Action: The Theme that makes your character into an action movie hero.
Biotech: Technology derived from biology and related sciences. Its contributions to the modern age are too numerous to list – a truly ubiquitous technology, it includes all medical and agricultural methods. As a Capability, Biotech represents your character’s physical health, including strength, stamina, and running speed.
Cargo Cult: A civilization that did not entirely succeed, but did not entirely die out. Most are focused around a single surviving piece of technology, especially one that might be self-repairing or genetically inherited. Cargo cults are a common type of civilization in most settings.
Capability: Your character’s ratings in the five basic types of technology: Biotech, Cognitech, Metatech, Nanotech, and Stringtech.
Civilization: In general, a culture and nation. When capitalized, Civilization refers to one of the major groups of humanity spread across the universe. In mechanical terms, each Civilization gives its citizens a pair of Core Values and a special benefit. Each character must pick a home Civilization.
Cognitech: Technology derived from cognitive science. Advanced calculation modes, fast-learning procedures, and sophisticated research techniques fall under Cognitech, but its best-known product is the Nanowire Mesh. As a Capability, Cognitech rates your character’s mental faculties, from rational thought to creativity and intuition.
Comprehension: The Theme that gives your character insights into the world.
Core Values: (CVs) The most important things in your character’s life, the points of his or her moral compass. Characters typically have five Core Values: two of their own, two taken from the Civilization in which they were born, and Self-Preservation.
Empathy: The Theme that makes others trust and confide in your character.
Expertise: The skills and knowledge that your character has obtained. Some characters have Expertise limited to just a few professions; others are competent in many fields or fantastically focused in a single area.
GM Character: A character controlled by the Game Master rather than by the players. Also referred to as an NPC (non-player character).
Infosphere: The successor to the Internet, the Infosphere is far more pervasive and immense. Its name comes from the idea that it blankets a planet in much the same way that the planet’s atmosphere does. Nearly every piece of computing equipment – which means nearly every device in a high-tech civilization – contributes to the Infosphere.
Intrigue: The Theme that gives your character an involvement in politics and espionage.
Lens: A program run on a Mesh to change one’s viewpoint or emotions. Lenses can also provide talents and skills. They are perhaps the most potent and best-known applications of the neural mesh.
Magnetism: The Theme that allows your character to attract a following or inspire others.
Mesh: A computer-brain interface, composed of millions of nanowires woven through the brain and connected to a small but powerful computer housed elsewhere in the body. Meshes are the basis of high-level Cognitech.
Metatech: Technology derived from social sciences. Memetics and psychohistory are its most famous products. As a Capability, Metatech rates your character’s social skills, from making friends to orating to designing societies.
Nanotech: Technology derived from chemistry and quantum physics. Almost all sensors and modern construction techniques come from nanotechnology. As a Capability, Nanotech represents your character’s senses and manual dexterity.
Neuroform: The form that your character’s mind takes. Is it physical or just composed of data? Is your character a single person or a group-mind?
Nanowire Mesh: See Mesh.
Player Character: A character controlled by a player, rather than one controlled by the GM. Also sometimes called a “main character.” Player characters have access to Themes; GM characters do not.
Psychohistory: A predictive theory of history, allowing probabilistic forecasts of future events. Works best on large groups.
Romance: The Theme that lets your character attract or deflect the romantic attentions of others.
Stringtech: Technology derived from string theory and its successors, the “ultimate theories” of physics. Known for many dozens of warlike inventions, and also for transmutation chambers and wormholes. As a Capability, Capability rates your character’s ability to deal and prevent physical damage.
Tech Score: A combined rating of a character’s technological prowess, determined by a combination of Capabilities and Expertise. The trade-off between Tech and Import is the central balance of the game.
Terror: The Theme that brings horror elements into the game, either for your character or for those nearby.
Theme: Your ability to change the plot in specific ways. You can spend Twists through one of these scores to effect changes in the world. The eight Themes are Action, Comprehension, Empathy, Intrigue, Magnetism, Romance, Terror, and Wonder. Characters have a descriptor in each Theme that determines where they are applicable. Players know about their characters’ Themes, but the characters themselves do not!
Twists: Points allotted to each player, with which they can change the course of the game. Twists are spent “through” various Themes to effect changes in the story that your character might not be capable of creating. You start each session with a number equal to your Import, and they are generally gained as bad things happen to your character.
Wonder: The Theme that creates a sense of awe and brings fantastic things into the game.