Victor Ravenport wrote:
This is not a judicial trial, and none of us are in a courtroom. And in fact, most cases of sexual harassment never get this far because the victims are pressured to keep quiet.
We've heard the statements of the victims and witnesses, and I believe we should take their statements seriously. Meanwhile, the other side has made no comment, or joked about the incidents without bothering to do something fiendishly difficult like an outright denial.
The problem with looking at the incidents like this is that the alleged perpetrators haven't even bothered to deny what happened - instead they deny that what they did was anything worthy of censure. Indeed, some of them are even joking about it.
So this doesn't appear to be a "witch hunt". Instead it has become apparent that some of thr most prominent members of our hobby cannot tell right from wrong.
And while Paizo might be reluctant to comment on these incident before some further internal investigation, it would be useful for them in public to clarify precisely this - that their NDAs are not intended to prevent victims of harassment from speaking about their experiences, and that they won't pursue actions (legal or otherwise) against those who do speak out.
Burroughs' Red Martians did lay eggs, they also could live a thousand years. Starfinders version are just humans with red skin.
Sadly, they are also very underrepresented in the art (as in, is there any art of them at all in the Starfinder publications?), despite presumably representing much of what is left of humanity outside of Golarion.
I am currently working on a system of randomly creating worlds suitable for the Starfinder setting... including randomly picking creatures that inhabit it from both Starfinder and Pathfinder canon (the first sample world is inhaboted primarily by Locatath and Vodyanoi, for instance). There are a lot of details on history, society, politics and so forth and the results require some interpretation, but the first results look promising.
Unfortunately, this project is on hold until I finally get Internet access in my new apartment. .. :(
Some local governments might be more tolerant about goblins, but the Committee determines the status of species across the Pact as a whole. Members of these species must be given some minimal rights in the jurisdictions of all member nations - their governments cannot declare them "un-persons" and do what they want with them.
I think there is.
Ultimately, the principles of the Pact do not derive from an abstract Declaration of Universal Sapient Rights. They are not the Federation of Star Trek, and the only reason they care about anything outside of the Pact Worlds system is because the outside can affect them and their citizens.
They are a mutual self-defense pact. And if an outside species might be able to contribute something to that defense - politically, economically, militarily - then you may be given the benefit of the doubt. But if you are incapable - likr goblins - then why should they want to waste resources on you?
Because the Eoxians are firm members of the Pact, and they have created quite a few sapient slaves over the centuries.
If the species in question has enough exeptional individuals arguing for their freedom, their status can be changed - that happened with the androids, after all.
Oh, they are not - but if the Pact has any meaning, there needs to be some basic rights and protections for its citizens no matter what species they are - especially if they are outside of their home jurisdiction. And it would solve so many problems if the Pact Worlds administration could say: "Goblins, aboleths, etc. cannot be citizens and do not have any rights."
Because then there would be a clear divide between citizens and noncitizens, not a sliding scale based on whatevee is convenient at the moment. Because if it is merely informally okay to kill goblins as opposed to legal, then what species that used to have meaningful protection under the laws will be next?
That would be an interesting character concept. A Priest of Oras whose ultimate goal is to ensure that everyone in the universe can love whoever they want to love, no matter what shape that love takes.
Or to be more precise, that they can produce viable, fertile offspring.
What could possibly go wrong?
...I am actually working on something like this. Not a free-standing random generator, but a process that shows how to use several other random generators to build an interesting world for Starfinder. I've already written the first part, and more will come.
...assuming that I get non-mobile Internet access at my new apartment, which seems to be receding more and more into the future.
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Not necessarily. I mean, humans evolved and adapted on the same planet as dolphins and we can't exactly make fertile offspring with those.
Not for lack of trying... on both sides. To "successfully copulate" depends on your definition of "success", after all.
And hybrids might be created with a little genetic engineering if they don't come "naturally".
EC Gamer Guy wrote:
I doubt that the Pact Worlds as a whole would have a legal problem with goblin slavery as such - but by enslaving them you also have to accept legal liability for them.
(Meanwhile... how about using goblins as a substitute for animal testing?)
