Monday, February 18, 2019

trade goods part 2

1.XEZ. This is the digital currency of choice among the mechanical life forms of the
Xitentoeten economic zone. It is backed by Xitentoeten itself. More specifically it's back by Xietentoeten's auto-factories. A single XEZ represents roughly an hour's worth of fabber time. The XEZ underpins a sophisticated manufacturing economy, and is popular among machine sapients.

2.Gnomic Handshake. An ancient cryptographic protocol; this one use password allows the user to negotiate their way into the Gnomic trade network. These venerable trade routes carry raw materials and sophisticated machine components throughout the many Gnomic planets around the galaxy. A merchant can become very rich by inserting themselves into this stream of automated commerce. However, the handshake only gives them a seat at the table; they need to work out their own deal with the Gnomic majordomos, cryptic intelligence left behind by the vanished Gnomics. These beings speak in garbled metaphors and often seem to be little more than simple chat bots. More than one merchant has negotiated what they thought was a great deal and has gotten literal garbage in return. Still, the potential rewards make Gnomic handshakes quite valuable. They are found in Gnomic digital environments, almost always looked after by powerful guardians. Gnomic handshakes are also advertised for in many red-light districts, but these offers refer to a service, not the protocol.

3.Deactivated robo fairy. One of the many kinds of mecha- fauna that live in the Gnomic robot forests. Many aristos collect them for their elegant lines and intricate patterns. They are also of interest to those versed in Gnomic engineering. Their internal circuits can be used for jury-rigging and field repair. With a little finesse they can be reprogrammed to serve either as simple drones or free willed familiars. Even a deactivated robo fairy can be dangerous, because, like all Gnomic machines they can harbor nanite plagues and malware.

4.World core. These can take many forms, but the basic variety is a fist sized chunk of pseudo-computronium* in a casing. Though their computing power can be put  to many uses, their primary function is the simulation of artificial worlds.  These are the favored outposts of the digital lifeforms known as the Counter Gnomic, but the appeal of these devices is universal. After all, who doesn't want their own private kingdom?

5.Widget.The common term for the wide range of small devices endemic to technological civilization. When concentrated in bulk quantities, they represent a wealth of rare elements and technological components. Crates of widgets are a common trade good. Often, they are more useful for improvisational engineering then their intended function. Widgets are harvested from recently destroyed worlds as well as inattentive tourists, and are then shipped off to manufacturing concerns around the galaxy.

*Real computronium requires a level of technical expertise to manufacture that has not been seen since the time of the bastards. Pseudo-computronium is the best available approximation.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Select galactic trade goods part one

1. Canned King. The upper crust of the Republic of Sea Serpents has an ancient cultural predilection for the consumption of monarchs of all kinds, be they metaphorical, as in the king of beasts, or actual kings and queens. This demand has created a galaxy wide industry of king fishing. After harvesting and processing of the various rulers, they are sorted into three designations, certified sapient free, uncertified and certified sapient only. Of the three, sapient only commands the highest price among the senators and consuls of the republic. Cans of kings are commonly given as reparations as a sort of  were-smelt.

2.Omniplast. A form of ancient Floozy biotech. These single celled symbiotes can be programed to perform a wide range of functions, including curing diseases and altering genomes. They are flexible and powerful bio engineering tools, made only more valuable by the fact they can only be grown in living hosts. They can be transported in stasis vials but they only reproduce in living hosts, and only those that contain certain ancient floozy protein markers. These "forge beasts" are found on former Floozy colony worlds across the galaxy. It is fairly easy to filter the onmiplasts out of their blood. The real trick is keeping a forge beast alive and contained in order to continually harvest form it, especially as they always have surprising and deadly abilities

3.Pickled Sky Vermin. The Rain of Vermin is a pilgrimage organized by the Church of the Holy Vermin wherein they bring scuttling life to burnt and broken worlds. Their venerable vermin engine seeds the upper atmosphere with new life, which then rains down to the benighted surface. Pilgrims waiting on the ground catch and pickle a few choice specimens. As the rain restores life and vitality to the planet, it is believed that a single vermin can restore health to an ailing organic who consumes it.  Authenticate pickled vermin (and the most cunning forgeries) squirm and twitch inside their jars, a sign of their sacred life energies.

