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.

Children of Earth: Style and Costuming

General Children of Earth styles

Rich colors and textures are preferred over plain elegance among the Children of Earth; the vastness of space is stark and silent enough as it is. All genders wear accessories and adornments, and every adult wears a sash or scarf tied to indicate their gender.

Weight matters on the constrained space of a ship. Possessions eat up space that could have been cargo. Nobody owns more clothes than they wear on a regular basis. As a rule, a person will wear the entirety of their wardrobe during the course of any given week. Temperature from one area of the ship to another depends heavily on which equipment is there, though, so for anyone who moves around the ship, layers are key. A light, breathing bottom layer forms the base, and protects the middle garments, so that as little laundry as possible needs done on a regular basis. Layers of varying weight and shape are added and subtracted on top. Layers should not be flowing. That’s impractical around heavy machinery and in tight spaces.

Long travel-times between trade destination means plenty of time to develop and practice handicrafts. Everyone develops an artistic skill, whether that be entertaining your shipmates with storytelling or music, or in creating something beautiful and unique out of available materials. As such, there’s a strong tendency towards embroidery, beadwork, and other embellishment of clothing. Garments quickly become heirlooms.

As such, if your mother’s father put hundreds of hours into embellishing a garment, you’re not throwing it away. Refitting, repurposing, cutting the beadwork off of one garment to sew it onto another are all typical and traditional. It would not be unusual for a Child of Earth, when complimented on a garment, to regale you with the tales of the three different relatives whose work adorns the cuffs, the hem, and the collar.

Heavy jewelry, on the other hand is unusual, and largely frowned upon as vainglorious and impractical. Plenty of stories circulating about that neutrois the one time who lost their finger because their ring got crushed, or great uncle so-and-so whose necklace got caught in the equipment and almost did him in.

Common motifs

  • Geometric shapes
  • Representations of ancestral trade routes
  • Chemical compositions or representations of goods the family takes pride in or specializes in
  • Planetary systems of significance, either sentimental or commercial.

Different color schemes, trends, patterns, and themes are observable within individual ships, in part due to the passing down of garments. A trend can span generations, as the fruits of a particularly fruitful indigo shipment or an ancestor’s love of metallic embroidery threads saturates pieces that are handed down and assimilated over decades or centuries.

Formal wear

Formal clothing exists, but is a great extravagance. Since it’s not going to be worn often or regularly, here the prohibition against weight and bulk shows the clearest. Silk and extremely lightweight synthetics that wouldn’t be durable enough for daily life come out only for festivals, trademeets, and planetside visits. These are all things that can pack down very small.

Hair, scent, and cosmetics

Elaborately braided and out-of-the-face hairstyles are popular, comfortable, and practical. A style can be left in sometimes for weeks with minimal ongoing care. Shaved styles, by the same token, are out of the way and require very little upkeep. 

This isn’t to say that hygiene isn’t critical; it’s an enclosed space full of humanity and recycled air, personal odors are not tolerated. Communal bathing is common on many ships – if you’re going to heat up all that water anyway, you might as well scrub everyone and make efficient use of the water.

On a related note, perfume is verboten. The air is circulated, and all it takes is one person with an allergy or a sensitive nose for it to be incredibly rude for anyone to be wearing strong perfume or cologne anywhere on the ship. You’ll rarely see a Child of Earth using anything heavier than a mildly scented soap.

The use of cosmetics is variable by ship. Since heavy jewelry can be an impediment, cosmetics are a good alternative for adornment, but are in limited supply. High-tech nanocosmetics from the Etamui are popular as they can be reused almost indefinitely, whereas low-tech mineral and plant based cosmetics are only used for special occasions.

The Children of Earth are intent on preserving the traditions of Earth and remaining human, however, so you won’t see significant cosmetic biomodifications or cybermodifications among the Children – no cat ears or blue skin as might be seen among the transhumanist Etamui. Decorative, meaningful tattoos on any part of the body are commonplace, though, and don’t need much replenishing, unlike many cosmetics.

  • Costuming hints: Using scented oils or perfumes to try to convey a character is of course not a problem! Incense is in common use for ancestor shrines, and the choice of incense depends greatly on what is non-offensive for everyone on the ship. Your character might be accidentally or purposefully perfumed with the incense smoke from their ancestor shrine. Alternatively, perhaps your character is a mechanic stained by ship oils and the tang of metal; maybe your operations officer smells of the cargo they oversee.

