This is all pulled from some space opera setting notes from about 2010-2015. A rather sizable chunk was devoted to all the alien species (which I am rather proud of) but for now I will be leaving those guys out so as to fit the rest within what I have already written for Mothership.
Gazetteer part 1, and Gazetteer part 2.
I've cleaned up the writing and done some other small tweaks and additions, (mostly to fill out things that never got written, cutting out the really stupid stuff, and just making pre-existing ideas more interesting.)
The Celestial BureaucracyIt's impossible to tell what sort of organization all the vast, posthuman intelligences have among themselves. Surely there must be some forms of compromise and conflict, for they form a myriad of distinct parties, but overall they are observed to be slow, stable, and methodical. An appropriate title.
The Colonial Trade AllianceA collective of 455 hypercorporations (and thousands of subordinate companies) tied together through trade deals and treaty agreements. It is the primary power in the Core and along the Celestial Road, and has been reaching outward past the Margin into the Periphery.
Regions of Human SpaceSpace maps are tricky because they are not evenly distributed. They are sets of lines and points, stretching out in irregular fashion. Wealthy trade routes might bypass dozens of stars, leaving worlds closer in distance relatively isolated in practice.
- Core - Generalized term for worlds within 50 light years of Earth, but more often used to mean "worlds within 50 light years of Earth _that are socially and economically important_."
- The Margin - The 50 LY "border" between the Core and outlying regions. Not nearly as hard and fast a boundary as political theorists like to think it is.
- The Backwaters - Stellar in-fill. Worlds in the Core settled far later than their neighbors, usually impoverished or with less stable hyperspace routes. The frontier next door.
- The Periphery - Worlds beyond the Margin that are not part of the Celestial Road.
- Celestial Road - Worlds found along the stable hyperspace routes found or laid by the Celestials in their migrations into the greater galaxy. There is no single road, bu tthe system is referred to as a unified route.
- Heavenly Veil - The strip of stars bordering any given Celestial territory, usually containing the easiest means of entry and egress. Stellar DMZs, in essence.
- Tiān - Territory controlled by the Celestials. Referred to in the collective, regardless of the territory's size, scope, or contents.
Regarding AIThe Celestials keep a sharp eye out for any intelligence that might serve as competition, so AI development is a careful thing. Nearly all AI are classes 0-3.
- AI-0: Basic operating systems and algorithms.
- AI-1: A robot with limited or no autonomy in behavior.
- AI-2: Basic adaptability up through animal level intelligence.
- AI-3: Advanced adaptability and learning capabilities. Androids.
- AI-4: Advanced intelligence, adaptability, and learning. Far beyond human capabilities.
- AI-5: A planetary intelligence. For safety purposes self-improvement and learning capabilities are severely curtailed: this has the unfortunate side effect of leading to most Algorithm Wars.
Information NetworksWith interstellar communication limited to powerful radio and fast ships, each system has its own methods and regulations on communication. Most corporate networks charge a subscription fee and limit users to a profile tied to their ID, and heavily regulate content. Open networks charge no subscription fee, though the approaches to privacy, anonymity, and regulation vary between localities.
The Hidebehind LudditesA social movement built on the foundation that high technology is to be used sparingly and with great caution, to avoid attracting undue attention from the Celestials or any other powers that might be lurking out there. They are more than willing to use worlds with no such qualms as distractions or shields if the need arises (hence hiding behind).
Contract of the SpheresA compact never written down but innately understood, dictating the relationship between humanity and the Celestials. In short: one warning to trespassers, none to rivals, if we have not claimed this place already, it is yours.
Mei Lan Kun and the White SeaThe greatest competition to the CTA is a string of worlds along the road owned by the excessively wealthy Mei Lan Kun. She is a shrewd and efficient totalitarian, worrying the CTA greatly with her disregard for any sort of internal bureaucracy. She'll fuck you up real hard.
- Alexandria – A hydrogen-helium gas giant with 56 moons, home to a failed attempt at a universal library. Several moons were converted either fully or partially into data storage hubs, but worries about Celestial interference, a lack of funding, and several wars over data formatting have stripped the project down to merely sustaining its archives, rather than expanding.
- Al-Wadabi – A young world, with only small with small island chains breaking the global ocean. Despite its low landmass, the planet’s mineral wealth is significant. The first colonial attempt was abandoned due to seismic activity, and then resumed eighty years later.
- Arkham – A damp, dark world, home to several disturbing sects of Celestial worshiper and bizarre modlife. Several platoons of CTA marines are kept in rotation in orbit, just in case.
- Backwash – A dry, tidally-locked world with some native life, Backwash is located beyond the Wuxin-Rabin Gate, and is as such the furthest permanently settled world from Earth that is still aligned with the CTA. It is nearly entirely surrounded by the Celestial Veil, making further exploration of the region near impossible.
- Bai Hei – One of the wealthiest planets unaffiliated with the CTA. Personally owned by magnate Mei Lan Kun and capital of her interplanetary empire. Named after the color of its oceans, which are a pearlescent white due to the exotic composition of both the water and the native algae. It’s the height of luxury, so long as one stays indoors: the atmosphere will kill within moments.
- Barret – A frigid rust belt world. A place for people without anywhere else to go. Not much there beyond mining and industry that's swiftly losing buyers to worlds closer to the Road.
