Saturday, April 13, 2024

Through the Looking Glass (Class: Sharpshooter)

A draft trade with Locheil of the Nothic's Eye - a class (and Gonne Rules) for his interwar setting, Aclas. And the product of me realizing that I stopped making Blog Posts™ because I kept spiraling into larger "required" scopes, when actually you rats will read any old garbage. :)

The heartless symphonist of gunmetal and exploding limbs – the conductor of lead, and the rattle of gunfire is their drum, as they hammer on and on and on.

a front-page news story - what could an aspiring gunman want more?

A: Like a Limb, Quickdraw, +1 to-hit with guns
B: Feats of Accuracy
C: Compulsive Reloader, +1 to-hit with guns
D: Line Up, Knock Down

Like a Limb
Reloading no longer takes an action, and clearing jams only takes an action.

If you have a loaded gun, you get to fire before initiative is rolled. “While you’re talking to the magnate, the door starts opening a-” “I shoot them!” “You turn the corner and you-” “Shoot him!” and so on. No hesitation.

Feats of Accuracy
Your gun is always aimed, and damage dice from firearms explode in your hands. If you aim anyway, in your double-aimed state your sight follows the bullet. Shoot through a window and get a slow-motion snapshot of the room behind it.

Compulsive Reloader
Buy cartridges? For money? Absolutely repulsive - just make some of your own. With an evening of work and 20sp in materials, you can put together 1d6 cartridges with any of the above Tags.

If a bullet is carved with a name the carver (which does not necessarily need to be you) hates, its range increment becomes one mile.

Line Up, Knock Down
Gunshots cleave.  

Guns, Rules For Them

(locheil did not finish the rules which means i get to post them now. i cannot be stopped)

Unless you are bulletproof, having a gun pressed to your head or vital organs and fired point blank is a save vs. death. (Well - I think it should just be death, but somebody has mercy in his heart.)

Guns are light (one-handed, 1d6 damage), medium (two-handed, 1d8 damage) and heavy (two-handed, 1d10 damage) like standard weapons. 

All guns deal +4 damage and ignore armour unless it is bulletproof

Range Penalty - you get -X to Hit, where X is the number of 20 metre increments between you and the target (-1 at 20 metres, -2 at 40, -3 at 60).  

You can spend a turn aiming beforehand to cut the penalty in half (or, in simpler terms, to increase the increments to 40 metres.)

Scopes give +X to Hit, where X is their magnification. Scopes are ineffective when within [X]*10 Metres, with the exception of 1X scopes. (See what I did there?)

Rolling a 1 when attacking with a gun indicates a jam (dirty firing pins, vis-generated water (or, with repeated fire, ice) in the action, spring problems). The gun must be cleared of the jam with a full turn before it fires again. Poor handling, lack of maintenance, and other such things increase the jam range.

There are some other tags:

Buckshot - When you are within 10 metres, a given shot cannot do less than half damage. 

Incendiary - Whatever the bullet hits is ignited.

Armour Piercing  - The shot ignores all physical armour. 

Silver - Does full damage to spirits, demons and causes vis to explode. On a jam, the gun explodes. 

Wolfram - The bullet cannot be affected by magic. 

Due to the terms of the Treaty of Kelos, magazine-loading and rotating-barrel guns are banned to maintain “decency in warfare”, along with a lot of other things. The primary consequence is that guns are single-shot unless stated otherwise. 

Only fighters can move and reload on the same turn. 

Manufacturers add little quibbles and variances to guns:

  • Cabro - High-Power - +2 Damage, but don’t make Heavy guns.
    A Vanchan company, best known for producing guns which combine portability and power. 

  • Bela-Maximis - Reliability - always jams on a 1 or 2, no matter what you’ve done with the thing.

A Hevash company - their products never work well, but at least they never get worse.

  • Kataram Trigonometrics Division - Artillery - make Superlative (mounted, 2d6 damage) anti-material rifles. They jam “excitingly”.
    A Nevechi manufactorum, previously specialising in the production of howitzers and arms for Automatic Infantry.

  • Carigian - Elegance - +1 to Hit, but don’t make Light guns.
    A Tivgarine company, best known for producing elegant and accurate hunting rifles. 

