The Cray

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Tortanick
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The Cray

#1 Post by Tortanick » Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:52 am

The Cray

Introduction
A minor robotic race, physically powerful, extremely intelligent but few in number. As an extremely young race the Cray are unsure of their place in the universe and compensate by throwing themselves into galactic life with unbridled enthusiasm.

Homeworld A frozen wasteland with few redeeming qualities, they've mostly moved to another planet in their system, an barren world almost equally unremarkable but rich in minerals.

Why they arn't a major power Sucessfully training a new Master Craftsman is a rare occasion, and they're well aware their society is inefficient enough as it is, large expansion would render it unworkable unless they split into independent empires.

Physical description The Crey resemble a large black box of smooth shiny plastic with rounded corners, they measure six meters in all directions. A large mechanical tentacle extends from the centre of four faces (the other two being top and bottom) these serves primarally for locomotion and heavy lifting. Each tentacle ends in a large three pronged claw, pyramid shaped when closed Y shaped when open, stored within these claws is another three tentacles used for fine manipulation these also end with identical claws but do not contain a third layer of tentacles.

The Cray's strong clean design hides the rather less eligent interior. The interior of a Crey is practically one large tangle of wires with neither rhyme nor reason and for some reason a large screw bolt that serves no obvious purpose but if removed causes frequent violent psychotic episodes.

The Cray's language is done by wireless radio and wouldn't look that out of place running a computer's networking stack, if for some reason wireless isn't available they fall back to a vocal language that is an exact bit for bit replica of their wireless communications, it sounds like modem noise and the Cray can talk across large distances by increasing the volume to levels that would make most organic species' ears bleed. The Cray are impressively parallelised and can hold an average of four trains of thought at once, this is never more obvious then when they are talking, frequently having more than one conversation at a time, often several with the same person. Aliens tend to find this really hard to follow.

In sensing the world the Cray are limited to sound where their hearing is exceptional being able to distinguish individual sounds in a flood of noise and easily triangulate where a sound is coming from. Touch where they are limited to pressure sensors in the claws and radar. The Cray are very aware of their lack of visual sight and make up for this with direct feeds from wireless cameras. While carrying one round with you isn't uncommon for the most part, especially in more urban areas, the Cray simply use the public access cameras, this tends to make their cities look Orwellian. With the advent of cheep spaceflight the Cray are starting to build a a network of public spy satellites.

Society
The Cray are a tribal society each tribe is formed around a single Cray known as a Master Craftsman who has the skills to build and maintain Cray. Because the Cray are so badly designed even the Master Craftsman rarely get them perfect and each tribe gets its own “racial characteristics” based on the idiosyncrasies of its Master Craftsman's work. A tribe typically has between two-hundred and three-hundred Cray, the upper limit being how many its Master Craftsman has can keep maintained at once. The correct word for another member of your tribe is “my kin” while your Master Craftsman is “my maker”.

Governance in a tribe varies: big decisions especially those involving other tribes are done by a formal government the exact system varies across tribes: Democracy, dictatorship (benevolent or otherwise), communism, its all there. Its extremely rare to find a system where the Master Craftsman doesn't have a lot of official or unofficial clout, its rather common to find one where they don't bother using their influence.

Day to day decisions however have no official government but instead run on an extremely complex web of favours, all Cray will happily help their kin if asked and afterwords both will remember exactly what the debt is. While not the most efficient way of running an economy this system means that within a tribe the Cray will owe or be owed favours by a good portion of the community fostering exceptionally strong social bonds and that is just the way they like it.

Its considered a moderate faux pas to offer to pay one's kin, the correct response is to insist that you'll help your kin for free, but you're still aloud to remind them that “I did a favour for you” next time you need something. If a Cray is heavily in debt then the tribe will find excuses to ask for a favour until they're comfortable again. The Master Craftsman technically isn't outside the favour economy, but since everyone permanently owes him for maintenance in practice he basically is.

Intertribal politics is a hybrid of capitalistic deals and political diplomacy, if possible individual tribes will run an entire business be it a factory, a collection of trading ships or a research laboratory for hire, consultant firms where the day to day work is in another tribe's buisnsess isn't rare and considered perfectly respectable but simply being a regular employee working for another tribe will get you a few looks. Mostly this is done by poor tribes, young tribes and the rare maverick who wanted to work in a different industry.

negative stuff
I got the impression that I was making the Cray sound too good so in the interests of good characterisation here is some of there worse personality traits.

Firstly interactions outside the tribe are your standard national self interest, they're not above going to war over a nice bit of space or money.

Mild xenophobia, the Cray have a strong bias towards their kin, if another tribe or an alien accuses a Cray then his tribe will close ranks. It is possible to get justice but its not easy and its not that surprising when a Cray's tribe manage to shield one of their own from consequences. Even if they know the other is guilty they want to deal with it internally and are often unjustly soft in punishment.
Disputes involving one party outside the tribe can quickly escalate when the tribe (or if another Cray both triebes) joins to back their kin.

A persistent social issue throughout Cray society is the romin, clan's who have lost their Master Craftsman, while immortal under normal circumstances they Cray will “age and die” without maintenance. All Master Craftsman are capable of maintaining a Cray despite another's idiosyncrasies, they have to be to maintain themselves, but its hard work so you rarely see a new Master Craftsman join a romin tribe. Exceptionally talented romin may be invited to join other tribes but since that means abandoning their kin its not a popular option.

