Virtual and augmented reality services in #Starfinder

This post is a creative piece offering some ideas for the Starfinder roleplaying game. Any resemblance to real life entities are purely coincidental. Please feel free to use this content in your own campaign or discuss or expand on these ideas in the comments.

I present in this post a few ideas for ways in which citizens of the Pact Worlds make use of and benefit from virtual reality or augmented reality services. The Starfinder setting offers futuristic technology to those dwelling in the relatively civilised Pact Worlds system. Where Infosphere bandwidth is sufficient, citizens can make use of holographic and immersive virtual reality technologies to go beyond the limitations of their senses or local environment:

Masquerade, The Ring district of Absalom Station
This sprawling multi-levelled dance club offers state of the art computer services to its patrons, for a stiff entry fee. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of music on its five different themed dancefloors, and the excellent array of drinks and substances sold at the many bars. The main attraction for most patrons is the club-wide support for virtual and augmented reality ‘overlays’. Customers use cybernetic or headset-mounted systems to project a fantastical, stylised or subtle disguise over their body. Regulars call these ‘masks’. Different nights will have themed or strict codes for the types or forms of mask to wear; some nights masks are optional, on others mandatory for all. Socialites judge others by the ingenuity and originality of a given mask, and informally competition is high to be the sensation of the event.

The Shadow Auction, The Eye district of Absalom Station
Not quite such the big secret the name might suggest, this large auction hall is to be found in the central Eye district of the station. Auctions here are strictly ticket-only affairs and tickets are very, very expensive. Wealthy political heavy-weights and business folk meet here under the strictest conditions of anonymity to bid on things of particular rarity and wealth. Participants usually arrive under very stringent security measures, even using magic to obscure their appearance or arrival route.

Each participant of an auction has a private booth with every comfort provided in strict isolation. Their participation in the auction is entirely virtual  – their uniform, androgynous android avatars meet in an “air-gapped” (i.e. offline) Infosphere virtual auction hall. All avatars are uniform in every way and only identified by a randomised number for that particular auction. The system keeps track of bids and informs all participants on the results for the whole auction when it is completed.

CIM movie theatres, various throughout system
The CIM (Cinema sIMulation) franchised technology provides interactive/immersive movie experiences for Pact World citizens throughout the system. Installations vary in size and configuration from the smallest private holo-entertainment suite to large multiplexes for public consumption. Participants immerse themselves in these experiences either individually or in small groups (like private karaoke rooms) using direct Infosphere virtual reality links (cyberware) or an immersive VR ‘tank’ that they sit in. The technology advertises a full sensory experience guaranteed! Individuals or groups can experience multiple different story-paths and variant endings for a given movie or interactive story based on choices or actions while in the CIM.

One very popular CIM series is “Other Worldly”, a series of virtual reality flight simulation movie with immersion turned up to the max. Cambots are used for flights through cometary tails, planetary rings and giant atmospheric storms. Users get to experience ‘flying through’ an alien environment with reconstructed smells and sounds (carefully tuned to acceptable and non-toxic levels).

WorldsMeet, various throughout the Pact Worlds
This platform is a system-wide virtual reality high resolution holographic real-time comms service only available on major Pact Worlds settlements. It is restricted to for calls within a given planet’s Infosphere as transmission delays across the system would interfere with its primary use. Calls are fully immersive holographic projections in one of several configuration.

The most common option is the 1-way (‘go to them’) call where an individual projects their virtual avatar to another location, usually a well-equipped office or performance venue. A second option is a 2-way (‘meet in the middle’) call where two parties or groups both project their avatar or environment to a virtual meeting space. Full 360 visual and aural feed integration is provided to allow for discussion or performances to be shared, but no tactile interaction is possible. Fees vary by world and available connection: standard rates vary between 6-30 credits per minute given sufficient bandwidth capacity.

A related but more limited-purpose service is WorldsWatch for the larger scale holographic participation of an entire audience for a lecture or performance (usually flat fee per event – 100-300 credits per participant not including any fee from the event organisers). This variant is popular for high end music concerts and academic conferences where virtual participation is prefered over the potentially costly and time-consuming travel that would be required to attend an event in person.

This post is based on entries in the Starfinder Core and the Pact Worlds rulebooks, please see these source for more details on specific locations or aspects of the Starfinder setting.

This entry was posted in Starfinder, TTRPG. Bookmark the permalink.