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Artefacts

Artefacts

Artefacts are the result of unexpected events or ancient alien discoveries.


Artefacts as the name suggests are rare and sometimes unique items. Some may be ancient alien objects the true purpose of which is unknown such as the blanger flubolip ‘starship energy cannon’, found in the ruins of Randurial in the Transpiral Periphery. This has been described as a inter star-system messaging device, work of art, an alien joke or possibly an alien sex toy for gas giant behemoths. Artefacts may even be the result of improbable research blind-alleys that were abandoned due to inability to recreate the process or in favour of less impressive but infinitely more commercially viable alternatives.


Where the purpose is known or an obvious use is determined the artefact may be classed as another item type (as that generally defines how the game code handles the item).




Players always but always want to back-engineer them and mass produce them. We could simply make them a prototype and a 100,000 production cost each or something phenomenal representing the ridiculous efforts required to make one work no matter what. We could even make the mineral cost stupidly expensive representing completely unfeasible waste. Examples could be irradiation, doping, low neutrino capture or Z-space interactions. This though is probably not in the interests of the game because there is always somebody out there willing to go to extremes or even work out that our 'unfeasible' is orders of magnitude less than their 'unfeasible'.


Consider the mythical Z-ray Pulse Cannon. This is similar size to a Photon Cannon mkIV but significantly higher damage, however reproducing the components relies on neutrino capture rates to dope the materials according to the description in the associated investigations. This may be in excess of 100,000 production and be extremely wasteful of irradiated minerals due to failed attempts. Similar thing with maintenance bots. Each one requires such complicated components and neural networking development that the production cost is more than twenty years’ worth of work hours. In other words, production is not viable./P]
[P]Presenting it to the player as production and mineral costs however has historically returned the request to find ways to improve some part of the process and the more depth the GM has added in describing why the process is not viable the more strands the player has to try to wrangle down the production and mineral cost until it comes down to a battle of caveats and handwavium proposals between the player and GM.



We therefore intentionally state an artefact cannot be researched or reproduced for game purposes. This is simply a mechanic impediment used to represent inordinate amounts of time and effort required to build artefacts or we simply don’t want proliferation of the items into the game.


Why? The value of an artefact is in its scarcity. Having a flagship equipped with Z-ray Pulse Cannons is awesome, having the most powerful affiliation’s every ship equipped likewise is a potential game breaker while having every ship in the game with them would be the new norm and dull.


If you are lucky enough to discover an artefact in the game, enjoy it, use it, hoard it or sell it for an astronomical amount of stellars. If the item is described as unique, un-researchable or indecipherable alien, take the hint and don’t waste time looking at ways of duplicating it and attempting to gleam some new technology that will super-enhance your entire faction and let you ‘win’ the game.



Who’s Who Amongst the Ancients?
While most of the information regarding ancient aliens is hidden deep within affiliation data archives there are sufficient rumours and discoveries by explorers, along with a few encounters to generate a modest incomplete list of artefact sources.



Architects (ARC) – these living ships are everything from the bogeyman to demigods depending on which civilian faction is spoken to. They were originally thought to have created the stargate network but this is now looking decidedly doubtful. It is common knowledge that they fought a war with the TCA (see below) and the Dewiek Nation around half a millennium ago but are occasionally encountered even to this day.
Artefacts most commonly associated with them are their weapon systems though the occasional dead hulk is discovered.



Terran Colony Annihilators (TCA) – the name was given to the living ships when they were first encountered. It is certainly not their true identity and to date nobody has been able to determine what it actually is so TCA has now become the norm. It is believed that they were created by the ARC as a servitor species but eventually rebelled. The war it seems is ongoing but due to losses on both sides over the centuries, has reached stalemate.
They are more commonly associated with meklan though it is more likely that the meklan were created by the ARC. Meklan are not considered a distinctive species in their own right.
Artefacts associated with the TCA include meklan control units, weapon systems and like the ARC, dead hulks suitable for salvage.



Nautiloids – this species was most active across the Capellan Periphery prior to the arrival of the ARC according to what little evidence has found its way to Yank. They were responsible for tampering with the DNA of various organic species though for what purpose is debatable. It is possible that they were the only active advanced species present in the Periphery at the time and were experimenting, trying to uplift species, responsible for panspermia or simply messing around for their own whimsy.
It is presumed that they achieved sublimation* or regressed due to the loss of their home system or similar setback.

Boltzmann Brain – this is actually an artefact that existed in Straddle and was seemingly created by an unknown species, probably the Unknown (UNK) as a means of bending subspace in order to directly manipulate jump distances. Suffice to say, politics got messy and big red buttons were pressed resulting in Straddle leaping Peripheries.
Other than the single incident of the Brain (a self-aware non-organic entity capable of observing the universe and defining its qualities at a quantum level) and truly ancient ships mothballed in an asteroid, no other examples of the aliens’ technology have been reported.



Illuvatorians – this species fled an undocumented menace by splitting their population between numerous colony ships and heading out in all directions using obsolete inter-system sublight drives. As this technology relies on huge travel times lasting hundreds of years merely to reach the nearest star, the ships tended to be huge and reliant on cryostasis for one-way trips. The discovery of the first ship activated a subspace beacon that caused the occupants of the colony ships scattered across the Peripheries to awake.
Along with Phanali, a unusual items were recovered from some of the ships that had not survived the transit, the purpose and origin the Illuvatorians could not explain. It was surmised that the alien menace pursuing them was not completely unprovoked. To date, no sign of the alien menace has been detected.



Hive Diaspora – hive species have been around in various forms seemingly as long as the galaxy. They appear to share the same goal, create more hive and spread to a new world often by sublight methods. As these aliens are often subterranean and not overly reliant on biospheres, legacies of their failed colonisation attempts can occasionally be found on airless rocks.
A plethora of artefacts have been found associated with hive ruins the purpose of which is as much a mystery now as when they were first discovered.




Gate Builders – while it was originally thought that the ARC were responsible for the stargates, this has since been generally discounted due to age. Whichever species were responsible, like the Nautilloids, they have long since sublimed. The lack of artefacts beyond the stargate supports the presumption that they, like the ARC were living starships or at the very least, evolved in gas giants and had little to do with planetary surfaces.



Natives – many pre-uplift civilisations have oral histories describing alien visitors or believe they were brought to the world by aliens. Some even have treasured artefacts supporting the claim. In many cases explorers given access to the objects quickly identify them as dewiek, flagritz or hive in origin. This is not overly surprising as these three species have been the most active within the Peripheries over the past millennium though wars and the arrival of the Stellar Empire caused a shift in the balance. Even so, from time to time the origin of these artefacts cannot be determined and the aliens described by the natives bear no resemblance to known species active in the Peripheries.



*Sublimation is the end point of a civilisation due to reaching some form of technological or equivalent singularity. At this point the species effectively disappears from reality, possibly uplifting its collective consciousness to some alternative subspace dimension.







 
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Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


 
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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic