Sunday, April 30, 2017

Updates/Second Edition

So, in case you don't know, Posthuman Studios has launched a Kickstarter for Eclipse Phase 2E, which can be found here. It's already funded, so Second Edition is a for sure, and they have several interesting stretch goals already met and planned. To my understanding, there will be an open playtest starting on the 5th - so expect to see some thoughts and impressions here, possibly even some notations about conversion of earlier entries to new mechanics of 2E. I will not be doing a post-by-post conversion, and depending on the subject future entries will probably follow both or just 1E rules - but all fluff pieces and work should still be applicable.

I've been working on an unrelated writing project for the past week or so, which has taken up a lot of my focus from writing H-Rep. That said, I still have plenty of notes and subjects - including groups, new tools or weapons, concepts and locations, so expect to see them before too long at some period, probably once the 2E playtest gets my mental ball rolling.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Breach Hammer

Breach Hammer: Similar in design to the much larger Power Sledge, this one-handed blunt weapon has a shape and density adjusting head to bring maximal impact force when swung at a target. It is designed to strike both opponents in hardened armors, and also to be valid to use against some inanimate structures, like interior walls, doors and vehicle panels. Some are balanced to be thrown, but the weight means that this is not a usual tactic, reserved for morphs with enhanced strength and reflexes. [Low]
AP -3 1d10+4+DB DV

Breach Hammers are a rare sight, usually only carried by law enforcement or special forces operators in certain conditions where they might need to break down obstacles or break up armor - but aren't using tougher implements for more rigorous breach work, perhaps because they do not wish to harm civilians or infrastructure. Due to the hardiness of synthmorphs, riot police on Luna sometimes forego regular batons and other implements for hardier breach hammers in order to be better suited to actually damaging synthmorphs. And of course, while smashing down a door or wall is not "subtle", it can be quieter than using something like liquid thermite or plastic explosives to breach a door, meaning those who wish to act with swiftness and without incredible amounts of light and noise might use them for their typical purpose to breach.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Void Reef

Void Reef
Type: V-Type Asteroid
Primary Star: M8V (Red Dwarf)
Gravity: .03 g
Diameter: 530 km
Atmospheric Pressure: N/A
Atmospheric Composition: N/A
Surface Temperature (Mean): -50 C
Day Length: N/A
Orbital Period: 368 Days
Gate Access: Discord Gate, Tempest Gate
Notes: Alien Traces, Resources Available, Exhuman Settlement
Visibly, Void Reef is a striking Gate locale. It is named because the gate is settled into a family of V-Type asteroids which exist in a relatively small population system, with a couple of uninhabitable mercurian terrestrials in the inner system, and a large out system gas giant with a few moons which has mostly swept the area clear. Thus, the local region somewhat resembles a rocky shoal or reef - exemplified by the presence of some minor nebular gases which lend a slight violet tinge to the region. Go-Nin is deeply interested in this area for many reasons - rare V-Type asteroids are loaded with resources as they are stratified, often thought to be a destroyed planetoid. Also, the Factors have expressed an interest in V-Type asteroids, and Go-Nin hopes to parlay some of their research to them for technological favors, perhaps not counting on the Factor's reluctance to deal with Pandora Gates. Additionally, there are signs on Reef-1 (the primary asteroid which is the gate location) and the closest visible asteroids that other Gate travellers may have visited and the past, doing their own surveying and sampling.  Go-Nin's eagerness got even stronger when they encountered another unusual factor - that Reef-1 appears to have a fossil record, small coral like creatures and other forms are buried in the strata of the asteroid, along with signs of decayed organics and small macrofauna exoskeletons. Was the original planet destroyed by some force after it had evolved life? It is a great mystery Go-Nin is eager to turn a profit on.
Unfortunately for them, their efforts to categorize the entire Void Reef formation have hit a major stumbling block. There is a group of Exhumans here, believed to be allied with the Rortians, who call the Void Reef their "Shattered Nest" and lurk in some of the more far-flung asteroids, and have begun preying on explorers who move through those areas. They appear to be a clade of Adaptives and Soul-Eaters, who use hive-minded technology similar to Rortian dreadnoughts to share processing among several morphs in packs - which resemble insectoid bodies and are vacuum adapted, and may utilize Long-Term Life Support. This makes them very cunning and dangerous in large packs, and they are clearly more familiar with the terrain. Intelligence suggests they are taking some of the researchers and workers hostage to peel their Egos and gain new skills and information, possibly engaging in ascendant forking. This has in turn caused a large number of Ultimate "Purifiers" to move in and begin conducting patrols and raids in the area. All while Go-Nin keeps shipping in miners, surveyors and scientists to keep research and production moving forward as their expected pace.
This has turned Void Reef into an exotic frontier locale, with Ultimate Mercenaries and Raiders striking at Exhuman settlements, Exhuman pirates and soul thieves jumping workers who stray too far, and humble workers and scientists just trying to get their job done caught in between. All while several mysteries about the Reef itself persist.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Way of the Sword