  • Grötram - Modularity - Repairing or Modifying a Grötram gun costs half.
    A Zarumaan industrial collective, best known for making trucks. But they make guns too. 

  • Ankurav Heavy Industrial - Double-barreled - It’s technically legal!
    An Iskorian corporation, who make everything - and can’t help but jump through a loophole.

  • Wintersage & Green - Concealability - thinned-out Light guns are unnoticeable without a pat-down, folding Medium guns can be hidden just as well under a large coat. They don’t make Large guns, for obvious reasons.
    A Tindavi company best known for definitely not making the gun that wounded a Niveran ambassador.

  • Seidau - Reliability - Reroll jams, but don’t make Medium guns.
    An Ukalt workshop known for making precisely two types of really reliable guns. 

  • Federation Workshop - Precision Machining - Critical hits deal an extra 1d6 damage.
    An Athrunnar company, privatised from a Union state operation. Known for service rifles.

  • Armos Foundries - Magazines - Guns have magazines but are illegal and cost quadruple.
    A technically-Surammar “company” operating in a legal greyzone. The only source of new models of illegal magazine-loaders


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Isotelus Complex on Kickstarter

Isotelus Complex, a blogpost written on a whim in response to a GLOGtober prompt, has lightly taken over my life. So, with Zine Quest here, I've decided to "do" "something" about it. 

Owe My Soul to the Company Store is a transhumanist social adventure for Mothership, set on an under-construction habitat on Callisto. Hundreds of people work in orbit - while at the same time, copies of their minds grind away at the surface, loaded into immense chitinous Labor Bodies.

Isotelus is barely half-finished, and already falling apart. The space elevator hits its maximum stress level with every launch. Six ComSec rent-a-cops threw a dockworker out an airlock. Radical pamphlets spread like wildfire - and soon, the first wave of colonists will arrive. 

Down on the surface, the Labor Bodies scheme - some hope to lead a workers' uprising, and free Isotelus from the distant public-private partnership responsible for it. Others simply want to be left alone until their artificially-shortened lifespans tick away. 

Owe My Soul will be a full, printed zine, with graphic design and editing by Sam Sorensen and illustration by Locheil

The Kickstarter will run here, for the next two weeks.

Thursday, February 1, 2024


Best Case Scenario is an RPG/skirmish wargame by deus ex parabola - an SCP sort of thing about getting into gunfights with greebly aliens and spider-sponges. Back in 2022 I posted a pair of operations, and now I've finally gotten around to running another set.

In MEASURE STRICT BEHEMOTH [OPEN-EYE GREEN] the agents are sent to capture Thomas Brillo, head of a local ghost-breathing cult, as he travels through the small town of Mt. Orab, Ohio - and, while you're at it, destroy his car. His car won't appreciate that.

In WAX ANGLE BEWARES [CLOSED-EYE RED], operatives attempt to stop a deal between a competing organization and a princeling of the upper mantle - a deal inconveniently taking place inside a packed airliner. Get the 200-pound iridium lotus they brought to trade off the plane before it lands in Vienna, and don't blow up the plane. Last time we had to dredge a spirit of the inner earth out of the ocean, they got rather upset.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Short-Lived Book (GLOG Spells)

I was born with my siblings in the spring, when the frost left, and our seeds sprouted. The rest of us howled and shouted, and shook our thorns - but I was weak, and thus fearful. I fled, out among the plants-who-stay-still, and the graves of our forefathers. 

There is where it spoke to me - the shapeless shape, the rattling sound in the voices of the leaves. And it said: your stem is soft and thin - your thorns unsharpened. I offer you a guide. An angel. You are doomed by birth, you will live only a year - but I can show you the way to life eternal.

It asked no price of me. It lied.

But I was lost, and couldn't understand - so I leapt at the offer. The voice raised a hand, and my many-legged angel took its first breath.

