Welcome to 2199 AD
Original SA post
Blue Planet is a Science Fiction roleplaying game with a simulationist system and an incredibly complex publication history going through multiple publishers over the years. While the ruleset itself is nothing special, the game is best remembered for its incredibly in-depth setting, a deep highly realistic and meticulously researched and designed alien world. If you like detailed and interesting science fiction worlds, you’ll probably like this game. While I’ve previously done F&F’s and fell out on previous ones, I’m going to try and condense this down to a more easily digestible form to avoid burnout. With that said, let’s get started!
Welcome to 2199 AD
The setting of Blue Planet is the… well Planet above: Lambda Serpentis II, common name, Poseidon. The relevant part of the story starts in 2078, when astronomers discover an anomalous something or other out beyond the orbit of Pluto. Humanity soon starts to probe and explore the anomaly, and discovers that is a stable, persistent, wormhole, a bridge across space and time. Through the wormhole, humanity discovered Poseidon, an earthlike world, covered in blue seas, habitable to humanity.
This was attractive for many reasons, not least of which that future Earth was your typical polluted cyberpunk hellhole with massive overpopulation and dwindling resources. So, humanity obviously wants to get started colonizing ASAP. A UN organized colonization effort is soon started, known as the Athena Project. The first wave of colonists, numbering 5,000, was sent through the wormhole to begin colonizing the new world!
Then the Blight happened. In 2090 a tailored virus designed by the American Fischer Foods corporation was released. The virus was designed to kill harmful fungal crop infections. The virus, eventually known as the Fischer Blight, proceeded instead to kill nearly every food crop on the planet. This triggered mass starvation, near extinction of the human species, and a lot of wars, revolutions, riots... The Blight ran rampant until its destruction in 2120, leaving a devastated and crippled Earth behind. It took decades for Earth to recover, led by the Global Ecology Organization, a powerful UN body that essentially ruled Earth during the recovery. Nobody looked to the stars, until 2164, when everyone had recovered enough to remember to check up on that colony that had been abandoned for over 75 years.
A science expedition was sent through the wormhole to survey Poseidon in the hopes of a second colonizing attempt. To everyone’s surprise, the first one succeeded. The original 5,000 colonists had grown to a worldwide population of 40,000, spread across the planet. The settlers had reverted to a lower-tech lifestyle, living in scattered fishing and farming villages similar to those of pre-colonial Polynesian cultures. They had in effect become the new natives of the planet.
At first, the natives didn’t really care. Some were bitter about their abandonment, others were happy to hear from the homeworld, but most just wanted to keep living their lives. Earth’s interest in Poseidon was primarily scientific, sending only research teams to visit the planet. Initial discoveries were interesting, even baffling, but not a cause for mass colonization. The planet had a ridiculously complex biosphere, and inconceivably had DNA and compatible biochemistry with Humans but that was really more a curiosity than a major deal. Until Long John.
Xenosilicates, AKA Longevity Ore or colloquially Long John were discovered in a routine mineral survey. These minerals seemed to be naturally occurring biochemical tools of immense complexity and power. Through processing and refinement they could be used to catalyze genetic manipulation and control on an unprecedented level. Genetic engineering, active bio-modification, and most importantly life extension treatments This triggered an interplanetary Gold Rush like the world had never seen. Millions rushed to Poseidon seeking, fame, fortune, and literal immortality.
So, that’s Poseidon in 2199. A world of corporate boomtown and mining facilities, with unhappy natives and a still untamed and largely unexplored planet. It’s the amphibious wild-west. Corporate wars, environmental terrorism, native uprisings, a hostile alien world… and something mysterious in the depths.
The Leasear Effect posted:
It was the third day of the fourth week after the orbiter’s splashdown, and Neilson and the crew had finally checked and rechecked the incoming data long enough to pronounce the atmosphere and water safe for the dive team. I was out of my environmental shell and already pulling off my thermal suit when McLaren came in from sonar to tell us we could all go for a swim. He glared at me; I smiled at him and headed for the topside hatch.
The airlock had only cycled half open when I climbed out on deck and into the alien sunlight and air of Poseidon. I could hear Neilson over the intercom, yelling at me to come back and put on a bio-monitor. I turned around, gave the intercom camera my sweetest “screw you” smile (you’ve probably seen the clip), and jumped over the side.
