Hc Svnt Dracones: Sound and Silence by PurpleXVI
HISTORYOriginal SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Sound and Silence
I figured there'd be no point to reposting the cover since you guys have already gotten a glimpse of that as a teaser, so welcome to Sound and Silence, the HSD lore book. It's split into two parts, the Sound part, which is the stuff that anyone in-setting can figure out just by being gregarious and doing a bit of research, i.e. what player characters could reasonably expect to know, and the Silence part, which are the setting's DEEP DARK LORE SECRETS that you could base entire adventures around discovering, and which the book tells prospective players NOT TO READ! Because they could be spoiling themselves! Obviously I'd expect every damn player to completely ignore that warning.
The .PDF's got about 200 pages, roughly 100 of which are dedicated to the corporations(I'm sure that's gonna be a ride) and about another ten to the SHADOW PRESIDENCY which, if you'll remember, is HSD's weird political setup where there's a president, but no one knows who the president is, except the people who do, and somehow this makes him unaccountable because he can't be pushed around by the corps, and the SHADOW PRESIDENT can just decide to have people killed to maintain the balance, and like everything else in the lore writing it's a shitshow. Because somehow this means that their corporate wonderstate is actually a dictatorship where someone can laugh and push a button and assassins make you explode. But no guys it's actually good and promotes liberty because.
Don't forget the moon turned into a giant crystal eyeball full of blood space ghosts that's connected to Earth which is also a giant crystal full of blood space ghosts.
So the book starts off, after the index and that little author's note, with a recapping of the background fluff of the original game. Go ahead and read the original review if you can't remember all the intricacies: http://projects.inklesspen.com/fata...-svnt-dracones/ But it can basically be summarized as follows: "Nation states get annoyed that corporations are making genetically engineered furry slave labour, corporations declare all-out war against nation states, Mars is terraformed, corporations ship their furry slaves to Mars and emancipate them, Earth ends up getting nuked, all the human get eaten by bloodspace ghosts, years pass, furries now colonize and terraform essentially the entire solar system amidst their wondrous anarcho-liberal paradise society and also they've invented true AI and magic."
Mostly this recap is noteworthy in the book for being accompanied by some fresh art. In the first book, one of the first genetic experiments was described as a "lion with wings." This new art, uh.
I guess it's more like a lion with a distorted human face, wings and tits, presented by Tony Stark.
That aside, the actual history section starts with the interesting and novel idea that perhaps the history, as presented so far, has been subject to heavy corporate editing and may, in fact, be large amounts bullshit meant to keep the losers in line and stop them fantasizing about things like "governments."(Never mind that they basically have one anyway) This entire section also runs in two concurrent bars, one down each side of the page, which are split by a timeline that's incredibly blurry and unreadable even though the rest of the text is relatively crisp. What is editing. Anyway, then we get yet another, more detailed, re-run of the History So Far, but this time with "this is the stuff that's dubious." Except the reasons for it being dubious are, themselves, dubious. For instance...
The number of pets that died or were created to begin with is also unconfirmed. The party line is tens to hundreds of thousands, but discrepancies exist with the proposed population of these large creatures (even the non-bipedal ones were close to human sized in most cases, if not larger) and food consumption data for the time. The original genomes for custom pets did not include any particular sort of metabolic curbing aside from their short lifespans. Each one of human stature should have eaten, drunk, and otherwise consumed a little less than a human would. Census data that has survived from this period has a hard time supporting the supposed bloom in numbers, suggesting that the overall population of the creatures may have been much lower than is generally taught.
The very idea that there would be enough data on "food consumption" in any case, much surviving data in the aftermath of an apocalypse, to extrapolate the number of living, human-sized creatures to within anything even vaguely accurate is absolutely retarded.
It also feels like this is generally written by someone other than whatever corporate fellators wrote the original book(at a check, there's only non-art credit for one guy for both books, Pierce Fraser, though an editor, Tim Wu, appears to have disappeared by the time of Sound and Silence), had a hand in this one, considering that Sound and Silence actually goes: "Hm, maybe people were pissed that corporations were seceding and refusing to pay taxes, and voted in people who'd start taking shots at them to win back some resources and sovereignty for nation states. This seems pretty understandable!" Like, for a moment it makes me go: "Well, yeah, fuck those corporations, obviously they were the bad guys, this book seems like it's got things r-" and then I stop, and I remember that this is the sort of fucking shit that got us 90's era garbage fluff like SLA Industries, where the first book or however many set up an indisputable fact-based fluff base and background history, and then whatever is latest in line goes: "YEAH WELL IT WAS ACTUALLY LIKE THIS, ALL THE WIZARDS WERE ACTUALLY SCIENTISTS AND THE ENTIRE SETTING WAS THE DREAM OF A CRAZY GUY WHO WAS BEING HALLUCINATED BY A DOG WHO WAS DYING IN A STORY WRITTEN BY A 12-YEAR-OLD AND THAT 12-YEAR-OLD WAS BARACK OBAMA."
It's dumb fucking hack writing, "twists" like that have never been clever. So long story short probably the corps were in the wrong after all and they also committed a fuckload of war crimes and used nukes and bioweapons to have even the slightest chance of winning, that's why they got their dumb asses nuked which for mysterious reasons probably related to ghosts, aliens or alien ghosts, got the entire Earth nuked in the end.
Note, this section is not just about the economy. And I'm glad for that because the things that ARE about the economy are very dumb and need diluting to not hurt me too badly.
Sol does have government. Several, in fact. By human standards, most corptowns exist in what would probably be described as a benevolent dictatorship (and the “benevolence” is largely due to general changes in perception).
I wonder if the writer feels smug writing this. Like I really do. Did he really consider himself to have GOTTEN ONE OVER on the readers of the first book? Does he think he's blowing their minds? Or is this some desperate cover-my-ass after all the critique of the fuckpile he wrote the first time around?
