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  • $\begingroup$ Is the following question within scope? worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/156548/… $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Sep 25 '19 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Hello. I am not a new user, but I have a question that I'm uncertain about whether it should go in Worldbuilding or Physics. Should I post it here to get feedback on this? $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Oct 23 '20 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Qami This is the right place. Generally speaking, if your question is a real-world question with no direct worldbuilding conditions, it would go to physics. If it's a real-world question with specific and identified worldbuilding conditions, it should be here. $\endgroup$ Oct 24 '20 at 4:04

Graduated Questions List

In accordance with Sandbox Overflow!, answers containing graduated questions will be deleted. This answer is designed to be a repository for all those questions that have graduated. It is a community wiki answer, so add in your question here, at the end of the list, once it is posted on the main site!

  1. Gravity magic - How does it work?

  2. How can animals of various species organize themselves against a super-predator?

  3. How could indestructible materials be used in power generation?

  4. Modification to Chariots for Heavy Cavalry Analogue for 4-armed race

  5. In what ways would cryomancy affect the food eaten by medieval people?

  6. Comprehensive Worldbuilding Outline

  7. How can I design a glamour spell for a creature that meets certain requirements??

  8. Anatomically Correct Huldra

  9. How can I refine the rules of precognition to make it valuable in a fast paced enviromment?

  10. Ambush tactics for dummy witches?

  11. How can I build a school around a particular form of magic?

  12. How can existing methods of plumping, genetic modification, and gmo feeding be altered to accommodate the need for plumper, meatier human food stock?

  13. What is the lower bound for lightspeed? / What is the upper bound for Lightspeed?

  14. Designing a magic-compatible polearm

  15. How can power levels matter in a magic system that emphasizes control?

  16. How can religions without a hell discourage evil-doing?

  17. Why would non-kinetic weapons be used for orbital bombardment?

  18. Kinetic weapons - establishing an upper limit when dealing with grey goo

  19. How can an elder god's corporation remove suspicion from its plans while preserving its clandestine monopoly?

  20. How can you eliminate dreaming without affecting REM sleep?

  21. The North Star in the ancient world sky

  22. https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/152522/plants-and-animals-switch-places-how-could-this-have-happened

  23. How can I motivate mages to recruit individuals for a pyramid scheme of evil?

  24. How can I prevent corporations from growing their own workforce?

  25. How can having multiple casters for a spell create excess heat?

  26. How can you discreetly advertise underground death matches?

  27. How can I shift my country's immigration policy to a skills based approach?

  28. How big could dinosaurs get with super strength and durability?

  29. How can reincarnation lead to a second personality?

  30. How can a long lived species deal with generational shifts in society?

  31. Adapting to a sonic world

  32. How can my hammerspace safely "decompress"?

  33. Can We Prevent an Impact Winter Extinction with Modern Technology?

  34. What would cause a sapient race to evolve oral castration as a core cultural part of reproductive intercourse?

  35. How easily can a medieval granary explode?

  36. Long Term Evolution of Double Planet System in Close Orbit

  37. How to create fictional earth ecosystems with lots of megafauna which can plausibly coexist?

  38. How can an illness make one's eyes turn green?

  39. Utility of Class Crystals

  40. Why does magical defensive equipment not work in layers?

  41. Why Would Mages and Adventurers Wear Impractical Clothing?"

  42. Can an Earth-like world of shallow, global, seas be stable over geological time?

  43. Controlling the medieval world with just a network of agents and instant communication


Scale of damage caused by a night of forced sleep?

One of the main plot elements of my story is a series of trials an unknown entity imposes on humanity, by periodically putting week-long curses on every human on Earth over the age of 13. There are other fantastical elements at work here, but for the purposes of the following question, they're irrelevant.

Now, for a while I've been struggling to come up with a good first "curse" to hit humanity with, one that would be dangerous in its own way, but wouldn't be so disruptive to modern society that it would threaten societal collapse from the week of lost productivity and infrastructure neglect. That way they have time to make contingency plans for when the entire adult population is eventually fully incapacitated for a week.

