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Bronze Age interplanetary travel

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Electric Bone Flute, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

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    Let’s say about two standard deviations outside the normal bell curve (2.5% of the population) there are people who can open portals to other locations in the universe, so long as it is in sightline. The portals persist until they say so and another portal opener can’t close it until the one who opened it died. Let’s say also that the range is unlimited, and by happy coincidence in this universe all atmospheres are habitable, even if they are not all inhabited. You can look at a planet, point, and there’s a portal there. What could a Bronze Age society do with this?
    • They would probably quickly get used to the fact that life on other planets is weird, should they ever find it.
    • Finding more land, especially on uninhabited planets, is good
    • Good banishing tool provided that the person you need to banish is not a portal opener... unless you cut off their hands.
    • No aliens have this power.
    • No prediction on whether there are sapient species, or what tech level they are at.
     
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  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Well. Big problem there is that there's only 5 planets visible without a telescope so it's not actually that useful.
     
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Putting aside planet-hopping for a second, portals means faster travel, which makes it easier to control and unify a region. More lands, farther and farther apart, also means more secluded countries. So my prediction would be larger countries (for the time) that are even more tribal and independant from each other. "We control half the moon but we want nothing to do with anyone else."
     
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  4. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

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    Even worse, without any means of magnification you cannot really tell what's a planet or a star (well, yes you can notice the blinking of the stars but still). Enough that they could somewhat understand that Earth was rounded, but for those cultures the heavens were a truly remote and mystical thing. So, for this to work for your bronze age civilization you have to make them learn that Earth is just one planet among many, and that not everything that shines in the sky is solid ground. Otherwise imagine that some portmancer opens a gate to Jupiter, into a star, or a black hole even! Also, in the process of getting all that knowledge they would probably make the jump from bronze age to something much more advanced, at least compared to other neighboring cultures: therefore they would stop being bronze age to become... a portal age civilization?

    I concur with DevorDevor , those cultures would use the portals first and foremost for expanding their territory on Earth and improving their war tactics (they would be able to invade a fortified place by directly opening a gate inside thanks to an infiltrated portmancer, trojan horse style but much easier). Also, if they need to send a bunch of colonists somewhere, they could use those portals. This would greatly affect commerce, but on the other hand it could negatively affect the development of sailing technologies.

    Now, if I've understood how that portal magic of yours works, its a point-and-shoot kind, right? The portmancer somehow sees the planet and then creates the portal connection. Fine. Lets say they go there and close the portal because reasons, but after some days they want to open a portal to go back. How this portmancer would be able to tell which star is our Sun? They are under a completely different night sky, and our sun would look like a thousand other white blinks in that alien heaven. I suppose that your portmancers would use some sort of farsight to see from where they are the places they want to go, or the portal magic would pretty much useless if they need to know the target locations personally. How mentally taxing would be this farsight? It could be more tiring the farther they would have to go with their farsight. Related, if they need to see their target this could mean that a portmancer only works at night to see the stars, not a problem per se, just another particularity to take into account.
     
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  5. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    I know a lot of people said "they'll focus on their earthly kingdoms first," but I kinda doubt that. Between our atmosphere, the curvature of the earth and stuff in the way (like mountains), it would be very difficult to go very far. Google tells me that's about 3 miles. So unless there is a kingdom on top of a mountain (and they usually have good weather) they won't be able to go very far on earth.

    Early astronomers were able to tell the difference between a star and a planet for multiple reasons, including the habits of their orbit (namely, planets do weird things while stars move pretty consistently). Someone is going to try to go to a star and, uh, it won't go well for them. So people will learn quickly to determine what is or isn't a star and make sure to only go to not-stars. People will also try to go to comets, too, but how well that'll go for them is something you need to figure out (do all planets have breathable atmospheres? Or is it like Treasure Planet and space in general is breathable?).

    Whatever they get is going to be Very Valuable and they can sell for huge profits. Even if moon rocks don't have any special properties, they're from the MOON, that's very cool and people will want to buy that. You can also lie and say moon dust is vital for religious ceremonies or [insert thing people expect body parts of endangered animals to do here] and make money that way. There will be a big push to make good telescopes and the knowledge of how to make glass that good will be very valuable.

    What is the cost of making a portal? Does it take up some energy/mana? Can they make as many as they want in a day? Is it instantaneous or is their a ritual they need to do for it? Also, how is it determined who can make these portals? Is it hereditary? Is it more common among certain ethnicities/religions/species/what have you? Is there a way to test if someone has this power before it "manifests"?
     
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  6. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    There's 2 ways round that. Either you portal to the moon and have a portal close by which takes you to your destination (making it a 2 portal journey), or you create a network of portals with entrances and exits 3 miles apart, which lets you walk through to get somewhere. And since they can't be destroyed that would be fine, though it could end up being interesting if someone places a portal over your portal. You could end up anywhere. But this way you could travel 300 miles by effectively walking 100 meters.

    Early astronomers did know that the planets were different, but it did take the invention of the telescope to realize just how different they were. Of course, it is possible that as you stand on the surface of Saturn you're able to see the next couple of planets and so you could get there (going with the idea that Saturn would be habitable). So you could potentially travel around most of the solar system, in a few hops.