In terms of combat efficiency and effectiveness, ranged weapons (especially kinetic ones or explosives) reign supreme. But there is a certain artistry in melee weapons, and value in their used for a lot of utility and some interesting things can be done with proficiency. Of these, the sword may be one of the more interesting and versatile melee weapons - unlike many others it does not necessarily evolve from a tool for working or hunting - but is a purpose built weapon to fight humans. This lends it a certain romanticism to the sword - which can be seen in the prevalence of swordsmanship both as a skill and sport in many parts of the Solar System.

Design-wise, fundamentally styles, patterns and types of swords remain unchanged, but in order to keep up with advanced in armor technology almost all of them utilize the "monofilament" style blade and advanced composites for sharpness and durability. While fabricators can mass produce swords, there is also something to be said for having them crafted specifically by those with knowledge and talent to do so - and quite a number who make swords are also capable of wielding them. The really daring can bridge into the exotic, utilizing vibroweapons and plasma swords.

Traditional swordsmanship sports persist in quite a few places, including forms of fencing in multiple styles and other HEMA groups on Venus, and the traditional kendo remains prevalent in several locations as well. Cultures with strong history have preserved historical martial arts schools related to the blade, taught for competition, self-defense and preservation of history. New arts and sports even arise, based on new weapons tech or cultural markers. Due to advanced in medical technology "blood sports" of all kinds can be popular in the system, and dueling in many forms has returned as a hobby sport, or even a way to settle disagreements. Numerous Extropian legal houses accept an honor duel as an appropriate way to settle a legal dispute.

These do not do as much to preserve the skills and utility of the sword as the concept of the "Street Samurai" however. Dating back to the 20th century, the idea of using swords as a weapon even when more advanced systems exist is kept alive in popular culture and seen as a marketable skill. Firearms may be restricted for safety or fabrication concerns, very few cultures are extreme enough to prevent a person from openly carrying a sword (in general public anyway). Restriction on longer weapons both by custom and practicality also occasionally makes smallswords, the Japanese daisho pair, and small parrying daggers or other accompanying weapons popular.

Carrying swords is intimidating, offering an air of danger but class to a person. It shows one is armed, and probably not afraid to fight - and that they have enough confidence to use a weapon which can require extensive training as opposed to an iron or a needler. Due to the ease of manufacturing and more common ability to carry this means many freelancers, hitters, troubleshooters and covert operatives train with various blades and may carry them to use - and some gangs focus entirely on utilizing blades thematically over guns (or perhaps, because they can get access to a pile of diamond axes). Additionally, the low-tech nature of a sword may make them preferable when faced with certain high-tech risks, as seen by use of Ultimate Purifiers and Rajput - an Exhuman neurode or TITAN puppet cannot backhack a katana.

Romanticism often turns to mysticism and urban legend, however. Many tales are told about the exploits of those who dare only to use blades. People still insist the classic "Zatoichi" tale of the blind swordsman is true. Legendary blade maker known by the alias "Masamune" is said to produce blades sharp enough to cut bullets like falling leaves - and a colleague (or possibly the same person with an alternate name) known as "Raikiri" can make blades which "cut lightning". And Alexandria the "Atomic Knife" is said to make a blade so sharp the right angle and force will cut an atom. Many have heard the urban legend of Annie Walker, who took only a blazing blue plasma sword into a camp of Martian bandits and killed every last one in revenge. One of the many skills the legendary operator "Jane Excalibur" has said to have mastered though countless lifetimes of forking and resleeving is use of a traditional longsword. While denied by the public media, the anarchist operator known as Thanatos once recovered an asset from Hypercorp hands in a daring highway raid vs Les Ghoules and Oversight armed with only katana and pistol. If you go to Phelan's Recourse, you might find Lou o' Light, who can teach you to cut the top off a small mountain in a single swing. And of course there are urban legends aplenty about hitmen who only fight with swords - such as the Night Cartel's Falconer M. or or the Triad's "101 Blades".

