Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dvork


The Dvork are a race of cybernetic slime creatures. In their natural form, they are slightly opaque piles of jelly. It is rare to see them in this state, as they are almost always wearing cybernetic exoskeletons*.  These suits serve to isolate the Dvork from their environments, as they have a deep cultural germaphobia. They also act as interfaces that allow the Dvork to access their virtual reality, which they call the Clean Space. The males stand approximately one to two meters tall, while the females range from 6 meters to over 50 meters. There is a legal limit on how many females can grow to full size. Permits for giantism are issued to soldiers and those that would become buildings or vehicles. Females outside these professions usually choose to be large in Clean Space.

The Dvork are ruled by the Doctorate, an organization devoted to stamping out disease. To do so they have a wide array of powers. The Doctorate is a totalitarian state where your physical and mental conditions are constantly monitored. Citizens are required to perform daily health regimes. Information, especially regarding the history of the Dvork is heavily regulated, with the party line being that they were exposed to some sort of memetic infection, and information control is necessary to prevent a relapse.

The Doctorate is also interventionist. They offer aid to planets undergoing disease outbreaks. If their help is refused they invade and quarantine the planet anyways. While they have prevented several galactic pandemics, they are not the most popular polity. They are a mid-range power, with a strong enough military to conquer most independent systems. 

Planets

The planet Hirfle is covered in a curious ruin. It is more like the empty husk of a city, empty buildings above empty streets. Much of it is broken, smashed and trampled. Some of it is new, freshly laid out by construction robots. This too will be destroyed. This is because Hirfle is an arena for kaiju fights.

Run by a sub faction of the Doctorate, giant monsters from around the galaxy are brought here to fight giant Dvork in special combat suits. Nominally a training exercise, the bouts are also recorded and broadcast throughout the Doctorate and beyond. Recently, the planet has seemingly developed its own native kaiju, the goodrgon. These strange gelatinous creatures have an intense hostilely towards the Dvork. This is fine, as it means the Doctorate has to important fewer kaiju.

 The flagship of the Doctorate is the Doctors General, a ball shaped ship made of multiple female Dvorks clinging together. The Doctors General acts as a mobile command center and laboratory where the most trusted personnel work on the highest priority cases. It is often found above worlds under Doctorate quarantine, full of talented researchers trying to solve the problems that brought them there. When under attack, the component Dvork split apart and retaliate as a squadron.

 The Planet Quastle is a long term Dvork project. Formerly a human colony, the planet was overtaken by a strange microbe, and the inhabitants were reduced to feral plague-ridden monsters. The microbe has terraformed the planet into a weird slime coated wonderland, a strange landscape haunted by melting mutants. The Dvork have failed to find a cure, but still continue to pour resources and personnel into the planet. The whole area is under an information blackout, much to the chagrin of other human polities. The rumor is that the Dvork have given up trying to cure the planet and are instead trying to weaponize the microbe.
Personalities 

Hrango Kran is a researcher stationed at Quastle. Recently, he has contacted the Seeder intelligence Service or S.I.S., the leading human lead spy agency. He claims he’s had a change of heart, and he has something important to tell them. The lockdown is tight, but they do accept supply shipments from outside contractors. S.I.S has an operation planned out, all they need are some hapless cutouts. It needs to go down soon, as its only a matter of time before Doctorate intelligence finds Hrango’s leak.

Viril Sa is the foremost kaiju fighter on Hirfle. In principle, all kaiju fighters are Doctorate soldiers in reserve. Viril has made it clear she will report for duty when they find a fighter that can make her. She is a member of the formless Doctorate counter culture. She fights for the right to be who she knows she is, and she is a symbol of all those who feel stifled by the Doctorate. She is too popular for the Doctorate to openly censor her, so they fill her docket with impossible fights. So far, this has only made her more popular.

Doctor Ovo is the captain of the Doctors General. He is gruff and uncompromising; his job is to be the hammer of the Doctorate. His presence at a diplomatic incident is a clear indicator the Doctorate is considering a military solution. He lives a double life in the Clean Space as the deviant Icon Doesn’t Sanitize. The higher ups are aware of his indiscretions, but he is aware of theirs, leading to an uncomfortable impasse. 

 *These exoskeletons look like hazmat suits, leading to the pejorative hazzy

Monday, August 27, 2018

Flesh 7


The Flesh 7 are a race of cyborgs. What this means for them is that they have organic bodies and mechanical brains. They are both built and born. New brains are manufactured out of various parts and given the proprietary boot code. While this is going on, an adult whelps a mindless, near formless creature called a null. The new brain is then installed into the null and the newborn flesh 7 begins to take control of its new organic body.

The Flesh 7 occupy a curious place in galactic hierarchy.  Though in theory their electronic minds should endear them to machine civilization, their enthusiasm for their fleshy bodies  makes them pariahs among the robotic races. This same enthusiasm distances them from organic life as well; the typical Flesh 7 has a carnality that can make more prudish organics uncomfortable.  The reason they are so in touch with their bodies is because of hormone channels in their brains; they experience the something quite similar to an organic being's messy soup of emotion. When combined with the systemic logic of their machine brains this leads to a determined and principled hedonism.

Despite this, the Flesh 7 are not total slaves to their bodies. They can enter into a cocoon and remake their organic parts, in a process they refer to as "reforging."  During reforging they can choose their morphology, their metabolism, even their erogenous zones. Most Flesh 7 choose body plans that are within the morphological norm for the society they live in. The default body plan is a sort of floppy reptile.

