Etamui: The Factions

In the Introduction to the Etamuiwe briefly reviewed the four primary cultures or factions of the Fanseeth. In this post, we’ll dive a little deeper into those factions. This post assumes you’ve read Introduction to the Etamui.


The wealthy intellectual elite, developers of the future, guiding humanity into the next stage of evolution. They are researchers, programmers, developers, scientists, philosophers, and technological artists. They primarily live on the glitzy Research and Development ring of Celestial Station.

  • Other names: Labs, Labbers, Brains, Leets, R&D, RTD, Intellects
  • Stereotypes and views of other cultures
    • ProdOps: The foundation of Celestial Station, without which we could not do our most important work of advancing the future. They are the steel, sturdy and unthinking; we are the wires, sensitive conductors of brilliance.
    • Gawans: We need them for supplies; they need us for direction and technological advancement. They could choose to join us on Celestial Station at any time, they only need apply. It makes no sense that they fuss about being under our rule. Don’t they realize we all work best together? Ingrates.
    • Glitches: An incomprehensible drain on the system.
  • Light side, positive qualities: Creative, inventive, wanting the best for everyone.
  • Dark side, negative qualities: Elitist, ethnocentric, thinking their way is the only/best way and that they know what’s best for everyone else.


The working class of Celestial Station. They perform skilled labor and hands-on work in the highly functional Production ring and Facilities ring of the Station. They are technicians, repair, maintenance, and public works employees. They are lab techs, nurses, and can also be artists or performers, though in a more physical or visceral capacity than the SciDev artists.

  • Other names: Techies, Maintens, Prods, Ops, Proddies
  • Stereotypes and views of other cultures:
    • SciDevs: They’re pretty stuck up and haven’t really worked a day in their lives. But anyone who works hard enough and is smart enough can score a SciDev position. The opportunities are out there.
    • Gawans: If more of them visited Celestial Station, they wouldn’t be in such a hurry to be separate from us. It’s a wondrous thing we’re all building together.
    • Glitches: Freeloading slackers.
  • Light side, positive qualities: Hard-working, team players, down-to-earth.
  • Dark side, negative qualities: Just-world fallacy, thinking that anything bad/good that happens to you is because you earned it.


The distant, tense child of Celestial Station – though don’t tell them that. They receive fewer resources, less assistance, and all the cast-offs of Celestial Station, but are still subject to Celestial rule and law.

  • Other names: Forged, Forgies, Asters, Forgers
  • Stereotypes and views of other cultures:
    • SciDevs: Elitist and out-of-touch. Most have never been off their cushy station or seen a lick of real work. And then they try to tell us how to live our lives? They need us way more than we need them.
    • ProdOps: The rank-and-file Celest. They keep voting the same Labbers back into power and don’t see how they’re taken advantage of.
    • Glitches: Victims of circumstance, trying their best to fight back or opt out. There’s better ways to do it but they don’t know how. Maybe they’d like to ship out to the Forge.
  • Dream: Independence, respect, being the equal of Celestial Station and having agency over themselves.
  • Nightmare: Being cut off from the rest of the universe, loss of independence, the things that are dreamed in the dark of space.
  • Light side, positive qualities: Tough, independent, ingenious. Strong cultural identity.
  • Dark side, negative qualities: Temperamental, divisive, somewhat clannish.


There are robust government assistance programs for the poor, the disabled, and the Glitches. However, acquiring government assistance means submitting to a network implant, and many Glitches are explicitly opposed to this.

  • Other names: Stealthers, Untagged, Unrexed, Hiders, Errors, Tuberats, Malwares, Metamorphs
  • Stereotypes and views of other cultures
    • SciDevs: They’re trying to control everyone. Keep track of us, shape us in their image. Have to submit to them to get their “help”. No way.
    • ProdOps: Programmed robots. Nothing more.
    • Gawans: Maybe worthwhile. Maybe we can build something better. Or maybe we can’t trust them at all.
  • Dream: Comfort, pleasure, respite.
  • Nightmare: Loss of independence/individuality, loss of autonomy. The stories of gremlins infesting the understation.
  • Light side, positive qualities: Fiercely independent and individualistic. Resourceful.
  • Dark side, negative qualities: Paranoid. Socially hostile or suspicious.

Fanseeth: Vaettir-Tales and Vaettir-Sworn

The Fanseeth believe there are vaettir in everything, that all things have a spirit which must be considered and honored (or, more often, placated). Offer to the skipvaettir, the spirit of your ship, to increase the likelihood of safe travel. Offer to the hylvaettir, the spirits of the mine, in hopes of safe mining. Offer to your knife to turn its hunger from your flesh to the flesh of your foe.

And offer to the wild things, the dark things, the hungry things, in desperate appeal that they won’t hunt you.

Because there is a spirit in everything, and there are spirits that are not kindly inclined towards humans. The Fanseeth lead harsh lives on harsh environments, and they make meaning of mine collapses and shipwrecks through tales of the dark vaettir who were surely responsible.

The Fanseeth have several kinds of spiritual advisors and intercessors to deal with the vaettir. Sometimes these are full-time jobs and the practitioner’s only professions; in other clades, these are part-time roles only, and the practitioner also is a pilot, miner, or does other jobs on the side.