Gender markers

When a Child of Earth comes of age and chooses a gender, they acquire a scarf (which may be more like a sash or a shawl, depending on the person). They might make it themselves in preparation for adulthood, they might be gifted a plain and unadorned scarf that they will embellish over time, or they might trade for an unadorned scarf to add to over the course of their travels. How they wear the scarf indicates their gender: around the waist for women, around the neck for men, worn across the chest from hip to shoulder for androgynes, and around the head (or not worn at all) for neutrois.

Scarves and sashes are deeply personal forms of expression. They do not get passed down or reused, nor do they incorporate anyone else’s work; it is an opportunity to showcase your own skills. In addition to clearly communicating your gender, the scarf expresses personal taste and personal embellishment style. If you want to know someone’s favorite color, personal wardrobe specialties, or most meaningful motifs, look to their scarf. Trading or gifting a scarf is nearly unheard of. It would be like giving a part of yourself away. Not just out of sentimentality, but also because that is a very personal expression. What is someone else going to do with it?

Costuming suggestions: Secondhand stores have plenty of unusual scarves and shawls. If you want to splurge a little on something fancy, dupatta are pre-decorated and have a lot of fabric to work with, and are especially useful for the shoulder-to-hip androgyne-gendered sash. A male-gendered character could get away with using a cravat, and a female-gendered character could also wear an obi sash or a wrap skirt.

Faction-specific styles

The exact style for any Child of Earth depends greatly on the fleet, the ship, and the trade route, as cloth and clothing pieces are often acquired in trade from the various systems on the ship’s trade route. Different factions also have different style tendencies and preferences.

Great Fleets

They were the first of the Children of Earth and (in many ways) the founders – and they won’t let anyone forget it. Order and organization are the cornerstones of the Great Fleets, and the Fleet comes first in identity and loyalty: before the individual, the family, or the ship. This shows in their clothing, as well: clean military and corporate lines, unified themes of style and color within a ship’s population, sometimes even insignia denoting their occupation or ship or fleet.

Elder Caravans

The diplomatic Elder Caravans value patience, diligence, and work that will last. Many of the CoE’s finest crafters will be found among them, exercising the same focus in their needlework and hand-beading as they do in their statecraft. Attention to detail and simpler garments that place an emphasis on hand-embellishment is the earmark of an Elder Caravan garment. In keeping with their oral tradition, EC embellishments contain motifs and threads from caravan tales, creating garments that share their stories with future generations.

Sponsored Fleets

Bucking tradition, the Sponsored laugh at the wide near-prohibition of excess possessions, and indulge their love of novelty. Life is for living, money is for spending, and it’s your damn ship; you can afford to carry around some extra clothes. Their outfits are more varied, with less reliance on rotation and layering, and they’re the most likely to be spotted in heavier jewelry and statement pieces. Even this varies by ship, though, as the Sponsored cling to the traditions of their half-forgotten cultural origins that are unique from the Elder Fleets or Great Caravans.

United Fleets

The strong-willed United Fleets are a crowd of loud voices, each wanting to make itself heard and leave its mark. Expect to see a lot of bright colors, possibly nearly clashing, as forging a wardrobe from the family’s hand-me-downs means finding a way to bring Great-great-great Auncle Estin’s signature crimson into harmony with mother’s personal saffron blend and the chartreuse that everyone knows is your hallmark. The United mean to leave their mark on the world, and that starts with making an impression that nobody will forget.

Writing credit: Dia Campbell and Lia Lilley

Children of Earth: Fleet and Ship Positions

The Children of Earth originated as businesses and corporations, and that remains visible in their job titles. Rather than admirals, they have directors; the captain of a ship is also called the CEO, or chief executive officer; and so on.

Faction Leadership

  • Great Fleets leader: Chair Myra Florez
  • Elder Caravans leader: President Shann Kecoa
  • Sponsored leader: Speaker Fara Shathar
  • United Fleets leader: Representative Sun Garchia

Fleet Positions

  • Director: The leader of a Fleet, generally the Captain of the fleet’s flagship.
  • Board of Elders: A group of elders who either inherit the role along family lines (as with the Elder Caravans or Great Fleets) or are elected to that role by the elders of their fleet. They advise the Director and can even counter the Director’s decisions if they strongly disagree. There’s a Board of Elders for each fleet or caravan, and some individual ships also treat their elders as a Board for the ship.

Ship Positions

Very small ships such as some Sponsored ships only have these positions, and sometimes an individual will hold multiple positions. Larger ships have individual roles for the many duties required on board. Many of the day-to-day duties are handled by all inhabitants (cleaning, cooking, cargo loading/unloading/organization), but individuals are often in charge of coordinating and managing those duties to ensure it all gets done.

