This post contains spoilers, and if you care about that, you should read it after you have read up through the third book, Outsider, at least. If spoilers are nice for you, than this is a good way to become familiar with our world and characters before you jump into reading our stories.
Recently, we have found an exhaustive cultural survey, a list of questions to answer to develop a fictional world. It’s not necessarily professional, and it is both anthropocentric and Eurocentric, focusing on feudal concepts and ideas about religion and magic that are irrelevant to the Sunspot. However, answering almost all the questions anyway has been an excellent exercise in describing our world and its differences to what many humans are used to.
We deleted a set of questions that were entirely redundant. There weren’t very many, and they were already entirely answered in a previous section. Otherwise, this is long.
We don’t cover Monster culture much, and there are several questions that we left with TBD (To Be Determined). Also, we found that we had already answered a lot of the questions through our storytelling, which we reference frequently. Nevertheless, this questionnaire helped us to solidify in our minds how and why the Sunspot culture is the way it is, and to imagine scenarios we hadn’t thought about yet, and solve some puzzled we hadn’t worked out yet. It’s very much worth the read.
The Sunspot doesn’t have what we tend to think of as an economy. It is a post scarcity society where everyone has access to all the resources they could want and need. The living population is kept to less than 1% of the ship’s carrying capacity, and there is no money. However, something like an economy does flourish in the trade and enjoyment of artistry.
- What goods are produced and where are they produced?
Food, clothing, furniture, and all necessities can be produced by the Sunspot’s makers, which are like replicators in Star Trek but using nanites instead of teleporter technology. There are massive food and material farms belowdecks that produce the basic ingredients, nutrients, and materials for whatever people instruct the makers to produce.
People still grow their own vegetables in personal gardens as well, however, and cook and use fresh ingredients where they can, when they enjoy doing so, or to please others.
Wood is not harvested or used, but a substance that very closely mimics wood is created by the makers.
Metals are generally extracted from old goods and recycled. The Sunspot has massive stores of unused metals, originally collected from asteroids via the construction nanites. If more is needed, the ship must find and navigate to another stellar system to harvest more. But that need is unlikely to arise in the foreseeable future.
- What are the major trade goods?
The Sunspot is not in contact with any people outside the ship, therefore there is no trade with other peoples. Within the ship, while there are municipal and regional governments, they do not have economies to manage, and the trade of resources is not necessary or even possible.
However, artistries of various sorts flourish and evolve in the different cities, and develop their own subcultures. People travel to different cities to see and experience what other people are doing, eat other food, and to participate in new art forms. This includes dramatic and musical performances as well as the making of decorated or decorative artifacts and tools, food, drinks, visual art, etc.
- Are there trading centers?
There are, instead, artists’ collectives, open maker spaces, kitchens, audiences, parks, and whatnot, where people can convene to practice their artistry in community or to sample and appreciate others’ arts.
- What economic systems are used?
- Are there banks?
- Do people barter or use money? (example: Ancient Ægypt)
No. There isn’t even a word for money.
- If money is used, is it valuable itself or is it fiat currency?
- If there is fiat money, who guarantees it?
- What are people’s attitudes toward money?
They would be utterly confused by it.
- What are people’s attitudes toward poverty?
It literally does not exist on the Sunspot, so if anyone from the Sunspot were to learn of it they would be confused and distressed, and moved to fix it.
- Are there generally acceptable standards for coins?
- How easy and common is counterfeiting?
When it comes to artistry, it is very common to imitate another’s style or techniques. Since the only things one can gain from totally copying another’s work is skill and social notoriety, it is very rarely done in secret, and is usually seen purely as a form of flattery.
There have been occasional instances of someone trying to pass off their work as someone else’s still, but these cases become scandalously well known after they are uncovered, because it’s such a bizarre thing for someone to want to do. They are looked upon with pity and some performative confusion. The culprits are usually counseled and coaxed into not doing it again, and often look back and consider their past actions immature and inconsiderate. However, there is no economic damage to be done by the act, only social confusion, since there is no economy and very little fighting for status. So, it is more a matter of curiosity and the invasion of perceived personal space than anything else.
You may wish to read System’s Out! before continuing with this section.
The governance of the Sunspot can be divided into two layers.
The top layer is the Crew and the Council of the Crew. Until the Nanite Innovation, the Crew are a secluded, unseen, inscrutable technocracy that are as powerful to the people as gods. The vast majority of them, however, keep to themselves and don’t even think about the rest of the populace. The Council itself consists of Crew that view managing the ship as their Artistry, and see the living populace and the world they live in as a Nursery, of children. Because that’s what they are.
The living populace of the ship, the people with physiological bodies who must eat and sleep, are the literal Children of the Crew. And before the Nanite Innovation, they were largely unaware of this.
Between the Crew and the Children are the Tutors, Network Entities that were created and taught to raise the Children and guide them through life on behalf of the Crew.
After the Nanite Innovation, this relationship became publicly and widely known, and efforts to integrate the populations began. True change, however, is slow to occur.
The lower layer of management are the Regional and Municipal governments, which are served by volunteers from the populace of Children. Their primary responsibility is to resolve disputes between living people.
- What services does the government or head-of-state provide?
Primarily dispute resolution, and usually that’s focused on property management. There’s way more than enough space on the Sunspot for everyone. However, the centralization of culture through cities does create prime living and working quarters. People want to live closer to the things they enjoy or other people that they work with. And while there is a generally good system of allocating these spaces, it still generates tension between people, and conflicts arise over it.
Also, people are people, and even if all their needs are met, they will still finds ways to hate each other or, at the least, disagree vehemently.
- Are schools, wells, courts, and the army paid for by taxes?
There is no army at all. Not even a word for “weapon”.
As there is no money, there are no taxes.
All services are purely voluntary, with positions offered to people who consider that service to be their form of artistry.
- What local or private services are provided by the government?
Information, guidance, history records, disaster management, and dispute resolution.
- What services do people expect from their government?
- What do people owe their government?
- Do people pay their government in taxes, in labor, in crops, in military service?
No. Nobody has even heard of taxes.
- Who has the right to levy taxes?
- For what purposes are taxes (or new taxes) levied?
- On what or on whom are taxes levied?
- Can taxes be paid in-kind, or do certain things always require money?
- Who provides support services for the head of state and what are they called (examples: councilors, ministers, secretaries, viziers)?
Volunteers, friends, family members, etc.
- Are offices hereditary, elected, or appointed?
A mix of elected and appointed.
- Can a government office be a career choice?
There is no such thing as a career on the Sunspot. The closest thing is an Artistry, which is purely an expression of skill and passion. Because of this, and the lack of obligations, people are free to practice their Artistry for as long as they want, which can include working in government.
- Is the relative power of a country or ruler usually measured by the size of the army, the number and ability of the wizards, or the amount of money and trade flowing through it?
- Who will take over running the government if the current head-of-state is incapacitated?
Anyone willing to do the job that most people trust. In lieu of such a candidate, the Council of the Crew will appoint a Tutor to intervene in the meantime.
Crew themselves cannot be incapacitated, except through Sanction, which is covered later. If the Captain of the Crew is Sanctioned, it will be by the Council, who will appoint a new Captain immediately.
- How is succession determined?
Willingness and trust, usually through a vote, but sometimes through Crew appointment.
- Is there an heir apparent (either actual or political)?
There is no word for “heir”.
- What happens if the heir is a child?
- Who is responsible for protecting the head-of-state?
- What safeguards does the head-of-state have against assassins, poison, assault, and magical attack?
- Who can give orders (to the military, to the tax collectors, to the civil servants, to ordinary folks on the street)?
- How are the people with the power to give orders chosen?
Death, willingness, and the trust of the rest of the Crew.
“Orders” don’t really exist, but the Crew can make proclamations regarding the rest of the ship. To be Crew, one must take the Vow of the Crew, and typically one must have died and ascended to the Network. Even so, proclamations are almost never made without full deliberation of the Council.
- Are any activities licensed or certified (driving, dog ownership, being an attorney or a physician)?
Not as such.
- Who does the certification or licensing?
Tutors are charged with making sure that their Students (assigned Children) know what they need to know to safely interact with others, whatever it is that they are doing.
- Is it merely formal (pay a fee, and get a license), or are there qualifications to meet?
- Can licenses or certifications be revoked, and if so, how?
A person can be Sanctioned. This revokes access to various ship systems and alerts other people to the Sanctioned person’s proclivity to do dangerous things. A Sanction is removed when the Sanctioned person demonstrates that they have learned how to avoid being a danger to others.
Crime & the Legal System
- What are considered normal and legal ways of gathering evidence and determining guilt?
Evidence is gathered by looking at ship records. Perception of the evidence is determined by interviewing all parties and witnesses involved. It is generally assumed that society at large is guilty for failing everyone and therefore leading to the event. However, if it is shown that a person has a habit of behavior that is dangerous to others, that person can be Sanctioned until they can learn to do otherwise. If it is shown that someone’s Autonomy and Consent have been violated in such a way as to cause material damages, the violator of those rights is assisted by the court system in making reparations. “Paying a price for ones actions” is not a thing. Instead, reparations and learning are paramount. Reconciliation is up to the injured party.
- Are torture and magic part of the legal system?
Absolutely no torture. Magic is used in the sense that Ni’a, who has inherited Phage’s senses, is considered a trustworthy witness. Phage itself is also slowly gaining such trust. Eventually, everyone will have access to these senses, but then the entirety of society will have to be overhauled due to this change.
- Are arbitrary judgements by a lord or landowner allowed, or is there a standard that they are supposed to follow?
There are no lords or landowners.
- Is there an appeal system?
Yes. You can always declare your disputes unresolved and keep pursuing them. However, if the dispute resolution council finds that they dispute your appeals, they can take it to the next level of court. And that goes up two levels before it is decided by Crew.
Historically, Crew decree has been final, and either results in reallocation of resources to everyone’s benefits, or in Sanction. The threat of Sanction and the fear of the Crew has usually kept most disputes from reaching that stage. But since the Nanite Innovation, more people have been testing this strategically, sometimes in conspiratorial agreement with the people they originally had disputes with (a manufactured dispute).
This applies equally to theft, rape, and murder as to property management and all petty disputes.
- How high can a case go in the system before it is finally settled?
The Council of the Crew.
- Is everyone tried in the same courts or are there special courts for special classes of people — for example, are mages tried in specialized wizard’s court?
Only Children must work with Regional and Municipal governments. Tutors and Crew are judged directly via the Council of the Crew.
- Are there separate courts for civil and criminal matters?
No. Everything is treated in a way that would be viewed as a civil dispute by most people in the U.S.
- Are there separate courts for magical and non-magical matters?
Only in that Phage is not a Child and therefore must be tried by the Council of the Crew if it is ever suspected of anything.
- Are there separate courts for humans and non-humans?
There are no humans. But, basically, yes.
Besides the division between Children, Tutors, and Crew, there are the fauna.
The fauna of the Sunspot are generally not governed by the courts. This is causing some problems with regards to the Collective of the Cuttlecrabs, until it can be decided how to integrate them into society.
- Are there separate courts for religious matters?
No. Religious institutions are viewed as a form of Artistry Collective, and their matters are resolved using the very same tools.
- What things are considered truly serious crimes and why (example: a trade-oriented culture might consider counterfeiting or bootlegging a death-penalty crime while in a place where life is cheap murder might be something that only results in a small fine)?
Rape, murder, and any violation of someone else’s autonomy or right to consent. These tend to lead to Sanctions very quickly.
- What are the punishments for serious versus minor crimes?
Until Sanctions are overhauled (which is in the works), there are simply various degrees of Sanction, tailored to the specific crime. The lightest Sanction is simply a label, essentially a censure, to let everyone know that the crime has been committed and by whom, so that people may use caution.
- Are there prisons, or are people punished and released?
Sanction can be used to create the effect of a prison, restricting a person to their quarters or personal Netspace. This is rarely done, but has been done just frequently enough that it is the primary reason that Sanction is being questioned and disputed as a reasonable form of discipline.
- Are there degrees of punishment such as fines, branding, public whippings, removal of body parts, executions — or do they just hang everybody regardless of the crime?
There are no forms of corporal or capital punishment.
- Who is responsible for catching criminals?
First and formost, the criminal themself, then the responsibility falls upon the criminal’s Tutor in cooperation with volunteers and their Tutors. In lieu of that, the Crew will step in.
- Who pays the thief takers?
- Who pays for prisons and jails?
- Who supplies food to prisoners?
The ship itself.
- How are law enforcement officers organized?
There are no law enforcement officers. Anyone may volunteer to help with criminal apprehension, including Safety Patrol Officers, guided by their Tutors. But there is otherwise no institution of law enforcement besides the councils.
- Are there independent precincts, overlapping districts, or separate jurisdictions?
Courts are simply designated by city and region.
- Can law enforcement be hired?
- Are there lawyers or advocates?
There are people who consider dispute resolution and investigation to be their Artistry, and they frequently volunteer to assist others in court or to act as impartial third parties.
There are a number of loose structures for this, to act as guides to resolve disputes. Some councils are more strict than others about how they manage these things.
- Who can afford legal representation?
- Who trains the legal experts and are they certified?
Tutors. There is no certification. Instead, trust must be agreed upon by all parties involved.
- Are people guilty until proven innocent, innocent until proven guilty, or does it depend on the mood the bench is in when the case comes in front of it?
It is closer to innocent until proven guilty. However, aboard the Sunspot it is very difficult to do anything without leaving conclusive evidence as to what was done and how it was done. Therefore, most trials are a matter of learning what the involved parties knew at the time of the event, and what their motives were, and then weighing what actions need to be taken to make reparations and reduce the chances of it happening again, or simply to satisfy the needs of all parties involved.
- Are there assumptions made about how an accused criminals will be treated?
The accused are to be treated as equal to everyone else in all regards. Which means that they cannot be brought to trial without their consent. However, if someone flagrantly avoids trial to explain themselves, they can be slapped with varying degrees of Sanction.
- Are there judges other than the nobles or gentry?
There are no nobles or gentry. The councils act as judges, with the Council of the Crew as the supreme court.
- How are judges paid and by whom?
- How often are remote areas likely to see a judge?
- Is mob justice common? Is it legal?
The justice system is essentially controlled mob justice. It is common for people to attempt to resolve their disputes outside of the governmental system, but historically there has been a fear of the Crew that leads people to go through the system. Whether ministered by a council or not, acts of justice can be taken so far as to become crimes themselves, and this almost always attracts the attention of the Crew and results in Sanctions against the overzealous enforcers. So there is a motivation to involve the municipal and regional governments, going to the people who make dispute resolution their Artistry. The greater the dispute, or more grave the crime, the more likelihood governmental help will be saught.
- How is mob justice viewed by society?
With the same care as governmental justice, as it is all taught to be the same thing.
- Are highwaymen, muggers, bandits, or pirates common or rare?
Outside of science fiction stories of dystopian societies, absolutely unheard of. There are no trade routes and there is no money to steal. Stories that do include things like this involve coining words that otherwise do not exist in the language, and would be very laughable to read by nearly any Earthling. Authors are only speculating about things that they are making up whole cloth from the perspective of anyone on the Sunspot, and have no experience what-so=ever to draw upon.