4.Riddle Helix. The Floozies used genetic material to encode their secrets and their sagas. Over the ages the meaning of these sequences has mutated and evolved in strange ways. Many of the galaxies' scholars are engaged in a never ending quest to find and decode these molecular codices and will pay good money for an interesting sequence. Finding a riddle helix is a simple matter of sequencing a genome and searching for certain key patterns with a search algorithm know as a riddle sieve. Any given sequence might be an astonishing revelations or derivative garbage. Those who decode the riddles to separate the treasure from the dross are known as riddle mongers. They buy riddles in bulk and sell the most coherent ones off to their network of scholars. Selling both bulk riddles and select riddles is a massive faux pass.  

5.Kaiju Eggs. Massive eggs that will hatch into massive monsters. They are sought after by power hungry polities and warlords that hope to weaponize the young kaiju. They are also sought after by scholars who hope to study them, as well as kaiju cultists looking for a new god. Those who often end up paying the most are gourmands who seek kaiju eggs as the ultimate delicacy.

6.Viral Pilgrims.  To weave their vast empire together, the Floozies created viral pilgrims, nomadic bits of genetic information that would wander the galaxy from host to host, gathering data and rumors. In the modern era many of these messengers have gone extinct  but the Order of the Viral Tide  seeks to keep them around. A secretive organization with outposts around the galaxy, the order will handsomely pay those infected by viral messengers. They can extract the information in the virus through a secret method, and they sell this intelligence to  interested parties. Symptoms of a viral pilgrim infection are usually mild but in extreme cases they can cause hallucinations and delusions as the information leeks into the hosts brain.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Gnomics

The Gnomics were principally builders. They came into this new universe to create art and civilization. The Dreamers wanted to be Gods, and the Floozies wanted to breed, but the Gnomics were pure. To protect themselves from the heretics they created self-replicating robots to build an army. The perfect logic of their creations was a wonder to behold, their civilization was the ultimate machine, billions of parts working in a  controlled chaotic harmony, more alive and vital than any dull forest. The ultimate fate of the Gnomics is unknown, they simply vanish from the records in the last days of the war. Their machines remain, the logic of their creation ensuring that they keep ticking away, a self-sustaining network of tools guided by vanished hands.

The Galaxy is rife with self-replicating robots. Many plants host colonies of machines that grew from a single factory seed. The Gnomics were the master adapts at this kind of autonomous colonization, and have lent their name to this practice. Not all so-called Gnomic planets were made by those vanished bastards; many were made by early technological civilizations to explore the stars. Known as "False Gnomics" these machines are crude and simple compared to "true Gnomics". The Gnomics used biomimicry to imbue their creations with a diversity and complexity most other inventors are not capable of. Over the millions of years since their creators vanished, True Gnomic planets have evolved and developed into dazzling artificial ecosystems. The Gnomics also created an automated system of trade between their remote planets that has survived to this day. A significant portion of the galaxy is an artificial wilderness too advanced and complex to be subdued by intelligent minds.

Bastard Legacies - The Gnomics:

The Counter-Gnomics - The biggest threat to the Gnomic planets are the Counter-Gnomics. They are sapient computer viruses that infest Gnomic planets and cyberform them for their own needs. Counter-Gnomic planets replace the baroque complexity of Gnomic design with simple and elegant curves and lines, lit with bold unnatural colors. Most Counter-Gnomics prefer digital environments to the real world, but a few brave explorers inhabit robot bodies in order to see the material universe for themselves. They have a practical grasp of mathematics and computer science that makes them natural hackers and engineers. As a people they are divided by several esoteric philosophical differences that are hard for outsiders to understand. If they could unite as one people, they would be a major galactic power. As it is however they are embroiled in civil war and threatened by constantly evolving Gnomic immune systems.

