Thursday, August 29, 2019

space pirates


Space is large and remote, with long stretches of isolated nothing. These distant waypoints and astral lacuna form perfect ambush points for the many pirates that stalk the galaxy. A spaceship is a tempting prize in and of itself; as rip drives and other ftl devices are expensive to make. Any cargo that happens to seized is a bonus. Rarely, pirates will raid independent planets and freeholds, but the logistics of transporting their booty out of gravity wells is beyond most pirates. In addition, most freeholds are themselves populated largely by pirates, making them less than soft targets.

Pirates form a huge section of the Galactic underclass; those desperate losers looking for an easy score to get rich quick. Independent pirates make up the bottom of the barrel in pirate society. They use scrap ships and make shift weapons, and can present a real danger to the unwary, but are no real threat to hardened targets. Above the independents are the privateers, state sanctioned pirates. Many polities empower their more heavily armed citizens to take action against the state's enemies. Currently with the rise of the Agredeem empire, the Seeders and other allied powers are licensing many more privateers to disrupt the God Emperor's trade routes. Also, many polities employ privateers as pirate hunters. There is a notable convergence in attitude, culture and personnel between pirates and pirate hunters.

Aside from privateers, there are some pirate polities, that is, states that use their armed forces to commit piracy. The Republic of Sea Serpents is notorious for this practice. The Joker merchant marine corps spends as much time waiting for victims as they do protecting Sea Serpent shipping interests. According to the Sea Serpents, the Jokers are private contractors and they can not be held liable for their actions on their own time. Most states find believing this more convenient than contesting it.


While not strictly speaking a polity in its own right, the leading edge of the migration of the Empire of Friends is a refuge for all the outcasts and criminals of the empire. While the so called "pirate corona" is  a poorly policed zone, it is not ungoverned. The corona has its own twisted version of the Creed of Friendship, and is ruled by several strong factions of ner-do-wells, including the Bad Dude Alliance and the Coven Collective. As the empire, and thus the corona migrate, independent pirate bands are absorbed by these factions. They are organized enough to pull off daring planetary raids. There is a constant struggle between the main stream empire and the pirate corona, but there are also back channels that let the two sides coordinate against outsiders.

The Machine lifeforms of the Xietentoeten Economic Zone are strongly mecha-chauvinist, and frequently do not respect the property rights of organic life. Armed parties of XEZ will target and rob non machine life just because they can get away with it.

Two groups of sapients follow the Candymen. The Intergalactic Candy Company is the more respectable, business side of the candy. The Candy Cults are the more wild and primal side. While the Candy Company serves the Candy for material gain, the Candy Cults serve through faith and addiction. Made up of Candylings, Candy Mutants and assorted candy addicts, they rove the stars, looking for tribute for their candy masters. They have a reputation for mercy. Instead of spacing captives, they keep them alive. They accept ransoms to rescue high profile captives, and will release others at the nearest freehold, but not before exposing them to candy narcotics. Many take to piracy themselves to feed their new addictions.

But of all the pirate polities the most feared are the Reborn of the Undersphere. Hailing from a cluster of planets below the Galactic plane, Reborn corsairs raid much of the Galaxy. They don't just seek ships and goods, but personnel as well. Reborn are created through a mixture of mental conditioning and a certain retro virus. The process of creating a Reborn is fraught with peril. Roughly one in fifty successfully survive the process; the rest are turned into non-sapient creeps or killed outright. Even other pirates fear the Reborn. 

Dream piracy is the act of psychically entering another's dream with ill intent. It is most often practiced by the Pirate Corona and the reborn corsairs, as well as Father Corp. The first two factions use this technique to find hidden intel about potential targets, as well as to subvert and suborn the minds of defenders. Father Corp steals entire dreams wholesale, leaving the victim dazed and listless until they can have a proper dream.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

pre gen characters for odd jobs


Warriors

A Tale of Swords is a robotic sword fighter. They are a black rainbow destroyer, a linage of machine life that evolved from ancient killbots. They look like a humanoid figure in heavy black armor adorned with an oil slick sheen. They are traveling the galaxy seeking the beauty in violence.

Snar Leeson is a human monster hunter from the death world Osgren. Osgrenite culture centers around hunting and cooking. Snar is searching for a probably mythical noodle shop called the cosmic noodle.

Merle Row is a dog person known as a Canineform. They are in the Cult of Master Vigilant, which worships an abstract god of duty and loyalty. They were expelled from their after falling asleep on watch, and now they wander the galaxy seeking atonement.

Vrax Belter is a former human mutated into a candyling from their candy addiction. They spent some time with a crew of candy pirates before striking off on their own.

Scientists

Blossom is a Jezoflorid ecologist. Jezoflorids are serpentine plant people who are sold by the monolithic Mothercorp. Blossom is a member of the Glade, an anarchist faction that opposes Mothercorp. They are exploring the galaxy looking for bio weapons to use in their guerrilla war.

