Eclipse Phase: Titan
Current Mission Background
The Solar System
Cartogram of solar system, symbol size corresponds to population.
The Outer System
The Outer system is a different ballgame from the inner system. Reputation economies rule (with the exception of Jupiter). Autonomists and argonauts are plentiful, microcorps replace the hypercorps, and the Planetary Consortium is AU away from relevance.
The conflict between market capitalism and other forms of economics is one of transhumanity’s last great culture wars, and it’s still being fought. Transhumanity’s expansion into the solar system created myriad opportunities to experiment with new economic systems. Many failed, but the reputation economies of the outer system have proven both utilitarian and robust in a way that no previous challenger to market capitalism has managed.
The reputation economy, sometimes called the gift economy or open economy, is one in which the material plenty created by nanofabrication and the longevity granted by uploading and backups have removed considerations of supply versus scarcity from the economic equation—destroying classical economics in the process.
The regimented societies of the inner system and the Jovian Junta have used societal controls and careful regulation of the technologies of abundance on their populations, thus keeping to a transitional economy system that is largely an outgrowth of classical economics. No one could get away with doing this in the outer system. In the Trojans and Greeks, much of the belt, free Jupiter, and anywhere outward from Saturn, the reputation economy rules.
How did this happen? For one thing, money is a nuisance when you’re an autonomous member of an autonomous collective whose nearest three neighbors (each 100,000 kilometers away) are also autonomous collectives. All of you are almost completely self-sufficient in terms of material resources. You have a fleet of robots that harvest water, volatiles, reactor mass, metals, and silicates. You have a nanofabricator to make all of your small items, a community factory for large ones, and a machine shop where you can build anything else—with help and advice from an AI with the combined knowledge and experience of a top flight engineering team, if you even need it. You grow your own food.
Money is for people who don’t know how to take care of themselves. Transhumanity is only a few decades away from being a mature Type I Kardashev civilization, having largely mastered the material resources of its own solar system. A character from the outer system most likely finds the whole concept of money an embarrassment.
However, material abundance hasn’t eliminated the value of certain goods and services. A transhuman’s lunch might be free, but innovative ideas, new designs, health care, sex, and dirty work don’t grow in fabricators. What if you need gene therapy on your morph to grow infrared sensing cells on your face? How about someone to assassinate your renegade beta fork after she set off a hallucinogen grenade at your gallery opening and kidnapped your boyfriend? What if you really need a spanking? You call on your social network. If your network is sufficiently deep and numerous, and your reputation is good enough, someone will help you out.
In the inner system, the reputation economy doesn’t replace money for the exchange of goods and services, but it does hold sway over the network of favors and influence. Calling on contacts, getting information, and making sure you’re in the best place to see and be seen all involve calling on your social network.
Locus is the largest cluster hab ever created, an eleven-kilometer-wide irregular sphere with thousands of habitat modules docked to its skeleton of rings and spars. A conical cutaway with a base about 8.5 kilometers wide (1/4 of the overall circumference of the sphere) runs all the way to its center, forming a 5.5-kilometer-deep central area that is open to space and off limits to large ships. By tradition, the base of the cone is kept pointed toward Proxima Centauri, Sol’s nearest interstellar neighbor.
At eleven kilometers in diameter, Locus dwarfs most other habs, all other Nuestro shells, and many nearby asteroids. Its size required some departures from the usual Nuestro shells design. Small Nuestros usually have rigid superstructures, but making a rigid frame of Locus’s size capable of withstanding the stresses generated when station keeping rockets ﬁre far exceeded the resources available. So instead, Locus’s structure is more like the skeleton of a gigantic animal. Where the spars and rings making up its superstructure meet, they’re joined not by metal hinges or self-healing welds, but by a much older technology: lashing. Locus’s massive segments act like ligaments in the skeleton, each bone lashed together at its end points by hundreds of cables. The resulting structure always keeps its general shape, yet has enough give that forces are distributed over a wide area when ﬁring rockets to keep station.
