This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius
Original SA post
Review Part 1: This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius
The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook posted:
The world of Conspiracy X is based on historic and contemporary events, persons, and groups. The secret of a good Conspiracy X campaign is weaving “real” events as seamlessly as possible into the story line so that the players cannot be sure what is true and what is deception. Heightened paranoia is central to the experience. When this book, or any other Conspiracy X publication, uses names and details taken from history or contemporary affairs, all such references are fictional or satirical. Conspiracy X is intended solely as a game and not as a source of the “truth.” Nothing in this book is intended to degrade or impugn these people or groups, nor does this book purport to reveal true secretive information about them. In fact, Eden Studios and the authors would like to publicly disclaim any “inside” knowledge and assure any MiBs and Aegis operatives out there that there is no reason to look into the matter any further. Honest!
It's like the 90s never really left us.
The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook begins with a brief introduction that goes over the basics of Unisystem writing style for those who didn't pay attention the first time: the game uses d4, d6, d8, and d10 dice, the Imperial measuring system is used, the writing swaps between male and female pronouns for third person referrals on a by-chapter basis, etc. There's also a whopping six page-long timeline of alien history, but we're going to straight up ignore that because it's stuff that will be learned organically through the rest of the book. This leaves nothing between us and starting this long-delayed post with the actual first chapter.
Chapter 1: The Atlanteans
While they may be outwardly human now, the Atlanteans have a very different ancestry. They call their home planet Adlan'ns - hope you're not allergic to apostrophes, because there's going to be a lot of proper nouns in this section with them - a moonless world with almost-constant daylight and frequent storms. A plethora of violent predators evolved on the planet, but the most successful were giant canine predators referred to by Atlantean palaeontologists as the Sphi'ns. Eventually, an arboreal pack-hunting offshoot called An'Sphi'ns developed, having smaller body size, opposable thumbs, larger brains, and muzzle-free faces. The An'Sphi'ns would eventually begin to forge tools, walk upright, and become sapient, becoming the ancestral Atlantean: the Pr'Adlan'ns.
The most successful Pr'Adlan'n tribes were the subjugation-obsessed and weapon-crafting Dyauspa'r, agrigultural Gerishrig'al, metropolitan Qwezdaco'al, aristic and honor-loving Rapa'lo, nomadic Ahr'am, and seafaring Ea'don. When the Dyauspa'r decided they wanted to become an empire and began steamrolling over tribes and clans all around them, the Gerishrig'al and Qwezdaco'al quickly offered to sign articles of confederation. The others, however, all fought back: the Rapa'lo only submitted once they were nearly extinct, the guerrilla fighters of the Ahr'am didn't lay down their arms until they were promised autonomy under the Dyauspa'r empire, and the Ea'don navies kicked the asses of the Dyauspa'r repeatedly and only eventually joined the empire under the condition that all of the Atlantean tribes would band together and wage holy war on a sapient species of ocean-dwelling armored serpents called the Leva'ans that had been plaguing Ea'don ships.
With all the tribes united under the Dyauspa'r, the Atlanteans spread across their planet, eventually creating a society with the weird contrast of Information Age technology and a feudalist social structure. An overarching global feudalism unsurprisingly bred dissidents unhappy with the aristocracy. These ragtag anarchists, freedom fighters, and general malcontents were collectively referred to as Anuzca'lipoc: "the Adversaries". In spite of that rather bombastic title, though, the true danger to the Dyauspa'r Empire would come from within; 750,000 years ago, increasing autonomy of the nobles of each of the tribes and infighting between them would rip the empire apart in a great civil war.
