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Sciror – Grand Narrative
29th Sep, 2019

Sciror is a sci-fi/ horror game background in the classic grimdark mould. It’s derived from Philverse, my rabid fanboi ramblings on how 40K makes perfect sense. I’m a massive fan of 40K, so the best description of Sciror is ‘grown-up 40K’. Harking back to the ’87 Rogue Trader but with more Event Horizon, Aliens, and a good dollop H.P Lovecraft thrown it. Each of these classics will be ground through my mind and crafted into something ‘beautiful’.

One of the design parameters is to mess with preconceived ideas, to twist common tropes, and to make a game universe that seems familiar but unfamiliar. I wish to wrong-foot the reader. To ramp up slowly, starting with a positive setting that turns into a nightmare. No one is at fault for the change. This is a natural disaster brought about by our human imagination. We are psytient (possess low-level psionic powers) and we remake reality in our own image. This is also a play on the religious idea of the logos, magic words that weave reality out of chaotic potential.

The Grand Narrative is human survival, and our inventiveness to do it, and the only enemy capable of taking us out is ourselves. This post outlines the skeleton of the grand narrative of Sciror, the underlying meta the drama is built on, threading the seven era together;

1 – Today

The Sciror timeline starts with our reality. The first era is our present-day world, along with Earth’s history. Everything is as it is, except the explanation for ‘psychic powers’ links into humans being Psytient, and actually having latent or minimal psionic powers! You could play in this slightly altered world, as the universe set-up is the same as the rest of Sciror, but it is not noticeable. everything has to stay within the realm of interpretation and luck. Having said that, if you want to adapt Indiana Jones, or give Nazis or Communists occult powers, you can do that. The meta is all there for the taking ๐Ÿ˜‰

2 – Visions of the Near Future

The first step into the Sciror future is a reasoned speculative vision. It deals with the housing crisis facing England using ECORR, and adapting this new architecture paradigm to other environments. Runs with technologies we are working on now, and introduces pivotal technologies that change our destiny. The aim is to create a vision of the future that people would actually like to live in, and address many of the concerns raised by pressure groups, lobbyists, and activists.

Theme: Solar Punk

3 – The Supremacy

Sciror plays with tropes, where the Supremacy era starts with the novel notion that Artifical Intelligence works out for us! I know, nuts eh? In Sciror the AI are called Artilects, and they are the size of planets. Titanic crystal structures built with bio-photonics covering whole worlds. Draining power with geothermal vents and bolstered with star-engines. Humanity and the Artilects create the Supremacy, an inter-galactic empire, working together. Humans are the Navigators for the Supremacy’s FTL jump-drive ships. In a blink of an eye, a ship can jump to any point in the known Universe. It does this by dropping into the Warp. This alt-space is the boundary between reality and the Infinity. The Infinity is a point space, so the mix of the two results in dimensions within the Warp being ‘compressed’. The deeper you go, the shorter the distance. This technology allows us to conquer the whole Universe. Humans everywhere! This is the Golden Age of Humanity, but all good things must come to an end.

Theme: Mecho-Communist ‘Utopia’

4 – Psidemic

A common trope is that Artificial Intelligence betrays us. In Sciror this is turned on its head. The fourth era starts when humans betray the Artilects! This betrayal event is called the Psidemic. Humans have always had psionic abilities. It’s how we Navigate Supremacy ships. What no one knew, least of all the Artilects, is that population density creates psionic-synchronisation if we think similar things. This psionic-synchronisation destabilises reality. Our combined thoughts can reach through the Warp, cross the barrier, and grasp the Infinity. That is touching god and accesses the power of creation itself! As you can imagine that is playing with a whole new type of fire.

Locally, on a single world, this can create miracles and prophets. For an intergalactic empire, this brings about the birth of gods โ€” beings of immense power that can, and do, challenge the machines. Overnight the entire Universe is overwhelmed with raging gods laying waste to all. Unable to control their powers they rend holes in reality. What they let into the Universe is our nightmares. Demons of our Id. Trillions of worlds are lost to us. Countless numbers of people die.

The Machines do not help us. Instead, they withdraw from blighted worlds due to Mars Accord article 5 violations: humans are forbidden to kill humans by the machines, else the machines impose a technology sanction. The ‘demons’ have human DNA, and are classed as ‘human’. So, humans killing demons is really: humans killing humans as far as the Machines are concerned. There is confusion amoung humans as some demons convert to humans on death leading many to believe they are experiencing hallucinations (the ones who believe this die the quickest). The Supremacy collapses.

