The space whales are back.

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MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
The space whales are back.

But why?

It's a break in the "realism" of the setting I just don't understand. I know some people will laugh at the term, but lots of stuff in the game is fantastic yet not beyond the realm of possibility. Nanofabricaiton, farcasting, etc. Other stuff is part of the mystery or horror of the game - breaking reality is the point of the Gates and a lot of alien tech. QM comms break from reality, but at least they serve a strong gameplay purpose.

The damn sun whales are impossible at every level, and serve no particular purpose in the setting. The description of them makes me think nobody at Posthuman took high-school physics. But I know that discussion threads on this forum have pointed this out before, and I'm pretty sure Posthuman members were involved in those.

I guess this is a just a pet peeve, but I just don't get it. Move them to a gas giant and they're giant blimp wildlife, which is just as cool and less nonsensical.

Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
But I LIKE space whales!

Honestly! Yeah I may never use them, but as a bit of dressing they're a good way to show how boundaries have been pushed.

I do like to try and figure out how such a thing can be done. What are your thoughts on the coronal habitats and the Sundiver synthmorph? My take is they're much more of a blend of tech and biology rather than strictly being a biomorph.

Current Status: Highly Distracted building Gatecrashing systems in Universe Sandbox!

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
I don't like any of the

I don't like any of the coronal stuff. As with the space-whales to me it just reeks of not actually having a basic grasp of physics. It's not a question of technology - there is simply too much EM radiation that close to the sun. Just the visible light radiation over a couple square meters would be boiling tonnes of metal in moments. There's no shielding technology that could deal with that, and absolutely not the magnetic fields the book defaults to. Magnetic fields deflect charged particles like alpha particles (AKA fast helium nuclei) and beta particles (AKA fast electrons) but do absolutely nothing to photons (AKA radio waves, infrared, visible light, T-waves, X-rays, gamma-rays...). Leaving aside all the heat they pick up you still have a problem. Since these things are all staying in the sun, they need to get rid of any heat they collect or generate internally. To dump heat you'd need a radiator significantly hotter than the sun which is... you know, a problem.

Sundivers have very nearly all the same problems. They're a hair better simply because they don't always stay in the worst of it so you might be able to handwave something like, "They sweat heavy metals to keep cool during a dive and are otherwise amazingly insulated/reflective." That still has a problem around how long a dive would stay in dangerous territory - the sun is friggin huge, it's not like you're going through a couple kilometers of "hot atmosphere" and then you're safe! The incoming solar radiation barely changes for hundreds of thousands of kilometers.

I get wanting to have crazy-seeming technology to leave people going "woha, they can do that?" But this is exactly the opposite for me. I see it and go "no, they can't do that," and everything in the setting just seems that much flatter.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
I always considered space

I always considered space whales to be the logical extremes of uplifting. uplifting in itself seems a more "Because we can" action rather than what purpose would this serve outside itself

GRAAK GRAAK's picture
ORCACommander wrote:I always

ORCACommander wrote:
I always considered space whales to be the logical extremes of uplifting. uplifting in itself seems a more "Because we can" action rather than what purpose would this serve outside itself

I think the issue here is not as much "why space whales", but "why space whales in the sun?!".

As the OP wrote moving them to a gas giant would have perfect sense, and I agree with you that those uplift have an ecological value (in gas giants).

I've read on reddit that some of the changes in the setting were made to reflect the more recent discoveries in science (apparently some staff guy told this at GenCon). I don't know what they were referring to, but they haven't even touched the scientific issue of sun whales (magnetic field can't deflect radiation, only charged particles).

Grim G Grim G's picture
It all makes sense to me.

MAD Crab wrote:
But why?

It's a break in the "realism" of the setting I just don't understand. I know some people will laugh at the term, but lots of stuff in the game is fantastic yet not beyond the realm of possibility. Nanofabricaiton, farcasting, etc. Other stuff is part of the mystery or horror of the game - breaking reality is the point of the Gates and a lot of alien tech. QM comms break from reality, but at least they serve a strong gameplay purpose.