The Pr'Adlan'ns would have almost certainly wiped themselves off the face of their planet were it not for the intervention of the clergy known as the Nameless Priests. An old Dyauspa'r religion, the Nameless religion held that the universe was created by Ns (literally "Nameless"), a cosmic nothingness that gained the spark of thought and proceeded to think the rest of the cosmos into being out of a desire for companionship. While Ns as a primordial god had existed in pre-unification Pr'Adlan'ns cultures, under the Dyauspa'r Empire his mythology was codified. A Satan-like figure was represented in the Leva'ans god of shadows named Dra'ans, as well as a pantheon under Ns was created in the form of seven children collectively known as the Celestial Family: Ah'ram the goddess of hunting and justice, Anuzca'lipoc the god of adversity and growth through trials, Dyauspa'r the god of the heavens and bureaucracy, Ea'don the god of the seas, Gerishrig'al the earth goddess, Qwezdaco'al the god of laws and craftsmen, and Rapa'lo the god of fire, war, and creativity. The idea was that each tribe was meant to emulate the god they were 'named' after, even having their leader give up their own name to take on the name of the tribe and act as an avatar of their god, and with that social conformity could be obtained. While that obviously didn't work before the civil war, the Nameless Priests managed to persuade the tribes to come stop the bloodshed and actually follow the example of their gods under a new theocratic society.
Under the Nameless Priests' societal plans, all were children of Ns first and tribal identifier second, marking the period where the Atlanteans consider their modern species to have truly begun. After divvying up land to each of the tribes, now known as the Seven Celestial Families, the priesthood would create a new seat of power in the form of the Autarch. An Autarch would be chosen by the Nameless Priests in an event known as the Harmonic Concordance whenever they felt like it was time to get a new Autarch. The Autarch's rule was absolute, and anyone defying it would be effectively excommunicated by the Nameless Priests, unpersoned as one of 'the Forgotten'. Nobles were also given extra legal protection under the rule of the Nameless: a commoner who killed a noble would have themselves and their entire immediate family executed, and duels to the death between different nobles were expressly prohibited.
Fast forward 50,000 years from the Atlantean civil war and the Rapa'lo have invented nanomachines. Even better, several centuries of further research perfect it to the point that the Atlantean people are immortal nanite-hives! At first, this immortality was only afforded to the nobles of each Celestial Family by supposed divine mandate, but enough commoners rebelled that a new eighth Celestial Family specifically for the rebels known as the Frad'ri was created by the Nameless Priests in a hasty attempt to patch things up once again. The Frad'ri would select two members every decade to receive the gift of nanomachine immortality. The Atlantean immortals would capitalize on the whole inability to die thing by inventing artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and space flight. The Ah'ram of the day would be the one to put these three things together into a fully functioning luxury trip through the stars to find potential new people and creatures for the Atlanteans to conquer, so she and the rest of the Ah'ram Family packed up and headed into space.
Around 500,000 years ago, the Ah'ram Family ship finally lands on a planet with life bigger than microbes. Unfortunately, it's the homeworld of the Grays, which at this point were basically psychic space dolphins. The Grays attempted to communicate telepathically, but the lack of psychic powers in the Atlanteans led to Ah'ram and her people assuming that the Grays were all weird sea beasts too dumb to know a predator when they saw one. Queue the Ah'ram Family hooting and hollering about this fun new trophy animal to hunt down and slaughter for the honor of their clan. This was the first time the Grays encountered a new species, and also the first time they ever felt the psychic impression of suffering and violence. Unsurprisingly, they didn't take it well. Doing what any self-respecting psychic space dolphin would, the Grays mindfucked their own genetic code to become terrestrial bipeds, made some coral spacecraft, and went to tell off these new asshole neighbors. And by 'tell off', I mean 'kidnap and vivisect', because the Atlanteans had done the same to them and thus given the species a very bad new habit.
Meanwhile, back on Adlan'ns, the reigning Qwezdaco'al decided that all the other Celestial Families were getting too much honor and fame for him to sit around and do nothing. His plan? Create and release a nanomachine swarm to terraform the entire planet into a perfect eden, optimally designed for the Atlantean people to relax in eternal comfort. Unfortunately for him, the Nameless Priests had a different idea; namely, to turn the planet into a hostile hellworld and murder all the commoners so that the immortal nobles of 'pure blood' could become even stronger. With that goal in mind, they tampered with Qwezdaco'al's invention, and its release ended up creating a gray goo scenario. As all life and land on Adlan'nis melted into a slurry of nanite-infested mud, the terrified nobles on their spaceships gazed on their dying world for the last time.
A bunch of dipshits with a god complex stumble onto Earth. Chariots of the Gods
I'm Not Saying It Was Aliens, But...
Original SA post
Review Part 2: I'm Not Saying It Was Aliens, But...