  • Speakers are the spiritual leaders of the community, translating the needs and wants of the local vaettir to the community, and speaking for the community to the local vaettir. 
  • Vaettirthegn are spirit-servants, spirit-sworn. They are the hands and feet of the vaettir. They provide quieter service to the community, often teaching, raising children whose parents are dead or unknown or away at the mines, doing small rituals to placate the vaettir. 
  • Vaettirthralls are… strange. They are devoted entirely to the vaettir to a degree of intimacy unmatched by the other roles, and are often under a series of taboos and behavioral restrictions. In some ways, they are like nuns or monks in other traditions, but more solitary. Vaettir-touched, vaettir-sworn, perhaps vaettir-possessed. They are often avoided by many members of society, though they are believed to have power from the vaettir and sometimes approached warily for good-luck charms, help with a curse, or spiritual healing. 

Every clade has its particular tales of hostile or mischievous vaettir, as does every mining site, each factory, each ship. Parents, teachers, and nurses tell kids to behave, or a particular local vaettir will get them. Kids have fears of the troll under the bed or the goblin in the closet. When little annoying things go missing on a station, it’s a wight’s fault. When ships malfunction, it’s because of the gremlins in the pipes and wires. 

And there are worse stories. 

The Gap-Huldra, invisible vaettir of the space between stars and stations that wanders the void; she consumes ships whole and cannot be reasoned with or bargained with. 

The Storm-Giants, spirits of the radiation storms that swirl over the planets and moons, beautiful and deadly, dancing the auroras in their wake, observable only from the safety of a clade’s shielding but they’ll eat the flesh from your bones if you are outside the shielding when they arrive. 

The Nacker, who plays music so sweet that it’ll draw you out of the station without your suit, and reduce you to gibbering hallucination. (This may be an explanation for the star-madness that sometimes comes from being asteroid-bound too long.) Tales say that some have managed to survive him by offerings or bargaining or entertaining him, and some have sought him out to learn his musical gift.

The cave-trolls, a sort of hylvaettir, believed to live deep in the asteroid mines and who jealously guard its resources. They abhor light and want to be left in peace to their asteroid homes, so flooding a mine with light is believed to keep them away. Lights going out, cave collapses, and any number of mining accidents are attributed to the cave-trolls. If too many of these accidents happen, miners will murmur increasingly about this mine being a vaettir-place full of angered cave-trolls. Some unions have organized strikes until a vaettirthegn, a Speaker for the Vaettir, can be brought in to pacify the spirits. 

Fanseeth: Costuming and Style

The clothing of the Fanseeth reflects its history as a series of prison colonies in many ways. One of the larger ways it manifests itself is in color choices of the upper and lower classes.

Costuming tip: Check out the Fanseeth Pinterest board for visual inspiration.

Monochrome apparel that echoes the uniforms of old is still associated with higher class and power (and is worn as a matter of course by most Vordur and Bondi). Those seeking to rise in station can, on occasion, be made uncomfortable with the fact that their interview clothes look suspiciously like those of the people who beat on great-great-grandma with an electrified baton. Formal wear will also echo this, with sharp lines, muted colors, piping, and jewelry that is based on the ranking sigils of old. It’s considered gauche to wear jewelry of a rank above that of what one’s family achieved, but it common practice to those climbing the social ladder to take on the “rank” afforded them by marrying up.

Costuming tip: If your character is upper class, look for sharp clean lines. A button-down dress shirt will do in a pinch, as will more military-style outerwear. Check out military surplus stores. Add pins and patches. Vests or waistcoats create the right sort of lines, especially if they keep to a relatively monochrome theme. Gloves, hats, and boots (or spats) can add to the look. Even something like a simple turtleneck with a jacket or vest overtop can work for this.

Those who would traditionally be perceived as being “lower class” (namely the Hakal and the Kappi) tend to wear colors with fierceness. No shade is too bright, no riot of hues damned. Needlework and cross-stitch is also something that makes its way into the fold. Common motifs are sigils made up of prisoner glyphs, reindeer, and alchemical symbols representing the elements of what was being mined at a given time. A common social game to play is “spot the rich kid”, tells for which are a nonsense jumble of numbers (or not even setting them into sigilry), or a grouping of elemental markers that make no sense given the mineral compositions of a given mining location. Accessories are often pragmatic (a flask clipped to your belt by a carabiner, or paracord woven into a belt) or otherwise scavenged (spare parts off discarded equipment turned into jewelry), and sometimes even spiritual (rocks from a home moon to connect you to the landvaettir, the symbol of your ship to honor the skipvaettir).

Costuming tip: If your character is lower class, try thrifting some “ugly sweaters” or Christmas sweaters. Look for heavier, bulky, rougher-cut clothing and durable materials. If you want to go the extra mile, add some distressing to give it a heavily worn look. You can use fabric paint or markers to add sigils, glyphs, or alchemical symbols to a shirt, pants, or leggings. Try a trip to a hardware store, get some odds and ends and string them up on cord for a necklace or bracelet.

This goes more for class rank than specifics of group—a Vordur of the lower classes might wear brighter shades, while a Bondi who wants to be seen well by the Vordur will tend to dress in a more muted style.

While layers are common, it’s more for look than need, as climate control is the norm, and is well maintained within the clades. Climate suits being, of course, necessary for heading “out back” or to the mines. It is not uncommon for people to carry breathing masks even within stations, “just in case,” though the degree to which are actually used is open for debate.

Biomodifications and cybernetic modifications are more common among the working classes as a way to make them more desirable workers or more effective in the mines, as pilots, or in processing plants; oftentimes a hakal will receive the mods after getting injured on the job. These mods are usually industrial, emphasizing function over form. When upper class Fanseeth receive mods, they are still functional (even the most bourgeoisie Vordur value function; they are still Fanseeth, after all), but are generally sleeker than the clunky hackjobs afforded by the lower classes. More often, upper class mods aid perception or fine dexterity, or provide mental outsourcing like a computer implant, whereas lower class mods are more like exoskeletons, hardware limb enhancements, or skin protection.

Written by: Lia Lilley
with additions by Dani Higgins, David H. Clements

Fanseeth Cultures and Subcultures

It is important to realize there’s class mobility in the Fanseeth in theory, but very difficult to exercise in practice. Your culture is largely defined by the socioeconomic status of your parents and is derived from who you rubbed elbows with growing up, what resources were they able to provide, and what sorts of connections they were able to help you make.

Artist Toby Morris illustrated this concept well in the short story, On a Plate.

This means that it is entirely possible to see a Vordur working as a miner, despite that this job is almost always occupied by Hakal, but they are probably friends with the manager (and maybe went to the same school) in a way that the other miners wouldn’t have access to.

Similarly, if your parents were disadvantaged Hakal, they might sacrifice disproportionately to make sure that you had the advantage of being able to rub elbows with the “right” sort of people.


Vordur society is defined by generational wealth, with each new generation being expected to add to and prove their worth to receive their inheritance. They are investors, inheritors, and view their role as “keeping the engine of Fanseeth society running”.

They carry a sense of themselves as caretakers. They are the ones who create jobs (they own the major businesses, after all). They are the ones who safeguard the cultures of the Fanseeth. Their investments allow miners to find their fortunes.

That is what the Vordur tell themselves, anyways.

Their view of:

  • Kappi: Good, hardworking people who would move up in the world but they lack a firm long-term vision. Disinclined to settle down in one place, they tend to spend their kcal as they make it without regard for the future.
  • Bondi: They don’t put in the hours that we do and the hours that would be necessary for them to move up in the world, but otherwise many of them show good business sense.
  • Hakal: They need direction and purpose or else are prone to violence. Given direction and purpose they are tremendously valuable and hard-working, but prone to sloth and the worst of vices without a firm guiding hand.


Kappi tend to not like being tied down. They like movement and travel. Their culture tends to work on the same sorts of shifts as the Hakal (see below), but their shifts tend to be shorter in nature and they are much more mobile than any other culture. It isn’t uncommon to find Kappi on cruise ships and aboard stations for some period of time just working to make ends meet, gaining new experiences, and then moving on when they have gotten what they came for.

They are the most mobile in terms of jobs of any of the groups. While all of the groups are theoretically mobile and may shift jobs at any time, the Kappi are the ones who do it the most of their own volition.

They see themselves as the glue that hold the Fanseeth together. In their mind, there would be no Fanseeth without the Kappi.

Their view of:

  • Vordur: Self-aggrandizing to an extreme, they still pay most of the bills and nothing is going to change that any time soon. A necessary evil to keep them around and if you stay out of their direct gaze you can live a pretty good life. Just don’t piss them off.
  • Bondi: They miss what makes life worth living. Sure, they do important things, but they themselves tend to be pretty boring. Planetbound. They’d also do well to not define themselves so much in terms of their jobs. They also tend to be complicit in the control of the Vordur, most of them without knowing it.
  • Hakal: Crude but just trying to get by. They lead hard lives and don’t look up nearly enough, but in many cases they don’t get the opportunity to do so. They are best when they are working together.


The Bondi fill the gaps. They do a lot of the planetside jobs and some of the stationside jobs and fill all of the “middle” roles of Fanseeth society that don’t pertaining to the flying of spacecraft.

They tend to be pretty anchored, both in place and in career. They tend to have very strong connections to their families and aren’t bound by the “shifts” that the Kappi and the Hakal usually experience in their families. They take a very “family first” view of their lives and tend to see “work-life balance” and something important to strive for.

Their view of:

  • Vordur: Self-important and prideful. They hold all of the chips, they pull the strings. Work hard, and you may get there some day.
  • Kappi: Free spirits who won’t settle down and focus on their families. They would get further in life if they would just stay put.
  • Hakal: Poor souls. It’s a shame they need to work so much and spend so much time away.


For the Hakal, their entire lives are structured around their shifts. Even those who aren’t working the mining and processing plant shifts often have their lives dictated by the ebb and flow of people going and coming out for work. Shifts last for significant periods of time and then they get a significant amount of down time before their next shift.

During their downtime they will frequently work other jobs, but at a much more relaxed pace.

They have a strong attachment to their view of themselves as the “backbone” of the Fanseeth. They are the ones who provide the fundamental resources on which society is based. As such, they have a lot of pride in themselves and that identity.

Their view of:

  • Vordur: The highest bosses. The people they despise and/or want to be, depending.
  • Kappi: They are often the other side to what we do.
  • Bondi: They have no idea what life is really like, of course, and their lives are pretty cushy all things considered. Soft. That said, be polite to them, they can get things done and since they tend to stay in one spot they develop deep connections and provide the jobs you’ll need when you are off shift.
Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth Economics

The Fanseeth use a representative currency. You may have a slip of paper, but what gives that slip of paper value is the fact that it is backed by something more concrete, and could be exchanged for some backing commodity at any time.

There are two different economic units of account that can be freely exchanged for fixed amounts of what they represent. Those two units are the Kilocalorie (kcal, usually stored in either a mechanical or chemical battery or in the form of glucose) and the Gram of Gold (gg, exchanged as coins or as bars for larger quantities).

Kilocalories are (usually) represented by a paper currency); gold is generally represented by coins of (usually) non-precious metals or other forms of physical token.

In day-to-day transactions, especially those involving a transient good—going out to a restaurant, by way of example, or finding fuel for a spacecraft—the kcal reigns supreme and is widely used as a base unit of currency. Most people with jobs are paid by their companies in kcal for their salary.

Grams of Gold are considered a long-term, more stable unit of value. Often when purchasing non-transient goods (e.g., a chair, a ship) the payment will be in in gg. If a job offers a retirement plan, it is often in gg.

At least, all of that is the theory. Government policies are implemented around this assumption, after all, so it has to be at least somewhat true. Right?

Economics and Culture

By and large, kappi and hakal work almost entirely in kcal currency and will do so even for more permanent goods. They often end up not owning their homes in a classical sense, since it is easier to rent when your income is in kcal.

Vordur are the opposite of this in a lot of ways, storing generational wealth in gg which they frequently pass down. Even when they don’t have a lot of gg, this is how they tend to measure their own wealth.

Bondi follow the intended pattern as closely as any group. They tend to have long-term wealth which gets converted into housing and used for retirement. Then hopefully there’s some left over to give to their children or to use to invest in their child’s education.


There’s a conversion rate between gg and kcal, but it fluctuates over time. We’ll have the exact exchange for the Fanseeth prequel event up in early January. In common practice, gg can always be exchanged for kcal, but the reverse is not always true.

It is theoretically true that you can reverse the transaction, but that requires a buyer and access to the exchange markets to make the sale. A lot of groups who are willing to do the currency conversion from kcal to gg similarly take a small cut as a handling fee for their difficulty in managing it on the monetary markets.

Representation in Game

For the most part we are going to be giving out kcal currency for this game in the form of paper scrip. You can also feel free to print your own if you think you’ll need or want more. But, if you want to bring gg into game: bring any non real-world metal coins that you want to use. Our standard will be the sort that you commonly see sold for, e.g., Stonemaier games and metal doubloons meant to represent pirate treasure, but any coin will do (be aware that if you acquire ones for ongoing games they probably aren’t going to be legal to spend in those games after trading them here).

But fundamentally that is more to throw around and make an impression. Every good or service sold by NPCs in the Fanseeth game in January will be available for kcal.

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Clades, Class, Career, and Culture

This document is a bit of a miscellany of some of the elements of the Fanseeth that contribute to their culture.


Clades represent groups of people who live in the same habitat on a moon or the same area of one habitat on a station. They are the towns or (more rarely) the cities of the Fanseeth.

Miners and pilots in particular will frequently have jobs that take them away from their clades for stints of time, but they will return to their clades between their jobs (e.g., a miner goes out to a moon for some significant period of time, then has a significant period of time off).

Clades are usually pretty mixed groups. There will usually be a small segment of each of the four predominant cultures in every clade, though how much that matters will change.

For example: A vordur politician living in a clade of mostly miners may be looked down upon by other vordur, but they still have the political connections. They still will likely send their child to a more vordur-centric group for education and friendship-building.

Class Mobility

Class mobility technically exists among the Fanseeth, and there are no rules that prevent, for example, a hakal miner from being elected to the position of Warden.

But it isn’t that simple.

The four predominant cultures of the Fanseeth are strongly tied to the socioeconomic class of the group. They represent who you “rub elbows” with. Which parties you get invited to. Which schools you attend.

Even if you can change your economic situation, it’s hard to develop the connections of someone who was born in that group. Someone who loses their money still has a network of connections and will often make significant sacrifices to ensure that their children maintain those friendships. It can take generations to fully move between two different groups.

There are significant cultural forces in play that make this movement difficult—in both directions. It’s hard to learn everything you need to know about mining on the job if you didn’t grow up around it. It is difficult to know the ins-and-outs of a political system if you weren’t raised among people who are fairly political.

But it absolutely can happen.


Careers and Other Jobs

As mentioned in the section on class mobility, there’s nothing really that prevents someone from one group from doing jobs commonly associated with one of the other groups, and it even happens. A bondi family that is hard on their luck ends up with one of their children becoming resource harvesters. A vordur child has a large inheritance coming eventually and wants to spend some time to “find themselves” so spends it doing odd jobs aboard ships and then goes back and writes a book about the experience.

In general, however, you see people of the cultural groups in the jobs that are associated with the groups.

So usually a pilot will be a member of the Kappi. But that kappi pilot likely has a family that includes younger members who are doing odd jobs to learn the ropes or working as mechanics aboard ships or for different clades.

A high level bureaucrat is probably a member of the Bondi, but their family (and indeed, their own history) likely includes everything from janitorial work to selling tickets for liners to tour the moons.

These “lower level” jobs are also where you find the most mobility between the groups. It is very hard to become a pilot without the correct set of connections and experiences, but working on a moon liner in some role is a relatively straightforward proposition.

In general, however:

  • Vordur will do a lot of managerial jobs at different levels of prestige. They will work as marketing directors for corporations, entrepreneurs finding new creative ways to invest money, and other such things. When younger it is pretty common to see them apprenticing to higher level vordur and doing a lot of odd jobs for them.
  • Kappi do a lot of jobs associated with ships and shipping. Everything from logistical planning to cleaning ships to mechanic work to piloting.
  • Hakal are often associated with mining, but they’ll also do a lot of the work related to resource extraction and preparation. Extracting metal from the ores or purifying gasses to be used, and maintaining the equipment used for these tasks.
  • Bondi fill in the gaps inside of the clades. They are farmers, craftsmen, programmers, and frequently low-level executives at companies.
Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Knife Fighting

There have been a lot of diffusion of knifefighting styles among the Fanseeth over the ages, so you’ll find every style among every group in different degrees. These usually also involve arguments about what each version does or does not show, or how much it represents reality, or how it isn’t supposed to represent reality, whether and to what degree it can be used to settle disputes, whether it is a reasonable way to spend one’s time, or any number of heated debates on the dueling traditions (and if it gets heated enough, the debate itself can lead to a duel).

Most children among the Fanseeth grow up with a least a passive knowledge of knifework, though how much they’ve actually practiced varies widely.

Thrusting is usually frowned upon for these styles, since it is so often highly lethal when done with an actual knife.

There are four primary arts used in duels, but each has a lot of individual variations: Gisal, Takni, Jasha, and Bowwi.

(Note to players: These are starting places only. Feel free to add, subtract, multiply, or divide as needed for your play preferences. If you want to engage in knife-fighting at the upcoming Fanseeth event, please review the knifefighting mechanics for The Darkest Space.)

Gisal — The Tournament

This style is popular for entertainment and for betting. It originated as a spectator sport for the Vordur, but now all of the cultures enjoy a good Gisal match. It is among the oldest arts found among the Fanseeth, but has evolved significantly over time.

An area is cordoned off on the floor, stepping outside of that area is a loss of the round. All cuts to critical spots (defined as inside of the arms or legs—but not the outside—along with any cuts to the torso) are considered “points” and after each point the participants reset to opposite sides of the field.

Usually done to a best-of-n-rounds, though sometimes different values of points are awarded for each area, and instead of stopping to reset, they continue fighting until that number of points is reached.

Betting is frowned upon in polite company but is perfectly legal and very, very commonly practiced.

Takni — The Academic Art

A common sport among young, educated Vordur that have a lot of money and not a lot of sense, the goal of this fighting is to lay a small, shallow cut with a specially modified knife along the deltoid (most commonly) of the other person. It is widely practiced in schools, sometimes with official sanction (the Fanseeth equivalent of a gym class). In this style it is very common to use a cloak or half-cape in one’s other hand, which is used to bind the opponents knife for a more effective cut.

This cut will sometimes be encouraged by the recipient to scar over, resulting in what is called a “smite” which may be displayed. These are often considered a mark of honor, at least among participants.

The art is studied heavily and treatise on the proper way to engage in it have been evaluated in depth.

Jasha — The Dance

In the early days of Fanseeth, knives were forbidden to prisoners. Additionally, before the advent of safer blades and more sport-like versions, fighting in general was considered a waste of resources.

In this style two opponents move at a roughly equivalent speed, working to match speeds with one another while they make cuts and thrusts at the other person, never actually landing the blow.

The goal is to make an attack on the other person that the person acknowledges as having gotten past their guard.

Almost never done for tournaments, this form is almost exclusively practiced by the Hakal and in mining-focused clades.

Bowwi — Settling Disputes

Based on an old legend from the origins of the Fanseeth, this is a form of duel that arose as a way to rapidly settle disputes between clades and is still widely used for dispute arrangements, especially friendly ones. It’s also frequently used as a legal resolution to difficult problems between clades that don’t want to get a higher level of government involved.

Two fighters either clasp hands or hold on to a piece of cloth and then attempt to land a designated number of cuts (or touches, or whatever equivalent) on the opponent.

These cuts are usually limited in where they can be landed—never on the arms that are bound, nor on the leg on that side—and is often fought with each fighter’s primary hands being so bound, leaving the blade in their off hands.

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Moons and Settlements

With a few important exceptions, the Fanseeth live on a variety of small moons orbiting a gas giant.

There are numerous such moons and some of them are only barely inhabitable, requiring planetside stations to render them at all livable. Some of the larger moons maintain a thin but breathable atmosphere. Their environments are all rather hostile to human life. Most have a population ranging between a few thousand (though smaller “enclaves” do exist, they are generally not permanent settlements) to—in the case of the Nijan Hala—roughly 200 million (with tens of millions more in the station around it).

Following are some of the major or more important settlements.

The Nijan Hala (“Nijan”)

The largest moon and the primary Fanseeth settlement is called the Nijan Hala. Surrounded by a habitable ring station and protected by a magnetic field from the moon’s metal core, it provides a relatively stable surface environment (by Fanseeth standards).

It is from here that the Vordur oversee the remainder of the Fanseeth. This is the seat of the Warden and is also by far the most populous of the Fanseeth’s moons.

The population on the moon is divided into a series of clades—all relatively small (the largest is a few million people, and most are under ten thousand). While they are ostensibly allowed to elect their own leaders, most are functionally overseen by a member of the Vordur.

Life has a tendency to be rather political on Nijan Hala’s surface, and as a result of violent Fanseeth politics, lifespans tend to be shorter than they might be otherwise.

The ring station, known as Omnira Prime, is almost entirely populated by Hakal, Kappi, and Bondi who do not like the deeply political nature of living down below or who have jobs that routinely take them away from The Nijan Hala. It is a working station, with ships routinely docking and leaving to the other moons. When the Children of Earth visit, this is where they tend to focus their trade.

Aiye Titun

The first home of the Fanseeth, before they were the Fanseeth. This is where they settled before staging off to the other, more habitable, more hospitable moons.

Aiye Titun is a barren, volcanically active moon whose atmosphere contains significant amounts and carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. There were stations on the surface left behind that have largely rotted away with time and lack of maintenance. There are also some underground habitats that have long since been broken open to the elements.

It is now uninhabited.



Veen is an icy moon dotted with cryovolcanos. There are habitable stations covering the the surface, each with a small population and connected to the others largely through subterranean tunnels. Most of the population here are members of the Hakal, though the Kappi also have a significant presence.

They mostly harvest resources from their own moon and send it on to the rest of the Fanseeth, producing a non-insignificant amount of the fuel used by the Kappi’s ships among the rest of the Fanseeth.

Veen maintains a semi-autonomous government from the rest of the Fanseeth, established in their Charter. While still falling under the auspices of the Warden, they answer first to an elected member of their own referred to as The Watchkeeper. Each individual clade on the moon sends a representative who then collectively vote on the Watchkeeper, who remains until the representatives come together in a vote-of-no-confidence. They also may not serve longer than 20 years.

Coincidentally, they are also the only group of the Fanseeth outside of the main government to maintain an organized military (mostly in the form of a navy). Just to maintain tradition, of course.

Kala Station

One of the only permanently inhabited space stations of the Fanseeth, Kala Station orbits the Fanseeth gas giant in a high polar orbit. It has a lot of room but a low permanent population (mostly of Bondi), serving mainly as a rendezvous point for Hakal miners on their way to an uninhabited moon or asteroid for a multi-month stint. They travel out to where they will be doing their mining—carried by Kappi pilots—and come back to here before returning to their home moons.

What Kala exceeds at is processing. They have extremely efficient processing facilities to refine and store the elements brought back by the Fanseeth, and manufacturing facilities for turning the raw materials into resources suitable for transport to moonside, along with the magnetic catapults necessary to send those resources near enough to the moons to be picked up by the Kappi.


Many of the moons of the Fanseeth have some presence—be it small or large, permanent or transient—but for the majority of them that presence is entirely transient, miners who are cycled in and out for short stints.

Above are just some of the more major settlements, but it certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. Some of the major features of Fanseeth settlements tend to be:

  • A mixture of Hakal, Kappi, and Bondi groups with a few members of the Vordur.
  • Population is divided into a series of smaller clades which live together. These are not split along family lines, but frequently do fall largely along cultural lines.
  • Usually a Vordur leader, but when that leader is not Vordur they are almost invariably a member of the Bondi. Veen is a notable exception in this regard.
  • Clade decisions are kept local to the clade. Moon decisions are kept local to the moon. Decisions are usually handled as locally as is feasible and bringing in outsiders to a dispute is frowned upon. Periodically different clades in one region (up to the size of the entire moon) will come together to discuss some situation or to trade, swap news, or otherwise make routine decisions.
Written by David H. Clements

Children of Earth: Economy

Today’s post is both about the commerce and economy of the Children of Earth, and also about mechanics for the prequel game, Grand Assembly.

Before we get too far into this, keep in mind that these things are here to enhance your play. If something seems like it will get in the way of that—breathe, and then figure out what will work for you. You won’t break the game by changing things around to make them simpler if it adds to your enjoyment.


Each of the four primary cultures have a slightly different take on the matter of currency and money. The Children of Earth have to be able to not only navigate between these different systems, but do so in a way that maintains their autonomy and that allows for exceedingly long delays between transactions.

Thus, for the Children, they predominantly operate with three general types of transactions, which they buy and sell both to the cultures that they interact with and amongst each other. They have three devices that they use to negotiate this:

  • Stock
  • Futures
  • Options

The Children are traders first and foremost. They do not use a standardized representational currency, but instead talk in terms of trading goods and services both in the present and in the future.

To discuss each of these in turn, at a very high level:

Stock represents a unit of ownership in a ship or a fleet. No stocks pay dividends and most are passed down generation to generation within a single family. It is considered a great loss of face to sell stock you may own outside of the family, but it does happen when families or individuals run too hard down on their luck.

