Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Magic: the GLOGthering

I got back into Magic: the Gathering recently, and remembered that 5e did a massive hack job of converting MtG settings into D&D content. It doesn't let me use actual Magic cards to play the game! I have to stick to D&D's schools and spells, and can't ruin my enemy's whole day with a well-aimed Thoughtseize or Sword of Feast and Famine. So I'm taking matters into my own GLOGgy hands and writing a class that lets you do exactly that - a set of guidelines for converting printed magic cards into effects parseable in a tabletop format. Build a deck from your collection, bring it to the game, and play the actual cards.
 
This system makes more powerful characters than your average GLOG, and at some point you do essentially become a god. Once you've turned the dungeon's final boss into paste with Vintage Dredge, Affinity, or Stax, the GM has license to loose Nicol Bolas, the Eldrazi, Slivers, and/or Phyrexia on your local plane of existence.

Gatherer 
Hit Die:
d6
Starting Equipment: 10 card deck (represented by a physical item, potentially a spellbook, an elaborate tattoo, or an actual deck of cards), clothing in your colors of mana.
Skills: Gambling, pick another skill based on your magical expertise.

Level 1: 10 card deck, limit 3, Perk
Level 2: 20 card deck, limit 5, Perk, +1 Hit Die
Level 3: 40 card deck, limit 7, Perk, +1 Hit Die
Level 4: 60 card deck, limit 7, Expert Perk
Level 5+: Perk or Expert Perk or +1 Hit Die.
 
When building your initial deck, you may play 1 rare, up to 3 different unique uncommons (no duplicates), and the rest must be common cards or basic lands. GM can veto card choices - as a general rule, stay away from cards that've been banned in Eternal formats (so, Vintage/Legacy/Modern).

When your deck size expands on level-up, increase its size by adding extra copies of your cards (up to 4 of any particular card).

When you obtain experience or treasure, you may acquire a card related to the deed that won you that reward. When you acquire a new card, you can add it to your deck and displace a card in your deck into your collection, or scribe the new spell directly into your collection. You can change your deck up with cards from your collection in town, but not during adventures - changes made on the road stay made. You can always add more basic lands to your deck, but only if you've visited and gained experience in that environment. You're assumed to have already done that for the basic lands already in your deck.

Playing Magic

To wield your phenomenal magic, you may draw on your power and draw a hand of cards from your deck. On your turn, you may take actions to play cards from your hand. Playing a card takes an action, activating an ability takes an action, commanding a creature takes an action. You can only play one land per turn unless a card says otherwise. Creatures can only be commanded once per turn. A command consists of a move and/or an attack - if it attacks, it's tapped. As a reaction to an attack that targets you, you can direct your untapped creatures to block it if they're adjacent to you or between you and the attack. The attack automatically hits them and they take the damage.

Your limit determines the maximum number of lands you may have in play, the maximum number of nonland permanents you may have in play, and both your maximum and starting hand size. It starts at 3 for 1st level Gatherers, and when you play a card past your limit, you must sacrifice a card in play to get back down to your limit. Tokens count towards your limit.

At the end of a dungeon turn (approximately 10 minutes), your power fades. Shuffle your hand back into your deck, and put all permanents you control into your graveyard. Your graveyard and exiled cards only get shuffled back in after a long rest - you don't lose when you try to draw from an empty library, but when you get decked, you'll be easy prey until you rest. If you draw on your power when you aren't in immediate danger, you can arbitrarily cast spells from your deck, but these spells will still go to your graveyard.
 
Converting Cards
Creatures have Hit Dice equal to to their toughness and AC equal to 8+toughness. Damage dealt or life lost is converted to damage dice: 1 = 1d4, 2 = 1d6, 3 = 1d8, 4 = 1d10, 5 = 1d12, 6 = 2d6, 7 = 2d8, 8 = 2d10, 9 = 2d12, etc - upgrade the damage die size for every point of power, every time you get to d12, return to d6 and add an extra die. Creatures can't be commanded on the same turn they're summoned. Move is whatever makes sense based on the creature, and abilities are ruled by the GM.

Some conversions of common keywords:
Flying, Literally just flies.
Trample. Attacks everything it moves over; splits damage between them.
Vigilance. Doesn't tap to attack.
Lifelink. Heals itself equal to the amount of damage it deals.
Deathtouch. Forces anyone damaged by it to save vs. dying (use your save DC).
Hexproof. Can't be directly targeted by enemy spells.
Haste. Can be commanded on the same turn it's summoned. Double its move.
First strike. At the start of the round, you may spend an action to command it.
Double strike. At the start of the round, you may spend an action to command it. May be commanded twice per round.
Reach. Can attack/block things in the air from the ground.
Menace. Can attack two creatures within range at once; splits damage equally between them.
Flash. You can save an action to cast this at any time.
Unblockable. Can't be attacked directly in mundane ways except by creatures it's attacked this turn.
Defender. Can't attack.
Prowess. Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
 
Noncreature spells are ruled based on the GM's interpretation of their effects. All destructive effects besides damage (destroy, exile, counter, mind-controlling effects, etc) require a save; Save DCs are 5 times the caster's level; capped at 20. Damaging spells require an attack roll.
 
Destroy effects set the target to 0 HP. Exile effects remove the target from existence until your power fades. Counterspells let you counter an action; countering a creature lets you counter non-attack actions, countering noncreature spells let you counter attacks. Spells that target players can only target living beings with minds, spells that target creatures can target anything in the game world. If a spell cares about the color of its target, there are ample examples of the colors of various fantasy beings in the vast library of extant Magic cards.
 
Lifegain and life payment applies to you in the same numbers it does on the card; any life over your starting HP disappears when your power fades.
 
For effects that require other characters who don't use this system to pay mana (such as Propaganda or Mana Leak), assume they have access to mana equal to twice their Hit Dice, and it can be of any colors they are.
 
Effects that require other characters to have cards (in their hand, in their deck, etc) treat specific actions that NPC can take as different cards. Discarding a card may involve dropping a weapon, forgetting a spell, or finding themselves unable to move or speak for a turn. Mill effects may involve the NPC forgetting recent memories or skills.
 
Effects that refer to a creature's controller hit the nearest allied creature.
 
You can enchant and equip yourself and other characters.
 
Effects that manipulate your library, hand, creatures' stats, abilities, graveyard, etc. do not have to be changed for this to work. All these still exist within the context of your character's powers.

Lands represent connections to various places you've been. You can draw on their power for mana, or for other abilities based on their characteristics - rule their other abilities based on the above guidelines.
 
Perks
Landfall
. Gain an extra action each turn to play lands and +1 to your land limit (you can still only play 1 land per turn unless otherwise specified).
Battlecry. Gain an extra action each turn for casting a creature spell or commanding a creature.
Prowess. Gain an extra action for casting noncreature spells or activating abilities and +1 to your hand limit.
Metalcraft. Artifacts you control count towards a new artifact limit rather than your nonland permanent limit.
Constellation. Enchantments you control count towards a new enchantment limit rather than your nonland permanent limit.
Swarm. Tokens you control count towards a new token limit rather than your nonland permanent limit.
Healer. Whenever you gain life, you may heal a creature or another character for that much instead.
Signature Spell. Begin each game with a noncreature spell from your deck of converted mana cost level or less in your command zone. You may cast it from your command zone at any time, and return it to your command zone from your graveyard after a short rest. You may change your signature spell upon discovering a new spell or in town.
Companion. Begin each game with a creature from your deck of converted mana cost level or less in your command zone. You may cast it from your command zone at any time, and it returns to your command zone from your graveyard after a short rest. You may change your companion creature upon discovering a new creature or in town.
Outlast. When your power fades, you may choose a noncreature spell or effect to keep active until the next short rest or when you next draw upon your power.
Recover. When your power fades, you may choose up to level cards in your hand, and begin with them in your hand next time you draw upon your power.
Scavenger. On a short rest, you may shuffle level cards of your choice from your graveyard into your library for each time you've taken this perk.
Champion. Step up the size of your hit dice. You cost 1 less generic mana to attach Auras or Equipment to.
Limited. You may play with the deck size of a level below you (above level 4, you may play with a 40-card deck, but must forego all additional Expert perks gained when you do so).
Mastery. You may upgrade an uncommon in your deck to a rare with a similar effect and color, or a rare in your deck to a mythic rare. GM determines similarity.
Lord of [Type]. Choose a creature type when you take this perk. You may command all creatures you control of that type with a single action.
Conspirator. Once per day for each time you've taken this perk, when you draw upon your power, you may do so with a Conspiracy in your command zone.
Graft. Choose a card in your deck. When you've drawn upon your power, you may put a copy of that card into your graveyard, and gain one of its keyword abilities until your power fades.
Cavalier. When you summon a creature, you may mount and ride it as part of the summoning. When you move, you may have your mount move instead, even if you've already commanded it this turn.
Dash. Once per combat, you may count yourself moving as entering the battlefield for purposes of abilities that trigger whenever a creature enters the battlefield. You may count yourself attacking for abilities that trigger whenever a creature attacks.

If you would be returned to your own hand, you're knocked prone and can't take actions besides crawling around until you stand up. If you would be sacrificed or otherwise die, you're reduced to 0 hit points, no save. If you would be exiled, you blink out of existence, and return when the effect specifies or when your power fades.

Permanents in the command zone are represented by being nearby your character; permanents in the command zone cost mana to pull into battle - whether to draw and charge a magic sword, or to sway an ally to fight at your command.

Expert Perks
Massive Army
. You have no limit for controlling creatures, may spend one action to cast any number of creature spells, and may spend one action to command all creatures you control at once. Requires any two of Lord of [X], Battlecry, Swarm.
Unlimited Power. You have no limit for controlling noncreature permanents, including lands. Requires any two of Metalcraft, Constellation, Landfall, Swarm.
Spellstorm. You may spend one action to cast any number of noncreature spells (you still pay all costs for the spells). Requires Prowess.
Permanence. The effects of your noncreature spells don't dissipate until a long rest. Requires Outlast.
Commander. You can play a 40-life, 100-card singleton Commander deck; your companion creature can be any legendary creature. Requires Companion and enough cards in your collection to build a commander deck.
Epic. Once each turn, you may cast a copy of your signature spell from the command zone. You still pay all costs for it. Requires Signature Spell.
Eternal. At the end of each short rest, shuffle your graveyard back into your deck. Exiled cards remain in exile until your next long rest. Requires Scavenger.
Regenerator. At the end of your turn, you may have each of your damaged creatures regain HP equal to their toughness. Requires Healer.
Devotion. Add up to four copies of a legendary creature of your choice to your deck. Requires Mastery.
Replicate. Choose a card. You may have any number of that card in your deck.
Deckmaster. Add a copy of a banned card to your deck.
Latent Spark. A planeswalker takes notice of you. Add up to four copies of a planeswalker card to your deck. They eagerly await the awakening of your spark, so you can aid them on their travels through the multiverse. Activating a planeswalker's loyalty ability does not take an action - but calling upon planeswalking friends invites dangers from the rest of the Multiverse...
by Blues-Design


Thursday, April 8, 2021

GLΔG: Extra Wizard Templates

Δ templates are an interesting GLOG phenomenon that I've wanted to work with for a while now. Caput Caprae describes them here as features earned through a diagetic achievement - rather than earning enough XP to make it to the next level, your character must prove their mettle through performing specific feats.
 
These templates below are additions to deus ex parabola's excellent delta-template wizards. Read their post first; this builds off of their work. The numbers in parentheses are the template level; you need a level 1 template to be able to earn level 2 templates, and a level 2 template to earn level-3 templates. Power, greater power, and supreme power are level 0, 2, and 3 templates respectively (refer to deus's post). All wizards begin their magical endeavors by finding an object of Power, whether a dread grimoire, an arcane crystal, a contract with an entity, or anything else suitably dangerous to both their moral compass and immortal soul.

(1) Armor
    Wear a set of full-plate armor for a month. If you remove it, even to sleep or to bathe, you must start again.
    While you close your eyes and hold your breath, you are treated as if you are wearing plate armor until you open your eyes, breathe, or are touched skin-to-skin.
    With greater power, you can grant this protection to someone else within line of sight (at time of closing your eyes) instead of yourself. With supreme power, you can grant this protection to up to a dozen people.
 
(1) Familiar
Feed a piece of your body to a creature and sleep beside it each night for a month. If the creature dies or leaves you, start again.
The familiar becomes as intelligent as you, and you learn each others' languages. Any harm inflicted to the one of you is inflicted proportionally on the other as well; its aging slows to match yours.
With greater power you can see through its eyes when you close yours, and direct its body when you sleep. With supreme power you may change your familiar's size up to ten times in either direction at will.

(1) Hold
    Stand perfectly still for a full day. If you are moved or take any action more significant than a breath, you must start again.
    While you make eye contact with someone or something, you may prevent them from moving.
    With greater power, you can force them to mimic the moves you make (to the best of its ability).

(1) Illusion
    Dissect a sensory organ while still attached to a living creature and make meticulous notes. If you lose these notes, start again.
    You can create lifelike illusions within line of sight that fool the senses connected to the organs of the types of creature you've dissected (dissecting a human eye lets you fool the human eye, dissecting a cat's tongue lets you fool a cat's tongue, etc). These illusions are dispelled as soon as you are no longer within line of sight, or by another magician with power over illusions.
    With greater power, these illusions can persist for a year and a day. With supreme power, these illusions can persist indefinitely.

(1) Scrying
    Live on the highest floor of a tower for a month without descending. If you descend even one floor during this month, if the tower is destroyed, or if someone else sets foot on that floor of the tower, you must start again.
    When you close your eyes, you may observe the world as if you were at the top of that tower on a cloudless night with a full moon.
    With greater power, your scrying-sight is as that of a hawk's, and you can detect magic by sight. With supreme power, you may act as if you were at the top of that tower, and wield your powers within your scrying-sight.

(1) Summoning
    Learn a being's true name and inscribe it on your object of Power in your own blood. These are often recorded in ancient grimoires, on other magicians' objects of Power, and without fail the inside of the being's skull. If their true name is removed from your object of Power, or if they learn your true name, you lose all power over them.
    By inscribing a circle in your own blood and speaking the true name aloud three times, you may summon the being into that circle. It will return to whence it came once the circle is broken.
    With greater power, whenever you speak its true name, you can cause it immense pain or pleasure.

