Monday, January 21, 2019

Psi-Wars Atlas II: the Galactic Core

Default Navigation Modifier: +1

The Galactic core is an oblong sphere roughly 15,000 parsecs (50,000 light years) across (it takes about a month for a fully cross the galactic core). The constellations of the Galactic Core are exceedingly easy to navigate via hyperspace, meaning it has more than its fair share of colonized worlds. It also has more hyper routes than any other part of the galaxy, making whomever controls it a master of trade across the galaxy and between the arms, and thus it serves as the prime seat of galactic power.

The Galactic Constellations:
  • The Galactic Heart: the inhospitable center of the galaxy dominated by a super-massive black hole.
  • The Crown: The seat of the Galactic Empire.
  • The Trader Band: A winding, interconnected set of stars that reach from one side of the galactic core to the other, allowing for trade and filled with rebellious aliens.
  • The Carina Constellation: Human-settled space wracked with the tyranny of the Empire.
  • The Crucible: The industrial core of the Empire.
  • The High Halo: A set of stars once held sacred by previous civilizations.
 If you are a patron (Companion or higher), you can vote on which world (if any) you'd like more detail on.



The Core Constellations

The Galactic Heart

Default Navigational Modifier: -4

At the very heart of every galaxy lies the supermassive black hole around which the galaxy turns. The Psi-Wars galaxy is no exception, and at its heart lies a quiescent black hole, the eponymous “Galactic Heart.” Its occasional gravitational eruptions spawn enormous hyperspatial storms that devastate the deep core of the galaxy, making it virtually impossible to travel (and typically raising the navigational penalty to -8!). Worse, many truly ancient, massive and unstable stars and pulsars lurk within the heart, meaning that failed navigation might deposit the ship at the doorstep of its own doom. None travel the galactic heart except at their own peril.

No known colonized worlds reside in the Galactic Heart, but legends persist of a variety of treasures or monsters hidden behind the storms of the Galactic Heart. Those who do explore the Heart report that so many stars fill the skies of the Heart’s world that night turns to day. The stars here tend to be vast and energetic, and excessive exposure to its environment can poison one’s body with radiation and bring either madness or englightenment.

  • Citadel Alpha: Default Navigational Modifier: -4. The only confirmed world in the Galactic Heart, star charts mark Citadel Alpha as a scientific outpost. Its planet circles a cinder of a sun, a white dwarf, which sheds very little light upon the cold world, appearing as nothing more than a star. Fortunately, the nearness of the many stars of the galactic heart, like billions of blazing gems in the sky, cast the world in a perpetual twilight. The outpost itself ostensibly studies the stars of the Galactic Heart, but it houses a considerable garrison and sees frequent (as frequent as hyperspatial storms will allow) visits from Imperial Knights or agents of officials from the Ministry of Heritage, leading many to speculate that it serves as a staging ground for imperial expeditions to find the secrets of the Galactic Heart.

  • Azrael: Default Navigational Modifier: -10. The fragmentary records of the now extinct Eldoth and the alien Anacridian Scourge both allude to a synthetic world named “Azrael” locked away in the galactic heart. According to these legendary records, Azrael is “alive” in some way, perhaps housing a vast computer complex in its depths, and can travel hyperspace and has the capacity to destroy planets. Imperial intelligence officials willing to discuss it (generally only under the strictest confidence) suggest that the initial invasion vectors of the Scourge pointed directly at Azrael, and that they sought to awaken it and control it or, perhaps, that they serve it.

  • Golgotha: The Valorian Empire houses its most dangerous dissidents in a prison codenamed “Golgotha.” Rumors swirl on precisely where this prison is located; most speculate that Golgotha are a set of roaming prison transport ships that change location regularly to prevent easy rescues. However, other rumors suggest that Golgotha is a world hidden away in the Galactic Heart.

