- 1 Welcome to Fomalhaut
- 2 The Fomalhaut System
- 3 Politics of Fomalhaut
- 4 Technical Briefing
- 5 Constructing a character
- 6 FAQ
Welcome to Fomalhaut
Humanity came to Fomalhaut more than thirty thousand years ago, attracted by the vast amount of circumstellar material and readily available energy. Over the millenia ever-vaster projects consumed Fomalhaut's resources as human technology reached incredible peaks. Megastructures were built, planets were aggregated while others were dissasembled and civilization expanded. More than one vast upload philosophy or devastating conflict saw humanity reduced to tiny scattered enclaves, only to expand outward again. And through it all, the vast machinery of construction grew ever more complex, ever more diverse, ever more enigmatic.
Today, in the year 825 SDE (Standard Dating Era), or 37,492 AD (or possibly 34,688 AD, or some time between 35,300 and 36,900 - records are unclear), the Fomalhaut system is a wild and lightly-populated place after the closure of the Great Complex eight centuries ago and the retreat of >99.9% of the population to virtual realms or long-term storage. The Web is all that remains, a network of in-system wormholes punched through space-time millenia ago and allowing travel between almost all major parts of the system. This links together the hundreds of polities large and small that fill the system.
Humanity in 825 SDE has came a long way from its primate roots back in Old Earth, though at the same time the diversity of the survivors, refuseniks, hiders and throwbacks means that what is properly termed metahumanity can range from people barely changed from those that originated on Earth to psions to strong transhumans to machines in the semblance of man.
The Fomalhaut System
Fomalhaut is amply blessed with planetary bodies, a few of which have been built up by the accretion, the rest naturally formed over the past hundred million years. None were of course remotely habitable, but after tens of thousands of years of megaconstruction, geomanipulation and terraforming a number of major bodies are now habitable by base-format humans. Hundreds of moons also fill the Fomalhaut system, many of which are little more than slag heaps from various industrial processes, a few others also having being habiformed.
- Semi-major axis: 1.1 AU
- Mass: small
- Semi-major axis: 2.3 AU
- Mass: small
- Semi-major axis: 2.9 AU
- Mass: small
- Semi-major axis: 4.2 AU
- Mass: 0.9 jupiter
- Irradiation: Earthlike
- Semi-major axis: 6.7 AU
- Mass: Earth
- Irradiation: Marslike
- Semi-major axis: 11.9 AU
- Mass: ice giant
- Semi-major axis: 18.5 AU
- Mass: ice giant
- Irradiation: Jupiterlike
- Semi-major axis: 29.1 AU
- Mass: 0.2 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 35 AU
- Mass: small
- Semi-major axis: 39 AU
- Mass: small
- Semi-major axis: 53 AU
- Mass: 27 jupiter (brown dwarf)
- Semi-major axis: 68 AU
- Mass: 1.2 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 77 AU
- Mass: 0.2 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 83 AU
- Mass: 0.3 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 92 AU
- Mass: 0.4 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 102 AU
- Mass: 0.3 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 115 AU
- Mass: 1.7 jupiter
- Semi-major axis: 861 AU
- Mass: 19.8 jupiter (brown dwarf)
In addition to the various inhabited celestial bodies, Fomalhaut's orbital space is full of megastructures, both habitable and inhospitable. Some date back thirty millenia to the very dawn of the colonization of Fomalhaut, others still glow with the residual heat of their formation. Dozens of distinct architectural, aesthetic and technological styles can be recognized by even the casual bystander. Many of them exist for industrial purposes, part of the vast and poorly-understood machinery that is slowly turning all of the Fomalhaut system into a single techno-civilization artifact. A list of some of the more common industrial (mega)structures follows.
- Matrioshka Node:
- Power Collection Array:
- Asteroid/Comet Smelter:
- Material Processing Construct:
- Fabrication Farm:
- Megastructural Construction Site:
- Advanced Physics Site:
- Drone Hive:
Many of these are dangerous for passerbys simply due to the large amount of free energy or discordant physical effects in their vicinity and travellers are warned to keep their distance and show caution. A few underlay habitable structures, providing a 'bedrock' for organic-friendly development. Out of habitable megastructures, four broad types exist.
