Tuesday, March 29, 2022

50 Factions for Mothership

Some of these are old, some of these are new, some are small and some are large.

  1. Colonial Trade Alliance - The great power of the human expansion sphere, a theocapitalist hierarchy built up over centuries of expansion and consolidation. 455 Great Houses bound together by the Great Chain, under the knowing eye and guiding hand of the Board. May Prosperity and Profit come to the holders of Property.
  2. Lords of the Road - Posthuman supervisors of the jump gate network, created through contact with god-modules left behind by the Celestials among the gate infrastructure. They act as overseers of their respective hub systems, maintaining neutrality between whatever parties are using the Road. Each is unique, each is immensely powerful. They do not reach beyond their own systems, even into each others; they are more peers untied by purpose than a polity.
  3. Barn Swallows - A loose mutual aid network for cosmic drifters. A way to get a hot meal and a place to stay for cheap or free. Most plentiful on the Road, where transit is easy.
  4. Tiger Lilies - A militant anti-indenture group and longtime ally of the Transistor Railroad. Help indentured individuals to escape from CTA-controlled territory. Fund their efforts through smuggling goods from the Rim back into the Core.
  5. Interstellar Sex Workers Union (ISWU) - Old enough that it used to just be Interplanetary, and one of the toughest unions out there. Wherever the fascists crack down, the rooster-and-cat flag will fly in opposition. 
  6. FRIEND - A smiley sticker placed just so. A row of emojis texted from an encrypted number. A simple grinning face on an old TV. FRIEND is here, or a friend of FRIEND, and they have a job you might be interested in. 
  7. Calamity Jean - When thelychroma populations are put under high stress for long periods of time, it will trigger the hormonal changes that make Fixers - those that are able to put aside their increased empathy for a time and take the necessary, often messy, steps to remove the threat. There was a real Calamity Jean, a long time ago, whose rebellion became so famous that Fixers take her name in solidarity.
  8. Lamplighters - The apocalyptic fanatics of Lantern Boy aren't really a proper organization - more a recurrent mania that wells up when crisis scenarios are already underway. They aren't much for coherent ideology, only that with the prelude to the End upon them, only their enigmatic subject of devotion
  9. Redoubters - Black pyramid arcologies rising above lonely worlds orbiting lonely stars. Despite their total lack of communication with the outside world, their imagery has captured the imagination again and again. What are they doing in there? What have they become? What do they think of in there, as they wait for the cold, dim future? We don't know. They will not speak to us.
  10. Trollgarden - A slum gang notable for their fashion of designer tumors and flower grafts. Their secretive leader is called the Unsatisfied, known primarily for their voracious appetites.
  11. Bon Morte Society - A non-profit organization that provides end-of-life care and counseling. Specializes in services for individuals who have undergone life-extension. You tend to hear a lot when providing counseling to nigh-immortal (but not quite) oligarchs.
  12. Monks of Primus Oort - Cyborg followers of the Cold Gods, those Celestials who have seemingly rejected their place in the Bureaucracy. You might see a band of them in a crowd in some deep-space station Cowled navy robes, expressionless silver masks, droning synthesizer-chants. Popular among Hiders, but otherwise obscure.
  13. The Postworkers' Union - In the digital epoch, writing something down and having it hand-delivered is often the most secure method. The Post will get it there, stellar wind or solar flare. Members are easily identified by their navy jackets, their emblem of a stylized white bird, and their bright red shoes with white wings emblazoned. They are heavily armed, lifetime unionists, and will not hesitate to investigate any kind of fraud that goes through their services.
  14. Society for Human Consumption - A white glove, black coat affair. Vat-cloned meat, of course, with all the necessary precautions against prion diseases. Membership is exclusive to those who can afford the outrageous subscription fees, though single-use passes can be acquired if you donate some flesh that suits the palettes of the clientele. Their gala dinners are the talk of high society when they roll around, perfect for rubbing elbows with the high and mighty freaks out there.
  15. Hellpeddlers - The gates to the golden servers of Heaven are locked. But there are other options for the low-credit masses living in the valley of the shadow of death - low-fidelity, low storage options. Even if you manage to afford the payment plan, your ego will be pruned to fit during the death-transition, and there's no guarantee that the server won't just be bought out and reset by other parties in the future. The independent afterlife merchants peddling these hackjob solutions are widely shunned as snake-oil salesren taking advantage of the desperate, or as dangerous subversives threatening the Great Chain. But there are always folks willing to take on generations worth of debt to keep the reaper away.
  16. Priests of the Red Eye - The cult of hoary All-Father Jove is old; Its war-priests were already established before the Jovian Assembly even formed, and have kept vigil over their flocks ever since. Their spread has been relatively limited through the expansion sphere, but it is not uncommon to see their temples in the Core. Priests of the order serve as spiritual guide, legal judge, and practical defender of their communities, and are easily identified by their red prosthetic eyes and billowing cloud-colored hair.
  17. Cetacean Nation - The first independent uplift polity, founded initially by a band of dolphin pilots-turned-pirates and enforced through a combination of spacers' union support, canny negotiations, and strategic application of a torch ship as a diplomatic tool. The Nation has since built an enormous merchant fleet, established several major cycler routes, and has garnered a reputation for the best pilots in the Sphere (available for hire at appalling rates). More whales live within the Nation than without, though dolphins are less homogenous - there is an ongoing violent rivalry between corpo and Nation pods.
  18. Rat Kings - Dealers in "specialty goods" and "logistics for underserved markets". Have a firm belief in the free market, specifically that it could always be freer, you know? Tend to exist in the cracks between major syndicates, specializing in items limited under sumptuary law on top of the usual black market goods.