The damn sun whales are impossible at every level, and serve no particular purpose in the setting. The description of them makes me think nobody at Posthuman took high-school physics. But I know that discussion threads on this forum have pointed this out before, and I'm pretty sure Posthuman members were involved in those.

I guess this is a just a pet peeve, but I just don't get it. Move them to a gas giant and they're giant blimp wildlife, which is just as cool and less nonsensical.


Here's how I see it. Hard Sci-Fi always needs a logical explanation. How these whales are able to "skate" on the corona is explained using real science. Is it exaggerated? Of course, all science fiction is exaggerated, that's why it's fiction. What I love about the setting is that it boldly claims this stuff is possible and backs it up with an explanation. It makes all of this seem real and awesome and makes you want to live in it despite the whole extinction thing.
ORCACommander wrote:
I always considered space whales to be the logical extremes of uplifting. uplifting in itself seems a more "Because we can" action rather than what purpose would this serve outside itself

I would highly disagree. We mess with the brains of animals all the time. It seems logical for all the psychosurgical facts and resleeving practices had to be theories tested at some point. If you can get a raven to become civilized, then you know what makes the human brain work. Even something as extreme as an octopus has merits for uplifting; if you can make them sapient, then you know you can make a human intelligence decentralized.
GRAAK GRAAK's picture
Grim G wrote:

Grim G wrote:

Here's how I see it. Hard Sci-Fi always needs a logical explanation. How these whales are able to "skate" on the corona is explained using real science.

Except it's not. Unless by that you only mean the "how they move" part and not the "how they survive" part.

Considering we are talking about a big flaming hot star I would consider the second part far more relevant than the first one in a hard scifi setting (or one that claims to be one). The suspension of disbelief required to ignore the fact that anything would burn in fractions of a second is huge IMO.
Moving them to a gas giant would be fully compatible with science on the other hand. But instead we have them in the sun, again. Gosh. (and there's nothing we can do about it except accepting it, deleting it from our personal setting or complaining online :P )

Grim G wrote:

It makes all of this seem real and awesome and makes you want to live in it despite the whole extinction thing.

You wrote to key words.
"real" (seem real) : that's exactly what we are contesting. It doesn't feel real when whales swim in sun's Corona and it's fairly simple to check science and discover it's plainly impossible.
It's far more acceptable when scifi walk unknown paths (conscience, mind uploads, etc...) : you can stretch the limits of belief at libitum. But when a concept conflicts with basic science is easy to understand why it upsets people.

And...

"awesome" : that's the point. The authors chose the "awesome factor" over scientific believability, that's exactly what annoys anti-sunwhales revolutionary party! :P

Grim G Grim G's picture
So firstly, "Awesome" is

GRAAK wrote:
Grim G wrote:

Here's how I see it. Hard Sci-Fi always needs a logical explanation. How these whales are able to "skate" on the corona is explained using real science.

Except it's not. Unless by that you only mean the "how they move" part and not the "how they survive" part.

Considering we are talking about a big flaming hot star I would consider the second part far more relevant than the first one in a hard scifi setting (or one that claims to be one). The suspension of disbelief required to ignore the fact that anything would burn in fractions of a second is huge IMO.
Moving them to a gas giant would be fully compatible with science on the other hand. But instead we have them in the sun, again. Gosh. (and there's nothing we can do about it except accepting it, deleting it from our personal setting or complaining online :P )

Grim G wrote:

It makes all of this seem real and awesome and makes you want to live in it despite the whole extinction thing.

You wrote to key words.
"real" (seem real) : that's exactly what we are contesting. It doesn't feel real when whales swim in sun's Corona and it's fairly simple to check science and discover it's plainly impossible.
It's far more acceptable when scifi walk unknown paths (conscience, mind uploads, etc...) : you can stretch the limits of belief at libitum. But when a concept conflicts with basic science is easy to understand why it upsets people.

