|Note: This page does not actively track the official lore. For up-to-date/current lore, please see: https://github.com/tgstation/common_core|
What This Is Not
This is not an exhaustive effort to catalog the universe of SS13 in great detail, as with Baystation. Rather, it is a collection of ideas and starting points for you to use IC with other players to generate interesting conversations and events. It is as close to canonical lore as you will get for the /tg/station codebase, however people are not required to use this lore, nor are maintainers bound to it.
The year is 2560. The universe is in flux, as giant megacorporations escalate from covert treachery and assassinations to outright skirmishing, government organizations desperately try to reign in and project power over said corporations as they expand to the farthest reaches of space, and fantastic and fascinating scientific advancements are constantly being made then destroyed. But by standing too far back and looking at the big picture, it's easy to miss out on the most compelling parts of life in the 26th century. These are the stories of the people, pets, silicons, and everything else in between who have become involved with Nanotrasen and their ventures.
Space Station 13 as a destination has reached near-mythical proportions among the adventurous types since its initial launch in 2548. It began, along with a series of similar stations, as a small, highly classified and secretive plasma research facility far in the depths of the peripheral edges of civilized space. Access to it was kept incredibly hush-hush, and while staffing standards weren't great due to a distinct lack of qualified personnel wishing to disappear for undisclosed periods of time to go to a research station no one knew the location of to study topics unknown, Nanotrasen managed to keep the facility afloat more-or-less. There were a good number of security incidents, and life aboard the station was dangerous and fraught with threats from enemy agents to dark magicks and more, and the entire station has been detonated or disappeared more than a handful of times only to be rebuilt by hand, but the minerals and knowledge coming back more than made up for the considerable expenses.
Over time, however, as former members of these stations snuck away from Nanotrasen's grip back towards the civilized galaxy through a variety of means (escape pods, hijacked shuttles, smuggling themselves out on supply and personnel shuttles, etc), Nanotrasen executives began to panic. Anxious to share the horrors and abuses they suffered at the hands of Nanotrasen's carelessness and greed, former crewmembers began publishing exposés and speaking out about the nature of life with Nanotrasen on the periphery. Despite early success with wetworks attempts at silencing the outspoken individuals, by 2555, there was enough testimony and corroborating material to finally force TerraGov, the premier galactic government, to begin a hesitant inquisition into NT. The stories of crewmembers from Space Station 13 gained the most attention and became the face of the growing scandal.
By early 2557, Nanotrasen's elite was in a state of near-complete terror. The stories of their abuses and disdain for the lives of their workers in pursuit of the almighty Space Dollar had reached a fever pitch, and more and more it seemed like the large government contracts that made up the bulk of NT's income would evaporate into thin air. The Syndicate, the loose coalition of smaller companies set up to sabotage NT, were counting the days until NT would collapse.
It was at this point that something no sane person could have ever predicted came to pass. The steady flow of skilled yet unstable workers to NT's Periphery, which any rational person would have expected to sink like a stone in response to the constant scandals, actually began to increase. Somehow, despite the popularly known tales of widespread violence and abuses, more people began to make the trek Spinward to find employment on these stations. How could this be?
As it turned out, the public at large adored the dangerous and desperate tales that the former crewmembers wove about life on these stations. To the utter bewilderment of the whistleblowers, the public interpreted these stories as heroic and brave in a time of relative ease and comfort in the core system. Swarms and swarms of skilled workers sought out employment on the Spinward Periphery, the most prestigious and competitive location being Space Station 13.
And so it's gone for the last few years. Now, in 2559, Nanotrasen actually has an entire media department dedicated to telling heroic, propaganda laced tales of daring and adventure onboard their stations, as more and more hapless individuals succumb to the meat grinder. Nanotrasen has managed a healthy rebound and recovery, much to the chagrin of workplace reformers and the Syndicate, though they aren't completely out of the woods yet. Government investigations and sanctions continue to plague NT as they continue diversifying towards the private sector, and it's become readily apparent that the kind of crewmember willing to work for NT for the thrill of it all is more than happy to double their fun and succumb to various Enemy Organizations of the Corporation. Asset losses are reaching astronomical levels as NT tries to regain control of their growth, which now outstrips their income sources and is beginning to bite into their cash reserves.
