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.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Space Whales


Most organic life is ill suited to surviving in space. But life, especially life made with bio-engineering is nothing if not versatile. There are multiple clades of life that have been created to live in the void. They feed on space debris, solar radiation and each other. Most are confined to a single system but a few have organic rip drives that allow them to travel between the stars. These interstellar wanderers are colloquially known as space whales. There are three major clades.

Gas Bag

So called "Gas Bag" Whales are not named for an anatomical feature, but rather for their creators; the enigmatic Gas Bag civilization that lives in giant* planets across the galaxy. They keep to themselves, rarely interacting with telluric life forms. They created their clade of space whale to exchange genetic information between their planets. This genomic trade appears to be their chief economic activity

The "Bubble Head" whale is the baseline body plan for Gas Bag whales. They have wide wing-like** fins and bulbous heads. Inside their eponymous melons  are greasy orbs full of organic slurry. These are how they transport genetic information from planet to planet; when they reach a planet they drop their cargo in the upper atmosphere. There is a thriving grey market for these orbs among certain academics who wish to eavesdrop on Gas Bag civilization.

Pirate whales appear to be weapons created by Gas Bags against other Gas Bag whales, suggesting some sort of sectarian conflict within their society. They are small for space whales, about the size of a fighter craft, and shaped like a boomerang or flying wing. They are pack hunters and quite clever, capable of sophisticated tactics. Some packs have learned to prey on spacecraft They dock with their sucker mouths, bite a hole in the hull and evert their feeding tentacles into the ship. These tentacles are strong and sticky and are used to pull crew to their deaths.

HomeStead

Before their empire dissolved the Floozies embarked on an ambitious project to seed all of space with life. The homestead whales were the keystone of this endeavor. These large animals provide habitats for a host of other forms of life. In the millennium since the end of the Floozies they have continued to spread and evolve.

Poreback whales are huge creatures the size of carrier ships. They carry hosts of symbiotic life forms in special organs. They are infamous for swallowing ships whole. Once inside the crew are sieged by hordes of strange creatures desperate for their raw elements. When threatened they release swarms of defenders. There are rumors of human villages inside these creatures.

Grass Mothers are serpentine whales covered in shaggy green solar collectors. They are always budding off "trees" biomechanical constructs made of wood and plastic. They are considered a pest species as the forests they make are a navigational hazard. When attacked they retaliate with powerful lasers.

Dream Voyagers 

The rarest clade are the dream voyagers. In addition to their rip drives these creatures can travel between realities. It is unknown if they were created by the Obelisk Dreamers for some obscure purpose, or if they evolved in some strange dimension. Regardless they can be found in the far corners and weird places of space, phasing in and out of reality on some unknowable pilgrimage.

Dream singers have cigar shaped bodies, blunt head and a ring of posterior tentacles. They emit a constant psychic signal that is experienced as other worldly music. Their songs are always shifting and evolving, evoking anomalous emotions and images of alien vistas. Long term exposure can lead to the unlocking of latent mental powers, massive personality shifts and physical mutation. When attacked their music turns chaotic and painful, leading to temporary hallucinations that let the whale slip away.

Beholding whales are thankfully rare. Their entire body is one big eye. They feed with their gaze; they can telekinetically disassemble anything they look at. They seem to prefer non living and inanimate prey but will sometimes attack spaceships. When threatened by an attacker they can't simply disintegrate, they literally blink out of reality. They are said to be from a dimension called the Beholding, but its location is not known.

Locations

The Far Giant is a titanic spacecraft making a slow journey to Andromeda. It is a gas giant planet with a fusion candle engine. It has been traveling for hundreds of thousands of years and has barely made it into intergalactic space. Its mass has dragged a small sliver of woundspace with it, making rip drive travel possible. It is theorized that sometime in the future woundspace will "tear" and the Far Giant will be cut off. As of now the gas bags are sending constant caravans of whales loaded with genetic information and raw elements, seemingly trying to fuel up for the voyage. There are constant attempts by telluric life forms to colonize the planets moons, in order to piggyback on the gas bag's expedition, but the space around the planet is infested with dangerous space organisms designed to prevent such an occurrence.