HSIYA is a sapient computer virus and hacker in a humanoid robotic frame. Their people are called the counter Gnomics. They are searching for a  nice big undefended network they can start their own colony/multi-level marketing scheme in.

XHTL is a Prime Strain crystal smith. They used to work for Father Corp, crafting advanced psionic devices. They left due to poor working conditions and are now looking for adventure.

Taril Wranz is a human academic from the Academy of Gnomic Arts. They are fusing with an ancient Gnomic prosthetic that replaced their arm. They are wandering the galaxy looking for inspiration for their thesis.

Pyskers

Garval is a Power Fetus, a psychically strong but physically underdeveloped race. They appear as a fetus inside an opaque exoskeleton made of psychic force. They were forced out of their home, the empire of friends for perversion, and now they are seeking a new community to join.

Flara Orzo is  a Pertanguan telekinetic. The Pertanguan's are cybernetic grub creatures who are obsessed with  Speed. Flara was part of a race crew until all their friends died in a crash, of which Flara was the sole survivor. They are seeking funds to buy a new racer to compete in the galactic grand prix .

Fango Kha is a reptile/human hybrid with biokinetic powers from the theocracy known as ThePeople of The Whorl. They are on a holy pilgrimage to see every kaiju in the Galaxy. 

Green Grin is a Maskform, a branch of humanity that has adapted to live in dreams. They have an innate power to form bonds with dream creatures. They were exiled after their beloved pet went on a destructive rampage.

Jacks

Glurp is a Flesh 7monk. The Flesh 7 are a race of cyborgs with electronic brains and organic bodies. Glorp practices an obscure martial art known as Night Beast Style. Flesh 7 bodies are mutable; Glurp currently has humanoid body with a large predatory muzzle. They are wandering the galaxy looking for chances to prove the strength of their style.

Sir Kraver of Dung hill is a Fandoran trash knight. The Fandorans are a rat-like race that have recently been annexed into the neo-floozy empire. In the conquest Sir Kraver lost their ancestral home. They are questing for allies and material for their rebellion against the nep-floozies.

Low Tide is an Agrdeem, a race of amphibious star fish. They were an operative of Orphan Guild, a mass survaliance agency tasked with defending the Agrdeem Totality from the rise of the Great Stars. They failed, and now low tide is wandering the galaxy seeking ways to undermine the Agrdeem Empire.

Hizam, who is no one but Orn, is a fungal sapient from the Reclaimer Alliance. They are an "exorcist" (Literally, "creep eater" in the original Ornish) They were cast out for up staging their master.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Timeline of Galactic History


