Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A Tour of the Solar System

NASA Image Library


Sol - G2V

The sun is a miasma / of incandescent plasma...

Formerly a god. Retains the best claim to the position. Has not forgotten.


  • Sole property of the Mercury Resource Reclaimation Conglomerate (casually referred to as MRRC or MerCon), which has long-term plans to stripmine the planet, hollow it out, and eventually push the shell into Venus orbit, where it will be used to shift that world into a faster rotation.
  • Current habitation is almost entirely mining-related, either in mushroom habs, migratory city-factories, or underground facilities. Most resources are either launched into the inner system via mass drivers or manufactured in orbit as energy collectors.
  • The caves and channels beneath the surface are filled with the broth-creches of the silverworms: neogenic biomechanical that bore through the rock to make it easier to move and export. Their secretions can easily dissolve most metals. 


  • Currently inhabited by a patchwork confederacy of aerostat city-states. Varied government types, but several successful experiments in the creation of Autarchs - individuals invested with total political power, but also the memories and experiences of thousands of different individuals from all walks of life. 
  • Long-term plans for terraforming are underway, including the importation of iceteroids and the construction of sunshades. The aerostat cities are designed to eventually transition into orbitals when the time comes to leave the atmosphere. The proposed future planet is jokingly nicknamed "Bluecifer", and the perpetually optimistic Venusians talk about it like it's already a done deal.
  • Friendlier to anarchists, communalists, and uplifts than the rest of the inner system.
  • Cloud-folk drift between aerostats on chimeric bubble-beasts.


  • The environment is in better shape than it has been in centuries due to concerted reclaimation, but the surface will remain forever out of reach for all but the scions of the wealthiest and oldest Companies.
  • O'Neill clusters sit at all 5 Lagrange points. An orbital belt containing hundreds of habitats held up by 24 space elevators rings the equator.
  • Old Money rules here. While it is still technically the capital of the Inner System, Jupiter is swiftly becoming more important, and the old families don't like that one bit. 
  • Those Terrans seen off-world wear elaborate, all-covering biosuits, used to filter sensory inputs to be pleasing to the hyper-elites and maintain a barrier between the dirt and grim of the outside cosmos.


  • Nearly completely subsumed by the orbital infrastructure of Earth. The old lunar culture of the earliest settlements has been pushed into reservation habitats to make room for the influx of the hyper-wealthy of reclaimed Earth.
  • The fact that Luna successfully achieved independence in the past, only to lose it again without a fight, does not sit well with the native Selenians.


  • Remnants of the original, failed, terraforming dot the surface - shallow, salty comet-water lakes, wide plains of lichen and moss, nanocloud "ghosts", icewater canals, atmosphere factories, and engineered life (distressingly, most of it is both non-sapient and human derived)
  • On top of this are the ruins of the warships and other great engines the Companies fielded in the war for Mars after the collapse of the original colonies.
  • Finally, there's the current para-terraforming effort - craters and valleys are sealed off and pressurized for settlement and the introduction of ecologies. Center of current-day Martian civilization is in the Valles Marinaris. 
  • Some Martians, in a bid to escape the Company, have taken to secret holdouts in the wastelands, living off the two prior ages.
  • While still an economic power, most of the Companies on Mars are those who do not have the prestige to be based out of Earth, nor the ability to carve out a spot in the lucrative Jovian system.
  • This still leaves a brutal corporate oligarchy commanding vast fiefs of indentured serfs, all competing over the currency that permits them to remain alive. It is the single worst place in the system to be if you are poor.

The Belt

  • Thousands and thousands of independent stations, many of which are linked in a loose trade confederacy based on the smart-contracts of the Mutual Cooperation Pact.
  • Some major first-wave Companies are still here, but many have moved the bulk of their operations on to Jupiter and beyond and left behind gaps ready to be filled. Real estate in the Belt is incredibly cheap, if you're okay with buying used.
  • Cultural enclaves and groups found nowhere else in the system thrive here.
  • Absolutely the space Rust-belt - the gold rush is long over.


  • Economic (and de facto political) capital of the solar system, with the planetary capital located on and around Callisto.
  • Primary junction point between inner and outer systems - most traffic will either stop here or use the planet as a gravity slingshot.
  • Every major Company and Union has offices in the Jovian system. This predictably leads to a state of constant political chaos boiling over into open warfare on a regular basis.
  • Government is, by and large, ineffective and corrupt.
  • Europa has been claimed by the Cetacean Nation, which puts them at odds with the preservationists attempting to maintain the alien biosphere within.
  • Will occasionally host a Celestial of House Au, come to check in on the jump gates.
  • Company-Union Conflict made more complicated by the Priests of the Red Eyed All-Father, who possess the lion's share of cultural power and the secrets of the whale-hunts of the tumultuous upper atmosphere.