Chapter 1 Continued
When we last left the Adlan'ns, rogue elements of their society had just reduced their entire planet to sludge. Only a hundred thousand or so immortals escaped, and out of those a fourth were the assholes responsible for the destruction of the planet. The colony ships of each of the Celestial Families scattered to the solar winds, engaging in genocide or mass slavery whenever they happened to alight on a planet with sapient life. This changes in 175,000 BC, when an Anuzca'lipoc vessel lands on Earth. They found a native species of 7" tall hairy giants that would eventually be known in the human tongue as the Pilosi. At first, the Anuzca'lipoc enslaved these creatures as they had so many others before them, but as word spread and more and more Adlan'ns colony ships came to this wondrous Eden of a planet, the species' god complex flared up again. Sure, the Pilosi were big and strong, but they refused to speak the Adlan'ns tongue, and didn't appear very bright. The immortal aristocracy of Adlan'ns wanted to have commoners groveling at their feet again, those who would worship them and tend to their every whim. Enter Homo neanderthalensis
The reigning Gerishrig'al of 150,000 BC decided to become unto as Ns, using her gene splicing skills to create a monkey-Adlan'ns hybrid: the first Neanderthal; ignore the fact that Neanderthals evolved earlier than that, history is a lie and everything you know is wrong. Scratch 'we need commoners who will worship us like gods' off the to-do list. Still, this wasn't enough for some Adlan'ns. The Frad'ri Family declared that there needed to be a weapon that could be used against the Grays. And what better to do so than something made from the Grays themselves? They and the handful of living Qwezdaco'al nobles pitched the idea of splicing Gray genetic material into Neanderthals. In spite of initial resistance from the other Celestial Families, the blessing of the Nameless Priests gave the Qwezdaco'al a chance to 'redeem' themselves by engaging in this new venture.
50,000 years of experimentation later, and humans are born from the union of Gray and Neanderthal DNA. After ordering their new servitors to genocide the Neanderthals as proof of their loyalty to the Adlan'ns nobility, the Celestial Families prepared to set into their old ways of honor-feuds, aristocratic excess, and general dickery, only to be shaken awake by a string of 'oh shit, oh fuck' moments. Humans began showing precognitive abilities, then cultural evolution on a scale of decades rather than millennia, and finally the creation of their own languages, gods, and inventions outside of those given to them by the Adlan'ns. Even more startling was the eventual manifestation of monsters that had not existed before the humans began dreaming and weaving tales of them. The terrifying truth of the matter was that the experiment in creating a species capable of challenging the Grays was a runaway success, to the point where only Adlan'ns overconfidence kept them from going into a full panic about the possibility that their servants could one day become the masters.
The Ea'Don Family was given the task of making sure the humans kept evolving into the perfect sword to wield against the Grays and not stray off the path of worshiping their creators. To perform this task, the ruling Ea'don created a titanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, declared himself its emperor, and dubbed the island continent Atlantis. Similarly, the Adlan'ns would be called the Atlanteans, to make their name simpler for their human underlings to pronounce. Qwezdaco'al would create his own island empire in the Pacific, called Lemura, and the two nations would become the primary homes for the Atlantean people and their human subjects. This time, sure of their control and no longer freaking out about the potential of human development away from Atlantean norms, the immortal nobles once again settled back into the societal norms they had established on their homeworld so long ago.
But what of the Pilosi? If you'd forgotten about them, I wouldn't blame you, but they're still around. The secret truth about the Pilosi is that they could speak and understand Atlantean perfectly fine, but had no tolerance for the yolk of oppression. They saw humans as brothers unfortunately too ignorant to see their place as slaves. Pilosi rebels that escaped Atlantean society over the millennia both secreted some humans to freedom and experimented with harnessing the ambient psychic energy created by human presence, creating what modern people call magic. Two particularly industrious Pilosi brothers evne created cities of their own in the jungles of North Africa and in the high Himalayas. The brother of the jungle city was foolhardy enough to taunt the Atlanteans with his power and freedom, which the Atlanteans responded to by sending in human and Atlantean warriors to slaughter the city. The city was so thoroughly razed that destroyed nanomachines and unchained raw magic would scour the entire region, turning the great jungle into the Sahara Desert.