- Belkirk – Easily the wealthiest and most powerful of the Periphery, the local Companies have yet to break into the big time. CTA mainstays are not fond of Belkirk's nouveau riche elites, especially their resistance to outside corporate manipulation.
- Commune – A warm, bright world bustling with exotic native life. Crown jewel of the luddite-anarchist movement. Protected from Company predation through fleets of ex-corporate marine legions (The Blackened Ships) who are extended the social benefits.
- Daranboa – A miserable swampy hellhole. The temperature and humidity are nigh-on unbearable in the habitable regions, and it is chock-full of dangerous wildlife, both poisonous and predatory.
- Demeter – Specializes in mass production of exotic foodstuffs. Most of the planet and its orbital space is dedicated to food production, which has led to the entire planet teetering on ecological collapse due to weakening soil and genetically weak monocultures.
- Eorðan – A chilly world that has yet to evolve anything past moss-like colonial organisms, which have taken over most of the extant land masses.
- Erosset – Home of the Hedons, this world was cordoned off by its overseer AI, Mellifluous Didactism, and used as a sort of social experiment. The climate is artificially mild, with a mind-bending array of hallucinogenic substances in the environment.
- Gansuzho – Secondary capital of Mei Lan Kun’s empire, home of some notable Celestial ruins. The White Sea Cartel purposely keeps several large urban areas in disrepair, so as to foster militant support as needed.
- Gilgamesh / Enkidu – A primarily desert planet, with no natural life. Heavy metal content in the water makes most of it undrinkable, and exotic element deposits make it a prime CTA target. Its moon, Enkidu, is honeycombed with habitats and spaceports.
- Ham – A nondescript rocky world. Notable for the presence of full copies of the Human Spaceflight Museum as well as the Borderworld Guard memorial.
- Hohenhiem – The home of nano-alchemy and full of more esoteric naff than one can comprehend. They're all nutters, all of them.
- Ibon – A luddite world with a biosphere so hostile that the primary export is reality TV and nature programs, traded to several Companies for basic goods.
- Iota Undine - Oceanic world lacking the tectonic activity to raise land. Continent-sized coral reefs flourish with appropriate biodiversity. Popular home site for uplifted dolphins and whales.
- Jackson’s Hub – A rocky, tidally locked super-earth, notable for two facts: first, that its system contains more than three hundred jump gates. Secondly, Celestial ruins dot the surface.
- Khenoon – A beautiful, peaceful desert world. The current land of milk and honey dreamt of by the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
- Malaba – While this world is temperate and fertile, colonization was a disaster of epic proportions. The luddite expedition was under-equipped and under-funded to begin with, compounded further by incompatible biochemistry, low metal resources, and incompetent overseers, and devolved into competing feudal realms within seventy years.
- Marathon – A major trade hub and shipyard on the Road.
- New Constantinople - It's not Istanbul, but [entry missing].
- New Peligrassa – A young world of volcanic islands, rising continents, and shallow seas. An open and well-visited port for all types, and of surprisingly friendly repute.
- Parson – A young, energetic planet with a methane atmosphere, much like early Earth. Its domed cities are the birthplace of an aggressive eugenics movement.
- Patagon – A Celestial incursion killed off 85% of the population (1.4 billion) with surgical precision in the space of nine hours. No explanation has been found in the following ten years, and reconstruction efforts are stymied by the lurking presence of a Celestial dreadnaut in the system's asteroid belt. It had been considered an up and coming member of the Periphery worlds, and has retained its bountiful terraformation.
- Peregrine – A harsh world orbiting a dim, red sun. The thick atmosphere keeps temperatures above freezing through greenhouse effect. Isolation and the hostile environment led to colony collapse, with bands of cannibal survivors scraping out an existence in the few habitable regions.
- Race – Named so due to its manner of colonization. A scummy place with a weak, artificial biosphere. Those colony ships that lost the contest were installed as orbital habitats, and are treated as second-class citizen despite having a higher quality of life than the surface.
- Reuben – A banking and economic hub for a large section of the Celestial Way.
- Sapphire Sands - A sort of grand social experiment, where through genetic and memetic engineering the culture has achieved a tangled relationship web of eight sexes and thirty-two genders, all encoded in laws dictating taboos, responsibilities, and methods of transferring station.
- Segoson – Nomadic luddite settlers make yearly migrations up and down the primary continent to avoid the worst excesses of the extreme seasons.
- Shithole – While those unfamiliar with the etymology with pronounce it Shih-thole, the world truly lives up to its name. With a hostile environment and hostile native life, it’s a hard life. Terraforming attempts have all failed, though the equipment still remains on the world.
- Skykeep – A placid gas giant with tens of thousands of floating islands suspended in the upper atmosphere above an oceanic core. Celestial megastructures, long abandoned, can be seen further corewards.
- Taryat – A frozen low gravity rock. Home to several species of furred xeno-echinoderms of reasonable intelligence. Humanity has little interest in it outside of xenologists.
- Utopos – A major luddite world with an idyllic artificial environment and a totalitarian Babbage Government.
- Victoria – Cold and dry, with most settlements found in the temperate band around the equator.
- Warwick – Hot, humid, and watery. Extremely high oxygen content leads to uncomfortable visitors, gigantic insects, and catastrophic firestorms.
- Yggdrasil – A low gravity world famous for its gargantuan trees. It is still a lightly-populated outpost.