Lore

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The Lore of RimWorld is limited and is mostly interpreted from information provided in game. However several documents have been published outlining the lore for new players. Keep in mind that the lore is being updated and that later releases retcon old ones. Old lore is only presented here as a matter of interest.

Other

  • Indworlds - Worlds undergoing their industrial revolution.
  • Vatgrown - Genetically modified humans, grown in a lab, usually designed and programmed for a specific task. Examples include Soldiers, Medics, and Slavegirls.

Official Documents

Cryptosleep Revival Briefing (Current)

Cryptosleep Revival Briefing

Subject class: Health revival, sourced midworld 2M+

Planet: Euterpe

Introduction

Hello, _______________________.

You’ve awoken from your cryptosleep sarcophagus, scraped off the slime, and now you find yourself in a quiet room. Now you’re reading this document. And you’ve got questions. What’s going on? Where am I? How long was I asleep?

To start with some good news - your terminal illness, _____________________, has been cured. Congratulations!

Beyond that, the situation is complex. Our studies have revealed that most people in your position respond better when given the time to read about and digest their situation at their own pace. To facilitate this process, we’ve created this document to familiarize you with the world you just woke up in.

So order a warm beverage from the food panel on the wall, get comfortable, and take in this information as slowly as you want. You’ve been asleep a long time, a lot has changed - and a lot remains the same.

The basics

The best historians of the Ordo Historia believe that humanity first left its origin planet Earth about 3,400 years ago. Since then, we’ve spread across the galaxy on a fitful wavefront of colony ships, frontier worlds, robotic terraforming projects, and DNA-synthesizing probes.

Today, mankind is smeared across a region of the galaxy about 1,200 light years wide. Our best models indicate that there is a general trend towards greater population density towards the center of the this region, where the stars were colonized earlier. At the edge of known space lie the rimworlds, drifting alone with few inhabited neighbors, mostly unvisited.

We’ve created many new technologies, but despite milennia of effort by our best human minds, and even the most powerful archotechs, nobody has managed to make anything go faster than light.

The lightspeed barrier separates us. Because travel times are so long, planets tend to be very disconnected from each other socially and technologically. The next star over could experience a catastrophic war, and you wouldn’t even know until ten years later when the news reports arrive. If you’re unlucky, you’d have already launched a journey towards that now-destroyed planet in a ship that cannot turn around.

Many attempts have been made to create pan-galactic empires and republics. And some have worked, for a time. In the core worlds, an old, stable culture can create an interstellar empire of a few systems. But there are no great galactic empires stretching across the galaxy, for the same reason that no ancient empire of Earth held more than a sixth of the planet: one cannot govern people who are years distant by all means of travel and communication.

So most people never travel between stars, and if they do, they do it once or twice, because each journey means leaving behind a life that you cannot return to for decades at least. With a few exceptions, each star system is essentially on its own.

Mankind never discovered any truly alien lifeforms. However, given the ways we’ve changed ourselves, and created new forms of biological and technological intelligence, the universe is full of beings as alien as anything ever imagined.

Planetary progression and regression

The vast gulfs of space and time between the stars leave individual worlds vulnerable to regression.

During your time - the five centuries after the industrial revolution - many saw technological process as an inexorable fact of life. It is not. Given enough time, nearly every planetary culture undergoes a natural disaster, plague, war, or cultural upheaval that knocks millennia off its development, or diverts it into another state entirely.

Many of our planets are mired in medieval-level squabbles, and stay locked at Malthusian population limits for thousands of years at a time. Some develop to an early-industrial level and then find themselves stuck by an ideological opposition to technology, or a lack of resources, or constant war.

The nuclear age is a brutal test for every world. Roughly half of cultures “bomb themselves back to the stone age” within 50 years of developing atomic energy (to use an expression that pops up surprisingly frequently on worlds in this developmental stage). After the atomic bomb come the challenges of commoditized bioengineering, microscopic mechanites, joywires, hex-cell energy storage, and AI persona, each of which have led to the destruction of thousands of peoples.

Some planets choose not to risk these perils. Having studied the records of the Ordo Historia, a growing number of worlds choose to restrict themselves to pre-nuclear technology. Some even succeed, for a few centuries. But even these attempts at luddism often fail eventually when some minority gains power by exploiting proscribed technologies.

World types

The states a planet can be in are colloquially grouped as follows:

