Echo is a planet of large cities and great views. An expensive place to live, but PRISM would tell you it's worth every penny. It presents a culture based in French New-Wave mold-breaking and focus on aesthetics, a place where your popularity matters more than any skills you may have, new arrivals are handed personality tests, and how many followers on Telescope you have could put you in a position of leadership. This has generated a culture of vying for celebrity status. People record and upload themselves all the time, doing PRISM's work for them. Tests are run constantly, on workers, on children, on everyone. Visually the planet is Earth-like although much smaller and more glacial due to the below-average temperature. The atmosphere was engineered by pre-scream technology and occasionally creates a purple-ish aurora around the planet. This phenomenon is theorized to be a side effect of the atmosphere protecting the planets surface from solar flares of the local sun.
- Sapphire: A roughly triangular-shaped continent in the southern hemisphere that stretches to the southern pole of Echo. Two thirds of the continent are covered year round in ice and glaciers. This is the least populous of Echo's three continents.
- Emerald: Crescent shaped continent (inverse C) centered on the equator. The remnant of a catastrophic geologic event that resulted in a massive crater, Emerald has a diameter of roughly 4,000 kilometers. The crescent landmass runs from ten kilometers at its most narrow, to 1,500 kilometers at its widest. This is the most populous of Echo’s three continents.
- Ruby: A broad and long continent, Ruby runs from the equator all the way to the northern pole of Echo. Roughly one third of this continent remains covered in ice and glaciers year round. The most notable features of this continent are the abundant mountain ranges that stretch across the eastern part through the middle of Ruby, and much of the continent between the mountains and the northern ice sheets is covered in desert.
Echo’s biosphere is completely artificial, with the original plant and animals replaced with Terran genetic stock transported to Acheron Rho by House Cygnus and organisms engineered to fill a perceived need.
The problem is that the plants and animals that were introduced are only a portion of the actual food web that would normally exist on Earth. Echo has all the plants and animals you know about from "that book you read about Earth in school,” but a functional ecology consists of tens of millions of different plant, animal, fungal, and microbial species, so Echo is constantly riding the fine line between paradise and ecological collapse.
As a result PRISM is forced devote an substantial amount of labor to maintaining the existing ecosystem, which until recently consisted of synths.
Following the Synth War, PRISM has been forced to shift a staggering number of Extras and Quality Assurance personnel over to the Echo Ecological Maintenance Corp. in order to ensure the planetary ecology remains in balance. The shift has prevented outright collapse, and even ensured that the important tourist locations remain pristine, but if you travel outside the beaten path you can start to see things starting to fray.
The largest cities on Echo are located on or near the site of original settlements dating back to the Rebuilding, and are primarily situated near rivers or oceans. These cities typically have names referencing different birds of prey as a nod to the Emperox who founded the Prism Network. A few notable examples include Talon, Peregrine, Claw, Kestrel, and Sparrow.
- Talon, the capital city of Echo, is the home of the Echo Chamber. The megalopolis spreads across much of the northwestern arch of Emerald. The city is named after the great spire in the center of the old city, which is one of the most visible monuments to the Blood Eagle's original purpose for the Echo settlements.
- The Talon (Landmark) has been re-purposed multiple times in an effort to distance the city from its history, but those efforts fail with unusual regularity. Numerous conspiracy theories abound, but all are staunchly denied by the PRISM Network.
- Peregrine, an icy city in Ruby's middle third, was originally Echo's primary fuel and ore mining station until the mines dried up. Peregrine's economy quickly collapsed and it looked like the entire continent of Ruby would follow after it until a PRISM executive from the area decided to gentrify the entire region. Now a tourist spot popular with lower income nobles interested in wonderful views and rubbing elbows with less illustrious original residents, Peregrine has become famous for its famously fast and destructive blade racing circuit.
- Claw, the most infamous city in Sapphire, has its origins as staff housing for one of the Blood Eagle's most famous prison camps. The glacial site was known for an extremely low rate of survival among the imprisoned population, and its interrogations and medical centers are known throughout the sector as the site of nearly unspeakable acts of callousness. Records show that even among the Blood Eagle's supporters, the Claw was a place that was more comfortable to ignore. Now the original camp site serves as a museum and a testament to the cruelty of humanity, and the city is a site of pilgrimage for the Church of Humanity, Repentant and the Church of the Messiah-as-Emperox alike.
