Personal Satellite
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Basic Information

The personal satellite is a piece of equipment which floats around the user under its own power - either orbiting or keeping station in some other fashion and, hopefully, doing something useful whilst it is about it. Depending on the setting these may be magic items or technology (sufficiently advanced or otherwise) and may do all manner of things - from the purely decorative (essentially flying jewelry), to protection to complex enhancements like information storage/retrieval and magical assistance.

Some of the earliest literary examples of these are the ioun stones from Jack Vance's Dying Earth - definitely magical and varying in function, which later made their way into "that RPG" and have been much imitated and interated upon since. Fantasy games have also been known to feature such things as flying magic torches and "dancing" shields and weapons that escort and protect the user. Sci-fi versions are typically small robots of one kind or another (such as the drones and knife-missiles of Ian M. Banks' "Culture") and again, may do anything from providing illumination to delivering disproportionate amounts of firepower. More prosaically, some sci-fi has introduced personal satellite type cameras - so that the wandering journalist is accompanied by one or more drones rather than a camera crew.

The fantasy versions tend to require a world with relatively mechanistic and overt magic - unless they really are eyebrow raisers - and the sci-fi ones some pretty advanced tech to squeeze sufficient power, anti-gravity capability and processing capacity into a reasonably small package. The smaller the drone, the bigger the deal.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Consider the rarity and effectiveness of these things in your campaign: if they are comparatively cheap and useful, then most people will be surrounded by a constellation of these things. If cheap but of limited use, being surrounded by a lot of them may be a key feature of some kind of niche profession. Useful but expensive satellites are likely to be a mark of a VIP of one kind or another and expensive but useless ones of a very different kind of VIP.
  • Feel free to have a selection of them - perhaps the "flying torch" is relatively common and something widely used by people out at night but the "Yojimbo-chan MkXI PA drone with military grade interceptor field and plasma projector" is the sort of thing that only Senior Imperial Officials or members of the Special Operations Directorate tend to be able to lay hands on. Especially if it's roughly the size of a golf-ball.
    • Then feel free to make some of them look like something else1: what looks like a "Tinkerbot Personal Illuminator Drone" is actually an undercover version of the aforementioned Yojimbo-chan. Likewise the elf-princess' dainty floating glitter-jewels may actually be spell-baubles packed with the most powerful enchantments that the high artificiers of the Hall of Singing Winds could bind into them and quite capable of protecting her from an entire army or levelling a city.
  • Targetting one of these, either to grap it or shoot it, is likely to be a whole new kind of fun.
  • Expect these to be a useful escort to military units once they become practicable - from looking around corners for the infantry to doing pop-up-look-down searches for heavier units.
    • Fan powered, realtively slow moving versions - or those similar to modern toy helicopters - might well be practicable twenty minutes into the future.
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