Hans van der Drift
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From reading posts and design changes over the years I am interested in seeing where (or if) there are still connections from the Aliens and their cards.

For Example: The Caylion Plutocracy

Are there any cards or abilities that make these a Plutocracy?

When I play (or as I often do think about) the game I sometimes just describe things as Blue, brown, etc. But is there a correlation between a race and the type of cubes they require and produce? I am sure after so many years of development the game and its concepts are both subtle and diverse. I am trying to get a better understanding of how TauCeti incorporates the ideas into the individual races.

I want it to be more than how some others have described it "A Cube Pusher"

Bonus question: What determines what the difficulty level of a particular race is?
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TauCeti Deichmann
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hvddrift wrote:
Bonus question: What determines what the difficulty level of a particular race is?
I'll answer the bonus question first, since it's much shorter:

The difficulty of a race is based on how frequently new players trip up and crash while playing them. Basically, what's the worst you can do if you make some mistakes?

Note that it has nothing to do with how strong the species is overall, especially not at high-skill play.



hvddrift wrote:
From reading posts and design changes over the years I am interested in seeing where (or if) there are still connections from the Aliens and their cards.

For Example: The Caylion Plutocracy

Are there any cards or abilities that make these a Plutocracy?

When I play (or as I often do think about) the game I sometimes just describe things as Blue, brown, etc. But is there a correlation between a race and the type of cubes they require and produce? I am sure after so many years of development the game and its concepts are both subtle and diverse. I am trying to get a better understanding of how TauCeti incorporates the ideas into the individual races.

I want it to be more than how some others have described it "A Cube Pusher"
Setting:

Alright, like I've mentioned elsewhere, I have an RPG in development in this setting. So, suffice it to say, it's a little overly detailed. My philosophy was to make Sidereal the tip of the iceberg: enough of the setting to see what's going on, without bogging people down in the details.

Admittedly, I was way too subtle, and I chose to hold to balance over theme wherever it mattered.

Anyway, let's break down the Caylion, since you asked about them.

So... “plutocracy”. The short of it is no, this doesn't come into play. The Caylion have a variety of direct-plutocracy (or, as I call it, “government by Kickstarter”), which would define their decision making as a species. But, in the game, their player makes their choices instead.


So, Caylion are “trees” in that they're rooted to the ground and photosynthetic. This has a number of consequences:
1Thinking is energy intensive and photosynthesis is an inefficient means to gather energy. The Caylion homeworld orbits a blue-white star that puts out huge amounts of energy, mostly in UV. This is why the background art of the Caylion has a bright blue sky, and why they're red (to capture more light in the high end of the spectrum).
2Caylion can't move, so their infrastructure does instead -- hence the hovering drones and factory in the background of their picture (Caylion perfected antigravity).
3Being unable to run, Caylion don't have a fight or flight response, but instead a fight or curl-up-into-a-ball-and-lose-a-few-limbs response. Natural disasters are terrifying beyond human experience. Their society values safety over all else.
4Caylion think in terms of circles: that which is within reach, and that which is not.

The Caylion have a mature post-shortage society, but are trying to break that and introduce shortages so they can compete with the aliens. Their economy needs nearly nothing: the challenge for the player is in pushing them out of their comfortable rut and looking for trade opportunities despite apparently not needing to.

The big exception is ships: since they can't move large numbers of adults off planet (without driving them all insane), the Caylion resort to fast-industrializing worlds and dropping seeds all over them. To do that, they'll need the help of the other species to find suitable planets and transport their industry (i.e. they need to buy ships). Being sessile, the Caylion are the least able to explore the galaxy or their neighbors -- thus their bid tiebreaker is the lowest, at 1.

Caylion ships have a particular style. Instead of a drive plume, they have blue circles of anti-gravity. There's two small drones docked towards the front. The large blue sphere near the rear is the pod holding the single Caylion crew in a gravity controlled environment.

The background art of the cards has sample text on them. Caylion text is swirly and curved, and arranged in a stair-step hexagonal pattern. The glyphs mimic their sign language (Caylion are deaf and do not vocalize).

Much of the flavor of the Caylion is in the background art of each card. So, let's go over the cards:

Planetary Ecological Dominance
In their quest for perfect safety, the Caylion have taken control over every aspect of their homeworld's ecology. The background art reflects this (showing drones managing the ocean, hydrocycle, and mining a mountain, as well as a forest of Caylion).
The card produces mostly food (it's an ecology), and is upgraded with Genetic Engineering (ditto).
The back is Systemwide Gravitic Dominance and shows the end-state of Caylion antigravity: where their people are no longer confined to the ground, but instead live on floating islands.

Oceanic Processing
The oceans are the largest parts of the Caylion homeworld that isn't covered in Caylion. The front depicts the drones tending their oceans, and the back (Planet-Wide Industrial Mariculture) expands that to mining the ocean's trenches. Consumes food (to feed the fish) and produces biotech and industry.

Distributed Telenet
The Caylion internet (telenet) is massive beyond the scope of what humanity has achieved. Caylion spend most of their time online, either talking with friends or operating drones. Distributed Telenet converts information (the medium of the telenet) into culture and industry. On the right, a Caylion surrounded by holoprojectors talks online, and going left (partially obscured behind the game graphics) is the linked telenet going around their world.
With the advent of the Ubiquitous Cultural Repository, the Caylion can develop ansibles (FTL communication), allowing their society to stay unified and whole even as they colonize new worlds (Ansible Driven Intersystem Society - card back).

Lunar Mining Consortium
Caylius has three small asteroid moons, one of which is natural. They're being strip-mined, and a fourth is planned to be moved into place. The background art (right) depicts the process of adding the fourth moon. Mining these moons is coordinated by a group of “corporations” -- the Lunar Mining Consortium. This primarily produces ships, as orbit-capable craft are needed for these operations.
With the invention of Organic Construction, the Caylion can make self-replicating (auxonic) drones that can strip-mine the remainder of their star system.

All of the Caylion starting cards can also be upgraded by industrializing a world and heavily settling it -- making a jewel among the stars. This requires a jungle world (suitable for Caylion to live on) and costs information (to extend their telenet to the system) or biotech (to industrialize the planet's ecology, making it suitable for more Caylion to live there). As a byproduct, they temporarily produce additional electrical energy during the startup process. (They also score a victory point -- cultural influence, for making such an important world). If their cards are upgraded in this way, the back's meanings change. For example, Auxonic Outersystem Harvesting now involves strip mining another star system, not their own.


Tech Cards: Production:
Ubiquitous Cultural Repository and Quantum Computers both produce green as part of their output (white is more common). The Caylion use drones for farming their oceans, and would use both of these technologies to control those drones.

Cross Species Ethical Equality usually produces donation culture, but for the Caylion they produce industry (wealth) instead. This is their plutocracy in action: sharing what they think the aliens most want.

Tech Cards: Background Art:
Most tech cards have common background art, but some differ by species. The background art for tech cards is the same on the front and back, so it's usually easier to read on the back.

Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
Depicts the species' homeworld, showing lines of interconnecting servers for their version of the internet. The Caylion are relatively well connected compared to most of the other species.

Genetic Engineering
Depicts a Caylion, their chromosomes (top), and DNA equivalent (right).

Clinical Immortality
Depicts Caylion DNA on the left, with protected telomeres. On the right is their cells dividing (Caylion nuclei undergo division first, then the rest of the cell follows).

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Left-to-right: nervous system, digestive system, respitory system. Most versions of this card have three copies of the species with the relevant organs highlighted. Being plants, the Caylion don't have organs for most of these tasks. The left is the striated neuron-rings that compose the Caylion distributed minds. In the middle, a root cluster. On the right, a depiction of cellular respiration through their skin.

Social Exodus
Picture of Caylius (left) and a Caylion seedship (right). The circle near the left side of the seedship is the crew compartment for a single Caylion.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
As with all copies of this card, depicts various cultural artifacts and activities. The lower left is an oval holoprojector screen showing a Caylion and some stars (news broadcast?). The top is a video game based on defending yourself (it's a nod to a particular boss battle in Undertale).

Edit: sessile, not sedentary.
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Eric
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Tau, if you happen to have a ridiculous amount of time on your hands and Ann interest in doing so, it would be pretty amazing to see a backgrounder like this for all of the factions...
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Keith Higdon
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Wow... <clap clap clap>

Unbelievable stuff frankly. I marvel more and more at how much effort you put into this. I can't wait to read more.
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Krista Donnelly
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If you ever get to publishing the RPG, be sure to drop a note here. That's something I would definitely buy.
 
