Crowdsourcing Content for a Sci-Fi Loom

Hi all, I’m busy typing away at my Sci-Fi/Horror hack of Trophy Gold, which is going to have a built in setting. I’d really to to build that setting the same way Loom is built, rather than just dropping an info bomb, but it’s a lot of creativity all at once, so I thought I’d tap the community to see what other people can come up with. Anything anyone posts that I use will be credited in the game.

Here’s the broad strokes of the setting so that people have an idea what kinds of things and content I’m trying to generate. The setting basically Space Station Bastion and the surrounding system, which is a wasteland of scrap and salvage from a thousand worlds. The system is cut off from the Empire of Man (better name pending) and has to survive by salvaging the surrounding hulks and detritus to keep the lights on. The Station is pretty huge, maybe 100K plus inhabitants. It has a variety of nefarious corporations, who obviously have their own agenda about salvaging and using alien tech. There’s a station government that’s pretty beholden to corporate and union interests, a dockyards and mining operation run by unions of various sorts, a sort of middle class core, and the deeps, which is the home to criminals, cults and other strangeness.

Out in the deep black you have licensed salvage crews, corporate crews, explorers, and all manner of outcasts all fighting over the best salvage. The setting is deliberately open about exactly what kind of alien presence the PCs might find, although the default is ‘just about anything’.

As part of the journey rules, and to add some evocative detail to the ‘downtime’, bit I’m going to work the station like something that’s a cross between Hearthfire and Loom. I want a bunch of targeted random tables, and there will be a lot of detail that will be supplied by the players at various stages of the game.

I don’t want to get too specific on content, so generally speaking the categories of Loom content I’m looking to fill are: Corporate Shenanigans; Criminal Stuff; Cults; Organized Labor (Crime?); and the Black, which covers rumors about anything happening off station. In all cases Loom is the template, so evocative bits about characters, organizations, events, whatever. I appreciate any and all suggestions immensely and feel free to wander away from the categories is the mood strikes you.

I don’t know about Loom, but what I like from such worlds (much like ours :wink: ) is to explore their holes ; stories deep parking lots, ducts, mall emergency exits, you get the picture.

Is there such a thing of Empire of Man? Where’s the evidence for its existence? True, physical evidence…not just deepfake videos? “The corporations and unions say so”? You know how easy it is for demagogues to to create false narratives and misinformation. Truth is, the corporations and unions have no idea of where Space Station Bastion came from, but they dare not admit their ignorance. Might as well blame it all on some imaginary Empire.

Ah, but I know. I’ve seen the clone vats that the machines use to manufacture people, complete with false memories. The truth is Space Station Bastion is an R&D lab, built by a powerful AI, who want to conduct “social experiments” on us. And when one experiment is finished, they’ll purge us all, and then release the next batch of colonists.

Overthrow the AI overlords? Nah, we tried that in the last few iterations. Doesn’t work. No, what we need to do is to figure out what results our overlords want in this iteration, and then carry it out to the letter. That avoid their attention, at least long enough for us to plot an escape plan. If you want to know more, go to the Deeps. Ask for the “Bastion Historical Research Society”. You’ll find us.

Be careful when associating with us. They will denounce you as a conspiracy theorist. They seek to isolate you and dismiss you as a fringe lunatic. Ignore them. This social experiment is about to end pretty soon, and our opponents will be the first to be purged by the AI overlords that lurk within the corridors. Let’s hope to be the last.

Keep in mind that the “Bastion Historical Research Society” has no real evidence to prove their allegations, so they may not necessarily be a reliable source here.

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That’s awesome, thanks! I was thinking about apocalyptic cults and conspiracy theories as a way to gain some separation for the setting anyway. Now I just need 96 more to fill out even my shortest rumor template.

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I have no idea what this loom is. Google gets me either a card-based RPG story telling game it seems like, or a computer game I think.

Check it out at the Drivethur link here: here Here’s a couple of pics to give you a general feel.

and a taste of one of the sets of tables. It’s dark and super evocative throughout.

image

So my general goal is to produce something like this for a dark Sci-Fi setting.

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Ah, nice. I guess figure out some factions and themes you want to have come up in these tables. Let’s see, what do I think is a good faction for dark sci-fi?

I like a sort of post-human faction, where people make a stark distinction between their identity/self and their body.

This consist mainly of androids who modify their bodies, sometimes in strange and terrifying ways, muddling the line between what is considered a man or a monster.

Or they might have found a way to link multiple bodies to their one consciousness, being little hive-minds with multiple bodies running around.

Or some of them might just be tired of their body and try and find a way to upload their consciousness to whatever type of digital cyberspace, living without a body, either temporarily or permanently.

