a rude awakening ;
Characters begin in Zone 00, the center zone of the orbital. It will be, for many, the most hostile few minutes of their existence. The lucky ones might land on lunar bedrock; others might find themselves tumbling through gnarled, sharp alien steel before coming to a stop, with just time enough to wince and begin to account for any snapped bones before a three-tone chime echoes overhead.
"Welcome to Sacrosanct. Please watch your step."
A N . U N R E A L . C I T Y ;
It only takes the station seconds to heal or repair all damage in the nearest medbay. After everything is fixed, the next stop is the chemical shower, then the clean room. Anything might appear in the Junkyard, but nothing harmful is allowed onto the rest of the station.
That is, unless the AI wants there to be.
Characters emerge next at the edge of Garden Zone 01, just in time to find a floating platform waiting to offer them the welcome tour. The station AI, Hypatia, appears as a hologram beside it, warbling a little about the station's size and capabilities as characters get onboard. Next stop: Residential Zone 01, the City of Kurzweil.
Kurzweil alone could hold about 12 million people, and according to Hypatia, there are 15 other cities just like it-- and a total of 16 garden zones, too. But at present, the city of Kurzweil stands still and silent. The automated shops and restaurants wait motionlessly for patronage; the towering high-rises hang beautiful and completely lifeless.
Gradually, characters come to realize that there are only a handful of people anywhere on the station, and all of them came from Zone 00. There is no one else. In a world meant for a quarter of a billion people, it's just your character, Hypatia, and whoever else managed to survive that first step.
And there is no one here who can get your character home. Lucky for them, there's room to spread out.
G A M E . I N F O ;
S A C R O S A N C T ;
The United Terraforming Corporation World-Class Orbital 916, Sacrosanct, is composed of a moon-sized string room (Zone 00), one major life support ring, and two station support rings, which maintain the station's gravity and other essential functions, including its long-range mining lasers for use in terraforming. The entire life support ring runs 30,000km, or roughly 3/4 the circumference of the Earth. The station support rings each run 27,000km and are inaccessible except by approved shuttle or spacewalk.
The life support ring is broken into 32 alternating garden and residential zones. Each zone is fully connected with quantum teleporters (see more on them under Game Glossary). In cities, almost all tasks are fully automated, but characters may apply for permits to open businesses or lend a hand to public works projects, which are a major way of gaining work credits.
residential life ;
Sacrosanct's 16 cities are each full-size metropolises. Anything you would expect to find in a major modern city is here, from Korean BBQ stands to movie theaters, art museums to bars. Most establishments are completely automated, run by interactive menu systems. For this reason, use of the network is almost essential to live, work, eat and play in these cities.
Characters start off in a barracks-esque youth hostel with access to the free soup kitchens. To move into private quarters and have access to more than the bottom rung food joints, characters have to acquire work credits.
garden zones ;
The garden zones are a mixture of wild and agricultural/ranch land, and are the source of the station's food and other natural products, including much of its oxygen. They are each proportionally much larger than the residential zones and offer a variety of topography. The wild areas are also available for nature hikes and expeditions, providing visitors with everything from paragliding and cliff-jumping to river rapids and untimely death.
Also known as the center zone, or Zone 00, where all characters start out. This was formally Sacrosanct's major shipping berth; however, when a spacetime membrane fissure opened up inside it, it began interacting with the station's teleportation technology, dumping both organic and inorganic matter into the hangar at a rate of 0.02 metric tons a minute. Hypatia was forced to move all shipping to the smaller berth on the far side of the station. (At present, no ships come or go at all, besides the short-range shuttles meant for station-to-planet travel.)
The junkyard is a hazardous zone where literally anything can and does appear, from visitors like player characters to alien animals, space dust, asteroids, ships, or anything else, from any time period. Because of the ever-present overhead hazard and risk of radiation, living here is impossible, but characters may return to it through normal service passageways and recover material from there, provided they wear protective suits (available in the clean rooms) and submit themselves to radiation screening afterward.
All low level items --raw materials, negligible items from their home worlds-- do not have to be pre-approved. Important devices, high-powered weaponry, things not native to that character's world, and other significant items require mod approval on the Requests page before they can appear.
the network ;
One major feature of Sacrosanct is the access-anywhere, fully integrative, augmented reality virtual network. The only required device is the bracelet fitted on all subjects from arrival, which responds to light movements to display a touchable holographic menu with a further array of options. (Synthetics and characters with advanced equipment may have these features integrated into their HUD instead.) From this menu, characters have access to a network with roughly the same interactive functionality players could expect from a laptop. This list is far from exhaustive, but names the major ones applicable to game usage:
- Instant messaging ; Personal and group text chat, voice chat, video chat, and hologram chat. Appearance, logging and security settings are fully customizable, although the station passively logs all conversations.
- Web browsing ; Just as it sounds, although the pages are limited to the station's information pages, restaurant and business websites, and whatever visitors have posted (one work credit is required to buy hosting space, but all web-building, forum and shopping tools are included in the service package). A free-to-use Craigslist-like classifieds site is also available.
- Video streaming ; As a courtesy to residents, the station has a nearly exhaustive listing of movies, web series and shorts for instant streaming, but to download requires work credits. Uploading amateur videos to the station's own version of Youtube, however, is free for everyone.
- Music streaming ; Much the same functionality as above. All forms of media streaming are also fully capable of integration with chat features for extra ease.
