RopeCon Scenario Competition 2016 – Chaos & Order

That time of the year, although at this point, I’m actually pretty late with this post. I’ve been busy despite being unemployed (actually time management seems to be a skill I quickly forgot), so I’m doing this pretty much at the last possible hour.

Gladly, today was the deadline only for a preliminary version, so I’m still okay, and gladly I had put some thought into this beforehand.

So, the theme for this year is Chaos & Order. These are often seen as opposites in fiction, but in reality, they often aren’t. Chaos often simply leads into order and too much order often means that when the order fails, the ensuing chaos is just that much worse.

Let’s take a look at the former first. Fractals are often seen as a pretty basic example of chaos. They look like a bunch of random forms, but in actuality, when you zoom in, you see that the same patterns just repeat themselves at different scales.

Mandelbrot_zoom

So, order and chaos are pretty related. Not enough? Take a look at your hand. Do you know how cells find their places? Randomly. Yes. Obviously, there are “rules” to it, but its basically a random process, which just happens to lead to very sophisticated tool, such as our hands, which are right now (as of this writing) enabling me to punch these little keys in quick succession, but at other times I can use them to lift things, pry things apart and what lots of other things. And how did they become so sophisticated? Through evolution, which in itself is very random (and thus chaotic), but still leads to something as great as that hand (never mind brains).

On the other hand, too much order can become chaotic as well. Not necessarily chaotic in the scientific sense, but still situations, you’d look at and think are chaotic. For example, lets take a car. A car has headlights, so you feel safer when you drive in the dark. It also has seatbelts, which again make you feel safer. It has airbags and all sorts of impact absorbers. This kind of feeling of safety leads to taking more risks, meaning that there’s more energy in the system. When that energy finds a way to discharge, the end result is catastrophic.

Don’t take this to mean you shouldn’t take all those safety precautions. They do save a lot of lives, but when the systems fails, it does so in a spectacular way.

The real problem here is that these are components of most scenarios already, in one form or another. The characters will try to bring order to chaos by trying to move the situation in a certain direction. They will sometimes overreach and then fail spectacularly, when they can no longer contain the energy in the system.

So, what am I doing this year? I think I’ll go with having a system, that fails. One the attributes of chaos in certain systems is that even a slight change can affect he result immensely. For example, take a random number between zero and one. I have one with six digits. Then change the number slightly to get another number. I subtracted one millionth from it. Then double them and if the result is more than one, subtract one. Repeat until you can show the point. Here’s one:

0.389938 0.389936
0.779876 0.779872
0.559752 0.559744
0.119504 0.119488
0.239008 0.238976
0.478016 0.477952
0.956032 0.955904
0.912064 0.911808
0.824128 0.823616
0.648256 0.647232
0.296512 0.294464
0.593024 0.588928
0.186048 0.177856
0.372096 0.355712
0.744192 0.711424
0.488384 0.422848
0.976768 0.845696
0.953536 0.691392
0.907072 0.382784
0.814144 0.765568

Around the seventeenth time row, the two numbers begin to diverge wildly. Remember, the difference was only one millionth in the beginning, but steadily it increased. Think two billiard balls with just a slight difference in the direction. It want take long until their paths are very divergent.

I think this is my approach. Something went slightly wrong and after a bit of time, the whole system came crashing down. Whatever that system is. Since we’re over the first deadline, I might as well tell you what the system is. I’m thinking railroad system. You know those delays that seem to happen all the time? Well, you do, if you live in Finland. Those are often caused by something completely unrelated to the train you are taking, but since the rails are a very limited resource, a problem in some point of the system can cause problems to the whole system.

I don’t really know how I’ll do this yet, but I have some ideas (since I had to return a rough draft already), so I hope I can get it to work.

Well… that was… different.

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