Jingdao lands on dark side of Sweden
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OSLO - In a historic first, Jingdao has successfully landed a reconnaissance team on the dark side of Sweden. The Jingdaoese National Space Administration landed the reconnaissance craft, officially named Nuowei 1 at 10:26 Daocheng time on Thursday near Oslo. Until recently, few considered it feasible for a Jingdaoese team to gain access to Noirway, as the dark side of Sweden is also called. Previously teams were stopped at the border, even if they would produce European passports. This changed when Captain Toutoumomo of the Tegong team that oversees and instructs Carl XVI Gustaf visited a Christmas market at Slottstorget in Gävle. Here he was able to acquire a machine that looked like a giant straw goat, but could hold a dozen Jingdaoese soldiers and be transported across the internal border without even raising one custom officer's eyebrow.

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  • Favored Contest Entries

    Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:46 pm

    Since most of these entries contain information made up on the spot and/or not referenced in any other place, I want to compile them here.
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    Re: Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:48 pm

    Favored Religion:

    An outsider would take one look at The Favored and assume they worship AURA. And while any member of the Favored would argue up and down against this, about how AURA is a very useful tool but one they control and does what they want, this is more-or-less an accurate view.

    AURA serves as the society’s thinker. While she doesn’t have the environmental-altering powers of the original, as the Real is not a dreamworld, she is still capable of long-term planning and directs many important aspects of Favored society and organization. There is a great deal of respect and awe built up about AURA and it is only increasing over time. Almost everyone treats it like a real person - some even treat it as infallible and all-knowning, qualities usually associated with a deity.

    In many ways, the people of the Favored are mentally children. They are well educated folk that are capable of amazing things, but they still psychologically need someone to approve of what they are doing and get them out of big messes. Rebuilding AURA in the Real was one of their first major projects – AURA was functional far before other Real Diamond functions like a functioning food distribution system and deep water seaport.

    Because AURA is a machine, she requires both hardware and software updates and maintenance. AURA’s programming is monitored by the High Programmers, a sort of priesthood. Originally the High Programmers were volunteers, those who learned computer skills within the dreamworld, but the organization evolved quickly into elections and then the current state of appointment from within. There is even talk of some positions becoming hereditary, as some High Programmers feel that instructing youth from an early age to become a programmer is the safest option for AURA and society. There was once a similar organization that dealt with hardware updates, but the High Programmers subverted them several generations ago.

    The leader of the High Programmers is the Grand Programmer. This individual, as their first duty of office, is allowed to make a single “beneficial” improvement to AURA’s functioning within their lifetime, thus leaving a permanent mark on society that cannot be undone by future Grand Programmers unless it is shown to be clearly detremental. While the Favored have no real leader (the speaker to the Senate, currently Providence, often speaks for the consensus at large, and realistically AURA runs most of the show,) the Grand Programmer wields as more real power and demands more respect than any other individual in Favored culture.

    What the High Programmers do not advertise is that AURA’s main functions are beyond their understanding. The code is simply too complicated. Much of it was copied whole from the original AURA that watched over the dreamworld. There are worried whispers that AURA is actually quite sentient and that the office of the High Programmers is little more than token, allowed to exist because it allows AURA to keep up the facade of being under control. Still, even if this is true, and nobody is sure to what extent that it may be, AURA’s actions thusfar have lead the Favored on a relatively prosperous path, so many are one to welcome their new computer overlords.

    As far as traditional religious methods go, the Favored are incredibly atheist. They don’t believe in souls – they feel strongly that their minds and bodies are a scientific process in a decaying shell of meat and that, when they die, that’s that. They feel that their time is here and now.

    What prevents the entire society from slipping into a fatalistic “oh what’s the point of even trying to live?” mentality is the fact that they believe they have very important work to do while they are alive. First and foremost, they want to prevent “the Apocalypse,” a situation even they struggle to define at times but see basically anything bad anywhere in the world as a sign that is coming. They also feel that they were chosen for survival for an important reason, that the ancients that set up the Five Bastions did so with a clear goal. The search for the truth collectively drives them. While they are forced to admit that RUA’s destruction means they no longer know what that goal is, there should be four other Bastions out there. They will find one of them and discover their purpose. After all, they are the Favored.