- Enclosed: A fairly typical enclosed space, ranging from the classic spin-gravity O'Neil cylinder to complexly 3-dimensional bubblecities and 'starscrapers' . The simplest of these - O'Neil cylinders and bubblecities - require relatively minimal techno-industrial ability and no exotic materials. By constrast starscrapers require gravity-modulation equipment to provide interior environments. Out of these, O'Neil cylinders are the largest with a general lower cutoff of ~20km on the long axis, while bubblecities and starscrapers grade down to conventional 'space stations'.
- Pseudo-Planetoidal: These are essentially artificial planetoids; some may be partially hollow with an outer shell of hyperstructural alloy covering inner machinery, while others are solid, typically homogenous silicate or ferric slag. In both cases they use gravity-modulation techniques to give comfortable surface gravity and the means to maintain a breathable atmosphere.
- Planar Stack: Often simply called 'plates', planar stacks are one of the most common habitable megastructures in Fomalhaut. Essentially a hyperstructural base plate with a fixed-definition gravity plane they act more or less like a piece of planetary continent set loose in space. Most spin to provide day-night cycles.
- Ring: The largest permanently habitable structures, Rings are large hyperstructural hoops, anywhere from 1000 to over 12,000 km in diameter that generate surface gravity via physical rotation.
Politics of Fomalhaut
The Duel Resolution Courts
It has been tradition for more than a millenia for intractable disputes in the Mid-Belt to be resolved though duels, a tradition that extends from individuals up to megacorps and nations. On the high level the chosen champions are typically Avatar pilots and their machines, fighting for the honor of their chosen flag or employer. All are accorded celebrity status and matches between popular champions can stir up as many disputes as they solve.
Opponents of the whole dueling ethos argue that the culture of 'letting the duel seal it' keeps genuine consensus being reached and legitimate grievances being properly dealt with. Those in favor reply that the duels have proven to be an excellent way of keeping humanity's natural aggression in check and the Mid-Belt has overall seen far less outright conflicts than other regions.
So far, those in favor have been in ascendance since the Maangardin Invasion.
The Loop Administration is the supranational body that administers and manages the Web, the wormholes that connect dozens of different major gravitated zones. Apolitical by necessity the Loop Admin acts as a go-between for various states. As well it maintains various treaties allowing its agents to cross borders in order to pursue criminals and outlaws, acting as an international police force.
Giant robots woo!
The logical endpoint of mobile frame development, Avatars are essentially what happens when the entire output of a nanogauge tap is channeled to a single mobile suit. The resulting power output allows them to carry exceedingly powerful weapons and load extra layers of armor and defenses. Like most mobile frames an Avatar is archetypically a humanoid approximately 16-19 meters tall, though they can look like almost anything. As Avatars are relatively rare, the majority are unique designs, customized to their pilot's preferences and loaded with appropriate equipment. Avatars typically mass 650-750 tons, though 2/3rd of that is the nanogauge tap itself.
By far the most important and costly (isofar as 'cost' has a meaning in an era of ubiquitous industry and fabber formatting) part of an Avatar is the nanogauge tap itself. This is typically connected to the pilot's escape pod, allowing the two most vital parts of the Avatar to escape in case of catastrophic damage. The rest of the Avatar can be replaced relatively easily.
Avatar Support Frigate
Frigates are the norm for Avatar transport, relatively small ships that are basically not substantially more than a spin generator, a handful of (normally two) Avatar bays with associated support machinery and then crew quarters and miscellaneous cargo. Not designed for any form of heavy combat, frigates mostly rely on their scattering fields to survive hostile action, though some mount long-range beam cannons for supporting fire. A typical frigate will be about 100-140 meters long and have a non-singularity mass of ~15-20,000 tons - the singularity proper will have a relativistic mass of over a million tons, and be able to stabilize two nanogauge taps.