However, I've recently been entertaining the idea that perhaps I only need the part of the world my characters live in to dodge a bullet with the first one, and that causing massive chaos elsewhere in the world might be good for the story. But first I need to get a scale for how catastrophic this particular idea I have would be for the rest of the world.

Suppose the first curse, which begins at 12:00 EST, renders every adult on Earth unconscious as long as it isn't daytime where they are. They don't have to be directly exposed to the sun to stay conscious, but the second the sun goes down, they instantly black out and won't wake up until the next sunrise.

I imagine the places where it's daytime when this happens will have enough time to make reasonable preparations once they put two and two together from the footage online and on TV of places where it's already night and places where the sun is just rising, but in those places where it's already nighttime and it just instantly hits anyone who's still awake, my gut tells me this would cause a lot of damage. For just one example, crashing airplanes would cause massive fires that nobody over the age of 13 can put out or even escape, which would each kill hundreds of people by the time anyone's able to do anything about it. But I really feel like I can't even begin to grasp the consequences this would have on a country where this happens.

If, six hours before sunrise, everyone over the age of 13 were rendered incapable of being conscious until the run rises, what damage would this do to a modern developed nation in those initial six hours?

  • $\begingroup$ I think this is really broad. You mention airplanes but just think about land traffic - that will be a mess with a lot of casualties. And that's literally just traffic - we also have other whole sectors like services, factories, and others that can lead to fatalities and even worse - incidents like fires. Which then brings us to emergency services - the first fire that starts after sundown (and there can be a lot) will never be contained by the fire department. Nobody will also be treated in hospitals - both casualties of this event and any existing patients. It's A LOT OF STUFF. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Dec 15 '19 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ Yeah, I was worried it was too broad. The information I'm trying to gather from this is the scale of the crisis the country would be dealing with by morning, and whether it would be something they could recover from, something that would reduce them to a third world nation overnight, or something that would essentially be an apocalypse that would leave most of the country dead. How should I rephrase the question to be able to get that information? $\endgroup$ Dec 15 '19 at 15:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Feels like you should probably concentrate on how to prevent a catastrophe - what elements and factors can be put in to make sure whatever country that is remains intact after the night. Or perhaps, how to cause a catastrophe. You should specify the parameters you're after - having a nuclear power plant be out of supervision for an entire night might lead to an enormous disaster for not only this country by neighbouring ones, too. For comparison, some car crashes and missed production for one night are more survivable. So, focus on the end goal. Too many factors to guess the actual result. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Dec 15 '19 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ Is this Sandbox question still active? If not, please review the termination instructions in the original post to shut it down. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Jun 27 at 18:55

How can mitochondria DNA overtake the nucleus?

The Scarlet King is an eldritch god formed as the manifestation of the tension between the modern world and the pre-modern world and the rage it creates. Originally it existing as the concept of there being something greater than man, such as gods or the supernatural, or magic. As modernity approached and people began to understand their world through science and technology, the tension between both worlds raged and led to it's creation.

As magic has disappeared from the world, the Scarlett king must enter our plane through normal means. This god was being into the mortal world through one of the king's brides as completely human. However, his mitochondria DNA came from this demon. Mitochondria DNA is separate from the DNA of the nucleus, which comes from it's human parents and takes up most of the cell. It is donated by the mother and provides energy to the cell, although has genes separate from it.

What I need is a scientific explanation for the mitochondria to take control of the cells in the body. This will slowly transform the child into the demon it was meant to be. How can I make this happen?

  • $\begingroup$ Is there some reason it can't do what viruses do, i.e. trick the cells ribosomes into working for the virus instead of the nucleus? $\endgroup$
    – Ryan_L
    Apr 2 '20 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ Try reading Blood Music sometime. I suggest the novel version; the short story, while good, doesn't provide as much relevant information. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Jul 27 '20 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ Is this Sandbox question still active? If not, please review the termination instructions in the original post to shut it down. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Jun 27 at 18:55

How would Isaac Newton defend Charles Darwin?

In my world, when a person dies and goes to Heaven, God may encrown him/her to an angel.

