The Map of Esurio

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Lore

  This is one of a series of guides to the Shadeward Universe. You can read the others here. With a relative lack of technology available to the inhabitants of Esurio, the means of navigating long distances across the planet has been lost to most. There are no compasses or GPS systems available. However it is still possible to determine your location to a high degree of accuracy. The map that Meru finds in the first book is based upon the design below and gives clues as to how it operates. With this knowledge it is possible to navigate successfully. Latitude Whilst Esurio does have a rotational pole like the Earth, it is not useful as the basis of navigation as the rotational period matches the orbital period (tidally locked). All measurements are taken from the ‘substellar pole’, (the point on Esurio where the star is directly overhead). Lines of longitude spread out in circles from this point measured in traditional degrees. Measuring your latitude is thus done in the same fashion as it is on Earth, calculating the angle of the star above the horizon. However, it is reversed numerically. Overhead = 0, On the horizon is 90. Longitude As it was on Earth prior to the invention of clocks, longitude is much more problematic to determine – most cultures are unable to do it. There are no clocks on Esurio, and whilst the sand-timers used to regulate activity can measure elapsed time, this method is not accurate enough. Fortunately Esurio benefits from an additional phenomena that Earth does not, the regular transit of a large planet in an interior orbit. Mayura is a gas-giant (a hot jupiter) in an orbit closer to Lacaille 9352 than Esurio. From the perspective of Esurio, it cross the face of the star on a regular (roughly monthly in Earth terms) basis. This ‘Pass’ is the basis of all time-keeping on Esurio. As Esurio orbits in the same plan as Mayura, it possible to calculate longitude based on the observed angle of the transit. if the transit is ‘flat’ you are observing from the ‘centre’ line of the planet, the meridian. If the transit is measured at an angle, you are away from that centre line by the observed amount. Habitability With the star constantly over the substellar pole, the areas immediately below that point receive immense amounts of infra-red energy (heat). As latitude increases, the star is lower in the sky until is lost from view. With the star motionless in the sky some areas are too hot and others too cold, with a relatively narrow temperate area between them where conditions are suitable for life. You’ll note on the map above that most cities are between 50 and 70 degrees of latitude. Outside of this, Nireus (Lat 74) is particularly cold (on the borders of the Frozen Wastes) and Airea (Lat 43) is extremely...

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Introduction to the Shadeward Saga

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Lore

  This is one of a series of guides to the Shadeward Universe. You can read the others here. Introduction. The Shadeward Saga is a four part SF series cataloging events upon the planet Esurio. The Planet was colonised by refugees from Earth at some point in the distant past. Unfortunately, most of the records of the colonisation have not survived to the present time. The following history has been put together from incomplete records. Red Dwarf Colonisation Target The Lacaille system, officially ‘Lacaille 9352, Red Dwarf Class M2V’ in the stellar catalogue, was not originally a primary colonisation target. Red dwarf stars were considered generally poor candidates and the system was relegated to the lower end of the league table. The only reason it was considered at all was that, at a distance of just over ten light years from Earth, it was within range of ships powered by the new atomic pulse engines, a factor that eventually became critical. It had been known for some time that there were several planets in the system. Esurio, along with four unremarkable gas giants and a series of rocky dwarf-worlds, had already been catalogued and studied in some detail by Sol based orbiting telescopes and, more recently, by high speed atomic space-probes. The returning data was greeted with initial enthusiasm. Esurio lay just within the outer boundary of Lacaille’s ‘goldilocks zone’, close enough to support liquid water and far enough out to prevent it evaporating away. It maintained a thin oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere with sufficient greenhouse gases to raise the ambient temperature above freezing. Around a more familiar star the planet would have been considered the ideal target, a close parallel of the home-world. A red dwarf would naturally mean that metals would be in short supply, but that could be countered by technology. It might support a simple agrarian culture. Difficulties in establishing a Colony Lacaille’s peculiar properties made the colonisation of Esurio problematic for many reasons. The star was extremely faint and cool, with the planet in an alarmingly close orbit. Conditions on the surface ranged from the extreme to the astonishing. Tidally locked to its parent star, one side of the planet always faced the glow of ruddy sunlight; the other was shrouded in eternal night. An everlasting hurricane raged on the sub-stellar pole, fed by ferocious evaporation from the surface due to the intense heat. At the terminator, kilometre high cliffs of eternal ice and glaciers that dwarfed anything ever seen before marked the transition onto the dark side. Images showed a temperate zone between the two extremes. High wind speeds due to enormous convection between the hot and cold sides were noted in a number of places, coerced by significant mountain ranges. The atmospheric pressure was too low to support humans unassisted. Either some significant terraforming would need to be undertaken or genetic modifications would need to be...

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Elite Dangerous Lore, everything PS4 players need to know (Lore Primer)

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Lore

These lore pages are no longer being actively maintained and may not be accurate post v2.4 of Elite Dangerous. Welcome to the wonderful universe of Elite Dangerous, PS4 players! I’m an official author for the game – as such I’ve done a bit of work on making the lore of Elite Dangerous accessible. When you’ve read what’s below, you can start to delve into my (work in progress!) lore pages too. The Elite franchise has been around since 1984 and the Elite Dangerous game is the fourth in the series. As a result there is an abundance of background detail, thousands of websites and millions of forum and reddit threads discussing every detail. Trying to make sense of all this could well be overwhelming, so a summary may prove helpful. Welcome to the universe and, as we say around these parts… Right on, Commanders! Drew. The year is 3303. After centuries of strife, humanity has hyperspace travel and has colonized an area perhaps 400 light years in radius beyond our Solar system. In these ‘core worlds’ (or the ‘bubble’ as many now refer to it) humanity carries on its business. There are stations, vessels, outposts and all that goes with them: politics, conflict, trade, piracy, bounty hunting and war. Beyond civilised space lies the ‘Frontier’, the largely unexplored vastness of the galaxy. Out there are far flung colonies, mysterious wrecks and astronomical sights to wonder at. There are rumours of aliens too. The universe is a dangerous place. Humanity’s darker side is prevalent out in the void and justice is often dispensed by the business end of weaponry. Spacecraft ownership is common. Millions of pilots have taken to the void, flying between systems in a bid to raise money to improve their lot. Money remains the primary means to barter across systems, with universally accepted ‘credits’ the medium of exchange. As you join the game you’ll find yourself in receipt of a handful of credits and a basic ‘Sidewinder’ vessel. (Many ships in the Elite Dangerous universe are named after snakes). It is not a bad little ship, but limited range, storage capacity and inability to defend itself against stronger foes will tempt you into a larger vessel before long. To gain credits you need to work. Trading is a sensible way to start, buying low and selling high. Missions may be available too, but you’ll find that those who offer them require a certain reliability from you before they’ll entrust you with the more lucrative jobs. You may consider bounty hunting, but you’d be advised to wait for that more potent ship before you rely on your weapons… Pilots are rated in a number of ways; their trading, exploration and combat prowess being assessed on a scale. In combat you start out as ‘Harmless’. If you survive your first few altercations you may achieve the moniker of ‘Mostly Harmless’....

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Elite Dangerous Lore: The Federation

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Lore

These lore pages are no longer being actively maintained and may not be accurate post v2.4 of Elite Dangerous. The Federation is the oldest and largest of the ‘Big Three’ super powers in the human occupied universe of Elite: Dangerous. It has been in existence for over a thousand years. The Federation can trace its origins back to the year 2060. Even as far back as the early years of the 21st century, many large corporations controlled financial and human resources on a scale far bigger than some countries. In the years following the devastation of World War III in the 2040s, the influence of corporations increased dramatically into the 2050s onwards. After the war, the dominant power was the United States of the Americas, and as the remaining other countries joined it over the next few decades, it was renamed the Federation of the United States and later “The Federation” as the implied reference to one of the pre-war powers was a block to the remaining countries joining it. It had a constitution and laws derived from the earlier powers, but much simplified. Industrial activity led the way and ultimately became a founding ethos of the Federation. A base on Mars was constructed and the moon was heavily industrialised by 2080. This activity was primarily driven by the need to rebuild the shattered economy and ecology of the Earth after the depredations of war. Industrial activity quickly spread through the solar system. The stage was set for the purest interpretation of capitalism that humanity has ever known. Interstellar probes were launched and the remarkable discovery of life in the Tau Ceti system spurred humanity to reach for the stars. A colony was set up thirty years later. Colonies were quickly set up in other locales in close proximity to Sol. Life was also discovered in the Delta Pavonis system, but almost immediately was made extinct by the actions of colonists there. Similar problems were noted in Beta Hydri and Altair. Humanity began to spread unchecked, in an echo of the problems experienced in the previous century. Tau Ceti was warned by Sol to ensure the preservation of local lifeforms, but silence was the only response. Reports conflict, but independent records of the time (which generally favoured the Tau Cetians) indicate that the colony suffered under very harsh conditions and was simply unable to comply with Sol’s excessive demands. Over the next decade various ultimatums were sent, but they were all ignored. Sol’s patience eventually ran out. The situation culminated in the first ever interstellar battle in the year 2241 between the forces of Sol, having endured a long voyage to reach the Tau Ceti system, and the rebels of Tau Ceti. The battle was inconclusive, forcing the Sol system to accept an unwelcome agreement to form a union of systems with a common agenda and independent rights – thus...

