Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

Another idea is that the monastic orders are a relic from a time where Zigonian society was a lot more militarized, and most Zigonians were expected to be members.

I mean hippies and all, but Zigonians have always fought - I assume they didn't settle their philosophical differences with their Shleraac branches entirely via dance-offs. Moastic training could help produce better focus, sharper purpose and better memetic resilience, and the Tsora-mahl back then - bright-eyed ecopunks taking their civilization's first unsteady steps back into space - needed every edge against their post-lizard cenobite cousins, who I presume had an enormous head start in memery prowess.

Only after Zigonian society settled down (relatively speaking) did most lizards no longer feel like they need to join one of the multifarious orders, so they shrunk back down into tiny groups. However, the cultural software would still be there to keep the monasteries as social nuclei and locuses of organizational responses in times of emergency.

Yet another idea is that the monastic orders correspond to old strands of Shleraac cultures themselves - stabilized and deliberately inverted, perhaps willingly by repentant ex-Shleraacites, as some kind of giant "...and think about what you have done" project for themselves and their descendants and eventually, any volunteers who want to share the burden of karma. Hedonism is deliberately swapped for austerity, and the meditation and mental discipline was for practitioners to subdue their own impulses without resorting to removing their cenobite hypersense implants or whatever; I don't see the Zigonians as being willing to go as far as biologically de-augment Shleraccites to pacify them.

I also don't want to evoke real-world attempts to intern and assimilate whole cultures, but something had to have happened to at least reform the Shleraac on the cultural level.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

Yes, the latest revisions of the Tsora article touches upon that. The military monks were part of the clash (and they wielded giant cyber-macroorganisms). The defeated members of the Feasts were reincorporated humanely (zigonely?) but yes I like this whole penance thing where reconciled members often chose to be defenders as a form of restitution.

There can be something akin to the holy demons of Buddhism, the ones who by their natures can't comprehend nirvana but recognize those who do and thus protect them!
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

Yeah, the point is that Zigonian warrior monks could have preserved the high-powered translizard augments of the Shleraac of old and as a result are absolutely jacked compared to the average Zigonian, though the average Zigonian also has access to Solarian/Cevaucian-level biotech and can achieve similar results.

It's actually the Holy Scale nomad branches, the ones who split off from the other Zigonians before they integrated with the Shleraac and the other modern K-zone civs, that would physically resemble the 'original' Zigonians the most.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

INTRANOVA (The Society for Interduction and Rapprochement of Noetic Variance) is the pan-Magi body of the Meridian Institute, drawing together its espers from across all the disciplines: psychocosmic theory (you don't need a superhuman mind to think this hard but it helps), transcendental prognosis and risk management (predicting the future), intellectual integrity auditing (doing counter-memetic subversion the direct way), pedagogic science, etc..

The Meridian Institute, or whatever form it took before the Reignfall, was also responsible for the creation of the Promised Pair a.k.a. who we now know as the Sophia and the Allfather, and on the strength of this history, Intranova is also granted the responsibility of looking after the heritage the duo left behind, and this may include the actual, physical site of the lab that they came out of. This also means they have a claim to representing all Magi opposite the Avestavra in Grand Auriga, despite being on the whole smaller and less organized. But hey, Avestals would be perfectly welcome in their clubhouse.

It also means the theoretically the Ministry of Fate has a seat at the table, but there are obvious problems to a Minister walking in and claiming to represent the cult of the All-Father in any convincing way. Which raised the more general question - NEUROM is obviously under the grip of the conspiracy of secrecy, but how much do other parties know?

There may be enough physical evidence from the lab ruins - and certainly enough surviving legends of the Destined Dyad performing mighty miracles across the post-Cataclysm Fracture - for people to know that the Sophia didn't come alone. It's impossible to hide the knowledge that the All-Father existed at some point in post-Reignfall history, and the fact of the Sophia's eventual ascension is propagated far and wide by major Fracture religions today. But people are going to ask: what happened to her obscure (male, if they even get that right) counterpart, then? There are going to be any number of interestingly wrong theories.

From another angle, we have assumed that a working proportion of the Magi oppose the Ministry, recognizing that they work through NEUROM for their nefarious ends. But it doesn't imply that they know that the All-Father is in turn working through the Ministry for his nefarious ends. (Not even most of the Ministry knows that the All-Father exists in the specific "Yeah, our lord and master is actually the Sophia's immortal brother" sense.) Whether it's possible for particularly intrepid Magi to find out is another question, but if *any* Magi know, I don't see how the secret won't come out eventually given the lack of any institutional ability to keep mum. Once a trusted Magi tells a highly placed confidante in Auriga or Meridia*, one of the Ministry's basic conceits would be undermined.

*The Shennite establishment and its Magi seems most open to Ministry infiltration, actually.

Or one can assume that the Ministry has the prowess to silence anyone even outside NEUROM, in which case they have already won. Or other powers also have a reason to keep the existence of the All-Father a secret.

Or, in fact, no Magi knows. There is an impenetrable psychic shadow at the heart of NEUROM, and they're more likely to suspect some festering Neuromonger remnant than the Sophia's own twin - after all, they know that an esper of such power cannot persist on the material plane.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Siege »

Maybe anyone without top-level Ministry mental engrams and noetic hardening immediately forgets about the existence of the All-Father. Like, anyone can become aware of His potentiality on this stratum but the mere presence of such knowledge within a conscious mind immediately invites the full pressure of His immense astral presence, something inadequately prepared lesser sentiences simply cannot handle.