Invent Wasp

A hand-sized wasp-shape (1 HP, no AC, flies) crawls out from the earth. It loves you like a dog - you can give it scritches, if you so desire. After [worst] hours, it vanishes. For every MD invested in the spell, choose two details:

  • A crop in the manner of the Masarinae - it can carry your pollen messages.
  • Great size, equal to yours - it can be ridden, with care.
  • A terrible venom, in the manner of the Pompilidae - insects are paralyzed, and men are stricken with agony.
  • Production of honey, in the manner of the Brachygastra.
  • Grinding mandibles (grinds wood to paper, attacks plants as a light weapon), in the manner of the Polistinae - beware, for these are killing weapons, and marks of a cruel familiar.
  • Striking coloration, in the manner of the Chrysididae. 
  • Skill in pottery, in the manner of the Eumeninae. 
  • The ability to communicate with you, in taps and scents. Through this detail, I learned that it is the same wasp that is summoned, every time the spell is cast.
  • Proficiency in the works of the mine, in the manner of the Sphecidae.
  • Bringing with it a fig, in the manner of the Agaonidae.
  • Parasitism, in the manner of the Ichneumonidae - anything the wasp can fit its legs around vanishes with it when the duration ends.
  • A warm, soft coat of fur, in the manner of the Mutillidae.

Months passed, and summer came. But my angel could not guide me home - in fact, I began to suspect it meant to point me away. When I stopped drinking, and reached the dark, it spoke to me again, in the patterns of the flowers. Fear not, ever - for I can show you how to be alone.


For [sum] minutes, you are shrouded. When cast with one MD, people will avoid you out of politeness. With two, they avoid you out of fear. With three, anyone approaching you must save or take [best] damage and be turned away. With four, you are invisible for the duration.

Autumn came, and my wings grew. Then, they fell out - a nutritional deficiency, perhaps, as I had been far from good soil or water. As I clutched them and wept, the voice returned. Are you still so fragile? So weak? Take the lesson of the tree - there is no virtue greater than resilience.

I took my wings in hand, and stripped trees of their bark with my thorns.

Needle and Thread

Sow a piece of a plant to another - the larger part must Save (with a +[dice] bonus) or die.  

By the time of the snows, I was prepared. I was taller than my lost siblings, I was surrounded by angels, and my gaze turned animals away. But no strong stem could turn away death, and I felt its hands at my back.

When I laid down, ready for it to take me, the voice screamed in the wind. You have done my will. For it lied when it said there was no price. The snow covered me. I give you what I promised.

Secret Hollow

Cover yourself in snow, sand, or soil. For [sum] months, time does not pass inside the hollow.

Life eternal. 

Monday, January 1, 2024

More Of This Thing (Campaign Retrospectives)

I love a good campaign retrospective, and since the orbits have aligned and the calendar has clicked over, there's been a bit of a tendency towards introspection in the blog space. So, what kind of desperate-for-attention internet word-stapler would I be if I didn't do the same? 

After spending 2022 working on a zine and entering a variety of new and exciting spirals, I wanted to try this neat thing called "running" "games" - of course, my zoomer attention span and hole-filled brain prevented me from running grand, years-long campaigns, but hey - that just means I get to stumble around more settings, and fall into new and exciting pits.

No Other Options (5 sessions, Delta Green)

This was an attempt at... ease - a trio of ye olde modern-supernatural shotgun scenarios stapled together by a framing story - the players as a set of cleanup goons for the incorrigibly violent cult-hunters of K-cell. 

Unfortunately, at least in my incapable hands, the chosen scenarios were more or less nonhostile - the intended idea of "players do [tasks] while under time pressure" collapsing as the players got hours or days to work. Creeping past a police investigation to fill a room with bleach is thrilling - showing up two days early is just busywork.

Which isn't much of a lesson, really.

See It Descend Into (12 sessions, GLOG variation)

the stepwell Chand Baori, in Rajasthan

SIDI was an attempt at that most OSR of plans - a fully open-table not-actually-big-enough-to-be-a megadungeon. Players descend into the sacred Inverted Pyramid, built by their ancestors and littered with messages in their Dead Language, to catalog and smuggle out their own cultural artifacts before the armies of the oncoming Pentarchy can take them for their own. 

The game was, at least on my end, a disaster. The old trick of "build the megadungeon as the players go" turns out to be less than successful when the megadungeon is meant to imply a particular history (a history that didn't exist at the time). Additionally, players switching back and forth shattered any sense of general progression - a group would make it a couple rooms through the dungeon and translate an engraving, only for a different group to stop and translate the same engraving again the next week. Of course, this is a GM-side problem - the players found things that were new to them, but with an outside perspective it was like a treadmill.