  • Captain or CEO (Chief Executive Officer): Usually referred to as “Captain”. The captain or CEO is the face of the ship and manages the overall function of the ship as a whole. In some ships, zir duties are primarily to handle communications with other ships and represent the ship to others. In other ships, zie is much more involved with regular operations. Zie is in charge of intrafleet relations and interfleet relations especially.
  • COO (Chief Operations Officer): Usually referred to as “Chief”. She manages the business side of the ship: trade negotiation and agreements, finalizing deals with system-bound trade partners, and inter-system relations.
  • Treasurer or CFO (Chief Financial Officer): Usually referred to as “Treasurer”. He handles accounting, financial planning, risk management, and risk assessment.
  • HR (Human Resources): They are responsible for maintaining ship morale, happiness, and harmony. They organize festivals, fun, matchmaking, social events with other ships, childrearing, meals, and education.
    • On larger ships, the roles of childrearing/education, meal organization and preparation, and festival planning is handled by separate individuals woring under HR.
  • CTO (Chief Technical Officer): Usually referred to as “C.T.” The CTO is in charge of engineering, mechanics, the technical health of the ship, maintenance, and upgrades.
    • On larger ships, engineering, maintenance, communications, and mechanics are handled by several individuals working under the CTO.
Writing credit: Dani Higgins

Children of Earth: Names, Fleets, and Rivalries

The Great Fleets


Naming convention: [Family name]-[Fleet] [Personal name].

“[Family]-[Fleet] [Personal], [Ship] [position]” is a common introduction format.

“Lee-Mercatalin Meria, Yenes Banyan mechanic” would be Meria of the Lee family, serving as a mechanic on Yenes Banyan of the Mercatalin Fleet. Meria would more informally be introduced as “Lee-Mercatalin Meria”.


  • Kayem Tisee Fleet, flagship Arokays Magnolia. Kayem Tisee ships often have the prefix Arokays.
  • Mercatalin Fleet, flagship Yenes Banyan. Mercatalin ships often have the prefix Yenes.
  • Bienesefo Fleet, flagship Ayareme Nopal. Bienesefo ships often have the prefix Ayareme.

Views of the other Children of Earth

  • Elder Caravans: They are worthy rivals and allies, but have grown arrogant and think they can supplant us. The Children as led by the Caravans would be chaos.
  • Sponsored: Thankless upstarts. They owe their existence to us, and yet they shirk obligations, show all manner of disrespect, and dare to attempt to compete with us.
  • United Fleets: Disorganized, reckless youths who have not learned from history and don’t properly understand the patterns of commerce.

The Elder Caravans


Naming convention: [Ship name]-[Caravan name] [Family name] [Personal name].

Example: “Kapiens Hibiscus-Eskay Kecoa Breno” is Breno, of the Kecoa family, on the Kapiens Hibiscus, in Eskay Caravan.

“Kecoa Breno” is a more informal way of introducing Breno, using only the family name and personal name. This might be appropriate if the conversation has already established what ship and fleet Breno is from.



  • Oceania Caravan, flagship Biarpi Jasmine. Oceania caravan ships often have the prefix Biarpi.
  • Mercosuha Caravan, flagship Ahara Sun of May. Mercosuha caravan ships often have the prefix Ahara.
  • Arbeyi Caravan, flagship Pyens Lotus. Arbeyi caravan ships often have the prefix Pyens.
  • Eskay Caravan, flagship Kapiens Hibiscus. Eskay caravan ships often have the prefix Kapiens.

Views of the other Children of Earth

  • Great Fleets: Their time as leaders of the Children has passed. We have grown strong in democracy while they have weakened within their chains of bureaucracy.
  • Sponsored: Look how far they’ve come! And look how much their success upsets the Fleets. They’re downright charming.
  • United Fleets: Foolish youths who have lost sight of tradition and their heritage. You can’t be Children of Earth without the traditions of Earth!

The Sponsored


Naming conventions vary but usually are [Family]-[Ship] [Personal].

Example: “Maggee-Elly Thistle Song”would be someone named Song who comes from the Maggee family of the Elly Thistle ship.

“Maggee Song” is a more informal way of introducing Song, using only the family name and personal name. This might be appropriate if the conversation has already established what ship Song is from.

Minor Caravans and Minor Fleets

  • Harmony Fleet, flagship Vienen Bamboo. Harmony ships often have the prefix Vienen.
  • Silver Fleet, flagship Elly Thistle. Silver Fleet ships often have the prefix Elly.
  • Liberation Caravan, flagship Sunbird. Liberation ships rarely have a prefix.
  • Solidarity Caravan, flagship Kayenes Freedom; Solidarity ships often have the prefix Kayenes.

Views of the other Children of Earth

  • Great Fleets: Triple-check any contract you sign with them, and never meet with them alone. They’ve never forgotten we were in debt to them once, and they’d snatch us back up in an instant.
  • Elder Caravans: Condescending elites. They treat us like juveniles, they underestimate us; let them. It rankles, but it’s useful.
  • United Fleets: They’d rather us lose our identity in their homogenous “unity”, but they’re not hostile about it. Decent enough allies; at least they give us the respect the others don’t.

The United Fleets


Naming conventions: [Family]-[Fleet] [Personal], [Ship]. 

Example: “Petil-Devotion Corona, Uhefe Nova” is a person named Corona from the Petil family of the Devotion Fleet, on the ship Uhefe Nova.

“Patil Corona” is a more informal way of introducing Corona, using only the family name and personal name. This might be appropriate if the conversation has already established what ship and fleet Corona is from.


  • Prosperity Fleet, flagship Uhefe Nova. Uhefe is the traditional ship prefix for Prosperity ships.
  • Dignity Fleet, flagship Emay Nebula. Emay is the traditional ship refix for Dignity ships.
  • Devotion Fleet, flagship Waika Catten. Waika is the traditional ship prefix for Devotion ships.

Views of the other Children of Earth

  • Great Fleets: They are ancients who can’t keep up with the way things are and must be. The sooner they pass to the ancestors, the better for us all.
  • Elder Caravans: All the harping on tradition! Can’t they see we’ve simply codified the old traditions and updated them for our actual situation?
  • Sponsored: We have more in common than not. Don’t see why they insist on staying separate; we’d be stronger together.
Writing credit: Dani Higgins

Children of Earth: Ships

The majority of the ships used by the Children of Earth are small, designed to fit a single extended family. Though larger ships, supporting populations of hundreds or thousands, do exist, they are comparatively rare, as they are far more expensive to construct and maintain. However, every fleet has at least one large ship, which holds the festivals, interfamily meetings, and other large gatherings.

Space on the smaller ships is at a premium, as every extra gram of weight leads to an increased need for fuel. Essential life-support systems –oxygen recyclers, hydroponic gardens, water purification systems, and the like — take precedence, as does cargo space, which leaves the living quarters relatively small and spartan. They are typically arranged along the edges of the ship, leaving the common areas like the gardens in the center. Passenger quarters also sit in the center, as the Children of Earth provide the main form of interstellar transportation. These, too, tend to be rather spartan.

The engines, purification systems, and cargo holds are below, sealed off from the living quarters via flexible, airtight membranes that function like cell membranes. Similar membranes, formed from synthetic chemicals that resemble lipids, seal off each compartment. A breach in the hull is therefore contained to a single section, allowing the rest of the ship to maintain oxygen and air pressure.

Such breaches do occur on occasion, though every attempt is made to protect the ships. The outer hulls are built from interlocking sheets of carbon nanotubes, while inner walls are constructed from lightweight, conductive ceramics. These support the creation of the magnetic fields that shield the ship’s inhabitants from the surrounding radiation.

Though the shields are strong enough to protect the ships during interstellar travel, they are not designed for planetary docking. The outer walls are not guaranteed to be strong enough to withstand the friction of entering atmosphere, and the heat generated by such entry could prove damaging to the inhabitants. Instead, ships approaching a planet to trade will dock at geostationary space stations, which provide pods — often in the form of space elevators — to allow the Children of Earth to transport their goods to the customers waiting on the planet.

Most modern ships are propelled using antimatter engines, with the antimatter safely contained in powerful magnetic fields. Older ships may still possess nuclear-powered engines, but they are both less reliable and less powerful, as the antimatter engines are very efficient at producing propulsion. However, they are expensive to maintain, and a single flaw in the magnetic field containment will quickly prove fatal, so some families have opted to keep their nuclear engines for as long as possible.

Gravity engines maintain an Earth-like level of gravity in all of the smaller ships, while larger ships and space stations use rotational forces to simulate gravity. Because the gravity engines require a significant amount of energy, an amount that increases exponentially with the amount of space that they sustain, they are often shut off for periods of transit. In an emergency, they are one of the first components to be shut down. However, they cannot be turned off for too long without causing serious health issues for the ship’s inhabitants.

