Saturday, July 16, 2011

Random Thought of the Day . . . Space Prison!

On the Atomic Think Tank forums for Mutants and Masterminds one of the posters was soliciting ideas for the names of space prisons.  I threw a few ideas out there, but now that I did, I really, really like one of them that I came up with:

Schrodinger's Rock

The idea is that the Rock is out of phase between two dimensions.  The only way to enter the prison is with a special device to attune the visitor to the exact point between the two dimensions where the prison fully exists.  Schrodinger's Rock appears as a ghostly fortress on both dimensions that it phases between, but cannot be interacted with without the proper device.

Now that I came up with this idea, some day I have to use it.  Perhaps it sucks and I'm just enamored of it because it's late at night and my judgement is lacking.


  1. How is this different from the Phantom Zone?

  2. Aha! Let me elaborate. The Phantom Zone is a pocket dimension created/discovered by the Krytonians that has no real sense of time, hence prisoners don't need to be fed, nor do they age.

    The Phantom Zone is accessible anywhere a proper Phantom Zone projector opens up an apeture to that pocket dimension.

    Schrodinger's Rock is a fortress built in one dimension as a normal, physical space station that is then shifted between two dimensions, and can only be accessed in one particular spot in space. It's not a separate pocket dimension itself, but a suspended point of existence that is balanced precariously between two separate realities.

    See? Clearly much different.

    Years of Star Trek pseudo-science taught me that . . . ;)

  3. Hmmm... Looking for problems here.

    1) Is the fortress of fixed size? If so, what do you do when the inevitable overcrowding occurs?

    2) Doesn't the need to feed prisoners open a security hole that can be exploited? (ie. regular shipments of food through the portal)

    3) What is done with prisoner waste? Is this another hole (ie. regular shipments of excrement/packaging/dead bodies back to our dimension)

    4) Are there jurisdictional problems (if the fortress does not exist in our reality, do our laws apply?)

    5) Do we need guards? If so, then how do unions feel about sending workers into a quasi-dimensional space that hasn't been tested to ensure worker safety? Are contracts binding between dimensions? What happens if the guards go on strike? Do we leave the prison unattended?

  4. First, since this is a comic book inspired place, I have different thoughts on this issue than I would if it were just a more general "sci-fi" style prison. This would be totally impractical in a more "normal" sci-fi setting, and a remote prison planet would almost always make more sense.

    Now, with that disclaimer out of the way:

    1. The prison is built in a modular fashion, so a new module can be constructed in "real space" and then shifted into the "in-between" as soon as it is finished to interlock with the existing prison.

    2. There is a security risk with shifting food into Schrodinger's Rock, but food shipments are huge and last for quite a while since most of the food is very basic proto-matter that gets processed into the semblance of whatever species' food the stuff needs to look like.

    3. Disintigrators!

    4. When this idea was first solicited, the setting was mentioned as being similar to the situation in the Marvel universe space, which consists of various space empires claiming large swaths of space for themselves.

    Since these space empires tend to be very likely to say "our way or the high way," I doubt that there is much concern over jurisdiction.

    If I were setting this in the DC Universe, I'd have this prison as something the freelance law enforcement group LEGION comes up with, which, indeed, would allow for some jurisdictional issues with the Green Lantern corps and other space civilizations.

    5. I would imagine that with the technology to shift a prison between dimensions, you could have automated guards in the facility.

    Another fun (for a GM) option is to have clones or a species bred to act as guards in the prison so that they workers don't have rights according to the civilization the built the place, which could make for a fun plot point.

    6. (Which I know wasn't asked but, hey, I'll throw it in for free) . . . some of the above would likely not be practical even if you could do it, tech wise, however, truth is stranger than fiction, and I've seen politicians okay less workable solutions in the real world . . . ;)

  5. Interesting stuff - I might head over to those boards and check them out. I was really stuck with our DCU game. What to do with the super-powered villains is a difficult question.

    In the end, I went with a powered up Lockdown. In our game, the whole city was upgraded by the Brainiac virus as a part of the setting, like in Superman. This included the prison, and the warden too, who is now a cyborg and helpful NPC.

    So it is basically a prison, with lasers and force fields and stuff. We imagine it like the prison in the start of the Judge Dredd movie, with the turrets.