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Eric
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Daravon wrote:
Tau, if you happen to have a ridiculous amount of time on your hands and an interest in doing so, it would be pretty amazing to see a backgrounder like this for all of the factions...
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TauCeti Deichmann
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When doing the Caylion, I forgot one card, which is going to become important for the Eni Et:

Cross Species Ethical Equality
Depicts the things the Caylion feel are good (top of card) and bad (bottom of card). The bottom is dominated by symbols for Caylion and their entire world defending themselves against threats (fixated on safety). The top of the card shows a highly interconnected graph of Caylion, representing a well-connected society.
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TauCeti Deichmann
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Well, this is rather more interest than I was expecting. I'll do this alphabetically so I don't forget anyone, except that I'm going to leave the Faderan for last as they'll take twice as long as anyone else.

Eni Et

My favorite stone age whale-squid sociologists.

For those interested in the evolutionary history of these species, the Eni Et evolved from a six-armed squid thing, each arm branching into three “fingers” with webbing in between. Their fluke is a modified, oversized arm, leaving them with five arms on their underside. That big thing on their top and wrapping around the front-end is a cartilaginous ramming prow -- Eni Et are obligate carnivores.

Adult Eni Et are about 11 meters long (the size of a Sperm Whale).

To understand the Eni Et, you first need to understand their homeworld, Enis. It's a super-earth, completely covered in ocean. The ocean is deep enough that exotic high-pressure ices form in the depths, which means that there's poor contact between the lithosphere and the hydrosphere. This results in a chain of consequences:
1With no runoff from continents, an insane amount of water, and limited contact with the lithosphere, Enis has a freshwater ocean. This means relatively little nutrients to support life. From an ecological perspective, Enis is more a desert than arid Stjiror.
2Dirt and rocks are rare. This limits Eni Et materials sciences to leather, woven plant fibers, and especially bones. Metal is unheard of. Fire impossible.
3That leaves the Eni Et trapped in the stone age, with no path to advanced technology. They achieved domestication of many species of large fauna some eighty thousand years ago (to give a sense of scale, humanity did the same only ten thousand years ago).
4Materials sciences aren't the only way for a society to advance. Eni Et are intrinsically a divisive people -- tending towards varied fanaticism. With nearly a hundred thousand years of living together, they've perfected the sciences of sociology and psychology. The Eni Et aren't an intrinsically peaceful species, but with so few resources inter-tribal warfare has costs lasting for generations. As such, they find non-violent means to resolve their conflicts, out of a desperate need to protect what little they have.

The second thing you'll notice when playing the Eni Et (after the interest converters) is that they start with extremely few resources. Moreover, their base economy is one of the worst to turn on without help (after the Zeth, who don't really have an economy). This represents their... extreme lack of resources.

I'll bring up ships and text here, quickly. Eni Et ships are winged, rocket propelled boats, so they can land in alien oceans. They're large and bulbous, and barely fit one cramped Eni Et. These ships are manufactured by an orbital assembler gifted by the Faderan. Unfortunately, that assembler produces ships unpainted, leaving it to the Eni Et to fix this lack with organic patterns.

Eni Et writing is long and flowing, easy to carve into bone, looks similar to waves, and mimics their tonal vocalization. As with every species, you can find it all over their cards.

Deep Hunting
The starting point of the Eni Et economy, Deep Hunting represents diving deep into the oceans and catching what you can. It produces biotech (from the creatures of the deep). With the advent of genetic engineering, the Eni Et can upgrade to Pelagic Bounty, as they build an ecology for their homeworld. Both sides of the card depict the flora and fauna of the deep.

Every species has a starting card that produces resources with no input. It always produces one ship (necessary to ensure that the player always has at least one ship for bidding). For almost all species, it also produces 3 small worth of goods. The Eni Et only get half that, due to their extremely poor homeworld. (The Caylion get 4 small to reflect their extreme wealth and dominance over their homeworld).


Bone Carving
Insofar as the Eni Et have industry, this is it. They take the produce of Deep Hunting (represented with biotech) and convert it into culture (bone art), industry (bone tools), and food (everything other than the bones). The background art depicts various carved bones, with writing spiraling around them. With the advent of nanotechnology, the carvers transition to Nanocraft, where they use the new nanotechnology to “hand”-craft things their ancestors could never have imagined. The back of the card depicts the result of this, with the “tusk” on the left being created whole cloth at a molecular level.

Choral Song
They are whales, after all. Eni Et “singing” can extend incredible distances, linking disparate societies together. Choral Song unsurprisingly runs on culture, although I'll admit that it mostly produces what the game needs for the Eni Et to be playable, as opposed to anything thematic. Background art is Eni Et singing, naturally.

With the invention of Clinical Immortality, the Eni Et can begin their Eternal Music -- creating a planet spanning song that never truly dies.

Universal Applied Metaethics
I did mention that the Eni Et were exceptional sociologists? This card represents their interaction with aliens, as they learn their ethical and moral frameworks and build new, universal frameworks to reconcile them all. Rules-wise, it converts ultratech (largely supplied by aliens) into victory points (social influence, naturally), and culture that must be spread among the aliens.

The background art here is more complex, so this will take a little while to unpack. First things first, these are aliens, so my iconography can't have things like smiley faces (Eni Et have no “face”), or thumbs-up signs (similarly, no thumbs) -- my apologies for the resulting obliqueness. The art can be best seen on the back of the card.

On the left is an up-arrow, down-arrow, intended to split the rest of the art into “good” (up) and “bad” (down). The remaining icons come from various species' copies of Cross Species Ethical Equality, depicting the sorts of things they think of as good or bad.

Bottom left is an “explosion” mark, i.e. threat or danger, most feared by the Caylion. Top left is a circle surrounded by walls, indicating protection, again a Caylion concept.

Next on the bottom is a Zeth tentacle holding a dagger, indicating violence or duplicitousness. At the top is a Zeth tentacle holding a gift (circle), showing kindness. This isn't quite right, since the Zeth don't have a concept of good or evil, and indeed treat these concepts as largely equivalent (more on that when I get to the Zeth).

Next on the bottom is a bunch of scratches. You'd need to track down the Faderan copy of Cross Species Ethical Equality to get a context for that. It might be translated as “sins of the past”. The column at the top right is the matching Faderan “good” concept - civilization standing.

The wrench at the bottom and the note at the top are Im'dril concepts. The wrench represents their technical society (specifically the Im'dril Engineers), and thus their lower-class. The note represents culture and art, which they hold in high esteem.

The two Eni Et around a circle represent working together.

Interest Converters
Taken as a whole, the Interest Converters represent the extreme skill the Eni Et have picked up in getting the most out of the least goods. In-setting, they aren't so much creating interest, as representing Eni Et managing huge sections of a society to get the most out of them, and above all minimize waste. Think of the extra resources not as “more stuff” but as “better used stuff”.

Mutual Understanding
The art here is unfortunately mostly covered by the game mechanics, but it's supposed to be showing the front (ramming prow side) of an Eni Et between an Im'dril and a Caylion. This is the Eni Et helping aliens understand one another.

Universal Translator and Quantum Computers can both be used to upgrade this, for obvious reasons.

Volunteer Medical Movement
Depicts bacteria and viruses, as you might expect.

Unsurprisingly upgraded via Interspecies Medical Exchange or Organic Construction.

Cultural Charity
Depicts various forms of art from different species. Upper left is a dancing Im'dril, upper right a singing Word (of the Yengii), lower left a set of drums from the Faderan, middle-right a Zeth flute, and lower-right a musical saw from the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl. Because Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl.

It makes sense that this is upgraded with Cross Species Ethical Equality. Antimatter Power is a second way to upgrade it for balance reasons (I needed every era I and II technology to upgrade something of the Eni Et).

Intercultural Archive
On the left is a linked network of five worlds. Three are visible, going counter-clockwise from the top: Conclave (Faderan), Enis (Eni Et), and Caylius (Caylion). The right is a wall of scrolls, representing an archive as the Eni Et would think of it.

Upgraded with Ubiquitous Cultural Repository (which is much the same concept) or Universal Translator (which would obviously help with such an archive).