  • The universe begins and the bastards arrive.
  • The bastards schism into countless factions as the universe expands. Multiple factions stake claim to each of the dust and gas super structures that will form into galaxies. Our galaxy is claimed by 3 groups that will come to be known as the floozies, the Obelisk Dreamers, and the gnomics
  • The early period is a time of cold warfare with occasional nova flashes. The factions hide in the cosmic dust and search for their rivals while keeping themselves concealed.
  • As suns begin to form, they break cover and claim as many stars as they can.
  • After the first generation of stars dies, the heavy elements they leave behind begin to form planets.
  • The bastards unleash von neumann probes to claim and colonize these planets
  • After hundreds of thousands of years of slow burning territorial disputes, most planets have been claimed by at least one faction. Many are disputed. The conflict heats up
  • Bastard civilization reaches its peak as the galaxy devolves into warfare. This period is sometimes referred to as the golden age of bastards
  • The war reaches its highest pitch. Automated war machines and ontological weapons proliferate. The highest bastard sciences are harnessed to terrible effect.
  • At some point the bastards die out, leaving their war machines behind. The war will continue on for several thousand years after the first combatants disappear. 
  • The war gutters out as the combatants destroy each other. The planets of the galaxy are mostly home to ash and low, vicious battles. This last desperate stage marks the start of the first galactic dark age.
  • After thousands of years, various civilizations arise. They use scavenged bastard tech to build galactic empires. This period is known as the first crop.
  • The Ger creators start seeding their planets with the Ger, the carbon based self replicating infra-structure.
  • A galaxy spanning human polity is formed. Its name is lost to history, but modern human supremacists call it the First Empire. More moderate historians call it the Terran Dominion 
  •  As the successor civilizations expand, conflicts arise. The horrors of the bastard war are still apparent, so alternative solutions are sought, leading to the establishment of the Galactic counsel.
  • Trade and cultural exchange lead to a golden age. The first crop attains a level of technology that rivals that of the original bastards, but they still fall short.
  • Multiple pathogenic memeplexes arise. It is believed at the time that they were released deliberately by an unknown party, leading to paranoia and blind reprisals.
  • The memeplexes spread as open warfare breaks out. New memeplexes evolve or are created. They are joined by bioweapons and reactivated bastard war machines.
  • Galactic civilization collapses, leading to the second galactic dark age, also known as the plague aeon
  • Suborned elements from various civilizations build fusion candles into gas giants and set them on escape trajectories out of the bottom of the galactic plane. This splinter formation will become known as the under sphere.
  • The Ger creators die out, but not before sending out a shut down code. Most Ger growths enter into  hibernation.
  • The Psychic Storm ignites.  A loose coalition of powerful psychics driven mad by infectious memes, they rampaged through space towards galactic west.
  • The Terran Dominion is sundered by a rebellion of the canineforms, a genetically engineered servant race. They  were previously kept in check by an inbred loyalty instinct, but a religion centered around an abstract god "the Voice of Authority"  allowed them independence.
  • In many ways, the societies of the first crop are more obscure than the bastards. Large sections of history and culture are infected by dangerous memes and have to be forgotten.
  • Once again civilization begins to rebuild itself, beginning the second crop.
  • The history of the Republic of Sea Serpents begins. They existed before this point but destroyed all previous records for unknown reasons, possibly related to memetic pathogens
  • The galactic counsel once again rose to prominence, and implemented a new conflict resolution system.
  • The Second Human Empire arises, otherwise known as the Empire of Dirt, named after the human homeworld of Dirt.
  • The Canineforms start their own empire, the theocratic Domain of the Voice.
  • Far off in the Galactic West the Psychic Storm suffers a coup and is rebranded as the Empire of Friends
  • Disputes would be settled by fights between champions, with no weight classes. This system spurred the development of weaponized kaiju.
  • Some kaiju escape into wild space and go feral. Loose kaiju begin to pose a threat to galactic civilization.
  • Most societies react by increasing funding for kaiju programs to create counter-kaiju kaiju.
  • Secret societies and cults dedicated to kaiju grow in power.
  • An important kaiju duel between the Domain of the Voice and the Empire of Dirt is interrupted by feral kaiju supported by armed fanatics.  Both sides blame the other, and resort to conventional warfare while also using their kaiju.
  • The war quickly grows in scope as the two combatants release wild space born kaiju. Soon, most of the galaxy is pulled into the kaiju war.
  • Angels of the Last Machine being to appear. These strange beings claim to have arrived from the far future. They empower certain machine intelligences, turning them into saints. This is the bringing of the Sophonic Advent.
  • The devastation of the war ends the second crop and begins the third galactic dark age. Kaiju continue to rampage throughout the galaxy.
  • The age of the Technocratic Kings begins on the Planet Dirt. These tyrants keep technical knowledge to themselves to rule over the hidden arcologies.
  • Only in the past hundred years have powers arisen that can face the feral kaiju. This is the beginning of the third crop, and the modern period.
  • Twenty years ago the great prophet Apple overthrew the Technocratic kings and began the Seeder Initiative, an attempt to rebuild the human Empire

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

C R A W L


If you seek to earn riches while you Slumber, Venture forth to C R A W L. 



C R A W L is a billion twisted dreams from the plague Aeon. At its boiling heart it is said there is an obelisk corrupted with strange astral life. Where once the obelisk dreamed of a lost paradise, now it dreams its own diseased hell. Everything in C R A W L dreams, and those dreams teem with their own dreamers. All these dreamers and dreams form a twisted knot of loops and spirals, an infinite closed expanse of parasitism.

The dreams of C R A W L are slick fluid and flesh scapes, endless expanses of astral life swirling and melting forever. Each dream is home to millions of crawling and squirming things, and each one dreams one of the dreams of C R A W L. When a creature in a dream dreams, its astral body becomes a luminous portal. Any creature touching it is sucked into the new dream. No one knows how many dreams there are in C R A W L

The closer to the lost obelisk, the denser the dreams become. At the center, the cancerous energies bleed out into real space. Though it looks like a real sun, it is a hole in space through which dread energies can enter the world. They call it the Crawl Star.

Around the Crawl Star, there are five celestial bodies. It is thought that they were once dead planets but through the unwholesome green light of that cursed star they were transfigured into living beings. They are the Children of C R A W L .

The first child is Olhambve, the Mournful Ooze. It is a desolate world of stone and lichen, dotted with temples to dead gods. In the gutters and cisterns lurks the ooze, a single  predatory ocean. Those devoured by it find themselves in a pocket of C R A W L where they are dissolved for a subjective eternity. Somewhere on this forsaken world there is the hidden lair of the Lune-man pirate Ax Feber. With his ship, the corvette Darkshine he preys on those that come to C R A W L. Exposure to the light of the Crawl Star has warped his mind. He seeks to marry Olhambve and birth a new race of monsters. In his lair he has a thousand precious jewels, and he is always looking for more, so that he may win the favor of his beloved.

