Modification:The Long Night

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Updated to 2.65

MOD This page includes mods. The content is not part of normal DF as released. Changing game files can sometimes cause unexpected results, and should always be done with care and caution.

Man ruled the solar system, once. In its grand epoch spanning thousands of years, Earth was the jewel of a great solar empire, its every square inch morphed into a sprawling factory city, pumping out countless advanced resources to supply colonies from the clouds of Venus all the way to the moons of Saturn.

None know for sure what happened exactly. Something went wrong, for certain. Perhaps a war between those who pushed for nanomachines to do away with traditional technology and those who viewed its power as uncontrollable. Or it could have been the radical transhumanists who plunged the planet into a new dark age to fuel their own ascent. Man's own hubris, maybe, his rapacious lust for more resources sending the world into a death spiral. Or perhaps, something yet more sinister.

The result, everything knows. Earth's fall called its wayward children of all kinds back to its shattered surface, and the haggard survivors of the fallen colonies found a realm far unlike what was documented in their own histories. A hellish wasteland filled with mutated horrors, half-mad cybernetic demigods, and powers greater still. A world of constant, unending warfare as the children of man fight for the chance to rebuild, and establish their own grandiose vision of the future. Whether it be the great old powers of the ancient Nobles, the first of the new men, the demigod Executors and their slaves, the barbaric Posthumans and their thralls, or even the scattered remnants of true humanity, the future is uncertain. All that can be known is that this night will be long and harsh indeed, and only the hardiest and most determined will even stand a chance of seeing a new dawn.

What is The Long Night?[edit]

"This mod is my attempt at a cyberpunk setting, sort of. Clothing and weapon-wise it has the same trappings as more surreal and far-future cyberpunk dystopias tend to lean towards, but it can also be seen as an anachronistic techno-feudalistic setting. My primary intent with this mod is to really push how far I can take Dwarf Fortress into the future while still having things work in-game and provide a coherent story of humanity and its kindred struggling in a world that is the victim of our own rapaciousness." -squamous

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General Lore[edit]

The Great Solar Empire[edit]

The Great Solar Empire was the dominant civilization prior to the current era. Built from the ashes of countless civilizations and failed attempts at gene-forged supermen and mechanical gods, It would rise to dominate not just the Earth, but the other planets and moons of the solar system as well. Under its guidance, mankind knew untold prosperity and rose to heights previously undreamt of. But it was not a utopia. The Solar Empire was rife with corruption, discrimination, crime, terrorism, and chaos below its pristine surface, but so vast was its reach, populous its citizenry, and mighty its legions that the true breadth of its rot could not be accurately gauged by any but those in the highest positions of power, the elite of the elite who stood above the rest of mankind thanks to closely guarded secrets of mechanical augmentation and the finest of evolutionary retroviruses. Much has been forgotten of this period of history, as the digital archives which recorded it fell into disarray or were destroyed outright.

Earth itself was turned into a titanic, sprawling city, its original shape lost under layers of metal harvested from the asteroid belt. Entire ecosystems were relocated into artificial reserves the size of small countries, and many billions lived and died within its bowels. As it expanded across the solar system, the Empire was careful to ensure that no colony could survive without vital resources shipped to it from the home planet, in order to prevent the threat of independent polities from ever arising. Coupled with this were many millions of soldiers armed with top-of-the-line Exo-Suits, a type of power armor that could give one protection from most small arms fire and could only be defeated by either luck, another Exo-Suit-wearing soldier, or something beyond them in strength. This disparity in both force and resources allowed the Empire to rule unchallenged for many centuries, or perhaps even millennia. This was an era stagnant in some ways but vibrantly blossoming in others. Politically, little seem to change. Technologically, many things developed that were in the past seen as impossible. But it could not last.

The details of its fall, as well, are complex. Multiple factors caused its collapse, from external rebellion to internal strife, but chief among these, it is believed, was the phenomenon known as the Pseudosingularity. The Singularity is, of course, the theory that after a certain point the united technology and databases of man would converge into a spontaneous self-improving entity that would attain as close a state to godhood as we envision, leading to a future incomprehensible to us but is surely either terrible beyond measure or bliss beyond imagining. That is not what happened. If the Singularity can be considered the culmination of a civilization as it births a new, divine being, the Pseudosingularity was cancer spreading across a decrepit body. Advances in biotechnology and nanomechanical evolution allowed machinery and synthetic entities to evolve and reproduce in a manner similar to organic life, albiet slow enough so that such changes could be observed, understood, and if necessary altered by their makers, so that man and its tools would grow together in knowledge and power. But as the Solar Empire began to grow decadent and frail, the knowledge to keep track of the cutting edge of these growing machines was slowly lost, and year by year the observers fell behind the pace of a city running wild, with no end goal in mind. And just like cancer, this unsustainable growth began to kill its host. Entire sectors would find themselves without food or water as the Pseudosingularity warped pipes and destroyed roads. Cities would be gunned down by their own automated security as AIs corrupted or failed to recognize those living there as citizens. The mass decay of infrastructure happened seemingly overnight, but was in truth merely the tipping point of decades of unregulated growth. By the time it had reached the point that even common citizens noticed the danger, it was far too late to stop it. Chaos and destruction ravaged Earth as the entire planet literally fell apart, barely held back from utter ruin by hasty countermeasures and in some cases surgical nuclear strikes on the most dangerous sectors. In the end, however, they could only mitigate the damage so that Earth remained livable, but little else. Swarms of nanomechanical builder mites would conduct basic repairs and keep what was left of the system more or less stable, and artificial ecosystems would be introduced to the surface to give organic life a better chance to thrive. But that was all. Nothing could be done to save the colonies, or re-understand the ever-growing technological systems which now expanded without supervision. Only the most obsessed and knowledgeable could barely keep up, tapping into the power of the world like ancient sages were said to have learned the secrets of the arcane arts. Humanity had entered a new dark age, one which may take thousands of years to recover from.