The mad as hell Atlanteans began a full-scale campaign of extermination against the rebellious Pilosi. Those who survived scattered to the winds to protect themselves and their human allies; some would even go so far as to take to the oceans, where they would grow gills and exchange their fur for scales. While the sea Pilosi were content to just chill out and befriend humans, the land Pilosi would continue to hone and refine their magic, especially the powers of illusion that could help them escape the notice of the raging Atlanteans. Some would even find a golden brown metal that was capable of amplifying psychic power during their travels around 25,000 years ago. This metal, dubbed orichalcum, was rare and powerful enough that they quickly snatched up any on hand and began to forge it into foci of various shapes and sizes to help themselves and the Pilosi-allied human population increase their magical powers.
Meanwhile, back with the Atlanteans, Autarch Ea'don has been busy. He's created another island city in between Atlantis and Africa called Tro'don, ruled by his son Pri'don. While Pri'don took on a load of human wives and fucked himself up the largest Army on Earth, other Atlantean rulers began to send off their own colonies to both weed out the Pilosi rebels and expand their influence. Gerishrig'al and Ahr'am colonized the Mediterranean, Qwezdaco'al and Rapa'lo the Americas, Dyauspa'r the far east of Asia, and a daughter of Gerishrig'al and her Ea'don ally the Russian steppe. These independent colonies were given instructions to build pyramids in the fashion of the temples that once dotted Adlan'ns, and given only Bronze Age technology to avoid the possibility of being on par technologically with their Atlantean masters.
10,000 years ago, Dyauspa'r decides that his army of humans known as the Gre'ks are formidable enough to challenge any foe. Seeing this new age of expansion as a perfect opportunity to stir up shit with his old rival Ea'don. His plan: have his spies convince a Tro'don noble to demand a bride be taken from the ranks of the Gre'ks as tribute, then use this event as casus belli to invade Tro'don. A Gre'k warrior named Akki'r leads the assault on Tro'don; turns out he's actually a Pilosi agent and powerful psychic warrior, though, and he ends up killing Pri'don and slaughtering Atlanteans left and right in the name of human freedom rather than in the name of Dyauspa'r. Whoops!
As human rebellions erupt across the planet, the panicking Atlanteans turn to the Nameless Priests for guidance. Turns out that millennia of inbreeding and oaths of secrecy have driven the Nameless Priests a bit loopy, though, so their decree is to scorched earth the entirety of Atlantean operations on Earth. Atlantis, Lemura, and countless Atlantean technological marvels are destroyed via overloading geothermal power plants, with no regard for the loss of Atlantean or human life. A volcanic ash cloud creates an even colder climate, and so much of humanity is lost that it goes through a population bottleneck and loss of knowledge.
Reeling from yet another disaster, the Atlanteans went back to the drawing board. Again. Humans were considered too valuable in the forever war against the Grays to remove entirely, but direct control was now considered way too dangerous, so what to do? The provided answer was to weave Atlantean narratives into human religions, presenting the Atlanteans as gods. The Gre'ks led by Akki'r against Tro'don would become the Greeks and Achilles against Troy, Gerishig'al would be the goddess Ereshkigal, Ea'don would inspire Poseidon, Qwezdaco'al and Anuzca'lipoc would be reflected in Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, etc. While limited but direct 'divine intervention' was allowed in the days of the Babylonians, Greeks, and early Mesoamerican civilizations, this would end in 300 AD. Nonetheless, every human religion that exists today is at least partly influenced by the Atlanteans' attempts to use religious rites as a way to control humanity, with Confucianism in particular being called out as the most directly written by Atlanteans themselves. They've similarly tried to influence humans' psychic potential through secret societies such as the Freemasons. Nonetheless, all of these attempts at molding humanity in their image haven't changed the fact that the Atlanteans' influence has greatly waned. They are a dying species, cursed by their own hubris, and they've begun to truly realize just what that means the future.
The life and times of the modern Atlantean.