Writing credit: Emily Randall

Children of Earth: Additional Tidbits and Notes

Light side, positive qualities: Strong loyalty to culture/family, rich lineage of traditions

Dark side, shadow qualities: Clannish, clique-y, suspicious of outsiders, conservative

Cultural dream/hope: A world to call their own, a planet or worldship or satellite of their own. (This is, mind you, a stated dream; there are many among the Children, especially the United Fleets, who believe this dream should be abandoned, that to settle into a system would be to lose the essence of what it means to be a Child of Earth.) 

Cultural nightmare/fear: Oblivion, being cast out/exiled and disconnected, unremembered, grounded. 

What do all the Children of Earth share?

This is what the Children share across factions and cultures.

  • Tea is a valued ritual and experience. It keeps well, and can be a meditative and bonding ceremony. Some tea is mind-altering or psychoactive in nature, some has calming properties, other teas are energizing; sharing tea is part of hospitality, trade deals, and any meeting of importance. The Children source tea from all the systems they trade with, and it’s one of their more treasured trade goods. 
  • Dance, music, storytelling, and theater are deeply valued, and everyone participates in one of these to some extent or another. You’ve got to make your own entertainment on long trade-routes, after all.
  • The government is a loose, semi-tribal conglomerate. They have rules for how different family systems interact, but every family is a Law Unto Themselves. Each major Fleet and Caravan has its own hierarchy, and all the significant leaders of the Fleets and Caravans form a Trade Commission that meets to resolve interfleet disputes, interworld dynamics, and establish and uphold mercantile law. The Commission has no real governing power beyond that.
  • High context, collectivistic culture. Social harmony is vital because you’re stuck with these people for a long time with nowhere to go, so you have to get along well enough. Disputes can be often settled over a competition, with both or all parties agreeing to abide by the outcome, but the dispute is never settled through violence.
  • Food is well spiced, because spices keep well and they have the advantage of being able to get a huge variety of spices from all different kinds of worlds. (Not always “hot” spices, and often simple in substance/texture, but always richly flavored and colorfully presented.)
  • They live different lives from the systembound: They see all the worlds, and they see the same world over the course of generations. They live in a different time stream due to the relativistic speed of their ships; only other Children can understand what that’s like.
  • They are merchants, traders, and gamblers on a huge scale. The systembound sell goods to the Children, who carry it to a world that needs the goods and hope that world will still need those goods by the time the Children arrive years later.
  • They carefully track lineage. Every ship and family has a keeper of ancestry. This is not just for cultural needs (all of them can trace their lineage back to Earth), but also to prevent inbreeding. Names, births/deaths, and DNA prints are stored for all.
  • They value long-lasting, quality, heirloom possessions, and own fewer of them due to space constraints. Rich colors and textures are preferred over plain elegance, because the vastness of space is stark and silent enough as it is.
  • They value the family unit or family constellation in what might look to us as a parody of old Earth families; they believe it’s how families were on Earth and that they’ve maintained those traditions, alone of all the worlds. (Perhaps, even, that was how families were on Earth at one point or another, in one culture or another.)
  • They privilege the elderly and honor elders as lineage-keepers and tradition-keepers.
  • There’s an “out” if one of the Children wants to become systembound or spend some time on a system; it’s also an exile or a large punishment to exile someone to a static world.
  • There’s an adoption process for systembound who want to join the Children; this differs somewhat by culture, but generally starts with the prospect spending the entire length of a trade route on the ship.


For roleplaying purpose, every world has a predominant board game, a gambling/dice game, and a card game that is well-known on that world. The most common games among the Children of Earth are as follows:

Views of other worlds

    • Fanseeth: They always need our trade, and they always have raw materials to sell. They’re the least risky trade option, and you can almost always offload goods here that no other world wanted. They’re a hospitable people, if painfully blunt at times. Step careful around their prickly pride, though.
    • Nurani: If you want heirloom pieces, this is the place. Their art is second to none. Their traditions aren’t ours, but they feel more like kin to the Children than any of the rest; they are at least avidly human, and they are well-cultured, if uptight at times.
    • Etamui: They are the farthest from Earth’s traditions of all of humanity, but they are also some of our most profitable trade partners. They and their tech are useful. They’re just not particularly pleasant to deal with. It’s like dealing with a bunch of adolescents who haven’t been raised to respect their elders.
Writing credit: Dani Higgins

Children of Earth: The Traditions

Children of Earth Traditions (“Earthism”)

The primary or predominant faith among the Children of Earth is not so much a faith as it is a set of cultural beliefs and activities. It’s a lot about traditions, respecting elders, venerating ancestor spirits, and the idea that what you do reflects on your ancestors. Every family keeps an ancestry shrine in a main area of the family dwelling place. Ancestors can also be cultural/fleet figures and non-blood relatives or important people. Following the traditions is part of what makes one a Child of Earth.

