Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

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Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Arenamontanus wrote:

I have been thinking about doing it myself, but I haven't got the right tools right now. Also, I dream about making a proper height map - as I said earlier in the DEM-post, we are *almost* there, but not quite. So if you feel up to it, please do!


Me? *dives under desk and starts rocking back and forth* No, no, no, NO! Too much to do! Too much to do! AAAAHHHHHHH! *strips naked and runs down the street screaming*

But seriously, besides being swamped in work, I just don't think I have the skills to do something like that the justice it deserves.

Quote:
Hmm, 'happenin' little burg' - what else is there to do in the evenings in Meltwater than the Candy Box and the Red Hourglass? I have the image of the Vista Grand Hotel bar and restaurant being one of the new watering holes for the "upper crust", but surely there are more bars, games and other fun stuff to do.

An amateur sports league? Baseball/softball, soccer, boxing/MMA, ping-pong ... :P ... robot rodeo, rock/ice climbing,

Live-action theatre/ballet/opera (you know, like, with an actual stage and stuff), AR overlay stage background and SFX(!!!!!), holy crap, this could be the beginning of a whole eclectic, traditional live-theatre movement! ("You haven't seen Swan Lake until you've seen it in lower than Earth gravity!")

There're probably a lot of restaurants and bars, but you shouldn't need to detail more than the few that are "pertinent." High-class for high-class meetings, and low-class for everything else (don't forget the live sex shows!) :) *Fondly remembering European walkabout*

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Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Arenamontanus wrote:

Hmm, 'happenin' little burg' - what else is there to do in the evenings in Meltwater than the Candy Box and the Red Hourglass? I have the image of the Vista Grand Hotel bar and restaurant being one of the new watering holes for the "upper crust", but surely there are more bars, games and other fun stuff to do.

Since I've been thinking about the layout recently, it's nudged me into thinking about gaps that need filling, like the entertainment/recreation write-ups. We could definitely use more of those. The Vista Grand Hotel is one that I plan on writing and I also have a rough write-up for a nomad maker clan that winters in Meltwater as a sort of modern theater troupe/circus. I think I'd also like to have a section about campaigning in Meltwater, with information on the major plot points and adventure seeds to encourage GMs to use this Meltwater material in their games. I'm working on a few general section introductions to help arrange the information smoothly and I've also given some thought to some short fiction pieces to divide up chapters.

Speaking of the layout, Adam Jury gave me the green light to use Eclipse Phase-styled layout elements under the Creative Commons license (with one exception being the icons next to the AR windows). I've stumbled around in InDesign and managed to reverse engineer many of these layout elements while learning how to use the program, so I've started to do layout on the existing material as practice.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Updated the layout sample to add the demographics sidebar.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Some wholesome entertainment:

The Meltwater Community Choir

Chorus singing is a social hobby: while it is entirely possible (and fairly common) to do it via mesh, there is plenty of socialising happening at choral meetings. The Meltwater choir started as a "flash choir" - a sudden meme a few years back to get down to Spring Street and participate in an impromptu first of Rishabha celebratory sing-together. The choir has since then become a regular institution. Between public appearances (such as Christmas Carolling, spring festivities or for major hockey games) it trains in spaces borrowed from Meltwater Public School or the HAMC auditorium.

The repertoire is eclectic. There is much Latin-influenced Bach renditions, some a capella J-pop, classic Mandarin Reggae and traditional gospel. Since the point is more to have fun than produce anything perfect, members usually do not use autotuning implants (although when they rendered Nikoh Sato's Te Deum, they made use of a synthmorph section singing the ultrasound parts with interference coordination software). For practical economic reasons they tend to sing open source songs (although ABMI and HAMC has sponsored the licence fees for some modern pieces).

There is no fixed conductor, but Emma Dudok-Zhiwei, a young media analyst at HAMC with a strong music interest is the most active conductor. Amer Rahman ibn Habib (a pipeline engineer) is introducing Arabic music.

Extropian

Teh_Az Teh_Az's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

I'm setting my campaign prologue in Mars; thought this'd be as good a place as any to ask for any ideas about how a domesticated dome would like--how the malls would look, the general atmosphere, aesthetics, etc. Pictures would be much appreciated, and thematic inspirations as well.

InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Demonseed Elite wrote:
Updated the layout sample to add the demographics sidebar.

Looks awesome! working on a cover image right now.

Quite alot to read in this thread, but I have a few questions if I may...

Is the location finalized?
Is it a Dome?
Is there running water? A lake/river/what have you?