The Green Ring is the ultimate expression of the homesteader project. It is a toroid of gas around a neutron star and it throngs with life. Everything here is in freefall including the flora; vast mats of rugose algae and crystal like trees. The animals here are a mix of the pisciform  and the avian. There are schools of tiny darters and vicious swooping raptors. This region serves as an important breeding ground for many species of space whales. There is a tribe of mutated humans living here. They have a sophisticated and unified culture despite their primitive technology and the large amount of territory they occupy. They attack anyone who trespasses without permission. It is rumored that their god is an organic supercomputer made by the Floozies.
Speaker Greenwing is the designated diplomat for the tribe. The extant of her diplomacy is usually growling threats over a radio channel and artistically desecrating bodies, but if a visitor approaches with humility and respect, she may deign to meet with them. She is mostly human, with wicked fangs and large bat-like wings. Only those that undergo a mutagenic initiation are allowed to explore the ring.

The Only Audience is a luxury space yacht owned by white hole records. It serves as a sort of emergency retreat for musicians; when an artist gets stuck on a record they are sent to the Only Audience for inspiration. The Audience patrols known Dream Singer migration routes, hoping to follow those strange creatures. Their ethereal songs have been the inspiration for many a chart topping hit.

 Constant exposure to their psychic emanations has mutated the crew. Many of them are choiriod, a condition marked by musical obsession and supernumerary mouths. They are mostly harmless; merely strange shadows of their former selves. The real danger are the Soloists. These mutants have an innate mastery of memetics. They can sense a person's mental state and detect any memeplexes they carry. They can create memetic pathogens or counter agents. They can turn people into choiriod and effortlessly control them. Unfortunately, the transformation comes with significant mental effects. Soloists are all amoral detached egotists. They use their powers to fulfill distorted versions of their desires from their ordinary life.

The Only Audience has seen several Soloists emerge over the years. On the one hand, records with powerful memetic agents sell well. On the other hand, White Hole records has had to  pay a couple of fines for Crimes Against Sapience. As a precaution they've hired a counter memeticist to watch for signs of infection. They've just stuck their head into the recycler after leaving a note in which they refer to themselves in the third person. White Hole finds this incredibly suspicious, and is looking to hire independent investigators.

Gral Onaste is the captain. She is a middle aged human woman. She is somewhat unhappy with her current position. The job pays well but she has to follow weird space monsters through dangerous territory while taking orders from high strung musicians. She is competent and experienced and also addicted to a drug called Serkov, which makes her believe in a god of the same name. If she is the Soloist she will seek to convert the galaxy to Serkovism.

Kaylyle Arten is the head of the in-house session band. In addition to his other duties, he is under secret corporate mandate to keep the talent precisely medicated. To this end he has a vast collection of narcotics, full of rare, esoteric and frightening drugs. He's turned this job into a thriving side business. Half the crew are his customers, including the captain. If he is the Soloist  he will use his powers to make the people around him self destruct for his amusement.

Sklurge is a young Flesh 7 starlet. Her stage persona is loud and outgoing, but she is actually quite shy, so she spends her time hiding in the air vents to escape her handlers. She is aided in this by her snakelike body. If she is the soloist, she wishes to gain a mindless cult following, which is normal for a pop star and White Hole Records Will want to keep her under contract.

*They have colonized both gas giants and ice giants. Due to the differences in chemistry between these planets it's been hypothesized that there are different species within their civilization, but this has never been proven.
** Wings are useless in vacuum, obviously. However, they're quite handy for skimming through the upper atmosphere of giant planets.


Monday, July 2, 2018

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Reclaimers


The Reclaimers are an alliance of assorted scavengers and squatters who live in the many ruined planets in the galaxy. They are hardy and resourceful people who exist in the margins of galactic society.  Through generations of hard work they slowly terraform their planets, making them livable after disaster and misuse. The allience is connected by a network of interstellar trade caravans that also enable a steady flow of migrants and wanderers. There is a class of warriors called "Road Knights"  who make slow, meandering pilgrimages, causing and solving problems with their violent skills.

