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.

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