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

InsidiousAlgorythm wrote:

Is the location finalized?
Is it a Dome?
Is there running water? A lake/river/what have you?

1. Yes, it is the little connecting hanging valley between Dao and Niger Vallis (and areas next to it).

2. Maybe - the valley might be roofed rather than domed. There might be domes outside it too, for orchards and seed growth.

3. Yes. A stream running along the valley (from a spring in the middle), turning into a lake on the south ('wrong side of the tracks' part of town) and falling as a waterfall on the north (from the 'nice' neighborhood Cloudtop).

Extropian

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

InsidiousAlgorythm wrote:

Is the location finalized?

If you mean the location of where Meltwater is exactly, yes. There's a KMZ file for Google Mars that marks out exactly where it is located. If you don't have Google Earth, here's a link to an online Google Maps page that should put Meltwater's location right in the middle of the image.

InsidiousAlgorythm wrote:

Is it a Dome?

Not exactly the typical idea of a dome. It's more like a covered valley. Arenamontanus might have more valuable information here. :)

InsidiousAlgorythm wrote:

Is there running water? A lake/river/what have you?

Yes. There's a canal with a small river that runs down the length of the valley. On the northwestern end, it cascades into a series of waterfalls as it falls into Dao Vallis. On the southeastern end, it becomes a shallow lake.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

A satelite photo of the very valley the town centre is in can be found here:
http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_013133_1445

Extropian

InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Using Google Maps presents some copyright issues (?) so I'd rather not use that set of images. I just whipped this up (Using Terragen) as a test. There is no city detail to this image but it provides semi correct coloration for Mars.

Meltwater Cover Test

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Ooh Terragen!

Meltwater sits in a hanging valley between two deeper valleys. You don't need to use the Google Maps images, but if you can zoom in on the area with Google Mars it'll give you a much better sense how it looks. Barring that, there are some great images of hanging valleys on Earth you can find on the web. Like this one, which much like Meltwater has a waterfall that runs down one end. Basically, a hanging valley is a higher elevation valley that connects two deeper valleys.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Actually, I already put screenshots from Google Mars up on this thread that you can use as a reference. You can find them over on post #30.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

I'm not going to be able to make it a perfect emulation of the terrain, unless I somehow am able to import geographical data and I'm not sure how to go about doing that. But I do have a fairly good image of a water filled valley as if one was standing above it (On the top of the falls) that I am working with.

Terragen seemed the logical choice given the context.

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

InsidiousAlgorythm wrote:
I'm not going to be able to make it a perfect emulation of the terrain, unless I somehow am able to import geographical data and I'm not sure how to go about doing that. But I do have a fairly good image of a water filled valley as if one was standing above it (On the top of the falls) that I am working with.

Terragen seemed the logical choice given the context.

Don't worry, I'm not asking for a perfect emulation, I was just trying to help out by giving you an idea of what Meltwater looks like. "Water filled" is probably giving the terraforming effort too much credit; there is running water at the floor of both Dao Vallis and Niger Vallis, but neither vallis is filled with water. Not yet, at least. There are still settlements and small habitats on the floors of both Dao Vallis and Niger Vallis next to the water, as well as highway 47.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Meltwater Cover Test Take Two

I imagine the water is this one to be just a part of the river heading toward the falls. I can try to create the falls as well, but I imagine it will be more suited to interior art

InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

I'm also playing around with using the hi res images to create a terrain file, not turning out as well as I'd hoped, but will keep playing with it.

EDIT: I think I'm getting it down, the image converter at least gave me the ability to properly position my cameras... I'll keep trying till it looks right, but I do like the second cover test, if for nothing more than artistic flow. the actual terrain as it is is fairly flat and boring.

EDIT Two: Meltwater Cover Test Take Three using the actual terrain file I generated from the hi res image, the view is from one side of the canyon to the other.

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

The water definitely seems clearer in the second test image. I'm leaning towards that one, myself.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

I was just thinking ...

With the natural terrain (i.e. cliffs) hang gliding might be a very popular sport in the Meltwater area. A few adjustments to the glider for the thinner atmosphere and lower gravity, and, viola, you instantly get crazy people jumping off of kilometer tall (or higher) cliffs on a regular basis.

BTW, I'll be posting the Samaritan corporation entry for Meltwater later today, along with a proposal for the potential route for the railroad. I'm leaning on having it come in from Hellas 53 west of Starck Junction and running parallel to Hellas 47 until the Vallis starts. It'll continue from there on the west side of Dao Vallis until Confluence Gardens, where it'll split, with one line crossing a bridge over Dao Vallis there at Confluence Gardens to the central dividing mesa and going north to Meltwater; and the other continuing on the west side to the valley where I'm putting Samaritan's HQ.