And...

"awesome" : that's the point. The authors chose the "awesome factor" over scientific believability, that's exactly what annoys anti-sunwhales revolutionary party! :P

So firstly, "Awesome" is always a part of fiction. Otherwise they would be mundane. This whole setting was made to be awesome, so saying one thing was shoehorned in for awesomeness is a moot point. You can be Voltron in this setting after all.

As for the reality of the situation, you're opening up a can of worms there. The description reads off many features to shield them, a good half of these are also applied to the solar habs. So if you argue there shouldn't be whales on the sun, then what makes you so sure habs can survive between the corona and the chromosphere? This is of course assuming that's where they even are. It only mentions suryas traveling there to survey solar weather and doesn't specify how long they stay there. For all we know this is all happening above the atmosphere where the rules of conduction and convection don't apply.

I don't know about you, but I'm not an expert on solar science. It seems real to me. Plus this argument feels moot since we know they will never remove something so iconic to the setting.

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
I (and I assume people who

I (and I assume people who share my opinion of sun whales) don't like coronal habs, obviously. I said as much in this very thread.

Quote:
happening above the atmosphere

Just... what? It's the sun, and I'm talking about solar radiation, AKA light.

You don't need to be a solar scientist. I'm not. But I know the difference between conductive heat transfer and radiative heat transfer, as well as what magnetic fields can and can't apply force to. Any high school student should know that, but I'm starting to lose hope that's actually true.

I don't disagree that it's probably hopeless. I just read the post-gencon update and apparently they're busy making space-whale pins. Clearly somebody at Posthuman loves their sun whales a bit much.

Zen Walrus Zen Walrus's picture
Praise the Sun.

Praise the Sun.

sysop sysop's picture
Doylist answer: Because they

Doylist answer: Because they're fun.

If they ain't for for your game, feel free to leave them out. ;p

I fix broken things. If you need something fixed, mention it on the suggestions board.
I also sometimes speak as website administrator and/ moderator.

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
Honestly I wish there were

Honestly I wish there were more wacky morph options.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
Death to the sunwhales !!!

Death to the sunwhales !!!
Loot their corpses for their magitech shield generators !!!
I want my tanks to be impervious to anything this setting can throw at them !!!
And whaling will be the glorious way to achieve that !!!

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Darkening Kaos Darkening Kaos's picture
Aye-aye, cap'n

Thar she blows, cap'n! Harpoons a'ready!

Your definition of horror is meaningless to me.......
I. Am. A Bay12'er.

Decivre Decivre's picture
MAD Crab wrote:Just the

MAD Crab wrote:
Just the visible light radiation over a couple square meters would be boiling tonnes of metal in moments. There's no shielding technology that could deal with that, and absolutely not the magnetic fields the book defaults to. Magnetic fields deflect charged particles like alpha particles (AKA fast helium nuclei) and beta particles (AKA fast electrons) but do absolutely nothing to photons (AKA radio waves, infrared, visible light, T-waves, X-rays, gamma-rays...). Leaving aside all the heat they pick up you still have a problem. Since these things are all staying in the sun, they need to get rid of any heat they collect or generate internally.

There are plenty of means outside of magnetic fields to deflect photons in most of the spectrum. It's only really fantastical in the x-ray and gamma range, and I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and chalk it up to advanced metamaterials of some sort (perhaps a coupling of the Faraday effect to polarize the photons followed by a means to deflect said polarized particles). That said, I imagined that the surya were ectotherms and likely didn't need to generate much internal heat, what with them residing in the largest source of heat in the system.

But overall, this is mostly about Rule of Cool. I agree though that there should be cetacean uplifts in the gas giants as well. That's always struck me as an odd thing to lack what with space whales, though I suppose it makes sense that Jupiter wouldn't have them (with the Jovians perhaps preventing such a thing).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Grim G Grim G's picture
Urthdigger wrote:Honestly I

Urthdigger wrote:
Honestly I wish there were more wacky morph options.