Life persists and is able to thrive because the entities on the top of the heap can’t really get much higher through things like needless exploitation or enslavement, and generally have no ego-driven need to beat people down in order to enforce some sort of lifestyle model (primarily because, at that level, there’s pretty much no personal need that can’t be filled technologically instead).
Oh, phew, thank God here we fucking go. It's back to just being normally retarded again. Did you guys know that once you're rich enough to basically have whatever you need, your corporation and its corporate practices are no longer overtly exploitative or dickish just because that wouldn't make any sense, huh guys, did you fucking know that?
What follows is then like a high school essay on how corporations are totally FLIM-FLAMMING THE RUBES, MAN, and how value is, like, artificial, puff, puff, and oh man did you know that a CAR and a CHAIR are basically equally easy to 3D-print? And that corporations will sometimes have PLANNED OBSOLESENCE? I know my mind is blown. Ultimately it ends up as a shitty excuse for why and how, under the GLORIOUS DAY-TRADING BOT REGIME, there are both poor people and rich people. The takeaway is that everyone's basically rich but the ones who are less rich are the ones who are dumb enough to fall for corporate propaganda, and the truly rich and free(tm) are the ones who are survivalists holed up on asteroids with their own 3D printers and fusion reactors.
Then there's a schizophrenic bit about how the corporate wars are both pre-planned and pre-arranged, to the point of basically just being theater, but also somehow still being something that worries other corps if one corp engages in too much. But if it's all basically a pre-arranged deal just to make the CITIZENS accept that some territory or property changed hands, don't the other corps know that, too? That it isn't a real hostile action by a berserking raider corporation? And that they have nothing to worry about unless they make the call and agree to send a dozen data entry clerks to rumble with lead pipes and fire axes? But I guess it makes sense after all because then the next paragraph says that it actually is mostly unplanned and the result of illegal actions like industrial espionage and theft of property.
I think they should've kept the editor. I mean, not that he did them much good in the first book, but at least then they could've blamed him.
Also large-scale corporate wars are actually a clever and good thing because it keeps money in motion due to needing to pay mercenaries and weapon designers and strategic planners. IT STIMULATES THE SPACE DOG ECONOMY AND IS NECESSARY TO MAKE A POST-SCARCITY CORPORATE EXISTENCE FUNCTION AT ALL!
Attached to this bit about DARKWARS(which are good for the economy!) is also something we've come to know and love about HSD, statements about how the furries are truly much better and smarter than humans all along. Did you know that ON EARTH all mental illness is just perceived as something you throw drugs at until it goes away? But ON FURRY
And then there's the bit where this is in the Sound section, which is stuff that basically anyone should or could know with a bit of effort, except it both states and implies that fundamental to corporate control is the fact that most furry people do not know or understand these things. You know, all of the things I've just listed, which are specifically in the section they should and could easily find out.
Sob, fuck this shit.
This was totally a great thing to ring in 2018 with.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, YOU ASSHOLES.
TO BE CONTINUED
THE MEGACORPSOriginal SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Sound and Silence
So far the main theme of Sound and Silence is that every time something's been stated, it's either wholly or partially refuted a few paragraphs later. I swear it's not me going insane, the book really is this way, and its frankly infuriating as fuck. Like, imagine trying to genuinely run a game with this shit, you'd have nothing even vaguely approaching a coherent feeling for what the fucking gameworld is like.
This time we start with a chapter detailing yet more stuff about the Megacorps. The first page can essentially be summarized as "corporations are made up of a lot of people, their structure is opaque both to outsiders and insiders, if stuff involving them happens, just handwave and go 'that was a fun adventure, but nothing really changed afterwards,' because corporate organizations are self-correcting, which fits the setting." Seriously, I'm not kidding.
you can arrange plots where very powerful people can do a slew of horrible things that the party is hired to stop, prevent, or counteract, without having to wonder so much about how the corp endures it, or how it gets covered up afterward. It’s rather self-cleaning, which suits the universe well.
And then it moves on to the Megacorp rivalries. Now, I'm in no way expecting anyone to remember the stupid fucking corporations from the core book. I could hardly even do that myself. But there are four major rivalries in-setting:
ASR vs Pulse, which is basically jocks fighting jocks and it's all in good humour and no one really dies unless it's an accident, because all they disagree on is whether you should do drugs or replace your arm with a robot arm to get really strong.
IRPF vs Spyglass, which is like if the cops decided to pick a fight with the CIA, and both of them were private megacorps and also the CIA rather than hoarding and selling secrets, apparently wanted to liberate all secrets, and this is somehow a functional source of revenue rather than a reason for everyone to burn them to the ground. Also keep in mind that this section directly contradicts the earlier bit about HOTZONES mostly being play-acting, since outside of ASR vs Pulse, all these rivalries are legit and unplanned.
This section also states, without any sort of irony or caveats, that most businesses are started with some sort of illegal, embarrassing or otherwise underhanded deal to get them off the ground, which is just a fact of modern society and something we should probably learn to live with. In some games I'd just go "oh this is how it is because there's so much corruption in the setting" but in this case I think the author really thinks this is how businesses work.
Then there's Progenitus vs TTI, which is like if a franchise chain of hospitals and medics decided to get into a brawl with a cult of incompetent space wizards, mostly over the fact that the space wizards like to do secret culty stuff in space, and the space medics like to go save people in space. And sometimes the space medics are trying to save people where the cultists are trying to do their cultist shit. So these guys are basically at legit, "blow up a city, nuke a spaceship, fuck the world"-tier war on a semi-regular basis. So much for DARKWARS being mostly hidden like we were told like... five pages back. It says they fucking level city blocks, and yet their war is "almost invisible at the civilian level." THIS ISN'T EVEN CHAPTERS APART, OR A FULL PAGE APART. IT'S LIKE A HALF PAGE, TOPS.