Question is; where do we really want it to start from? And, is there already a railroad down in the Hellas Basin to branch off of? I don't see anything in the Mars KMZ file to show one, and I can't find a map or notation on one in any of the books.

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Tachi wrote:
With the natural terrain (i.e. cliffs) hang gliding might be a very popular sport in the Meltwater area. A few adjustments to the glider for the thinner atmosphere and lower gravity, and, viola, you instantly get crazy people jumping off of kilometer tall (or higher) cliffs on a regular basis.

Sounds reasonable :-) At least in summer you will get some nifty thermals too.

Quote:

BTW, I'll be posting the Samaritan corporation entry for Meltwater later today, along with a proposal for the potential route for the railroad. I'm leaning on having it come in from Hellas 53 west of Starck Junction and running parallel to Hellas 47 until the Vallis starts. It'll continue from there on the west side of Dao Vallis until Confluence Gardens, where it'll split, with one line crossing a bridge over Dao Vallis there at Confluence Gardens to the central dividing mesa and going north to Meltwater; and the other continuing on the west side to the valley where I'm putting Samaritan's HQ.

Sounds reasonable. I don't think there is any info on how the railroads in Hellas run.

A split at might Confluence Gardens might make that little backwater (I imagine a glorified truck stop) a bit more dynamic. Not to mention the earlier discussed aspects of a railroad construction project - lots of people, money and conflict.

Extropian

Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Arenamontanus wrote:
Sounds reasonable. I don't think there is any info on how the railroads in Hellas run.

A split at might Confluence Gardens might make that little backwater (I imagine a glorified truck stop) a bit more dynamic. Not to mention the earlier discussed aspects of a railroad construction project - lots of people, money and conflict.

Well, in that case, I'll just assume the railroad parallels Hellas 53, since it supposedly connects all the communities in the Basin, and have the new track coming off of 53 there west of Starck Junction. Maybe we can get Jay Dugger to add the railroad into the KMZ file running with 53 when he (or somebody, I don't know how) adds the new track and such in. Whatever works.

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Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

The current Meltwater material mentions that there isn't a railroad connecting to Meltwater yet. I don't think we should change that material to add in an established railroad, but I think a potential railroad construction project is a huge plot idea for Meltwater. And the proposal for where the rail would run is important; it has the ability to make or break settlements along its path or uproot settlements that are in the way.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Demonseed Elite wrote:
The current Meltwater material mentions that there isn't a railroad connecting to Meltwater yet. I don't think we should change that material to add in an established railroad, but I think a potential railroad construction project is a huge plot idea for Meltwater. And the proposal for where the rail would run is important; it has the ability to make or break settlements along its path or uproot settlements that are in the way.

Not to mention the people making money off the rail system (Rail Barons), indentured morphs (The Chinese), and some general lawlessness would lend it an old west flavor.

Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Demonseed Elite wrote:
The current Meltwater material mentions that there isn't a railroad connecting to Meltwater yet. I don't think we should change that material to add in an established railroad, but I think a potential railroad construction project is a huge plot idea for Meltwater. And the proposal for where the rail would run is important; it has the ability to make or break settlements along its path or uproot settlements that are in the way.

Okay, changed it to make the railroad a near future project.

InsidiousAlgorythm wrote:
Not to mention the people making money off the rail system (Rail Barons), indentured morphs (The Chinese), and some general lawlessness would lend it an old west flavor.

The indentures, at least, won't be a serious problem with this particular corp. They don't use them. Preferring instead to give the persons in question a normal five year employment contract with the biomorph added in as a fringe benefit.

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Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

((And it goes a little something like this. And, keep in mind that this is the short version.))

Samaritan
Major Industries: Miltech, Survival Equipment, Emergency Equipment, Medical Equipment, Combat Training, Security and Policing Services, Military Contracting, Emergency Services, Biotech, Cloning, Uploading, Genetics, Farcasting
Major Stations: Meltwater (Hellas Planitia, Mars), Pontes (Mars Orbit), The Batteries (Mars Orbit), Extropia

Corporate Logo
Samaritan’s logo consists of a white background with two hands extended in offering, one holding a pistol, the other holding the red cross associated with medical services.