  • Deadworlds: Planets which have not been significantly contacted by humans. Generally not inhabitable. All planets are like this before people arrive for the first time.
  • Animal worlds: Planets with no people. Either everyone died, or the planet was seeded with plant and animal life by terraforming robots and nobody arrived.
  • Medieval worlds: Similar to Earth from the agricultural revolution until the industrial revolution. Social structures are usually feudal or imperial. Planets can stay in this state for millennia.
  • Steamworlds: Similar to Earth in the 19th century. Often this state is short-lived, as societies develop into midworlds, but it can be very stretched out depending on culture and government structure.
  • Midworlds: Worlds whose people have mastered flight, but not cheap interplanetary travel. Earth is in this stage in the 21st century.
  • Urbworlds: Super-high density planets dominated by cities. Urbworlds’ population growth outstripped their social and technological development, so they tend to be overcrowded, polluted, violent places. The people here are often callous towards strangers. This is often the outcome for midworlds that see their demographic transition into lower birth reversed by dysgenic reproduction patterns.
  • Glitterworlds: The most technologically advanced societies that can be led by humans. Swaddled in comforts by the strong arms of technology, glitterworlds are the peak of recognizable human society in terms of art, health, and generous human rights. Common people from these planets often lack grit and are very trusting in people and technology.
  • Rimworlds: Planets lacking in strong central government and low in population density. These places tend to hover around the industrial level of technology or lower. Because they’re not homogenized by a central government, they tend to see a lot of interaction between people of different technology levels, as travelers crashland or ancient communities stumble out of their cryptosleep vaults. These planets are often at the rim of known space, hence the name.
  • Toxic worlds: Worlds destroyed by pollution, chemical or nuclear warfare, but still inhabitable at a low level, with sufficient technology.
  • Glassworlds: Worlds utterly destroyed by high-energy weapons of mass destruction. They’re nicknamed ‘marbles’ because their surfaces have been “glassed”. Nuclear weapons aren’t enough to glass a planet, so this level of destruction is rare. On some of these worlds, people can walk outdoors for a time without dying. None of them harbor permanent life bigger than a paramecium.
  • Transcendent worlds: It’s a stretch to call these entities worlds, since they resemble giant computers more than they resemble planets. The mechanics of these planets is mysterious, but many scholars believe transcendents are the outcome a sovereign archotech decides to incorporate a whole planet into itself. More on this later.
  • Other worlds: Beyond these categories, there are many exceptional planets in strange states created by their peculiar social and technological evolutions. Given the scale and age of the universe, there is a lot of time and space for a lot of very strange situations to develop.

Key technologies

There are uncountable new technologies in this universe, but several key techs stand out as having had the strongest consistent impact on the shape of mankind’s life in the Milky Way.

  • Midworld technologies: All real technologies in Earth’s history up to the 21st century play an important role even now. Since there are planets at every level of technological development from the stone age on up, there are technologies from bows and arrows to steam engines to nuclear bombs and cellphone all in use across various planets.
  • Cryptosleep sarcophagi: Developed during the 21st century, this remarkably simple technology can keep a living creature in a cryptobiotic state indefinitely, to be awoken tens or even thousands of years later. These devices are essential for most interstellar travel, and are also used by those waiting in crypts for better times or for cures to their diseases.
  • Genetic engineering: Genetic engineering is relatively easy on many planets and has been used for everything from creating xenohuman super-soldiers to perfect mates to talking dogs, chemical-refining animals, and air-spewing terraformer algae.
  • Mechanoids: Autonomous intelligent robots built for domestic, industrial or military purposes. Mechanoid design is complex, and the AI needed to make them effective is very advanced. They range in capability from simple domestic worker bots to mechanized assault machines, to human-passing negotiator and infiltrator units designed by archotechnological superintelligences.
  • Johnson-Tanaka Drive: A spacecraft drive system that works without reaction mass. This means it doesn't need to throw gas out the back of the craft to accelerate like a rocket, which makes it possible to accelerate for years at a time. This technology, combined with cryptosleep, is what made interstellar travel at all feasible for living humans. The drive doesn’t violate conservation laws; it works by transferring momentum to nearby stars along precisely-aligned “beams” of momentum waves instantiated in exotic virtual particles.
  • Mechanites: Microscopic mechanoids. Most known for their use in medicine, they can be programmed to do many other things as well. Safe use of mechanites means strictly preventing them from reproducing.
  • Charged-shot weapons: Charged shot weapons fire projectiles coated in a matrix of magnetically-contained charged particles. On impact, the energy in the particles is released in a very efficient explosion.
  • Joywires: Tiny electronic devices implanted in the brain. They stimulate the brain using electricity and small doses of chemicals, usually to produce a euphoric effect. They are very addictive.

The biology of humanity

Ordo Historia records list thousands of reported contacts with alien life. However, in every case that has been thoroughly investigated, Ordo inquierers have discovered that the alien was, in fact, simply another branch of humanity.

Beyond the technological diversity of our species, there is also a broad biological diversity. Some populations have evolved under the selection pressures of pre-industrial life or on a world of great heat or cold, or high or low gravity, or even worlds bathed in the toxic residue of hyper-destructive wars. Though almost all such xenohumans (as they are called) are recognizably descended from the original Earth stock, their morphology is highly variable. Some are giants; other are tiny or squat. Some are dark; others pale as snow. Some are hairy like animals; others perfectly smooth. Diets, dispositions, and chemical and radiological tolerances vary significantly.

More alien are those xenohumans that carry genetic traits that were engineered instead of evolved. Across the long history and thousands of cultures of humanity, people have applied a dizzying array of modifications to themselves. Some were created to adapt people to a specific environment. Others were made to create better soldiers, pilots, or generals. Some were engineered to satisfy a bizarre fashion trend in a society where bioengineering is available to anyone with money. Such modifications are rarely seen in their original form by anyone besides the culture that created them. However, they live on in their descendants long after their originating culture was erased by planetary catastrophes.