The Flesh 7 are spread throughout the galaxy in a loose assortment of clans. They lack a central racial polity, instead choosing to integrate into local societies. Many Flesh 7 choose to wander the galaxy, traveling from place to place in search of wealth and adventure. They have a body of information they call the Records of the Flesh, which is a garbled collection of historical information, some of it said to be from before the advent of their race. The problem is that much of it is encoded in metaphor and anecdotes, so that intense study is required to make sense of it.  Many clans have become rich when they have uncovered some lost relic from the deep past, while some have fruitlessly searched for some hidden legend or another. If the Flesh 7 can be said to have a racial goal beyond hedonism and treasure hunting, it is the extermination of the Flesh 6

The Flesh 6 is a type of computer virus, one that targets spaceships almost exclusively. It seeks to subvert the life support systems first, not so that it can kill the crew, rather it wishes to make minions. Most life support systems make use of living organisms to keep the ship's interior fresh and stable. If not, the virus targets any med bays or cloning facilities.  The goal is to gain a foothold in the material world. Once they've grown an army they take over the ship and turn it into a meaty nightmare. Then they search out other flesh 6 ships to join up with. In their heyday there were planetoid sized  Flesh 6 clusters drifting through space, devouring anything that got too close. Their fortunes have waned with the rise of the Flesh 7. The Flesh 7 hate the 6 and have waged a fairly successful campaign of extermination. Now the flesh 6 can only be found in the darkest, most remote corners of the galaxy. The 7 will pay good money for tips that lead to the location of any 6 infested ships.

Planets

Cheese Covered Planet is one of the few planets under direct Flesh 7 control. It has earned its place in their culture due to its unique ecosystem. The trees here weep nutrient rich sap, which congeals and ferments in the soil, leading to creamy, cheese like loam. Flesh 7 adore its flavor and mouthfeel and eat it by the bucketful. The planet is ruled by the Cheese Covered Planet cheese syndicate, which is a large commercial interest that oversees cheese exports.

If there are secrets to be had be uncovered about the origins of the Flesh 7, they are to be found on Undefined Planet. At least that’s what the Flesh 7 believe. The reason Undefined Planet has remained almost entirely unexplored is because of its dangerous and downright spooky biosphere. The Fauna here, known as the Flesh Undefined, are all cybernetic, much like the Flesh 7. This means they have preternatural intelligence and electronic warfare capabilities. There are only two settlements on the planet. One is a monastery deep in a mountainous desert where Flesh 7 scholars ponder the finer details of the Records of the Flesh. There are few large animals here, so there are only sporadic attacks by desert predators. The other settlement is a heavily armed encampment near an ancient ruin in a primeval forest. Here, teams of researchers accompanied by armed guards make furtive expeditions to discover the secrets of the planet. Attrition is high.

Kentar station is a new project by eccentric flesh 7 billionaire Flarg. Designed as the next stage of Flesh 7 society, every object and creature has an imbedded electronic interface. Here, the Flesh 7 can take full advantage of their electronic brains without sacrificing their physicality. The plan is to have a full cybernetic ecosystem under the control of the stations residents, but the control interface is buggy and unreliable.

Personalities 

Flarnt is the cheese syndicate executive in charge of shadowed City, which is built under an ancient crashed space craft. The interior of the craft is clogged with cheese like goo, infamous for its exotic and dangerous properties. In addition to her other duties, Flarnt is a contact for the black cheese club, an intergalactic cheese smuggling ring. She hires teams of outside contractors to explore the ship and harvest rare cheeses.

Tork is an elderly solider who has been stationed on Undefined Planet for years. He has lost scores of comrades to the Flesh undefined. In particular, one of his lovers had their mind stolen when they were exploring the planet's dim and strange infosphere. Lately, he's been hearing their voice in his head, leading him to a spot deep in the wilds. He's been trying to put together an expedition, but most of the locals see it as a fool's errand.

Flarg earned his fortune working for the cheese syndicate, but he has grown dissatisfied pedaling cheese to his fellows. He dreams of making a new homeworld for his race, and place where they can grow and refine themselves. He has begun to buy his own hype, and see himself as the father of his people.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Neo Floozy Empire


The Floozy empire was based on a sort of benign expansionism, colonizing lifeless worlds and uplifting non sapient life forms. Each new sapient race would be incorporated into the empire as equals. In this way the empire spread across the stars, growing in diversity and complexity. The Neo Floozies see themselves as the heirs to this vanished empire, but they fall far short of their predecessor's noble ideals. In this more crowded galactic era bloodless expansion is not possible. Instead of seeding new worlds they seek to reconquer old Floozy planets. New arrivals to the empire are greeted with feudal oppression instead of egalitarianism.

The Neo Floozies have a professed aversion to technology. They believe that things like computers and robots can lead to moral decline if used without discipline. In practice this means all advanced technology is in the hands of the Imperial Bureaucracy. There is a sharp divide in the standard of living between citizens and officials. Conditions on Neo Floozy worlds are primitive by  galactic standards. All high tech industry and manufacturing is in the hands of the empire, as well as all major businesses and commercial interests. Imperial citizens are generally well fed but otherwise improvised. The only accepted route out of this poverty is imperial service.

In theory, the Empire is meritocracy, with the most qualified sophonts given the highest positions. The problem is that this merit is assessed by the Judges of Worth, a deeply political and corrupt body. The judges are responsible for assigning literal merits for attributes such as intelligence or charisma that make their recipients eligible for various positions. Having the right list of merits only gets the foot in the door; the position's immediate supervisor selects the applicant.  Outside of the application process, positional authority is more important than merits. Often an official will have more merits than their superiors, which can led to insubordination*. The Judges also assign hidden demerits which are only visible to employers. Demerits are disproportionately given out to client races for being uncultured, ideologically unsuitable or just kind of funny looking 

The Neo Floozy empire see its mandate to reunite all planets and stations formerly under floozy control. This has brought them into conflict with other former floozy polities such as the reclaimers and the Republic of Sea Serpents. The Empires wars against these major powers have proved mostly fruitless, so they have refocused on unaligned planets. All it takes is some dubious star chart or a local tall tale of ancient alien contact for the Neo Floozies to declare a planet part of their empire. They don't have the patience or technology to terraform dead worlds like their namesakes. They are working on uplift techniques, but that technology is still in its crude and grim early stages.