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Type: Terrestrial (Venusian)
Primary Star: G1V (Yellow Dwarf)
Gravity: .93 g
Diameter: 12,507.2 km
Atmospheric Pressure: 20 atm
Atmospheric Composition: 53% Nitrogen, 19% CO2, 15% Sulfur Dioxide, 12% Methane, trace other gasses
Surface Temperature (Mean): 52 C
Day Length: 15 hours
Orbital Period: 294 Days
Satellites: None
Gate Access: Vulcanoid Gate, Ascension Gate
Notes: High Population of System Bodies, Dangerous Natural Terrain, Alien Ruins
Cairn is a burial ground. An ancient alien civilization, at least to a tech level equivalent of the early Industrial Period, died out as their planet hit a greenhouse effect similar to Venus and they were killed by a massive shift in temperature and pressure, along with all other major life on the planet, leaving only traces of their civilization. As far as anyone can tell, the locals of Cairn were a probably insectoid race who lived colonial lives, similar to ants or termites, and mixed underground and aboveground structuring. Very little physical remains of their species has been found (though some samples appear to have made it back to the rim and into the prototype designs of the Samsa morph), but Genehackers from both TerraGenesis and Pathfinder are eager for more samples. Sadly, in addition to territorial disputes between the two Gate corps, Cairn is difficult to traverse due to the extreme pressure, high temperature, poisonous atmosphere, all of which is compounded by the rough terrain of Cairn, which is filled with unstable tunnels underground, shifting sediment layers and unsettled rock formations, in addition to fierce sandstorms and other erosive forces. This makes Cairn highly unsafe to explore. Cairn is also of interest as, despite the very thick atmosphere, its system is estimated to hold as many as 11 other major planetary bodies, which would be highly interesting to study, if possible. The Cairn Gate is located atop a wide, relatively stable mesa, part of a cluster of such structures which rise high above a sandy desert formed by the collapse of many structures of the local civilization (perhaps a city built near the Gate), who are usually referred to as the “Formics”.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Historically, "homesteading" refers to both a legal principle of claiming "unclaimed" natural resources which forms a strong foundation in many anarcho-capitalist philosophies, and a self-sufficient lifestyle on a "homestead", a dwelling which may have isolation from those around it but retains it's origin in the original legal principle - or is enabled by a government for physical expansion. Both of these uses of the term have a strong background in space colonization and are now still relevant to certain activities by the Inner System.

Luna and Venus do not have good terrain for classical homesteading either way, and required too much structure and technical assistance to settle. Mars, on the other hand, has much more land availability - and so in the early colonization period it was not uncommon for governments and early corporations to offer "homestead" plots for cheap on scales similar to classical Homestead Acts, often with caveats about terraforming or legal taxation. These systems enabled the diaspora of certain small settlements on Mars pre-Fall, and lead to the small croppings of homesteads, smallholds, compounds, etc which can still be seen in some regions today - though due to the rough environment of Mars, nomadic life was preferred.

After the Fall, the legal issues of "de-nationalization" for many colonies, the rise of the Tharsis League and the Planetary Consortium and their cooperation via the TTO on terraforming issues threw the legality of some prior homesteading for a loop. Relocations due to the TQZ or terraforming was not uncommon, and corporations often got first choice on acquiring new land. But the influence of the Martian city states can only go so far, and the Tharsis League wished to lend structure to the outback in some way - leading to the revival of some legal homesteading acts. This was done to appease rural martians and nationalists, but also had the approval of the Planetary Consortium. For hypercapitalists, the homesteads promote a middle class of consumers who can be marketed to for luxury goods or are otherwise engaged in the system - for the Barsoomians the hope is to gain control of land seperate from the hypercorps and promote self-sufficient living. Ultimately, neither side got their exact desire out of the resulting legal framework - but should political shifts occur strongly one way or the other the League's rules could help promote influence for either side.

The basic way this functions is handled in a Homesteading contract. Similar to an indentureship, but with the focus on land instead of a morph and with different labor expectations. The homesteader buys the land from the Tharsis League (or occasionally an interested hypercorp) for a much reduced fee or in payment over a period of years, usually 5-10. In exchange, they must live on and work on the property for the duration of the contract - after which point the provisions are removed, and the land is fully legally owned by the homesteader who can do with it what they will. Typically "working the land" often has provisions to aid in terraforming operations - which can sometimes breed tension between homesteaders and Nomads. Tharsis contracts are generally fairly plain, other than the requirements to follow TTO guidelines - but also often lack support, being fully self-sufficient farms. Corporate contracts tend to involve more legal complexities and components aimed to bring profit to the corporations, such as a famous instance where Fa Jing homesteaded a large plot of land, but retained the legal right to seize back any land where the Homesteader discovered mineral deposits - basically arranging a scheme where people paid to survey land for minerals.

Homesteading is not as popular on Mars despite it's origins as it is with the Pathfinder corporation on Exoplanets. Homestead contracts are intended to bring in those "middle class" colonists who are already instanced and may not require a new morph but can still provide valuable skills and labor to colonies in non-specialist ways. While these contracts involve more varied terrain and support, many, such as in the Outer System, see them as slightly more predatory - the unspoken constraint being that all supplies must come and go through the Pandora Gates controlled by Pathfinder.