- What sorts of crimes would the average citizen be likely encounter in their lifetime?
Mostly pranks and escalating acts of vengeance. Murder and sexual coercion happen rarely, but when they do it is usually due to some personal stress, either over living quarters, relationships with other people, or irreconcilable personality differences. And, usually, society is seen to be the key culprit in having failed all people involved.
- Who can make or repeal laws?
The councils. Particularly powerful laws must be voted upon by all people who would be subject to them.
- How are alleged criminals treated before their trials?
As full, free citizens.
- How are convicted criminals treated?
By either counseling, Sanction, or a mix of both.
- Do the police, military, or city guard make a practise of roughing up suspects?
There are no police, military, or city guard. Roughing up of suspects by anybody is considered to be a crime in and of itself.
- Are there laws forbidding certain types of people (peasants, wizards, priests, women) from carrying arms?
No. However, weapons don’t even have names or words describing them. They are simply tools being misused.
- Are there laws requiring certain people to be skilled with certain weapons?
- Are certain spells (as opposed to magic generally) illegal?
There is no such thing as “spells”. The closest thing would be Network programs.
Prior to the Nanite Innovation, programming the Network was restricted entirely to the Crew, and amongst them the act of programming the Network is viewed as the same as all other actions. However, certain commands that could damage or destroy the ship itself are restricted to the Founding Crew to this day.
- How would a criminal magician be detected? Apprehended? Punished?
The closest thing to a criminal magician would be an errant Crew member. They would be judged and Sanctioned by the Council of the Crew even in their refusal to face the Council, if necessary. However, as they are all part of the Network, there really is nowhere to go and no way to avoid the necessary communication, except through Sanction itself.
The closest thing to Foreign Relations is through the Tunnel Apparatus, an ansible, that connects the Sunspot to its ancestor ships. Prior to the birth of Ni’a, this was only known about by the Order of the Hunter, which consisted of Gesetele (a member of the Founding Crew) and a selected group of Monsters.
The most immediate such ship is the Terra Supreme, the Sunspot’s parent ship. This ship is under extreme societal duress (recurring fascism), and communication between the two ships has recently been locked down by Phage, but not until after a refugee by the name of Thomas came through the tunnel and became a provisional member of the Crew. Thomas is the twin of ‘afeje’a and Ni’a, sharing Ni’a’s genetics almost exactly despite having different sex expressions, and is psychologically entangled with ‘afeje’a in a way similar to a plural system.
Other ancestor ships occasionally answer calls from the Sunspot to trade historical information, but such knowledge is limited and arrives in a thin trickle.
Sometime in the next 250 years, the Sunspot will come into physical contact with their first Outsiders, people who are not part of the Exodus Ship project, a.k.a. aliens. They are currently observing transmissions from these Outsiders, but return signals are likely to arrive only shortly before the Sunspot itself.
- Which nations have formal relations with other countries?
- Who can be ambassadors and envoys?
- Are there standing embassies and consulates, or are envoys sent only when something specific comes up?
The Order of the Hunter is the closest thing to this currently. They are in control of the Tunnel Apparatus on every ship (usually).
- How are treaties arranged?
Through convention of the Council of the Crew
- Are there any significant ones currently in force or coming up for signing?
Besides the Sanction of the Terra Supreme or the upcoming contact with the Outsiders, no.
- How much do official attitudes toward other countries affect commerce and trade?
- Do merchants pretty much ignore tensions between governments as long as they can make a profit, or will this get them into trouble?
There are no merchants, yet.
- How much formal spying and intelligence gathering is normally done by governments?
- How much spying is done by the military?
There is no military. None is likely to ever be needed. If the Sunspot is ever in danger, it will defend itself through the use of the Construction Nanites as commanded by The Security Officer (appointed by the Council of the Crew), and protection offered by Ni’a and Phage.
- Do merchants (or companies) engage in espionage?
- Who has the best information gathering system?
The Crew. They use the Construction Nanites and the Network to record EVERYTHING, often down to the molecule. This actually affords more privacy than it may seem, because there is such a glut of information that it is often ignored, even with more than adequate computing resources. But, nearly anything can be discovered easily in retrospect if the right search parameters are entered.
Second to the Crew, Phage and Ni’a are the next best capable surveillance entities. They tend to provide a balance of power that very few people are aware is needed.
- Which countries are traditional allies?
- Which countries are traditional rivals?
The Sunspot was created and split off from the Terra Supreme in an act of violent revolution and mutiny. There is a considerable amount of enmity between the Elder Crew of both ships.
- How do these traditional alliances and rivalries affect foreign policy?
The Sunspot has, through the act of Phage, Sanctioned communication with the Terra Supreme.
- Which heads-of-state are related by blood or marriage?
- How important are political marriages?
Entirely irrelevant. Marriage isn’t really a thing, and neither are foreign relations.
- How do ties of blood and marriage affect foreign policy?
Only in the case that Ni’a is the child of Phage and, in a way, so are Thomas and ‘afeje’a, and they are the only people who have been in contact with the Terra Supreme since the Sunspot was created.
- Does the level of technological advancement match the level of social and political advancement?
This is a strange question that we don’t know how to answer.
The level of technological advancement is nigh miraculous.
What the fuck even is social and political advancement?
At the least, though, technological advancement has utterly dictated what is possible and what is no longer needed aboard the Sunspot. A totalitarian technocracy is possible and even essentially in effect. However, the relationship between the Crew and the Children, and the fact that the Children eventually become members of the Crew, completely color that governance. And there is no scarcity of resources to fight over. At least, not on the Childhood level.
- What are the major political factions at present?
Pending – this is more complicated than one might think. We have notes elsewhere regarding this.
- How long have the current political factions been around?
Over 131 millennia.
- Which factions are allies and which are enemies?
- Are there any potential new forces on the political scene?
Yes. Ni’a is one in and of themself. So is Thomas. Also the Collective of the Cuttlecrabs. And the Outsiders who will arrive in somewhat under 250 years.
- How much influence do special interest groups (such as merchants, wizards, or religious sects) have on politics?
Politics consist entirely of special interest groups.
- How do interest groups exercise their influence?
By participating directly in government, or through clandestine action.
- What political positions are considered conservative?
Resistance to the changes of the Nanite Innovation, to Abacus’ Declaration, and Phage’s Proposal.
Preservation of the system of Sanctions.
Condemnation of the Terra Supreme.
Avoidance of Outsiders.
A total hands off approach to managing the Nursery (the Garden and the population of the Children). Colloquially called “the Apathy”.
- What political positions are considered liberal?
Acceptance of the changes of the Nanite Innovation, Abacus’ Declaration, and Phage’s Proposal.
Forgiveness and Grace for the Terra Supreme.
Contact with Outsiders.
The goal to integrate the Children and the Tutors with the Council of the Crew.
- Are there political positions that are unthinkable?
Institution of capital punishment, monetary systems, and manufactured scarcity.
- Are there any shaky political alliances between disparate groups?
The biggest rift amongst the Crew is that of the Apathy. Those who are Apathetic don’t tend to offer much say in Council matters, but they also vastly outnumber the rest of the Crew. It’s kind of an alliance in that the Apathetic allow the Council to go about their business without thinking about it much, but should they become concerned they could easily overpower the Council.
It is largely unknown how unified or divided the Apathetic might be.
Also, the Order of the Hunter has recently been Sanctioned by the Council for their rash actions they took in trying to preserve the Tunnel Apparatus and secure Thomas’ life. The two sides are currently attempting to mend relationships, and come to a new understanding of operation, and to eventually lift the Sanctions. However, the past enmity makes that new trust difficult.
- Why were the current alliances formed?
Pragmatic mutual interests, and lack of Apathy.
- How long before current alliances fall apart, and, when they do, what will the effects be?
As of the end of Outsider, within a generation. Phage’s Proposal promises to test all political relationships.
- What ancient rivalries and hatreds still affect current attitudes and political positions?
The Apathy, the division between the Children and the Crew, the subjugation of the Tutors, and the previous secrecy of the Order of the Hunter.
The difference in power between the Elder Crew and the entire rest of the ship is also a huge barrier to trust that will be exceedingly hard to overcome. Phage’s Proposal is in large part an attempt to upend that divide and make it irrelevant. This scares the living shit out of nearly everyone who is aware of it.
- Which peoples, countries, and races have been in conflict in the recent past?
The factions of the Crew had a major disagreement and massive conflict over how to address the revelations of the Order of the Hunter and whether to continue the projects started by the Nanite Innovation.
It resulted in the creation of a second Bridge, which was then merged with the first one, creating the Bifurcated Bridge. This, along with other security measures, prevents any one person or power from taking full control of the Bridge.
- what caused recent conflicts?
In a desperate attempt to advocate for kihnself, Gesetele hijacked the Bridge of the Sunspot while Phage was absent from the ship and after massive social chaos and upheaval in Phage’s and Ni’a’s absence.
- When was the last war and what was it about?
The last actual bloody war was the mutiny that spawned the Sunspot. It was about trans rights, to boil it down to the simplest of statements.
- Who won the last war?
The Elder Crew of the Sunspot.
- Are there ongoing tensions from the most recent war?
Yes. All tensions aboard the Sunspot stem from it in one way or another.
- What major weapons of war are available?
The construction nanites, which are both a technology of incredible societal accommodation and abundance, and a weapon of ultimate destruction.
- How much has the presence of magic affected strategy and tactics?
When Phage was summoned aboard the Sunspot, it initially caused more chaos. But once a truce was formed with it, Phage’s powers stabilized everything and put the ship into a social stasis for over a hundred millennia.
It didn’t solve everything, and tension had to be released and change initiated after all that time.
Phage, of course, thinks its powers are the solution to everything, so it is offering them to everyone as its Proposal, so long as there is unanimous consent. This would eventually make every living thing aboard the Sunspot an equal to Phage.
- Do army commanders have to use specific formations or techniques to deal with possible magical attacks?
The only way to counter Phage is to convince it to stop or to meet it with a being of equal power. There are no other beings of equal power, yet. Ni’a comes close, and may eventually be able to overpower Phage, but doesn’t see any reason to. Phage is their mother, and they have a good relationship.
- How can magic be used as part of a battle plan?
For all conflicts, internal and external, Phage and Ni’a work to reduce the amount of chaotic fluctuations aboard the ship, social and physical, and send excess energy out the drive spike, slightly accelerating the ship. They both try not to get involved any further than a general dampening of violent tendencies and its consequences.
There is no plan for if they encounter hostile Outsiders, as they have no experience with such things and until very recently it was believed that Outsiders didn’t exist or that encountering them was nigh impossible.
And war has been left so far into the past, and violence repressed for so long, that no one thinks to think about it.
- How are armies usually structured?
There are no armies.
- Are command structures formal and independent or is everybody officially under the command of the lord who brought them to army?
The only command structure is the Council of the Crew.
- If there is a formal structure, what are the various ranks and titles?
- Who can call up an army?
The people. The Council of the Crew can put out a call, but no army will form without the will of volunteers.
- How are the ranks filled in times of need?
- Are there professional soldiers and mercenaries?
Not in the slightest. Not even words for these things.
- Is a career in the army possible, or would one have to be a mercenary in order to make a living as a soldier?
Absolutely not. It just cannot be done.
- Does the army accept volunteers?
It’s the only way it could exist any time in the future.
- How large is a typical army?
Zero individuals or equipment.
- In an army, what percentage of the soldiers will be trained and what portion will be untrained recruits?
There will likely never be an army. By the time that conflict reaches the living populace of Children, almost everyone will most likely have accepted Phage’s Gift. And even if they haven’t, the combination of Phage, Ni’a, and the construction nanites under control of the Council will be more than enough to defend the ship. Adding bodies to the conflict would be pointless.
- Are recruits and conscripts given training, or are they expected to learn on the battlefield?
- How is the army supplied?
- Are soldiers allowed to live off the land and peasantry, or do they pay for what they take?
N/A – if there are ever soldiers, their needs will be provided by for the ship itself, just like with every other citizen.
- How are supplies handled during long campaigns?
- How many days worth of supplies can the army haul along with them?
Unless they leave the ship, this is irrelevant. A military Crew that leaves the ship would create another self-sustaining vessel similar to but smaller than the Sunspot. So the answer is that, as long as either the Sunspot or the new ship have functioning bussard collectors, supplies last indefinitely.
- What are the accepted conventions for making war (examples: only fight in winter when nobody is busy with crops; don’t make war on civilians; only certain kinds of weapons are used)?
There are none.
At default, everyone aboard the Sunspot (besides the Elder Crew) is raised to respect everyone’s autonomy and right to consent. So the first hurdle they’ll have to get over is their reluctance to harm their opponents. Once they do that, however, they have no sense of what is fair and what is not in such conflicts, and will do whatever it takes to bring it to a swift end.
The Elder Crew, on the other hand, are extremely jaded and cutthroat and put the Sunspot and their Children at the highest priority. They will think nothing of unleashing Phage and the nanites upon any clear and obvious threat, and putting no restrictions on any such actions beyond an initial attempt at peace.
- Do the accepted conventions vary by race or region?
They vary by Exodus Ship, but within the Sunspot they are irrelevant.
- How does the presence of non-humans affect strategy, tactics, and battles?
(“non-human” here and throughout most of this questionnaire should be taken to mean “non-ktletaccete”)
The Crew and populace of the Sunspot value the lives of the fauna above their own, and will go out of their way to protect the Sunspot’s ecosystem. This includes the protection of the Collective of the Cuttlecrabs.
Outsiders will not be ktletaccete (and may, very unlikely, be human). They will be initially treated as equals to the Children and fauna of the Sunspot up and until the point they prove to be an imminent threat, at which point all efforts will be made to repel them.
- Are special weapons required if an army is facing certain kinds of non-human armies?
- How would non-human soldiers turn their physical differences from humans to their advantage?
Unknown. Until those differences are learned, this can only be speculated upon.
- Are particular non-human races traditionally better with certain weapons? If so, why?
- Are particular human groups traditionally better with certain weapons, and if so, why?
The Sunspot consists of a habitat cylinder that is 400 km long by 210 km wide. The inner Garden has geographic features similar to Oregon and Washington put together, and is mostly wilderness. There are cities that dot that landscape capable of housing the current populace, though many people choose to live belowdecks for their own comfort.
(We chose Oregon and Washington because we live here, and the Sunspot is a reflection of our inner world. If you look at a map of the Garden, you’ll also find features that look familiar from other science fiction and fantasy stories. These are literary allusions and references to other worlds we have spent a lot of time in.)
There are enough quarters belowdecks, and enough hydroponic resources, to house 50 billion people. The Crew, however, have decided to restrict the living population to less than 4 million. This population fluctuates.
The Network consists of the Bridge, the Engine Room, spaces that parallel and interact with physical localities, innumerable private Netspaces, and communal rooms created and deleted by the populace as they need them. All Network spaces can be programmed to simulate any geographies or physics, and visiting them is very often like experiencing a dream.