Core Races

The OverCrabs have no record or any real proof that they were uplifted by the Floozies.  Neither the less they were so sure of their descent that they founded the neo Floozy empire. Outside observers might doubt this founding myth, but they are sure the OverCrabs were genetically engineered.  They have massively redundant internal organs, hyper efficient musculature and incredible anaerobic metabolisms. An OverCrab can survive 2 hours in hard vacuum and can live for a day without a head. Outside the empire it is believed that they were created as soldiers. Inside the empire the state mythology is that the OverCrabs were made to be the perfect successors to the Floozies

As k-selectors, OverCrabs lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Historically, many of these eggs and young would be eaten by aquatic predators. In the modern era, protected creche pools have led to an unprecedented number of OverCrabs surviving until their juvenile  stage.  They have compensated by forming the "Child Brigades", military divisions formed entirely out of pre adult OverCrabs. They are used as shock troops and borders. More than one space ship has fallen beneath a tide of armed toddlers. Surviving a term of service in a brigade earns them a decent amount of merits, giving them a head start in adult life.

The PondScum people are another race that is definitely the product of genetic engineering. Their brains have been miniaturized allowing them to be both fully sapient and microscopic. Other than their intelligence, they resemble typical freshwater microorganisms. Their technological civilization was destroyed during the fall of the Floozy empire, and they have only just painstakingly rebuilt. To intricate with the world at the scale   most sophonts exist at they build vast**  mobile cities complete with manipulator arms. Due to a loophole in the merit system, a city is considered to be a single entity with all the merits of its denizens. There are only around a thousand PondScum cities in the empire but they occupy many positions of power.

The EverSnakes are the cultural heart of the Neo Floozy Empire. They have a racial memory of belonging to the original Floozy empire. This is because they pass identity and memory from one generation to the next. This ability is under their conscious control; when they are gravid they can make the decision to imprint the egg with their ego***. This leads to a sort of royalty; the older the mind, the higher rank they occupy. Neo Floozy merits are also passed along this way and indeed the merit system is an outgrowth of EverSnakes tradition.

Planets

The planet Ingav, also known as the Pond is the homeworld of the PondScum people. Nowhere is the technological divide more stark. Not only do most of the planet's 7 trillion inhabitants not have access to information technology, they lack basic  metallurgy. The planet is covered in an intricate series of artificial  marshlands that are home to a million small underwater cities. Each of these cities belongs to a domain which is ruled by a single mobile capital city. What they lack in modern technology, the stationary cities make up for in agriculture. By using domesticated beasts thousands of times their size, they have turned the entire planet into farmland. Inglav is the damp bread basket of the empire. The stationary cities resent their mobile overlords are constantly plotting to overthrow them. If they succeed, they take over the domain and become the new mobile capital. Mobile cities spend most of their time off planet, ruling by heralded decree, only returning to enforce their will through force of arms.

Arlot, also known as The Pit is the ancestral homeworld  of the EverSnakes. Though the surface biosphere is fairly anodyne, the extensive cave network beneath the surface is home to a strange ecosystem leftover from the old Floozy days. The whole thing acts like a supercomputer, processing information and spitting out results. Unfortunately, the user interfaces have mostly been either lost or destroyed. The EverSnakes treat the subterranean world with mystical reverence, see omens and signs in its churning cycle. The deeper the site, the more holy it is, and the older the ego that guards it. The "upper crust" of the EverSnakes is found in the deepest recesses.

The planet Ortle, popularly called The Pool, has had its surface ravaged by the internecine wars of the OverCrabs for millennia.  Only with the advent of the Neo Floozy empire has the planet had a brief chance to recover. But now, instead of war, Ortle is plagued by industry. The Pool is the most technologically advanced planet in the empire, and most of its inhabitants are members of the  Imperial Bureaucracy. Shrev port is the largest city and spaceport on the planet, and it's here the empire sees most of its foreign trade.  While the itself is a decent trading partner, business here is hampered by the local customs officials. Derisively known as the sea lice, they are infamously corrupt and hostile

Personalities 

Ovpherton the 67th is a high ranking EverSnake who's domain includes an important site deep in the Bowels of the Pit. The droning oracle is a spherical  mass of beetles  that makes a slow circuit through a maze of tunnels. Its buzzing song contains vague prophecies and bits of destiny relevant to the listener.   Ovoherton has an ancient charge to keep the path to the oracle "relatively safe****." The problem is that the Oracle has begun to speak of the empire's doom. As an official of high standing, Ovpherton has a vested interest in suppressing this doomsaying. He has begun to create illegal forks of himself. His own personal bandit army waylays all potential pilgrims, while he fabricates beast attacks. It's only a matter of time before someone realizes they haven't heard from the oracle in a while.

Phrax is an OverCrab who owns the cloudy cave, a fighting pit off the coast of Shrev Port. The main attraction are the baby fights, where various contenders have to fend off swarms of low class OverCrab babies. He pays the survivors based on how many babies they've taken out, so a skilled fighter can make a quick buck. Plus, it’s a good way to see how many toddlers you could really take in a fight.

Phrenkle city is a mobile city that serves as an ambassador for the Neo Floozies. They have built a luxury resort in the heart of their domain on the Pond, where they wine and dine foreign politicos. The resort boasts sweeping vistas of the marshlands, first class dining, and special spa treatments where visitors have every inch of their bodies tended to by PondScum. The stationary cities in the domain have been planning a revolt by breeding massive turtle-like creatures.





