When it comes to RPG, our future hasn´t changed much by now. A lot of settings that used to depict vehicles with an internal combustion engine as the common standard for civilian vehicles still do. Back in the real world, “e-cars” try to conquer the market once more and in some countries (like Germany, my home country) there are at least half-hearted attempts to support this. What I don´t want to do with this post is to start a discussion about (or: write an assay over) the real-life usability of e-cars. The pros and cons of the current state of the art and all the relating sub-topics are already discussed in enough of other places in the world-wide-web. My blog is about RPG, and so I want to provide some ideas and changes of world-concepts for different game settings and different genres. All on a strict “what if…” basis
[Electric engines and the hives of DarkHeresy™]
DH is a very strange breed when it comes to technology. While there are laser weapons and force screens, spaceship-to-spaceship ordnance is still loaded by manpower and hoists. Technology is a freaky thing that is not understood and what is available changes from world to world an place to place, depending on the access to the fabrication patterns that are guarded and distributed by the Adeptus Mechanicus. But what if e-cars that would be at least equivalent to our current technology would be available per se?
Their patterns would be a much thought for commodity by the different hives of the different hive worlds! When you put a lot of people into an completely enclosed environment and expect them to basically life there for any amount of time, ventilation and air-filtering becomes a very important topic. Any additional “taint” to the air is an additional problem that needs to be dealt with, twice as much if a prominent smell comes with it. While the 40K universe is not a world where leaders are concerned with the well-being of their populace, they are usually concerned about keeping enough of them alive that the industrial output is not interfered with. Tithe needs to be paid and woe to the world that falls short in regard to the tribute to Terra. So while 40k-lore still shows us a lot of diesel engines and macro-vehicles belching clouds of thick smoke, the smaller “utility cars” in a hive could very well be changed into electric models. If there is one place in 40k that would be able to provide a web of charge stations, it would be a 40k hive (at least in the upper sections). After all, if all the servitors can skull-drones and las-weapons can be charged, the batteries of the e-car should be too. While the dredges may life in stink and filth and bad air, the upper half of the hive might not want to have any of it. In the spires, hover-skimmers are already the rule of the day, but tone section below that e-cars could be it. After all, fossil fuel would need to be imported, the hive worlds being as depleted of natural resources as they always claim to be.
[E-cars and cyberpunk]
Cyberpunk tends to happen “in the near future”, and this near future could very well feature e-cars for an urban environment. Especially the “slaves to the wage” (Sarariman) that don´t happen to leave their town, city or megaplex section often could drive around in compact cars with e-engines that are leased from “the company” as part of their salary. And all this “linking into the power grid” all the time is sooo convenient… for the police state (or the corp equivalent). Cash is gone, payment is electronic, at least if you earn your money legally. If you want to ambush somebody you need to “extract”, you can ambush him at the next recharge-station once you know his daily routes. He will stop by, if not today then perhaps the over-next day. Patience pays out.
If live is centered on the urban world and around the company you work for, those driving cars with an IEC might start to raise the same attention as people in outlaw-ish biker clothes do today. After all… why do they spend their money onto a car with a fuel engine? What do they need the non-stop range for, if it isn´t to stay of the radar and to make sure they can hit the road quick and for a longer ride, leaving town on short notice? Their cannot be a honest reason to it, not with the guys looking as common as they do. They are not corporate excecs for sure. Perhaps they are modern nomads, and those are all do-no-goods, aren´t they?
[E-cars and the post-apocalypse]
The classic post-a road warriors ride high-powered muscle cars since the 80s. The engines ROAR and they f***ing have to. Unless that they don´t. Perhaps the shortage of fuel was not the reason for the end of society, but something else. And, lets face it, fuel isn´t staying “good” forever. So, how about e-cars in the post-a? First and foremost, if the world “before the end” did not featured automatic power plants, safe mini-reactors or ultra-long-life batteries, e-cars won´t help you a bit in the post-a. When civilization is gone, nobody will run large power plants. Full stop. Solar panels go a long way, but even if those got better they will provide enough power to drive a “battlecar” or even something sturdy. But then again…. Wind generators will provide energy now and then, and will do so till the mechanic parts fail the test of time…which could take a while. Wind generators are grouped in wind parks at times or they are “dotting” the landscape not too far from another. Driving around in an e-vehicle, using wind generators could be incorporated into a setting, perhaps with small settlements having evolved around those generators and generator parks, just like cities with a harbor grew in time, according to the trade that sea travel brought along.
Just a bit of food for thought and imagination.