 Races and factions

The Orn are a type of sapient fungus. What most consider an Orn is actually a sort of fruiting body, or as the Orn themselves call it, an "avatar". The true bulk of any Orn is a mass of mycelium growing within a specific medium.  These avatars vary widely in appearance, with most being humanoid in body plan, but quadrupeds and vermiform body plans are also common. They have a smooth, fungal texture and come in a variety of vivid colors. Orn typically do not wear clothing beyond pouches and bags to carry tools. They lack visible eyes, but have patches of short tendrils that are powerful sense organs.
Technically, Orn is the name of the group mind which all Orn are a part of. The groupmind consensus is created by the sharing of chemical thought messages. As the Orn are spread across the galaxy, the groupmind is maintained by couriers sharing these chemical messages between every Orn world.  The Orn supermind is a diffuse, scattered being, experienced by Orn individuals as something more akin to a living drug trip than a conscious entity. The nature of the supermind is hierarchical, in that it is composed of a multitude of smaller groupminds. Every Orn world has its own ruling intelligence, which are turn composed of a host of regional groupminds.

Those Who are not Orn represent a significant taxonomic difficulty. In appearance and physiology they are indistinguishable from the Orn. The only thing that separates them is their refusal to participate in the racial group mind. Instead of choosing a separate identity, they define themselves by their opposition. Those who are not Orn are found where ever the Orn are, existing in the criminal fringes.

Scollapendrites are insectile Sapients with long segmented bodies and dozens of legs. Non-breeding adults range from one and three meters long. They are obligate carnivores who prefer live prey. Females must make a conscious decision to become fertile, which triggers a tremendous growth spurt. A Scollapendrite "Broodmother" is between 20 and thirty meters long, and up to 6 meters tall. They require a tremendous amount of food, to the point where their hunger can overwhelm their rational minds. They are traditionally kept in "Motherlands", segregated caverns away from major population centers.. Much of Scollapendrite culture and politics concerns who can become a a Broodmother and when they are allowed to do so. 

The Church of the Holy Vermin was originally a Scollapendrite institution though its membership has expanded since its founding. They worship the small, seemly inconsequential life forms that Scollapendrites feed off of. Through donations, discovers and the occasional holy conquest the church has come to possess a number of Vermin Engines, Ancient Floozy devices that generate constant streams of small life forms. The Church uses this engines to create mass amounts of food for the population. They use this leverage to gain a great deal of political power. If a polity doesn't fall in line with the Church, they'll cut off the food supply to the Broodmothers, making them go mad with hunger.

The Reclaimers settle planets that most consider uninhabitable, those with weak biospheres or poisonous atmospheres or live war machines. Some apocalypses go even further, leaving the planet's surface completely sterilized. For those planets the Church of the Holy Vermin uses one their vermin engines to bring the Rain of Fish. They seed the planet's atmosphere with billions of airborne larvae that feed off trace elements and sunlight. When they grow too large, they plummet to the planet's surface, bringing vital microbial life.  Reseeding a planet like this takes decades of work. The church funds these efforts by encouraging pilgrimages to these ruined worlds. For a sizable donation, travelers can join the Carnival of Fish, a perpetual party on the surface of whatever world the Rain of Fish is currently visiting. Eating the fallen fish is said to have great health and spiritual benefits. For those who are dubious about eating food off the charred dirt of a ruined world, the carnival offers an impressive array of vices for a party thrown by a church.

The Yongger are sapient cyborgs that emerge from the Ger, a type of feral autonomous infrastructure. Yongger have an intuitive connection with The Ger, but they are not its masters. Those are long gone. Still, through careful cultivation the Yongger can direct the Ger to produce what they need. This makes the Yongger* an important part of the Reclaimer alliance. Ger gardens are found on many Reclaimer worlds.

Planets

Gger, the wild factory. This planet is the birthplace of the Yongger and the Ger. Here, in the distant past the Ger reached its apex then broke down. Now the Ger grows like mold among the bones of its golden age. The Yongger Sky Clan has its capital here, a city built on a vast grass covered roof. They mine the planet's ruins for Ger organs and drones, which they transplant into their own infrastructure. They have to compete with all the other Yongger Clans. The other clans range from merely suspicious to rabidly xenophobic, and usually take a dim view of any aliens they find in their territory.