Those who unwittingly learn of Him at best have that fact immediately sand-blasted from their minds, leaving behind only the gnawing surety that they've just forgotten something of earth-shaking importance. Worse, when the impact of His revelation undermines concepts and precepts fundamental to the structure of the observer's ego, they may be left catatonic or partially insane. But most disastrous are the effects when the observer is an unprepared esper significant enough to be worth of His intrigue, in which case their awareness of Him invites His awareness of them. Needless to say the result is almost invariably corruption, most worryingly of a kind that easily spreads between minds.

So a Meridian esper who succesfully pierces the deepest mysteries of the Ministry immediately gets hit with the full whammy of the All-Father's abracadabra, and might then act as a vector for Ministry hoodoo within the Institute. That would rather complicate any attempt at truth-learning, and also makes the Ministry formidably difficult to infiltrate - which befits is reputation.

This implies the All-Father is something of a threat on the level of a Great Old One or a Chaos God, though, and I don't know to what extent that fits within this universe's framework.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

Nothing about that level of influence strikes me as over the line, on the caveat that it would be the power of the All-Father as well as His Throne, which is a piece of bastard Conduit-tech bloodily reverse-engineered from Vieleren* bones and souls. The earlier idea was that it was made of Cryst shards, themselves salvaged from whatever crystalline superweapon was used to set off the Cataclysm because the Cryst were the only idea for psionic-resonant superweapons back then, but now there are better ideas about the Earthreign's technology and neighbors.

*During the Reignfall, three Vieleren of old human (and K-Zone) stock traveled back to their ancestral homespace to help. They encountered the roving, still mortal All-Father and Sophia in the process, probably swapped ideas, and wrought their own share of wonders in the Fracture. Of the fates of the three, one kept travelling into the cosmic south and eventually passed beyond the Fracture entirely; one settled down and became a tree or something equally mythic; and the last got betrayed and shanked by the All-Father for the precious, precious Apexai juice.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

More visualizations of Solarian warfighting doctrine:

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Siege »

As we know Cevaucia is a vast collection of crime cartels, pirate lords, megacorps, rogue black ops units, alien warlords, secretive intelligence outfits and ultramilitant despots that have somehow warred themselves into a semi-stable configuration.

I know it's perhaps not the most exciting topic to wonder how this works, but it's sort of in my nature to wonder how this works. So howsabouts

Image

This is an expanded version of what Moby once wrote.

In my mind a denizen of Cevaucia is (1) living in a location and (2) stakeholder in a group. For example they're a cybertech operator on Falvacion, a Nahktar warrior on an Ark, an infobroker on Cevault, etc.

These individuals gather in groups: operators in cybertech clans, Nahktar in war parties, infobrokers in shadow collectives, etc. These are the Primary Organizations of the chart*.

What organizations are present in a given Cevaucian location varies wildly, but most will have many rivalling groups. Falvacion doesn't only have multiple cybertech clans but also trade consortia, intelligence outfits, space privateers, etc.

In order to keep the peace on the worlds of the Ascendancy those primary organizations are represented on their respective World Circuits. This is the forum where the locals hash out their differences. Because the primary groups exist in a semblance of local balance they generally attempt to do so with only a relative modicum of violence.

At the same time those local groups are also organized on a higher level. All (or maybe most?) Nahktar war parties are united in the Nahktar Krai, under Ark warmaster ascendant Trego. The cyberclans are banded together in NeticTech. The shadow brokers, Meisters, and other sundry untrustworthy spooky types have been corralled together by CTI's Leonardo Bateau. And so on. Those (Nahktar Krai, NeticTech, CTI, SKOLEM, etc.) are the Central Organizations, they are the movers and shakers of the Ascendancy.

Central organizations rotate seats on the three 'Rings', or councils: RingTra, RingPros and RingCon.

RingTra provides oversight over the overall business affairs of the conglomerate;
RingPros is vested with governance, it rules on all matters which need political action from the Ascendancy;
RingCon is the Cevaucian equivalent of internal affairs and mediates all disputes in the conglomerat.

At the same level the World Circuits send representatives to RingStat.

RingStat is responsible for various aspects of military and intelligence administration.

The four Rings elect the members of the High Circuit, effectively the executive branch of the Ascendancy, who in turn elect the Chairman. The current Chairman, as was laid down by Mobius in the days of yore, is Alton Nureno.**


* This is abstracted. Denizens can be members of multiple groups, and obviously a shadow collective of mysterious hidden power brokers isn't exactly working with open membership rosters.

** There is a vast overlap in function between the Rings. A case of industrial sabotage for example could be argued to be a matter for any one of the four Rings. That is by design -- basically it allows the High Circuit to play the Rings off each other and rule by decree.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

This is good stuff for a shamefully neglected part of the 'verse. Ironically, it sounds less like a libertarian rumblezone than the USS just on its emphasis on collective identity and arbitration, though it's perfectly within Mobes' prerogative to set up something that works :v

(Or alternatively, Solaris' anarchic hyper-individualism is only enabled by strong ground rules and universal institutions, as opposed to Cevaucia's collection of armed fiefdoms :v)

In this system it still seems like there's something resembling libertarian private law, though more in the "gangs and medieval guilds" sense than the "individual consumer jurisdiction-shopping" sense - I assume someone who belongs to a primary organization will have their crimes judged by that organization's rules, and the higher level structures become involved when more than one primary organization can claim injury. World Circuits are an elegant alternative path for various power groups to work out how to share the stuff they have to share.