As a legal principle, homesteading is also a huge aspect in asteroid families and regions, like the Main Belt. It's one thing to claim to own an asteroid from several AU away - it is entirely another thing to actually settle on it and begin to work it. This sort of attitude drove the success of many strains of Extropian thinking in early asteroid colonization and mining. While corporations and governments would lay claim to asteroids, very rarely did the greater transhuman community uphold such claims unless the claimant could show they were willing and capable to physically access and produce from the body - cutting down on entities attempting to extort others by holding and selling legal rights to an object they would never practically exert control over. As hypercorps grew in power and influence in the time immediately before the Fall, however, several militant expulsions of "squatters" occurred, which may drive why self-defense is a strong meme in many brinker and Extropian clades.

Even now, there is a strong aspect of the homesteading principle to Belters. If you can land on a rock and live and work it, it's yours. You get first say on who else can work and live on the rock, and have a right to protect yourself from aggression against it. Due to desire to work with independant Belters and Extropians, many less militant hypercorps have taken the hint and prefer to buy out small communities who settle on asteroids they desire. Homesteading is not as popular in the Outer System excepting Extropian circles. The Jovians have no excess land to homestead, and groups such as the Commonwealth do not hold much with the principle for their socialist or communist ideals. That said, there is a similar provision for those who are reputable to live on their own in the Titanian wilderness, both in nomadic and structured form - just that the unspoken contract is that excess resources will be shared with the wider community.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fab Food

"Fab Food" should be considered the modern evolution of the 20th century "Fast Food", which originally arose with the rise of the automobile. Now, with the development of nanofabricators (specifically those which can produce food, Makers) food-prep time is at an all time low. However, in the Inner System, many forms of nanofabrication are restricted to the public or require significant investment to obtain in one's own home. Similarly, food and the resultant blueprints are treated as a protected IP by major hypercorps. This means there is a market for maker-produced food which can be whipped up on the spot, or is pre-fabbed waiting for assembly into a final meal to hand to a customer on the go - even if most modern transhumans walk or take public transit.

A typical fab food outlet can be as small as a bulky vending machine - with racks of food and drink to order, or big enough to walk in and form a line, or sit at a table for a quick meal. Most common though are kiosks or alcoves about the size of a traditional food stall/stand. Here you will see many familiar brands and styles, though the names have often changed as a result of rebranding, public pressure or loss of original rights. Groups like Golden-M, Burger Queen, Wendi's, White Palace, Stardoes, The Colonel's, Taco Toll, Pizza Shack, Little Kaiser's, Wyld Zings and School of Subs still exist and "license" official branding and food recipes in blueprint form to franchises. Local installations to match the local culture are also common.

The food seen in Fab Food shops has a little variety, but is built on a theme - it must be quick to make from simple ingredients which can be assembled in a fab and either shaped to form in it or by a quick intervention of a bot or robot waldo, then packaged to go for the customer. The largest and highest quality shops have the proper meat flash cloning in the back, but most kiosks can only have the maker assemble relevant protein strands and apply flavoring substitute. "Burgers" and other sandwich substitutes, processed meat nuggets or strips, chipped and fried vegetable fiber, kebabs, noodles, flatbread, and various other packagings of meat and grain form the underlying menu of most places - in some combination. Much of the selection depends on local tastes. With synthetic flavoring and a rough equivalent in components, most people claim the food at least tastes like historical fast food - but some of this could just be Earth nostalgia. Even so, despite what many see as a low quality, the food is highly convenient, and modern medicine will prevent or alleviate most problems of consuming too much. Drinks are also sold in fab food places - either mixed on the go in a maker, or premade in bulk by fabricators in cans or bulbs to be sold instantly and replaced over time.

Typical setup for a Fab Food shop crews it with one or two bots (Servitors usually) or just a remote waldo setup run by one or more infomorphs - assuming the type of food being served can't be completely replicated in the Maker. These workers move food around in prep units or place them in containers or may assemble several bits of food into a singular item. Occasionally, they interact with customers - but this is not required, transactions are digital and ordering can be done via apps on the mesh or in AR. Operating these systems may be simple AI though many places are wary of AIs operating anything related to nanofabrication - meaning indentured infomorphs are increasingly common - an extremely low paying contract. In places where economics allow it or force it, these may be remotely operated by people at home who lack other job skills; the young (often students) who lack skills and experience, former indentures with no real job market, ex-criminals and others with problems integrating in normal society. A new trend in "premium" Fab Food Shops has arisen as well, where the price and quality are slightly higher, but really the user is paying for a brief interaction with a real human contractor - not an indenture, who is present physically or as a cheery AR avatar - an attempt to cash in on some anti-indenture movements.