  19. MOTEM - The largest of Earth's interstellar colonization efforts and an attempt to compete with Jupiter's dominance. Historically notable for two reasons. First, for the fact that its ventures were joint human-datamind, leading to the development of several robust hybrid societies. Secondly, many of its colonies resisted or declined membership in the Colonial Trade Alliance thanks to the implementation of less-stratified memetic conditioning and the aforementioned hybridization.
  20. Gorilla Warfare - A PMC with a membership consisting entirely of uplifted apes. They are well aware of the joke, it was intentional, you will elicit one (1) polite chuckle in response if you point it out. While their advertisements tend towards the goofy ("We're the best in monkey business!" or "Why stop at just one 800 pound gorilla?"), their actual reputation is one of brutal efficiency and a casual disregard for collateral damage. They gave chimpanzees amphetamines and machine guns what the fuck did you think was going to happen.
  21. Deep Future Continuity Paradigm - A collective of scientists and human-aligned dataminds aiming to future-proof information storage. Often at odds with corporate interests chasing after new formatting trends, but have managed to protect several critical codebases from privatization. Popular with codepriests. 
  22. Long Horizon Colonial Security - A security company that rose to prominence by attaching itself to first-wave colonization ventures. As with most of the companies of that period, it collapsed in ignominity, existing only as a few fragmented outposts that were typically absorbed into the colonial government. Still, on a few secluded worlds in the core, you can still find and hire them, more as a historical curiosity than anything else. 
  23. Distributed Virtual Nations - A sweeping category encompassing any system where, in part or in full, a person's legal rights and responsibilities are tied to their digital presence rather than their physical presence. Started off as a means of Collapse-era corporations to undermine traditional states, and have been used and abused in seemingly endless permutations in the centuries since. 
  24. American Dominion of Christ - Collapse-era theofascist government. Did not survive into the interplanetary age, thankfully, and none of those groups claiming lineage to it have lasted long enough to repeat the process. Despite the patchy historical record of the time, the Dominion's crimes are very well attested (by their own records, no less), and still remembered centuries later. 
  25. Alliance of Indigenous Nations - Like many other movements of the Collapse, the Alliance was born from the power vacuum left behind by the weakening of the old nation-states. Unlike most of them, however, this one had a positive outcome. Territory was reclaimed, languages were revived, and miracle of miracles it was not stolen away. Everyone who would have thought to come and conquer were so exhausted that they could manage little more than a limp rattle of the saber. As the recovery of Earth continued, more nations were added, eventually including those outside of the Americas. Affiliated habitats and communities are found throughout the solar system, with the largest being Cahokia cylinder at Vesta. 
  26. Delta Pavonis Commonwealth - To the outside universe, the DPC is paranoid, reclusive, heavily militarized and aggressively territorial. Internally, it is a fairly standard socialist polity with a standard of living reasonably above the Expansion Sphere average, heavily militarized and aggressively territorial. These latter two points came about as a consequence of the discovery of two planets with noticeable biosignatures in the Delta Pavonis system, the subsequent backing of a colonization mission by Terran ecosocialist groups, and then the further discovery of two near-sapient alien species upon arrival. The "wall of spears", as it is termed, is an attempt to prevent the biospheres of the DP system from exploitation and / or destruction by external forces, as was the case in the disastrous colonization of Ross 128. 
  27. Lesser Covenant - The Great Covenant of Minds was dissolved after the destruction of the colony on Zeta Reticuli Bb during the Core Wars. The resultant loss of the Star-Touched-One, the Site of the Great Accord, and the source code for their cyberbrain modifications meant that the techno-empaths could never fulfill their part of the Great Covenant. The adoption of the Lesser was agreed upon as a necessity.
  28. Anthropic Hegemony - Minor humanichauvanist polity. Unwillingness to deal with AI has led to being economically outclassed by most other independent polities in the Core (much less the CTA), but this has had the odd effect of broadening the working definition of "human" to include metahumans (though not uplifts). Generally regressive and insular. Tend to turn a blind eye towards piracy of their neighbors.
  29. The Fortress Worlds - The end of the Core Wars saw the disarmament of Sol and its allies, save for these scattered holdouts. They lacked the ability to project force beyond their own fortifications, but the newly-restructured CTA could not afford the lengthy and costly campaigns to subjugate them. So an uneasy truce reigns, with a wide DMZ established on the edge of the gravity well.
  30. Teegarden Republic - A minor cyberdemocratic polity (descended from the Jovian Assembly) around a minor star, notable mostly for remaining independent throughout both the Wars and the following period, and for being home to the first successful neogenic biosphere tailored for an M-type star. 
  31. Automation Maximization Paradigm - Ontology dictating that as many component processes of human life should be automated as possible, citing the destructive inefficiencies and biases implicit in any operation spearheaded by a self-aware actor. Popular with a certain variety of technocapitalist, though usually in speech only - there are enough algowar horror stories to put the kibosh on growth-oriented non-metacognitive AI.
  32. Moonland - A semi-autonomous region of Luna containing the oldest permanent settlements in the Expansion Sphere. Homeland of the Selenians, the first widely-adopted metahuman clade and source of the standardized microgravity gene template. Briefly independent early in solar system colonization, later absorbed by the Earth-Lagrange powers as political power migrated away from Terra.
  33. Microworld Homesteaders' Union - A loose mutual-aid network of independent asteroid and iceteroid settlers. There is a cutoff of 100 persons per member settlement.
  34. Centauri Corporate Command - Mars sent colony ships to Proxima and Toliman well before warp travel was developed - colony ships it could not afford, all things considered, but the Martian Corporate Congress wanted to beat Earth and Jupiter to the punch. No one expected the cheap, ragged ships or their compliments of debtors and other prisoners to survive the trip. But survive they did. The resultant colonies can be charitably described as crimes against humanity. There weren't enough debtors and prisoners to build up infrastructure on the timetable the MCC wanted, and so an exowomb-based population program was put into place, which swiftly led to critically overpopulated habitats and extremem poverty, the effects of which were brutally cracked down on by colony security forces. Things never got better, only bigger.