So to link back to the OP and maybe expand a little, here we go. I wrote the trash of a thousand cultures background specifically to keep the game open to pretty much any kind of alien hulk exploration game people could devise. It could be anything from an alien of the week approach to a humancentric approach with only hints of xenos presence to start. The dark bit comes from the (somewhat inevitable) decline of the home stations in the face of materiel shortages set next to alien horror exploration as the core play loop. So to link this back to the rumors, I want to hint and suggest rather than slug people in the chops.

The station has shady corporations, shaky and corrupt government, illicit xeno-based experimentation, apocalyptic cults, handsy blue collar unions, a vaguely medieval concept of ship ownership, and the equivalent of letters of marque that govern salvage operations. There’s a lot of room there for juicy ideas IMO.

Is this like “A ship is a kingdom” or is it something else?

No, the purchase or sale of a ship is illegal and they are only transferrable to legal heirs, Not exactly primogeniture but that’s what first popped into my mind. I wanted an explanation that took into account why all ships weren’t owned by the richest people ( the Corporations in this case). Making the sale of ships illegal actually seemed like a reasonable answer to that problem from a Station government concerned about Corporations buying their way into too much power in the wake of the Gate collapse.

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Well, actually, with such privlege ship owners will surely become become richer :wink:

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Rich? If they’re lucky. Death and taxes are baked into the rules. :grinning:

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Having run the Free League Alien game and bought everything I could for Mothership - and borrowed heavily from the lore of Dead Space for an Impulse Drive game, I’m keen to help out :slight_smile:

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Awesome! I’ll get some more specific categories and examples up in the next day or two. It’s been a busy month for me writing-wise and I’ve been neglecting this thread a little.

I have Trophy Loom (from the kickstarter), but haven’t given it a good read yet. I do remember there are chapters on locations and some on the cosmology as well- explaining the religious infrastructure (the Sisters) that pop up in a few of the Incursions. Something like that might be a good starting point - what types of cosmic horrors tend to occur and so on.

Yup, the format of Loom was going to be my starting point. The Space Station is a more discrete location that the entirety of the TG setting, so I think I can get something good done if I can amass about 90 entries. The roughed out categories are as follows:

The Crust - home to the stations movers and shakers
18 entries - 6 each for the Rich, Government and Corporations

The Core - the stations middle class plus manufacturing, hydroponics, etc
18 Entries - 6 each for Bureaucracy, Maintenance, and Social

The Dockyards - home to Scavenger crews, bars, and shipyards
36 entries (d66) about other crews, Mining ops, aliens and salvage

The Deeps - home to cults, crime and other weirdness
18 entries - cults, underworld, mysteries

Here’s an overview of Bastion station form the WiP:

All the above said, I don’t really care if suggestions fit those categories or not, as they’re only supposed to be the roughest of guides. I’m far more interested in cool evocative content.

Feel free to use, edit or otherwise add the following to your game. I’d appreciate a nod if you do.

The Crust

Fennigan-Swicher Offices: A legal contracts and finance services corporation. If you need something transferred, tagged, retroactively documented, or otherwise made to look legitimate, they can do so. They don’t often take on clients with too many legal entanglements though, so the prices are high, or the favors asked are… unsavory…

The Maillard: Fine dining establishment. The wealthy frequently use their private dining rooms for both business and pleasure. The Maillard’s concierge will purchase foodstuffs at an increased price if their provenance can be clearly documented. Selling illicit, vat-grown, or otherwise inferior product will burn you permanently from their list, so make sure it’s good.

The Core

The Pipes: Rich kids form The Crust and worker kids from The Docks need a place to mix and mingle without their parent’s watchful eyes. Home to tattoo parlors, trendy food stalls and the occasional popup concert, The Pipes is a highly sanitized mockery of The Deeps. The rebellion here is only surface level, and a number of undercover security contractors make sure it stays that way.

The Sluice Gardens: A welcome reprieve in the otherwise dusty and cramped core, the Sluice gardens take the runoff form the hydroponic farms and feed it into an array of nitrifying plants. These public gardens serve as a public space for art and entertainment. An enterprising service worker has even adjusted the lighting to softly fade from warm tones at dusk and dawn to bright blues at mid day. An arrangement of fiber optics lights the night time hours.

The Dockyards

“The Grave Robbers Shovel”: This ship crashed into the docking bays decades ago. Fires broke out and the section was sealed. Between legal salvage challenges, Zero-G equipment being sparse, and a host of other larger problems at the time, the section remains sealed to this day. Most folks have forgotten about it, just another red mark on a status screen, another sealed door, another minor inconvenience.

