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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    I was struck by an idea for a D&D/Pathfinder setting earlier today, but seeing as I am already working extensively on another one I thought that I'd put it up here for people to vote on and debate about.

    The basic idea is that at some point in the future, humanity builds a Dyson Sphere. A Dyson Sphere is a hypothetical superstructure that would encircle the sun at the same distance as Earth's orbit (1 Astronomical Unit, or AU). The inner side of the sphere was covered with rock, dirt, water, plants, animals, etc. and rendered habitable. At some point after the construction was finished and the maintenance of the sphere rendered entirely automated, the civilization that built it collapsed.

    Thus however many years later, humans live in a new Dark Age and only have tales and legends of their time as a great empire.

    I will upload the first batch of voting topics Wednesday, but for now I would like opinions and thoughts on what I have suggested.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Larry Niven's Ringworld books would probably be a good place to look for inspiration. It's basically the same set-up, but with a ring-shaped world at roughly 1 AU rather than a full sphere.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scow2 View Post
    Frankly... Alignment is NOT personality, and the two have about as much in common as a lobster and yodeling.
    Yodeling is the easy part. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an alphorn sized for a lobster?

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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    how would you emulate gravity for those living at the "poles"? wouldn't they "fall" up towards the star? otherwise, interesting idea.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Epic magic.


    OP: please please please go read Ringworld, it'd make creating your setting a lot easier and even realistic. It'd even give you a reason for the civilization to collapse.

    It'd be a badass thought experiment to think up a way to legitimately make a ringworld in a sensible amount of time. Would definitely include epic magic or a deity. Timestop for a few decades/centuries, cast wall of iron/wall of stone ad infinitum, cast rock to mud to provide dirt, smear quintessence on the iron walls to make them impervious to the gravitational strains of the centrifugal force of rotating around the star for gravity. Permanent walls of force on the sides to keep the atmosphere contained. Etc etc.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviting View Post
    how would you emulate gravity for those living at the "poles"? wouldn't they "fall" up towards the star? otherwise, interesting idea.
    Well, there's obviously going to be more than a few differences with a planet.

    Given that all parts of the world receive the same amount of light from the star, temperature would depend on other factors.
    This could be done through technology, with underground machineries pumping hot, cold, dry or humid air wherever a specific climate is desired.
    Or it could just be a semi-translucid "roof" that would act as a filter for the star's light, reducing exposition of certain areas.

    For the same reason, there wouldn't be night. Only an everlasting day as the light from the star would always touch every part of the internal surface of the sphere.
    Some parts might undergo eclipses as planets get in between a region and the star, blocking the light temporarily.
    But if there is to be a day-night cycle, it should come from something artificial.
    The same semi-translucid roof could be set to progressively block more and more light every few hours over specific regions.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    As noted, making gravity work towards the poles is a legitimate problem. That's setting aside the problem of how fast you'd have to spin it for gravity at the equator; I'll let somebody better at math figure that out. The point of the Dyson Sphere, as I understand it, is to capture 100% of solar energy, not to create a habitable space. Which, come to think of it, might be another way to handle this. You could combine the Dyson Sphere with Ringworld and say that only a band near the equator is habitable, then have the remainder of the sphere covered in solar panels of some sort to power the maintenance, weather control, minor orbit corrections, etc. You could even suppose that the creators are actually still outside the sphere, using the excess power to fuel their spaceships and ignoring the backwards residents of the interior. (Or are they?)

    One of the things that gets overlooked with settings of this type, however, is how incomprehensibly vast they are. The circumference of such a ring/sphere would be 585 million miles. Which means that if you start walking along the equator and cover 30 miles a day, your descendants will get back to your starting point 53 thousand years later. I'm not sure it would even be possible to see the curvature of the ring without a powerful telescope (again, deferring to people who are better at math). Which isn't really a barrier to the setting existing, but it means that the Dyson Sphereness is mostly or entirely lost on the inhabitants. Unless you assume that magic allows for discovery and subsequent widepread knowledge of the nature of the setting, in which case it's just arbitrarily vast. The larger problem is that the Sphereness is probably still irrelevant to the inhabitants, so its primary usefulness is as a one-time novelty to amuse your players.

    With regard to day/night cycles, it's been a long time since I read Ringworld, but I think it had another ring inside the habitat ring, with alternating dark/clear panels to cast a shadow on the habitat ring and simulate a day/night cycle.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Here's how to solve the problems of day/night, climate, gravity, seasons, and the whole sphere drifting in it's orbit and eventually slamming into the sun thing:

    1-- make the hull really thick. Thick enough to have it's own natural gravity. That would hold down the atmosphere, too, and keep it thick enough to block cosmic radiation from the sun.

    2-- build a huge apparatus which serves as the sphere's axis, reaching from north to south "pole." In the center of it lies the chamber which houses the sun.