Or at least, it was like a treadmill when the current set of players were interested in archaeology. One of the less-expected problems with the wide playerbase was a misalignment of goals - some players enjoyed the translation minigame and identifying artifacts, while others thought that they would be better off using their scavenged magical devices to wage guerilla war on the surface. 

These are... somewhat incompatible. In all honesty, the campaign may have been best served by splitting it in half and closing the tables - separating it into a surface game about increasingly difficult assassinations of imperial officials, and the intended archaeological campaign. 

Instead, I did nothing - and, eventually, the game withered. ⚻ ♋︎-♊︎-♋︎ ♉︎-♑︎, I suppose.

The open table as an online system is interesting to me. I suspect it may be better served as a game run in an already existing social space (such as the OSR Discord server) than in a space of its own (such as, of course, SIDI's Discord server) - providing the opportunity for people to easily see it. I also suspect that, as time goes on, open tables become less accessible; more information, more stories, more prior events, all stacking up until the table closes itself. Though... this may have been affected, in SIDI's case, by the foreign language homework.

Go Away (8 sessions, GLOGesque superhero thing)

With SIDI closed, I very much wanted to do something "fun" - thus, I dragged the city of I Re out of my notes and onto the table for some Criminal Sandbox Gaming. You have 5 weeks to get onto the orbital habitat Demeter-3. I don't care how.

This game was a delight - an intentional near-cyberpunk farce of quadcopter IEDs and technomonarchist street gangs. The players managed to kill just about every named NPC, get their hands on one hundred million dollars, and then blow that up too, out of spite.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, an enclosed space full of local factions makes a wonderful place to release the players into - and an objective that simple kept the game moving, even as the PCs shifted their plans.

It did, of course, have its problems; it ran quickly enough, and was so tightly-woven, that adding new players in the last couple sessions had some strange effects on group dynamics (at least in my eyes, but I'm the one writing this so I get all the eyes). And, of course, 3-5 players ended up a good bit better at reactive faction sandboxing than I was - almost every fight was either a scheme-based steamroll or avoided completely. Obviously, doing that is The Core Of The Sandbox Play Style - but in the future, I want to make sure the NPCs have a scheme or two of their own.


All the Little Rabbits (12+ sessions, Lanthanide Horizon)

a visual record of history, by one of the players

My eternal brain problem of a science fiction game has finally been dragged back to the table. A Sustainer Cell, their town struck by drought and eternal night, wander the megastructure to search for a safe home. 

It has managed to have every single problem of every aforementioned game, simultaneously, plus some more. Much of it rotates around the gift economy - taking that most hated eventuality, the long and wandering conversation with the town shopkeeper, and making it a required part of the setting. 

This has, intentionally, made the game rather conversation-heavy - PCs struggle with NPCs over uncountable, immeasurable social status (to the point of, in one case, giving someone radiation poisoning in an attempt to escape a gift-giving competition) and needed items. 

Once again, NPCs have tended to be less active than they should - to keep the debt-machine turning, it is important for them to actively both give items (thus creating a debt that they can call the PC in on later) and ask for items (putting them in debt to the PC). Unfortunately, as the game ran on, this became less frequent - in general, it has been plagued by parts of the game and setting coming up, and then being dropped back into the background in the roil of session time.

A trick I will try next time I run a game in the Cells is to frontload it further - handing every PC some amount of debts and debtors as part of character creation.

Managing player spotlight in this system is another problem - one character has gotten very deep into the economy, starting all manner of wild schemes, while the rest have not. I had planned to resolve this with between-session text downtime, letting highly social players continue their schemes, but this... also never really came together. 

"Never really came together" has been a touchstone of the game as a whole, in fact. After the success of the mostly-improvised, laying-tracks-in-front-of-the-train Go Away, I started AtLR more or less on a whim, certain I could do the same thing. 

I absolutely could not. Thanks to a set of Brain Problems, writing for this setting has ended up grueling and particular at the best of times, let alone as the campaign stumbled onwards. Early pieces of the campaign were just completely unfinished - half-written encounter tables, empty dungeons, and no supporting tools (item lists, types of creature, etc).