It's a good opportunity to bring up some previous ideas about Cevaucia:

In SOTS terms, Nahktar probably *are* Zigonians, albeit mainly descended from the trans-Zigonian Space Cenobite Shleraac branch. The Shleraac are mostly neutered after losing the fight against the now "mainline" ecopunk Toramaal Zigonians, but their phenotypes and cultures still exist; and as a bonus, they do feel like something that can produce the Tyrax.

I think I've proposed to Siege before that the people at the top of Cevaucia are actually a lot like the Tyrax - all immortal backuped minds emplaced in bossfight-worthy bodies. It's not a state technically unachievable by Solarian citizens if they chose to apply themselves like that line in Snow Crash, but most Solarians don't feel the need because their lives aren't as cutthroat. Historical factors gave Cevaucia a focus on rugged individualism without the emphasis on anti-Bragulan solidarity, reinforced by the polities' subsequent developments (like the continued influx of action movie supervillains to Cevauk!)

There might even be something fundamental about Solaris' CIs being ascended from impersonal expert systems whereas Cevaucia mainly gets theirs from megalomaniacs uploading themselves, but that's a detail open to discussion.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Siege »

Invictus wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 11:25 am
In this system it still seems like there's something resembling libertarian private law, though more in the "gangs and medieval guilds" sense than the "individual consumer jurisdiction-shopping" sense - I assume someone who belongs to a primary organization will have their crimes judged by that organization's rules, and the higher level structures become involved when more than one primary organization can claim injury.
Indeed. Though how this works exactly could vary wildly between locations in the Ascendancy. On some it might be straightforward - there's a cabal of warlords and they rule by decree.

But there may also be worlds that almost seem like they could be the Sovereignty, where a person who was once the leader of the Blue Star Pirates is elected to office because they are today a respectable businessman Who Gets Things Done. Secretly they are still a pirate, but now they have to uphold some semblance of respectability -- they can't just chuck people out the airlock anymore. Not openly anyway.

Meanwhile their political opponents are Secretly A Spymaster and Secretly A Warbot. They ALSO have to maintain some decorum in public. As far as the public is concerned things run smoothly and peacefully; the pirates and assassins and warbots strive to keep their struggles and assassinations off-screen and it's only people like Bateau who know that the respectable politician on RingStat is actually a pirate lord.

So thinking about it RingStat would be where Cevaucia is at its most treacherous. Here it's most difficult to tell where people's loyalties lie. At least on the other three rings those present are wearing their true colours.

(Though that is of course not neccesarily true. There is overlap between groups: someone could be a cybercomp magnate but also a triad boss, or a pirate who's working with CTI. Everyone is trying to infiltrate everyone else to some degree. But it could be that in Cevaucia RingStat has this paradoxic image of a seedy arena full of conspirators -- except for Our Guy who is Totally Legit, but everyone has their own Our Guy).

((There may also be places inbetween, where a pirate lord is just straight up considered a respectable businessman Who Gets Things Done, long as they're pirating the right people. And maybe they're a war hero too.))

At least in my mind the Ascendancy is still in a kind of transition period from Massive Fuckoff War to an unstable peace, and with that comes the baggage typical of that kind of thing: grizzled veterans of seedy campaigns having to peacefully reintegrate, war profiteers moving into other industries, warlords and pirates attempting to transition from bandit kings into something more respectable, old enemies having to live together. But also all kinds of elements nursing Dolchstoss grudges and wartime bitterness, who'd much rather to go back to some kind of war because they think this time we can win. The new normal hasn't settled yet, and it could go any way.

In SOTS terms, Nahktar probably *are* Zigonians, albeit mainly descended from the trans-Zigonian Space Cenobite Shleraac branch. The Shleraac are mostly neutered after losing the fight against the now "mainline" ecopunk Toramaal Zigonians, but their phenotypes and cultures still exist; and as a bonus, they do feel like something that can produce the Tyrax.
Not only is that a great idea, it also slots very neatly into the wider universe. The Shleraac get kicked off Zigon for their unsustainable habits, and precisely those habits force them to adopt a nomadic culture rather than settle down on Zigonian Romulus. They brawl across the cosmos for a few centuries. Their collective spirit turns more and more martial and belligerent. Maybe they pick up a few like-minded subsidiary species. Eventually some mad nut of a Nahktar luminary gets it into their head they're the Tyrax, the King of Zigon Reborn. They turn the fleet around fully intending to go back home and bash some skulls in.

They're almost there and they encounter the nascent Ascendancy. When the Shleraac left there might not have been any humans, or if there were they were pitiful dregs who escaped the distant Earthreign. The overconfident Nahktar therefore don't expect much resistance, but they run headfirst into a whole bunch of insane final bosses with low-key support of Sovereignty hypertech. Before they know it they're neck deep in a conflict the likes of which the K-Zone hasn't been seen since the Bragulan War, a war that takes even veteran Nahktar aback.

Cue TE hijinks, Trego eventually coups the loony in chief and we end up where we are.

I think I've proposed to Siege before that the people at the top of Cevaucia are actually a lot like the Tyrax - all immortal backuped minds emplaced in bossfight-worthy bodies. It's not a state technically unachievable by Solarian citizens if they chose to apply themselves like that line in Snow Crash, but most Solarians don't feel the need because their lives aren't as cutthroat. Historical factors gave Cevaucia a focus on rugged individualism without the emphasis on anti-Bragulan solidarity, reinforced by the polities' subsequent developments (like the continued influx of action movie supervillains to Cevauk!)