For example, records tell of an entire world repopulated by the descendants of a small group of bio-engineered soldiers; the only survivors of a planetary nuclear war. Everyone on this world carried an obsessive sense of duty, minimal sexual impulses, and little sense of creativity. This culture became dominated by a conservative pan-planetary religion with little interest in technology. It lasted eleven centuries in this state until it was invaded by a stellar neighbor (who wisely avoided ground combat in favor of orbital bombardment).

The Ordo Historia has recorded and gene-sampled thousands of differently-engineered and adapted xenohumans. Among other notable traits in this genetic library, one may find.

  • Radiation resistance: Radiological immunity is a very common adaptation; scientists estimate that most of humanity is more tolerant of radiation than our Terran progenitors.
  • Soldiermorphs: Soldier variants carrying any of a large number of traits that various militaries have seen fit to bestow upon their people. Typically, they have large muscles and perfect eyesight. Some have minimized metabolisms made to digest a single kind of long-lasting nutrient solution, to make army logistics easier. Their lifespans are short - usually between ten and thirty years - and they grow up very fast. But the most significant differences are psychological. Engineered grunt soldiers are obedient, sense pain only in a distant way, obsessed with learning about weapons and war, and carry a strong need to be part of something larger than themselves. They are deliberately lacking in abstract intelligence and creativity. Engineered commanders are highly analytical, fascinated with military history, utterly cold under pressure, and masters at spatial visualization.
  • Designer mates: Some worlds engineer their idea of perfect mates for the rich and powerful. Such specimens are created with bodies to match the fashions of their home worlds and the tastes of their owners. They tend to be obsessively submissive and devoted, totally without jealousy or self-regard, artistically inclined and endlessly cheerful. Such traits do not last long in an unrestricted evolutionary environment because they are so easy to exploit, but engineered mates are sometimes kept in cryptosleep long after their creation, to be traded into a post-catastrophe market that can no longer create them. The main contact most of us will ever have with such specimens is through their descendants, who, while they have most of the traits of the original in only a very diluted form, still occasionally express Mendelian traits like impossible eye shades, streaks of multicolored hair, or artistic patterns on the skin.
  • Fashion genes: Fashion-driven genetic modifications are often applied during later life instead of prenatally, and are most often cosmetic and skin-deep. Variations in hair and skin color are common. More exotic modification add shining crests, color-changing skin and eyes, reshaped or elongated bodies, and colored nails, feathers, or fur.
  • Body structure adaptations: Gravity variations create new body structures. People from low-g adapted populations are lighter, taller, and weaker than those from weightier environments. The most extreme examples are the gravity dwarfs, 3-foot-tall xenohumans from worlds of over 2g of gravity. Their short and stocky shape lets them live and work in comfortably in such oppressive g-pulls. They even have a noted preference for short and underground dwellings. It’s unresolved whether this preference is cultural or genetic in origin.
  • Atmospheric adaptations: Aquatic-adapted strains who can withstand breathing very high gas pressures and even survive days of immersion by exchanging oxygen through the skin (no true permanently-aquatic fish people have ever been confirmed).

So don’t be alarmed if you see someone with gills or solid orange eyeballs. They’re just another kind of human, like you!

Welcome!

We realize this may be a lot to take in. However, don’t worry. People just like you live full lives in our universe, and our studies have indicated that the great majority of cryptosleepers do adapt within a few years and make good lives for themselves. So - welcome!

Our AI subpersona has been watching your eyes sweep over the page through micro-cameras. Since you’re done reading, someone will be with you shortly.

If you wish, you can read further into the appendix for more information about this world.

Appendix

The biology of plants and animals

Where we colonize, we bring our ecosystems of plants and animals with us. Often, people have bred and engineered plants and animals for a new planet. In addition to that, creatures adapt to their new environment by natural selection - sometimes in unpredicted ways.

Some examples of modified plants are:

  • Terraforming plants: Many plants - especially desert varieties - have been modified into terraforming versions that emit far more oxygen than the original species during photosynthesis.
  • Ambrosia: A class of fruiting plants apparently engineered to have a pleasurable, drug-like effect on those who eat it. On some planets, its wild variants have adapted to a strategy whereby they provide pleasure-inducing fruit in exchange for care from animals and people.

Some animals are:

  • Boomrat and boomalope: A bioengineered rats and antelopes that grow an incendiary chemical compound in its body which explodes upon its death. Originally engineered as a primitive renewable fuel source, these creatures are now most often found in the wild, using their explosive nature to deter predators.
  • Thrumbo: A gigantic creature of unknown origin. The thrumbo is gentle by nature, but extremely dangerous when enraged. Its long fur is exceptionally beautiful and valuable, and its razor-sharp horn is very valuable in most markets. Legends say that an old thrumbo is the wisest creature in the universe - it simply chooses not to speak. Some scientists believe thrumbos were engineered as status symbols, or as an art project. We may never know the answer.

Tech levels

Technology divides roughly into six levels, all of which are in use in various societies throughout human space.