Light side of the religion: Tight-knit families, strong sense of heritage and community.

Dark side of the religion: Insularly tribal and rigidly conservative.

Belief about what happens after death: You become an ancestor. Your spirit is fed, honored, and remembered by your family; you watch over your family and dwell in the shrine. If your family does not tend properly to your spirit, you may become an angry ghost, causing nightmares, feeding upon the life essence of the people who’ve forgotten you or neglected you,

Basic Tenets

  1. Honor those who have come before you. Learn their names, listen to their stories, recount their deeds, take care of your elderly. They are your heritage.
  2. Your behavior and character reflects on your ancestors, your family, your ship, and your fleet. Bring them honor, not dishonor. Excel in such a way that the story of your life and deeds will be worth telling. Leave your family stronger, more powerful, and more wealthy than when you were born. This is your legacy.
  3. Show all people the compassion you would have for any family member. All humans descend from Earth, and are therefore your brethren, despite having strayed far from Earth’s traditions. If they would learn the traditions, teach them freely. These are your people.
  4. Learn the traditions of Earth and keep them pure. Each ship and fleet carries a different strain of traditions, for Earth’s people were varied and many; this is as it should be. Carry on the traditions of your family and your ship, and teach them to your descendents. The traditions are what make you Children of Earth.

Basic Practices

  1. Feeding the ancestors: Give the ancestors a tiny symbolic portion of each meal along with a prayer. Traditionally one might also light a candle or incense; the fire/smoke/heat is considered to attract their attention.
  2. Family rituals: Many rituals are done as a family: regular family meals, festival and holiday traditions, birthday traditions, and any other family-specific or ship-specific rituals. Children live with their family-of-origin until they build/marry into a new family. The family unit is one of the most important, foundational traditions.
    1. It is important to have a whole family (four people, one of each gender, performing their gender role) in order to raise children; a complete family is the goal of many Children of Earth.
    2. If the family is not complete, an appropriate ancestor spirit can fill the missing role until a living person is found. This is done by acquiring a catten (feline like creatures modified for dwelling on ships and stations) who represents the ancestor, naming the catten with the name of the ancestor, and involving it in the marriage or bonding ceremony. Once a living person is found, the ancestor is thanked and encouraged to move on with a memorial service with loud, theatrical mourning and tales of the ancestor’s life. The catten is renamed and rehomed, viewed as especially lucky everafter.
  3. Birth and death:
    1. Reproduction is generally done in the organic way, though surrogates are common. Newborns are named immediately, often after a venerated ancestor or two, and entered into the family records. They are presented to the ancestor shrine, and many offerings are given to the ancestors in thanks and to keep them happy (because newborns are especially susceptible to ghost sickness). The newborn is kept within the family for the first month, and then presented to the community in a celebration.
    2. If there is a miscarriage, the child is still named, mourned, and entered into the family records (because infant deaths are especially likely to cause ghost sickness).
    3. When someone dies, their body is immediately processed through liquefaction; bodies are both impure and unsanitary. The resulting ash is turned into a glass mosaic piece that is added to the ancestor shrine with great ceremony, their name and status updated in the family records, while the liquid part is cycled back into the ship’s recycling system. There is a multi-day mourning period (varying in length depending on ship traditions) throughout the ship where there is feasting, storytelling about the deceased, and speaking the merits of the deceased.
  4. Adoption and Bonding: Sometimes people are adopted into a family for any number of reasons: the family doesn’t have their own children, an outsider wishes to become one of the Children of Earth (and has lived on a ship and followed the traditions for a full trade circuit to demonstrate commitment), or a person has split from their family-of-origin for any number of serious reasons and needs a new family. There are ceremonies for this: giving the adoptee a family name, introducing them formally to the ancestors, having them make offerings to the ancestors, sharing a family meal, adding them to the family records, and finally introducing them to the ship as a new family member (which is of course an excuse for celebration and welcoming among the entire ship).
    1. Bonding ceremonies are also sometimes called marriage ceremonies (depending on the ship). These vary based on ship tradition, but generally involve the creation of part of a family when two, three, or four people commit to one another as family. (This need not be sexual or even romantic.) This also involves the establishment of a family dwelling-area and moving there from their families-of-origin. It always involves offerings to the ancestors by all parties, introductions to one another’s ancestors, incorporating everyone’s ancestors into the family records, and ship-wide witnessing of the bonding and celebration of the bonding. If it’s an establishment of a new family unit (rather than the addition of one or more persons into a partial family unit), then an ancestor shrine must also be established.