  •  Most settlements in Saturnian orbit and among its moons are home to Companies specializing in android and AI production, due to the proximity to the Titanian Dataminds. 
  • The peace and quiet is superficial: conflict between AI factions is throughout the datasphere, and they are more than willing to hire flesh-and-blood saboteurs as deniable assets.
  • Several AI data-clades have taken to building the Void Reef, a vacuum-adapted ecosystem built out of the carbon and water of the rings.
  • Ulthar Station, vacation destination and home of thousands of smartcat swarms, orbits Iapetus.


  • Home of the Dataminds, the highest-powered thinking machines permitted by the Celestials.
  • Highest quality uploads, simulations, and cyborging services available in the system.
  • The Dataminds seek a third path for themselves, avoiding both human domination and the wrath of the Celestials. The groundwork is already in place.


  • The primary home of anarchists in the solar system.
  • Have maintained independence by filing as a Company, and taking the legal protections that gives, while reporting a profit of 1 credit per year to maintain license.
  • Habitats called "The Panoply" or "The Zoo" for their eclectic nature - more varied and bizarre even than the aerostats of Venus.


  • Under lockdown by a faction of paranoid militarist milleniarists (The Anointed Temple of Christ, Redeemer and Conqueror), who are preparing for the end of days, wherein Jesus Christ himself will ride into the system on a white spaceship at the head of a massive alien armada to cull the sinful.
  • "The sinful" being everyone else, of course. Don't ask for their opinions of uplifts.

Pluto and the Kupier Belt

  • A tattered mix of isolationists, outlaws, exiles, cultists, metahumans, spacers, migrants, colonists, and other ne'er do wells.
  • Hub for the outer system laser communications network.

Mothership-Specific Locations

The Dead Planet

  • Is actually Earth, tens or hundreds of millions of years in the future. Your jump drive fucked up real bad. Everyone's jump drives have fucked up real bad. Everything is fucked up real bad.

The Skaana

  •  Casino barge. Currently in orbit above Ceres.

Prospero's Dream 

  • Scumhole space station. Currently stationed in the Jovian L5 Trojans.

Tenum Research Station

  •  Somewhere in the Kupier Belt.


  •  Crashed vessel. Asteroid in the L-4 Neptunian trojans

Ypsilon 14

  • Mining facility. Somewhere in the asteroid belt.

Hive Mind  Locations

  • Amaterasu Station - Venusian orbit. Current home of the Imperial Regalia of Japan.
  • Westerfield Station - Autonomous station taken over by Jesse Arthur Davidson and his Church of the Right Redeemer. On a long elliptical orbit towards the Inner System.
  • Weeping Star - Derelict star-fortress hemisphere.
  • Hynd's End - Patchwork tape-and-prayers pirates' haven. Uranus orbit.
  • Alphie's - Android-run pharma lab, home to a hiding unbraked AI. Jovian L4 Greeks.
  • Camelot - Dedicated Arthurian LARP at the Earth-Sol L1 point.
  • Ptacek's Hollow - Mining colony now rented out to Martian elites for slum tourism. Asteroid belt.
  • New Tigris - Primary food production for Venus. Run by Neo-Mesopotamian sect.

Eclipse Phase  Locations

  • Meathab - A space station made out of meat, for art. Station intelligence is a bit of a trickster. Saturnian orbit.
  • Hexagon - Finest guns-for-hire in the system. Earth orbit.
  • Horeb - Orthodox Jewish community. Near-Earth asteroid.
  • Valley of the Apes - City-sized dome with system's largest population of uplifted apes. Mars
  • Moustier - Primary home of the Neo-Neanderthals. Martian Trojans
  • Winter - Community working towards a genderless, ambisexual society. Jovian Trojans.
  • DIY Shipyards - Union-owned construction company, will take commissions. Saturnian orbit.
  • Oberon -  Home of the largest anarchist community, the Love and Rage Collective. Moon of Uranus.
  • Mushroom and Jacques - Hyper-paranoid isolationist habitats deep in the Neptunian atmosphere.