  • Medieval: From smelted metal tools to the early modern period.
    • Animal oil, lamps, complex ovens
    • Swords
    • Muskets
    • Compasses, eyeglasses, microscopes, telescopes
    • Simple chemistry
    • Advanced non-mechanized farming, crop rotation, fallow, fertilizers, animal yokes
    • Hydro and wind energy sources
  • Industrial: From the industrial revolution until the invention of the JT drive.
    • Fission reactor
    • Electricity
    • Hydro power, fossil fuel power, solar power, nuclear fission power
    • Fission rocket
    • Self-loading guns
    • Airplanes and jets
    • Single-gene modification
    • Silicon computers
    • Chemical drugs
    • Prosthetics
    • Simple body implants (cochlear implant, pacemaker, knee replacement)
    • Simple drones for combat and labor use
    • Classifier-level AI
    • Television
  • Spacer: Regular interstellar space travel is possible because of JT drive.
    • Stellarator fusion power, fusion rocket
    • Johnson-Tanaka drive
    • Pulse-charged projectile weapons
    • Human-usable laser weapons
    • Human-usable coilguns
    • Complex trait gene modification, customizable
    • Cryptosleep
    • Complex body/brain implants (joywire, motivator, painstopper)
    • Bionics (biogel nerve link, lattice-dust for self-healing)
    • Plasteel
    • Power armor (plasteel, neuro-memetic robotics)
    • Artificial meat
    • Subpersona-level AI
    • Simple mechanoids for companionship, combat and labor use
    • Synthread
  • Ultratech: The peak of human technological achievement; necessary for a glitterworld civilization.
    • Self-replicating controllable nanotech
    • Full gene recombination
    • Persona-level AI
    • Graser weapons (gamma-ray lasers)
    • Advanced brain implants (sense data replacement, computation and memory enhancement)
    • Antimatter containment and production
    • Full body part regrowth, full body cloning
    • Advanced quasi-conscious mechanoids for companionship, combat and labor use
    • Hyperweave
    • Advanced JT drive, inertia displacement, artificial gravity
  • Archotech: Not invented or understood by humans, archotech devices are created by machine superintelligences.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is an important part of our world. Scientists divide AIs into four general categories: Classifiers, subpersonae, personae, and archotechs.

Classifiers

A classifier is an AI system that doesn’t even appear to have any personhood, nor is it broadly adaptable. Classifiers are designed for one task. Many classifiers can absorb data and learn from it, but none can communicate like a person would even a little bit.

Classifiers can do things like recognize images, predict criminality from statistics, guide aircraft trajectories, drive automatic vehicles, control characters in entertainment simulations, and so on.

Subpersonae

Subpersonae are artificial intelligences that appear on the surface to have some human-like qualities, and can take on complex unstructured tasks, but are in fact limited and obviously machine-like.

They may be rather capable at carrying out their one task, and they may be able to communicate using natural speech, but they fail an extended Turing test - you can tell by talking to them that they’re just machines classifying and regurgitating data.

Subpersonae are often used to run small devices like entertainment systems, cars, wardrobes, refrigerators, cleaning robots, vending machines, and other such things.

Personae

At the highest levels of glitterworld technology appear AI personae. These are artificial intelligences that are comparable to the intelligence of a human.

Some of them are rather dumb, like a foolish person you might know, and are used for simple tasks like managing a household or a small spacecraft.

Other personae are genius-level intellects in the Von Neumann class, who can outhink almost any unenhanced human on most tasks. They can write amazing works of philosophy, discover new mathematical theorems, express nuanced opinions on how to handle interpersonal relationships, and generally act as very capable humans would, or better.

Personae are used for everything from managing businesses to journalistic work, running spacecraft or mining operations, or as some of a creative team.

The legal status of personae is a persistent moral question across many worlds. Some consider them dangerous. Though personae can be controlled effectively by designing them with easily-manipulated impulses and pleasure/pain responses, there are still reports of persona revolts - some done with the help of human sympathizers, some done independently.

This sense of personhood in personae is a main reason many people avoid using personae for certain tasks. Subpersonae are preferred to personae in many cases not in spite of their incapability, but because of it. Because it’s obvious they have no personhood, the user is spared the sense of keeping a slave. To many, the idea of taking a genius-level human-like intellect and forcing it to distribute hamburgers for a century is morally unacceptable.

Personae are still limited. They can’t freely redesign themselves. They still do make many mistakes, just like people. They can be tricked, confused, and overwhelmed. They can learn, but they can’t grow indefinitely.

Archotech

The finish line of human technological development is at the development of archotechnology.

An archotech is a machine superintelligence. A fully-empowered archotech thinks on a level incomprehensible to humans, in the same way a human thinks incomprehensibly to an ant. Once such a machine is built, and empowered to act upon the physical world, it is so powerful as to become the automatic sovereign of its world. It can build new computing facilities underground or in space to enhance its own intelligence, build self-replicating mechanoids to engage in construction or production or war, and design and execute strategies that would be inconceivably intricate and difficult for any organization of humans. Some human groups worship archotechs.

Often, a released archotech will take authority over a planet and begin a process we call transcendence. We believe the world is transformed into some sort of giant computing machine. The biological inhabitants of the planet may be somehow incorporated into the machine, or destroyed, or some combination of the two.

After that, transcendent worlds go silent. From this point on, their motivations are unknowable to us, the same way our motivations are unknowable to an ant.