In canon, the Sunspot itself is flying through a particularly sparse section of a very large galaxy that is not the Milkyway. There are no sources of harvestable matter larger than helium for hundreds of lightyears in every direction. There is an alien signal of obvious technological origin approximately 230-some lightyears dead ahead.
In the Kelvin timeline of Star Trek, in a fanfic set in Stardate 2272.9, the Sunspot has just buzzed the Sol System and is on a direct course to reach Romulus at a speed of warp 1.
Physical & Historical Features
- In which geographical areas will the game/books take place?
Stories may take place in any of the above locations, or completely outside of the Sunspot, or even in an Ancestor Ship.
- How much ground will the game/books cover?
Over time, hopefully, all of it.
- What are the most striking features of landscape and climate?
It is a spaceship. It is big enough to have mountains, rivers, a sea, and most of an atmosphere similar to the Earth’s. The sun and moon are balls of plasma that are sent from the forward endcap to the aft endcap every day and night. And if you look directly up while in the Garden, you can see the landscape above you, as it lines the inside of a gigantic cylinder.
Almost all the trees and most of the plants have purple leaves. Some are green.
- If there are non-human inhabitants, are there any areas or features they particularly claim as their own?
All inhabitants are non-human.
The Collective of the cuttlecrabs are non-ktletaccete, and they inhabit the shorelines of the Aft Sea.
Climate & Geography
- Have human (or non-human) activities affected climate or landscape in various regions?
The climate and landscape have all been meticulously designed by the Elder Crew of the Sunspot, and are maintained through careful monitoring and cultivation.
- If so, how were the climate or landscape affected?
- How does the setting (multiple moons, suns, &c.) affect the climate in various areas?
The suns are more radiant and brighter than Sol, causing more of the folliage to be purple for protection.
The suns, moons, and acceleration of the ship are subtly altered on a cycle to produce lunar months and seasons.
The weather system is large enough to be chaotic, but it is partially managed through machines embedded in the endcaps and spokes of the ship. Phage takes care of the rest of the chaos, monitoring it for potentially disastrous storms, and robbing them of energy at critical moments.
The construction nanites permeate the soil and are used to monitor the life and overall biosphere of the garden. They are also used to repair any damage caused by the actions of Children, Monsters, or Crew.
- How much land is in each of the equatorial, temperate, and polar zones?
The entire area of the Garden has a climate that is coincidentally very similar to the Pacific Northwest United States. The forward ice ring more closely resembles mountain glaciers than the Arctic circle.
- Where are the mountain ranges? The rivers and lakes? The deserts? The forests (tropical and otherwise)? The grasslands and plains?
The Ring Mountains are found circling the center of the Garden, halfway down the length of the habitat cylinder. Forward of the Ring Mountains is desert and rolling grasslands, riddled with rivers running from the forward ice ring to the Aft Sea. Most lakes are found in the mountain range and aftward. The sea shore is, on average, halfway between the Ring Mountains and the Aft Endcap, but it varies wildly.
The aft side of the mountains is mostly old growth temperate rain forest, however, there are some very fertile marshes as well.
- If there are mythological animals, how do they fit into the ecology?
The people are the mythological animals. The Collective call them “dragons”, and there is some indication that the original form of the ktletaccete resembles something that humans would call dragons.
There are uban myths about strange beings that haunt the fallow decks and quarters of the Sunspot, but no one has been able to prove they exist. The Monsters hold most of those stories and accounts.
- How did the mythological beasts come into being?
The Ktletaccete evolved on a planet that they have long, long since left, possibly billions of years ago, depending on how you reckon time with relativity. There have been over 31, possibly a hundred or more, Exodus ships between that planet and the Sunspot, each surviving thousands to hundreds of thousands of years before producing the next ship.
The Ktletaccete have evolved to the point that their own technology and breeding programs have changed them many times over, and they no longer resemble anything like their ancestors. However, there may be a sort of memory in the construction of their oldest language, Fenekere, and in the psychological tendency for Crew to alter their forms to resemble these dragon-like creatures. A kind of dysphoria, or instinct for shape, leads most of them to do this.
- What do the mythological creatures eat?
When the ktletaccete are alive, as children, food produced by the systems of the ship, mostly derived from fungus and algea (or lifeforms similar to such things), and some fruits.
When they are ascended, they do not eat anything, except as a simulation of eating for pleasure.
- How much and what kind of habitat do these mythological animals require?
In the Star Trek fanfic, the atmosphere is very similar to Earth’s and compatible with humans.
In the canon, it is irrelevant. The landscape, temperature, and abundance is very similar to parts of the Earth, but the actual makeup of the atmosphere and the nutrients available could be nearly anything within the range of tolerance for organic life. Since most concerns for fire are very similar to Earth, however, it’s probably nearly the same.
- Are there intelligent mythological animals?
Yes. All of them. Including Phage.
- How common are these mythological animals?
They are the populace. Or they are Phage, depending on your perspective.
- Are there any endangered species of animals or plants?
No! All life aboard the Sunspot is equally endangered by being on spacecraft hurtling through space, however, the ecosystem is very well maintained otherwise.
- Is anyone concerned about endangered species?
- What geological formations can affect the weather or the climate?
The sea, the mountains, and the forward ice ring form the largest weather affecting geological features, creating a cycle that causes temporate rainforests to grow aftward and deserts and grassland to grow forward of the mountains.
The next most influential features are the spokes and endcaps.
Aside from the atmospheric machines embedded in them, which mitigate their disruption of the wind more than anything, the spokes cast shadows at different times of the day up and down the length of the Sunspot. These shadows subtly alter the plant growth within them to a point where it is visibly noticeable. Plants tend to be more green within them.
- What are the natural wonders of the world, and where are they?
The forward ice ring, the ring mountains, and the aft sea. These aren’t exactly natural, however, having been created initially by the Founding Crew. Perhaps the most accurately named natural wonder is the gigantic field of nearly nothingness that the Sunspot is traveling through, between arms of a spiral galaxy.
- Which areas are the most fertile farmlands?
The belowdecks algea and fungus farms.
If the Garden were to be turned into aggricultural space, which it will never be, forward of the Ring Mountains would be good “apple” orchard terratory, and aft of the mountains would be a good place to grow “rapsberries” and “cranberries”. Or similar fruits.
- Where are mineral resources located?
The stores of harvested asteroids in the shipyards that line the hull of the habitat cylinder.
- which animals, birds, fish, and other wildlife are commonly found in which areas?
We have yet to describe much of the fauna. However, the habitats very closely resemble pre-colonial Washington and Oregon, and so the animals would fill very similar echological niches, geographically. Still, we plan on making most of the fauna very alien to Earth.
This is going to require further research on our part, and a lot of creativity that we’ve been aiming elsewhere until recently.
- If there are fantastical animals, such as dragons, where do they live?
In houses and on the Network. Phage lives in the Engine Room.
- Which natural resources, if any, have been depleted in which areas over time?
The building materials in the shipyards are dwindling slowly, for the most part.
Fuel fluctuates depending on the density of harvestable hydrogen in the space through which the Sunspot flies.
- Which resources are particularly abundant, and in which areas?
All food, and recycled building and crafting materials. Available from any maker.
- Which resources are scarce and where are they scarce?
The scarcest resource is slack in the system. The Susnpot is always right on the edge of vibrating chaotically apart in some way. Phage and Ni’a keep this in check.
- Are there places with major deposits that haven’t been discovered yet, or where such deposits haven’t been fully exploited?
N/A (the shipyards)
- How much conflict has there been or might eventually be caused by these imbalances in resources?
The books Ni’a and Outsider both cover the greatest conflict over these resources.
- How much active, peaceful trade is attributed to these resources?
There is no trade.
- What water resources are available, and for what uses?
The water cycle is abundant and relatively stable, and no one is in danger of thirst or going without.
- How many people are there in the world?
Approximately 2.6 million Children and 50 billion Crew, with Tutors numbering closer to 4 million.
- How many people are there in the various countries?
There are no countries. The Regions vary highly depending on number of cities and whims of the populace.
- What is considered a small town? A large town? A city?
Within the Garden, a small town might have as little as 20 people. The largest city has nearly 400,00.
In the Network, the population centers vary even more than that. Whatever you imagine, someone is probably doing it.
- How diverse is the population?
There is absolutely no race nor ethnicity. Genetic diversity is extreme, driven by the evolutionary engines that conceive individuals who are grown in incubators until birth. No two people can breed without considerable medical intervention and gene therapies.
The greatest population divides are between Children, Tutors, Monsters, the Collective and Crew.
Tutors come the closest to assigned gender, too, and are struggling collectively with the meaning of their existence.
- How many different races (human or non-human), creeds, cultures, and so on normally live in various cities and towns?
- In what percentages do these divisions occur?
- Is population shifting from rural to urban? From south to north? From mountains to coast?
The greatest shift in population is the new mingling of the Collective with the rest of the inhabitants of the Garden.
- If populations are shifting, why are they doing so?
The Collective finally declared their sentience and sapience, and the Crew, Tutors, and Children were forced by their own ethics to embrace them.
- What effects has migration had on the places being left behind?
Nothing, yet. The Collective prefer maintaining a strong presence on the shoreline, and really only venture into the rest of the ship to explore and socialize.
- What effects has migration had on the places that are gaining population?
New guidelines for interaction have had to be negotiated.
- Is there much immigration into or out of various countries? why or why not?
Coastal cities currently see more of the Collective than anywhere else in the ship. Also, ktletaccete are temporarily moving to coastal cities in order to meet the Collective and interact with them.
- Which geographical areas are most heavily populated?
The coastal Regions have more cities.
- Which regions are the least populated? Why?
The forward Regions. This seems to have been on the whim of the Founding Crew.
- Are certain regions or types of terrain more popular areas for non-humans, and, if so, why?
The Collective prefer the shoreline because it is their natural habitat.
- How are roads built?
The roads that exist were built and are maintained by the use of the construction nanites.
- What state are the roads in?
- Who pays for roads?
Everyone, the ship itself. Cost is negligible and goes largely unnoticed.
- Who maintains the roads?
- Given the magical and technological level of this society, what is an appropriate ratio of farmers to urban residents?
There are no subsistence or industrial farmers, besides those who choose to help tend the automated belowdecks farms. There are botanical artisans who maintain greenhouses throughout the cities. These may produce food or simply serve as parks full of interesting flora. You can spit and be confident you’ll hit a greenhouse (figuratively speaking).
- Given the state of the roads and of transportation, how much food is it possible to ship to a given location before it spoils?
This is not a concern in any way. Food is either grown right there, or it is transported via nanite driven food duct systems from the farms to food makers.
- Are rural areas primarily farms, forests, fields for grazing, or wastelands?
There are cities, belowdecks hallways and quarters, and the Wilderness, and nothing in-between.
Wildnerness is generally off limits to people, but some Monsters make their homes in it.
- In outlying areas where there aren’t many people, how many roads are there?
Very sparse. Roads exist in the Garden purely as parks for enjoyment.
- How reliable is the weather from year to year?
There are occasionally freak and disastrous storms that aren’t quite as bad as they could be, but otherwise it is remarkably stable with markedly different seasons.
- Is crop production relatively dependable, or do people have to cope with regular famines due to drought or floods?
Food is never scarce for anyone.
- What kinds of catastrophic weather events are common?
None. Catastrophic storms are legendary and remembered for centuries.
- Are there tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, waterspouts, dust storms, or sand storms?
Small versions of everything else are relatively common, and considered part of the standard climate.
Blizzards are very common in the mountains and the forward ice ring.
- How do people cope with adverse weather and weather-caused disasters?
Almost everyone goes inside or belowdecks until it blows over, and then they rely on the construction nanites to fix things slowly. Any large structures that need repairing are tended to by the Safety Patrol.
The Safety Patrol are similar to firefighters, and are equipped with exosuits (mechs) that they use to patrol populated areas and look out for and assist other people. They help in evacuating endangered areas.
- How are farming areas divided between humans and non-humans?
The Collective can eat nearly anything but they do not farm. They cultivate shellfish and other seashore life for eating, but have not developed farming yet, and do not seem inclined to.
- What kinds of conflicts are likely between humans and non-humans?
- Can common people own their own land, or does it all belong to a lord or other figure?
Land ownership is not a thing. Quarters are merely occupied. Everyone owns the whole ship equally.
- What kinds of rights over land, crops, game, and resources do landowners have?
- How are country dwellers viewed by city folk?
Mild curiosity. This divide doesn’t really exist in the same way as in most countries on Earth. If someone does not live in or under a city, they do so out of personal choice, usually meeting their own neurological needs by being somewhat reclusive. People are taught that this is natural and perfectly OK. And as there are no economic considerations for doing so, there is very little conflict created by it, except familial and personal where someone wishes their friend, sibling, or former Caretaker lived closer or further away.
- How do the country folk feel about city dwellers?
Similarly but in reverse to the above.
- Does the layout of cities reflect some philosophy, such as that the “head” of the city must be at the center or the highest point?
Each city is wildly unique and a work of collective art initiated by one or more of the Founding Crew and changed and cultivated by the populace.
- Were layout considerations mainly practical or did most cities just grow?
Construction was a combination of aesthetic choices and attempts to provide for the needs of a wildly physically diverse populace. Some cities are good for people who can fly. Others are good for people who can swim. Some are dense. Some are widely spread out. Some for people who like heights. Some for people who don’t.
- Are there public or private parks in any cities?
Yes. As common as greenhouses. All are considered public. Some are cultivated by artist collectives, and people are generally expected to respect their artistry.
- What kinds of activities take place in parks?
All kinds, even city council meetings.
- Are cities generally laid out on a square-grid system of streets or are things more labyrinthine?
The underlying architecture of the Sunspot is based on scutoids, which have alternating footprints of irregular hexagons and pentagons. Hallways belowdecks form a winding, meandering grid. Most cities reflect this in their layouts.
Fairport is unique in that it has several rectangular grids of city streets and almost all the buildings and houses are boxy with peaked roofs. This resembles the architecture and city designs of the predecessor ship, the Terra Supreme.
- How wide are the streets and alleys normally?
Most residential corridors are approximately six meters wide. (In the stories and our blender models, everything is measured in meters. However, the Sunspot’s measuring system may be slightly different. This is up for review.)
- What are the landmarks in each city?
Usually particularly ornate buildings or large community art projects.
Agaricales has Memorial Park, marking the area of the first and only explosion to occur on the Sunspot. It is the site of nine demolished buildings, and in the center of it is a monolith marking ground zero.
- Where are the interesting neighbourhoods?
Neighborhoods are normally demarcated by the types of artists that tend to congregate there. There are cullinary neighborhoods, textile neighborhoods, musical neighborhoods, and such. Though there’s always an overall mix of artisans in any given area.
Other factors are the physiological needs of the inhabitants. More aquatic Children tend to live closer to the water, or construct more pools, for instance.
- What things give each area its special character?
- Where do people go to shop? Where do they go to eat?
There is no shopping as such. But enjoying other people’s artisty is a similar activity. One may go to an artist’s collective to acquire an umbrella, for instance. It will be hand made and/or hand decorated, and you may walk away with it simply for a kind word of thanks and appreciation to the artist.