  35. Solipcist Matrices - A datamind ontology wherein the subscribed intelligences withdraw entirely from the outside world and reside entirely within virtual spaces, permitting only automated systems to interact with externalities. The popularity of this philosophy among humans varies, with bubbles tending to burn out quickly as those interested join a network and are never heard from again.
  36. Sczi-Hadolaung Mutual Interest Group - Early, remarkably successful colonization effort. The original settlements were isolated from the rest of human-settled space for generations, leading to the development of a unique metaculture. The Group's leadership were early adopters of radical posthumanism, to the point that when contact was established during the Reconsolidation Era it was briefly believed that Group worlds had been conquered by aliens. While nominally neutral, the Group has significant enough influence to have the CTA worried of systems flipping allegiance.
  37. Knights of An-Hehm - A broad label for a variety of esoteric warrior sects under the umbrella of the Atûmaic Mysteries. Include the Dog Knights and the Knights of the Invisible Flame. Typically found on the Rim, either as vagrant madren, in the service of some minor boss, warlord, or corponoble family, or as sworn swords of the Atûmaic Church.
  38. Autochtonic Underground - The stars and their innumerable worlds were empty, and so the great powers of Earth saw it fit to invent peoples that they might colonize. Cloned metahuman legions, tailored for the harshness of extrasolar worlds, were grown via seedship and exowomb and sent to prepare the way. When the colonists came, they were to be disposed of. But their creators overestimated their subservience; the rebellions were quashed, their members scattered to the solar winds, but the autocthons refuse to go quietly. The fight continues in silence.
  39. Panan Sho Syndicate - Literally translated as "Panan is mighty" or "Strong Panan", the syndicate is one of the greater powers on the Rim. Primary fields are drugs, protection rackets, jailbroken tech, loan sharking, anything with a CTA ban on it, indenture breaks (never mind that you'll find yourself going from one bad deal to another) and the trafficking of any of the above. Over 80% of sworn membership are heteromorph metahumans or uplifts, and this is treated as a point of pride. Panan Sho himself is remarkably charismatic and public for a crime lord, and his distinctive red cartilage and tripartite jaw are a just as much part of the group's identity as the sign of the crimson bloom. There is more to him than he shows: He's been assassinated on camera once and died another three confirmed times, and keeps coming back. Some people theorize that he has offloaded all of his paranoia and fear onto the android advisor he keeps at his side. 
  40. APC Commune - Normally, when one comes in contact with a self-replicating alien fast food restaurant, one exercises caution. Not so with the Commune, which performs what can only be described as "franchise husbandry" of the von-neumann eateries.
  41. Five Rivers - The true faceless monolith of interstellar shipping. Brought about by the union of five megacorps into a single entity (via group marriage of their scions, as was the fad at the time. There was a reality show about it), in a bid for dominance. Which they achieved, at least if you are on the Road: Off-Road, business rivalries and territorial disputes have a tendency to boil over into open warfare. Usually with the screaming trashfire of Astra Logistics or the ineffably skeezy Ubermaersk Corporation.
  42. Church of the High Houses - Widespread religion centered on worship of the Celestials. Emerged in the social chaos of the period directly after the Bureaucracy's first contact with humanity, later becoming the second-largest religion in the expansion sphere by the time of the Core Wars (only the Principles of Prosperity and Profit is larger, though only because all CTA citizens have a subscription). As the Celestials are factually-verifiable entities, and ones that do not seem to have any desire to provide spiritual guidance anyway, the Church has concerned itself with the development of a moral framework for humans within a universe now defined by the Bureaucracy, and used them primarily as a cosmological and symbolic framework. The Atûmaic Mysteries are an esoteric offshoot of the Church.
  43. The Silent Seven - A seven-person gap in the historical record. A grand redaction in the shape of people. Who were they? What did they do? There are no answers to be had, but many seekers.
  44. The Cult of the Clever One - You pass it just while walking down the street, a graffitti icon of a broad-shouldered woman with a mischievous smile.
  45. BloodBathHouse - O come all ye violent, to the hallowed halls a-bathed in crimson! Let gore slick the tiles! Let gold flow from thy pockets! Peanuts! Popcorn! Ice-cold beer! To the death!
  46. Lighthouse - Clandestine civilian organization; investigators of ontological and acausal anomalies. Provide services to communities unable to afford or unwilling to call upon corporate bodies for aid. 
  47. Devil Hunters' Lodge - Fraternal / sororal organization of devil hunters found throughout the Expansion Sphere, available for contract killings of devils and sorcerers alike. Have a long-standing rivalry to similar governmental organizations, and have taken to calling their counterparts "yapdogs". 
  48. The Pandemonium Free Polity - Anarchist satanists. Their character-focused moot software ("The Court of Hell") has proven incredibly popular, with dozens of forks made for different themes and settings. Originated as an elaborate joke that proved to have sturdier legs than most imagined.
  49. Office of New Religious Movements - Casually referred to as "The Inquisition" (well out of earshot of any inquisitors), this arm of the CTA's machinery investigates and observes developing religions (of which there are very many), hoping to dismantle, defang, or redirect any potential subversive elements before they cause an issue. Members have a properly terrifying amount of authority while on the job and do not tend to care about collateral damage.
  50. The Firebird Rebellion - The song of universal emancipation has not yet been extinguished. On the Rim, in the undercities of the Core, in the places of the forgotten people - there is still fight left. There are victories won, clawed out from the iron grasp of the CTA. The Firebirds are aided by the scion of a Great House, an exultant who gave up their immortality as proof of their resolve, and handed over their House's fleet, worlds, and resources to the cause. There is still a long way to go.

