1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Valuable futuristic 'item' ideas

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by OurJud, Sep 1, 2017.

    Sorry for the thread typo - major brain fart there.

    I have a very basic premise for my latest project; protag pursued by antag(s) because he is in possession of something very valuable.

    I'm looking for an item that is not only very much sought after, but one that could deepen/drive the plot because of what it does/its properties, etc. An example would be the perpetual battery from the Tom Cruise film Night and Day.

    Bare in mind this will have a futuristic (earth) setting so we're only limited by our imaginations.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    How about a book about (blank) that will help the protag achieve (blank) while royally screwing the antags unless they get it first?

    Knowledge is power, bruh.
     
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  3. Surcruxum

    Surcruxum Member

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    How about a box that contains different items each time it is opened?
     
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  4. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    @Homer Potvin - A Book of Eli kind of thing? It's an okay idea but already done and not quite as 'futuristic' as I'd like.

    @Surcruxum - I'm not really feeling that one. I can't really picture or imagine the concept.
     
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you need to come up with more of a plot - you want an item that drives the plot, but you don't have a plot. Once you have one, you can design an item suited to it, rather than the other way around. You want an item to inspire the plot but you have no item.

    Off the top of my head, how about something that could replicate DNA? Or something that can track someone's "footprint" in the way of the chemicals and fibres they leave behind - which means the hero needs it to identify some criminal or find a missing person, and the antags want it because they don't want the protag to find the person.

    Maybe the antag is the missing person who doesn't want to be found... eg. the protag is trying to find person A, and it turns out the antag who's been trying to stop the protag and missing person A are the same person.
     
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  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Never saw it. Been done a in a few other things too but don't let that dissuade you. Effective gags, gimmicks, and driving engines never go out of style provided that you frame them a bit differently.
     
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  7. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    At the moment you have a premise that is incredibly basic, and I can name three dozen stories off the top of my head that fit the bill. Come up with the item first, and then do the plot, not the other way round, otherwise, your item will not interact with the plot and it might as well be a lamp.
     
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  8. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    A lamp... now you're talking.

    Seriously, though, I see your point. I'm thinking some kind of new designer drug may fit the bill.
     
  9. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Still struggling with this.

    I've now settled on the idea of a new designer drug, but I'm having difficulty brain-storming a couple of things; A, what the drug 'does'. And B, what's so unique about it that more can't simply be produced?

    @Mckk - very sorry, only just noticed your post. No idea how I missed it first time round. Both your ideas are good food for thought, thanks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  10. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Either the ingredient needed for the drug is very expensive or difficult to obtain and so more cannot be easily produced, or perhaps the drug recipe has been lost. However, in that case, the specific drug's ingredients and/or drug recipe may be the more valuable thing than the actual drug. Or perhaps the recipe has already been lost and this was the last of the drug in existence, and the characters need to keep the drug in order to do tests on it so as to work out its recipe.

    What the drug does - here you can use your imagination. Perhaps one that gives hallucinations but that also shows you glimpses into the future? ;) But of course, the trick is telling the hallucinations and the actual premonitions apart.

    Alternatively, maybe it lets you read someone's mind, or allows you to solve any puzzle in existence (but then this puzzle would obviously need to be part of the plot). Maybe it allows someone to escape death once. Maybe it lets someone breathe underwater (but then going under water would need to be part of the plot).

    You need more of a plot ;)
     
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  11. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Some wonderful ammo there, @Mckk, thank you.

    And yes, I'm slowly weaving a more complex plot.
     
  12. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I've advanced the story somewhat, but have now reached the part where this 'thing' needs to be revealed and I'm still having great difficulty brain-storming it.

    I don't want it to seem like I'm casually dismissing the ideas so far, but none of them fully meet the new criteria.

    This 'something' (tech, drugs, whatever) needs to meet the following:

    • This is not fantasy. I like my visions of the future to be based in fact, so while this 'something' may do something incredibly imaginative, I need it to have an air of plausibility.

