The other entries in this unofficial series may be found here:
Space habitats will outnumber inhabited planets by a ratio of thousands to one, so here are some places to visit on your next trip across the 'Sphere.
House of Precise Thought
The universe is filled with small communities that exist to prove a point. Some are good, some are bad, all of them are started because someone, somewhere, wanted a place where their vision for the human experience could have somewhere to breathe.
The particular peccadillo of the House's founders was an experiment with language - how to render human communication maximally precise, with no opportunity for error, misunderstanding, or loss of nuance between thought and word. To that end the founders instituted a constructed language (descended in a large part from the old philosophical experiment Ithkuil) that is so complex and so precise that it requires computerized assistance via cyberbrain to speak it. As nearly all of the population of the House speaks the Language as their primary and only tongue, visitors will need to either download the translation programming into their own cyberbrains or use a computerized interpreter. This is precisely as aggravating as one might expect, and visitors tend to leave feeling like their brains are melting out of their ears.
Unfortunately, odd little communities with idiosyncratic customs are common targets for conspiracy, and in this too the House has become target. Conspiracy theories abound on the system internet - kidnappings and brainwashings, venturing off into wilder accusations of "language plagues" and and body doubles of famous individuals. The current spotlight is aimed at the children's television program "Ren Atkhla's Wonderful World", which, despite being a sincere, low-budget educational program on a public broadcast channel, has attracted the ire of conservative talking heads across the system and beyond, who decry it as a subversive danger set on undermining civilization.
A heavy industrial platform harvesting gaseous lithium and other metals from the atmosphere of a brown dwarf via magnetic funnels. Thanks to a complex knot of war and economics unravelling in nearby systems, the station's owners became extraordinarily rich overnight (having found themselves suddenly the main supplier in the middle of a critical rare metals shortage), and this has manifested in blowing it all. L-Town overflows with lavish (gaudy, tacky) decoration over its rough industrial skeleton. Luxuries are imported by the shipping container. Cutting-edge consumer tech sits as scenery, unused. The boss in his whalefur suit still touts "small-corp values", but the workforce are swiftly becoming fed up with the cronyism and unfair distribution of the wealth.
Plus, the good times will not last forever - the war will cool down, the market will stabilize, and L-Town will lose its position as the only game in town. Creditors love to come calling that time of year.
An ordinary D-type asteroid that has been colonized by a particularly hardy strain of self-replicating alien fast food restaurant. Around 60% of the surface has been claimed by the restaurants, and preliminary surveys with ground-penetrating radar have indicated certain tower blocks that extend tens of kilometers down. Native bio- or mechanospheres are commonplace, descended from maintenance bots, protein cultures, runaway hydroponic gardens and so on. Roughly 1-in-4 restaurant clusters is inert and unpowered (that is, deceased), with most of these being broken down and repurposed by detritivorous franchises
The site has proven a gold mine for xenologists and adventurers, and the upper levels of several of the more-habitable complexes have been converted into living areas and base camps for delving expeditions. Many of the restaurants are operational, it is not recommended that anyone order due to the high chance of deadly biochemical incompatibilities (this stops no one - it is a sport among delvers to find the strangest looking or tasting foods in hidden holes-in-the-wall)
Hodgson Industries M-Series Depot
Wherever you may find yourself in the Expansion Sphere, odds are good that you'll be within hailing distance of a Hodgson. For centuries the M-series depots have offered a cheap place to rest, refuel, and repair, and not much more than that. A skeleton crew of androids is present, but by and large the operation is self-serve. In more populated systems they will quickly be outclassed, but on the frontier there are plenty of lonely places where the Hodgson Depot is the only sign of human civilization.
As the stations are built from template, if you've seen one of them you have likely seen all of them. Age and aftermarket modifications can add some variables into the mix, but barring major renovations everything will be in the same place and look the same way. Most veteran spacers could navigate through one with their eyes closed.
This sameness can be quite uncanny, when you're out on the Rim and have had no contact with humanity outside of the local M-Series. Everything starts blurring together, months and years like water, and sooner or later you'll start thinking that the androids at a station you've never visited before remember your name.
The remains of an ancient alien dyson swarm, long since fallen into deterioration. The habitats have been non-operational for an estimated 3-5 million years, and orbital decay over that time frame has caused many to plunge into their sun, collide with each other, or get launched out of system, but that still leaves thousands of intact (if unpowered and unpressurized) habitats. The local population of spacers and 0-G adapts tend to live in smaller habitats that cling barnacle-like to the hulls or interiors of Gravesphere units, built out of scrap or their own ships. A few bands of reclaimers have imported atmosphere and settled in sealed internal segments of the Sphere, but the majority believe this to be a good way to get yourself haunted..
