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Q.) Why is it "Ad Astra: The New Age"? Was there an original game? If not, why not just call
it "Ad Astra"?
A.) The term "Ad Astra" is a classic term that is in the public domain, and therefore cannot be
copyrighted. (imagine someone trying to copyright Carpe Diem or Hallelujah) Add the fact that the game takes place at the dawn of the 200th Century...
Q.) Why do some races have names and planet names that are alien sounding (Sylum, K'Mhrr,
etc.) while others have descriptive names in english (Jingo, Lithistrata, Burchyll, Stratapin, etc.)?
A.) Those races that have 'alien sounding names' are those who's speech can be imitated in
English. The races you listed and others communicate in ways that cannot wholely be duplicated in english; the Jingo vocal range exceeds the human range, Lithistrata speech is musical, and Burchyll and Stratapin speak in varying forms of energy modulation when communicating with their own kind. Therefore, for such races their descriptive names (which by the way are not 'in english', they are justed listed in english because that is what the rules are written in) are merely translations from their native tongue. This is why as a GM I must correct Players who name their Jingo character "Morlobon" or such, or why I have to explain to new GMs why a Jingo or Lithistratan world would not be called "Vellion" or such.
Q.) Firstly, was the combat system intended to allow more than 2 ships to fight at a time? i.e..
something to the effect of: All ships roll power and initiative at the same time, and ship actions are taken in order of initiative just as when two ships are fighting. Ships with equal initiative fire at the same time. (Damage is taken after they both fire)
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A.) Exactly right. Just like in regular character-to-character combat there is no actual limit to
the number of combatants in a battle. The examples given all used 2 simply for brevity.
Q.) What is the nature of the equipment needed for Stellar Dynamics technology? Is it a
hulking mass of things so hideously complicated that any Humon trying to study it goes mad, or is it a bit smaller and/or simpler?
A.) The technology involved in controlling the dynamic structure of an entire star is massive,
requiring vessels massing thousands of tonnes - at TL 18 or below. If one of the elder races at TL 21 or higher however were to develop comparable technology it would become comparatively smaller as the TL increased.
Q.) What is the makeup of computers? (Optical? Molecular? Quantum?) Can a telepath
contact an AI? Can an AI develop psionic powers? (Stratapin are a sort of proof of that, but can normal AIs accomplish it?)
A.) Actually, you inadvertantly answered it yourself; the fact is that ALL AI are tailor-made
Stratapin constructs. A sort of dedicated Stratapin consciousness that is self-aware but constrained in personality to preclude independent action beyond service to it's users. I was almost certain that this detail was listed somewhere in the rules, but it may have gotten misplaced in editing the revised edition that is on all the CDs.
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Q.) What is the need for crew on a vessel? Couldn't an AI much more efficiently control
things? (Similarly, could any repairs not be done by computer controlled drones? (Like Moya's on FarScape, something along the same lines as the small yellow beetle looking things, can't remember the name...)) Of course, if something happened to the main computer the ship wouldn't function at all, but then again something with enough force to knock out the main computer would probably kill any crew anyway.
A.) A few points on that; as stated in Starship rules, AI's can take over the general functions of
a ship, but cannot do any action that could in any way jeapordize the crew or any other life form. (due to the 3 Laws of AI) Thus precluding combat maneuvers, even entering an asteroid field, etc. The AI if left in charge will always travel the path of least resistence, never taking even the slightest risks. (This is also why Loom HoloEnvirons even when used for ship defense can only use stun weapons, as they are controlled by the ship's AI. Regarding my beloved Farscape; like Moya's little DRD's, a crew can include Sire Units, which need not have quarters. I like how the contrast is illustrated here between how Moya sees the crew as often a hindrance, and Ad Astra AI's will hinder the crew in it's attempts to safeguard them at all costs if allowed to. :)
Q.) When did the races from the previous universe enter into this one? Have they been here
since the big bang or what? (Seems unlikely because of the lack of any really defined laws of physics at the time, as well as the other rather obviously extreme conditions. This is of course only if I assume you're going by the Big Bang theory.) Are these races spread out among other galaxies? If so why did they choose this particular galaxy? Is there something special about it? (I smell adventure material in there...Heck, perhaps there are even many more races left over from the last universe that DID choose other galaxies?)
A.) In response: the 2 races that came from the Universe prior to ours are the Culture Alphans
and the Galataea. (The Patron are actually from a second universe prior even to that of the Alphans and Galataea...) As listed, neither of the 2 races could survive the Big Bang for exactly the reasons you listed. The Alphans waited it out in the tiny pocket universe they created which is now the Primordial Rift as detailed on the CD. The Galataeans by contrast died, unable to develop a solution to allow them to physically survive this event. They did, however, develop technologies that would not be destroyed by placing them in a form of temporal/spatial stassiss. This stassiss would kill any living organism that they tried to store within the field, but could safely house the bodies of their greatest leaders. By means of some unknown process (major plot-hook opening here..), as our universe become more like that of the Galataea, the bodies, or "Corpus Galataea" as
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they are listed on the writeup on the CD, will slowly come back to life. In fact, the technology of the Galataea is completely based on this principal, as it appears to have aspects of a techno-organic hybrid like that of the Hel. The simple reassertion of defined laws of physics as you'd brought up began the earliest stages of the Corpuses' reanimation; they began to radiate enough life force to start 'waking up' their machines. (I suggest that you re-read up on the Galataea and Culture Alphans if interested in possible plot elements. Just be sparing. They are too vast in scope and can unbalance your campaign if overused.) Regarding the presence of both races in one galaxy; as stated in their descriptions, the Culture Alphans entrenched themselves in the vicinity of the Stassiss field entombed Galataean vessels and began setting up military installations and resource centers all in the hopes that they could destroy them when the field came down and the hopefully-unprepared machines would be vulnerable. Sadly, as history writes, they did not get enough time to prepare... On the final point, of the presence of any further races originating in the previous universe, though I will not flat out say there were none, all evidence points to this; the Galataea are known to have wiped out all non-Galataean life in there universe in a 'master race' motivated pogrom. the only known race to survive were their ancestral enemies, the race we know as the Culture Alphans. (The Patrons, who are known to have at the time more strictly maintained a policy of non-interference than they employ now, are irrelevant in this matter, as the Galataea would have never had the means to harm them..) the impact that just the Alphans and Galataea make on the universe of Ad Astra: The New Age is already very intensive. I would be extremely wary to see any others added...
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