Friday, March 31, 2023

Lanthanide Horizon - Food, Water, Shelter

Despite the lack of work on it, Sunless Horizon (now and until later, "Lanthanide Horizon" for the purposes of people not talking about Fallen London anymore) remains my favorite of my settings. Here, I put a little bit of effort into the base layer of worldbuilding - with a setting with these environmental difficulties, how do people actually Live.

Source - this is actually Lanthanide Horizon... fanart, a thing I find startling

Food and Food Preservation

    Agriculture is tenable aboard the megastructure, and its prerequisites tend to determine population patterns among those groups that use it. Soil both exists and conglomerates in dunes solidified by plant growth, and water can be collected from rain (some sections of the structure are doused with water intentionally for unknown reasons, and others are open enough to have to their own "natural" weather - however, it is best to assume this water is nonpotable until proven otherwise) or extracted through taps into intraship water lines.

    These lines often define the size and shape of a settlement and its farms - long, "linear" towns appear along high-pressure pipes that can sustain them, farms and their drainage systems are suspended in midair to make the most of vertical tubes, miles wide, that switch from drought to flood, and large, reliable taps can be siphoned off for ponds and aquaculture.

Digression - Soil Formation, yes i am really writing a paragraph about soil formation on my rpg blog and you can't stop me

    Implacable erosion means various fine metal dusts are common aboard the vessel, as are chemotrophic bacteria, which can augment these dusts into a dry, metallic soil habitable enough for plant life. These soils are moved primarily by wind, prevailing currents collecting them in specific locations where they are solidified by plant root systems. The concepts of "fine metal dusts blowing around wherever they feel like" and "soil comprised heavily of questionable heavy metal residues" may raise Worries among my readers, and they are almost certainly correct.

s o i l     


    Most groups on the worldship are at least semi-agricultural, though some are less standard than the Oasis Kingdoms or those far Houses:

    Skinborne vessels are too small and disconnected to grow food on their own, though it is common for them to supplement rations brought from their ark with onboard herb gardens, small animals, and similar - a bit for practicality, but more for pleasure.

    The Gardener Clans are sedentary hunter-gatherers - their homes in the ship's hydroponics bays not only produce enough food for them, but enough that their pillage goes unnoticed by the bays' alarms. In contrast, the Walker-Herds feed off the same bays, moving their herds between them in a grand, devouring swarm, leaving only when the complex is depleted or the alarms ring. 

    Some groups of the firstborn (those still under the eye of the megastructure's controlling AI) toil in ponds and fields, as the AI leaves them dormant and self-sufficient for future crises. When work stacks up, and the crops are abandoned, the machine promises deliveries of luxuries, hundreds of tons of grain, endless water, all as gifts for the loyal - and, of course, permanent drought, plagues, and hard vacuum for the shirkers. 


    Salt is both required for some relevant industrial processes (water treatment, manufacturing of synthetic rubber, etc.) and for biological life - as such, concentrated brine numbers among the substances piped through the megastructure, and available to be tapped. This brine is then dried to create salt or diluted and stored for food preservation.

    Outside of these taps and reservoirs, salt is difficult to find in the concentrations required for preservation, so drying, smoking, and pickling in acids are more common, despite being less effective.

    As one of the many steps in their industrialization and expansion, the Houses have invented the canning machine (though just as on Earth, not yet the can opener), letting them preserve food for extended periods without reliance on rare minerals.         


Shelter & Clothing

    When possible, buildings are repurposed from pre-existing structures - shipping containers, unused facilities, long corridors of empty closets, et cetera. When buildings have to be made, they are generally constructed of ubiquitous metal panels, dry-fit or connected with clay, siphoned industrial sealants, or even welds (as unfortunately, neither lime nor bitumen are present).

    In areas with hostile climates (after all, the central AI cares little about habitable temperatures in the 500-square mile sulfuric acid synthesizer), insulation is harvested from the ship, or ventilating holes and windows are spaced carefully to catch wind. Areas with very hostile climates, such as active furnaces, chambers filled with radioactive waste, and the insides of town-sized wire EDMs, are functionally uninhabitable.

    Clothing is generally synthetic - piles of wiring insulation painstakingly unrolled into wide strips to knit into clothing, or single mats of plastic wrapped around the body. When present, hair, plant fibers, and such are used. Metal is commonly used for jewelry, decoration, and armor.

    Access to electricity for use in heating (and the creation of fire) and light (through common, easily scavenged electric lights) is very common, but fully taking advantage of electricity requires enough layers of concepts, machines, and cultural needs that the majority live in a pre-industrial environment.