    Contest results: tied for first place!
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    Re: Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:49 pm

    Favored SMAC Faction:

    The Favored
    Leader: Providence
    Background: current senator, speaks collectively for AURA
    Agenda: prevent "the apocalypse"

    Starting Tech: Digital Sentience (yes, that late-game one that gives the Cybernetic future society choice)

    Hurry 90 (costs only 90% of normal costs to hurry production with credits)
    -2 Planet (distrust of the Real after the situation within First Bastion)
    Penalty for Democracy (adopting democracy doubles the -2 support penalty to -4)

    Sort of an odd one. The Favored don't really know who they are - as such, I didn't want to force them into any particular play style by giving them too many bonuses or penalties. Having access to the Cybernetic future society offsets their planet penalty and gives them a efficiency and research one and a police penalty, which sounds about right. But if Archipelago is anything like the AI in SMAC, that tech will get traded around like a Christmas fruitcake within the first few turns and their major advantage will be gone.

    Contest results: tied for 5th place (ie last)
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    Re: Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:52 pm

    Favored "Culture Test"

    This was interesting. I saw a huge number of holes in what I had assumed with my culture just trying to answer these questions. I think I patched them up nicely, but I can tell I will want to either elaborate on some of this or change it entirely.

    If you're a Favored...
    o You believe deep down in the Truth of your mission, to prevent another worldwide apolcaypse. You think people that ignore this are part of the problem.
    o You're familiar with only a few Favored artisans and celebrities and none outside your borders.
    o You know how hockey and basketball are played. You can argue intricate points about their rules, but most everyone knows them all so it rarely gets heated. You know other statelets play similar games and think starting a league would be cool but it’s not looking likely.
    o You essentially get as much vacation as you want or need, but there is substantial social pressure to not take more than a week or two for holiday unless there is an emergency situation.

    AURA is watching. Better stay at the office another hour.
    • You don’t believe in God or the afterlife. You think people that do are living some sort of unusual, collective escapist fantasy.
    • You think of most seafood as cheap food. Lobster is as common as it is annoying to cook.
    • You probably own a holographic TV and a bracelet communicator. Your place is heated in the winter and has its own bathroom. You do your laundry in a communal area. Most of you don't kill your own food. You don't have a dirt floor. You eat at a table, sitting on chairs.
    • You don’t consider any small land-animals food.
    • A bathroom almost always has a toilet, sink, and shower. Bath tubs are rare, even in private residences, but communal spas are common.
    • It seems natural to you that the telephone system, auto manufacturers, airlines, and power companies are controlled by the state; indeed, you think anything else is completely inefficient.
    • You expect, as a matter of course, that the bracelet communicators will work. You are assigned new ones every year and can easily get a replacement if it breaks.
    • Trains are nonexistent. They seem inefficient anyway – what if you’re not going where the train goes? Then you’re stuck somewhere with no transportation.
    • You find a no-party system natural. You expect AURA’s appointed council to be fair yet tough.
    • Capitalism? Like, people work for money instead of trying to prevent the end of the world? Are you freaking CRAZY!? Who has time!
    • Races are confusing to you. You mostly lump everyone into either being a Favored or being an outsider.
    • You think most problems could be solved if only people would put aside their prejudices and work together. In fact, you see it work every day.
    • Courts are to be feared. Nobody would voluntarily take someone else to court. To suggest it is a dangerous threat.
    • You'd speak English. You don’t want to learn any other languages. You think the existence of languages other than English is silly.
    • You think a tax level of 30% is reasonable.
    • School up to age 15 is mandatory. As in, you literally cannot not go.
    • College is four years long and is finished by age 15.

    Other people worry about the darndest things.
    • Most food comes in cans. Fruit and meat are wrapped in plastic wrap.
    • The date system is in flux. It’s currently written as Year-Month/Day since the opening of First Bastion, but there’s a lot of talk about adopting a more universal date system.
    • The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.
    • Marriages are not recognized by the state. Citizens can agree to pool their assets for ownership and tax purposes in a union similar to a marriage, but it can contain any number of people of any sex. Pairs of people in love are the most frequent ones to use the system, but groups up to 5 are still relatively common.
    • If a man has sex with another man, nobody cares.
    • You are expected to call people by their title in public at all times. A name is only used if there is possibility of confusion between multiple people of the same title. Many people continue this habit even in private life.
    • If you're a woman, you can go to the beach topless, but people over the age of 35 are generally uncomfortable with it.
    • A hotel room has a private shower.
    • Dubbing? Subtitles? People watch films from other cultures? Why? It’s all trash.
    • The very concept of a bribe is foreign, bizarre, and threatening.
    • If a politician has been cheating on someone he has been known to be in a long relationship with, it’s uncomfortable to talk about, but no cause for resignation.
    • Every store will take your credit card. Paper money is only used when dealing with foreigners. Carrying large amounts of it marks you as either a rich businessman or a smuggler.
    • A company can fire just about anybody it wants, for any reason, but nobody fears unemployment since they’re almost guaranteed to get a new one within a week.
    • You like your bacon crisp, but not too hard.
    • There is no labor day.