    3-- the sun itself has a rotating shutter around it. This gives you a day/night cycle. The shutter is a bit complex, with slots in it of variable length and width which change during the year to provide seasons. I would suggest making it allow for different parts of the sphere to have different seasons at the same time, and while that would certainly be doable, it wouldn't really be much worth the bother. The land is so vast that seasonal migration of animals wouldn't be possible anyway.

    4-- the climate zones of the sphere would be laid out much like the climate zones of a planet, according to the angle of the sun's rays hitting them. The apparatus would of course block light near it's connection points at the poles, so the poles would be dark and perpetually frozen, while the equator would be tropically hot. The sun's housing would block enough light above and below to create tundra for millions of miles while still not making it pitch dark.

    5-- weather patterns in a dysonsphere would no doubt be real humdingers! A single storm could last for weeks.

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    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kislath View Post
    Here's how to solve the problems of day/night, climate, gravity, seasons, and the whole sphere drifting in it's orbit and eventually slamming into the sun thing:

    1-- make the hull really thick. Thick enough to have it's own natural gravity. That would hold down the atmosphere, too, and keep it thick enough to block cosmic radiation from the sun.
    I know this is a fictional/fantasy setting, but using real-life physics, this wouldn't work: inside a (homogenous) sphere, no net gravitational forces are felt from the shell.

    Nothing says you can't handwave that away; a lot of the materials needed for such a world must have near-magical properties anyway (such as scrith).

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Well, there is that, I guess, but have we ever actually stood inside a huge sphere so big that we couldn't even tell that we were IN a huge sphere? I'm just wondering if the sheer size of the thing would enter into the equation. Would the chunk of hull 8 million miles away have the same pull on me as the hull right below my feet?

    If so, then, yeah, okay, I guess we can still set the whole thing spinning for some centrifugal action.
    Last edited by Kislath; 2014-02-05 at 05:02 PM.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jendekit View Post
    I will upload the first batch of voting topics Wednesday, but for now I would like opinions and thoughts on what I have suggested.
    I said I would, so here's the first batch of voting topics:

    1. Should the setting be fantasy, sci-fi, or sci-fi disguised as fantasy ("magic" is simply technology that has been forgotten)?

    2. Should there be an eternal day, or should some system be set up to simulate night?

    3. How high should the tech level (Ex.: stone age, bronze age, medieval Europe, etc.) be?

    Thanks to everyone who has already pitched in!

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kislath View Post
    Well, there is that, I guess, but have we ever actually stood inside a huge sphere so big that we couldn't even tell that we were IN a huge sphere? I'm just wondering if the sheer size of the thing would enter into the equation. Would the chunk of hull 8 million miles away have the same pull on me as the hull right below my feet?
    No.
    Last edited by The Grue; 2014-02-05 at 05:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Well, alrighty then. It'll have to spin.

    Magic or Tech? I guess that depends on the methods used to build this thing.

    Day/night is handy if you want to have things like plants that live and reproduce.

    How old will it be? That should give you an idea of the level of civilization.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    1. The sphere itself should be sci-fi, but the setting could go either way. I'm inclined to go fantasy, because if you don't leave a single world it has less of a sci-fi feel. Sci-fi disguised as fantasy definitely works.

    2. You definitely want a day/night cycle. As I said, shading the inner surface with something orbiting the sun inside the sphere is a practical way of doing that.

    3. The sphere is so large that you won't have anything like a homogenous civilization. Some areas would be pretty advanced, some would be in the stone age. The only possible exception would be at modern or near-future tech levels, which would make communication to all parts of the sphere practical and travel not impossible (you'd need to use spacecraft; a supersonic jet traveling at 1,000 mph would circumnavigate the sphere in 66 years if it didn't stop to refuel). So you can pick based on the system you're using but interact with other tech levels as needed. But I'd probably go somewhere between steampunk and near future for my tech level, because at that point you have the science to start to appreciate what the sphere is.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    The range of vision will be limited by atmospheric haze and obstacles, not the non-existent horizon. A good telescope located high enough to be above most ground/sea haze should be able to see thousands of miles.

    The direction of the sun is always straight up. No exceptions. There probably won't be much undergrowth in forests as a consequence.

    Barring horrific equipment failure geological activity & tides will not exist. Mineral deposits would have to be placed by the builders, IMO mining is more likely to resemble scavenging.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by avr View Post
    The range of vision will be limited by atmospheric haze and obstacles, not the non-existent horizon. A good telescope located high enough to be above most ground/sea haze should be able to see thousands of miles.

    The direction of the sun is always straight up. No exceptions. There probably won't be much undergrowth in forests as a consequence.

