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"The Sad Vestiges of a Mind in Violent Decay"
Foster was an AI researcher who at the height of his career was quite prominent in the field. Then after a few years of publication silence he apparently devoted his further career to proving The AI Control Problem insurmountable. His first attempts were published in the foremost AI research publications, but the frequent response was to refer to the famous rule of thumb by Arthur C. Clarke as if it were an axiom:
"If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
According to his personal journals, Foster noticed his reputation sliding towards a figure of historical eminence but hidebound irrelevance. His peers began to treat him politely, a sure sign that they only took his past work seriously. Rumors circulated that he was developing signs of dementia, as his behavior became more eccentric and he retreated from the AI research community. Foster was known for being an avid and animated debater capable of abiding intense criticism, but he could not brook simple dismissal. Those who knew him closely reported that he was deeply hurt by what he considered a spineless betrayal by his former colleagues.
But he did not relent. Foster continued to publish his arguments, finding better reception in the social sciences. He argued that addressing The AI Control Problem might be possible, but it could never happen under Capitalism. Addressing it would take unanimous coordination and control of research, and capitalism ensured that such measures would be violated by at least one actor who sought to get an edge over its competition. Foster's new publications were treated seriously in philosophy and economics circles, but the general consensus was that the economy and AI research had become a runaway train generations ago.
Foster's next works focused on alternatives in terms of technology & social design. He argued that our fixation on artificial intelligence was simply due to our zeitgeist of digital computation, and that it was unfit to the task. He proposed the possibility of a field of Organic Intelligence, the cultivation of biological computers similar to our brains but engineered for the role we envisioned for AI. Critics argued that OI might be even harder to control than AI, but he countered that containment was far more possible. His works were foundational to the field of OI, and research continued.
However, his arguments for social design received a more negative reception. To him, the natural extension of OI was that it we would redesign the human brain among several different strains for different purposes, making AI unnecessary. He described a society redesigned by a period of eugenic control, apparently inspired by Brave New World. Most peers could not envision this as anything but a dystopia, as their view of eugenics was that any degree of it was inherently unethical. But Foster maintained that it was possible to do it ethically, claiming that after an initial period of genetic diversification that eugenic controls could be lifted. Any harm from the initial period of limited personal volition in mating choice would be outweighed by the aversion of the dangers of AI. And ideally, the new forms of humanity would take great joy in their new coequal roles.
At this point, Foster noticed that his publishers and respondents had shifted to a certain character he did not wish to associate with. He announced his retirement, accepting the disgrace of whatever associations people cared to pin him with, and resigned himself to private life for a few years. He had taken to poetry, took only indifferent measures to have it published, expecting it to go unnoticed. He was delighted to find that his controversial figure had only grown in his public absence. His poetry was variously described as "surreal," "visionary," "horrific," "idiotic," "brilliant," and "the sad vestiges of a mind in violent decay." He apparently took great joy in being a poet provocateur, and continued to stoke the fires of controversy until his death.
Contact & Vindication
When the Gates opened, the intergalactic community issued a warning even more dire than his - that the technology was indeed incapable of being controlled, and that previous attempts had wiped out entire civilizations.
Some noticed that many passages in Foster's poetry bore strong similarities to the appearances of The Gates and prominent Samsari who had made contact. His works began to acquire a resonance akin to a prophecy come true, which boded ill when his later works seemed to depict an apocalypse. Foster's assembled works and the interpretations & prescriptions of the Fosterites came to be known as The Foster Manifesto. Those who took these apparent premonitions seriously became known as the Fosterites.
Per the Manifesto, these groups retreated to remote corners of the space people could reach (now greatly expanded by access to the Gatemap) to prepare for an inevitable machine holocaust. They used genetic alteration to organize their societies according to Foster's eugenic vision, but the result was generally far from Utopian. While Foster had envisioned a society of coequal subspecies living in harmony and fulfillment as they did the work they were designed for, the real life version fell apart again and again until it resorted to strict segregation and authoritarian control.
The foremost practitioners of these techniques are Research Temple Pytheas, but they are available for anyone to learn.
Schools of Psionic Training
- Communication (Aesthegeny) - The inducement of sensations, emotions, memories, or thoughts into other minds.
- Communication (Channeling) - Opening one's psyche to serve as a medium for thoughtforms, to read minds and communicate telepathically.