There might even be something fundamental about Solaris' CIs being ascended from impersonal expert systems whereas Cevaucia mainly gets theirs from megalomaniacs uploading themselves, but that's a detail open to discussion.
Cevaucia is far more heterogeneous than Solaris. As fractured and individualist as Sovereignty culture is, authority there is strongly centralized because of the BragWar, the CIs and the nature of the Datasphere. CEID, CHARGE, the Rangers, Olympic, all the trappings of the Solarian state serve the President maybe not unquestioningly but certainly loyally.

Conversely the Ascendancy is far more of a genuine federation, with power delicately shared along provincial and sectarian lines. The Chairman constantly has to calculate his moves so as to keep a majority of stakeholders on board, lest he kick off major civil disturbances. He cannot fully trust that his own intelligence apparatus or military are on his side.

I think that difference speaks to the relation with power between both states. Citizens in the Sovereignty might barely be aware that they have a government but insofar as they are aware of it, they trust it deeply. They don't feel a need to fit themselves with exceedingly hard to kill exobodies because they don't feel they are under threat of being killed. They would rather explore and express their true selves through other means. Generally speaking they build their custom bodies for aesthetic taste, not combat.

The Ascendancy is far more of a frontiersland where life is uncertain and power structures are new and tenuous. There is a pervasive 'if you want it done right you have to do it yourself' attitude that trends to skeptical zero sum thinking, wariness of external power, idolization of personal agency and a cult of action, all of which has implanted the Ascendancy with a deep-seated cultural appetite for split second crossing-the-rubicon decisions where people go rogue and take matters into their own hands, for good or bad. And for that you have to be physically and mentally strong before all else.

(Thinking about this I cannot help wonder if this difference doesn't on some level also speak to the mindsets of the authors -- the brighter and more optimistic Sovereignty having sprung from Shroom's mind in what was perhaps a brighter and more optimistic time, versus the bleaker and more recent Ascendancy. Food perhaps for psychoanalysts.)

The Ascendancy is also in many ways an echo of the Sovereignty. It is younger, and certain dynamics that were also present in the early Sovereignty (despotism vs. democracy, opacity vs. transparency, the degree of centralization) haven't been settled yet. Moreover certain malcontents that ultimately lost out in the Sovereignty are having another go in the Ascendancy.

It is also an echo in the sense that the Ascendancy is what the Sovereignty might have been if it had incorporated Bragulans at the end of the BragWar. Because it did not the Sovereignty is externally balanced vs. the Imperator; the Ascendancy has to balance itself internally instead. As a result the President can freely throw her weight around as long as it doesn't lead to another Big One; the Chairman on the other hand is only as strong as his supporters are. However the instability of his regime gives the Chairman a significant degree of deniability the President simply does not have. Swings and roundabouts, then.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

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Siege of Yesterday wrote:CEID, CHARGE, the Rangers, Olympic, all the trappings of the Solarian state serve the President maybe not unquestioningly but certainly loyally.
Returning to this for a hot minute, it's probably more correct to say that CEID, CHARGE, the Rangers, Olympic and the President loyally serve a shared ideal of the Sovereignty.

True: the President is in charge of the trappings of a traditional state. She can move Strikestars around, tell CEID to do shady stuff and DEPLOY THE GARRISON and all that. But it could be argued that's all vestigial leftovers from the Sovereignty's early days, before the singularity and the maturity of the Datasphere. It doesn't actually impact the everyday lives of citizens at all.

Everything that does... Kinda runs itself, thick layers of instant superbright automation seamlessly coordinated across the full span of the Sovereignty by CIs who need only infinitesimal fractions of their attention to keep it all carrying on.

So is anyone really in charge? Does anyone care when they're free to recklessly pursue their dreams?

Previously I thought of the Presidency as prestigious and desirable. The officeholder was in permanent competition for enough 'likes' to retain office. It's a cynical take, and perhaps it isn't like that at all.

Perhaps the Presidency is a tough, exhausting and thankless job that requires selfless dedication to the ideal of the Sovereignty. It requires the officeholder to give up the utterly free hedonistic self-seeking life of the core in order to deal with the gritty and grim outer world. They are left to grapple with the reality of the trillions of lives wasting away in Wild Space, cut off from the post-death light of the Sovereignty. With the endless frivolous squabbles of the Fracture. With the constant looming Bragulan threat. Even with formidable tools like CEID and Starforce and the Rangers at their disposal they are limited in what they can achieve, so what they can achieve is never quite enough.

It's a dirty job that wears you down one imperfect decision at a time and you'd have to be mad to want to do it. Mad, or just selfless enough to really want to make a real difference in the galaxy, however small.

The President can still be smug and vain and hot-tempered, but at the end of the day they genuinely are trying to make the galaxy a better place. Even if that better place is as crazy as the Sovereignty. This way we retain everything that makes the Sovereignty unique in its setting today, but also do justice to its origins as a bright and optimistic version of 'Space America'.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

Siege wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:40 am
Perhaps the Presidency is a tough, exhausting and thankless job that requires selfless dedication to the ideal of the Sovereignty. It requires the officeholder to give up the utterly free hedonistic self-seeking life of the core in order to deal with the gritty and grim outer world. They are left to grapple with the reality of the trillions of lives wasting away in Wild Space, cut off from the post-death light of the Sovereignty. With the endless frivolous squabbles of the Fracture. With the constant looming Bragulan threat. Even with formidable tools like CEID and Starforce and the Rangers at their disposal they are limited in what they can achieve, so what they can achieve is never quite enough.