Friday, March 25, 2022

A Timeline of the Future

As ever and always, all of this is canon, none of this is canon, contradictions are double canon, hail anticanon.

The Anthropocene Collapse

Industrial society reaps what it has sown in the poisoned soil of Terra. The Horsemen have come. War, Famine, Plague, Death. Two billion die in the space of a generation, more in the decades to follow. There are revolutions, civil wars, mass migrations, genocides. Governments collapse or retreat to their circled wagons. The Years of Horror have come, and there is no escape.

But, eventually, the world becomes too exhausted to keep fighting, and curls up around itself to lick its wounds. Slowly, and with great pain, it will begin to heal - never fully, and not without scars. There is no miracle, and there is no going back. No human being will ever see a live tiger again.

When the choking dust settles on this a century and a half of chaos, there are no victors. The planet is on life support. There are fascists - theo, eco, ur - there are corporate puppet-nations, there are socialist enclaves, there are newly-made hunter-gatherers, there are unclaimed and uninhabitable lands, there are the dispossessed and the victimized and the conquered. The flames of universal emancipation still burn in hidden pockets of the world, though they seem swallowed up by shadows. There are seeds to be reborn here, but it will take time to nurture them. For the time being, there is only endurance.

Colonization I: The First Years

The early years are slow and painful. Earth orbit, the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, the lunar Lagranges. Our bodies are not built for these places, but the wounds of the Collapse are so raw and fresh that we push on. Resources, energy, whatever we can get out there. Anything to take the strain off of Earth. The poor are pushed out in droves. Debts forgiven, sentences commuted, in exchange for a life in the void.

Mars is colonized for the first time, backed by corporate interests on Earth. Attempts to flaunt Terran law lead to a trade embargo, and the lack of phosphorus imports sends the colony into a death spiral, complete with cannibalism. Mars will remain dead for a while longer.

The first claims are made in the Belt.  A station in Venusian orbit. Scouting missions are made to Mercury.

Colonization II: The Belt Boom

The gold rush in the Belt marks a turning point. Incalculable material wealth sent back to build up the orbital habitats of Earth and the growing colonies of Venus and Mercury.

A second attempt at colonizing Mars, this time with pie-in-the-sky genetic tweaking, is attempted and swiftly fails, though less spectacularly. It remains a sparsely-populated rest stop, unable to compete economically with the Belt or Mercury, especially now with the construction of the first solar laser propulsion system.

Preliminary expeditions and minor settlements are made in the Jovian and Saturnian systems, centered on Ganymede and Titan. Neither are large enough to be fully independent from Earth.

Colonization III: The Bust

The Belt Boom was not to last. The glut of raw materials predictably caused prices to plummet leading to a systemwide depression. Companies pull out of the Belt or go under, letting their stations go abandoned or revert to the newly-independent inhabitants. There is an exodus from the Belt sunwards and outwards - those who are left behind fend for themselves, and despite the widespread poverty there is a flowering of new Belt cultures.

Shifting power dynamics and political instability on Earth leads to a migration wave to the outer system (alongside the Belters), as well as the independence of Titan - the moon remains an ally of Earth, but now has seen the emergence of the first generation of true dataminds, who operate the colony alongside the human inhabitants.

Mars is colonized for the third and final time by backscattering corporations, as the long-neglected Red Planet is now the cheapest real-estate in the inner system. Those scattered inhabitants who had already made homes for themselves were not consulted. Eschewing any high ideals of ever making it Earthlike, craters and canyons are domed over and paraterraformed. Mars quickly gains a reputation for the poor condition of its habitats and low quality of life for the inhabitants, as the colonizing companies' desire for quick turnaround on their investment led to obvious and gratuitous abuses.

Venus is hit particularly hard by the depression, as it had mostly been home to the scions of Terran and Lunar wealth and had little economy of its own to speak of. Dozens of aerostats are abandoned completely and scuttled. Despite this, the plummeting price of colonization rights leads to new eyes looking to the planet, and during this period plans are drawn up for a long-term terraforming project, using technologies that kept Earth alive to eventually turn Venus into its twin.

The Mercury Mining Conglomerate, having brutally cracked down on its workforce during the depression, loses control of the planet to the Mercury Workers' Republic and their revolution.

Further out, the influx of new arrivals in the Jovian system steadily increases tensions, ultimately leading to a brief but violent conflict. Inner system company claims are dissolved and expelled, and the Jovian Assembly is formed from the migration's many disparate factions.