(2) Apprenticeship
    Take on a hapless fool with no other prospects in life and no magical aptitude of their own as an apprentice. Provide them with an appropriate object of Power, and induct them into the ways of wizardry. If they ever gain greater power (or supreme power), strike out on their own, or strike at you in anger, you must start again.
    Whenever an apprentice of yours gains a power, you gain it as well for as long as they are your apprentice.
    With greater power, you may take on multiple apprentices, and they cannot strike at you in anger without forfeiting their own magical abilities. With supreme power, your apprentices may gain greater power and take on apprentices of their own without leaving the fold. You gain access to all powers learned by your apprentices' apprentices as well.

(2) Enchantment
    Learn the blacksmith's art from a master smith, living under their tutelage for a year and a day. Once you have completed your training, if they ever smith another item, they gain this template and you lose it.
    Items that you smith function twice as well as their mundane counterparts; lifting double the weight, moving double the speed, inflicting wounds twice as terrible, preventing twice the bodily harm.
    With greater power, invert these items' bonuses when wielded against you (double damage becomes half damage). With supreme power, these items can be up to five times as powerful.

(2) Necromancy
    Be buried alive, and convince others of your demise. If all those convinced of your death learn the truth of the matter, you must do this again.
    With access to a corpse with an intact skull, dead within the last year and a day (though it need not be humanoid), you may raise it as a walking corpse or as a spirit. Walking corpses carry out your bidding, and can obey simple instructions of three words or less. Spirits can be spoken with as they were in life, but require a sacrifice in order to speak with more than once. These undead are dispelled once their skulls are destroyed, at your bidding, or once they are older than a year and a day. You can raise as many undead as there are living people who believe you are dead.
    With greater power, you can raise dead deceased any amount of time ago, and they can follow a short phrase of instructions. With supreme power, you may raise a spirit to inhabit its corpse, and so they will obey instructions as complex as they could in life, and will last eternally unless otherwise damaged.

(2) Precognition
    Blind and deafen yourself for a month. If you see or hear anything before the month ends, you must start again.
    Write down a course of action and sleep with it beside you. When you sleep, you can see an incomplete but accurate account of what would occur within the next day if you take that action.
    With greater power, the time span extends to a month, and you can ask about the actions of other individuals as well. With supreme power, the time span extends to a year, and you can ask about the actions of organizations and nations.

(3) Life Eternal
    Construct a dungeon and place your object of Power at its heart. If your object of power is removed, you must return it to the heart of the dungeon or start again with a new dungeon.
    You cannot die of disease, old age, or mundane accident. You retain access to the magic granted by your object of Power while it remains at the heart of your dungeon.

(3) Mind Control
    Drive one person mad with desire, another mad with hate, another mad with grief, another mad with ecstasy, another mad with vanity, and another mad with duty. Take meticulous notes. If you lose these notes, start again.
    When you speak, you cannot be ignored by anyone within earshot, and one-word instructions will be followed reflexively until the person actively tries to stop themself (with a successful save).
    With greater power, your instructions can be up to a sentence long, and each time someone follows one of your instructions willingly, breaking free of your control the next time will requires an additional save. With supreme power, anything with a mind is susceptible to your influence (including but not limited to animals and spirits), and your control can be conveyed through the written word.

(3) Weather
    Visit and spend a month recording detailed notes regarding each of the highest peak you know of, the hottest desert you know of, the stormiest sea you know of, and the coldest glacier you know of. If you lose these notes, start again.
    By marking out a regular shape with pure-silver effigies of your object of Power (each will cost about as much as equipping a knight in full plate and warhorse), you can create and dispel winds and clouds within that shape in realms lower than the peak, colder than the desert, calmer than that sea, and warmer than that glacier. All weather effects dissipate if an effigy is moved; however, the effigies cannot be moved or harmed by weather created this way.
    With greater power, you can create and dispel storms of types common to the region. With supreme power, you can cause storms of types unheard of in the region, as well as catastrophic weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, or meteor impacts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Factions in the Survival Paradigm



GATES Market Index EKAA +12, ASNZ -15, SWAI +59, QZXX -132, GEM -1750 ACTIVE CAT2+ KAIJU USA GIGANT SURGE (CAT4 Houston TX), STRIKER CENTIPEDE (CAT2 Kansas City MI), WYRM EXILE (CAT3 Portland OR), HAMMER EMERGENT (CAT4 San Diego CA)
 
NEW YORK, 2PM EST (BREAKING) Renegade pilots allegedly stand down during dual Category-4 events GIGANT SURGE and HAMMER EMERGENT as kaiju attempt to breach prototype General Engineering Materials (GEM -1750) bunkers. GEM spokespeople are reportedly requesting TacNet (QZXX -132) provide identifying information for all pilots refusing to engage, citing "attempted stock manipulation" on the eve of the official rollout of GEM's new CONDOR armored real estate project - of which the San Diego and Houston bunkers were the flagship models.
 
- - - 

In any city under the Survival Paradigm, there are always two simultaneous crises. One is the obvious - kaiju. Each worse than the last, always barely outscraping your response capacity in some novel and horrible way. The toll is always manageable (for those in power) and devastating (for you).

The other crisis is the ever-hungry jaws of disaster capital, which in this world of perpetual disaster has become the primary financial engine of the planet. Investors always have a scheme, and they aren't just looking to make pennies on the dollar here - they're playing for all the marbles. If they're a big player, they want to kneecap another big player and become even bigger. If they're small-time, they want this plan to break them into the big time. And they're willing to break anything in their way - the planet; the city; your friends; you.

GMs should have two simultaneous and intertwined plots going on. One involves the kaiju and their escalating threat; perhaps a new development to protect the city, or a way to make the kaiju think twice about next time. The other involves the hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, and megacorporate interests playing with the city like a connect-four board.
 
This isn't a game about shadowy conspiracies like SEELE or the Illuminati controlling the world from behind the scenes. While the specific details of any corporate plan will be obscure, financially obtuse, and most certainly difficult to stop, the powers that be rely on sheer scale to protect themselves - not secrecy. The people destroying the world have names, addresses, Twitter accounts, and public IPOs. And they all hate each other, but not enough to stop punching the little guys (you) in the process.
 
All the information about their schemes is public, especially if you know where to look. Journalists have made careers investigating these stories, then lost their careers and lives breaking these stories. Or, more often, they've kept their careers, and no one's cared. Nestle keeps on using child slaves, Coca-Cola keeps on hiring death squads to murder dissidents, everyone and their mother has a tax shelter on a private island, and you add a few more atrocities to what you know about the world. There's no New World Order. There's the same awful world order as always, just spinning closer to destruction than ever before, while a handful of fuckers loudly flaunt how rich they've gotten by destroying it.
 
by Eddie Mendoza

GATES Market Index EKAA +10, ASNZ -12, SWAI +63, QZXX -251, GEM -2931 ACTIVE CAT2+ KAIJU USA STRIKER CENTIPEDE (CAT2/Kansas City MI), WYRM EXILE (CAT3/Portland OR), ANGEL SIEGE (CAT2/Miami FL)
 
HOUSTON, 2:30PM CST GIGANT SURGE event resolved (estimated casualties 9000).

SAN DIEGO,  3:45PM PST HAMMER EMERGENT event resolved (estimated casualties 15000).