Lastly there's MarsCo vs Lumen, which is basically the most generic, undefined, "we just have a bunch of money i guess"-corp fighting some dudes who think FTL travel is nifty, because "oh no, FTL travel undermines our fictional economy and somehow makes it even more obvious that we're existing in a post-scarcity paradise that we inexplicitly don't let most people partake in!" I don't even remember if we told told that FTL travel exists in the setting before, but there it is, I guess, it's confirmed that it's a thing. But to the relief of all the non-Lumen corporations, Lumen is run by a bunch of WACKY LITTLE SPACE KENDER assholes(or maybe more like tinker gnomes from Krynn, I guess. Except they're tiny cyborg foxes.) which is all that prevents them from totally screwing over the established order in the solar system. I'm still not sure why FTL tech is a threat to the established order, you'd figure that extrasolar colonization projects and the like would be a good way to ease population pressure and get the more restless parts of society shunted out to the fringes rather than stirring up shit in the middle of whatever stupid town full of dogpeople is the capital of Mars.
Next, there are individual sections on the various megacorps. I've read through the entire MarsCo one and I've yet to find a single thing that defines them, in any way, at all. They're just "a corporation that makes a lot of money," they don't have any unique products or services or anything at all that gives them any sort of personality at all. Each of the sections is also started with a piece of in-setting fluff and, again, MarsCo's was just... I can't even summarize it beyond "a teacher tells some kids that flying is hard and they gotta exercise for it." Why are these people even in the fucking gameworld.
ASR is next, and their starting fluff is somewhat retarded, but actually a story. Basically some kids are playing an AR game where the subscription fee is hefty enough that they get to stop traffic and even clear stores of customers and staff temporarily so they can run around shooting virtual things in their AR MMO. The concept is stupid but actually, you know, tells you what people do in a wacky sci-fi world that they can't just do in our modern world? Anyway, the kids find themselves lost, and so they take off their AR goggles to get their bearings. It turns out some shady criminal operation is hijacking the game to lure kids into places where they can, essentially, forknap them. You know, just casually copy their brains by having them hang around beating up EPIC MOBS for RARE LOOT for a few minutes, and then do... whatever, with them. Probably some sort of slave trade its implied? Anyway this fluff is less garbage than the MarsCo one, that's what matters.
Their corporate personality is "all the tech, all the time," ranging from people who're essentially Shadowrun BTL junkies to people who just replace as much of their body with metal as they possibly can. And of course they've got a ton of robots and holograms everywhere, excessive even by future standards, and they sometimes arrest people just for thinking about crime rather than for actually doing it. Oh and also I guess this means they can casually read your fucking mind when you're walking down the street. Why does this setting even need spies again? Their fluff also casually mentions that the furries may have proven the existence of God, or something? I don't fucking know. Because apparently "there are physics we don't understand yet" translates to "probably God is real."
These idiots also police against the rise of Skynet or TITANs... by using adaptive AIs that have a high chance of turning into AIs or TITANs themselves simply by interacting with reality in a casual sense which eventually apparently makes them go insane. Oh and also the furries have ALSO invented long-range teleportation, pure matter/energy conversion and energy shielding and the only reason everyone doesn't have it is that ASR keeps it restrained like they're the fucking Technocracy. Like what the fuck is even left to strive or fight for in this fucking setting? Maybe a swift death to escape it. I don't know. Fuck these writers.
Then there's IRPF. The starter fluff is about a pair of furry space cops lamenting that the law sometimes makes shitty things happen, in this case a technical fuckup means a resleeving basically copied a dude's personality into two bodies, and now one of them needs to be euthanized, because that's what the contract says. So anyway these guys are space cops for hire and they do space cop things. I mean that's fucking it, what did you expect, and of course the book hails their professionalism because clearly a privatized police force is a great idea and sometimes they even represent JUSTICE over what their employer says. Go salute a crying eagle with tits for our brave boys in neon-blue fur.
And then the fucking text starts jerking off to how efficient and superior it is for the cops to cooperate with organized crime that doesn't do a lot of damage, in order to take down the really bad disorganized criminals. And some stuff that makes no sense about how sometimes if you let criminals get away with a bit of crime, they never turn into really dangerous criminals who can shoot back at you. None it makes any sense. It's fucking stupid.
I can't tell if she's eating some non-descript food item or giggling at a severed head in a bag.
Tune in next time when we get to the space wizard cult corporation
THE MEGACORPS(Continued)Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Sound and Silence
Next up is TTI. As a refresher on them, they're the inventors of Transcendent Technology, AKA "here, get this thing jammed into your brain and you can do space magic." In-setting this is meant to make them mysterious, otherworldly and powerful. Practically, space magic implants are heavily reliant on weird attributes like your physical beauty, and have a large chance of making you explode if you use them in inclement conditions(which will not be obvious until you try to use them). Alternately, if you flubbed a random roll when they were installed, they may be permanently stuck on "your pyrokinesis implant triggers a nuclear explosion with you at the center, no, you don't get any protection from it" or "your teleportation implant flings you into deep space or another universe."-mode, which means if you ever try to use them, it's time to reroll. What I'm trying to say is that Transcendent Technology is shit and the writers are retarded.
Their intro fluff is about an operative wearing sentient armor which is more nervous than she is. Why would you let your sentient armor be able to know fear? So it can shit itself and run when the agent wearing it is still able to do something? This is stupid. Anyway, they're exploring a TTI bioship that has mysteriously died. Because you see TTI doesn't use normal spaceships, they use giant zombie organic ships powered by Vitae(Vitae is another of their inventions which, unlike the space magic, is actually handy. It's an artificial blood replacement that basically makes you immortal as long as it's in your system, but for no real reason at all, the rest of furry space society thinks that it's criminal and unnatural to use. Despite everything else about them also being unnatural, this is apparently TOO unnatural. It's retarded). But anyway they walk through some dead flesh corridors and OH NO, THE SHIP WAS KILLED BY THE SAME EVIL SPACE VIRUS THAT MADE ALL THE NUKES ON EARTH FIRE AT ONCE AND DESTROY EARTH. HORRIFYING. Though why a supposedly subtle and efficient digital saboteur would leave an identifying and extremely obvious "glyph" behind at the site of every hacking is beyond me. Maybe just... not give everyone a chance to identify you. Or something.