Spin Generators and Nanogauge Taps
The technology that makes Avatars possible, the heart of spin generators are micro-singularities rotating at relativistic speeds. These allow for the near-perfect conversion of matter into energy by bleeding off rotation to generate electricity as well as the conversion of energy into momentum and thus thrust. They also allow for the stabilization of one or more nanogauge wormhole taps which can be used to send immense amounts of energy 'wirelessly' to a recipient. While the downstream side of a nanogauge tap typically masses about 500 tons of mostly hyperdense machinery and exotic matter, their power density still gives them a stunning edge over far lighter combat frames using normal fusion power plants.
The singularities inside spin generators are created in the ancient machinery that lurks near Fomalhaut, powered by vast, million-kilometer expanses of energy-absorbing panels. Generated inside Hawking knots and then steadily spun to massively relativistic speeds they can eventually be transferred into portable containment vessels and then on to spaceships or fixed generating plants.
A typical spin generators can only stabilize two nanogauge wormholes, leading to the common limit of two Avatars per frigate or two subsidiary towns per city. More complex and expensive generators can stabilize more, but this is generally only done on military warships.
Most spin generators are protected by a snarlspace layer which provides extensive protection against most weapons or physical impacts and ensures that their continued stability even if the hosting structure or vehicle is destroyed. This is particularly critical for military spin generators as a decontained singularity will explosively disintigrate; even if most of the mass-energy of a singularity ends up gravity waves or neutrinos, being on the same continent as a spin generator explosively loosing a million tons of relativistic mass into energy is generally not conducive to continued health. Thankfully few weapons short of contact antimatter bursts, gigascale kinetic/energy impacts or coherent-gravity weapons can cause catastrophic failure of a spin generator protected by a snarlspace envelope.
The peculiar dynamics of spin generators and Avatars has led to a continued push-and-pull between proponents of traditional military organization and those who support the primacy of Avatars as the decisive tool in moderate and high intensity warfare. The relative position of each has see-sawed for centuries until the Maangardin Invasion. The decimation of many state militaries during the conflict and the flood of spin generators and Avatars entering private hands during and afterwards has decisively tiled the debate into the Avatar camp.
Thousands of these powerful weapons ended up in the hands of civilians, PMCs or other non-state actors and quickly became the dominant arbitrators of military actions. Within a decade or two governments had embraced this and Avatars-for-hire became a common item in budgets. Of course the military establishments who ultimately suffered substantial loss of prestige, mindshare and budget were far from pleased with this turn of events but had little ability to seriously compete.
Of course Avatars can't be everywhere at once and even the top five most powerful nations have less than a hundred Avatars each - private and national together. Military forces of a more conventional bent are necessary for inglamorous but vital tasks, with Avatars retained for critical and dangerous operations.
The slant towards small, powerful forces embodied in Avatars and the preponderance of mercenaries has also pushed many nations to embrace the philosophies of the Duel Resolution Courts. Some see this as a positive step towards eliminating war or at least limiting its damages to the barest minimum. Others see it as a worrying centralization of military power in a select few, many of whom owe no allegiance to any flag or idea.
For centuries dreadnoughts were seen as the final arbitrers of conflict in space, immensely powerful warships built around a heavy spin generator. Protected by both thick armor and powerful forcefields they could absorb immense amounts of fire and with arsenals of energy and kinetic weapons they could devastate anything short of another dreadnought. The rare clashes between these warcraft entered popular mythology.
Unfortunately they were priority targets during the Maangardin Invasion and many were wrecked, sometimes irrepairably so by the invader's weapons. Of greatest danger were Maangardin Singuns, pocket singularities that were fired like bullets and could punch right through scattering fields and shred almost any conceivable thickness of armor before exploding in a final blast of energy and gravity waves. Despite accruing fearsome kill tallies the fleets of dreadnoughts in Fomalhaut - never large at the best of times - was severely attrited.
Today dreadnoughts have a certain romanticism about them, relics of different days. Only a relative handful still serve, often because it would only be somewhat less expensive to mothball the self-maintaining spacecraft.
Famous Units and Pilots
The 'White Devil' piloted by Navelle Tenc Na'dam
One of the more iconic Avatars-and-pilot combo, the so-called White Devil is the star of the Loop Administration enforcement division. A powerful, sophisticated twin-tap machine piloted by the veteran (and photogenic) Navelle, the pair has been involved in most of the high-profile missions that the LAED has undertaken.