History
Samaritan was originally founded in BF25 as the Kinetic Solutions Initiative, a military think tank based in Colorado Springs, by retiring U.S.M.C. Colonel Mitchell Paige “Hawk” Hawkins. KSI, however, soon gave birth to a full blown PMC. The sudden change was due to Hawk’s frustration with policymakers from several governments who were unwilling to intervene in situations where military action could actually save lives. As he explained it, in his patented, mid-western drawl, “There ain’t no good reason why we cain’t get paid fer doin’ the right thang.” That simple statement has been the essence of his business model since.

Hawk soon moved his PMC into Earth’s orbit and changed the name to Kinetic Solutions, though he kept the think tank under the simple title of “The Initiative.” His orbital position gave him a rapid reaction capability that soon garnered KS a small, but respectable, market share in the fields of site security, hostage rescue, and natural disaster response.

Immediately comprehending the potential of nanofabrication and uploading technologies as they emerged in the decade before the Fall, Hawk quickly expands into both industries. First, KS bought a small nanofabrication company called Tachi Nano-Fab, Inc. that was having trouble getting startup capital. Then, shortly after, they started their own uploading and resleeving subsidiary called Lifeline Biomedical.

TNF’s nanofabrication gave KS near complete independence by letting them manufacture their own military equipment. More importantly, It also increased their situational flexibility during their, increasingly frequent, natural disaster response missions. In addition to the supplies KS dropped with its personnel, it could now also manufacture the food, medical supplies, emergency equipment, and survival necessities appropriate for that particular disaster, on site and as needed.

Though the new subsidiaries were not able to seize more than a humble share of their respective fields; they expanded KS’s capabilities enormously and guaranteed the corporation’s continued success and steady, if slow, growth.

After an incident with the United States government, Hawk decided to move the entire corporation to Mars. Meltwater was a decidedly odd choice for a corporate headquarters. But, after twenty years in business, Samaritan’s personnel were fairly used to their CEO’s eccentricities. When asked about his reasoning, he simply replied, “There’s a lotta good folks out thata ways, b’sides, them big cities make my trigger finger itch.” And so, that’s the way it was.

In the following months the corporation and its two subsidiaries were reorganized into a parent corporation, Samaritan, which is controlled by The Initiative, and its three subsidiaries; Kinetic Solutions, Tachi Nano-Fab Inc., and Lifeline Biomedical.

In time, Samaritan cut a nice little niche for itself on Mars. They gained contracts for security and even policing services for various organizations, individuals, and sites; for search and rescue both on Mars and in the vicinity of Mars’ orbit; and for disaster response, mostly floods, on much of Mars’ surface. They became an important supplier of combat, emergency, and survival equipment for many of Mars’ rural inhabitants, and they spread their Lifeline clinics throughout the planet’s towns and cities.

Though they still have not gained more than a tiny market share in any of their fields of focus, the shear diversity of their products and services continues to make them modestly successful. Their willingness to go the extra mile, always deal fairly, and help those in need combined to make them one of the only corporations that people outside the Planetary Consortium actually trust.

Ten years after the Fall, Samaritan has made itself perfectly at home on Mars. It continues its course, helping those willing to accept it, and making a tidy little profit by doing the right thing, for a nominal fee, of course.

Corporate Policy
Samaritan’s corporate policy continues to be what it has always been, to get paid for doing the right thing. This policy has expanded over the years, however, with an increase in its charitable works, and corporate projects that “just happen” to be good for the areas in which they take place.

One project Samaritan is about to undertake, is an extension of the railroads in Hellas Planitia to its headquarters and industrial plant near the town of Meltwater. Besides giving the corporation better access to raw materials; it will also give Meltwater better access to the rest of the Hellas Planitia, while only requiring that the town pay for a small extension to connect to the main track. Samaritan has even offered to pay half the cost of the bridge over the Dao Vallis, which would be required for this secondary extension to reach Meltwater. While this project will require Samaritan to go into the construction and railroad business, being forced to diversify to reach their goals has never slowed them down before.

With Hawk’s extreme dislike of the practice of indentured servitude, since the Fall, Samaritan has been buying as many indentures as they can afford, often buying up entire families in an attempt to keep them together. Samaritan’s contracts are different than those of any other corporation. In exchange for a Mars adapted biomorph, a regular paycheck, full benefits, and access to Samaritan’s family of services at an employee discount; all the new employee has to do is sign a five year employment contract, then show up to work and do the job for which they were hired. This has lead to many freed indentures staying on at Samaritan once their contract has run its course, though usually in a different position, thereby freeing their job to be used to rescue a new crop of indentures.