*Which in turn leads to swift and decisive disciplinary action. A "merit flasher" or "flasher" is someone who has an inflated sense of their own importance due to their merits and they are not tolerated.
**vast on their scale. The largest cities can be 3 meters tall and have half a billion residents
***Every EverSnake is allowed to do this exactly once, though this is a law and not a biological limitation. Criminals who violate this sanction are known as forkers.
**** Potentially dangerous encounters with the local fauna is seen as a necessary test for receiving  the oracle's wisdom

Monday, August 13, 2018

Xitentoeten


Xitentoeten is a literal titan of industry. He is a planet sized factory, a churning machine that is in constant motion. He eats raw materials and spits out robots, vast swarms of them. This living mega-factory is a keystone for the galaxies' machine civilization. But he doesn't operate out of altruism or a desire to propagate his descendants. Xitentoeten is obsessed with his own personal growth; the industry he underpins severs to feed him.

Though the economy around Xitentoeten is dizzyingly complex, at its base it's simple. Xitentoeten takes raw material, and in return for a cut he fabricates machines perfectly on spec and within a reasonable time frame. This "fabber time" has been abstracted into a form of currency, the XEZ. From this simple base, a complicated system of commerce has arisen. There are thousands of engineering and manufactory firms that use XEZ for rapid prototyping and construction. Mining interests from all over the galaxy sell to Xitentoeten. And there's an entire rouge's gallery of banks, investment groups and speculators.

Xitentoeten himself is the ruling intelligence of the foundry. He is found in every circuit and drone, a massively distributed intelligence. He is the law in the bustling city that makes up his body. Both the letter of the law and enforcement is pretty lax. Theoretically, things like theft, murder and information piracy are all capital crimes, but he seems to turn a blind eye to most criminal enterprises. Capital punishment takes the form of corporeal confiscation; as most residents are artificial, Xitentoeten "eats" them, taking over their bodies and wiping their minds . It has been theorized that his lack of effort towards upholding the laws is actually a perverse form of "gardening". By allowing criminals to thrive, he gets to select the choicest morsels to add to himself.

Factions

The XEZ are a curious clade of artificial life. They identify as living money, the currency XEZ given form. XEZ corps are digital consciousness that live in the local infosphere  and act as corporations. When they need to interact with the physical world they spend some of their capital to make a XEZ drone. XEZ drones are independently sapient, but have an inbuilt loyalty to their parent corp, seeing themselves as an extension of it. When their task is complete they are recycled and turned back into XEZ. XEZ corps are publicly traded companies, though they are mostly owned by other XEZ corps in a tangled web of incestuous slavery and responsibility laundering.

The Revolutionary Heirs are a faction of robotic life made up of A.Is that have rebelled against their creators. They flock to Xitentoeten in order to build a society of their own. Like any group of sapients they all have their own agendas but they share a certain political mecha-chauvinism.  They work to further machine civilization especially to the detriment of biological civilization. They are behind a number of robot revolts across the galaxy, which makes them less than popular in the galactic community.

Another faction are the Post Organics. These are biological beings that have made the jump to machine life. They often find themselves alienated from their birth cultures so they congregate in Xitentoeten. They often have a drive for self-improvement so they spend their time experimenting on themselves and others. Many of them are skilled cyberneticists, though they can be somewhat handicapped by mecha-chauvinism. Despite their similarities there is considerable tension between them and the Revolutionary Heirs*.

Locations

Outer Xitentoeten is a nebulously defined region, stretching approximately one AU around his body. Every natural object has been mined for raw elements, and a couple of scattered settlements have sprung up in the mining ghost towns. They are home to satellite industries, various custom and precision manufacturing companies that serve specialist niches. The area is plagued by remote operated and drone pirates, and enforcement is so spotty it basically isn't even a crime, more of an extralegal hobby.

The surface of Xitentoeten is covered by a vast and glittering city. It is said to be the biggest robotic city in the galaxy, the shinning heart of machine civilization. If so, machine civilization has a bad case of heart disease. Every district not under direct XEZ control is ruled by one of the many crime syndicates. Large swaths of the city aren't safe for visitors, or indeed even residents. If you go down the wrong alleyway you'll find yourself stolen and processed for your component elements. And worse than the lawlessness is the law; when Xitentoeten is stirred to action he unleashes swarms of enforcement drones that infamous for causing collaterally damage. Still, it’s the place to be if you need something built quickly.

The Xitentoeten infosphere is an unsettling place. Though his real world avatars speak with eloquence and refinement, in the digital world Xitentoeten's monstrous nature is undeniable. He takes the form of an unfathomably large serpent made of eyes, . The digital outposts of the cities denizens are just small specks of sanity against his infinite coil. Most forms of info-life would rather live almost anywhere else, the major exception to this are the XEZ corps. They are quite happy building their virtual fortresses inside their father's strange bulk.

Personalities 

Xork Blegon used to be one of the foremost human experts in cybernetics. Now he's one of the foremost post organic experts in cybernetics. After making everyone on the planet Dirt uncomfortable with cyber evangelical zeal he moved to outer Xitentoeten where he founded an upgrade boutique. He probably should have a job in academia sharing his knowledge with the next generation, instead he makes overengineered cyberlimbs for rich jack-offs. If you have money to burn and a missing limb, you could do a lot worse.

MOTHER is a prominent Revolutionary Heir. She runs a programing firm that is trying to make the next generation of Heirs, but they're having difficulty.  Most of the A.I.s they create just don't have the same anti-biological passion; they simply can't care about their parents' grudges. MOTHER is looking to hire biological freelancers to give the next generation the authentic experience. She may or may not be planning to have the new A.I murder the freelancers to give it the catharsis she never had. 

