In the 25th century, scientists and technicians on the distant colony world of Zharus make a startling breakthrough in energy storage and artificial intelligence, with the aid of “qubitium,” a naturally-occurring metamaterial with remarkable quantum properties. The creation of true AI springs from quantum simulations of neural networks based on animals’ genetic material that expand to take on true sapience.
Matching these “Reticulated Intelligence” (RI) neural networks with nanotech-composite “Drive Extender” (DE) transforming robotic bodies produces the RIDE: a metallic animal that can transform itself into a vehicle such as a hover-motorcycle (or hover-car or even plane for larger animals) or into an environmentally sealed suit of anthropomorphic-animal body armor to survive the extreme environments of Zharus’s deserts, undersea, or even outer space. (Because combining with such a suit goes beyond merely putting it on and involves elements of physical and neural linkage, the act of merging with a RIDE in armor mode is called “Fusing.”) Thanks to “hardlight” technology, RIDEs can even be covered with solid holographic fur that feels real to the touch, and even to the RIDE itself.
However, due to their animal basis, Fusing with a RIDE can have consequences for the pilot. In order for them to be neurologically compatible, the pilot has to have similar physical features to the RIDE itself—and the RIDE’s nanotech innards are designed to grant those changes. This means that Fusing with RIDEs based on ordinary land mammals will grant the rider their ears and tail (and sometimes more extreme additions such as nose, eyes, or fur).
RIDEs based on further different animals, such as reptiles, birds, or undersea mammals, can produce much extreme changes in their riders that restrict their ability to change back or combine with a different RIDE. And likewise, if the pilot is the wrong gender, the RIDE’s nanites will adjust that, too. In most cases of gender or other extreme change, the changed human is unable to change back for at least three years.
These RIDEs are used in taming the huge continent of Gondwana, a harsh and often lawless frontier that, unlike the more sedate and longer-settled continent of Laurasia, has many rich resources there for the taking, and a number of city-states occupying the ring of fertile land around the great central desert. In the desert, RIDEs are necessary to live. In the cities, they are urban transportation and playthings of the wealthy and middle-class alike. But even as they are considered mere “equipment” by many, those who know and love them know they are more than that—they are people too. Will the world come to realize and acknowledge this?
In recent years, rumors of a new form of change have been circulating—a combining of rider and RIDE that goes far beyond Fusing. Called “Integration,” this combines man and machine into a single gestalt being who can no longer separate—and who are rumored to possess powers far beyond those of mere mortals or RIDEs. It is as yet unclear whether these “Integrates” are to be welcomed or feared—and, indeed, many would place them in the same category as Bigfoot, the Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster. But these Integrates may be growing tired of keeping to themselves.
And the latest potential threat may very well be the old home world of Earth itself. For fifty years, it has scoffed at the idea that a distant, backward world like Zharus could be the home of so many major technological breakthroughs. But Earth’s mind may be changing on that score—and it has long been known for its willingness to reach out and take what it wants.
Welcome to the world of Zharus—and to its denizens. Colonists. Bandits. Miners. Mechanics. FreeRIDErs.
For more information, see the stories written in the shared-universe setting at
For purposes of this game, if two players don’t partner up as each other’s human and RIDE, then I’m generally okay with you writing your character’s partner as an NPC, and choosing character traits that combine the more important-to-the-story aspects of both of them.
Remember that the way the system works, just because you didn’t buy a trait doesn’t mean you don’t have it. It just means it’s not important enough to how your character acts to have a major influence on the story. (And if that should change, you can use a Wild to kick it in.)
Hosted and narrated by:
Chris Meadows (Robotech_Master)
Scenes played: 3
License: Community License