Elder's Wisdom
Shows a council of Eni Et elders along the top, and lots and lots of “wisdom” (text) across the rest of the card.

Upgrades into Immortal's Wisdom with Clinical Immortality, or Quantum Computers (in which case the Immortals in question are digital).

Xenotech Pool
The top depicts various Eni Et bringing strange artifacts together. The two on the right are Caylion (computer and drone, respectively), while two on the left are Faderan (stylus from the Faderan picture, and an automated support network robot).

Hyperspace Mining and Singularity Control both sounds “ultratech” enough to upgrade this.

Tech Cards: Background Art:
And now for the common cards, with their unique art:

Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
Like every version of this card, depicts the species' homeworld (in this case, Enis). Since there's no continents to show, I use white blobby areas to indicate deep trenches, and faint lines to indicate raised topology. The depicted “internet” is extremely sparse -- the Eni Et don't have the infrastructure to support anything more.

Genetic Engineering
Eni Et at the bottom, their triple-helix DNA-equivalent on the left, and their chromosomes on the top.

Clinical Immortality
Eni Et “DNA” with protected telomeres on the left, and cell division on the right. Here, the nucleus dissolves, separating out the DNA which is pulled apart as the cell divides. This is similar to terrestrial cell division, except that the nucleus begins reforming around each DNA set before cell division is complete.

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Top-left is Eni Et brain (near the center-rear of their body).
Top right is their gills (similar to mollusk gills).
Bottom-left is their digestive tract: relatively simple and short (they're obligate carnivores), and with both the mouth and anus pointing backwards (they have a beak like a squid).
Not depicted is their melon (sonar organ) which takes up most of the space in their top and front, and is why none of the organs shown reach into that area.

Cross Species Ethical Equality
The bottom-left shows a collection of things. Next in sequence is two Eni Et each taking something, so there is less. Finally, there are two Eni Et caretaking the things, so now there is more of them. (Think of this as a graphical representation of what the interest converters do). The top is a group of Eni Et with very different ideas, merging and blending those ideas for the greater good. (This is how their reconcile their varied fanaticism).

Social Exodus
Enis at the lower left, and a huge lake-ship capable of carrying many Eni Et at once on the lower-right.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
Top left is one of the bones from Bone Carving. Bottom is a depiction of sonographics: “holographics” via faked sonar pulses. Basically, singing an image. The Eni Et at the left is “singing”, creating the dotted picture of someone which the Eni Et at the right hears and “sees”. Naturally, sonographics can be used to represent anything three dimensional (including any internal composition); I used a picture of an Eni Et because it is recognizable.
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Peter S.
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Quick, extremely pedantic note: "sedentary" might also be accurate, but I think the word you're actually intending is "sessile", meaning that they are fixed in place (not merely lazy).

Sorry for being that guy!
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TauCeti, I had a guess that the game had so much more depth to it that I was seeing. I truly appreciate both the work you put into this wonderful game and the stories you are sharing. Just amazing stuff.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.
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TauCeti Deichmann
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ErsatzDragon wrote:
Quick, extremely pedantic note: "sedentary" might also be accurate, but I think the word you're actually intending is "sessile", meaning that they are fixed in place (not merely lazy).

Sorry for being that guy!
Ack, good catch! I keep forgetting that they aren't synonyms.




hvddrift wrote:
TauCeti, I had a guess that the game had so much more depth to it that I was seeing. I truly appreciate both the work you put into this wonderful game and the stories you are sharing. Just amazing stuff.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.
I'm very much enjoying showing my work.

I think of world-building as a deeply personal process, like dreams or RPGs. Important to the creator, but lacking those connections for everyone else. Thus, the world is less important that what one does with it. Still, I was a bit disappointed* when many reviewers saw no theme. That said, the goal was to make a good game: so long as people enjoy playing it, it's doing what I want.

Anyway, showcasing the setting like this is like eating rich chocolate cake for dinner every day, without the indigestion.

*To be clear, I was disappointed in myself for not showing the theme more clearly, certainly not in the reviewers for being honest about what they saw in the game.
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TauCeti Deichmann
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Im'dril Nomads

The Im'dril aren't the sort of species with an evolutionary history. Let's do the bullet list thing:
1Im'dril are perfectly microgravity adapted and resistant to the rigors of space, including radiation and vacuum. Stick them on the surface of a planet and you get a colorful but miserable floppy worm-thing. Immunity to radiation and cancer means immunity to mutation, so Im'dril can't evolve.
2Im'dril are divided into five “lineages”, basically sci-fi style biological castes. Lineages are inherited (hence the name). Instead of physical differences, each lineage has a different set of technical skills that they know intuitively -- roughly equivalent to a doctorate in the topic, plus a dozen years of experience, all known at birth. The five lineages are the miners, prospectors, diplomats, engineers, and pilots. There aren't enough of the first two so the high demand makes them the default upper class. There's too many engineers and pilots, so those are the lower class.
3Since technical skills are “intuitively obvious”, they also aren't valued by Im'dril society. Instead, they most value art, music, dancing, and other works of culture. The lower classes (engineers and pilots) have to find work somewhere, so they often go into the arts. The result is a culture that cares a great deal about art, but not the people who create it.
4Im'dril organize into clans (the bigger of which own their own ships), and those in turn organize into Fleets. Each fleet is cored on a multi-kilometer long City Ship capable of taking everyone into FTL at once. Fleets only rarely meet, and when they do it's a rather large event, with potentially messy consequences.


Oh, and it might be obvious from the art, but Im'dril have trilateral symmetry. That carries over to their ships, since it feels more “natural” to them. You might notice that the drive plume on their scout ships (ship tokens) is rather subdued: this is because they keep their ships under low acceleration to avoid stressing the crew (who hate gravity).

Im'dril text is a vertical center line with marks on either side and crossing it.

Fleets
The costs associated with playing the fleet cards aren't the cost to build those fleets (that would be impossibly expensive), but instead the costs in finding them and convincing them to join the Confluence. When Im'dril fleets meet there's a great deal of partying among most people, but the folk in charge are worried: clans have a tendancy to switch fleets if they think they'd do better elsewhere, and an already struggling fleet can be forced to disband. As such, most fleets are hesitant to join the Confluence.

The fleet pictures come from a wargame I'm working on in the same setting (in the dark mirror universe where the Faderan never started the Confluence and the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl and Kjasjavikalimm went to war). For the curious, here's the names of the fleets, organized by the cost to put them into play:
Starts in play -- Void Deliverance
3 industry, 1 info -- Nebular Jig
1 info, 1 ultratech -- Golden Wake
3 info -- Rippling Dream
3 industry, 2 info -- Steel Flower
3 industry, 1 ultratech -- Violet Prominence
1 info, 2 ultratech -- Iridium Grace

Which brings up those resources. You'll note when playing the Im'dril that your demands for information, industry, and ultratech are insatiable. Industry is used to expand their infrastructure, information to search the galaxy, and faderan relics (ultratech) make a surprisingly large chunk of their economy.

Asteroid Mining
Depicts a mining ship in the upper-right, grinding into an asteroid in the upper-left. The phase diagram for steel is at the bottom (temperature going up, carbon content going right). Naturally, mining asteroids grants industry and ships.

Galactic Exploration
Spend information (about the galaxy) to explore. Get a bunch of things in return, but especially ultratech (in the form of Faderan relics). The background art is scout ships from various fleets (top left and right, and bottom right). The bottom-left shows a map of the galaxy and the branching scouting patterns of the various fleets (represented by circles on the map: the three circles together are the Confluence).

Microgravity Assembly
Turn industry into everything else, especially ships. The background is construction ships from various fleets.

Faderan Relic Caches
Arguably the most powerful starting card: turns ultratech (Faderan relics) into way too much of everything. The Im'dril are old, and they've seen the galaxy. What the Faderan treat rare archeological expeditions, the Im'dril see as hidden bounties. The Im'dril know where the best Faderan artifacts are better than the Faderan.

Technology Cards
Before I start up on these, I'm going to comment on what is probably the most subtle bit of theme in the game. So, the Im'dril don't interact with new technologies normally. The problem is, their lineage instincts only cover the technology they start with. Everything new is unintuitive -- it might as well be magic. So the advances of the Confluence actually hurt the Im'dril as they can't keep up.