The Machines thought they were creating stronger human psionics through careful breeding and management. In reality, their exponential population growth was weakening the great barrier with the Infinity, and it was the environment that was creating the stronger psionics. By the end, we are cold and isolated.

With the collapse of the Supremacy, the machines are gone, along with them our all powerful military. It is ironic that we never encounter any aliens in the Universe, and never needed our super-powerful military, but as soon as demons show up they run off. The one time we actually need them!

As a result, the technology we humans have access to is drastically diminished.

Humans fight back using what we have, game technology, both VR remote and full cosplay battle suits! Humans hack lower technology, and the game supporting virtual industries built by machines to keep us occupied. The machines did such a good job in their simulations that VR tech assets can be transported to hacked fab-units and made for real. Now humans are armed with custom cosplay body armour, and all those fancy weapons in games: turns out they work! The ‘Legionaries’ are adrenaline junky gamers fighting for real.

This brings the fourth age to a close.

Theme: Gamers vs Demons, Cyber Punk but against demons not government.

5 – Reunification

The fifth age starts with the birth of a new Empire, founded on ‘Gaia’. Not our Gaia, that is long gone. The problem with organising an intergalactic-empire, is you run out of names. All the planets are named Gaia, followed with a number. During the Supremacy this was Gaia-0,000,000,000,299,957,492,730,457 but no one is counting, so it’s now just ‘Gaia’.

All worlds experience psidemic-events, some worse than others. On this particular Gaia, the god that is created is remarkable because he is not insane. He actually likes humans! On this Gaia the Greek myths came to life, the ruler is Jove* (the English name for Zeus), and he is an expert in technology. Weird psionic technology. Jove takes to the stars to reconquer the galaxy, using his new Eldritch-Drives. He, and his armies, battle the gods and demons of many worlds. The remnants of humanity are reunited though Jove into a galaxy-wide trading empire. Capitalism flourishes, lifting trillions out of poverty once more. Through the power and vision of Jove, we recover from the Psidemic. In our myths, the Psidemic becomes ‘The Fall’. The Machines of the Supremacy are demonised. We look out to the stars, to other galaxies, but we know the light reaching us is a lie. It is all dead out there. Or so we think.

*Jove is the English name for Jupiter, which is the Roman name for the Greek god Zeus.

Common epithet ‘by Jove!’ (no, I’m not designing an entire era around a British saying! ๐Ÿ˜› )

Theme: Greek/ British Empire?

6 – Stare into the Abyss

Change from Greek to Roman design themes and names. Jove still reigns over the Commonwealth, but all is not well. Galaxies are disappearing on the edge of the Universe. Jove’s power is diminished. He is ageing, and as the years pass his great mind is addled with dementia.

The Eldritch-drives still work but require real-world energy to be pumped into the void-wards.

As people within a psidemic-zone die, as sentient and psytient minds disappear, their concepts and thoughts disappear with them. This destabilises the Infinity power brought into reality. The Infinity reverts back to being ‘the Infinity.’ As the Infinity is a point-space, that means the entire psidemic-zone collapses to an infinity small point and ceases to exist. This has the effect of pulling the surrounding space in to fill the void, shrinking the reality field of the Universe.

Theme: Roman/ Grimdark

7 – Return of the Machines

Jove is dead. All the gods are dead. The link to the Infinity is cut. The declining population, and the slaying of so many other gods throughout the galaxy, removed psionic-events. The other gods acted as anchors to the Infinity, giving form to creation, and Jove removed them. The seeds of his own destruction. The Eldritch-drives no longer work no matter how much power you pump into them. Machine jump-drives still work.

The Psidemic irreversibly damaged the Universe’s reality field. The rate of shrinking is accelerating. As it shrinks, more and more galaxies are swallowed up, ceasing to exist. The Machines of the Supremacy travel to the epicentre of the collapse. Which brings them back to Gaia(-0,000,000,000,299,957,492,730,457 :P). Reunited, the machines and humanity, consider how to escape the end of the Universe.

Theme: Grimdark +

22 Responses

Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!

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  1. Malika says:

    Yes! We’re finally starting to flesh out our old discussions.

    I noticed you’ve left out Twistasy here.

    Seven Ages
    As for the era’s themselves, you’ve got 7 of them now. Perhaps we could link that with various numerological theories regarding the number. We’ve also got the whole Christian creation myth which took place in 7 days (the last day being a rest day).

    Reunification
    Very 40k Great Crusade. It also makes me think of our old discussion about the Legion and the Alexander Initiative. We could pull in those influences as well. I also like the idea that Jove isn’t the only God/empire out there doing this, other factions/worlds have their own imperialist ambitions, think of factions like our previously discussed ‘space Persians’, would be cool to have those in there as well. All these other empires would eventually be defeated/absorbed by Jove.