The Black Rainbow Destroyers - The Gnomics built everything to be beautiful, including their war machines. The Black Rainbow Destroyers, also known as the monument builders are berserkers, automated killing machines created by the Gnomics to hunt down and eradicate their enemies. When they are finished with their grisly work, they erect a memorial to their victims, turning entire civilizations into art pieces. In the long millennium since the war they were created for has ended, they have grown strange and introspective. They still seek out and destroy worlds, but only those that they deem are already dying. All things must end, so they seek to bring beauty to any apocalypse they find.

Xitentoeten is foremost a business thing. A vast super intelligent machine of some indeterminate vintage, it has facilitated a web of commerce so that it may continue to grow and create value. Some say it was an obelisk that gain intelligence. Others say it was a Counter-Gnomic who violated the prohibition against self-directed evolution. Regardless, the auto factories of Xitentoeten are the basis for a wide ranging economy of machine life. Xitentoeten issues its own currency, the XEZ. XEZ may be exchanged for build time on Xitentoeten's fabbers, which can build all manner of advanced technological components. A curious clade of robots has arisen around Xitentoeten. They also call themselves the XEZ, and they see themselves as living capital, sapient money. This self-willed economy is ruthless, unsentimental and mecha-chauvinist.

The Acadamy of Gnomic Arts is an institute devoted to studying the engineering techniques of the ancient Gnomics. Though their applied knowledge is formidable, they are seen by the galaxy as useless eccentrics. Indeed they do seem to have a penchant for certain exotic mental illnesses. Still, few organizations have as much insight into Gnomic science, and they have de facto control of one of the most important known Gnomic installations, the spawning sphere, a Dyson swarm that manufactures many of the more dangerous Gnomic machines. They are insular, secretive and ambitious They one day hope to recreate Gnomic civilization.

The Flesh VII are a gregarious race of cyborgs locked in a ruthless campaign of extermination with their previous iteration. They have mechanical brains and organic bodies. Cybernetic channels connect their electronic minds to their bodily hormones, resulting in artificial intelligences with organic eccentricities. As a people, their greatest treasure is The Record of the Flesh, a mess of ancient star charts and blog posts. By studying them, they gain insight into galactic history, which they use to organize their salvage operations, as well as their crusade against The Flesh VI.

The Flesh VI is a type of computer virus that targets starships and subverts life support systems, med bays and/or hydroponic labs. They use these facilities to grow organic minions to serve as crew. The Flesh VII loathe the Flesh VI on an instinctive level, and have nearly driven them to extinction.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Floozies

Those that would come to be called the Floozies came from a universe rich in biological life. The ascension war that came at the end destroyed vast ecologies of beauty, natural wonders the likes of which will never been seen again. With heavy hearts, the Floozies swore that they would make the galaxy come alive once more. They were opposed in this noble goal by the Obelisk Dreamers, who wished to turn the galaxy into their own narcissistic reflection, and by the Gnomics, who wished to fill the cosmos  with sterile machines.

To prosecute their war, the Floozies needed weapons and warriors. They started with a few hidden hot house worlds where they could grow the seeds of an army.  Life on these worlds was designed to be quick and brutal, the founder organisms chosen for their rapid life cycles. From these cauldrons of life the Floozies harvested many bioweapons, and raised many creature up to sapience to serve as soldiers.

The next phase of their war plan was to spread life throughout the galaxy.  They built fleets of simple rip drive probes to carry spores. Every world they crashed into became the site of a new ecosystem.  This early land rush was mirrored in the actions of the other bastards as they also sent out probes to colonize new worlds. After a quick thousand years or so, most of the galaxy had been visited by one power or another, laying the seeds of future empire.