This is reflected in how technology interacts with them. Most obviously, there's the fleet upkeep requirement on every card, which eats into the value of those new cards. More subtly, their strong starting economy means that the additional economy they get from inventions has much less impact on them. Even more subtly, the technologies are arrayed against them. Look at the era I technologies: the only one that increases the production of ultratech (despirately needed) consumed industry (thus making it harder to run the converter with the highest input-to-output ratio). Atomic Transmutation, which frequently produces information, consumes ultratech. The era I cards that consume resources the Im'dril produce all generate victory points, and thus don't feed back into their economy (except Genetic Engineering, which is actually good for them). The best card to get out is the era II Hyperspace Mining, which produces ultratech for the price of electrical power. Awkwardly for the Im'dril, it also upgrades two different starting cards, giving them a rough choice between keeping it or consolidating their economy.

Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
Since the Im'dril don't have a homeworld, this shows several ships from the Void Deliverance linked with “internet connection” lines.

Clinical Immortality
Right side is Im'dril cell division. The nucleus is bound to the inner cell wall, and the cells have two nested cell walls to better protect them from radiation. The nucleus divides (hidden by the game graphics, sadly) during the middle of the process, in a very orderly way.

To the left is Im'dril DNA-equivalent. Notably, it has a reinforced “backbone” to make it more robust against radiation. Since Im'dril DNA doesn't fray, they don't have telomeres. Instead, a section of the DNA is being pulled out and replaced.

Genetic Engineering
Im'dril picture at the bottom, and their reinforced DNA at the right. At the top is their chromosomes. Notably, they're triploid, which acts as further defense against mutation (with three copies of each gene), plus slows evolution. As a consequence, Im'dril have three sexes.

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Top-left is the Im'dril nervous system: three spinal chords and a three-part brain up front. Top-right is the three seperate lungs and sinuses. These are disconnected so damage to one has minimal impact on the others (Im'dril can't choke). Bottom is the Im'dril digestive tract, with stomach and extensive intestines.

Cross Species Ethical Equality
Here, the Im'dril social structure is explained. On the left is pictures expressing the five clans. Top left is the miners, top right the prospectors. Middle row is the diplomats. Bottom left the engineers, bottom right the pilots.

On the right of the card is a heirarchy of values (of skill): artistic skill at the top (represented by the note) and technical skill at the bottom (represented by the wrench). The Im'dril in the middle is looking up, towards the art and away from the technical, to drive the point home.

Organic Construction
For most species, this shows an above ground or subterranean organic building. For the Im'dril, it shows an organic starship.

Social Exodus
Lacking a homeworld, the lower-left is dominated by the city ship of the Void Deliverance. The top left is a scout ship. The center and right is a large map of the galaxy, highlighting the location of various fleets.

For every other species, the back of this card is “Galactic Colonization”. For the Im'dril, it's named “Galactic Reunion”. The Im'dril never colonize, but bringing all of the fleets together is more meaningful anyway.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
Top left is a few notes to indicate music. Bottom left is a nomad dancing with holoprojectors. Bottom right is a paintbrush, painting.

Edit: engineers and pilots are the lower class, certainly not miners.
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TauCeti Deichmann
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The problem with all this detail is that I'm always forgetting something.

Species Symbols
Each species has a unique symbol, frequently with some meaning behind them. You can find them in the background of every card, best seen on the back of the Phase Order / Donation Goods card, or the side of the box (which is missing the Zeth... but they're probably the only species that would be honored to have been left out).

Caylion Symbol
The four-part spiral thing, a stylized glyph representing the Caylion. Also printed on the front of many of their drones (see the species picture on their rules sheet).

Eni Et Symbol
Being the Eni Et, this is the symbol with the most symbology. Being as socially divided as they are, it has two opposite and complementary meanings.

The swooping lines are the tentacle-arms of the Eni Et (that's why there's five of them). They weave together around the outside to represent their strength and potential when they cooperate and support each other.

Towards the center, the arms grow up from the glowing depths of their oceans, into the joint society surrounding them.

OR

Towards the center, the arms reach from their society upwards, towards the glow of daylight and the surface, and from there to the stars.

Im'dril
Their symbol has three-way radial symmetry. That's it, nothing deeper here.
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Peter S.
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Quick note (loving these by the way):

"The five lineages are the miners, prospectors, diplomats, engineers, and pilots. There aren't enough of the first two so the high demand makes them the default upper class."

"There's too many engineers and miners, so those are the lower class."

"The lower classes (engineers and pilots)[...]"

Needs a fix. I'm guessing just a case of fast typing.
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Kjasjavikalimm
Three notes on pronunciation:

First, I pronounce it with English style “j”s, so “dj” or “zh”, not Nordic “j”s (what I'd transliterate as “y”). I certainly am not going to stop you from pronouncing it nordic-style, but be aware that that's easy mode.

Second, the “recommended short name” under their picture, “Kjas”: the “k” is an abbreviated glottal stop. So, it's pronounced like “djaz” or “zhaz”, except with a nearly-silent “k” up front.

Third, feel free to just call them “lizards” or “those 'K' people”.


Kjasjavikalimm are about two things: their nations, and their pheremones. Bulleted list time!
1They use pheremones to regulate group emotions. They're certainly not a hive-mind, but they tend to all feel the same emotion when in a group. Since they invented perfume (in the neolithic -- indeed this is the invention that started their neolithic), they have “bottled emotions”. Individually they can be as emotional as anyone, but as a whole they tend to be the most ruthlessly pragmatic species.
2To the Kjasjavikalimm, “loyalty” to family is an emotion, and thus a scent. Back in their neolithic, they figured out how to replicate this artificially, and the first nations were born. Kjasjavikalimm are loyal to everyone in their nation in exactly the same way that you may be loyal to your blood relatives.
3Stjiror, their homeworld, is extremely dry. As such, ancient Kjasjavikalimm had two “modes”: nomadic, where they followed the rain; and burrowing, where they waited out the worst dryspells. Unsurprisingly, these are also regulated with pheremones. Kjasjavikalimm who live in their underground cities are in “burrowing” mode, while those who tend the surface farms stay in “nomadic” mode.
4With underground cities, a single atomic strike can only do so much damage. While Kjasjavikalimm don't tolerate unlimited nuclear warfare, they do engage in what might best be described as “modern atomic siege warfare”. Also, they don't distinguish between military and civilian targets. Suffice it to say, Kjasjavikalimm warfare is more horrifying than most human wars, and they are very good at it.
5As much as they love their nations, those nations need ways to interact other than shooting. And that means having multi-national organizations. These are named “Understandings” (because they're mutual understandings between two nations) and act like something between treaties and corporations. They have a great deal of leeway and power, but any nation under them can leave without notice.
6The two most important Understandings are Kelestboijram (Starstrider), which organizes the use of many of the nation's hyperdrive jumpcores, and Varalak (the Directorate), which coordinates most of the nations' response to the aliens in an attempt to dominate, or if feasible destroy, the Confluence. That's what you're playing.

I should point out that the Kjasjavikalimm don't think of themselves as militant. They just see everyone else as near-pacifists and incompetent at warfare. They also, importantly, don't revel in warfare or violence. It's something they happen to be good at, not something that they'd see as a defining trait for themselves.

Picture
The Kjasjavikalimm picture shows two Kjas, as they're always working together. They're clearly underground, working on designs for a new expansion to their city (in this case, a sports arena). There's a weapon at the left, at hand but unused. (The weapon is extremely pragmatic and simple: Kjasjavikalimm don't glorify war, so their weapons are just simple killing machines. The sight is rather far forward, to match their physiology).

Symbol
The symbol in the background of every card is actually for the Directorate (there's no symbol for the Kjasjavikalimm as a whole). The spiky bits around the side are intended to evoke “control” or “empire”. The circle at the top is a stylized depiction of Stjiror. The star at the bottom represents space, the galaxy, and the aliens. Putting the star below their homeworld is a very intentional statement.

Ships
Kjasjavikalimm ship aesthetic is extremely functional. The rear is a liquid-core nuclear engine. In front of that are the orange propellant tanks (the orange is just insulating foam -- Kjas ships aren't painted as that would waste cost and weight). In front of that is a small fusion reactor, then the crew comparements. The “top” is an antenna, while the front is a railgun. Because the Kjasjavikalimm are the sort of people who would put a ship-length railgun on an exploration ship, just in case.

