Fainter Stars: Erikkson's World
Being the first human to step off the wrung of a ship's ladder and onto the living breathing soil of new planet spoils you for every other form of thrill or experience. I am not kidding. We have support groups in Galactic Scouting Guild, because those untouched garden goldilocks worlds are few and far between and once you land on one...well...there will always be a part of you standing in that airlock and sweating in your encounter suit right before the door rolls open.
-Phelan OverGao, Galactic Scout
Tens of thousands years ago an ancient Terran nation called the 'European Space Agency' launched at least three dozen interstellar scouts. The scouts belonged to an initiative called Erikkson. Lacking C-drive and jump drive technology, The Erikkson program designed and built intelligent machines capable of spending centuries roaming deep space at sublight speeds seeking out Earth-like planets. The designers built sturdy and long-lived machines which they equipped as autonomous laboratories, spacecraft and mobile robots. Each Erikkson could gather, analyze and interpret all information relating to a planet's suitability for human habitation. An Erikkson's standard protocol was to make landfall on a potentially desirable planet, setup a beacon, gather information and share that information with the colonizing sleep ships that would eventually follow.
Erikkson was an impractical plan. Like much about the era of the first migration, the hope generated by an act outweighed the probability of results. The Erikkson program exemplifies this because there were no results. There is no record of any of those drones being encountered again. The whole effort would have been lost to pre-history if I hadn't encountered an operational Erikkson probe on the fourth planet of the Wiley-Adjacent star system. Wiley-A 4 is a goldilocks garden world, perfect for human habitation but yet unclaimed and untouched by any of the extant galactic factions. Erikkson-33 landed on the planet millennia ago. He has gathered extensive information on the planet's biosphere and geosphere. Erikkson-33 is still in operation and capable of communicating verbally using an archaic lingua code. He is enthusiastic about sharing. Indeed, much of my report comes directly from him. Erikkson-33 is intelligent, autonomous and after thousands of years on Wiley-A 4 we can consider him an endemic resident.
Therefore, I consider Wiley-A 4 inhabited. Once the jump coordinates for the Wiley A star system are formalized, I propose we change the name of the system to Erikkson's World. He has made his mark on the world. There is a verbal endogenous Avian-like species on the planet that communicate in English. The avian-like species, Erikkson has named them Terts, interact with Erikkson constantly, and Erikkson appears to view them as pets while they treat him as a type of guardian or custodian.
Galactic Scouting Almanac's Report on Wiley-Adjacent (Unpublished)
System Name: Wiley-Adjacent (Star: Wiley-Adjacent)
Location:Rabbit Subsector, Navigation Grid Point 12-I (verification pending)
Inhabited Planets:Wiley-Adjacent 4
Wiley-Adjacent 4: Planetary Details
Atmosphere:Earth-Like 0.5% C02, 9% Noble Gasses, 20% Oxygen, 70% Nitrogen Temperature: Warm 5-30 degrees Celsius
Planetary Coverage: Complete (Garden Planet)
-Plant Taxonomy: Vascularized Sexual Fruit Bearing (Trees, flowering plants)
-Animal Taxonomy: Avian-like (Air breathing, warm blooded, egg laying, internal skeleton)
Galactic Allegiance: Pre-Migration Earth Government/European Space Agency
Class E (X) Starport-Erikson 33's Landing Beacon uses radio waves to transmit landing coordinates on a loop from two points to allow triangulation. The coordinates are transmitted in basic binary. It is not an interactive guidance system and only experienced terrestrial pilots should attempt to use the landing beacon.
Locals/population Centers :
Stellar CartographyThe star Wiley-adjacent is a main sequence yellow dwarf with a system of nine planets Wiley A 1 & 2 are small, the radius of either planet does not exceed 2500 km, and both planets that are less than 65 million km from the star. They are both geologically active, with large eruptions being monitored on both planets by our satellites. Wiley-A 1 appears to be gravitationally locked by the sun, as one side of the planet never appeared to face the star. Wiley-A 3 has a radius of approximately 7000 km, but dense cloud cover and heavy atmosphere made observation of the surface impossible. Wiley-A 4, being inhabited, is described below. Unusually the largest of the gas giants, Wiley A 6 is not the closest of the mega planets to the sun. Wiley A-5 is a small gas giant, with radius of roughly 25,000 km and thousands of asteroid-like moons. Wiley A-6, a gas giant with a radius of >70,000 km presents the best opportunity for gas mining.