At Locus’s heart, at the tip of the cutaway cone, ﬂoats the Amoeba, a huge, glowing sculpture that regularly reshapes itself and changes colors across the visual and other spectra. The Amoeba takes many forms, usually that of an animal. A pre-sapient AI controls its transformations, and it has its own ﬂeet of small harvester drones that bring it reaction mass and other consumables.
The Amoeba floats freely, but it always keeps station around an imaginary origin point from which radiate Locus’s arterial spars, each 5.5 kilometers long and 10 meters thick for most of their length. The spars radiate from the central origin point in 11.25° increments. Although their imaginary origin point is the Amoeba, the spars actually begin at the Shell, a 500-meter-diameter partial sphere.
The Shell contains a hollow, ten-meter-thick, spherical bulkhead to which the bases of the spars are lashed. The bulkhead surrounds the Amoeba, but wherever possible the designers cut holes so that from outside, along the spars, there are regular lines of sight to the Amoeba. Enclosing the bulkhead is a geodesic crystal palace of structural rods and thick, self-healing glass. The glass enclosure extends 50 meters from both the outside and inside surfaces of the bulkhead. Aside from the hollow insides of the arterial spars and rings, it’s one of the few places in Locus with a publicly supported atmosphere.
From the inside, the Shell looks onto the Amoeba and the space around it; from the outside, it looks out on the vast, glittering extent of Locus, extending away in all directions along the spars. The Shell is host to a variety of free-ﬂoating plants tended by smart monkeys and is heavily trafficked at all times of day by transhumans making their way from one spar entrance to another.
Out along the spars are Locus’s neighborhoods. The major arterial spars—those at 45-degree increments from the station’s poles—are wider and contain fast moving trams. All spars include rungs, tracks for moving large cargo in straight lines without collisions, and people movers consisting of conveyor belts recessed into the hull and covered by hundreds of smart material grab loops. A given conveyor belt will tug a person along in 100-meter stretches before its loops ﬂow back into the belt surface, requiring that the commuter grab a belt on the next loop. Conveyors run in both directions along a spar, usually with several lanes going in each direction.
Locus’s analog to a street grid is based on a spherical coordinate system. Every module in the sphere can be thought of as a set of points on the coordinate system. However, addressing modules as three-dimensional coordinates isn’t very helpful for actually getting around the city. Residents usually travel along the insides of spars and rings, while the ﬂight paths for outside trafﬁc generally run parallel to them. Therefore (after a lot of acrimonious debate), Locus’s designers named all of the arterial spars and rings. The 0,0,0 point on the coordinate system is the Amoeba. The two spars connecting to the habitat’s poles are together called Zenith Spar (or sometimes the Axis), representing 0 degrees inclination from the pole. The spar at the habitat’s equator that points toward the Amoeba and is 180 degrees opposite the conical cutaway space at the center of the habitat is Azimuth Spar. Azimuth forms a 90-degree angle with Zenith. The rest of the spars are named based on their angle from Azimuth, according to a complex system using letters from the Japanese katakana alphabet. Connecting the spars are layers of concentric rings.
From the top of Zenith spar to the bottom are 52 layers of concentric rings. The center most, equatorial layer (on the same plane as Azimuth spar) has 25 rings. Like spars, rings are 10 meters in diameter, with 200 meters of clear space above, below, and between each ring. Habitat modules are allowed to extend up to 50 meters from a ring or spar, meaning that even in the most densely packed area of the hab, there’s always at least 100 meters of clear space between modules docked to opposite rings. The rings are addressed based on their layer above or below Azimuth Spar.
When giving a module’s location, most residents will give the closest ring-spar intersection. Of course, you can always have your mesh implants guide you wherever you need to go, but for Lokies—as Locus residents are called—knowing and using spar and ring names is a matter of civic pride. Rattling off a series of polar coordinates to anything other than a ship navigation system is a newcomer’s move.