  • Sanctuary: When the Alexian Dynasty finally fell, their records included a mysterious note about “Sanctuary” as a point for their last stand. If Sanctuary exists, it’s almost certainly in the Galactic Heart, but experts differ on what it was. It may have been a secret shipyard housing the last Alexian throneships, a secret fortress in which the last of Lucian’s Immortal Legions garrisoned, or it could have been an Akashic Monastary in which a secret sisterhood of oracles kept a library of forbidden prophecies or the last of daughter of the Alexian bloodline.

The Crown Constellation

Default Navigational Modifier: +4

Running in a ring around the Galactic Heart, just beyond the reach of its dreadful hyperspatial storms, is the Crown Constellation, so named because when seen “head-on” from a navigational map, it seems to encircle the galactic heart, some of its starts rise above the circular hyper-routes, like jewels in a diadem. These are among the most important stars in the galaxy; those who control these deeply interconnected stars inevitably form a sufficiently strong power base from which to exert control the rest of the Galactic Core and, from there, the rest of the Galaxy.

  • Sovereign: Default Navigational Modifier: +4. Located on the part of the Crown nearest to the Glorian Rim, this carefully sculpted and beautiful garden world served as the seat of the Alexian Dynasty, then housed the Senate of the Federation, and today serves as the throne of the Emperor Ren Valorian. Its wealth, prestige and power means millions of ships flock to it daily, and its surface begins to clutter with vast cities, but the Emperor seeks to keep its natural world pristine and forces most travelers to come no closer than the glitter-band of orbiting space stations, from which visitors can observe the greenery of Sovereign without despoiling its nature preserves or its monumental cities with their presence. Only the most privileged may step onto the soil of Sovereign.

  • Sable: Default Navigational Modifier: +4. Located on the part of the Crown nearest to the Umbral Rim, the alien empires that dominated the galaxy before the rise of humanity either ruled their empire from this world, or used it as a central outpost for their domain. Palatial ruins dot the planet, as well as relics from numerous alien races. The planet still has a sizable alien presence, though year by year that diminishes as the Valorian Empire finds more reasons to deport or arrest aliens. The Ministry of Heritage largely dominates the world, slowly converting the once sacred ruins into museums and curiosities. This, paired the planet’s lush scenery, makes it a popular tourist destination, where imperial citizens can gawk at the aliens and their once glorious cities.

  • Vega: Default Navigational Modifier: +5. The true center of the Galaxy, as far as its denizens are concerned, is not Sovereign, or even the Galactic Heart, but Vega. The Vega system is the easiest star to reach from any point in the galaxy, making it a natural destination for anyone who wants to reach the other stars of the Crown. The planet bursts with people, boasting the largest population of humans outside of the Glorian Rim, with every possible color and flavor of humanity found within. It also engages in heavy commerce, and most galactic corporations either headquarter on Vega, or have a major branch here. The greatest imperial spaceport (and second-largest spaceport in the Galaxy) orbits Vega, so the first thing most visitors see when arriving to the bustling orbital lanes of Vega are the hulking dreadnoughts of the imperial fleet orbiting it.

The Trader Band

Alternate Names: Pilgrimage, the Crux Constellation

Default Navigational Modifier: +2

This long line of stars stretching from the Arkhaian Spiral to the Umbral Rim aren’t actually a constellation, but a collection of interconnected constellations that have been exceedingly well-mapped, and thus it serves as the main thorough-fare for those traveling through the galactic core to get to or from the Arkhaian Spiral or the Umbral Rim.

This means the Trader Band brims with aliens, who used it long before humanity arrived, and they have their own names for it, the most popular of which is “Pilgrimage.” The Traders, in particular, dominate this region of space, and the ruins of their homeworld lie somewhere in it. The alien presence, as well as the mobility of its inhabitants, makes the region a hotbed for rebellion and piracy.

The denizens of the Trader Band regularly practice trade and war. In times of peace, the Trader Band sees mostly merchant ships plying its stars, going from one side of the galaxy to the other with exotic spaces, strange technologies and, once long ago, slaves. However, when the alien empires who once ruled the Arkhaian Spiral and the Umbral Rim waged war on one another, they did so through this channel, and thus its worlds bear the marks of endless war.