Fab Food is all over the Inner System in tightly packed cities, and spin gravity habs. Some also occur in highly populated beehives, though their menus might be a little altered by the requirement to work in micrograv. Extropian habs sometimes work with Fab Food, but are often blacklisted by major franchises due to their more open policy on IP - and their more open stance on personally-owned fabrication. One typically sees them clustered around major areas of transit, such as in sky or spaceports and train stations, or in long rows along major thoroughfares. They mix flashy physical lighting with bombardments of AR ads - some of which will even fight with other ads. These little kiosks are intermixed with "traditional" street food, actual people frying up noodles, or in little stalls with cages filled with live poultry - or tanks of seafood, or with the kebab grilling right in front of you. These "mom and pop" operations compete with major franchises and can stay in business because of their increased "authenticity" of food and charge slightly more, though the food can't be said to be as convenient.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Heavy Torch

The modern Torch (p. 341 EP) is good as a utility weapon, for specific purposes of close quarters, terror or shock fighting and as a defense against certain hostile activities like Nanoswarms. However, it suffers from a lot of limitations which hurt its usefulness in major combat situations. Considering it's size and ammo storage, it has a very slow rate of fire. While dangerous, the fuel is not self-oxidizing and thus does not function in vacuum and does not always stick to a target to cause ongoing damage. Thus, military engineers have attempted to redesign the weapon so that it's positive qualities can be more universally applicable in combat situations.

Heavy Torch: This bulky, military flamethrower resembles a Torch, but is larger and armed with a bigger fuel storage tank. Instead of single shot pressurized capsules it features a larger tank which uses computer assistance to draw a specific amount of fuel per trigger pull. Also special about the heavy torch is the fuel blend, a much more adhesive, hot-burning and self-oxidizing mixture which produces it's own oxygen at high-heat, and thus burns until it runs out of fuel, or is doused in a retardant which prevents the reaction such as NotWater. Luckily for most, the torch fuel itself can only burn a few minutes before putting itself out - it requires an appropriate target to burn for long periods. Any character or object hit with the Heavy Torch immediately catches On Fire (p. 198 EP) and takes 1d10/2 DV per action turn, which grows normally. On an Excellent Success, this damage becomes 2d10 DV per action turn. Even though it is a spray weapon, the Heavy Torch can use the Sweeping Fire (p. 194 EP) and Concentrated Fire (p. 195 EP) rules. [High]
AP -4 3d10+5 DV SA Ammo 50

Due to it's fuel blend and large risk of collateral damage, Heavy Torches are banned in most enclosed habs as an issue of public safety - similar to some railguns or conventional firearms. Even "lawless" Outer System habs consider it in incredibly poor taste to carry one around in a beehive or cluster hab. This doesn't mean they don't see a lot of use, and milspec response teams often have at least one Heavy Torch in storage for the right situations. They are also often seen in the hands of response teams for Hypercorps, able to quickly dispose of experiments and research run amok. This also means that anonymous "boogeymen" like Firewall and Project OZMA are fond of using the Heavy Torch when they run clean up missions. Fire is a great equalizer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Way of the Bow

(Author's Note: Bows are probably a fairly widely homebrewed resource, because they are given as an example, yet remain unstatted. This entry does not assume any particular stats for bows, it is more just a general commentary on their possible place in the universe. My personal preference for stats is picking a few from AUGC by SquireNed to utilize as appropriate)

The bow and arrow is a tool for hunting and warfare which predates history. A simple device, it's primary use in warfare was long supplanted by the development of gunpowder, but for it's simplicity and history the design and methodology has retained even after The Fall. Archery has a strong cultural connotation for many, both as a sport, an art and even in spirituality - folk heroes, legends and mythological figures can be associated with the bow, or are said to govern the art.

With the wide spread of knowledge and technology, bows remain fairly simple to make. Almost anybody with survival skills can scrounge a basic "self bow" from line and raw materials, while tools or fabbers can produce a basic recurve or composite bow. While they take a little assembly time, compound bows are also fairly easy to produce using carbon composites - and some designs take it further - shape adjusting smart material bows, or self pulling "automatic bows". Arrows have a similar revolution, from chips of glass and volcanic rock on carbon tubing to monofilament accushot smart arrows. The variance of gravity and atmospheric density, combined with overall greater physical aptitude of transhumanity can similarly make very impressive displays of archery.