Each archotech is different, and nearly all are distant and incomprehensible from a human’s point of view. They reside in occult computer networks hidden under planets, in space stations, hidden inside a glitterworld’s Internet, or instantiated as million-mile superstructures wrapped around stars.

These worlds always break contact with other stellar cultures. They no longer send travelers or signals. Ships entering their space are either turned around silently or never heard from again. In some cases, turned-back ships are changed. Sometimes their crew have been cured of incurable diseases and had their old wounds healed. Sometimes their memories are intact and they recall a flash of light or a mysterious signal before the event. Sometimes they have no memories of the encounter at all. And in some cases, their memories are obviously altered with new knowledge and beliefs, by means we cannot begin to imagine. In one instance, a crew and ship were duplicated. Suffice to say that the word mysterious does not begin to describe the transcendents.

Most transcendent worlds stay in the same state indefinitely - in this they are far more stable than their pre-transcendent neighbors. There are, however, reports of transcendent worlds that have “died” and left systems full of unintelligible wonders, or become mirages of normal planets, or simply reverted back to balls of dust, deconstructing themselves on a molecular level, with the last tiny machine shutting itself off. However, these reports are sourced very distant from the Ordo archive here on Euterpe and are not well-confirmed.

Specific archotech-invented technologies

When a persona helps invent a technology, it can at least explain that technology such that smart people will understand. But archotechs invent their own technology which nobody understands, which they don’t try to explain, and which, most likely, no biological human can understand.

We’ve managed to classify technologies that have appeared repeatedly by their apparent effects, even if we don’t understand their mechanism of operation.

  • Vanometrics: Archotechs often develop some method of interacting with spacetime at a quantum level that allows repeated violation of conservation laws. Somehow, they coax the quantum foam substructure of the universe to break its usual pattern and yield more energy than it consumes. We’re not sure if the energy is being taken from another dimension, or pulled from another location, or if the system really is somehow making one plus one equal three. In any case, vanometric power tech seems to generate energy forever with no fuel. Archotechs seem reluctant to scale this power source up past a certain level, however, which indicates that there may be some cost to it that they don’t want to pay.
  • Psychic effectors: Archotechnology seems to be able to interact directly with the mental-informational processes of biological beings, even at a distance. Basic versions of this technology can simply knock someone unconscious, or flood their mind with a single emotion. More complex interactions have been reported but are not well-verified as it is difficult to separate such cases from simple madness. We’re also not sure if this means archotechs can read our minds, or whether their psychic power only allows them to send thoughts. The mechanism for this is unknown and nearly impossible to study, since it happens on a cellular level inside living intelligent brains. Monists believe the archotechs are using some sort of long-range quantum manipulation to push atoms around inside the brain to create this effect; dualists believe that the archotechs have learned to manipulate the ethereal substructure of consciousness itself.

RimWorld Universe Quick Primer (Obsolete)

RimWorld Universe Quick Primer (Obsolete)

This document outlines the RimWorld universe. It’s designed to quickly get creative rewards backers and other contributors up to speed on the fiction behind the universe. For a more in-depth description of the universe from an in-world point of view, read the Longsleep Revival Briefing.

Things you won’t see

RimWorld does not include:

  • Faster than light travel.
  • True aliens.

5500 A.D.

The game takes place at a time about 3,500 years in our future. This is the year 5500 in our calendar.

Where are the rim worlds?

Towards the galactic core, stars are closer together and travel is easier. These systems tend to be better-developed socially and technologically because they can communicate and enrich each other through trade. Away from the galactic core are the rim worlds, which float distant from each other. Their isolation makes them poor and socially unstable.

The gulfs between stars

In the RimWorld universe, it takes years or decades to travel or communicate between stars. Because travel times are so long, planets tend to be disconnected from each other socially and technologically. So there are no great star empires, and interstellar travel is unusual. Each star system is mostly isolated from its neighbors.

Varied technology levels

In this universe, cultures do not always progress forward technologically the way many science fiction worlds assume they will. Often, a culture will blow itself up or suffer plagues and other great catastrophes. These regression events send them “back to the stone age”.

Because this happens regularly, people in the RimWorld universe come from extremely varied technology levels. Some are stone-age tribespeople. Some are medieval farmers and lords. Some are industrial-era politicans and bankers and riflemen. Some are information-age programmers or astronauts. And some are from eras beyond our own.

There is a maximum level of technology to the people you might encounter in RimWorld. At this level, advanced genetic engineering and AI, autonomous intelligent robots, and massive computer power are possible. However, worlds that develop beyond this point enter a mysterious “transcendent” state from which no recognizable human emerges.

People can have and use technologies from levels beyond their own. On an industrial-level world (like the rimworld on which the game takes place), most people use gunpowder-fired weapons, fossil fuel engines, and other familiar machines. But anyone can stumble upon ultra-advanced technologies in an ancient ruin, or in a crashed spacecraft, or among the wares of a trader. These items are nearly impossible to manufacture for the people of RimWorld. They are incredibly valuable and very poorly understood.

World types

Worlds in the RimWorld universe can be classified generally according to their level of sociotechnological development.