    Barring horrific equipment failure geological activity & tides will not exist. Mineral deposits would have to be placed by the builders, IMO mining is more likely to resemble scavenging.
    A good telescope definitely gets you a good view of the sphere. Perversely, you get a better view of distant parts of the sphere (assuming sufficient magnification) because atmospheric haze is a major problem looking horizontally (unless you start by getting above the atmosphere completely). Thousands of miles isn't a big deal, though; a one-degree arc of the sphere covers something like 1.5 million miles.

    Good point on the sun direction; that could have a number of interesting effects (starting with making it hard to measure time/develop a calendar at lower tech levels, which could have interesting ripple effects). I'm not sure it eliminates undergrowth, though. Except near edges, the forest floor gets the most light at noon, and many understory plants are shade-tolerant.

    Once you're advanced enough to build a Dyson sphere, you can give it tides, tectonics, realistic ore deposits, etc. if you want to, so it's really a question of whether the builders bothered to include those things. If you use an occluding inner layer to make your day/night cycle, that might generate some tides naturally, too. But yeah, you want to think about what the geology of the sphere looks like, and how deep your rock/soil layer runs.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Instead of airplanes and ships, how about teleporters?

    I had a cool dream once about these big black pyramids which appeared all over the world one day, and among other nifty things they did, each one had a controllable teleporter pad inside it which worked kind of like a stargate. People went in, paid their fare, and the operator connected it to the desired destination pyramid. After about 30 seconds the connection was complete, and all someone had to do then was walk though the created portal to instantly arrive at the other end.

    In my dream it made folks all kinds of upset, especially the airlines, politicians, and oil companies, but overall, most folks loved it.

    Anyway, if someone were to build something of this scale, they would have needed to implement a way to let people move around and communicate over such vast distances. ( unless they specifically wanted to build this huge thing for the very purpose of keeping people apart ) And something like these tele-mids might fit the bill.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by TheStranger View Post
    A good telescope definitely gets you a good view of the sphere. Perversely, you get a better view of distant parts of the sphere (assuming sufficient magnification) because atmospheric haze is a major problem looking horizontally (unless you start by getting above the atmosphere completely). Thousands of miles isn't a big deal, though; a one-degree arc of the sphere covers something like 1.5 million miles.

    Good point on the sun direction; that could have a number of interesting effects (starting with making it hard to measure time/develop a calendar at lower tech levels, which could have interesting ripple effects). I'm not sure it eliminates undergrowth, though. Except near edges, the forest floor gets the most light at noon, and many understory plants are shade-tolerant.

    Once you're advanced enough to build a Dyson sphere, you can give it tides, tectonics, realistic ore deposits, etc. if you want to, so it's really a question of whether the builders bothered to include those things. If you use an occluding inner layer to make your day/night cycle, that might generate some tides naturally, too. But yeah, you want to think about what the geology of the sphere looks like, and how deep your rock/soil layer runs.
    Barring Kislath's teleporters (note: that's a good idea to make people care that they're on a ringworld) you worry more about the enemies a few hundred or a thousand miles away than the ones millions of miles away. It's easier to get the magnification required to see anything useful too.

    When the only light comes from one direction I was thinking that the canopy would grow to block light more effectively. If that doesn't happen, yeah not so much change.

    All that stuff is imaginable, but there's something in me which prefers scavenging ancient robots to being given fake mineral deposits to mine. I think it's the same part that went 'Yeah, riiight' when I heard an argument that fossils were placed by god to test people's faith.

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    1. I would say there definitely has to be sci-fi basis for the world. The idea of scavenging the remains left behind by the creators is just too good. Perhaps then science as magic would be the best option.

    2. Eternal day would drive human minds insane over time. Have a day/night cycle, although you might make it complicated by basing it off of eclipses of various natural and manufactured orbiting bodies.

    3. Have the tech level vary, with those who advance more with-holding their knowledge from the others. This can build virtual slavery conditions, making an intriguing story about if that is right and creating the potential for a lot of conflicts. Perhaps the original creators are still around, but have ensconced themselves as archmages, directing experiments from small local ones to giant world-spanning ones.
    I have returned, and plan on focusing on world-building. Issues are being dealt with.

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    Thread won! I don't think I have the authority to do that but whatever

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    The population and population distribution is something to consider.

    How did these people get where they are today?

    Were the original inhabitants all plonked down in one spot from which they dispersed, or were little pockets of people originally scattered all over the sphere?
    Were the original colonists one big homogenized race or civilization, or were the various civilizations of their homeworld separated and scattered?

    Was any attempt made to keep them in contact with each other, or was the opposite goal desired, keeping everyone apart from each other?

    WHY did the builders build it in the first place? Overcrowding? Constant war? They just thought it would be cool?