Blinky’s: Everyone loves Blinky’s doughnuts; the coffee isn’t great, but the prices are good. Crews often stock up on freeze-dried treats before leaving dock. It isn’t uncommon to find a ship out there in the black that has a few floating Blinky’s bags in it. Of course, that may mean someone else is on the ship right now.

The Deeps

Slug Puddle: Slugs harvested, or more likely stolen from the hydroponics farms up above have mutated in some weird and extraordinary ways. The Core scientists say it’s radiation. The Slug Puddle knows it’s selective breeding. Here slugs are bred like racehorses for a viscous hallucinogenic compound that when dried, sells for a good price in The Pipes, if you don’t get caught that is.

The Water Queen: Due to an oddity of Bastion, much of the water flows to the deeps. This means The Crust is in regular need as so many of the pumping facilities have failed, been scavenged for parts, or both. Enter The Water Queen. She sells herself as a go-between, a ‘robin hood’ figure redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom. Anyone who learns of her true upbringing among the stations elite ends up drowning…

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Those are awesome!

I will definitely drop a writing credit for anyone who’s submissions I use (or abuse). If you want credit under something other than your screen name here, lemme know. Edit into your post, tattoo it on your forehead and send me a picture, whatever.

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So all of the following comes from the Samurai Republic of Gizen, a document that I wrote which is licensed under CC-BY. It is fluff for a tabletop RPG (essentially “Eclipse Phase” + “Legend of the Five Rings”) that currently is on the back burner. I might revisit this idea in the future, when I get time.

For now though, I think you might find some more use out of it. Here’s some information from it that I think is most applicable (modified for your concept), but I suggest you browse through the entire document and choose what you like.

Corporations

  • Kan’yō Enterprises: Rather “paternalistic” - wholly dedicated to serving the masses (partly out of obligation, and partly out of ego). Kan’yō desires total control over the lives of the Station. They covertly bribe people within the unions and other corporations, in the hopes of subtly influencing their behavior.

    • Kan’yō is focused on education, media, culture, finance, and security services.
  • Yorokobi Solutions: While most sapients experienced the pleasures of VR simulations, Yorokobi venerates this pleasure exclusively. Sapients should leave a dystopian “base reality” behind and enter into fantasy utopias. Employees generally avoid contact with the outside world (instead relying on non-sapient messenger droids) and use their simulations to explore new ideas and beliefs. These newfound experiences are then repackaged and sold to the other megacorporations as “R&D”.

    • Yorokobi specializes in science, technology, and health care.
  • Seikatsu Industries: A rather austere and environmentally-friendly corporation that cares deeply about existential risks to sapients. To Seikatsu, the other corporations are focused entirely on short-term gains, and are doomed to die in the long-term. Instead, Seikatsu employees are hardcore survivalists: minimizing resource consumption, stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, and using special agents to infiltrate and subvert potential rivals. Their dream is “save sapient life” by learning how to travel to multiple universes - if something happens to one universe, you can simply escape to another one.

    • Seikatsu engages in manufacturing and construction. Unofficially, Seikatsu also supports criminal organizations and sells “vice” products (drugs, gambling, etc.).
  • Majikku Technologies: A megacorporation that embrace religions, believing that spiritual traditions lead to temporal power. Their ultimate goal is to transcend their mortal limitations and become deities. Some Majikku employees genuinely care for their flock but are rather over-zealous in their quest for divinity. Other Majikku employees are cynical rabble-rousers who see religion as a way to increase profit margins.

    • Majikku dominates augmentations and religious organizations.
  • Jiyū Federation: When the Empire of Man settled this area, they had difficulty dealing with the restive ‘natives’ (who wish to protect their ancient traditions from Imperial assimilation). After the Empire of Man fell apart, the natives negotiated a deal with the other corporations. Today, Jiyū employees are fiercely protective of their own cultural autonomy and unique worldviews. However, little else unites the megacorp.

    • Jiyū is in charge of agriculture, resource extraction, and the service sector.

Government Buildings:

  • The Bastion Network is the governing body of Space Station Bastion. It is a distributed social network that allows people to gather together virtually and work together for the greater good. All citizens are connected to this network via embedded chips. The Bastion Network relies on social consensus to pass laws, appoint technocrats, and manage the economy. Influencers manufacture this social consensus by “educating” citizens about policy options. The most influential influencer in the Bastion Network is unofficially called the President.

    Of course, the Bastion Network has its own dedicated IT staff, in charge of programming the Network, keeping the servers running, and tallying the votes. This IT Staff would never dare to abuse their control over the government infrastructure. Nope. Never.