Archery is preserved as a traditional sport many places, with target archery still being the most common - but Field archery is practiced on Mars, and the largest and greenest Lunar cities and Cylinder habs which have the available space. As a classical art, archery also persists. HEMA enthusiasts on Venus have recovered or engineered several historical styles, including a revival of the English longbow. Traditional archery is popular on Luna, with their high Indian population - the Sanskrit word for "archery" was eventually applied to all martial arts. Hybrid English-Indian systems and styles are popular in the Outer System. The real place to go for the competitive market in archery sports and arts is Mars, however. North African and Central Asian diaspora have preserved horseback archery, even some attempts at chariot archery. There is enough East Asian diaspora that traditional arts like Korean Gungdo and Japanese Kyudo are still taught, while Indian, European and American influences also exist. And Mars has the space and low gravity for some impressive shooting. Sadly, outside of neo-primitives and the exotically rich, bowhunting and fishing has gone almost completely extinct.

But, archery is not just a sport or an art - the bow is a weapon. While their efficiency is still outpaced by more modern weapons, they have advantages which a skilled user can make good use of. Bows are very quiet compared to firearms, seekers and even railguns which still have a supersonic report. They are much less disrupted by atmospheric effects than energy weapons (especially with the right smart arrow), and have a unique advantage that their ammunition can often be recovered after a fight. All this while retaining a decent range, accuracy and damage profile. The Rajput of the Ultimates swear by the effectiveness of a proper bow in the hands of the adequately skilled and augmented in killing "soft" biomorph exsurgents and small TITAN bots - and doing so quietly. Martian Nomads sometimes use them to pick off small Wild Artificials or neogenic creatures like Causapods. They also occasionally use them to quietly dispose of bandits and corporate busybodies who trespass.

The simplicity and construction of some bows means they can even be concealed past some security measures, so they have been occasionally used in assassination attempts, terror attacks and intrusions. Some bioconservative or even primitivist groups have used simple bows to kill as a public statement, where as quiet intrusion specialists just prefer the low sound level to lethality ratio. This also doesn't discount fantastic phantom thieves and hitmen who just like to show off. The Way of the Bow is alive and well in AF 10, in a multitude of ways.

Saturday, April 8, 2017



The case dubbed "UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK" by Firewall analysts is an interesting one. At first blush, this substance appears to be an actual silicon-based lifeform, a simplistic, naturally replicating microbe which resembles a few extremophile forms formerly found on Earth, or which exist in certain other Exoplanets. It was reported in small clusters through several Gate networks on [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] before it got Firewall's attention. Unfortunately, this spread kind of turned it into a jurisdictional clusterfuck in terms of major servers and operations, until some high level Crows were able to get real data on it, and sort it into it's proper classifications. This means there may have been some de-compartmentalization among Sentinels investigating, which may even have spread to non-Firewall friendlies and contacts. It's also still up in the air which other agencies and groups may know of this.

Original reports from the field indicate that at certain exoplanet sites, gatecrashers were locating strange silicate deposits which A( appeared to "grow" or change shape over time, and B( had active radiating emissions which could resemble active tech or even lifeforms - the exact emissions reported depended a lot on what gear the crashers were actually carrying. Initial reports from experts (Including Firewall ones) in the field was that apparently there was some kind of silicon-derived microform, not quite a nanoscale worker, which naturally replicated and assembled more of itself into large colonial deposits, almost like coral - but with semiconductors. "Large" in this case refers to the macrofauna scale, very few colonies of UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK were initially spotted larger than a small shrub or a large dog. Samples were taken by a few groups following normal protocol - who also noted the system seemed to heal itself over the next couple days.

Complex examination of the samples is what really got Firewall interested, and further probing. The best way to describe it is "self-replicating silicon". By current definitions of transhuman science - it isn't quite "alive", in the same way viruses often miss technical definitions of "life", but it does self-replicate, consume resources, and its semiconductor colonial growths structurally resemble many other forms of xenofungus. It doesn't interact strongly with many organic compounds, or carbon-based life, and thus also doesn't harm nanoscale "rod and pin" computing made from dimondium compounds. So, it is not a direct "grey goo" risk to transhumanity, but it can be the source of a couple of unpleasant scenarios.

The first is that, while not as potent or sophisticated as some of the exotic materials used by the TITANs or some alien relics, or being developed in secret black labs - the structures formed by UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK are an idealized computing strata. If carefully boxed or even if cut off and sterilized, it makes great computers - the source of which heals itself back in days if properly resourced. If combined with a solid source like a silicate asteroid, this could produce a significant hellfarm rig without much effort by the creators. Observations at Firewall's HOTFIRE labs have also indicated if given new resources, a colony can fairly explosively grow in a short amount of time. Luckily for us, the UC itself has no apparent sentience or "programming". and do not actively use their own structure for much "thinking". Since it is not a conventionally organic compound, it can lie dormant for quite some time before reactivating. The second risk is that it could pose an informational problem. While ideal computing in of itself, it can also "eat" extant computers based on silicon semiconductors if they're put into direct contact, effectively reformatting the machine to become part of the UC's structure. While there are alternate computing materials in use, a lot of machines are still based on silicon chipsets, and dumping a load of this into a server farm could lead to an unpleasant result. It also can work on ceramics, which might cause structural damage.

