Temple Builders , Elder corruption in Gamemasters Corner, Adventures & Plots
uncle_jimbo Jul 27 2016, 11:11 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
I've tried to keep another thread aligned to the published Star*Drive setting as much as possible, as a useful bridging device between many pieces of work. My ideas for a group mentioned there are likely to do a greater degree of violence to the tone of the setting, so I'll carefully note them here as a variant campaign.

The ancient (or Ancient) Temple Builders, then, could just as well be called Shrine Builders, in the serial killer sense. They were a degenerate cult of the fringe worlds of their species at best. Even a shrine built with PL 8 technology, though, was to become impressive to early explorers of younger civilisations, and a genuinely fearsome core to their blasphemies would play a key role in the mysterious downfall of the polity from which they bloomed, and many since.

Thanos, the Plague-Pit

This near-dead world, unguessed of by humanity, though recorded and shunned by certain Elder species, orbits a black hole far from the galactic plane that was once one of the last stellar bodies that could sustain Primordial existence. edit: Some simple and greatly mutated lifeforms still move occasionally on the surface.

A crypt of several individuals was looted eons ago, taking organic remains, jewellery of strange metals (which didn't last long) and a certain device (which did), but the cult may have left behind viable technology embedded in the walls.

Eidolos, the Eye in the Dust

This cybernetic sense organ, only in the loosest sense a visual sensor, survived its bearer's dissolution and, deplorably, still stored a last transmission of its indescribable culture. Attached to one of the leaders of the expedition, the Eye passed its poisonous concepts to a younger universe.

Acheron, the River of Woe

The thoughts of Primordials still might have remained an incomprehensible jumble or a minor academic curiosity, were it not for an obscure contamination at sub-viral level that infests all current living things in this arm of the galaxy, through a diffuse molecular cloud of particles spread to invisibility where the Primordials' ancient dwarf galaxy was absorbed into our own. The Acheron sequences become active still, under the influence of the dread signals, warping bodies and minds.

Temples (of Doom)

It raises questions if at least two species of at best early interstellar technology (thus, not spreading across a wide area) came across separate Temple Builder remains. Either they built a lot of temples, which would have effects on the setting that aren't apparent, or they had a great attraction to Class 1 worlds with strong potential to develop intelligent life. If their species was aquatic and none too tolerant even of heightened salinity, the latter might well be true.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Aug 7 2016, 07:36
uncle_jimbo Jul 28 2016, 10:14 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Though I haven't read it, an often useful source suggests as an interesting model of mad and insidious cultists in a variety of settings:

Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos


(I'm curious about the title and recent similar publications. I used the phrase elsewhere some time ago without really describing what I meant by it - no doubt a coincidence.)
uncle_jimbo Aug 7 2016, 07:33 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Jul 27 2016, 22:11)
Eidolos, the Eye in the Dust

This cybernetic sense organ, only in the loosest sense a visual sensor, survived its bearer's dissolution

That is to say, its original bearer may have been partly intact when found, but the cultist who was first unwise enough to install the organ in itself has long since perished, in the grocery sense.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Aug 14 2016, 07:24
uncle_jimbo Sep 12 2016, 21:46 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Jul 24 2016, 21:54)
"Too plastic and primitive to mature or to die," he continues, "These polypous beings must have become as huge and old and unique as mountains. Imagine the physicality of such a creature, the mechanical necessities of such an existence. Muscles like carbon-fibre cables. Bones like spars of neutronite. Fat like a thousand crocks of lard that have boiled and stunk for a thousand years!"

From another blog Derek mentioned, I should find some use for this:

Star Beast Gravelands

However, half a mile? Pish.
uncle_jimbo Oct 1 2016, 21:30 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Sep 13 2016, 08:46)
From another blog Derek mentioned, I should find some use for this:

Star Beast Gravelands

I've made some use of the concept above and here's another:

Star Jewel Sands of Noctaris

Noctaris is a hellhole, adrift in the otherwise sparse stars of Tartarus Rift on the Orion Frontier. Its ground is bone-dry, lifeless sand and gravel, Antarctic cold and bathed in irregular blasts of radiation from its moribund sun. The atmosphere is a refractory shimmer of mostly argon with multi-coloured streamers of neon for weather.

Explorers disagree about the source and nature of the translucent, bilious-coloured shards scattered on the surface, theorising meteoric falls of one or more immense carcasses, a derelict space-fleet of biotechnological vessels or objects carved by an alien race (but where would they have got their unusual material?) The most prized pieces retain organic curves or ripples on one side, whether from the original surface of their parent object or the heat of descent.

The only inhabitants of the surface are bands of vicious enforcers of scavenger cartels in giant constantly moving crawler-hulks propelled by tracks or multiple legs, pressing physical labour from an indentured workforce herded onto ships from some of the desperately poor surrounding colonies.

Cartel initiates affect a mystical stance, partly bravado but obscurely encouraged by the utter isolation, bizarre landscape and strange nature of their products, following various beliefs and ritual systems venerating death, chaos and occult transformation. Many honour their spirits with tattoos and scarification. Worked with improvised needles and inks by semi-crazed gang members in the sweaty, dim interiors of rusting industrial contraptions, Noctaris tatts are distinctive. Cartel members and those they deal with easily spot a fake.