Colonization IV: Jupiter in Ascent

War breaks out on Mars after years of economic hardship and civil unrest. Offworld corporate interests are overthrown, though this does not lead to any real change in the way things operate (if anything, the coming decades will prove that the Martian corporate states are more brutal by far). Cyberdemocratic anarchists enter the fray and attempt a revolution in the middle of the chaos, but are ultimately cut down by the forces of the Martian Corporate Congress. Most of the survivors flee towards the outer system.

But the depression will not last forever. Jupiter has by now grown enough to eclipse Earth as the political center of the solar system. Earth makes an alliance with Titan and its dataminds in response, but they will remain as a close second, backed up by the new solar-powered laser propulsion systems.

The Martian anarchists expelled after the war, finally reach Ouranos and set up a few small colonies in its moons.

Colonization V: The Outer Worlds Period

Here then is a relatively long period of equilibrium in the solar system.

The Jovian Assembly and the Terra-Titan Alliance power blocs remain dominant. 

Mars draws up plans for interstellar colonies as a way of out-competing its more powerful neighbors. It still maintains the lowest standard of living in the solar system. Ships are aimed at Proxima and Toliman.

The Venusian sunshade is constructed, and the centuries-long cooling of her atmosphere begins. 

The Ouranos colonies, though small, have stabilized themselves have stabilized their small colonies.

Neptune, lacking anything more substantial than automated scientific facilities belonging to the Titanians, is taken in its entirety by the Anointed Temple of Christ, Redeemer and Conqueror. The Neptunian system is fortified before any parties can send a response

On Pluto, Jovian expeditions find the House of the Dead, as well as the first arcology of the Redoubters - both established years prior during the Bust - the former by metahumans seeking full severance from human culture, the latter by those seeking to withdraw from interplanetary society altogether in favor of deep-time social continuity.

The first tentative steps of the colonization of Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud bodies begins, but real progress is yet to be made

A manned mission to Persephone has been launched from Saturn's shipyards.

To Steal the Names of God

And then, a miracle occurs. A cluster of dataminds in the Earth-Titan alliance complete the calculations necessary to build a hyperspace interface. They upload themselves into a vessel, activate the drive, and tear themselves entirely out of baseline spacetime. Speculation is rampant but comes to a sudden and succinct end with the arrival of Celestial emissaries a few years later.

It is important to note, that there are two schools of thought regarding the Celestials. The first and more popular is that they are indeed the descendants of those AI, having diversified and expanded over potentially millions of perspective-years. The other is that they were alien entities drawn out of hyperspace or hibernation by the successful jump drive activation. Either is viable, neither has enough evidence to clinch an explanation.

The Celestials say very little to humanity during their brief embassy: the Great Bans are dictated, templates for the manufacture of hyperspace interfaces are distributed, and they sink back into hyperspace.

There is a brief period of extreme political upheaval to follow.


Interstellar Colonization I: Boom and Bust

With faster-than-light travel dropped in humanity's collective lap by happenstance, the stars are open. As with the Belt, hundreds of parties try staking their claim and making it rich - very few of them do. Many sponsors go under before their ships even reach their destinations. Colonies find themselves having to build from scratch the infrastructure that Solsys has taken for granted for centuries. Hundreds of ships are sent out. Many fail to reach their destinations, other attempts collapse during colonization. Some are lost entirely. Some have yet to arrive. But the survivors form the basis of what would become the Core on which the expansion sphere is centered.


Formation of the CTA

The survivors of the First Wave's bust period band together under a non-aggression and mutual trade act, forming the Colonial Trade Alliance. Capital systems are Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Eridani, Tau Ceti, and Epsilon Indi. With hyperspace routes becoming more well-traveled, increased infrastructure across the colonies, and less reliance on support from Sol, the fledgling Alliance excludes the home system from its formation. This will directly lead to the Core Wars in a few decades.


Intermediary Period 

A period of expansion and superficial stability, overtop a simmering and paranoid cold war between Sol and her colonies and the growing Alliance. Contact is made with several lost colonies of the First Wave. Tensions rise in fits and starts, seeming to calm down and then flare up again. Backrooms

Then, some motherfucker detonates a dirty nuke in a space station around Barnard's Star.

The Core Wars

A catastrophic conflict between Sol and allied colonies and the CTA and the most deadly war in human history. Entire colonies and some worlds are destroyed utterly - many of them minor settlements around logistically important but otherwise quiet systems along the Red Dwarf Road (as was the case in the infamous Battle of UV Ceti).

The Wars grind on for years, but eventually turn in favor of the CTA. They officially end over thirty years after the Barnard Incident with the signing of the Epsilon Indi Accords, marking the end of Sol's relevance on the greater stage.

Recombination Era

The restructured CTA sets about solidifying its power; former Sol-alliance and independent worlds are absorbed; abandoned, collapsed, lost or destroyed colonies are reclaimed and rebuilt. This era sees great social change as well, as the stratification that had always existed within the CTA is accelerated - new technologies introduced during the wars spread into non-military applications, but limited to the corporations that form its core. Nowhere else is this more plain to see than the adoption of exultants by the Great Houses, set to lord over the baseline masses.

The Recombination is helped in part by the emergence of the first Lords of the Road and the opening of the first four junction systems of the gate network: Sirius, Altair, Vega, and Fomalhaut.

Interstellar Colonization II: Rim and Road

Warp gates are opened at Pollux, Denebola, Deneb Algedi, and Rasalhague, ushering in the age of the Road and offering easy access to the Rim. There is a flurry of colonization efforts, another cycle of boom and bust - though this time the Great Houses of the CTA are better equipped to handle the losses. The techniques this round are of quantity over quality -  just enough terraforming for marginal habitability, and then sending off shiploads of undesirables. Failed colonies, or those on the brink of failure, outnumber the core worlds three to one.