AI-driven super robot
Concept-V 24-24 EX
An immense, almost incomparably powerful super robot, the Concept-V is over two thousand standard years old, a mobile weapon built by the Outer Fal-Riod Consenuity for the Second Algedi Intervention. The black machine stands approximately 160 meters tall, and clad in immensely thick dense-pack armor it masses more than a dreadnought. The primary armament of the Concept-V is a chest-mounted 4m bore mass accelerator, capable of firing 750 ton ferric slugs at extreme velocities and to devastating effect. Its defenses are equally mammoth; in addition to multiple meters of dense-pack armor it was capable of generating an almost impenetrable inertial field. All this would have been impossible without a multi-megaton spin singularity - reliable estimates from the Maangardin Invasion measured a relativistic mass of at least six million tons, more than any dreadnought of the era.
The only known Concept-V - an obscure weapon rendered obselete by continued war development for the Third Algedi Intervention and known only from fragmentary records - made a surprise appearance during the Maangardin Invasion of 771 and over the span of fourteen weeks proceeded to demolish the offensive fleet and several subsumed megastructural factories, vanishing afterwards. Despite intensive efforts, no trace of the machine or its unknown pilot have since been uncovered, to the relief of military planners across Fomalhaut.
Constructing a character
Character construction is fairly simple; choose one archetype from each field (Character background, Piloting style, Machine design, Special) to get a general feel for the character. Armed with this, you can build up a character bio.
- Fell Into The Cockpit: By some improbable series of events you found yourself in the cockpit of an Avatar which immediately imprinted upon you. Luckily your innate piloting skills and the complex encryption of an Avatar's control system were sufficient that the powers that be didn't totally turf your ass out.
- Inheritance: You are the heir to an Avatar, perhaps as the first son (or daughter) of the family, favored/final student of your master, so on. It's probably been in your family (or whatever) for generations. Don't screw it up!
- Prodigy: You're probably relatively young or otherwise new at piloting an Avatar and are really good at it.
- Supersoldier: You're the result of some experiment (be it military or private) to make the ultimate Avatar pilot.
- Ascended Mook: Years of pushing around regular combat frames has finally landed you a prestigious position piloting an Avatar. While, like all Avatar pilots, you have a lot of leeway, you're still answerable to the brass.
- Indiana Jones: You managed to find an ancient, still-functioning Spin Generator (the expensive part) and built a giant robot to go with it (the cheap part), proceeding to make a living as an Avatar pilot for hire.
- Gundamjack: Someone left the keys in the ignition. Generally this requires some amount of preparation, as the power being fed to a nanogauge tap can be cut off at the source.
- Ace: You're a consummate pilot with a good amount of 'stick' (nobody's used joysticks for thirty thousand years!) time under your belt. No real strengths beyond your professionalism, but no weaknesses either.
- Hot Blood: CHARGE! Last one into the fight's a sucker! Common among baselines and others who need to make up for being qualitatively inferior with stubbornness and guts.
- Technician: Technique is everything. You've got holes in your skillset, but what you're good at, you're really good at.
- Duelist: You specialize in one-on-one engagements, skills honed by time in the Duel Resolution Courts.
- Psion: You are one of the minority with strong and militarily useful quantum brain activity.
- Prince Ali: You are the master of dirty tricks and surprising strategems. You're not necessarily all that hot in a fair fight though, which is why you always try to make it an unfair fight.
- Leader: You focus on the big picture and can intuit or discern the enemy's intentions, moving your forces to counter them. Of course you're probably too busy to pay attention to mundane things like those enemy suits trying to stab you.
- Balanced: Your machine is probably a military design, meant for all-environment all-situation engagements. Rugged, dependable, but kinda unexciting.
- Command Armor: Your machine is fairly weedy in base format, but specifically designed to carry various mission packs and other doodads. Very flexible but surprise situations can be problematic, and of course you'll never be as good as a purpose-designed unit. Another popular military design ethos.
- Midseason Ugly: Your machine has some sort of theme and/or gimmick and probably looks rather distorted and weird. It suits you though, and it's undeniably effective.
