Monday, May 29, 2017


Type: Terrestrial (Reducing)
Primary Star: K9V (Orange Dwarf)
Gravity: 1.22 g
Diameter: 15099 km
Atmospheric Pressure: .84 atm
Atmospheric Composition: 59% Methane, 28% Nitrogen, 12% Argon, trace others
Surface Temperature (Mean): 6 C
Day Length: 23 Hours
Orbital Period: 423 Days
Satellites: None
Gate Access: Portal Gate
Notes: Alien Microbes, Planetary Rings, TITAN Artifacts
Simulacra should be an entirely boring planet. It is a "reducing" terrestrial, with a volatile atmosphere which is poisonous to transhumans, a low temperature and an arid landscape except for some ice caps in the polar regions. The natural terrain is dry and relatively flat, occasionally differentiated by geologic activity. It does appear to have some extremophile microbes, very basic prokaryotes, but they are comparatively uninteresting in their early evolution - only a source of concern for greater preservationists. Or, it would be more accurate to say it would, if "preservation" of Simulacra was still a concern.
This is because the extremely notable feature of Simulacra which lends it its name is the fact that on it's surface around the Gate is a perfect replica of 1920-era London UK. Based on historical data available to Gatecrashers, the replica appears to scale and 100% accurate to the information that is to be had, though while some facades and elements are artificially weathered to match pictures in history, dating them has assumed that the constructs were all built within the past 10 years or so - presumably after the Fall.  Additionally, while materials appear to be generally correct, close examination shows that they were obviously built using advanced manufacturing techniques and nanofabrication tools to produce and assemble the materials. This project would have taken immense time and energy, even for TITAN capabilities (the assumed builders) and has no apparent purpose. While buildings have a roughly correct layout and floorplan, they have no distinct interior features apart from the architecture, such as furnishings or appliances. No utilities are networked in the buildings at all, and as of yet no living creature or construct has been confirmed to exist in the structures. It also appears to be incomplete; as it nears the edge of the nearly 1500 sq. km area historically associated with Greater London, buildings appear to be unfinished or unpolished. On the fringes, some of them are clearly partially assembled from the bottom-up, and the pattern in which they are made does not follow the street pattern but an exotic fractal one.
Upon being discovered several years ago, Simulacra was briefly a point of intense interest for the Gatecrashing Guild and many associate corporations and governments, but the fervor of scanning the planet has died down as investigation has mostly turned up things which are strange as opposed to interesting or useful. Experts in X-Risk analysis and archaeology frequently argue over the subject of the "replica city" and what it's purpose could be, but have yet to reach a solid consensus. After delays, news of Simulacra broke on Titanian public media several months ago and rapidly spread through the Solar System due to it's open nature - leading to an influx of many amatuer Gatecrashers interested in hunting for artifacts or capitalizing on Earth nostalgia for rep and fame. While some hope that more eyes will make efforts to "clear" the vast construct city for anything of note, the more serious academics are concerned that any valuable data may be destroyed or muddled by the influx - and have petitioned Isra to more strictly monitor those who are allowed though the gate to Simulacra. The Gate itself is located in the replica of Charing Cross - in the location where a statue of Charles I historically stood.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


The "swordstick" or "swordcane" is an invention which has existed for long periods of human history - concealing a sword-length blade inside a cane or other stick which can appear harmless. While certain technological advances might make this seem obsolete, transhumans still have a lot of the same cognition as before the introduction of transhuman technology - biases and assumptions brought on by cultural memes and instinct can persist so carrying a "cane" which hides a weapon can be beneficial.