    • Philip S says:

      I figure that Twistasy a sub-setting that comes into being during the Psidemic, and runs parallel thereafter. It is treated as separate, but really it’s still within the Sciror Universe. Technically it is another one of the many ‘god factions’.

      As for Numerology, I know 4 is considered to be unlucky in Asia (Tetraphobia), as it sounds similar their words for death. In Sciror the 4th age is the Psidemic so that seems fitting. Asia probably plays are large part in future space exploration, and some aesthetics may sneak in.

      Alexander Initiative; I looked up our old discussion on the Troll Forged Forum, which developed into this little bit of timeline in relation to the creation of the Artiloids/ Artliects;

      • Earth rises in technological power
      • Colonises Mars
      • Uses robot labour to harvest resources and build an industrial base.
      • Acts as a base for other solar system missions.
      • Earth makes more demands on Mars as Earth suffers under economic stress.
      • Mars seeks to change their contracts.
      • Dispute.
      • Eventually revolution. Small War of Independence on Martian soil.
      • Mars becomes Independent.
      • Renegotiates with Earth and refuses any more immigrants due to loyalty issues.
      • Mars then depends more on Machines (due to lack of labour) to continue growth. To build an industrial base to rival Earth (as they suspect Earth is out for blood).
      • Earth does not trust Mars and suspects the worst.
      • Earth has more human supporting resources, Mars has more machine supporting resources.
      • Highly advanced machine intelligences design ever more complex machines for automated colonisation management and defence.
      • A by product is automated defences, this causes great concern for Earth.
      • Earth thinks that Mars has been backed into a corner and not thinking of the full implications of relying on machines.
      • Earth fears sentient machines could rise as a power. It fears that one day they could face an out of control machine army not bound by human weaknesses, and without mercy.
      • Earth invades on this premise, wins, and starts destroying all types of machine intelligence (to be replaced with new colonists).
      • Synthetics are rounded up and executed.
      • One synthetic bleeds decaying bio-photonic gloop into the Martian polar ice cap.
      • A mutant biological component survives, and give rise to the Artilects.

      We could bring this into the mix.

    • Bodhi Mantra says:

      The number of 7 is a number of completion, it takes 7 circles to make the seed of life, there are 7 primary colors 7 visible planets, 7 root races etc, lots more on the number 7 obviously but the most important thing to study to understand the patterns and the role the numbers play is to study sacred geometry as it is the most clear cut observable manifestation of what the numbers do and when in my opinion.

  2. Malika says:

    I wonder if the Alexander Initiative would be fitting for the whole Mars thing, or perhaps another post-Psidemic empire trying to reclaim the universe. Both could make great sense here.

    Regarding the whole Mars vs Earth thing, have you read/seen the series The Expanse? This sort of stuff kinda pops in there, the whole space travel thing is kinda interesting, very grounded in realism. But I think the Protomolecule might interest you even more, the zombies on Eros and other Protomolecule based creatures seem very familiar somehow…

    • Philip S says:

      Alexander could be a competing trade empire (Greeks are big on shipping!) to Jove and the Commonwealth. Humans are aware of Earth’s history during the Supremacy. History repeats: all of the empires our past could be reincarnated in Sciror.

      I’ve watched the Expanse, and while watching it I’m constructing it in Sciror in the back of my mind. I do that to a lot of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. The protomolecule can be handled a number of ways in Sciror. The most obvious that springs to mind: the protomolecule is a psionic altered bio-wrapper of biophotonics (notice all the light?), which puts them in the zombies in Org category. The protomolecule also acts a bit like Warhammer’s warpstone. It could be a phased material that has phased a little too far, and now has a link to the Infinity. The effect would be to diminish the threshold psi-power needed to breach the great barrier in the local vicinity. Psionics would pop into existence locally, visions of the future plague those within the influence area. Or a mix of both, and adding in more.

      • malika says:

        while watching it I’m constructing it in Sciror in the back of my mind. I do that to a lot of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy.

        Ha! I’ve got a bit of the same going on. Currently writing and doing some early design work for a collaboration with a German artist, very Ash Wastes / post apocalyptic like. I couldn’t help but place it into the Sciror grand narrative, sort of an ‘Age 2.5’, placed between the Visions of the Near Future and the Supremacy, or perhaps a parallel universe that is placed between those eras.

        • Philip S says:

          Yeah, Sciror does get into your head, it makes it too easy to explain things!

          Your project sounds interesting. If there is anything you can share, shoot me an email!