Just wait till the new morph making rules come out. A friend of mine claimed to once make a slug prostitute morph and I still have the doc I made for my Pangaloid (synth pangolin combat morph that could curl up into a ball).
CordialUltimate2 wrote:
Death to the sunwhales !!!
Loot their corpses for their magitech shield generators !!!
I want my tanks to be impervious to anything this setting can throw at them !!!
And whaling will be the glorious way to achieve that !!!

Darkening Kaos wrote:
Thar she blows, cap'n! Harpoons a'ready!

You think any Neo-Whale decided to make their morph albino in homage to Moby Dick?
Decivre wrote:
MAD Crab wrote:
Just the visible light radiation over a couple square meters would be boiling tonnes of metal in moments. There's no shielding technology that could deal with that, and absolutely not the magnetic fields the book defaults to. Magnetic fields deflect charged particles like alpha particles (AKA fast helium nuclei) and beta particles (AKA fast electrons) but do absolutely nothing to photons (AKA radio waves, infrared, visible light, T-waves, X-rays, gamma-rays...). Leaving aside all the heat they pick up you still have a problem. Since these things are all staying in the sun, they need to get rid of any heat they collect or generate internally.

There are plenty of means outside of magnetic fields to deflect photons in most of the spectrum. It's only really fantastical in the x-ray and gamma range, and I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and chalk it up to advanced metamaterials of some sort (perhaps a coupling of the Faraday effect to polarize the photons followed by a means to deflect said polarized particles). That said, I imagined that the surya were ectotherms and likely didn't need to generate much internal heat, what with them residing in the largest source of heat in the system.

But overall, this is mostly about Rule of Cool. I agree though that there should be cetacean uplifts in the gas giants as well. That's always struck me as an odd thing to lack what with space whales, though I suppose it makes sense that Jupiter wouldn't have them (with the Jovians perhaps preventing such a thing).


Exactly this. Let's not forget that Q-morphs literally can't function outside of the Venusian surface. My guess is that surya can't last outside of their environment and the morphs require certain resource replenishments on a regular basis like hulders with their chemical reservoirs.

Also, MAD Crab. I thought of a good way to explain it. What if surya technology isn't transhuman at all? Solarian culture is said to becoming more alien/isolationist. So maybe they're hiding some secrets that we don't know, like ETI/Factor technology. The way you say this isn't scientifically possible sounds like the kind of conspiracy theory that can act as a whole plot hook for a Firewall adventure.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
It's not clear how far out

It's not clear how far out these morphs and habitats actually are. Given the technology advances, and our own Parker space probe (designed to pass through a low region of the corona), there is some room for this to be plausible.

While magnetic fields are generally useless for deflecting photons, they would be very effective at deflecting the coronal mass, which is all charged. This is the part where you really need to protect yourself from the heat.

In the 2E lore, I haven't read any specific distances. Since there's no upper limit for hanging out in the corona, the physical constraints are just that the solar wind can keep you suspended that far away from the sun (the habitats are at the poles, and thus do not orbit).

Edit: If I could adjust the setting for realism, I would move these from the poles. The poles are protected from the chaotic coronal mass ejections, but magnetic fields should be adequate for that in the future. Maintaining position seems like it might be beyond the level of tech we are seeing elsewhere (essentially a dyson swarm).

Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
I view the development of

I view the development of coronal habitats,craft, and morphs as a logical extension of solar research. Someone- probably Argonauts - wanted to get "just a little closer, for science !" And they developed the technology to do it.

A previous thread asked about gravity in coronal habitats and while refreshing my knowledge I noted that the habs are in orbit around the Sun. This is important, because that means they're in freefall not just floating in place. So anything that has to interact with them is also in freefall and can get quite far from the Sun to cool down. BTW if not orbiting, they would have to be about 6 solar radii distant to experience earth-like gravity,that's pretty far! The Parker Solar Probe can swing by about 9 radii, given a hundred years or so that could be improved upon.