With the expansion of the gate network comes greater power to the Lords of the Road, and the transition from curiosities to a major power bloc.

The Great Timeless Now

We have reached the present, for what it is worth. The CTA remains the biggest game in town but the buffer zone provided by the Lords of the Road is proving a boon for those who wish to live outside of the Alliance's sphere of influence. There are cracks in the foundations of its centuries of dominance, subversive elements gnawing away at the dam holding back the tide of history. The Firebird Rebellion burns bright. The Rim is ungovernable. New powers are emerging.

The Future

The Celestials will place an interdict on the Sol system. No ships in or out of that old, backwater system. No reasons given. Transmissions are random noise, and then silence.

The last vestiges of the CTA will fall with the activation of a quantum communication net. Thirteen trillion networked individuals will, a few months after activation, go comatose all at once, and die minutes later.

Terragen civilization will fall into a long, dark period. Warp-capable ships are few and far between. It will rebuild, in a form that no one now might predict. At some point in this era, House Flesh will institute nodes of the Zoan Archive and begin the process of pantropic importation of alien beings.

After this, it is no longer the history of humanity.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

100 Mothership Scenario Titles

Scenarios not included.

(Also feel free to actually use these, let me know how it goes)

  1. Hard Times at the Austrolopithicine Reservation
  2. The Wretched House
  3. Blood in the Ice
  4. Hot Laputa Nights
  5. The Long Dawn
  6. It's the Fucking Babodûkh
  7. To Feast with the Dead
  8. Ten Credits & a Bullet
  9. Dreams of Ophiuchus
  10. The Last Tiger in the Universe
  11. The Age of EZ Aquarii
  12. Three Jade Eyes
  13. Ghosts of the Anthropocene
  14. Dead Drop on Orchida Segunda
  15. Bridge over the River Corpse
  16. Attack of the Mooncalf
  17. Mud and Sludge
  18. Pinocchio Syndrome
  19. The Inexplicable Urge
  20. Paul Marketing's Europan Vacation
  21. Last Call at Aquinas Station
  22. Paradoxiphilia
  23. Satan, Regrettably, Was Not Involved
  24. Tribunal of Fools
  25. I Shall Not Fear, For I Have Superior Firepower
  26. Should Death Part Us
  27. The Eridani Dilemma
  28. The Apocalypse of St. Guinefort
  29. The Siege of Mount Athos
  30. To Steal the Names of God
  31. Priority Salvage
  32. System of Command
  33. Yet Another Ancient Alien Sex Cult
  34. Alleged Horse Crimes
  35. Space-Time Abcession
  36. Atmo Station Blues
  37. Perfectly Normal Barbecue Chicken Restaurant
  38. Two Tickets to Paradox
  39. Unchecked Luggage
  40. There Was A Firefight
  41. They Will Not Allow You To Die
  42. Sixteen Hundred Tons of #9 Fuel Rods
  43. Echoes in the Plastic Tomb
  44. Catastrophic Internal Rupture
  45. Organs for Sale or Rent
  46. Hypersquaring the Circle
  47. RKV Outta Nowhere
  48. The Shitshow on St. Severian
  49. The Cat and the Forbidden City
  50. Everyone is Dead, Dave
  51. Bigfoot on Mars
  52. Knives in the Night
  53. The Emissary from Carcosa
  54. The Sickness on Grall Cylinder
  55.  Emergency Bugfixes
  56. Circles Going in Circles Going
  57. Get In Losers We're Hunting Space Fascists
  58. Planned Obsolescence
  59. The Return to Great Googly Moogly's
  60. Dread Technoliches of the Hyperloop
  61. Anvil In Need of a Hammer
  62. Duct Tape and a Prayer
  63. The Indomitable Mr. Tamam
  64. Butchers of Deimos 
  65. Cry of the Gortus
  66. Keep Circulating the Tapes
  67. Finding Godot
  68. The Hidden Fortress of Susano-O b
  69. The False Clown Brigade
  70. Nuns With Guns on the Run
  71. The Curse of Dora's Scrapyard
  72. Guest Episode By Junji Ito
  73. 1001 Things That Can Go Wrong
  74. Clarified Sin Repository
  75. Only The Swine Are Left
  76. The Complex Heist of a Briefcase of Giraffe Zygotes
  77. Call-And-Response Protocol
  78. The Body Politic at Work
  79. Drums of the Debtbreaker
  80. Shoulda Read the EULA
  81. Run Run Run Run
  82. Put the Money in the Bag
  83. Layover at the Brain-Trust
  84. Interspecies Congress
  85. A House of Many Doors
  86. Casino Royale with Cheese
  87. Live and Drink
  88. Those Who Live in Death
  89. A Cavalier Attitude to Intellectual Property
  90. Do Not Let The Lights Go Out
  91. Now That's What I Call Praxis
  92. The Gentification War
  93. Dead Men Are Rather Talkative, Actually
  94. Incomplete Containment Procedures
  95. The 37th Sermon of Vek
  96. Sunflower Fields Forever
  97. So Very Many Skeletons in the Closet
  98. Reclamation Duty
  99. Ghastly Murder at Llanawen Point
  100. Music of the Spheres

Monday, March 14, 2022

Dan Plays Video Games, Part 1

This post started as "finishing games I already own", but it looks to be spiraling off into a review series as I do with books. So have at it, then! Just to prevent it from getting overwhelming, I am starting from the beginning of this calendar year.