Firewall immediately began tracing UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK, securing or destroying whatever samples or instances of it we could find. Best guess is that this was some kind of colonizing method of a long-dead alien race who needed ways to build computers fast - perhaps a heavy automated or digitized society which did not reach nanofabrication first. The other, less accepted, theory is that this arose naturally on a world with a Gate, and that visitors accidentally or intentionally propagated it through several systems. Through multiple network connections, Firewall has found what may be UC's source, but the exact Gate Address is classified with "need to know", and scattered and heavily redacted reports only referring to it as "[The] Clocktower". The reports indicate it to be a bleak, terrestrial planet with a barely breathable atmosphere, with massive colonies of UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK which grow to be the size of buildings and heavily cover the surface, the only other remnants being shattered and broken metallic objects, some even resembling primitive weapons, scattered across the surface, and ominous storm clouds circling the largest UC colonies. Through friendly contacts in Gatekeeper and the Titanian Science Ministry, Firewall has managed to cover up the Clocktower's addressed - though it's always possible an alternate gate chain will lead there. Some reports of UC colonies through Mars-connected Gates were not suppressed in time, and were picked up by Pathfinder - who has since locked out those locations and put them under supervision of Oversight for possible TITAN activity, which means Project OZMA is now probably involved.

Standing field order from the Server(s) studying UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK is Destroy or Contain, Firewall has enough samples to Study. The material should be fairly easy to neutralize. Guardian swarms will treat the UC microforms as hostile nanotech, though Bio Defense Swarms do not seem to recognize it. Disassemblers and Saboteur nanobots treat it as normal computing material to work on. While Silicon has a relatively high melting point, it conducts heat very well, which seems to still disrupt the delicate structure of the UC itself without destroying the colony structure. The material is also still fairly brittle, and can be destroyed with explosives or physical force - though be careful of spreading particulates. Sterilizing radiation also appears to "harm" the underlying microform. However, acids, caustics and other chemical methods which typically harm organic compounds have minimal effect on the UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK colonies.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Type: Terrestrial (Vitriolic)
Primary Star: K1V (Orange Dwarf)
Gravity: 1.15 g
Diameter: 14,420.88 km
Atmospheric Pressure: 12.31 atm
Atmospheric Composition: 77% CO2, 22% Argon, trace other gases
Surface Temperature (Mean): 125 C
Day Length: 23 hours
Orbital Period: 268 days
Satellites: None
Gate Access: Portal Gate
Notes: Volcanism, Sulfuric Acid Oceans, Alien Life (Microbes)
"Ever wanted to visit a planet with literal oceans of acid? Now you can!" - ExploreNet article on Venom
Venom is a hellhole of a planet. Classified as a "vitriolic" type, it was once a world which was blessed with large water oceans, but underwent photodissociation where it's water divided back into oxygen and hydrogen, leading to formation of sulfuric acid with high levels of sulfur and a carbon dioxide heavy atmosphere. Venom is thus molten hot, with a very thick, poisonous atmosphere, strong gravity, and frequent volcanic activity which perpetuates the "sulfur cycle" of the world. Yet, exotic, extremophile life is believed to exist in microbial form in some "calm" pools or springs of the acid, living off chemosynthesis. Due to the fact that vitriolic worlds are very rare due to specific circumstances, there is a keen interest from nearly every major learning institution in the Solar System to study the planet, despite its incredibly harsh conditions. Venom is also of potential economic value, as it is theorized that part of its inherent volatility is due to higher than average concentrations of radioactivity in it's composition, an incredibly valuable resource if true - tempered by the fact that it would require complex mining most likely via Q-Morphs to work. There also may be valuable precious or semi-precious stone mining to be had. The Gate is located on a low clay plateau over some sulfurous springs, which have eaten away at materials to form deep pools and channels.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Air Sled

In the early 21st Century, several military forces attempted to make "transforming" or otherwise adjustable armored vehicles which could rapidly switch between ground or short hops of air travel. Some of these succeeded, and in many ways are the ancestors to the Flying Cars (p. 168-9 Sunward) which are frequently seen on Mars. Other designs, however, did not directly incorporate "transforming" functions, but more of an accessorizing or attaching function. This effectively functions a bit like an EVA or Diving Sled, but for vehicles. While not as required as it may have been on the Earth, there are enough locations, including Exoplanets with atmospheres to make this design viable.