Isaac Newton was encrowned to Angel of Force and Embodiment of Classical Mechanics. Other angels didn't like that, for his works during his life were tremendous. Many residents in Heaven used to believe Heaven was on the sky, or stars had "complete" aspects. Newton's works destroyed all such beliefs. As a consequence, he had few friends/companions/peers or whatever. Fortunately, as time passed and more and more spirits entered Heaven, more and more spirits followed him.

But another event struck Heaven. Charles Darwin was encrowned to Angel of Broods and Embodiment of Ecology! Many residents in Heaven feared his works, for they thought his works might imply that "Humans are as worthy as animals," or vice versa. Darwin himself regarded such concerns as mere misconceptions, for they are confusions about fact judgements and value judgements. Still, he had even fewer friends than Newton.

Newton reminded himself from Darwin, and decided to defend him. Darwin was happy for this. Newton would convince residents of Heaven that Darwin's works are not to be feared, by works of Newton himself. How?

  • $\begingroup$ When you say "cover for him," you mean act in his support? When I first read your question title, I was wondering if Darwin was prone to singing and why Newton would want to cover him? That word needs to be replaced with a clear definition of what you are expecting Newton to do. However, as written this is a fishing-for-ideas question that's very vague. We know nothing about the heaven of your world or what actions Newton could take. I can't speak for others, but I have no experience debating with angels. What specific problem are you trying to solve? $\endgroup$ Aug 30 '20 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH It's semantically same as, "If Isaac Newton was still alive when Charles Darwin published his work, how would Newton defend Darwin using Newton's works?" $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '20 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. As a recommendation, avoid colloquialisms. We have users all over the planet, many of whom speak English as a second language. It's better to avoid the potential confusion. As for the question proper, it might be too broad and/or ambiguous - but I could be wrong. But I'd be as specific as possible. Is there one, specific "work" of Darwin (the more specific, the better) we can focus on? Defending all of Darwin's works, encompassing dozens of books would take dozens of books. That's too much. (*continued*) $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '20 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ To avoid the potential of the question being closed, focus on one, single concept or one specific aspect of Darwin's ideology and ask now Newton would defend that. If you felt you were unable to extrapolate an entire story from that example, you could ask for a second (but, to be honest, it's more likely that the single example would be enough to move you along). $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '20 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ Is this Sandbox question still active? If not, please review the termination instructions in the original post to shut it down. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Jun 27 at 18:53

Making a modern day 9mm gun-glaive?

First there are many pictures online on glaives and on fictional ones. But I'm not sure if it is allowed to copy them here, is it?

The idea is that I have this programmer, doomsday prepper living in the USA that is preparing for the apocalypse as he might have stumbled upon evidence that things are not going well.

This man lives in the USA so access to gun is not an issue. Financially speaking just a little shy of 20 million USD. He has extensive gun and gun smiting knowledge and knows a bit about engineering things in general, like fixing cars and so on. And just because it is fun he knows about making melee weapons. Nothing too fancy just basic stuff like spears and shields.

The proposed design as follows. Imagine a long metallic rod of about 1.5 meters. It ends with the glaive part which is like a single edged broad blade. The blade has a thick spine and measures about 0.9 meters.

Anyway the problems with a gun glaive is would it be too heavy to unbalance the weapon? I thought so then I remembered that halberds had 2 things on on each side. So I don't think this is a problem. Is it?

Second the magazine. Is very easy. I thought to basically put something like a reversed, barrel flush with the rod, sub machine gun on top and have a top magazine. Then I remembered the wonderful Calico Light Weapons System. It has a helical magazine and so I can have it not protruding of the weapon. Basically the barrel would be aligned with the rod and magazine would set behind it as the unique magazine can feed the gun without it being like a normal magazine. Just search the weapon name and you would get it. The FN P90 is another obvious example. And for a bonus it can have a 100 rounds magazine.

Problem is: How the heck would you fire it? OK. Extend the trigger to a lower place on the shaft? But here are my problems.

How would that work in the first place? Pressing a button?, rotating something?


Lastly would it be reliable?

This is not a precision gun. It is like fun project, surprise it will be needed. Sighting is not an issue because you can just mount a laser there. Also is ejection a problem? Can't I just tilt the whole thing a bit?