They may be retarded, but at least they've got some degree of personality beyond "does business things," in that their business largely relies on doing unnatural things for profit, even compared to the rest of space furry society. Primarily making novel new lifeforms both for sinister and normal uses, and any area where they're in charge, there are going to be bunches of these around. Sometimes for decoration, sometimes to do things that machines do elsewhere. Of course it can't just be mildly neat for more than a page without HSD deciding to fuck things up. Firstly, it's confirmed that aliens exist, just sort of casually, in the "everyone knows or could easily find out" section of the book, and secondly, TTI has decided to up the post-scarcity ante by having discovered alien genes that can allow an organism to exist without ever eating, breathing or sleeping. What fucking unresolved problems are left in this stupid universe?
So anyway after discovering these ALIEN GENES on Europa, TTI just... casually resurrects the alien species. I mean, why not. Why not resurrect a bunch of immortals that may also be telepathic and telekinetic and potentially highly intelligent, but with very alien brain structures, just to make a theme park out of it.
At least they look moderately alien and not just like someone's fantasy fuckpet.
Mostly they spend their time trolling TTI's researchers by pretending to want peaceful dialogue and coexistence and like they want to learn to talk to us. And then when some researchers float out into the European seas to see what to make of it, the aliens call up a bunch of their buddies to tear them apart. Apparently without any motive other than really hating furries. Also some of them are "as big as battleships." That's pretty fuckin' huge.
Oh and remember how I said the furries might have proven God exists? Well, TTI has definitely proven that souls exist, because their space wizard tech actively fucks around with souls, and they can transfer your soul into an ashtray and then give that ashtray wizard powers if they want. Fuck this game.
Anyway. Time for Progenitus, the space doctors. Which brings us back to another retarded point worth remembering from the core review. LATERALS. Laterals are furries that are just, you know, normal animals. Not anthropomorphic. That is to say usually they don't have hands and they're just like, a cat, or a mouse, or in the case of this intro a fucking deer. Why these aren't instantly resleeved into non-fucked bodies, or just euthanized before birth, I don't know, furries are retarded like that I guess. Anyway for the intro fluff, it turns out that one of Progenitus' best SPACE MEDICS is a fucking deer. HOW CAN YOU EVEN BE A MEDIC WITHOUT OPPOSABLE THUMBS. Also the fucking story is retarded, so, the medics, including ULTRA MEDIC THE DEER, are trying to save a guy that TTI really wants dead. So their genius plan is to clone him a new body in the field(in an area being watched by satellites so TTI knows exactly how many people have entered and how many should be leaving), fuel the new body's growth with the deer's own severed limbs(no really), transfer the guy's mind into the new body, and toss TTI's mutants the old one. And it works, TTI doesn't care that a person who wasn't there before is now walking out of there. They're not even suspicious, they just let the medics go. It's fucking retarded.
These guys are like someone's terrible stereotype of what a Welfare State is like. In that they mean well, but you're constantly accompanied by advisors and state guidance who, for instance, decide what food you should be buying so you stay healthy and otherwise babysit you in an intolerable way that, nonetheless, endears them to the furries.
[quotes=Sound]In Progenitus proper corptowns, the corp will monitor your activity levels, have representatives meet you at your workplace, make your nutritional purchases for you, and have a hand (if an automated one) in your day to day decisions. It’s much more invasive than other corps, but Progenitus has structured it into their society in such a way as to compel certain behavior socially rather than through force of arms. Punishment for not living up to certain ideals of health and service manifest in the form of lost privilege, which means the corp does less for you.[/quote]
I guess you can be persona non grata in their corporate society for being too fat, though, which I can't say I entirely disapprove of. It's also noted that despite Progenitus getting their start by selling "cures rather than treatments," they're essentially pulling the same shit on their corporate citizens by selling them everything as a service rather than a product. A loan that they can revoke at any time, for instance if you get too fat they can instantly repo your car and your apartment, because you never actually owned either. Eventually it'll probably entertain me that the furry doctors will ban you from society if you become too fat, but that hasn't happened yet. Probably won't by the end of this review, either.
Also to get back on the "Progenitus is hypocritical and I don't think the author has noticed it"-train, is the fact that on one page it goes: "Progenitus hates TTI because they're too 'ends justify the means' and cause too much suffering! Progenitus wants to save everyone!" then on the next page it goes: "Progenitus has large, secret populations of clones that it tortures, infects and horribly maims just so it has someone it can do medical research on and learn more about treatments and cures from working with. They do this because the ends justify the means." Progenitus has also teamed up with the space cops to find out whether morality is determined biologically or by society. Trying to breed the ultimate ethical creature. That's kind of a creepy far-future thing that work with, could be interesting. And for once the author resists the temptation to go: "yo the furries figured this one out and the answer is X" so there's actually still something to strive for! Kind of! Probably this will be ruined entirely in the Silence part of the book, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
HOW CAN YOU BE A MEDIC WITHOUT FUCKING OPPOSABLE THUMBS. EAT SHIT, HSD.
So, next up on the corporate roll is Pulse and-
What is this dumb shit
-ahem, anyway. Pulse. Their intro fiction is about a pair of executives trying to figure out what to do next in the wild, wacky universe of filmed fistfights and bloodsports. What they end up coming up with is something that actually sounds like compelling watching(albeit hilariously unethical), basically releasing a monster into civilian premises, tossing a few of the civilians some guns and a bit of forewarning, and then seeing if they try to save others, fight the monster or just get themselves out. Their corporate mentality is sort of like they're the more corporate version of the Ultimates from Eclipse Phase, it's all about bettering and strengthening yourself, keeping on fighting, etc. and there are no situations where you're really fucked, you're just not applying enough effort. BOOTSTRAPS, SON.
