Star Wars Technological Explanations II

Today it’s another couple of features of the Star Wars universe – the impact of the Force on biology, medicine, and technology, including that wonderful Bacta…

   The Force has a great impact on life throughout the galaxy, although it often passes unrecognized by those who simply accept the “ground rules” at face value. It modifies quite a few biological – and even a few mechanical – processes. For example:

  • The mind is linked with, and operates through, the brain, but isn’t really reliant on it. This means that no physical method (including surgery, chemicals, brain damage, control implants, and electrical manipulations) of neural programming, coercion, or mindwiping is entirely reliable, effective, or permanent. Similarly, only force-sensitives (and not all of them) can use technology that interfaces directly with their “mind” via the brain – and it means devoting a good deal of their potential power to maintaining that interface.
  • It provides a non-genetic method of adaption. Creatures arriving in a new biosphere will find that they can digest the local foods, resist the local illnesses, tolerate the local environment, and – for that matter – pick up the local communication techniques – with considerably more ease than is at all physically likely. Creatures born on a particular world will often demonstrate far more extensive adaptions, while remaining genetically almost unchanged.
    • There are a lot fewer races, and far far fewer biochemical systems, around the galaxy than is commonly believed. No one really knows whether the biochemical similarities are due to Force-encouraged panspermia or exogenesis effects (spores, bacteria, and similar lifeforms being naturally spread around the galaxy), to some unknown cause, or to life-seeding (whether purposeful or unintentional) by the first few (long long lost) civilizations of the galaxy, but the effects are undeniable. The racial similarities are even easier to explain: over the history of the galaxy innumerable races have built civilizations, scattered colonies, and collapsed – only to repeat the cycle on their original and other worlds. While force-based adaptions and local genetic drift results in many cosmetic – and occasional deeper – changes in such races, quite a few apparently-distinct “species” are capable of interbreeding naturally, and many more can manage it with a little technological or force-based assistance.
  • Nonphysical “Alien Powers” are, in fact, generally Force monotalents. Like all such, they’re not subject to the feedback-loops which can lead to the “dark side”, but they do make their users subject to Force-based detection, are affected by Force-negation effects, render their users subject to Force-transmitted disturbances and disruptions, and are open channels for Force-based attacks. A fair number of both sapient and nonsapient creatures possess such abilities, ranging from some popular pets on through exceedingly exotic life forms.
  • Transplant surgery generally does not work; unless the tissue being transplanted is originally from the recipient or is virtually genetically identical, the Force will not recognize it as a part of the recipient’s body, and it will be rejected. Major medical centers may be able to regrow or clone limbs and organs, but the techniques are specialized for particular races and require good genetic samples. Only major medical centers, or those specializing in particular races, can usually muster the necessary information and resources – and even they are helpless if the donor’s tissues have sustained too much genetic damage from some agency to obtain a viable genetic sample; the Force can help such a victim survive with such damage, but it cannot correct it via any known technique. If you can’t find someone with the expertise, equipment, and resources to do a bit of genetic tweaking and clone the tissues you need, prosthetics are about the only option. Fortunately, they’re quite good – and, since they only interact with the peripheral nervous system, they are not limited to force-sensitives.
  • If the bond between the Force-aspect and the physical aspect of a living creature is sufficiently disrupted, that creature will die – regardless of any conventional medical attention, right down to cellular-level life support. You may be able to keep individual bits going, but you’ll only have lumps of flesh; the mind and personality will have permanently departed. An excess of shame or humiliation, sheer despair, and psychological traumas may be lethal without any physical cause or justification.