So. How many questions do I have here? What is missing exactly from my question?

Of course if I'm missing something else just mention here.

  • $\begingroup$ (a) You are allowed to use any photos/drawings you want so long as you give proper credit to the site you borrowed them from or the artist/photographer/owner. Copyright is important. (b) You're asking too many questions. The last (reliability) is likely the least useful to you. Who cares if it would be reliable in real life? Please pick just one question, use multiple posts if you must. (c) The post is difficult to read as it's mostly train-of-thought writing. Remember that SE is not a discussion forum (this is written like a conversation). You'll need to better focus the text. $\endgroup$ Jun 27 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, thank you. I figure it's better just not to ask $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jul 5 at 0:53

Creating an eternal and inconspicuous prison on a planet, without too much fiction on the science, is it possible?

In the past a war between an entity and a race of galaxy wide empire ended when the elders of that race sacrificed themselves to imprison that entity on a planet. The entity did not even consider that option because characterization.

Long story short they trapped the entity on a planet with this particular dilemma: If the 100X50 meters prison is breached or comprised in anyway the thing gets loose. The magical seals there keep the entity imprisoned.

There are no method of actually destroying the entity as he has magic. For an easier time imagine the sort of power that the Martian Manhunter has that makes him become like air. So all earthly and scientific methods of destroying anything will end in that entity becoming like thin air and escaping. Please I don't want to argue about the magic in my world, consider it a thing if you would.

At this point that galactic wide empire race was reduced to handful of people and keeping a millennia vigil as in the stories does not seem possible for 2 reasons

  1. They don't have the people. Maybe now they do but in the future other intelligent races would appear and what happens if an exploration ship lands with a hard headed captain who insists on fighting them and once the fighting is over they go around exploring and you know the drill.
  2. Leaving any signs of the existence of intelligent life on the planet would only lead to more attention and a lot of exploration. Much like on earth. Even if they draw a skull with 2 bones on the entrance a foolhardy explorer would brush it off and go in.

Solution? They make a prison on that patch of ground and hide it.

That's where you come in. I can easily say: They used Phlebotinum atop the prison which made it invisible to all forms of detection while equally resistant for all sort of natural and unnatural things. Don't you just love Phlebotinum!

But I'm looking for something more science based. As in simply taking what we know and expanding it or increasing it...etc to try to understand if it can be done or not. I'm looking for something scientific.

The only 2 criteria are that is must be

  1. Eternal or as eternal as possible. This should mean that things within that area need to be undisturbed by natural events or phenomenons.
  2. Really inconspicuous. Like underground or underwater.

Which leads to the whole thing about the problem of making something to last so long.

Could it be done without exceeding our current theories and speculative theories without getting into pure fiction?. If yes then how?. And if no what is the next best thing?

The closest thing I can think off is making something that gets stronger with time and elements. Like that more pressure you apply to that block of material the stronger it gets...etc.


Is it too long?

Is it unclear?

How many questions do I have?

What other problems or suggestion can you help with?

  • $\begingroup$ (a) You're asking for, basically, a real-life answer, but even your example solution isn't real-life. IMO, nothing in real life can justify what you're looking for. (b) I'm not sure the answer would have that much value to your story (read this and this). (c) It isn't too long, but you do introduce more backstory than is necessary. (d) Have you read Jordan's The Wheel of Time saga? You're describing the Dark One and his prison. $\endgroup$ Jun 27 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, thanks. Guess it does not make sense $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jul 5 at 0:52

What Role Would Shamans Take In A Medieval (European/Christian) Society Given the Following Conditions?

  • While my world is fictional, please use London, England in the years 1066-1067 as the real-world contextual reference for purposes of military, political, and religious conditions. In my world, this country will have greater stability and technology.

  • My shamans will be on a difficult-to-access chain of islands (even the islands are well separated). A contextual reference would be Zadya in The Dragon Prince, where one continent is split down the middle geographically and ideologically. Please consider an actual map unimportant (if you're sure you need a map, please explain why). The Shamans are technologically similar to the Aztec peoples (stone works and wood/obsidian weaponry).