- Kestrel, the second largest city on Echo, is also located on Emerald. Kestrel is a warm and hospitable place filled with sandy beaches and a university atmosphere. Originally one of Talon's largest commuter cities, a number of PRISM subsidiaries and famous directors got their start in Kestrel's university sprawl. Eventually enough free-spirited media talents moved their headquarters closer to home, and Kestrel began to take on a life of its own. Come here to rub elbows with the stars and catch a martini at the bar.
- Sparrow is symbolically situated directly opposite of Talon on Emerald. Originally an agricultural resource area managed by A.C.R.E., Sparrow was chosen to house the beating financial heart of the PRISM Network not because the farm land was particularly disposable, but because the symbolic separation between money and content was deemed essential to the network's integrity. A city of silvered skyscrapers, Sparrow is filled with a mix of analysts, investors, marketers, and scientists. A place often mocked for its overly shiny trilli-laced culture, Sparrow is often rumored to have an especially wild night scene filled with grungy semi-legal distractions for the overworked elite.
Echo is home to several smaller settlements and support cities, many of which are agricultural or manufacturing towns, though there are also many semi-permanent location shoots and creative retreats. Most smaller cities are named after elements of the Hebrew alphabet, including:
Aleph, Bet, Gimel, Dalet, He, Vav, Zayin, Het, Tet, Yod, Kaf, Lamed, Mem, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Pe, Tsadi, Qof, Resh, Shin, and Tav.
PRISM’s Hard Light Analytics reported Echo’s population is 548,722,968 as of January 1, 3200, and is growing at a rate of 11,196 people per day, or one person every eight seconds. The population of Echo is divided between its three continents as follows:
- 363,023,712 living on Emerald
- 148,667,459 living on Ruby
- 37,031,797 living on Sapphire
Echo has no regional dialect. The planetary education system focuses on ensuring all citizens living on Echo learn the IP accent, the Imperial Pronunciation used across the sector for official imperial broadcasts
PRISM’s Hard Light Analytics reported that as of January 1, 3200, 71.8% of the population on Echo identified as members of The High Church of Messiah-as-Emperox, and 28.2% of the population identifying as members of The Church of Humanity, Repentant.
The Echo Chamber
The Echo Chamber itself resembles a tiered, inverted pyramid. It is designed to resemble both a prism and the cochlea of the human ear, symbolizing both the PRISM Network's namesake and it's business of collecting human intelligence by listening to the rest of the sector. Each tier is off-center and can rotate and move to accommodate the constant promotions, demotions, and lateral career changes of the PRISM Network's staff.
Visitors and new employees often get lost inside the Echo Chamber without a guide. Hallways and offices often shift to other parts of the building without warning, creating a maze of dead ends and empty cubicles.
Main restaurant of the Eritque Arcus in Lucem Opera House in Talon's old city.
The Mox Tiger Eye is the latest restaurant to operate as the resident refreshments vendor at the Eritque Arcus opera in Talon's historic downtown. Dating back to the cultural renaissance led by the Masked Emperox, the Eritque Arcus is a palatial building in the old style. Luxurious velvet carpeting framed by intricately carved railings and ceilings are a staple of the opera's design - but its most famous feature is the luminous black marble adorning the columns, tile-work, and statuary throughout the opera house. The Mox Tiger Eye is no exception, and those who choose to drink and dine at one of their tables do so among polished counters and columns with slowly shifting rainbow light filtering through veins in black marble. Exceptionally trained wait staff in formal uniform treat guests with royal and discrete service, allowing any with the money to experience a taste of old Lyran court life, making the Mox Tiger Eye itself a destination even among those who otherwise would not care for opera.
The Grove Amphitheater
Located in the city of Kestrel, the Grove Amphitheater is a large natural concert hall that was not built, but instead of grown over the course of a century. The natural wood space was carefully grown by the Tayrathm, a local group of academics who wanted to create a unique performance space by carefully guiding, pruning, and weaving the roots and branches of the trees that make the walls and ceiling of the amphitheater together. The end result is a wondrous space where everything, from the seats, stage, and canopied roof above, is a living part of the building.