Language
Kjasjavikalimm language is logographic, like Chinese. That said, it's intended to be written quickly by machine or hand, and lacks any of the beauty of human logographic languages.

On to their starting cards and territory tiles:
Underground Cities
Depicts an underground city along the bottom of the card. The industrial production is obvious. Producing three ships is more about game balance -- I need the Kjasjavikalimm to have a stable, consistent source of ships.

Organic Construction or Antimatter Power is sufficient to bring their knowledge of mining offworld, upgrading this to Asteroid Mine Network. That card depicts an underground city and deep mine network in an asteroid.

Perfume Pheremone Loyalty
As mentioned, loyalty is an emotion, which is a pheremone, which can be simulated via perfume. This represents Kjasjavikalimm nationalism, and the core of their economy. It turns industry into pretty much everything. The top-right of the card depicts the Kjasjavikalimm nasal passage and its connection to their brain and central nervous system. I needed an “emotion chemical” for the diagram in the bottom-left, so I used oxytocin -- it seemed fitting with all it does for us.

Using Genetic Engineering or Nanotechnology to improve their means of designing pheremones just makes sense. The reverse side, Multiconformal Pheremonics, is a nod to modern medical technology where multiconformal chemicals are being designed that can change shape (and thus behavior) with varied stimulus, allowing precisely targeted effects, among other things. You can image how useful this would be to the Kjasjavikalimm.

Starstrider Jumpcores
Starstrider is the other major Kjasjavikalimm Understanding. Hyperspace Jumpcores are huge ships that can carry a hundred smaller vessels into FTL. The various nations have built several such jumpcores; Starstrider seeks to coordinate them to create a monopoly over bulk transportation in the Confluence. The input of biotech is honestly entirely for balance reasons. The output of ships makes rather more sense.

Hyperspace Mining or Singularity Control allows Starstrider to vastly improve their hyperdrives, achieving the monopoly over large scale travel that they desire. The reverse side produces a victory point, as the Kjasjavikalimm start using their control over movement to directly influence the Confluence.

The card art shows what's going on a bit better. Upper-right is a picture of a jumpcore. The ring for building the Alcubierre bubble is visible around the middle. The center is dominated by a huge fusion reactor to power it, and behind that is the usual propellant tanks and engine that you'd expect of a Kjasjavikalimm ship. Upper-left is a picture of the huge Alcubierre bubble traveling faster than light, with a fleet of ships in it, and the jumpcore in the center. Lower-left is map of paths the jumpcores take between the various homeworlds within the Elysian Quadrant. The reverse side shows the larger, more complete network that expands to include the burgeoning colonies.

Territory Tiles
The territory tiles represent expansion of the Kjasjavikalimm across the galaxy, but more importantly their ability to organize that territory into useful economic and political blocks. They cost electrical power to set up, representing the costs of powering the massive transportation networks needed to hold such vast swaths of the galaxy together. The resource production and consumption of each tile is driven much more by balance than thematics.

Hadsja is the largest Kjasjavikalimm nation, and the one with the most influence over the Directorate. As such, it's intended to be a likely first choice to expand (giving the strongest economic returns).

Vangleg was once a great power on Stjiror, but no longer. They hate the Hadsja, but are in the uneasy alliance of the Directorate. Their expansion is less directed into creating a powerful empire, and more into subtler cultural influence.

The Balkanized States are the many smaller nations under the Directorate. They're far from unified (and thus give more, smaller converters than the other tiles), and more willing to work with the aliens (giving donation resources to trade to them). They're also much cheaper to set up, as the Balkanized States' ambitions are much smaller than those of the great nations.

The background of these tiles maps the expansion of the territories. If you find Stjiror (the star with the circle around it), you can line these maps up and see where the territories adjoin each other.

Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
The Kjasjavikalimm version of the “internet” consists of multiple different networks with no common connectivity. Each network centered on a single nation. You can see the over-large nation of Hadsja in the south-west. Harder to see is the lack of water: Stjiror has a handful of large lakes and no oceans.

Clinical Immortality
DNA-equivalent on the left, with reinforced telomeres, as usual. On the right is Kjas cell division. They have a tiny nucleus (more like mitochondria) that divides early, but the bulk of their DNA is free-floating within their cells.

Genetic Engineering
Lower-left is a Kjasjavikalimm, right is their DNA, and top is their chromosomes. Each chromosome has two centromeres.

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Lower left is the Kjasjavikalimm central nervous system, with dendrite clusters near each limb pair plus a central brain. Lower right is their respiratory system, complete with large nasal cavity and two pairs of lungs. Top is their digestive tract with two stomachs but a primitive intestine.

Cross Species Ethical Equality
Bottom left is a group of Kjasjavikalimm looking up at a flag -- symbolizing a nation. In short, nationalism. Bottom-right is the flag over three stars, representing a single nation that controls several star systems. The top is a handshake between two flags, representing an Understanding.

Social Exodus
A large, blocky colony ship on the right (basically a huge building with an engine on the back), and Stjiror on the left. Unlike other homeworld, I draw the national borders on Stjiror. This is half because of their cultural importance, and half because Stjiror is relatively boring to look at, with so little water.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
Top-left is a depiction of a sporting event (specifically, the tactics at play in such an event). Notably, Kjasjavikalimm have two goalies. This, plus the idea of representing their culture with sports, is to demonstrate how well they work together as a team. Bottom is an opera, with scents (pheremones) as part of the performance.
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TauCeti Deichmann
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ErsatzDragon wrote:
Quick note (loving these by the way):

"The five lineages are the miners, prospectors, diplomats, engineers, and pilots. There aren't enough of the first two so the high demand makes them the default upper class."

"There's too many engineers and miners, so those are the lower class."

"The lower classes (engineers and pilots)[...]"

Needs a fix. I'm guessing just a case of fast typing.
It took me three reads to see it. There's too many engineers and pilots.

Thanks!
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Jacob Davenport
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This is all cool. It feels like it should be organized into a wiki, no?
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Massimiliano della Rovere
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All this information should have been printed either on the manual or on the back of the race sheets.
 
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Jacob Davenport
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Nah, it's much more than players need to get started. But I love the detail about each graphic, which Tau clearly put a lot of time and thought into.
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Tom Chick
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Whoa. Absolutely epic. These are marvelous, TauCeti.

-Tom
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TauCeti Deichmann
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Continental Drift wrote:
This is all cool. It feels like it should be organized into a wiki, no?

Maybe? I'm not sure where wikis come from. Something about a stork?
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Mark Bigney
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When a mommy wiki and a daddy wiki love each other very much, they have a special hug called a confluence.
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Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl
Compared to the last one, pronouncing these guys is easy: “Kit-Zer-Kit-Rittle”.

But feel free to call them “bugs” or “Those ‘K’ People”.

For their own part, they pronounce it as a series of clicks and buzzing sounds. Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl don't breath through their head. Their “vocalization” is done by rubbing or striking various parts of their body together.

Nz'Dlr'Nx is a icy planet interspersed with volcanoes and hurricanes, so not exactly hospitable. The Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl mostly just avoid all that by flying away, which means that their infrastructure is temporary at best. They tend to solve problems in the least logical way imaginable, and often at extremely high speed. Most of their technological solutions look “impossible” to anyone who isn't a Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl.
1Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl treat responsibility as a property of locality, not causality. Which is to say, if you do something that breaks everything in three years, it's the people who are nearby when things break who are morally obligated to fix it -- that's not your responsibility. So, Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl are great people to have around when you need a hero, but they'll tend to cause situations that require more heroes. Their history is one of cascading consequences, and their civilization is riding the tidal wave of disaster.
2Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl spend two years in their eggs before they finally hatch (and then only live another thirty-five years or so). This delay means that they've socially decoupled the responsibility of taking care of children from the act of creating them. Unsurprisingly, they have horrifying population pressure, which is only alleviated by the constant disasters.
3The need to find new places to live is what led them to develop the Null Space Drive, which is slightly more horrifying than the description in the game: it also knocks out the crew and disables the computers for several minutes after a jump, in addition to the whole not-arriving-where-you-wanted and fiery-death-in-the-heart-of-a-star things.
4If it wasn't obvious from all of the above, Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl have short attention spans. They'll often half finish a project and then go off to do something else. Thankfully, other Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl are likely to wander by and start where they left off. Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl writing is more about communicating over time (to the next person to work on a thing after you've left), than over distance. They also tend to write notes directly on whatever they're working on, so they can't get lost.