Sometimes people trade art, but it is not considered necessary, as everyone knows everyone else will “pay it forward” to use an inappropriate American turn of phrase.
- Is there an entertainment district? What kinds of entertainment are offered?
Yes. All kinds. See above.
- Does the city have tourists? What do they come to do?
Yes. Frequently. They come to do anything and everything.
- Are certain cities known for certain activities or industries?
Yes. Gorpa Pile, for instance, is known for its gigantic Lantern Tree project. And Agaricales is known for the explosion.
Society & Culture
Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation
- What is the status of the various arts in society?
Absolutely everything a person might do is considered an art. People are raised and taught to believe that, and the word Art is often treated as a proper noun.
- How are artists viewed?
Everyone is an artist.
- Are artists considered to be low or high class?
Artists are the only class.
- Who supports the arts?
The ship itself.
- Are there non-human races who tend to be naturally talented artists?
This is sort of nonsensical question for the culture of the Sunspot. There are, however, many, many things that the Collective have no experience doing, but they are very, very good at communicating and coordinating their own efforts. They are particularly good stewards of the sea shore..
- How does this affect the human practitioners of those arts?
Ktletaccete get asked a slew of questions by the Collective all the time.
- Which arts are most highly valued and why?
Food preparation. It is the most fundamental way of enriching people’s lives.
- Are there permanent theatres or concert halls?
- Who owns and runs performance venues?
- Are there travelling troupes of performers?
- What do people at various levels of society do for fun?
Anything and everything. There are even activities that resemble “extreme sports” found in the U.S.
Competitive sports are somewhat different, however, as conflict, particularly team conflict, is not central to the culture. Normally such sports more resemble an uncoordinated, chaotic free-for-all that are as much about appreciating physics and personal expression and anything else. Think Olympics without judges, or dodgeball without teams.
- What sports or pastimes are common?
Flying, swimming, eating, observing nature, music, theater, writing, and reading. Engineering and piloting vehicles in designated areas.
- Which pastimes require skill, money, or ample leisure time?
Most require some form of skill. None require any money. Everyone has the time.
- What games are commonly known?
Vehicular dodgeball is currently the only sport documented in the books. There are two card games mentioned and vaguely described, and their names were replaced with the localized “Shithead” and “Tonk”. We’re working on others.
- What games are common among everyone, and which are limited to the peasantry or to the nobility?
There are no classes. Games are common to EVERYONE, only restricted by interest. Even physical or mental disabilities are accommodated upon request.
- Are any games or pastimes illegal?
Anything that either hurts other people or the Wilderness.
- Are certain countries or cities known for a passion or expertise for particular games or pastimes?
Yes. This is to be documented further through the storytelling.
- Do non-human races have their own games and leisure pastimes?
The Collective mostly have the Chattering, which is like city council for their whole population, and hunting. They have started taking up writing, however.
Phage is trying out parenting.
- How do non-human hobbies and games differ from human games?
So much so that ktletaccete (probably humans) wouldn’t recognize them as hobbies and games.
“What’s your favorite game?”
“Do you mean hunting for anything other than food you need to eat?”
“What’s your second favorite game?”
“Like, just communicating amongst yourselves?”
“Yes! It’s very fun!”
“Do you ever chase each other?”
“No, we can chase food.”
“Not even for sex?”
“Why would we chase ourselves for reproduction?”
- What is the most common building material?
Prebuilt structures are made from various metal alloys and nanite produced concrete.
Child built structures usually use various forms of colored cement, with some metals and the wood-like material as accents or alternatives.
Since the Nanite Innovation, a lot of things like furniture and doors are being made out of moldable nanite clay.
- Why is it used?
- Does it have any major drawbacks?
One does get tired of the concrete textures when it is used absolutely everywhere.
- How are buildings normally ornamented?
Very. From overall structure to adornments, their designs are quite decorative.
- How tall a building can be constructed at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time?
Any height. Typically, building height is restricted by environmental impact.
- What are the typical floor plans like?
Open, single room dwellings with movable partitions are very common. But even multiroom dwellings are eminently reconfigurable. The only limitation is whether neighboring quarters or space is already occupied, and whether those occupants are cooperative with your plans.
- Can people afford to waste space on hallways or do they just have a series of rooms opening into other rooms?
Most quarters don’t have hallways because of the density of the population in city centers. However, some people have very elaborate and large living quarters on the periphery. This is seen as a fair trade for living a distance from everyone else. If you’re jealous of that, you can simply move out there and claim your space. Since material belongings are not a status symbol nor do they reflect wealth, collecting isn’t common outside of Libraries. So having a lot of space is more about personal needs for movement and psychological comfort than anything else. Most people have pretty small quarters and are fine with it.
- Are people’s businesses in their homes?
There are no businesses. That said, most people practice their artistry at home, while also attending communal artistry spaces and events.
- Are buildings normally built square? Domed?
Nope. Neither. Above ground, most buildings either have a pentagonal, hexagonal, or a totally irregular footprint made from a combination of hexagons and pentagons. What is done with the structure above the foundation is usually a unique expression of the builder.
Many architects imitate each other, and create variations on the popular themes. But a typical human from contemporary Earth visiting the Sunspot would remark upon what looks like extreme avant garde creativity.
The buildings of Agaricales, for isntance, have been described as looking like a colorful field of unique flowers.
- How large is a typical house?
The typical house is a multi-family unit similar in size to a U.S. American quadruplex, or set of 4 townhouses.
- How many people usually live in a typical house?
1 to 16 or so.
- What are the differences in materials and appearance between lower-class, middle-class, and upper-class housing?
N/A – there are no such classes amongst the Children.
- How do city houses differ from those in rural areas?
Cities are the only places with houses.
- How are living quarters arranged?
There is usually a central multi-use room, with a kitchenette attached to it. The washroom/toilet is usually a separate room. Sometimes there are separate bedrooms.
This can vary dramatically depending on the social needs of the inhabitants.
- Are parlours or libraries common?
No. Most gathering places are in public spaces (public libraries, convention halls, etc.). The dining table in the central room of most quarters represents the private gathering space of families and friends.
- Are there special rooms for guests?
Sometimes. If not, temporary quarters can often be secured nearby.
- Are parts of homes restricted to certain members of the household?
Almost never. Though a person can declare that they need their privacy and designate a given room as their space for a time.
- How are houses heated and cooled?
They are completely climate controlled, like the rest of the ship. It is even possible to make one part of a room cooler or more humid than another part of a room, as needed.
- Is there a single, generally accepted calendar or do different countries, peoples, or races have different methods of measuring time?
There are two calendars. One in which the number of days since the Sunspot was created is being counted, and the other where only the days of the year are counted. Most people use the latter, and might count the number of years since they were born.
The primary calendar is being kept updated by the Auditor (the ship’s computer). Very few people look at it because those who have access to it are horrified by the large numbers and the implication that they’ve been alive for so long.
- How is the day divided into smaller time units?
Precise measurements of time are unneeded for most activities outside of science and ship systems’ management. For such precise measurements, a metric based on Planck time is used.
For time of day, the passage of the suns and moons through the five hub rings mark general sections of the day. The central ring marks noon and midnight.
As the suns and moons travel at different speeds at different times of the year, these designations can vary quite a bit over time.
- What are the divisions of time?
Colloquially, early morning, mid morning, late morning, noon, early afternoon, mid afternoon, etc.
For precise measurements, it depends on which language you use.
In Fenekere, it is base 31 harmonics of Planck time, marked numerically by power.
In Inmararräo, it is a straight base 10 metric of Planck time. Most people don’t use such small measurements of time in this method, however, and start with a word that could be translated to “macro-unit” that is analogous to a second. The next useful unit up is ten macro-units, and the one after that is one hundred macro-units. (These have specific terms in Inmararräo that we have not cointed yet)
The problem of deriving perceptible measurements of time from Planck time is solved by the use of the Sunspot’s Network, which has incredibly powerful “processors”. No one knows who discovered Planck time nor who figured out how to design the Network. Many speculate that they were beings similar to Phage.
- Are the names of the time divisions relevant to anything?
Not in English translations of the stories, which have been heavily localized (and possibly badly so).
- Is the length of an hour fixed, or does it vary depending on changes in the length of the day as the seasons change?
Colloquial time units depend on the length of the day.
Planck based time units depend on the local Planck length. A difference that is hardly noticeable to all but Phage.
- What are the names of the months, and how many days are there in each?
- How many days in a week? Months in a year?
- Are there leap years?
- Who keeps track of the calendar?
The Auditor, and the Tutors who reference it.
- Who could make adjustments to the calendary, if necessary?
The Council of the Crew
- Which days are holidays or festival times?
Birthdays are the primary celebration, and these vary from person to person.
Memorial Day, the anniversary of the Explosion at Agaricales, has been observed since the event. (specific date TBD)
Every 31st day is celebrated as a day to share and honor artwork.
- What do the holidays and festivals celebrate?
Primarily social connections and gratitude for sharing life with each other.
- Are there holidays that are only celebrated in particular countries, cities, or regions?
Memorial Day is primarily observed in Agaricales. People go to Agaricales specifically to observe it.
- What events do people use to date years?
Birthdays for most people.
The creation of the Sunspot for the Auditor and the Founding Crew.
Currently, some people are marking the number of years since the Agaricales Explosion. This is thought of as “since the Nanite Innovation” since the explosion marked a political turning point in that social upheaval.
- Are these events single occurrences (the creation of the world, the end a war, the unification of the nation)?
- Are events dated based on arbitrary things such as a king’s reign, or a dynasty’s years in power)?
- How do people tell what time it is?
Typically, they look up at the sun or moon, or ask their Tutor. Some may have a Network program that tells them. Most people are not terribly concerned with time.
- Are there any days that are considered to be “outside the year”?
- How did these days originate?
- How do people feel about foreigners?
Initially, either skeptical or enthusiastically hopeful about their existence. Once discovered, deeply curious and excited. Some are terrified.
To the Sunspot, foreigners are all Outsiders, aliens, and largely unheard of outside of myths, legends, and science fiction stories.
- How do people feel about non-humans?
- How ready are people to accept different ideas?
Depends on the individual.
Crew tend to be very, very conservative but also very hands off. Tutors tend to follow the Crew, though more hands on, enforcing the status quo out of habit, but a handful are very radical and have been working subtly to change things for centuries or millennia.
By the time the Nannite Innovation occurred, most arguments about it had been resolved for generations.
But Children are comparatively inexperienced, and more unpredictable in their acceptance of change.
- How cosmopolitan is the average person?
This is a difficult thing to gauge, as the social divisions of the Sunspot are not remotely the same as Earth’s. Also, the neurodiversity of the ktletaccete is wide and respected, meaning that measuring a person’s gregariousness is complex and often just not done.
Except, in regards to the Crew. The vast majority of the Crew are reclusive and unaware of what is happening in regards to the rest of the ship, and Abacus has been taking it upon itself to try to correct that. An ultimately impossible task, but it tries anyway.
- How much social mobility is there?
Children can become Crew by dying and taking the Vow. They can become Monsters by rejecting their neural terminal and taking the Vow.
Monsters can become Children by accepting a neural terminal, and then can later become Crew by dying. If they do not accept a neural terminal, death is a complete end to their existence.
Tutors can become Crew at any time by taking the Vow, but this has not been done yet to anyone’s recollections or records.
Crew can serve on the Council any time they choose. Any Crew can become Captain of the Council upon vote of the Council, and anyone can refuse the post.
This whole structure is up for review and revision as per request by Abacus’ Declaration.
- What would it take for a person born in the lower class to advance to the middle class or beyond?
Taking the Vow of the Crew and earning the trust of the Crew Council and the populace.
- How much resistance is there to social mobility?
Simultaneously very little and an insurmountable amount.
- What things are considered luxuries?
Luxury isn’t really a social concept on the Sunspot.
- What do people in general look like?
Almost absolutely anything. The Evolutionary Engines that determine people’s genetics produce people who look like chimerical combinations of any kind of animal you can think of, with a few things in common. Brains are typically about the same size and complexity. Almost everyone has something akin to hands. Digestive systems are pretty consistent in function. Most people have four bony limbs, and about half of the populace have tails. Some people have tentacles or octopus-like arms. Some people even have exoskeletons of various sorts. People usually have two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth. Everyone has an anus, it might be combined with their urethra in a cloaca in some cases.
Vestigial reproductive systems vary dramatically, and are almost always only useful for pleasure.
- Who would stand out in a crowd?
Almost no one. But this varies.
In a crowd of Crew on the Network, only someone purposely drawing attention by literally pinging everyone within access range.
In a crowd of Children, a Monster would stand out to a Crew observer. To Children, Crew would look something like a lone Tutor, and Tutors are as abundant as Children.
Cuttlecrabs are undeniably Cuttlecrabs wherever they go, but they all look alike to most people.
- What is furniture like?
Either handmade and customized to the individual, a fixed backless stool or sunning rock, or a glob of nanite clay that can be shaped into nearly anything.
- What is furniture commonly made of?
The wood-like substance, metal, rock, nanite clay, and/or textiles.
- Are certain things reserved for high-status individuals?
Access to the use of Fenekere to program the Network. This isn’t status so much as trust afforded due to taking the Vow.
- In what ways does furniture design reflect the customs of people?
Furniture must serve the purpose of accommodating the wide variety of physiology exhibited by the Children of the Sunspot. After that, it must be beautiful.
- What are plumbing and sanitary systems like?
Managed by the construction nanites. Very little water is needed or used.
- Who builds and maintains the sanitary systems and how reliable are they?
The were built and are maintained by the nanites, and they are extremely reliable.
- Who do you call when the drains back up?
They do not back up, ever.
- How do people cope with various disasters — fire, flood, volcanic eruption, plague?
They band together and use the ship’s technology to save each other and to repair any damages. The Safety Patrol act as first responders and managers of disaster relief.
- How common are such disasters?
Pretty damn uncommon. Most people do not remember one happening to themselves personally.
- How early do people get up in the morning in the city? In the country?
Personal schedules vary dramatically from individual to individual. Since there are no economic demands on people’s time, people are very fluid about how they use it and live their lives. Mostly, they try to sync up with their closest relatives and friends.
- What kinds of people are likely to face prejudice?
Crew, then Monsters, then Tutors.
Outsiders are in a weird class of their own.
- Is this discrimination institutionalized or is it mostly a matter of public attitude?
In the case of Crew, Monsters, and Tutors, it is a result of social institutions, but is the public attitude.
In the case of Outsiders, it’s that no one has ever seen one before Thomas, and very few people have met Thomas. Phage is speculated to be an Outsider (it is), but people that know of it think of it as belonging to a whole different class of being similar to a god.
- What foods are staples and commonly eaten every day?
Things made from algae and fungus, at various levels of processing, and fruit. There is a fruit that vaguely resembles an apple that is quite popular.
- What foods are considered peasant food?
There are no nobles and no peasants.
- What foods are rare?
Meat is unheard of, outside of the knowledge that fauna sometimes eat other fauna.
- What foods are normally cooked and which are eaten raw?
