Most of it! Phones and tablets are fine (and can be used to physrep Science Devices if you like). The Internet is obviously not IC if you access it, but the Galactipedia section of this wiki is an IC resource - we'd recommend using a website downloader/offline web viewer to download the wiki if you want to look up things at events, since it will save battery and data allowance (although we will have tablets with offline wiki copies integrated into the charging stations in each Faction camp). Note that you are responsible for your own stuff if you bring it to events.
There are a few restrictions on certain bits of tech, mostly for OOC game logistics reasons.
Under normal circumstances, this is not possible - to maintain game consistency and the identity of the Factions we would prefer that players were not able to do this spontaneously or on a whim. However, if an OOC factor is causing difficulty in continuing to play your character, then please let us know and we may be able to engineer things to help in a way that makes sense in the world. For example, if you played a character who required a makeup or latex prosthetics to physrep, and then became allergic to those things (but still wanted to play your same character), then we could arrange for an alien virus that alters your character's genetics or similar. Or maybe you have invested heavily in combat skills and now have to be a non-combatant - we could create a mind probe artefact that replaces some of your skills with something else. Contact the game team and we will try and arrange a mutually agreeable solution.
On a somewhat different note - if we make a significant change to the rules for a skill or ability that you have, you have the option to swap it out with something else at the next event you attend.
Big. Very, very, very big.
The Orion Sphere, where the game takes place, is roughly 5000 light-years in diameter. Although this region is only a tiny part of the Milky Way Galaxy, it contains over 600 million stars. The vast majority of these stars have multiple planets orbiting them, and enough of those planets are capable of supporting life, but most of them will be empty of anything interesting. The Ascendancy alone holds sway over somewhere in the region of 1500 colonies and systems, so there are a huge number of possible locations for player characters to visit as the game continues. This scale is an intended part of the design, as it allows a lot of new and interesting things to be discovered and have conflicts over going forward, even in each Faction's backyards.
No - or at least not to the point of inducing the Singularity. Current tech is able to produce a reasoning AI equivalent to a 5-year old human child, and even that requires vast amounts of learnt material and programmed-in behavioural cues, so it is not emergent intelligence. Computing is good at performing pre-set tasks, and many computers can be programmed for extremely broad applications so that they seem to possess true intelligence, but are in truth just well-designed. While AI's have proved excellent at finding patterns, crunching large amounts of data and similar “heavy” tasks, it has so far proven nigh-impossible to develop a truly creative AI. Artefact examples of advanced generalised AI may exist, and alien or precursor examples could also be found, but these are rare plot elements rather than a key part of the setting.
Energy Fields and modern armour basically make bullets useless. Energy fields work to dissipate incoming force over the entire area of the field, and bullets are good at directing large amounts of force to a very tiny point. Once that force is distributed over the entire area of a field, it barely impacts the field at all. Similarly, armour is made from advanced composites and is very good at protecting against small piercing objects. Energy weapons deliver massive amounts of heat energy that can overload fields and burn holes in armour. Melee weapons have a range of means to get around the defences of energy fields and advanced armour materials - some use capacitors that deliver a burst of energy with each strike, others use special materials or incorporate vibrating mechanisms, or momentum enhancers.
In addition to all of this, bullets are a pain. They have mass, so you have to haul all of that ammo around everywhere and get it into space and back down again. They have to be manufactured individually, so in order to make more you need to have a functioning economy to mine metals and propellants and manufacture them into a usable bullet rather than just plugging some energy packs into a solar charger or similar - the supply chain to make them just isn’t there on many worlds.
No. Although the vast majority of language and text will be physrepped by English in-game, in the reality of the setting there are innumerable languages and bizarre alien scripts. However, near-instant translation technology is ubiquitous and cheap, and language algorithms can typically decode a new language in a matter of hours (as long as it has a sufficient base to work with) and then easily translate it to what player characters can understand (English). However, no translation is able to perfectly convey the full meaning of every word, so some terms (often insults and exclamations) may not be translated - you can create your own bizarre alien expletives if you like. This translation tech is considered to be below the abstraction layer of the game, and players can assume that translation technology is integrated into their kit somehow. If you want to physrep a separate translation device for your character, then please feel free.