Tomb of the Fallen
The Tomb of the Fallen is a popular tourist attraction located on Psion Island, a large island located in the heart of the Emerald Sea. It stands on a tall hill overlooking the shattered ruins of an unknown civilization.
The Tomb is a ziggurat made from an unknown material that cannot be scratched, burned, or damaged in any way, and all attempts to scan either the material inside the ziggurat by scientific or psychic means have failed. It is featureless, save for a plaque affixed to one wall with a message engraved in old English indicating the structure is at least 1,000 years old. It is currently believed that the Tomb holds the bodies of the psychics who conquered the planet in the name of humanity and seeded Echo with Terran life.
The plaque reads as follows:
Here lies the fallen.
We came here to start over, thinking we were better then what we left behind.
Smarter, more noble, worthy of the legacy we wanted to forge.
We thought we were gods.
We were wrong.
We were given the knowledge and power needed to make this world a paradise.
Instead all that remains is this echo of what we left behind.
To those who read this understand I had no choice.
And to the Legion, I am so sorry.
The people of Echo have a focus on both making and breaking the mold, and looking great while doing it. looking good is a given, one would never set foot outside being dressed for less than a fancy date. Even serfs end up well-dressed as it reflects on their employer. Popular culture moves on a faster timetable than most, cultural actions and reactions happening almost simultaneously, but it's always about putting on the best show.
Due to the lack of faster then light communication, The trends that Echo makes and reports on tend to be older news by the time they reach the rest of the sector. If you want to be at the forefront of culture, you have to live on Echo
Echo has many food and drink items that can be found all around the sector, but local products are specifically designed for Echo citizens.
Administered by the company “The IR” (Individual Review) is the “test” referred to by the Mandarinate. The Interviews are a week long ordeal undertaken by every citizen every 5 years after they turn 16 that determines the social class they’re in, as well as the specific job they will have. The Interview tests not only the on-screen aptitude of a citizen but also their physical prowess, mental aptitude, and general knowledge. The physical portion is an obstacle course that is televised. Unless you pay a high fee, you can only qualify to Interview every 5 years.
All people upon landing on Echo must undergo a simplified version of the Auditions to be properly evaluated for ad potential and job offers if a subsidiary is looking to hire directly.
The Cast(e) System
Editors: They are called Editors for a reason. They edit and are responsible for overreaching systems of the planet/wider PRISM. An Editor of Advertising has the power and authority to change any and all advertisements for the region they are responsible for. An Editor of Intelligence is responsible for all data collection, counterintelligence, and education for their region. The format applies to any Editor, and an executive Editor is an individual responsible for all Editors of their department.
Talent: These are the people who have the high paying jobs of the modern day. Lawyers, doctors, any highly specialized field. This also includes high profile movie and TV personalities, as well as higher management at corporations like CEOs or CFOs.
Crew: The general working class. These are the pencil pushers, the small business owners, the store managers.
Extras: These are the people who do the job a robot could do better, but studies have found that real people lead to better sales. Jobs such as waiter/waitress, washing vehicles, call centers, etc. There’s a common phrase on billboards “Every Editor was once an Extra” to emphasize how through auditions even a simple busboy can get discovered and advance the social ladder. Their hours are regulated so that they can only work part-time, the rest of the time must be spent consuming media.
Quality Assurance (QA): These are people who have been found through interviews to only be good for testing and consuming products. They have a daily advertisement quota and must attend meetings in which they test products/shows.
Others/Misc.: Outside of the system are “consumers”. These are new arrivals, visitors to the planet or the people who live outside the cities on the fringes of society. Some even go as far as living in the wild, shunt every civil contact and do not participate in society. These nutjobs are most often referred to as “Offliners”.
Looks on Echo never go below 'a nice night out', even for grabbing a morning drink. One never knows when you could run into an Editor and find yourself pushed to stardom. Between the trends pushed by PRISM and the 'Voyante', as well as the intensely mixed and appropriation happy culture, it's hard to pin down any staple of Echo beyond that simple premise.