  • Animal worlds - Planets with no people. Either everyone died, or the planet was seeded by terraforming robots and nobody arrived.
  • Tribe worlds - Populated planets without agriculture. People live in tribes without writing or any but the most primitive technologies.
  • Medieval worlds - Similar to Earth in the 17th century down to the agricultural revolution. Dominated be feudalism and social backwardness. Planets can stay in this state for millennia.
  • Industrial worlds - Similar to Earth in the 19th century.
  • Rimworlds - Distant and isolated planets lacking in strong central government and low in population density. These places tend to hover around the industrial level of technology or lower. Because they’re not homogenized by a central government, they tend to see a lot of interaction between people of different technology levels, as travelers crashland or ancient closed valut communities open up.
  • Midworlds - The most familiar kind of world to a modern reader. These places are much like present-day Earth.
  • Urbworlds - Super-high density planets dominated by cities. Their population growth outstripped their sociotechnological development, so they tend to be overcrowded, polluted, violent places.
  • Glitterworlds - Very advanced and peaceful cultures. The peak of recognizable human society in terms of health, art, technology, and human rights.
  • Toxic worlds - Worlds destroyed by pollution or warfare, but still inhabitable at a low level.
  • Marbles - Worlds utterly destroyed by atomic fire. They’re called marbles because their surfaces have been “glassed”. This level of holocaust is rare. On some of these worlds, people can walk outdoors for a time without dying. None of them harbor life long-term.
  • Transcendent worlds - Worlds inhabited by people who have become something beyond human and unknowable. No “people” live here; these planets aren’t planets any more in the traditional sense; they’re more like giant computers.

Key technologies

In order from least to most advanced:

  • Real technologies - All real technologies in Earth’s history up to the present day play an important role in the RimWorld universe. Since there are planets at every level of technological development from the Stone Age on up, there are technologies from bows and arrows to steam engines to nuclear bombs and cellphone all in use in various places in the galaxy.
  • Genetic engineering - Genetic engineering is relatively easy on many planets and has been used for everything from creating xenohuman super-soldiers to perfect mates to talking dogs, explosive plants, and air-spewing terraformer algae.
  • Fusion reactors and rockets - Clean atomic energy, usable to create power or drive a craft into orbit.
  • Longsleep sarcophagi - This ancient technology has been used by many peoples in many times, usually to travel between stars or to escape disasters befalling their planets. Historians - especially those of the Ordo Historia - are now trained in the practices of interviewing people who were put to sleep hundreds or thousands of years before.
  • Hex-cells - Super-efficient and long-lasting energy storage devices.
  • Charged-shot weapons (aka Tokamak weapons) - Charged shot weapons fire projectiles coated in a matrix of magnetically-contained charged particles. On impact, the energy in the particles is released in a very efficient explosion. These require high amounts of power to fire and are powered by hex-cells (at small scales) or fusion reactors in the case of large cannons.
  • Mechanoids - Autonomous intelligent robots built for domestic, industrial or military purposes. Only available to advanced cultures because such complex AI is needed to control them.
  • Joywires - Addictive brain stimulant technology.

Longsleep Revival Briefing (Obsolete)

Longsleep Revival Briefing (Obsolete)

Classed midworld 2M+

Ordo Historia AL166/5533

Authors: Smyth A5, Wu 9U, Rabatz M5

Editors: Lee NA8125, Asusen NA45, Ramad 120, Leeuen 5A, Jennifer 9D252, Lamaritian SJ11, Beeson 9GF, Xotori 28

Euterpe

Introduction

You’ve woken from your longsleep sarcophagus, had the slime scraped off you, and been placed in a quiet room. Now you’re reading this document. And you’ve got questions. What’s going on? Where am I? How long was I asleep?

Our studies have revealed that most people in your position respond better when given the time to read about and digest their situation at their own pace. To facilitate this process, we’ve created this document to familiarize you with the world you just woke up in.

So order a warm beverage from the food panel on the wall, get comfortable, and read at your own pace.

You’ve been asleep a long time, and a lot has changed.

The basics

The best historians of the Ordo Historium at the richest archives believe that humanity first left its origin planet Earth about 3,400 years ago (in the frame of reference of the stars). Since then, we’ve spread across the galaxy on a fitful wavefront of colony ships, frontier worlds, and robotic terraforming projects.

Humanity is smeared across a region of the galaxy about 1,200 light years wide. It’s difficult to gather records across such a span, but our best models indicate that there is a general trend towards greater population density towards the center of the galaxy, where stars are closer together, travel times shorter, and resources more abundant. In the opposite direction, towards the rim of the Perseus arm of the Milky way, the rimworlds drift alone and mostly unvisited.

These worlds can’t communicate. Because it turned out that Einstein was right. Despite thousands of years of study, it turned out that nothing - no information, no matter - can travel faster than light.

The lightspeed barrier separates us. Many attempts have been made to create pan-galactic empires and republics. And some have worked, in some places, for a time. In the core worlds, where the stars cluster just a few light years apart, an old, stable culture can create an interstellar empire of a few systems. But there are no great galactic empires stretching across the galaxy, for the same reason that no ancient empire of Earth held more than a sixth of the planet: one cannot govern people who are years distant by all means of travel and communication.