Another good example of a "slave species" would be certain undead enthralled by the Eoxians. Even if they are intelligent, they might have no free will of their own - or they are feral if uncontrolled. Thus they cannot be legal persons, and Eoxians can do what they want with them - but they are also responsible for what they donif they enslave them.
I think its barking up the wrong tree. You are allowed to kill goblins, not because they are non-people, but because they are presumptive outlaws. If they put even the minimum effort into not-always-being-terrible, then they'd get the same basic legal protections everyone else has. As is, they don't, and are unlikely to do so ever. So, since "being a goblin" actually *is* 99% probable evidence that you have, are, or will do something horrible to other people, nobody questions that your killing of goblins was justified.
So either "presumptive outlaws" is a legal category (in which case I don't see much difference to my "belligerent" category), or law enforcement and judges get told during their training:
"If members of species X get killed, don't bother investigating - they probably did something to deserve it."
And the latter strikes me as a terrible idea for a legal system - after all, it means that legal rights and protections can be revoked not just by legal processes, but by informal opinions.
In general I would say as long as the entities involved have erogenous zones , they can have recreational sex unless said zones are somewhere really inaccessible without a highly specific anatomy (and even then there will probably be technological workarounds).
Hopefully all of the entities have erogenous zones, but in a pinch one will do.
Under "normal precedent" for Earth maybe, and even that was not universal (consider the old Roman Republic and Empire, which were legalistic societies with slavery). But a society like that of the Pact Worlds which knows hundreds, if not thousands of species - and dozens of thise which "do not play well with others" - the legal situation is bound to differ.
And in my perspective, the situation for the Pact Worlds is this:
"People": Sapient beings which I, the speaker, can empathize which on some level - something subjective with no legal standing:
"Legal persons": Sapient beings with clearly defined rights and responsibilities within the Pact Worlds.
Hence, goblins may be recognized as "people" by many - their gleeful sadism and enthusiasm for things that go "bang" are easily recognizable by many other humanoid species. Yet they are incapable of blending into Pact Worlds society and thus cannot be "legal persons".
Likewise things like the Aboleth or Goblins. You can wipe those out by the dozen, but they're still people. It's still strongly frowned upon to desecrate their corpses, try to eat them, or torture them without a damned good reason.
They may be considered "people", but they are not considered "legal persons" in the Pact Worlds. They have proven themselves to be incapable (goblins) or unwilling (aboleths) to work within the legal and social framework of the Pact Worlds, and thus have no rights whatsoever. There is no legal consequence for killing them and, I suspect, desecrate their corpses, eating them, or torturing them (though local governments might have some ordnances against the latter, this will not be true for the Pact Worlds as a whole). There might be social consequences for eating goblins, but that's not the same as legal consequences.
And from a "meta" perspective, this gives player characters "acceptable targets they can pick fights with without having to fear legal consequences.
EC Gamer Guy wrote:
In this case, I explicitly refer to "legal personhood", which pretty much means "can be citizens under the law".
Whether individuals or groups consider someone a "person" is not addressed here, nor whether the Starfinder rules consider someone to be a "person". This only addresses the legal perspective of the Pact Worlds governments and their courts.
Furthermore, keep in mind that the Committee is not intended to settle philosophical questions about the nature of the Self - it exists in order to determine a legal status that the Pact Worlds government can work with. And the basis of that ultimately boils down to "species we can work with"... or at least, "species we want to work with".
Individual swarm intelligences would count as "persons" for this purpose.
Furthermore, it's one thing if an individual member of the species is a sociopath unable to operate within Pact Worlds society - it's an outlier that can be dealt with. But the Committee evaluates entire species, not individuals - and if all members of a species could be considered "sociopaths", then they probably won't be able to integrate into society.
(For a video game example, consider the Typhon from the recent game "Prey".)
As an offshoot from the discussion whether or not androids are "alive", let's consider who gets to be a "legal person" in the Pact Worlds - someone who is either a citizen or a non-citizen who could become one. And for that, the question whether someone is alive cannot possibly matter - because the bone sages of Eox are very much "people" as far as the Pact Worlds are concerned, yet very much "not alive".