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    Default Re: Dyson World (Community-"World" Building Project)

    1) Scifieyish, definitely; disguised either as magic, or as natural parts of the world the people inhabit. Remnants are all over the place--some things still work, others notsomuch.
    2) There'll need to be something to create darkness and nighttime.
    3) It's a huge place. Presumably whoever built it, if still alive, will have either moved on to more awe-inducing projects, or proceeded to set themselves up as "gods", or possibly both(this way, multiple tech levels can exist through the whole thing).


    Now then, HISTORY...Everything has a history; here's a possible history for this thing.

    This is so mindbogglingly big, it doesn't need to be a single time-period technology or anything. It can play host to all sorts of settings and worlds (within reason--there is a point of technology at which you'd wonder "Why haven't they discovered and wiped out the less-developed societies in this thing?")
    This is just too good for me to not put some thought into. It's an inside-out world, with the size of about a third(maybe a third, I guess? I don't really know) of the solar system that we all live in and are familiar with IRL.

    It starts with overpopulation creating more conflict than it was worth, combined with discovery of the facts the earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits the earth, and the earth spins on its axis. From that point, it's a long-term project to reach the moon and create something that functions as a space elevator, between the earth and the moon.

    The planet is united; all alignments are unified (or at least, no longer in constant conflict) by this goal of reaching out to the stars. Mindsets like that of hardliner paladins (example: Miko Miyazaki of the Sapphire Guard in the OOTS comic) rise and speak against the idea of unification, start civil wars over it, and in the end, are driven to near-extinction as a result of these wars (in which the proponents of unification worked together to cover each others' weak points). Any remaining hardliners (paladin, devil-born, or otherwise) go into hiding--there is little place in this new, unified, global society, for folks who insist upon focusing entirely on earthly conflict rather than reaching for the unearthly.
    Spoiler
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    Those sorts of narrow-minded folks will rise again at a later point in time, but we'll get back to them later in this post, when they start a war across the entirety of the sphere.


    By the time you've reached the moon with your elevator, you have the technology/ability to proceed with a further project--Placing a wall around the space elevator, in effort to protect it from meteorite impacts.

    After that goal is reached, the next obvious step is to try and put a roof over the earth(We're assuming here, that technology and energy production has reached a point where the sun is no longer necessary to sustain life).
    To accomplish this new goal, picture the Earth as the hub of a wheel, and the space elevator is one of the spokes. Build additional "spokes" (not all of them need to be elevators--they just all need to reach the same height). After connecting all those spokes, you now have an artificial ring around the planet, something to rival the rings of Saturn and Jupiter.
    Now you make another set of spokes, that runs perpendicular to the first ring (ex: If the first ring runs through the north pole and the south pole, this second ring will run the length of the equator).

    Now you have your second ring in place, you begin to expand the areas where they connect. By this point in time, firearms or lasers of some sort have been developed with a goal of breaking up would-be meteorites, and these weapons have been getting installed into each of these spokes, and the roofs, as you go.
    Spoiler
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    That's how the civilization eventually falls--think "American civil war", but multiply it by a few million magnitudes. This war will be fought using the meteorite defense systems that gets installed throughout the spheres, instead of bayonet-rifles.


    After you've finished expansion of the roof, to encompass the earth....Now is when the greatest portion of the project comes in--Downgrading Mars. Instead of being it's own planet, work is put into turning it into the moon of this new earth. From there, you repeat the first half of your original process (space elevator to the "moon", something to protect the elevator, one set of spokes and a wheel, that runs the length of the equator)...

    NOW, instead of setting up a second set of spokes that runs through the north and south poles...You attempt, from both ends of your wheel, to reach out and touch Venus.
    Take note, through the whole process of establishing elevators to Mars, and Venus, the weapons tech that protects from meteorites has been getting more advanced.
    Throughout the project that reaches out to Venus, an absolutely absurd amount of this weapon tech is employed, every bit of the way (this is taking literally everything which can be mined out of Earth and Mars, and everything that can be gleaned from caught bits and pieces of comets--you want to protect this project from destruction, as best as you can). Rockets are even installed on one side of the wheel, to try and thrust the whole thing closer to Venus.
    Spoiler
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    These rockets can later be the site of a volcano/fire deity worshiping society.


    And I am tapped out of ideas--does anyone else want to pick up where this possible history is leaving off? I was going on the premise that the unified alignments were expanding the project consistently to greater heights (next step after grabbing Venus, would be to expand an "umbrella" over it by expanding the size of the wheel that's formed between the Earth-sphere and Mars) while the "miko miyazaki"s who lost the initial civil wars were slowly expanding their underground group of malcontents (spreading through the sphere-project as portions are completed) and finding otherworldly powers that weren't fond of unification (or who still wanted the other alignments gone)
    Last edited by King G; 2014-02-17 at 10:53 PM. Reason: Finished post

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