The Spacer’s Almanac

The Firmament is a vast arena that spans dozens of parsecs. The miracle of the spike drive allows humans to inhabit the universe at such scale, yet it is far from a perfect technology. Long journeys can take weeks or even months, and spike drive travel is closer to an ocean voyage than anything else. As a result, the Firmament is anything but homogenous. It can, however, be broadly divided into three main areas: the Foundation, the Incorporated Territories and the Rim. Nominally, the Foundation is the supreme interstellar government of the Firmament. In practice, though, megacorporations or local warlords hold more power throughout most human colonies. The Firmament is simply too vast and disparate to ever be ruled by a single hand.

For a map of the Firmament, click here.

The Foundation

The Foundation is a set of 4 star systems, all of which are located very close to each other. It’s also the name of the Firmament’s interstellar government. The Foundation systems are the oldest human systems, and were the first to be colonised. Some would call it the capitol of human civilisation and pinnacle of human achievement; others would call it a repressive oligarchy ruled by a hereditary elite.

Tau. The cradle of humanity, and the symbol of its salvation from the ruins of Old Earth. The homeworld of Tau is Tabula Rasa, which is still orbited by the Beyonder - the asteroid base that once delivered humanity from apocalypse, and is now a living museum to the Founders. Tabula Rasa itself is said to be a world where none go hungry, and each person may live to their full potential.

Amber. The vital connection between the Foundation and the Incorporated Territories, and a system of movers and shakers. It is a locus of the Foundation’s power - military and economic - and some say that the Foundation is truly ruled from Amber, not Tau. Amber’s homeworld is Minerva, a stunning modern marvel of antigravity cloud cities above and deep alien oceans far below.

Eden. An aptly-named paradise system, the star of which is the homeworld of Dorothea. Once a pristine canvas of a planet, Dorothea is now a stable and balanced biosphere carefully engineered by the Foundation’s finest ecologists. Dorothea’s palatial estates and constructed wonders are a retreat and sanctum for the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the Firmament.

Mira. A binary star system strewn with mineral-rich planets and asteroids, many of which are ideal for mineral exploitation. Not particularly hospitable, but immensely profitable. Besides its many orbital habitats and space stations, Mira’s homeworld is the planet Psilon - even though it has only a few million inhabitants, it is home to the Foundation’s most prestigious schools of engineering and material sciences.

The Incorporated Territories

The Incorporated Territories are made up of 12 systems that stretch out like arms from the Foundation. These are the systems that were settled during the initial boom of interstellar colonisation that came with the invention of the spike drive. When the Tau Ultimatum was broadcast throughout the Firmament, they were brought under the Foundation’s wing. However, they still retain a significant degree of autonomy. In practice, though, less central power just means that it’s easier for the megacorporations to do whatever they want.

Limina. The doorway between the Foundation and the Territories, it’s also the biggest spaceyard in the Firmament. They resisted the Tau Ultimatum, and do not have full autonomy like the other territories do. The planet is under the control of the Foundation Army, and has been for a very long time. Its homeworld is Athens, a thriving world with a major spaceyard and billions of inhabitants. However, they are a colonised population nonetheless.

Nova Sirius. One of the two systems that connect the territories to the Rim, Nova Sirius is far less travelled than its sister-system of Phoenix. This system is the bastion and stronghold of the Church of the Singularity, and with good reason. It is the home of the so-called Sirius Oracle; a machine that, while undeniably of human construction, none have been able to determine the origin of. Of course, the Church of the Singularity isn’t exactly helpful to skeptics and heretics who wish to disprove their machine god. With the proper donations, pilgrims and tourists alike may stand before the Oracle and ask it a question - though few are favoured with a response.

Phoenix. Called the “center of the universe” by many, Phoenix is the pulsing heart of the Firmament’s megacorporations and the heart of their power. It is home to Gibson, one of the most densely developed worlds inhabited by mankind. The Neotokyo Conurbation in particular is a sprawl of seemingly endless cityscape that extends for a hundred kilometers in every direction, and the Gibson Astrofield above is the densest proliferation of space stations, satellites and orbital habitats in the universe.

The Rim

The Rim makes up the far reaches of inhabited space: 8 lonely colonies far from “civilised” worlds. As more of the attractive systems were colonised, settlers had to go further and further out to find suitable colonies. They are far enough away from the Foundation that they were able to remain independent, but this independence comes at a cost. The Rim is the poorest and least technologically advanced part of the Firmament.

Hope. Once a burgeoning and successful colony, Hope was abandoned by its backers and fell into disarray after the Tau Ultimatum. Its inhabitants have since become bitter and disillusioned, and Hope is now a stronghold of the Anti-Foundation Front. If it wasn’t an unavoidable pit stop for those travelling into the Rim, many would avoid Hope altogether. Even given that, most interstellar travellers will keep to the Xerxes Refuelling Station rather than actually touching down on the system’s homeworld, Xanadu.

Lucerne. Along with Samarkand, Lucerne forms an important part of the Rim trading routes. However, it was devastated shortly after colonisation by global thermonuclear war between the inhabitants. Now it is ruled over by warlords that operate their own facilities, compete fiercely with each other, and sell to the highest bidder. Before the war it was the Rim’s major spaceyard, and it is still the best place in the Rim to buy a ship.

Samarkand. A vital link in the Rim trading routes, most of Samarkand’s value comes from its homeworld of Hephaestus. While Hephaestus may be a scorching hell world, it is rich in natural wealth - including the rare gases required for hypersleep. There is great wealth and power concentrated in Samarkand, but it is not shared equally. The Diamond Planet Casino and similar attractions cater to wealthy travellers and traders, while the narrow corridors of the orbital Overcity are narrow and dangerous for those who live and work in them.

Saoirse. The “jewel of the outer Rim” is a place where freedom is valued highly. Saoirse isn’t hostile to the Foundation, just comfortable with their distance and uninterested in cooperation. The system’s homeworld, Aurora, is known for its plains of beautiful crystal, which form in bizarre and beautiful shapes for miles and miles. These crystals have a level of optical purity that rivals the latest processes, so they are a valuable export for lasers and delicate sensors.

Xi’An. Most travel into the Rim goes via Samarkand, rather than Xi’An. That’s because its star generates near-constant electromagnetic storms that wash over the entire system, playing havoc with communications. This has made it a notorious haven for pirates and those on the run from the the Foundation. Despite all this, though, its homeworld of Cordelia is renowned for its untold natural beauty: a shimmering ocean planet of seafaring cities that sail the world’s oceans. Its also a source of the rare elements required to construct spike drives, which is enough to tempt some intrepid traders into making the journey.