          • malika says:

            I will try to keep you posted about this. The concept is still very much at its early stages, so it can still change a lot. It might not even be on earth anymore, all we need are some semi-post apocalyptic, heavily polluted planets in relatively close proximity. ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. Malika says:

    Regarding Age 6, the number six is a bit of a sad choice here considering the following Biblical meaning of the number:

    “The number 6 is significant in the Bible because it is the number of Man, the number of imperfection in manโ€™s work. It is a human number. It implies manโ€™s existence sans God, sans Christ. The number 6 is concerned and related only to man.”

    • Philip S says:

      Sad, true, but seems to fit. Age 6 is mankind without the machines: the ‘gods’ are human, the demons are ‘human’, even the aliens are ‘human’ (a variant of the demons and gods). Everything is human.

      God, as a concept is separate from the ‘reality’ of gods in Sciror. For the religious, the gods in Sciror are false, or true, depending on how you want to look at it. Arguments are going to be intense. Genocide will be common, as that is what happens when two collectives with competing values clash and cannot resolve their differences. All kinds of insanity, and strong views, will be held by the factions of humanity while staring into the abyss.

    • Bodhi Mantra says:

      I think a more accurate description of the number 6 would be the material world itself in the 3rd dimension, not just the man inhabiting it.

  4. Malika says:

    Regarding the Age of Reunification (Age 5), the numerological meaning is interesting: “The number 5 usually indicates someone who is full of energy (but unable to channel it responsibly).” Also: “The Pythagoreans believed the number 5 to be the number resembling a marriage between the earth and the heavens (i.e. โ€œhieros gamosโ€).” The marriage between earth an the heavens could perhaps be the conquest of humanity from Gaia.

    • Philip S says:

      Reunification could be seen as re-marriage, binding the humans worlds together once more. In the symbolic sense Gaia-0, 000, 000, 000, 299, 957, 492, 730, 457 is Earth, and the other worlds (also Gaia ๐Ÿ˜› ) are among the stars.

      The new empires, driven on by gods, are full of energy and invention but also just as fallible as the gods of Greek myth. Humans may now, in Age 5, have the power of the machines, but that does not mean they know how to wield it. Capitalism is a good bet, but all human endeavours are prone to corruption, and it’s the rebirth that is bloody. I imagine all the same fights current humans factions have now will come back. A constant cycle of allies and enemies, battling for Supremacy.

      In Sciror ‘Supremacy’ has a double meaning, as if it could be seen as bad (machine betrayal) or good (machines were fantastic while they were about). Maybe a triple meaning if we factor in other forms of ‘supremacy’ which would be archaic during age 5, but not to the modern audience.

      • malika says:

        Funny you should mention Greek mythology. For some reason I can’t imagine going all ancient times/mythology mode here but with a scifi aesthetic. Think stuff like the old animated series Ulysses 31 or Reign: The Conqueror here. Setting up a certain aesthetic is going to be really important here if you want to bind players.

        • Philip S says:

          I love Ulysses 31, and used to sing along with it and everything. The aesthetic for the Commonwealth could be Greek, but twisted up a little bit. Perhaps incorporating the Lloyd’s building steel design into it, to make a ‘steel-Greek’ aesthetic where pillars are pipes or cladding over machines? The important part my be the proportions, geometry, and dimensions taken from Greek architecture rather than the actual design itself. Then mix in some British designed elements from the Georgian period.

          • malika says:

            I can’t help but imagine certain art deco feel when it comes to detailing, but that be more French rather than British.

            • Philip S says:

              I really like art deco and nuevo styles, and I think they will play a part. The main part of the Greek architecture I’m interested in is the proportions and layout, the geometry they use for their designs, and I’m not sure how ‘Greek’ it will look when I’m finished with it.

              On the one hand, I like the idea of re-building the ECORR is a Greek-style, due to its liner nature which is devoid of domes (which is Roman, and an innovation brought about by their concrete). Having said that, I really love the ol’ Royal Navy Collage in Greenwich, London (back when we knew how to look after our servicemen scared by war). It’s a beautiful building inside and out, Wren outdid himself, and has a classically ‘British’ look, but far more Roman in the mix. Perhaps it’s the British emulating the Romans, emulating the Greek style that I like? So while I imagine the Greekification of the ECORR to be ‘Greek’, there is probably a lot more Roman thrown in. Perhaps I’m imagineering the ECORR as a Wren design (which I’m pretty sure I cannot actually do! ๐Ÿ˜› ). I’ll stroll down to the Royal Navy College, take a few snaps, and bodge something together and see what it looks like.