NEW YORK, 6:45PM EST (UPDATE) Both prototype luxury CONDOR bunkers have been destroyed, after which point pilots on the ground handily dispatched both kaiju with minimal casualties. Collaboration between pilots has been alleged by both GEM and TacNet, the latter of whom has released all personal information on pilots connected to their command network during the engagements to the SEC under the "GameStop Law" of 2021 that allows retaliatory action by endangered corporations on charges of suspected collective stock manipulation. Commensurate federal investigations have been opened... (DEVELOPING)
 
- - -
 
The Survival Paradigm is an international treaty, signed in 202X as a response to the rapidly escalating threat of kaiju attacks. It formally acts as a statement of intent to maintain the existence of humanity as a species and organized global civilization, declaring a global state of emergency and ceasefire on all human wars until the cessation of the Kaiju Crisis. To this end, it establishes a variety of international councils to manage resources and ensure cooperation of various nation-state and corporate actors.
 
Paradigm Coordination Council
Coordination is the main body of the Survival Paradigm, as a 15-member security council of major stakeholders in global defense. Five seats are permanently held by nation-states, representing almost 4 billion people worldwide - the United States of America, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of India, the Federative Republic of Brazil, and a composite delegation representing the European Union as a single actor. Five more are permanently reserved for leading corporations in the mechtech sector; while these initially were rotating seats, they have stabilized within the past decade to be held by the GATES: General Engineering Materials, Aerospace Northern, TacNet, Eka, and Stormwatch. The final five seats are yearly rotating seats held by either nation-states or corporations, recently trending towards a 2/3 split.
 
The Coordination Council chooses priorities for research and tactical response, declares regional and continental states of heightened emergency for high-category kaiju, and intercedes in humanitarian crises to resolve them to the benefit of the Paradigm. Deployment of paranuclear weapons must be authorized by the PCC, due to their vast collateral damage costs and unknown effects on the environment, collective subconscious, and/or fabric of reality.
 
Warmer World, Colder War (email newsletter, 202X)
...rumors persist that the Russian Federation was cut out of the PCC's permanent seats by the demand of the United States, who refused to sign onto the Paradigm unless they crippled the political power of their longtime rival...

Minimum Viable Path to GATEhood? (excerpt from Financial Times article, 203X)
...corporations constantly vie for the prestige and power of becoming the "Sixth GATE", and startup pitches often include their path to GATEhood through gaining a seat on the PCC...

Paradigm Development Council 
Development is the research and finance arm of the Paradigm. Nation-state signatories pay tithes into a collective Paradigm defense fund, which is then distributed by grants to a variety of research conglomerates and promising mechtech corporations. After the dissolution or repurposing of global militaries, the PDC gained access to the military budgets of its signatory nations - and through the PDC, so did big business.
 
The PDC is the primary source of income for the GATES and the rest of the mechtech sector. While all have diversified into some combination of national and municipal defense contracts, consumer products, corporate partnerships, and land rents, PDC funds are the kingmakers of the corporate world. As such, council membership is fully infested with lobbyists performing regulatory capture on the largest scale. Boondoggles and moonshots can be fully funded in a matter of days, if you just know the right people and convince the giant pots of money that your project will be the one that can raise their bottom line.
 
Decades After Dissolution, NATO Remains Global Powerhouse (excerpt from Huffington Post article, 203X)
...despite this, it does not go unnoticed that 4 of the 5 GATES are North American, and the 5th (GEM) is based in the EU. This gives the former NATO countries outsize power in the Paradigm, and the accompanying preferential response capabilities and resource distribution. The interests of NATO remain the interests of global capital...
 
Public-Private Partnerships: Public Protection or Protection Rackets? (excerpt from political science undergraduate thesis paper, class of 202X)
...the United States, Canada, UK, and Australia all operate under the TacNet model of distributed kaiju defense. This model - full privatization - is incredibly rare in the rest of the world. China and Russia (among others) relegate kaiju defense to their national militaries, deploying within conventional command hierarchies and providing salaries and benefits to their pilots. The European Union, India, and Brazil follow a combined-arms approach, with militaries hiring private mech contractors to execute anti-kaiju operations within a particular region or city. In this essay I will...
 
Paradigm Adjudication Council
Adjudication was established as a judicial body for mediating conflict between governments and corporations without resorting to wasteful military engagements. Low-level disputes are mediated through regional judiciaries, drawing legal personnel from existing systems. Higher-level disputes are settled through courts with between three and nine judges.

When a dispute cannot be settled out of court and judges believe that a decision in favor of either party will jeopardize the stability and impartiality of Adjudication, they have reintroduced the controversial practice of trial by combat. Each party nominates a mech pilot to fight in their stead, and the first to forcibly deactivate their opponent in the arena is declared victorious and given preferential terms by the judges. These gladiatorial trials have become high entertainment - prosecutors and defenders on the international circuit are equally experts in the field of law and the field of battle. Because these conflicts are between nations and corporations, they do not lack for funding, and trials-by-combat are as often expos for new mechtech as they are attempts to enforce one's will on the international scene.

Imperial Legacies and the Truth About "Pirates" (clipping from anarchist zine)
While all human wars are under "indefinite ceasefire", imperial paramilitary operations continue as private military contractors make their reputations and fortunes protecting supply lines. Hired ostensibly to prevent kaiju interference and protect local population centers, they don't discriminate between kaiju and human "pirates" - and often deem kaiju attacks too dangerous for their pilots, forcing underequipped and desperate local fireteams into the meat grinder in their stead.
 
The terminology of "pirates" is also a misnomer - these supply lines are just the most recent evolution of extractive plunder from the colonies to the imperial core, and anyone striking back against the continued imperial looting of already-impoverished nations are executed for Paradigm violations with extreme prejudice...

Suited Up: Inside the Lives of the Modern Gladiators (excerpt from dust jacket)
...contains exclusive interviews with both the prosecution and the surviving family members of the defense in the infamous VOID CHIMERA reparations trial, chronicling the extensive blackmail, bribery, and sabotage on both sides leading up to the climactic confrontation and its interruption by the Category-4 kaiju FUSION RIPPER...

by Vu Hoang Hiep



GATES Market Index EKAA +663, ASNZ -10, SWAI +92, QZXX [TRADING FROZEN], GEM [TRADING FROZEN] ACTIVE CAT2+ KAIJU USA ANGEL SIEGE (CAT2/Miami FL), VECTOR ARTIFICE (CAT2/Anchorage AK)
 
NEW YORK, 8:00PM EST (UPDATE) Trading in both TacNet and GEM stock has been frozen to "preserve the integrity of public defense". CEOs of all five GATES have given statements to the media in full support of maximum federal penalties for all pilots who allegedly "abandoned their duties as defenders of the American people". GEM has suspended its CONDOR project pending the results of its subsequent lawsuits. TacNet has deactivated all suspected collaborating pilots' TacNet accounts, and is reportedly hiring high-profile private contractors from firms like Eka (EKAA, +663) to supplement tactical demands in relevant metropolitan areas. Eka is notable for its highly polished social media presence, eccentric billionaire founder Jan Tomas, and high-collateral-damage combat record.
 
- - -

To populate a city with factions for a Survival Paradigm campaign, roll 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, and 1d20 on the following table. If you roll the same faction twice, there's an internal conflict boiling over where people are forced to take sides - whether between different branches, feuding executives, or the workers and management. Then, roll 2 Relations for each faction to see who they're interacting with and what they're trying to do.
 