  • Grist: Default Navigational Modifier: +3. Grist has seen war more than any part of the galaxy. Layers and layers of of the ruins of civilization lie upon its polluted surface, and the countless wrecks and junk litter its orbit with a “rest belt” visible from its smog-filled skies. The hardy people of Grist, a mix of humans and aliens with greater ties to one another than to the Empire that ostensibly rules them, concern themselves primarily with survival in its ash wastes, or delving deep into its mountains of scrap to salvage ancient technologies of war. It’s proximity to the Arkhaian Spiral makes it an excellent staging ground for the Valorian Empire’s war on the Cybernetic Union, but its people, long used to independence, have mounted a lethal terrorist campaign against the Empire and its sympathizers.

  • The Shatter Belt: Default Navigational Modifier: +2. Many stars along the Trader Band either lack planets, or had their planets destroyed during some ancient war. They more than make up for their lack of planets with abundant asteroids! The Shatter Belt is a line of such stars, easily accessible from one another. The numerous planetoids and mineable space-rocks make it an ideal place for place for asteroid miners to settle, but also as havens for pirates, which makes this the trickiest part of the Trader Band to travel. It also provides much of the Valorian Empire’s raw material needs.

  • Jubilee Station: Default Navigational Modifier: +2. The largest space port in the galaxy orbits not a planet, but a star. With the destruction of their homeworld, the Traders took to the stars, traveling from world to world in their great arks. Jubilee Station serves as their last anchor: every decade, the Trader arcs from across the galaxy gather back at Jubilee station to repair their arks, swap stories, goods and inhabitants and decide where to go next. However, managing the huge influx of giant ships that dwarf even Imperial dreadnoughts routinely gives the Valorian Empire a headache, and in anticipation of the coming reunion, the imperial presence of Jubilee station grows daily, to the consternation of its Trader inhabitants.

  • Covenant: Default Navigational Modifier: +3. On the far side of the Trader belt from Grist, Covenant borders the Hydrus Constellation of the Umbral Rim, making it a popular destination for those who want a taste of Umbral Rim without wading into its strange and tangled hyperspace routes. Imperial Archeologists gather relics and secrets that escape the Umbral Rim, creating entire libraries of forbidden lore. Alien refugees from the political chaos of the Umbral Rim accumulate in the crime-ridden slums of its starports. The poverty and crime of Covenent have forced an increased presence of Imperial forces to maintain peace on the planet. Its original inhabitants, Keleni colonists fleeing the desecration of their homeworlds, find themselves sidelined in an increasing sinful world. After the murder of a Keleni child, a full revolt broke out, and before the Empire could crush the nascent rebellion, a new Keleni “prophet” descended from the mountains of Covenant and sent them reeling with his command of True Communion. The planet teeters on the edge of anarchy due to religious revolt and criminal violence.

The Carina Cluster

Default Navigational Modifier: +1

While not the closest constellation to the Glorian rim, the Carina clusters nonetheless has deep ties with the Glorian Rim and was the last part of the Core to fall to the Valorian Empire. For them, the Galactic Federation is a living memory even for the youth of the Carina Cluster. The Carina Cluster mostly houses idyllic and unremarkable worlds, populated primarily by humans. Its farms serve as a breadbasket for the Galactic Core, and its craftsmen make fine products that the rest of the Galaxy consumes. Before the Empire, House Elegans traditionally ruled the Carina constellation.

  • Janus: Default Navigational Modifier: +2. This nexus world acts as a gateway for the rest of the cluster, and thus is deeply vulnerable to attack from the Alliance, whose aristocracy deeply desires to regain the cluster. The Valorian Empire marshaled and fortified the planet. Its orbit bristles with orbital fortresses and imperial dreadnoughts, and its surface heavily industrialized to allow for the rapid repair or building of new starships. The Valorian Empire sees it as their answer to the impregnable Caliban system protecting the Glorian Rim, and it serves as the seat for the war against the Alliance.