By way of example, you may own one (or many) unit(s) of stock which represents a unit of interest—ownership—in a ship. You may also have gambled that away because you were down on your luck… with the option to buy it back at a later date (more on that in a moment).

Futures represent an agreement to buy or sell something on a given date. So by way of example, you may have a Future that agrees to sell 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts for a given amount of gold in 30 years (at the next grand assembly) to another family of Children. Now in 30 years they have to make sure that they have 100 gross of self sealing stem bolts and the other family has to make sure that they have enough gold to cover the deal.

These, of course, can be traded. So if I happen to have a good price on self-sealing stem-bolts, I might buy your Future by giving you 50 gallons of Nurani Drinking Vinegar which I don’t have another good way to get rid of. You, however, are on your way to one of the worlds around the Nurani, so you can make a tidy and quick profit off of it.

Futures may have penalties written into them or violation of them may involve being brought up for violation of the Merchant Law.

Finally, there are Options. Options represent the right to purchase (or sell) something on a given date for a certain amount, and if you don’t exercise it then it simply expires. So I may have the option to sell 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts to a group of Fanseeth for a given amount of gold 30 years from now, but if I don’t exercise it then it simply expires, which means I have suffered a financial loss but at least I have not reneged on my agreement.

There are, of course, more complex versions of all of these, but that’s the high level version of them.

Note: If you are familiar with these devices in the real world be advised that I don’t want to be calculating Black-Scholes mid-game, so we are dramatically simplifying things and abusing the terminology slightly, e.g., our Futures are closer to Forwards, we’re avoiding the words ‘call’ and ‘put’, etc.

In-Game Mechanics

So what does this translate to in-game?

First, we will be giving each group and/or individual in-game a certain set of basic stock, options, and futures to play with that you picked up on your last trade route, which we’ll also be giving to you. None of these will be especially complex, but will give you a basic template to work with.

Second, we are emphasizing this as a Progressive style game in this regard. If you don’t like the hand you’ve been dealt, make something else up! If you want to play with being an unsuccessful trader who has bargained away some of their family stock, then don’t let the fact that we gave you a great set of options and futures and stock deter you! If you think you should be playing a well-to-do trader then by all means, add more stock, options, and futures. Make it up and have fun with it. You don’t need our permission. You won’t break the game.

If you want reassurances on this point, by all means come talk to us.

Third, on that note, make it as simple or as complex as you can have fun with. If you really, really want to play with complex options that follow a Bermuda option model and have futures that trade based on the average price of a commodity over time—go for it! If you want everything to be utterly simple, you can do that too.

If you want to consult either direction, please feel free to ping us.

Trade Routes

As to trade routes. Part of the goal of this assembly is establish who has what trade routes for the next cycle. You have what happened last time, but will that be what things look like next time?

The different parties will draw lots at the start of the game to determine the order of who chooses the trade routes. You can trade your place in line—so if you are 2nd and you want to sell your right to select your trade route to the person/group who is 4th (how else are you going to get 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts?), then by all means do so. Everything is tradeable.

You can of course vary your route, make up an entirely new one, or whatever else strikes your fancy, but we’ll provide some basic defaults to make life easy if that’s not your sort of game.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Written by David H. Clements

Children of Earth: Angry Ghosts

An angry ghost is what happens when an ancestor is forgotten, dishonored, or angry for some reason. Among the Children of Earth, angry ghosts are believed to be the causes of many physical and psychological illnesses, ship malfunctions, and streaks of bad luck, among other ailments and unfortunate events.


The Children of Earth believe there are any number of reasons an ancestor might become an angry ghost.

Perhaps their family line died out so they are no longer receiving proper attention; to prevent this, families without children will sometimes adopt a child from a family with plenty of children, or become godparents, so that the roll of names in their ancestor shrine can be added to the ancestor shrine of their godchildren or adopted children and tended properly. Emergency adoption of ancestors also happens on existing Children of Earth ships when a ship is lost, as sometimes happens, because no one wants an entire ship full of angry ghosts finding their way to your fleet.

Perhaps the person died under suspicious or especially painful means. Maybe they died while trading on a planet, in which case they weren’t on the ship when they passed, and thus their spirit got confused and upset in trying to find its way to the ancestor shrine. Maybe they were murdered; it’s a rare thing among the Children, but not unheard of. Maybe they died of a terrible injury or illness, lingering on their deathbed for a long time before passing away, their spirit wracked with pain and confusion.

Perhaps – and this is the most commonly cited reason for an angry ghost – they are upset about something one of their descendents has done. Maybe the family has fallen out of prosperity or political favor, when it was powerful in the ancestor’s time. Maybe someone accidentally defiled the shrine. Maybe they disapprove of a descendant’s conduct, behavior, marriage, or choice of occupations.


When someone suspects they are being haunted by an angry ghost, they call in an elder. Elders have lived long enough to know many of the ancestors when they were alive, and are believed to be closer to the ancestors due to their proximity to the end of their own lives. An elder will use a divination system of some kind: perhaps throwing dice, or reading with conquian cards, or entering a trance. They will interpret the meaning of their divination as indicating the presence or absence of an angry ghost, and no one dares seek a second opinion if they don’t like the results, because that would be incredibly disrespectful to the elder.