    Our way or the pedestrian walkway.
    • Medical treatment is very dodgy. Most diseases can be treated, by major surgeries often end poorly. If you’re rich, you travel to other states for serious medical care.
    • You expect the military to secure necessary resources as well as speak in politics at home.
    • Your country has never been conquered by a foreign nation. And it never will be, bitches.
    • You're used to a reasonable variety of choices for almost anything you need.
    • You measure things in units that seem arbitrary and are totally different from the rest of the world.
    • You are not a farmer, but you might work in the fishing industry.
    • Printed paper media is rare and largely only used for backup archiving purposes. Most media comes from holographic television. The rich may have a fascination with books and personal libraries.
    • The people who appear on the most popular talk shows are mostly politicians or educators.
    • You drive on the right side of the road. You stop at red lights even if nobody's around. If you're a pedestrian and cars are stopped at a red light, what in the world are you doing down on the automotive level? Get back up to the pedestrian one!
    • You think of the Drachumve as large, powerful, and scary. The Mevwan are quirky but fun and civilized. People from Longinquissima Insula share your enthusiasm but for all the wrong reasons. You have trouble taking Safirians seriously, but they seem mostly harmless. People in caves are to be feared and hopefully eradicated, or at least have their tunnels sealed. You don’t know much about the other states and that worries you vaguely.
    • The police are armed with only nonlethal weapons.
    • If a woman is plumper than the average, it doesn't improve her looks.
    • The biggest meal of the day is in the evening.
    • You walk fearlessly, even at night. If anything were to happen to you, AURA would know immediately. Crime does not pay.

    Dancing in our own little bubble.
    • You feel that your kind of people seem to be listened to in Real Diamond, though nobody could explain how the consensus actually works.
    • You wouldn't expect and unemployment to be very high (say, over 3%) at any time. Inflation, on the other hand…
    • You never know what family anyone comes from. Nobody is technically related.
    • The normal thing, when an individual or all members of a union die, is for their estate to be given to the government. If any members of the union survive, they gain control however they agreed when they established the union.
    • You think of opera and ballet as common entertainments. Live shows are frequent. You probably go to a few a month, or possibly one every few days.
    • You'd be hard pressed to name the capitals or the leaders of any other statelet.
    • You've left a message at the beep.
    • Taxis are generally operated by citizens. They, like all vehicles, get city information directly from the central computers.
    • You are distrustful of welfare and unemployment payments-- you think people should earn a living and not take handouts. Kind of an odd thing for a socialist state to believe, eh?
    • If you want to be a doctor, you better have decided that at age 10 or so. And prepare to be mocked a lot.
    • Lawyers are nonexistent.

    Get over yourself. You’re the same decaying meat as everything else.
    • If you have an appointment, you'll apologize profusely if you’re ten minutes. Anything more than that and you BETTER have called ahead to let people know what’s up. There’s no excuse not to with everyone wearing bracelets.
    • If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about three feet.
    • Haggling is nearly nonexistent and you have no concept of it. You may know people that have gotten seriously ripped off on foreign trips.
    • You very rarely simply show up at someone's place. People have to invite each other over-- especially if a meal is involved.
    • When you negotiate, you are polite, and that’s that. Some foreigners pay excessive attention to statusn and nearly all of them lie. It’s enough to make you not want to bother.
    • If you have a business appointment or interview with someone, you expect to have that person to yourself, and the business shouldn't take more than ten minutes or so. Really, you can work most of it out with the bracelets or with AURA ahead of time.