But all is not roses in the Hellas area. Hawk has become convinced that a Barsoomian revolution is inevitable. And, finding many of the Barsoomians, and their cause, to his liking; he has decided to support this revolution when it comes. Samaritan is now stockpiling weapons, armor, combat synthmorphs, military vehicles, even artillery and air support, in the huge caverns hidden in the walls of the valley where its headquarters and industrial park are located. Though the amount of equipment is still modest, the stockpile is growing quickly. In a few short years they should have enough for a sizeable army, hopefully enough to give the PC and its puppets a run for their money.

Main Station
Samaritan’s headquarters and industrial facilities, situated in a small valley across the Dao Vallis from Meltwater, make for a sizeable installation. Upon purchasing the valley, Hawk, always the joker, named it Dave’s Dry Gulch, after his father. Though, much to his amusement, the locals usually just call the valley “Samaritown” and Samaritan employees “Samaritans.”

The south-western end of the valley is taken up by a train depot (which will eventually connect to an actual railroad track) and a small spaceport, each with significant cargo handling capabilities. Butted up against the spaceport are Kinetic Solution’s training areas, central supply depot, and assembly areas. Just north of that are Tachi Nano-Fab’s primary manufacturing facilities and R&D labs, mostly backed up against the valley’s north-western walls, hiding the caverns containing the munitions stockpiles.

Directly across from the factories, on the Dao Vallis side, are the main administrative buildings for Samaritan and its subsidiaries. These offices sit atop the wall separating the valley from Dao Vallis. Samaritan’s executives tend to be fond of their panoramic view of the Dao Vallis and the kilometer tall Cloudtop Falls issuing forth from Meltwater’s north-western slope. Lifeline Biomedical’s small hospital, egocasting facility, and its R&D and genetics labs sit in the open area between the offices and the industrial park.

North-east of the industrial park and offices sits a park dome with huge open, grassy fields and a sports complex. Hawk had this dome built with the intention of separating the corporation from its employees “real” lives with their families in the apartment buildings and “suburban” domes beyond.

In the desert on top of the western valley walls, and accessible from the valley floor by massive elevators, are the vehicle testing and live fire ranges. The ranges are fenced off from the surrounding desert to prevent anyone wandering in and being injured or killed during testing. However, realizing that they can’t keep any determined intruders out, Samaritan simply uses four meter chain-link and regular signs proclaiming, “Warning! Live fire area! Enter at your own risk!” Though they do also have a sophisticated sensor net to observe the tests and watch for intruders, and security teams to intercept anyone in danger of “accidentally” entering the area.

Travel between the Gulch and Meltwater is most often accomplished by air. Samaritan even maintains airbus routes between the two to encourage its employees to participate in Meltwater’s community activities and integrate themselves with the locals.

As Samaritan corporate policy encourages its employees to be armed at all times, and even requires it for all adults leaving the Gulch; and, as many Samaritans are combat veterans; trouble with the less desirable elements of Meltwater’s population is rare.

The only real problem Samaritan has had with was actually with the local law enforcement. The former Sherriff of Meltwater, an idiot named Arno, viewed Samaritan as interlopers, and harassed its employees when the corporation first arrived in the area. This mistreatment came to an abrupt end when Hawk, and a squad of Battle Suited hardcases, woke Arno at three A.M. one morning to have a little talk about a recent incident and the unjust treatment he administered afterwards.

The current Sheriff, Tyrone Mauriello, is much more to Hawk’s liking. Though not exactly friends, the two get along well and have a made a deal; the Samaritans will behave and be fully subject to Meltwater’s laws while in town; in return, the militia does not harass them, and Samaritan’s security and emergency services teams are available to help the militia in the event of a serious emergency.

Notable NPCs
Mitchell Paige “Hawk” Hawkins
Simply called “Hawk,” even by his employees; Mitchell Hawkins was the son of an independent mid-western farmer, one of the last in the U.S., who grew up doing his fair share of the work. A fan of practical jokes, his wit and dry humor quickly put people at ease, though his plain-spoken manner and strong mid-western accent often cause others to underestimate his razor-sharp mind and keen intellect. Formerly a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps, he commands his corporation like a military unit, frequently demanding that his employees “adapt and overcome” any obstacles they might encounter. Driven to succeed, and a bit of a workaholic, he demands much more from himself than he would ever consider demanding from his personnel. Never married, he sees his corporation and employees as his children, and is extremely protective of both.