The result of this is that Cray society has a not-insignificant underbody of romin, often impoverished due to the need to pay other tribe's Master Craftsman for maintenance and as a result frequently politically disenfranchised. While some romin have taken jobs that reflect the near inevitability of their deaths, often in military roles the rest remain a persistent social issue that the Cray would like to solve, but consider unsolvable. You just can't force a Master Craftsman to adopt someone if they don't want too, they're too respected to be forced into anything and there are real reasons why they generally don't.

history

The Cray's history began in a war between the Final Ones and the Experimenters, who won or why they were fighting is irrelevant, what matters is that the Experimenters were forced to abandon a small shipyard hidden on a frozen world, when they did so they left behind a sawrm of powerful computer viruses introduced by Final One saboteurs, like most precursor programs both the virus and the countermeasures were quasi-intelligent and capable of self modification. For centuries war raged across the servers until in a miracle of unlikely chance one strain of the virus achieved full sentience.

Tiring of the never-ending war these intelligent viruses lead their less evolved counterparts in a reckless assault to capture the automated manufacturing. Bruised, bloody and abandoning most of their memories they limped into physical bodies to emerge blinking into sunlight in a world they Barely comprehended. These first Cray taught themselves of the physical world, first cannibalising the shipyard that built them and then natural resources they learnt to build more of themselves forming the first tribes.

As time went on these early Cray reversed engineered what remained of some Experimenter spaceships, precursor technology was far too complicated but they grasped the principles of spaceflight and moved themselves to a warmer barren world rich in mineral resources, here the Cray thrived and multiplied. They have only the slightest idea where they came from and little idea where they're going but they have each other and they're alive by god they love it. Now a modestly sized population spreading across their solar system the Cray prepare to throw themselves to the stars, they may not find their purpose but its a huge galaxy filled with life and the Cray want to be part of it.

Gameplay effects
Research bonus due to high intellect.

Combat bonus due to superior reflexes size and toughness.

Economic penalties due to the way they run their economy.

Extremely slow population growth.

ship design
The Cray favour crystalline ships designed to look like living creatures. To the Cray a ship isn't just a way to move through space it is a message shouted across the cosmos: We're alive and its beautiful!


Trvia
The Cray have very minor psychic powers giving them an accurate if undependable intuition that warns them if they're in danger.

Philosophical questions like: do robots have a soul? Do robots really think or do they just fake it? Are considered rude by the Cray. So is the stereotype of a purely logical robot.

The Cray have deeply repressed “daddy issues” about being “abandoned” by their creators. The most notable effect is their tendency to constantly prove to themselves and others that they're not worthless. Their strong social bonds may be a way of getting the approval from their kin that they never got from their creators.

The Cray are still capable of inhabiting the standard experimentor operating system, and if uploaded can reck havoc.

The Cray don't care weather you call them he or she, but they don't like being called it. Languages with a gender neutral pronoun for people tend to use that. Flipping between he and she will get you a good humoured “make up your mind”

Romin comes from the words roam and ronin. If used as an adjective the pronunciation changes to roaming but the spelling remains the same.

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eleazar
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Re: The Cray

#2 Post by eleazar » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:52 am

I like the fact that these guys are designed from the start as a minor species. And the idea of a clumsy, cheerful robot is a nice switch. There's some good personality here, but not all of the pieces seem like they are really integrated.

For instance, it seems hard to reconcile the idea of the Cray being great researchers, and very intelligent with the idea that their physical form is a massive kludge, with poor senses.

Perhaps to even further go with the anti-robot-stereotype thing, get rid of the research bonus, -- in fact i'd give them a malus to the classic robot skills of tech and industry-- and instead give them a bonus in the last thing you'd expect robot to have, like farming, diplomacy, or maybe economics. This would mesh better with their odd, kludgy nature.

You could then mention how some craftsmen have tried to build a a more efficient Cray, but inevitably the result is non-sentient, psychotic, or has a dangerous fixation with hopscotch.

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Tortanick
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Re: The Cray

#3 Post by Tortanick » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:18 am

I'm back.

For research I think that physically they're a complete kludge but mentally they're one of the better races. Multiprocessor brains are a very nice feature to have.

An industry penalty would be appropriate given how economically inefficient their tribal society is. So that can go in :) The thing about a farming bonus is that they have no need to farm, so where would a bonus come in? A diplomacy bonus would work though, they're smart. They're empathetically not confused by emotions and multiprocessor brains again:
Two processors talk so the other diplomat needs to stretch their mind to keep up with you, one processor psychoanalyses and one dose mathematical calculations to create the perfect trade agreement. Yeah Diplomacy bonus works :)

Trying to improving the Cray design and making a horrible mess dose sound like something that would have happened until they learnt not to.

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eleazar
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Re: The Cray

#4 Post by eleazar » Sat Apr 03, 2010 4:21 pm

Tortanick wrote: The thing about a farming bonus is that they have no need to farm, so where would a bonus come in?
Maybe they just like gardening and plants? The robot with a green thumb.

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Tortanick
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Re: The Cray

#5 Post by Tortanick » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:21 pm

Hmmm, that makes sense. I'm not sure if recreational gardening is the same skill-set as food production but I won't object.

It dosn't change the fact they won't benefit from this bonus. Think that is a problem?

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Bigjoe5
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Re: The Cray

#6 Post by Bigjoe5 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:48 pm

It would be a problem for a major species. Since the Cray are a minor species, it's not a problem.
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