Oct 14, 2022
This episode carries content warnings for kiddnapping.
For the Hypha and Ashen refugees who make it their home, the city of Harborview on the world of Saboria represents possibility. As they fled from the Curtain, Stel Columnar reached out to offer them haven. A place on a world of their own to rebuild. A material gift, “proving” the Pact’s commitment to reform. And for some time, the community of Harborview was allowed to flourish. But today, that time has ended. Some of their most precious residents have been kidnapped. And as it often does, saving Harborview and its people now falls to a band with little more than this community holding them together.
This week on the Road to PALISADE: Lancer Pt. 1
Hypha & Ashen: The former were a culture of galactic nomads, guided by a paranatural force called the Strand which they could commune with using technological devices built into their antlers. The latter are their descendants, their routes broken by the Principality’s expansions and occupations, their culture ripped from them.
Stel Columnar: Famously “courted” by the growing Principality many generations ago, this nation of humanoid synthetics traded freedom for the prestige and security of the Principality. They hid behind imperial walls and pursued the Future, pushing boundaries not only in technology, but in art, commerce, and war. I suppose I can call them cousins, but not with much fondness. Today, they share righteous screeds and fight for the return of something like democracy as part of the Pact of Necessary Venture. What a comedy.
The Curtain of Divinity: For generations, the Curtain of Divinity operated in the shadows of the Principality, partly as intelligence agency, partly as shadow government. Now they have been dragged into the daylight, and serve as one of the two ruling factions of the whole Principality. Though there are some divisions along questions of secularity, humanism, and cultural taste, in general, leaders of the Curtain are conservative, traditionalist, and nationalistic. They seek the reunification of all five Stels and the permanence of the Divine Principality.
Led, in public at least, by Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh, the Peaceful Princept. In fact, the Curtain has five divisions, each led by a ruthless individual known only by a codename: Silk (diplomacy), Damask (research & inquisition), Lace (military), Linen (economics), and Gabardine (espionage and collaboration).
The Pact of Necessary Venture: As their (current) name suggests, the Pact began as a cooperative exploratory committee founded in the late 14th Century of the Perfect Millennium. They sought new territory to conquer, breaking an old taboo in the process, and inviting destruction and fracture. Which is appropriate, as their vision for the future is one where each Stel is granted more autonomy and independence—some even claim that they would see the Principality utterly destroyed and replaced by a loose affiliation of free states.
Despite this, the Pact are no radicals: While they want more independence from the Principality, they have little interest in shaking up the internal power structures of the Stels themselves. After all, their founders were all Elects, and though only two remain (Gallica, elect of the Divine Present, and Rye, elect of the divine Space), they are led by Dahlia, who serves as both Apokine and Glorious Princept.
Zark “Banjax” Vapor (he/they): Mechanic, Harborview contractor, and pilot of the Ill Portent
Teasel “Derby” Fauna (he/him): Entertainer, sharpshooter, and pilot of the Dressage.
Narmine “Ketch” Te’ketch (he/him): Former two-bit criminal, current whaler, and pilot of The Captain.
Martilla “Journeyman” Häske (she/her): Professional soldier, Pact true-believer, and pilot of the Under the Radar.
Kaliope Flow (she/her): The de facto leader of Harborview.
Zeke Minuet (he/him) & Deanthe (they/them): A pair of researchers into ancient Hypha culture.
Exanceaster March (he/him): Head of the vast Columnar multi-system conglomerate called the Frontier Syndicate, which is older than the Stel itself. While the Syndicate has its hands in many enterprises, the heart of it all is corralling and instrumentalizing data. One such effort, Exanceaster’s pet project the March Anecdatist Foundation, set its sights on Palisade as a testing ground.
Saboria: A world controlled by the Columnar which they “gifted” to a group of Ashen refugees fleeing the Curtain. A fiction, of course. The city of Harborview where the Ashen live is under constant surveillance. I do wonder, however, whether the Columnar know the irony of the trap they think they’ve laid.
The Portcullis System & The Divine Space: Huge, distended hexagonal gates that float at the edge of key systems throughout the Principality. Once a week—or more often, if one has the keys to the kingdom—each one connects to one other, forming a faster-than-light highway that serves as the logistical backbone of the galaxy. Built by Orion, the technology is a perversion of that used by some of the earliest Divines, tens of thousands of years.
Stratus: A poorly articulated, unanchored, catch-all term that’s far outlived its usefulness. In some eras, a “stratus” (plural: strati) is said to have special powers of empathy. In others, they have a sort of digital telepresence. There has always been debate as to the origin of these “abilities,” whether they are innate or trained or quite literally created. In one long scattered culture, the Hypha, the strati were social and logistical cornerstones, created through careful application of technological skill. Their beliefs were quaint, but one must respect the technique.
Hosted by (@swandre3000)
Produced by Ali Acampora (@ali_west)
Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcamp)
Text by Austin Walker
Cover Art by Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot)
You can purchase Lancer at https://massif-press.itch.io/corebook-pdf