My suspicion is that this decision is made by a committee staffed with representatives of the Pact Worlds governments, and they make this decision based on a number of criteria.
The first one is that members of the species must be intelligent enough to understand the general laws and customs of the Pact World - they need not be lawyers, but they must be able to figure out what is and what is not appropriate on the member worlds with some coaching. In game terms, this probably means at least an average Intelligence of 7.
Furthermore, they must be willing and capable of respecting those customs. Members of the Dominion of the Black, for instance, are certainly intelligent enough - but their intelligence is extremely alien and they show unrelenting hostility to the Pact Worlds. Thus, no citizenship for them. And then there are outsiders and aliens that evolved in extremely alien environment whose society is just not comparable with that of the Pact Worlds and who have just as much difficulty grasping Pact World society as humans have grasping theirs - though considering some of the Pact Worlds species (such as Brethedans), they must be very alien indeed.
Beyond that, there are further criteria on whose importance each Committee member will have a different opinion.
One of these is whether the species in question has souls - indeed, this is said to be the main reason why Androids are accepted as citizens in their writeup. There are several effects that refer to souls in the Starfinder Core Rules - raise dead, reincarnate, and the Soul Upload Trap. Other effects presumably exist within the setting even if they are not explicitly mentioned - for instance, divination effects that contact souls in the afterlife. If one or more of these effects work on member of the species, then they can be said to fulfill this criterium. However, note that fulfilling this criterium will not impress the representative from Aballon.
Another one is whether the species in question has free will - that is to say, are capable of making autonomous decisions for themselves. A slave species (whether biological or machine) cannot be held responsible for its action - but that also means it does not have a choice whether or not it can adhere to Pact World laws and customs. Note that "slave species" has a different meaning from "species that has been enslaved" - individuals of the latter may rebel and flee their masters, while the former is genuinely incapable of doing so.
Further criteria depend on the individual Committee members' biases and prejudices - most will generally try to look for things in the alien species that has some resemblance to their own species or culture. Great cultural works, recognizable worship of deities, an aptitude for tinkering... any of these and more can sway the verdict of council members. Conversely, anything that evokes similarities to traditional enemies (the Swarm or the Dominion of the Black, for instance) might sway a Committee member against the species.
Once the Committee members have deliberated, they will eventually make their decision and assign the new species a status from the following list:
Legal Person: Members of this species will be fully recognized as people and may not be harmed without clear justification, nor may their property be arbitrarily seized. They may apply for citizenship in whatever Pact Worlds entity is willing to take them in (though Pact Worlds members might give citizenship even to members of species that don't fall into this category, this probably won't be recognized by most other jurisdictions). Their governments may establish full diplomatic relationships with the Pact Worlds. Citizens and organizations operating out of Pact Worlds space may not wage campaigns of aggression or even genocide against them.
Protected: They aren't fully recognized as legal entities of their own right, but it was a fairly close thing - they impressed several Committee members enough that they are given some weak protections (this will likely require fewer votes than "Legal Person" status - perhaps "Legal Person" requires a majority vote, while "Protected" requires only one-third). Citizens and organizations operating out of Pact Worlds may not kill them for their body parts or make gross alterations to their habitats - in effect, the Pact Worlds governments designate their environment a "nature preserve". In practice, this means little - Pact Worlds citizens may still kill individual members without repercussions back home, and some limited resource extraction remains permissible, with a fair amount of flexibility on what precisely is considered "limited". However, if there is a big enough stink back home there may be legal sanctions. Which can be effectively evaded by just creating a new company that doesn't operate within Pact Worlds space (the Pact Worlds governments have better things to do than trying to patrol worlds outside their system), in which case any repercussions must come from locals - or outside activists (most prominently the Xenowardens).
Not protected: The species in question receives no protection at all from the Pact Worlds governments, and may be freely killed or enslaved.