Picture
The Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl is welding... something, I have no idea what. If you look closely, you can see that there's writing all over it. Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl mostly live in the polar areas of their planet which are dominated by chemical fungal forests. The fungi can be seen below, as can their “pile of sticks” cities -- rather fragile, but easy to erect. The sun is low in the sky, as the picture is near Nz'Dlr'Nx's pole.

Symbol
The Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl symbol is intended to evoke the sort of thing they might quickly whip up if someone asked for a symbol. So, it's a disk with a purple hexagonal circuit board built in, and a few deep gouges to spice it up. It certainly doesn't mean anything.

Ships
Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl ships are dominated by the spiky balls of the Nullspace Drive. They're on sponsons and kept from the main hull since, among their many other flaws, they tend to tear apart anything that gets too close when they jump.

Language
Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl language consists of a series of simple scratches. Actually, a great deal of their language is pheremonic: giving context to the written language. As such, their sense of humor might be described as “punning”: creating sentences that are missing context, and can be taking in many different ways, or which are self-contradictory, but only when you try to apply any context to them.

Starting Cards
I’m going to be honest; designing the background art for these cards was one of the most fun parts of making this game. (Other than playing it, of course.)

Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl need food due to their constant overpopulation problems, and their economy runs on ultratech because what else do you call their insane science?

Anarchic Sacrificial High-Risk Laboratories
Right, because random laboratories exploding is the fastest way to do science? Unsurprisingly runs on ultratech. Picture at the top left is a star going nova and leaving a planetary nebula (a good thing to study), top right is a fusion Z-pinch device (real technology) – the “X”s and dots indicate electric current going into and out of the card, respectively. Across the bottom is one of those laboratories, where a Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl is playing with fusion in a not-too-subtle way.
Polysystem High-Risk Laboratories
Hey, now those labs are actually producing information! Plus, the map of the galaxy on the left implies that there’s a network of them all over the place. I’m sure the other aliens feel entirely safe about this development.
Anarchic Sacrificial Stellar Power Harnessing
Oops, now the Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl are blowing up stars (top left supernova picture) for massive short-lived power production (hexagonal solar array at top right, along with a cross section of a (real world) solar panel. One of the giant statites needed to do this is shown at the lower right.
Polysystem Stellar Power Harnessing
Instead of blowing up stars, the Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl are building a network of them. Safer than the above, I hope?

Expansive Social Diffusion
Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl population expansion, plus their territorial expansion. Left is a picture of a social network, right is some Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl symbolically diffusing something across the galaxy. I’ll admit, designing two images that change meaning as you swap them was hard, so this card pair is less impressive than the others.
Psychohistoric…
Upgrade the “Expansive” part and we have the Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl toying with psychohistory. This is a reference to Azimov’s Foundation series, where his “psychohistory” is basically hard-sociology able to predict the actions of large groups of people. I represent this with a branching timeline of events. Bottom to top, colonizing a new world, some technological gizmo, and at the top of the “high probability path” expanding to many stars.
…Teleological Redesign
Teleology is a mostly out-of-date philosophical principle that can be summed up as “form follows function”. It has an unhappy history with evolution. Anyway, teleology regarding tools is a lot less contentious, and that’s what the Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl are doing. Unfortunately, as easy as it is to sum up the philosophy, it’s nigh impossible to describe with pure pictures. Drawing pictures that express the idea of completely redesigning teleology is harder.
Bottom left is a wand-like handle-thingy designed to perfectly fit a Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl hand (not an easy task given their strange arrangement of fingers). To the right is an alternate solution where the Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl grasps a sphere that levitates the rest of the tool ahead of it.
Middle right is a fork and a spoon and their natural offspring – the spork. Above that is alternate solutions: a gripper instead of a fork, and a levitating forcefield holding liquid instead of a spoon.

Hand Crafted Polyutility Components
This, and the card reverse, are my favorite art in the game.
Left is a Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl assembling a… something on a conveyor belt. Top are some Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl remote controlling some sensors and manipulator arms that someone wove together. Bottom-right reveals the thing on the treadmill to be a robot of some sort. You can see one of its legs on the inside during the assembly process.
Microfabricated…
Now, the robot is being put together assembly-line style by machines. At the top, that woven cable is being made in slices – which is a terrible way to do it, but it’s the kind of insane thing the Kt’Zr’Kt’Rtl would think of.
…Adaptive Architecture
This time, what is being created is components that assemble a wall, and a tensile truss above it. The wall takes the form of a Mann/McLoud/Von Derau Type 15 Pentagonal Tiling, which was discovered in 2015 by the people it's named after. It's the only pentagonal tiling with no degrees of freedom.

Nullspace Colonies
These colonies represent the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl exploring the galaxy far faster than anyone else can. They hop around, nearly at random, and frequently find interesting places, which they promptly settle. Actually settling a new world costs energy to power the massive amount of jumping needed to get all of the people there. Some of the colonies are farther away, but valuable enough to be worth colonizing -- these cost twice as much.

So, pronouncing the colony names.... First, you really aren't expected to. But, if you want to, the vowel pattern is “i-e-i-i-e-i” repeating. So Kr'Xn'Xx is pronounced “Kir-Xen-Xix” or “Kir-Ksen-Ksiks”. The “!” is pronounced as a click.

Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
While Nz'Dlr'Nx has plenty of network links, they are point to point, instead of branching. In effect, the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl develop a multitude of overlapping, but largely disconnected, internets.

Clinical Immortality
Left is the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl DNA-analog, with reinforced telomere, as usual. On the right is a cell dividing. Notably, the cell has two nucleii, divides unevenly (more like buds), and never finishes the process (leaving a link back to the parent cell).

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Lower left is the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl central nervous system: a network of dendrites centered in the thorax (not as much in the head). Top is the digestive tract: a relatively linear thing with a stomach in the middle. Lower right is the respiratory system: a row of spiracles linked to a network of tracheae.

Cross Species Ethical Equality
Along the bottom is six “panels” of a “comic” showing how Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl do things. At the left is a Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl creating a square. Then they leave. In the third “panel” the square is broken, and a new Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl shows up. In the forth panel, they fix the square by adding circle elements. In the fifth, they leave and it breaks again, as a new Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl arrives. In the final panel, they've fixed it again, adding more bits. And on it goes...

Along the top is a wide variety of symbols that lack much commonality and are intended to represent pure diversity of thought.

Social Exodus
Lower left is Nz'Dlr'Nx, lower right a colony ship with nullspace drives (spheres with spikes). In almost every other version of this card, the arrow representing expansion from the homeworld is a single arrow pointing up and right. For the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl it's a series of branching linear arrows going every which way -- often backwards. This represents the rather random movement of the null space drive.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
Top left is an example of “punning”: a sentence with a word-block missing that would have given it enough context to make sense.

Along the bottom are various Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl instruments. Lower left is a musical saw. Lower right is a theramin. Between are a pair of musical notes, as it isn't obvious that these are intended to be instruments.

Technology Production
For every other species, I did my best to have the technologies produce something that was at least vaguely appropriate. For the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl, I went out of my way to make the production of every technology as inappropriate as possible, as they misused those technologies to do things they were never intended for. This has the side benefit of making technologies slightly more valuable for the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl, which is fitting (doing something different than everyone else has value).
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Intermission!

I'm going to go over each of the technologies.

First, those weird names. Why call something “Ubiquitous Cultural Repository” when “Internet” means the same thing?
1The aliens aren't great at naming things: instead of giving them proper nouns, they simply describe what they do.
2I can't give you their proper names, or even describe how they work exactly, as that depends on which species invents the technology. Indeed, that's the entire point of the game. By solving a problem in their unique way, an alien can leave an indelible mark on the growing society. For example, if the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl invent the Ubiquitous Cultural Repository, it'll be a near infinite number of disparate networks that embody the idea “the best thing about standards is that there's so many of them”. If the Kjasjavikalimm do it, it'll be built around firewalls and security. The Caylion would extend their existing infosphere offworld, linking the colonies together tightly, make it a centerpiece of culture, and use it to obsolete leaving one's home to do anything. The Faderan might make an interconnected network of libraries and museum -- infinite, curated knowledge. And so on. The social influence (victory points) you score represent inventing the technology in your own, unique way, and its impact on society.