(And, just to make sure you all know what I'm talking about; I made this crappy little map.)
http://i249.photobucket.com/albums/gg205/tachistarfire/MeltwaterandDavesDryGulch.png

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Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Meltwater Railroad Proposal

http://i249.photobucket.com/albums/gg205/tachistarfire/MeltwaterRailroadProposal.png

{mid-western drawl}
Hawk: "Seein' as how Samaritan needs a railroad, and Meltwater an' the rest of the towns in the Vallis could sure as hell use one, this here's my proposal. Samaritan'll build the tracks in red on our own dime. Meltwater'll pay fer the tracks in yella, which'll also be built by Samaritan, as will as the bridge, marked here in orange. The bridge'll be a joint venture, though, with Samaritan payin' half, an' y'all payin' the other half, otherwise I don't figure it'll ever get built.

The reason I'm proposin' Samaritan builds the whole thang, is cuz we got our reputation ta consider. And, I'll be damned if I'm gonna let some fuckin' slack-bellied slaver come out here in our bailiwick and turn my project inta another Dante's Road.

So, that's my proposal, take it er leave it. My parts gettin' built no matter what. But, if'n you don't wanna do it my way, then y'all can build yer own damn railroad cuz yer not usin' mine."{/mid-western drawl}

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Looks good. Making it on the plateau avoids flooding risks (especially since all aquifers directly next to the Vallis are mapped by now), although the ground is not as smooth as in the vallis.

Financing and ownership is however the big issue. I suspect HAMC, NKM, HDD and to some extent Floating World will want to be in on this - having one company controlling the rail-road would be a bit risky for the others. So they would offer the nice and fair deal of setting up a consortium ("Dao Rail" or something like that), where Samaritan might be the big owner (and funder) but the others would have enough shares to prevent bad monopoly behaviour. Sure, Samaritian could just go ahead and build without them, but it would be almost trivial for Floating World and HDD to make it enormously expensive by not selling relevant land patches (remember, they are property developers). Not to mention that NKM is a prime candidate for actually building the rail.

Extropian

Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Arenamontanus wrote:
Financing and ownership is however the big issue. I suspect HAMC, NKM, HDD and to some extent Floating World will want to be in on this - having one company controlling the rail-road would be a bit risky for the others. So they would offer the nice and fair deal of setting up a consortium ("Dao Rail" or something like that), where Samaritan might be the big owner (and funder) but the others would have enough shares to prevent bad monopoly behaviour. Sure, Samaritian could just go ahead and build without them, but it would be almost trivial for Floating World and HDD to make it enormously expensive by not selling relevant land patches (remember, they are property developers). Not to mention that NKM is a prime candidate for actually building the rail.

A consortium is fine, as long as Samaritain keeps majority, but shares are dependent on investment, and he won't be screwed by his "partners" jacking up land prices to increase their shares. He would have had the land independently appraised before he even made the offer. Hawk's biggest issue would be that there is NO "bad monopoly behavior" on anyone's part, keeping the tracks available to every community in the Vallis. He also wants to make sure he preserves Samaritan's reputation and keeps indentures completely out of the equation, he finds the practice of indentures revolting. Samaritan says they need the railroad, but with their mini-spaceport, they really don't. The real purpose of the whole deal is developing the Vallis and connecting it to the Basin. Making the place he lives better for everyone. This is just the kind of thing he does. He just doesn't want to seem like he's being nice.

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Tachi wrote:
A consortium is fine, as long as Samaritain keeps majority, but shares are dependent on investment, and he won't be screwed by his "partners" jacking up land prices to increase their shares. He would have had the land independently appraised before he even made the offer. Hawk's biggest issue would be that there is NO "bad monopoly behavior" on anyone's part, keeping the tracks available to every community in the Vallis. He also wants to make sure he preserves Samaritan's reputation and keeps indentures completely out of the equation, he finds the practice of indentures revolting. Samaritan says they need the railroad, but with their mini-spaceport, they really don't. The real purpose of the whole deal is developing the Vallis and connecting it to the Basin. Making the place he lives better for everyone. This is just the kind of thing he does. He just doesn't want to seem like he's being nice.

Yes, but he has to deal with people who do business because they want to make money. My biggest problem with the write-up of Samaritian is that it seems to be assumed to be almost totally under control of an extreme do-gooder type who somehow manages to get everybody to follow his vision (and has the income to do so). In reality, even companies with pretty nice corporate ethos or genuinely caring owners often have the problem that someone in middle management will do smart things that produces ruthless outcomes. Think of Google's "Don't be evil" plus war-driving for people's wifi. Or IKEA being socially conscious and nicely Scandinavian while evading taxes and running sweatshops (here the owner's ethos might be definite issue - caring about some things doesn't mean one is 'nice' across all domains, and some of the non-niceness might be part of the ethos).

Railroad politics is fun, especially when one of the players has slightly different goals from the others:

The big problem for Samaritian is that Floating World, HAMC and HDD owns lots of land in the area. Worse, a lot of it is aquifer and terraforming claims. Trying to run a railroad across it if they did not play along would mean eminent domain court cases where Samaritian would be opposed by essentially the whole terraforming-government complex of Hellas. Remember that HAMC is buddies with the TTO sub-office for water claims, and for once the Red Eden issue would not be paralysing Floating World. It would be a legal nightmare for Samaritian since the others could tie up things in court forever with them holding all the advantages.

However, these players *want* the railroad (not to mention the public of Meltwater). It is just that they 1) don't want to pay too much for it, 2) don't want to give an 'outside' group too much control over the transport infrastructure (remember that FW is the main customer of HAMC, HDD is owned by FW and HAMC - these three play as a team, with NKM as their independent supplier and loose ally), 3) want to make maximal money from it (especially HDD and NKM). Going ahead without them would not work, but going ahead with them is also a major moral headache. Because HAMC and NKM are not just fine with indentures, they use the controversial sleeving in heavy machinery synthmorphs. Demanding that the railroad is not built with at least some help from companies using indentures is going to be opposed by the others - it would make things expensive (and NKM would not be able to get profitable contracts). It might even run into trouble with the unions since it would exclude their indentured members! Besides, there is the business issue: using indentures would achieve 1 and 3 - no sane company would avoid it, and if Samaritian refuses it will look very odd (the other consortium members might negotiate a deal allowing it, but having Samaritian pay all the extra costs and then some - they would get the railway shares at a bargain price; however, NKM would likely try to sabotage this kind of deal anyway for profit reasons). Yet, if Samaritian budges on its moral principles it will mean that it will now be involved in a project that is likely to be a focal point for indenture labour and local conflicts.

Isn't it a lovely nightmare to try to do the right thing? :-)

Extropian

Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

I agree with Arenamontanus, Samaritan just seems so squeaky clean and convenient. And Meltwater is anything but squeaky clean and convenient. I also have trouble understanding how a corporation like Samaritan can stick so close to the idealism of its leader and diversify so much and yet still be profitable. Its perspective towards non-indenture biomorphs alone seems extremely expensive compared to the cheap indenture labor its competitors will use. I could see a very focused corporation getting away with it by dominating an industry, but Samaritan dabbles in so much, competing against dozens of other corporations in dozens of fields, corporations using cheap labor to cut costs and deliver goods or services cheaper to the customer.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, Through The Looking-Glass

Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Perhaps Samaritan and its leader have a deep-pocketed patron, or Samaritan might have a non-profit status, so to speak. They might just operate at a loss, burning through their reserves while doing as much good as possible. Perhaps the leader has some guilt to expiate or he might actually be a genuinely good person. (They do exist, and you can have one or two in your game from time to time without straining suspension of disbelief.) On the other hand, the more you know about the history of railroad development in the American West, the less likely they seem.

Track gauges, etc., by now have no doubt been standardized, so you could have open source railroads without too much hand-waving. The exact details of construction matter here for flavor text and background. Mars has a hostile, cold, and changing environment. Perhaps "construction" means more managing standards and ensuring compatibility among different sections than the actual details of construction once did. Some idea of HOW to build a railroad in the setting prevents moot speculation on labor requirements and the possible comparative advantage of employing indentures.

I'd like to see Samaritan work out in Meltwater. They provide dramatic hooks for later events in Martian Autumn, the game I GM. Having a slightly desperate (and possibly irrational) railroad developer...

Spoiler: Highlight to view

...who has a deep-pocketed patron would hook Samaritan into the enemy of a PC.
...might need fraternal organizations such as the 8484 Celestial Benevolence Society to ease labor and legal disputes.
...might find rumors of an unrestricted fabber with an extensive database answers to his every problem.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

mrobfire mrobfire's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

I could see Samaritan's past working fairly well (although I would ditch the uploading/genetics/farcasting bit since it seems a bit out of their area of expertise; the nano fab is a good idea for acquiring an in house "shop"). When Hawk decided to get into the PMC business I can see him selling stock to trusted, but wealthy, former military buddies along with some more stability minded investment funds. A similar but more limited sale of stock could have easily provided the funds to move the company out to mars. Then, the fall comes and a lot of the controlling stock of Samaritan just vanishes into the ether, leaving Hawk in a very dominant position to guide his companies future.

