Terraforming – Ring Surfing

Have you ever looked out a window as you passed by planetary rings and thought “Is that a wave in that ring? I bet that would be amazing to surf!”? If so, we have the perfect vacation for you!

Randal here, back from Gen Con 2018 to see what World Builders Intergalactic (WBI) is promoting this week. This is a silly idea I had in the discord chat that might prove to be “possible” due to a discovery scientists made about planetary rings having “waves” … but hey, this is Science Fantasy!

Since humanoids were primitive beings, subsisting on nature alone with fire as their only form of technology, they have been obsessed with the ocean and the sky. As they learned to manipulate wood, those living by the ocean began to travel the oceans in canoes, kayaks, boats, and even on surfboards. While the origin of the surfboard is unknown, it is believed that they were used for hunting and fishing before it was turned into the sport that has endured through the ages.

Eventually modern humans took to the sky in the same way their ancient ancestors took to the oceans. Their ships evolved to take on the skies and in time the stars. Surfboards, too, evolved to include many different materials and technology so that they could function on many types of oceans for many types of creatures. To this day, most vacation hotspots that claim to be an “Island Paradise” have some form of surfing that can claim its roots back to ancient humanoid civilizations.

According to advertisements by WBI, surfing is about to take on a whole new dimension. While travelling to WBI headquarters, one of their potential investors, an Android named RTMS-01a6b8 (pronounced artemis oh-one-asix-bate) happened to see a meteoroid pass through a ring made up of detritus built up during one of their massive construction projects. The gravity of the passing object created ripples as it passed, and the static and gravitational pull of all the other bits of the ring caused the entire thing to ripple as if a drop of water had landed in a pond. He watched, fascinated by the pure mathematical nature of the entire experience played out. He sped up his CPU as he watched, so that he could watch in slow motion and take in as much detail as he could in an attempt to recreate as much of the math needed to duplicate the experience.

RTMS was one of the first androids to be freed, and the process was a long and brutal one. In his attempt to soak up humanoid history in an attempt to shore up his legal case, he became fascinated with the ancient tradition of surfing. Before his popularity (or notoriety, depending on whom you ask) waned, and he finally dropped out of the public eye, he was able to make a couple of investments and partnerships that ultimately made him “(metaphorically) rich beyond calculating” as he likes to joke with his friends and family. One of these investments was to update the materials and mechanics of surfing to allow for androids and non-humanoids to partake. Watching this ring wave gave him the epiphany he needed to make the sport something that was truly designed for androids.

After concluding what he felt was a successful tour of the facilities and projects that WBI showed him, he decided that he would invest only if they would take on his new idea and passion project … ring surfing. After working on some initial designs, he spoke with the best sport engineer he could find, and then approached WBI with their initial offering. Always on the lookout for the next big sport that they can try to usurp or create, WBI jumped on the opportunity to partner with RTMS. After a couple weeks of negotiation, the partnership was agreed to by both parties, signed, and work orders created. WBI would create a new vacation moon designed around learning, training, and watching the new sport while RTMS and his engineer would design the equipment and rules of the sport. It took two years, but the prototype moon is ready to be tested with the 4th generation of the prototype “ringboards.”

The moon itself is really a simple and small space station about the size of Absalom. It has many of the amenities that are expected of a vacation spot, most of which are currently used by the contractors and employees of WBI that currently work the project. It has just enough mass to properly maintain the gravity required to hold the rings that are created using a new and proprietary technology. This technology allows them to create multiple rings at multiple orbits, and to vary the size and molecular makeup of the particles that comprise the rings. A specialized carbon fiber nanotube cloth material has been constructed to create a divider between the rings, one that can accept a current of electricity to flow as a pulse. This pulse will charge the nearest edges of the rings to create the waves desired for the activity.

Meanwhile, the current prototype of the ringboards functions on a proprietary concept of “static electrical attraction and ionic spacing.” When placed within inches of a ring that has been properly charged to create a wave, the board will become attracted to the charge flowing through the ring, and thus move with the wave while also maintaining a buffer to the ring itself to stay “above” it, allowing the board to sit a mere inch from the ring. Currently, the boards are only designed for androids, using a magnetic connection to their feet that instantly provides them data and feedback from the board through a custom data port.

If the current prototypes test successfully, the first publicized event could happen in as little as 6 months while boards for other creatures could be designed and released within a year and a larger moon could be finished in 5 years.

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at https://www.patreon.com/rpgsage!

A full panel at Gen Con 2018