Locations and Neighborhoods
There are a lot of interesting sights, places, and people in Locus—almost too much to cover. Here are a few places every sentinel should visit.
This unassuming boxy, blue, converted ore-freighter module is operated by Blue Pod, an art collective devoted to exploring the use of AI in artistic creation. Members include Mason Wang, a former Martian software entrepreneur turned programming artist; Brancusi, an AGI that creates art morphs inhabited by gamma forks of itself; and Letitia Barrow, Locus’s most prominent suicide artist. Blue Pod is famous for the parties they throw and infamous for turning out some artwork that is disturbingly alien and creepy. Wang also keeps a private hab, Wang Industries, in the cloud around Locus.
The Armory is a huge (750-meters long), heavily reinforced module that has been at the end of Azimuth Spar since Locus was founded, slowly moving outward each time more length has been built onto the spar. If it shoots projectiles with deadly force, explodes, eats people’s faces, or destroys spaceships and small asteroids with malice, the Armory has a blueprint for it, and probably a few in stock, as well. The Armory’s main purpose, though, is research, with a focus on anti-ship drone swarms, artillery, and anti-TITAN war machine weaponry. Boister himself—a rough-mannered character with a thick Boston accent and a burly crasher morph that compliments his manner.
Kanigawa Farms sprawls over an entire layer of spars, spilling over into the intersecting rings as well. Over half of the modules in Locus are given over to gardening in one form or another, be it combined algae/aquaculture vats or more conventional hydroponic farms. Plants remain the best recyclers at transhumanity’s disposal, so they’re everywhere. Kanigawa, run by a co-op called Verdant, just happens to be the largest concentration of agricultural modules in Locus. Lighting for greenhouses accounts for a sizable percentage of Locus’s power consumption, and this slice of the habitat consumes more power than any other. The result: sweet, sweet atmosphere and high nutrition foods. You can still ﬁnd crops like maize and potatoes cultivated in small quantities, but the old heirloom strains are extremely rare. Crops like quinoa and yams account for most of the hectarage under cultivation. (Don’t ask how one calculates hectarage in a hydroponic garden; the subject is best left to agronomists).
The Pill Box
This 100-meter-long, lozenge-shaped module moored along Shingo Spar glows softly white from the outside. Inside, it’s a massive drug lab operated by Freeq Collective (eponymous inventors of the hallucinogen freeq). Part chill space, part drug factory, part research lab, the Pill Box isn’t a place to go score your ﬁx of alpha or hither. It’s where you go to experience substances you’ve never even heard of before, because they were invented this morning.
The core of Freeq Collective is ten transhumans of all types, ranging from narcoalgorithm-coding infomorphs to neo-primate chemists. The notorious petal artist, Rarely Neemonic, is a founding member. A rotating cast of partygoers, one-nights stands, and passed-out people clutter the module at any time, day or night cycle.
Rooktown is a neighborhood along Nürnberg spar, home to several hundred neo-corvids and a handful of parrots. The largest module in the neighborhood, the Parliament (never mind that neo-corvids descend from ravens, not rooks), is one of the largest modules in Locus. The Parliament is nearly 250-meters long and 400 meters in diameter, ﬁlling an entire “block” along the spar. The Parliament is built around Nürnberg spar and spun for gravity, actually using the spar itself as an axle. Locus has very few modules built in this way; the ravens had to call in a lot of favors to get their neighbors behind the idea. It doesn’t hurt that the Parliament is open to the public several days each week. The biosphere inside is lush temperate rain forest such as was once found on the Paciﬁc coast of North America.
Rooktown is culturally important to neo-corvids as a meeting place. Many of those living here are pilots and biodesigners, but product designers and artists live here too. The designers specialize in creating equipment and everyday items for neo-avian bodies. The artists have decorated the Parliament and other areas with both human art (Native American, Bhutanese, Norse) celebrating ravens and art of their own.