Shrang-Ga, the spore shrouded world. This reclaimer world is the alleged home planet of the Orn race. Vast tracts of fungal forest cover the surface. The air is choked with dangerous spores, making it a hard world for non-Orn to inhabit. The few cities here are built in mountain ranges or on protected coasts. It is said that Shrang-Ga is the crossroads of the mind of Orn, where the thoughts of all of Orn across the galaxy meet and mingle. It is home to the spore couriers, who carry chemical messages from here to other reclaimer worlds. It is also home to the monks of ego, a sect of Orn priests who coordinate the actions of all of Orn.

FestLa, the riotous wastes. This planet was home to a human civilization that destroyed itself thousands of years ago. The surviving humans here have joined the Reclaimers and are now picking over the ruins of their world. Here,  a curious variety of Orn grows. When seeded into a freshly dead human, the young Orn absorbs the deceased's memories and personalities, resulting in "humans who are Orn". The "WhoAre" are the immortal rulers of this planet, human in drive but alien in biology. They hold constant gladiatorial games to find humans worthy of their fungal afterlife. This planet is also home to the Weapon Smiths, a reclusive guild of human weapon makers that are rumored to have an arsenal of planet destroying super weapons.

GranKra, the concrete towers. It is said that it was a weaponized madness that built the eponymous towers. Sometime during the bastard war the former inhabitants were infected by an artificial meme that compelled them to  waste their lives building their own tomb. Massive cyclopean ruins are everywhere. In the current era this planet is ruled by the Scollapendrites, who grow vast fungal farms in the concrete caverns. Here is the largest Motherland, a cordoned off reserve where the Scollapendrite broodmothers live. The locals are haunted by a dangerous clade of Those Who are not Orn, who parasitically infect the locals.

Personalities

Elgron, the Fertile Blade is one of the "WhoAre", Orn who have grown from human bodies. She runs one of the largest fighting pits on FestLa. She watches most games from her private box, looking for contestants worthy of her gift. When she finds a likely subject, she enters the pit herself. She is fast, strong and fights with sword impregnated with fatal spores. Facing her is almost certain death, which is the point. Those that die worthy deaths against her are seeded with orn spores to become WhoAre. Those that disgrace themselves in their final moments have their skulls split open and their brains dashed out. Still, by pit master standards she is merciful; she generally airs on the side of reincarnation, only annihilating those she finds personally distasteful .She lets those who found their way into the pit without full knowledge of what exactly they were getting into off with a light maiming**.

Gilthain who is not Orn runs the Temple of Red Waters, a curious retreat in the region of ShrangGa known as the eye of Not Orn. This remote temple complex in a secluded and unsettled area of ShrangGa sees a surprising number of pilgrims. This is because it is known among the criminal underworld that the Temple of Red Waters is a safe place where those down on their luck can find shelter and opportunity. Gilthian positions itself as a monk and spiritual teacher, but it's more a fixer. Many a criminal enterprise has found the right talent through Glithain's suggestions.

Ger-Ker-Ka is the Steward of the Motherlands on GranKa. She is in command of the legion of servants who maintain the caverns and bring food to the Broodmothers. Her fondest desire is to become a Broodmother herself, but the Church of Holy Vermin has the final say on who can do so. She is planning on becoming a rouge mother, an outlaw breeder. She needs to find the perfect spot to do so. She has been hiring outsiders to do covert scouting missions in the unexplored concrete labyrinth that covers most of the planet. She claims that she's worried about monsters invading the sanctuary of the Motherlands, but really she's looking for caverns with enough food to support her transformation.

Goggolian is a Yongger merchant who runs a Ger shop in the Reclaimer colony on GGer. They buy Ger organs and drones from explorers who scavenge them from the depths below. They have a fixation on the past of Gger, and will pay handsomely for any relics or fossils from the planet's earlier eras. In the back room of their shop they have about 75% of a primordial Ger drone, a massive cybernetic creature no longer found on Gger. At night it howls electronically, sending garbled and disturbing text messages to any communicators. 


*Techinally, only the Yongger Sky Clan is a member of the alliance, though this is a distinction the Sky Clan themselves are eager to overlook. They don't want to have to tell people about their cannibal cousins who live in the bowels of their homeworld if they can't help it.
**She's rather apologetic about it, but rule are rules and the pit demands blood. She refers the newly maimed to her lover Hquil Gorond, a human cyberneticist who will give them a new limb for a significant discount.