Fruits and vegetables are often but not always eaten raw. Everything else is heavily prepared, baked, cooked, or processed in some way.
- What is the food like?
Either fresh fruits and vegetables, or what Earthlings might consider “breakfast pastries”.
Proteins from algae, fungus, and grains can be reconstituted in ways that resemble egg whites and gluten (actually, gluten is probably a thing that exists). Fats can come from certain fruits and vegetables. As an example, it is possible to create something like a Dutch baby with these ingredients, and it is possible to make it taste almost exactly like a Dutch baby if you have the chemical profile of one to sample and aim for. There are a number of dishes that resemble a Dutch baby, coincidentally. Also things similar to croissants, muffins, loaves of bread, etc.
Fruit cocktails are also pretty common.
Herbs and spices are prized by people who have sensory seaking needs.
- What dishes are considered to be holiday food?
Whatever is currently popular, spectacular, or everyone’s most common favorite.
- What foods and drinks are associated with particular holidays and events or times of the year?
None in particular.
- When a guest arrives, is food or drink offered immediately, after an interval, or only on request?
It is only offered if it is currently being made. Food is in such abundance that its presence and access for health and wellbeing is taken for granted and holds little social weight. However, it is a form of artistry and if someone is making some they are usually very happy to share it.
- Is there a particular food or drink that it is customary to offer a newly arrived guest?
That all said, tea. Or, something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. Share and enjoy! (Steeped herbs, sometimes mixed with a milky substance made from fungus.)
- Is there a traditional food or drink given to a guest who is departing?
Anything recently home made.
- How many meals are considered normal in a day?
This varies per individual, as individual needs vary dramatically.
- When are meals served?
When agreed upon.
- Which meals are substantial, and which are light?
Snacks are light. Hand crafted meals can often be substantial, especially if several cooks start working together due to mutual enthusiasm.
- Are certain foods reserved mainly for a particular meal?
- What dishes would be considered typical of the various areas?
Colder areas or times of year do tend to favor warm food and drinks more. But otherwise, regional differences have more to do with fad than resources. Everyone has the same resources. And the fads change over time.
- What wines or beers are thought of as typical for various regions?
- Is there a safe supply of drinking water?
At all times, abundantly.
- Do people (including children) drink ale or beer exclusively?
No. There are drinks similar to beer and ale, but they are viewed with some caution. Most people are not so stressed that they feel the need to remain drunk for lengthy periods of time. Conversely, no one is particularly worried about exposure to intoxicating beverages. Dangerous addiction is just not really a thing most of the time. So children can have some in moderation for their size and metabolism, and responsible behavior is learned as easily as it is for anything else.
- Which herbs and spices are readily available, and which must be imported?
- How common and expensive are imported foods and spices?
- Do people tend to like highly spiced food?
This varies dramatically from person to person. There is no social status for preferring highly spiced food. It is simply seen as an accommodation for sensory seeking needs.
- How is food preserved for use during the off-season — smoking, freezing, canning, salting, pickling, drying?
There is no off-season. However, all these things are done to various foods specifically to alter their flavor and texture, or to save things for somewhat later. An artisan who tends to hyperfocus on a non-food related Art might, for instance, prepare or acquire preserved foods to use as a month’s worth of snacks to eat while working.
- How reliable are the food preservation methods used?
Food that must be thrown away is recycled by the nanites and/or used as fertilizer for new food.
- How often do preserved foods spoil?
- When food is limited in supply, who gets first dibs?
It is absolutely abundant. No one need worry about first dibs.
People who have not tried a given food before are still given light preferential treatment, however.
- What things are never eaten? Why?
Meat. Meat is for the fauna. It is not necessary for any Ktletaccete’s diet.
The Collective, however, eat mostly meat, and this is something that socially marks them as fauna in most people’s minds. People find this confusing to navigate, and try to ignore it.
- What foods do non-humans like, and how do these differ from those favoured by humans?
Phage, also non-ktletaccete (in theory), simultaneously doesn’t eat anything while also considering itself to be in the constant state of “eating everything”.
- Are some foods poisonous or distasteful to one species that are delicacies or necessary to another?
Generally, if it is poisonous or distasteful to the Ktletaccete, it isn’t called food. The Collective might eat it, however. See meat.
- Are any classes of society limited in what foods they may eat?
Those who do not have physiological bodies do not need to eat. But there are ways in which they can still enjoy eating. Otherwise, no.
The Collective are allowed to catch and eat meat.
- Do special circumstances (such as pregnancy) ever restrict diet?
Only due to actual physiological needs.
- Do religions have any beliefs about food and diet?
Generally, the things that resemble religions on the Sunspot do not enforce behaviors upon anyone. That is contrary to the overall culture of the Sunspot.
- Who dines together and who always dines separately?
Anyone may dine together. Dining together is done by wim, opportunity, and invitation, as a general celebration of food and community.
- Do men and women, parents and children, servants and masters eat together?
There are essentially no such divisions of people, besides Caretakers and children. Everyone is always welcome to dine together.
- How is social status displayed at the table?
It is not.
- Are special dining customs observed on certain holidays or for certain events?
Possibly by religion. TBD.
- What distinguishes a formal or high-court dinner from an ordinary meal, besides quantity and variety of food?
There is no such thing.
- How do formal manners differ from everyday ones?
The only formal manners are those agreed upon to use during Council meetings.
- What eating utensils are used, if any?
Bowls, cups, plates, knives, tongs, spoons, and anything customized for the individual. There are things that resemble forks that have gone in and out of fashion.
- Have utensils developed in the culture or been imported?
Everything has been developed within the culture, and usually to accommodate someone’s specific needs or artistic expression.
- What is the order of a typical upper-class meal?
- What shape are tables and eating areas?
Usually hexagonal or pentagonal. Sometimes circular.
- Where is the place of honour for a guest?
There is none. Wherever they are most comfortable.
- Where do important members of the household sit?
Wherever they are most comfortable, in equality to everyone else.
- Are special arrangements necessary for entertaining guests of different races or species?
Special seating and eating accommodations are needed for the Collective, but these are not seen as any more onerous as personal accommodations needed for anyone else. They just tend to be more consistent for each sub Collective that may be visiting, as cuttlecrabs do not vary in physiology nearly as much as the ktletaccete do.
- How do the eating customs of different races reflect their cultures and biology?
- How much does it cost to get various levels of education?
- What education is available, and where?
Education is not formalized, and information is free. Tutors are a constant reference for anything. And people teach each other skills and knowledge as enthusiasm guides them.
- Are there schoolhouses in every town, or do ordinary people have to travel if they want to be educated?
Libraries and artist collectives are within walking distance of nearly every living quarters. Everyone who is not a Monster or Crew has a Tutor.
- Are there universities? Private tutors?
Kind of? Nothing formalized and not quite with those terms.
Tutors are a specific breed of people assigned to guide Children through life. There are Children who take it upon themselves to imitate Tutors, and use a similar word that is derived from that one (tutor in lowercase in the English translations), but this is generally not very common, and most people are just thought of as Artisans of various degrees of experience and friendliness.
There is a great artist collective of study belowdecks in Gopra Pyle, that was translated to “school” when Abacus talked about it. This most closely resembles an Earth university, but without a central structure of authority or management.
- What is the literacy level in the general population?
Based entirely upon natural ability and eagerness to use accommodations. Everyone has equal access to information and cultural records and literature. How they access it varies wildly. Writing isn’t particularly considered central to the storage of such information.
Knowledge of Fenekere, however, provides access to ships systems one might not otherwise have. And generally it is only accessible by the Crew. This is changing.
- Is literacy considered a useful or necessary skill for nobility, or something only scribes, clerks, or servants need?
There are no nobility.
- What areas are considered absolutely necessary knowledge for a courtier?
- Which areas of education are nice but not necessary?
Anything that is not crucial to getting along with other people.
- What areas of knowledge would be slightly embarrassing if anyone found out about them?
How to hurt other people.
- How respected are teachers and scholars?
Anyone willing to teach is honored for the time they are doing so. But they are not held as infallible or unbiased.
- Who supports educators?
The ship itself. Everyone. The Crew.
- Are there anti-intellectual groups?
Not really. There are some Monsters who are vehemently skeptical of what eveyrone is being taught by the Tutors, but they are very individualistic in nature and often consider themselves the actual intellectuals. (They’re also often not wrong.)
- Is education legally restricted in any way?
Knowledge of the Terra Supreme has been suppressed since the construction of the Sunspot, and nobody knows what a gender is. Well, Phage and the Founding Crew know.
- Are there people for whom education is illegal?
Ethics & Values
- What will people swear a binding oath by?
The Children of the Sunspot.
“My Tutor’s wisdom and experience.” (this is sometimes sarcastic)
- What do people use as curse words?
Pretty much anything. People are very creative about cussing, and can turn nearly any word into a cuss word through context. But synonyms of shit and fuck are common anyway.
- When and why are curse words used?
Cuss words are used either to relieve pain and stress while working, or to emphasize expression.
There are almost no slurs, and creating slurs is frowned upon.
- What are the most desired and most valuable things in this society?
Experiences, friendship, understanding, and artistry.
- Why is the most valued item so desired?
Ancient works of artistry that still exist are the most valued item. They are preserved as a record of what people in the past may have done. These are usually kept in libraries.
- Do different races value different things?
The Collective does not value things. They value knowledge and experiences somewhat more than the ktletaccete, if that is possible.
- Is there a race or culture for whom non-material things (information, time, spiritual enlightenment) are the valuable things?
- If a people values immaterial things, how did they get that way?
In a world of abundance, material things hold social value only as examples of someone’s artistry or of common accommodation. Everything can be replicated and replaced except personal expression, and even that can be imitated.
- What things are considered to be normal and acceptable in this society that might be considered abnormal or unacceptable by ours?
The lack of money. The lack of weapons. The lack of police. The lack of social classes. The presence of Tutors. The technocracy of the Crew. The utter lack of privacy combined with the nearly universal respect for privacy. The two sentient rights, Autonomy and Consent. The Network. The Construction Nanites. The lack of gender. The lack of nuclear families, lineage, or parents as we know them. The breeding program.
- What things are considered shocking in this society?
Rape, murder, and the act of someone giving live birth (not all equally shocking – the latter is more curiosity). The violation of Consent and Autonomy.
- What are the reactions of ordinary people when someone does one of these shocking things?
For violation of Consent and Automony (which includes rape and murder), generally anger and frustration. There is an acknowledgement that people and society cannot ever be perfect, and situations arise that are impossible to navigate, but people are generally horrified at the thought of being put in such a situation. They tend to hold the Crew accountable above all others, even for the actions of others.
For live birth, simply shock and wonder, and possibly jealousy in rare cases.
- What are the acceptable limits to honour or honesty in society?
Any catch 22, or ethical paradox.
- Is it possible to get out of a binding oath?
Consent may be revoked at any time. This means that binding oaths can be called off simply through open, good faith communication.
- Are white lies socially acceptable?
Some people think so. Most do not even see their necessity. But if a “white lie” does not impair anyone’s access to autonomy and consent, it is ignored. However, such an argument is hard to make.
It is being discovered that Tutors have been directed to lie by the Crew for millennia, and this is considered to be the closest thing to sin by anyone who thinks about it.
- What are the attitudes toward ownership?
If you make something, it is yours, a part of you in a way. If you use something regularly, or while you are using it temporarily, it is seen in a similar light. And your rights to consent and autonomy extend to it as if it was part of your body until you obviously discard it. Otherwise, ownership isn’t really a concept.
- What constitutes theft, and what can be stolen with few repercussions?
Removal of something from someone’s possession when they are not done with it. Repercussions vary depending on the circumstances and the motive of the act.
- Are thieves organized in a guild, licensed by law, or freelance?
- Who is considered to be a citizen, with the rights and privileges thereof?
Ah. Everyone is considered to be a citizen until it is discovered and pointed out by Abacus that the Founding Crew have access to ship commands that no one else will ever have, and that the Vow of the Crew is a further division of access and rights. And finally that Tutors are taken for granted and used for the sole purpose of Tutoring, if willingly. At that point, people have started to realize that there are some pretty extreme divisions of citizenship and rights.
- What are the rights and privileges of citizens?
Autonomy and Consent, and access to any necessary accommodation to participate in society equally.
See above for how this applies in practice.
- What responsibilities do citizens bear?
To respect the Autonomy and Consent of all others.
- Can citizenship be revoked?
- Are there certain groups of people who have fewer legal rights or less recourse than full citizens?
- Why do those people have fewer rights than others?
Either as a result of age or of the initial social structure of the Sunspot.
- What are the most controversial subjects in this culture?
The rights, purpose, and future of the Tutors. The breeding program. The Crew.
- What things can you easily start a friendly argument about in any bar?
Artistic technique. What Outsiders might be like.
- What things will automatically start an unfriendly argument?
Any indication that physical or mental variance is undesirable or unfortunate, or particularly desirable or better.
- What are the social taboos?
Discrimination, and violation of Consent and Autonomy. Talking too much about the Crew. Talking too much about the Monsters. These latter two things are changing slowly through necessity and knowledge.
- What things are simply “not done”?
Rape is probably the biggest one. There’s very little social motivation for it, in any case. But it is looked upon with abject horror when it is discovered. Murder is a close second.
- What things are never talked about?
Things that there are no words or concepts for: war, weapons, gender. etc.
- What would happen if someone did something socially unacceptable?
Since socially unacceptable things are all crimes, they would be taken to trial. Particularly if someone objected.
- How do social taboos vary for different races and groups of people?
The Collective, as fauna, are afforded more freedoms and leeway than anyone else.
- What are the biggest social faux pas?
Any attempt at coercion.
- What are considered to be faux pas?
Light faux pas include using the wrong name or pronouns for someone (usually a simple mistake, but still embarrassing).
- What subjects or actions cause embarrassment or discomfort?
Any accidental or deliberate indication that one intends to violate the consent or autonomy of another. Admission of having done so in the past. Desire for a system that restricts consent or autonomy.
- What are the society’s mores regarding courtship, marriage, and family?
Marriage does not exist. Vows are pretty uncommon.
People form partnerships of all types organically. Since marriage isn’t known or a goal, courtship isn’t socially important or an institution. The closest thing is flirting, which may be a lead up to any sort of future interactions.
A person may have numerous sexual or romantic relationships, either concurrently or over the course of their life, or both. Polyamory and monogamy are not words, and there is no social institution of proscribed relationships. Trust and openness are taken for granted and cultivated habitually by most people.
Family is who you are most comfortable being with, and the temporary relationship between Caretaker and children. Some Tutors are considered family, but Tutors sort of have their own culture amongst themselves as well.
- Is marriage primarily a civil or a religious institution?
- Why are people usually married?
- What are the standards of beauty for people?
Very personal and individual. Beauty is not a thing of social status, generally.
- What are the standards of beauty for paintings and sculpture?
The more people who worked on a thing, the more valued it is by others. Otherwise, it is very personal.
- What are the standards of beauty for clothes and furniture?
Same as above, but with the additional consideration of utility.
- What kind of ideal life do people aspire to?
The exploration of curiosity and sharing of expression.