Factions (Great Screaming Hell and Delta Eclipse)

  • FRIEND -  A smiley face, a vocoder, and a paycheck.
  • Lamplighters - Fanatic soldier-cult lead by the enigmatic (and missing) Lantern Boy.
  • United Planetary Front - Garden-variety space-fascists.
  • Calamity Jean - A thelychroma fixer, out to show the Company what kind of fight they signed up for.
  • ISWU - The Interstellar Sex Workers' Union. One of the oldest and toughest unions out there.
  • Dog Knights - Cynic swordmasters. The gutter-ronin of Diogenes.
  • Redoubters - The builders of black pyramids, preparers for the end of all time.
  • Trollgarden - Slumtown gang of flower-wearing mutants, led by a most infamous glutton.
  • Bon Morte Society - Death counseling and hospice care for those of extended life. 
  • Monks of Primus Oort - Cyborg followers of the old Cold Gods far away.
  • Tiger Lilies - Anti-indenture, anti-slavery cooperative.
  • Barn Swallows - Collective support network for drifters and wanderers.
  • Postmen - Deliver secure physical messages throughout the system.

More Factions (adapted from Umberwell and Krevborna)

  • 3rdEye.exe - A path to apotheosis based on expanding the scope of the mind, rather than its raw power. Corps and anarchists together shut the host site down with prejudice wherever the file is found.
  • Army of the Lilim - Servants of the Countess Alcesta, looking to find the one who will help her conceive her god-child. 
  • Circle - Mendicant ascetics and information brokers.
  • Choir of the Spheres - A cult that found an alien organism and, through eating of it, have started taking on its properties.
  • Concordance Corporation - HR-for-hire. Dedicated to peace through memetic domination.
  • The Defiant Collaborative - Fractious, violent collection of Unionists and anarchists.
  • Dredgers - Explorers of the ruins and tombs of old Mars.
  • Destiny Manifest - The other band of garden-variety space fascists. Go really hard on the "pure human" bullshit. Can't stand the UPF for their equal-opportunity membership.
  • Gunner's Union - Utmost scientific dedication to the Bullet Arts and Path of Explosions.
  • The Maelstrom - Followers of the black ship Azazel, whose algorithms show where and when to cause chaos to counteract the status quo to the greatest extent.
  • The Misericorde - Consorts and puppeteers of the elite, pulling strings even in the favor of their hidden teachers and patrons.
  • New Progress Association - Saturnian technocratic movement. Unpopular with the unions for their dismissal of the working class in their plans for an automated utopia.
  • Prometheus Chimera Works - Creators of new forms of neogenic and cybernetic life.
  • Rat-Catchers - Hunters of rogue pests on abandoned stations.
  • Ruin Night - They dream of a future without thought or death, of philosophical zombies animated by cybernetics.
  • Sacretta Carnifexa - Torturers and executioners of an ancient and outdated sect. Their journeymen are easily spotted by their vantablack cloaks.
  • Salon Sublime - Hangout for the hedonist hyper-elite. Chapters for the lower-classes are found easily enough.
  • Scourge of Evil - Gamified hyperviolent vigilante justice.
  • White Ravens - Union of bounty hunters, private investigators, and contract killers.


    1. Much, much more productive than babbling about how something in Eclipse Phase bugs me a bit.

      Chris Tamm's space supplement gets honorable mention.

    2. This is really cool! Makes me want to run Mothership.

    3. This place is packed! And feels maybe halfway between "The Expanse" and Kim Stanley Robinson's "2312".

      1. Red Mars is on my shelf but I haven't read any Robinson yet.

    4. I really like this post. It has just the right amount of detail, but not so much to fill in all the blanks. It's quite inspiring. I just have one question though: who are the Celestials? Are you deliberately leaving that part vague, or are you just waiting for a good time to reveal the answer?

      1. Guessing the Celestials are [agents of] fully ascended AIs, functionally gods, that proscribe further AI creation by humans? I feel like I remember this from another Throne of Salt post, maybe on Eclipse Phase, but can't track it down. Or maybe I'm confusing it with something from Iain M. Banks.

      2. Celestials are basically godlike digitized consciousnesses. They more or less leave humanity alone, as one leaves the spiders in the attic more or less alone, unless humanity starts fucking around with self-improving AI or jailbroken jump drives.

        I have a post in the works about them.

    5. Beautiful as always! I'm looking forward to seeing more of the Cold Gods and the Choir of the Spheres.

      Guessing the Redoubters are the link between Dan-Mothership Earth, Night Lands Earth, and Dead Planet earth?

      1. They can be, but honestly they're intended just as "hey here's a public domain thing that's evocative that I can steal"