The second child is Frantolous, The Soft Expanse. It is a world of soft pink flesh, a perfect globe marred by city sized ticks. On the back of one of these titian parasites that Father Corp has made their outpost. Father Corp is a voracious corporate god that feeds on Dreams though out the galaxy. They have come to C R A W L to harvest its diseased riches. Here is where you can earn your fortune. Those who sleep in the light of the Crawl Star find themselves pulled into C R A W L itself. As they wander its recursive dreamscapes they become infested by all manner of dream creatures. If they can survive and return to the material universe, they can sell their unwelcome passengers to Father Corp. On their outpost on they have extraction jars that create tremendous negative psychic pressure to suck out any errant dream creatures. Most of these poor creatures are doomed to be ground into their component emotions and sensations, but the most symbiotic are instead given to Father Corps breeding programs. The servants of Father Corp, the Prime Strain, use shiny beetles to adorn their pallid bodies. The most prized adornments come from C R A W L. There is a fortune to made by one who finds a new fashion.

Here also is the only place where Father Corp may brew one of its drugs, paracosm. Those who imbibe this pale orange ichor have visions of their own private universe where they are the demiurge. There are many who use this to escape their lives as they sleep. However, do not use it while you sleep near the Crawl Star. This new dream will merge with C R A W L and you will be subsumed into the cycle. It is derived from the venom of the dream giver beetle. They use it to create living astral nests for their larva.

The third child is Xyzxy, the Cryptic Garden. It is a tangled orchard of vines and dark swollen fruit. Within each pome is a writhing mass of worms and beetles and strange plastic things. The woods are deep and trackless and haunted by the masked ones, terrible and strange primitives. Each one is a walking hive of parasitic minions. They are hostile to all who trespass on C R A W L and the children. 

The Fourth child is Olark the Writhing World. It is a ball of worms and beetles the size of a planet. Father Corp has laid its covetous eyes upon it, and has created a fleet of fishing ships that trawl the living ocean for cheap and easy protein, though they may soon abandon the venture. The squirming catch is often treacherous, and something is eating the boats. They say Father Corp is really searching for some lost bastard relic lost beneath the wriggling tide.

The Fifth and finale child is Peivlard the Watchful Myriad. It is a cluster of eyes of all different shapes and colors, always focused on the same point. It can view any point in C R A W L and the children. It is a sick voyeur that wishes to see violence and depravity. It speaks in a voice like ocular jelly dripping from a corpse. It speaks poisonous truths it has seen, so that it may reveal in the chaos it causes. When its eyes are upon you, you can feel ten thousands cold stares boring into you. It is said that Peivlard knows where every treasure of C R A W L is buried and it will tell you, but for a terrible cost.



Editor's note



Here we have another delightful entry from my friend the cloaked figure. It's a nice account of 
C R A W L, though its clearly not a first hand one. That's okay, even preferable. All the first hand accounts tend to be … unhinged, for some strange reason.

First, a quick note about biology. Spooky-pants here describes the dream flora and fauna in terms of strict parasitism, and while there's a lot of that going around, parasitism exists on a gradient with mutualism. Not every symbiont in C R A W L has a parasitic relationship with its host. This is clear from the number of dream pet linages that have come from there. One of my aunts has a blue spiraled sivganzer, a type of astral serpent native to C R A W L bred to protect its hosts from nightmares. It begs food qualia from strangers and is afraid of loud noises.

Moving on, I can't believe I have to say this, but don't try to rob pirates that live on the outskirts of gross dimensional rifts. I don't even know how creepo knows all this junk, so acting on this information is not recommended. On a similar note, while collecting dream bugs for a soulless all-devouring corporation probably pays well, there are easier ways to make money. Saner ways, in any case.

And finally, a note on those "terrible and strange primitives", they are referring to the Maskforms. They are a human subspecies adapted to living in dreamscapes, and they are closely related to Riddleforms. As a Riddleform myself I most object to this characterization. While Maskforms lack the sophistication of digital lifeforms such as myself, I wouldn't say they're primitive. Also, they are only sort of strange and occasionally terrible. Neither the less, their crusade against the predations of Father Corp can only be seen as noble. After Father Corp is preying on Maskform colonies across the galaxy. Its only fair that they take out the occasional Father Corp freelancer.

As always, we at the Galactic Gazetteer can not be held liable for any fool thing you do after reading our fine publication. The legal department has been sharpening its claws against the side of its cage, so please, feel free to occupy its attention.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Expedition to Krangor


Krangor smells of skin, of sweet yeast and sour sweat. Krangor lives and breathes as an incarnate god but unlike other proud and boastful deities it whispers with a  silent voice. We heard its enigmatic call, and its unspoken promise. It spoke to us of the Molecular Fire. After all, what else could have catalyzed the birth of such a titian?