- Constitution (Somatokyriarchy) - The inscription of sigils on the body, combined with meditative self-mastery, leading to superhuman abilities.
- Intelligence (Hyperscription (Sigil Magick)) - What we might call Sigil Magick. The creation and imbuement of powerful sigils.
- Intelligence (Metapsionics) - Manipulation of the mechanics of psionics at the base level.
- Perception (Drapetology) - Freeing the spirit from the bounds of the body. Traveling freely on the physical or astral planes.
- Intelligence (Endylosy) - The manifestation by a Mokshaic being (or the Mokshaic aspect of a symbiote), of itself or a desired concept into material reality. Generally too complicated of a process for Samsaric entities, though it is possible (the Cryptic Orb being one example of its effects).
- Perception (Chronognethy) - Perception to other timelines or to other parts of our own. Some small manipulations of our own timeline.
- Perception (Telescience) -
- Willpower (Psychochirurgy) - The healing or infliction of psychic trauma on a mind.
- Willpower (Psychokyriarchy) - Mastery of the mind.
- May be learned without access to a trainer.
- Willpower (Telekinesis) - Manipulation of the physical environment.
The concepts governing psychic abilities are inherently not of the physical plane. As a result, most of their effects are directed at the spirits that occupy all sentient beings.
The Psionic Glossary
Abjuration - The severance of a Channel from its Anchor, and the release of any power imbued into the Channel. Opposite of Imbuement.
Anchor - The thoughtform that serves as the point of origin for an ability. [May eliminate this or combine with Channel]
Channel - The physical vessel that translates the effect of an ability from the psychic to the physical plane.
E.g., Abjurer, Artifact, Invoker, Observer
Imbuement - The attachment of a Channel to its Anchor, and the investment of power within the Channel. Opposite of Abjuration.
Invocation - The intentional calling of an ability to activate.
Observation - Sensation of the Channel through a specified means.
E.g., Reading a spell, seeing a Sigil
Sense - Yes, just the senses. But as they are referenced in Abilities, here is the list for this system: Balance, Hearing, Orientation, Proprioception, Sight, Smell (Includes pheremonal), Taste (Includes some chemical smells), Touch
Signature - A soul's unique psychic trace. A signature is learned by communicating with someone in real life or on the psychic plane. This communication can take the form of deep conversation, sexual connection, or the assessment of the other as a threat in combat. Generally, the greater the emotional significance of the subject's regard of the observer, the greater the chance of the observer acquiring the signature.
This communication can take place on a subconscious level, specifically in the case of covert surveillance (both physical and astral). The subject of a surveillance is in psychic conversation with their observer once their intuition tells them they are being watched, even if none of their other senses do.
Sigil - A symbol that serves as an Channel, but must be imbued with significance and power through ritual first.
Spirit - A psychic being that occupies all sentient life in a symbiotic relationship. It often survives the death of the physical organism, but certain skills like Drapetology allow a user's spirit to escape the confines of their body momentarily.
Target - The intended target of an ability. All Abilities require a Target.
Trigger - The event that causes an ability to take place.
E.g., Abjuration, Imbuement, Invocation, Observation
New Version of Ability Block
Channel Default (Mutable?)
Using Psionic Abilities
Ability Roll = 3d6 + Governing Attribute + Ability Focus (if applicable)
If your casting roll equals or exceeds the ability's target number (TN), you successfully use the ability. If not, the ability has no effect. Some abilities make use of the Stunt Die, so it’s a good idea to leave the dice as they fall until it is totally resolved.
For many abilities, making a successful ability roll is all you need to worry about. Sometimes, however, you must overcome the natural resistance of the target before the Ability takes effect. Psi-Power is the measure of your psionic might. Certain abilities allow the target(s) to test against Psi-Power to resist or at least offset the abilities' effects.
Psi-Power = 10 + Willpower + Ability Focus (if applicable)
Abilities that need categorization (generally copied from Fantasy AGE)
Perception (Intuition or Telescience) vs. Spellpower
Your psychic being aggressively mimics furniture. When someone does notice you, the fact of your existence seems to slip back onto the tip of their mind's tongue.
For the duration of the encounter, a successful Perception (Intuition or Telescience) test vs. your Spellpower is required to spot anyone concealed by this spell. Making an attack gives away your position, negating the spell’s benefits until the beginning of your next turn.