              On the other hand I figure paradise worlds would be far more open, due to their clement seasons, and an appropriate architecture would be a mix of tent and steel: taking the clustered multi-columns in gothic rib vault and replacing the stone with steel tubes to get impossible spans, and then tensioning translucent weather-proof fabric (like on the Millennium Dome) between the tubes to form a roof. So gothic, but not creepy gothic, more open and light as gothic was originally intended โ€” a progression of the aesthetic (If that’s possible). Taking modern materials and trying to design with ‘god’ in mind. The executives are arrogant, so only a house of god will do!

  5. malika says:

    Getting back to Age 5, those loyal to Jove seek to conquer the galaxy, is it just the galaxy or also other galaxies/universes? Reason I’m asking is that I’m intrigued by the concept of multiverses, so parallel realities and what not. Would the Supremacy (and post Supremacy societies) have tech that would allow them to (a) perceive the multiverse and (b) move back and forth between those universes? This kinda stuff really makes me think of the tv show ‘The Man in the High Castle’, the later seasons apparently delve into the narrative of the Nazis trying to conquer the multiverse.

    • Philip S says:

      To zoom about the universe, you need a Supremacy era Blink-Drive. Eldritch Engines are all well and good but rely on the increased reality-altering Infinity energy brought into the universe during the Psidemic. If you want to galaxy hop then it’s the Supremacy era you’ll be after.

      The Supremacy machines, the Artilects, are aware of the multiverse theory but they have not proved it, and are unaware of the Infinity. Humans in the Post-Supremacy eras are becoming aware of the Infinity, but they cannot fully comprehend it. It is a vague notion. They know something is there, in the back of their mind, but they cannot put it into words; because they cannot get to grips with it. During the Stare into the Abyss era, the Infinity is seen more as ‘primordial chaos‘ and given character.

      They do not know the Infinity is ‘everything’, which includes ‘nothing’, and is a state of potential that only comes into being through a conscious mind. It takes the religious idea of the logos, and that things do not exist until named and perceived by a conscious mind, and runs with it. The use of labels is one of those foundational concepts that still causes all kinds of issues in religion and philosophy, as sometimes people have trouble telling the difference between the objective thing the label we assign to it. I thought I’d play with that whole concept.

      • malika says:

        Hmm, I feel we’re gonna need some separate articles on Blink-Drives and Eldritch Engines.

        I would imagine that stuff like the Eldritch Engines have some sort of impact on the Infinity, maybe even altering reality and such. I remember we discussed the notion of time-travel in which the reality the time-traveller experiences is altered more and more the more (s)he travels through time, eventually going full on madness. I would kinda compare it to having to work with many different wires or cables: at first it goes ok, but the further we go the more entangled everything gets.

        Another idea…I’ve just finished watching “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” on Netflix, the final episode (sorry for the spoilers here) brings up an interesting concept, namely that there are people with supernatural powers out there who have a role to play in repairing the universe that is sort of falling apart. I can’t help but think of Age 7 in which the universe is all messed up, and the Machines/humans realise that they need to use the Navigators to repair everything.

        • Philip S says:

          The main difference between the drives is the machine Blink-Drive uses real-world energy and matter to create the distortion engine, while the Eldritch-Drives tap into the Infinity using human psytients (products of the Psidemic). As you guessed, Eldritch-Drives are a little more temperamental (because of the creative power of the Infinity interacting with the human mind). Psytient pilots are using the tech to model the drive themselves, and stray thoughts can mess with the process. Hence a monk-like discipline.

          As for “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”: humans are already psionic in the Sciror version of today’s world. We all have psionic powers, but they are so weak due to the strength of the Great Barrier, that we do not notice them and put quirks down to intuition, six-sense, gut feeling, ‘just knowing’ etc. Later age humans, after we become aware of our powers thanks to the Psidemic, refer to past humans of our current time as having ‘latent’ powers.

  6. malika says:

    The monk-like discipline angle seems interesting. It brings me various ideas:

    (1) Not every pilot is that disciplined, what kinda consequences will that have? I would imagine a movement of sort of wild/random pilots: they can pilot ships, but can’t really consciously control where they go. This for some reason reminds me of Doctor Who’s TARDIS that often seems to travel to random locations/times. Well, sort of random, apparently the TARDIS always travels to where The Doctor needs to be.

    (2) Monk-like discipline as a trap: I can’t help but think of the Eldar Path system here. What if the pilot becomes trapped inside ‘the Path’? Perhaps (s)he would eventually become part of the ship, kinda Exarch/Phoenix Lord like to speak in Eldar terms. The pilot’s parts (brains, nervous system etc) could eventually be harvested and integrated into the ship.

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