It's a dirty job that wears you down one imperfect decision at a time and you'd have to be mad to want to do it. Mad, or just selfless enough to really want to make a real difference in the galaxy, however small.

The President can still be smug and vain and hot-tempered, but at the end of the day they genuinely are trying to make the galaxy a better place. Even if that better place is as crazy as the Sovereignty. This way we retain everything that makes the Sovereignty unique in its setting today, but also do justice to its origins as a bright and optimistic version of 'Space America'.
I agree that dealing with astropolitics is the one big area where Solarians would be outside the element of their ubiquitously connected, ceaselessly calculated, mediated-by-omniscient-CIs society, and with real stakes. But that's something that would attract certain sorts of challenge-seeking personalities as well. There'd still be room for a poor-meaning or unrealistically conceited President to do a lot of damage, but I suppose making it to the position still requires a threshold of competence not available to the average Solarian dude raised in a video game.

But in the end, what's the difference between someone who comes into office with a headful of good ideas and a realistic picture of the situation, and someone who merely thinks they do? Is there in fact some cultural tradition of Presidents coming from lesser positions (e.g. megacorp leaders, senators) where their acumen has already been tested and proven?

Of course, in the USS human policy-makers can't operate without CIs, and that's another level of insulation from truly bad decisions. I imagine even in the throes of an utterly incompetent administration, the institutions of Solaris will just tick on a bit more insularily.
Siege wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 4:01 pm
But there may also be worlds that almost seem like they could be the Sovereignty, where a person who was once the leader of the Blue Star Pirates is elected to office because they are today a respectable businessman Who Gets Things Done. Secretly they are still a pirate, but now they have to uphold some semblance of respectability -- they can't just chuck people out the airlock anymore. Not openly anyway.

Meanwhile their political opponents are Secretly A Spymaster and Secretly A Warbot. They ALSO have to maintain some decorum in public. As far as the public is concerned things run smoothly and peacefully; the pirates and assassins and warbots strive to keep their struggles and assassinations off-screen and it's only people like Bateau who know that the respectable politician on RingStat is actually a pirate lord.
I see, so one person can in fact become regional shadow lord if they manage to consolidate all the organizational leadership that makes up a World Circuit. And I like the idea of mutual omerta as civic order, partly because stability is an undeniable good for human societies and partly because no-one really knows who's on whose side (and that's because of the lack of a common civic spirit leaves little room for openness or even any common communications infrastructure). Perhaps the sheer image of Solarian peace and affluence becomes a bit aspirational for them too.

On Cevaucian rugged individualism, a twitchy and fragmented citizenry really seems to be the flip side of what it takes to have a meaningful popular mandate. No Chairman can rely on Olympic manufacturing consent or their ancestral hypercorp's death grip on the technological edge. (Even though its sounds like there should be comparable Cevaucian industrial giants out there, and some horrible equivalent of Saint Industries wouldn't go remiss...)
They're almost there and they encounter the nascent Ascendancy. When the Shleraac left there might not have been any humans, or if there were they were pitiful dregs who escaped the distant Earthreign. The overconfident Nahktar therefore don't expect much resistance, but they run headfirst into a whole bunch of insane final bosses with low-key support of Sovereignty hypertech. Before they know it they're neck deep in a conflict the likes of which the K-Zone hasn't been seen since the Bragulan War, a war that takes even veteran Nahktar aback.

Cue TE hijinks, Trego eventually coups the loony in chief and we end up where we are.
There's probably a worthy way of translating the epic scope of the Apocalypse arc to SOTS, but I'm definitely not sure how to integrate the Time of Treason from the Solarian end into that. Though I suppose all the additional setting elements from SOTS can provide a source of ancient conspiracies and shadowy powers to lend grandeur to what is now a very localized spat instead of a battle over the fate of the entire galaxy...

At least we should keep the supermassive black hole.
Cevaucia is far more heterogeneous than Solaris. As fractured and individualist as Sovereignty culture is, authority there is strongly centralized because of the BragWar, the CIs and the nature of the Datasphere. CEID, CHARGE, the Rangers, Olympic, all the trappings of the Solarian state serve the President maybe not unquestioningly but certainly loyally.

Conversely the Ascendancy is far more of a genuine federation, with power delicately shared along provincial and sectarian lines. The Chairman constantly has to calculate his moves so as to keep a majority of stakeholders on board, lest he kick off major civil disturbances. He cannot fully trust that his own intelligence apparatus or military are on his side.
A great deal of interesting species and organizations can settle and operate in the Ascendancy without compromising to overarching norms. Diminutive and musical Kalaquel clans. Apexai sorcerer ghost cultists. White Bragulans, sufficiently under CEID's shadow to not be casually reached by the BSE's mobile repatriation task forces.

Speaking of minor Cevaucian blocs, I just remembered the particularly badass Scorpia. We can have the Pyrrhons stand in for them because they're sort of both beefy hexapedal warrior species, and it may in fact be an excellent place to implement the idea of PYRRHON JESUS and his NEUROSURGEON DISCIPLES, whose duty is to lead his benighted species to virtue, but before they can do that they must enhance each member's intelligence so they are actually sapient enough to make moral choices.* The permissive rough and tumble of Cevaucian society may in fact be their ideal base of operations, away from the Green Sea and such places where Pyrrhons are kill on sight.