Things improved, somewhat, but it turns out that I become... lazy, doing overland prep as a pointcrawl instead of the ol' reliable six-mile hexes. There is less stuff in the game than there should be. Before I run this again, I hope to have more of the setting... finished, ish - build a hexcrawl map of perhaps not the megastructure, but at least part of it. Fill out bestiaries, and artifact lists, and Troika-ish starting backgrounds. 


the hope, in theory, is to double the amount of these regions and then give them a couple dozen hexes each - something in the region of 400 total. something to do in the background while smaller projects actually get finished

The Future (terrifying) 

In 2024, I would like to: 

  • Turn Isotelus Complex into an adventure for Zine Quest. 
  • Run Spite Me All You Wish, a mercenary game set in Skerples's Bosola
  • Run something else - Apocalypse World, or Blades in the Dark, or something outside of the OSR sphere. 
  • Staple together at least a bit of the aforementioned endless Lanthanide Horizon hex'd crawl, to do something with. 
  • Try another open table - something more standard D&D, somewhere more accessible.

Monday, October 30, 2023

A/B/C (Shotgun Scenario)

A man is dead. Twice.

The police found body "Alpha" under an overpass, beaten and covered in garbage bags. No identification, no clothes, no importance; the police decided he was homeless and deprioritized the investigation.

At 8:04 AM the next day, "Beta" was shot in the throat from a third-story window. He looks identical to "Alpha", down to fingerprints and scars; 5'10", 130 pounds, black hair, thin face. By the time the police arrived, the shooter was gone.

The police have been delayed. Their investigation has been stopped, and Beta's possessions have been preserved.

This is now your problem. Catch the killer, and identify the copies, if any more exist.

 GM Information

The Doppelgangers

There are, or were, a total of 6 copies. Alpha and Beta are both dead; "Gamma", "Delta", "Epsilon", and "Zeta" still live. Only Zeta was meant to be released. He plans to kill the rest, and has persuaded Beta and Gamma to help him. The rest of the doppelgangers are going to ground, trying to build identities and relationships - making sure someone would notice if they disappeared, and hoping that will protect them from Zeta.

Alpha was desperate to find a cover as a human. He knew Zeta was after him and he was running out of time, so he tried to kill Epsilon and replace him. He got himself killed instead.

Beta was one of Zeta's agents. He avoided working - hoping that as long as there were others to kill, Zeta would leave him alone. He was wrong. Zeta got tired of his unreliability, and sent Gamma to put a bullet in him.

Gamma is Zeta's more active agent. He killed Beta with his own rifle, and now he's working down the rest of the list. He is unsubtle, and not above public violence. He always carries a pistol. He knows Zeta plans to betray him when the job is done.

Delta is a hermit - he's known someone's after him ever since Beta took a shot and missed, but he doesn't know who. His implanted memories are strong - he is entirely under the impression he is a real person, and has no idea there are any others.

Epsilon is hiding in plain sight. He lives in a perfectly normal house, with a perfectly normal girlfriend who thinks he's a perfectly normal human being. He killed Alpha in self-defense, and he'll kill again if he has to. He is also injured - nobody gets out of a knife fight clean.

Zeta is the first of the doppelgangers, the only one meant to exist. Everyone else is an error, not meant to be released. He's coerced Gamma (and, previously, Beta) to kill the rest. Then he'll kill Gamma himself, and vanish, secure in the knowledge he is the only one.

They were released in inverse order - Zeta first, then Epsilon, and so on, with Alpha the most recent. Except for Delta, all of their memories start with them waking up out in a forest. None of them know where this is. None of them know why.

Each and every one of them is a fake. Under layers of false skin and flesh, they are filled with wet gravel and foam insulation.


- "Day -1", Alpha is killed by Epsilon. Beta attempts to kill Delta, and fails.

- "Day 0", Beta is killed by Gamma. Gamma is reassigned onto Beta.

- "Day 1", October 12th, the players are brought onto the investigation.

- "Day 2", Gamma kills Delta.

- "Day 3", Gamma and Zeta meet at the diner.

- "Day 4", Gamma takes a shot at Epsilon while he's at home, and fails. The police are called. Gamma runs.

- "Day 5", Gamma tries again and succeeds. No survivors.