    Exoplanets (as in outside the solar system) are a different story altogether. The first one was discovered 1992 (though an earlier one could have been seen in 1917, it just was missed). You need large telescopes and decent photography to find them. If you need to be able to see your target that that would be a very hard sell. I would get around it by saying that you have to be able to see the star, but the portal magic then knows how to find the habitable planet belonging to that star.

    I think the main 2 reasons for doing this are fast travel and resources, with space to grow as a minor secondary reason.

    Fast travel, as mentioned above lets you control a larger empire, it facilitates trade and could even help you in wars. It's one of the main driving forces of civilization.

    Resources are one of the things wars are fought over. It's what determines the strength of nations and what people pay for. Just keep portaling around until you run into a planet consisting mainly of bronze and you've got a planet you could mine. I don't think items like Moon stones would end up being valuable (in the long run at least). It's too easy to get to them, and once you have them there is nothing you can do with them and there's no way to actually tell them apart from regular earth rocks. You need a lot of disposable income and security in your basic human needs before you can care about something that useless.

    Space to grow comes if your supply of food is stable enough to give decent population growth. And then it would be easier to populate an uninhabited planet than it would be to try and conquer your neighbor.

    Thinking about it a bit more, it would change a lot of dynamics. Wars would only be fought over control of portal-mancers, since all other resources are so plentiful that there's no point in fighting over them. There's more inhabitable planets in the galaxy than there's grains of sand on earth. Anything you could want is out there. There is no limit on arable land or space for population, there are no strategic roads or locations. The only thing you have of real value is the portal-mancers. So, that's what people will fight over. Control more than your neighbor and you're more powerful. Kill your neighbors portal-mancers and you can close his portals.
     
  7. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    You're assuming it's on Earth.
     
  8. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Again, stop assuming it's set on earth! It could be on an alien planet, for all you know!
     
  9. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    True. There's only there's only 1 other planetary system we know of with 8 planets. But all 8 of those would be visible in the night sky, since they're all close enough to their star. So more than 5 is within the realm of possibilities.

    A counterpoint to raise though is that habitable planets is a very different thing. I know the OP mentioned all atmospheres could be habitable. But I would find a system with more than 3 or 4 habitable planets a very big stretch in suspension of disbelief.
     
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  10. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

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    Like I said, fantasy world. I hand waved that with “by some happy coincidence.”
    I imagine it’s as easy as making portals in Portal, with the exception that as many as you want can be made.
     
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  11. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Technically there are 9 planets, because of 'Planet 9' (which needs a new name desperately)
     
  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    I'm a Pluto-fanatic (I was young and interested in astronomy in the 90's...). So for me there already are 9 and we're hunting for planet X. ;)
     
  13. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Pluto is not a planet. It is a dwarf planet, which is a separate creature entirely. You can tell because of its beard.
     
  14. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    "A dwarf planet is a planetary-mass object that does not dominate its region of space (as a true or classical planet does) and is not a satellite. That is, it is in direct orbit of the Sun and is massive enough to be plastic – for its gravity to maintain it in a hydrostatically equilibrious shape (usually a spheroid) – but has not cleared the neighborhood of its orbit of similar objects.[2] The prototype dwarf planet is Pluto.[3] The interest of dwarf planets to planetary geologists is that, being possibly differentiated and geologically active bodies, they may display planetary geology, an expectation borne out by the 2015 New Horizons mission to Pluto."-Wikipedia. It also has a beard.
     
  15. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

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    Well, that depends on how long they've had that ability.

    If they've always had the ability then it will be part of their existing culture and so using the term "Bronze Age" may be a little misleading because it won't be Bronze Age in the sense that we mean it here on the mundane Earth.

    If on the other hand this ability has only just developed there will be a major change in society and culture, and this could lead to a wide range of possible outcomes. Not all of these will be positive.

    The reason I write that is that the identity of, and the culture within, a given society is partly formed by the landscape around it and by what means of travel they have. As an example, most people can't walk more than 30 km in a day, given good weather and plenty of food, so the ability to travel and communicate over long distances (and hence the ability to control a large area) is dependent on your means of travel. Similarly, access to clean water and the ability to produce food will constrain how big your tribe can be, and hence how big an area you can control. Sudden changes in your culture (eg the introduction of iron weapons and ploughs, introduction of horses) will change the power structures, the ability to control an area etc etc.
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Man, we try to keep this place politics-free, and now all of a sudden people are debating something so contentious and controversial as whether Pluto is a planet. Keep it to yourselves people or I'll have to lock the thread.




    dwarf planets are cooler
     
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  17. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    We're being very civil about it, and not being heated, Devor.
     
  18. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Politics are forbidden whether civil or not, except where relevant to writing (the more political, the stricter the connection to writing).

    But I was of course joking. Of course people can discuss whether Pluto is a planet. I'll just be over here, holding this banhammer, waiting for someone to badmouth my favorite little planet. :whistle:
     
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  19. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Devor, I'm sorry I had no idea that you were joking. But:
    1. You can't ban someone for bad-mouthing Pluto
    2. You need multiple warning points to be BanBan ned
    I know my rights.
     
  20. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    You have the right to badmouth Pluto. You have the right to get in trouble. You have the right to earn disciplinary points. You have the right to be banned. You have the right to burn like a marshmallow while being hugged by a hat-wearing phoenix. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?
     
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