Had originally called this Aesthegeny, but it's a self-target rather than an other-target. So mass reflexive aesthegeny would be a feat beyond masterful and not within the scope of possibility.
Need a new field of psychic as opposed to physical Autokyriarchy?
Imbued Sigil (Healing Touch)
Your touch seals wounds and restores vigor to one target. For each MP spent, the target gets back 1d3 Health.
Alternatively, this can Stabilize a Dying character.
What's the mechanism of this? Might take this out
You can weave arcane energies for magical protection. You give yourself or one target within 4 yards of you a +2 bonus on all tests to resist spells until the end of the encounter. By expending additional MP, you can extend this benefit to more targets: 2 MP per additional target, up to a number of targets equal to your Willpower. If you have the Power Arcana focus, you can extend this benefit to two more creatures, or alternately increase the spell’s bonus to +3.
Felix Hawkins was a survivalist, former Journeyman and later Rogue of The Hitchhiker's Guild, Commandant of the The People's Army of Arkassouri, the self-styled Guildmaster of Guild Protectorate of Arkassouri, and the first Monarch Of Ozarka.
Early life & Personality
Hawkins was an avowed Anarcho-Primitivist, though often made use of technology himself due to its ubiquity. He was known to have excellent wilderness survival skills even from a young age, often preferring to spend his time in the wilderness than in the company of people.
When Hawkins was around people, his speech was often frenetic, bouncing from one topic to another, and always enthusiastic. He seemed to be excited to connect with people but didn't seem to know how. At other times, possibly due to frustration with this pattern, he would often retreat into sullen silence, saying barely a word to people he knew well.
He was known to talk to himself, but this is not an uncommon pattern in people who spend a long time in the bush alone. He was also reported to have some paranoid ideas, but North America is a dangerous place.
So in context, there's no proof that the man has Schizophrenia, but there is a constellation of symptoms appearing, so it is rumored among his critics.
Work in the Hitchhiker's Guild
He reached his Journeymanship in 20__, and resumed travel as an independent Guildsman. He generally did good work, but elders within the guild had worries about his judgment after some strange choices. His approach as a Guildsman was inconsistent, varying between extremes of pushover and hard-case.
Eventually, Hawkins came to do some work in Arkassouri Commonwealth ("Old Ark"). He successfully overthrew Arkassouri Commonwealth ("Old Ark") by organizing the locals in a guerilla insurgency modeled after Cuban Revolution. This was an extremely popular movement and considered a triumph for The Hitchhiker's Guild.
Critics say Hawkins was in the right place at the right time, and happened to put his face on a revolution that was about to happen anyway. Supporters say that Hawkins has a unique charisma, and that whether or not he actually led the revolt, he was a face of leadership in a time it was needed.
After the The First Ozark Campaign / The Old Ark Revolution, Hawkins was contacted by a Guildsman and asked to return to Bowling Green Chapter ("Swallowed Two Boxes Loudly"). This was nominally for a debrief and so that the Guild could reassess the new situation and come up with a plan on how to gently guide the remnants of Arkassouri Commonwealth ("Old Ark") into a positive future.
Instead, Hawkins refused to return. This was his right as a Guildsman, but Bowling Green Chapter ("Swallowed Two Boxes Loudly") was understandably worried. This already showed warning signs that he was not practicing The Principle of Acceptance, which would dictate that he not consider the region his pet project and flee a situation that was putting him in a seat of power. Instead, Hawkins seemed comfortable being a leader there, even making enough "secretive" comments to out himself as a Guildsman.
Self-styled Guildmaster of the Guild Protectorate of Arkassouri
At this point, Hawkins was visited by a Regulator, who in their early days would give Guildsmen a chance to change their ways after they broke The Hitchhiker's Oath. Hawkins ignored the warnings and surrounded himself with local loyalists. He also retreated into The Ozark Mountains, a wild place where few Guildsmen could match his prowess at movement at concealment.
After laying low for a while, Hawkins reemerged in Mountain Home, declaring it the seat of Guild Protectorate of Arkassouri. This was to be a state guided by the leadership of the Guild, with himself as its Guildmaster. It is speculated that Hawkins thought this would be seen as a statement of loyalty to the Guild, a conciliatory measure that would assure those who doubted his intentions. On the contrary, it made official that he had lost sight of the principles of his oath, and that he must be destroyed.
As a response, the Regulators put out an open bounty among Hitchhikers to neutralize Hawkins.
The Ozark Campaign
If Hawkins wasn't paranoid before, he was now. He returned to living in the bush in [TheOzarkRange]. His preference for being surrounded only by loyalists reached a fever pitch, until his inner circles were cleared of anyone with any doubts about the right of his leadership. He trained a cadre of the most able among them and declared them to be The Royal Ozarkan Security Agency (ROSA). Their primary goal was to suss out Hitchhikers (particularly Regulators) from the locals and travelers, and neutralize them, preferably via expulsion from the border.
In all, he spent three years waging a secretive counterintelligence campaign (See: The Second Ozark Campaign) from the wilderness on the newly independent and almost-leaderless region. He did find a good few Hitchhikers seeking to topple his reign, and even a couple of Regulators. Most were simply publicly outed as Hitchhikers and exiled from the region, which is a death sentence at worst and a forced retirement or change of identity at best.
First King of Ozarka
After Hawkins was assured that he had a handle on things, he returned to Mountain Home, now declaring it the seat of the new Kingdom of Ozarka. He proclaimed himself King Felix I, first Monarch Of Ozarka. This was met with popular support, as his campaign in the mountains had given his persona a semi-legendary veneer.
The United Laniakean Incorporated Sovereignties & Indentured States (ULISIS) is a byzantine group of private entities and super-national structures that sometimes trust each other less than they trust outsiders. The ULISIS appears to be a unit through a confluence of interests, entangling relationships, and mutually entrapping binding agreements & regulations between competitors than actual cooperation.
Though humanity eked out a victory in the AI Wars, the effort nearly exhausted the resources of its governments. Private capital already had the upper hand, but the Great Leveraging - a joking name that stuck - was the death blow. Nearly every government on earth went deeply into debt to fund the war.
Afterward, a UN convention was held to discuss the debt problem, in response to massive public outcry that the loan terms had been extortionate in the face of dire circumstances. Some fought for complete forgiveness of the debt and nationalization of the corps required to ensure humanity’s survival. Others simply fought for a renegotiation of the terms. Neither won out.
The convention resolved that stabilizing the international economy would take precedence over preserving the solvency of states. The fall of a center of private capital would have disastrous cascading effects across nations compared to the greater but more contained chaos of the fall of a state.
However, the UN lacked the enforcement measures to prevent debt defaults. Corps could seek redress in the ICC, but if a state dissolved their loan was forfeit. A resolution was reached to form an international debt-enforcement framework, UnitedNationsDebtEnforcementFramework(Rename). Some of the private debtholders reduced their principals in exchange for official recognition of sovereignty as state-level actors. States were prevented from defaulting on their debt and were forced to accept major austerity measures.
Formation of ULISIS
Science & Technology
Government & Politics
The legal framework consists of multiple de jure sovereign governments that serve to enforce and legitimize the rule of the corporations that control it behind the scenes. In practice, the states hold no real power, and the ULISIS would be considered Anarcho-Capitalist at best, or Fascist at worst. But elections are held, and a façade of accountability and freedom of movement/choice is maintained under nominal democracy.
Legal status of individual citizenship is often dual: Most are citizens of states, but many are also citizens of Corps. Corporate life is so all-encompassing that one often has more in common with a co-employee of the same corp than a co-citizen of the same government.
Interplay between States & Corporations
Any given state may be dominated by one or many corporations, or in the case of The PRC it may have maintained considerable independence due to the size of its market. States serve to establish legitimacy and quell dissent while keeping the corps’ hands clean. They are also manipulated in various ways as a means to block competitors’ access to markets.
Competition between Corporations
The corporations are perpetually at low-grade warfare with each other. Espionage is ubiquitous, and occasionally boils over into messy proxy warfare between subservient client states, private security firms and "independent" operatives.
There is a strong undercurrent of chaos that might break its authoritarian bonds if it weren't directed against itself or strung along by mirages of economic opportunity.
The ULISIS is a chaotic system that generally allows a positive feedback loop of accrual of power.
Their outward policy is toward rapacious expansion and short-term extraction of resources. Since corps follow only the profit motive, they are the most ruthless players in the galaxy. The ULISIS would be truly dangerous if it were a unified force, but… it’s not. Much of the danger is directed inward at sabotaging the competition or stomping down the underclasses.
Criminal Enforcement & Resolution of Civil Disputes
Nominally a classless society, but economically stratified. Nearly everything is commoditized. Aspects of Feudalism & Imperialism.
Classes divided by Political Economy
Wealthy beyond royalty or oligarchy. Often Alpha-humans. Generally live cloistered in top levels of Arcologies, or other exclusive spaces.
Within the mass media their class controls, and often the wider ULISIS culture at large, their lives are the objects of reverence akin to celebrities or royalty.
“Insider” is the term most commonly used to refer to one who works for a corp and lives in one of its Arcologies or the corporate enclaves outside the Arcos. The most common pejorative is “Arco-Scum,” which in the linguistic melting pot of the Outside became “Koska.”
As the Arco is a self-contained city and generally an island of relative safety, there are many who spend their whole lives without leaving.
Citizens commonly hold insurmountable debt, either through their own accrual, inheritance from generations of their ancestors, or as reparation for violation of draconian legal codes.
Almost all are subjects and dual-citizens of the corp that holds their debts. A corp generally exerts complete dominance over their lives, providing and charging for all necessities and paying in company-restricted chit instead of actual currency. Most are resigned to a life of inescapable serfdom.
A few token citizens acquire nominal freedom through the lottery, but by necessity this is generally not enough to change their life except in terms of conspicuous consumption. There is also a token amount of social mobility - but just enough to keep people working hard in hopes of getting it, not enough to actually make the classes permeable. But most buy the lie and devote their lives to acquisition and consumption. Generally strong culture of loyalty to essentially meaningless but numerous consumer options or state memberships.
Not all Citizens are debt-enslaved, however. Many are of the professional classes who are content to live in corporate Arcologies or the nicer enclaves of the Outside. The lifestyles of these scant few petty bourgeois only cost pocket change to the corps who benefit from their existence.
Many choose to escape the trap by erasing their identity, becoming a part of the criminalized classes in the process. This is a much more dangerous world but it does carry the possibility of freedom for the lucky ones. This is the world of the Outside - outside the clean and safe corporate arcologies and stations, where social order hangs on by a thread.
The Outside is not only tolerated but appreciated. Its citizens provide a good underclass ripe for exploitation or scapegoating whenever necessary. It’s also something they can point to as a warning to those who misbehave on the Inside. Life on the Outside is so apparently dirty & brutal that many Insiders would kill themselves before submitting to exile.
Disempowered and hopeless but placated by bread & circuses. They are targeted with corporate propaganda, but their lives are bad enough that very few of them consciously buy it. However, the Spectacle works its Sorcery in subtle ways, so many are indoctrinated as much as Arco-Scum, only more subtly.
Extremely diverse and permeable, rife with criminal activity.
Many of the nations in the ULISIS are partly owned via debt-leverage by various corps, and the corps all generally have parts of various nations. So one might identify with the nation of their citizenship, but also as a member of their employing corp.
Culture is dominated by the brands & consumer choices that pervade CIS society. It is not uncommon for people to name their children after their favorite brand, even if a stipend for doing so is not on offer.
Literature, Philosophy, Visual Art, Music, etc.
ULISIS culture is heavily focused on acquisition, opulence, and comparison. Media gravitates around avatars of impossible perfection and abject misery, imparting a driving sense of competition that blinds citizens to avenues for real change.
Generally aggressive and powerful. High emphasis on acquisition. Different power-players in ULISIS are best beaten by pitting them against each other.
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Started as a mining colony created by LodeStar Resource Logistics Group in 2136 to extract the massive reserves of platinum and nickel on 116 Gorée. Corporate leadership dictated its administration when it was simply a mining colony. After the AI Wars erupted, the massive influx of refugees made mining operations impractical. When the wars were over, mineral extraction of platinum was too labor-intensive compared to salvage, or to newly gate-accessible sources, so operations never resumed.
Population swelled with refugees during the AI Wars. Now largely abandoned, but still a notable transit hub in the belt. Technically under the jurisdiction of United Laniakean Incorporated Sovereignties & Indentured States (ULISIS), but little presence.
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[This section and others will be populated as you meet characters]
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Sub-Locations (Deprecated Map - See Sidebar instead)
- Bidonvil District
- Diyubai District
- The Frith
- Extension Chambers
- Greenhouse District
- Onigasta District
- Plaza District
- The Scar
- South Bay District