- Voyante: A subculture of Echo dedicated to being ahead of, and breaking, the curve of popular trends, often dressed in wild and garish ways, preferring to call themselves Avant-Garde
Crime and Punishment
Due to the nature of Echo being heavily monitored and regulated, crimes are often stopped before they happen, leading to one of the lowest crimes rates in the sector. Crimes on Echo are often of a passionate and rebellious nature.
If you commit a crime, the punishment is often times very direct and wholly televised. E.g. steal a car and you get hunted down on live T.V. Small crimes can result in public shaming on talk shows and almost guaranteed failure in your next interview and demotion below Extra. Crimes with victims are reimbursed via the earnings of whatever program the criminal appears on.
More serious crimes along the lines of murder are treated discreetly and without commotion, often not put out for public consumption until the matter is dealt with and the story can be put out as tragic as possible.
Whether the populace is aware of it or not, every single business on the planet (from the smallest coffee shop to the privatized police force) is in some way owned by PRISM. The people are too concerned arguing over whether Coke is better than Dr. Pepper to realize that they’re both owned by the same company.
The world is a considerable cultural power in the sector, producing music, art, philosophy, or some similar intangible that their neighbors find irresistably attractive. Other worlds might have a profound degree of cultural cachet as the inheritor of some venerable artistic tradition.
- Murderously eccentric artist
- Crazed fans
- Failed artist with an obsessive grudge
- Critic with a crusade to enact
- Struggling young artist
- Pupil of the artistic tradition
- Scholar of the art
- Offworlder hating the source of corrupting alien ways
- The art is slowly lethal to its masters
- The art ismentally or physically addictive
- The art is a fragment of ancient technical or military science
- The instrument of a legendary master
- The only copy of a dead master's opus
- Proof of intellectual property ownership
- Recording or performance studio
- Public festival choked with tourists
- Monument to the dead master of the art
The planet is ruled by an intellectual elite chosen via ostensibly neutral examinations or tests. The values this system selects for may or may not have anything to do with actual practical leadership skills, and the examinations may be more or less corruptible.
- Corrupt test administrator
- Incompetent but highly-rated graduate
- Ruthless leader of a clan of high-testing relations
- Crusader for test reform
- Talented but poorly-connected graduate
- Genius who tests badly
- The test is totally unrelated to necessary governing skills
- The test was very pertinent in the past but tech or culture has changes
- The test is for a skill that is vital to maintaining society but irrelevant to day-to-day governance
- The test is a sham and passage is based on wealth or influence
- Answer key to the next test
- Lost essay of incredible merit
- Proof of cheating
- Massive structure full of test-taking cubicles
- School filled with desperate students
- Ornate government building decorated with scholarly quotes and academic images
The world is dominated by classic cyberpunk-esque megacorporations, each one far more important than the vestigial national remnants that encompass them. These megacorps are usually locked in a cold war, trading and dealing with each other even as they try to strike in deniable ways. An over-council of corporations usually acts to bring into line any that get excessively overt in their activities.
- Megalomaniacal executive
- Underling looking to use the PCs as catspaws
- Ruthless mercenary who wants what the PCs have
- Victim of megacorp scheming
- Offworlder merchant in far over their head
- Local reformer struggling to cope with megacorp indifference
- The megacorps are the only source of something vital to life on this world
- An autonomous Mandate system acts to punish excessively overt violence
- The megacorps are struggling against much more horrible national governments
- Blackmail on a megacorp exec
- Keycodes to critical corp secrets
- Proof of corp responsibility for a heinously unacceptable public atrocity
- Data on a vital new product line coming out soon
- A place plastered in megacorp ads
- A public plaza discreetly branded
- Private corp military base
- Moon Base - Milankovic 3
- Occupation: Remnants of a failed colony
- Situation: Something dark has awoken
- Research Station
- Occupation: Secret employees of a foreign power
- Situation: Hideously immoral research
- Moon Base - Tignish 7
- Occupation: Unlucky corporate researchers
- Situation: Desperate for vital supplies
A "Harvest Moon" with farms, mines, and other supporting industries. Imperial owned, but run using ACRE assets.
Something of a backwater for the Empire, mostly exports material as part of a trade deal between ACRE and PRISM.
Occupation: Brainless automated vendors
Situation: A ship is in severe distress