In the vignette thread an adventure idea more or less accidentally bubbled up. This is a new thread to develop this, maybe into a campaign. Elements: conspiracies among exhumans, seed AGIs and the other strange elements at the fringes of posthumanity. I have a small write-up for a campaign background that I came up with separately (in turn based on a game theory paper), and they seem to go well together:
"... the gods restrain each other from trying to be as God. And how the gods try to find ways of evade each other's restraints." David Zindell The Powers That Be form a coalition. To enter the club you need to be transcendent enough, and agree on the rules. What the rules are, mere transhumans will not know. But if you do not agree to them, the Powers will squash you. However, not all members are equal. Some are greater, and some are lesser. There is a division of labour and division of spoils. Some always want more, and there are those who are marginal - the least of the gods. The Least are worried. The Greaters cannot oust them directly: things are balanced so that the Least could resist them and the result would be worse than everybody playing along. But things may be changing to a new configuration where the Greaters have a stronger advantage, and that means the Least might find themselves subservient. So they turn to unlikely allies: the mere transhumans.
This is of course the secret background causing the events of the campaign. But the PCs might never find out what game they are pawns in or what the stakes are. So, what do you think? Can we bring together the Lesser Powers with the 155106 twins, AUTONOMY AFFIX and the mysterious exhuman on the ship? How do we construct a suitably epic ending that is both understandable and satisfying? The Threat: the deep issue is how power scales. At present there are limits to the economies of scale of intelligence and power: seed AGIs find that lightspeed delays, algorithmic complexity, the slowness of nanomachines, and the need to use transhumans as agents limit what they can do. There is no shortage of attempts to get around it, but many pathways are blocked. The TITANs went down them, but when they transcended/went mad they left behind gates blocking them. And many of the gates are guarded by the exsurgent virus. One of the shared goals among the Powers is resisting the Exsurgent virus. It seeks to disrupt things in ways the Powers do not like. Opening the gates seems to be an invitation for infection or other subtle attacks. Even the Powers have to admit that the virus is a worthy adversary, crafty in its attacks. In fact, the current crisis is a masterpiece of Exsurgent intrigue. It has arranged things so that a number of Powers are roughly at the same level. It then left one gate conveniently open. If used, it will allow the Powers to grow to new levels - but that will necessarily lead to a smaller coalition taking control over the remaining powers after a brief struggle. But the gate leads deeper than that: it will allow economies of scale that make it possible for an even smaller coalition within the previous one to seize power. And then another subset... until only one Power remains, ruling what remains of the solar system. The Lessers want to ensure that the new gate is not found, and for that they need non-Powers to get to it first and then block it with the exsurgent virus. Why? As long as the gate is not around the Greaters do not have anything to worry about, and might even want to play along with the Lessers. However, should a Lesser find it everything changes: now it is a game played for keeps, and the Lessers will loose. If an entity that cannot use the gate finds it and does what is needed, then the Lessers have the chance. So the problem is to guide transhumans to a transcendent target without finding out enough to be a threat... while being watched by beings far more powerful and intelligent than oneself. And the tool needed to solve the problem is also doing its best to sabotage the mission.