We arrived in the space-port of Rump Town ten strong. Rump Town is a benighted place, smelling of waste and desperation. The town is built over a deep upwelling from the bowels of Krangor. The foul odor is compounded by the tube forests that grow from spores carried by incautious astro-travelers.

The foul boutique reeks of alien pollution and the heavings of a great beast. An Overwhelming cocktail to be sure, but I was able to sniff out some unusual essences. There was a tall and proud tube tree with an uncharacteristic noble odor, and a small vermin the smelled of incredible violence. When I had finished with my gatherings, Ise had arranged us travel on a caravan, so we set out.

The skin plains are a lonesome place, an empty eternity under a bruise purple sky. Our guides were sullen and watchful humans, obscured under heavy robes. Even my companions could smell their unease and paranoia and soon we learned of its source. Ise was taken in the night, skewered by a horrible mourn that had crept unseen into our encampment. Too late the alarm was sounded as it skittered away into the darkness. Our guides fired a desultory volley but the beast was long gone. In the mourning we once again ventured forth into the flatness, our minds dark with visions of spear -like limbs. At night we would hear their sad bellows, and in the light we would see their looming forms. We were not attacked again, though I do not know why.

After a week of numbing travel we arrived at the Theatre of the Center, a monastery city. It resembled a jeweled adornment pierced through the skin. Here at last we met the Magocytes. These strange creatures are massive cells that guard and heal Krangor. I could smell the power rolling of them, the creamy burnt smell of psionic metabolisms. As expected, they were reluctant to give me a sample of their cytoplasm, but one unusually gregarious individual accepted Gve as payment. I thanked Gve for his service and took my prize.

Ise had most of our coin when he was taken, so I sold Til and Fal for more funds. At one of the bars they had a most potent brew called ich that would crawl up the sides of the glass under its own power. I added it to my collection, and went to find its source.

This lead me to the nearby scab fields. Here the skin is broken and cracked and thick rivers of red ichor flow to the surface. The blood of Krangor has a will of its own and Dak was grabbed and pulled under during a moment of inattention. Unfortunate, but I was able to collect a sample of the raw ichor.

We were lucky enough to witness the cause of the scablands when a plastic angel burst forth in a shower of gore. These creatures infect Krangor and emerge from its depths according to their own alien whims. From accounts I had heard their forms vary but this one was composed of three orbs orbiting around a central blade. After its violent birth it took notice of us and pointed its body at Vil, who soon collapsed shaking and bleeding. The rest of my party was able to take the creature down with concentrated small arms fire. It's flesh was smooth and smelled of ancient malice. I placed the sample in my most secure jar. Vil body began to swell and contort with the creature's offspring so we burned it and returned it to the theater.

I retired to my rented study to examine my samples. The tube tree's nobility proved false, an ancient forgery. The tree used this ruse to  parasitize true kings. A monarch parasite could be adapted into a weapon easily enough, but it is useless to my art. the vermin was another weapon, a seeker. It's ordained prey was long dead, almost certainly by its fangs. I have no need for genocide .

The cytoplasm, to my resignation decayed quickly. The resulting slurry had a paradoxical flavor. It tasted of great victory and bitter defeat at the same time. I have added it to my spice collection.

I  breed out the yeast from the liquor. It was a vile and aggressive beast that fought the ichor to ferment it. It is powerful with a bellicose flavor. The ichor was the most tantalizing but the most obscure. It hid its scent from me. It used its powers to keep me from its secrets. Its will can only come from the planet itself. For a few precious hours a fragment of a god was dying  on my workbench. In death it catalyzed itself to oblivion in a final blaze of glory. This tiny God corpse will not be long in my possession. I will give it to  the order so that they may ponder its Glory.

While I was conducting my studies, the rest of my party was exploring the city. In a sunken bar beneath the skin Vre heard a curious Tidbit; beyond the subterranean latrines there was a passage to the depths of Krangor. Vre lead is  to the sewer pits where an unknown hand had made a path out of plastic sheets and cast off wood. Within the expected foulness I sensed death. I sent Tan to collect a sample but she slipped and drowned in the foulness before we could rescue her.  We pushed on.

I expected the interior of Krangor  to be a realm of blood and Tissue. while such a place may exist deeper still, what I found was more skin; caverns of folds and wrinkles, deep pores and hidden crypts. The air was poor and stale with a curious vital odor.

We had only just stopped catch our breath when Ove  cried out. A noxious yellow ooze crawled up his leg . I held back Vre as I dug through my pack looking for gloves. As I pulled them out, the smell of a  powerful catalyst filled the air. I tore great handfuls of slime off of him as he wailed in pain. I saw his naked bones under the slime, as my gloves begin to smoke. I ripped them off and come quickly cleansed my hands. Vre passed soon after.  We retraced our steps not without a great deal of terror.

