Game Idea 7-28-2017 "A Good Time Stmo to Die"
Planet Mokkoman is odd in Federation territory. They use droids. Artificial Lifeforms. They are friendly with the Federation, but the Federation is ambivalent. Are these creatures people or robots? Most of the "droids" on Mokkoman fall right into the gray area where it's hard to tell.
The Organic people of Mokkoman culturally consider these creatures to be objects/property and treat them as such.
They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They use a variation on positronic brains technology they developed themselves. They'd build and sell as many as Starfleet wanted to carry away for a nominal fee, but Starfleet frowns on this.
Compared to Data and the EMH most of the "droids" would chimpanzees or monkeys compared to humans.
But this makes it harder to parse the ethical issues involved in owning these creatures and what rights they should have.
The PCs ship gets a distress call from Mokkoman.
Droids have started destroying themselves. It has become an epidemic.
Why? What's going on? Is there a way to tell beforehand? Is it an outside force? hacking? a design flaw? Are the Droids waking up enough to perceive their true place in Mokkoman culture and suffering despair?
If too many droids self-destruct, the Mokkoman economy would be crippled. If most of the droids self-destruct then the people of Mokkoman might not be able to feed themselves.
The Mokkoman positronic brain is a neural network computer that learns as it goes. When the droids are turned on they have a set of pre-loaded skills, instructions and scripts for dealing with things. As they go along, they learn more and more and their brains develop complex self-programming which add to their skill and competency but also leads to them developing personalities.
The Positronic brain design doesn't mesh well with standard modern computer technology. So it would be difficult to back up a Mokkoman PosBrain state and reload it into a fresh unit. Each unit processes its input in its own way, so they can't be combined into more powerful units.
The range in sizes from small (Cat sized) to Large (Human Sized) the capacity and capability of each brain depends on its size.
A Mokkoman owner of such a droid can have his units Memory wiped. This deletes all previous learning and experience and has the brain starting over as a blank slate. Some owners with used droids do this because they don't like the previous personalities their used droids develop.
For me, the primary goal would be to call into question "What makes a person a person?" and let the players discuss and argue this for a while.
Note - This is actually a deep philosophical question we don't have good answers for yet. Most people THINK they know, but in reality, this is a "feeling" and not a definition. So if the discussion bogs down or becomes combatative, be prepared to have pirates show-up and start shooting to break this up.
I don't know what is causing the Droids to self-destruct.
On the one hand, I'd say make up your mind before the PCs got there, so all the clues they discovered would be internally consistent.
On the other hand, we all know the players would come up with something better with their own conjectures and speculations, so you'd want to leave space to reroute into a better idea if the Players gave you one.
In Jay Trek, there would be these things in play.
The Ferengi would have a mission there to buy droids in bulk. Laborers you don't have to pay? Ka-Ching! If they can license or steal the technology, so much the better.
Orions would be sniffing around for a complex reason. They like having organic slaves for cultural and personal reasons. They actually have access to all Federation technology, so droids would be sort of superfluous if they put all that to work. They don't because the way the Federation is set up is too egalitarian for them. It's the natural order that some be rich and powerful and the many are poor and destitute. If you didn't have poverty and hardship as a river, you wouldn't find the most competent conquerors and warlords as they struggled to escape poverty and hardship.
BUT, the Orions have a customer.
The Romulan Star Empie is running into a problem. They can't make enough Romulans. As Imperial space expands the need for trained Romulans goes up by the same factor cubed. They barely have enough Romulans to keep their Star Navy up to strength and to properly manage their subject worlds.
If the loyalty of these droids could be guaranteed they could be wonderful leverage for the Romulans of the Star Empire.
So the Romulans have asked a few semi-friendly Orions to look into the technology for them.
The Orions would be *really* intent on keeping this knowledge out of Starfleet's hands, because they hate Starfleet and their Romulan Customers would ghost them if they actually let Starfleet know what they were doing.
So Starfleet PCs asking around why the Orions were sniffing around Mokkoman would get a variety of made-up answers, ranging from reasonable and believable to whimsically and insultingly false.
For added humor, one might have a Federation Group like "People for the Ethical Treatment of Artificial Lifeforms" - a group of people who think that the Mokkoman relationship with their droids is built on a problematic basis. PETAL would be holding demonstrations and doing their best to persuade the people of Mokkoman to reconsider their culture.
Personally, I agree with them, but in this case, playing the fuzzy headed hippy card for humor might be fun.
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