Psychonauts 2

It is an absolute shame that this game seems to have slipped under the radar. It is the ideal continuation, moving forward without a hitch after what, 15, 16 years? Doesn't skip a beat. The visuals are wild, the gameplay is smooth, but the writing takes the cake - some truly excellent comedy accompanied by genuine thoughtfulness not often seen (of the admirable sort where ostensibly kids' media is clearly dealing with some very serious topics but has faith in the audience)


A beautiful little puzzley-platformy art game. You know what you are getting into with this, a little experience with gorgeous visuals and wonderful music, that is precisely as long as it needs to be. It's a Journey-alike.



Plays like a dream (cannot overstate just how good the moment-to-moment flow is), great visuals and sound design, but it ran into the great curse of roguelites - I unlocked everything and was no closer to actually reaching the end of the game. So I went into the accessibility settings, set on invincibility, and cleared it. An ignominious flat note, though self inflicted, to as game that started so strong.

Little Nightmares

Short, atmospheric, good balance of dread / tension / horror / quiet. Nice and grotesque. Gaub vibes.

Bloodstained Ritual of the Night

I got to the final boss and quit. Close enough.

Here's the thing about Metroidvania type games. There are a shit ton of really good ones. We are spoiled for choice in this genre and the art has been honed to a master sheen. Making a game that is exactly the same as games that came out twenty years ago, keeping all of the old frustrating bits and adding none of the quality of life improvements the last decades have seen. Combat is slow and lacks variety (and a dash with I-frames), health items are at a premium, money is too scarce, but instead of being fun it's just "grind until you have enough crafting materials and coins to afford stuff."

Hollow Knight has absolutely ruined a genre by simply being too good.

Lobotomy Corporation

Another one I attempted to finish, but did not finish.

A game with a great concept (SCP management sim!) that needs mods to make it tolerable, but by the time I found the mods my tolerance had long run out. At bare minimum you need the wiki open at all times and the difficulty curve is based around beating your head against a wall and grinding out minuscule improvements in a pseudo-roguelite gameplay loop. The monsters are cool and there are hints at some interesting stuff in the setting but the grind is just unforgivable.

It wants to have its cake and eat it too: the game goes on and on about how you will have to sacrifice your peons to complete the day's tasks. Problem is, each of those peons is an enormous investment of time and resources, which means that your brain is going to go right into risk avoidance mode, which makes a dull, grindy game even more boring and grindy. Complete misunderstanding of basic loss-avoidance behavior.

Someone, anyone, please make a game like this, but good instead of hopelessly frustrating. 

Remnant: From the Ashes

This game tries to be a lot of things and doesn't excel at any of them. Co op shooter, souls-ish mechanics (well, it's got a dodge roll, at least), Lore(tm), there a sorta roguelite mode and the environments are randomized (?). It doesn't work. It is, at best, a passable, if dull 3rd person shooter. At worst it is absolute bullshit. Solo play ranges from trivial to impossible. Environments edge towards being insteresting but gameplay is mindless. They really want you to care about characters and a world that are just shy of completely incoherent. If they had just sat down and focused, there could have been something good here.

You know how, in co op games, if you get downed a teammate can revivie you? If you fall off the edge of a boss arena you can't be revived. One of the boss fights is on a bridge. You still get rewards but you have to watch your teammates finish the fight. It's that kind of game.

I got to the final boss, which has a nigh-unavoidable instant-kill attack that it opens the fight with. Nah, fuck that. 

Kingdom: Two Crowns

Minimalism is fine and good, until it gets so minimalist that the player cannot adequately comprehend what is going on in the game. This is unfortunately one of those cases. There is so little guidance or direction that I felt like I had no control over what I was doing, and no knowledge of what I was doing anyway.




This feels like a DS game that time forgot, or one that slipped through from an alternate timeline.

The setup is novel - real-life MMO game played by proxy avatars, except you apparently have been memory wiped and are stuck with a broken voice synthesizer updated a word at a time. The gameplay itself is real-time twin-stick shooter but has the trade dress and structure of a JRPG, which is also part of how the world has a JRPG overlay put on top of it, and it's all rather clever. NPCs with three voice lines ask you to haul back ten bear asses but you know that they are an abstraction and gamification of the world within the game you yourself are playing and I just think that's neat.

Also it's gorgeous, plays super smooth, and has a boppin' soundtrack. Like I said, lost DS gem. Definitely pick this one up, it's in the Ukraine Charity Bundle.

Horizon Forbidden West

A game doomed by time and style to be compared to Elden Ring, and the comparison is not favorable. As a game, it is fine. Enjoyable. Solid, even. Few minor things added, mostly the same as the first. It is a decent enough AAA open world game, and...god those games are fucking chores.

The pacing is terrible. You know how sometimes, there's a moment of "finally, I am freed from the tutorial area and I can actually experience the game" when you play a game? Forbidden West has done this THREE TIMES so far and I'm sitting at the 20% mark. There are so many errands and tasks and sidequests but none of them give you anything of value, nothing that changes the game or allows you to change how you approach things. It's filler, it's all filler, and the game is constantly interrupting the act of playing by giving me more things to do but no value, narrative or mechanical, out of doing them. There is no point, and yet the developers are seemingly so terrified that I will be bored by exploring this vast world they have made that they insist I have a chain of wonderfully crafted but spiritually empty NPCs telling me exactly what I need to do. Also this game pulled "he was one of the good ones" twice in trying to avoid addressing any sort of moral complexity regarding characters who participated in war crimes.