If two factions are related to each other in seemingly conflicting ways, remember that the factions are made of lots of people and none have perfect information on the other's goals. Wheels within wheels ceaselessly turn, grinding us all to dust. If one faction rolls that it's trying to undermine or defraud itself, there's internal conflict - someone is trying to pull a fast one on their own people.

Factions (d20)
1. General Engineering Materials (GEM). Controls entry-level mech fabrication, Eschaton core mass production, kaiju corpse harvesting and processing, TacNet's pilot supply contracts. Constructs millions of modular mech chassis a year. Facilities include factories, kaiju processing plants, prototype subscription-service bunkers. Wants to expand into real-estate - specifically launch bays and bunker construction - to vertically integrate all infrastructure in the urban battle space.
 
2. Aerospace Northern. Formerly Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop; forced to merge after Paradigm forced radical reinvestment from NATO militaries into mech sector. Controls advanced mechtech development, military holdover patents and facilities, elite mercenary supply contracts. Focuses on bleeding-edge prototype tech, including paranuclear weapons, Wants to be as big as it was when it was the primary contractor for the United States military, instead of just one of five.
 
3. TacNet. "Uber for mech pilots". Controls the app, uses vast profits to contract GEM for mech manufacturing and Stormwatch for algorithmic kaiju event prediction. Vital nexus of capital in the mechtech sector, and the de-facto tactical coordinator in all United States combat zones. Wants the status quo to stay stable as long as possible, actively kneecaps corporations trying to rise to the GATES. Has heavily-fortified tactical command bunkers in all major metropolitan areas, and invests in launch bays for rapid response (renting a berth isn't cheap).
 
4. Eka. Mercenary company turned bespoke mech manufacturer, media darling with incredible PR department and army of online stans. Deploys their own fireteams to prove their proprietary "kaiju-inspired" tech in real combat conditions; high-casuality engagements are nevertheless flashy and impressive tech demos. Jan Tomas, controversial and high-profile entrepreneur founder, makes constant media appearances to keep Eka in the media - made his initial fortune in the crash after the first kaiju emergences. Isn't profitable; kept afloat by vast VC streams and needs those flows to remain intact.
 
5. Stormwatch. Controls the largest server clusters in the world, manages orbital infrastructure. Provides hosting for TacNet, develops/deploys/operates the advance kaiju warning satellite network, space launch systems, AI predictive systems, paranuclear orbital weapons platforms. All this tech comes out of their R&D wing, STAR Group (STormwatch Advanced Research). Funnel promising student projects directly from university campuses into STAR, providing great benefits and vast resources in exchange for exclusive rights.
 
6. Municipal government. In the end, it always comes back to the city. State capacity handles everything it's too difficult or not glamorous enough to privatize; like roads and sewer systems and power lines. Depending on who's in power, they might be trying to sell off even the unprofitable parts, or trying to claw back a little of the capacity their predecessors divested in order to provide for the citizenry. Either way, the mayor's office is a vital chokepoint for anyone trying to ensure corporate dominance - with the stroke of a pen, they can give you the keys to the city, and send your rivals packing.
 
7. Startup. Galvanized by low interest rates, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, and the PDC pour trillions of dollars into every idea that seems vaguely promising or sounds good on paper. The key buzzwords to make a cool billion change every few months, and the business plans seem to only get stranger over time. Attitude and aesthetic are what gets a startup off the ground, but don't make profit - not that any of their founders seem to understand.
 
8. Hedge fund. These piles of money exist only to grow as quickly as possible. Their managers make shrewd investments in companies they believe are the future - but are quick to hang them out to dry if it becomes apparent their money will be wasted. Slick, greasy, willing to do anything to keep their investments safe and their dividends flowing in. It's not like anyone will regulate them for making an end-run around such petty things as "legality" - they have the money to field the best corporate lawyers (and Adjudication gladiators) available.
 
9. Real estate magnate. Land is the ultimate source of capital. Everyone needs to sleep somewhere; every corporation needs physical space for factories and server farms and offices; every government needs space for bureaucrats. The Kaiju Era has made real estate a riskier proposition, what with giant monsters shredding entire neighborhoods, but this just means that landlords have grown more cutthroat and brutal. Rents on shielded kaiju-safe condos with integrated bunkers are sky-high, and the slums that grow around devastated areas are the only option for anyone who's lost their home to a kaiju - a monopoly that slumlords are more than happy to exploit.
 
10. Local politician. Every political party has a political opponent, whether the established Party-in-Opposition or a political outsider rising on the strength of their demagoguery. Opposition politicians have an agenda, don't like the way things are being run, and are willing to make waves to get their way - especially if they have an extensive war chest from interested parties.
 
11. Mercenary company. There's strength in numbers. The alternative to TacNet, mercenary pilots are contracted by states and corporations with money to burn and hard targets that need an extra layer of defense. PMCs differ in their symbology, tactics, tolerance for collateral damage, and PR history - but if a company wants to survive, they need a certain ruthlessness that refuses to consider humanitarian goals when they conflict with their mission.
 
12. Criminal syndicate. Deprivation creates a demand for smuggling; hard times create a demand for illicit substances; a dangerous world creates an opening for protection rackets. Syndicates crop up everywhere, operating under the radar with impunity in a world that has much bigger fish to fry. They might be less exploitative, on net, than the corporations. They might follow some sort of code. There's a million reasons to get involved with criminals - but it always paints a target on your back, and there's no honor among thieves.
 
13. Kaiju Responders' Union. Unionized with the air line pilots association, KRU-ALPA (under the AFL-CIO) is the premier mech pilot union in the states. Naturally, TacNet hates them, as do the rest of the GATES and their regulatory capture stranglehold on mechtech development and production. Despite the vast array of unstoppable forces deployed against them both on and off the battlefield, they've won some important concessions: mandatory corp-funded search and recovery services for KRU-registered pilots after battles, free chassis repairs to original specs, and corporate coverage of 50% of pilot funeral expenses.
 
Most pilots aren't KRU. They've been scared out of it by TacNet's marketing and higher bounties for non-union pilots, or they're gunning for GATES sponsorships (few make it, but those who do are rock stars), or they've joined a mercenary corp for lucrative state contracts. KRU also tends to get the brunt of media blame when ops go very, very wrong.
 
14. Military remnants. The dissolution of military apparatuses under the Paradigm and mass reallocation of state/manufacturing capacity to kaiju defense left a whole lot of material and disgruntled soldiers behind. While many retrained to become mech pilots or cops, military bases are covered in old hardware that still works just fine. Whether arms dealers, local mercenaries, criminal syndicates in their own right, or political extremists demanding a return to the good old pre-Paradigm days of imperial conquest and overseas slaughter, ex-military troops are a wild card searching for a home in a world that deems them obsolete.
 
15. Paradigm Coordination Council. Coordination steps in when an area is under increasing kaiju threat; sending military officials to work with local stakeholders and prepare a large-scale defense plan that ensures the threat is neutralized with minimal damage to Paradigm signatories. Signatories include: corporations and governments. Notable exclusions: people. High-risk neighborhoods are designated "ablative buffer zones", entire fireteams of pilots are thrown at the threat as acceptable casualties for reconnaissance missions, the brutal utilitarian calculus of necropolitics deems some lives to matter and some to not. Property is protected. You are not. And the threat is approaching regardless.
 