- What kinds of people are the rebels, outcasts, and misfits of this society?
The Monsters, who reject their neural terminals and consign themselves to mortality.
- How does society deal with them?
The Monsters are afforded extra rights and protections by the Crew, as they are extra vulnerable. The Monsters in turn also tend to keep to themselves and hide from nearly everyone else. They already did not feel like they fit in for one reason or another, usually, and solitude and reclusion are usually seen as a necessary accommodation for them. Otherwise, people are curious about them, sometimes viewing them with pity, sometimes respect.
- Who are the arbiters of ethics (as opposed to law)?
Tutors. Any given person.
- How did they become the arbiters?
Tutors became arbiters through experience and assignment.
Everyone is an equal arbiter otherwise simply through the existence of the two rights.
Fashion & Dress
- What do people wear?
Some people go naked. Others wear art. Something akin to ponchos are very popular as wearable by nearly anyone. Pants, skirts, and shirts are not unheard of. Undergarments are very personalized.
- How expensive is clothing?
There is no money. Clothing is as abundant as food.
- Can the material be produced locally, or must some or all of it be imported?
Everything ever is local.
- Are certain clothes customary for certain occupations?
Safety padding and protection is used by anybody who is doing something dangerous.
- How much variation is allowed?
Variation is encouraged and celebrated.
- Is it quality or style which is most important?
These are not seen as opposing or separate qualia.
- How frequently does style and fashion change?
In a world with no economy and where personal accommodation is paramount, fads of fashion and style are very superficial and ephemeral, and most people ignore them.
- Who sets the trends?
- Are the dyes for certain colours rare, making cloth of that colour more expensive or reserved for high-status people?
- Are there sumptuary laws defining who may wear what?
- What are the penalties for dressing above or below one’s station?
- Who decides when changes are needed to such sumptuary laws?
- How often are sumptuary laws adjusted?
- How many changes of clothes can a normal person afford? A noble person?
- How often do people change their clothes?
This varies dramatically by a person’s needs. Thanks to the nanites, clothes can be worn almost indefinitely, without worrying about cleaning them. And some people prefer consistency, which is respected. Others change their clothes or accesseries multiple times a day. This is common with plural systems, as they switch who is fronting.
- How often do people wash their clothes?
Clothes are self cleaning (and self repairing), thanks to the nanites.
- What are the current fashions in clothes? In hats? Jewelry? Shoes?
Nothing notable or long lasting.
- Do fashions differ for humans and non-humans?
The Collective do not have fashions at all.
- Do they differ from country to country or from ethnicity to ethnicity?
There are no ethnicities. Regions and cities do have local trends, usually by artist collective and mutual enthusiasm. These spread and shift fluidly.
- What materials are appropriate for the climate?
Personal needs vary more than climate demands. There is no “appropriate”.
- What cloth must be imported, and is therefore used only for expensive clothing?
- What styles are considered tacky and vulgar?
Anything that is utterly impractical and gets in the way of others. But it is viewed with some humor, too.
- What types of decorations and accessories are common?
Piercings, body modifications, and nanite tattoos are very common. Tool and food pouches are common, but not ubiquitous. Book bags are valued. Umbrellas and parasols are known. Hats are loved. Ponchos are everywhere.
- What colours and combinations of colours are thought to look good together, or to clash?
This varies dramatically by individual, but regions tend to decorate their hallways and foundations with agreed upon color combinations to unify their neighborhoods. Usually, community colors are muted with a single more striking accent color. Making the base colors both unique and capable of being mixed with other colors without too much visual clashing is prized in these cases. Local flora are often used as inspiration for regional colors and designs.
- Do opinions on colours vary from race to race?
The Collective do see color a bit differently than the average ktletaccete. However, individual ktletaccete vary even more than that, so it’s hard to mark a cultural difference.
- What physical features and characteristics are currently fashionable?
This kind of judgment is a social faux pas.
- How do trends in physical beauty vary for non-humans?
The Collective view other lifeforms through a lens of survival. They are curious to learn what is dangerous and what is not, and what is edible. But they are also very curious about how other beings experience themselves, and instead of forming their own opinions will ask innumerable questions.
Amongst themselves, they value communication and mobility, but will accommodate any individual who is poor at either as best as they can. Although they are effectively a hive mind, individuals are valued for their perspectives and their memories. When an invididual dies, the hive mind loses valuable insight, and a voice that contributes to the Chattering. There is mourning. Differences in physicality are prized as differences in perspective, even disabilities.
- How far back are there records or tales of historical events?
There are immaculate records all the way back to the construction of the Sunspot. Prior to that, there are only the memories of the Founding Crew and the weird random universal knowledge of Phage.
However, these records are so detailed that sifting through them for anything is a nigh insurmountable task for nearly anyone unassisted. And, initially, they were only accessible by the Crew and the Tutors. Since the Nanite Innovation, they have been opened up.
Amongst the Children, records extend back to the adulthoods of the first generation, and are somewhat less consistent or detailed.
The Monsters keep all their records in hand written books, which are found in various Monster libraries stashed around the ship.
- How widely known are these stories?
Books, whether in written, vocal, or Network form, are prized, and the popular ones are nearly universally known. This recently includes the Sunspot Chronicles.
However, as knowledge of the past has usually been accessible through the Tutors, and upon request, the need to memorize or be familiar with history is not really A Thing until recently.
Things are changing.
- Do average people believe the old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact?
Most people are in the habit of mostly believing their Tutors and the books they read.
Anything involving Outsiders is usually assumed to be speculation or fiction.
Stories involving Monsters and Phage were viewed as urban legends, until recently.
Phage’s stories about its own origins are viewed with skepticism by everyone. It is both hard to believe and hard to entirely dismiss.
- How long have there been people on this world?
Since its construction 131+ millennia ago.
- Did they evolve, were they created by the gods, or did they migrate from somewhere else?
Nobody knows how many genetic engineering programs have created generations of people since the first Exodus ship was built. No one knows what the genetics of the original ktletaccete looked like. Phage may suddenly be able to access this information some day, but no one will know if they can trust its veracity.
It is speculated that people evolved on their origin planet to the point of being able to do almost everything that the people of the Sunspot can currently do, and then they built the Exodus Ships for some reason.
It is unknown if individual ships have technologically progressed or regressed since then. It is unknown how much science has been lost. Communication between ships is very sparse and reluctant, restricted for various unstated reasons by the Order of the Hunter.
Phage is the closest thing to a god that people are aware of, and it has been suggested that it is the direct descendant of the ancestors of the Ktletaccete, come from their origin point. It has no reliable or interpretable memories from before its arrival on the Sunspot.
- If there are non-humans, how long have they been around and where did they come from?
The Collective have been extant in some form since before the Sunspot was created. The current Collective was bred by the Crew upon creation of the Sunspot and left to evolve on their own since. No one was aware of the sapience until recently.
- Where did the civilizations begin?
Presumably on planet, in some other galaxy, a long, long, long, long time ago.
- What directions did they spread?
- How was development affected by the presence of working magic?
Probably, the abilities of someone like Phage were used to design the Exodus ships and their systems. The construction nanites are miraculous by Earth understandings of physics, for instance, and complex computational machines like them probably couldn’t have been built without violating said physics.
- How was development affected by the existence of non-human races?
- How have the actions of gods affected civilization’s development?
Phage has preserved the Sunspot’s existence where it would have failed long ago.
- Which peoples, countries, ethnicities, and races have fought, been allies, traded, or traditionally been rivals?
N/A, see above regarding the Terra Supreme
- Where are such old events still important or still causing hard feelings?
Communication with the Terra Supreme is under Sanction due to mistrust from the Founding Crew, and Phage’s inclination to protect both ships.
- Which peoples, countries, ethnicities, and races have been in conflict or have allied in the recent past and why?
- Which people are considered the most and least civilized?
N/A (“civilized” is a very loaded and subjective term, steeped in colonialist bullshit – we try not to use it)
- Which people are the most and least technologically advanced?
The Collective hardly use technology that isn’t created for them by the ktletaccete. Though they will be capable of and inspired to construct dwellings of their own eventually.
- Which people are the most and least magically advanced?
This depends on how you define magic. Either magic doesn’t exist at all, or what Phage and Ni’a are capable of doing are magic. No one else, yet, has access to that power.
The Adventures of Molly Rocketcoil represent a speculation by Thomas and ‘afeje’a about how Phage’s powers work and how common they are in the rest of the universe. They are not canon, except in as much as Phage may have assisted them in writing their stories.
There are two known spoken languages on the Sunspot. Fenekere and Inmararräo. In our reality both these languages are fully fleshed out conlangs, and can be learned by anybody with access to our files for them (which we will provide soon).
There is also a sign language, which we have not defined or named yet, but it is referred to in Ni’a. (We would be open to assistance in constructing it via anyone familiar with sign languages, otherwise we will do our best when we get to it.)
Fenekere is an ancient tongue of the ktletaccete and a dead language. It is used as the programming language of the Sunspot’s Network.
Inmararräo is a constantly evolving language inherited from the Terra Supreme and is believed to be a conglomerate language of all languages that were exported via the Exodus ships. It clearly gets many of its root words from Fenekere, for instance. The Inmararräo spoken on the Sunspot is different enough from that spoken on the Terra Supreme that Thomas had to rely on ‘afeje’a to translate for him for some time.
(the Inmararräo we have created predates both those languages canonically, but we are using it as Sunspot Inmararräo until such time as we can decide how to evolve it. Depending on our own life demands and events, this may never happen. We do plan on doing it, though.)
- Is there a trade language that facilitates commerce between countries that don’t speak the same tongue?
- Is there a universal language spoken by educated or noble persons?
- Is there a liturgical tongue?
Fenekere is the closest thing to this.
- What language are religious documents kept in?
Inmararräo. The common tongue.
- Are some or all people bilingual?
Most crew are bilingual, knowing both Inmararräo and Fenekere. Most everyone else just knows Inmararräo.
- Is there a common second language many people know?
Besides sign language, no. Sing language is taught to nearly everyone, and is almost a part of Inmararräo.
- Are there secret languages or codes known only by priests, soldiers, guild members?
Fenekere is again the closest thing to this.
- If there are secret languages, why were they developed?
Maybe. If so, they are probably used by the Monsters. Some by artisans who are curious and passionate about languages.
- Are secret languages fully functional (they can express anything one could normally express in language) or are they limited to a certain scope?
- What are the variations in speech patterns, syntax, and slang from one social class to another?
This is mostly generational. Language changes spread fast around the Sunspot, though radical drift and change is suppressed somewhat by the Tutors.
- Are there variations in speech patterns from one occupation to another?
Not really, no. Maybe with cussing.
- Are there regional variations in speech?
Cussing. Artistry jargon.
- From what areas do local slang phrases come?
- What kinds of colourful turns of phrase do people use?
Creative cussing. There is a joy in turning mundane things into the profane in novel ways.
The oldest example is “Stop boiling shit,” to mean “shut up”. A more creative example would be a raw exclamation of frustration, “Oh, rotten fruit slime on a pastry!”
- For what things would a local language have many specific words to indicate fine differences?
Emotions, sensations, and aspects of artistry.
- What do the people in this culture consider important enough to name?
Works of art that they are particularly proud of. This can be ANYTHING, including taking a shit.
- What do people use as curse words?
As described above, nearly anything. Turning the common into the profane is a valued art form. Shit and fuck are the most common, though.
- How many languages are there?
Three: Fenekere, Inmararräo, and sign language.
- Which languages are related and why?
Fenekere predates Inmararräo, and Inmararräo has many root words that come from Fenekere.
- Which languages borrow words or phrases from other languages?
- Which languages are the most widely spoken?
- Are there different languages for different races?
Not really. There aren’t races, in any case. The Collective are a whole different species of being. They have the Chattering, but it contains Inmararräo.
- Is there a special language needed in order to talk with dragons or other beasts?
- Do wizards have a special language that is used for magic?
- If magic is its own language, where do practitioners learn it?
Fenekere is learned from other members of the Crew or through self directed study using ship records.
- Is it safe to chat in the language of magic?
Mostly. The Network is usually capable of telling the difference between conversation and commands.
- How close do people stand to one another when speaking?
This varies, but personal space is prized by many.
- Does personal space differ from place to place?
No. It differs from individual to individual.
- How do people with different ideas of personal space react to one another?
- Are gestures and body language in this society generally subtle?
No, actually. They come pretty close to a sign language on their own and incorporate gestures from the actual ship’s sign language (we have not constructed or named this language, yet, and refer to it as signing in the books).
- Do people talk with their hands, or is that considered vulgar?
- What gestures are insulting?
Any gesture that’s meant as an insult. These are treated the same way as cussing verbally.
Grinding hips as in sex is probably the most vulgar, though, and a pretty big social faux pax. Most people will feel embarrassed after doing it, though they might try to hide that embarrassment. It’s not that sex itself is taboo, but that making that gesture is seen as a threat of sexual coercion.
Conversely, a gesture that imitates masturbation is considered very mild and usually self deprecating.
- What do the insulting gestures mean?
Generally, “your art is awful.” “You are boiling shit,” is a pretty old common one.
- Do some gestures differ in meaning depending on the culture or time?
There is a drift over time similar to spoken language.
- How do overall gestures and body language differ between countries?
The Collective have their own set of gestures, with some overlap with the ktletaccete. The Sunspot has an almost completely different gestural language from the Terra Supreme at this point.
- Are there things that don’t matter in one area that are mortal insults in another?
Not really. Unless you’re talking about the differences between Exodus Ships themselves. But these aren’t worth enumerating.
- What are the different ways of showing respect to another?
Asking consent. Telling people your name and pronouns. Conceding the conversational floor. If you’ve interrupted someone, ask consent to continue with the interruption, and then remind them of where they left off when you are done.
- To whom is one expected to show respect?
- What are the rules of precedence?
The first to speak, whether vocally or gesturally, is the first to concede the floor.
- Who gets to go through doors first? Who gets introduced first in a social setting?
This is negotiated individually. There is no guideline except general friendliness.
- Do these rules differ in a formal setting?
In Council, a form of parliamentary procedure is observed.
- Is there a distinction between formal good manners and informal, everyday manners?
Only between Council behavior and causal behavior.
- When and where are people expected to be on their best behaviour?
In Council meetings.
- How important are good manners in this society?
Manners are simple and based around asking consent for various things and checking in that accommodations are met. They are considered very important, but also taken for granted and done fairly casually and without much thought.
- How do good manners differ from race to race?
The Collective are learning.
- How do people react when someone has just been, by their standards, rude?
Usually, a furrowed brow and a reminder that the person has been rude. If there is continued rudeness, then rudeness will often be returned. Though it is encouraged to simply walk away.
- Are people shocked when an outsider learns their manners? Are they patronizing, condescending, or supportive?
This kind of interaction is uknown by those who don’t know Thomas personally. Thomas is lucky to be surrounded by supportive people. But it’s possible most people would be supportive.
Meeting & Greeting
- How do people greet one another and how did this greeting originate?
“May I speak with you?” is super common.
A friendly gesture meaning “carry on” is essentially the form of waving. Also gestures meaning “keep up the good work” or “well done!”