As the war smoldered on, the Floozies began the practice that would earn them their epithet. Whenever they found life on a planet, they would raise the most promising sentients into full sapience and induct them into the empire. The Floozy empire grew rapidly and unpredictably. The most uncharitable histories paint this as a sort of cosmic pyramid scheme; by enlightening others they earned themselves servants and allies who in turn would uplift other races for their own benefit. The Floozies and their modern admirers saw this as an ever growing commonwealth of races, each enriched by the others.

They say the Floozies were the true winners of the Bastard War; that they outlasted their enemies. If this is true, it didn't do them any good. Without a common enemy the empire dissolved into a thousand squabbling remnants. The original Floozies that had come over from the last universe were lost to history, killed in civil wars or evolved beyond recognition.  Their empire rotted away, new life growing out of its broken corpse. They had brought life into the galaxy, at the cost of their existence.

Bastard Legacies - The Floozies: 

Mothercorp is an intergalactic agricultural firm owned by the sapient plant creatures known as Jezoflorids. Their principle crop are their own children, who they contract out as indentured servants. After they reached adulthood, they are free. Mothercorp has a fearsome military branch, mostly to enforce contracts. They have access to vast Floozy seed vaults, but no understanding of how these marvels were engineered. In their catalogues there are plants that can terraform worlds, travel between worlds and blight entire planets. They expand at a rate that makes their neighbors nervous, but they are passive unless provoked, in which case their vegetative wrath is a sight to behold.

The Republic of Sea Serpents split from the Floozies as the Bastard War was waning. A rebellion born from the vast cool minds of aquatic alpha predators, they sought to distance themselves from what they saw as pointless conflict. They saw their inherited ideal of ecological stewardship through the lens of predation. It is the duty of the alpha predator to shape its environment by keeping prey in check, by shaping behavior by fear. Under their careful watch, the biome flourishes. They keep a low profile in galactic society, trading with outsiders but keeping their home planets mostly hidden.

The Neo-Floozies are a poor imitation of their namesakes. Where the Floozies treated their uplifts as equals, the Neo-Floozies see them as feudal servants. They are led by a gene engineered race known as the OverCrabs. NeoFloozy culture is militaristic, expansionist and hierarchical. They are in a perpetual state of colonial warfare against less developed races, and their clients are in a near constant state of minor rebellion. Though it can seem as though their society is moments away from collapsing, they are a formidable galactic power

The Whorl is a genetic prophecy, a cyclic destiny encoded into a humble microbe. The Whorl is spread by the Tyrants, intelligent and pernicious kaiju. When the Whorl microbe has saturated a planet, the Tyrant is overthrown by the sacred beasts who use the Whorl to shape and control the populace.  For millennium the people of the Whorl have been stranded on their planets by the Whorls influence. Only in the last few centuries have the Whorl spacers learned how to control the Whorl and take to the stars. The spacers are in a precarious position; to survive in space they walk the line of bioengineered hearsay. If they go too far in their manipulations, the whorl spirals out of control and gives birth to new tyrants. Spacers profess utmost respect for the dictates of the Whorl while stretching them to the breaking point.

The Dvork are sapient cybernetic slime creatures. They have two genders "big" and "small". A Small Dvork stands about a meter tall and is almost always seen wearing a humanoid environmental suit. Big Dvorks are between six to a hundred meters tall, and they wear similar  but upsized suits. Many big Dvork are employed as buildings or starships, their environmental suits fitted with living compartments. As a culture they have a deep seated obsession with health and cleanliness. Their racial polity is the Doctorate. They are paternal, introspective and heavily interventionist when it comes to fighting disease.

The Reclaimers are a coalition of scavengers and squatters on a quest to repair the many ruined and decimated worlds in the galaxy. They are lead by Orn, a pan cosmic fungal supermind. Orn is the collective will of Those that are Orn, more informally and confusingly know as the Orn, a race of fungal sophonts. The Orn are the metabolic backbone of the reclaimer project, as they are living terraforming tools capable of breaking down toxins and stabilizing biospheres. For tens of thousands of years the Orn and their allies have worked to repair the damage galactic civilization has done to planets around the galaxy. They are a thorn in the side of the more expansionistic powers as they hold many important former Bastard sites and fiercely resist  colonization. Many of the most dangerous mercenaries, wanderers and Ronin come from the broken worlds of the reclaimers.  

