Whenever humans collect in any numbers they do a few different things. One is they create groups or cliches, and another is they start talking. Once people start talking they realize that they are all alone in a big universe that doesn’t care if they survive or not. So like in the early days of mankind people start telling stories and some of them are made up.
Once a story is told a few times it starts to take on a life and quality all its own. This is the birth of Urban Legends and the new myths of mankind in a ship heading to a new star. So what are some of these myths? We are going to show you a few that have sprung up in the last 20 years or so.
The Lost Kids as they are called are ones that have been left by malice or accident in a section of the ship as it was being evacuated due to some problem. Parents will hear them crying in their sleep, if they can sleep after losing a child. Later a neighbor will catch a glimpse of them turning a corner in a dead end section of the ship. They will run to try to catch up with them so they can bring the poor lost kid home to their family. As they turn the corner there is no one there.
The parents might have a knock on the door to their quarters from what sounds like little hands. They look out and nothing is there. When they open the door there is a child about the same age as the one they lost. Standing on the other side of the passage and they look up to the adult and the face is gone. It is just a mask of flesh covering all the features of the face. But they hear a voice begging to be let in before the cold of space robs them of their will to get home.
The Bots are Learning
“The bots are learning”
OK just “water cooler kibitzing” but it seems to be more tenacious than other rumors. While the coding for the various autonomous drones around the ship is sophisticated, they are still just following their coding. But stories about the ‘bots acting strange are still being whispered from crew member to crew member. While there hasn’t been any recorded evidence of these events, anecdotal and hearsay accounts are numerous.
Stories of patrol bots being found far away from their programmed routes, with no reason as to the anomaly. Scouting drones just eerily freezing mid mission, responding to status queries with nonsense or eerie phrases like “It’s dark in here” or “Everythings Burning.” Assistive droids seemingly acting belligerent or contradicting an order.
Normally this would be chalked up to faulty coding or damage, but all recent inspections have not shown any damage to internal components and no corrupt code. Just superficial scuffing. And it’s a nightmare to track down the source of these stories and rumors. It’s always “I heard from crewmate so and so” or “I thought I read it in a memo somewhere.”
And cracking down on the rumors trigger the Streisand effect to an absurd degree. So the stories spread and change and grow.
It’s unfortunately having the side effect of putting everyone on edge. The crew is losing trust in the very technology that helps keep the ship together. Not trusting the data provided by the various ‘bots puts the crew in harm’s way. They don’t trust their robo-assistant to function properly. They’d quadruple check each robotic component to make sure it’s not going to act up.
Having a kid eying his father’s electric razor with distrust is the least of the ship’s worries
Sometimes you just need a little extra help, right? It’s one big closed system so it can’t really hurt anybody when you use it … and it had to come from somewhere inside the program. Look, I know you are worried about it, but it’ll be fine! The whole command sector uses it all the time.
It’s a simple little command to input at whatever terminal you’re logged into. Yeah, just a little code relic, a leftover piece of command access that they never got out of the ship’s system when it had to launch so fast. It just takes a little bleed off the scout ship’s launch, no big deal. Some kind of quantum power boost that gets around the system limitations and a little extra access to let you in where you need to go. Yeah, just use this passcode.
Don’t worry about it. They won’t come for you. There is no such thing as a code reclamation technician. It’s not true at all. No, there are no grey suited technicians behind every corner tracing the code. That’s crazy talk; where would they put the bodies if that’s what is going on? NO. It’s fine, I’ve been using it for the last month and nothing happened to me!
[There is always a myth or legend of access, but gotten through an underhanded way. Some sort of a hole in reality or in the systems that are controlling the world. When you reach into that power, you run a risk. These urban legends and myths are often associated with horror and the occult, but when it’s a spaceship lost in the depths of the stars, the allure of a little extra computing power is what will keep this urban legend alive.]
Zendead – The Wandering Earth on Netflix is a really neat idea. It is full of cool visuals as well as things to use for a massive ship type game.
Joules – Attack Surface – by Cory Doctorow
Guard-a-Manger – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell. Chances are that you have heard of Joseph Campbell, and maybe you’ve read his work about the Hero’s Journey before. While not the last word on the subject, the prevailing power of the Campbell Monomyth work shows how you can grasp the underlying power of legend and myth for your game.
Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae
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