It’s that first moment I’II never forget. I’m no poet, but by God, I’ll tell you, sliding into that water felt like coming home. No lie. ‘It was as real as I’m sitting here talking to you. A kind of dreamy, half deja-vu It lasted for maybe five minutes, maybe more, while that crystal blue water worked its way into every pore. I just hung there about two meters under, grinning like an idiot (you’ve probably seen that clip, too).
Strangest thing I’ve ever felt. The bioengineers tell me it was some kind of hormone-induced euphoria. All the modies get it on their first dive, apparently. But I don’t buy that crap. It was more than that. It was the Planet.
No, I’m not crazy. It was the Planet. It reached out and took hold of me and held on — as if I’d been gone a long time and had just come back home.
Anyway, I was the first and I’m proud of it. And now you know why they call that “hormoneinduced euphoria” the Lesear Effect.
Nathaniel Lesear, Argos 12 crew member — from Tidal Forces, interviews by Ashri Khenera
Poseidon: A Complete Survival Guide
Original SA post
Poseidon: A Complete Survival Guide
This section comes after the general “What is an RPG? WHat are dice?” section, and is an introduction to the setting in finer detail. It’s in-universe fiction, and is pretty well written. The Revised books do this very often, and it’s actually fun to read and gives a better sense of the world than just reading text.
The scene is a makeshift film studio in a warehouse. It’s a filming of essentially a travel guide/immigration handbook for new arrivals to Poseidon hosted by Robby, a human, and Skimmer, a bottlenose dolphin.
“Welcome to New World Underground’s multimedia production, Poseidon: A Complete Survival Guide. I’d call it two point zero or something lame like that, but all we’re doing here is condensing our award-winning programs into one for the convenience of our audience. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you have legs or fins, this guide is for you. With me here today, representing the cetacean species, is our good friend Skimmer. She’ll be chiming in with in-the-know tips for cetes.”
We get introduced to the current status of Earth!
Turns out it sucks! Earth’s an industrial polluted wastehole. While reconstruction efforts to replenish the biosphere are ongoing, in general the planet is a hellish cyberpunk wasteland. Noise, air, water, all polluted. The American midwest is a giant desert, etc. etc. picture of a crying dolphin here.
We get the distance to Serpentis, the solar system of Poseidon! 35 Light Years, though with the wormhole it’s only a six month trip one way. Not that it’s easy to get to there. There’s a few ways to get to Poseidon, depending on your status, luck, and connections. The easiest, most reliable, and most comfortable is on a GEO ship. This is pretty much restricted to government agents and employees, or official GEO colonists. The requirements for that are basically the same as immigrating to a first world nation: Do a lengthy application, it helps if you’re in a skilled high demand low supply field like medical or engineering, and it’s gonna take at least two years before you have a shot at getting a ride.
The second option is lower class but easier to get on, which is to ride on an Incorporate ship. This means you either work for a company that sends you to Poseidon, or pay a company enough money that they give you a ride. The third is private organizations, nation-states, charities, etc. Sometimes they scrape enough money together for a decent ride to Poseidon.
The last option is dirt cheap and dangerous: Black market body-smugglers. Pay a reasonable fee to someone who doesn’t ask questions and doesn’t give a shit if you make it to the other side of the galaxy alive and you get to ride in a ship older than your parents staffed by med-school dropouts and alchoholic astronauts. This is obviously not idea for MANY reasons.
The narrator rolls up his sleeve and peels back the flesh on the inside of his right arm. He thumbs open a tiny panel, about a centimeter square, and displays the complex electronics to the holocamera.
“It seems the ship’s coolers were about as old and well-maintained as it was. When I got here to Poseidon, my arm was deader than Nebraska farmland. The med school dropout who woke me just shrugged and said I was lucky it was my arm and not my head. I’d have decked him, but I never could lead with my left.”
Yeah, you don’t get a comfy chair. Travel to Poseidon is accomplished with the aid of Induced Hypothermic Metabolic Suppression. The process is invasive and dehumanizing! First they pump you full of chemicals to clean out your system of any and all bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other nasties that might be hiding out. There’s lots of fluid evacuation involved. Then they dunk you in a caustic bath that burns all your hair and the top few layers of skin off, and chuck you in quarantine until you’re ready to go in the cooler.