Planetary geography:Wiley Adjacent 4 is a geologically active planet with an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, a 22-hour rotation and a 401 day year. The mean equatorial air pressure is similar to Earth's as is the gravity. The majority of the planet's surface is covered by salinated oceans and the majority of planet's hydromass is liquid. There are three continental land masses and thousands of volcanic and sedimentary islands. The endogenous life forms, both plant and animal, have populated all areas of the planet we surveyed. In short, Wiley A-4 is a garden world.
Prehistorical stellar cartographers identified a blue spectrum mega star as Wiley's Star. Contemporary astronomers observed a second star in orbit of the mega star. Not a true binary start system, the dwarf star named Wiley Adjacent maintains a distance of 3-4 lightyears from the mega giant Wiley's Star. Because plotting permenant a jump point ins a star system in elliptical orbit of another star is difficult and because there no known inhabited systems within 30 parsecs of Wiley Adjacent, the star system has been ignored and bypassed by astrogators.
Roughly three thousand local standard years prior to this writing, Erikkson-33 made landfall on Wiley A-4. He began interacting with the local fauna. His primary interaction has been with an avian type species (see below). These are verbal creature and after thousands of years together, they have learned to speak Ancient English dialect. Because Erikkson's language skills and patterns are hard-wired, his speech patterns have not evolved. As far as I know, Erikkson was the first extra stellar contact with the world and I was the second.
The landing beacons on the planet will direct ships to a clearing next to a fresh water lake on the equatorial continent. The clearing is maintained by Erikkson-33 as a landing site for the sub-light planetary scouts employed by Earth at the time of his construction. The clearing is roughly 4 square KM, and covered in a tall grass that Erikkson plants and maintains to prevent erosion of the field. Aside from the clearing and the lake, that area of the continent is covered by massive forest, roughly 4000 KM square. The area is densely populated with the talkative Avian species that Erikkson calls the Terts (see below).
Trade and CommerceNone
Notable Life Forms: The Terts
The most differentiated Phylum of life forms appears to be what Erikson refers to as the Quiniuncturam. Erikkson claims Quiniuncturam means five joints in a dialect called 'Latin'. Quiniuncturams have a boney internal structure formed around a circle of five long bones with bone tail-like appendages extending form the joint of each. Quiniuncturams have evolved to exploit most niches in the biosphere. For example, Erikkson's beacon is located in a swampy region alongside a large fresh water lake. The lake is populated by at least a dozen small Quiniuncturam species that have evolved fin like fleshy extensions on of their appendages and swim in a manner similar to squid or octopi. According to Erikkson-33's report, the most advanced species of Quiniuncturam on the planet are the Terts or 'Tertiary' species. They are brightly colored bird-like creatures about a meter in length and at least four meters from wing-tip to wing-tip. These Avian-like Quiniuncturam are covered in a collagen like material that resembles feathers and two of their appendages have evolved into wings, the two other appendages have evolved into rough-skinned grasping tentacles and the fifth is a soft fleshy appendage used for tactile explorations and manipulations of objects. They are social creatures, around the lake where Erikkson-33 resides there was a colony of over 2000 individuals. While, Erikkson asserts that they are not intelligent because they lack tool and have no cultural institutions such as art, religion or formal government, the Terts communicate vocally and constantly. Interestingly, the Terts around Erikkson's lake communicate in an archaic dialect of Lingu-Prime called English. All the Terts speak constantly. I observed they had a vocabulary of at least 200 words and could even use 3 or 4 word sentences. Most communication is made in an effort to lay claim to space or food, but the communication also serves to quickly inform or warn the community about novel and interesting events.