  • Zaine: Default Navigational Modifiers: +1. The most beautiful world of the Carina cluster was once the jewel in the Elegans coronet, and the broken house seeks desperately to regain it. Its tropical savannas roll across its surface, and glittering rivers create floodplains between majestic mountains and deep oceans. An Elegans raid less than five years ago managed to liberate the planet from Imperial rule, only to see it retaken less than a year ago. The newly installed, and demonstrably incompetent, imperial governor cracked down brutally on the people with horrific results and mounting casualties that account for (so far) 10% of the population. Remnants of Alliance forces continue to hide behind enemy lines on Zaine while the desperate population tears itself apart between those who wish to rise up in rebellion and cast off the Valorian Empire, and thus desperate to appease the Empire to bring and end to the Decimation of Zaine.

The Crucible

Default Navigational Modifier: +0

At the very base of the galactic bulge lies a constellation of ancient red stars. The worlds of this constellation tend to be hot, volcanic or heavy with hyperium or mineral wealth, thus while its remoteness from the rest of the galactic core make it difficult to reach, it offers a powerful industrial base to whomever controls it.

  • Balor: Default Navigational Modifier: -1. The red super-giant, Balor, glowers from the heart of the Crucible constellation. The red star is visible in the skies of every world in the constellation. One inhabited world circles it, also called Balor (sometimes Balor IV). The bloated super-giant dominates its sky, and its flares occasionally lash out to burn the surface with volcanic heat. Humanity never would have bothered to colonize this searing, barely-habitable world were it not for the rich desposits of mineral wealth and hyperium in its core. The Valorian Empire uses it as a prison planet, sending intractable offenders and exiled aliens to it to mine its core until they die. Its starport hunkers beneath the surface with only one heavily shielded entrance/exit from which the planet accepts prisoners and soldiers and sends out its shipments of raw resources.

  • Caster: Default Navigational Modifier: +0. The remoteness of the Crucible constellation and its richness in mineral wealth makes it an ideal place for industry. Caster is the most habitable of its worlds, though like all the worlds of the Crucible, compared to the rest of the galaxy, it is hot and barren. The Empire uses the industrial might of Caster for its more secretive projects. Its starport houses imperial naval prototypes and its laboratories work on secret projects too dangerous to tackle on more populated worlds.

The High Halo

Default Navigational Modifier: -1

At the very “top” of the galactic bulge, with the rest of the galaxy spreading “beneath its feet” is the High Halo, considered by some alien cults to be sacred, and certainly a popular destination for tourists, if a bit remote. Those who do see it often gawk and how the whole of the galaxy rises and sets from the horizons of its worlds in its full, spiraling glory.

  • Cumulus: Default Navigational Modifier: -1. This gas giant orbits a brilliant white star. Bands of white, water-vapor clouds part to show multi-hued pastel clouds beneath, granting a breath-taking view to those who have a chance to see it. Floating cities hang in those fluffy, white clouds, where the gravity, temperature and atmosphere equalize into something that allows one to walk about unaided. Deep below these floating cities, hyperium lurks in the bowels of the gas giant, and the cities of Cumulus mine it. Thus, the Hyperium Guild dominates the system.

  • Delphinus: Default Navigational Modifier: -2. This star is the furthers from the galactic heart, but still in the bulge, making it the “highest” world in the galaxy. It circles a brilliant white star and has a ring of crystalline icebergs which grant its night sky a famous, prismatic-twilight hue. The world has seen a succession of monasteries and temples celebrating its place in the galaxy, from a temple of a self-flagellating alien cult of Sin Eaters to an Akashic monastery, to the present, when the Empire repurposed the old Akashic monastery as a Neorationalist institute that caters to a fringe-ideology and, according to rumors, a subterranean psychotronic complex that houses the Emperor’s own sisterhood of precognitive minions called Project Foresight. Rumors also persist of a second, secret Akashic Monastery that houses secret observations of the void beyond the bulge or, possibly, the last children of the Alexian bloodline.

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