COUNTER/Weight 00: If Han Solo Used To Be Beyoncé, or: Hashtag Otechku

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Episode description[edit | edit source]

Whether you're a brand new listener or a long time fan, welcome to Friends at the Table, an actual play podcast about critical worldbuilding, smart characterization, and fun interaction between good friends.

This season, we'll be using a combination of games to explore the relationship between individuals, society, and technology. Oh, and uh, there will be lots of giant robots and explosions, too.

All of this will happen across two "tiers" of play. First, in a game of Jeremy Keller's MechNoir, a team of freelance problem solvers living at the galactic crossroads will try to keep a massive cold war from going hot. Then, in a game that will combine elements of Stars Without Number's "Faction Turn" and the open-ended roleplaying of Microscope, we'll zoom out to a higher tier, figuring out what the major organizations of this universe are up to.

In this first, extra-long session, Ali Acampora, Keith Carberry, Jack de Quidt, and Art Tebbel create their MechNoir characters. If you're itching for more content once you finish listening to this episode, then check out our "World Generation" episode here. I've kept the episode out of our main feed because some technical isues impacted the the quality of the recording (and because the whole creating-a-sci-fi-universe-from-whole-cloth thing takes quite a long time.)

Special thanks to Craig Sheldon for knocking the art out of the park for the second season in a row, and to all of the fans who have been waiting patiently for this release!

Opening[edit | edit source]

Counterweight hangs in the center of the Golden Branch star sector; a forked path where the Perseus and Sagittarius arms of the Milky Way come together. Because of its location, life on this planet of billions brims with energy, and an exchange of cultures has led to an exchange of technologies. Automated robots valet vehicles, starships launch in the distance at regular intervals, holographic pop idols perform to holographic crowds. Giant humanoid mechs aid in tasks civil, commercial, and military, and sometimes you look up to them and think: “We could have made them look like anything, but we made them look like us.”

All of this technology exists under a sky dashed with bronze, as flickering energy domes filter the cold, thick air into something more breathable. The sky was scarred at the climax of the Golden War, which brought the Autonomous Diaspora and the People’s Conglomerate of Orion—long rivals—together against the Empire of Apostolos. Now, society on Counterweight largely exists in these domed cities. Life is a struggle, but it is dense and vibrant, too. Personal, family, and industrial sized maglev trainpods connect city to city, flying across the war ruined landscapes at incredibly fast speeds. But the maglevs aren't the only thing out there in the wilderness. There are others. Those who bear the cold so they may live in free exile, outside of the domes they hate.

Things inside the domes are not free of tension either. In the nine years since the war ended, OriCon and the Diaspora have held steady in their ceasefire, but this is a world of subterfuge, politics, and espionage. OriCon was once a worker’s paradise, where walking robots called riggers helped to build a diverse and prosperous civilization. But in the last few centuries, it has become an oligarchy: Massive corporations hold all the power and resources, but they still use the old language of radicalism and revolution and freedom.

The Diaspora is, itself, filled with talk of freedom. Like OriCon, the founders of the Diaspora once lived on Earth, but left in search of a more perfect democracy: one managed by algorithms and interfaces and nanomachines and the constant, tidal ritual of voting. Defending the Diaspora are the Divines, giant robots with strange sentience, each embodying a different virtue of humankind, and each piloted by a Candidate, separate from society so that they may better serve. Both of these galactic powers has its own set of domed habitats on Counterweight, with a handful of cities existing under a third, local power that struggles to keep the peace. To keep this cold war from turning hot.

At the end of the last war, the Golden War, it was a rigger pilot—Jace Rethal—and a Candidate—Addax, who controlled the Divine Peace—who (it is said) sacrificed themselves to stop a terrible plot by the Apostolosian Empire that would’ve doomed not only Counterweight, but many other cities, planets, and stars too. But instead of destruction, there was life: When the light from the explosion cleared, a new celestial body hung in the sky: They called it Weight. A perfect planet, now cautiously inhabited by a small group from both the OriCon and the Diaspora. It taunts those left behind on Counterweight: Its green continents. Its unfrozen seas. It is so far away, but there it is, every night, so, so close.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Keith, Jack, Ali and Art create their characters. Afterwards, there is a short scene of Cene Sixheart on vidcomm excitedly showing the group the new BluSky Dome, only to be interrupted by the arrival of hostile riggers.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Other Characters[edit | edit source]

New Music[edit | edit source]