by building structure, we overcome the vicissitudes of life and thereby build a stairway to heaven for everyone. Their question, "Who Are You" reflects this... how do you fit into the universal order? What piece are you of this machine? Your ambitions are irrelevant, since service to the machine is good for all; your ambitions will be met in due time, if they serve the needs of the machine. Once you understand that, you understand a lot about the Vorlons.

The Shadows are essentially chaotic... by struggle, you improve, and while some die along the way, everyone who "wins" the struggle is brought higher, faster than the Vorlon's slow method. Their question, "What do you want", reflects this... your ambitions drive you to compete and excel. Your place in the order is irrelevant, because you create the order.

But what do these post singularity societies due on a Tuesday afternoon? Since the singularity and post-scarcity means they don't need to work for money (their needs are met), they serve their own purposes. Vorlons act to further the goals of Law; Shadows act to further the goals of the Shadows (since, as a species, they have a goal of survival. Individual goals work within that, since they understand that survival of the species is paramount). I imagine you have scientists and philosophers and engineers, as well as artists and poets and librarians... but in forms that we are not equipped to understand, being pre-singularity, ourselves.

(Side Note: I have always heard that there is a third question, asked by Humans. "What the HELL is wrong with you people?" That is, IMO, essentially a Good response.)

EccentricOwl
2012-02-27, 06:03 PM
It completely depends on the race. One that got where it is via philosophy and the like (ascended) will probably be mostly content to just continue that philosophy. One that got there through technology is probably advancing that technology beyond anything the pre-singularity races can imagine, harnessing cosmic powers to do anything they want ("Where did I leave my keys? Hmm...time to wind up the time viewer and check in on my past self I suppose.").

The better question is not 'what do they do all day' but rather 'what do you want them to be doing all day?' If you don't already know who they are you can design them to do anything you want.
You want them interfering? They're playing a great galactic game of 'change the universe however you like so long as you're not caught using advanced technology.' They're going around nudging things so slightly that they're undetectable, and not telling the other races (this also gives you a good excuse for why your PCs are so lucky/gifted. They have a post-singularity patron). Continuum has a great example of this if you have the book, otherwise just imagine a game where you score points by having your 'team' of mortal accomplish something, and lose points whenever you intervene in a noticeable way or something.
You don't want them interfering? They have made strict non-interference laws and spend most of their time playing the post-singularity equivalent of WoW.

Probably pretty telling. I guess I should figure out what role a race will play.

In the Eclipse Phase setting, which is what I'd be using, the ETI


seeded the galaxy with self-sustaining and self-replicating Bracewell probes. They have the Exsurgent Virus waiting dormant inside each probe, allowing them to infect any rapidly-ascending artificial intelligence, turning them essentially into Skynet.

I think I was looking at the model of the ETI being a sort of 'galactic gatekeeper,' weeding out races that aren't peaceful enough or aren't agreeable enough to join them - a sort of aggression filter role that the have hoisted upon themselves.

mint
2012-02-28, 03:19 PM
I think you will detract from the charm of a post-singularity civ by making it understandable.
But that's just me. I think the Vorlons and Shadows are trite because I find their whole premise kind of dumb.

EccentricOwl
2012-02-28, 04:53 PM
I know they're unfathomable and difficult to comprehend - in a way, that's why the human response is to try and comprehend them! Nothing gets one's mind racing like a mystery.

nedz
2012-02-28, 11:54 PM
Well, I'm assuming that such a hyper-advanced society would have the most awesome video games (or whatever comes after video games) ever.:smallbiggrin:

...Really, it depends on the overall personality of the society in question. Just decide what members of the species would do in their free time if they weren't advanced to a godlike stage, and have them do a lot more of it due to advanced their technology past the need for anyone to work.

this,
just have them play lots of japanese style RPGs or something.

Tiki Snakes
2012-02-29, 09:39 AM
I figure post singularity Alien races, on an individual level, spend their days desperately trying to keep busy so they don't have to answer that one question.
How come, with all our infinate resources and power and knowledge, do we still feel so empty/bored/etc.

That's why they are always meddling with other peoples business.

I'm not sure I see why they would be unfathomable, unless we are defining post-singularity explicitely to mean an unfathomable change or however.

Mastikator
2012-02-29, 10:28 AM
Consider that lesser species won't have anything to offer, either in terms of technology, philosophy or art.

But their xeno biologists and xeno philosophers and xeno linguists and xeno... you get the idea, may want to study lesser species. Similarly to how humans study animals, watching them in the wild, or cutting them up to see what's inside.

Some may want to study other species "from the inside" by appearing as a member and learning its ways.

Some may believe that nurturing the lesser species and treating them with respect is the nice thing to do.

One fact remains constant, they can do whatever they want and you can do nothing about it.