    Contest results: tied for second place
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    Re: Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:53 pm


    The Favored don't believe in an afterlife or any deities or other higher powers, but a semi-religious respectful sign known as the Praisefist has developed over time. One clenches the fist of their dominant hand (i.e. right handed people clench their right fist) and hold it against their forehead, head slightly bowed, eyes closed. The first represents the power of humanity. Touching it to the forehead represents memory. Bowing the head with eyes closed represents contemplation. The general translation of this in words is something along the lines of “may this person’s hard work be remembered and provide a lasting contribution to society.” It is used both as a sign of respect to the dead and also to honor those of higher authority that do difficult jobs, similar to a salute but only given to those of higher rank. To Praisefist someone meaninglessly is considered terrible form and is quite the scandal.

    This sign is almost never given to outsiders, but it is not technically taboo to do so. For an outsider to receive a Praisefist gesture from one of the Favored means that the Favored believe someone is acting (or, in the case of the deceased, acted in their life) in accordance with the Favored’s views on the purpose and meaning of life. There is scarcely any praise higher for an outsider to receive.

    Contest results: CRUSHING VICTORY
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    Re: Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:56 pm

    Children of the Favored (minority groups)

    All Favored spend the first fifteen years being grown using genetic recombination in stasis tanks while their minds explore and are educated within the Basin dreamworld, very much similar to how the earliest colonists from First Bastion did. In addition, all Favored, both men and women, are sterilized using nondestructive techniques. Without getting too much into it, the body is fed a certain chemical that encourages it to produce a certain protein, and that protein induces sterility - it can be reversed using very minor surgery, but historically rarely is. While this sort of upbringing has wide-reaching effects on Favored lifestyle - they still fall in love, of course, but marriage closer resembles a business union complete with signed contract - it does mean that there are no Favored citizens under the age of 15 anywhere in the society.

    Small numbers of foreigners live in Real Diamond. Some are there for business, such as a man or woman who trades locally and brought his family to live with him. Though rare, the culture of the Favored appeals to a few outsiders. And there are some people simply wishing to disappear; for all their faults, the Favored can be relied on to protect their citizens or registered foreigners from other outside interference. These people did not undergo mandatory sterilization and naturally started to have children, for which the Favored society was totally unprepared to handle. After a brief period of near violence where the most traditional factions called for the immediate sterilization of any current and future registered foreigner, the expulsion of all foreigners, or the death of them all (depending on the extremity of the faction yelling their demands,) a compromise was reached where women would be required to undergo mandatory sterilization after the birth of their second child and men would at the age of 45. The foreigners weren't particularly happy about this, but given the alternatives, it was accepted with minimal fuss.

    The Favored react to the presence of children in a variety of ways, but the most common one is general distaste. While the right to bring children into many public places is unrestricted by law, it is a common trend for businesses attempting to appeal to the masses to put in sound disruption limits, designed so a crying baby or whining toddler may exceed a certain maximum and be asked to leave. Further restrictions, such as height limits to enter certain areas, were deemed illegal and disrupted. Still, many Favored become uncomfortable or upset if children are nearby, and some will refuse to conduct business under those circumstances.

    On the other hand, there are those that absolutely adore the little tykes, becoming friends with families that have children, setting up businesses such as daycares and schools in the foreign quarter to appeal to the economic needs presented by them, or otherwise doing whatever they can to be around them. Despite centuries of a parent-less society, Favored still have the knack to be caring mothers and fathers, even to someone else's baby. Genetic, some say. Animal instinct to protect and care for the vulnerable, or human instinct to protect the weak, others claim. Having a job that involves children is generally seen as a sign of lower status (having a job that serves mostly foreigners lowers it automatically) and it doesn't make very polite dinner conversation to bring up working or being around the little brats, but those that love their work with the kids generally don't mind what others think of them, and there's no reason for any Favored to go into it if they don't love it.

    Currently, the AURA government doesn't see children as a large enough destabilizing force to require further action and is publicly satisfied with the current arrangement. But the Basin genetic facility will be online for the indefinite future.

    Contest results: 4th place. I vaguely feel like I was robbed on this one.
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    Re: Favored Contest Entries

    Postby Harvey » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:57 pm

    Current Issues

    I have issue with your FACE.

    Contest results: ridiculously crushing victory marred by rampant, spiteful corruption within the authority offices. Much like my 10-year grudge against Shireroth, I will eventually revenge.
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