Views of other religions

Of course you can be another religion. It may be seen as superstitious or odd, but no religion really supplants the traditions. You just practice your religion in addition to the traditions of Earth.

Religion’s dream/hope

Ancestors being proud of you; being a part of making your family/ship/fleet prosperous and powerful.

Religion’s nightmare/fear

Ghost sickness, becoming a vengeful ghost, becoming forgotten.

Writing credit: Dani Higgins

Gender in the Four Worlds

Cultural norms around gender vary wildly among the four major peoples in the Temet Nosce setting.


The Fanseeth do not use a particularly descriptive nor prescriptive methodology of gender. They do not concern themselves with it overmuch as a theoretical concept; individual Fanseeth may have one or another gender identity, but all anyone really cares about is how well you can do the work of surviving on their harsh world.

Their sense of gender is largely dyadic, though they have some allowance for variation on the theme, and they mostly use he or she, with some people choosing to use Spivak pronouns because they do not feel that they fit either category.  Singular they is used, but “she” is considered the default gender for the purposes of written text and is considered correct in formal settings.

Clothing has frequently had gender markers, but the specifics of what clothing has gone with what gender changes over time with what is fashionable.

Children of Earth

Gender among the Children is truly a genre, descriptive rather than proscriptive, roles that are chosen rather than assigned. These are very rigid roles that the Children believe date back to ancient Earth, with specific expectations around behavior, ship and household responsibilities, and clothing. However, the roles are chosen regardless of physical sex. Minors are considered genderless and referred to with singular “they” pronouns until they come of age and indicate their gender (though the coming-of-age ceremony varies by culture). The various religions, fleets, and caravans have different allowances, stigma, and rituals for changing your gender later in life.

    • Woman: She/her, active/projective, action/protector, family “hands”; tends to be choleric temperament.
    • Man: He/him, passive/receptive, caretaker/nurturer, family “heart”; tends to be phlegmatic temperament.
    • Androgyne: Zie/zir, balanced/both, mediator/negotiator, family “head”; tends to be melancholic temperament.
    • Neuter: They/them, neither/neutral, passionate/play, family “gut”; tends to be sanguine temperament.


The people of the Etamui believe themselves to have evolved beyond gender, and view gender as an antiquated, primitive concept. They typically use singular “they” pronouns instead.  There are certainly still people who identify as gendered and use a gendered set of pronouns, but among the Etamui there’s a lot of stigma about this; it’s seen as rustic, backwards, or unevolved.

Gendered pronouns are most commonly used by Gawans and Glitches, when used at all; the SciDevs and ProdOps most commonly eschew gender.


One of the things that the Nurani observed in splitting away from the Etamui was how rounding out the pronouns entirely ended up erasing identity in the process. They kept the bones of the Etamui system, but have more significant variation in private.

Thus in public settings and formal documents they will use “they” has a singular, but individuals frequently have other genders that they express in private and that are the purview of close friends. It is very fashionable in written text that takes the omniscient third person perspective to provide genders for the characters that the readers may know and the characters do not, to create a more intimate feel.

All genders wear the same clothing and makeup.

There is no expectation that the private gender of individuals won’t change.

The most common pronouns for this private use are he, shexe and thon.


Writing credits: Dani Higgins and David Clements

Introduction to the Children of Earth

The Children of Earth are merchants first and foremost, traveling in fleets of anywhere from three to fifty ships between human-settled star systems.

Why manned trade ships, when artificial intelligence and automated cargo can make the journey just fine? The problem is that it can take decades for a ship to travel between settlements. Despite generations of research and experimentation, no one has solved the problem of faster-than-light travel, and so the only way to get from star system to star system is at relativistic speed. There are indeed unmanned cargo ships that travel between systems, but it’s a massive risk. Who will buy your goods at the other end, if the ship even makes it? How can you trust that your buyer isn’t lying when they said the goods never arrived, or arrived damaged? Are you willing to wait decades to see a return on your investment?