Even consistently bad art from the same artist would've been better than whatever revolving door of morons they had for their art crew.
Why is the art for "Arena Combat" a shark in a swimsuit.
Living in Pulsetown must also suck since they apparently will casually fuck with your genes just for laughs, marketing or playful experimentation. So if you ever wake up glowing green or your left arm shrivels up and falls off because some virus engineer forgot to carry the one, ha ha! That's just a wacky result of living here. It's not even portrayed as horrific by the writer. More just as wacky and casual fun. Pulse also pays guys to run around and start shit. Like breaking things, mugging people or setting fires. Just so people have something to "react to," to see what they're made of. Aren't they just a wacky bunch of lovable jocks? And they've got people who go around randomly injecting people with "turn you into a monster for a few hours"-serums, apparently as advertising for Pulse. This is, again, portrayed as... a non-horrifying, non-traumatizing thing and instead as something that a lot of people are totally into and enjoy so much they move over to live in a Pulse town where it happens more regularly.
Phew. With that we're almost done with the corporations. Just two more to go, where we're going to learn about the Corporate Nega-CIA and what dumbshit things the author has to say about FTL travel in a capitalist society, and then we can move on to the TRULY SPOOKY SECRETS of HSD.
MEGACORPS(The last two, promise)Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Sound and Silence
MEGACORPS(The last two, promise)
So the first of the last two Megacorps in HSD is Spyglass, the corporation that spies on people. Now if that was all, this would be a pretty short paragraph. But no, that is not all. That's never all. There's always more shit to dig up. The intro fiction is about someone from one of the Space Cop corporate territories visiting a Spyglass territory and talking to someone that gives him a boner about how wonderful it is to visit Spyglass' territory, because there are no cops and no laws, which, somehow, means you can really trust everyone and there's a great sense of community.
“But the people here are awake. They think. They think about other people, they think about their actions, they think about what’s right, and why it’s right, and who they feel is right to help regulate those judgments. There’s a community here you don’t get anywhere else. It’s trust. And it’s a genuine trust, because it has very few immutable laws to hide its actions behind.”
"... it’s also freeing. It puts a lot of power with the individual and promotes a level of personal responsibility you don’t get other places.”
“Those reports of violence against tourists you’ve heard of? I’d put about 90% of them on tourists drawing weapons in fear when they could’ve apologized or asked for help."
So anyway, it's hard to really convey every single way in which Spyglass is shit and the writer makes me want to slap them upside the face. But let's try to work our way through it, the short version is that they're not the Space CIA Corporation. They're the Anarchist Samurai Corporation that don't believe in rules because HONOR keeps everyone in line and your social standing is too important to risk and also it works instead of currency in their territories. The writing also seems to sympathize with their view of cops as "a bloated mercenary corporation" that just throw up their hands and go "THOSE ARE THE RULES, WE DIDN'T MAKE 'EM." when they have to pop a couple dozen bullets into some random innocent. It also seems to support Spyglass trials which are basically "lynch mobs" presided over by whoever the mob likes most, but come on, the rules tell us, this couldn't be corrupt, because no one would be really well-liked by the mob and the locals if it wasn't for a really good reason! Like if they were really fair and honest and it was always a good idea to put someone's life in their hands!
Also if the system should ever break down, Spyglass just digs up all the dirty laundry and secrets they can find on the BAD GUY and reveals it, and then the system, whether it's social or business, just sort of balances itself out and it's all cool. I'm glad Spyglass are such great dudes. They're also praised for the fact that civilians with guns blow away criminals on the street, because this is basically the same as a cop doing it, we're told, so we should take it with a pinch of salt if anyone tells us that it's bad and means Spyglass sites are dangerous. Their idea of "urban planning" is also just "throw up a bunch of empty buildings and see what the citizens make of them, and this works out great all the time, forever."
The writers also can't decide if Spyglass reveals all secrets or mostly keeps secrets secret. Since it seems to vary from paragraph to paragraph. Either way, whichever one they do, it's their primary source of revenue. And they've also managed to sabotage literally every piece of surveillance equipment in the solar system, which is how they can be so stealthy, because they secretly own and have compromised basically every company making the gear, and when they haven't managed to do that, they've bribed literally every person operating it. Yeah I'm serious, and the other corporations have yet to decide to just move their security production in-house, I mean they basically own a fucking planet or at least a moon each, you'd figure they'd have the spare resources to make cameras on their own.
Lastly, is the Lumen corporation, run entirely by the setting's intolerable cybernetic kender. If you've ever read one of those stories or games where there's someone overpowered that's meant to somehow still be relateable, so the writer gives them a token weakness that isn't actually a weakness? Those are the Cogsune, and the Cogsune, detailed in the last review, are the only species involved in the Lumen corporation. They're all little cybernetic foxes that are, technically, if I remember right, kind of immortal. They're also much smarter than everyone else, and they've invented like fifty different kinds of FTL, all of which are much better than the one they're showing in public, which can "only" get up to twice the speed of light. They've also invented "miniaturization" technology, which I don't think the author quite knows what means, that lets them make, say, assault rifles sized for mice that do as much damage as normal assault rifles. Or that can make battleships the size of SUV's that maintain the same amount of armor and armament.
Now, you might be wondering, what token failing do these intolerable little nerds have? I mean, they're all born as hypergeniuses or super-secret killer operatives, what weakness could they have? Simple, they can't have faith. They're bad at believing in ghosts, magic, gods or transcendent tech wizardry. But apparently they're not so bad at believing in it that they can't understand it exists, so they're still researching it to understand it so they can properly believe in it for... reasons? I don't fucking know. The whole thing is a long-winded ramble that suggests the author has a very poor understanding of brains, including their own.