Our manpower depleted and  our funds dwindling, we made our way off-world. Krangor is an old and quarrelsome God and it holds its secrets deep, but our quest is unabated. I or my successor will venture once more into the skin may find the molecular fire.

Editor's Note

Here we have the latest dispatch for Arch Magi Hervin Voss of the order of the Molecular Fire. For those keeping track at home, we're up to 38 assorted casualties among his allies and hirelings. I don't know where he keeps finding these people, and I don't understand how he's still alive.

Some notes: There is a rumor the caravans of Krangor deliberately allow some of their charges to be taken by the horrible mourns, in return for a measure of safety. Now, I can not speak with authority but the events Hervin describes are at least in line with such a thing. I'm not saying it is true but it is certainly suggestive.

Now it might seem like our pal Hervin sold some of his friends into slavery, but that’s not quite the case. Magocytes only accept those who come into their service willingly. These servants are then modified through bio-kinesis into creatures known as skin servitors. By all reports they have a high degree of autonomy and a comfortable standard of living. It is not the best life but it beats following Hervin into the dank corners of the galaxy.

And for the thickos out there, the Galactic Gazetteer only publishes these accounts for informational purposes. We can't be held liable for any expeditions to any of the locations we describe.  If you read the same account I did, I can't imagine any of you wanting to go to Krangor, but you mouth breathers always surprise me. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Journey to the Temple of Red Waters


If you seek allies for desperate deeds, set out for ShrangGa, the misty jewel of the Reclaimers. From the void dock with the massive hive called the Needle Spines, shrine city of the holy vermin. It's sloping tunnels are filled with scuttling scolependrites, feeding and scheming in the dark.

Travel east from the Needle Spines along the ancient high road. Follow the worn stone path just above the swirling miasma, taking care not to breathe in the spores when they rise and shroud the road like rainbow mist. Travel past the temples of Ego, where the will of Orn issues forth. Travel past the catalytic pits, where the power of Orn churns deep underground. Travel past the hidden villages, where masked and robed humans hide from the corrosive mind of Orn.

Past all that the road finally climbs down to a dismal and rain soak village known as the Lash. This is the edge of the eye of Not Orn, a lawless swamp basin where Orn does not reach. Lash is a benighted place. The constant rains keep the spores away but also keep the villagers inside their insect carapace hovels. The iridescent sheen of chitin is universally marred by creeping brown slime. At the foot of the village where the slope of buildings meets the water is the rotting dark, where silent fishermen trudge through the downpours. Talk to the one eyed woman named Grather, or the 3 meter tall mute enigma know to the locals as Lom. They know the path through the swamp. Be quiet on the ride, for the eye of Orn is stalked by ravenous insects.

 You will know you are close  when the waters turn from brown and green to clear sanguine red. Out of the swamp mute sentinels of stone rise, statues worn down through the ages into abstract figures. This is the shrine of Red Waters, and soon you will meet Gilthain who is not Orn, the high priest of this strange temple. His pale fungal flesh weeps red ichor. He greets all visitors by name and offers them his hospitality.

The Temple is a jumble of stone rising out of the marsh, its ancient purpose lost to rain and water. Now the interiors are furnished with soft wood and paper walls and plush pillows. To swim in the water is to have your weaknesses melted away by subtle acids, to lose your imperfections to a hungry mire. Naked, mute and dirty humans serve in the temple, making food and tending to the massive hookahs. Everywhere is the smiling face of Gilthain, keeping peace and hospitably. Do not challenge him, or his true bulk will rise from the swamp. 

There are many guests at the temple, many outcasts and pirates all enjoying the rough pleasures of this deep and overlooked land. Gilthain is well informed about many things he could not know, and during private dinners of roasted insect and alien fruits he will let you into his confidence. He offers opportunity, and the chance to from convenient fellowships among those  who do not trust easy. Many thefts, murders and dark conspiracies in the wider galaxy had there origin, here on the edge of civilization. The nights here are filled with hunting calls, rain and smoke, cruel laughter and crueler schemes.

Editor's note

Hoy boy, another account from our mystery contributor. I'd stop publishing them but last time I tried they kept leaving bigger and bigger dead animals on our door stop. At least we don't have to pay them.

A couple of notes; As always our spooky friend is vague about the very concrete dangers. The "spores" of ShrangGa are an information exchange medium used by the Orn to facilitate their gestalt mind. When breathed in by non Orn it causes disjointed hallucinations. Long term exposure leads to a condition known as Orn-craze, or more informally, the craze. It is characterized by a general mental decline and a suggestive state. Those afflicted by the Orn craze are compelled to follow the orders of the Orn and other fungal beings. Presumably this is what's up with the naked human servants. So yeah, wear a breathing mask when you're on the surface.