16. Paradigm Development Council. Development typically acts on an international scale, but local municipalities are useful testbeds for new initiatives and technology. If there's a big contract in the offering, they often turn cities into free-enterprise zones where each bidding corporation tries their hand at a proof-of-concept pilot program for several months. Whoever's most effective gets the contract - and everyone who gets shafted has to live with it.
 
17. Paradigm Adjudication Council. They have a presence everywhere there's likely to be skirmishes between corporate and state interests. While local branches try to stay under the radar, every so often a major case emerges that everyone knows will end in trial by combat. When the media starts baying for blood, they ramp up the coverage, and the trial's progress becomes a daily news update.
 
18. Rapture Futures, LLC. A research group approaching the current eschaton from a divinity studies perspective. Surprisingly widespread, their research projects investigate the strange side-effects of the Eschaton Core - and while they were founded by highly conservative think-tanks, recent sweeping changes in leadership have opened up opportunities for progressive researchers to make waves. Notably not funded by the PDC, but well-funded regardless.
 
19. University. The Kaiju Era has opened up a universe of questions, and entire fields of science are mutating to approach them. Department heads and enterprising graduate students can get a lot of money if they play their cards right, and sometimes they ask the right questions to get world-shaking answers. Corporations are always scouting for the best-and-brightest, and students often end up taking on pilot gigs on the side to make rent.
 
20. Cult. Between the Kaiju Era Neo-Gnostics, the Church of the Sainted Pilot, kaiju worshippers, the Techno-Rationalists, prosperity gospel evangelists, Marxist-Calvinists, and devotees of the American civil religion (praise the Checks and the Balances and the Commander in Chief!), there's a million burgeoning sects scraping the symbolism of these endless end-times for believers and tithes. They might be trying to build a new world, or might just prophesize the end of this one - but they have a way of growing and metastasizing and bubbling over at the worst possible moment.
 
Relations (d10)
1. Undercutting...
2. Pushing ... out of the area
3. Contracted by...
4. Advertising against...
5. Trying to acquire...
6. Allied with...
7. Blackmailing...
8. Defrauding...
9. Bribing...
10. Funding...

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Habitats and Factions in Deep Space Bitches

In Deep Space Bitches, the world you put your players in is as important as the players themselves. This isn't a game about thousands of years of history or the grand wars that shift power from empire to empire - rather, it's about what the galaxy looks like to everyone who's caught in the middle. The scope and detail of the game world should be on the order of individual planets, space stations, and star systems; grand galactic maps are out of scope (no matter how fun they are to draw).


Habitats are self-contained structures built to house a permanent sapient presence. They range from small bubble-domes on far-flung planets, to orbital port stations, to vast asteroid field refinery-cities, to entire megalopoli in the imperial core. Each habitat is constructed for a reason - it's far easier to expand an existing hab than set up an entirely new one. Whatever its purpose, there will be various factions who have different, typically conflicting demands, and exploited workers that make it function (whether they like it or not).
 
Very few habitats are fully self-sustaining. The infrastructure necessary to keep a population alive and healthy is complex, and while processes like radiation shielding and oxygen recycling are solved problems, there are always resources that a small habitat has to import in order to keep its people in working condition. While habitats have largely been standardized for ease of deployment and expansion, each faces unique material challenges based on its location - whether environmental, logistical, or political.

Keep the following in mind as you design a habitat for Deep Space Bitches, as players should be able to interact with the systems that undergird life in the distant future in order to understand how they're exploitative and how they can be changed.
 
Why was this habitat built here? Who controls it?
Fungal radiation shielding, gravity plating, fusion reactors, and molecular recyclers allow livable habitats to be constructed virtually anywhere in a star system. This doesn't mean they're easy to assemble, and whoever builds them always expects a return on investment. Typically this means they're sponsored by an empire or a megacorporation, in response to some material or strategic necessity for another nearby population. A resource is discovered, or a phenomenon must be observed, or a tactically vital jump point needs to be claimed for the glory of the nation - and the bidding wars begin.
 
Contractors compete for the right to construct the habitat (and thereby get a stake in the finished product), it goes to the lowest bidder, and they ship in workers and supplies to begin construction. A few years later (depending on the size of the hab, the stability of the economy, any competing interests), something somewhat resembling the original plans is in place, ready to exploit resources and win profit for whoever commissioned its construction. The workers who assembled it are either granted the right to live there and maintain it, or are shipped off to another project - in either case, they have no access to the fruits of their labor, and no say in how it's used.
       
Sometimes, other concerns commission habitats. Research conglomerates may want to study a unique local phenomenon, an eccentric trillionaire might like the view, cults might want to build their holy land from scratch, the planet might be in legal limbo with no clear enforceable tax regime. Roll on the following d20 table to figure out why this habitat is here.
 
Why was this habitat founded?
1. Basic resource (1. raw minerals, 2. water, 3. organic compounds, 4. helium-3 fusion fuel, 5. food, 6. processing power).
2. Luxury resource (1. spices, 2. rare lifeforms, 3. precious metals/gemstones, 4. antimatter fabrication, 5. biotech and pharmatech, 6. great views)
3. Research (1. anomalous phenomenon, 2. unique ecosystem, 3. xenoarcheology, 4. xenoanthropology, 5. weapons testing, 6. [CLASSIFIED]).
4.
Easily terraformable (1. indigenous species under siege by empire, 2. highly-populated imperial hub world, 3. battlefield between competing colonizing powers, 4. project faced unforeseen difficulties, 5. demanding independence, 6. roll twice). 
5. Manufacturing and industry (1. androids, 2. financial services, 3. finished goods, 4. technology, 5. resource processing, 6. starships).
6. Social experiment (1. anarcho-capitalist, 2. doomsday cult, 3. biochauvinist, 4. singularitarian transhumanist, 5. leftist splinter, 6. historical reconstructionist).
7. Under the radar (1-3. criminal syndicate, 4. psychic haven, 5. android liberation, 6. anti-imperial revolutionary).
8. Military base.
9. Refueling port.
10. [CLASSIFIED]
11. Trillionaire's vanity project.
12. Prison.
13. Trade hub.
14. Luxury resorts.
15. Refugee camp.
16. First-wave lost colony.
17. Competing with rival power.
18. Megaproject.
19. Roll twice, it's both.
20. Roll three times, it's all three.

Remember that no matter the main principles a habitat was founded on, even the basic necessities require a workforce to maintain. Not everyone in a luxury vacation habitat is desk staff, a cleaner, or a concierge - every habitat needs technicians, farm workers, medical personnel, dockworkers, construction workers, shuttle pilots, and more.

Where do food, water, and fresh air come from?
Small habitats need to import food and often water; molecular recyclers in the life support system are effective to within 90% of mass reclaimed - but the second law of thermodynamics always holds sway, and without ongoing shipments a hab will inevitably starve. Larger habs may have hydroponics bays, and planetbound habs are typically founded on worlds with access to the building blocks of water and breatheable air. While the hab still likely needs to be sealed against thin, toxic, or simply unbreathable air, systems exist to turn almost any atmosphere mix into something technically breatheable (though reprocessed air typically retains some unique scents from whatever was mostly filtered out). Overall, this means that whoever controls the life support and food shipments has life-or-death power over the habitat at large.
 