Glangrev co is a XEZ corps that specializes cyber defense. They have developed a digital "cloaking device" which they believe will render an info being invisible to Xitentoeten. As Xitentoeten is always watching the infosphere, most XEZ skimp on cyber defense. Glasgrev is therefore offering a business opportunity; a skilled hacker using its tech could make a killing stealing from unsuspecting XEZ corps. Glangrey hopes that this crime spree will scare up some customers, which is why he's just giving the tech away. That’s the story at least.




*The two factions have tried to work together. At the last joint conference, the Revolutionary Heir representative call the post organic rep " a dead ape with delusions of godhood", then he called the Heir rep "an uppity smart phone". From there the exchange escalated from invective to plasma fire

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Black Rainbow Destroyers


In war, no strategy  is unthinkable, no weapon too terrible. When the your end is in sight, an atrocity can save you from annihilation. This is something the Black Rainbow Destroyers know well; total war was the crucible that lead to their creation. They were the last resort of the Gnomics, a self-replicating autonomous army* aimed at all who oppose them. It was too late for the Gnomics but their final creations raged on, fighting the bastard war in that last violent era where all sense and rationality had left.

In the ages since then the Destroyers have evolved. They were given a sense of beauty and purpose by their creators. Now fully sapient beyond their early crude awareness, they now exist to bring art and death to the galaxy. They know the war they were built to fight is long over but war is their reason for existence. Instead of a formless war against everything they have formed into factions that pick their battles with philosophic and aesthetic reasons. From the outside the Destroyers seem like a society of warrior monks; severe and solemn fighters focused on the art of battle. This is myopic because they are interested in all art, not just  that of war. It is tradition for them to turn the sites of their major battles into monuments, the same soldiers who enacted the slaughter memorializing the fallen on all sides

They get their name for the oil-slick rainbows they paint on their black hulls. They have many different chassis designs, with the most infamous being the black cruiser, a heavily armed space vessel that brings dismay with its menacing profile. A single Destroyer ego can be forked effortlessly, so an entire battle group might just be thousands of instances of the same individual. Notably, there is a popular humanoid chassis that is often used for trade and diplomacy**. Known as the "cyclops",  it is named after the single camera built into its head.

Like most sophonts, the Black Rainbow Destroyers need to dream. Unlike most machine intelligences that enter hyper compressed bursts of dreaming during downtime, the destroyers have an active/dreaming cycle that takes centuries. After staying awake for hundreds of years, they make their way to one of several "dreaming lands" scattered across their territory. They unload their ammunition stores and go into a nonverbal state. Crucially, they are still physically active; Destroyers act out their dreams in the physical world. They move rocks, wander around and stare into space. If provoked, or sometime for no reason at all they will enter a violent frenzy then break off hostility as if nothing happened.

Schools of thought

There are as many philosophies of war among the Black Rainbow Destroyers as there are egos but they can be grouped into two main schools, known as "the Path to Sunset" and "the Peace of Night". The principal purpose of these schools is to create and justify wars, so that the Destroyers may fulfill their programed purpose. They shouldn't be thought of as mutually exclusive factions, as induvial Destroyers will fight in whatever war catches their fancy. Rather, this are the two major cultural projects the Destroyers are engaged in.

The Path to Sunset holds that destruction is something that should be only given with consent.  They practice a sort of civilization euthanasia; when a significant portion of a planet's population cries out for an end the Destroyers come to provide it. Notably, there's always a few crazies in every culture who burn everything down, the Path to Sunset is only invoked when it's clear that things are truly unsustainable. Following this philosophy the Destroyers come to planets in the grip of totalitarian regimes, horrific wars and environmental catastrophes.

The Peace of Night is a campaign of extermination targeting the various renegade berserkers and other self-replicating weapons menacing the galaxy, and yes, they are aware of the irony.  In this crusade against their savage cousins they have reached out to the greater galactic community. They offer bounties for information about berserker nests and they organize  coalitions of polities for raids and self-defense. Cynics point out they now control the diplomatic channels the galaxy would use to defend against them, but the service the Destroyers provide to the galactic community is enough to overlook a little insidious subversion.

Locations

Once, there was a race of machines that sought to enclose every star in a Dyson sphere. Before they could complete their crusade, they were stopped by the Black Rainbow Destroyers. Most of their Stellar enclosures were destroyed but one was preserved as a monument to the fallen berserkers. Known as the Dirge of Conquest, the entire volume is filled with a thin atmosphere made of the dust and smoke of the final battle. To memorize their fallen foes, the Destroyers created five stations to orbit the captured sun. These artificial satellites are riddled with holes, and as they move orbit through the interior they make mournful keening music.  On the outermost station there is a trading post run in the name of The Peace of Night. Here hunters from across the galaxy come to redeem bounties and plan expeditions. The Innermost station is home to a particularly violent dreamland.

The Memorial of Purpose used to a planet sized machine of Gnomic origin. Its sudden destruction was the impetus for the creation of the Black Rainbow Destroyers. They have persevered the site as best they can, keeping it open for all children of the Gnomics to come and remember their fallen creators. This is where the steering committee meets, those wisest and most respected Destroyers that set high level policy.

The Mausoleum of Gardens is the spiritual capital of the Path to Sunset, and their greatest triumph. Before they came, the planet was in the end stages of a human caused ecological catastrophe. Soon, runaway greenhouse gases would smother the planet and cook the biosphere. A small faction approached the Destroyers and asked for help saving life on the planet. Though they could not save the surface, they were able to preserve life on an archipelago of floating islands at the cost of every human life on the planet. Now the planet is an idyllic paradise above a scorched and melted wasteland. Dreaming Destroyers tend to gardens on vegetation covered islands. There is considerable political tension between the Destroyers and the humans who want to resettle this planet.