Second, the costs to invent technologies. I have five constraints:
1In each era (I, II, and III) every resource needs to appear exactly twice, so you have the same odds of finding a research team that needs whatever you have in excess.
2Over the game, resources need to be used roughly equally across all research teams. This would be easy if every team in an era had the same total cost, but I don't hold to that. The inventions aren't equally valuable, and the cost to invent needs to be (roughly) proportionate to the value of the tech so the Yengii are balanced.
3Across eras I, II, and III, no technology may use the same pair of resources. This avoids two resources being tied together as mutual substitute goods.
4No research team can spend the same resource to invent as to run the invented converter. This is a balance necessity and is tied to invention as a catch-up mechanism.
5Whenever possible, I want the type of resources used to invent to make sense. Given point 4, this is generally very hard.

As for the converter, I constrain the input to match the technology, but leave the output relatively free. Unfortunately, this means that many technologies consume the resource they would probably be best producing.

Alright, let's get to the specific cards:

Genetic Engineering
Nanotechnology
These two technologies are pretty mundane, being things humanity is working on right now.
Genetic Engineering's art is a picture of the species, their DNA-analog, and their chromosomes.
Nanotechnology's picture is a nanomachine at the top of the card, and two nanomachines working together to build something at the bottom. The marked big thing at the back of the nanomachines is the battery, because good luck finding a way to power one of these tiny things.

Universal Translator
Converts culture into social influence and a large cube (often information) that must be given to another player. So... pretty much exactly what you'd expect a universal translator to do. The background art is the various languages morphing into each other. The reverse side, “Universal Empathic Communication” is intended to cover having actual inter-species empathy, not just understanding.

Quantum Computers
Turns information into stuff, as you would expect. The top picture is of such a computer, the bottom is a row of bits (zeroes and ones) where some of the bits are in a superposition of zero and one. The upgrade, “Nondeterministic Polynomial Collapse” is a reference to the P=NP problem (or P=/=NP, figuring out which is true is the problem). The implication is that quantum computers are now able to solve nondeterministic polynomial time problems in polynomial time. Or, in layman's terms, there's problems that would take your home computer longer than the age of the universe (or its expected lifetime going forward) to solve. Now, those problems are solved, and quickly. This is an issue for anyone who was basing anything on that stuff being unsolvable; for example: cryptography, and information security in general.

Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
A.K.A. the internet. Background art is the picture of an internet over the species' homeworld. Turns electrical energy into cultural influence, as you might expect. The reverse, “Memetic Lifeforms”, is the idea of creating self-replicating memes (ideas or cultural phenomenon) that undergo evolution and can be seen as “alive”.

Clinical Immortality
One of those technologies that we know will cause great social upheaval. Picture is the alien DNA with its telomeres being reinforced, and cell division. Turns biotechnology into cultural influence, for obvious reasons. The one downside of clinical immortality is that you can still die by accident. The reverse side, “Practical Immortality”, fixes this. There's several possible solutions (making people invulnerable to dying, backing up people and re-creating them if they die, making deadly events impossible); which species invented this has a great deal of impact here.

Atomic Transmutation
Turning lead into gold is a fun pastime, but why not osmium? Background picture is, unfortunately, mostly obscured by the game mechanics. It's an atomic nucleus with a single additional nucleon being moved into position. (Probably a proton). The reverse, “Pseudomaterials”, is borrowed from an RPG I very much enjoy, Sufficiently Advanced. It's the idea of making electromagnetic fields that behave like impossible matter.

As we transition from era I to era II, the research teams start being specialists in fields that probably couldn't exist without a few era I technologies being invented.

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Honestly, this should probably convert biotech into cultural influence, not organic material, but the biotech is in use with organic construction. Background is the species' central nervous system, digestive system, and respiratory system. The idea here is the aliens sharing their medical knowledge both to improve medical technology overall, but also to learn more about biology in general.

Cross Species Ethical Equality
Converts cultural into two victory points, one of which must be given to someone else. It's not infrequent that this produces a donation culture as well. The intent is that two players run it, and exchange outputs (thereby fulfilling the theme of the card). The background art is a representation of the species' dominant ethical model. This is the idea of reconciling the alien ethical models to allow some equivalence between them. The reverse, “Concrete Universal Metaethics” brings this to it's final state -- having discovered the universal ethical principles behind all sapient life.

Antimatter Power
An industrial technology, naturally. Depicted is some sort of inertial power system, presumably running on antimatter. The reverse, “Antimatter Compounds”, represents making molecules at least partially out of antimatter. It's easiest to see on the back, but the upper-right side of the card has a picture of a methane atom where two of the hydrogens have been replaced with positronium. Positronium is an electron and a positron (anti-electron) mutually bound to each other, that acts chemically similarly to a very small hydrogen atom. It's also incredibly unstable in reality.

Hyperspace Mining
This represents the aliens harvesting whatever laws of physics that allow FTL travel for raw resources. Unsurprisingly, it costs a great deal of electrical power and is a good source of resources for ultratech. The upgrade, “Hyperspace Settlements”, involves people actually colonizing those strange laws of physics. The picture in the background is of an “industrial space folding device” pulling resources out of hyperspace.

Organic Construction
Converts biotech into other resources, especially (organic) starships. The background depicts an organic building (above or below ground, depending on the species' proclivities). The left side is a cross-section of an organic wall. Upgrades to “Living Infrastructure”, where the buildings are actively alive (and, presumably, can breed to produce more buildings).

Achronal Analysis
Using limited time travel to make for faster computation. Like other computer-centric technologies, runs on information. The top is a picture of two computers linked by an achronal device (or the same computer linked to itself). The bottom depicts a string of ones and zeroes where a later block was transposed over an early one, moving the information back in time. The reverse is “Time Viewers”, where the achronal bandwidth is now large enough to pass whole images from other times.

Singularity Control
Done right, singularities can be immense sources of power. If you constantly feed a tiny singularity with the mass of a mountain, you can get a constant stream of energy in return -- basically a matter conversion engine. There's only two downsides. One: the energy comes in the form of x-rays. Two: you have to control a singularity the size of a grain of sand with the mass of a mountain. This technology solves that, and is perhaps the greatest industrial technology. The background picture depicts a singularity in a containment system, being powered (and spun up) by a stream of matter. The reverse, “Wormhole Grid”, refers to the use of (larger) singularities as pinches in space, that could (if spun very fast, and filled with negative mass material) be used to create stable wormholes.

And on to era III, the end game technologies (in larger games). Every era III technology produces social influence (victory points) in order to assist with the conversion of resources into points at the end of the game, and to make trading victory points possible on the final turn.

Social Exodus
A massive movement to colonize the galaxy, expanding the Confluence to cover much of it. Converts culture (naturally) into resources and ships (representing the exploration of the galaxy). Produces a number of donation goods, as this is a joint project. Upgrades to “Galactic Colonization”, as the Confluence becomes a new pan-galactic golden age. Background art is a colony ship (right) and the homeworld of the species (left) sending people outward (arrow pointing up-right).

Poly Species Corporations
Honestly, this technology uses food (and organic material) because it was the resource left over. Thematically, the corporations could run on anything. Said corporations make much of their profit selling to aliens, so a lot of the output is in the form of donation goods. Background art is a corporate structure diagram. Kjasjavikalimm and Paths are in the position of leadership due to their organizational skills; Eni Et and Words take on an advisory roll due to their emotional and ethical understanding; Caylion, Zeth, and Unity are in middle management due to their ability to coordinate many things (and people) at once; Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl and Words make up the research and development teams, while Im'dril, Faderan, and Mules make up the bulk of the rest of the work force.

The reverse, “Full Interspecies Integration”, represents the state where the species' have figured out how to form a single, unified, joint society.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
Generally turns industry into a lot of culture. Background art is various cultural artifacts of the species. Reverse is “Multispecies Hybrid Cultures”, as the aliens figure out how to mix their cultures into a cohesive whole.

Temporal Dilation
Slowing time so you have enough of it to get everything done? Who wouldn't want that? I honestly can't remember why this costs biotech; it always has going back to the first versions of the game. Background art is various temporal manipulation devices, designed to evoke snowflakes (“freezing time”). The reverse, “Stasis Field”, is the perfected version of the technology.

Matter Generation
Converting energy into matter. Top right is a waveform generator, top left some sort of gizmo, and at the bottom a device beaming matter into existance. The reverse, “Macroscale Teleportation”, is Star Trek style teleportation, using the same technology. It's called “macroscale” because “microscale” is actually relatively easy: quantum teleportation has already been achieved in the lab in the real world.