Belligerent, redeemable: The species might qualify as "Legal People", but it is currently hostile to the Pact Worlds. However, there is hope that this state of affairs may cease at some point in the future. Obvious military forces may be engaged at will, but attacks and atrocities against recognizable "civilian" populations and installations should be avoided. The military forces of the Pact Worlds governments are held to the highest standards here (though even so, the rules for "collateral damage" remain very generous), while mercenary forces and private adventurers will hardly monitored at all. Still, the (admittedly low) possibility to be charged for "war crimes" remain, especially if they interrupt delicate peace negotiations. The Pact Worlds government might accept individual members of the species as refugees, or even as representatives of a "government in exile" (and smuggling such people out makes for an excellent adventure hook), though such refugees will be watched closely and may face prejudices from the local population.
Belligerent, irredeemable: The species is considered hostile and may be engaged at will with any and all means, and erradication would be seen as a positive goal by the Pact Worlds governments - examples include the Dominion of the Black and the Swarm. It would require extraordinary evidence to change this status.
So, what does all this mean in practice?
Whenever there is a report of a new, apparently intelligent species coming in - whether from the Starfinder Society, colonists, assorted organizations, or individual explorers and adventurers - the employees of the Committee will take note of it and add it to a list of species to investigate for possible legal personhood.
This list is very, very long, and getting longer all the time.
But there are ways of fast-tracking this process. The simplest way is for a member of the species to show up on Absalom Station and declare: "My species wants to establish diplomatic relations with the Pact Worlds." Even then there will likely a bunch of interviews (possibly involving requests for further information and all sorts of medical and magical examinations) and a waiting period of a few days until the Committee can make its decision. Gee, I hope the alien diplomats have some good local guides and bodyguards (i.e. player characters) who can protect them during this time!
It also helps if a Committee member strongly supports the application of a particular species, which usually means that their government has some sort of interest in the species or their world that would benefit from establishing diplomatic relations. To a lesser degree, this is also true for corporations and other organizations - if they hope to make trade deals with them or otherwise see something beneficial to their agenda, they can make an effort to convince the Committee members of it and fast-track the process. Sometimes the Committee members' government benefit from the trade and will be easily convinced, while sometimes the convincing needs a little push (bribery is such an ugly word...). However, sometimes rival corporations and organizations will oppose the fast-track process for their own reasons (usually because they want to exploit the world on their own terms) and work behind the scenes to slow it down.
Very occasionally, lone individuals or small groups manage to get the fast-track process started on their own, without the backing of governments or large corporations - usually by making a huge PR splash. Player characters with the Icon theme (and possibly the Envoy class) will have the best chance at this. It's not easy, but if they get enough public attention those Pact Worlds governments who are responsive to public opinion might get behind their efforts.
If there is no fast-track process (and truthfully, these tend to clog the Committee's agenda), then the assorted sub-committees will gradually gather more and more information and have their experts evaluate it until they are confident about the quantity and quality of their data and the analysis of the data. Worlds colonized by Pact Worlds members that see frequent trade will almost inevitably accumulate the most data, while lone accounts of explorers will be filed in the archives until more information comes up. Very occasionally they might send one of their experts to an alien world to evaluate a local species, especially if the world might feature other things of interest (such as tradable or extractable resources), but for the most part they will leave such exploration to the Starfinder Society with whom they have a good working relationship - many Starfinders report their encounters with alien species to the Committee, while the Committee is generally happy to share its information about species in its archives with Society members.
Well, these are my thoughts on this issue. What are yours?
Starfindet is, of course, a brand new setting with little existing setting material. However, it exists in the same universe as the Pathfinder setting - if temporally removed - and it occurs to be that there ought to be plenty of material out there that could be plundered for Starfinder. Hence this thread - I am not as well versed in my Golarion lore as others here, and I am sure I am not the only one who would appreciate some pointers in where to focus my research (whether setting supplements, certain Adventure Paths, or anything else).
For the sake of comparison, "Distant Worlds" rates the full 10/10, for its full (if out of date) description of the Pact Worlds - including planetary maps!
So what else is out there worth looking at?
I think the Pact Worlds will have a definition of "legal personhood" that is at best only tangentially related to any definition of "alive". I mean, the bone sages of Eox are definitely people with rights in the Pact Worlds, but calling them "alive" would be stretching things.
And then you have to consider cases like Outsiders - which get legal personhood and which do not? Then there are all those aloens out there - which should be treated as people, and which are okay to shoot on sight?