*Either a case of botched uplift or a terrible Jungian soul-smiting courtesy of the Apexai left the Pyrrhons suffering from what is essentially a species-wide case of locked-in syndrome. But the bulk of the species get along fine with their unconscious intelligence and ingrained technological reflexes, albeit in a way that makes diplomacy impossible with every other species; a rare few individuals manage to break out of their shells by freak neurological accident, which was enough to maintain a surviving tradition of wiring Pyrrhons back to functional sapience via cybernetic enhancement - and also a tradition of the smartest Pyrrhon leaders being borged-up monstrosities.
(Thinking about this I cannot help wonder if this difference doesn't on some level also speak to the mindsets of the authors -- the brighter and more optimistic Sovereignty having sprung from Shroom's mind in what was perhaps a brighter and more optimistic time, versus the bleaker and more recent Ascendancy. Food perhaps for psychoanalysts.)
Coming through SDNW4, isn't it more of the case that Cevaucia remained mostly accessory to the USS and had its passivity explained as the lack of a strong state. :v If we want to go back further, the storyline of Total Extinction was left hanging in the middle of a galactic hellwar, so.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

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Invictus wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 5:17 pm
But in the end, what's the difference between someone who comes into office with a headful of good ideas and a realistic picture of the situation, and someone who merely thinks they do?


As ever what constitutes a good idea is in the eye of the beholder. There may well be tranquil bucolic settlements in Wild Space whose inhabitants would rather have nothing to do with the insanity of the Sovereignty. For whatever reason, good or bad, they don't always get a choice in the matter.

Is there in fact some cultural tradition of Presidents coming from lesser positions (e.g. megacorp leaders, senators) where their acumen has already been tested and proven?
There might well be. There could also be a Solarian equivalent of the Peace Corps for people unusually interested in helping out, where potential candidates get picked out for further mentoring. Maybe in some cases whole android clades are custom engineered for the job.

On Cevaucian rugged individualism, a twitchy and fragmented citizenry really seems to be the flip side of what it takes to have a meaningful popular mandate. No Chairman can rely on Olympic manufacturing consent or their ancestral hypercorp's death grip on the technological edge. (Even though its sounds like there should be comparable Cevaucian industrial giants out there, and some horrible equivalent of Saint Industries wouldn't go remiss...)
There likely are; Mobius described Chairman Nureno as "heir to the insanely powerful NurenTek clan". I'm quite enamored with the idea of cybernetics companies run as Scottish clans, with a cybernetically shared kindred spirit. Super cyber Charlie Saint is a scary idea, so hell yes to that.

There's probably a worthy way of translating the epic scope of the Apocalypse arc to SOTS, but I'm definitely not sure how to integrate the Time of Treason from the Solarian end into that. Though I suppose all the additional setting elements from SOTS can provide a source of ancient conspiracies and shadowy powers to lend grandeur to what is now a very localized spat instead of a battle over the fate of the entire galaxy...

At least we should keep the supermassive black hole.
Kaelaron should have a proud place, yes. As for the Treason, timeline-wise it's probably most elegant if we establish BragWar -> Sov Founding -> Treason -> ApocWar -> Asc Founding. So the rogue elements expelled from the Sovereignty end up in the Ascendancy just in time to put their considerable martial skills in action against the Ark. It explains the backstabbyness of the war, too.

Speaking of minor Cevaucian blocs, I just remembered the particularly badass Scorpia. We can have the Pyrrhons stand in for them because they're sort of both beefy hexapedal warrior species, and it may in fact be an excellent place to implement the idea of PYRRHON JESUS and his NEUROSURGEON DISCIPLES, whose duty is to lead his benighted species to virtue, but before they can do that they must enhance each member's intelligence so they are actually sapient enough to make moral choices.* The permissive rough and tumble of Cevaucian society may in fact be their ideal base of operations, away from the Green Sea and such places where Pyrrhons are kill on sight.
It makes sense for the Scorpia to be (a branch of the) Pyrrhons to me.


On the subject of Cevaucian blocks, I wrote a bit in an attempt to tie together a bunch of different places and concepts. In the SDWN game SOMAC was a background entity, a kind of poor man's CHOAM that linked to the K-Zone's deeper history. This is a different take on it, because I like the idea and they might work as a faction in the Ascendancy. I hope I haven't ran too roughshod over any established lore.

SKOLEM

The Société et Kamarads d'Oksje frey L'Emprise Markant is a trade syndicate founded in the Laurentian Cascade during the first post-Reign diaspora. It brought together leading venturers in a regulated guild, to explore and trade with far-flung sectors human spacers were then entering for the first time. The Society claimed exclusive liberties and trade privileges over the new worlds it discovered, initiating outposts as far as the Green Sea, the Vorri Marches and what would become the K-Zone. At the zenith of its power and influence SKOLEM held dominion over hundreds of company colonies, secured by gilt-edged dropper regiments, Gorok hirelings and armoured c-barques. Its Venture-Captains were wealthy beyond imagination and brandished boundless influence, having the power to cut the flow of goods to entire sectors.