   The Force does interact with technology. In general:

  • Systems that mimic living things, whether by “thinking” or self-replicating, become increasingly erratic over time. Self-replication generally fails after only a few generations while computers and droids will need regular reprogramming. This can be partially corrected on a local level by any form of living supervision (Force-sensitives are more effective and Force users are most effective), but means that things like self-duplicating automatic factories and such remain a pipe dream. If you want to really exploit resources, you have to send people out to do it. Installations that are left to operate on their own are subject to this limitation as well, although they can be effectively set on standby and left for later use.
  • Force-sensitives and -users can channel the Force into enhancing equipment, allowing it to (sometimes FAR) surpass normal operational, technological, and even physical limits. Unfortunately, this is a great deal of effort and takes a long time to recover from. Such equipment will, however, remain enhanced until the individual who imbued it with the force dies, and will occasionally remain enhanced for some time thereafter. Would-be inventors occasionally produce amazing breakthroughs, and are disappointed to find that their creations are doomed to remain near-unique.
  • Super-weapons never last. There are, in fact, several ways to build gigantically-destructive weapons. Simply building one invariably runs into all kinds of obstacles. Letting people find out about the project makes it worse. Actually blowing up, sterilizing, or otherwise wrecking a planetary ecosystem is likely to cause all kinds of malfunctions – and no known superweapon in history has survived more than three uses. Interestingly, a device of virtually identical design, deployed to blow up rogue planetoids without ecosystems, or to dismantle lifeless gas giants for use as raw materials, or some such project will work just fine – until someone tries to use it as a weapon.
    • A powerful Force-user may be able to moderate or prevent such problems, but – if so – they would be well advised to never leave their super-weapon unattended for long once it’s been used. Even a few minutes absence may lead to having to build a new one.
  • Self-repairing machines, or machines which are repaired by other machines, are possible, but are never 100% effective. Even the best such machines will need occasional maintenance from a living technician. This, of course, is why jobs such as “vehicle repair” are not simply left to droids; a good droid can – for example – multiply the number of vehicles an expert mechanic can keep running, but you still always need the expert on call.

   This brings us to Bacta – apparently a universal cure-all, at least as far as gross tissue damage is concerned. The doctors don’t like to talk about it, but Bacta (there are actually several strains, “generic” Bacta is a mixture of them) is simply a bio-engineered form of a Force-using protoplasmic parasite. The original creature infiltrated damaged tissues, taking it’s pattern from the remaining tissue, from the victims own force-pattern, and from the biochemistry of it’s new environment. Given a few hours to work in, it would disguise itself as a part of the victims own tissues, essentially becoming a genetically-chimerical part of the hosts body. Over time, it would digest and replace more and more of the hosts tissues, eventually breaking down the victim into a puddle of goo after the critical point where the host’s Force-pattern and original body was too far gone to maintain was reached.

   Fortunately, such victims became sterile as soon as the parasite replaced the gonads since it did not imitate their genetic structure and the immune system of a healthy host tended to eliminate it before it could effectively disguise itself. Still, the original parasite – and the false feelings of invulnerability it produced when hosts noticed that wounds sealed themselves almost instantly – has killed (and still kills) a great many people.

   The modified version still infiltrates and mimics tissue, replacing damaged potions – but it has been rendered incapable of growing without several special provisions and stimulants. Within a few hours or days (depending on the purity), Bacta can effectively “heal” major injuries (and will, in many cases, gradually be replaced thereafter by the user’s naturally-regrowing tissues). It cannot, however, replace organs and systems which are entirely missing: if you have a ruptured or damaged liver, Bacta can replace the damaged tissue. If you’re missing a leg, Bacta can seal off and cushion the stump, anchor loose tendons, and cover the area with “skin” – but can’t replace major portions of the body or substitute for skeletal materials. Worse, if the damage is too extensive – bad enough to cause the victims force-pattern to degrade or to destroy too large a proportion of the victims tissues – bacta will not be able to effectively pattern itself, and will simply slough away.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Technical Explanations II: Mental Manipulations, Interrogations, The Force and Biochemical Adaption, Species Interbreeding, Alien Powers, Transplant Surgery, Unexplained Deaths, Technological Limitations and Enhancements, and Bacta […]

  2. […] Technical Explanations II: Mental Manipulations, Interrogations, The Force and Biochemical Adaption, Species Interbreeding, Alien Powers, Transplant Surgery, Unexplained Deaths, Technological Limitations and Enhancements, and Bacta […]

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