Though their species is capable of creativity, intuition, abstraction, and even artistic expression, their logic is locked to an extremely solid model of the universe. That model can be tweaked and change as discoveries are made, but it serves as a default “instinct” for the creatures themselves. Cogsunes, for instance, are not taught math. They just know it. All of it. And while it is possible for them to make adjustments to the way they compute math, it is not possible for them to, say, remove “math” as a concept from their minds. They would be unable to reconcile a lack of these principles with the rest of their world, which runs into a serious problem when attempting to work out something that has been becoming a larger and larger factor in their solar system: transcendent phenomena.
The Cogsune transcendent weakness stems from two factors: the first is a lack of information about the properties involved in the initial discovery and leverage of transcendent technology. Cogsunes were “educated” by ASR, who have no real information about how TTI’s science works, and nothing about its origins. The measurable effects of these abilities don’t correspond to the energy or qualities of matter feeding into them by any stretch, which unhinges the Cogsune think-engine something fierce. With access to the right sets of variables, it wouldn’t be so bad, but that leads to problem number two: the variables themselves don’t make sense.
Many of the glyphs and factors of transcendent technology rely as much on input from one side of reality as they do from the other, which means only a portion of the system itself functions in our interpretations of reality. The others are based in sciences that can’t exist here. Cogsunes can conceive of that idea, but actually putting that conception into practice doesn’t work for them. Vectors can disregard incongruity or impossibility and focus solely on perceived results. It’s a key factor in an inherited human condition called “faith.” Cogsunes lack that ability. For them to accept a thing requires that it fit various established models in their mind, resulting in very accurate, analytical thinking, and an utter inability to cope with TTI’s namesake product in action long enough to collect the information they need to solve problem number 1.
Honestly trying to parse it just gives me a headache. Anyway, Lumen's schtick is that they just one day show up with a bunch of FTL junk and start moving things around, shaking up old corporate deals and relationships. Except because they're WACKY LITTLE PRANKSTERS, they don't use their pocket battleships(see what I did there) and FTL tech(which has no problems functioning in-system, inside gravity wells, doesn't only work between certain nodes or any of the other issues that limit FTL in a lot of sci-fi settings to make them more interesting) to conquer the solar system. Instead they're just doing random wacky shit with it and haphazardly running their business to collate data for... some reason. Apparently self-improvement?
Anyway, fuck Lumen and the Cogsune. After that, we get a short section on GROTTOS, which are basically just really big space station. One's abandoned and gone feral, one is a hedonistic paradise, the third is an archive for recording scientific and historical data in case of another cataclysm, and the last is full of robots. Normally these are the sort of short sections that are meant to make you go: "Oh wow! I could think of some ideas for an adventure!" but in this case they're just like the lowest-tier of most generic sci-fi shit imaginable that they spark zero ideas whatsoever. Why would I care about a space station full of wild dogs when I'm in a post-scarcity solar system where that station can't possibly have any rare or unique things I can't just 3D print at home? Unless I really want to get tetanus from being bitten, I guess.
But at least that means we're finally done with the Sound section and can move on to the Silence part where all the setting's juicy secrets are. Maybe something in here will totally surprise us and give the setting some much-needed purpose, originality and gravitas! I'm not holding my breath.
Our first lump of the Silence section gives us a comic that makes me glad the authors mostly removed humans from the setting, because their artists clearly couldn't draw them very well, and then we get a following chunk of fluff about one of the setting's core bad guys, the Pale Men, or furry Slendermen. To recap, when furries took a trip back to the non-blood-ghosty parts of Earth to see what was going on, Palemen owned them hardcore. Now we learn that they're humanity's supersoldiers, made in the dying parts of the nations-vs-corporations war to frolic across the irradiated wastelands and fuck a dude up if he was an anarcho-capitalist retard who wanted to fuck dogs. Oh and they're also telepaths, but this isn't some wacky supernatural Transcendental thing, it's just perfectly normal science, you see:
Telepathy was always an ability that made theoretical sense: the brain does interpret electrical signals sent to it by its senses. The problem was the senses themselves. Human brains have no organ associated with broadcasting those signals through the air, and no organ designed to snag those signals out of the sky as it does with sound aimed toward the ears. A transmitter and receiver, as it were.
Perfectly simple and scientifically robust in its explanation, you just jam a fucking antenna into the brain and hey presto, you've got telepathy. They also gave them eyes all over, which is apparently an advantage rather than an invitation to have a lot of poorly-protected orifices that enemies can just throw dust at to hugely discomfort them. But what do I know, I'm not a superscientist making killer monsters on a hellworld.
But, you might ask, what's the point of growing baby monsters now, that'll take ten to twenty years of training and growing before they can start killing dudes? Well, simple, you see! The answer is instinct, because scientists just found the instinct for "what is a doorknob" and "how to fire gun" and programmed them with that! Shit, you guys are gonna suck at the apocalypse if you don't even know basic monster-growing factoids like that, wow. Anyway, to further cement the human scientists as genius monster-makers, they also made Pale Sharks and Pale Birds(i.e. underwater pale men and flying pale men), and ensured that the pale sharks and the pale men could fuck(and also that they couldn't knock up their own species), you know, just to be on the safe side so they'd always be able to make more of them if their labs got blown up. Totally not because the authors had a fetish in any way shape or form no sir. That's also why we get an entire page about the intricacies of it.
Why is almost every super-spooky monster in this game a creamy white colour?
We also find out why the owls turned into creepy slender-dudes, apparently Hydra, the evil virus that got Earth nuked, sent itself to Mars, where someone just stored the files it was in without looking at them. Then when it came time to make the owls, they just dragged random shit out of the archives and decided to involve it, apparently. Yeah that's seriously the fucking explanation. No, I'm not fucking kidding you, it's in the book! Honest! Look!
Hydra attached aspects of the programs related to its use and discovery to the transmission so similar conditions could be repeated on Mars. The tag-along files were strange and unsorted, and they were filed away until dredged up during the third Vector expansion and applied to the owls by a pair of scientists that knew not what they were meddling with.