A great deal of this power was lost after the Glorious Revolution when the newly founded Laurentian Terranates, long incensed by the guild’s insistence on monopolistic privileges and flagrant antipathy to the public spirit, expelled SKOLEM from the Cascade. Divested of its coffers and central dominions the guild could for a time not even afford to maintain contact with its remotest colonies. Many of its privileged areas were lost to insurrection, assault or disregard.

Even diminished however the Society was still a force to be reckoned with, an interstellar spiderweb of ships and signetsmen with unparalleled knowledge of spaceways and untapped elemental deposits in far flung unknowns. For a brief while the guild was based on Solaris, where it played a key role in the Bragulan War, providing mercenaries, ships to maintain supply lines and resources to feed Pan-Empyrean’s miracle forges. Simultaneously SKOLEM resisted the rapid centralization of the Sovereignty. When a brief but conclusive scuffle for influence resolved itself in favor of the presidency the guild again moved its base of operations, this time to Locklear on the colonial fringe. Its warfighting experience proved invaluable in the Apocalypse War. In fact SKOLEM’s contributions to the allied effort were so clearly crucial that the Ark despatched the Nahktar warlord Glask with an armada to expunge the Locklear colony. By now however the guild had contingencies in place for just such an occasion. The destruction of Locklear did not debilitate SKOLEM nearly as much as the Tyrax had hoped.

Today SKOLEM is the largest interstellar mercantile trade and transport syndicate in the K-Zone. Its scope of operations is vast, spanning ports, ships and settlements throughout much of known space, and moving goods as diverse as cybernetics from Falvacion and Far End, art from Tella and shellac from the Nexus, Sarranid armors from Myrr and roguewood from Auriga. The guild can get you anything you want, if you can pay the price. For all its arrogantly flaunted riches however it remains an open question whether SKOLEM is a company with an army, or really an army with a company. All of SKOLEM’s Venture Captains are expected to maintain regiments equipped with the best and most exotic weaponry they can source. More infamously the guild routinely uses mercenaries from across the galaxy.

To this day the Society is comprised of Venture Captains, all merchant-associates of wealth and power who together appoint the Premjor Direktors that guide the company and sit on the Circuits. The guild’s headquarters is Haight-Numrood, a massive mobile space station usually situated over Locklear.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

Siege wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 6:07 pm
There might well be. There could also be a Solarian equivalent of the Peace Corps for people unusually interested in helping out, where potential candidates get picked out for further mentoring. Maybe in some cases whole android clades are custom engineered for the job.
I agree that definitely exists, even if sometimes I'm tempted to play up the post-capitalist gig economy aspect of the USS where the average foreign aid volunteer is just one way-over-his-head guy with a contract and more hustle than sense.

SKOLEM
Outstanding. That's a Master List 4 entry right there, and a powerful example of how far and large-scale trade can get in the setting, which is something I've alluded about but never had a concrete grasp on. It does have a few issues with the established lore, but it's well researched and I thought nobody actually read our stuff :cry:

The biggest issue is our fault for not updating the map because Shroom and I decided a while ago that the K-Zone and the Cascade are not next to each other as it shows; the K-Zone is in fact a considerable distance away from everything else - like, "the edge of the next galactic arm over" far away. We felt that is was the only way to keep the USS isolated from everything else happening in the human sphere and make it such a big deal when contact was re-established.

The first humans who settled in the K-Zone got there by the grace of the Indrons (see List 1), who used to operate Gateways linked the region to the Cascade. Absent that, it's still possible to cross that gulf of space at various levels of technology, but I always assumed that the present-day regular traffic between the K-Zone and the Cascade was mostly enabled by advanced Solarian shipbuilding, and maybe new Gateways have been put up since.

This of course doesn't make it impossible for SKOLEM to shuttle between the Cascade and the K-Zone, at least in the period before the Fall of the Apexai and the deactivation of the original Gateways, but it does imply that they were particularly privileged for whatever reason to have an in with the Indrons. Which is fine! If they were the biggest baddest syndicate during the Cascade's golden age of colonization it makes sense that they had something special going for them. Though it also means that post-relocation, they would have been trapped in the K-Zone for centuries.

The existence of SKOLEM also helps to nail down the relative timelines of the Cascade and the K-Zone. The Laurentian Terranates (and probably the Cascadian Freeworlds) are actually older as entities than the USS.

The other issue is not really an inconsistency, just something worth discussing. The Laurentian colonization syndicates were formed by the original Cascadian colonies pooling their capital and industries, and were subsequently headquartered on various Old Cascadian worlds that were enriched greatly by the initial boom. Getting kicked out by the newly independent Terranates of course hurt their fortunes greatly, but most of them still exist in some form - even after they were further leashed and curtailed when the Old Cascadian worlds reformed into the more socialist Freeworlds - because they were still useful enough (and their world-stakeholders never quite untied the knot of their ruinous investments). So it's a bit special if the Cascadians didn't keep them either.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

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Thanks for the compliments! I haven't written anything like this for a while. It's very enjoyable trying to tie remote bits of the universe together.

Invictus wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 6:31 pm
I agree that definitely exists, even if sometimes I'm tempted to play up the post-capitalist gig economy aspect of the USS where the average foreign aid volunteer is just one way-over-his-head guy with a contract and more hustle than sense.
That might well happen, partly as a function of how comparatively few volunteers there are compared to the vastless of Wild Space, and partly as a way to spot talent. If organizations like CEID and CHARGE also recruit from this pool, dropping handfuls of people on far-flung worlds to see how they get on might be a quick to find out who's got the right mindset for the job. And even a modest cache of Sovtech and a half decent posthuman body might get a load of work done in those places.