  • Shareholder Democracy Management Center (SDMC): A corporation is controlled by its shareholders - one share, one vote. If you are able to acquire more shares, you naturally have more power. Shareholders are the ones who select the corporate management, monitor managers’ performance, and ensure that dividends are paid on time. The SDMC arbitrates disputes that might naturally arise between management and the shareholders. The SDMC is routinely derided as corrupt, as its members (appointed by the Bastion Network) are either prominent shareholders or prominent managers.

  • Python Cells - Though the President always respects the wishes of the Bastion Network, she does want to take measures to prevent a “tyranny of the majority”. Therefore, she has created her own paramilitary, dedicated to protecting Bastion from itself. A Python Cell consisting of 2-4 people. Theoretically, all these cells report directly to the President. In practice, there is an informal hierarchy, with lower-prestige cells reporting to higher-prestige cells. Though this decentralized policing system prevents hostile forces from infiltrating and corrupting the Pythons, it also prevents the Pythons from working together effectively. Conflicts between rival Python cells are rife.

  • Surveillance Processing Center (currently under construction): Due to omnipresent surveillance by the corporations and the unions, it is fairly easily to gather data about criminal activities. It is difficult, however, to analyze said “big data” in real-time to pinpoint when crimes are taking place, especially if the crime hasn’t officially been reported. In addition, data obfuscation (masks, face alterations, hacks, ECW devices, etc.) prolong the time it takes to identify a perpetrator. Usually, a criminal gets a lag time of a few days, giving them enough time to use legal loopholes, acquire enough weapons, or flee into exile into the deeps.

    So it is natural for the Bastion Network to order the construction of a massive security complex, dedicated purely to analyzing data that has already been collected in a prompt and effective manner. Yet, the building is half-complete. Criminals from the Deep have conducted acts of sabotage and killed construction workers, hoping to delay the project…or cancel it outright.

  • The Private Residence of Haru Yume, President of the Bastion Network - Away from the prying eyes of the public and guarded by numerous ECW devices, the corporations and the unions haggle with each other over the future direction of the Station. Haru Yume, the President of the Bastion Network, does facilitate these negotiations - however, she is known for her extreme bias in favor of Kan’yō Enterprises.

Religious Cults:

  • Takako School: The aliens are artists who exists outside of our universe. They manipulate societies as part of a grand scheme to uplift sapients to “perfection”. Trials and tribulations exist solely to test sapients. The aliens do not speak to us - but that is just another test.

    Those who pass this test will one day be transformed into gods and given a position in the aliens’ massive bureaucracy.

    The Takako School wants to study “perfection”, especially because no one knows what “perfection” is. Thus, their temples tend to be libraries containing holy scriptures, scrolls, and eyewitness accounts.

  • Miku School: There are two main cosmic forces governing the multiverse - Law and Chaos. These cosmic forces wage brutal and endless wars against each other via intermediaries and proxies. Neither side can actually win, but they fight because it gives them purpose in an otherwise purposeless existence.

    The Empire of Man, a loyal servant of Law, has created Space Station Bastion to produce potential soldiers to use against Chaos. Yet Chaos has its own soldiers, and their soldiers proved to be stronger than ours.

    Chaos has managed to cut us off from the Empire of Man, and has aligned itself with the criminals from the Deeps, hoping to overthrow Space Station Bastion outright. If we are to survive, we must reconnect ourselves to the Empire. Until then, we must fight against the forces of Chaos.

    The Miku School tends to glorify warfare and military force in solving conflicts. Their temples tend to be utilitarian factories, focused on weapon production.

  • Hatsu School: Space Station Bastion is itself a highly-intelligent hivemind - its very buildings are alive and whisper thoughts to the sapients that dwell within. Though these buildings fight against each other covertly, they present a unified front to outsiders. These buildings seek to “uplift” us, turning us all into mechanical constructs. These mechanical constructs will retain some sort of autonomy, though this autonomy will be submerged by the overpowering will of the Station.

    Assimilation by the Station is considered a good thing. After all, the Station is the only entity that kept us alive, and they never abandoned us in times of difficulty. The Empire of Man is weak and abandoned us, while the aliens are untrustworthy. Only the Space Station can be relied on.

    The Hatsu School glorifies technology, and thus their temples are usually research labs that specialize in physics and construction.

POST-SCRIPT: Also, I also didn’t mean to make a reply to post #10. I actually meant to reply to post #16. But while I can delete this post, it won’t let me repost this content because it’s too similar to content I previously posted (well, duh). So I undeleted this post and have to add this post-script edit.

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Wow! That’s treasure trove of ideas! You rock.

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