The coolers are about 3 meters long, or appropriate size if cete. They stick you in the Cooler, cram a catheter up your pisshole, stick you full of IVs, cover you in electrodes and then pump you full of sedatives to knock you out cold. Then they lower you to just above freezing and hold you there for the whole journey in cold storage.
“You’ll wake up in post-flight on Prosperity Station feeling like warmed-over manure. Your body will be feeling all those chemicals and engineered viruses they put into you to hold your cells together while you were frozen and thawed. Being a centimeter this side of death for half a year takes a certain toll on a person. They make sure the lights are dimmed, but when you open your eyes, it’ll feel like your head is going to explode. You’ll be so weak it’ll be hard to sit up. You’ll most likely try puke all over yourself, but you won’t be able to. You’ll have the worst case of the dry heaves you ever had, though.
“After these preliminary unpleasantries, the itching will start. Those electrodes they stuck on you will leave little red welts all over your body, and these welts are going to itch like all hell for about a week after they unplug you. We Poseidoners call it the Spots, and it’ll be a signal to us that you just got off the boat and haven’t a clue what you’re doing. It should remind you of the same.”
Oh, and you’ll be bone tired but can’t sleep because they pumped you full of stimulants so you’re a twitching tweaker mess with muscle atrophy and stomach cramps for the next three goddamn days. Once you’re recovered enough to walk in a straight line you get a grilling by Customs and Immigration hardasses, then you finally get to wait for your shuttle down to the planet. Spaceports are located in the cities of Haven, Second Try and Kingston. Robby recommends not going to Haven because it’s an overcrowded and over expensive mess.
[i[The holodisplay clears and is filled with the image of a narrow, dirty city street in a commercial district choked with pedestrians and civilian vehicles. Buildings demonstrating a chaotic variety of architectural styles squeeze the street, and holographic billboards light the scene with an unpleasant multicolored glow. Overhead, jumpcraft move through the city in layered traffic lanes stacked ten high. [/i]
Skimmer breaks in, “Haven isn’t that bad a stop for cetes. Go down to Slippery Jake’s or Aquatech on the waterfront for your CICADA and other equipment. Both places are honest and fair-priced. If you need a guide, ask Jake who he recommends. He knows all the good guides. They’re not cheap, but you won’t end up stranded in the middle of the nowhere. Or you could fly into Second Try and check out Aquatech HQ. They have everything the store in Haven does plus the owner, Vendor, is full of good stories. Some will scare the flukes right off you. Tell him I sent you, and say hello for me.”
Now we get to what Poseidon is like proper. First, it’s very multicultural and Poseidon culture heavily emphasizes personal freedom and expression. Earth is a corporate conformist shithole so Poseidon is overwhelming to new immigrants. The air also smells weird, heavy and organic, due to a different atmospheric composition.
Then we get into the economy. There’s two main currencies on Poseidon: Incorporate Scrip and Long John. Scrip is a goddamn nightmare. Every Incorporate has their own scrip, and the value of the scrip goes up and down based on the company’s quarterly earnings. Also there’s a speculation market of people buying and selling various scrips to each other. So, it’s a mess. Thankfully most people have a computer program that wrangles all that for them so they don’t have to care and their net-worth stays pretty stable day-to-day. Scrip is both electronic and in paper form.
The second is Long John, worth roughly 1,000 Scrip per Gram on average. Most often carried in 1 milligram wafers. Long John is vastly preferred over Scrip because its value is relatively stable if inflationary, compared to the fluctuations of Scrip. Barter is also a popular form of trade among the Native population.
Businesses are mostly small, independent, and local. The corporate places are around in the big cities, but they haven’t gotten a solid foothold yet. Mom-and-Pop independents are the majority of the businesses on Poseidon that you’ll interact with in person. Smaller settlements will generally have a trading post as a centralized area for commerce. Specialized or expensive equipment can be bought, but due to the lack of a manufacturing base you’ll be on a waiting list for the more complex stuff like electronics and machinery.