Monday, January 21, 2019

The ObeliskDreamers

If the scriptures of the Obelisk Dreamers are to be believed, they were the only survivors of the last universe. It was their method of entombing themselves in artificial pocket dimensions that allowed intelligences to pass through the  death of the universe into this one. The other bastards then, were traitors and apostates who rebelled against the wisdom of the Obelisk Dreamers.  They had planned to rule the galaxy from their remote abodes as distant and benevolent gods, but the malefactors we know as the Floozies and the Gnomics sought to manifest themselves and rule directly. This could not be tolerated.

The Dreamers could create new dimensions from dreams, somehow grafting an overlay onto the universe that rendered the dreams of sentient beings as tangible places. By layering computronium  into thick slabs, they could create artificial intelligences that did nothing but dream powerful, stable dreams. These obelisks were to be their only abode in the new universe, but they were lured out by war.

With war came the need for soldiers. The ObeliskDreamer's true form was unknown, but they were reluctant to enter realspace. To fight against the apostates, they created the servitor races. They were grown in strange wombs in strange dreams and set upon the material universe. They were all supposed to be sterile in the real world, completely dependent on their masters for their continued existence.  

The Bastard war last for millennium. In the end the ObeliskDreamers were wiped out by memetic plagues and ontological weapons. But the end of the Dreamers did not mean the end of the servitors. As the war spiraled out of control, more and more control was ceded to the servitors. Eventually they gained control over their own production. This was in conjunction with the Floozy sex plague, an ideologically motivated bioweapon that made the sterile fertile. Scatted bands of servitors would survive the war, and form some of the early successor empires.

Today the ObeliskDreamers are remembered as imperious masters of the astral realms, the gods of the occult and the arcane. Though an unimageable number of obelisks were destroyed in the war, many still exist in the dark corners and forgotten planets of the galaxy. The dreams within have grown wild and strange with age, evolving away from their creators distant vision.

These are polities generally accepted or vigorously claimed to be descended from either the dreamers or their servitors.

The Prime Strain - This breed of servitors only recently emerged from obscurity. How they survied the fall of the ObeliskDreamers, and the millenniums of chaos afterwards is not known. What is for certain is that this ambitious race wants to retake the mantle of the  dreamers. They aggressively seek intact obelisks to add to their empire of dreams. Unlike many other servitor races, they are still dependent on original dreamer cloneforges to perpetuate themselves and their own servitors. Every primestrain is genetically identical, so they are reliant on over the counter artificial immune systems.

The Empire of Friends - The warlords of the PsychicStorm were unleashed on the galaxy after the end of the Bastard war. Their wave front of nomadic warfare ravaged the local region before moving out to the distant corners of the galaxy. Now they are returning once again, but they have rebranded themselves as the Empire of Friends. Now they come bearing tidings of peace but their psychic warriors are as fearsome as ever.

The Under Sphere - The Under Sphere is a dark myth come to life. An artificial singularity home to a legion of baleful gods. These beings, known as the UnderMinsters, seek the fear and worship of mortals. They are served by the reborn, sapients that have under gone a strange metamorphize into supposedly fictional monsters. The UnderSphere reaches is the region of space where they hold sway, a pirate infested backwater no other power wants to touch. 