Would I ever lie to you about something being awful? Anyway, much like the exonymphs from the Extended Core, the Palemen canonically clown on the furries pretty easily. In this case by luring them down to Earth, stealing their ships and getting a big lump of themselves to Mars, then planning to rescue the rest of their families from Earth. Which makes them more sympathetic and interesting than the furry main characters. Mind you, how they stay hidden among the furry populace considering that they've apparently got WIRELESS BRAINSCANNERS all over the fucking place, is a mystery. This setting doesn't really ask itself a lot of questions and it answers even less.
THIS UPDATE IS MOSTLY ABOUT SPACE GHOSTS. AND SPACE GOD. AND SPACE SATAN.Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Sound and Silence
THIS UPDATE IS MOSTLY ABOUT SPACE GHOSTS. AND SPACE GOD. AND SPACE SATAN.
Hokay, before we get into the really wacky shit, let's finish up some of the more mundane "secrets" of the HSD universe. Someone might remember, if I even considered it worth posting, that in the original HSD review, it's mentioned that human singing makes Vectors(the furries) kinda peace out and doesn't seem to do much else. Kinda weird. Turns out, when the surviving humans finished up the last Vector generations, they programmed them with some triggers that A) made it easier to fast-learn them stuff and B) meant that humans could tell them to go fuck themselves if they tried to rebel. Then the furries found out about it and rebelled, forcing the remaining humans to either turn into weird semi-vectors or go down to Earth and get eaten. It's like 99% a completely pointless part of the fluff and its only part of the game world, is, as the book tells us, that it gets used as a date rape drug sometimes, because human singing makes Vectors susceptible to suggestion.
The book also tries to make this sound like just a "ho ho those wacky kids"-thing when in fact it's stupendously creepy and gross.
Okay, so next there's one of the dumber fucking things...
THE SHADOW PRESIDENCY
The book spends like five pages setting up how this works. Essentially every megacorporation has a SHADOW PRESIDENT who has total control of the corporation, can have people killed for laughs, no one knows who they are, and mostly they pass on their position to "trusted friends"(nepotism all the way down! Except it's presented as a good thing for some reason). This is entirely presented as something that totally keeps corporations on the straight and narrow and keeps them functioning like well-oiled capitalist machines. It details all of their little rules of succession and what powers they have and how the mainline corporations really want to kill them off so they can have total control of their corporations without any meddling magic dictators fucking things up.
It details how it works for the actual seven canonical megacorporations, and five out of seven of them do not follow these five pages of elaborate rules and regulations because their shadow presidents are alien bugs that ate the last shadow president's brain(exonymphs), children being raised by aliens(the kid from the shitty setting fluff that ended the first book is being taken care of by a Pale Man), AI's(ASR is being run by one of these and it just keeps passing the position on to itself, ignoring the stupid succession rules), have four separate Shadow Presidents at once(the IRPF space cops) or don't actually have one(MarsCo's is dead and they're being run by ASR's AI shadow president).
I swear this fucking book is out to troll me at this point.
But now in the space station base of the UAC he knew there were demons.
Okay so follow along here for a bit, because this is going to make sense in a moment. The remainder of the book is basically all about SPACE MAGIC, I'm sorry, TRANSCENDENT TECHNOLOGY AND PHENOMENA(TM) which is legally distinct from SPACE MAGIC in every way and also by being much dumber as a concept. I'm going to go through this in a different order than the book does, because it's incredibly meandering and enchanted with itself. Let's just try to sum it up.
Firstly, all religious experiences and miracles and spooky things ever have been the result of people accidentally invoking Space Magic.
Secondly, humanity destroyed itself with Space Magic. They did this by sending a probe to Europa that sent back ANOMALOUS READINGS. Despite all signs that they were fucking with something unnatural, they went "hey guys lets feed these readings into a giant 3D printer and see what sanity-destroying shape it makes!" and it turns out that it 3D printed a portal into an unfathomable other reality that destroyed all probes sent through, as well as the minds of all sapient explorers. So then the humans decided to shoot a giant laser in there, which prompted no response, except that the next day, a scientist randomly explodes and his scattered blood, gore and viscera hardens into a SPOOKY SPACE MAGIC GLYPH.
So these morons then decide to start carving this glyph into everything they can find, including computer code, just to see what happens. Even after the first attempts show that the glyph rapidly copies itself into anything else that resembles what it was first carved into. So promptly it jumps into every single computer on Earth during the nation/corporate war and decides to touch off all the Earth's nuclear warheads because it wanted to find out what nukes were like. Yes, really, and that's going to be part of the big retarded reveal eventually coming.
Third, the SPACE MAGIC GLYPH got itself emailed to Mars. Then, when the Vectors were making the owls, they decided to brand the SATANIC SPACE GLYPH right into their fucking DNA for ?????? reasons and were extremely surprised when the owl furries came out as homicidal maniacs that wanted to kill everyone.
At this point it becomes less chronological and more like a sort of smattering of retarded facts. TTI discovers a SPACE MAGIC implant that lets you quicksave and quickload with time travel(except not really apparently they're just jumping to parallel realities), do stupid space magic experiments that destroy the world over and over, with a bunch of quickloaders and quicksavers hanging around to watch the universe get unravelled, then quickloading back and going "okay here's the scoop that was a fucking stupid idea but it gave us a bunch of science that's going to let us fuck up reality in a totally different way next time!" Until the point where the quickloaders come back with the Whispers(spooky blood magic space magic crystal slendermen) and oh shit turns out it was a fucking stupid idea after all.
One of them survives and ends up creating like twelve literal gods through ~GENETICS~ and puts them into the Oort Cloud to protect space from furries and also to protect furries from space and some of them are planet-sized and the book doesn't even bother to detail or stat them because GODS.