I suspect that ultimately who gets to be a "legal person" and who does not will be decided by a committee, possibly based on some kind of "point system" factoring in things like intelligence, social behavior, and a willingness to respect the aithority of the Pact Worlds legal framework.
And I suspect the politics behind these decisions would be fascinating.
So, what really is the difference between the two? Is it something of your level vs the level of the area?
Personally, I'd rule that a "major settlement" for the purpose of item acquisition is a well-connected city of 500,000 people or more - this population can be smaller if the settlement is a major trade nexus (such as a space station dedicated to trade or a city with a significant starport). "Typical settlement" is anything smaller than that, but still a town of significant size.
Mind you, if the PCs are currently in a really small town in the middle of nowhere it would still make sense to introduce an absolute level cap to the items they can purchase... if they need those items in a hurry. But if they have a few days of downtime, and if the town is connected to whatever the local planetary communication networks is, then they can just order the items from abroad and have them delivered there. It's only with the higher-level stuff (i.e. "character level +2") where they will have to make personal appearances so that they can establish themselves as trustworthy customers, and that's why they will need to be in major settlements that have these items on stock.
At least, that's how I would run it - although sufficiently skilled roleplaying can and should circumvent these limits.
Now I imagine a Shirren trying to set up a "human breeding program", finding suitable human mates to "propagate the species". Whether or not the humans involved will appreciate the Shirren matchmaker is another question...
Somehow he constantly gets important jobs despite a track record of incompetence. That speaks of Charisma - it just doesn't work with those who have to work with him on a regular basis and thus know how dumb he is.
John Napier 698 wrote:
Traveller Survey Scouts were part of a large and powerful empire with clear frontiers to survey, though. In contrast, the Pact Worlds aren't organized enough to support such a system - they certainly want intelligence on potentially hostile alien empires or anything else that might threaten them, but the Starfinder Society serves that need fairly well. Any colonization efforts will be done by smaller organizations and local governments.
Hence freelance scouts. A particular organization will look for a world with specific qualities, but you never know in advance what a particular world will look like - thus it doesn't make sense to send scouts on open-ended missions for specific types of worlds. It is much more cost-effective to have freelance scouts surveying any worlds they come across and then finding a customer for information on worlds with particular characteristics.
John Napier 698 wrote:
Freelance Scouts? *takes notes*
Yeah, the campaign pretty much writes itself, does it not?
Jump to a random world (i.e. whatever the GM has prepared this time), scan it, land it, and explore it so that you can identify all the opportunities for future riches... as well as any hazards (including, hopefully, how to deal with them). Then return to Absalom Station and try to sell this information to the highest bidder, praising its opportunities without actually being dishonest about it - because if the organization that bought the info discovers any major problems you neglected to mention, your reputation will take a huge hit and people won't trust your information in the future (and thus, pay far less for it).
The PCs can explore as long as they want - the more accurate information they bring back, the more valuable it will be.
Another thought: Since physical distance is irrelevant, any nation, empire, or organization interested in colonization efforts can be very picky about just where they settle. In a galaxy with billions of star systems, there are bound to be a bunch which are "ideal" for any given purpose.
Which also implies some interesting things about freelance explorers. Finding a world suitable for a given colonial interest could be very, very profitable. Such explorers could travel to a star system at random, land on a suitable world, and make lots of recordings and analyses of the local conditions - carefully editing out any recordings of the night sky which might provide hints of where the star system is located.
Then they could download all their records to a central hub, and then let interested organizations bid on the actual coordinates of the world.
I'll also note that ground invasions of planets look impossible unless you use vast numbers of ships and stack your troops into the available berths like sardines in a can. A ship RAW can only safely and humanely carry ground troops through the drift equal to the difference between minimum and maximum crew size plus six times the number of expansion bays. That's tiny.
Depends on the form of the invasion. Sure, if you need a long logistics chain you are going to have problems. But some kinds of invasions are... infectious.