Friday, March 24, 2023

One Less Fool Play Reports

In the last post of this sort I referenced an earlier superhero game that had derailed. Here is said game, complete with perhaps too much effort in writing addenda, sectioning the most coherent part of the game from the actual ending, and going back to poke the GM to tell me hidden secrets.

And, since it ended up unpleasantly long to read a single blog post, I turned into a PDF, here.

it's hard to find one picture with the appropriate tone, but these two are close enough from opposite ends

i have been told it is intentionally like garboid 90s comics, but i don't read those

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

I Re

(another set of words in a sequence for/related to deus ex parabola's superhero GLOG. i don't even like superheroes but i keep writing this for accursed, unknowable reasons)

A city run entirely on blind optimism (and, of course, the elaboraziones just a bit south, but we don’t talk about those), I Re is on track to turn into a full-blown cyberpunk dystopia within the decade and absolutely hyped about it. A new skyscraper sprouts every week with a new company inside - in a month, they’re both gone. 

Local Newspaper - Eye Re

Everything’s a stock ticker (“How Will the Reappearance of Supervillain “Symphony of Noises” Affect Defense Investments?”) a heartwarming story of survival (“3rd Grader Raises $10,000 to Clean Cordoned Waste Site”), or about traffic.


Locus International: design and production of spaceborne industry. NASA offloaded the work of rocketry to them years ago, and the ESA did the same last year. An immense mass driver is under construction on the outskirts of I Re, entirely under their control. Conspiracies abound, especially around the fabled document Solutions for Occupation, said to contain Locus’s plans for an orbital habitat to escape climate change. While Locus is often the target of crimes (armored truck hijackings, payload smuggling, and hacking attempts, in particular), never fear; their External Affairs division has the equipment and legal cover to protect corporate interests.

Example Locus Superhuman

Telescope - 1Σ, Perceive 1, Think 1

Automatic subconscious understanding of trajectories and navigation. Maximum range for all weapons and thrown objects is tripled, and Telescope may make impossible attacks (ricocheting a bullet off the side of a building, off the sidewalk, and through the cracked window of a moving car five blocks away). Notably, Telescope doesn’t get bonuses to-hit or damage.

Telescope works exclusively as a rocketry and mathematics consultant, and any statement that Telescope (and thus, Locus International) are the cause of recent murders in opposing companies is grounds for a libel suit.

The First and the Last

Full-on paramilitary technomonarchists in the Curtis Yarvin vein, The First and the Last are an increasingly common sight on the streets of I Re. Their plans hinge on the creation of a society ruled by sovereign corporations led by a single unencumbered Executive, an objective that The First and the Last believe is key to continuing human technological progress.

Example The First and the Last Superhuman

Tatterdemalion, 1Σ, Shift, Ace

At will, can become "unnoticeable" - not in the form of becoming invisible, but in becoming a person whose presence would not raise concern - in most cases a janitor when in a public place or a pedestrian when outside.

This works on a building-scale basis, inconveniently - Tatterdemalion will remain a janitor even as he attempts to break into the Sealed Biotechnology Wing, Where We Definitely Don't Let Janitors In. Similarly, when outside he will shift from one body to another as his power attempts to determine exactly what kind of pedestrian is least interesting in this neighborhood.


A voice on the screen, with no known identity. They speak privately with those in need - “You will have no insulin. You will go to the basement of 3310 Grover Street and find twelve buckets. You will pour one down the sink at the peak of each of the next twelve hours. You will have insulin.”

Their messages are spread between those who have heard them, searching for hidden patterns, but ДPYГ has remained indecipherable. They have no ideology, no patterns, and, it seems, do not benefit from their work.

ДPYГ has no subordinates, but they do not need them. Everyone works for them when they ask. 

I Re Municipal Police Department

Hot off the heels of eight simultaneous scandals ranging from “accidentally” leaving a suspect locked in a car on a set of train tracks to “accidentally” raiding the offices of local journalists to “accidentally” running off with tens of millions in taxpayer money, the I Re police department is undergoing a revolution, with high-ranking officers fired, budgets cut, and new penalties for use of force.

We both know that’s a lie - the police budget doubled this year and they bought a tank.

Example I Re Municipal Police Department Superhuman

“The Sheriff”, 2Σ, Perceive II, Zap

While the I Re police department is the city’s largest employer of superhumans, most discussion of their hires focuses around the faceless, nameless figure of “the Sheriff” - stories of suspects paralyzed with a glance from across a city block, and a detective who can smell murders.

The I Re police will readily admit the Sheriff’s existence, but their cases and identity are hidden.

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...