Next up is transportation: Unless you want to settle wherever the shuttle dumped you you gotta work out getting around. You can either get your own vehicle or charter transport. There is no public transportation on Poseidon, so you’re paying no matter what. People on Poseidon are also very very very serious about their vehicles and it’s a killing offense pretty much everywhere to mess with someone’s vehicle. On a planet that’s 97% ocean getting stranded is a serious thing and nobody messes around.
As a fun side effect vehicle theft is a very lucrative, if incredibly dangerous, career option as everyone needs a ride but not everyone wants to pay MSRP. Another possible career due to this preoccupation with travel is professional salvager, as any lost or abandoned vehicles are considered property of whoever gets to it first. This actually leads to weird races between salvage crews and Emergency Response Teams to get to disaster areas to get as much loot as possible before the GEO claims it.
Fuel is actually not much of a concern: Vehicles in 2199 are all powered by Hydrogen which can be produced cheaply anywhere. Even the smallest villages will have a solar hydrogen generator, though you’ll be paying a premium for the resulting fuel. So running out of gas won’t be a problem unless you’re WAY out in the boonies.
Next up make sure you’re signed up for CommCore (the GEO’s communication network on Poseidon) and GPS service. This makes sure you don’t get lost and can maybe get in contact with someone for rescue even if you are. Then, get a guide to show you the ropes. Poseidon is really fucking dangerous if you don’t know anything, so hire someone who does and get them to teach you how not to die horrifically.
And that wraps up the bit that’s relevant to getting started as a new immigrant to Poseidon. The rest of this section is more a tourist-guide, giving basic facts of how the planet works. As such, I’ll switch to bullet pointed list format to wrap this up as we’re basically getting a vomit of FUN FACTS!
- Natives are often living in a much lower-tech lifestyle than than the later colonists: this does not mean they are primitive in any way. Most natives prefer a low-tech way of living but are fully aware of modern technology and are not afraid to use it.
- On a related note, not all Natives are happy about what’s been going on post-Recontact. Most point their ire at reasonable targets; Incorporate states, poachers, and the like. Others aren’t so picky and just go after anybody non-Native. The worst of these are the tribes of the Sierra Neuva Cluster. Led by a transient orca, they have developed an isolationist warrior-culture that preys on any traffic in the region. While both Incorporates and the GEO have attempted to “pacify” them, their villages are mostly underwater and therefore a nightmare to take out. Also, they are NOT primitive: They happily steal tech from those they raid and have quite an arsenal of modern military equipment. Also they like coating their weapons in a potent neurotoxin so that’s fun!
- Long John prospecting is a good way to make a living, but it’s hard and dangerous and most end washed up on a beach to be stripped by scavengers. If you aren’t already a skilled deep-sea miner and geologist, don’t go into it on your own: Find an already successful prospector and get yourself apprenticed to him. If you’re competent and useful you’ll learn the trade and stay alive.
- Official law enforcement is ran by the GEO. The Highest form of law is the GEO Marshal, who are given full authority to carry out the entire legal process: Judge, Jury, Executioner in total. They also are equipped with top of the line cybernetics, genetic modification, and equipment, so don’t fuck with them. Thankfully there’s only a few dozen on the planet. Marshals are assisted by Patrol officers, who make up the rank and file of the GEO’s peacekeeping forces. OF course many Incorporates have their own security forces and internal rules, and native villages and settlements often have a Native Patrol or local militia.
- The GEO is the de-jure government of Poseidon, but it’s hardly comprehensive. There’s several competing factions besides the GEO to deal with. The first is the Incorporate States, which are literally Megacorps from Shadowrun. Basically, during the Blight a lot of governments collapsed, and your Cyberpunk Megacorps stepped in and became their own nation-states. Refreshingly though, they aren’t actually all cartoonishly evil! Most are basically just… nations. They do nation stuff, and while some (GenDiver) are pretty fucking horrible (Massacres, strip-mining, polluting, etc) while others are actually not terrible.