Even apart from all the Pathfinder creatures that can multiply their forces all on their own, there are other science fiction precedents. A good example is David Gerrold's "War Against the Cthorr" series (nicely condensed in the GURPS War Against the Cthorr supplement, which - sadly for anyone else - is long out of print) - in it, the invading force drops biological spores over the planet which spread their own ecosystem which gradually gobbles up the native flora and fauna of Earth. This kind of invasion needs to be detected and fought quickly before it spreads - or else it is too late.
(The Tyranids/Genestealers from Warhammer 40K are another such example.)
Checking again, my initial response is still somewhat valid; an 18th level Star Shaman can spend 2 Resolve instead of 1 using their Interplanetary Teleport connection ability to go to any star system they have visited before... but that's still only one teleport per day, and requires an 18th level character. Doable, for an intersteller empire, but still quite restrictive and not available for everyone.
Certainly not for routine communication - these people are too rare and powerful to waste on routine communication.
If they can, they probably keep one of these on retainer in each star system. They can largely do what they want, but they need to be available to the government on short notice and keep their communicators on. Thus, when there is an invasion, they can immediately head for the capital of the empire and warn others about it.
Of course, that makes "identifying and assassinating these people" a very high priority of would-be invaders...
The section on Drift Navigation distinguishes between five different categories:
- Travel In-System
Actual, physical distance only matters in two cases: If you are traveling within the same star system (which takes 1d6 days), or if you attempt to travel beyond the Galaxy (which is effectively impossible). For all other Drift journeys only the Near Space/Vast qualification matters, which is determined by the number of Drift Beacons. Physical distance seems to be irrelevant - it doesn't matter whether you want to travel to a star system a few light years away or on the other side of the galaxy.
This obviously has a few implications.
For starters, it is largely pointless to maintain a spatially coherent interstellar empire. Other settings might have "sectors" controlled by a particular polity, but these "sectors" are usually organized this way because their internal travel times are relatively short. In Starfinder, interstellar closeness has no advantages for an interstellar empire, so its individual worlds are likely to be scattered pretty much everywhere.
Furthermore, attacks by invaders can come from pretty much anywhere - they can assemble in any star system and (unless you spotted their scouts) you will have no advance warning until the invasion fleet shows up. They don't have to pass through neighboring star systems or sectors first (where you could stop them) and you can't head them off at strategic "chokepoints".
Which means that each world must be ready to defend itself against the initial onslaught until reinforcements arrive - which takes 1-6 days if there is a significant military base in the same star system, 3-18 days if the attacked star system is in "Near Space", and 5-30 days if it is in the Vast. Which implies that Near Space systems are more attractive for Stellar Empires, since they can be reinforced more quickly against attackers.
Finally, since attacks could come from pretty much anywhere, it is vitally important that you gather information about pretty much anything in the galaxy. The more worlds you have explored, the more star systems you stay in contact with, the higher the odds that you will eventually stumble across aggressive and/or expansionist species which might one day threaten your own star system. And if you know about them, you can prepare for them.
In other words, the Starfinder Society is one of the most vital organizations for the military defense of the Pact Worlds system, and I am sure all their military forces make sure to stay out-to-date on their latest findings.
What do you think of this analysis? Agree/disagree?
I think known outlaws with heavy weapons will actually be challenged less in some communities...
In some, yes. In others, they will be seen as a direct challenge to the local authorities. Whether that is official law enforcement or the local mob boss.
It all depends on the context. If there are creatures around that legitimately warrant such weaponry, then that is one thing. But if there isn't, then this will likely be seen as an attempt to intimidate the locals. Sometimes such intimidation works, but sometimes it will... backfire.
David knott 242 wrote:
The main purpose I can see for gun control in Starfinder is to guarantee that all party members are outlaws -- and just add some more laws if they find ways around the gun control laws.
Personally, I think some kind of arms control laws (not just guns) adds to verisimilitude - in other words, immersion.
And as I outlined earlier, a total ban on weapons should be an extremely rare occurrence. But at the same time, it breaks suspension of disbelief if characters run around with military heavy weaponry or large-scale explosives all the time, even in fairly "civilian" environments where attacks by random monsters are unlikely. And even then, there may be exceptions - if the PCs have constantly acted heroically and are known to help ordinary people, they will be given a lot more slack than if they are known outlaws.