Game Master Information
Personalities Likely to Be Encountered By the Player Characters
Erikkson-33 has a mass of roughly 20 metric tons and when in motion ressembles a boxy robotic mammoth. At rest Erikkson ressembles large pile of dirt and plant waste. Much of his metallic carparice is covered in a brown moss which is endemic to the planet. The rest of him is tarnished and dirty. He moves using four mechanical legs, one of which has been partially replaced with by lashing a tree trunk to a damaged protion of the leg. Erikkson's head has several utility appendages from it and two glowing blue eyes. He was designed to interact visually and verbally with humans and he adjusts his eyes widths and angles to approximate human expression.
Erikkson will want to interact with human characters. His radio and laser communication transmitter recievers no long work and the only way to communicate with him will be with direct visual or audiotory communication. Over the centuries his processing speed has slowed by logs and he speaks slowly and his speech patterns are punctuated by long pauses. The ' depths' and motivations of Erikkson's personality vary depending on the plot points the gamemaster wishes to explore, but there are some constant threads. Erikkson will be enthusiastic about interacting with humans and sharing the information he has accumulated. He will be polite and accommodating. He is curious and forward thinking. With careful British understatement, he will quiz the human characters about their history and plans. In response to each question the character's answer Erikkson will attempt to offer information about the planet that he determines best fits the needs of human colonists. He assumes human colonist are coming. He will seek to assist human being if he can
Over the centuries Erikkson has been directly involved with the Terts. Roughly five hundred local years ago a storm and subsequent disease effecting the local fruit trees descimated the nearby population of Terts. Erikkson took in and raised several abandoned clutches of eggs. He had done much research on the Terts and reasoned that his data would be useless if the Tert became extinct. Because Terts are a learning animal, Erikkson was able to direct the development of his hatchlings. He taught them English. He taught them how to access different types of food resources. He has designed and administered several vaccines for them. He advised them on nesting places and help them to develop several mechanical barriers to keep predators away from their young. Erikkson's Tert have become the dominate species on the continent. The Tert's have a hierarchial society and all Tert's around Erikkson's lake consider Erikkson to be the alpha. They are also direct descendants of the eggs Erikkson rescued centuries ago.
Erikkson has solar charging unit, which still function to a degree. It is stationary, and only rise slightly above the tree canopy. It is hard to spot, but he charges from it on a regular basis. He was a solid steady radio active battery with a half life of 20,000 years, that is still working. His primary reactor still has fuel, though he keeps it shut down most of the time, when activated he move quickly and manipulate object roughly 100 times his mass. Erikkson is programmed to defend himself. He has several chemically driven projectile weapons, that still function and when is reactor is function, he can be fast and physically strong. He is heavily armored, designed to with stand deep space micro-collisions and radiation, and most modern anti-personal weapons would be useless against him. His circuitry is also well shielded, and most electronic counter measures would be ineffective. His circuitry is electronic, so weapons designed to disturb or control neutrino circuits and quantum computers would be useless. He has no projected force shielding and he is made of conventional matter, so a modern anti-ship weapon (such a high energy laser, anti-matter projector particle beam or quantum razor beam) would be necessary to injure him.
Plots and Idea Seeds
I imagine Erikkson's World and Erikkson himself as moral betting tokens and roleplaying props for your characters. The fate of Erikkson's World will be a subplot they can debate or handle with cold indifference and thus build on a repertoire of experiences to define and flesh out their characters. Here are some suggestions for ways to introduce the characters to the world.
Life produces minerals. As advanced as material engineering has become, it is still profitable to obtain minerals, fresh water and other complex raw materials through mining. Erikkison's world is a gold mine for those interested in planet stripping. These groups will strip mine large sections of planets, sifting through top soil to extract minerals, water eroded silicon sand and fresh water. Most intrasellar government consider this practice illegal, particularly on so called 'goldilocks worlds' the galaxy is a big place and strip miners can be hard to track down. Planet strippers can often make moral equivocations if they take just a harvest few thousand miles of surface area. The easiest place on the planet to make landfall will be right on Erikkson's beacons.
