1) Longsleep Revival Briefing 2) STL Empire Building

Background material for the Rimworld game, the sci-fi colony simulation.

The Quick Primer is more like the short and to the point Referee’s Notes on the universe. A quote from the Primer:

Things you won’t see

RimWorld does not include:

  • Faster than light travel.
  • True aliens.

5500 A.D.

The game takes place at a time about 3,500 years in our future. This is the year 5500 in our calendar.

Where are the rim worlds?

Towards the galactic core, stars are closer together and travel is easier. These systems tend to be better-developed socially and technologically because they can communicate and enrich each other through trade. Away from the galactic core are the rim worlds, which float distant from each other. Their isolation makes them poor and socially unstable.

The gulfs between stars

In the RimWorld universe, it takes years or decades to travel or communicate between starsBecause travel times are so long, planets tend to be disconnected from each other socially and technologically. So there are no great star empires, and interstellar travel is unusual. Each star system is mostly isolated from its neighbors.

Varied technology levels

In this universe, cultures do not always progress forward technologically the way many science fiction worlds assume they will. Often, a culture will blow itself up or suffer plagues and other great catastrophes. These regression events send them “back to the stone age”.

Because this happens regularly, people in the RimWorld universe come from extremely varied technology levelsSome are stone-age tribespeople. Some are medieval farmers and lords. Some are industrial-era politicans and bankers and riflemen. Some are information-age programmers or astronauts. And some are from eras beyond our own.

There is a maximum level of technology to the people you might encounter in RimWorld. At this level, advanced genetic engineering and AI, autonomous intelligent robots, and massive computer power are possible. However, worlds that develop beyond this point enter a mysterious “transcendent” state from which no recognizable human emerges.

People can have and use technologies from levels beyond their own. On an industrial-level world (like the rimworld on which the game takes place), most people use gunpowder-fired weapons, fossil fuel engines, and other familiar machines. But anyone can stumble upon ultra-advanced technologies in an ancient ruin, or in a crashed spacecraft, or among the wares of a trader. These items are nearly impossible to manufacture for the people of RimWorld. They are incredibly valuable and very poorly understood.

And now, a selection from the Longsleep Revival Briefing, an in-universe summary of what’s going on around you:

Longsleep Revival Briefing

Classed midworld 2M+

Ordo Historia AL166/5533

Authors: Smyth A5, Wu 9U, Rabatz M5

Editors: Lee NA8125, Asusen NA45, Ramad 120, Leeuen 5A, Jennifer 9D252, Lamaritian SJ11, Beeson 9GF, Xotori 28

Euterpe

Introduction

You’ve woken from your longsleep sarcophagus, had the slime scraped off you, and been placed in a quiet room. Now you’re reading this document. And you’ve got questions. What’s going on? Where am I? How long was I asleep?

Our studies have revealed that most people in your position respond better when given the time to read about and digest their situation at their own pace. To facilitate this process, we’ve created this document to familiarize you with the world you just woke up in.

So order a warm beverage from the food panel on the wall, get comfortable, and read at your own pace.

You’ve been asleep a long time, and a lot has changed.

The basics

The best historians of the Ordo Historium at the richest archives believe that humanity first left its origin planet Earth about 3,400 years ago (in the frame of reference of the stars). Since then, we’ve spread across the galaxy on a fitful wavefront of colony ships, frontier worlds, and robotic terraforming projects.

Humanity is smeared across a region of the galaxy about 1,200 light years wide. It’s difficult to gather records across such a span, but our best models indicate that there is a general trend towards greater population density towards the center of the galaxy, where stars are closer together, travel times shorter, and resources more abundant. In the opposite direction, towards the rim of the Perseus arm of the Milky way, the rimworlds drift alone and mostly unvisited.

These worlds can’t communicate. Because it turned out that Einstein was right. Despite thousands of years of study, it turned out that nothing – no information, no matter – can travel faster than light.

The lightspeed barrier separates us. Many attempts have been made to create pan-galactic empires and republics. And some have worked, in some places, for a time. In the core worlds, where the stars cluster just a few light years apart, an old, stable culture can create an interstellar empire of a few systems. But there are no great galactic empires stretching across the galaxy, for the same reason that no ancient empire of Earth held more than a sixth of the planet: one cannot govern people who are years distant by all means of travel and communication.

It’s good to see such a simple but well-thought-out background, tailored to a computer game. Created not to make money (which I have no problem with!), not as an integral component to the game (most players will never read it), but simply because It’s The Right Thing To Do.


Now, could I make a serious interstellar empire with a hard no-FTL limit?

Not really, not an empire. At least, not an empire with a centralized taxation system, a basic set of predictable law, and a truly superior military to back it up.

But you COULD make a coherent, recognizable civilization with such a limit. Especially if you were willing to Go Vilani, and have a highly conformist culture with a strong military tradition and a deep loathing of Breaking Consensus and Violating the Traditions.

Would the strength and unity of this civilization be beefed up by selectively Going Solomani, with an aggressively enforced genetic template as well? Hmmm… Maybe…. And yet, a good contrasting argument can be made that you should have a slow-breeding race of people with lifespans spanning hundreds of years – preferably thousands – if you really want a huge STL empire.

  • “Maybe the right sort of religion could help here, in keeping the empire unified and pointed in the right direction.”

Not Christianity: that religion has a long record of hostility to vast, unified empires from at least the time of Moses and the Pharaoah. (Actually, from the Tower of Babel.)

Not Islam: sure, the Caliph/Ayatollah speaks for Allah, but it’s far too divided now to make a unified empire. And technological advancement will only increase the divisions…

More useful would be something more like State Shinto, or the Pharaonic Egyptian state. But both religions are strongly focused on the will of a Man-God, working through a vast government bureaucracy. (As opposed to the God-Man, Jesus Christ, and His gloriously decentralized church…)

Also, communication of the will of the Man-God, tied to the bureaucracy, is bound to degrade over the lightyears. Not good in the long run… and STL empires must operate in the long run.

  • “Could something like the Bible – “the instructions of Christ the King” – be useful in creating a centralized empire?”

Doubtful. The Bible is focused on ethics, while an empire is focused on power. Ethics are indeed fixed: but how much power A has vis-a-vis B is always in flux, and really difficult to fix without just killing B, or at least enslaving him physically and (most critically) mentally.

Thus leaving an ’empire’ of one ruler, and a vast sea of corpses… or slaves. Very impressive in some belief systems, but not in mine.

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About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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