No intact computer data, cultural artifacts, or biological specimens have been found. The Gravesphere is as empty and silent as its name. Delvers keep on going in the hopes that they will find a habitat that still has power, or better yet some clues to the Sphere's builders, but so far there has been nothing.
A run-of-the-mill superjovian has become one of the biggest moneymakers in the Expansion Sphere thanks to an impressive storm system in its southern hemisphere, a bit of gospel grift, and Delphi station. The planet was already a major trade hub, sitting along multiple high-bandwidth hyperspace routes. Lots of people, lots of wealth, lots of wealthy people coming through. And so a down-and-out office drone in one of the corporate habitats spruced up an unpublished maniscript of his and founded a religion. Two decades later, he's one of the richest single individuals in the Sphere (Great Houses excluded)
Delphi is intended as a temple for the Storm Oracle, a great and ancient alien intelligence that lives in the endless storms above. Pilgrims come from near and far across the space-lanes come to have their auras and futures read in the electromagnetic radiation and the swirls of the orange-cream clouds. Secondary industries - relics, hospitality, meditation retreats, aura cleanses, theological symposiums - have sprung up like mushrooms. Major holostars and heads of state proudly display their membership medallions and trinkets of their visits to Delphi. Skeptics grind their molars to dust in frustration, desperately pointing at falsified proofs and doctored narratives, of the obvious scam of it all.
But somewhere in the back of your mind, you feel some certain kernel of truth, that the Oracle speaks...
The resort world of Taihiji is supposed to be a secluded little paradise. It absolutely is: volcanic atolls dot warm tropical seas, coral reefs that stretch out for thousands of kilometers. The sort of place where you have to scrimp and save for a decade just to afford a weekend at one of the lower-tier resorts.
Complicating matters is the fact that the planet's single space elevator is controlled by the Taihiji Concierge and Porters' Union and is now entering its third year of blockade. There's no infrastructure planetside for shuttle launches (environmental protections), which means that the vacationers and staff of the island resorts have been forced into subsistence fishing to survive. The Union has threatened orbital bombardment (using confiscated luggage shot through a repurposed mass driver) or destruction of the elevator if outside forces intervene. They will permit docking for vessels flying the colors of allied unions for resupplies, but keeps a close watch on such events for corporate infiltrators.
Annuaki Tree of Life Ashram
The Tree of Life Ashram is one of countless tiny habitats tucked away in Kuiper Belts across the Sphere - even in the Core, it's easy enough to get a pocket of isolation all to yourself. It's not much more than a small rotating barrel buried in a nondescript icy body, just enough to keep a couple dozen people self-sufficient out in the black end of nowhere, but it is enough.
The cult that makes its home here is not particularly new or exciting: Aliens visited Earth in the ancient past to teach humans secret spiritual wisdom, Jesus of Nazareth (among other luminaries) was one of them, following the teachings of the cult will allow one to unlock their spiritual potential and move up through the stages and a lot more about energy and harmonic resonance and so on. The cult's leader, one Father Elijah Abdullah Ksitigarbha (birth name Maxwell Lee), claims to be a embodied inhabitant of the upper spiritual realms, here to aid the chosen in ascending to perfect communion with the god-head through a haphazard cobbling together of old Earth belief systems. As typical for this kind of thing, the cult preys on vulnerable populations and serves as a mechanism for widespread emotional and sexual abuse among its members. Father Elijah has a great many justifications for why he, a spiritual being beyond the material world, is owed a harem of his favorites among the believers.
He promises that his disciples will receive new, spiritually perfected, deathless bodies once they achieve the highest level of spirit-power - and this promise he can actually fulfill. There is a sapling of [XENOFORMER 01] in the habitat, and with patience and experimentation, Father Elijah is learning how to direct it. Were it not for a breakaway member of the cult sending the message out to inner system authorities, no one would have known.
Proud of this one.ReplyDelete
Tried translating a phrase into ithkuil as a goof. It was a complete failure.
The public demands more Kosmoborgar.ReplyDelete
L-Town and Hodgson might be my favourites, especially L-Town. There's a lot you can do in DMing terms with a boom town.ReplyDelete