Player Characters may encounter languages that have not been encountered before, in which case they will need to find enough of a text or speech base to work with before they can be translated into something they can understand. In addition, ciphered or encoded text or speech, or particularly bizarre or ancient languages may be beyond the capabilities of the translation algorithms.
It turns out that the heliopause boundary (where the solar wind meets interstellar space) acts as a scattering barrier for broad radio signals. After this point they scatter into the galactic background radio noise. Only powerful, directed radio signals are able to maintain coherency through this barrier.
Ironically, a directed alien radio signal did pass through Sol system in 28PT, but the post-collapse enclaves scattered about the system at the time were extremely paranoid and communicating entirely in encrypted short-beam bursts. The message was intercepted for later decrypting, and when no-one could make sense of it within a human context, it was archived and eventually deleted.
Nanotechnology and nanobots do exist, but it is usually highly specialised to a task. There is no “do-anything nanites” or Replicators - the main difficulty is that producing nano-scale computing and networking is very difficult, expensive, and requires some vary rare elements to work. So basically, you have to have a macro-scale device to do the computing for them, and even if they had commands to institute a Grey Goo scenario, they would never be able to find enough rare elements to threaten anything other than a rare elements mine.
Organic nanotech - also known as tailored bacteria and viruses - do exist, but again, they generally do the thing they were designed for and not much else - although they can mutate.
Although Lazarus Corporation's Rebirth Process can literally recreate a dead person's body and imprint their mind into it, it still relies on retaining tissue samples that suffer telomere degradation at roughly equivalent rates to nature. Lifespans have been significantly extended due to advances in medicine, diet, etc, but eventually a body's cells just stop replicating effectively, and errors and breakdowns occur. Many of the cancers or other life-ending conditions that humans suffer from have pretty reliable cures, but there are still many effects of aging that no amount of future science can prevent or indefinitely delay.
Similarly, although medicine has made great strides, some conditions are not curable or treatable in any more effective means than what we have today. The galaxy is vast, and full of terrible things - new diseases, bizarre artefacts and strange energies that characters might encounter could be a source of long-term injury or disability that is impossible for even advanced future medicine to cure. And while expensive cybernetics can replace lost or dysfunctional limbs and organs, the process of linking new implants to their user's nervous system is fraught with difficulty and potential errors, and in some cases can even create new problems due to failed neurological interactions.
Players are free to incorporate these sorts of elements into their character's background if they choose to, but are not obliged to explain anything if they don't want to either.
Although there are precursor ruins that have been found on many worlds, there is no current evidence for highly advanced “ancients” or similar. No-one knows why. Archaeologists have theorised that sophont civilisations come in “waves” - although it is unknown exactly what ended the previous waves. Worrying.
It is very unlikely - the earliest wave of sleeper colony vessels departed Terra in significant numbers and at the behest of many governments and organisations - records of many of them, and where they were going, did not survive the fall of Terra. As a result, there are human colonies scattered across the stars that have never been found or reconnected to the rest of modern civilisation. These sleeper ships were a desperate attempt to spread beyond a single solar system, a forlorn hope that humanity could survive the death of its origin world. In the turbulent period around Terra's ecological collapse, even the most unlikely candidate solar systems saw ships leave Sol for them, regardless of distance and likely habitability. Many of the sleeper vessels continue to travel, and are out in the void of deep space, their frozen cargo thousands of years old, ready to reach a habitable planet and set down. Some sleeper vessels were designed to land on planets and become cannibalised for parts, but others were modular - built to eject individual rafts of a thousand colonists and the supplies they need, while the main ship carried on in search of other habitable worlds.
The fastest sleeper ships travel at about 0.7c, and at that speed, could have covered about 2800 light-years since the initial waves left Terra. Similarly, clusters of terraforming probes built by the precursors of the Ascendancy were launched at almost every system where the presence of carbon was identified. These fully automated clusters could reach speeds of about 0.95c, and could theoretically have travelled over 3500 light-years from the Sol system.