- Mighty Fortress: While hanging an extra ten tons off a 500 ton nanogauge wormhole tap won't make much of a difference to machine performance, you go whole-hog and cram on enough armor, shields and weapons to meaningfully slow your machine down.
- All Range Attacker: The main weapons on your machine are remotely-controlled weapons. While this has some strong advantages, it makes disarming you a very likely possibility.
- Electronic Warrior: Complex and powerful electronic gear fills your machine, giving it a potent electronic warfare ability. However all those sensor domes and ECM pods and cloaking fields get in the way of weapons and defenses.
- Mass Production: Popular among militaries that prefer to split the output of Spin Generators among more units to give greater tactical options, this decreases the power of a single unit but lets you have additional wingmen.
- Super Robot: A few of these monster machines, 40-50 meters tall wander space, powered by integral Spin Generators. This frees them entirely from reliance on a mothership's nanogauge wormhole taps and lets the designer (often irascible and mysterious old men with large beards for reasons unknown) cram on huge weapons and defenses. And you get to drive it. (requires Spin Generator in Special)
- Clout: You are someone. People know you and you can generally summon generalized help via story.
- Master: You are just such an awesome pilot that you can select a second Piloting Style and add its strength to your current one. If you're this good you should probably either be teaching an apprentice or be a bad guy.
- Silicon Being: You're a machine that happens to look and act like a human, or a human that's replaced so much of your body with machinery that the difference is academic. Either way you can stand stresses would kill a normal transhuman and can easily control your Avatar via direct neural induction with uncanny fluidity.
- Easy To Modify: Your machine is particularly simple or just amazingly well designed from a maintenance and construction standpoint. While this tends to keep it from being a top-tier competitor, you can tear it down and totally change its outfit in no time flat and even fab a new copy very quickly. In practice you can swap your machine between any of the Machine Design configurations with the exception of Command Armor, Mass Production (unless it's also Mass Production) and Super Robot.
- Glowing Lines: Your machine is built with a large amount of omega dust components, letting you cram in particularly potent systems like vector launchers, fold storage, etc. Unfortunately this makes it especially difficult to repair or, worse yet, replace due to the relative cost/rarity of Omega Dust. Better stock up when you can.
- Heirloom: Your machine's quantum-DRM'ed faber pattern was programmed in some antideluvian time, even though the current machine might not be the original one built. Designed with some serious overtechnology it's filled with black boxes. While not necessarily as bleeding-edge as those Glowing Line monsters, it's also much easier to maintain and rebuild.
- Twin Tap: Your machine is a step up from the competition, having two synchronized nanogauge wormhole taps. Power overwhelming! The downside is that you've got both taps on your frigate tied up in one machine, so unless you've got a heavier Spin Generator you won't have a wingman. Note that escape systems remain standard, so loosing your machine will force you use a monotap machine until a second tap can be built.
- Spin Generator: Somewhere along the way you've acquired a subcompact Spin Generator with a relativistic spin mass of only 80-100,000 tons or so, perfect for fitting into a Super Robot. (Enables Super Robot in Machine Design)
- Assault Ship: Your frigate has evolved into an assault ship, meaning it has enhanced offensive and defensive systems and can also support twice as many Avatars.
- Why no 'speedy' option for machines? Because nanogauge taps have very high minimum masses (400+ tons) so building your actual robot out of hyperlight alloys and oversized boosters isn't actually going to give you nearly enough added performance to make the penalties to everything else worthwhile. High-speed intercept is generally done by battery-powered craft.
- Is there any difference between playing a baseline and a transhuman? Purely roleplaying. The only exception is turning yourself into a Silicon Being.
- Does X Picture look appropriate? Avatars can look like almost anything, just keep in mind that by and large this is quite high-tech setting. Unless you're deliberately going for retro styling something like a Zaku is going to look pretty clunky and out of place.
- Ok, so what is appropriate? Xenosaga, Zone of the Enders and other sleek, futuristic designs can be assumed as the norm.
- Does my Avatar need feet? Feet are entirely optional.
- Can I have a battlemech? Jesus wept.
- Can I play a furry? Jesus wept.