Tuesday, March 5, 2013

064: 60% Plumbing

ENTRY 064: 60% Plumbing

Sixty percent of the Extropia habitat, by mass, consists of plumbing. This includes only the movement, treatment, heating, processing, and refinement of liquid water and waste throughout the system; the plumbing also interacts with many other subsidiary systems such as oxygen generation and air control, power generation, cooling, hydroponics, and various industrial processes.

Beneath nearly ever panel is at least one pipe carrying liquid water, color-coded for steam (white), fresh (blue), waste (yellow or brown), radioactive (pink), hot (red), and reclaimed (grey).  Also present are automatic and manual shut-offs and redirects to prevent loss or reshunt water to prevent pressure build-up and bursts. They line the maintenance corridors which lead to the hidden reservoirs and pump stations that are built into dead spaces throughout the habitat structure to best service the community and to manage the considerable mass of moving water form unbalancing the structural stability of the habitat.

The aquatechs that work Extropia’s plumbing have access to rarely-walked spaces, kept away from the commercial thoroughfares, out of sight of recreation areas, and like all transhumans who are in on a public secret, have their share of small jokes, amenities, and lore. They make no secret of the tiny stills and soda fountains that had been set up early in Extropia’s history, buried among the commercial boilers and mass of piping, tapping a few drams of pure or carbonated water to mix with homemade syrups or thin out home-made moonshine, and laugh about “line 212” which was marked radioactive but actually ferried pure alcohol from a collection point to a hidden reservoir not on any of the plans hundreds of yards away, where the ‘techs would get together to stage parties or just jam.

Perhaps more such hidden spaces still lurk among the complex web of Extropia’s plumbing, and other secrets besides. A ‘tech that knows the ins and outs of the plumbing architecture might know where the sensors are planted to detect movement, and how to bypass or jam them, and know enough to bring a headlamp or oxygen bottle because certain sections not in regular use are kept sealed and without light or air circulation most of the time. Certainly in their less sober moments the aquatechs hint at saboteurs and others who met dire fates beyond the watchful eyes of security cameras, and whose remains no doubt still exist in some quiet corner or behind some disused access panel, away from prying eyes.

Using 60% Plumbing

Most players and gamemasters do not always appreciate the scale of habitats, which must recreate in miniature an environment suitable to a broad spectrum of transhumanity. So no matter how large a habitat might appear from the outside, the actual living space is often considerably smaller. So it behooves gamemasters to remember that this additional space—within the walls, beneath the floors, above the ceiling (unless a dome)—exists as part of the setting; it is space where things or people may hide, where shooting up a wall has immediate consequences as lights go dim or steam and water (possibly radioactive or unprocessed waste) spout out and start to flood the compartment. Likewise, where these spaces are available to transhumanity, especially for a relatively long-lived habitat, they become less uniform, full of dead-ends, quick fixes, makeshift stills, hidden recreation areas and holo-posters of naked biomorphs, all the signs and detritus of human habitation.

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