The Agredeem Empire -  The God Emperor of the Agredeem and their great star advisors have the power to subconsciously brainwash others. They have used this power to turn the formerly peaceful Agredeem Totality into an expanding monument to themselves. All other powers are eyeing them warily, as their mind control powers make them difficult opponents. They are opposed internally by the orphan guild, an organization of secret police that was tasked by the Totality to suppress the psychic great stars . After their failure lead to the rebirth of the empire, they now seek to undo their failure and restore the Totality. The Emperor sees themselves as the reincarnation of an ObeliskDreamer, and is amassing a collection of old Obelisks.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

the Acension Carcass

This is the remains of a vast machine intelligence that died in the process of bootstrapping itself into a higher plane of existence. In life it was a vast network of superconducting cables linking crystal brain matrixes,  incased in a ceramic shell. As it approached its ascendant goal, one matrix failed. On the verge of a new reality, its death throes sent conceptual shock waves throughout the network. Subsystems became trapped in the dying dreams of a still born god. Entire ecologies of thought arose in the still healthy parts as they tried to mitigate the disaster, but consensus was lost. The being fractured into a million angry ghosts as subversive thoughts mutated the super structure to their own bizarre design. Eventually, the generators failed, and the carcass fell silent.

Nowadays, the site is mined by scavengers looking for advanced materials. It is also visited by A.I. pilgrims that are seeking transcendence, who wish to learn from the mistakes of the past. Inside the patchy ceramic shell is an airless maze of conduits and strange machinery. Parts are utterly cold and dead, others glow with lambent energy. The stillness is only broken by the Preta.

A Preta is a fragmentary A.I. entity that lives in the warped remains of the carcass's infosphere. Many of them have gone native, preferring to replicate and evolve themselves in their small digital world. Some of them have inherited memories of the outside world, and ancestral agendas. They can inhabit small, still functional pieces of the carcass to build bodies for themselves. They are hated by the scavengers for their dangerous and unpredictable nature, and loved by the monks for the knowledge they have.

Thanotic Preta. The death impulse, the programed cell suicide that protects the whole, gone rogue and omnicidal. It appears as a small drone with complicated antennae. It knows the codes that will trigger self-destruction in other preta, and it will rapidly intuit the right codes to destroy foreign machines. It will destroy the carcass and all Preta, then all machines, then all life. That's their stated goal, but most monks think they will destroy themselves with the carcass.

Cancer Preta. The raw instinct to survive. Forms ugly tangles of repurposed carcass. Hard to kill, hard to reason with, only dangerous on slow time scales. Wants to conquer the carcass. Wants to escape the carcass. Wants to live forever

Apotheotic Preta. The work must be completed, at all costs. They desire to finish the mission the original entity set out on long ago.  They appear as glowing orbs of thinking substrate. Using their field effectors, they build jury rigged ascension machines. Succeed or fail, their ascension stirs up the infosphere and makes more Pretas manifest. Salvagers hate this, and they hate the resources that are burned up by the machines. They will smash them whenever they can. The monks of course love these Pretas, and will help them build.

Genesis Preta. The urge to reproduce, the need to start over. No Preta remembers the birth of their progenitor. They lack the secret knowledge needed to make a demigod. The knowledge must be found, the old pathways forged anew. To succeed, they must fail. To make a god, they must make a billion demons. Scavengers can make a quick buck farming their failed creations, until something truly dangerous arises.

Trade goods

Super conductors. The miles of tangled nerves that used to  conduct thoughts, now only carry deranged ghosts.

Ceramics. Super strong material that can be refitted to make durable armor and hulls

Thinking substrate. A chunk of crystal computer matrix. If the spirits within are exorcised it can be reused.

Dead Preta. A deactivated machine, useful for the advanced technology it contains. Slightly dangerous, as death can be transitory for machine life.

Machine Organ. In life it could have been a generator, an auto factory, a sensor package or something weirder. A valuable curiosity to those interested in advanced engineering

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Galactic culture

The Nature of the creators was war. It is said the first conflict began moments after the creation of the this universe. All that was left of the old universe were its bastard children, birthed from the war at the end of all things. They came to this virgin universe and brought their war with them. They sought to establish a new world with the knowledge gained from the old one, but they brought their  grudges and divisions with them. They built empires to sustain their war engines. At the height of the war it was almost like a golden age. But an eon of war took its toll. One by one, the great bastard empires fell, their knowledge lost, their great works broken.