Anyway, so the Whispers are the agents of Hydra, the space glyph virus, which is actually Satan, and is destroying the universe because it really wants to pull everything in it apart and catalogue it. This is literally its motivation and the Whispers are the editors of Satan's wikipedia that disassemble and tag everything and turn it into red space crystal, which is what they're doing to Earth. Taking it apart so Space Satan can figure out how to take other planets apart. Now, you might think, since all of this bullshit originated from the portal on Europa, maybe that's where Space Satan's from, except no. That's where Space God is from, except Space God is a dick served by the evil aliens that TTI resurrected on Europa, as well as the evil orca bio-servitors that TTI also made, and also he's radioactive and is the reason why Jupiter is radioactive and Jupiter's radioactivity is what his servants live off.
It also confirms that aliens exist and that many alien civilizations are fighting Space God because he's a total Space Dick to them, too.
And there's also an even bigger Space God who's more of a Space God than Space Dick God or Space Satan except we can't comprehend him so he basically doesn't matter at all.
The last bit of the book is then about other horrible dimensions and how we can go there to die horribly or to discover that anyone who tries to stand out in society is probably a rapist, nazi or other horrible person.
Or, as the book decides to call them, "Near-Cuil Realms."
Now, I'll be fair and say that these other dimensions are probably the least mockable parts of the game... and therefore also the least statted and described parts of the game in any way, thus rendering them more or less unusable for any GM who doesn't want to write half of his own game. Mostly the game seems to suggest that you can dive into one, and then come out somewhere else on our side, using them to essentially teleport places. Unfortunately it has no rules for this whatsoever, and we now know we've got FTL travel in the real world. It also suggests that GREAT KNOWLEDGE can be brought back from these places... unfortunately this seems doubtful since their vastly different physical rules means that anything neat that exists in them probably can't even exist on our side.
Bright side? They do get some of the book's only seriously good art.
Like, check that shit, that could be on a Magic: the Gathering card or in Endless Space/Legend and I wouldn't bat an eye. It looks fucking sweet.
Travelling to them either involves being psychic and unlucky(like if you try to teleport immediately before getting hit by an object you may, GM fiat, end up in Vesper instead. Using certain powers while drowning may dunk you in Stifle, etc.), or being friends with TTI and actually asking to be allowed to go places.
So what other dimensions can you go to, anyway? Let's list them off.
Vesper is basically Xen from Halflife, really far to fall, weird geography that's disjointed and you can see celestial phenomena everywhere in the sky like there's no real intervening distance. Mostly chill and the wildlife generally doesn't give a shit about you. However, Whispers here explode from water rather than blood, including any water you're carrying, and any water in you, making them much spookier. Also Space God's orcas can fly here, making them pretty scary. Or they would be if any of the fucking books ever statted them. You useless chodes.
Super-pretty place where everything's sharp and jagged, like it's made from gems or obsidian, where light is solid(meaning it can be used for PUZZLE PHYSICS like making bridges and stuff), and where everything is out to kill you. Except none of the local monsters are statted. Also all your gear is useless and only if you're unarmoured and unarmoured can you employ the mystical space talent of yelling your opponents to death with imagination. Whispers here manifest out of the sounds you make, stealing your voice and using it to attack you and your friends with. That sounds like a Far Wyld encounter from Exalted rather than something out of HSD, and equally as impossible to actually stat or GM except as an extended description where you hand-wave and rule-zero what happens all the time because the book doesn't fucking suggest much of anything.
What happens once Space Satan or Space God finishes eating a dimension, presumably. Everything's so destroyed and uniform that even the local laws of physics have collapsed, to the point where distance, space, time and even aggression largely have no meaning. This makes Stifle a very safe place(assuming you have the one Space Magic power that allows you to actually exist there, otherwise you just... cease), and a good place for first-contact scenarios since no one can attack each other. Unfortunately it also means that if something does want to attack you, it just needs to stalk you until you go home, then it can pop into our reality after you've gone to bed and eat your eyeballs.
Going to VAST basically just means you teleport really far except VAST also reads your mind and puts you near something you really want. For some reason the game implies this is often going to be somewhere fatal without very specific protective gear(like between-galaxies deep space, the inner atmosphere of a star, etc.), though I doubt most people want to go there and I don't understand why the GM would want to TPK everyone with that. It seems to only mention as an afterthought that it might put you to hang out with the furries' artificial gods for a bit or on a safe, more-or-less terran planet or in the presence of sapient aliens.
Or it could probably just drop you near some donuts if you're feeling really hungry.
WRITHE feels like it's out of Kult for multiple reasons, including how it's just thrown in there as "A COOL ALIEN LOCATION" and then a great big shrug and "I DUNNO" when you ask what you can/should do with it.
Basically it's a GOTHIC CITY where the streets are crammed with miserable, naked bodies just pointlessly squirming along and rolling over each other. Any time any of them try to escape, they're pulled down by the others. The few escapees roaming about are glowing and ethereal beings of colour and beauty. Also there are giant spiders maintaining the city which is also full of cruel machinery, the giant spiders may try to eat you. So anyway, all the naked bodies are the subconsciousnesses of all the furries around(and possibly other sapient beings in other parts of the universe), and the city is a metaphor for SOCIETY'S RULES AND CONSTRAINTS. And all the GLOWING MAGICAL BEINGS who escape/try to escape the press of CONFORMITY might be creative wonders or more likely they're just rapists, genocidal idiots, plans for weapons of mass destruction or plots for ruling the world. So you shouldn't help them escape if you're visiting, in fact you should kick them back into the sprawl for everyone's sake.
The terrain in Writhe is beautiful, but in a gothic, foreboding sort of way. The buildings and structures represent ideals of society, but are in turn feeding the squirm by virtue of their existence. As a result, they appear as a sort of techno-organic hybrid structure, alive and dead at once, with beautiful sculpting and detail but threatening posture. Divers have described them as “the monster we live in, stripped of its veneer, so that you can actually see its teeth and claws as it eats us each day.”
Fuck off you pretentious sacks of fursuiting shit.
Guess I'm finally done with this game until they release HSD 2nd Edition, Advanced HSD or another fucking deepest lore book.
I'm sorry you had to suffer with me.