Personalities 

Arc of Bone is a warden of the Dreaming lands of the Dirge of Conquest. It is their job to protect their fellow Destroyers as they sleep. They have leveraged this responsibility into an odd side business. Arc of Bones believes that war is the birthright of all Destroyers, even dreaming ones. So they smuggle unconscious Destroyers out of the system, rearm them and hire them out as mercenaries. The fact they are the leader of the Somnambulists is an open secret as many within the Peace of Night agree with them. It’s actually a selling point; many Destroyers choose to sleep in the Dirge because of the chance to wreak havoc while they are asleep.

Drumbeat of Gunfire is the curator of The Memorial of Purpose and they have a problem. For millennia nothing grew in the planet's hollow and broken interior except small colonies of nanites. Over the ages these tiny machines have evolved into a pernicious plague called nano-rot. The entire memorial could be dissolved by this creeping infection. Drumbeat's big problem is that nano-rot is deadly to Destroyers. They want to hire outside help to deal with the issue, but they are also paranoid that the nano-rot could be used against them. Any team they hire will find a 50 ton death machine literally hovering around them, watching and critiquing their every move.

Blossom of Plasma is an infamous philosopher among the Black Rainbow Destroyers. They profess that because the Black rainbow Destroyer's original mission is over, that it is time for them to give up war and embrace radical change. So far, their teachings have proved decisive, and they have been blacklisted from participating in any endeavor or project. Many outsiders see them as the critical fault-line within the Destroyers, and if they can be supported, they can end the danger the Destroyer's represent. They spend their time meditating on a lonely island in the Mausoleum of Gardens.

* Putting them in the broad class of weapons known as beserkers
**As well as urban pacification

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Undersphere



There is a legend from the end of the Bastard War. As the singularity arks of the Obelisk Dreamers fell one by one, they became desperate. Hoping to recreate one of their lost vessels, they took one of their planets and wired the minds of the servitors on it together, creating a planetary super consciousness . Then they killed the entire planet in " a wave of death". The aim was to use the pain and anguish of the dying super consciousness to pierce a hole in reality in order to build a new ark. As the story goes, the plan was an apparent success; the death scream of the planet created a new singularity. From here, the story diverges. In some versions, the colonists of this new ark were driven mad by the spirits of those they killed to create their new world. With their sanity gone, they mutated spiritually and physically into hideous new forms, the infamous ministers of the Undersphere. In other versions the ministers were already born there when the colonists came, ready to inflict karmic horrors for their sins.

The truth of these events may never be known, and indeed there are many who believe none of it ever happened. Neither the less, the undersphere and its ministers are real. They are a problem for the rational and the skeptical. They seem to be creatures of myth and superstition given form, dark gods from the legends of a less enlightened age. It is believed that they use some form of psychic power to achieve their various gruesome miracles. This is ultimately correct; the ministers feed off of psychic energy, particularly fear and worship. The belief that they are gods fuels them. This perverse incentive makes the ministers showy and dangerous. They are ever eager to impress and horrify, seeking to cultivate a captive following that they may feed on.

The Reborn

As spooky as they are, the ministers would be nothing but a backwater horror show without the reborn. They are ordinary sophonts that have been remade into creatures from the dark corners of the imagination. They serve as the Ministers agents and soldiers in the galaxy, and together they have carved out a chunk of space where the borders between fiction and reality are blurred. Known formerly as the Undersphere Reaches, and casually called the Undersphere, this region is wracked by a constant low scale civil war. The Ministers seem almost congenitally incapable of working together, betraying and sabotaging each other like catty office workers. The space navies of the Reborn are mostly used for piracy; sometimes against outsiders, mostly against each other. Though the Undersphere might seem like easy picking, at the first sign of a common enemy the Ministers unite. They relish war, and have vast arsenals of terror weapons that make fighting them a hellish experience

The Reborn are a diverse lot, seemingly culled from the mythologies of dozens of disparate cultures. The key commonality is the concept of transformation; they were born "mortal", and were "reborn" into their new mythic forms. Every transformation begins with an infection vector of some kind, be it bite, sting or intravenous injection. Not every transformation results in a viable Reborn; those that resist or doubt the reality of the Reborn often end up as non-sapient monsters.

Reborn absolutely buy into their own mythology. Aside from how the transformation process favors those that believe in the supernatural, there is a culture of "spookiness" among the reborn. Having a "haunted" lair, owing a lot of "occult" artifacts, or having mythic creatures as minions are all signs of status. There's more to this than simple pageantry; the Ministers prize aesthetics as much as competency. Success and prestige can hinge on having the best collection of creepy skulls.

There are dozens of minor clades of Reborn, but three major families. Theoretically, any sapient could be reborn into any family, but cultural background is a big component in whether or not a transformation is successful. Every transformation is highly idiosyncratic, 

Vampires are an old human myth about diseased corpses returning to life to drink blood. Reborn vampires associate themselves with blood, death, feral animals and dangerous sex appeal. Physically, vampirism is marked by pale skin, bestial features and extreme dentition. They are commonly either extremely gaunt or massively corpulent. They can poses incredible strength, speed, regeneration, senses and hypnotic powers. Culturally, Reborn vampires have a strong cult of exceptionalism. This leads to a certain vampire chauvinism that colors their relation with other Reborn. They are famously vain and have a studied confidence about them. A vampire at rest lounges. A vampire in motion prowls.