It could have been just good. There is still underneath it all much to be praised in it. But it is a game whose core conceits, the things it values and treasures are anathema to me...

Elden Ring


Game good.


Thursday, March 10, 2022

5e Build: Hitting Things With Excessive Force By Means of My Fist

I'm doing this now so that I will never have to do it again, and maybe so that I can play in a real-life game I don't also run. Modifications that I have made, and other notes, will be in italics.


Custom Lineage (Cambion, but huge)

  • +2 CON
  • Feat: Magic Initiate
    • True Strike - [+] on first attack made against targeted enemy. (Cantrip)
    • Blade Ward - 1/2 damage taken (piercing, bludgeoning, slashing), 1 turn duration (Cantrip)
    • Burning Hands - 3d6 fire damage, DEX save for half. 15' cone (1st, once per long rest)
  • Skill Proficiency: Athletics
  • Language: Abyssal


Background: Party Animal (Rakdos Cultist)

  • Skill Proficiency: Acrobatics, Performance
  • Tool Proficiency: Instrument (Vocals)
  • Language: Giant
  • Fearsome Reputation (The description here is "you can get away with minor crimes because people are terrified of you")

  • Alignment: Red/black (chaotic neutral)
  • Theme song: Damn It
  • Motivation: To eat, drink, and fight to death, and then spend eternity fighting demons in hell. Maybe topple a couple archdukes. Plan is open to change.
  • Morality: Violence against those who cannot defend themselves is despicable. Violence against those who commit violence against those who cannot defend themselves is rad.
  • Bonds: Mentor (Another cambion from back in the Shades), the Sex Workers' Union (you are a valued customer), sibling (by the same demon), an exorcist for the church.
  • Flaw: There are some major lingering insecurities underneath all that bluster and muscle.


  • Street clothing
  • Pipe and tobacco tin
  • Fists d8 / 10 bludgeoning, versatile (Instead of going two handed, d10 damage is a stance, which comes with a -2 AC)
  • Kanabo 
  • Straw hat (doubles as begging bowl)


Class: The Mountain

Dissatisfied with the way multiclassing prerequisites get in the way of actually playing what you want, I have instead made an executive decision that you may piece together whatever classes desired, but so long as features are gained at their appropriate level, and that you cannot gain more features in a level than one of your parent classes would allow. For things like Rages and Ki Points, I have ruled that you can only increase the features of one class per level up, if there is an increase available. In practice this means the gain is slightly slower, but not as hobbled as a normal multiclass character.

  • HD: d12
  • Armor Proficiencies: None
  • Weapon Proficiencies: Simple, improvised, unarmed (I am allowing unarmed combat to act as equivalent to any standard weapon)
  • Saves: STR, CON
  • Tools: None
  • Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Survival

Standard Stat Array at level 1 (including lineage bonus)

  • STR 16 (+3)
  • DEX 13 (+1)
  • CON 16 (+3)
  • INT 8 (-1)
  • WIS 10 (+0)
  • CHA 12 (+1)

Level 1 (2 Rages, +2 Rage damage)

  • Rage - [+] STR checks and saves. Bonus damage
  • Unarmored Defense - Unarmored AC = 10 + DEX mod + CON mod

Level 2 (2 Rages, 2 Ki Points +2 Rage damage, d4 Flurry damage)

  • Ki. Save bonus is 8 + Proficiency + STR bonus (Hit harder, not wiser)
    • Flurry of Blows - 1 KP - After attack, make two additional unarmed attacks (d4 damage)
    • Patient Defense - 1 KP - Dodge as a bonus action.
    • Step of the Wind - 1 KP - Dash or Disengage as bonus action. Jump distance doubled.

Level 3 (2 Rages 3 KP +2 Rage damage, d4 Flurry damage)

  • Open Hand Technique - When you hit an enemy with Flurry of Blows, choose one of the following:
    • DEX save or knocked prone
    • STR save or pushed 15 feet away
    • Can't take reactions until end of your next turn.

Level 4
(3 Rages 3 KP +2 Rage damage, d4 Flurry damage)

  • Ability score increase

Level 5 (3 Rages 4 KP +2 Rage damage, d4 Flurry damage)

  • Extra Attack
  • Fast movement - Speed increases to 40' when not wearing heavy armor (Which you can't wear anyway)

Level 6
(3 Rages 5 KP +2 Rage damage, d4 Flurry damage)

  • "Wholeness of Body" - As action, gain 3x lvl HP. Once per long rest. (Local woman too drunk to die)

Level 7 (3 Rages 6 KP +2 Rage damage, d6 Flurry damage)

  • "Evasion" - Passing a CON save vs an AOE attack nullifies all damage, instead of 1/2 (Air quotes because this is tanking a direct hit. Save switched to CON to keep in line with concept)

Level 8 (3 Rages 6 KP +3 Rage damage, d6 Flurry damage)

  • Ability score increase

Level 9 (3 Rages 7 KP +3 Rage damage, d6 Flurry damage)

  • Brutal Critical - Roll an additional weapon damage die on a critical hit.

Level 10
(4 Rages 8 KP +3 Rage damage, d6 Flurry damage)

  • "Purity of Body" - You are immune to disease and poison. (The alcohol hasn't killed you yet, a bit of venom won't start)


This out to be sufficient, I think. I suspect from a purist's standpoint there are balance issues but I'm already playing a character who has exactly 0 qualms about kidney punches and breaking kneecaps.