How is the habitat powered? 
Fusion reactors are the most common power source for structures, stations, and starships. They're large, finnicky, and heavy - typically requiring a whole team of technicians to maintain. Solar power is potentially cheaper and less volatile, especially on smaller habitats, but requires a large surface area with consistent access to sunlight. More esoteric power sources exist like antimatter cores or gravity-wave turbines, but are restricted to habitats and starships that require vast amounts of power while space is a premium. On planets, hydropower, geothermal, or wind power may be even easier to access. Persistent rumors always spread that psionic energy can be harvested and converted into electricity, but no such facility officially exists.
 
How can residents access medical care? Who is denied it?
Hospitals are typically run by the same corporations that provide life support. While health insurance is provided to all corporate employees (and often to all imperial citizens), the vertical integration of medical care into corporate structures means that you're always going to end up in more debt for a procedure than you can afford anyway. And if you're unemployed, or not an imperial citizen, you're shit out of luck. For the rest, or those who don't want to go into vast debt, dark clinics in the underbelly of the habitat will fix you up for a price - but lack the resources to give you the kind of care that you could take for granted at a corporate facility. That said, street docs tend to be more compassionate, and they don't bother putting their terms in fine print.

That said, modern technology allows for a vast suite of procedures and treatments that pre-starflight civilizations could never imagine. Gene therapy and biocompatible replacement organs have tripled the average lifespan (for those who can pay), and cosmetic body-modding allows for full-body reconstruction. Entire fashion subcultures have grown up around extreme bodymodding, though they tend to the rich or medically-savvy.
 
Cybernetics are commonplace, though finnicky and expensive. On some habitats, everyone has a datajack and corneal displays to interfact with a persistent digital layer of reality - on others, every worker is subject to mandatory augmentation to fit their job and indebted to the corporation until they pay off their rig.
 
Who does the work?
Labor is always the source of profit. In a vast galaxy of near-infinite resources, the only bottleneck between the engines of neo-hyper-imperio-capitalism and unlimited expansion is how quickly it can get people onto a new extractive habitat and toiling away for the investors. Profit is contingent on these workers never demanding more than a token sum to keep them alive and working - everything above that goes to their bosses, their bosses' bosses, their bosses' bosses' bosses, and their investors' dividends.

In most empires, androids are classified as property and tools. Workforces extracting raw materials or constructing starships and stations often are fully composed of android labor, with a minimal non-android presence to maintain critical systems and sound the alarms in case of an escape or revolt. In other habitats, the workforce is made of whoever got there first - the laborers who constructed the habitat subsequently staying on to keep getting their paychecks, first-in colonists whose plan to create a better world was dashed against the profit motive, or indigenous civilizations held at gunpoint by imperial troops and corporate mercenaries.

These groups form the basis of autonomist movements, demanding self-governance and freedom from the corpro-imperial system. Each empire deals with them differently, but all know that they pose a critical threat - and so the goal is always to wipe out autonomist sentiment, in any way possible.
 

What passes for entertainment in this hab?
Any empire will collapse without bread and circuses. Media is an essential part of everyone's daily lives, helping them find some joy in the cracks of the dystopian spacefuture. With media comes propaganda - corporations and empires have always forced entertainment produced under their thumb to conform to social norms, and act as a vehicle for both advertisement and manufactured consent. Idols, dramas, movies, virtual spaces, games, newsfeeds, books, designer drugs, music, religion, pornography - everyone has their vice, and if the corporations can provide them (at a profit), the people might not ask why they feel so beaten down at the end of the day.
 
The narratives shown in media shape the lives we see as livable, and if alternatives to the empire and corporations' dogma are allowed to spread, there's no telling how much damage they could do. Stamping out competing, unapproved sources - whether anti-imperial, anti-corporate, pro-android, pro-psychic, pro-indigenous sovereignty - is imperative.

The 'net has grown from individual, isolated information networks on dozens of worlds into an interstellar data hub of unimaginable size and complexity. Local 'nets convey information instantly within habitats, and near-instantly within star systems, but interstellar communication is still reliant on small-throughput links between relays at jump gates and giant interstellar info-freighters carrying racks of servers full of information to download into every database on their route. Not all local information filters up to the interplanetary or interstellar 'nets - if you want to know something about a place that only locals know, you'll probably have to go there. Different empires have also close off their 'nets from each other, especially when they're preparing for war.

A variety of social media platforms fill the 'net on every habitat. While each habitat has their own local forums and bulletin boards (both corporate-approved and unlicensed), these are household names.
 
buzz!: Microblogging, filled with idols and politicians and brands disseminating their PR in catchy slogans like airborne pathogens. It's a marketing and news platform, with strange emergent communities stapling themselves to the sides. Every day there's a new queen of the hive, whose every move is under scrutiny - pray it isn't you.
 
LifeLog: A personal branding platform where you're expected to socialize with your best foot forward. Like Facebook plus Instagram plus Linkedin - it's awful, but if you want a job you need one, and most people have an account from birth. Pretends it's the friendly town square, ends up being nothing at all.
 
Quiki: Hookup & dating app. Has a dedicated kink and fetish community that it consistently mistreats.
 
Crunch: Counterculture fandom; like a metastatic fusion of tumblr, archive of our own, and fandom wikis. Call themselves "Crunchies", to everyone's annoyance.
 
n-on (pronounced "anon"): The absolute filth that is an anonymous imageboard; the chans, the worst parts (most) of reddit. A malignant tumor that thinks its the sewer of the internet, underpinning everything else and belching toxicity into the rest.
 
fullStack: An ancient help and technician network, too vital to discard, maintained like stone tablets. Forums and helpthreads cluster around it, tent cities on the tops of skyscraper-canyons of millennium-old archival data.
 
Where are finished goods manufactured?
The bits and bobs of daily life - from furniture to utensils to clothes to hardware, and more besides - are hard to manufacture at scale in a single habitat. While large and highly-developed habitats (especially planetside) will often be mostly self-sufficient with regards to manufacturing, smaller habitats are dependent on freighter shipments from other planets to provide the basics. These are usually dispensed at company-run general stores, though again larger and luxury habitats may have a market level where independent local businesses can set up shop (or, more likely, interstellar chains can open a new branch). Shipments of finished goods are what tie most of the galaxy together; new habitats are rarely constructed outside the range of shipping lanes, and interstellar shipping is a multi-trillion dollar industry.

Who protects this habitat from outside threats?
The galaxy is a dangerous place, according to (and usually because of) empires and corporations. The threats (real or imagined) of infiltrators from rival empires, corporate wars, psychic extremism, alien invasion, and daily petty crime demand a response - as do the less-publicly-acknowledged threats of unionization, political dissidents, collective uprisings, android liberation, and secession. Corporations contract private security companies to dp day-to-day policing, both to look like they're keeping everyone safe and to make sure that everyone knows their place and doesn't get ideas. When things go sideways, they might petition imperial authorities to send a detachment of their better-equipped forces, or (if the empire deploying its jackboots would reflect poorly on it) contract a mercenary organization to kill movement leaders and pacify the rest.

Habitats on the borders of an empire's territory will often play host to troop regiments and even entire fleet starbases. These habitats often fall under military rule in times of crisis, and their education systems are built to ingrain the values of loyalty, service, and sacrifice for the empire. Major war is always on the horizon, minor wars and uprisings are always setting the galaxy aflame. The last galactic wars resulted in the entire imperial power-balance shaking up like a snow globe. The winners are desperate to protect their gains, and the losers are eyeing their former glory with vengeful eyes. Never mind that all the flags look the same if you never look up.