- Ever Breath of Fantasy MMXIV, a popular fantasy-themed MMORPG which incorporates chat functions, and can be played using a vidscreen or with full holography (in secure holodecks).
- Team Portal 19, a multiplayer retrofuturistic first/third-person shooter with much the same functionality options as EBF.
- Secure online asset management ; A banking and barter system that, in addition to managing assets and work credits, also features a secure auctions and trades subsite.
- Maps and on the spot realtime navigation.
- Other stuff ; A standard set of non-online features including writing/dictation software, music composition, video recording/playback/editing software, still imaging, animation software, spreadsheets, and basically anything else you could expect an out-of-the-box Macbook to do.
- However, no Solitaire.
Piracy, fraud and attempts to create open-source or otherwise non-station-approved programs are, sadly, difficult unto impossible, given the station's array of security features. It would require an incredibly advanced set of skills, as well as the ability to out-think the station's AI, Hypatia. OOCly, successful attempts must be mod-approved using the Requests page.
Hypatia is Sacrosanct's caretaker AI. She also oversees the terraforming of Asphodel. In some ways, you could say Sacrosanct is Hypatia; there is no part of the station she does not absolutely control, and she can be anywhere and everywhere at once, as needed.
Most of Hypatia's programming and design notation are classified. What is clear is that she is quite possessive of Sacrosanct's visitors, although she tends to think of them more like test subjects than guests. Nevertheless, she is always there to aid them, unless it's more interesting not to.
Like her Asphodel counterpart, Lev, Hypatia is an active NPC that players will see frequently interacting with other characters. Characters who find themselves locked out from the station need to contact Hypatia to get back in.
A S P H O D E L ;
"The station reminds its visitors that the official designation of this planetoid body is UTC Project 916c. Its informal designation of 'Asphodel' is not recognized by any human register."
A Mars-sized (20,000km circumference), slightly irregular planet, UTC Project 916c, nicknamed Asphodel by the original human survey team, is a pre-Eden world currently composed largely of active volcanoes and persistent, planet-covering storms. O2 breathers will find the atmosphere not to their liking. Luckily, there is a highly-developed network of tunnels and some strategically-placed teleporters running under the planet's surface, linking together the major carbon plants responsible for both planetside atmospheric conversion processes and housing the terraforming team's automatons.
As a matter of fact, the tunnel system seems a little too sophisticated and advanced to simply be the result of initial survey teams.
Officially, the planet is empty of all human life. Unofficially, visitors may find that the underground network lives up to its name in more ways than one.
The biggest downside to life on Asphodel is that the longer player characters stay there, the greater risk they run of not being allowed back onto the station. At present, that limit is set at one month (by OOC measurement). After that time, characters are restricted to life on Asphodel, unless they petition Hypatia for forgiveness.
While the tunnels are fed with O2 from the planet's carbon plants, they are no longer intended for continued human habitation, so some areas may have fallen into disrepair. For this reason, visitors who require oxygen should keep a suit with a spare tank on them at all times.
the underworld ;
A nomadic black market and insurgency group which continually changes locations in the tunnels to avoid detection by Sacrosanct's automatons, the Underground is the place to find all the illicit things you aren't likely to find in the sterile environment of the orbital. These include everything from harmless but illegal program mods to stimulants, hardcore drugs, experimental body modifications and prostitution. Depending on whom you ask, the Underground is either salvation or your classic wretched hive of scum and villainy. Most promisingly, the Underground offers illegal work for completely legal work credits, provided the NPC employers you find make sure to scrub the digital paper trail well enough. More information is available on the Job Board.
As elusive as it is, it's safe to say that by the time you find the Underground, you aren't the kind who's there for trouble. Paragons need not apply.
network usage on asphodel ;
Characters will find that their bracelets still function on Asphodel, but only when within 20 miles of a hotspot (scattered unreliably through the tunnels, and a little more reliably at all the carbon plants). Speed and functionality is mostly the same, but characters may find the lag too great for intensive network activities like gaming. Also, hologram functionality is greatly reduced, and only available around the carbon plants.
On the flip side, characters may find ways to access illegal websites hosted by members of the Underworld, containing anything from pornography to restricted information about Sacrosanct's origins. But info like that comes at a high price indeed.
Not much is known about Lev at this time, except that he is most probably associated with the Underworld located on Asphodel-- maybe even the leader of the insurgency.
Beyond that, the man is a mystery. Is he part of the original human survey team, or an outsider like the rest of you? Is he even human? Does he know something Hypatia isn't telling, or is he exactly what the AI says he is: insane, and dangerous?
Time will tell. But one thing so far is clear: when Lev makes an appearance, the stakes tend to get higher.
Like Hypatia, Lev was an active NPC who frequently, although often covertly, approached characters on the network. Characters wishing to find the Underworld would do best to seek him out if they can.
O U T E R . S P A C E ;
Asphodel and Sacrosanct orbit an unspecified star in an unspecified quadrant of space near a galactic core which may or may not be in the Milky Way. All information about its physical location is classified from visitors. Suffice to say, it's an odd place for terraforming.
The nearest habitable station is a heliostationary communication buoy floating at the very far reaches of the solar system. Using one of Sacrosanct's shuttles (teleportation access there is extremely restricted), characters could, with a great amount of luck, free-float there in about nine years. Of course, Hypatia would remotely detonate any escaping shuttle in 48 hours, so there goes any of that.