  • The "role" I need help defining is the final role the Shamans will have after a religious conflict with an expanding militarized Christianity. Assume, as history with the Celts has suggested, that Christianity becomes the predominant philosophical influence in the society. But remember, unlike the Celts, my shamans have a very real and very practical magic.

Shaman Summary: Shamans can wield the power of the elements present in their home (like Fire, Air, and Earth and perhaps water for a desert) through their connection to the spirits of nature, even to the point of sensing what lies around them (as if the environment is an extension of their own body) and commanding elementals. This is bad for Christian Monks, because this means these ‘pagans’ have actual power to wield and won’t be so easy to civilize.

Best Answer Condition: The best answer will avoid the trivial "they're all wiped out" answer and will instead seek to identify a role based on the ancient Roman tradition of absorbing the religions of its conquered peoples. If this doesn't make sense, think about the adoption of December 25th, the Roman celebration of Saturnalia (the celebration of the undying sun) to celebrate Christmas (the birth of the Son).

Shamans: The Details In the Mystic category, there is a Class, Shaman. Classes are a reflection of one’s true self, where one’s talents lie. Shamans have a unique connection to the spirits of nature, specifically the Elements (Water, Earth, Air, Ice, Fire) present in their given environment. For example, a Desert Shaman may have a Bond to any combination of a certain four elements ( Fire, Air, Earth, and Water) and gain a Bonds to any of those four Elements (that they aren’t already Bonded to) by communing with and seeking to understand that Element.

A Shaman’s abilities allow them to manipulate the Elements they possess a Bond to, command Farungen (beings of living element), commune with the environment (gaining an awareness of it akin to their awareness of their own body), and forge spiritual connections between them and fellow Elementals (allowing spiritual communication-telepathy, basically-between, say, a Fire Shaman and a Fire Dragon).

While this is pretty different from what IRL shamans did, this means that these Shamans have actual powers, which is going to be more than a little problematic for the clergy. Holders of the Monk Class can become Sages and Paladins, and therefore gain powers of their own, but the fact of the matter is that shamanism and Christianity are different religions and will naturally conflict.

What Do They Believe?

Christianity Shamanism
Beliefs centered around God and Christ Centered around nature and the Elements (namely, living in harmony with nature)
Author of various philosophies and a distinct lifestyle based upon God’s word Has different philosophies and ways of life based upon the nature of each Element
Have latent magical powers(because they can become Sages and Paladins) Have active magical powers
Known for forcing itself upon followers of other religions Don’t force their beliefs upon other people, but will encourage people to do what they (they meaning the Shamans) feel is right
Powerful and well-organized Unlikely to be strong (or last long) in Europe, are powerful in their respective regions, but are separate and therefore relatively disorganized Ex: Volnoa, the Island of Fire, has one dominant religion/philosophy, the Order of Flame, which focuses on the nature of fire and how fire interacts with other Elements. Thus, Volnoans value passion, strength, and courage and advocate ‘jungle law,’ or the idea that might makes right.
Relies on faith (while Shamanism does the opposite) Is centered around what one can see and observe (opposite of faith)
  • $\begingroup$ Under the "belief" section, I have a table to put in....advice on inserting said table would be greatly appreciated, as it would make my question much neater. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 21 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ I formatted your section as a table. Here is the guide for how to do that. In essence you need to format the header as | heading 1 | heading 2 | (starts ends with pipes and is separated by pipes) then follow that with a line that matches the pipes of the header |-|-| (the number of dashes between pipes is not important as long as this matches the columns) and then each row looks like the header | cell 1 | cell 2 |. However, I'm not sure there is a way to force a new line in a cell. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Aug 21 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ: great, thanks you very much! I had no idea how to do that, so your help is greatly appreciated! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 21 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ Haven't you already asked a very similar question? There's something in the void of my thoughts... $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 21 at 20:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: yes, I have, so instead of posting this to the main site as is, my plan is to edit the previous question with what I have here once it's ready. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 22 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ I'll get to the basic premise that witches (shaman) were burned during the medieval period later. But to start, "medieval" covers a period from something like 400ad until 1500. That's an incredibly long period with massive technological and philosophical changes - and those changes occurred very differently depending on where you were. In short: please specify exactly one year and one reference city to work with. $\endgroup$ Aug 22 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ I read your question entirely now, and doki doki, my mind's so full of conditions it's overflowing x_x. Asking for year and place is a first (and good thing) or give some similar context (after all, you're going with some fantasy). But could you also go with your intents? I mean by that : Are the shamans in a "decaying" situation or the reverse? By choosing ourselves, answers will vary so much that getting to know later that half of the answers are irrelevant because you chose the first option or the latter will not be the nicest feeling the answerers would have =| . $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 23 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: thanks for your input, I'll edit as soon as I figure out a fitting setting and context. My intent is that both are more or less equal in terms of power. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 24 at 0:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: I added some clarification on setting and context, please let me know what you think! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 24 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact: I edited some clarification in and would appreciate furthers input, thanks so far! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 24 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ OK, long questions need to be as tight as possible. I've edited the question to reflect one way of doing that. You can revert or re-edit at your convenience. Please avoid dribbiling "clarifications." That actually makes a question really hard to read. It's why we have a sandbox... to keep that (among other things) from happening. Note how I've condensed the "conditions" of your question. I believe you have a problem. You picked 1066 to reflect William's political role, but you're talking about plate mail in a traditional "fantasy" medieval setting. (*continued*) $\endgroup$ Aug 25 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that plate mail wasn't invented until the 1200s, by which time the politics and religion of England was hugely stabilized (and a much different monster). If you're trying to mix 1200's tech with 1066's politics and (as an example) 950's religious conditions, you're asking far too complex a question. My recommendation is to pick a single year so people are all working on the same page, then modify the answers you get for the specific variations of tech, etc., that you'll have. $\endgroup$ Aug 25 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, and you can't ask the two questions as one. Either ask what their role would be if they won the conflict or ask what it would be if they lost. $\endgroup$ Aug 25 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact: thanks for the advice, but I'm not well-versed enough in the Dark Ages to know which year would be best for my setting. The general idea here is something like English settlers v. Native Americans, ie. expanding religious empire vs. tribes of relatively primitive shamans. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Aug 25 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ I get your point. I just expect there will be a lot of confusion. Christianity in 1066 was a lot different than Christianity in 1200 or 1600. Maybe it would be easier to completely ignore why the integration came to be and ask, "if Christian England circa 1300 had absorbed my shaman as part of the religion (much as the Christians absorbed the celebration of Saturnalia to create Christmas, and never mind how this absorption came to be), what role would the shaman play in the pre-Anglican church?" $\endgroup$ Aug 26 at 0:29

Space Piracy, a case study.

I was reading James Blish again the other day and came across a passage wherein he suggested, with all seriousness that the only article required to create a new age of piracy was ships that didn't require fuel. It further suggested that the only reason the Golden Age of Piracy happened at all was that sailing ships needed only the wind to take them and that the age ended because steamers needed fuel. I've seen others suggest that as long as you have lawless ports where you can fence your stolen goods that is all you need for piracy to run rampant.

So I decided to look at the actual history of piracy these are the four factors that seem, to me, to have led to it's rampant heyday:

  • The crews, there was a ready supply of the skilled but desperate, both at sea and on shore.

  • Ships that could sail long distances without making port and when they did "port" for anything but the most strenuous repairs could be any sheltered bay where clean water and food could be found.

  • Ships that when they did need major repairs could be serviced with relatively cheap, and abundant materials.

  • Goods (in coastal towns) and cargoes (on other ships) to take and ports to sell them in.

With those factors in mind I'd like to consider a case study, towards the end of the Federated Human Space timeline. In this universe during the first few decades of our expansion into space the authorities were very free with what left Sol and many colony worlds with cutting edge technology were planted in far flung star systems that have rarely been heard of since. After humanity met their only extraterrestrial neighbours they took to something of a war footing, expansion slowed and a very successful program to limit the rate of colonial spread and technological advancement was put in place. The Continuity Program aimed to keep technological artifacts interchangeable across Federated Space and as far beyond as possible and to keep human populated star systems as densely packed as space allowed in case they ever had to defend the colonies from their worryingly reticent neighbours. As part of the program they keep the production of many vital components centralised and they took pains to round up ships that had been retired so they couldn't be captured and studied by their possible adversaries. Fast forward to the era after the Sunderer Crisis and Continuity still keeps a lid on humanity in many arenas but there are several hundred decommissioned/mothballed hulks in the inner systems (those star systems within 15 Light Years of Sol) alone, and their has been substantial skill leakage out into the colonies, many parts of those hulks can be reused, and ships built from scrap have become viable.