Swordstick: Also called a swordcane, this weapon has a thin blade concealed inside the body of an appropriately sized stick or cane, with the head of the stick serving as a handle for the sword. Some models use mechanical releases to retrieve the sword, but most use meshed systems similar to a smartlink to ensure the release is done properly. Originally made of wood, the exterior of the stick can be any material - and tends to be made of particularly dense things to try and hide the blade from sensors. It's a -30 Perception test to determine the stick is also a sword if one is not aware of it. Sheathed, the stick acts as a Club, dealing damage appropriately (and using the Clubs skill), but when unsheathed it is a Monofilament Sword (and uses the Blades) skill. [Low]

The swordcane is still quite useful to many people - retro or anachronist fashion sometimes makes use of canes and walking sticks, which the swordstick can turn into a deadly weapon in a pinch. Some people may have persistent injuries, or more bioconservative souls may not wish for the rapid healing miracle of a Healing Vat and thus have injuries last longer. And of course, in certain areas which might include rugged terrain, a hearty stick is never out of place - thus allowing one to also get away with carrying a sword. In legal terms, swordsticks usually count as a concealed weapon intrinsically - and are regulated as such.

(nb - While as of this writing skills/CC hasn't been released for the 2E playtest, based on what I've seen from the initial preview this weapon will probably be a lot more neat under 2E's more condensed skill list. So keep that in mind)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cancer Sticks

Cancer was once a defining challenge for humanity. "Cure for cancer" was a magical solution which would herald riches and fame to whoever produced it. The jump to transhuman technologies has largely solved this problem. While Flats may still sometimes suffer from genetic predispositions, genefix procedures eliminate most of these tendencies in morphs. Implants like Radiation Tolerance (p. 189 Rimward) greatly increase the amount of potentially toxic radiation a morph can endure, which can cause cancers and other diseases as a long-term symptom. And modern nanomedicine procedures, along with more conventional medicines can easily eliminate cancerous cells which arise from carcinogenic exposure. If all else fails, resleeving or rapid organ cloning can avoid the possibility of harm from cancer.

In many places, this has skewed transhumanity's perception of what was once a great killer. Scum and even Ultimates may consume products or enjoy activities which could lead to cancer for thrills and to prove the superior endurance of their morphs. In the Inner System, in the heart of the Planetary Consortium like Progress activities like smoking are a sign of wealth - because long term organ damage and cancer is no problem for anyone rich enough to buy a new set of lungs. In the Outer System habs, these sorts of activities tend to be frowned upon as it "wastes" community resources, but rarely to individuals who engage in entertainments or hobbies which have side effects feel excessive pressure from the community - only the habitually wasteful.

But, there are some ways to market this sort of activity. A common item seen on Extropia and in certain similar cultures is Cancer Sticks. A parody of classic marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, the "Cancer Stick" is literally a carcinogenic stick. They can be sucked, smoked, chewed or sometimes dissolved in drink depending on the particular brand and configuration. Even the components can depend on who makes and sells them - but usually their composition is similar to candy or other "treats" which have some attractive taste or smell to them, possibly some additional components to calm, numb pain or even stimulate (meaning they be mixed with other drugs) to give a pleasant experience while also containing various carcinogenic compounds or elements, such as arsenic, asbestos, cadmium, nickel and radon. Lung, mouth, throat and stomach cancers are the most common effects of the Sticks, but depending on the substances a variety of areas can develop symptoms. A common variant on this style is "Radium Gum", a chewing gum made with radioactive elements or isotopes or other carcinogens mixed in.

Both iterations of this idea are often reserved for the fairly well-off, because their use of certain radioactive or heavy metallic elements and compounds is a draw on limited resources - which also happen to be rarer in the Outer System. The inherent medical costs also tend to bracket the users of Sticks to higher incomes. This means that the habit is usually seen among the middle and upper class in the Main Belt and Inner System, a "conspicuous consumption" which can be genuinely habit forming (especially for those with oral fixations), though the Scum "shits and giggles" trade in Cancer Sticks across the system is high - and their components can be recycled into useful materials which often makes them an interesting - if hazardous trade good. The Jovian Republic and many other individual Bioconservative habs heavily restrict or ban Cancer Sticks also, making them an interesting black market and sometimes politically-minded good; boxes of Cancer Sticks tend to show up  at the offices and doorsteps of notorious bioconservative politicians as a sign of protest.