Now a brief word on the giant insects they mention off handily. Surprisingly, they're right to be vague. I could find no respectable monograph on the fauna of Erstvale. Presumably there's a vermin engine somewhere on the planet but the church doesn't advertise it, which makes sense after the recent Neo Floozy invasions of Reclaimer worlds. Still, it’s a bit strange. I can find older pamphlets on the various Vermin engines, but nothing about one on ShrangGa. Something to look into, I guess.

Lastly, and I wish this could go without saying, but if you follow the advice of some creep who doesn't show up on security cams, the Galactic Gazetteer can't be held liable for anything that happens to you. Seriously, this person is a major weirdo and we don't know where they get this stuff, so just don't. Please don't test our legal department, we don't feed it very often

Monday, April 29, 2019

the Empire of Friends


The Empire of Friends is a nomadic state, an empire on the move. The five sacred space stations that form the core of the empire are on an ancient pilgrimage, making a slow sweeping circuit of the galaxy. This is because the way of friendship, the philosophy that rules the empire. By forcing the empire to keep moving, it is pushed into constant conflict which is supposed to hone the social ties that bind society together.
The Friendly Emperor is, by ancient tradition, the scariest psychic in the Empire. While in most endeavors the way of Friendship prizes collective effort, the Emperor must fight alone to keep the title. Those that best the Emperor's chamberlain, even non-citizens earn the right to challenge the Emperor for the throne.
The Empire does not have a formal military. This is not the same as having no military. In their post scarcity, post capitalism society the upper class are those skilled enough to survive in the wider universe. These adventurers form an ad-hoc armed force, responding to crises according to their whims and availability. There is a reputation economy here, with more dire crises  rewarding more notoriety. The most famous adventurers can waltz into any imperial holding and be treated like royalty. The less famous can be expected to be treated like dirt.
 The Empire can be divided into three regions, the core worlds, the frontier and the waning Empire. The frontier is a wild place, home to the empire's outcasts. This means the first envoys from the empire  are heretics, pirates and down on their luck adventurers.
The core worlds are where the bulk of the Imperialism happens. The space around the path of the scared stations and needs to be safe, stable and prosperous. Any instability or poverty in independent systems is therefore a matter of state security, and the system will soon find its independence compromised.
The waning empire are those planets left behind by the pilgrimage, and its home to the scum too cowardly to be pirates. The Imperials here are a loose coalition of colonialists and carpet baggers. This region sees more than its  fair share of revolt and rebellion, which suits the core empire just fine.

Races

Neon Punks were originally servitors of the Obelisk Dreamers, and as such they have a built in desire to be servile. The Way of Friendship acts as a hack on their submissive programing; the higher power they serve being their group of friends and the society they are a part of. Neon Punks live in vast social groups, linked together by their empathic sense. They have individual personalities but in times of stress those are subsumed into the groupmind.
They vary widely in phenotype; they all have humanoid body plans an black skin, but have different builds. Some have wings, tails or horns. Each has vivid markings in a particular color, like hot pink, lime green or safety orange. A select few, known as Alpha Punks are born with strong psychic powers and reduced servile instincts. Their markings are ultraviolet, making them appear black to human eyes.

Power Fetuses were created by the Obelisk Dreamers to be psychic weapons. They have overdeveloped heads and neonatal bodies. They are born with strong psychic powers, which only strengthen with use, the cost of their powers, in addition to their physical underdevelopment, is a sort of progressive monomania. Each Power Fetus develops a psychic specialty, which begins to consume all their mental bandwidth. Old power Fetuses have all their mental faculties atrophy except for their obsession.
They can no reproduce on their own, having to rely on biokinetic specialists to grow  new Power Fetuses. Fine molecular control is required to release the epigenetic locks on their genome .

"Worm Pile" is the name of one of the core races and an apt description of them. An "individual" Worm Pile is a colony of several hundred small worms that move together as a single unit. Psychic linkages between the component creatures make it so that the whole pile functions like one big brain. Worm Pile personalities aren't fixed, rather they travel freely from colony to colony. Worm Piles can have a variety of powerful psychic abilities, including invasive telepathy and biokinesis

Synth Heads are machine Sapients first conceived of by the Obelisk Dreamers. They are geometric shapes made of a translucent glass like material. They can float with telekinesis, or they can control mechanical bodies with techno-kinesis, the ability to psychically manipulate electronic and mechanical systems. It is believed that they were intended to be a counter to the machine ecologies of the Gnomics. They are not manufactured in this dimension, rather they are harvested from a plane known as the Liquid Machine.