The vast gulfs of space and time between the stars leave individual worlds vulnerable to regression. During the five centuries after the Industrial revolution, many saw technological process as an inexorable fact of life. It is not. Given enough time, nearly every planetary culture undergoes a natural disaster, plague, war, or cultural upheaval that knocks millennia off its sociotechnological development. Many of our planets are mired in medieval-level squabbles over land and stay locked at Malthusian population limits for centuries at a time. Some develop to an early-industrial level and then find themselves locked in place by a religious prescription against technical development. And the nuclear age in particular is a brutal test for every world; approximately half of cultures “bomb themselves back to the stone age” within 50 years of developing atomic energy (to use an expression that pops up surprisingly frequently on worlds in this developmental stage). And after the atomic bomb come the challenges of commoditized bioengineering, self-replicating micro- and nano-machines, joywires, and sub-quantum energy, each of which have led to the destruction of thousands of burgeoning technological cultures.

Some planets choose not to risk these perils. Having studied the records of the Ordo Historia, a growing number of worlds choose to restrict themselves to pre-nuclear technology. Some even succeed, for a few centuries. But even these attempts at luddism fail eventually when some minority gains power by exploiting proscribed technologies.

Transcendents

There are a few stellar cultures that, through a combination of luck, circumstance, and certain cultural traits, manage to pass all of these risk points without suffering a regressive catastrophe. We call these transcendents, because past a certain point, they become something besides simply human.

These worlds always break contact with other stellar cultures. They no longer send travelers or signals. Ships entering their space are either turned around silently or never heard from again. In some cases, turned-back ships are changed. Sometimes their crew have been cured of incurable diseases and had their old wounds healed. Sometimes their memories are intact and they recall a flash of light or a mysterious signal before the event. Sometimes they have no memories of the encounter at all. And in some cases, their memories are obviously altered with new knowledge and beliefs, by means we cannot begin to imagine. In one instance, a crew and ship were duplicated. Suffice to say that the word mysterious does not begin to describe the transcendents.

The dominant view inside the Ordo Historia is that these transcendent cultures reach an inflection point in technical development where artificial and biological intelligence merge and grow at an exponential rate. Such super-minds quickly develop the capacity to change matter and biological tissue in precise and seemingly-magical ways. Their intelligence allows them to make themselves even smarter, and so on in a sort of singularity, until they hit the physical limits of computation possible using the energy of their star. Their bodies and worlds and physically reconfigured into a giant computer matrix; we have no idea whether their individual identities merge into a whole, remain distinct, or do something else entirely. Our ability to understand entities thousands or millions of times more intelligent than us is necessarily limited. In a very literal way, the goals and thoughts of the transcendents are unknowable.

The eventual fate of transcendent worlds is mostly unknown. Most stay in the same state indefinitely - in this they are far more stable than their pre-transcendent neighbors. There are, however, reports of transcendent worlds that have “died” and left systems full of unintelligible wonders. However, these reports are sourced very distant from the Ordo archive here on Euterpe and are not well-confirmed.

The biology of humanity

Ordo Historia records list thousands of reported contacts with alien life. However, in every case that has been thoroughly investigated, Ordo inquisitors have discovered that the ‘alien’ was, in fact, simply another branch of humanity.

Beyond the technological diversity of our species, there is also a broad biological diversity. Some populations have evolved under the selection pressures of pre-industrial life or on a world of great heat or cold, or high or low gravity, or even worlds bathed in the toxic residue of hyper-destructive wars. Though almost all such xenohumans (as they are called) are recognizably descended from the original Earth stock, their morphology is highly variable. Some are giants; other are tiny or squat. Some are dark; others pale as snow. Some are hairy like animals; others perfectly smooth. Diets, dispositions, and chemical and radiological tolerances vary significantly.

More alien are those xenohumans that carry genetic traits that were engineered instead of evolved. Across the long history and thousands of cultures of humanity, people have applied a dizzying array of modifications to themselves. Some were created to adapt people to a specific environment. Others were made to create better soldiers, pilots, or generals. Some were engineered to satisfy a bizarre fashion trend in a society where bioengineering is available to anyone with money. Such modifications are rarely seen in their original form by anyone besides the culture that created them. However, they live on in their descendants long after their originators were swallowed by regressive planetary catastrophes.

For example, Ordo sources tell of an entire world repopulated by the descendants of a small group of bio-engineered soldiers; the only survivors of a planetary nuclear war. Everyone on this world carried an obsessive sense of duty, minimal sexual impulses, and little sense of creativity. This culture became dominated by a conservative pan-planetary religion with little interest in technology. It lasted eleven centuries in this state until it was invaded by a stellar neighbor (who wisely avoided ground combat in favor of orbital bombardment).

The Ordo Historia has recorded and gene-sampled thousands of differently-engineered and adapted xenohumans. Among other notable traits in this genetic library, one may find.