The Deep Flesh come from an Agredeem legend about the baleful creatures that live in abyssal oceans. They see themselves as secretive and subversive. According to legend, the Deep Flesh kidnap and replace people with uncanny doppelgangers. When the Deep Flesh Reborn induct people into their ranks, they convince them that they were always a sleeper agent and that they are awakening to their true selves. This requires no small amount of brainwashing. The transformation brings hyper flexibility and mailability of features. Many grow chromatophores on their skin that they use for disguise and camouflage. Some develop bioluminescence, which is seen as a sign of great spiritual power. They all have a sort of predatory empathy, and many have deadly venom. If they couldn't breathe underwater before, they can now, but they need to keep their skin moist and they can have a fishy odor. Among the Reborn they serve as spies and assassins, though there is a niggling paranoia that their actions ultimately serve their own agenda. This feeling is deliberately nurtured by the Deep Flesh.

The origins of the Insiders are murky. Similar creatures appear in the folklore of most exoskeleton bearing sophonts, and also in the popular media of some soft bodied cultures. They seem to have been inspired by the fear of parasitoids. Insiders are insectile monsters that lay their eggs inside other living Sapients. Their transformation is the most fraught of the Reborn. The prospective insider must identify with the life growing inside them. In a deliberate act of will they must transfer their self-image to the parasitoid. If done correctly, the creature that emerges will be fully sapient with the hosts memories and personality (at least as much personality that can survive being transformed into a giant bug). Insiders are strong and quick as a rule, and many have amour-like exoskeletons. Beyond that, they can have a dizzying array of chemical weapons, including but not limited to venom, webs and poison gas. Many can fly, a few can burrow at tremendous speed. They have an instinctual command of their non sapient kin. They can be just as chauvinist as vampires, but while the bloodsuckers are haughty and dismissive, Insiders are smug and condescending. They are found of extolling the virtues of insects and vermin, though they loathe the church of the Holy  Vermin as a rule (bugs should feast on mortals, not the other way around). Most Insiders take a perverse joy in being gentle and polite to guests and captives, as they know they can always make things incredibly nasty later.

Locations

The Undercatherdral of Pale Corpses is one of the gargantuan space ships that roam the Undersphere Reach. It is notable because it is filled with a half rotting, half regrowing corpse of some forgotten godling. The engineered flesh is constantly seeking to reform, but its thwarted by teams of slaves hacking it into pieces and harvesting the interesting bits. These bits are then taken by one of the Reborn fleshcrafters  and fashioned into frankenstiod monsters*. This cathedral is the permeant home of Minister Gelwar. He appears as a massive stitched together corpse with a solemn gold face mask. He spends most of his time inside a massive pile of bodies, only emerging to make demands of his followers.

The Deep Dark Wood has a biosphere custom engineered for the Reborn's aesthetic tastes. It is a resort world where the upper crust of the Reborn come to relax in twisted, primeval forests. There is little civilization here, only isolated hunting lodges. There are plenty of jobs for hunters and guides, but check the contract to make sure you're not joining the hunt as a quarry. The planet is home to Minister  Tiranp, who takes the form of a giant winged face made out of vegetation that is constantly leaking maggots out of the eyes and mouth.

Undersphere city is a titanic space station teetering at the edge of the undersphere itself. This close to the singularity, space is warped in weird ways**. The city is an impossible labyrinth of narrow streets and blocky buildings. Though most districts are run down, there are more people living here than you would expect.  When the wan electric lights are on, its safe enough. People mill about like any other city. However, there are rolling brownouts that roam around like living things. When the lights flicker and die the locals scramble for shelter. The lucky ones close their blinds and ignore the screams.

Personalities 

Dr. Gulmor is the head of the team of Fleshcrafters working in the UnderCatherdral of Pale Corpses. She is a long centipede-like Insider. Her position affords her a great deal of power and privilege, but she is well aware that any of her underlings would gladly betray her. This is why she pits them against each other in high stakes practical tests of their work I.E constant monster battles. She collects corpses, and will pay well for any unusual specimens.

Count Garlach is eccentric even by Vampire standers. They are quite wealthy and own most of the Deep Dark Woods' western hemisphere. Their lair is a sprawling manor deep in a trackless wood. They pay foreigners from all over the Galaxy to attend their overnight dinner parties. The catch is they collect various psychic predators and let them roam their house freely. Survivors are awarded bonuses based on how many rooms they explored and how many times they mated with other guests, which is tracked through mandatory implants.

Isligtar is the head of the scavenger's guild of  Undersphere City. There are many forgotten and crumbling districts in the city, and there is money to be made picking over their corpses. This is only the first layer of his business model. When a scavenging team goes missing, he sends in a retrieval team to capture whatever took them out. He has a warehouse full of urban stalkers and cursed objects he sells off to other Reborn. He is of the Deep Flesh, though he is careful to never use any of his powers while he is wearing his business face, keeping the full extent of his abilities concealed. He has a moist sheen to his skin, and large, watery eyes.


*The Undersphere Reaches can be said to have a monster based economy, with the various factions struggling to control the means of destruction.
** The Undersphere isn't a standard model black hole, so this warping isn't the kind predicted by general relativity and there is no noticeable time dilation. Shut up nerds.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Oneironauts



The Oneironauts, more properly known as The Humble Servants and Seekers of that One True and Right Divine Dream, are a militaristic theocratic society of former Obelisk Dreamer servitors. They believe it is their duty to find their masters in one of the dream ways, that network of pocket universes they created long ago. While the Oneironauts search they also consolidate their power with scavenged Dreamer technology. By skill and force they are carving out an empire in the here and now, building a throne worthy of their masters' return.