    • Valuable, not necessarily in a monetary sense, but in as much as the story's baddie is determined to own it because it will bring him power/wealth/etc.

    • I need a reason why its inventor is reluctant to let anyone have it. The government would pay handsomely for something like this, so why doesn't he just take it to them?

    • I want this 'something' to play a part in the story. Maybe it winds up spelling the demise of the baddie, helps the goodie escape, saves mankind.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  13. Eversor

    Eversor New Member

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    A rocket engine that runs on particles and photons.

    They are working on this irl as we speak.

    It makes space travel safe, cheap, longer lasting. You can use it to power missile satellites that the baddie has access to but he wants to take things to the next level with the new tech. Maybe build a fleet that can move from space colony to space colony in a quarter of the time it normally takes. Going for the blitzkrieg strategy of conquest.

    The inventor is a mad hermit that hates how decadent society has become and believes that if he comes forward with his invention he will be killed or taken advantage of.

    Thats my ideas on it anyway lol.
     
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  14. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    @Eversor - thank you for taking the time. The hermit scientist idea is very inviting and could well be the answer on that front.

    However, the other stuff is a bit 'James Bond' for my tastes, and also too related to space. My sci-fi / futuristic tastes are not for the spacey-wacey stuff. This is earth bound and I want to keep the outer space element out of it.

    I'm currently working on something that may be the answer, but please feel free to still throw your thought in.
     
  15. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    There are a number of different directions that you can go with this. While the exact form of the object will be determined by the plot the rationale for it's value could come from a few different things.

    Firstly, it could valuable because it cannot be artificially created. Regardless of how good your science is, there is no possible industrial process that can create this thing. Examples of this would be Spice from Dune, or Latinum from Star Trek. Both of these have high value because it cannot be replicated or made in a lab, both of them are things that can be harvested from nature but not from anywhere else and even then only in specific places. While Spice has more specific inherent value (enabling space travel and extending the length of your life) than Latinum, both are valuable for the same reasons; because no matter how much you might want it or how much you might be able to pay, there simply may not be a source for it. If it's something that comes from an obscure plant and is the ingredient for the elixir of life, then that would obviously be something the bad guys would go to extreme ends to get. The actual use itself doesn't matter, simply being the only compound that can do X and that there is an extremely limited supply of then that will work fine. The fact that your guy has some of it also implies he might know where to get more.

    Secondly; (as a variation of the first one) it could be something that can be artificially created but where the natural version is vastly more valued, like diamonds, or where creating it artificially is very slow or extremely expensive or the artificial version is massively less effective. In this version it might be something where the natural sources were thought to be completely depleted and only the artificial version was possible, so the real stuff showing up would clearly be a big deal. It might also come with the promise that if you can get your hands on the real stuff then maybe you can make a better artificial version. That would be nice because then the people chasing him don't have to be explicitly bad, there are reasons why good people might want it to, and that's interesting to play with in the plot. If the guy with this stuff won't even let it be used to make the world a better place (say to make a vaccine or medicine) then that says something about him, that his goal for it must be something huge.

    Thirdly; it's value could be the information inside it. This could be the plans for a fusion reactor or an anti-matter bomb or something, but the value is not in the item itself. It could be a very mundane item, or indeed extremely ornate, but even if it's made from platinum the value is not the materials, it in what has been put in it. Again, you can choose whatever technology might fit, and again you can give it both positive and negative uses, but this also gives you the opportunity to play with the item itself. The guy could be carrying this magic golden box that maybe people notice and lust after because the box itself seems so valuable, and then we slowly find out it's not some expensive bauble, it's something much more valuable. That would give you the opportunity also to have the people chasing him not even know what is in the box itself as well as allowing for the bearer to be unexpectedly strongly attached to keeping it. So someone tries to take this memory stick off him and the audience don't see it as a big deal but then the guy flips out and starts killing people to get it back. And then there's the possibility that your character could have this box as a decoy and the information is in his head.