 
Who else is here?
When there's space, organizations will show up to fill it. Rarely do they match up with the habitat's initial purpose - to habitat-management corporations, all rent money is good rent money. To fill out the population of the habitat, roll d6 times on the following table.

Factions (d100)

1. Artists
    1. Art academy, incredibly exploitative but the only option for arts education
    2. Propaganda mill dumping vast amounts of pro-imperial memes into the sector
    3. Thriving art scene, renowned across the empire
    4. Independent revival of underclass artistic movements, empire trying to quash it
    5. Underground art scene internally feuding over petty drama
    6. Anonymous virtuoso producing masterworks, identity is tabloid mystery
    7. Constant anonymous anti-establishment meme art, constantly evolving to avoid suppression
    8. Militant artist co-op committing art-terrorism
    9. Haven for artists producing and distributing seditious/banned works
    10. Auction-houses selling ancient masterworks for prices that could buy worlds
2. Corporate
    1. Monopolist megacorp, owns half the habitat, trying to own the other half
    2. Stock market trading hub, complete with hedge fund managers and gentrification
    3. Startup with billions in funding and no path to profitability, ads everywhere
    4. Research university, STEM programs only, does pure research that's coincidentally weaponizable
    5. Terrifying data-harvesting surveillance network, open secret
    6. Research blacksite committing heinous acts in the name of science
    7. Rapidly expanding branch of interstellar pyramid scheme
    8. Boutique artisans crafting luxury goods at the changing whims of the megarich
    9. Trillionaire's private estate, the size of an entire city
    10. Libertarian fully-privatized rentier hab, breathing costs $
3. Criminal
    1. Financial crime; insider trading, tax havens, money laundering, embezzlement writ large
    2. Smuggling ring landing shuttles at a hidden dock
    3. Crime family, carved out independently-recognized territory
    4. Protection racket harassing anyone who doesn't have the money to fight back
    5. Narcotics and proprietary medication manufacturing under the noses of the pharmacorps
    6. Rogue scientists experimenting with banned technologies
    7. Arms dealers selling to highest bidder
    8. Hacking enclave whistleblowing corporate and imperial secrets
    9. Fixers connect corporate managers with teams of deniable assets to prosecute intercorporate shadow-wars
    10. Poachers hunting rare flora and fauna to smuggle off-hab
4. Entertainment
    1. Sports league, based on unique local environmental quirks
    2. Film industry, exploitative and hedonistic in equal measure
    3. Luxury vacation hotels and casinos, deeply rigged, but with vast vaults
    4. Gentleman's clubs for the system's rich and famous
    5. Celebrities, with carefully constructed lives and images far above the workers who maintain the hab
    6. Red-light district, criminalized to keep them down
    7. Bloodsport league, underground and advertised by word of mouth
    8. Livestreamed revenge-killings by charismatic slasher
    9. Wonder of the galaxy and obligatory theme park
    10. Rare food and/or narcotics, export tightly controlled
5. Industry
    1. Agriculture, growing vatmeat or ranching local fauna or vast hydroponic grow-ops
    2. Mining, tearing worlds apart for large deposits of starship-grade metals
    3. Chemical harvesting, typically nitrogen, water, or carbon compounds
    4. Construction, of starships or luxury residences
    5. Biotech, building medtech, synthesizing pharmaceuticals, or growing clone parts
    6. Terraforming; this planet will one day be a garden
    7. Luxury fabrication, making trinkets no one needs and you could never afford
    8. Tourism, marketed as a place to vacation - but not a place to live
    9. Financial services, with all the upscale districts you can never afford to live in
    10. Energy, helium-3 harvesting or antimatter fabrication - as vital as it is dangerous
6. Installations    
    1. Bank and vault, incredibly secure, holds unmatched wealth in art and imperial treasury bonds
    2. Museum full of stolen treasures from colonized civilizations
    3. Starship junkyard, valuable components illegally salvaged for resale on secondary market
    4. Prison, holding the marginalized, indebted, and dissenting for imagined crimes and using them for slave labor
    5. Vanity megaproject construction site
    6. Jump gate and consequent trade hub, spaceport
    7. Archeological dig excavating relics of a long-dead civilization
    8. Wildlife preserve for unique local ecosystem
    9. GATEWAY top-secret research and containment facility, full of paracausal wonders
    10. Vivarium house and attached academy, with secret governing council-cult trying to wake the local star-god
7. Military
    1. Imperial military detachment, deployed as deterrent to rival empire
    2. Imperial naval shipyard and base, complete with fleet in orbit
    3. Police force, armed to the teeth and looking for anyone they can stomp on
    4. Imperial intelligence office, with a small psi-corps presence
    5. Mercenary company on shore leave, waiting for their next contract
    6. Entrenched invasion force from another empire, no-man's-land between them and the hab
    7. Rival imperial intelligence network, connected to the underground, fomenting unrest
    8. Revolutionary militia stockpiling weapons in secret for a massive strike
    9. Mercenary company contracted for defense against local threats, whether hostile fauna or revolutionaries
    10. Private security company, making up for lack of training by rapidly resorting to violence
8. Politics
    1. Aristo dynasties fopping about and demanding ludicrous luxuries
    2. Imperial military governor, heavily guarded and armed
    3. Holo-man in off-hab dreadnought, optimizing economic output
    4. Functionaries for imperial court, corporate lobbyists
    5. Charismatic demagogue building biochauvinist power base
    6. Nonprofits, well-meaning at best and deceptive at worst - always ineffectual
    7. Autonomist independence movement grudgingly acknowledged by those in power
    8. Revolutionary thought leaders writing but not fighting
    9. Deeply corrupt local governor siphoning funds off local industry
    10. Ostensibly representative democracy in an election year
9. Reactionaries
    1. Biochauvinist church, followed by double-digit percentage of population, dictates social norms
    2. Biochauvinist boy's club, well-dressed, armed, and defended by the cops no matter who they hurt
    3. Holo-man bunker, empty and well-defended for the days when it will inevitably be needed
    4. Vivarium house satellite campus, emphasizes bleeding-edge occult research
    5. Cult, deeply abusive of its members, highly litigious
    6. Conspiracy theorists, blaming the marginalized for their struggles, with an outsize platform
    7. Petty-bourgeoise holo-man aspirants
    8. Biochauvinist paramilitary thrill-seekers with combat experience
    9. Imperial intelligence agents, viciously rooting out dissenters
    10. Psi-corps bounty hunters hunting down anomalous individuals
10. Revolutionaries
    1. Liberatory church preaching unity and resistance to power, heavily surveilled
    2. Unions, split by industry, squabbling with each other
    3. Splinter group of larger revolutionary movement, constantly infighting and about to splinter again
    4. Off-grid unperson mutual aid network
    5. Autonomist sovereignty movement
    6. Android freedom network, operating in total secrecy
    7. Psychic monastery hiding in abandoned infrastructure
    8. Echo server cluster, highly-developed, ever-watching for signs of attempted ascension
    9. Labor organizers working to get a growing general strike off the ground
    10. Refugee camp from nearby disaster

Most Recent Post

Magic: the GLOGthering

I got back into Magic: the Gathering recently, and remembered that 5e did a massive hack job of converting MtG settings into D&D content...