But if they could.

If something could survive this long night and rebuild the Great Solar Empire, against all odds and forged by the savage brutality of this era into the ultimate victor.

It would surely be something truly monstrous.

Antinirvanism[edit]

During the last era of the Great Solar Empire, many religions as we understood them had faded away under the increasing pressure of science and reason (not to mention the Empire's designs to remove any higher loyalty than the state), leaving only odd syncretic cults and harmless corporate-sponsored pseudo-faiths to placate the masses. However, existing on the fringes of society radical ideas were fomenting, ideas which would serve to drive a wedge through united pan-humanity and spark a long, bloody conflict. Originally known by many names, its basic philosophical tenets were rooted in a semi-esoteric quest for personal power, with believers seeking to train and test themselves to reach ever greater levels of strength and knowledge, even if it meant rejecting civilization and law entirely. In the past, such a belief system would be little more than a contrarian rabble-rousing thorn in the side of authority, but the advent of nanotechnological modification had changed the playing field of society in ways that even in those advanced times few could truly comprehend the significance of. In ancient times, if a person chose to forsake civilization or work alone against it, they would be defeated by or re-integrated into society, since no lone person or small group of people can perpetually stand up against an organized community of their peers. But with innovations in nanotechnology, 3D printing, bioengineering, and other sciences, it became possible for one human to sufficiently upgrade their body to the point that the social contract was no longer required for them to prosper, and they would have the ability to exist outside the organized systems that dominate conventional human life simply through having enough power to take what they needed. Antinirvanism codified and sanctified this discovery, associating it with the Vedic Asuras of ancient myth, the terrible warrior-kings who tried to conquer heaven itself for the sake of their own ego. Instead of taking their story as a parable of the importance of temperance and cohesion, the Asura themselves were glorified and seen as the ideal specimen of the new era, a demigod-like entity which lived for itself and was divorced from creation, beholden to none save those it deigned to acknowledge or with the power to suppress it. Combined with the way technology seemed to have given mankind the power to "reincarnate" into various lesser or stronger forms depending on their capabilities and resources, it was no surprise that other terminology of the old Vedic system was incorporated into the growing movement (and indeed, even today Vedic terminology is used to describe many posthuman concepts and entities out of respect for the humans who first developed the system and devised a means of speaking of it that was cloaked in metaphor and symbolism) as more similarities became apparent. The more esoteric believers (often the ones most talked about in news cycles) saw the road to bodily perfection and ultimate power as a spiritual journey as much as a physical one, and devised many forms of meditation, ritual, and prayer believed to enhance one's willpower and make them more suited for evolution. Others believed that as technology grew on its own through self-learning and self-improvement and became more incomprehensible, it would eventually make more sense to simply treat it as magic, with the reverence and caution that such a thing implies and the impossible heights of power it seemed to promise. In the era of the Long Night, it is this mindset which dominates most Posthuman cultures.

Some of the earliest adopters of Antinirvanism would also be the first to experiment with hereditary nanomachines, the gene-altering microbots that would allow the user to consciously improve and replace its biological processes, upgrade its nanomechanical innards and use them to replace flesh, and design memes and thoughtforms that alter the way it functions psychologically, it while also passing on those alterations to offspring, effectively forcing true Lamarckian evolution into reality. The goal, of course, was to attain the 'Asura-state' of becoming a powerful posthuman entity which could survive even the harshest conditions on its own and exist as a power unto itself. However, many would-be demigods would fall prey to their own shortcomings, fears, and insecurities, their overcautiousness or lack of foresight causing them to neglect maintaining their humanity in the quest for power. Without self-awareness and the subjective experience, a lineage of hereditary cyborgs invariably devolves into a feral and monstrous state, losing any chance of transcendence unless its distant descendants re-evolve sapient thinking on their own.