Imagining the strip-mining subplot going several ways. 1 The players are planet strippers or scouts for planet strippers. They land on the planet, talk to Erikkson and when/if he finds out their plans he decides he values the Terts more than the human. He attacks the characters and they have to overpower the large robotic beast. 2 Alternatively, the character could be planet strippers and they are getting continually harassed by the Terts. They talk Erikkson into helping them eliminate the Terts. Erikkson is just a machine afterall, and he may decide to choose the humans over the Terts. Erikkson will betray the Terts and help the humans murder them all. This can be played for drama. 3 The characters are bounty hunters chasing illegal planet strippers. They find the planet strippers on Erikkson's world and have to talk Erikkson into helping them. 4 The characters are law enforcement chasing planet strippers and they track their prey to Erikkson's world and find that Erikkson has already killed them and buried their ship. Erikkson will deny it because he is programmed not to harm people and thus classifies it as a data error. He has records of what he did but can't process the conclusion of his actions. The PCs will have to decide whether it is moral to leave this murdering robot on the planet. Also death is not a proportionate punishment for planet stripping and certainly not for prospective planet stripping. 5 The PCs are hired by someone of means, a wealthy black market financer, to investigate a missing person. They find that this person financed and captained an illegal planet stripping operation. The person in questioned managed to find Erikkson's World and was killed by Erikkson. The PCs will have to decide whether to turn over Erikkson's location as part of their report or protect the anonymity of this place.
Dividing the Spoils
Let's assume that the characters are the first to chart a path to and visit this star system; a goldilocks garden planet is potentially a huge money maker. But only potentially, because the PCs have to find a way to cash in. Selling the coordinates could get them a little something, leading the colonization themselves would take time, there is strip mining or the forming of a planetary corporation of which they will always get a percentage. But NPC or PC may start backstabbing when a retirement stake is on the line or when moral dilemmas start to crystalizes: should this planet be colonized?
The PCs are sent in to collect Erikkson. He is ancient technology and people want to study him. Erikkson will not want to leave. He will defend himself if attempts are made to forcefully remove him. He will leave willingly if two criteria are met. (1) colonists have arrived and (2) he has transmitted all his information to the colonists. The PCs don't have colonists with them. How will PC fulfill their charge and what is the right thing to do?
The psionic beacon
This assumes the star system has yet to be mapped. A character (NPC or PC) starts having dreams, visions and random thoughts relating to Erikkson's World. He/she will find himself suddenly discussing topic relating to Erikkson's world, such as how two irregular moons affect the tides or writing down strings of strange symbols. These symbols are jump coordinates for the Wiley Adjacent star system. If this character is NPC the PCs might be hired to make the jump to these unverified coordinates (a big risk, that should pay well). Once there the PC will encounter Erikkson and it all makes sense...sort of. The dreams, visons and such where information packets about the geosphere of Erikkson's World. The psionic transmissions were the type of things that a planetary probe might send out. But Erikkson isn't psionic and doesn't have any technology resembling a psionic wave generator. And these visions and such only get more intense when the PCs land.
Long ago another probe landed on this world, a piece of biological technology, that was designed to the same thing as Erikkson and like Erikkson this bio-probe was forgotten by the civilization that spawned it. The probe, which resembles a giant squid let's say, developed from a deep space spore, is also thousands of years old and is trying to find an audience for all the information it has uncovered.
Implicit in Erikkson's story are themes of loneliness and unfulfillment. The experiences and desires of this ancient machine may not be one to one correlations with human emotions, but his experiences will best be understood by humans in that way. He has waited millennia to perform a task, but if he were to perform the task it would likely be destructive the world he has grown to love. Love is the best way to describe his feelings for the world, because he has dedicated centuries to studying it and characterizing it. It is his passion. This also a source of irony. Because most colonization efforts would destroy the ecosystem he has come to love.
A solution to this loneliness lies in introducing the bio-probe to Erikkson. Nobody will be more interested in what the bio-squid probe has to say than Erikkson and vice versa. If the PC can engineer a way for the two to talk to each other than both will find fulfillment without inviting destructive interlopers onto their worlds.
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? Responses (3)-3
Perfect and super versatile. I like this :)
hella nice work
5/5 Wow. Just Wow.if I ever run a space game again, I will totally use this,super very nice work.