Monday, May 14, 2018

Bastard Galaxy - A Primer

The Nature of our 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.
Now we live in a dark age among the ruins of those that would be gods. Their war still smolders; berserkers and remnants raging against enemies long gone, dead hands around dead throats.  We build our own empires and prepare for the war to come. In uncountable eons, the universe will end once more, and the old war, the eternal war will flare up again.  We will fight for our right to survive, to colonize the new universe. We will become Bastards.

Bastard galaxy is a game of weird space adventure, in which the players explore an old and crowded galaxy. The Original Bastards spread their empires far and wide, and their successors settled into the ruins.  Galactic society is at a tipping point; numerous empires and powers have arisen and are eyeing each other warily. Another galactic war is on the horizon, and while the current bastards lack the tech of their predecessors, they still have terrible weapons to bring about another apocalypse. It is a time of turmoil and exploration, as the major powers seek secrets from the past to give them an edge in the future. It is a time of opportunity, as the right sapient in the right place can change the flow of history, or at least make themselves very rich.It is a time for bastards, those weird cast-offs who make their own way in a vast Galaxy

The Obelisk Dreamers

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 singularities 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 strange singular arks of the dreamers kept them apart from the physical universe, but they were not entirely powerless. Every dreamer had strange powers of the mind they cultivated in the last universe. Through psychic powers they could affect the very fabric of reality in their proximity. They could propel their singularities at near light speeds, they could manipulate matter and energy, they could even create pockets of space adjacent to normal reality. But they were precious few in number and vulnerable to certain ontological weapons they knew their enemies posed. To save this new galaxy from those that would taint it, they pooled their powers and constructed the dream forges. In turn, the forges gave birth to the legion of obelisks that were seeded across the galaxy. Each obelisk was a psychic repeater that allowed the dreamers to reach out through it and reshape reality according to their whims. Every planet an obelisk landed on became a fortress against the dreamers enemies, a million worlds thriving with intelligent servitors eager to fight for their distant gods.

The dreamers are now gone; the obelisks mostly destroyed. Some say they lost the war, that they fell in battle. There is another tale. It holds that too many obelisks were built, with too few dreamers to control them. Spread thin, the dreamers turned to their subconscious powers to manage their empire. This opened the door to dark figments and desires. To conquer the galaxy, they unleashed their own nightmares and were destroyed by them.

Bastard Legacies - The Obelisk Dreamers:
The Oneironauts- All three bastard empires created pocket dimensions but the dreamers were the most prolific. They have given their name to the decaying network of alternate realities that permeate the galaxy. The Dreamways include well known dimensions such as Wound space and the Thought Skein that are accessible from almost any point in the galaxy, as well as more obscure realms like The Hateful Fluid. The Oneironauts are a coalition of former servitors that seek knowledge and power through exploration and control of these realms. Their holdings are spread out over vast galactic distances. They use the Thought Skein to coordinate their far flung empire. As a galactic power they are territorial and dogmatic. They worship the memory of the Obelisk Dreamers and seek to bring about their return.

The Empire of Friends was born when several clades of psychic warrior servitors rebelled against The Dreamers towards the end of the bastard war.  Their warrior creed is known as the Path of Friendship. It teaches that unity and togetherness is the greatest weapon. It can sound hokey and childish to outsiders until they see a full squad of heavily armed soldiers move with perfect precision. Four races make up the core of the empire. They are the Neon Punks, the Worm Piles, the Power Fetuses and the Synth Heads. The Empire is nomadic; based out of the five sacred stations that wander the galaxy on a slow pilgrimage. The empire is heavily interventionist; the goal of their wandering is to constantly find new injustices to right. 

The Under Sphere - When the Obelisk Dreamers died, their artificial singularities died with them, for the most part. The most notable exception is The Undersphere. The Dreamers within underwent a dark metamorphosis. Now known as the Ministers, these creatures feed off of fear and superstition, appearing to the credulous as dark gods. They are served  by the undead pirates, beings seemly culled from myths and legends. The Undersphere is protected by the under cathedrals, massive  fortress stations crewed by pirates and home to many pet monsters birthed by the Ministers. They have a strong hand in the parasitic dark underbelly of the  galactic economy.

The Agredeem Empire - It is believed that the Agredeem must have been a servitor race of the Obelisk Dreamers, though there is no historical evidence for this. They resemble man sized star fish with eye stalks emerging from the center of the creature. Most of them have only mild empathetic powers; it is the great stars that carry the legacy of the Obelisk Dreamers. They have the power to observe and alter the subconsciousness of sapient beings within a wide radius , but this power is not under their own conscious control. Rather they route it through their own subconscious, aligning the hidden desires and prejudices of their victims with their own. Perhaps one in every five hundred million Agredeem is born a great star. Invariably they use their powers to become the god kings of the Agredeem.  Under the guidance of these pervasive conquerors the Agredeem have carved out a modest empire. In a moment of civilizational lucidity they forswore their god emperors and their instinctive conquests. They turned their empire into a peaceful polity known as The Totality. They had entrusted secret police, the orphan guild, to protect them from the influence of the great stars. For a time it worked, until it didn't. Now the Agredeem are under the sway of a new emperor and his half dozen great star advisors. The major powers are keeping the new empire in check with soft power, but war is inevitable. The scattered remains of the Orphan's Guild still work in the shadows, hoping to bring their wayward race back under control.

The Grand Circuit - The dream forges were all destroyed or lost, save one. Known as the dream of speed, it was launched into hyperspace to keep it safe. It's in there still, racing around the galaxy at several times light speed, dropping in and out of hyperspace in certain locations. It is said that anyone who can catch it is granted one wish. The Grand Circuit is a cultural coalition of those that would try.  To save this precious artifact from those that would misuse it, they keep the location of the dream a secret.  To earn their trust, supplicants must win races. The Grand Circuit hosts many qualifying races in their territory. These races are dangerous treks through exotic locales.  Only after winning four races does a racer earn the right to challenge the Dream. The grand circuit is only a modest power, as they put most of their energy into racing.

The Great Station Mu is an orbital habitat thought to have been constructed by the Obelisk Dreamers. The station is huge; its interior holds more inhabitable space than some planets. Seemly abandoned, its ecosystem laid fallow for hundreds of thousands of years until the Mu-Boll evolved. Archaeological evidence suggests that most faunal species  in the habitat (Mu-boll included)  are descended from a sapient servitor species that evolved away from consciousness. This means that all of their domesticated animals and most of their major predators are close cousins, and many of them are quite clever. This has given the Mu-boll a skewed perspective when it comes to the consumption of sapient and near sapient life. As a galactic power they are young but energetic. They are expert habitat builders and terraformers. They have an alliance with a humanity, but individual relations can be cold. Cloned human meat is a popular food stuff among the Mu-boll.

Woundspace - When a spaceship using a Rip drive exits Woundspace, it creates a temporary gateway to that strange other realm. The natives of woundspace can't survive in our dimension, but they can create creatures that can. They have been fighting a one sided war against regular space by sending autonomous weapons. The most notable of these are the Ilddoss, sapient cybernetic warships. The Illddoss are free willed and have only the barest directives from their makers. The Illddoss don't fight because they have told to, rather they fight to survive in a hostile and alien universe. Most Illddoss are born alone and confused next to a ship that just existed woundspace. These early confusing encounter often lead to violence, which often colors the new Illddoss's worldview.

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. Their first salvo in the bastard war was a wave of a billion spores that would drift out and seed the galaxy with life. They sought to steward and empower life, uplifting local life forms where ever they found them. At their height the Floozie Empire had a million lush worlds under their protection, and millions of races under their banner.

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. It manifests first as a Tyrant, a great and terrible Kaiju capable of interstellar travel. It will find a civilization and conquer. It unleashes plagues and waves of monsters to subjugate the entire planet. In doing so, it spread the whorl microbe and sows the seeds of its undoing. In time, the whorl microbe will select 8 hosts to which it grants great wisdom and power. These sacred beasts will topple the tyrant, and usher in a new age of peace. At this point, the whorl has spread to every lifeform on the planet, changing them. Any sapient life forms are brought under its sway, and are now known as whorlers. Whorlers live in harmony under the sacred beasts who subtly influence their minds. If a whorler is isolated from this mental signal, the whorl microbes in their body breed out of control, triggering a sudden and painful metamorphosis into a new Tyrant. This whorl cycle had kept the whorlers trapped on their own planets for thousands of years until the advent of the spacer whorler culture. The Spacers have unlocked some of the whorl microbe's secrets, and have breed artificial sacred beasts to travel with them. Whorl culture is advanced, dogmatic and insular.

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 Doctor's  Council. They are paternal, introspective and heavily interventionist when it comes to fighting disease.

The Reclaimers are a coalition of scavengers and squatters that settle the ruins of other civilizations. They are led by the Orn, a fungal intelligence. The Orn have hierarchical gestalt intelligences. Technically, Orn is the name of the intelligence to which all Orn belong. This intelligence is composed of multiple other intelligences, which are themselves gestalt minds. At the lowest level there are individual Orn, who live their lives in service to the greater wholes that birthed them. They have access to several advanced Floozy terraforming tools, including the legendary Rain of Fish.

MyrioMinds are swarmlike intelligences. Female MyrioMinds are sensitive, introverted explorers. A male MyrioMind, also known as a Monstrid is a swarm of rapacious monsters. Somehow they make their civilization work. Designed by the Floozies as bioweapons, Monstrids were spread across the galaxy during the Bastard wars. Until recently, the MyrioMinds were confined to their home planet. Without females,  Monstrids can't form new broods. To continue their race and tame their savage kin, MyrioMind have begun to explore the galaxy. As a galactic power they are diplomatic and knowledge seeking, and backed by hordes of flesh eating monsters.

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 a  dream forge 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 Academy 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.

Humans Are Bastards

When humanity emerged from their planetary dark age into the galactic dark age, they made a startling discovery. Long ago humanity colonized the stars, spreading far and wide. The unknown calamity that struck their homeworld, Dirt, also isolated their colonies. Over the ages, humans on Dirt forgot they ever went to space. Among the colonies, Dirt faded to an ancient legend. Now, the new human empire is searching out their lost cousins, seeking to reincorporate them. Despite resistance from their former colonies, the new human empire is expanding rapidly.

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