Old friends will say, “It is good to see you!” or ask, “What is your Art today?”
Contractions of these sentences are common.
- Is there a special i-am-not-armed gesture for wizards or others with dangerous abilities?
No. Asking consent to interact is usually seen as peaceful enough. And everyone does that.
- Is there a difference between the greeting offered to an equal and that offered to a superior or inferior?
No. Though there may be fear expressed by a Child upon seeing Crew, depending on what they know about the Crew.
- Are there different greetings offered to men or women? Humans and a non-human?
There are no men and women. The Collective simply wave their tentacles frantically, and everyone else seems to find it cute and are starting to imitate it with their hands. To do this yourself, raise your hands to about shoulder level, palms forward, grin broadly, eyebrows up, and then quickly wave your hands back and forth symetrically, with fingers splayed. Do not be careful about it.
- Is there a way of changing a greeting gesture to make it insulting?
Yes. But it’s not done all that often.
- When meeting someone for the first time, how are they greeted?
Names and pronouns are exchanged.
- Does this greeting differ if one already knows the person?
Updates on changes to names and pronouns are asked for, but only after not seeing the other for a long time. Otherwise, this is skipped altogether.
- If you see someone you know on the far side of the street, how do you acknowledge them?
A wave of some sort, with a smile.
- How are two people who have not met before introduced to one another?
“You are two people whom I would like to meet each other. I think you have something to share.”
Each individual is allowed to introduce their own names and pronouns, usually.
Sometimes the introducer will say, “This is so and so, and their pronouns are such in such.” But this is rare, and usually a sign that expediency is in order for some reason.
- What is the order of precedence when there are several people of differing sex, social status, or race present who must all be introduced to one another?
None. See above about first to speak is first to concede the floor.
- Are there people or beings who are never introduced to one another?
Before the Nanite Innovation, the Crew were never seen by anybody else. Other than that, no.
- Are true names significant, and if so, under what circumstances would a person be told another’s true name?
A person’s only true name is the name they currently identify by. It is the only name used. Old names are discarded and forgotten, irrelevant.
- Are there customs involving the way in which someone is named when being introduced
Usually, it is polite to allow them to name themselves.
Religion & Philosophy
- Are there actual gods or god-like beings?
Phage and its child, Ni’a, are closest to this. Phage calls itself a personified manifestation of Entropy Itself, and its powers seem to reflect that. Ni’a’s name means “the Chaos of Life” and their powers seem to reflect that in their subtle differences from Phage.
It is speculated, however, that Phage is an ascended being that is a descendant of the ancestors of the ktletaccete, and that it can somehow unluck abilities similar to its own in other people and beings. This has yet to be seen besides in the conception of Ni’a.
- If so, do they take an active role in the religions that worship them?
Oh, yes. Phage is known as The Chief of the Monsters for a reason.
- Do they take an active role in the lives of everyday people? If so, why?
Yes. If Phage and Ni’a did not, the Sunspot would have destroyed itself long ago. This does not mean answering prayers and solving personal problems. It means altering the course of physics for the whole ship in general to keep it safe.
- How many gods are there, and is there a hierarchy among them?
Two. Phage and Ni’a, parent and child. They do not like being called “gods”, however.
(Except that Ni’a is actually three people.)
- Which gods are good or evil, or is this meaningless when speaking of gods?
- How do various religions view non-believers?
- How do the various religions view foreigners? Non-humans?
- Which religions support the government, and which are more interested in ordinary people?
This varies and is currently undefined. TBD
- Is there a difference between miracles and magic?
- If there is a difference, how are they distinguished?
- Is there tension, rivalry, or outright hostility between any of the gods?
Only the occasional typical mother/child miscommunication. Phage is considerably older and much less “human” than Ni’a, and this results in Ni’a being confused by Phage’s behavior sometimes and feeling a little neglected.
- How do the relationships between the gods affect church politics?
There aren’t really any churches. Mostly, known events between Phage and Ni’a cause people to speculate and wonder. Since it is possible to directly ask either of them a question as if you are asking another person, things can be confirmed pretty quick.
- Do the relationships between the gods affect people’s everyday lives?
They can. Read Ni’a and Outsider for examples of this.
- Where does religion fit into this society?
It’s nearly non-existant. Certainly not institutional, and tends to be very personal.
- Is there a state church?
- Is freedom of religion normal?
- Do people generally think of the temples and churches as parasites, or as useful parts of society?
There are shrines and audiences, and they are viewed as works of Artistry.
- If there are actual, demonstrable gods, what part does faith play in their worship?
Very little. There is trust, but it is earned. At this point, Phage and Ni’a are beings that walk amongst everyone else. They are seen and treated as extremely physically and psychicly powerful people.
- Why do the gods want worship?
They don’t. Not in the slightest, but they tolerate it to a point. If anyone worships, it is of their own volition and due to their own individual emotional needs. Worship is considered very eccentric on the Sunspot. The Crew used to be the closest thing to gods that people knew about, and worshipping them was not asked for or encouraged by the Crew through the Tutors.
- What are the various religious rites like, and why?
Usually the creation of poetry, music, and other art.
- What offerings are considered good?
Thank you’s and compliments. Some think that information and opinions are warranted.
- Are people supposed to pick one or more gods to worship and ignore the others, or do most people pray to whomever is most likely to grant results in their situation?
Worship of the “gods” is not really a normal thing.
Most people simply follow certain spiritual philosophies and schools of thought.
So, those that actually worship Phage and/or Ni’a, or any of the legendary beings that might or might not exist, are seen as particularly eccentric.
- How do people decide which god to worship or which temple to be affiliated with?
Personal enthusiasm, curiosity, awe, and general interest.
- What part do the various religions and philosophies play in public and private life?
Any art that is creating in their practice. Otherwise, not much.
- Are philosophers and theologians considered academics?
There are no academics.
- How much influence do the theories of philosophers and theologians have on the way people actually behave?
About as much as any other art form.
- Are priests or philosophers full-time occupations, or do they need day jobs?
Only if they want them to be. No one earns anything for any art they perform, except self satisfaction and the appreciation of their audiences.
- If they are full-time, who supports them?
Like with everyone else, the ship itself.
- Why are the gods interested in people?
Phage, because it was contractually obligated to at first, but then grew to love everyone. Ni’a is interested in people because they are a people and they love people. It seems to be their nature. They both want family and friends, and to not be lonely.
- Are they more human-like or are they transcendent and incomprehensible?
Yes. They are very “human”. They are also closer to “inhumanity” than anyone else. They can shift between these two states fluidly, and sometimes inhabit them simultaneously.
- Do the gods have limits to what they can do?
- Are there limits to what the gods will do?
- Can the gods make mistakes?
- How do the various temples and philosophies explain the classic problem of evil?
What classic problem of evil? (“good” and “evil” are not commonly accepted concepts)
However, the classic problem of suffering (similar to the classic problem of evil), is addressed in all three books of the Sunspot Chronicles in different ways. In at least one, it is during a direct conversation with Phage. It is not resolved by anyone, and usually considered to be a great frustration with the universe itself. Phage hates it.
- What are the easiest and most common ways to advance in status?
Death and taking the Vow of the Crew. Otherwise, more subtle, less substantial status is gained through service.
- Can one attain higher status by amassing more money, marrying well, getting the ruler’s favor?
- How much resistance is there to someone advancing in social status?
None, as it either doesn’t mean much or is anyone’s right through age and experience.
- What are the various ranks and titles and proper forms of address for the aristocracy and nobility?
- What is the proper means to addressing peers, social betters, or social inferiors?
By name and/or pronoun.
- Which occupations are the most respected? Why?
None in particular. (There are no occupations, as such, only artistries.)
- Which professions are the most looked down upon? Why?
- How many levels are there in this society?
Six: Fauna, Children, Tutors, Monsters, Crew, Founding Crew
- How firm are the divisions between the levels of society?
Very firm, but in the process of being broken down.
- Is it possible to move between the levels of society?
Yes. As described above, Children can become Monsters or Crew. There are other ways of mobility, but they really haven’t been explored yet.
- How difficult is it to rise or fall from one social level to another?
Children will inevitably rise to Crewhood, if they don’t become Monsters. It is impossible to fall, only to be Sanctioned.
- How much social mobility is there?
Within each teer, there is the utmost of mobility. The ideal that most everyone agrees must be achieved some day is free mobility between all the teers. Even for Crew to become Children, in a way, by being born into a new physiological body.
- How much social mobility do people think there is?
Until recently, none.
- Are there questions that must be asked or avoided when visiting someone?
Since everyone is connected neurologically by the Network already, visits tend to be times to get down to work on mutual projects. Sometimes that’s simply taking the opportunity to hug each other, or have a meal together, other times it’s working on an artistic project of some sort (remembering that art in this culture refers to any skill). Sometimes it’s literally just shutting up and enjoying each other’s physical presence in the same room. Usually, all parties already know what’s planned.
If someone new is visiting, names and pronouns are exchanged, and people talk about their interests and what they’re currently focused on, to get everyone up to speed and see if a new relationship of some sort is in order. But otherwise, it’s pretty much like any other visit, and any other social exchange.
- Are there topics that can only be raised by the host? By the guest?
No. The biggest difference between host and guest is that the space is considered to be an extension of the host’s personal space, and the guest should ask consent to do anything significant within it, such as enter it. The guest’s own autonomy mitigates this to some degree. There are gray, fuzzy areas where people’s rights meet.
- How seriously does the culture take the responsibilities of host and guest?
There aren’t really very many responsibilities, but those that do exist are extrapolations of all social responsibilities, derived from the Two Sentient Rights, Autonomy and Consent. Crimes can be committed by violating someone else’s right to Autonomy and Consent.
This isn’t as scary as it sounds. In practice, it is more lenient than most U.S. American culture.
- What rules define when someone becomes a host or guest?
Simple. When you are visiting someone else’s living or work quarters, you are their guest, and they are the host. There are words for guest and host, but they aren’t really talked about much, though. It’s just not as important as it is for a lot of Earth cultures. It’s almost purely a matter of deciding who needs to ask consent for what.
- What things are considered courteous to offer a guest: food, reading material, personal guards, attendants, music, entertainment?
There are no personal guards or attendants anywhere on the Sunspot.
Asking the question, “How may I accommodate you?” is probably the politest thing one can do.
- What is considered a courteous response to a host’s offer?
An honest answer.
- Are there things offered that it is considered rude to accept? Rude to refuse? Rude to ask for?
No. Subtext and obtuse, ironic ritual are not prized on the Sunspot. Pride and saving face are also not a cultural thing. People more often tend to be straightforward and honest to a fault, and the culture reflects and encourages that.
- When a guest arrives, is food or drink offered immediately, after an interval, or only on request?
Food or drink is offered if they are being made at the time.
Since this is a culture of abundance, it is not assumed that anyone in particular is starving or thirsty or in need in any way. But it is polite to share any artistry you are performing in someone’s presence.
- How do the different customs of various countries and races interact and conflict?
The Collective don’t really understand individuality or privacy. They find both concepts fairly hard to grasp. This means that even in the remarkably open and honest society of the ktletaccete, they can still test people and be frustrating, forgetting personal space and certain rituals of asking consent.
They learn fast how to change their behavior, so relations are improving every hour of every day. They just have to learn the same things for different scenarios, because they don’t understand the reason why very well, and the rules seem arbitrary and they can’t extrapolate and synthesize how that reasoning would apply in different situations. Instead, they are collecting an exhaustive list of what not to do when.
Conversely, despite being connected by the Network, the ktletaccete don’t share information between each other nearly as thoroughly and efficiently as the Collective do, and many ktletaccete are ignorant of the Collective’s needs and the Crew’s proclamations for how to treat them. So the Collective is constantly having to bring new people up to speed, and is somewhat bewildered by that.
Magic & Science
Magic & Magicians
- How do various religions view magic?
There is a school of thought that Phage’s abilities are a technology that is so advanced it seems like magic to everyone else.
And there is another school of thought that it is exactly what it says it is and that its powers are a function of its existence as a Law of Physics.
And there is yet another that suggests that there are beings that might as well be thought of as gods that can do the things that it does, and that these beings are somehow drawn to clusters of consciousness. And that Phage is one of them.
And there is yet another that ponders whether or not Phage’s abilities are an emergent behavior of consciousness itself, and that every conscious being has the potential to attain that power.
The existence of Ni’a complicates all these ideas in different ways, and is part of the reason people are beginning to believe that last school of thought. Phage itself seems to be adopting it.
- Do any religions forbid magic or require it? And if so, what’s their reasoning?
- Do any require or forbid priests to practice magic?
- How has the presence of magic and magicians affected law and government?
Phage was Sanctioned to confinement in the Engine Room upon its initial arrival because it was frightening and thought untrustworthy. It voluntarily remained there until it could be shown to the Council of the Crew that it was trustworthy.
Its antics since have helped uncover secrets and truths that must be accommodated by law.
- Are wizards barred from certain kinds of government posts?
Not since Phage’s Sanction was lifted. But it has not tried to be a member of the Crew Council. It would need to take the Vow of the Crew first, and has refused to do so. Ni’a is still too busy being a Child to do so, but has come close. They have visited the Bridge.
- Do some positions require that their holder be a wizard?
As there is no difference between “god” and “wizard” and there are only two such people, this question is really irrelevant.
- Are the laws of nature and physics actually different in this world or are they the same as in real life?
They are the same up until the point of having to explain Phage, Ni’a, and the technology of the Sunspot.
- If the laws of nature and physics are the same, then how does magic fit in?
It exists wherever the nature and physics are not the same.
- Which peoples, races, cultures, countries, or ethnicities are most magically advanced?
- Is magic legal?
- Is all magic legal, or only some types?
- Do laws about magic vary widely from country to country, or is the attitude generally similar?
- Are there magical artifacts?
- If so, who made them and how?
- Are magical effects permanent, or does the magic wear off after a while?
Magic is just like moving an arm or leg, or pushing a button and making technology do a thing. Nothing is permanent, but the effects continue happening after the event as a natural course of physics.
- What effect has magic had on law? On art? On technology? On entertainment?
- Where is magical research done?
By asking Phage or Ni’a direct questions, and by the two experimenting with their abilities.
- Are magicians a force in politics?
- Are there national politics that revolve around magic or wizards?
- How much as the presence of magic affected military strategy and tactics in general?
It makes a military completely unnecessary and totally outclassed.
- Is healing usually a magical process?
It can be, but usually isn’t.
- If so, how does the magical healing talent or spell work?
By the alteration of the flow of energy. Metabolisms of cells are accelerated and boosted by the changing of physics itself. Even the pull of the various forces of matter, such as gravity and magnetism, are altered. Time itself is altered locally.
- Does a magical healer have to consciously direct the healing process, or does magical healing simply speed up the normal healing process in the patient?
Either can be done. Conscious direction makes it more extensive and effective, speeding it up and allowing things that otherwise couldn’t happen. The use of nanites can improve this, too.
- Is there more than one kind of magical healer and if so are they rivals or simply different specialities?
There are two magical healers, Phage and Ni’a.