    Fourth; it's value could be because of it's history or provenance. It could be an item of historic significance that maybe has the promise of some ancient wisdom (or similar). So, in modern terms it could be the secret diary of Leonardo Da Vinci that could just be of fabulous historical value to understand him, but it could also contain amazing scientific truths, or it might offer a guide to cracking the code of others of his works to lead to something more inherently important.

    Fifth; it could be something of political value; it could be proof. It could be something that proves who killed the president or a secret recording of the illuminati's secret meetings deciding who will rule the world. It would be something that, if it became public, would radically change the established history of that world, with governments falling and borders redrawn. Think if in say 1964 there came to light absolute iron clad proof that JFK had been assassinated by the Soviets, or if the Watergate tapes had included discussions of murdering their opponents. If this world has a bit of 1984 about it then it might simply be a true history book, detailing how the bad guys took power and if the people find out then there's going to be a revolution.

    Sixth, it could be valuable because it's a subversive idea. It could be anything really; but some philosophy that the bad guys can see would be infectious and would swing the whole world away from their control. It could be a manifesto exhorting the people to fight the power and be free and escape their chains, or it could be a religious revelation perhaps (depending on what you want in the setting) or it could be anything really; but something that could spark a movement and challenge the prevailing order.

    Finally; it could be something that challenges our perceptions of the world. So it could be a device (or instructions of how to make one) that could enable us to communicate with alien races that we haven't even met before. It would prove that aliens exist and immediately give us a way to get out among the starts. An example here would be the Stargate in Stargate. The fact that it exists means that we have to rethink what we thought we knew about the universe that we live in. And whoever owns this device has massive power to determine how we go out there among the stars. I like this one because it would mean that you have your guy who is a decent human being and believes that he needs to do it; that it has to be the people of earth who speak to the universe, not some company or some government. No matter how good the motives of the people chasing him might be, he won't trust them to act in the good of the whole planet. This would let you have the people chasing him think of themselves as the good guys and have good motives, but a different philosophical view. Perhaps the people chasing him want to be very conservative and keep the device hidden and use whatever they learn from the aliens without telling everyone where they got it from. And your hero firmly believes that the people must know the truth and that gives you essentially two good guys in conflict which is much more interesting.

    So that's just what I came up with off the top of my head. Hopefully one of these tipples your fancy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
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  16. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I wish I possessed some of your imagination, @LostThePlot.

    While waiting for inspiration, I brain-stormed with a friend, and between us we came up with a potential idea.

    Your own ideas, though, have now got me questioning the importance (or more to the point unimportance) of the device's function.

    I also fancy your idea of ditching the cliched good guy/bad guy formula.

    Plotting sucks!
     
  17. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I await your cheque in the mail :)

    On the subject of an item's unimportance; you could always invert it totally and have the bad guys chasing after something that is utterly worthless, a myth created by the good guys to sucker them in, think of something like Red Mercury. That would make your hero into someone who knows that this job is totally thankless and with no purpose at all except to make the bad guys chase him and likely will result in his death. That's a really interesting kind of hero; chosen because he was someone the cause could afford to lose. He might be someone who knows that he's a bit of a coward and that he isn't a warrior but his one great strength is that he's utterly desperate not to let his friends down. Perhaps he was someone who can lie well and spin a good story who maybe doesn't think much of himself but if he's caught he can lie convincingly and keep the idea going that this is something that matters. He's fighting against himself as much as the bad guys, terrified but the one thing that he can't let himself do is give up. And he can grow from there into whatever way you want; he could develop into a traditional hero who's fighting the bad guys or he could become bitter and jaded at all of this, whatever you want. But if what he's carrying has no value, and he knows that, that's a really cool kind of hero who is sacrificing himself and is selfless and stoic and incredibly personally strong even though he's showing that in a completely different way than you expect heroes to do so.
     
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