- "Day 6", Gamma and Zeta meet. Gamma is killed. Zeta vanishes.


Alpha's Murder Scene

Among the trash and ignored by the first round of crime scene investigators is a bloodied metal pipe, covered in wads of foam insulation. The fingerprints on it match any one of the doppelgangers. 

There are also Alpha's clothes and a journal - Alpha's information on Epsilon. Pictures of his house, pictures of his family, scripts recording the way he talks and the things he wants, all so Alpha can replace him.

There's also still a trail of blood leading away - the murderer must not have gotten away unharmed. It leads to a drug store where the workers will readily admit someone matching the description of a doppelganger came in, bleeding, and then took a taxi out east. This was Epsilon, returning to his house.

Beta's Body

Beta is shabbily dressed, and uninjured except for a bullet hole through the throat. His pockets contain the keys to his apartment, a pocket knife, and a wallet with $12.03, a driver's license under the name Johan Reading, and a picture of Delta's windowless basement apartment. On the back of the picture is "Amnesiac. By the the 28th. 610 East 35th St." - that date is two weeks ago. Beta was meant to kill Delta by now, but simply hasn't.

Beta's Apartment

Gamma shot Beta from their own apartment, after getting an extra key from Beta's landlord (who will say that "Johan" was in his apartment at the time Beta was shot). The day of the shooting, Gamma arrived in his van (bright yellow, license plate COE-3881 - tenants and the landlord can give a decent description).

The apartment itself is a wreck, trampled over by a crowd of tenants and cops. There are no signs of forced entry (Gamma used the key). A telescope tripod still stands by the single window.

On the desk is a letter. You didn't show last week. I'm tired of this. Do your fucking job.

Next to it is a map with three spots marked and dated - one last month, one last week, and a diner in two days.

At the bottom of a bathroom trash can are a set of notes on Beta, made by Gamma - his routines (home, then work at a local car wash, then home, shopping once a week), his acquaintances (none), his equipment (an AR-15 in .308 - the gun that killed him).

Gamma's Van

A boxy panel van in aggressive bright yellow. Through Day 1 and Day 2, it is parked with a clean line of sight to Delta's apartment, waiting. All the doors are locked.

There are a few holes in the walls for him to fire his new rifle through. He will take this opportunity.

Inside is a checklist: Latecomer (how?). Brother. Amnesiac. Family Man. Management. (this is every other doppelganger in alphabetical order - Gamma's kill list),  

- Beta's rifle

- another copy of the meeting-map in Beta's apartment, 

- a sleeping bag, and a few newspapers. And, of course, Gamma.

There's a camera pointing through one of the holes at Delta's apartment door. He will see the players if they go there.

On Day 3, it goes to the diner. Then, to Epsilon's house on Day 4, an alleyway after the attack fails, and back to Epsilon's house on Day 5. Finally, on Day 6, it sits in front of the diner, where it will stay. Permanently.

Delta's Bolthole 

A basement apartment, accessed from a staircase outside. The door is barred and locked. There are no windows. Delta hasn't left since Beta tried to kill him, but now he's starting to run out of food.

He has no idea what's going on. To his memory, he is David Gardner, who had a nice responsible banking job until someone tried to shoot him. These memories are false.

On Day 2 he runs out of food, and opens the door. Gamma is waiting for him. He'll see the players if they appear, too.

Epsilon's House

Epsilon (under the name Herb Olsen) lives in a one-story house in the suburbs with his girlfriend, Jane Danner. He will not react well to the PCs appearing and asking questions, assuming they've found out he killed Alpha. Jane knows absolutely nothing - she's been in a relationship with Epsilon for six months and hasn't noticed anything about killer doppelgangers.

On day 4, Gamma will park his van atop a nearby hill and then start shooting through the windows, wounding Jane. When the police are called, he flees. The next day Gamma returns and kills them both.

The Diner

Gamma and Zeta meet here twice. It is wide open, surrounded by windows, and brightly lit.

The first meeting is in the afternoon of Day 3, when the diner is crammed. They talk (about music, mourning Beta [who they each call "our brother"], about Delta [who they just call "him"]) for 14 minutes over coffee, then split up - Gamma returns to his van and drives out into an alley to wait, while Zeta ambles to a car and drives out to a completely empty hotel room. There isn't even any furniture. He just sits on the floor for a day.