Locations

Ular station is the homeland of the Neon Punks. It is the most improvised of the five sacred stations. This is because there are so many Neon Punks. It is a flotilla of scavenged and ad-hoc habits, with many sections open to the vacuum, as the Punks can survive in space. In the Center of the swarm there is the original* cloning machine that makes new Neon Punks. Defending and maintaining this machine is Ular's primary industry, as it is irreplaceable. The center of the city is also where the bubble engine is located. This device generates a massive warp field, allowing the city to move as a single unit. The middle region is home to the station's one tourist attraction; a district of dojos and arenas known as the Whet Stone. Here, visitors can take classes in psychic combat, spectate a wide variety of contests and get their asses kicked in a constructive fashion.

Akraton Station was originally some sort of giant living starship. Long ago, it died and was colonized by Worm Piles. Now it is a floating hunk of Rot and Fungus; its interior a dark, dank maze. The station is home to the Worm Pile afterlives, three gargantuan Worm Piles that host the emulated minds of dead aliens in a simulated reality. "Life" inside these squirming bardos is pleasant enough; the tenants see it as a sort of retirement as their personalities are slowly digested**. The resulting psychic flotsam then congeals into new Worm Pile personalities.
There is an afterlife for celebrities and adventurers, one for normal citizens and one for criminals and enemies of the state. This last one is the most unpleasant, entirely because of the attitude of the inmates. The "geography" of the dreamscape consists of several villages of cooperative prisoners surrounded by outlands haunted by the antisocial.

Lekitar Station is actually an ice covered moon with an internal ocean. This is the home world of the Power Fetuses. Deep in the ocean there is the gestation chamber, where unborn Power Fetuses are grown by ancient biokinetic specialists. The planet is home to many old and powerful Fetuses, silent guardians totally focused on their tasks. It is also home to the Eggs Recursive, an alternate  dimension young Power Fetuses are sent to minimize the damage they could cause.

Getarch Station is the smallest of the five stations. It consists of a  chamber containing the Liquid Obelisk and a shrine city around it. The Obelisk is the source of the Liquid Machine, the dimension the Synth Heads are from. Most inhabitants make their living harvesting new Synth Heads. Ironically, Synth Heads are ill equipped to explore their home dimension.

The Liquid Machine is accessible from a bubble twenty four light-minutes across, centered on the obelisk. Various psychic powers and dimensional technology can transport people and objects inside. Being in the machine is like being in an infinite sunset sky; vast pastel clouds whorl and scud in fractal patterns. The clouds are not water, but a strange self-willed fluid. Where the currents meet there are chaotic confluxes, nodes that are sort of like factories and sort of like storms. It is here new Synth Heads are formed. Harvesters need to beware as these places crackle with energy and have no recognizable safety standards. The Liquid Machine is also haunted by the Crystal Signal, a continuous transmission that causes machines to go berserk and "mutate" into bizarre crystal entities.  Synth Heads are vulnerable to this virus, meaning newborn Synth Heads must be hustled out of the Machine before they wake up for the first time.

Personalities 

The current Emperor is Glarion of the Unpredicted Force, a heavily built Alpha Punk with a muscular tail. His throne room is in the fifth station, Telgravt and it doubles as a combat arena. This is where he defends his title and adjudicates high level disputes. He does little actual governing, as he prefers to spend his time honing his telekinetic abilities. The other member of the Unpredictable Force make up his cabinet, and handle much of the running of the empire. He only becomes personally involved in the most dire of conflicts. In war and single combat he prefers decapitation strikes.

Reddish Blue Three*** is the Emperor's Chamberlain. It is their job to screen all challengers to the Emperor, a chore they prosecute with great cruelty as a preemptive measure to discourage the riffraff. They pilot a four armed humanoid combat mech with 2 automatic slug throwers and a built in shield generator. They also has the ability to project decoy images into her opponents mind. When they are not playing with fools they are handling the Emperors personal affairs, which include handing out imperial commissions, special high priority tasks vital to Imperial security.

Rantz looks like one of the many indignant hordes of Neon Punks that crowd Ular station. She spends her time loitering in back alleys, watching from the shadows. If she sees a fight, she joins in on whatever side catches her interest. She is not the useless bag woman she appears to be. Her orange markings are just paint; below them are ultraviolet lines and swirls. She is an alpha punk, the Emperors old mentor, and this is her retirement. Her hobby is well known, giving the local ne'er-do-wells a phobia of daft old women.

Abbot Ilt Is the leader of the Perdition Monks, a Worm Pile order that keeps order in the criminal afterlife. They protect the villages from the outlanders, but egos can only spend so much time in an afterlife before they suffer degradation. This places a hard limit on how much force the Monks can project. To make up the short fall Ilt hires outsiders for bounty hunting and patrol missions in the outlands. He runs a semisecret deadpool where the monks bet on the life spans of both the inmates and the hired mercenaries.

*For certain philosophical values of "original" There isn't a single part that hasn't been replaced at least once.
**this is less painful than it sounds.
*** They are named after the colors of the factory storm they were harvested from. The numeral means they were the third such Synth Head found in that batch