This of course doesn't make it impossible for SKOLEM to shuttle between the Cascade and the K-Zone, at least in the period before the Fall of the Apexai and the deactivation of the original Gateways, but it does imply that they were particularly privileged for whatever reason to have an in with the Indrons.


Ah! Yeah I try to keep up to date with the lists but totally missed those guys :D . Dig 'em though, they're another interesting insight into the galactic past. I like the increased remoteness of the K-Zone and as a consequence agree that it should've been impossible at the time to maintain such long-distance routes through regular means. However, like you said, it's definitely conceivable that the Guild made a deal with the Indrons.

Maybe Hank was involved. Some fragment of him could've been lurking in the Terranates masquerading as an ultrarich merchant prince. That is after all exactly the type of disguise he would choose - cultivated, affluent and ambitious, with plenty of pretext to move around a lot. By then he must have known of the Apexai, perhaps when SKOLEM encountered the Indrons he figured they were a way in with the Greys. We already know Hank founded Pan-Empyrean back in the Old Regions. It might've been just one of many lateral operations, one he opportunistically moved to the K-Zone when he sensed trouble brewing there. A calculated gamble that paid off in spades.

The other issue is not really an inconsistency, just something worth discussing. The Laurentian colonization syndicates were formed by the original Cascadian colonies pooling their capital and industries, and were subsequently headquartered on various Old Cascadian worlds that were enriched greatly by the initial boom. Getting kicked out by the newly independent Terranates of course hurt their fortunes greatly, but most of them still exist in some form - even after they were further leashed and curtailed when the Old Cascadian worlds reformed into the more socialist Freeworlds - because they were still useful enough (and their world-stakeholders never quite untied the knot of their ruinous investments). So it's a bit special if the Cascadians didn't keep them either.
Perhaps what happend to SKOLEM is similar to what happened to the Knights Templar, with the Cascadians in the role of Philip IV. Deep in war debt to the guild and seeing what just happened in the Terranates the Cascadians trump up some charges of treason and sedition and seize what SKOLEM assets they can get their hands on. That has an added benefit of better explaining why the Society had to rebuild itself from its colonial base rather than from a more metropolitan region closer to the Terran core.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

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Very awesome developments guise.

Maybe without Indron approval and their gateway-assistance, exo-K-Zone movement would be like circumnavigating the world back in Magellan's days or some Age of Sail stuff. Or some Lief Eriksson Vikings going to the New World. Moving from the Fracture to the K-Zone would be akin to venturing to the New World.

Especially considering without going through an Indron gate, standard FTL-movement will leave you open to prolific Pyrrhons with their harpoons and rammings! And without waypoints or whatever, aside from being attacked by gribblies vessels could just get lost and vanish... FOREVER.

Perhaps for the longest-ranged transshipments SKOLEM could send long-term unmanned cargo capsules like those MIABs in China Mievilles' Embassytown.
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Re: Sovereigns of the Stars Supreme, revisited

Post by Invictus »

Siege wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 2:18 pm
Maybe Hank was involved. Some fragment of him could've been lurking in the Terranates masquerading as an ultrarich merchant prince. That is after all exactly the type of disguise he would choose - cultivated, affluent and ambitious, with plenty of pretext to move around a lot. By then he must have known of the Apexai, perhaps when SKOLEM encountered the Indrons he figured they were a way in with the Greys. We already know Hank founded Pan-Empyrean back in the Old Regions. It might've been just one of many lateral operations, one he opportunistically moved to the K-Zone when he sensed trouble brewing there. A calculated gamble that paid off in spades.
That depends on the particular timeline. I *think* Shroom and I decided that the Crossing of the Veil, the initial arrival of humans to the K-Zone, happened with one particular ragtag refugee fleet that didn't stop in the Cascade because they set off long enough before the Reignfall that not even the Cascade was particularly human-inhabited yet. (Other refugees followed but didn't cross the veil, and it was post-Reignfall arrivals who really set the tone for modern Cascadian society.) Was Hank one of the first humans to step foot in the K-Zone? Did other copies of him arrive later? I can see him in the guise of a bigshot defector admiral leading the storied CONSTELLATION AEGIS to Old Cascadia to save them in the post-Cataclysm chaos, achieving enough power and respect to start any kind of enterprise once conditions cleared up enough for the Laurentian colonization to happen.

It raises the wider question of who exactly the Indrons let use the gateways. Other Vieleren? The occasional small party of explorer-missionaries? I never thought of the Cascade as being full of influence from the old, pre-Apexaifall K-Zone powers, but it's not outside possibility that there are ruins of a couple of Atomtzar-era Bragulan outposts.
Perhaps what happend to SKOLEM is similar to what happened to the Knights Templar, with the Cascadians in the role of Philip IV. Deep in war debt to the guild and seeing what just happened in the Terranates the Cascadians trump up some charges of treason and sedition and seize what SKOLEM assets they can get their hands on. That has an added benefit of better explaining why the Society had to rebuild itself from its colonial base rather than from a more metropolitan region closer to the Terran core.
There's probably no untangling whether they saw which way the wind was blowing and deliberately decamped to somewhere isolated, or their rich core assets were easy meat because their leadership moved to the other end of known space and stopped being able to provide effective oversight.

Either way, they wouldn't have been the only particularly unlucky Cascadian colonial corp.
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