But some did succeed, of course. The Asura as we know them now are the culmination of Antinirvanistic thought and countless generations of deliberate techno-evolution, though like many philosophies it played out differently in reality than in theory. The social contract remained to an extent, but in posthuman society is focused primarily on the acquistion of power, material comforts, and accomplishing persoal goals rather than ensuring survival, a relatively easy task when you have a body that can metabolize just about anything and rip a man's throat out with your teeth. The additional resources required to produce an Asura keep the population too low to sweep across the earth, leading them to grit their teeth and engage in diplomacy with cultures they once would have thought of only as prey. That said, as the Asura (and other posthumans) reconnect with biological humanity it has been observed that some of the edge has come off of their nature. While they remain alien in many ways, it seems that partial re-integration with human culture has done something to stimulate their more human tendencies, resulting in a culture that continues to value personal might and the quest for power but is slowly being tempered with appreciation for art, culture, and luxury, though given the extent to which posthuman thought-forms have been modified it is likely impossible they will ever completely revert to baseline human psychology, if they would even want such a thing. But they are no longer the imminent sword of Damocles hanging over all biological life, and for many this will be enough.

Cultivator Cyborgs[edit]

If you aren't born an immortal posthuman, then you're likely an organic life form. And if you're an organic life form, then you're doomed to a short, miserable life on a world that you no longer dominate, unless you are one of the few who can command the teeming hordes of mortal soldiers to match the monsters of the current era. However, for those who refuse to be content with mediocrity, a second path awaits. Through studying the datasphere and converting portions of your biology into computronium (essentially, a highly efficient computational matrix), one can surpass their original form to become a cultivator cyborg, one who perpetually strives to gain full understanding of the datasphere and mastery of the nanomechanic cloud that permeates the solar system, learning powerful martial techniques and gaining physical upgrades as they grow more experienced. It is a difficult journey, and few ever find full attainment, much less discover even one technique. However, those who do are powerful indeed, and not to be trifled with. For not only do they unlock the mysteries of cyberization, but so do their progeny. Any being that becomes a cultivator cyborg effectively has the potential to found a powerful dynasty of inhuman cybernetic demigods, demigods who influence much of life on this shattered planet.

The Pale Star Cult[edit]

Humanity is not alone in the void. There is life across countless worlds, civilized and not, though due to the way most develop cloaked information transmissions and wormhole-derived transports it is most difficult to find evidence of them unless they wish to open up themselves to you, or you simply stumble across an inhabited planet. However, a large portion of the space around humanity is devoid of what we would recognize as rational life, and there is a terrible reason behind this. For just outside the vision of men, whose light rays only have recently reached our planet, there is a star. And this star thinks.

It is a sapient being, a massive calculating engine whose otherworldly spectrum of light allows for the instant transmission of information from its core to anywhere its rays reach. It plants unnatural thoughts in the minds of those who spend too long staring at its baleful green glow, and soon enough they find themselves under its thrall completely. The Pale Star grants incredible power of its own, but robs the user of their will in enough time, always resulting in a hollowed-out thing of burning flame, which amplifies its light and the reality-warping power it bestows. There are whole worlds, in the black, wreathed in green coronas of fire, perpetually feeding off of a writhing mass of flesh that was once that planet's population. It uses these lantern worlds to further its reach, and increase its intelligence. Earth, however, has proven a tougher nut to crack. The sheer insanity of its growth and collapse, spawning inhuman horrors which can lay low the best of its war-forms, has prevented it from subsuming this world as it has dozens of others. For now, it simply remains a lurking shade, waiting for the chance it can bring this planet to its knees, and birth a cruel new existence from its ashes.

The Datasphere[edit]

The Datasphere is the term for the electronic world that permeates the material one, perpetually surrounding the entire solar system in the form of a network of nanomachines that act as a literal cloud-computer, hanging in the sky and saturated into the ground, bringing ever-present power and knowledge to those who can properly tap into it. The 'gods' people worship, for example, are very real, but are in fact simply powerful intelligences which exist as disembodied beings in the Datasphere. They could be ascended humans who have left the material realm, or beings born into it, or both, or something else. None can say for certain, but all know that by studying and communing with them one can gain incredible power.

Ghosts, too, are akin to this. They are swarms of nanomachines which congregate around intense emotion in the datasphere, like the last moments of a living person. They can exert deadly force and are notoriously difficult to get rid of, so the best option is to just inter the body and put the last emotions of the victim to rest. It should be noted the ghost is not actually them, but just an echo formed by the final thoughts of the dying being.

It should also be noted that a corpse, if properly preserved, may retain traces of the original owner's psyche. As long as the body remains more or less intact, there is rumored to be a technique capable of restoring them to full health. But is it truly the same person who died, or merely a perfect duplicate with the same memories? Who can say.

Related Pages[edit]

The Long Night: Civilizations
The Long Night: Weapons
The Long Night: Armor
The Long Night: Materials
The Long Night: Creatures
The Long Night: Plants
The Long Night: Technomancy
The Long Night: Adventure Mode