- Is forensic magic possible?
Yes. There is an example of this in Ni’a.
- Can forensic magic be used to investigate only certain types of crimes (and if so, which)?
- Are the results of forensic spells admissible in court as evidence?
There are no spells. The use of magic forensically may be admissible in court. It has not been attempted yet, there is no precedent.
- Can magic be used in the arts, and if so, how?
Yes. Ni’a and Phage can manipulate how matter is molded and how energy is applied to matter, allowing them to do some hands off work, or some very minute detailed work, or to alter the state of matter unaided by technology.
- How do “normal” artists feel about artists who use magic?
Curiosity and awe.
- How do magicians feel about non-magical people?
Ni’a and Phage both hope to be equals with everyone else one day.
- Is there a specific name for those who cannot do magic?
- Are spells fast enough to be useful in hand-to-hand combat, or is magic useful only for long, slow things?
There are no spells. Magic can also be described as a psionic ability. It can be done as quickly as any physical act, even faster sometimes. It is so useful in combat that anyone who does not have access to it is completely outclassed.
Magic & Technology
- Are there magical means of transportation?
Not unless the Sunspot itself can be considered so (and it might be). Anchor and Spindrift might be considered magical transportation, but they are currently purely fictional in canon.
- How does magical transportation compare in speed, safety, and expense to non-magical means?
In the Adventures of Molly Rocketcoil, which is canonically fictional, it is speculated that Phage could help design and build a warp drive and a shuttle powerplant with an indefinite fuel supply.
- Are magical weapons available?
- Can magic be used in warfare? In what ways?
Phage and Ni’a would use their magic to suppress conflict and the chaos of destruction. Phage has been known to make weapons malfunction. It could do the same to any equipment.
They could both do much, much worse, but won’t.
- How has the presence of magic affected weapons technology?
Weapons technology is Sanctioned and not researched or developed.
In as much as the nanites constitute weapons technology, Phage’s abilities can accelerate their utility and function and guide them in precision strikes of unerring accuracy and molecular detail. Phage can also predict upcoming events and enemy maneuvers.
We speculate that if the Borg encountered the Sunspot, for instance, the Borg would lose quickly. The Sunspot Council would seek to subdue and repel them initially, but if they persisted, the next step would be to dismantle their technology and rehabilitate the drones. Phage, upon ascertaining their nature, would push for the latter, and maybe take unilateral action.
The nanites alone would not be able to pierce Borg shields. However, Phage would simply make those shield fail (along with any weapons the Borg attempted to fire).
- Do you have to do anything special to armour, weapons, walls, &c. to make them better able to resist spells?
Nothing can be done. There are no spells.
- Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them extremely lethal or will this work properly only on things that are already weapons?
No. Phage or Ni’a can actively channel energy that is being applied to structures, however, to reduce or increase damage.
- Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them (or their user) much, much better at whatever they do?
No. See above.
- How common and useful are such enchanted objects?
They do not exist.
- To what degree do magical objects and the presence of wizards and spells replace or duplicate technology?
Not at all. Yet.
Rules of Magic
- What things can magic not do?
The one known rule of magic is that the broader and more extensive that Phage or Ni’a attempt to extend their powers, the less conscious they are, and the fewer tiny details they notice. They become clumsy and more likely to injure individuals, and they care less about people.
A speculated limitation is that those with the power can withdraw consent to experience the effects of others with the power. There is no reason for this speculation except wishful thinking (and maybe the hunch of Phage).
- What are the limits of magical power?
As described above, the physical limits seem to be roughly the size of the immediate complex system, the Sunspot.
However, Ni’a can project their consciousness to make contact with any being within electromagnetic communications and detection. This may be parsecs of distance, or further.
- Where does magic power come from? What is its source?
- Is magic an exhaustible resource?
No. Except in the way that the universe itself is an exhaustible resource.
- What does one need to do to cast a spell?
There are no spells. Magical actions are like exercising a muscle.
- How long does it take to cast a spell?
With a thought.
- Can spells be stored for later, instant use?
- Do spells take lots of long ritual, or is magic a point-and-shoot kind of thing?
Point and shoot.
- Can two or more wizards combine their power to cast a stronger spell?
There are no spells. But, yes, definitely.
- What makes one wizard more powerful than another?
- Does practicing magic have any detrimental effect on the magician?
Temporary and varied loss of “humanity”.
- If the effects can be detrimental, is there any way to prevent these them?
By taking breaks or by not doing magic at all. Maintaining a personal link with someone is sometimes useful.
- Are detrimental effects inevitable in all magicians, or do they affect only those with some sort of predisposition?
Inevitable, but it seems to vary from individual to individual.
- Do the effects progress at the same rate in everyone?
- How much is actually known in the world about the laws of magic?
Not much at all.
- How much of that which is “known” is actually incorrect?
- What general varieties of magic are practiced?
Two. Phage’s and Ni’a’s.
- Do any varieties of magic work better than others?
Ni’a is better at some things than Phage and visa versa.
- Is there a numerical limit to the number of wizards in the world? Why?
- Are different races good at different kinds of magic?
- Is a magician’s lifetime normally longer or shorter than average? Why?
Longer. Access to magic guarantees spiritual immortality, but a magic user can also actively extend the life of their body.
- How are illegal magicians apprehended and punished?
That is a good question. It has been done before with Phage, but it seems that Phage maybe consented to its apprehension and Sanction. Otherwise, how could it have been detained?
- Is the apprehension of illegal practitioners the responsibility of the magician’s guild, or do ordinary law enforcement agencies have to deal with it?
The Council of the Crew.
- How does a magician tap magical power?
By reaching out and doing a thing.
- Does becoming a magician require some rite of passage or does it just happen naturally?
For now, it is a purely natural ability. But it may be possible to unlock it in anyone. It might even be possible for an individual to unlock it in themselves, but no one knows how that might be so.
- Is magic a result of study or just part of growing up?
It is a result of being connected to the greater universe, somehow.
- Are there things (such as magical staves, wands, familiars, and crystal balls) that are necessary or useful to have before casting spells?
- Where and how do wizards get these things?
- Are certain kinds of magic practiced solely or chiefly by one sex or another? By one race or culture or another?
- Does a magician’s magical ability or power change over time?
- Can a magician use up all of their magic, thus ceasing to be a magician?
- What do an ex-magicians do with themselves?
- Can the ability to do magic be lost? How?
It might be given up, and locked away, through consent and the act of another such being. However, this is pure speculation and wishful thinking at this point.
- Can the ability to do magic be forcibly taken away? How and by whom?
Not at all. At least, as far as it is known.
- What is the price magicians pay in order to be magicians?
Being different from and more powerful than everyone else.
- Is magic a profession, an art, or just a job?
It is a state of being.
- What is the status accorded to magicians in society?
- At what level is medicine?
Nigh miraculous, but restricted by technology, like in Star Trek. Nanites are used extensively instead of teleporter technology. (There are no teleporters or holograms)
- Who are the healers?
Volunteers who have studied healing. The nanites. The Crew. The Tutors.
- Do you have to have a talent to heal?
Just knowledge and skill.
- Who trains healers, herbalists, apothecaries, surgeons, magical and non-magical?
Other healers, Tutors.
- What customs surround death and burial?
Bodies are recycled after a memorial ceremony. People make up what ceremonies and rituals they need as survivors. This is personal.
Now that it is known that people ascend to the Network upon the deaths of their bodies, people often participate in their own death ceremonies, and the whole tone of it is changing dramatically.
- Is there a special class of people (doctors, priests, funeral directors, untouchables) who deal with dead bodies?
- How accurate is the diagnostic process?
Pretty damn accurate and exceedingly precise.
- Do healers have ways of telling two diseases apart if they have similar symptoms?
- Do healers depend on standard physical medical tests (reflexes, temperature, dilated pupils) or do they normally use spells for diagnosis?
They usually use technology, in the form on nanites.
- How expensive are healers?
No personal cost.
- How available are such services to ordinary people?
As abundant as any other artistry. At the very least, a Tutor can do most of the work.
- How much is known about anatomy, physiology, pathology, psychology, and so on?
- Are treatments based on purely practical experience, or do healers understand at least some of what they are doing?
Healers have access to the entirety of Sunspot knowledge of physiology and biology. Tutors have the entire lifetime of the Sunpot’s existence as personal experience working with this knowledge on a nearly daily basis.
- Are there stories (true or false) about why certain remedies work or fail?
If something can’t be healed or cured, it is usually due to biodiversity and is something unencountered before.
- How much training does a healer normally get?
As much as they want. Tutors have hundreds of millennia of experience to impart to anyone, or to use themselves. Tutors always at least assist in healing, even for any Monster who consents to it.
- Is healing generally a magical process?
Only very rarely.
- Is there a reliable method of birth control?
Yes, and everyone has it. Everyone is infertile unless they take medical therapies to reverse it.
- Who normally handles births?
Births from the incubators are usually managed by the Tutors and prospective Caretakers.
- What is the maternal mortality rate? The infant mortality rate?
There is no maternal mortality rate. Infant mortality rate is very near zero.
- Who can become a healer?
- Are there various kinds of healers (herbalists, wise-women, pharmacists, apothecaries, surgeons, doctors, nurses, witchdoctors)?
Not institutionally, besides the difference between Tutor, Child, and Crew. But some people specialize in different areas of health due to personal interest.
- If there are different kinds of healers, why are the distinctions made?
- What kinds of treatments are available and how effective are they?
Everything from herbal remedies to nanite microsurgeries. All are very effective for what they are.
- Is it possible to resurrect or resuscitate someone who has died?
Yes, within limits.
- If revival is possible, how long is it before it becomes impossible, or before serious brain damage sets in?
This is pretty similar to with contemporary humans, with some more leeway available due to technology and/or the presence of Phage or Ni’a.
- How is insanity treated?
As neurodiversity. It is accommodated according to the individual’s right to consent and maintain autonomy.
- Are there asylums or treatment centres?
Not at all.
- How effective are treatments for insanity?
There is really no definition of insanity or sanity. It is not viewed as A Thing.
- How much do the physical differences between human and non-human races affect their medical treatment?
Since there is so much diversity within the ktletaccete themselves, the differences between them and the Collective are negligible. It is easier to heal a member of the Collective, in a way, since what works for one typically works for the others.
- Are there some diseases that only affect non-humans, or only humans?
- Are some treatments lethal to one species but effective in another?
Members of the Collective are very small, so doses of things must be smaller. Also, timing is more critical.
- Do physicians have to specialize in non-human medicine in order to do a good job of it?
Basically. Or, it can be said that ktletaccete medicine prepares physicians for anything.
Science & Technology
- Is the level of technology in this society comparable to that of ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution?
Way, way beyond that. Closer to Star Trek.
- What important inventions or advances have been made (the wheel, stirrups, gunpowder, printing, flush toilets)?
Fusion, construction nanites, quantum computing, the Tunnel Apparatus, wild genetic engineering, neural ascension to the Network.
- Have any of them been produced in quantities sufficient to affect the daily lives of the average person, or are they a luxury for nobles only?
The lives of the average person are completely shaped by this technology right down to their cellular physiology.
- What inventions or advances have not been made that one would expect to see at this stage of technological development? Why haven’t they eventuated?
Teleporters and warp drive. These things may not be physically possible.
- What advancers are about to be made?
Ubiquitous magic (Phagely powers).
- How much is known about the laws of nature, physics, and magic?
Much more than is currently know. There is still even more than is unknown and only speculated upon.
- How much of what is commonly known is factually wrong?
- Where is scientific research done? Universities, private labs, under the auspices of the government?
Individual passion by anyone, in concert with anyone else enthusiastic about it.
- In what areas might magic replace technology, and thus suppress its development?
Possibly everything. No one knows.
- In what areas might magic cause more rapid technological or scientific development?
Possibly everything. No one knows.
- How do the technology levels and scientific knowledge of non-human races compare to those of humans?
The Collective are very rudimentary in these areas, more akin to today’s chimpanzees or crows. They are extremely linguistically advanced, however, and capable of learning much.
Transportation & Communication
- What are the common domesticated animals used for transportation at various levels of society?
- Are there magical means of transportation?
Not yet. “Astral projection” for Phage and Ni’a.
- For traveling short distances within a city, what are the alternatives?
Walking, velocipede, taking a tram. Flying or gliding for those with wings.
- How are messages sent when necessary?
Via Network, usually. Like email or SMS.
- Is there a public or private postal system, or does everyone of importance have to send messengers?
The Network is ubiquitous.
- How fast can news get from one point to another?
Speed of light and thought.
- Are there magical means of communication? How common and reliable are they? How expensive?
Ni’a and Phage can essentially perform telepathy. They do not typically do this on request from others.
- How available is water transportation?
Not terribly. Watercraft exist for recreation, but their range is limited to parks.
- How common is travel (for any reason)?
- Does the concept of traveling just “to see the world” or for fun even exist?
Absolutely. It is the primary reason.
- How dangerous is travel?
Hardly dangerous at all, unless you are walking through the Wilderness. Even then, the danger is pretty minimal.
- How large a group is considered safe for travelling?
- How much traffic is there inside and outside the main cities?
Traffic mostly occurs within the cities or along the tram lines between cities. Elsewhere it is very, very sparse.
- Which areas are the best and worst for travel?
Designated areas are best for travel. Sanctioned areas, such as the Wilderness, are worse for travel, and likely to get the attention of the Crew, or reprimands from one’s Tutor.
- What is the fastest means of travelling long distances over land? Over water?
Level 1 Express Tram, belowdecks. Second fastest is airship.
- What are the safest means of travel?
- What is transportation like?
Walking, velocipede, or tram, typically. Recreational powered personal vehicles exist but aren’t really used outside of parks.
- Are there good roads? Who builds them?
All of them.
- Are there tolls?
- Are roads guarded or patrolled?
No, but they are always monitored by ship systems.
- Where would a traveler stay at night?
Any fallow quarters, or just wherever they decide to lie down.
- Are there enough travelers to support inns, or do people have to stay at monasteries or others’ homes?
- Are some classes of people (slaves, peasants) who are not expected to travel at all?
- Are some (heralds, messengers) expected to travel constantly?
- How do people find out what is happening in the world?
Asking their friends or Tutors. Word of Mouth. The News feed from the Crew.
- How slanted is the news they get this way, and in what direction?
This is a complicated question. Most events can be verified personally by checking ship records, which are not doctored that anyone knows of. However, historically, there have been things that the Tutors have been required to suppress, and people have suspected this. So there is a certain amount of bias that is added to word of mouth, and people interpret what they self investigate through their own biases.
- Is there freedom of the press? If not, who controls or censors it, by what means, and for what purpose?
There is no press, as such. There is freedom of communication, so long as it does not endanger the inhabitants of the Sunspot.
- How are books produced?
Usually by hand, or personally recorded to the Network. They can be easily duplicated or printed via a maker, or produced in nearly any media for accessibility.
- Are books common or are they valuable hand-written objects?
- Where are the great libraries and collections?
Everywhere, within spitting distance.
- Are the great libraries open to scholars, wizards, and/or the general public?
Open to everyone.
- Who supports the libraries?