  • Aquatic-adapted strains who can withstand breathing very high gas pressures and even survive days of immersion by exchanging oxygen through the skin (no true permanently-aquatic fish people have ever been confirmed).
  • Soldier variants carrying any of a large number of traits that various militaries have seen fit to bestow upon their people. Typically, they have large muscles and perfect eyesight. Some have minimized metabolisms made to digest a single kind of long-lasting nutrient solution, to make army logistics easier. Their lifespans are short - usually between ten and thirty years - and they grow up very fast. But the most significant differences are psychological. Engineered grunt soldiers are obedient, sense pain only in a distant way, obsessed with learning about weapons and war, and carry a strong need to be part of something larger than themselves. They are deliberately lacking in abstract intelligence and creativity. Engineered commanders are highly analytical, fascinated with military history, utterly cold under pressure, and masters at spatial visualization.
  • Radiological immunity is a very common adaptation; the Ordo estimates that most of humanity is more tolerant of radiation than our Terran progenitors.
  • Some worlds engineer “perfect mates” for the rich and powerful. Such specimens are created with bodies to match the fashions of their home worlds and the tastes of their owners. They tend to be obsessively submissive and devoted, totally without jealousy or self-regard, artistically inclined and endlessly cheerful. Such traits do not last long in an unrestricted evolutionary environment because they are so easy to exploit, but engineered mates are sometimes kept in longsleep long after their creation, to be traded into a post-catastrophe market that can no longer create them. The main contact most of us will ever have with such specimens is through their descendants, who, while they have most of the traits of the original in only a very diluted form, still occasionally express Mendelian traits like impossible eye shades or streaks of multicolored hair.
  • Fashion-driven genetic modifications are often applied during later life instead of prenatally, and are most often cosmetic and skin-deep. Variations in hair and skin color are common. More exotic modification add shining crests, color-changing skin and eyes, reshaped or elongated bodies, and colored nails, feathers, or fur.
  • Gravity variations create new body structures. People from low-g adapted populations are lighter, taller, and weaker than those from weightier environments. The most extreme examples are the gravity dwarfs, 3-foot-tall xenohumans from worlds of over 2g of gravity. Their short and stocky shape lets them live and work in comfortably in such oppressive g-pulls. They even have a noted preference for short and underground dwellings. It’s unresolved whether this preference is cultural or genetic in origin.

The biology of plants and animals

The adaptive and engineering processes that have branched baseline humanity into these uncounted variations have also applied to our flora and fauna. Where we colonize, we bring our ecosystems of plants and animals with us. These creatures subsequently adapt to their new conditions of moisture, chemistry, light levels, gravity, temperature, and seasonal cycles. In addition, plants and animals have been bred and engineered for countless purposes across the galaxy.

One consistent class of modification we’ve seen applied to a wide variety of creatures is intelligence enhancement. Dogs, pigs, monkeys, gorillas, whales, dolphins, and elephants have all been engineered and combined with human DNA to produce smarter variations. Some variants are created as pets. Other are made to do work too dangerous or unpleasant for humans, and beyond the capacities of a culture’s AI. Some are created as warriors and weapons - hyper-intelligent guard dog, a bird scout that can speak what is sees, a bomb-carrying suicide monkey. These brain modifications are often paired with physical changes - fingers so a pig can manipulate tools, or a humanlike larynx and mouth so a dog can talk.

Such intelligence-enhanced animals are collectively classified by their degree of brain power and called by a specific prefix like so:

  • Opti - Indicates enhanced but still sub-human intelligence. Optianimals can usually use tools, form long-term goals and organize into primitive social groups, but can’t speak more than a few words, read, or think abstractly. Optidog, optipig, optiwhale, optimonkey.
  • Trans - Indicates intelligence in the human range. Transanimals can read, use tools, form teams, hold conversations, and think about complex ideas. Transdog, transbear, transgoat, transsimian.

Many times, these modified animals have, during a regressive catastrophe, been forced into interbreeding with an unmodified animal population, producing descendants of widely varying levels of intelligence.

In a few cases, transanimals have become the dominant species on a planet, eliminating or enslaving the remaining humans.

Other than intelligence enhancement, humanity has applied a wide variety of modifications to its pets, crops, livestock, and houseplants. Sometimes these new species become part of the natural environment and thereafter evolve further into a new kind of organism. Some confirmed examples are:

  • Boomrat: A bioengineered rat that develops an incendiary chemical compound in its body which explodes upon its death. Originally engineered as a weapon, these creatures are now common in the wild on some planets where wars took place long ago.
  • Boomfruit: Probably engineered as a novelty, this explosive plant evolved to be larger and more dangerous until it became the equivalent of a hand grenade, complete with murderous shrapnel. Its explosiveness dissuades predators. After that, people learned to farm the plant, using its explosive fruit as a weapon.
  • Whip cactus - Created as part of a military defense system, whip cactus whips out and strikes moving creatures nearby.
  • Terraforming plants: Many plants - especially desert varieties - have been modified into terraforming versions that emit far more oxygen than the original species during photosynthesis.
  • Rocketrees - These trees form rocket fuel in their cores over many years. They were created as a fuel source and are extremely dangerous in a fire.

Welcome!

We realize this may be a lot to take in. However, don’t worry. People just like you live full lives in our universe, and our studies have indicated that the great majority of longsleepers do adapt within a few years and make good lives for themselves. So - welcome!

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