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Elite Dangerous History: Frontier Elite 2 (FE2)

Posted by on Feb 16, 2017 in Lore

These lore pages are no longer being actively maintained and may not be accurate post v2.4 of Elite Dangerous. In this second of series of history articles, I take a look at the second game in the Elite series. Frontier Elite 2, commonly abbreviated to ‘FE2’, came along almost ten years after the original game, being published by Konami in 1993 (rights later sold to GameTek) and primarily written by David Braben, although Ian Bell provided some algorithms for drawing planets and design work on control methods. Some work on ‘Elite 2’ had started long before this, with both Ian Bell and David Braben involved in creating a possible sequel to the original game on the BBC and C64 microcomputers in the late 1980s. Reports differ on why this didn’t come to fruition, though it seems that the 8-bit hardware was too limited and enthusiasm for the project, with other interests taking their toll on time, ultimately put paid to the work. When FE2, the second game, finally did appear, it was exclusively a 16-bit affair, being made available for the major platforms of the time, the PC, the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST. It also featured one of the most cinematic game intros that had been seen up until that point. It’s still worth watching today, to get a feel of how the game introduced itself. Some original music, particularly the intro theme tune featured above, was composed by David Lowe. For many this is still the definitive ‘Elite’ theme. Other classical works featured in the game too. The game featured considerable advances and changes over the original. Gone were the simplistic wireframe vector graphics, replaced by fully filled polygonal spacecraft with moving parts and articulated undercarriages. The universe was now semi-realistic, with ‘real’ stars, orbited in real-time by multiple planets simulated with real astronomical detail and a nascent 1:1 scale galaxy convincingly represented – although space had turned ‘blue’ for some reason. A political background was introduced, with the game having a particular date it was set in, the year 3200 (the original game had no fixed date but has been assumed to have been set in the year 3125. In FE2 you played a great-grandchild of the original player). The Federation and the Empire appeared as two galactic superpowers vying for territory, the player able to rank up with them. This was a significant departure from the original game which appeared to be set in an imaginary series of ‘galaxies’ controlled by the mysterious Galactic Cooperative or ‘Galcop’. This was, perhaps, the first major ‘retcon’ of the Elite universe. FE2 did include a small subset of the original game systems, collectively known as the ‘Old Worlds’. Players will still be familiar with Lave, Diso, Riedquat, Reorte and Tionisla. There are a number of others from the original game still featured in Elite Dangerous even now. This led...

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Elite Dangerous History: The original ‘Elite’

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Lore

These lore pages are no longer being actively maintained and may not be accurate post v2.4 of Elite Dangerous. This is a rather ambitious series of articles, and will probably see some updates as folks let me know of all the bits I’ve missed along the way. Strictly speaking this isn’t a ‘lore’ document, as it is the history of the Elite games in ‘our’ universe. I haven’t seen a complete series charting this story from beginning until now attempted anywhere else, so I thought I’d have a go. The Original Elite, 1984 – 1992 It’s hard, at this stage, to return to the pre-Elite days of computer gaming in the early 80s. Back then games were largely simplistic, clones of arcade games or following very closely in their designs. Games were specifically designed to play through in a few minutes, featuring ‘lives’, ‘scores’ and ‘levels’. There were games that broke this mould, but they were few and far between, and often easily forgotten. The Acorn Computer BBC Microcomputer System (the ‘beeb’ or BBC) was the ‘posh kids’ computer and heavily geared to educational use (benefiting from government subsidies, and thus appearing in many schools in the 1980s). Gaming was certainly not something its creators had as a primary design goal – it had no sprite hardware like the later Commodore 64. It was expensive (£335 in 1981 – the equivalent of around £1,400 today). The story starts with Ian Bell having brought such a machine with him to Cambridge university where he was studying Mathematics in 1982. There he met David Braben, studying Physics. Both were computer aficionados of a type becoming common in the 80s. At that stage, Ian was working on a game known as “Freefall”, which was later published by “Acornsoft”, a relatively small publishing house, compared to Thorn EMI, in 1983. David had a written a demo of 3D wireframe spacecraft, and a scrolling starfield on an Acorn Atom (a more primitive precursor to the BBC). This led both to discussions on the limitations of ‘then’ current game design. They were not the first with the 3D ideas, but they were the first to couple the idea with a purpose, a goal and something beyond just a score and ‘another go’. Elite was born out of the dissatisfaction with the confines of traditional gaming. With no score, what was the purpose? The Thatcherite years of the 1980s provided the answer – money. But money isn’t a score, you can spend money. On what? On upgrades… so your ship had to be inferior to start with. What would be the purpose of upgrading your ship? To defeat other vessels. Why would those other vessels attack you? Because you carried a cargo… so trading was required alongside piracy. There was always a reason for the game mechanics, and the concept developed from there. The true genius, however, lay...

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