(More work to do on the cartels)

Local Galactic Concord forces follow unclear and shifting policies towards the goings-on at Noctaris, perplexed by a lack of clear jurisdiction, resources or mandate, and most often, ignore the place as much as they can. Naval officers and colonial officials impatient with this stance have formed a conspiracy called the Enough is Enough Brigade, more colloquially the Brigade or the EE, making unsanctioned and brutal raids to discourage traffic in and around the Noctaris system.

Brigade members can co-opt Star Force drivespace detector tracking, drivespace communications and intelligence transcripts, but have limited ability to direct actual military forces. Their most audacious act diverted a Concord light cruiser for a "live fire exercise" dropping mass-reaction fire on a previous set of cartels bold enough to set up fixed compounds on the surface, failing to end the trade but driving the evolution of a new generation, far more isolated, more paranoid and constantly mobile. Otherwise, the EE has managed to "lose" a destroyer, a few other light ships and a select force of hardened killers who now lurk about nearby systems, occasionally dropping in on ghost visits to sympathetic bases for supplies.

The Bourse of Simon

This exclusive group of elegant, highly educated and icy-hearted people circulate between different locations in the stellar nations, gathering in purpose-fitted display rooms in private mansions and well-known institutions that combine the qualities of a jeweller's showroom, an art gallery and a morgue. They negotiate trades in many commodities of small volume, extreme value and lack of ethical scruples, including cultural artifacts, colostrum, war medical supplies futures, but most often and most lucratively, in relics, such as live idols from the T'sa Cluster, flasks of multi-coloured slime from Aurigar's Ring of Frozen Blood and Noctaris gems.

They are not easily fooled by fakes, nor do they verify any supposed extraordinary properties of their goods. Let the buyer beware.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Nov 25 2017, 07:11
uncle_jimbo Oct 1 2016, 22:01 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Oct 2 2016, 08:30)
More work to do on the cartels

Off planet, I should mention their barracudas, purpose-built high-powered and extremely fast light transports, most used to run packages past any interdiction but some armed with highly illegal missiles against anyone who tries to stop or hijack deliveries.
uncle_jimbo Oct 27 2016, 07:39 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
I've picked up Pierre Comtois's collection Goat Mother and Others. "The Legacy of Acheron" has a lot of similarities in themes, though not a direct connection.
uncle_jimbo Nov 4 2016, 11:49 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Jul 24 2016, 21:54)
I had a thought that the cover of our own Gamemaster Guide might show one of the holographic images made by the Temple Builders, a culture almost as legendary, though not as old, as the Primordials (but, despite Dr. Gilman's enthusiasm, more like Whateleys or Castros than Hyperboreans, and hardly accurate). For scale, the creature encased in the sceptre could be a Poseidonian, and they were whale-sized (as far as anyone knows, or at least their Minotaur clients were).

I've described Poseidonians elsewhere, probably with about as much clarity and certainty as I want to, at this point. It suggests that if any of these Temples still exists, it might be disturbingly large and possibly deep underwater - Gilman's "cenotes" on a much larger scale than he seems to envisage. With PL 7 technology, that could give an encounter quite a different flavour.
uncle_jimbo Nov 12 2016, 06:45 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Nov 4 2016, 22:49)
It suggests that if any of these Temples still exists, it might be disturbingly large and possibly deep underwater - Gilman's "cenotes" on a much larger scale than he seems to envisage. With PL 7 technology, that could give an encounter quite a different flavour.

Exploring such a place will require some special preparation, planning and investment.

How fortunate that a research institute has already developed the necessary vehicles, equipment and training for underwater archaeology, intended for significant locations drowned by sea-level fluctuations of Earth, both prehistoric and that of the 21st century. The Manhome Institute of Sapphire (it's a theft, but one that's already recognisable from several other settings) seeks knowledge of the human species' past in this, and other inhospitable locations, such as abandoned Fusion Age facilities in the Solar System and early out-system colonies of Old Space. Sometimes they delve up records and bodies that many would prefer stayed forgotten, filling the Solar Grid channels with talk of "Freespace arrogance" and even of desecration.

The Institute may or may not be bankrolled and influenced by members of the Bourse of Simon, playing a long game to put assets in place to exploit any partly-intact Temple that may turn up.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Nov 12 2016, 06:45
uncle_jimbo Dec 8 2016, 20:54 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Jul 27 2016, 22:11)
Acheron, the River of Woe

The thoughts of Primordials still might have remained an incomprehensible jumble or a minor academic curiosity, were it not for an obscure contamination at sub-viral level that infests all current living things in this arm of the galaxy, through a diffuse molecular cloud of particles spread to invisibility where the Primordials' ancient dwarf galaxy was absorbed into our own. The Acheron sequences become active still, under the influence of the dread signals, warping bodies and minds.

This is an interesting reminder (along with some others I've mentioned in context of interstellar phenomena), though in a way not surprising:

Cosmic dust identified from city rooftops
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