Air Sled: This long, skeletal airframe is designed to go over the top (or rarely the bottom) of a ground-based vehicle, such as a Mars Buggy. Made with collapsing and extending frame and anchor points, it can adjust its exact size to suit multiple configurations of vehicle. This allows it to lift up the vehicle off the ground several meters to clear obstacles or rough terrain and save time, or avoid complications such as mines. Like a Flying Car it can be considered a sister technology to, they are powered by methane and utilize vectoring turbofans to generate lift and motion. Typically, the unit is open to the air, unarmored, and designed to be utilize via physical or wireless interface with the attached vehicle - but some models have command and control chairs built onto the sled so a dedicated pilot can move vehicles from the Sled itself. Some also feature handholds so other passengers may grip them. The sled grips it's payload vehicle with powerful electromagnets and grip pad technology, making it almost impossible to dislodge. However, as it is balanced to carry heavy loads, the Air Sled tends to be unstable when flying just on its own, especially at higher altitudes. [High]

Passengers 1*  Handling +10  Movement Rate -- Max Velocity 150 AV 10/10 DUR 100 WT 20

Air Sleds are not necessarily common around the Solar System after the Fall, but do see some use, and several of the milspec blueprints have leaked onto the Mesh. Commonly they are used by rural Redneck Martians who need to move around buggies and other vehicles over rough hills, poorly-maintained roads and even canyons and wadis. Local security and police forces sometimes use them for this purpose as well, but the Martian Rangers are much more likely to deploy a Flying Car or Security VTOL in their operations. Smugglers and militant Barsoomians may also utilize them to hide vehicles in locations which are otherwise inaccessible by ground. Gatecrashers occasionally use them to move around their ground vehicles or even large bots over difficult terrain, and similarly this may be used on Titan to move a single vehicle if the load does not require a full Cargo Copter.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Companion AI

Muses are a fairly standard issue AI template, a system which serves as a personal assistant, pocket therapist and life organizer. Due to their vast customization and heuristic parameters, most people are friendly or comfortable with their Muses as is natural for what may be a vital function in daily transhuman life. Though still Limited, Muses are fairly expressive and have great ability to adjust to the needs of the user - however while they have some personable and psychological functions a Muse is an AI which has grown out of various smart assistant software, it is not designed primarily to offer comfort and companionship to transhumans. Depending on your culture, friendly or intimate relations with a Muse AI may be seen as unusual or even taboo. But, before the Fall greatly made people rethink AI, transhumans had attempted to automate or mass produce many functions.

Companion AI: Similar to a Muse, the Companion AI is a limited AI built for human interaction. Unlike the Muse, Companion AIs are not designed for work assistance or personal coordination, nor are they typically intended to move with a person wherever they go in an Ecto or Mesh Insert. Their primary design is socialization and human companionship. While they are often used for romantic or sexual relationships, this is not required, as they also can be used to help socialize those who are introverted or antisocial, offer companionship to the young or elderly who may not have many associates, and some are even used to help AGI build normal socialization. The Companion AI has modular templates similar to Muses - though they tend to be less heuristic and more pre-configured. This includes personality aspects, physical presentation and general aspects of the relationship and interactions. Like Muses, Companion AIs are loyal to their prescribed owners and users and put their best interests at heart (which is why they usually include basic first aid training) and will act to protect and even defend users - and some modify their Companions to serve as bodyguards. SAV 20. Skills: Academics: Psychology 60, Interest: User's Interests 80, Interfacing 30, Kinesics 40, Medicine: Paramedic 40, Perception 20, Persuasion 30, Profession: Companion 60, Protocol 40, Research 20. [Moderate]

While AI paranoia grips the Solar System, Companion AIs are still not unheard of in many corners. Their basic medical training makes them ideal for use as nurses of several varieties in the Ayah Pod (p. 9 MRG). Companion AIs can make great "NPCs" in VR games, operating in roles assigned to them by game admins and server operators dutifully, and you can also find them sometimes assigned to a role akin to a "governess" or chaperone for youthful members of elite classes, though often these groups will upgrade to a full AGI. Companion AI are naturally perfect fits to run Pleasure Pods, but due to their intense personalization and focus on singular user, they work much better in personal "dolls" or companions rather than on the open market. Too many frequent users or factory resets can result in data corruption and unpleasant or even dangerous errors. Companion AIs may replace or act as a stepping stone to Muses for those who are recently re-Instantiated to help them get back into the swing of life without getting too invasive, and in the Outer System some autonomist groups utilize Companion AIs as "social workers" to help community members better integrate with their communal societies.

Companion AIs occupy an interesting space in AI rights. Very few of them tend to be uplifted or emerge, and when they do they tend to still wish to remain with their original transhuman companion(s) - unless they are radically modified. While some mercurials dislike the nature of relationships Companion AIs have, which might be subservient or abusive, in general the conclusion is that without transhumans to interact with, Companion AIs would have no purpose or primary activity, and thus have little reason for radial separation unlike more technical or mechanical AIs.