Fenspace Rules

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This page is written or contains material written in the metafictional (or OOC) voice. This material may contain spoilers, Easter Eggs, or other data not generally known in the world of Fenspace. The reader is duly warned. -The Mgt.

The rules are actually pretty simple, based around a genre directive and a few basic guidelines.

Genre Directive

This is not a dystopia.

Fenspace is intended to be an optimistic near-future space opera. What this means is that neither the Earth nor the rest of the solar system are wracked by wars, corruption, crime, environmental collapse, peak oil, etc. At least, no more so than as of where we stood on New Year's Day, 2007. There are potential rough patches ahead, but the bulk of humanity is looking forward and has better than even odds of making it through with civilization still intact. There are still Big Bads, a shadowy conspiracy or two and plenty of mooks for the heroes to smack around of course, but they are defeatable.

In this light, those who wish to write stories involving catastrophic Mundane wars using handwavium-enhanced weaponry, the total corruption & greed of earthbound politics, the general apathy and/or suckiness of the human race, etc. are kindly invited to do their own thing elsewhere.

(Any attempt to argue that the world must suck because it's "realistic" will fall on deaf ears. As a wiser man than the Management once said, "Only a bitter little adolescent boy could confuse realism with pessimism.")

The Rules

Rule #0

  • This is a collaborative writing project, which means there's a whole bunch of people adding their ideas to the pot. As a contributor, you're expected to behave like the adults that you are (or at least are pretending to be on the internet) when participating. As the man said, "Don't be mean. We don't have to be mean."
    • a) Offering constructive criticism (why don't you do this?) is good. Saying 'you can't do that' is not constructive.
    • b) Since this is a collaborative writing project, no one writer can hog all the Good Stuff without upsetting the other writers. Don't step on anyone else's toes - don't consume too much Cool at once, don't try to be better than the already-established "best in Fenspace" at something, and talk with people before you do things that No One Else Can Do.
    • c) When Rule #0 conflicts with any other rule, Rule #0 trumps the other rule. As Mustrum Ridcully would put it, they're "more of a guideline".

Rule #1

The Mgt would also like to remind you that handwavium is not magic, nor should it be treated as such.

Mal-3, August 30, 2008

  • Handwavium is like a cat; it doesn't go where you tell it to, it goes where it wants to. If you're trying to get a random device with no plan in mind, then that's exactly what you'll get. If you have a specific device or set of devices in mind, you will get something close but not exactly identical to your specifications within these limits:
    • a) You can't show handwavium a picture of your desired genre vehicle and have it build one for you.
    • b) Handwavium has to be combined with existing hardware in order to accomplish anything. For best results the device should have some tangental relationship to the desired end goal: a car's engine becomes a spacedrive, a fence becomes a collapsible air dome, a laptop becomes an AI-capable supercomputer, etc.
    • c) Handwavium has quirks. The more complex and interesting the device you're trying to build is, the quirkier it will be on average.
      • i) Some strains of handwavium are quirkier than others.
      • ii) Quirks don't apply to critical life-support systems - air, water, food, sewer. Power systems can be quirky, but never to a life-threatening extent.
    • d) If handwavium is like a cat, then using it to create weapons is like giving a cat a bath; difficult and full of extreme pain. To wit:
      • i) Any attempt to use handwavium to create advanced genre weapons (phasers, antimatter bombs, any type of anime death ray, etc.) will fail without reservation.
      • ii) Handwavium is not naturally explosive, either chemically or nuclear. Adding handwavium to an explosive device will just destroy the handwavium.
      • iii) Handwavium can be used to enhance simple weaponry (swords, knives, staves, clubs, etc.) but the enhancement will not increase the total effectiveness as a weapon - a waved sword may not need further sharpening, but it won't become a Hackmaster +12.
      • iv) Weapons designed and built using no or effectively no (=<1 mg per kilo) handwavium can be powered by a 'wave-based energy source and mounted in handwavium vehicles without difficulty or losing effectiveness.
      • v) Those who wish to point out that handwavium-based spacecraft already constitute a kinetic-energy weapon (see Rule 5 for details) are referred to the Genre Directive for further discussion.
      • vi) "Weapons-grade handwavium," material that can be used to create phasers, antimatter bombs, anime death rays, etc. is considered a major Plot Point and may be used as a McGuffin in future stories. As such, any use or suggestion thereof must be discussed by the writers as a group before thrown into the setting.

Rule #2

  • You can get one biomod, you get only one, and after you get it, you can't get rid of it, barring major reconstructive surgery - and sometimes not even then.
    • a) Biomods are physical alterations and like anything else that makes substantial invasive changes to a biological system, may well cause corresponding changes in physical appearance.
    • b) Particularly strong handwavium fumes over a period of time may be enough to biomod someone, but that's about it, and that only because the lungs are so efficient at absorbing the stuff.

Rule #3

  • If you have some handwavium, you can turn it into more handwavium, but you have to feed it something. The fastest it grows should be about doubling in size every day, but if you want more in a hurry then many Fen will share. What you feed your handwavium may have effects on it's appearance and upon quirks resulting from use. See 1c, above.

Rule #4

  • Space combat is more like Bronze Age warfare than modern warfare - you might shoot things at each other but the decisive role usually involves getting up close and personal. This is because:
    • a) handwavium hulls are relatively resistant to hardtech weapons. Just about any handwavium hull will be bulletproof and it's not difficult to make them proof against anti-tank weapons (although not everyone bothers to).
    • b) See 1d, above.
    • c) Bigger ships tend to be slower than smaller craft, but smaller craft, which control the engagement ranges, have less ability to inflict hurt. But they can 'land' boarders relatively easily.

Rule #5

  • Handwavium-enhanced engines tend to produce speed drives, which allow vehicles to fly around without needing lots of fuel, cornering on dimes, etc.
    • a) The top velocity of a speed drive is determined by the total dry mass of a vehicle. The smaller it is, the faster it is.
      • i) The absolute maximum velocity a speed drive can reach is .2c, or 20% the speed of light, or about 60,000 kilometers a second.
    • b) Faster than light (FTL) travel is rare and - so far - requires moving outside the Limit, a boundary around 35 and 40 AU away from the sun.
      • i) The maximum FTL velocity a speed drive can reach is 500c, or 500 times the speed of light.
    • c) Speed drives slow down significantly in atmospheres, due to vehicle mass, size, engine power, atmospheric density and local gravity. This makes entering or exiting atmosphere with a speed drive a tricky process. The reduced speed is too low to make kinetic-energy weapon strikes (for sufficiently high values of "kinetic energy") effective inside an atmosphere.