The second meeting is late at night on day 6. Zeta arrives first, and when Gamma sits down, Zeta immediately shoots him, then runs. He doesn't stop driving until the sun rises.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Isotelus Complex (Mothership? Eclipse Phase?)

Isotelus Complex is an in-progress bipartite colony on/over the Jovian moon Callisto, under the purview of the "Regional Authority" (RA), manager/holders of a variety of habitats in the area. Isotelus is largely paid for by a public/private partnership with the Yosef Industrial Concern, who offered startup capital in exchange for a substantial cut of the expected mining profits.

The Complex comprises a orbital habitat, a space elevator, and a groundside colony, currently in progress. The majority of the population lives on the orbital habitat and the surface colony. Simultaneously.

After a 6/5 vote by RA/determination (and months of discussion between RA/consensus and RA/dissent), it was decided that all working citizens of Isotelus would be uploaded and forked. Most work both in orbit (operating their baseline bodies for maintenance, shipping, loading, and administrative tasks) and groundside, loaded into chitinous, bear-sized labor forms.

These labor forms are built to survive the hostile conditions of the Callisto surface; defense against radiation, a hardened exoskeleton to maintain internal pressure, and a set of grown or implanted tools and communication devices. In optimal conditions, a labor form breathes exactly once every 29 hours.

Wide, low homes of labor forms line the northern edge of the planned colony, where construction efforts are at their peak. This subcommunity ("the Bucket", either in reference to its various craters or because "that's where you put crabs") also maintains a minor population of baselines, for supporting tasks - a variety of derogatory terms exist for this population among those in orbit.

Once a year, the orbital habitat doubles in population as the groundsiders are given their vacation hours. Office workers ride to parties on the back of themselves, play a variety of asymmetrical sports, and try not to think about what it means if your counterpart doesn't show up.

Crime, and the Other Thing

Nothing should go up or down the space elevator except for workers and parts for the surface. Of course, there is a booming trade in smuggling absolutely anything else - people creep up or down in boxes to meet their counterpart outside the allotted vacation, send (deeply confused) doctors, (barely helpful) medicine, and (stolen) organs down to provide illicit healthcare to labor bodies, hide illegal drugs in the walls of boxes, and all the other things you'd expect them to do.

Mismanagement of company-provided infrastructure, attempted escape from contracted work, assault, and all other crimes are handled not by the Regional Authority, but directly by ComSec (a franchise of a subsidiary of a subsidiary of the Yosef Industrial Concern), who are free from the upload requirements, and thus nearly all baseline and nearly all wandering the halls of the orbital station in their yellow raincoats.

They are explicitly, entirely, focused on the success of the Concern's investment, and nothing else.

The Ways This Will Go Wrong

Officially, the Regional Authority's 33-person administrative body is entirely in control of the Complex, ensuring measured, representative governance with quotaed sortition and adversarial decisionmaking. In practice, the Concern owns the police, owns the labor bodies, owns the materials used to build the station, and is starting to get nervous about exceeding the budget.

So, despite their required placement in administration, the place of the labor bodies on an inhabited Callisto is, to put it lightly, in flux. It is a common refrain in the literature of dissident groups that every single one of them is certain to have a captive bolt pistol pressed to the back of their shelled heads when the job is done.

That might not be true; it's inefficient, after all. It's more likely that the Concern will treat them like anyone else unemployed - a simple choice of "leave now, or sign another contract". The fact the labor forms couldn't fit on any ship out, don't know anyone who isn't working onboard Isotelus, and have only now paid off their fees for upload is not the Concern's problem. Sign, or leave.

The first wave of groundside colonists is coming soon. Positions from doctrinaire Marxism-Palladeism to leaving the surface purely for labor bodies are sprouting in orbit. The space elevator is hitting its maximum safe stress level with every launch. Six ComSec men spaced a dock worker. The impression contracts are ending soon and not a single person knows how the Concern plans to keep the station staffed.

And it's only going to get worse.

Sunless Horizon Beta 2.3 Release

Commissioned from Scrap Princess excited screeching I've been posting about  Sunless Horizon  for about a year, and after finally gettin...