I Am The Modren Man
Original SA post
Review Part 3: I Am The Modren Man
Chapter 1 Continued
The surviving modern Atlantean is a psychological minefield. Immortality has made them restless egomaniacs with a god complex, obsessed with being the apex at one thing or another, be that war, political maneuverings, science, art, or what have you. Atlantean interactions are pretty much centuries-long dick waving contests, and most are too prideful to work with one another for more than a brief period of time. Even the Celestial Families are more a matter of heritage than any cohesive unit for what few Atlanteans remain. This is a problem for them, as multiple storms are on the horizon. Humans have become technologically advanced enough to challenge and even kill Atlanteans, the Grays are on Earth and gathering allies, and the Saurians are an unknown factor that most Atlanteans see as too minor to be important but some are genuinely concerned about.
There are only two cohesive 'societies' of Atlantean that still exist, one of which are the Nameless Priests. At this point, the Nameless are so inbred and mentally burdened that they are almost always dissociative psychopaths, barely connecting with the world around them and living in monastic communes. These communes must never fall below sixty-seven members, as sixty-six is considered an unholy number, and most are meant to have a membership around the sacred number eighty-eight. Unlike other Atlanteans, the Nameless are so obsessed with blood purity that they refuse to utilize internal nanites, meaning that they still have a mortal lifespan that caps out at around age 300. When a Nameless dies, all the other members of the commune begin having sex in an attempt to produce what they consider a viable offspring. All of the nonviable offspring are aborted, and once the viable one is born and matured their parent is executed to maintain the constant population number. One Nameless commune in the Himalayas has found and begun a tenuous diplomacy with the Pilosi living there, which would probably be a shock to other Atlanteans if the commune ever decided to give enough of a fuck to inform anyone else (which is unlikely).
The other connected Atlantean social group are the Forgotten. Members of the Atlantean diaspora that were deemed to have committed a crime worth capital punishment were literally unpersoned, their memories forcibly removed as they were thrown into the wilderness of Earth to fend for themselves. While these sentences are meant to be carried out for several thousand years before being revoked, some were forgotten due to the Nameless not having all their chickens in a row, hence the moniker. The amnesiac Forgotten were still immortal, however, and inevitably stumbled across other members of the Forgotten that were 'familiar' due to facial recognition software being part of the standard Atlantean nanomachine system package. Slowly but surely, they came together into their own secret society, attempting to find their true origin. This search went in vain until the 1980s, when a Forgotten scientist who had taken the human name Randolph Winot was drafted into a cell of Aegis. Winot's work ended up putting him in direct contact with Atlantean technology. Realizing that the craft had the same nanotechnology within his own body, he informed forty-three other Forgotten of this occurrence and they formulated a plan.
Randolph Winot would continue to work for Aegis, work his way to the top rank of his cell, and demand a face to face meeting with the Atlantean who had provided the craft to Aegis. The Atlantean in question, Leese, was set upon by the whole group of Forgotten, tortured, and eventually gave up knowledge of Atlantean culture and the punishment of the Forgotten before dying soon after. This knowledge created a schism in the Forgotten. Some felt that they could return to the Atlanteans and plead the case for their memories to be restored, but the majority were mad as hell and wanted to both take their memories by force and give the Atlanteans a world of hurt. The retributive group, now forty-five strong, is known as the Reckoners and remains led by Randolph Winot. They seek to use contacts in Aegis and NDD, as well as a newfound alliance with the Grays, to shore up power and then beat the shit out of the Atlanteans hiding on Earth. Meanwhile, the eleven 'Pacifiers' have similarly sunk their tendrils into Aegis and the NDD to learn more information about their brethren, while also contacting Nameless Priest communes as they try and fail to get them to break out of their dissociative slump.
The Parts of a Disjointed Whole
As the rest of the modern Atlanteans are so disconnected and individualistic, five NPC Atlanteans are presented near the end of the section to highlight some of those operating on Earth with disparate goals and attitudes. The first of these is Azek'al, Guardian of Humanity
. One of the original Qwezadaco'al who created humans and part of an ancient faction that tried and failed to convince the Atlanteans to give their creations the same rights and technology as their own kind, Azek'al sees humans as his collective children. Having already served three thousand years of memory wipe for attempting to give Atlantean nanotechnology to humans directly, Azek'al has looked for a loophole in Atlantean law via giving a guiding hand to human scientists and innovators in the hopes that they will soon invent the same sort of technology on their own. His current machinations involve creating a Silicon Valley nonprofit called the Forward Thought Institute, which he heads under the human guise Louis Michaels. Unfortunately, his hopes of a golden age of humanity are currently on the rocks. His two most trusted scientists, Laura Dickinson and Jeremy Lee, are the only members of the Forward Thought Institute that know Azek'al's secret, and have even been given limited nanoaugmentation; unfortunately, they only see dollar signs, and are secretly more than willing to fuck Azek'al over if it means they can control the flow of technology and become filthy rich.
