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.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The concrete tomb

     In an age long past the inhabitants of the planet GranKra paved over their world with concrete. Know who live know why for certain but the legend is that they were infected with a ruinous meme, a weaponized madness. They smothered the native biosphere with a  planet sized complex of tunnels and towers. When their manic work was complete they entombed themselves somewhere deep and hidden and they vanished from history.


     For uncounted years Grankra lay empty and bare, its cement towers gently crumbling. This age of quite decay came to an end with the coming of the reclaimers. The endless miles of damp stone corridors are an ideal environment for Scollapendrites, centipede-like aliens. The major issue they experienced was the complete and utter lack of soil. Together with the Orn, strange fungal sapiens they have managed to bring some measure of life to this desolate world. They are aided in no small part by the Church of the Holy Vermin, whom have deployed several of their vermin engines to help repopulate the planet with crawling things.


     Scran City, also known as the city within the city is the planet's capital and only spaceport. It occupies the topmost layers of the concrete labyrinth. It is a sleepy burg, with little heavy industry and only modest interplanetary trade. Most residents work in agriculture and child rearing. Below the city is one of the most extensive Motherlands in Reclaimer space. On the outskirts of the city are the fungal farms in damp stone chambers. Beyond the farms are the vermin wilds where the vermin engines churn out vast hordes of critters.

     The towers are a perilous vertical environment. The tallest spires are delicate stone needles built beyond the limits of common sense. Space ships moor at retrofitted spars lower in the complex where the structures are more sane and stable. The upper reaches aren't abandoned however. The Wirescape is a district of artists and bohemians above the city. Tight wires between the towers provide high flying roads (humans might find these roads hard to navigate, but Scollapendrites scuttle along with ease)  . One of the foremost arts practiced here is architecture, by necessity. Retrofitting  the narrow towers for habitation is no mean feat. There is tension between the architects and the more grounded folk. After all architecture is what led to the planet's demise in the first place.


     Farming on GranKra is a challenging prospect. There is no soil and little open ground. The Scollapendrites have resorted to mycoculture with the help of the Orn. The Orn use their versatile metabolisms to break down any organic materials, including the concrete. In return the Scollapendrites eat the pests that feed on the Orn, and more rarely, the Orn themselves.

     The most famous fungal farm is the garden of the dead. This large chamber is where all deceased Scollapendrites are interred. The dead serve as their own ephemeral tombstones, their bodies sprouting colorful mushrooms and fungal threads. The Orn here act as archivists and guides, helping the living with their grief and keeping the memory of the dead alive. It isn't the most productive farm but its products are eaten during special festivals to honor the dead.

     The large Orn presence on the planet has led to an infestation of those other fungal Sapients, the not Orn. These mycological rebels parasitize the Scollapendrites in an insidious fashion. They grow inside the their carapaces and take control of their bodies, using them as puppets. They spread by growing fruiting bodies that release spore, preferably from a high place to infect as many as possible. That said, they don't seek total domination, preferring to manipulate Scollapendrite society from the shadows. They are hunted by the worm paladins, a militant sect of the Church of the Holy Vermin that use trained worms to detect them.

     Beneath the city are the Motherlands, a semi wild cave complex that hosts many Scollapendrite Broodmothers, the large breeding females that give birth to all Scollapendrites. Each Broodmother has a carefully tended patch of territory. They feed on cave vermin, but there is barely enough to go around. The wardens have to bring down additional food and moderate disputes between cranky mothers.



The Vermin engines are ancient Floozy devices. They are complex bio-reactors that can take in raw elements out of the environment and synthesize new life forms. They are powered by exotic energies and have been running for thousands of years. Though the Church of the Holy Vermin postures as though the engines do their bidding, the truth is they have been running their own programing since they were discovered. To protect the city from potentially dangerous vermin, the engines are housed beyond the fungal farms, deep in the concrete complex. There are three engines arranged in a  trefoil pattern around the city. They are known as the Engine Enigma, the Engine Vermiform and the Engine Corpulent. Near each engine is a shrine  with the same title, where priests of the church monitor the output of the engines.  The area around the engines is known as the vermin wilds, and it is sparsely settled with hunting camps and waypoints on the path to the vermin shrines. The creatures that emerge from the vermin engines are unpredictable. Each engine has certain morphological quirks and body plans that it favors. Most creatures die before they can reproduce, but a few species have established populations.




The Engine Vermiform belches forth an endless wave of worms. The area immediately around the engine is a gyre of frenzied predation as newly born worms slurp up their smaller siblings. The survivors then squirm out into the labyrinth.

The Engine Enigma weaves delicate gossamer jellies. Some shimmer with phosphorous, while others are invisible. Most have venomous, often psychedelic stings.

The Engine Corpulent makes creatures that are soft and fleshy, moist crawling skin bags. They are usually easy prey for the Scollapendrites, so the wilds Corpulent are the most settled of the vermin wilds. They are not all defenseless however. The larger ones are capable of ferocious bursts of speed and strength.



The Caves of Codex are an unusual formation near the Engine Enigma. This vertiginous cavern complex is covered with alien script. Though some in the city in the city wish to study it, the Church of the holy vermin believes the writing could be an infection vector for the memetic agent that caused the towers to be built. They have been sending teams of acolytes to chip the words away, but the area this close to the Engine Enigma is hazardous, so the work is slow.



The lowest levels of the complex are damp and flooded. They are haunted by the troglodytic ghosts of the planet's old biosphere, simple dead eyed fish like things that live and hunt in the dark. Somewhere down here there is said to be a vast lake known as the Sump. And in its still and fetid waters there is said to be a leviathan worm  that is growing ever larger in preparation for the day it will turn the planet above into rubble.









Thursday, January 10, 2019

Creeps of the Undercity.


When the city is safe, it is lit in a warm acetate glow, artificial lights filling the cavern with false day. When the lights flicker out and the true night of space returns, the creeps come out. Their origins inexplicable, the creeps have lurked in the city for as long as anyone can remembered. The Reborn seek them out, to recruit or kidnap them into service. The gangs of the city hunt them when they can, but to so is to attract the baleful attention of the night patrol, Reborn wardens who protect the creeps.



 

  1. A giant skeleton, bare and clean except for a single eyeball and a nest of veins.
  2. A Tangle of hair that move like an octopus
  3. A mass of viscera with batwings
  4. A woman with a zipper running down her face. She does not have a human skull under her skin.
  5. A giant earthworm with a human face and a long sticky tongue.
  6. A circle of meter long fingers around a disk mouth.
  7. An expressionless baby that moves with the grace and skill of a cat.
  8. A bloody sheet
  9. A lumpy figure in a loose cloak. An arm or perhaps a tentacle sticks out the back, trailing out into the dark.
  10. A two story tall tongue studded with patches of teeth.