The situation as compared to the Golden Age of Piracy factors I have identified are as follows:

  • Starship crews have become a breed apart from their planet bound cousins, their opportunities are constantly growing but there are always a few ventures that go belly up so at least a few rogues are to be found haunting the watering holes of ports looking for work at any given time.

  • The ships in the setting do have comparable relative ranges to those at the height of the Age of Sail and don't need any kind of port except when they need major repairs.

  • Most of the materials needed to service those ships are now readily available in a few places, along with those with the skills to use them.

  • Cargoes exist that can be taken with relative ease in transit. Those that can be taken can, on average, be moved faster than word of their loss can be spread and can therefore be sold off in almost any port. Shore raids in space are probably (read certainly except under very strange circumstances) impractical.

So does the situation after the Sunderer Crisis support the idea of space piracy?

In answering please consider both raiding ships for interstellar cargoes and the raiding of in-system shipping by local vessels.

Tags: Reality-Check, Spaceships, Piracy


Firstly did I overlook something stunningly obvious in laying out the Golden Age of Piracy? I don't feel like getting into a bunfight over the historical model if there is something simple I have failed to consider.

Are there other tags that need to be on here as well?

Do I need to give more details about the setting or ships?

  • $\begingroup$ I know it's a VIP WIP, but I wish there was the question :p $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 13 at 17:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I got called into work unexpectedly and didn't have time to finish, it's good to go now though. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Sep 14 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ I've read your whole question now, I have some troubles understanding some of the definitions you give : "The ships in the setting do have comparable relative ranges to those at the height" -> Range = distance travelled, ship size...? "but there are several hundred decommissioned/mothballed hulks in the inner systems (those star systems within 15 Light Years of Sol)" What kind of size are we setting the living galaxy here? And how much time do you need to travel from point A to point B in there (Hyperdrive tech or something lower more science anchored?) $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 15 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding your fear about your premises, didn't find anything that stroke me as odd, at least logically. Just remember that among pirates there are also corsairs, who work for a government instead for themselves. This might be something to consider. Or not. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 15 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena By relative range I meant in reference to their ability to travel between outposts without stops. Size varies greatly but tends towards huge because mass is good and more mass is better for several reasons. No-one really knows how far humans have spread through the galaxy we inhabit at least 65,450 cubic light years quite densely by the time of the question. Travel times are complicated but I can explain them. I'll have a fiddle tomorrow and let you know I've made the updates, it is well past time I was asleep right now. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Sep 15 at 12:38

Psychology of Mermaids

This question is to determine how mermaids would act so I can better determine what role they'd have in my medieval fantasy society.

Mermaid Origins: Long ago, there was two Gems, Source and Neosis. The Neosis Gem was just creative energy in a solid, dormant form, while the Source Gem's power was to shape the essence of something according to the essence of another. In clearer terms, the Source could channel the Neosis Gem's energies into a reflection of whatever being it was attuned to.

However, the two Legendaries who sought to use these were killed by one of their own, resulting in a magical explosion that caused the Source Crystal to combine the essence of various beings according to the dictates of human imagination. In essence, it made mermaids a thing, combining fish and human in something much like an anthropomorphized cichlid or dolphin.

What I've Determined

While fish are incredibly hard to psychologically evaluate, I have nevertheless been able to determine the following:

  1. Some fish have incredible long-term and spatial memory. What does this means: Mermaids will basically never forget, and they generally won't get lost or lose things.

  2. Fish may woo partners with song and art displays, and can have surprisingly intricate courtship rituals. What this means: Considering the extent to which courtship influences our society (please look at Puppetsock's answer here), it seems apparent music and art will be a central part of mermaid culture and courtship will be highly ritualistic.