That's how they interact with other races.
What do they do amongst themselves? Things too complex and strange to understand!

lt_murgen
2012-02-29, 10:36 AM
On e of the other things to consider is the omnipotent versus omniscient question. A post-singularity ravce may be very very very very powerful, with technology and knowledge that makes their abilities seem magical. They may even be able to see into the future / porbbility sphere and manipulate events towards outcomes they desire.
But that is different than being omniscient- all knowing. A race that knows every single thought of every single sentient being, understands every biologically driven imperative of every sinlge entitiy in the universe, well that is something completely different.

Many of the omnipotent races demonstrate that they are not omniscient-
Q: clearly, they don’t get humanity well, else they wouldn’t be so interested.
Vorlons/Shadows: trying to understand where each race falls in their own philosophies is a prominent part of their motivation.

It is possible that your race could bide its time by being out in the universe, living normal lives of ants, people, space whales, etc, then writing / encoding their experiences as that creature into the collective memories of their species. As such, they might be meddling just because it makes for a good story.

Gavinfoxx
2012-02-29, 12:34 PM
Here's an interesting few articles about the concept!

http://lesswrong.com/lw/xy/the_fun_theory_sequence/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/y0/31_laws_of_fun/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/xc/the_uses_of_fun_theory/

Soylent Dave
2012-03-01, 03:11 AM
But what do these post singularity societies due on a Tuesday afternoon? Since the singularity and post-scarcity means they don't need to work for money (their needs are met), they serve their own purposes.

In most fiction it seems to boil down to 'bugger about with the younger races' (either for good or for ill, or just because they're convinced that they know best)

Probably gets quite boring, floating about and being immortal - unless you have an entire species to mould in your own image...


(Side Note: I have always heard that there is a third question, asked by Humans. "What the HELL is wrong with you people?" That is, IMO, essentially a Good response.)

It's notable that the First Ones in B5 are (perhaps unconsciously) imitating or reflecting Lorien by building their society around questions - and their questions highlight their 'younger' status by being simpler and more important to them than his are to him.

Lorien is trying to teach the younger races by getting them to examine their thoughts in response to several key questions; the First Ones have latched onto the questions they feel are the most significant and defined their entire society - and the value of others - by their answer to ONE question.

It's also notable that the Shadows and the Vorlons are the least advanced (culturally, at least) of all the First Ones; that's why they stay behind when they others go - they just weren't ready grow up and leave.

The more advanced races just aren't interested lesser races at all (would barely notice us, even). As for what they do?

Ineffable things, no doubt. These should be societies that are incomprehensible to us in the same way that the day-to-day life of a bee is incomprehensible; they're utterly alien.

(and I always thought the Human question should be 'Why are we here?'; it's defined our culture in reality - and definitely in the B5 universe - for ages)

Grinner
2012-03-01, 03:43 AM
Probably gets quite boring, floating about and being immortal - unless you have an entire species to mould in your own image...

Which is why you can take the disadvantage "Immortality Blues".

It seems like a lot of fictional technologically deific civilizations do that. Take the Xel'naga for instance. They made not one, but two species.

Edit: Now that I think about it, that does say something about humanity.

Spacewolf
2012-03-01, 06:19 AM
(and I always thought the Human question should be 'Why are we here?'; it's defined our culture in reality - and definitely in the B5 universe - for ages)

I think the human question was Who do you serve, and who do you trust

Tiki Snakes
2012-03-01, 09:07 AM
I think the human question was Who do you serve, and who do you trust

I always liked "Why do you want to know?" myself. :smallsmile:

Sith_Happens
2012-03-01, 09:19 AM
Ooh, I just came up with (read: lovingly ripped off) another idea: They can travel the universe on a mission to insult every sentient being in existence... In alphabetical order.:smallbiggrin:

WyvernLord
2012-03-01, 07:48 PM
I always liked "Why do you want to know?" myself. :smallsmile:

Love it.
On topic. I'd say pose problems to each other that would take years to solve. That's the only way they can get a challenging problem. Quick thought though they would be beyond most forms of today's gaming structure. Just weird.
Also historical reenactments. Modern Art.

Vilyathas
2012-03-01, 08:34 PM
They play SimUniverse. In fact, our universe might as well be one of their playthroughs, just waiting for a frustrated player to hit the "Start New Game" button.

Vilyathas
2012-03-01, 08:39 PM
EDIT: And apparently they like to cause their peons to doublepost as well.

Fatebreaker
2012-03-02, 03:49 AM
They play SimUniverse. In fact, our universe might as well be one of their playthroughs, just waiting for a frustrated player to hit the "Start New Game" button.

There is actually a fascinating theory floating around that this is in fact the case.

The scientist. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Bostrom)
The theory. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis)
Some related stuff. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_reality)

Enjoy!