If the divination points to the absence of an angry ghost, the inquirer is told to take responsibility for their own mistakes or bad luck and not bother the elder about it. (If the story of the supposed haunting is clearly a case of someone making a mistake and wanting to pass it off on being plagued by a ghost, the elder might not even bother with a divination at all, and may tell the inquirer to stop wasting their time.) If the divination points to the presence of an angry ghost, then the elder strives to figure out what the ghost needs in order to be calmed and become a beneficent ancestor spirit again.


If the elder can get information about what the angry ghost needs or wants, the remedy is pretty simple. Often, though, the solution is simply to try a variety of remedies. These vary wildly by ship and fleet, but some common ones are as follows.

  • Funeral: The deceased’s name is removed from the ancestor shrine. A second funeral ritual is performed with the haunted people and anyone available who knew or was related to the deceased. Their name and deeds are read aloud, everyone shares stories and memories of the deceased, offerings are given, and the deceased’s name is added back onto the ancestor shrine. This is the funerary practice of most Children of Earth ships; it’s done again to remind the ancestor that they are dead, they are honored, and they should join the ancestors in peaceful rest at the ancestor shrine.

  • Feast of the Dead: If the identity of the angry ghost (or ghosts) is unknown, the Children might hold a feast of the dead. In this case, they are making offerings to the unknown and forgotten ancestors. Most ships have a shrine to these unknown ancestors, just to cover their bases, and the shrine is tended by the elders, the captain, and anyone else who wants to do so for the possible luck or favor. At a feast of the dead, everyone on the ship makes offerings to the unknown ancestors, and there is much merrymaking, music, performance, and storytelling to try to earn the favor of the unknown ones.

  • Purification: Anyone plagued by an angry ghost may try purification and misdirection to rid themselves of the ghost. This is best done in conjunction with placation attempts like offerings, a funeral, or a feast of the dead. Different ships have their own purification rituals, but this may include wearing your formal clothing while your usual everyday clothing is thoroughly cleaned, or it may mean transferring to another ship for a while, or fasting and meditating in front of the ancestor shrine for a time. Perhaps the person wears their clothing inside-out to confuse the angry ghost, or disguises their face with nanocosmetics, or takes on a different name.

  • Substitution: Sometimes, the Children of Earth believe, the ghost wants to be in a body again. This is often believed to be the case when someone seems to be possessed. The ghost is invited into the body of a catten, which is especially fortunate when a family needs a fourth family member in order to have children (or if the ghost is upset because a family has had children without having a full family unit); the ancestor-possessed catten can stand in for a fourth family member until such time as the family finds someone living. Even if a ghost marriage is not feasible, the catten is treated as if it were the ancestor in truth, and welcomed as an elder.

Ghost stories

Every ship has its ghost story, and often multiple stories. Some examples follow below.

  • The crew of the Armis Intrepid fills the stories of the Great Fleets. When the Children of Earth were newly among the stars, the Great Fleets sometimes commandeered ships that flew alone. The Armis Intrepid was one of those that the Mercatalin Fleet commandeered via deception, with broken promises of protection and trade. Back in those days, mercantile law hadn’t yet been established, and the Great Fleets were more cutthroat and intolerant of competition; the captain of the Intrepid objected when she found out that Mercatalin wasn’t ever planning on helping them but was instead going to replace her with their own crew. Her Mercatalin replacement killed her, and her crew fought for her and were slain in turn. The Armis Intrepid then suffered every possible malady in spacefaring history: illness, accidents, getting lost, lurching too soon out of relativistic speed, injury, and so on. It was eventually scrapped for its parts, which were incorporated into many of the different Great Fleets ships… and the restless, angry spirits of the Intrepid linger with those parts, still trying to get their revenge, spreading illness and misery wherever they can. Great Fleets members sometimes report seeing faceless figures in the mirror, or strangers standing in one particular spot on the ship while watching them expressionlessly, gone when the member takes a second look.

    The Sponsored also tell the tales of the Armis Intrepid but believe them to be sympathetic figures. Some even include the Intrepid in their ancestor shrines as cultural ancestors, and encourage them to make trouble for the Great Fleets.

  • Then there’s the United Fleets tale of the Ghost Mechanic, believed to be a mechanic who died horribly of mysterious means while working in the engine room. He haunts the engines of ships, still trying to do his job, trying to fix whatever problem he was working on when he died. Unfortunately, that often means he creates the problem in the engine first. Many engine problems are blamed on the Ghost Mechanic, as well as any mysterious noises in the ship’s inner workings. Living mechanics sometimes offer additional incense in the engine room, or keep a small shrine to the Ghost Mechanic to try to placate him.
  • There’s also the story of Fractured Sesha, particularly common in Elder Caravans stories. She appears in the transitions from ordinary speed to relativistic speed and back again, her mouth open in a scream, her body strangely proportioned and moving irregularly. If you meet her eyes, it’s said, she’ll try to possess you in her attempt to escape from the disjointed space between relativistic and ordinary time. If you’re possessed, you will fall ill and you’ll be prone to shakiness and even seizures; only by purifying yourself during the next transition will you be able to get free of Fractured Sesha. Some people of the Elder Caravans put gauze or dark glasses over their eyes during transition to protect themselves from possession.