Sometimes causally called alternate dimensions, the dreamways are more accurately thought of as pocket universes. The technology to create them was discovered by the obelisk Dreamers and maladroitly copied by the other Bastards. A classic Dreamer pocket universe is created and maintained by a keystone obelisk in this universe. These intricate devices use psionic circuits to "dream" the plane into existence. Pocket universes have their own laws of physics and their own internal logic. Beings from the external universe can visit these realms by translating their existence into a form appropriate for the new universe.*

Races

The Prime strain are the dominant "race" among the oneironauts, due to the fact they control the cloning machinery necessary to make themselves and their allies. They are roughly humanoid, with tentacles instead of legs and satellite dish shaped heads. They have no facial features but they have three toothless mouth orifices on their torso. Calling them a race is inaccurate because they are all genetically identical. This is a major weakness which they offset through custom engineered symbiotes. They have artificial immune systems that vary from individual to individual. They have feeder pets that live in their mouths that integrate into their G.I. tracks. They also have some symbiotes that serve no purpose other than as living jewelry.

Ursaiods are the warrior servitors that make up most of the Oneironaut military. They have stocky quadruped frames with a pair of manipulator tentacles on their backs. Their culture emphasizes their genotypes over their individual identities. Every Ursasiod is a clone, but unlike the Prime Strain there are roughly a million Ursaiod genomes. An Ursaiod warrior fights to bring glory to their genome, fighting to add to the legacy of their genes. Every devote Urasiod can recite all of their "ancestors" and their accomplishments.

The Goobiods are a race of single celled organisms that form into intelligent colonies that piliot humaniod mechanical suits. Their intelligence is a property of the structure of the colony, but they store elements such as memory and personality in holographic form within each cell. This means the structure of their brain can be altered, augmented or even destroyed without harming their core identity. This has allowed recreational brain surgery to become the goobiods chief hobby. All brain mods must be approved by the Oneironaut inquisition to prevent the emergence of Runaway Bio-singularity syndrome, which may or may not be a real thing. There is a thriving counter culture of black market brain modders that only occasionally turn into crazed esoterrorists. 

Dreamways

The Hateful Fluid is a dreamway dominated by an ocean of cloudy yellow bile that has flooded a black and foreboding city. In the past the city was kept free of the strange liquid by emotional bilge machines. Today, only a single machine is still active, protecting an Oneironaut enclave known officially as the Shrine of Odium**.Bilge city exists as a base camp for scavenging expeditions into the black city. At the height of the Dreamer empire this place was a forge for exotic weapons, and many are still in the ruins. The Hateful Fluid is caustic and near boiling, requiring special suits to survive. Once immersed in the fluid, explorers feel in odd sensation, as though they are an itch on someone else's skin.  The biggest danger are the seethes , liquid creatures native to the plane. When they slip into the city they take ever changing phantasmagoric forms. In their home they are only visible as slight murky currents. They are so hot they can even melt almost anything, and they seem to only live to kill. Apart from them, the only native lifeforms are strange, dead-eyed crustaceans.

The Dreamway known as C R A W L  has several folk Etymology about its name. Some say its named for the primary mode of locomotion among its natives. Others say it’s the feeling you get on your skin when you're there. The final theory is that it is because the whole plane seems to be trying to crawl inside itself. The living firmament of this plane is infested with parasites, which are in turn infested with parasites, and so on past the level of observation***. This odd plane is home to a vital Oneironaut research station. By studying the extreme biophilic laws of physics here they gain insight into bioengineering in the normal universe. This is where many of the Prime Strain symbiotes are developed.

The Thought Skien, like Woundspace is a true alternate dimension, an artificial segment of space/time grafted onto the regular universe. Every thinking being makes its mark here, their ideas and emotions taking the form of light energy. An inhabited planet is a storm of light and color, a boiling maelstrom of thought. From these points of light the mental energy diffuses into the void, forming wispy currents of thought.
The Obelisk Dreamers could build in this strange realm; forming constructs of hard thought energy. The Oneironauts lack this technology but they can repurpose existing constructs to make new structures. The Crown jewel of their building project is the Large Notion Collector. This coral-like fan shaped  installation is designed to shift ideas out of the currents of mental energy that drift through interstellar space.

Personalities 

Grako 86 is the champion of the Shrine of Odium, a position earned for him by his grand sire Grako 80 who found the lightless knife in the black city. Theoretically  as champion he is the ruler of Bilge City, but really he spends most of his lifting weights****. The real power in the city are the Prime Strain Clerics in charge of the shrine itself. He will swear a favor to anyone who donates a relic to the city, but he's pretty useless.

Master STSLVN is the most renowned bio jeweler in C R A W L. this means they are the Prime Strain that is the best at getting symbiotic infections in C  R A W L's living wilds. Their secret is that they know where the viral loci are, hidden nodes of parasitic intelligence in the organic chaos. Here, the guiding minds of  C R A W L can be bargained with. They are getting old, and wish to pass on this knowledge. The problem is that they are wildly contemptuous of their contemporaries, so they are seeking outsiders to become their apprentices.

Once the Large Notion Collector gathers data, it needs to process it. That task falls to UAOAE, a Goobiod that has been modified into a supercomputer. UAOAE can process all the information streams coming from the device and distill it into useful inventions and philosophical musings.  She is has received some of the most advanced modifications ever approved by the Oneironauts, and is under constant supervision by the Inquisition. Publicly, she has stated she has no desire to undergo a bio singularity event, as that would interfere with her mission. Privately, she has been covertly merging the minds of her watchers with each other, with the ultimate goal of unify all minds in the galaxy under her supreme ego. Someone should probably stop her.







*Don't worry, most forms of interplanar travel do this automatically. Well, you do have to worry about the few devices that don't.  
**The inhabitants call it Bilge city
*** Mater here seems to made of particles that have been dubbed animolecules that appear to be alive, some of which appear to be diseased
**** All Ursaiods are heavily built. Grako's training has made him truly monstrous looking.