Current Status: Highly Distracted building Gatecrashing systems in Universe Sandbox!

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
That is not depicted in the

That is not depicted in the art but Suryas would have to be pretty shiny. To absorb as little sunlight as possible. At least on one "belly" side, and have radiators/emitters on their back (not solar sides).
Then if you rotated surya on its back it would die because it's heat disposal system would get overwhelmed and destroyed.

Or the radiators could be retractable and the whale would be axially symmetric Then have it slowly rotate to avoid residual heat accumulation.

See PTS? I'm trying ;-)

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ubik2 ubik2's picture
Now I'm imagining a liquid

Now I'm imagining a liquid droplet radiator design where the Surya sprays liquid tin from its blowhole.

Androminous Androminous's picture
Transport of heat to the corona

First, if you don’t like something in a setting, change it.

Regarding realism, I note that people here have different explanations for why floating through the corona (at an unspecified distance) protected by magnetic fields could or could not be possible. It’s too many years since I had any astrophysics courses so I don’t have anything to add to this myself, but I do note that some people actually researching this are not as sure how the energy is transferred to the corona of the sun, and magnetic flux is one of the options being explored. So in my opinion the game designers aren’t that far out.
http://solar-center.stanford.edu/FAQ/Qcorona.html

AllTooHuman AllTooHuman's picture
Space Whales 4Eva!

I have a whole campaign based on spacewhales where my players listen to whale sounds and describe the patterns they are displaying on their skin. They also occasionally describe social media posts their characters write which generally speak of how free they feel by listlessly floating around the sun and not caring about the mundane materialism and strife of the rest of transhumanity.

Okay, none of that is true. Has anyone ever actually used one of these morphs in a campaign setting at all? I did briefly in a news cast about a terrorist faction of fall evacuees who destroyed several Corona stations housing ego backups of people in whales then killed as many of the whales as possible while disrupting any signal that may have been an ego cast so as to attempt to permanently murder those who would expend huge amounts of resources while there are still so many egos in storage needing even the most basic of pods.

While it was something I came up with on the fly while a player was monitoring news feeds to see if their last mission had been noticed, my players decided to abandon my planned campaign and went on similar killing sprees, their first being selkies. I ended up with a campaign world where most of the truly weird morphs were eliminated or hunted, and people who wanted to waste resources on completely impractical practices kept it to themselves.

But back to my question, has anyone ever had a player pick that morph? Or had a GM find a practical reason to have their players sleeve into one?

On selkies... I did have a difficult player insist on using that morph while the rest of the players were on a spaceship. After a week or two of him disrupting game play by asking what was happening to his character in the oceans of IO, I created a nemesis for him, a Neo-Orca who ate him and continued to hunt him after each resleeving. The player never wanted to sleeve into something else, and after a while he just stopped coming around. I couldn't bring myself to allow him to join in a space campaign in a selkie, my other players and I kept trying to explain that a selkie didn't fit in the campaign, but he was insistent.

Perhaps I could have handled it better, has anyone else had a similar experience and have advice on how to make any morph fit into their campaign? Maybe create an npc sleeved into essentially a flat bed truck to wheel a space whale pc around to be used as mobile cover for other players in combat or something?

stalfos stalfos's picture
I never

AllTooHuman wrote:
But back to my question, has anyone ever had a player pick that morph? Or had a GM find a practical reason to have their players sleeve into one?

I never made a game where they were relevant in any way so I am still undecided whether they are not just actually fictional in my canon (the surya exist just in an Experia show / virtual reality, or something).
Chaotic-nipple Chaotic-nipple's picture
Obvious answer: they're NOT

Obvious answer: they're NOT possible, at least with general transhuman understanding of science and technology. Every coronal morph and habitat is reliant on bits of poorly-understood TITAN-tech. The operators are pretty sure they're safe, but for all anyone knows, they're just fiery exsurgents waiting to happen.