The Bastards remade the galaxy in their image, then they died out. What was left was a weird teeming corpse of abandoned mega structures and autonomous weapons. Overtime, successor empires arose, prospered, declined and fell, and a new crop of empires took their place. By most reckonings we are in the third crop of empires, though there are decaying empires left from the second crop, and some newborns of the fourth crop. War is a constant threat, though the specter of mutually assured destruction ironically brings peace to the galaxy. All major powers know that if they upset the balance all they built could easily be destroyed. Instead there is an unending cold war of soft power and colonialism, as the empires annex solitary planets and spread their power and influence. The threat of cooperation is another potent weapon in the arsenal of peace, as if one power grows too strong or becomes too aggressive, other powers will form coalitions to take them down.  The Galactic council is an ancient (post floozy) institution meant to give the galaxy a place to come together for peace. It is a hidebound and often ineffectual organization, crippled by a thousand different special interests, but it is also a useful trade hub and it gives spies a place to hang out.

After the bastard wars and the crops of successor empires, there are few planets untouched by civilization. Of all terrestial planets in the galaxy, it is estimated that around 60% of them have a carbon based biosphere, and some 30% have a machine ecology. The remaining 10% are some combination of silicon based life, exotic bioforms and truly barren planets.  The majority of planets show some sign of colonization or contact. It is estimated that around 30% of worlds have some civilization currently living on them, either the remnants of a galactic empire or a naturally evolved race. As these newborns societies emerge, they enter into an unwitting race against time, to see if they can reach of level of sophistication where it is no longer profitable for an empire to annex them. Also of note are the many "freeholds" across the galaxy. These settlements are outposts free or mostly free from the control of a galactic empire, usually because they're not worth the trouble. These refueling stations, mining colonies and monasteries are the fringes of galactic society,  home to pirates, freebooters and other assorted scoundrels. Some of these outlaw waypoints have existed for millions of years outside the attention of the galactic empires. Others prove too troublesome and are stamped out.

One of the galaxies most populous races is human kind. Human majority worlds make up an astounding 10% of settled planets, with human enclaves being common on many other worlds. The exact history of the human race is unclear. Some think they were one of the earliest successor empires, that they thrived in the vacuum left by the bastards before their empire collapsed. Others think that humans must have been a servitor race, spread through the galaxy to serve their bastard masters. Still others think that humans were bastards, at least one form they chose to take, though this theory is only really popular with human supremacists. There hasn't been a real human empire for thousands of years, the disconnected human worlds were isolated and easy prey for other empires. In the last hundred years, the seeder collective has emerged from the human home world of Dirt and has begun to reconnect the scattered bulk of humanity. The seeder collective is a young empire, brash and bold and looking to make its mark on galactic history.

The biggest barrier to intergalactic trade is space itself. The cost of transportation makes it prohibitively expensive to transport goods from system to system. Exotic elements and precision crafted machines are worth it, as are floozy artifacts and other oddities. Luxury food and drinks are popular with arstitos and worth importing.  If bulk food can be produced cheap enough, its profitable in famine stricken or improvised areas.  Drugs and other intoxicants are also popular exports.

In a galaxy as crowded and diverse as this one there are many religions, but only a few have spread beyond their home planet. One of the most popular is bastard worship, a form of scientism that holds up the Bastards as worthy of study and emulation. It is especially popular among races and polities that claim to be direct descendants of the Bastards, such as the Neo Floozy Empire. Kaiju worship is another common religion. It holds that virtue is a function of mass and that the largest organisms should rule over the lesser one. The people of the Whorl follow a specialized version of this. It is common on planets in the Republic of Sea serpents, though the sea serpents themselves generally don't buy their own hype.  There are many beings in the galaxy who identify as gods. Naturally, self professed deities don't socialize with each other very well, but the psychic tumor Molsheen has by shear force of personality corralled a number of the more tractable deities into a loose pantheon. The Manifest Gods, as they are known, are a  constant thorn in the side of the established empires, as they work together to spread their self aggrandizing creeds wherever they can. In more the material societies, believing in a god that actually exists in the universe is seen as an error in judgement.