Trade instead with the Children of Earth. They’ll buy your goods outright, and then choose themselves where and how to sell them. They take on the risk instead, and if you want to make sure something gets to another settlement, well, the Children are rigidly honorable about trade. Everyone knows that. Even if the Children of Earth are very strange.

After all, they live in a different time-stream from the system-bound. They alone of all the people in the universe visit every settled world in their lifetime. When traveling at relativistic speed, time dilates; fifty years may pass for someone on a planet while for the Children in their ship, only thirty years have passed. If you leave your star system and travel at relativistic speed to another system and return, you may return to a completely unfamiliar world, as if the ship were a time machine that took you to the far future.

As such, less time has passed since the departure from Earth for the Children than it has for the rest of humankind, and the merchants have preserved the traditions of old Earth as closely as possible. All the Children (with the exception of systembound people who have been adopted into the Children of Earth after at least a full trade-circuit on board the ship) can trace their lineage back to Earth, with names, births and deaths, and DNA prints stored in the ancestor shrine in every household. Honoring elders and ancestors is an integral part of the traditions, and the beliefs and practices around their ancestors and the family unit is part and parcel of the fabric of every Child’s life. They don’t have a word for their beliefs; it’s just following the traditions of Earth, it’s just part of being a Child of Earth. The system-bound, though, call the beliefs of the Children “Earthism”.

The Children of Earth value long-lasting, quality, heirloom possessions, and own fewer of them due to space constraints. Rich colors and textures are preferred over plain elegance, because the vastness of space is stark and silent enough as it is. Food is flavorfully spiced, because spices keep well and they have access to a huge variety of spices from a diversity of star systems. Tea keeps well, too, and is often a meditative and social bonding ritual. Dance, music, storytelling, and theater are deeply valued, and everyone participates in one of these to some extent or another. You’ve got to make your own entertainment on long trade-routes, after all. Which also means that social harmony is vital, because you’re stuck with these people for a long time with nowhere to go, so you have to get along well enough. Disputes can be often settled over a competition, with both or all parties agreeing to abide by the outcome, but the dispute is never settled through violence.

A Brief History: The Four Waves

While most of humanity settled in one star system or another, seeking planetary resources and a semblance of the Earth they’d left behind, others noted an opportunity in trade between the stars. Large wealthy corporations and rich entrepreneurs established merchant fleets, predicting that the automated, unmanned cargo ships moving at relativistic speed between the colonies would be untrusted and insufficiently secure. Their gamble paid off, and their fleets prospered.

This was the first wave of the Children of Earth, the Great Fleets who founded and enforced mercantile law, and who even today think that they should be in charge. Yet their numbers have dwindled, and their former advantage of being the most organized, structured fleets has come to work against them in the face of the adaptability of the younger Children.

The second wave were smaller, scrappier groups, less wealthy than the Great Fleets but resourceful nonetheless. These were entire communities, extended families, coalitions of smaller companies, religious groups, and villages with enough foresight and cooperation to gather together enough resources to purchase a ship or two, band together in caravans for safety and resources, and begin merchanting. Over time, these Elder Caravans have grown in power and influence, forcing the Great Fleets to cooperate with them for government of the Children of Earth.

As the situation on Earth got more desperate, the Fleets and Caravans “graciously” sponsored the many remnants of humanity on Earth to ships or the colonies, with an expectation (of course) of being paid back. The Fleets were able to sponsor more than the Caravans at the time, though the balance of power and influence has shifted more equal now (and some would argue that it’s shifted more in favor of the Caravans). The Sponsored were essentially indentured servants, and it could take multiple generations to earn their freedom, by which point many were integrated into the Fleets and Caravans that sponsored them, but some managed to maintain most of their individual cultural identity until they could work off their debt and get their own ship. Generations later, there are now small ragtag caravans, and some brave souls who fly solo or in groups of 2-5 ships. The rest of the Children call these minor fleets and minor caravans the Sponsored, but the Sponsored prefer to identify within their specific fleet or caravan rather than a homogenous group.

In time, old Earth passed from living memory into distant fable and its location was lost to time. Many of the younger Children no longer felt connected to the idea of Earth itself. They became disillusioned with the old Earth cultural divide, intergroup and intragroup politics, and wanted a unified Children of Earth cultural identity. They felt alienated from the system-bound and felt they had more in common with one another. Enough of these younger Children had connection and influence to pull together enough ships for some small fleets, which have grown over time in success… but also developed their own pride, clannishness, and cultural divides with the older fleets. They call themselves the United Fleets.

Writing credit: Dani Higgins