It is into this world that the crewmembers of SS13 now enter. There are many reasons to become a crewmember on a Space Station as dangerous as SS13, whether it be the attractive hazard pay, the academic clout that comes with contributing to an NT publication, the promise of a fresh start in spite of past sins, or simply the thrill of surviving one day at a time. Cloning aside, no two crewmembers are quite the same, as they all meld together with their unique experiences and skills to try and survive until the end of their contracts to reap the rewards of their work. And, of course, they look to make the most of their time in an environment so completely removed from normal life as being an employee of NT. Basic Setting Tenets
The following is a collection of basic things to keep in mind with the CC Universe
- The mood and feel of CC should reflect the nature of the game: fast, loose, and heavily improvised. This isn't an indictment against structure and depth, SS13 is after all an incredibly deep game that keeps people coming back for years, but it's very important to keep the medium in mind when writing for it. Conversations between players in SS13, even ones in the bar during a slow round, tend to be terse and more focused on the immediate environment and situation rather than longer, wandering digressions, and writing for CC should keep this in mind. See the next section for guidelines on what to write about and how.
- The setting is not grim-stupid. SS13 is not one big social experiment to see what happens if you send a bunch of mental rejects into a nonsensical metal deathtrap (though there may be many social experiments of a smaller scale running at any given time), and the suits and command staff working behind the scenes to keep SS13 running aren't the kind to just throw crewmember lives into the trash en masse because they feel like it unless the admins think it's REALLY funny (NOT CANON), though it's definitely not in your best interest to draw too much attention to yourself. There's lots of shady, shady stuff going on around the station, but when it comes to the fate of resources with significant value, it should be played more like Burke from Aliens than a temperamental child throwing away an expensive toy without a care in the world. (More on interactions with Centcom specifically later)
- Nanotrasen is a massive and powerful megacorp that operates with effective extraterritoriality on the Periphery where SS13 operates, but they're not impervious to outside forces. Were they to get too far out of line and take on too many enemies at once, the combined mass of bureaucracy from the galaxy's various governments and direct action from other private interests could readily dismantle NT after a protracted fight. In fact, this is exactly the nightmare situation NT is currently going through, as public sentiment grows against them with each successive scandal. While the company is currently experiencing a short-term boom from useful idiots prospective crew members as a result of the romanticization of life on their nonsensical metal death traps, NT's leadership knows it won't last forever, and is doing everything in their power to prepare for their next moves.
Misc Setting Assertions
Random things and facts that don't deserve their own article or I haven't gotten to yet.
- Travel from Sol's core to the Spinward Periphery takes anywhere from upwards of a few months for slower mass cargo freighters to a few weeks aboard an average long-distance mass transit ship. Unlike travel to Alpha Centauri, which benefits heavily from TerraGov's attention and investments, the Spinward Periphery remains mostly in the hands and sights of private interests who either have their own transport fleets or contract it out with one of the firms that do. Rumor has it that some of NT's new experimental bluespace drives could cut the trip down to a few days with good conditions, though said rumors usually also mention catastrophic failures of a grotesque nature as a byproduct.
- Travelling back to Sol on anything other than official NT business would likely be an extended vacation or off-rotation. Hardly nipping down to the shops halfway across the galaxy for a carton of milk, you know.
- Non-NT owned housing for Spinward employees generally lays within the borders of the Spinward Stellar Coalition, which is a day or two away from SS13's dispatch station. Life in the SSC is usually pretty austere, but NT's company stores keep its employees in considerably more luxury than the average Spinward resident as long as they're making decent bank.
- Sol is prosperous by and large, though there's a great deal of variation within the solar system (being an entire solar system, obviously).
- Terra in particular is a very expensive place to live, and serves as the capital planet for TerraGov's government (no shit). The main reasons to live there vs. anywhere cheaper and less crowded in Sol are because you have a good job with TerraGov's bureaucracy, you're someone important or looking to rub elbows with important people, or you're very interested in the history of mankind. A great deal of old architecture from centuries past still stands outside richer areas, and the planet is regarded as a bizarre melding of human history across history all coexisting in one place.
- Most other settlements, both on other planets and on man-made space structures, are easily dated by their construction style and aesthetic to the range of a few decades, as they start out with a unified design and are slowly replaced and repaired bit by bit afterwards using newer technologies and trends.
For further reading look at our Backstory set of pages