The ability to create any object from seeming nothingness is a common theme in science fiction. Known as matter replication, the process is the computerized creation of an object where no such object existed before. Essentially, matter replication allows for an object to be willed into existence through the application of technology.
Matter replication is not discovered until PL 7 and typically is not perfected until PL 8, when manipulation on the atomic level becomes truly practical. Matter replication is an incredibly precise process that requires not only detailed blueprints for an object (down to the molecular level) but also the ability to recreate that object in some fashion.
Matter replication is usually accomplished by machines known simply as replicators. A replicator device combines powerful computers that store massive amounts of blueprints for various objects. These computers have a catalogue of millions of objects and a detailed plan for replicating each one. Specialized replicators only replicate certain objects within a category, such as food or weapons
, eliminating the need for too diverse a catalogue (which takes up massive amounts of memory storage). Once the blueprint for the desired object is located, the replicator triggers whatever recreation mechanism is in place (see below) and produces it within a matter of minutes.
Matter replication usually raises issues that fundamentally change a society. With matter replication, hunger is almost instantaneously eliminated since foods can be reproduced instantaneously without the time and effort of planting, tending, and harvesting. The laws of supply and demand sometimes cease to apply since any object in a replicator's catalogue can be duplicated as many times over as desired. Occasionally, all concepts of personal wealth
vanish because anyone can have any object he or she desires simply by replicating it. Some governments restrict the use of replicators to prevent malcontents and rebels from arming themselves with replicated weapons
, and some societies keep a tight rein on all replicators to prevent abuse. These are a few of the issues raised by the advent of matter replication, but are among the most significant.
Obtaining a replicator is easy in some civilizations and difficult in others. Societies that have abandoned the concept of wealth
accumulation might make replicators easily available, while societies that tightly monitor replicator technology may not make them available to the public at all. Depending on the setting, replicators may be either abundant and cheap or rare and expensive. The GM determines what role matter replication takes in a society and how readily replicators can be found.
One source of matter replication is reminiscent of the ancient technique k nown as alchemy. Replicators that rely on alchemy as their primary means of producing new objects transform one element into another to create the final object. These replicators require a basic object to transform; in most cases, the object to transform must have the same mass as the desired object. This type of replication relies heavily on the science of cold fusion and the ability to alter the most basic building blocks of matter. This form of replication is one of the earliest discovered and requires the most effort to function.
FROM A LUMP OF CLAY . . .
Another type of matter replication transforms a substance known as protomatter into the desired object. In many respects, protomatter resembles the basic shapechanging nanocolony known as UFog (see above) because it can be transformed into almost any object. Protomatter is a generic base from which all other matter is replicated; it can be transformed and molded as the replicator's computer system sees fit with no need to transform one element into another. The use of protomatter is one of the most efficient forms of matter replication and has the beneficial side effect of being environmentally safe.
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