  3. Fish have been documented playing, using tools, and communicating not only with other members of their kind but with other species of fish (such as between eels and groupers), and have shown they are capable of social interaction. What this means: Mermaids will be playful, they will use tools to aid in their work, they will be social, and they should have nothing against interacting with humans.

  4. Fish apparently like physical contact, often rubbing against each other (gently, of course). This means they'll be yet another "touchy" culture, this isn't new IRL, moving on....

  5. Fish can and do form establish dominance, forming social hierarchies. Once again, this isn't new IRL, but mermaids may not establish or accept a leader. Take a school of fish; despite being highly coordinated and having a common direction, schools have no leader. It's just people working together. This would likely be the mermaid form of democracy, an alternative to a far more likely 'cichlid-style' government where dominance is determined by bouts of ritualistic combat, much like how for much of history the guy in charge was simply the best at beating people up. I can't figure out which style of leadership will come out on top, or in other words, I have no idea how mermaid psychology will affect their form of government.

As a final note, despite my research, I still have no idea whether mermaid culture will be sedentary or nomadic (or semi-nomadic). I'm certain natural selection will determine this, but I'm not sure what natural selection will determine here.

Anyway, my question is, How Would These Mermaid Traits Affect Their Culture? As you can see, I have some general ideas, but nothing concrete, so I would really appreciate the help fleshing out mermaids as a species/society.

  • $\begingroup$ C'hi hi, I chuckled a little, as the French expression "Having the memory of a goldfish" is quite the opposite of having a good memory. This aside (or should I say, more generally }i{?) The five differentiating points between sea creatures vs land ones you expose don't seem too much different from what you can find on land.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 1 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Here, let me give examples for each of them and one land species that have all of them : Horse and cow families rub against each other (while monkeys scratch each others). A good chunk of birds and insects have highly developped courtskills. Some birds clean crocodiles and others pass as the children of other species, then ants interact and makes wars with other colonies of other species. Elephants have very good memory, And well, wolves, lions, and monkeys are well known for their social hiearchy. [...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 1 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ [...] As for the (r)ace in the hole : Humans do all of them : kids search comfort in their mom's arms and some cultures are very prone to physical contacts, Taxi drivers are able to remember how to move in a city, ask your boss for hiearchy :p, Courtship are made in the comfort of cinema seats, flowers and two rings (or other things), and I'm using a keyboard tool to send you a message about how many animal documentaries are about establishing a relationship to better understand them.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 1 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ [...] My point is that beyond risking downvotes, I actually don't know what to say. It looks like to me you're looking for differences when in fact, there aren't so many. Yes the way we do things are different (scrubbing vs scratching for instance), but it is on the form rather than the inner mindset. One guy might express his joy by jumping around, but another one who's in a wheelchair will feel the same happiness, even if they're not bouncing around like a plop with the knockback enchantment.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 1 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ [...](let me breath, it was a long stream of comment here) This kind of make -at least for me- the question unanswerable as is, as you're looking like you're asking to make something like humans, but not humans and I don't know which direction to take therefore. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 1 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: it's okay, I see the problem. Perhaps a better way to phrase my question would be 'if we made a real fish-person, with a realistic hybrid mindset (ie. a mix of fish and human characteristics), what would their natural mindset be?' $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Sep 1 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ Uh... I don't really know. I'm good at blending worldly words like a cupshake of silliness, but I'm too flighty to have the exact words to say in those circumstances, especially in my non-native known tongues. But perhaps first focus your species and tell -if you can- which kind of marine species you want your fishmen to take from. After all, you have as wide a variety of marine animals as land ones, to the clueless at cluedo ones to the hyper-social ones like dolphins. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 1 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: thanks for your input! I've now edited the question and would appreciate feedback to improve it. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Sep 6 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ I wish there was a way to find who's giving negative votes to tell them directly to "not" do that. Oh wheel in a well. @Alendyias, I'll get a look when I get the time. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 7 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyas Made a small edit to avoid fishy topics arising, I'm gathering my thoughts more broadly now. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Sep 7 at 1:15

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