Voeth'am, The Eugenicist,
is unsurprisingly less of a benevolent figure. Once a famed Atlantean explorer, the species' first encounter with the Grays broke something inside of her. Suddenly, there was an alien culture out there that had powers that the Atlanteans not only didn't understand, but could not possess, and that ate at Voeth'am for millennia. It's all she thinks about and the obsession that colors all her pursuits; Voeth'am wants nothing more than to grant Atlanteans the power of psychic awakening. She's made numerous attempts at mucking about with Gray DNA to see if there's something there that could work with Atlanteans rather than simply create humans again, studied all manner of psychic powers and magic rituals, observed the Seepage, and kept the company of sorcerers and scientists alike, but her efforts have not been fruitful. Her latest and most desperate plan is to create a metahuman (an artificial superhuman created by the Grays that will be explained more in their chapter) that is both psychically active and receptive to nanotechnology, then transplant her consciousness and nanites into it. For this to be a valid plan, however, she has to thread the line of working with the Grays via a collection of middlemen; not only would the Atlanteans definitely convict her of high treason were they to find out, but Aegis would almost certainly send their top agents to disrupt the plan if they knew of it, seeing it as a top threat to humanity.
is God. Like, literally, he's God. The capital G God. Yahweh. Jehovah. That
God. In ancient times, he came to humanity proclaiming divinity, using nanotechnology to perform miracles such as manna from heaven and disasters such as the Ten Plagues of Egypt. After that got boring, he gave up on the physical god bit, instead playing a new game of taking on a human form and rising to power, 'dying', then taking a new form and doing it all over again. King Philip, Henry II, Pope Innocent III, Qin Shi Huang Di, Boudica, Hernan Cortes, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are called out as specific 'people' that were all just Djerl'r entertaining himself. After the other Atlanteans got tired of him literally sending out messages bragging of his accomplishments, Djerl'r decided that his next game would be to unify the Atlanteans once more, with him as the king of course. To this end, he has installed a network of informants in the US political system, Aegis, and the NDD, collected information on all known sapient species, and openly aided numerous Atlanteans while covertly sabotaging and even murdering others.
Erlyn'lo, History Maker,
has a hobby that is less directly destructive but definitely insidious. She sees herself as an artist and writer, with human history and prehistory as her canvas. Whenever history needs to be rewritten or surprising new evidence of the past comes to light, there's a good possibility it's something Elryn'lo has whipped up using her nanomachines. She even created the whole 'human fossil record' from Australopithecus
onward from scratch - Neanderthals and Homo sapiens
were both Atlantean creations, remember - as part of her game. Right now, she's considering creating 'evidence' endorsing either young earth creationism or astrobiological origins of all life on Earth. Since Aegis is getting too close to uncovering the True History for her liking, she also has started to plan a story that will put the organization in disarray.
Finally, there's Lerun'al, The Prophet
. A pacifist and great philosopher since the days when Adlan'ns was still a habitable world, Lerun'al was both fascinated by the existence of the Grays and horrified at her kin's senseless slaughter of them. She took the stars as a wandering contemplative for millennia before eventually reaching Earth, where the human experiment was in full swing. Humans' powers of precognition sparked a new passion in Lerun'al, and she began devoting herself to recording human prophecy and precognitive techniques over the ages. Things took a turn for the unpleasant in the 1950s, when an overwhelming pattern of dreams and visions related to the apocalypse began to appear. Most of these featured demons with large heads and eyes, which Lerun'al understandably believed to be the Grays. She took it upon herself to avoid humanity suffering this future by helping human psychics become stronger and influencing media producers to create increasingly negative portrayals of Grays in pop culture. Will her plans stop the apocalypse? Well...
Conspiracy X 2.0: The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook posted:
If only she knew that the greater threat would come from the Saurians.
We finish the Atlantean chapter with Atlantean game mechanics and technological marvels.