Galactic Telecomm Control
Set up the galactic telecommunications network, run everything. Top is a diagram of that network linking stars, bottom is a picture of a transmission array. Reverse is “Galactic Domination” -- using one's power over communication to take direct control. It's my one “evil” technology.

Megastructures
Almost certainly the best technology in the game, it converts ultratech into an absolutely insane amount of social influence, as you build massive habitation for trillions of people. The picture is an orbital. The reverse, “Dyson Swarms”, are swarms of megastructures encompassing a star.

And there we have it: every technology in the game.

Edit: five constraints, not four.
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TauCeti Deichmann
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Unity
The Unity are AIs, and have the least appropriate name of all of the species.

To be clear, when I say “AI” I don't mean robot -- they're pure digital minds without form.

Picture
If you look at their species picture, your eyes will probably be drawn to the gray drone in the foreground. That's not the Unity. The abstract glowing mass of fractiline orange that comprises the background is the Unity.

1The outer layers of the planet “Unity” are computronium: densely packed computers, power systems, and heat sinks. The world is Mercury sized and tide-locked to its star: a small red dwarf.
2The Unity that you play are actually just the engineering staff tasked with maintaining their planet. The vast majority of that planet is given over to increasingly bizarre mathematical simulations of impossible universes. Those are populated with what are colloquially called “Deep Unity” -- beings of unimaginable alienness. In comparison, the maintenance staff is quite relateable.
3The mental architecture of the maintenance Unity is hierarchical. There's a central “core”: software that exists solely to be sapient. Then there's some collection of skill slices: not-quite-sapient software that's extremely skilled at a single task (piloting ships, talking to people, and so on). These have the social standing of valuable work animals, and are often traded among Unity. Groups of Unity called “Collections” share a common pool of slices dedicated to a single purpose. Imagine, say, a medical drama, except the characters can swap around the roll of surgeon, manager, and receptionist as they see fit.

Symbol
The Unity symbol is fractured into sections to represent their dis-unified ecology. Behind this is a septagonal tiling. Specifically, a septagonal tiling of a surface with negative curvature. This represents the mathematical nature of the Unity, the non-physical rules they follow, and the extended infinity of space hidden within their simulated worlds.

Ships
Unity ships are tiny things, as they only need to hold a small computer for their crew. They have large antenna, for transmitting their crew long distances.

Language
Unity language is unsurprisingly binary, arranged in blocks 4 bits tall.

On to the starting cards:
Adaptive Fabrication
The heart of the Unity economy -- the ability to make pretty much anything. Upgrades with Nanotechnology, since it's the same general idea. On the left is some fabricator arms building something, and on the right a structure being assembled out of parts.

The upgraded side, “Predictive Fabrication”, includes a diagram of a branching path with a single future being chosen.

Explorer Collection
As a reminder, “Collection” means a group of Unity who work together as a team, sharing skill slices. A picture of the arrangement is towards the left (squares are unity cores, circles are skill slices). This collection is focused on exploring the galaxy, so it produces ships (which represent exploration). At the right is a picture of a literal exploration ship, while the bottom shows another solution: a massive sensor satellite.

Upgrades with Achronal Analysis (it's easier and safer to explore when you can predict the immediate future). The reverse is “Gravity Sunlense Sensor Array”. A gravity sunlens is a real idea: gravity bends light, and a star's gravity bends it quite a lot if you can get far enough away from said star. Instead of building a gargantuan collector, build a merely huge one orbiting in the Oort cloud, turn it towards the parent star, and watch light bend around the star, magnifying distant places. In effect, you have a lens the size of the inner solar system. There's a picture of the idea at the bottom of the card.

Adamantine Synthesis
Building nearly impossibly strong materials. Produces ultratech. The card art shows a multi-layered substance being assembled. At the back, on the top, there's a diagram of a laser being used to heat the center of a pane of glass, which is a real process used to strengthen glass.

Computer Worlds
The limiting factor of the Unity is their population. There's maybe a hundred thousand maintenance Unity total, far less than any other civilization. This lack of population is why the Unity can only hold one colony -- there isn't enough people to manage more than that.

If you count Deep Unity, they have a population that, while uncountable, is certainly more than the total of every other species combined. Computer Worlds represent the maintenance Unity convincing Deep Unity to come out and join the galaxy at large. They set up massive computer banks on whatever world is supplied, beginning the process of turning part of the crust into computronium.

Unity tend to name themselves and their societies after mathematical concepts they like. I named the Computer Worlds after some of my favorite concepts. The art on the left is always a picture of the partially-computerized world. The right is a symbol for the society, generally build around a spiral to evoke growth.

Limit
Named after the mathematical concept of a limit: where a thing (usually a function) approaches but never quite reaches something else (usually a number). The picture is of a spiral closing in on a circle (the circle is the limit of the spiral).

Fractal Symmetry
A.K.A. Self-similarity. The picture is a line-and-circle diagram that's both fractaline and spiraling inward.

Bézier
Bézier curves are frequently used in art to make smooth, flowing lines. Most art programs use four-point Bézier curves, but the equation behind them scales up to any number of points. The spiral at the right demonstrates this. The center starts with a two-point Bézier (a line), then three points (a parabola), then the classic four, and so on all the way up to seven points. (The math for figuring out where to put the control points involve a lot of trial and error).

Color Space
Color space is a three-dimensional representation of the perception of color. The picture is the human color space (for trichromatism).

And on to the tech cards:
Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
Simply depicts the Unity homeworld. It's already fully networked together, so there's no point in showing internet connections.

Clinical Immortality
No DNA here. The right side is a diagram of a redundant, distributed control system. The left is an encoding system that can suffer multiple bit flips before losing information (i.e. it has a Hamming distance of four). It stores three bits of information in seven bits, but is resistant to damage (such as radiation). It's also the diagram that I used to balance the resource demands of seven of the species. Below, I extended the system to be able to store four bits of information in seven bits, at the cost of reducing the Hamming distance to two. (Think of it as a stable method for storing data that can be converted into a higher density solution, while still being compatible with the safer version).

In reality, odd Hamming distances are much better than even. Two bit flips in a system with distance four would leave data that could mean either of two different things, with no way to distinguish between them.

Genetic Engineering
The left is a Julia set fractal representing a maintenance Unity, and the right a random stream of 1s and 0s, representing it's digital representation. I thought about having the 1s and 0s spell something, but ascii codes have a recognizable repeating pattern that would distract from the overall shape of the random data.

Interspecies Medical Exchange
Shows pseudocode that I'll preproduce here:

void Encephalize( const membank * pCore ) {
slice*[] sliceList = pCore->getActiveSlices();
foreach( pSlice, sliceList ) {
impression initResponse = pSlice->query( INIT:ENCEPHALIZE );
pCore->updateSlicePerception( initResponse );
if ( initResponse->getMaster() == null ) {
pSlice->slave( pCore );
pSlice->init();
}
else {
pSlice->getMaster()->sliceAuthorizationRequest( INIT:ENCEPHALIZE );
pCore->sliceUnauthorized( pSlice );
}
}
pCore->initProprioception();
pCore->initGestalt();
}

This code would be run during the boot sequence of a Unity core and handles the process of claiming a slice (and verifying that no-one else has control over it). The Master/Slave part is a common naming convention for computers: a printer is a slave device to a desktop, for example. But it also implies some of the serious social problems in the relationship between core and slice.

Cross Species Ethical Equality
The bottom oval is a representation of a Unity. The central core is represented with a Julia set fractal. Various slices are below it. Left-to-right: a wrench (engineering slice), an eye (sight slice), a retical (aiming slice), and some Unity text (a communication slice).

The top depicts the Unity idea of relative importance: math (pi) and music (note) above stars (the real / the galaxy).

Social Exodus
A picture of the planet Unity on the left, and a small computer ship on the right. Colonists are turned off during transport, so they take exceedingly little space.

Xeno Cultural Exchange
This depicts a map of Unity culture. The circular diagram at the lower left shows the overall structure. The thin surface is called out to a Julia fractal: the symbol for the maintenance Unity. Below that are the four societies you can pull out to computer worlds, with their symbols pointing at the matching society. Below that is layer after layer of Deep Unity, continuing past the lower left with no end in sight.
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