Come 10 years of post fall work and Samaritan is the option of choice in emergency relief efforts because, generally, their personnel work there because they genuinely want to help people. However, 10 years is also a lot of time for Hawk to have wanted to fund side projects with sales of stock and, while he still owns a controlling share, his board has started to become quite the annoying group of backseat drivers. Currently he has no problem hiding his little black ops (and his massive weapons cache) in discretionary spending but it does have him worried. In order to streamline his operation so that margins get closer to the norms for a value company so that dividends can be increased the board has been pushing for the construction of a rail line out to Main Station (the fact that this would be an incredible boon to Meltwater isn't lost on them, they know how to manipulate Hawk just as well as he manipulates them). Hawk is trying to find a way to build the rail line without a) violating his moral sensibilities by leveraging indentured labor b) overshooting his available funds c) offending the local authorities and without d) alienating future allies (getting into a war with the Ryukyu Uumakus now would make the revolt... much more interesting later). He is more than aware that this is... essentially impossible and that he's in for an interesting couple of years.

This leaves several open questions available for exploration such as...

Spoiler: Highlight to view

...are all of his original investors truly out of the picture or are some of them just waiting to stake their claim?
...can Hawke raise the capital to build the line without using indentures? Maybe IWS would be interested in founding a workers coop...
...what happens when a drunk samaritan drops hints about the weapons cache in the red hourglass?
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Chief Safety Officer Hidetsugu Endo

Every habitat is required to have a safety officer making sure all systems are operating properly and that it is ready for accidents and disasters. Sure, some places ignore it or to a light work of safety inspections, but they do tend to come to sticky ends sooner or later (just consider the well-publicized fate of the scum barge Versailles a few years back when their cooling systems broke down). Safety officers in space hold positions of trust and power.

Hidetsugu Endo is the chief safety officer for Meltwater. An employee of HDC, he is in many ways more powerful than the CEO: when it comes to safety related matters he can order everybody in town around - and they will obey.

As CSO he is known as a workhorse, checking everything with dogged determination. He might seem plodding with his doublechecking and triplechecking but most prefer it that way. Sure, he is calling safety drills and handing out safety violation cards much more often than his predecessor, but he is extremely well liked. He is friendly and open to constructive suggestions. The only one he doesn't seem to get along with is Heitor Rodrigues de Jaru, the safety officer at HAMC: both men seem to avoid each other for some reason.

Hidetsugu came to Meltwater from a previous job at Eki 31 in North Hellas, bringing his son Toshiro with him (his wife was lost in the Fall). One reason for coming - beside the much better job - was that he hoped Toshiro would get more friends of his own age than in the tiny station he grew up in. He is very intelligent (scoring in the 99th percentile), yet socially awkward and prone to strange ideas. Sensei Lee at MPC has taken him under her wings and are doing her best to integrate him.

He has a major secret, one that stands out even among the other hidden pasts of Meltwater: he is an impostor. His real name is not Hidetsugu Endo. He has no engineering degree from Niigata University. He did not work as a safety engineer at Eki 31 (he pretended to be a Floating World inspector instead). He does in fact lack any qualifications for his current position. He is instead an extremely skilled con-man, able to blend into roles and convince people to an almost supernatural degree. In many ways he is a rare genius (something Toshiro might have inherited from him in some form). Yet he is also compelled to fit himself into cool positions rather than hide in the background. He has been a franchise salesman, logistics manager, pastor and security auditor. If things get too close he will quickly disappear. But this is getting harder as Toshiro is growing up, and he is seriously worried about that problem.

The most amazing thing about his work as a safety officer is that he *is* doing a good job. Like many other con-artists he has perfected the art of getting everybody around him to contribute their skills and then ascribe the result to his leadership. Thanks to his diligent snooping the Vista Grand Hotel did find bad window framing that could have caused a pressure loss. When he got everybody to look for newly developed sinkholes last summer people found a foibe near Spring Street that could have trapped someone. If/when he is unmasked, most Meltwater inhabitants will assume there has been a major mistake: clearly he knows his stuff.

Extropian

Monican Monican's picture
Re: Meltwater: Mars Habitat Community Project

Are there any maps of the city and region yet? It would be nice to visualize the area to plot important points.



Maskin Maskin's picture
*Rise, rise ye ancient thread

*Rise, rise ye ancient thread and hear my pleas.*

Seriously awesome project. Big thanks to everyone for sharing and to Arenamontanus for putting together the PDF. I'd really like some sort of layout overview of the various places, just to help me picture the place in my mind and get a firmer understanding of the layout. There seems to have been some layout maps, but those are gone or locked behind passworded gdrives it seems.

Anyone have any sort of layout of Meltwater?

Transhuman Mind

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