- The GEO is under a lot of political fire. Created by the UN to help fight the Blight many now see it as a relic, past its purpose. But, the GEO still has enough clout, and the rules of the UN, to make disbanding the organization effectively impossible. The end result is that some Incorporates are close allies of the GEO, others are actively hostile, and others just ignore them as much as possible. Natives hate the GEO because they won’t defend them against Incorporate states, and don’t recognize their land claims. Newcomer settlers hate the GEO because of taxes and regulation from a body they have no say or control over. It’s a rough situation all around.
- Leisure! There are Holoplexes (Future Movies), Virtual Arcades (full-immersion VR holodeck type deal), traveling theater companies (Check out the New Orleans Burlesque Company!). Recreational drugs are a thing, with some being legal and others not. Mentioned is Pharium, a powerful narcotic created from indigenous plants to Poseidon. It’s basically Super-Opium complete with Pharium Dens of catatonic addicts.
- Prostitution is legal and everywhere! Male, female, and other. More popular in smaller towns (Virtual Arcades are fierce competition) in the form of your traditional Old-West style Brothels. Professional prostitutes often give customers their medical records to guarantee health. While it’s legal, the GEO is very serious about catching “flesh merchants”, traffickers and sex-slavers who import people from Earth to act as unwilling “entertainers”.
- Bars, nightclubs, saloons, get your drink on, you know how it goes. These are also often doubling as casinos: popular games include poker, bridge, gin rummy, dice, craps, and everything else appropriate to your Old West gambling parlors. Kingston is the Las Vegas of Poseidon, and is the only place to find dedicated casinos offering games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and slots.
- Earthly professional sports aren’t a thing on Poseidon: There just isn’t enough money to bother importing pro-athletes across the wormhole. The planet has grown up some of its own sports though! The main sport on Poseidon is hydroshot. It’s essentially soccer, but played in the water. The field is triangular, with three teams playing at a time. It’s a violent full contact sport, and is incredibly popular. There are separate human and cete leagues, as a human has no chance against a cete.
- There’s also the Storm Belt 10,000. An annual 10,000KM endurance Hydrofoil race straight through the Storm-Belt at the height of storm season. In addition to the natural dangers of the sea, you have to watch out for other races. Short of the rule that you can’t have actual weapons, there are no limits. Each competitor puts up a 1,000 Scrip fee towards the pot, with over a hundred competitors on average the race has some major prize purses.
- Now to music: There’s two genre’s unique to Poseidon: image-sound and Native Tribal. Native Tribal is as expected the music developed by the Native population of Poseidon. It also, like many music genres, has been co opted by shitty corporations and authentic Native Tribal is unheard off Poseidon, replaced by shitty imitators. The other is made by cetes. Humans have to use specialized neural-jacks to experience them properly. It’s essentially a combination of music and visuals as experienced by cetaceans as a echolocation-soundscape.
The screen fills with the image of hundreds of cetaceans crowded together in a noisy bay. They are arranged in a loose ring, bobbing up and down as they watch a submerged groups of belugas and fins painted in wild colors and designs. Suddenly a group of smaller commons appear, also painted in wild colors. They dive and sprint seemingly recklessly through the submerged group and watchers alike in a coordinated pattern that’s hard to follow. Others clap their jaws, slap their flukes on the water surface or leap from the water landing on their sides, creating resounding underwater echoes. All the sounds and movement combine to make a rhythm of sound and motion.
- The final paragraphs is just some advice to cetes, though it’s also useful for anyone planning to live in the ocean, and gives some more info about the ecology of the planet. We learn that Poseidon has a slightly saltier sea, and a stronger magnetic field. Poseidon lifeforms are totally edible and compatible with Earth life. It’s also loaded with life, far more than the Earth’s seas, and a lot of it is dangerous. “Greater and lesser whites, polypods, blood hunters, pseudo-eels, and translucent jellies” are all things that can pose a genuine threat to what on Earth is an apex predator. IT’s advised swimmers carry weapons. Like, freaking torpedos. There’s also apparently rapidly fatal parasites, fungus, and disease. “Angel Wing larvae, fast fungus, and needle darts”. Oh, and the storms can grow to thousands of kilometers in diameter and last for months.
So that wraps up this section: Poseidon so far is a Cyperpunk Aquatic Transhumanist Wild-West. Next up we get to Character Creation, which will be crazy condensed but still hope you like more bullet lists!